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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...

Smarch Beer Club

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Due to a calendar misprint, the Smarch edition of beer club came later than normals, but we had it all the same. For the uninitiated, beer club is where a bunch of booze-minded folks from my work get together and sample beers and usually other beverages of choice. We always hit up a local BYOB and tonight, we didn't even get banned! Good times had by all, and we got to drink some pretty good beer too:

Smarch Beer Club
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In accordance with tradition, I will henceforth record some disgruntled, freakish opinions on each beer below. You know, for posterity. Of course none of these notes are reliable because I wasn't in a sensory deprivation chamber and didn't chemically cleanse my palate after every sip, so read them at your own risk. In order of drinking (not in order of picture, and due to some tardy attendees, some are not even pictured):

  • Kaedrin Fat Weekend IPA - My homebrewed IPA, one of the last bottles at this point, seemed to go over pretty well. Again, I hope to do a more detailed review at some point, but in short, it came out super dank, very piney and resinous hop character dominates the flavor. A little overcarbonated, but I should be able to correct that in future batches. I'll refrain from rating right now, but aside from the carbonation issues, I really like this.
  • Wagner Valley IPA - I've used this description before, but it's perfect for a beer like this: It reminds me of the sort of thing you'd get in a John Harvard's brewpub, circa 1998. Totally an improvement over most macro lagers, but not particularly accomplished either. C+
  • DuClaw Naked Fish - A beer we've had before (at beer club, even), and my thoughts haven't changed much at all. It's got a really nice raspberry and chocolate character mixed with a really low-octane stout base. Easy enough to drink, but it's not going to blow you away. B
  • Ken's Homebrewed Oktoberfest - New homebrewer Ken brought one of his first batches, an Octoberfest beer that probably still needs some conditioning time, but was drinkable as it was. It had some apple-like off flavors, but it was actually sorta pleasant anyway...
  • Magic Hat Pistil - Super light, flowery, herbal, crisp and refreshing, would make a great summer beer. Not something that will blow away jaded beer nerds or anything, but it was actually a nice palate cleanser and certainly a lot more pleasant than macro stuff. B
  • Flying Dog Lucky S.O.B. - A pretty straightforward Irish Red Ale. Not bad or anything, but not particularly distinguished either. Nice malt backbone, easy drinking stuff. B-
  • Kaedrin Stout - Another of my homebrews, this thing is about a year and a half old, and it's actually drinking really well! Complex malt character, caramel, roast, dark chocolate, still packs a whallop of flavor and hasn't really lost anything over the year and a half in my cellar. On the other hand, this has always been a beer that's worked well in small pours. Still, I think I may revisit the recipe next year, perhaps amp it up a bit more, give it some more hops, get a higher attenuating yeast. It's pretty good right now, but it could be great.
  • Boulevard Harvest Dance Wheatwine - It's like a hefeweizen, only moreso. In my limited experience with big wheat beers, I've always gotten cloying, sticky sweet notes that just made it unpalatable. But this drinks like a slightly boozy hefeweizen. Huge banana and clove weizen yeast character in the nose, and you really don't get that big boozy flavor until the finish, and even then, it doesn't quite feel like a 9.1% monster. Still not my favorite style, but this was among the best I've had. B+
  • DuClaw Bourbon Barrel Aged Devil's Milk - The regular Devil's Milk is a wonderful little barleywine, this bourbon-barrel aged version makes a nice complementary offering. It's a huge, bourbon forward beer, lots of caramel and vanila, much less in the way of hops than the base, but still an eminently drinkable brew. Would like to try again sometime, but I'll give it an tentative A-
  • Weyerbacher Riserva (2012) - Picked this up at the release at the brewery this past weekend (will have a more detailed post later, stay tuned), even briefly crossed paths with Rich on Beer and fam on my way to pick up some Riserva and the last NATO beer (Zulu, which, again, will be covered in a separate post at some point). Anyways, Riserva is an oak aged beer made with raspberries. It's going to be distributed, but as American Wild Ales go, it's pretty solid stuff. It's not a top tier Russian River killer or anything, but it's got a place at the table, and I'm continually surprised at how well sour beers go over with the beer club crowd. Even non-beer drinkers gave this a shot and really enjoyed it. For my part, I found it to be a bit hot, but otherwise a pretty solid beer. Funky, intensely sour, but with a nice oak character balancing things out. A little astringent and boozy, but still really enjoyable. Not sure about knocking back an entire 750 ml of this, but I'm sure it will happen someday. B+
And that about covers it. Good times had by all, and already planning next month's meetup, since this month happened so late.

Lavery Imperial Red Ale

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So I've heard a lot about these Erie, PA brewers from the guys over at Aleheads, who did a great interview with the founder, Jason Lavery. As such, when I noticed a few bottles popping up here in Eastern PA, I jumped at the chance to try some of this stuff. Selection is still limited and I'm holding out hope for their summer seasonal, apparently a huge saison-style beer. In the meantime, I figured I'd check out this Imperial Red Ale.

This can be a bit of a strange style. A lot of times, it comes out like a reddish IPA or DIPA (think Gordon/G'Knight or Yule Smith Winter), but in this case, it was much more recognizable as a souped up Irish Red Ale. Knowing more about the brewery now, this is unsurprising, as these brewers are Irish, and you can see that influence all throughout their catalog.

Apparently the recipe for this has changed significantly. They originally used all Amarillo hops, one of the most popular and trendy varieties out there, but apparently small breweries can experience supply problems... From the Aleheads interview: "It's a really sad story. The Imperial Red Ale was originally all Amarillo. From the hops in the kettle to the dry hops, but our hop contractor told us that since we're so small, we won't be getting any more Amarillo until 2013." Well, crap. I love me some Amarillo hops. They've got this bright, juicy citrus flavor and aroma that's just very difficult to replicate, hence Lavery's woes. The beer I had was apparently a blend of Centennial, Cascade, and Nugget, but I'd love to get my hands on some of that Amarillo version someday (perhaps next year!), assuming the great hop contractor conspiracy deems it acceptable.

Anyway, I cracked this open to celebrate the return of Game of Thrones. It's not a very... Irish... show or anything, but something about this beer seemed to fit with the atmosphere of that series quite well. Go figure.

Lavery Imperial Red Ale

Lavery Imperial Red Ale - Pours a deep, dark red color with two fingers of small bubbled head. Smells are interesting... definitely some sugary sweetness and plenty of hop character, but when put together it's hard to place. Is it... is it like a fruit rollup, but with earthy, piney hops instead of fruit? Geeze, I hate it when reviewers say stuff like that, but that's what I'm getting out of this. The taste features a well balanced sweetness and bitterness, with neither overpowering the other - a relatively mild seeming beer. The malt backbone is similar to that of an Irish Red (amber and caramel malt, probably a hint of roasted malts for color), but unlike most in the style, strong hop flavors hit in the middle with a burst of citrus and pine (but not a lot of that resin character that I usually expect), leading in to a very dry finish. Mouthfeel is surprisingly light to medium bodied, and again, the finish is extremely dry. Overall, it's more like a hopped up Irish Red Ale than anything else, but I like that concept and would gladly try this again. B

Beer Nerd Details: 7.2% ABV bottled (22 oz. bomber). Drank out of a tulip glass on 4/1/12.

Well, there you have it. An interesting first taste, but I'm intrigued by a lot of Jason's experimental talk in the Aleheads interview... though I have to wonder how much of that stuff will make it over to us Easter PA folk. As previously mentioned, I'm really hoping to get my hands on some of their Imperial French Ale, apparently a summer seasonal...

Beer Club: The End is Beer

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Tonight was beer club, a meeting of beer minded individuals from my work who get together for a meal and lots-o-beer once a month. We had a good turnout this month, with quite a few interesting beers to try. As usual, we hit up a local BYOB, this time a Thai place. Good times were had by all.

Beer Club March 2012
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For the sake of posterity, some thoughts on each beer we tried are below. As usual, conditions were not ideal, so the below probably isn't completely representative of reality. In order of drinking (not in order of the picture above):

  • Elysian NIBIRU Yerba Mate Tripel - I arrived a bit late to the gathering, so I didn't get to have a lot of this, but it was a nice Tripel style beer with a twist. Apparently part of a twelve beer series celebrating the Mayan apocalypse of 2012... (also the source of the "End is Beer" pun). I wouldn't call it a top tier beer, but it was nice. B
  • Lakefront New Grist Sorghum Beer - Wow, is this a light colored beer. Incredibly light beer in every way. Not bad, per say, but there's not a ton of flavor here either. It reminded me a lot of a less tasty but better balanced Coors Light, if that makes any sense (which it probably doesn't). Certainly not a great beer, but it has it's place. C+
  • Tröegs Nugget Nectar - I've actually reviewed this before, but I've revisited it a couple times since then and I have to admit that it gets better every time I try it. Nice hoppy citrus and pine resin character, with some earthy/herbal notes as well. An excellent beer, I'd upgrade this to a B+, maybe even higher (this was generally considered the best beer of the night by beer club homies)
  • My Homebrewed Simcoe IPA - Seemed to go over very well with the beer club folks, even the people who don't normally love IPAs. Not to toot my own horn, but this did turn out really well. Tons of citrus and a little pine from the hops in both the nose and taste. The bitterness is well matched and pleasant. Really solid beer. B+
  • Atwater Dirty Blonde Ale - A very nice, sessionable wheat ale that sorta suffered from being tasted after a few stronger, fuller flavored brews. A very nice beer, to be sure, but it was hard to really pronounce it a great beer compared to other beers in the tasting. B-
  • Stillwater Of Love & Regret - Another of my contributions to the night, I bought this last week without realizing that I'd actually had it before, so I figured I'd share the wealth. The bottle did sorta explode when I popped the cap, instantly foaming over. Luckily, we did not lose much of it, and the beer still tasted wonderful. It's got a saison style feel to it, but a little fruitiness and lots of spice too. Very nice beer and one of my favorites of the night, though some others didn't care as much for this one... B+
  • Great Lakes Conway's Irish Ale - This Irish Red Ale seems to share something with the typical English Pale Ale style, though this time around, there's enough flavor around to make it feel balanced and actually decent. I enjoyed this beer, despite not being very blown away by it. B-
  • Lagunitas A Little Sumpin' Sumpin' Ale - A very nice IPA style beer, though BA lists it as an American Pale Wheat Ale. Not sure what that means, but it turns out that it's a lot like a regular old (well, a very good, actually) IPA. Lots of American Hop Character, quite nice. I'd like to try it again sometime... B+
  • Left Hand Milk Stout - Another beer I've had before and enjoyed. Reminds me very much of Lancaster's Milk Stout - very roasty, some coffee flavors, and overall a decent roasty stout. Solid, but not one of my favorites. B
  • New Belgium Lips Of Faith - Cocoa Mole - A most unusual beer. I get lots of caramel malt and chocolate out of this, but the chipotle spice is what really gives this beer an extra kick. It was pretty good in the context of beer club, though I'm not sure I'd love to drink an entire bottle of the stuff. B
  • AleSmith Old Numbskull - My other contribution for the night, this was the biggest beer of the night, and boy does it have an intense aroma/flavor profile. Lots of caramel and citrusy, resinous hops. Really nice and I liked it a lot, but I was glad to have shared it with a bunch of other folks. Overall, might be the second best beer of the night behind the Nugget Nectar. B+
A great time was had by all, so it was another successful beer club, and as always, I'm already looking forward to next month!

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

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