Saturday, December 28, 2013

Behind The Tap's Top 10 Beers of 2013

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Hello readers!

As we come to the close of another year, we figured we'd compile a list of our selections for best beers we've had this year. It's been a roller coaster, but we think we've narrowed it down.

Nathan's Selections:
(in no particular order)

Flying Monkeys Smashbomb Atomic IPA
We recently discovered this, but it's left a lasting impact on my tastebuds. I cannot wait to have more of this sliding down my throat.

Three Floyds Arctic Panzer Wolf
The tropical fruit and citrus of the hops have made this linger in my mind, I cannot wait to find another release of this (why is it Three Floyds brews are hard to find in Ohio?!).

Knee Deep Simtra
We had this back in January. Damn, has it really almost been a year? This left such a lasting impact that I've been CONSTANTLY searching for this. Knee Deep is really hard to find, and hopefully when they expand their capacity, we'll obtain more Simtra.

Founders Harvest
We're actually enjoying the last of our stash of this while compiling this list. Clearly I'm a hop head. Okay, fine, I have a problem with loving hops....

Flying Dog Gonzo...but you wouldn't think I'd forget one of my Doggies from the list did you? Gonzo, the Imperial Porter named for the man, the myth, the legend; Dr. Hunter S. Thompson. There's a reason this beer has been a perpetual favorite of mine since roughly 2008 (when I literally stumbled upon it).

With my favorite 5 of the year being chosen, I turn it over to my partner-in-zymurgy.

Jennie's Selections:
(in no particular order)

Knee Deep McCarthy's BaneThis is the beer that changed red ales for me. The artwork, the hoppiness, the name, the amazing balance to this beer made me want more of it, particularly weekly while watching "The Americans" on TV when it returns in February. Make it happen, please. Someone. Anyone.

Bell's The Oracle
This became my new Hopslam, particularly since Hopslam was, well, less hoppy this year. Ha. I'm wearing my Hopslam shirt right now. Can't wait til January (when Hopslam will be released), but The Oracle quickly wormed it's way into my heart and wiggled into an overlapping spot of favorite beer ever.

Stone/Two Brothers/Aleman Dayman IPA
This was the perfect combination of two of my favorite beverages, coffee and beer. We had both been intrigued when this became available, because Nathan has been wanting to make a coffee IPA for a couple of years. I just hope that, when we do, it's at least half as good as this. It's an interesting combination, but in this brew, it worked oh-so-well.

St Bernardus Abt 12One of my goals for 2013 was to expand my horizons on the Belgian front. We've sampled several, and this was my favorite (Orval and Trappistes Rochefort 10 deserve honorable mentions, as well). It's such a complex beer, wonderfully nuanced and with such wonderful flavors, my stomach starts growling as soon as I contemplate cheese pairings (Havarti might be a fantastic start, as would be a great Parmiggiano-Reggiano, but those are both for actual sampling and not just what I am plotting).

Thirsty Dog Citra DogMy love of hops is well-documented. This particular beer stood out to me because it's relatively local, it's a fantastic showcase of my favorite hop strain, and it's fantastically crafted. This should be on constant rotation in our refrigerator.

Honorable Mention
We have both loved Stone's Enjoy By series that it certainly deserves honorable mention. Each time it's released in Ohio, we procure a bottle (we stopped reviewing it each time because the recipe doesn't change). It's solidly fantastic, a great showcase beer from a fantastic brewer.
With that, we hope you are enjoying your end of 2013. Personally, I can't wait for this year to be over and to usher in 2014 with a bang (and several craft beers, of course).

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Bloody Mary recipe

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Jennie's bloody marys are known around our group, in fact, it's one of the reasons I fell for her -Nathan-

We've decided to share this with all as a Holiday gift for our readers.

1 1/2 ounces bacon or pepper vodka
3 ounces tomato juice
1 tsp horseradish
Couple dashes Worcestershire sauce
Celery salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Garlic powder
Onion powder
Old Bay or similar seafood seasoning blend
Couple dashes hot sauce of your choice

Blend all ingredients in a Boston shaker and shake
until combined. Garnish with a dill pickle spear and a
piece of bacon cooked until crisp.

Now, that is the traditional version.  If you'd like to swap out the vodka for beer, by all means do so.

To all of you readers, cheers and Happy Holidays.

-Jennie and Nathan-

Monday, December 16, 2013

Ithaca Beer Co. The Creeker

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I'm still in a state of sheer bliss following the holy-crapballs-why-is-it-gone Flying Monkey's Smashbomb Atomic IPA. How in the world do you follow up that? With another IPA, of course. In fact, it's a Double IPA from Ithaca, the makers of the super yummy Flower Power. Sure, it's bitterly cold outside and an IPA seems a little out of season. Eh, we're a little rogue like that. We like our hop bombs year round.

So that I might get to bed at a decent hour and still be a productive mommy tomorrow, let's get on with this. It pours a hazy, pale orange-yellow color, almost the color of a blond maple wood, with a diminutive white head that has dissipated since we poured it. This clocks in at 9% ABV, so this is not unexpected. The aroma is fantastic: a burst of pine needles, orange, grapefruit, and a bit of tangerine with some faint alcohol esters sneaking in to singe the nose. The flavor is just as intriguing and wonderful as the aroma. The tangerine hits the taste buds first, then fades into pine resin, grapefruit, and the alcohol sting floats in and out, as do notes of caramel sweetness. It finishes rather dry. At times, there's almost a soapy note to it, but I think that's just the alcohol peeking through the complex flavors of this. It's really good. It's not as floral as Flower Power, but it's equally fantastic and, in my opinion, more complex. Each sip is just enough different from the last to keep you intrigued.

This is available as part of Ithaca's IPA mixed pack, although it seems that it can also be found on tap. I'll definitely be keeping an eye out for this on draft.

I'm pretty well stupefied into a state of sheer hop bliss right now, so I'll turn this over to my hop-lover-in-kind, and let him praise Hopsus once or thrice.

5/5 caps -- I really love tangerine


Ah, Ithaca, your Flower Power has brought me joyous moments of IPA-fueled drunken karaoke. Now I get to try it's bigger brother, The Creeker. Thank you for that.

We purchased this at Wine & Brew Emporium off the recommendation of the owner (who is also a hop head). He has yet to steer us wrong, especially with the Flying Monkeys. To be honest, I'm still in a state of bliss from the Flying Monkeys.

The aroma on this is Pine, Citrus and almost, well, pineapple and something dank. A little boozy in the nose, which doesn't shock me with the 9% ABV. The appearance is already described by my beautiful Hop-Loving-Partner (HLP). Onto the taste, which saddens me that I have to rid myself of the still resonating stickiness of the Flying Monkeys (even after a Burger Classic). And those sad feeling are gone, now replaced with a new happiness. Wow, hop bomb as well. Well, there's tangerine, grapefruit, pine and a hints of boozy notes. This has a medium mouthfeel as it goes from the lips to the throat, followed by a heavy hop resin left on the mouth and tongue, making you smack your lips and pry your tongue off the roof of your mouth in sheer bliss (unless you don't care for hops, then it's in sheer terror).

This... This beer. This and the Flying Monkeys in one night. This is one of those nights where you happen to look up to the sky, a choir of angelic beings singing in perfect 5-part harmony draw your attention to the black clouds that are opening, revealing a giant, beam of the purest light you've ever seen. An outline of a figure appears on the other side of this beam of light. This figure has no hate in it's heart. It's accepting of all. You realize that the glorious Hopsus has blessed you with a state of bliss and ecstasy. The resiny feel in your mouth makes it so you're unable to even thank him, but he knows. Oh yes, Hopsus is omnipresent and is aware of your thankfulness. Hopsus be praised!

5/5 caps


Sunday, December 15, 2013

Flying Monkeys Smashbomb Atomic IPA

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Now, normally when there is a "Flying" in the brewery name, it's a Flying Dog selection. This internal mind struggle makes me feel like I'm cheating on my favorite brewery with a different flying mammal, but I have to remember that Flying Monkey is Canadian, so it's a different beast to begin with. Anyways, we were excited to see this at Wine & Brew Emporium. Why? Well, first the label is pretty rocking, kind of a throw back to vintage movies, and second, this is a craft beer from Canada. I had to let that sink in for a minute. I'm not familiar with many Canadian brews here (Labatt's and Molson are about the only ones that pop out in my mind).

I can't really find out much about their history online aside from the owner went to Mississippi, realized good beer vs bad beer, and started home brewing. You'll have that with any brewer at some point. So with that being said, I delve into this, eyes and nose first.

This pours an crystal clear amber color with a small amount of white head that sticks around. The aroma on this Citra heavy, 70 IBU, 6.0% ABV brew is amazing. A nice caramel sweetness lends itself to citrus, pine, and tropical fruit notes given off by the hops. The flavor on this is something else. It seems heavier than only 70 IBUs. This is a blast from the first sip all the way through aftertaste, going through the different flavors of a heavily hopped beer. There's a nice citrus peel bite at first, notes of tropical fruit and pine throughout. The malt flavor isn't as present in the flavor as it is the aroma, a little on the front end, but fading quickly to the power of the all mighty HOP. This is a Hop Lovers Beer! HOPSUS BE PRAISED! This has a slightly watery mouthfeel, smooth drinking with perfect amount of carbonation. That super heavy resiny feel it leaves all over the mouth after a sip makes me want to go out and buy more.

I'm intrigued to try more of their selections (as we just recently were able to obtain them in Ohio). Welcome to Ohio, and welcome to my fridge. I think Flying Dog won't mind if I drink you....

5/5 caps


Oh my. So, between the above and now, I had the opportunity to question Nathan how this stacks up to our two other favorite citra-centric beers, Flying Dog's Single Hop Imperial IPA and Three Floyds Zombie Dust. He was silent on the first, and said that despite the thinner body than Zombie Dust, this had a better flavor profile. I didn't think that was possible. Let's find out.

The appearance is exactly as my partner-in-beer (beertner?) described. This has had some time to warm, as He-With-Boyparts wrote his portion and I continued on my piece of art for Peanut. I am picking up notes of caramel, citrus, pine, and -- squee! -- lychee. I can wait no longer; waiting to drink this is becoming like water torture. I think I just startled him with my exclamation of bliss. It starts out very piney for me, then it's like you just bit into a big, fat lychee. There are notes of orange, mango, and pine, and yes, some caramel, but I'm not quite sure in what order. I'm in such a state of ecstasy, I don't know if I can stop drinking it long enough to write about it. It is a little thinner body, but I have absolutely no problem with that. I think the body complements the beer quite nicely. Sometimes, a little lighter-bodied beer is what I prefer in an IPA. They don't always have to be meals-in-a-glass, especially not if the flavor is so well done. And trust me, this is.

This is a fantastic showcase for my favorite hop strain. It's a wonderful beer, and like Nathan, I welcome it to our fridge, Ohio, and most importantly, my palate.

5/5 caps


Baltika #9

Ahhhh, Baltika, the stuff of terrible memories when I lived in St. Petersburg, home to Baltika Brewery. I was handed one of these at some party I attended, and I nearly choked. Then again, the brewery was relatively new (apparently a mere 3 years old when I lived there), and has since branched out quite a bit since that time. My palate was also relatively unrefined, having been an college student and accustomed to cheap American piss-water during those early days, before the craft beer scene started taking off in the US (although, unsurprisingly, I did have quite the palate for vodka then... hmmmm... let it be noted that Russian Stoli is better than it is here. It was present at every family function, all parties, and the occasional family dinner).

This particular brew is #9 in the Baltika brews, an extra lager, weighing in at a hefty 8% ABV. It's one of a dozen or so brews made by Baltika, which was bought in 2008 by Carlsberg. 

Yes, St. Petersburg, founded in 1703 by Peter the Great. A truly beautiful and remarkable city, it's also quite large and often considered the gateway to western Europe. At the same time, it's uniquely Russian. The people are wonderful, the architecture is awe-inspiring, and the history of the city is both tragic and triumphant. And yes, the Hermitage is at least as amazing as you think it might be. There are so many landmarks and so much to do there, I know my four months/one semester were much too short. I still want to move back there, even though my Russian has mostly rusted away from lack of use.

Anyway, while I delve into a leisurely trip down memory lane, I looked over and saw my beer sitting there, warming up, the head fading away. Let's delve back into memory, for comparison: what I remember is a darker beer, about the color of a brown ale, that tasted as if you had licked the concrete walls of your neighborhood sauna after a 300-pound sixty-year-old vodka addict had just sweat out the remains of the prior night. With his six best friends. It was a rather unpleasant experience. Let's hope this is much improved.

What keeps pulling me back to present is the golden straw color of this (trust me, that's a good sign), with a fluffy white head that is quickly dissipating into a thin layer of thick foam. The aroma is strongly malt-forward bready notes (man, now I'm craving some Russian black bread), with a lightly floral and almost metallic note to the nose. It might be the water from the Neva, I'm guessing, as it smells almost like river water. Taking a sip, I'm pleasantly surprised, this is not the beer I had in Russia. Whew!!!!! Once the relief fades, I take another sip to diagram the flavors and notes within it. I am picking up a lot of cereal and bread notes at the front, which fade into the faint floral that was in the nose and then gives over to an earthy note. It's a solid lager. It's strong, but you don't really notice any alcohol bite in the beer. It feels very soft and round up front, almost like a wheat beer. I'm very glad the metallic note doesn't come through in the flavor. That might be because we purchased this in can form.

This is way better than I remember. Then again, looking at the various beers the brewery offers, I'm pretty sure I had the Original. I have no idea where the brewery is located in St. Petersburg, but I wouldn't mind collaborating with them on a brew. I also wouldn't mind taking a six-pack or so of this to a reunion of friends from Russia who live in the Columbus. It's a solid lager, and I'm thoroughly relieved that it's nothing of what my memory stored. It makes me yearn for the Rodina, the Motherland. It also may become my drink of choice when "The Americans" returns to FX in February, which seems like eons from now, on what has become known as Commie Pinko Wednesday, in a lovely tribute to the Cold War.

4/5 caps


Damn babe... Hell of a description. How does one follow anything up with that except now my beer has warmed up some, so let's see if there are different notes in the flavor and aroma. Bready, earthy, floral and faint citrus take over the nose, this smells damn good for a lager. The flavor on this is light but mostly the same notes that were picked up in the nose. There is an astringent feel and slight medicinal flavor in the backend of this that I can't quite place. It might be because this has warmed, as it's coming our more and more with each sip.

Not a bad beer, one of the better lagers I've had.

3.9/5 caps (just because of the astringent back end)


Saturday, December 14, 2013

Gasthaus & Gosebrauerei Bayerischer Leipziger Gose

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This might possibly be the longest name for a beer that's we've reviewed. 4.6% German Gose style. If you missed the little history lesson we gave in the Magic Hat Saint Saltan, Gose originated in an area of Germany where it obtained part of the flavor from the naturally salty waters of the river, and was brewed with no less than 50% of the grain bill (grains being used in the brew process) being malted wheat. Being a German beer though, I'm surprised this does not follow the Purity Laws of 1516 (aka Reinheitsgebot), which says that beer is to be brewed ONLY with water, hops, and barley. The label on this states that it is brewed with coriander and salt.

This pours a hazy straw color with a decent amount of white head that dissipated quickly. The aroma on this is faint with some malty sweetness, citrus and some earthiness. This is very interesting for the flavor. There is a lot happening here, though all faint. There is a wit characteristic to it, with the wheat and coriander that takes premise (for those who are unaware of the style, think Blue Moon, but a metric shit ton better). Then there are some almost lemon like sour tones that meld perfectly and some light salt pops in from time to time. This drinks smooth with a slight stickiness on the tongue, but a refreshing finish. This makes me miss the warmer days of summer time, as this would be a perfect porch sipping beer on a warm Summer night. Sigh, but unfortunately, we're nearing the actual season of Winter (and have already had more snow than we did last Autumn and Winter combined), so these are just hopes and dreams for next Summer.

I don't know what it is about this beer, but I'm feeling relaxed and refreshed after drinking this. Huh, some sort of magic elixir apparently.

4.4/5 caps


This is the perfect antithesis to tonight, when we had some snow and wintry mix crap fall from the sky today. It's the kind of day that makes me long for the beers of summer: the IPAs, goses, and kolsches.

My portion has had some time to warm while I've been working a piece of art and Nathan wrote his portion. Hey, it's the giving season, and I just had the most killer idea for a piece for Peanut. Let's just hope I can get it done in 8 days, as it's one of my larger undertakings. But, lest you tell Peanut the secret, I shall give away no more.

As my partner-in-beer mentioned, this beer does not follow the Reinheitsgebot, which is, indeed, somewhat surprising. But did you know that Germans have recently appealed to the United Nations to seek "world status" for the Reinheitsgebot, granting it similar status to the Spanish Flamenco dance and an oil wrestling festival from Turkey? Well, now you do. There's your beer-geek history fact du jour

This is a beautiful translucent pale straw color, and the lightest layer of head remains atop my glass. The aroma is straw, grass, some light lemony citrus from the hops, just a tinge of earthiness, and, even fainter, the coriander. Taking a sip, it's almost like lemonade that has been lightly salted. Taking a deeper taste, I pick up lemon fading into lemongrass fading into grass, then a hit of salt, and then lemon and coriander toward the back end of the taste. Long after you've swallowed, more salt comes out to dry out the finish. The coriander is so beautifully faint. I find it rather interesting to observe the notes from the wheat: it really just softens everything, and makes it eminently drinkable.

I'm sorry, I can find no comparison at all to Blue Moon, other than they both contain wheat and coriander. That is where the comparison must end. If you like Blue Moon, I'm reasonably certain you would like this. If you appreciate this, though, I don't think you would really like Blue Moon. It's not really a wit, despite it containing both wheat and coriander. I also must agree with Nathan that my state of mind is quite at ease after drinking much of this. I want to be sitting at the edge of the sea -- OK, any sea -- sipping on this.

4.3/5 caps


Boulevard Brewing Company Amber Ale

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Well, we have reached a somewhat sad moment: this is the last beer from our Peoria trip. It's taken us almost 6 months to go through all the the beer we purchased that we can't get in Ohio. Ironically, two breweries we brought back because we couldn't get them here will soon be debuting in Ohio: New Belgium on Monday, and Deschutes in February. With Duvel purchasing Boulevard, we may also see this one here in Ohio soon. I'd be perfectly fine with that.

Of course, the up side of this is that I'll allow Nathan to purchase craft beer here again soon (never fear, dear reader, we have been buying some here and there, but we're down to fewer than twelve).

This is a lovely -- wait for it! -- deep amber color with a moderate off-white head that dissipates quickly. There is some chill haze to this. The aroma is very malty, with soft orange citrus notes and caramel and maybe just a hint of grass coming through. Taking a sip, this is really mild, with the malts taking center stage. There's not a flavor that really predominates, just the same notes that were in the aroma. And yet it's not watery, it's well-balanced. It's a rather mild amber, and it kind of reminds me of Fat Tire. I think what stands out to me the most is the mouthfeel: it's a very soft, round beer, with the initial texture of silk that fades into a slight bitterness at the end from the German noble hops.

It's a good, solid amber from an exceptional brewery. It's not my favorite beer from them, but I think this would be an excellent gateway beer for people who are new to the craft scene.

4/5 caps


With heavy hearts, we pour the last of our out of state, unobtainable brews (for this year). We look back on the the other (currently) unobtainable brews- the Pegasus IPA, Black Butte, Bridgeport IPA, Ranger, Buffalo Sweat and Bully! Porter really stick out in my mind. Wrapping up a year of beer reviews, look for a faux-award ceremony for the best brews we had this year, and maybe an off-kilter award. But all that will come later. Now is when we look at the terrible task at hand, having to review beer. This is the part of reviewing beer that I dislike.... BWHAHAHAHAHA almost got through that with a straight face.

This is an amber, so it's a shock of shocks that this pours an amber color with a decent off white head that doesn't stick around. Mine has had time, as my partner, The Brew Baroness, did her portion of the review. In the nose, I'm getting nice mild maltiness, sweetness, and some citrus and floral notes from the hops. This smells interesting. The flavor of this is nice. It's like a great herbal tea. Initially, there is subtle caramel, with some citrus and earthiness from the hops lending to a perfect balance. I'm enjoying this. This a nice mellow brew that drinks smoothly and a slightly sweet finish. Perfect for those who enjoy ambers or those just getting into the scene.

I hope Boulevard distributes here in the very near future, as they are a solid brewery who perpetually has great brews.


4.2/5 caps


Monday, December 9, 2013

Clown Shoes Chocolate Sombrero

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Monday night, and baby, it's cold outside. Perfect night for a lovely stout that is new-ish to Ohio. Clown Shoes is out of Massachusetts, and we were lucky enough to pick some up before we could get it here. Then, one day this fall, they decided to open distribution to Ohio. We wholeheartedly approve of this decision, and this is our first in-state purchase from them.

Back in the early spring, we actually had a date night and went out to the movies (shocking, I know. It just doesn't happen as much as it should). Our favorite movie theater has an excellent selection of craft beers, and I tried a New Holland brew that blew me away. Called Ocho Mole, it was a Mexican-spiced stout. I have similar expectations to that for this brew.

This pours a deep brown-black with some pillowy khaki head. Taking a whiff, I pick up notes of toasted malts, chocolate, vanilla beans, a hint of ancho chili, and maybe come cinnamon. Taking a drink, it's a very interesting brew. The roasted malts hit first along with a lot of chocolate, then vanilla and cinnamon kick in, and at the very back note of the palate, there's just the teensiest hint of the ancho chili. I love ancho chilies (they're merely smoked poblanos), so this is a welcome note to the flavor profile. They're a milder pepper, so this is not one that's going to burn going down. It's pretty thin in body, and that is my biggest complaint about this beer. But it clocks in a 9% ABV, so my toes are finally starting to thaw out. There really isn't a boozy quality to this beer for being such a high-ABV beast, but I like that.

It's a pretty solid brew, and one I wouldn't mind having again. I'm looking forward to trying some of their IPAs.

4.1/5 caps


The movie theater she's referring to is Studio 35 (on Indianola just North of Weber Road), if you haven't been there, go. We went with some friends to watch The Evil Dead on opening weekend. Awesome movie, amazing beer selections. As those memories start to fade away with the passing days and the increasing alcohol consumption, we find ourselves at this current moment, sitting in front of a computer, pint glass in hand, and a beer review to do. Damn that was a long sentence.

While Jennie took lead on this, I cleaned up the kitchen, giving this a chance to warm up. This poured a dark, typical stout color with a very fluffy tan head, which after 20 minutes or so is still about a half-finger. Toasted malts, chocolate and vanilla taunt my olfactory senses when I raise this to my nose. Some hints of toffee, smokiness and caramel, but mostly the prior 3 mentioned. It seems interesting enough from the aroma, let's delve into the taste. Roasted malts assault the taste buds initially, with hints of chocolate and vanilla. The smokiness isn't noticed, but there's some warm chili pepper qualities to the back end, not enough to be spicy (as Jennie mentioned they're smoked poblano), but enough to give it notice. As I just was drinking a Burger Classic, I can compare the body to about that. It's deceptively thin on this beer. I figured a 9% ABV stout would be a rich, thick body (ala Stone Espresso), but apparently this is a Decepticon. The thinner body makes it very drinkable, and this higher alcohol content makes it so you just start to drift off in your own world, researching different things that you've written over the past year, trying to figure out what spurred better creativity then than what you've been feeling as of late. Then you realize you're rambling to people who probably haven't made it this far, so you continue to type and see if anyone really reads this. But the lack of feedback received makes you wonder if this is all in vain, which is why you should follow us on Facebook and Twitter. And then you start to realize this stream-of-conscious writing delves way too far into your own personal psyche at times to where inner demons have come out in previous posts that you realize you probably shouldn't send a link to, making the reader search through your 200-some-odd posts in order to find it if they're truly interested in reading. Then you realize you're rambling.

4/5 caps


Friday, December 6, 2013

Sierra Nevada Narwhal

Despite the almost lawsuit last year between Narwhal Brewery and Sierra Nevada, we decided to try this. A quick rundown of the lawsuit, Narwhal Brewery opened in 2011, filing in NY as an LLC. Sierra Nevada created Narwhal stout in 2012 and filed a federal trademark. They sat down, couldn't come to a resolution, and Narwhal Brewery decided to change their name instead of bankrupting themselves trying to take on the 2nd largest craft brewery in the nation.

This beer has received many great reviews online, so we decided to give it a shot. This pours a dark, deep black color with a small mount of tan head that dissipates quickly. The aroma is coffee, chocolate, roasted malt, some caramel and a backside of boozy notes, which is a little expected for a 10.2% Russian Imperial Stout. And as my little terrorist cat chews on Jennie's hair, I delve into the taste. Huh. This is complex. There is a rush of toasted malt and almost whiskey at first, which gives way to a unsweetened chocolate, then some more toasted notes, caramel and faint hops on the back end with coffee sporadically popping in to join the party. This drinks a little heavy, definitely a sipping beer.This finishes dry with almost a light hop resiny mouthfeel to it.

As I'm selective on the stouts and RISs, it's good. It's real good. I think we accidentally cloned this without realizing it with our stout, The Count.

4.6/5 caps


There are two notable differences between our Count Chocula Stout and this: The Count is a milk stout instead of a Russian Imperial, and it contained marshmallow root.

And yes, we know we should be drinking this out of a snifter. I almost went for them until I realized how full our dishwasher is, and that we're reviewing more than this one beer. Just be glad I'm not drinking my portion straight from the bottle. It's Friday; I'm allowed to have a lazy moment.

Nathan described the appearance and aroma perfectly. Side note, his little terrorist cat has been extra matricidal today and was trying to convince Peanut that I'm the meanest mom in the world (because every time I got in the fridge I wouldn't give her ham or turkey or both). Even Peanut wasn't convinced. This is a good thing (although I'm going to show him the certificate, stating that "I hereby promise to be the meanest mom in the world," I signed at the hospital some day).

Let's see how this tastes. I just took a sip and uttered blissfully, "Oh my gods." It's good. It's really good. I pick up more chocolate and yes, some boozy notes early, which fade into silky chocolate, and then a note of spiced rum -- probably notes from the boozy and vanilla -- pops into my mouth. Huh. And Nathan doesn't like this better? There's also coffee and roasted, toasty notes floating in and around. I don't really pick up the lingering hops in it, other than the dryness of the finish and maybe a bit lingering on the tongue after you've swallowed. I have to agree with my partner-in-beer, whereas this is a sipping beer (and my sips have been really heavy. Oops. It's going to be one of those 0-60 nights). I find it velvety smooth, like you're drinking silk, if you could do that (and I don't mean the soy milk).

I find this fantastic. I'm rather particular on my stouts, but I rather enjoy the RIS style, and this is an excellent example of it. It's smoother than a baby's bottom, and I kinda want some more. Ah, but more we have... just of a different variety and brewery. Hehehe.

4.9/5 caps


Green Flash Green Bullet

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Ah, Green Flash. I was iffy about them at first, to be honest. My first beer from them (Bob's Bar) wasn't that impressive. It could have been the hop varieties or it could have been an off batch. Regardless, they've proven themselves to me since with Lynchpin (collaboration with Founders) and Palate Wrecker. We, on this (pending) Snow Apocalypse decide to bite the bullet. The Green Bullet. A 10.1% ABV, over 100 IBU beast of brew. Who doesn't want to feel feelings? This guy!

This pours a nice honey color with small amount of white head, this is rather clear with a decent amount of carbonation (judging from appearance). The aroma is very herbal, almost like a nice tea, and earthy, with hints of caramel and a scent I can't place- a perfect pine/unknown fruit. I've been eyeballing this since I got home, oh yes, it's time. The taste. An intense blast of deep earthy hops obliterate your taste buds upon the first sip. At times there are hints of lighter caramel flavors, but only occasionally peaking through the sheer intensity of the earthy tones. The finish is surprisingly dry for a huge IBU, ABVed IPA. Not as much resin feeling as I'd expect from this.

As I'm starting to fade off while listening to Richard Pryor, I think I should pass this over to my partner-in-beers.

3.8/5 caps (only as I'm not a huge fan of the earthy varieties of hops as much as the pine and citrus flavors of other varieties)


Hmmm. A triple IPA with Pulp Fiction playing in the background. Great flick, and I hope for a great beer. The only other triple IPA I think I've had is Founders Devil Dancer, so this should be an interesting comparison. You know how we love our DIPAs and hops, so I have high hopes for this. It's also made with New Zealand hops, which we're still familiarizing ourselves with the distinct flavors.

Zed just happens to be dead (again? still?) as I take a whiff. It's a lovely medium orange color -- yes, think clover honey with the faintest amount of white head still remaining atop this high-ABV beast. Oooh, I love the aroma: strong lychee masks some dank, almost mildewy notes and some caramel sweetness. OK, to be honest, the more I stick my nose in it, the more it smells like a basement gymnasium, like the girls' gym at my high school. The initial aroma was much more appealing. Taking a sip, I pick up orange and mango and generic citrus, some earthy, some lychee, and fortunately, the initial sip wasn't as disappointing as the subsequent sniffs. The next sip brings up a little more dank note, but not as offensive as a 150-year-old gym (I went to the oldest high school west of the Alleghenies, and the girls' gym was the original one). Underneath the confusion that is lingering on my tongue is a grassy note that is not offensive, but there's an almost metallic taste on the very back end of this that I do not find appealing. It's not a bad beer... it's just, meh. There's some sticky sweetness that lingers on the lips, and it's appropriately carbonated. It's gotten really high reviews on ratebeer, but I'm just not that impressed with it. I prefer Palate Wrecker, myself.

Go buy some. Make your own decision. I'm too confused by everything happening on my palate.

3.75/5 caps


Thursday, December 5, 2013

Dark Horse 4 Elf Winter Warmer

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Happy Repeal Day!!! We've been Prohibition-free for 80 years today. We're happy to raise a pint to that fact today. Also, we're under a winter storm warning and expecting a metric fuckton of snow, which is much better than being disappointed once again by a man telling me that [    ] is six inches. We'll probably get two inches and they'll claim it was six, just to disappoint women everywhere in order to maintain their secret. So, clearly we're drinking tonight, and what better way to celebrate being snowed in than with a winter warmer?

This is one we have yet to have (I don't remember it being available in Columbus last year, but that could just be my faulty memory). By now, you should know how much we (I) love Dark Horse. I went to college 10 miles from Marshall, Michigan, and have a couple of fond memories of the town. It also helps that they put out great beer. So let's get to it.

This pours a deep, opaque brown with a smallish khaki head that doesn't linger long, probably because of the 8.75% ABV. The aroma is pretty exciting, with a lot of roasted malt notes and some cinnamon, nutmeg, and a healthy smattering of clove. You can smell a bit of booziness in the aroma. Taking a sip, the first thing I note is how dry it is. It starts out mild, goes into a hint of cinnamon and nutmeg (but nothing overpowering), and then the finish is like a punch of cloves in the face. I am not a huge fan of cloves (unless they're in small amounts and blended with other spices like cinnamon and nutmeg), so I wish they would have used either less or substituted it with, say, ginger. Ginger and I have a long and storied love affair. The mouthfeel is exceptionally creamy and almost fluffy. A faint stickiness lingers on the lips and tongue after the sip is gone.

I wish I liked cloves better. It's not a bad beer, at all, but I prefer winter warmers with less clove (or none). Nathan loves clove, so I'll bet he'll really enjoy it.

3.9/5 caps


As we hunker down for Snowpocalypse 2013 (remember those hyped up hurricane force winds earlier this year where it knocked over one lawn chair in rural Ohio?), we stock up on Burger Classic and start chilling down our remaining brews we have yet to review. My goal is to get through all the ones we currently have before purchasing more. So far, that game plan hasn't worked out, oops. Woo! Beer!

So this company, Dark Horse, puts out fantastic brews. I have yet to have a sub-par brew from them. I've been waiting to try this since I first saw it. This pours a deep dark brown with, as Jennie said, a light khaki head. This has had time to warm up while I showered and Jennie took lead on this review. The aroma is very clove heavy. After the clove blast, there is cinnamon, nutmeg, gingerbread, and very faint (after heavy sniffing) vanilla. There are some other hints, almost brown sugar and caramel aromas. This smells amazing. If it was off the aroma, I'd give it a 5, but, sadly, I have to drink beer like it's my job. I hope to make it my job someday.

So, the flavor on this. Interesting. Nice smooth, velvety liquid filling your mouth. The nutmeg and clove really come out in the flavor at first, but not overwhelming. After the initial flavor of the two spices; vanilla, caramel and brown sugar make a faint appearance. There's a nice dry finish of fresh vanilla bean toward the back. I really don't catch as much clove as Jennie did, but then again, this has had time to warm up.

Not bad at all, but I still prefer Flying Dog's K-9 (warning, it was our second review, so we were still working out format).

So to a little over a year of reviews and on the 80th anniversary of the End of Prohibition, Cheers.

4/5 caps