Saturday, January 25, 2014

Homestead Artists Series Volume II: Time (The Revelator)

Before we begin, be sure to like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and check out our YouTube pilot episode.

Homestead is just down the road from us. We've previously reviewed their Claim Jumper IPA and have been intrigued by them since. Local brew with a great IPA, sign me up. We were excited when we saw this at Palmer's, and this became part of our Christmas gift from our friends (they gave us a Visa gift card, it bought this and the Orthodox from Actual Brewing). This is bottle #163 of this brew. 163 sounds lucky to where I might play the lottery with those numbers.

This poured weird. I poured Jennie's first, crystal clear amber with about a finger worth of thick cream head. When I poured mine, I noticed there were chunks of sediment that came pouring out of bottle. Some large chunks that floated to the top with the carbonation. My sample is a hazy amber with sediment chunks. Now, this would be off-putting to a normal person, but I've had more sediment in a glass than this. The aroma is a slice of Valhalla. Nice citrus and tropical fruit nose with a hint of sweetness. The flavor is.... okay... I literally just stopped typing and said "Holy Fuck!" This is great. What you pick up in the nose, you get in the taste, only in a huge juicy manner. The tropical fruit pops with a nice blend of orange and some zest. This isn't overly bitter, nay, juicy and refreshing. This is what my birthday home brew should have been like! I'm excited. This gets my mind racing trying to think of how to even find the proper wording to give homage to this! After the initial burst of juiciness, there is a nice biscuit and caramel blend of the malt flavors that join together in perfect unison with the hops. If you're put off by sediment in beer, man up. This is worth every delicious sip. The mouthfeel is smooth and refreshing, like drinking a glass of OJ. Jennie better hurry up before I drink her half. Homestead's website lists this at 6.3% ABV with question marks as the IBUs. It's so good though, I'm fine without knowing the IBUs.

This is fantastic and well worth the money. I would expect to have paid a lot more than $5.99 for this bomber with the quality of product. This is a religious experience in a bottle. There will always be room in the fridge and my heart for Homestead now.

5/5 caps (wish I could give it higher)

-Nathan-

I'm not quite sure how to follow this up... other than I have promised to show Nathan the expression on my face when I take a sip. I was rather impressed with Homestead's Claim Jumper IPA, and I really want to try their Stove Pipe Winter Porter. I love that they're pretty readily available within the Columbus market, and they're really reasonably priced. I also love that they make sessionable beers, and that's their focus.

I can keep my partner-in-zymurgy waiting no longer. My glass has absolutely no sediment, although I'm not opposed to a little chunk in my beer on occasion. It's a lovely medium orange-amber color with a hint of off-white creamy head still gracing the top of my portion. The aroma is tantalizing, with soft-yet-bright citrus notes and caramel teasing my nostrils. OK, I took a sip. My reaction was not quite as over-the-top as Nathan's, but it didn't disappoint. A dreamy look crossed my face, and I said, "Oh, this is good." It's really juicy at the front and middle, and then fades to an earthier note, finishing quite dry. There are discernible pineapple, caramel, papaya, and general citrus notes in here that are fantastic, which fade into grapefruit zest toward the end. The biscuit and caramel notes that were noted earlier dance in and out amid the tropical citrus joy. Like Nathan, I simply adore the juicy notes in here.

To stave off Nathan from drinking my portion while my hands were covered in paint, I had Dad take a sip. His reaction was, "Oh, that's really good!" Then he promptly went to bed, as any good 79-year-old should do.

This beer has me longing for a beach-side chair in a tropical location, such as Fiji, where exotic fruits aren't considered exotic. It's a wonderful detractor from the several inches of snow we were inundated with earlier today.

Cheese pairing: Vermont sharp white cheddar
Food pairing: Quiche Lorraine, because of the fantastic contrast with the juicy notes. And everything goes better with bacon, nay?
Music pairing: Son House "John the Revelator"

5/5 caps

-Jennie



Sierra Nevada Blood Shot (Beer Camp #95)

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It's certainly been an eventful day here, what with being snowed in and following Hopslamgate 2014. For those who are unaware, a certain Columbus craft beer retailer has been accused of illegally buying the entire stock of Hopslam from a nearby grocery store. We're not going to get in the middle of the debate, as we're friends with both the craft beer retailer and the brewery who made it common knowledge among the Columbus craft beer scene. We didn't witness the transaction, so it's not up to us to decide whether a major transgression was committed. But the seamier side of me has enjoyed watching the fur fly in this debate. And you know what makes the unfolding drama even better? A craft beer from another brewery that isn't affiliated with the local kerfuffle. We're also watching the red-hot Columbus Blue Jackets as they climb the standings in the Metropolitan Division. Beer and hockey is a fabulous combination, in case you were unaware.

Let's discuss the Beer Camp series from Sierra Nevada. Every summer, Sierra Nevada hosts "beer camp", where every day normal people come together (by invitation... you can apply here) and learn how to brew beer. They brew several varieties, and release their favorite styles. This one, #95, is an imperial red ale that was brewed during the 2013 session.

As promised, this pours a lovely garnet color with a khaki-colored head that dissipated quickly, leaving a ring of lacing at the edge of my glass. The nose on this is precisely what I would expect from a red ale: caramel, bread, and a faint tinge of pine and grapefruit from the West Coast hop varieties used in this. Let's take a sip. There's some brown sugar and caramel sweetness up front, which fades quickly into the notes of pine, grapefruit, and an earthy note that come in toward the end. There is a faint sting from a boozy note, but it's not overwhelming (and at 8.5% ABV, it shouldn't be). It finishes bitter and dry, and there's almost a metallic note toward the middle and end. It's a little sticky sweet up front, which fades about halfway through the taste.

Overall, it's a solid beer. Unfortunately, my benchmark for all imperial red ales was set by McCarthy's Bane, and this one doesn't quite equal that. At the same time, it's certainly not a bad beer. I saw some Beer Camp 2013 on the shelf at a favorite local retailer this week (actually, where we obtained this), if you're interested in buying some.

4/5 caps

-Jennie

Well, Jackets lost, damn it. Thanks for cursing us, Jennie. But, it's been an interesting day. Hopslamgate has been an interesting read, especially with people coming out of the woodwork to give their take on it. As a neutral 3rd party, I will base my opinion when there are actual facts given by Premium and Bell's on this matter.

With that out of the way, I continue on this beer trek that is Sierra Nevada. An 8.5%, 95 IBU brew from a beer camp, yes please. We had one of their beer camp series a few years back, when one of the bartenders from Bob's Bar made a brew with Sierra. It was fantastic, so I'm hoping this is as good.

This pours a nice dark garnet color, with khaki colored head. The head on mine has lingered, surprisingly, as Jennie did her portion of the review. The nose on this is fantastic. Caramel, bread, citrus with a tinge of pines. The flavor on this, at this point is, hop heavy all the way around. There are earthy, pine, and citrus flavors up front with a twist of caramel malts balancing in the middle. The ending is a West Coast Hop blast. A nice herbal tea like flavor is faint in the aftertaste. This is smooth drinking, with a slightly resiny stickiness on the tongue. The 8.5%, at this point is not noticed while drinking, but is noticed after 6 ounces of goodness are sitting happily in the stomach. I just realized I was zoning off for about 10 minutes thinking about a concert I went to 10 years ago. Ambulance LTD. They were opening for the Killers at the Newport Music Hall. Ambulance stole the show, in my opinion, to where after the show, I got their autographs on the concert ticket. I wasn't interested in meeting the Killers (who were just up and coming with the release of Hot Fuss). If you haven't heard them, youtube them. And while you're on youtube, look up our video from our trip to Elevator. With that being said, I end this in order to get to the next beer, and later, to the neighbors for some drunken cards.

4.3/5 caps

-Nathan-

Cheese Pairing: Brie, Camembert
Music Pairing: Ambulance LTD "Heavy Lifting"

Friday, January 10, 2014

The Actual Brewing Company Orthodox Winter IPA

Don't forget to like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and subscribe to our YouTube channel. We're also on Instagram at @behindthetap and I'm jenniek on Untappd.

You all know we've been a little busy, what with putting our rough pilot up and publishing it. While that has been a ton of fun, it's also cut into beer review time. Sad panda face. With all the hullabaloo about this beer this week, though, we figured it was high time to take it out of the cellar and see if it's as good as the other craft beer reviewers in town think it is. You see, Drink Up Columbus gave it a very eloquent review, while the Columbus Dispatch kept it short and sweet but very positive. Both left my mouth watering for this beer.

Some things you should know about The Actual Brewing Company:
  • They opened in 2013 in Columbus.
  • The Actual Brewing Company is a beer geek's heaven. They have a lab. A lab!!!!!
  • Fred, the head brewer, has an awesome beard. I think he's a strong finalist for the Brewer Beards of Columbus, an annual awards ceremony I'd like to start.
  • Fred is very particular about his beer, especially the water that goes into it. 
  • They have received rave reviews for their beers. In fact, they were named best start-up business in Columbus in 2013 by SBB.
  • This isn't our first beer we've had by them, but it is the first we've reviewed. I've enjoyed their Fat Julian and the sour red The Mummy, Vol. 4 (or something similar... it was in a growler). 
  • They are also known for their coffee. I haven't tried that. I can't get past the beer.
So, Orthodox Winter IPA is their first venture bottling. They only bottled about 1000, so if you see this, get it. It's been featured at Weiland's, Crafted Drafts, and House Beer (in the Short North). We obtained this bottle at Palmer's. This beer is also available on tap, seemingly mostly at the brewery, which features old-school Atari games and fun on Friday nights from 5-10, and they just started accepting credit cards. I can't help but feel a bit of mirth when I look at the bottle. The puzzled ox with the hipster woman twerking right next to it. The dance steps in the background. I want to see the ox dance. But more, I want to drink this beer, so let's do that.

It pours a lovely brown cola color, with a fluffy khaki head. As I poured this, I kept "oohing" and "aahing", because the nose on this is lovely. The aroma is tropical fruit, freshly mowed grass, and sweet caramel malts. Taking a sip, this is perfectly balanced, and not the hop bomb you might be expecting. Let me see if I can take you through this, note by note. It starts off with a bready note from the malt, then goes into some pine, lychee, grapefruit, and mango and that freshly mowed grass, and then the malts come back in to play on your tongue and remind you that hey, this is a complex beer, before a bitter grapefruit zest and fresh pine needles come in to finish off the taste. It's soft in the mouth, and the 6.9% ABV (heehee) is not noticed. It's a little sticky sweet, but not overwhelmingly so.

This is a remarkably crafted IPA, unlike so many, where hops are overly used to cover up a bad beer. Fred's attention to detail is evident in every sip of this. Being a hophead, I've been looking forward to an IPA from The Actual Brewing Company, and they delivered, and it's delicious. At $8.99 for a 750mL bottle (because it's just too weird to call it a fifth when it contains beer), I'll be seeking some more.

5/5 caps

-Jennie

My half has had time to warm up as my Partner-in-Beer has had time to inform you valued readers of Actual Brewing. This looks like cola, even the head on it. It beckons the Cola Wars in my mind, where the dark side was led by Coke Vader and the rebel alliance was represented by Pepsi Skywalker. I'm pretty sure that's how it went. Regardless, we're discussing beer. There is something to be said about IPAs, and that thing is I LOVE IPAS! I've had fantastic, good, and bad IPAs over my drinking career, and I've figured out what I love and what I don't.

The aroma on this gives off, by this point, more grass and caramel than the initial tropical fruits I got a whiff of when Jennie first poured this. There's also something almost astringent in the aroma, but not an unwelcoming sort of addition.

The first sip.... hang on... There is a lot going on in here. Up front there is nice tropical fruit, then there is a hit of pine on the tongue. The hops fade away for a minute to give way to some caramel/toffee like flavors from the malts, then a nice roasted malt, almost coffee/dark chocolate to round it out. There's a nice slightly sweet stickiness that coats the mouth while there is a faint aftertaste, like drinking a good coffee, with a tinge of bitterness.

This isn't the typical hop bomb I think of when I think IPA. It's a lot more balanced. A beautiful blend to show the flavor profiles of the hops and the malts. I've not yet met Fred, but I look forward to it.

There is a nice warmth about. almost like a robust porter gives while you're sipping on it on a Winter night (which is what this is, surprise 1 1/2" of snow!). This seems like a sophisticated beer. I don't mean that in any sort of pretentious way, just more of I find myself stroking my chin and contemplating many different things (from the phrasing I use in this, to flashbacks from the work day, to making a home-made car with a small motorcycle engine, to when Ralph Steadman's documentary will be shown around town, so on and so forth).  My palate has officially been both thoroughly satisfied and overloaded with all the happenings of this brew. Cheers, Actual, and here's to enjoying more selections from you.

5/5 caps

-Nathan-

Saturday, January 4, 2014

New Year New Design

So we have redesigned the blog to represent a new year, and we would like your opinion.

Please take the poll located on the right side of the page to let us know what you think of the new design.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Release of Behind The Tap's Pilot Episode

We've released our pilot episode and you can now view it online! It's also available in 2D... Please like and share if you'd like to see more.