Tuesday, October 31, 2006


My pre-game ritual before every San Jose Sharks hockey game I attend (which is about 3-5 per year) is to drive down to San Jose, park on San Pedro at the free garage, and walk across the street to the TIED HOUSE for as many pints of beer as time will allow. Within reason, of course. I’ve never found their beer to be anything out of this world, but it’s always good enough for the occasion. A couple weekends ago I went, and decided to “evaluate it critically”. The lineup of beer seems centered on the non-microbrew drinker, with a pilsner, a light beer, some pale ales – that sort of thing – so of course I went for TIED HOUSE OATMEAL STOUT and IRONWOOD DARK, which is an English-style brown ale. I’ll say this: the oatmeal stout was miles better than I expected. Very malty and creamy, and quaffable in the best sense of the word. I quaffed mine with great relish and enthusiasm. 7.5/10. Nice work! Ironwood Dark wasn’t bad either, and I seem to remember reading that this won some awards somewhere or another. It won my award for “best brown ale of the evening”, but that’s about it – still, it was about on the level of Newcastle, if lighter and a little more bitter. 6.5/10. I could have it again under different circumstances and still feel like I was gettin’ my game face on. This place is about as good as it gets in San Jose, the town where I spent my teenage years, so if you’re ever hanging out there you now know where to go & what to order!

Monday, October 30, 2006


CHIMAY is often an American’s first glimpse into artisanal Belgian beer – I know it was mine, probably about 14-15 years ago. When you see Chimay on tap in this country, it’s nearly always “Chimay Red” (a Dubbel), and it’s nearly always wonderful. I’ve been meaning to go deeper into their product line, so I picked up a bottle of CHIMAY CINQ CENTS a while back. That’s also known as “Chimay White”, after the beer’s label. It’s an unpasteurized Belgian Trippel, and it appears to cost a little more than the red version. I’m not sure it’s better, though it was certainly good. I liked the refreshing taste of hops and the amazing fluff/foam head that poured; this is a much lighter, more golden beer than the fruity/dark Chimay red, and really appears to be an entirely different beast. I don’t know, something was missing from this one that kept me from getting totally wired; I found the taste just a little bit left of center in a way that I can’t put my finger on. Further research is probably warranted – for now let’s call it a 6.5/10.

Friday, October 27, 2006


As I wrote on Wednesday, PORT BREWING/LOST ABBEY fever is sweeping through Northern California this week. No wait, maybe that's just me and my beer dork friends. Well, once the rumor leaked that the Toronado bar had a few special kegs of their wares, which had been hand-delivered by brewmaster Tomme Arthur, I high-tailed it over there on Tuesday night and started samplin'. Also - and you'd better act quick if you live anywhere nearby - but CITY BEER in San Francisco has a few cases of the Lost Abbey Avant Garde, Lost and Found and Red Barn Ale, and Craig Wathen, the store's owner, told me on Wednesday that the Port Brewing folks have talked with him about bringing up more cases to him every month. Who needs a distributor if you can just bomb up the I-5 yourself for nine hours and deliver your beers in person?

Anyway, Toronado has (or had) the LOST AND FOUND and the PIZZA PORT HOP SUEY Double IPA on tap from this fine organization. I had the latter (twice), and I'm a better man for it. With this beer clocking in at over 10% alcohol, the bar felt it necessary to serve it in smaller-than-pint glasses, while charging full price of course. HOP SUEY is outstanding - one of the best big Imperial/Double IPAs going that's not called HOPSICKLE. It has a pine/citrus scent that's more subtle than overwhelming. Don't you just know when a Double IPA is well-crafted, as opposed to thrown-together? I'm starting to. A good one is going to just slide down the gullet and let its flavors sort of tingle and work their way into the contours of your taste buds, where a mediocre one's going to maybe taste "bold" and intense but isn't something you want to sit & relish. You want to drink it fast and consider it done. Well, HOP SUEY is the former for sure - an excellent 9/10, and hopefully one that'll start getting bottled and driven up to NoCal and around the country with some regularity. I promise to keep quiet about Port Brewing's stuff until next week at least, OK?

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


Last Friday I paid $65 to attend a five-course “beer dinner” at San Francisco’s Cathedral Hill Hotel, with the guest brewer of honor being San Diego County’s red-hot PORT BREWING – also known to many at PIZZA PORT, and also lately as LOST ABBEY, as their new sub-brand of beers are known. Just this past year word of how fantastic this brewer’s wares are have reached critical consensus, and I’d been dying to try them. Oh, and I like a big fat meal with lots of meat as well. This chef named Bruce Patton has been curating these events for quite some time now; last month he had RUSSIAN RIVER BREWING as the guest brewer; next month it’s DOGFISH HEAD, whose beers can’t even be found in California. Wow.

In attendance this evening were representatives of all of the Bay Area’s 5-star brewers, as well as serious beer aficionados from hither and yon. In their company, I felt I’d arrived, but then, that’s what throwing a little money around once in a while will get ya. All told, there were nearly 100+ beer hounds sampling the wares, and pairing them with excellent, vaguely Mexican-themed cuisine like chipotle-spiced lamb, duck, skewered meat, seafood pastry puffs, and so on. Patton’s a terrific cook, and every dish was great, including the dessert that I barely remember. Barely remember? Hey, they did not skimp on the snobby-ass beer one bit. Brewmaster Tomme Arthur and his crew drove up from San Diego with some kegs and a ton of bottles for the event (they also deposited some at the Toronado Bar, at City Beer Store, and at Ledger’s Liquors in Berkeley). Here’s what they served, in order:

LOST ABBEY AVANT GARDE – This was an amazing way to start the evening; I had 3 glasses in very short order, and the funny thing was: we thought we were drinking something called “WIPEOUT IPA” the whole time, when in fact it was a “Biere De Garde”. It was so incredibly flavorful and smooth, just this perfect golden Belgian-style nectar that couldn’t have been better. Need to find more of this ASAP! 10/10.

LOST ABBEY RED BARN ALE – This Belgian Saison was also fantastic & very full of complex yeasty flavors, just not off-the-charts incredible like Avant Garde. 8/10.

CUVEE DE TOMME – Tomme Arthur actually apologized to the crowd for this one – it was flat, he said, and most folks just shrugged and said, “Whatever, this is still great”. This is a Belgian-Style Dark Ale, and it tasted like an ultra-experimental fruit beer crossed with port wine. It was sort of a surprise that it wasn’t served with dessert, but Arthur had an explanation for this – I just forgot why. 6.5/10.

LOST ABBEY LOST AND FOUND ALE – This Dubbel was pretty interesting and very drinkable as well. I could pretend to tell you about it but I’d be lyin’. I do remember giving it a 7.5/10, though.

LOST ABBEY ANGEL’S SHARE – Incredible. Another knockout – this Barleywine is the absolute best representative of that style I’ve ever had, though Beer Advocate is calling it an “American Strong Ale”. Arthur definitely called it a barleywine, so there you go. The man knows his own product, I’m sure. 11% ABV – whew. Everyone at our table was oohing and aahing over it, and the pouring/serving fella just kept coming back with more! 9.5/10!

The talk of the town all week post-event has been how more Port Brewing/Lost Abbey beers are on tap at the Toronado and in the two aforementioned stores. I myself sampled the Toronado ales just last night, and will have a full report soon in this very space. In the meantime, every beer doggie in the Bay Area now has a new favorite brewer - shirts off to Tomme Arthur and his crew, and please get some distribution in Northern California soon.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


I guess I never made the connection between the availability of BUFFALO BILL’S PUMPKIN ALE and the holiday known to most as Halloween, but just when I’d been craving some I learned that the beer is a “seasonal”, one that only makes its way out around October and shortly thereafter. Which is interesting, because I couldn’t tell you a thing about this Hayward, CA-based brewer otherwise – only that they are the ones that make the awesome pumpkin beer and that’s it. Yet this spiced beer is so good that I’m going to make a point one of these days on getting a designated driver to take me to their brewpub for a sampling session that’ll last deep into the wee hours, because lightning doesn’t just strike once, right? Around Halloween time, their PUMPKIN ALE is available in 6-packs at just about every supermarket in the area, with a special “end cap” display at Trader Joe’s, where it’s stacked high to the heavens.

The beer itself is everything you want in a flavored, spiced beer, and is just right for getting one ready for the serious Christmas beer season. Gorgeous copper color, medium-to-light head, and an aroma of nutmeg-like spices that hint & then deliver. It’s very crisp and just sweet enough without being overwhelming, and though it might be something of a novelty, I could and will drink it anytime. This is a beer for stocking up on. What’s strange to me is how out-of-sync my view on it is with those of the Beer Advocate regulars. They don’t dig it. But you will! 8/10!

Monday, October 23, 2006


I am typically partial to anything the ANDERSON VALLEY BREWING CO. rolls out – they make what just may be the greatest beer in America, BOONT AMBER, as well as a number of other fine elixirs that have kept me plump & happy for well over a decade. That’s why it hurts me to lower the boom on their BROTHER DAVID’S DOUBLE Abbey-Style Ale. This beer has exploded all over the Bay Area, enjoying terrific distribution and now has even shown up on some taps. I’ve tried to get into it, and quite honestly, I can’t stand it. It’s everything I don’t want in a Belgian-style beer – sticky, overly sweet, and full of clashing flavors that don’t add up to a pleasing whole. Let me emphasize again: sticky. That’s what you’re thinking the whole way through. Now that I’ve had it both on tap and in the wax-sealed bottle, I can render the decisive verdict – nice try, but poor execution. 4/10.

Friday, October 20, 2006


I fed my head last week with this new beer from San Francisco’s MAGNOLIA PUB & BREWERY called “Wit Rabbit”, named of course after the 60s drug anthem from I forget who. Except the rabbit back then wasn’t being hallucinated due to the effects of a strong but subtle Belgian wit ale, it was from psychedelic mushrooms and LSD, baby! I think this is a brand-new beer; even the all-knowing Beer Advocate doesn’t have anyone reviewing it yet. I found mine when I checked out this brand new bar in San Francisco called ALEMBIC, which is located a few blocks away from Magnolia on Haight Street. It appears to be Magnolia’s attempt to launch a more chi-chi sub-brand, as this place is truly just a fancy restaurant with a large smattering of drinks (not just great beer), including 4-5 Magnolia offerings right there on tap. The “Wit Rabbit” had this intensely rich, floral smell that promised something wonderful, and it poured a nice cloudy yellow/orange. I was sort of taken aback by its acidity straight out of the gate, though, and that made me feel a little double-crossed. Everything pointed toward this smooth & silky drinking beverage, and instead I got a more difficult, experimental beer. Yet as it “warmed” (as we say in the business), I found everything settled down and this one started delivering some real rewards. It’s not what I expected from a Belgian-style wit, but I liked it very much just the same. 7/10.

If you’re in the area, take your lady-friend here & pamper the hell out of her – but only if she’ll let you stumble down the hill afterward for a long nightcap at the Toronado. That sort of opportunistic bargaining is the key to making a relationship work – look it up!

Thursday, October 19, 2006


HEDONIST BEER JIVE readers, I hope you're not too jealous, but I'm starting up yet another blog to replace the one I jettisoned last month. The new one's called DETAILED TWANG and will feature no beer discussions of any kind. That's why you'll still come here, right? Please check out out new creation early and often by clicking this link!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


Without too much fanfare and hyperbole, I’ll just state it right out: the basic, no-frills STONE IPA is one of the finest beers I’ve tasted, anywhere, anytime, ever. I had my very first last week and I’m calling it a no-doubt-about-it 10/10. Wow – these guys (Stone Brewing) just might be the best brewers in the US right now; as you may or may not know, they also make ARROGANT BASTARD ALE, an IMPERIAL RUSSIAN STOUT that’s amazing, their Anniversary series of ales (the 10th ANIVERSARY ALE, which I have sitting on the shelf awaiting consumption, is getting rave reviews), and a host of others that are on my list. Tasting a beer this great helps one realize the vast distance between an outlier, A+ beer and the great bell curve of microbrews in the middle. The bulge in the curve has all those fine, very drinkable beers that this blog typically “scores” in the 6-8 range, and as the curve plunges precipitously downward on the x axis, right at the bottom (meaning the top) you find a tiny handful of knockout beers like STONE IPA.

OK, that’s too much fanfare and hyperbole. The reason I dug this one so much is the world-beating smoothness of the beer, and the integration of just an explosion of intense citrus, hops, and alcohol (6.9% ABV) flavors. It has a decidedly complex feel to it with lots going on, and yet never once is that jarring or strange the way certain Belgians can be for the novice (like myself). I couldn’t recommend it any higher for either the beer snob or the dilettante looking to understand just how intensely great some US beers have become in the year 2006.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


I found my new favorite pilsner – a beer style I normally shy from - in a most unusual way this past weekend. My parents bought some GORDON BIERSCH PILSNER in honor of my birthday, and since I typically expect Corona or Moosehead at their place, I was already pleasantly surprised that they’d gone the macro-micro route for me. But that was nothing compared how agog I am at how good this one is. I mean, GORDON BIERSCH BREWING is one of those operations that you just don’t think about very often; their beers are sort of the default “microbrew” option at every chain grocery store in Northern California (along with SIERRA NEVADA, FULL SAIL and PYRAMID), and their restaurants are these pseudo-upscale yuppie haunts that are pleasant enough but just not a place I think about when contemplating my next beer. But man, they make a fine pilsner. This one, rather than being exceedingly “light” and “crisp”, actually is full-bodied like an ale and full of rich flavor. It’s the sort of beer – unlike the disappointing TRUMER PILS – that you can sit savor while drinking, rather than slamming through it in an effort to get to the next one. I admit a great deal of surprise at this revelation, but there it is. 7.5/10. Anyone know if there are any other Gordon Biersch beers worth knowing about?

Monday, October 16, 2006


By the time this post, which I’m writing on Friday 10/13, goes up on Monday 10/16, the whole notion of the Oakland A’s professional baseball team as a World Series-bound team of destiny may have gone up in horrific flames, but a week ago, when I watched them vanquish the Minnesota Twins’ playoff hopes in person at the ballpark, it was pretty friggin’ plausible. See, I dig baseball – before I was a music freak and a beer dork (i.e. in the 1970s, when I was turning 10) I was making lists & gathering baseball stats & collecting cards like the obsessive that I still am. One thing I’ve never done until last week, though, is go to a playoff game. I had tickets to Game 5 of the 1989 World Series – you know, the earthquake series – but thank to the A’s sweeping my Giants, there was no game 5. So I sprang for them this time, took the day off work, and all that. And what pastime goes better with rabid sports enthusiasm than beer drinking, am I right? I arrived at the stadium determined to find a couple of quality microbrews on tap, and to my glee, I found that which I was looking for.

The Network Associates Coliseum is by most measures a total concrete-and-plastic abomination & way past its prime, but folks, they have DESCHUTES’ Mirror Pond Pale Ale on tap! I started getting my mojo going with one of those, as I did so many times when I lived in Seattle in the late 90s. It continues to impress – perhaps not to the exacting standard of Deschutes’ off-the-charts amazing BLACK BUTTE PORTER, but a darn sight better than most brews. Smooth, moderately hoppy, not very cloudy to look at, not very aromatic, and probably something fairly representative of what the Pacific Brew News podcast calls a “lawnmower beer”. Or a ballgame beer – whatever. There’s nothing to complain about – just an excellent example of a simple Northwest American pale ale. 7/10! I then headed over to the SIERRA NEVADA stand, where there was a taphandle with “Sierra Nevada Oktoberfest” emblazoned upon it. I asked the young lady to pull me one of those, and I dug this one too. A nice rich amber color, very malty but way smooth again, with a hint of a “bite” to back it up. That may have been the hops on this one, because apparently they didn’t skimp of them. A lot of Oktoberfest Marzen beers are a little too intense at times for me, but this was nothing of the sort. Maybe that’s why this, too, was being served to the great unwashed hoi polloi at the ballgame. I gave it a 7/10 as well, and what a banner day that makes!

Friday, October 13, 2006

Thursday, October 12, 2006


I am rooting for this underdog microbrewery from Santa Cruz called SANTA CRUZ MOUNTAIN BREWERY. They are part of the vanguard for this whole new “organic beer” movement, which I honestly could give a tin sh** about, but just the same, they are a tiny brewer with limited distribution and a couple of beers so far that are rock solid. I tried their ORGANIC DEVOUT STOUT a few months back and gave it a 7/10, which means I’d drink it again in a heartbeat. Well, we were down in Santa Cruz a few weekends ago and I decided to try another one of their 22-oz. bombers sitting on the shelf at the New Leaf hippie market downtown, and picked up one of these ORGANIC DREAD BROWN ALEs instead, even though the stout was staring me in the face. An English brown ale, yet named “dread” after – what? Pirates? Rastas? I’d venture the latter, given the target audience in Santa Cruz. Here’s what I liked about it: it had a medium malty taste, very unsticky and quite smooth. Almost no carbonation. Here’s what I was less-than-impressed with: it had very little character of its own; it was sort of a basic brown ale off the brown ale chopping block, and no zesty bold flavors to leave as a calling card. You can imagine drinking these all night, actually, and depending on your mood, that might be just what you want. I figure only a year+ in business and they’ve already got two pretty good beers going. I hope they get wider distribution, and I plan to keep bringing ‘em home each time we head into or drive through Santa Cruz. 6/10.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


You sure can’t judge a book by its cover, wouldn’t you agree? I mean, I’ve always thought the MOTHERS OF INVENTION were pretty lame, so when the LAGUNITAS BREWING CO. of Petaluma, CA decided to do tribute to those 60s theater-rock hippie clowns via the brand new FREAK OUT! IPA, I applauded the fact that there was a new Lagunitas on the market but was not impressed by the “brand positioning”, if you catch my drift. Ah well, it’s only rock and roll, and I’m strictly a beer scribe now, so what do I know. I do know that I had this on tap at the Toronado in San Francisco recently, and that one lone pint has me convinced that Lagunitas have hit this one out of the park. FREAK OUT ALE is fantastic – a tasty-dry, classic India Pale Ale with a real “golden grapefruit”-ish feel to it, and it’s of course totally full of hops. I honestly didn’t expect to like this as much I did, but I liken it to their other killer IPA MAXIMUS. Their regular flagship IPA, on the other hand, is just okay – so the fact that these two beers are so off-the-charts amazing is a testimonial to getting the recipe right through trial and error. I’m not sure how much longer Freak Out! is going to be on the market (maybe it’s a limited edition music-themed thing like NORTH COAST BREWING’s “Brother Thelonius”), so if you see it in a beckoning 22-oz. bottle, I’d recommend you bust a move for sure. 9/10.

Monday, October 09, 2006


So there I was at the Toronado Bar in San Francisco, ready to jump at the most obscure beer on the menu – just because. Feeling a little flush at the time (my Giants had just been officially eliminated from the playoffs, just as I’d known they would back on April 4th), I pulled the trigger on the most expensive pint on their board, a $6.50 DUCHESSE DE BOURGOGNE from Belgium – on tap, no less. When I was in New York City a few weeks ago I noted that every beer on the menu was that highly priced, where in California the going rate’s about $3.50-$4.50. I figured I’d “head east” mentally and spend what needed to be spent to try something weird and wild. Not knowing anything about this one, I was surprised to find a sour, fruity, raspberry-ish beer relatively high in alcohol content......at home later I looked it up & found that it was part of a style I’d barely heard of – the FLANDERS RED ALE. How about that? Here’s how those are defined over at Beer Advocate:

A Flanders Red, are commonly referred to as the "red" beers of West Flanders. Belgian Red Beers are typically light-bodied brews with reddish-brown colors. They are infamous for their distinct sharp, fruity, sour and tart flavours which are created by special yeast strains. Very complex beers, they are produced under the age old tradition of long-term cask aging in oak, and the blending of young and old beers.

Well stow me for a lubber. If there was ever a beer outside of the barleywine that could be called an “acquired taste”, it’s this one. It’s probably not miles from a lambic, but there’s nothing sweet about it – the Duchesse De Bourgogne is all about the tart, and once you’ve gotten comfortable with how sour it is, it’s not half bad. It’s certainly full of flavor, and slides down the gullet in a pleasing manner – and honestly, it really tastes like something that had a lot of cask-conditioned care put into it. I’m going to mentally bookmark this style as one that merits further investigation, and for now I’ll give my first foray into it a solid 6/10.

Friday, October 06, 2006


Remember that ad campaign for Blake Edwards' "10" back in 197-whenever it was? Bo Derek? Remember? "If 8s make you tingle, and 9s make you gasp - what will you do when you see a "10"??". Well, that came to mind as I drank this TRAPPISTES ROCHEFORT 10, a beer that was on my targeted hit-list after being absolutely bowled over by how great the Trappistes Rochefort 8 is. That one did more than make me tingle; it’s quite easily one of the best beers I’ve ever had, and one of these days I’m going to buy a case of ‘em and keep them in my beer cellar aka the garage. I was presented with the “10” by a friend whom I’d done something nice for – sorta – and was told at the time that I’d need to “cellar” this one as well for a while. I said "screw that, esse". I busted it open with chicken & veggie BBQ skewers the other night and let the goddamn good times roll.

Well, it’s a pretty stellar Belgian beer, a “Quadrupel” from one of the big 6 monastic brewers. It’s a deep, dark brown pour (nearly black, actually), and the first thing you get out of it is a real rich, dark fruit taste – along with lots of carbonation and a real complex but smooth feel. I imagined another skewer of dried dates, prunes and pomegranates roasted on the spit and then extracted quickly to make this beer – and oh yeah, it’s a total alcohol bomb too, in all the right ways (11.3%!). You don’t know it until you’re halfway done and you feel like you just downed a "Jager" shot. You know what I mean? Of course you do. 8.5/10 – an excellent beer!

Thursday, October 05, 2006


Last trip I took to the Rogue Public House in San Francisco, I vowed I’d walk out of there with as many bottles of Rogue varietals as I could carry. Since I was riding the bus that evening & was loaded down w/ other items, that only amounted to a variety-pack sixer of 12.-oz bottles, the first of which I sampled last night. As we’ve written about before in this spot, I consider ROGUE to be one of America’s finest brewers for over a decade, and even if they are not now in the lofty catbird seat of the new upstarts like RUSSIAN RIVER, DOGFISH HEAD, PORT BREWING or MOYLAN’S, their consistency and willingness to innovate over the years keeps them as one of our country’s brewing heroes. I guess my only problem with them is they seem to be lacking that one beer that makes everyone go bananas, like a Hopsickle or a Boont Amber or a Damnation – one that the company’s fortunes can ride on & allow them to do whatever they want to do. I don’t think DEAD GUY ALE is it – but that seems to be the one you see most often. Maybe it’s this newer CHOCOLATE STOUT that I’ve yet to have, but which the beer cognoscenti seem to be raving about.

In any case, I know it’s not gonna be their ST. ROGUE RED. Though far from a disaster, this amber ale has a distinct funky/stale aftertaste that really did in my enthusiasm for drinking it. It’s a beautiful looking beer, a really deep ark reddish-brown, and it tastes pretty good and hoppy going in (classic red ale taste with a pleasant “mouthfeel” – oh Christ, kill me now), but going down is a different story. I don’t know – STALE was the word I came up with. In addition, it really doesn’t have any bold or differentiating tastes about it that make it more interesting than other red ales on the market, aftertaste aside. I don’t think I’d put this in the Rogue’s gallery if you know what I mean. 5/10.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The Herd Mentality of the Anti-Herders

I’ve been involved in underground and sub-underground music since I was relatively young, and one of the hallmarks of said scene(s) is the phenomenon of the overwhelming backlash that comes from success, when a band that was your secret hits some moderate level of success, and all of a sudden loses whatever cachet they had in the first place – which likely had very little to do with their music. The more I engage in the world of beer dorks, the more this phenomenon appears to be a symptom of small-group, self-styled “connoisseur” behavior – because it happens with beer too. I have only skimmed some of the initial posts on Beer Advocate’s message board about the DOGFISH HEAD brewery, which has experienced some moderate success these past couple of years, but the response from their founder & head brewer Sam Calagione is excellent. You can read it here. And as I’ve mentioned before here, as long as Boston Beer, New Belgium and Anchor continue to make great beer – and they do – I could care less how popular they are with people who don’t collect & rate beer tastes the way others do stamps & coins.


I’ll admit, I already had a nasty review of the Boston Beer’s Company’s 1790 ROOT BEER BREW all ready to go in my cranium before I’d even popped the cap. Initial reviews elsewhere of this fourth of the 4-beer “Brewer/Patriot” box set were absolutely scathing, with certain outlets calling it vile, heinous, undrinkable, etc etc. Me, I was disappointed when I learned that it had alcohol in it, as I thought it would be a pretty neat marketing trick to combine 3 experimental old-style beers with an experimental old-style root beer. For the kids! Turns out that the Sam Adams folks believe that there really were alcohol-infused, vanilla, molasses-laden sweet beers back in 1790, and they set out to re-create the style. I give them style points for that – and you know what? I actually liked the beer as well. I posit that some folks are either so uncomfortable with the idea of a sweet beer, or the thought of bagging on the makers of “large micro” Sam Adams was just too tempting to pass up – but unless I’m just a wuss (and that’s a possibility), I thought this was not half bad. It had a true vanilla/nutmeg flavor “underneath”, if that makes any sense, but it was first and foremost a beer, one that could have come out of a tap and been quaffed with moderate pleasure in a pint glass. It was smooth and carbonated very well, and only its wild-ass experimentation keeps it from being in the very good/excellent category, but I think a 6.5/10 compares pretty well to most other beers out there.

Monday, October 02, 2006


Since March we’ve been sampling beers with a razor-sharp critical eye, assigning ratings & pinpoint evaluations and totally leeching all the joy out of beer drinking, in the name of creating the following list. That’s right, the HEDONIST BEER JIVE 12 – the twelve finest beers I’ve sampled since March 2006 and the dawn of this blog. You’ve seen Beer Advocate’s Top 100 Beers, you’ve seen Men’s Journal’s 25 Best Beers, but you don’t have time to track all those down and drink them in one sitting, right? But my 12 beers this Saturday night – no problem, right? Let me know how it goes.

1. ANDERSON VALLEY BREWINGBoont Amber Ale (American Amber/Red Ale)
2. BRASSERIE DE ROCHEFORTTrappistes Rochefort 8 (Belgian Strong Dark Ale)
3. MOYLAN’S Hopsickle (Double IPA)
4. HACKER PSCORRDunkel Weiss (Dunkel Weizen)
5. RUSSIAN RIVER BREWINGDamnation (Belgian-Style Strong Pale Ale)
6. MOYLAN’SIPA (India Pale Ale)
7. RUSSIAN RIVER BREWINGRejection (Belgian Black Ale)
8. DESCHUTESBlack Butte Porter (American Porter)
10. DRAKE’SDenogginizer (Double IPA)
11. DOGFISH HEAD90-Minute Imperial IPA (Double IPA)
12. STONE BREWINGArrogant Bastard Ale (American Strong Ale)