Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Killsner (Cigar City Brewing)

For the second year in a row, Cigar City has brewed a beer for an annual metal barbecue at hadad's lake in Richmond, Va. It would be a somber event this year, due to the passing of Gwar lead singer, Oderus Urungus (Dave Brockie). Fans gathered to rock harder than ever before and to lean on each other in the wake of the loss. The viking funeral for the Oderus suit was quite the sight that would have made Dave proud. The smoke was so black it blocked out the sun, so metal.
I am a fan of what gwar means to Richmond, and when brockie past away, a friend of mine made me 2 cds. I did not go to this event, although it seems like my crowd. I did however get bombarded with pictures and messages on social media about the event. It seemed that beer sales were at an all time high. The beer that was made last year for the event was not well received. It did however trade well. Metal heads from across the United States reached out in search for it. It worked out well for me as a trading beer. The beer was a lot more bitter, which probably appealed to a narrow audience. This year, I found out the name was Killsner well before I tasted the beer. I even originally thought it was going to be a pilsner. To my surprise it was a fresh bright session IPA. It was actually very good. No wonder I had such a hard time getting my hands on some. I only had 2 kegs and 2 cases to sell. The can is definitely one that I will keep. It marks a little piece of RVA brewing history, although brewed in FLA.  

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Yin & Yang (Evil Twin Brewing)

The Yin and Yang had been released earlier this year but I only saw it on draft. It is a reaction to dig through whatever evil twin cases I see in stores. Nick, the buyer at Arrowine had already out these beauties on the shelf. The 4 pack cost almost $16, so double that for the experience. I paid it forward to my beer partner in crime and gave him a pair, the other two I took to Lake Monticello to drink with a friend.
Bought these at Arrowine in Arlington Va. the beer manager was kind enough to do mixed 4pks. 
I highly advise against taking beer that cost this much to a destination that was sold as relaxing but became quite a bit of work. Although the sleepy gated community would have been the ideal place in the fall to sit and sip these two, I chose to work and sweat. This IPA pictured below was huge malt and high in ABV. We started with that in goblets, an homage to our beer beginnings. Instantly my pores exploded with piney and grape fruit residue. My teeth were instantly coated with sugary sweet yang.
The yin was as opposite as you could get, except for the high ABV. The stout was thick black, and not penetrated by light. I believe I poured that beer in the master bathroom as we assembled night stands and laid carpet. No picture was taken. We saved half of each to do the most cloying black and tan ever to exist. Every variation of this experience was phenomenal, and I will keep an eye out for these on draft. Stouts are something that evil twin has down. They also make even more Jesus, some variants of Jesus, and I heart you with all my stout. The session beer theory kicked my ass on this particular day. I am ready for cold weather and campfires.    

Friday, August 1, 2014

Beer Camp (A Sierra Nevada Experience)


In the event you have been living under a rock Sierra Nevada embarked on a very ambitious and genius project this year. The fact that this many breweries participated and this program was done nationwide is a beer miracle. Beer camp last year was a flop of a variety pack, but this year with 12 different collaborations the hype was fierce with this one. The beer pictured about is the invitation, a 24oz double IPA, that is one of the best of that style I have ever had from Sierra. The invitation was sent out through distributors to invite beer drinkers to attend beer camp events across the Nation. The beer camp events have over 700 breweries participating that will pouring their own beers at the events. 

I will not attempt to sit down and drink all 13 beers in one day. I have to come up with a good drinking order. Due to the time it may take, possibly three weekends or better, I have elected to drink the hoppy beers first. I will narrate my journey as if it was a week at camp, like the one I worked at an enjoyed so much. I am very excited about this twelve pack because there are several breweries represented that do not make it to Virginia. 

Camp: Day One
Much like Charlie Bucket, I feel as if I got the golden ticket. As this series was released in Virginia it hit Northern Virginia and Richmond at about the same time. Retailers in northern Virginia looked at me like I was crazy, knowing very little about beer camp. Then I started to see pictures of the liquid invitation in Richmond, but nothing in northern Virginia. This beer was due out before the twelve packs!?
Much like the first day of camp, I was a hyper mess. I didn't know which way to look, or what I wanted to do first. I needed to talk with my fellow campers, beer drinkers, to help map my course through this exciting series. I opened the box, like unpacking, sorted through the ten bottles and two cans. I saw names like Ninkasi, Three Floyds, and Russian River, oh boy! What was going to be the stand out this summer? Well I have to say the liquid invitation was phenomenal, please if you are into this series find these bottles while they are still sort of fresh. 
Camp: Day Two
As before mentioned, I felt the need to drink these in order of hoppy to malty due to the nature of hops to loose flavor over time. I was so excited to get into this series I arranged them on my desk and began with the electric ray imperial pale lager. See the thing about camp is it is seven days and you should spread your energy out over the entire week. These snap judgements often lead to getting hurt or in this case drinking one beer that vastly over shadows the next.
Electric Ray is the imperial pale lager that was done with ballast point, out of San Diego. I should have known that these two breweries, know for having a firm handle of west coast style IPA's, would not going to deliver another flop known as pale lager. As a style, pale lager, is usually just the scent of a pale and the disappointing mouth feel of a lager. This ray of light was intensely hoppy, and maintained a good malt feel. The finish was the only thing lager like, and washed clean away. I could drink a ton of this beer. 
Torpedo Pilsner is the hoppy pilsner that was done with Firestone Walker, out of Paso Robles. I am unsure if I have had any other example of this style other than Victory prima pils. My experience with hoppy pilsner is that they are mostly aromatic and bitter on the very front of the tasting experience. On the heels of the electric ray, this beer had no chance of being received by my tongue. It came across extremely light. I made my first mistake in this tasting. If you have not yet drank these beers, start with this pilsner. Firestone Walker can do no wrong in my book. 
Camp: Day Three
This pairing was much like the first. One beer was phenomenal and the other was invisible in comparison. I wish I had drink the chico king after the electric ray on day two, and had the myrons walk as the third with torpedo pilsner. 
Chico King is the collaboration with Indiana based 3 Floyd's brewing company. I have the honor and privilege of knowing someone who has sent me beers from this brewery from time to time. I have to say they make beers that are exactly what I want. I would say that gumball head even gave me an experience that I didn't know I wanted. Sierra nevada, some would say the pale ale OG, wants to pair up with the creator of arctic panzer wolf, and zombie dust and brew a pale ale? ? Can I just have a twelve pack of that? This is one of the collaborations that makes this 12 pack totally work the price of admission. This beer was spot on pale, with out being extreme. It was so enjoyable with the piney citrus flavors. This is definitely one that people will be talking about from this pack. 
Myron's Walk is the think pair share of sierra nevada and allagash brewing. Very boring choice for them to make a belgian pale ale, but it is the obvious choice. I do not have a great appreciation for american style belgian craft style. It is usually all up in my nose with flowers and lacks the complexity in the middle and back of the experience. Allagash is praised often for some of their barrel projects and things they do with belgian yeast, but I have yet to give them the respect. Someone please tell me which one of their beers is going to blow my hair back? I assure you it does not come in a four pack carrier. It was very hot outside the day I drank these beers, and the glass was sweating like crazy. It should have been perfect weather for this beer. Keep walking dude, I ain't buying.
Camp: Day Four
Almost half way through, we are out of the bines and into the fields of grain. This place has gotten very comfortable. There is a beer I am really looking forward to just over the horizon. First we must take the alt route to get there and back. 
There and back is the collaboration effort with new glarius brewing. New glarius is not available in the state of Virginia. I am familiar with the lambics and sours they produce as being highly acclaimed. This English style bitter was very smooth, and the flavors are very delicate. The bitterness in this beer is more dull than hoppy. I am not quite sure how new glarius and sierra Nevada agreed to brew this beer. The time constraint would not have allowed for the beer styles that put new glarius on the map. This is an old style English special bitter that is very mild compared to the current trendy beers in craft.
Alt route was made with Victory brewing out of Pennsylvania. Victory has been been brewing in 1996, and has been one of the strongest brands in Pa since. They were one of the early craft brands that I tried everything from. When I say early, we inherited the rights to this brand when brown purchased legendary distributing. Before that our craft portfolio consisted on magic hat, red hook and widmer brothers. Alt beer can be a sweet malty treat, with the occasionally smokey or hoppy bitter finish. It is another very subtle style. These beers have been like the days at camp that drag on a bit. I see something at the end of the week that I am very excited to try but I have to get through this first. When it is all said and done I will miss everyone of these beers as a stepping stone in the experience that is, Beer Camp! 
Camp: Day Five
Double Latte brewed with Ninkasi brewing out of Oregon was one of the beers I was really looking forward to trying. I have never had any Ninkasi beers, and this name made the package exciting for me. The words stout and latte are going to grab my attention every time. Milk stout or lactose not necessarily as dear to my heart but the sweetness of this beer worked very well with the coffee notes. Like a iced coffee, or iced latte. Lactose sugar is refined from milk, and is added to beer to give sweet and creamy characteristics to beer, usually stouts. Sugar is normally the fuel for fermentation that makes alcohol, but lactose sugars are more complex and do not ferment. I had to share this beer with my wife. I am guilty of creating some of the most fierce dark beer snobs in the greater Va area. 
Yvan the Great brewed with Russian River brewing out of California was another highly desirable titan in this twelve pack. This Belgian style blond ale provides flavors to satisfy the wheat beer lover and Belgian beer aficionado. I have had damnation, pliney the elder, and blind pig but this beer is nothing like what most people look for from Russian River. I wanted more bold flavor. This beer was very clean and distinct in flavor. I might even say it was refreshing. This one would be great on a hot day. 
Camp: Day Six
Canfusion a horrible pun of a beer brewed with Oskar Blues out of Colorado was one of the two odd cans in the twelve pack. This beer was a bock style beer that enhanced the flavors of aluminum, the perfect fusion of old world flavors. No there wasn't any aluminum in this beer but the rye is a component in brewing that has a definite impact of flavor. Most of the time rye is used to dry out the finish on a beer, or help ease the sweetness of a beer. Bock style beers are known for a sweet malty, big back bone assault. I love that these two breweries chose to can their beer. I think of taking beers camping and I think of cans, or Dales pale ale. This beer was what I want in an everyday beer. It has some body and multi note flavor, and is something I could drink lots of in one day.
Yonder Bock is a tropical miabock was brewed with Cigar City, from Tampa Fl. I am coming down from a recent tap take over featuring cigar city beers that Mekong had a week ago. I hope that those of you who only know cigar city through this beer don't cast them aside. Please understand the coordination it took to collaborate can and distribute these beers. I felt like this beer was a little glimpse of what Cigar City can do to create tropical flavors that make you think Tampa, or even Cuba. There was a bright tropical fruit flavor in this beer. It seemed to burst, but was not so intense that this beer came across bitter or overly sweet. Once again this can is session-able on the flavor scale. 
Camp: Day Seven
It has been a long week of camp. This proved to be a difficult task, writing seven blog posts about this huge collaboration project. I chose these two to be my last beers, predicting that I would love them both. The Tater Ridge beer, done with the Ashville Brewers Alliance, was dead on what I expected.  It had backbone, way thicker than most of the other beers in this box. I would like to have this again to see if the sweet potato flavor was all in my head. The sweetness was spot on with that of a really good sweet potato during a holiday dinner. This beer could have been teeth crushingly sweet but it exercised great self control. Some of you that are off the deep end with German marzen or pumpkin beers at the moment should reach for some scotch ale as soon as it starts to get cold. I think seasonally this beer deserves more action. 
Maillard's Odyssey was my top beer in camp, brewed with Bell's brewing out of Michigan. I should have gotten more into the names of these beers from the start but Maillards reaction is the flavor explosions that occur when you caramelize sugars. This porter has that amber highlight that makes me think of burnt sugar, or like the burnt edges of a marshmallow. It is no secret that I am a sucker for dark beers. I often crave barrel aged stouts out of nowhere, my palette just craves it.  It was the sentimental end to a long journey the last few sips of this beer. I wish there was more of a few of these and I am sure I could find another twelve pack, but it has been a great week. There is more excitement for next year, and I trust that will build year after year. If you felt taken advantage of having to pay $26 for this experience, you need to get out to your local brewery. Meet the people that make the product, and learn something about the headaches of this kind of coordinating effort. This project and collaborations perfectly illustrated what craft beer means. I shall remain loyal to the efforts of brewers, thank you for the experience. 



Friday, July 25, 2014

Batchelors Delight (Lickinghole Creek Craft Brewery)

Normally in this crowd, you saw pirate party and we say fuck yes! Well it didn't work out for us to go in a huge group, dressed up as planned. I am still trying to figure out how the schedule to get the baby and life squared away so we can still do things. You know coordinate with other adults and enjoy each others company. Well between feedings, the wife and I ran out to Goochland for the festivities. We each had a beer, and I bought two bottles. If you want to get your hands on one I'm sure we can work out a trade. If you are going to the cabin weekend in October, this will be a part of the barrel aged extravaganza that weekend. 



I have taken the picture below or a very similar picture every time I have a beer at this place that I really enjoy. The third barrel release from Lickinghole Creek Craft Brewery, Batchelors Delight, was a delicious rum barrel aged quad. It was another home run, on the heels of despot and the barrel aged tripel. I am so happy for Lickinghole to be getting some beers bottled that people swarm to try and buy. The trading value of these bottles has quickly gone through the roof, good job boys and Lisa. If you have come to town and gone to all of the breweries right around the city limits, please take the time to get out to this beautiful property. I am a little tired of the drive at the moment, but I was prepared to head out there tomorrow to assist in the disc golf course construction. The plans for that have been temporarily put on hold. The county of Goochland or more likely some of the miserable citizens have shut it down.  
I guess a few tasting notes or opinions would be appropriate. It had a suede like mouth feel, that expressed slight heat, or alcohol burn. It was few easy to drink, and the flavor was balanced between the dark fruit of a Belgian quad and the spiced rum. Who ever taste tested this beer while aging nailed it. It was too hot in the field to really drink this all in, but by fall this beer is going to be perfect. Please do this beer and event again.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Gose (Westbrook Brewing Company)


You can always depend on, the kindness of strangers . . . . Or at least I was able to be cordial enough with a co-worker to receive the bad ass gift of this beer. If you aren't aware, I am not a big fan of the session IPA. I feel cheated by session IPAs. They are not as full in flavor and they are just as expensive as their full blown counter part. I racked my brain for what to drink this summer. I heard a podcast that reviewed Leipzig gose, the original from Germany. It just clicked, light, sour, salty and delicious at a extremely low serving temperature. I will hunt for the gose and try them all this summer. My next step was to figure out what was available in our market, so I did a search in total wine. Leipzig showed up, and Anderson Valley. No one had seen or taken delivery of these in years. . . . Shit!
After my revelation and disappointment, I returned to the warehouse determined to get a gose in my mouth. I cornered the unicorn and prodded him for information. I even suggested that maybe Strangeways or The Answer Brewpub make one. I found troublesome from pretty little things, then Anderson Valley released theirs, and a wine shop turned up some Leipzig bottles. Things were looking up, the pics of the Westbrook Gose began to assault my social media feeds. Then David Hetzel blessed me with a 6 pack which I shared. Shortly there after Stillwater released gose gone wild and Strangeways announced the release of wake me up before you gose. Westbrook was still my favorite, the fullest mouth feel, and flavor. I am still on the hunt for gose, if you have any not listed here send them on. 

To help with some of the dribble you may hear in regards to this beer.
Gueze = French word, Belgian beer, very tart and sour. Pronounced Gooooo-z
Gose = German word and beer, sour and salty. Pronounced Goes-A
It is an old German style brewed with salt water. It is a wheat beer with some lactic souring, and is spiced with coriander and hops. 
http://www.germanbeerinstitute.com/Gose.html


Monday, July 14, 2014

HA$H (Sweetwater Brewing Company)


I am not trying to deny the fact that IPA's and any beer that gets the majority of its flavor profile from hops should be consumed immediately. I had heard about this beer but the distributor to the north that handles Sweet Water had a hard time getting this into the market in a timely fashion. I finally found it though. I had seen reviews about how dank and hoppy this beer was and I was drooling at the opportunity.  Sweet Water beers have not been on my radar since the first time I had one, but I was curious to try this project. It was definitely an east coast IPA, but it pushed the limits of taste and time. 

East Coast IPA: An India Pale Ale that reflects the taste of beer drinkers on the east coast. Nose is normally piny, citrus or floral yet the malt finish of the beer is usually sweet. West Coast IPA's are generally dry in finish, not as sweet. Why does the style differ coast to coast? You got me jack  . .

I have a friend with family ties in the brewery that knew more about what was going on with this series. Hash is a play on words, here it represents the hop shake and its similar appearance to the shake left in a bag of weed. Well maybe not directly that but they had to be smooth with the name for label approval. Apparently someone at Sweet Water went to the hop supplier and noticed the cast aside tiny particles of hops. These tiny bits are usually discarded as not being worth the trouble. The sprinklings are any number of hops in unknown amounts which potentially could create unrepeatable greatness. Sounds like a bunch of shit to me from a consumer end, but for the business of making profits and marketing beer, genius. Look out for the next rendition http://sweetwaterbrew.com/

Friday, June 27, 2014

Beer Geek Breakfast (Mikkeller)

When you used untapped like I do, you are constantly on a search for unique beers to try. I have logged more beers than I care to share in this public forum, but surprisingly I have never had this beer. My recent fling with gypsy brewery evil twin led me to this beer. This is the original breakfast stout, this beer has fairly basic tasting notes. There are no dominant notes of coffee, chocolate, or vanilla. This beer is dark, and achieves this with lots of dark roasted malt. Take that tiny seed and heat it to the point of combustion, then stop and make a beer, the darkest beer. When I close my eyes and sip this beer I can taste that malt. I can feel it in my mouth. Those candy flavors that breweries amp up in current breakfast stouts are subtle. This beer is hopped, to the point if you drank it in line with black IPA's you might even think it was one. On it's own I think the hops play well with the bitterness from the malts, and takes the flavor to a grassy place. This is the most in depth tasting notes I have ever typed, sorry. I love this beer
These gypsy brewers have a different way of distributing which can make it difficult to get these beers at times. I have been told that these beers have to be pre-ordered sometimes as far out as six months before the release. One retailer joked that often the case shows up and he completely forgot he ordered it. I was told this beer was coming by three separate accounts, and none of them wound up getting a case. My hidden gem of a bottle shop, Grape and Bean Rosemont, in Alexandria had half a case waiting for me. So if you see it buy it, and if you consider yourself a beer geek and haven't had it? Shame on you. Check out the other Mikkeller products at http://mikkeller.dk/. Yes they appear to sell their beers online, the 50/50 eclipse BA series 12 bottles is $445.55! beware the conversion. Birthday March 2nd by the way.