J.W. Lees Port Cask Harvest Ale

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I'll be the first to admit that my palate isn't the most refined of them all, but one of the things I appear to have absolutely no tolerance for is Diacetyl. It's a byproduct of fermentation that can yield powerful flavors of butter or butterscotch to a finished beer. I know what you're thinking: Butter and Butterscotch are awesome! And yes, it is, but you wouldn't put a pat of butter in your beer, would you? That's kinda gross, is it not? Well, to me it is, but to some, low levels of diacetyl are actually desirable (high levels, not so much). Notably, a lot of English pale ales tend to lean in that direction. Not all of them are like that, of course, but that just makes sampling British beers a bit of a crapshoot for me. In this case, an expensive crapshoot, as I (wrongly) assumed that a port cask aged barleywine would have minimal diacetyl.

J.W. Lees Port Cask Harvest Ale

J.W. Lees Port Cask Harvest Ale - Pours a cloudy orange brown color with half a finger of off white head. Smells of toffee and some fruitiness, presumably from that port cask. The toffee has that buttery diacetyl note that I generally hate in British beers. And yep it's prominent in the taste too. I've had worse examples of this, but I just can't get on board with that particular character. Otherwise, it's got some nice port notes, and some caramel and toffee that are nice. Mouthfeel is rich and smooth, full bodied. Overall, it's clearly well made, I just can't get past that diacetyl. C+

Beer Nerd Details: 11.5% ABV bottled (adorable little 9.3 oz bottle). Drank out of a snifter on 6/1/13. Brewed in 2011.

A pity, as I like a good Porto every now and again and you rarely see US beers aged in Port barrels. Yeah, so anyway, I'm probably not going to check out the various other barrel aged treatments of this stuff, especially given the expense (for a tiny bottle, no less). Fortunately, I had some other great beer this weekend that would make up for this one, so stay tuned.

Tired Hands Anniversary

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Today was Tired Hands' one year anniversary, and they had a big shindig featuring lots of fantastic beers. As per usual, their events are a bit of a madhouse, but they did a good job keeping up with the demand, and it helps that the new and special beers they were serving were nothing short of spectacular. Big congratulations to Tired Hands for living up to lofty expectations and establishing themselves as the best brewer in the area.

Lunch of Champions: Only Void and an Everything Pretzel
Yummy Everything Pretzel paired with Hophands mustard and Only Void

I had quite a few things today, and for shits and giggles, I'll include stuff I've had from the past few months as well, because why not? Yeah, I suppose the fact that most of them are already gone forever is a pretty good reason not to dwell on them, but how else am I to make my readers jealous?

St.Oner - No picture! Sorry about that! One of Tired Hands' typically fantastic IPAs. It's getting very hard to judge these against one another, as they're all so damn good. The big twist with this one is a very juicy citrus character, presumably from the hops but also maybe some fresh fruit. Pleasant bitterness, and at 6.5% ABV it was downright quaffable and refreshing on a hot day. A-

Romulon

Romulon - Wow, this is a beautiful gueuze-like sour blend (wine barrel fermented Saison and fresh Saison). Very nice oak character, a bright but not overwhelming sourness, tart fruits, just fantastic! While technically a saison, I'd put it right up there with some of the fantastic gueuzes I've been having lately. Indeed, this is probably a contender for my favorite Tired Hands beer ever (even though that's a sorta impossible choice!) A

Only Void

Only Void - Tired Hands has a little fermentation chalkboard and I feel like this beer has been sitting on there since last year. A massive 12% imperial stout conditioned on stainless steel (there are some barrel aged variants coming), pours black with tan head. Nice roasty nose, dark chocolate is there too (and becomes more pronounced as I drink), maybe a hint of coffee in the nose too. Taste has that well balanced roast and coffe note, some earthiness, but also lots of chocolate and some rich caramel and maybe even some hop bitterness in the finish. Really well balanced flavors for such a monster beer. Mouthfeel is rich, full bodied, and smooth. It's not quaffable or anything, and it would work as a dessert sipper, but it's pretty easy going for something this big. Only a slight alcohol warming in the belly... Because I drank too quickly! Overall, it's a fantastic imperial stout. A

Our Berry Vest

Our Berry Vest - A blend of the aforementioned Only Void and a strong brown ale called "So It Goes" (which I've never seen or had before) conditioned on fresh strawberries. At 11.5% ABV, this is no fru-fru beer, and it actually has some sour notes to go along with the fruity strawberry. Really interesting beer, it's got the Only Void notes of roast and dark chocolate softened considerably by a sour fruity character, strawberries coming through clearly, much lighter body than Only Void, but still a big beer. An almost chocolate covered strawberry feel (ok, perhaps not quite like that, but still really good). Great variation on the theme. Glad I sprung for this one. A-

And that covers what I managed to greedily gulp down today. In order to fan the flames of jealousy, here's some more stuff that I've had over the past couple months...

The Light That Spills Out of the Whole in Your Head - In the running for weirdest/awesomest beer name. A 6% citrus pale ale, great juicy hop character full of citrus, really easy drinking and refreshing. One of the few beers Tired Hands has brewed more than once (I think! I know I had this before, but for some reason, never recapped it). A-

Tralfamadorian - They called this a 6.8% barrel fermented biere de garde, but it basically feels like a lighter bodied Flanders Red. Whoa, robey tones, dense tan head, pretty. Taste is reminiscent of Domo, sorta a Flemish red, but with slightly less body. Light on the oak, some sharp sourness, but not overwhelming. Nice sour cherry notes, really well done. A-

Station - A 5.8% Simcoe IPA? Sign me up! Cloudy straw yellow, beautiful grapefruit citrus nose, ditto in taste, with some light herbal notes too. Light and quaffable, very nice! Grading on a curve: B+

Wiggle Wurm - 9.2% DIPA, clear golden yellow, citrus & pine hop aroma, very sweet on the palate, sticky but not cloying. Solid! B+

Wisdom Teeth - Darwin Solera series number 4, a 6% Brett pale ale. This series is seriously mellowing out with each new installment. It's still got that funky salinity, but it's more well rounded and integrated. It's a fun series of beers, highly drinkable stuff and getting better with each iteration. B+

My Briefcase Says "Time Is Money" - Another fantastic name. It's a 5.7% Black IPA, nice drinkable beer, not as hoppy as you'd expect, but not super roasty either, striking an interesting balance. B+

Eye 4A Face - A 4.5% dry hopped farmhouse mild conditioned on oak. Dark golden hues, nice citrus hops in the nose, taste more malt focused, maybe a hint of oak, plenty of bitterness, easy drinking. B+

CuzCuz - Southern Hemisphere IPA filled with New Zealand hops, etc - Super cloudy straw yellow, bright citrus and herbal hops, floral too, really nice, easy drinking stuff... B+

Tabula Rasa - Classic modern saison at 6.2% ABV. I got a super yeasty pour, almost milky looking, Jean said that happens sometimes and it's really annoying because he has to sacrifice a bunch of beer to get past the yeast plug. It was drinkable, but he gave me another glass after he cleared the line some. Once I got a proper glass, it was still super cloudy, but at least it was yellow! Nice peppery yeast in the nose, a lot like Farmhands. Taste has that big saison yeast character, spicy sweet, similar to Farmhands but a bit more body. Medium bodied, smooth, spicy, very nice. Overall, really nice. B+

Pineal - Mosaic Amarillo Simcoe IPA at 6%, this may be my first real Mosaic hopped beer? Can that be? Well if this is any indication, I'm going to have to seek out some more! Bright cloudy yellow, beautiful nose, citrus, pine, nice floral aspect, great nose. Taste has nice sweetness, big juicy citrus notes, pine and floral notes too. Great beer. A-

Caskette - Hoppy golden mild at 4%. Yellow color, fantastic juicy hop nose, biscuity malts make a nice platform for those hops, compulsively drinkable. Would have loved to tried the one they actually put on cask! B+

Jittery Tiger - An oatmeal stout brewed with espresso at 6.6%. Black with tan head, big roast coffee nose, strong coffee in taste, roasty, bitter. Coffee beers are not normally my thing... but I like this. Not my favorite evar or anything, but good, and goes down easy... B+

Yellow & Green - A 4.5% all Cascade Keller pils. Nice yellow color, some herbal hops, plenty if citrus too, classic Cascade hop character. Feels more like a pale ale than a pils, but it's really quite nice... B+

Carpathian Kitten Loss - An 8.8% DIPA brewed with rye. Citra & Simcoe hopped, this has an amazing aroma, bright oranges up in my noseballs, citrus hops all they way... Taste is fantastic too, lots of citrus hops, bright, nice spicy rye or caramel note, a hint of booze but well balanced, way too easy to drink for the ABV, smooth. Delicious, better than the last couple DIPAs that they've made... A-

Phew. That's a lot of beer (spread out over the past few months, I assure you!). I feel very lucky to have Tired Hands out here in my backyard (ok, a half hour away, but still). Really looking forward to the Only Void bottle release (coming soonish, I think), especially those bottle conditioned variants.

Rodenbach Caractère Rouge

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Rodenbach Grand Cru has very quickly established itself as a go-to Flanders Red (especially when I want to introduce someone to the rough and tumble, gum-rubbing world of sour beers). Widely available, affordable, and absolutely delicious. It's hard to believe that my first was less than a year ago, but here we are today, taking on next-level Rodenbach world beaters like Caractère Rouge. Life is good.

Made from the same base as Grand Cru, this sucker is 100% aged in oak foeders for 2 years, then steeped in macerated cherries, cranberries and raspberries for an additional six months. The result manages to retain that distinct Rodenbach character, even while it's softened by candy-like fruit notes. It's a worthy variation on Rodenbach's theme...

Rodenbach Caractere Rouge

Rodenbach Caractère Rouge - Pours a deep, bright, darkish red color, serious robey tones, with a finger of light, almost pink head. Smell is pure fruit, rasberries, cherry, maybe even strawberry, sugary candy treats, fruit rollups, jolly ranchers, that sort of thing, with some nice funky twang. Taste is very sweet, again with the cherry, raspberries, and strawberry followed by a funky, assertive, sour kick in the middle, that fruit rollup character hitting in the middle too, finishing with an acetic sour note. As it warms, a subtle oak element emerges and livens things up, adding complexity and richness to the party. Mouthfeel is very well carbonated, medium bodied, bright, sticky sweet in the finish, though once it warms, that stickiness seems to yield to the oak, making it seem a little drier and actually, more palatable too (not that this was ever hard to drink). Easy going beer, complex, but accessible. Overall, it's a fruity delight. I'm perhaps more taken with the more oaky Rodenbach expressions, but this is still delicious and complex stuff. And as fruit beers go, it blows something like Serendipity out of the water. It keeps getting better as I drink, too, which is just another element of it's complexity that I really appreciate. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 7% ABV bottled (750 ml caged and corked). Drank out of a Tired Hands glass on 5/24/13.

The bottle had no markings on it at all (totally badass), but it does have that little label thingy attached by string. No real batch identification, but I'm guessing this was the 2012 batch. No other Rodenwales are incoming at this time, but I'm obviously going to be keeping an eye out for any new releases from these fellas. In the meantime, I'll have to settle for some Loonz, Ghosts, and the like. I'll be ok. For now.

Prairie Funky Galaxy

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Well, what have we here? Yep, it's a saison, complete with baffling inclusions like trendy Galaxy hops and dark malts, brewed with Brett. Plus, it's got a label featuring constellations in the form of... the Harlem Globe Trotters? Also depicted: two disembodied blue hands pointing towards a galactic core consisting of a giant hot dog. And when I say "giant", well, if this is drawn to scale, let's call it about 1,000 light years long (and a diameter of about 200 light years). That's a big hot dog. Fortunately, no hot dogs were used in the making of this beer. Unfortunately, I'm not sure all the disparate components came together as well as Prairie hoped.

Served in appropriate glassware, of course:

Prairie Funky Galaxy

Prairie Funky Galaxy - Pours a dark brown color with lots of bubbly, khaki colored head. Smells of pure, juicy Galaxy hops mixed with bready, spicy Belgian yeast. Not a lot of funk in the nose though. Taste has a nice saison yeast character mixed with some roasted malt and those juicy hop flavors. Some light, earthy funk emerging towards the finish. Mouthfeeel is highly carbonated, dry, and surprisingly crisp. Medium bodied, but easy to drink. Overall, I find myself wishing this didn't have those roasted notes, but it's still quite good. B

Beer Nerd Details: 8% ABV bottled (750 ml caged and corked). Drank out of whatever you call that Star Wars glass on 5/26/13.

Man, this lack of harmony seems to be the theme of last weekend, but fret not, for tomorrow we'll be talking about a spectacular beer that has harmony out the ying yang. Or something. Stay tuned.

Eric at Focus on Beer recently posted an excellent rambling exploration of the utility and prevalence of beer reviews in blogs and whatnot. It seems to have inspired a lot of responses, so I figured that I'd throw my had in the ring... but then I read Ed's reasoning, which absolutely nails it:

...a lot of that focus is turned to you as a reader and why in general, beer reviews probably aren't truly useful to you. But I'd like to take a moment and focus on someone that I think beer reviews are greatly useful to, and that's us bloggers ourselves.
I've been blogging since the turn of the century (though this beer blog is only a few years old at this point), and my number one reason for blogging has always been selfish. I want to learn about something, so I write about it. I like learning about stuff and of course I want to share it with everyone, and I would't maintain public blogs if I didn't hope for some sort of audience, but that's all secondary. In the case of this blog, I was in the midst of exploring the vast world of beer and getting a little lost in the process. So I started blogging about every beer I drank. Learning has always been the goal, and if you don't believe me, go and read my first post.

Of course, I didn't want this blog to be purely reviews, but it sorta evolved into that. I try to spice things up with notes about the brewery, pedantic style debates, historical digressions, and even more off the wall stuff like Screenplays or Choose Your Own Adventure Beer Reviews. I'll be the first to admit that my tasting notes are a little on the dry side, but it's the stuff surrounding them that's most important. I'd hope that I'm somewhat successful on that score, though I have noticed recently that it's getting a little harder. I've already written about a lot of interesting breweries and styles, and I don't want to keep repeating myself, so I have to come up with something else.

As for whether or not reviews can be useful, I think they can, but it still requires you to have a fair amount of baseline knowledge. It's funny, but I find reviews much more useful now than I did when I first started trolling BeerAdvocate and RateBeer. Part of that is that my BS meter has been calibrated to tune out blowhards who use absurd descriptors and whatnot, and part of it is that I've learned enough about my tastes to pick up on certain aspects of a beer that I know will turn me on/off (whether it's a highly rated review or not).

Ultimately, it's all a bit of a wank. Everyone is different, and while my approach is to compulsively write about what I'm drinking, it's not like you have to do anything special to enjoy beer. You don't need any specialized knowledge, you just need to drink it, which is good enough for me.

Anywho, here's a beer from a brewery I really like that I found a bit disappointing. I actually think these tasting notes might even be useful if this is a beer you're thinking of purchasing, because it's a really weird beer. Not Calagione-level weird, but still. Might be worth knowing what you're in for with this one...

Telegraph Obscura Cacao

Telegraph Obscura Cacao - Pours a pale golden brown color, not what you'd expect from something brewed with chocolate, with a finger of bubbly off white head. Smells of spicy, musty Belgian yeast. As it warms, that cacao comes through loud and clear. Taste also features that spicy Belgian yeast character, with chocolate flavors coming through strong late in the taste and lingering into the finish. As it warms, the cacao becomes even more pronounced. There's a dry bitterness in the finish as well. Unfortunately, these flavor elements don't really come together in a completely harmonious way. It's like the cacao is fighting the Belgian yeast instead of meshing. It's not horrible, but it was a little disappointing. Mouthfeel is highly carbonated and spicy, medium bodied, but easy enough to drink. Overall, this isn't a spectacular beer, a little muddled and unfocused, but it's not the abomination that the ratings seem to indicate either. Spicy Belgian style with some chocolate notes that aren't particularly well matched. Not bad, but again, it's not a harmonious combo. B-

Beer Nerd Details: 7.3% ABV bottled (750 ml caged and corked). Drank out of a goblet on 5/25/13. Batch No. 99.

I still want to explore more of Telegraph's offerings, particularly Gypsy ale, and I'm sure you'll be seeing more of them on the blog at some point.

Though this Texas brewery has only been open since 2004, it has roots dating back to 1847. William Rahr was one of many German immigrants who brought their love of beer to the new world. After he, uh, fell into a brew kettle and died, his sons carried on the tradition for a while, renaming the brewery William Rahr's Sons Co. I'm not really sure what happened to that brewery (to hazard a guess: prohibition), but Rahr's malt business has continuously operated since 1847 and supplies a large portion of the brewing industry. I don't think that has anything to do with the new Texas operation, but it's always neat to find old-school U.S. brewing institutions.

Anywho, this is a Winter Warmer style beer aged in bourbon barrels for 10 weeks. A short stay, to be sure, but then, Winter Warmers probably can't stand up to super-long durations like a gigantic stout or barleywine, so maybe that's for the best. Let's find out, shall we?

Rahr and Sons Bourbon Barrel Aged Winter Warmer

Rahr & Sons Bourbon Barrel Aged Winter Warmer - Pours a very dark brown color with off white head. Smells of chalky malts, not quite roasty, but dark malts, along with some spice, as befits the Winter Warmer style. Not really detecting much in the way of Bourbon Barrel action in the nose though. Taste is sweet with lots of common winter mulling spices, ginger, cinnamon, and the like. The bourbon comes out in the taste, a little boozy, with those roasted malts coming through in the finish. Not quite as harmonious as I'd like, but it's decent. Mouthfeel is well carbonated, spicy, a little chalky, medium bodied. Overall, a solid brew, not mindblowing and it could use a little more balance, but I'm glad I got to try some. B

Beer Nerd Details: 8.5% ABV bottled (22 oz. bomber). Drank out of a snifter on 5/24/13. Bottled Winter 2012.

I've got another big Rahr & Sons brew in the cellar right now, though I'm not sure when I'll break that sucker out... perhaps the next beer club!

The last time I had Eclipse, I was wondering if it was really possible to pick out different makes of Bourbon by drinking the beer aged in said Bourbon's barrels. Fifty Fifty Brewing's Eclipse series is ideal for that sort of experiment, but I think my methodology is off - I'm drinking this three months after I drank my last one (which was aged in Elijah Craig 12 barrels). I suppose I could throw on some Journey and do a comparative tasting of 5 different variants... Total eclipse of the hangover. Just in time for summer!

Rittenhouse Rye was originally distilled just a hop and a skip away in Linfield, PA (It's now made in Kentucky, along with Heaven Hill's other brands), which is why I recognized the name. Rittenhouse Square and Rittenhouse Hotel are Philadelphia institutions, named after local Age of Enlightenment man David Rittenhouse, a noted astronomer and clockmaker who went on to become the first director of the United States Mint (a seemingly strange shift in priorities, but then, Isaac Newton had the same basic trajectory, though he was obviously more well regarded.) Anywho, the most common Rittenhouse Rye expression is a 100 proof whisky, which is slightly stronger than the Elijah Craig 12 (47% ABV). Too small to notice? Well, I had found this one to be more whisky forward than the EC 12. Is that a function of age (only three months?), or did these two different barrels produce genuinely different beers? I may have to risk the hangover to find out sometime.

Imperial Eclipse Stout - Heaven Hill Rittenhouse Rye

Imperial Eclipse Stout - Heaven Hill Rittenhouse Rye - Pours a dark brown, almost black color with a finger of light brown head that actually leaves a little lacing. Smells deeply of that barrel aged character, lots of whisky, oak, vanilla, a little bit of caramel, and the faintest whisper of roast. Taste is full of rich caramel, whisky, oak, and vanilla, with the roast again taking a back seat (definitely not as roasty as that Elijah Craig 12). Mouthfeel is full bodied (but not quite the monster that a lot of BA stouts can be), smooth, well carbonated, lots of richness. Overall, this is more whisky forward than the EC 12, but the balance that marks Eclipse is still in place and kicking. This is a superb beer. A

Beer Nerd Details: 9.5% ABV bottled (22 oz. waxed bomber). Drank out of a snifter on 5/18/13. Bottle No. BR 2. 2012 Vintage.

I have a couple bottles of Eclipse variants in my cellar, and one of my local beermongers still has some on the shelf too. You'll definitely be seeing more of this stuff on the blog at some point.

I covered the philosophy behind Firestone Walker's barrel program in wonky, exhaustive detail when I wrote about Firestone Walker's last Anniversary Ale, but for the uninitiated, Firestone Walker is a brewery that likes to ferment and age beers in barrels and their Anniversary Ale represents an annual tradition whereupon they invite their neighboring winemakers to the brewery to get sloshed and devise a blend of several component beers (each of which was specifically made to be blended, though FW has taken to releasing the components on their own, to much fanfare).

The XV blend heavily favored Barley Wines, and most of the component beers were aged in bourbon and/or brandy barrels. The breakdown was 76% Barley Wine style beers, 19% Stout and 5% Imperial IPA. It had a nice deep, dark amber color to it - gorgeous, delicious beer. This most recent offering's components skew a little darker:

  • 23% Velvet Merkin (8.7% ABV) Traditional Oatmeal Stout. Aged in Bourbon barrels.
  • 22.5% Stickee Monkee (12.5% ABV) English Barley Wine. Aged in Bourbon and Brandy barrels.
  • 20.3% Double Double Barrel Ale (14.2% ABV) Double Strength English Pale Ale. Aged 100% in Firestone Union Barrels.
  • 10.8% Parabola (13% ABV) Russian Imperial Oatmeal Stout. Aged in Bourbon Barrels.
  • 8.1% PNC (13.0% ABV) American Strong Buckwheat Stout. Aged in Tequila barrels.
  • 5.4% Helldorado (11.5% ABV) Blonde Barley Wine. Aged in Bourbon and Brandy Barrels.
  • 5.4% Bravo (13.4% ABV) Imperial Brown Ale. Aged in Bourbon and Brandy Barrels.
  • 4.5% Wookey Jack (8.3% ABV)- Black Rye India Pale Ale. 100% Fresh, Dank & Hoppy 100% Stainless Steel

Definitely more equitable distribution here: 53.6% Barley Wine style beers, 41.9% Stout, and 4.5% Black IPA. Even amongst the Barley Wines, the lighter colored Helldorado accounts for less. Plus, instead of Double Jack (a DIPA), we get Wookey Jack (a Black IPA - basically a hoppy stout). Also new this year is a brew aged in Tequila barrels, which is a nice twist. Alrighty then, enough nerding out on statistics, let's get down to brass tacks:

Firestone Walker XVI - Anniversary Ale

Firestone Walker XVI - Pours a very dark brown color, almost black, with a finger of tan head that leaves a little lacing as I drink. Smells of boozy bourbon, oak, vanilla, and caramel. Some char, not quite roast, is also present. A little fruitiness and dank, piney hops emerge as it warms too. Taste starts sweet with bourbon, oak, dark fruit and huge caramel notes (reminiscent of crème brulee) like a BA barleywine, with some piney, resinous hops emerging in the middle and a hint of chocolate and roast peeking in towards the boozy oak and vanilla finish. Super complex, evolves quite well as it warms. Mouthfeel is not quite as thick and chewy as expected, medium to full body, well carbonated, a hint of sweet, boozy stickiness, but still well balanced. Overall, this is fantastic beer. I'm not quite as breathless as I was when I tried XV, but this works incredibly well in its own right. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 12.5% ABV bottled (22 oz. bomber). Drank out of a snifter on 5/17/13. Bottled November 2012.

Superb stuff, like all of Firestone Walker's barrel aged beers. I've managed to snag another one of these anniversary bottles (along with some Sucaba), and I'm keeping my eyes peeled for Parabola whenever it shows up in the area (hope I didn't miss it, actually). Rumor has it that Velvet Merkin will be bottled later this year as well, which I'd really be curious to try... Firestone Walker is also upping their game, increasing their barrel capacity and even playing with wild yeasts and bacterias, etc... in their new barrel room. Will be very curious to see if next year's anniversary blend incorporates sours...

Saint Arnold Endeavour IPA

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Houston's Saint Arnold brewery has been on my radar for a while, but I missed out on them during my last trip to Texas. Fortunately, that BIF brought me a couple of their brews, including this one. Once an entry in Saint Arnold's Divine Reserve series (limited one-offs released once or twice a year), it was so popular they turned it into a year round brew.

Saint Arnold himself is the patron saint of brewers, famous for a story similar to the Marriage at Cana where Jesus turned water into wine, except Arnold took trace amounts of beer and multiplied it for starving parishioners who were running low on supplies. No one describes what that beer tasted like, but let's pretend it was a DIPA like this one:

Saint Arnold Endeavour IPA

Saint Arnold Endeavour IPA - Pours a dark golden orange color with a finger of white head that leaves some lacing as I drink. Smells a little on the dank side, lots of pine and resin, but a nice juicy citrus component hanging around too. Taste has slightly more citrus, an almost peach note, but is still very focused on pine and resin (not that that is a bad thing!) Sweet up front, some creamy crystal malt here, with the hop bitterness kicking in towards the finish and lasting through the aftertaste. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, very smooth, almost creamy, tight carbonation, sweet and a little sticky, but not cloying. Overall, above average DIPA, just barely missing the world-beater level. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 8.9% ABV bottled (22 oz. bomber). Drank out of a tulip glass on 5/17/13. Bottled 2/13/13.

I've also got me some Saint Arnold Divine Reserve 13, a quadrupel that I'm quite looking forward to. In the meantime, I've got some reviews of a couple barrel aged brews coming up. Stay tuned.

Homebrew Review: Fat Weekend IPA

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I've mentioned this beer a few times since I brewed it, but haven't really done a proper recap. Oh sure, this bottle I'm reviewing was the last bottle in existence (supr .rar 24 bottle release guize), so it's not like you'll get to try it, but as per usual, I have some minor learnings. I think. I mean, I'm no master brewer, but then, that's the point. In W3C markup validation parlance, I get 1 error, 1 warning on this batch. Fortunately, beer fails gracefully, and drinkers are like browsers in that they tend to be forgiving of minor faults. Ok, I'll stop torturing this metaphor now.

First, the error, which was that I overcarbonated the beer. Normally, with a 5 gallon batch, you just pick up a 5 ounce packet of corn sugar and go to town, but I was making a small batch here, so I had to break out the measuring cups and figure out proportions. I clearly erred on the side of too much priming sugar here. Fortunately, all that means is a wicked big head that takes forever to go away. No gushers or anything that annoying, and if you pour carefully, it actually works well enough. Plus, this should be easy to correct in future batches.

Second, the warning, which is that I should probably be more careful about sourcing my hops. In particular, I'm going to be more wary of "loose" hops. This batch came out super piney and resinous, very dank stuff. Now, I enjoy that component of Simcoe and the like, but I also tend to associate that with hops that are less fresh. For my first batch of Simcoe IPA, I had the vacuum sealed HopUnion packets, and when I cracked open my first bottle of that stuff, it had this beautiful, massive grapefruit character. As time went on, that pine character emerged more and more, eventually fading back into the malts the way unfresh IPAs do.

I don't mean to say that the hop character was poor or that this beer was an immediate malt bomb (the way unfresh hoppy beers are), but I never got that big juicy citrus component that I was shooting for. Now, I did switch up the hop schedule, adding some Falconer's Flight and Citra into the mix (with Simcoe remaining on bittering and dry hopping duty), but FF and Citra are also known for their citrus components, so I was still hoping for more there. All my hops for this batch were just in loose baggies, not vacuum sealed or anything (like you'd get from Northern Brewer or HopUnion). Also, I was definitely buying the last of the FF, and there was only a little Simcoe left (in other words, those hops had probably been in the hop fridge for a while). Again, this wasn't a disaster or anything, but it's something I'm going to keep an eye out for in the future.

In general, though, the beer seemed to go over well. It was brewed for a specific event (the eponymous Fat Weekend), and we got through the full half case (which is all I brought) pretty quickly (and I only had one). But enough rambling, let's take a closer look:

Fat Weekend IPA

Kaedrin Fat Weekend IPA - Pours a dark orange color with a big three finger fluffy, bubbly head. Smells super dank, resinous, piney, a little citrus too. Taste follows the nose, crystal malt with lots of dank, resinous, piney hop flavor, some citrus peaking out too. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, super carbonated, perhaps over-carbonated, but still very crisp and refreshing. Overall, it's a solid IPA, a little overcarbonated, and I'm getting the impression that the hops I used were not quite as fresh as I'd like, but it's still quite solid. Not quite as good as my first batch of IPA, but still a nice B level beer (borderline B+, and could have easily gone that way if I did the carbonation right)

Beer Nerd Details: 7.5% ABV bottled (12 oz). Drank out of a tulip glass on 5/11/13. Hops: Simcoe, Citra, Falconer's Flight. Bottled 2/18/13.

This, of course, reminds me that I should probably get off my arse and fire up my next batch. Planning on a saison at this point - a little scared to introduce Brett into my homebrew setup, but then Beerbecue suggested I name it Kaedrôme Saison and how can I really resist that? Can I do that without wild yeast? Maybe I can just find some strange farmhouse yeast instead of the typical 3711 or 3724 stuff...

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

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Recent Comments

  • Mark: That's what I figured after the last release (which was read more
  • rich.on.beer: Also, freaking Lansdale is only kind of sort of a read more
  • rich.on.beer: I wouldn't expect a Philly release of bottles this time. read more
  • Mark: Yeah, that's a big leap in ABV, but it's still read more
  • beerbecue: Nice. I was shocked when I saw the ABV. It's read more
  • Mark: I shouldn't complain, as I suspect my homebrewed barleywine will read more
  • rich.on.beer: Carbonation issues are pretty common with Hair of the Dog. read more
  • Mark: Good to know that I was not alone in my read more
  • beerbecue: I don't know what batch I had, but it had read more
  • Mark: I really enjoyed this one, just as much if not read more