Monday, September 29, 2014

Brooklyn Blast!

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How else to make a solid case of the Mondays go away than to drink from our stockpile of good beer? Actually, my Mondays aren't too bad... I get some peace while the child is at school and Nathan is at work, get stuff done around the house, and get in a good run. For the most part, I can't complain about Mondays. But they are still a great excuse to drink beer, don't you agree? Mean Girls is playing in the background while Nathan packages a metric fuckton of beer for an epic beer trade. Actually, this is a pretty great night.

I actually really enjoy Brooklyn's beers, despite us only having reviewed two of them to date. They produce consistently solid brews, right down to their lager. This is their "big" IPA offering, which is brewed with both American and English hops because New York City is halfway between the Pacific Northwest and England. Interesting concept.  Coming in at 8.4%, this recently went from being a seasonal brew to being offered year-round.

This pours a beautiful medium golden orange color with a finger or so of white head. The aroma on this is caramel and citrus with some almost grassy notes to round it out. There is also a bang of pineapple in the nose. Taking a sip, it's almost all caramel and it's very malt-forward. The grassy and pineapple notes really come through in the taste, as well as some vague lemon and orange. It is a very well-balanced "big" IPA without a ton of hop bitterness, yet it's not overly sweet. The mouthfeel is well-carbonated and not too sticky.

Overall, I can't decide whether I like this a lot or not. It has been well-documented that I adore hops. But I can also applaud the use of milder English hops to balance out the palate-killers that are most of those from the Pacific Northwest. It's good, but of course, I would prefer it to be a showcase of the hops.

4/5 caps


While Jennie had a mellow day, my day was chaotic and another example of why I need to get out of shipping. For 7 years, I've wasted my life in this position, only to be bombarded at home with packaging 15 twelve-ounce bottles, a sixteen-ounce can, a twelve-ounce can, and 5 twenty-two- ounce bottles thoroughly to survive the long journey of private courier from Columbus, Ohio to Iowa. 39 pounds of beer and packaging, the packaging that represents pain and agony of work. Sigh. At least there's one reward, good beer.

As this has had time to warm up some, there's still a little bit of white head lingering on this golden orange nectar. This has an aroma, at this point, of fresh cut grass, slight caramel with faint hints of citrus and tropical fruits. As I swirl it (FUCK! I'm officially a beer snob!), the caramel comes out more and the other aromas dissipate. The first sip is caramel heavy with some malty stickiness up front, the hops come in about 2-3 seconds later, lending pineapple and citrus flavors. The stickiness fades after the hops come in, and this finishes slightly juicy.

As I listen to the happy bubbling of the fermenting bucket (a soon to be 11%+ ABV Count Chocula Stout), I reflect on the flavor profile of the Blast! It's not the hop bomb I typically adore, but it's not bad. I would happily turn non-IPA drinkers onto this to get them turn to the Hop Side. By the way, do you have a moment to talk about our lord and savior, Hopsus? The 8.4% ABV on this isn't noticed initially, but with each sip, a nice warming sensation comes over you as the constant 'blub blub blub' of the airlock is pounding in your ear, much like the Tell-Tale Heart. Blub blub, blub blub.... I seem to be rambling and apparently as this warms ups, it still has the same flavor profiles that Jennie noticed when this was cold.

4.1/5 caps


Cheese pairing: Double Gloucester
Food pairing: Chicken vindaloo
Music pairing: Beastie Boys, "No Sleep 'Til Brooklyn"

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Southern Tier Gemini

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We delve back into our reviews after a lot on our plates. We'd rather have a lot on our palates. So to kick off our hitting hard and heavy, we crack open a 9% ABV brew; made with 6 different hops and 4 different malts. I love how Southern Tier puts that one their labels (helps out decode it for homebrewers trying to build a clone). I have no idea on the IBUs, I cannot find anything definitive on it.

This pours a a nice copper color with small amount of white head. Decent carbonation, especially for us sitting on it for about 3 or so months. Yeah, I know, we shouldn't have sat on it for long, but with the amount of shit that we had going on, beer reviews weren't a priority. The aroma on this is pine, grapefruit, caramel, toffee, and a faint boozy note.

The flavor is interesting. There's a nice smooth wave of sweetness up front. There's a biscuit note that leads into the caramel and toffee that was picked up in the nose. There's a blast of bitterness toward the backend with some of the hop flavors previously mentioned in the nose. For being 'super hopped', according to the label, I expected more hops. The faint boozy note that you read in the aroma portion is faint after the hop blast (please tell me you're actually reading these reviews and not just clicking the link to make it appear on a second window so you can try and hide from your wife that you're secretly looking at underage Asian goat porn). This drinks smooth with a light sticky, yet dry finish. 

Overall, good beer, wish there was more hop characteristics to it.

4/5 caps


I think we actually have been sitting on this for longer than three months, probably closer to six. I think it was springtime when we picked this up, and it was definitely before my father got sick. Therefore, there is a really good chance that this was way hoppier when we procured it, and the hops have since died out. I feel terrible reviewing something that should have been drank fresh, but this year has been a juggernaut unto itself and not in a good way.

I would consider the color to be more of a medium-golden, and even after Nathan wrote his portion, there is still some white head sitting on top of the brew. The aroma on this is pine, grapefruit, toffee, caramel, and there's a very boozy note that comes out toward the end. Oh man, I wish we would have drank this fresh; the hops have definitely faded. Nathan described the taste profile on this quite accurately. I pick up grapefruit, orange, toffee, caramel, biscuit, and on the back side, there is a definite, noticeable blast of booze. You can definitely tell that this was once a very well-balanced hop bomb.

Oh shit, there's Nathan right behind me, time to ditch the underage Asian goat porn.

My inner hophead is crying right now. I can only imagine how amazing this was fresh. Eh, I'm already emotional today (just reflecting on my dad and life since, and having just learned of a friend passing the day after he did, and of another partner of a friend passing away this evening. 2014, I'm really over your shit). Shedding a couple of tears over hops lost or fading from their former glory seems perfectly acceptable and even appropriate. Diane and Philip, I raise this glass to you tonight in Wendy's and Dan's memories. And Gemini, I look forward to our next meeting.

4/5 caps


Music Pairing: Elton John, "Candle in the Wind"
Food Pairing: General Tso's Chicken
Cheese Pairing: Blue Stilton

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Staas Brewing 2x IPA

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Have you ever had one of those weekends where you determine that your liver is evil and must be punished? That was us last weekend. Between game days Saturday, Nathan's sort-of reunion Saturday night, and the beer festival Sunday, our livers are still revolting against us. The best part of the weekend was that, while I was at home watching "Brave" with my kiddo, Nathan went to his quasi-reunion (I'll let him explain that one further) in Delaware, about a half hour north of here. We have followed with interest the opening of Delaware's only current brewery and their subsequent first year and change of success. Alas, this is my first time trying their beer, as we just haven't made it to Delaware as often as we would like.

Staas was started by a husband and wife team who had a great passion for homebrewing. They sold their house in Columbus and risked everything -- their life savings, the kindness and graciousness of family and friends, their street cred as homebrewers, etc. -- on opening a brewery in Delaware. Theirs is a story I love. Staas has grown quite a bit of the year-plus they have been open, and they have branched away from the more comfortable styles (they currently have a cinnamon basil saison on tap, and they do a juniper ale that sounds fantastic). Also, if you are looking to alleviate some fog on a Sunday morning, you can head over to Mingo Park around 11:00 and play flag football with the brew crew.

I sent Nathan off with a growler Saturday. He showed up at home with their 2x IPA, which was well sealed with, wait for it, bacon tape. It hands down wins for packaging alone. Also, it should be noted that they do fill other establishments' growlers. OK, enough rambling, I'm dying to try this beer.

The 2x IPA pours a deep amber color that is opaque fresh out of the fridge. After my loquaciousness above, some of the chill haze has abated, but it's still more cloudy than translucent. Even after nearly three days in the fridge, there is still a collar of off-white head sitting atop the beer. (Note: Kyle from Barley's mentioned over the weekend that a well-sealed growler will keep in the fridge for 60 days without compromising the beer. That was a first for me, but good information for times like these.) The aroma on this is rather faint, but I pick up notes of orange, toffee, caramel, grapefruit, and pine. Taking a sip, I pick up on citrus, caramel, earthiness from Cascade hops, and that all fades out to a slightly boozy finish of almost macerated oranges and perhaps a bite of peppercorn. Occasionally the faintest hint of lychee will make an appearance, but not nearly often enough for my taste (that is a purely personal preference). This clocks in at 8.7% ABV, so I'm a bit surprised at the bite from the alcohol; most 10% DIPAs don't taste of this much booze. The mouthfeel on this is well-rounded and a bit sticky, which is not unexpected from a brew with this alcohol content. Overall, I'm a tad disappointed. I was hoping for a hop bomb, and this is more of a well-balanced malty DIPA with acceptable hop presence, but nearly enough for my liking.

4/5 caps


So, as Jennie mentioned, this was a liver wrecking weekend. 15 solid hours of drinking on Saturday in 2 different counties proved to not fare well the following day. But in this 15 solid hours of drinking, there was a stop off at Staas. The quasi-ten-year-reunion was at a bar in Downtown Delaware, a block away from Staas. I'd prefer not to talk about some of the shenanigans that were had, in order to save the guilty parties any shame or agony, but let's get to Staas. It's a small place that, if memory serves, was a small law office, across the street from the funeral home. The joys of a small town, eh?

Regardless, after some drinking and football at home, and drinking and shooting pool at another bar, it was time for drinking and in-depth conversation. My friend has been going to Staas nearly every Friday for a year. She hyped up the place to where instead of a 'destination spot i already wanted to hit', it became a 'this is going to fucking happen'...

As I said earlier, Staas is a small place. A few tables, a bar and a game room; maybe seating for 40-50 people. There's a little gated-off patio out front where about another dozen can sit and enjoy their night, pairing their vices of libations and smoking cigarettes or cigars (as Ohio has a statewide ban of smoking in bars, well, any public building). They have some amazing woodwork that was done by the owners, a gorgeous stained glass window, and about 10 beers on tap at any given time. With them being a small brewery, when they blow a keg of somethings, there's no guarantee they have another keg of the same variety in the back (according to said friend who frequents the venue).

So here we are, Tuesday night. (well technically Wednesday morning now). We have a couple of friends over, sharing emotionally scarring moments that happened last summer... fuck... now I drink. I remember this was mentioned as being 9.4% on the wall, but I could be confusing this with one of their other high test beers (I had a flight of their DIPA, Cinnamon Basil Saison, Oktoberfest, and Belgian Golden before ordering their Pale Ale. The Belgian Golden and DIPA were high test). So I now sit down an actually give a full review of this. While sitting there at Staas, I gave it a 5 star rating on Untappd, with a caption of "Getting a growler.... this is gooooooooood"... So, that was on a day where my senses were dulled from copious amounts of alcohol. As of now, this has a rich amber color. The aroma is toffee and caramel heavy with some faint citrus and tropical notes. The flavor is interesting. it's a nice, balanced DIPA. It has the malt flavors you picked up in the nose, then there's some orange and grapefruit that pop in. There's some bitterness that makes an appearance toward the back as the previously mentioned flavors fade and some light tropical fruit notes come through. There are some earthy tones that show up randomly throughout. The finish on this is slightly sweet with a faint stickiness to it, like a Sugar Daddy (yeah, you remember those?)... Well, not that sweet, but, damn, I want a Sugar Daddy... or Sugar Babies...

There's also a booziness about it that makes you realize that as you're typing, you're not really sure if your typical modified stream-of-conscious meets Gonzo-style writing will work for this review. You start realizing with each sip, there's a growing disdain toward home improvement shows. Sweet merciful Jesus, this has a good amount of alcohol, which makes it worth the $23 growler fill. Jennie initially thought that was a lot for a growler, but doing math this morning in a sleepy state, I realized that at Staas, drinking per pour, it would cost between $32 and $37 for the same amount of ounces you'd get in a 64 ounce growler (only because I can't remember the price per pour). You also feel the sense that you're starting to ramble and should end this before things end poorly for all parties involved. This is a different rating than when my palate was wrecked. It's good, I want to try their beers when I haven't been drinking heavily all day (to get a full profile of each). I will be returning to Staas, and hopefully here soon.

4.2/5 caps


Music pairing: Green Day, "Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)"
Cheese pairing: Dill Havarti
Food pairing: Chile Rellenos

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Barley's Point of Origin

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Ugh. What a liver-killing weekend. After drinking for 15 solid hours yesterday (mostly Burger, some cheap piss lager and 5 different beers from Staas brewing - their DIPA upcoming for a review), my liver was about to pack up and leave. So, what to do today? How about North Market's Micro Brew Festival? Sounds good.

Like last year, we helped out our friends at Barley's and poured for them. So, as I was barely able to look or stand straight, it was time to prime my liver and get to it. Barley's had their Hoptoberfest, Infinity Grand Cru, Bloodthirst Wheat, Scottish ale, and the show stopper, the Bourbon Meyer (a Bourbon BA Russian Imperial Stout with peanut butter and chocolate). A couple samples of their brews to refresh my memory of the fantastic flavors that are in each and parts of a soft pretzel, and BAM, good to go. 14 or more different brews were consumed while pouring and chatting up different brewmasters, dancing with my pouring partners for the fuck's sake of it (we had volunteers at 2 other tables dancing with us at one point).

After the festival ended, we headed over to their brew pub for some grub, a pint and a growler. Gabe (brewer/wholesale/dept of awesome) recommended we try this, a Belgian Golden ale that's been aged in the brewery for one year. He said it keeps getting better and better. Well, with Gabe's description, we now are sitting at home with a growler of this nectar.

This is a gorgeous golden color that's perfectly clear with a small amount of white head. Looking at this more, it has some small bubbles coming up as a reminder that, despite this being aged for a year, this has some carbonation. The aroma on this is sweet, Belgian candi sugar, with some esters of the yeast permeating in perfect harmony with the sweetness. It's not the banana/clove/bubble gum esters most Belgian yeast strains have, no, this is more of the esters that are given off from Trappist ales. The flavor on this though.... holy gold Batman. There's a rush of sweetness with some dark stone fruit with some banana that fades as this slithers down your throat. This is interesting. There's so much going on with this to where each sip is giving off different flavors, it's hard to full describe aside from awesome. This finishes dry, like a good wine. With the amount of sweetness, I figured there would be some stickiness to the mouthfeel, but not really. Gabe was right. It improves with age and has a certain fruitiness about it. The 7.6% ABV makes it smooth drinking without being overly boozy.

Once again, Barley's is amazing.  If you haven't been there, make it a point to visit them next time you're in Columbus. Whether it be for one of our many sports teams (The Buckeyes, The Crew, and The Blue Jackets all rule, btw), business or any other reason, seriously, get your ass to Barley's for the beer and the amazing food (we cannot speak enough of the Sauerkraut Balls)

As I take another sip, again, the profile has changed. It's good.

4.8/5 caps


As we were walking up to the festival, we were passed several people who were doing their daily/weekly/whatever runs, walks, or bike rides in Goodale Park. I noted that, while they were possibly ridding themselves of the damages incurred from drinking all day yesterday or otherwise just being healthy, we were choosing to heal ourselves from the debauchery that was yesterday by attending a beer festival. Because sometimes, that's just how you gotta roll. I'll also note that while I rarely have a hangover any more, I woke up to a hell of a headache this morning. Two Excedrin and two cups of coffee later, I was ready to pour some beer and rub elbows with some of the best brewers in the state. (Also, said pretzel and several samples had me right back on track.)

Mind you, last year after the same festival, we enjoyed a pint of this in Barley's Ale House. A year later, we revisit this golden beauty. Nathan nailed the appearance perfectly. Honestly, it tastes like liquid gold as it slides down your throat. What comes to mind when I take a sniff is golden raisins, even though it neither tastes nor smells like raisins (thank goodness; raisins are one of the few foods I really despise). Can someone please explain that to me???? Seriously. It tastes nothing and smells nothing like raisins, and yet, that is precisely what comes to mind when I smell or even think of this beer. Aroma-wise, it smells just like Russian black bread. Like the stuff you can only get in Russia, because the ingredients here are just different enough to make it a completely different beast in the States. Or probably any other country. There's a honey/molasses note that is prevalent in the nose. Perhaps it's Belgian golden candi sugar. If so, I want to put that on my cereal. Oh wait, I don't really eat much cereal. Ummmmm, there is currently a mini-mosh pit breaking out behind me. I've completely lost my train of thought. It has completely derailed. Where was I? About to take a sip? Oh. Yeah. That's it.
Let's do that.
Let's make that a thing.
So, taking a sip, once again, it's like liquid gold sliding down your throat. Yes, there is some oh-so-faint banana, some vague esters, but this is the smoothest bit of liquid gold I've had in a long time. There are notes of honey and orange that appear on occasion. It's smoother than a velvet Elvis. Every now and again, you might, just maybe get a hint of something peppery on the back of the palate. But it is enveloped and cased within this liquid gold. I'm pretty sure Gabe, Angelo, Kyle, and Adam have somehow managed to liquefy gold and put it into a keg. And keep it in a liquid state for a year.

Please let it also be noted that Barley's, for me, at least, is a must-see on any tour from out-of-towners. A very relaxed, unpretentious atmosphere with beers and food that deserve a fuckton of pretense? My kinda place. [Note: the aforementioned fuckton is in metric, not standard units.]

4.9/5 Only because I'm more of a silver girl than I am gold (although apparently I do like gold going down the gullet. Yes, that is what she said)


Food Pairing: Barley's mussels. Even Nathan, who despises seafood, was contemplating ordering some tonight.
Music Pairing: "Apache" Sugarhill Gang
Cheese Pairing: A small-batch local habanero jack