What comes out once a year and still has craft beer panache in spite of the brewery being owned by AB-InBev? I am talking about Bourbon County Stout by Goose Island of course! For many beer drinkers Goose Island is controversial and its status as a craft brewery the subject of many a debate but the beer is above reproach. For me, I personally aspire to become a highly opinionated beer snob but even if I succeeded this beer will still get a green light every time! Let’s face it if we claim it is all about the beer then this beer is a success. So when the Daily Pint hosted a tap takeover featuring past and current Bourbon County Brand Stouts (and Barleywine)
I still jumped at the chance to taste them.

As a homebrewer I find myself firmly in the camp of “Drink local, drink craft” but at the same time I will on occasion go after the beer that is just a damn good beer, and Bourbon County Brand Stout was a damn good beer long before they were bought up and for the most part that still has not changed as far as the product goes!

So I had a flight of all 3 years one right after the other starting from oldest (2013) to newest.
You can read last year’s blog to see how I judged the 13 and 14. The 13 was big aggressive and HOT with alcohol when I tried it last year and while the alcohol has cooled somewhat the beer still smacks you right in the face when compared to the smoother and more subtle 2014. Still it had many fans who liked it best, I am/was just not one of them.

The 14 was sublime, it is so smooth and silky with hints of chocolate, cream, and caramel sweetness, it was my personal favorite of the 3, and it had many fans in attendance.

The 15 is still young, however it too shows some serious character and is sure to mature as a runaway success. It is velvety smooth, balanced in spite of being 13.7% ABV and I told Phil he should hide a keg away for a year because I am willing to bet, this is going to fabulous with age!

The Coffee was impressive and I heard many in the bar comment on how good it was, but it is not my personal cup of tea, the coffee presence is so profound that it actually overpowers the flavors of the stout itself, and while BCBS is a great platform for the coffee, I prefer the original.

The BCBS Regal Rye was the big surprise of the evening, when first served cold, I wrinkled my nose at it thinking I was not going to like this much more than the coffee version but boy was I wrong! As it warmed up and the rye announced its presence and started smelling so inviting, I changed my tune fast! While the rye did compete with the flavor profile of the base beer, it did so in a way that was completely collaborative and delicious. The rye was not overpowering at all, but rather it was subtle on the tongue and softened the chocolate notes with oak and whisky notes. I would order that beer again if I had the chance but alas! It was the first keg to drain so I am not the only one who thought it was good! If you can get some!

Oh and there was a BCB Barleywine too. Big deal. Soap box time…while I like the bareleywine OK, it is just a barleywine, and not even in the same stratosphere of goodness that the BCB Stouts, where they are sublime, this is just OK. There are better barleywines to be had out there and I just don’t get the concept of diluting the BCBS cachet that it holds amongst stouts by introducing a bareleywine into the mix. Ok soap box rant over.

I wish I took a photo of the bar during the evening, I pointed out to Phil how cool it was seeing all these dark beers sitting on the bar next to a glass of pale beer, the owners were letting the BCBS warm up and having another beer while they wait! It was not just one or two folks either, it was lots of people!


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If you missed the Daily Pint Goose Island Tap Takeover you must be the only one who did! Goose Island Beer Company is one of those breweries that has both fans and detractors, the detractors claim that since InBev. (one of the largest beer distributors in the world, think Anheuser-Busch) bought out Goose Island Beer in 2011 that Goose Island is no longer a craft beer. However that did not seem to affect the crowd last night! The offering of several Bourbon County Stouts plus the Barleywine and other Goose Island beers really brought out the crowd and packed the house! The staff was kept hopping from the moment I arrived until well into the evening! Most of the customers seemed very enamored of the bigger beers trying several of the bourbon barrel beers!
I wanted to try them as well but I also saw 2 new offering from the Goose that I added to my tasting and will review them here.

New beer #1: Madame Rose Flanders Brown Ale:
The Brewer’s notes on this beer says Madame Rose is a 6.7% ABV “crimson colored Belgian style brown ale fermented with wild yeast and aged on cherries in wine barrels with layers of malty complexity, sour cherry, spice and wood”. What I saw was that the color was straw brown with some red highlights. It displayed a light brown color head, with good lace that clings to the glass. It had some funk in the nose, like a baby’s ass in a barnyard plus some hints of tartness with a hit of sour cherry. The Mouthfeel was thin but that is to style for a Flanders style, dry and refreshing on the tongue. It tasted of sour and tart, it starts with a hit of mild tart cherry then a hint of leather; it was semi-sweet and semi-dry with a good clean finish. This beer would pair well with red meat or chocolate. If you like kreik’s or Flanders style ales than this would be the beer for you!

New beer #2 Muddy Stout:
The brewer’s notes on this 9% ABV Imperial Stout say it was “brewed with molasses, brewer’s licorice, and Belgian dark rock candi sugar. The Muddy is an imperial stout with amplified sweetness for a taste as distinctive as the Chicago blues that inspired its creation”. It actually is quite dark black and actually is ‘muddy’ in the glass with swirls of particles making it opaque. It had a thin light brown head displaying instant dissipation with the lace apparent only in a ring around the glass. It smelled of dark malt and oats with a hint of sea breeze and oysters. The mouthfeel was surprisingly light for an imperial stout, it was bright and refreshing with a clean dry finish. The taste was delicious! Light sweet candy corn and caramel apples was my first impression, then came the sweet caramel from the dark malts and candi sugar; both were present yet subdued. The hops used were west coast hops, but they added backbone and bitterness and not a lot of floral flavors. It had slight alcohol warmth at the finish. This beer reminded me of wet tobacco and sunshine, a very interesting yet refreshing and tasty stout! One I would like more of!

Next I tried all four of the bourbon barrel beers and I will review them in order.

Starting with the 2014 Bourbon County Stout:
The brewer’s notes claim that this year’s 14.2% Imperial Stout Aged in Bourbon Barrels was “brewed in honor of the 1000th batch at our original Clybourn brewpub. A liquid as dark and dense as a black hole with thick foam the color of a bourbon barrel. The nose is an intense mix of charred oak, chocolate, vanilla, caramel and smoke. One sip has more flavor than your average case of beer”. What I saw in my glass was dark black brown with a good strong light brown head with long retention and lace. It smelled of dark candy sugar, dried plum and both resin and raisins. The mouthfeel was an explosion of foam and flavor, a dense yet wet liquid tootsie roll that impacts and tickles the back of the throat. It tasted very complex with dark sugar and tootsie roll candy mixing with molasses, leather and green apples. It reminded me of burnt toast dipped in caramel but in a good way! The bourbon barrel note is subtle yet apparent in the warming alcohol finish. This beer is huge and complex yet not unruly. For all of its complexity of big flavor it is still very well balanced and finishes with a mellow chocolate sweet finish. Some age could continue the mellowing process.

Next I had the 2013 Bourbon County Stout:
Last year when I tried this beer for the first time I thought it was hot with alcohol and 1 year later, although the beer has mellowed somewhat, that was still my first impression! It poured dark black mud with a thin light brown head, but the lace did cling to the glass. Most of the aroma had muted leaving behind alcohol, coconut and with a faint hint of caramel. The mouthfeel was all chocolate foam and alcohol disguising the density of an imperial stout.
The first taste was of booze! It was big, hot and tangy. Flavors of brown sugar and leather compete with pronounced alcohol presence with just hints of caramel sugar in the finish. The flavors have become more blended over the last year but the booze has come out of hiding in a big, not necessarily good way! This beer is not nearly as complex and impressive as the 2014 is. This version is definitely the boozy older brother!

Next up was the Bourbon County Coffee Stout:
Self disclosure, I am not a real fan of coffee stouts in general, I like them to be rare pours and served in small glasses, however this beer may just change my attitude! The brewer’s notes on this tell us this is a 13.4% Imperial Stout Aged in Bourbon Barrels. They add that “everyday Goose Island smells the wonderful coffee roasting next to our brewery at Chicago’s Intelligentsia Coffee and Tea. This world class roaster puts the same passion and skill into their coffee as Goose Island does with its beer. This excellent stout is made with a different coffee from our friends next door each year. With the change in coffee comes a change in the flavor profile, making each release truly unique from the previous years. This year’s 2014 Release features Intelligentsia Zirikana from Rwanda”. The beer poured dark black brown, with a very thin off-white head, and clingy lace, it had good retention and good cling. The smell was very coffee forward, masking most other notes. If you like coffee (and I do) this was a very pleasant smell. No alcohol nose or hops was apparent but it had some tar in background. The mouthfeel was medium bodied, just like good coffee. It felt tart and tingly on side of my tongue yet dry. It felt creamy only without the cream. Some alcohol warming. The taste was of sweet coffee and caramel candy, sweetened with brown sugar and raisins. Some mild leather notes in the background and just a hint warm bourbon in the finish. I must say that this is a very impressive coffee beer and I don’t know if it was due to their choice of coffee they used but damn (!) I really like this beer!

Last up was the Bourbon County Barleywine:
The brewer’s notes tell us that this 12% ABV English-Style Barleywine Aged in Bourbon Barrels was “aged in the third-use barrels that were once home to Kentucky bourbon and then our renowned Bourbon County Stout, this traditional English-style barleywine possesses the subtlety of flavor that only comes from a barrel that’s gone through many seasons of ritual care. The intricacies of the previous barrel denizens – oak, charcoal, hints of tobacco and vanilla, and that signature bourbon heat – are all present in this beer. Hearty and complex, Bourbon County Brand Barleywine is a titan and a timeline; a bold, flavorful journey through the craft of barrel aging.” It was lighter brown than the stouts yet still dark brown yet it also had a hint of red crimson. There was no noticeable head, and light lace. It smelled of wet pavement after a rain, with dark malt sugar present and hints of raisins and plum. The mouthfeel was sweet, light and just slightly boozy that just rolls off the tongue. It is thinner then it’s brothers. It tastes like a good English style barleywine with light sugar notes, not much in the way of hops and the bourbon flavor not as apparent except as a subtle warming alcohol finish. It was boozy yet with sweet finish. There were some tannins apparent in this beer that I did not notice in the stouts. I also got some leather saddle and sweet sugar rounded out by oak and plum. This beer was a sweet finish to this beer tasting!

There you have it, the scene through the bottom of my beer glass; as seen, tasted and reported by me! If you missed the opportunity to try these beers, you really did miss out on some wonderful tastes! I can’t wait for next year!

Cheers!


Last Thursday night was an epic night for the Daily Pint and the faithful who drink there.  Not only did we have a Dogfish Head Tap Take Over, we also had the crew from the TV show Brewdogs stop and film the action at the Pint for a future show!

The night started with a tap takeover featuring Dogfish Head beers.  This tap takeover featured a good line up featuring 8 (eight) dogfish head brews that included Piercing Pils, Namaste Witbeer, Red & White Wit, Midas Touch, Palo Santo Marron Brown Ale, Rhizing Bines Imperial IPA, 90 Minute IPA and 120 Minute IPA.

 

While I tried all of the offerings that night (see Pic), I am going to focus on just a few of the beer I thought were most interesting for me.

First up is the Piercing Pils, a relatively new release that is 6.0 ABV which is a little higher in alcohol than most pilsner beers.  It is a czech style pilsner.   They call it piercing pils due to the addition of white pear juice and pear tea (pear sing) that pierces the czech saaz hops used in the making of the beer and add flavor to the finish as well as the nose.  The brewery also added some Amarillo hops to bring forth citrus notes that they felt would pair well with the pear flavors.  My sample was very light in color, showing a clear yellow corn color with a bright white lace that lingered in the glass.  The pear was present in the nose but muted by the malt character.  It was effervescent with hints of white pear from the juice additions and lemon zest from the Amarillo hops.  The finish was quite clean with a lingering aftertaste of fruit yet not so dry that it left you puckered.  I could see how this beer would be a classic ‘go-to’ beer on hot afternoons or when a refreshing pick-me-up beer was in order.  A thumbs up on this one!

 Next up is an old favorite, Midas Touch.  Full disclosure, I am partial to this beer; the first time I ever had it was way back in 2002 when Dogfish Head was reintroducing itself into the California beer market and they held a marketing presentation to the beer distributors at Tony P’s Bar and Grill.  Drew Butler and I crashed the party and introduced ourselves to Sam Calagione who not only poured us this beer but saved us from getting the bums rush from Tony P himself!  Sam asked us to stick around so he could pick our brains as to what beers we liked and he made it worth our while by giving us Dogfish Head swag!  That was a really good day!

Anyway, back to the beer!  Midas Touch was one of the beers made by Dogfish Head as part of their ‘Ancient Ales’ series, the brewery claims the ingredients in the beer were derived from the ingredients found in 2700 year old drinking vessels in King Midas Tomb!  The brewery itself describes it as “somewhere between a wine, mead and beer; and sure to please fans of all three!”  My sample was clear yellow gold in color with an off-white head.  It tasted of hints of honey and melon with a finish that was pure gold!  It was dry but sweet and oh so balanced with just a hint of tartness.  Like I said I have always been a fan of this ale!

Dogfish Head has always taken the lead trying to help start up breweries or collaborating with existing breweries and Rhizing Bines is their second collaboration with Sierra Nevada Brewing Co, the first being ‘Life and Limb‘.  Life and Limb was a dark ale brewed in Chico at Sierra Nevada Brewing; so this collaboration beer was Dogfish Heads chance to return the hospitality and thus was brewed in Delaware.  It is a hop-centric IPA brewed using ingredients and brewing techniques used at both the breweries.  The beer was brewed using dogfish Head’s continual hop addition process during the brew and Sierra Nevada’s famous aroma hop Torpedo made an appearance in Milton to be used as the dry-hopping mechanism!  The beer’s climbing hop vine on the label represents the two hops, two yeasts (chico and doggie) and two hopping mechanism’s used to make the beer!  My sample did not have a noticeable hop profile in the nose but malt and booze were definitely there!  it had a sweet-malt taste followed by bittering hops and boozy acidity with hints of melon and citrus in the finish.  it was not your main-line IPA but rather more complex and it lives up to it’s imperial moniker! 

Another famous Dogfish Head beer is their 90 minute Imperial IPA, a 9% ABV hop bomb that was the first beer made using the patented continual hop additions during the entire boil of the beer!  This is a world class IPA that is just loaded with citrus hops but has the malt backbone to stand up to them!  There must be many hop varietals in the beer as it is almost impossible to put a name of a hop to the aroma that greets you as you drink it, it is very bitter yet smooth with a good balance of sweet malts to offset the hops.  It feels like a huge beer but at the same time it does not come across as being “boozy” or hot.  It is raisiney, buscity and huge…may I please have another?

While I was working my way through the beers a film crew shows up and starts filming at the Daily Pint for inclusion in an upcoming episode of “Brewdogs” the TV Show.  I was asked not to go into all the details of why they were filming there that night but suffice to say, the Daily Pint will be appearing on the series soon!  It was fun to watch them set up the shoot, the crowd was loud but supportive and the joint was rocking!  We will let everyone know the when and what channel once the details are released! 

 Cheers!

 


My Stone Vertical Epic Dinner

A Dinner Over A Decade In The Making!

by Ian Fraser

Way back in 2002, Stone Brewing Company was entering its 6th year of existence with a forward-looking, aggressive (arrogant?) presentation of a radical idea for a vertical epic series of beers released on a specific date for each year.  The idea was that the series of beers would age and all be served together at the same time in a “vertical epic” tasting.  Stone started with 02 – 02 – 02 released on February 2, 2002 and ended with 12 – 12 – 12 released on December 12, 2012.

I thought, at the time, it would be cool to use this as a platform for an epic vertical dinner. And to make it really challenging, I could actually incorporate the beer into the prepared dish!

So I set out to collect at least 3 bottles from each year for the dinner, plus a few extras to cook with and for tasting over the years.

This dinner is the result.   I decided that the beers would not be served in order, that the menu would follow a typical dinner service, and that the beer paired with the dish would be served at the time the dish was served.  There were two 15-minute breaks during the dinner — one after the cured pork belly and the other after the Kalbi dish.

 

Below, I have posted a short description of each dish with an explanation of how the beer was incorporated into the dish, and used Stone’s own descriptions of the beers.  I included a picture of the served dish.  My menu choices were driven by my own cooking experiences combined with the tasting notes from Stone Brewing Company’s own tasting event, held on December 12, 2012.

The Menu: 

AMUSE:  Portabella mushroom cap stuffed with deviled egg

Paired with Stone 03 – 03 – 03

This Beer was a take on the Cali – Belgian style ales with some additional interesting ingredients added coriander, grains of paradise and both wheat and dark malt.  Stone calls this a Dubbel that has been twisted by the addition of high-alpha hops and American ale yeast.

As my amuse bouche, I wanted to serve something I have never made before, but that would still give a clear indication of the direction I wanted this dinner to go.  Stone’s own tasting notes indicated that the beer plays well with deviled eggs, so that gave me the idea to try and stuff a deviled egg into a smoked portabella mushroom.  I added melted butter and garlic and lemon to the mushroom, smoked them on the bbq and, while they were still hot, I piped a deviled egg yolk made with mustard, chives and Stone VE 03 – 03 – 03 into the cap and served them on tiny little spoon plates.  The result was a hot/cold bite of smooth, creamy flavors that really complimented the complex malt character of the beer.

1st:  Warm camembert wedge topped with honey, clove & pecans

Paired with Stone 06 – 06 – 06

I called this beer the Belgian Christmas vertical; it was a dark brown ale with hints of malts, chocolate and molasses and a yeasty sweetish finish.  Stones tasting notes indicated that it paired well with honey and clove, so I decided to serve it on warm camembert cheese topped with a sauce made from honey, cloves, spicy roasted pecans and Stone VE 06 -06 – 06.  The result turned out to be my personal favorite dish, with the warm cheese nicely enhanced by the sauce, which really contrasted well with Belgian yeast in the beer.  

2nd:  Lemongrass Marinated Chicken Salad

Paired with Stone 04 – 04 – 04

This was my favorite Vertical Epic Beer. On release, it reminded me of a Biere de Garde that someone hit with fruit. The original lime notes from the kaffir lime added to the brewing has faded to a background of citrus hiding behind the banana esters from the Belgian yeast.  This dish actually had the beer added in two different and unique ways, first in the lemongrass marinade and then again in the salad dressing.  I even toyed with the idea of soaking the blood orange royals in the beer as well for a third addition but rejected that idea due to wanting the full citrus flavor of the orange to be unhindered.  This dish had many votes as favorite dish from some of the guests.  I took chicken breast and marinated them in a lemon grass marinade that included Serrano peppers, soy sauce, lemongrass, lime juice, cilantro and Stone 04 – 04 – 04.  I then cooked it off on the bbq.  The salad was spring greens tossed with a balsamic/avocado vinaigrette (that I incorporated the beer into), topped with green onions and yellow bell peppers, the chicken and blood orange royals.  The resulting flavors in the salad really enhanced the fruit notes in the beer.

3rd:  Cured Pork Belly wrapped in Chocolate

Paired with Stone 05 – 05 – 05

This was the dish I was most excited about making in advance. I found a butcher that would cut me inch thick slabs of cured pork belly (bacon) that had been cold-smoked on pecan wood.  I then baked the bacon until it was crisp on the outside but still meaty on the inside, then dipped it into melted See’s candy chocolate chips and chilled it overnight until it hardened Before bringing it back to room temperature for serving.  Then at service I melted more chocolate, added chipotle chili powder and cayenne pepper to give it spice and just enough Stone VE 05 – 05 – 05 to make it creamy.  The sauce served as the bed for the bacon.  The funky combination of smoky bacon and sweet chocolate really brought out the chocolate and toffee notes in the beer but the beer retained enough malt roastiness to stand up to it. It was like a main course and a dessert course rolled into one. This dish had some seriously fervent fans!

4th:  Tequila Shrimp

Paired with Stone 11 – 11 – 11

This was a simple dish utilizing a dish I make frequently for backyard bbq’s, only with a twist.  I made a simple marinade of olive oil, lime juice and zest, garlic, chili powder, cilantro and tequila, and then added a double shot of Stone VE 11 – 11 – 11 to incorporate the beer.  The shrimp was cooked on the bbq and then placed on a simple bed of salad greens garnished with lime juice and cilantro.  The seasonings in the marinade complimented the hatch chilies used in the brewing of the beer extremely well, with just a hint of heat!

5th:  Seared Scallop on Smoked Paprika Aioli

Paired with Stone 08 – 08 – 08

This was another seafood course of a simple seared scallop placed on an aioli made from home-made mayonnaise, smoked paprika, lemon juice and zest and Stone VE 08 – 08 – 08.  It was plated with a lemon garnish and capers.  The beer is a strong golden ale made with American hops, including Amarillo and Simcoe, which lent the beer its lemony, citrus character.  I enhanced the aioli with lemon to bring out this characteristic in the beer and it worked fantastically.  This had some serious fans in the group as well!  

6th:  Korean Kalbi Rib

Paired with Stone 12 – 12 – 12

Being from Hawaii, I have been making Korean Kalbi Ribs since I first learned to cook, and when I saw that the Stone chefs paired the Stone VE 12 – 12 – 12 with a spicy quail knot and Korean BBQ sauce this dish was a no brainer!  The last in the series of Vertical Epic releases is dark brown in color and has all kinds of spice that their tasting notes claim make you think of holiday baking.  I disagree; it reminds me of a Belgian Dubbel with that hint of cinnamon being a forward note. The beer is not too sweet and I thought that would complement the sweetness in the Kalbi sauce.  I made my standard Kalbi Rib sauce (soy, mirin, garlic, brown sugar, sesame and green onion) and substituted the Stone VE 12 – 12 – 12 for the water I normally add to thin the marinade.  It was plated with two types of kimchee: a standard cabbage style and a leek kimchee.

7th:  Potato Soufflé

Paired with Stone 07 – 07 – 07

I wanted to serve a vegetable dish during the dinner, so when I saw that the Stone chefs served the Stone VE 07 – 07 – 07 with potatoes, I thought I would do something similar.  So I mashed potatoes with some Speyside cheddar cheese and used the beer instead of some of the cream for the potatoes, then formed then into crenels on a baking sheet and painted them with egg wash, topping them with chives.  They were then baked until brown.  The heavy character of the potato dish offset the light character of the beer with its subtle carbonation and hints of ginger spice and citrus — reminding me of a spiced Belgian Tripel.

8th:  Pasilla Pepper Beef w/ Purred Turnips

Paired with Stone 09 – 09 – 09

This was another of my specialty dishes reformatted for use in the dinner. I have made this dish many time in the past as an alternative to Carbonnade á La Flamande.  It has large chunks of cross rib beef browned then braised in a sauce consisting of puréed roasted red bell peppers, pasilla pepper, red wine, star anise and Chinese Five Spice.  I just added the beer into the dish before baking it.  The flavors of the star anise and Chinese Five Spice really brought out the chocolate notes in the Stone VE 09 – 09 – 09.  I plated the beef on a bed of purred turnips to add a sharp counter point to all these smooth flavors

9th:  Cherry Apple Tart

Paired with Stone 02 – 02 – 02

OK, full disclosure time.  I could not have possibly pulled off this dinner without some serious help from my friends, and one of those friends made these tarts.  Mitch Kraus, take a bow; they were amazing!  I asked for a simple apple and cherry tart and he hit it out of the park.  They had a filo dough crust and apples and cherries and raisins as the filling.  Since he did not include the beer in the making of the tarts, I made a whipped cream using Jim Beam Double Black Bourbon and Stone VE 02 – 02 – 02!  The result was fantastic with the complex flavors of the dish more than covering up any oxidation the beer was exhibiting!  The beer was originally a non-descript, wheat-based Golden Ale at release and that really had not changed over time; however it was still clean and refreshing given all the flavors it had to stand up to!

10th:  Cheese Course

Paired with Stone 10 – 10 – 10

Stone VE 10 – 10 – 10 is a beer with Muscat and Sauvignon Blanc grapes, added; it just screams cheese!  I had already planned on having a cheese dish as the finish, seeing as an 11-course meal was just way too much food!  With all the wine notes and chamomile added to this beer, it has the proper character for a finishing-course palate cleanser like a cheese paring.  I was simply going to go to the Fairfax Farmers Market cheese shop and order up any cheese that I thought would work.  I found a drunken moon, a 4 year old cheddar and a dried sheep’s milk (gouda like) cheese, plus a triple cream I fell in love with over the holidays.  However, how to incorporate the beer into this dish?  I found some dried Turkish apricots and rehydrated them in the Stone VE 10 – 10 – 10 and then fished the apricots out, stirred in honey and powdered sugar and reduced the liquid down to a thick glaze that we then streaked onto the plate, the cheeses were plated with the apricots, some pecans and a slice of baguette.  The high carbonation combined with the wine and citrus notes in the beer made for a wonderful collaboration with all this variety of flavors.

Twenty-one people attended this six-hour dinner; I plated 231 dishes during that time.  I would like to thank my Sous Chef Norm Z for some spectacular assistance in the kitchen, Pam Wyatt for the table decorations, Mitch Krauss for the tarts and especially Tomm Carroll and Danise Delgado for opening up their home, the soon-to-be-famous Trux Stop, for this truly epic undertaking. And to Danise for the cool sign!

This was a once-in-a-lifetime event that could not possibly be surpassed unless some brewery comes out with a 12 beer vertical release… [As I cast a sideways glance over at my collection of The Bruery’s 12 Days of Christmas releases] …Uh oh, stay tuned!

Me and the 51 empty bottles the next morning:

Cheers!

 

 

  

 

 


Sierra Nevada in the house!  I always like it when a brewery I really like comes to town to show off their beers!  I really like it when they bring some new ones I have never tried before!  That was the case when Sierra Nevada took over the taps at the Daily Pint on a recent Thursday night.  They brought in nine of their beers and three of them I had never tried yet!  Happy days!

They brought with them their Kellerweiss, Summerfest Lager, FOAM Pilsner, Their flagship Pale Ale, Blindfold Black IPA, Torepedo IPA, Hoptimum Imperial IPA, a Belgian Blond IPA and the new Ovila Manderin Saison.   I decided that I would taste and write my impression of the three new beers I had never tried plus the Ovila Saison, which I had only had out of the bottle, and that was recently.

Up first was the FOAM Pilsner, the history of this beer is that it was intended to be served on draft at music festivals for the band PHISH but has recently been given wider release.  The beer poured an amber gold color with an off color head.  The lace dissipated fairly quickly and the color is dark for a pilsner.  It had a solid crisp malt nose with hints of hops and citrus present.  The mouth-feel was medium bodied with good effervescent qualities but still on the heavy side for the style.  It tasted quite malty and crisp, very biscuit-y with a hint of corn followed by a hint of hop citrus.  It had good acidity and a dry finish.  Although I felt this beer was closer to an ale then a pilsner in that it was a little heavy for the pilsner style,  I found it to be very drinkable and quite enjoyable.  I recommended it to several friends.

Next up was the Ovila Abbey Saison with mandarin oranges and peppercorns.  Sierra Nevada calls this beer an homage to the monks’ noble work, this unique farmhouse ale is incredibly complex with notes of lemon, pepper, straw and herbs balanced by the tang of Mandarin oranges and a spicy kick of pepper. The Mandarin oranges used to make this beer were locally grown, including a portion grown on the grounds of the Abbey of New Clairvaux and picked by hand by the community of monks living there.  The beer poured a dark copper color with a hint of head that stayed in place well.  The hint of hops and orange is very forward in the nose and competes with the scent of saison yeast with just a hint of peppercorns following behind.  It had a huge solid taste profile, almost aggressive and very complex.  It is slightly acidic and a good malty backbone holds up well to the flavor complexity of the yeast and citrus components.  I could not actually tell it was mandarin orange in the beer and that shows how well they balanced the ingredients, the peppercorns make their appearance in the finish leaving a dry spicy note.  Overall this is a big aggressive saison that shows off its complexity and will stand up to aging in the bottle.

Then I tried the Belgian Style Blond IPA.  I have not heard much background information about this beer, it could be a beer camp release perhaps?  It poured an amber gold color with a good white head and the lace had strong retention, it was all about the candi sugar, Belgian yeast notes of clove and banana in the nose.  The mouth-feel was medium bodied but effervescent.  It tasted very Belgian with the yeast profile being prominent, good clove and banana flavors present with just a hint of hop bitterness and flavor with a touch of citrus and orange.  I was guessing that the hint of citrus came from the use of Styrian Golding hops used in the brewing of the beer?  Someday I hope to confirm if that is true.  Overall this was a very refreshing pint but for an IPA it is a fabulous Belgian beer!

Last I tried the new camp beer called Blindfold IPA.  It is a black IPA, Sierra Nevada likens this beer to “blanket us in darkness while maintaining a light body and bold hop character”.  It poured quite dark, near black with a good thick coffee colored head, the lace retention was solid and clingy, you could float a penny on this beer!  The smell was noticeably malty almost coffee like, very roasty but it was missing the aggressive hop note, the hops were lost in the malt on this one.  The mouth-feel was bright and refreshing, which was shocking given the color and maltyness present, yet it was VERY drinkable!  The taste was solid malt backbone with roast grains present with hints of oak and dark coffee, then the hops make their presence known as the malt is balanced by good hop bitterness and resiny finish.  As a brewer of Black IPA’s I like them to be like a tasty IPA only black, this IPA leans more towards the celebration of dark malt style black IPA’s but do not consider that a criticism, this is the beer that I had to have more of! 

Lucky for me that these beers were still on the next night when we gather for Friday beers as I then got to drink the Kellerweiss and the Hoptimum.  I tell people that I think the Kellerweiss is one of the best bottom fermented weiss beers commercially available made by a US brewer.  With all of these examples and samples, Sierra Nevada has once again shown why they are one of of the leading brewers in California.

Cheers until next time!                   

 


It is that time of the year again!  No, not the first hints of spring-to-come but that time of year when every wannabe beer geek starts wondering where they can score a glass of the once a year release of Pliny the Younger!  I am no exception aside from the fact that I claim I don’t really care about the Younger as much as I love the Elder (which I really do!) but I still find myself looking to grab a glass every year if I can.  I like the way the Daily Pint sets up their Younger release, by selling tickets in advance of the announced release date, each ticket good for one pour.  I also like that they have Pliny the Elder on tap at the same time they put the Younger on so if you want to you can drink them side-by-side.  That is how I roll, two-fisting Pliny as if I don’t have anything to do later.

Let me just say upfront that i am a huge Pliny the Elder fan-boy, I have loved this beer from the first day I tried and and went, “Whew!  Can I get some water to rinse those hops down?”  It is a vigorously hopped double IPA brewed with Amarillo, Centennial, CTZ, and Simcoe hops.  The hops are well-balanced with the malt, and alcohol, it tastes slightly bitter with a fresh hop aroma of floral, citrus, and pine.  It pours a copper/gold with huge hop aroma that you notice long before you pick up the glass.  the first sip shows the balance with the malt coming through to offset the hops.  I could drink this beer all day, well at 8% ABV I could try anyway!  The history of Pliny is on the Russian River website as follows:  Back in the year 2000, our friend, Vic Kralj, who owns the Bistro in Hayward, California, decided to have his first ever Double IPA festival. Vic invited 10 breweries, 6 of whom (including us) had to brew something special for him since we had nothing that would fall under this style category. Vinnie had made a Double IPA at Blind Pig in 1994, but was not brewing one at Russian River Brewing at the time. He had an idea for the recipe, but not a name. After much research in beer books, brainstorming, and deliberation, we came up with “Pliny the Elder”. Pliny, the man, lived in the first century- 23 to 79 A.D. According to our brewing references, he and his contemporaries either created the botanical name or at least wrote about Lupus Salictarius, or hops, currently known as Humulus Lupulus. That was a very early reference to an important part of any Double IPA! Pliny the beer has now become one of our flagship brews! 

Pliny the Elder was immortalized by his nephew, Pliny the Younger, who wrote about his uncle succumbing to ash and smoke during the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 A.D. while rescuing people. Cheers to the scholar, historian, officer, writer, and Roman Naturalist- Pliny the Elder!

The Younger is the big brother to the Elder (don’t let the name fool you!  From the Russian River’s website they tell you why they named it the way they did:  Pliny the Younger, the man, was Pliny the Elder’s nephew and adopted son. They lived nearly 2,000 years ago! Pliny the Elder is our Double IPA, so we felt it was fitting to name our Triple IPA after his son. It is almost a true Triple IPA with triple the amount of hops as a regular I.P.A. That said, it is extremely difficult, time and space consuming, and very expensive to make. And that is why we don’t make it more often! This beer is very full-bodied with tons of hop character in the nose and throughout. It is also deceptively well-balanced and smooth.  It too pours a copper/gold with the glass I got from the Pint showing a chill haze produced from being newly placed in the cold fridge.   It also has a massive hop aroma followed by a heavier more robust mouth feel with the flavor of the higher gravity malt load required to make this 10.5% ABV beer.  It is one impressive and massive hoppy IPA that leaves an impression!

I must admit that I personally like the Pliny the Elder more, the heavier sweetness of the Younger is just a tiny bit cloying when compared to the Elder making the Elder the slightly more drinkable beer of the two.   With that said, however, BOTH of these beers are worthy of my affection and I bet I will find myself wondering the same thought of where and when next year!

Cheers!

 



Photo credit:  Bernie Wire, used with permission.

Thursday night was Drakes night at the Daily Pint with the added bonus if you bought three of the Drakes beers on tap, you got to keep the glass (see photo).  Drakes is based out of San Leandro, CA; and is one of those breweries that really plays well with hops!  The line up was outstanding!  The Pint had Batch 1500 on both tap and cask, with the cask being a dry hopped version (outstanding!), Batch 4000 Wet Hopped Ale, The Amber Ale, The IPA, Black Robusto Porter, The Denogginizer Double IPA and Drakonic Imperial Stout.  A serious line up indeed!  

Photo credit:  Bernie Wire, used with permission.

Chris Elmes of Drakes was on hand to represent the brand and answer all questions about their beers.  He is extremely knowledgeable about the history of Drakes (he ought to be he is family!) and is passionate about representing them well!

Chris recommend I try the dry-hopped 1500 on cask first and I could see why!  It had an amazing citrus hop aroma that hit my nose long before the glass touched my lips, the beer was crisp and dry, the aroma hops were pronounced and floral!  This beer had me at my first sniff but after my first sip, I immediately declared it my favorite, which made Bernie and Chris laugh as it was my first beer!  I was not the only one who felt that way apparently as the Dry-Hopped 1500 on cask was the first keg to kick.  I rate it super delicious!

My second beer was the Batch 4000 Wet Hopped Ale.  A wet hop ale is a beer made using hops that are still wet (freshly picked) and the hops impart a more mild profile then the dry hops do.  This beer was clean and clear with a good malt backbone balancing the amazing hay like aroma of the fresh hops.  It drank light and refreshing and would also have made a great first beer!

My last beer was the Drake’s Black Robusto Porter, a dark robust porter that drinks much larger than its 5.4% abv!  Robust porters are made to be full-bodied and this one lives up to the style with a smooth viscosity on the mouthfeel that finishes with hints of unsweetened chocolate and spice notes.  On a cool night like tonight is this is a great beer to finish the night off.  I wanted to try them all but I will be back tomorrow night for the IPA’s and that stout!

Cheers!

 

 


I am going to start a new blog series writing reviews of what is currently available on tap and cask each week at the Daily Pint.  I figure I will select two beers available on tap and two beers available on cask.  The good news is that you will get some information about the beers before you try them from an opinionated beer drinker,  the bad news is that I am that opinionated beer drinker! 

This week from the tap I selected Ommegang‘s Scythe and Sickle Amber Harvest Ale.  5.8%  The description from the brewer reads:  Scythe and Sickle is Ommegang’s foray into honoring the harvest season. Using barley, oats, wheat, and rye, we’ve brought the mood of fall to life with vibrant and flavorful passion.  The beer appeared copper colored a tiny bit cloudy with a good white head and clinging lace.

The nose reminded me of bread with oats and rye being paired with the fruity esters from the yeast used.  It had a light effervescent mouthfeel and tasted malty, moderately bitter with a dry finish.  The Belgian yeast strain was not as prominent as I would expect from Ommegang and in fact at first sip you might think this was a German beer.   It is however extremely drinkable and refreshing! 

I really this beer and would recommend it as a great starting beer! 

Black Market's Quadrophenia 

The other tap beer I selected was Black Market‘s Quadrophenia a Belgian Quad 11%.  The description from the brewery reads: As its namesake suggests, Quadrophenia is a Belgian style quadruple ale. We ferment Quadrophenia using Trappist ale yeast, which produces the spicy, phenolic flavors sometimes mistaken for added spices. The unique characteristics of caramel don’t come from the Pale and Munich malts, but from the introduction of Coconut Palm Sugar used in the brewing process.

For a quad, this beer was a clear copper color instead of dark brown, off white head with light lace.  It was medium bodied, moderately carbonated and effervescent.  It smelled like cinnamon bread pudding with and alcohol frosting!  A strong caramel malt note combined with fruit esters from the yeast.  The coconut palm sugar really comes through in the taste, the caramel quality is prominent followed by hints of plum and raisins and a dry finish.  It sort of reminded me of an old ale which is odd given the copper color.   Black Market is making some really neat interesting ales!

For the cask ales a couple of Bastards stopped by the Pint so I had them both!  Stone‘s Arrogant Bastard with American Oak and Arrogant Bastard with Centennial Hops, both 7.2%. 

Stone Arogant Bastards 

They were both Dark red, low head with light lace.  The Bastard with centennial hops displayed hop haze as well from the massive dry hops applied.  It smelled of malt and hops, lots of hops, a Stone trademark.  I also got hints of leather and a touch of diacetyl, but that too might be from the hops.

It was smooth and lightly carbonated (cask, duh!) but coated my tongue with a velvet malt feel and tasted of alcohol and massive amounts of centennial hops, which have a red wine viscosity to me.  It almost tasted like low bittering hops were used followed by large amounts of dry hops; as if the arrogance was smoothed out of it by them.  It was a little thin for a Arrogant Bastard, but if you like your hops, you will like this beer!

The Arrogant Bastard on American Oak smelled of sawdust and resin, tart up front with and oak finish.  It was smooth and silky, low carbonation (cask!) the oak profile was borderline overpowering this beer.  It tasted tart with the malt and hops taking the backseat to the oak presence.  There were hints of rye suggested by the wood as well.  It is an interesting combination when hops and oak are paired together in the same beer, on the one hand the hops tend to blend with the wood and suggest bourbon like qualities, on the other hand, the wood really transforms those hops so that they finish muted and not as prominent as they are in regular Arrogant Bastard.  If you like your bourbon barrel ales then this is the cask ale for you!


Lagavulin Distillers Edition distilled 1991 bottled in 2008 43% abv

Nose: Sherry, caramelized peated malt, iodine,  after water maple syrup that has been mixed with bacon. Palate: Sweet, the PX Sherry has a big influence on this, pepper that immediately disappears with a touch of water, the peat influence not overpowering but good,  Finish: salt water toffee and mocha. Sweet tooth Islay fans will enjoy this one.