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!

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

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


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 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


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

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Southern Tier Warlock

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I am trying to refrain from hopping (ha! See what I did there???) on a soapbox about the term Warlock. Male witches are simply that: male witches, unless we get into a discussion of ceremonial magicians, and that is a whole different category. But we are here to discuss beer, and to keep any religious/lifestyle nomenclature out of it, so I won't go full rant on you. In case you were wondering, I identify as a witch. Not Wiccan, some Pagan, definitely kitchen witch. No, I don't have any warts. No, my skin isn't green (unless I'm wearing green makeup as part of my Halloween costume. Or unless I am bruised and going through the inevitable cycle of rainbow colors). No, I do not worship the devil, if you mistook today for 1692. Yes, the snozzberries taste like snozzberries, just in case you were wondering. This is, quite simply, one of my favorite weeks of the year, hence the pumpkin beers.

This is an imperial pumpkin stout, the darker version of Pumking. I love so many of Southern Tier beers, although Pumking isn't one of my favorites. Not just of theirs, of pumpkin beers. It's too sweet for my taste, but since we haven't properly reviewed it, perhaps I should leave a little mystery? Something to whet your thirst for more? Should we just get to this 8.6% ABV pumpkin stout already? Yes??? Well, then, shall we?

This is supposed to be poured into a goblet. I have goblets, but I did not consider using them until after pouring this. It is an opaque, brownish-black color with a modicum of khaki-colored head that quickly dissipated. The aroma is pleasant: when I first poured it, it was heavier on the pumpkin spice, to the point where I thought "instant palate wrecker". It has had a few minutes to warm, as I moved on and off my soapbox, and now the aroma is more creamy vanilla with pumpkin spices and dark chocolate. Ooooh, I am so making a beer float out of this, and I have the perfect ice cream for it. But we will get to that once I am done dissecting this beer. This goes down dark and smooth. It hits your mouth with a punch of vanilla and toasted walnuts, fading into chocolate mocha, then a left hook of clove and ginger and cinnamon, then a big bite of alcohol booziness, then more with the pumpkin spices, this time around with a little more nutmeg. You can tell there is pumpkin used in the brewing process, but it does not dominate in the taste. The mouthfeel on this is smooth and round, yet it is moderately carbonated.

OK, time for the ice cream... For this particular beer, I have chosen a scoop of black walnut ice cream.
The black walnuts kind of tame down the spiciness of this beer and totally mellow out the end of this. It would also be good with a high-quality vanilla ice cream, but I like how the black walnuts play with the early nuttiness in this. My overall opinion of the beer is that it's good, but a little heavy on the spice.

P.S. I am lowering my rating because it has now been an hour since I last drank this and my taste buds seem singed. Even palate cleansers have not helped remotely. You know the Hot Pocket Effect? Yeah, that is happening in my mouth. After an hour. Not cool (no pun intended). It's enjoyable going down, but a little bit goes a very long way.

3.7/5 caps


Earlier today, I sent a text to Jennie about needing high alcohol beer to assist me in the shitty day that has bestowed itself upon me. I had no idea that I'd be doing 2 beer reviews tonight. It works. It helps wash away the agony of factory work. It makes me wish I was working full time at the brewery I've been volunteering for.

I'm kind of glad this is our last pumpkin beer to review. No offense to any brewery at all, I'm just over the market flood of everything pumpkin; coffee, ice cream, donuts, cake, candies, beer, so on. Side note, yesterday we saw a Christmas display at the local big chain grocery. Today, Great Lakes Christmas Ale released, Thirsty Dog's 12 Dogs of Christmas is out already... for fuck's sake people, it's not even Halloween yet. Fuck it, I'm just going to start buying Easter candy now.

This is dark, nay, black as the night sky. Any head that was once on there is now just a distant memory, much like proper timing of holiday decor in the sales world. The aroma on this is big. Boozy tones blend themselves with your spices and pumpkin, distant notes of dark malts, almost chocolate. The flavor on this is strong. It's your liquid pumpkin pie style beer, with darker roasted malts giving roasted and chocolate flavors to this. There's a slight charred-like bitterness toward the back end to give a reminder that this is actually a beer and not a dessert. There are some boozy notes on that start taking hold from time to time, leaving a numbing feeling in the mouth, like smoking a clove cigarette/cigar. This is definitely a sipping beer, not your College Football Season Beer Pong League sort of beer. This is a heavy, filling beer, like a meal in a bottle. Palate is still wrecked, sigh. I'm glad we saved this for the 2nd review of the night.

Had I not been burned out on the market flood of everything pumpkin, I would be willing to buy a second bottle, but at this point, I'm done. It's time for the over flooding of winter/Christmas/Yule ales. Sigh. I'm glad we have about 3 cases of things to review so we can sit this season out and not get into the epic debate of which Christmas ale is the best (btw, it's Flying Monkeys Smashbomb Atomic IPA).

3.9/5 caps


Food pairing: Black walnut ice cream
Cheese pairing: Habanero cheddar, because one's taste buds have never been singed enough to bring them back to normal
Music pairing: Omnia, "The Raven"

Monday, October 27, 2014

North Peak Hooligan

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After a rough day at work, I'm reminded why I do it. Beer, basically. This beer however is better today than ever. The Columbus Crew clinched the playoffs for MLS. Glory to Columbus! The reason I say this beer is better today is because of the super fan/supporters section at Crew Stadium, The Hudson Street Hooligans. If you ever get a chance to sit near them, you'll enjoy the game more. The endless songs and chants that go the entire match, getting louder with each beverage consumed.

Yes, this is brewed in that state up north, but North Peak makes good brews. This intrigued us the first time we saw it, sadly it was at a large grocery chain, so we can't give a shout out to a local bottle shop. Hoppy Pumpkin Ale. Yes. This might be our favorite idea of the pumpkin beers (and gives us an idea for the harvest beer homebrew competition next year).

This pours a golden orange color with a bit of white head that sticks around, still hazy even though it's been open for about 15 minutes while I gathered info (links and verifying the news about The Crew). The aroma on this has so many layers. Citrus, caramel, and earthy hop tones dominate; cinnamon and nutmeg in the background playing second fiddle to the glory of the hops. The initial sip throws your mind for a loop. There is so much happening here. There's a quick blast of pine that fades quickly as the pumpkin/spices come forward. The pumpkin/spices then dissipate quickly to give way to grapefruit/citrus zest and bitterness. The bitterness fades and the pumpkin/spices come back to blend with the bitterness and ride together to the end of the road. Nice lighter body with smooth drinkability. This finishes bitter like a hopped up Pale Ale or a lighter IPA, some hop resin sticking to the gums and cheeks, reminding you this isn't your typical pumpkin beer.

Yeah, in my book, this is how the perpetually overdone pumpkin beer should be done. Take one style of beer and give it light pumpkin/spice flavor, not trying to create a pumpkin pie in beer form. That's just my own personal preference, don't start searching for where I live to remove my head and replace it with a jack-o-lantern, Jennie wouldn't like that.

4.7/5 caps


We are! Massive! It's a Crew thing, you probably wouldn't understand. But it was started by Frankie (pictured above, he has also brewed beer with a few different local breweries), and it's a good thing. Anyway, Glory to Columbus, and we are looking forward to the playoffs and dominating all of our opponents and bringing home the Cup. If you get a chance, go to a Crew game and not only sit near the Hooligans, but also tailgate beforehand. I will suggest that Crew games are a more fun tailgate than Ohio State football games, and that's not merely because I'm not an OSU fan (I actually used to work the OSU tailgates). Crew tailgates are more fun and often more elaborate than football tailgates, and the vibe is open and friendly.

A hoppy pumpkin ale, right up my alley. My glass is half full (with the impending soccer playoffs, I'm optimistic) of a pale golden liquid with a bit of white foam sitting atop it. The aroma is wonderful: pumpkin, piney hops, and very light pumpkin spice with hints of caramel popping in and out. The flavor on this is amazing. A delicate pumpkin note comes in first, followed by some piney and earthy notes, followed by faint pumpkin spice (nutmeg, ginger, and clove predominate over cinnamon), then fading out again into grassy hoppy deliciousness. The finish on this is clean and bright, although as it warms, there can be an almost  metallic, astringent note toward the end. This is so unexpected and completely defies most of the pumpkin beers available. As Nathan said, it's not liquefied pumpkin pie, and that's refreshing. Also, the spices do not overwhelm the palate, as with most pumpkin beers. As North Peak's website says, if you are trying to choose between an IPA and a pumpkin beer, this is what you seek. The mouthfeel on this is light, delicate, and well-carbonated.

I'm now trying to picture Nathan with a pumpkin for a head... I am not opposed to this, as I am internally laughing really hard at this mental image. Nathan says I'm a meanie for this, but I'm still laughing. On the inside, at least. Never mind the insidious smirk on my face.

4.6/5 caps


Food Pairing: Pierogies and kielbasa
Cheese Pairing: a nice baby Swiss
Music Pairing: Go to a Crew soccer game and listen to the Hooligans, or check out this Youtube video

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Revolution Unsessionable

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This little beauty made an appearance on the Columbus beer scene this week, and it flew off the shelves. It was originally released in September, apparently, and has been a very popular beer from Revolution Brewing, who claims it is the biggest beer they have ever brewed, and their first specialty beer to be canned. If you will recall, we love what Revolution is doing. Anti-Hero is one of our favorite go-to IPAs. We recently fell in love with the movie Drinking Buddies, which is set at Revolution Brewing. I was raised not far from Chicago, and I love the city. I am thrilled that Revolution is doing so well, although next time, would it be too much to ask for a Giordano's pizza delivered with my six-pack? Goodthanks.

This 10% ABV, 100IBU behemoth pours a medium golden color. There was a pretty good amount of white head as I poured it, but it quickly dissipated. The aroma on this just made me sigh with pleasure... notes of grapefruit, pine, lychee, passionfruit, and light crackery notes floated past my nose. Taking a sip, the taste is not quite as bold as I expected from the aroma. This beer does not punch you in the taste buds, but instead, quietly invades them. The same flavors are in the taste as the aroma, but it is really sweet, and there is also a grassy note that I am getting in the flavor that I did not notice in the aroma. Fortunately, it is not excessively cloying in sweetness; I have really come to dislike IIPA's that are too sweet and clash malts with hops. In this beer, the sweetness just underlies the beer, complementing the hop flavors and aromas so nicely instead of overpowering them. It is well-carbonated and leaves sticky hop residue in the mouth.

This is Anti-Hero's fantastic big brother. Apparently, it was only brewed once, but let's hope that vigorous sales and demand turn this into a seasonal offering from Revolution. Now, about that pizza...

4.8/5 caps


Blah blah blah my random banter that I'm sure no one really reads. Fuck this, let's just get straight to the beer. I needed to get this, as it's the talk of Columbus right now.

I, unlike Jennie, am enjoying mine straight from can. As soon as I crack open the can, my olfactory senses are overwhelmed with pine and grass, with initial hints of grapefruit and lychee that come out more with each sniff. The aroma is worthy of noting the old "they should make a candle that smells like this".... Now, exactly who 'they' are has never been determined, so instead of trying to figure out who 'they' are, I will let this 10%, 100 IBU behemoth slither past my lips, hoping the bliss obtained in the aroma is equally as gratifying in the taste. Well fuck... it is. Big hop flavors that onslaught the taste buds, wrecking them with grapefruit, lychee, pine and some earthy notes. Eventually, there is some light malt flavor, but it fades quickly as the hops continue marching their way across your tongue, changing the flavor profile once again to bitter with grapefruit and orange zest. Shock of shocks, it's a nice bitter finish, but this drinks smoother than any other 10% beer I've had. It's abusive on the taste buds, but has the body and carbonation of a 6% IPA. This is fantastic.

We have 4 more cans of this, one of which will be spoken for. What to do with 3 more of these? Hmmm...

4.85/5 caps


Food pairing: A spinach and cheese pie from Giordano's. Seriously. Please send one.
Cheese pairing: Provel
Music pairing: Rise Against, "Savior"

Friday, October 24, 2014

Rivertown Pumpkin Ale

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We continue on our trek of enjoying pumpkin beers during the appropriate time to enjoy pumpkin beers. Fuck me. I realized this is the 2nd Rivertown beer we've reviewed (the other being Blueberry, which we panned). Rivertown puts out fantastic beer. I could have sworn we reviewed the Roebling, but apparently not, we'll have to make that happen soon. They recently posted on Facebook about going in a different direction in 2015, more sours and Belgian style beers, along with keeping the favorites.

Rivertown is out of Cinci, they, in my mind, are the only Rivertown. There has been another company named Rivertowne that has been distributing here since summer. I have yet to have any Rivertowne beer, although they have a pineapple beer that people tout about, but we're here to review this beer.

We mentioned this beer during the Blueberry review. We've had it before, and enjoyed it over the last 2 years (seasonally, of course), I don't know why it took us so long to review it.  This pours a deep amber color with some off-white head. The aroma on this is pumpkin pie spices (cinnamon, nutmeg mostly, faint clove), sweetness (they brew this with molasses), and faint pumpkin. The flavor on this is what I want in a pumpkin beer. It's perfectly balanced between the sweetness and the pumpkin flavors without letting the spices take over. It's smooth drinking with a slightly malt sticky back end. The 5% ABV will allow you to drink more than one without doing damage and the balanced flavor won't wreck your palate to anything else you may be enjoying. You can still tell you're drinking beer without tricking your mind into believing you're enjoying a dessert.

4.6/5 caps


Actually, I had Rivertowne (with an E) Pumpkin at a recent homebrew competition. One of the judges brought some, and his lovely wife shared it with me. Without doing a full review on that, as I'm here to enjoy another pumpkin beer by a similarly-named brewery, it was decent. I prefer this one. But apparently it was decent enough for me not to flag down Nathan or my other pumpkin beer-loving friends to share it.

This one is my go-to pumpkin beer. It's readily available in Columbus, and it's delicious. I always try to save some for Halloween night; it has become a personal tradition. Perhaps next year we will make our own pumpkin beer, but until we do that, I'll happily support the semi-local beer scene, or at the very least, the burgeoning Ohio beer scene.

This is a medium amber color with a little bit of barely-beige head remaining atop the beer. The nose on this is mostly nutmeg, with some pie crust (yes, you can actually smell some pie crust in this!), complementing cinnamon and just a hint of clove and even fainter pumpkin wafting past my olfactory nerve. The flavor is a bit more pumpkin-forward than the aroma, with the cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove all coming in and out of play as I drink it down. It's not overly sweet, unlike many pumpkin beers, and it is well-balanced as far as the pumpkin and spices go. The molasses lend a nice, dark flavor to the beer. It is nicely carbonated. The aftertaste is all cinnamon, once again.

In a horizontal tasting, I am not sure which pumpkin beer I prefer. The Schlafly was good, but a little "hotter" on the back end. This is more well-rounded to me. This one might have a lighter body, but not by much, and if you are drinking more than one, that's quite fine. After all those spices, however, my palate is pretty wrecked.

4.6/5 caps


Food Pairing: New York-style cheesecake
Cheese Pairing: A sage Derby
Music Pairing: "I Like It" by Foxy Shazam (also from Cinci)

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Schlafly Pumpkin

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It's official: we are smack dab in the heart of pumpkin season. Pumpkin everything is upon us, if you happen to be living under a rock. Pumpkin cookies, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin scones, pumpkin spice lattes, and, of course, pumpkin beers. I don't know about where you live, but Ohio released pumpkin beers in early August. August! It reminds me of shops that decorate for Christmas before Halloween. It drives me bonkers.... namely because, by the time I get around to wanting one, as the weather turns to those crisp fall days, pumpkin beers are gone. Never fear, we have been stocking up for the last two months, and have a few to bring you. This one, however, was a nice surprise in a recent trade, as it is not distributed to Ohio, and it is a fantastic pumpkin beer. We enjoyed it when we were in Illinois a couple years ago to move my dad out here.

Pouring a deep amber, almost garnet color, the chill haze has now lifted and a bit of off-white head still remains atop my beer. The aroma is liquid pumpkin pie, with cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, brown sugar, and pumpkin wafting into my nose. Oh, but wait, this is so much better than the aroma! This a beer in which the pumpkin shines. You can tell Schlafly does not skimp on the pumpkin in this, as it hits you first and stands ahead of the spices in the beer. The pumpkin hits you first, then the cinnamon, and the clove and nutmeg wait until the pumpkin is done playing on your tongue before making their appearance. There is a decent bite from the alcohol (8%) at the very end. The aftertaste is almost like one of those cinnamon disk candies. This is fairly well carbonated, and soft enough to make me wonder whether there is some lactose in here, and there is almost a creamy flavor to it.

This is a wonderful example of a pumpkin beer. I tend to enjoy them, but I know several connoisseurs who do not. I would challenge them to try this, widely regarded as one of the better pumpkin beers on the market, to see if this could be a game-changer.

4.6/5 caps


After a rough day at work, my initial game plan was just to get stupid drunk off massive amounts of high ABV, cheap swill (read: FUCK MY LIVER! IT'S FORTIES NIGHT!). I decided against this preliminary thought, as there was the opportunity to enjoy good beer and review. Well, so here we are, after a rough day, opening the Frank Turner cd I ordered off Amazon, plugging it in and listening to it while, once again, staring at a computer screen. As if I didn't get enough of the staring at a screen for 8 gruesome hours today. It's funny to think that the thing that makes you feel shackled can also be a form of release and freedom.

I gave Jennie the opportunity to review this first while still getting my bearings about my day. Since then, this has had time to warm up. This has zero chill haze now, with a rich amber, light garnet color. This has a small amount of the off-white head still lingering around, much like the work day lingers, only the off-white head is welcome in my world. The nose on this at this point is your pumpkin pie spices, but you can actually smell pumpkin in this (unlike most that just seem to be the spices). There's something almost creamy about the aroma, as weird as that may sound. Also, welcome hints of booze. Whoa... The flavor on this... It's like eating a good homemade pumpkin pie. Pumpkin still predominant at this point with a nice blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove; none of which over power the other flavors. Faint hints of brown sugar and cream make themselves known at first, but only for a short amount of time, much like a limited run of your favorite sandwich at a fast-food restaurant, gone too soon. Nice full mouthfeel like you just took a bite of pumpkin pie, to boot. I get where Jennie said the back end is like the cinnamon hard candies. I also see where she said the ABV is noticed. Neither are deterrents from this beer  for me despite my 'eh' feeling toward cinnamon flavored things; gum, liquor, graham crackers, candy.

If were were scoring this through a BJCP score sheet, this would have the check mark of "I would pay money for this beer" in the Drinkability section.

4.6/5 caps


Food Pairing: Pumpkin Ravioli in a sage cream sauce
Cheese Pairing: Butterkasse
Music Pairing:  "This is Halloween" (from The Nightmare Before Christmas soundtrack)

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Toppling Goliath PseudoSue

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Tonight we delve into a beer sent to us from Iowa, not available outside of Iowa and a few locations in Wisconsin. Lucky bastards. This is a highly touted beer from a brewery that just medaled at GABF a week and a half ago. Reading the comments on Toppling Goliath's website, as well as the high praise that our beer trade partner has continuously lavished, I'm definitely excited. I also noted that it received a perfect score of 100 on BeerAdvocate. I typically ignore BA as I find that so many contributors and "The Bros" tend to be condescending beer snobs who borderline on the intolerable. For them to give a beer a 100, though, I know I'm in for a world-class treat that is deserving of its cult following.

We intended to review this the other night in a horizontal tasting with Seventh Son's Humulus Nimbus. Shit happened, our awesome neighbor showed up and hung out for the evening, and writing just doesn't happen as much as it should then. When this arrived in the mail and was dug from the bottom of the very well-insulated box, I actually squealed. I explained to my seven-year-old that beer mail is the equivalent of Christmas morning for adults. This beauty is an American pale ale that is single-hopped with Citra, which, if you've been paying attention, is one of our favorite hops. The expectation and anticipation are both extraordinarily high for this beer. I realized this evening that I would be so very disappointed if I were to contract ebola before I got to taste this (too soon?). So, without further ado, let's get to it already!

This pours a medium golden straw color that is moderately hazy with a smallish white head. We need to presently discuss this aroma. I wonder if it's possible to swim in a smell, because that is exactly what I want to do. My nose is seduced in the most pleasant manner imaginable with grapefruit, mango, an almost lemony citrus, and light cracker. The aroma is straight-up sensual, like an understated vixen on a sultry summer night. You feel yourself being pulled into this beer. Even if you wanted to (and why, oh, why would you??? If that thought even crossed your mind, you are not someone with whom I want to commingle). Taking a sip, I realize that this is the quintessential showcase of Citra hops I have ever encountered (take note, Zombie Dust). It's like I just bit into a giant, juicy lychee fruit at first, then my palate is overcome with freshly zested grapefruit, a hint of spruce tips, and a finishing punch of grapefruit. Yet it is exemplary for the style, with none of the flavors overwhelming, and it shows itself to be a perfectly balanced beer. You know there is a solid malt backbone, but it's so mild that the hops shine. The mouthfeel on this is soft yet well-carbonated, not overly sticky but with just enough to leave you wanting more.

Quick, while Nathan isn't looking, I'm going to sneak his portion.

We received another beer from Toppling Goliath in the trade, and I'm very much looking forward to it. This beer is a game-changer. Well made, I look forward to drinking every last one of their beers. Suddenly, a trip to my home state of Iowa is in short order.

5/5 caps


After wrestling Jennie away from my portion of this (joking, or am I), I jettisoned back to the computer in a stealthy haste in order to enjoy my portion. Jennie has a glimmer in her eye for this beer. It's a glimmer I once saw for me, but now, nearly 5 years later, I don't get the same glimmer from her, no. Sadly the sparks died years ago and the only shining that emanates from her eyes now is for fantastic beers. I wish I was a beer.

So, as she-who-will-most-likely-leave-me-for-this-beer stated, this pours a gorgeous color, medium straw. Mine has had time to warm up while she pined and tried to woo this brew, but there is still about a finger of white head floating on top, taunting me, reminding me "I got your girl, fool!" The aroma on this 50 IBU, 5.8% ABV, girlfriend stealing beer is amazing. Lemon, mango, lychee, and light biscuit. I'm starting to understand Jennie's lust over this as I take my first sip. Juicy lychee, like biting straight into a lychee. If you're unfamiliar with lychee fruits, go to the Asian section of any good store (or even an Asian grocery store) and pick up a can. After the fantastic lychee flavor starts to mellow out, my old friend grapefruit makes an appearance, riding off with me into the sunset. Fuck. I think I might leave Jennie for this beer. I get it now. This is smooth drinking with a nice finish. Fuck. Yeah.... I'm going to go pack a bag right now and move to the brewery. I'll live among the grain bags; undetected in the day, sneaking fresh bottles of this at night. Eventually, I'll grow and beard and walk among the brewers unbeknownst to them that I am a stow away.

5/5 caps


Music pairing: The Lemonheads' cover of "Mrs. Robinson"
Food pairing: Sticky Burger (bacon cheese burger with grilled onion and peanut butter)
Cheese pairing: A non-smoked gouda

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Seventh Son Humulus Nimbus

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So to start off, yes, we've quasi-previously reviewed this at the Fiery Foods Fest back in February. With the palate shot then after a still-memorable inferno pizza, I don't believe we did justice to the 6% ABV, 53 IBU fantastic brew. It's still shocking to me that we haven't done as many local breweries as we should, as we have a fantastic brewing community that gets along all while producing fantastic brew. We've met a good portion of the professional brewing community here in town and I cannot speak ill of any of them. They're all good people and there's no animosity between any of them. To quote Frank Turner, "Colleges and friends condensed with a smile, yeah, but this is my culture, man, this is my home." The community is another reason I want to quit my factory life and get into the brewing scene. Even helping out different breweries with festivals or canning/bottling days, they treat their customers like they are part of their family.

So tonight, we thoroughly review a highly touted local beer; soon, we get into a highly touted brew that we obtained in a beer trade (Matt, we had every intention of getting to it tonight, I swear!). Seventh Son's website has this:
"A pale golden ale that is both super crisp and super hop forward with a refreshing mouthfeel and a summer friendly 6% abv. Mosaic & simcoe hops lend tart blueberry and fragrant pine to a pleasingly bitter dandelion finish. We wanted the hops to be the star in this seasonal offering taking its name from both the hop plant, Humulus Lupulus, and its light color and cloud-like feel, nimbus."

The color is, well, a perfect golden color. Good carbonation, leaving a nice white, foamy head that sticks around. The aroma on this.... yeah. Their website nailed most of it with blueberry and pine. I'm also picking up notes of almost mango-like notes. Amazing aroma.  The flavor on this is a wild trip of what you got in the nose, plus a whole lot more. It starts off with the blueberry, mango combo, and kicks in with some orange, all with a juicy blast that quenches your thirst. Midway through, there's some bitterness that starts to appear, with some faint earthy notes giving way to the pine notes that take hold at this moment, faint tea notes come through for a second. The hop stickiness is definitely making itself noticed by the time you get to the finish, which I will argue with their website's description. You get the dandelion in the finish, but there's so much more. The tropical fruits make a reappearance along with some faint grapefruit and orange notes. This finishes sticky from the hops. I don't really get much malt flavor from this throughout the entire thing. It's a great showcasing of the hops without overdoing it. Colin and Max rock.

4.8/5 caps


Mmmmm. Mosaic hops, currently at the top of my hops list (no worries, Simcoe is on that list, too). They lend such a lovely, complex note to each beer to which they are lovingly added. At the North Market Microbrew Festival, I recall immediately identifying them in the flavor profile of a couple of IPAs (Truth from Rhinegeist and Musk of the Minotaur from Hoof Hearted come to mind, as well as a fantastic offering from Wolf's Ridge). Funny, as often as I have had this extra(ordinary!) pale ale, I have never picked up on Mosaic in here. It's most definitely time to remedy that.

Also, let me just mention how much I love Seventh Son's Seventh Son American Strong Ale. It's hoppy, yet lovely and just enough boozy. It was their flagship, and how I fell in love with Seventh Son.

As Nathan so well described, this pours a perfect golden color, with just a slight haze (and this has been sitting awhile). In the aroma, I pick up more grapefruit, but yet it's also blueberry and piney, with just a hint of mango and cracker. I am completely in love with this aroma. I want to swan dive into it. Alas, as my human form will not fit into a pint glass, let's reverse engineer this and force it into my body, instead of the other way around. Taking a sip, I would swear there were fresh grapefruit peel in here (proper subjunctive, bitches). Eh, fuck it, Nathan's description of it perfectly describes the roller coaster in your mouth, so go re-read his portion (if you have even made it thus far). Plus grapefruit zest. And just a hint of crackery malts hanging around in the back end. This is also perfectly carbonated, and leaves such a happy feeling in my mouth that I can't help but smile with each sip.

Do you remember the image of Snoopy doing his happy dance? That is what this beer evokes from me. Every happy moment I have had in my life flashes before my eyes as I drink this.

4.999999/5 caps


Food Pairing: Barbecued chicken, Wargoland style.
Cheese Pairing: Irish cheddar -- and this part is important -- on a Dill Triscuit
Music Pairing: "I Am Disappeared" Frank Turner (yeah. I know, I talk a lot about Frank Turner, but seriously, go listen to his music!)

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Alaskan Pumpkin Porter

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This was our first beer trade. We traded a 6 pack of North Peak's Hooligan (hoppy pumpkin, review coming soon) for person's choice of Alaskan beer.  He sent us 2 bottles of this and a bottle of their Barleywine from 2013. We cannot get Alaskan here in Ohio, and we're always looking at trying new beers (read: we do trades and have all kinds of breweries in Ohio that aren't widely distributed).

The only thing I know about this beer is it's 7% ABV and has a 85 on BA. I don't like the ratings on BA. There are too many issues I've had with their ratings (Argus Pegasus- we gave 4.5 combined, which would be 90 on BA, they have it as 76; Flying Monkeys Smashbomb Atomic IPA- we gave a 5, which would be 100 on BA, they have it as 88, and it's become a regular in our fridge; New Holland Michigan Hatter- which we were the first known published thorough review online, we gave combined 4.898, which would be 97.96 on BA, they have it as 83). Yes, we do beer reviews, our ratings are off our palates. We encourage everyone to get out there and taste the beers and make your own decisions, not just based on someone else's palate.

At this point, I must admit, I'm getting tired of seeing pumpkin beers released in August. It's a fall/Halloween thing in my mind. We saved doing reviews on pumpkins beers until it was October for that reason, just in time for the Christmas ales to start being released.

This pours a deep, dark, opaque brown, almost black color with some nice light khaki head on it, about half a finger worth. The aroma on this is your pumpkin pie spice blend (cinnamon, nutmeg, clove), pumpkin, and hints of dark roasted malts. The aroma on this is what Yankee Candle aspires to smell like. The initial sip on this is a porter: medium bodied, roasted malt characteristics you'd expect from a porter, nice chocolate and coffee tones with a nice creamy mouthfeel. Then about 3 seconds in, the pumpkin spices start faintly coming into the scene, lending themselves without overwhelming the roasted malts. The spices intensify with each passing second, blending in a harmonious relationship with the malts. Toward the back, the roasted malts come back out with a slightly bitter coffee/dark chocolate flavor that rides out as the spices fade. This finishes dry with a lingering sense of wanting more. It's smooth sipping for 7%, with an experience awaiting for you in the bottle. If you happen to cross paths with this, do yourself a favor and pick it up. This is one of the better pumpkin beers I've had.

4.4/5 caps


Oh sure, he just had to go off on the BeerAdvocate rating system. While there are plenty of good beers, according to BA, there are also some terrible ones, according to their rating system. We tend to disagree often. It's OK. It's almost like everyone on BA thinks they are a BJCP judge. Perhaps you should check out my Ohio-to-Oregon friend's podcast, as he has an intense disdain for any BA ratings. But by all means, please, don't go off anyone else's rating; discover the beer for yourself. I often feel like a sham having a beer blog, even if it is an adjunct to our one-episode (so far!) beer show, as we continue to figure it all out.

Anyway, before I completely wreck my palate for the night, shall we? This pours a deep chestnut brown, opaque as hell, with a bit of beige, not quite khaki, head. The aroma is very much pumpkin pie spice, but yet not overwhelmingly so. All of the requisite spices are there, but yet they're not punching you in the face (although I just got punched in the face by a gravity reading of the news of a homebrew on which we are checking progress and dry-hopping tonight. I'll taste you later, you sweet thang. Some beers just take longer to complete fermentation; this is certainly one of those). Taking a sip of this and not some still-young beer, I pick up on each of the spices in the pumpkin spice, yet they never overwhelm. There is definite pumpkin in this beer, as well, but like a pumpkin pie, it hits you after you take a bite. Middle of the taste, there is almost an astringency that I can't place. If it's from the clove, that doesn't hit in the taste or aroma, but whatever it is almost numbs the taste buds. Then it finishes with an almost bitter note of chocolate and black coffee. And yet, it's creamy as hell in the mouth. I want this. I want this in my coffee every morning throughout autumn. Or, rather, instead of coffee. Can we please make drinking beer all day an acceptable Thing?

This is tasty. I very much look forward to seeing what else Alaskan does. Their reputation certainly precedes them.

4.35/5 caps


Food Pairing: Homemade ginger snaps
Cheese Pairing: Butterkasse
Music Pairing: "Night of the Vampire" Roky Erickson

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Dark Horse Smells Like a Safety Meeting

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As we continue cleaning out our secret stash (read: beers we purchased to review but life shit got in the way and prohibited us from doing so), what else to review except an IPA that references a secret stash. This was released last year on 4/20, we missed last year. This year, it was released on draft around the same date, and in bottles shortly after. We picked up a 6 pack of bottles. The artwork beckons questions of what goes on in the mad genius mind of W. Ralph Walters, along with why haven't we drank with him yet? We're artists as well as beer consumers/reviewers/home brewers. My personal artwork is Ralph Steadman influenced. Here's an example of a pen and ink drawing:

Nowhere near the detail or talent of W. Ralph Walters, another reason I want to sit down is to talk art, not just beer. But speaking of beer, I seem to be missing the point of this, this is for a beer review, not art review.

This has sat in our stash for a while, as previously mentioned. With each one from our stash, we hope, nay, pray to Hopsus that it's the same as when we purchased it. We've had some that were and others where we were smacking ourselves for letting the hops die. We checked this into Untappd when we first drank it. I gave it a 4.5 star rating (probably because Untappd does intervals of .5 stars). I initially said:
"Nice citrusy aroma... flavor matches the aroma.... full review coming soon on behind the tap's blog"

Well, that was May 16th. It may not have been soon (see note above), but it did happen. At this point, I'm just hoping the citrus notes are still there.

This pours a nice, clear amber color with a small amount of white head, looks to have decent carbonation, judging by the happy little bubbles that are making their way to the top. The aroma on this is caramel, citrus, pine and earthy notes. This smells more like the only thing on my criminal record (read: 2006, it shouldn't keep coming back to haunt me) than it did back when it was fresh. The initial sip is caramel heavy with some earthy notes, mango, peach, and fading into slight tinge of grapefruit. It's not as citrusy as I remember, a little more dank at this point (hence the name, I'm sure). This has a medium body that goes well with the 8.5% ABV. It finishes with a sticky mouthfeel from the hops, which come out more and more with each sip.

So, with this being aged nearly 5 months:

4.5 caps (apparently, the rating hasn't changed)


Since Nathan is going to go all fanboy on the fantastic label art that W. Ralph Walters creates, I am not afraid to go a little fangirl on Dark Horse. Congratulations, Wiggs, on the nuptials. If you will recall, I went to college a few miles down the road from Dark Horse, and I love their beers in general. I have recently battled my fangirldom for so many brewers, and Wiggs is one, in particular, who I adore. If I weren't already thoroughly enamored with Nathan, I might snivel. Just a smidge, though. Sincerest congratulations and much happiness to you both for many, many years to come.

In incandescent lighting, this appears almost a garnet color. In front of the monitor, however, it's more of a reddish amber. The aroma is citrus, caramel, tropical fruit, pine, and a little freshly baked bread. This has developed into a danker version of its original, but six months later, it's still tasty. Nathan described the taste quite well, except there's almost a toast flavor toward the back end that caught me off-guard. There are a ton of tropical fruits in this toward the front. And then, just when you think you had quit the habit, a ton of dankness lashes the tongue to remind you again why you did. And then, way later, there is a note of apricot nectar that reminds me of Christmas mornings with my parents (my mom used to serve apricot nectar with her ham and cheese casserole as we were preparing to open gifts. As a child, the waiting game was pure torture). This has developed into a rather lush mouthfeel that leaves just a bit of stickiness on my lips, not from hop resins, but more from caramelized malts.

Last week we reviewed a Double Crooked Tree that had aged for several months. This one isn't quite as old, but I'd be intrigued to see how it stands the test of time (even though it's technically not an imperial, weighing in at 8.5% ABV). It's hung in there quite well, even for letting it sit for a few torturous months.

4.2/5 caps


Food Pairing: Green Thai curry, especially if made by my former Thai chef in Hilton Head, Anan.
Cheese Pairing: Cheetos, preferably the cheddar jalapeno variety
Music Pairing: "Santeria" by Sublime

Monday, October 6, 2014

New Belgium Tour de Fall

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I hope everyone's livers survived GABF 2014. We did not go, but we did await with bated breath for the results to be announced. Congratulations to all the winners, both those we know personally and those we don't. If you are in the Columbus area, the Daily Growl in Powell is hosting an event Wednesday evening featuring Ohio's winning breweries, with Columbus Brewing's Bodhi and Creeper, JABF Wooster's Hefe, and Spooky Tooth from the awesome people at Fat Head's. Tonight, we feature a beer from New Belgium, which is not local to us. It's one of the major craft breweries in the US, though, and I have a particular affinity for them, as their CEO is a woman who helped found the company. New Belgium's cellar manager is also a woman. Considering that women were likely the first brewers, women are just now really up-and-coming on the craft brewing scene. That is not to say that we don't brew great beer, nor do we have undeveloped palates, nor that we are not a part of the brewing scene; I don't know about your hometown, but I am a part of many pages and groups that encourage women in beer. We are just in the vast minority in the craft beer industry, for the most part. Hooray for girl power! 

Also, if this post shows up weird, Blogger is acting up tonight. It looks weird on my monitor and it's bugging me. Mercury has only been in retrograde for two days. Harrumph. 

All grumping aside, here we have NB's fall seasonal, Tour de Fall. It's a pale ale. We actually picked this up in Champaign, Illinois, on our way to Peoria for my father's memorial service. We had stopped for gas, and it was much later than we wanted to be arriving in town. The gas station also happened to have a liquor store attached, so we decided to pick up some beer to enjoy once we checked into the hotel. 

This pours a beautiful deep golden color that initially had some chill haze. I had a bit of writer's block that allowed that to clear up perfectly. There is a small amount of white head that remains atop the beer. The aroma is pine and earth, tropical fruits, and straight up Amarillo hops that were used to dry hop the beer. Taking a long sip, my palate is greeted with malty sweetness that is quickly followed by that earthy tone, a longer note of pine, and a bitter finish. It's a lighter, well-balanced beer, and a good example of a well-made pale ale. A different sip yields a completely different beer: tropical fruits and caramel sweetness and some bready flavors with just a tinge of earthiness. There are plenty of Cascade and Amarillo hops in here, but I don't mind the presence of either (I'm iffy on both, but let me note that is just a matter of personal preference). It has a very round mouthfeel. 

Overall, I think this is a great example of an American pale ale. It's also quickly become one of my favorite beers from New Belgium. 

4.3/5 caps


After a long day at work, sending a birthday email to my step-dad, texting my dad, and being involved on a meme war (for fun) that now has roughly 320 different memes clogging up my friend's wall on Facebook, it's good to sit down for some good beer.  This has had time to warm, between the technical difficulties and Jennie's portion of the review. Speaking of warming up; Ohio, get your shit together. Your weather here in the last week has been more fickle than a teenager who's trying a last ditch effort on planning an after-prom party and realizing the guy under the bridge who normally buys you alcohol, if he can smell your hair, was arrested last week for public indecency while he was waving his penis in public, yelling about the turkey sandwich that he had 6 years ago before the aliens came and stole his Casio, leaving him a weird marking on his arm, which he calls "Bucky." Yeah, try and proofread that shit, yo. I like to throw things in like that to see if people are actually reading the second part of the review.... I expect feedback...

This is a nice golden copper color that still has a small amount of head hanging around, much like the image that's in your head from the previous paragraph, only not as offensive. No, this lingering is welcome. It appears to still have some decent carbonation, as I still see some bubbles coming up. Speaking of still seeing things, you're still imaging the previously mentioned image in your head, aren't you? The aroma on this is caramel, tropical fruits, and pine with some faint earthy notes. The first sip is rather malt forward with caramel and biscuit notes with faint hop characteristics that were noticed in the nose. It slowly builds with the hop flavor, never becoming a hop bomb though. There is some grapefruit that hangs around on the back end after this smooth drinking liquid has gone down your throat. This finishes slightly sticky from the hops, but again, never becoming a hop bomb. This apparently is only 38 IBUs, but could be a little deceiving, as it seems around 50, but that's just my opinion.

According to New Belgium's website, there has not been any food pairings submitted to them for this beer, we may be the first ones. In fact, we'll even submit a music pairing, because we go above and beyond, as those are the kind of people we are.

Overall, a good beer. If you're able to obtain this, please do, you will not be disappointed.

4.3/5 caps
Food pairing: Grilled bratwurst (that has previously been boiled in beer and onions)
Cheese pairing: a good, creamy Farmer's Cheese
Music pairing: "Bicycle Race" by Queen

Friday, October 3, 2014

Jackie O's Paw Paw Wheat

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I just want to start off by asking this simple question. How the hell have we gone almost 2 years with these reviews and not reviewed anything by Jackie O's?! I spent much of my time in my beer formative years in Athens, Ohio (where Jackie O's is based). I drank my first craft brews there, I mixed my first six-pack there, I was pegged in the head with a Natty Light can. So many great memories, most of which I'm sure are forgotten by now, as it's been nearly 6 years since my last romp there. I became a consumer of good beer while I was driving illegally to spend weekends with good friends (including a few who will be joining Jennie and I at a home brew competition this Saturday). I went from drinking rum and cheap typical campus swill to realizing that the brewing industry had more out there. There wasn't just High Life and Natty Light, no sir, there were great brews out there, they had flavor and a comfortable drunk that came along with it. These beers weren't your older brother's beer pong types, no, these were full-bodied, full-flavored selections from people who were tired of being forced to drink swill. People like the fine folks at Jackie O's, who wanted to bring flavor and selection. People who broke the mold and brewed what they wanted. And now, nearly 6 years later, I've watched the change. The masses are wanting their good beer, and they'll get it thanks to world class craft breweries, like Jackie O's. Enough rambling. There's beer to be enjoyed.

This is a 9% ABV Imperial Wheat Ale. The description on the side (and on Jackie O's website) says:
"The paw paw fruit is something we take great pride in. The Native fruit of Ohio and one that flourishes here in Athens. A tropical fruit tree that grows in in a temperate climate and produces a one of a kind experience. Flavors of mango, banana, and a touch of melon."

As a native of Ohio, I had no idea what the fuck a paw paw (or a quince) was until my good beer drinking days. Apparently, they're both awesome fruits that I had been missing out on. This pours a hazy light golden color, as a wheat should. It has a small amount of white head that doesn't seem to stick around. The aroma on this is nothing but fruit. There are banana and mango, almost orange and pineapple notes as well, like you're making your own tropical fruit punch blend. The flavor on this... hand on... I need a moment... Ok, take what you got in the nose, add some decent carbonation, with oh-so faint hints of wheat. This is like a damn tropical mimosa. This finishes dry with a fruity ending. There are no boozy notes, like I've had with other higher ABV fruit beers. This is just pleasant. If it weren't 9 percent, I'd say this is the perfect summer time porch sipping beer. It drinks better than most 9% brews I've had, but I wouldn't drink copious amounts on a hot summer night (I reserve those for lawn mowing beers, just a personal preference).

I don't know if I can say anything bad about this in general. It's great. I can only say that I'm not a huge fan of most fruit beers. This one, though, might change my mind.

5/5 caps


Really? We haven't reviewed any Jackie O's? That surprises me... we both enjoy so many of their beers, know people who work or have worked there, etc. I thought a pawpaw was a fruit native to more tropical climes because my only exposure to it (until now, of course), being in "The Bare Necessities" (you're welcome for that earworm) and at the North Market Microbrew Festival a few weeks back, when Thirsty Dog put some pawpaw into a saison. That was tasty, but the pawpaw was more of a background note within that beer. The brewer, who was pouring next to us at the festival, had hand pulped each pawpaw that went into that brew. It sounded like a harrowing mess and a thorough pain in the ass.

As my beer has had a bit of time to warm up, it is a beautiful light golden color with a lot of carbonation bubbles working their way to the top of the beer. Any chill haze has long faded and it is perfectly clear. The smallish white head that was once there has left a beautiful lacing on the side of my glass. The aroma is faint but enticing, with notes of wheat, mango, banana, and yes, orange and pineapple coming through. Yes, I pick up notes of wheat in the nose. I have friends who would run, not walk, away from this beer as they are gluten-free, but I think it smells heavenly. And then you take a sip, and everything worry in the world just melts away. It is rather fruit forward, yet that velvety mouthfeel won't let you forget that this is a wheat beer worth going back to a glutenous lifestyle (unless you have celiac disease, in which case, you probably wouldn't be reading this anyway, lest you relish in masochism). There are notes of everything that comes through in the aroma, but they have been softened up significantly by the wheat, which adds such a luscious feel. The carbonation isn't as significant as it appears, but it makes its presence known. As this has had a bit of time to warm, I pick up a little bit more of a boozy note toward the back end of this than Nathan did.

It's juicy as hell and quick to go down, which could be dangerous with its alcohol content. I love Mystic Mama and Matriarch, the triple IPA that Jackie O's had on tap at the Nelsonville Music Festival. I'm hoping there is a bottle of rum-barrel aged Oil of Aphrodite left at my favorite bottle shop. And at said shop, I am so happy this is readily available, because this may well become a staple in our house.

5/5 caps


Food Pairing: Chips and habanero salsa (perhaps served over a baked double cream brie)
Cheese Pairing: Double Cream Brie
Music Pairing: "Baptized in Flames" by Skeletonwitch (gotta keep it local to the Athens scene for my old memories)

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Dark Horse Double Crooked Tree

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Ahhhh, Wednesday. I've been talking beer all day because I recently started working at my local homebrew supply store. And today, when one of the pioneers of the craft beer scene in Columbus walked into the store, I almost gushed with fangirl-esque excitement. I don't get overly excited when I meet celebrities, but brewers, on the other hand, I tend to clam up and think of them as rock stars to my liver. Hooray for beer! Let's drink some!

Tonight we are drinking Dark Horse's Double Crooked Tree. It's a double IPA from our friends in Marshall, Michigan. Sure, they got famous with their show on the History channel, "Dark Horse Nation". Congratulations, guys, you worked hard for it and make great beer. I can't wait to see the second half of the season. They recently changed their Double Crooked Tree so that they could distribute to Ohio (I can only assume), because it changed from 13.5% ABV to 12%, which is the current cap in Ohio. Other than that, it is the same recipe as Crooked Tree, only with double the malts and hops. It is released once a year, in February. As you look at the calendar and realize that it is now October, I'm sure many of you are screaming "heresy!" at your monitor right now. I was a tad worried when I sat down to review this, but at 12%, it's going to hold up just fine. Even Dark Horse says so.

This pours a deep amber color with some chill haze and a small collar of off-white head. The aroma is tantalizing: deep caramel, soft citrus, a hint of pine, and a whole lot of booziness assault the nose. Yes, some of the hops have died off as I take a sip, but it's still really rather enjoyable, better than most DIPAs past their hop peak. There are brighter citrus, some grapefruit, and a touch of earthiness that complement the notes from the aroma. And then, wham! The boozy back side lashes your tongue. This DIPA is a beast! A flavorful, delicious beast. This is the kind of beer that can make you go from 0 to 60 in no time flat. It is moderately carbonated and not nearly as sticky as I would expect.

Come February, do yourself a favor and pick up a couple of bottles. One for drinking right away, and one (or more) for aging.

4.6/5 caps


 As my partner mentioned, we're in Columbus, Ohio, so is the artist who does the artwork for Dark Horse. W. Ralph Walters does amazing work, you should check his stuff out. He also did the artwork on a local building here, Actual Roastery (which is associated with our friends at Actual Brewing).

(note: picture is from W. Ralph Walters' Facebook page)

With a little shout out to a fantastic artist, I raise this and gaze upon the gorgeous dark amber with faint layer of off-white head. The aroma is caramel heavy with hints of spice and pine at this point (this has been breathing for nearly 2 hours between Jennie's portion, chilling with our awesome neighbor and watching "Franklin and Bash"). The first sip of this is caramel and boozy, with some faint citrus and pine that grows with each second. The second sip gives off more of the hoppy notes, transferring the boozy notes to the back end. The third is just like the second. So, this is roughly 8 months old. Still great. Big malty backbone with the nice hops to give perfect harmony. Short and sweet, sort of like this pour was, as we shared the last 12 ounce bottle of the 4 pack we purchased, the previous 3 were enjoyed day of purchase by Jennie, her dad Phil, and myself. Speaking of Phil, I feel for Aaron from Dark Horse. He recently lost his father and sister-in-law. We've had a number of losses this year: good friends, mentors and Jennie's father. 2014 can suck it...

4.7/5 caps


Food pairing: A good gyro from a family ran shop
Cheese pairing: Feta (goes great with gyros)
Music pairing:  "Escape (The Pina Colada Song)" by A.C. (vulgar band name, great noise metal cover)