Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Hops and Vines Beer Tasting - Stoudts Brewer - Fri Sep 4-7pm

Tasting at Hops and Vines.  info from their website:

FREE Beer Tasting this Friday, September 4th, 4-7pm!

Stoudt's Brewing Co.

Over 20 years, Stoudt’s Brewing Company has grown and evolved from a
small brewery with limited draught distribution, to a packaging regional
microbrewery with distribution in 10 different states, producing over
10,000 barrels a year. Stoudt's brewing is one of our best selling and
best quality line of beer we sell at Hops & Vines, if you haven't tried
them yet don't miss this weeks beer tasting!

American Pale Ale - This uniquely American beer offers a crisp, medium
body with a light amber color. Generous additions of Cascade hops provide
a refreshing bitterness and a vibrant citrus aroma.
Gold Lager - Stoudt's Gold Lager is widely recognized as one of the finest
style German-style beers brewed in America. Brewed with the finest malts
and German noble hops, this light bodied, easy drinking lager features a
perfect balance between sweet malt and clean crisp hops. One of my
Scarlet Lady ESB - This English-style ale is brewed with Maris Otter and
Carmel malts for a rich reddish-copper color and a smooth malty flavor. The
use of bittering and aroma addition hops brings a balance to this malty
Pilsner - Reflective of the traditional German style, Stoudt's Pils is
delicately dry with a firm hop bitterness. The crispness of the Saaz hops
and a dry malt finish make this Pilsner and excellent aperitif.

Bruisin' Ales Tasting - Hoppin' Frog Thursday Sept. 3rd 5-7pm

Another great tasting at Bruisin' Ales.  Here is the info from their website:

Josh of Carolina Craft will join us to sample some of Ohio's finest, the small craft brewery of Hoppin' Frog.
Silk Porter: "Dark, robust and silky-smooth, with many flavors of roasted, toasted and caramel malts. Porter is an old-world beer style, so popular that it helped start the industrial revolution. Taste the history." [6.2% abv]
Hoppin' to Heaven IPA: "Raise your glass to the heavens in a toast to HOPS - the spice of beer! This classic American I.P.A. features the finest American hops to add a spicy, assertive, and citrusy character to its full-bodied, rich malt taste." [6.8% abv]
Mean Manalishi: "Explore the extremes of hops, and experience all of their bitterness, flavor and aroma with this Double I.P.A. An extreme, super-assertive and satisfying amount of American hop character is balanced with a toasty, caramelized, intense malt presence.: [8.2% abv]
B.O.R.I.S. The Crusher: "This Bodacious Oatmeal Russian Imperial Stout will crush you like no other! This is the grand-daddy of all stout styles, with an intensely deep roasted and full bodied flavor. A robust hop character adds a refreshing balance." [9.4% abv] *GABF Gold Medal Winner 2008*
Mystery Beer: If it makes it in time, you're in for a treat, but we're not telling!
*PLEASE NOTE: We will be enforcing a "one per person" with each flight for all tastings going forward. Thanks, Economy!

Lagunitas - Ruben & The Jets

So I had to rush to get his one in after a happy night in downtown Asheville.  I found one of my favorite beers from one of my favorite breweries last night at two separate places.  Lagunitas' Ruben & The Jets, the last beer in their Frank Zappa series, was found at The Thirsty Monk in 22oz bottles on sale for $5.50.  To my surprise, there is not a corking fee there, so I was able to take this rather strong stout home to enjoy within the confines of my four walls.  Then to my even happier surprise, I saw several 22 ouncers in the window of Weinhaus for $3.99(this was before the beer price increase today).  While too late to pick up a couple of more, I do plan on heading over there later in the week to see if any are left.

This beer does not seem to be getting the love it deserves from this fair city as in Portland we sold out months ago.  Then again, it could have been me buying them all up.  This is not a beer that you can drink until you lose your senses.  You need to enjoy this peppery, chocolaty Imperial stout with care and sloth-like mouth tipping.  Let it sit on your palate while the white pepper mingles with your taste buds and meets hand in hand with toffee to dance around with glee.  This is a beer full of complexity and flavor.  One minute you taste vanilla, the next coffee, then some fruit and of course chocolate and pepper.  You can make it a game to see how many flavors you taste here.  Give this beer a chance Portland, especially before I get my hands on the rest.

Monk-Day at the Monk

Being way too new to Asheville, I was not lucky enough to learn about Rob Tod of Allagash's visit last week until it was too late. A little bummed at first until I saw that there were still a couple of varieties on tap at The Thirsty Monk on Monday August 31st. Monday, or Monk-day, is a great day to visit the pub as you are able to try three samples of their beers for only $5. Going with my wife, it greatly expanded the tasting arsenal.

On the drive over, which for us is about 30 minutes, we had decided to keep it to 9 samples, or 3 flights, between the two of us. We knew that if it was that long of a drive there, it would be even longer to get home. It also made us realize how we can't wait for the new location to open in Arden, only about 5 minutes away from us.

Now for our tasting experience and the 9, I mean 10, tastings:

Allagash Burnham Road : The first of our flight was Burnham Road from Allagash Brewery out of the other Portland in Maine. I was really looking forward to this beer due to the description of being smoked. I have always had a soft spot for anything that reminds of Southern Barbecue and then being from Allagash I figured you couldn't go wrong.

I stared glowingly at the dark amber liquid in front of me and tipped it for my first taste. Hmmm, not sure. Must drink another. Ok, so this one confused me. I described it immediately to my wife as tasting what a burnt out house smelled like. Not entirely bad. I actually like the experience in some weird way. Maybe it was my glowing stare that set something on fire and that was what I was tasting. It smelled a little leathery and smoky. I actually think this would be an amazing beer if you had a stack of wood in a backyard that your landlord forbid you to set afire. You could seriously believe it was burning if you closed your eyes real tight and had an electric heater beside you while drinking this ale.

If this review confused you, don't feel bad. The beer truly confused me. I liked it one drink and not so much the next. I do recommend pairing this beer with something charcoal grilled to enjoy it all of the way through. I do have to admit that it was fun to stump my taste buds.

Delirium Nocturnam : The journey continued with a Belgian Strong Dark Ale named Nocturnam brewed by Delirium in Belgium. A deep inhale gives way to a slight alcohol aroma with backnotes of sweetness. I was a little disappointed with the first sip and then I remembered the previous beer that I had enjoyed. Though it was darker than the Burnham Road, it had a lighter and sweeter taste. I decided that I needed to cleanse my palate a little more before truly rating this beer. Do over time. Ahhh, much better. Although lite, it was very drinkable with a raisin-y, fig-y and kind of a plum flavor to it. I am a little inexperienced with good Belgian beers, so I almost feel that I should not be reviewing them, although there are probably a lot of you out there who have not experienced Belgian's as much as you would have liked.

While not my favorite Belgians, I did enjoy this and would like to give a bottle a try. I figure that the spiciness of the yeast from the bottle conditioning may add a nice note to the beer that was lacking in the draught. Make sure that if you give this one a try you need to take a few drinks before bashing it. It seemed to really open up after the third or fourth drink.

Ommegang Rare Vos : Here was another ale I was really looking forward to. Rare Vos by Brewery Ommegang challenged me to enjoy a special occasion ale while sitting in a bar with people I had not yet met. Being a Bronze Medal winner at the 2008 Great American Beer Festival in Denver, I had high expectations for this one and it really did not disappoint. Pouring nicely with a medium amber color, it just looked yummy. It had a nice floral aroma with hints of caramel. The first sip gave way to an immediate caramel sweetness that gave way to a slight fruity, citrus-y flavor. The floral aroma was almost non-existent in the flavor, although there was light hint of it in the background. This is a great dinner ale that would pair nicely with just about anything.

Dupont Biere de Miel : This is the reason for the 10th sample instead of the nine that the wife and I had planned for. We were just about ready to head upstairs to try the beer we came here for, Midas Touch by Dogfish Head, when we were overheard talking about it by patron Paul. He had just had Midas Touch and insisted that we try Biere de Miel before indulging in it ourselves. It would not be until later that I understood why he had us try it. Biere de miel from Brasserie Dupont in Belgium was like candy in a bottle. I would have just left this review to "Wow!" except that i was in for an even more amazing experience later on upstairs. Up to that point, as good as my other beverages had been, Bier de miel was definitely the best.

The aroma definitely beamed of alcohol and sweet spiciness. My first sip was heavenly. I loved this beer. The color was a cloudy orange. The flavor was sweet without being sickening, almost nectar like. There was a nice balance of sweet, spicy and bitter without any of the tones being overwhelming. There was a light fruity, almost orange-like finish to it. All in all, I would definitely have this beer again.

Time to go upstairs.

Dogfish Head Midas Touch Golden Elixir : So this is the reason that we came here in the first place. Dogfish Head has always been a favorite brewery of mine and to experience the rare occurrence of trying one of their beers on tap just could not be missed. Midas Touch can be purchased locally at Bruisin' Ales in a bottle, although as most of you know, it is a completely different experience having them on draught. Heralding itself as the oldest known fermented beverage in the world at 2700 years, this beer has had a long time to get itself perfected and Dogfish Head did it right. I now know why patron Paul had us try Biere de Miel first. While similar in styles, it proved that Belgian's are not the only ones to perfect their ales.

I truly do not like being influenced by other people's reviews when tasting. On this occasion I can honestly say that I smelled something unique and passing the glass around to the wife, patron Paul and beer-tender Scott, we all smelled the same unique aroma. Refrigerated corn tortillas. That's strange...especially since their was absolutely no taste of the flat maize discs anywhere throughout this sweet and spicy beverage. Somewhere between beer and mead, there were tastes of honey and saffron as well as a citrus-y, fruity finish. This was nice. I could have been complete just drinking this beverage all night and whistling a nice tune while strolling home. Unfortunately, I drove and the higher alcohol content of just over 10% made me glad that I had only shared a half flight with my wife. I can see a couple of bottles of this in my very near future.

Allagash Black : This was the first Strong Belgian Dark Ale I have ever tasted and I can honestly say that I am hooked. Dark and caramel like on the pour with a nice creamy head made this Belgian look more like a creamy stout rather a Belgian. The difference was the distinct funky yeast flavor that usually accompanies a Belgian. The almost smoky chocolate flavor gave way to a coffee fruity finish. It was very smooth and surprisingly not as heavy as it looked making this a very drinkable beer. I could see having this beer with an array of Belgian chocolates. This beer from Allagash really made up for the Burnham Road I had tried much earlier in the evening.

Brooklyn Post Road Pumpkin Ale : So this review will be in two parts. First, I must say that I am not a fruit ale drinker typically. My wife, on the other hand, is drawn to them. She does want to point out that even though she likes them, she has to go through many that she can't stand before she comes across one that she loves. This one would be no different. The Post Road Pumpkin Ale by Brooklyn Brewery poured to a coppery color and the aroma was spicy with hints of nutmeg and Cinnamon. The taste brought mixed reviews. My wife immediately did not like it, Patron Paul said it was too hoppy for him and I rather enjoyed the strong taste of nutmeg. Unfortunately, there was very little notice of pumpkin to this ale. it reminded me of a nutmeg flavored IPA, which in itself was a unique experience. Once I labeled it that, I quite enjoyed it. For that reason, I quickly inherited the ale from my wife who originally ordered it. This will be an acquired taste. I do need to add that this was the draught version and to my wife's dismay, we had a bottle of the exact same beer that she had been holding onto at home. This was not known to her until after we had cracked it open once we were safely at home and she had her first sip.

Part 2, the bottle. So I need to add that the bottle did have a more pumpkin-y flavor with less emphasis on the nutmeg. I again inherited a beer that was primarily for her, which I could not complain too much about. Still a little hoppy, although smoother and fruitier. The spiciness would make this beer better once it cools down a little, which would be my recommendation if you want to give this one a shot.

Duck Rabbit Rabid Duck : Now this is what I have been looking for. Being from Portland, I love my heavy, flavorful stouts that warm the body from the wet and cold weather outside. This ale did not let me down. I am so happy to see that Duck Rabbit bottles this wonderful Russian Imperial Stout. The color was pitch black with an aroma of vanilla, caramel and alcohol. I am happy to report that although the alcohol content is quite large(10%), it is not really noticeable. This is truly a sipping beer that is definitely a warmer. The common hints of chocolate and coffee which usually comes with a Russian Imperial are present and although not listed as such, it has a nice bourbon-barrel aged finish. This is a beer worth cellaring for a year or so. I think it could only get more complex. 10 thumbs up!!!(didn't I tell you, I'm all thumbs)

Highland Imperial Mocha Stout : Now this one was a pleasant surprise. I guess I had an unfounded negative attitude toward this Asheville brewery. Maybe it was Highland Brewery's rather plain packaging or the fact that they can be found everywhere here. Really, I think it was because the packaging and the ease of finding their beer reminded me of a rather inferior brewery in Portland called Henry Weinhard. This beer has erased that idea permanently from my head. 'Ol Henry never put out a beer like this. While this is a pricier and more than likely more flavorful version of their Black Mocha Stout, it is well worth it. Their website states that there are sill some bottles of this floating around. If you can't find it, I highly recommend you getting down to the Monk before they run out.

So the stout poured pitch black with a nice tan head that stuck around until the last drop. It had a wonderful sweet vanilla-like flavor with a nice coffee, almost sweet latte-like, finish. All I can say is, I wanted more and I was starting to get tipsy so that wasn't going to happen. My wife said it was her favorite of the night. This experience really changed my mind quickly on this local brewery. If you like stouts, you should love this one, and if you don't, give it a try. I think it could change your mind.

Oskar Blues Gordon : For the last taste of the evening I go for Godon from Oskar Blues Brewery in Colorado. Ah, an IPA. The beer of choice in the northwest. I guess they consider this a double IPA. I just consider it great. Then I was thrown for a loop. This comes in a can? I almost fell out of my chair laughing. Though this was on draught, I just could not expect that something this good could ever have come from a can. Of course, most craft brew lovers remember their college days filled with Natural Light downed by the truckloads. Natty Light came from a can, and it must have been good since we drank so much of it. Then again, there is a reason that we have not had beer from a can, aside from the occasional sporting event, in a long time. Because good beer stopped coming from a can. Craft brewers just did not do it. I don't know the exact reason why. Maybe it is just easier to bottle than it is to can. And from reading Oskar Blue's website, they found it quite hysterical, also. They just thought it would be funny to can instead of bottle. But don't let that fool you. This is great beer.

This double IPA was surprisingly low on bitterness in comparison to other double IPA's. Quite smooth and sweet with hints of citrus, almost pineapple-like, and a mild minty finish. I rank this up at the top of my list for IPA's and I come from the land of IPA's. I was also surprised to taste a little vanilla with just a slight bitter, peppery finish. I will never look at canned beers the same. Please do your taste buds a favor and give this beer a try. Even if you do not like IPA's much, I think you will like this one.

All in all, I had a wonderful first visit to The Thirsty Monk. I am excited to know that a new monk is opening quite close to me, and even more excited to learn that the new Monk will feature different beers with an emphasis on locals. Gives me a reason to frequent both. And to have an event like Monk-days every Monday, you just cannot go wrong. I am going to reserve as many Mondays as possible to head down to The Thirsty Monk in order to try as many beers as soberingly as possible. And I will always report what I taste.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Beer on the Radio on the Internet on your Ipod

So for those of you who can't get enough beer info or those of you addicted to your ipods, there are a few online beer radio stations that you should check out.

www.craftbeerradio.com - Craft Beer Radio has a large number of broadcasts archived for download or streaming audio. They are very informative and enjoyable and they do a lot of shows on local breweries. I highly recomend you check them out.

www.beerradio.com - Beer radio can not only be listened to online, they have a weekly broadcast on sirius radio. They also have a rss feed and podcasts available on iTunes.

www.thebrewingnetwork.com - The Brewing Network seems to have been around the longest and seem to be the most in depth online beer radio show out there. They have four different shows that are available for download and the archives for each show seem to go back quite a ways. The shows are: the Sunday session(the one that started it all), the Jamil Show that covers brewing classic styles of beer, Brew Strong which covers cutting edge beer and brewing news and Lunch Meet, which doesn't seem to be about beer at all.

http://goodbeershow.com/ - The Good Beer show is less radio and more video, so for all you visual people out there, this beer show is for you!

http://pacificbrewnews.libsyn.com/ - Pacific Brew News is a show very near and dear to my heart. While their podcasts may cover beers that are not readily available here, there is some great information. On top of that, there are a few that get distributed here or you can order them from http://www.liquidgratitude.com/Default.aspx.

http://www.citizen-times.com/apps/pbcs.dll/section?Category=PODCASTS02 - The Beer Guy Tony Kiss from the Asheville Citizen times has an online podcast you should check out. There is a new show every Wednesday and each episode lasts about 20 minutes.

So that should get you started. As I find new shows that look interesting, I will add them. If you come across one that you think should be posted, just add a comment. Happy drinking and listening.

Nice to meet you, Asheville

So this is the town that recently tied Portland as beer city, USA. Quite nice, I must say. So much like Portland, just less crowded and slightly nicer people. As a lover of the great outdoors and of great beer, I could not have found a better place to re-locate to from Portland. I am still getting my feet and my taste buds wet. Not usually a problem for a Portlander where we all supposedly have webbed feet and have a micro-brewery on every street corner. Yet, from what I have tasted, there is quality to be found here.

My first night out with the misses took me to Asheville Pizza & Brewing Co. for a pint(or three) and a movie. While the movie was not highly intellectual, "Bruno" did give me an excuse to keep downing the wonderful nectar that flowed generously from their taps. I almost wish I had taken a notebook with me so that I could have jotted down some of the nuances that permeated the sudsy beverages. As a local, you already know them and as an implant, I am sure I will get to know them better.

I have since tried a few interestingly labled bottles from the east coast without any true stand outs. I will start adding my reviews, especially for some of the new brews on the autumnal horizon. Fall is my favorite beer time of the year with some of the heavier and more flavorful offerings springing to life.

Overall, though, I am very pleased to have re-located here. It is very nice to meet you, Asheville. I can't wait to get to know you better.