Monday, September 5, 2011

Movin' on up

I've decided it's time to take this blog to the next step and I've bought my own site at . I'm very excited about what this will mean for me in my beer/blog future, and I want to thank all of you for all the support over the past few years


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Hoppin' Frog Silk Porter

Perhaps best known for B.O.R.I.S. and D.O.R.I.S., don't overlook the other fine brews from Hoppin' Frog, like the Silk Porter.

While it is an Ohio brewery, Hoppin' Frog can be hard to find in this part of the state. And it's kind of a shame, because I've been very impressed with everything of theirs I have had.

Silk Porter pours just like a porter should; inky black and just a trace of head. Full nose lets you know you need to get ready for an assault of flavor. Lots of roasted and toasted malt, some bittersweet chocolate. Even a bit past roasted into charred. A dry, chalky, woody finish. Is that chicory?

The name, I think, is a bit misleading. It's not as creamy and silky as other porters. In fact, it's more harsh than most. Mind you, that's not a bad thing. Very solid beer, here

Grade: B

Monday, August 29, 2011

Chimay Red

Those Monks sure do know their beers! As my delightful trial of a beer from every Trappist brewery continues (I will have had 5 of the 7 by the end of the week), I'm trying Chimay Red.

Hazy light brown color with a pillowy head that hangs around for a bit. The flavor features big, full malt, a hint of hops to cut through the sweetness, and some apricot in the finish. Starts creamy and ends dry. Very interesting sensation. As it warms, I'm getting butterscotch and some pepper.

Overall, a sensational beer. Big flavors, great texture, complex, and balanced.

Grade: A

Friday, August 26, 2011

Unibroue Maudite

Unibroue Maudite is nothing if not gorgeous. Deep amber color and a big fluffy head that will not give up! Mostly yeast in the nose. Leads to some lightly toasted malt and a bit of a crisp hop kick. Some hints of clove, banana, and citrus in there, too.

Complex, and well balanced, but not very assertive. The flavors from the yeast are the most pronounced I'm getting.

Grade: B

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Heavy Seas Peg Leg Imperial Stout

When I want something big, brash, and bold, I usually reach for Imperial Stouts. Will Heavy Seas Peg Leg Imperial Stout plunder my wont for a huge, tasty beer?

The color is right on, but the head doesn't compare to most others of the style. Very smooth. Might be the lightest bodied imperial stout I've had. There's a hint of coffee, bittersweet chocolate, and some dark fruit. Late bitterness from the hops.

It's not bad, but it's just not doing anything for me. Very tame and I wanted something more audacious.

Grade: C

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

North Coast Old Stock Ale

Barley Wine is a style that's been growing on me. If I had the patience to age, these would be the style to age. However, I am not blessed with that virtue when it comes to beer!

This is North Coast's Old Stock Ale, 2010 version. Deep mahogany color with loads of roasted butterscotch and some wood in the nose. That butterscotch flavor absolutely coats the mouth with a bit of sour tang in the finish. Hops add a welcome kick and some bitterness, but don't get in the way of anything. Picking up some grapes and late chocolate as it warms. It's a heavy hitter at more than 11% ABV, but the alcohol is just a pleasant warmth.

Outstanding! My impatience has been rewarded

Grade: A

Monday, August 22, 2011

Dark Horse Sapient Trip Ale

After a run of authentic Trappist ales recently, I'm interested in an American taken on the version with Dark Horse Sapient Trip Ale.

The color is lighter than I expected for a Belgian Trippel. The fluffy white heads deflates rather quickly, but it is sticking around with tenacity. Lots of banana and sour malt in the nose. Similar flavors with more of the slightly sour malt and some clove and spice in the finish. Very smooth and crisp. Not even a hint of the powerful 8.5% ABV. Very little hop presence.

It tastes good, it's easy to drink, but I think I'd rather have a Rochefort 10 or La Trappe Quad anytime.

Grade: B

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Life and Limb - Dogfish Head and Sierra Nevada collaboration

Clearly, every craft brewery wants to sell tons of beer and make huge profits, but there is a sense of camaraderie amongst craft brewers in a love of great beer. That love is displayed here with the Dogfish Head and Sierra Nevada collaboration brew, Life and Limb. Heck, it even is its own website!

The expectations are high here and the beer starts off big with a huge off white head and deep mahogany color. Lots of spice and dark fruit in the smell. Tons of sweet malt, maple syrup, some smokiness, anise, followed by a long, dry finish. The hops eventually give a bit of a kick along with some cherries.

Big, complex, well balanced. There's some boozy warmth, but I wouldn't guess it is 10%. Delicious and a great of example of a beer brewed with passion, knowledge, and love. Get it

Grade: A+

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Founders Porter

This is one I've been trying to get my hands on for a while, because whenever I tell people porter is my favorite style, the next question is if I have had Founders Porter. So I must admit, even before the first sip, the bar is set very high.

Pour is just what I like; inky black and there's not even color around the edges. It's solid black with a thin head that doesn't last long. Inviting roasty smell. The roast carries on into the flavor, but it doesn't over power the smooth chocolate. The chocolate notes here are not as bitter as other porters. More of a milk chocolate. Mouthfeel is creamy and smooth. Hops and toasted bread come out more as it warms. Long finish that's dry with just a hint of bitterness.

Nothing not to like about this one!

Grade: A

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Southern Tier Creme Brulee Stout

The intoxicating and inviting aromas of South Tier Creme Brulee Stout draw you in the second you pop the top. Tons of toffee, butterscotch, and milk in the nose and a gorgeous dark tan head floating on a sea of black.

Sweet sugar with a little bit of char to go along with the butterscotch and warm milk and a very creamy texture. There's also a hop bite at the back end to remind you it's a beer. Never having had creme brulee (I know, how bourgeois of me) I can't say how close it is to Creme Brulee in a bottle, but gosh is it tasty. Might be too sweet for some, but I think it's delicious. The burnt flavor lingers more than anything, but it goes very well with the sweetness. Not even a hint of the whopping 9.6% ABV

Excellent brew!

Grade: A

Friday, August 5, 2011

Bard's Beer

I'm rather intrigued by Bard's Beer, as this is will be my first gluten free beer. I certainly feel for those who have celiac disease and can't eat or drink anything with wheat or barley (so I assume they can have Bud Light), as I suffer from a similar disorder.

The color is nice, there isn't much head, but the smell isn't giving me a lot of promise. The flavor is...not especially pleasant. I can't even figure out how to describe it. I knew not to expect anything like other light amber ales, but all I am getting is what I assume is the sorghum. No other kind of hops or nuances.

I really wanted to like this beer, but I just don't. I think making an IPA out of this and masking the flavor the malt would be a good direction. I don't think it's badly brewed, I just think I don't dig on sorghum. Unfortunate.

Grade: D

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Flying Dog Raging Bitch Belgian IPA

With my final IPA for the day, it's Flying Dog Raging Bitch Belgian IPA.

I'm curious what will make this Belgian, but the look is similar to the other two from earlier in the evening, though the color is a bit more light orange and the head is both bigger and sticking around longer.

The smell is both hoppy and yeasty. Lots of orange and coriander before the hops come in. Not a ton of malt here. But a very bitter finish. Outstanding lacing. I'm getting more Belgian than IPA, but I like this. I believe I'm a fan of these kind of hybrids in general.

Overall, a pretty tasty brew, and it's nice to see some innovation in the style.

Grade: B

P.S. I have only been listening to songs with Bitch in the title while writing this. Let's dig on some Stones together, shall we?

Great Divide Hercules Double IPA

The IPA Day celebration continues with Great Divide's Hercules Double IPA.

A nice start with a hazy bronze color and big fluffy white head. Smells like piney hops and a bit of wood. Big round malt flavor followed by a hit of hops. Extremely well balanced. Long and intensely bitter finish. Very creamy texture and a lot of the hop hit comes in the finish rather than while you first drink it. Noticing quite a bit of orange in this brew.

I like it. Good balance not only between malt and hops, but among the different hops, too. Fantastic mouthfeel, as well.

Grade: A

Dogfishead 90 Minute IPA

Happy IPA Day! Going to start today's celebration with the ubiquitous Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA.

I really like the light brown color with an inviting haze. Lots of citrusy hops in the nose. Starts off with a lot of sweet caramel followed by a big hop punch. The hops are there, don't worry about that, but they aren't blowing out everything else like I expected.

This is my kind of IPA. Huge hop notes, big bitter finish, but it's got some malt to go along with it. It's not like you're drinking hop juice (which I haven't been able to get my hands on yet.) The 9% ABV warms on the way down, but doesn't have much presence other than that.

Big fan of this one!

Grade: A

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Aecht Schlenkerla Eiche

That's not a typo. It's German! Now, I don't sprechen sie deutsch, but I did notice, in English, doppelbock and oak smoke. I'm in.

Aecht Schlenkerla Eiche pours lighter than I expected, but it's a nice amber with a big head, though that may be a function of the bottle neck. The smell is smoke, and a ton of it, with some meat. The smoke is by far the dominating and overpowering flavor, but I do get some pork and there is a bit of sweet malt, too. It's like liquid bacon. Goes down quite easily, and there is no hint of the 8% ABV.

This is unlike any doppelbock I've had. So if you think you'll be getting something like Celebrator or Salvator, you're not. It is firmly a Rauchbier.

Overall, it's pretty tasty, but the smoke really is a lot to handle. Be ready!

Grade: B

Sunday, July 31, 2011

La Trappe Quadrupel

I have a new contender for best beer I've ever had: La Trappe Quadrupel. Pours an exquisite and hazy deep amber. Not much head, but a good amount of lacing. Smells of grapes, oak, and caramel. Then, there's the taste. Sweet malt, a nudge of bitter hops, then a familiar unctuous feel and flavor that reveals the oak aging. Full, creamy, round mouthfeel without being heavy. The 10% ABV warms on the way down, but doesn't overpower any of the magnificent flavors. Unsurprisingly, it becomes more complex and the flavors bolder as it warms.

This isn't hyperbole, it really is one of the finest beers I have ever had.

Grade: A+

Friday, July 29, 2011

Tallgrass Buffalo Sweat

Here's another case of high expectations simply based on the name. With Tallgrass's Buffalo Sweat, I want something big, bold, and kinda nasty.

They've got the color right for sure with a black pour and some deep brown on the edges. Lots of roasted and smokey oatmeal in the nose. Surprisingly creamy with some delightful chocolate and strong coffee flavors. The coffee really lingers. Mouthfeel is a bit light for as dark as this is, but it's really tasty and goes down rather easily.

Overall, I think it's great. Smooth, not too big, bold and well balanced flavors. I'm a fan!

Grade: A

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Great Divide Rumble IPA

Oak? IPA? Great Divide? Yes, please! Lots of promise with Great Divide's Rumble Oak Aged IPA.

The color from the wood aging shows through and the nose is full of hops. A hint of sweet malt followed by very pungent hops and some lingering vanilla and caramel. This is no timid beer. The hops are more prevalent than the oak for sure, but this is great for hop heads looking for a bit of a change. Quite bitter, and a nice 7.1% ABV.

Grade: B

Sunday, July 24, 2011


One of the 6 Belgian Trappist breweries, Orval pours a hazy orange with a magnificent head that'll take some taming. Lots of sweet orange, spice, and lemon zest in the smell.

The taste is very unique. Lots of champagne qualities. Quite sour and a big bitter hop bite at the back end. There's quite a bit of lemon and pepper in here, too. Most of the flavor is coming from the hops and yeast, as I'm not getting much malt here. You won't find many beers with this much carbonation, either.

Exceptionally complex and interesting. I've never had anything quite like Orval.

Grade: A

Monday, July 18, 2011

New Holland Dragon's Milk

There are few, if any, brews like New Holland Dragon's Milk. Inky black, with the smell of vanilla, oak, bourbon, and an alcohol burn. Creamy, bitey, bitter. Of all the barrel aged stouts I have had, this one brings the most powerful bourbon punch. Lots of roasted malt and bitter chocolate. The finish is like dry cedar.

Tons of complex, full flavors, and at 10% ABV, tons of alcohol.

An absolute gem!

Grade: A+

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Anderson Valley Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout

Fantastic blend of a surprisingly light mouthfeel and tons of flavor for Anderson Valley Brewing Company's Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout. The name is heavier than the beer! Great roasted oatmeal and dark chocolate flavor, good color, but unexpectedly light. There's a hint of spicy hops and a long, dry, roasted finish.

Very good example of the style. You won't be overwhelmed with oats, but they're certainly there. Delightful round, balanced flavor.

Grade: B

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Victory Hop Wallop

An IPA called Hop Wallop better bring it. Victory's IPA offers a gorgeous hazy gold color and sticky white head. Lots of citrus in the smell. Tons of fresh citrusy hops complemented by lots of piney hops. And so bitter don't be surprised if you pucker! Not much of a malt flavor here at all, but wow does that dry hop bite linger. Very subtle buttered toast, too. Interesting.

I'm actually surprised how quickly I got through this, especially at 8.5% ABV and with this much punch! It's certainly aptly named. Hop heads, enjoy! If you want a beer to slap you with hops, you've found it.

Grade: B

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Bell's Porter

Bell's is consistently ranked as one of the best breweries in the country, so I am expecting them to do something unique with my favorite style, so here is Bell's Porter.

The start is promising with a rocky tan head, black body, and some ruby edges. Coffee and toffee in the nose. Lots of familiar porter flavors here with coffee, chocolate, dry wood. A lot more toffee than most porters. The dry bite really lingers. Body is maybe a little watery and there seems to be a ton of carbonation.

It's very good, but by no means the best porter I've had. I think I'm just getting too much roasted malt and I'd like some deeper flavors.

Grade: B

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Stone Belgo Anise Imperial Russian Stout

When you get something from Stone, you know it's never going to be common or tame. The Belgo Anise Imperial Russian Stout lives up to that expectation.

Big, bold, black, and very aggressive. You'll need a few pours to fit all this in one glass. The smell is nearly all anise, with some wood. It's quite creamy with a lot of that black licorice flavor, dry wood, roasted malt, spicy hops. Outstanding lacing lures you in to try to find more flavors, the ones more common in a Russian Imperial Stout. If you hunt, you will pick up some of the currants, chocolate, coffee, but the anise is the real star here. I could see where some say it's overpowering, but I love the flavor, so it's working for me. The 10.5% ABV warms through the finish, along with a fun bitter bite.

There are some people who say you shouldn't drink stouts, and especially Russian Imperial Stouts, in summer. I like to call those people "wrong".

Another unique, tasty brew from Stone. But you have to love anise to love this. If you don't, you will hate it.

Grade: A

Friday, July 1, 2011

Duvel Belgian Golden Ale

The Belgians are certainly known for unique beers, a great brewing history, and Duvel is high on that list. Crisp and golden white a very aggressive white head, don't let the appearance fool you into expecting something light and watery. The first thing I notice in the smell is apple and some hops bite. It's full and dry on the tongue, with sour fruit at the back end. Very well balanced between malt and spicy hops, and there is a lot of both. I'm also getting a late alcohol warmth, and at 8.5% ABV, that is expected, but you'd never guess it's that high.

Here is proof that a light colored, fizzy beer can have tons of flavor. This is one to seek out

Grade: A


I know it's been a while since I've written a review. Hopefully I can get to a couple this weekend! But I did want to say that I'm on Google+ now, so feel free to add me to your circle!

mcnealc31 at gmail


Thursday, June 16, 2011

Mikkeller Beer Geek Breakfast

The last time I walked into the beer store, both the guys told me they had a new beer perfect for me. I'm inclined to believe them. They lead me straight to Mikkeller's Beer Geek Breakfast. Since I love coffee and stouts, I was pretty excited about this one, even if it is my first try from this Danish brewery.

Pours big, black, and has a huge dark tan head (be careful when you pour). Coffee dominates the nose, but you'll notice more layers once you take a sip. Oatmeal stout. Huge flavor, just the right amount of bitter, very well balanced between the coffee and oatmeal. There's even a dry, smokey, woody finish.

Weighing in at 7.5% ABV and a 25 oz bottle, this would be a fantastic way to start the day. Outstanding!

Grade: A

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

North Peak Siren Amber Ale

North Peak isn't a brewery that has a ton of beers on the market, just four year rounds, but I like what I'm getting from this Michigan brewery so far.

This is their Siren Amber Ale. Nice, crisp amber color. Not much of a head. Just one smell has you knowing you're going to be in for something different. There is a ton of flavor in this Siren. Lots of malt, caramel, toasted bread, some hops in the finish. Big, round mouthfeel. There's a bit of a dry, bitter finish.

Tons of flavor, well balanced, and a bigger feel than you'd expect. I'm impressed.

Siren wouldn't stand up to some Imperial Stouts or huge IPAs or anything like that, but it's a very good amber ale.

Grade: B

Monday, June 13, 2011

Great Lakes The Doppelrock

I know it's a bit late in the season for a doppelbock, but how can you go wrong with A) a doppelbock and 2) anything from Great Lakes?

Great Lakes The Doppelrock is a very exciting beer for me. One of my favorite styles from one of my favorite breweries. It starts like a doppelbock should, dark brown color and a big creamy head. The nose is basically just dark, sweet malt, but it's huge.

Lots of dark sweet malt in the flavor, along with nuttiness and bittersweet chocolate. Almost no hop presence, but that's fine with this style. A little bit of wood and alcohol warmth. Bit of a sweet and dry finish. And a very late sour hit.

This is one of those that's great to drink or to sip and savor. Overall, an excellent beer. Very good example of the style.

Grade: A

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Bell's Oberon Ale

The run of summer seasonals continues with Bell's Oberon Ale. Pours a very light and hazy yellow with a sizeable head and great lacing.

The first sip is surprising because there is more body and flavor than expected. There's some grass, some malt, and a bit of spicy hops. Even though there is some wheat malt in this, it doesn't taste like most wheat beers. A hint of orange and sour lemon in the finish.

It's not as light and crisp as most summer seasonals, and it doesn't have the right flavor for someone looking for a wheat beer.

Oberon isn't bad, but there's nothing really happening here that will make me want to have it again.

Grade: C

And if you are the curious sort, like me, here's who Oberon is.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Left Hand Good JuJu

My feelings on ginger are mixed. Love it fresh, can't stand Ginger Ale (the pop), love the women. This is my first try at a ginger beer, Left Hand Good Juju.

The color is a hazy light copper with a fluffy just off-white head. One whiff and even if you didn't read the label, you'd know it's a ginger beer. The most powerful flavor is, of course, ginger, but there's some malt and a bit of hops in the finish. It's not particularly complex, but I do think the ginger is well balanced. Just a tinge of that ginger heat, too. You don't need to worry about the alcohol in this one, just 4.5%. I'm thinking of some Chinese dishes this would be the perfect match with.

Another winner from Left Hand. I'd like a little bit more hops just to give it a bit more complexity, still it's very good.

Can't beat that bottle design, either. I don't like all their bottle redesigns, but I love this one.

Grade: B

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Two Brothers Cane and Ebel

It's not just the clever name of Two Brothers Cane and Ebel and intrigued me, but I'm starting to become a fan of Ryes, as well. And you might be thinking, "But Chad, it should be Cain and Abel, right?" Right, but the eponymous brothers of the brewery are Ebel. Like I said, clever.

Very attractive deep copper color with a decent, sticky head and tons of hops in the nose. It's not has heavy as you might think. The main flavor is a spicy rye with some subtle vanilla and a big hop punch at the end leading to a dry, tart finish. There's some orange in there, as well. I'm noticing some sweet, toasted bread, too.

The 7% ABV warms a bit, and this is certainly bold, but I really like the rye in here and the well balanced,complex flavors.

This is a good one and makes me want to try more from Two Brothers.

Grade: A

Monday, May 30, 2011

Magic Hat Wacko Summer Seasonal

As much as I love porters, imperial stouts, and the like, when it's hot and you're at a cookout, no one wants to be drinking those all day. That's when it's time for summer seasonals, like Magic Hat's Wacko.

The first thing that stands out is the color. It's pink. It's really the color of pink champagne. Not much head and it goes away pretty quickly. There's something familiar in the smell, but I can't quite place it yet.

The flavor is...odd. It's like sparkling grape juice, and beets. That's where the pink color comes from. Not really any hops. There's a sweet, dry finish. Some cherry in there, too.

As far as summer seasonal goes, it is light and crisp, but it's weird. I finished it, trying to figure it out the whole time. I wouldn't do this again. Sorry, Magic Hat.

Grade: C

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Left Hand Stranger Pale Ale

Left Hand makes a lot of tasty brews, and this is the first I have tried the Stranger Pale Ale. Light in color, the nose is full of hops and orange. But the flavor isn't has bold as the smell would lead you to believe. There is a bit of hop bitterness and character, but also a lot of grass and rye. A dry, spicy finish.

It's almost like a mild IPA. It's smooth and drinkable, even if the flavors aren't over powering. And at 5% ABV, it's a good session beer.

I don't think the Stranger is bad, but I'm not in love with it. Doesn't have enough to be an IPA, but maybe a bit more than what a standard Pale Ale should have. At least it's aptly named.

Grade: C

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Lagunitas Little Sumpin' Sumpin' Ale

Just looking at the label, I have no idea what to expect from Lagunitas's Little Sumpin' Sumpin' Ale.

Pours kind of a hazy gold with a fluffy white head. Smells like honey, hops, and wheat. My first taste is about the same. It's kind of like a wheat IPA. There's some grapefruit, some grass, a little bit of malt sweetness, and long, dry, biting finish.

You'd never guess it's 7.5% ABV.

I definitely get more IPA than wheat, which is probably why I like it! Overall, it's different, certainly worth a try. Very drinkable, especially for its ABV. I'd do this again, but I wouldn't go crazy looking for it.

Grade: B

Monday, May 16, 2011

Avery Brewing White Rascal

After a brief tease of summer, I thought it might be nice to try something a little lighter with Avery's White Rascal. A Belgian White Ale, it's hazy, cloudy yellow with a thin white head. Smells of orange and coriander. Little bit of black pepper, too.

The taste is light and crisp. Bitter and a bit sour at first, some citrusy sweetness, then a spicy kick at the end.

I think it's a pretty good example of the style, and would be good in the right setting. Plus, at only 5.6% ABV, it's not going to blow you away.

Bonus points for the sweet label!

Grade: B

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Brew Dog Dogma

Brew Dog is a Scottish brewery known for huge, aggressive beers. I'm talking not just beers around 10% ABV, but 30 and 40! This is my first try of theirs, Dogma. It's a spiced beer full of ingredients I've never heard of like guarana and kola nut.

The color is orange and a bit cloudy, like iced tea. The head is huge and fluffy (I may have been a bit overzealous on the pour). Smells floral with honey and hops. Flavor is quite bitter with hops, honey, pepper, and more floral notes in the finish. Maybe the floral is the guarana? Picking up some dried fruit as it warms, I'm assuming that's the kola nut.

I am still trying to figure out what all is going on and if I like it or if I love it. With the 7.8% ABV, and after a 22 oz bomber, you'll know you've had something quite unique.

Grade: B

P.S. Like my awesome Craftsman bottle opener?

Friday, May 6, 2011

Great Divide Yeti

A beer and a brewery I have been wanting to try for a while, Great Divide's Yeti is a multiple award winning Imperial Stout. Black as the abyss with a dark sticky head. The smell is roasty and a lot hoppier than I had anticipated. The taste is huge and complex like an Imperial Stout should be! Bittersweet chocolate, caramel and toffee, then finally a big, musty, dry, woody finish. It doesn't have that currant flavor that a lot of RISs do. Velvety texture and so drinkable you need to be careful that the Yeti's 9.5% ABV doesn't unleash your untamed side. Superior lacing, as well. Every sip is a little different. The hops are more noticeable as it warms.

Complex and curious, this isn't a beer to gulp, it's one to savor and discover. Try it!

Grade: A

Monday, May 2, 2011

Intercourse Brewing Blue Ball Porter

Another beer that is impossible to pass up based on name alone, Intercourse Brewing's Blue Ball Porter. While they'll have you believe the brewing is in Intercourse, PA, it looks like it's actually in Wilkes-Barre. But the fun they have with the name makes that a forgivable act of deception.

Blue Ball Porter starts like you want a porter to. Thick, dark, and a big dark head. More toffee and chocolate in the nose rather than roast, bit of alcohol, too. The first sip sets this porter apart and gives you the reason for the clever name; blueberries. Lots of blueberries at first. It's a little watery for a porter, but a bold finish with lots of roast, even some char.

Just a tad over 5% ABV, so it's not going to destroy you, either.

Not my favorite porter, but I'm kind of liking it. Props for doing something different!

Grade: B

Monday, April 25, 2011

Kronenbourg 1664

There is a single reason I am trying Kronenbourg 1664. Motorhead. Here's the commercial Kronenbourg had Motorhead do with a slowed down, acoustic version of Ace of Spades, one of the greatest metal songs.

The beer itself starts off like you would expect from a French lager. Pale gold color, fluffy white head, just a hint of skunk familiar with green-bottled European lagers that you get here. The taste, however, is a bit surprising. There's still that light sweet grain, but there's some honey and a little bit of spice, too. Just a touch of clove, maybe. The mouth feel is fuller than similar beers. Really good lacing, too. I'm surprised I like this as much as I do. This would work well after mowing the lawn on a hot July day. Worth a try if you want something light, refreshing, and with at least a modicum more character than anything with "light" in the name.

Grade: B

P.S. Here is the full version of the slowed down Ace of Spades. Give me the original every time.

Monday, April 18, 2011

21st Amendment Monk's Blood

How could I resist a beer called Monk's Blood? This offering from 21st Amendment is also canned. More on that later.

Not red like you might imagine, but more of the brown of a Monk's Robe, keeping with the Abbey style. While the nose is nothing but sour, it would be nearly impossible to pick out all the subtleties. Cinnamon, vanilla, wood, caramel sweetness, clove spice, sweet malt. There is some sourness at first and at the very finish, but not as much as the smell would have you expect. A ton going on with this one, and at 8.3% ABV, by the time you figure it all out, you won't be able to figure anything!

The can throws me, though. I took the first couple of drinks in the can and it just didn't feel right! Too much of the metal taste, as well.

Give it a try and hold on!

Grade: A

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Dark Horse Reserve Special Black Ale

I know things have been a little slow around here lately, and they're going to be for a while. Along with work being super busy, I have agreed to do a play that a friend of mine is directing. She was in a pinch because someone bailed on her not even 2 weeks before Opening Night, so I have just been studying this part as much as I can. That said, I need a beer!

So here is Dark Horse Brewing's Reserve Special Black Ale. It is indeed black with a creamy dark tan head. Lots of roast and toffee in the nose. Kind of smells like a Heath Bar. Wrapped in bacon.

Big, bold flavors in the first sip. Dark, bitter chocolate, smoked meat, roasted coffee. Late hop bite, too.

I really dig on this one! 7.5% ABV doesn't hurt, either. As they mention on the site, it's not quite a porter, not quite a stout, but golly is it good!

Grade: A

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Raging Bitch

Flying Dog is having some issues with Raging Bitch. Again. This time in Michigan. Read it from their perspective here. Personally, I don't see the problem at all. I would think someone old enough to drink beer is mature enough to handle the word "bitch." I don't see how it's more offensive than Michigan's own Founders Dirty Bastard (which is delicious). What say you? Vote in the poll ->
and let me know which is more offensive and which is more delicious!

Sorry about having to sign in. I'm still trying a work around for that one.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Out on the Tiles Scotch Ale, my new homebrew!

I'm a bit of a Zeppelin nut, and have decided all my beers from now own will have Zeppelin songs as the names. Previously, it was the Night Flight Vanilla Porter. Somewhere down the road, Misty Mountain Hops IPA. Today, Out on the Tiles Scotch Ale. So here's a little look at today's process

First: The ingredients. 9 pounds of light malt extract. The specialty grains are 12 oz of 90L Crystal Malt, 2 oz of roasted barley, and 2 oz of smoked cherry malt. I had originally wanted peated malt, but that wasn't available. As far as the hops, 1 oz of Fuggles and 1 oz of East Kent Goldings. Scotch Ales typically don't have much in the way of hop presence since hops don't grow well in Scotland and they didn't want to pay the English for theirs!

Now, steeping all the specialty grains at or close to 150° for 30 minutes. You really need to watch the temps here, because if you get too close to 170° you will get some nasty flavors!

These grains are steeped! (That is meant to be read as a Cabin Boy reference)

Yuri the Yeast here making sure everything is copacetic.

Hard to get a good shot of the aggressive boil here. But I added all the Fuggles and half the Goldings at the beginning of the boil. The rest of the Goldings went in with 5 minutes left.

And here it is! Just need the temp to come down to pitch the yeast. Bottle in two weeks, then I think I'll give it a month before I try it. Very excited about this one!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Paulaner Salvator Doppelbock

From another monastery, and one of the supreme styles of the example, here is Paulaner Salvator Doppelbock. Another substitute for food during lent, and translates to "Savior". It can certainly save me!

Pours a fuzzy copper. More orange than brown with not much head at all. Smells of butterscotch and sweet bread. The taste is big, smooth, and creamy. Lots of butterscotch, but a bit of a sour bite in the finish. Some late alcohol and sweetness, too.

It's quite good. I'd put it in the top tier of doppelbocks, but I wouldn't say it's my favorite.

By the way, the website listed on the label doesn't exist. That has me a little worried.

Grade: B

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Rogue John John Dead Guy

My affinity for bourbon barrel aged beers continues with Rouge's John John Dead Guy Ale. This is their standard, and quite good, Dead Guy Ale aged in their own whiskey barrels.

Pours a deep, cloudy honey with a wisp of white head atop. Very floral nose with honey and vanilla in the back. Of all the bourbon barrel aged beers I've had, this is easily one of the most bourbony. A bit of a bitter alcohol punch in front followed by vanilla, smooth butteryness, and wood in the finish. It has quite a bit more of a hop kick than most beers with this much bourbon, and it works as a nice counterpoint. The finish isn't long and smooth like other barrel aged, it's short, bitter, and dry.

Overall, very complex and delicious!

Grade: A

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

North Peak Vicious Wheat IPA

A brewery new to distributing in Ohio, this is Traverse City, Michigan's North Peak Brewing. Pretty interesting article here on their venture to Ohio. By the way, don't let the searches fool you, the website you want is But this is a brew pub that is now distributing rather than a more traditional brewery.

Their Vicious is an American Wheat IPA. The cloudy pour lets you know it's unfiltered, as well. Lots of citrus in the nose with a bit of banana. There's an interesting sensation I'm trying to figure out how to describe. It's got the aftertaste of a huge IPA, but that giant hop bite wasn't in the initial taste. But lots of hops in the very bitter finish. Quite a bit of orange and banana up front. Very smooth, crisp, and light. Leans more toward an IPA than a wheat.

It's very interesting and definitely worth giving a try. I'm curious to see what else this newly available brewery has to offer.

Grade: B

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Sam Adams American Originals Sampler

I picked up the Sam Adams American Originals 12 pack sampler. Included are Revolutionary Rye, Noble Pils, Scotch Ale, Irish Red, White Ale, and the ubiquitous Boston Lager. I'm not going to review every one, but to give a general feeling on this, I probably wouldn't buy a 6-er of any one of those, however I would by this 12 pack again. A nice way to spend a weekend.

Overall, and nice, solid B.

Beginning Homebrew DVD

Along with drinking craft beers, I also do a little bit of a home brewing. I'm rather pleased with my current Night Flight Vanilla Porter. Next will be Out on the Tiles Scotch Ale. (You may notice a theme in the titles...)

Homebrewing is a lot of fun and it's really rewarding. It's not as intimidating as you might think, either. It's a little complex, you need to do your research, there is some cost, but the very basics of homebrewing are quite simple.

I was sent a DVD called Beginning Homebrewing to review. If you have never brewed before, or maybe have only done 1 or 2 batches, I think this DVD would really help. It goes through every step of the process and it is well explained. It does a great job of showing just how easy homebrewing can be! If you're on the fence about if you want to get involved in homebrewing, check this out, and I bet you will be converted.

The word "beginning" in the title is key, though. If you have brewed at least 5 times, you probably wouldn't get much out of this. However, it's not called Intermediate Homebrewing.

There may have been a few places where I thought some explanations could have been more in depth, but it really does give good information and you will be surprised how easy homebrewing really is!

Want your own copy? I have one to give away! Email me or leave a comment with your email address in the comments section by March 31.


Sunday, March 6, 2011

Avery Brewing Ellie's Brown Ale

I know I've been giving a ton of high ratings recently, but I guess I've been making some good choices! It's going to continue now, because I am hooked from the first taste of Avery Brewing Ellie's Brown Ale. A gorgeous light mahogany color with a sticky light tan head. Very nutty and roasted, but not much smoke or charring. The finish is dry, woody, and earthy. Lots of bittersweet chocolate and maybe even some brown sugar in there. An average 5.5% ABV, but that's fine, because this is one you'll want to drink all night.

Grade: A