Dogfish Head Indian Brown Ale

| No Comments

You know how no one knows what to call American Black Ales (aka India Dark Ale, Black IPA, Cascadian Dark Ale, etc...)? Well just imagine if this beer became a common style. of course, it's Dogfish Head, so no one else will be trying this style - a mix between a Scotch Ale, a Brown Ale, and an IPA - anytime soon (BA calls it an American Brown Ale, which is probably the dominant element, so I guess that makes sense).

Dogfish Head Indian Brown Ale

Dogfish Head Indian Brown Ale - Pours a very dark brown color with plenty of head. Nose is filled with roasted malt aromas and maybe even some coffee. Taste features that same roastiness coupled with a nice, bracing bitterness throughout the taste and in the aftertaste. The mouthfeel is surprisingly light (though still a medium body), with ample carbonation and a nice smooth feel. Very well crafted, but also not really in my wheelhouse. I'm giving it a B, but I have a feeling there are some folks out there who would go bonkers for this.

Beer Nerd Details: 7.2% ABV bottled (12 oz.) Drank out of a tulip glass on 7/8/11. IBU: 50

Despite the odd mish-mash of styles here, this is one of Dogfish Head's "normal" year-round brews. There are actually a few of those that I haven't had before, so you may see a few more in the near future. And probably some extreme brews, because the first batch of 120 Minute IPA in a few years is coming out soon. And I think I have a bottle of Squall IPA around somewhere too...

Julytful Beer Club

| No Comments

Get it? Julytful, like delightful! Eh, so yeah, good beer puns are sometimes hard to come by. Consider yourselves lucky, as a British attendee to this month's beer club contributed this one, which superceded my initial thought of Brewly Beer Club (which isn't the worst possible beer pun, but still pretty terrible). For the uninitiated, the beer club is basically just a bunch of folks from my work who get together once a month to enjoy a nice dinner together... along with lots of different beers and wines and other alcoholic wonders. A relatively small group of people this month, but lots of beer (thanks mostly to a club member who was just on vacation in Ohio recently, and thus was able to bring a bunch of beers we've never seen or heard of before!). Here's what we had:

July Beer Club Beers
(Click for bigger image)

For reference, here are some brief thoughts on each. As usual, this isn't exactly ideal tasting conditions, so take them with a grain of salt, but still... From left to right in the picture:

  • Troegs Dead Reckoning - Very nice porter. Roasty and smooth, but not overpowering. I'm not normally a huge fan of porters, but this one's pretty decent. Not something that's lighting the world on fire, but good in it's own way. Unfortunately, it was probably overshadowed by a couple of stouts we had later in the tasting... I'll give it a B
  • Ohio Brewing Verich Gold - A kolsch style ale that's not particularly good. It reminded me of a typical Bud/Miller/Coors style beer, with a bit of a twang. It's a beer that might be ok on its own, but when drank side-by-side with a bunch of other good beers, it just pales in comparison. I suppose it just ain't my style of beer.. but then, it was also pretty much the unanimous worst beer of the night among beer club peeps. D
  • Thirsty Dog 12 Dogs of Christmas Ale - Probably the worst time of the year to drink a winter warmer style beer, but I quite enjoyed this spicy beer. It's relatively dark, but not roasty. Very spicy with a full malt backbone. Some folks thought it was almost too spicy ,but I quite enjoyed this beer. B+
  • Great Lakes Holy Moses White Ale - Seriously one of the best Belgian wit beers I've ever had, rivaling the likes of Victory's Whirlwind Wit and Ommegange's Witte. Very effervescent, almost lemony, but with lots of balancing spiciness of the light variety (coriander, orange peel, etc..) Right up there at the top of the list for wheat beers. B+
  • Thirsty Dog Cerberus Belgian Tripel - Nice fancy foil packaging, with a beer to match. Extremely sweet and boozy, it's a bit hot for the style, but very good. There was a bit of a twang to it that I could place, but which differentiated it from other examples of the style. Quite good. B+
  • Great Lakes Commodore Perry IPA - I've had this beer a few times before... and have never really enjoyed it. It's not particularly bad, but it's definitely a victim of circumstances, as I always find myself trying one when I've already had much better beers. By the time I got to this tonight, it just wasn't doing it for me. Again, not a bad IPA, but not particularly accomplished either. C+
  • Hoppin' Frog B.O.R.I.S. The Crusher Oatmeal-Imperial Stout - We tried to drink the beers listed here from lightest to darkest, and this one ended up being the last beer of the night... and the best! Dark as night and seemingly thick, with a nice brownish head. Very sweet, chocolaty, and roasty, with a nice booziness apparent. A wonderful imperial stout. The name of the bear stands for "Bodacious Oatmeal Russian Imperial Stout", and it's well worth the moniker. A-
  • Hoppin' Frog Turbo Shandy - A shandy is normally a beer mixed with a citrus flavored soda like 7up or Sprite. Usually this is something that happens after the fact - a beer coctail, as it were. But some breweries release shandies right in the bottle... and in this case, the beer really does taste like a 7up/Sprite... Extremely sweet and crispt, maybe some lemony/lime feeling to it, and you can't really even detect the relatively strong 7% ABV. Would perhaps make a good lawnmower beer, but not particularly something I'm all that interested in... C+
  • Rogue Shakespeare Stout - Another oatmeal stout, this one was second to last in the drinking order, and quite a solid example of the stile. Very chocolately, but with a surprising earthy feel to it. This is quite good, but not great. B+
  • Red's Rye Pale Ale - I know next to nothing about Rye beer, but I have a few more of these in the fridge, so expect a full review in the nearish future. Initial impressions are quite positive.
  • My Homebrewed Saison - This actually turned out far better than I was expecting. It seemed to be a general success with the folks of beer club, and it's the first beer I've made so far that I really enjoy drinking from start to finish. It's very light in its way, but it makes up for that with some Belgian yeast spiciness and a nice hoppy aproma/taste character (though it's not particularly bitter). My favorite batch so far. Makes me want to pour my last batch down the drain!

And that covers all the beer we had... Someone did bring a bottle of Australian wine, but they said they were a bit disappointed by it (no idea what it was called). Good times, as always, and I'm already looking forward to the next meetup.

Anchor Steam

| No Comments

So, what happens when you take a lager yeast and brew it at ale temperatures? In general, lager yeasts like to ferment at relatively low temperatures (somewhere around 50° or so), while ales favor warmer temperatures (let's call it 70°, though there's actually a pretty broad range). 19th century Californians, lacking refrigeration or even natural sources of cool water, didn't really have much choice in the matter. The result is called Steam beer, aka California Common.

There's no clear record on how the style gained the "Steam" moniker, but there's plenty of speculation. The higher temperatures seem to create more carbon dioxide during the fermentation process, leading to high pressures in the various brewing vessels. One school of thought says that this buildup of pressure necessitated a release of steam before the process could complete. Another theory is that brewers, having no easy way to cool the wort after the boil, would pump the hot, steaming liquid into a series of shallow, open top bins outside the brewery, thus cooling the wort and ensconcing the brewery in a cloud of steam. Whatever the case, there is one beer that pretty much exemplifies the style:

Anchor Steam

Anchor Steam - Anchor is one of the founding pillars of the American craft beer movement, and this steam beer has long been their flagship. Pours a nice, clear amber color with tons of head. Smell is sweet and fruity. Taste has a nice earthy malt backbone with a surprisingly dry finish. The body is light, crisp and easy to drink. Overall, an excellent session beer, one I could drink all night... B

Beer Nerd Details: 4.9% ABV bottled (12 oz). Drank out of a shaker pint glass on 7/8/11.

Anchor will, of course, be making more appearances on the blog in the near future, and as always, I look forward to the next iteration of Anchor's Christmas Ale.

Victory St. Boisterous

| No Comments

Have you ever seen that episode of The Simpsons where Reverend Lovejoy loses the faith and Marge becomes "The Listen Lady"? At one point, while Reverend Lovejoy sits alone and depressed in the church, the stained glass windows in the church come to life and chastise him for failing to inspire his congregation. The joke is that the circumstances of each window are rather gruesome:

Stained Glass Window from The Simpsons

The one on the far left features a man standing in a boiling cauldron, the second one is a man holding his own decapitated head, and the last one is a man being eaten by a lion. This is mean to be parody; making fun of the Christian fascination with martyrs and the violence they endured. And yet anyone who has spent their childhood in Church and other related areas will see that, like a lot of parodies, this one strikes home more than you might suspect. Witness saint Adrian:

Stained Glass Window of Saint Adrian

At first it looks kinda normal and then you notice... What's the deal with that sword? Wait, where are his hands? Is that... bone? Yes, apparently St. Adrian was a martyr who had his hands cut off at the wrist. In all honesty, that Simpsons parody isn't really that much of a parody.

Fortunately for the rest of us, Victory's Spring seasonal Maibock, St. Boisterous, does not feature any such macabre imagery on its label, and the beer itself is generally more uplifting.

Victory St. Boisterous

Victory St. Boisterous - Pours a clear golden/yellow color with a finger or two of head. Aroma is dry with a sweet malt character (maybe honey?) and some floral hops as well. There's just a hint of fruitiness apparent. Taste is surprisingly hoppy at the outset, but it doesn't last through the finish, which is sweet and sticky. Surprisingly rich and full bodied for such a light colored beer. The alcohol is more prominent than expected, all throughout the taste, which I guess means that this beer is living up to its boisterous name. Overall, it's still an interesting beer that's reasonably well done. B

Beer Nerd Details: 7.3% ABV bottled (12 oz.) Drank out of a goblet on 7/2/11.

Victory also makes a Doppelbock called St. Victorious, which I'm pretty sure I've had before, but not recently. I'll have to try that one out (it's a Winter seasonal, so I'll have to wait a while).

Shipwrecked

| No Comments

This bottle sez: "Double India Pale Ale. A style of beer curiously born on the foggy shores of Father Junipero Serra's first founding mission." I can't really find any historical evidence about DIPAs being born in old Spanish Missions, but it's easy to see why a brewery that calls itself "Mission" would use Serra as their inspiration. As near as I can tell, Serra was never actually shipwrecked either, but on the other hand, it was the 18th century. I'm sure anyone traveling on the high seas back then got into some pretty hairy situations.

Mission Shipwrecked Double IPA

Mission Shipwrecked Double IPA - Pours a nice amber color with a finger of head and some lacing as I drink. The smell is a nice combo of citrusy hops and caramel. Taste is very sweet with just enough bitterness to balance it out, but otherwise not much going on here, and given that it's a double IPA, I was expecting a bit more bitterness here. As it warms, the alcohol becomes more prominent, though never overpowering or anything. It's got a medium body and a relatively smooth and slick mouthfeel. Overall a decent entry in the overcrowded DIPA field, but it's got some balance issues. B

Beer Nerd Details: 9.25% ABV bottled (22 oz bomber). Drank out of a tulip glass on 7/3/11. IBU: 75. Hops: Cascade, Magnum, Centennial and CTZ.

This beer is perhaps more interesting than a "B" implies, which is similar to my reaction to Mission's Blonde (which I gave a B-). So Mission is indeed an interesting brewery that shows a lot of promise... I'll be keeping an eye out for more of their brews.

Cockeyed Cooper

| 3 Comments

A couple years ago, brewery Uinta started a new line of high-alcohol beers under the "Crooked Line" banner. The marketing fluff on their website includes stuff like "our crooked path has taken us to some unexpected places" and "brew outside the lines". All of this sounds suspiciously like Dogfish Head's slogan: "Off centered ales for off centered people" (which I guess is not necessarily a bad thing), but when I saw a couple of these bottles in the bottle store, I was quite taken in by the artwork and also the prospect of a bourbon barrel aged barleywine (both of which are things I enjoy greatly). Judging beer by the label is sometimes the order of the day (it's not quite Belgian beer roulette, but perhaps a distant cousin), so I picked up a bottle of this. I'm glad to report that it was well worth the stretch.

I don't know who Cooper is or why he's cockeyed, but I presume it's because this is an 11.1% ABV beer. I also assume Mr. Cooper is the bearded fellow on the label that's using a bourbon barrel as a flotation device:

Uinta Cockeyed Cooper

Uinta Cockeyed Cooper - Pours a dark brown color with a minimal head. Smells very rich and boozy, with some of those bourbon-soaked oak flavors and a nicely matched hoppy character. There's a sugary aroma in the nose as well. Taste starts sweet, but then you're hit with the oak (bourbon and a little vanilla apparent), followed by some hoppy bitterness and booze. It's not overly bitter, like an IPA, but it's there, and it helps dry out the finish. The flavors linger a bit in an aftertaste. I think the oak aging really imparted a nice richness to the flavors here. Full bodied but relatively smooth, you still want to drink this slowly. Overall, it's pretty damn good. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 11.1% ABV bottled (750 ml, caged and corked) Drank out of a tulip glass on 6/25/11. IBUs: 65. Bottled on 6/1/10 (Not sure how long it was aged in the barrels, but according to the site, it's at least 5 months).

When I bought this, there was another of the Crooked Line beers at the store - an American Black Ale called Labyrinth that I now very much want to try.

When I put my most recent homebrew, a saison style beer, in the fermenter, I started seeing bubbles in the airlock after only a few hours - a much quicker start than any of my previous brews. Indeed, this thing fermented vigorously for nearly 5 days. With all my previous attempts, bubbles didn't appear in the airlock until at least 12-24 hours after pitching the yeast, and once they had started, there was only 2-3 days of vigorous activity, after which things trail off. Usually by the end of 2 weeks, things have slowed down considerably. And that happened for the saison too, but I was surprised at how long that initial phase of activity lasted. Now, I'm not entirely sure what this means, but I suspect that perhaps my pitching/fermentation temperature was a bit high, leading to a more active fermentation than is normally desired.

Or I could be completely wrong. The beer seemed to come out ok. It smells wonderful. It looks a little darker than usual for the style, but that's kinda expected for extract brewing. I took a quick swig of it, and at first glance it seems to share a certain character with the Hefeweizen I brewed on my last attempt. Here's to hoping that this goes a little better than my last attempt.

The final gravity was really low though. Somewhere around 1.005 (target was more around the 1.010 area), maybe even less. I guess we'll see how that plays out. Doing the calculations, this means the beer should be somewhere around 7-7.5% ABV, which is certainly higher than I was shooting for, but not outside the realms of possibility.

I won't bore you with the details of the bottling process, which basically went the same as usual - it's a semi-tedious process, but the only really bad part is the sanitization of the bottles. Otherwise all went well and this stuff should be ready to drink in a few weeks. Wish me luck.

At this point, I'm looking to try something a little darker for my next batch. That's apparently more suitable for extract brewing, and besides, my last 3 batches have been lighter style beers. Also, since I've been doing so much in the way of belgian styles, I figured I should try something different. Perhaps a chocolate stout or maybe an American Black Ale (or whatever you call those things).

(Cross Posted at Kaedrin Weblog)

Noblesse

| No Comments

When playing Belgian Beer Roulette, it's advisable to pick a bottle that does not feature English text. That way, you have no idea what you're getting into. In this case, I didn't have much idea what I was getting into at all. "De Dochter van de Korenaar"? The doctor of the Korenaar? Was this brewed in honor of a fictional doctor from a fantasy novel? Perhaps a "noble" doctor (given the name of the beer)?

Yeah, of course not (my nerdiness knows no bounds). It turns out that the brewery name translates to "Daughter of the Ear of Corn" (presumably a reference to barley, though I'm not sure about the biological specifics here). Apparently they've only been open since 2007 (though I also get the impression that there was a brewery there in the past as well).

De Dochter van de Korenaar Noblesse

De Dochter van de Korenaar Noblesse - Pours a nice hazy golden color with a couple fingers of frothy head that leaves some lacing as I drink. Smells of musty Belgian yeast with some fruitiness and spiciness apparent. Taste has a nice spicy kick to go along with the crisp malt backbone. There's a bit of an aftertaste here that's not really working for me. Mouthfeel is a bit on the thin side, but it's light and crisp and very easy to drink. A nice summer beer, I guess, but it's not especially lighting the world on fire. B-

Beer Nerd Details: 5.5% ABV bottled (11.2 oz). Drank out of a tulip glass on 7/3/11.

Not a huge success, but a worthy effort that won't dissuade me from playing Belgian beer roulette any time soon...

Double Feature: Wrong Turn Wheat

| No Comments

So the Wrong Turn movies kinda suck. They're like a second-rate The Hills Have Eyes, which is, in itself, a third rate imitation of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. Oh, and the second movie? It stars Henry Rollins. Somehow, all of this is ok.

Beerwise, things were a little better. I picked up both of Victory's wheat beer offerings. Thematically, wheat beers don't really match with bad horror, but being able to say "Wrong Turn Wheat" was good enough for me.

Victory Sunrise Weiss

Victory Sunrise Weissbier - Pours a cloudy golden color with lots of white head. Nose is typical hefeweizen banana and clove. Taste is also quite straightforward, but well crafted. Light bodied, crisp and refreshing. I have to admit, I was expecting a bit more out of this. A solid example of the style, but not a front-runner. B-

Beer Nerd Details: 5.4% bottled (12 oz.) Drank out of a shaker pint glass on 6/24/11.

Victory Whirlwind Wit

Victory Whirlwind Wit - Pours a cloudy yellow color with a finger of white head. Smell is full of light spices and wheat. Taste is also quite spicy, anchored by a strong wheat flavor. Again, light bodied, crisp and refreshing. This one's more complex and interesting than the Sunrise, and it's tastier too! Ultimately not a face-melter, but very well balanced and one of my favorites in the style. It hits the spot on a hot day, or, as now, after a long day at work. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 5.0% bottled (12 oz.) Drank out of a shaker pint glass on 6/24/11.

I tend to like German-style wheat beers more than Belgian-style varieties, but of these two Victory varieties, I have to go with the Belgian Wit.

G'Knight Gordon

| No Comments

According to Oskar Blues website, Gordon Knight was a "Colorado craft beer pioneer and Vietnam vet who died fighting a 2002 wild fire outside of our Lyons hometown." By all accounts, this guy was a saint, and Oskar Blues founder Dale Katechis felt honored to know the man, so he brewed a beer in Gordon's name to honor his memory. It was called, simply enough, "Gordon" (read more details about the man and the beer)

Enter Gordon Biersch, a chain of brewpubs that had their own thoughts on honoring Mr. Knight's memory: The sent Oskar Blues a cease and desist order! This was probably the correct thing to do from a legal standpoint - trademark holders must defend their trademark or else they might lose it - but I'll be damned if it isn't the dumbest PR move they could have possibly made. Of course no one knows what went on behind closed doors (neither Oskar Blues or Gordon Biersch have said anything beyond the obvious), but it sure seems like there could have been a better way to handle this sort of thing. It's one thing when two brewers have conflicting interests (though even then, better brewers seem to be able to work things out well enough), but in the case of a beer dedicated to all-American hero Gordon Knight, it just seems silly.

Fortunately, the creative folks at Oskar Blues came up with a clever solution: their new name for the brew is G'Knight. I hate to admit it, but it's almost an improvement. This was all happening at the beginning of the year, and lucky me, I had picked up a couple 4 packs of the beer that still had the Gordon branding:

Oskar Blues Gordon

Oskar Blues Gordon - Interestingly, the can calls this an "Imperial Red" ale, while Beer Advocate calls it a Double IPA. After tasting it, I have to say that it certainly feels a lot like something from the IPA family, but then again, I don't know much about Reds... Well, whatever the classification, onto the beer itself: Pours a dark amber color with a couple fingers of head that leave lacing as I drink. Smells strongly of citrus and pine, very sweet. There could be what beer nerds call "resin" in the aroma as well. It's a really nice aroma. Taste is very sweet as well, with a well matched bitterness in the finish. It's a very smooth drink. Well carbonated, but as it says on the can, it's "sticky". Not sure if that's the alcohol or residual sugars (or both), but it actually makes for quite an interesting beer. Overall, this might actually be my favorite Oskar Blues beer yet... A-

Beer Nerd Details: 8.7% ABV canned (12 oz.) Drank out of a tulip glass on 6/19/11. 60 IBUs.

Oskar Blues continues to impress. I've only had a few of their beers, but they're all excellent examples of whatever style they're tackling. Next up, the monster stout, Ten Fidy (I've already had a few of these, and they're great). Actually, I forgot until now, but I've mentioned both Gordon and Ten Fidy before in a Beer Club post. In any case, here's to Gordon Knight. I wish every beer had a story as noble as his... (hat tip to the Aleheads for the whole legal history background)

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