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This is my personal drinking blog: don't take it too seriously.

Previous Posts

Furthermore: Furthermore
Festival of Hops
Winterfest highlights
A fridge full of New Belgium
Darkness and the last Porterfest
Barry's B-day at the Pig
Happy Hour at the Blue Door Pub
In which sweetness is a weakness
Flat Earth Porterfest: Xanadu

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Happy Hour at the Blue Door Pub
Thursday, November 27, 2008   8:39 AM

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.

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We now return to our regularly scheduled program
Thursday, November 13, 2008   4:39 PM

So, OK. I've been burnt out on blogging in general lately (somehow I've become "busy" — but mostly I just feel like I have nothing to say) and that means that I've drank a lot of great stuff that I don't have the space to mention (and tag, and thereby remember, which is the whole point) here.

Standouts include Surly Darkness (at the Pig with Barry and Jess), New Glarus Spotted Cow (at Jonas' wedding, which also featured some Ben-on-Meghan-on-Dan drinking) and Fire, a doppelbock from Capital Brewery of all places. I have never before had a Capital Brewery beer that I liked (and their Munich Dark is one of my least favorite beers) but doppelbock is a fantastic beer style so there you go.

I substituted my last bottle of Fire for the port wine in this duck recipe, and while my duck was meh, the reduced doppelbock sauce was fantastic over rice. I'm going to play around with drunk rice, see if I can duplicate the sauce without marinating a duck in it for 24 hours beforehand.

Last night Jess, Barry and I went to Grumpy's, where we'd had terrible service (that is to say: no service) last time and gotten a gift certificate for our trouble.

I'm trying so hard to drink seasonally because I think it will really pay off in the long run... but I started off with a light, delicious Ommegang Hennepin and was a huge snob about the pronunciation for some reason. Kinda an ass thing to worry about.

I had a Maredsous 8 after that (mispronouncing "Maredsous" spectacularly, for those of you keeping score at home) and I don't quite know what I thought of it. It didn't seem as good as I remembered, but that may be just because it was following an Ommegang and a fistful of French fries. A server was walking around offering up Maredsous samples.

It was randomly "Keep the Glass" night, so each of us got a Ommegang Hennepin glass to take home, and when we found out that Duvel glasses were also available Barry bought a round so we could all have one. We migrated outside with our new treasure and stood around a burning barrel, which is why every single one of my coworkers has commented on the smoky smell in my cube today.

Barry left and back at my place for Girl's Night, I mixed Jess a Colaweizen and had a Flying Dog Golden Ale, which was pretty pointless after three beers. I definitely need to switch to cheap beer after three, and I probably should just stop there anyways, outside of drinking games. No sense buying fancy beer if I'm going to be drinking it when I can barely taste it.

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This return to blogging about your beer must be a devious trick to get me to move back to Minnesota, because I am jealous. I can't believe you got to keep those glasses as well. Ridiculous.

I'm not sure our superior beer selection outweighs your superior weather, but get ready for some serious beer-snobbin' when you get back for Xmas.

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A curious incident at the Gnome
Wednesday, September 3, 2008   10:34 PM

I had two beers at the Happy Gnome tonight; this was a somewhat dubious decision, since I seem to be coming down with something, but the Internet claims that if you're not getting intoxicated, then the immune system isn't noticeably affected.

Whatever. I had another Flat Earth Bermuda Triangle. Once again it wasn't as malty as I'm used to for a tripel, but I like it nonetheless. For my second beer I had the Ommegang Hennepin. An increasingly unseasonable standby.

Jess ordered an Avery Reverend. I've had this before at Town Hall and liked it, but she was put off by a metallic aftertaste that seemed wrong. Jess had me double-check that she wasn't crazy, and there was definitely a strong copper taste at the end. The waitress told the owner and he did something to fix the problem, but when the next glass still had a bit of that copper taste, Jess switched to the Maudite from Unibroue. I tried a sip and it was crazy flowery. I'll have to check that out later.

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Southern Tier Imperial Cherry
Saturday, August 30, 2008   10:28 PM

I had a beer with my videogames tonight: a Southern Tier Imperial Cherry Saison.

I'm not soured on Southern Tier or anything, but it was far inferior to the same beer at the Blue Nile — I'm not sure if that's because this was bottled not draft, because it spent so much time in my fridge, or because I've been stuffed up lately.

Whatever the reason, I could prettymuch only taste the alcohol, with hints of goodness every now and then.

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The Gnome and Raspberry Tart
Thursday, August 21, 2008   8:13 AM

Let's review two different methods of not getting too drunk:

Stopping after two beers at happy hour: smart
Overeating at the company picnic: not smart

I was stuffed, and so while I enjoyed the conversation with Jess (and eventually Barb and Markie and Shelley) at the Happy Gnome yesterday, I was in no condition to enjoy more than the first half pint of my beloved Fatty Boombalatty, and I had to nurse the Surly Cynic I ordered afterward.

Barb really likes the Tyranena Scurvy. It takes all kinds, I suppose...

At Barry's I excitedly poured everyone a half-glass of New Glarus Raspberry Tart. It was good, maybe very good, but personally I didn't think it lived up to the rather extreme hype it got from Beer School. I'd like to try it again at some point, as a first beer rather than a end-of-the-night affair on a full stomach, and I'm excited that there's a good, relatively inexpensive domestic framboise... but I'm not a Raspberry Tart apostle just yet.

(I also got to try a bit of Barry's Flat Earth Convention Ale. It might be a bit too smoky for me.)

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A beer that's too smoky for you? Never...

There are some localish breweries around here, namely in Atlanta and other large Florida cities, but nothing in Tallahassee. Although one of the bars here has 85 cent tap beers every night, so who am I to complain?

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Drinking in Canada
  7:38 AM

So, Montreal.

As far as I could tell, there wasn't as much beer variety in stores as in Minnesota (or Wisconsin of course — my fridge is full of Dogfish Head and Stone and New Glarus right now, beers I've never seen in this state), but every bar seemed to be a brewpub, and you could buy beer in the grocery store. (sigh)

I completely underestimated the brewing scene. We hit up several bars, probably about two a day on average, and I don't remember all of them, but I can give you the highlights.

My first beer was the Belle Geule Pilsner from Les Brasseurs R.J., which I'd have enjoyed much more if it was the beer we'd all tried to order. It was very Czech.

What we'd actually wanted was this crazy pilsner that Jess recommended. It was really fruity, so much that I had a very hard time believing that they managed to make a lager taste like that. I'll try and find out the name. It was an impressive beer.

(The bar was cool too, or at least the bartender was — and I have such terrible luck with bartenders usually.)

Back at the hostel, Jess gave us many gifts, most notably some Brugse Zot Dubbel from Brouwerij De Halve Maan, which she'd ferried over from Europe for us. Delicious.

Back to Canadian beers. I knew to avoid Molson and Labatt, but they had this brand called Rickard's everywhere, passable but effectively the Summit of Montreal. And now I see that it's a Molson thing. Well played Molson, well played.

The Boréale beers from Les Brasseurs du Nord, also ubiquitous, seemed to be a little better. I had tried a bunch of their stuff.

Worst beer of the trip: the Route Des Épices from Brasserie Dieu Du Ciel. It's a rye and pepper beer for people who find the spices in the likes of Surly Cynic to be far too subtle.

(Although I'm still curious about their Rosee D'hibiscus, a wit beer flavored with hibiscus flowers. One of these days I'm going to be one of those guys who swaps beers online.)

I knew that Unibroue had some good stuff (I've still got that bottle in my fridge) so when Markie was getting the Route Des Épices I plunked down for a six pack of U Rousse. It was OK, but it's also apparently one of the worst Unibroue beers I could have purchased.

The second day of the trip we went to the Benelux Brasserie, which brewed an interesting variety and had a $9.50 beer-and-eurodog special. We went through the whole menu, essentially: I had a Saison and then finished with the Dreadlux, their Russian Imperial Stout.

Neither was bad, although in the Imperial's case it was more a matter of my liking the beer than liking the style.

Rachael's friend Fred introduced us all to the "Black Velvet," at an Irish pub that night, but the Internet is telling me that cider and Guinness is a Snakebite, and that we should have gotten champagne and Guinness for what we ordered. Whatever. It was decent, but not really my thing.

The last bar we visited was Les 3 Brasseurs, home of the "Meter of Beer."

Back at the hostel on the last night I started off with a bottle of Red Amber Ale from Alexander Keith's in Nova Scotia. That was very good, surprisingly so. I find myself disagreeing pretty heartily with the beer advocate reviews, so this could be a case of "the best beer is the beer you drink with friends" syndrome.

Then we drank some generic beer. Honestly, the most fun I had in Montreal was probably the afternoon where we had cheese and crackers and box wine. I've had good boozing and mediocre boozing of late, and that was definitely the former.

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Ben and Nora's Going-Away
Tuesday, August 5, 2008   9:27 PM

Went to the Happy Gnome tonight for a final happy hour with Nora and Ben; plenty of other people showed up to see them off as well. I started off with a Golden Cap from New Holland.

I'm not sure, but this could have been the spelt Saison we had at the Four Firkins. If it was, then I liked it more, it was decent, but I couldn't identify any of the flavors (maybe honey?) and I'm not sure that I'll have it again. There are plenty of Saison beers that I like more.

It turned out that they were out of the second beer I tried to order, so I panicked and got the Schell's Bavarian Forest Dampfbier, from their 150th Anniversary Series. I should have known better, as I don't think I've ever really liked anything from Schell's: the beer tasted like caramel and little else. (Standard caveats about my stuffed-up nose apply.)

In any case, this will quite likely be my only exposure to the Dampfbier style.

I pondered over the menu for a while tonight, but I think I may have tried everything at the Gnome that I'm interested in. For my last beer I went with a Surly Cynic. It was delicious as always, and bold enough (especially for a Saison) to stand out even as the last act.

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O'Gara's and one last Hookah
Sunday, August 3, 2008   11:21 AM

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.

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Wednesday: good beers once more
Wednesday, July 30, 2008   10:16 PM

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.

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Saison class at the Four Firkins
Friday, July 25, 2008   11:55 PM

Tonight Ben and I went to the Beer Evangelist class on Saison over at the Four Firkins. This could well be our very last beer snob outing before he and Nora move to Florida.

The "beer evangelist" pitch seemed kinda weird, since everyone there already reads MnBeer or shops at a specialty beer store — that is to say, it seemed like preaching to the choir. But hey! It was a good time, and there's something special about a group of people brought together by geeky enthusiasm. I don't think I've ever been around a group of strangers that friendly.

We learned about the beer's history and sampled five or six progressively better Saisons. It's apparently a very broad style: over the course of the evening I tasted mustiness and citrus and apples and honey and various unidentifiable spices. Other people were able to pick out additional flavors, but my palate wasn't up to that task.

(I also don't think that I can get a really good sense of a beer, certainly a light one, from a single tasting glass. I submit that I'd like several of these Saison beers more if I went to the Gnome and ordered a pint.)

We also tried the Jenlain, a stake-in-the-ground Biere de Garde, because the style is similar to the Saison. I liked the Jenlain more than the weak Saison that preceded it, and more than the impenetrable Two Brothers Biere de Garde I had a few weeks ago, but ultimately I still would much prefer the Flying Dog version.

My still-favorite Saison and our last beer of the night was the Surly CynicAle. Very assertive compared to the other beers on offer.

I almost bought a 4-pack with the $15 in store credit we got with our $15 tickets, but instead I purchased a Southern Tier Imperial Cherry and a 4-pack of the Flying Dog Kerberos Tripel. I am set for beer now, thanks. I mean, I was before too, but now I really mean it.

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Thanks mate! Glad you had a good time!


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Happy hour at the Blue Nile
Wednesday, July 23, 2008   9:39 PM

Ben, Nora, and I got together at the Blue Nile for happy hour today. Two-for-ones on drinks under five, patio, good service, no crowd. The food didn't impress, but then again none of us ordered an Ethiopian entrée.

Nora had some decent wine, I don't recall the name, and Ben and I started off with Surly CynicAles — I completely forgot that I actually like that beer, with its fruity peppery flavor, and now I'm really excited for the Saison class we're attending on Friday.

And for maybe getting some delicious Cynic in cans later this summer, once I work my way through all those Lakemaids. Drink locally and all that.

Surly beer roundup: I dislike the Bender, I think I like Furious (grapefruit!), I despise the Coffee Bender, I don't understand the Surly Two, and I love the Darkness and the Cynic. I always mix up the Bender and the Furious, but Ben set me straight tonight, so I'll have to give the Furious another shot at some point. I think I liked it back before I started paying attention to beers, and I haven't really had it since.

My second and final beer was the Imperial Cherry Saison from Southern Tier Brewing. (Incidentally, this is probably the best brewery website I've seen in a while.) The fruit flavor was as subtle as advertised, but it was there, and once again the beer was delicious. Not as peppery as the Cynic, but even I could tell that they were in the same genre.

I see that it's 8% ABV, which would explain how it kicked my ass. That "Imperial" in the name was obviously an important clue.

At Ben's while waiting to watch Project Runway, I had a Paulaner — it's so satisfying to have only delicious beers all night — and he drank a Schneider-Brooklyner Hopfen-Weisse. That beer has a somewhat interesting backstory.

His beer wasn't as tasty as the Paulaner, but it was nevertheless (easily) the best Weizenbock I've ever had. I really, really don't understand that style. I've been wanting to read Garrett Oliver's beer-pairing book for a while; if he was involved with this, I take that as another sign that he knows his stuff.

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