Recently in United States Category

Pretty Things Jack D'Or

| 2 Comments

In the past, I've attempted to separate the saison style into two main groups - sweet and spicy (a la Saison Dupont) and funky, tart saisons brewed with Brett (a la Fantôme). Of course, that's a drastic simplification of a style that is extremely broad. One additional subcategory that you could argue for is dry saisons. I've had a few of these lately, and while I enjoy them, they tend to have a narrower range than the other subcategories. Dryness is a fine characteristic for a beer, and it's actually really great to drink a nice, dry saison along with a meal. Dry beers complement what you're eating well, while the sweeter beers may sometimes overpower your meal. Of course, the general guideline for matching beer with food is to match the intensity, but dry beers tend to work for a much wider range of dishes. But if you're drinking a dry beer by itself, the dryness can make it a bit of a strange experience.

There is, of course, nothing wrong with any of this. There's no one true style to rule them all, only a beer that's good for you right now. Or something. Anyway, here's a dry saison that's garnered many accolades.

Pretty Things Jack d ore

Pretty Things Jack D'Or - Pretty Things is another one of them Gypsy Brewers, like Mikkeller and Stillwater, and their beers have been highly sought after for a while, but I seem to be seeing them all over the place these days. This beer seems to use a ridiculous blend of malts, hops, and yeasts (I mean, seriously, how many beers do you know that are fermented with a blend of four different yeasts?) It pours a light yellowish gold color, mostly clear, with a finger or so of bubbly head. The aroma is surprisingly earthy, but not in a typical Belgian yeast way. The taste has some sweetness to it, but it's mostly dominated by dryness throughout and especially in the finish, where things get a little bitter too. Actually reminds me a bit of Ommegang's recent BID beer, as well as Stillwater's various dry saisons. It's light and crisp, and overall a pretty good brew. Not something that's really lighting my world on fire, but I suspect I would enjoy it much more with a meal. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 6.4% ABV bottled (22 oz. bomber). Drank from a tulip glass on 7/30/11. Label sez it was bottled in May 2011. Batch 26.

I've got a bottle of Pretty Things Baby Tree, a Belgian style quadrupel that I'm greatly looking forward to. These Gypsy brewers sure seem to know what they're doing!

Dogfish Head Raison D'etre

| 2 Comments

Reason for existence? Not quite, but it is one of Dogfish Head's year-round (and oldest) brews. It was supposedly brewed to match with "wood-grilled steak" but I think Sam just came into a few tons of bulk raisins and said, "Fuck it, we're making a brown ale with a shitload of raisins. Hey, does anyone know of a shitty raisin pun we can use for the beer name?"* In any case, by pure chance, I actually was having a steak (not a "wood-grilled" one though) whilst drinking this.

Dogfish Head Raison Detre

Raison D'etre - Pours a clearish dark amber color with a finger or two of light colored head. The smell is a bit strange to me. I think I can pick up some of the raisins that were used in brewing, and there's some Belgian yeast (though not as much as I'd expect), but there's a strange twang in the nose too. The taste is very sweet, lots of residual sugars here, and there's a distinct alcohol flavor as well. It's got some brown ale style flavors going on as well - just a hint of roastiness, maybe some caramel. It's got a medium body and rich flavors, but when you put everything together here, it seems a bit unbalanced. It's clearly complex, but I feel like there's something missing - maybe overpowered by the rest of the beer. It's certainly not bad, but perhaps my expectations from the Dogfish Head folks were too high. B-

Beer Nerd Details: 8% ABV bottled (12 oz.) Drank from a goblet on 7/16/11.

I've got a couple of other bottles of Dogfish Head stuff laying around that I'll get to at some point, including their Squall IPA (which I think is basically just a bottle conditioned 90 Minute IPA) and the most excellent Palo Santo Marron.

* In case you can't tell from previous posts, I like to think of brewers as foul-mouthed maniacs. It's funnier that way, but no offense intended. I kid because I love.

Victory Perfect 10 Lager

| No Comments

Wherein I succumb to that annoying beer-blogger tendency to talk about limited-edition beers that most readers are unlikely to ever taste. Over at his new digs, Jay H. has had the opportunity to try out an ultra-rare, one-time-brewed, sour ale from The Bruery called The Wanderer. Not only is it a rare beer, but Jay has awarded it a 10/10 rating, which is pretty rare in itself. Alas, I will probably never cross paths with this beer unless The Bruery upgrades it to a staple brew...

Victory Brewing Co. has a different, less trendy reputation, but they also put out a lot of different beers, ranging from simple, session brews to whopping 12% face melters. I arrived at a local bar recently, scanned their beer menu and saw this Victory Perfect 10 Lager listed... I asked about it and found out that it was brewed specially for the bar, which had just recently celebrated its 10th anniversary (hence the beer's title). Sign me up! Perhaps unsurprisingly, the beer isn't even listed on Beer Advocate. It's a relatively straightforward lager, so it's not going to be a "White Whale" beer the likes of which I discussed earlier, but I actually did enjoy it quite a bit:

Victory Perfect 10 Lager

Pours a clear golden color with a minimal white head. Not much going on in the nose, but the taste is sticky sweet. Despite the stickiness, it's a really clean feeling brew. Well carbonated and medium bodied but still smooth and easy to drink. It reminds me of Victory's St. Boisterous Maibock, which I've also had recently. I actually seemed to enjoy this a bit more, which is a shame, as I'm pretty sure this will be the last I ever see of this brew. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 7% ABV (on tap). Drank out of a... whatever the heck you call the glass in the picture... on 8/9/11.

Victory continues to be my local hero and I'm extremely excited to get my hands on some of their upcoming smoked dubbel style beer, dubbed (pun intended!) Otto. It's not due to be released until mid-October though, so I've got a bit of a wait...

August Beer Club

| 2 Comments

Today was beer club! Due to various factors, the variety of beer was somewhat limited this month, but there was still plenty of merriment to be had, and when we got to the BYOB restaurant, we saw this sign out front:

Free Beer!

Certainly a good omen! Apparently the restaurant had some Lager, but since they had no liquor license, they were just giving it away for free. Score! There was no real theme for the month, but we did end up with about 7 different beers (not including the free Yuengling) as well as some wine, cider and homemade Limoncello (unpictured, but it was very sweet and incredibly alcoholic!) Here's a quick picture of what we had:

August Beer Club
(Click for bigger image)

As usual, tasting conditions were less than ideal, so take the following with a grain of salt (beers listed below are basically in order from left to right in the picture, not necessarily the order in which we drank them):

  • Victory Sunrise Weissbier - Hey, I've actually reviewed this before! A friend had been at the brewery lately, so they had picked up a growler of the stuff. It struck me as being somewhat better than the last time I had it, but I'll leave it at a B-. Solid hefeweizen style beer, but not particularly special either.
  • My Homebrewed Saison - I know I mentioned this last time, but this is definitely my best homebrew yet, and the first that I think is truly good. Sweet, spicy, well carbonated and easy to drink, it came out really well. Indeed, I'd probably give this a B+ or maybe even an A-. I should really review my other homebrews, which I'd probably rate much lower.
  • Lancaster Milk Stout - Yep, I just reviewed this one too. I think the coffee flavors were more prominent this time around, but otherwise it's pretty much the same. B+
  • Founders Dirty Bastard - Yet another beer I've reviewed before. Indeed, I've had a few of this since I originally reviewed it, and I do believe I like it better now than I did that first time. I had originally noted that there wasn't any fruitiness in the flavor, but in the recent tastings, I've definitely gotten a really nice fruity quality out of this. Tonight I could also really taste the alcohol as well. It certainly wasn't unpleasant, but I think it might have been a reflection of the other relatively low ABV beers of the night. B+
  • Samuel Adams Rustic Saison - A very light example of the style, though still very flavorful and smooth (looking at it now, I'm surprised it's only 4.35% ABV), featuring a nice twang in the nose and taste that I couldn't place, but which someone had mentioned might be honey. It's not a beer that will melt your face or anything, but it's definitely a quality brew and well worth a drink. At 4.35%, it would probably be a decent session beer as well. B
  • Samuel Adams East-West Kölsch - Not a style that typically fares well here at Kaedrin (or at beer club, for that matter), but this one was apparently brewed with Jasmine, and that addition really does make this a much more interesting beer than it would have otherwise been. Again, not setting the world on fire, but a quality brew that's worth trying. B-
  • Cave Creek Chili Beer - When I first saw Aaron's awesome video review of this beer, I thought he had to be exaggerating, but that first swig of this beer gave me that same, out-of-breath, it's so spicy feeling. It was a really weird experience too - the spiciness seems to really hit at the back of your throat and tongue, but the rest of my mouth/tongue didn't really pick anything up. And that spicy hot aftertaste didn't go away either (I'm glad we opened this last). It was really, truly horrible. When you open the beer, it almost smells like you've opened one of those pepper bottles with the brine in it - overpowering chili pepper aromas and not much else. I can't imagine drinking an entire bottle, and indeed, I could only really take a few sips of it. Unanimously the worst beer club beer ever. In some ways, I'm glad I got to try this, as it certainly is an experience. In another way, I really hope I don't burp this up later tonight. F
Despite the fact that I'd had/reviewed half these beers before, I think it was another successful outing for the beer club. It's looking like we might get a bonus beer club meet at The Whip in addition to our normal meetup next month. Score!

Lancaster Milk Stout

| No Comments

Yes, "research" into milk stouts continues. It occurs to me that I kinda rushed into the whole thing yesterday, so just to back up a bit, I want to talk about what actually constitutes a milk stout. Given that phrase, one might expect the rather disgusting addition of actual milk somewhere in the brewing process, but fortunately, that is not the case (though the lactose intolerant might still want to steer clear of these beers). Without getting into too much detail about how beer is brewed, I'll say that beer basically starts out as sugar water. Then you add yeast, which eats the sugar and converts it into alcohol, carbon dioxide, and various flavor compounds. Now, yeast typically doesn't eat all the sugar - typically it only consumes around 65-85%. This is why beer is still sweet enough that you need to add hops (which cuts the sweetness with bitterness). One of the implications of this process is that the more sugar you put into the process, the more alcohol you get. You also end up with a lot of residual sugars. This is why a lot of imperialized beers end up being really sweet.

On the other side of the scale, when you don't put that much sugar into the process, you end up with a beer that has less alcohol, but also less residual sugars and thus less body. One way to make up for that is to add unfermentable sugars to the brew, thus increasing the body and the sweetness without increasing the alcohol. As it turns out, lactose (which is basically the sugar in milk) is unfermentable, so it's often used to add body to beer. Hence the phrase Milk Stout, though the style is also referred to as cream stout or just sweet stout (and to be fair, not all sweet stouts necessarily use lactose - other unfermentable sugars can be used as well). Yesterday's beer was probably a horrible example of the style, but today's example is much more typical:

Lancaster Milk Stout

Lancaster Milk Stout - A semi-local brew from Lancaster, PA, this one is probably the brewery's most popular beer. Pours a very dark brown color, with a finger of tightly beaded head. The smell is full of roastiness, and maybe some chocolate or coffee. That roastiness hits at the beginning of the taste, but it quickly yields to a well matched sweetness followed by the return of roastiness and maybe a little hop bitterness in the finish. There's maybe a hint of coffee in the roastiness as well, but probably a bit more chocolate, though neither flavor is dominant. Indeed, the flavors here are very well matched. Medium bodied and well carbonated, it still goes down smooth and is pretty easy to drink. Overall, a really nice beer. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 5.3% ABV bottled (12 oz.) Drank out of a pint glass on 8/7/11.

Quite enjoyable, and I think I could probably safely order the Northern Brewer kit. On the other hand, it might be worth checking in with the local homebrew shop and seeing if maybe he has some recommendations for me... Plus, it might be time to upgrade my equipment as well. Perhaps invest in some glass carboys, and so on.

Oskar Blues Ten Fidy

| No Comments

So I've already mentioned that Oskar Blues is famous for using cans, but what I want to know is when we're going to start seeing specialty cans. It's pretty common to see fancy special editions of bottled beers, using expensive looking foil or wrapping it in paper or pouring wax over the top, sealing in the goodness. So how long until we see different treatments for cans*?

I did a quick spin around google looking at reviews for Ten Fidy, Oskar Blues' 10.5% ABV (get it? Ten FIDY! It's very hip.) imperial stout, and the general consensus seems to be that people are absolutely amazed that someone would put an imperial stout in a can. ZOMG! Lots of people mention the viscous, deep black, almost used-motor-oil appearance, which just makes me think that someday, we're going to see old-timey oil-can style packaging (complete with an independent spout that you have to jam into the can to open it) for a beer like this. There are tons of other creative cans that could be made as well. Of course, many of them negate some of the advantages of cans, but it would still be interesting.

But enough about packaging, let's look at what's in the can:

Oskar Blues Ten Fidy

Oskar Blues Ten Fidy - The can says "One-eyed, Cyclopean, Concupiscent" and I don't really have any idea what that means except that perhaps it's, like, really big and powerful and that people really want it. Or something. Pours a deep black color with a finger of brown head. I know a lot of beers appear black, but this one is amazing - it absorbs all light, no highlights, full stop. It's like drinking a black hole. Smells of chocolate, caramel and just a little roasted malts. Tastes very sweet with rich flavors of chocolate and caramel present. The roastiness is more prominent in the taste than the nose, but not overpowering. Not super strongly carbonated, but still full bodied. It's actually pretty smooth. The alcohol is present, but pretty well hidden given the 10.5% ABV. Overall, a pretty great imperial stout. The bold flavors seem to hold up well with food and can even compete with a cigar... A-

Beer Nerd Details: 10.5% canned (12 oz.) Drank out of a tulip glass on 7/23/11. 98 IBUs

Apparently Oskar Blues makes hot sauces of their beers, and the one they make for Ten Fidy has some ridiculous amount of scovilles (like, in the millions) Not sure if I actually want to try that, though I do really like hot sauces, so if I ever see some, I might check it out...

* Ungh, it seems that the macros have experimented with this sort of thing already (the miller aluminum pint is nice looking, actually), though nothing quite as out-there as what I was suggesting...

(Not So) Recent Beer Recap

| No Comments

As you may have noticed in my last review, I've got a number of reviews that have been sitting in the queue for a long time. I've been pretty good about keeping up with recent drinking, but I just haven't gotten around to some of those older reviews, so I figured I'd just do a quick recap now...

  • Leffe Blonde - I was surprised to see the relatively craptacular reviews on beer advocate (though apparently it's gone up to a more respectable and appropriate B rating since I've last looked at it... the Bros still have it at a C). I wasn't sure why the hate existed for this, then I found out that Leffe is owned by Inbev, the Belgian beer conglomerate that owns Anheuser-Busch and is famous for changing recipes for their acquired beers to save costs; even including long-standing Abbey breweries like Leffe which apparently now uses cheap adjuncts in their recipe (for all the beer nerd fury, I can't really find much detail around this - though the brewery does say that it uses rice, which is not typically a favored ingredient in beer). In any case, it certainly looks, smells, and tastes fine. Sweet and bready, typical Belgian yeast aromas and taste. It's not complex or subtle, but as a simple and straightforward brew, it's pretty good. B (Beer Nerd Details: 6.6% ABV bottled (11.2 oz bottle) Drank from a goblet on 4/16/11.)
  • Stone Double Bastard - It's like Arrogant Bastard, only moreso. Very hoppy in the nose which follows through in the taste along with that unique blend of hoppy flavors that Stone uses for this brew. A nice bitterness and slick alcohol character are also present. It's very good, but I don't get the high praise heaped on it, though it does seem to have fallen off the BA top 100 at this point. B+ (Beer Nerd Details: 11.2% ABV bottled (22 oz bomber). Drank from a goblet on 4/23/11.)
  • Trappist Achel 8° Bruin - This is the sixth of the seven Trappist breweries that I've sampled, though unfortunately, I was not particularly impressed with this brew (at least, compared with other dubbels). That's not to say it was bad - definitely a nice appearance, with typical dark fruits and spiciness in the nose and taste. Relatively dry finish, drinkable, but not particularly complex either. I typically expect richer flavors out of a dubbel, though perhaps I should have this again just to make sure. Even considering that, it's quite good. B+ (Beer Nerd Details: 8% ABV bottled (11.2 oz bottle) Drank from a goblet on 5/7/11.)
  • Great Divide Yeti Imperial Stout - Another imperial stout that used to be in the BA top 100 but has since fallen out (no wonder I can never get a high percentage of completion on that list!) This one reminds me a lot of Victory's Storm King Stout - very roasty, giving way to a hoppy bitterness as it warms up. Very well crafted, but not especially my style. B (Beer Nerd Details: 9.5% ABV bottled (12 oz bottle) Drank from a tulip on 5/7/11.)
  • Ommegang Rare Vos - An old favorite of mine, I always worry about beers like this. Will it continue to live up to the expectations I've built up in my mind? I've spent the past year or two trying as many different, new beers as I could. Would this beer live up to memory? As it turns out, yes, it does. One of my first discoveries after Hennepin about a decade ago, I always come back to this one, a sweet and spicy Belgian amber. It is delicious and matches well with most meals. I daresay it's a candidate for the vaunted A+, though I'll just stick with an A for now. (Beer Nerd Details: 6.5% ABV bottled (750 ml caged and corked bottle) Drank from a tulip glass on 5/13/11.)
  • Tröegs Pale Ale - Ok, so this is a relatively recent drink, but I don't have a ton to say about it. It's a decent, straightforward pale ale. It actually made a really nice first impression (nice hoppy presense of pine and grapefruit), but it loses some of its punch as it warms. Certainly not among the best pale ales, but well worth a try... B- (Beer Nerd Details: 5.4% ABV bottled (12 oz bottle) Drank from a tulip on 7/16/11.)
Well, that just about covers it. I have more details about these tucked away somewhere, but for now, this will have to do. Of course, this doesn't completely catch me up on reviews, but now the unwritten ones are from the past couple weeks, which is certainly more manageable.

Consecration

| No Comments

One of the frustrating things about reading beer blogs is that people often talk about rare or hard-to-find beers. This isn't really a slight against anyone - as I've grown in my beer nerdery, I've certainly been guilty of this from time to time, and it really is nice when you finally find a beer you've been looking for. So I'm used to seeing this from the beer bloggers out there, but when the brewery itself starts taunting you, well, that's a whole other story.

On the label for Russian River's Consecration, they mention a beer they made for the Toronado's 20th Anniversary (the Toronado is apparently a famous San Diego beer bar):

When we made the Toronado's 20th Anniversary Ale, we had no idea that it would turn out to be one of our favorite barrel aged beers we would ever make. With that said, we have always wanted to make a dark barrel aged beer using 100% cabernet sauvignon barrels, but we never were inspired. That is, until we blended five different beers to make the Tornado beer, the tobacco flavor from the dark malts blended nicely with the fruit character that developed in blending. So, with Consecration we set out to make a barrel aged beer using all Cabernet Sauvignon barrels. Now, we are not saying this is a replica of the T-rooms anniversary beer, after all, a beer like that can never be duplicated, and, there was no fruit added to that beer as there is with this one. All we are saying is that it gave us great inspiration to brew Consecration.
Fortunately, Russian River knows what it's doing, so while I'll probably never get to try that Toronado beer, I do get to have some of the beer it inspired. Consecration is a wild ale brewed with Brettanomyces, then aged in Cabernet Sauvignon barrels with currants added. Sounds pretty spectacular, no?

Russian River Consecration

Russian River Consecration - Pours a dark brown color with some hints of amber shining through in the light. Small head that subsided quickly and cleanly. The smell was full of red wine and sweet malts. Tastes starts sweet with an almost immediate sourness that continues through the entire taste and dominates the finish. That quick, puckering escalation in the finish makes for a kinda neat punctuation. The sourness is the most prominent element of the taste, but it's also reasonably well balanced. Unfortunately, I'm not getting a lot of that red wine character in the taste. Carbonation is a little lower than usual, and the body was in a medium-low range (I was kinda hoping for something a little richer in flavor, but that's clearly not what RR is going for here). I don't think this was quite as well executed as Russian River's Temptation, but it's certainly a worthy beer if you're looking for a sour... B+

Beer Nerd Details: 10% ABV bottled (375 ml mini-magnum, caged and corked). Drank out of a goblet on 4/23/11*. According to the label, this bottle was from batch 004X1, brewed on 3/29/2009 and bottled on 2/2/10.

I think Brett beers are supposed to age reasonably well, but I have to wonder how this would have tasted if I got it fresh. In any case, sours still aren't my favorite style, but I'm beginning to come around a bit. I have a bottle of Russian River's famed Supplication in my fridge right now... something I'm hoping to pop open in the near future. I'm expecting a little more out of that beer than the Consecration.

* Yeah, I'm really, really behind on some of my reviews. Wanna fight about it? Expect some more old reviews in the near future as well.

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.