Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Alpine Exponential Hoppiness

Over the weekend, I drank a bottle of Alpine Exponential Hoppiness. This is from a real small brewery outside of San Diego and came by way of my friend Matt Rittenberg. He was nice enough to give me one of the bottles his friend sent to him. Exponential is a triple IPA coming in at 11%.
Incredibly clean citrus orange nose with a hint of caramel. Jo thought it was super strong smelling but I didn't see it. Well, smell it. She does tend to be way more sensitive than me though. Huge orange juice body with a blast of citrus up front, more orange hanging around with just a bit of bitterness coming through at times. The aftertaste is mostly bitterness, not sweet even with the fact that the body isn't that dry. No alcohol that I could find for the most part though it felt a bit like alcoholic orange juice. Very impressive mix of sweet and dryness that never became cloying. Just delicious and excellent use of hops. I imagine it's amazing when it's even fresher. Thanks Matt!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Founders Breakfast Stout at Kite & Key

I've had Breakfast Stout before but I haven't had it this year yet. Figured Monday seemed like a good time to rectify that especially since nothing else jumped out at me. Breakfast Stout is a coffee imperial stout coming in a little over 8%.
Nice clean coffee nose with a little hint of chocolate. On first sip, the coffee was front and center and moved into chocolate and roast. Some bitterness in the finish either from the coffee or the hops. Stays pretty steady through the rest of the glass with the coffee fading just a tad. An excellent coffee stout and it's no surprise this is one of Founder's more popular beers.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Wrecking Bar Brewpub in Atlanta

I recently had to go to Atlanta for work and what does that mean? It means I find somewhere sweet to eat dinner the first night! After a little research on BeerAdvocate, I settled on the Wrecking Bar brewpub because I love brewpubs and it had quite a few positive reviews. Turns out it was also two blocks from my friend's apartment so that worked out real well.

After a long cab ride from the airport followed by a short walk, I arrived in the Little Five Points area of the city and the Wrecking Bar. Nice looking place, smallish bar with about fifteen seats. A decent number of tables too. Not a ton of people were there when I walked in around 6 but it was a Tuesday and it did fill up during the few hours I was there though. The first thing I did was order a flight which came with six of their nine or so beers.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Epic Brewing Brainless on Cherries

I haven't had much from Epic Brewing at this point. I'm not even sure they distribute to Philly actually. I picked this up after having Brainless on Peaches thinking I'd like it more since cherries work really well in most beers, but I was unfortunately wrong. Either my tastes have changed since February (not terribly likely) or this one isn't anywhere near as good as the Peach version which was really only above average.
Sort of an odd nose for a tripel, now that I think about it. I wrote that it smelled of wheat and spice with a little bit of clove. The odd part is the wheat notes but maybe I'm just crazy and smell wheat in everything. Who knows. Kind of a blah body, unfortunately. Lightly spicy but very sweet with only a hint of cherry. Got a little better as I drank more and the cherry became stronger but the base tripel just didn't do it for me. Compared to the peach version, I think the fruit just didn't cover up the inadequacy of the base tripel. Oh well.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Pete Giovinco Socktoberfest

The other bottle Pete gave me was his Socktoberfest. While I didn't feel yesterday's beer suffered from the age, I'm thinking this one faded quite a bit since it was fresh way back when. Not sure when he brewed it either so it might even be a bit older than August.
Sweet caramel nose though a little milder than I expect it used to be. Caramel and apple started things off, which were nice, but then a little bit of oxidation and cardboard flavors came out. The latter flavors are almost definitely from the age of the bottle which is totally my fault. If it tasted only like the initial caramel flavor when it was fresh, then this was probably pretty decent then. As it is, it was totally fine and still enjoyable but not as good as his Holy Smoked Rye Lager.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Pete Giovinco Holy Smoked Rye Lager

Pete gave me this near the end of August and I sort of misplaced it in a box with some other beer. I was a little worried it wouldn't be as good now since it's a few months older, but turns out it was still pretty tasty. I'm assuming it's a smoked rye lager as otherwise the name would just be confusing.
Chocolate, caramel, roast, and slightly smoky in the nose. Pretty complex. Smoky rye body followed with chocolate and caramel finishing things up. Nice creaminess to it all as well. The rye adds a little spice, keeping it from being too sweet which is good. Really enjoyed this one. Nice job by Pete and his friends.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Duck Rabbit Hoppy Bunny

I'm really not a huge fan of Black IPAs as I've said before but as most of you know I have serious issues about wanting to try everything. So, here we are, with a glass of Duck Rabbit Hoppy Bunny at Kite & Key.
Nice nose, strong grapefruit mixed with a nice roast. Basically what you'd expect from a decent black IPA so that's a good start. Unfortunately, the nose didn't follow through to the body. In the first sip, the grapefruit faded immediately and I just got roast and caramel with a light bitterness in the finish. Honestly was almost a little sweet which is just crazy for this style. This ended up more like a lightly hoppy porter than a black IPA. Even the body was slightly thicker than I'd expect. It wasn't terrible or anything just not very true to style. Jacquelyn, the bartender, liked the name at least so it has that going for it.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Karl Strauss Wreck Alley

My buddy in San Diego sent me this a little while ago. I've asked him for a couple of their anniversary beers before so he decided to send me this one presumably so I could check out some of their normal lineup. Plus, I love stouts so it's an easy choice for filling out a box.
Sweet nose with a hint of saltiness. Medium body. Flavors followed the nose with caramel, roast, a little soy sauce saltiness, and some bitterness in the finish. This isn't the first time I've found saltiness in stouts and so I didn't find it odd. I realize it doesn't seem like a great flavor in a beer, but think about how salt contrasts with chocolate and you get an idea of why it works. Plus it makes for a nice change between stouts from different breweries.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Troegs Mad Elf 2010

I was pulled away to Atlanta for work so didn't have a chance to write much last week. But, I'm back now and starting with a bottle I opened a week or two ago, a 2010 Troegs Mad Elf. I've been drinking Mad Elf for years now and it really may be my favorite beer. In fact, I have seven different pictures of it at this point for whatever reason. Considering I normally don't have more than one or two of most other beers, that's kind of funny.
I bought this bottle a couple years ago when my friend and I went to Troegs for the Splinter Blue release. Which also made me realize they haven't released a splinter beer in a long time. Too bad though Black wasn't that good so maybe not.

Honey, clove, and a little spiciness in the nose. Smelled smoother than a fresh one with a distinct lack of alcohol. Bananas, clove, honey, and hints of cherry followed in the body. The clove came and went, but the honey and the cherry hints were there through most of it. Some people find Mad Elf too sweet or medicinal but I just love it for some reason. I totally understand the issues, they just don't bother me.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Victory Dark Intrigue 2010

I've been slowly yet steadily drinking through the bigger bottles in my basement just because I realized I had too many beers down there. Well, actually, my wife realized it and was making fun of me about it. So yeah. I never really planned on making a cellar, it's just that I drink big bottles slowly. Hence, drinking random things regardless of whether I can get them again or not. So, this past weekend I drank my one bottle of 2010 Victory Dark Intrigue, a bourbon barrel version of their stout Storm King.
Bourbon vanilla nose, actually pretty nice though not very strong. Very thin body. Kind of ridiculously thin but unfortunately the base Storm King is like that. Some light bourbon and vanilla started things off, a little earthy hoppiness, and then some bitterness in the finish. Storm King is very hoppy so the hoppiness is actually toned down quite a bit which was nice.

Not too bad, but I didn't think it was that good either. Basically about average. I've had samples of this before during bottle shares and thought it was below average so at least it was better than I expected. I'll admit I like my bourbon stouts huge and chewy, though, so this already had a knock against it immediately starting off. This was Victory's first attempt at barrel aging so hopefully as they experiment more, they'll get better. I've heard the Barrel Aged Otto was decent so maybe it's just a matter of time. We'll see, I guess.

Monday, October 8, 2012

City Tap House Pumpkin Smash

Yesterday, City Tap House held an event called Pumpkin Smash. The main emphasis was obviously on pumpkin beers with the stars coming from Elysian, a brewery in Seattle. They sent over 7 different pumpkin beers, possibly the most of their pumpkin beers available at once outside of their own brewery and their own yearly pumpkin event. Pretty cool, ya know? Well, as long as you like pumpkin beers, I guess. I've only had one pumpkin this year, too, so it seemed like a good time to drink a few.

I started with a glass of the Elysian Night Owl. Not sure if it was from the pumpkin firkin or not unfortunately. And, yes, they turned an actual pumpkin into a firkin. It was pretty neat.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Arcadia Cereal Killer

This is part of what Arcadia calls their "Vintage Collection" but I'm not 100% sure why. I guess the case I bought was supposedly brewed in 2010 or something. Cereal Killer is a barleywine.
Smelled of caramel, raisins, and alcohol solvency. The latter isn't quite what you want to smell in a strong beer as it's not a great sign of things to come. And, I was right as it started with a sharp alcohol bite up front followed by some caramel and plum-like sweetness. The finish and aftertaste, though, contained even more alcohol unfortunately. Now, the flavor that wasn't the alcohol wasn't too bad at least, but if you easily notice alcohol in beers, probably best to avoid a full glass of this. I'll say it got a bit smoother near the end of the glass. Something to get a sample of to see if the pros outweigh the cons, but I wasn't too impressed by it.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Avery Uncle Jacob's Stout

A lot of Avery's barrel aged stuff isn't distributed at all, but lately they have been sending out a few of them. I guess their barrel program is growing large enough at this point to spread the love. Uncle Jacob's Stout is a monster of a bourbon stout coming in at 17% and was either the first or second offering to become available. Not sure if Rumpkin was first though it doesn't really matter.
Super thick pour, like motor oil. Really impressive and exactly how I like a stout. Smelled of chocolate, graham cracker, strong bourbon, vanilla, and a mostly complete lack of alcohol. Body followed with chocolate, caramel, plum, raisin, bourbon, and even more chocolate in the finish. Pretty complex obviously. There were some hints of the alcohol in the aftertaste but amazingly smooth for 17%. Like, ridiculously smooth. This maybe should be a weekend beer considering the strength, but who cares about that. Clearly not me. If you like bourbon stouts, this one is right up there.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Boulevard Bourbon Barrel Quad

I opened this last Friday as a nice change of pace. Been drinking a lot of stouts and ipas and such, so I figured this would be different. The style of Boulevard Bourbon Barrel Quad is pretty self-explanatory as it's a quad base blended with a portion aged on cherries in a few different types of bourbon barrels. Some people thought it was infected (which can happen with barrel aging) as a result of the cherries, but after trying it those people are crazy. The tartness is very clearly a result of the cherry.
Pleasant nose. Bourbon, vanilla, and a very recognizable cherry note. Medium body that almost felt thicker than it really seemed to be. Not sure why, maybe a good mouthfeel, but it was nice. On first sip, the cherry came first and then bourbon and vanilla appeared with a little caramel from the quad base. Remarkably easy drinking for 11+% abv. Drinking it along with dinner did made some alcohol bite appear at times but as soon as I stopped eating, it faded away again. Enjoyed this a lot with the tartness from the cherry blending really nicely with the bourbon and vanilla. The only surprising part was how little of the quad base seemed to come through for me but it still tasted great so who cares.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Left Hand Oktoberfest

Things are getting back to normal at Kite & Key after last weeks Savage Sixtel Sunday leftovers. At this point, the only thing left was the keg of Nugget Nectar. So, yesterday, I tried a Left Hand Oktoberfest.
Malty biscuit nose, nice. Body followed with a caramel maltiness, breadiness, and a fruity finish. Some hops appeared near the end making it crisper and kept the sweetness from coming on too strong. I'm not much of an expert in oktoberfest beers as I don't drink them very often, but this one seemed pretty decent. It's sweet, but never too sweet as the hops keep it clean. Worth a try.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Yards 4th Annual Smoke 'Em

Last Sunday, Yards held their 4th Annual Smoke 'Em if Yous Got 'Em event. This is a celebration of all things smoked with amateur bbq and quite a few smoked beers. In a change from last year, though, Yards included other styles of beer and reduced the number of smoked ones to around 8-10 from a little over 20. It seems that people thought they were getting smoked out in year 3 and told Yards so in their feedback. Honestly, while I love smoked beers and had no problem drinking a ton last year, it does make more sense to balance the bbq food with non-smoked beers as the similarities in both can make everything taste the same instead of making flavors stand out.

This year the weather was absolutely beautiful and the tents were all set up when I arrived a few minutes before opening.