Recently in United States Category

Stillwater Holland Oats

| 2 Comments

I see what they did there, and that label is pretty awesome. I don't know who the two guys are, though they certainly have nice mustaches akin to Mr. Oates in his heydey. But the real genius part of the label is the tiger, which I can only assume is a maneater.

Stillwater Holland Oats

Stillwater/Emelisse Holland Oats - Pours a dark amber color with a finger of light head and some lacing as I drink. Smells strongly of floral hops, with some citrus and resiny pine also evident. It's also got some rich caramel malt character too. The taste starts sweet, then comes some caramel/toffee notes, followed by those floral, resiny hop flavors, finishing with a light hoppy bitterness. Mouthfeel is great, medium bodied, lightly carbonated, very smooth and almost quaffable. Overall, a very well crafted beer! B+

Beer Nerd Details: 6.6% ABV bottled (11.2 oz). Drank out of a tulip glass on 5/18/12.

This was actually one of them gypsy collaborations with Dutch brewers Emelisse, who seem to have a pretty good reputation amongst the beer dorks. I've seen them on tap occasionally around town, but haven't partook in any of their libations. I shall have to remedy that. Also worthy of note, this alternative label design. Heh. Stillwater is emerging as a go to brewer for me, and I have at least one more review in the pipeline for them...

Notes From Philly Beer Week

| No Comments

So Philly Beer Week is here, and of course, I'm too lazy to get my butt into the actual city proper, but fortunately, there are plenty of events out here in the burbs. On Saturday, I actually hit up two locations, the first being Pinocchio's, who had a bunch of Firestone Walker stuff on tap. It wasn't a big event or anything, though earlier in the day, they had tapped a keg of Velvet Merkin, an apparently very rare (at least, 'round these parts) and very unique bourbon barrel aged oatmeal stout. The base beer is only 5.5% ABV, but the angels must be damn thirsty, as the barrel aging seems to raise it up to around 8-8.5% or something. Unfortunately, I didn't realize that folks would be lining up outside the place before it opened to get a taste of this stuff, so I missed out.

So I had to make do with a glass of Parabola (I know, boo hoo, right?), another bourbon barrel aged stout, this one clocking in at an impressive 13% ABV (it was, uh, the only thing I had for a few hours on Saturday). Unfortunately, I seem to have neglected the picture of this one, so you'll have to use your mind's eye to visualize from these scintillating tasting notes, hastily tapped into my phone one handed as I browsed the bottle shop's wares:

Firestone Walker Parabola - Pours a black as night color with practically nonexistent head (there was a ring of brownish stuff clinging to the side of the glass, but not much going on with the rest). Smells of strongly of bourbon, chocolate, caramel, vanilla and oak. Taste is full of that same rich caramel, vanilla, bourbon and oak, with some chocolate for good measure. Mouthfeel is rich and velvety, low carbonation, but enough to keep it from being cloying. I had no idea this thing was 13% as I was drinking, but I kinda felt that way at the end of my (fortunately small) glass. Overall, fantastic beer, something I hope to get some more of at some point... A-

Beer Nerd Details: 13% ABV on tap. Drank out of a small snifter-like glass (I'm guessing 8-10 oz).

So I hung out at the shop for a while, shot some shit with the locals and beermongers, picked out a few bottles to take home, grabbed a piece of pizza and and glass of water to calm myself down, then I headed over to Wayne, PA for the Main Line Jazz and Food Fest, where Teresa's Cafe (one of my favorite beer bars) was doing a big Tröegs tasting. Wayne ave was closed off for a block or so, and a bunch of local restaurants and other businesses set up tents and tables and whatnot, along with a live jazz band playing on the stage. It was a pretty low key, family friendly affair, but the weather was gorgeous and beer was flowing like wine!

Ironically, my first beer was not even a Tröegs - when I spied some Sierra Nevada ExPortation (a porter aged in barrels over at Russian River), I had to make sure I got some, as it was my first sour revelation and I thought I'd never see the stuff again (it was a one time Beer Camp brew, though perhaps they've made more batches for beer week). It was excellent, though I think some of the other sours I've had this year might outrank it (stiff competition though). If you get a chance to try some, you totally should.

Ad this point, I hunkered down for some dinner, and ordered me a Brotherly Suds, a special Philly Beer Week collaboration between Victory, Sly Fox, Yards, Iron Hill, Stoudts, Nodding Head, and Tröegs (who hosted the brewing session). It apparently started out as a Vienna lager... but then they used a Kölsch yeast (i.e. an ale yeast), American hops (Centennial and US Tettnanger), and rye. It seemed more like a Kölsch or British Pale Ale to me, though. Unfortunately, I came away a bit underwhelmed:

Troegs Brotherly Suds 3

Brotherly Suds #3 (Tröegs Scratch #67) - Dark amber color with a finger or two of head. Smells a bit like a British pale ale, lightly fruity, some grassy, earthy hops. Taste has some nice complexity, some delicate fruit and hop flavors, maybe some light spiciness, but it's all rather muted, and it's got that British pale ale or Kölsch feel that I don't usually care for. Mouthfeel is nice, surprisingly light bodied. Overall, it's ok, but not my thing... I probably shouldn't have drank this after the ExPortation - it actually would have made a nice walking around outside beer, but not so much as a complement to dinner. B-

Beer Nerd Details: 4.6% ABV on tap. Drank out of a pint glass.

And finally, after dinner, I headed back outside for some browsing and Jazz and walking around and whatnots, picking up a cup of Tröegs Perpetual IPA, something I'd not had before, and which was excellent:

Troegs Perpetual IPA

Tröegs Perpetual IPA - Apparently the reason I hadn't seen this before is that it was a limited seasonal brew, only available in august. Tröegs has recently just moved to new digs, and their expanded brewing capacity means they can now turn this into a year-round brew. Pours a golden orange color with a little head... Huge hoppy pine in the nose, with a little grassy citrus too. Taste has that same huge piney, resiny flavor, a little grassy citrus, and a mild, pleasant bitterness in the finish. Mouthfeel is well carbonated, light to medium bodied, and very easy to put down. Conditions were probably not ideal here, but it was a really nice walking around outside beer. I'll give it a provisional B+, but it's on the A- bubble...

Beer Nerd Details: 7.5% ABV on tap. Drank out of a fancy plastic cup.

Well, there you have it: lame, unreliable notes from a day of drinking and merriment. I'm still not sure how many other events I'll hit up this week, but I'll definitely be going to a Hill Farmstead event on Saturday (also at Teresa's)...

session_logo.jpgOn the first Friday of every month, there's a beer blog roundup called The Session. Someone picks a topic, and everyone blogs about it. This month, Carla Companion wants to talk about an unsung hero:

What is the one beer style usually makes up the first position in the sample flight, but yet is usually the one that we never get really excited about? The Pale Ale.

Your mission - if you choose to accept it - it so seek out and taste two different pale ales. Tell us what makes them special, what makes them forgettable, what makes them the same or what makes them different. Then, share it with us.

First of all, I love the idea. One of the cornerstones of this blog is that of the Double Feature. Pick two beers of similar style, compare and contrast, all whilst taking in a filmic double feature. It's a really helpful tactic for learning about beer, especially when used with beers that sometimes have very similar flavor profiles... like pale ales!

Pale ales have a weird rap here in the beer nerd community. You never hear people raving about pale ales the way they do for the latest hopped-up double IPA, face melting Imperial Stout, or Brett-dosed sour bombs. And yet, a lot of folks will tell you that they got into craft beer the moment they tasted something like the classic Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. Indeed, a lot of breweries got their start with pales, even ones we think of as being extremist or weird. Stone's first beer was their most excellent Pale Ale (which seems to me like Arrogant Bastard's little brother, very flavorful). Hard as it may be to believe, Dogfish Head's Shelter Pale Ale was their first foray into "off-centered" beer. Pale Ales are a cornerstone of the craft beer world, a stepping stone for fledgling beer geeks, and a fantastic alternative to macro light lagers for regular folks.

Indeed, it's not like there's a shortage of big selling pale ales. Locally, we've got Yards' Philly Pale and Victory's Headwaters, both of which apparently do gangbusters (and oh yeah, they're excellent too). I'm no stranger to huge face-melting beers and I have to admit that sometimes the notion of checking out a "simple" pale ale seems like it might be boring, but there's plenty of interesting stuff going on in the pale ale world right now. I didn't go bonkers for Maine's Peeper like most folks, but it was an intriguing change of pace, a very interesting beer. Even if it wasn't particularly my thing, I love that they did something different with their beer, and that's the sort of stuff I like to try.

Speaking of which, I think it's about time to try out a few beers, as ordered. One is eminently interesting and experimental, the other is a bit more on the standard side, though it's got some interesting aspects too...

Victory Bavarian Mandarina Pale Ale

Victory Bavarian Mandarina Pale Ale - Victory recently released a series of beers utilizing experimental German hops, including this one, which has just received it's official name: Mandarina. Pours a golden orange with a finger of head and a ton of lacing. Smells of herbal, spicy hops, with a an orange citrus note and a little caramel malt too. Taste has a nice malt backbone, but it's not huge - it provides a nice background to highlight these new hops. Plenty of those citrusy, herbal hop flavors coming in the middle and more spicy bitterness emerging in the finish... Mouthfeel is surprising for a pale ale, a little heavier than expected, but quite nice nonetheless. This is actually the second time I've had this beer in the past couple weeks, and on the second tasting, I think I got a lot more of the orange character than the first time. Overall, a very solid, interesting change of pace. B

Beer Nerd Details: 6% ABV on tap (16 oz). Drank out of a nonic pint on 5/31/12.

Alesmith X

Alesmith X - Pours a bright straw yellow color with two fingers of fluffy white head and some lacing as I drink. Smells of more grassy, citrusy hops, along with a nice bready yeast and malt character. Taste is sweet, with that bready yeast and malt really coming through, though not in a strong or overpowering way. Light grassy hops and citrus come through a bit in the taste as well. The finish is relatively dry, with a very slight bitterness. The mouthfeel is hit with a huge carbonation at the start, very effervescent, but it smooths out by the finish, which is quite nice. Despite the bite from the carbonation, it's a light, crisp, and refreshing beer. In a lot of ways, this reminds me of a Belgian style pale ale (I bet if you were to substitute something like a saison yeast in the same recipe, you'd end up with a similar, if a bit spicier...), but it still feels like an American Pale Ale. Overall, I'm really enjoying this beer! B+

Beer Nerd Details: 5% ABV bottled (22 oz. bomber). Drank out of a tulip glass on 5/31/12.

Overall, the Alesmith was lighter in color and body than the Mandarina, and it had a more traditional, grassy citrus pine hop character, while the Mandarina hops brought a specific orange character, with lots of more herbal notes. Both are very good beers, and I'm really happy I got to try them. I also got to try one of the other Victory beers that was experimenting with new hops, this one called Polaris. It was an IPA, and thus not suitable for this post, but it was quite good, reminiscent of those New Zealand hops I've been digging lately. I love that Victory is playing with experimental hops, and the Pale Ale format really does provide a good platform for highlighting these new varieties. As summer goes on, I'm sure pale ales will be a staple of my beer diet...

Yards Saison

| No Comments

The summer saison is upon us, so I decided to revisit a beer that disappointed me many moons ago. I've mentioned before about how Ommegang Hennepin was my Craft Beer revelation, but being a fledgling beer nerd at the time, I had no idea what I was really doing. All I knew about the beer was that it was a saison style beer, so when I went to the beer distributor looking for saisons and saw this local offering, I bought me a case of the stuff (grumble, grumble, the PA case law is evil, grumble) and was a little crestfallen when it turned out that the beer wasn't as good as Hennepin. It was a fine beer, much better than the macro swill I was used to at the time, and I had no problem finishing the case (I had roommates at the time who helped with that task), but it was still a little disappointing. As it turns out, the saison has the least coherent style definition in the history of beer, so my strategy of trying other saisons was doomed to failure anyway. But all this was a long time ago (almost a decade? Yikes...), so I figured it was time to revisit the stuff:

Yards Saison

Yards Saison - Pours a slightly hazy yellow gold color with a finger of whitish head. Smells a little like a Belgian Wit - this is clearly a spiced beer, though some of that may be the result of yeast. Lots of spice on the nose, clove, orange peel, maybe some peppery notes, and just a hint of light fruitiness. The taste is lightly sweet with some spice character evolving throughout the taste and aftertaste. The mouthfeel is relatively light, well carbonated, a little spicy harshness, and some dryness that strangely gives way to a less dry finish (not bad, but it is different). Overall, this is certainly a nice, flavorful, non-funky take on the saison, but it's not really best in class either. I certainly enjoyed it, but my earlier impression of the beer (which was not bad, to be sure) hasn't changed very much. Solid beer, but not really lighting the world on fire. While not quite a session beer, it is hitting the spot after a warm day though... B

Beer Nerd Details: 6.5% ABV bottled (12 oz.) Drank out of a goblet on 5/18/12.

As summer approaches, I'm sure more saisons will be reviewed... indeed, there's one in the pipeline right now that will lend even more credence to the aforementioned notion that the saison style has the most incoherent definition in all of beer.

Sixpoint Resin

| No Comments

Ah, the words we use to describe hops. Some of them don't sound very appetizing. Weirdly, this seems to be the case for my favorite hops. The big, American citrus and pine bombs that are so popular actually have some rather weird descriptions hurled at them. Cat urine? Um, what? Sounds rather gross. Apparently some hops really do give off that sort of aroma, but not having cats, I can't really say. In any case, I don't get that sort of description when it's being used as a positive (I mean, I love me the smell of something like Weyerbacher Double Simcoe - does that mean I like cat piss?) Dank? Yeah, that's not usually something I want to drink... and I'm not much of a weed guy either (dank being something that's apparently positive in that realm). Ditto for the word resin, which also has that pot connection, though at least its standard definition isn't super disgusting. It's got a more neutral connotation, so it's got that going for it...

Now don't get me wrong, I absolutely love beers that people describe as having dank, resiny, cat uriney hop flavors and aromas, I just don't tend to use those words to describe it, with the exception of resin. I actually love that piney, resiny flavor that comes from some hop varieties like Simcoe, Chinook, and Columbus/Tomahawk/Zeus. So when I saw this beer's name, it sounded promising! Sixpoint is a brewery I've not had much experience with, and those energy drink looking cans never really inspired much confidence, though I don't know why. They're distinctive and well designed, so let's give them a shot:

Sixpoint Resin

Sixpoint Resin - Pours a hazy orange brown color with a finger or two of head that leaves plenty of lacing as I drink. The smell is full of sweetness and fruity hops, with just a hint of pine (with a moniker like "Resin", I was expecting more of that piney aroma). Ah, I see, the pine comes out much more in the flavor, which starts very sweet, with a big, resiny pine flavor, followed by some more citrusy hop character. Bitterness doesn't really emerge until the finish, and it intensifies through the aftertaste. Mouthfeel is light and bright, plenty of carbonation, but quite drinkable for such a big beer. Overall, a very nice DIPA, something I could certainly go for again! B+

Beer Nerd Details: 9.1% ABV canned (12 oz.) Drank out of a tulip on 5/12/12.

A promising start for Sixpoint, and I'm sure I'll have some more of their stuff at some point, though who knows when?

Victory Otto In Oak

| 2 Comments

Let's see here: Take a Belgian style Dubbel, add smoked malt (inspired by German Rauchbiers), and then age it in American Oak formerly used to age Bourbon. Also, and this is key, don't tell anyone that you're doing it. Seriously, if it weren't for the eternal vigilance of my local beermongers, I probably wouldn't have known this even existed (heck, even they had it tucked away in the back, rather than out on display).

To be sure, I've had the regular Otto before, and I have to admit that I found it underwhelming. Belgian style Dubbels are one of my favorite styles, but the smoked malt in Otto overwhelmed any of that great Belgian character, making it a sorta-one-dimensional smokey affair. Of course, that tasting was at a beer club, so conditions weren't entirely ideal, but my opinion doesn't seem to be all that unusual. Even the guy at Pinocchio's agreed with me on that count. I did buy a bottle of the stuff to lay down in my cellar for a while, hoping for the smoked flavors to mellow a bit and maybe harmonize with the Belgian characteristics.

Well, I've still got that bottle in my cellar, but when I found out that Otto in Oak existed, I knew I had to get my hands on some of the stuff. It's not exactly a secret that I love me some barrel aged beers, and I think this treatment could give Otto some much needed balance (not something normally associated with bourbon barrel aging, but still):

Victory Otto in Oak

Victory Otto In Oak - Pours a very dark chestnut brown color with beautiful amber highlights, clear when held up to light, with just a bit of light tan colored head. Lots of bourbon in the nose, but also a bit of smoke and maybe even a hint of that musty, spicy Belgian yeast. The rich malt backbone and bourbon hit first in the taste, followed by a light, mellow smokiness, then some of that Belgian dubbel character as the bourbon reasserts itself in the finish. I really like how the bourbon has mellowed out the smokiness here. Indeed, I can even pick out the dubbel-like flavors, something I had trouble with in the regular Otto. As it warms, the flavors evolve and coalesce even more, and some additional flavors come out to play. There's an almost nuttiness (definitely the wrong word for it, but along those lines) that I was getting towards the end of the bottle. Mouthfeel is well carbonated with a rich, full body. It's a much better balanced beer than the regular Otto, though it is quite an odd combination. Overall, a complex, unique beer with a mountain of flavor. A-

Beer Nerd Details: No ABV listed, but original Otto is 8.1% ABV, so I'm guessing this is a little higher than that. 750 ml caged and corked bottle. Drank out of a goblet on 5/19/12. Bottled on April 26, 2012. Batch #1.

From the release dates of Otto (October 15, 2011) and the bottling date on the Otto in Oak, I gather that this has been basking in the glow of Bourbon barrels for around 6 months. I don't know that it's quite as successful as Victory's Dark Intrigue (Bourbon barrel aged Storm King stout), but I do find that I really enjoyed this beer, and I'm really glad I thought to buy an extra one to keep around... And I'm actually heading over to the brewery tomorrow night to meet some friends, so maybe they'll have some of this stuff sitting around.

Flying Mouflan

| 3 Comments

So just what is a Flying Mouflan? Apparently Siri has the answer:

Of course, when I ask Siri what it is, I get: "Would you like to search the web for 'Siri, what is Feynman fun'?" or "Would you like to search the web for 'Siri, what is flying mood flond'". At this point, Siri must've gotten pissed that I kept asking the same question, so she just went ahead and initiated the search for "What is flying the fun" (incidentally, apparently aviation circles are worried that flying for fun is on the decline - oh noes!) So basically, Siri has no idea what a Flying Mouflan is! I'm shocked, scandalized really, that the web would lie to me like this.

Fortunately, it's the beer that counts. In this case, the beer started out as part of Tröegs experimental Scratch Series, and it's the first of those beers to have been incorporated into their regular roster (though I think it's still a seasonal beer).

Troegs Flying Mouflan

Tröegs Flying Mouflan - Pours a dark reddish brown color with a finger of head. Smells very sweet, with plenty of citrus and pine hop character, along with some big caramel malt aromas. Taste is sweet, lots of caramel malt, plenty of that citrus and pine hop flavor, but not a ton of bitterness. That blending of flavors really works; it's almost like caramelized hops. A little bit of pleasant booze, but again, all of these flavors are very well balanced, which is impressive for a 100 IBU beer. Mouthfeel is medium to full bodied, smoothly carbonated, and just a bit of stickiness in the finish. Overall, I actually got a Nugget Nectar sorta vibe, but it's heavier and more powerful than that (in a good way!) A-

Beer Nerd Details: 9.3% ABV bottled (22 oz. bomber). Drank out of a tulip glass on 5/4/12.

By complete coincidence, Beerbecue is also reviewing Flying Mouflan today, and his take channels Lewis Carroll. Inspired. I don't have any more Tröegs lying around, but I'm always on the lookout for those scratch beers. Who knows, maybe I'll stumble on the next one that transitions to their regular lineup!

Sanctification

| No Comments

One of the great things that Russian River does is make their bottle logs public. The batch number is clearly labeled on each bottle, and you can then look it up in the log and see all the details from the brew date to the strains of yeast used. Interestingly, a lot of their beers have evolved over time, using similar, but distinct formulas.

This particular beer is interesting and distinct from the rest of Russian River's offerings in that it is completely, 100% fermented with Brettanomyces. Brett is a wild yeast strain that is apparently the bane of winemakers' existence, but when used properly in beer, it can impart an earthy, funky character that many find pleasant. Most wild beers are primarily fermented with typical ale yeast strains, then dosed with Brett (and usually additional bacteria) later, but in this case, it was Brett all the way. Indeed, looking at the bottle logs, it appears that the particular strain they use is called "Dr. Dre Brettanomyces"... I have no idea what they're referring to there - perhaps it's a house strain they've stumbled upon? - but I'm pretty sure it's not available commercially!

Russian River Sanctification

Russian River Sanctification - Pours a cloudy golden yellow color with a finger of white head. Smell is very sweet, almost like... bubble gum? It's actually quite nice, whatever that aroma is... The taste is very sugary sweet, with a funky tart lemon character coming out in the middle and drying out in the finish. It's sour, but not overpoweringly so, certainly a lot less than Russian River's barrel aged sours. Mouthfeel is heavily carbonated but light, crisp and refreshing, and finishes dry. The tartness restrains drinkability a bit, but it's still quite an easy going beer. It would actually make a great introduction to the world of sours. Overall, very well balanced and approachable, but still complex and interesting. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 6.75% ABV bottled (375 ml mini-magnum). Drank out of a tulip on 4/28/12.

Russian River continues to impress, and I'm always on the lookout for something new from them. Here's to hoping that bottles of Beatification make their way over here someday soon...

Categories

Monthly Archives

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

About this Archive

This page is an archive of recent entries in the United States category.

United Kingdom is the previous category.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.