Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Cantillon St. Lamvinus

It's not everyday (okay it's basically never) that you see any Cantillon on draft, let alone one that is pretty damn rare even in bottle form.  However, this past Tuesday, the Belgian Cafe put on Cantillon St. Lamvinus and I knew I had to stop in for a glass.  As the link will tell you, St. Lamvinus is two to three year old lambic placed in Bordeaux barrels with grapes and aged, I guess.  Okay, the link isn't terribly helpful.  It's an old lambic with grapes.  There, that's better.  Maybe someone smarter than me can explain what that link really meant.
Smelled sour with a little vinegar and notes of red wine.  A little funk but not too much.  Very little carbonation, almost still.  First sip is just crazy.  So many flavors.  Grapes, some funk, sour, tannin bitterness, wood and vanilla.  Hugely complex with one flavor flowing into the next.  It calmed down a little as I got used to it and the grapes, wood and vanilla came to the fore

A friend told me that as it ages, the grapes fade and the funk and tart come to the front and I imagine it then tastes like a completely different beer.  Lambics are awesome like that.  So glad I stopped to try this as I've never had anything quite like it.  I'm not really doing it justice, but hopefully you've gotten the idea and realize it was fantastically unique.  Too bad the bottles are scarce and expensive.  Ah well.  Now to hope I can get to Monks when they tap their keg of Fou'Foune they are rumored to have stashed away.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Terrapin Wake & Bake

Terrapin Wake & Bake is another imperial stout made with coffee bu at least it has one of the best names.  Plus it has a turtle baking cookies and drinking a beer on the bottle.  What's not to love?
Smells like roasted black coffee with a hint of chocolate in it.  Yum.  First thing you notice in the flavor is the coffee with chocolate and a little roast following close behind.  Considering the aroma, I expected the coffee to overpower everything but it doesn't.  Just is kind of there throughout every sip in a good way.  Everything just blends really well and it's quite tasty.

Lunch at Eulogy

Met up with my buddy Greg at Eulogy, a bar in Old City, this past Sunday.  I haven't been there in quite a while and it was near the theater so there we go.  Nice place for those of you that haven't been.  Two floors (useful knowledge since the first floor gets busy) with a number of tables on both.  It does get busy at night (or at least it used to) but just go earlier and it's fine.  When I got there it wasn't too busy though the bar was pretty full.  I got a pretty tasty burger (blue cheese and onions, yum) and Greg got what looked like a decent grilled cheese.  They also had the usual Belgian stuff, Mussels etcs, as well if you are into that.  All in all a great place to go.

Monday, March 28, 2011

An Evening with De Struise

I decided my cellar needed a little cleaning so why not go into some of the beers I picked up from Belgium.  De Struise is a very small brewery in Belgium run by only a few people.  Seems like a nice place and the owners appear on BeerAdvocate every once and a while which is neat.  If I ever get to Belgium it's definitely a place I want to visit.  Since one was a Belgian Strong Pale Ale and the other an Imperial Stout, I decided to start with the former, the De Struise Tsjeeses.  Don't ask me how to pronounce the name, though, as I have no clue.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Sierra Nevada Bigfoot

Sierra Nevada Bigfoot is an American Barleywine and makes no qualms about it.
Super hoppy aroma with pine, some sweetness in the back, and a tiny bit of caramel.  Mouthfeel is nice, a little syrupy.  Initial flavor is big citrus hops which are followed by a little caramel.  A little bitterness follows as expected but it's not dry.  The rest of the glass is dominated by the hops but the sweetness holds them up and keeps it from being overwhelming.  While it's comparable to a Double IPA, it's much sweeter than most.  I didn't find any fruit notes like I do in English Barleywines either hence the "American" moniker.  Tasty beer for me even with the bitterness.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Brooklyn Monster 2009

Apparently named after a very large cat at the Brooklyn Brewery, Monster is a English barleywine weighing in at around 11%.
I believe this bottle is from 2009 as the bottle says "This Monster Ale was born in 2009."  The case has it being bottled in the latter half of 2009 so I guess I'm correct.  Didn't even mean to buy a year and a half old case.  Ah well, pleasant surprises.

Smells of caramel, toffee and a tiny bit of fruit.  Tiny bit of alcohol presence is found but not much.  Nice mouthfeel.  Flavor was really mild on this one.  Well blended and no alcohol notes (which is good), but mild.  Caramel and toffee again with fruit following.  No alcohol burn at all.  Pretty tasty and I'd drink it again, but not a huge stand out.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A Day (and part of a night) at the Khyber Pass Pub

While Bryan over at The Brew Lounge decided to be responsible, I definitely was not this past Saturday.  What began as spending an afternoon at the Khyber Pass Pub ended up with me being there for around nine hours.  Honestly, it started with the best of intentions.  Jo was out of town, they were having an event called Tsar Power where they put a bunch of imperial stouts on draft, and I was going to go have a couple to pass the time in the afternoon.  Even when a tweet came out from PhillyTapFinder with the list of stouts and it included Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout and 15 other really impressive stouts, I still thought I'd only spend a couple hours.  However, when the time came, I just talked and talked and talked and drank and drank and all of a sudden it was 10pm.  Still, in the end, it was totally worth it even if I was pretty hungover the next day.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Insanity, Weyerbacher Style

I helped a friend of mine fit a new case of beer into his beer closet and since he's beyond generous he gave me bottles of Weyerbacher's Insanity, Decadence (their 10th anniversary beer) and a Double Simcoe all from 2005.  All for like 10 minutes of work.  Andrew's awesome.  Since I had just bought some bottles of 2011 Insanity, I knew it would mean an awesome side by side and here we are.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Dogfish Head Olde School

I opened up my first bottle of Dogfish Head Olde School the other day.  It's a monster of a barleywine weighing in at 15%.  After having Dark Horse's 15% barleywine recently, I was expecting something akin to delicious lighter fluid but Dogfish Head surprised me with something better.
That's the awesome Ommegang chalice we got from our recent trip to Cooperstown.  Olde School smelled fruity (plum and grapes) with caramel and toffee in the back.  I couldn't find any alcohol in the aroma which is just really impressive.  Very fruity on the front end with some sugary sweetness following it.  I found some alcohol when I swallowed as it burned just a little bit, but it was almost pleasant and came and went.  Just crazy good for 15% and dangerously easy to drink.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Victory Old Horizontal 2009

I had Victory Old Horizontal relatively recently at the brewpub and wasn't terribly impressed with it.  I found a ton of astringent alcohol with heavy hopping that I found mildly unpleasant.  However, I figured I'd give it a second chance and ended up with a case from November of 2009 based on Victory's best by dates.  With a little trepidation, I poured the bottle but man was I pleasantly surprised.  Either the aging cleaned it up or it's just better from the bottle, but regardless it turned into a super tasty barleywine.
The aroma was very clean with a lot of fruit notes.  My first thought on my first sip was how smooth it was.  Tasted fruity with a hint of alcohol and hops but no burn and not bitter at all.  As I drank more I got a tiny bit of vanilla in the finish.  It felt really well balanced and really drinkable compared to last time.  I'm betting it's the age that caused the huge step in quality but who knows.  I can't wait to open the other two bottles I have.

Bed & Brews at the Inn at Cooperstown - Saturday night

After the bottle share event Friday night comes a great dinner at Brewery Ommegang Saturday night.  The trolley (yes, trolley) doesn't show up until 5pm so you have all day Saturday in which to do whatever around Cooperstown.  We figured we should visit the Baseball Hall of Fame (because really if you drive all the way to Cooperstown, NY, you really should) and so we did.  Spent about two hours wandering around the museum and really enjoyed our time.  There is just so much history in baseball, it's just crazy.  After that we went to Doubleday Cafe for lunch based on a suggestion from someone on BeerAdvocate.  I got a glass of Ommegang Rare Vos because they only had Pepsi and Pepsi stinks.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Bed & Brews at the Inn at Cooperstown - Friday night

My wife and I recently traveled up to Cooperstown, NY to participate in the Bed & Brews weekend at The Inn at Cooperstown.  Besides the two awesome nights which I'll describe in detail later, you also get as part of the package:
  • One rare commemorative Ommegang Abbey Ale jeroboam (3L bottle), signed by the Brew master - Limit 1 per reservation
  • One Ommegang Abbey Ale Chalis per person
  • One Brewery Ommegang sweatshirt or two t-shirts
The jeroboam is a giant 3L bottle of Abbey and the glasses are very nice chalices with an Ommegang logo and a nice gold rim.  On top of that, Friday night is a tasting where all the guests at the Inn share their favorite beers (or homebrew or whatever).  Saturday night is a private tour of Ommegang by one of their brewers plus a very delicious dinner with beer pairings at their new Cafe.  All in all an excellent package.  Check out some pictures on their website under the "Packages" tab.

Thursday, March 10, 2011


Jo and I recently met up with some friends at a restaurant named Kennett.  It's located on 2nd street just before Carpenter and is pretty easy to get to.  Reasonable amount of parking as well.  Not a big place, but well set up.  Nice looking bar on your left as you walk in with a couple tables across from it leading into a dining room with four or five more tables.  As I said, not big.  Food was really good.  They have a brick oven and their pizza was very tasty and our friend said their veggie burger was good.  Beer list was decent as well and most likely sees a decent variety.

Weyerbacher Heresy

I mentioned during my post about Weyerbacher Old Heathen that I was really interested in trying Heresy because Old Heathen was so good.  So recently I went to London Grill to try it since I knew it was on draft there.  Totally worth the walk as it was pretty great.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Two Idiots Enter, One Drunk Leaves

I've had a bottle of 2008 Weyerbacher Blithering Idiot burning a hole in my pocket (shelf?) since I bought it at Capone's a couple months ago.  However, I really enjoy doing side by sides with the fresh version when I have an older vintage (like when I did Troegs Mad Elf a while back) and so haven't had the opportunity to open it.  Since I just bought three Blithering Idiots, I finally had my chance do a comparison.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Russian River Pliny the Younger (yes again)

I don't usually repeat beers but I walked two miles to get a glass of this so I'm going to repeat it.  Plus, as I like to say, it's my blog and you'll read what I write.  Or you won't I guess.  I hope you will though.  Seriously, please read my blog.  Tell your friends!

Okay, yeah.  So.  Pliny the Younger.  Thanks to Philly Tap Finder, on Friday morning I saw that St. Stephen's Green (at 17th and Green) was tapping a sixtel of it at noon.  Thinking it would make for a pleasant walk whether I got a glass or not (if it was a mob scene I would have just turned around), I made my way there.  However, surprisingly enough, there weren't that many people there when I arrived and I got a seat and everything.
I got my glass and took a seat and enjoyed it while reading my kindle.  Wonderful citrus aroma without any bitter notes.  Tons of citrus up front (maybe even some pineapple?) followed by a little sweetness and finishing bitter and dry.  Like many other IPAs the bitterness lingers a little but not overlong.  It does leave your mouth super dry though.  Curious what the final gravity would be considering the dryness of it.  As I said last time, I couldn't find any heat from the 10.25% ABV which is an accomplishment in and of itself.  Fantastic beer but not one that's easily available so until next year that's all she wrote.  If I'm still doing this then, look for another entry because it really is just that good.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Thursday at Nodding Head

I needed to kill some time while waiting to meet my wife for dinner so I thought what better way to do that than spend an hour reading at Nodding Head and enjoying some beer.  I did a little research using Philly Tap Finder but decided I really wanted to try the Belgian Chocolate Stout so headed to Nodding Head.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Duck Rabbit Barleywine

I recently bought a few different barleywines and the Duck Rabbit's was the first I tried.  I really like Duck Rabbit as a brewery and love their Milk Stout (and enjoyed their porter recently), but unfortunately I wasn't terribly impressed with their barleywine.
Very slight aroma with some caramel and fruit followed by a little alcohol.  Fruit opens up the first sip, followed by a few sugary notes but finishing with a fight between an unpleasant bitterness and strong alcohol.  When it warmed up the alcohol and bitterness faded a little but they never fully went away.  It wasn't a drain pour or anything, but I wasn't eager to open up a second right after finishing it.  I love their bottle though.  Doesn't the duck look dapper in his bowler?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Weyerbacher Old Heathen

While I was trying to save my last bottle of Weyerbacher Old Heathen in order to do a side by side with Heresy (which is this aged in bourbon barrels), my thirst got the better of me and I couldn't wait anymore.  Old Heathen is an Imperial Stout on the lighter side of ABV at 8%.  What?  8% is comparatively lighter!
This is quite tasty and really want to try Heresy at some point.  I feel the sweetness would hold up well to the bourbon flavors imparted by the barrel.  The aroma was mainly chocolate and vanilla with a small hint of coffee.  Very inviting.  Initially get fruit followed by chocolate.  Silky mouthfeel.  I got a tiny bit of bitterness (I expect from the hops) but it's immediately covered up by even more silky chocolate.  For whatever reason, the aftertaste is all vanilla and left my mouth happy.  If you couldn't tell, I really enjoyed this and could easily go back for more.  The Bells Expedition is still probably my favorite of the bunch, but Old Heathen comes really close and is available all year round which is a big plus in my book.

Why I Oughta IPA

I realized I still had a bottle of my buddy's Black Double IPA (his words) in the beer refrigerator and figured I should drink it while it's still sort of fresh.  I had it once before during the second beer tasting and thought it was pretty tasty.  This time I haven't had like six beers before it and thought it was still really good.
Inviting aroma of pine and orange peel.  Lots of citrus and pine notes up front with a pleasant roasty finish.  Some sweetness balances a slight lingering bitterness.  The best part, at least for me, is that the bitterness from the hops never overwhelms the palate and just kind of lives on the edge.  I'm a big fan of balanced IPAs and found the roasted finish to be one of the better ones I've found in black IPAs that I've had.  Nice job Pete.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Dark Horse Three Guy Off the Scale Barleywine

I recently opened a barlyewine from Dark Horse named Three Guy Off the Scale.  This clocks in at 15% and, while not harsh, the alcohol has a heavy presence.
Smells a little like rocket fuel mixed with sugar, caramel and toffee.  Mmm, rocket fuel.  The first sip followed with tons of caramel, toffee and dark fruit with a slow alcohol burn in the finish.  As I drank more and it warmed a little, the alcohol burn in the finish subsided a bit and I was left with delicious caramel and plum.  It actually reminded me quite a bit of Samichlaus and, while super strong, was still tasty.  I wouldn't drink more than one in a night for obvious reasons but one was great.