Saturday, January 24, 2015

Enlightenmint (Twisted Manzanita Brewing)

Enlightenmint is a mint chocolate stout from twisted manzanita brewery out of San Diego, California. The brewery has been open since 2010 and is aggressively expanding into distilling liquor.

I've have been very curious about this beer since we started selling it in Northern Virginia last week. Stouts are currently my favorite style almost to a fault. I have only had one mint stout, 17 from perennial artisanal, which was very good. I was cautious about purchasing this beer because there is little information about it and this style could go horribly wrong. I had concerns that it would be too candy like for my palette. The 17 that I had was borderline candy, and very sweet. One upside to taking a chance on Enlightenmint is the price is very affordable at $9.99 vs. the $18plus for the other.


I buy quite a number of warm large format bottles from the local bottle shop. I often bring them home and speed chill them in this watering bucket with a combination of ice, water, and salt. I spin the bottle in the bucket frequently and it chills a stout in about 20 minutes. I have seen a device that clamps to the bottle and spins it for you, but I have not been gifted nor tried that device.

Well, the beer was a nice change of pace. At first glance the head was a nice color, indicative of chocolate. The aroma was mint chocolate. The flavor and alcohol were well balanced, and the finish was like fresh mint. I could even feel the herb on my breath between sips. It even passed the wife test, who enjoyed a tiny glass. She would have loved to have more but had plans for an early bedtime. This is definitely a beer that if embraced and sampled would do very well as a seasonal release. I have no clue the plans for future releases of this product. I noticed on untapped there are less than 500 total check ins for this beer. I suppose this beer could have not gone over well with the west coast home town crowd, but I sure am on board. We sold through the few cases we go pretty quickly. If it comes back look for it again next winter. I may try to get this label off. It's so steam punk with the Edison bulb.

Friday, January 9, 2015

New Years (2014 Round Up)

Well 2014 has been a year of dramatic change for me. Professionally, it was the second full year in the distribution expansion to Northern Va. We more than doubled out portfolio and have been getting Hardywood in the hands of a brand new audience. We are at our limit as far as what we can do and I look for more big change next year. Personally, I became a father in May, which has presented a new set of challenges. I have had to evaluate the extra money and have decided that my passion for working on scooters and motorcycles is a healthier option. I will still be blogging but as mentioned previous, I am not sure how often. This year in beer I pursued Gose against the grain of the session IPA trend. I was glad to see Boulevard, Strangeways, Widmer, Anderson Valley and Off Color brewing answer the call. I stand by my belief that this style can be very refreshing ice cold on a hot day. My last two beers of the year are flash back to the stout obsession that has been well watered this year. Three big stout bottle shares, and I think I have had too many world class stouts. 
Coronado Brewing is out of California near San Diego. I have been pushing Coronado Stupid Stout for weeks based on the perceived merit of how hard it seemed for us to get the brewery to send us some. Also it was well received on the advocate and ratebeer. The price was very forgiving and this beer was exactly what I was looking for. It was a silky beer, with good mouth feel. I got really nice roasted, coffee, and chocolate notes. I even took a picture of the lacing on the head (top right) to illustrate what a good stout does to the edge of your class. It was a fine stout to kick off new years eve festivities. 

Off Color Brewing out of Chicago Illinois was a new to me this year. Nathan and I had their gose and farmhouse saison at Mekong earlier in the year, both are outstanding. I happened to catch the news of this beer, Dino Smores, hitting the market through social media. I consulted a friend who gave it the green light, and I caught the last bottle on the shelf at Norm's Wine and Beer in Vienna Va. It was expensive, but I needed to try it. I was not the biggest fan. It tasted a little oxidized and more powdered cocoa than I was feeling at the time. I am thinking this beer just didn't follow the stupid stout well. I am still a believer that Chicago is a sleeper of a beer town and I look forward to more excellent surprises from them in 2015. 

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Hydra Cuvée (F.W. and Flying Dog collab)


There are several things that I enjoy about maintaining a beer blog. I enjoy the documentation process of my beer experience and the challenge of trying to write entries about beer that are more than judgmental ramblings. I imagine an audience of friends who are willing to click a link on Facebook and get a little insight into my beer experience. I feel like the majority of my audience is beer friends who read and think I am full of shit. I don't have much confidence in my voice or writing ability, so I am clearly too sensitive about this. 
James Rohr actually came through with this Hyrda Cuvee. This beer was a collaboration between Firestone Walker and Flying Dog for savor 2014 and was only available at the event. I am guessing this is an extra bottle which was given to the local distributor and the sales team. What is savor? It is a big food and beverage event held each year in DC. It is hosted by breweries and restaurants for customers and is a by invite only event. Food is served and paired with beers in a more formal setting than a typical festival. I have never been, and get a little annoyed each year at all the people asking me if I am going. 

My first reaction was that after all of the world class stouts I have drank recently this is a nice change of pace. I stopped myself mid sentence. Can one actually get palette fatigue from good beer? Having achieved this type of fatigue am I at the end, NO! This beer was awesome Belgian strong dark, not heavy and had loads of flavor. I kept thinking quad, but it was not. I agree with the reviews of this beer smelling boozy, but it was actually very smooth drinking. I think for me this beer was the case of right beer right time. That time was a week before Christmas in the garage on a cool afternoon with friends after an extended run of stouts. In another setting or set of circumstances this beer would have been a totally different experience. That's why I am not full of shit. The best beer experience has to do with the timing, so don't take others peoples word for it. Create your own moments.  

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Reserve Series (Firestone Walker)


Well I sat down to type an entry about a limited beer of a different style I was fortunate to fall into and saw that I had this draft chilling in the Que. Firestone walker celebrated their 18th anniversary this year as well as fellow California breweries stone and Coronado. It must have been a booming era in California beer, and these folks have proven that they have the staying power to get it done.

I got trapped into collecting these beers for a special occasion and settled on breaking them out for my 1000 check in on untapped. Two dear beer friends of mine treat me to the spoils of their aggressive trading hobby, so south I went to share these. 

We had six participants at this particular bottle share and started with velvet merkin, a barrel aged oatmeal stout. This beer has a light flavor profile and is only 8%, most of the others we drank this night are well over 10%. I had to trade to get this beer, a 2013, and had been kind of let down when I got to try the 2014 on draft months ago. It was better out of the bottle.

We had sets of 2013 and 2014, sucaba, parabola, and double DBA. I wanted to end with Parabola, my favorite. I believe the order was Merkin, Double DBA, 17th Anniversary, Sucaba, Stickee Monkey, and last the huge BA stout. Luckily these were pretty cold so we tried to take our time and sip through all the beers to experience each as they warmed up. Anniversary and Sucaba really benefited from this tactic. The sticky monkey was a huge let down for me. It was too cloyingly sweet, and was damn near honey like. 

We blind taste tested all of the verticals, and Parabola was the only one that actually aged the way we expected. Most beers just lost the sharpness in flavor with age, parabola mellowed and gained a deeper complexity with only one year of cellar aging. I hate to do it but this year I have to thin out my hardywood collection. I am afraid that some of their early barrel series beers may have gone to far. I think my attitude about cellaring beers has changed in 2014. I will no longer age any coffee or flavored beers. Most signs say that aging coffee stouts deadens the coffee flavor. I love the coffee flavor!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Christmas Eve NY (Evil Twin)

Sometimes I go into the total wines in northern Virginia and wonder how does a brewery go about standing out in this sea of 12oz brown beauties. The label is my first thought. You can choose some outlandish imagery on it, or perhaps some clever name that intimates something naughty. IPA's are classic for using marijuana imagery or stereotypes, often referred to as dank. Against the grain brewery, already with the brewery name, has one of my favorite names for a brown ale, brown note. They depict a guy on the label that, you guessed it, has apparently shit his tightey whiteys.
I love the Scandinavian type attitude of design that comes from Evil Twin brewing company.  Visit their website at http://eviltwin.dk/ and tell me that it doesn't inspire thoughts of Ikea's clean and simple design. The first page of the site is all of the current bottle and label designs. They even use mosaic style tiling to disguise the identity of certain individuals on their packaging. 

A co-worker of mine had Christmas Eve at a New York city hotel room last year, and I was hooked on that ridiculous name. For the same of time I will refer to it as Christmas Eve, which is a dark black stout. It is a stout that reminds me of what is at the core of the style, toasted malt. Not all the malt they use in this beer is as dark as the liquid but they blend different malts to build the body and convey the roast. Subtle hints of chocolate or coffee, but none added. All the flavor comes from the malt. It was a touch smokey which was nice. I may even go as far as to say maybe that is what fits in with the name? 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Hianus, due to technical difficulties

Well I have been gone for a while for several reasons.
1. Baby boy leaves me with less time for other things. (adjustment period, I'll figure out)
2. Beer money shortage.
3. It seems the beers that have interested me recently have gotten more expensive.
4. My love for tinkering with mechanical things is a more productive use of my free time and money.
5. Iphone 4 would not allow me to take pictures to upload to blog. (got day 6 now)

It is scooter rally season. Pictured in the middle is my friend Robert who recently got his vespa road worthy. We are at the Indian Summer scooter rally with the gang. That is me holding a bunch of rally tickets for a chance to win a vespa. I will be back to beer blogging but in a way more conservative manor. I have three in the bag I need to type up. Sorry for the delay. If you are interested in the 2 wheel therapy blog that is over at garagetherapy.wordpress.com.

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.