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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...

Independence Day

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Every year, a local drinkery puts together a killer taplist on the 4th of July, and for the past two, I've tried to make it over there. Of course, it helps that they're pouring stuff like Hill Farmstead (insert stupid image of Wolverine pining after beer here), and this year there were 2 that I had not managed to wrangle before. In addition, I snagged my first Funky Buddha beer, and a little midwest coffee stout. Let's just say that it was a good day.

Hill Farmstead Nordic Saison

Hill Farmstead Nordic Saison - Pretty excited to try this one, a collaboration with Kissmeyer and Cambridge brewing. Apparently we got some of this before it was even released at HF! Pours a cloudy golden orange color with a whispy layer of head on top that basically just disappears. Smells nice, Belgian yeast, light saison funk, almost fruity notes. Taste follows the nose, light funk, some yeasty character, fair amount of sweetness, a little balancing bitterness in the finish. Mouthfeel is lightly carbonated (generally a problem for me) and a little heavier than your typical saison. Overall, this is a fine saison, but coming from the likes of HF, I generally expect more (Arthur was on tap, and was far superior). B

Beer Nerd Details: ??% ABV on tap (10 oz). Drank out of a snifter on 7/4/14.

Hill Farmstead George

Hill Farmstead George - This looks to be a pretty standard American Brown Ale style beer. It's not a style that you would expect to wow you, and it doesn't, though of course, HF's take is amongst the best I've ever had (if not the best). Dark brown color, solid finger and a half of light tan head. Smells about what you'd expect from a brown ale, mild, toasted malt, hints of coffee, chocolate, and roast, maybe a teensy bit of hops, but nothing dramatic. Taste follows the nose, mild toast and roast, well balanced sweetness and bitterness, and so on. Mouthfeel is fantastic, well carbonated, medium bodied, everything blends together well. Overall, this is an exceedingly well balanced, tasty take on the style. It's not going to melt your face, but it's really well done. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 6% ABV on tap (10 oz). Drank out of a snifter on 7/4/14.

So I know what you're thinking, two Hill Farmstead beers and no A level ratings? Well fear not, Abner, Susan, and Arthur were also on tap and are all as fantastic as ever. But after the above two, I jumped ship for my first Funky Buddha beer. They're a Florida brewery that doesn't get much in the way of distribution, but Philly really is a wondertown in that respect, so a few kegs make their way up here from time to time. This offering was, by far, the weirdest thing I had all day.

Funky Buddha Last Snow

Funky Buddha Last Snow - This is a coffee Porter made with coconut, white chocolate and caramel, and it is weirder than it sounds. Looks like a typical stout or porter, half a finger of fluffy tan head. That coconut and coffee come through strong in the nose. I don't think I'd call it balanced, but it comes off as being toasted coconut or something, and it works. The taste perhaps features a little more of that roasted malt and coffee, but the coconut sweetness still pervades the taste and again, it works reasonably well. Mouthfeel is surprisingly light on its feet, well carbonated, pretty easy going. Overall, it's a really interesting, unique, complex beer. Not something that I'd expect to take the world by storm, but an interesting first impression. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 6.5% ABV on tap (10 oz). Drank out of a snifter on 7/4/14.

Perennial Sump

Perennial Sump Coffee Stout - A big ol' imperial stout brewed with coffee. I think we all know how I feel about coffee stouts (I like them, but am still mostly ambivalent about the coffee aspect), so I wasn't expecting much out of this sucker, and it was basically what I expected. My tasting notes are pretty sparse from this point on, so I'm just going from memory here, but this did have a nice coffee character to it, and a solid imperial stout base. It was not a super drinkable stout, and took my a while to work through. I liked it, but was not going as crazy over it as everyone else. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 10.5% ABV on tap (10 oz). Drank out of a snifter on 7/4/14.

So this was a very good day. Lots of new, interesting beer, and some real, genuine classics that I'd had before but will always jump to try again (looking at you, Abner!) Already looking forward to next year's 4th of July celebration!

Posting will probably be light this week, but never fear, we'll be talking great beer again in no time.

November Beer Club

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Tonight was Beer Club, a gathering of beer minded friends from work who get together every month at a local BYOB for libations and fun. This month, we hit up a local BBQ joint, which is always nice. Got me some smoked Chorizo, Brisket, and some fixins which made for a great accompaniment to all the beer. And there was a lot of it this time around. The picture is actually missing a bunch of bottles because we did not account for people showing up later with their own stuff.

beerclub-november13.jpg
(Click for larger version)

So yeah, lots of stuff this month, so these notes are almost certainly useless, but for the sake of posterity, I'm including them anyway. Because I'm a good person, that's why. Yeah, let's get to it: in approximate order of drinking (not necessarily pictured):

  • Southern Tier Krampus - An "Imperial Helles" is sorta like a contradiction in terms, but hey, it's an amped up Helles, and it works well enough. Nice uncommon hop character gives an otherwise clean beer the punch it needs. Really quite nice. B+
  • Ithaca Excelsior! White Gold - Bottle wasn't quite a gusher, and we managed to not lose any, but it was hugely carbonated and most of us poured a cup of foam that resolved into more normal beerlike appearance in a minute or two. Once we got to it, it was pretty damn good. Nice Belgian yeast character, wheat is there but not as dominant as you might think (slightly reminiscent of something like St. Bernardus Tokyo). This was one of the first beers we tasted, and I liked it a lot, but we revisited it towards the end of the night and damn, it got almost (not quite) sour. Big fruity esters started showing up when it was warm. Again, not quite sour, but it was going in that direction. All in all, I enjoyed this more than the Ithaca Excelsior Rye beer I had recently... B+
  • Victory Root Beer - Yep, it's a root beer! I'm no expert (hay, there's no alcohol in this!?), but it's really good as root beers go.
  • Sprecher Bootlegger's Bourbon Barrel Hard Root Beer - Not sure I would have pegged this as having anything to do with a bourbon barrel, let alone an alcoholic beverage at all, but perhaps the power of suggestion lead me to believe that there was some bourbon present in the taste. Or something. Ultimately, it drinks like a good root beer, which is nice...
  • Avery White Rascal - A beer I've had before and greatly enjoyed, it doesn't quite fit in with a tasting like this - it is easily overwhelmed by the other brews of the night. Still, I like this as a lawnmower beer on a hot day (alas, it's pretty cold here these days). B
  • River Horse Double Wit - I don't know if it's the 7% ABV or the way this was spiced, but it didn't really connect with me. It's not bad at all, and other folks appreciated the different take on spice and booze level, but it never quite hit me where I wanted it to. B-
  • Ken's Homebrewed Schwarzbier - We need to get on Ken to start entering his beers into untappd or something, because these are getting good. Not my favorite style, but it's a nice dark lager style beer, clean and crisp, lighter than it looks, and quite flavorful. Toasty but not quite full on roast. Me likey. B+
  • Kaedrin Xmas Dubbel - My homebrewed dubbel, with a slight dose of cinnamon when I was bottling, is actually drinking really well right now. The regular dubbel has really matured and changed a lot over time, getting more and more raisiny, but this one was more subdued (not that there's anything wrong with that). I'll leave it at B+
  • Lost Abbey Deliverance - One of my other contributions, and a beer I've reviewed before! It's still great. A-
  • Atwater Vanilla Java Porter - While opening this directly after Deliverance was a supremely bad idea, I still get the impression that this would underwhelm. It does have a nice vanilla character, but it's a little thinner than I generally want out of a stout and while I'm not a big fan of coffee, it's nonexistent here. Certainly a drinkable beer and would be welcome change of pace at a macro bar, but it's not something to really seek out. C+
  • Spring House Big Gruesome Chocolate Peanut Butter Stout - Can I just point you to a review from a couple weeks ago? No? Well too bad, cause that's what I'm doing. Still a B+ in my book.
  • Smuttynose Old Brown Dog Ale - The younger, weaker, smaller sibling to Really Old Brown Dog is a rather straightforward brown ale, which naturally has its merits (nice toasted malt and some heft to it) but again, should've probably opened this earlier in the night. Still glad I tried this, just to give context to Really old Brown Dog if not for its regular solid nature. B
  • Saucony Creek Chocolate Cherry Schnickelfritz - An object lesson in things sounding better than they taste, this seems to be a relatively well made imperial milk stout, but it's got this artificial feeling cherry aspect that sorta ruined the beer for me. Not an abomination, but not particularly good either. I guess all the beers I bring can't be winners! C
  • Ommegang Game Of Thrones #2 - Take the Black Stout - These Game of Thrones beers are actually pretty solid introductions to the whole Belgian beer world, and they work well enough for beer dorks too (a neat trick, appealing to the jaded hardcore and mainstream alike). I actually would call this more of a roasty Belgian Strong Dark rather than a full on stout, but to each their own. It's got a nice Belgian yeast character, spice and light fruit, with a hint of that roasted malt too, but the carbonation (and presumably attenuation) cuts through more than your typical stout. Still, it's very good, if not my favorite Ommegang beer. B+
  • River Horse Special Ale - No idea why this was opened so late in the night, but it's such a profoundly average beer that I doubt it would have made that much of an impression earlier in the night. There's absolutely nothing wrong wit it, and it's certainly a step up from fizzy yellow stuff light lagers, but its not really something to get excited about. C+
  • Victory Harvest Ale - I totally fell in love with Victory's Harvest Ale last year (and while I'm not a big Pils guy, the Harvest Pils was pretty good too), but this year's take fell completely flat to me. Not bad, per say, but something about this is rubbing me the wrong way. Perhaps it was a different hop variety, perhaps they used their Kolsch yeast instead of their normally clean IPA yeast, but whatever the case, it didn't inspire like last years. Again, it's pretty good, but it's disappointing. And I had this a couple weeks ago straight from the source too, so it's not just palate fatigue talking here! B
Yikes, that was a lot of beers. Luckily there were a lot of people in attendance, so my tastes were limited on most of these (yet another reason to take my notes with a grain of salt), but this was a really fun installment. Here's to hoping the December one will be just as great!

Tired Hands Monster Beers

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As previously mentioned, Tired Hands really gets into the spirit of the Halloween season. Last year, they made a series of beers named after classic monsters like Vampire, Zombie (a personal favorite), Ghost, Goblin, and so on. This year's theme appears to be 80s horror monsters, including some suitably obscure choices that warm this jaded horror movie lover's heart (if you're so inclined, check out my generalist blog, where I've been marathoning horror movies for about six weeks at this point). As I write this, Tired Hands is hosting their All Hallows' Eve Supper which features all of these beers and food pairings (not to mention an exclusive, Captain Howdy, which sounds rather great). Alas, I was not very quick on the gun for that, so no supper for me. I'll have to content myself with the regular awesomeness of their beer. So let's do this:

Jason

Jason - 6.9% citrus IPA - Awesome juicy ipa, citrus and pine hops, nice bitterness in the finish, just great! I feel like I should have more to say about this since I really enjoyed it, but I'll just note that Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives is arguably the best of the series (with strong contenders in IV and of course, the original). A-

Pinhead - 5.9% ABV saison with cascade, Simcoe, and Amarillo hops - Nice blend of saison and pale ale attributes, a little sweet saison spice upfront with the hops hitting in the middle and contributing a nice bitterness to the finish. In other news, they're remaking Hellraiser. Barker is involved, which is promising, and it's hard to be annoyed by this when there are literally, like, 7 sequels, most pretty terrible. On the other hand, dammit Clive, we need you to finish that third Book of the Art you started writing, oh, 20 years ago (though apparently the manuscript for The Scarlet Gospels, another book he's been talking about for decades, has been sent to the publisher, so that's cool)! And now that I've spent more time talking about Clive Barker than the beer itself, I'll stop. B+

Herbert West

Herbert West - 7.6% ABV Coffee IPA Ethiopian Worka beans courtesy of ReAnimator coffee in Philly (hence the name of this beer) - An interesting spin on your typical Tired Hands IPA, juicy hops of course, but the coffee adds something that doesn't immediately read as coffee. Easy to pick out when you know it's there, but the character is more earthy and almost chocolaty than your typical coffee. In other news, don't you think that the severed head from Re-Animator looks an awful lot like John Kerry? A-

This next beer is a sour wheat saison brewed with PA wildflower honey and fermented atop passion fruit, lime, and grapefruit. Jean kept posting pictures of the pellicle on Twitter, but when I looked at it under my electron microscope, I saw this:

Screenshot from The Thing

The Thing - 6% sour wheat fruit saison - Um, wut? Halp, this am so fruity that I can has lolcat speech. For realz, this is very strange and quite pleasant, tropical fruit all over, light tartness that is perfectly balanced, sorta like a bigger, stronger Berliner Weiss, really nice! Also, The Thing holds up pretty damn well. Best damn practical effects ever. A-

Freddy - 8% robust porter - Dark like my nightmares, not your typical porter, lots of complexity, chocolate, coffee, very light roast, hint of caramel, smooth as can be, easy going. Keep picking out new flavors as I drink. Really solid stuff! I know Robert Englund got a little down for a while because he was so well known for this one character, but he's become this great horror icon, a grand old man in the genre, and he's raised the profile of a lot of small horror movies in the past decade, so good on him. And Freddy (at least in the first film), is still fantastic. B+

Emerald Skeletons Listening To Your Footsteps - 7.5% IPA - I suppose this is arguably not part of the Monsters series, but it sounds pretty scary, and apparently Emerald Skeletons are gigantic spiders, which are terrifying in themselves, so I'm including it. And yep, another typically great Tired Hands style IPA (at this point, I'm pretty sure I can pick out their IPAs blind), standard citrus and pine, maybe some floral hops too, interesting complexity beyond the hops that's hard to place, but all is well balanced and it's really nice stuff. A-

Blonde Zombie - 11.5% imperial honey IPA - This is basically the same beer as last year's Zombie, but without any of the dark malts. Whoa, this is really nice, citrus, pine, and floral hops in the nose and taste, a little sticky, but it doesn't feel like 11.5% at all. Dangerously drinkable for such a monster (pun intended!)... I might still prefer the original Zombie, but this is still a great beer. Favorite zombie movie I saw during my horror movie marathon this year: Pontypool. It doesn't quite stick the ending, but it's pretty solid (but then, I'm not much of a zombie fanatic, so take this with a grain of salt). A-

Marty Rantzen

Marty Rantzen - 6.8% smoked gourd brown ale - I love the obscurity of this beer name's reference, and if you haven't seen Slaughter High, um, well, you're in for something strange. For instance, during a sex scene, the girl asks the guy for a little mid-coital dirty talk and he responds with "Uhh..tits! Screw! Tits!" He's a poet, I guess. Also notable, someone is dispatched with... a "poisoned" can of Pabst Blue Ribbon (that or it's just regular PBR, they never really say). Oh yeah, the beer. It's a straightforward brown ale base with some added complexity (presumably from the smoked gourds, though I can't really pick them out), nice toasted malt character, easy drinking. I like. B+

Will the real Marty Rantzen stand up?

So there you have it. A pretty interesting bunch of beers, actually, so kudos to Tired Hands. Moar holiday beer reviews to come later this week.

Oktober Beer Club

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Tonight was Beer Club, a gathering of beer minded friends from work who get together every month at a local BYOB for libations and fun. This month, someone decided to bring beers she thought would be disgusting. And they were! We should probably discourage this practice, but on the other hand, sometimes you just need to bite the bullet and try some Cave Creek Chili Beer or, in this case, some of Rogue's recent offerings.

Oktober Beer Club

Half-blinkered thoughts on each beer are recorded below for posterity, though standard tasting disclaimers apply and I'm a moron so take it all with a grain of salt. In order of drinking (not necessarily the order in the pictar):

  • Tired Hands Jason - One of my contributions, and a great way to start the night. I'll probably talk more about this at some other time, but for now it's a very nice, juicy IPA, great hop character and that citrus fruit really comes through. Reminiscent of last year's "Vampire" beer. A-
  • Rogue Beard Beer - This beer's gimmick is that it's made using yeast that was found in their head brewer's beard. Sounds appetizing, no? Well, no, but the beer itself was nowhere near as bad as I was expecting. It felt sorta like a bland Belgian pale ale, with some light spicy yeast notes and some sweetness. So not the worst thing ever, but perhaps I set the bar too low on this one. B-
  • Jerry's Homebrew "SB" - Mystery homebrew from one member who got it from a friend of a friend, or something. Don't know what "SB" stands for, but that's all it was labeled with. But it turned out to be a pretty good beer in the style of a brown ale or soemthing like that. Not something to go crazy over, but a good homebrew. B
  • Rogue Voodoo Doughnut Chocolate, Peanut Butter & Banana Ale - I actually had no real problem with the first Voodoo Doughnut beer, but then again, it's a smoked beer and no one likes those. I don't know why they thought it was a good idea to continue this collaboration with Voodoo Doughnuts, but I guess they're actually selling this stuff. This was a pretty terrible beer. I get hints of that chocolate and peanut butter, but they feel... wrong, like they were buried in Pet Semetary or something. This is an unbalanced, sloppy mess. Not entirely undrinkable, but in no way good. D
  • Terrapin Dos Cocoas Chocolate Porter - Now this one gets the chocolate thing right, and the base porter matches really well with it. Not my favorite style ever or anything, but it works well enough. B+
  • Trappist Westvleteren 12 - Yep, it's still amazing. Certainly opened some eyes with other folks too.
  • Perennial Vermilion Winter Ale - Excellent English style barleywine, lots of caramel, toffee, and almost fruity malt notes, really nice. A little heavy, but that's what you want out of this sort of thing. The sort of beer that makes me want to put on a smoking jacket, sit by a fire next to my bearskin rug on a cold night, making haughty rich person noises. Another eye opener for some folks. Me, I really liked this sucker, and may snag another bottle if it's around (it looks like it was a 2012 one-off, but I've definitely seen it around). A-
And that just about covers it. You may have noticed that it's only been a little over 2 weeks since the last beer club, but we had to reset to the beginning of the month, due to the November and December holidays. So stay tuned, moar to come.

Foley Brothers Native Brown Ale

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While Operation Cheddar was predicated on acquiring beer from the Holy Triumvirate of Vermont Brewers (Hill Farmstead, The Alchemist, and Lawson's Finest Liquids), I was also pleased to pick up a few random bottles from Vermont breweries that I'd never heard of. This one is from Foley Brothers, a small family business consisting of an Inn, a winery, and most recently, a brewery. The brewery is less than a year old, but they seem to be churning out some solid stuff. Not Hill Farmstead level hyped stuff, but this brown ale brewed with VT grown hops and maple syrup sounded pretty tasty, so I took a flyer on a bottle at the Warren Store:

Foley Brothers Native Brown Ale

Foley Brothers Native Brown Ale - Pours a clear brown color with a solid three fingers of fluffy tan head and plenty of lacing. Smells of your typical toasty brown malts, with a sweet, almost fruity kick, presumably from the maple syrup. The taste has that same sweet maple syrup kick to it, which sorta puts the brakes on your typical brown malts, though they still peek out for some toasty fun in the middle and finish. Mouthfeel is highly carbonated, medium bodied, with some richness up front yielding to dryness in the middle and finish. Overall, this is a very good Brown Ale, a style I'm not normally really big on, but this gives it a nice twist. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 7.2% ABV bottled (22 oz. bomber). Drank out of an Alchemist pint glass on 8/25/13.

I'd certainly be curious to try more from these fellas. Their Redbeards Ale, while not garnering much the way of ratings, certainly sounds interesting (a hoppy strong red ale)...

Weyerbacher Whiskey Barrel Aged

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The full name of this beer is actually Weyerbacher Whiskey Barrel Aged Ale Aged in Whiskey Barrels. Believe it or not, there's a good reason for this seeming redundancy, though it requires some explanation. First, this beer is part of Weyerbacher's Brewers' Select series - a progression of "one-off and experimental brews to encourage creativity and collaboration between all of our brewers." This is sorta reminiscent of Tröegs' Scratch Series, the idea being that Weyerbacher gets to play around with tiny pilot batches using new techniques and strange ingredients in the hopes that the process will lead to new year-round offerings or improvements to same. A new brew is made every few months, then released at the brewery itself with the occasional keg being sent out to local bars.

Each beer in the series is named to follow the NATO phonetic alphabet (Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, etc...), and this 23rd installment was naturally going to be Whiskey. Apparently getting beer labels approved by the feds is a tricky proposition even in the best of times, and in this case, naming a beer after another alcoholic beverage added an extra wrinkle. But it turns out that the law allows for a "fanciful name" as long as you include a "Statement of Process" or some such thing. Thus we end up with a name "Whiskey Barrel Aged" with a statement of process "Ale Aged in Whiskey Barrels", all of which indicates that this is, in fact, beer, not whiskey. Or something. Did I say there was a "good" reason for this? Yeah, that's not really true, I guess, but none of this buffoonery should be attributed to Weyerbacher.

So the base beer here is a 9% ABV Brown ale, made with six malts and aged in bourbon barrels. I thought I had missed out on this beer forever, but fortune smiled upon me this past Friday when the Side Bar tapped a keg of the stuff:

Weyerbacher Whiskey Barrel Aged

Weyerbacher Whiskey Barrel Aged - Pours a very dark brown (almost black) color, with a finger of khaki colored head. Some light whiskey in the nose, along with some almost fruity notes. As I drink, a pleasant oak and vanilla character emerges too. Taste has a prominent whiskey component, but not overpowering the more typical nutty, toasty notes of the base brown ale. Again, oak and vanilla come out as I drink, and there's a hint of those fruity malt flavors too. Mouthfeel is full bodied and rich, but not overly thick or chewy... Really well balanced, just big enough to keep it interesting, but not overwhelming or face melting. No real booziness to speak of, despite the whiskey character. Overall, this might be one of my fave Weyerbacher beers ever. Fantastic, well balanced, complex stuff. A

Beer Nerd Details: 9% ABV on tap. Drank out of a snifter on 10/5/12. 27 IBU.

I'm usually very happy to try one-off brews, but I'm rarely sad that I don't get to drink more. This is among the few, the proud, the ones I want to see again. Weyerbacher hasn't technically ruled that out, but it still seems unlikely. In any case, I'm definitely going to be on the lookout for X-Ray (and, for that matter, Yankee and Zulu). No idea what Weyerbacher plans to do once they reach the end of the alphabet. NATO digits are kinda boring, except for niner, but you could also go with some of the British or U.S. phonetic alphabets (lots of overlap with Nato, but some cool stuff there too).

Founders Frangelic Mountain Brown

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I'm beginning to think I'm a fraud. I keep saying that I don't like coffee flavors in my beer, but then I rave on and on about weasel poop coffee beer, or Founders' Imperial Stout, or their vaunted KBS. The coffee just keeps coming, and I'm lapping it up. I should just admit that my conversion to the dark side of beer is complete. I've searched my feelings; I know it to be true.

And here's yet another example. At a recent tap takeover, I got me an extra helping of KBS (yum), then hopped on the Frangelic Mountain Brown train (this ordering is a bit unfortunate, as KBS is a bit of a monster, but this seemed to be the order in which everyone at the bar went in...) I didn't really know much about it other than that it was one of Founders' Backstage Series beers - stuff they used to only release on tap in their brewpub in Michigan, but that they now bottle in limited quantities, thus attracting the ebay vampires in search of arbitrage. When Canadian Breakfast Stout came out, there were tales of derring-do and elaborate heists as beer nerds strained their nerditivity to ge their hands on a bottle. Now, folks do seem to be enjoying Frangelic Mountain Brown, but it doesn't quite have the insane hype surrounding it that something like CBS had. This is probably a good thing, and despite it's coffee based nature, I gave it a shot:

Founders Frangelic Mountain Brown

Founders Frangelic Mountain Brown - Pours a dark brown color with beautiful amber highlights and a couple fingers of tan head. Smells of freshly ground coffee. When I was growing up, my dad used to use hazelnut flavored cream in his coffee, and that's what this reminds me of (and, of course, I found out that they used hazelnut flavored coffee in this beer after the fact, confirming that I was not crazy). Taste is similar - tons of coffee. Not like people normally talk about coffee in beer though, and certainly nothing like Founders' other coffee-centric stouts. Perhaps it's a distinct lack of roastiness that differentiates this... It's sweeter and smoother around the edges, nowhere near as bitter or roasty (though both components are there). Mouthfeel is medium bodied, but it goes down easy and is quite smooth. Overall, an exceedingly interesting beer! Probably not something I'd want to hit up often, but I'm really happy I got to try some. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 9% ABV on tap. Drank out of a tulip glass on 7/31/12.

Despite what I said in the opening paragraph, I still don't think of myself as loving coffee-based beer. But perhaps brewers like Founders and Mikkeller have earned a pass when it comes to this stuff. Maybe I'll even get my hands on some CBS next year. Or not. I might be willing to participate in some light shenanigans to get a bottle, but no tragic or sad shenanigans. That's where I draw the line. What was I talking about again? I should stop writing 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.

Email me at mciocco at gmail dot com.

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This page is an archive of recent entries in the American Brown Ale category.

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