Monthly Archives: July 2016

Southern Tier–Warlock

I’m trying to simply review these various beers and not actually rate them.  There’s another website for rating that I use, so here I just want to tell a little about the beer and do my best to ignore my preferences towards or against a beer.  However, from time to time I’ll fail.  Miserably.  This is one of those times.

Warlock is one of several go-to beers where I’ll always have quite a few on hand because it’s so delish.  I’m down to just one case of Warlock because it contains some of my favorite words…imperial, stout, and pumpkin.

Warlock pours a deep black, viscous beer.  The head fights to form and just succeeds in creating a finger or so of light tan bubbles.  However, the alcohol content is just too much and the head dissipates fairly quickly, leaving just the strongest bubbles behind.  A swirl momentarily brings some life back, but the 10% ABV is just a bit too much and even the spotty lace dies a relatively clean and spotless death.

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A dip of your nose into the snifter brings back scents of dessert around the holidays.  Chocolate, coffee, pumpkin, molasses, brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  For a guy who likes all those things…one word…OMG.

The recipe calls for just a couple types of hops and twice as many types of malt.  So, you can count on an explosion of flavor and Warlock doesn’t disappoint.  The best description of the taste–pumpkin pie covered in chocolate sauce with a cup of espresso to wash it down.  Of course, that cup of espresso is spiked with a hit of alcohol as well.  At 10% ABV, the alcohol makes an impression, but is never offensive.  The hops are a complete afterthought as this is a malt bomb.  The only thing this dessert in a bottle is missing is a half tub of Cool Whip.

Due to the spices and high alcohol, this is not a smooth and creamy beer.  It’s a bit on the grainy side, it’s plenty viscous, and it’s full-bodied and then some.  Sweetness and chocolate are your first impressions on the palate.  Then the spices and alcohol work together to scrape your palate clean before a full finish of bittering coffee.

For a pumpkin pie and imperial stout fan, this beer hits all the right notes for me.  It’s very drinkable, but some might find it too much as many people don’t like the pumpkin pie spice and to be honest, a pinch less of nutmeg wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.  Still, Warlock will always have a spot in my fridge.

All that said, this is a seasonal so you can’t just run to the local beer store and pick up a bomber on a whim.  You have to plan for it.  Or, do what I do and pick up a couple cases.

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Goose Island–Sixth Day

Sixth Day is a Christmas beer that I may have aged too long.  It can be aged and the alcohol is up there to where it should be ok, but it was bottled in 2013 so it’s going to be borderline.  I drank three of the six bottles long ago, but never reviewed it.  Let’s see how it goes.

Dark murky brown in color, it resembles a darkened version of the Might Muddy Ohio River.  I wouldn’t swim in something this dark, but for a beer, I like it.  The dirty off white head slowly forms, in cascading fashion.  Once poured it sits and gathers it’s thoughts before falling a bit, revealing a creamy, frothy head that grabs hold of the glass as it falls.

 

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The first photo is very freshly poured, while the second photo  was taken a couple minutes later.  You can see how the head has fallen a bit, has a really creamy look, and the edges of the glass are slowly being taken over by the lacing.

It smells of dough, cinnamon, and dark red fruits.  Holiday beers are typically high in spice and yeast, while low on hops.  This fits the bill.  However, since the bottle has aged a few years, the different scents have melded into one.

A sip shows nutmeg in the recipe as well.  Like in the nose, there is a doughy taste to it, like freshly baked brown bread.  Cinnamon, the fruit cake, some rye, and alcohol make up the rest of the tastes.

While it’s aged for a while, it remains complex on the palate.  Super creamy up front and seemingly light-bodied, it changes direction as it works across the tongue to become spicy and tart, with a little heat thrown in for a lingering, dry finish and more full bodied.  A bit of carbonation makes each feeling a bit sharper than normal.

I enjoy most Goose Island beers and Sixth Day is no exception.  I like the 8.3% ABV and moderate spicing, along with the with the winter fruits.  It’s easy to drink and not overly bitter.

 

 

Lagunitas–A Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale

I had this a while back and after hearing that the person watching our dogs while we vacationed enjoyed non-fruit flavored IPAs, I picked up a sixer of this for the guy to imbibe on while we were gone.  When I got back home, all six bottles remained, proving my theory that he wasn’t the sharpest tool in the shed.

Per the bottle, the ingredients to this beer are hops, malt, hops, hops, yeast, hops, water, and hops.  This ‘recipe’ becomes apparent the second you crack open the bottle, but first, let’s talk looks.

This ale pours a fairly clear golden copper color.  Once the glass cools, you get a chill haze, but this beer is more in the translucent side than it appears in the photo below.  Regardless, the head is standard issue IPA.  A brilliant white color and nice thickness of foamy whiteness.  Long legs with a crispy thick lacing on everything the head touches.

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Pacific Northwest hops completely overwhelm every other scent near you once you open this bottle.  The recipe I referenced earlier is right on the mark.  Hops galore.  However, there is a curveball as the standard pine scent, while there, is notably a supporting star.  The co-stars are pineapple and orange.

That fruity nose doesn’t really come through in the taste.  It tastes more flowery, with a bit of orange rind, rather than the sweet fruit in the nose.  Despite 7.5% ABV, the alcohol isn’t prevalent.  If you try really hard, you’ll pick up some of the wheat that’s been added.

Very smooth for an IPA, the aforementioned wheat adds a tangy feel to the beer.  However, this is mostly about hoppy bitterness.  And it is bitter.  Not palate-destroying, but bitter…65 IBUs worth.  Medium-bodied with a drying, lingering bitterness.

Like most Lagunitas options, A Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale is very tasty.  Due to the moderate alcohol, you can go through several of these before you start stumbling and laughing at your own jokes.

You’ll nend no snacks to get through the first bottle.   But this is an IPA and at some point, your palate will grow weary and raise the white flag.  After the first bottle, you’re looking at a quarter can of Pringles per bottle.

Weyerbacher–Tiny

We don’t get Weyerbacher in Indiana.  You can find it around Indiana, but we just miss out.  This bottle is from Florida.  I pick up a 4-pack when we vacation down there.  And don’t let the name fool you, this is anything but tiny.

It’s a Belgian Imperial Stout.  It breaks the scale at 11.8% ABV.  However, it’s uses a Belgian yeast strain, and that usually makes things work out.

It’s dark as the darkest night.  It’s not even brown when held to a light, completely devoid of lightness.  The tan head forms beautifully, cascading upward.  When all is said and done, you’re left with several fingers of large bubbles that eventually form a thin creamy head that never fully goes away.  All that’s left are rings of tan lace.

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In the nose, only one thing comes to mind…roast.  The barley has been roasted to within an inch of its life and it brings forth yummy scents of coffee and bittersweet chocolate.  While I don’t drink coffee, I love the smell of it in beer.  The addition of the chocolate malt is just the icing on the cake.  And, with alcohol this high, some alcohol esters rise up from the glass as well.

Mere words can hardly describe the taste.  Again, roasty things are going to come to mind.  It really does taste like roasted coffee beans with a splash of chocolate thrown in, and to top it off, alcohol from a flask was added when the boss wasn’t looking.  With all this malty goodness, any hop presence is all but missed.

Being a Belgian stout, it’s devilishly creamy.  There’s an initial burst of creamy sweetness.  That burst only lasts for half a sip before the acrid bitterness starts to take over from the roasted grains and the crazy alcohol.  From midsip on, it becomes a bit more grainy in the mouthfeel, and a warmth, nay, a heat, evolves.  A bittering, warming sensation in the finish takes hold and never really lets up.

Still, there is that ever present sweet, creaminess that makes this beast of a beer reasonably drinkable, despite that ridiculous ABV figure.  Aging this beer for a year or more would do wonders, but it’s so tasty I can never let the bottles sit that long.

The snack factor on Tiny is pretty low.  Only as your throat starts to heat up do you need anything to temper the alcohol flames.

Stone Brewing–Enjoy By…

This beer is part of Stone’s Enjoy By series, where the ‘best before’ date is actually the name of the beer printed on the bottle.  In this case, enjoy by 7/25…and the icing on top is that it’s a tangerine IPA.

I’ve had a half dozen Enjoy By beers from Stone and like most of their other beers, they’re world class.  The addition of puréed tangerine just slays all others in the series.

The pour is a cloudy orange.  While the head is full, the bubbles never stop rising from the beer.  Bright white and frothy, that head doesn’t dissipate, always leaving a film of bubbles up top.

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The nose is full of hops.  Stone used ten hop varietals, many of them giving off citrus aromas, but it’s the puréed tangerine that leads the way.  Being an IPA with lots of hops, a good deal of malt was used for balance and there is a crackery scent as well.

Can you say citrus?  The taste buds party with many different citrus fruits…orange, pineapple, grapefruit, and yes, tangerine.  Like with the smell, there is a malt presence as well.  This beer is a bruiser at 9.4% ABV, so there’s plenty of malt to give it that much alcohol and this seems to be a combination of pale malt and some basic biscuit malt.

As I mentioned, there’s much malt in this to provide balance to the high bitterness (90 IBUs) and to give it that big alcohol profile.  The malts bring sweetness, and when combined with the sweetness from the puréed tangerine, it marries really well with the high hoppy bitterness.  Lots of sweet and lots of bitter.  Plus, it’s very smooth for a 90 IBU beer.  Due to this, this is one drinkable Double IPA.  Despite the hefty gravity of this beer, it’s only medium bodied.  The bitterness does continue to grow with each sip, but the alcohol remains fairly well hidden.  There’s never any alcohol warmth and the finish remains crisp and bitter.

Overall, this is a beer I’ll buy any time it’s available.  The first time I had it a couple months back, I was able to buy a whole six pack.  This time there was a 2-bottle limit and I bought the last two bottles in the beer store.  When I went to a second beer store, I learned they didn’t receive any bottles.  Other than availability, there are no flaws with this beer.

 

Three Floyds–Zombie Dust

Yep, the top ranked American Pale Ale in the world, brewed in a little town in Indiana up near Chicago.  I’ve had it before a few times and each time, it was simply glorious.  I expect the same now.  It’s been rated just under 10,000 times with an average rating of 4.53 out of 5.

This is part of the gift I recently received from my new favorite archery student.  I’ll work on the nachos after I have a tongue orgasm drinking this.

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It looks amazing.  Early on there’s a bit of chill haze that makes it appear a bit cloudier than it actually is.  As it warms, the haze dies and it becomes a little more translucent.  It’s the color of peach skin, kind of a reddish golden copper.  The head is bright white and very frothy.  Not quite the meringue-look of an IPA, but close.  The lovely head never goes away and brings with it a thick lacing on the glass as you start to drink.

Three Floyds doesn’t give out a lot of information on their beers but this one is listed at 6.2% ABV with 50 IBUs.  What it doesn’t say is the type of hops used, but it’s got to be one of the C-hops (Cascade, Centennial, Chinook) because pine and citrus dominate the olfactories.  A very dank, mustiness comes wafting up from each swirl.  The best way to describe how it smells is to say it smells like a Christmas tree dipped into a vat of pineapple and grapefruit.  It’s really an exceptional scent.

The taste follows the smell, though the pine and piney resins demand the attention.  Only a hint of pineapple makes the cut, while the grapefruit, probably just the rind, is the dominant fruit.

That oily pine resin really covers and coats your tongue making the bitterness the star.  Each subsequent sip provides more and more bitterness.  It’s not overly bitter, it’s just that the dank feel and the bitter hops are the stars.  Zombie Dust is extremely drinkable, but not because it feels smooth or creamy, but because it’s so damned good.  Fortunately, at only 6.2% ABV, you can drink quite a few of these…if you can get your hands on that many.

The only thing I’d change about the beer is giving it more alcohol and bumping it up to an IPA or even an Imperial.  That’s just a minor detail.  The biggest issue with the beer is getting it.  It’s difficult.  Most of the time in Evansville, the beer places are lucky to get an entire case and they typically put a 2 bottle maximum on it.  Even then, it’s generally sold out within the hour.  You can stop at the main brewery and hope they’ve got some, and if so, you can pick up a case…or four.

After having reviewed over 1,000 beers and having some of the best beers of each of the major types, I concur that this is easily not only the best American Pale Ale in the world, but one of the best beers of any type in the world. Overall, out of beers with 5,000 or more reviews on BeerAdvocate.com, it ranks as the 6th best beer in the world.

St. Bernardus Christmas Ale

This beer has more or less become my go-to beer.  It started when I first had it some years ago and thought it was amazing.  It ended when I drove a couple hours away to Louisville, KY and picked up 10 cases of it.

It’s a fine Belgian beer.  It’s dark and strong, a bit spicy, and made by monks.  What could be better?

It pours a murky dark brown.  You can tell it’s heavy and rich just from the look.  A tan head lives up top and with the carbonation, you can make the head as thick as you want.  The retention is long and each swirl breathes new life into it.  The head never fully dissipates.  Additional swirls bring about new layers of lace.

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Swirls release new waves of scents.  There’s plenty of things to choose from:  green apple, pear, Belgian yeast, dark fruits, caramel, ripe dark fruits and white pepper.  Think holiday fruit cake, only yummy.

Each sip is a delight as well.  All the yummy goodness that you can smell is easy to taste.  Plus, there’s that splash of 10% alcohol hiding in the background.  This particular bottle has been aging so the flavors have nicely melded together and the alcohol has been tamed a bit.  The carbonation is still there, making each sip all the more crisp.

It’s a party in the mouth with lots of complexity.  Sweet, tart, crisp, sharp, tangy, with a faint warmth in the finish.  It really is a fruit cake in a bottle, though it’s been liquored in a bit.  Full bodied and exceptionally easy to drink.

Overall, there are no faults with the beer.  Living in a medium sized town makes it difficult to get a hold of (hence the 10 case purchase), but I’m ok with driving a couple hours every few years to replenish my supply.

 

Quite the gift

I took a couple kids and my son to the archery range the other day.  I’m one of the coaches and I want to make sure the kids keep good form during the offseason.  While talking with one of the parents in the parking lot, one of the kids grabbed a gift and handed it to me.

Before showing you what I was given, I have to note that at the archery tournaments, I can generally be found with a plate of nachos and cheese in between flight times.  The kids have noticed this and there is one kid in particular who I always seem to talk with while I’m munching away.  Because I’m polite, I always offer up the plate.

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To make up for all the chips I’ve offered, I was given this amazing package as a gift.  I love the nachos, but check out the bottles that came with it.

One of the best IPAs in the world–Zombie Dust–to wash down the nachos.  It’s times like this when I feel loved.

Lagunitas–Imperial Stout

Lagunitas is becoming one of my favorite breweries. Basically everything I’ve had from that brewery has been outstanding.  I expect this Imperial Stout will be no different.

Just look at it.  It’s not the darkest beer ever brewed.  Not exactly black, more of an extremely dark brown with the slightest hints of red when held to a light.  Still, very much opaque.  But look at the head up top.  It’s glorious.  A couple fingers of tan frothy, foamy bubbles do their thing.  The do it for quite a while too.  Great retention.  Even when those foamy bubbles are done, they leave a map of where they’ve been with a thick, pasty lace.

Lagunitas Imp Stout

Not sure they even added hops because the scent is completely dominated by roasted barley malt.  There might be a splash of chocolate malt in there as well.  Heck, they might have even added some coffee because it smells like a smoky cup of coffee with some sort of chocolate flavoring added.  Without the hints of chocolate, it could pass as charcoal.

Can’t think of too many things that taste better than this.  The only thing that comes to mind would be a few other beers that I’ve had, but this is right up there.  I don’t know how they could make it better.  Everything I mentioned about the smell is in the taste.  The chocolate and coffee flavors are magnified and the smoky taste is there as well.  It’s really an epic tasting beer.

Being a stout, it should be smooth and creamy and this beer epitomizes that.  Excessively smooth and creamy, this beer is beyond drinkable.  Somehow they’ve managed to squeeze in 9.9% ABV and 45 IBUs, but I didn’t notice either.  Needless to say, this Imperial Stout is full-bodied and then some.  It’s like a small meal.

As the beer warms a bit and the glass empties, there is a growing heat found in the throat with each sip.  High alcohol eventually produces some warmth and a slight bitterness.  However, this is so good I don’t mind.  There’s a nice balance between smooth and sweet and warm and bitter.

I can’t find fault with this beer.  I’ll be ordering a case or five as soon as I talk with my beer guy.  The best part…this bomber cost $4.79.  But, when you buy in excess like I do, you get a discount, so it only ran me $4.07 before taxes…for something so yummy, I’ll have to confess to stealing.  The ‘snack factor’ for this is literally zero.  You don’t need anything to help kill the bottle.  So happy I bought one of these and already can’t wait for my next bottle.

 

Dogfish Head–Oak-Aged Noble Rot

Honestly, I’m not much of a Dogfish Head fan.  They’re one of the most well-known and respected brewers in the world.  I find them highly expensive and highly overrated.  Hopefully this beer will change my mind.

We’re not off to a great start.  This looks more like wine than beer.  Initially, there’s a wonderful, bright white head, but it lacks legs and is gone in no time.  A ginger ale colored beer is what sits in the glass.  Very clear, almost completely translucent.  Kind of like white wine.  It should be noted here that this beer is full of grapes and grape must, so in a sense, it looks like it should.  That said, I’m not a wine drinker and it looks much clearer than this picture shows.

Oak Aged Noble Rot

The nose is overwhelmingly grapy.  It smells like wine and has a Belgian Lambic-ness to it (i.e. SOUR).  I can almost smell how tart this is going to be.  Vinegar comes to mind.  On the positive side, the musty scents are quite nice.  One website calls this a fruit beer, Dogfish Head refers to it as a sorta-saison.  Saisons are farmhouse ales from the Belgian landscape where the yeast strains were whatever happened to be in the area at the time.  Each part of Belgian had a slightly different tasting saison due to the various strains of yeast flying around in the air.  Because of this, saisons are called farmhouse ales and generally have a funky smell and taste.  You easily pick up the funky tartness in this beer.

It tastes better than I expected.  While everything up to this point went down the wine avenue, the taste borders on a hybrid of wine and beer and I can work with that.  Obviously, it’s full of white wine (green grape) flavors and the wonky yeast comes through.  It starts off like a Lambic, but before the vinegar taste and feel takes over, there is an abrupt stop and the beer changes direction with the hops and the alcohol balancing the wine-like characteristic.  While the head doesn’t last long, you can taste the carbonation sharpening the edges of the different flavors involved in this ale.

It’s plenty complex, running the gamut from sweet to tart to sour to bitter to crisp…there’s a lot going on and that’s a good thing.  I could probably drink wine if it tasted and felt more like this.  Being a saison, inspired by Belgian farmhouses of old, the yeast lends itself to a spicy, white pepper feel.  It’s all part of that complexity with the sweet and tart from the grape must to the bitter and warmth from the 9% alcohol to the spice from the yeast to the crisp of the carbonation.  It’s all fairly pleasant.  Typical of the style, it’s medium bodied and while not smooth at all, the crisp finish scrapes the palate clean, readying it for the next sip.

Despite my initial displeasure, this ended up being a pretty good beer.  Not great, but pretty good.  It steps up to the plate at 9% ABV and I want to say it only registered 18 IBUs, though it felt more bitter than that.  Also, I can’t remember where that number of IBUs came from, so it’s possible I’ve made it up though I clearly remember it not being very much.

It’s still an expensive beer–>$14.99 for a large European bottle (750 ml/25.4 oz).  Fortunately, the beer store offers discounts for guys like me who drop a c-note every time they visit so I think it ended up costing $12.74 before tax.  Not all that bad for Dogfish Head, but still a bit more than I think it should cost.

Also, due to the complexity of the beer, I find the snack factor to be fairly low for this beer.  Probably a half can of Pringles to get through the entire bottle.  Your scale will thank you for this.