Monday, September 27, 2010

End of a Crazy Weekend

Capped off what was a pretty crazy weekend by going to Capone's with my wife.  I wanted to have her check it out and also pick up a bottle I had reserved.  Turns out Sunday is a decent day to go since it's 25 cent wings nearly all day.  Wings, sports and beer make a fun Sunday.

There were way more things on draft than I could possibly drink in one sitting so I decided to start with a sampler.
Clockwise, starting with the light one in the front, I got: Jolly Pumpkin Weizen Bam, Rogue Double Chocolate Stout, Dark Horse Plead the 5th, and Allagash Curieux.  The Weizen Bam is a Farmhouse Ale, the Double Chocolate and Plead the 5th are both Imperial Stouts (although taste very different) and the Curieux was a Tripel aged in bourbon barrels.  All of them were really different from each other which was really cool.

The Allagash Curieux smelled of coconut oil and that was about it.  The taste was very unusual.  Some coconut, some general sweetness, and some alcohol.  I was pleasantly surprised by how good it tasted.  The Jolly Pumpkin Weizen Bam had a fruity, sour smell to it that sort of reminded me of sour wheat.  Jo thought it was a bit perfumy and floral.  This was a really, really different beer that I thought worked really well.  Jolly Pumpkin is known for their wild ales and after having this one I definitely will search them out again.

Switching gears, I started in on the Rogue Double Chocolate Stout.  This beer wasn't kidding around with the chocolate.  Huge, huge chocolate smell.  Initial taste on this was again chocolate which then slowly blended into some nice nuttiness and roasted flavors.  Good stuff but since it's Rogue it's probably terribly expensive in bottles.  Ah well.  Finally, the Dark Horse Plead the 5th.  This is a Russian Imperial Stout that is not fooling around at 12%.  Smells a little of coffee from the roasted malts.  Initial impression is that it had an excellent mouth feel and not too boozy for the strength.  The thickness is just about right and it totally coats your mouth and leaves you wanting more.  Has an almost nutty, smoky flavor to it.  I thought this was really great and would have gotten a full glass if it had been a Saturday.

Instead I finished up my meal with a Founders Breakfast Stout.
Founders just started shipping out Breakfast Stout so I was excited to get it on draft already.  Really strong coffee smell as it's an Imperial Espresso Stout.  Jo thought the Plead the 5th smelled stronger of coffee than this one but I think she's crazy.  First sip is basically coffee but after a few more the coffee takes a back seat to the stout part.  I really, really like this beer.  It's just so drinkable and just delicious.  It's a seasonal, though, so get it while you can!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Pre-Concert Hulmeville

Before going to the Black Diamond Skye show, I met up with a buddy at Hulmeville Inn to kill some time.

I started with the Brew Dog Tokyo* as I've been wanting to try it since they put it on draft two weeks ago.
Pours an almost black color with a surprising amount of light brown head.  I was expecting zero head on this considering the strength, but as can be seen there was quite a bit of it.  Smells mostly of alcohol which isn't terribly surprising considering it's 18%.  I expected it to taste like jet fuel, but it ended up amazingly drinkable.  I would almost say it was dangerously drinkable if you aren't careful because it's so hard to tell its strength.  I thought it tasted like alcoholic chocolate.  I really enjoyed this and thought it was remarkable considering its strength.

After that, I tried a series of coffee beers which were both great in different ways.  The first was Brooklyn's Intensified Coffee Stout.
It poured a nice brown color with head up to the top of the glass that quickly dissipated.  Close to no smell on it which surprised me since I thought it would smell strongly of coffee.  Turns out, all of the coffee was in the taste.  For a stout, it had a thinner mouth feel, but it was very close to drinking a cup of black coffee.  Kind of crazy but delicious if you like coffee.  The end had a nice, mild sweetness as well which was very nice.

Following that was Dark Horse Perkulator.
It was a brown color with basically no head on it.  As it's a coffee doppelbock, the beer poured very similar to the Troegenator from the other day.  Surprisingly enough this also had very little smell.  Maybe some slight coffee notes, but basically the same as the Brooklyn.  The initial taste had a much more subdued level of coffee in it but the beer as a whole was bit more flavorful.  Notes of caramel and malts come through the coffee really nicely.  I liked this a little bit more than the Brooklyn as it felt like the beer was more balanced around the coffee which made for a better drinking experience.  I'd get both again, but I'd get the Perkulator first.

I finished up with the Dock Street Great Pumpkin just because it's fall and why not.  Plus Dock Street is in Philadelphia and it's always good to support a local brewery.
Poured a near orange with a little bit of head that created some nice lacing on the glass.  It smelled faintly of cinnamon but that was all of the spices that are usually found in pumpkin beers.  The first taste had a lot of the same.  Hops quickly took the fore and the beer, at least to me, became really bitter and disappointing.  Considering most pumpkins are either spicy or sweet, this is possibly a pumpkin for hop heads but it didn't feel like the cinnamon and bitterness blended very well.  Not a terribly great way to end the night but you can't win 'em all.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Belgian Cafe!

Jo and I went to the Belgian Cafe last night before going to the haunted house at the Eastern State Penitentiary.  While the beer selection (at least drafts) isn't quite as good as Monk's, the Belgian Cafe more than makes up for it in atmosphere.  The bar area is way more wide open, the bar itself is larger, and it's not a crowded mess like Monk's usually is.  (I'm comparing them just because they are both owned by the same person for those that didn't know.)  The food is pretty similar between the two and I had a great Monk's burger last night.  Leeks and blue cheese are excellent on a burger.

The first beer I had was St. Bernardus 12.
The 12 is a Belgian Quad so it's a strong beer (around 10%.)  It pours a brownish, purple color with very minimal head and smells sweet with hints of fruit and caramel.  Like a lot of quads, it has great mouthfeel.  It's not syrupy, but is thick enough that it really feels good drinking it.  Sort of tastes minimally of plums and has a really sweet finish.  The alcohol is there, but I didn't notice it a terribly large amount.  Jo thought it tasted a bit boozy but she's more sensitive to it than me.

The next beer I had was from Brouwerij De Dochter van de Korenaar called Embrasse.
It's a Belgian Strong Dark Ale so sort of the opposite of the Russian River Damnation I posted a week or two back.  Pours a dark brown color also with minimal head.  This is also quite strong at 9% but unlike the St. Bernardus the alcohol is pretty well hidden.  This will sound odd, but it almost smelled "cold."  I'm honestly not sure how to describe what that means, but that's how Jo and I both felt.  Super useful, I know.  Overall though it reminded me a lot of grapes in both smell and taste.  I enjoyed this beer a lot but I really like Belgian Strong Dark Ales so it's pretty much to be expected.

Finally I finished with something quite a bit milder from Scotland.  It was Harviestoun's Old Engine Oil.
Unfortunately the picture sucks so it's impossible to tell, but it was a really nice looking pour.  About 2 centimeters of nice brown head that slowly fizzled down over about a minute.  The smell was pretty mild, but had a little bit of smokiness and roast to it.  The first sip was full of woody caramel flavors.  Lots of flavor to it through the first bit of it.  However, as I drank more, the mouth feel was really disappointing.  It was very thin so while it was pretty flavorful, it just got kind of boring to drink by the end.  Not a bad beer by any means, just sort of boring near the end.

I'd type more but I'm heading to Hulmeville Inn soon.  Expect some more posts Sunday!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Yards Love Stout

Went to Jose Pistola's today for a bite to eat.  Had a great chicken burrito and a nice chat with the bartender Greg.  They had the new release of Yards Love Stout on draft so I gave it a try.
The most noticeable thing is that it is a really beautiful pour.  The head is thick and creamy and had a nice cream flavor.  Not much smell to go along with the pour, but the taste made up for it.  Really smooth, really creamy.  Sort of reminds you of Guinness, but way better.  Yards apparently changed the recipe this year and brewed it using oyster shells for the first time in a few years.  I can't say I noticed any oyster or fish flavor in it but it must do something since you see oyster stouts from time to time.  Still, Love Stout should be pretty cheap in the Philadelphia area and it is a super easy drinking stout so definitely give it a try.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Sierra Nevada Beer Camp

London Grill had an event tonight where they showcased two of Sierra Nevada's Beer Camp beers plus an anniversary ale (Jack and Ken's), the pale ale, and the Tumbler autumn brown ale.

I talked to the Sierra Nevada rep about Beer Camp and it was pretty damn cool.  They invite bar owners and some other popular beer figures from around the US to their brewery and let them decide on a style of beer to brew.  I can't find how many have been done but since it started early 2009 and seems to occur every 2 months, my bet is there have been around 8.  Who knows though.  The point being that tonight at London Grill they were doing a Beer Camp vs. Beer Camp event.  For Philly beer week, Sierra Nevada invited Philadelphia area bar owners to Beer Camp and they came out of the event with ExPorter.  Apparently, the owner of London Grill really wanted to put almonds into the beer, but got out voted by everyone else in the camp.  Of course, the next camp group decided to put almonds into their beer and ended up with Almond Marzen Project.  The result of all of this is that Sierra Nevada felt bad and sent London Grill a keg of the Almond Marzen Project and as a result we have tonight's event.  It's actually pretty impressive of Sierra Nevada because they had to go through the whole pain of registering the beer for one single night and paying whatever costs that involves.  Stupid PA beer laws.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Bell's Cherry Stout

Bell's Cherry Stout is what gave me the idea to do a fruit theme after I had it at Barclay Prime and really wanted to have a couple more bottles of it.
It poured a pretty dark black color with absolutely no head.  The smell was almost all tart cherries with some slight roastiness.  The first taste of the beer is full of cherries but soon balanced by the stout side of the beer.  After swallowing, a nice roasted malt flavor comes through which keeps it from being cloying.  As I worked my way through the beer, the two flavors, cherries and roasted malts, basically alternated.  Once it warmed up a bit, the cherries weren't quite as tart and the beer was incredibly drinkable.  I'm really glad I did this theme just for this beer.  Really good.  It had a really nice mouth feel too as it was just thick enough that it was really enjoyable to drink.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Troegs Troegenator

I picked up a growler of Troegs Troegenator from Troegs brewery on my crazy trip and had some of it yesterday.
It pours a dark brown with quite a bit of head.  It smells sweet and bready with no hop character at all.  Really smells delicious.  The first sip has a little bit of alcohol flavor to it but fades quickly into caramel and malt.  As I continued to drink it, the alcohol edge in front disappeared and the caramel flavor became the focal point.  Really good beer and I'd definitely order it again.  And just because, here's a picture of the Troegenator logo that was on a van parked outside the brewery.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Geuze v. Geuze

I did a geuze comparison last night because I picked up a Lindemans Geuze Cuvee Rene and a Boon Oude Geuze.  It was pretty interesting to see the differences the two had in representing the style.

Friday, September 17, 2010

I think I might be crazy...

Last Thursday, I found out that Troegs was doing a release of a special beer, Splinter Blue, and over the next couple of days convinced myself that leaving at 5:30am to drive for 2 hours and sit in line for 2 and a half hours was a good idea.  I'm not sure why I thought this was a good idea, but my mind works in mysterious ways aka I'm crazy.  Probably didn't help that my wife encouraged me to do it or that my buddy thought I was trying to convince him and decided he was going to come along.  Yes, let's blame others for my insanity.  Good idea.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Dark Horse Raspberry Ale

Had a Dark Horse Raspberry Ale today.
The beer was a mild brown color and poured with a small amount of head that dissipated quickly.  It's kind of funny having this raspberry ale after the Great Divide one.  The Great Divide had a huge raspberry smell with a tiny raspberry taste while this one had a faint raspberry smell but tasted strongly of raspberries.  In the end, I prefer the Dark Horse because the beer was more flavorful than the Great Divide.  The raspberry flavor tasted very natural, blended with the beer really well, and all the flavors were very complimentary.  For people who don't like bitter beers, this would be perfect as there wasn't a trace of hop flavor in it, just sweet malts.  Very good beer.

Dinner at Resurrection Ale House

Jo and I went to Resurrection Ale House last night with some of our friends.  It was my first time there so I was excited to check it out.  It's a pretty small place, but it has a really nice wooden bar and it's very roomy.  Their beer list was pretty good, all decent craft offerings.  It wasn't quite as exotic as you'd get at Varga or Devil's Den, but that may just be a matter of timing since they change their drafts often.  Their food was pretty good and reasonably priced.  All in all, not a bad place, but if I'm going to head to South Philly I'd probably just go to Devil's Den or Hawthornes.

The first beer I had was Russian River's Damnation.  (Note: all the pictures are going to kind of suck since it was too dark for decent pictures.  Oh well.)
Damnation is a Belgian Strong Pale Ale.  It was a really cool golden color which doesn't come through real well in the picture but believe me it was cool looking.  It had about 2cm of bubbly, frothy head on it and smelled mildly of oranges and honey.  The first taste of it had similar feelings to the smell.  Hints of orange, honey, and other sweet flavors.  All of that melds together as you drink it and it's pretty satisfying.  Really good beer.

The second beer I had was Bell's Kalamazoo Stout.
The beer was a black color with a nice dark, brown head.  It smelled of roasted malts, coffee notes, and mild chocolate, exactly what you'd expect from a decent stout.  Initially, the roasted flavor jumps out at you and overpowers everything.  A couple sips in though and that mellows out as you get used to it and the coffee and chocolate flavors appear.  Note, that I don't think there's actually any chocolate or coffee used to make this stout, it's just that the roasted malts used in brewing the beer give off those flavors.  It's a cool effect in my opinion.

Finally I finished off the night with Dogfish Head's Punkin.
It was a nice, dark orange color (some would say brown but whatever) with minimal head.  I'm not sure why some beers have a lot or a little head, but it probably has something to do with the extra stuff used in brewing the beer.  Pumpkin beers generally have a ton of spices, like cinnamon, coriander, cloves, etc, and almost never have a lot of head on them so that's what I'm basing this on.  I could be full of crap but this is my blog so I can say what I want.  This pumpkin is no different than others as far as the smell goes.  Lots of spices although not overpowering at all.  It tastes similar to what you'd expect a pumpkin pie to taste like if the pumpkin taste took a huge backseat to the spices.  It was really drinkable since while the spices were there, they were not the only thing going on in the flavor.  Some pumpkins are just all spice and it gets old when trying to drink the whole beer.

Not a bad night at Resurrection and I'd be happy to go back again if a group of people were going, but I wouldn't suggest it as a place to meet up.  I will say there was a lot of room in the place considering its size which is a plus in its favor when comparing it to some other bars in Philadelphia.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Full Beer Saturday

I had a full day yesterday with going to Capone's, a beer bar in Norristown, for lunch and spending some time at the Hulmeville Inn with my buddy Greg.

The first stop was Capone's in Norristown.  It looks like a normal diner from the outside, but once you get inside and are given a draft list you know this isn't a normal place.  Their draft list was probably 20 beers long with lots of really interesting stuff.  They had Ballast Point's Sculpin, Russian River's Consecration, and a lot of other really great beers.  It was almost entirely limited release beers which is just awesome.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Friday Night Beers, Redux

I had two beers tonight.  One really really good one and one, well, wasn't so good.

The first beer was Dogfish Head's Festina Peche.
Dogfish Head bills this beer as a Neo-Berliner Weiss and while I don't know what the Neo part really adds, this is definitely a Berliner Weiss.  You can see it poured an orange - yellow color with very minimal head.  It smells of mild apple juice and other sour flavors.  The smell is very similar to the Flanders Red Ales I've been writing about.  The first taste follows the smell of apple juice but is quickly overtaken by the sour notes of the beer.  The taste continues to be mildly sour but has a very clean aftertaste.  The sour doesn't overwhelm your palate or make you pucker or anything, but it's very much the point of the beer.  As for the peach notes that are supposedly in it, I didn't really notice them very much.  It may be that the peach flavor is just so mild you don't notice it, but who knows.  All in all, though, this beer was really excellent.  I've been wanting to try it for a long time because of the style and I'm glad I finally got a chance.  While it is a bit sour, I feel like I could drink quite a few of these in one night without much of a problem.

However, the second beer I had last night wasn't quite so exciting as the Dogfish Head.  It was Ithaca's Apricot Wheat.
It poured a dark orange color with minimal head as well.  (Yes I'm too lazy to use a different style of glass for this even though I'm probably supposed to.)  The smell is all apricots, all the time.  Just totally fills your nose with it.  Following the smell, the taste is also completely of apricot flavor.  I say flavor because it tastes more like apricot syrup than actual apricots.  That leads to my biggest problem with the beer.  It basically tastes like a wheat beer that had a ton of apricot extract dumped into it.  It was thick, cloying, and way, way overly sweet.  While it did mellow out a little as it warmed up, this is definitely not something I'd suggest ordering at a bar.  Yes, some of my friends now have 3 bottles of it, but, well, at least it's only 3 bottles.  It's not undrinkable and maybe some people would like it, but I did not enjoy it very much.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Founders Cerise

I had the first of my set of fruit beers last night in Founders Cerise.
You can see the beer pours an orange - red color with very little head.  It smells faintly of cherries but mostly is pleasant and sweet.  The initial taste is of mild apple juice, kind of similar to the Flanders Red Ales I've been posting about.  However, immediately after, the flavor of cherries comes through and Cerise jumps to another level.  After the first sip, it continues to have a back and forth between the tart cherry flavor and the smooth ale flavor below it. The 12oz is incredibly easy to drink and absolutely delicious.  Still I don't think I'd have more than one in a row just so the flavors don't go from sweet to cloying.  However, it would be excellent to have some of this around for when I wanted a cherry beer like this.

If you like fruit beers, do yourself a favor and find this beer.  I was really impressed by it and thought it was just excellent.  I shouldn't be surprised because I have yet to find a Founders beer that wasn't great but even great breweries make some beers I'm not thrilled by so you never know.  As a side note, they make one of my favorite stouts as well in Breakfast Stout so you should look for that too if you like stouts.  So good.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Two for Tuesday, Redux

I had to drop some beer off at a friend's house in South Philadelphia so Jo and I went to Devil's Den for dinner.  The food was good and the beer was better.

The first beer I had was a collaboration between Two Brothers and Urthel called Moaten.
You can see it's a dark reddish-brown color with a small amount of head.  Pretty much what you'd expect from a Flanders Red Ale.  The initial taste is similar to apple juice and that flavor really sticks with you throughout the entire beer.  I wasn't terribly impressed with this since there was nothing really separating it from other beers in the style.  It would make a good introduction to the style as it is really mild, but compared to other offerings such as the Ichtegem's I posted about it was just kind of boring.  Nothing bad, but nothing interesting either.

The second beer I had was Ballast Point Sculpin.
I'm not a huge fan of IPAs as I prefer darker, maltier beers, but I've read a lot about Sculpin on Beer Advocate and had to find out what all the fuss was about.  I put the glass in front of a candle for the picture so the color is odd, but it was what you'd expect from an IPA, light brown and very little head.  The smell was all grapefruit.  Probably a little overwhelming if you don't like grapefruit, but it's what you'd expect from a good IPA.  The initial taste follows the smell of grapefruit, but impressively enough the bitterness doesn't linger at all.  I've had some beers that go overboard with the bitterness and that's all that is left on your tongue, but this one was incredibly good.  If you like IPAs definitely search this one out.  I know it's available in bottles at some of the distributors around here but it may only be in the 22oz cases.  Still worth it if this is your type of style.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Weyerbacher Autumn Fest

Jo and I worked our way through our growler of Weyerbacher's Autumn Fest yesterday.
We had both tried it at the brewery so we knew what we were getting, but it was nice to get a full glass of it.  Poured a brownish color with quite a bit of head that settled down quickly.  The taste was very clean with very little hop bitterness.  The flavor of it was pretty average but good enough.  I wouldn't order it at a bar, but I wouldn't be upset if someone else ordered me a glass.  However, on a warm day it was pretty refreshing and went down well so there's that. 

The above growler is also our 29th since we started collecting them.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Stone's Old Guardian

After our trip to Weyerbacher, we stopped at Pearly Baker's Ale House and I had a glass of Stone's Old Guardian.
The first thing you should notice is that this bar is crazy.  The Old Guardian is 11.1% and they served it to me in a freaking pint glass.  In Philly, you'd probably get this in a 10oz glass instead because of its strength.  However, I wasn't going to complain.

It came out a nice reddish brown color with minimal head.  The first flavor is very like a barleywine, sweet and strong.  The finish of it is all Stone's though and is all hops.  At first I thought it was going to end up being unpleasant, but the hop flavors were overwhelmed by the strength of the beer.  I'm betting after a year of age this beer is pretty amazing since the hop flavors would be even more mild and just give it a pleasant background flavor.

I also had a glass of Allagash Black but don't have any pictures of it.  If you see it give it a try as it was quite good.  I'll talk about it when I get a chance to try it again.


Jo and I took a trip to Easton yesterday to visit the Weyerbacher brewery.  When we got there, it was sort of odd because you pull into a neighborhood, go down the street a bit, and then there it is basically next to a bunch of houses.  With our GPS it wasn't too hard to find, but we still missed the entrance because a car was coming out and for some reason the driveway exit is only one car wide.  Once we pulled in though there was a large parking lot which at 12:45 was already kind of full.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Friday Night Beers

Had two great beers last night.

The first beer was Sierra Nevada's Summerfest.
This beer was surprisingly excellent.  I had always read about how excited people were that Summerfest was available but never really knew why since it seemed like such a generic summer.  However, with all the hype I figured I should try it out just to see what all the fuss was about.  The beer poured a nice looking orange with beautiful head and smelled mildly of oranges.  Taste wise, it started very clean with some mild sweetness and finished with a smooth flavor of orange and citrus.  There was basically no hoppiness to this beer and it would make a great session beer on a hot day.  The Summerfest totally lived up to the hype as well which was really satisfying.  When this comes out next summer I'm definitely going to be on the lookout for it because both Jo and I really liked it and on a hot summer day it will be great to kick back with a glass of this.

The second beer I had last night was Voodoo's White Magick of the Sun.
Where the Sierra Nevada was smooth and unassuming, this beer is totally in your face.  The base of it is a wheat ale but because of all the spices they threw into it the style isn't terribly recognizable.  However, for one beer in the night, it was a very good attempt at something different.  I thought the spices blended pretty well and made for a nice experience.  I definitely don't think I'd order a whole pint, but I enjoyed 12oz of it.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Bell's Oberon

I'm not a huge fan of wheats in general but Bell's Oberon was actually quite good for the style
As you can see, it is a nice orange color with a small amount of head.  The most interesting part of it was all the particles floating around in the beer.  This is definitely an unfiltered, bottle conditioned beer.  Bottle conditioning mostly just amounts to adding a small amount of yeast to the bottle before capping it which allows the beer's flavor to age a bit, usually mellowing out all of the flavors.  I'm pretty sure Bells bottle conditions all of their beers which is a nice facet to their brewing.  The taste was of wheat, malts, and a little citrus.  Basically a nice, mellow wheat beer.  On a hot day, it would be really refreshing to drink this.  All in all, not my favorite Bell's beer, but still a good offering from them that's better than most other beers out there.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Smuttynose Summer Weizen Ale

I had the last of my Smuttynose Summer Weizen Ale today.
This is one of the better summers that I picked up.  It pours a nice golden color with a nice white head.  The taste is nice and crisp mix of summer and wheat that ends with a really delicious sweetness.  I was surprised how much I liked this beer, but the mixture of summer and wheat was really good.  Probably should have expected it though since Smuttynose makes great beers.  Their Baltic Porter is one of the best porters I've ever had.