Recently in American Strong Ale Category

Aged Beer Jamboree

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Over the past several months, I've been dipping into my cellar to try out some aged beer. You may have noticed a few of these showing up on the blog already, but I've been keeping a running log of some of the less unique bottles I've opened as well. Some of these were aged intentionally, some were just sitting in the back of my fridge or in my basement for far too long. What can I say, sometimes my eyes are bigger than my liver. My cellar isn't as insane as many you'll see out there, but it's getting sizable, so I sometimes try to take a break from keeping up with the new releases and check out some of these old suckers.

There's something very romantic about aged booze, I think, but with beer it's a bit of a dicey proposition. It's rare that I've had a beer get better over time. It can certainly be different, and that's not necessarily a bad thing, but it's also not usually what you expect. It's worth trying, but if you ever find yourself with a nice bottle of something that might age well, drink it fresh. If you can snag another bottle, age that. If not, just be happy you got your hands on a fresh bottle. Let's take a closer look at some of these:

2014 Abyss

2014 Deschutes Abyss - Finally got around to drinking one of these Deschutes beers after their "Best After" date (usually a year in the future when they release the beer). Pours a deep black color with a finger of light brown head, very nice. Smell brings a lot of the non-stoutlike elements to the fore, vinous fruit, caramel, anise, liquorice, vanilla, maybe even some dank hops. Taste starts with rich caramel, moves right on to more fruity notes, followed by a wallop of dry hop bitterness. As it warms, I get hints of that roasted malt character that I found much more prominent in fresh Abyss. Mouthfeel is full bodied, well carbonated, more dry than I remember it being fresh. Overall, I don't know that it's improved with age exactly, but it feels very different and it's certainly not worse, making it an interesting candidate for aging. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 11.1% ABV bottled (22 ounce bomber). Drank out of a teku glass on 1/31/16. Best After: 11/10/15.

Firestone Walker XV - Anniversary Ale

2011 Firestone Walker XV Anniversary Ale - My first Anniversary Ale, this one lives up to my memory. A bottle shop recently celebrated their anniversary or something by releasing a bunch of aged beer, and I managed to snag this one (so it hasn't been sitting in my cellar for quite so long, probably wouldn't have lasted!) Age has treated it well, though I don't think it's any better than it was back in the day. With time, it's got a little less zip, but the flavors have blended together more. It still feels very barleywineish, lots of dark fruit, rich caramel, some nice barrel character. Overall, this was worth aging and is doing well these days, but it was probably still a little better when it was fresh. This is probably good advice overall for the Firestone Anniversary beers - worth aging, but not at the expense of drinking it fresh. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 12.5% ABV bottled (22 ounce bomber). Drank out of a snifter on 1/1/16.

Plead the 5th Stout

2013 Dark Horse Plead the 5th Stout - This has held up well. The intense roasty character is much faded, only really revealing itself in the finish. In its place we get caramel and an almost dark fruit note, like port wine or something. This hasn't really been my favorite stout, but it holds up well. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 11% ABV bottled (12 ounce). Drank out of a snifter on 1/30/16.

Angel's Share 2011

2011 Lost Abbey Angel's Share - Bourbon Barrel Aged - The first time I had this, I thought it was a bit hot and could use some aging. Fortuitously, I came into a bottle not long after, and promptly hid it away in my basement and basically forgot about it. What was lost was found, so I figured 4 years was long enough to age the sucker. Wow, just look at that head. Yes, this was before Lost Abbey got their carbonation game on track. Fortunately, this is a tasty beer. Age is definitely showing, some oxidation apparent, but it still smells and tastes great. Great dark fruit character matches well with the bourbon barrel treatment, reminiscent of early Bruery Anniversary beers. Age definitely mellowed the booze, though perhaps not as much time is actually needed to accomplish that feat. Carbonation is an issue for me. Verdict: Uncertain! Newer vintages are better carbonated and might hold up better. I'd say 1-2 years is ideal aging time. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 12% ABV bottled (375 ml caged and corked). Drank out of a tulip glass on 11/24/15.

Smoketome!

2013 Fantôme Saison - From the Smoketôme era, I was curious to see if the smokey, burnt latex funk worked itself out over time. The answer? Nope! I suppose it's probably mellowed some, but I feel like all the elements mellowed, so the smoke is still there in the same proportion as before. Like my other bottle, this isn't dominated by the smoke, and it adds a sort of complexity rather than straight burning latex and bandaids (as some of the worst Smoketomes exhibited). I really wish I had saved some of my first bottles of Fantome though, from the 2009-2010 era, as those were really special, even if I had no idea what I was drinking at the time. If you've got a smoketome, I say hold on to it. Let's see how that bitch tastes in 5-10 years, eh? C+

Beer Nerd Details: 8% ABV bottled (750 ml capped and corked). Drank out of a wine glass on 11/30/15.

Merry Monks 2010

2010 Weyerbacher Merry Monks - Back in 2010, I bought a variety case of Weyerbacher, and promptly found myself disappointed by this beer. I gave it a few tries, but this one just sat around for, well, 5 years I guess. It was time. Pours a cloudy golden orange color with a finger of white head. Smells sweet, lots of raisins, maybe a hint of spice. Taste is again very sweet, and again has tons and tons of raisins. Mouthfeel is well carbonated but almost creamy in texture, really nice, but as it warms, a boozy note hits pretty hard. Overall, this is maybe an improvement over the regular, but I'm not really a fan of either. B-

Beer Nerd Details: 9.3% ABV bottled (12 ounce). Drank out of a tulip glass on 12/11/15. Bottled 11/23/10. Best By: 11/23/12.

Founders Breakfast Stout 2010

2010 Founders Breakfast Stout - Pours a pitch black color with a gorgeous light brown head. Smells of coffee and creme and more coffee, roasty coffee, spent coffee grounds, did I mention coffee? Taste features lots of that roasty character, less intense coffee here but it's still pretty prominent. Coffee is supposed to fade over time, but this is still pretty intense, even more out of balance than when fresh. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, well carbonated, a little thin actually, though it feels more full as it warms. Overall, I like this and it's held up remarkably well, but it's still not a massive improvement over the base, which seems more balanced. B

Beer Nerd Details: 8.3% ABV bottled (12 ounce). Drank out of a tulip glass on 12/11/15.

Of course, this barely puts a dent in the cellar, so after this semi-hiatus from beer, expect to see some more of these aged beer reviews. In the meantime, I've got some wine, bourbon, and Scotch coming your way. And maybe a few more beer posts peppered in...

Firestone XIX Anniversary Ale

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Another year, another blend. You know the deal, every year Firestone Walker invites neighboring winemakers to get sloshed and blend a series of barrel aged component beers into a Voltron-esque super beer which becomes their Anniversary Ale. It's a process I've already covered in tedious detail, so I won't belabor that point.

Each blend varies considerably. XV was barleywine-heavy and fabulous. XVI was more evenly matched between stouts and barleywines, and while great, it's probably still my least favorite vintage. XVII returned to a barleywine focus and XVIII went to the dark side. Also of note with XVIII, it had a breakdown of 9 components ranging from 38% of the blend (the highest I've seen) to 2% (the lowest). This year, Firestone Walker ratcheted back the variety, making fewer component beers available for the blend (and removing the hoppy, stainless steel finished beers off the roster completely). As a result, we get a sorta back to basics look:

  • 33.33% Parabola (13% ABV) Russian Imperial Oatmeal Stout. Aged in Bourbon Barrels.
  • 33.33% Stickee Monkee (12.3% ABV) English Barley Wine. Aged in Bourbon and Brandy barrels.
  • 16.66% Bravo (12.9% ABV) Imperial Brown Ale. Aged in Bourbon and Brandy Barrels.
  • 16.66% Velvet Merkin (8.5% ABV) Traditional Oatmeal Stout. Aged in Bourbon barrels.

We're again trafficking the dark side here, with about 2/3 of the blend hitting the brown ale/stout territory (I guess it depends on how you categorize Bravo, but I've always put it in dark/stout territory). It probably helps that Parabola is the anchor here, any blend where that features so prominently is bound to turn out great I think. But what do I know? I'm just a dork on the internet. Let's take a closer look:

Firestone Walker XIX

Firestone Walker XIX Anniversary Ale - Pours a deep, dark brown color, almost black, with a finger of short lived light tan head. Smells nice, roasty, almost nutty, with that typically fantastically balanced barrel character, vanilla, oak, booze. Taste is all rich caramel, dark fruits, hints of roast, maybe even that nutty note, and plenty of bourbon, oak, and vanilla. As it warms, the fruity brandy notes come out too. Mouthfeel is full bodied and rich, well carbonated but thick, a little pleasant boozy heat, but not sticky at all. Overall, another knockout from Firestone's Anniversary program. A

Beer Nerd Details: 13.8% ABV bottled (22 ounce bomber). Drank out of a snifter on 12/18/15. Vintage: 2015.

Drinking a new Anniversary Ale is always a pleasure, and this one stacks up favorably with all the others that I've had. Already looking forward to next year's batch, and fingers crossed that Bravo sees bottles this year...

He'Brew Jewbelation Reborn

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Last week, Jay at BeerSamizdat dusted off an unintentionally "laid down" 2011 bottle of He'Brew Jewbelation 15, and he seemed to enjoy it. Seeing this, I was inspired to dig around in my cellar for the vaguely frightening He'Brew Jewbelation Reborn. "Reborn" because Frightening because for the longest time, Shmaltz was a contract brewing operation (not usually considered a good thing in beer dorkdom), but by their 17th year, they had finally built their own brewery. "Frightening" because it's a 17 malt, 17 hop, 17% ABV monstrosity that I received as a gift a few years ago and just never found the time or inclination to open up. Jay hits the nail on the head when he describes the prevailing attitude towards Shmaltz:

You know, SHMALTZ may only get partial and begrudging props from the discerning modern craft beer enthusiast, probably because of their marketing gimmicks, the fact that they've been around so long (and are therefore "old") and because their best-known beers are the Coney Island lagers.
Yeah, that gimmicky stuff is one of the reasons this spent so long in the cellar. The whole 17 of everything just smacks of unnecessary artifice. Despite my fears, this wound up being pretty enjoyable, and heck, it's Hanukkah, so this is perfect (yeah, I cut it a little close as it appears today is the last day, but better late than never - and this is downright early by Kaedrin standards). Thanks again to Jay for inspiring this little adventure. He's a real mensch.

HeBrew Jewbelation Reborn

He'Brew Jewbelation Reborn - Pours a deep, very dark brown color, almost black, with a finger of light brown head. Smells very sweet, caramel, chocolate, vanilla, brown sugar, sugar cookie, almost snickerdoodle, are there spices in this? Also a pretty sizable hop presence, piney, resinous. Really nice nose, actually. Taste starts off with all rich malts, caramel, chocolate, vanilla, molasses, less sugar cookie, more roast here in the taste, and a big faded hop character too, piney and resinous like the nose. Mouthfeel is full bodied, rich, and chewy, ample carbonation, lots of boozy heat, but not unpleasantly so. Overall, this is pretty good, if a bit overkill and probably too much for a bomber. I initially gave this a B but since it's Hanukkah, maybe make that a B+. L'Chaim!

Beer Nerd Details: 17% ABV bottled (22 ounce bomber). Drank out of a snifter on 12/11/15.

It appears that all later vintages of Jewbelation have abandoned the whole XX of everything approach (where XX is their anniversary, up to 19 now), at least for the ABV, which is now a more welcoming 10-13% affair. Good on them.

Pizza Beer Club

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Tonight was beer club! For the uninitiated, beer club is a monthly gathering of like-minded coworkers and acquaintances at a local BYOB for drinks, food, and fun. This time we went to a favorite discovery of mine, Ravanesi Pizzaria, a tiny little joint out in the burbs that scratch makes almost everything. Pizza places are a dime a dozen around here, but these guys really distinguish themselves. It's one of those places where they open at 4:30 pm and close whenever they run out of dough. Yes, it takes approximately 30 hours to make the dough, so they do run out fairly frequently. As a veteran BYOB attendee (because of beer club), most places aren't so busy on Tuesdays and thus welcome a bunch of beer nerds who take up a table and drink a lot of beer whilst occasionally munching on their food. This place was pretty much bumping from around 5 pm until we left at around 8 pm. But the pizza. The pizza is almost absurdly good. And it's not like Philly is bad at pizza (there's plenty of bad pizza, but we've got our hotspots). Check it:

ravanesi-pizza.jpg

A most excellent backdrop for beer club.For the sake of posterity, some thoughts on each beer we had are below. Usual nerdy disclaimers apply, this was not ideal tasting conditions and I didn't exactly take detailed notes, so take it all with the requisite mountain of salt. In order of drinking, not necessarily how they appear in the photo:

August Beer Club at Ravanesi Pizza

  • Otter Creek/Jack's Abby Joint Custody - Yep, it's a pilsner, but it's a pretty darn good one, crisp, light, and refreshing. Certainly a step up from your typical macro, and perhaps worthy of a closer look this next weekend. B+
  • Night Shift Santilli - A rock solid IPA, nice citrus and dank pine character, nice and crushable. B+
  • Two Roads Road Jam Raspberry Wheat Ale - Holy hell, this is terrible. Robitussin tones, artificial raspberry flavor, and the like. Perhaps not quite that bad, but not at all good. D
  • Vault Mosaic Imperial IPA - Does this sound familiar? Of course it does, I just reviewed it yesterday. In fact, it performed supremely well in this tasting format, pairing well with the spicy Sopressata pizza and just generally standing up to the other beers pretty well. May be tempted to raise this one to an A-
  • Night Shift Trifecta - Brewed with three Trappist ale yeasts, I found this a bit disappointing. It's got some decent Belgian yeast character, but it isn't quite carbonated or dry enough to really work well. Disappointing C+
  • Smuttynose Spank - For a beer that labels itself as a "hoppy saison", I have to admit that I find little in the way of hops here, even if it's an otherwise unremarkable beer that is far from bad, but which won't exactly light the world on fire. B-
  • Adroit Theory Ortolan Bunting - A very odd beer, almost quad-like, but without the full fruit character, but a very nice nose that doesn't quite live up to the straightforward taste, with some dark malts, perhaps even some smoked malt. Fine, but not quite a top tier effort. B
  • Lickinghole Creek Enlightened Despot - One of the best beers of the night, a clear winner, Pappy 15 barrel aged imperial stout, is quite tasty, very sweet, loads of coconut and vanilla from that barrel, delicious stuff. A-
  • Smuttlabs Durtay - Smuttynose - A rum barrel aged brown ale, this one works pretty darn well, very sweet, a little boozy, but a nice barrel and molasses character comes through too. B+
And that just about covers it. I really love this pizza and want to come here as often as possible, but it's also a little out of the way, so I'm guessing it won't be quite as regular as some other BYOB places. Still worth the trip though, so we'll see...

Deschutes Jubel 2015

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We're big fans of Christmas here at Kaedrin. We love the whole season, even some of the crass things that everyone hates, like creeping start dates for decorations, horrifying music, and terrible Hallmark movies. Christmas in July isn't a real holiday and most folks see it for what it really is: a blatant marketing appeal and opportunity to clear out last year's Christmas inventory in preparation for the upcoming season. Historically, there's some obscure references to the idea, but it didn't really catch on until the greeting card industrial complex got behind it. If this sounds cynical, well, I work for a big online retailer and trust me, there's never a time when we're not planning some sort of Christmas event (last weekend was the kickoff of this year's Christmas season for us, after which things will only intensify. Fingers crossed that I don't pull guaranteed delivery duty this year.)

But it doesn't have to be that way. No reason we can't break out some wintery heavy hitters in July, you know? Even better, I've been practically bathing in saisons and IPAs of late, so despite the hot weather, it's worth taking a dip into some darker brews. Enter Jubel, an imperialized version of Jubelale, Deschutes traditional winter warmer. Also referred to as Super Jubel, Deschutes employed their customary partial barrel aging strategy, with a 50% aged in Pinot and Oregon Oak barrels (I assume this to mean Pinot Noir and new oak barrels). The label sez this was conceived of as a once-a-decade beer, but they didn't want to wait another five years, so here we are with a pretty good way to start Christmas in July festivities:

Deschutes Jubel 2015

Deschutes Jubel 2015 - Pours a deep, dark, cloudy amber color with a finger of tan head that lingers for a bit but quickly subsides. Smell is rich caramel and fruity malt, hints of mulling spices in the background, a little oak. This was quite intense up front, but as I made my way through the bottle, it started to dissipate a bit. Taste is not quite as intense as the nose would have you believe, not as rich or fruity, but it's got some caramel and fruit in the game, and the spice actually comes through a little more here too. Mouthfeel is high medium bodied, dryer than I'd expect (relatively speaking), maybe a faint hint of booze, and as it warms, the booze comes out a bit more. It feels perhaps a bit too attenuated, but then, I think that's what they're going for. Overall, this is a decent beer, but it's not quite as impressive as it could have been. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 10.4% ABV bottled (22 ounce waxed bomber). Drank out of a tulip glass on 7/18/15. Best After: 1/23/16.

Someday I'll remember to save one of these Deschutes beers until the best after date. Someday. In other news, big Christmas in July blowout on Saturday. Lots of imperial stouts, right in time for a big heatwave around here. Perfect. Check out Kaedrin Beer's Twitter to follow along on Saturday night... and expect a full recap next week.

Stone Southern Charred

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I was pleasantly surprised and quite impressed with Stone's phenomenal barrel aged imperial stout, Fyodor's Classic, so I jumped at the opportunity to snag more from their barrel aging program. Then again, not long ago, I tried the Bourbon Barrel Aged Arrogant Bastard and found it to be rather disappointing. It was fine, I guess, but the hops and the barrel treatment sorta clashed and almost canceled each other out.

So I was a little anxious about this beer, which is Double Bastard aged in Bourbon Barrels for 5 months. They call them first-use barrels, though that's probably more accurately referred to as first use for beer, as the actual first use was obviously for bourbon. It's called Southern Charred because bourbon is always aged in charred new oak, and previous iterations of this beer actually incorporated a small proportion of beer aged in charred new oak as well (the 2013 vintage was 51% bourbon barrel, 8% charred American oak barrel, and 41% second-use bourbon barrel, and the aging times were 10-13 months). The 2014 release that I have here is 100% bourbon barrel aged, so I guess that whole blending thing was more trouble than it was worth (or maybe the 2013 batch was just a lot different). Whatever the case, I'm happy to report that these Quingenti Millilitre (500 ml) series of barrel aged Stone beers are legit:

Stone Southern Charred

Stone Southern Charred - Pours a murky amber brown color (rich mahogany) with half a finger of quickly disappearing light tan head. Smells of rich, caramelized dark fruits, raisins, plums, molasses, bourbon, oak, and vanilla. Taste follows the nose, very sweet up front, those fruits coming to the fore, rich caramel, vanilla, and oak in the middle, with a boozy bourbon finish where the hop bitterness also hits like a hammer to balance out the sweetness. Mouthfeel is full bodied, rich, and chewy, lowish and appropriate carbonation. A sipper, but quite nice and well balanced for the intensity level. Overall, it's rock solid, barleywinish stuff. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 13.2% ABV bottled (500 ml caged and corked). Drank out of a snifter on 2/14/15. Vintage: 2014. Batch No.: 6. Brewed: May 10, 2014. Bottled: October 2014.

The 2015 batch of Fyodor's Classic was just bottled, so rev up your FedEx accounts. That one is worth seeking out. Otherwise, I'll most certainly be keeping my eyes open for more Quingenti Millilitre beers (would really like to try the BA Old Guardian, but given the quality so far, I'd try just about anything) and keeping my fingers crossed that Stone will really ramp up their barrel aging program so these aren't quite so difficult to find...

Firestone Walker XVIII - Anniversary Ale

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Alrighty folks, you know the drill: Every year, Firestone Walker invites their neighboring Winemakers to the brewery to tie one on and blend a series of barrel aged component beers for their Anniversary Ale. I'm trying to be concise here because if you've been paying attention, you'd know that I've written about this whole process in wonky, exhaustive detail before, not to mention delving into individual component beers with some regularity. Needless to say, I'm a fan.

The results can be quite different from year to year. XV was more barleywineish (and it was spectacular), XVI was a little more evenly matched between barleywines and darker stouts and the like (and alas, it was a far cry from XV). Last year's XVII returned to the realm of barleywine pretty successfully (and did better than XVI, but never quite reached the heights of XV). This year, Firestone goes to the dark side:

  • 38% Parabola (13% ABV) Russian Imperial Oatmeal Stout. Aged in Bourbon Barrels.
  • 16% Helldorado (11.7% ABV) Blonde Barley Wine. Aged in Bourbon and Brandy Barrels.
  • 16% Bravo (12.9% ABV) Imperial Brown Ale. Aged in Bourbon and Brandy Barrels.
  • 14% Stickee Monkee (12.3% ABV) English Barley Wine. Aged in Bourbon and Brandy barrels.
  • 5% Velvet Merkin (8.5% ABV) Traditional Oatmeal Stout. Aged in Bourbon barrels.
  • 4% Hydra Cuveè (10.5% ABV) Blend of Flying Dog Gonzo and FW Wookey Jack (both stainless), Double DBA and Bravo (both aged in Bourbon barrels).
  • 3% Wookey Jack (8.3% ABV) Black Rye India Pale Ale. 100% Stainless Steel
  • 2% Ol' Leghorn (12.5% ABV) English Barley Wine, Collaboration with Three Floyds. Aged in New American Oak.
  • 2% Double Jack (9.5% ABV) Double India Pale Ale. Aged in Stainless Steel.

Lots of unusual things (at least, when compared to the last few vintages). First up, 38% of Parabola is the single highest component I've seen yet, and when you add up stout-like components, you get about 59% (perhaps 66%, depending on how you consider Wookey Jack or Hydra Cuveè), with about a third of the blend hitting barleywine territory. Perhaps making up for the disproportionate amount of Parabola is that this features 5 components with 5% or less of the final blend. Heck, that Hydra Cuveè is only 4% and it's already a blend of 4 beers. This blend has the most components of any previous vintage I've tried and it's also the darkest and most stout-like version since XIII (which I have, sadly, never tried). The good news here is that all this weirdness basically translates to the best vintage since XV.

Firestone Walker XVIII- Anniversary Ale

Firestone Walker XVIII - Anniversary Ale - Pours a black color with almost no head, just a very small ring around the edge of the glass. Smells fantastic, caramel, oak, vanilla, bourbon, a hint of roast, and some dark fruit. The taste is Parabola up front, caramel, bourbon, oak, and vanilla with a bit of roast, followed by a more bourbon barrel barleywine-like dark fruit and toffee in the finish. Really delicious, lots of complexity that keeps emerging as it warms up. Mouthfeel is full bodied, rich, and chewy, well carbonated, just a little sticky, with a bit of boozy heat. Well balanced though, and as it warms, it gets even better. Overall, spectacular and delicious, best vintage since XV and maybe even better. A

Beer Nerd Details: 13% ABV bottled (22 ounce boxed bomber). Drank out of a snifter on 1/23/15. 2014 vintage.

I really can't get enough of Firestone's barrel aging program. Really looking forward to snagging some Sucaba and Parabola this year, and whatever other specialties make their way around (apparently Helldorado is coming to bottles this year, replacing DDBA).

BBQ Beer Club

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

Loose Meat
(Click to Embiggen)

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

January Beer Club 2015
(Click to Embiggen)

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

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

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

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