Friday, September 28, 2007


I love bestowing awards, like I’m some sorta expert or something. And calling someone brewer of the year in late September – why, there’s an entire quarter left of beer exploration! Yet let me tell you why Santa Barbara, CA’s TELEGRAPH BREWING are easily the ones to beat this year, and why they should get ready to come collect the hardware at our headquarters on January 1st. I thought that perhaps the CALIFORNIA ALE of theirs that I told you about last month was a fluke; a wonderful, moderately experimental brew that probably just happened to be their best, the jewel in the crown as they say. I now know this to not be true. They have at least TWO jewels, and believe you me, I’m going to find out if there are any more, by hook or crook.

What’s got me all worked up? TELEGRAPH BREWING’s GOLDEN WHEAT ALE, that’s what. The best – certainly the most interesting – wheat beer I’ve had all year. A lightly tart, very cloudy/unfiltered wheat ale, one that certainly ups the lemon zest and clove-like tastes to take this into the realm of the greats. It is moderately bready, but the overwhelming mouthfeel is this total “zing” – fresh, alive and robust, like a fizzing tart dissolving on your tongue. Haven’t heard of Telegraph Brewing? Well, join the soon-to-be dwindling club. They are a small brewer in Santa Barbara, one that’s not even been live for two years yet. They’re only open for a few hours on a couple of days, and the only way you’re going to find their wares is to travel down there (consult this list for a good rundown of who sells it and who is serving it). Those two 22-oz. bottles I went out of my way to find in Santa Barbara last month were among the best investments I’ve made since those 20,000 shares of Berkshire Hathaway stock. And now they’re gone. And now I must have more. Telegraph Brewing’s GOLDEN WHEAT ALE8.5/10!

Thursday, September 27, 2007


Continuing my intrepid exploration of the beers of Quebec’s UNIBROUE, I had my first bottle of the heralded MAUDITE two evenings ago, and I reveled in every second of it. This fantastic beer is just an incredible combination of warm, tangy yeasts and intense spices, almost like you’d find in a winter beer. Somehow this pumpkin-colored, Belgian-style dark ale manages to go down quite smoothly, while dazzling with some earthy, peppery flavors that balance out the 8% alcohol sweetness and those winter spices I was telling; you about. It’s the best Unibroue beer I’ve had since the revelation that was LA FIN DU MONDE. I’ll admit that when I first started considering buying these, I was actually off-put by the beautiful labels, rather than attracted. I have this ingrained suspicion of form-over-substance, and reckoned that what they were spending on artwork was probably being proportionally taken from the beer. Well, I learned myself but good when I started reading about how wonderful the Unibroue beers were, and then started buying them myself. I’m pretty sure they’re available pretty much everywhere good beer is sold, not just in the US but Europe as well. Maudite is tremendous; we’re giving it a big 9/10.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


I’ll hand it to San Leandro, CA’s DRAKE’S BREWING – they don’t stand in one place for very long. Every quarter bold, experimental new beers from them start hitting the pubs & bars (and sometimes shelves) of the San Francisco Bay Area, and at the very least, they’re always interesting. Last quarter they came out with the single hoppiest beer I’ve ever tasted, HOP SALAD (and it was great); last year there was another hardcore amped-up IPA out there called the DENOGGINIZER that was excellent as well. Other Drake’s products have been middling at best: the HEFEWEIZEN, the BLONDE ALE, and the JOLLY ROGER. We’re trying ‘em all, because that’s what we do here.

You wouldn’t even know about DRAKE’S and the envelopes they are pushing if not for beer blogs and the occasional review that makes it to Beer Advocate. They have a website that, far from touting all these crrrrrazy creations, has not been updated since April 2004, which is totally mystifying to me. In this day & age, particularly in the experimental craft brew niche they’re playing in, the web is the main lever dorks like me pull to find out about new beer, with word of mouth, blind sampling, beer festivals and beer magazines probably being the others. Let me therefore tell you about two they’ve come up with in later 2007, a big 42 months since their last site update. I tried them both on tap at Barclay’s in Oakland, CA last week. First up was #1500 IMPERIAL PALE ALE. I believe it’s the first time I’ve heard the term “Imperial” applied to a pale ale, which many folks would therefore turn around & call an IPA or a double IPA. Let’s call it a souped-up, hoppy pale ale, shall we? I took some notes: “Strong. Bitter. Like an IPA. A little off”. (that’s what it says). I recall that it didn’t have the citrus/floral taste of a typical west coast IPA, but it certainly had the hops, and it just didn’t have that certain I-don’t-know-what that I was looking for – but it was still pretty good. 6.5/10.

Next was this quarter’s DENOGGINIZER or HOP SALAD – another xtreme IPA from Darke’s. This formulation is called RODGER’S LAST STAND, and Barclay’s would only serve it in half pints, such were its high-alcohol dangers and seductive charms. Barclay’s called it a Triple IPA. Well. My friend Chris called it right off the bat and said, “this is kinda like a port wine”, and I agree. It had some real wine-like characteristics, unlike its other IPA cousins. Much more thin-bodied than a typical beer, very still and clear and almost totally lacking carbonation. I wrote “hoppy but ephemeral”, and I guess what I meant when I wrote that (though you never can tell), is that it may have been totally agro with the hops, but they didn’t linger on the aftertaste the way that Hop Salad did. I think I sort of liked it, but again, not like those others. 6.5/10.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


I was dorking around in the “downloads” section of Sprint’s WAP portal – oh, for people outside of the wireless industry, which is a place I haven’t been in 13 years, that’s what you see when you’re paying for a data plan and click the “web” link on your phone – and I came across something that called to me like a fair-haired, porcelain-skinned siren on the rocks on Anthemusa: BEERNUTZ. BEERNUTZ is a downloadable application devoted to craft beer, and it runs on a subscription basis for $1.99/month. That’s quite a bit lower than most “apps” you can buy through your phone – about the price of a ringtone every month. On first blush, it’s a pretty good place to waste some time on a bus, on a break, or when you’re supposed to watching your kid at the playground. There are sections devoted to reviews (a strong lean toward both Belgians and Colorado-based beers, leading me to believe this may in fact emanate from Colorado), beer style guides, beer news, instructions of pairing beer with food, beer news, an events calendar, and quite a bit more. It’s written by a fella or fellas who take the tasting of beer pretty seriously; i.e. lots of description & evaluation of the beer from all angles, including the dreaded “lacing on the glass” angle. Example beers that they review & rate include those from GREAT DIVIDE, UNIBROUE, AVERY, LEFT HAND, OMMEGANG and more. For the most part you get a pretty good sense of their tastes, and their tastes are quite good.

Some things to improve on: frequency of updates; I just checked BEERNUTZ on September 24th, and their “Events” section lists stuff coming up on September 8th. That’s the death knell of any wireless application that requires the user to proactively come back on their own initiative – the content had better be fresh or forget about it. Hey guys, you want to syndicate Hedonist Beer Jive, I’m all for it. Also, “weird beer news” is about as lame as it gets. For some reason “beer” = “funny” for so many writers out there, so you get a disproportionate amount of blog postings about some European who took a bath in beer, a beer some knucklehead made for dogs, etc. We don’t need it in our lives, and we most certainly don’t need it on the friggin’ phone. I think a buck ninety-nine for BEERNUTZ is a fine deal for Sprint customers, and with a little more in the way of updates, it’ll be a mighty fine time waster for me in the months to come.

Monday, September 24, 2007


Very happy to get some of this GREEN FLASH NUT BROWN ALE down the ‘ol gullet the other night. It was served on tap at Barclay’s in Oakland, CA, and it serves as a nice counterweight to the unappealing EXTRA PALE ALE I tried a couple of weeks ago. This one is really delicious, and is everything a 2007 west coast American version of an English brown ale should be. Picture a brown ale that is totally alive and prickly with carbonation – and you like it. Picture a brown ale that is far more bitter than you’re used to – and you like that too. Picture caramel tastes, and some hoppiness not out of place in an “imperial red”, and yes, you like that too. Now picture a brown ale being quaffed and enjoyed with relish, and then rated 8/10 by your seventh-favorite beer blog. You like that.

Friday, September 21, 2007


If you’re lucky or unlucky enough to have to travel as part of your job, you’re undoubtedly had to negotiate the minefield of whether or not to hang out with your co-workers after the work day is complete. You’re both stuck in a strange, unfamiliar city, you both need to eat dinner (and maybe drink), and yet you barely know each other and despite just having spent the entire day together working. Sometimes one of you (say, ME) is male and married, and the other of you is female and unmarried, or vice-versa. Sometime you totally dig hanging out with each other (and it’s a no-brainer to hang out), sometimes you can’t stand each other, and most times you’re just indifferent. I once traveled all the time with a guy, a real over-talkative, super-Christian, nerdy dude, and I had to concoct all sorts of ouch-my-stomach-hurts-and-I’m-so-tired excuses to get out of dinner together, and I would then take a cab to the opposite end of town so I could have dinner without being spotted and thereby violating the traveling-together code of ethics. You gotta do what you gotta do, right? Most of the time I’m just fine with my companions, and I’ll do what I can to corral them to a local brewery if they show even the slightest interest.

Anyway, I’m new at my current job, and my two very cool female Kansas City co-travelers & I negotiated the aforementioned minefield by having a simple after-work drink last week in the midst of the hustle and bustle of Overland Park, Kansas. One, who actually is a local in those parts, picked a watering hole called PJ McGillicuddy’s or something like that, and not wanting to show my beer-dork cards too early, I happily went along. 10 beers later, I…, not really. I was able to scare up a beer I’d never had from BOULEVARD BREWING, who are the undisputed heavyweights of the Kansas City brewing scene. Their beer is everywhere, kinda like Anchor Stream is everywhere in San Francisco. My pick was their PALE ALE, and it was a very malty, refreshing after-work beverage. This beer is what “pale ale” used to be in the 1990s – a fairly undistinguished, lighter, and far-less-hopped beer than the hoppy, intense pale ales you especially get on the West Coast. Pale Ales to me used to be “starter ales”, now they are right up there with IPAs and Belgian-Style ales as part of the main show. This one was good: 6.5/10.

So there I was at 6:30pm with a night in the Kansas City area all to myself. Co-workers had to go back to their hotels & homes to “work” or something. I decided, “what the hell, let’s go see the last-place KANSAS CITY ROYALS in their own yard!”, and drove out to the ballpark. There, awaiting my arrival, were two more examples of BOULEVARD BREWING’s prowess. First up was their UNFILTERED WHEAT. I had this beer with a spicy ballpark chicken sandwich, and unfortunately, like the food, it too was a bit on the spicy, won’t-go-down-easy side. I found this beer had a real aggro bite, and yeah, it was a totally unfiltered, cloudy whirlwind of wheat, but I didn’t find it to be all that refreshing or conducive to the occasion. I’m going with 5.5/10, and maybe next time I’ll try it in different environs. Good thing the night was saved by the outstanding BOULEVARD LUNAR ALE. Yeah-hup for this one!! Loved it. A reddish-brown ale, really almost like an “Imperial Amber” to my taste, one that reminded me of a more bitter BOONT AMBER (though it’s only 13 IBUs). Beer Advocate calls it an “American Dark Wheat Ale”, and readers have it rated down at the low end of the spectrum. Say what? In any event, this was an aggressive, malt-forward, delicious amber ale, and I looked for it in vain the next day to take home with me. If you’re in the “Show-Me” state anytime soon, ask ‘em to show you some of this. 8.5/10.

Thursday, September 20, 2007


I was pretty dazzled by a DE REGENBOOG beer earlier in the year – the ‘T SMISJE DUBBEL – so I paid my first (!) visit to San Francisco’s HEALTHY SPIRITS, a fantastic corner store in the Castro/Duboce triangle district with an entire wall full of rare Belgian beer in coolers. I found a DE REGENBOOG ‘T SMISJE KERST, which HBJ correspondent “Scott” tagged as the one to get from this fine Belgian brewer. Good call, Scott. They’ve got it advertised as a winter ale, albeit one that appears to be available year-round (I drank mine this past week, in mid-September). To me, it’s very barleywine-like, with alcohol topping out at a scale-tipping 11%. Good thing it’s a runt-sized bottle. The great thing about this beer is how little you notice the high ABV; there’s a real malty heaviness and a sweetness like you wouldn’t believe, which is maybe the only hint you get that it’s heavily dosed. I was getting some real pleasing tastes of figs, raisins and plums. It’s not a thick beer by any means – malty, sure, but “bodied” just about where you’d like it to be. I pronounce it a 7/10. Hey, is it holiday beer season yet? Anywhere?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


As fate would have it, my job took me to Kansas City, Missouri last week, and I frantically did the thing that all right-thinking beer drinkers do when confronted with an unfamiliar city: I looked up the town breweries & pubs, then Mapquested directions from the airport. The one that Beer Advocate’s “Beerfly” resource seemed to indicate would be my best bet was called the 75TH STREET BREWERY. Upon landing, armed with my sheet of directions, that’s just where I headed, only to get ensnared in a Mapquestian nightmare of wrong turns, one-way streets, and no-handed driving with the overhead rental car light on. Chastened and frustrated (and very hungry & thirsty), I pulled into a neighborhood I’d been in once before called Westport, and lo & behold, right in front of me was McCOY’S PUBLIC HOUSE, a name I recognized from my half-hearted research. When I realized they brewed their own beer, well, “dinner was served”, as they say.

After asking for a table for one, I was seated next to a table – I kid you not – packed with six burly, beefy, corn-fed Midwestern cops in full uniform, right out of central casting. No one else was seated in my section – just me & the cops. Would you fault me for therefore ordering the lowest-ABV beer on the menu before getting my bearings? Good thing I did, as McCOY’S THOMPSON’S DRY STOUT was a really refreshing, smoky-tasting stout that I found to be quite a bit above my expectations. A little thin, perhaps, but this was counterbalanced with some delicious roasted malts that, like I said, has a crisp “smoked” taste that worked well. Good on ya, McCOY’S! 7/10.

So those cops didn’t skedaddle anywhere, but they also weren’t actively checking my alcohol intake either, and were busy talkin’ about the Monday Night Football game then being projected on the big screens. Knowing that I’d get totally lost on my way to Overland Park, Kansas (my ultimate destination), I kept my tastings to a mere 10-oz. glass, and proceeded to order the NEWCOMB’S IPA. I declare with not a small amount of perverse pride that this is quite simply the single worst IPA I’ve ever tasted, and a beer that now sets a record for lowest-rated beer in the history of Hedonist Beer Jive. The “pride” I felt was probably more akin to relief, as it proved to me that not every beer I drink falls into the milquetoast “good to great” 6-to-9 range, and that there are still poorly-executed craft beers out there. They’re not all great – how about that? My taste buds still work! NEWCOMB’S IPA was bitter beyond belief, with no balance whatsoever. Like a stuffed mouthful of dry, hurtful hops, worse than any homebrew I’ve had. Ever. 2.5/10, and I couldn’t finish it. Should have had a “RED LIGHT RASBERRY” instead – seriously.

So as long as you stay away from that thing, McCOY’S is pretty all right. Service could have been better, but they were playing parts of “Exile On Main Street” while I dined on a very satisfying turkey burger & fries. A little THOMPSON’S DRY STOUT to go with that & you’re all set. When in Kansas City and totally, hopelessly lost, look ‘em up!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


This beer obsession has taken me hither and yon across the universe of fine ales over the past 17+ years, but traversing the land of the lager has been difficult. Several reasons for this – 1.) Lagers usually aren’t made nor served by most microbreweries, save for a token pilsner, and 2.) I generally don’t like ‘em. Naturally, I’m not alone here – lagers are the lost stepchild of the craft beer movement, despite their ubiquity in terms of US sales, though it’s somewhat embarrassing for me to focus so heavily on ales when lagers have served mankind so well for so long. There are even lagers that I love – HACKER-PSCHOR DUNKEL WEISS and MOONLIGHT REALITY CZECK made the vaunted “Hedonist Beer Jive 25” – and I’d like to get involved with a few more good ones. (Correction - noted by Loren in the comments below - Hacker-Pschor Dunkel Weiss is an ale, not a lager. Damn it, Loren!) To that end, we tried our old friends from MOONLIGHT BREWING’s LUNATIC LAGER the other night. The brewery calls it a European Export-style lager, and continues with “A crisp Germanic-style light lager beer, lively hop and yeast flavors yet subtle”. I call it clean, crisp and altogether boring as hell. But then that’s me. I’m not into a clean-n-crisp-n-boring light lager. I wish I could pretend otherwise. Like its Bay Area-based cousin TRUMER PILS, this LUNATIC LAGER is most likely a fine representative of its style, and certainly would go over easy at the sports bar over the course of a good hockey game. I’d tap it over the usual suspects in a second. That said – 5.5/10. It’s not you, Moonlight – it’s me.

Monday, September 17, 2007


Do you keep a list of “must-try” beers? Do you wish you did? Well, I do, because I’m a obsessive-compulsive doofus. If you want to join me in said endeavor, I suggest you get ALLGASH WHITE on your list. It was sitting on mine, and the other night it popped up on the we-have-it-on-tap list at Berkeley, CA’s JUPITER, the same night we tried that GREEN FLASH EXTRA PALE ALE we didn’t cotton to so much. But that was in the future; ALLAGASH WHITE (from Portland, Maine’s ALLAGASH BREWING) was the first beer of the evening, and man was it a good one – just like all the blogs & such had said it would be. I liked it better than the UNIBROUE BLANCHE DE CHAMBLY and the RUSSIAN RIVER LITTLE WHITE LIE we talked about a couple of weeks ago, and scanning through the ratings this 8.5/10 champion is the best wit/white beer I’ve had from my continent. Hooray!

This beer not only has really a noticeable taste of orange, it pours a completely opaque & stunning orange color as well. It does not, to my taste, have that bitter, peppery flavoring/mouthfeel that many witbiers do, in fact it’s quite a bit lighter and more “fluffy” in that sense. I don’t remember there being much of a head on it, and it’s not very yeast-heavy to the tongue. It’s not a strain to drink it fairly quickly, in other words, but hanging back and really enjoying it is definitely the recommended way to go, as it’s well-constructed like few beers are, and definitely a big cut above the norm. Loved it. Again, 8.5/10, and available in big bottles at your local specialty beermeister.

Friday, September 14, 2007


I copied & pasted this pic from the Brookston Beer Bulletin, as I didn't take any of my own - thanks!

Perhaps you’ve heard the tale of how AVERY BREWING of Colorado and RUSSIAN RIVER BREWING of California both made a beer called SALVATION, and in mock indignation decided to “collaborate” rather than “litigate” this budding controversy, thereby producing an excellent beer called COLLABORATION, NOT LITIGATION. It’s essentially a mash-up of the two SALVATIONS, and not only is it excellent, it’s still available & I believe even being made again this year. Then I get the good word just a few weeks ago that AVERY have secured distribution of their outstanding beers in Northern California, and lo & behold, brewmaster and owner Adam Avery shows up on the west coast two weeks ago for a series of events designed to promote the arrival of his beers in these parts. Cue the sound of rabid beer dorks quickly yanking money from their wallets.

One such event appealed to this particular beer dork, and that was a beer dinner hosted by “THE BEER CHEF”, pitting the beers of AVERY vs. their old doppelganger RUSSIAN RIVER BREWING in a knock-down, drag-out drink off. If you’re thinking, “only two of the US’s finest brewers!”, that’s exactly what I was thinking too when I ponied up the (cough) $85 admission fee. I’ll get a few things out of the way first: the food was very good, the joie de vivre and camaraderie shared by RR’s Vinnie Cilurzio and Avery’s Adam Avery was fun (I think these fellas might have been nipping each others’ beers when backs were turned, and as such pretty much spent the second half of the dinner constantly “on mic”, roasting each other, the beer chef and the world at large), and for eighty-five large, the amount of top-quality beer served was staggering and more than generous. This wasn’t ordinary beer, as both breweries tend toward high-ABV monsters, often soured or aged or generally tweaked-with to produce some true marvels. Many have been discussed in this forum before, so lemme tell you what we had:


The first two IPAs were served to all comers before dinner even began, and it was “Drink as much as you like”, and in all the excitement that’s (alas) just what I did. The big a-ha moment out of that was just how much I loved the RUSSIAN RIVER BLIND PIG IPA. What a wonderful beverage. It was my second time having it, and I really dug it last time, but it was so citrusy & well-balanced & out-and-out delicious I had to get a second pint of it, and proclaimed it a 9.5/10 to the entire room whilst standing on a chair with a lampshade on & my pants unbuttoned. Whoops. AVERY IPA was a good solid IPA, but on this round it was “the Santa Rosa kid” taking the lion’s share of the IPA points.

After that it all gets a little less clear. I do know that I enjoyed everything, and I mean everything. One beer in particular really made the grade, and that was AVERY’S 2007 anniversary ale, FOURTEEN. Lots of oohing and ahhing around the table as that one was being consumed, and thankfully I had secured a bomber of this earlier in the week and have it waiting for me at home one of these days. Another surprise was just how drinkable & delicious the “ultra-aged” and oaked DAMNATION, BATCH 23 from Russian River was. The word on the street was that it was really, really oaked-tasting, and that doesn’t usually square with me. Thankfully this one did, and again, the bottles are out there and I got lucky enough to grab one, so after I, uh, “age” this one for a bit I’ll drink it with a critical tongue, and tell you about it if you’d like.

A friend tells me that he knew my night was over when I noisily demanded to be passed the water pitcher from the rest of the table and got nowhere, and then just closed my eyes in frustration for a ‘lil catnap. The next day was a little ragged, and as someone who basically never has hangovers & curses himself for weeks when he does – well, let’s just say that I’d firmly decided to end the beer geekdom, this blog, and all drinking whatsoever for about 24 hours after this event. But "that’s what you get when you play with the big kids". I’ll know better next time. In the meantime, if you’re lucky enough to procure the beers of either of these heavyweights in your area, by all means make a point of doing so, and pay special attention to that AVERY FOURTEEN while it’s around. That’s it – I’m going back to my ice water pitcher now.

Thursday, September 13, 2007


TRIPLE KARMELIET is a Belgian tripel dating back to some time prior to my birth – well, 1679 to be precise. I guess it’s somewhat hard to imagine beer this delicious and well-crafted being produced in the 17th century, and naturally the modern mind goes totally skeptical that the olde version would taste anything like today’s. I suppose one can never know, but just this connection to near-ancient brewing methods is one of the many reasons Belgian beer is so special. TRIPEL KARMELIET has a very strong and intense taste, quite bready, almost as if a batch of sourdough got into the vats and gummed up the works for a while before someone – maybe a monk – noticed. This happy accident, in my imaginary world of beermaking, produced a very tasteful and unforgiving beer; unforgiving in the sense that you don’t want to slam this one down at a kegger; you’ll just look & feel stupid. Its carbonation alone, which I found to be pretty high, would preclude such activities. Nope, enjoy it in the comforts of home with, oh jeez I don’t know – how about a steak and some “pomme frites”? I’ll restock this one again sometime in the near future. 7.5/10.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


You know and I know that GREEN FLASH BREWING, a San Diego upstart of the last few years that's helped to further that city's deserved brewing reputation, is capable of great things. I thoroughly enjoyed their barleywine earlier in the year, and though I have yet to try them, all the kool kidz tell me that the Imperial IPA and the regular-ol'-IPA are to die for. I believe it. So why does their EXTRA PALE ALE taste like aspirin? I tried to quaff a pint of this the other night at Jupiter in Berkeley, CA, and it was as if I was trying some unbalanced homebrew that a rookie like me might try. This, like the last beer we reviewed, also goes for the English style, which means it's bound to be a more dry, crisp and malty beer than an American pale ale, which is often bursting with citrus and moderate hops. But no matter, I say. If it doesn't taste good, it doesn't taste good. All breweries are allowed a bogey from time to time - I'm thinking this might be GREEN FLASH's. 4/10.

Monday, September 10, 2007


Man, that LAGUNITAS "FREAK OUT!" double IPA was really something, wasn't it? Released as an anniversary tribute last year to Frank Zappa & The Mothers of Invention's first album, it also happened to be one of the most bold & refreshing highly-hopped beers I’ve ever had, and it was mildly distressing around our house when we found out it was a one-time-only deal. So here’s Lagunitas trying to keep the Zappa magic rolling a little longer, this time with another highly-hopped IPA called KILL UGLY RADIO. You think Frank would approve? Didn’t that fella not even drink? You think Dweezil, Moon Unit and the GTOs got comped with a few bottles? Anyway, I excitedly tore this bottle open yesterday, and enjoyed it I suppose, inasmuch as I always enjoy a finely-constructed India Pale Ale. This one, I must say, is a little more “plain jane” compared to Lagunitas’ MAXIMUS or the FREAK OUT. It’s a very piney taste, missing a lot of expected citrus & missing any aroma whatsoever to boot, and malt tastes are nearly nonexistent. Hops and pine, pine and hops - yet not overwhelming in any sense, at least to those who make it their supremely dorkified passion to seek out all of these west coat IPAs. I learned it actually uses west coast hops, but I almost reckoned that this was a tribute to "the English Style" as I was enjoying it. Hunh. I suspect that it’s not even a double IPA, but is instead a single – whatever that means, right, hombre? 6.5/10.

Friday, September 07, 2007


In the not-too-distant future I plan to tell the tale of last Friday’s AVERY BREWING vs. RUSSIAN RIVER BREWING beer dinner I attended, a bacchanalian evening of heavy food and amazing, world-beating high-alcohol beer. I took a vow of beer celibacy for five big days following said event. If you were there, you probably did too. No, this post today is about a recent evening in which I paired two white beers, aka witbiers, against each other in a no holds-barred drink off. Both “won”, but of course I was the biggest winner of all.

First up was RUSSIAN RIVER BREWING’s entrant, LITTLE WHITE LIE, enjoyed on tap at Lanesplitter Pizza in Berkeley, CA. Now what’s interesting about this tasting was that, 1 year after my first encounter with the beer, my enthusiasm for this one dipped a full two points, from the 9/10 we bestowed upon it last time to the 7/10 I’m going with now. Who can say why. I’ll say that this is a witbier with a little bit of the funk about it; i.e. compared to most examples of the form, this one’s more of a sipper than a gulper. Totally opaque, very yeasty tasting, and with heartier, almost dough-like mouthfeel. I didn’t have the over-the-top rapturous experience with it I had last time, and yet it was quite delicious nonetheless. My take-away is that the witbier formula was deliberately tampered with here to make something slightly strange & unique. “What a surprise” from our friends at Russian River.

Later that evening, back in the safety of the home, I gave myself up to BLANCHE DE CHAMBLY, a product of the UNIBROUE corporation. This lovely beer was blessed with a truly eye-watering orange/lemon smell, and was just as cloudy and unfiltered-tasting as the Little White Lie. Again, quite yeasty, with a lot of thickness as well. Truth be told, the carbonation produced numerous gaseous escapes from my throat. Good thing that family was away for the evening. It’s not a Bondsian knock out of the park, but I gave it a 7.5/10, about what I’d expect from UNIBROUE, unlike the last one I had from them. Advantage UNIBROUE by a nose.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007


There was this funny 'lil bottle of MEANTIME COFFEE PORTER sitting on a shelf recently, all the way from England it said, and having read some good word about these guys I thought it might merit a try. The one that's apparantly worth busting a nut for from these guys is their IPA, but I've yet to see that around, so this tiny 11.2-oz. bottle was it for me. I'd say it was an enjoyable brew, one that was far less "exciting" than I expected in the sense that the coffee flavors, which were most certainly present, were still so muted & pushed to the background that this was closer to your standard-issue English porter than I'd reckoned. Certainly not a bad thing, as it was a smooth ride with a deceptive alcohol kick (6%, about 1-1.5% higher than most beers of its ilk). I drank it late, close to the sleeping hour, and had no problem drifting off. Remember that RED HOOK/STARBUCKS disaster from over a decade ago, a 22-oz. bomber that was half coffee, half Red Hook? I promise you'll like this one better. 7/10.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

THE HEDONIST BEER JIVE 25 – revised 9/4/07

The finest beers in the world, all in one ranked, ordered place for your shopping list:

1. MOYLAN’SHopsickle (Double IPA)
2. ANDERSON VALLEYBoont Amber (American Amber/Red Ale)
3. BRASSERIE DE ROCHEFORTTrappistes Rochefort 8 (Belgian Strong Dark Ale)
4. THREE FLOYDS - Alpha King (American Pale Ale)
5. AVERY BREWINGThe Reverend (Quadrupel)
6. MOONLIGHTReality Czeck (Czech Pilsner)
8. MOONLIGHT2006 Toast Malt Liquor (American Amber/Red Lager)
9. HACKER-PSCHORRDunkel Weiss (Dunkel Weizen)
10. LOST ABBEY - Devotion Ale (Belgian-Style Blonde)
11. RUSSIAN RIVERDamnation (Belgian-Style Strong Golden Ale)
12. BEAR REPUBLIC - Racer 5 (IPA)
13. DARK HORSE - Tres Blueberry Stout (American Stout)
14. MARIN BREWING - Tripel Dipsea (Tripel)
16. LANGUNITASFreak Out! (IPA)
17. RUSSIAN RIVERRejection (Belgian Black Ale)
18. FIRESTONE WALKER10 (Barleywine)
19. DRAKE’SDenogginizer (Double IPA)
20. DESCHUTES2006 Jubel Ale (Winter Warmer)
21. LOST ABBEYAvant Garde (Biere De Garde)
22. NORTH COASTOld Stock 2004 (Old Ale)
23. PORT BREWINGHop Suey (Double IPA)
24. RUSSIAN RIVER - O.V.L. Stout (American Stout)
25. FIRESTONE WALKER - Pale Ale (American Pale Ale)