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Logsdon Straffe Drieling

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Back when I started homebrewing, I made a tripel for my second batch. A relative neophyte, the tripel was one of my favorite styles, and I was overexcited at the prospect of making a whole 5 gallons of the stuff. As it fermented away, I anxiously tried to come up with some sort of fancy name for my beer and promptly ran into a brick wall. I've noted before that I'm terrible at naming beer and am mildly comforted when a real brewer comes up with something straightforward to their beer. Ultimately, while I enjoyed that batch of tripel, it quickly dropped off in quality, with a huge fusel alcohol quality developing, so naming it was a moot point.

Here we have Logsdon's take on a Tripel, called Straffe Drieling, or Three Sisters. It's an oblique reference to the Three Sisters mountains of Central Oregon, but also a set of triplets presumably born to the Logsdon family or somesuch. Good for them, and that's certainly a worthy name for a tripel. As per usual, though, it's what's inside the bottle that really counts. Fortunately, this David Logsdon guy knows his stuff, especially when it comes to Belgian styles:

Logsdon Straffe Drieling

Logsdon Straffe Drieling - Pours a cloudy yellow color with a couple fingers of dense white head that has good retention and leaves a bit of lacing. Smells of Belgian yeast, sweet and spicy, cloves, even a little in the way of noble hops. The taste starts sweet, but then hits strong with the Belgian yeast spice character, and perhaps some actual spices themselves, clove, coriander and the like. Mouthfeel is highly carbonated, crisp, effervescent, and fairly dry, just like a tripel should be. Overall, an excellent example of the style, if not quite reaching the exalted heights of some of Logsdon's other masterpieces. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 8.8% ABV bottled (750 ml). Drank out of a Tired Hands wine glass on 11/8/14. Bottle No. 721. Best by 05/2016.

So not quite Seizoen Bretta levels awesome (incidentally, shared another bottle of that this past weekend and once again blew some minds - it's such a fantastic beer), but a really solid take on another Belgian style. I'm always down with trying more Logsdon. Fingers crossed for some Peche 'n Brett someday. Someday.

Sly Fox Barrel Aged Nihilist

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For a state with as many breweries as Pennsylvania, it's surprising how few barrel aged stouts are out there. We've been killing it lately with barrel aged sours, but stouts and barleywines and the like seem to be much less common. Not completely absent, of course, but when it comes to massive face melting awesomeness, we're coming up a little short. The only examples that are coming to mind are highly limited one-offs like Pappy Black Magick or Whiskey Barrel Aged (not technically a stout, but close enough). Victory had a good thing going with Dark Intrigue, but they also claim they will never make it again. There are other one offs on their way (and I have another one right over here that I'll get to soon enough), but very few regularly produced local bourbon barrel aged beers.

Which is to say that when Sly Fox announced a Barrel Aged version of their Nihilist stout, I was totally on board. I enjoyed the base beer well enough, so I had really high hopes for this version, aged in Bourbon barrels. Alas, it's not quite the savior I was hoping for:

Sly Fox Barrel Aged Nihilist

Sly Fox Barrel Aged Nihilist - Pours a very dark brown color with massive amounts of fluffy, tan head (I did not pour this like an asshole, it's just saisonlike in its head generating capabilities). The head sticks around for quite a while and leaves almost a full sheath of lacing as I drink. The smell is of muted roasted malts, a little bit of whisky, not a ton of oak (though it's there). Taste is very malt forward, that roast is still quite prominent up front, with a little richness from the oak and vanilla in the middle, and a strong hop bitterness coming on in the finish. Mouthfeel is overly carbonated, which makes it seem less rich and full bodied than it probably would be without quite so much carbonation. It also has a little too much dryness for a barrel aged stout. I'm very picky about my carbonation, and usually when it comes to BA stouts, that translates as undercarbonated. This is perhaps the first time I can think of the reverse being true, but it really does hinder the enjoyment of this beer. This is not to say it's bad, just that I would have preferred less carbonation in this, and I think it would do wonders for the beer overall. B

Beer Nerd Details: 9% ABV bottled (750 ml caged and corked). Drank out of a snifter on 11/7/14.

I actually have another one of these that I guess I'm just going to lay down in the cellar and see what happens after a year or two. Mayhap that carbonation will calm itself down or something...

Tired WoodLaHands

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You might not know this, but half of the United States' mushrooms come from Pennsylvania, specifically around the area of Kennett Square and surrounding towns. It's more of a historical accident than anything else, starting with industrious Quakers who couldn't bear to waste the space under elevated beds in greenhouses (and also the prodigious horseshit-production of a major city like Philadelphia). It caught on, and now we've got this growing movement of foodies who grow mushrooms in their kitchens and small artisanal farms like Woodland Jewel Mushrooms who supply local eateries with exotic gourmet mushrooms.

Given Tired Hands predilection for collaborating with local farmers, it's no surprise that they've tapped Woodland Jewel to make an Oud Bruin conditioned on Donko Shiitake mushrooms (according to Wikipedia, these are particularly high grade mushrooms, though a citation is neeeded!). This originally appeared at a beer dinner a while back, but has thankfully been bottled up and snagged by the likes of me. I like that the label features a mushroom that looks like it's watching me. Downright cyclopean, if you ask me:

Tired Hands WoodLaHands

Tired Hands WoodLaHands - Pours a very pretty dark amber color (looks great when held up to light) with a finger of fizzy off white head that nevertheless manages to stick around a bit (though not long). Smells beautiful, tart fruit (cherries), Rodenbachy vinegar with an earthy kick and plenty of oak. The earthy notes really come to the fore up front in the taste, followed by oak and vanilla in the middle, rounding out with a vinous, acetic sour fruit character towards the finish. I'm not a wine guy, but tannins. That's a word, right? Mouthfeel is hefty enough to support the flavors, well carbonated, a little sharp acidity leading directly into a drying finish. Overall, another winner from Tired Hands. Perhaps not as perfectly integrated as some of their fruited sours, but we're talking about rarified air there and this is still great. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 7% ABV bottled (500 ml waxed cap). Drank out of a flute one 11/7/14. Bottle release: 11/2/14.

One of these days, I'll have to post another recap of draft-only Tired Hands stuff. On the other hand, I probably have, like, 50 beers on that list at this point, and most of them will never see the light of day again, so perhaps I can just leave it at that.

Midnight Sun Moscow

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Midnight Sun has some notoriety in beer nerd circles due to a few of their beers showing up on the pretty ridiculous White Whale list. So they had a pretty good run at one point, and while I'm pretty sure I'll never get to try Midnight Sun M (and at this point, 5 years later, that's probably a good thing), I was interested enough to check out some of their other offerings. Moscow was first brewed as part of their 2011 World Tour series, and it must have struck a nerve, since they're still brewing it. A hefty imperial stout brewed with rye. Funny story, the TTB (the government agency which approves labels on alcoholic beverages) gave them gruff about the name and required them to put "Product of the USA" on the label. Thank goodness for government regulation. So let's open this sucker up and see what's inside:

Midnight Sun Moscow

Midnight Sun Moscow - Pours black as a politician's heart with cap of slowly forming but quickly disappearing brown head (would be really pretty if it stuck around a while longer, perhaps I just needed to pour a little stronger). Smells lightly of roasted malt with a certain rich sweetness, maybe a little caramel, perhaps some of that herbal, spicy rye. Taste features much more in the way of roasted malt, more bitter dark chocolate than coffee, with that rye spice and dryness kicking in towards the finish. Mouthfeel is well carbonated and as a result, not as rich or decadent as the nose may imply (not entirely a bad thing, to be sure), and indeed, the finish is almost dry (at least, for a beer like this). Overall, what we have here is a rock solid imperial stout, roasty with enough additional complexity to make it worth the stretch. I feel like I'm saying this a lot lately, but on the upper end of a B+

Beer Nerd Details: 11% ABV bottled (22 ounce bomber). Drank out of a snifter on 11/1/14.

A very welcome start, and I hope to seek out some of Midnight Sun's more prized regular releases, like Arctic Devil and Bezerker (No idea how easy or hard it will be to land those, but I'm an optimist). I'm glad the weather is turning cooler, as the seasonal stouts are starting to come out and play.

ShawneeCraft Frambozenbier

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More semi-local PA bangers have been showing up in the Philly area, including these ShawneeCraft fellas. I've heard nebulous mutterings of them, but on a recent beer run, I spied a few bottles in the wild that sounded intriguing. One was a Bourbon Barrel Aged Porter (sold!), and then there's this thing, a Belgian Witbier fermented with raspberries and aged in oak barrels. It's actually a blend of the barrel aged portion and some fresh beer, though the percentages aren't specified. Regardless, this is my kinda ambitious from a relatively new brewery, so let's check it out:

ShawneeCraft Frambozenbier

ShawneeCraft Frambozenbier - Pours a murky but radiant light orange, maybe peachy color with a finger of fluffy white head. Smells quite strongly of tart raspberry and pungent funk, with some oak and vanilla doing its thing, actually a very pleasant nose. Taste has a sharp sourness to it, lots of intense, tart fruit, raspberries, cherries and the like, and plenty of oak. Mouthfeel is highly carbonated, crisp, effervescent, very little stickiness, but a fair amount of acidity. Overall, it's an intense little sour, packs a punch, but also complex and actually rather delicious. Another borderline case, but I'll stick with a high B+

Beer Nerd Details: 5.75% ABV bottled (375 ml capped). Drank out of a flute glass on 10/31/14. 2014 vintage.

A very promising start, and something I hope to revisit. As mentioned above, I also snagged a bottle of the Bourbon Barrel Porter, so keep an eye out for that review...

Pizza Boy Simcoe SamuRYE

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A few years ago, Al's of Hampden was your typical PA pizza joint. For the uninitiated, Pizza is everywhere around here. I live in the suburbs, and I have about 4-5 pizza places within about half a mile radius of my house (and probably double or triple that if you make it a mile). Because of this, some places have to differentiate themselves and Al's of Hampden had glommed onto the whole Craft Beer revolution, featuring a bunch of takeout bottles* and taps. But as craft beer continued to explode, Al found that he had some trouble keeping his taps flowing, and rather than whine about it, he installed a brewhouse and started making his own beer to make up for the shortfall. It appears to be a small operation, allowing them to experiment with all sorts of weird stuff, including some barrel aging and sours and whatnot. Music to my earballs. The brewing operation is known as Pizza Boy brewing, and it's been steadily building up a good reputation amongst local beer nerds. Alas, they're located in Enola, PA (a 1-2 hour drive from Kaedrin HQ), and I've been far too lazy for far too long. Fortunately for my laziness, Pizza Boy has started to bottle some of their brews and even distribute them. I hope this is a sign of things to come, but for now, I was happy to snag one of these Red Rye IPAs made with Simcoe hops.

Pizza Boy Simcoe SamuRYE

Pizza Boy Simcoe SamuRYE - Pours a very dark amber color, almost brown, with a finger of dense, off white head that has decent retention and leaves lots of lacing as I drink. Smells amazing, lots of Simcoe's characteristic citrus and pine merged very nicely with some sugary sweet malt aromas. Taste follows the nose, lots of citrus and pine hops, a little dank, some rye spiciness with a hefty malt backbone. Mouthfeel is very well carbonated, medium to full bodied, extremely well balanced. Overall, this is among the best rye IPAs I've had. On the upper end of B+

Beer Nerd Details: 6.8% ABV bottled (22 ounce bomber). Drank out of a tulip glass on 10/31/14.

So here's the plan. On some fine day, I'll need to take a road trip to visit some PA breweries, hitting Tröegs in Hershey first, then Al's/PizzaBoy, then Selin's Grove (a place I really need to check out at some point). Round trip, I'm figuring 6-7 hours though, so don't hold your breath. I don't think I'd even attempt this until next year, but it will happen someday. Oh yes. In the meantime, I'll just have to hope that some of Pizza Boy's more interesting experimental stuff makes their way down here...

* Again, for you non-PA residents, out fine commonwealth does not generally allow for beer distributors to sell by the bottle (only by the case). This is a fact that I've bemoaned many times before, but the good news is that there is a bit of a loophole in that restaurants are allowed to sell by the bottle, hence there are several places, like Al's, that have really stepped up their selection to serve the hungry market.

We all know that Three Floyds has a reputation for their hoppy beers (rightfully so), and while I wasn't particularly taken with Dark Lord, they seem to strike a chord on that dark beer front as well. Sours, on the other hand, seem less like their thing. Of course, not having had any, that is just blind speculation based on scattered ramblings of strangers on the internets, which is totally reliable enough for the purposes of this post.

Named after a French knight and military commander who was famous for his use of the Fabian strategy (basically a war of attrition, rather than direct confrontation) during the Hundred Years' War. Supposedly quite the badass and not at all a cheese-eating surrender monkey. Though I do suspect he actually did partake in cheese on occasion. The beer brewed in his honor is an American Wild Ale aged in old wine barrels with blueberries added. The last blueberry sour I tried had a slight case of the Smoketômes, so let's hope this one works out a little better:

Chevalier Bertrand Du Guesclin

Three Floyds Chevalier Bertrand Du Guesclin - Pours a deep, dark amber with a sorta purple tint to it, and the finger or so of fluffy head has a similar reddish purple tint to it. It's actually quite pretty. Smells of tart fruit, blueberries, cherries, maybe even strawberry, a little oak and vanilla peeking through as well as some funk. The taste goes in for that tart fruit pretty hard, again with the blueberries and cherries, maybe some strawberry, a little oak and vanilla to set things off, and a puckering sourness throughout. Mouthfeel is well carbonated, medium bodied, slightly acidic, with a little stickiness in the finish. It never quite reaches fruit-by-the-foot levels of stickiness and the flavors never approach that sort of artificial sweetening, but it feels like a few missteps would have lead that way (this is a good thing). Overall, this is a pretty fabulous blueberry sour. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 6.4% ABV? (it's hard to find any info on the ABV) bottled (750 ml blue wax). Drank out of a flute glass on 10/25/14. 2014 Vintage.

This is the best of the beers (so far) I got from my FFF beer mule earlier this year, but now my FFF supply is running dangerously low. Only one more left, a stout. Look for that review soon enough (though it'll probably be a little while).

Avery Pump[KY]n

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And the parade of high-ABV Avery "session" beers continues. What's that? 17.22% ABV isn't a session beer? Well, according to Adam Avery, it is: "I try to just limit myself to one per drinking session. So I'd call it a sessionable beer... your session just ends quicker." In fairness, it's only about 13-14% more than your typical session beer. Someone alert Ding.

I greatly enjoyed Rumpkin, Avery's rum barrel aged pumpkin beer, and what we have here is a bourbon barrel aged pumpkin porter. Oddly, I wound up having this both on tap and from the bottle on Friday night (a local drinkery had just tapped it before we arrived for happy hour), so I've got you covered. Or something like that.

Avery Pump[KY]n

Avery Pump[KY]n - Pours a very dark brown color with a finger of tan head. Smells full of pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove, a little in the way of bourbon, oak, and vanilla as well. Taste is very rich and sugary, but not super sweet, lots of pumpkin pie spice comes through in the middle, with that bourbon, oak, and vanilla coming through more towards the finish, which is fairly boozy when you start drinking, and gets more boozy as you go along. Mouthfeel is well carbonated, full bodied, rich, and chewy. The spice comes through a little as well, as does the warming booze character. Overall, it's pretty damn great, easily the equal of Rumpkin, maybe better. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 17.22% ABV bottled (12 ounce). Drank out of a snifter on 10/24/14. Batch No. 1. Bottled Sept 12 2014.

At this point, while I'm pretty much done with Pumpkin beers for the year, I'm on board with Avery's barrel aging program in general. It seems to be expanding, so I'm guessing we'll see more of their stuff around here too. Next up, if I can snag one: Uncle Jacob's Stout.

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

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