Review: Hereford & Hops IPA

Hereford & Hops IPA
Our American version of the classic English India Pale Ale (IPA). This copper colored ale has a higher level of alcohol that most of our beers and definitely has the most hops used in the brewing process. This beer contains very high levels of hop bitterness, flavor and aroma. Hidden among the hops is medium bodied beer with medium maltiness which helps balance the perceived hop bitterness. This beer is a must for all of the hopheads out there.

From a growler filled 142/27/2007, into a pint glass.

Pour is golden straw yellow with a foamy, puffy white head. Rocky, with decent lacing.

Smell is sweet and fruity, like grapefruit and orange, a bit of honey, more grainy/grassiness as it warms up but not a lot.

Taste is actually quite bitter throughout, the balance definitely leans hoppy. There is a little bit of maltiness that appears as the beer warms in the glass but the bitterness levels never let it through. Almost imperial in bitterness, at 86 odd IBUs that could be expected, but I'd like a bit more balance. There's a little bit of an odd aftertaste. Dave mentioned the water profile on his blog, that may be what it is.

Mouthfeel is crisp and very drying. Pretty light in body.

Drinkability is okay. This isn't really a session beer, due to its general flavor but its a decent IPA if not a little unbalanced. There's bitter tasty and bitter harsh, with this one leaning toward the latter.

T'was a good Christmas...

Welcome back from my brief hiatus. It's been a busy week, full of good cheer and good beer.

I've taken to dinner and shared a number of my Sly Fox Christmas Ales. Its been well received by all. I've also bought a fair amount of the Lancaster Winter Warmer, a nice tasty surprise and a good value, easily my favorite of their offerings.

Some of the boys in the Beer Club headed out for a round trip of a few spots in Western PA. I was unable to attend but sent along plenty of cash and empties. I got a pretty nice haul for not even attending.
-Growler of North Country Paleo IPA
-Growler of Hereford and Hops IPA
-Growler of East End Bitter End
-Growler of East End Snow Melt
-Bottle of East End Three (Third Anniversary Triple)
-Bottle of Southern Tier Choklat
-Bottle of Southern Tier Gemini
Not too bad for not being able to go along. Much thanks to those guys for accommodating me. So far I've only had the NC offering, but look forward to my thoughts on the others, plus a homebrewing update soon.


Review: Bell's Java Stout

Bell's Java Stout
The satisfying elements of both stout and coffee come together in this full-bodied treat. A marriage of Sumatra's best with rich chocolate and roasted malt provides for a truly enlightening beer.

I've professed my love before for coffee beers, Bell's Java Stout being one of the best of them, so this should be telling.

12oz bottle poured into a pint glass, purchased at Uncle Sudsy's.

This is what a coffee stout should look like. Pour is jet black with a puffy mocha head, rocky and long-lasting, lacing well as it falls.

Smell is sweet and roasty and full of coffee aroma. I think Bell's uses Sumatran though I'm not sure. Like a beeruccino.

Taste is rich and earth, tons of coffee flavor along with just a touch of sweetness to mellow it out. This is just 100% black coffee beer. Delicious.

Mothfeel is rich and full bodied, slightly creamy and just plain thick.

Drinkability is good, I could drink as many of these as the cups of coffee I have each morning. A great beer I enjoy every year, coffee + beer at its finest.

Review: Breckenridge Christmas Ale

Breckenridge Brewery Christmas Ale
The chill of a Colorado high-country winter calls for a beer with extra flavor and strength. Here it is. Breck Brew's Christmas Ale. At over 7% alcohol, with a sturdy texture and rich flavors of caramel and chocolate, our holiday seasonal is the fermented equivalent of a good fire.
The ultimate winter warmer.

Breckenridge is a fairly recent arrival in the local area. I'm a fan of their Rocky Mountain IPA and 471. Their other offerings are pretty solid, as well. Dave had said he found this one pretty nasty, but being a Christmas beer and personal taste being what it is, I had to give it a go. So, here it is:

12oz bottle poured into a pint glass, bottle purchased at Uncle Sudsy's.

The pour is dark brown with red highlights and a cap of off-white head.

Smell is pretty non-existent, maybe a very little bit of coffee or roasty malt aroma but that's it.

Taste reminds me a little of a brown ale of sorts, with the addition of a bit of coffeeish bitterness. There's a little bit of fruitiness in the finish along with a hop bitterness that washes in after it that has no real notable character.

Mouthfeel is medium in body and drying.

Drinkability is decent although its just not a very interesting beer, its kind of odd and doesn't really call for more than one. I'll stick to the IPAs.

Review: Flying Dog K-9 Winter Ale

Flying Dog K-9 Winter Ale
The psycho in the pack … K-9 Cruiser is a dark, sweet and malty winter warmer that will captivate any adventurous craft brew drinker. A true Flying Dog original, K-9 Cruiser is the perfect brew to warm you up in those cold winter months.

This is the winter seasonal from Flying Dog, I picked it up when I saw it at Subs&Suds since I like to try every new beer I come across and I'm in a big winter beer swing lately, naturally.

This beer pours a dark red-drown with a decent cap of head that doesn't stick around too long. Pretty minimal lacing.

Smell is roasty and just a little blend of woody and fruity, but that's about it.

tasty is pretty much malty, a combination of earthy, almost bordering on cardboardy breadiness, followed by a bitterish finish, almost spicy like cinnamon, but with out the corresponding flavor.

Mouthfeel is pretty light in body and rather 'active'.

Overall not a bad beer but certainly not the greatest winter warmer either. Worth trying each year perhaps, but I'm not sure I'd get more than a bottle each time.


Present Wrapping Beer.

Last night, after getting the kids to bed, Kim and I got to work wrapping presents. What better beer to enjoy whilst wrapping than a Rogue Santa's Private Reserve? One of my favorite winter seasonals, for certain.

Rogue Santa's Private Reserve
Rogue’s annual holiday offering, Santa’s Private Reserve, is a variation of the classic Saint Rogue Red, but with double the hops--including Chinook, and Centennial, and a mystery hop called Rudolph by head brewer John "more hops" Maier!This holiday elixir is brewed with two-row Harrington, Klages and Munich malts, along with Hugh Baird 30-37, Carastan 13-17, and Crystal 70-80 malts, plus free range coastal water and John’s proprietary top-fermenting Pacman yeast. Available in both 22-ounce bottles, 12oz Loose packs for Winter 2005, and 12oz six packs for 2006.

My bottle was a 22oz bomber. Last year I had both a bomber as well as picking up a case after-season when it was on sale.

This beer pours a great looking clear red, topped with a nice soft, fluffy cap of foam. The head lingers nicely throughout the drinking process and leaves a bit of lace behind as well.

Smell is full caramel and wonderful hops.

The taste follows suit in the same manner. Nice and malty up front, sweet caramel and biscuit flavors, washed away by that delicious piney, sprucey hoppiness. The body on this is sooo creamy, delicious.

One thing to note about this beer is that while its a fairly balanced beer, if you want the most flavor out of those hops, get this beer ASAP. The first bottle I had of this last year (and this year, obviously) was super fresh and the hops were incredible. As time went on, they fade pretty quickly. There's still a nice hoppiness but not the great aroma/taste that it has when its young.

Bottom line: if you see this one, pick it up, and soon. Its a great holiday seasonal , if I can find more while its still at its finest, I'll definitely do so.


My homebrew, another's review.

Dave reviews my steam beer, which he's dubbed Steamy McBeer, over at his blog.

Thanks Dave!


Last Night's Dinner

Last evening, as winter began to swell up even more to the west, we had over a friend of mine from work and his family. They have kids very close in age to our own, plus they're just good people, so its nice to get together.

The menu as follows, with 'expected' beer pairings.

Baked Brie with Blackberry Jam
-Homebrew Steam Beer

Crunchy Romaine Salad with Cider Vinaigrette
-Church Brew Works Pipe Organ Pale Ale and Celestial Gold

Dr. Pepper Glazed Ham with Prunes
Homemade Chunky Apple Sauce
Skin-On Mashed Potatoes
-Troegs Troegenator Double Bock

Pumpkin Cake with Caramel-Cream Cheese Frosting
-Bell's Expedition Stout

The meal was incredible, the pairings quite successful, the children generally well behaved. A good time was had by all.

PS: The ham was even better today after soaking all night in the sauce... Nice matchup for the Church Munich Style Dunkel for lunch.

Bottled up the IPA

This evening I bottled up the Alpha King IPA Clone, 36 bottles total. A little less than I had hoped for but such is brewing. Looking forward to trying it.

Also, popped open the first bottle of Imperial Steam. I'm not really sure what this is 'supposed' to taste like but it ain't half bad. Looking forward to trying it more as it matures.


Review: Otto's Winter Warmer

Having not done a review in forever, I'll follow a format put forth by Brian and Adam at the Brew Lounge.

Otto's Winter Warmer
Our seasonal festive celebratory ale. This year we made it with lots of cranberries and a touch of nutmeg. Smooth and fruity with a warming finish.
Formerly at 9.5% and brewed with "100 lbs of tart cherries, honey, oatmeal, and a touch of cinnamon".
(Not sure if this is accurate for this year, their website isn't listing this one yet.
ABV: varies, somewhere around 7.8 - 8.5%

Poured from a growler picked up by Nate.

Pour is a dark reddish brown, with a quick rising off white head that fades quickly to a ring of foam. Rather translucent in the glass, rapid rising bubbles as well.

Smells sweet and of faint spices, nutmeg and cinnamon.

Taste is a gingery, graham cracker, followed by the sweet sugar and spice of cinnamon and brown sugar. Nice level of spicing, not too much to be overpowering. Nice balance for a spiced beer.

Very drinkable even at this ABV, I'm on my third glass and feeling quite warm. Definitely a good choice for a winter warmer.

Others' reviews: Rate Beer, Beer Advocate

Who Doesn't Like Christmas Vacation?

With more or less the rest of the month of December off, I'm hoping for a relaxing break and a very beery close to the year.

-I've got two batches to bottle, the IPA and the Imperial Amber Ale.
-The first of the Imperial Steam Beer should be opened sometime next week.
-With all this 'free time', I'm planning to cook more, which always goes well with beer.
-A few of us from Indiana Homebrew Club are putting together a beer tour for a day after Christmas.
-Maybe one more batch to brew before the end of the year? Who knows.
-A couple recent trades and aquisitions have me up to my ears in good beer, including some DFH Immort Ale, Bell's Expedition and Batch 8000, Victory Old Ho', Lancaster Winter Warmer and a fresh growler of Otto's Winter Warmer.

I'll do my best to keep up with posts, report back on how the homebrew is tasting, and perhaps even include a few write-ups of my holiday beer tasting.


Grilled Venison Backstrap & Broccoli Cheddah Soup

Quick Post.

Used this recipe for the backstrap and this tasty recipe from Kegs and Kitchens for the Broccoli Cheddar Soup.

I used a little Steam beer homebrew in the soup and drank a brown ale with the meal.

Finished the night with Mad Elf and Frosty the Snowman with my son.


What Beer to Pair with Venison?

Not being a hunter, but enjoying both food and things that are free, I was more than happy to accept a friend's offer of some venison from his recent hunts.

He was kind enough to give me some backstrap, described as one of the best cuts of meat aside from the tenderloin.

My plan is to marinate it in some way, though I'm not sure in what base. Any ideas on pairing beer with deer, or game in general?


'Tis the Season.

With snow falling outside and temperatures dropping (at least this week...), I'm fully into the Christmas spirit.

And that is something odd for me. I'm not sure what it is, maybe its getting older and slightly less cynical. Maybe its my ability to block out all the commercial hubbub. Maybe its just seeing my kids excitement and remembering 'what it used to be like'.

Maybe its the Sly Fox Christmas Ale talking. Easily my favorite Winter seasonal, (Is February's Nugget Nectar release far enough off to be considered Spring?) I couldn't help getting a case when I was in Philly, especially at the basement bargain price of $40 for twelve 750s.

Last night I popped open the first one, this year graced with a bright green label, but otherwise the same look as last years. Nice way to differentiate for a vertical, lining all the bottles up, a seasonal display of tasty brew. Definitely going to have to save a couple for future years, an opportunity I missed last year, but only having two bottles, they didn't last long.

I'll do a more thorough tasting post soon.


Nothing in Primary

For the first time in a few months, I've got nothing in my fermenter buckets.

I bottled up the Imperial Steam Sunday morning, capping a total of 42 bottles.

Doing that emptied out a carboy, into which I transfered the Imperial Amber Ale, along with a 2 ounce Cascade dryhop.

I also opened up my first bottle of the Steam beer I brewed as my 'comeback' beer. Nicely carbonated, not a foamer like the EAssB, long lasting head. Its still not where it needs to be, as it smells a little green, but I'm hoping a few more weeks of sitting will turn it around.

I noticed a bit of the weirdness that I had from the EAssC, but I'm not sure if that is the age of the beer, only two weeks in the bottle or if its a DMS problem.

I left the lid off this time, so if that is the case, I'm going to blame it on a weak boil. Even using the turbojet we have for a front burner on our stove it can be a push to get a good rolling boil, a problem I've alleviated in the past couple batched by using a ring of heavy duty aluminum foil as a heat shield around the bottom of the pot. Visually, its working well. Hopefully it pays off in taste.