Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Behind The Tap's Top Ten Beers of 2014

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Enjoy this review with Frank Turner & Jon Snodgrass "Happy New Year"


As we draw to the close of another year (thank goodness it's almost here!), we bring you our favorite beers that we drank this year. There were quite a few great brews to choose from, but these were the ones that stand out in our memories. Also, because we let the blog lapse for so long while my father's health was declining, there will be a significant amount of honorable mentions that were enjoyed and yet not reviewed.

Jennie's Favorites of 2014 (in no particular order):

Fat Heads Hop Juju
The mere, distant memory of this beer has me salivating for spring, when I will run all over Columbus in search of this. That chase will be well worth the effort in order to obtain this elixir of the gods.


Bell's Black Note Stout
This beer is as elusive as the Hop Juju, if not more so. An annual release that is a bourbon-barrel aged imperial stout, it reminds me exactly why Bell's is my favorite brewery. Boozy yet not too much with the bourbon, deep and dark with beautiful roasted and chocolate notes. I'm looking forward to having this again soon.

Jackie O's Paw Paw Wheat
While not a new beer in 2014, it was new to us, and so good that it earned a spot here. It's almost wine-like in its composition, delicious and bubbly and everything you would expect from a brewery with a cult following. And yes, I enjoyed it even more than Oil of Aphrodite, Dark Apparition, and barrel-aged Wood Burner (which, to be fair, was the most exquisite smoked beer I have had). This is light, refreshing, and quite possibly the best wheat beer I have ever had.

Toppling Goliath PseudoSue
A magnificent pale ale from a remote location in Iowa, Toppling Goliath has knocked it out of the park with PseudoSue. No wonder this beer is a hot commodity on the trade market. Any beer that causes Nathan and I to discuss divorce and him to get a job with Toppling Goliath in order to sleep in the stockroom must be worthy of a solid spot on our year-end list. (We didn't review Assassin, but we did have the good fortune to taste some of that deliciousness. It is every bit worthy of being on this list, as well, if only I had taken better notes!)

Weasel Boy Barrel-Aged Anastasia
Another offering from a fantastic stout night back in February, this beer was better-priced than most of the other "whales" we enjoyed, and if possible, even better tasting than most. I recall it being quite silky and with just the right amount of bourbon against a fantastic stout base. No wonder it has been awarded so many medals in the major competitions. I look forward to having this again very soon, especially if it means heading out to Weasel Boy (who also makes a mean rye beer, Wolverine).

Nathan's Favorites of 2014 (in no particular order)


Zaftig ZBS
A newer brewery in Columbus (opened in January) that puts out stellar beer. This is their BA Stout, and when it's available, it goes fast. This is a tap-room only release, so follow them on Facebook and Twitter to find out when it will be released (along with their other limited batches). This was- need I repeat it- KBS Killer.


Homestead Artists Series Vol II: Time (The Revelator)
You don't think with us being the founders, nay, discoverers of Hopsus that this would be a stout heavy list, did you? It's pretty balanced this year though- 4 stouts, 4 IPAs 1 pale ale and 1 wheat. Regardless, this locally made IPA was stellar enough to still long for this 11 months after first consumption.



Deschutes Chasin' Freshies
A juicy grapefruit, pine, and tropical hop bomb with an amazing aroma. We just started getting distribution of Deschutes this year and I look forward to trying more of the selections.

Flying Dog Kujo
Another fine selection from our epic stout night at World of Beer. One of my favorite beers of all time (ssssshhhhh! Don't tell the hops!). An amazing coffee stout that's 8.9% and tastes like a fresh cup of joe. This beer is what gave us the nickname Keg Killers a few years back.

Barley's Bourbon Meyer Buckeye Stout
A peanut butter chocolate stout that's bourbon barrel aged.... Let that sink in while your breathing increases and heart rate raises... Bourbon Barrel Aged Peanut Butter Chocolate Stout... It's available from time to time at Barley's Ale House. Follow them on Facebook to find out when those releases are.

Honorable Mentions (reviewed):
While narrowing down the 50-some-odd brews we reviewed this year, some just couldn't make the cut to the final 10. These are great beers and you should go find them.
Actual Brewing Orthodox 
Founders KBS 
Schlafly Tasmanian IPA 
Seventh Son Humulus Nimbus
Bell's Hopslam (draft-- because it is such a different beer on tap than in the bottle, different enough to still qualify for Jennie's favorite beer.)
Fat Heads Hop Stalker

Honorable Mentions (not reviewed):
We are sorry to these breweries that with the year we had (read: death, death, death, depression) we did not have the opportunity to fully review your beers. We did, however, enjoy them and thought enough of them to give them an honorable mention.

NoDa Hop, Drop, and Roll
Yup, hops. Copious amounts of hops. We obtained this from a friend/fellow beer writer after her visit to North Carolina. We should have thoroughly reviewed this as we thoroughly enjoyed this. Hopefully, soon, we'll obtain more and give it te proper Behind the Tap treatment.

Homebrew: Peter Schroder's Fired Up Angel (Eximius Brewing)
A beautiful stout with vanilla and scorpion peppers. I have often joked that the scorpion peppers must have been handled by angels, because their presence is so smooth and subtle. There is a lot going on in this beer, but between the silky mouthfeel and the hint of heat set against a beautiful stout, this beer still rings closely in my tastebuds' memories. If I am still talking about it a month after drinking it, it is certainly good enough to be a commercial brew. Actually, let's take that further: I would put this up against any commercial brew and it would outshine them. I had the honor of entering this into a competition for Peter, and the unanimous mutter around the table and in every conversation head since is that this is the best use of pepper ever in a beer. The beer took second place in the competition, but man oh man, I wish I could put this on my list of beers actually reviewed for the year, because if it wasn't my favorite beer of the year, it was right up there.




Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Ska Brewing Modus Hoperandi

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I don't know about you, but I am doing a happy dance that there are only two days left in this god-forsaken year. You are probably sick of me bitching about it, but hey, I just caught a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. 2015, I'm looking at you, and you are one sexy bitch.  My mood is so sullen about this entire fucking year that I think something as bitter as an IPA would be perfect. The fact that we picked this up on our last trip to Peoria during my father's memorial service trip makes it an even better send-off to the suckfest that was 2014. With the new year will come a renewed attitude, I promise as solemnly as a goddamn Girl Scout.

Cheers to the last two days of 2014! Now, onto the beer.

This pours a lovely orange color with about the same amount of white head that is pictured. The aroma on this is a fresh blast of pine and grapefruit with just a hint of caramel sweetness. The flavor is about the same, along with some other tropical fruit flavors in the middle to mellow it out and woo the tastebuds, then the finish on this... oh, the finish on this. Dry, lovely, biting pine and grapefruit predominate the end of this and it's a wonderfully bitter finish. It is a medium-bodied beer and with 68 IBUs and 6.8% ABV, I'm very happy with this. If we could get this in Ohio, it might become part of my regular rotation of beers.

Ah, my mood is already lifting as that light at the end of the tunnel becomes more of a gleam. Do you remember the Keystone beer gimmick advertising "bitter beer face"? This will probably give you that, but in a good way. My cheeks are a tad puckered from the finish on this, and now they are puckered from smiling while drinking this. I never minded bitter beer face anyway, although I most certainly mind Keystone beer. It's revolting. This is pretty much the opposite of that. Yeah... hoppy, happy bitter beer face.

4.6/5 caps

-Jennie

We needed to round out this year with something that leaves at least one good note. We've eyeballed this every time we've seen it, and always failed to pick it up. We'd later see constant postings on Facebook about how much people are enjoying it, giving us buyer's remorse. Well, not this time, 2014. You've sucked enough out of our lives. The time has come to get this 6.8% ABV, 68 IBU long awaited IPA on my palate.

The label makes me think of Reservoir Dogs. Brilliant movie. The beer itself is a golden amber color, still with a decent amount of carbonation after sitting for roughly an hour. The aroma on this is therapeutic. pine, grapefruit, citrus and caramel; none of which overwhelm the others, just gel perfectly together in a harmonious coexistence that could  likely solve all the wars and hatred among humans (if only somehow we could all sniff this at the same time). I talk about this calming that washes over me as it was needed today at work (where Slipknot and Mushroomhead weren't heavy and loud enough to deal with the end of the year in shipping... note- if you've read this far- AVOID FACTORY JOBS). Regardless.... Beer.

The flavor on this is what's in the nose. A nice harmonious balance of grapefruit, pine, citrus and caramel with an additional tropical juiciness toward the middle before a rush of headbanging to "Duality" by Slipknot and bitterness washes over the tastebuds. Well... Maybe you won't be headbanging to "Duality" (maybe you're more of a "People = Shit" person), but when the bitterness comes crashing into the party- it definitely starts a most pit on your tongue, leaving a dry yet resinous finish after slam dancing for a solid 15 seconds. This is what I expect the finish of an IPA to be. Before I start rocking out too much and forget that I'm typing a beer review, I should finish (HA! That's what she said).

4.6/5 caps

-Nathan-

Food pairing: A well-smoked pork shoulder
Cheese pairing: Cotswold (Double Gloucester with dried onions and chives)
Music pairing: Wallflowers "One Headlight" (despite the moshing and metal references)

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Evil Twin Falco

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To begin- Happy Holidays to those celebrating any variation. I'd break it down and give a holiday-by-holiday greeting, but for sake of my fingers, let's just all give praise to Hopsus and agree to disagree on the rest of it.

This is the first Evil Twin beer we've reviewed. This came from a suggestion from Jay at one of our favorite bottle shops. The last IPA he guided us to was Smashbomb Atomic (which we try and purchase when able [Jennie edit: every chance we get]). I've read different things about Evil Twin, one being that the brewmaster is the twin brother of the brewmaster at Mikkeller. Apparently, there's some sibling rivalry. I guess that would explain the name.

So, the Falco, the only thing I can really find out about it online is what's on the label. 7% ABV. There are a couple of pages saying it has Falconer's Flight hops, other reviews are saying Mosaic. Nothing found on a search of the ol' Google for the IBU on this. If I were to guess the IBU, it would be between 1 and 500. With the 'technical' aspect of this beer covered, I think it's safe to say that we should delve nose first on this.

The color on this is a hazy yellow orange color. The carbonation is clearly visible while staring at it, imagining that I didn't have to use Falco's "Rock Me Amadeus" for the music pairing... It's a terrible song! Fuck it... I'm not going to use it, but something from the same era that I can actually listen to without wanting to stick a red hot soldering iron in my fucking ears.

The aroma on this is a nice bouquet orange, grapefruit, some earthy notes and some faint sweetness. The initial sip is... like a hoppy orange juice. Huh... There's a predominant orange flavor that stays in the back through out the first blast through the end. There's a grapefruit zest/pine blast up front that mellows out as the orange flavor rides into a weird backend. The backend is weird with a dank and almost dusty like flavor. The malt does not really appear in the flavor profiles, letting the hops shine through. There's a nice bitter and mouth puckering finish on this that I expect/love out of IPAs.

Not bad, worth checking out, especially for $3 a 12 oz bottle.

Fuck you Falco (the musician, not the beer).

4.3/5 caps

-Nathan-

Wow, I am a little surprised to hear such derision over one of the best Eurotrash electronica bands of the 80's. I still chuckle a little bit every time I hear "Rock Me Amadeus".... just me? Perhaps it helps that I don't speak German, no matter how much my parents encouraged me. It was one language that never triggered wanderlust. I speak two other languages (French and Russian, natch), but I can merely count to three in German and give a functional toast as well as "Hello", "Good Morning", and "Good Night". That's it. I know more about German beer than I do the language. Oops. Perhaps I should, um, brush up before I aspire to attend my first authentic Oktoberfest. Don't worry, it won't be next year. There is time. Don't fear.

Really, I'm listening to "Der Kommissar" and wondering how this doesn't pair with this beer... That's a real head-scratcher there. Perhaps I should actually delve into this beer before the song ends and find out what is so offensive about that pairing. I mean, it practically pairs itself, doesn't it??? Shall we find out what it is about this beer that caused Nathan to be so reticent about pairing the two?

This is a lovely light golden color with a modicum of white head gracing the top of my glass. The aroma is beautiful pine, grapefruit, some mango floating in there with some cracker-y malts. When I drink it, though, a completely different set of flavors arrive. Freshly dug earth, faint grapefruit, pine resin, and eventually tropical fruits come through. This beer is weird: it has a wonderful aroma that I could spend in forever, but the taste is so different it's a little off-putting. I taste Falconer's Flight, Amarillo, and some Mosaic hops that could have been better utilized. What makes me so sad is that this is a great base IPA for some wonderful hops. Indeed, there are some wonderful hops in here, but they aren't used in the showcase manner that my nose had desired and even presumed. In more layman's terms, this has a killer body, like Gisele before she had a kid, and yet it is an actual hop mess. There is a slight stickiness on my lips as the earthy notes prevail the end of this taste.

It's definitely not terrible, yet like Santa Claus, it disappoints a smidgen. I would consider it an interesting experiment into some hops that I don't always love. It's nothing against the brewery or the hops, it's more of a bizarre jumble that has me scratching my head again. Kinda like hearing "Maschine Brennt" again from Falco, which I haven't heard since, well, I can't remember. A long time. Let's just leave it at that, please.

4.1/5 caps

- Jennie

Food Pairing: Cheese danish. Because just yum.
Cheese Pairing: A rather sharp Havarti, no dill required this time.
Music Pairing: "Broken Wings" by Mr. Mister

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

New Glarus Scream IIPA

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The story of New Glarus Brewing is very interesting. Dan, the brewmaster, attended several brewing schools and worked in several breweries. His wife, Deborah, raised all of the capital to start a brewery as a gift to him, making her the first woman to open a brewery in the US. She does everything with the brewery except brew the beer; in turn, Dan gets turned loose a couple of times a year to make a beer that he wants to make. Scream is part of that series, called the Thumbprint series. Most Thumbprint beers are only brewed once, so this is a special treat that we obtained in a trade as New Glarus does not distribute outside of Wisconsin.

Admittedly, we are trying to squeeze in a couple of beers that we know are amazing before the end of the year. It's a rainy night here, so a beer that has been sitting here for a couple of months should make everything toasty and right with the world. While most normal people are frantically getting ready for Christmas, I decided to boycott it this year. My kid did something atrocious to warrant not getting any presents, and I think it might make the first holiday season without my dad just a little easier to bear. We will be spending Thursday with Nathan's grandmother and yes, brewing. Instead of wrapping presents, baking pies and cookies and whatnot, and the last-minute scramble of shopping, I am sitting here enjoying some damn fine beer. I couldn't be more Scrooge-alicious if I were sitting on a mountaintop with the Dalai Lama after receiving a three-hour massage whilst flipping off Santa Claus. It's a pretty fucking zen state here.

So, there is beer to be had. I'm in. This is a lovely medium golden orange color that had a couple of fingers of barely odd-white head to start. Like my enthusiasm for Christmas, it's nearly nonexistent now. The aroma on this is very promising: grapefruit, passionfruit, some boozed-up lychees like a lychee martini, and a hint of pine are all noticeable, with perhaps a hint of cracker-y malt. All of the flavors in the nose are present, plus a big KAPOW of mango and pineapple. As this has sat longer than intended, I think that some of the hops are starting to die off... or did they use copious amounts of Amarillo hops in this? It's kind of like the difference between Five Finger Death Punch and, well, any other quasi-metal band: Who can tell? What I can tell is that the malts in this are barely noticeable except for in the mouthfeel. It has a light- to medium body and finishes sticky sweet yet crisp.

New Glarus is often noted for their fruit beers, which I wouldn't mind trying sometime. This is a pretty solid IIPA, even if it wasn't as fresh as I would have liked (that is fully our fault for sitting on it for two months after receiving it).

4.2/5 caps

-Jennie

I'm in a relaxed state myself now. After a short, but grueling work week (NEVER WORK IN SHIPPING AT A FACTORY!), I now get to enjoy a stint of 5 days off. With the daily duties of not setting a building on fire after locking all the doors, I get to relax. Ear buds in, rocking out, I sit back in this worn but comfortable leather chair and stare at a screen. Huh...is that relaxing? Where have we fallen as a human race that constantly being connected through electronic communications is leisure time? Oh well, as Dylan said "the times they are a-changin'."

We have obtained all kinds of beers this year that we can't purchase in-state (traveling and friends). As we wind down this painful year, we look forward to a better one next year. Year after year, we hope for the next year to be more prosperous and less shitty than the last. Human nature, I guess. Enough pondering. Beer. That is all.

This has had time to warm as Jennie took lead on this. I enjoyed a shower to help with the beginning of the relaxation that is within the near future. With this new found, clear mind- I look at this beer, which isn't quite as clear as my mind. Although a nice clear medium orange color, not see-through like American Piss Lagers. A bit of white head lingers with a bit of lacing on the side of my trusty pint glass, giving memories of Bob Ross (happy little clouds). The aroma on this is worth a swan dive from 90 feet into a vat of this. Tropical fruit, grapefruit, fainter hints of pine and even fainter notes of malt sweetness make it nearly irresistible to not have this in my mouth right now (that's what she said). A juicy hop bomb washes over the taste buds. Like a tidal wave crashing on the rocks, the flavors blast my tongue in a refreshing burst of lychee, passionfruit, mango and pineapple. As the wave breaks and rolls back, there are grapefruit and pine flavors that take hold with a slightly resiny residue with some sort of off flavor. I understand where Jennie said she wasn't sure if it was Amarillo or hops dying... Are we the only ones that have this problem? The mouthfeel is medium, and honestly not as resinous or bitter as I'd expect from an IIPA with 85 IBUs. Oh... I seemed to have finished my half of the bottle before I was finished with the review. Bollocks. At least we've shared our first tasting of New Glarus with you dedicated readers who always read to the end of the reviews.... Right?

4.3/5 caps

-Nathan-

Food pairing: Thai pepperpot soup
Cheese pairing: Stilton
Music pairing: "Found Out About You" Gin Blossoms

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Schlafly Tasmanian IPA

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We follow up tonight's reviews with another brew we can't get in Ohio. Schlafly is a brewery out of St. Louis, Missouri, that we've enjoyed in our western trips to Peoria, Illinois. A friend of ours obtained this selection of theirs. Huh, we've only previously reviewed 3 of their brews. We need to up the ante on this.

My bottle didn't really have a hard 'psst' to it. The head on this bottle was almost non-existent. Shit. Oh well, no beer left behind. This was pulled straight from the fridge and into a pint glass. There's an epic chill haze to this. The color of the beer is a little darker than the golden orange color on the label. Speaking of label, this was bottled 9/18/14, this needs to be drank before hops start to die off. We've been slacking so much in our reviews with everything else going on this year (this review makes the 51st blog post of this year, compared to the 215 of 2013, hell even 22 in 2012 when we started the blog around Thanksgiving). Oops. We didn't get through some of the brews we wanted to- we had to drink some instead of saving for reviews just to not let it go to waste. To see all of the beers we've quasi-reviewed, you should follow us on Untappd. But back to the current beer review.

Weird, in the time that this has had to warm up, more head is coming out. Alright. The aroma is citrus and sweetness on this 7.2% ABV brew. The flavor on this is.... oh shit.... I don't know if I can give Jennie her bottle of this... It wouldn't be fair to her. Why would anyone make a beer like this? This smooth drinking citrus bomb starts off starts with a mango and other tropical fruit blast, some pine starts to make a precious before more juicy flavors of orange quenches the bitterness. This is one of the juiciest IPAs I've had. This apparently is a SMaSH brew (Single Malt and Single Hop) being made with the Galaxy strain hop. 65 IBUs on this brew, but it's not really bitter at all. Big, juicy. While you're drinking it, it's more like a tropical punch- medium bodied, perfect carbonation. The aftermath of each sip leaves a nice orange/mango/pineapple flavor lingering while your mouth is slightly sticky; half hop oils, half sweetness. This is a fantastic showcase of Galaxy. Hell. This is a fantastic beer. Hopsus be praised. I'm off to confiscate Jennie's bottle so she doesn't have to go through this torture. Side note, I now want to experiment with Galaxy in our homebrews.

4.9/5 caps

-Nathan-

Whew! That was close... Nathan actually tried to block the fridge so that I couldn't get mine. And then attempted to tell me how horribly disappointing this was. Not buying it for a second, mister. I did steal a sniff of his before cracking mine open, and wow... that aroma!

Doing my own research after a conversation with a friend this morning about this precise beer, I see that Schlafly's website is a bit confusing and contradictory. It lists this as a SMaSH beer (see Nathan's portion for a definition of this), but it also says that it contains Australian Topaz hops, which is a milder hop strain from the land down under. All I can do at this point is shrug my shoulders and delve back into that luscious aroma.

This has copious amounts of chill haze, having been liberated from the refrigerator about 15 minutes ago. It is a pale orange color, about the color of our newest rescue kitty, a fluffy blond ball of love (the other three kitties would disagree, although after nearly a month, they seem to have reached some kind of temporary detente). There is a minimal bright white head that sits atop my beer. As Nathan noted, there was not as much auditory acknowledgement upon opening this. I want to swan dive into this aroma. Notes of melon, passionfruit, and a ton of pineapple waft past my nose. Oh hell, this is goooooooood. Flavors of pineapple and mango seem to dominate, but passionfruit, guava, and melon come through, as well as a nice crackery note from the 2-row Pale malt. This finishes wonderfully dry and almost with a hint of black pepper. This, my friends, is delicious. Galaxy has quickly become a darling among hopheads from both commercial and home brews, and this is a perfect example of why. This leaves a little sticky sweet feeling in the mouth, but that wonderful dry finish makes up for that and then some. No wonder this lovely hop has become such a fan favorite.

I always look forward to Schlafly beers, as they so rarely disappoint. They do Special Release IPAs to play with the various hops and showcase styles from various hemispheres. This is a beautiful example of the most popular and utilized hop from the Southern Hemisphere. I hope to see this in Ohio soon!

4.9/5 caps

Food Pairing: bacon wrapped jalapenos (that have been stuffed with an herbed cream cheese or Boursin's Garlic and Herb variety)
Cheese Pairing: Pecorino Romano
Music Pairing: Vivaldi, "Four Seasons" (yes, all four. We have opposite seasons than Australia, of course)

Friday, December 12, 2014

Boulevard Hibiscus Gose


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There was a major announcement in the Ohio craft beer scene today: In January, Boulevard will be distributing to Ohio! This came as a large surprise to me, as I had a conversation with them in September where they said that they would not be expanding to Ohio "in the foreseeable future". I'll happily eat some crow with that announcement! I was hoping to come across some of this when we were in Illinois for my father's memorial service in early September, but it wasn't available in that area then. We did manage to obtain some in a different transaction, and I have been completely stoked for this beer since then.

I make my own tea blends sometimes, and my favorite is hibiscus and rose petals with some ginger thrown in. I fully plan to make a beer out of it sometime soon, but I likely won't go the sour route, as we don't make sour beers yet. I don't have the patience for that! Heck, this is the first year that I have exhibited some restraint and am cellaring some beers. One thing at a time, people! I do enjoy hibiscus in the few beers I have tried with it, such as Revolution's Rosa.

The Gose style is a German beer style, developed in Leipzig. It contains wheat and a surprising ingredient, salt, and often coriander to balance the dryness of the style. It also has lactic acid added to the boil which contributes to the sour flavor. Gose has been experiencing something of a revival lately, although the only other one I have had, that I recall, was homebrewed by one of my favorite beer friends who has since turned pro.

Now that beer school has concluded for the evening, let's get to drinking this, shall we? The color of this is not as pink as I expected. I would describe it more as a somewhat hazy salmon color. Hibiscus turns beverages a beautiful shade of pink. The finger of white fluffy head did not last long and has since dissipated, along with the initial chill haze. The aroma on this is tantalizing: bright citrus, pear, a tang from the lactic acid, and mild floral notes are present. There is very faint hibiscus, but hibiscus is not an overpowering flavor or aroma anyway. This smells very similar to a good Sauvignon blanc or a dry Reisling, oddly enough. The hibiscus really shines in the flavor, though; it and the salt are rather prevalent and make a lovely couple. You can definitely taste the slightly soured wheat and the coriander, as well as almost a freshly squeezed lemon hanging out in the background throughout the taste. This is really refreshing and delicious. This is rather light in body and leaves a pleasant dryness on the tongue from the salt and coriander.

Once again, Boulevard knocks it out of the park. This was the first year they made this beer; hopefully we will see it again in late summer 2015.

4.75/5 caps

-Jennie

To correct you, Jennie, we have reviewed 2 another gose (Leipziger Gose and Magic Hat's Saint Saltan), both in 2013. Looking at the Magic Hat review, we drank two PBR 30-packs a week as cheap beer, between 3 people... Wow, the times they have changed. Just to note, 2014 can suck it. We reviewed the Leipziger Gose on December 14th, 2013; we're reviewing this gose on December 12th, 2014. What is it with us reviewing gose in December? Another observation- look at how our reviews have developed. Is it because writing is therapeutic or is it just coming more naturally to us? Also, looking at the Saint Saltan, I hated my job back then because of the 60 hour weeks, now, nearly 2 years later, it's deeper than the hours.

Back to the review.

This is pale pink color with no distinctive head at this point (it has had time to warm up during Jennie's portion of the review). Perfectly clear, almost like looking through John Lennon's glasses. Yes... I literally just stock the pint glass up to my eye and was looking through it. The text on the computer screen was distorted, but visible. Huh.... Beer goggles? HA! The aroma on this is complex. The salt comes through, but takes a back seat to floral notes. This is interesting, and vaguely relaxing like smelling an aromatherapy candle. But it's not a candle, it's beer and beer was meant to be drank. The flavor is more interesting than the aroma. The initial flavor is hibiscus (which I'm a fan of), then a sour note comes toward the front and finally the salt, all melding instead of trying overpower the other. The sour note, like Jennie said, is almost lemon like. This is giving me an idea of a hibiscus lemonade with salt rimmed glasses for summer time, er, well, maybe an Arnold Palmer of lemonade and hibiscus tea in salt rimmed glass, alcoholic of course. Tart, leading to sour and as the sour dies off salty. It's an adventure in your mouth (so many jokes to make there) with each sip. Smooth drinking with tart mouthfeel that leaves you wanting more. This makes me wish it was Summer, but no, sadly, reality is it's December, and a harsh winter is most likely around the corner. Oh well, at least I have commercials on Spotify to sit through until I get to the song I actually want to hear.

4.7/5 caps

-Nathan-

Side Note- thus far, this is the highest combined rating we've given to a beer from Boulevard, the previous highest combined rating was  their Pale Ale.

Food pairing: Humble pie. Or baked tilapia with lemon and capers.
Cheese pairing: A nice Asiago would be great with this.
Music pairing:  "Summertime Blues" by The Who

Monday, December 8, 2014

Zaftig ZBS

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Zaftig is a small brewery in Worthington, Ohio, basically a mile from the hell-hole that funds me. These guys are amazing. Brent, Jim and Jason are some of the nicest, funniest guys you'll meet. This company started off as homebrewers who moved into the big-time. They've been open for about a year now and produce big beers (2 beers under 9% ABV out of the 12-or-so they have on tap at any given time). The term Zaftig, well, look it up, go ahead, I have time.... OK, now you've looked up what Zaftig means, now you understand why it's perfect for a company that produces big beers.

This particular beer has an interesting life. It started off as their Black Perle stout (which is amazing to begin with), and the mad geniuses decided to obtain a bourbon barrel from Watershed Distillery (also local to CBus) and age it, hence the name ZBS (Zaftig Bourbon Stout). The results are fantastic.

This pours an opaque black with about a fingers worth of tan head that dissipates quickly. Yes, I know this is poured in a pint glass when the proper glassware should be a snifter, but this is my trusty pint glass that's led me through nearly 300 beer reviews. I forget what the ABV is on this, 9.5% or 9.8% I believe. The aroma on this is worthy being made into a candle scent. I would love my house to smell like this. Oak, roasted notes (coffee, chocolate), slight sweetness, slight bourbon. There is a whirlwind of flavors rushing around, trying to pick them out front to back is hard. Initially there is an oak and bourbon blast, then that tapers off as some slight sweetness casually walks you to a nice medley of coffee and chocolate. The chocolate steps aside, leaving coffee-esque tones that linger for a bit. The oak and bourbon come back on stage, so-to-speak, to take a final bow with the other flavors. The mouthfeel on this is amazing. It's medium to heavy, definitely a sipping beer. The carbonation on this is perfect for a stout. The finish on this is slightly sweet, leaving your mouth wanting more, and possibly a cigar. The alcohol on this really isn't noticed while drinking it (read: not boozy like some 9+% beers), but halfway through a pint of this, you'll start to feel the effects of this awesomeness. I finally found a stout I want on a regular basis (as I'm a hop head who loves big, juicy IPAs).

My hats off to the guys at Zaftig for this. I was touting this up as a Founder's KBS killer, in case you skipped the body of the review to just get to the rating.

5/5 caps

-Nathan-

We love the crew at Zaftig! Their beers are wonderful and they are a great group of people. Oh, and I want their brewing system, a big, beautiful Blichmann setup. Le sigh, frugal homebrewer problems. The struggle is real, people.

Candidly, we were debating on reviewing this or just drinking it, as it was a howler that has been in our fridge since Saturday, which was the release party for this. Hence the improper glassware, to be honest. I would have at least put it in a stemless tulip otherwise. But here we are, with our trusty favorite pint glasses. I'm also the girl who will drink straight from the bottle or can sometimes. This is why I consider myself more of a beer nerd than a beer snob. I know (and usually have) the proper glassware for the beer, but I don't always need to use it.

Nathan nailed the appearance. The head on mine has long dissipated but was a finger or so of deep khaki color. As it has warmed the aroma gives way to more bourbon in the nose. Currently this smells boozy as hell. Bourbon with chocolate, coffee, and notes of toasted oak. Taking another deep sip, I'm pretty sure my nose hairs just caught a buzz from this. Silky chocolate and coffee play on my tongue, then the bourbon makes a grand entrance with much fanfare, and that fades to this lovely oak note on the back end that makes me want to lick the barrel. I don't care if I get splinters. By the way, if you can obtain Watershed's products, their bourbon is fantastic, and that is coming from someone who is excessively picky on her bourbon. They also make a fantastic gin. But let us get back to the beer, because we need to discuss the mouthfeel on this. Velvet and satin aren't as smooth as this. Babies' bottoms aren't this smooth. Ron Jeremy doesn't have as many moves as this. Bill Gates isn't as rich as this. I would maybe liken the mouthfeel of ZBS to cashmere, because it's not only soft, but also luxurious and rich. Hands down, the best mouthfeel of a barrel-aged stout I have ever enjoyed. The oak and the bourbon in this are just perfect, when in so many beers I think they overwhelm the beer.

5/5 caps

-Jennie

Music Pairing: Marvin Gaye, "Let's Get It On"
Food Pairing: Chocolate cake, particularly the one made by Piece of Cake in the Short North for the release party (made with Black Perle, the non-BA version of this)
Cheese Pairing: Mascarpone

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Potosi Snake Hollow IPA

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This is another brew that we picked up at Friar Tucks in Peoria, Illinois. We went through and each grabbed 6 beers that we can't get in Ohio (along with the pack of Destihl Hoperation Overload). As we move our way through these, I'm brought slightly down. That was our only trip to Peoria that wasn't for pleasure. As I've said in previous post, craft beer helps with feelings that you bury deep inside. Anytime those feelings start to come out from the cage you think you've trapped them in, chase them back in with some craft beer. I'm pretty sure 5 out of 4 doctors who struggle with fractions would agree with me.

So, Potosi Brewing Co seems to have an interesting, long history. I won't go into the history (for sake of losing readers) but you can check it out here. This is a 7% IPA that seems to be readily available in their distribution area, although Columbus, Ohio isn't part of that. This pours a nice light copper color with minimal off white head that dissipates quickly. The aroma on this is caramel with grapefruit and citrus. With each swirl, the grapefruit and citrus come more toward the front while the caramel fades. Wow, yeah, I just swirled beer. Does that make me a pretentious beer snob now? Damn, I hope not. Regardless, the aroma on this is good. The first sip of this is a slightly sweet caramel flavor with building, refreshing blast of hops toward the back end. Once the hops kick in, it changes my mind about this beer. At first, it was 'eh, another malt heavy beer that people are trying to pawn off as an IPA,' but no. The hops kick in and give a nice juicy burst of grapefruit and orange. The bitterness that's left is welcoming; slightly sticky yet not overwhelming.  This finishes dry, making me want more. Sadly, my portion is done, leaving me longing for more. This is good now, I'm sure if we had it fresher, it would be better.

This is our first beer from Potosi. Despite the name (I fear snakes. I feel like Indiana Jones "Snakes. Why did it have to be snakes?") I would love to try their other selections. Sadly, it will have to wait until we travel to one of their distribution areas.

4.1/5 caps

-Nathan-

Did you know??? This site can tell you what states can get the beer you seek, and vice versa. I have found it quite useful and it seems to be updated frequently. Insert "The More You Know" bleep and theme here.

I had no idea that each of the beers that I threw into the fridge tonight were from Wisconsin. I would insert some taunting here to Nathan about the Big Ten, but I will suffice it to say that I have Melvin Gordon on my fantasy football team. Yeah, because shit is gonna go down Saturday. Not like the shit going down in Ferguson, Missouri currently, but still, shit's goin' down. That said, our thoughts go to the people in Ferguson. Michael Brown's family said it beautifully, "While we understand that many others share our pain, we ask that you channel your frustration in ways that will make a positive change." Do the right thing, people, please.

Well, that got heavy quickly. So, how about this beer? I walked past it earlier, while my partner-in-equality was writing his portion, I sniffed it, and commented either that there are a bunch of Amarillo hops in this or that the hops were past their prime. I have since learned that Amarillo hops are present in this, but Nathan promised that it tastes better than it smells. So, let's find out for sure. It is a transparent, medium golden color with minimal white head remaining on top of the beer. The aroma is, to be frank, disappointing. Vague citrus, caramel heavy, and just bland are what come to mind when I smell this, perhaps along with some pineapple that is two weeks past its prime. It tastes about the same until that finish... oh, that finish is lovely. It is crisp and dry and lovely. The pineapple note seems fresher in the taste than in the aroma. The finish on this is nothing less than fantastic, and it saves the beer for me.

I am definitely iffy on the Amarillo hop. I don't always love it, and I identified the reason for that tonight: it tastes like hops that have seen better days, even when fresh. I would not mind trying more beers from Potosi, and indeed, would like to drink this a little fresher. Definitely not a bad pick from Peoria, though.

3.7/5 caps

-Jennie

Cheese Pairing: A medium-bodied white cheddar
Food Pairing: Ham and potatoes au gratin
Music Pairing: Anything by The Lizard King

Monday, November 24, 2014

Tyranena Bitter Woman IPA

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Well, I think they named a beer after me! Bitter Woman IPA tonight is brought to us by Tyranena Brewing in Lake Mills, Wisconsin. Although they somehow messed up my portrait, I am quite a bitter person who loves bitter beers. If I were better at Photoshop, I would totally replace the handsome woman on the label with a picture of yours truly. The side of the bottle, however, refers to an Aunt Cal, allegedly a former paramour of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow who ended up never marrying. Sounds like she was more sad than bitter. Nevertheless, we are encouraged to drink this with a bitter woman, so you all get to drink it with me.

My bitter story of the day goes something like this: As many of you know, Nathan is an Ohio fan, while I am a die-hard Michigan fan. It is Rivalry Week here, in case you don't follow the college football world. Not only do our teams play each other with all sorts of stuff on the line, but we also play each other for the championship for our fantasy football league. So, I went to put my seven-year-old to bed, and he asked me to read him a story. We are currently in the middle of reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. I looked down at his pajama pants and had to tell him no story tonight, not because of behavior or other issues, but because he had the audacity to wear Ohio  sweatpants to bed during rivalry week. He's not even an Ohio fan! (Northwestern, natch... because purple is his favorite color and he loves cats; they are the Wildcats. At least he is keeping it within the Big Ten.) I think that was a pretty bitter response.

Anyway, shall we move on to the beer? This pours a medium orangey golden color with a couple fingers of off-white head that don't stick around for long. It had some chill haze from the refrigerator, but that has since cleared. The aroma on this is wonderful. Grapefruit, pine, orange, and a hint of caramel waft past my nose, while no particular aroma really overwhelming. As I go take my first sip, I notice that the head has now almost completely dissipated. Flavors of pine and caramel overcome my palate, and it finishes very piney and bitter. I like the finish, but I'm a little disappointed in the beer overall. The aroma on this was quite promising, but the flavor is pretty flat and one-dimensional. It's almost like drinking pine sap. It is medium-bodied and really leaves nothing remarkable for mouthfeel. At least the finish isn't too disappointing.

This is one of two Tyranena beers we brought back from our last trip to Peoria. The other one will follow soon.

3.6/5 caps

-Jennie

Babe, we do this every year, but to make it official, it's 10:11 on Monday November 24th and That Team Up North still sucks. To edit your post, it's not 'Ohio', it's "THE Ohio State University." You call us Ohio as per your ham-eating fat sack of shit coach, who's on his way out, who defeated us once. Did you know he went to the MAC for college (Ball State)? Is that because your school was too prestige at the time to let some Don Vito-looking bastard on the team? He knows who Ohio is and who Ohio State is. For those who aren't aware of the difference, I'll do a quick breakdown. Ohio is a university in Southern Ohio known for its parties and riots during Daylight Savings; Ohio State is a university in Central Ohio known for its parties and riots during football season. Ham-eater and your other terrible coach (Rich Rod) have brought down your team to where one of your rivals has taken your only claim to fame as late (best win percentage of all time).

Football rivalry aside, This has had time to warm up some while she-who-roots-for-the-wrong-team did her rant. This now has no chill haze to it, but is a clear orange-golden color with faint off-white head lingering around. The lacing on the side of the pint glass shows where the head once was. Nice lacing.

This 5.75%, 68 IBU beer is brewed with Magnum, Cascade and Amarillo hops with 2-row, pale, caramel, and carapils malts (according to a picture from Tyranena's website). The aroma is grapefruit and pine heavy with faint caramel and earthy notes taking backside to the hop characteristics. The first sip, pine with hints of some caramel, occasional grapefruit zest coming through from time to time, but mostly pine. The finish is bitter and very resinous. Honestly, not bad, not A+. It's nice to enjoy something that we can't obtain in Ohio though.

3.6/5 caps

-Nathan- 

Cheese pairing: A grassy local farmer's cheese
Food pairing: Ham salad sandwich
Music pairing: Alanis Morrissette, "You Oughta Know"


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Destihl Hoperation Overload

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We picked this up on the way back to Ohio after The Phil's memorial service in Peoria, Illinois. It's been a rough year with deaths, for most people I know, but we have the solution, ladies and gentlemen. Craft Beer helps take away some pain.

We were mixing 6 packs and decided to get a 4 or 6 pack of an IPA to drink/later review once we completed the long 7 hour drive back to Columbus, Ohio. We stumbled upon this, a local to Illinois brew, not far from Peoria. We were intrigued by the sign at Friar Tucks saying it won bronze in the World Beer Championship. Ok, beer, Ohio bound you are.

9.6 % ABV, 85 IBUs seemed like the perfect treat around midnight after a 7 hour drive across 3 states. It's been many beers ago (and much turmoil), so let's see how it stacks up now.

This pours reddish-orange with about 2-fingers of off-white head that dissipates quickly, leaving wonderful lacing in its wake. The aroma on this has sweet, caramel, citrus and almost banana notes. The initial sip- a punch to the face of boozy notes and astringency that leaves your taste buds paralyzed momentarily. The second sip- Ah, there's flavor. Big malty (caramel mostly with some biscuit) take the forefront while the hops slowly build up. Orange, earthy, and grapefruit start and then that banana pops in. On the back end there is pine and a weird tartness until the bitterness builds to mouth puckering stickiness. Medium mouthfeel for a 9.6% brew.

3.6/5 caps

-Nathan-

I remember finding this at Friar Tucks and being excited that there was a brewery in a nearby town (Bloomington, IL) that was putting out good beer. I then remember drinking it when we got back and being a little disappointed. Then again, that entire trip was pretty much a downer, other than getting to spend time with some of my favorite people on the planet.

This poured quite foamy and as Nathan mentioned, the head dissipated quite quickly. It is a clear medium amber color. The aroma on this is caramel, mild pine and grapefruit, and on the third sniff, I finally picked up the faint banana that my beertner discovered. The flavor is... a bit odd. A rather balanced double IPA, with the requisite sweetness and not as many hops as I would like to taste. Yet it is bitter, and the banana sort of underpins the entire taste with the citrus, pine, and grapefruit kind of floating above it. It's almost like they open fermented or at least fermented it at too warm a temperature. This being a can, I'm not sure that that would ever work itself out. It's not bad, don't get me wrong. It's more balanced than I prefer for a DIPA, and I find the banana note a little off-putting. It's really sweet, yet the hops come in to attempt to balance it out, but somehow kind of miss the mark. It's sticky sweet on the tongue and medium-bodied.

All in all, a little disappointing, but from what I've read, DeStihl produces many other great brews. I look forward to trying something different when we are back in Illinois. 

3.5/5 caps

-Jennie

Food Pairing: An Italian beef with spicy giardinera
Music Pairing: "Paralysis" by Scott Weiland
Cheese Pairing: Smoked provolone

Monday, November 10, 2014

Deschutes Chasin' Freshies (2014)

Every autumn, many breweries harvest hops either grown onsite or at a farmer they collaborate with and brew a fresh-hopped beer, which means that they are added to a beer within 24 hours of being harvested. I don't care for cold weather or winter. In fact, I so loathe winter that I don't even really like autumn, simply because it means that winter is right around the corner. There is one thing to celebrate during the autumn, however, and that is harvest season. Harvest season means fresh-hopped beers. That is the one bright, shining light to this time of year.

Every year Deschutes changes up the hop variety in Chasin' Freshies, and this year's release features Mosaic hops, one of my favorite hops. I have heard a rumor that there is going to be a shortage of Mosaic next year, so I plan to drink and brew with it as much as possible. It is a beautiful, complex hop with a distinct aroma and flavor, and I think it elevates most beers to a new level.

This pours a beautiful light straw color with no chill haze and tight carbonation bubbles rising rapidly through the beer. When I initially poured this, it had a moderate white head with loose, soapy bubbles that has now diminished to about a half finger. The aroma on this! For the love of all things fresh, this smells absolutely amazing. Passionfruit and guava and grapefruit and grapefruit zest hit my nose. There are some light crackery notes in the aroma, but it's mostly a showcase of the hop. I can wait no longer; I must have this in my mouth immediately. It is as good as it smells, for certain. There is a faint pine to go along with the copious passionfruit, guava, and grapefruit that were present in the aroma. There is a slight black peppery note toward the back end of this that is a welcome little surprise. Notes of cracker float in and out of the flavor. Dudes. This. This is good. It has a light body and soft mouthfeel. I think I'll go sneak some of Nathan's and hope he doesn't notice.

5/5 caps

-Jennie

Really, dear? On the eve of the celebration of my day of birth, you're threatening to steal some of my half WHEN YOU HAVEN'T EVEN FINISHED YOUR OWN?!?!?! Wow, it must be good. Jennie hasn't threatened to pilchard beer in a while.

This has had time to warm while I showered and Jennie took lead. As I slide back into this chair, ear buds blaring music, I gaze at this beer. It's a clear light straw color with a small amount of white head sticking around, much less than when it was poured. Still some carbonation bubbles floating up.  This 7.4% ABV, 65 IBU fresh-hopped IPA has been calling my name all day. I've been longing for this today, despite never having it. It's like the desire to have the open road in front of you while not really knowing where you're going, but never looking back. The aroma on this is a huge blast of hops. Tropical fruit, grapefruit, and some faint pine climb into your nose and start a mini-mosh pit, enticing you to stage dive into it and join the pit. "Get in the pit," you hear tiny voices saying, beckoning you to be one with the hop aroma. I don't need much convincing with a fantastic aroma like this, but I always wonder if it's angelic voices telling me to join the hops, or if the sound is coming from the sirens, leading me toward the rocks. Upon the first sip, I can tell it's divine voices calling to me. Slight pine and grapefruit with slight bitterness initially, then a big juicy blast of tropical fruit that quenches the bitterness, leaving a refreshing feeling. The juicy notes fade as grapefruit and building bitterness takes the forefront. This drinks more like a session IPA than a 7.4%. The little cherubs with hops for heads sing the praise of Hopsus with each sip, giving a refreshing blast, leaving the mouth sticky with hop oils.

This is fantastic and a great way to forget the potential of snow tomorrow (only in Ohio can you have a high of 65 then it drops 30 some odd degrees and gives you snow). Do yourself a favor and give praise to Hopsus by going out and purchasing some.

5/5 caps

-Nathan-

Food pairing: Colorado enchiladas (you know, with pork and the green sauce)
Cheese pairing: Fuck it, go for broke. A damn good quality Asiago.
Music pairing: Neil Young, "Harvest Moon"

Friday, November 7, 2014

Knee Deep Imperial Tanilla Porter

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If you have been following us for awhile, you know about our deep love for all things Knee Deep. Belgo Hoptologist won a silver medal at the 2013 GABF. I have already started plotting my procurement of a case of McCarthy's Bane for when season 3 of The Americans starts. We have thoroughly enjoyed every beer we have had from them and look forward to a couple more. For such a young brewery, they are putting out amazing beers and have recently undergone a huge expansion. This was their anniversary brew for their second year. Slainte and we look forward to many more years of your brews!

This imperial porter pours a deep brownish black, as dark as 10,000 mile old engine oil. There is a bit of khaki-colored head that is quickly fading and leaving fantastic lacing on this 10% beast. The aroma is wonderful: dark chocolate, vanilla, a medium-roast coffee all waft past my nose. It doesn't seem overly sweet, which I was dreading. Taking a drink, there is a lot going on in here. Dark chocolate comes through first, followed by faint roasted malts, coffee, and then toward the end, the vanilla shines through. There is a moderate boozy note toward the back end of this, but it is not overpowering. There is almost a wood flavor toward the end that makes me wonder if they barrel aged this, even though there is no indication that they did. This has a medium body, great carbonation, and feels like velvet.

This is another wonderful offering from the great people at Knee Deep. For our first foray into a not-hop-forward beer from them, I am impressed. It's delicious and very warming on a cold, rainy Ohio night.

4.8/5 caps

-Jennie

This has intrigued me more once Jennie audibly said "Wow, what just happened?" while taking her first sip. That's few and far between to where it must be good. I feel lucky/blessed that we are one of few states that Knee Deep distributes to, as we've thoroughly enjoyed their brews. If I ever get to meet the Hoptologist (Brewmaster Jeremy Warren) himself, it would be like meeting a rock star.

We've sat on this for a while with all the things this year has brought us (death, death, death, death, think I'm missing a couple) but are now finally getting to sit and enjoy this on a cold, rainy Ohio night.

This has a deep dark color, as Jennie said, 10,000 mile motor oil. As I sit and blare Union Underground's token album, I delve nose first into this. Fresh vanilla (not that fake candle smelling artificial crap), chocolate, and coffee notes dance around my olfactory senses, bringing the realization that I just sat through 1 song just smelling this. Huh. Fuck. I get it, when Jennie said "Wow, what just happened," I get it now. Dark chocolate cascades the taste buds with espresso lending itself for a second before some vanilla makes an appearance at the party. The vanilla becomes the life of the party, but not too overwhelming to where it starts crashing into shit and wrecking your taste buds. I get the woody notes Jennie mentioned at the very back end, just to add to the awesomeness, yet complexity that my tongue is trying to decipher.

We reiterate that we like Knee Deep and all they have done. We are looking forward to reviewing Hoparillo and the Citra extra pale ale. I just wish that Ohio alcohol limits weren't 12%, so we could get your Hop-De-Ranged (although if someone wants to send us one to review, contact us).

4.8/5 caps

-Nathan-


Cheese pairing: Muenster
Food pairing: Death By Chocolate cake
Music pairing: Ozzy Osbourne, "Bark at the Moon"

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Thirsty Dog Rise of Mayan Dog

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We head into International Stout Day with cold, rainy weather here in Columbus, Ohio. Perfect weather for this. It's been a long daunting week doing factory work, with a potentially broken toe from an incident last night. The back and shoulders are in pain, the toe is bumping, time to enjoy something as dark as how life feels right now.

Thirsty Dog is out of Akron, Ohio. I can't believe we've only reviewed one of their beers! I feel ashamed. I could have sworn we've done more. Regardless, Thirsty Dog puts out fantastic brews. We've been sitting on this one for a while. We picked it up with a slew of other beers a while ago from our friends at Wine & Brew Emporium. I believe this might be the next to last from that batch.

The bottle says "Celebrate the new rise of civilization with this bittersweet, big, bold, black beer filled with old world and traditional Mayan spices, including honey and cocoa nibs." 35 IBUs, 7% ABV.

This pours your typical stout color; dark brown, almost black and opaque. No light coming through this. A small amount of beige head on the pour that dissipates quickly. The aroma on this is dark chocolate, caramel, almost a cinnamon scent at times and faint boozy notes. The flavor on this is interesting. There is a lot going on, I'll try to describe the roller coaster ride that slides across the tongue pleasantly. The initial flavor is dark chocolate, then a nice honey flavor comes toward the forefront. The honey gives way to a darker roasted coffee, which leads into a nice spice combo, I'm picking up cinnamon heavy, but there are other spices I'm missing. The spices gracefully bow and leave the stage, allowing some slightly bitter roasted and chocolate notes that ride out to the end. This drinks smooth. Without notice, you look down, trying to take another sip but you realize your portion has vanished. Hmm... Could I have enjoyed it all without noticing? Is there a leak in my favorite pint glass (yes, I know, not proper glassware for a stout)? Did Jennie sneak some while I was lost in thought? Regardless, it's a smooth drinking stout that leaves you wanting more (a huge compliment as I'm not a huge fan in general of stouts, I'm a hop head who loves IPAs).

4.6/5 caps

-Nathan-

Hell no I didn't sneak any while he was lost in thought! While I have been known to do that (cough cough, PseudoSue), I own up to such shenanigans. I'm a little affronted to be accused of such chicanery!

Let's get to this. My partner-in-zymurgy described this quite accurately. He also described the aroma rather well. Dark chocolate, honey, dark coffee, with a little honey and some spices such as cinnamon play across my mouth as I drink this. It's not as sweet as I expected from a beer that so prominently announced the honey, and the finish is almost bitter with chocolate and coffee notes. It has a really good flavor. I think it is a little thin in body, though there is some residual sweetness from the honey. There is almost a black tea-like astringency to this that works well in this beer. And it is most definitely smooth-drinking.

Really, this is only the second Thirsty Dog beer we have reviewed? I'm shocked. I have enjoyed every beer I have had by them, and we have had almost all of their beers. They are a solid brewery making great beers.

4.4/5 caps

-Jennie

Music: The Doors "Riders On The Storm"
Food Pairing: Baklava
Cheese Pairing: Queso quesadilla

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Prairie/BrewFist Spaghetti Western

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How does one celebrate the entrance to your craft beer market by a highly touted brewery? By drinking one of their beers you obtained elsewhere, of course. Prairie Artisan Ales is based in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and makes some widely touted beers. We happened across this one in a trade and look forward to drinking it. This is a collaboration brew between Prairie and BrewFist out of Italy, and is an imperial coffee stout with coffee, cacao nibs, and yes, spaghetti. As a brewer, I'm scratching my head at the addition of the spaghetti. I can only think it might plump up the ABV and mouthfeel a bit on this. But also, I'm intrigued to know how they did this. Did they put uncooked spaghetti in the mash? Did they use cooked spaghetti? Did it go in sometime other than the mash? These are things a homebrewer ponders.

Yes, I put it in a coffee mug. It's imperial. It has coffee. The mug is kind of tulip-shaped. It works in my mind. The only problem I see is that the mug isn't clear, so you can't get a great idea as to the color and appearance of this. That, and that I didn't have this for breakfast. Will you just have to take my word for it? Perhaps. This poured a deep, rich brownish-black color that is opaque and had a decent amount of light coffee-colored head. The aroma on this is wonderful: coffee, coffee grounds,  bittersweet chocolate, and just a hint of vanilla and booze in the nose. The taste of this is fantastic: Fresh coffee, espresso, bittersweet chocolate and a hint of vanilla all come in to play throughout the taste, with the coffee and chocolate flavors being prevalent throughout the taste. But then there is something else that sneaks in, something different. You can actually taste the spaghetti in here. It's noticed toward the end, and it tastes vaguely like semolina pasta. It just kind of hangs out, doesn't detract from the chocolate and coffee flavors going on, it just adds a bit of a different taste. This is moderately carbonated and really good, but a bit thin in body. It is fairly sweet, despite the bitter flavors going on in here. I want this for breakfast tomorrow.

Tomorrow is Monday. Can we please make that happen?

4.6/5 caps

-Jennie

I hate Sundays. They are harsh reminders of the impending hell that must be suffered until, once again, Friday comes around and leads you into the shortest part of the week. This is intriguing, brewed with spaghetti... hmm... I've heard of random things being brewed into beer (boxes of cereal, bacon. oysters, rocky mountain oysters), but I've never heard of pasta in beer. Eh, why not?

I am drinking this out of the bottle, so unable to tell color. Jennie basically nailed the nose (coffee, chocolate, vanilla and boozy notes) on this 8.7% ABV brew we can't obtain in Ohio. The taste is coffee, more coffee, some chocolate, then more coffee. As the coffee-heavy taste starts to fade, there are some vanilla notes that become more noticeable. Decent carbonation, smooth drinking. Finishes slightly sticky (but not sure if it's sweetness or hoppy, as this does have 60 IBUs).

It should also be noted that this is an 11.2 oz bottle with a note on the label that says "Product of Italy". Those Italians and their 331.2ml bottles...

4.6/5 caps

-Nathan-
Food pairing: This would be fantastic poured over your favorite chocolatey breakfast cereal
Cheese pairing: Porter cheese
Music pairing:  The Carpenters, "Rainy Days and Mondays"


Friday, October 31, 2014

Fat Head's Hop Stalker

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"Deep in the Yakima Valley, our hop-obsessed Head Brewmaster went commando in seach of his prized nuggets. His mission: Capture the freshest hop flowers he could sneak up on. Then he wet-hopped this bad-ass brew for a deliciously dank IPA. Out of the wild emerged The Hop Stalker."

"Pour it slowly, Unfiltered beer captured inside, go commando, drink it fresh"

All the text on the 16 ounce can of this 7% ABV, 80 IBU, wet hopped IPA seems so inviting to go Gonzo. Go commando, I take that as a challenge to go balls to the wall. Challenge accepted, Fat Head's.

This barely fit into a pint glass (makes sense as 16oz is a pint) with a nice golden amber color with small amount of white head. Very little head, which is fine with me, as it leaves more space for the wet-hopped liquid. You can see tiny bubbles constantly rising through this crystal clear beverage. The aroma on this is dank, like, well, Colorado knows. There is also a nice citrus aroma that washes over, with hints of slight spice to lend for a very hop heavy aroma. It's the season of wet/fresh hop, and I personally don't feel like going into that debate once again (Google it or check our prior reviews on such beers as Sierra Nevada's Estate or Founder's Harvest), we did that too much in previous reviews.

The initial sip on this is an initial blast of unadulterated bliss for hop heads like myself. This is so hop heavy I'm in my own version of Heaven, holding hands and skipping hops across beer vats with Hopsus. Sweet Jesus, if you aren't a religious person, and you're a hop head, this will make you believe in some sort of higher power. That higher power is Hopsus, btw. So the initial sip is just face melting, tongue rocking hops. There is citrus and pine and and and and and. There are so many different flavors coming from this, the taste bud to recognition process is overwhelmed. Dank at first, but instantly kicking into grapefruit, pine, mango, pineapple at times.. Flavor of the hops changing in less than a second between the color wheel, so-to-speak. The malt flavors are not noticed in this, to where this would be classified as "unbalanced" for those who do not have the same love, nay, lust for the Humulus. Dank, tropical, grapefruit, pine, citrus zest, fuck.... I can't type as fast as the flavors are changing. Even after this has been swallowed and copious amounts of hop oils are still around your tongue, gums and cheeks; the flavors are still shifting, running the gauntlet. The drinkability is decent, drinks like a typical IPA, but the palate wrecking oils makes this more of a sipping beer. The mouthfeel on this makes me have a semi-chub. Fuck it, I'm not even going to lie. I'm half-mast drinking this. The mouth puckering oils that are running rampant around are something spectacular. Hopsus, you have let your glorious light shine, and your light has landed on my tongue. With this drink, I accept you into my world, with this swallow, I realize you're all powerful and all knowing. May Hopsus be with you, and also with you.

All religious experience from drinking this beer aside, it's fucking good. Do your taste buds a favor and find some. If Fat Head's isn't distributed in your area, I've heard rumors that people do beer trades, and there may be Facebook groups for trades, for all you social media fiends.

5/5 Caps .... cause FUCK YEAH!
-Nathan-

I am not even sure how to follow that. Well, other than to drink it. And to hope that they introduce themselves in Portland in the next few days with this beer, because we like Portland people, and they should have this beer. And no, I haven't tasted it yet. Nathan wants to stare at me creepily when I take my first sip, so I may be procrastinating a bit.

This is a wonderful, clear golden color with some moderate white foam sitting atop it. The aroma is wonderful: heavy with tropical fruits, such as passionfruit, mango, guava, and a hint of a spice note. The taste? Oh yes, I just called Nathan over to witness the expression on my face. He ended up crawl-scuttling across the floor because he had banged the hell out of his foot on the coffee table. Eh, tall guy/Bigfoot problems. Apparently, I did not disappoint. He wasn't lying about the Color Wheel Effect: it's fast and hard. Prepare yourselves. I'll try to take you through each spoke of that wheel, but as my beertner could not, I give no guarantees. Passionfruit, guava, mango, grapefruit, caramel, pineapple, fermented pineapple (ever had 2-day-old cut-fresh pineapple? Only it's not bad here). I don't get so much dank out of the initial sip; it's more of the mega-coaster at Cedar Point as you are chugging up that first hill, waiting for the bottom to drop out of your stomach. And as soon as I say that and take another sip, there it is, right out of the gate. It's 4:20 somewhere, right?!? Holy hell, this is fantastic. This is palate-wrecked in a good way. This has a medium body: not too thin, not too malty, like Goldilocks' search, just right. Moderate carbonation, and Nathan was right about the hop oils lingering on your tongue long after you swallowed (in a side conversation). Yes, that is what she said, in fact.

Also, a fair warning: Nathan mentioned that people do beer trades. We are definitely cough cough not among those people. And he isn't coming off the last beer we have (as one most certainly is not earmarked for a trade).

5/5 caps
-Jennie

Food Pairing: fucking whatever you want cause your palate is destroyed!
Cheese Pairing: see above
Music Pairing: Bob Marley, "Three Little Birds" because with this beer, everything is, indeed, going to be all right.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Great Lakes Nosferatu

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Tonight was trick-or-treat in Columbus and many other communities. If you have little ones, I hope you enjoyed it as much as they did and that everyone stayed safe. Do you dress up to take the kids out? I do. Or do you prefer to stay at home and pass out candy? I used to dress up for that, too, before I had a kid of my own. I love both; this is one of my favorite nights of the year. In that spirit (ha! See what I did there?), we bring you our final installment of the autumn seasonals, Great Lakes Brewing's Nosferatu, an imperial red ale. It has been a few years since I have had this, and I'm looking forward to drinking it again. Out of a martini glass, because, well, it's imperial and because I have Halloween-themed martini glasses. Of course I do. You know you are jealous.

This pours a lovely color that is more amber than red. It had a teensy little bit of cream-colored head that did not stick around long. The nose on this is lovely. Caramel and toffee predominate the nose, with some faint citrus notes popping in from time to time. The flavor is pleasant, heavy on the caramel notes with some generic citrus and perhaps some pineapple coming to the table in the middle, and finishing slightly bitter and earthy with a note of pine that is borderline metallic. This is thinner than I would like in body for this style of beer, but it's not too thin. It is well-carbonated, and my mouth is left feeling a little sticky from the hops. The 8% ABV is not noticed in the taste.

Overall, while a great beer, it's not quite McCarthy's Bane. That beer was a game-changer, a category-killer for me. This is actually pretty close to that, just a little less hoppy and a little thinner in body. But hey, Nosferatu is made just up the road in Cleveland, who is having a big night of their own with the return of prodigal son Lebron James. As a vigilant supporter of the Ohio craft beer scene, I'll gladly drink this when I can find it.

4.25/5 caps

-Jennie

Nosferatu, named after one of the first Vampire movies (you came blame Twilight for the decline of quality).  Aptly named as we head into tomorrow being Halloween. This season is probably my favorite adult season. Sure you have Saint Patrick's day where we all celebrate being Irish (whether we are or not), we have Cinco de Mayo where we all celebrate being Mexican (whether we are or not), but what do we celebrate on Halloween? Our Scottish heritage of guising? Our witch/Salem Witch Trials heritage? No. Being drunkards with imaginations. You get to be creative around this season. Sure, I...er... I mean people enjoy the sexy cop, sexy devil, sexy cat; but I actually enjoy more of the unique costume ideas. My one buddy dressed as the "Aliens" guy from History channel the same year another friend dressed as "Mr. Mayhem" from the Allstate ads, a lot of creativity instead of the same typical "Oh, I'm a zombie, I'm a vamp" humdrum. Enough jibber jabber, time to get onto the beer review, fool (do kids still dress as Mr. T? I've been so out of the trick-or-treat circuit...).

As I watch Louisville have a dominating lead against FSU, and allow a comeback, I need this 8%. I'm indifferent to Louisville, but I can't stand FSU for reasons I will not get into on here. This isn't a sports blog, this is about beer. You readers put up with enough of our random banter without having to have me drag sports into the equation.

This pours a nice reddish amber with a small amount of cream colored head (that has lasted around through my intro/babble). The aroma on this is, as my lovely partner-in-basically-everything stated, caramel and toffee heavy with some citrus coming through. The flavor on this is caramel up front, faint nondescript citrus hops with a building bitterness toward the middle. As the bitterness builds, there's almost a chocolate note that pops for a second and leads to a earthy/metallic note. The bitterness/earthy/metallic phase drops out and gives way to a caramel/citrus/tropical finish that rides out for a bit, leaving a slightly sticky finish around the cheek and gums. Not sure at this point if it's hop resin or sweetness or a combination there of... I think after another sip it's a combination. Eh... It's hoppier than most red ales I've had (sans the Trump Card of Red Ales, aka McCarthy's Bane), but, as a hop head leaving my personal bias aside, it's good. For a red ale, one of my least favorite categories, it's great.

Side note before my rating, my last time drinking this was at a bar that focuses on craft beer (Bob's Bar if you're ever in Columbus). I was drinking this and shooting pool and playing darts with my then neighbor (we both have since moved). It brings back good times when things weren't so hectic and the world seemed like a happier place (this was 2008).

4.3/5 caps

-Nathan-

Food pairing: Whoppers straight out of the Halloween candy stash (when a food makes a beer even better, as this does, you have to!)
Cheese pairing: Chevre
Music pairing: "Nosferatu Does a Hefty Dance" by Pinkly Smooth