Allagash Bourbon Barrel Black

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I'm not that big of a fan of Allagash Black, a Belgian-style stout that sorta mashes up stouts with Belgian Strong Darks... and makes me wish I had one or the other. Don't get me wrong, it's a fine beer, but not one of head-exploding glory like I expect from a brewer of Allagash's caliber. The solution to this conundrum? Put it in old Jim Beam bourbon barrels, of course! Alas, that treatment doesn't seem to have done much to improve my feelings on the beer:

Allagash Bourbon Barrel Black

Allagash Bourbon Barrel Black - Apologies for the craptacular picture (It was dark!) Pours a black color with a couple fingers of light brown head that puffed up higher than the lips of the glass. Not picking up a ton in the nose (stupid overflowing glass), but a little musty roast and a hint of bourbon are there. Taste has lots of those roasted malts and plenty of boozy bourbon. There's some complexities emerging as I drink, but it all feels a little sloppy. Mouthfeel is less carbonated than regular black; a little richer and creamier, but also much boozier. This isn't quite as balanced as I'd like. I'd gladly drink more of this, but it's a little disappointing and messy. B

Beer Nerd Details: 10% ABV on tap. Drank out of a snifter on 8/17/12.

Well, I guess they can't all be winners (in terms of both Allagash and bourbon barrel beers), but it's not like this one was horrible either. I'm always looking forward to new Allagash specialties and lord knows I can't resist bourbon barrel aged beers...

Russian River Row 2/Hill 56

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One of the driving forces behind this blog is the wanton violation of the Constitution of the United States. Don't get me wrong, I'm overall a pretty big fan of that document, but Amendment XXI, Section 2 can kiss my ass. It says you can't transport "intoxicating liquors" across state lines. Given the PLCB's ridiculous stance on single bottle sales in PA (i.e. you have to buy full cases1), it's pretty much required for a beer nerd in my area to become a scofflaw. In addition to this, I giddily smuggled beer back to PA on a flight back from Texas last year.

And now I've added another felony to my repertoire: the vaunted beer trade. Jay, from the most excellent Beer Samizdat blog2, proposed a swap of ungettables from the opposite coast. And thus I came into the possession of West Coast rarities the likes of which us East Coasters drool over3. Er, sorry, don't mean to rub it in, but it was exciting. And I'm not sharing.

As it was my first time, I was a little nervous about shipping mishaps4, but fortunately, I had plenty of bubble wrap securely fastened around all the bottles I sent, so no bottle explosions in transit or knocks at the front door by the FBI (I can just picture them now, in their black suits, holding a dripping box, frowning... saying "Is this yours?" while their partner pulls out the hand cuffs). Jay, being more experienced on this front, sent his in a fortress of seemingly indestructible styrofoam. Anywho, this is all by way of saying that you're going to see some reviews of West Coast mind blowers in the near future.

Like this beer, from one of our nation's most amazing breweries, Russian River. It's the first in a line of beers they're calling "The Hop Grower's Tribute Series", and in this case, they're honoring the three farms that grow Simcoe hops. It's named after the location in the experimental hop yard where Simcoe was born, and is it just me, or should there be more than 3 farms growing these prized hops? If the prices for Simcoe at the homebrew shop are any indication, I think there are some farmers that could stand to make a pretty penny by stepping up production.

I've never actually seen a bottle of Pliny or even Blind Pig, but it looks like the label's got the trademark Russian River disclaimers pleading with you to drink the beer as soon as possible, least the hop character fade (as they tend to do with time). "This beer is not meant to be aged! Age your cheese, not the beer inside this bottle! Keep cold, drink fresh, do not age! Consume Fresh, or not at all! Respect hops, consume this beer fresh! Keep away from heat! This beer does not get better with age! Please do not age me!" They won't shut up about it, but then, they're probably right. And in any case, Russian River beers tend not to last long in my house. This stuff was gone just a few short days after I received it:

Russian River Row 2 Hill 56

Russian River Row 2/Hill 56 - Pours a bright golden color with a finger of quickly disappearing, fluffy head. Smells of bright grapefruit and a little bit of pine, pure Simcoe gold. The taste is less sweet than I'd expect, with a bracing bitterness that hits quite quickly and intensifies through the taste. Pine comes out more as a flavor here than in the nose, along with a sorta herbalness I associate with Cascades (which makes sense, since Simcoe is descended from Cascade). Mouthfeel is light, smooth, quaffable, but with a pleasant hoppy bite and a nice dry finish. Man, this thing goes down easy. A fantastic summer beer, perfect for quenching thirst after a long day/week in the office. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 5.8% ABV bottled (510 ml). Drank out of a tulip glass on 8/17/12. Bottled on 6/26/12.

At this point, I think I've had everything Russian River has made available in PA (including the likes of Pliny the Younger and a bunch of their mildly rare sours), but it's nice to know that I may be able to get my hands on stuff like this in the future. Thanks Jay!

1 - There is a loophole to the case law that says that restaurants (or some sort of eating establishments) can sell singles, so the case law isn't as annoying as it used to be. I was surprised when I recently walked into a new local place that's purely a bottle shop - I asked the guy working there how he got around the case law, and he pointed to the back of the place. Tucked away in the corner was one of them hot dog machines that rolls the hot dogs. I suspect they don't sell many of those things. Even grocery stores are getting into the act these days, and one local beer distributer seems to just be throwing caution to the wind and selling singles illegally. I say good on them!

2 - I suspect most of my readers are already familiar with Beer Samizdat, but it's an excellent blog and Jay's been posting up a storm of late, so be sure to check it out.

3 - Jay seems pleased with his haul too. I won't spoil the trade, but I'm sure you'll see a few of them show up on his blog in the near future too (like this one)

4 - Definitely illegal to ship via USPS, so third parties it was. Thanks to my lazy habit of never throwing out boxes, I had plenty of bubble wrap laying around (I used at least 3 or 4 different varieties), and did my best. Still, I was a little nervous, but as it turns out, bottles aren't that fragile.

Central Waters Bourbon Barrel Barleywine

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So here we go, tapping that hotbed of beery goodness, Wisconsin. In all seriousness, these Central Waters folks have quite the reputation, most especially for their bourbon barrel stuff, which, you know, goes a long way here at Kaedrin. They're also apparently one of them green-powered eco-hippie breweries. My eyes kinda glaze over when I read stuff about that, but from what I gather, the fine folks of Central Waters have invented a race of solar-powered, sentient robots to do all the brewing. The people of Wisconsin are quite industrious and may indeed be architects of the robopocalypse. That, or I have poor reading comprehension. Anywho, let's drink some beer:

Central Waters Bourbon Barrel Barleywine

Central Waters Bourbon Barrel Barleywine - Pours a deep amber color with minimal, whitish head. Smells full of bourbon and caramel, with heaping helpings of vanilla and oak. The taste follows the nose pretty well - tons of rich caramel malt flavors, lots of intense, boozy bourbon, along with a little well-rounded vanilla and oak. Some fruity notes open up as it warms. Very sweet, but not quite cloying. Mouthfeel is full bodied, thick, a little light on the carbonation (though not too light at all), a bit of sticky booze in the finish, and a pronounced warming effect from the 11.5% ABV. Overall, pretty much everything you could want from a bourbon-barrel aged barleywine. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 11.5% ABV bottled (12 oz.) Drank out of a snifter on 8/11/12. Bottled in January 2012.

Nice first impression of the solar-powered wizards from Wisconsin, definitely hoping to get my hands on more of their stuff.

Neshaminy Creek Leon

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Continuing a look at the tiny new breweries in my area, I stopped by Neshaminy Creek Brewing Company this past weekend. Another homebrewer turned pro story here, Neshaminy Creek opened doors in early June (coinciding with Philly Beer Week, which seems to be the trend for these local breweries) and has slowly been making a name for themselves.

Neshaminy Creek tank board

They've got a couple standards in their lineup, including the County Line IPA, which is nice, lightly hoppy with a bigger malt character than expected (this winds up being a good thing in a market full of "hop it til it's nasty" beers). I also sampled their Croydon Cream Ale, a nice, light lawnmower beer. Not really my style, but it was tasty and much better than typical light lager fare. Their Tribute Tripel just might be my favorite of their brews, a great take on the style. Filled with fruity esters, sweetness, and plenty of spice from the yeast (clove), it comes off as being well balanced, but still big and delicious, just like a Tripel should be (in the B+ to A- range of my ratings, I think). According to their tank board (pictured above), they've got some sort of Hefeweizen coming too.

But the beer that everyone's talking about is Leon... also known as the 'Smore beer. Yep, it's an imperial stout brewed with baker's chocolate, marshmallow fluff, and crumbled graham crackers. They've made a couple of test batches of the stuff, but it turns out that what I got was the first full batch (and probably the last we'll see of it this year - big beers like this tend to use up an inordinate amount of resources for small breweries). Knowing I wanted a closer look at this one, I got a growler of it and have been sipping my way through it for most of the weekend. At 11.6% ABV, it's big and burly, but the alcohol is pretty well hidden. Ah well, there goes my glycemic index. Let's take a closer look:

Neshaminy Creek Leon

Neshaminy Creek Leon - Pours a deep, dark black color with a finger of dense tan head. Nice retention too, plenty of lacing as I drink. Smells strongly of chalky roasted malts, maybe some coffee character, but also a sorta light sweetness in the nose as well. Taste is again dominated by those roasted malts, coffee flavors, and maybe just a hint of dark chocolate. Nowhere near as sweet as I'd expect, but it's not super bitter either. As it warms (or perhaps as my palate adjusts to the roastiness), the coffee goes away and chocolate emerges more. I have to admit, I don't get any real 'smore flavor here, but that don't mean it's not good. I know it's obnoxious to tell a brewer stuff like this, but for a smore beer, I'd love to get more in the way of caramelized sugar flavors and less in the way of roastiness. Mouthfeel is heavy, but smooth, with plenty of tight carbonation. It's a sipper to be sure, but the booze isn't as pronounced as I'd expect in a 11.6% ABV beer. Very well hidden. Overall, a solid imperial stout. Not quite the beer I was looking for, but I'm sure it will make stout fanatics happy... B

Beer Nerd Details: 11.6% ABV from growler. Drank out of a snifter on 8/25/12. Beer was apparently kegged on 8/24/12, so it's about as fresh as possible.

I'm curious to see how Leon evolves over time. According to the brewer, this one came in a little lighter than their test batches, and they've also reserved a bunch to age in Bourbon barrels. This excites me to no end, as bourbon barrel aging tends to temper the big roast and coffee flavors in a beer like this while adding a touch of sweetness and complexity from the oak. This sounds quite exciting. Otherwise, I'm going to be on the lookout for their Tribute Tripel, which I think was my favorite of their beers. While I was there, I heard talk of wild yeast and other barrel aging stuff, which sounds exciting. They're mostly only on tap right now, but I believe they do some limited bottling of their brews too. Definitely a brewery to keep an eye on...

Full Pint Chinookie IPA

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No Limp Bizkit1 references here. This blog is classy. Sorta.

My assumption was that the name of this beer was a reference to Chinook hops and that this would be one of them highfalutin single-hop experiment glorifying this particular varietal. However, upon closer inspection of the bottle's beer nerd stats, it appears that Chinook is but one of four hops. Perhaps this is for the best. I've never used Chinook before, but from everything I've read, it's got an intense bitterness and overpowering flavor profile (apparently very piney and resiny). This beer apparently had four hop additions along with some dry hopping, so let's see how it turned out:

Full Pint Chinookie IPA

Full Pint Chinookie IPA - Pours a cloudy, darkish orange color with a finger of tight white head and some lacing as I drink. Smells of equal parts citrus and pine, with a heaping helping of floral hop notes as well. Taste has a nice balance between sweetness and bitterness, there's a definite but small presence of crystal malts, and while the hop flavors (roughly matching the composition of the aromas) are light, there's certainly enough to make this an interesting brew. Mouthfeel is light to medium bodied, with ample tight carbonation, and a dry finish. Overall, a solid IPA that'd probably make a nice go-to for the locals in Pittsburgh. It's not a remarkable beer, but it works. B

Beer Nerd Details: 6.2% ABV bottled (12 oz.) Drank out of a tulip glass on 8/11/12. Hops: Magnum, Warrior, Chinook, and Centennial. IBUs: 103.1. Lot 210, best by Feb 2013.

Full Pint continues to be an interesting PA brewery (Pittsburgh area, if I remember correctly) - Rye Rebellion was quite a solid entry, and there are plenty of other beers on their roster that I'd like to check out.

1 - True story: I booed Limp Bizkit off stage once (they were opening for Faith No More, a band I actually like). Not, you know, by myself, but as a willing participant. We didn't have torches and pitchforks, but we got the job done. It was a proud moment.

Founders Frangelic Mountain Brown

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I'm beginning to think I'm a fraud. I keep saying that I don't like coffee flavors in my beer, but then I rave on and on about weasel poop coffee beer, or Founders' Imperial Stout, or their vaunted KBS. The coffee just keeps coming, and I'm lapping it up. I should just admit that my conversion to the dark side of beer is complete. I've searched my feelings; I know it to be true.

And here's yet another example. At a recent tap takeover, I got me an extra helping of KBS (yum), then hopped on the Frangelic Mountain Brown train (this ordering is a bit unfortunate, as KBS is a bit of a monster, but this seemed to be the order in which everyone at the bar went in...) I didn't really know much about it other than that it was one of Founders' Backstage Series beers - stuff they used to only release on tap in their brewpub in Michigan, but that they now bottle in limited quantities, thus attracting the ebay vampires in search of arbitrage. When Canadian Breakfast Stout came out, there were tales of derring-do and elaborate heists as beer nerds strained their nerditivity to ge their hands on a bottle. Now, folks do seem to be enjoying Frangelic Mountain Brown, but it doesn't quite have the insane hype surrounding it that something like CBS had. This is probably a good thing, and despite it's coffee based nature, I gave it a shot:

Founders Frangelic Mountain Brown

Founders Frangelic Mountain Brown - Pours a dark brown color with beautiful amber highlights and a couple fingers of tan head. Smells of freshly ground coffee. When I was growing up, my dad used to use hazelnut flavored cream in his coffee, and that's what this reminds me of (and, of course, I found out that they used hazelnut flavored coffee in this beer after the fact, confirming that I was not crazy). Taste is similar - tons of coffee. Not like people normally talk about coffee in beer though, and certainly nothing like Founders' other coffee-centric stouts. Perhaps it's a distinct lack of roastiness that differentiates this... It's sweeter and smoother around the edges, nowhere near as bitter or roasty (though both components are there). Mouthfeel is medium bodied, but it goes down easy and is quite smooth. Overall, an exceedingly interesting beer! Probably not something I'd want to hit up often, but I'm really happy I got to try some. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 9% ABV on tap. Drank out of a tulip glass on 7/31/12.

Despite what I said in the opening paragraph, I still don't think of myself as loving coffee-based beer. But perhaps brewers like Founders and Mikkeller have earned a pass when it comes to this stuff. Maybe I'll even get my hands on some CBS next year. Or not. I might be willing to participate in some light shenanigans to get a bottle, but no tragic or sad shenanigans. That's where I draw the line. What was I talking about again? I should stop writing now.

Stone Ruination Tenth Anniversary IPA

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I had originally planned to pick up a bottle of regular ol' Stone Ruination to compare with this beer, brewed in honor of the tenth anniversary of Ruination, but I never got around to it and I wanted to make sure I drank this thing fresh. It's been at least a couple years since my last Ruination, but my recollection is that it's hopped to high heaven, with an impressive and intense bitterness. I remember a friend saying something like "They call it Ruination because it will totally ruin your palate!" This was said approvingly, and as the years have gone on, I've certainly become more and more of a hophead. Ruination was one of the defining Douple IPAs of its era, certainly not the first, but one of the most popular. For its tenth anniversary, Stone amped up the strength to a whopping 10.8%... and apparently doubled the amount of hops used in the recipe. Well, I guess I don't need this enamel on my teeth anyway, let's crack this thing open:

Stone Ruination Tenth Anniversary IPA

Stone Ruination Tenth Anniversary IPA - Pours a hazy, darkish pale orange color with a finger of tight beaded head that's leaving plenty of lacing as I drink. Smells strongly of juicy, fruity, and floral hops, maybe a hint of pine, and lots of sugary sweetness in the nose too. Taste starts sweet, with a massive blast of hop flavors emerging in the middle and intensifying through the finish, which is quite bitter and surprisingly dry for such a big beer. The hop flavors strike me as having a profile that is unique to Stone - I feel like I could pick this out of a lineup, whereas a lot of other IPAs, even world-class stuff, doesn't feel that distinctive. There's tons of citrus, a little pine, but also something floral and almost spicy that's asserting itself. Again, this flavor profile is something I feel like we get from Stone a lot - Kaedrin friend and beverage compatriot Padraic would call it the "hop it til it's nasty" effect (though I wouldn't say it's nasty, I rather like it). Mouthfeel is medium bodied, amply but tightly carbonated, and surprisingly dry for such a huge beer (it's not super-dry or anything, but I was expecting something boozier and stickier in the finish and was pleasantly surprised at how well this one avoided those pitfalls). Overall, extremely well crafted beer, perhaps a bit too extreme for frequent drinking, but hell, this stuff won't be around much longer, so I may even pick up another. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 10.8% ABV bottled (22 oz. bomber). Drank out of a snifter on 8/10/12.

I can't say as though I loved it as much as the Beer Rover, but it's another solid entry from Stone, as per usual. I still may need to pick up a regular bottle of Ruination at some point and review it, but I'm pretty well overstocked at the moment, so I think it's time to drink down the cellar again. Speaking of whittling stuff down, I'm officially less than 2 weeks behind on my reviews at this point. No danger of running out of things to post about or anything, but for a while, I was over a month behind, which was just silly.

Swing and a Miss

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Sometimes I'm a little dismayed at how often I rate things a B+ or higher. Ratings are ultimately a fickle, subjective thing, but lately, it seems like I've been handing out an awful lot of A- scores. I'm still pretty strict with the A and A+ ratings (maybe even too strict when it comes to that most hallowed of rating), though I certainly encounter my fair share of those as well. Conversely, it's pretty rare that a beer ever gets anything in the C range, let alone lower.

Now, obviously I don't go out of my way to drink bad beers or things I know I won't like, but I also don't want to succumb to the hype machine or get locked into poor heuristics. So when I encounter a beer that I assume I'll love, but don't, I'm actually a little reassured. I mean, it sucks, but they can't all be home runs. So here's a couple beers I was very disappointed with recently.

Boulevard Double Wide IPA

Boulevard Double Wide IPA - I kept hearing good things about about these Boulevard Smokestack Series beers, so on a recent beer hunt, I picked up a couple. Pours a golden amber color with tons of fluffy head. Smells of big, juicy American hops, plenty of citrus and pine. Taste also smacks of citrus and pine hops, with a well matched malt backbone and a bitter finish. Actually, that finish also has a bit of a boozy bite to it too. It's not huge, but it definitely detracts from the experience... The mouthfeel is highly carbonated with a medium body and plenty of that booze. Overall, a rather straightforward DIPA, but far from world beater. It's not bad, per say, and I'm sure I would enjoy sucking a few of these back, but it's not something I'd ever really go out of my way for. B

Beer Nerd Details: 8.5% ABV bottled (12 oz.) Drank out of a tulip glass on 8/4/12. Bottle sez: Best By 01/27/13.

Not a terrible first at bat for Boulevard, but not a particularly impressive one either. On my scale, it's not that hard to get to that B+ rating with a DIPA. I've got their Sixth Glass quad sitting around too, so we'll see what that one does for me.

Dolii Raptor

Birrificio Montegioco Dolii Raptor - Calvados Barrel Aged - If you read this blog, you know my affinity for barrel aged beers. This one, a Belgian style aged in Calvados (apple brandy) barrels made by one of them up-and-coming Italian craft brewers seemed right up my alley. Plus, look at the cute little raptor on the bottle. Who doesn't love raptors? Alas, it was not to be: Pours a pale orangish brown color with minimal head. Smells of barrel aged booze (obviously the Calvados coming through), with perhaps some musty, funky Belgian yeast as well. There is, perhaps, a hint of a sour twang in the nose, and that hint of funk appears in the taste as well. It's not that pronounced, which makes me wonder if it was intentional. The taste is sweet and very boozy, presumably due to the Calvados aging. The twangy tartness becomes a little more prominent as I drink, and not in a particularly good way. Mouthfeel is surprisingly light for such a beer, reasonably well carbonated to start, but fading off into slickness in the finish. This beer feels a little... sloppy and unbalanced. There's definitely some sort of infection going on here. Some brewers do this intentionally with their barrel aged stuff, but let's just say that these guys ain't no Vinnie Cilurzo. Somehow, I'd rather drink this than most macros, but that's a pretty low bar to clear. I finished the bottle, but I wasn't too happy about it. C-

Beer Nerd Details: 8.5% ABV bottled (11.2 oz.) Drank out of a snifter on 8/4/12. Bottle sez: Brewed in 2009 (so perhaps this was just past its shelf life?)

Yeah, so let's just say that 8/4 wasn't the most exciting of nights for me when it came to my beer selection. I did have a second bottle of Dolii Raptor that was apparently aged in different kinds of barrels, but it was pretty much the same thing. Maybe a little more sour, but just as sloppy and unbalanced. I'm not really sure what the difference really was - Beer Advocate has one classed as a Belgian Strong Dark, and the other as Belgian Strong Pale, but they were pretty much identical in appearance. So who the heck knows with those things. Not a particularly good first impression of the nascent Italian craft brewing scene, though obviously I can't hold a single example up as indicative of the whole movement. I'm sure I'll try a few others soon enough...

Anywho, don't you worry about me. I'll be back to posting A-level scortchers in no time.

A Trip to Tired Hands Brewing

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Tired Hands is the brainchild of Jean Broillet IV and his wife Julie Foster. Jean began as a homebrewer, but quickly turned professional, starting at Weyerbacher Brewing Company where he learned the ins-and-outs of the brewing business. Eventually he moved on to the Iron Hill Brewpub in West Chester, PA (just down the road from me) and it was there that he fell in love with the brewpub model. After several years, he set plans in motion for his own brewpub, eventually landing in Ardmore, PA.

Tired Hands Logo

The greater Philadelphia area is home to numerous breweries, but few seem to inflame the passions of the Beer Advocate set (this isn't to say they're not any good, but that's a topic for another post). Tired Hands looks to be a local brewery that will join the rarified few that amaze beer dorks like myself. Drawing inspiration from the farmhouse brewers of France and Belgium and the heavy handed hop-heads of the US, Tired Hands has already made a splash, just a few short months after opening their doors in June, 2012. Just to give you an idea of how well their launch has gone, they've already collaborated with the insanely popular Hill Farmstead on a couple of beers, which naturally brought many beer nerds to attention (the first time I heard of Tired Hands was at the Hill Farmstead event during Philly Beer Week). Being a fool (or perhaps just because my liver wasn't up to the task), I didn't get to try that collaboration.

But all is not lost, as they're a reasonable hop and skip away, and I've lately thought it would be interesting to take a look at the smaller brewers of the area. And Tired Hands is indeed quite tiny, focusing on small batch brews (their website sez they make twelve-keg batches) and uber-local foodstuffs. It's not quite a full-blown restaurant, but they offer a nice selection of fresh baked bread, local artisanal cheeses, and charcuterie. Which, quite frankly, is enough for me!

Duck Prosciutto
Duck Prosciutto

But what about the beer? I hear you, dear reader, so let's do this thing:

Tired Hands Single Hop Saison (Simcoe)

Tired Hands Single Hop, Saison (Simcoe) - As if saisons couldn't get more weird, here we have a traditional sweet and spicy saison liberally hopped with juicy American Simcoe varietals. Pours a cloudy, bright straw yellow with two fingers of pillowy head. Smell is full of piney simcoe and some fruity citrus, with a tiny, spicy Belgian yeast influence. Taste starts sweet and spicy (white pepper?), like a proper Saison, but then that simcoe pine and citrus hits, leading into a very dry, bitter finish. As it warms up, the Simcoe undergoes a bit of a transformation, with an herbal earthiness emerging into the fray. Mouthfeel is lightly carbonated, a little spicy kick, but ultimately smooth and compulsively drinkable. Overall, this is a superb blending of styles that I wouldn't have expected to work anywhere near this well. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 5% ABV on tap (8 oz). Drank out of a wine glass on 8/18/12.

One of the nice things they do at Tired Hands is allow you to get small 4 ounce samplers, which allowed me to get a much broader view of their available brews. Of course, I'm sure there are some beer nerds who will scoff at 4 ounces being enough beer with which to judge, so I guess take it with a grain of salt. For me, 4 ounces is probably the minimum amount, but enough. Whatevers, let's drink some beers:

Tired Hands Borage Saison and Hop-A-Tact IPA

Tired Hands Hop-A-Tact (glass on the right) - Pours a copper color with a finger of head. Smells of bright fruity hops, some pine, and some sort of malt that I can't quite place. Taste also has that mysterious malt character (looking at their site after the fact, I see that this is brewed with oats, Victory malt, and a touch of black wheat malt - hardly typical IPA material) along with plenty of citrus and pine from the hops and a light bitterness in the finish. Straightforward medium body mouthfeel, not quite quaffable, but it goes down easy enough. Overall, a very solid,interesting take on the IPA, if not quite a face melter. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 7% ABV on tap (4 oz). Drank out of a mini-pint glass thingy on 8/18/12.

Borage Saison (glass on the left) - I've never heard of Borage before, but hey, why not brew a saison with mystery herbs? Pours a bright, cloudy yellow color with a finger of white head. Smells of spicy, peppery Belgian yeast, with a hint of light fruit and herbs. Taste starts sweet and spicy before drying out as the taste proceeds. Hints of fruit and herbs emerge too. Mouthfeel is smooth with a little bit of a spicy bite. Overall a very nice, complex take on a more straightforward Saison style. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 7% ABV on tap (4 oz). Drank out of a mini-pint glass thingy on 8/18/12.

Tired Hands Mysterious Mood

Tired Hands Mysterious Mood - Fermented and aged in old Chaddsford Winery barrels which, apparently, had contracted a small Brettanomyces infection. Music to a farmhous brewers ears. This one pours a slightly darker yellow than the other saisons, with a finger of light colored head. Smells of funk with just a hint of sour twang. Taste starts sweet, light spice, followed by a heaping helping of funk and some light sour twangyness. Mouthfeel is lightly carbonated and smooth. Overall a very nice take on a funky saison. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 5.1% ABV on tap (4 oz). Drank out of a mini-pint glass thingy on 8/18/12.

Tired Hands Deuce

Tired Hands Deuce - A "Corn based hoppy brown ale", whatever that means. Pours a medium brown color (a bit light for something described as a brown ale) with a small, light colored, creamy head. Smells lightly hoppy, citrusy, some darkish malt (not roasty or anything like that, but not quite a brown ale either). Taste is sweet, with those darkish malts and nice citrus hop flavors without the bitterness. Mouthfeel is smooth, goes down easy, medium bodied. Overall a solid beer, but it's kinda struggling to find its identity. It kinda goes in a few different directions without really coming together. That being said, it's certainly an interesting effort and it went down easy enough, so there's that... B

Beer Nerd Details: 7.1% ABV on tap (4 oz). Drank out of a mini-pint glass thingy on 8/18/12.

Well, I can certainly see Tired Hands becoming one of my go-to local joints. I think they've done some limited bottling before, though I have no idea how often they're planning on doing that or if I'll ever get my hands on some. Given their tiny, local-based approach, I suspect bottles aren't going to be super common, but I'm definitely keeping an eye out. Well, this was a most enjoyable experience. I've already got a couple other local pubs/breweries on my radar, though I have no idea when I'll get to them...

Pretty Things Meadowlark IPA

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Previously, on Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project: ¡Magnifico!, a 3.4% ABV, charitably hopped Belgian Pale Ale. Today, we're talking about Pretty Things' first American IPA, the prospect of which had beer nerds positively salivating. It's named after a bird or something (Wikipedial describes the males as having "extensively red or yellow underparts") and it's brrewed with the new hotness in American and New Zealand hops (Galaxy, Bravo, and Citra). They're saying that this may thus be one of them limited supply beers that fly off the shelves due to the scarce availability of trendy hops and a refusal to compromise on the recipe. So drink 'em if you got 'em, cause these ain't aging beers and they probably won't show up again until next year. Meadowlark and ¡Magnifico! showed up on shelves around the same time, but a week later, the Meadowlark was gone, while ¡Magnifico! was still hanging out as of this past weekend. I'd say check them both out, if you can find them:

Pretty Things Meadowlark IPA

Pretty Things Meadowlark IPA - Pours a slightly hazy golden orange color with a finger of white head and good retention/lacing as I drink. Big aromas of sugary sweet citrus and pine, maybe some floral notes, one of those beers you could just sit around and sniff for a while. Taste is sweet with a well matched bitterness emerging in the middle and through the finish. Again, juicy citrus and pine flavors are prominent in the taste, well balanced with it all. Mouthfeel is well carbonated, but tight and smooth and almost quaffable. Overall, excellent, well balanced IPA. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 7% ABV bottled (22 oz bomber). Drank out of a tulip glass on 7/29/12. Hops: Galaxy, Bravo, and Citra. IBUs: 60.

I feel like I've been saying this about an awful lot of breweries, but Pretty Things continues to impress. Though they've previously been focused mostly on Belgian and English styles, this thing shows their impressive range. Another brewery that may have elevated itself to "Buy anything of theirs that I see" status...

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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