Breweries "Visited"

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Day 418: New Holland Black Tulip

Ever have that feeling that you're about to be pushed off a cliff? That things are about to go wildly out of control? Yeah. Me neither.

If I had that feeling, I would numb if with a New Holland Brewing Company's Black Tulip tripel ale. Vintage 2012 to be exact because it is a solid beer. It's part of New Holland's High Gravity Series. Honestly I'm not sure I could love New Holland's beer more than I do. Check out the links below for some evidence.

The Black Tulip poured a hazy orange color with a very thin, slightly offwhite head. It has an earthy, vegetable-like scent. It reminded me of roots. The taste is banana, fruity ester, yeast. It's boozy but not overwhelming and has a good amount of prickly carbonation.

Here's what New Holland has to say about Black Tulip: Golden in color, Black Tulip Tripel is a delightful beer with a slightly sweet body. Its ester-laden character reveals an enigmatic dance between Belgian ale yeast and Michigan beet sugar, conjuring hints of bananas and rock candy. Its inviting flavor is complemented by a pleasing dry finish.

I like when I get it mostly right.

Beer stats
Style: Tripel
ABV: 8.8%
IBUs: 21
Rating: Great

Previously reviewed from New Holland
Gary's review of Black Tulip
Gary's review of Blue Sunday Sour and not so idle threats against cancer
An embarrassment of sour ale riches and a review of Blue Sunday Sour
A post that I am incredibly proud of that includes a review of Dragon's Milk

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Beer, Country Songs, Guns, Tourism

Day #417 Fireman's #4 / Real Ale Brewing Company, Blanco, TX
Previously from this brewery: Marci's take on Real Ale

You ever been to Blanco, Texas?  No, well I have.  As part of our beer blogger ninja mission to Texas, we drove down to San Antonio, and on the way back to Austin drove out through central Texas Hill Country.  Do you like ranches, wide open spaces, and.... hills?  Do you not like seeing a ton of people?  Soft spot in your heart for Friday Night Lights?  Then you might like Texas Hill Country, home of Real Ale Brewing Company.

Before we get to Real Ale, let's pause for a moment and discuss brewery tours.  In the spirit of full disclosure, I don't usually seek out brewery tours.  I mean, you see one tour, you've seen them all - grain and water get heated up, sugars are released, the sugars ferment, you sit around for a while, and SHAZAM you have beer.  Lather, rinse, repeat.  How many times can you sit through that presentation?  However, I do have a bit of a soft spot for tours, as they do let you meet some of the brewery employees, see what they consider to be the unique features they bring to their beer, see what makes them tick.  I've taken three really different, yet really fun tours in my day.  One, I'll talk about in another post.  Another was a work trip to visit a client (admittedly, they're as macro as macro beer gets), where I got the exclusive, behind the scenes VIP tour, and got to see virtually every square inch of the plant, from the train cars that bring the grain in to the area where they recycle glass, and everything in between.  I got to drink beer from an executive lounge, and I got to pet the Clydesdales (yeah, that macro brewer).  It was crazy  access to a world that tourists never get to see, even though the tour was incredibly safe and sterile.  We wore eye protection and ear protection, closed toed shoes, and had to stay within the yellow lines or risk dying.  No joke: when you first walk onto the brewery floor, you see a banner that reminds people to look around, otherwise you might die like an employee who died a few years back.  Yikes!  Informative, interesting, awesome, safe, and without a doubt one of the coolest days I've had at work.

And then there's the Real Ale tour.  Considering how far out into the middle of nowhere Blanco is, there was a downright huge group queued up for the Friday afternoon tour.  Armed with some free samples, we headed into the brewery, where we received no safety briefing, other than to not touch anything.  That was really more of a warning than a safety tip, now that I think about it.  We were crammed in among the tanks, and moved through the facility by stepping over hoses, ducking under pipes, dodging steam vents and skirting around puddles.  Heavy metal music from Ronnie James Dio was blaring over speakers somewhere further back in the plant.  I'm pretty sure the tour leader was making some of it up as he went along.  Despite the random nature of the tour, I learned about what Real Ale feels is important to their beer, saw equipment waiting to be put together for their new bottling machine, saw a basketball hoop in a corner of a warehouse (no one would challenge me to a game, sadly), and saw the new warehouse where they are now barrel aging beers, which is always good news.  In other words, it was glorious.  I'm not sure if you'll ever be in Blanco, Texas, but if you do, you MUST stop by for a tour.  You won't regret it.

My official beer review is for the Fireman's #4, a blonde ale that appears to be the most popular beer Real Ale puts out, at least from my unofficial survey of bars in Texas.  It pours a hazy gold color with a fluffy white head.  The aroma is light, with plenty of grain, and the taste is clean, with grass, grain, biscuit, and a good dose of hops, although without much bitterness.  A nice beer, easily enjoyed at a mellow 5.1% ABV.  Texas forever, friends.  Texas forever.
Another beer drank at Hopdoddy?
Another beer drank at Hopdoddy.
Breweries in Texas can't sell direct to the consumer, so most have tasting rooms where they give away free samples.  I had the Fireman's #4 in a bar in Austin, but did sample the Rio Blanco pale ale and a barleywine, both of which were quite nice.  I bought a pint glass, because I wanted a pint glass.

Thing to Think About Today:
The Real Ale brewery is 533 miles away from El Paso, Texas.  Why is this important?  Because tonight's thing to think about is the old Marty Robbins Grammy Award winning 1959 classic, El Paso.  Why is this important?  I'm  not sure if I'll ever set foot in El Paso in my life, and no one has written any cool songs about Blanco.  So.... there you go.

I think my parents had this record when I was kid, because I remember listening to it as a kid, and it has stuck with me ever since.  Why is this song awesome?  Well, it's about a guy who goes to a bar, falls in love, realizes his crush has a boyfriend, shoots the boyfriend (I repeat: he shoots the boyfriend!), rides away on a stolen horse, realizes he can't live without his new lady friend (who he just saw in a bar, it's not like they were living together), rides back into town to find her, gets shot by the posse looking for him, and (SPOILER ALERT) dies in the arms of his lady.  That's badass!!!  Give it a listen, and have a good night.  And avoid gun battles in bars in Texas, because I don't think they end well for anyone.

"Down in the west Texas town of El Paso / I fell in love with a Mexican girl..."

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Day 416: Success and Breckenridge Brewery

There is no elevator to success. You have to take the stairs.
                                                  - author unknown

For the past few weeks, I've seen this quote pop up on a number of blogs that I read. It resonated at first because it was a new year and I was trying to make healthy changes. For me that meant parking on the lowest level of our garage and walking up the four levels of stairs to get into our building. 

Then there were the moments where I was feeling a bit more of a leader and said it to myself as I pushed myself out of my career comfort zone and took on new projects. Then there was this week, where it translates directly into this photo in my mind's eye.
Around and around I go. (Source)
Stairs ---> Height ---> Altitude ---> Mountains ---> Colorado ---> Breckenridge

Breckinridge Brewery 471 Small Batch is a double IPA brewed in Colorado. The Small Batch series allows for some experiments and this one is definitely a success in my book.  

From the Breckenridge website, it's described as a small batch, limited edition ale. It's brewed with Pale, Munich, Caramel-30, Carapils and Torrified Wheat malts, with Chinook, Centennial, Simcoe and Fuggles hops. It has a big sweet mouthfeel, followed by more hoppiness than you've ever had at one time. 

I thought this was a particularly good DIPA. It poured an opaque apricot color with a minimal white head. The smell was peachy, fruity hops. And lots of them. The flavor was lots of fruit forward hops. I noted a medley of tastes but peach was dominant and there were undertones of citrus. It rounded out nicely with some caramel hoppiness and biscuit. It's bold but very smooth to drink.  

Beer stats
Style: Double IPA
ABV: 9.2%
IBUs: 70
Rating: Great

Previously reviewed from Breckenridge
Christmas Ale and fond memories of getting the biggest television ever
Gary's thoughts on 471 Small Batch
Gary's review of Agave Wheat, which is one of my favorites!
My 2nd post ever--Vanilla Porter

Monday, January 28, 2013

Ice and Beer Go Great Together....

Day #415 Anna / Hill Farmstead Brewery, Greensboro, VT
Previously from this brewery: Arthur, Clara, Harlan, and George

Courtesy of some ice and freezing rain in my neighborhood, I just slid back down my driveway.  No, not on purpose, it's just that BlogNamedBrew Manor sits on a hill, and getting up the driveway in winter can be quite an adventure.  I like to think of it as an Winter X Games sport... can Gary walk up the icy driveway, get about one and a half feet from the steps near the house, and then slide alllllllllllll the way back down to the bottom without falling?

Indeed I can, and in fact today I did this feat while talking on the phone with my sister.  Let's see Shaun White do that.  I have skills.  I also have wet socks, as it's easier to get back up the hill in socks than dress shoes.  Life is hard in the suburbs.

But enough about my adventures, let's talk beer.  Tonight's beer is Anna, a saison from Hill Farmstead in Vermont.  This one was on draft at Pinnochio's, where I had lunch last Monday.  Pinnochio's is a pizza shop with an amazing beer list, a huge bottle selection, some very good food, some questionable service, a beer garden smaller than my car, and mountains of copyright infringement going on.  Back to the beer: in the glass, you see a dark, hazy golden color with a good bit of white foam.  The aroma is light, with grain, citrus, and spice.  The taste brings you loads of tart lemon, yeast, peppery spice, some malt sweetness, and a moderately dry finish.  An outstanding beer, and by now you should know that any time you see Hill Farmstead on draft, order it immediately and do not ask questions.
U MAD, Walt Disney?
Hill Farmstead was a nominee in my Brewery of the Year discussion, although they came up short in the end.  I do accept bribes for my 2013 list, should anyone from Hill Farmstead be reading this.

Thing to Think About Today:
The only music that goes through my head as I ski/skate/slide/toboggan down my drive way in the winter?  That would of course be Fantastic Voyage, and you're all welcome to join my new winter sport.  If you make it down safely, there's a huge party waiting in the trunk of my car for us.  It's going to be legendary......

"Slide, slide, slippity slide / I do what I do just to survive"

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Day 414: Trois Dames Winter Sour

Today's beer is quite appropriate as we've had and are about to have some awesome (sarcasm) winter weather.

It is the winter sour ale from Brasserie Trois Dames. It's brewed with oranges and lemon. Interestingly the brewer opts to use hops from Yakima Valley (Washington state) despite being based in Switzerland. Big ups to the Northwest USA!

It smells of lemon sourness and has a hint of funk to it. The flavor is strong orange, citrus pith and hop. There's also some woodiness in there. It poured with a very thick, craggy white head and there was tons of intricate lacing left in the glass as I made my way to the last drops of this deliciousness.

Beer stats
Style: Sour/Wild ale
ABV: 7%
IBUs: Unknown
Rating: Great

Previously reviewed from Trois Dames
His and her reviews of Sainte ni Touche, a Flanders red ale

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Chuck Bass and Brown Ale

Day #413 Four / Freetail Brewing Company, San Antonio, TX
Previously from this brewery: my review of Woodicus, and Marci's review of Ananke

Another Saturday has arrived at Blog Named Brew Manor, and I feel very comfortable in my own skin so I feel no shame in telling you that I spent a fair part of my morning catching up on missed episodes of Gossip Girl.  Sure, other grownups might be doing home improvement projects today, or whatever normal grownups do, but I prefer to spend my day off binge watching a show aimed at tweens.  What can I say, I like what I like.

Have no fear, I also like beer, so today's review is a look back to Texas, with a review of Four, a brown ale from Freetail Brewing.  This beer sports a mahogany hue with ruby hints and virtually no head.  Your nose finds aromas of cocoa and malt, an the taste gives you notes of dark chocolate, spice, and caramel malt sweetness, with some hops balance to keep things honest. Like caramel?  Like chocolate?  Like beer?  Do you find yourself in or near San Antonio (because the distribution network for breweries in Texas is fairly awful)?  Then please order this beer, and you can thank me later.
Glamour shot

This beer is named in honor of Freetail's fourth anniversary.  No idea if they intend to name a beer after every anniversary going forward, but then again I never really asked.

Thing to Think About Today:
Okay, so why do I watch a show aimed at the demographic a solid generation younger than I am?  Two reasons:  Chuck Bass and Chuck Bass (okay, fine, Chuck Bass and the lovely Leighton Meester, who plays Blair, Chuck's love interest).  Bass, played splendidly by Ed Westwick, is the dapper, debonair, confident, Scotch drinking, risk taking, scheming, ignored son of a billionaire, who manages to run a business empire and be the biggest playboy in town, all before his 21st birthday.  In other words, he's just like me!!!

The highlight of any episode?  Chuck uttering his catch phrase, "I'm Chuck Bass....", which at various times serves as a means of introduction, a command, a threat, and the most succinct version of, "Do you know who the fuck I am?" I've ever heard.  His highlight reel, for those unfamiliar, is how we're closing out today.

"We don't need tickets.  I'm CHUCK BASS."

Friday, January 25, 2013

Day 412: La Rulles Cuvee Meilleurs Voeux

I've used all my brain power today being strategic and pretending to be a leader. I have nothing left for you guys. My creativity is all tapped out. I promise to do better for the next installment.

For today's installment, let's talk Brasserie Artisanale la Rulles's Cuvee Meilleurs Voeux. A Belgian dark ale brewed in Belgium. I had this one ages ago at TJ's Restaurant
It pours a deep brown shade with ruby highlights around the edges where the light penetrates. It has a very thick light tan head.  It smells of malt and candy sugar--very clean and crisp. It has a thin mouthfeel. There's lots of rich malt in the flavor and a nice spiciness. I noticed some dark fruit but it didn't define the beer at all for me. The Cuvee Meilleurs Voeux is a nice Belgian strong dark ale, but there's nothing particularly outstanding about it. Would I drink it again? Sure. Will I go crazy trying to find it? No.

Beer stats 
Style: Belgian strong dark ale
ABV: 7.3%
IBUs: Unknown
Rating: Average

Previously reviewed from xxx
My thoughts on La Grande, a strong pale ale
A review of Estivale (Belgian pale ale)by Gary

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Beer of the Year!!

Day #411 Chester County Bitter / Sly Fox Brewing Company, Phoenixville, PA
Previously from this brewery: Grisette and Phoenix Pale Ale from me, and Ichor from Marci

Once again, after a short delay it's time to get back into Blog Named Brew awards ceremony mode, and tonight I'm handing out my most coveted prize, Beer of the Year.  One of the most enjoyable parts of undertaking this adventure and subsequently writing about the experience has been sampling an enormous variety of beers, from breweries quite literally around the globe.  From previous experience, I could have predicted a few beers that were going to end up on my Top 25 list for the year, but more often than not I was blown away by something new or unexpected.  I won't recap the entire Top 25 here, but allow me to point out the beers that were hands down, far and away, THE best beers from the entire list of 366.  The exclusive and amazing nominees for Beer of the Year are:

Dale's Pale Ale, Oskar Blues Brewing Company
Fantome Saison, Brasserie Fantome
Barrel 45 Wet Hop Wild Racer 5, Bear Republic Brewing Company
Sang Noir, Cascade Brewing Barrel House
Supplication, Russian River Brewing Company
Petrus Aged Pale, Brouwerij Bavik
Bitter Monk, Anchorage Brewing Company
Heady Topper, The Alchemist
Duchess du Bourgogne, Brouwerij Verhaeghe

All of these beers stand head and shoulders above the crowd and are winners in their own right, but in the end, there could only be one to cut down the nets, or hoist the trophy, or do a victory lap, or whatever sports analogy you want to drop in here.  And that beer is.....

Bitter Monk, from Anchorage Brewing Company!

In the spirit of full disclosure, I wrote that last sentence, stared at it, deleted it, and wrote it over again about five times.  I had Sang Noir in there, I had Heady Topper, I had Dale's, I had the Duchess in there.  But in the end, I chose Bitter Monk.  Any of the beers I just named could have been the big winner, and I would have been 100% comfortable with that decision.  Considering that I'm going back to memories and notes from beers drank over the past year (and then some), there's more art than science in this decision.  Maybe in year two, I'll apply more science, but until then, join me in congratulating Anchorage Brewing for an amazing, outstanding beer.

Now that I'm salivating thinking about all of the killer beers I've had over the past year, I'll go ahead and drop today's review in - Chester County Bitter, from near-by Sly Fox Brewing.  In the glass, this beer has a pleasant apricot color with a fluffy white head, and was poured from the hand pump.  The aroma is light, with good malt and hop presence.  When you take a sip, you notice the creamy texture first, and then find some light lemon, toffee and caramel from the malt, and then a decent bit of hops and pine.  A very nice beer from an old friend.
That just looks delicious
If you visit Sly Fox in person, they have a large number of beers on tap which are not (as of yet) distributed in cans.  So... you should go ahead and visit.

Thing to Think About Today:
I took the afternoon off to get a new battery put in my car.  Not exactly how I wanted to spend my afternoon, but it beats jump starting my car every morning.  I was about due for a new one, but the Arctic weather in our neighborhood these days sped that timeline up greatly.  Courtesy of the nice people at Berger Family Dealerships, I'm back in action and ready for whatever else Mother Nature throws at us for the remainder of winter.  To celebrate my car again having power, we close with The Power, by Snap.  Stay warm, my friends, stay warm.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Day 410: Real Ale, Brewery Tours and God's Country, Y'all

The final installment of Texas Beer Week takes us to Real Ale Brewing in Blanco, Texas. I went to Texas Hill Country! It is an amazing thing to see so much open space--it looks like it just goes on forever. There were cowboys. Unironic boot wearing, hat wearing cowboys. I even saw a car with cattle horns on the front end! Amazing. 

We hit the road from Austin and headed west to Blanco to experience Real Ale Brewing for ourselves. Normally I'm the person who says if you've seen one brewery, you don't need to see them all. Boy was I  mistaken. The tour at Real Ale was awesome. It was not one of those OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) approved tours. It was a true behind-scenes, stand in puddles, don't poke your eye out on that nozzle, avoid getting a concussion tour. I'm pretty sure that if I lingered too long, someone would have given me a keg to fill or hops to haul around. 

The guys at Real Ale are cranking out some great beer. I noticed their Firemans 4 blonde ale all over Austin. Thanks to some bizarre Texas laws, breweries cannot sell directly to consumers. Instead some give away samples.  There was a point during our visit to Real Ale when I wondered how long we could hang out before we got cut off. 

What did I sample? Two beers. Repeatedly. The first was a Belgian-style tripel, Devil's Backbone. It was a nice golden color with great flavor. Good candy sugar, a little hoppy. Very interesting. The booze was apparent but surprisingly easy to drink. 

My other taste went to the barleywine. Another bruiser of a beer (11% ABV) but so tasty and warming.  Lots of toffee and malt with enough hop to keep it from being too rich. 

Beer stats 
Style: Barleywine
ABV: 11%
IBUs: 77
Rating: Good

Style: Tripel
ABV:  8.1%
IBUs: 36
Rating: Good

Previously reviewed from Real Ale Brewing

First review!

Unfortunately I didn't take any photos of my beer.  Instead here are some shots from the tour...

Yes, Real Ale is doing barrel aging!

And like I said when I started Texas Beer Week...Texas forever, y'all.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Formula 409

Day #409 Moebius / Omnipollo, Stockholm, Sweden
Previously from this brewery: Both of our looks at Mazarin

Two interesting things to note about today, which are indirectly related yet somewhat related.

  1. Today is the anniversary of Joe Paterno's death. While some people outside of Penn State will never bother to understand anything about Coach Paterno other than what they read in the headlines, most PSU fans recognize that he did not walk on water, but was a good and very decent human being who made mistakes.  Coach Paterno contributed thousands upon thousands upon thousands of good things to the school, his community, and the sport at large - but he'd be the first to point out he wasn't perfect.
  2. Today marks post #409 for the blog, which is also the number of games Paterno won as head coach. Yes, the NCAA stripped a number of those wins to "punish" Penn State, but that's another story for another day, as the NCAA is about as effective of an organization as....well, I really can't think of anything as ludicrously ineffective as the NCAA.  I say: 409 forever.
PSU notes aside, today was a good day.  Got to take in a high school basketball game, managed to get some work done, and didn't freeze to death.  Hooray for the small victories, I guess.

Today's beer is Moebius, an Imperial IPA from Omnipollo, a Swedish brewer.  In the glass, you see a hazy orange color, with a wispy white head.  You find an aroma of citrus fruit and pine, and the taste follows suit with tons of grapefruit and lemon, along with a strong pine flavor from the hops.  This beer is strong, as 8.5% ABV, and bitter throughout, with a good dry finish.  Definitely one for the hop lovers to check out.
Hello there.
Omni means many in Latin, and pollo means chicken in Spanish (shout out to the worlds best fried chicken chain, Pollos Hermanos).  This language lesson really means nothing when you combine them in Swedish, I suppose.

Thing to Think About Today:
I just played some Frightened Rabbit in this space a few days earlier.  I've been listening to them nearly non-stop since then, and they have a new album coming out next month.  So, let's close out the evening thinking about the first song released from the new album.  Please enjoy The Woodpile, because I do.

"Would you come and brighten my corner?"

Monday, January 21, 2013

Day 408: NXNW Sampler and Some Rambling

Texas Beer Week hits its second to last installment with a review of NXNW. It was the first Texas beer that I found upon our arrival and I maximized my time there with the sampler.

The Northern Light is a great session beer. It pours a bright golden color with barely any head. It's a little bready with a hint of hops.

The Bavarian hefeweizen is a traditional German wheat beer. It pours an opaque lemonade color. No strong aroma, but has great banana and clove flavors. Excellent.

Then there was the Duckabish amber. It poured a clear amber color. It was very malty and creamy.

I also tasted the Jingo pale ale, Okanogan black ale and something aged in Jack Daniels' barrels. I didn't write any notes on those samples.

Perhaps I need to work on my writing dedication when I'm sampling the sampler. I tend to fall apart when I have more than a few beers to review. In lieu of good beer reviews, I share my photos of UT's campus and a great chicken trailer we found on South Congress Avenue.

Ms. P's Electric Cock. I kid you not. We should have bought the t-shirts.
UT's campus. Two balls. Seriously?
And the had the nerve (balls?) to tell me
not to photograph the balls.

Me and a wishing well.  What did I wish for?
More beer.
I'm throwing my year 2 format out the window because this is one of my more disjointed posts in awhile. If Mr. Blog Named Brew finds his notes, then perhaps we'll formalize this mess.


Sunday, January 20, 2013

Day 407: Circle Brewing Blur

Today's installment of Texas Beer Week features Circle Brewing Company's Blur. It's billed as a Texas hefeweizen, but I'm not sure what makes it so. A little research...

From Circle Brewing's website: Blur is a unique blend of traditional old-world styling with a little Texan ingenuity. This Texas twist on the German wheat beer brings with it a hint of caramel to a crisp and refreshing style. The citrus aroma plays off the light and creamy body to create a beer that has no rival whether you enjoy it in the sun or in the shade.

I guess it's the caramel in a hefeweizen that makes it so.

The Blur is a beautiful beer. I had it served in a GIANT chalice at Hopdoddy's in Austin. What do you know about Hopdoddy's? Go there and get any of the burgers. So good. I could kill for one right now.

Anyway the Blur poured a deep hazy shade of orange with a thick white head. There was lots of orange and wheat in the nose. The flavor is strong orange with hints of banana creaminess. There was a nice breadiness to it and some light hops. I could totally see drinking this on a hot Texas day.

Beer stats
Style: Hefeweizen
ABV: 4.6%
Rating: Good

Previously reviewed from Circle Brewing
Gary's thoughts on Blur

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Tulips in Winter

Beer #406 Black Tulip / New Holland Brewing Company, Holland, MI
Previously from this brewery: My take on Blue Sunday Sour, Marci's look at Dragon's Milk (both with interesting PSU stories in the background)

It's been a beautiful, sunny, relaxing Saturday here in the suburbs of Philly.  Started the day by sleeping in (a rarity), then hit up yoga and made a delicious breakfast.  The afternoon?  Some peace and quiet, and a visit to Delaware to visit a brewery and drink beer with a stop at Total Wine to stock the wine cellar.  I hope you're all doing something fun as well.  You deserve it, after all.

Today's beer is Black Tulip, a Belgian Tripel from New Holland Brewing.  In the glass, you see a clear bright amber hue, and you pick up the aroma of sweet malt.  When you take a sip, you get a good bit of malt and plenty of candi sugar.  (Side note: for those of you thinking I spelled "candy" wrong, I didn't.  Check out more info on candi sugar here)  There are subtle hints of citrus and spice along for the ride, and it finishes a bit dry.  A very, very good beer, but I expect nothing else from New Holland, one of the premier breweries in the country.
Good beer + a naked lady on the bottle?
This beer is fairly potent at 9% ABV, but you don't even notice the high alcohol content.  Find it, drink it, and proceed with caution.

Thing to Think About Today:
In the spirit of black (tulips), let's close with something black (um, backpacks?).  Obviously that means we're listening to Stroke 9 and their popular-ish song Little Black Backpack.  Enjoy your Saturday with this flashback to 2000.

"Don't want to think about it"

Friday, January 18, 2013

Love and Horses

Day #405 Hundred Horse Ale / Victory Brewing Company, Downingtown, PA
Previously from this brewery: All things Victory from this blog

Tonight is short and sweet, because you should all be having a drink and relaxing, kicking of a long weekend in style.  So, I won't bore you with the details of my day, other than to say it ended better than it started and I'm quite happy to have some time away from my desk.  Work tends to happen there, whereas beer tends to happen other places.

Tonight's review is the Hundred Horse Ale from Victory Brewing Company.  I took a growler of this home from Victory from a recent visit, and it pours a clear dark copper, with a lingering thin white head.  The aroma is light, with some toasted malt, and the taste is dry and smooth, with lightly toasted malt, grain, and some good chestnut flavor.  Very good beer, and worth a sample if you see it on draft in Philly, or Chicago.

Hundred Horses
This beer is a collaboration between Victory and Mark Vetri, famous Philly restaurant owner.  This was created for a special beer dinner Vetri and his chefs from Alla Spina were doing at a restaurant in Chicago, The Publican.  Got all of that?  I don't either, but the beer was good, and Vetri gave me a great meatball recipe to use, so I'm just going to stop thinking about it.

Thing to Think About Today:
I heard some great music today, and have had New Edition stuck in my head as a result.  I love when a great old(er) song pops up, and immediately brings you back to a happy time from your youth.  So, on a fun Friday night, let's go ahead and wrap things up with some If It Isn't Love.  And to all, a very good night!

"So if it isn't love, why do I feel this way / why does she stay on my mind?"

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Day 404: Live Oak and a Photo Bomb

Texas Beer Week continues with a revelation about my immaturity and the evil genius of Mr. Blog Named Brew. One of my favorite things to do to Gary while he's taking his beer photos is flipping the bird in the periphery of his shot. It makes him INSANE. And it makes me giggle delightedly. Well let's just say he got some payback when I was snapping my photo of today's beer.

Look closely.
Mr. Blog Named Brew is lurking!
Live Oak Brewing Company's Big Bark amber lager pours a beautiful amber color with a very thick ecru head. It smells strongly of nutty malts. The taste is very much malt with a rich mouthfeel. There is some hop bite buried in there, but generally very bready. It is very easy to drink and I think it would appeal to a mass audience. Too bad it's only available in the Austin area.

Beer stats
Style: Vienna style lager
ABV:  4.9%
IBUs: Unknown
Rating: Great

Previously reviewed from Live Oak
Another first!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Circle of Life

Beer #403 Blur / Circle Brewing Company, Austin, TX
Previously from this brewery: None, new brewery

Randomly busy night tonight, as I was tied up in a board meeting after work, then had to run an errand, and I'm just now getting to sit down an write.  When will I find time to catch up on missed episodes of Gossip Girl tonight?  Today was also a whirlwind day in the office - productive, but greatly tiring.  I am hereby going on record that I think tomorrow will be a good day.  You heard it here first!

Tonight's beer is Blur, a hefeweizen from Circle Brewing Company in Texas.  This one was on draft at Hopdoddy in Austin, a great place for a burger and a beer (or two or three).  While the burgers are fantastic, the ginormous goblet the beers come in is worth a visit alone.  In said goblet, this beer has an apricot hue, and your nose finds a good aroma of banana.  The taste is classic hefeweizen, with plenty of banana, clove, and yeast.  Well done beer, definitely worth your effort.  Particularly if you can get a goblet-sized portion.
Love this glass 
This brewery adheres to the German Purity Laws of 1516, and started producing their beers in 2010.  Now you know.

Thing to Think About Today:
In the spirit of Circle Brewing, we close tonight with Round Here from the Counting Crows.  Ah, the 90's.  Good times, good times.  Enjoy your evenings, friends!  See you tomorrow.

"She has trouble acting normal when she's nervous..."

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Day 402: Texas Forever and Austin Beerworks

Texas Beer Week soldiers on but not before an update on a post I wrote on January 4, 2013. Somehow that absurdity continues with another discovery of HUMAN HEADS AT AN AIRPORT!!!

Today's email exchange

Me: Why are there so many human heads without bodies in airports?

Beth: Well, you’re not just gonna DRIVE them around, are you?  Don’t you think they’d at least need to be on ice or something?

Me: These still had skin on them. (barf) Wouldn't that smell?

Beth:  We need more details, msn!

Sorry for the lip prints on the glass.
Clearly I liked this one. It took me this much
beer to remember to take a photograph!
And so it continues...where will the heads turn up next?

Now back to Texas Beer Week. Texas forever, y'all!

Today's installment features Austin Beerworks's Pearl Snap pilsner.  

Sidebar: I've recently discovered a new joy in life. When visiting brewery websites, occasionally answer no to the "Are you 21?" question. Do it on Austin Beerwork's site. I dare you. You will be rewarded.  Black Acre Brewing also has a fun under 21 reward. What's going on, indeed!

Pearl Snap poured a golden color ale with a minimal white head.  It had a pretty strong smell of hops for a pilsner or at least compared to the pilsners I remember drinking. It's very smooth with a slightly caramel hop profile. It finishes with a strong but not overwhelming bitterness. 

Beer stats
Style: German pilsner
ABV: 5.3%
IBUs:  45
Rating:  Good

Previously reviewed from Austin Beerworks
First beer!!!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Worst. Beer. Ever.

Beer #401 Wild Hare Pale Ale / Spoetzl Brewery, Shiner, TX
Previously from this brewery: reviews on Shiner Bock and Ruby Redbird

Back by popular demand, it's time to hand out an award from the 366 challenge!  You can search all of the awards I've given out to day through the handy tag cloud to the right of this page.  Or, just click this link if you're lazy.

During the 366 journey, I drank some amazing beers.... and some beers that weren't very good at all.  I mean, not all of them could be award winners.  I guess that's not technically true, as tonight I'm honoring the worst of the lot by presenting the Worst Beer of the Year.  Am I being mean?  Nope.  I'd hate to have someone new to the world of craft beers stumble onto one of these, and decide that craft beer is disgusting.  And now candidates, please prepare to be shamed:

Guido, from Brouwerij Smimsje
Harvest Ale, from JW Lees Brewery
MacQueen's Nessie, from Brauerei Schloss Eggenberg
St. Cloud Belgian White, World Brews
Bar Harbor Real Ale, from Atlantic Brewing Company
Orange Blossom Cream Ale, from Buffalo Bill's Brewery
Haywards 5000, from Shaw Wallace & Co.

And the winner (loser?) is.... Orange Blossom Cream Ale!  When I describe a beer using the phrase "frozen generic brand popsicle" and "children's chewable aspirin," you know you're doing something wrong.  I'm sure they're nice people and make other wonderful beers, but seriously.... this was bad.

On to the next one, so the beer for this evening is Wild Hare APA from Spoetzl Brewery.  I had this one right from bottle, so no comments on appearance or aroma.  However, I can say that when you take a sip, you get a very even balance of hops and malt.  There are floral notes, with flavors of lemon and tea, and a touch of hop bitterness.  All in all, this is a rather mild beer.  Definitely something to keep in mind if you're looking for an easy drinking, light, less complex beer.
Shine bright like a diamond
Pro tip, if we're speaking of Texas: if you're in Austin, check out the Kimber Modern, a boutique hotel in the South Congress neighborhood.  Very, very cool place to stay.  Totally unlike most other hotels, and that's a good thing.

Thing to Think About Today:
If we're talking about BlogNamedBrew awards, then we might as well close things out tonight with some A Tribe Called Quest and their always funky Award Tour.  Good night, good friends.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Day 400: Free Tail Brewing and a Greek Mythology Lesson

Texas Beer Week continues with a trip to San Antonio and Freetail Brewing Company. I'm not sure how Freetail landed on our radar when planning our trip to Austin, but I am certainly glad it did.

Freetail is named for the bats that seem to be all over the Austin, San Antonio area. Luckily for me, the several million bats who make their home under the South Congress Bridge in Austin were on their winter sabatical and nowhere to be found while I was visiting. While I value the role that bats play in the ecosystem, I have no desire to see them up close and en masse as I had to remind Mr. Blog Named Brew repeatedly on this trip.

Freetail opened up in 2009 with the goal of bringing better beer to the San Antonio area. I can assure you--based on my personal experience--they are more than meeting that goal. I started out with one of two sours they had on draft that day.  

Ananke = Delicious
The Ananke is an American wild ale or a sour beer. It poured a dark straw color with a very small, almost nonexistent head. It smells of lemons and a bit of wood or resin. The flavor is extremely tart...lemon, resinous. There's lots of woody flavor to it that lends a very interesting element. This is a great example of a sour beer. 

In case you were wondering who or what Ananke is, I've learned she is the Greek goddess of inevitability, compulsion and necessity. Together with Khronos, they are responsible for splitting the primal egg of solid matter into its constituent parts, earth, heaven and sea and so brought about the creation of the ordered universe. And that's your Greek mythology lesson for the day!

Beer stats
Style: American wild ale
ABV: 5.8%
IBUs: 10
Rating: Excellent 

Thanks to the encouragement of our waitress, who really knew her beer, I sampled four more offerings.
From left to right are: La Rubia blonde ale; Tadarida Oscura black IPA; Shoppe's smoked; and, La Muerta imperial stout. I didn't take any notes on these although I can recall that the Shoppe's smoked was quite unusual. Given its low ABV and IBUs, I thought it would be more of a table beer or perhaps a berlinerweisse. It's also worth noting that the beer board did not mention smoke at all in my defense. It actually tasted more like a rauchbier. Our waitress told me it was an acquired taste--evidently I acquired it pretty quickly because I thoroughly enjoyed it. 

Previously reviewed from Freetail Brewing
Gary's review of the other sour that was on during our visit to Freetail, the Woodicus

Saturday, January 12, 2013


Day #399 NATO IPA / Victory Brewing Company, Downingtown, PA
Previously from this brewery: my review of V-12 (beer #2!), and Marci's take on their sampler

Allow me to say this: I'm fortunate to get a plethora of vacation days from my employer.  I took advantage of that policy at year end to enjoy some days off.  Therefore, the first five day work week of 2013 felt like a stomach punch from a heavyweight boxer.  It doesn't knock you out, but it damn well doesn't feel very good.

Therefore, it felt great to welcome in a Saturday morning today.  Spent some time with the dogs, went to yoga, and then did lunch at Victory Brewing Company with friends.  While there, I had a NATO IPA on draft with my sandwich.  It pours a clear copper color with a fluffy white head.  The aroma has pine resin and some malt, and the taste is quite good: dry and earthy, with pine and citrus and a bit of malt mixed in as well.  Definitely worth a try should you see this one available near you.
If you're wondering, it appears this beer is in fact named for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization; just as NATO brought countries together, this beer brings together ingredients from America, England, and Germany.

And now for my one (and only) complaint with Victory.  When you show up at their brewery, they list all of the beers on draft.  Great!  They also have a helpful book with pages on each beer, so you can make an informed decision on what beer(s) you want to drink.  Great!  However, the book doesn't have pages on over half the beers they have on draft, and has pages on things that aren't on draft.  Pain in the ass!  Please consider losing the useless books and printing a page each day with what's on draft.  Won't take much time, and will certainly give fans an easier way to figure out what to order.  Thanks!

Thing to Think About Today:
In the spirit of Victory, I present you with a song that was in heavy rotation for the tailgate last season - particularly the post game dance party.  All I Do is Win.  Ludacris throws a verse in, so you know it has to be good.

"My hands go up and down / just like strippers' booties go"

Friday, January 11, 2013

Day 398: 512 Brewing and Burning Up during Reentry

This five day work week is a bitch. I haven't worked one in more than a month and it is killing me. I feel like the Pig Pen character from Peanuts--only with paperclips, file folders, and pencils swirling off me instead of dirt and grime. There's also been a soundtrack of the implosion noise going off periodically as I realize how much work is on my to do list. 

Note to self: Start playing Powerball and become independently wealthy.

In more upbeat, fun news, I'm kicking off Texas Beer Week on the blog--or at least my half of the blog.
Tan head washed out thanks to an
overachieving flash on my Blackberry

I'm starting with 512 Brewing Company and their Pecan Porter. 512 Brewing is based in Austin and is pretty much only available in Texas. I had the pleasure of trying the Pecan Porter at Hopdoddy while vacationing in Austin last month. 

Pro-tip: Go to Hopdoddy and have a burger and fries. They are life-changing.

The Pecan porter poured a dark, dark brown and the light danced around the edges in one of the prettiest shades of brown I've ever seen in a beer. It had a thick, deep tan head. The smell was good and roasted. The flavor is predominantly nutty and chocolate. Lots of rich malt with a nice hopped finish.

Beer stats
Style: Porter
ABV: 6.5%
IBUs: Unknown
Rating: Great (poor, average, good, great, excellent)

Previously reviewed from 512 Brewing
This is the first review!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Don't Be Frightened (It's Only St. Louis)

Day #397 Tripel / Saint Louis Brewing Company, St. Louis, MO
Previously from this brewery:  All the Schlaflys

It's been another hectic day, but life has improved significantly since leaving the office.  Things are good, in fact, but I won't bore you with those details so I'll jump right into a beer.  Going back to St. Louis (figuratively, thankfully not literally) to pull another from the list of Schlafly products I drank during my recent stay.

Tonight's beer is the Tripel, a Belgian-style ale that poured a hazy apricot color with virtually no head.  There's a light aroma of biscuit and banana, and the taste has a ton of banana, clove, biscuit, and malt.  Not as much sweetness as I was expecting, but nothing unusual.  Truth be told, I think this was a good beer, but I should have drank some water to cleanse my palate, as I put down the Dry Hopped APA before sampling this one, and the bitterness was still lingering.  Would love to try another one some day (although preferably without the dystopian atmosphere of downtown St. Louis).
Hi there.
I have two more Schlafly reviews in reserve that I'll be breaking out throughout the month.  Check yourself.

Thing to Think About Today:
Tonight, I'm sharing a band and a song that have been stuck in my head all day.  Frightened Rabbit is an indie rock group from Scotland.  In fact, think of them as the Scottish version of Mumford and Sons.  Or even, the Scottish version of Mumford and Sons without the over priced concert tickets entirely bought by scalpers (kiss my ass, Live Nation!!!).  Here's the song I've been singing all day (although I don't know the words.... yet), Living In Colour.  They're playing in Philly on April 6.... who's in?  Anyone with me on this?

"Living in color, we're living in color / and even in the blackout, I know"

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Day 396: The One That Got Away (from you) at Tired Hands

If you are any where in southeastern Pennsylvania, you need to get yourself to Tired Hands Brewing Company. In fact, you need to get yourself to Tired Hands Brewing Company on a regular basis. Why, you ask? Because they are brewing some amazing beer, but in very limited quantities--twelve kegs at a time per their website. 

Their beers range from inspired saisons to great big IPAs that make you think you're imbibing on the West Coast. While they do have a few beers that are mainstays on their menu, most often I fall in love with the ones that are much more ephemeral.

Take Good Good Things for example. It's a sour IPA that I drank back on December 15. What I should have done is reviewed it straight away so you had a chance to experience it for yourself. Instead I got caught up in the beers of the moment in the days since then and now Good Good Things is a distant memory. Oh the difficult life of the beer blogger. But a quick review of what's up next at Tired Hands certainly doesn't disappoint. There's at least three beers on that list that I'm eager to try.

Good Good Things poured a very cloudy apricot color with a thick ecru head. The flavor is tart with lots of hops, the taste of pith and some nice lemon. The smell is earthy, a little funky. There is a solid sour sharpness to the flavor, which I loved and it has an intense hop bite at the finish. It kept getting me right at the back of my tongue.  There was also something very organic in the smell that I couldn't put my finger on. I wrote down bark in my notes. Good Good Things was definitely a winner in my book.

Beer stats Style: Sour IPA
ABV: 6.2%
IBUs: Unknown

Rating: Excellent

Previously reviewed from Tired Hands
Gary's review of Good Good Things
Gary's first visit to Tired Hands where he tried the Fripp and caught hell from me for not including me on the trip
My review of Trois Enfants with a side of wistful writing about my love of Philadelphia

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Bear-ly Getting this One Done

Beer #395 Black Bear Porter / Timber Creek Tab and Table, Meadville, PA
Previously from this brewery: Marci's review of Black Bear Porter

It's been a long day, and I am finally just getting to sit down in front of a computer and type.  I'll keep this brief, as I need to get caught up on some old episodes of Gossip Girl.  Don't hate; it's a sensational show.  The Chuck Bass character is an all-time great, and Leighton Meester goes in my Top 5 list without a doubt.

Up tonight is a glass of Black Bear Porter from Timber Creek Tap and Table.  Before I even sample this one, I can assure you this beer will be delicious.  Why the certainty, you ask?  Easy - this beer was given to me as a Christmas gift by a dear friend.  Beer makes a wonderful gift, people!!!  This beer is black, with fluffy tan head that settles down in time.  There's an aroma of lightly toasted malt, an the taste gives you notes of oatmeal, toasted malt, some mild bitterness, and a clean finish.  My kind of porter!
The Park's closed.
The bear out front should have told you.
Timber Creek has been open for less than a year, and already cranking out some great beers.  Next time I'm in Meadville (whenever that might be), I'd love to stop by to visit in person.

Thing to Think About Today:
In honor of bear named after a black bear, allow us to close things out tonight with some Black Sheep.  Close enough, right?  We're wrapping up with The Choice is Yours:  Good night, all.