Recently in American Black Ale Category

Belated BBQ Beer Club Recap

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Last week was Beer Club, and in a heinous act of negligence, I'm only getting to the recap now. I know, I'm the worst. For the uninitiated, beer club is a monthly gathering of like-minded coworkers at a local BYOB for good food, optional libations, and fun (which part is not optional). This month we hit up a local BBQ joint, loaded up on smoked meats, and cracked open quite a few beers:

October Beer Club
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For the sake of posterity, some thoughts on each beer we had are below. The usual disclaimers apply, and you'll want to amplify your skepticism even further due to the fact that I'm writing this about 5 days later than normal. Great, so now that we've established that the proceeding descriptions are completely devoid of merit, we can begin. In order of drinking, not necessarily the order in the picture, and in fact, there are several beers not pictured (and we didn't get to some of the ones that were):

  • Neshaminy Creek County Line IPA - I know "East Coast IPA" isn't a real thing, but I think it kinda describes stuff like this. A local IPA with plenty of hop character that's balanced out by plenty of crystal malts (much more than you get in typical West Coast IPAs). Its enjoyable, but it won't blow minds. The very definition of a B, though sometimes I want to bump that up to a B+, which I guess means it's not the very definition of a B, but give me a break, I'm not under oath here.
  • Anchorage Whiteout Wit Bier - Belgian Wit beer aged in Chardonnay barrels with Brettanomyces? Sign me up. Nice funk to it, with plenty of typical wheat beer character. Worth checking out. B+
  • Upstate I.P.W. - A friend brought a bunch of beers that he grabbed whilst in New York, and this India Pale Wheat ale was quite nice. One of those things I could see myself reaching for, were I a local. Great citrus/pine hop character, light wheat, crisp, and refreshing. B+
  • Ken's Homebrewed Pecan Brown - Wow, that pecan character really comes through on the nose and in the taste. A little lighter in color than your typical brown ale, but that pecan character really sets this apart, and I very much enjoyed it.
  • Sly Fox Incubus - A beer I've reviewed before (a looong time ago), but I'll just say that this bottle had a more distinct raisiny note than I remember. On the other hand, it is a bit high on the booze and stickiness factor, something I'm not huge on when it comes to Tripels. Still a solid B in my book.
  • The Beer Diviner Very! Brown Ale - Another New York beer, my friend apparently stumbled on it by asking his phone to point out breweries near his location. This one turned out to be a guy brewing out of his house on a farm or something like that. This particular beer was a pretty standard brown ale, nutty and toasty, if a bit stronger than normal. B
  • Cascade Apricot - One of my contributions, and a beer we've reviewed relatively recently, so I don't have much to add to that. A-
  • Firestone Walker Wookey Jack - A beer I've had many times at this point, and as Black IPAs (or whatever you want to call them) go, it's probably the best regularly available option out there. Big citrus and pine hop component along with the typical roast of a stout, without letting either character overwhelm (or making you wish you had a straight IPA or stout). B+
  • Founders Dark Penance - This is a relatively recent addition to Founders lineup, and like everything Founders makes, it's a solid take on the style. However, having it in close proximity to Wookey Jack made me feel like this was lacking. It was fine, to be sure, and it'd probably be worth trying in a less chaotic environment. B
  • Two Roads Conntucky Lightnin' Bourbon Ale - Well, I didn't get a ton of Bourbon out of this, and it seemed a bit thin for what it proclaims on the label. Not really bad, or anything, but a bit of a disappointment. B-
  • Breckenridge Agave Wheat - Seemed pretty bland, though that sweet agave does come through in the taste. Probably should have opened this much earlier in the night, but here we are. C+
  • Pizza Boy Bean Dream - It's supposed to be a milk stout with vanilla beans, but I don't get a ton of vanilla. On the other hand, it is a pretty solid milk stout, smooth with a nice chocolatey roast character. I really need to get out to Pizza Boy one of these days... B
  • Ken's Homebrewed Bourbon Porter - This was a pretty solid take on the style, and the bourbon oak character comes through well enough, actually much better than that Conntucky Bourbon stuff from earlier. Go Ken!
  • Bonus Beer: Otter Creek Brewing / Lawson's Double Dose IPA - Whilst at beer club, someone found out that a local drinkery tapped some Lawson's Finest Liquids and Hill Farmstead, so after beer club, a small cadre of attendees made a slight detour. Now, both of the beers we had were actually collaborations that are more widely available than the typical entries from those breweries (HF sometimes sends kegs down here, but Lawson's never does), but I'm not complaining, because these were both great beers. This DIPA is fabulous. Huge hop character, citrus and pine and something almost zesty. Not quite Double Sunshine great, but definitely something I want more of. B+
  • Bonus Beer: Grassroots Convivial Suaréz - A sorta funky saison made with hibiscus, I really enjoyed this, though I didn't take any real detailed notes. Nice funky character, and the hibiscus actually does come through. B+
And another successful beer club, fun and smoked meat had by all. Already looking forward to our next meeting...

Tired Hands Compilation

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It's been a while since I've recapped recapped some recent Tired Hands beers, and these notes just keep piling up, so here goes nothing. Note that the earliest of these is from late August, so it really has been a while since I've attempted to stoke the jealousy of my readership with these local gems. Most are one-offs that will never be brewed again, but we've gotten to a point where I'm starting to recognize rebrews of some of their beers, so you never know.

Screeching Loud Thrashing Death Metal Offensive Song

SCREECHING LOUD THRASHING DEATH METAL OFFENSIVE SONG - 10.5% ABV blended old ale - Named after a review on Yelp where someone complained about the, shall we say, eclectic mix of music you hear when at TH (it looks like someone told her that they brewed this beer in her honor, so she updated her review, but the original one is still there.) A blend of 9 month old Flemish red (25%), fresh Barleywine (65%), and rye whiskey barrel fermented Barleywine (10%). Very interesting! Not a ton in the nose, but the taste is unique and interesting. I'm getting lots of chocolate, and maybe even coffee-like notes. Faint hints of cherries and a note of something bright escaping in the finish (prolly that Flemish red). Unique beer, never had anything like it. B+

Singel Hop Saison Citra - 5% ABV saison - Hurm, either this has gotten a lot better since my last glass (my previous note expressed surprise that Citra wasn't that potent - but it was great this second time), or my palate got destroyed by Vermont beer and is only coming back... Juicy citrus hops and saison spice. Glad I gave it another shot, upgrade! A-

Tabel, Sacred - 4.2% ABV spiced saison - Brewed with oats and Holy Basil, fermented with a touch of grapefruit and pomegranate. Is there a touch of funk in here? Not sure, but it's a nice, quaffable saison, with some citrus rind character, maybe a hint of lemon, an herbal note, and slight spicy yeast notes. B+

Mt.Sharp - 7.2% ABV Citra and Columbus IPA - Interesting sticky icky citrus and pine combo. Sticky and yet creamy? This is striking a chord that I can't place, but who cares, because its awesome! A-

SuchUnique - 8.2% ABV Double IPA, Simcoe & Centennial hops - Nice floral and citrus notes, mango, flowers, good stuff. Well hidden ABV. Good! A-

Pub Style Ale - 4.5% ABV pale ale brewed with oats & Centennial hops - Great nose, lots of citrus, big floral hops in the taste. Quaffable! B+

Sad State of Affairs - 8.2 % ABV DIPA - A less profane reference to the cease and desist for FarmHands? Regardless, this is a rock solid DIPA, citrus and pine, a little slickness but still well balanced. Fantastic! A-

Lizard Queen - 5.2% ABV Motueka & Centennial Pale Ale - Yep, another great pale ale, juicy citrus nose (maybe even a lemon note), some earthy floral notes too. Crushable. A-

Euphoric Sunshine Drip - 5.7% ABV spiced saison with Meyer lemon and pink peppercorn - Another typically great Tired Hands farmhouse saison, not quite funky, but that lemon makes overtures in that direction, and the peppercorn accentuates the yeast well... A-

The Multiverse - 8.1% ABV pear farmhouse DIPA - Wow, really nice pairing (pearing?) of farmhouse spice (funk?) and hops, with neither dominating, but instead melding into something different. Really nice! A-

Critical Anxious - 7.8% ABV Biere De Garde - And I didn't take any notes on this one, though I did write down that I had it, so, um, I dunno. Mulligan.

Oktüberfest - 6.1% ABV Ser Gut Yam Bier - Very nice Oktoberfest style beer, mild, light toasted bread, but still relatively sweet. Great mouthfeel on this one too. Not really my style, but this is my kinda take on the style. B+

My Favorite Show - 5.7% ABV classical modern saison - Typically great Tired Hands saison, almost funky, nice peppery notes, highly drinkable, like a slightly amped up FarmHands (er, SaisonHands). B+

Communication is the Key - 5.5% ABV crushable Simcoe pale ale - Typically great Tired Hands pale ale, big juicy fruit notes, hint of pine, crushable is a perfect descriptor. A-

Tired Hands Murky Growlers
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So I'm at the bar one night and Jean fills a couple of growlers. He gives them to some guy who's making a trip to Hill Farmstead and says that Shaun Hill likes his beer extra cloudy, so he renamed "Communication is the Key" to "Communication is the Murky" and "We Are All Infinite Energy Vibrating At The Same Frequency" to "We Are All Hazy As Hell Vibrating at the Same Cloudiness".

Fall Precious - 6.6% ABV autumnal saison - Really nice saison, it's got that typical Tired Hands farmhouse character, but it's carving out an identity of its own. Sweet up front, maybe some fruit, with the spice emerging towards the finish. A-

H.C.S. - 5.9% ABV viscous and delicious saison - Power of suggestion, or is this really viscous? Definitely a fuller body than your typical TH saison, very cloudy, a little yeasty spice, well done. B+

MortalGrade - 8.2% ABV DIPA brewed with wheat, oats, Chinook, Citra, Zythos, and Simcoe - Fantastic, one of my favorite Tired Hands DIPAs! Huge juicy citrus, some grassy, floral, and pine hop notes too. Obscenely quaffable for its ABV, no real hint of booze. Great stuff! A

MoMoCoe - 5.5% ABV Motueka, Mosaic, and Simcoe pale ale - Great juicy hop character, lots of grapefruit, nice bracing bitterness, really good! A-

Singel Hop Saison, Chinook - 5% ABV - The 8th singel hop saison, and probably around the middle of the pack. Indeed, the hops and saison yeast seem a little at odds here. Still good, of course, but not the best of the bunch. B+

Under Pressure - 7.6% Blended Artisanal Farmhouse Biere de Garde - Excellent malt forward Brett beer, some nice malty fruit notes, with some peppery yeast and complementary Brett. Great! A-

Coulton Hop - 5.5% heirloom cider/pale ale - 49% of the fermentables came from cider made of apples, pears, and quinces. Hopped with Simcoe and that's really what stands out, but it's amazing that they were able to coax something so beerlike out of something comprised of so much cider... As I drink more, the cider twang becomes more pronounced... Really nice. B+

Coulton Sour - 5.5% heirloom cider/Berliner Weiss - Similar approach with the cider used as fermantable. Holy sour patch kids, this is super tart, and you really get that cider side of things here too. Really interesting beers here. A-

Cosmic Slop - 8.3% DIPA - Tired Hands' 200th batch is a typically great fruit and hop forward DIPA, lots of citrus, pine, and floral notes, very well done B+

Hail Santa - 6.4% ABV Rye IPA - Slightly darker than typical, but still a pale yellow, beautiful juicy hop nose, with some floral and spicy notes hitting in the taste. Really good! B+

I See a Darkness - 8.5% ABV porter brewed with coffee and honey - Collaboration with Sante Adairius, very nice, bigger than normal porter. Tried getting some a few days later, but they were out... B+

Sgt. Salamander - 5% ABV Holiday Sour Berliner Weiss - Wow, this has a typical Berliner nose, but the taste is all sorts of great. Really tight lactic sourness, puckering really, and it's great. Also had some dosed with cinnamon & vanilla bean syrup that just puts this miles ahead. Super flavorful. B+ (regular) and A- (with syrup)

Trendler - 5.5% ABV alt bier - Very interesting and different, Jean is branching out here, malt forward but not heavy at all... B+

Praise Bee - 9% 2X honey IBA - Zombie rides again... Sorta! Doesn't quite live up to zombie levels, but it's really good, nice hop character, well matched dark malts, excellent. A-

Circumambulation - 7.2% biere de garde - Fermented with kolsch yeast and lagered three weeks, this is a subtle beer, super creamy head, not a typical TH feel, but still very good, lots of muted flavors, complex but not overwhelming... B

Bucolic Overlord

Bucolic Overlord - 8% DIPA - Brewed with oats, Citra, Columbus, and Simcoe hops. Great stuff, dank and resinous, with floral and citrus notes rounding it out. Superb! A

VOID ego VOID - 9.8% ABV blended imperial stout - Partially barrel aged in Tuthilltown rye whiskey barrels for 7 months... Not a lot of barrel character, roasty up front, sweet towards the finish with a nice hit of vanilla. Not as thick or heavy as you'd expect, but it still has admirable heft. I really enjoyed this! A-

Principal Eel - 6% sour farmhouse IPA - Well this is unusual, better than the last sour IPA I had from TH last year, but something about the strong hop and sour combo doesn't completely work for me... B

All-O-Gistics - 5.9% Experimental IPA - Experimental hop #05256 - Whoa carbonation! Not that I'm complaining, but this is more carbonated than your typical Tired Hands beer. Great juicy hop nose, citrus, pine, and grass. Maybe something like green onion. Taste is more piney and it's got a sharp bitterness. Definitely not your typical Tired Hands IPA, but still great. A-

Can't Keep Up - 6.2% Spontaneous Saison - Fermented in old Tuthilltown rye barrels that had previously been used to make some apple cider (by frequent TH collaborator, Tom Culton), only 10 gallons produced. Amazing, nice oak character, sharp but very pleasant sourness, almost vinous tart fruit, really great. I love this! A

And that just about covers it. If you're local and heading over to the next release on Sunday, let me know!

Maine Weez

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Maine Brewing (out of, well, let's just leave it at Maine) has never really blown me away, but I'm always intrigued to try a new brew from them. I haven't seen many lately, but on a recent excursion, I jumped at this sucker. It's a counterpart to Maine's Another One IPA; both beers use the same hop schedule (Warrior, Cascade, Citra, Simcoe), but while Another One has a very clean malt bill, the Weez here incorporates various dark and roasty malts (making this one of them American Black Ale thingies, or India Black Ales, or whatever you want to call them). An interesting idea, though I really wish I had the counterpart IPA to compare notes!

Maine Weez

Maine Weez - Pours. Very dark, almost black, with a few fingers of light brown head and lots of lacing as I drink. Smell hits first with fruity citrus and pine hops, and then those dark malts kick in, bringing some toasty aromas to play. Taste has a muted feel, roast and those citrus and pine hops, followed by a dry, bitter finish. Mouthfeel is highly carbonated, but tight, with a lighter body than you might expect, and a fair amount of dryness too. Overall, this is decent stuff. B

Beer Nerd Details: 7.2% ABV bottled (500 ml capped). Drank out of a tulip glass on 2/1/14. Bottled 12/31/13 (there's also a "04" on the label, presumably a batch number?)

So there you have it. I will be on the lookout for Another One, amongst, well, other ones from Maine.

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
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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!)

Tired Hands Anniversary

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Today was Tired Hands' one year anniversary, and they had a big shindig featuring lots of fantastic beers. As per usual, their events are a bit of a madhouse, but they did a good job keeping up with the demand, and it helps that the new and special beers they were serving were nothing short of spectacular. Big congratulations to Tired Hands for living up to lofty expectations and establishing themselves as the best brewer in the area.

Lunch of Champions: Only Void and an Everything Pretzel
Yummy Everything Pretzel paired with Hophands mustard and Only Void

I had quite a few things today, and for shits and giggles, I'll include stuff I've had from the past few months as well, because why not? Yeah, I suppose the fact that most of them are already gone forever is a pretty good reason not to dwell on them, but how else am I to make my readers jealous?

St.Oner - No picture! Sorry about that! One of Tired Hands' typically fantastic IPAs. It's getting very hard to judge these against one another, as they're all so damn good. The big twist with this one is a very juicy citrus character, presumably from the hops but also maybe some fresh fruit. Pleasant bitterness, and at 6.5% ABV it was downright quaffable and refreshing on a hot day. A-

Romulon

Romulon - Wow, this is a beautiful gueuze-like sour blend (wine barrel fermented Saison and fresh Saison). Very nice oak character, a bright but not overwhelming sourness, tart fruits, just fantastic! While technically a saison, I'd put it right up there with some of the fantastic gueuzes I've been having lately. Indeed, this is probably a contender for my favorite Tired Hands beer ever (even though that's a sorta impossible choice!) A

Only Void

Only Void - Tired Hands has a little fermentation chalkboard and I feel like this beer has been sitting on there since last year. A massive 12% imperial stout conditioned on stainless steel (there are some barrel aged variants coming), pours black with tan head. Nice roasty nose, dark chocolate is there too (and becomes more pronounced as I drink), maybe a hint of coffee in the nose too. Taste has that well balanced roast and coffe note, some earthiness, but also lots of chocolate and some rich caramel and maybe even some hop bitterness in the finish. Really well balanced flavors for such a monster beer. Mouthfeel is rich, full bodied, and smooth. It's not quaffable or anything, and it would work as a dessert sipper, but it's pretty easy going for something this big. Only a slight alcohol warming in the belly... Because I drank too quickly! Overall, it's a fantastic imperial stout. A

Our Berry Vest

Our Berry Vest - A blend of the aforementioned Only Void and a strong brown ale called "So It Goes" (which I've never seen or had before) conditioned on fresh strawberries. At 11.5% ABV, this is no fru-fru beer, and it actually has some sour notes to go along with the fruity strawberry. Really interesting beer, it's got the Only Void notes of roast and dark chocolate softened considerably by a sour fruity character, strawberries coming through clearly, much lighter body than Only Void, but still a big beer. An almost chocolate covered strawberry feel (ok, perhaps not quite like that, but still really good). Great variation on the theme. Glad I sprung for this one. A-

And that covers what I managed to greedily gulp down today. In order to fan the flames of jealousy, here's some more stuff that I've had over the past couple months...

The Light That Spills Out of the Whole in Your Head - In the running for weirdest/awesomest beer name. A 6% citrus pale ale, great juicy hop character full of citrus, really easy drinking and refreshing. One of the few beers Tired Hands has brewed more than once (I think! I know I had this before, but for some reason, never recapped it). A-

Tralfamadorian - They called this a 6.8% barrel fermented biere de garde, but it basically feels like a lighter bodied Flanders Red. Whoa, robey tones, dense tan head, pretty. Taste is reminiscent of Domo, sorta a Flemish red, but with slightly less body. Light on the oak, some sharp sourness, but not overwhelming. Nice sour cherry notes, really well done. A-

Station - A 5.8% Simcoe IPA? Sign me up! Cloudy straw yellow, beautiful grapefruit citrus nose, ditto in taste, with some light herbal notes too. Light and quaffable, very nice! Grading on a curve: B+

Wiggle Wurm - 9.2% DIPA, clear golden yellow, citrus & pine hop aroma, very sweet on the palate, sticky but not cloying. Solid! B+

Wisdom Teeth - Darwin Solera series number 4, a 6% Brett pale ale. This series is seriously mellowing out with each new installment. It's still got that funky salinity, but it's more well rounded and integrated. It's a fun series of beers, highly drinkable stuff and getting better with each iteration. B+

My Briefcase Says "Time Is Money" - Another fantastic name. It's a 5.7% Black IPA, nice drinkable beer, not as hoppy as you'd expect, but not super roasty either, striking an interesting balance. B+

Eye 4A Face - A 4.5% dry hopped farmhouse mild conditioned on oak. Dark golden hues, nice citrus hops in the nose, taste more malt focused, maybe a hint of oak, plenty of bitterness, easy drinking. B+

CuzCuz - Southern Hemisphere IPA filled with New Zealand hops, etc - Super cloudy straw yellow, bright citrus and herbal hops, floral too, really nice, easy drinking stuff... B+

Tabula Rasa - Classic modern saison at 6.2% ABV. I got a super yeasty pour, almost milky looking, Jean said that happens sometimes and it's really annoying because he has to sacrifice a bunch of beer to get past the yeast plug. It was drinkable, but he gave me another glass after he cleared the line some. Once I got a proper glass, it was still super cloudy, but at least it was yellow! Nice peppery yeast in the nose, a lot like Farmhands. Taste has that big saison yeast character, spicy sweet, similar to Farmhands but a bit more body. Medium bodied, smooth, spicy, very nice. Overall, really nice. B+

Pineal - Mosaic Amarillo Simcoe IPA at 6%, this may be my first real Mosaic hopped beer? Can that be? Well if this is any indication, I'm going to have to seek out some more! Bright cloudy yellow, beautiful nose, citrus, pine, nice floral aspect, great nose. Taste has nice sweetness, big juicy citrus notes, pine and floral notes too. Great beer. A-

Caskette - Hoppy golden mild at 4%. Yellow color, fantastic juicy hop nose, biscuity malts make a nice platform for those hops, compulsively drinkable. Would have loved to tried the one they actually put on cask! B+

Jittery Tiger - An oatmeal stout brewed with espresso at 6.6%. Black with tan head, big roast coffee nose, strong coffee in taste, roasty, bitter. Coffee beers are not normally my thing... but I like this. Not my favorite evar or anything, but good, and goes down easy... B+

Yellow & Green - A 4.5% all Cascade Keller pils. Nice yellow color, some herbal hops, plenty if citrus too, classic Cascade hop character. Feels more like a pale ale than a pils, but it's really quite nice... B+

Carpathian Kitten Loss - An 8.8% DIPA brewed with rye. Citra & Simcoe hopped, this has an amazing aroma, bright oranges up in my noseballs, citrus hops all they way... Taste is fantastic too, lots of citrus hops, bright, nice spicy rye or caramel note, a hint of booze but well balanced, way too easy to drink for the ABV, smooth. Delicious, better than the last couple DIPAs that they've made... A-

Phew. That's a lot of beer (spread out over the past few months, I assure you!). I feel very lucky to have Tired Hands out here in my backyard (ok, a half hour away, but still). Really looking forward to the Only Void bottle release (coming soonish, I think), especially those bottle conditioned variants.

Yeastie Boys Pot Kettle Black

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This pair of part-time Kiwi contract brewers greatly impressed me last time around with a peat smoked beer that had no business being as good as it turned out. Perhaps not a mainstream sort of beer, it nevertheless appealed to my penchant for Scotch and made this jaded beer nerd's heart grow three times larger. As such, I picked up the only other beer of theirs I've run across, their flagship beer, Pot Kettle Black. They call it a porter, but you would probably know it better as a Black IPA (or American Black Ale or whatever the heck you call that style) So let's find out why the eponymous Pot is such a goddamn racist hypocrite, shall we?

Yeastie Boys Pot Kettle Black

Yeastie Boys Pot Kettle Black - Pours a very dark brown color with colossal amounts of head. I swears, I didn't pour this thing like an asshole, it's just very well carbonated! Aroma has hints of roast, but is mostly herbal, spicy, floral hops. Taste has a surprising richness to it, lots of crystal malt character, again just a hint of that roast, and the herbal, floral hops are subtle, but prominent. Mouthfeel is highly carbonated, but not overcarbonated. Full bodied, rich, but finishing drier than expected (and perhaps the carbonation has something to do with that). Overall, this doesn't really fit with a typical American Black Ale (or Black IPA, or whatever you call it), but it's not really a porter/stout either. Unique, complex, interesting. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 6% ABV bottled (11.2 oz). Drank out of a tulip glass on 3/23/13.

Well, that marks two really weird, but really good entries from this obscure NZ brewery. I'm going to have to find more stuff from them, as I appear to have exhausted my local bottle shop's supply of different beers (which, at 2, wasn't exactly overflowing, but still). (I suppose I should note: despite the date and corresponding obscurity of the brewer, I do legitimately like this brewer/beer, which totally does exist and is well worth trying out. Ok, so reading that sentence back makes it seem like I'm trying to throw you off the scent of my delightful April Fools prank, but I swears, this is totally, completely serious. Well, not completely serious, as I did make that crack about the pot being a racist hypocrite because he called the kettle black, but you get my point. Right? So to recap, this is a legitimate post. For reals. Ok, dammit, is there a way to say that that doesn't come off as ironic or sarcastic? No? I should just stop? Well too bad, because now I'm worried that I'm overselling this beer/brewery. I mean, I really enjoyed it when I drank it, but the A- was probably a bit generous. Or maybe not. Maybe I should try another. Are you still reading this? I sure hope not. Then why am I still writing it? Don't try and change the subject. The real question is: why on earth are you still reading this? I think I've written more in this pointless parenthetical than I have in the whole rest of the post, so I guess I should actually stop now. It's been real. Thanks for reading, I guess. Have a good one!)

February Beer Club

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Yeah, so I'm still running dry on beer puns. Fortunately, there's a pretty good chance you don't care about that, so I'll just explain that Beer club is a meeting of beer minded individuals from my work who get together for a meal and lots-o-beer once a month. It ended up being a rather small gathering this month, with just the core group showing up... and yet, plenty of fantastic beer was had by all.

Beer Club February 2013
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Despite the less than ideal conditions, I'm going to record my thoughts on each sampled beer. For posterity! Yeah, the sip test is often unreliable, so take this with a giant boulder of gourmet sea salt, you nerd (he sez, as if it's a bad thing). Roughly in order of tasting (not necessarily the order in the above picture):

  • Samuel Smith's Organic Lager - Pretty standard Euro-lager affair here, though perhaps a higher quality version of such. Nice noble hoppiness and a surprising yeast character (nowhere near a Belgian strain, but it did add character to an otherwise normal beer). B
  • Eagle Rock Jubilee - One of my contributions for the night, or should I say, it's actually Jay's contribution, as this was part of our trade. I figured I shouldn't hog all of it to myself, though perhaps I should have, as this was reallly good. Smooth, creamy, spiced but not harshly so, this was a beauty. They call it a spiced old ale, but it feels a whole lot like a winter warmer and heck, let's just call it good beer. Beer Club crowd seemed mighty impressed as well. A-
  • Cisco Lady of the Woods - My other contribution, I liked it so much the first time, that I just had to share another with everyone else. I'm always surprised at how well received sour beers are by the Beer Club crowd, though perhaps I shouldn't be. I tend to call this beer club, but it originally began as beer and wine club, and this beer certainly has a nice Chardonnay character that turned some heads. Still an A by my reckoning...
  • Heavy Seas Black Cannon - One of them semi-local Maryland breweries, this wound up being a very solid black IPA. Beautiful nose, slight roasted malt character dominated by piney, resinous hops and maybe a bit of citrus. Alas, the taste didn't quite hold up, though again, still a very solid beer. B
  • Flying Fish Grand Cru Winter Reserve - Hoo boy, I hope you like clove, cause they must have packed this thing to the gills with cloves. Fortunately, I do like that, though the beer is pretty straightforward otherwise. B
  • Ommegang Three Philosophers - One of my long time favorites, just as good as ever. Fancy new label, too...
  • Heavy Seas Bourbon Barrel Aged Siren Noire - Holy chocolate milk, Batman! Seriously, like drinking slightly boozy yoohoo. Not getting much bourbon at all, though perhaps it's contributing to the almost creamy, vanilla character that goes so well with the chocolate flavors that dominate this beer. Really enjoyable and perhaps the most interesting beer of the night, if not exactly the best. B+
  • BrewDog Tokyo* - Another beer I've had before, this thing is a total monster. Clocking in at over 18% ABV, it's a pretty potent beer, though the solid malt backbone and addition of cranberries and jasmine help even that out a bit. Still a B+ in my book.
And with that, we had to cut things a bit short. A few sad beers were left unopened, but it was starting to snow and we didn't want to crack open that bottle of 14% Samichlaus (seriously, beer club compatriot Anthony brought Samichlaus and Tokyo*, which average out to somewhere around 16% ABV, pretty badass if you ask me. As a fan of older vintages of Samichlaus, I advised him to cellar this 2010 vintage until at least next Christmas and he seemed pretty excited about that prospect). So that just about covers it for this beer club. At the next beer club, my Fat Weekend IPA should be ready to go, so I'm pretty excited.

Novembeer Club

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Tonight was beer club, a meeting of beer minded individuals from my work who get together once a month to share good beer, a good meal, and good company! We typically congregate at a local BYOB to share all our brews and wines and whatnot. As per usual, much merriment was had by all, lots of beer and wine and good food. It ended up being a rather small gathering by our normal standards, but still plenty of fantastic beer shared by all.

Novembeer Club
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For the sake of posterity, some thoughts on each beer are below. Standard disclaimers about the fact that I wasn't in a sensory deprivation chamber whilst tasting these, and in a lot of cases, I was only sampling rather small pours, but whatevers. Take these descriptions with a grain of salt if you're really concerned, but you really shouldn't be, because I'm pretty awesome. Or not. Whatever. Here's what I had (in order of drinking, not necessarily in order of the picture above):

  • Kaedrin Abbey Dubbel - My homebrewed abbey dubbel style beer seems to still be conditioning, though it's getting better every week. Right now, it's quite tasty, if a bit boozy, and the carbonation doesn't seem to have fully taken hold of the brew. This is actually somewhat expected, given that the brew came in much stronger than I had originally intended. I suspect this will be drinking fabulously in a few weeks or so... I wll refrain from rating right now, just cause I want to give it some more time to mature...
  • Turkey Drool Homebrew - A friend of a friend of a friend contributed this homebrew, which actually seemed to fall a little flat, especially when compared with other brews we had tonight. There didn't seem to be any off flavors, per say, but on the other hand, what was there was very subtle if not non-existent. From the ingredient list, I was expecting much more out of this. Again, not the worst thing evar and certainly drinkable, but also completely forgetable. C+
  • New Belgium Snow Day - A strange, but mostly enjoyable brew. BeerAdvocate classifies it as an American Black Ale, but I would say that it's more of hoppy red ale than that implies. Maybe some winter warmer base here, but quite a nice hop character to it. Overall, very drinkable stuff, a nice hop presence, but it's not going to light the world on fire either. B
  • Great Lakes Christmas Ale (2011) - Kaedrin friend Dana procured this last year, and has held on to it since then. Apparently a highly sought after beer, this is a very light colored winter warmer style offering, reminiscent of a deeper English pale ale that doesn't quite contain any of that diacetyl character I associate with it. Sweet, a very light spiciness, flavorful, but not quite blowing me away either. I can see why this is a prized holiday brew, but it's not something I go out of my way for... B
  • Westmalle Trappist Tripel - A classic, which I have already reviewed in detail. For the most part, it's as good as evar. On a personal level, I've cooled somewhat on the tripel style, though I still quite enjoy one every once in a while... A
  • Kona Pipeline Porter - Holy coffee, Batman! This is apparently a porter, but it's heavily influenced by coffel flavors all throughout, sorta light a lighter Founders Breakfast Sout. I'm not really a fan of coffee or porters in general, so it's pretty amazing that I didn't tink of this as the worst thing I've ever tasted. It's actually pretty solid and goes down easily. That being said, I don't think I'd ever really seek to try this again... B-
  • Weyerbacher Winter Ale - Another beer I've had and reviewed before. For the most part, my feelings remain unchanged. It's a fine beer, a pretty standard winter warmer, but I'd like to see more complexity and flavor out of this one. B
  • Monk's Café Flemish Sour Red Ale - One of my contributions for the night, this is one of those beers often recommended to sour newbies, and it actually did seem to go over really well with the beer club folks, even those who don't go in for normal beertastic stuff. A nice malt backbone and sweet fruit character followed by a very slight sourness that nevertheless cut through and made this one of the more flavorful brews of the night. Overall, definitely a nice beginners sour beer, something I'll probably try again at some point as well... B+
  • Nebraska Hop God - Reserve Series Aged In French Oak Chardonnay Barrels - Yet another of my contributions for the night, this one turned out to be interesting, if not quite what I expected from a beer called "Hop God". Hops certainly play a role in the flavor profile, but it's mostly defined by that oak Chardonnay character, with some booze peeking through as well. It's really quite nice, though I wish I had a better palate for white wine. B or B+
  • Victory Storm King Stout - Once again, we get a beer I've had before. It's a beer I've come to appreciate more and more over the years, but I still wouldn't rate it among the highest imperial stouts. Still a solid stout with a big hop presence. B+
  • Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout - My last contribution for the night, this is just as good as it was the last time I had it. Beer club peeps seemed to enjoy, though there were a couple that don't particularly enjoy those bourbon flavors, and thus didn't care for this. Me, I'll leave it at an A.
And there you have it. Another successful outing, as per usual. Alas, we didn't get to all the beers we brought (I was particularly interested in Lancaster's Winter Warmer, but I'm sure I'll catch up with it sometime). Already looking forward to next month and some more holiday brews...

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

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