Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Behind The Tap's Top Ten Beers of 2014

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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


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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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




Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Ska Brewing Modus Hoperandi

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

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

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

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

4.6/5 caps

-Jennie

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

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

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

4.6/5 caps

-Nathan-

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

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Evil Twin Falco

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4.3/5 caps

-Nathan-

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

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

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

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

4.1/5 caps

- Jennie

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

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

New Glarus Scream IIPA

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

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

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

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

4.2/5 caps

-Jennie

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

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

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

4.3/5 caps

-Nathan-

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

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Schlafly Tasmanian IPA

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

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

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

4.9/5 caps

-Nathan-

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

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

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

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

4.9/5 caps

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

Friday, December 12, 2014

Boulevard Hibiscus Gose


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

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

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

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

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

4.75/5 caps

-Jennie

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

Back to the review.

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

4.7/5 caps

-Nathan-

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

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

Monday, December 8, 2014

Zaftig ZBS

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

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

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

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

5/5 caps

-Nathan-

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

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

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

5/5 caps

-Jennie

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