Williamsburg Coffeehouse Stout

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I was mightily impressed by Williamsburg's bourbon forward barrel aged porter, and this Coffeehouse Stout, while perhaps not as storied, was a nice change of pace considering that I've been hitting up big, burly Imperial Stouts and Barleywines a little too consistently lately.

As I've mentioned many times before, I'm not a big coffee drinker, but I'm starting to get a taste for the stuff when it's included in beer. In this case, it's a milk stout brewed with coffee, and as Rich commented, it really does kinda lend the impression of coffee with sugar and cream (I mean, it's still clearly a beer, but this mixture of roasty beer, lactose, and coffee really seems to mix together well...) Thanks to Dave for hooking this one up for me... Check it:

Williamsburg Coffeehouse Stout

Williamsburg AleWerks Coffeehouse Stout - Pours a very dark brown color with half a finger of tan head. Smells of... yes, coffee. A little roast and a little sweetness too. Taste is full of roast, with coffee quickly showing up and doing its thing through to the finish. In fact, I feel like that coffee sorta softens the intensity of the roast, which is actually nice. There's also a character I associate with milk stouts (ah, yes, this actually is a milk stout, so that makes sense). Not a lot of bitterness here, but it's not cloying either - well balanced stuff. Mouthfeel is where this really shines - it's very smooth, velvety, creamy, again with the balance here. Overall, this is a really good coffee stout. Not being a big coffee guy, I can appreciate it, but if you're a coffee fan, you might think of this as being spectacular. Me, I'll give it a B+.

Beer Nerd Details: 5.4% ABV bottled (12 oz.) Drank out of a snifter on 4/27/13.

I'm now keeping an eye out for Café Royale, which is a souped up and barrel aged version of the Coffeehouse Stout, which I think would actually really work well.

Cigar City Jai Alai

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According to Wikipedia, the Basque Government promotes jai alai as "the fastest sport in the world because of the balls". Insert innuendo joke here. Good, glad we got that out of the way. I'm a little surprised that I haven't had this yet; I've had ample opportunities, just never pulled the trigger... which is weird, because Cigar City is one of those brewers I'm always keeping an eye out for. Well, I finally got me a can of this stuff, so lets chug a beer and ball really hard (if you're so inclined, feel free to insert whatever innuendo you want here).

Cigar City Jai Alai

Cigar City Jai Alai - Pours a deep, dark golden color with visible sediment and a finger of white head with decent retention. Smells fantastic, bright citrus, juicy pineapple, a little additional piney resin. Taste starts sweet, with some crystal malt, that citrus hop character quickly emerging and morphing into resin and pine. There's a balanced bite of bitterness in the finish and aftertaste. Mouthfeel is on the lower end of medium bodied, tightly carbonated, almost creamy but also juicy. Overall, this is one really well crafted IPA, but I feel like the bar's been set pretty high on that front. As shelf beers go, it's great, but it can't quite compete with the likes of Tired Hands or Hill Farmstead. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 7.5% ABV canned (12 oz.) Drank out of a tulip glass on 4/12/13. Canned on 15 JAN 2013.

I mentioned Tired Hands and Hill Farmstead, and I realized a while ago that part of the reason their hoppy beers are so spectacular is that I always have them when they are super fresh. The same goes for a bunch of other hop bombs, like Pliny the Younger or Hopslam. I'm not going to claim I have a great palate, but it's tough for a 3 month old can to compete with that sort of thing. I guess what I'm saying here is that I need to down a six pack of Jai Alai. You know, just to make sure. In the meantime, I've got an interesting looking Cigar City beer aged in rum barrels burning a whole in my fridge. Look for a review next week.

A few months ago, Michigan's Arcadia Ales put out a couple of big beers aged for 22 months in bourbon barrels. Rumor has it that they were Pappy Van Winkle barrels, which apparently imbues it with mystical healing powers. Or something. They had me at bourbon, but I'm easy. And to cement the deal, they waxed the bottle. Industrial grade stuff too. Had to break out the chisel and hammer, but I got there*:

Arcadia Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout

Arcadia Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout - Pours a very dark brown, almost black color with a cap of bubbly tan head that resolves into a ring that hangs around for a while. Smells strongly of bourbon, vanilla, caramel, oak. Given the nose, I'm surprised at how well the taste retains its roasty character, a little char, and don't get me wrong, lots of bourbon and booze here too. Mouthfeel has more carbonation than expected, not overcarbonated or anything, but its got a bite to it. Or maybe that's the booze, which is certainly present and potent. Overall, a very nice bourbon barrel stout. I may have rated this higher if I hadn't had that amazing barrel aged 2 Live Gran Cru beer earlier in the day. But B+ is nothing to sneeze at either, and that's where I landed on this.

Beer Nerd Details: 12% ABV bottled (12 oz. waxed). Drank out of a snifter on 4/27/13.

So I've also got a bottle of Barrel Aged Cereal Killer, a barleywine that is supposedly even better than this sucker. Review is coming soon. I just have to, you know, drink it first.

* Note to self: Don't wear an orange t-shirt whilst taking pictures of beer. Jeeze, look at that reflection.

Dock Street Devil's Double IPA

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As I slowly explore the world of trading, I find myself in the need of interesting bottles of local beer from time to time. Dock Street doesn't have a trendy reputation, but they put out solid product, and their bottle releases are low stress affairs and their last release aligned perfectly with a trade I was setting up, so I took a trip to the brewpub and picked up a couple bottles of Prince Myshkin RIS (the regular version, not the near-flat Barrel Aged one). While there, the bartender upsold me on this newly released Double IPA (yes, I'm a weak man).

Now, I've got plenty of beer to drink over here, but I've also reached a point of my beer nerdery where IPAs have to be consumed fresh. For you hopheads out there, this one's made with Simcoe, Citra, and Sorachi Ace. So let's buckle up and hope we don't get so drunk the Devil asks us to double for him, like in that horrible movie.

Dock Street Devils Double IPA

Dock Street Devil's Double IPA - Pours a cloudy dark orange color with a couple fingers of off white head, lots of lacing. Smells of big citrus and pine hops, a little resinous, and an additional hop aroma I'd call "green" (this is definitely the Sorachi Ace making itself known). Taste leans towards the east coast IPA, lots of robust crystal malt character providing a backdrop for those big hop flavors. More resinous pine than citrus, but the unique thing here is that "green" herbal character, like cilantro or dill or something (again, this is clearly the Sorachi Ace hops throwing their muscle around, holding their own with the more popular Simcoe and Citra). Mouthfeel is medium bodied, ample carbonation but very smooth. Goes down easy. Overall, a well done DIPA, reminiscent of DFH 90 Minute, though those Sorachi Ace hops differentiate it big time. An interesting change of pace from your typical DIPA. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 9% ABV bottled (750 ml capped). Drank out of a tulip glass on 4/26/13 and 4/27/13. Bottled 2/5/13 (may have been 3/5, label got cut off a bit).

So Dock Street continues a streak of solid brews that nevertheless feel a bit underachieving. That being said, I may have saved the best for last, their Flemish Red sounds pretty darn good. Will probably get to that in the coming months...

Cantillon Kriek

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There aren't many traditional lambic breweries, but Brasserie Cantillon appears to be the most well regarded of them all. Founded in 1900, very little has changed since then. There's been a few new generations of head brewers and a shift towards using certified organic ingredients, but otherwise, most of the brewery is the same as it ever was, right down to the cobwebs (which are not removed; spiders keep the area clear of flies and mosquitoes which can provoke bad infections... as opposed to the, uh, good infections they get with spontaneous fermentation).

The Kriek is an annual production. Every summer, local cherries are brought in, macerated, and placed in barrels which are then filled with aged lambic (they say it's about 1.5 years old at that point). The sugars in the cherries restarts fermentation. After another spell of aging in the barrels, the flavor (and color) of the cherries becomes integrated with the beer, which is then bottled and bottle conditioned for a few months.

This is my first Cantillon. I figured I'd start with something "basic" and work my way up from there, but damn, this stuff is amazing and totally met expectations, which were rather high. I have a feeling that hunting for Loonz will be a new favorite pastime. Now, I didn't have a coolship or Solo cup, but I think I did alright:

Cantillon Kriek

Cantillon Kriek 100% Lambic Bio - Pours a striking deep red color (robey tones, you know the drill) with a finger of pink head, decent retention too. Smells very funky, a little earthy, musty, lots of cherry, maybe even a little oak too. Taste starts sweet, with a well rounded fruity tartness emerging quickly, lots of cherry flavors mingled with a strong oak character. Absolutely delicious. Mouthfeel is highly carbonated, effervescent, crisp, and clean. Medium bodied, with some richness I'm going to associate with the oak. Not very acidic at all, though enough so that the sourness is felt. Overall, this is fantastic. Totally lives up to expectations, really beautiful beer. A

Beer Nerd Details: 5% ABV bottled (375 ml capped and corked). Drank out of a tulip glass on 4/26/13. Bottled: 1 February 2013.

Well, I have a feeling that I'm going to have to start grading Cantillon on a curve. That or I'm guessing I'll need to bust out some A+ ratings sometime soon.

Voodoo Barrel Room Collection

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Voodoo has a tiny little barrel room and recently held two releases. One out at their brewery in Meadville, PA, and one in the Philly area. The Philly area one was held yesterday, and looky at what I found:

Voodoo Barrel Room Collection

Well hello, my pretties. Gotta love the look of waxed bottles. The three small bottles are Black Magick (big stout somewhere on the order of 15% ABV) variants (one aged in Buffalo Trace barrels, one in Pappy Van Winkle barrels, and one in Laird's Apple Brandy barrels), the next three bombers are Big Black Voodoo Daddy (one of Voodoo's staple beers, a still rather large 12.5% stout) aged in the same three barrel types. And lastly, another of Voodoo's staple beers, Gran Met, a Belgian style tripel aged in Laird's Apple Brandy barrels. Supposedly, these suckers stayed in the barrels a little longer than planned as Voodoo was opening a brewpub and availability of the packaging line was maxed out.

Anywho, the Philly area release was held at the Blue Dog Tavern in Chalfont, PA (i.e. north of the city). I got there a little over an hour before opening, but while there was a sizable crowd ahead of me, I was there in plenty of time to ensure that I got a bottle of each barrel room beer (some variants only had 72 bottles available at this release). About a half hour before the doors opened, the staff passed out wristbands so that they could do a "deli-style" release - they call your number, and you go to a table to pick up your allotment. Very orderly and convenient, and it allowed me to sit at the bar and try a couple Voodoo rarities, like this beauty:

Voodoo 2 Live Gran Cru Greatest Hits - Vol. 1

They call this stuff 2 Live Gran Cru Greatest Hits - Vol. 1, a blend of Big Black Voodoo Daddy and Black Magick aged in Pappy Van Winkle barrels for 15 months. Don't mind if I do. Massive bourbon and oak in both the nose and taste, but plenty of malt to balance that out, leading to that great caramel, vanilla, and oak character I love so much. Clocking in at 13% ABV, it's got a pretty big boozy component too. Big, chewy stuff, smooth with a big boozy bite. Fantastic stuff, and hopefully an omen of what those bottles will taste like. It was a small sample, but I'll give it an A- for now...

My cellar is getting crowded again, and I've even got more stuff coming. It's going to be a fun summer.

April Beer Club

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In the Beer Justice System the people are represented by two separate, yet equally important groups. The drinkers who investigate crime and the District Attorneys who prosecute the offenders. They meet once a month at a local BYOB to sample beers. These are their stories:

beerclub-april13.jpg

The following notes, compiled by our resident stenographer, should be taken with a grain of salt as I'm pretty sure the stenographer was also drunk (as evidence, well, the stenographer was me). In order of drinking (not in order of picture, and sadly, we didn't get to all beers in the picture either):

  • Starr Hill The Love - A pretty straightforward but enjoyable hefeweizen. Super carbonated, overwhelming head, but a nice banana/clove weizen yeast character, highly drinkable stuff. B
  • The Captain's Brew House All American - This is actually a buddy's homebrew, and I arrived a bit late, so I only really got to try the yeasty dregs of the bottle, but it seemed pretty darn good - easily the equal of the previous beer. Would like to try it fresh sometime. Still, truly a beer worthy of Captain America (i.e. the namesake of my buddy's home brewery).
  • Ommegang Hennepin - You know, I've mentioned this beer numerous times on the blog, but I've never actually reviewed it. It's a really nice beer, one of my favorites, the beer that introduced me to the world of good beer. Nice Belgian yeast character, light, crisp, refreshing, quaffable stuff. I might be into chasing more funky varieties of saison these days, but it's always fun to revisit this beer and it holds a special place in my heart. A
  • Ommegang Rare Vos - The slightly maltier sibling of Hennepin, I also love this beer (which, yes, I've actually reviewed before), one of those beers that is also probably impacted by nostalgia for me, but it's just as good as ever. A
  • The Captain's Brew House Shameless IPA - Another homebrew, this one is actually a Northern Brewer Dead Ringer. It was very good, with a big malt backbone, but also a nice hop character. I'm not a huge fan of centennial single hopped IPAs, but this one was solid.
  • Kaedrin Dubbel - My homebrewed dubbel continues to evolve, with an almost coffee-like character emerging right now (but not straight coffee, and not really a roast either, somewhere perhaps between those flavors). It's actually quite interesting. I'll be interested in trying this again in isolation, as beer club isn't exactly the best setting for my palate!
  • Trappistes Rochefort 8 - Truly a classic beer, one of my favorites of all time. Previously reviewed.
  • Boulevard Collaboration No. 3 - Stingo - A collaboration with Kaedrin favorite Pretty Things, this one goes a more English route, though it's souped up a bit more than that might lead you to believe. Nice subtle hints of breadiness and toffee with maybe a hint of dark chocolate. Didn't really strike a big chord with me, but it was certainly a well made beer. B
  • Starr Hill Double Platinum - A solid, if a bit boozy DIPA. Nice hop character, but the booze was more prominent than I expected for an 8.5% ABV beer. It was probably a little warmer than it should have been, but I'll leave it at a B for now.
  • Lost Abbey Red Poppy - Another of my contributions for the night, this is still a spectacular beer, and made a lot of waves with the attendees, even folks who don't normally go in for "beer". Previously reviewed, and still an A in my book.
  • Firestone Walker §ucaba - Very generously contributed by Kaedrin friend Dana (she's not a huge bourbon fan, but knows that some of us other beer club members are), this sucker is as good as ever. Previously rated and still an A in my book.
And that just about wraps up this episode of Law & Order & Beer. Fortunately, all As and Bs, so no District Attorneys needed. See you next month.

Clown Shoes Blaecorn Unidragon

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I give Clown Shoes guff for their lame marketing gimmickry and controversy, stuff like brewing a beer with Holy Water or mounting a half-hearted Presidential campaign (they chose "beer" as their running mate), but it's what's inside the bottle that counts. Unfortunately, the only beer they've made that really raised my eyebrows was Third Party Candidate... a collaboration with another brewery. Let's give them another chance, shall we?

Here we've got a big 12.5% ABV imperial stout. No gimmickry, no controversy, just a big beer with a quasi-portmanteau name coming from Black Unicorn mixed with Soul Dragon and a label that's actually respectable. Lets strap those clown shoes on and start this party:

Clown Shoes Blaecorn Unidragon

Clown Shoes Blaecorn Unidragon - Pours a deep dark brown color with a finger of light tan head. Smells like dessert; brown sugar, caramel, vanilla, chocolate, and a little roast. Really fantastic nose. Taste starts off with that roast character asserting itself right away, then softening into rich caramel and chocolate before the roast returns in the finish. Some hop character emerges in the finish too, a bitter balance to the big malts. Not quite as delicious as the nose had lead me to believe, but solid. Mouthfeel is full bodied, rich, and a little chewy. Definitely a big beer, but it doesn't feel like a 12.5% monster either, not really much in the way of booziness at all. Perhaps because it's more of a sipper. Not exactly easy to drink, but for all the right reasons. Overall, a really solid RIS, and I liked it better than Vampire Slayer. It hasn't opened my third eye and brought about true enlightenment, but perhaps that is setting the bar too high. This is really nice anyway. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 12.5% ABV bottled (22 oz. bomber). Drank out of a snifter on 4/20/13. Bottled 3/2012.

Again, this is a solid beer; consider my eyebrows mildly elevated, enough that I'd like to check out a couple more of their beers (that Porcine Unidragon sounds nice), but on the other hand, Clown Shoes doesn't really excite me too much either...

Drie Fonteinen Oude Geuze

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Ever since Oude Gueuze Tilquin made a believer out of me, I've been on the lookout for more lambics, with a keen eye to acquire some Cantillon and Drie Fonteinen (aka 3 Fonteinen, which I guess means 3 Fountains or somesuch). These are both classic lambic breweries that have experienced an explosion in demand while not really being able to increase production all that much. It doesn't help that something like an Oude Geuze takes at least 3 years to produce, not to mention other concerns (Cantillon, for instance, has pretty much maxed out capacity, and given the exigency of spontaneous fermenation, they can't just open a new brewery somewhere). Drie Fonteinen seems to be the easier to acquire of the two, but I still haven't seen any of it around in the past half a year or so. I finally broke down and ordered some direct from the source. This cost a pretty penny, but from what I understand, there've been issues with people charging outrageous prices for this stuff, so it was probably worth it (thanks to Rich for the link).

What we've got here is the "basic" Oude Geuze. Scare quotes because while 3 Fonteinen has their fair share of one-offs and rarities, this is still a blend of 3 year old, 2 year old, and 1 year old lambic, which is no joke to the tune of being a top 100 baller on BA. I've got fancier stuff stashed away for later, but let's not get too carried away. Here goes:

Drie Fonteinen Oude Geuze

Drie Fonteinen Oude Geuze - Pours a deep golden color with half a finger of white, bubbly head. Smells of twangy funk and oak. Taste has lots of that funky Brett character, a pleasant sourness, and lots of oak too. Well balanced flavors here, with no component overpowering the other. It also evolves well as it warms. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, plenty of carbonation though it does seem a little light for the style. Has a more winelike character than I'm used to. Not that that's bad. Overall, I could get used to these Oud Geuze things. I don't like this as much as the aforementioned Tilquin, but I'll still plant a firm A- on this sucker.

Beer Nerd Details: 6% ABV bottled (750 ml caged and corked). Drank out of a Cantillon Gueze tumbler on 4/19/13. Label sez: bottled on 21/12/2011. Good until 21/12/2021.

Up next in my summer of lambic will be some sort of Cantillon (probably the Kriek), but I've got a bottle of 3 Fonteinen Golden Blend that is just begging to be opened.

Dock Street Man Full Of Funk Porter

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This one's going to live up to its name, so stay frosty folks: Dock Street describes this as a "Vatted porter blended with a small dose of Prince Myshkin Russian Imperial Stout. Aged in an Apple Brandy barrel for 3.5 years with brettanomyces and Cantillon wild yeasts!" So yes, this is certainly full of funk, both figuratively and literally. Lets see if all that funk translates to greatness:

Dock Street Man Full Of Funk Porter

Dock Street Man Full Of Funk Porter - Pours a dark brown, almost black color with a finger of big bubbled tan head that actually has decent retention. Nose is filled with funk and that twang that indicates sourness, quite nice, actually. Taste is less funky than the nose would have you believe, only a very light sourness, just a little oak, but enough that the roasty, toasty porter flavors don't really overpower the taste either. There's a slight vinous character that works well enough here, but isn't super prominent. Mouthfeel is medium to full bodied, with low carbonation, but nowhere near flat(definitely much more here than in the BA RIS or Barleywine, though it's still low overall). This has a sorta muted flavor profile, but it's also well balanced. Overall, a solid beer, not something that is going to weaken the knees, but really nice. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 8% ABV bottled (750 ml capped). Drank out of a tulip glass on 4/13/13. Bottled 9/23/12.

Not quite the sour funk bomb that I was expecting, but really good, probably my favorite of their barrel aged treatments, but only because it had mildly appropriate carbonation (that BA Prince Myshkin would have been perfect if it wasn't almost completely still) and I still have one more to try (a Flemish Red, which actually has a pretty good reputation). Speaking of Dock Street, they're doing another bottle release on Saturday and I plan to pick up at least a couple bottles, so this Dock Street train will continue on.

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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.

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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