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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
(Click for larger picture)

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!

January Beer Club

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

January Beer Club 2014
(Click for larger version)

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

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

December Beer Club

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In 2009, a crack commando unit was sent to prison by a military court for a crime they didn't commit. These men and women promptly escaped from a maximum-security stockade to the West Chester underground. Today, still wanted by the government, they survive as drinkers of craft beer. If you have a problem... if no one else can help... and if you can find them a local BYOB in which to meet... maybe you can hire... The Beer Club Team.

Well, that didn't work as well as it did in my head, but I'm going to leave it there as a reminder to myself that my stupid references aren't as funny as I think. Take that, self! What was I talking about? Oh yeah, Beer Club, a gathering of beer minded folks from my work. We meet up once a month at a local BYOB and sample all sorts of beers. Decent turnout tonight, and some great beers too:

Beer Club
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Half remembered thoughts on each beer are below. For posterity, you understand. In order of drinking (not necessarily the order depicted above:

  • Harpoon UFO White - I could have sworn we've had this at beer club before, but I can't find any reference to it... Holy coriander, Batman! Very powerfully spiced for a simple wheat beer, but it made for a nice, bland start to the evening. B
  • Kaedrin Saison - Man, this thing is drinking perfect right now! Huge carbonation, spicy, crisp, and dry. Great with food, and I'm really disappointed that I only have a couple bottles of this left. This may end up being one of my better beers of all time. B+ or A- material here.
  • Kaedrôme Saison - Alas, this has not quite carbonated itself so well just yet. Disappointing. I had one last week, and it seemed like it was doing well, but nope, tonight's was lower carbonated than the last one I had. Weird. I'll give it a few more weeks before opening another (it seems that the regular saison is peaking right now, after several months) and leave it at that for now...
  • Ken's Homebrewed Winter Warmer - Very solid example of the style, very well spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla, it came out really smooth and almost creamy, with that spicy kick. I really enjoyed this, even more than the other Winter Warmer/Holiday beers of the night. B+
  • Sly Fox Christmas Ale - Another winter warmer, and one I look forward to every year. Alas, they change up the recipe every year, and I have to admit, I'm not in love with this year's version. It's fine, to be sure, but not as good as previous years (or Ken's homebrew!) B-
  • Lexington Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale - It's amazing how little repetition there is in beer club. I can probably count on one hand the number of times that someone has brought a beer that's been at beer club before... This one was just at beer club back in September, which wouldn't be that bad except that no one really likes this beer! It's so thin and the bourbon barrel treatment doesn't really come through in any meaningful way (it's got some of that bourbon flavor, but it feels watered down and just flat). It's not a hideous abomination, but it's not particularly good either. C
  • Trappistes Rochefort 6 - A classic that I've already reviewed, and a welcome relief from the previous beer!
  • Affligem Noël - This was one of my favorite beers when I started the blog... but I didn't respond quite so well this time around. Not sure if it's just the context of beer club and a beleaguered palate, or if this really isn't as good as I remember. The balance is certainly off here, a little boozy, not enough malt and spice to counteract that. It's certainly not bad at all, and I do still really enjoy it, but perhaps not as much as I originally did... Let's call it a B or B+ now.
  • Southern Tier Phin & Matt's Extraordinary Ale - A late arrival, this perhaps should have been opened earlier in the night... but even then, I suspect this would underwhelm. C+
  • Boulevard Bourbon Barrel Quad - Dana and I shop at the same beer store. She shared hers, I greedily drank mine by myself. As I rated on Monday, B+
  • Stone Suede Imperial Porter - It's a fine porter, light roast, some complexity from those weird flower and jasmine adjuncts, but ultimately this is a beer that doesn't really float my boat. It's fine, I could probably take one down on my own, but I'm glad I was trying it in a tasting setting... B
  • Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout - Another Dana special, I'm really glad she brought this... mostly because it's just awesome beer (that I've reviewed before). Still an A
  • Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Coffee Stout - And this one was my contribution for the night. I had this last year and loved it, but it had aged for a few months before I cracked it open. This year, I had one fresh and thought I absolutely had to share this. I don't particularly love coffee, and this thing is a huge coffee bomb. It's amazing how much the coffee fades in the beer after a few months (I know the coffee is different every year, so maybe that's a factor this year too, but it's still dominated by coffee, to the point where I can barely get the bourbon barrel out of this, though it is there). Since some members of beer club are big coffee fans, I thought I should share it while it's fresh. It did not disappoint.
  • Fort Collins 1900 Amber Lager - I will refrain from talking much about this because after the Bourbon County, this was basically like water. A simple palate cleanser. That being said, it does not seem like my kinda thing...
And that wraps up yet another successful beer club. Already looking forward to ringing in the new year with beer club...

September Beer Club

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Tonight was Beer Club, a gathering of beer minded folk from my work who get together every month at a local BYOB for libations and fun. I should note that what I call beer club is offically called "social club", and there are frequently attendees who want nothing to do with beer. We've often had folks who bring wine or even stuff like sake or just plan, non-alcoholic root beer. In short, usually, only a portion of attendees are drinking the beer. Well, we had a great turnout tonight, and most everyone drank most every beer. I think only one beer was left unopened (a Brooklyn Oktoberfest), and most everything else was kicked almost as soon as it was opened. So it was an impressive showing tonight! Check it:

September Beer Club

For the sake of posterity, some half-remembered thoughts on each beer are listed below. Standard disclaimers apply, these are not ideal tasting conditions and I was only half paying attention and you'd be a fool to trust most of these ratings. Except for the ones I've had before. Those are mostly awesome. Here goes:

  • Ken's Homebrewed Pumpkin Ale - Really nice pumpkin ale homebrew from my friend Ken. He had kegged it and transferred to a growler this morning, so the carbonation was a bit on the low side, but it was otherwise a pretty damn good take on the style. I was going to say that it's the best homebrewed pumpkin ale I've ever had, but it's also the only homebrewed pumpkin ale I've ever had, so that doesn't really tell you much. But it was good, and I liked it. B+
  • Stone Enjoy By 09.13.13 IPA - I know, heresy! We drank this almost a week after we were supposed to "enjoy by", and yet, I can't help but thinking that I enjoyed this more than the fresh bottle I had. I didn't get that weird plasticky character that I had from the fresh version, though I could kinda see where it came from. The slightly faded hops actually improved this for me! I know, heresy, right? I still feel like I'm pretty sensitive to faded hops these days, but this one tasted fine. Perhaps it was stored better than my last bottle? I'll still leave it at a B, but better than the last bottle I had (which was also a B)
  • Neshaminy Creek County Line IPA - I've not reviewed this, but I've mentioned it before on the blog, and I enjoy it. A local brew, this is your typical East Coast IPA, well balanced, more malt character than your West Coast IPAs, but a nice light hop character too. B or B+
  • Kaedôme Saison (regular version) - My regular ol' homebrewed saison is still drinking pretty well. The hop character has mellowed a bit and never quite achieved the Nelson Sauvin awesomeness I was hoping for, but it's still a pretty kickass saison and seemed to be very well received by the beer club crew. The Brett version of this is still in secondary, and probably has a solid month or two left it in before I bottle. I'll leave this at a B+
  • Lexington Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale - Proof that "Bourbon Barrel Aged" does not always translate to "good"... this wasn't especially bad or anything, it was just sorta bland. It was pale in color, and I didn't get much bourbon or oak out of this at all... nor did I get much else. Which is to say, it's better than most macros, but nothing to write home about. Perhaps it would fare better in a non-sampling context, but for tonight it was a lowly C+
  • Erie Brewing Mad Anthony's APA - Oh wow, this is just awful. It's got a certain blandness to it, but also a diacetyl note that I always hate. Some might be willing to put up with that, but not I. F
  • The Alchemist Heady Topper - I don't need to say much beyond my review, but yeah, it went over pretty well with the beer club peeps. Still a solid A in my book.
  • Saucony Creek Captain Pumpkin's Maple Mistress - Extremely sweet and a little boozy, this is an interesting take on the pumpkin ale. It's got some spice, but not quite your typical pumpkin spice, and I can sorta detect that maple syrup character as well. It's unbalanced, but in a sorta endearing way. One of those beers that's excellent in this sort of sampling context, but which would probably become cloying if you tried drinking a whole bottle. I enjoyed it well enough and will give it a B
  • Finch's Fascist Pig Ale - I didn't really get much of this, just the dregs of the can, but it seemed like a nice enough amber ale. I'll give it a provisional B, but even considering the context of beer club, I need more of this to really give it a fair shake.
  • Samuel Adams Fat Jack Double Pumpkin - You know what, I really enjoyed this beer. It's a more-or-less traditional take on a pumpkin beer, pumpkin pie flavors all the way, but perhaps the lopsided affair of Captain Pumpkin's Maple Mistress made this one appear better by comparison. It's not as interesting, but it's maybe a better crafted beer. B or B+
  • Cascade Kriek Ale - One of my contributions for the night, this sucker is just as good as I remember it, maybe even better. It was a big hit with beer club peeps as well, and definitely the most unique beer of the night. I love this stuff and might be tempted to upgrade it to A status, but I'll leave it at A- for now, trusting my previous judgement.
  • FiftyFifty Imperial Eclipse Stout - Heaven Hill Rittenhouse Rye - My other contribution, and another eye opener for the beer club crew. I've had this before and absolutely loved it, which is one of the reasons I wanted to bring it to beer club. Happily, it went over very well. A
And that just about covers it, another successful night, and I am already anticipating the next meeting!

Switchback Ale

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Another random impulse buy from the Warren Store during Operation Cheddar. I'd never heard of this before, but when I brought it up to the counter with my bottles of Double Sunshine, I received a knowing nod from another patron who commented on my purchase of "the usual suspects". I asked about this one, but I had trouble getting a read on what he thought on this. After having the beer, I have to admit that I kinda get that. The label sez that "Switchback Ale was developed as a flavor concept, not adhering to any style guidelines", and it sorta drinks like that. Sorta. I found it strongly reminiscent of a pumpkin beer... but without pumpkins or pie spice. Whatever that means.

It's one of those beers that makes me wonder why I even bother posting a rating. As noted in the comments recently, my ratings tend to be relatively high, especially lately. This is partly because, well, who wants to write about mediocre beer? Also, as Rich speculated, there are enough resources out there and I obsessively read enough blogs/twitter feeds to have some intuitive sense of what's going on. This beer kinda threw me for a loop though. I liked it well enough, and it is clearly a very well crafted and interesting beer. I couldn't see it being something I reached for often (if it was regularly available to me)... but writing this post a week later, well, I could see myself cracking one of these every once in a while. I rated it relatively "low" on my scale though. Of course, a B is nothing to sneeze at, and that's not objectively low at all. So take that.

Switchback Ale

Switchback Ale - Pours a dark amber orange color with a finger of white head. Smells of bready malts, maybe buscuit malt, with some earthy hop notes for good measure. That breadiness may be coming from the yeast too... Taste is also very malt forward, mildly sweet breadiness and biscuit flavors (again, perhaps accentuated by the yeast), just a bit in the way of earthy, herbal hops. Mouthfeel is light bodied, well carbonated, crisp, and relatively dry. Goes down very easy. BA calls this a Pale Ale, but this sorta feels like the base for a pumpkin ale (i.e. no pumpkin or pie spice or anything, but with the malt/hop/yeast bill along those lines). Overall, well crafted and balanced but very subtle. It's making a very nice accompaniment to dinner and it's something I could see trying again, but it's not among those face melting VT beers worth making the trip for (though it's probably worth trying if you're already there, and why wouldn't you be)... It actually seems like it could be a really great alternative to those who want to celebrate the fall weather, but don't like the heavy handed use of pumpkin and spice in so many beers. B

Beer Nerd Details: 5% ABV bottled (22 oz. bomber). Drank out of a willybecher glass on 8/30/13.

Apparently Switchback only started bottling last year (after a decade of keg only brewing), and they seem to be doing well. I'd be curious to try some of their other stuff some day...

August Beer Clubbery

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Tonight was Beer Club, a gathering of beer minded folk from my work who get together every month at a local BYOB for drinkery and fun. A light turnout this week, so we didn't actually get through every beer pictured below, but we made a valiant effort and actually drank a few that aren't pictured. I know, I'm disappointed by my neglect to capture those additional beers in photographic form too, but we'll just have to live with this:

August Beers
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Standard tasting note disclaimers apply: these notes are not trustworthy in any way, shape, or form, because whatever, I had fun tonight. In approximate order of consumption, not necessarily how pictured.

  • Fantôme Saison - One of my contributions, it seems that Fantôme hasn't quite emerged from their smoky, rubbery funk phase just yet, though this one wasn't quite as janky as the one I reviewed recently. It actually had more of a Saison Dupont feel, with just a bit of smoky, barnyard funk to make things interesting. I'll keep it at a B+ and pine for the lemony, sour Fantômes of yore.
  • Dale's Pale Ale - Pretty standard fare, but excellent as such beers go. Always a good choice, and I'll hit it with a B+, just like before.
  • Kaedôme Saison (regular version) - So my regular homebrewed saison is actually drinking quite well at this point, big spicy yeast notes, plenty of Saaz hops, not as much Nelson Sauvin hops as I was going for, but quite a pleasant brew nonetheless. About half the batch is still in secondary, dosed with Brettanomyces (like Fantôme, hence the name of this beer). Probably still a few months away from that sucker, but even this non-funky version is doing pretty well. Another B+
  • Bear Republic Red Rocket Ale - Rock solid hoppy amber ale, not quite as mindblowing as some of those hoppy imperial reds, but a worthy, highly drinkable beer. Yet another B+. I swears, not everything in this post will be rated the same.
  • Ken's English White Beer - My buddy's homebrew, this one was made with wheat, rose hips, and an English ale yeast. A rather odd combination, but it works out reasonably well in the end. Nice wheat character, not much in the way of rose hips, but some English yeast character (thankfully without the diacetyl note that I often get from such yeasts)> Not a mind-blower, but a nice summer beer. B-
  • Ken's Roggenbier - Another of Ken's homebrews, and possibly my favorite of the homebrews tonight. Nice spicy rye character mixed with hefeweizen notes from the yeast. Really nice combination that works very well. B+
  • Port City Essential Pale Ale - Terrible. Ok, not quite that bad, but not particularly good either. A sorta muddy mess of hops and malt, never quite coalescing into good.C+
  • Dominion Oak Barrel Stout - Now this one is legitimately terrible. Ok, so some people like that British diacetyl note sometimes, but I cannot stand it, and it just overshadowed everything else about this beer for me. Not undrinkable, but definitely not good. D
  • Stone / Farking / Wheaton W00tstout - Ah, now we come to my favorite beer of the night, the Wil Wheaton collaboration with Stone and Fark.com, a huge imperial stout made with pecans, wheat, and rye, partially aged in bourbon barrels. Great rich sweetness, a hint of that bourbon and oak, with a nice overall malt character. A bit heavy, but quite a nice beer, really glad I got to try some. A-
  • Ken's Irish red Ale - Another homebrew, this time a pretty straightforward Irish Red that was made with potatoes, a pretty nice combo. Sweeter than your typical Irish Red, though it keeps that same flavor profile and works well enough. I'll go with a standard B for this one.
And that just about covers it. For those who saw the Eclipse beer in the picture and are upset that we didn't get to it, do not fear, I reviewed it a while back. You're welcome. See you next month...

I was a little surprised that there weren't any Hill Farmstead events during Philly Beer Week in June and perhaps because I've gotten a taste of this stuff before, I've spent the past few months acting like Wolverine here:

Wolverine pines for Hill Farmstead

The Philly area is still lucky enough to see the occasional keg of Hill Farmstead though, so when I spied the July 4th event at a local drinkery, I was all in. Tons of great stuff on tap, but how could I resist the siren song of Hill Farmstead? 5 were on tap, 3 of which I'd never had before. Let's get to it:

Hill Farmstead Edward

Hill Farmstead Edward - A 5.2% American Pale Ale, this seems to be one of their mainstay "Ancestral Series" beers. Hazy orange with a finger of white head... pretty stuff. Beautiful citrus nose, oranges and mangoes, some floral notes. Taste has a crystal malt component that provides a good platform for the bright, citrusy, floral hops, and a substantial bitterness follows you all throughout the taste. Surprisingly towards the upper end of medium bodied, but that doesn't make it hard to drink or anything (dude sitting next to me put down 5 in less than an hour.) Overall, well, excellent. Duh. A-

Hill Farmstead Clara Grisette

Hill Farmstead Clara Grisette - Saisons were brewed for farm workers, but Grisettes were made for miners (Grisette being French for Grey, a reflection of the uniforms and the stone being mined). The styles are very similar, though Grisettes usually incorporated wheat and were typically a little lighter. In this case, we've got a 4.2% beer, another in the Ancestral Series. Straw yellow color, finger of bubbly head. Smells peppery and lemony, maybe a little Brett funk for good measure. Taste has a nice, bright, lemony tartness to it (wasn't expecting that, but it works well), a little funk, and some spicy yeast notes to round it all out... Mouthfeel is crisp, light, and refreshing, highly quaffable. Tart, but not acidic. Overall, this is right up there with the funky saison standard bearers. Reminds me of the old-label Fantôme (none of the smokey, super earthy funk that hits the newer Fantômes). Great stuff. A-

Hill Farmstead and Alchemist Walden

Hill Farmstead/Alchemist Walden - This collaboration with The Alchemist (of Heady Topper fame; my first taste from them, though I've got a line on some Heady too) was called a sessionable American Blonde Ale, but it basically drinks like a really light pale ale. At 4% ABV, it's certainly sessionable, and I could have drank this stuff all day... if the keg didn't kick within an hour of opening ('twas the first to go). Open your Thoreau up to page 1 and get started: Straw yellow, pillowy head. Smells utterly fantastic, bright citrus, big citrusy Amarillo hop character (update: I was right about that, but there's also Simcoe and even some swanky New Zealand Motueka hops too), really great nose that just makes me want to sit a while and sniff my beer. Taste is even better, great, perfectly matched citrus hop notes, nice dry bitterness emerging in the finish. Mouthfeel is very light bodied, crisp, refreshing, and the most quaffable beer of the day. Just scarily drinkable. Overall, utterly fantastic, superb beer. A

Hill Farmstead Abner

Hill Farmstead Abner - Hot damn, so happy to be able to try this one again. This 8.2% DIPA is one of my favorite beers. Golden orange, cap of white head. Amazing sugary citrus & pine nose, lots of complexity. Taste has that perfect balance of crystal malt, sweetness, citrusy, piney hops, maybe some floral notes too, and a well matched bitterness in finish. Intense and complex, but not overpowering or sloppy at all. Mouthfeel is fantastic, velvety smooth, medium to full bodied, no hint of booze at all, well carbonated, just a joy to drink. Overall, as spectacular as I remember it. A (Hrm, potential A+ material here)

Hill Farmstead Everett

Hill Farmstead Everett Robust Porter - I generally find myself befuddled by how highly some porters are rated, but if they were all like this thing, I could get with that program. I've heard people say that Edmund Fitzgerald is just as good, but I don't think there's any contest here - Everette is clearly far superior. Nice roasted malt character tempered by big chocolate notes, especially as it warms up. There's a richness here that I just never get out of other porters. I had clearly underrated this last time (only a B+?), but I'll correct that to an A- right now.

So there you have it. Basically starting July 4 off with fireworks, if you know what I mean. One might think that being able to get this stuff occasionally would satisfy me, but no, I still want to get my but up to Vermont and visit. Seems worthwhile. In the meantime, I'll just stare at my photos of the HF logo with Wolverine. Anywho, stay tuned for some more Vermonsters in the next week or so.

Tired Hands Omnibus Post

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Another Tired Hands bottle release today! However, the bottles being released had all made appearances on tap earlier in the year (or late last year), with no barrel aged components or anything, so while there was still a line, it was not anywhere near as crowded as it was for the last couple releases. The bottle was for ArtiSnale, a beer I already covered a while back. But I also have two months or so of notes on Tired Hands beers that I'm sure will interest everyone, since most of these will never see the light of day again. So I figured it was time for another omnibus collection of notes. Check it:

Tired Hands Mrs. Pigman

Mrs. Pigman - This beer came out right around when Pliny the Younger was making the rounds in Philly, like Jean was sorta counter-programming his beer nerd calendar. It's a huge, hoppy monster of a beer (really glad I got a growler of this 11% ABV sucker, rather than sampling 4 ounce pours). Big citrusy floral hop component, very little in the way of malt character. Overall, not as overwhelming as you'd expect from something clocking in at 11.5% ABV. A delicious "triple" IPA, a worthy competitor to Pliny (though I may still prefer the Younger to this). I tried the growler over the course of a couple days, and it was significantly better on the first night (the night I got it filled), while the second night had become more sticky sweet and less hoppy. Not surprising, but still. That first night was a solid A-...

Perfect Touchdown - More counter-programming here, this one was released right before the Super Bowl... and it's a superb 9% ABV DIPA! Big juicy hop character, lots of citrus, perfect proportions, nice solid malt backbone, more so than most tired hands beers. Really fantastic brew! A

StrangeOwl - A very pleasant hoppy red ale, very drinkable, not going to blow the world away or anything, but I really enjoyed this one. B+

Liddle Fiddle - Reminiscent of the singel hop saison Amarillo, gorgeous juicy hop aroma and flavor, with a distinct farmhouse saison yeast character. Well balanced, really well balanced carbonation, compulsively drinkable. A-

Ancient Knovvledge - A very trangely spiced saison, it's got some peppery notes, but also some aroma/flavors I can't really place... (thanks to the internets, I've got a full list here: "hemp seeds, nori, black & white sesame seeds, tangerine juice & zest, schezuan peppercorns, and long red hot peppers.") An interesting brew, glad I tried it, but not something to go nuts over. B+

Heaven Dream - A straightforward, perhaps above average pale ale, very light and quaffable, solid. B+

Entropic - The first in Tired Hands' Darwin Solera Series, this is a Brett fermented pale ale (using yeast from Crooked Stave). Pours a very cloudy yellowish color witha couple fingers of white, fluffy head. Smells slightly funky, with an odd salinity? Yep, that saltiness shows up in the taste too, kinda like a shellfish salinity, really interesting... Light funk, maybe some lemon lime action... Mouthfeel is nice, medium body, easy drinking stuff. Overall, I don't really know what to make of this, except to say that I like it! B+

Galapagos - The second in the Darwin Solera series, this is a new Brett fermented pale all that was blended with Entropic. Cloudy yellow orange, smells of funk and saline, very similar. Taste seems to be evening out a bit, more subtle but still complex. This really isn't that old, but it seems a bit more mellow, less brackish and salty. I actually like this better than entropic, but they're both pretty darn good! B+

Dinner of Champions: Tired Hands AromaFlavor and Candied Bacon
Dinner of Champions: Tired Hands AromaFlavor and Candied Bacon

AromaFlavor - FlavorAroma was one of my favorite Tired Hands beers, so I was super excited for this one. It's a similar recipe, but the hops are different. Pours a deep golden color with a couple fingers of fluffy white head. Smells delicious, tons of citrus and pine, and plenty of floral notes too. Taste has that same hop component, but also an earthy, floral, almost spicy hop flavor that is well integrated with the traditional citrus/pine/floral notes... I'm betting significant Centennial involvement here. Mouthfeel is smooth, lightly carbonated, quaffable. Overall, really fantastic stuff, but I think I preferred FlavorAroma a bit more... A-

A Cold Freezing Night - A pretty straightforward 6.2% stout. Black color, nice roasted malt aroma, some light coffee notes, a relatively straightforward, normal beer. Probably grading on a curve, but this is a B sorta effort. Solid, competent, but not mind blowing... (but then, I like my stouts huge and chewy, so I'm sure others would love this.)

Liverpool - A "magical" dark mild ale, this pours a brown color with a couple fingers of off white head. Smells... British! Light caramel and toffee notes. Also tastes British! That caramel and toffe from the nose, but some nice biscuity character too, maybe a faint hint of subtle toast. Mouthfeel is pretty big for such a small beer (only 4%). Low end of medium bodied, with ample carbonation (more so than most Tored Hands stuff). Overall, a fantastic sessionable beer, if not one that really rocks my world (not that it's trying to...) B

HeavenDream - Yet another in a long line of solid pale ales from TH. Light yellow color, couple fingers of white head. Surprisingly muted aroma, lightly hopped taste, citrus and pine. Mouthfeel is nice and light, quaffable... Overall, solid... B

Stare At Yourself in the Mirror Until You Feel a Burning Sensation - Quite possibly the best named beer ever. Pours a super cloudy orange color with a couple fingers of white head. Smells of bright, juicy hops along with a sorta yeasty character. Taste is lightly sweet, delicate hop flavor, a little citrus but also almost spicy too. Mouthfeel is surprisingly big considering the abv, medium bodied, but smooth and almost creamy. Not entirely sure what to make of this, but it's good! B+

???
Honestly not sure which beer this is a pic of - one of the pales that's around this point in the post, I think!

Say It Muy Fabs - A 4% pale ale that I found to be supremely good for such a slight beer. Weird that it does not seem to exist on RateBeer or BeerAdvocate, but I love it anyway. Cloudy yellow, tons of lacing, huge citrus and fruit nose, perfect balance of flavors, utterly quaffable, light, refreshing body, really amazing depth for such a small beer. Maybe I just really needed a drink at that point, but I was very impressed with this one. A-

MagoTago - An IPA made with mangos, this pours a cloudy light yellow color with a finger of head. Huge citrus nose, mango coming through strong, but plenty of citrusy floral hops too. Flavor follows the nose, sweet, floral citrus hops, and that mango coming through loud and clear in the middle and finish. Nice light mouthfeel, quaffable, just really nice. Overall, this is right up there! A-

Bokonon - A hoppy brown ale, as the style goes this is nice, though its hard to compete with some of the other stuff (see previous two beers)! B+

Tabel, Printemps - A saison made with lime and cilantro, this is light and refreshing, really nice little beer, that lime/cilantro combo is prominent but not overpowering... B+

Singel Hop Saison, Pacific Jade - Wow, super "green" hoppy character, like Saaz or Golding, but a little brighter and more intense. Feels super fresh. Mixes well with the spicy saison yeast. An interesting entry in the series, though not my favorite... B+

Tired Hands Comfort Zone

Comfort Zone - Pours a super murky, cloudy, almost chocolate milk looking brown color with a couple fingers of tan head. Smell has that chocolate milk character, but also the lighter saison fruit and spice... Ditto for the taste, which has a very yeasty character that overrides the dark malts... Overall, a nice, yeasty dark saison, but nothing to write home about. B

Phew, that's a lot of great beer! I usually end up over there every week or two, so I think you can expect to see more posts about these guys...

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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.

About this Archive

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

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