Oktober Beer Club

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Tonight was Beer Club, a gathering of beer minded friends from work who get together every month at a local BYOB for libations and fun. This month, someone decided to bring beers she thought would be disgusting. And they were! We should probably discourage this practice, but on the other hand, sometimes you just need to bite the bullet and try some Cave Creek Chili Beer or, in this case, some of Rogue's recent offerings.

Oktober Beer Club

Half-blinkered thoughts on each beer are recorded below for posterity, though standard tasting disclaimers apply and I'm a moron so take it all with a grain of salt. In order of drinking (not necessarily the order in the pictar):

  • Tired Hands Jason - One of my contributions, and a great way to start the night. I'll probably talk more about this at some other time, but for now it's a very nice, juicy IPA, great hop character and that citrus fruit really comes through. Reminiscent of last year's "Vampire" beer. A-
  • Rogue Beard Beer - This beer's gimmick is that it's made using yeast that was found in their head brewer's beard. Sounds appetizing, no? Well, no, but the beer itself was nowhere near as bad as I was expecting. It felt sorta like a bland Belgian pale ale, with some light spicy yeast notes and some sweetness. So not the worst thing ever, but perhaps I set the bar too low on this one. B-
  • Jerry's Homebrew "SB" - Mystery homebrew from one member who got it from a friend of a friend, or something. Don't know what "SB" stands for, but that's all it was labeled with. But it turned out to be a pretty good beer in the style of a brown ale or soemthing like that. Not something to go crazy over, but a good homebrew. B
  • Rogue Voodoo Doughnut Chocolate, Peanut Butter & Banana Ale - I actually had no real problem with the first Voodoo Doughnut beer, but then again, it's a smoked beer and no one likes those. I don't know why they thought it was a good idea to continue this collaboration with Voodoo Doughnuts, but I guess they're actually selling this stuff. This was a pretty terrible beer. I get hints of that chocolate and peanut butter, but they feel... wrong, like they were buried in Pet Semetary or something. This is an unbalanced, sloppy mess. Not entirely undrinkable, but in no way good. D
  • Terrapin Dos Cocoas Chocolate Porter - Now this one gets the chocolate thing right, and the base porter matches really well with it. Not my favorite style ever or anything, but it works well enough. B+
  • Trappist Westvleteren 12 - Yep, it's still amazing. Certainly opened some eyes with other folks too.
  • Perennial Vermilion Winter Ale - Excellent English style barleywine, lots of caramel, toffee, and almost fruity malt notes, really nice. A little heavy, but that's what you want out of this sort of thing. The sort of beer that makes me want to put on a smoking jacket, sit by a fire next to my bearskin rug on a cold night, making haughty rich person noises. Another eye opener for some folks. Me, I really liked this sucker, and may snag another bottle if it's around (it looks like it was a 2012 one-off, but I've definitely seen it around). A-
And that just about covers it. You may have noticed that it's only been a little over 2 weeks since the last beer club, but we had to reset to the beginning of the month, due to the November and December holidays. So stay tuned, moar to come.

If you know what I'm talking about, I love you.

Allright, fine, I'll explain. All the Boys Love Mandy Lane is a horror movie that was made in 2006, but it wasn't released until recently. Yes, a seven year wait, and part of a larger theme of movies I watched this past weekend. They were all things made a long time ago, but forwhatever reason, shelved for years before finally seeing the light of day. As such, I made a trip down to my cellar to liberate a bottle that's been down there too long.

We're big fans of FiftyFifty's Eclipse series of stouts, each with the same base imperial stout recipe aged in a different expression of bourbon (or rye) barrel. I was a huge fan of the Rittenhouse Rye variant, and the Elijah Craig 12 version was pretty great too. What's interesting about those two beers was how different they came out, the EC12 retaining a nice big roasty stout note with EC's spicy notes complementing that well, while the Rye variant was much smoother and while whisky forward, it had a bigger caramel and vanilla profile.

What we have here is the Evan Williams variant, I believe the Single Barrel Vintage expression (which is a go-to when I'm not in the mood for beer or Scotch). EWSBV is aged for at least 9-10 years in barrels, and Eclipse resides in those spent barrels for another 6 months or so, so I'm guessing this was the 2001 vintage (I haven't had them, but supposedly those late 90s vintages were a bit off due to a change in distilleries). EWSBV isn't as rare or prized as, say, Pappy or any of the 20+ year bourbons, but it's one of the most reliable values out there, so I was excited to try this out. Erm, apologies for the craptacular picture.

FiftyFifty Imperial Eclipse Stout - Evan Williams

FiftyFifty Imperial Eclipse Stout - Evan Williams - Pours a black color with half a finger or light brown head. Smells of bourbon and vanilla, with just a bit of that stout base roast and caramel. Taste is sweet with a big bourbon and vanilla kick, less in the way of caramel and oak, though both are present... Just a hint of dark chocolate and roast make an appearance as well. Again, well balanced here, and it's smack dab in the middle of the EC12 and RR variants I've had. Mouthfeel is full bodied and very rich, well carbonated with just a hint of slick booze. Overall, this is great. I might prefer the Rittenhouse Rye variant to this, but it's still very worthy. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 9.5% ABV bottled (22 oz waxed bomber). Drank out of a snifter on 10/4/13. Bottle No. BR 1. 2012 Vintage.

So I have one more variant, the Old Fitz, in the cellar, and I promise that I will drink that bottle before the December release of this year's vintage (zomg Pappy). Anywho, one of my next two homebrew batches will be an imperial stout, partially aged on oak cubes soaked in... well, probably EWSBV (the current 2003 vintage). Exciting times.

Tired Hands FatherBeast

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This is the, er, I guess we'll call it the spouse of Tired Hands MotherAnimal (a barleywine conditioned on coffee and vanilla). Near as I can tell, FatherBeast is the same beer, sans the coffee... oh, and it was aged in Dad's Hat Rye barrels. Beast Mode: Engaged. Not being a big coffee person, I expect this to be more my speed, and what do you know, I loved it:

Tired Hands FatherBeast

Tired Hands FatherBeast - Pours a slightly cloudy dark brown color with beautiful robey tones and just a minimal cap of head that quickly resolves to a ring around the edge of the glass. Smells deeply of crystal malt, caramel and dark fruits, with some vanilla and oak pitching in as well. As it warms, more whiskey comes out to play too. Taste is very sweet, filled with a fruity crystal malt character, with the whiskey and vanilla sweetness kicking in towards the middle, then leaning back to the intense fruity malt towards the finish. Mouthfeel has a relatively low carbonation which leads to a very smooth and approachable feel, medium to full bodied, not much to indicate the ABV. It's pretty easy going for a sipper. Overall, this is some great stuff. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 11.5% ABV bottled (375 ml capped and waxed). Drank out of the FatherBeast snifter on 9/27/13. "Roughly" 150 bottle release.

Worth waiting in line for, and check out that fancy snifter. Bitchin. As per usual, expect moar posts on Tired Hands in the near future, because I'm a jerk and like to post about beers that will never see the light of day again. You're welcome.

Spring House Braaaiins!

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As expressed recently, I love this time of year. Horror movies, candy, and beer, what else do you need? From a seasonal beer standpoint, you've got the old standby of Oktoberfest beers that have a big following, and I certainly give one or two a shot every year (I certainly quaffed that Oktoberfest Revolution a couple weeks ago), but they've never really blown me away and made me look forward to the season. As the Beer Rover notes, the most exciting fall beers are the "fresh hop" ales... but he lives in San Diego, which has a better proximity to fresh hops than us East Coasters. We certainly get our fair share of them (I really enjoyed Tröegs' take from last year), but nothing like the glorious insanity that overtakes the west coast.

But the most popular seasonal tipple appears to be pumpkin beers, though plenty of folks just don't care for them. There's also this constant whinging about pumpkin beers showing up on shelves earlier and earlier every year, which is a bit odd to be sure, but no one's forcing you to buy this stuff in July either. The Beer Rover himself calls it a novelty and sez he's "good for one about every three to five years." It's a fair point, but he also mentions that "better beer bars" in his area don't seem to stock pumpkin beers. That doesn't really hold up around here though. The first place I checked, Teresa's, has Pumking on their menu right next to Pliny the Elder, and other decent beer bars out here in the burbs have similar lineups. Not that any of this means anything, no one sez you have to like every style and is it really worth spending this much time on it? As someone who just wrote this post, I'll say no (I'm wasting time so you don't have to).

So while I can certainly understand the lack of enthusiasm from some corners of beer nerdery for this style, I'm personally always down for trying a few during this season. After all, It's Decorative Gourd Season, Motherfuckers, and why not chuck those gourds into some beer and spice the crap out of it. What we have here is semi-local brewery Spring House's zombie-themed offering, a decidedly cinnamon-forward take on the style that's been popping up in the area regularly for the past month or so.

Spring House Braaaiins!

Spring House Braaaiins! Pumpkin Ale for Zombies - Pours a clear golden orange color with a finger of dense white head and decent retention. Smells strongly of cinnamon with a sweet, bready note, like pie crust. Maybe some maple and pumpkin in the nose as well. It's a great aroma, but the taste doesn't quite follow through. That cinnamon is still in full force throughout the taste, but that bready note from the nose never quite materializes, and neither does the maple or pumpkin. Mouthfeel is well carbonated, spicy, medium bodied. Overall, well, I hope you like cinnamon, because this thing is filled with it. I happen to like that particular spice, but it could have used perhaps a few other tweaks for complexity, as this comes off as a sorta one note beer, though I enjoyed that note well enough. B

Beer Nerd Details: 7.2% ABV bottled (22 oz. bomber). Drank out of a tulip glass on 9/28/13.

I've got another Spring House seasonal, Big Gruesome Chocolate Peanut Butter Stout, that actually has pretty good word of mouth, and I've got at least one or two more pumpkin beers in the hopper too. Stay tuned!

Pipeworks Ninja Vs. Unicorn

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Pipeworks sez that this beer "celebrates the epic battle between two of the biggest hop-heads of lore." I think we all know how this matchup turns out: the Ninja clearly defeated the Unicorn so badly that no one even believes the latter ever existed. Not content with the easy answer, I developed a thorough computer simulation, Deadliest Warrior-style*, to pit these two foes together in battle. I won't bore you with the details, but I assure you that this simulation is comprehensive. Unfortunately, due to budgetary constraints, I could not afford to stage and film a reenactment. After 1000 runs in the simulator, it was close, but the Ninja again won out, thus confirming intuition. That'll learn me.

Pipeworks Ninja vs. Unicorn

Pipeworks Ninja Vs. Unicorn - Pours a golden brown color with several fingers of fluffy off white head and great retention/lacing. Smells great, sweet citrus and dank pine hop character, some floral notes playing around the edges. Taste starts off sweet, with those dank, piney, resinous hops really asserting themselves quickly, with those citrus and floral notes playing background role, eventually intensifying to a bitter finish. Mouthfeel is highly carbonated, on the upper end of medium bodied, maybe the faintest hint of booze. Overall, I'd easily put this on par with Simcoe Ninja, and while I wish I had a fresher bottle (not that it's that old, per say), I really enjoyed it. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 8.5% ABV bottled (22 oz bomber). Drank out of an Alchemist stemless glass on 9/27/13. Batch 185. Bottled 8/9/13.

Thus concludes my current stash of Pipeworks beer, but don't fret, I'm sure I'll wrangle some more at some point.

* I was somewhat surprised to learn that my comprehensive computer simulation (which consisted of me staring at the ceiling for 5 seconds and just deciding that Ninjas are more badass than Unicorns by simple fiat) was almost as thorough as the Deadliest Warrior's simulation. "5 years in the making!" they say, and I suppose it was, but not by them - it turns out that the simulation is simply a slightly tweaked version of a video game called Great Battles of Rome.**

** It's a testament to the relevance of this blog that I've spent the majority of this post wanking about a TV show that was cancelled 2 years ago, isn't it?

Halloween and Other Nonsense

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The most awesomest time of the year has arrived, bringing with it stuff like decorative corpses, mutilated pumpkins, bite sized candy, pumpkin beers, and a whole host of other nominally ghastly objects that suddenly become socially acceptable. Here at Kaedrin, we tend to drink a lot of beer (yeah, par for the course, I know) and watch a lot of bad horror movies (these tend to be chronicled on my generalist blog, so stop by and say hello if you're so inclined). So look for some season's greetings in the near future. And Sweetzels. Lots of Sweetzels.

Kaedrin Halloween Festivities
(Click for larger version)

Speaking of Halloween themes, Tired Hands is getting into the swing of things with their series of beers named after various monsters. Last year were the classics: Vampire, Zombie, etc... Take a look at the fermenation board for a preview of this year's fun:

Tired Hands Fermentation Board
(Click for larger version)

Yep, 80s horror monsters all the way. Not on the board, but mentioned by the bartender last time I was there, is Marty Rantzen (!), a suitably obscure choice that warms this jaded horror movie lover's heart. Of course, these are just names, and it's what's in the glass that counts, but Tired Hands has more than proven themselves on that front and their nonsensical naming conventions only add to their charm.

Speaking of nonsense, check out this video I made on Vine after I got drunk on Saturday.

It's no DDB video revue, but I think it turned out well given the approximately 30 seconds I put into it.

Incidentally, this is the sort of thing I've been posting on Twitter lately, so go there and follow me now (if you don't already). Cheers.

Sante Adairius Love's Armor

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It used to be that a new brewery would have to establish their bona fides for a few years, pushing out old standards like porters and pale ales, establishing a base on blandness, and only then rocking the world with something completely bonkers. In the parlance, you've got to earn your bullshit. But there's something about the current beer craze has lead to new, often tiny breweries popping up and immediately dropping bombs on unsuspecting beer nerds. For example, Hill Farmstead started putting out amazing beers way back in... 2010. Earlier this year, they're voted best brewery in the world. I suspect the same honor will be up for grabs from any number of new, idiosyncratic brewers that seem to be sprouting up at an amazing rate.

Heck, we've already covered two such candidates this week alone (not to mention recent fantastic offerings from Pipeworks, Half Acre, my beloved hometown wizards Tired Hands, and many others) and now we hit our third of the week: Sante Adairius Rustic Ales (aka SARA) has been making small batches of mind blowing beer in the small coastal town of Capitola, California for a year or so, but they somehow managed to establish an amazing reputation before they even opened. I've been following along on Jay's blog, Beer Samizdat, for a while now, aching to get a chance to try anything from this brewery. When we put together a quick trade back in August, I was wondering if he'd be able to find some bottles (they're apparently quite rare and released on unpredictable schedules) and was overjoyed to see not just one, but two offerings in my haul. Many thanks to Jay for being such a great American and snapping these up for me.

This first taste is a blend of barrel aged sour beers, one a dark saison they call Farmhouse Noir and the other a robust rye porter called Chavez. Love's Armor has proven itself to be quite formidable, wreaking major havoc with my THAC0...

Sante Adairius Loves Armor

Sante Adairius Rustic Ales Love's Armor - Pours a deep dark brown color with a finger of khaki head. Smells full of twangy funk, with an almost chocolate covered cherry sorta aroma that is beautiful. Sourness hits in the taste right up front, sour cherries, yielding to some chocolate malt, maybe even some roast in the middle, then heading back to sourtown for the finish. Nice leathery Brett funk, maybe tobacco, matched with a hint of oak too. Really complex, I keep picking out new subtleties as I drink, but also well balanced. Mouthfeel is well carbonated, not quite full bodied, but definitely more here than, say, a flanders red. Overall, I feel like I've been saying this a lot lately, but this is superb! An excellent, non-standard sour. A

Beer Nerd Details: 8.1% ABV bottled (750 ml capped). Drank out of a flute on 9/20/13.

Amazing first impression here, and I'm supes excited for that next bottle... and will need to start begging Jay for more almost immediately.

Crooked Stave St. Bretta Summer

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Yet another brewery that has established itself in just the past couple years, and yet has quickly achieved rockstar status amongst beer nerds. Crooked Stave operates out of Colorado, where mad scientist Chad Yakobson created his brewery as an extension of his academic work studying various strains of Brettanomyces. As such, all of the beers Crooked Stave produces are Brett fermented, which is a pretty unique approach to brewing these days.

This particular beer was evolved from Wild Wild Brett Orange, one of a series of Brettanomyces fermented beers brewed to match the seven colors of the rainbow. Each batch of this beer uses the same wit beer base, but differs depending on the fresh citrus available that season. This was the summer variant of St. Bretta, so it was made with fresh Blood Orange. Many thanks to Jay from the most excellent Beer Samizdat blog for slinging this beer my way:

Crooked Stave St. Bretta Summer

Crooked Stave St. Bretta Summer - Pours a cloudy straw yellow color with a finger or two of white head with decent retention and minor lacing. Smell is filled with funk, a little earthy, maybe even a little juicy (this is my kinda funk), with more typical wit beer spicing (citrus peel, coriander, etc...) also apparent. Taste is also driven mostly by that earthy, juicy funk, edging towards sourness but never quite reaching puckering levels. Some spice comes to the party too, and it all blends together well. Mouthfeel is highly carbonated, with that almost-sour bite snapping in around the middle, finishing relatively dry. Overall, this is superb. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 5.5% ABV bottled (375 ml capped). Drank out of a tulip glass on 9/20/13. 2013 Vintage, Batch 3.

A fantastic first taste from Crooked Stave. Jay sent me another of their beers, which is burning a hole in my cellar, and I'm most definitely going to have to find a way to get ahold of more of this stuff in the future.

Going A Little Crazy

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Another day, another revolutionary (pun intended!) brewery that's only opened their doors in the past few years. This is going to come up again this week (a couple of times, actually), but let's stay in Chicago for the moment and check out Revolution brewing. They opened a small brewpub in 2010, quickly garnering a fair amount of praise (including a top 5 slot in RateBeer's Top New Brewers in the World list), expanded in 2011, and opened a full production brewery in 2012. I'm never sure what to make of the whole socialist fist iconography when it comes to breweries (maybe they just like the act of fistin... you know what, I'm just going to stop myself right there and pretend like I didn't even bring this up).

So I was particularly interested in their barrel aged brews, but this is exactly the wrong time of year for that sort of thing (I'm penciling in a Winter trade for some of that excellence), so I had to settle for a few standard brews. This one is actually a Spring seasonal, so it's a bit long in the tooth (especially for a well hopped beer), but the Belgian side of things kept it in check I think. So let's get a little crazy:

Revolution A Little Crazy

Revolution A Little Crazy - Pours a bright, slightly hazy golden color with a finger of fluffy, eggshell white head. Smells lightly of Belgian yeast, with a heavy hop component. Lots of citrus rind and floral notes, maybe even a bit of tart twang. Taste starts off spicy and hoppy, but then a huge, juicy, tart citrus note pops out, with just a hint of balancing bitterness in the finish. It's a really strange sensation, perhaps belying its age, but it works well enough. Mouthfeel is well carbonated and spicy, but that citrus note has a bright juicy tartness to it that follows through the finish. To make the most obscure comparison possible, this reminds me of Boxcar Brewing's IPA, which doesn't quite have that pop of citrus and tartness, but the Belgian yeast and hops give it a similar feel. Overall, this is a really strange brew. Not bad at all, I rather like it, but strange nonetheless. B

Beer Nerd Details: 6.4% ABV bottled (22 oz. bomber). Drank out of a tulip glass on 9/21/13.

I also had their Oktoberfest, which was a really solid take on the style, but then, I'm not that big into that style, so I didn't write up any detailed notes. I've got their standard IPA in the fridge, but I'm not expecting a ton from that either. I'm still really curious to see how their barrel aged brews fare, as I've heard really good things about them.

September Beer Club

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Tonight was Beer Club, a gathering of beer minded folk from my work who get together every month at a local BYOB for libations and fun. I should note that what I call beer club is offically called "social club", and there are frequently attendees who want nothing to do with beer. We've often had folks who bring wine or even stuff like sake or just plan, non-alcoholic root beer. In short, usually, only a portion of attendees are drinking the beer. Well, we had a great turnout tonight, and most everyone drank most every beer. I think only one beer was left unopened (a Brooklyn Oktoberfest), and most everything else was kicked almost as soon as it was opened. So it was an impressive showing tonight! Check it:

September Beer Club

For the sake of posterity, some half-remembered thoughts on each beer are listed below. Standard disclaimers apply, these are not ideal tasting conditions and I was only half paying attention and you'd be a fool to trust most of these ratings. Except for the ones I've had before. Those are mostly awesome. Here goes:

  • Ken's Homebrewed Pumpkin Ale - Really nice pumpkin ale homebrew from my friend Ken. He had kegged it and transferred to a growler this morning, so the carbonation was a bit on the low side, but it was otherwise a pretty damn good take on the style. I was going to say that it's the best homebrewed pumpkin ale I've ever had, but it's also the only homebrewed pumpkin ale I've ever had, so that doesn't really tell you much. But it was good, and I liked it. B+
  • Stone Enjoy By 09.13.13 IPA - I know, heresy! We drank this almost a week after we were supposed to "enjoy by", and yet, I can't help but thinking that I enjoyed this more than the fresh bottle I had. I didn't get that weird plasticky character that I had from the fresh version, though I could kinda see where it came from. The slightly faded hops actually improved this for me! I know, heresy, right? I still feel like I'm pretty sensitive to faded hops these days, but this one tasted fine. Perhaps it was stored better than my last bottle? I'll still leave it at a B, but better than the last bottle I had (which was also a B)
  • Neshaminy Creek County Line IPA - I've not reviewed this, but I've mentioned it before on the blog, and I enjoy it. A local brew, this is your typical East Coast IPA, well balanced, more malt character than your West Coast IPAs, but a nice light hop character too. B or B+
  • Kaedôme Saison (regular version) - My regular ol' homebrewed saison is still drinking pretty well. The hop character has mellowed a bit and never quite achieved the Nelson Sauvin awesomeness I was hoping for, but it's still a pretty kickass saison and seemed to be very well received by the beer club crew. The Brett version of this is still in secondary, and probably has a solid month or two left it in before I bottle. I'll leave this at a B+
  • Lexington Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale - Proof that "Bourbon Barrel Aged" does not always translate to "good"... this wasn't especially bad or anything, it was just sorta bland. It was pale in color, and I didn't get much bourbon or oak out of this at all... nor did I get much else. Which is to say, it's better than most macros, but nothing to write home about. Perhaps it would fare better in a non-sampling context, but for tonight it was a lowly C+
  • Erie Brewing Mad Anthony's APA - Oh wow, this is just awful. It's got a certain blandness to it, but also a diacetyl note that I always hate. Some might be willing to put up with that, but not I. F
  • The Alchemist Heady Topper - I don't need to say much beyond my review, but yeah, it went over pretty well with the beer club peeps. Still a solid A in my book.
  • Saucony Creek Captain Pumpkin's Maple Mistress - Extremely sweet and a little boozy, this is an interesting take on the pumpkin ale. It's got some spice, but not quite your typical pumpkin spice, and I can sorta detect that maple syrup character as well. It's unbalanced, but in a sorta endearing way. One of those beers that's excellent in this sort of sampling context, but which would probably become cloying if you tried drinking a whole bottle. I enjoyed it well enough and will give it a B
  • Finch's Fascist Pig Ale - I didn't really get much of this, just the dregs of the can, but it seemed like a nice enough amber ale. I'll give it a provisional B, but even considering the context of beer club, I need more of this to really give it a fair shake.
  • Samuel Adams Fat Jack Double Pumpkin - You know what, I really enjoyed this beer. It's a more-or-less traditional take on a pumpkin beer, pumpkin pie flavors all the way, but perhaps the lopsided affair of Captain Pumpkin's Maple Mistress made this one appear better by comparison. It's not as interesting, but it's maybe a better crafted beer. B or B+
  • Cascade Kriek Ale - One of my contributions for the night, this sucker is just as good as I remember it, maybe even better. It was a big hit with beer club peeps as well, and definitely the most unique beer of the night. I love this stuff and might be tempted to upgrade it to A status, but I'll leave it at A- for now, trusting my previous judgement.
  • FiftyFifty Imperial Eclipse Stout - Heaven Hill Rittenhouse Rye - My other contribution, and another eye opener for the beer club crew. I've had this before and absolutely loved it, which is one of the reasons I wanted to bring it to beer club. Happily, it went over very well. A
And that just about covers it, another successful night, and I am already anticipating the next meeting!

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

You might also want to check out my generalist blog, where I blather on about lots of things, but mostly movies, books, and technology.

Email me at mciocco at gmail dot com.

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  • Mark: That's what I figured after the last release (which was read more
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