Thursday, August 31, 2006


I found myself in New York City again a couple weeks ago and in need of a beer. Now that I’ve discovered the Ginger Man pub near the hotel I stay at, I’ve made that my late-night-after-the-flight-gets-in stop, and I’ve been attempting to order stuff I know I can’t get on the West Coast. My selection this time was the MOJO IPA from Colorado’s BOULDER BEER, definitely something I can’t get in CA and something I’ve never heard of before. Their site says they were Colorado’s first microbrewery, and clocking into service in 1979, I guess I can believe it. Their Mojo IPA – I’ll bet they didn’t start the company with that one – was a very good, refreshing, and adequate selection after a 5-hour flight, and a 15-minute walk through 88-degree heat & humidity (I actually arrived in the pub drenched in sweat, looking like I’d just finished a triathlon, & you know that’s always a bit hit with the ladies). It had some classic IPA elements, like the biting hop character, but with a more dry finish than I’m used to with IPA’s. It also was a nice, deep orange in the glass & smelled of citrus and other good things. I enjoyed it thoroughly, but only in the sense that I was enjoying a well put-together beer and nothing outrageously great. Hedonist Beer Jive says 7.5/10, and that’s good enough to try again someday.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006


Last week I wrote about the nirvana that was achieved when I fed MOYLAN'S HOPSICKLE to some weary British houseguests. The party did not end there. We followed up the Hopsickle with something perhaps a little more reminiscient of Old Blighty, Sacramento's HOPPY BREWING COMPANY and their TOTAL ECLIPSE BLACK ALE. You may recall back in April when I shellacked and lambasted their STONY FACE RED ALE, but a few months later and a 22-oz. bomber of this stuff later, I remember why it my favorite brewery/restaurant in Sacramento when I made a tour of that city's offerings back in 1999/2000. This black ale wasn't off-the-charts fantastic or anything, but it was just terrific with Thai food (counterintuive, right?) and was light-bodied and smooth as glass. I really enjoyed how creamy it was and what felt like a hint of a burnt/bitter aftertaste. For the most part, though, it was clean and delicious all the way through. I gave it a 7/10, and my British guests thought it was near-amazing - and them Limeys know their black ales across the pond, hunh? The only way for a San Francisco resident like me to get their hands on one of these big boys is to drive nearly 2 hours east, or fork some cash over to a Sacramento-based co-worker to import it in (my gambit). I'm thinking I'm going to need to keep going in my exploration of this brewery's beers - they're now redeemed for the decidedly weak Stony Face Red Ale.

Monday, August 28, 2006


Last Thursday night I made my second visit to San Francisco's ROGUE PUBLIC HOUSE, an offshoot of Oregon's Rogue Brewery that I'd ignored for far too long until this year. Rogue are roundly hailed as one of the top and most experimental breweries in the United States, and it appears that they have the sales needed to support said experimentation. At least in certain parts of the west coast, Rogue is one the best-distributed craft beers going, and the brewery is underwriting several of these "public houses" along the coast as well. While the place is a little short on atmosphere, the beer selection is knockout.

I started big and bold after pestering the barkeep with questions about all the ones I hadn't heard of. He got me sold on something called Rogue's BREWER ALE, which he said was only on taps but which this picture to your left shows was a lying lie told by a liar. Beer Advocate calls it a Dopplebook; another site calls it an "American Strong Ale". I call it a mystery wrapped in an enigma. It was one of the oddest beers I've ever had - a dry, roasted taste but so strongly hopped & full of alcohol I couldn't tell if it was coming or going. It was experimental enough that I almost called it a "pour out" (the unkindest cut of all) halfway through, yet by time I finished the pint I was kind of won over. Strange brew, though, my friends. 5/10. I decided to "go light" next, and tried a Rogue I've never had before but seen many times - the JUNIPER PALE ALE. I loved this beer (8.5/10!). Sweet, berry-like taste and an exceptionally smooth finish. I could drink this every night - it was just bitter enough to be interesting and not a namby-pamby pale ale. This is the sort of classic, drinkable beer that Rogue's made their name with, though I'm glad they are keeping active & not standing pat.

Friday, August 25, 2006


Wow. This is quite likely the worst beer I've tasted since I started "rating" beers - waaaay back in March 2006. I remember reading something about the "Eisbock" style & being somewhat intrigued, and when I saw this on the shelf at my local beer emporium, I took the plunge. Here's what Beer Advocate says an eisbock is:

Eisbocks are created by freezing off a portion of the water, and removing it from the beer. This form of concentration, of sorts, increases the beer's body, flavor, and alcohol content. They can range from near black to as light as tawny red. Hop bitterness and flavor are mostly cast aside with a big alcohol presence replacing it, which can range from sweet to spicy, and fruity to often times fusel. Look for a heavy or almost syrupy body with tons of malty flavor.

I'm not sure whether to blame the Eisbock style or Private Weissbierbrauerei G. Schneider & Sohn GmbH , the makers of AVENTINUS WEIZEN EISBOCK, for this atrocity, but it really harshed on my mellow. I sniffed it after pouring & it was like inhaling a glass of Drambuie - a huge whiff of alcohol gave me the sense that I'd better hide the matches, because with the slightest spark this motherfucker was going to blow. It tasted accordingly. Big syrupy, malty taste, with alcohol totally dominating and smothering any other flavor. I simply couldn't finish it; it was like eating a fatty meal in Slovenia or Poland or something - I can imagine this served next to a jumbo bowl of Borscht, a gristle-laden chop of some kind and a pile of potatoes. Awful. 2.5/10 - our lowest rating ever!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


A couple of weeks ago, Friday 8/11 to be exact, some friends of ours from London were due to hit our country, our city and our house with their two small children for some good times in the US of A. Unfortunately, the day they picked to fly was the day a horrific plot to blow up UK-to-US jetliners was uncovered (perhaps you remember), and thus their flight was abruptly cancelled. They persevered and found a way onto a London-to-Los Angeles flight the following day, and after driving all night from LA, they arrived bedraggled and out of sorts at our place. They hadn’t been allowed to bring a single piece of carry-on for the 12-hour flight, not even a paperback tucked under the arm, so imagine two kids, one not even 3, trying to get through said flight. If you were their parents, wouldn’t you need your Yankee friends to bust out the really, really great beer once you got to the US? Well, that’s what I thought too.

There was a bomber of MOYLAN'S HOPSICKLE IMPERIAL IPA sitting in the beer chamber - otherwise known as the garage - and having had this incredible hopped-up Double (Triple?) IPA at the 2006 Boonville Beer Festival, I figured that would calm some jittery nerves. It was, just as I remembered, just about perfect. A gorgeous orange/amber pour, with a ridiculous amount of hops that is balanced with a delicious fruit/citrus aftertaste. For some people, it might be too intense, but these representatives of the Olde Country across the pond thought it was just right. I'm getting thirsty just typing this. Seriously, I knew this was going to be great but you can't just conjur a beer this fine up - I applaud the folks at MOYLAN'S for improving their regular IPA (9.5/10) and Moylander Double IPA (7.5/10) with this monster. 10/10! Thank you, may I please have another.

Monday, August 21, 2006


Throughout the summer of 2006 there have been barbeques, house parties and bars visits galore where the situation is just crying out for a wheat beer - or a "summer beer" of some kind -- to be consumed. OK, so I've only been to a few such events, but since I almost always appoint myself as the guy who'll bring (and therefore choose) the beer, I've been able to try a few things I thought I'd tell you about & see what you think. I'm not sure I'm really that crazy about beers that advertise themselves as "perfect for summer", since that usually implies a lighter taste and a dearth of the malty, chewy and deeper tastes I tend to crave, but hey, I did find a couple good ones. Let's check 'em out:

ANCHOR SUMMER BEER - One usually is getting quality with an Anchor product of any kind, and that's what I found here. Simple, unadorned, easy-drinking quality. This pale wheat ale was mildly lemon-ish in flavor (without an actual lemon) and I had no problem dipping into three of them over a BBQ during a 50-degree San Francisco summer night a couple weeks ago. 6.5/10.

ANDERSON VALLEY SUMMER SOLSTICE CERVEZA CREMA - Not too bad either, but not as good as Anchor's. More of a yeasty/orangey type of beer, not particularly "creamy" but it tasted fairly solid on draft a couple months ago. I just didn't get excited enough to write about it. 6/10.

DRAKE'S HEFE-WEIZEN - Rather than a summer beer per se, the good folks at Drake's (San Leandro, CA) are trying their hand at a true German hefeweizen. Unfortunately, even with a San Francisco Giants ballgame only steps away last Friday night, I couldn't muster much enthusiasm for this one. Chalky, light, and too boring to ever want to have it again. Refreshing, though - it did get my head straight for the Giants' 7-3 shellacking of the Dodgers a couple hours later. 5/10.

HARPOON SUMMER BEER - My pals Genese & Hank were kind enough to have me over to their New Brunswick, NJ home when I was visiting New York City on a work trip, and this East-Coast-only brew is what they were serving up. It's a Kolsch-style beer, and I think I can say I've never had that before - but it tasted crisp, bubbly and very smooth on the tongue, like everything you're looking for when you're guzzling straight from the bottle and not sitting down at a bar with your notepad. Wait, does anyone actually do that? Umm.... 7/10.

PYRAMID HEFEWEIZEN - This Seattle brewery has basically built their brand on the back of this beer, and it's been "old reliable" in my house for many years. Why the beer dorks over at Beer Advocate think so poorly of it, I don't know. This has tons more flavor that most American wheats and like McDonald's, you always know what you're getting, no matter where you buy it nor what year it is. 6.5/10.

WIDMER HEFEWEIZEN -- Another one that the "experts" are panning -- take a look at these comments -- and yet another one that I'm perfectly content with & have been for years. Would I prefer a more complex German hefe? Of course I would. But Widmer's formulation is more of a pale wheat ale than a deep hefe, but it's got a robust hop scent & taste, and a lemony taste as well that's perfect poured all over your BBQ chicken, down your throat, and over your head. What is wrong with you people? 7/10.

The winner of the great summer wheat-off is none of these beers but instead is the Blue Moon Belgian White, which is what I'll be buying if we can squeeze off a few more good weeks of barbeque weather (and if someone invites us over).

Thursday, August 17, 2006


I always feel like I have to apologize for putting “Holiday ales” up on a pedestal. It truly is the most wonderful time of the year when these start hitting the taps and the stores, because it’s a time of experimentation, new recipes, spices, hops, formulations from aeons ago and wacky new concoctions (like the time Anchor Brewing added spruce to their Xmas ale, which truly tasted like tree sap and is one of the worst things I've ever ingested). Anyway, there’s something about the spice/nutmeg-ish holiday beers that I just love – not because I love this time of year (like everyone else, I move between total indifference and low-level hatred), but because I love great beer. Especially when I can buy ‘em in August. That’s what happened the other day when I found MOYLAN’S WHITE CHRISTMAS DOUBLE WHEAT on tap. They’re here!! And I expect nothing less than near-perfection from Moylan’s, and I have to say, they delivered pretty well. This one was an amberish gold with very little foam/head to speak of, and quite honestly, little of that spicy, eggnog-y Xmas beer taste to it – it was truly more akin to what it was advertised as being, a “Double Wheat”. Not that I know what that mans, and not that a holiday aroma wasn’t there, it just wasn’t present the way it is in, say, Deschutes’ Jubelale or Pyramid’s Snow Cap. And similar to the way Anchor does it, Moylan’s brings out a new formulation of this out every year, so one year it might be a bock, the next year a double wheat, a black ale the next year, and then something else after that. If you look at what folks over on Beer Advocate had to say about 2005’s version, you’d never believe it was truly from the do-no-wrong Moylan’s organization (they hated it!), but maybe someone threw a spanner in the works last year (or a rat in the vat). This time it’s a really high-quality, delicious brew that I will absolutely look for in bottles in coming months, and I rated it a bigtime 8.5/10. Is anyone else pouring or selling any Holiday Beers at this early date yet?

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


The regard with which the RUSSIAN RIVER BREWING COMPANY is held here in Northern California and among the few beer snobs I know & hobnob with is something to behold. I am extremely new to their majesty, and until recently - say, last Thursday night, I was even thinking them to be a bit overrated. But I've had a few more Pliny The Elders in 2006 since my first one early in the year, and if I had to re-rate that one I'd probably give it a 8.5/10 instead of the mere 7 I first bestowed upon it the first time. Other beers of theirs have impressed me greatly - no need to go into it here, you can search my vast "archives" instead (god be with you!).

So there I was at Barclay's in Oakland, ordering something I'd never heard of before called PARKING VIOLATION PALE ALE. Until this very evening and a little Internet research, I had no idea it was even a Russian River product, but there it is. It was fantastic, maybe not quite in the rarified league of the Damnation we reviewed Monday, or their Rejection Black Ale that's out of this world, but for a runty little Pale Ale it was darn tootin'. Full of zesty hops, way more than your typically English pale ale for instance, and if you told me this was an "India" pale ale I'd have no room to argue. I guess if I had to put my finger on what went into it I'd say grapefruit, but I doubt that's really in there. It didn't have that sourness, though - just hoppiness. And I heart that, don't you? I gave it an 8/10 and have now decided to finally buy into all the hype around Russian River. They're practically as good as Moylan's, and a mere 30 minutes' drive from each other to boot.

Monday, August 14, 2006


I probably could have had my virgin drink of this amazing concoction at any one of the Bay Area's semi-numerous beer bars, the Toronado, say, but lately I've made a couple of forays into darkest Oakland to frequent a place called BARCLAY'S that really has it going on. Barclay's caters to the beer enthusiast, you might reckon, and the proof is in this numbering system they have for everything they've ever had on tap, which encourages the regulars to "collect" drinks the way they might Cards 1-743 in the 1979 Donruss Major League Baseball collection. So naturally, it's my kinda place. The weather in Oakland is also typically 15 degrees higher than 20 minutes away in my hometown of San Francisco, so easy sippin' on the patio is a given most nights in Oaktown.

Anyway, some pals & me got together for a few rounds last week and I finally decided to pull the trigger on DAMNATION from the oft-touted RUSSIAN RIVER BREWING company of Santa Rosa, CA. Man, was that the right call. This Belgian-Style Strong Pale Ale is the best new thing I've had in months, and since I almost always drink something new, every time (keep in mind Barclay's numbering system and the bent psyche such a system appeals to), that's saying something. Wow. Not too bitter nor too glass-smooth, Damnation is just a delicious combination of intensely flavorful hops and lemon & apple tastes, and I was an instant convert from sip #1. Contrast this to other American-made, Belgian-style beers and this goes right to the top of the charts. I interrupted conversation on several occasions to tell the gathered crew how great it was, only to get a bunch of condescending "welcome to the club, dickwad" looks. Well, OK. Here I am. If you haven't tried Damnation yet, you're in for a real good 'un! 9.5/10!

Saturday, August 12, 2006


This is #2 of my tastes through the 4-beer "box set" I purchased a little over a week ago from the BOSTON BEER CO. (SAMUEL ADAMS to you)- I'm talking of course of the heralded "Brewer/Patriot Collection" that we first discussed in this forum last Tuesday. This time I turned my drinking attention to their GEORGE WASHINGTON PORTER, and unlike my experience with the JAMES MADISON DARK WHEAT, which was pretty goddamn good, this one's pretty much not. I found this installment pretty boring, with some "notes" of molasses and (so they say) licorice, but overall a fairly watery broth rather than the sort of meaty gut-punch one usually looks for in a porter. You know when you're drinking a really great porter - Deschutes' Black Butte Porter, say -- and you find that you're still sipping & savoring it long after everyone else has moved on to their next beer? This one was over & done with before I'd even finished half the sausage dinner it was paired with - I was drinking it like (and in place of) water, and that's probably not a good sign. Sure, I figured that this 4-pack, which is designed to harken back to 18th Century brewing styles, was going to have a couple of mediocre ones in it, and that's cool. The whole concept around this is intriguing enough, and as long as the majority of the beers within it are passable (& despite my articulated complaints, this one is), I'm wholly in favor. But if they ever branched this one off into its own brand, I'd recommend proceeding with extreme prejudice. Let's call it a 5/10 and leave it at that.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006


This is the last of the items I picked up in my very first run to the CITY BEER STORE, simply because it was a palty $1.69 and it looked like something that'd be hard to find elsewhere. And they are from Maine - Maine! Yoo hoo!Anyone out there been to Maine before? I hear it's another world, an entire "nautical themed" state complete with crusty old sailors, salty fishermen and people freezing their collective ass off on the frozen tundra. Well, right there in Maine is the SHIPYARD BREWING COMPANY (see what I mean about the Nautical theme??), and they make a halfway decent Golden/Blonde Ale called SHIPYARD EXPORT that I might try on tap if I ever make it to "the Barnicle State". It's quite carbonated and pours with virtually no head whatsoever, but it is a lovely orange color that I admired for at least 10 seconds before digging in. In fact, while drinking it slowly, I entertained notions that it might be an actual Belgian-Style Ale, but it was far too simple and maybe a little too watery-tasting for that. Still, liked it better than some folks. I gave it a 6/10 - not something I'll buy again soon (there's sooooo many left to try!) but something I'd grab out of someone's fridge when they weren't looking.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006


There's some quality marketing behind this new "Brewer Patriot" 4-pack collection from the BOSTON BEER CO. (also known to many as "SAM ADAMS"). If this catches on, I see a Harvard Business School case study emerging on the wisdom of pairing quality beer with olde-tyme graphics and nostalgia for an era that I’m not even convinced existed (one in which the founding fathers were throwing down incredible, complex microbrews as they created the nation), and throwing in a ROOT BEER for added measure. That’s right, for 9 bucks I got three interesting-sounding beers and a rooty toot toot beer – how about that? I think I’ll give the root beer to my wife, but I started delving into the remaining three just minutes post-purchase.

I was very intrigued by the JAMES MADISON DARK WHEAT; after all, President Madison was famous for – famous for – um – why, being a brewer and a patriot, of course. His beer was pretty damn good, too. I'm one of those folks who's always happy when there's Samuel Adams on tap at, say, the airport bar, and it does not surprise me that they make quality limited-batch beers as well as their micro-turned-macro. This particular one has a great roasted taste that reminded me a bit of the Hacker Pschorr Dunkle Weiss I had a month ago, definitely a little spicier than that but certainly what you'd expect in a "dark wheat". I found my scorecard and marked a 7.5/10 full stop, and I'd be proud to have this one again. In the meantime, I've got a Ginger Honey Ale and a porter or something sitting in the fridge from this pack - so I'd better drink 'em and let you known how it went, hunh?

Thursday, August 03, 2006


We were so intrigued with the idea of San Francisco's amazing palace of craft beer the CITY BEER STORE & impressed with Craig Wathen, the founder/owner/manager of said store, that we asked Craig a few questions via email about the store, the craft beer "scene" and so on. Craig (pictured on the right here), busy running the store pretty much on his own & dealing with an ever-burgeoning customer base of rabid beer hounds, was kind enough to sit down and compose some answers. Here's what he had to say:

Hedonist Beer Jive: Tell us a little bit about how the City Beer Store came about.

Craig Wathen: Beer, specifically drinking beer, has been a passion on mine for quite some time. As my pallet matured and my interest grew I spent more time seeking out quality beer experiences. I became frustrated by the lack of original selection and diversity of Bay Area package stores. I tasted many amazing beer in bars such as Toronado but could not find the product on anyone’s shelves. I had many questions but could not find anybody to guide me. Eventually I started to see this disappointment as an opportunity. It took about year of research to convince myself that this could work, and another year of finding the right time and place to open. I still feel that the City Beer Store is still a work in progress.

Hedonist Beer Jive: Obviously you’ve put together a business plan and invested some serious money in this venture – what makes you confident the store will succeed?

Craig Wathen: I have to admit about a week before I opened I was nervous....would anybody else be as into the concept as I was?!? The following weeks have helped to soothe my nerves. Reaction of those visiting the store has been extremely positive. Education and trial seemed to have struck a cord. My confidence comes from fact that people get it. I don’t have to spend time explaining why beer deserves its own store.

Hedonist Beer Jive: Is there anything particularly noteworthy about the San Francisco Bay Area that makes this store more viable than it might be elsewhere?

Craig Wathen: The Bay Area has shown a continued interest in high quality, small producer, creative cuisine...Better Beer is part of that. We in the Bay Area have as much of a claim to that tradition as any other area in the country. City Beer must highlight the artistry and history of Northern California brewing. We are a place to ask questions, try new styles of product and share experiences.

Additionally, San Francisco is a city that draws many tourist. We hope those who pass through San Francisco for business and pleasure will find us a window into the Northwest brewing scene.

Hedonist Beer Jive: What sorts of promotions or unique offerings are you seeking to provide that’s going to make City Beer a destination?

Craig Wathen: Some sort of promotion will always take place on Thursday evenings. They will range from simple/fun to highly informative. Past Thursday nights have included tasting the three styles of Chimay side by side (by side) to pairing cheeses with Hofbrau’s Mailbock. Larger events such as Brewer’s nights will also take place. Current information on these weekly events are distributed via our mailing list, but we hope to have a website up and going by August.

Hedonist Beer Jive: What were some of the liquor-law hurdles you had to overcome to get the store open?

Craig Wathen: When I first approached the ABC about creating a space that could serve both as a bottle shop and tasting bar, they said that it would be impossible. I could only be either a retail outlet or a bar but not both. When I brought up the example of the wine bar, the light went on. The ABC and I worked together to establish guidelines that would satisfy both parties. I agreed to pour only 6oz tastings. They agreed that I could sell packaged goods out the door as well as allow patrons to taste on-premise. We have found that the 6oz limitation is actually working in our favor. Customers can try more types of beers at a lower price while also keeping the alcohol in check. As far as I know we are the first establishment in California to receive this designation from the state of California.

Hedonist Beer Jive: Where do you see craft beer headed in this country? Are there encouraging signs you can point to?

Craig Wathen: Today we find the craft beer segment heathy and growing. Many brands survived the past decade strong and are still independent. Traditional six-pack brewers are now branching out and getting more creative. Anderson Valley has found success with their Brother David’s products. He’Brew and Butte Creek recently produced some truly unique batch beers.
New brewers are also taking more chances. Russian River is a great example of this. Truly artistic, spontaneous and accomplished.

Hedonist Beer Jive: What’s the most extreme or far-traveling move you’ve personally made to taste one particular beer you’ve heard or read about?

Craig Wathen: I once went on a date to Portland to drink beer. My girlfriend (then living in Atlanta) and I flew up to Portland for a long weekend explicitly to experience the beer culture. She passed the test....we got married last month.

Hedonist Beer Jive: Please list your 5 favorite beers – and let us know if you carry them as well, or if you don’t, why not.

Craig Wathen: #1 is clear: Budwar- This is the beer that made me fall in love with beer. I found it in the town of its origin Cesky Budiviche and have not looked back since. Perhaps it only exists in my mind’s eye, but I remember this product as brewing perfection. I can not bring myself to carry the American import "Chechwar" because it is not the same beer that I remember. Would you hang a Picasso in the bathroom? Why place this masterpiece in a green bottle?

2005 Old Stock- This is a beer that has benefited from aging. I appreciate way that the initial sweetness has given away to a drawn out scotch character. Buddha would use this beer as an exercise in patience. Like other vintage beers such as Vertical Ale and Gouldon Carlos Grand Cru I will store and release beers at regular intervals. Not currently available in my store, my remaining '05 Old Stock has been stored in a secret place and will come out until 2007.

Kostriker- When living in Eastern Europe, I recall two choices when entering a pub: dark or light? I routinely went dark. What I found was a flavorful session beer. Dark lagers are lost to American drinkers. Perhaps being stuck behind the Iron Curtain for so long has caused Kostriker to stick to tradition. Even the unique hint of smoke on the finish brings me back to the smell of coal burning furnaces burning on a cold Praha night. We do carry Kostriker in 120z bottles.

Chouffe IPA Tripel- Besides being a damn good beer, this product represents what I hope will be a sign of what is to come....Old World brewers trying New World styles. Too often in the culinary world, Old World producers stick only with their traditional works. My hope is the brewing world doesn’t entirely follow this tract. While it is important to preserve historic styles, experimentation will benefit us all. I do carry Chouffe IPA Tripel and will always support original brewing.

Gouldon Carlous - The Belgium Tripel style fascinates me. A highly transparent style, flaws can not be hidden away with high hops or extreme sweetness. What Het Anker does that puts it above the others is adds whispers of raisin and spice. How can all this flavor hide in such a slight beer without overpowering it? Unfortunately, I have seen this recommendation wasted on those who drink their beer too cold. The complexity of this beer can only be fully appreciated by taking the beer out of the refrigerator and periodically tasting it over 45 minutes to an hour. As the temperature drops the beer opens. Flavors will build and overlap on the pallet. Every experience with this beer is unique. We carry this product in 12oz bottles, as well as the Gouldon Carlous Grand Cru in 750ml bottles.

Honorable Mention:

Pete’s Wicked Ale - Surprised?!? Although bought out and mainstreamed by Gambrinus, Pete’s will always be the brand that gave me the start in the craft beer industry. My first job after college, and my introduction to the beer industry, Pete’s will always have a place in my heart and on my shelf. Never forget your past.

Thanks to Craig for taking the time, and listen - this store is truly something else. If you're in San Francisco, check it out at 1168 Folsom Street, between 7th and 8th. (415) 503-1033.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006


I'm going to be honest with you - Hunter S. Thompson's writing's got to be the most overrated pile of pablum this side of William Burroughs, and this sad, wastoid of a man coasted on his lunatic reputation for maybe 40 years after the one interesting thing he ever put together, "Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail". So when he expired last year or whenever it was, and the usual suspects hauled out all their grandeloquent tributes, it was all I could do to keep from crying out loud about our poor, poor gullible and constantly-fooled civilization. Folks whose peak years of brainpower were high school and college, and who retained the same level of literary inquisitiveness in the years thereafter. Ugh. But who am I to judge, right? We're all the same in the Lord's eyes, am I right?

Now I find out this brewery in Denver called FLYING DOG BREWING has decided to whip up a porter in honor of "the great man". Well I saw it on the shelf and it couldn't help but catch my eye, and I said what the hey, let bygones be bygones and let's give this bad boy a try. GONZO IMPERIAL PORTER started promising - an incredible, "Old Faithful"-sized head of beautiful foam when I poured it into my glass, so much so that I had to tilt the glass just so to get some beer to dribble out. Kinda cool, you know? But the euphoria wore off quickly. This beer unfortunately had 9.5% alcohol mixed with 89.5% weird-ass bitterness, a real funky combination of chocolate (year-old Hershey's kisses, not NEUHAUS), toffee (Tofifay, not that British stuff), amonia and Liquid Plummer. Every now and again I'd take a gulp, adjust my neck a few degrees, swirl it around, and think "hmm - maybe this is OK". Then I'd take another drink, and all bets were off. At the end of the day this porter was truly as meglomaniacally deranged as its inspiration, and I had to award it a mere 5/10 just to get it off my back. E for Effort I guess, but that's about it.