Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Review: Cottonwood Endo IPA

Installment number 3 of the beers provided by Ben and company at SevenPack.net. Carolina Beer and Beverage Company's stated goal is to become "the premier regional brewery of the Southeast," taking on Budmillcoors. To that end, the brewery offers a Carolina blonde and a Carolina Light, as well as their Cottonwood ale series, to which group today's beer belongs. In addition to the Endo IPA, the Cottonwood series includes a brown ale, and a set of seasonal high-gravity beers. Not surprisingly, the Cottonwood series tends to be more the favorite of the BeerAdvocate crowd.

A note about the name: according to the company website, the Cottonwood Endo IPA was brewed in dedication to the Cottonwood Mountain Bike Race Team ("endo" being a cycling term for flipping over one's handlebars)
.

Brewery: Carolina Beer & Beverage Company
Brewery Location: Mooresville (western North Carolina)
Beer:
Cottonwood Endo IPA
BJCP Style:
14B. American IPA
Serving:
Bottle

Appearance: clear amber body, with a thick head

Smell: nice citrus (Cascade) hop aroma, with mild malt aroma as it warms

Taste: big hops balance well with dry malt character; hop flavor is bright, clean, and citrusy, making the beer crisp, without being overwhelmed by hops, with a dry hop finish

Mouthfeel: mild, very pleasant carbonation that accentuates the beer's hoppiness

Drinkability: Heavily hopped, yet extremely well-balanced--contrary to the name, this beer won't send you headfirst over the handlebars. Very pleasurable, very drinkable--could be a decent session beer.

Review: Highland Oatmeal Porter

Here's my review of the second beer Ben and company at SevenPack.net provided. Highland Brewing Company seems to be a big name on the local scene, and oatmeal porter is an interesting style idea. (A note about the style categorization below: it doesn't quite fit into the Brown Porter category, but it's the best fit possible. A pretty clear example of how, sometimes, the BJCP styles can be limiting.)

Brewery: Highland Brewing Company
Brewery Location: Asheville (western North Carolina)
Beer:
Oatmeal Porter
BJCP Style:
12A. Brown Porter
Serving:
Bottle

Appearance: Pours black/brown, with a big head; big, loose bubbles cling to the side of the glass; held up to the light, it turns a reddish-brown

Smell: rich, chocolate roast, similar to Bell's Porter--enough to make me salivate like one of Pavlov's dogs!

Taste: Chocolate and roasted malts, with a nice hop balance; flavor starts strong, but diminishes mid-finish, leaving remnants of a roasty aftertaste--could be a tad beefier; I can't sense much of the oat flavor

Mouthfeel: creamy, with carbonation prickly on tongue

Drinkability: A little prickly due to the carbonation, and I wish the beer was meatier mid-finish, but it's still a highly drinkable porter; hints of chocolate and roast, without being overbearing, make this a solid session porter.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Review: Big Boss IPA

This beer is the first of seven beers provided by Ben and company at SevenPack.net. I've been curious about North Carolina brewing for a while and was glad to try some regional beers. Decided to try the gorilla first.

Brewery: Edenton Brewing Company
Brewery Location: Raleigh (eastern North Carolina)
Beer:
Big Boss IPA
BJCP Style:
14B. American IPA
Serving:
Bottle

Appearance: Reddish straw, the color of amber malt; low white head; overall, somewhat cloudy

Smell: Huge citrus hops

Taste: Hops! Even more hops than the nose suggests--big full citrusy hops give it a bright, fresh flavor; malt build behind hops is tasty, but is buried below the huge hop taste--perhaps a bit much for my taste

Mouthfeel: Tart

Drinkability: I had been hoping for a hop monster when I popped this open (I mean, really, what else would a stoggie-smoking gorilla denote?) and I got it. However, I wish there was a tad more of the malt to round the beer out a bit more--it's so hoppy that it teeters on being one-dimensional. It's a good, solid beer, but just shy of being a giant, great beer.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Notes: North Carolina Beers

I've heard of great things happening in North Carolina, where, thanks to the efforts of the folks associated with Pop The Cap, NC brewers are finally able to brew big beers. Thanks to Ben and crew over at SevenPack.net for hooking me up with some North Carolina brews that I can't get on this far North. I'll be publishing my review of each of the beers individually (I've actually already consumed them all--it's just taken me a while to get the reviews posted. Good thing I take extensive notes!). Below is the full list:

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Events: Lots of Ohio area events coming up

At some point, I'm going to figure out a way to compile a calendar to keep track of all of this stuff. Until then, I suppose individual posts will have to suffice.

January 18 (tonight)
Dayton, OH
Monthly beer tasting at Boston's Bistro. Theme for tonight seems to be big beers. Starts at 7 pm and costs $7. No reservations needed.

January 26
Cincinnati, OH
Founders tasting at Jungle Jim's. Dave Engbers to host. Starts at 7 and costs $25. Call ahead for reservations (513.674.6000 x7).

January 31
Cleveland, OH
Great Lakes Brewing Company is tapping their Blackout Stout. Party starts at 5:30 and is $5 in advance; $8 at the door (although I believe that the advanced tix are sold out).

February 7
Cincinnati, OH
Mug Club tapping at Rockbottom Brewery. Headbrewer Guy Bartmess will be tapping a bock. Runs from 6-7 p.m. Club members only, but I think it's fairly easy to join the club. Contact brewery for details or register online.

February 9
Cincinnati, OH Old World vs. New World tasting at Jungle Jim's. Starts at 7 and costs $25.
Call ahead for reservations (513.674.6000 x7).

February 22
Dayton, OH
Monthly beer tasting at Boston's Bistro. This time, beers will all be from Stone Brewing (after all, Boston's is the Most Arrogant Pub in the US) . Starts at 7 pm and costs $7. No reservations needed.

February 23
Cincinnati, OH Mike Dewey of Mt. Carmel Brewing Company hosts a tasting at Jungle Jim's. Starts at 7 and costs $25.
Call ahead for reservations (513.674.6000 x7).

Monday, January 15, 2007

Recap: Jungle Jim's Best of the New Tasting

Friday night, we headed down to Fairfield (north of Cincinnati) for our third Jungle Jim's beer tasting. The theme of the night was beers that were new to the Ohio market in 2006.

Derek, who hosted the last tasting, also ran this event, giving insightful commentary about the beers themselves, as well as the state of the beer industry (including a long discussion on Budmillcoors' recent reactions to the continued growth of the craft brew industry). He noted that this was a more difficult tasting to arrange this year than in years past because many breweries were limited from introducing new products by the ever-progressive state of Ohio.

Nevertheless, Derek arranged an interesting flight, with some old favorites and a fair number of beers I hadn't yet tried (or have even seen on the shelves of our local brew store). Below is the order, as well as a few comments about each.
  • Bell's Lager Beer (Bell's Brewery, Inc.)--sharp Saaz hop taste, relatively clean finish, with some metallic bite; an interesting beer, and a good one to start the night off with, but probably my least favorite offering from Bell's.
  • Celis White (Michigan Brewing Co.)--the classic Wit Bier has returned to Ohio; different that I recall when I first tasted it, years ago; a lot sweeter (almost too sweet), with loads of citrus and spice (particularly clove, presumably from the yeast).
  • Black Dog Ale (Spanish Peaks Brewing Co.)--on the sweet side, with low to moderate hops; easy to drink
  • Cocoa Porter (Tommyknocker Brewery)--strong chocolate nose, followed by strong chocolate taste; similar to Young's Double Chocolate, although not as smooth, and more powdery; slightest hints of roast flavor buried under mounds of cocoa
  • Prohibition Ale (Speakeasy Ales & Lagers)--this beer was a surprise hit--I thought the Speakeasy bit would be gimmicky, with a less than stellar beer, but I was pleasantly surprised; well-hopped with floral note and citrus and pine flavors
  • Double White (Southampton Ales & Lagers)--clove in the nose; tart mouthfeel; spices well-balanced; less sweet than Celis--drier
  • Celis Grand Cru (Michigan Brewing Co.)--spiciness, largely due to yeast; with slight hints of Brett in finish; honey and Champagne mouthfeel
  • Big Daddy IPA (Speakeasy Ales & Lagers)--another nice surprise with big piney hops reminicent of Rogue's Santa's Private Reserve; well-balanced, with malt carrying hops (citrus up front, then fades to pine) throughout swallow
  • Buffalo Stout (Brouwerij Van Den Bossche)--Belgian yeast dominates flavor, with hints of roast and chocolate swirling about; huge, effervescent mouthfeel
  • HopSickle (Moylan's Brewing Co.)--smells like opening a fresh bag of hops; extremely bitter, but somehow the beer works; probably the most complex hop flavor I've encountered

The full lineup
The only real disappointment of the night was that Ed was on vacation and had the keys to the adjacent bar, so we weren't able to hang out and put back a few pints after the event. A real bummer since there was still clearly a keg of HopSlam!

More upcoming tastings at Jungle Jim's:

January 26
Dave Engbers of Founders Brewing hosts. Expect BIG beers. Very big beers.

February 9
Old World vs. New World--European brews take on their American upstart cousins.

February 23
Mike Dewey of Mt. Carmel Brewing Company hosts. Mike runs a nano-brewery that is quickly gaining ground in the southwestern Ohio region. Special fondness for this brewery since it is located about 1/4 of a mile from the neighborhood where I grew up.


Greg demonstrates a true wit bier
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Saturday, January 13, 2007

Event: 2007 Michigan Brewers Guild Winter Beer Festival

For those of you in the Michigan area, be sure to check out the second annual Winter Beer Festival, brought to you by the Michigan Brewers Guild. Yes, it's outside, but apparently there are heated tents and lots of big beers to keep you warm. The festival is Saturday, February 24 from noon to 5 pm. Check out the bus service from the Corner Brewery and from Arbor Brewery.

(Thanks to W├Ârtwurst for bringing this event to my attention. And watch Corner Brewery's blog for updates.)

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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Event: Ohio Brew Week

Just received a RateBeer notification about Ohio Brew Week, which will take place on July 16-21st, 2007 in Athens, Ohio. Great news for me--I'll be about an hour north of there for a family reunion that around that time, and may need to swing south to visit my alma mater, Ohio University. Athens, for those not familiar, is a great little college town in the foothills of southeastern Ohio. Fond memories of the town, especially since my wife and I met there. So I am pleased to see Athens play host to the regional beer festival.

Past highlights of Ohio Beer Week have included sessions with beer speakers, homebrew competitions, opportunities to try Ohio microbrews, and apparently lots of focus on cooking with beer (fitting, since 10 of the local restaurants are hosting the event). More info as I learn more.

A word to the wise, though--the limited hotel accommodations in the area fill up quickly, even in the summer. Best to book rooms now.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Notes: Beer Laws By State

I was dismayed recently when reminded that here in Ohio, we can't buy beers that exceed 12% ABV (which explains why I can't find DFH 120 min IPA anywhere). Curious, I did a little research into beer laws in other states and found an excellent Wikipedia article that lists the laws by state. The table is still a work in progress, but it gives a decent overview. It also links to a site with a comprehensive list of state alcoholic beverage and/or liquor control agencies.

In addition, I stumbled upon the list of beers approved for sale within the last six to nine months for the state of Ohio. I believe the list is published several times a year. It's interesting to scan through and I wonder if there's a comprehensive list of beers approved for sale here. It would make a great start to a wish list!

Finally, in a slightly related note, it looks like Indiana auctions off all of the confiscated liquor at the end of the year. The complete list is quite impressive. I wonder if other states do the same.