Friday, January 30, 2009

Tröegs Nugget Nectar

Beer: Nugget Nectar

Brewer: Tröegs

Style: Red Ale

Tasting notes: (2) I figured out what I don't like about the beer - perfumey hops. (1) An imperial red? A red IPA? Roasty malt and floral hops. Recommended with qualifications.

Dates on which reviewers at Beeradvocate rated it as one of the top 100 beers on the planet: 29 December 2005, 10 March 1007, and 30 January 2009.

Rating: Good

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Another 2-Beer Night

Beer: Weisse

Brewer: Scheidner

Style: Hefeweizen

Tasting notes: (2) Lemony and wheaty w/ a small hole in the flavor. (1) Pleasant darker hefe. Very subdued and smooth.

Rating: Good

Beer: Expedition Stout

Brewer: Bells

Style: Imperial Stout

Tasting notes: (8) Another disappointment. Nice chocolate smell at first. Then a taste like cardboard soaked in soy sauce appears. Both disappointments were brewed on 1 Feb 2007. Perhaps the batch is bad? Removed from my top-10ish list. (7) A disappointment. Unsalted soy flavor and hot. Oxidation? No longer a favorite. (6) Malty mix of milk and bittersweet chocolate Alcohol peeked out. Went great w/ chocolate dessert and was a delightful after-dinner sipper. Back to being a favorite. (5) Big malt with touch of chocolate and a long bitter hop finish. Back to a top10ish beer but not a favorite. (4) A 2006-07 bottle. Yummy!!!. Charcoal milkshake with coffee and hops. Alcohol is present but subdued. One of my absolute favorite beers. (3) 2007-08 bottle. When cold a charcoal milkshake. Then a little hot. With more warming a sour/bitter hop bite at finish emerged. Emily described it as rich". I suspect it will be fantastic with some age. In my Top-10ish list. Would be one of may favorite beers except it is too hot. (2) Yummy - THICK, dark malt, dark fruit, charcoal, burnt chocolate, and a little alcohol burn. The perfect stout? (1) Black as old motor oil and twice as thick.

Comments: My rating for this beer has traditionally bounced between one of my all-time favorites and being in my top-10ish list. Two consecutive disappointments have led to a severe downgrade in the rating.

Dates on which reviewers at rated the beer as one of the top 100 beers on the planet: 29 December 2005 and 10 March 2007. (Not on 30 January 2009.)
Rating: Recommended with qualification.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Sierra Nevada Night

Beer: ESB

Brewer: Sierra Nevada

Style: ESB

Tasting notes: (2) Very nice. Easy drinking and flavorful w/ a nice bitters finish. (1) Very English for Sierra Nevada. Understated, tasty and too quaffable. Sweet malt followed by dry bitters. Went great w/ burger topped w/ maple smoked bacon. Quaffability increased the rating.

Comments: I liked the 1st bottle I had that I looked for the beer in Kroger. I bought a case for $14.49 + tax. A great value @ $1.25/bottle. Sierra Nevada releases ESB once a year in the early spring. I have now had two super-super fresh bottles before February.

Rating: Recommended without resesrvation

Beer Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale, 2009

Brewer: Sierra Nevada

Style American Barleywine

Tasting notes: Loads of hops and a strong bitter hop bite at end. Delicious and smoother than I remember. Have my tastes changed or is the year's version a little tamer?

Comments: Sierra Nevada releases Bigfoot once a year in the winter. This bottle is super fresh.

Date on which reviewers at rated it as one of the top 100 beers on the planet: 29 Decemember 2005. (Not 10 March 2007 or 30 January 2009.)
Recommendation: Top 10ish. Bigfoot joins the Top-10ish club. Previous years are highly recommended.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Sierra Nevada ESB (Early Spring Beer)

Beer: ESB (Early Spring Beer)

Brewer: Sierra Nevada

Style ESB

Tasting notes: This beer has an understated tastiness that is very English for Sierra Nevada. The flavor starts w/ a little sweet malt and ends w/ dry bitters. The beer went great w/ burger topped w/ maple smoked bacon. It goes beyond quaffable into gulpable. Its drinkability and tastiness for such a "small" beer increased its rating slightly. It would be a wonderful session beer. Perhaps freshness matters - I am drinking a 2009 Early Spring Beer in January.

Comments: Sierra Nevada uses ESB cleverly. ESB usually means Extra Strong Bitter or Extra Special Bitter. The brewery takes the same initials to refer to their early spring beer. Bitter is a classic brew in English pubs - a bit more hops and bite than mild ales. ESB is a little more of what makes Bitter bitter.

Rating: Recommended without reservation

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Clipper City Heavy Seas Loose Cannon

Beer: Heavy Seas Loose Cannon Hop3 Ale

Brewer: Clipper City

Style: Double IPA

Tasting notes: (3) Aromatic hops dominates the palate. Very low bitterness given the hop load. Went great w/ spicy tortillo soup. (2) More hops and less sweet than I remembered. A nice bitter hop bite. (1) I would describe the beer as an IPA with a touch of sweet and was surprised to see it classified as a DIPA. Hops were present and nice but not overbearing. Maybe I'm becoming immune to them.

Comments: Hop3 Ale uses over 3 pounds of hops per barrel and is hopped 3 ways - in the kettle, in the hop back, and dry hopped. Heavy Seas is the line of BIG beers from Clipper City, many of which are seasonal. Clipper City is located in Baltimore, MD.

Rating: Recommended without qualifications

Friday, January 23, 2009

Sierra Nevada

When a friend and I asked a beer geek for recommendations when we first began to explore craft beer, the geek replied, "Sierra Nevada." Having tried several different styles from the brewer, I, too, would suggest that a newbie sample several of the brewer's beers to taste craft beer and learn about the wide variety of styles available.

Sierra Nevada's beers are generally of high quality and good values. The Pale Ale is classic and is relatively widely available in restaurants. The Stout might be the one beer I would choose if stranded on a desert island, Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale may have the most flavor per dollar of any beer. The Harvest Ale uses fresh hops and is a favorite Fall release.

No brewer is perfect. A few of their beers are too piney for my taste, e.g., Celebration Ale, their widely acclaimed Winter seasonal. Other beers miss the mark. The IPA didn't come together.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Sierra Nevada Stout

Beer: Stout

Brewer: Sierra Nevada

Style: Stout

Tasting notes: (5) Delightful again. A hoppy stout with smoke. (4) Delightful. Smoky w/ a blast of nw hops. (3) The more I drink it, the more I like it. The best "everyday" stout? (2) Very nice. (1) An American Stout with a little more hops. The first stout I really liked. Best at room temperature.

Comments: Sierra Nevada puts an American twist on the British classic. The beer has a good dose of Northwest hops.

Recommendation: Recommended without reservation

St. Bernardus Abt 12

Beer: Abt 12

Brewer: St. Bernardus

Style: Quadruple

Tasting notes: (3) Sweet apples when cold. As the beer warmed, a tiche of alcohol emerged and a nice light hoppy spicy finish emerged. Did not make me go WOW. (2) A complex mix of alcohol sweetness, brown sugar, apple butter, and cinnamon with a touch of sour bitterness at the end. Made me go Wow!. (1) Complex, sweet, dark fruits, and alcohol. Good to sip and (too?) easy to gulp. Did not make me go Wow!. Would like to age some in cellar.

Dates on which reviewers @ BeerAdvocate rated the beer as one of the top 100 beers on the planet: 29 December 2005, 10 March 2007, 22 January 2009.

Recommendation: Recommended without reservation. I vacillate between highly and without reservation.

Great Divide Hibernation Ale

Brewer: Great Divide

Style: Old Ale

Tasting notes: (1102) A 3-yr. 3-mn. old bottle. A hoppy brown ale w/ a creme brulee bite. Downgraded from 5 glasses. (1012) A 3-yr 1 mn old bottle. A thin English Barleywine w/ old ale sour flavor. Makes me wonder what more age would do. (1010) A 1-yr 10-mn. old bottle. Cream brulee, heavy on the brulee, w/ a sourish finish. (1001) A two-year old bottle. A toned down Old Ruffian? Old Ale w/ hops? Nice malty start followed by hoppy bite w/ a little sour, chocolate, coffee, and caramel. Seemed a tiche thiner than I remembered, something like Fullers Vintage Ale. May be the age. (6) Sweet caramel malt, an "Old" sourness, and pleasant spicy bite. (5) Burnt caramel. (4) Toffee, coffee, and chocolate. (3) Wonderful. Caramel followed by sour bite. (2) Less impressive. Malt lacking. (1) Wonderful. Caramel malt nicely balanced with a bitter, piney hop finish. Flavorful but not overpowering. An English Barleywine or Old Ale w/ a touch more hops. Good to drink. Fine to sip. I want more.

Comments: Great Divide Hibernation Ale is the brewer's seasonal release in Winter. The brewer achieves a wonderful spiciness without adding spices. Spices are frequent trademark of winter beers. It blurs the line between Old Ale, Strong Ale, and Winter Warmer.

Previous ratings: 5, 6, 5 glasses

Rating: 4 glasses

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Old Beer Ads

These old ads show what advertisers used to be able to say and bring back old memories. I love how Blatz makes beer sound like health food. Mackeson's contains no milk, despite the nice picture in the ad. I am surprised that Carlsburg could claim that it was probably the best beer in the world: doesn't probably imply that the percentage is greater than 50? The only truth in advertising occurs where Schlitz claims to have "Just a kiss of the hops." Finally, the ad for PBR shows how little things have changed. What is the difference between having "the touch" and "drinkability"?

Monday, January 19, 2009

My recommendations

I have rated beers using a seven-glass rating system, with 7 glasses being the highest.

7 glasses (Top 10ish list: My current favorite beers)

Trappistes Rochefort 10 * Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA * Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Style Barleywine Style Ale * BFM Brasserie Des Granches-Montagnes Abbaye de Saint Bon-Chien Grand Cru * Duvel * Smutty Nose "Finest Kind" IPA * Cantillon Gueuze * J. W. Lees Harvest Ale * J. W. Lees Harvest Ale aged in Calvados Casks * Hanssens Oude Kriek * Southhampton Saison Deluxe * Russian River SantificationCantillon St. Lamvinus * Cantillon Vigneronee

6 glasses (Highly Recommended: Beers I really like and think are great examples of the style)

Aventinus * Aventinus Weizen Eisbock * Baltic Porter (Smuttynose) * Biere de Garde (Southhampton) * Biere de Mars (Ommegang)Cuvee des Jacobins Rouge * Double Bastard * Dogfish Heat 90 Minute IPA * Dupont Avec Les Bons Voeux * Fullers Vintage Ale * Gueuze 1882 Black Label * Heady TopperHennepin * Imperial Stout (Founders) * Karmeliet * La Chouffe * Hardywood Bourbon Cru *  Mariage Parfait * Northern Hemisphere Harvest Ale * Oak Aged Yeti Imperial Stout / Oerbier ReservaOld Rasputin * Old Ruffian * Orval * Oude Geuze (Drie Fonteine) *Prior 8 *  Russian River Supplication * Saison (Dupont) * Speedway StoutSquare root 225St. Bernardus Abt 12 * Temptation * TEN FIDY * Third Coast Old Ale * Trappistes Rochefort 8 *  / Triple ReserveWitbier (St. Bernardus)  Yeti Imperial Stout

5 glasses (Recommended without qualification: Something that tempts me to buy it whenever I see it)

Ara Bier * Baltic Thunder * Big D.I.P.A * Black Chocolate Stout * Brown Sugga' (cask) * Chocolate Stout (Rogue) * Delirium NocturumDouble Jack * Dulle Teve * ESB (Sierra Nevada) * Full Nelson * Gulden Draak * Grand Reserve (Blue) * Heavy Seas Loose Canon * Hefeweissbier (Weihenstephaner) * Hop Crisis * Imperial Russian Stout (Stone) * Keller Pils * La Fin Du Monde * Les Deux Brasseurs * Lindemans Gueuze Cuvée René Maharaja * Maerfant Damse * Maudite * Monster Ale * North Coast Old Rasputin Imperial StoutOatmeal Stout (Samuel Smith)Oerbier * Oktoberfest (Brooklyn) * Original White Ale * Oude Gueuze (Hanssens) * Peche Mortel * Porter (Duck-Rabbit) * Porter (Founders) * Porter (Sinebrychoff) * Prima Pils * Pride and Joy * Racer 5 * Raging Bitch * Robust PorterSaison - Brett * Shakespeare Stout * Siberian Night * Stille Nacht * Stout (Sierra Nevada) * Three Philosophers * Tripel (Chimay) * Tripel (St. Bernardus) * Tripel (Westmalle) * Trois Pistoles / Undercover Investigator Shut-Down Ale White Oak

4 glasses (Recommended with reservations: Something that I may seek to buy occasionally)

2 x IPA * 6 (Trappistes Rochefort) * 13th Anniversary (Stone) * 60 Minute IPA * 1809 * Abbey Ale (Ommegang) * ACME California IPA * Anniversary Ale - Sixeen (Avery) * Arrogant Bastard * Batch 9000 (Bells) * Bavarian Style Hefeweizen * Blue Mountain Artisanal Ale * Breakfast Stout / Calva Reserva / Cappuccino Stout / Dale's Pale Ale / Dubbel (Allagash) / Expedition Stout / Foreign Extra Stout / Framboise / Golden Cap / Hefe-Weissbier Naturtrub (Paulaner) * Hibernation Ale * Hop-It * Imperial IPA (Green Flash) * In Heat Wheat * IPA (Lagunitas) * IPA (St. George) * Ichtegem's Grand Cru * (The) Love * Millennium * Mothership Wit * Oarsman * Oberon * Octoberfest (Bells) * Oktober Fest-Märzen (Ayinger) / Old Horizontal * Old Jubulation * Old Viscosity / Ommegeddon / Pale Ale (Sierra Nevada) / Petrus Aged Pale Ale / Pinhead / Prima Melior / Rare Vos / Red Seal Ale / Red's Rye PA * Rockfish Wheat * Ruination * Saison (Fantôme) * Saison Rue * Saisonnière * Salvator * Smuttynose Winter AleSouthern Hemisphere Harvest Ale * Titan IPA * Tripel Perfection * Twisted Thistle IPA * Unearthly / Vitus / Whiskey-Barrel Aged Gonzo / White (Allagash)

3 glasses (Good: A beer that I enjoy but is not good enough to seek out)

2009 Vintage Ale (Trader Joe's) / Ale (Bass)Bell's Special Double Cream Stout / Black and Tan (Yuengling) / Blonde (Leffe) / Blue Star Wheat Ale / CelebrationCenter of the Universe PocahoptasDark Starr Stout * Gonzo * Gordon / Gronie / Gumballhead / Hefeweizen (Widmer) / Hottenroth Berliner Weisse / IPA (Southern Tier) * Joseph Brau Dunkelweizen * Jumo Lager / Kellerweis * Kentucky Breakfast Stout * Levitation Ale * N'Ice Chouffe * Noble Pils * Nugget Nectar */ Old #38 Stout / Old Leghumper / Oude Geuze VieillePhantasmic East Coast IPA * Polestar Pilsner * Rose de Gambrinus / Scarlette Lady / Snake Dog IPA / Sparkling Ale (Bells)Stockyard Oatmeal Stout / Summerfest / Torpedo Extra IPA / Tripel (Koningshoeven) / Twelve / Vinyl / Weisse (Schneidner)

2 glasses (Average: Something that I am happy to drink again)

80 Acre * 312 Urban Wheat Ale * 2010 Vintage Ale * Blue Ribbon / Boston Lager / Fresh Farmhouse Ale / Jefferson's Reserve Bourbon Barrel Stout / Joseph Brau Oktoberfest / Nastro Azzurro (Peroni) / Negra ModeloCaledonian Newcastle Winter IPA / Northern Lights / Octoberfest (Samuel Adams) / Pilsner Urquell / Pure Brewed Lager / Summer Ale / Sunray Wheat Ale / Traditional Lager (Yuengling) / Two Hearted Ale / Winter Solstice

1 glass (Poor: I'll drink freebies if nothing else is available)

Brown Ale (Legend) / Budweiser / Golden Ale (Legend) / Hardywood Baltic Porter with Bacon and MapleKriek (Oud Beersel) / Oak Barrel Stout / Premium Pils / World Wide Stout

0 glasses (No Thanks: I prefer water)

(The) Gift, Octoberfest (Legend)

Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA

Beer: 60 Minute IPA

Brewer: Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA

Style: IPA

Tasting notes: (1) A part of a bottle - spilled the glass. Ditto as last review. (2) A bottle @ Avalon. Floral and fruity hops w/ a sweet ending. OK. (1) A taste @ SBF. Nice but no Smutty Nose

Comments: I think I remember seeing somewhere that the number of minutes refers to the time the beer is boiled and dry hopped. The Dogfish Head website says that the 120 minutes is dry hopped for 2 hours. I cannot find a similar statement for 60 minutes.

Recommendation: Recommended with qualifications. I like other IPAs better.

Southern Tier IPA

Beer: IPA

Brewer: Southern Tier

Style: IPA

Tasting notes: Generally mild hops for an IPA but the finish had an offsetting, bitter piney flavor.

Comments: Reviewers on like the beer more than I.

Recommendation: Good

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Founders Breakfast Stout.

Beer: Breakfast Stout

Brewer: Founders

Style: Imperial Stout

Tasting notes: (2) Like chewing coffee beans. (1) Do you like coffee? Founders Breakfast Stout is flavorful, quaffable, and surprisingly mellow. The coffee tones as the beer warms.

Comments: The ingredients include flaked oats, bitter and sweetened imported chocolates, and Sumatra and Kona coffee.

Dates on which reviewers at BeerAdvocate rated the beer as one of the top 100 on the planet: 29 December 2005, 10 March 2007, and 20 December 2008.

Recommendation: Recommended with qualifications. It is too one dimensional to me.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Lager Night

I enjoyed two European lagers tonight with spuds.

Beer: Nastro Azzurro

Brewer: Peroni

Style: Euopean Pale Lager

Tasting notes: (2) A rough, slightly unpleasant flavor. (1) Dry and pleasant, w/ a tiche of musty hops.

Recommendation: Average

Beer: Gronie

Brewer: Tyskie

Style: Euopean Pale Lager

Tasting notes: An easy drinking pleasant lager.

Recommendation: Good

Friday, January 2, 2009

Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale

Beer: Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale (2008)

Brewer: Sierra Nevada

Style: American Barleywine

Tasting notes: (4) Wonderful malty sweetness balanced by piney hops. It had a flavor in the malt I have trouble placing: chocolaty port? (3) SWEET caramel malt followed by a big, bitter, piney bite. SNPA on steroids? (2) Lots of pine but not too much and almost quaffable. (1) Piney hops. Surprising easy drinking. Is it me or the vintage? Should age well.

Comments: SNBFBW was my first really BIG beer. I thought it was close to being over the top. It is now one of my most cellared beers. It is released once a year around January. It goes great w/ carrot cake covered in white icing.

Dates on which reviewers at rated it as one of the top 100 beers on the planet: 29 December 2005.

Recommendation: Recommended highly.

Yuengling Black and Tan

Beer: Black and Tan

Brewer: Yuengling

Style: Black and Tan

Tasting notes and comments: (3) Pleasant, mild porter. (2) Sweet malt w/ lager finish. Subtle hints of chocolate and smoke. Pleasant and a great value. (1) Nice color and head. OK. Tastes more lager and less ale. Some rough smoke. Good value.

Recommendation: Recommended with qualifications. It is a pleasant and easy drinker but not a world-class brew. At about $5.50 per 6-pack or less than $5 on sale it is a great value and worthy of a place in the beer fridge.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Stone Double Bastard

Beer: Double Bastard

Brewer: Stone

Style: Strong Ale

Tasting notes and comments: (3) Massive nutty sweet malt balanced w/ bitter hops, similar to a good double IPA. (2) A blast of sweet malt with a tiche of nutty flavor is followed by a bitter hop bite that lingers. The sweet mutes the bitter and the bitter mutes the bite. The rough flavor I find unappealing in Arrogant Bastard is faint and way in the background. (1) Predominate flavors are sweetness (malt + alcohol), nuttiness, and apricot (?) up front followed by massive, lingering, bitter, piney hops. The beer gets smoother and smoother as it warms. It goes well with food for such a big beer. I would describe it as Triple IPA or a hoppy English Barleywine.

Dates on which reviewers at rated it as one of the top 100 beers on the planet: 29 December 2005, 10 March 2007, 29 December 2008, and 1 January 2009.

Recommendation: Highly recommended. This is a wonderful "big" beer.

New Year's Eve

I enjoyed three beers on New Year's Eve: a lager from Germany given to me by DZ, Unibroue La Fin du Monde, and J.W. Lees Harvest Ale aged in Calvados Cask. The lager was tasty and a nice aperitif. I don't remember the name. Details for the other two beers follow.

Beer: La Fin du Monde

Brewer: Unibroue

Style: Tripel (BeerAdvocate earlier classified it as Belgian Strong Pale Ale

Tasting notes and comments: (1) Nice. Cloves, malt, and spices. (2) Sweet malt, complex light fruits, and fizzy spices, with a touch of funk. (3) Delightful. Light, complex, and funky. (4) Fruity, fizzy, and smooth. Light and refreshing.

Dates on which reviewers at rated it as one of the top 100 beers on the planet: 29 December 2005, 10 March 2007, and 1 January 2009.

Rating: Recommended without reservation.

Beer: Harvest Ale aged in Calvados Cask (Calvados is French Apple Brandy.)

Brewer: J.W. Lees

Style: English Barleywine

Tasting notes and comments: (2) Another bottle dated 2004. Sticky sweet apples, followed by husky leather w/ alcohol breath. (1) A bottle dated 2004. Sticky sweet, peach and prunes, burnt caramel, w alcohol burn at end. Lisa hated.

Dates on which reviewers at rated it as one of the top 100 beers on the planet: 29 December 2005, 10 March 2007, and 1 January 2009.

Recommendation: Highly recommended. It is on my current top 10ish list.