Sunday, January 24, 2010
Added Furthemore to the Breweries list. Knot Stock was impressive and I'd totally forgotten that they make Fatty Boombalatty, which is one of my favorite beers. Gonna get on to trying the rest starting next time I go to the liquor store.
One unfortunate side effect of being cash-poor but house-rich is that I haven't been able to try different craft beers as often as I'd like: expensive hobby. But I did pretty good budget-wise this month, so yesterday I called up Markie and Matt and we went to the Festival of Hops at the Muddy Pig. Lots of hoppy beers at $8 for 3 5 oz tasters.
I had three flights and sampled the more interesting stuff that Markie and Matt ordered. Here's what stood out:
Flying Dog Snake Dog — I didn't like their Doggie Style APA, but I can usually count on Flying Dog, and this IPA was really good. Where some other IPA's are content to hit you over the head with hops, this beer had all sorts of fun stuff going on.
Furthermore Knot Stock, a peppery American Pale that I'd love to try alongside some venison or my brother's famous prime rib. Probably not sessionable but much better than the overwhelmingly peppery Rosee D'hibiscus that I had in Canada.
La Trappe Isid'or. Nice of the Pig to have a Belgian Pale in the mix. I'm a sucker for this sort of thing, but luckily not everyone is. I traded my Rogue Yellow Snow (decent but not exciting) for Matt's taster of this.
21st Amendment Back in Black. Markie had this, according to Beer Advocate it's an IPA (and I'm sure they're right) but yesterday afternoon it tasted like an unusually smoky black lager.
Boulder Mojo. I had a taster of Bell's Hopslam to start, and I'm not sure any beer I had topped that, but this was a nice IPA in the same general taste area. If it's cheaper than Hopslam (and how could it not be) I'll probably give it another go.
New Holland Existential. I don't think I could finish a bottle of this Imperial-ish IPA, but this is one of those beers (like Rauchbier) that everyone should try just because it's so weird. It took us a bit to figure this out, but the overwhelming impression we had was of butterscotch and I didn't even know a beer could do that.
(Note to self, avoid these beers: Rogue Mogul and Founders Cerise. I think I've ordered both of these beers before too, and both times I could barely finish them. Bah.)
Sunday, February 8, 2009
I went to Winterfest with Jess this weekend. It was fun, but not quite as good as last year: there were less people I knew and the venue was more cramped. The glasses were way cooler though. Little mini-goblets.
The beers... I think the beers were better this year, though part of that may just be my palate changing. I actually didn't like Fitger's last time I had their stuff, but this year they were one of my favorite brewers. I tried about 30 beers; here are the ones that stood out:
Schell's U Bier, an uncarbonated, unfiltered pilsner. Reminded me of sitting around drinking kölsch in Germany.
Cold Spring's Moonlight Ale, a 50/50 blend of porter and bock that really worked.
Cold Spring's Honey Almond Weiss, an unfiltered honey wheat beer with almonds. Not mind-blowing or anything, but it had a cleanliness I liked.
Fitger's El Diablo, my favorite of the three Belgian golden ales they had. We recommended this to an older couple that liked lighter beers, and they thanked Jess later for the tip.
Fitger's Procrastinator Doppelbock, which was... delicious. Love the style, loved the execution.
Fitger's Framboise, the sour result of a 5-year wild lambic project.
Great Waters' King Boreas Imperial Witbeer, a 8.25% ABV witbier.
Lift Bridge's Imperial Stout, for which my only note here is "good." I'm a Darkness guy, but I liked this better than all the non-Surly stouts on offer.
Lift Bridge's Belgian Biscotti, which I foisted upon Jess immediately. I told her I'd double her vote if she picked something delicious, so this is what we both voted for.
Rock Bottom's Tripel Framboise, which was fruity and drinkable. Good, but not sour like you might expect from the name.
Surly's Three was good, 50% honey, 50% German Dark Munich malt. That was a nice surprise, since I didn't like Two when I tried it last year. I had this late in the night though, so ideally I'd like to taste it again on draft, unrationed.
Surly's Darkness is still good, still exactly what I'm looking for in an Imperial Stout. This was my original vote before I changed to match Jess.
A fridge full of New Belgium
Friday, February 6, 2009
Bought three 6-packs of New Belgium this weekend, and over the course of the week (particularly on Wednesday, when Markie and Matt came over to assist me with my Winterfest training) I've tried all of them.
I'm not a big fan of the Abbey, their dubbel. I'm generally lukewarm towards that style in general though.
Tripels are always at least "good," but their Trippel was great, very fruity. Deceptively drinkable as well.
The Sunshine Wheat beer is pretty close to a Witbier. I don't know why Beer Advocate has it as an American Pale Wheat Ale, but I tried to have this alongside pepperoni pizza and it may have been the worst beer-and-food pair I've ever made.
(Well no, the worst was when I had that Flying Dog Gonzo Imperial Porter, usually one of my favorite beers, with my brother's famous crusted prime rib.)
By itself or with cheese, however, the Sunshine Wheat is delicious. And the bottles! The label design on New Belgium beers really classes up our fridge.
My mom was in town last weekend, for a house-hunting trip that got canceled at the last minute. But since she was around I tried to show her some of the cool places.
We had lunch at The Blue Door Pub, which at around noon on a Saturday wasn't nearly as busy as it was the first night I'd gone there. I had The Blucy (blue cheese and garlic) and she had a Frenchy, which was like a Juicy Lucy version of a French Dip.
I was pleasantly surprised to see that they still had Lift Bridge Biscotti, a really neat (and delicious) Belgian Dark Ale that I'm looking forward to trying again at Winterfest on the 6th. I'd made a special trip to the Pig with Barry a few Thursdays ago to see if they had it, only to have our server say he hadn't even heard of it.
After driving around looking at the exteriors of some of the candidate houses, I took my mom to the Gnome. She's much more of a wine person than a beer person, but she ended up liking the Wittekerke and stuck with it. I had a Rogue Menage a Frog tripel (which of course was good), then my first Hopslam of the season, and I finished up with Kwak so that my mom could try that against the Wittekerke.
(The Kwak didn't come in the fancy glassware, which is always fun to look at, but that's probably the last of those I'll get anyways. I can get beers that I like more for less than the cost of a Kwak.)
Darkness and the last Porterfest
Wednesday, December 31, 2008
I had some Surly Darkness last night. So delicious. I couldn't mention it before because I was giving Ben a bottle for Christmas, but I was one of the extremely lucky final 10 people who got let in to buy on Darkness Day after the official limit of 700 had been reached.
I've got one bottle left now, and I'm thinking about either trading it on Beer Advocate (if I can figure out something I want) or just selling it. Or maybe I'll go ahead and drink it at some point... the opportunity cost is something like $20/pint, but assuming I don't lose my job, I'm expecting to have a lot to celebrate in 2009.
A few of us are heading over to Flat Earth today for the last day of Porterfest. Very exciting. I'm not the biggest porter fan, but I went to try the orange, raspberry, peppers, and peppermint offerings. Ideally I'd like to appreciate every beer on its own terms, and I think I've made some progress this month in enjoying porters.
(I've also been trying to figure out which of the standard Flat Earth beers I enjoy... they brew sort of perpendicular to my tastes, too dry generally, and while I love Curly Tail and Bermuda Triangle, I can never remember the one beer I like that they brew year-round. Maybe Angry Planet?)
I wrote before about the Xanadu's crazy nose, but the peppermint Snow Dog Porter may be my favorite Porterfest beer so far. I met up with Jess, Rae and Markie there last week and the Flat Earth guys were making Snow Dog milkshakes. Good stuff.
Oak-aged Summit Great Northern was one of my favorite beers at Winterfest last year, so I have some high hopes for today's Big Money Porter.
Barry's B-day at the Pig
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Went to the Muddy Pig yesterday with Jess, Nick's brother Matt, Nick, Cari, Markie, and Barry's friend Eric for Barry's actual b-day.
It was a fun time, although I have to say that there wasn't much in the way of conversational overlap when it was just Nick, Jess, and Our Bold Hero there: either Nick needs to become a bigger hippie or Jess needs to get into videogames.
I started off with a Pilgrim's Dole from New Holland Brewing, which until just now I thought was a barleywine. Apparently it's a "wheatwine." Here's the style description from Beer Advocate:
A somewhat recent and over-looked American strong ale, the Wheatwine (or Wheat Wine) is akin to a Barleywine in strength, but contains a large portion of wheat malt; upwards of 50%. The wheat provides a soft and fluffy mouthfeel. Color and bitterness varies.
That's about right. I really liked it; the beer was sweet but not cloying, and as you'd expect from the name and the recipe, it had a nice wheaty character to it. I like barleywine and apparently I like wheatwine as well.
My next beer was the Brown Shugga from Beer School–favorite Lagunitas Brewing. This is an American Strong Ale (9.9% ABV — I remember being amused by the almost-10 percentage) and despite the name it wasn't too sweet for me. Again, I liked it.
For whatever reason I had a Summit Great Northern Porter before we left the bar: I've really got to stop wasting money on that third beer.
I think that I can have smoky beers now if they're paired with the right food, and the casked version of this was a favorite of mine at last year's Winterfest, but this isn't something I particularly enjoy on its own.
Barry and I stopped at the liquor store on the way to his place (I had no idea that they closed at 8 Monday through Thursday in St. Paul: we made it with seconds to spare) and he bought some Stella for everyone to drink while we watched Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid at his place. Ah Stella.
Happy Hour at the Blue Door Pub
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Met Jess and Cari at the Blue Door Pub after work yesterday: I didn't have the money for such an adventure, but I've been wanting to check that place out for a while and this seemed like it would probably be my only shot.
The Blue Door Pub is fairly small, and I wouldn't recommend going there when it's busy. When I arrived at 5:20 there was a 20-minute wait for tables.
Since I wasn't sure if I'd be back, I got the weird stuff: Spam Bites (deep-fried balls of cream cheese, pickle, and Spam) and a Jiffy Lucy (a Juicy Lucy with peanut butter, mayo, pickles, pepper jack, and bacon). The Spam Bites were actually pretty boring, but the Jiffy was tasty and interesting. Like something from the State Fair.
The Jiffy destroyed my palate, so the beer info is pretty meaningless. I started off with a Brrr from Widmer Brewing, another freakin' Winter Warmer. There was zero nose that I could tell (I finally found instructions for testing your sense of smell objectively, so this will be my last hypochondriac post), but the beer itself was decent.
My second and final beer was a Surly Cynic — out of season, but I needed something light after that ridiculous food — and that was good, although I didn't notice the strong pepper flavor that's usually there.
The girls offered to let me owe one of them for the tab, so at around 7 or so I ducked out and made my way to a former coworker's holiday party, where I had, in retrospect, far too many screwdrivers. A little hungover today.
In which sweetness is a weakness
Monday, November 24, 2008
Still paranoid about my sense of taste/smell; I'm trying out some drugs for it this week, and while I think I'm doing better, I haven't noticed any difference that can be measured objectively. This could easily be entirely in my head.
I was over at Barry's on Saturday, so the night's beers were wasted on me, except for the Gonzo Imperial Porter I started with. It was delicious as always, and surprisingly affordable for an Imperial.
While relaxing on Sunday night I poured myself a glass of the 2007 Christmas Ale from Anchor Brewing. It's a Winter Warmer. I agree with the Beer Advocate reviews, but this was brown sugar central, not at all what I was hoping for. Without enough fruit or spice, I really don't know what to do with a beer that sweet.
Flat Earth Porterfest: Xanadu
Friday, November 14, 2008
Yesterday after work Barry and I drove over to the Flat Earth Brewery for growlers. It's Porterfest for the next two months, and this Thursday's special was the Xanadu Porter, Cygnus X-1 infused with orange.
The bouquet on this beer is amazing: I wasn't expecting so much orange and it totally knocked my socks off. I haven't had more than a tasting glass yet, but my initial impression was that the front is very good, the middle is a little weird, and there's a bit of that roasty/smoky porter back that I don't particularly like.
Announced Porterfest beers so far:
11/20 - Red Barchetta - Cherry infused Porter 11/26 - The Trees - Hazelnut infused Porter 12/23 - Snow Dog Porter - Peppermint infused Porter
Barry and I talked about going back every Thursday to try these. It may be a thing.
We tried a few other beers. The Belgian-Style Pale Ale is still too bready for me (I want to say that it was too "brett" but I'm still not 100% sure what that means) and the Rode Haring, their Flanders Red Ale, was delicious but a little too dry at the end for my taste. That may be the style; I've never had a Flanders Red Ale before and they sound complicated.
They poured some Black Helicopter and while I'm not sure I could drink too much of it, I was shocked by how much I liked it: I've tried this once before and absolutely hated it, and Oatmeal Stout has been on my list of no-go styles for a while now. Nor do I really like coffee-flavored beers.
I think the difference this time was #1. It's winter and I'm in the mood for darker, roastier beers (this one actually has caffeine: hilarious!), #2. It had the mouthfeel I was missing from the other beers and, #3. I've been into beer pairings recently and couldn't stop thinking how good this would be with a nice chocolate dessert.
(Incidentally I have no idea what to pair with an orange-infused porter. Some sort of smoky cheese? Pheasant?)
Barry wanted to get the Curly Tail, but they sold their last growler while we were standing there. I'd been warned to get our growlers first and not dawdle, and now there'll be no Curly Tail until April. We both got a growler of Xanadu.
I'm looking forward to next week: they have a Winter Warlock Barleywine that I don't think I've ever tried, and 'tis the season. Plus now that we've bought our first growlers we can get in on the savings.