Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Cisco Winter Woods

I've had this in my beer fridge for a while now and just never found the right time to drink it. After driving home from Western Massachusetts last Saturday, trying to beat the hurricane, I figured it was a good time. It's not that Cisco Winter Woods is rare or anything, I just like to find the right time to drink big bottles. It certainly explains why my cellar is rapidly expanding.
I wasn't sure what Winter Woods was (other than some sort of American Wild) until I opened it and turns out it's a sour brown. Big sour nose with a lot of tartness in it. Inviting for a sour, no off notes. Thick mouthfeel. Started with sourness, then you get some plum flavors and some bitter tannins from the chardonnay barrels. The finish was pretty tart and completely coats your mouth. The glass continued that way even when warmed up a bit. At times, the oak and bitterness are a little too present, but they fade quickly after appearing so they don't ruin the flavors luckily. Definitely tasty and worth trying if you like sours.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Beer Tasting 3

I didn't realize it had been quite so long since the last beer tasting with my friends, but apparently the previous one was all the way back in January. Ah well, I did move during that gap so I'll use that as my excuse. I'll just have to make up for it in the latter half of the year. Lots of great stuff this time and it definitely helped that I was hosting as it meant I didn't have to worry about how much I tried. Always a good thing with that much beer around.

We opened up quite a few bottles between the six of us. Here's the first set of bottles:

Monday, August 29, 2011

Wow, It's Been a Year

As I said early last week, I've somehow been writing this blog for over a year now. Honestly never thought I'd make it past a month, but here we are. I started writing it August 23rd 2010 with my first beer review on August 24th. Looking back over some of those early posts, I hope my writing has at least gotten better. For my sake but mostly yours.

I never knew what to expect when I started this. My wife suggested it since she was tired of listening to me constantly go on about beer and thought it might give me an outlet. Turns out, I talk about beer more now and have a growing collection of seasonals and one-offs. Joke's on her! However, it's given me a ton of awesome experiences that I would never give up.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Trip to Hulmeville

Haven't been back to the Hulmeville Inn since the awesome Beer Geek BBQ for Natalie and I thought a trip was in order. Since I had to meet up with my buddy Greg anyway I figured why not at one of the best bars in the suburbs. I started with a Stone Imperial Russian Stout and for those following along, yes, I had this quite recently at the Kite & Key. It's delicious, so sue me.
Not going to talk about it much other than to say it was chocolatey, smooth with a hint of vanilla. Just an excellent imperial stout and always a pleasure.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Weyerbacher Crimson at Kite & Key

In the fifth installment of Weyerbacher's IPA project, we have Crimson. I unfortunately don't have any real information about this version other than it's in the west coast style of IPAs.
Big grapefruit nose, pretty appealing and clean. Flavor starts with the same pleasant grapefruit flavor, but was followed by a large amount of bitterness and a very dry finish. The bitterness lingered on and on after each sip. This was a decent enough IPA, but I found the bitterness just a bit too much compared to some others. The grapefruit was spot on though. It was better than the Indian Brown Ale version but I think I liked the first better. There's one more in their project and then they'll decide which they are making their new year-round IPA. It'll be interesting to see which one comes out on top for sure.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Fourth Anniversary at Dock Street

I'll admit, Jo and I don't get out to Dock Street particularly often, but the past few times we've been out there for their special events have been quite excellent. Their pizza is top notch and the atmosphere is pretty unique and friendly. The reason for this visit was their fourth anniversary and the release of a two and a half year old sour Flemish Red. I'm a sucker for sours so I knew we had to go.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Trip to Capone's

It's been quite a while since my wife and I had been to Capone's and since we were heading up to the area, we figured a stop was in order. It was even Jo's idea! Lucky me. My usual course of action is to start with a sampler, but there was a beer on draft from East End, from out in Pittsburgh and since it's really rare here in Philly I had to start with that.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Yards Cape of Good Hope at Kite & Key

Now, I realize I recently wrote about Yards Cape of Good Hope after drinking an entire growler of it, but when I finally took notes, well, lets just say I was slightly inebriated. Slightly. So, since it was on draft at Kite & Key, I figured I'd get another taste of it to get some more useful comments.
It's definitely pretty. Nice deep, murky orange color. Nice citrusy nose, very clean. No bitterness to be found. Starts with grapefruit, followed by a nice maltiness, and finishing slightly bitter. Just a really well-balanced double IPA, no hint of the 8% ABV and quite tasty. So my notes weren't too off and this is mostly just a repeat. Oh well, you'll all live.

On a side note, I just realized I've been doing this for almost a year. Not sure if I'll drink something fun on the 1 year anniversary, but we'll see.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Monk's Mad Monday - Cantillon

Last week was the best Monk's Mad Monday ever, a beer event so amazing people in California were saying they should have flown in for it. Tom Peters, the owner of Monk's, put 12 different Cantillon beers (different vintages and such) on tap and said he thought it was the most ever put on at a bar in the US at one time. I can't substantiate that claim so lets just say he's right since it sounds good. Monk's opens at 11:30 and when I got there around 11:10 there was already a crowd at least 40 deep waiting to get into the bar. Lots of people I recognized too although none are in the picture below. The entrance is around that tree in the distance I think.
Twenty minutes later, we all calmly filed into Monk's and, unlike at the Lost Abbey event, people made a line heading into the back bar and were only about three deep instead of seven. Meant I managed to get to the bar in about at most fifteen minutes instead of waiting 45 like last time. Nice job there.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Alesmith Speedway Stout

I've been meaning to open this for a while but just didn't find the time until last Friday. The main reason issue is it's a 750ml bottle and at 12% it's a bit of a commitment. Turns out the commitment was well worth it as Speedway is amazing.
Sweet nose with a bit of coffee and some slight alcohol tanginess. Really inviting. Like, super inviting. Like, I wanted to drain the entire glass in one sip inviting. I didn't though. What? I didn't!

Thick and velvety body. Starts with a bit of coffee, a little bitterness, a little cream, and some dark fruit. As I drank more a little roast appeared to mix with all the other flavors. While there wasn't any heat from the alcohol, I could definitely tell it was strong. Nothing wrong with that though considering it was strong. This was just freaking awesome and honestly surpassed my expectations. Just fantastic.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

A Small Bottle Share

I had some friends over this weekend and and they brought a couple of bottles over to share. We started with one of my bottles, a Captain Lawrence Smoke from the Oak. This one was an Imperial Smoked Porter that was aged in wine barrels.
Very smoky aroma with a slight hint of red wine. On my first sip, the major flavor was smoke. Not harsh, more pleasant campfire. The wine part of it though sort of came and went and was sort of interesting. Not bad, just interesting. The major issue is the barrel flavors and the smoke flavors didn't blend well. Luckily, they didn't clash either but without the blending the beer just doesn't come together. Also, even with the smoke not being overwhelming, I'm not sure how a big glass of it would have gone down. I have bottles of rum barrel and apple brandy barrel and hope their flavors blend a bit better and cause the smoke to relax some.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Dinner at Kite & Key

In a change from my regular Tuesday at Kite & Key routine, my wife joined me for dinner so I was there a bit longer than usual. Nice to mix things up every once and a while, ya know? I got there a bit before her so I ordered a Deschutes Black Butte Porter to pass the time.
Delicious chocolate roast nose. Starts with flavors of roast and chocolate, finishing with a slight smoky character. The mix of chocolate and roast is really well balanced. Very tasty. So disappointing that it'll be gone soon and not available year round. If only Deschutes distributed to Philly for real. Oh well.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Founders Blushing Monk

After many years, Founders is once again bottling beers in 750ml bottles. The first in their special line was named Blushing Monk, a Belgian Style Ale brewed with a ton of raspberries.
The aroma was all raspberry, all the time. Just crazy strong smelling. Not cloyingly sweet, but strong. Very thick mouthfeel. Starts very sweet with clean raspberry flavors. Just really sweet. No tartness to counteract the sweetness either. However, things changed as the 9% alcohol started to come to the front. I drink stronger beers way more often so it wasn't particularly noticeable to me, but my wife found it became overwhelming quite quickly.

Originally I bought it to share with Jo because she sometimes likes the sweeter beers, but because of the alcohol notes she found, I ended up drinking both glasses. Big sacrifice, I know. Although I enjoyed it, I don't think I'd buy another bottle considering the price. However, I'd seek it out again on draft and hope to find it somewhere in the city. Also can't wait until Founders announces their next in the 750 line as I'm sure it will be something cool.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Victory Summer Love

I'm late to the bandwagon as Summer Love, an american blonde ale, is leaving stores at this point, but the distributor was out of the Flying Fish Farmhouse and I decided this would make a decent replacement.
Turns out that Summer Love is pretty different from the Farmhouse but still decent. Citrusy nose. Not like an IPA citrus bomb, more that the hops exist and you notice them unlike some other blondes. Mildly hoppy first sip, slight malt. The mild hops are the main focal point throughout the glass. Decent beer, nothing incredibly special, but probably very tasty on a hot day which, well, is perfect for summer and probably the point.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Yards Cape of Good Hope

I've been awaiting the release of Yards new double IPA, Cape of Good Hope, ever since it got announced a couple months just because it sounded like it would be interesting. When Yards tweeted that it was available at the brewery, I decided I'd go grab a growler of it and see what the fuss was about.
First, let me say when drinking an entire growler by yourself, take notes on the first glass and not the third. Mild grapefruit nose with a little bit of pine.  Starts slightly citrusy and slightly bitter with a slight malty finish. Very balanced with all of the slight flavors adding up to being quite tasty. Some slight (yep, again) lingering bitterness. It wasn't spectacular or anything, but I enjoyed it and really want to try it again out of the bottle just out of curiosity.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Lunch at Jose Pistola's

I haven't been back to Jose Pistola's since Philly Beer Week so I decided to head there for lunch last Friday. It had just been too long since I had a beer and a giant burrito there. I started with a glass of Allagash Victoria, a tripel aged with grapes, something I've been wanting to try for a long time now.
Tripel like aroma, slightly belgian, nice dryness. Very tasty first sip. Slightly tart, hint of grapes, very clean finish. As I drank more, the tartness never grew and was quite delicious. Never a hint of the alcohol either considering it's 9%. This was one tasty beer.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Stone Imperial Russian Stout at Kite & Key

I've been waiting for the Stone Imperial Russian Stout to go on draft for almost a month now. It showed up on the upcoming list a while ago which got me excited and then actually came on draft once, but was taken off for Savage Sixtel Sunday before I got a chance to try it. Finally, yesterday, it was back and I ordered a glass before I even sat down at the bar.
Roasty aroma with a hint of chocolate in it. First sip had some chocolate and roast flavors in it followed by some hints of vanilla. All of that continued as I worked my way through the glass and as it warmed, they got a bit more intense. I'll say that while I enjoyed it, the bottle I had a while back (bottom of here) was better for whatever reason. I don't know if the bottle had a bit of age on it or if it was the warmer temperature I served it at, but the flavors were just a bit more intense and the body was creamier. Still, I enjoyed the draft of it I had and can't complain too much.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Mike D Braggot

On Friday I opened a bottle of my friend's homebrew, a braggot that he brewed back in January. Historically, a braggot was a fifty-fifty mix of mead (a drink made from fermented honey) and beer. Nowadays, it's a beer brewed with a ton of honey. I'm sure there's an actual amount of honey instead of just "a ton" but I don't know it off-hand.
I don't have a lot of experience with braggots. The only one I've had at this point is Weyerbacher Sixteen (see my review here along with a bunch of Dark Horse stuff) and I thought it was way too syrupy and sweet. This meant I was going into drinking Mike's braggot with a bit of hesitance. However, turns out I had nothing to worry about and it was damn good!

Smelled sweet and syrupy with a hint of honey, similar to Sixteen but not quite as strong. Very thick mouthfeel. Started fruity (almost like a quad but a little sweeter), then a little caramel and alcohol, and finished with some of the same syrupy sweetness. The fruit continued to be at the forefront through most of the glass with the syrupy-ness lessening as I got more used to it. I don't know if Mike used less honey to brew this than Weyerbacher which is why it was less syrupy but whatever he did, he did right as it was better than Sixteen. So, go Mike. Glad I have a second bottle for sure.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Savage Sixtel Sunday at the Kite & Key

On Sunday July 24th the Kite & Key had an event called Savage Sixtel Sunday. They've had other ones previously but apparently this one was also their 3rd anniversary. I didn't actually know that until after but good for them! I hadn't been to one of these before but the tap list to this was pretty awesome plus I knew a few people going so figured it would be a lot of fun. I started with a Bells Batch 9000 which was also the first beer that caught my eye when I first saw the tap list.
This was part of Bell's "batch" series where every 1000 batches of beer, they brewed a unique one-off. This one is labeled an American Strong Ale although I could see it labeled as a quad. Smelled of caramel, plums, toffee, raisins, and wine. Really strong but delicious aroma. Flavor started similarly with caramel, toffee then a decent amount of alcohol. The alcohol wasn't harsh but there is no mistaking that it is 12.5%. I can't imagine how strong this tasted fresh considering how strong it is at about a year and a half. Still, I really enjoyed it even with the alcohol, just need to remember to sip it.