Thursday, May 28, 2009

Isotopes Triple A Blonde

Leave it to Albuquerque to base their minor league baseball team after an episode of the Simpsons... "Mesquite-grilled onions. JalapeƱo relish. ... Wait a minute, those are Southwestern ingredients. ... Mango-lime salsa? That's the kind of bold flavor they enjoy in ... Albuquerque!" Of course, since baseball is the American pasttime, it's very important that you honor that holiday with beer.

With Mrs. D, Mama D and Brother D in tow, we headed to 'Topes Stadium to enjoy the Isotopes hopefully beat New Orleans. The odd thing about the Isotopes beer venders is that if you get Coors/Bud Light you end paying like $6.25 per beer. Buy something "fancy", such as Blue Moon, Fat Tire, etc..., you're up to $7.50. If you're bold enough to go for Guinness, plan on shelling out $8 for that beer. However, if you're smart and head to the west side of the stadium, you can get a nice microbrew made especially for the Isotopes for the nice price of $6.25 - take that Coors!

I got the Isotopes Triple A Blonde for the game. It's got that perfect blond coloring and malty, refreshing taste that you would expect from a blond ale. There's a light sweet finish, with no aftertaste. A warning, though - I think that the vendors don't have the beer at the coldness that I appreciate. The beer got warm pretty quick, which made the beer a little tougher to enjoy and not nearly as refreshing. Not to say you should suck down the beer to enjoy it while it's cold, but with that said, you will probably WANT to suck it down.

The Isotopes also offer their Slammin' Amber, which we'll take a look at in a future post. Both the Slammin' Amber and Triple A Blonde are available at local stores, such as Smith's, Albertsons, Kelly's, Quarters and the Triangle Grocery in the east mountains.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Flying Dog Snake Dog IPA

Boy, I do enjoy the Flying Dog brand of beers. Readers of this blog know of my affinity for the Flying Dog In Heat Wheat - probably my favorite American style wheat beer. So, I figured it was time to branch out and try one of their other beers, and since I was on an IPA kick, why not try the IPA?

I would definitely call this brew a quality IPA. There is a great amber color (see picture!) and strong hop taste that is characteristic of the IPA. I got a big bitter hit that doesn't stick around all that long, with a long, very lighter aftertaste. With a 7.1% ABV, this beer has a kick to it, and with a 60 IBU rating, it's got the bitter hop taste to back up its IPA status.

Very good beer from a great brewery - go hit this one up!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Kelly's Belgium Dubbel

Mama D really enjoys Kelly's - I think that everytime she's in town, we end up going there. That usually works for me, as the food is good enough and the beer is tasty. I've brewed beer there, which is a blast, and the brewers themselves are very knowledgable. Having learned this the hard way, I've had a few instances where I didn't necessary get what beer I ordered. It hasn't gone all that well and there was one instance where I had ordered a Hefeweizen and received a Dunkelweizen instead and I had to argue how it wasn't physically possible that what I got was a Hefeweizen. But I digress.

This time around, I got the Belgium Dubbel. The Kelly's folk call it a double strength Belgium, and I can see that. The beer has a very interesting smell, bordering on sweet. You get a really smooth taste with a bit of malt and NO aftertaste at all and extremely low bitterness (only 30 IBUs). The Belgium Dubbel also had some nice clove, cinnamon and hint of fruit to it, which is pretty characteristic of the Belgium type beers. With a 6.3% ABV, this beer has some strength behind it, but not a beer that you drink and feel you got punched in the face.

Not a bad brew if I do say - I tried the Robust Porter as well, but that is a beer for another day!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Stone Cali-Belgique IPA

I never really had many Stone Brewing beers before I started my little hobby here. I had always seen the bottles with that bastardly little demon/gargoyle holding a beer. I had been warned that the beer had a kick, which was evident when I had the Arrogant Bastard Pale Ale at Murphy's in Prescott. Imagine my surprise when I was presented a bottle of the Stone Cali-Belgique IPA by a great guy, Mr. Trimmer. As expected, this was a fine, fine brew.

Like the Arrogant Bastard Pale Ale, this is a bold, hoppy beer. The color is perfect - a nice gold that is characteristic for an IPA. The beer provides that crisp, bitter hop taste, but it's definitely not overwhelming. Tina is not a fan of IPA and she thought this beer was tasty, so that's a good sign (at least in my book!) What is unique about this beer is the use of Belgium yeast, which infuses a unique flavor in the beer. While the Cali-Belgique IPA is in all aspects an IPA, that yeast changes the flavor ever-so-slightly to have it stand out as not just another IPA.

Just FYI if you go look for this beer, you'll probably notice that the bottle says either "Cali-Belgique" or "Cali-Belgie". Apparently, the Belgiums speak either French or Dutch and depending on where the yeast was harvested it from, depends on what "Belgium" translates to. So, 1/2 of the bottles will say Belgique and the other half say "Belgie". Same beer, different translation.

If you are a fan of IPAs, you'll want to try this beer. If you like Stone Brewing beers, you'll want to try this beer. If you like beer - TRY THIS BEER!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Samuel Adams White Ale

To be green or not to be green, that is the question. If you read the review of the New Belgium Mothership Wit, you'll remember that I didn't think that the beer was all that for the whole organic thing. You'll also remember that I preferred this brew, the Samuel Adams White Ale. It's not organic (or at least, not to my knowledge) and it's WAY less expensive. In fact, I got a 12 pack from Quarters last week for $7.99 because the Summer Ale is coming in as the current seasonal beer and the White Ale had to go!

Like most Belgium white ales, the Sam Adams White Ale has that cripsy, light taste with the flavors of coriander, spice and orange. The citrus taste is a bit more subdued in this one, leaning more to the malt than the Mothership Wit. There is a hint of bitterness at the tailend, but not much. It's got a really light body but really good flavor and it's very refreshing, especially on a hot day. The beer is at 5.4% ABV, so it is a pretty strudy brew.

While Sam Adams is not a microbrew by any means, it's a good solid beer for a good price. If given the choice between the Mothership Wit and the Sammy White Ale, I'm going to go with the patriot, not the hippie.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

New Belgium Mothership Wit

Tina found this brew when she was at the grocery store and hadn't seen it before. I can't say I had ever tried it, so it made it a perfect specimen for this blog. Now, if you know much about New Belgium Brewing, you'll know that they are very aware of their carbon footprint and are all about alternative energy and sustainability and hippie crap like that. If you know me, I am not.

In fact, I will only care about conservation and sustainability if it is 1) easy to implement and 2) will require little or no cost to do. For example, Tina and I recycle...because I just toss the bottle into a bin and not the trash can. Easy, simple, no cost.

So, why would I go on a rant on green, hippie things? Well, the New Belgium Mothership Wit is a "USDA Organic" beer. This tells me that this beer will be more expensive than other similar beers, because being greeny costs too much and that cost needs to be passed through to us consumers.

The beer itself is a good Belgium white beer - very light and crisp. You can definitely taste the coriander and there are the flavors of citrus, orange and a touch of malt. There is a bit of a sour aftertaste that sticks with you a minute, but nothing that makes you want to brush your teeth. The beer is very refreshing, especially on a hot day where you want something cold and light.

Personally - I'd take the Sam Adams White Ale (which we'll see on here in due time), as I prefer the taste and price (which is easily a few bucks cheaper than the New Belgium). The Mothership Wit is not a bad beer, by any means. If you're a die-hard New Belgium fan, then you'll probably really like it and not mind paying an extra buck or two to make sure that the beer industry doesn't kill the planet a little bit more.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Sierra Nevada Summerfest Ale

I was out in Phoenix last weekend and while hanging out between plans (pool and charity event), a beer while enjoying the heat sounded really good. So, my buddy and I stopped at Fry's and got this lager - the Sierra Nevada Summerfest Ale. I really like Sierra Nevada's regular pale ale - it's almost the beachmark of other pale ales I've tried.

With that in mind, the Summerfest was underwhelming. The malty taste reminded me of a Heineken or Beck's, but not in a bad way. With 32 IBUs, there was a bitter, medium bodied flavor. It's not overly alcoholic (5.0% ABV), so having one or two isn't going to knock you off the bar stool. This is definitely a beer that would be good if you were working in the yard because it was very refreshing. Honestly though, I had higher hopes for this beer.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Four Peaks Brewing - Take 2 Beers and Call Me In the Morning

I hit up Four Peaks Brewery again last time I was in Scottsdale and polished off the last two beers I have not had the pleasure of trying. I haven't been to Four Peaks at night before and it was a really chill atmosphere. There was a nice breeze and with their bay doors to the patio open, it was relaxing to sit back, chill and enjoy some beer.

First up was the Four Peaks HopKnot IPA. If you read my post on the last trip to Four Peaks, you'd remember I was really disappointed with the RAJ IPA that I had. Having tried the HopKnot, I wish I had ordered this brew instead. There is a really sharp bitter hop taste with a mild, but clean, aftertaste. I read a bit about the process by which Four Peaks brews this beer and it sounds different - they use 4 different types of hops and add them at four different times. I wouldn't say that this process makes HopKnot break any IPA boundaries or does something so unique that I would need to order mass quantities and store it, but it does produce one damn fine IPA.

The Oatmeal Stout was the last beer of Four Peak's regular offerings to try and it was a fine finish. The first thing that came to mind when the beer came was "Did I order a Guiness on accident?" It seems like they used nitrogen rather than typical carbonation. The beer itself was extra smooth with a smoky, almost-chocolate taste. Neither me or my friend, Louis, got any oatmeal taste from the beer, but I guarantee it's in there somewhere. If I had a choice between this and a Guiness, I would pick the Oatmeal Stout, as it lacks that odd aftertaste that I really don't care for with Guiness. I would definitely order this tasty stout again!

Breckenridge Agave Wheat

The final beer at the Yardhouse I had was this very flavorable wheat beer from Breckenridge Brewery in Colorado. The Breckenridge Agave Wheat is definitely an American-style wheat beer with a light fruity taste that gets stronger with the aftertaste. Like expected, there is no bitter taste at all (according to their website, it's only got 9 IBUs. Compare this to the 90 IBUs in the 90 Minute IPA that was reviewed earlier!). If you dislike bitter beers (not the kinda that cause Bitter Beer Face), I think you'll really enjoy this brew.

A very crisp beer, it really hit the spot after a big ol' burger and the heavier (and much more alcoholic) beers that I had earlier. The Agave Wheat only has a 4.2% ABV, so you could polish off a number of these and not be a sluring mess. There is no need for a lemon or orange in this beer - I think the agave nectar that they use in the beer more than flavors it and I'm not sure if I would mess with that by dunking a lemon chunk in there. The coloring is oddly similar to my friend's Stone IPA, so not as light as you would expect from a wheat beer.

Breckenridge puts out some good beers and this brew follows suit. If you're looking for a good wheat beer, I would definitely recommend the Agave Wheat.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

New Belgium 1554

The 2nd draft I had when I was at the Yard House was the New Belgium 1554. I've had this a long time ago at La Posada in Winslow, AZ, but only vaguely remembered that I enjoyed it. Upon recommendation from a friend (thank you Rebekah!) who found it at Zinc's on draft, I figured I'd give it a shot again. Fortunately, that enjoyment from before stuck around this time.

When you get this beer and perhaps wait for the head to settle down, the first thing you'll notice is that the head looks like foamy chocolate - not quite the traditional white that you see in nearly all other beers. The beer itself has a very smooth, rich mocha/coffee taste to it. You definitely get the malt taste in there, but nothing that is overwhelming or offputting. There is absolutely no aftertaste, so once you've had your drink, you've got a fresh mouth for the next.

The food came about the same time as this beer and it was an excellent combination - I had the BBQ-Bacon burger and the rum BBQ sauce that went with the burger complimented perfectly with the 1554. Upon inspection of the 1554 website, some foodie says the beer works very well with meat (not that beer doesn't...).

Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA

This past weekend, I took a trip to Phoenix as part of my regional director job for the Active 20/30 Club and decided some lunch at one of my favorite places was in order. Located in Scottsdale Fashion Square, the Yard House features roughly 120-150 beers on tap. And we're not talking 40 versions of Bud/Bud Light/Miller Lite/etc, these are finely crafted beers from all over the country. Today's beer - the Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA was the first out the gate.

Now, probably the first thing I should have noticed (and did) was that there was a little asterisk (*) by the beer's name. This little guy indicated that the 90 Minute IPA is only served in pints and not in the 1/2 yard and yard containers. This meant to me that this beer means business and it did.

Coming in at a staggering (and stumbling) 9.0% ABV and 90 IBUs, this beer had a really strong hoppy taste from the get go. The hops tasted different than other IPAs I've had, but upon further research, I couldn't find a specific type, which I have a feeling is because they want to keep it under wraps. The beer takes a flavor journey as it starts with the bold hop and medium bitter taste, then hangs out with a mild sour aftertaste. The finish, likely from "Mystery Hops", was unique and unlike other IPAs, adding just a hint of sweetness.

The scent was great - especially when I got a little too close to the foamy head and snorted it. Nothing like hops IN your nose - did not ruin the enjoyment of the beer by any means. The high alcohol content sticks with you a little bit, so if you're looking for a similar quality, but not as alcoholic or bitter, go with the 60 Minute IPA which is 6.0% ABV and 60 IBUs. I didn't get a chance to try that one, but it was also served at the Yard House.

This was a great IPA and would highly recommend it if you happen to catch it in the liquor department or happen to be in Delaware where the brewery is.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Spaten Optimator

I had noticed that my samplings of late have been leaning to the light to red spectrum of beer and I have been neglecting good old fashioned dark beer. And in the interest of equal opportunity drinking, here is the first of many dark beer reviews. Today's beer - the Spaten Optimator comes at the recommendation of Brian in Colorado - so if you end up trying this at my recommendation, then I blame him.

Through the wonders of Facebook, I was able to get a few dark beer suggestions. Unfortunately, when I went to the Wyoming & Montgomery Quarters, the Spaten was the only one I could find (no worries though, I've got a few other places to check out for the other beers). I found this very unassuming six-pack in the German "fridge zone". This little gem comes from MUNICH, Germany (I do enjoy loudly saying MUNICH in a German accent...don't ask me why), so I knew this was REAL beer.

This brew was extremely good - there is almost velvetly chocolate taste to it with a nice hit of hops and malt. You get a hint of bitter aftertaste, but nothing that sticks with you for a long time. Not a wimpy beer by any means, as there is a really nice robust body to the beer itself. Even being a burly beer, it didn't knock you on your butt as you drink it. I had my lovely wife Tina try the Optimator to see what she thought. Tina isn't really a dark beer fan, and she enjoyed it, which is saying something. German brewing (engineering, efficiency, etc...) is some of the best in the world, so I can see how it was easy to sway the uninitiated.

What I didn't realize until after I had consumed two of these bad boys is that the Optimator has a 7.2% ABV. Looking back, it makes more sense that the still hot oil from my car didn't really bother my hand as I was changing the oil on the Tahoe.

The only negative against the Optimator is the price - $9 for the six pack, but given the quality of the beer, I think the extra $1/$1.50 was worth it. I would definitely get this beer again.

Check out the Spaten website, for some more details on the various beers they produce, including some wonderful health tips regarding beer.

Today's tip: Beer is rich in important vitamins - most are delivered to you by the beer's yeast. Vitamins B1, B2, and B6 and H contained in beer are food for the nerves: They improve your ability to concentrate, support the production of red blood cells, have a positive effect on your blood circulation and stimulate your metabolism.

So drink up! Get those vitamins in a much more fun way than popping a pill!