Tired Hands So It Goes...

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If you're going to try and decode Tired Hands beer names, one place to start would be familiarizing yourself with Kurt Vonnegut. This reference, at least, is a straightforward one from Vonnegut's most famous novel, Slaughterhouse-Five. It's a refrain that occurs frequently throughout the novel (like, over 100 times), usually associated with death or mortality in some way.

The beer bills itself as a Pennsylvania Sour Red Ale, brewed with a plethora of specialty malts, then aged in a variety of barrels for ten months. This calls to mind Flanders Red ales, but is definitely asserting its own identity (thus falling into that nebulous American Wild Ale designation). The minimalist label is actually rather eye catching, and I waited in line a couple hours to get ahold of two bottles of the stuff. That's a long time, but so it goes...

Tired Hands So It Goes...

Tired Hands So It Goes... - Pours a really rather pretty dark orange amber color with half a finger of white head that sticks around a bit. It looks like a lighter, brighter Flanders Red. Smells of vinous fruit, cherries, oak, and a nice acetic sour twang. The taste hits similar notes, vinous fruit and cherries are there, but not as strongly as in the nose. It's not as sweet as I typically expect from a beer like this, but it's not really bitter at all either. The oak is doing its thing throughout, and there's a nice puckering sourness that emerges in the middle and lasts through the finish. Mouthfeel is well carbonated, and on the lighter end of medium bodied (lighter than expected). Plenty of acidity to go along with that sourness, but it's not overwhelming or anything. Overall, it's becoming impossible to grade all these Tired Hands sours, because they've really been killing it with their recent sours (particularly the Emptiness series beers and those Parageusia beers). This is an A-, but on the lower end of their bottled sours.

Beer Nerd Details: 8.3% ABV bottled (500 ml waxed cap). Drank out of a flute on 7/12/14.

Mark your calendars beer nerds, Parageusia1 release on Sunday. Totally worth the effort, and it looks like it'll be a nice day. See you there.

Lost Abbey Framboise De Amarosa

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The Lost Abbey always has fantastic events during Philly Beer Week, but due to a variety of factors (general listlessness, apathy, and the fact that I have a job), I can never seem to get there. So I missed out on coveted pours of Cuvee de Tomme and Duck Duck Gooze, but managed to snag a few interesting bottles, including this Framboise De Amarosa.

The base for this beer is Lost Abbey's standard Lost & Found ale, a dubbel brewed with raisins. Take that, add in an ample dose of raspberries, and age in oak (Tomme sez it's a blend of 9 and 12 month old beer), and you've got something that sounds rather spectacular. It's named after Amorosa, a biblical reference to a courtesan... which reminds me of Cantillon's rather risque label on Rosé De Gambrinus. Are raspberries associated with loose women, or is this just a cheeky coincidence?

Lost Abbey Framboise De Amorosa

Lost Abbey Framboise De Amarosa - Pours a dark red color with a finger of head that sticks around for a bit. The aroma is full of rasperberries, some oak and vanilla, but raspberiies rule the day. The taste follows the nose, a nice, intense raspberry sweetness with plenty of balancing oak and vanilla. Really delicious. Mouthfeel is also well balanced, well carbonated, nowhere near as acidic as a lot of intense sours, but it's there too. Overall, this is a fantastic raspberry beer, intense and complex, but not overpowering. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 8.5% ABV bottled (375 ml caged and corked). Drank out of a tulip glass on 7/11/14. Vintage 2014 A.

Another winner from Lost Abbey, and I've got a bottle of Agave Maria standing in the wings as well. Look for a review of that tequila barrel aged sucker soon enough...

Independence Day

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Every year, a local drinkery puts together a killer taplist on the 4th of July, and for the past two, I've tried to make it over there. Of course, it helps that they're pouring stuff like Hill Farmstead (insert stupid image of Wolverine pining after beer here), and this year there were 2 that I had not managed to wrangle before. In addition, I snagged my first Funky Buddha beer, and a little midwest coffee stout. Let's just say that it was a good day.

Hill Farmstead Nordic Saison

Hill Farmstead Nordic Saison - Pretty excited to try this one, a collaboration with Kissmeyer and Cambridge brewing. Apparently we got some of this before it was even released at HF! Pours a cloudy golden orange color with a whispy layer of head on top that basically just disappears. Smells nice, Belgian yeast, light saison funk, almost fruity notes. Taste follows the nose, light funk, some yeasty character, fair amount of sweetness, a little balancing bitterness in the finish. Mouthfeel is lightly carbonated (generally a problem for me) and a little heavier than your typical saison. Overall, this is a fine saison, but coming from the likes of HF, I generally expect more (Arthur was on tap, and was far superior). B

Beer Nerd Details: ??% ABV on tap (10 oz). Drank out of a snifter on 7/4/14.

Hill Farmstead George

Hill Farmstead George - This looks to be a pretty standard American Brown Ale style beer. It's not a style that you would expect to wow you, and it doesn't, though of course, HF's take is amongst the best I've ever had (if not the best). Dark brown color, solid finger and a half of light tan head. Smells about what you'd expect from a brown ale, mild, toasted malt, hints of coffee, chocolate, and roast, maybe a teensy bit of hops, but nothing dramatic. Taste follows the nose, mild toast and roast, well balanced sweetness and bitterness, and so on. Mouthfeel is fantastic, well carbonated, medium bodied, everything blends together well. Overall, this is an exceedingly well balanced, tasty take on the style. It's not going to melt your face, but it's really well done. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 6% ABV on tap (10 oz). Drank out of a snifter on 7/4/14.

So I know what you're thinking, two Hill Farmstead beers and no A level ratings? Well fear not, Abner, Susan, and Arthur were also on tap and are all as fantastic as ever. But after the above two, I jumped ship for my first Funky Buddha beer. They're a Florida brewery that doesn't get much in the way of distribution, but Philly really is a wondertown in that respect, so a few kegs make their way up here from time to time. This offering was, by far, the weirdest thing I had all day.

Funky Buddha Last Snow

Funky Buddha Last Snow - This is a coffee Porter made with coconut, white chocolate and caramel, and it is weirder than it sounds. Looks like a typical stout or porter, half a finger of fluffy tan head. That coconut and coffee come through strong in the nose. I don't think I'd call it balanced, but it comes off as being toasted coconut or something, and it works. The taste perhaps features a little more of that roasted malt and coffee, but the coconut sweetness still pervades the taste and again, it works reasonably well. Mouthfeel is surprisingly light on its feet, well carbonated, pretty easy going. Overall, it's a really interesting, unique, complex beer. Not something that I'd expect to take the world by storm, but an interesting first impression. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 6.5% ABV on tap (10 oz). Drank out of a snifter on 7/4/14.

Perennial Sump

Perennial Sump Coffee Stout - A big ol' imperial stout brewed with coffee. I think we all know how I feel about coffee stouts (I like them, but am still mostly ambivalent about the coffee aspect), so I wasn't expecting much out of this sucker, and it was basically what I expected. My tasting notes are pretty sparse from this point on, so I'm just going from memory here, but this did have a nice coffee character to it, and a solid imperial stout base. It was not a super drinkable stout, and took my a while to work through. I liked it, but was not going as crazy over it as everyone else. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 10.5% ABV on tap (10 oz). Drank out of a snifter on 7/4/14.

So this was a very good day. Lots of new, interesting beer, and some real, genuine classics that I'd had before but will always jump to try again (looking at you, Abner!) Already looking forward to next year's 4th of July celebration!

Posting will probably be light this week, but never fear, we'll be talking great beer again in no time.

De Cam Oude Lambiek

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In the swanky world of lambic, brewers like Cantillon and Drie Fonteinen seem to get the grand majority of attention, but fine folks over at De Cam put out some decent stuff as well. Alas, I think this particular beer fell victim to one of my pet peeves: carbonation. Namely, this has very little in the way of carbonation, and while it has that very promising 3 years in a barrel, the unblended nature means that it doesn't quite live up to the expectations set by the likes of Cantillon and Drie Fonteinen. Of course, both of those breweries have janky uncarbonated and unblended versions of their beer too, so perhaps I shouldn't be too judgmental here, but this was still a bit of a disappointment for me.

De Cam Oude Lambiek

De Cam Oude Lambiek - Pours a golden color with visible carbonation but minimal head. The smell has a very nice funk to it, earthy, sour, fruity, almost vinious aromas, maybe a bit of oak and vanilla too. Taste is surprisingly tame, fruity but not super sour, almost like a sort of white grapejuice. There is a hint of sourness and some other funky notes, like earth or barnyard stuff, especially in the finish. Mouthfeel is light but almost flat, very little in the way of carbonation (and you know how I am with carbonation (and if you don't - I like my beers, especially sours like this, to have ample carbonation)), not super acidic or sour. Overall, this has some nice elements but is still a big disappointment. B-

Beer Nerd Details: 5% ABV bottled (750 ml caged and corked). Drank out of a Cantillon lambic glass on 6/28/14.

So I'm assuming this is the equivalent of something like Doesjel or Bruocsella, so I can't quite hold this against De Cam, even if this does not make a particularly good first impression (especially considering the price), but I'd totally be willing to try the "regular" Oude Geuze De Cam, which seems like it plays in the same territory as the big boys... but then, I need to actually find a bottle of that stuff, which may be difficult...

Dead Eye Double Feature

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Today we feature two off-shelf imperial stouts from the dead-eye twins, Mikkel and Jeppe:

Dead Eye Twins

Those eyes, man. They look like sociopaths, but they can brew some good beer. To be sure, they both have a large catalog filled with a wide range of styles and experimental series, so they both have their fare share of hits and misses. Since both are highfalutin "gypsy" brewers, those misses tend to be expensive misses, but I've had pretty good luck with both, especially when it comes to their imperial stouts, the details of which are covered below, along with my amazing tasting notes. Up first, Vanilla Shake:

Mikkeller Beer Geek Vanilla Shake

Mikkeller Beer Geek Vanilla Shake - Yet another variation on the Beer Geek Breakfast (stout with coffee) theme that Mikkel has been riding for a few years now, this one made at a higher ABV with both coffee and vanilla. You should know by now that I'm not a big coffee guy, but I do really love me some vanilla, so I had big hopes for this. It pours a pitch black color with a finger of light brown head. Smells of coffee, dark malts, and lots of vanilla, in roughly equal measures. Taste has lots of that coffee character tempered by rich caramel and lots of vanilla, with that roasty coffee reasserting itself in the finish, along with a hint of bitterness. Mouthfeel is full bodied, rich, and chewy, medium/low carbonation, not at all boozy. Overall, it's a rock solid coffee based stout. I enjoyed it, but you know, coffee. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 13% ABV bottled (11.2 oz). Drank out of a snifter on 6/27/14.

Evil Twin I Love You With My Stout

Evil Twin I Love You With My Stout - So this is basically another variant on Jeppe's famous Even More Jesus recipe. What's the difference? As the story goes, it was "brewed at a different brewery in bigger scale. Since we had to adjust the recipe to the new system, we gave the beer a new name as it is not the same, though it will be similar." Ironically, I had the coffee version of Even More Jesus, and actually quite enjoyed it (actually moreso than Vanilla Shake), but I really found myself wishing I got to try the non coffee version. Well, I basically got my wish with this beer. Pours a black color with a very pretty brown head. Smells of dark, roasty malt, rich caramel, maybe even some vanilla. The taste starts sweet, but that's tempered by some roasty dark malt, rich caramel in the middle, and a little bitter dark chocolate and hop bitterness towards the finish. Mouthfeel is full bodied, rich, and chewy, medium carbonation, no real booze here either. Overall, we have another rock solid stout here, and because I'm not a big coffee person, I like this better than the vanilla shake. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 13% ABV bottled (12 oz). Drank out of a snifter on 6/28/14. Bottled 04/16/14.

So there you have it. Jeppe wins this round, but only really because coffee, and if other beer geeks are any indication, the coffee stuff would probably be treated more fairly. I know, I'm the worst. I actually think the Evil Twin one will age really well, so I may try to snag some more of that.

Boulevard Saison-Brett

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There are beers that I pine after (like any good beer nerd) that would rightly be called a White Wale. In the past, I've mentioned the sort of arbitrary, moving goalpost nature of White Whale beers, which leads neckbearded tickers to call stuff like Black Tuesday a Khaki Wale (unless you snag the 2009 vintage, in which case you're totally slayin walez, bro), but a beer like this wouldn't really even qualify for that dubious honor. It's mildly limited and PA is not in Boulevard's distribution, so there is that, but it's not a beer that lights fires, except in that certain corner of beer dorkery occupied by saison addicts. But this does happen to be my corner of dorkery, so why has it taken so long for me to procure a bottle of this stuff? I don't have a good answer, but I did finally manage to drink a bottle, so let's get to it, shall we. This is Boulevard's Tank 7 saison that's been conditioned on Brettanomyces for 3 months, and it's one of the better examples of Brett Saisons out there:

Boulevard Saison-Brett

Boulevard Saison-Brett - Pours a slightly hazy, light yellow color with massive amounts of whispy head. The smell is pure funk, musty, earthy, spicy, floral, and even a little fruity. The taste has a nice Belgian yeast character, fruity esters and spicy phenols, banana and clove, but then that funk shows up and starts trashing the place with it's earthy, musty, barnyardy, flowery goodness. Mouthfeel is highly carbonated and efferevescent, dry, light body but still substantial enough that it carries its weight and can stand up to food. Sometimes dry beers with high carbonation tend to be dominated by the mouthfeel, but in this case, those characteristics seem to pull out the flavor rather than mask it. It's complex enough to keep the jaded beer dorks interested, but approachable enough that anyone who likes Belgian pales will probably get a kick out of it. Overall, this is indeed a very good funky beer and probably my favorite Boulevard offering to date. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 8.5% ABV bottled (750 ml caged and corked). Drank out of a flute on 6/27/14. 2014 vintage. Batch Number: SB14058-1. Best By Date: 02-2016.

It's always nice to tick that long unticked box, and it's nice to see what all the fuss is about.

The Bruery Sucré

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The Bruery's Anniversary beers hold a certain sentimental value for us Kaedrinians, and as such, they've become a much anticipated annual tradition. We're just bananas for this stuff. Like the previous couple batches, this is a massive Old Ale style beer, aged in Bourbon barrels and blended using the Solera method. The names of each anniversary brew correspond to the French translation of the traditional wedding anniversary gifts. Last year's was Bois, and it was fantastic. This year's is Sucré, which means Sugar (or probably more likely, Candy).

Those who are familiar with The Bruery's low attenuation, high ABV barrel aged brews will know that Sucré is particularly apt for this brew, as it's is indeed quite sweet and sugary. Not to mention boozy. The previous iterations have all been in the 14.5% to 15% ABV, but this one clocks in at a whopping 16.9% ABV. I'm not sure what they did differently this year, but that's quite a bump from last year, and you can really tell, even if it's still a fabulous brew that I really enjoyed.

The Bruery Sucre

The Bruery Sucré - Pours a murky brown color with a finger of off white head. Smells fantastic, sugary, lots of boozy bourbon, oak, and vanilla, a little bit of dark fruits. The taste is rich and sugary, with the typical Bruery barrel treatment taking over quickly, lots of bourbon, oak, and vanilla, very boozy but not super hot. The dark fruits are there, but take a back seat to the booze and bourbon. As it warms, it seems to even itself out a bit. That or I was just getting shitfaced. Mouthfeel is full bodied, rich, and chewy, with a big boozy bite that's almost spicy. Overall, this is another fantastic brew in the series, more intense than previous versions, though perhaps not quite as harmonious right now. I'm betting the aging potential is high though. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 16.9% ABV bottled (750 ml capped and waxed). Drank out of a tulip glass on 6/21/14. Bottled 2/25/14.

If you've had any of The Bruery's Bourbon barrel aged stuff, you sorta know what you're in for here. I plan on grabbing another of these bottles for my cellar, just because I have one for every year since Cuir (3rd Anniversary). Speaking of which, I never drank that Cuir, which I should totally get around to at some point. Of course, I only have the normal, 25% BBA version, but we can't all be Bruery Hoarder ballers, can we?

Like any good craft brewery, the fine folks at Tired Hands like to collaborate. These often show up at the brewpub (and presumably at the collaborator's brewery), but a couple of recent instances involved Jean traveling to Europe and working with various kindred spirits to produce some stuff that would be bottled and then imported. I've totally been slacking on these, so I figured it was time to catch up with them.

Crushable Saison

Brasserie de la Senne and Tired Hands Crushable Saison - This was basically a hoppy saison. Pours a cloudy but bright straw yellow color (very typical of Tired Hands) with huge amounts of fluffy, bubbly head that sticks around for a while and leaves lots of lacing (perhaps not as common for Tired Hands - they tend to be lighter in carbonation than this appears). Smells of grassy citrus hops (I get some standard Euro hop feel here, but also some straightforward American hops, like Cascade or Simcoe or something like that), some light peppery yeast, clove, and a little fruity kick too. The taste features a similar quality, lots of Belgian yeast character, very light spicy notes (pepper and clove), hints of fruity esters, and some grassy citrus hops (maybe a bit of hop bitterness in the finish). Mouthfeel is highly carbonated and effervescent, very light body on this, and it is super dry. Given the name, I think they've achieved their goal though: it's super quaffable and yes, emminently crushable. Overall, this is a nice, delicate, quaffable saison. It's not going to light the world on fire, but I could drink a couple gallons of this stuff, which, seems to be what they were going for. It's not a glamorous face melter, but it's the sort of thing you could probably expect to be pouring at the brewpub on most visits. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 5% ABV bottled (11.2 oz). Drank out of a flute on 6/20/14. Bottled 10/10/13. Best By 10/10/14

Lost and Found

De Molen and Tired Hands Lost & Found - Check out these pics of Jean and Menno grooving at the De Molen brewery. This is a hoppy black ale fermented with 100% Brett. I can't tell if oak was involved, but I didn't really get much oak out of the taste. Pours a turbid brown color with a finger of tan head. Smells of Brett funk, a little fruity, citrus and pine hops (maybe a little faded, yielding more piney notes), with some dark malt presence and a hint of tartness. The taste has more of that tart fruitiness, and that dark malt character comes on much stronger. Some earthy funk too. The hops seem a little lost in the taste, or at least not as harmonious as in the nose. Mouthfeel is really strange, grainy, a little astringency from that tartness, medium carbonation, medium body. Overall, there's some nice elements here, but the balance is a little off, and the disparate elements don't really come together as well as I'd hoped. It's not unpleasant or anything, but it was a little disappointing. B-

Beer Nerd Details: 6.6% ABV bottled (750 ml caged and corked). Drank out of a tulip glass on 6/20/14. Bottled 27 Nov 2013 (I think that's the bottling date).

Both are imported by Shelton Brothers, so they should be out and about. Of the two, I'd recommend Crushable Saison much more, as it's more representative of their style... and cheaper too! That being said, if you are ever in the Philly area, it's worth making the detour out to Ardmore to visit the brewpub (but given my general enthusiasm for Tired Hands on this here blog, I probably don't need to tell you that).

Almanac Farmer's Reserve Pluot

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If you've been following along, and you should be, you'd know that the tiny San Francisco brewery Almanac has been doing this local Farm to Barrel thing for quite some time now, incorporating uber-fresh locally sourced fruits and produce into their barrel aged sours. They've steadily been picking up steam and many an admirer - including me, even though I'm about 3000 miles away.

This one is made with Pluots, that unholy crossbreed of plums and apricots. Chuck several varieties of that mutant fruit (each of which has a fantastic, evocative name: Dapple Dandy, Honey Punch, Flavor Queen, Black Kat & Dapple Jack) into some old wine barrels along with Almanac's house "Dogpatch" sour culture (a mix of American and Belgian yeasts, along with some other critters, like a San Francisco sourdough starter). The result is quite a fine sour ale, if I may say so:

Almanac Farmers Reserve Pluot

Almanac Farmer's Reserve Pluot - Pours a cloudy but bright, luminous straw yellow color with a finger of white head and good retention. The smell is very funky, some oak, lots of fruit, and something I can't quite place. The taste is beautiful, lots of tart fruit character, peaches, plums and the like. Some oak in the middle, finishing up with a fruit juice spritz. The sourness is there, especially in the finish, but it's far from overpowering. Mouthfeel is highly carbonated, juicy, light and crisp, with a small acidic note from the sourness. Overall, this is a fantastic little sour beer. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 7% ABV bottled (375 ml capped). Drank out of a flute on 6/14/14. Batch FR-P. Bottled 031414.

This is my favorite Almanac beer yet, not that I've managed to wrangle that many of them. I am, however, fortunate enough to have another waiting in the wings, so you'll be hearing more about Almanac soon enough. Indeed, I've been on something of a sour jag of late, a consequence more of availability than anything else, but I ain't complaining.

BFM Abbaye De Saint Bon-Chien 2012

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Bon-Chien is French for "Good Dog". Naturally, it refers to... a cat? It turns out that Bon-Chien was Brasserie des Franches-Montagnes (BFM) first cat, and to honor its passing, they attributed three miracles to her, conferred saintly status, and brewed this beer. Rather oddly, they claim primary fermentation is achieved via wine yeast. Then they aged it in a variety of barrels, where the juice picks up the various souring bugs and funky yeasts. Over the years, these barrels have ranged from Grappa, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Bourbon, and Scotch, to Champagne or obscure barrels previously used for stuff that even the internets don't seem to know about (anyone know what Kumasamasansa is?) The standard Abbaye De Saint Bon-Chien is a blend of all the barrels used in a given year (usually only a few different types), but the individual barrel beers are also released with the Grand Cru designation (remember: Grand Cru means almost nothing in the world of beer).

The 2012 vintage, which is what I had, seems to be comprised of beer aged in Champagne, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and the mysterious Kumasamasansa barrels. I feel like these beers have become more widely distributed in the US over the past few years, and what's more, you can often buy older vintages (if you're willing to pay, and these suckers aren't cheap, though apparently this ages very well). As monster 11% ABV sours go, this is actually a pretty approachable beer, effortlessly complex, rich, and only moderately sour. Let's take a closer look:

BFM Abbaye De Saint Bon-Chien

BFM Abbaye De Saint Bon-Chien 2012 - Pours a dark amber brown color with a finger of off white head that fades but leaves a bit of lacing too. Smells very nice, with tart, vinous fruit, cherries, tannins, oak, vanilla, and vinegar. Taste is very sweet, maybe even sugary. Fruity, berries, sour cherries and the like, some oak and vanilla, with a well matched, almost mellow sourness (two words that don't normally go together). Mouthfeel is smooth and velvety, not nearly as much carbonation as expected, but still enough. Medium to full bodied, which is rare for a sour. I get the impression that the attenuation is low here, which perhaps offsets the sourness a bit, and it coats your mouth considerably, leaving a long finish. It's a little boozy, but not at all unapproachable and it handles the ABV much better than a lot of other high octane sours. Overall, this is a really nice, heavy duty sour beer. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 11% ABV bottled (750 ml) Drank out of a goblet on 6/13/14. Vintage 2012. Blend 5.

The label sez "Recommended with fine food!" so I paired this with a pepperoni pocket pie. Not my brightest move, but hey, it actually kinda worked. Though I will say that, like a lot of darker sours like this, it actually matches very well with good dark chocolate. Also, if I can afford another bottle of this, I may actually try it with their recommended pairing of pan seared duck breast deglazed with Modena balsamic vinegar. But then, that sounds like a lot of work (for both me and my wallet).

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

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