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Marshal Zhukov

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Georgy Zhukov was a Soviet Army officer who commanded troops during the Battle of Berlin, eventually resulting in the defeat of Nazi Germany. He attained the rank of Marshal (the highest military rank in the Soviet Union), but also became Minister of Defence amongst taking on other political roles. Infamously stubborn and hot-tempered, he was known to risk life and limb by heatedly arguing with Stalin over this or that policy (normally surrounded by sycophants, Stalin respected Zhukov's independent thought, while presumably also being annoyed by his stubbornness, which is the sort of thing people got disappeared for...) Basically, a decent guy to name a Russian Imperial Stout after. In a mildly refreshing change of pace, there's nothing particularly special about this stout (other than it being really good). No weird ingredients, no spices or vanilla, not even barrels. Just barley, hops, yeast, and water. Spaseeba!

Marshal Zhukov

Cigar City Marshal Zhukov's Imperial Stout - Pours a deep black color with a pretty brown head that quickly dissipates. Smells great, lots of sweet malt, caramel, hints of roast, vanilla. Taste hits those same notes, rich caramel, hints of roast, a touch of vanilla, a little booze. Mouthfeel is full bodied, rich, and chewy, moderate carbonation, a little boozy heat. Overall, fantastic straightforward imperial stout. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 11.2% ABV bottled (22 ounce bomber). Drank out of a snifter on 10/29/17.

There are tons of variants of this, some of which I've had (a couple of coffee dosed versions), but I'd love to try a barrel aged one sometime (of which there are several varieties). Someday!

Cigar City Hard Sauce

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Hard Sauce is a rich mixture of butter, sugar, and booze that is a frequent accompaniment to a large number of holiday sweets, puddings, and pies (as befits its seasonal provenance, other flavorings like vanilla and nutmeg are often added). The term "sauce" doesn't really capture the consistency here though, it's more of a spreadable soft butter than a smooth liquid or glaze. But when paired with warm pudding or pie, it does melt into more of what you'd think. It appears to be English in origin, dating back to King George I (aka The Pudding King), who demanded plum pudding with hard sauce at all Royal Christmas dinners.

Apparently the fine folks at Cigar City prefer their hard sauce paired with warm Pecan Pie, so they brewed this beer with pecans and vanilla, then aged it in bourbon-barrels. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but then, the second half of that quote is "that mediocrity can pay to greatness" so let's not get carried away. So hold on to your hats, Oscar Wilde fans, we're taking a closer look:

Cigar City Hard Sauce

Cigar City Hard Sauce - Pours a dark brown color with a thin cap of tan head that quickly disappears. Smells of, yes, pecan pie, nutty, sweet, caramel and toffee, a little bourbon, oak, and vanilla. Taste starts with rich caramel and toffee, some oak and vanilla, moves into that nutty pecan character, finishing on a boozy bourbon note. Mouthfeel is medium bodied and rich, tightly carbonated, some sticky booze. Could probably use a bit more heft here, but it comports itself well enough. Overall, this is really nice and the pecans come through strong... not their best Barrel Aged effort, but a decent change of pace. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 11.9% ABV bottled (750 ml). Drank out of a snifter on 8/11/17. Bottled on: 12/21/16.

Many thanks to fellow BeerNERD Ray for the bottle (it's one of the El Catador Club beers). Cigar City always worth a try, and I tend to enjoy their barrel aged efforts...

BBQ Beer Club

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Due to the capricious whims of Mother Nature, we had to push beer club back a ways, very nearly missing the month of January. But thanks to a no-show on yesterday's storm, conditions were fine (if a little cold) tonight, where we hit up a new BYOB BBQ place, shared some beer, did some "Adult" Mad Libs ("I need a noun." "Assless Chaps."), and generally just had fun. For dinner, I ordered something called "Loose Meat", and drove everyone crazy attempting to make double entendres about it. In case you were wondering, this is what loose meat looks like:

Loose Meat
(Click to Embiggen)

It has a nice phallic arrangement, but the feng shui could be a little better if the brisket and pulled pork were a little far back, don't you think? Also of note, the parsley merkin. Anyways, it was good stuff, and we had some decent beer to go with it:

January Beer Club 2015
(Click to Embiggen)

For the sake of posterity, thoughts on each are below. Standard beer nerd disclaimers apply. I'm sorry, but the BBQ place did not have a hermetically sealed environment suitable for proper note taking. Also, I didn't really take notes. I'm the worst. In order of drinking (not necessarily the order in the pic):

  • Kaedrôme Saison - Hey, remember that saison I dosed with Brett, like, a year ago? It's doing reasonably well right now. It's carbed up to a drinkable state, though still not as effervescent as I'd like. But the flavor is there, and it's doing reasonably well. B
  • New Belgium/Three Floyds Lips Of Faith - Grätzer - My first Grätzer, and um, it's a weird style. Light smokiness, very thin, with a weird tartness in the finish. A perfect beer for this situation, as I'm happy to try something like this, but I'm not sure I'd go out of my way for more. C+
  • Left Hand St. Vrain Tripel - A pretty standard American take on a tripel, a little too sticky, but a nice palate cleanser after the Grätzer. B
  • Wicked Weed Terra Locale Series - Appalachia - I've heard great things about Wicked Weed, so I was really looking forward to this, and a Brett saison made with sweet potatoes and grits sounds like it could work, but I found it a bit on the bland side. Nothing wrong with it, per say, but there's not a lot of funk, and it just felt a little on the dry side. It's certainly cromulent and I could probably drink plenty of it, and maybe it was just that this is not ideal for a tasting like this, but I was disappointed. B
  • Chimay Red - Yep, it's Chimay all right. I've never been a huge fan of this particular expression though. B
  • Cigar City Maduro Oatmeal Brown Ale - Rock solid take on a brown ale. Not going to knock your socks off, but it's a tasty alternative to macro slop. B+
  • Almanac Devil's Advocate - Another fantastic little sour from Almanac, very tasty, vinous, sour, oaky, delicious. I don't normally think of "hoppy" and "sour" going together very well, but these folks are doing it right. Probably my favorite beer of the night. A-
  • SoChesCo Valentine's Day Chocolate Milk Stout - A friend's homebrewed milk stout, asolid take on the style, very tasty. B
  • SoChesCo Pennsyltucky Chocolate Milk Stout - The same stout as above, conditioned on bourbon soaked oak, which wound up as a light character. You could definitely taste the difference drinking them side by side, but I don't think I'd have pegged this as a bourbon oaked beer if I drank it blind (my own Bourbon Oaked Bomb & Grapnel fared little better on that account). B
  • Bière De L'Amitié (Green Flash & Brasserie St. Feuillien) - A very interesting and different beer. Standard Belgian yeast spice and fruit, but also some citrus hoppiness, and something that really felt like they dosed it with white grape juice (I don't think they did, but that's what kept coming to mind). B
  • Ken's Homebrewed Creme Brulee Stout Clone - Holy vanilla, Batman! Like the Southern Tier inspiration, this is incredibly sweet and it's got a great nose that I could just sniff all night long. I think there might be more vanilla here, but I love me some vanilla. B
  • Stone Bourbon Barrel-Aged Arrogant Bastard Ale - Another beer that I was looking forward to, but which didn't quite live up to expectations. It was a fine beer, one of the better of the night actually, but I didn't get a tone of Bourbon barrel character out of this. It felt like the barrels muted the aromatic aspects of the hops while leaving the bitterness. Fortunately, the Bourbon sweetens it up a little, so it's still reasonably well balanced (er, for Arrogant Bastard), but it's not something you really need to drop everything and try (like, for example, Stone's Fyodor's Classic). B+
At this point, we decided to call it a night, and we didn't get to the last two beers. Oh well, there's always next month, which should come up soon!

So there's this hoary old tale about the origins of the IPA style being that beers couldn't survive the trip to India without being highly hopped. There appears to be a nugget of truth to this, though there are lots of details that trip up all but the most wonky of history nerds. I'm not such a nerd, so don't break my legs, but the general idea is that a beer will require extra hops if it is being exported to warmer climates.

These days, with our fancy refrigeration devices, it doesn't really matter anymore, but that doesn't stop folks from doing wacky experiments like this one, where Cigar City gets their friends in Puerto Rico to brew up some IPA, then send it on a boat back to Florida in order to be canned. During the trip, this IPA is dry hopped with a single hop variety. Each batch uses a different variety, ranging from the heaven-sent Citra (I never got to try this one, but it has great ratings) to experimental hops (which I didn't particularly love, but it was fine). What we have here is Calypso, a relatively new American hop that's supposed to have some stone fruit character but also an earthy, tea-like note. We'll see about that:

Cigar City Hopped on the High Seas - Calypso

Cigar City Hopped on the High Seas (Calypso) - Pours a cloudy golden orange color with a solid finger of fluffy white head. Smells of citrus and earthy hops, pretty straightforward. Taste has a decent malt backbone, but the hops do not come through as much in the flavor, excepting the bitterness which does hit pretty strong towards the finish. Mouthfeel is low to medium bodied, well carbonated, relatively dry. Overall, a fairly pedestrian IPA... B-

Beer Nerd Details: 7% ABV canned (12 oz). Drank out of a tulip glass on 5/9/14.

So I've had two different varieties of this beer, and I didn't really enjoy either of them. I suppose I may grab a Citra if they make that again, but if I'm really in the mood for a Cigar City IPA, it's hard to beat Jai Alai (and its variants).

Cigar City Nielsbohrium

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The name "Nielsbohrium" was suggested not once, but twice for newly discovered elements. Both times: rejected! The name comes from theoretical physicist Niels Bohr, and one of the rejected elements did end up being named after him (just Bohrium, sans the Niels). Well, 14 years later, the name Nielsbohrium finally found a home in, quite frankly, a much awesomer substance.

This beer is the third collaboration between Mikkeller and Cigar City, though technically it's a blend of their two previous creations: Dirac and Bohr, both imperial sweet stouts brewed with raisins and spices (apparently cinnamon). The blend was then aged in rum barrels and dubbed Nielsbohrium. I can't help but think that Paul Dirac (a theoretical physicist who actually collaborated with Bohr) is getting the short end of the stick in the naming department, but then the beer is awesome and I'm betting that Dirac and Bohr high-fived each other up in heaven when this beer was released in 2011. Huge thanks go to Dave for slinging this bottle my way, as it's a spectacular beer, even after 2 years:

Cigar City Nielsbohrium

Cigar City and Mikkeller Nielsbohrium - Pours a deep, dark, pitch black color with the faintest cap of brown head that quickly resolves into just a ring at the edge of the glass. Smells utterly fantastic, lots of oak and vanilla, some caramel, and a little of that boozy rum. Taste starts with rich caramel, very sweet, but then you get a hint of bitter roast, some spiciness, oak and vanilla, maybe some port-like notes (or dark fruit, presumably from the raisins), and that boozy rum hitting towards the finish. That rum barrel character is distinct, but still very close to a good bourbon barrel treatment, making for an interesting experience. Extremely complex, evolves well as it warms. Mouthfeel is very thick and heavy, viscous, full bodied, and chewy, with that richness that comes with proper barrel aging. An intense beer, I took my time with this one, and loved every second of it. Overall, this is a superb barrel aged beer. A

Beer Nerd Details: 10% ABV bottled (750 ml capped). Drank out of a Voodoo snifter on 5/4/13.

Well, that certainly went a lot better than my last Rum Barrel Aged beer! Cigar City continues to impress. I was a little worried about how old this one was, but I suspect it has held up remarkably well (I never had it fresh, but in my experience, sweet stouts age well).

Cigar City Jai Alai

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According to Wikipedia, the Basque Government promotes jai alai as "the fastest sport in the world because of the balls". Insert innuendo joke here. Good, glad we got that out of the way. I'm a little surprised that I haven't had this yet; I've had ample opportunities, just never pulled the trigger... which is weird, because Cigar City is one of those brewers I'm always keeping an eye out for. Well, I finally got me a can of this stuff, so lets chug a beer and ball really hard (if you're so inclined, feel free to insert whatever innuendo you want here).

Cigar City Jai Alai

Cigar City Jai Alai - Pours a deep, dark golden color with visible sediment and a finger of white head with decent retention. Smells fantastic, bright citrus, juicy pineapple, a little additional piney resin. Taste starts sweet, with some crystal malt, that citrus hop character quickly emerging and morphing into resin and pine. There's a balanced bite of bitterness in the finish and aftertaste. Mouthfeel is on the lower end of medium bodied, tightly carbonated, almost creamy but also juicy. Overall, this is one really well crafted IPA, but I feel like the bar's been set pretty high on that front. As shelf beers go, it's great, but it can't quite compete with the likes of Tired Hands or Hill Farmstead. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 7.5% ABV canned (12 oz.) Drank out of a tulip glass on 4/12/13. Canned on 15 JAN 2013.

I mentioned Tired Hands and Hill Farmstead, and I realized a while ago that part of the reason their hoppy beers are so spectacular is that I always have them when they are super fresh. The same goes for a bunch of other hop bombs, like Pliny the Younger or Hopslam. I'm not going to claim I have a great palate, but it's tough for a 3 month old can to compete with that sort of thing. I guess what I'm saying here is that I need to down a six pack of Jai Alai. You know, just to make sure. In the meantime, I've got an interesting looking Cigar City beer aged in rum barrels burning a whole in my fridge. Look for a review next week.

Cigar City Capricho Oscuro - Batch 3

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Capricho Oscuro means "Dark Whim" and it's a series of barrel-aged, blended beers Cigar City put out once a year. What we've got here is Batch #3, released in 2009, and it's comprised of three Cigar City mainstays (Bolita Double Nut Brown Ale, Big Sound Scotch Ale, and Improvisacion Oatmeal Rye India-Style Brown Ale), blended "to perfection" (their words) and aged in Makers Mark barrels. Best-brewer-name-ever Wayne Wambles sez that this batch was meant to age a bit longer than other batches, as he wanted big barrel notes. Did he succeed? There is only one way to find out! This vintage, brewery-only, limited release comes to me by way of Dave, the proprietor of the most excellent Drunken Polack blog, so big thanks are owed to him!

Cigar City Capricho Oscuro

Cigar City Capricho Oscuro - Batch 3 - Pours a dark brown color with a finger of quickly subsiding tan head. Smells of bourbon, oak, vanilla, and fruity malts (that Scotch ale character is coming through)... Taste is very sweet, big malt backbone, light toasted malt, with that oaky bourbon vanilla emerging towards the finish. As it warms, the bourbon asserts itself even more. Complex flavors, perhaps showing its age and not as well balanced as it could be, but on the other hand, it's still really damn tasty. Mouthfeel is full bodied, well carbonated, not really dry, but no stickiness either. For a big, barrel-aged blend, this is going down pretty easy. Some pleasant warming from the alcohol, which I'm guessing is in the 9-10% range. Overall, a really good beer that I suspect was better when fresh, but has held up remarkably well. B+

Beer Nerd Details: Unknown ABV (Kaedrin SWAG estimate: 9% ABV) bottled (12 oz). Drank out of a snifter on 2/9/13. Bottled 2009, Batch #3, Bottle 454/480.

Dave sent me a whole box of goodies, so be on the lookout for some more obscure brews coming soon, including some more Cigar City. Super excited about some of those brews!

Cigar City Warmer Winter Winter Warmer

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At some point, I resolved to get my hands on more Cigar City beers, and they do distribute to this area... but their offerings have been scarce of late. I have no idea why, but when I saw this one about a month ago, I quickly bought it, not realizing that it was from last year! It's a big, dark beer, so it should be able to hold up to the time, but it's also got a big hop component which I'm assuming I lost out on a bit. In any case, this beer officially kicks off the Christmas beer season. Here at Kaedrin, we take these things seriously, so expect to see a boatload of other wintery themed beers in the near future. This particular offering falls into the "make it stronger" school of holiday beer thought (with maybe a bit of "do whatever the hell you want", just for good measure.) The label sez it's a mashup of barleywines and old ale winter-warmer styles, but with a big citrusy American hop presence. They call it a Floridian Winter Ale:

Cigar City Warmer Winter Winter Warmer

Cigar City Warmer Winter Winter Warmer - Pours a very deep, dark amber brown color with a solid 3 fingers of fluffy head, good retention, and plenty of lacing. Smells full of caramel and citrusy, piney hops. Taste is very sweet, dominated by rich caramel, brown sugar, and toffee tones. Big citrus and pine hop flavors lighten things up a bit, but those sugary caramel/toffee flavors rule the day. Mouthfeel is full bodied, rich, and chewy, but very well carbonated, which really helps cut all the rich flavors a bit. That being said, there's a lot of mouth coating here, and a finish that lingers. Fortunately, these flavors are all right up my alley, so it works well enough in the end. The booze is well hidden in the taste, but you get that warming alcohol feeling in the belly soon enough. Overall, this is an interesting beer, along the lines of a barleywine or old ale, but kinda doing its own thing. A whole 750 gets to be a bit much, but I really enjoyed it. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 11% ABV bottled (750 ml capped). Drank out of a tulip glass on 11/23/12. Bottled November 2011 for consumption in 2011/2012.

I still haven't tried a lot of Cigar City's brews, but I'll be sure to snag a few the next time they make their way up here... Anywho, lots of Christmas, holiday, and otherwise wintery offerings coming up in the near future, even including a few deliberately aged brews. Stay tuned!

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This page is an archive of recent entries in the Cigar City category.

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