Thursday, April 30, 2009
I bought a TELEGRAPH BREWING RESERVE WHEAT ALE the other day and was pretty psyched to get going on it. It’s from TELEGRAPH – one of my favorite brewers on the planet. The afternoon before I’d set a date and time to drink what I thought was going to be some specially-formulated, weird-ass wheat beer, I read this post on SUMMER OF BEER, who hipped me to what it actually said on that bottle I’d procured:
This intensely sour "wild ale" recalls the earliest rustic beers crafted centuries ago before brewers had an understanding of controlled fermentation. Brewed with the addition of lemon verbena, as well as lactobacillus and brettanomyces, Telegraph Reserve Wheat is an all-together different beast from modern beer. Not for the faint of heart, this special brew is available in extremely limited quantities.
Now folks, I’m not “the faint of heart”. I’m a hearty, strapping, meat-eating American male with a love of grog, grub and wild adventures. But I can’t stand this stuff, nor the other Berliner Weisse-style beers I’ve tried before this one (another Santa Barbara-area brewer called ISLAND BREWING made one that I once savaged here). This is an ultra lemon-heavy, thin-bodied sour and very, very wild ale. You drink this when you’ve tried everything else. But does one really drink this for enjoyment? Really? I definitely love the pound-the-chest feeling that comes from throwing down a sour beer or a super-high ABV coffee imperial porter or whatever, but I can’t imagine ever buying another Berliner Weisse beer when life, such as it is, is so fleeting and filled with opportunity. If Telegraph can’t make one that gets me all excited, then I don’t know who can. Hedonist Beer Jive Rating: Totally unratable.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
The other night I got to be “interviewed” for a piece Brian Yaeger, author of “Red White and Brew: An American Beer Odyssey”, is writing in ALL ABOUT BEER, and given that MAGNOLIA’s about halfway between his abode and mine, we agreed that’d be a fine place for a discussion. As it turned out, even though I hadn’t been to Magnolia in over a year, there were only a couple of things on the menu I’d never tried. They actually had a gruit on tap, which was certainly intriguing, but in the end I went for style that would allow me ample room for pontification, rather than contemplation:
IN WITH THE NEW IPA – Good to see a new IPA from these folks, especially one this tasty. This is very smooth, “delicately”-hopped IPA, almost the inverse of the Great Lakes Burning River Pale Ale we talked about a couple of days ago (i.e. today’s pale ale is yesterday’s IPA). Magnolia decided to go all the way back to 2006 for this “throwback” IPA. Really good. 7.5/10.
PRESCRIPTION PALE ALE – This has been part of their lineup as long as I can remember, but I’m not sure I’ve ever tried it – certainly not since I started “rating” my beers, cough cough. Pretty nondescript and still. I actually thought it might have come from the cask, but there was faint carbonation there. Low hops, some juicy citrus in the aftertaste, and that’s about it. 6/10.
Never did get to that gruit or to the two porters they had on draft. Don’t worry, I’ll almost certainly be back next year. (PS - thanks to Bittermelon for the great photo).
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Outstanding. Smooth and mildly sweet, this is a still, unclouded Belgian-style ale without all the intensity that implies. I have no idea what style category to throw it into…..a fantastic beer that is available in bottles wherever these guys distribute (unfortunately not where I live).
I bought the 2009 edition of GOOSE ISLAND MATILDA from Archer Liquors, and popped the cap a few nights ago. To be honest, I don’t like this year’s version anywhere near that epiphany-creating glass I had last year. Again, this is a still, no-head-at-all translucent Belgian ale that pours a rich reddish-orange. Smooth, with sweet malts. It features tastes of honey and banana, and is dominated by its yeast, but it really doesn’t come together in a way that makes me want to shout from the rooftops. It’s just a solid, mildly experimental, albeit unspectacular Belgian-style ale. It’s being aimed for the restaurant/foodie/connoisseur crowd, and no doubt it will do well there, but I’ll probably reach for my restaurant standbys – CHIMAY RED or LA FIN DU MONDE – before I try this one again. 6.5/10.
Monday, April 27, 2009
GREAT LAKES BURNING RIVER PALE ALE is a lovely orange/copper color, and has a great dose of hops both in the nose and all over the tongue. This is one of those moderne American pale ales, the ones that are assertively hopped but not intensely so, like IPAs were maybe 5 or 6 years ago. Crisp and sharp with a pretty dry finish. Malts are big and thick, but it’s that blast of hops that’s what you’re going to notice. Another fetching “pale ale” from the Midwest, a place certainly not lacking for great beer. 7.5/10.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
THE BRUERY have very quickly become one of the go-to, first-class brewers in the USA. They know it, too – their beers are priced and packaged accordingly. I’m still buying for sure, as they’ve produced three winners since I started paying attention, two of which are knockouts. I’m giving this one a 9.5/10.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
GREAT LAKES WINTER ALE is what was slipped into my satchel, and it’s what we’re here to discuss today. As “Peet” mentioned to me, I had not tasted my final beer of the 2008 winter beer tasting season, contrary to previous writings. GREAT LAKES WINTER ALE pours a deep, dark red – exceptionally beautiful in the glass. They say that we should have been expecting predominant flavors of cinnamon, orange peel and ginger, but all me & my drinking/rating sidekick could get out of it was the cinnamon. It is a liquidy, malty beer, more thin-bodied than I would like and definitely downplayed when it comes to the alcohol – a “big beer” this is not, appearances to the contrary. (Which is no problem and not a complaint by any means). Here’s the thing – while this beer smells great with a terrific fruity & spicy aroma, not enough of that actually makes it through to the back of your throat – which is where it counts, right? It’s when the men are separated from the boys. I liked Great Lakes Winter Ale just fine – it was a good complement to the dinner it was enjoyed with, and went down easy – yet I’d have liked it more if they’d packed a little more of their wintery je ne sais quoi into the taste of the beer itself. 6/10.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
I really like the idea behind a single-hop IPA. If I’m ever going to graduate to craft beer guru status, I’m gonna have to know my Amarillos from my Centennials from my Simcoes, and maybe these Danes at MIKKELLER can help show me the way. MIKKELLER SIMCOE SINGLE HOP IPA shows off, you got it, the Simcoe hop, a hop very prevalent in US IPAs but one that I can’t personally tell you much about. I’ve been wanting to try MIKKELLER’s beers for a great long while, but the price tag and their lack of easy availability (they do come here from Denmark, you know) have made that a bit difficult. The other night at The Church Key we ordered one of these up, though, and it was a very good call. SIMCOE SINGLE HOP is strangely super-hopped; a very different sort of IPA than any I’ve had before. Very thick mouthfeel, and wonderfully hoppy and robust. A big IPA for sure, but not off the hook alcohol-wise (7%). Spicy and piney, with some serious bitterness. Again, it’s really a new taste to me, and for that alone I highly recommend it. This isn’t some lazy west coast IPA-by-numbers, but a weirdo beer made by some crazy-ass Danish cats (and brewed at the De Proef brewery in Belgium, no less!). 8/10.
Monday, April 20, 2009
Here are a few that we’ve tried that have taken the Hedonist Beer Jive staff to the summit of happiness and back. If you’re shopping for IPAs or Double IPAs, and need a few to bring home this week, you’d do well to pick up a small bushel-full of these. Any questions, please let me know.
1. MOYLAN’S – Hopsickle (Double IPA)
2. SIX POINT CRAFT ALES - Bengali Tiger (IPA)
3. STONE BREWING – IPA (IPA)
4. CAPTAIN LAWRENCE - Captain's Reserve Imperial IPA (Double IPA)
5. BEAR REPUBLIC - Racer 5 (IPA)
6. RUSSIAN RIVER – Blind Pig (IPA)
7. IRON HORSE – Beer Shoppe Anniversary Ale (Double IPA)
8. MOYLAN’S – IPA (IPA)
9. LAGUNITAS – Freak Out! (IPA)
10. DRAKE’S – Denogginizer (Double IPA)
11. PORT BREWING – Hop Suey (Double IPA)
12. BOULDER BEER – Hazed & Infused (IPA)
13. DOGFISH HEAD – 90-Minute IPA (IPA)
14. SIERRA NEVADA – Celebration Ale 2007 and 2008 (IPA)
15. SOUTHERN TIER - Hoppe (Double IPA)
16. TWO BROTHERS BREWING - Hop Juice (Double IPA)
17. VICTORY BREWING - Hop Devil (IPA)
18. BELL’S – HopSlam (IPA)
19. DRAKE’S - Hop Salad (Double IPA)
20. LAGUNITAS - Maximus (Double IPA)
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Rosée d’Hibiscus is a soft spoken wheat beer. The rose colour comes from the hibiscus flowers added during the brewing process. The aromas and flavour of this tropical flower are very prominent in the beer, giving it a slight acidity and a very agreeable fragrance. It is the perfect thirst quencher on a hot summer day.
It is flowery for sure. My drinking partner that night said, “I’m not sure that’s even beer”. I think it is. The use of this hibiscus “adjunct” gives this highly-carbonated beer a slight sourness and the vague taste of apricots. It is thin-bodied, and a bit spicy. It may very well be a wheat beer, but if you’d asked me to throw darts at a board I’d have had a better chance of picking “wheat beer” as the quote-unquote style for this one. An experimental fruit/flower beer all the way. It’s certainly a nice scientific concoction and a credit to DIEU DU CIEL’s brewing prowess, but probably not something I’d have repeatedly. 7/10.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
I got this blog going a little over three years ago when I, much like most folks getting their craft beer obsession going, was heavily into IPAs. Better yet, Double IPAs – which were just then starting to hit big. One of the first of that ilk that I ever tried was from San Leandro, CA microbrewer DRAKE’S. It was called the DENOGGINIZER, easily one of the top 10 beer names of all time. I totally fell for it, and to this day I still have it listed in my top beers of all time. (And let it be said that while I’m not a raving fan of DRAKE’S beer, they do make some incredible hoppy beers, including the 2007 brain-eraser called HOP SALAD).
Last night I visited a great new San Francisco beer bar in North Beach called CHURCH KEY (highly recommended – will write more about these guys another time), and they actually have the 2009 version of DENOGGINIZER on tap. It’s been three years – let’s see how it holds up. Luscious orange color with a slight pillowy, foamy head, and oh wow this is good. Smooooooth. Not at all as hopped-out as I expected. Compared to the version I tasted three years ago, this is more juicy, subtle and less intense – but of course it could be my perceptions of IPAs that have changed. I have a much larger sample size under my belt now. Really juicy and smooth. Excellent. I’m keeping my 9/10 rating. On tap in select San Francisco Bay Area locations, though you might wanna try it at the Church Key if you’re in town.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
My son was just tearing through the park on his training wheels, and it dawned on me that should he continue down the literal path he was on for another 20 blocks or so, we’d end up in THE BEACH CHALET & BREWERY’s parking lot. C’mon son, you can do it….! I hadn’t been to the Beach Chalet, I’m ashamed to admit, since around 2000-2001 or maybe even the late 1990s. It is in a beautiful spot – right at the end of San Francisco and the west coast, right on the Pacific Ocean. For nearly 12 years they’ve been serving a bevy of hand-crafted ales and lagers to tourists and some locals, often adventuresome hikers, bike-riders and kite-flyers willing the brave the area’s strong winds & generally foggy weather. We happened to be there on a fantastic sunny day (this past Sunday), and both of us needed a liquid reward after traversing many miles to get there.
I tried two beers. Let me just get the bad one out of the way first – it was an English-style bitter called D.B.A., or DEE’S BITTER ALE. It was warmly served out of a cask, and tasted alternately of copper and of metalloids of unknown origin. 4/10. That said, BEACH CHALET makes a very fine Belgian-style tripel called TRIPEL THREAT. It’s pictured here. Note the complementary crayons in the background. It pours a pumpkin orange color and is exceptionally yeasty. What I like about it is it was way more hoppy than I expected, sort of like one of them newfangled Belgo-American IPA/Tripel hybrids the kids are always getting their knickers in a twist about. It tasted fresh and alive, and could be at home at a more renown brewery like STONE or LAGUNITAS with no problem at all. I’ll totally make it back here before the end of the decade to try a couple more from these guys – just not that English thing. 7/10.
Monday, April 13, 2009
Dispensing with all the snark, let me state for the record that TRAPPIST WESTVLETEREN 12 is an excellent, delicious, well-crafted quadrupel. I totally enjoyed every sip, and there’s no doubt it’s going to be making it onto the Hedonist Beer Jive 75 next time I update the thing. It’s an aromatic, very yeasty dark Belgian ale with a slight cola taste; i.e. a little thinner than I’d expected and consequently it’s actually very easy to put down. By “put down” I mean drink. Really smooth, very fruit-packed (raisins, dates) and bready. Those who care deeply about how a beer “feels” in the mouth (the cult of the mouthfeel) will be all over this one if they can ever find a bottle. I’m guessing this guy, the most recent post on Beer Advocate about this beer, is one of those fellas:
You have to be brain dead to not like this beer. It was a religious experience, it smelled like a church, tasted like heaven and had the body of the Holy Trinity.
It smelled like a church. That's a good beer, hunh? Hey, this is a beer that inspires hyperbole. Scoring it any less than a 10/10 will likely invite invective and abuse, so HBJ’s going to say this is a great goddamn beer and then call it like we see it: 9/10.
Friday, April 10, 2009
Thursday, April 09, 2009
Let me first talk about my ARCHER LIQUORS order. This Chicago-based mailorder outfit came highly recommended by THE DRUNKEN POLACK, and folks who read his blog know that he don’t lie. I picked out ten whoppers from the likes of DARK HORSE, THREE FLOYDS, GREAT LAKES and other heavyweights – including three from TWO BROTHERS BREWING in Warrenville, IL. I’ve enjoyed the two of their beers that I’ve had immensely, and hey, their HOP JUICE is clocking in at #73 on the Hedonist Beer Jive 75. So Archer Liquors basically did everything they said they would and then some – packed the beer well, shipped it quickly, and communicated status without fail. Their selection is fabulous, and for those of us with no access to the Midwest and east coast superstar brewers they’re carrying, their service is a proverbial godsend.
TWO BROTHERS HEAVY-HANDED IPA is what I pulled out of their box first. Only 27 beers to go after this one, provided I buy nothing else! This highly-regarded IPA is highly regarded for a reason, as I found out. It’s like a very ripe, exceptionally juicy grapefruit. Not too piney, and not too overly hopped. It’s not advertised as a “double” and it doesn’t taste like one either. It’s a 6.7% ABV beer, and it goes down easy. There’s a bit of sweetness on the tongue that you only see in a subset of the IPAs out there. Great effort, and another winner from this crew. 7.5/10.
Tuesday, April 07, 2009
You know that candy called Whoppers? SOUTHERN TIER OAT is the big boy’s, belly-busting version of Whoppers in a glass. Rich chocolate malts, with oat (naturally) and cocoa powder combining into a rich, satisfying brew. Mine barely had any head at all, yet the bottle mentions a “thick tan head”. You call that a head, Southern Tier? Out west we do things a little differently, partner. In any case, this thing just opened up and got better & better as it warmed, and while an exceptionally rich beer, it only had medium thickness and not that cloying, ultra-thick soup you get from some big-ABV imperial stouts. These guys are great – kudos to them once again. 8/10.
Monday, April 06, 2009
Well well. Imagine my surprise when I enjoyed – nay, relished – two excellent sessionable beers there at SIN CITY. These folks make beer tailor-made for conversation and “yes ma’am may I please have another”. The next day I read a great article by Lew Bryson in ALL ABOUT BEER magazine about session beers, and I recognized that I’d just been to a place that totally gets it. Much like a great pub in the UK, SIN CITY wants you to have another one, and then another one after that, and they don’t want you soiling yourself on the way out – and hey, I didn’t expect to find a place with beer this solid in Las Vegas either. Here’s what I relished:
SIN CITY WEISS – A vaguely sour wheat/weiss ale, halfway between a Berliner Weiss and an American-style hefeweizen or wheat ale. Really drinkable – like, “wow, this is good” drinkable. Pictured here. 8/10
SIN CITY IRISH DRY STOUT – Thin body, but with an ever-present light roastyness and that delicious, creamy mouthfeel you get when someone’s put some attention into their stout. If I was truly going to “session” here, I’d have probably had at least two more of these. 7.5/10
True, drinking conditions are not optimal, and of the four beers served here, one’s a “light lager” and the other is that amber we tried last year. But I can absolutely see a situation in my future that will require another stop in this place, along with the BURGER BAR at Mandalay Bay, where you can counterbalance the “let’s drink a session ale” angel on your shoulder with something a little more devilish and headache-inducing.
Thursday, April 02, 2009
Anyway, I’m still jealous of the way Aaron gets to write about anything he wants – French fries, strange dates, St. Patrick’s Day, the counterintuitive attractiveness of women with large noses – and still have one of the more vital “beer blogs” on the planet. So I’m gonna steal some of his shtick for one post only. I was in
The Ten Lamest Things One Can Do In
- Say, at any time, “Vegas, baby, Vegas”.
- Imitate the sound made by the desperately poor “porn card” slappers while walking down the Strip
- Attend a “sexy circus” show at a hotel/casino
- Go out of your way to view the lion habitat at the MGM Grand
Say the word “titties” out loud
- Take pictures of the fountain show at the Bellagio or the pirate fight at Treasure Island – or worst of all, the fake
Eiffel Towerat Paris
- Go to the Coyote Ugly bar and hoot at the skanks
- Watch the fake rain show at the Miracle Mile shops in Planet Hollywood
- Gamble at the airport
- Gamble anywhere
Diamondbacks Arizona Dodgers Los Angeles Giants San Francisco Colorado Rockies Padres San Diego
Cardinals St. Louis Cubs Chicago Reds Cincinnati Brewers Milwaukee Astros Houston Pirates Pittsburgh
- Philadephia Phillies
Mets (wild card) New York Braves Atlanta Marlins Florida Nationals Washington
Angels Los Angeles A’s Oakland Mariners Seattle Rangers Texas
Twins Minnesota Indians Cleveland Tigers Detroit Royals Kansas City White Sox Chicago
Red Sox Boston Rays (wild card) Tampa Bay Yankees New York Blue Jays Toronto Orioles Baltimore
You know, I’m seriously tempted to drop the Yankees down below
ANCHOR BREWING’s been making a barleywine-styled ale called OLD FOGHORN for many years now; in fact common wisdom says they were the first brewer in the
Wednesday, April 01, 2009
I’ve been here at least three times before, but never since the dawn of Hedonist Beer Jive, so I’ve been unable to give you my patented, unique and quirky “take” on the place. Ah, but now I can. I have heard that the LA JOLLA BREW HOUSE has somewhat recently come under new ownership, and to that end, I was very pleasantly surprised to see that not only did they have 5 or 6 house beers, but they left open about 6 taps for guest beers. Not a bad selection, either. It has been a while since I’ve seen the outstanding AVERY/RUSSIAN RIVER team-up beer COLLABORATION, NOT LITIGATION on tap, so that was a natural first one for me to reach for. As I expected here in San Diego - the nadir of culture, taste & refined comportment here on the west coast - they served this exquisite Belgian-style ale in a Bud Light pint glass. Nice! They also took about five minutes getting the thing to me, as the barkeep was apparently very confused about the dense, foamy head on this beer. I had the feeling that this beer was being outsold by “blonde ale” and “beach-style lager” by about 5,000-to-1. Anyway, it is absolutely fantastic beer no matter how it’s poured for ya, and I heartily endorse it and applaud this place for bringing it in.
Next, I moved on to a couple of house beers. Their 9.5% DOUBLE IPA was said to be made “in the San Diego style”. If that means like Stone, Port, Alesmith, Ballast Point and whatnot – well, count me in. And you know what? It was really good. Very hoppy, with a distinct tingling buzz with every gulp. A little vanilla perhaps, compared to other monsters it’s competing with, but it didn’t stop me from liking it quite a bit. And did it EVER deliver a knockout blow. Wow. Served in a pint glass as well; after I finished this one I was all ready to start shouting and slurring about politics, sports and lingering family problems. Good times! 7/10.