Breweries "Visited"

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Sweet. No, Really.

Day #477 Le Freak / Green Flash Brewing Company, San Diego, CA
Previously from this brewery: Top 25 selection Rayon Vert, Palate Wrecker, Imperial IPA, Marci's sampler, and my sampler + a shoutout the greatest burger I've ever had.

Happy Easter to all my peoples!  For those not familiar, today is the day Jesus invented a bunny who goes around and hides eggs, and we all eat chocolate to celebrate.  Or.... something like that, I don't quite recall.  All kidding and super subtle jabs at religion aside, I do hope you get to spend the day with your loved ones, and I do hope you have some awesome candy working for you.  I currently wish I had jelly beans; preferably green and yellow ones.  Who wants to come and bring me an Easter basket?  Not everyone at once, please.

The beer for today is a bottle of Le Freak from one of my all time favorite breweries, Green Flash. This beer is crafted by merging two styles together, a Belgian Tripel and an Imperial IPA, to combine the best of Belgian yeast and American hops.  In the glass, this beer is a cloudy dark gold hue, with a thin edge of head. Your nose finds the aroma of citrus (orange, mostly) and yeast, and the taste balances a malt sweetness with a nice hop bite.  There are notes of lemon, yeast, grass, and some faint banana.  Really a fantastic beer, and one very well worth your time.  If you see this on the shelf, buy it immediately.
 Nice, crooked picture.  Typical.
And best of all?  This beer was a gift from a friend who brought home some big bottles from her recent trip to San Diego.  More on her contributions to come soon enough, but for now walk away with this important lesson: beer makes an awesome gift!!

Thing to Think About Today:
I do sincerely hope you got something sweet in your Easter baskets.  And if not, that's just fine because I'm sharing something sweet with you right here.  Matthew Sweet, and his early 90s hit I've Been Waiting.  Sweet!

"I didn't think I'd find you / Perfect in so many ways"

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Day 476: Spring (Evolution) Sprung Somewhere

Spring, you fickle creature. Taunting me with thousands of crocus in my yard. Daring me to wear a single layer on my ride this morning with your glorious sun. But no, you vixen, you rebuff my advances with that still too cold wind. You hide your daffodil buds in the most coy of manners. Alas I'll wait. Perhaps we'll meet next weekend.

Evolution Brewery's Sprung doesn't mess around. It's a hibiscus, chamomile, and honey ale.

It poured a copper color with very little head and what was there quickly disappeared. The aroma was nondescript, but the flavor was really good. Lots of tea. Very malty. A little floral thing happening. Not sure if that's the honey or the hibiscus. It's generally a pretty mild beer. Easy to drink and didn't disappoint on the flavors.

Beer stats
Style: Golden ale
ABV: 4.9%
IBUs: 14
Rating: Great

Previously reviewed from Evolution
His and her reviews of Menagerie #7 (Belgian strong dark ale)

Friday, March 29, 2013

Respect Your Elders

Day #475 Pliny the Elder / Russian River Brewing Company, Santa Rosa, CA
Previously from this brewery:  white whale Pliny the Younger, horizontal tasting of Supplication, sampler, and a sampler (keep in mind; the greatest sampler in the free world)

It's a Friday, and many of us have the day off (thanks, Jesus!).  I'm actually going in to work today, just to get caught up and hopefully ahead of next week.  Would much rather put in a few productive hours today than have to deal with an avalanche of work on Monday.  The sun is shining and the weekend is in front of us, and for that we should rejoice.

Digging into the archive for today's review.  On the same day that Teresa's Next Door tapped the elusive Pliny the Younger, they also put Pliny the Elder on tap.  A nice consolation prize for those who couldn't get there in time.  As I only managed to get one glass of Younger, I decided to hang around over a glass of Elder as well.  I've had this beer on a number of occasions before, and it never disappoints.  Poured into a tulip glass, this beer has a clear, bright copper color with a thin and slightly off white head.  It smells like a grapefruit bomb went off when you inhale, and when you take a sip you find ample hops; grassy notes, pine, pineapple, mango and grapefruit throughout.  Not much on the malt front, and that's just fine.  This beer has a bitter quality from start to finish, yet I also found it incredibly refreshing.  In my notes, I commented, "wish I was sitting outside."  Not sure if that was due to the bar being over crowded, the enjoyable nature of the beer, or perhaps a mix of both.
Hi there.
Pliny the Elder is named for the Roman philosopher who also dabbled in horticulture, as he apparently wrote about hops.  A key ingredient in double IPAs, for sure.  Like its harder to find brother Pliny the Younger, this should be considered a Top 25 beer, undoubtedly.

Thing to Think About Today:
In the spirit of honoring our "Elders", I'll close things out with something old; specifically, Old Crow Medicine Show singing Tell it To Me.  A lovely song about.... well... cocaine.  What, you were expecting the wildly more popular Wagon Wheel?  Already used that song; click the link if you want that to hear that one too.  Enjoy your Friday; I know I will!

"Drink your corn liquor / let the cocaine be..."

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Day 474: N'Ice Chouffe, I Just Had It Stuffed

I have no idea how to pronounce the name of this beer, but in my head, it sounds like "nice chuff". And anytime I hear "nice (blank)", this movie scene pops into my head.


Nice chuff, I just had it stuffed. Yup. Still sounds dirty.

N'Ice Chouffe is brewed by Brasserie d'Achouffe in Belgium. It is a Belgian strong dark ale brewed with spices--specifically thyme and curacao peel. It's a limited edition beer that is brewed once per year and I am pretty pleased I found it.

It reminded me of a winter warmer. It poured a reddish color and had a medium off white head. It smelled strongly of candi sugar with a hint of orange and a good pepper aroma. The flavor reminded me of crusty bread, very hearty. It had a hint of orange bitterness to it with lots of malt and dark fruits.

Beer stats
Style: Belgian strong dark ale
ABV: 10%
IBUs: Unknown
Rating: Excellent

Previously reviewed from Brasserie d'Achouffe
Mr. Blog Named Brew's musings on N'Ice Chouffe
His and hers reviews of La Chouffe

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Like the Wind

Day #473 Threadless IPA / Finch's Beer Company, Chicago, IL
Previously from this brewery: Golden Wing and more Golden Wing

I like the fact that spring is trying to return.  I mean, it's still very cool outside, but the sun is more or less out, and it feels more like spring than winter.  I'll take it.  Good day to go for a run, but I'm already sitting here staring at my laptop, so I guess maybe I'll go for that run another day.  It's the thought that counts, right?

Today's review is a beer I had on draft at the recently renovated TJ's not too long ago; the Threadless IPA from Finch's Beer Co.  It pours from the tap with an orange amber color and thick white head.  The aroma is hoppy, with plenty of pine and lemon.  When you take a sip, the taste is dry and earthy, with ample pine, lemon, and grapefruit.  Rather dry throughout, and overall a decent IPA worth your time if you find it near you.  Not the greatest IPA ever, but certainly not the worst.  And stop by TJ's when you get a chance to see the remodel.  Place looks like an awesome beer bar (which it is), and much less like an industrial sex dungeon, like it did before (sorry, but with the black walls it did).
Not as bad as most of my pics
The website for this brewery is a Facebook page.  Just saying.

Thing to Think About Today:
Recently, on the one nice day we've had so far this year, my neighbors started rocking out to yacht rock, and ever since I've been adding a ton of smooth late 70s/early 80s songs to my iPod.  Previously, you may have enjoyed some Yah Mo B There on these pages, and tonight I'm hitting you with Christopher Cross and Ride Like the Wind.  If anyone wants to go sailing on my yacht this summer, bring your Micheal McDonald and/or Christoper Cross cds and tons of champagne.  It will be glorious, and I'll see you at the dock.

"It is the night, my body's weak / I'm on the run, no time to sleep"

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Day 472: Lakefront Brewery's IBA

Event season is upon us and I am all worky-work, busy-bee. Let's cut to the chase and write about some beer. Tonight's beer of choice is Lakefront Brewery's IBA--an India-style black ale. 
The label tells me that Lakefront took their IPA and added dark roasted malts to create the IBA. It pours exactly the color one would expect from a black ale...reminiscent of cola. It had a thin tan head. The smell is piney hops and chocolate malt. The flavor is HOLY HOPS! Lots of piney resin with a bit of floral hops. There is hop flavor in this beer coming and going! If you ponder a sip long enough, you'll note some roasted malt. But I had to really think about it to find it. The hop flavors are very dominant. Overall I think it's a good beer--just not my style.

Beer stats
Style: India black ale
ABV: 6.5%
IBUs: 50
Rating: Good

Previously reviewed from Lakefront
Mr. Blog Named Brew's take on IBA and their pumpkin lager
I show some love for the pumpkin lager

Monday, March 25, 2013

Day 471: Starr Hill's The Love

I wanted to love The Love, but I don't. I wanted to love The Love for so many reasons--it was part of the one-sided beer exchange; it's called The Love; it's a hefeweizen. But alas, poor reader, it was not meant to be.

The Love poured a bright golden color with a thin white head. It had a tangy, wheat aroma. The flavor was lemon-tart with undertones of wheat bread. It's very effervescent. But I'm not getting the typical hefeweizen flavors of banana. There's no hints of bubblegum. No apple. Nothing typical of the style. Perhaps there's clove hidden in the spiciness that I noted in my scribblings. Overall The Love is The Dud.

Beer stats
Style: German hefeweizen
ABV: 4.6%
IBUs: 9
Rating: Average

Previously reviewed from Starr Hill
Mr. Blog Named Brew's thoughts on The Love
Shake Ya Ass and a Cryptical
Proof that I shouldn't make Godfather references and a Cryptical review from me

Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Day the Music Lived

Day #470 Commercial Suicide / Jester King Craft Brewery, Austin, TX
Previously from this brewery: More Commercial Suicide, Le Petite Prince (plus Revenge of the Nerds!) and more Le Petite Prince (sans Revenge of the Nerds)

Happy Sunday, my friends!  Big day today; spent an early morning getting my new iPod set up.  I may have mentioned earlier that after eight good years, the iPod died a quiet, peaceful death.  Music is important to me, and despite the fact there are no less than four other devices in the house that can access the cloud and play music, a new iPod is necessary.  Particularly so I can have music in my car and provide music to the masses at our legendary tailgates.  Thankfully I'm back in business, and happy as a result.

Beyond getting back into a groove, Sunday was good in other ways.  Spent time doing some important work, ran some errands, and now I'm watching basketball and enjoying a beer.  Could be better, I suppose, but I'll take it with a smile.

While I'm relaxing, I'll give you my review of today's beer, a bottle of Commercial Suicide from Jester King.  While pouring this one, it reminded me of pouring a cola; same color, plenty of carbonation, and a wispy bit of off-white head.  There is an aroma of oak and malt, and when you take a sip it's almost creamy, with barely toasted malt, vanilla, toffee and a earthy, nutty flavor.  There are very little hops and a clean finish.  This one was labeled as a oaked farmhouse mild, but comes across more as an English bitter that spent some time in a wine barrel (that makes sense; it did).  Incredibly interesting mix of flavors, particularly for such a low ABV (3.5%) beer.
Such creepy labels.  Soooo creepy.
Now that I've piqued your interest in this beer, I need to inform you that you're not likely to find too many more bottles of this, as it has been retired by the brewery and no longer produced.  Sorry, Charlie.

Thing to Think About Today:
As many of you know, and some of you have experienced, I like to create a new playlist for every tailgate I attend/host.  It can be a pain to try and mix things up every week, particularly considering some tailgates might be over ten hours long.  However, it's a labor of love, and in the spirit of love, I give you a tailgate song I love to add in to keep the party going.  What, you were expecting something other than I Think We're Alone Now by Tiffany?

"And so we're running just as fast as we can / Holding on to one another's hands"

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Birthday Parties and Car Rides

Day #469 Hopsecutioner / Terrapin Beer Company, Athens, GA
Previously from this brewery: my look at the Rye Pale Ale

Getting right down to business again today, people.  I was up late watching the NCAA tournament last night, and now I have a busy Saturday on deck - four hours in the car round trip, six year old nephew's birthday party.  I wonder if there will be pony rides at the party?  If there's a clown, I'm punching him in the face, because everyone knows that clowns are creepy.  I'll keep you posted.

Tonight's beer is the Hopsecutioner from Terrapin Beer.  This one was on draft at TJ's this week, where I stopped by for a beer post-shopping for a gift for the previously mentioned birthday party (hint: dinosaur toys!).   In the glass, this beer is a clear copper color with a thin, wispy white head.  The aroma is relatively mild, but you certainly find citrus and pine.  When you take a sip, there's more malt in there than I would expect for a beer named "Hopsecutioner."  Despite that, you do find a dry beer throughout, with a bitter finish and the expected citrus and pine flavors.  This beer was decent, but not great.  When I order an IPA, I expect a bit more oomph.  However, I would definitely try other offerings from this brewery in the future.
Not good picture?  Sure, why not?
Terrapin offers you a fun turtle logo, and in this crazy craft beer world, you do need to stand out in a crowd on the shelves.

Things to Think About Today:
Road trip today + fascination with yacht rock lately X  nothing else more memorable or relevant coming to mind here at the moment = Billy Ocean and Get Out of My Dreams, Get Into My Car.  Regardless, I do hope you're having a good Saturday, and don't get in cars with strangers.  Unless they're Billy Ocean, in which case it's totally cool.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Day 468: Jester King Commercial Suicide

In one of the worst examples of trip planning, I traveled all the way to Austin to explore the craft beer scene and managed to be there every day except those when Jester King Craft Brewery was open. Lesson learned. Know the beer laws. Use the Internet. Won't make that mistake twice.

Today's beer is Jester King's Commercial Suicide--an oaked farmhouse mild. The label tells me that it's suitable for vegetarians and of the odder things I've read on a beer label.
It poured a bright chocolate brown around the edges with medium tan head. The scent was roast coffee and chocolate with a hint of anise. After taking a good sip, I said, "That does a lot of stuff in your mouth." After Mr. Blog Named Brew picked himself up off the floor after nearly dying from a fit of laughter, he said, "Wow. That's unusual." The flavor is smoked. It has a surprisingly thin mouthfeel. Very low level of hop bite but it's in there. It reminded me of those days long ago when putting a torn off piece of loose-leaf paper on your tongue seemed like a good idea...if that piece of paper also spent some time around a fireplace. That is praise, surprisingly enough, when one enjoys a good rauchbier. While not billed at all as a rauchbier, this one was a winner in my book.

Beer stats
Style: English dark mild ale
ABV: 3.5%
IBUs: Unknown
Rating: Great

Previously reviewed from Jester King
His and hers reviews of Petite Prince

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Beer and Wine(house)

Day #467 IBA / Lakefront Brewery,  Milwaukee, WI
Previously from this brewery: all about the Pumpkin Lager and the Pumpkin Lager

Hustle day and a road trip day, so I'm getting right down to business here.  Your review for the day is the IBA, an India-style black ale from Lakefront Brewery.  When you pour it, you get an almost dark chocolate color, with a thin off white head.  Aroma of lightly toasted malts and a touch of hops.  When you drink it down, you find more of the same; lightly toasted malts, some hop bitterness on the otherwise clean finish, and hints of citrus and pine hiding under the surface.  It's an interesting take on an IPA, although not one I'm likely to seek out too often.

"Black" beers have become all the rage lately, as brewers work to incorporate more roasted/toasted malt into their products to jazz things up.  Hell, even Anheuser-Busch rolled out a Black Lager this year (not that I intend to ever drink that unless I've been captured by enemy forces and they're forcing me to drink one as a form of cruel and unusual torture).  I appreciate brewers being adventurous and looking for ways to continue pushing the envelope, but I'm just not on board with "black" beers right now.  Sorry.
Eye B A.  Get it?
I have been to Milwaukee, but only as a stop on a business trip.  Looking forward to visiting one day.

Thing to Think About Today:
Song I heard on the radio today doesn't quite describe my feelings on this beer, but You Know I'm No Good deserves some recognition.  Hopefully you enjoy, because I do always worry about your enjoyment, dear readers.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Day 466: Two Brothers' Cane & Ebel

Typos and consistency errors physically pain me. Is that strange? If I find an error in one of my posts on this blog--no matter how innocuous or how long ago--I die a thousand deaths. OK. I have a problem. I need help.

Tonight's beer review features Cane & Ebel, which is brewed by Two Brothers Brewing Company. As you can tell from the photo, I found it at TJ's
Eventually I'll fix this photo. My computer currently
hates me and won't actually save any changes.
Cane & Ebel is a red rye ale. It poured a cola color with a good tan head. There was immense amounts of sticky lacing all down my glass. The smell was pine hops, rye, and green bell peppers. This isn't the first beer review that I wrote that includes peppers; see proof in my review of Stone's Vertical Epic ale.The flavor was green vegetables and grass with lots of hop. It's also kind of sweet but sharp in flavor with the rye.

The description of this beer on Two Brothers' beer page is awesome: Dry, but with a creamy touch of Thai palm sugar and the spicy tang of rye, all balanced by loads of the wackiest new hops we could lay our hands on. Yep, it's an original. And that's no sin.

Beer stats
Style: Red rye ale
ABV: 7%
IBUs: 68
Rating: Excellent

Previously reviewed beer from Two Brothers
A collaboration between Two Brothers and Brasserie Castelain, Diversey and Lill(e)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Price Isn't Right

Day 465 The Love / Starr Hill Brewery, Charlottesville, VA
Previously from this brewery: Crypitcal, and Cryptical (with Mystikal)

Back in the saddle for another blog post!  Worked from home this morning, which is always a hit or miss option for me.  On one hand, I'm not running to meeting after meeting after meeting (my typical day), so I can actually sit at my laptop and get some work done.  On the other hand, it's super easy for me to get distracted and not actually do any work.  I did refrain from watching The Price is Right today, but only because I'm an old school Bob Barker guy.  I like what I like, and Drew Carey doesn't do it for me.  So, good news for my productivity, I suppose.

Today's review is The Love, a wheat beer from Starr Hill Brewery in Virginia.  This beer has a hazy light gold color, with virtually no head.  There's a light aroma with grain and lemony citrus, and the taste has some sweetness and lemon, along with notes of grain and grass.  Not the greatest wheat beer in the world, but I suppose it's suitable if you happen to find one in front of you.  I think if you name your beer The Love, I expect it to be...  I don't know... better?  Sexier?  More.... committed?  Something.
Could be more lovely.
Thing to Think About Today:
While I didn't love this beer, if you name your beer The Love, we're going to get something love related.  Specifically, the wonderfully talented Florence Welch (+ the Machine) singing You've Got the Love.  I'm not certain, but I think she when she references the love, she means the deep, passionate, emotional state of being, and not the beer I just reviewed.  Hey, it still works.  Enjoy, my friends, and hopefully you have a good evening!

"Now and then it seems that life is just too much / But you've got the love I need to see me through"

Monday, March 18, 2013

Day 464: Another Day, Another Jolly Pumpkin Beer

Here's some honest sharing. For a couple of months last year, I wasn't happy. Nothing was inherently wrong with my world--I just wasn't comfortable in it. I self-analyzed. I pondered. I had no answers. Then I ran into a few random inspirational quotations on a number of my favorite blogs. Something about them started nudging me in the right direction and I got my head straight. 

This was one of them and I just encountered it again. I know someone who needs it. I hope they read my post today.
Choose to be optimistic. It feels better.
                                                          -- Dalai Lama

And if optimism doesn't work, then check out a new beer. Today's beer is the Jolly Pumpkin E.S. Bam, an extra special bam biere. If I'm interpreting the label correctly, it's extra special thanks to more malts and more hops. 

This saison or farmhouse ale pours with a thick head that left a craggy landscape behind. It has a yeasty tang in the nose--funky and sharp. The flavor is strong on the hops...bright...grassy. Lots of citrus pith flavor. Very bold. There's also something very refreshing--maybe where I'm pulling the bright adjective from--but I can't quite put my finger on it. There's also the typical farmhouse spice.

Beer stats
Style: Farmhouse ale/saison
ABV: 4.7%
IBUs:  Unknown
Rating: Great

Previously reviewed from Jolly Pumpkin
His and her reviews of La Roja
My review of Luciernaga from a Jolly Pumpkin bender
Gary's review of E.S. Bam
My review of Madrugada Obscura and some crazy lady ranting about St. Patrick's Day
Gary actually has tried all the Bam bieres

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Ahab vs. the White Whale

Day #463  Pliny the Younger / Russian River Brewing Company, Santa Rosa, CA
Previously from this brewery: all the Supplication, a huge sampler, another huge sampler

It's Sunday, which means yoga and errands, and hopefully some quiet time to relax before the work week begins again.  Seeing how I have some free time this afternoon, allow me to spin a yarn about a white whale I recently hunted down.

There are a number of rare beers in the craft beer kingdom that inspire fanaticism, devotion, and dogged pursuit from loyal fans.  Usually, these beers are only produced once a year (or often less frequently than that), have exceptionally limited amounts available, and quite frankly, are delicious in ways ordinary beers - even ordinary craft beers - just can't compete with.  Like the un-catchable white whale from Moby-Dick, beers like these can drive you mad in their pursuit.

One of the most famous annually available white whale beers is the mythical Pliny the Younger, from Russian River Brewing Company.  As you may recall, Russian River was the winner of my Brewery of the Year award from the 366 challenge, so you know whatever they produce is going to be liquid gold.  Released every February in extraordinarily limited quantities, Pliny the Younger is a rare near-Triple IPA.  I had been watching Twitter and Facebook for a few weeks to see if and when TJ's or Teresa's Next Door would tap their keg.  Fortune was on my side, as I received notice and was able to cut out of work immediately to race to TND in enough time to get my pour; within 75 minutes, their supply was wiped out.

In the glass, this beer is a bright, clear dark copper color.  Your nose is greeted with a blast of grapefruit and pine aromas - right off the bat you know this beer means business.  When you take a sip, there's ample citrus fruit, although you pick up grapefruit most frequently.  It's dry and bitter throughout, but the bitterness definitely roars up in the finish.  I'm sure there's some malt in there somewhere, but clearly it's cowering in fear from the hop goodness and citrus warmth.  This beer tastes incredibly fresh and "green," as if it was just sitting outside on a spring day, with a warm, pleasing breeze blowing through.

Pliny the Younger is a potent 10.5% ABV, but that alcohol is well hidden behind the amazing taste.  Perhaps it's a good thing I was only able to get one on draft.
Blurry and hard to see, just like a photo
of the equally reclusive Bigfoot!
Many bars in the Philly area had a line out the door and around the corner on the day they tapped this beer.  I can't say that I would stand in line for many things these days at my advanced age, not even beer.  Is it worth all the fuss?  Is it worth the insanity?  As I was standing in an obscenely over-crowded Teresa's Next Door at 3pm on a random Wednesday, it struck me that I was experiencing what moms must have felt back in the 80s when they were beating each other up in shopping malls to get their hands on Cabbage Patch Kids dolls.  It doesn't make much sense, all the chaos for something that probably doesn't warrant that level of insanity.  Make no mistake, this beer is wonderful and definitely in my Top 25, but will I go on the search again next year to hunt like a craft beer version of Captain Ahab, doomed to sail the world in search of a Triple IPA Moby Dick?  Time will tell.  Who knows where I'll be or what I'll be doing next February, after all.  Might be on a whaling boat for all I know.

Thing to Think About Today:
I've already shared my fondness for Moby-Dick in this space, and I've also shared what unfortunately happens to beached whales every now and again.  In the continued consideration of whales, let's wrap up with indie band Freelance Whales and their song, Generator ^ First Floor.  They remind me of a mellower Mumford & Sons with a xylophone, if you're into that sort of thing.  Check it out....

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Day 462: Victory Swing Session

Evidently session beers are my thing this week because I find myself enjoying another one in so many days.

Today's beer is from Victory Brewing Company. It's the Swing--a session saison. Now that's a style that's new to me!

It poured a hazy golden color with a thick white head. I could smell it from several paces away from the glass. Up close it was lemony and spicy. The taste is like a hopped up saison. It starts smooth with some grain notes, then some citrus, mostly lemon, with pepper. It finishes with a citrus-pith bitterness. Overall a very interesting beer and quite quaffable.

Beer stats
Style: Saison
ABV: 4.5%
IBUs: Unknown
Rating: Good

Previously reviewed from Victory
Gary's review of Swing
His and her takes on Hundred Horse Ale
Gary's review of NATO IPA
My attempt to drink all the Victory beer
Gary's second post ever (V12)

Friday, March 15, 2013

Ray of Sunshine

Day #461 Rayon Vert / Green Flash Brewing Company, San Diego, CA
Previously from this brewery: Imperial IPA (complete with Lego Star Wars), Palate Wrecker, a sampler, and Linchpin IPA

Congratulations!  We've made it to another weekend, thankfully all in one piece.  It's been a stressful week in the office, but I think a nice, quiet, relaxing Friday afternoon should help me unwind.  It's good to unwind.  Plus, a beer never hurt the unwinding process, right?

Because it's Friday, you're probably not going to read this (although you should!), so I'll keep it simple with one of my go-to beers, Rayon Vert from Green Flash Brewing.  In the glass, this pours a bright yet hazy dark yellow color, with an enormous white fluffy head.  The aroma is a wonderful mix of citrus and bread, and when you take a sip you find a delightful combination of Brettanomyces funk, lemon and orange, biscuit and bread, peppery spice, and just the right bit of bitterness.  A wonderful beer, and one that lands in my Top 25 without a doubt.  Find this and try one for yourself - but be prepared for the giant head to form in your glass.
Tastes better than this picture looks
Green Flash recently announced they're opening an East Coast brewery in Virginia Beach, VA.  Thanks for not picking Chester County, PA, jerks.....

Thing to Think About Today:
In honor of Rayon Vert, we focus on the Ray.  Prepare yourselves for some Ray Charles and Van Morrison on the ever so wonderful Crazy Love.  Hope you all had a pleasant Friday....

"And when I come to her, that's where I belong...."

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Beer 460: Full Sail Session

I'm fascinated by the phenomenon in which you hear or read about something that at the time sounds so obscure but which insinuates itself throughout your waking life.

For example, on Sunday Gary was changing the lightbulb in our porch light and heard our neighbor blasting Yah Mo B by James Ingram and Michael McDonald. He tells me about it when I arrive home, but it was odd enough for him that he wrote a post about yacht rock. Not having the savant-like repertoire of music knowledge like Mr. Blog Named Brew, I had to ask for a definition. Instance one and two of yacht rock references. Fast forward to Tuesday when I'm driving home and one of my preset radio stations plays a couple of yacht rock songs. Number three. Fast forward to tonight when there's an entire show dedicated to yacht rock on another station that I just happen to be listening to. Instance four.

Strange, but true.

This is known as Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon. Trust me, my writing about it is going to cause it to pop up several times in your life during the next few days or weeks. The definition is simple: It's when one happens upon some obscure piece of information--often an unfamiliar word or name--and soon afterwards encounters the same subject again, often repeatedly. Anytime the phrase “That’s so weird, I just heard about that the other day” would be appropriate, the utterer is hip-deep in Baader-Meinhof.

Is the phenomenon all in our minds? Could be. Our brains have an amazing ability to recognize patterns--a key to learning. But what causes a particular pattern to stand out amongst all the other patterns we encounter on a daily basis? Why don't we log all the beginnings of sequences and note more patterns. It seems to be the relative obscureness of the pattern that signals to your brain, "Hey! Pay attention to me!" Interesting, huh?

I thought I was onto another instance of Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon this past week when I was inundated by information about a new set of session beers from Full Sail Brewing in Oregon and then ended up at a BYOB dinner where one of the beers of choice was Full Sail Session Black lager. I think that was just a coincidence.

It comes in a fantastic chubby little 11 oz. bottle and pours a cola color with a light tan head. It has a strong chocolate malt smell with lots of roastiness. The flavor is best described as a chocolate lager. It has a full roasted malt flavor with a thin mouthfeel. More sips revealed a definite lager-ness to it. There was a strong grain flavor and it reminded me of a stout but not quite a stout. It's a wildly different beer that I really enjoyed.

Beer stats
Style: Black lager
ABV: 5.4%
IBUs:  18
Rating: Good

Previously reviewed from Full Sail
Gary's yacht rock / Session lager review

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Lighten Up, Francis

Day #459 Swing Session Saison / Victory Brewing Company, Downingtown, PA
Previously from this brewery: Let's see.... Hundred Horses, another Hundred Horses, NATO IPA, V-12, and a sampler.

There's a new Pope today, and his name is Francis.  If you're like me, and perhaps you are, you can't hear the name Francis without thinking of the movie Stripes, and this wonderful scene where we're introduced to Francis:

From here going forward, I defy you to hear the name Francis and not think, "lighten up, Francis."  Something tells me I'll hear about something draconian the Pope does or says to drag the world back towards the 15th century, and I'll be saying those exact words very soon.

Enough silliness, let's talk beer.  Tonight I'm reviewing Swing Session Saison by Victory.  In my trusty Gary Coleman pint glass, this beer has a pale and ever so slightly hazy gold color with a wispy white head. There are aromas of grain and pepper, and the taste is quite refreshing.  Light, with a nice bit of peppery spice, hints of citrus, and a barely there touch of hop bitterness.  This beer is fantastic, and in my mind it tastes like summer.  Quite frankly, summer can't get here soon enough.  Maybe drinking this beer will encourage warmer weather to hurry up?
Beer is always better in my Gary Coleman glass
I also recently grabbed two bottles of White Monkey, Victory's delicious Golden Monkey aged in white wine barrels.  More on that later...

Thing to Think About Today:
Well, I can't tease you with a scene from Stripes without dropping in a bit more here at the end.  Great movie with Bill Murray in his prime, tons of great quotable lines.  Hopefully the new Pope doesn't have to go through "ARMY TRAINING, SIR!"

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Day 458: Baladin Wayan and That Dog

This dog, man. 
This is the face that waits for me to get in bed every night. He sits on my side warming my spot, then he moves over and cuddles like it is his job.


Tonight's beer is the Baladin Wayan--a sour beer, a.k.a. my favorite kind of beer. OK, total correction here. Wayan is listed on both Baladin's website and Beer Advocate as being a saison. Strange. It was decidedly sour and was advertised as such. A sour saison? Indeed.

It poured a bright copper color with a thin white head. It had a light funk in the nose but there was also an underlying floral almost fruity scent. The flavor lived somewhere at the intersection of light sweetness and tart. It reminded me of fresh lemons and biscuits. It finished nice and dry--leaving me wanting more.

Here is the description from Baladin's translated website: It comes from a mixture of cereals, barley, spelt, wheat and evokes memories of sunny fields and orchards that with their scents blend well with its hints of orange blossom, pear and bergamot. Crisp and very refreshing, golden color load is slightly turbid, sometimes opalescent.

What I thought was an interesting beer is now even more interesting.

Beer stats
Style: Saison
ABV: 5.8%
IBUs: 8
Rating: Great

Previously reviewed from Baladin:
I nearly drop some bodies after Blogger steals my post about Nora, an Egyptian ale. Am I right, Snoop?
Gary's review of Super, a Belgian strong pale ale

Monday, March 11, 2013

Boat Drinks!

Day #457 Session Lager / Full Sail Brewery, Hood River, OR 
Previously from this brewery: First out the limo!

I'm getting right down to business.  I'm a businessman.  Tonight's beer is a bottle of Session Lager from Full Sail in Oregon.  This beer is among the greatest beers ever.  Why?  Because it was a gift from a friend.  Give your friends beer, and they'll love you forever.  Poured out of a stubby 11oz bottle, this beer is a clear, bright gold color with virtually no head.  You get an slight aroma of sweet malt and grain, and when you take a sip you find a flavorful, yet easy drinking beer that has notes of malt and hops, grains, and something close to popcorn.  As the name suggests, this is a session beer and has a low ABV (5.1%), good flavor, and isn't overly complex, which means you can drink a number of these in the course of a day.  This beer will definitely make a tailgate appearance this summer.
This picture was taken outside. SPRING TIME, YO!
During my trip to Oregon last summer, I made it up to Cascade Locks, which is only about 20 miles away from this brewery.  Should have taken a longer road trip, but even without visiting Hood River, I can assure you this part of the country is as beautiful as anything you'll find in America.  Stop by if you're ever near Portland.

Thing to Think About Today:
Somebody follow me: Full Sail makes me think of boats.  Boats makes me think of the boat life.  The boat life makes me think of yacht rock.  Yacht rock!  I'll pause here: for those of you who don't have a yacht, yacht rock can be categorized as the easy listening music popular from the late 70's to mid 80's.  You know, that smooth, chill vibe you'd expect to want to listen to while cruising the bay on your yacht.  If you close your eyes and picture the 80's, I'm pretty sure you see yacht rock videos in your head.

Well, it just so happens my neighbors were in the mood for some yacht rock this weekend, as evidenced by their blaring of Yah Mo B There by James Ingram and the yacht rock God, Michael McDonald.  Now, I get that it was a bright, sunny spring Sunday.  I'm just not sure what was happening in their yard/house/driveway that made them want to fire up this song.  However, it brought a smile to my face, so I guess I'm not really complaining.  If anyone has a yacht and wants me to bring the Session Lager.... call me.  I'll "mo b there."

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Day 456: Twin Lakes Brewing

The beer of the day is Greenville Pale Ale from Twin Lakes Brewing Company in Greenville, Delaware. I had it onsite at the brewery during a day of tomfoolery and beer in Delaware back in January. The brewery tour given by Ken--and I would be remiss if I didn't mention his enthusiastic and incredibly helpful wife Kathy--was one of the best tours I've ever been on. The brewery is a tiny operation on a historic property in Delaware, but the tour last about two hours and I wasn't bored for a moment on it.

Honestly if it lasted any longer, I'm pretty sure Mr. Blog Named Brew would have scrubbed in and started operating the canning line!
And you have to love a tour that include an ever flowing supply of beer samples.

The Greenville Pale Ale poured a light shade of copper with a wispy off white head that quickly disappeared.

The smell is nice and light with some mildly fruity hops. It drinks with a nice, full mouthfeel. It's brewed with whole flower Cascade hops and American two-row barley malt. It has a good balance between the malts and hops and the finish leaves you with a great pine hoppiness. This is an incredibly easy to drink beer. If you ever encounter it, I recommend you try it.

Beer stats
Style: American pale ale
ABV: 5.5%
IBUs: 52
Rating: Good

Previously reviewed from Twin Lakes
Two reviews from the Mr., Greenville Pale Ale and Caesar Rodney Golden Ale

Friday, March 8, 2013

N'Ice and Smooth

Day #455 N'Ice Chouffe / Brasserie D'Achouffe, Achouffe, Belgium
Previously from this brewery: La Chouffe (and the Swedish Chef), and La Chouffe (and Chaka Demus & Pliers...?)

It's a Saturday, which of course explains why I'm up at 6am.  One day, I'll figure out how to sleep in properly.  One day.  Instead, I'm using my early start to take advantage of some quiet time to finish up a blog post I started last night, so I can spend the morning doing some form of exercise, and then spend the afternoon at work.  Gotta do what you gotta do!

Tonight's beer is N'Ice Chouffe, which isn't an adjective but instead a noun.  Please note N'Ice isn't the name of some up and coming rapper or a cough drop.  No, N'Ice is a Belgian strong dark ale from Brasserie d'Achouffe.  This beer has a dark mahogany color with an off-white head that lingers.  Big aromas of sweet, bready malt greet you, and when you take a sip you find a ton of candi sugar, bread, some underlying citrus and dark fruit, and hints of spice.  Really nice beer, definitely something I'd drink again in the future.
Awful picture? Check.
At 10% ABV, this may help take the edge off your stressful Friday nights.  But apparently not enough to make you sleep past 6am on a Saturday (your results may vary).

Thing to Think About Today:
I'll keep it simple and drop in exactly what you expect to see on a day where I'm drinking N'Ice - some Vanilla Ice.  Yo, VIP... let's kick it!  N'Ice, N'Ice baby.....

"Girls were hot wearing less than bikinis...."

Day 454: Bear Republic and Bad Ideas

I'm at an event last week and I walk over to a table to hear, "This is the one with the beer blog." Definitely not the average introduction and I like to be different. It turns out that I was about to make friends with fellow beer geeks. It also turns out that one of the said beer geeks had a mixed case of beer in his car and I was offered a chance to rifle though it for new-to-me beers. 

Chit chat ensues. Beers are drank. We revisit the notion of that mixed case of beer. I'm fairly certain that if she were still alive, my mother would be horrified that I ventured into a parking garage at night with two men that I just met twenty minutes earlier. And yet after a hearty, "Are we doing this?" from Kelli, I threw caution to the wind, grabbed my keys and headed off. Typically beer exchanges aren't one so one-sided and I'll admit a certain level of discomfort without having any beer to offer in return. 
Trippy evidence of me caught in the act
courtesy of Kelli!
But I did score three new-to-me beers and provided a certain level of entertainment when I had a six pack holder at the ready in the trunk of my car. Thank yous were shared and I headed back to the event although I'll admit the entire time I was debating what to take, I felt like the new girl at a swingers party. I wasn't quite sure what to do.

One of the beers from that night is the Red Rocket from Bear Republic, a bastardized scottish ale per the label. It poured a deep amber color with a thin off-white head. It smells of malt, bread and hops. The flavor is rich, with caramel and fruit, and lots of fruity hops. It left lots of lacing behind and also had a hoppy after taste. 

Beer stats
Style: Scottish ale
ABV: 6.8%
IBUs: 67
Rating: Great

Previously reviewed from Bear Republic
Gary shares a wealth of bear photos and puns in his review of Wet Hopped Wild Racer 5
My review of Peter Brown Ale

Thursday, March 7, 2013

To the Left, to the Left

Beer #453 400 Pound Monkey / Left Hand Brewing Company, Longmont, CO
Previously from this brewery: Marci loves their Milk Stout, my take on Sawtooth Ale

I'm a bit tied up today with some important business tonight, so I'm going to get right to work.  Today's beer review is the 400 Pound Monkey from Left Hand Brewing.  In the glass, this English pale ale has a dark gold hue, with a thin head.  If you stick your nose in the glass (as I do for every beer I drink, apparently), you pick up a rich malty aroma.  When you take a sip (I always do that too), you get a perfect balance of bready malt and bitter hops, with plenty of floral notes, caramel, and mild citrus.  Look, I love hop heavy beers as much as the next guy, but secretly I think I prefer ESBs and English pale ales for the wonderful job they do blending malt and hops together for a dynamic flavor experience.  This imposing sounding beer (not quite as mean as an 800 lb gorilla, but still pretty bad ass) is actually quite mellow.  Don't let the name scare you, you can drink this one without fear.
Monkey Man
Dearest Left Hand Brewing Company,
When I visited, I purchased the glass this beer ended up being poured into.  But I also stole the Milk Stout pint glass my beer came in, and for this I apologize.  To make up for it, I will continue to buy more of your beer.  I'm all about keeping it honest and talking about what's lurking in my mind, you see.  Good for the soul.
Affectionately yours,
This Guy

Thing to Think About Today:
Most days, I find a creative way to tie in the name of the beer or brewery to the post.  I like to think of it a as a creative bit of punctuation at the end of every post.  Some days I need to stretch and really ask you to make a leap to put things together, and some days I can't find anything to tie together.  Today is not one of those days.  You see, this beer is just begging for Monkey Man by the Rolling Stones.  Have a good Thursday, my friends.

"I always have an unmade bed, don't you?"

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Day 452: The Flemish Comma?

I've been slowly coming around to supporting the concept of the Oxford comma. For years, I was anti-Oxford comma. I like a clean page and in fulfilling my desire to have as little extraneous material on a page, the Oxford comma had to go. 

Sidebar: What is an Oxford comma? Maybe you've heard of the serial comma. No? The Oxford--or serial or even Harvard comma--clarifies the meaning of a sentence when the items in a list are not single words. The Oxford Dictionary website used this sentence as an exemplar.

These items are available in black and white, red and yellow, and blue and green.
(The Oxford comma appears after yellow.)

How does Oxford factor into the name? The Oxford University Press, of course! I also believe a far superior illustration of the Oxford comma is represented by this image:

And now you know why I'm now on board with the Oxford comma. I declared my new found passion for it most appropriately on National Grammar Day, which was March 4th. 

And if you don't think comma placement is important, check out the second tweet below. Why no--I don't have time to kill Badger fans. You go to jail for that sort of thing!

And with that, it's time for beer. This one was found at Teresa's Next Door in Wayne (Pennsylvania). 

Surly Bird is a wild ale from de Proef Brouwerij in Belgium. I believe its proper name is de Proef Flemish Primitive. It poured a hazy, deep gold color with very little head. It had aromas of mild funk. The flavor has a lot going on...a mild sourness, a bit of earthy honey and a slightly stronger taste of wine barrels (white wine, if you're curious). It was very nuanced and I want to use the term delicate to describe it. It wasn't light by any means--I'd describe the mouthfeel as medium-bodied. It was absolutely delicious and fun to drink.

Beer stats
Style: Wild ale
ABV: 9%
IBUs: Unknown
Rating: Excellent

Previously reviewed from de Proef (note that most of these are collaborations)
Reinaert Wild Ale, Beer and Ball Gowns (guess who wrote that one!)
Gary's review of Surly Bird
I geek out about a Hair of the Dog homonym

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Gary vs. Facebook (It Might Get Ugly)

Beer #451 La Nove / Birrificio L'Olmaia, Siena, Italy
Previously from this brewery: First one!

Dearest Facebook,
I hope this message finds you well.  I would sincerely like to punch you in the throat; repeatedly and violently if at all possible.  Please unfuck your current nonsense at your earliest convenience, because it's negatively impacting my satisfaction right now.
Faithfully yours,
This Guy

I freely admit I like Facebook.  It lets me do one stop shopping to catch up on the happenings of my family and friends, see some pictures, get links to interesting articles, play Words With Friends, and just stay connected to life in general.  Look, I'm just not the guy who has the time or desire to call up all of my friends and see what they're doing.  Too much work.  A quick glance at the internet here and there and I'm good.

We all have the same complaints about Facebook, so I'm really not breaking any new ground here if I gripe about the nonsense you have to wade through to enjoy the site.  I mean, we all have those friends who over share.  I don't mind them over sharing somewhat unimportant things, but I do mind when they completely over share absolutely useless nonsense.  If you're that person, allow me to break some news to you:
1. Just because I didn't "like" the picture of a cancer survior I don't know doesn't mean I support cancer.  It just means that me hitting the 'like' button isn't going to cure cancer.  Is there still someone out in the world there who doesn't know how much cancer sucks?
2. I don't care what you have for breakfast every morning, but here you are updating your status AGAIN to let everyone in on what you eat for every meal.  Can you just summarize at week end?
3. I don't fucking care how many squares you see (or don't see) in the picture.
4. I'm not an imbecile, so yes, yes I can in fact think of a town in Pennsylvania without the letter 'E' in its name.  Really not that hard at all.
4. No, your link to whatever left/right wing group with proof that Obama is a terrorist/Romney kills poor old people will actually NEVER get me to subscribe to your political ideology.

This doesn't mean I don't like you and don't want to see some of what's happening in your world.  Therefore, I take full and complete advantage of the "hide" feature, where I can choose to subscribe to some of your posts, some of your updates, all of your posts, or (don't hate me) NONE of your nonsense.  It has made Facebook much, much more enjoyable.  Look, if you don't want to see my links to beer reviews, but you think I post awesome pictures from the 90's thanks to my scanner, you can fix this to your liking!  You won't hurt my feelings, trust me.


Except that today, for some unknown reason, Facebook has decided to reset ALL of my carefully curated selections on what I see and from whom and when.  My Facebook today was an explosion of crap; an electronic Mt. Vesuvius covering my screen in nonsense and killing all the things I do want to see in its path of wanton destruction.  Every time I try to reset my preferred settings, Facebook ignores it like a six year old ignoring their mom when it's time to put the bike away and do homework.  "Just five more minutes, Mom, and then I'll come inside," said Facebook, as it pedaled a tiny bicycle away, laughing as it thinks it got away with some big scam.

Is this happening to anyone else?  Did I do something to piss off Mark Zuckerberg I'm not aware of?  If someone knows how to fix this so that my choices stay fixed, I will award you some fabulous prize and be forever in your (Facebook) debt.  I'm serious.  I know how to change the settings, but they won't stay changed.  And clearly I need help.

Perhaps a beer will help get my blood pressure back down to a more non-life threatening number.  Tonight I'm going with a beer I had last night with dinner.  I don't usually venture into the city on a school night, but a trip to Alla Spina makes it worthwhile.  My beer for the night was La Nove from Birrificio L'Olmaia in Italy.  In the glass, this beer had a dark amber hue, with a lingering white head.  The aroma was light, but had notes of citrus.  The taste had a nice mix of bitterness balanced with some caramel malt.  Not overly hoppy, despite being described as a hoppy Belgian ale.  Definitely enjoyable and refreshing, although next time I'm there I may not order a beer that costs as much as my entree.
Told you I was at Alla Spina
This brewery can be found about two hours north of Rome, in case you happen to be in the neighborhood.  And the name of the beer means The Nine in English, if you want something to talk about when you get there.

Thing to Think About Today:
Clearly we're thinking about friends here, and clearly Facebook has selected "No" on the note I sent in class today asking if it will be my friend.  In the spirit of this unfortunate development, I present to you the Dandy Warhols singing We Used to Be Friends.  I'm out of here....

"Come on now honey / Bring it on, bring it on, yeah"