Monday, January 31, 2011

Rich Goes to Media

My wife had to do some work at her job in Chester, so being the loving husband that I am, I volunteered to come along and meet her for lunch.  Unfortunately for me, I had to find a way to kill two and a half hours before she was finished.  Poor me.  My sacrifice included a trip to Pinocchio's followed by a visit to the Iron Hill nearby.  Can you believe that I was willing to do this for her?  Crazy nice, I know.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Beer Tasting 2

I held another get together for a few people this past Friday.  This is the second time I've done this with the first in October.  They each brought a couple bottles of beer they wanted to try and I supplied some pizza and banana brownies.  Some bought based on the labels (one bought his bottles because there were dogs on the label) and others (me) bought because there were some beers they wanted to try but never get around to picking up.  Either way, we ended up with another fun lineup.
From left to right, we have: Why I Oughta IPA (Pete G's Double Black IPA), Ballast Point Victory at Sea, Troegs Flying Mouflan, Uintas Labyrinth, Terrapin Big Daddy Vlady's, and Cigar City Bolita.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Saturday Beers!

What's a Saturday without some interesting things to drink?  Nothing, that's what.  I needed to do some beer shopping for a thing I'm having at my house on Friday, so Jo and I took a trip out to Capone's and the Wholefoods in Plymouth Meeting.

We arrived at Capone's and found out the restaurant is going to be closed on Sundays (at least until around April) which stinks since that was always when we went.  Ah well.  There was a lot to choose from, but they had Flying Fish Exit 13, a chocolate stout, and I've been wanting to try that for a while now.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout

Kentucky Breakfast Stout, usually known as KBS, is an imperial stout brewed with coffee that is then aged in bourbon barrels for over a year.  Strong smelling, strong flavored, this is not a beer that fools around.  Founders releases it around April and it's pretty readily available during that time.  If you've had their Breakfast Stout, you have an idea of what to expect from the base beer even though they are different recipes.
The smell is just wow.  Bourbon, coffee, chocolate, wood, vanilla.  Just crazy complex.  Initially, possibly because it was too cold, the flavors were constantly fighting with each other.  First bourbon, then coffee, then roast with very few stops in between.  As it warmed up though the beer took on a life of its own.  All the flavors started blending together with a pleasant chocolate finish.  The bourbon is finally subdued by the other flavors and blends instead of taking over.  I left a bit in the glass for a while and it was even better.  This is definitely a sipper and I'd suggest waiting until the chill leaves it as it would be much more enjoyable.  Much, much better warm.  Definitely enjoyable on a cold Friday night but I hesitate to recommend it to anyone but the most devout of stout drinkers.  Very strong bourbon notes make it a tough sell.

Troegs Nugget Nectar

Nugget Nectar is another seasonal that took the BeerAdvocate trading forum by storm for a couple weeks just like Hopslam.  I've been looking to try it and got my chance yesterday at the Kite & Key, a nice little bar on Callowhill near 19th street.  Nugget Nectar is an Amber Ale although it's 7.5% so it's a bit stronger than most.  (See, Andy, finally an Amber!)
It had a very earthy smelling nose.  It's made, reasonably enough, with nugget hops which apparently impart an herbal and spicy flavor to beers.  I can see that.  On the first sip, bitter hops give way to a little sweetness, finishing with a bready flavor that is reminiscent of the style to me.  Some lingering bitterness that built up as I drank more.  Reasonably good and a change of pace from the more citrusy double IPAs.  I can see why it's popular.  I think I preferred Hopslam but they aren't totally comparable considering the base style differences.  Along with Nugget Nectar, Troegs has another amber called Hopback Amber and the Flying Mouflan has a similar hop profile.  Be interesting to try all three in one night and work the way up the strength and bitterness scale just to compare the differences.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Lost Coast 8 Ball Stout

This was another Hanukkah present from my brother Dan and another good choice.  You may remember the first bottle from when I used it to make a Swedish Christmas Rye.  This time, it was all for me.
After all the Imperial Stouts I've been drinking, this oatmeal stout makes a nice counter point.  Sweet and roasty nose.  I felt the sweetness in the nose was very reminiscent of a milk stout.  While the mouthfeel was thing, it had some nice, bubbly carbonation.  Roast, some sweetness, and some fruitiness all finishing with more of the pleasant roastiness which then lingers for a bit.  This is a very drinkable oatmeal stout and a nice change of pace.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Jose Pistola's does Smoke!

Another great event at Jose Pistola's last Friday.  They had three smoked beers and three smoked food specials.  When I entered it smelled fantastic in there as they had just thrown some smoke chips on a stove downstairs and the whole place had a nice haze of smoke.  Really set the mood for the event.  The three smoked beers they had were: Aecht Schlenkerla Oak Smoke (I think it's their Eiche), Weyerbacher Fireside Ale, and Left Hand Fade To Black Vol. 2 (a smoked baltic porter).  Since it was a work lunch I obviously couldn't drink too much (stop laughing) but I did try two of them.  I swear I only got the second because the chili I ordered was so damn spicy I needed something to pair with it.  Adam warned me and then laughed at me when I kept saying how spicy it was but man.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Wise Guy Weizen

I opened up my buddy Pete's homebrew the other day.  He recently gave me three and this one was a dark sour wheat and named Wise Guy Weizen.  And, yes, all have a Three Stooges theme.
Fluffy head that dissipated quickly.  I smelled bananas, some caramel and a tiny bit of tanginess.  First sip and my thought was, "Wow that's unique."  Bananas and an odd fruity edge followed by a musty wheatiness.  As it warmed, it had a pleasant sweetness mixed with a little sourness.  Kind of goes back and forth.  Not bad and certainly unique.  Nice Pete.

Bell's Hopslam

I can always tell when something new and interesting is coming out because the BeerAdvocate trading forum goes absolutely crazy.  Recently, the newest feeding frenzy beers were Bell's Hopslam and Troegs Nugget Nectar.  Luckily, Jose Pistolas put Bell's Hopslam on draft yesterday so I was able to try it without buying an entire six pack of it.  Let me say, it holds up to the hype.
Hopslam is a Double IPA offered by Bell's every January although at 11% it's higher than most other Double IPAs.  Bell's brews this with a number of different types of hops, a lot of malt and some honey.  From all that I've read, the honey only imparts some residual flavors on the beer and not sweetness.  It's used because it's a fully fermentable sugar so a brewer can raise the ABV and lower the gravity (thus drying out the sweetness) without adding other sugar to it.  Take that with a grain of salt though since it's not like I've done any real research on it.

The first thing I noticed was the aroma.  Just a huge amount of citrus mixed with grapefruit or pineapple notes (I honestly don't know if I can tell the difference just by smell, so sue me).  First sip I got a face full of sharp citrus which slowly recedes into a pleasing sweetness.  Very slight lingering bitterness, but it quickly disappears.  Even at 11%, I barely noticed the alcohol at all.  Compared to Brew Works Hop'solutely this beer was a dream to drink.  Maybe it was the glass size, but Hopslam was much closer to a Double IPA than the Hopwine style I got from Hop'solutely.  This should be available anywhere Bell's distributes at least for a week or two, so search out a six-pack.  Only negative is the six-packs are anywhere from $16-$20 so be ready for that.

If anyone is around, look for me at Jose Pistola's on Friday around noon.  They are doing a smoked event and will have 3 smoked beers and some smoked food specials.  Should be a tasty lunch.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Absolutely Awesome Stout Tasting

Before attending the Troegs Splinter Black release, I was sent a message on BeerAdvocate asking if I'd be up for trading a bottle to a local in Philly.  I said if I got some extra bottles, we could work something out.  However, after seeing what he had to offer we both decided that instead of trading for more bottles to sit on our shelves, lonely and undrunk, it would be a lot more fun to get together and do a tasting where I'd bring a bottle of Splinter Black and he'd bring some stuff.  It may seem odd meeting up with a total stranger, but I'm an odd guy so it evens out.  We met up at The Belgian Cafe just before Christmas to ensure that neither of us was a crazy murderer and, after realizing we were both relatively normal (well, almost normal), decided to do the tasting some time in January.

We talked a bit more after Christmas and came up with the date of January 15th.  He invited a friend of his who also lived nearby and after a few more messages we decided to make it a stout tasting.  For this one, we were doing it at my apartment.  They arrived around 3:15 and, lo and behold, his friend Josh turned out to be one of the random guys we met on the way to the POPE during the Craft Beer Express.  I honestly couldn't believe the coincidence.  Just really random.  We quickly set out the six bottles on the table and couldn't wait to get started.
From left to right, we had: Olde Hickory The Event Horizon, Olde Hickory Hickory Stick Stout, Big Sky Ivan the Terrible, Surly Darkness (finally!), Troegs Splinter Black, and Dock Street Prince Myshkin.

Friday, January 14, 2011

A Couple of Beers on a Friday

Last Friday I had a couple of interesting beers but haven't been able to talk about them quite yet.  Between the Three Floyds stuff, catching up on some other posts and Stina's birthday I've just had other things to talk about than these two.  Now's the time though.  I know, you're very excited.  I'm glad.

The first one I opened was a Great Lakes Christmas Ale.  My brother Dan gave me this for Hanukkah and I was excited because I had heard it was quite good.  I hadn't seen it anywhere around me so it was nice to get a few bottles.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A Blithering Idiot for a Birthday

It was my sister-in-law's birthday on Tuesday so I decided to pop an awesome beer, Weyerbacher's Blithering Idiot.  It's not hard to find or anything, but I find it to be a delicious English barleywine.
I let it warm up quite a bit which gave it a nice head on the pour.  Very pretty.  I smelled caramel, toffee and lots of fruit in the nose.  Initially, I got caramel, sugar and fruit flavors.  Basically had lots of prune, fig, and grapes.  Very thick body, almost syrupy.  I like that consistency in some beers as it allows it to coat your mouth with flavor.  A bit further into it the alcohol does appear but at 11% that's to be expected in my opinion.  I like this beer a lot and I'm looking forward to Insanity which is Blithering Idiot aged in bourbon barrels for about three months.  Can't wait to do a side by side.  Definitely a good beer to honor Stina's birthday.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Pete Michel's Hefeweizen

Pete gave me a bottle of his hefeweizen the last time he was over here back in October and I finally got around to drinking it.  Luckily it's been in the refrigerator since he left it here (I mean since he gave it to me...) so I figured it would have held up pretty well and I was correct as it was quite good.
Great banana aroma to it.  I'm guessing he used some sort of German yeast to get that as it's a basic aroma in that style.  First sip followed with bananas, some sweetness and a sugary ending.  Flavors continue in the same basic form throughout the rest of it.  Pete had told me he wasn't that impressed with it, but either 3 more months in the bottle made it much better or he's minimizing his skill.  Very tasty and seemingly representative of the style.  Nice job Pete.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Day of Three Floyds

Three Floyds is a brewery located in Indiana.  Their distribution area is very small, mainly only available in three or so states around Indiana.  Apparently they used to be available in Philadelphia but it stretched them too thin so they pulled out of the state a few years ago.  Right now you're probably asking yourself why the heck is Rich talking about a random brewery whose beer I can't even buy?  Well, shut up, that's why.  I'll get to the point when I'm good and ready.

Recently I visited DeCicco's in Ardsley, NY to buy myself a Captain Lawrence gift pack (see cellar sidebar for beers in it) and decided since it seemed to be popular that I'd find someone interested in trading some Three Floyds stuff for one.  After getting my wife's permission (stop looking at me like that), I posted on BeerAdvocate about it and ten minutes later I had everything set up.  I was primarily interested in Dark Lord, a Russian Imperial Stout only available one day a year from the brewery, and so I left it up to my contact, Adam, to provide me with that plus a few other bottles from Three Floyds that he'd pick out.  I ended up with Dark Lord, Moloko, an oatmeal milk stout, Black Sun, an Irish Dry Stout, Dreadnaught, a double IPA, and a bottle of the guy's homebrew Smoked Porter.  So this past Saturday I got together with two friends of mine, Greg and Kevin, to try them all and finally see why everyone loves Three Floyds so much.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Bavarian Barbarian Headbangerz Brown Ale

After resting a little from our New Years trip, Jo and I opened the growler of Headbangerz Brown Ale we got at Bavarian Barbarian brewery.
It had a sweet and malty nose with some bready notes.  Very inviting if you like sweet browns like Jo and I.  Tastes a little nutty, some sweetness. No hops to be found.  Mouthfeel is pretty great, nice thickness.  A little caramel started coming out as it warmed up.  Reminded me almost of a Belgian Dubbel but without the Belgian yeast.  We both really enjoyed this one and it's yet another Bavarian Barbarian beer I've liked.  If it was available in bottles around here we'd definitely pick some up.  Mike, the brewer, is aging some of this in some bourbon barrels and I can't wait to see how that turns out.  Most likely delicious.  If you're ever in Williamsport definitely stop in, say hi and have a beer.

New Years Central PA Brewery Tour - Bullfrog!

After our long travels, we finally arrived at the Bullfrog brewpub around 7:30pm and settled in for the evening.  We weren't sure we'd last four and a half hours but we were going to do our best.  Luckily, as we were getting seated, two spots at the bar opened up so we quickly switched to them.  Jo gets tired of listening to me talk so a bartender stuck behind a bar is a great distraction.  Honestly, I talk a lot, especially if I'm drinking, so I don't blame her at all.  Does sort of stink for the bartender but I'm totally friendly and interesting. What's that?  Stop laughing.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Cooking with Beer 2 - Christmas Rye Bread

For Christmas Eve, I made up a batch of Christmas Rye Bread for Jo's family.  The key to this is that it takes a bottle of stout instead of using water.  I put the recipe at the bottom of the post for those interested.

New Years Central PA Brewery Tour - The Beginning

For New Years, Jo and I decided to visit a few Central PA breweries that are too far to comfortably reach in one day.  Our original plans followed a different route but due to closures and odd hours, we ended up driving this one.  It looks sort of dumb as it crisscrosses itself, but that's the best we could do.  If Selinsgrove brewery was open and Berwick Brewing opened before 3, the route would have made a lot more sense.  Ah well.

The first place we visited was Old Forge Brewing in Danville.