Russian River Supplication

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Russian River's head brewer, Vinnie Cilurzo, is an interesting guy. He started out in the winemaking world, but was apparently so taken with the fact that you could start drinking beer within a few weeks of brewing that he switched over to beer (ok, it probably wasn't that simple, but it sez so on this bottle of Supplication, so I'm sticking with that story). Perhaps to further taunt his winemaking brethren, Cilurzo started playing around with weird wild yeasts and bacterias when making his beers. Take Supplication, which is a brown ale aged in pinot noir barrels with cherries, brettanomyces, lactobacillus, and pediococcus. Those critters certainly add a nice, complex sourness to a beer that would already be pretty flavorful. They're also an anathema to winemakers, who apparently think Cilurzo is a nutbag for using stuff like Brett. It's rumored that those folks won't even enter Russian River's brewpubs for fear of picking up some sort of bug that they'll inadvertently bring back to their winery, infecting their wine (apparently these are hearty little creatures that are difficult to get rid of).

The irony here is that this beer was aged for well over a year before being bottled, so it looks like Cilurzo hasn't completely escaped his winemaking roots. But this series of beers that he's created (all aged in old wine barrels of various styles) is quite interesting, and I have to wonder if we'll see more coordinated wine and beer collaborations in the future (another brewery that mixes expertise from both the wine and beer worlds is apparently Firestone Walker, a brewery I need to become more acquainted with). Ok, enough babble, onto the beer:

Russian River Supplication

Russian River Supplication - The cork for this was really jammed in there. I normally don't have any issues opening corked bottles of beer, but this one took some coaxing. Pours a really gorgeous clear amber brown (copper?) color with a finger of quickly disappearing white head. The smell is filled with sweetness and funk. You get some of that wine and cherry character along with the typical funky Brett aromas. Sourness hits immediately in the taste, followed by cherries and a dry, red-wine-like finish. The sourness is really the most prominent element here, but it's well balanced with the other elements. Mouthfeel features the characteristic twang of sour beers, but it's compulsively drinkable. A wonderful beer, probably favorite of Russian River's sours (that I've tasted so far). A-

Beer Nerd Details: 7% ABV bottled (375 ml caged and corked mini-magnum). Drank out of a tulip glass on 9/4/11. According to the label, this bottle was from batch 006X2, brewed on 11/7/2009 and bottled on 1/5/2011 (so it was not quite 2 years old when I drank it).

Well, I'm either getting the hang of this sour thing, or Supplication really is just that good. I will no doubt continue to dabble in the world of sour beers, though it doesn't look like I have any in the pipeline right now, so it may be a while.

Aventinus the Wise

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Both the name of this beer and its label make me think it's going to tell my fortune or something. Perhaps I'll open the bottle, and instead of delicious beer, I'll get a piece of paper with a cryptic message predicting my future, like "You will invent a humorous toilet lid" or "You will be aroused by a shampoo commercial" or something appropriately weird*. As it turns out, Aventinus was named after a famous Bavarian historian and fortunately, my bottle was indeed full of delicious beer:

Schneider Aventinus

Schneider Aventinus - Pours a very cloudy, medium brown color. Smell is full of bananas and clove, but in more of a wheat beer way than a Belgian yeast way. Really wonderful, complex aroma here. Taste is sweet and spicy, some fruitiness and spiciness (clove?) and a nice, dry finish. Wheat is also present, and it even comes out a bit in the aftertaste. Drinks pretty easy for an 8.2% ABV. Overall, a really good beer and I can certainly see why it's considered a classic. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 8.2% ABV bottled (500 ml). Drank out of a goblet on 9/3/11.

I'm quite behind on my reviews at this point, but I'm also trying to slow my intake down after the whole Texas debacle vacation.

* Yeah, yeah, another stolen Simpsons gag.

Texas Beer Dispatch

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As previously mentioned, I spent the last week watching horror, SF, action and just plain weird movies, not to mention hobbits beating the crap out of each other (see my other blog for thoughts on the movies and other events of Fantastic Fest). Of course, nearly all of this was accompanied by beer. I must say, the Alamo Drafthouse is one awesome venue for a number of reasons, but right now, I'll just say that it represents a melding of two passions: beer and movies. They've got some common offerings, but most of their beer menu is local craft stuff, and I spent most of the week sampling beers I've never heard of and can't really get up here in PA. As I mentioned in an update to my previous post, I was tracking my beers via Untappd all week, but then, I was also watching movies and talking a lot, so take the below thoughts with a grain of salt. Alright, here goes (in roughly the order in which they were drank):

  • Live Oak Oaktoberfest - So not only local beers, but local seasonals - and this is a pretty damn good one. I wouldn't say it's a spectacular beer, but it was exactly what I was looking for out of an Octoberfest beer, and one of the better examples I've ever head of that style. B+
  • Shiner Bock - You can't got to Texas and not have at least one of these, right? And Shiner happened to be a sponsor of the festival, so these were available in abundance, sometimes even being handed out for free. I've talked about this beer before, though that was on another trip so I didn't actually rate it. It's certainly nothing special, but it's a solid beer and it's hard to argue with free pints, right? B
  • New Belgium Hoptober - Ok, so this isn't a local Texas beer, but New Belgium doesn't really distribute here (though they have started in Maryland) so I always try some of their stuff whenever I can. I would have described this as a very good IPA, but BA calls it an "American Blonde Ale"? Strange because, as the name suggests, it's massively hoppy. A really nice piney hop aroma. Well matched sweetness and hop bitterness in the taste. Overall, a really good brew, one of my favorites of the week. B+
  • Lagunitas Mystery Red Ale - So on Friday, my local Austin friends took me out and I ended up getting some sort of Lagunitas seasonal beer which I can't recall, but it was a red ale of some sort, very hoppy and tasty. I actually enjoyed this one immensely, so I wish I remembered what it was called. I think it may have been the Lucky 13, but who knows. B+
  • Independence Brewluminati Braggot - Well, braggot has gone from a style I'd never heard of to a style I've had two examples of in the past few weeks or so (the other being Weyerbacher's Sixteen). Go figure. I don't know that this one was as good as Weyerbacher's offering, but it was still a nice change of pace and worthy beer. It was lighter in color, so honey flavors dominated the taste more, but I still really enjoyed it. B
  • Real Ale Fireman's #4 - Another blonde ale and apparently another of Austin's typical session beers, as it was available all over. It's not a mind-blowing beer or anything, but pretty good for a simple blonde ale. It's got some subtle bready caramel notes, but is otherwise pretty straightforward. I only had one, but it's certainly a worthy session beer and I'd try it again. B-
  • North by Northwest Black Jack (Bourbon Barrel Aged) - Local friends took me out to dinner at this most excellent brewpub, where I had their bourbon barrel aged black ale (BA calls it a Belgian dark ale, but I don't think that's right). It's quite fantastic. I didn't detect a ton in the nose, but damn, that taste is fantastic (and once I had some headroom in the glass to swirl the beer around, the nose came out more). Rich flavors of caramel malts, bourbon, vanilla, a light oakiness, and maybe even some chocolate. Just a hint of toasted malts, but nothing like a stout. Very well balanced - no flavor dominates, making for a very complex brew. Appropriately carbonated, but a smooth and creamy mouthfeel. Not too heavy and not too boozy, but it's certainly not a lightweight either. Probably my favorite beer of the week. A-
  • Thirsty Planet Buckethead IPA - This is the sort of beer that makes me feel like IPAs are kinda... samey. It's hoppy in the nose and the taste, and it's bitter, but it's kinda one-note. Not much going on here. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed it, but there wasn't really anything special about it. C+
  • (512) IPA - Now this IPA, on the other hand, was maybe the best I'd had all week. Great citrus/pine nose, well balanced sweet/bitter combo in the taste (with some of that citrus/pine shining through). Nice and complex, a very well made beer. And damn, I didn't try any other (512) beers. Given this one, I probably should have sought them out! B+
  • Left Hand Milk Stout - Another non-TX beer that isn't super common in PA, so I gave this one a shot too. It's very good, roasty, coffee and chocolate flavors and that milk stout chalkiness (probably the wrong way to describe it, but it seems common to the milk stouts I've had recently). Well done, but nothing super special either. B
  • Stone Arrogant Bastard - So this one's really not local, nor is it something hard to come by, but I'd had a bunch of drinks that night, and was settling in for the Fantastic Feud, so I gots me a comfort beer. If you're reading this blog and need me to describe Arrogant Bastard... I'm sorry. Actually, I wouldn't call it a favorite, but it's of course very good. B+
  • Independence Bootlegger Brown - I have to admit that I'm no expert on brown ales, but this one didn't really do the trick for me. It was fine for what it was - a dark, roasty, almost stout-like ale, but there wasn't really much complexity to it. I had no problems putting one down, but it doesn't really stick out for me at all either. B-
  • Live Oak Hefeweizen - I enjoy a good Hefe as much as the next guy, but they do tend to get pretty boring... but not this one! Wow, what a fantastic (pun intended) brew. If I had this earlier in the week, I'd have certainly had more of them. Really wonderful aroma of bananas and clove. Typical wheat and yeasty flavors mixed with a surprising fruitiness. Well balanced, complex, and a joy to drink. A-
  • Avery White Rascal - Another non-TX beer, but since I was rockin the wheat beers, I gave this one a shot. It's... not as good as the Live Oak, but it is pretty tasty all the same. Perhaps if I didn't have these two wheat beers back to back, I would have rated this higher. B
  • Bear Republic Racer 5 - Yeah, I've had this before and of course it's very good. I don't really have much to say about it - hoppy and bitter! - but if you like a good IPA, it hits the spot. B+
Well, there you have it, a successful outing and quite a variety of new beers I'd never heard of before. If you're ever in Austin, I recommend anything by Live Oak, as they seemed to have put together the best lineup (yeah, I only had 2 of their beers, but BA seems to rate the others pretty highly too). Before I left, I did stop off at a grocery store and picked up a big beer to bring home: Jester King's Wytchmaker Rye IPA in a fancy 750 ml bottle. Look for a review... uh, in the next month or so! Overall, I'm pretty jealous of Austinites. Not only do they have the best movie theater I've ever been too, but they can drink beer there too. We really need to get us some Alamo Drafthouse style places up here.

Gone Fishin'

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Or rather, gone movie watchin'. I'll be heading to Austin, TX for Fantastic Fest, so expect posting to be light for the next week or so. Fantastic Fest is a genre film festival (lots of horror, SF, action, and just plain weird stuff) and it's held at an Alamo Drafthouse. I've never been to one, but damn, a movie theater with good beer available? Near as I can tell, they've got lots of local Texas beers available - stuff from Live Oak, Independence (including a series of beers called the Brewluminati), (512), Jester King, Thirsty Planet, and presumably lots of others. And that's just at the theater. So there will be some beer bloggery resulting from this, maybe even while I'm there.

fantastic fest

If anyone's got any Texas beer recommendations, leave a comment. I'll try and find some (and maybe even smuggle some home). See you soon.

Update: Had some trouble with the commenting system, but everything should be working now!

Again Update: Just FYI, I've been keeping track of my beer dorkery on untappd. Will try to get a recap up on the blog towards the end of the week! So far, so good!

Weyerbacher Sixteen

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Every year, Weyberbacher brews an anniversary batch, often choosing a relatively obscure style. Past styles include a Wheatwine, a Smoked Imperial Stout, and a beer that utilizes a Calagione level of obscure spices. This year's installment describes itself as a Dark Braggot Ale. Right, so what the hell is that? Apparently Braggot is a Welsh variety of mead, one which is brewed with a mixture of honey and malts along with hops. Well, don't mind if I do:

Weyerbacher Sixteen

Weyerbacher Sixteen - Pours a very dark amber color, almost brown with a finger of light colored head. The nose is filled with the sweetness of fruity malts and honey. The taste has a very sweet pop in the middle and a really clean finish. Lots of fruity notes detected. No real aftertaste either, which is interesting. Well carbonated and medium bodied, you get a bit of alcohol burn, but it doesn't overwhelm, instead giving the beer some additional character. Overall it's a complex, unique and welcome change of pace for me. If I were a bigger fan of honey, I'd probably love this beer even more. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 10.5% ABV bottled (12 oz). Drank out of a tulip glass on 9/3/11.

Given the dark color and high alcohol, I'd be interested in seeing how this stands up over time. It's probably all gone by now, but if I see more, I'll probably pick some up. Weyerbacher continues to be one of the more interesting local breweries. I don't know that I've had anything revelatory from them, but they're always interesting. That brand redesign they mentioned a few months ago needs to come soon. I mean, their logo is the woefully overused comic sans* text (with an underline). Comic Sans! Word on the street is that Greg at the Pour Curator interviewed them about the redesign a while back, but he has not posted it just yet. Will be curious to read it though.

* Incidentally, Russian River uses comic sans as well, though not in their branding. They should probably stop that too, though it's not as distracting there.

Old Viscosity

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So apparently, back in the day, there was a place called Pizza Port. They served, naturally enough, pizza. Later, they added a small brewery on the premises and became a brewpub. In 2006, they bought a brewery formerly owned by Stone, and started up Port Brewing and The Lost Abbey as independent brewing ventures. The big name brewer at all these locations is a guy named Tomme Arthur, and he seems to be wracking up the kudos ever since. Seriously, they make comics out of him and everything. I'm not all that familiar with his beers, so I've been angling to get my hands on some of late, including this one:

Port Brewing Old Viscosity

Port Brewing Old Viscosity - While certainly not the first beer to use old engine oil as a metaphor, I do have to wonder how appetizing that association really is. Well whatever, I still say if you're going to make that distinction, you should just go whole-hog and package your beer in an old-timey oil can, complete with that funky spout that you have to jam into the can in order to open it. Uh, yeah, so onto this beer: Pours a very dark brown/black color with a finger of light tan head. The aroma has a lot of roastiness, but also some of those oak notes and even some booziness. The taste is sweet, roasty, and very boozy. You get a lot of heat from the alcohol and there's also a nice dry dark chocolate bitterness that emerges in the finish. The oak aging has clearly imparted some character here, but it's more about texture and body than flavor. It's not as full bodied or rich as I'd expect though, perhaps because of that strong alcohol presence, but it's very bold and aggressive stuff. It's certainly good and very complex, but something about this just isn't gelling for me. I like it and had no problem polishing off a bottle, but it's not something I'd go out of my way to try again. B

Beer Nerd Details: 10.5% ABV bottled (22 oz. bomber). Drank out of a tulip glass on 9/2/11.

I'm still looking forward to trying their Mongo IPA, which has a great reputation, and of course, the entire Lost Abbey line holds interest for me. Nothing in the cellar as of yet. I'm sure you're worried about that, and I thank you for your concern, but I assure you I'll get there. Really. Scout's honor (A cub scout still counts as a scout, right?)

Septembeer Club

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Today was beer club! The event seems to have waned a bit in recent months, but we've always got a core group of about 4-5 folks who always come and always bring new beers. I'm pretty excited for the next beer club meetup in about two weeks, which will be at The Whip, an English style pub that we went to a while back. Anyway, tonight's offerings included:

Septembeer Club

No real theme this month, though one member had just gotten back from a cruise and thus had smuggled some Caribbean beer. Otherwise, it was kinda stoutish this month. Here's what we had (listed in order of left to right from the picture above):

  • Cayman Islands Caybrew - This is apparently the premium beer of the Cayman Islands. And it is quite bad! Well, no, it's not the worst beer ever, but it's got a very typical American Macro aroma and flavor going on, very Millerish (think High Life or MGD), and it's packaged in a green bottle! Would probably be decent after sitting in the sun all day, but it didn't really do anything for us tonight. D+
  • Belize Belikin - Another Caribbean lager in the style of a Macro, this one even less flavorful and nondescript. It's pretty horrible. D-
  • North Coast Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout - My contribution for the night, and probably the best beer I had all night. Nice and sweet, with a surprising hop aroma and flavor. Perhaps because of that, it's got a nice, almost fruity character to go along with the typical sweet and roasty flavors. At 9%, it's got a bit of a booziness to it, but very well matched. I quite enjoyed it. I've had a couple of these before, and I believe I have another one in the fridge, so perhaps I'll do a dedicated review at some point. For now, let's give it a B+, though it might eek its way into A- territory, depending on my mood.
  • Mackeson Triple XXX Stout - Apparently once a classic British Milk Stout, this beer has since been acquired by Inbev (scourge of the beer world) and discontinued, though for a time it was contract brewed in the US (but even that brewery is now defunct). There is apparently a 3% version (non XXX?) brewed by Wells & Young in England, but this one was a 4.9% Milk Stout brewed in Trinidad & Tobago (no idea if this is the same recipe as the discontinued beer, or if it's still owned by Inbev). Whatever the case, it's actually a pretty solid Milk Stout. It reminded me a lot of the Lancaster Milk Stout I reviewed recently. Not especially my style, perhaps a little too roasty or coffee-like, but definitely well made. B
  • My Homebrewed Stout - My other contribution. It's definitely come out a bit more on the roasty side than I planned, but then, it's also got a nice caramel characteristic as well. It seemed to go over very well with the Beer Club crowd. Some even preferred it to Old Rasputin! Personally, it's not exactly what I was going for, but I do really enjoy it. I should probably catch up on all my homebrews in terms of reviews at some point, but for now, I'll give it a solid B (it's also still a bit on the young side, so it may even get better).
  • DuClaw Naked Fish - The bottle sez it's a Chocolate Raspberry Stout and boy does that aroma sell it. It smells very much like that raspberry syrup that you get on fancy dessert plates, with some chocolate and very faint roasty aromas also around. In terms of taste, it's more dark chocolate than raspberry, again with just a hint of roastiness. I did enjoy this, but it also seemed a bit on the light side (which makes a bit of sense for a 4.6% beer). I'd rather have it hit with more sweetness and a richer, deeper body. Still, this is pretty well done. I'd try it again. B
  • Allentown Brew Works Funky Monkey - Beer club member from Allentown brought this local brewpub growler of a beer I can't seem to find any listing for. It's a saison-style beer, and from the aroma and taste, I'd say it's got a very light dose of Brettanomyces as well (and given the title "Funky" Monkey and that the Brew Works makes other saisons Monkey Wrench and Space Monkey, that sorta makes sense). It's actually quite good, nice and sweet with just a bit of that distinctive Brett twang. Not sour at all, but definitely funky. B
  • Dana's Homebrewed Imperial Wheat - The bottle was a bit of a gusher, but once we got it settled down, it was pretty darn good, though the Imperial Wheat style can be a bit weird. The typical wheat flavors are there, but in a muted fashion. Very sweet and extremely boozy - so much so that it sorta overwhelms the typical wheatines. Not sure if that's typical of the style or what, but I did enjoy drinking this, even if it was a bit on the strong side. B
And that about covers the beer. As usual, take the ratings with a grain of salt, as conditions were not ideal for uber-beer-nerdery (but they were ideal for fun, so there). I do kinda fudge the club name a bit, as it's more of a "beverage club" or even just a "supper club", meaning that not everyone who comes drinks beer. In the past, we've had Sake, root beer, and almost always wine. This month was no exception - we had a bottle of Coppola Merlot, which to my palate tasted quite sweet, with a nice dry finish. But then, I just finished sampling a bunch of roasty stouts. All in all, another successful outing. Look for the Whip recap in about two weeks! And it would probably make sense to do a fall seasonal theme next month too. Exciting!

Why do breweries use green bottles?

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One of the things I don't really understand about the beer world is why so many beers use green bottles. When beer is exposed to ultraviolet light for a certain period of time, certain molecules (basically the stuff contributed by hops) start to break down and cause bad flavors. This is what's called "light-struck" beer, but it's more commonly known as "skunked" beer. Brown bottles provide a large degree of protection, but apparently don't make the beer invulnerable (unless you've got your brown bottle baking in the sun for a long time, you should be ok). However, green and clear bottles provide nearly no protection from UV rays, and thus those beers can get skunked rather easily. Incidentally, cans? They actually provide the best protection, which is one of the reasons you see so much talk of craft beer in cans these days.

This begs the question: If light is so bad for beer and if green and clear bottles don't provide any protection, why do breweries use green or clear bottles? Sure, some of the crappy imports do, but even really good beers use green bottles. A while ago, I got drunk and sent out a series of pedantic (but polite!) emails to a bunch of my favorite breweries that nevertheless use green bottles. I asked why they used the green bottles and if it had anything to do with cost, tradition, or marketing. I didn't get a response from Dupont, but Yuengling was very responsive and provided a very forthright and honest explanation:

Thanks for your recent inquiry regarding our usage of green glass.

We make 7 year round beer brands and 1 seasonal Bock Beer. Currently, 2 are offered in green glass.....Lager and Lord Chesterfield Ale. The others are in a standard brown.

Your questions are great...let me address a few as I go. First, green is definitely not less expensive. It's actually harder to source in the quantities we need.

Originally, when Dick Yuengling reintroduced Lager in 1987, he placed it in brown glass and had a very different label designed than what we know today. In the early 1990s he decided to redesign the packaging entirely.....he knew he had a great beer that was different than other full calorie beers on the market at the time. But the brown glass and original label just didn't make it look "special". It looked like every other beer on the market. There was no point of difference.

When the label was redesigned to what we know today, Dick also considered a change to green glass. First, no other domestic brand was in green. Miller High Life was in clear. So was MGD back then. But the "special" beers of that time were mainly imports. Becks, St Pauli, Lowenbrau, etc. All green glass.

So the shift to green was a marketing shift.....a point of difference for this special beer.

You are accurate....green is less protective of the product than brown. We have been working closely with our glass supplier who has developed a UV coating to apply to the outside of the bottle. This is in early stages of development. We are also considering a "high wall" six pack carrier to protect the bottles on the shelf. But there are also other packaging considerations to sort through. But the bottom line is that it's always a concern to protect the integrity of our products. Luckily, our Lager turns very quickly on the shelf so we rarely get complaints about this product. We do sometimes get off taste feedback on chesterfield ale, which we make good to our customers on a case by case basis.

With all that said, cans are actually the best vessel for packaged beer. Very many craft breweries are figuring that out now. Luckily nearly all of our brands are available in cans.

Thanks again for the email and for your support of our brewery!

Ah Marketing! The Alehead's worst enemy. It is funny because I've always noticed that I enjoy Lager the most out of the can or on tap, but until I started getting all beer nerdy, I never really put two and two together. Also, it's rather heartening to see that they're researching UV coatings for their beer, though I'm guessing it will be a while before that happens (and honestly, at this point, switching to brown bottles would probably be fine).

I'm still a little baffled when I see beers from Dupont or Fantôme in big green bottles though (even more confusing - Dupont sells smaller bottles of Saison Dupont that come in capped brown bottles!) During Philly Beer Week a while back, I asked an importer why so many good beers use green glass. He said he didn't know, but he always assumed it was tradition. I would bet marketing probably has more to do with it (especially given Yuengling's response), but I'll still be forever confused as to why a brewery with the reputation of Mikkeller would use green bottles for something (seriously, I just bought a bottle of Mikkeller barleywine, and it came in a green bottle).

Sly Fox Pikeland Pils

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This is one of Sly Fox's flagship brews, and one of the more popular local pilsners... but can it hold up to Victory's Prima Pils? I have to admit that the pilsener style isn't one of my favorites, though they sometimes do hit the spot.

Sly Fox Pikeland Pils

Sly Fox Pikeland Pils - Pours a clear golden yellow color with tons of loose, large-bubbled head. It's got that distinct earthy, floral hop aroma (Saaz hops?) that I associate with pilseners, which follows through to the taste. The taste is pretty straightforward stuff, pale malts with the light hoppy bitterness that characterizes the pilsener style. Mouthfeel is well carbonated but very light and easy to drink. Overall, maybe better than your average pilsener, but again, this isn't really my favorite style and it certainly hasn't unseated Prima Pils. B-

Beer Nerd Details: 4.9% ABV canned (12 oz). Drank out of a pint glass on 9/2/11.

Sly Fox is still one of the more interesting local brewpubs, and I look forward to trying more of their beer. I've even got a couple cans of their IPA ready to go...

The Curious Case of Brewdog Storm

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In case it's not entirely obvious, I'm a complete sucker for barrel aged beers. I don't talk about it much on this blog, but I'm also a fan of Scotch. So beers aged in Scotch casks are doubly appealing to me. Enter Brewdog's Storm, an 8% IPA aged in Islay whisky casks. For the non-Scotch nerds among my readers*, Islay is a small island off the Western coast of Scotland that is the home of 8 active distilleries. There are, of course, lots of variations between each distillery, but one of the central characteristics of Islay Scotch is a smoky character derived from peat (think Laphroaig, Lagavulin, and Ardbeg, though there are less peaty varieties of Islay Scotch). So when someone says they're aging a beer in Islay whisky casks, you should expect to find the smoky, peaty, almost medicinal flavors of the scotch somewhere in the taste.

Unfortunately, somewhere along the way, something went dreadfully wrong with this beer, perhaps compounded by a mysterious labeling snafu.

Brewdog Storm

Brewdog Storm - Pours a hazy golden orange color with almost no head, and what was there had big bubbles (i.e. it was mostly just the way I poured). The nose is full of Scotch whisky, peat smoke and not much else. There are some subtle beery aromas around if you really look for it, but they are faint. The taste is extremely smoky, with some sweetness and not much in the way of bitterness (which really only comes out in the aftertaste, mixed in with some additional peatiness). There are maybe some interesting complexities in the taste, but it's also not particularly well balanced. Mouthfeel is thin, definitely too light on the carbonation. Overall, it's completely overpowered by the peat smoke and scotch aromas and flavors. I like scotch (because I'm manly), so I thought maybe this might be ok when I started the beer, but it was ultimately not a good experience. The base beer was apparently an 8% IPA, but it absolutely does not stand up to the scotch at all. Also, as discussed recently, aging an IPA is a tricky proposition. Hop flavors tend to fade with time, which definitely seems to be the case here (especially given that it may be an older bottle than I initially thought, see below) - I really don't get any hop aromas or flavors, save a little bitterness in the finish. It's an interesting idea, but there are some major balance issues here and it's really not working for me. A tentative D - given the nerdy mystery below, I'm not sure what to make of this. Perhaps a "fresh" bottle would be better.

Beer Nerd Details: 8% ABV bottled (11.2 oz). Drank out of a tulip glass on 9/10/11. Label sez: Batch 13, best before 2/2/12.

Hmm, I looked a little closer at my bottle and I noticed that the batch and date details were on a sticker. I carefully peeled it off, revealing:

Brewdog Storm sticker thingy

Sorry about the craptacular picture (you can click it to see a bigger, blurrier version if you like), my old phone isn't quite up to the task, but what the hell? It says best before 2/2/10 on the original label. No wonder it's so bad! I suppose it could have just been a labeling mistake (which has been known to happen) that was band-aided with the sticker thingy... or it could be a really old bottle (which might explain why this didn't taste particularly fresh) that was re-labeled in order to trick people into thinking it was "fresh". I don't know what to make of this. Anyone ever run into that sort of thing?

I'm scratching my head over this. There are numerous points of contact that could be the source of the problem, so who knows where the fault lies. If there actually is a problem. It seems the nerds on Beer Advocate were also not very taken with this beer, giving it a C (for reference, PBR gets a C+). Even if it is just a bad beer, I'm still not soured on Brewdog. I have a few Devine Rebels (which, granted, were a collaboration with beer-god Mikkeller) aging right now, and another of their Scotch barrel aged beers, though Paradox uses a stout as its base beer, so I'm hoping that will work better.

* Actually, I estimate that at least 33% of the people likely reading this are big Scotch fans and probably know a lot more about Islay whisky than I do.

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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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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