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The Visual Art of Craft Beer Part 1 – My Top 5

March 25, 2011 2 comments

New and...improved?

There has been quite a few stories in the beer press lately that have really got me thinking about beer artwork.  There’s the new look of Red Hook (check out this post on Washington Beer blog), a new label design for one of my favorite beers of all time – Stone Imperial Russian Stout (see this post at beernews.org), the North Coast Brewing logo upgrade (the old logo has always been a favorite of mine) and most notably the new Upright Brewing Four Play label that has been subject to much controversy (please check out this article on Beervana).

When I first started thinking about it I was leaning toward the fact that there really aren’t that many labels/logos out there that are especially noteworthy.  There’s a few that really jumped out at me right way, but for the most part…far too many exist that fail to catch my attention.  But, the more I thought about it, the more I discussed it with friends, the more epiphanies I had and the more I realized just how wrong I was.

The Classic. Is is better?

There’s actually a lot of breweries out there that are putting serious attention toward their image.  Clearly, this isn’t surprising.  Anyone possessing even the slightest bit of entrepreneurial savvy knows how important branding can be to creating a successful business.  Here, in my Visual Art of Craft Beer Series, I plan to discuss some of my favorites.  Hopefully, in doing so, I will open up the floor for debate.  I’m sure there are a bunch out there that I either don’t know about or have simply overlooked.  Unfortunately, I won’t be able to present them all in this initial article, so the debate just may have to wait.  Start thinking about your choices now and see if I end up agreeing with you.

The following is my top 5.  This is not limited to logo alone.  I feel that if it were, the scope of this exercise would be drastically diminished.  This includes not only the straight forward logo of a brewery but the labels of all, most, or some of their bottles/cans/mini-kegs/what-have-you.

5) Three Floyds Brewing – FFF does not mess around.  They make some of the most unique beers in the country and their labels follow suit.  In may ways, they remind me of Garbage Pail Kids.  All have a comic book/cartoon like quality.  Some are lighthearted and humorous, others are dark and disturbing, all are well designed and fun to look at.  I’m not sure whether I like the Clockwork Orange themed Moloko Stout, Zombie Dust, or the Dark Lord (above) the best.  No matter how you look at it, they are all undeniably bad ass.

 

4) Southern Tier Brewing – The logo above isn’t very glamorous, and it by no means is the sole reason why I have put STB in the number 4 position, but I must say that I’m a very big fan of it.  I find it to be very slick, clean and simple, yet highly effective.  The tools of the trade encircled by the ingredients of the trade.  Classic.  I’ve often thought of having a variation of that logo tattooed on myself.  Good logo aside, the continuity and simplicity of all of STB’s label designs is so well done that I wouldn’t be the slightest bit surprised to find them being celebrated in HOW Magazine (or something similar).

 

 

3) New Belgium Brewing Lips of Faith Series – Take a minute to gaze upon the above image.  Tell me you wouldn’t want a full size print of that framed and mounted in your living room.  It’s beautiful…and it’s just a beer label.  I could have posted a picture of almost any LoF label and it would be equally stunning.  Whomever is behind this is really doing fabulous work.  Give them a raise.

 

 

2) Stone Brewing Co. – This logo is absolutely unmistakable.  It may not be number one on my list but it’s very possibly the number one most recognizable beer logo in craft brewing.  It’s bold, like Stone beers and the attitude of the owners/brewers.  If you’ve ever taken the time to read the lengthy, screen printed text on any of Stone’s 22oz bottles, you know just what I mean.  Stone is hard fucking core and their dark, devious mascot exemplifies that to the t.

 

1)  Flying Dog Brewery – Can someone please explain to me how FDB got Ralph Steadman to illustrate all of their imagery?!?!  Whether you like his style or not, this has to be the most lauded, continual collaborative effort between a brewery and a world-famous artist of all time.

Yeah, I guess I do sort of get how FDB pulled this off.  Supposedly the owners of the brewery were friends with Hunter S. Thompson.  It’s quite clear that his influence is felt throughout much of FDB’s advertising and marketing campaign.  Since Ralph Steadman is most famous for his work with Hunter S. Thompson, in lies the connection.  God knows how much money they must dish out for his work, but I for one thing it’s worth every penny.

Notes of a Beer Nerd: Southern Tier Brewing Co.’s Creme Brulee

Hmm...I wonder why they call it Creme Brulee...

***Notes of a Beer Nerd is a column written by resident cellar dwelling mammal, Timperial Stout. Feel free to e-mail him at timperial@beerblotter.com with any questions, concerns or comments***

Enjoyed on 11/2/2010

Brewery: Southern Tier Brewing Co.

Location: Lakewood, New York

Beer: Creme Brulee

Web: http://www.southerntierbrewing.com

Presentation: 22oz – Blown Glass Bottle – Capped

Vintage: 2009

Style: Imperial Milk Stout

Barrel: N/A

ABV: 10.0%

IBU: N/A

Hops: Columbus, Horizon

Malt: 2-row pale malt, dark caramel malt

Vessel: Snifter

Recommended Serving Temp: 42 degrees, as per the bottle

Commercial Description:

We are not the harbingers of truth as some may suggest but it may indeed be argued that our brewing philosophy is tantamount to a dessert with a bellicose past. How, you may ask, would a brewery determine a likeness to hard-coated custard? Our response is simple; it’s all in the power of history, and of course, the extra finesse needed to top off a contentious treat with definition.

By comprehending the labyrinthine movement of time, one would not think it strange to trace the errant path of an ordinary object such as a cream dessert only to discover that it has been the cause of cultural disputes since the middle ages. The British founders of burnt cream and from Spain, crema catalana, both stand by their creative originality and we respect that, but it was the French Crème Brûlée, amid the strife of contention, that survived to represent our deliciously creamy brew.

Food Pairings: Oysters, Cheesecake, Chocolate

Cheese Pairings: Brie, Gouda

Music Pairing: Cream or Vanilla Ice

Beer Advocate: B+ (3.95)

Rate Beer: 97 (3.69)

Timperialstout’s Notes:

Background.

I’ve never met a Southern Tier beer that I didn’t like.  Though that may not mean much to some (especially my Beer Blotter brethren, who are staunch in their stance that I think every beer is good), I assure you that it is not meaningless, as least in my mind.  For me, there is only a handful of American breweries that I would say that about, and it must be noted that I wouldn’t even consider publishing such a statement about a brewery that is anything less than prolific in their releases.  Some breweries that immediately come to mind are Avery Brewing, Brooklyn Brewing and Clipper City Brewing, all of which have extremely solid year round releases as well as stunning seasonals and special releases.

In the Seattle market, STB’s 12oz year round releases are often harder to find than the 22oz imperial ones.  We have discussed this phenomenon before on the blog and it continues to be true, most recently with the entrance of Uinta Brewing to the local market.  In a nutshell, it is a common marketing scheme for breweries entering a new market to send their most hotly desired beers first, to build hype and excitement, and hopefully market share, and then further expand from there.  For nerds like me, this is a pretty successful game plan.

This particular brand of marketing is especially advantageous for STB considering that they have 16 beers in their “Imperial Series”.  Yes, I said 16.  That is way more than their non-imperial releases.  Now that is a quality that I can’t help but respect in a brewery.  Long live Southern Tier!

Appearance.

My liquid dessert this evening has a fairly small crown of tan bubbles.  As the head approaches the rim of the glass it appears to be more of a brownish rust color.   With time, it settles to a wisp and ring.  Each and every sip brings a foamy wash of lace across the nearest face of the glass, but only small splotches remain affixed.  One could say that the “legs” are impressive on this one.  Yet again, Timperial Stout’s favorite style pours completely opaque.  Though impenetrable to all light, it brightens my eyes with its gorgeous roasted malt depth.

Odor.

Sweet Fancy Moses this beer cannot possibly be anything other than liquefied Creme Brulee! All the sweetness of heaven was impossibly condensed into the fermented concoction before me.  This solution stands so supersaturated in sucrose, lactose and fructose that any honest scientist would be frozen, googly-eyed in dismay.  I have a sudden urge to make an appointment to have my teeth cleaned.  Yowee!

I hope I’ve successfully put a bit of weight behind my words.  From an odor standpoint, this beer is the absolute epitome of desert.  I have always thought that all of STB’s beers were crazy sweet, in a good way, but this is above and beyond, in a better way.  The scent is pretty much exactly of creme brulee.  The vanilla is so prevalent here that I can only assume that the entire planet’s reserves of vanilla beans were swiftly depleted in the days leading up to the brew.  I can’t even carve through the non-beer scents that are at play here.  Other than the onslaught of creamy vanilla, there is a milky and a caramelized sugar sweetness that plays perfectly to the inclination that this beer is not only called creme brulee but that it tastes like creme brulee.  The custard, the jagged edges of splintered, solidified caramel, the eggy creaminess, it’s all there in the smell.  Mind blowing!  I feel as though I should be sipping this one out of a ramekin rather than a snifter.

Mouthfeel.

This is an imperial milk stout with a dump truck’s load of sugary goodness in it.  To say that this is smooth in the mouth is probably the biggest understatement of my life.  Yes, there is a faint pop of carbonation that tickles the back of the tongue right before the swallow, but what prefaces it has a smoothness that I thought could only be exuded by a spirit.  If this was my Hop Brief column and there were ratings to pair with each section, Creme Brulee’s mouthfeel would be a perfect 10.

Flavor.

I initially found it odd that the brewer suggested drinking this beer cold, since I almost always prefer my imperial stouts when they warm up to around 55 degrees, but after my experience with it I see why.  The main result of allowing this beer to warm is that it becomes more like the 10% beer that it actually is and less like the scientific spectacle that it maybe should remain as.  Out comes the alcohol burn, the grain, the bitterness.  My goodness, that sounds ridiculous coming from me, I know.

Allow me to explain.  When cold(er) this beer tastes like it smells, pretty much to a T.  There is no booziness to be found.  There is oodles of desert sweetness that, seemingly, could never be the result of commonly used brewing malts.  Some may call it a ploy, but in my world, the flavor of something is why you drink that something.  If you like Mike’s Hard Lemonade because you like the way it tastes and you get a pleasant buzz from it, I will NEVER give you shit about it.  Life is short, drink what you like…have fun.  If I were to tell someone that was typically apposed to imbibing a beer the same color as motor oil that it tasted like bitter baker’s chocolate, tobacco and wood, I’m not at all confident that that would settle their nerves.  On the other hand, if I told then that it tastes EXACTLY like one of the most delicious, sweet deserts you can buy, I may be able to tip the scale.  Are the STB brewer’s a bunch of panty peeling bitches for going that route, I say hell no, but I guess that’s up to you to decide.

Aftertaste.

This is precisely where I expected it to be considering all of the predecessor characteristics.  There is no dryness when cold and just a hair when warmer.  The Flan like qualities linger for ever and ever.  The mouth remains completely coated in syrupy sweetness and its truly a delight.  Though it may result in a boat load of cavities, I’m pretty sure that it would be sickly sweet (very pleasurable) to have one of these for desert everyday.

Summation.

You may have gotten the feeling that I like STB.  It’s true, they are in my top 10 in the world.  The fact that they have 5 different imperial stouts doesn’t have anything to do with it, err…wait…I’m Timperial Stout…yeah…maybe top 5.

If you like Southern Tier Creme Brulee, you should try…

Three Floyds Brewing‘s Moloko Milk Stout; Dark Horse Brewing‘s Too Cream Stout; Bell’s Brewing‘s Special Double Cream Stout

Disclaimer: This beer was purchased on my own with my own hard-earned money at a local bottle shop, and aged to perfection by yours truly.

52 Weeks: The Publican, Chicago, IL

September 13, 2010 1 comment

The Meat District's Publican

Week 31 of 52

(we are going to get caught up this week. sorry for the delay)

The Publican

837 W. Fulton Market
Chicago, IL 60607

312-733-9555

Rank: 4.5/5

Type of Establishment: Gastropub, Pork orgy

Visit: To say “I have been meaning to visit The Publican” is a vast understatement. I feel deeply ashamed that it took me two months of Chicago residency to make it over there. Fate would have it that the must-attend art openings last evening were a mere 3 blocks away from this holy grail of Chicago beerdom.  As everyone knows, you can’t go to those things sober. The time was right.
Beers on Tap:

Green Flash West Coast I.P.A., Green Flash Brewing Co.

Moloko Milk Stout, Three Floyds Brewing Co.

Founders Dirty Bastard, Founders Brewing Company

The Czar, Avery Brewing Company

The place setting for a meal at the Publican.

New Holland Black Tulip Trippel Ale, New Holland Brewing Company

Long Thai Rainbow Rye, Half Acre Beer Company

Weihenstephaner Original, Brauerei Weihenstephan

Minx, Goose Island (this beer is mindblowing and well worth the $10+ dollars you will have to shell out for it. Find and imbibe at all costs)

Monk’s Café Flemish Sour Red Ale, Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.

Bluebird Bitter, Coniston Brewing Co, Ltd.

De Ranke XX Bitter, Brouwerij De Ranke

Ayinger Bräu Weisse, Privatbrauerei Franz Inselkammer KG

Bottles: Way too many to list. Full selection here, highlights include Founder’s Breakfast Stout, Victory Wild Devil, Dogfishhead Bitches Brew, Autumn Maple and 2 Turtle Doves from The Bruery, and all of the Goose Island, Jolly Pumpkin, New Holland and Two Brothers offerings.

Food Options: “Pork based” – need I say more? Having only partaken in their “afternoon snack” menu, I will limit my commentary to that, but I visually devoured their dinner menu as well as the drool-worthy plates parading by me.

Verdict: Sans the surly hosts, Publican gets a perfect score from For Whom The Beer Toales!

BAR OPINION:

Right off the bat: terrible impression by the host and hostess. They were visibly irritated by our party of six (for which there was more than ample room in the bar area) and rude to everyone in line, going so far as to snap at someone for taking a menu to look at! I expected a little more from a place with such a far-reaching reputation, especially at 5:30 on a Thursday.

The inside space.

Luckily our server Christine, who was as knowledgeable about the menu (food and beverage alike) as she was friendly and patient (my party had about a zillion questions, she showed no sign of annoyance or condescension), turned our frowns upside down.

The interior of the restaurant is beautifully executed. The main dining room is lined with stall-like tables (you are literally closed into them) that provide cozy privacy. There are more family-style dining tables with high backed chairs that provide large party seating throughout the rest of the room.

What really tickled me was the adorable “standing bar” area where we ended up. There is a small cluster of two-tiered round tables at bar height that are perfect for a post-work drink and some shared plates with friends. I really have a soft spot for the standing bar, so many places in Chicago will shuttle you into a formal dining setting (sit down table) and roll their eyes at you when you only want a beer and some fries.

In addition, The Publican has a wondrous assortment of purse hooks and shelves (built into the chair!) for all you heavy traveling lady drinkers to store your baggage. All this combined with an open kitchen and a deli-style meat slicer installed right at the end of the bar provide a great ambiance for enjoying The Publican’s knockout beer list and, in the words of Executive Chef Paul Kahan and Chef de Cuisine Brian Huston, “pristine product, simply prepared.”

I had a very hard time selecting which beers to order. My companion and I decided to share the New Holland Black Tulip Trippel Ale and Half Acre’s Long Thai Rainbow Rye (very reasonably priced at $5 each). The Black Tulip was smooth and sweet in all the right places, it coated my tongue with honey happiness. The Rainbow Rye was one of the best I have had of that style, and I have to hand it to Half Acre Beer Company. A bartender at Hopleaf tipped me off to this relatively new Chicago brewery. I’ve not had a bad beer from them yet, and their Daisy Cutter Pale Ale might be my #1 beer of Summer 2010.


Eggs and Frites

We also split the frites with fried eggs – do not sleep on this, people!! Frites are perfectly prepared, required no seasonings OR KETCHUP (and I love me a ketchup). The combination sounds weird but tastes so, so right.

My brief encounter left me wanting more. I went back today for a few more rounds and some beer banter with the lovely bartendress. Please excuse typos as I indulged in a Bluebird Bitter (perfect pairing for the Hannahs’s Bretzel with Bavarian mustard) and The Czar (coming in at an impressive 11.5%). Get there early or make a reservation because this place gets busy, and don’t forget to visit the bathroom (just trust me on that one).

Events for the Week of September 5, 2010

September 8, 2010 Leave a comment

Stop by Wednesday and celebrate the Double Windsor's 1st birthday with an IPA!

Im late. I have an excuse. I just got back from an epic wedding- two great friends, two beer lovers tied the knot. With Bell’s, New Holland and Southern Tier on tap at the wedding (and a growler of 3 Floyds Dreadnaught), I was on Cloud 9 along with the happy couple. Congrats you two- you rock!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

IPA Week: Brooklyn, New York

12:00PM-12:45AM @ The Double Windsor

Tonight, the Double Windsor celebrates year one with IPAs- all week- $5.00 pints.

(ANNIVERSARY PARTY IS SET FOR THURSDAY, SEPT 16TH. CRAZY COOL DRINK & FOOD SPECIALS, DJ’S, LOL-ING, ETC… JOIN THEIR FACEBOOK GROUP TO HEAR MORE ABOUT IT)

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Goose Island Harvest Ale Hoppy Hour: Columbus, Ohio

6:00PM-8:00PM @ Park Street Tavern

We literally just left Columbus, Ohio but for those of you who are lucky enough to be in the area, join Goose Island for a casual Harvest Ale kick off! This fall seasonal has the perfect amount of hops & malts to really make fall the “hoppiest” of seasons!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Culinary Connectors Denver BeerFest Walking Tour: Denver, Colorado

3:00PM-5:00PM  @ Various Restaurants

Take a stroll down Denver’s historic streets, taste amazing beer and indulge in decadent foods. This is what you need to know:

Candid & informal chef interactions
Delicious tastings and pairings
12 guests maximum
4 locations
2 hours
$39.00/person

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Lompoc Oktoberfest: Portland, Oregon

12:00PM-8:00PM @ Sidebar and Lompoc’s 5th Quadrent

The brewers at Lompoc Brewing are welcoming autumn with a release party for their fall seasonal Lompoc Oktoberfest. the menu will feature a selection of German sausages with a variety of condiments/toppings. There will also be a traditional accordionist playing beer polka tunes from 2 to 5 pm.  This event is for ages 21 and older. Beers on tap include: Marzen Lager, Barrel Aged Boadicea, Red Scare Imperial Red, Centennial IPA, and 2008 Brewdolph.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Cincinnati Beer Fest: Cincinnati, Ohio

12:00PM-9:00PM @ Fountain Square

3oz beer tastings will start at $1 and there is NO ADMISSION FEE! In addition to over 200 different flavors of beer, there will be over 30 live music acts plus multiple food and merchandise vendors. This festival begins on Friday, September 10th and runs through the weekend.

If you go to an event you want us to post about or just want to chat about beer, please leave a comment or email us at beerblotter@gmail.com. Cheers!

Notes of a Beer Nerd: Big Time Brewery & Alehouse Old Sol Wheatwine Ale

The old sun breathes life anew.

***Notes of a Beer Nerd is a column written by resident cellar dwelling mammal, Timperial Stout. Feel free to e-mail him at beerblotter@gmail.com with any questions, concerns or comments***

Enjoyed on 7/19/2010

Brewery: Big Time Brewery & Alehouse

Location: Seattle, WA

Beer: Old Sol Wheatwine Ale

Web: http://www.bigtimebrewery.com/

Presentation: 22 oz. – Brown Glass Bottle – Capped

Vintage: 2010

Style: Wheatwine

Barrel: N/A

ABV: 9.75%

IBU: N/A

Hops: N/A

Malt: N/A

Vessel: Oversized Wine Glass

Recommended Serving Temp: 50 degrees

Notes From the Bottle: The labels on Big Time bottles have a very DIY feel to them.  This isn’t surprising considering that they only sell the bottle in-house.  The website offers the following information:

Old Sol Wheatwine Ale, our summertime barleywine style ale, introduced in 2002, Old Sol is available on tap and in bottles to go.

The 2003 Old Sol won a GOLD MEDAL at the Great American Beer Festival. This summertime version of Barleywine made with 46% wheat and Warrior, Simcoe & Amarillo hops will be a sure winner.

OG 23.6 Plato 1.100 SG 9.75% by vol. 7.75% by wt. Brewed on the Lunar New Year, tapped on the Summer Solstice.

Food Pairings: Shellfish, chicken, salad

Cheese Pairings: Gorgonzola, Limburger, Feta

Beer Advocate: A

Rate Beer: 89 (3.52)

Timperialstout’s Notes:

Wheatwine is a strange animal.  The style is still very new, and no one seems to know quite what to make of it.  The specs, more often than not, require a malt bill that is nearly 50% wheat and an abv ranging from 9% to 14%.  When it comes to competitions or indexing within beer rating websites, wheatwine is often lumped into the barleywine or strong ale category.  Even though it seems that large beer festivals like GABF are permanently expanding the number of categories up for vote, wheatwine has yet to be added.  Something tells me that it won’t be long until this exciting style has its day in the spotlight.

That something is the fact that wheatwines seem to be gaining trendiness by the day.  More and more breweries have been making them, and if you were to take a look at some of the community run sites like beeradvocate.com or ratebeer.com, you’d probably be surprised that it didn’t catch on much earlier.  Unlike ratebeer.com, beeradvocate.com actually has wheatwine as a category, and lists 70 beers.  That may seem like a lot, but it really isn’t when you take into consideration that other not-so-popular styles like rye beer, old ale, and rauchbier have 322, 248, and 125 entries respectively.  Also, a large percentage of the beers listed under wheatwine are variations on the same beer, one-offs, or brewery only draft specialties.  But, my point that this style should have caught on earlier isn’t solely based on the fact that it’s an untapped resource.  Even more so, it’s the ratings that have been acquired by the wheatwines that do exist.

There are very, very few wheatwines on beeradvocate.com that are rated lower than a B.  ratebeer.com’s number system may offer a bit better of a perspective, but like I said earlier, they don’t recognize the style on its own, so it takes a bit of digging.

Smuttynose Brewing out of Portsmouth, NH makes, most likely, the longest standing, most widely known wheatwine in the States.  In fact, other than the beer reviewed here tonight (and one mentioned later in this article), the entire Beer Blotter collective has only ever had one wheatwine…that of Smutty.  Smuttynose Wheat Wine is a 95 on ratebeer.com.  The much talked about collaboration Oatgoop, between Three Floyds Brewing of Munster, IN and Mikkeller of Denmark, recieved a 98 on ratebeer.com.  General stalwarts of the style, New Holland Pilgrim’s Dole and Terrapin Gamma Ray are rated 91 and 90 respectively.  Point being, the people like the wheatwine.

Just a year ago, it seems to me that it would have been very safe to say that there was only a handful of breweries in America making the style.  Most likely, a good percentage of the craft beer lovers out there are not all that different from us,  and have only tried one or two different wheatwines in total.  In the last few months, more and more brews have been popping up in the style.  Boulevard Brewing out of Kansas City, MO just recently added a wheatwine to the Smokestack Series called Harvest Dance.  It received a 97 on ratebeer.com.  Locally, Black Raven Brewing of Redmond, WA just made a wheatwine for Malt and Vine‘s (a Redmond based bottle shop) third anniversary.  Only three ratings exist so far on ratebeer.com. – not enough for a score, but I can tell you first hand, it’s delicious.  I was lucky enough to taste this little gem the day it was released.  The 9% brew was enhanced with the addition of California orange peel, black pepper corns, local nettles, and a distinct sour quality.  Quite possibly, Black Raven is so far ahead of the game that they are already throwing curve balls at the competition.

Just today (yesterday as you read this), there was a report on the front page of beernews.org that Duclaw Brewing out of Baltimore, MD will be releasing a wheatwine called Misery.  They just keep coming and coming.  You won’t get any complaints from me.

Enough about the rest, lets talk about the best…well, for tonight at least.  The beer on the menu this evening is brought to you by Bill Jenkins of Big Time Brewery.  ***Attention all, this is a name that you need to memorize.***  This guy can brew a beer!  Yes, Bill is a celebrity in my eyes.  I dare you to make a list of the best breweries in WA that doesn’t include Big Time.  Yes I know, it is nearly impossible to get their beer outside of the University District brewpub, but that’s the charm of it, right?

Lets gather in the experience of Old Sol.

Old Sol fills the glass with a beautiful, clearly filtered, orange-tinged amber that looks ever so inviting.  The carbonation is clearly minimal here, and the head, or lack there of, is right inline.  What foam does develop on the pour is stark white and leaves a faint bit of lacing on the inside of the glass after each sip.  A ring of white persists, in conjunction with the slightest cirrus cloud of a wisp.

The odor is very fruity, sweet, and boozy.  Belgian style ales come to mind immediately.  Notes of mango, nectarine, peach, banana… where it not for the malty scents at the core I’d sense this was a fruit juice before me.  The malts are light and biscuity with a dash of caramel and vanilla.  The wheat is doing things that I’m not entirely used to it doing, and I like it.  So many of my experiences with wheat beers have been with unfiltered beers.  Most often these brews are jammed up with suspended yeast that, inevitably, steals a lot of the subtle fragrances of the wheat itself.  I finally feel like I am spinning, arms outstretched, through the great wheat fields that dominate the Mid-Western states of this great country, and it’s a good feeling.  This thought may be just what sparks thoughts of a barnyard scent lingering deep within the nose.

The most elegant characteristic of this beer, and for that matter – this style, is the mouthfeel.  “Velvety” seems to be the word of choice in the style guidelines, and I’d have to agree.  The carbonation and alcohol seem to hibernate all the way until the swallow, which leaves only the viscous, sugary, syrupy, mouth-coating, wheaty goodness at the forefront for ultimate enjoyment.  I’d be lying if I said it was hard to swallow, but sometimes I just want to revel in the moment and let the fluid glide around my mouth for ages.

Honestly, as odd as it sounds, the taste of this beer is the least exciting.  I know, that sounds ridiculous, but it by no means takes away from the marvelous and unique experience that this beer provides..  What can I say, wheat is subtle.  I’m also a tea drinker, so I know and respect subtle.  The Belgian thoughts creep back, but then quickly subside when the wheat strikes.  Infused sugars dominate, with a bit of spice and banana essence that seems to be a constant extract of the malt in question, or possibly the yeast.  With great warmth, some bubblegum flavors make their presence known.  There is another bizarre attribute found post-swallow – the flavors remain but the sweetness if so dominant that a dryness competes.  I want more but I don’t need more.  Confused, I’m fearful of a hangover, but I’ll take it in stride.  All for the joy of sipping down the next big thing in craft brewing.

If you like Big Time Brewery & Alehouse Old Sol Wheatwine Ale, you should try…

Smuttynose Brewing Co.‘s Wheat Wine; New Holland Brewing Co.‘s Pilgrim’s Dole; Boulevard Brewing Co.‘s Harvest Dance

Disclaimer: This beer was purchased on my own with my own hard-earned money at a local bottle shop, and aged to perfection by yours truly.

Events for Week of June 21, 2010

Stop by Rattle-N-Hum in NYC for some Dogfish Head beers this week!

Happy belated Father’s Day! I hope all you dads had time to enjoy a beer yesterday.  We had a blast on Friday at the Washington Brewers festival so many amazing beers ranging from sour stouts (Snipes Mountain), to epic IPAs (Port Townsend) and bourbon barreled scotch ales (Black Raven). Its still winter in Seattle (today is the official first day of summer) but here are your events around the country.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Come Meet the Genius at Rattle-N-Hum: New York, New York

4:30PM-7:30PM @ Rattle-n-Hum

Seriously, 21 Dogfish Head beers will be pouring tonight- almost everyone you can think of- Black and Blue- CHECK, Midas Touch- CHECK, Burton Baton- CHECK. Meet the man behind it all, Sam Caligione. What a great way to start the week. For a full list click here.

Tuesday, May 22, 2010

Smuttynose Beer Dinner: Providence, Rhode Island

6:00PM-8:00PM @ The Melting Pot of Providence

This $50.00 beer dinner (Please mention “Beer Dinner” when making your reservations) will provide you with a 5 course meal consisting of fine cheeses, a curry dish, a decadent dessert plus many amazing beers from Smuttynose Brewing Co.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Lagunitas Tasting: Chicago, Illinois

8:00PM-10:00PM @ Fizz Bar and Grill

Tonight will showcase Lagunitas Brewing Company from Petaluma, California during a free tasting at 8 p.m. Fizz chef Weslie Bellini will pair light Mexican bites such as ceviche with the brews. Enjoy!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Three Floyds Tasting Night: Michigan City, Indiana

5:30PM – 7:00PM @ Sahara

This event is $15.00 a person which includes 6-7 Three Floyds brews and appetizers to complement these fine crafted beverages. Pray for Dreadnaught (their double IPA).

Friday, June 25, 2010

First Day of San Diego International Beer Festival: San Diego, California

4:00PM-8:00PM @ Del Mar Fairgrounds

Tickets are $37 if purchased in advance for a four-hour session and $43 at the gate. Ticket prices include admission to the 2010 San Diego County Fair. Tickets are sold through the Del Mar Fairgrounds Box Office or at www.Ticketmaster.com.  For more information on the Festival and the San Diego County Fair, please visit www.sdfair.com/beer.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Bell’s Fermented Eclipse: Minneapolis, Minnesota

3:00PM-10:00PM @ Stub and Herb’s

Music, Bell’s Brewing Co. beer and BBQ- Check this out-Stub and Herb’s  has some Expedition Stout Barrels that they will be chopping up and throwing in a smoker for bbqing chickens. That just sounds amazing. The Bell’s beer trailer will be outside pouring this lineup: Batch 9000, Black Note, Bourbon-Barrel Hell Hath No Fury, Oatmeal Stout (1st time tapped in MN) plus 3 other special taps that are apparently secret thus far. Also look for Expedition Stout, Cherry Stout, Double Cream, Kalamazoo and Rye Stout on tap.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Cheese Loves Beer VIII: Burlington, Vermont

1:30PM-3:30PM @   American Flatbread Burlington Hearth

Stop by today and sample artisanal cheese and craft beer pairings. This event will highlight cheese makers new to the local artisanal cheese scene and pairing them with the exceptional beers crafted by Zero Gravity Brewery. This event is very limited and a pre-paid reservation is necessary to attend. See the host at the restaurant, or e-mail dchbeer@gmail.com to make a reservation. Cost is $30 per person.

The Cellar: Beer Lineup Includes Cigar City, Great Lakes, Three Floyds & More

April 22, 2010 2 comments

Wowsers. This Great Lakes Imperial Stout takes the cake.

Here are some sexy shots of recent interesting pulls from the cellar. We are going to be brief, but wanted to let you all know what we liked, and what some bottles are tasting like right now.

Great Lakes Blackout Stout (Imperial Stout): Cleveland, OH

ABV – 9%

Vintage – 2010

RateBeer – 100

Commercial Description -

A Russian Imperial Stout with a hearty malt body and bold hop flavor. Named after the infamous “Blackout of 2003″ that left the northeastern United States in complete darkness, but resulted in old-fashioned neighborhood porch parties and fun.
Available in February & March.

One Sentence Note -

This high octane moster has a lot of mocha, coffee, and cinnamon flavor at a smoothness that you expect in your 5% stout, but at 9% you get so much more bang for your buck.

Jai Alai - A welcome gift during our trip to Florida

Cigar City Jai Alai IPA: Tampa, FL

ABV – 7.5%

Vintage – 2010

RateBeer – 99

Commercial Description:

Jai Alai India Pale Ale pays tribute to the original extreme sport. Jai Alai, a game native to the Basque region of Spain, is played on a court called a fronton. Jai Alai players attempt to catch a ball using a curved mitt, whilst the ball travels at speeds of up to 188 miles per hour! Proving they have a sense of humor the Spanish dub this game, with its ball traveling at race car speeds, “the merry game.” Tampa was once home to a busy Jai Alai fronton but sadly all that remains of Jai Alai in the Tampa Bay area is this India Pale Ale that we brew in tribute to the merry game. The India Pale Ale style of beer has its roots in the strong ales sent from England to thirsty British troops in India during the 18th century. To survive the journey the beers needed more alcohol and more hops (which act as a natural preservative). This “big” brewing practice made India Pale Ale one of the first “extreme beers” and a favorite among the Queens military men in India. Eventually it became a favorite style of the new crop of American brewers seeking more flavor and complexity than mass-market brewers were willing to offer.

One Sentence Note:

Sweet sugary hop monsoon batman – this malt goddess has a syrupy complexity with intense hop aromas, while remaining incredibly smooth drinking.

Three Floyd's 2009 Dreadnaught is hitting its bitterness decline - Drink Up!

Three Floyd’s Dreadnaught Imperial IPA: Chicago, IL

ABV – 9.5%

Vintage – 2009

RateBeer – 100

Commercial Description:

A hophead’s dream beer. This Imperial India Pale Ale has an opening salvo of mango, peach and citrus hop aromas that sit atop a pronounced caramel malt backbone. Although Dreadnaught is a strong and intensely hoppy ale, its complex flavors is both smooth and memorable. 9.5% ABV, 100 IBUs.

One Sentence Notes:

In October we bought two, consumed one immediately much to our hop-fiendish delight, and saved the other for 6 months to let the malts develop – a decent idea but its beginning to reach its bitterness decline, so drink up on this incredible beer! (we pushed that sentence a bit)

We previously discussed this one, but drank another. Lucky us.

Russian River Temptation Oak-Aged Sour Blonde: Santa Rosa, CA

ABV – 7.25%

Vintage2009 (1st batch of year)

RateBeer – 100

Commercial Description:

Is it beer, or is it wine? “Aged in French oak wine barrels for twelve months with distinct characteristics of fruit and subtle oak” sounds more like a description of wine than beer. But, of course, Temptation is indeed beer. Actually, Temptation is a Blonde Ale Fermented with a special strain of yeast, then aged in French oak chardonnay barrels. Flavors of wine and oak absorb into the brew throughout twelve months of aging. During this aging process, a secondary fermentation occurs using a yeast strain disliked by most brewers and winemakers called Brettanomyces. The “Bret” gives Temptation intriguing characteristics and a pleasant sourness. Temptation is re-fermented in the bottle to create its carbonation–a process commonly used to make fine champagne and sparkling wine. Spent yeast forms a thin layer of sediment to remain in the bottle.

One Sentence Notes:

We touched on it before, then re-sampled this champagne of beers (seriously, not High Life) whose sourness is not overpowered with intense malt flavors, making it perfect for the purist.

A pleasant surprise from your green brewers of oregon, Hopworks.

Hopworks Urban Brewery Organic Survival 7-Grain Stout: Portland, OR

ABV – 5.3%

Vintage2009

RateBeer – 98

Commercial Description:

Beer of the Ancients! Barley (Egyptian), Wheat (Mesopotamian), Oats (Egyptian), Amaranth (Aztec), Quinoa (Incan), Spelt (Mesopotamian), and Kamut (Egyptian) sustain the soul with a nutrients cultivated through the millennia. Finished with 15 pounds of cold-pressed Stumptown Hairbender espresso. Unlock the mystery entombed in darkness.

One Sentence Notes:

Holy smokes (literally) we were surprised by how incredibly well-crafted this NW stout could be with SEVEN ancient grains in the mash and a dump load of special Stumptown espresso – top NW single stout in my book, gets you your breakfast HOTD and pick me up.

Any new beers you have been drinking? Pulled something from the cellar that has been there a while and want to share how its doing these days? Please add a comment below.

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