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Levante Quintuple Feature

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Drink local, they say, and so I do. Levante is the closest brewery to Kaedrin HQ, and I do find myself at their taproom on a semi-regular basis. Alas, I've been woefully neglectful of their wares on this here blog. Since opening a few years ago, they've grown considerably, both in terms of quantity and quality. In particular, they've stepped up their NEIPA game, as these last few releases illustrate (also telling: the number of people in lines for this stuff). Of course, their stout program is also strong, and while my ambivalence to coffee is well known, we'll cover a couple of coffee-dosed offerings too (hint: they're fantastic).

Levante Retail Therapy

Levante Retail Therapy - The perfect gift for dorks who work for a retail website and are breathing a sigh of relief after the usual Q4 rush (i.e. me). Brewed with spelt malt and oats and hopped with Simcoe, Amarillo, Citra, and El Dorado. Pours a cloudy, milky yellow color with a finger of white head. Smells of sweet, juicy citrus hops, fresh, green, pretty darned great. Taste is sweet and juicy, lots of citrus. Mouthfeel is medium bodied but kinda thick, well carbonated. Overall, one of the better Levante offerings, not quite Hop Cartel level good, but very nice. Probably shouldn't have given half of these away as Christmas gifts. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 6.8% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a tulip glass on 12/22/17. Canned: 12/21/17.

Levante Gran Gianduiotto

Levante Gran Gianduiotto - Imperial stout brewed with lactose, Ghirardelli cacao powder, hazelnut, vanilla, and three blends of over 70 pounds of Italian Espresso from Gran Caffe L'Aquila. Pours a very dark brown color with off white head. Smells of roasty coffee, chocolate, coffee, roast, and coffee. Did I mention coffee? As it warms, it gains a sweeter, richer caramel note. Taste is a little less roasty, more rich caramel, but still plenty of coffee and chocolate, I wouldn't have picked out hazelnut blind, but since I know it's there, I can kinda see it if I do the tasting equivalent of squinting. Mouthfeel is rich and chewy, full bodied, moderately carbonated, a hint of booze. Overall, this is fabulous, even for a coffee beer. Kinda wish I didn't give most of my cans away as gifts... A-

Beer Nerd Details: 11% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a tulip glass on 12/29/17. Canned: 12/21/17.

Levante Coffee Shoppe Terminology

Levante Coffee Shoppe Terminology (Barrel Aged 2017) - Brewed with a blend of shade grown, locally roasted, organic Sumatran and Guatemalan coffee supplied by Golden Valley Farms Coffee Roasters in West Chester, PA, then aged for six months in American Whiskey Barrels from Manatawny Still Works in Pottstown, PA (they do not make bourbon, but I think their standard offering is primarily malted barley and wheat, with some oats and rye). Pours a very dark brown color with a tan head. Smells great, lots of coffee, roast, and a heaping helping of that whiskey, oak, and vanilla. Taste is rich and creamy, caramel, whiskey, oak, and vanilla, with a dose of roast coffee, finishing on a pleasant boozy note. Mouthfeel is full bodied, rich, and chewy, with lots of boozy (but again, pleasant) heat. Overall, maybe I do like coffee beers (i.e. if they're this boozy), great barrel character and pretty darned great. For some reason, I feel like people are sleeping on this, as evidenced by the fact that I just bought another couple bottles about a month after I bought this one... on second thought, forget I said anything. A

Beer Nerd Details: 10.1% ABV bottled (500 ml). Drank out of a snifter on 1/5/18. (not sure when bottled, bought it at 12/21/17 release)

Levante Tickle Parts

Levante Tickle Parts - Another NEIPA that's a little short on specifics (label sez: El Dorado, Mosaic, Citra hops were used). They released this a couple months ago (I had an extra-hopped cask version at a local watering hole, and it was great), then did a rebrew in January, which is the batch I'm reviewing here. Pours a murky yellow color with a finger of white head that leaves plenty of lacing as I drink. Smells fabulous, tons of fresh, juicy citrus hops. Taste hits those juice notes hard, citrus with a little bit of dank pine in the finish, which isn't very bitter (but maybe just enough to keep things in balance). Mouthfeel is medium bodied but thick, well carbonated, decent balance. Overall, a good example of the hazier NEIPA. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 7.1% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a tulip glass on 1/19/18. Canned: 1/11/18. Batch 2.

Levante Glitter Parts

Levante Glitter Parts - Another NEIPA variant, this time with added lactose, coconut, and vanilla (kinda Tired Hands Milkshake-esque), with a similar hopping schedule to Tickle Parts (Citra, El Dorado, Simcoe, Mosaic). I drank this out of a shaker pint glass because I was watching the Eagles slaughter the Vikings on Sunday, and as you can see, it was totally my glassware that put them over the edge. Pours an even murkier pale yellow color with a finger of white head that leaves lots of lacing as I drink. Smells great, those fresh, juicy citrus hops, maybe a bit more tropical here. I didn't pick up coconut directly (and probably wouldn't blind), but if you do the olefactory version of squinting, maybe it's there? Taste follows the nose, sweeter with lots of juicy citrus hops, with maybe that vanilla showing up a bit here. Mouthfeel is medium bodied with a higher viscosity than Tickle Parts, that lactose definitely felt here, well carbonated and decent balance. Overall, yep, another winner. A

Beer Nerd Details: 7% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a shaker pint glass on 1/21/18. Canned: 1/11/18.

I feel like perhaps my lesser homer instincts are kicking in, as I only seem to find myself reviewing beers I love from these guys. But these last two releases were pretty killer. I will say that they make plenty of beers that I'm not entirely on board with (and in fact, their regular lineup isn't all that spectacular), so there is that. It's hard to get all fired up about writing them up on those though, perhaps a topic for another post.

Founders CBS

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Back in the halcyon days of 2012, after many moons searching, I finally landed a bottle of Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout. At the time, I naively referred to it as a whale, because for me, it kinda was. It was this mythical thing that I had never seen, but which people on teh internets kept gushing over. In time, I would come to learn of the absurdity of the white whale list, but 2012 was a different time.

Right around when I was snagging my first KBS, Founders decided to bottle their infamous Canadian Breakfast Stout (CBS), a legendary variant of KBS that used the same base (imperial stout brewed with chocolate and coffee), but aged in bourbon barrels that had also been used to age maple syrup. Up to that point, it was an annual favorite at their taproom, but didn't receive much in the way of distribution. And of course, amateur beer hunter that I was at the time (and frankly, still am, at least compared to a lot of folks), I never even got close to a bottle. The next batch came a few years later; they didn't bottle it, but did distribute a fair amount of kegs to the Philly environs. Alas, moron that I also am, I never got off my keister to get a taste (by that time, my thoughts on coffee dosed beers had calcified and I wasn't really up for hunting down a beer I'm sure I'd enjoy, but which would fall somewhat short of my favorites). Finally, CBS in its most recent incarnation arrived on shelves and in taprooms around the area just a few weeks ago, and I managed to snag a couple of bottles with relative ease (even unexpectedly scoring a glass on draft a few days later). Then I got slammed by a head cold and ear infection, so the bottle sat sadly undrunk in my fridge for a while. On a chilly Festivus evening, I finally popped the cap on this sucker. What does five years of anticipation do for this? Well, it's pretty much what I expected, but I do rather like it more than expected...

Founders CBS

Founders Canadian Breakfast Stout (CBS) - Pours a deep, dark black color with a finger of light brown head. Smells of coffee, roast, a little of that syrup, and some bourbon, oak, and vanilla. Taste starts with rich caramel, that bourbon and oak character hits, followed by some roast and coffee, finishing on a brighter, sweeter syrupy note. The coffee character is clearly there, but takes a back seat to the barrel and syrup notes. As it warms, the coffee comes out a bit more, but so do the other elements. Much like KBS, this is a beer that I found decent at first sip, but which got better and better the more I drank. Mouthfeel is full bodied, rich, and chewy, faint hints of booze. Overall, a very nice, complex beer. My coffee ambivalence be damned, I like this a lot. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 11.9% ABV bottled (750 ml capped). Drank out of a snifter glass on 12/23/17.

As per usual, Founders is always reliable, and stuff like this still manages to stand out, even as beer dorks are constantly zonked out on NEIPAs and pastry stouts.

Again Dark Wednesday

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Every year, on the day before Thanksgiving, Victory has some sort of beer release. They hath dubbed the day Dark Wednesday, and past offerings include the likes of Dark Intrigue, Java Cask, and Java Cask Rye. This year's primary offering was Wisdom's Hour, a dark sour, but they were also teasing another "mystery" beer that wasn't really a mystery because it sorta already came out during the summer that they were making another batch of Java Cask Rye, but with added vanilla beans. As per usual, Victory's releases tend to be pretty low-stress affairs, so even though I was battling a cold at the time, I managed to pop over and secure a couple bottles without notably impacting my condition... Anywho, Victory is one of my long time favorite local breweries, so I'm always excited to see them trying new things from time to time. Let's get on with it:

Victory Wisdoms Hour

Victory Wisdom's Hour - Pours a dark amber color with a finger of off white head. Smells of dark fruit, oak, vinegar, vanilla. Taste has some darker malt sort of notes, not exactly roasty, some dark fruit, spice, oak, and vinegar, only moderately sour. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, well carbonated, moderate acidity, pretty easy going. Overall, it's a nice little sour, not going to light anything on fire, but worthwhile. It may be on the lower end of the B+ rating, but I'm feeling generous enough.

Beer Nerd Details: 9.5% ABV bottled (750 ml caged and corked). Drank out of a tulip glass on 11/27/17. Bottled on: 10 Nov 2017.

Victory Java Cask Rye with Vanilla Beans

Victory Java Cask Rye with Vanilla Beans - Pours a jet black color with almost no head whatsoever (and what's there disappears quickly). Smells of coffee, with a little bit of booze and hints of that vanilla evident. Taste starts with some rich caramel, lots of booze, oak, and a little vanilla, with the coffee only emerging in the middle and not super strong either. Mouthfeel is rich and despite the appearance, actually pretty well carbonated, lots of warming booze. Overall, it's pretty darned good, but I have a feeling coffee fans would be a touch disappointed, but as someone ambivalent to coffee, I think I liked this more. It's definitely not the non-coffeed version of my dreams, but it's darned good. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 12.5% ABV bottled (750 ml caged and corked). Drank out of a snifter on 12/3/17. Bottled on: 13 Nov 2017.

As per usual, Victory remains a local go to, and it looks like they have another batch of Red coming soon, which was phenomenal last year...

Melting Down with Root Down

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Root Down Brewing opened its doors earlier this year, and it was an event I had been anticipating for a while. The owner/brewer, Mike Hamara, was the guy who sold me my homebrew setup many moons ago. On at least one occasion, he improvised a complete recipe from scratch for me because I needed something quick and didn't have time to prepare (I'm the worst). To put it mildly, this is a guy who knows what he's doing, and has been planning this operation for years, if not decades.

Root Down Graffiti

Located in Phoenixville, PA, the building is deceptively large and punctuated by graffiti inspired decor. Chances are, there will be some sort of obscure martial arts film playing on the TVs (though they will cave in and put the Eagles game on if someone asks), and indeed, some of the beer names (like the below Flying Guillotine IPA) are inspired by said movies (truly a brewery after my heart). I didn't have any food during my visit, but they have a menu of BBQ goodies and even a whole page dedicated to Vegan offerings, such that I'll definitely be checking this stuff out upon future visits.

Root Down Flying Guillotine IPA

I visited on a Sunday when they were releasing a particular beer made in cahoots with BeerNERDs (N.E.R.D. stands for Network of Educated Refined Drinkers), with proceeds going to Main Line Deputy Dog, a local charity that helps with training service dogs for those in need. For the uninitiated, BeerNERDs is a group of, well, nerds centered in southeastern PA with smatterings of members from MD, DE, and NJ. There's a Facebook Group of 5000 plus members, which naturally leads to the occasional, erm, argument. Tensions mount, some people can't handle it, others pile on, and then a full blown meltdown ensues. One particular meltdown centered on Root Down taking forever to deliver an ordered beer. I can no longer find specifics of the complaint, but the guy was awfully strident in his distaste and apparently greatly exaggerated his experience, as it was later revealed that he had only been around for a scant 107 seconds before up and leaving the place. But these details are unimportant; Root Down and BeerNERDs decided to relax and remember that it's just beer, eventually deciding to collaborate for charity.

So finally we get to the beer, a 10.7% ABV (I see what they did there) imperial oatmeal stout brewed with bitter chocolate and slow molasses. Sounds wonderful, so let's kick it root down:

Root Down Melt Down

Root Down Melt Down - Pours a very dark, deep brown, almost black color with a finger of brown head. Smells of roasted malt, dark chocolate, maybe a little coffee note, and that molasses tang in the background. Taste is rich and sweet up front, with a bitter roastiness emerging quickly, leavened a bit by the molasses, then returning to roast, coffee, and chocolate in the finish. Mouthfeel is rich and full bodied, solid carbonation, a hint of boozy heat. Overall, rock solid imperial stout. Rumors of barrel aged variants in the future, so let's leave some room for such endeavors in the rating, making this a high B+

Beer Nerd Details: 10.7% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a snifter on 11/12/17. Canned 11/6/17. Batch: DOOMA DOOMA.

Very much looking forward to more trips to Root Down, as well as seeing some of their barrel aging efforts come to fruition...

Jackie O's Double Feature

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The impression I get is that Jackie O's is a sort of hidden gem. Perhaps because they're located in Ohio, or perhaps because they don't have that one walezish offering that everyone goes bonkers over (an arguable point, I'm sure, but still). I've had a few things in informal settings, and recently came into a couple of staple bottles that would be a reasonable introduction. So let's get into it:

Hockhocking

Jackie O's Hockhocking - I'm pretty sure Jackie O's isn't known for this sort of thing, a mixed fermentation saison aged in wine barrels. Named after a river and music festival that takes place on the banks of said river, this is certainly a worthy entry into that crowded style. Pours a pale, slightly hazy yellow color with a finger of white head. Smells sweet, vinous fruit, lactic funk. Taste starts off sweet, with lots of tart, vinous fruit, maybe a hint of saison spice in the middle, with the finish having a funky, lactic tartness to it. Mouthfeel is tightly carbonated, medium bodied, moderate acidity, quaffable. Overall, this is a pretty great little saison. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 6.5% ABV bottled (500 ml). Drank out of a charente glass on 11/11/17. Vintage: 2017.

Oil Of Aphrodite

Jackie O's Oil Of Aphrodite - An imperial stout brewed with black walnuts and Belgian candied syrup. Pours black with a finger of light brown head. Smells very sweet and sugary, not much roast, a little caramel and vanilla. Taste follows the nose, a little more roast here than the nose, but still very sweet, caramel and vanilla, some piney hops in the finish balance things out a bit. Mouthfeel is medium to full bodied, well carbed. Overall, a pretty straightforward imperial stout, a little on the sweet side, but quite nice. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 10% ABV bottled (375 ml). Drank out of a snifter on 11/17/17.

A promising start. Now I just need to snag some of their barrel aged offerings, which I've heard good things about...

Marshal Zhukov

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Georgy Zhukov was a Soviet Army officer who commanded troops during the Battle of Berlin, eventually resulting in the defeat of Nazi Germany. He attained the rank of Marshal (the highest military rank in the Soviet Union), but also became Minister of Defence amongst taking on other political roles. Infamously stubborn and hot-tempered, he was known to risk life and limb by heatedly arguing with Stalin over this or that policy (normally surrounded by sycophants, Stalin respected Zhukov's independent thought, while presumably also being annoyed by his stubbornness, which is the sort of thing people got disappeared for...) Basically, a decent guy to name a Russian Imperial Stout after. In a mildly refreshing change of pace, there's nothing particularly special about this stout (other than it being really good). No weird ingredients, no spices or vanilla, not even barrels. Just barley, hops, yeast, and water. Spaseeba!

Marshal Zhukov

Cigar City Marshal Zhukov's Imperial Stout - Pours a deep black color with a pretty brown head that quickly dissipates. Smells great, lots of sweet malt, caramel, hints of roast, vanilla. Taste hits those same notes, rich caramel, hints of roast, a touch of vanilla, a little booze. Mouthfeel is full bodied, rich, and chewy, moderate carbonation, a little boozy heat. Overall, fantastic straightforward imperial stout. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 11.2% ABV bottled (22 ounce bomber). Drank out of a snifter on 10/29/17.

There are tons of variants of this, some of which I've had (a couple of coffee dosed versions), but I'd love to try a barrel aged one sometime (of which there are several varieties). Someday!

Anchorage Darkest Hour

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I have a friend with a penchant for Alaskan beers who was always giving me a hard time for only having two reviews of Anchorage beers on the blog, so this one's for you buddy. Also, if you can get me an extra bottle or two of A Deal With The Devil, I will gladly review that (in all fairness, this person has generously shared a bottle of that right excellent barleywine, and it was indeed glorious, but those weren't exactly ideal reviewer conditions and you know how we do here at Kaedrin - journalistic integrity and all that garbage. Alright fine, it's just laziness, you happy now?)

So what we have here is an Imperial Stout brewed with Summit hops, aged in a variety whisky barrels, and bottle conditioned with a wine yeast. This is apparently different from the original batch (released in 2013), which used a Belgian yeast and incorporated Pinot Noir barrels in addition to whiskey barrels. It still feels like a distinct offering in a crowded BBA stout field. To paraphrase Carl von Clausewitz, this is the sort of beer that requires "an intellect that, even in the darkest hour, retains some glimmerings of the inner light which leads to truth." Or, you know, something like that.

Anchorage Darkest Hour

Anchorage Darkest Hour - Pours a deep, dark brown, almost black color with just a ring of brown head around the edge of the glass. Smells sweet and rich, caramel, liquorish, oak, vanilla, and bourbon. Taste has a sweet, rich caramel to it, with that liquorish pitching in, roasted malt, char, coffee, a hint of spice, finishing on that whisky, oak, and vanilla tip. Mouthfeel is rich and full bodied, light but appropriate carbonation, sneaky booze bite. Overall, yep, really good example of the style, if not quite as comparatively great as something like ADWTD... B+

Beer Nerd Details: 13% ABV bottled (750 ml caged and corked). Drank out of a snifter glass on 8/18/17. Vintage: Batch #3 DEC/2016.

So there you have it. If I ever get my greedy little paws on ADWTD, you will most certainly see that popping up here at some point, but you never know. I've generally enjoyed everything I've had from Anchorage, so maybe we'll get to something else before then...

The Veil Quadrupel Feature (Again)

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The Veil occupies an interesting space in my beer consumption. I will gladly partake whenever I get a chance, but so far, I am unlikely to make the four hour (one way) trip to Virginia to hit up a release. Of course, I'm also unlikely to make the thirty minute trip to Tired Hands for a release, so that's the context here. Fortunately, I know people, and through their generosity, I sometimes bag a few cans of this stuff. Last time, we got somewhat uneven results. This time, we're remarkably consistent, but nothing really melting my face either. A nice mixture of styles though, and it made for a nice weekend of drinking:

The Veil Coalesce

The Veil Coalesce - Czech style Pilsner and someday I'll be able to tell the difference between Czech and German Pilsners blind, but alas, that day is not today - Pours a slightly hazy golden yellow color with a finger of white, fluffy head. Smells of earthy, spicy, floral hops. Taste hits those same hop notes, spicy, grassy, floral, with a hint of bready malt, finishing clean. Mouthfeel is well carbonated, light bodied, and crisp. Overall, solid little Pilsner that's a welcome change of pace from all these IPAs I've been downing. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 5.5% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a willibecher glass on 7/21/17. Canned: 07/11/17.

The Veil Snozzwired

The Veil Snozzwired - This is The Veil's session chocolate milk stout Snozzwanger conditioned on a bunch of Lamplighter Coffee Roasters espresso - Pours ridiculously dark, one of the blackest beers I've seen, with just a cap of brown head that doesn't stick around long. Smells of deep roast coffee, roasted malt, dark chocolate, did I mention roasty? Taste is, yes, extremely roasty, spent coffee grounds, a little bitterness from that roast, hints of dark chocolate taking a back seat to, you guessed it, roast. Mouthfeel is medium bodied (more than you'd think), well carbonated, relatively dry, doesn't really drink like a 4.4% ABV beer, but it doesn't feel like a big imperial bruiser either. Overall, it's solid, but my general lack of coffee enthusiasm has its downsides. B

Beer Nerd Details: 4.4% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a snifter on 7/22/17. Canned: 07/11/17.

The Veil Henry From Monkish

The Veil Henry From Monkish - IPA made with Galaxy and Simcoe in honor of Henry Nguyen of Monkish brewing, who, if this can is any indication, is a frost giant from the Thor movies - Pours a turbid, murky orange yellow color with a solid finger of white, fluffy head that has good retention and leaves some lacing. Smells great, typical NEIPA juicy citrus hops, mango, tropical fruit. Taste again hits those South Pacific citrus hop notes (guessing Galaxy here), lots of mango and tropical fruit, finishing with a bit of a bitter bite. Mouthfeel is low to medium bodied, ample carbonation, relatively dry. Could perhaps use a hint more heft, but otherwise this is overall pretty damn nice! B+

Beer Nerd Details: 5.9% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a tulip glass on 7/22/17. Canned: 07/10/17.

The Veil Broz Night Out

The Veil Broz Night Out - An imperial version of The Veil's low ABV Citra IPA Broz Day Off - Pours a similar turbid, murky orange yellow color with a finger of white fluffy head, good retention, and some lacing. Smells of sugary sweet citrus, like candied fruit, with some floral notes and maybe even some of that booze. Taste is sweet and citrusy, with plenty of floral hops too, juicy, and a little boozy. Mouthfeel is well carbonated, almost creamy, medium bodied, a little sticky nonetheless, and hints of booze. Overall, rock solid DIPA. I tend to like them with a little less booze, but this is nice. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 9% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a tulip glass on 7/23/17. Canned: 07/10/17.

Many thanks to fellow beer nerd Sheik for being a great American and trading me these cans.

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This page is an archive of recent entries in the Stout category.

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