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Logsdon Far West Vlaming

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Everyone loses their mind when a brewery sells out, but the business of brewing is one of those topics I just can't seem to get too worked up about. That being said, I can get on board with the anxiety of a sell out if it's one of your favorite breweries. There's a natural worry that your favorite beer will be reformulated or go away completely because the new regime is unenlightened or something. So when I heard news of David Logsdon's sell out of Logsdon Farmhouse Ales along with a simultaneous announcement that Brett Porter was leaving (one of the best brewer names ever, right up their with Wayne Wambles) I was a little worried. Seizoen Bretta is one of my favorite beers and a go-to way to blow less-beer-focused minds, Oak Aged Bretta is spectacular, and Peche 'n Brett is delicious. I don't want to lose these brews!

Fortunately, there are a few bright spots in this whole transaction. Firstly, this wasn't a sellout to a giant multi-national conglomerate, but to another relatively small beer-focused local business. Second, Logsdon will still be involved: "I am not stepping away from Logsdon Farmhouse Ales. I am stepping away from the day to day operations of running this farmhouse brewery. I will still be overseeing the brewing and recipe development and quality control with no plans to remove myself from that." Finally, this might even involve more availability, which would be a great thing for this beer. So it appears all my old favorites aren't going away and will still be under the watchful eye of David Logsdon. That's a relief! To celebrate, lets crack one of their specialties...

Far West Vlaming is a reference to the West-Flanders style of beer historically brewed by the Flemish people (a Germanic ethnic group who speak dutch, and to bring it all together, Flemish translates to Vlaming in Dutch). I'm not an expert on brewing this style, but there are some distinct practices here. It's a mixed fermentation, meaning standard saccharomyces yeast in primary, followed by a wild secondary fermentation (Brett and souring bacterias) and a long stint in oak. The resulting juice is then blended with young beer to balance out the sourness. Logsdon's take differs from most Flanders Reds that I've had in two ways: 1. It's highly carbonated and effervescent (the style is usually lower to medium) and 2. It's mostly a lactic sourness as opposed to an acetic sourness (i.e. no real vinegar type flavors here). Of course, there's nothing wrong with either of those things, and the resulting beer is delicious, but it doesn't really feel anything like other Flanders Reds that I've had... Let's take a closer look:

Logsdon Far West Vlaming

Logsdon Far West Vlaming - Pours a very pretty, deep orange amber color with a finger or two of fluffy white head that actually sticks around for a change. Smell has that characteristic Logsdon funk, musty with a little earth and lots of fruity esters. Hints of oak and vanilla as it warms. Taste starts off sweet, hits some vinous fruit notes, a little lactic tartness but not super sour, circling back to earthy funk in the finish. Again, as it warms, maybe a little oak comes out, but it's not a big influence. Mouthfeel is highly carbonated and effervescent, medium bodied, only a hint of acidity kicking around. Overall, this ain't no Flanders anything, but it's pretty darned good in its own right and maybe you could just think of it as a different take on a classic style. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 6.5% ABV bottled (750 ml waxed). Drank out of a flute glass on 10/16/15.

I usually try to have some Logsdon bottles around the house in case I get an opportunity to share, and it usually goes over like gangbusters. Well worth seeking out.

Four Seasons Of Mother Earth - Autumn

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According to my record-keeping gnomes, I have reviewed beers from 318 breweries (check them out over there on the right of the page), which sounds like a lot and also like I should seek professional, medical help, but given that the good ol' USA has surpassed 4000 craft breweries (not to mention non-craft and imports), I've barely scratched the surface. To the procurement department! These folks are always busy here at Kaedrin, such that we often collect too much beer, but they also keep their eye out for breweries that are new to me and that are putting out interesting stuff.

Enter Mother Earth Brew Co., a San Diego area brewery that friends have nice things to say about, but which I know almost nothing about. Everyone seems charmed by their IPAs, but we thought we'd check out their barrel program, because we're like that. Four Seasons of Mother Earth is a quarterly release roughly aligned with the various equinoxes and solstices, and every release is different. Last year's Autumn release was a BA stout, this year it's a Bourbon Barrel Aged Quadrupel. There's some florid description about "Johnny Law" on the back of the bottle, but barrel aged quad? Procurement department done good:

Four Seasons Of Mother Earth - Autumn 2015: Johnny Law

Mother Earth Four Seasons Of Mother Earth - Autumn: Johnny Law - Pours a murky amber brown color with a cap of head that is short for this world. Smells utterly fantastic, boozy bourbon and oak, rich caramel, toffee, dark fruit, vanilla. Taste feels a bit muted compared to the nose, but the flavor profile is similar. Caramel and toffee, but not nearly as rich or sweet as you'd expect from the nose. Not as much dark fruit either, but it's there. Bourbon, oak, and vanilla, but surprisingly balanced, maybe more booze emerges as it warms up. Mouthfeel is medium bodied and surprisingly dry, only a hint of stickiness in the finish along with a little boozy heat. Overall, quite an interesting brew, I usually think of dry belgian ales as not working so well with bourbon barrels, but this one bucks the trend, even if it's not necessarily top tier. A high B+

Beer Nerd Details: 12% ABV bottled (22 ounce bomber). Drank out of a tulip glass on 10/9/15. Vintage: Autumn 2015.

Certainly a good first impression, and clearly I need to try out more of their stuff. Also of note, a NC based brewery of basically the same name. I smell epic legal showdown in the future.

Half Acre Pony Pilsner

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I have been surprisingly consistent in my newfound but still mild acceptance (an upgrade from moderate disdain) of lagers this summer, averaging about two or three new lagers a month. I still can't say as though I've got the thrills for the pils (not really a pilsner man, Teddy), but I've gained a modicum of respect for the style and will probably continue to explore as time and liver capacity permits. To be honest, I'm still at the, "yep it's a pilsner" stage, which is pretty sad considering how long I've been at this, but I am getting better, I swears.

This German style pilsner is one of Half Acre's staple beers. Would have been nice if this was packaged in those adorable little pony bottles, it is available in handsomely designed pounder cans. Despite the cute little pony in the artwork, I prefer to believe this beer was named after the venerable Hyundai Pony, the South Korean answer to the AMC Gremlin and Ford Pinto (um, legends in their own right). Maybe it was one of the owners/brewers first cars or something. Of course, I have absolutely no evidence for this whatsoever, but this is the internet so it must be true. I... should probably stop now before the libel lawsuits start rolling in. Let's take a ride on this pony:

Half Acre Pony Pilsner

Half Acre Pony Pilsner - Pours a very pale straw yellow color with a couple fingers of fluffy white head and decent retention. Smells biscuity, some of those earthy hops doing their thing, maybe some faint hints of citrus. Taste has that bready quality to it, biscuits and crackers, some earthy, spicy hops kick in towards the middle and proceed through the finish, those faint citrus hints emerge a little more in the taste too. Mouthfeel is light, crisp, and clean, goes down quick and hits that lawnmower beer spot. Overall, a very light (but quenching) take on the style, but enjoyable. B

Beer Nerd Details: 5.8% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a willibecher glass on 10/9/15.

Decent stuff, as per usual from Half Acre. I'm sure we'll see more of them on the blog in the near future, so keep your eyes peeled. Or not, I'm not your mother.

Half Acre Gone Away

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While Half Acre Beer Co is located in Chicago, IL, the eponymous half an acre is actually located near Philadelphia. As a result, we've always been lucky to receive the occasional shipment of Half Acre beer. This despite Half Acre's seeming difficulty keeping up with demand in Chicagoland. I'm guessing the supply/demand ratio has changed a little as of late, as I've been seeing more and more Half Acre around here, and it is surely a welcome sight to many. Plus, while previous shipments have been mostly their flagship Pale Ale, Daisy Cutter, this time around, we're seeing more variety. Bonus!

They refer to this as their "cold weather IPA", whatever that means. It's apparently had quite the journey in being named, as another brewery brought legal action concerning their initial name "Senita", despite the other beer having "different words, with different spellings, meanings and visual identities". The joys of trademark law. So this got a new name, Gone Away IPA, and fancy new can whose artwork evokes old Nintendo-era games for some reason (this may just be me being a moron though). Anywho, let's go away with this beer:

Half Acre Gone Away

Half Acre Gone Away - Pours a hazy golden yellow color with a finger or two of dense head that has great retention and leaves lacing as I drink. Smells fantastic, bright citrus, some floral notes, and a helping of pine. Taste has a nice sweetness to it, citrus and pine hops kick in, and the bitterness emerges towards the finish. Mouthfeel is well carbonated, crisp, light bodied, dry but velvety smooth, almost creamy. Overall, a rock solid if standard American Ale IPA. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 7% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a tulip glass on 10/3/15.

This is nice, but that one off I had a while back, Beer Hates Astronauts, was considerably better. Alas, I don't think they've made that one again... In the meantime, I've got a few other staple Half Acre beers to work through, so stay tuned.

Avery Insula Multos Collibus

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During this, my most favoritest of seasons, I like to tie one on whilst watching horror movies. I try to select appropriate beers to match what I'm watching (for instance, last week's Pumpkin beer jamboree was paired with a trio of cheesy Larry Cohen films, making for a nice sorta gimmicky match), but this week was a Frank Henenlotter marathon and, well, there's no matching beers with that (and if there were, I don't think anyone would want to drink such things). So I just snagged this Avery beer with the Latin name, thinking perhaps I might inadvertently summon a demon or something.

Alas, that was not in the cards, but what I got was pretty good nonetheless! Insula Multos Collibus is Latin for "Island of many hills", but if you translate to Dutch, it basically means "Manhattan". It turns out that this is something of an ode to the cocktail. Aged in bourbon barrels with cherries and Avery's house souring cultures, which I guess gets you close enough to a Manhattan without getting too kooky (though wouldn't you use Rye barrels for this? Eh, better not overthink it.) So get your grimoire out and turn to the evocation passages, it's time to summon a cocktail in beer form:

Avery Insula Multos Collibus

Avery Insula Multos Collibus - Pours a murky amber color with a finger or two of short lived, tan head. Smells of a sorta bourbon cherry pie, rich and sweet, oaky, fruity. I'm no Manhattan expert, but I guess this is close enough while still hewing to (sour) beer. Taste starts off on the sweet side, fruity, boozy, but then it sorta dries out and a bracing fruit sourness kicks in towards the finish. Not as pie-like as the nose would have you believe, but admirable nonetheless. Mouthfeel is well carbonated, rich up front but it dries out by the finish, a little heat from the booze, and a bracing acidity. Overall, this is quite an interesting beer, better than your typical one note American Wild Ale, perhaps a bit too strong, but given the goal to emulate a pretty strong cocktail, we'll let it slide. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 9.7% ABV bottled (12 ounce). Drank out of a tulip glass on 10/2/15. Bottled: APR 16 2015. Production: 1308 Cases. No 27 in Avery's Barrel Aged Series.

This was certainly an interesting one, really quite happy I grabbed a bottle when I could. No more Avery reviews in the pipeline, though I did have a Rumpkin (which clocks in at 18% ABV this year, so lookout!) and might snag a Pump[KY]n if it shows up again... And any of these Barrel-Aged series beers generally interest me, so it probably won't be too long until we see another on here.

Almanac Pumpkin Sour

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Every year, Almanac attempts to put their spin on the Pumpkin beer. This is my first, but they've done an Heirloom Pumpkin Barleywine and a Dark Pumpkin Sour, which both sound interesting, but they change it up every year. Perhaps someday, they'll land on the perfect iteration, but for now, I'm enjoying their attempts. This is a spiced brown ale blend of beer aged in wine and Woodford Reserve bourbon barrels with hand-roasted California heirloom pumpkins and their house souring bugs. Not too shabby:

Almanac Pumpkin Sour

Almanac Pumpkin Sour - Pours a dark brown, almost black color with just a cap of fizzy, tan head that is not long for this world. Smells a little like a sour stout, some dark malts, some spices, and a slight sour twang. Taste starts off very sweet, some dark malts and spice, just a little in the way of oak, maybe a hint of bourbon, vinous fruit, and a nice puckering sourness towards the finish. Mouthfeel is a little light on the carbonation, but there's plenty to keep it going, medium bodied, moderate acidity, hints of booze. Overall, this is an interesting beer, quite complex, though I'm not sure how much the pumpkin character sines through. The spices are there, but I'm not sure I'd identify this as pumpkin spice alone. Of course, this has no real bearing on anything, as the beer is pretty darn good. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 8.5% ABV bottled (375 ml). Drank out of a flute glass on 9/26/15. Bottled: 072315.

As always, an interesting beer from Almanac, if not quite their best. I look forward to their next iteration on Pumpkin though. I'm sure I'll managed another Farm to Barrel beer in the near future though, so stay tuned.

September Beer Club

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Tonight was beer club! For the uninitiated, beer club is a monthly gathering of like-minded coworkers and acquaintances at a local BYOB for drinks, food, and general revelry. This time, we stopped in at a local Pizza place for some deep fried dough, strombolis, and yes, pizza. It's not a big place and the pizza isn't as spectacular as the last beer club gathering, but we always manage to make due. Good attendance tonight too, and plenty of beer.

September Beer Club Selections
(Click to embiggen)

For the sake of posterity, some half-addled thoughts on each beer are listed below. Standard disclaimers apply, this was a social gathering, so I wasn't paying too close of attention to what I was drinking and you should totes ignore what I'm writing and make up your own mind because I'm totally the worst and this post is definitely an ill-advised idea that I'm only doing out of tradition because I've done it for all previous iterations of beer club and are you even reading this? Why? The beer notes are below, in order of tasting, not necessarily in the order pictured (and some later attendees brought some stuff that is not pictured):

  • Platform Speed Merchant White IPA - Not expecting much out of this Ohio beer brought back by a visitor, fantastic citrusy nose, more typical IPA-like taste. Quite solid though, and worth a look on its own. B+
  • Pizza Boy Hop Test #1 (Cascade Single Hop) - Yep, it's a pale ale. The very definition of cromulence, this does nothing particularly special, but it's an enjoyable little pale ale. B
  • New Belgium Pumpkick - Whoa there, this is quite perfumey, moar ginger than anything else, but that perfumey character really overpowers everything else with this beer. Not horrendous, but not a particularly good pumpkin beer either. C+
  • Firestone Walker Union Jack - Back in the early days of this blog, this would have been an A worthy beer, but grade inflation is a bitch. It's still an accomplished and emminently accomplished IPA, well worth checking out. Delicious citrus/pine/malt balance. B+
  • Weyerbacher Tarte Nouveau - Very nice little tart beer, tart, crisp, refreshing, very light bodied and easy going, sorta beginner sour stuff but quite nice on its own. B+
  • Overshores Tripel Brun - Bottle a bit of a gusher, and thus carbonation levels a bit off, but this is basically a very raisiny Belgian strong dark. B
  • Brasserie De Blaugies / Hill Farmstead La Vermontoise - I know I've had this before, but apparently I never reviewed it. It's not quite up to speed with the best of Hill Farmstead, but it's a rock solid saison, earthy and spicy, quite delicious. B+
  • Fantôme Coffee Ruby - One of my contributions, this came off as surprisingly muted. There's some coffee character that is definitely present, but it's not overpowering at all, despite the fact that there doesn't seem to be a ton of other stuff going on with this beer. It's got a very, very mild funk to it, and the combination of the base with coffee doesn't entirely blesh, but it's certainly an interesting beer. A little weird, but could more interesting with more funk. Keeping in mind my legendary indifference to coffee, I'll give it a B
  • Cascade Figaro - This is typical Cascade sour here, which is to say, it's a fantastic little sour. I don't get a lot of fig or lemon peel out of it, but it's got that trademark Cascade lactic sour and oak character that just work so damn well. Generally agreed to be one of the best of the night. A-
  • White Birch Indulgence Ale (2014) - Not sure which version of this beer I tried (I think it's this retired 2014 version), but it was labeled as a Belgian Imperial Stout, and it definitely had a sorta brighter take on the imperial stout style that worked really well. Lots of rich malt, light roast, some hints of Belgian character, but with the style's inherent dark malt sweetness (i.e. not a dry or highly carbonated beer). Actually quite nice and among the better of the night. B+
  • Brewmaster Jack Barrel Aged Prinsipia Quad - Sounds great, but came out kinda limp, very boozy, a little raisiny Belgian character, but not at all balanced. Not terrible, but not quite getting the job done either. B-

And that just about covers it. We just got this one in under the wire, last day of the month. Will need to try and plan the next beer club soon. Great time, as always.

Midnight Sun TREAT

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Welcome to autumn, fuckheads! I'm not going to say that I'm a huge pumpkin beer fan, but I don't really get the disdain for them either. Of course there's no accounting for taste, and some people genuinely don't like it, which is fine. My answer to that is the same as my answer to pumpkin beers showing up on shelves in August: if you don't like it, don't buy it. It's pretty simple, really, and I find it hard to get worked up about pumpkin beers either way. Every year, I attempt to go out and try something new. What has aided this in recent years has been a diversification of base styles. It used to be that the grand majority of pumpkin beers were a simple amber base with lots of spices and pumpkin added in. Nothing wrong with that, and there are some great examples out there. But nowadays, we've got stouts, weizenbocks, barrel-aged wonders, heck, Tired Hands even made a sorta pumpkin spiced Seasonal IPA (It was decent!)

What we have here is our Alaskan friends' entry into the fray, a chocolate pumpkin porter brewed with pumpkin, cocoa nibs, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. Seems like a pretty hearty take on the pumpkin beer, so let's dive in:

Midnight Sun TREAT

Midnight Sun TREAT - Pours a deep, dark brown color with half a finger of off white head. Smell sweet with lots of those pumpkin spices, cinnamon standing out more than anything else, but if you really look for it, you can get some chocolate too. Taste starts off sweet, but drops off a bit as the spices take over, notes of chocolate in the finish. Mouthfeel is well carbonated, medium bodied, thinner than expected actually, well attenuated but not quite dry. Overall, a solid pumpkin porter, if a bit one-note and I have to admit, I thought I'd enjoy this a little more than I did. B

Beer Nerd Details: 7.8% ABV bottled (22 ounce bomber). Drank out of a snifter glass on 9/26/15.

As always, I have to wonder if the oak aged version would tweak my fancy a little more. We may yet find the answer to that conundrum, though no current plans. Up next in this decorative gourd season jamboree will be a pumpkin sour beer? You betcha.

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

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