Recently in United States Category

Sante Adairius Saison Bernice

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When I was in college, my friends and I were on the Campus Activities Team (I ran the movie program, natch) and we had this (in retrospect) utterly bizarre habit of designating office supplies with old-people names. Of particular note were tape dispensers named Phyllis and Gertrude. I don't think we had anything named Bernice, but we certainly should have. I'm... glad I was able to write about this, and I know you are too.

I'll let eponymous owner Adair Paterno describe this Brett dosed saison in more detail: "I think that Saison Bernice is the purest expression of what our house culture can do to a base saison, specifically, our house saison, Anais, without oak and/or a significant amount of aging time." Presumably they named it after someone important in their lives, but I'd like to think that somewhere at the SARA headquarters there's a tape dispenser with the name Bernice scrawled on the side in whiteout. Let's dig in:

Sante Adairius Saison Bernice

Sante Adairius Rustic Ales Saison Bernice - Pours a bright, luminous yellow color with a finger of white head. Smells wonderful, nice earthy funk component, especially as it warms up, with lots of vinous fruit, lemons, tangerines, nectarines, you know, fruit type stuff. We get real technical here at Kaedrin, get used to it. Taste hits those same elements, a little more in the way of earthy funk here, but it's all brightened up by those notes of juicy fruit, lemony tartness creeping in towards the finish. Mouthfeel is crisp, light, and utterly quaffable, very refreshing and croosh. Overall, this is a fabulous saison in the Logsdon Seizoen Bretta mold, maybe even a little more nimble; definitely funky, complex, juicy, and delicious. A

Beer Nerd Details: 6.5% ABV bottled (750 ml). Drank out of a flute glass on 5/6/16.

Drinking SARA beers is always a pleasure. Many thanks to the hibernating blogger Jay from BeerSamizdat for sending this one my way. Fortunately, there is another SARA beer in the pipeline, so look for a review in the near future...

Other Half Stacks On Stacks

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Ok Mark, be cool. This is totally a Soulja Boy reference. The artwork even has stacks of money flying everywhere. Don't start talking protocol stacks or data structures, LIFO, FIFO for your life. Oh. Wait, crap, I just did exactly what I wasn't supposed to, didn't I? I'm the worst. Quick, change the subject! Beer, we're supposed to be talking about beer!

So I was just talking about the recent-ish emergence of great brewing in NYC, and Other Half is certainly on that list, lining up NYCers for blocks on end to get a taste of their Northeast IPA flare. I had the good fortune to sample a few of their brews at ACBF last year, and a friend generously gifted me this can, a lovely little Northeast DIPA number made with Citra, Mosaic and El Dorado hops. I'll take it!

Other Half Stacks On Stacks

Other Half Stacks On Stacks - Pours a pale, slightly hazy golden yellow color with a finger of white head. Smells fabulous, huge citrus hop component with lots of tropical fruit, grapefruit, pine, and the like. Taste follows that nose up front, then diverges into more floral hop notes before hitting a nice bitter hop finish. No date on the can, but this is clearly pretty fresh. Moughfeel is medium bodied and well carbonated, still quaffable, hints of stickiness as it warms. Overall, yep, it's a hum-dinger of a DIPA, and I can see why this stuff is sought after. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 8.5% ABV canned (16 ounces). Drank out of a Charente glass on 5/6/16.

So yes, I need to get me some more Other Half, and you will most certainly be seeing more of them on this blog soon enough.

Old Perseverance

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So you're making a beer celebrating Winston Churchill, what do you do? Obviously start with an English style, in this case an Old Ale, something that is distinctly English. Should probably name it after something that embodies his spirit, and perseverance is unquestionably something Churchill had in abundance. I mean, any survey of famous quotes is bound to find a Churchill quip that is pertinent here. For example: "If you are going through hell, keep going." Yes, sir. Then, naturally, you need to amp up the alcohol. I mean, sure, the notion that Churchill was a functioning alcoholic is almost certainly exaggerated, but the man did certainly enjoy imbibing and liked to promote his seemingly "bottomless capacity." So high ABV it is! This sounds like a job for Adam Avery. Yes, another behemoth from Avery's Barrel-Aged Series that stretches beyond the 18% ABV mark. So, like, not an everyday drinker, but after a long weekend of not drinking much, this one was perfect. Will I persevere in finishing this beer? So it would appear:

Avery Old Perseverance

Avery Old Perseverance - Pours a clear amber brown color with half a finger of off white head. Smells of fruity malt, a little of that maple syrup, and hints of bourbon, vanilla, and oak. Taste is very rich, again with the almost fruity malt character, figs and the like, with some toffee notes and a little caramel pitching in (but not as much as you'd expect), and just enough boozy bourbon, oak, and vanilla. Mouthfeel is full bodied, rich, and chewy, plenty of well balanced carbonation, and lots of booze. Intense, such that it would be nice to share a single 12 ounce bottle... Overall, this is very good, rich, tasty, worth checking out, but it's not going to make you fall down and see God. It is an interesting spin on the style while still retaining its distinct attributes though, which is admirable. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 18.5% ABV bottled (12 ounce bottle). Drank out of a snifter on 5/1/16. Bottled: March 3, 2016. Production: 783 cases.

Never, never, never give up! And I won't, Winston. In fact, I will be seeking out some more in the way of Old Ales in the near future, I think. It will require some hoop jumping though, so wish me luck.

Grimm Bourbon Barrel Double Negative

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New York City has quietly begun to establish itself with some standout breweries. They've always had Brooklyn, and last time I was there, Captain Lawrence was the lone savior on generally tepid taplists, but now places like Other Half and Grimm Artisan Ales popping up, putting out cans of beer that have godforsaken beer dorks lining up for hours.

Or wait, where is Grimm from? This label sez it's brewed by Grimm at Beltway Brewing Co, Sterling, VA. Looks like we have another Gypsy on our hands you guys (oops, they call themselves a "Nomadic" brewer, a thousand pardons for not glomming onto the right hipster codeword), and yes, it looks like they're collaborating their arse off as well. Some interesting stuff coming, too. In particular, they brewed a batch of Mosaic hopped Braumeister Pils with Victory (this will hopefully show up around here soon, and I'm most excited to try it) and collaborated with Fantôme on a saison. My kind of Gypsy, is what I'm getting at here.

So what we have here is a nice little imperial stout aged in 11 year old bourbon barrels (original batch was aged in Elijah Craig 12 barrels, so mayhaps the new NAS barrels were used for this?) No big whoop.

Grimm Bourbon Barrel-Aged Double Negative

Grimm Bourbon Barrel Double Negative - Pours a very dark brown, almost black color with half a finger of light brown head. Smells of roasted malt, vanilla, caramel, and a little bourbon and oak. There's something I can't quite place here as well, not brown sugar, but maybe something along these lines. Taste starts very rich, some roasted malt character, and then that weird flavor I can't place, and maybe even some bitter hops in the finish. Mouthfeel is rich, full bodied, thinning out a bit towards the finish (not thin, but not as rich as the beginning). Overall, this is very good, but not top tier stuff. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 10.3% ABV bottled (22 ounce bomber). Drank out of a snifter on 4/22/16.

There's also a Maple Bourbon version of this beer which is, you know, sploosh, but I'm pretty on board with the whole Grimm program. I also recently got a taste of their Super Spruce Gose which was very impressive. At this point, I'm definitely seeking out more from these guys.

Midnight Sun Termination Dust

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These days, anytime I get a chance to snag a bottle of barrel aged Midnight Sun beer, I jump at the opportunity. This Belgian Style Barleywine aged in High West bourbon barrels was no exception. Looking into it a little more, it seems like this has a pretty interesting heritage. A little over ten years ago, Midnight Sun celebrated their 1000th batch of beer with, you guessed it, a Belgian Style Barleywine aged in bourbon barrels called simply "M" (I knew Roman numerals were good for something). These days, this concept isn't particularly noteworthy. Everyone does this sort of thing. Hell, even I've homebrewed a bourbon oaked barleywine (that I'm positive is drastically inferior to anything produced by Midnight Sun, I'm the worst). But back in 2005? It was apparently a revelation. Bottles of M are among the most prized beers in existence, going for thousands of dollars at auction. Why? Partly it's the rarity, but it is also supposed to be uniquely well suited to aging. Ratings are still sky high, even a decade after bottling.

Of course, I have not had M, nor does it seem likely that I ever will. However, as you might imagine, the requests to Midnight Sun to rebrew it are numerous. A couple years ago, current brewer Lee Ellis answered some questions about M and let a few interesting nuggets slip. To bring this digression into relevance, here's a few quotes:

Hmmm, I'll just say that if we did re-release it, we wouldn't call it M. It is impossible to re-create it exactly. While Gabe Fletcher was an amazing Brewer, he sure sucked at documentation.

...As for more M, I'll say that Termination Dust is probably the closest re-creation we have done to date. Fairly similar malt bill, and very similar yeast blend. But again, it's kind one of those "that time, that place" beer. I love making big, dark, barrel aged belgians, stouts, and barley wines. Our Alaskan clientele demands it. As we say, session beers start at 8% up here.

Well that's nice to hear! Naturally, this beer doesn't seem to be making the waves that M did, but perhaps in a few years, these bottles will emerge as a wale, bro. Or M was just that ephemeral, one of a kind brew that will never be replicated.

Hope springs eternal though, so let's take a closer look. Termination Dust is basically the first light snow that signals the end of summer, something that generally carries more weight in a land of extremes like Alaska than it does for us doofuses down here. Brewed with a blend of Belgian yeasts and aged in High West barrels, this clearly isn't an exact duplicate of M. For one, it's a little stronger, and for another, High West didn't exist back in 2005 (and presumably, higher quality barrels were much more widely available back then). Still, this is Midnight Sun we're talking about here, so let's dig in:

Midnight Sun Termination Dust

Midnight Sun Termination Dust - Pours a very dark brown color with half a finger of tan head that is relatively short lived. Smells of caramelized brown sugar, bourbon, oak, some fruity esters, faint hints of spice. Taste hits those brown sugar notes hard, toffee, caramel, maybe even some Belgian yeast spice, and that boozy bourbon, vanilla, and oak. Very sweet, and even moreso once it warms up, though the spicy phenols also come out more. Mouthfeel is full bodied and rich, moderate and smooth carbonation that fits well, a little boozy heat. Overall, certainly another winner from Midnight Sun, though I don't think it's better than Arctic Devil. Yet. I think this could age fabulously, so let's check back in a few years, shall we? Still, this ain't no slouch, so we'll go A-

Beer Nerd Details: 13% ABV bottled (22 ounce bomber). Drank out of a snifter on 4/15/16. Bottled: 9/16/15.

I shall have to track down another bottle of this stuff to age. In the meantime, I'm sure we'll be seeing more from these Alaskan ballers soon enough.

Ale Apothecary Sahalie

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There are lots of breweries that use highfalutin terms to describe themselves. Craft has long since devolved into meaninglessness and debate that I could not care less about. Independent is the new hotness, but that's distressingly prosaic and not really what I'm getting at. Artisanal? Bespoke? Hand made? Now that's what I'm talking about. While usually belying a nugget of truth, I think most of use see these as the marketing codewords and hipster signaling that they really are.

Ale Apothecary describes themselves as "A Vintage Batch Oak Barrel Brewery Buried in the Mountain Wild of Oregon. Producing the finest hand made beer using our own innovative brewing process, which melds the ancient art of brewing with traditions of wine & champagne production." Engage cynical hipster codeword scanners. 8%.... 19%... 42%...95%... Scan Complete. Results: Signaling present, more data needed. Alright, so yeah, maybe I'm feeling paranoid right now, but dropping $30 on a bottle of beer will do that to you. Then again, the process described on their website, in all its wonky glory, does seem to fit with their marketing fluff. Their beer appears to spend nearly all of its time in oak barrels (presumably only really excluding the boiling stages), from mashing in to fermentation to aging to dry hopping, it's all done in barrels. Each batch appears to be from a single barrel as well, meaning really tiny 50ish gallon bottle runs. Each barrel appears to be lovingly named (rather than just using boring old numbers) and presumably reused frequently in order to build up their yeast strains and bacterial beasties. Truly small scale stuff, with a price tag to match.

Sahalie is their flagship ale. It spends over a year in a barrel, followed by a one month dry hopping period in another barrel (they appear to only use Cascade hops at their brewery, which is something I've never heard of before - single hop brewery?) This particular bottle began life in August 2014 and was aged for over 1 year in a barrel named "Reno", after which it was dry hopped for a month in a barrel named "Bagby". Finally it was bottled, using an oddly designed cork and twine contraption to seal the bottle and allow it to condition for a few weeks. The result? Well, my paranoid ramblings appear misplaced, this is phenomenal:

Ale Apothecary Sahalie

Ale Apothecary Sahalie - Pours a hazy pale yellow with a couple fingers of fluffy white head that sticks around for a bit and even leaves some lacing. Smells fabulous, lots of vinous fruit, oak, musty funk. Taste follows the nose, fruity and spicy Brett, musty funk, finishing off with that big vinous fruit kick and maybe a hint of booze. Mouthfeel is highly carbonated and effervescent up front, but leveling off a bit in the finish, which has a note of pleasant booze, even if it hides the alcohol pretty well. Still, it's pretty intense, so it's not quite a pounding beer if you know what I mean. Overall, this is fantastic, complex, delicious.. A

Beer Nerd Details: 9.45% ABV bottled (750 ml corked and, um, twined?) Drank out of a flute on 4/8/16. Batch 135, August 2014, aged in barrel Reno for 1+ years, dry hopped in barrel Bagby for one month with Cascade hops. Label sez: Batch: Nov 20 2016, which I think means this comes from the future. My scanners seem particularly unsuited to parsing a lot of this stuff. I'm the worst.

Well that was nice. Who knows if I'll ever get to try more from Ale Apothecary, but I'd totally be willing to shell out the scheckels for more of this (or any of the other varieties they produce).

FiftyFifty Eclipse Grand Cru

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I've reviewed, like, a kajillion variants of FiftyFifty's venerable Eclipse series of barrel aged stouts, and at this point, it's like, what else is there to talk about? Last year I held a horizontal tasting of 6 variants and also tried the Four Roses variant side by side with the Bourbon, where do I go from there? There are plenty of variants that I haven't tried, for sure, but at some point these posts have to have diminishing returns, right? You hate these posts, right?

Well, too bad, because this is a situation where FiftyFifty's take on the normal approach actually feels groundbreaking or something. Whereas most Eclipse variants are aged in different expressions of bourbon barrels to highlight the individuality of the spirits, this one paradoxically does the innovative yet typical thing and combines all the different expressions into one amorphous blend. I mean, yeah, this is what every large barrel program does with their bourbon barrel aged beer, but for FiftyFifty, this is new and the result is phenomenal. They say that the Grand Cru is created "from the best barrels for blending", but I assumed that was just marketing fluff, which it probably is. Still, I loved this beer and would heartily seek this out again; maybe they really did pick the "best" barrels:

FiftyFifty Eclipse Grand Cru

FiftyFifty Imperial Eclipse Stout - Brewmaster's Grand Cru Blend (2015) - Pours a deep dark black color with half a finger of light brown head, just like all of them. Smells phenomenal, rich caramel, tons of vanilla, oak, brownie batter, hints of roast, maybe even something like coconut. Taste isn't quite as complex, but it's still got a lot going for it, with that rich caramel and vanilla perfectly balanced with just enough chocolate and roast. Mouthfeel is rich and full bodied, well balanced carbonation, a nice sipper. Overall, this is fabulous and worth seeking out. A

Beer Nerd Details: 11.9% ABV bottled (22 ounce waxed cap). Drank out of a snifter on 4/2/16. Vintage: 2015. Bottle Run No. GC/1.

No other Eclipse variant reviews incoming, though of course I also snagged an Elijah Craig variant recently because who doesn't like those? I could do without the price tag on these suckers though, and it looks like next year's lineup is very similar to the last few years... I'm hoping to checkout the Vanilla Eclipse at some point, which should be cool, though who knows if it'll warrant a post... Blogger problems, I know. Posting should be back on track at this point, so look for 2-3 posts a week from here on out...

Tired Hands Bottle Digest

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For a long time, I kept a running diary of quicky notes for every Tired Hands beer I drank, resulting in epic recaps of hundreds of beers. Given that they put out a few new beers every week, this was obviously not sustainable, especially once they opened the Fermentaria (their new production facility). However, I am a part of the Believer's Club, so I've kept up with the bottle releases pretty well (the cans, uh, not so much, since those releases are during the week and, you know, I have a job and all that). As a result, I've had some notes piling up for a while now, and I thought it was time to do a quick recap of the past half a year or so's worth of releases, starting with one of my favorite Tired Hands beers (and definitely the best thing to come out of the Fermentaria yet):

Freedom from the Known

Freedom From the Known - This beer was a revelation when it appeared on tap, like pure sour cherry juice mixed in with Tired Hands' house saison style, it was brilliant. After bottle conditioning for a few months, it loses some of that fresh fruit juice feel, but it's still phenomenally delicious. Pours a striking pinkish hued orange color with a finger of white head. Smells great, oak and vanilla, saison spice, and of course, those cherries, though perhaps not quite as powerful as when this was fresh. Taste starts off with that saison spice, gathers some richness from the oak and vanilla, finishing off with sour cherries. Again, though, the cherries aren't quite as intense as they were when this was fresh. When it was fresh, it felt a lot like straight up cherry juice with some saison mixed in. This actually feels more balanced though, and the cherries still come through very strong right now, actually moreso than most cherry beers. I suspect further aging will reduce their impact, but this is still great. Mouthfeel is well carbonated, medium bodied, a pleasant acidity towards the finish. Overall, this is different than it was when fresh, but it's no less delicious, and it's the best beer they've released out of the foudre so far. A

Beer Nerd Details: 7.2% ABV bottled (500 ml). Drank out of a flute on 10/24/15.

Sticky Drippy Crystals

Sticky Drippy Crystals - An oak fermented honey saison. Pours a bright golden yellow color, maybe hints of peach peeking through in the right light, with a half finger of slow-forming white head (nice looking carbonation when you swirl) that quickly resolves down into a cap that then sticks around for a bit. Smells very nice, vinous fruit, oak, yep there's that honey, definitely some Tired Hands house saison character, spicy with some funky earth. Taste starts off very sweet, lots of vinous fruit and honey, just a bit of that spicy saison yeast, with a tart, lemony finish. Mouthfeel falls down a bit in the carbonation arena; there's enough that it's still quite good and drinkable, but perhaps with some age, the carbonation will perk up a bit. I am, as always, overly sensitive to this sort of thing, so make of this what you will. Otherwise, it's quite bright and medium bodied, a little too sticky (though again, that's probably a carbonation thing). Overall, this is a pretty solid saison, reminds me of hanging out at the brew cafe (though I guess why wouldn't it?), and it's quite tasty. I'm thinking this could be fantastic with some age on it. For right now, B+

Beer Nerd Details: ? ABV bottled (500 ml). Drank out of a wine glass on 11/7/15.

Pourison

Pourison - So Tired Hands takes their standard SaisonHands, bottle conditions it in green bottles and calls it Ourison (see below). This beer is SaisonHands conditioned atop Peaches and then bottled in their more standard 500 ml brown bottles. Pours a hazy but radiant straw yellow color with a finger of white head. Smell has that Tired Hands foudre character, oak and funk, some stone fruit too. Taste has a light funk and fruit feel to it, breezy and tart, vinous fruit pitching in here too, finishing off with those peaches. Mouthfeel is light bodied, crisp, mild but pleasant acidity, quaffable. Overall, this is a nice little number, perhaps not quite Emptiness levels awesome, but still worth the stretch. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 4.8% ABV bottled (500 ml). Drank out of a flute on 11/29/15.

Corallet

Corallet - Pretty standard foudred saison setup here, with some rye and wheat. Pours a pale straw yellow color with a finger of white head. Smells funky, a little saison spice and earth. Taste has some tart fruit going on here, maybe sour cherry, but very light, hints of funky earth and maybe a bit of oak. Mouthfeel is crisp and light bodied, very slight acidity, quaffable. Overall, a solid little foudred saison, but not much to separate it from the pack. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 5.3% ABV bottled (500 ml). Drank out of a flute on 12/25/15.

Ourison

Ourison - Basically bottle conditioned SaisonHands. Pours a hazy yellow color with a finger of white head and a little lacing. Smell has a strange, almost skunky aroma going on along with the more typical saison spice and tart fruit. The skunkiness fades a bit as I drink, but it was there. Not sure if this was intentional or not (it's bottled in green glass), but I'll have to check out another batch or something as most reviews don't seem to mention this. Taste is sweet with a little yeasty spice, and a nice, light tartness (no skunky character here). Mouthfeel is medium to low carbonation, very light, quaffable, and dry. Overall, not sure about that skunky note, but otherwise this is good. B- or B?

Beer Nerd Details: 4.8% ABV bottled (750 ml). Drank out of a teku on 1/1/16.

Oat Potion

Oat Potion - Saison brewed with oats and NY wildflower honey, a collaboration with NY's Other Half. Pours a cloudy straw yellow color with finger of white head that leaves a bit of lacing. Smells of vinous fruit, white wine, oak, and funk. Taste starts off sweet, hits those vinous fruit notes hard, then oak, followed by some earthy funk and finishing with a tart note. Mouthfeel is crisp, light, well carbonated, very light acidity. Overall, this is actually the best bottled Tired Hands beer in a while. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 6.3% ABV bottled (500 ml). Drank out of a flute on 1/24/16.

Parageusia47

Parageusia47 - Typical trippy backstory for the Para series, but this is basically a Mosaic dry hopped saison/IPA hybrid aged in Vin Santo barrels with Para microflora. Pours a cloudy yellow color with tons of fluffy, bubbly head, good retention, and even a little lacing. Smells great, citrusy American hops are all over the nose, along with vinous fruit, sweet candi sugar, maybe hints of funk and oak. Taste feels oddly muted, but all the components are there. Sweet, fruity, with those citrus hops hitting pretty hard, but not as much in the way of oak as expected, a light tartness in the finish. Mouthfeel is light bodied, crisp, and dry, yet it retains a sizable acidity. Overall, I can never really seem to get on board the hoppy sour train, but this works ok enough. It just doesn't really stand up to the other Parageusia beers. B+

Beer Nerd Details: [unintelligible symbol from the future] ABV bottled (500 ml). Drank out of a flute on 1/24/16.

Phew, that just about covers it. I'm sure many good things to come from Tired Hands, so stay tuned. Also, if you're going to the Fermentaria Anniversary, give me a shout...

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Hi, my name is Mark, and I like beer.

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This page is an archive of recent entries in the United States category.

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