Monday, July 30, 2007
Biggest surprise of the night – STEELHEAD BREWING makes some very tasty beer. I had heard suggestions to the contrary for the past couple of years. Exhibit A was the BOMBAY BOMBER IPA, which was too tempting to not start with, despite the conventional wisdom to save the hoppy beers for later in the programme. This uber-hoppy IPA virtually holds its own with anyone else in the Bay Area, with an intense mouthfeel of deep malts and really piney, citrus-packed hops. I was expecting something much more mild. It’s a golden IPA, no orange present, but it tasted something like a more carbonated version of MOONLIGHT's IPA, also called BOMBAY BY BOAT. Not quite in that league, but at 7.5/10, it’s damn good.
I don’t know how I even dared to pull the trigger on something called HAIRY WEASEL HEFEWEIZEN, but I did. Probably because I was driving and it looked like the lightest offering on the menu. It was OK, again better than expected – a fairly thin-to-medium bodied hefe, sans lemon, also quite carbonated (they say “effervescent”) but packing some malty flavor punch. I might try some of the more adventurous offerings on the menu next time, but reckoned this rated a 6.5/10 and that’s not too shabby. In short, for those that carp and bark about “no good beer on the Peninsula”, I beg to differ. If you’ve got a layover at the SF airport, you can get over that by cab in like 10 minutes, tops, enough to get one of those Bombay Bombers. Maybe I’ll see ya there, because if I can hoodwink a few more friends I’m heading back.
Friday, July 27, 2007
Anyway, UNDERCOVER INVESTIGATION SHUTDOWN ALE is a dark amber/ruby ale that I honestly thought was just an “Imperial Amber” until I learned otherwise. It tastes very hoppy, of course. It pours with a large head and has a delicious, almost eye-watering scent, but it’s not that citrus/floral scent you typically get with such beers. I don’t really know what it is, I was too busy drinking the thing. It’s a little bit bitter but only if you’re not ready for such a thing – if your palate has been readied for double IPAs in the past then you’re ready for this. It’s actually “smooth” by the standards of the form. Man, it was really, really good. I’m going with 8/10 and picking up a sixer or two when I can.
According to my Site Meter at the bottom of this page, this site averages roughly 70 “unique visitors” per day. I’m going to assume that about 4 or 5 of you live in the city of
Thursday, July 26, 2007
A Belgian Style ale that's very pale and cloudy in appearance due it being unfiltered and the high level of wheat, and sometimes oats, that's used in the mash. Always spiced, generally with coriander, orange peel and other oddball spices or herbs in the back ground. The crispness and slight twang comes from the wheat and the lively level of carbonation. This is one style that many brewers in the US have taken a liking to and have done a very good job of staying to style. Sometimes served with a lemon, but if you truly want to enjoy the untainted subtleties of this style you'll ask for yours without one. Often referred to as "white beers" (witbieren) due to the cloudiness / yeast in suspension.
I love that cloudy, yeasty taste that often reeks of oranges & crisp spices. I was pretty excited to try the LOST COAST GREAT WHITE because some folks had written nice things about it, and besides, it’s crafted right up the coast from me. Somehow I’d missed it all this time. Well good thing for that! This beer, as delivered in a bottle at San Francisco’s Knockout Tavern, was a bit of a minor mess. Thin, sourish, watery beer. No hints of orange peel nor coriander – well maybe some coriander, but that by itself doesn’t a beer make. And no, I didn’t put a lemon slice in it - and they offered. I was expecting something much more juicy and refreshing, sour-ish in a good way – even that SOUTHAMPTON DOUBLE WHEAT I tried last year (that everyone but me seems to love) was a good deal better. I’m going with 5/10 and plan to stay away from this one unless I can be convinced I got a bad bottle or something.
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Friday, July 20, 2007
I think 120-MINUTE IPA deserves a few plaudits, with the caveat that I’ll probably never drink it again. First, to make a beer this high in ABV and still render it moderately drinkable is an achievement in & of itself. The general sweetness (almost to the point of being syrupy) reminds one of a barleywine, albeit one that has more hops that man thought possible even five years ago. Second, it did not “destroy” my tongue – after gingerly sipping it for a while and finding it lacking, all my internal workings started to adjust and recalibrate, and all of a sudden I found myself saying, “Hey, I can drink this!”. Its deep orange color gave off the unmistakable smell of hops, as well as the grapefruit aromas that often accompany them. I even finished it, but I won’t say it was a particularly revelatory experience. I also knew there was no way I could enjoy another beer after this one, both from an ABV standpoint and the fact that I’d likely not even taste the next one.
So why should anyone even care? Fair enough. This beer is an experiment in envelope-pushing, and not something that is really set up for enjoyment. I suspect that DOGFISH HEAD concocted it as a publicity move more than anything else, and the fact that they made it tolerable – well, right on fellas. I’m even willing to go as high as 6.5/10 on this one – but do you need to beg, borrow and steal for a bottle or a glass? No my friends, you most certainly do not. Save your shekels for a HOPSICKLE instead – a triple-IPA bargain even at twice the price.
Thursday, July 19, 2007
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Best newcoma of the summa would be Steve over at SUMMER OF BEER, an excellent craft beer blog chock full of outstanding reviews, insights and the like. He’s already drinking all the heavyweights you wish you were. A Californian quaffing SURLY BREWING, NEW GLARUS and DOGFISH HEAD beers? Are you kidding me? Check this guy out and give him some beer dork love when you get a chance!
First up was the very subtly named HOP-OCALYPSE from a hitherto-unknown-to-me brewery called CLAY PIPE BREWING straight outta Westminster, Maryland. I gave this one high marks for drinkability – a gentle IPA, with not a small amount of hops, which we generally are in favor of here. Yet the beer gets knocked down a couple pegs for simple, unadulterated blandness. When it’s hard to think of anything to say about beer, even when three opinionated fellas are consuming it, you know it’s probably right there in the middle of the road. As one person on Beer Advocate said, “OK, but there are so many other nice IPAs out there”. As another said, “It's not bad, but it's not great either. It really needs more hop flavor and more flavor in general. Give it a try if you want, although I'd recommend seeking out a better alternative”. My thoughts exactly. 6/10.
The WEYERBACHER HOPS INFUSION fared a little better. When I listen to the CRAFT BEER RADIO podcast, I hear those guys talking about WEYERBACHER BREWING like they are the de facto standard microbrew around where they live in Pennsylvania, sort of like Anchor Steam or Sierra Nevada is around my parts. This amber-ish IPA had more bold flavor than the Clay Pipe IPA did, with a decided floral scent and a nice juicy backbone. Very “west coast”, if I may, with more balance in the sense that it is a very simple IPA and not overpowering in the least. Reminds me some of the LAGUNITAS IPA. If it’s possible to “session” with an IPA, this would be a good one, though I’d prefer one just a little more robust – maybe that BALLAST POINT BIG EYE IPA would fill the bill. Let’s go with 6.5/10. What do you east coasters have to say?
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Monday, July 16, 2007
Friday, July 13, 2007
1. They don’t seem to be selling any ads. The advertisers in the new issue are essentially the same ones as in the first, and they are exceptionally few & far between to begin with. Multiple full pages in what is already a very thin magazine are ads for Beer Advocate itself – the web site, subscriptions, and pleas for advertisers. An incredible amount of real estate appears to be available, and it’s not getting filled. This seems strange to me, as there are hundreds of breweries with decent distribution and product to push beyond their borders, and the magazine is even free in most places – so.....why is no one buying?
2. I can read every word in about twenty minutes. Granted, those words are very helpful and well-formed, but not only are there few ads, there’s really not that much content issue-to-issue when you get right down to it. So they make up with it by pushing huge margins on all sides (top, bottom, left, right), by making many photos full-page (which obviously is appropriate depending on the subject), running their own full-page ads (see #1), and by leaving as much white space as they can get away with. When I get a new issue in the mail I am over & done with it over my lunch break, before the burrito has even had a chance to be finished.
3. They make up ridiculous food pairings for beer. Color me not yet 100% sold on how amazingly or naturally beer pairs with cuisine of all types, but these guys have been sold on the concept and then some. Here are some totally out-of-left-field, obviously forced pairings they recommend in the course of reviewing certain beers this past month: “Use it to breathe some life into a plate of weiner schnitzel mit spatzel” (what the hell is that?); “pair it with egg salad sandwich on rye bread with kosher dill pickles” (A beer? Seriously? Do they have to be kosher?); “pair it with a three-egg omelet with goat cheese and fresh basil” (damn it! I only have two eggs and some Kraft singles); “pair it with Columbian-style steak soft tacos with rice and beans” etc etc. I half suspect there’s some half-drunk clownin’ going on as these reviews are being written.
Of course I’ve got more important things going on in life than to worry about a mag put out by people I don’t know, but I had hoped by now that the magazine would be filling out a bit in terms of monthly page & advertiser volume - yet it hasn’t. All my half-kiddin’ aside, does anyone share these rogue concerns or care to dispute them?
Thursday, July 12, 2007
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
WHITE HAWK SELECT IPA was a big surprise – a delicious English-style IPA with some serious west coast overtones. That’s beer dork talk for “not too hoppy, but getting there”. They use Cascade hops, which impart some of that piney, juicy, rich-hop flavor you find in so many American IPAs and Double IPAs these days, and yet this one really worked well as a summer refresher, too. Dryer than most IPAs, and I reckon that’s because they’re also using what they call “a very generous dose of English Fuggle Hops”. Ah yes – the Fuggles! It was quite delicious, and actually had more of an alcohol kick than I’d planned on – only 7%, but felt like 8.5% or more. Guess I needed some more hot dogs in me! Folks, if you’ve been misunderestimating MENDOCINO BREWING til now, give this one a whirl – HBJ’s giving it a 7.5/10.
Monday, July 09, 2007
Friday, July 06, 2007
Thursday, July 05, 2007
Tuesday, July 03, 2007
Today I’m proud and a little embarrassed to announce the unveiling of nearly 17 months’ worth of drinking and dorkitude. You may now view and even download the list I’ve compiled. Perhaps your first reaction is to call the mobile AA unit to an intervention at my house. Let me say in my defense that for these past 17 months, I’ve tried only to drink beers that I’ve never had before, a task that, while slightly more difficult than it was last year, seems never to lack possibilities. I assure you that outside of a tiny handful of joie de vivre-fueled drinking events, all of which I’ve chronicled in detail here, here and here, I’ve not exceeded three adult beverages on any given night. I can only hope that this list, painstakingly compiled in alphabetical order, is what you take with you to the specialty beer emporium this weekend. I have laid myself bare, and I hope that I have not done so in vain.
Download the Hedonist Beer Jive Ratings Bible
Monday, July 02, 2007
LA FIN DU MONDE has a bright, wake-you-up aroma of candied fruit and muted alcohol, and the taste of citrus fruits and above all, yeast. It is extremely enjoyable to get down. Its long and easy finish gives you plenty of time to taste what you’re drinking, and from the word go you know you’re drinking an exceptional, high-craft beer. It’s 9% ABV but as we say when beers are this great: you won’t notice nor care. The good news is that it’s distributed all over the