Monday, February 28, 2011

Brewing Some Fun

I've got some very exciting news. I've been asked to join Brewing Some Fun. It's a beer blogging collaboration and I'm very excited about it! Be sure to follow us on Twitter, be a fan on Facebook, even add us to your RSS Feed.

I'm honored and excited to be a part of this!

Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale

Part of the fun with Stone is reading the bottles. It's true. The Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale is just that. The messages are always arrogant, sanctimonious, with a bit of a "we love this beer, and if you don't, go screw yourself, but we don't care." I usually don't go for holier-than-thou attitudes, but they always pull it off. Quite deliciously so, too.

As far as the Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale goes, I'd put this in the Black IPA category, even though they don't call it one. Pours dark as a stout with a slightly off-white creamy, rocky head. Several different hops in the nose. Lots of hops in the flavor with the charred and roasted flavors finally in the finish. Lemon and grapefruit start, then the roast, followed with a familiar hop pummeling. It's definitely more hoppy than Heavy Seas Black Cannon, but that one has more of the "black" than the "IPA".

Plus, with the 8.7% ABV, you'll likely notice it after a 22 oz bomber.

If you're curious about Black IPAs, a great place to start. If you're not a hop head, something like the Black Cannon is probably more your choice. Can't go wrong with either, though!

Grade: A

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Brew Kettle 4 C's Pale Ale

The Brew Kettle is in not that far away from me Strongsville, Ohio. Certainly overshadowed by Great Lakes here, they do make some fantastic beers. Tunguska is a personal favorite. Along with their house brews, the tap list is phenomenal and the food is amazing. I highly recommend the chili! On top of all that, they also have brew on premise for both beer and wine. It's like homebrewing, but they guide you through everything. Really cool stuff.

However, this is about the beer, and one of their signatures, the 4 C's Pale Ale.

The pine of the chinook hops are present the second you open the bottle. Columbus, cascade, and centennial round out the rest of the C hops. Clever, but is it good? Indeed! Very well balanced IPA. Neither huge in IBUs or ABV, but it has a lot of character. Starts with malt and some fruit. Hops are mainly in the end and finish. Some lemon in there, too, but it's not really sour.

Overall, it's another one of those "tamer" IPAs. If you want more in an IPA than hop numbness, give this one a shot!

If you get the chance to get to The Brew Kettle, you really should. They make great beer, they serve great beer that others make, the food is awesome, the atmosphere is great.

Grade: A

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Great Lakes Commodore Perry IPA

While retrotagging all my previous reviews (so now when you click on Great Lakes in the tags below, it'll bring up all the beers I have reviewed from Great Lakes), I noticed my IPA reviews were quite thin. Here's an attempt to rectify that with Great Lakes Commodore Perry IPA. Hazy orange with hops and fruit in the nose. The first thing I notice in the taste is some malt but the hops certainly make their entrance known with a fruity finish. The aftertaste is lingering bitterness and peach. Pretty dry, too. Hops are pretty big, but not so much as to make it undrinkable. I've had more aggressive and less aggressive IPAs. I like that there is some complexity other than a hop bludgeoning and nothing else. True IPA freaks may not like this as much as I do, but I think it's quite nice. Not a huge ABV at 6%, but it'll get you where you want to be for sure!

And who is Commodore Perry, you ask? A War of 1812 naval hero who utter the famous phrase "Don't give up the ship!" Or as Great Lakes has tweaked it, "Don't give up the sip!"

Grade: B

Monday, February 21, 2011

Original Sin Hard Cider

I don't go for hard ciders often, but I do get a taste for them every now and then. The very cleverly named Original Sin Hard Cider is extremely light in color. It's closer to a white wine than it is a beer. Smells a bit like a white wine, too, but it is full of apple. After drinking it, this really does feel to me more like an apple wine than most hard ciders. The champagne yeast probably has a lot to do with that. While most ciders are cloyingly sweet or puckeringly (like that?) tart, this isn't. It's crisp and refreshing with a good apple taste. There is enough sour tartness in the finish that you won't be disappointed. This is probably the easiest drinking hard cider I have had. Try this for something different. It's quite good. Nice 6% ABV, too.

Grade: A

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Flying Dog Gonzo Imperial Porter

Brewed in honor of Hunter S. Thompson, and featuring artwork by Ralph Steadman (as do all Flying Dog brews), Gonzo Imperial Porter is, in a word, unique.

Starts off deep brown with a nice tan head. Huge roasted malt smell in the nose. The taste is where things get a little off the beaten path. It's creamy and a bit more bitter than most porters. Some vanilla sweetness up front. Chocolate and coffee in the finish along with some wood. A hoppy bitterness lingers, too. Flying Dog doesn't mention if this is barrel aged, but it wouldn't surprise me.

Overall, it's more aggressive than most porters, and it certainly works.

The story of Flying Dog and the influence of Thompson and Steadman is really interesting. You should take the time to read through the history on their site.

Grade: A

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Great Lakes Conway's Irish Ale

If I had to pick out one brewery that really got me into craft beers, and one that I compare all other breweries to, it's Great Lakes. Maybe it's because it's the only craft brewery readily available around here. Maybe it's because their sampler introduced me to both porters and IPAs. I will always have a soft spot in my heart and Great Lakes. Conway's Irish Ale is another winner! Crisp dark orange color with a tight white head. There's nothing overpowering in this, and that's why I like it. It just tastes good! If you really want to search for flavors, you'll get some bread, a little bit of roast, maybe a hint of apple (but not sour) at the end with a dry finish. It's one of those I don't really want to get too technical on in the review other than to say "Try it. You'll like it." Give me a 6 (or 12) of this on March 17th. I'll leave the green stuff alone!

Grade: A

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

North Coast Brewing Brother Thelonious

Named after jazz master Thelonious Monk, this is North Coast Brewing's take on a Belgian Abbey ale, Brother Thelonious. Nice light mahogany color, but not much in the nose other than malt. Full in the mouth with a hint of sweet malt and spice with a sour finish. The more I drink it, all I am getting is sour fruit.

Two things on the plus side, it's 9.3% ABV, and when you buy it, there's a donation to the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz.

It's pretty good, but a bit too sour for me. Not nearly as impressive as North Coast's Old Rasputin. I'd be willing to try it again because after reading other reviews it does seem like it's supposed to be sour, so perhaps it's a bad bottle. But at what it cost, I'd rather have two of something completely new.

Grade: C

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Ayinger Celebrator Doppelbock

Considered not only the epitome of a doppelbock, but one of the best beers in the world, it's Ayinger's Celebrator. I'm drawn in even before opening the bottle with the ornate label featuring a glass overflowing with beer surrounded by two goats. And of course the plastic goat hanging from the neck (hey, a toy!).

Celebrator pours an inviting mahogany with a thin tan head. There's a malty must in the smell with some spice in the background. Very similar flavors in the taste. It's full of malt but is subtly sweet, bread, and just a kick of spice at the back. Aftertaste of some chocolate and hazelnut. It's smooth, creamy, and amazingly drinkable.

Just be careful, that 6.7% ABV could catch up quickly!

Grade: A+

Monday, February 14, 2011

Heavy Seas Black Cannon

A couple of firsts for me with Heavy Seas Black Cannon. My first from them, and my first Black IPA. But even from the first sip, I know this won't be the last! Smells like fruit and pine, like you would expect from an IPA, and it's definitely black. I'm noticing some familiar stout characteristics with a dry, smokey mouth feel. Some chocolate and nutiness. It is a bit lighter than most stouts, and while there are some hops in the finish, it isn't a huge, in your face IPA. Really well balanced, and there isn't even a hint of the 7.3% ABV.

This might disappoint hop heads expecting a super bitter IPA, but I think it's a great blend of two dispirate (yes, that's on purpose) styles.

Plus, I'm diggin on the pirate theme.

I haven't heard of many Black IPAs, but I could really see this catching on. Perhaps a future homebrew project of mine!

It's very good, but I don't know if I can quite go to great.

Grade: B

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine

While my experience with Barleywines is rather limited, I think they're great so far. One of the strongest styles of beer, and a style that ages over years, just like wine.

A metallic red hue and the aroma of hops and melon come from Sierra Nevada's Bigfoot Barleywine. Fruity, sweet malt, with some aggressive hops at the end. The flavor is full and layered. Quite well balanced, with a finish similar to big IPAs. A bit on the low end as far as ABV goes for a Barleywine. However, that still puts it at 9.6%!

There's a fun scene on the label, too. (By the way, I have a camera on the way, so these pics will get better soon).

A multiple award winner, and it really is good, but I need to have more barelywines before I can declare it a king.

Grade: A

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron

If you watched any of Brew Masters, you know some of the extremes Dogfish Head goes to in brewing. The Palo Santo Marron is a perfect example. Read the story in the link detailing how they use a unique Paraguayan wood in the brew. Pours a deep dark brown with a huge rocky tan head. The taste is unlike anything I have had before. Starts with sweet vanilla and caramel followed by wood. Finish is long and dry with a bit of cherry and alcohol warmth. Superior lacing. Dogfish Head continues to prove they are one of the most inventive and experimental breweries out there. You won't find anything like this!

Grade: A

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Hoppin' Frog D.O.R.I.S.

A Double Oatmeal Russian Imperial Stout sounds quite inviting, doesn't it? It's Akron's Hoppin' Frog D.O.R.I.S. The Destroyer! Even though Akron isn't that far away, this is the first I can even remember seeing anything from Hoppin' Frog.

The first thing that stands out is the color. Black as tar and exceptionally thick with the darkest brown head I have ever seen. Smells of wood and alcohol. The taste? Well, it's so complex it's going to take a while to get through this! Starts with hops and bittersweet chocolate, a wallop of hop bitterness, hint of sweet, then a burnt finish. It's past roasted into burnt, and normally that wouldn't work, but it really does. A bit of alcohol late in the finish. A lot of RISs I have had feature some sweet currant flavors rather prominently, but this doesn't. The most surprising taste really is the burnt finish, but I'm digging it.

Rather expensive at more than $10 for a 22 oz, but it's great!

Can't forget the 10.5% ABV, either.

Grade: A+

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Anchor Steam Beer

There are many who credit Anchor Steam Beer as being one of the most influential beers in the American craft beer renaissance. That comes with a certain amount of respect. But when tasting this and comparing it to all the mass produced pilsners, you can understand why this is so different. First, the color is a cloudy copper with a creamy white head. And there's actually some flavor to it! Maltiness with some bread notes and a hint of sour in the finish. Perhaps not a world-class beer, but it is certainly an American classic and gets bonus points for the history and revolution it helped to spawn. After having something like Budweiser or High Life, then drinking Anchor Steam, there is no surprise that people were begging for "More! More of that!" (not-at-all-veiled-Top-Gear-reference).

When you take everything into account, there's no way this isn't an A.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Thirsty Dog Siberian Night

If the intense, glowing green eyes on the bottle don't entice you, the promise of an Imperial Stout should. And since I'm partial to Ohio breweries, I grab Thirsty Dog's Siberian Night whenever I can. Pours just like you would expect. Black as the abyss with a dark tan head. The complex flavor consists of roasted rye bread, dark fruits, with a bitter finish. It's very good, but perhaps not as full and beat-you-over-the-head aggressive as other RISs. Probably the easiest drinking RIS I have had. The bitterness takes quite a while to saunter off, as well.

I think it's great, even if it doesn't have the power of other RISs.

Grade: A

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Fuller's London Porter

As previously noted, I love porters. Fuller's London Porter is one that has been around for a while and won numerous awards. A dark brown color with a thin khaki head. Bittersweet chocolate hits the nose with a bit of roast. Starts off with sweet malt, very full mouthfeel and finishes full of bittersweet chocolate. This has more chocolate and less coffee than most porters, but I don't see anything wrong with that! An outstanding beer that I will be looking out for.

Grade: A