I stopped at a grocery store, a neighborhood market and a liquor store on my way out of Madison today and I couldn’t believe all the great stuff they had! I went so many places because I was looking for a bottle shop that had singles so I could mix it up. I did pretty well, but it was tempting to buy a bunch of 6 packs and send them home! lol
30 Sep 2009 Leave a Comment
I’ll be traveling for business for a few days to Wisconsin and Illinois, hoping to pick up some good beers and do a couple reviews from the road if I have the time. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to bring anything back with me as I will be flying, but at least if I can score a couple of Wisconsin beers you can’t get here I will be happy!
24 Sep 2009 3 Comments
Bell’s is one of my favorite Michigan breweries and it is a large and well-known presence in the craft beer industry, for good reason. They make consistently great beers, in my opinion, and I fondly remember how we always knew summer was (eventually) on the way in Michigan when we’d see Oberon on the shelves! And if you needed a hop bomb, you wouldn’t have to reach any further than Two-Hearted Ale. Bell’s is particularly well-known for the stouts they brew, and they brew a lot of them! Of the 19 beers in their regular line-up, 5 of them are stouts. If you are a “stout drinker” and your choice of beer is a Guinness, you need to do yourself a favor and have an Expedition Stout off the tap and you’ll get a much better idea of what the style’s possibilities are!
Cherry Stout is one of Bell’s stouts that is available from November to March every year. The first time I had this was at Charlie Hooper’s and it was just a sip off a friend’s (a Guinness drinker… his head almost exploded!), and I was expecting something sweet and cloying. Boy, was I wrong! I purchased this sample of Cherry Stout in Michigan this summer, so it has a little age on it, not a bad thing for a stout.
Cherry Stout is 7%ABV and it pours black with a caramel-colored head. I drank it from a snifter to collect to aromas, which consist of roasted malts, cherries (more subtle than you would think), caramel and alcohol (although I think what I was smelling as alcohol may have been the cherries). Cherry Stout is brewed with juice from tart Michigan cherries, so you are going to get a ton of cherry in the flavor, but not the sweet kind you’d find in a pie!
On the first sip I was assaulted by the tart cherries. This beer borders on being a “sour beer” in how tart it is initially. Especially if you’re expecting a sweet beer, this will knock your socks off! The cherry flavor is very up-front, and the second half is more roasty and dry like a normal stout (and a good one at that). It’s really smooth and not overly carbonated at all. Minutes after a sip the cherry flavor is still on my palate, so it really lingers in the aftertaste and is just wonderful.
Cherry Stout is one of my favorite beers because the stout is basically a vehicle for the fruit, but at the same time, the fruit complements the stout perfectly. I think the brewers at Bell’s struck a perfect balance in this beer and it’s a great one to enjoy on a cool night after a meal. I really think the beer improves with a little warmth, so I like to drink this beer around 60° or so and I don’t mind it at room temperature, for that matter.
20 Sep 2009 7 Comments
Hop Stoopid is a beer brewed by Lagunitas, a California brewery that has just recently begun being carried in the Kansas City area. I bought a 22 oz bomber at Lukas Liquors in Overland Park. Lagunitas has absolutely no information about the beer on its website, which is really annoying. BeerAdvocate calls it a double IPA or imperial IPA, but at only 8%ABV (which is well within the range of a normal IPA), it seems like a stretch to call Hop Stoopid an imperial. The label lists it as being 102 IBU’s, which is “crazy bitter” on my personal scale!
I drank the beer from my standard large New Belgium beer snifter, and I put a pretty vigorous pour on it so I could get some carbonation out of the beer right off the bat. It pours a nice cloudy gold color with an off-white head that settles to a really rocky foam after a while. Nice lacing clung to the glass as I drank my sample.
Without knowing anything about the hops or malt used in this beer, I can only go based on my senses. The aroma is definitely all hops, leaning more toward a piney, resiny quality rather than the big grapefruit scent of other West Coast IPA’s. There is a little grapefruit hidden in there, but these hops seem a little earthier to me than, say, the grapefruit soda-like quality of Caldera’s IPA or something from Stone, for example.
This earthiness carries through in the flavor, too, with the resiny, almost spicy hops hitting my tongue initially. I would say the second half of the sip is a little more citrusy, but the finish is almost peppery and really piney and organic.
This is beer is definitely all hops, but it isn’t as in-your-face as I would have expected from the name and the IBU rating, so there must be a fair amount of malt in Hop Stoopid to lend it a little balance. The aftertaste is long and it really sticks around, but the bitterness is really nice for what I was hoping for. A bomber of this might be a little much for one person (palate fatigue is a real possibility with highly hopped beers like this), but the first glass was really enjoyable and a nice sipper.
10 Sep 2009 1 Comment
Lagunitas is a California brewery located about 40 miles outside of San Francisco. Their beers just recently became available in the Kansas City area, although I picked up this 12-oz. bottle of Maximus while I was in Michigan a few weeks ago.
Maximus is an India pale ale, or IPA, classified as a “double” or “imperial” IPA on Beeradvocate. IPA’s are beers that are high in hops and tend to be in the 6-7%ABV range, generally. Doubles or imperials are beers with more fermentable sugars, so they tend to have more malt and more hops to balance it out. I’m not sure if BA’s classification of Maximus as a double IPA is correct. It seems to be a normal IPA, to me.
The beer is 7.5% ABV and has about 72 IBU’s. It pours an orange color with an off-white head that disappeared pretty quickly in my fat tulip glass, and there were a lot of big yeast chunks in the bottle, making the pour rocky and cloudy!
Aroma didn’t bowl me over. There was some grapefruit-y hops and some floral notes, but not much coming off it, especially for a West Coast IPA. West Coast IPA’s tend to be “hop bombs,” loaded with hop flavors and aromas, while East Coast IPA’s tend to be closer to their original English cousins with a little more malt and balance.
The flavor is definitely hop-forward, with a good amount of bitterness that builds in the latter half of the sip. The early hop character is a little grapefruity but more floral to my palate. Again, for a West Coast IPA I expected to be blown out of my seat by hops and Maximus is actually pretty balanced by a fair amount of malt in the background. The beer was actually a little sticky on my palate from the malts that countered the hops.
Overall, this is a pretty enjoyable beer, but it didn’t blow me away. I have had some other IPA’s this summer (Caldera, Torpedo, Anderson Valley) that I have liked quite a bit more, but it’s a solid contender and for hops lovers, the bitterness does build about 50% through the glass, but there’s nothing separating this from leagues of other good IPA’s out there.
06 Sep 2009 1 Comment
Was at Lukas Liquors this weekend and spotted Moose Drool cans, as well as Lagunitas beers in bottles. I picked up a bottle of Hop Stoopid (104 IBU’s or something crazy) that I will be reviewing soon. After this weekend I am all beered out for a while. Oofa!
05 Sep 2009 Leave a Comment
Great Lakes Brewing Company, based out of Cleveland, OH, is one of the breweries I miss being able to get beers from since I moved from Michigan to Kansas City. So, while I was up north on vacation recently, I made sure to pick up a bottle of Dortmunder Gold, GLBC’s flagship beer. I meant to get at least a six-pack of it, but all I could find was this lonesome 12-oz. bottle!
Dortmunder Gold is an export lager in the style of the beers classically produced in the Dortmunder region. This style arose in the 19th century, and it’s a happy medium between the German pilsner style, which is clean and hoppy, and the Munich lager style, which is more malty.
The beer is designed to be balanced and it achieves that goal very nicely. GLBC’s website lists the beer as 5.8% ABV and 30 IBU’s. That puts it out of range of a “session beer” but there is certainly no detectable alcohol flavors or aromas in this beer, so the alcohol could sneak up on you a little.
The beer pours a deep gold color, almost orange, with some cloudiness and a fluffy white head. The aroma has very little hops, maybe a hint, but is really dominated by the biscuity malts. It definitely has a lager character, but not of the somewhat unpleasant “post-party” aromas I get from lagers and pilsners sometimes.
Flavor is bready and biscuity and very malt-forward, but there is a nice hops presence to balance it out, and the second half of a sip has a nice hop bitter aftertaste that really balances what would otherwise be a sweet beer. As I mentioned, Dortmunder Gold is intended to be a balanced beer and it achieves that very much, but in a way that it is almost like drinking two different beers in each sip, rather than one that is sort of “flat.” This is a great beer, and I can’t believe in all the Great Lakes beers I’ve had that I’ve never had this particular one. I think the lager designation probably turned me off a little bit, and I realize the error of my ways now!
03 Sep 2009 2 Comments
Late last year I heard about Dead Canary Brewing, a new brewery that was opening a tasting room/brewery in the West Bottoms that was run by two women. Their beer choices looked crazy and I was really excited about the endeavor. I emailed them and was invited to a tasting that she said was going to happen soon, then I never heard anything. That was in December 2008. The last entry on their blog/website was in January of 2009. I emailed them again and got no response. Is this canary dead? What happened, if so? I’m bummed!
01 Sep 2009 Leave a Comment
I don’t know where I got these, but I had three of these A-B Beach Bum seasonal beers in my fridge, so I thought I’d give it a try before my workout! Yes, there are many, many things wrong with that opening sentence. Anyway, it pours a clear, darker yellow color than a regular A-B offering, with a big foamy, chunky head and lots of big bubbles clinging to the side of the glass.
The aroma is pure metal. I used to grind a lot of steel for a hobby and this is the smell that would be stuck in my nose for hours afterward. I don’t know if something bad happened to this beer, like oxidation, or what, but it smells like a pile of metal dust.
The metal flavor is there a little in the flavor, but more in the aftertaste and in the aroma. The flavor is like a pilsner, and may not be half bad, but that metal just killed it for me.