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January Beer Club

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Just in the nick of time. This was scheduled for earlier in the month but got delayed due to snow and other such things. But we persevered, and Beer club marched on. For the unawares, beer club is a gathering of beer minded folks from my work, who get together once a month at a local BYOB for beverages and fun.

January Beer Club 2014
(Click for larger version)

For the sake of posterity, some thoughts on each beer are below. As per usual, these are off the cuff responses with no formal notes, so they're basically useless for you, but I'm including them anyway because why should I care what you think of my drunken recollections of these beers? In order of drinking (and not in the order pictured above, and there are definitely a couple beers not pictured at all because I took the picture early and didn't feel like updating it later and why are you so confrontational about this, it's just a thing, and fine, you want to fight about it? Let's do this thing. Or not. Whatever. What were we talking about?)

  • Stone Double Bastard - Probably not the best beer to start off a tasting with, but it worked just fine, and it was as good as I remember. Which is to say, it's good, but not mind blowing. B+
  • Unibroue Éphémère - This is not as apple-flavored as I remember, though that character is still fully present in the beer, which is a pretty solid Belgian Wit style affair and would make a great summer beer.
  • Boxcar CarKnocker IPA - The uber local (i.e. within a couple miles of my house) brewery's take on a standard IPA, it's decent, but not quite as good as their original (kinda, sorta Belgian style) IPA. B-
  • DC Brau The Corruption - A beer I reviewed in more detail just yesterday.
  • Bell's Midwestern Pale Ale - A fine offering, but perhaps sampled too late in the the night, as it sorta suffered in comparison to the other IPAs. B-
  • Boxcar Belgian Tripel - One of uber-local Boxcar's best beers, it's still a pretty straightforward Belgian style tripel. Along those lines, it's pretty good. Not a top tier effort, but quite nice. B+
  • Element Brewing Dark Element - A rather nice India Black Ale (or whatever you want to call that hoppy stout style), this sucker had just a hint of roast, a nice malt backbone, and plenty of dank, piney, resinous hops. One of the best of the night. A-
  • Ken's Homebrewed Hybrid Thingy - A sorta beer/wine/mead hybrid, this was made with some barley, copious amounts of honey, and muscat grapes. This is some crazy Dogfish-head style shit, but it actually worked pretty darn well. Clocking in at around 10% ABV, this thing didn't feel like it at all, making it dangerously easy to drink. B
  • Kaedrin Bomb and Grapnel (Blend) - This is the version that contains a blend of straight RIS and Bourbon Oaked RIS. It turned out pretty darn well, though the oak character is a bit muted here. I don't know that I'd be able to pick it out blind, but regardless, it turned out pretty well and everyone seemed to enjoy it. Look for a triple feature (with all the variants) soon. I'll give it a B+ for now, though it could easily be higher.
  • Spring House Satan's Bake Sale Mint Chocolate Chip Stout - One of my contributions, this was a fascinating sorta Girl Scout Thin Mint beer. Not sure if I would have reacted so positively if I drank the whole thing by myself, but it's a perfect beer for the setting. The mint chocolate chip character comes through strong, but not in an overpowering way. Very nice, and I enjoyed muchly. B+
  • Boulevard and Sierra Nevada Terra Incognita - A whiskey barrel aged beer that shows off that character pretty well. I still think that stouts and barleywines work better on that front, but this was certainly a fine effort. B
And that just about covers it. Good times had by all, and I'm already looking forward to the next installment (which should be sooner, rather than later... hopefully!)

Choose Your Own Adventure Beer Reviews

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After wandering the forest for hours, you are relieved to come to a white house. The doors are locked, but as you circled the structure, you find a large window ajar. Clouds cover the sky and you can feel a rapid decrease in pressure in your bones. It is going to rain. Flashes of lightning illuminated the sky in the distance, followed by peals of rumbling thunder. Throwing caution to the wind, you pry the window wide enough to allow entrance.

You are in a kitchen. A table seems to have been used recently for the preparation of food. No food remains, but an unopened brown bottle adorned with a pictogram of a combined "O" and "C" can be seen. A rack of stemmed, curvy glasses hangs above the table. Some sacks smelling faintly of pepper are piled in a corner of the room. A narrow passage leads to the west, and a dark staircase can be seen leading upward. A dark chimney leads down. You hear stirrings of movement coming from the chimney.

Lightning flashes and the accompanying thunder follows quickly. Outside, rain has begun to fall. Your growling stomach echoes the thunder. What to do?

To sit at the table and drink the bottle, click here.

To take the passage to the west, click here.

To climb the stairs, click here.

To explore the chimney, click here.


Next Section


You have chosen to drink the unopened brown bottle.

You sit at the table, glad to be off your feet after the long trek through the forest. You examine the bottle more closely. Otter Creek 20th Anniversary Ale. Your eyes widen. You remember hearing of the war up in the northern territory of Vermont in which a race of ferocious otters purged humans from their land. No one is welcome there, but these otters are known as craftsmen, and have taken to exporting their beer. It is rare indeed that such a brew would make its way this far South:

Otter Creek 20th Anniversary

Otter Creek 20th Anniversary Ale - Pours a dark brown color with almost no head at all, just a little ring around the edge of the glass. Smells of rich malts, very much like a Scotch Ale, with some booziness and maybe even hops also apparent. The taste starts very sweet, followed by booze in the middle and more booze in the finish. It's... boozy! But lots of malt character too, maybe a little hop bitterness also hanging around, but just enough to balance out the sweetness. The mouthfeel is strong with a little heat from that booze, not to mention a certain stickiness, especially in the finish. Again, this reminds me of a souped up Scotch Ale, ton of malt character, lots of booze. A solid sipping beer, worth drinking, but not really lighting the world on fire. B

Beer Nerd Details: 12% ABV bottled (12 oz). Drank out of a snifter on 7/7/12.

Refreshed by the beer, you consider your other options.

Choose another path.


Next Section


You have chosen to take the western passage.

You walk through a long hallway that turns to the right, leading into a large room housing many boxes, barrels, and what looks like a laboratory. Lots of tubes, beakers, open flames, boiling liquids, and jars filled with fruits and spices populate a large table on one side of the room. Boxes of bottles, all adorned with a railroad track logo, line the wall on the other side of the room. You recognize the logo as that of the Boxcar Brewery, a business located just a mile or two away from your home! Overjoyed at the prospect that you are no longer lost, you quickly snap up a bottle and gulp it down:

Boxcar Mango Ginger IPA

Boxcar Mango Ginger IPA - I have to admit that Boxcar's regular "IPA" has grown on me. Sure, it doesn't feel like an IPA at all, but as Belgian style pale ales go, it's solid stuff, and fresher bottles do have a really nice (if unusual) hop presence. Pours a golden orangish color with a finger of medium bubbled head. Smells strongly of that ginger, along with some fruity hops, perhaps augmented by the mango. These are fruity hops, but not typical grapefruit and pine, and they're not as strong as you'd expect in an IPA. The taste is sweet, with lots of ginger balancing it out and just a little in the way of hop fruitiness (again, perhaps augmented by the mango). Like the regular Boxcar IPA, there's not much bitterness here, but the mango ginger adjuncts seemed to overwhelm any Belgian character. The mouthfeel retains that effervescent, highly carbonated Belgian pale feel to it. The spices keep it from being something to gulp down, but it's decent stuff. Overall, this is a reallly strange beer. Like the regular Boxcar IPA, this is certainly far away from your typical IPA (I would never in a million years have labeled this as such in a blind tasting), and even when it comes to Belgian pale ales, this is an odd duck. None of which makes it inherently bad, it's just hard to wrap my head around... and to be honest, ginger is not my favorite spice in beer. A solid beer, a strange change of pace, well worth trying, but I think I'd rather have one of their regular IPAs than this... B-

Beer Nerd Details:7% ABV bottled (12 oz). Drank out of a tulip glass on 7/29/12.

Alas, the room seems to be a dead end.

Choose another path.


Next Section


You have chosen to climb the stairs.

The stairs are steep and tiring, but you can see a mesmerizing glow ahead that keeps you climbing. You reach the top and enter a large, bright room. As you enter, the room becomes even more luminous, almost blinding you. Indeed, no exits seem visible anymore, even from whence you came. In front of you is an old man armored in chain mail with a large cloth cloak displaying the markings of a Crusader. You are surrounded by a vast array of chalices, many sizes, many shapes, some gold, some silver, some clear, but they all glitter with potential. The knight selects three and places them on the alter in front of you.

The knight simply says "To escape this place, you must choose," and waves his hand at the alter.

There are three glasses in front of you, one goblet, one brandy snifter, and one plain pint glass. They are all filled with liquids of varying degrees of darkness.

To drink from the goblet, click here.

To drink from the brandy snifter, click here.

To drink from the plain pint glass, click here.


Next Section


You have chosen to drink from the goblet.

You pick up the goblet and drink deeply. Pleased with the taste, you look to the knight, who grins and says "You have chosen... wisely."

Val-Dieu Brune

Val-Dieu Brune - I've actually seen this beer many times before, but the name Val-Dieu just doesn't inspire much confidence (sounds like it would be cheap, "value" beer from Belgium). That's completely superficial though, and it turns out that this is a brewery with a decent enough reputation... Plus, as we frequently say here at Kaedrin, it's what's inside the bottle that counts: Pours a clearish dark brown color with beautiful amber highlights and a finger of deep tan head. Smells very nice, biscuity Belgian yeast with a hint of spice, maybe some dark crystal malt aromas. Taste is sweet, that dark, toasted crystal malt character coming through loud and clear, maybe even a small amount of straight up roasted malt, and of course, that bready, spicy Belgian yeast. Mouthfeel is surprisingly smooth, well carbonated yet very tight, with a pleasant dryness in the finish. Alcohol is well hidden, though I did get a bit of a warming effect... perhaps because I drank rather quickly... I've been craving a dubbel recently, and this hit the spot pretty well. Not quite a top-tier dubbel, still very nice. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 8% ABV bottled (11.2 oz). Drank out of a goblet on 7/18/12.

As you finish the goblet, you notice that the room has become completely saturated in light. Your eyes are overwhelmed by the white light, but soon your vision comes back. You are standing about a hundred yards from the house. It has stopped raining. There is a road in front of you, and you quickly recognize the way home. Success!


Next Section


You have chosen to drink from the brandy snifter.

You pick up the snifter, give it a whiff, and sample some of the brew. You look to the knight for validation, and he shrugs and says "Eh... good enough."

Lagunitas Undercover Investigation Shut-Down Ale

Lagunitas Undercover Investigation Shut-down Ale - Apparently this beer was brewed in honor of a 20 day suspension imposed on the brewery by overzealous coppers who sent people undercover to discover how much pot the Lagunitas boys were smoking (apparently a lot). I guess they couldn't convince the police that they were actually just smoking hops. Anywho, it pours a clear dark golden amber brown color with a finger of whitish head. Smells wonderful. Sweet, juicy pineapple aromas along with something else I can't quite identify. I could just sit here sniffing this all night. The taste seems comparatively muddled. Very sweet, tons of flavorful hop citrus character, a hint of darker malts (maybe even some roast), and quite a bitter finish for such a high ABV beer. That bitterness and roast character lingers in the aftertaste. Mouthfeel is relatively heavy, ample but tight carbonation, actually goes down easier than you'd think. Overall, this is a strange one. It's not quite gelling for me, but it's a complex and enjoyable enough brew. B

Beer Nerd Details: 9.7% ABV bottled (12 oz). Drank out of a snifter on 7/14/12.

A blinding light appears on the far side of the room, then subsides, revealing a door. You bid the knight good evening and open the door, finding youself at a road leading into your hometown. It's still raining lightly, but life is good. Success!


Next Section


You have chosen to drink from the pint glass.

You observe that the liquid is a clear golden color with some fluffy white head. The aroma is slightly skunky, but you drink it anyway. It's so very cold that you don't notice much at first, but it feels sorta flabby and bland. As it warms, a well-rounded skunkiness dominates the palate. You haven't drank much of it, but you've realized your mistake too late. You look over at the knight, who frowns and says "You have chosen... poorly."

He reveals that the beer is, in fact, Miller Genuine Draft. While your body physically feels ok, you can feel your soul being diminished. Soon, you collapse to the floor. Alive, breathing, but completely inert. As your soul dissipates, your body quickly ages, decomposing into dust in mere seconds.

You have died! Go back and choose another beer.


Next Section


You have chosen to explore the chimney.

As you approach the chimney, the noises you heard earlier begin to intensify. The chimney has quite a wide opening, such that you are able to enter. When you look up, you can see darkness, occasionally illuminated by lighting overhead. This is a most unusual structure, and after further examination, you find that the wall is carved with regularly spaced grooves. It's a ladder!

Visions of hidden treasure fill your head as you quickly mount the ladder and begin to descend. The noises you heard earlier conspicuously disappear, but you're too excited to notice. As you progress, darkness seeps in around you. The light from the kitchen above is becoming dimmer, but it feels like you've almost reached bottom.

A scraping sound of stone against stone sounds out from above. The light from the kitchen completely disappears as you are plunged into darkness. Startled, you miss the next ladder rung and fall backwards. Fortunately, you really were close to the bottom, and your fall is cushioned by burlap bags smelling of peppers.

It is pitch black. You stand up and dust yourself off. You feel a sinister, lurking presence nearby. The silence is disturbing, but not as disturbing as the sounds you now hear.

You have been eaten by a Grue. Its insatiable appetite craves strong flavors, such as the hot peppers from the burlap sacks. It finds you somewhat bland tasting, but it washes you down with a bottle of Rodenbach Classic.

Rodenbach Classic

Rodenbach Classic - Pours a dark amber color with a finger of thick tan head. Smells of wine and vinegar, that twang that indicates sourness, and maybe some bready yeastiness too. The vinous character hits pretty quickly in the taste, light on the tangy sourness, followed by some malt character. The grue gets much less oak character from this than from the Grand Cru, but there's still a complexity that is coming from that small, oak aged portion. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, well carbonated, and the sourness keeps it light. Overall, a very good beer and it certainly spiced up the grue's meal, but the Grand Cru is clearly superior. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 5.2% ABV bottled (11.2 oz). Drank out of a tulip glass on 7/14/12.

You have died! Go back and choose another path.


Next Section


Well, that's one way to catch up on reviews, I guess. Not that I don't have plenty of tasting notes still to be posted, but still. Making progress here, and sometimes it's fun to liven things up with a post like this. Also, sorry for the lack of an MGD picture, but I swear to you, I was handed a clear glass bottle of the stuff recently and it was, in fact, skunked and disgusting stuff. I know some folks don't mind that brew, but even among macros, MGD is foul.

I'll be traveling later this week, but a few posts will make it out if I can manage to click the "Publish" button on my phone, assuming I'm able to get a signal where I'm going.

Febrewary Beer Club

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Tonight was beer club, a meeting of beer minded individuals from my work who get together for a meal and lots-o-beer once a month. An interesting turnout this month, as a few stalwarts were absent, but new attendees picked up the slack. This time around, we visited a Mexican BYOB with quite the ostentatious decor:

February Beer Club
(Click for bigger image)

Phew, that place has some brightly colored furniture. But amazing salsa and good food too. For the sake of posterity, some thoughts on each beer we tried are below. As usual, conditions were not ideal, so you can and should be skeptical of my notes. In order of drinking (not in order of the picture above):

  • Lagunitas Hairy Eyeball Ale - Wow, very rich malt flavors here, like a Scotch ale, but with something more. I got a distinct barrel aged character out of it, though this not one of those versions (apparently there are bourbon, port or brandy barrel aged versions, which I'd love to try). Fantastic beer, got the night going in style, though it may have set the bar unreasonably high for the following beers. I'd love to get me some more of this. A candidate for best of the night. A-
  • Appalachian Jolly Scot Scottish Ale - A somewhat local PA beer, this is another malt-forward ale that, unfortunately, didn't stand up too well to the Hairy Eyeball. It was fine, to be sure, and I'd probably really enjoy one of these by itself, but it came off as being a biton the thin side after the rich flavors of the Hairy Eyeball. B
  • Blue Moon Belgian White - I know, it's brewed by Coors, but hey, it actually worked really well at this point in the night. After two malt forward beers, it was a really refreshing change of pace, and I honestly have no problem with this beer anyway. Obviously not something I would ever go out of my way for, but a lot of places that only stock macros will have this on tap, and it's actually a nice beer. No, it won't melt your face, but it's a good gateway beer. Lots of wheat and citrus, it's refreshing and made for a nice palate cleanser tonight. B
  • Tommyknocker Imperial Nut Brown Ale - Big brown ale brewed with Maple Syrup, you do get that character coming through pretty strongly here. A big, rich ale, no real hop presence, but lots of malts and that maple syrup adds a nice richness to the proceedings. Very well done, and another candidate for best of the night. A-
  • Sierra Nevada Ruthless Rye IPA - Well hopped (citrus and a little pine), plenty of balancing malts, and some of that distinctive rye character (though I never got the full-on rye bread character people seem to talk about). It didn't blow my mind, but a very solid beer that I could probably drink often. B+
  • St. Bernardus Prior 8 - Not pictured (late arrival), but it's a classic. Already reviewed here.
  • Southern Tier Creme Brulee (Imperial Milk Stout) - Another beer I reviewed a while back, this is one of the more interesting beers of the night. Massive aroma, intense flavors of chocolate, caramel, vanilla, maybe even some coffee. I could just sniff this stuff all night. Great stuff, maybe even a little better than I remember (though I think my chief complaint last time was that it's a bit too sweet to drink a whole bottle). A strange beer because I wouldn't call it one of my favorites, but it's so distinctive and interesting that I'd highly recommend it to just about anyone. A great dessert beer.
  • Dominion Ale - Any beer that follows the intense flavors and aroma of Creme Brulee was probably doomed to failure, and this turned out to be a rather standard English Pale Ale, a style I'm coming to dislike quite a bit these days. I always feel like there are buttery off flavors in these beers, and this one is no exception. I even threw in a small slice of orange, which helped mellow it out a bit, but blegh. Not a fan of this beer. D
  • Kaedrin Christmas Ale - My homebrewed winter warmer style beer (a kinda spiced red ale), this thing has to be my best beer yet. Very nice spicy aroma, picking up lots of that cinnamon and clove, tastes quite nice, almost creamy mouthfeel. I really hope this wasn't some sort of fluke. I should really do a recap of all my homebrews at some point on the blog, so no rating for now, but I would seriously put this up against any of the winter warmer style beers I've had over the past couple years.
  • Boxcar Brewing A Long Winter's Night - This is probably as local as I can get. The (tiny) brewery was literally a few blocks away from where we were tonight (and this limited edition brew doesn't even warrant a page on BA, apparently). This winter ale was very interesting. I didn't get a lot of spice or anything out of it, but it was a very nice cloudy brown color with... it's hard to describe. Roasted chocolate? But not at all like a stout. More like a brown ale, but with no coffee and some chocolatey overtones (to be honest, it's very much like their regular brown ale, but perhaps less nutty). Very solid beer. B
All in all, a pretty great night! We didn't manage to get to all the beers in the picture, though I ended up taking a can of pale ale home with me, so perhaps a review of that in the coming weeks... That's all for now.

Double Feature: Documenting IPAs

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I recently lamented my lack of double feature posts, a fault more of circumstance than anything else. I've been drinking more of a variety (which does not always lend itself to the comparative nature of double features), and some styles just don't lend themselves to this type of post. One style that's always been a boon to double features is the IPA. It's a style of tremendous variety, yet you can often come away from drinking one particular example feeling that it tasted kinda the same as any other IPA. So pitting two examples of the style against one another and comparing the differences has always been illuminating. This double feature was a bit odd, for a few reasons. By total coincidence, they were both 7.2% ABV, lending a nice sense of stability to the proceedings. But then, one of the beers tasted nothing like an IPA, despite being labeled as such.

To match with my beers, I undertook a filmic double feature of two Errol Morris documentaries. Gates of Heaven was Morris's first film, and it's one of those documentaries that proves that you can make almost any subject interesting. It follows the ins-and-outs of pet cemeteries, including the folks that run them and the people who have opted to bury their pets there. It's not quite riveting, and there is a sorta low-budget, bare-bones vibe to the production, but Morris is able to glean a lot of interesting stuff from an obscure subject. Morris' latest film is Tabloid, a bizarre tale of a former beauty queen who is charged with kidnapping a Mormon missionary. It's an amazing story, pure tabloid gold, but told in a way that made me think a lot about the nature of media and how stories can unfold in the news. I won't ruin it, but there are many revelations and the old British tabloid reporters are an absolute riot (one of them particularly loves the phrase "spread eagle", even verbing it at one point). Certainly one of the best films of 2011 (so far) and highly recommended. Now, onto the beers:

Troegs Scratch 49

Tröegs Scratch Beer 49 (Fresh Hop IPA) - This is from Tröegs's experimental series of small batches where they are able to play with strange ingredients or non-traditional brewing techniques. In this particular case, we've got a Fresh Hop IPA. Also known as a Wet Hop beer, this is basically a style that utilizes hops that were picked within 24 hours of brewing the beer. Most hops are dried, concentrating and preserving the various flavors and aromas. They're often processed even further into pellets or plugs, which generally helps preserve their potency. But a lot of breweries will ask their local hop providers for some fresh hops so that they can brew something with them, and thus we get fresh hop beers. They're also called wet hop beers because their water content is 80-90% of their total weight (these will go bad if you don't dry them out or use them right away). I've actually had a few fresh hop beers this year, and there is something different about them, though I'm not entirely sure I could pick them out of a lineup.

This one pours a clear golden color with a finger of white head. Smells fantastic. Very citrusy sweet, with a twang of something else in there. Perhaps an earthy herbal or medicinal aroma, but in a good way, and it becomes more prominent as the beer warms up. Whatever it is, it comes out in full force in the taste. Much less citrus in the taste, which heavily favors an earthy or maybe grassy bitterness, especially in the finish and aftertaste. Mouthfeel is somewhere around light or medium body. Just enough body that it isn't quite quenching, but not so much as to be a heavy sipper either. Overall, a decent beer. Nothing I'd go crazy for, but it is very different from your typical IPA, which is certainly a plus. B

Beer Nerd Details: 7.2% ABV bottled (12 oz). Drank out of a tulip glass on 11/4/11.

A solid beer, but like a lot of offerings from Tröegs, it didn't blow me away. I thus turned to my local, hometown brewers' latest creation:

Boxcar India Pale Ale

Boxcar Brewing India Pale Ale - Pours a darkish golden orange color with a finger or so of bubbly white head. Aroma is musty and just a bit spicy (you can really tell they used a Belgian yeast with this), with not very much of an earthy hop aroma and maybe just a hint of citrus (but you have to look for it). Taste is very sweet and spicy, with a little fruitiness and a nice dry finish. Again, very little hop character or bitterness here, at least, nothing like an IPA. Mouthfeel is quite nice, very well carbonated, a little of that harsh Belgian feel (which I always enjoy). Overall, it's a very nice beer, but it's not really an IPA, which makes it hard to rate. Ultimately, I really enjoyed it, so I'll give it a B, but it should probably be marketed as more of a Belgian Pale Ale (or even a Belgian Strong Pale)...

Beer Nerd Details: 7.2% ABV bottled (12 oz). Drank out of a tulip glass on 11/4/11.

The Boxcar beer kinda threw me for a loop. I feel like the lone review on Beer Advocate is pretty unfair, as it's a D+. When you read the review, it seems he's docking points because it's not really an IPA. It's a fair criticism, but then the rating says under it "Avoid", which is pretty unfair, as it's a pretty good beer. I agree that it's not really an IPA, but I don't really know how that should play into its rating. It seems more like a criticism of the branding or marketing of the beer than the beer itself. But on the other hand, it's branded/marketed wrong! Weird. I suppose I should also disclose that this is an uber-local brewery (right down the street from me, basically in the dude's garage), and I'm a total homer, so I'm inclined to cut them some slack. But I suppose if you're really looking forward to an IPA and you open this, you'd be in for a big surprise. What say you?

Happy Hour

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The hour so happy it lasts 5 hours! Usually bars around here have a handful of craft taps to go along with the usual macros, but tonight, I went to a place that unexpectedly had a huge selection of big craft beers. I wasn't expecting it at all, but when I arrived, someone handed me the beer menu (the fact that there's a beer menu in itself is pretty awesome) and scanning through it I saw a few beers I didn't recognize (always an interesting venture) along with some heavyweights like The Bruery (rarely seen around here), Lagunitas, and some other worthy beers. Good times. Here's what I had:

  • Bavarian Barbarian Grumpy Pumpkin - Well, most pumpkin beers tend to be on the lighter side, but this marks the second time in a few days in which I've had a dark pumpkin ale. This time it's more of a pumpkin porter, and it was a very solid beer (not quite as good as the imperial pumpkin stout we had at the most recent beer club). Very muddy brown color here, with almost no head. Lots of pumpkin pie spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, etc...), but it doesn't overpower the typical dark beer flavors as well. This wasn't quite as well matched as the Cape Ann Fisherman's Imperial Pumpkin Stout I had earlier this week, but it's along similar lines. B+ (Beer Nerd Details: 9% ABV on tap (12 oz). Drank out of a snifter.)
  • Lagunitas A Little Sumpin' Wild Ale - I wasn't sure what to expect out of this one. The description on the menu talked a lot about Belgian characteristics, but I would have called it more of a DIPA or Imperial Red than a Belgian Pale Ale. That being said, there is a hint of that Belgian yeast in the taste, enough to differentiate this from the throngs of other hoppy beers.


    Lagunitas A Little Sumpin Wild

    But the hops are really taking center stage here. Filled with pine and resin flavors, with a full body and a sticky finish, it was quite a beer. I suppose it's not a super bitter beer, though it's clearly there. Once again, I find myself resolving to seek out more Lagunitas beers. A- (Beer Nerd Details: 8.85% ABV on tap (12 oz). Drank out of a snifter.)

  • Boxcar Brown Ale - After two approximately 9% whoppers, I had to slow down a bit, so I picked this uber-local 5% brown ale. Boxcar is basically right down the street, and they only have a couple of beers. Their launch beer was solid, though not particularly special. They've since expanded to a couple other standard styles, including this brown ale. It's super cloudy looking (you can tell despite the even brown color) and bursting with flavor. Lots of caramel, a little bit of a nutty flavor, and even some chocolate. Indeed, I got the impression that I was drinking a sorta liquid brownie at some point, though that notion doesn't really survive the whole session. I've actually had this before, but it was from a bottle and it was very different. From the bottle it was much more muted. On tap, it was quite a bit more assertive. Full bodied, but still easy to drink. B+ (Beer Nerd Details: 5% ABV on tap (16 oz). Drank out of a shaker pint.)
  • Avery Maharaja - Well, so much for moderation. Here comes another 10.5% ABV monster. It's actually the only beer of the night to be even remotely clear, with a pale orangish color and a finger of head. Features a lot of the same characteristics as the Lagunitas beer I tried earlier, but this strangely had a lighter body and seemed like it would be a more refreshing brew (if it wasn't already the 4th beer of the night). Perhaps a bit more bitter, with a similar pine and citrus character, but less of the stickiness in the mouthfeel and again, lighter bodied. A really solid beer, and something I should probably try again with a cleaner palate... B+ (Beer Nerd Details: 10.5% ABV on tap (12 oz). Drank out of a snifter.)

I had really wanted to get a glass of The Bruery's Rugbrød, but apparently the keg had just kicked. Damnit! But that's ok, because as the ratings above show, I had a pretty great night. Did I say that I was going to cut down on my beer intake? Well apparently not this week! That being said, I had a great time tonight and I've found a new local place to get some good craft beers.

Boxcar Original Ale

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Earlier this week, I lamented the beers of Yards, a local brewery that I've never really connected with. Last night, whilst on a drunken quest for pizza, I spied a sixer of Boxcar Brewing's Original Ale. I'd just recently heard about this online, as the brewery is apparently located in West Chester, PA, which is where I live, so this is probably as local as it gets (distribution is limited to Southeast PA at this point). As we've already established, I'm a total homer, so I immediately picked up the six pack and anxiously awaited the pizza and beer meal I was about to consume.

boxcar original ale

Boxcar Original Ale: Pours a light, hazy yellowish color, with a small head. The head did retain itself and there was lots of "lacing" as the beer nerds call it as I drank. The smell was lightly sweet, with some citrus thrown in for good measure. Taste was also a bit mild, with some malts and hops coming through, and a hint of that citrus flavor as well (it's a bit lemony, which is a nice touch). BA calls it an American Pale Ale, but it feels more German in style, maybe even something with wheat in it. It strikes me as a nice summer ale, light and crisp. Unfortunately, when you put all this together, you don't really get anything that stands out too much. I don't really detect anything wrong with it, but at the same time, there's nothing particularly amazing about it either. It's light and mild, which is fine, I guess, but not something I'm going to immediately run out and shove into people's hands telling them that they need to try it. This is apparently the only beer that Boxcar makes right now (having just launched earlier this year), and it shows a lot of promise. With some tweaking, I think this beer would come out better, but as of right now, there's not much to differentiate this from the throngs of other startups. I'm sure part of this is my homer instincts talking, but I'll give it a provisional B- (I suspect some might rate it lower).

Beer Nerd Details: 5.0% ABV bottled (12 oz). Drank out of a pint glass.

I don't really understand why new breweries start with this kind of mild beer. I suppose it's inoffensive, but at the same time, it's not particularly memorable either. I look forward to new and hopefully more ambitious efforts from this brewery. Even if I don't see myself falling back on the Original Ale too often, I think it does show a lot of potential from this tiny upstart. In any case, Victory remains the champion home team for now.

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Hi, my name is Mark, and I like beer.

You might also want to check out my generalist blog, where I blather on about lots of things, but mostly movies, books, and technology.

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