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Beer Blotter’s Guide To Brouwer’s Big Wood Fest 2010

December 1, 2010 4 comments

Can't miss.

If you live in the Seattle area and you like beer enough to read this blog, chances are pretty good that you will be hitting up Big Wood Fest at Brouwer’s Cafe, if not on opening night (Thursday Dec. 2), at some point this coming weekend. Hopefully you have already gazed upon the outstanding preliminary list which can be found on our site here and on Brouwer’s blog.

Clearly, there’s a lot of options to chose from, and all of us, most unfortunately, only have one measly liver to assist us in tackling them.  This is where we come in.  We drink a lot of beer.  We have been to BWF several times now. If you want to make sure that you order your barrel aged beers wisely, heed our advice.  We don’t think that you will be disappointed.

I’ve decided to choose my top 15.  These are the beers that I plan to sample, based on the current list.  It’s my game plan.  I know what you are thinking, and yes, I actually do think that I can try 15 beers.  When bb.com goes to big beer events at Brouwer’s, where there is never a cover, we make sure to roll deep.  We bring out as many friends as possible, we direct them on what to order, and then we drink their beers (of course we let them drink ours too).  Always be sure to order the smallest size that is offered, every time.  These events are all about getting your hands, and tastes buds, on as many special and rare beers as possible.

This list is, as always with Brouwer’s events, subject to change because it is very likely that the final list will include a few eye-popping secrets.  This year I’m hoping to see a few more special Hair of the Dog beers, more vintage Bottleworks Anniversary beers like barrel aged Ivan the Terrible, and maybe some more killer locals like Petite Mort from Black Raven or some Big Time treats.

 

15. People’s Barrel Reserve – Brouwer’s has started a little trend in the past few years with bringing in some Midwest offerings that are rarely, if ever seen in WA.  Last year we were graced with Stoudt’s (PA represent!) Barrel Aged Fat Dog and some absolutely insane Founder’s beer.  I think it was a maple barrel aged Breakfast Stout or KBS.  Dunno but is was bonkers!  If this is the People’s Brewing Co. from IN, then this is a beer that you will most likely not see in Seattle for a very long time to come.  Why not give it a whack?

 

14. Skagit Oak Aged Gospel – Gospel is an IPA.  I had to have at least one IPA on this list, and I’m proud to support SRB.  You might remember reading us gush about the Bourbon Barrel Reverend at Hop Fest.  If this one is even close to as good we are in for a treat.  Brewer Mike Armstrong is an amazing guy and an amazing brewer.  He almost always attends these event on opening day so seek him out and shake his manly brewer hand.

 

13. Snipes ??? – What will it be?  My guess, Twangzister, their barrel aged sour cherry stout.  If I’m right, this beer deserves to be much higher on the list, but I can’t just go around making bold moves on pure speculation now can I?  I do feel confident putting this on my list either way, because Chris Miller makes amazing beer, some of the best in the state.

 

12. Cascade ??? – Those erotemes could easily read “Barrel Aged Bile” and I would still order it, yes…mostly because I wouldn’t believe that it was actually bile, but also because Cascade shits gold.  Hand me any Cascade beer, any time, any day, and I will love you forever.  Just get this, please.

 

11. Boundary Bay Imperial Oaked Oatmeal Stout – BBB Impy Oatmeal Stout is, like their Imperial IPA, a beer that I can never see and not order.  It’s just so smooth and dark and mysterious.  An oak aged version…shut the f…ront door!  Purchased! Beer Blotter couldn’t heart a brewery more than we heart Boundary Bay.

 

10. Hale’s Rye Whiskey Aged Imperial Stout – Ok, I admit it, I rarely recommend a Hale’s beer in my festival previews.  It’s not at all because I have a problem with the brewery, in fact, I’m a fan.  The things that they do with that hopback of theirs really impress me… but this is not an IPA…  What excites me about this one?  Well, it’s quite simple actually – when I see the words “Rye” and Whiskey” and “Imperial” and “Stout” all lined up in order like that, it’s such a thrilling sight that I absolutely must participate.  Yeah, I’ll be trying this one.

 

9. Stone Lucky 13 – According to Brouwer’s twitter/facebook, this is a blend of Arrogant Bastard, Oaked Bastard, and Double Bastard.  I guess that would make this aka Lukcy Basartd (yeah, that’s how they spell it).  Despite the fact that I don’t particularly like any of those three beers (I know, I’m pure freak), I’m really intrigued.  This is a one time, limited release from Stone, so give it some rare points.

 

8. Port Townsend Maple’s Best BBN Imperial Stout – PTB has always been a great brewery, but lately it seems that they have really been stepping up their game.  I have a personal rule, if I see a PTB beer on tap that isn’t one of their standard offerings, I will never let it pass me by.  I think you should have the same rule.  In this particular case, you had me with impy stout, and then you really rubbed in it with the maple.  Gimme.

 

7. Midnight Sun Beserker – MSB makes a lot of really sick beers that rarely make it out of AK.  Berserker is one that was bottled and came to Seattle in a very, very limited supply.  I only have a bottle in the cellar because DSR and Jess were in the right place at the right time and they hooked it up.  I think all that I really need to do to sell you on this one is to tell you the description… it’s a 12.7% imperial stout brewed with molasses and maple syrup and aged in oak.  Game over.

 

6. The Bruery Three French Hens – I was fairly recently informed that bottles of Partridge in a Pear Tree (the first in their 12 Days/Years of Christmas Series) were going for nearly $300 on ebay.  Ever since, I’ve gone to great lengths to find and procure each new release in the series.  The cellar is caught up, but you better believe that I’m not going to crack one for another 9 years, that is if I don’t just sell the set and retire young.  This will be my chance to actually try one, and you better believe I’m going to take it.

 

5. Hotd Matt – Just in case you had a brain aneurysm in the past few seconds, HotD stands for Hair of the Dog, and it’s in all three members of Beer Blotter’s top 10 breweries in the world list.  Alan Sprints is beer royalty.  We love Matt, which was specially brewed for the owner’s of Brouwer’s/Bottleworks for Bottlework’s tenth anniversary.  It’s sour, and like every beer from this Portland brewery, it’s fantastic.  We are very hopeful that this is not the only HotD on the taplist come Thursday, but if it is, we will never complain, because we just savored Matt (the beer, not the person, but hey Matt(s)…call me).

 

4. The Bruery Coton – I know, I’m sort of obsessed with The Bruery, but god damn it they deserve my obsession!  Coton is The Bruery’s second anniversary beer and it’s basically a blend of oak barrel aged Papier (their first anniversary beer) and a new, un-aged brew of Papier, which is an old ale.  When I bought a bottle of Papier in ’09 I thought it was a little overpriced, but Coton is probably the most expensive “new” beer I have ever bought.  Get it on tap, if for no other reason than the fact that it will be slightly more affordable.  Oh yeah, also because old ales are amazing and their version is beyond amazing, and very rare.

 

3. New Belgium Sour Blackberry Whiskey – So I’m not 100% sure of this, but some mild research has lent me to believe that this is NBB’s Love (true lambic, foeder #3, blended into La Folie & Le Terroir, insanely, amazingly good, amazed that it’s made in America and not Belgium…), transferred into whiskey barrels and aged with blackberries.  If I’m right, this might be the greatest beer on Earth.  Again, speculation, blah, blah…

 

2. Firestone Walker 14 – Like far too many beers, I went to great lengths to get this beer in the bottle and could only afford one, so I have it but have never had it, if you know what I mean.  DSR and Jess had it during SD Beer Week and said it blew their collective mind.  If I went into what this beer consisted of here…well…this article would take a lot longer to read than it has already taken you.  Just check out this post by the good people over at beernews.org and salivate yourself into a puddle.

 

1. Russian River Deviation – HAHA!  Wow…where to start.  Ok Tim, try to keep it together… Every time that I see this beer on tap at Brouwer’s I treat it like it’s the last time I’ll ever have it.  Deep inside I know that that isn’t really true, because I have a bottle in my cellar that I bought on the day that it came out in ’08, but who knows, my house could burn down some day or global warming could scorch the Earth’s crust and it could boil itself undrinkable.  I consider that bottle to be the most valuable bottle of beer that I currently own.  Yeah that whole Partridge in a Pear Tree thing, if it’s true, might prove me wrong, but there’s more to it than monetary value alone. 

Deviation is the best Russian River beer that I have ever had (and that puts it very high on my all time list, if not at the top).  Also, Bottleworks periodically pulls some out of their cellar and sells it for nearly $100 a bottle.  I think I bought it for $15.  This beer is the epitome of rare and the epitome of mind-blowingly delicious.  Please, don’t order this so that I can drink it all, that is, if it really does still exist…

 

Terrible

 

The Good, The Not So Good and The Awesome from Pumpkin Beer Fest 2010

Pumpkin beers @ Elysian's Great Pumpkin Beer Fest 2010

As soon as I flipped my calendar to October, I immediately began to have thoughts of pumpkin beers. The countdown began to the weekend of October 16 and Elysian Brewing Co.’s Great Pumpkin Beer Fest. High profile names were released a couple of weeks before the event- Russian River, Jolly Pumpkin, Avery and Allagash. I could barely contain myself as thoughts of pumpkins danced in my head.

Pumpkin beers are an interesting breed. I find that people are disappointed when the beer doesn’t ooze pumpkin flavor. Although the juice of this large gourd does tickle my taste buds, I find the balance of spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg and all spice just as tantalizing. Pumpkin beers are experimental and open for innovative interpretation which is why this particular beer fest is one I cannot miss.

Dick Cantwell, head brewer and owner of Elysian Brewing Co. is at the forefront of pumpkin beers. Not only does Dick host this event at his brewery’s Capital Hill location, he brews not one but eight (or more) pumpkin beers for this special weekend.

Elysian Pumpkin beers:

Night Owl Pumpkin Ale, The Great Pumpkin, Dark o’ the Moon Pumpkin Stout, Hansel & Gretel Ginger Pumpkin Pilsner, Kaiser Kurbis Pumpkin Hefeweizen, PK-47 Pumpkin Malt Liquor, Jack-O-Bite and Mr. Yuck Sour Pumpkin Ale

Enough introduction, the time has come and gone. We have enjoyed, tasted and conquered all that is the Great Pumpkin Beer Fest. There were beers to remember, beers that didn’t live up to our expectations, glorious weather and hassles of space. The Good,The Not So Good and The Awesome of Elysian’s 6th Annual Great Pumpkin Beer Fest:

The Good

     

  • The event takes place outside and today it was sunny and crisp out. Elysian was decorated with mounds of hay, pumpkins and corn stalks. If this doesn’t put you in a festive autumn mood, then there is something seriously wrong with you. SERIOUSLY.
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  • The taster glass is a 4 oz (glass) snifter with an evil pumpkin face. This creative glassware is coveted by beer fest goers all around Seattle.
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  • Beers from all over the country: California, Michigan, Delaware, Massachusetts, Washington and more!
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  • Silver City’s Punk Rauchen - a pumpkin rauchbier where instead of smoking the barley like a traditional German style rauchbier they smoked pumpkins for 6 hours over apple-wood. This beer tastes like sausage, as most rauchbiers do, but also has an earthy smoothness that I attribute to the pumpkins.
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  • Snipes Mountain Pumpkin Death Stout- first of all, I am really into Snipes Brewing Co. and think they produce only top-notch beers. This is no exception. I always get excited when I see pumpkin infused stouts because I love stouts and I am always curious to see if the brewer is able to bring the pumpkin flavors and spices to the forefront of a style that is already overwhelmed with roasted malt flavors. Pumpkins do not inherently have a lot of flavor and here, in the Pumpkin Death Stout it is minimal. The beer however is very enjoyable, smooth and creamy.
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  • Elysian Brewing Co.’s Jack-O-Bite- we were pleasantly surprised by this beer which is  a pumpkin ale aged in Jack Daniels barrels. This beer had a bite and lived up to its name. It had warming qualities and the spices were reminiscent of a winter ale. Delicious.
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The Not So Good

     

  • Planning  a huge event is no easy task. Debriefing is proactive and there is always room for improvement. We hope that the Great Pumpkin Beer Fest will someday celebrate its 25th Annual fest. The Great Pumpkin Fest has outgrown the parking lot of the brewery. Within 30 minutes of opening the flood gates, there was barely room to stand. Problem solver: expand to all three Elysian venues, although this might complicate the logistics, it would spread the crowd. Another option would be to expand to the park across the street or to some other space that is connected to the brewery.
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  • Long lines-Due to the large number of people, there were very long lines to get your beers. Although these lines moved rather quickly, the lines, no matter what station, were around 30 people deep. A lot of people I spoke to would just get a beer and get back on line for the next one on their list. Problem solver: Instead of having 1 person pouring 2-4 beers, have 2-3 people pouring at each station. People love to volunteer to pour at events- tap into these willing beer lovers.
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  • Confusion about what line led to what station. Due to the small space, lines crossed each other and merged into the masses. I found myself accidentally waiting on line for the wrong station on a couple of occasions. This would be alleviated by the two suggestions above.
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  • No food outside. Now, I understand that it would be too much to staff the outside area.  Problem Solver: Instead of sending wait staff out to take and deliver orders, hire an outside vendor. Something simple will do, such as a sausage stand or roasted corn.  People are there for the beer, not food necessarily. However, it would be nice to stay outside, enjoying the fest while getting something in your stomach, especially because the inside was packed full of people sitting and enjoying their meal.

The Awesome

 

Besides the Good and the few tiny Not So Goods, there are some AWESOMES! Please note: all of the awesomeness are beer related. I did not get to try all of the beers, as I am only human and not all of the beers were pouring during my visit.

  • Elysian’s Great Pumpkin- If you recall earlier in this article when I discuss the average beer drinker’s expectations of pumpkin beers having an easily detected pumpkin flavor, well this is the beer that hits it out of the park. One sip and its as though you are drinking pumpkin juice. It isn’t very sweet, it is slightly bitter, thick in texture and pumpkin to the core. No wonder this festival is named after the beer (or vice versa).


    The beers provided all of the awesome highlights!

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  • Iron Hill’s Bruce Camp Ale- their Imperial Pumpkin Ale aged in bourbon barrels was my introduction to this Pennsylvania brewery and man, am I impressed. Caramel in color with a bubble gum, sweet liquor scent. The thick mouth-feel creates a sensation as if there are sugar crystals are melting into your taste buds. As the flavor profile develops, the bourbon sweetness transitions into a slight funk. As the beer warms, the transition become smoother, just like a stiff bourbon drink.
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  • Russian River’s Pumpkin Sour- As I crossed the threshold into the pouring area, I quickly scanned the signs for Russian River. A quintessential Vinny sour with a citrus scent, it tasted like Temptation infused with spices. The sourness was bold and the spices complemented the citrus tartness.
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  • Jolly Pumpkin’s La Parcela- this sour beer aged in American oak with added coco was more earthy than tart (I generally expect more tartness from a sour ale. The smell was hypnotic with a combination of cinnamon and apples warming my soul. A smooth body with mellow flavors that begin to intensify as the sip develops. A harvest spice paired with earthy flavors followed by a subtle sweetness.
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What a great day– one that will go down in infamy. There were unexpected breweries that produced exemplary beers, weather was on our side (for once) and the love of beer in the air was palpable.

 

Pick The Best of the NW In The Northwest Brewing News Reader’s Choice Poll

The Man, the myth. Chris Cavanaugh (Photo: ElysianBrewing.com

The Northwest Brewing News has rolled out its annual Reader’s Choice Poll – its time to vote. The Brewing News is a national brewing publication, severed into seven regional publications. Our good friend Geoff Kaiser writes for the Northwest edition, when he’s not manning the ship at Seattle Beer News.

Every year, the Brewing News holds a poll asking its readers to select the very best in the Northwest. Categories for best brewery, brewpub, bar, beer store, home brew shop and perhaps the most heated category – best bartender – are divided state by state. You may vote on the best Northwest beer for each style, as well.

When going through this poll, we noticed that we hit a few stumbling blocks. How do you pick between Hair of the Dog & Cascade Brewing? Is Uber Tavern a better place to grab a beer than The Dray? What the heck is down in Northern California? Don’t be ashamed to have to Rate Beer yourself a group of candidates, as long as you have actually experienced the pub, brewery or beer you intend to choose. But, if you are stuck – let us recommend a few:

 

Best Imperial IPA

 

Even with heavyweights like Russian River, Hopworks, Walking Man and Midnight Sun in the mix, and with Washington rising stars Boundary Bay and Port Townsend making their own cases – there can still be only one choice for us. Black Raven’s Wisdom Seeker licked the competition at Brouwers Hopfest. We have no reservations about this choice.

 

Best Strong Ale

 

The Northwest has always somewhat lacked in the big beer categories. But, there is no doubt that one strong ale has dominated the Northwest for many year – Hair of the Dog’s Fred. Alan Sprints has been making this beer for ages. If you have a vintage bottle laying around, you know what makes this complex ale so special. Vote with confidence.

 

Best Sour Beer

 

For years, I would probably have said that Russian River had this category killed with Consecration. But after recently tasting Cascade Brewing’s Noyeaux, I have reservations. Noyeaux was recently described in a post by our very own Timperial Stout. Check this one out before you mark down one of Russian River’s excellent choices.

 

Best NorCal Brewpub

 

We pushed Russian River out of the competition above, but here they take the cake. Backed by unprecedented selection and incredible beer food – there is no better place to grab a collection of beer and a delicious meal.

 

Best Washington Brewery

 

Some would say Boundary Bay has the history and fanfare to deserve this award. Some would say that Black Raven is the young gun that should take the title. We don’t disagree, but lets consider a 3rd choice – Snipes Mountain Brewing? You might think we are crazy but the Sunnyside, Washington brewer has been turning heads. Just about everything that brewer Chris Miller has put out of late, has shocked and awed. Food for thought.

 

Best Washington Bartender

 

Wow, we have some great bartenders up here in Seattle. We have a ton of love for Rachel up at Naked City, Natasha at The Dray and certainly Amy, down at Collins Pub. These three wonderful ladies have excellent beer IQs and care about their patrons. This gives them serious consideration.

But, to find someone who can advise, entertain, and take excellent care of you, all without being a giant asshole – priceless. Chris Cavanaugh is that guy. Chris can be found at three, count them, three amazing beer spots in Seattle. Once a fixture at Brouwers Cafe, Chris had to leave to tackle cancer. Once he returned to the bar, Chris grabbed spots at Elysian Brewing (Capitol Hill), The Stumbling Monk, and time behind the bar at Brouwers Cafe. There is one reason that he is at these three places – everyone loves him! Chris will give you great attention, wonderful advice, and excellent entertainment. Not once have we ever heard one person dislike him. Vote for this man.

So take a stab at the poll and let your voice be heard! You can access the poll by following this link. Got any other suggestions for choices, please post them in the comments below.

 

The Hop Brief: Dogfish Head Craft Brewed Ales’s Burton Baton

Dogfish Head Burton Baton

Enjoyed on 9/30/2010

Brewery: Dogfish Head Craft Brewed Ales

Location: Milton, DE

Beer: Burton Baton

Web: http://www.dogfish.com/

Presentation: 12 oz. – Brown Glass Bottle – Capped

Vintage: 2010

Style: American Style Imperial India Pale Ale blended with an English Old Ale

Barrel: Oak

ABV: 10.0%

IBU: 70

Hops: Warrior, Glacier

Malt: N/A

Commercial Description:

This is a blended beer that we’ve been brewing for the past several years and it’s recently been gaining in popularity.

For Burton Baton we first brew two ‘threads’ or batches of beer: an English-style Old Ale and an Imperial IPA. After fermenting the separate beers in our stainless tanks, the two are transferred and blended together in one of our large oak tanks. Burton Baton sits on the wood for about a month.

When enjoying the Burton Baton, you’ll find an awesome blend of the citrus notes from Northwestern hops melding with woody, vanilla notes from the oak. The wood also tends to mellow the 10% of the beer – so tread cautiously!

Beer Advocate: A- (4.13)

Rate Beer: 98 (3.74)

Timperial’s Notes:

When I had this beer at Brouwer’s Hopfest I had forgotten how delicious it was.  If you saw our review of said fest here, you probably noticed that it was our second favorite out of everything we tried, which was nearly 40 hopped up brews.  It would be wrong of me to say that I’m surprised, after all, DFH is a force to be reckoned with.  One can only fantasize about how those results could have been effected were 120 Minute IPA involved.  Honestly, I don’t think that it would have mattered, at least for me.  Never-the-less, ever since my re-discovery of the Baton, I have been unable to mosey past it in the bottleshops without grabbing one.

When you break this beer down to its core elements, it’s quite clear that Sam Calagione stepped into my psyche, rummaged around a bit, and popped out with a beer manifesto perfectly penned to make my knees wobble.  I am gaga about old ales, gonzo about imperial IPAs and gung-ho about wood aged beers.  Have your read my review of Great Divide‘s Hibernation, or my review of Russian River‘s Pliny the Elder?  If you have, you probably got a sense of my intense passion for the styles.  To blend the two, well, leave it to Sam to come up with that one.  Yes, maybe it happens more than I know.  Possibly, breweries do it and don’t advertise it as such.  If they do, they should inform me and me only.  I’ll keep that little nugget in the vault and acquire my fair share of the congenial cocktail for continued consumption.

If you haven’t done it already, I would highly recommend going to the Burton Baton page on the DFH website and watching the video of Sam describing the beer.  The most interesting part is being able to see the wood vat that the beer ages in.  It’s pretty epic.

A standard pour conjured a respectable head that rose like an ominous yellowish-white fog about an inch above the liquid.  It took about 5 minutes to settle down to a thin foam and ring.  The lacing is impressive, a dense slathering of porous paint on the inside of the glass.  I gentle swirling of the brew causes the transparency of the glass to wither.  The fluid itself is of a mysterious, cloudy amber hue that seems to vary from murky pond water brown to bright sunrise orange depending on the angle you hold it to the light.

The scent perplexes the mind with its unfathomable depth.  I know not where to begin… The initial moment my nose hit the scent, I thought the wrong beer was in the bottle.  There seemed to be coffee and cocoa emanating…from an IPA?  As it warms just slightly, those notes seem to fade to the peripherals.  Somewhere between then and when it’s warm enough to fully and properly experience, there are strong shots of lemon, blood orange, pine, and sweet baking doughs.  The booze can be sensed early after the pour.  Low temperatures do nothing to hide the 10%.  It’s surprisingly medicinal, or nearly petroleum like with potency.  To call this balanced in the nose is almost laughable.  I mean yes, there is a gargantuan helping of lupulin here, and the gods themselves where heavy-handed with the malt bill, but to use the word balance seems to place some sort of neutrality tag on a beer that is far too massive to even fit on known scales.  This is a beer for warriors, for Vikings, for kings of men.  Wait, I haven’t even smelled it at proper temp yet let alone tasted it.

As it warms a bit more, a medicinal, syrupy hop quality really dominates, but all the while drizzled upon sweet buns hot out of the oven, soaked in rum.  Sometimes granny gets a little nuts in the kitchen.  Even more warmth leaves only the malt backbone and a nose hair singeing alcohol.

The mouthfeel is just as the smell would suggest, slick with sugars and minimal with effervescence.  In this case, that’s what’s appropriate, and points are won for consistency.  The words that I want to use to describe the flavors are bouncing around my head faster than I can collect them.  The most striking of all is the re-emergence of what was inhaled at the very onset.  Coffee?  Again, I thought this was an IPA, and no, not a Cascadian dark version.  Yes, there is some tinge of brown in the color, and lest we not forget the old ale swimming in our midst, but roasted malts?  Clearly, nothing is off-limits for DFH.

The sweetness factor alone is multifaceted.  I get a slight bubble gum quality along with the baked sweets.  There is caramelized, near burnt sugar, which seems to play with the coffee and the hop bitterness to make a valiant attempt at blotting up the salivary glands.  There are moments when my palette is left feeling chalky dry, but inevitably, the sugar cascade reigns supreme.  No matter the juxtaposition in precipitants as I swallow, there is an undeniable need for more sips.  Though, I must admit, that desire for more is mostly beset on the intrigue factor – intrigue for what happens before the swallow, to greater understand the ever emerging nuances in flavor.

And I mustn’t dare leave out the hops.  Sure, they are in there – the piney, citrus aromas, the battling bitterness units… there is no mistake that this is a strong IPA, but the overall hop profile seems to lie in more of a supporting role.  If you told me there was hop extract in this beer I wouldn’t bat an eyelash.  There just isn’t enough room for the hop to substantially play on my taste buds.  I couldn’t even begin to contemplate the varieties used, let alone where they may sit in the addition schedule.  Does that hurt the score?  Well, maybe to a very finite degree, but like I said, this is an IPA and there is no question about that.  For the malt profile to be so brutally steadfast and for the ‘IPA’ moniker to still be obvious, how could one hold issue?

The aftertaste is the only flaw I can find here, but believe me, I’m stretching.  The “burnt” flavors seem to latch on with the most strength after the fluid has passed.  It’s a deep flavor that tells of the darker malts and the conditions of the wood that once housed the brew, or so I assume.  99% of the time, the byproduct of these elements brings me to my knees with delight.  Here, I’m forlorn.  For me, it’s not too different from being offered a fine cigar…or a Tom Waits album.  I so badly want to have the experience enlighten me, but sadly,  I just wasn’t built for it.  I was, however, built for hop candy, and this is one of the supreme examples of just such a beer.

Color/Head/Retention [maximum of 1.00 point possible]: 0.97

Odor [maximum of 2.00 points possible]: 1.98

Carbonation/Mouthfeel [maximum of 1.00 point possible]: 0.95

Hop Flavor [maximum of 3.00 points possible]: 2.79

Malt Flavor/Balance [maximum of 2.00 points possible]: 1.96

Finish/Aftertaste [maximum of 1.00 point possible]: 0.90

Total [maximum of 10.00 points possible]: 9.55

Amateur Hour: Branching Out

September 17, 2010 Leave a comment

Midnight Sun XXX was Amateur Hour's top pick.

**Let me take a brief moment to apologize on the delay for our Hopfest in review article. We are working on something epic with two writers. For now, Erik provides a taste of our day.***


Every now and again, I run across a beer that’s so interesting, so tasty and so different than my normal preference, I become mildly obsessed with it, and spend most of my time trying to track it down. At Brouwer’s Hopfest last weekend, I found just such a beer.

Midnight Sun Brewing Co’s XXX Black Double IPA was my favorite beer of the festival. Before you ask, yes, I had a Wisdom Seeker and a Blind Pig and an Ace of Spades, and all the standouts. I even had a few very limited Firkins and a cask beer or two. Those were all exceptional, don’t get me wrong, but the XXX stood out for a couple good reasons.

Having spent most of the morning in a blissful hop-induced delirium, the surprise of XXX’s sweet, almost stouty malt profile was like taking a sip of lemonade on a hot day. The mouthfeel was almost as creamy as a good porter, but it finished strong with a not-to-dry, but fully developed hop bite.

Again, touting the wisdom of our very own Timperial Stout, balance is king. He taught be that over-emphasizing one flavor can lead to an underwhelming experience. I’m going to state my almost assuredly unpopular opinion that Russian River’s Blind Pig is a one-trick-pony. Sure, it’s an impressive trick, but drinking what is essentially hop extract got old after about 8 ounces.

Midnight Sun, however, has crafted a beer with such depth…such complexity, that one schooner wasn’t nearly enough. Unfortunately for me, I have to wait until January when they begin shipping it down to Washington, where it will be exclusively available in 22oz bottles for only a few months.

Events for Week of July 19, 2010

The Busy Bee Cafe: Home to many great beers and beer events!

This was a good beer weekend.

A trip to Portland entailed Stone, Dogfish Head, Victory collaboration Saison Du Boef; Avery Maraja; Hair of the Dog Fred; Russian River Consecration; Double Mountain Saison and so much more! A trip to a new beer bar Apex was top notch (see our 52 weeks article later) and bottle shop, Beermongers was still impressive and reasonable priced!

As if that wasnt enough, we partook in an impromptu beer tour of Southern Washington up through Tacoma. With a Dogfish Head Sah’ Tea at Parkplace Tavern in Tacoma and a Lagunitas Lil’ Sumin’ Wild in Olympia, letting go of the weekend was very difficult. But there is a whole week ahead of us and plenty of beer events.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Captain Lawrence Imperial Porter and 2 Casks tonight!: Peekskill, New York

6:00PM-10:00PM @ Birdsall

Tonight a keg of Captain Lawrence’s new Imperial Porter will be tapped along with two exclusive CL gravity casks: Kolsch & Freshchester(dry hopped with Cascade hops). Dont miss out on this full Captain Lawrence line up, including a couple of new draught additions.

Tuesday, July, 20, 2010

Deschutes Night: Seattle, Washington

6:00PM-9:00PM @ Naked City Brewery and Taphouse

Tonight, Naked City features Bend, Oregon brewery, Deschutes. Known for amazing beers such as Abyss, the tap list includes Miss Spelt, Hop in the Dark, Jubel 2010 and Greenlakes Organic Ale. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Hoppin’ Frog Tasting: Shawnee, Kansas

7:00PM-9:00PM @ Barley’s Brewhouse

I am really happy to see Hoppin’ Frog, this Ohio based brewery get some love outside of its home state. Tonight, for $20.00 you can taste the following (they are all o’ so good) with some delicious food pairings: Wild Frog Wheat, B.O.R.R.I.S the Crusher Stout Paired with Teriyiaki glazed Wings, Mean Manalishi, paired with Fish and Chips, Silk Porter paired with our Chocolate Tort and Hoppin’ to Heaven IPA.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

25 Tap Bells Night: Grand Rapids, Michigan

6:00PM-2:00AM @ HopCat

I know we have posted a couple of events similar to this one, but it is so amazing. 25 taps of Bell’s Brewery beers tonight including: Two Hearted Ale (poured from a tap and from a firkin), the Cherry Stout and an ’08 Expedition Stout. SO good….so good.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Meet the Brewer of Brooklyn Brewing Co.: New Orleans, Louisiana

10:00PM- 12:00AM @ The Avenue Pub

We all know how much we love this place. So lets take this place in all of its glory and throw some Brooklyn Brewing beers on tap. Sold! Tonight, for $12.00, meet Garrett Oliver, head brewer and taste a sample of 5 amazing brews.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Barleywine Fest: Largo, Florida

5:00PM-11:00:M @ Willard’s Tap House

Granted its not barleywine season. Its summer after all. However, stop by Willard’s tonight and sample some flavorful beers including: Sierra Nevada Bigfoot, Weyerbacher Blithering Idiot, Southern Tier Back Burnner and Avery Hog Heaven (a hoppy barleywine).

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Rooftop Summer Wheat beer Dinner: Raleigh, North Carolina

7:00PM-9:00PM @ the Busy Bee Cafe

Now, sometime deliciously appropriate for the summer months, a wheat beer celebration. It’ll be a little more laid back than Busy Bee’s usual beer dinner and is only $35 per person. Enjoy Blanche de Bruxelles, Schneider Weiss, Great Divide Dunkel Weiss, and Terrapin Gamma Ray all on draft for this 4 course dinner! Email info@busybeeraleigh.com for tickets or more info.

Whats in stock for your beer future? Plan on attending an event? Want us to post an event? Then please leave a comment or email us at beerblotter@gmail.com! Cheers!

Beer Law & Legis: Russian River Gets Registered with Registration Ale

The keg ring for Registration Ale, Russian River's unknown grog (Photo: BeerNews.Org)

Some of you might know that the writers of this blog are huge Russian River Brewing fans. We love the hoppy ones, we crave the sour ones. Vinnie Cilurzo makes a damn good beer.

Russian River Brewing has been the topic of discussion on this blog on several occasions. But none was more read and reviewed than our post on the 2010 release of Pliny the Younger, Beer Advocates, previous #1 beer in the world. (now #2)

Last spring, Vinnie sent some specialties to Philadelphia, including some of that delicious Pliny the Younger. Because the beer had not been registered with the state, officials raided bars that had it on tap and confiscated the goodness.

This is not going to happen again.

With Philly Beer Week in full bloom, Russian River made sure that their beers were registered this year. In fact, Vinnie is even poking a bit of fun at the ridiculous raid that probably resulted in a bunch of state troopers getting drunk on amazing beer that they didn’t even enjoy.

BeerNews.Org published a story that Russian River has registered “Registration Ale” and will be pouring it this week. From their site:

Earlier this spring, Russian River Brewing and a host of other breweries were caught in the middle of some controversy in Philadelphia. Officials raided some beer bars for unregistered beers and some brews were confiscated as a result. For Russian River Registration Ale, Vinnie Cilurzo made sure to properly register this one with the local liquor governing body. He asked me to keep this a secret back in April and I obliged. Not sure if it is new or a re-label of an existing beer in the catalog as he was pretty tight-lipped about it. People can enjoy it on tap around the city this week.

Who knows what’s in that keg – who cares. That beer is golden. I hope that everyone in Philly enjoys – it cost them $75.00 to get that puppy registered.

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