Gemini

| 3 Comments

I don't normally just defer to a brewery's marketing department when writing an intro to a beer, but this one is actually pretty well done:

High in the winter sky, two parallel stick figures are visible & known as "the twins," or the constellation Gemini. The astronauts of the 1960s flew as teams of two in a program named after the celestial pairing. At Southern Tier, we have our own fraternal twins, Hoppe & Unearthly. Blended together & placed in this vessel, the mission of our Gemini is to travel high & take passengers on a journey far into the heavens.
Well, there you have it. I've already discussed my lack of creativity when it comes to naming my own beers, but a lot of beer names are just sorta random. But it's always nice to see a very well thought out name for a beer, like this one.

One weird thing about this beer: The bottle sez it's 10.5% ABV, but Southern Tier's Website sez 9%. RateBeer sez 10.5%, Beer Advocate sez 9%. What's going on here? Similar inconsistency exists for one of this beer's blended duo - Hoppe is sometimes listed at 8% and other times 8.5%. Given that this is a blend of Hoppe and Unearthly (which, thankfully, is consistently reported as 9.5% ABV), I would be surprised if it somehow gained a few percentage points of alcohol... lending further credence to the 9% number. This post on the RateBeer forums seems to indicate that Southern Tier adjusted a bunch of ABV values on their website, but the entire discussion is speculation (and pointless debate over why ABV matters) and the thread is from 2009. One would think that if Southern Tier adjusted their ABVs, they would have also updated their labels at some point... I smell a pedantic email session coming on.

Well, whatever the case, the important thing is how it tasted, so here we go:

Southern Tier Gemini

Pours a golden orange color with just a bit of quickly disappearing head. Smell is sugary sweet, lots of juicy hop aromas, a little pine - fantastic nose. The taste is extremely sweet, lots of those juicy hop flavors emerging in the middle, and just a hint of bitterness in the finish and aftertaste. Mouthfeel is crisp and clean, just a hint of sugary/boozy stickiness, but at the same time, it hides that alcohol very well. Overall, a fantastic DIPA. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 10.5% (or maybe 9%) ABV bottled (22 oz. bomber). Drank out of a snifter glass on 2/24/12. Bottle sez: DOB 01/26/12 (so this was less than a month old at time of consumption).

Southern Tier continues to make intriguing beers, though they tend towards being overly sweet for my palate. That being said, I may have even rated this one higher if I haven't had the opportunity to have Hopslam a few times recently... I'll most likely be checking out more Southern Tier beers at some point, though perhaps not right away...

Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout

| No Comments

Rasputin is quite the interesting historical figure. Most of what's known about him comes from dubious sources, thus many details are unclear, but he is generally referred to as a Russian mystic or visionary, though also as a charlatan and sometimes even the antichrist. I never knew much about him, but what I did know always suggested that he was involved with the Occult and that he died under mysterious circumstances. Indeed, his murder has become the stuff of legend, various sources indicating that he was poisoned, shot (4 times!), stabbed, beaten, and drowned. His enemies apparently even severed... lil' Rasputin (leading to urban legends surrounding ownership of the accursed organ). The dude just wouldn't die; there are reports that he tried to sit up even while his body was being cremated. Quite resilient, I'd say. Like a video game boss.

This, of course, has little to do with the beer that bears his name unless... has drinking this beer made me immortal? Avenues of investigation seem limited. Tests could yield undesirable results. Such as my death. But I digress:

North Coast Old Rasputin

North Coast Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout - Pours a very dark brown, almost black color with a couple fingers of light brown head. Smells of roasted malt, but surprisingly, I get some juicy hop aroma in the nose (lots of citrus and a little pine). Those hops show up again in the taste as well, though the roasted malt is still prominent, and you get chocolate, caramel and booze too. Despite all the hop character, it's not super bitter, though the big malt backbone and booze are clearly well balanced by the bittering hops (otherwise, this would be cloying). Mouthfeel is very nice, full bodied, well carbonated, a little warming character from the booze. Overall, very complex and tasty. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 9% ABV bottled (12 oz). Drank out of a snifter on 2/18/12.

Apparently North Coast does a barrel aged version, but very little of it makes it out through distribution (most of it seems to be distributed at the brewery itself). Ah well. I've got my eyes on a bottle of bourbon barrel aged Old Stock ale, though I haven't quite pulled the trigger just yet (it seems quite expensive!)

Twin Lakes Greenville Pale Ale

| No Comments

Apparently one of my favorite local beer nerd establishments got their hands on a sixtel of the fabled Pliny the Younger (currently Beer Advocate's #1 Top Beer on the planet). They posted about it on Facebook late last night, and they opened their doors at 10:30 am this morning. Ten minutes later, it sold out. Someone posted on facebook: "Sorry job-havers." Curse my responsibility! I'm sure the beer is great, but at this point, I can't help but think that it would never live up to expectations and I probably won't go too far out of my way to get my hands on the stuff. It's true, we are one of the lucky markets that gets a taste of the stuff, which is nice, I guess, but from what I can tell it's always an absolute madhouse, and tastings sometimes only consist of a few ounces. I certainly wouldn't turn any down, but it just doesn't seem worth the colossal stretch required. Of course, I say this now, but next year I'll probably post about how I stood outside in a snowstorm for 4 hours just to get a tiny 0.1 ounce sample applied to my tongue with an eyedropper.

In the meantime, I'll just have to deal with the oodles of other great IPAs on the market, of which there certainly is no shortage. But tonight, I'm reviewing a pale ale even further down the spiral (apologies for the craptacular blurry picture):

Twin Lakes Greenville Pale Ale

Twin Lakes Greenville Pale Ale - Pours a hazy golden orange color with a finger of whitish head. Lots of floral hop aromas in the nose. Unusual flavors hit the palate first, perhaps that floral hop flavor is more prominent than the nose advertises. Actually a bit of spiciness to the taste as well, also probably from the hops. Just a faint amount of bitterness in the finish. Seems a bit simplistic. Carbonation is very strong and almost biting, though the body is still rather light. Doesn't go down quite as easy as I'd hope. Overall, I'm not too taken with this beer. It's not horrible, but something about the hop profile doesn't work for me. C+

Beer Nerd Details: 5.5% ABV canned (12 oz.) Drank out of a tulip on 2/18/12.

Ok, so this ain't quite a Pliny substitute, but a few upcoming reviews could perhaps hit a little closer to the target.

Brooklyn Black Ops

| 2 Comments

This is one of those beers that I never thought I'd actually get to try, but whilst perusing the beer menu at a local establishment, it jumped out at me. Now, from what I've heard, this is an obscenely expensive beer in almost any case, and buying it from a bar... well, let's just say that it's probably not something I'll do again. That being said, I'm really glad I got to try some and I can cross another beer off the white whale list.

I'd always thought that the base for this bourbon barrel aged beer was Brooklyn's excellent Black Chocolate Stout, but apparently they tweak a different imperial stout recipe each year and, of course, barrel aging adds an additional variable to the process. The brewery sez it's "aged for four months in bourbon barrels, bottled flat, and re-fermented in the bottle with Champagne yeast" which is at least a little strange. I get the impression that most bourbon barrel aged beers are not bottle conditioned, but I could be wrong about that. The selection of Champagne yeast is more unusual, though you do see it in very high ABV beers (regular brewers yeast can't really tolerate high ABV, whilst Champagne yeast can). In theory, the bottle conditioning would make the beer more suitable for aging, though I greedily drank this one up less than a week from purchase... Anyway, enough nerding out about how the beer was produced, let's drink this stuff:

Brooklyn Black Ops

Brooklyn Black Ops 2011 - Pours black color with a couple fingers of light brown head. Smell is filled with chalky, roasted malt and bourbon. Taste prominently features that roasted malt along with just a bit of chocolate and tons of boozy bourbon emerging in the finish. The mouthfeel is a little light on the carbonation and smooth, but still very nice. Not quite as rich or full bodied as I'd expect, it still packs a big amount of flavor in a high medium body. Overall, an excellent bourbon barrel aged beer, but not quite reaching the heights of others I've had. Indeed, I might even like the regular Black Chocolate Stout better, but then, I've only had one of these and would gladly try more (though I don't think I'd quite pay this much for one again). A-

Beer Nerd Details: 10.7% ABV bottled (750 ml). Drank out of a snifter on 2/17/12. Label sez 2981 (bottled on 298th day of 2011)

I never have gotten around to trying out Brooklyn's Local 2, which is something I've been wanting to drink for a while (and it's readily available in this area too), and while I remember being disappointed by Sorachi Ace, I think it's probably worth giving it another try (I drank it a few years ago and it didn't do much for me)...

Victory Éclat Cocoa Lager

| No Comments

Victory celebrated their 15th Anniversary last year, and to mark the occasion, they created a new flagship beer: Headwaters Pale Ale. It was a beer that goes against most "Anniversary Beer" conventions. Namely, it wasn't a high-ABV face-melter that incorporated all sorts of weird ingredients. Instead, it's focus was on highlighting the most unassuming of beer's ingredients: the water. Few would call a 5.1% ABV Pale Ale a very adventurous anniversary beer, but then, this is a beer that has developed into Victory's flagship. It's became so popular and so ubiquitous in this area that Victory actually ran out and had to rearrange their brewing schedule to make up for the demand (so no Old Horizontal this year *sniff*).

But this year, things are a little different. In honor of their 16th year, Victory is making a limited batch of beer in collaboration with famous local chocolatier Éclat. I wouldn't call this a typical anniversary beer, but it's not quite the old standard that Headwaters was either. It's actually quite an unusual beer. Heck, it's a lager. One way to divide the beer world is to separate them into ales and lagers. Lager yeasts ferment at lower temperatures and typically feature cleaner, smoother, more stable flavor profiles. There tends to be less in the way of fruity esters or spicy phenols (which can be very prevalent in ales). There seems to be much less of a focus on lagers in the beer nerd community for some reason, though around this time of year, everyone seems to start cracking open doppelbocks.

In any case Victory Éclat Cocoa Lager is a Euro Dark Lager brewed with Peruvian Pure Nacional cacao beans (apparently quite rare) and is served on nitro tap:

Victory Eclat Cocoa Lager

Victory Éclat Cocoa Lager - Dark brown color, beautiful amber highlights, creamy tan head. Smells like chocolate with a hint of roasted barley. Taste has some light chocolate with just a hint of well balanced roastiness emerging in the finish. Lots of flavor, but very well matched and not overpowering at all. Mouthfeel is a dream. Nitro pour makes it incredibly smooth, but this is the perfect mouthfeel for the flavor profile. Medium bodied, clean and smooth, very easy to put down. The muted flavor profile of the lager matches perfectly with the nitro pour. A really fantastic beer... A

Beer Nerd Details: 5.6% ABV on tap (nitro pour). Drank out of Victory's .3L Bar Glass.

I really hope I can get me some more of this before it's gone. Or that it becomes a regular brewpub/local tap akin to their (also pretty good) Donnybrook Stout. Given how well the nitro pour accentuates the beer's flavors, I'm not sure a bottling would work so well (and I doubt the expense of those nitrogen cans would be attractive to Victory at this point).


Oscars Beer Drinking

| No Comments

So I promise I won't promote my other blog all the time, but here at Kaedrin, we have a yearly tradition of watching the Oscars, mocking celebrities, and drinking beer. So stop on by my generalist blog for predictions (which are up now, around noon EST) and frequently updated commentary/mockery (starting with the ceremony, around 8:30 pm EST or so). (To get an idea, see previous liveblogging posts are here: [2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004])

I'll be cracking open a bottle of Firestone Walker Walker's Reserve Porter and maybe a few others throughout the night. It's obviously not the focus of the night - it's more about me accusing celebrities of being drunk rather than getting drunk myself - but I'm a nerd, so I'll be commenting on beer too.

Chocolate Oak Aged Yeti

| No Comments

Great Divide's Yeti Imperial Stout is a hugely popular beer, but it's one that never really connected with me (I gave it a B). I wouldn't call it bad, but perhaps a bit overrated. Well, Great Divide has taken this beer and used it as a chance to experiment. There's a version with Brett, a version with Belgian yeast, and several oak aged varieties - including this one, aged on oak chips with cocoa nibs (apparently there's a "hint of cayenne" as well, though I certainly didn't pick up on that). The regular Yeti sorta emphasizes the things I don't particularly love about stouts, but this treatment - less of the bitter hops and roasted coffee flavors, more in the way of chocolate and vanilla character - is right up my alley:

Great Divide Chocolate Oak Aged Yeti

Great Divide Chocolate Oak Aged Yeti - Pours a thick black color with a finger or so of brown head. Aroma is full of roasted malts and, yes, chocolate. Taste is very sweet, with less of the roastiness than I was expecting (though it's still there), a little bitter dark chocolate, and a very nice vanilla oak character, along with a heaping helping of booze. The finish is relatively dry and bitter, with that bitterness lingering into the aftertaste. I remember the regular Yeti being very bitter too, but this version seems to have a more pleasing bitterness. Mouthfeel is full bodied and boozy, a little bit of alcohol burn, but it works quite well. Overall, I'm much happier with this than I was with the regular yeti. I actually kinda love it, which was surprising... A

Beer Nerd Details: 9.5% ABV bottled (22 oz.) Drank out of a snifter on 2/11/12.

Great Divide has a bunch of these oak aged Yetis, and I'd like to try some of the other ones... The Bourbon Barrel aged version sounds particularly enticing, though the Espresso Oak Aged one might not be my thing...

Adventures in Brewing - Beer #7: Bottling

| 2 Comments

After two weeks in the fermenter, I bottled the single-hopped Simcoe IPA this past weekend. Fermentation started quickly and lasted most of the first week, despite the small batch. About a week into the process, when fermentation had slowed considerably, I cracked the lid and dropped in another ounce of Simcoe hops. I've never done dry hopping before, but it's supposed to impart additional aromas to the beer...

And judging from the smell in my kitchen during bottling day, I'd say that extra step was worth the stretch! Amazing citrus aromas (grapefruit!), not quite as much in the way of pine, but still a great smell.

Final Gravity was 1.012, which is a little lower than expected, but it could also be that low because the Original Gravity wasn't as high as I estimated. That being said, I'd say I'm in for something around 7-7.3% ABV, right at the high end of a single IPA (or the low end of the Double IPA). I gave it a taste, and hoo boy, that citrus is huge. Very nice bitterness in the finish too, though I'm guessing that will mellow out as the beer conditions in the bottle. I'm so very looking forward to this beer! There's nothing quite like a super-fresh IPA, and this is probably as fresh as I'll ever get to taste...

My IPA, straight from the fermenter

I'm planning on cracking one open this weekend, though who knows if it will be carbonated enough. I only got around 1 case of beer out of this batch, but then hugely hopped beers fade with time, so having a case should last just long enough.

Up next is what I'm calling an Earl Grey beer. The base beer will be a sessionable English Bitter (which is a style that has always confused me, since they're not actually that bitter), and I'll be adding some Bergamot oil towards the end of the boil (and maybe even some Earl Grey tea). Should be interesting! After that, I'm going to start working on my Belgian Dubbel for this summer...

Ommegang Aphrodite

| No Comments

Aphrodite is the Greek goddess of love. I swear I didn't plan it this way, but I drank this on the weekend before Valentine's day, which seems mildly appropriate I guess (though Cupid is usually the one associated with the holiday - Cupid is the Roman equivalent of Aphrodite's son Eros, but I digress...) Anywho, Ommegang was my first love in the world of beer, so I always try to catch up with their specialty brews. This one is a Belgian fruit beer made with raspberry and pear, fermented with Ommegang's house strain and Brettanomyces. Not exactly my thing, but again, I like to give Ommegang the benefit of the doubt:

Ommegang Aphrodite

Ommegang Aphrodite - Pours a bright red color with a very light pink head. Smell is difficult to describe. I want to say it's like a fruity syrup, not quite cough syrup, but syrup is the word that most comes to mind. I also get a bit of funk and yeast here, but not quite as strong as the fruitiness. The taste has that same sort of fruity syrupy flavor, maybe a little more into the cough syrup realm here, but also a little on the vinous side. The finish isn't quite tart, but there's a bit here. Perhaps a bit on the spicy side too, though I feel like that hits more in the mouthfeel, which is a bit harsh and sticky. It's very sweet, but it finishes dry. As such, it doesn't quite reach cloying, but drinking a full 750 ml bottle of the stuff is a bit much. A most unusual beer. Not something that is blowing me away, but interesting nonetheless. B

Beer Nerd Details: 8.9% ABV bottled (750 ml caged and corked). Drank out of a tulip glass on 2/10/12.

To be honest, I'm more intrigued in Ommegang's latest release, Seduction, brewed with chocolate and Liefmans Cuvee Brut Kriek. I've been spending the past month and a half or so trying to drink down my cellar a bit, but I may have to peek my head out for a bottle of that stuff. And their forthcoming Art of Darkness is definitely right in my wheelhouse, so definitely look for a review of that one at some point.

La Trappe Quadrupel Barrique (Oak Aged)

| 2 Comments

I don't typically think of the Trappists as being trendy, but here they are, barrel aging their beer. Of course, barrel aging beer isn't a new thing at all, and the Trappists over at Koningshoeven were using barrels back in the late 19th century. Well, they recently decided to restore that tradition and since I'm a total sucker for this sort of treatment, here we are.

The base beer they used was their most excellent Quadrupel, and they've used a variety of different barrels throughout several batches. The bottle I got my hands on was from Batch 3, which featured a blend of beer aged in 3 different barrels:

  • New Oak Medium Toast - 18% of the beer in this batch
  • Port Medium Toast (French Oak) - 55%
  • La Trappe Q. Medium Toast (French Oak) - 27%
At their website, they even list out the common flavors attributed to each type of barrel (at the bottom of the linked page). Ok, so let's get this party started:

La Trappe Quadrupel Oak Aged Batch 3

La Trappe Quadrupel Barrique (Oak Aged) - Batch 3 - Pours a cloudy (visible sediment), deep brown color with a finger of puffy head. The aroma is full of sweet, dark fruit (raisins are clear), bready Belgian yeast, and a sorta red wine-like character (which I suspect is from the port barrels). The taste starts sweet and spicy, complexity emerging in the middle with more pronounced fruit and some of that oak aged quality (vanilla and leather), and a boozy finish (again, wine-like flavors here, probably from the port). Mouthfeel is a little lighter on the carbonation than the regular Quad (less effervescent), but still rich and full bodied. Overall, a wonderful and complex take on an already great beer. A

Beer Nerd Details: 10% ABV bottled (375 ml caged and corked mini-mag). Drank out of a goblet on 2/10/12.

These early batches seemed to favor port barrels and new barrels, but they apparently went through a phase of aging in white wine barrels and have since moved on to old scotch barrels with their latest batches. I'd love to catch up with some of those varieties as well. In fact, it seems like each batch is unique, so if I ever see these again, I'll probably pick up another bottle...

Categories

OpenID accepted here Learn more about OpenID

About

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.

Follow me on Twitter

Like me on Facebook

Toast me on Untappd

Recent Comments

  • Mark: I think I remember you posting something about that back read more
  • Jay Hinman: Cool that you got to go to this, Mark. I read more
  • Mark: No, I obtained this through... methods. Glad I did, as read more
  • Jay Hinman: I don't think I sent this one to you, did read more
  • Mark: Apparently the popularity of single malt and the rise of read more
  • Padraic Hagan: I've had some real winners from the independants. A few read more
  • Mark: You know what the funny thing is? Upton no longer read more
  • Padraic Hagan: I don't...uh...none of my tea is certified, uh, poop free. read more
  • Mark: I've never disliked the bubblegum note (as evidenced by ratings), read more
  • Mark: Padraic will be here all week. 2 drink minimum, tip read more