Archives for category: beer

It has been FOREVER since I did a real beer post. Thanks for your patience and putting up with the sporadic posting. Before I get to the beer, here’s the deal: we’re putting our health before EVERYTHING now and so our eating plan allows one cheat day per week. I’m averaging 1-2 beers on cheat day and I’ve been cleaning out old stuff that has been around too long. Not very exciting for reviews! LOL

I did get tempted into Gomer’s midtown location a couple weeks ago and after ogling all the bottles my eyes settled on a canned beer I hadn’t seen before. YES, I am still enamored with the idea of canned craft beers, ESPECIALLY if what’s inside might pour like motor oil!

I picked up this six pack of Santa Fe Brewing Co’s Imperial Java Stout for under $9 and it seemed like a good value. It wasn’t until I got home that I realized it was an “imperial,” I thought it was just a regular coffee stout.

I’m a sucker for packaging and while extremely simple, the Santa Fe can appealed to me because on one side there is a beer mug that says “after noon” and on the other side is a coffee cup that says, “before noon.” Clever.

Coffee beers are best drunk fresh because the coffee character is quick to go. I didn’t know this until I heard it on Craft Beer Radio recently, so I was excited to try a coffee stout that seemed to be a relatively new addition to Gomer’s lineup (i.e. hadn’t been hanging around long) and was also canned, giving it the best chance of retaining as much freshness as possible without drinking it right at the brewery.

According to Santa Fe’s website (worth looking at, they have a nice lineup of interesting-sounding beers) the Imperial Java Stout has an ABV of 8% uses two hop varieties and four types of malt. The website says they use organic beans fro New Guinea and East Timor that are locally roasted in Santa Fe.

Of all the coffee beers I’ve tasted I would say this one is the most coffee forward. There is no mistaking this as a coffee stout. I’m writing this from memory since it’s morning and I don’t really want to drink a stout from a coffee cup as fun as that seems, but I recall a LOT of coffee character (think cold-brewed coffee) with a good, classic stout backbone.

The beer has a good amount of sweetness to it, not quite like Left Hand Milk Stout but not dry, either. The sweetness is balanced in the finish by an earthy hop character and I would say the beer has good overall balance. I enjoyed one can while eating a couple of Justin’s Dark Chocolate peanut butter cups last week and that dried the flavor of the beer out a lot while bringing out more of the hops and a the dark roasty, almost astringent character.

I’ve been quite pleasantly surprised by this beer since I knew nothing about it going into it. It’s a good stout in and of itself, but as a coffee lover I think this is a great example of what a coffee-heavy beer can taste like when done properly. I wouldn’t hesitate to pick up another six pack of this again!

I know about 20% of my posts here seem to be “what I’ve been doing/where I’ve been” posts because of the irregularity of my posting. It has been a BUSY year and focusing on health has had me drinking a LOT less beer than usual. I’ve had just a few beers in the last couple months, and when I do have an occasional beer it’s on my “cheat day” and I don’t really want the work/pressure of keeping notes, posting etc.

Yes, I am a horrible blogger!

I have been enjoying a little more wine than I used to, and I’ve REALLY been geeking out on tea and coffee (even more so than usual) lately, so I’ll have some things to post in the meantime on those subjects.

I have a few beer posts in the hopper just waiting to publish, too, so thanks for reading and I’m still knocking around and posting here, just sporadically. That’s how life goes sometimes!

This was my second beer I enjoyed on my trip to Phoenix, AZ. This is New Belgium’s late summer/early Autumn seasonal for this year. It poured a dark ruby red color with big, fluffy, shaving cream like head that just wouldn’t quit.

The hop aroma was unusual. It was sticky and resiny, with hints of black pepper. No citrus or pine. Very earthy. The flavor was very consistent, too, with just a touch of citrus, but some black pepper and sticky resins most prevalent. The hop character was complex to say the least.

I detected a slightly chemical-like flavor and aroma, and I think it was some hot alcohols. This beer tasted like an earthy IPA, very hop forward. A lot of complexity to parse through in this beer, making it enjoyable, but a sipper. An interesting, unexpected beer!

I’ve been drinking a lot of beer recently, but falling WAY behind on blogging my reviews, so let’s rectify that! I am in Phoenix, AZ this weekend and my recon at Beeradvocate pointed me toward AJ’s Fine Foods. Imagine a small, more expensive version of Whole Foods and you’re in the right department.

The beer selection at AJ’s Glendale store was fairly small, but well priced and each bottle was clearly marked. I got a mixed 6-pack including one bomber for $14, so not bad.

The first beer I drank was the local Prescott Brewing Co.’s Liquid Amber Ale, their best seller. Nothing too exciting, but a good beer. That nebulous amber “style” is always a wildcard!

I poured the beer from a 12oz can into a plastic hotel cup and the head was close to nonexistant, but that may be because of my glassware. The can was a little “soft” and the carbonation. Was fairly low, so maybe it’s just a small-headed beer… Color is amber and a little cloudy.

Aroma is all bread and bread crust. Pretty inviting.

The beer is definitely malty and bready with a little caramel. The hops are hard to detect, but they are there and do lend good balance as this malt-forward beer is never cloying.

A nice, balanced drinker, I think this would be a good hot weather beer and awesome for grilling out. A definite winner in the simple, balanced beer category!

Yummmm

I was running errands Friday evening and just happened to be passing by Tipsy’s in Merriam (or is that Mission?) and stopped in. I love that there are more can selections in the craft beer section every time I stop at a bottle shop these days. If anything, the choice is getting tougher, but that’s a good thing! We have a pool day/evening at our friend’s house on Saturday, so I needed a couple 6’ers or a 12 (there are always those good folks who come and like to “share” yet never bring anything with them…)

I was eyeing the Anderson Valley 6-packs… thinking long and hard about one of IPA and one of Barney Flatts stout (one of my favorite stouts… SO GOOD!), but the idea of stout, even from a can, at the pool on a humid day… nah, probably not a great idea.

Last summer I was a big fan of the Tallgrass Halcyon Wheat, which is a nice beer and was hard to pass up this time. The Avery cans looked great, but a little heavy for the pool, the Ska Brewing cans are nice but not that inspiring… then I spotted my friends in green!

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. I know, either Pale Ale or Fat Tire is every beer geek’s gateway beer into obsession, but still. Great beer is great beer. I almost ALWAYS avoid this beer in the rare occurrences we go out these days because it’s so readily available. I never have it at home. It’s a great beer and it just seemed RIGHT when I saw it! 🙂 The tallboys of Torpedo looked pretty inviting, too, but a 12-er of Pale Ale it is.

Hello, summer!

The second beer I enjoyed on my April trip to Eureka, California was from hometown brewer, Lost Coast Brewery. A fruit beer sounded right up my alley that weekend, and I didn’t recall seeing this particular beer in stores here in KC, although they may sell it here and I’ve just never noticed.

Lost Coast’s website is pretty limited on the info it has on Raspberry Brown, stating only that it clocks in an 5%ABV. I bought a 22 oz. bomber at Eureka Natural Foods and I think it priced in under $4, but I didn’t keep notes on that.

The few ounces I poured into my awesome hotel glass tumbler came out a dark tea/brown with amber highlights and very little head (although I may have poured it a little too carefully to develop a good foam). The aroma was all raspberry, like a raspberry soda, with maybe a tiny undercurrent of hops way off in the background. It smelled sweet and yummy.

My first sip was pure raspberry. Subsequent sips yielded a more complex malt/raspberry interplay, but even the aftertaste was like I’d just eaten a bowl of raspberries. I thought the raspberry flavor seemed a little synthetic on the first couple sips, but as the beer rounded out this effect wore off. Although the beer was malt forward and definitely raspberry heavy it had nice balance and was very drinkable. Hops were there almost exclusively for balance and this was a great vehicle for the main attraction. This would be great with chicken, fish or a salad with raspberry dressing. I enjoyed this beer a lot, very drinkable!

I had some business up in Northern California… WAY north… in mid-April and got to have some pretty good beers. I’ll be posting them when time allows, but I have been BUSY! Thanks for your patience, as always!

Work took me to Eureka, which is in the legendary “Emerald Triangle,” the tri-county, rural region of northern California where some 90% of the marijuana in the state is grown. People are nice, but conservative, private and just looking to make a living when the logging industry shut down in the ’70’s. People who are weed-obsessed tend to like MJ’s close cousin, hops, but I found the beers from this region to be, by and large, balanced.

Lost Coast and Eel River are the two best known breweries from this area, and Lost Coast beers are readily available in KC, so I went for some beers that I would generally not be able to get otherwise.

Eel River is cool because all their beers are 100% certified organic. For some reason organic beers tend to fall short of the mark in their styles and I have no idea why, but Eel River has a great reputation in the microbrew world. I was excited to try some out.

The first beer I sampled was a 22oz bomber of their California Blonde Ale that I bought from the nice selection at Eureka Natural Foods (GREAT people watching here). I think I paid $3.79, a great price! It comes in at 5.8%ABV and luckily the Red Lion Inn in Eureka has real glass tumblers in the rooms. The Eel River website lists the IBU’s at only 10, not hoppy at all.

The beer poured a slightly hazy yellow-gold color with a pure white head. If not for the haziness, it would look like a common American lager lawnmower beer. The aroma was very Pilsner-like to me, with a floral hop character and sweet maltiness that was still crisp and clean smelling.

The flavor was also Pilsner-like, reminding me of my dad’s beers from the 1970’s (before American lagers lost all their character). The aftertaste was definitely malty, but not cloying and the very small amount of hops actually provided a lot of balance. The beer had decent carbonation but a slightly watery mouthfeel. I found tumbler after tumbler to be very consistent with a perfect balance between the crisp hops and sweet malt. There was maybe a little vegetable-y DMS flavor somewhere in there, but it wasn’t unpleasant.

I found this to be a great lawnmower beer/thirst quencher. REALLY easy to drink, not terribly complex, well-balanced, crisp and clean… all the hallmarks of a beer you could drink several of and not have any palate fatigue. The 5.8%ABV makes it a little high to be a true session beer, but I was very happy with this selection from Eel River.