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...

BBQ Beer Club

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Tonight was beer club, a meeting of beer minded individuals from my work who get together once a month to share good beer, a good meal, and good company! We typically congregate at a local BYOB, and this time we hit up Jimmy's BBQ. It's not gonna blow away folks used to spectacular BBQ, but for us unwashed Yanks, it was solid stuff, and quite frankly, our options for good BBQ up here are somewhat limited. As usual, a good time was had by all, and we had quite a nice selection of beers available:

Beer Club Beers for August 2012
(Click for bigger image)

For the sake of posterity, some thoughts on each beer are below. Naturally, these were not ideal conditions, but then again, what were you expecting? It's not like this BBQ place had a sensory deprivation chamber that would allow us to truly evaluate the beers in an objective fashion. And even if it did, that would take all the fun out of it. Stop being such a Nazi, dude! In any case, here's some impressions of each beer (in order of drinking, not necessarily the order of the picture above):

  • Sly Fox Helles Golden Lager - Lager lover Paul brought a growler of this stuff, which made a nice starting beer for me. It's pretty standard golden lager stuff, perhaps a step above the typical BMC macro stuff. Not particularly my thing, but again, a nice start to the evening. B-
  • Sixpoint Righteous Ale - An interesting take on the Rye beer, one that actually emphasizes the rye (as opposed to a lot of hopped up versions, which certainly have their own allure). There is a healthy hop presence, to be sure, but it leans towards the more European earthy, pungent, almost spicy character that actually complements the rye quite nicely. Really quite nice. I'd like to try this under better conditions, but for now, let's leave it at a very solid B+
  • Kaedrin Simcoe IPA - My homebrewed IPA went over well, as usual, though I'm getting a little worried, as I only have a couple of these left. It is starting to show it's age a bit - much more piney than it's initial incarnation - though it's still quite nice. Definitely something I'm going to attempt to replicate sometime this winter. Solid B+ material here (maybe higher at it's peak).
  • Kaedrin Trappist Tripel - This was my second batch of homebrew, well over a year and a half old. A tripel style beer, it definitely came in a little higher than expected at 9.5 to 10% ABV, and that booze certainly takes on a too-prominent position in the taste. Definitely too much of that fusel alcohol flavor in this one, though it's not completely overpowering. That being said, it was an interesting beer to try in the beer club setting, and I actually think the age is doing it some favors. Perhaps another year will mellow this thing out a little more? I've got about a dozen of these things left, so I think we've got plenty of time to find out. For now, I'll say B- or B
  • Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier - Full disclosure, this thing had been sitting in my fridge for well over a year, and whatever you may think, a 5.4% ABV wheat beer isn't exactly aging material. That being said, it was fine, though in the context of beer club, it was kinda overshadowed by other stuff we drank... When fresh, I gave it an A-, and I think it still remains one of my favorite Hefeweizens...
  • Firestone Walker Wookey Jack - A beer many of my fellow blogging travelers have been enjoying, and I have to say, I see what they're talking about! Of course, it's no Society and Solitude #2, but as Black IPAs (or Cascadian Dark American Black whatevers you want to call it) go, it's a solid, perhaps even top tier entry. Very nice pine tree nose, with a taste that is more hops than roast, but with both elements present and prominent. Apparently also made with Rye, which adds something different to the mix, but which I wasn't really looking too strongly for... It's a beer I'd love to try again sometime, but for now, B+ it is! Thanks for bringing this one Danur!
  • Duck Rabbit Porter - Um, well, yeah, it's a porter! As the style goes, it's a solid entry, though it's not something that wowed me like, say, Everett. Still, I'm sure it could fill in for my go-to cigar beer, Founders Porter. Duck Rabbit is most certainly a brewery I need to familiarize myself with further though. B
  • Russian River Supplication - So I really enjoyed this the last time I had it, and I've been trying to experiment with sours at Beer Club, so I brought this one, and hoo boy... I absolutely adored this beer this time around. Not sure if it was because my palate had already been exercised by the BBQ and preceding beers, or if I just got a particularly good bottle (Batch 7) this time around, but man, this thing was spectacular. Fellow beer club peeps were also blown away by this beer, and I could hardly blame them. It really was quite eye opening, and it stood right up to the strong flavors we'd already been imbibing for a bit. I have to say, this time around, the sourness was less pronounced and better integrated into the beer, which took on more of an oak aged character. It's something I'm going to have to revisit again sometime soon. I give it an upgrade to an A right now, but honestly, if I get another bottle that's this good, it could vault itself up into the hallowed A+ pantheon.
  • DuClaw Soul Jacker - A blend of DuClaw's Black Jack stout and their most excellent Devil's Milk barleywine. Indeed, that barleywine character, full of hop flavors (but not a lot of hop bitterness), dominated the taste. There was a very light roastiness, which added some interesting complexity. I really enjoyed this, but it also sorta made me crave the regular old Devil's Milk barleywine. I'll give it a B+ and leave it at that.
Phew! I think this may be one of the best rated beer clubs evar! Only one real B-, and that's not a particularly poor rating. Usually, despite all the fun we have, there's at least something in the C or D range, if not an outright F (apparently someone forgot to bring a 3 year old San Miguel lager, smuggled from the Phillipines, that they've been meaning to get rid of - this surely would have opened some eyes in a bad way, but I guess we'll have to wait for next beer club for that... experience). Not that I'm complaining (about this gathering or, for that matter, previous gatherings with not so great beer - it's not like I have to drink a ton of bad beer or anything!). As always, I'm already anxiously awaiting the next beer club meeting!

Oh yeah, I should mention, we actually didn't get to all the beers in the pic above because we're not all total alcoholics, you know? I did manage to take home the Duck Rabbit Milk Stout though, so I'm sure you'll get to hear about that at some point...

The Bruery White Oak

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I've been at this blogging thing for a little while now (almost two years), and I've obviously been drinking beer for a long time before that... but this appears to be my first wheatwine. It's basically like a barleywine, but with a large proportion of wheat in the malt bill. I suppose the closest thing I've had to this style is Great Divide's Double Wit, a beer that didn't quite work for me. It was fine for what it was, but it felt overly boozy and unbalanced. Will The Bruery be able to tame those issues in this decidedly stronger brew?

To be fair, this stuff is also quite a bit more complex than any of the big wheat beers I've had before. It's a blend of the Bruery's excellent hoppy Belgian pale ale, Mischief, and a wheatwine that's been aged in Bourbon barrels (apparently they did release some of this barrel aged wheatwine all by itself, called White Oak Sap). So yeah, sign me up for this thing.

The Bruery White Oak

The Bruery White Oak - Pours a cloudy golden orange color with a few fingers of fluffy white head. Smells strongly of wheat and musty Belgian (or perhaps weizen) yeast, a little of that banana and clove character you'd expect in a Hefeweizen. The taste is sweet and very spicy, with some interesting vanilla and light caramel notes emerging in the middle, and a low intensity bourbon oak character (maybe some vanilla too) coming towards the finish. Not getting a lot of wheat in the taste, though perhaps it contributes to the mouthfeel. The bourbon barrel character adds complexity here without dominating the flavor, and I'm realizing that I don't often have barrel aged light colored beers... (I'd like to compare this to Allagash's Curieux). The mouthfeel starts off highly carbonated and spicy, eventually yielding to a small but mostly pleasant sticky sensation in the finish. It's a little heavy and drinking a whole 750 is a bit much, but overall, I'm actually quite pleased with this. It's very complex and tasty. I wouldn't quite call it well balanced (which keeps this from mind-blowing territory), but it's unbalanced in just the right way to make it interesting and delicious. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 11.5% ABV bottled (750 ml capped). Drank out of a tulip glass on 7/27/12.

Not long after having this, a local bar did a Founders event, and at the behest of the cute girl sitting next to me, I got a taste of their Wheatwine. It was interesting, though I ultimately didn't get me a full glass (there were other interesting rarities available, including KBS and another beer you'll be hearing about, er, at some point on the blog). Anywho, The Bruery never fails to impress. I wouldn't put this at the top of their lineup, but it's a solid entry worth trying (but, you know, split the bottle with someone). I've got a few big Bruery beers in my cellar that I should break out at some point, but it's always tough to pull the trigger on a 750 of high ABV beer...

Beer Geek Brunch Weasel

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Also known as: that beer made with weasel poop coffee. Yes, this beer is made with civet coffee, one of the world's most expensive varieties. Apparently, coffee berries are fed to weasel-like civets and are thus passed through their digestive tract. The idea here is that the coffee beans are exposed to various enzymes in the process, helping break them down. But not too much, as the beans retain their coffee-like properties, just with a different, supposedly less bitter character. There's apparently a lot of controversy surrounding the coffee due to the novelty factor and also the ease with which "fake" civet beans are put on the market. Oh, and the fact that people are drinking coffee made from poo. Ok, fine, the coffee is apparently washed and roasted, but still. Weasel poo.

And of course, leave it to Mikkeller to make an exceptional beer with this stuff. He's got a whole series of Beer Geek stouts, mostly brewed with various coffees. Not being a big coffee person (poo or no poo), the beer never really made it past my radar, but I eventually broke down and got a couple bottles from the series to see what all the fuss is about. Well, I'm glad I got over my hesitation, because this stuff is great:

Mikkeller Beer Geek Brunch

Mikkeller Beer Geek Brunch Weasel - Pours a very dark brown color with a finger of light brown head. Smells fantastic, very rich dark malt aromas, caramel, booze, maybe a little roast (but not much). Taste also features those rich dark malt flavors, much more coffee and roast character than the nose would indicate (but not overpowering or anything), plenty of caramel and chocolate, and maybe a hint of booze. The finish has some balancing bitterness, some of which is coming from that coffee (rather than all hops - though if wikipedia is to be believed, the bitterness is less pronounced than regular coffee). Mouthfeel is thick and chewy, full bodied, low but appropriate carbonation and just a little stickiness in the finish. Alcohol is very well hidden here. Towards the end of the bottle, the yeast got a little clumpy, which wasn't great, but only really impacted a small portion of the bottle. Overall, this is expertly crafted stuff and while I don't normally go in for coffee in my beer, this one is fantastic. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 10.9% ABV bottled (500 ml). Drank out of a snifter on 7/20/12.

Up next on the wallet-lightening train of Mikkeller beers is Beer Hop Breakfast - basically a similar beer, sans poo, plus tons of hops. All aboard!

DuClaw Double Naked Fish

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I had a sample of DuClaw's regular Naked Fish beer at a beer club outing a while back. It was a solid beer to have in such a setting, as it's got a unique profile and an interesting concept. It's a raspberry stout, and while the aroma really sold that fact, I found the taste to be a little too thin (which wasn't surprising once we realized it was only 4.6% ABV). It was a fine beer, to be sure, but I would have loved it if it had a fuller body with more richness in flavor. So when I saw Double Naked Fish (a souped up version of the brew with 7.6% ABV) on the shelf during a recent beer hunting expedition, it seemed that fate had interceded. This seemed like a good idea, so let's see how it all turned out:

DuClaw Double Naked Fish

DuClaw Double Naked Fish - Pours a clear and very dark brown color with a finger of big bubbled tan head. Smells of roasted malts, with some raspberry fruitiness and maybe caramel and chocolate coming through as well. Taste has that roasty component, but it's quickly taken over by a bright raspberry fruitiness, followed by a dry bitterness from hops, chocolate, and roastiness in the finish. Mouthfeel is highly carbonated, but somehow thinner and more dry than I'd expect. I'd think this souped up version would have richer, fuller bodied flavors, but this is light and dry. It feels like an amped up Irish Dry Stout, rather than any sort of imperial stout. This may be more of a personal preference thing, as Irish Dry Stouts aren't my favorites, though they certainly hit the spot from time to time. Overall, it's an interesting beer, a slight improvement over the single Naked Fish, but still not quite transcendent. B

Beer Nerd Details: 7.3% ABV bottled (22 oz bomber). Drank out of a snifter on 7/28/12.

DuClaw is still an interesting regional brewery. Not sure if they even distribute to PA yet, but I picked up a few bottles from them during a trip to Maryland (their home state). My cellar has once again grown into something of an unwieldy state, so I'm not sure when I'll get to these, but I'm sure they'll be on the blog soon enough...

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

You might also want to check out my generalist blog, where I blather on about lots of things, but mostly movies, books, and technology.

Email me at mciocco at gmail dot com.

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