Friday, January 31, 2014

Trader Jose Dark Premium Beer, from Trader Joe's, pours translucent brown, like iced pekoe tea. It smells like boiled cabbage. And, it tastes like any cheap, mass produced adjunct lager, filtered through charcoal. This is piss.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Boulevard's Sixth Glass is a Belgian Quad style ale. It pours amber with a fair amount of foam and some spotty lace. The aroma is malt and raisins and graham crackers, and a lot of boozy heat. This thing doesn’t hide it’s big-ass 10.5% ABV at all. It tastes good, though. It opens clean, then a big, sweet malt hits the tongue. Some boozy burn at the end. This beer is nowhere near as good as the real stuff, Rochefort 10 or St Bernardus 12. But I’ve had plenty of American beers made in the Belgian quad tradition that where nowhere near this good.

Friday, January 24, 2014

I paid a dollar for a bottle of Black Toad Dark Ale in a make-your-own six-pack at Trader Joe's. I think it was worth the dollar, but I probably won't buy it again. It pours dark brown with little foam, the aroma is a muted malt, and there is a mild hoppy tingle on the tongue. The taste is a dark-bread, mellow malt. There is a slight hop tingle in the finish and a slightly synthetic aftertaste. All in all this beer isn't bad, but there are far better beers just about as cheap at Trader Joe's.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

For the money, you can't do a lot better than the store brand beers at Trader Joe's, and a six-pack of Stockyard Oatmeal Stout is as good as any six-dollar six-pack you'll find anywhere. This beer pours chocolate brown with a crackling, foamy head. There isn't a lot going on in the nose, but I did pick up on a little something like espresso. I love oatmeal stouts for their chewy, filling body, but I have to say this one is light and crisp compared to my favorites of the style. In terms of body, this is more like a Guinness or even a Murphy's Irish stout. The flavor does close with a rich cereal malt, though, and some chocolate. I had a glass of this with a slice of carrot cake and I didn't have a complaint in the world.

Avery's Hog Heaven is a delicious, highly hopped up barley wine. The color is mahogany and there’s a fair amount of head and lace, and the aroma is strong and layered. I picked up on a lot of malt and hops and spice, but also figs, ginger, apples. The flavor includes a rich, caramel sweetness over all and through the finish. And there were other notes that popped up here and there; sweet potatoes, pralines, pineapple. The hoppy burn at the end was a nice bonus, and the +9% ABV was tucked away cleanly. The label says you can cellar it for three years, but this thing isn't aggressive at all. Drink it now.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

DC Brau's Penn Quarter Porter pours dark brown with a gigantic, creamy head. The aroma is strong, rich, dark chocolate on top of strong, rich, dark chocolate. The flavor is just more of that chocolate, and a little nutmeg. The malt is more smooth than roasty; more porter than stout, to my taste. Which might be why this is billed as a porter rather than a stout, of course. It’s delicious, but so rich that it gets a little old by the end of the glass. This would be a great beer to share with someone as a dessert.

I like Samuel Adams Rebel IPA. I had this on tap at Buffalow Wild Wings and I thought it went well with wings. It has a clear, amber body with a medium head and a lot of lace. There is a lot of grapefruit in the aroma, and a little rye. Lots of citrus and pine in the flavor atop a mellow malt, and a crisp burn on the back end. Sam Adams brews are hit or miss with me. This is one I'd have at BWW again.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Dogfish Head Sixty One is an IPA brewed with grape must. It pours an amber or ruby red with little head or lace. The aroma is something like 60 Minute IPA with a slight, sweet, vaguely artificial grape thing in the background. The flavor is not bad, but this thing is front loaded. You get a big burst of hops and a little fruit on the front of the tongue, but it finishes like water. There's just nothing going on at the swallow and nothing lingers in the nose or on the tongue. It isn't a particularly bad beer, it just isn't much of a beer.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Victory's double IPA, DirtWolf, was the IPA hype of the year for 2013. In my opinion, it's good ... but it's just one more good IPA. It pours bright and crisp lemon yellow with average head/lace. The aroma is pineapple and dirty socks, which is nice if you enjoy a tangy/dank combo. The flavor is strong west coast hops. People talk about hop complexity with this one, but I don't get it. It's all west coast. It's good, don't get me wrong. Citrus, pine, and a breakfast grain malt. I'd drink it again, but it isn't in the same league as Stone's Ruination, Bell's Two Hearted Ale, Avery's Maharaja, Troeg's Nugget Nectar, Hoppin' Frog's Hop Dam, Russian River's Pliney the Elder, and most definitely not as good as Stone's delicious Enjoy By regular offering.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

My buddy +Chris Clement sent me this bottle of Firestone Walker's 2013 Sucaba barley wine some time ago, and suggested I cellar it a little while to calm the heat a bit. Chris, I waited as long as I could, and tonight was the night.

Great God, what a wonderful, delicious beer. This bottle from last year's brewing of Sucaba is the best barley wine I’ve ever had, and the best beer of any kind that I've had in more than a year. I'm gonna need to stretch out a little bit to review this thing.

Sucaba is wonderful in every way a beer can be wonderful. It's just a joy for the senses. It pours with a lot of color and body, holding the glass to the light reveals deep, warm blood-red and cherry, with plum or bronze when the light hits the edges of the glass just right. There’s no real head, and at almost 13.5% alcohol, I didn’t expect a lot of suds.

The aroma is nose music. Cherries and figs, ginger, chocolate, and something in there reminds me of granny’s cornbread (maybe the highest compliment I’ve ever given a beer). And what this beer does for the mouth is even better than the smell. I’m not a wine guy, let me say that up front; I like my alcohol to be malt based. But this brew reminds me of the few red wines I’ve enjoyed. It’s rich, smokey, very, very full and warm. I picked up on strong chocolate, anise, espresso, English walnuts, and a little burnt popcorn thing, too. There’s something that reminds me of Nutella in the close, after the swallow and exhale. It’s so complex, but all of it blending and harmonizing perfectly.

Barley wine can be sticky, viscous, and that’s the quality about the style that I enjoy least. Sucaba has a big mouthfeel, but it slides away smoothly and leaves you to ponder the last sip and crave the next, in much the same way that my favorite Belgian quads finish.

I wanted to give Sucaba a chance to spar a little bit, so I paired some of it with some bleu cheese and almonds, and although it didn't amaze me in that paring, it did hold it's own. I'd bet that red meat or chocolate cake would show off what it can do a little more. You know that old saw about beer being proof that God loves us? God loves us gloriously.

This is my new "eyes wide open" beer. I'll be looking for it, and every bottle of Sucaba I find will be purchased, aged, and lusted after until the time is right to pop the cap.

Maybe I should stop reviewing pilsners. The style is delicate, maybe even slight, and I never really find much to respond to. That was my experience with Starr Hill's Pils. It wasn't awful. It was bright yellow with little head. There was a slight bananas and grain character to the aroma, like a hefeweizen might have. A little malt in the flavor, slight bitter twist in the finish of the sip. A bit medicinal, though. It wasn't awful, but I didn't really enjoy it.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Great Dvide Titan IPA is a bright but slightly hazy looking orange with little head or lace. The aroma is pine and citrus hops and buttery malt. The hops are aggressive up front on the tongue, and the taste finishes rich, strong and sweet. This is a very good IPA.