Festival of Hops
Sunday, January 24, 2010
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.)
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.
O'Gara's and one last Hookah
Sunday, August 3, 2008
Met up with Ben and his former roommate Matt for drinks yesterday at O'Gara's, a run-of-the-mill Irish bar near Ben's apartment.
Ambitious Brew has a very sympathetic take on American-style lager — which is refreshing after hearing so many beer snobs bash the various macrobrews — so I was in the mood for Premium.
Back at Ben's the three of us split a bottle of Ommegang Hennepin, a delicious Saison. After finishing my glass all-too-quickly, I opened up my last bottle of malty Kerberos. It's a fantastic beer to nurse in the wee hours, and the fruity hookah smoke added some interesting character.
This beer, maybe the entire Tripel style, is definitely something you want to end the night with: I felt like an old man savoring a glass of scotch.
Wednesday: good beers once more
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Tonight for Wednesday happy hour Ben and I went to the Muddy Pig. I started with a Surly Cynic (a nice panic beer if ever there was one) and then, on Ben's recommendation, tried a pint of Tilburg's Dutch Brown Ale.
It was very good, especially for a style that doesn't usually stand out for me, but I'm still surprised to discover that this beer is brewed for export by Koningshoeven, a.k.a. La Trappe, one of the seven Trappist breweries.
For Project Runway we each had a bottle of the Flying Dog Kerberos Tripel. There wasn't much to it that I could tell, but then again there's something going around so my taste buds might be pretty lousy this week. At the very least this was better than when I had it before, poorly paired with a bacon-and-spaghetti dish.
I just remember malty deliciousness. And at 8.5%, Jenna's claim to have gotten drunk off a single sip of it seemed, if not at all plausible, then at least more defensible.
Summer beers, a missed chance, and a new bar
Saturday, July 12, 2008
Because they were on sale at Big Top, I picked up another six pack of Big SkyTrout Slayer, an American Pale Wheat Ale that was just as good as I remembered, and a six pack of their seasonal Summer Honey APA.
I've only had one Summer Honey so far, but I think I like that one too; I wish I had a Leinie's Honey Weiss around to compare it with.
I tried to get to Town Hall this week to try their Chocolate Milk Porter, but when Graham and I went there yesterday night it was already gone. I tried their Pursuit of Happiness instead and it was decent, which is saying something for a beer that tastes like blueberries — but as with that Longshot Grape Ale, the blueberry flavor was pretty darn subtle, and I feel like if you're adding weird fruit it should do a bit more.
I also had the Liberty, a red American Pale Wheat Ale that was pretty tasty. After that Pursuit of Happiness, it was nice to have something really flavorful.
I think that the 1800 Old English IPA, Eye of the Storm, and pumpkin ale are still my favorite Town Hall beers (is there a dark beer I'm forgetting?), but our server said that the chocolate might return, so I'm keeping an eye out.
Afterwards we went to Pracna, where I had a tiny little glass of Paulaner Hefe-Weizen. Purists take note: they served it with a slice of lemon. I don't care about the lemon, but I wouldn't go there to drink as often as I do if it weren't so conveniently located.
I couldn't pull anything out of the Two Brothers, though I had the nagging sense that it was good on a less perceptible level. ("Like hearing a party two apartments over," is how I put it at the time.) Nora seemed to like it, and I'm guessing her sense of taste is better than mine, but as far as Biere de Garde go, I definitely prefer the Flying Dog Garde Dog.
'tisn't the season
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
Wonder of wonders, I'm almost out of beer.
I ran out of the cheaper and lighter stuff (Mothership Wit, Unfiltered Wheat) last week, which put me in the awkward position of having to steal one of my brother's macros the other day to have with my lousy chili. I've grown accustomed to having a beer with dinner most nights, and I make no apologies for that.
Of what's left, the Chocolate Stout and Imperial Porters are strictly late night dessert beers, I won't touch the Barleywine until Fall at the earliest, and I'm not breaking open the Dunzelweizens until Ben's around to try them. Today, I go to the liquor store.
Not that I haven't been drinking out of season anyways. Last night I had my Plank Bavarian Dunkler Weizenbock; I can see drinking it at Octoberfest or somesuch, but prettymuch all I tasted was the alcohol. The whole point of buying that was to see where I stood on the Weizenbock style (after the Longshot) and it looks like I'm anti- rather than pro-.
At a family get-together on Sunday I had a Samuel Adam's Cream Stout (I like dark beer, but sometimes I wonder if my family thinks that's all I like to drink) and a Bacardi Mango Mojiti. I'd had the Cream Stout before — it's good if not pool-party-appropriate — but the Bacardi was pretty terrible. Sooo sugary, and if I can make real mojitos why would I drink something so vile?
(Jenna's mojito recipe so I don't forget: a shot Bacardi Limon, a heaping tablespoon brown sugar, three or four mint leaves (ripped), ice, and 7-up to fill. It always requires some tinkering.)
On the Fourth I had yet another unseasonable choice, the Flying Dog Imperial Porter. Not crazy-complicated, but very tasty.
Yesterday we had Ben over for a cookout: dinner consisted of very good (if a little overseasoned) steak and porkchops. It was very nice out, so we sat on the deck and had some beers while Matt tended to the meat.
While my beer glasses went through the dishwasher I had a Flying Dog Garde Dog, good as usual. Then: colaweizen.
For the colaweizen, or colaweizens if you're a crazy American, we combined the drinks in a 3/4 beer to 1/4 cola ratio, i.e. one 12 oz. bottle (poured with almost no head) and 1/2 of an 8 oz. pop can (poured aggressively) in each pilsner glass. The beer will darken noticeably as you pour in the coke. Scientists have determined that this is cool to watch.
I tried two American wheat beers, the Sierra Nevada Unfiltered Wheat and the Flying Dog In-Heat Wheat. Both were good (the Flying Dog mix had some leftover Sierra Nevada in it, so I'll forgive for being the worst of the two), but neither could stand up to Ben's colaweizen, which used Paulaner Hefe-Weizen and had a noticeable banana taste. Once I run out of Sierra Nevada, I guess I'll have to get a good German hefe.
It also occurs to me, just now, that I had enough bananas to juice and make bananaweizen (same ratio as a colaweizen). There's a drink I'm curious to revisit...
I was tempted to have a Colaweizen after working outside all day, but instead I had a Flying Dog Woody Creek White, which was exactly the right beer for the occasion. It was delicious: a smooth witbier with orange and coriander flavors. And it wasn't as in-your-face as I remember Hoegaarden being.
There was an added buttery component when I had the witbier alongside spaghetti, but then again the Rising Moon I had afterwards was the same way. In fact... that was easily the tastiest Rising Moon I've ever had. There's something to be said for a good beer pairing.
Yesterday after work I went to the poorly-advertised Ola Dubh event at the Gnome; they didn't start serving it until 7 pm (at first my server didn't think they were doing it at all) so in the meantime I had a Rogue Old Crustacean Barleywine, an OmmegangRare Vos, and a Flying DogGarde Dog. I was warned away from the Rogue Love Hop, which is apparently too subtle to follow the likes of a barleywine.
The barleywine wasn't spectacular, or maybe just not accessible. Tasted just like alcohol to me; I think I actually prefer the Sierra Nevada barleywine. Rare Vos was good as usual, and Garde Dog was a farmhouse ale with some nice grassiness. I mentioned my weekend beer misadventures and Barry and I joined together in praise of Springboard.
Dave had a Flat Earth Black Helicopter oatmeal stout and wow did I hate that beer. Or as Marge Simpson might say, "coffee."
The server said that they have one or two bottles of Rogue Brew 10,000 cellared. I'm going to try to convince some people to split a bottle next month. It's very expensive, like $35. But it has Paul Bunyan right on the label! Next month, when my entertainment budget isn't shot to hell from hours at the Gnome.
(Actually it would be much cheaper to buy that retail, if I can find it.)
HarviestounOla Dubh was interesting, a strong Imperial porter (apparently based on Old Engine Oil) that had been aged in malt whisky casks from the Highland Park distillery. Jenna said she couldn't taste the whisky but that came through very strong for me. We sat next to the distributors and one of them came over and answered our questions about the process and waxed on about Scotch. He said that the quality of the whisky that had been in the casks makes a huge difference, which sounds plausible.
He also hooked us up with a different batch of Ola Dubh Special Reserve (16?), which I remember being good, smoother... but my taste buds were probably well and truly fried by then.
That stuff must have a huge punch, because after two glasses I was .12 and stuck reading in the car for several hours. I got home very late and I taste whisky this morning.