Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Desert beers (Terrapin Brewing Company)

Sometimes, in craft beer exploring, I just feel like trying something that is out of left field. Swirling and sipping different malt creations and combinations of hops can get taxing. I don't want really care if the proportion of hops are more mosaic or more cascade. These beers both hit our market at relatively the same time, and both are completely unique. When I posted pictures of each on Instagram, I had instant interest from trading people across the nation.

Please excuse the Michelob glass in the picture. I shared this with a friend at his lake house that is stocked with old glassware from our former employment at an AB wholesaler. Maggie's Blackberry Cobbler, is an imperial farmhouse ale with graham cracker and blackberry. The idea of a cobbler beer from the people that make wake and bake seems awesome but the choice of imperial farmhouse? That was completely lost on me. People asked me what I thought or how was it? I think it came out exactly as intended. Is there are larger production need for this beer? Probably not but I am grateful to occasionally enjoy the experimental labors of brewers like Terrapin. 
So you have made a peanut butter beer, and so have a few other people? Is it time to step up the little kid sandwich beer game? Absolutely. My opinion and answers to peoples questions about this beer is similar to that of the previous beer. The peanut butter flavor is familiar, tasting just like liquid bliss. The choice to use raspberry as the jelly was a brilliant brewing choice. It gives the finish a tartness that creates a fun complexity. I hope this beer pops up again when it is colder outside. I think the tart raspberry flavor actually helped make this dark beer more palatable for the summer season. Did I mention that both of these beers barely broke the $10 mark in the retail market? Keep it up Terrapin, and if all goes well I will be visiting for the hop harvest this fall. 

Monday, July 20, 2015

Spank (Smuttynose Brewing)

Happy 21st birthday to Smuttynose Brewery, from New Hampshire. This beer was a complete label buy. After read a little about the brewery, it's good they have a sense of humor. If you remember the setting of the good son with Macaulay Culkin, the shard cliffs of shear dreary rocks. That sounds exactly like where this brewery is in New England. In the 1870's Smuttynose island was even the setting for a gruesome double axe murder. I have to admit that my Smuttynose experience is limited to old brown dog, and finest kind IPA. I have been making efforts to try more of their beers, and this seemed like something there were proud of.
I have become more tolerate of Saisons as of recent. I try to stay away from the ones that seem very peppery. I have several that become almost undrinkable once the spice warms up. I grabbed this spank fresh and I am glad I did. The hops seemed very alive in this beer and showed up in the very beginning of the final act on my palette but faded cleanly. The malt in this beer was hearty yet light enough to allow the hops to shine. It has been over a month since I have drank this beer, but I believe the price point was fair at about $9 for the 22oz bottle. 

Lots of other interesting offerings have been popping up from Smuttlabs, including a brett beer. I will be tasting plenty more from these folks. You should check them out as well

Friday, June 19, 2015

Hard Root Beer (Mission Brewing)

I was quite excited when this little jewel landed in my in box last Friday. The category of hard root beer has been flooding my social media but remained out of the Richmond market thus far. I thought it had been out of our market, but it seems Sprecher has been in market for some time. This company has been making non alcoholic soda and released a hard root beer some time in 2014 I am guessing by the BA notes. This beer has been in market and is riding the coat tales of the Not Your Fathers Root beer for the past few weeks in Richmond. If you look at the history, packaging and price point you have something to be suspicious about. This offering maybe 5% ABV, but what sort of balance has been stuck between flavor and sweetness. The thing I have heard about the not your fathers is how uncanny it is to just regular old barq's or A&W beer of root. If this thing snow balls it is going to make for a very interesting next year in the business. I have already heard that the big boys like Sam Adams are working on their own recipe. 
So Mission Brewery exists in the heart of San Diego. In my opinion this is the biggest dick swinging town in the US. The brewery success in this part of California doesn't come cheap. Mission claims to have started in 1913, and has gone though some changes. Being close to the Padre baseball park, Mission answered the call to provide something different to patrons. This hard root beer smells dead on, it pours flat, and the flavor is really good. I could not taste the 7.5% ABV at all. The spice assaults the tongue and hides the alcohol great. It really is not beer. It is more like a wine cooler, and will possibly be the more manly answer for the sissies that don't like beer. I can see big mixology coming out of these dranks.  

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Indra kunindra (Ballast point brewing)

Like I mentioned previously, Ballast Point is very on point and have several world class brews. Indra Kunindra is one that I passed on buying the first time around. The original bottles to hit distribution disappeared so quickly, I had to snag one second go round.
I went searching for the origin date of this beer, and came up empty handed. I am guessing by the ancient ballast point label on beer advocate that this beer is not new to market. That being said, was ballast point ahead of it's time with regards to this trend of beer transcending stylistic guidelines? Stouts have been done over and again, with coffee, chocolate, mint, and all sorts of additives. The pepper beers have been coming on more and more recently. We have even had two different breweries release Sriracha beers in the past year. The most recent beer that I think is going after a flavor so out of the box is Or Xata from Bruery. These beers are so easy to drink, they feel more like a malt that beer. The curry spice was not just hot, it added a nice flavor to leave you wanting more.

The reviews on this beer are not very good, and I think that is unfair. People this beer is what brewers are capable of if you give them a chance. You have to open your palette up and forget style guidelines. This is a clean beer with no horrible off flavors, that hides ABV like an old pro. Do not sit down and drink this with huge coffee stouts, or big IPAs and expect to fully appreciate the subtle flavors here. I promise I will step off my ballast point soap box now. 


Monday, June 15, 2015

Grunion (Ballast point brewing)

I will attempt to get back on the blogging train. The motivation to post these is due to the pictures sitting in my phone. I clean them out once I right the post, but more often than not more time passes and I can't think of anything to say about featured beer. Ballast Point Grunion is one amazing beers from a very strong and hot portfolio at my disposal. Why have you not seen this pale ale from ballast point? The words pale ale, have been over shadowed by the mighty IPA. Grunion is a beer that will make people a believer, make you question all you've been told about "good" beers.
For those that don't know, Ballast Point was born out of a dorm room at UCLA. College friends home brewing, became a supply shop, and eventually a brewery that opened in 1992. This brewery has grown out of San Diego to be one of the biggest west coast breweries around. They have lots of highly held beers in their portfolio, Victory at Sea, Sea Monster, Indra Kinundra, Wahoo Wheat, Grunion, and Sculpin with all it's variants. Beer aficionados in Richmond have been shelling out $16 - $18 for six packs for the past six months and there is little sign of slowing. 

So Grunion is a pale ale, which has become the smaller less interesting brother of IPAs, double IPAs and triple IPAs. The trend of session IPAs have also taken the steam out of pale ale's sails. This beer is a perfect blend of flavor and bitterness. Two new hop varieties blend to create a flavor that has great herbal flavor, with a back bone of caramel sweetness. This is listed as a limited release, so grab your if you see them. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Siracha Stout (Rogue Brewing)

In the spirit of my southern roots, I have grown into a fondness for spicy treats. I have become a fan of chicken wings, wasabi on sushi, and horse radish sauce. My first experience of Siracha was at a Cuban restaurant in my home town, Kuba Kuba, and I have been sort of intrigued ever since. Siracha is a delicate burn, but with very bland Cuban food it works great. If anyone would like to go to Kuba Kuba with me send me a message, my wife doesn't like it. 
Lays has produced a Siracha potato chip, and I feel like I have seen Siracha pajama pants at Wal-Mart. The idea of beers with heat has run the full range of experience, from the heat of a Twisted Pine ghost face killah to the sweet chipotle stouts. There is even a chili beer from cave creek that has actual habanero peppers in the bottle. Ballast point habanero sculpin has hit Richmond, and I am a huge fan. The beer is more than hot, it has green chili pepper flavor. 
Rogue Brewing is out of Oregon, and started off as a brew pub in 1987. They have since grown into a brewery that has a flagship line of beers, a organic rogue farm series, liquor distilleries, and they even make their own soda. The recent Voodoo doughnut beer series raised a lot of eye brows and left many wondering if they could pull of such wild flavors. I was a little concerned about what would shine through, but as you can tell by the head, this stout was full bodied. The mouth feel reminded me a little of Siracha. I didn't think the beer was hot, and my wife agreed. The packaging is amazing right down to the green crown. If you see some still around, and I know it still is. Pick one of these up and give it a try. You might like it.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

La Chouffe (Shuck and Chug)

This is my first post as a new employee of Specialty Beverage Virginia. Specialty is a craft beer house based out of Rockville Va. which is about 20 minute commute for me. I don't have to go to the warehouse daily, although my route goes from boulevard to Goochland Va. right past the warehouse. Specialty is a craft beer distributor, no budweiser, no heineken, no energy drinks, and no seagrams wine coolers. I will be selling such exciting national brands as Ballast Point, Green Flash, New Belgium, Terrapin, Six Point, Schlafly, and 21st Amendment to name a few. 

Whole Foods short pump is on my new route, and the growler king, Greg Self, has a reputation for being a leader in the Richmond craft beer scene. He has an appreciation for great brands that are commonly over looked. My first event at his account was a shuck and chug featuring La Chouffe. Shuck and chug is a Thursday event where they have dollar oysters, and beer specials. It also worked out that La Chouffe is property of Duvel USA, thus Stephen Tuzeneu's new passion. Stephen is also an Ex-Brown Distributing employee and long time acquaintance of Greg and Myself. See what I did there? La Chouffe was started in 1982, and set out to bring new beers to the world from Belgium. The stories of La Couffe, based around Gnomes making beer in the mountains of Belgium help create the same sort of mystic romance as say, a monk in a monastery? The three beers are La Chouffe, belgian blond, Houblon Chouffe, a triple IPA, and N'Ice Chouffe, the winter warmer. The Houblon is amazing, the hop notes are so clean. If you see this on draft get one!
So this is my new Ipad and my desk that afternoon. I have to admit my first beer was a habanero sculpin. I love that beer. Please excuse my finger in the picture. Later the rest of the team was there, and I began working on making connections with the guys that will be working with me. This event was a good time, and everyone left laughing and smiling. I think it was the La Chouffe song played on repeat, and people shopping in gnome hats. 

These oysters are soooo good. I like the salty ones. I look forward to this monthly happening.