Forest & Main Solaire Reserve

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A couple Sundays ago, Forest & Main did a bottle release and I made the trek up to Ambler to secure some liquid gold. Unlike my previous trip, I actually had time to sit down, sample a flight of beers, and eat dinner. Whilst there I met Mike Lorenz, famed jazz guitarist who I recognized as the guy who plays Tired Hands on a weekly basis (as well as bottle releases whilst we're all waiting in line). Very nice fella, and I was glad to have met him. I also met a very generous woman who just decided she wanted to share some beers with the group, including stuff like a Voodoo BBVD aged in Pappy Barrels (!), KBS, and BCBS. We all agreed that she is a great American. So yeah, it was a fun night!

Anywho, they were releasing two different beers that night, and this seems to be their most frequent release. It's their standard saison, called Solaire, which has been bottled with "several strains of Brett". Well twist my arm, why don't ya?

Forest and Main Solaire Reserve

Forest & Main Solaire Reserve - Pours a golden yellow color with a big three finger fluffy head and lots of lacing, retention, etc... Smells very spicy, lots of Belgian yeast character, pepper, coriander and the like. Not picking up a ton of Brett here, though perhaps its masquerading as a simple byt potent Belgian yeast at this point. So quite a nice nose, actually. Taste is classic Belgian yeast, musty with a powerful dose of spices (pepper, coriander, clove, etc...), a nice bready sweetness rounded out by a very slight bitterness in the dry finish. Again, not a lot of Brett here, except perhaps for the dryness and maybe the intensity of the Belgian yeast character (both of which differ from the standard Solaire offering). The mouthfeeel is highly carbonated and finishes very dry. Clocking in at 5% ABV, this is crisp, light, and refreshing, damn near quaffable. Overall, this feels like a straightforward, but very well executed saison. I expect the Brett character to pick up with time, and I do have another bottle, so we shall find out, shan't we? Incidentally, this paired nicely with dinner too! A-

Beer Nerd Details: 5% ABV bottled (750 ml capped). Drank out of a goblet on 10/11/13. Bottled Jun 06 2013. Bottle no. 112 of 132.

Back label

If I lived just a little closer to these guys, I'd be there often. As it is, this has been twice in about a month, so maybe that would be dangerous. Anywho, really looking forward to the other bottle (Palomino), so stay tuned for that...


Spring House Big Gruesome

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The fine folks at Spring House must be big fans of Hanna-Barbera, as this beer's title is derived from an obscure and short-lived 60s cartoon called Wacky Races. The show pitted eleven different racing teams against one another in a series of road rallies in order to award the title of "World's Wackiest Racer." The Gruesome Twosome are modeled after Frankenstein (Big Gruesome) and Dracula (Little Gruesome) and they drive a hearse-like car called the Creepy Coupe. It's got a belfry on it. Of course.

If you look closely at the label of this beer, I think both of the Gruesome Twosome are represented, though they don't quite look like the actual cartoon characters. Anywho, befitting Big Gruesome's Frankensteinian origins, Spring House decided to brew a big, lurching stout using all sorts of wacky ingredients: chocolate malts, raw cacao nibs, vanilla beans, more cacao nibs, a human brain marked "abnormal"*, and, of course, peanut butter**. Does all this tomfoolery really work? Let's find out, shall we?

Spring House Big Gruesome Chocolate Peanut Butter Stout

Spring House Big Gruesome Chocolate Peanut Butter Stout - Pours a very dark brown color with a finger of light brown head. Smells of coffee, chocolate and just a whisper of peanut butter. Taste follows along with lots of coffee, a little chocolate, and just a hint of that peanut butter. Given the kitchen sink approach to ingredients, I was expecting a much sloppier affair, but it actually came out rather well balanced. Mouthfeel is on the upper end of medium bodied, with a nice richness and appropriate carbonation. Overall, a very interesting beer, not quite as gimmicky as you might think, really quite a nice stout, with some added complexity from all those other ingredients. Well done! B+

Beer Nerd Details: 8.5% ABV bottled (22 oz. bomber). Drank out of a snifter on 10/5/13.

Spring House also makes something called Lil' Gruesome Peanut Butter Jelly Stout, which isn't as strong as Big Gruesome, but clearly has just as much wacky crap going on. I most certainly need to get off my butt and visit Spring House sometime, so stay tuned... Might even want to do it in October, as it seems like those fine folks really get into the spirit of the season (actually, it seems like their branding is Halloween-like all year round, good on them!)

* Allegedly. By me. So basically, not true at all.

** Not sure what it is about peanut butter beers, but there seems to be a rash of them gaining popularity of late. Heck, even I had that Rogue Voodoo abomination recently, but that's barely worth mentioning. Everyone around here won't stop talking about Sweet Baby Jesus! though, and it's certainly a fine beer with a strong peanut butter kick. And by everyone, I mean this one I guy I was talking to the other day. So basically, just ignore this. That's why I put it in a footnote.

Punkel Dunkel Pumpkin Wheat Ale

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Even amongst pumpkin beer haters, there's a tacit acknowledgement that yes, The Bruery's Autumn Maple is awesome even though it kinda, sorta fits the category, despite using yams instead of pumpkins. Aside from the yams, it differs in a few other key ways. First you've got molasses and maple syrup, which, you know, sploosh. But the yeast is what ties it all together. The Bruery's house strain of Belgian yeast is fantastic and pairs well with the traditional pumpkin pie spices, not to mention all that other junk.

So those punkels up at Neshaminy Creek, not wanting to do the same old thing in the oversaturated pumpkin beer market (i.e. bland amber base, pumpkin, and shit tons of spices), went all German on our asses. They amped up their recipe for Dunks Ferry Dunkelweizen, added the requisite pumpkin, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg, and fermented using traditional Bavarian weizen yeast. The result is something Autumn Maple-like, which is high praise. Definitely worth checking out, even for the pumpkin haterz.

Plus, check out that label, it's awesome. And for those of you disgusted by pumpkin beers showing up in July, those fine Neshaminy Creek folks made sure to release this after the "unofficial" end of summer, Labor Day Weekend. Not that any of that really matters, but still. Oh yeah, beer:

Neshaminy Creek Punkel Dunkel Pumpkin Wheat Ale

Neshaminy Creek Punkel Dunkel Pumpkin Wheat Ale - Pours a very murky, cloudy brown color with a cap of light tan head. Smells beautiful, huge spicy character, and while some of that is typical pumpkin pie spice(cinnamon, ginger, clove, brown sugar, etc...), it matches really well with the weizen yeast character (bananas and even more clove). Taste is similar, lots of Weizenbock spice and wheat, brown sugar, with the pumpkin pie notes (cinnamon and the like) hitting in the middle and lasting through the finish. Mouth feel is medium bodied, very well carbonated, spicy, and yet somehow almost creamy. Hint of sticky booze, but that works well here. Overall, a very good, uncommon take on the pumpkin genre, well worth trying even for folks who don't normally go for pumpkin beer. It actually reminds me more of The Bruery's Autumn Maple than anything else... B+

Beer Nerd Details: 8.8% ABV bottled (22 oz. bomber). Drank out of a tulip glass on 10/5/13.

Rich suggests they make a Doppelbock pumpkin beer next year, which, yeah, sounds awesome. Of course, due to the lagering period, they'd either have to make it without fresh pumpkin (though it's not like most pumpkin beers actually do that these days) or release it much later than normal, but I'd totally be down with applying pumpkin to other beer styles (pumpkin stouts are actually pretty great). Anywho, Neshaminy Creek continues to make some interesting stuff, so you'll probably hear more about them in the future...

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.

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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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