Friday, September 07, 2007

The Session: Rogue's Old Crustacean

The first Friday of each month marks The Session, a chance for beer bloggers to unite and share a pint. Veteran beverage reporter Rick Lyke has graciously agreed to host this month's tasting at his blog Lyke 2 Drink. This month's theme is The Brew Zoo. Rick explains:
The Brew Zoo is the topic selected for The Session #7. The basic rule is that either the brewery or the beer must have a real live creature in its name. We will also allow beers with prominent animal label art (think Geary's Ale from Maine and its Lobster) to be added to the Brew Zoo.
After I read this, I realized that nearly every other beer had some sort of animal connection. What was I to do? As I was heading home from an appointment this afternoon, the answer came to me. I drove past Bee Gee's Mini Mart, known to have some rare beers that you can't find in other local stores. Rumor had it that they still had some of the Stone Vertical Epic 03.03.03 and 04.04.04 (gargoyles count, right?). Turns out they didn't, but they did have Rogue's Old Crustacean, vintage 2002. This was too good a find to pass up, so I picked up a few bottles and steered home.

Inspired by its name, this beer conjures nautical adventures. When it sets sail from its home port, it is an intensely hoppy beer. This vintage sits at 120 IBU, and even 5 years later, the hops bellow out like a ship full of drunken sailors, pillaging the senses. But it's also a huge beer, cresting at about 11.5% ABV. As a result, it's a hugely malty beer. Swimming beneath the hoppy chorus is a leviathan of licorice, caramel, plum, and port flavors, poised like an overgrown lobster to rise up from the depths and destroy the noisy drunkards. This will be an epic battle worthy of Melville and Verne, one that I'll gladly be following (from the shore, of course).

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

News: Raise a Toast to Michael Jackson

The brewing (and drinking) community is planning a national toast on September 30th to remember beverage literati Michael Jackson, who died last week. Details, as well as many links to remembrances of Jackson, can be found on the Beer Hunter website.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

News: Michael Jackson is dead

Sad news for beer lovers today. Patriarch and brew luminary Michael Jackson died yesterday. Forever known as "No, not that Michael Jackson," Jackson was a world-renowned beer hunter with a huge influence over today's upsurge in craft beer appreciation.

Below are a few links to other blog posts about his death. (If you only click one of the links, check out the last one. Lew Bryson has a nicely done tribute.)

A Good Beer Blog
Appellation Beer
Brookston Beer Bulletin
Seen Through a Glass

Update: Another link, this time with a full article:

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Event: Dayton AleFest 2007

It's time once again for the Dayton AleFest. It's next Saturday, August 25th at Carillon Historic Park in Kettering, OH. This'll be my fourth year. We always have a great time--there are nearly 300 beers from about 50 breweries. Tix are $30 in advance (see Belmont Party Supply, Arrow Wine, The Little Store, Boston's Bistro), and $35 at the door. Best bet is to get your tix in advance--there's always a long line and you risk them being sold out if you wait until the day of.

Check the local bars (particularly Tank's and Boston's) for pre-parties and mass transit. I will warn you--be sure you've got a designated driver well in advance--the small samples go down quickly and easily and you'll be in no shape to drive.

Here's hoping it doesn't rain again (we're 2 for 3 on thunderstorms since I've been attending). Check this site after the event--I'll do my best to take note. (Here are my notes from last year.)

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Recap: Michigan Vacation, part 1

Earlier this month, my wife and I, along with our boys, spent about 8 days in Michigan--the Midwest's Beer Mecca. We started the trip in Ann Arbor, where her sister was getting married in the historic Michigan Theater. While most of that portion of the trip was devoted to the wedding, we were able to snag some good beer and take a few trips to the local brew pubs. And the best part about being in Michigan was that virtually every bar or restaurant we went to served great, local beer on tap. In fact, the wedding itself featured Bell's Oberon on tap. Below are a few of the beer notables from Ann Arbor.

Super Liquor IV
Not much of a name, but a great selection! We were lucky enough to stay right down the road from this craft brew haven. The selection rivaled my local, Belmont Party Supply, which is quite a feat. The best part was the access to the myriad beers I couldn't get in Ohio. After long deliberation, I choose Dark Horse Brewing's Crooked Tree IPA, a solidly-built IPA with strong pine hop flavors.

Arbor Brewing Company
Friday night, Grandma watched the boys while G and I headed out to this staple brewery. The place was packed, but I think most of the folks there were somehow related to the wedding. I bounced around from relative to relative, trading tastes for the various beers. There were two cask ales on tap--an IPA and a porter, and both were excellent. I also tried the Dark Corner 2007 and the Big Ben House Mild. The Dark Corner was a huge, high-gravity beer, while the mild is something I could have ordered again and again. My wife gave her thumbs up to both the Bavarian Bliss Hefe Weizen and the Brasserie Greff Blonde.

Grizzly Peak Brewing Company
We hung around in Ann Arbor for an extra day after the wedding to check out the town. For dinner, we hit Grizzly Peak, the other local brewpub. GP has a real Colorado feel. I had a grade chicken cherry salad, paired with their Cascade Ale, which happened to be cask conditioned. And I rounded the meal off with their Bear Paw Porter. Both beers were very well-done, although it's the porter that I can still conjure the taste of weeks later.

After Ann Arbor, we headed west to Grand Haven. Look for details about our trip to Bell's and New Holland, coming soon in part 2.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Review: Deschutes Black Butte Porter

Deschutes Black Butte Porter is the fourth beer I sampled from my West Coast exchange with Jay at Hedonist Beer Jive. (I have made notes on the Lost Coast Great White--I just have to get around to typing them up.) Forgive the terrible photo. My wife has the camera, so I had to use my phone. Never preferred, although it's far better than I had expected.

I first heard of Deschutes the year my oldest son was born. We were visiting friends in Seattle and one of them talked a lot about Deschutes and Pyramid. Unfortunately, I tried so many beers on that trip that I have no idea which, if any, Deschutes I tried. Glad then that Jay sent along two samples (the next review will be for the Mirror Pond Pale Ale).

A quick jump over to the brewery's website reveals two things about this beer. First, it's Deschutes' flagship beers. Second, this beer has won a LOT of awards. The site also reveals a potential contradiction. Most of the awards are for Brown Porters. However, this particular beer is an exemplar in the BJCP list for a Robust Porter. What gives?

Brewery: Deschutes Brewery, Inc.
Brewery Location: Bend, Oregon
Black Butte Porter
BJCP Style: 12B. Robust Porter

Appearance: Black, with a thick vanilla-colored head. Light does not pass through easily, and there is little apparent carbonation, aside from the head.

Smell: The nose isn't huge on this beer, as I might have expected. I pick up some faint presence of black liquorice and some roasted notes. Would have expected coffee or chocolate, but don't pick up much. Perhaps some warming vanilla.

Taste: Deep and dark; lots of roasted flavor, with some chocolate and coffee rounding it out. The chocolate and crystal malts are evident, as is some residual sweetness. The beer ranks at 30 IBUs, but the hops subside to the darker malt flavors. Some diacetyl slickness mid to swallow.

Mouthfeel: Not as full as I would have expected--it's surprisingly easy to drink. Good thing, too, since I'm drinking this in the middle of July and it's about 85 degrees outside. Almost a tad on the watery side, but the beer comes across more as refreshing than weak.

Drinkability: I think it must be the roasty, black malt flavors that push the BJCP to classify this beer as a Robust Porter. However, in other regards, it's a lot lighter and smoother on the palate than other Robust Porters I've tried. It actually reminds me of a tasty Schwartzbeer I had recently. My overall impression is that it is heavy on the roasted flavors, a little light on the chocolate notes that I usually prefer in a porter, yet I'd still recommend it to friends. And better yet, I'd still seek it out. Porter is one of my favorite styles, so it'd be interesting to line this up against Great Lakes' Edmund Fitzgerald, Bell's Porter, and Sierra Nevada's Porter to see where in that line it fits.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Event: Ohio Brew Week

A reminder that Ohio Brew Week is just over the horizon. Athens, Ohio hosts the week-long celebration of Ohio breweries and microbreweries July 16th through the 21st.

If you haven't been to Athens yet, this would be the time to go. My wife and I are both OU graduates and share fond memories of the place. And the best time to visit is the summer, when the hordes of students haven't overrun the town.

Unfortunately, I won't be able to attend personally this year, but am actively seeking volunteers to go and report back to this blog. Feel free to post a comment if you are willing to volunteer.

Below is a press release from the folks promoting the event:
May 23, 2007


ATHENS, OH—Ohio Brew Week celebrates the diversity of Ohio’s micro-brewed beers and the independent establishments that serve them. The second year of the state’s newest festival will be held July 16-21st in Athens, Ohio at restaurants and venues throughout the downtown area. Ohio Brew Week will feature 50 craft beers from 15 microbreweries around the state. The weeklong event includes seminars on the history of beer, the history of taverns, home brewing demonstrations, beer-related videos and movies, cooking with beer demonstrations, pool tournaments, local musicians and beer song contests. The week culminates with the presentation of the People’s Choice Award during Saturday’s Boogie on the Bricks community festival.

Julie Bradford, editor and co-owner of All About Beer magazine and successful website, will be the keynote speaker for Brew Week. Bradford will speak about cooking with beer, beer/food pairings, women & beer and beer’s impact on society.

This year there will be a cooking with Ohio microbrews competition for amateurs and professionals and beer-related entrees, appetizers and desserts at most restaurants in the area. Prizes will be awarded in several categories. Bradford and other food writers will serve on the panel.

In addition, there will be a progressive dart tournament at participating venues throughout the week. A Brew Choo Choo ride on the Hocking Valley Scenic Railway is being planned, along with an Art Walk through the Historic Arts District in Nelsonville. Formal tasting of individual breweries’ microbrews will be held a different places every night throughout the week. Most of the restaurants and taverns will feature beer-flavored foods, including beer ice cream, and paw paw beer. Each restaurant will also have live musical entertainment each evening. The Official Brew Week meatball eating competition will be held on Thursday.

“Ohio Brew Week celebrates the rich flavors of Ohio microbrews and the contributions this growing industry of Ohio microbreweries makes to the state,” says Dan Gates, director of Ohio Brew Week. “Ohio’s Brew Week is the only week-long event in the world that provides the opportunity to talk directly with brewers, hear nationally-known beer experts and brew writers and editors, and sample some of the tastiest beers made on the planet.”

Ohio Brew Week will be celebration of tastes, adds Gates. “The breweries all have new and flavorful microbrews for this year and the restaurants are creating unusual beer-related foods. Visitors will get a real taste of our Appalachian culture, regional foods, and these craft beers.”

Last year’s first Brew Week showed that interest in micro-brewing is growing in the state and the rest of the U.S., says Jon Sparhawk, one of the originators of the event, “because people are thirsty for new experiences. The visitors last year enjoyed learning about the art form of micro brewing and sampling some of the most interesting and flavorful microbrews around. They also enjoyed experiencing the rich artistic talents in the Athens area: our artisans, chefs and the fun, comfortable places to gather and socialize. 2007 promises to be even more entertaining.”

Throughout the week, 17 restaurants, pubs and taverns in the Athens area will be featuring speakers, demonstrations and beer-related foods and specials. Most of the venues are within easy walking distance of each other. The local bus system will be circulating along the tasting route as well. Attendees will vote on their favorite micro-brewed beer throughout the week with the People’s Choice Award being presented during the band concert on Saturday, July 21.

Athens provides a relaxed and scenic atmosphere for exploring the new flavors of microbrews and for networking with other brewers, and other microbrew fans, adds Gates.

Ohio Brew Week is co-sponsored by Dine Across America and the Athens County Convention and Visitors Bureau and WWS Communications.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Recap: Allagash Night

First, let me start by assuring what few readers I have left that I have not dropped off of the face of the planet (although there have been a few weeks where it certainly seemed like that)! Instead, please consider my hiatus a time of regrouping--I've been collecting things to write about for the last few weeks and finally, now, have the time to put ink to paper (or fingers to keyboard).

On to our story. For about a year, I've been picking up bottles of Allagash's rarer beers. It started when I had my first taste of Curieux that Kyle brought to the initial beer appreciation night. I had had some of Allagash's year round stock, but nothing like this! That was the best bourbon-aged beer I had ever had. I was hooked and couldn't wait to get more.

But, as in any good story, there were complications. Turns out that these beers weren't
distributed in Dayton. Kyle had picked up his bottle at Jungle Jim's, outside of Cincinnati. And the bottles aren't cheap--anywhere from $10-$15 per bottle (which is little compared to a bottle of wine, but substantial when you are used to paying much less than that for a sixer).

Damn. This wasn't going to be easy. But, like any good beer geek, eventually I made my way south. And at first, I was disappointed. The Curieux was completely sold out. I sulked around the aisle for a bit, then discovered that there were several other beers available from the same series. I settled on the 2005 Interlude, vaguely recalling a review I had read around that time. And when I asked around about it, folks confirmed that I made the right choice.

So I waited for the right opportunity to open this relatively rare and unique find. I didn't want to squander it all on myself--something this interesting needs to be shared. I waited. And I waited. And I kept waiting and waiting, never finding the right moment.

In the meantime, I started heading down to JJ's more often--this was right around the time when I saw Garrett Oliver speak there. And each time I went, I picked up another bottle of a rare Allagash and dutifully cellared it next to the Interlude.

Eventually, I realized that I had started to amass a small but respectable collection. Now I really needed an occasion to pop them open! His timing impeccable, Kyle started reminding me that he was still sitting on a bottle of 2005 Odyssey that he had also picked up when he bought the Curieux.

We starting envisioning Allagash Night. But again, when to do it? We tossed around several dates, but it never took hold. Until about 3 weeks ago. I just finished teaching and Kyle was looking to blow off some steam, so we summoned a few of the guys. The instructions were simple--come to my house, but don't come with anything other than Allagash beer.

The hope was that we would get to try the entire line-up. We came close. There were about 16 bottles, all told. And I think we were able to try everything listed on their website except the Hugh Malone, the Grand Cru, the Anniversary Ales, and the Victoria Ale. And we were able to try a few vertical tastings. The complete list is below: I wasn't great about taking notes, but there were a few beers that left a strong impression. I really enjoyed the Four and ended up going back for seconds and thirds with it (for some reason, we had a LOT of the Four). The pairing of Interludes was interesting, too. Surprisingly, I enjoyed the 2006 more than the 2005--the taste was a lot bolder, tarter, more aggressive in the younger beer. I don't think the interesting character in the younger version aged well--it was too muted in the 2005.

All and all, it was a great night. I'm a little burned out on Allagash beers at the moment, but it was interesting to try so many of them in one evening. There was definitely a defining characteristic to all of them. And now I have a great collection of bottles, which I will have to fill with homebrew. (at some point, I'll add some pics, although I can't seem to get my phone to upload them at the moment).

Friday, June 01, 2007

The Session: Mt. Carmel's Blonde Ale

This month's session topic is local beers (thanks to Snekse over at Gastronomic Fight Club for hosting this month and suggesting the theme). This is a relatively easy theme for this blog, since I tend to only write about regional beers.

Unfortunately, Dayton is devoid of breweries and brewpubs, so I went back to my roots and picked up a growler of Mt. Carmel's Blonde Ale. Mt. Carmel Brewing is a relative newcomer to the local scene, but is quickly becoming a favorite. The tiny brewery sits in the eastern suburbs of Cincinnati--only about 2-3 miles from my childhood home (and closer still to my old elementary school). This area is not known for beer (I always assumed it was a Budmillcoors stronghold), so I was shocked when my friend Shane asked me if I had ever tried this beer that was being brewed out of that area. And surprised again at how popular the beer had become--most of my beer-savvy friends have picked up a growler or two and have good things to say.

Husband and wife team Mike and Kathleen Dewey founded the brewery back in 2005 and have built their brewery from the ground up. The couple is continually expanding their distribution area and now distribute growlers to about 30 locations in Cincinnati, as well as more than a dozen combined locations in Dayton and Northern Kentucky. In addition, you can find their beers on tap in more than 20 area locations (including one of my favorite eateries, Dewey's Pizza). In what must have been a coup for the brewing couple, the beers are also available in two locations in The Great American Ballpark, home to the Cincinnati Reds.


They offer a handful of beer styles: a blonde, a copper ale, a nut brown, and a stout. There are no six-packs or single bottles--the beers are available either by the growler or draught. I've tried both the copper ale and the blonde and am partial to the blonde. For this tasting, I picked up a growler of the blonde. I was surprised, however, because the beer that I poured was more similar to the copper, not the pale blonde I had tried earlier (could the growler have been mislabeled?).

No matter, because regardless of the beer's intended style, it was highly drinkable. It had a smooth, round flavor, with a prickly bite at the swallow. The hops were mild and restrained, as were the malt flavors. I picked up faint caramel malt and a slight orange/tangerine flavor. My only critique is that the carbonation was relatively low, and lower as I moved through the growler.

Both of the Mt. Carmel beers I've tried make great session beers. Admittedly, the most recent growler I had wasn't the strongest I've had from the brewery (although I suspect that as a small brewery, they are still working through some occasional QC blips), but everything I've had has been solid. I happily support this small brewery and continue to recommend them to friends. (And I'll be happy when they start offering smaller bottles--a growler is more of a commitment than I'm usually willing to make in an evening!).

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Review: Arnold's Bar and Grill

Just a quick note, since it's been forever since I've posted anything.

My wife's sister is getting married in Cincinnati today. Last night, Arnold's Bar and Grill hosted the rehearsal dinner. Arnold's, located on 8th street near Main, is a staple of Cincinnati pubs, having been around since 1848. We ate on the outdoor courtyard and where accompanied by a trumpet, bass, and guitar trio. And although the bar has only about 6 beers on tap, I was able to sample several great local beers, including Barrelhouse's Duveneck's Dortmunder and Christian Moerlein's Over the Rhine Ale.

Barrelhouse has always been a favorite for me, back when Barrelhouse was still a brewpub and hosted bands. Their Dortmunder was clean and crisp. The Christian Moerlein beer suprised me--frankly, I knew the name from my younger years, but didn't think they were still brewing. I was impressed--the OTR Ale had a huge, fruity ester flavor, with a nice caramel malt body.

This dinner wasn't my first time at Arnold's, but each time, I leave impressed. It's a funny little place--parts of it are small and oddly laid out, giving evidence to its organic growth. But the staff is always friendly (and especially accommodating last night, even with such a huge group) and the food is excellent. I would definitely put it on your to do list if you come to Cincy.

Friday, May 04, 2007

The Session: Three Floyd's Pride & Joy Mild

The first Friday of each month marks The Session, a chance for beer bloggers to unite and share a pint. In March, Stan served up stouts. In April, Alan called dubbels. This month, Jay is Wild About Milds.

The name mild sounds, well, mild and mundane. Turns out, getting one's hands on one is anything but. Alan has been lamenting the lack of milds north of the border, and the comments on his post suggest that he is not alone. I thought I would fare better, since Ohio is a beer crossroads of sorts and my local brew store stocks over 800 varieties of beers. Wrong. There was ONE mild available--a whooping one, from a very surprising source--Three Floyds! Imagine, a mild from the same brewery that just hosted the legendary Dark Lord Day; a brewery that prides itself on over-the-top brews.

Mild was once much more popular than it is now. Years ago, it was the British session beer of choice (as were porters before that), but over the last 40+ years, the popularity of milds has steadily declined. In response, CAMRA (the Campaign for Real Ale) has made a major publicity push to raise public awareness, dubbing May "Mild Month."

What makes a mild? Milds are generally brown in color, with emphasis on caramel, chocolate, and roasted malts (they are a close cousin to brown ales and are often considered browns on tap). Generally, they are less bitter than ESBs or other British hoppy ales. Perhaps most importantly, they are low in alcohol--under 5%, often as low as 3%. The mild is thirst-quenching beer--epitomizing the concept of a session beer.

So what about the Three Floyds Pride & Joy--does it measure up? I'm not sure. I've sampled several of these over the course of a week or so. It's an interesting beer--huge bursts of citrus hops in the nose, mingling with a caramel backdrop. Hops are pretty prevalent in the flavor, too. I pick up hints of chocolate and caramel, but like the nose, it's mostly in the background. It's a little high in alcohol, too--close to 5% makes it a little high for the style.

However, try as hard as I can, I don't see this beer as a mild, based on what I know of the style. BJCP notes that a mild is a close cousin to brown ales and porters, but I don't pick up the chocolate and toffee flavors in this beer that I associate with those styles. Simply put, this beer is too bright, too hoppy, too citrus to be a true mild (although to be fair, Three Floyds notes that it is a hoppy interpretation of the style). I'm not sure that this version works. I think that as far as session beers go, until we can get more milds in the area, I'll stick with Bell's Best Brown.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

News: Follow-up to House Bill 119 issue

Looks like the provision in HB 119 that would limit distribution for brewers and brewpubs has been killed (see my previous post). I just received this email from my state rep:

April 26, 2007

Dear Mr. Gray:

I received your e-mail regarding your concerns with a provision in House Bill 119 that may be harmful to small brewers. I appreciate your willingness to share your views with me.

My colleagues and I have and continue to evaluate House Bill 119 – the state operating budget. Please know that the provision you reference in your e-mail is currently not included in this measure.

Again, thank you for sharing your concerns. Be sure that if issues affecting small brewers arise in the future, I will be mindful of your situation and thoughts. If I can be of further assistance, please contact my office.


Jon A. Husted


Ohio House of Representatives

UPDATE (4/27/07): Here's an email I just received from Support Your Local Brewery, the Brewer's Association advocacy group:

Dear Beer Activists:

Victory in Ohio Thanks to Support Your Local Brewery Members!

On April 19, Support Your Local Brewery was alerted to a potentially devastating piece of legislation on the fast track in the Ohio House of Representatives. A bill dealing with issues relating to the direct shipment of wine was amended to include language that would have essentially stripped self distribution and direct to consumer sales by breweries and brewpubs.

With a floor vote scheduled in less than 24 hours, Ohio members of the Support Your Local Brewery network were alerted and generated dozens of grassroots contacts to legislators’ offices.

By April 20, the offending provision had been pulled from the bill. Your efforts, coupled with the outreach carried on by many Ohio small brewers, turned this threat back, one which would have almost certainly hamstrung many breweries and potentially closed many brewpubs.

Thanks to all those who answered the call, acted in the best traditions of Support Your Local Brewery Beer Activists and helped to ensure the continued success of the Buckeye State’s small brewing community.


Thursday, April 19, 2007


UPDATE (4/21/07): Word from the Beer Advocate forum is that the bill has been withdrawn! Thanks to everyone who contacted their Representatives. The Cleveland Plain Dealer also covered the story.

I just received the following email from the
Brewer's Association. Apparently, Ohio HB 119 contains language that would limit the distribution of craft beer so that brewpubs were required to sell through a wholesaler. I had trouble isolating the exact language in the proposed bill, but I sent an email to my Rep, John Husted, (using the link in the email below) to urge him to avoid passing any law that would limit distribution for the growing craft brew industry. I noted that Ohio's economy is in transition, now that there are many fewer manufacturing jobs, and pointed out the ludicrously of legislation that would essentially crush a growing market sector.

736 Pearl Street
Boulder, Colorado 80302 USA

Dear Beer Activists:

Ohio House Bill 119 contains provisions which would take away the rights of brewers to self distribute their beers and sell direct to consumers, mandating that the beer must move through a wholesaler.

This is an extremely serious threat to all Ohio breweries, but particularly to those brewing such small amounts of beer that there is no interest by wholesalers to distribute the brands and for brewpubs.

This legislation may mean that brewpubs would no longer be able to operate in the state of Ohio.

We understand that this bill will be amended into the general budget bill and may be voted on tomorrow, Friday April 20th. Please don’t delay - contact your state legislators and let them know of your concerns.

To find out who your legislators are go to:

Time is extremely tight – call or email immediately!

Thanks for your support in protecting Ohio’s brewers and beer consumers.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Review: Lost Coast Indica India Pale Ale

Indica IPA is the second beer I sampled from my West Coast exchange with Jay at Hedonist Beer Jive.

This beer holds a huge personal interest to me. Last summer, my wife attended her cousin's wedding in Eureka, CA. While in town, my wife, her sisters, and my mother-in-law stopped at the Lost Cost brewpub. G had great things to say about the beer and brought me back an Indica t-shirt. She was planning to bring a growler back, but the bartender made her concerned about not being able to keep it cool the whole time.

I love the t-shirt and was disappointed that I didn't get to try the beer. When Jay mentioned sending some Lost Coast samples, I was anxious--the art on the t-shirt was so cool (it mirrors the label)--would the beer be as good?

Brewery: Lost Coast Brewery
Brewery Location: Healdsburg (northern California)
Indica IPA (sorry, the LC website doesn't actually list Indica anymore. Wonder what's up?)
BJCP Style: 14B. American IPA

Appearance: Orangish body with creamy white head; cloudy--not clear

Smell: Big citrus and floral hops, similar to the Racer 5 and the Bell's HopSlam (which I have yet to formally review), except that there is a subtle spicy undercurrent in this brew that I didn't pick up in the other two.

Taste: Starts with a big, sweet citrus burst--all hops upfront! I pick up hints of bourbon and vanilla, and the caramel malts complement the hops. Finishes with a lingering spicy hoppy note.

Mouthfeel: huge and full-bodied, with carbonation that, with the hops, pricks the tongue.

Drinkability: Another great big, delicious West Coast IPA. I was not disappointed, except that now I'll clearly have to take a trip to Eureka, too. I have a hard time deciding whether I prefer this or the Racer 5 better. I like the caramel malts and lingering spiciness in this brew, but I think the opening salvo of the Racer 5 might be slightly more assertive. I paired this with spicy Indian food--Aloo Choley.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Events: Kentucky Breakfast Stout on tap

Looking for the ultra rare Founders seasonal on tap? Look no farther than the Founders tap room this weekend, as the brewers throw their 6th annual Black Party.

On tap, all beers black, including Kentucky Breakfast Stout, Breakfast Stout, Oatmeal Stout, Black Rye, Frangelic Stout, Porter, and Imperial Stout. Just in time to warm us up during this brutal winter revival!
The party starts at 5:00 and $7 gets you in and a commerative pint glass full of Oatmeal Stout. For complete details and direx to the Grand Rapids brewery, check Founders site.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Review: Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA

5/4/07 UPDATE: I stopped in my local brew store and was greeted with good news--they are now carrying the Bear Republic line! And I was surprised to see that a 22 oz was only $6.00--that's a steal, compared to comparable beers from this area (like Dreadnaught, which is nearly $10.00 for a 22 oz).

Racer 5 is the first beer I sampled from my West Coast exchange with Jay at Hedonist Beer Jive. I was excited to try this brew, since I've seen it compared to Bell's Hop Slam--a personal favorite from this part of the country.

Bear Republic is a family-owned brewpub located in Sonoma County, CA. Racer 5 is the most famous beer, although many of their beers have garnered multiple awards--including Gold medals at the Great American Beer Festival.

Brewery: Bear Republic Brewery
Brewery Location: Healdsburg (northern California)
Racer 5 IPA
BJCP Style: 14B. American IPA

Appearance: Somewhere between a straw-gold and tangerine with crisp, white head and clean, tight carbonation. The photo above doesn't do the beer justice (so much for trying out the camera phone!).

Smell: Huge citrus hops, reminiscent of Bell's Hop Slam. Pineapple and grapefruit, with the slightest earthy hints deep below and whiffs of caramel as it warms.

Taste: Huge hop explosion--pineapple and mango citrus flavors that demolish the taste buds; well-supported by a solid but unobtrusive moderate malt flavor. The sweet citrus upfront transforms into a dry, earthy hop flavor in the finish--reminds me of the taste of raw hop pellets.

Mouthfeel: moderate--carbonation supports hop flavor

Drinkability: Easy to drink, despite high alpha acids; well-balanced and hides the alcohol well. The finish is a tad much for me towards the end of the glass. That being said, I could still drink a couple of these, although it would have to be toward the end of the evening, so that I don't suffer palate fatigue.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Notes: West Coast Beer Trade

Readers of Hedonist Beer Jive may have noted that I successfully negotiated my second beer swap--this time with Jay in San Fran (my first beer swap was with Ben and Matt over at Several weeks ago, Jay posted a plea for Midwest beers. I was happy to oblige, especially because there were several West Coast ales I was hankering for.

I sent Jay an assorted of Three Floyd's, Bell's, Founders, Great Lakes, and a Dogfish Head (not exactly Midwest, but I guess he can't get DFH out there). In return, I got a gift bag of the beers in the pic below:

Firestone Walker "10"
Lost Coast Great White
Deschutes Black Butte Porter
Deschutes Inversion IPA
Hair of the Dog Doggie Claws (barleywine)
I'm very excited about all of these beers--especially the "10." FW once shipped to Ohio--long enough for me to develop a taste for their brews (I'm partial to their porter), but they stopped distributing right around the time "10" was announced. I was crestfallen. Not so anymore.

Look for reviews of the above beers to follow, although the "10" and the Doggie Claws may take some time (the DC might take a long time--all reports on BeerAdvocate note that it takes a while to reach its prime). And don't forget to check out Jay's blog to see his impressions of the Midwest favorites.

Friday, March 30, 2007

News: Goose Island IPA Declared "Best Beer in the World"

Kudos to Goose Island, one of Chicago's best known breweries. A BeerAdvocate article reports that Britain's craft brew cognoscenti Roger Protz has declared that Goose Island IPA “may just be the best beer in the world.” Protz is an accomplished beer writer, CAMRA member, and recipient of numerous awards, including Beer Drinker of the Year.

Of course, as the article points out, determining the "best beer" is a little like a author what his or her favorite book is or a musician what his or her favorite song is--so much depends upon subjective tastes (and a red wheelbarrow). All that being said, it's great to see Goose Island receiving accolades from across the pond. Goose Island is so widely available that sometimes it is overlooked in lieu of the rarer, more extreme beers. But Goose Island makes solid, consistent, and interesting beers and it's great to know that I can find it on tap all over town.

News: Alström Bros in NY Times

Beer Advocate - Respect Beer.

Just a quick note: I've mentioned before Eric Asimov's great columns in the NY Times. Asimov is the staff wine writer, but is also quite knowledgeable about beer and beer culture. In his most recent installment, Asimov profiles Todd and Jason Alström, founders of the beloved BeerAdvocate website and the new magazine (thanks to Jay Brooks for pointing me to this story).

Asimov advocates well for beer culture. He explains the scene, and does a great job advancing the beer geek cause in a way that is inclusive of all readers. Great to see sincere brewing coverage gaining ground in mainstream media.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Event: Jungle Jim's Spring Beer Fest

Jungle Jim's, the foodie paradise just north of Cincy, has announced the second annual Spring Beer fest. Here are the details from the email newsletter:

Come and join us for Jungle Jim's Second Spring Beer Fest! It is going to occur on Saturday, May 12, 2007 from 4 pm to 8 pm. It will be held in The Oscar Event Center at Jungle Jim's. The tickets are $35 for advance tickets and $40 for tickets at the door.

How to purchase tickets:

· At the coffee bar (in the beer and wine department)
· Customer service
· Call for reservations 513-674-6000 ext 7

What to expect at the Beer Fest:

· Meet brewery representatives

· Sample Import and American craft beer

· Food & Prizes

· Music – Phil Dirt and the Dozers
· Also a cash bar at Oscar's Pub until Midnight!

Readers of this blog know that I've spent a fair amount of time at Jungle Jim's tasting events. They've brought in Garrett Oliver (Brooklyn Brewery) and Dave Engbers (Founders) and have offered some amazing brews that I'm sure I could get not anywhere else. I'd expect more of the same, with some tasty surprises!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Events: Barrelhouse on Reds Opening Day

The start of the baseball season is just a little over a week away. Cincy's BarrelHouse will be celebrating with a customer appreciation day on Opening Day. Here are the details, via the RateBeer posting and the BarrelHouse website:
The BarrelHouse, along with Avril-Bleh Meats, is hosting a Customer Appreciation Day to celebrate the Reds opening day on April 2nd. The event will be from 9 am to 3 pm, and will feature $1 beers and $1 brats. There will be a $5 cover charge to get in, and there will be a raffle for prizes, including a pair of Opening Day tickets that will be given out at 1 pm. All proceeds from the event will be given to a local charity. Roll on down to the BarrelHouse and join us!

Also, don't forget to support your local brewery while you're cheering on your favorite team at your favorite ball park. RedLegg Ale is a natural, and is more widely available this year than ever before.

RedLegg Ale, named after the Cincinnati hometown favorite, is tasty stuff--one of the better red ales I've had (and I'm not particularly fond of the style). In fact, most of the BarrelHouse beers are excellent. They were strictly a brewpub for years, but have moved in the opposite direction and are now strictly a brewery. Too bad for us local folks--they used to have great bands play--but good news for folks living outside of Cincy. Hopefully, these beers will start getting distributed more widely.

Here's the address and other important stuff:

Monday, April 2nd from 9 am-3 pm
BarrelHouse Brewing Company
544-B West Liberty Street
Cincinnati, OH, USA

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Recap: St. Patrick's Day Pub Crawl

Several of us set out on a St. Paddy's day crawl Saturday, hitting some of Dayton's better beer bars. It's been about 3 years in the making--Alex and I were to do a crawl a few years ago, but each year, it hasn't worked out. Finally, this year, the stars aligned.

We started the morning at Boston's Bistro. They opened at 6 am, and business was steady and picking up when we arrived at 10:30. Boston's has a great selection of beers, and the draft selection featured most of Barrelhouse's line. Between the three of us, we sampled the Boss Cox Double Dark IPA (cask), the Red Legg ale, the Cumberland Pale Ale, the Hocking Hills Hefeweizen, and the Scotch Ale, as well as some requisite Guinness pints.

Lunchtime found us trekking across town to Taggart's (with a quick stop at Pug's Dog House for some Chicago-style hot dogs). Taggart's is a neighborhood bar that my wife's stepsister's husband co-owns with his sister. Taggart's is a great bar (round the corner from my house), with a regular following. We watch OSU football games there. Recently, Mike has been stocking more and more craft beers. For a while, you could get Beamish for $2.50 a pint and the Goose Island beers always seem to be on special. Recently, they've brought in Arrogant Bastard, which Mike tells me has been selling well.

We caught part of the OSU/Xavier basketball game, drinking Goose Island Kilgubbin's, Guinness, and Murphy's stouts, before mixing in shots of bourbon.

After picking up a cigar from the smoke shop next door, we headed to Tank's, where Benjamin joined us. More food and more bourbon. For the life of me, I can't recall which beer I had (that's probably due to the bourbon), but Tank's regularly has a great selection of bottled and draft beers.

Later, we parted ways with Benjamin and headed out to the clubhouse, a warehouse studio hangout that Shane rents with another mutual friend. Complete with a pool table, a bourbon bar, a killer record collection, and huge picture windows that offer great views of the city, the clubhouse is a perfect place to whittle away an afternoon or evening. Kyle and Nathan eventually joined us, and Kyle brought some Mt. Carmel's copper ale and some Dogfish Head Blue & White.

Finally, one last stop: the Trolley Stop, to see our friend Denise. The Trolley is another local hangout that usually has several interesting beers on tap. Saturday, we ordered rounds of Dogfish Head 60 min. IPA. Needless to say, after that beer, most of us were done for the night. But it was great to hit some Dayton beer hot spots without suffering the ubiquitous green beer.