Thursday, January 29, 2015

I'm not wild about dessert beers. But my girlfriend isn't wild about beer in general. So, when she expresses an interest in any craft beer, I'm always happy to buy a bottle with the hopes that we'll find something she likes. She said that she thought that Southern Tier's Creme Brulee Stout sounded yummy, so I got us a bottle. It was, for us, an ideal beer; she loved it, and I liked it a lot more than I usually like the sweet stouts.

This stout pours dark brown to black, and the thin head fades to a rim with just a little bit of lace left in the glass. The aroma was boozy, with butterscotch, vanilla, rum, and raisin notes coming through strong. The flavor was sweet, but even boozier than the aroma (not really any surprise at almost 10% ABV). The flavor added bitter notes, coffee and licorice to the aroma, and the finish was surprisingly strong. Dessert beers sometimes wear out their welcome with me. This one didn't. My girlfriend and I ended up competing to finish this off. There haven't been a lot of beers that she and I both thoroughly enjoy, but Creme Brulee Stout by Southern Tier made us both happy.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Sierra Nevada Coffee Stout is not that different from Sierra Nevada's regular stout, but that isn't a bad thing. It pours dark brown to black, the head is thin. The aroma is like Sierra Nevada stout, but heavier on the coffee grounds quality, plus some anise. It smells great. The coffee in the flavor mostly comes through in the aftertaste, on the exhale. This is a beer I like more with each sip, and I was reluctant to finish the last of the three I had from a mixed twelve pack. I hated to see the last one go, but I sure enjoyed getting rid of it.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Sierra Nevada's Harvest Wild Hop IPA is fantastic beer. It pours bright, clear and golden, with a splotchy head that leaves persistent lace. The aroma is pine, citrus, apples and something like white wine in the background. The flavor is much more bitter and astringent than the sweet notes on the aroma imply. Sticky, sharp pine quality dominates, followed with pepper and a very musty malt. I'd think this beer could be billed as a double IPA, and it might be if it didn't have a fairly restrained ABV (only 6.5%). Yet another limited edition Sierra Nevada beer that deserves to be sold year round, and in six-packs or twelve-packs. It's a shame that it won't be.

Friday, January 16, 2015

The Blue Moon Belgian style ales are the only beers that Miller/Coors makes that I enjoy, and Mountain Abbey is probably the best of the bunch. This seasonal ale pours a deep orange/brown color and the brief head fades quickly. There is a little bit of holiday spice on the aroma, some ginger, some orange peel. The flavor adds cinnamon, wheat malt, and Belgian yeast. I'd drink this again.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Nebuchadnezzar, a double IPA by the Swedish brewery Omnipollo, is the best beer I have had in a year. This is everything I hope for in an IPA, and it compares favorably to Green Flash's Palate Wrecker and my favorite Stone Brewery offerings. Nebuchadnezzar pours a somewhat hazy tangerine color with a lot of foam. The aroma is very strong, pungent citrus. Pineapple. Lemongrass. The aroma indicates no real balance in the flavor, and the taste is blissfully, brutally bitter. There is a little bit of cereal malt on the front of the tongue, but it doesn't last long. Sledgehammer herbal and citrus hops hit on the swallow, and the bitter twist in the finish is clean and bright. Not the first hint of the 8.5% IPA in the bouquet or on the tongue. This is as imperial as imperial gets.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

This is the first year I've thought about a personal top ten albums list in a while, mostly because 2014 was the first year in a long time when there were at least ten albums that I really do like. In fact, in my opinion, 2014 was probably the best year for music in more than ten years. I actually had a hard time narrowing this list down to just ten albums. For whatever it's worth, here are the ten albums that owned my iPod in 2014:

Number Ten
The War On Drugs: Lost In The Dream

I didn't know anything about The War On Drugs when the critics started talking about how good their most recent album is. I paid little attention, most of the hipster bands that the critics praise these days end up boring me. But my son told me that this album was something I'd actually enjoy, so I gave it a listen on Amazon Prime. I was surprised at how much I liked it, mostly because of it's retro sound. There is a lot on this album that reminds me of alt-rock from the '80's, which is right up my alley. I've ended up listening to this album quite a lot.

Number Nine
John Fullbright: Songs

Fullbright's 2012 debut, From The Ground Up, is easily the best album by anyone that has come out so far this decade. You're not gonna find a better set of immaculately written, perfectly performed songs anywhere. His 2014 follow-up, Songs, is not as good, but it's still a damn fine album. It's almost entirely made up of ballads, so it doesn't have the variety of the debut, and doesn't feel as complete. But, damn, what good ballads these songs are. Fullbright is a master at turning out simple, addictive, pure melodies, and he's the best lyricist of the current crop. This guy writes songs that sound like they should have been around for fifty years. That's just rock-solid talent, right there.