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Double Feature: Yet More IPAs

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So now that I'm totally over 2010 movies, I've started hitting up 2011. This past weekend, I saw Hall Pass, which had a lot of funny moments amidst a rather trite plot and some unnecessarily scatalogical humor. Among the raunchy-movies-with-a-heart genre, it was actually decent and worth a watch if that's your thing. Far more interesting, though, was the movie I had some beers whilst watching - Rubber. You probably haven't heard of this, but it's a really profoundly weird film. It's about a tire. A killer tire. Named Bob. The grand majority of the film is just watching a tire roll around on screen, occasionally stopping to make people's head explode (my assumption is that Bob the Tire doesn't like that we have enslaved his brethren for use on our cars, but that is only implied). There's a lot more to it than that, of course. Bob seems to have fallen in love. And there's an audience watching everything. And some cops trying to catch Bob. Yeah, so really weird. It's a short film and kinda artsy-fartsy, but I loved it. It's available now on a lot of Cable On-Demand services (I saw it on Comcast), and my understanding is that there will be a short theatrical release in early April.

As for the beers I drank whilst watching, it was another night of IPAs (this is the 4th IPA double feature - more than any other style):

Weyerbacher Double Simcoe IPA

Weyerbacher Double Simcoe IPA: Yet another "Big Beer" from Weyerbacher's variety pack, this one actually has the best rating on Beer Advocate. The name of the beer is referring to the liberal use Simcoe hops during brewing. Simcoe has high levels of alpha acid, but it also has a very fruity aroma and taste component that makes the bitterness a little less aggressive than you may think (so says my homebrew book here, though I think Weyerbacher's beer also kinda confirms that). If I ever end up homebrewing an IPA, I might try getting my hands on some of these. Anyway, the beer pours a cloudy darkish brown color with about a finger of head that dissapates rapidly and doesn't leave much in the way of lacing. Smells delicious! Mostly fruity citrus hops and an almost candi-sweetness in the nose, with maybe a hint of earthiness or pine present. Very sweet start (maybe a little fruitiness), with a bitter hops kick later in the taste and the finish. Some sticky booziness comes into the aftertaste as well, but it's reasonably well balanced with the rest of the flavors (though I think you could also argue that this is perhaps a bit too strong). Mouthfeel is smooth, with just enough carbonation to offset the booziness (though again, you may be able to argue that it's not entirely successful in hiding the booze). All in all, quite an enjoyable beer and well worth a try for fans of the style. It's probably my favorite of Weyerbacher's offerings (that I've tried). B+

Beer Nerd Details: 9% ABV bottled (12 oz). Drank from a tulip glass.

Flying Dog Raging Bitch Belgian Style IPA

Flying Dog Raging Bitch Belgian Style IPA: I've enjoyed Flying Dog's beers without ever being particularly impressed, but then, I've only ever really had their "normal" brews. This particular beer is one of their bigger beers, and it's also got a spot in the BA top 100. It pours a clear, light reddish brown (copper!) color with a couple fingers of head. Smells sweet, spicy and citrusy with a little bit of bready Belgian yeast and not much in the way of hops. The taste starts sweet with some spiciness in the middle and a crisp, bitter finish. There are roasted flavors in the taste as well, but not like a roasty stout. Is that pepper? It's a familiar taste, something I normally associate with beers like Hoegaarden and Chimay Red, but it's not as overpowering here as it is in the other beers - perhaps due to the strong hoppy bitterness. It's really quite complex, I keep discovering new flavors. As I drink more, the bitterness becomes more prominent, the peppery flavors start to emerge more and the finish becomes more dry. Mouthfeel is a bit harsher than the Weyerbacher, but still pretty good. A really well crafted and interesting beer, though I'm not sure I actually like it. It's amazingly complex, but I have to admit that it's not really my thing. It's something I'd like to try again sometime, and I can see why it's rated so highly, but something about the way it's spiced just isn't working for me. B

Beer Nerd Details: 8.3% ABV bottled (12 oz). Drank from a tulip glass.

Well that just about covers it. Look for some more double features soon, neither of which will be IPAs (I promise!)

Russian River Temptation

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Still catching up on some old tasting notes! One of the strength's and weaknesses of the whole craft beer thing is the emphasis on local breweries. In some ways, this is a very good thing (for the local economy, for the environment, etc...), but dammit, I want to try me some west coast beers from places like The Bruery and Russian River. It's rare to see their brews around here at all, but I've found a few places that regularly stock them, and have been snapping up whatever I could find from either of those breweries. A little while ago, I managed to get my hands on a couple Russian River beers and tried one of them right away.

Russian River Temptation

Russian River Temptation: Part of a series of beers by Russian River where they brew beers with Brettanomyces (a type of wild yeast that yields distinctive flavors and often matches up with sour flavors - to be honest, not something I'm tremendously familiar with), then age them in used wine barrels from local wineries. The beers are generally matched with complementary styles of wine to yield a complex flavor profile. Or something.

Temptation is a sour blond ale that is aged in French oak chardonnay barrels. It pours a clear golden color with a couple fingers of thick head that leaves ample lacing as I drink. Smells a little bready, earthy, and kinda tart, with some sweet citrus there as well... Tastes very sweet with a well balanced sour note in the finish. Some flavors are reminiscent of white wine and champagne, obviously a result of the barrel aging. There's some fruitiness coming through as well, perhaps sour apples and grapes. It's sour, but not overpowering like my last foray into the world of sours. This one is much more subtle in its flavors. Mouthfeel is surprisingly smooth, making for an easy drink, though I like that this came in a 375 ml bottle and not something significantly bigger. A complex and well balanced beer, one of the more interesting things I've had lately. I will give it a tentative A-, and am looking forward to trying some others in the series.

Beer Nerd Details: 7.25% ABV bottled (375 ml, caged and corked bottle). Drank from a tulip.

I've already got a bottle of Consecration in the fridge (I'm sure a review of that will be coming soon), and am kicking myself for not having picked up Supplication when I saw it a few months ago (with any luck, I will still be able to pick one up later).

Update: Ah, the glories of the internet. Since Russian River posts an absurd amount of details about the bottling of their beers, I'm able to tell you some more about my particular bottle. It was from batch 05x1F, brewed on 10/16/2009 and bottled on 7/6/2010. And I drank it on 2/12/11. Score.

Febrewary Beer Club

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I'm a little behind on posting stuff here, so bear with me as I play catchup this week. At the beginning of every month, a bunch of friends from work and I meet up at a local BYOB and bring some new/interesting beers to try. This particular meeting was a long time coming, as weather and a hectic holiday schedule conspired to delay this session multiple times. We went to a different BYOB this month... it's a legitimate restaurant, and thus the mood lighting wasn't quite conducive to picture taking, but here's what we brought (you can click for a larger version):

Febrewary Beer Club

The theme this month was beers with a picture of an animal on the label, though there were a couple of non-qualifying beers. Conditions weren't ideal, so no grades here, but I've included some thoughts on each beer:

  • Jolly Pumpkin Bam Bière - My contribution to the theme went over pretty well, though it would probably make a better summer beer than a winter one. Still, it was quite refreshing, light colored ale with a little citrus. Again, would make a great summer beer.
  • Ravenswood Zinfandel Vintners Blend - Technically, it's "beer and wine" club, but I don't really have a clue when it comes to wine. Still, this one was pretty good. Sweeter and less dry than I'm used to from a red wine, but whatever... Also, hard to see in the image, but the Ravenswood logo is awesome.
  • Ballast Point Sea Monster Imperial Stout - I'd call this one an above average stout, a little more on the oatmeal side of things, and a good counterpoint to the other stouts people brought. I didn't have enough to make a good judgement though, so it's something I want to revisit at some point...
  • Terrapin Hop Karma IPA - The first in a hoppy trio of beers from Terrapin, this one was interesting, but ultimately didn't blow me away. Again, didn't have a lot of this, so I should probably reserve judgement. Cool label though.
  • Terrapin Rye Pale Ale - Seemed like a pretty standard, but well executed, Americal Pale Ale. Another cool label.
  • Terrapin Hopsecutioner: Pretty standared IPA territory here, though I love the label on this one. Little guy looks like a TMNT.
  • Weyerbacher Blithering Idiot - I'm going to review this one in detail at some point in the near future, so I'll leave it at that. I'll just say that it seems like a pretty good European style barleywine.
  • Founders Breakfast Stout and Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout - I've already written about these before. Coffee drinkers seemed to like the Founders one better than me, though I don't think anyone thought it was as good as BA says...
  • River Horse Tripel Horse - I was looking forward to this, as River Horse is one of the few semi-local breweries I'm not that familiar with, and the Tripel is one of my favorite styles. However, I found it quite disappointing. I didn't have a lot of it, but it didn't seem much like a Tripel at all, and it had this strange kick to it that I'm having trouble remembering.
  • Wintertraum Christkindles Gluhwein - Another wine. Sorta. Not sure how this is classified, but it was super-sweet tasting reddish wine. Not bad for what it is, I guess, but not really my thing either.
Another successful beer club! Like I said, not exactly ideal conditions for formal reviews, but a great time. The restaurant we went to was pretty good too. Not the best sushi in the area, but a welcome addition that didn't break that bank. As usual, I'm looking forward to next month!

Brooklyn Local 1

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I'm still making my way through 2010 movie releases, hoping to find a final gem in the rough so that I can complete a top 10, and the process is, of course, made much more fun by the imbibing of good beer! I recently caught up with The Last Exorcism and was quite pleasantly surprised. It's not really a top 10 kinda movie, but it's a lot better than the marketing for the film would have you believe. I don't really want to ruin anything, but it takes the form of a mock documentary with an effective setup and conflict, though I think the resolution isn't as satisfying as it wants to be. Still, well worth checking out for fans of horror (it's certainly better than most recent exorcism-themed film). Perhaps it helped that I was drinking some great beer whilst watching:

Brooklyn Local 1

Brooklyn Local 1 - Pours a light, cloudy yellow/orange color with a big head that leaves some lacing as I drink. Smells fantastic - bready belgian yeast, some candi-sweetness, and lots of citrus in the nose. Sweet and spicy with a bit of a kick in the middle and a nice dry finish. A little bitterness lingers... Mouthfeel is strongly carbonated and a bit harsh, but in a good way. A lot of this reminds me of a good Belgian tripel style beer, though BA classifies it as a Belgian Strong Pale Ale. I suppose there's a good reason for the classification that has to do with ingredients and brewing methods, but in terms of tasting this is certainly more like a tripel than the last two tripels I've had (Incubus and Weyerbacher Merry Monks (not reviewed yet)). All of which is to say, this is a great beer. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 9% ABV bottled (750 ml, caged and corked bottle). Drank from a tulip glass.

I guess this means I should try Local 2 (apparently a strong dark ale), eh?

Double Feature: Stouts

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This weekend's double feature was a pair of Australian crime flicks: Animal Kingdom and Red Hill. Both are good and well worth a watch, though for different reasons. Animal Kingdom is a better made film, perhaps more realistic, though also a bit too deliberate in its pacing. Excellent performance by Jacki Weaver as the Matriarch of a family of bank robbers (who happen to be in a feud with overzealous coppers). Also notable for featuring a teenager that actually acts like a teenager (i.e. he's generally an idiot) and not a precocious mastermind who outsmarts everyone. Again, good movie, maybe moving a bit too slow. Also covers some unpleasant subject matter. Red Hill, by comparison, moves quicker and features quite the badass villain (would have certainly given the other nominees a run for their money in my movie awards). The only recognizable star in the movie is Ryan Kwanten, who you might recognize from True Blood. He's not as moronic in this role as a cop who moves out to a small town, only to find it under siege from an escaped prisoner. Things proceed in a somewhat cliched manner, but again, well worth a watch.

On the beer side of things, I threw back a few stouts, starting with one I've been meaning to drink for a while:

Samuel Smith Oatmal Stout

Samuel Smith's Oatmeal Stout - Pours an opaque black color with a medium beige head that leaves lots of lacing as I drink. It doesn't appear to be as thick as some of the other stouts I've been having recently. Smells bready and roasty. That roastiness comes out in the taste as well. It's got a smooth, medium body with just the right amount of carbonation. It's perhaps not as complex as some of the other stuff I've been having lately, but it's very well balanced and something you could drink all night. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 5% ABV bottled (550 ml). Drank out of a pint glass.

From there, I kicked things up a notch with one of Weyerbacher's "big" beers:

Weyerbacher Old Heathen Imperial Stout

Weyerbacher Old Heathen Imperial Stout - It's perhaps a bit unfair to compare a standard style with an imperial style beer, but this is what I had in my fridge. It also pours an opaque black color with a bit of a darker head than the Sam Smith. Lacing too, but not as much. The nose is full of roastiness, as is the taste. There's more of a chocolateyness to the taste, both in terms of sweetness and bitterness. As expected, it's a bit more intense than the Sam Smith, and it's got a fuller body and heavier feel (even the appearance of the pour makes this beer look thicker). More intense and more complex, but perhaps not quite as well balanced. A well crafted beer nonetheless and well worth a try, even for stout amateurs like me. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 8% ABV bottled (12 oz). Drank out of a pint glass.

I think I'm beginning to get the hang of the stout style. I've never really been a big fan, but I'm starting to see why everyone seems to like them so much, even if it's still not my favorite style. I've got several more sitting on my shelf or in my fridge, so expect some more reviews soon.

Sly Fox Incubus

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If you happen to mention Royersford, PA to me, two things immediately come to mind. First is their distinctive fire horn (seriously, that's a badass horn). Second is Sly Fox, a brew pub and micro brewery that's been steadily expanding. They're one of the few craft breweries with a canning line, something they started doing long before it became trendy, though they also have a bottling line for big beers like the one I had recently:

Sly Fox Incubus

Sly Fox Incubus - Pours a hazy yellow gold color with a white, fluffy head. Smells of spicy Belgian yeast (cloves, etc...). Maybe a little fruitiness in the nose as well. Taste is pretty straightforward. Sweet and spicy like the nose, and some booziness as well. In fact, that sticky alcohol flavor lingers a bit in the aftertaste. Coming in at 10.3% ABV, it's a bit too strong, even for a tripel. Highly carbonated with a bit of a bite, it's nevertheless pretty easy to drink. All in all, it's a pretty straightforward Belgian tripel style beer. It's one of my favorite styles, so I do really enjoy this, but on the other hand, there's nothing particularly complex about it. A solid effort. B

Beer Nerd Details: 10.3% ABV bottled (750 ml, caged and corked bottle). Drank from a Goblet.

I've got a couple other Sly Fox beers in my fridge, and perhaps someday a trip out to the brew pub for some dinner and beer someday.

Tröegs Nugget Nectar

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So the seasonal beers have shifted from holiday brews and now we end up on one of my most anticipated beers of the year, from semi-local Tröegs.

Troegs Nugget Nectar

Tröegs Nugget Nectar - Technically, this is classified as an "imperial amber", but you can tell from the label (a hand squeezing a giant hop "nugget" which rather resembles a grenade) that you're in for more of a hoppy experience. Pours a clear amber/orange color with about a finger of head and some patchy lacing. Smell is of floral, earthy hops. Taste starts off malty and sweet, but then you get hit with the hoppy bitterness. It's actually quite well balanced for a 93ish IBU beer. The hops are clearly the dominant flavor, but they're not overpowering either. Good carbonation, goes down very easy (especially considering the ABV). It's currently #28 on BA's Top 100, and it's certainly an extremely well crafted beer, but I don't think I'd rank it quite so high. Very strong effort, I want to try some more of this, but perhaps the strong BA reviews led me to elevate expectations too high. I'll give it a provisional B+, though perhaps an A- lies in its future.

Beer Nerd Details: 7.5% ABV bottled (12 oz). Drank from a tulip glass.

1. INT. CITY TAVERN, PHILADELPHIA - OCTOBER 1775

After a long day of Constitutional debate at Independence Hall, George Washinton, Ben Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson grab a table at the City Tavern, settling in for a long night of drunken Constitutional debate.

GEORGE WASHINGTON: I say, barmaid, fetch us some of my fresh-brewed Porter! My dear friends must try this new brew.

The BARMAID delivers three brimming pints of General Washington's Tavern Porter.

THOMAS JEFFERSON: I say, George, you've outdone yourself with this brew.

BEN FRANKLIN: The barmaid is pretty fucking hot.

GEORGE WASHINGTON (ignoring Franklin): I say, thank you Thom. That is quite generous of you.

BEN FRANKLIN: Do you think she likes me?

THOMAS JEFFERSON: I say, you're quite welcome George.

BEN FRANKLIN: Why do you idiots preface everything you say with the phrase "I say".

THOMAS JEFFERSON (sighing): It's fucking gentlemanly, that's why. Anyway, I prefer my brews to be a bit stronger than this porter, but this is still quite enjoyable...

BEN FRANKLIN: Yes, well, I SAY, we're not all alcoholics like you Thom.

GEORGE WASHINGTON: Oh SNAP!

BEN FRANKLIN: You're both capable brewers, but I prefer to use more unconventional, off-centered ingredients.

THOMAS JEFFERSON (loudly): Hey everyone, look at this guy! He uses some spruce in his beer and he thinks he's Sam fucking Calagione!

The door to the bar opens, and ALEXANDER HAMILTON walks in, scanning the room.

BEN FRANKLIN (attempting to hide his face): Oh shit, how'd he find us?

GEORGE WASHINGTON glares at THOMAS JEFFERSON

THOMAS JEFFERSON (hiding his iPhone): What?

GEORGE WASHINGTON: You checked in, didn't you?

THOMAS JEFFERSON: Hey man, I'm the fucking Mayor of City Tavern. If I don't check in, I'll lose my discount!

BEN FRANKLIN: You asshole! We could have been free of Hamilton's nincompoopery for an entire night, but NOOOOO, you have to check in to FourSquare to maintain your lame Mayoral status.

ALEXANDER HAMILTON: HI GUYS!

GEORGE WASHINGTON (in an unenthusiastic tone, accompanied by a sigh): Hello Alexander.

ALEXANDER HAMILTON: HAVE YOU TRIED MY FEDERALIST ALE!?

BEN FRANKLIN (whispering to Jefferson): What the fuck is he going on about? I don't see this beer on the menu.

THOMAS JEFFERSON (whispering to Franklin): I think the brewery is just humoring him. They don't even list that beer on their website.

GEORGE WASHINGTON: Um, Thom, I challenge thee to a DUEL!

WASHINGTON takes a glove and slaps JEFFERSON in the face.

THOMAS JEFFERSON (surprised, but catching on): Hey! Uh, oh, OH, yes, I accept!

WASHINGTON and JEFFERSON down the remainder of their pints and exit.

2. EXT. MARKET STREET, PHILADELPHIA - OCTOBER 1775

WASHINGTON and JEFFERSON run down the street, stealing furtive glances behind them.

GEORGE WASHINGTON: I think we lost him.

THOMAS JEFFERSON: Thank God! Franklin's gonna be pissed that we left him alone with Hamilton.

GEORGE WASHINGTON: Nah, he's probably fucking the shit out of the barmaid by now.

3. INT. COMPUTER DESK - PRESENT DAY

MARK: So this is my third of Yards' Ales of the Revolution series. I quite enjoyed the first two, based on recipes from Franklin and Jefferson, and picked up Washington's entry on a recent trip to the local bottle store. I'm not sure why, but Alexander Hamilton's entry into the Ales of the Revolution series seems to be disappearing. I've seen it referred to as Federalist Ale and Treasury Ale, but as Jefferson notes in the above dialogue, Yards doesn't even mention it on their website anymore. I'm pretty sure you can still buy a variety pack with Hamilton's contribution, and judging from BA and RateBeer, it's some sort of pale ale (I think I saw something once about Yards' Philadelphia Pale Ale being basically the same beer, so perhaps Yards just rebranded Hamilton's beer? That's just blind speculation though.) Anyway, this post was supposed to be about General Washington's Tavern Porter:

Yards General Washington Tavern Porter

Pours a dark brown color (perhaps a hint of dark red in there) with a medium sized, light colored head. Roasted malts in the nose, maybe a little bitter chocolate. That chocolate hits pretty well at the start of the taste, followed by some bitterness in the middle and finishing with a bit of a roasty taste. There's a bit of a sticky alcohol flavor in the finish as well, something I was not expecting, but which suits the beer well. At 7% ABV, it's not a monster, but it's got enough zing to give it a distinctive character, which I can appreciate. The boozy tastes that were more overwhelming in Jefferson's beer are more balanced here (perhaps due to the sightly lower ABV, or maybe just the different malt backbone, or probably both). Mouthfeel is a bit lighter than expected. Plenty of carbonation and a medium body, which again helps offset the booziness. Not exactly a session beer, but quite drinkable. I'm not particularly an expert on Stouts or Porters, nor are they really my style of beer, but I rather enjoyed this. Also, like Jefferson's beer, there are rumors of a Bourbon Barrel Aged version of this porter, which could really impart some really nice additional notes to this beer. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 7.0% ABV bottled (12 oz). Drank from a pint glass.

So overall, I'm pretty happy with these Ales of the Revolution. Maybe I will pick up the variety pack and get me some Alexander Hamilton's Federalist Ale. In the meantime, I suppose I should include the standard disclaimers: No, I don't think that Jefferson was an alcoholic and as far as I knew, no one hated Alexander Hamilton (nor was he considered a nincompoop by his peers) and I'm pretty sure Jefferson and Washington never participated in a duel with one another. However, Franklin was a noted poon-hound and Jefferson was a total Apple fanboy and angel investor in FourSquare.

Update: The mystery of Alexander Hamilton's Ale of the Revolution... solved! Sorta.

Again Update: More on Franklin and the ladies...

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Hi, my name is Mark, and I like beer.

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