Tuesday, April 27, 2010


Hey, I'm writing another beer blog these days called BEER SAMIZDAT - it's better than this one and is read by better-looking people. Come check that out and follow us on Twitter as well.

Click over to the our non-beer blog THE HEDONIST JIVE as well if you dare, which casts a net beyond craft beer into all sorts of personal obsessions – music, film, politics, baseball, naval-gazing and extreme narcissism. Bookmark http://www.hedonistjive.com/ and please visit often.

Monday, April 26, 2010


Let’s take a moment to give thanks and praise to the beers that rejoice and sing hosannas with the angels, shall we? Expanded from the Hedonist Beer Jive 75, let me present to you the HEDONIST BEER JIVE 95 – the ninety-five finest ales (and lagers!) to have ever passed my lips. There are multiple newcomers to the list – with THE BRUERY’s “Mischief” being the single greatest new beer to hit the hallowed rankings – and jeez, if we can only drink five more world-beating beers, we’ll make it all the way up to a big 100.

As we always like to say, start your shopping here and fill your basket with these gems. HBJ says you’ll be glad ya did.

1. BRASSERIE DE ROCHEFORT – Trappistes Rochefort 8 (Belgian Strong Dark Ale)
2. BRASSERIE DE L'ABBAYE DES ROCS - Triple Imperiale (Belgian Strong Dark Ale)
3. SOUTHERN TIER – Gemini (Double IPA)
4. DESCHUTES - The Abyss (Russian Imperial Stout)
5. UNIBROUE La Fin Du Monde (Belgian Strong Pale Ale)
6. THE BRUERY - Mischief (Belgian Strong Pale Ale)
7. MOYLAN’S Hopsickle (Double IPA)
8. BRASSERIE DE ROCHEFORT Trappistes Rochefort 6 (Belgian Strong Dark Ale)
9. BROOKLYN BREWING - Black Ops (Barrel-Aged Stout)
10. THREE FLOYDS - Alpha King (American Pale Ale)
11. LOST ABBEY Gift Of The Magi (Biere De Garde)
12. SIX POINT CRAFT ALES - Bengali Tiger (IPA)
13. LOST ABBEY 10 Commandments (Belgian Strong Dark Ale)
14. ST. BERNARDUS – Grotten Brown (Belgian Strong Dark Ale)
15. BROWERIJ VAN STEENBERGE – Monk’s Café Sour Flemish Ale (Flanders Oud Bruin)
16. LUCKY LABRADOR - Super Duper Dog (Double IPA)
17. RUSSIAN RIVER – Damnation (Belgian-Style Strong Golden Ale)
18. AVERY BREWING – The Reverend (Quadrupel)
19. MOONLIGHT – Reality Czeck (Czech Pilsner)
20. VICTORY BREWING – Wild Devil (Belgian IPA)
22. HACKER-PSCHORR – Dunkel Weiss (Dunkel Weizen)
23. DE STRUISE - Pannepot Old Fisherman's Ale (Quadrupel)
24. LOST ABBEY - Devotion Ale (Belgian-Style Blonde Ale)
25. CAPTAIN LAWRENCE - Captain's Reserve Imperial IPA (Double IPA)
27. SURLY - Furious (Imperial Red Ale)
28. MIKKELLER/BREWDOG - Devine Rebel (English Barleywine)
29. DARK HORSE - Tres Blueberry Stout (American Stout)
30. CAPTAIN LAWRENCE - St. Vincent's Dubbel (Dubbel)
31. BROOKLYN BREWING – Extra Brune (Flanders Oud Bruin)
32. GOUDEN CAROLUS – Ambrio (Belgian Strong Pale Ale)
33. THE BRUERY – Saison Rue (Saison)
34. DENNISON’S – Weizen (Hefeweizen)
35. BELL’S – Expedition Stout (Imperial Stout)
36. BROUWERIJ WESTVLETEREN – Trappist Westvleteren 12 (Quadrupel)
37. RUSSIAN RIVER – Blind Pig (IPA)
38. SMUTTYNOSE - Gravitation (Quadrupel)
39. 5 SEASONS BREWING – Venus (Witbier)
40. MARIN BREWING - Tripel Dipsea (Tripel)
42. RUSSIAN RIVER – Rejection (Belgian Black Ale)
43. UNIBROUE – Maudite (Belgian Strong Dark Ale)
44. DE PROEF – Zoetzuur Flemish Ale (Flanders Red Ale)
44. DRAKE’S – Denogginizer (Double IPA)
45. BEAR REPUBLIC - Racer 5 (IPA)
46. LOST ABBEY – Avant Garde (Biere De Garde)
47. SOUTHERN TIER - Heavy Weizen (Imperial Hefeweizen)
48. ST. BERNARDUS - Prior 8 (Dubbel)
49. TELEGRAPH BREWING – California Ale (Saison)
50. RUSSIAN RIVER - O.V.L. Stout (American Stout)
51. LOST ABBEY – Angel’s Share 2007 (Barleywine)
52. BROOKLYN BREWING – Local 1 (Belgian-Style Golden Ale)
53. BROWERIJ DE DOLLE – Oerbier (Belgian Strong Dark Ale)
54. BOULDER BEER – Hazed & Infused (IPA)
55. DOGFISH HEAD – 90-Minute IPA (IPA)
56. BRASSERIE DUPONT - Saison Dupont (Saison)
57. GREEN FLASH – Saison (Saison)
58. LOST ABBEY – Carnivale (Saison)
59. RUSSIAN RIVER – Redemption (Belgian-Style Pale Ale)
60. SIERRA NEVADA – Celebration Ale 2007 and 2008 (IPA)
61. HANDBRYGGERIET – Norwegian Wood (Smoked/Spiced Ale)
62. SOUTHERN TIER - Hoppe (Double IPA)
63. LAGUNITAS – Imperial Red (American Strong Ale)
64. 5 SEASONS BREWING - Dark White (Dark witbier)
65. TELEGRAPH BREWING – Golden Wheat (Wheat Beer)
66. BRASSERIE DE ROCHEFORT – Trappistes Rochefort 10 (Quadrupel)
67. THE BRUERY - Orchard White (Witbier)
68. DE PROEF – Kerstmutske (Christmas Ale)
69. ST. BERNARDUS – ABT 12 (Quadrupel)
70. SILVER CITY BREWERY – Fat (Scotch Ale)
71. TWO BROTHERS BREWING - Hop Juice (Double IPA)
72. BRASSERIE DUPONT – Foret (Saison)
73. SIERRA NEVADA – Torpedo Extra Ale (IPA)
74. NORTH COAST – La Merle (Saison)
75. RUSSIAN RIVER – Damnation, Batch 23 (Belgian-Style Strong Golden Ale)
76. RUSSIAN RIVER – Temptation (American Wild Ale)
78. LOST ABBEY - The Angel's Share 2009 (American Strong Ale)
79. SIERRA NEVADA/DOGFISH HEAD - Life & Limb (American Strong Ale)
80. SOUTHERN TIER - Oak-Aged Unearthly (Double IPA)
81. MASIA AGULLONS - Runa Ale (Brown Ale)
82. ELYSIAN/GREEN FLASH - The Red Queen (Saison)
83. MOONLIGHT – 2006 Toast Malt Liquor (American Amber/Red Lager)
84. AVERY BREWING – Fourteen (Belgian Strong Dark Ale)
85. IRON HORSE – Beer Shoppe Anniversary Ale (Double IPA)
86. NEW BELGIUM – Le Fleur Misseur (Belgian-Style Pale ale)
87. LAGUNITAS – Freak Out! (IPA)
88. FIRESTONE WALKER – 10 (Barleywine)
89. DOGFISH HEAD – Raison D’Extra 2005 (Belgian Strong Dark Ale)
90. DESCHUTES – 2006 Jubel Ale (Winter Warmer)
91. PORT BREWING – Hop Suey (Double IPA)
92. NORTH COAST – Old Stock 2004 (Old Ale)
93. DE PROEF & ALLAGASH – Les Deux Brasseuers (Belgian Strong Pale Ale)
94. AVERY - Fifteen (American Wild Ale)
95. SOUTHERN TIER - Iniquity (Double IPA)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


One of our favorite games here at the HBJ is "Belgian roulette", a game where you risk $5-$6 of your hard-earned money on a Belgian bottle you've never heard of nor have any idea what to expect. As we say in the trade, "Sometimes you win, sometime you lose". I remember the time I won - BIG - on a bottle of DE DOLLE OERBIER. What a night that was. It has ended up being one of our favorite beers of all time. We've had some mighty failures as well in this high-stakes game of Belgian roulette. This is the story of one of those failures.

I bought a bottle of DES GEANTS SAISON VOISIN because I like saisons, because I like beers from Belgium, and because I'm such an adventurous beer swashbuckler that I sometimes go off the hizzle and throw caution completely to the wind. But no, it didn't work out this time. SAISON VOISIN is an unfiltered, bottle refermented, 6% ABV saison. Unlike many saisons, this one's very spicy and biting, not the traditional farmhouse refresher of yore but something a little too intense & confrontational to be drunk in pursuit of mere post-work pleasure. It's an orange-colored, highly carbonated and somewhat bitter ale. It's actually quite "crisp" in a way that dries out the mouth, and even a little lager-ish. Like, weird, man. It takes a beautiful photo, that's for sure - this shot totally goes in the HBJ iPhone pictures hall of fame - but it shant be something I'll return to again. 5/10.

Monday, April 19, 2010


Earlier in the year it seemed nigh impossible that we’d ever get to try beers from Wisconsin-only brewery NEW GLARUS BREWING, they of the lofty reputation for making incredible fruit-packed and otherwise outstanding ales. Yet here we are in mid-April, writing about a fourth ingested beer from them, with a lone New Glarus beer left to go in the beer fridge to be thrown down the hatch on “one very special evening”. Like a Wednesday or something. Last week I decided to spend a few moments with their COFFEE STOUT. If you’ll allow for it, please spend another minute or so here scanning what I had to say about it.

Now don’t go mistaking this beer for one of the oily, monstrous imperial things that taste like the grounds of Peets’ dark espresso roast run through an acid bath. NEW GLARUS COFFEE STOUT’s a restrained, sweet young thing. Nice stickiness on the tongue, and smooooth like the Kenny G Christmas Album after a glass of eggnog. The coffee is present, as is a distant chocolate maltball flavor. The beer is without question very “ebony”, yet it’s a soft-focus sort of deal. The operative word is “silky”. This is a great thing in a stout, the other end of the imperial extreme. HBJ thinks it’s a really good workingman’s stout, and believes that you will enjoy it as well. Got any friends up near Badger country? Ask ‘em to send you one. 7.5/10.

Friday, April 16, 2010


“Beer journalism”. Now there’s an oxymoron, hunh? Well, as someone embedded on the beer-soaked “front lines” of “emerging media”, I think that those of us who write about beer are certainly ripe for mockery, myself included. I force myself to slog through innumerable blogs about my favorite liquid – the best of which are lined up on the right-hand side of this page. I subscribe to print magazines BEER ADVOCATE, DRAFT and ALL ABOUT BEER. I also pick up free papers THE CELEBRATOR, ALE STREET NEWS and NORTHWEST BREWING NEWS whenever I see them.

I understand there’s yet another new beer-themed glossy magazine called BEER CONNOISSEUR hitting the stands these days, and it’s one I’ve yet to pick up. Let’s hope they don’t run these hideously boring, overflogged beer stories into the ground the way the others have. Here they are for your groaning pleasure, The 5 Most Boring Topics in all of Beer Journalism:

1. “A tribute to craft brewing’s pioneers”. This is the most trite and stale of all beer magazine perennials. Everyone, but everyone, has penned their snore-inducing salute to Fritz Maytag or Jack McAuliffe or Jim Koch or that Sierra Nevada guy or the guy who started the Horse Brass Tavern or……OUCH. That was my head hitting the table. I swear I saw three of these articles just this month.

2. “Women brew beer, too”. Oh wow, that’s amazing. And some wear pink boots instead of black ones? Wow, that’s just like a girl, isn’t it? How can women brew beer when they can’t even vote? Oh wait, they’re allowed to vote now? Wait, you’re telling me they let them into the military these days? Well, shut my mouth. Maybe some of them even brew beer, too? Let’s write a 5-page piece on this phenomenon, just like every other magazine has!

3. “Cooking with beer”. Beer Advocate wastes four or more of their thin, scant pages every issue on recipes that no one ever cooks; recipes whose only unifying theme is that someone thinks they’ll be improved by mixing in a few ounces of beer into the kettle or pan. And it’s not just any beer – no, most specify that you need “1 bottle of Victory Hop Wallop” or “6 ounces of Lost Abbey Avant-Garde” in order to make the recipe a success - which I highly doubt. Other magazines have this as a running feature as well. Can we admit that no one except for gastronome alcoholics follow these?

4. “Budweiser, Miller and Coors are faceless corporations who don’t make beer that I like”. This is less an article/topic as it is an overplayed trope, one that shows up in countless articles and whinging about “Michelob Wheat” or “Budweiser Amber Bock” or anything that even remotely encroaches on craft beer’s precious territory. It just makes some people so……angry that the Bad Guys might try to mass-produce their swill in a form that might open up new markets – you know, like a profit-driven company might do. Honestly, why people pay any attention to these companies is beyond me.

5. “Beer is to be shared with friends”. This is a misty-eyed, maudlin staple of the columnists, who probably write these identical snoozer columns while drunk & alone at home. I can usually spot the retch-inducing, watery-eyed sentimentality in the column headline, but sometimes I’m fooled and my eyes travel down the page to a gagging pack of clichés about beer’s amazing ability to act as a social lubricant, how beer drinkers are the best damn group of humans on the planet, and honestly, if we’d all just grab a pint with our buddies more often, the planet would cool, war would end, and communities would be reborn. “Just as in Ireland, where the pub is actually the hub of social life in many towns”.

I recognize that I’m probably guilty of more than my share of hackneyed, clichéd writing – there’s no doubt that penning beer reviews can get a little, uh, samey after a while – yet I call upon the “beer journalists” of America and indeed the world to please retire each of these 5 topics, forthwith and immediately. Doing so will instantly elevate craft beer into Valhalla, and kill off the big evil beer corporations once and for all, upon whose grave you may dance while celebrating Fritz Maytag’s historic achievements.

Thursday, April 15, 2010


All I wanted was a Pepsi, just a Pepsi – No, all I really wanted was a refreshing adult beverage, preferably a nice hoppy pale ale or IPA or witbier – something to take the sweat off my brow and help lighten my loafers. I was in New York City last week, and they were having a heat wave. Yeah, in early April. It was the talk of the town, this 88-degree stretch of weather, and here I was in my suit coat, actin’ like a veritable man-in-the-monkey-suit, just wishing I could be sitting in The Ginger Man or the Rattle & Hum or wherever, drinking a cold-ish beer to cool off from off the corporate shenanigans. So after my work hijinks were finally completed, that’s what I did. I hoofed it over to THE GINGER MAN, and I scanned the beer list for something that would take the edge off before I met some friends at the New York Mets game in an hour. I wanted a pale ale. I ordered a DALE’S PALE ALE, from OSKAR BLUES BREWERY. It was to be the worst decision of my hot, uncomfortable day.

OSKAR BLUES are probably the most famous of the craft brewers who can their beers. If they weren’t the very first, they were one of the first. I have had their imperial red ale GORDON and am absolutely smitten by it. What’s the opposite of smitten? Smoted? That’s how I felt by DALE’S PALE ALE on draft. Positively smoted. It pours a translucent orange/brown. This beer is a very grainy, and yes, a very hoppy one, but like 6-year-olds respectively into Bakugans and Barbies, the two do not play together well. The grain taste is all-enveloping, like an improper mash that’s hurriedly been covered up by gallons of hops. Chalky. Like – gasp – aspirin, or that Melatonin I have to take sometimes to calm down. Not refreshing in the least – in fact, it was a bit of a chore to get through. It pains me still to know I turned down 50 other unknown beers on tap at the bar for this one. I found better beer at the ballpark later that night (holla for Goose Island 312 Wheat Beer, y’all!), and the only things that made it all forgettable were A.), the New York team lost the game (yessss!), and B.) I knew I’d get to savage the beer here at the HBJ. 4.5/10.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Howdy. Been a while since I rapped at ya - for me, anyway. This is the first five minutes I've had free to pontificate all week. I'm still drinkin', though.

Well what in tarnation is this? Is it a “black IPA”? An imperial “IBA”? A simple black ale? Confound it, what SOUTHERN TIER INIQUITY is is another damn great beer from one of my Top 5 favorite brewers in the USA. Again and again I am amazed by their brewing prowess, and practically everything they touch on the “imperial” side of things is spun into liquid gold. Here’s another case in point, sent to me by MCM in our somewhat recent east coast/west coast beer-trading throwdown.

INIQUITY is a dark black India Pale Ale, or so I reckon. That’s what they’re calling it. It’s really not all that hopped out – I believe it’s actually a lot more sweet & creamy than you’d find in any typical IPA. And oh yeah, it’s totally friggin' black and stuff, and tops out with a very small head of foam. This thing really coats the tongue and the top of the mouth with roasted malts, creamy fruits, 9% worth of alcohol, and a little bit of citrus hops. If you were blindfolded, the chances that you’d peg it as anything in the IPA realm are quite small, and even now I think there’s a bit of marketing trickery afoot. Yet there’s no mistaking how fantastic this beer is, and at the risk of sounding redundant, “it’s yet another superb ale from the magicians who conjure beer alchemy all day at Southern Tier Brewing”. 8.5/10.

Friday, April 09, 2010


Here we have one of the legendary ones, a beer currently ranked #43 on the people-powered “Beer Advocate Top 100 beers on planet earth”, and one that I had to trade for to get. Interestingly, the last ten reviews all savaged it, something you don’t see too often on the groupthink of Beer Advocate. TROEGS NUGGET NECTAR features an aggressive drawing of a hop cone that looks like a hand grenade – watch out, sissies, this is going to be a bitter ride.

Do any of you guys pant for “lacing on the glass”? Well then do I have a beer for you. This thing lets its foam crawl up and down the sides of your chalice for the duration of your time with it – not exactly noteworthy to me, but it sure is purty. NUGGET NECTAR is one zesty, hoppy ale. I can taste the amber malts, and the three different types of hops that went into it. It’s not a raw blast of bitterness, and only once it has sufficiently warmed does it really start tasting like an aggressively-hopped beer. There is a fruit backbone to it, perhaps apricot, that mixes in well with the pineyness and the 93 IBU hops. I’d only had two TROEGS beers to date, and one was the DREAMWEAVER WHEAT that I rated an 8/10 – this one comes close, and we’ll clock it as a very respectable 7.5/10.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010


I’m reporting to you live this morning from New York City, where I arrived last night for business after doing similar work in Kansas City. Upon arrival yesterday evening, I couldn’t shake that New York feelin’ – also famously known as the “New York State of Mind” – and decided to head out of my hotel for a nightcap just to welcome myself and send me off to a good slumber. And yet, who would have known that the nearby RATTLE & HUM bar – which we “famously” wrote up a few months ago in this post – would be holding HARPOON BREWING NIGHT the very same night I sauntered in? Holy mackerel and bless my soul. Shades of the lost mid-week night spend in Oakland during GRAND TETON BREWING night last month.

RATTLE & HUM has a superlative beer selection, and I could have ignored the Harpoon hullabaloo and gone with all sorts of weirdo offerings from Bear Republic, Green Flash, Nebraska Brewing (!) and others. But HARPOON, they’re a brewer I don’t know that much about. Their web site features really fit, healthy-looking long-distance bike racers, because all the people I see sucking down pints of craft beer in bars look exactly like that. They’re big among New Englanders, likely because they’re based in Boston. When I’ve traveled out east, I’ve seen their beers in just about every store, and some of their “Leviathan Series” big bombers have caught my eye. They pulled out all the kegs on Harpoon Night and said “GO” – there were a good 12 or more different Harpoons on tap, including just about all of these 9%-and-up Leviathan beers. I didn’t squander my time with any 5% pantywaisters and headed right for the rare and the odd, like these:

HARPOON LEVIATHAN IMPERIAL RED – Could there be a style more suited to my personal palate than the imperial red, that rich collection of caramel malts paired with tongue-bruising bitter hops? I would answer in the negative. This is a spicy one, a rich red ale with sharp hops. It’s made from 7 different malts and 4 different hops, and there is indeed a lot going on here. I get a very dry hop taste, along with caramel and darker fruits. Fairly intense stuff, at 9.2% ABV, and with a long, lingering aftertaste. Very solid. 7/10.

HARPOON LEVIATHAN SAISON ROYALE – Even better was the SAISON ROYALE, an amped-up farmhouse beer that I found to be exceptionally fruity. It is pictured above. I got a strong whiff of stone fruits (yeah, I’m the dork sniffin’ his beer in the corner when you’re not looking), and then a big blast of peach, honey and apricot flavor. Not in a cloying, “fruit beer” sort of way, but with that rustic earthiness that characterizes the saison. This is not a dry beer, however. The 9% alcohol packs a little heat, and though this supposedly was leavened with white pepper and rosemary, I’m thinking they gave me the peach-n-honey version instead. Loved it, and I can now successfully make something of a case for these guys as a strong & successful brewer of interesting ales. 8/10.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010


This is a theoretically "big" beer from a Petaluma, CA brewer who probably deserve a bit more respect than they typically get - they've earned mine in spades on the basis of beers like IMPERIAL RED, MAXIMUS, their PILS, etc.. I'm not convinced respect is necessarily earned on this one, however. LAGUNITAS BROWN SHUGGA is nearly 10% in alcohol, and fits into no true discernable style. "Strong ale" is what these boys are going for, and in terms of approachability and drinkability, they've done very well for themselves.

BROWN SHUGGA's made with brown cane sugar (hence the name, you know), and I can taste that along with molasses and something vaguely smokey, One has to strain to pluck these tastes out of the mix - it's just not that flavorful of a beer, you know? It's still and silent, with very little head to speak of after the initial pour. Not a heavy beer, but likely a dangerous one. I've had better offerings from the gang at Lagunitas, and just picked up a bomber of their "Roger Wilco Foxtrot" or whatever it's called and will share the results of said beer in the near future. Meanwhile, Brown Shugga = 6/10.

Friday, April 02, 2010


NEW GLARUS BREWING from New Glarus, WI have made their reputation both in and outside of their home state with these fruit-infused, Belgian-style ales that I’d been dying to try. I’ve been to 41 of the 50 states in the Union in my lifetime, but Wisconsin isn’t one of them, and it’s the only one in which you can buy New Glarus beer. Unless, of course, you know good people who are willing to ship you some, as I now do. WISCONSIN BELGIAN RED is an odd but pleasurable one. Seriously, if you presented this to me as “cherry soda”, I would have believed you, and probably told you “it tastes a little like beer, though”. Because it has instead been presented to me as a cherry-infused beer, I’m comfortable pronouncing it as more than a little reminiscent of cherry soda.

NEW GLARUS WISCONSIN BELGIAN RED is highly, highly carbonated, and quite sweet to boot. The “Belgian” in the name led me to believe that this might have an acidic or sour taste to it, but I reckon they’ve saved that flavor profile for their RASPBERRY TART ale, a bottle of which I also have at home for TBD consumption. I’m detecting a little bit of hops in this beer, and a faint hint of woodiness that slightly takes the sweetness down a notch – which is good. Another great thing about this one is that you just know you’re drinking real cherries, not the crap that would come in a cherry soda. And yet I’m not sure I dig it as much as others do – nor even quite as much as I did the NEW GLARUS CHERRY STOUT I reviewed a couple of weeks ago. I’m the guy who’s usually defending fruit beers from the skeptical hoards, and this is supposed to be one of the great ones, but the best I can muster up for it is a 6.5/10.

Thursday, April 01, 2010


My wife’s part of a category of vegetarians that are very few in number: “fowletarians”; i.e. people who are pretty much vegetarian most of the time, except when they’re eating chicken or turkey. Since her consumption of fowl is actually quite limited, and is usually undertaken at Thai or Vietnamese restaurants or on Thanksgiving, we eat at a lot of vegetarian places when we go out so she can actually enjoy herself. Me, I’m very cool with vegetarian food as long as it doesn’t get to be my lifestyle, you know what I mean? We went to a fantastic, semi-legendary San Francisco vegetarian restaurant this past weekend called GREENS, and the food is so good and so rich you wouldn’t even know there wasn’t animal flesh being served. Oh, and they serve a rich variety of small-brewer beers, most of them organic, which is what I’d like to discuss today.

I looked through my older reviews and found a little bit of hostility in the past toward organic beer – not simply because they were organic, but because they were mostly mediocre-to-awful. There was one huge exception – MAD RIVER BREWING’s SCOTCH PORTER, and since GREENS had that on the menu, that’s what I went for right away. Here’s what I had to say about it last time, which I emphatically second now that I’ve had it twice:

An easy-drinking yet still complex amber-colored scotch ale, with a porter/coffee taste. The malts are very rich and there’s a lingering smokiness to it. It has all the taste and characteristics of the best scotch/Scottish ales, with a little bit of smooth English porter sneaking in behind it. Totally worth seeking out in a big way. 8.5/10.

I had another beer round left in the chamber, so this time I went for BUTTE CREEK ORGANIC IPA, forgetting that I’d had it back in 2007 once before and rated it a 7/10. I did the same this time, which says something about the beer’s and my own reviewing consistency, I guess. This is a very solid and “normalized” IPA – clear pouring, a little piney, refreshing and by no means a big hoppy monster. It’s what they used to call an IPA before the style got redefined (for the better) the past 5-6 years. I’ll go with a 7/10 again as well, and I feel comfortable announcing that these are “probably” two of the best organic brews in the USA.