Sunday, October 31, 2010

Framboise Boon

I had a bottle of Framboise Boon the other night and it was surprisingly delicious.  I say surprisingly because their Kriek was entirely too sweet for me and I expected the same from the Framboise.  I was incorrect.
Smelled of raspberries with lots of tart notes.  No sweetness in the nose at all.  First sip had fruit as expected but the sweetness was balanced by the tartness.  Don't worry though as the tartness isn't overwhelming, just incredibly pleasant.  Really clean finish.  The best part of the finish is, unlike the geuzes, the tartness leaves quite quickly which made drinking it quite easy.  No build up, no palate fatigue, no dry mouth, just a nice tartness with some raspberry.  If you are looking for a Lindemans style framboise, however, keep looking.  But if you want something different, run out and pick up a bottle and tell me if it was as delicious as mine.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Pumpkinfest at Devil's Den

Devil's Den has the best fests in Philadelphia (okay not really, but yeah hyperbole!).  First it was sourfest and now it's pumpkinfest.  Yeah fests!  This time wasn't quite as extravagant though.  They had 6 or so pumpkin beers on draft, 7 or so bottles of pumpkin and some pumpkin food dishes.  Thursdays are apparently much busier at Devil's Den (which is a good thing) and the bar was pretty full when we got there.  Luckily there was a table in the back so we didn't have to wait.  The food was quite good once again and the beer, as always, was reasonably priced.  It helps that they do half price drafts from 5-7.  Pretty amazing deal considering the quality of the beers they offer.  Devil's Den is pretty awesome.

I started with Brew Works Devious Imperial Pumpkin (I hope you can guess the style.)
Once again, terrible picture.  Stupid phone without a flash.  Oh well.  Poured a dark orange brown color with no head.  Very little carbonation in it.  Smelled of sweet pumpkin and some spices, more sweet than spicy.  The flavors were three fold.  A little tart at first, then a little alcohol, and finishing with pumpkin spices.  Pretty good pumpkin beer.  Thick, slightly syrup mouth feel but not cloying.  I didn't know what to expect, but I liked the Devious quite a bit. Fegley's Brew Works (Bethlehem and Allentown Brew Works are their brew pubs) makes quite a few good beers.

After that, I had what has been my favorite pumpkin beer, Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin.
More pumpkin pie spices than sweet pumpkin in the nose.  Get hints of cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon.  Flavors in this one are a bit smoother than the Devious.  More spices than sweet and they blend really well with the beer's natural flavors.  Some sweetness came out as I drank more.  Even at 8%, this is incredibly drinkable, even more so than the Devious.  This has been my favorite pumpkin in past years and this reaffirmed my belief.  I liked the Southern Tier Pumking I had two weeks ago but it was more pumpkin pie in a glass than beer.  This one is a really good beer with some pumpkin flavors.  Depends what you are looking for as far as what to like, but I prefer the Weyerbacher.

Oh and this was my 50th post on the blog since August 23rd.  Yeah 50!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Maredsous Abbaye

Opened up a bottle of Maredsous Abbaye, a dubbel.
Poured a caramel brown color with an inch of really cool looking head.  Well carbonated.  Pretty sweet smelling to me with some fruit flavors.  Not strongly fruity, but there's something there.  Sweet malty flavor with absolutely no bitterness.  The carbonation gives it a nice prickly feel when drinking it.  Not like a soda but still more carbonation than a lot of beers.  Very easy to drink even at 8%.  Good stuff.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Sierra Nevada Autumn Tumbler

Finally got to try Sierra Nevada Autumn Tumbler brown ale last night.
Smelled malty and a little bready.  Good, strong smell for a brown ale.  First sip had a nice roasted flavor to it with a little sweetness.  Hop bitterness follows and sticks around for a bit.  As I had more the hops came to the forefront although to be clear it's nothing like an IPA or anything.  I enjoyed this but Jo found it to be a little bitter for her.  She likes them to be malt forward with a few roasted notes and no bitterness and this was too consistently bitter for a whole pint to be enjoyable.

Tumbler was their early fall seasonal (late Summer?) so it's probably not easily available anymore.  There may be a couple cases at places but it probably won't be easily available until next year.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Lunch at Monk's Cafe

Monk's Cafe is a famous Belgian Beer bar in Philadelphia at 16th and Spruce.  They have an incredible selection of beer and great food (including very good mussels).  I hadn't been there in quite a while because while it's an excellent bar, it's not very large and gets super crowded.  Because of the structure of the bar and how the entrance is setup it's very hard to stand around while waiting an hour for a table.  There isn't enough room by the front bar to wait and it can get frustrating since you are constantly in the way of everyone.  However, if you're in Philadelphia it's worth a visit just because of the history just go early enough to avoid the major crowds.

Yesterday, Monk's did a Russian River event to earn money for a breast cancer foundation.  It was a good cause (see I went for charity!) so I headed there with a friend of mine for some lunch.  I haven't quite found a reason to open one of my bottles of Temptation so I jumped at a chance to try it on draft.
It poured a lovely golden color with about 2cm of head on it.  Smelled tart with hints of lemon and orange, almost fruity.  Tasted very tart with a bit of sourness to it.  Not puckeringly sour but close to it.  The aftertaste was pretty clean and the tartness didn't stick with me.  I'd say this is similar to a geuze but no where near as dry.  I enjoyed it quite a bit although I'd put consecration and supplication ahead of it.  The fruit notes in those two give them more dimensions which makes them slightly more interesting to drink.  Still, Temptation was great and I'm quite excited for the bottles of Temptation I have waiting for me.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Beer Tasting

I had some friends over on Friday night for a beer tasting.  I got 3 bottles for it and everyone else brought 1 or 2 big bottles (except 1 guy who brought 4, 2 commercial and 2 homebrew.)  I thought it would be a fun way for all of us to try things we either don't usually drink or can't drink alone because the bottle is too strong.  I've had a bottle in my fridge for 2+ months because of that issue.  I took some notes and tried to get pictures of all of them but missed 2.

By the end, we finished 12 bottles.  I'll go through the first six and then the last six just to split up the post a bit.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Lucky 7 and the Phillies

Jo and I decided to catch the Wednesday Phillies game at Lucky 7.  Not Taco Tuesday, unfortunately, but you can't win 'em all.  Food was pretty good again and we really like the feel of the bar so it worked out.  It never got too crowded, but it was full which is pretty much perfect for watching a baseball game.

For my first beer, I got a draft of Dark Horse Crooked Tree IPA.
Poured an orange color which is pretty normal for an IPA.  Nice floral, citrusy smell from all the hops.  The smell is one of the best parts of a good IPA.  First bit was hoppy but backed up nicely with a bit of sweetness.  Keeps it from being overbearingly bitter.  Good touch.  Decent body on it, a little bit of thickness.  Nothing crazy, but it makes drinking it more interesting.  On top of that, only a mildly bitter aftertaste to it.  I'm not a huge fan of IPAs in general, but maybe I'm getting more used to them.  This was quite good and another good offering from Dark Horse Brewing.

The last beer I had was Paulaner Salvator.
This is a Doppel Bock, the same style as Troegenator from Troegs.  The smell of this Salvator was super sweet and malty and smelled really inviting.  Tasted of caramel, toffee and malt.  Just incredibly smooth and sweet.  As expected, the after taste was sweet too.  Nice thick body on it.  Some of the sweetness and smoothness may be because this bottle was apparently from June '08.  (As long as the bottled on date of 06/08 means June '08 that is.)  I don't know how the bar has a 2+ year old bottle but hey it tasted amazing.  I've never had a beer with such a smooth, sweet flavor.

Good time at Lucky 7 even if the Phillies are kind of sucking right now.

Well's Banana Bread

I drank my last Well's Banana Bread the other day.
This is the third bottle I've had of it over the course of a couple months and this was the best of the three.  The flavors and smell seemed much stronger now than before.  The first thing I noticed was the huge smell of banana bread.  It's kind of amazing that a beer can get the smell so close.  Following that, the taste is all banana bread as well.  It starts out sweet and malty (the bread and caramel flavors) and ends with pure banana.  All together, drinking banana bread.  The only downside to this beer is all you get is banana bread.  There's nothing else to the beer.  I wouldn't want to drink more than one in a night just because of that.  Still, really interesting thing to try.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Duck Rabbit Milk Stout

Tried to go to The Bottle Shop on Passayunk on Saturday for their Grand Opening only to discover that they postponed the opening.  Sucks since it is pretty far into South Philly.  Ah well.  Since I was already near Hawthorne's, I decided to grab a quick bite and a beer there.  Hawthorne's is really a bottle shop but because of stupid Pennsylvania liquor laws they also serve food.  Turns out that their food is quite good though so it makes a great place for lunch.  Since they have like 7 fridges full of bottles there is also always something to drink.  The hardest part is just deciding what to grab.

This time I went with the Duck Rabbit Milk Stout.
Poured a dark brown with lots of bubbly brown head.  Nice looking stout.  Drinking it out of a mason jar was a little odd, but that's the glasses Hawthorne's has available.  It smelled of delicious roasted malt with just a hint of sweetness from the lactose.  Nice thick mouthfeel, very enjoyable to drink.  The sweet and roasty flavors fight for supremacy as you drink it and then slowly balance each other.  Makes for a great combination.  I like milk stouts as I feel like they have great flavors along with great mouth feel, but without the ridiculous ABV of an Imperial Stout.

Hawthorne's actually had bottles of Older Viscosity but at $21 for a 375ml bottle, it was too rich for my blood.  I'd really love to try it again but I'll just have to wait until I can either find it in California for cheaper or somehow see it on draft again.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sunday at Capone's

Jo and I went to Capone's and enjoyed some great buffalo wings and beers.  As usual, their draft list was excellent and they have 25 cent wings on Sunday so it's a great place to watch some football.  They are doing some construction on the place, but the back entrance is open so don't think they are closed because of the closed front doors.

I started off with a sampler of 4 beers.
Starting with the front left beer and going clockwise I got: Jolly Pumpkin La Parcela, The Bruery Autumn Maple, Amager Imperial Stout, and Great Divide Espresso Oak Aged Yeti Imperial Stout. 

The Jolly Pumpkin La Parcela was interesting.  It's supposedly a Pumpkin Ale but I couldn't detect pumpkin in it at all.  It smelled lemony and sort of tart.  Just a little bit of head on the sampler, but I'm guessing there would be a bit more in a full glass.  The first sip was mildly tart as well but not too strong.  Very smooth flavor.  It was similar to Nodding Head's Berliner Weiss but with more body and not quite as tart.  As I drank more of it, the beer got more tart but nothing crazy.

After that was the Bruery Autumn Maple.  Smelled mildly Belgian as it's made with some Belgian yeast.  At first, there was only some yam flavor with a mild sweetness.  Hard to find the Belgian flavors in the beer as a result of the yams and maple.  Nice thick mouth feel to it.  The second full sip I took was just full of yams.  I couldn't believe it and took another sip just to be sure I was sure of the flavor.  Super interesting to be drinking that taste out of a glass.  I liked it but a full glass may have been a bit much.

Following that was the Amager Imperial Stout.  Amager is apparently a brewery in Denmark, who knew.  The Imperial Stout had some slight roasty notes and a little alcohol on the nose.  The taste, however, was full of roasted malt flavor with no alcohol presence.  As it warmed up, the alcohol was slightly noticeable, but not out of place.  Not a bad Imperial Stout but nothing too special to me.

Finally, the Espresso Oak Aged Yeti Imperial Stout.  I talked about the family of Yeti stouts from Great Divide in this post, my first time at Capone's.  This will be the second of the four I've had and hopefully I'll be able to have the other two at some point.  Jo smelled some wood flavors in this but I didn't notice much of anything.  Pretty big espresso flavor in the first sip, but it wasn't crazy.  Nothing like Founders Breakfast Stout for example.  The coffee does sit on the tongue after each sip though.  Nice thick mouth feel to this one.  As it warmed up, the espresso becomes more noticeable but again not bad.

After the sampler, I tried to get a glass of Rodenbach Vintage 2007 but they were out.  Instead, I got a Southern Tier Pumking
There wasn't any head on it but you'll just have to trust me since I forgot to take a picture before drinking a bunch.  It smelled of pumpkin and a lot of spices.  Interesting smell, pretty much what a lot of people think of when they hear of a pumpkin beer.  The Pumking was very sweet with a lot of spices.  Kind of crazy how much pumpkin pie flavor they packed into this beer.  Even with all the spices and the high sweetness, it was still quite drinkable.

Went into the bottle shop before we left and man I love that place.  They have so many good beers.  Even if the prices can be a little high, there's just so much to find.  Every nook and cranny is just jammed with random beers.  I could come out of there with so many if I didn't care about money.  Ended up getting a Hoppin' Frog Boris the Crusher, an Oatmeal Imperial Stout, and a 2008 Rogue Imperial Porter.  The Rogue had an absolutely sweet bottle although it's no real surprise because if there is one thing Rogue does well it's make cool bottles.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Nodding Head

Jo and I hadn't been to Nodding Heading in a long time so we decided last night was a good night to change that.  Nodding Head is a brewpub in Philadelphia between 15th and16th on Sansom St.  Someone from my home town is actually a brewer there now so I'm trying to convince my friend to visit so she can introduce me.
It's sort of hard to find as it's upstairs from a different restaurant and the door is really nondescript.  (So nondescript they just have a piece of paper with their name on it tacked to the door.)  There's two decent signs, but if you aren't looking for it you'll probably walk by it.

Still, it's one of my favorite places in the city because the bar is pretty large, the food is really good (since it's owned by the same people the menu is similar to Monk's and Belgian Cafe, just a little smaller), and their beer is excellent.  In fact, I thought the beer last night was the best their beer has been since I've been going (8 years at this point, on and off maybe?)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Taco Tuesday

Jo and I went to Lucky 7 on Tuesday since they have a great food deal and their tacos are pretty tasty.  I didn't find anything interesting on draft, so I picked a bottle of Victory V-Twelve.
Not a great picture, but it's a nice bottle.  Pours a middle brownish color with absolutely zero head.  When I poured some more into the glass, there was some foaming but it immediately disappeared.  Pretty normal for the style though.  It smelled fruity with a decent bit of alcohol.  First sip basically tastes the same.  Nice mouth feel, not quite syrupy but close.  Only a slight alcohol burn but it's enough to be pretty noticeable.  Unlike some high alcohol beers, the alcohol taste is consistent throughout the entire beer.  So far, the big alcohol flavor is the only negative to Victory's high octane beers as I had a similar feeling when I had Storm King on Saturday.  Still, I enjoyed it quite a bit.  Probably be really good after a year or two.

As a side note, Jo had a glass of Furthermore Fallen Apple.  It's a cream ale brewed with apple juice and basically tasted like a cider mixed with a beer.  Pretty interesting and Jo enjoyed it.  She said the apple flavor started strong but diminished as she drank it.  Check it out if you see it.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Not Every Beer is Good

Tonight I had a Bar Harbor Blueberry Ale.
And, yeah, as the title says, this beer just wasn't good.  The only good thing I can say about it is that at least it smells good.  Unfortunately, beer is for drinking and this beer was not good at that.  It even starts out with a pleasant blueberry flavor and I thought it was going to be at least decent.  Following that, though, is this bitter, cheap beer flavor that was just gross.  Jo thought it tasted a little like Amstel Light but all I remember about Amstel Light is that it sucks.  I realize that every beer in the world isn't going to be exceptional, but I expect everything to at least be drinkable.  This just tasted so blah and the after taste made me gag.  Since I can't help myself, I drank like half of it until I just couldn't stand it anymore.  Avoid!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Lew Bryson and some other beers

On Sunday, on top of the absolutely awesome bourbon beers I drank, I got to meet beer writer Lew Bryson.  I'll probably miss a few things he writes, but here's a small list.  His normal blog, his noplcb (no pennsylvania liquor control board) blog, and some really interesting articles on some random website in Massachusetts.  Seriously, you should check out that site.  I easily spent 2 hours reading those articles one day.  On top of that he also spends time writing for a whisky magazine named Malt Advocate. However, the thing he's most well known for (or at least the reason I really know him) is his awesome book on Pennsylvania breweries.  It's thorough, well written, and super interesting.  Jo and I have the 3rd edition of the book and just picked up the 4th edition on Sunday.  I'm reading through it now and there is just so much useful information about breweries, brew pubs, bars, and attractions in Pennsylvania.  Probably the best part is how for every brewery and brewpub, he lists places to visit in the area plus other bars to visit.  The former is super useful for those of us that have wives that insist everything can't be about beer and the latter is useful when visiting a brewery that won't have any food.  Go ahead and pick up a copy at amazon.  Trust me, it's well written and there are some really interesting facts in it.  On a more personal note, Lew was really receptive to chatting with me on Sunday and it's always awesome if people are willing to listen to me.  Sure, it helped that he was there to sell his book so he couldn't go anywhere, but still.  Seriously, though, nice guy and you all should read his blog and buy his book.  That way he'll make another edition in a few years for me to buy.

On top of that I tried two other beers Sunday at Hulmeville.  The best of the two was Rodenbach Vintage '08.
Hulmeville served it in their sweet chalice and it poured with very little head.  Similar look to other Flemish Red Ales with some darker notes.  This variety is actually a 2008 vintage that the Rodenbach brewery aged themselves.  Since I haven't had it in a while (if ever) I can't do a comparison, but man, this was one smooth beer.  It had a sweet and sour nose on it with a mild apple juice backing.  Not as strong as some Flanders Red Ales but this is 2 years old already so I'm guessing the apple juicy smell and flavor mellows out over time.  The taste followed the smell with more sweet and sour notes, each taking a turn.  Super easy drinking and really good.  The cool thing is that aging beers is a big thing in Europe so you may find stuff like this around.  I know Capone's has the 2007 on draft right now although it's probably close to finished.

I finished up the night with something completely different in the form of Rock Art Pumpkin Imperial Spruce Stout.
To be honest, while I have some notes about this one, I can't believe it's a stout.  Jo claims Hulmeville's description mentioned this, but it didn't feel like one to me.  If anyone has ever had this, let me know.  Not much of a smell to it and surprisingly very little pumpkin taste.  The overwhelming flavor to it was spruce.  Yes, spruce, just like the tree.  It wasn't bad, mostly surprising.  Throughout the whole glass, spruce was the major flavor and it actually was more enjoyable than expected.  However, if you are looking for a pumpkin beer this is not where to start.  Neither Jo nor I got any pumpkin flavor from it at all

That's the end of the 10/10/10 Beer Geek BBQ at Hulmeville Inn.  Meeting and chatting with Lew Bryson was way more fun than I expected and the bourbon aged beers were just incredible.  Jeff does a great job with that place and I look forward to the next special event.

Monday, October 11, 2010

It's a Bourbon (Beer) Afternoon

Hulmeville Inn hosted their second annual Beer Geek BBQ on Sunday and had a really great tap list to go along with it.  While I had quite a few awesome beers, the stand outs for me were the three bourbon barrel aged beers: Dark Horse Bourbon Aged Plead the Fifth, Allagash Bourbon Black, and Port Older Viscosity.  The first is a barrel aged Russian Imperial Stout, the Allagash is a barrel aged Belgian Strong Ale and the Older Viscosity is a barrel aged Imperial Stout.  Hulmeville had them all in different sizes and availability which was pretty nice considering their strength.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Victory and Yards

Jo and I were going to head out to Lancaster brewing and Spring House brewing, but our plans changed so we instead went to Victory brewing and Yards brewing.  First we drove out to Victory and then we circled back to go to Yards.

The last time we had been to Victory was before they renovated their brew pub and we couldn't believe the difference between now and then.  Before, it was like a creepy school cafeteria and the food was only okay.  Now, the brewpub had really nice atmosphere, the tables looked really comfortable, and the bar was really inviting.

I had read about the renovations to their brewpub but I was not expecting such a significant upgrade.  Now, I'd totally be willing to bring people to the brewery whereas before there is no way I'd suggest it as a place to visit and this is just based on first impressions and has nothing really to do with the beer.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Russian River!

My sister in law brought me an awesome extra beer, Pliny the Elder when I asked her to get me some stuff from California.  Since I had some other Russian River beers I decided to make a night of them.

I figured starting with the Pliny the Elder would be a better idea since the strong sour flavors of the Consecration would definitely over power the hops in the Pliny.
Pliny the Elder is a double IPA which generally means that they use "double" the amount of ingredients (malt, hops, etc) resulting in an IPA that has more alcohol, more hops, more everything.  The result is a really hoppy, but in my opinion, more balanced beer.  The smell of this reminded me mostly of grapefruit with some other mild citrus flavors.  No hint of the 8% alcohol in it. The first taste followed with mostly grapefruit, but it was backed nicely by some residual sweetness.  After each sip, though, the hop bitterness lingered quite a bit.  Not unpleasantly but if you don't like hoppy beers it would drive you slightly nuts.  As it warmed up, the hops really mellowed out and Pliny became very smooth.  By the bottom of the glass, it tasted almost like a different beer.  Some of that is getting used the heavy hop flavor, but the warmer beer was much sweeter at the end with much less hop presence.  Pliny the Elder isn't available in bottles in Philly (Russian River only sends kegs over here) so this was a rare treat.  Really happy I got to try it.

After that I finished off the night savoring a Consecration.
Consecration is one of Russian River's American Wild Ales.  What this means is they start with a base beer, in this case some sort of brown ale, add brettanomyces and some other bacteria, and put the beer in a barrel to age it.  In the case of Consecration and Supplication they add currants and cherries, respectively, to the barrel before aging it.  The Consecration is aged in cabernet sauvignon barrels while the Supplication is aged in a different type of wine barrel (I can't remember, so sue me).

The first thing I noticed about the beer is the smell.  It was so strong that I could smell it from nearly a foot away.  It smelled of apple juice but with a hint of something that kept it from being over powering.  The color was a beautiful brown caramel with just a small ring of head on it.  So far, everything about the beer is just great.  The first sip was sweet, sour and all around interesting.  I felt that the brown ale base came through a bit in the sweetness of it but everything else about it was a result of the wood, the aging, and the currants.  There was a sharp front with a puckering aftertaste to it.  After a few sips, I still couldn't find the 10% alcohol.  It was just really well hidden.  As the beer warmed up, the flavors became a bit smoother and the mouth feel was a bit thicker.  Near the bottom it became sweeter with less of the sharpness the beginning had.  Throughout the glass though the flavors just lingered and lingered after each sip similar to some of the other sours I've had.  Probably the weirdest part (maybe influenced by the bottle mentioning it) is the hint of tobacco flavor that I could pick out.  It's probably a result of the wood aging or the brett yeast but still not a flavor I usually associate with beer.  By the end, the last sips were just sugary and delicious (but that may have been the 10% talking.)

All in all Russian River always impresses me.  Everything that I've tried by them is always excellent.  (See these posts for my impressions of Damnation and Supplication.)  Next time, though, I'm going to need to get a bottle of Supplication so I can finally end my flip flopping and decide which I like better, the Consecration or Supplication.  No real good reason for needing to decide but it gives me a great excuse to buy a bottle of Supplication.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Las Vegas Beer

Got to Las Vegas early enough to get some dinner and a nice beer.  Walked over to Mandalay Bay to go to the Burger Bar, a place I read about on Beer Advocate.  Turned out to be a pretty good place with a good beer list.

Since I can't get it around here, I decided to get the Deschutes Black Butte Porter.
This porter was really quite good.  It had a roasty aroma to it that was very inviting.  First taste was nutty and smooth.  Working my way through the beer the nutty flavor started to remind me of hazelnuts.  All in all, this was a good choice.  If I was able to get Deschutes in the area I'd get this again.  Plus this makes me super excited to try the Jubel 2010 if their regular beers are this good.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Saturday in Lee, Massachusetts

Spent the weekend in Lee, Massachusetts so that means a trip to Moe's! Moe's is a bar on Main Street in Lee and it's as good as any beer bar you can find. It has about 10 different rotating taps and the owner Josh brings in as many interesting beers as he can.  He had Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout last weekend for example. Any time I go to Lee I make a point of going there just because I usually find something good to drink there. On top of that, his bartenders are willing to talk to me about beer and know their stuff.  Plus who am I to say no to a trip to a beer bar? So if you're ever around exit 2 on the Mass Pike and want a beer, head into Lee and check out Moe's. If Josh is around, tell 'em Rich sent you.

Yesterday I got to have Sierra Nevada's Jack & Ken's again plus Gritty McDuff's Black Fly Stout. The Jack & Ken's was amazing again. (I talked about it here.)  That is such a great barleywine. After that I had a glass of Gritty McDuff's Black Fly Stout.
First, stouts on nitro are so freaking pretty.  The nitro tap and a proper pour is what gives that great foamy head.  This is a Dry Irish stout same as Guinness but way better.  It has way more flavor and it's just way more creamy.  This style is very easy drinking and this was no exception.  The Black Fly was just a little more bitter, but it was still really good.  Totally a nice way to cap off my visit to Moe's.

After that, Jo and I went back home where I decided to try two of the beers that my sister-in-law brought me from California.  One I asked for and one was a surprise.  The first was a Swedish beer named Oppigards Winter Ale.
It poured a brown color with a small amount of bubbly white head.  Had a mild fruit smell to it.  Not strong like a quad, just really mild and pleasant.  It tasted slightly spicy with a decent amount of sweetness.  I really didn't know what to expect from this but it was very good.  A really nice surprise since I didn't ask for this.

The beer I asked for was New Belgium's La Folie.
Unfortunately New Belgium isn't available in Philadelphia so this was a real treat for me.  La Folie is part of New Belgium's Lips of Faith series.  It's their Flanders Red Ale and they claim it's aged in barrels for 1 to 3 years.  It poured a dark brown color with zero head.  It's the sort of pour I'm learning to expect from this style of beer.  Great, super unique smells from this.  I smelled tart, sour notes with hints of vinegar but balanced with some nice lemony, citrus edges.  I was really psyched to try this out and my interest bore fruit with hints of caramel, slight vinegar and a nice tart end.  La Folie was really well balanced and I had no problems getting through the whole glass.  On top of that the bottle was super cool looking which is fun.

All in all a good weekend.  I got to go to Moe's and to try some more new stuff.  Plus I got this bunch of bottles (two of which I already drank) so I have a whole bunch of great stuff to try in the future.
From left to right it's: Deschutes Jubel 2010 (super psyched about this one, thanks Sean!), Russian River Temptation, Oppigards Winter Ale, Russian River Pliny the Elder (another fun surprise) and New Belgium La Folie.

Also note that I'm headed to Las Vegas tomorrow so there may not be any blogs this week until Friday or so.  We'll see though.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Troegs Night at Varga

On Thursday, Troegs Brewery hosted an event at Varga Bar.  I was excited because they were supposed to have the new Scratch 34 plus an undisclosed firkin of something.  I was hoping that the firkin would be Java Head with vanilla beans since it was delicious but we wouldn't know until we got there.  Of course, the weather Thursday night was abysmal but we ventured out anyway.

Varga is at 10th and Spruce and is a small place on the corner.  Possibly because of the weather there weren't too many people there when we arrived.  We picked a spot at the bar and waited for the Troegs beers to come on draft.  (Let me say that I had a bad cold Thursday so my descriptions won't be incredibly great since it was hard to taste or smell anything.  It's the reason I haven't posted at all this past week.)

I started with a glass of Troegs Dead Reckoning which is an American Porter.
It poured a basically black color with a small brown head.  Looks like what you'd expect from a porter.  I couldn't smell anything because of my cold so I'll skip that section this time.  Surprisingly, the first taste had quite a large hop character to it.  Porters are almost always roasty and malty, but this one had a much more up front hop taste to it.  It was actually really enjoyable since it gave it a really unique taste.  The hops blended into the roasted malt to create a mildly sweet flavor that I really liked.  I want to try this again when I can smell and taste better.

The next I had was the new Scratch 34, a Belgian Brown.  (Also known as an Abbey Dubbel I'm pretty sure.)
Scratch 34 was a really, deep brown with very minimal head on it.  The first taste was all Belgian.  I could taste bananas, a bit of sweetness, and exactly what is expected from a Belgian beer.  It was really enjoyable.  Apparently it's bottle conditioning right now so I'm hoping I'll be able to get a bottle of it at Capone's when Troegs finally releases it.

Finally I capped off the night with a glass of their Java Head. 
It's listed as an Oatmeal Stout on Beer Advocate, but it reminds me more of a coffee stout than anything else.  Poured a nearly black color with a nice, foamy brown head on it.  Looked really nice.  I don't have very clear impressions from this honestly but I did like it.  Jo said it had a mild coffee flavor to it.  I'll have to try it again at the next Troegs night at some other bar and write a better report then.

The event itself was put together by a guy named Nick who is the Troegs representative for the area.  I talked to him for a while and he's a really nice guy.  He mentioned he puts together events like this all over the city so I'm excited to check them out over the next few months.  On top of that he said that he had a keg of Mad Elf from '09 for an event so definitely want to check that out.  The only disappointing thing about the event was that the firkin he tried to get wasn't filled for him so the undisclosed firkin never made an appearance.  They did end up with a Dry Hopped version of their Dead Reckoning on hand pump, but since I already had a glass of that before finding out about it I didn't get a chance to try it.  Probably would be pretty interesting though.

I'm in Massachusetts today and heading to my favorite bar in Lee, Mass.  It's called Moe's and it's a little spot of beer heaven in a small town.