Tuesday, December 14, 2010

I'll take a Tall Skinny Mocha Java Stout, with some La Cumbre on top

Two things on tap for today - a review of Santa Fe Brewing's newest addition to their line of cans - the Imperial Java Stout, then a debrief on our trip to La Cumbre Brewing from Saturday.

Appearance - Thick black body with a foamy, mocha colored head. Head is pretty sticky too, as it coats the glass substantially. 4.0/5.0

Smell - Coffee coffee coffee. The aroma is like sticking your nose right into a bin of coffee beans. Not just any coffee beans, but the uber-dark ones that will literally put hair on your chest. Any other smell is overpowered by the coffee. You get a hit of that coffee each time that you taste it too. 3.5/5.0

Taste - Like the aroma, coffee dominates the flavor, but it starts to smooth out a bit. The first time I had this beer, I was taken aback by the coffee flavor and almost had trouble finishing it. 2nd go around was much better with the toasted malt coming out. Very little sweetness, as the coffee's bitterness takes priority. It's like having a strong cup of Starbucks bold coffee...no cream...no sugar. 3.5/5.0

Feel - 1st taste is strong until your mouth adjusts to the beer. After that, you start to get some more of the flavor notes. 3.0/5.0

Drinkability - Jury is out. 1st time, probably wouldn't have bought it again. 2nd time, enjoying it. I'm guessing the 3rd time, I'll want to get a six pack or two for the fridge. 3.0/5.0

As for La Cumbre Brewing - I had a great time there! Myself, plus Mrs. Beer Fridge and a number of guys from the Active 20-30 Club headed over there after we did some charity work at the Children's Hospital. As you know, studies have proven nothing makes you more thirsty than doing charity work. Between the 5 or 6 of us, we were able to try all five of their "standard" drafts. I personally loved the Malpais Stout (as I hoped I would) and surprising, the South Peak Pilsner (I'm not normally a fan of pilsners). Good comments were made about the Pyramid Rock Pale Ale, plus the holiday seasonal they had on tap. So, outside the 7 beers that La Cumbre made, they had 4 other local beers (1 Marble, 2 Chama River and 1 Turtle Mountain if memory serves me correctly).

Outside the beer, the vibe of the place was amazing. Jeff did a fantastic job with the tour of the brewery itself - it made my homebrewer buddy Lou almost have a moment. The environment reminded me of a neighborhood pub that you see on TV where 4-5 of your closest friends get together, have a few beers and talk crap to each other. Bombers from all over the place and tin "plates" adorn the walls, with old barrel-like tables scattered around. There's a pool table upstairs too - so bonus!

I would highly recommend checking out La Cumbre and seeing what all of the fuss is about. The passion for the craft is evident in the brewery, but it doesn't overshadow the chillness of the atmosphere.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

La Cumbre! Open for bidness!

Haazha! A new brewery is opening its doors this weekend - La Cumbre Brewing Company. Headed up by Jeff Erway, former brewer of Chama River Brewing, this new business venture is located at 3313 Girard (basically Candeleria and Girard).

Given Jeff's great history at Chama River, where he won 2 Silver medals at the World Beer Cup and 2 Bronze medals at the Great American Beer Festival, I can only imagine the brews coming out of La Cumbre will be pretty tasty. Looking at their menu, I'm very excited for the Malpais Stout and the Pyramid Rock Pale Ale. The Elevated IPA looks like it's going to be a hoppy concoction that will be interesting to try out.

The grand opening is Friday, December 17th, but they are doing a soft opening on Saturday, December 11th. Thanks to the power of Social Networking Competitions (i.e. Facebook contests), I called the date they'd actually open and won a free mug club membership. So, I'll be there Saturday around 2ish if anyone wants to grab a pint!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I didn't care for 14...13 was WAY better.

And I'm not talking about puberty, where the acne attack kicked in...yikes. I'm referring to Stone's 14th Anniversary Emperial IPA. This English-style IPA is the result of Stone going across the pond and finding all sorts of historical English ingredients and creating a beer out of it. I will admit that I'm not a big fan of English style beers - they just rub me a bit the wrong way. It could just be the way they they add a "u" to a lot of words, I dunno.

Appearance - Lighter than your average IPA with cloudiness that is remenscent of a hefeweizen. Frothy and sticky white head. Definitely gets points for uniqueness. 4.5/5.0

Smell - Sour citrus with a focus on grapefruit. 3.0/5.0

Taste - Sweet malt with a prominent hoppy bitterness at the end. Earthy, piney hops. Lighter bodied with a solid flavor. The use of the British hops (mostly Kent) isn't my cup of tea. 4.0/5.0

Feel - Good mouth coverage, aftertaste is primarily in the back of your mouth and very tart. 3.5/5.0

Drinkability - Not sure if I'd get this one again, given my preference for American style IPAs. Good flavor and not bad after a long day, though. 3.0/5.0

Monday, November 29, 2010

Tan, Refreshed and Properly "Hydrated" from the Caribbean!

Yikes, that's two long gaps in beer posts! Part of it was due to a nice week long cruise to the Caribbean. I wasn't sure what to expect beer-wise in the land of pirates and rum. When we did the Alaskan cruise, I got to enjoy a bunch of Alaskan beers plus stuff from Canada and Washington state. A very different type of beer in the land of beaches and sun!

Princess Cruises seems to favor the Europeans, so Spaten Premium and Franziskaner Hefe-Weisse were the "fancy" beers on the boat. Boddingtons and Guiness were featured during the pub lunches, but other than that - lots of Coors Light, big cans of Fosters and the like.

The best deal of the trip was on St. Martin/St. Maarten, where we found Carib Lager for a buck a can. Now, it wasn't some fantastical beer brewed in bourbon barrels or ancient Mayan gold, but for a buck - it got the job done and was really tasty when sitting on a beach or strolling the overly-shoppy boardwalk area. I tried a Presidente while I was there, but it was a "lot" more expensive (I think $2.50 a bottle).

Friday, October 15, 2010

Is it 10-10-10 already?

The first Vertical Epic I tried was last year's 09-09-09, which was a Belgian style Porter. Definitely one of my favorite beers, as it took a style I love (porter) and added some nice custom tweaks to it. This year's edition is a Belgian Tripel with some wine grapes incorporated into the brew - specifically Musct, Gewurztraminer and Sauvignon Blanc.

Appearance - Appropriately golden, with a frothy almond head. The light bubbles make the beer look really inviting - my mouth is watering! Nice and clear too. 4.0/5.0

Smell - Flowery sweetness and sugar. Lemon, banana and honey too. 3.0/5.0

Taste - The belgian taste is dominant - all of the spice, coriander and lemon are really potent and easy to pick up on. I don't mind the sweetness and it masks the alcohol extremely well (and at 9.5% ABV, this one will sock it to ya). The use of wine grapes is different - it adds some tartness to it that you don't normally see in a tripel. The taste changed a bit as the beer warmed. - 3.5/5.0

Feel - A clean beer - there is a little aftertaste, but it's very mild. Flavor is predominately on the tongue. 3.5/5.0

Drinkability - I gotta say, I enjoyed the beer, but I didn't really think it was so amazing that I would buy this by the case. I could get a bottle of New Belgium Tripel for about 1/2 the price. 2.5/5.0

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Joker likes beer too

So, in the Carney freak show that is the Shmaltz line of carnival themed beers, this one reminds me the most of Batman's arch-nemesis, the Joker. Not the Heath Ledger one, but more like Jack Nicholas.

Appearance - Golden yellow color, with a lighter head. The frothiness of the head sticks to the glass, leaving a visible residue as the head dissipates. - 3.5/5.0

Smell - Really sweet malt aroma. I get scents of honey, maybe some lemon. 3.5/5.0

Taste - Definitely a lager. The malt is really enjoyable, but not as sweet as the smell would elude to. The initial crispness is really enjoyable too. 4.0/5.0

Feel - Smooth and flavorful, with a nice malty aftertaste. Very refreshing. 4.5/5.0

Drinkability - I think this is a great beer for just chilling out. I happen to be clearing out e-mails and this just hit the spot. - 4.5/5.0

Monday, October 11, 2010

Pumpkin Porter hits the spot!

Mi Mo and Juan Mas (my awesome in-laws) were in Scottsdale last week and managed to fanagle a growler of Four Peak's Pumpkin Porter for me. From what they said, Four Peaks isn't allowing growler fills of Pumpkin Porter until the day after Thanksgiving. So, thanks to my in-laws' silver tongues, I got to enjoy this amazing beer!

I didn't do a full blown review because we were in the middle of dinner, but here are the highlights:

-An excellent porter in itself, the pumpkin flavor was just enough to add some distinction, but not enough to really be a pumpkin-ey beer.

-The carbonation was just right - enough to add some crisp, but not enough to induce too much beer belching.

-Aroma was dominated by coffee and roasted malt, with a hint of cinnamon, nutmeg and clove

The best thing about this beer is that it was a porter that had a little hint of something else. Similar to Breckenridge's Vanilla Porter, this one took a style I loved and added some flash to it. If you are in the Phoenix area, I'd highly recommend getting a pint of this goodness!

Saturday, September 25, 2010


Yea, you heard me - today's beer comes from Sri Lanka. When I was driving to Denver last weekend, I stopped in ol' Pueblo at Hercules Liquors and found this little gem. The proprietor of the shop recommended it and I have to say that I'm extremely glad that I did. Who ever thought that Sri Lanka made good beer?!

Appearance - A frothy chocolate head, pitch black with almost no visible carbonation. Feels very inviting. 4.5/5.0

Smell - Coffee dominates the nose, but you'll also get some mocha and roasted malt in there. Nothing that is all that different from the expected. 3.0/5.0

Taste - A bit different flavor than I was expected based on the smell. While the coffee was more promenient in the nose, the taste seems more focused on the bitter chocolate. There's definitely a coffee flavor to it, but it's not all that robust. In fact, there's some sweetness to it. Nothing as sweet as a milk stout, but definite sweetness at the beginning of each taste. This beer is packing a pretty impressive 8.8% ABV, but you can't taste the alcohol at all. 4.0/5.0

Feel - Thick and rich. The beer definitely coats the mouth well and finishes smooth. The aftertaste is malt and dark chocolate. It takes a while for the flavors to clean up in your mouth. 4.5/5.0

Drinkability - I think I paid $3.99 for this thing and it's probably one of the best beers I've had for that price. Unfortunately, it's not available here in New Mexico...wah wah. Would definitely pick it up again though. 5.0/5.0

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

See the Fantastical Snake Woman!

The Shmaltz Brewing Company is an odd little duck. They seem to have two lines - Jewish line and Carny Line. The Jewish line has stuff like the Re-Jew-nevator and Barmitzah. The Carny Line (smells like cabbage...small hands as Austin Powers would say) has a crazy freak show clown as its logo. This beer, the Coney Island Albino Python, is a member of the freak show line - promoting itself as being a "white lager". I've heard of white ales...but white lager? This indeed could be a freakshow I gotta try.

Appearance - An opaque golden color with a white foamy head that bellows up, then quickly simmers down. Very little carbonation going on this thing. You can see the yeast sediment before you pour it out. 3.5/5.0

Smell - Lemon, ginger, coriander, spice. As expected for the white aspect of the style. 4.5/5.0

Taste - Very different than I expected. There is a lemon taste to it, but it mixes oddly with the yeast (but not in a bad way). It subdues the citrusly lemon flavor to the point where you only hit the sharp lemon hit at the end of each taste. You also get an interesting ginger and wheat flavor with it too. While odd, I kinda like it. I think is the contribution of the "lager" aspect of the beer. 4.0/5.0

Feel - A bit thick, but coats the mouth well. The lingering aftertaste is ginger in nature, but it mixes with the yeast a bit odd...not sure I cared for that. 2.5/5.0

Drinkability - It's different that's for sure. There were aspects I really enjoyed (flavor and aroma), but the feel itself didn't sit right. I think if this was readily available, I'd have it again, but not one I'd go out of my way for. 3.0/5.0

Monday, September 20, 2010

Shot in the dark

Really like the photography on this picture...definitely not something by my hand. Anyway, I must first apologize to you faithful readers for not having posted in the last month. It has nothing to do with beer consumption, but rather being in/out of town and not just sitting my butt down to write. This will be fixed promptly!!

Today's beer is the Hop in the Dark Cascadian Dark Ale (CDA). The Cascadian Dark Ale is effectively a Black IPA...it just happens to be brewed in my homeland, the Pacific Northwest where they like to give different names to stuff. Like, I drank pops as a kid, not a Coke or soda...it was POP! The style of a Black IPA and a Cascadian Dark Ale are effectively the same...in fact, in a discussion with Patrick the ABQ Beer Geek, it sounds like they are consolidating these styles into one for purposes of judging at the Great American Beer Fest.

Appearance - Toasted bread colored head - about a half of a finger width; light carbonation and appropriately black. 4.0/5.0

Smell - Deliciously hoppy, with some chocolate malt scents. 3.5/5.0

Taste - Bitterness is not as pronounced, mainly having been mellowed out by the roasted malt flavor, which hits first. The earthy, bitter hops come up a bit later in the taste. At 6.5% ABV, you don't get much alcohol burn, if any. 4.0/5.0

Feel - Thick, slightly creamy, ends with a light bitterness. 3.5/5.0

Drinkability - Very much would have this again. I enjoy a good combination of malts and hops that is showcased in this style of beer. 4.0/5.0

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Would you like some fresh ground lemon pepper in your beer?

I would wager that the guy who made the Lemon Pepper Saison that won the Sam Adams Longshot competition didn't just toss some lemon pepper into a summer ale. I certainly hope not at least - that would really destroy the mystique of it all. This is the 3rd of the Longshot series that I had - the others being the Mile High Barleywine and the Old Ben Ale.

Appearance - Spring-y golden lemon color, light head with very little carbonation. - 3.5/5.0

Smell - Coriander, spice, pepper, lemon - definitely what you would expect out of a saison style beer. 4.5/5.0

Taste - Crispy, very refreshing, with the spicy picking up late in each taste. The carbonation enhances the malt flavor. Very enjoyable and fitting for the style. 4.0/5.0

Feel - Mellow and refreshing! Aftertaste is spicy and crisp. -4.0/5.0

Drinkability - Excellent summertime beer, too bad it's a special deal. I would buy this for a summer BBQ. 3.5/5.0

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Never imagined what the opposite of a Belgian White Ale was...

The Bruery in Placentia, CA is all over the Southwest Brewing News and other beer publications. Unfortunately, they're in California and....ah....I'm not. So, imagine my surprise and good fortune, when I found a number of their beers at BevMo! in Phoenix. So, I grabbed a Black Orchard for me and a Orchard White (wow, sorta like a chessboard...) for my sister-in-law. The one getting reviewed today is the Black Orchard. The Orchard White is quite tasty, but I didn't get enough to really do a full on review.

Appearance - Appropriately black for the name, cola colored head, mild carbonation except the head which reminds me of a coke, lots of sediment at the end. - 4.0/5.0

Smell - Sweet, malty, spicy, little bit of tart cherry and curant - 4.0/5.0

Taste - The wheat and Belgian spices blend well together. Sweet, but not terribly so. Cherry, caramel, blackberry and some breadiness. 4.5/5.0

Feel - Full, frothy, excellent mouth coverage and a mildly sweet aftertaste. 5.0/5.0

Drinkability - Excellent! Makes me want to take a road trip to Cali! 4.0/5.0

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Rogue X-Ray Sierra

When I first started this blog about 15 months ago, I was really into the lighter beers. An amber was pushing it in terms of darkness. After some sage advice from one Tom Crow, I ventured into the deep end of the color pool and found the intense flavors of porters, stouts and more. When I was at Jubliation around my birthday in March, they were offering up the last 3 bottles of the Rogue XS 2008 Imperial Porter for only $3.99. Wha wha?! I think that I had speed rivaling the Flash when I grabbed that bottle and it was faithfully stored in the Beer Fridge until the proper time.

Appearance - Wispy mocha head, solid blackness, rich looking with low carbonation - 4.0/5.0

Smell - Strong toasted malt, alcohol and roasted coffee...delicious! 4.5/5.0

Taste - Rich earthy coffee flavor, little bit of an alcohol burn at the end, but it's tempered by the toasted malt flavor. Oaky, with a hint of dark cherry. 4.5/5.0

Feel - Really coats the mouth, carbonation more potent at first taste then mellows out quickly. Aftertaste is a lingering bitterness. 4.0/5.0

Drinkability - While a potent 8.6% ABV, it's not as strong as other imperial porters, which I think makes it easier to drink. High quality and highly drinkable. 5.0/5.0

Monday, August 2, 2010

Part Deux - LongShot Series

So, there was big news a while back when Ben Miller from Rio Rancho won the Long Shot competition that Samuel Adams does annually where they will mass produce your recipe if it's up to snuff. Well, Mr. Miller did a fine job and likely received a copious amount of Samuel Adams attire, glasswear, coasters, beer, etc.... I did see him at a Dukes of Ale meeting with the Sammy shirt on. I think that if I were to win it, I'd be wearing those shirts daily. Anyway, as a fan of barley wine, I was interested to see what Ben did with his Mile High Barley Wine and I gotta say that I'm impressed.

Appearance - rosy red, clear, light tan head, - 3.5

Smell - mid, almost strong hop aroma, some citrus and pine, - not as strong as aroma as I would have thought - 3.0

Taste - wow, really delicious, hops blend well with the sweet malt, sweetness that you would expect out of a barleywine, well aged, piney and citrus (I get more of the pine) hops are excellent. - 4.5

Feel - remarkably smooth, way better than a number of barleywines (probably equal to hopsquatch) - bit of fruity hop aftertaste - 4.5

Drinkability - A great example of the style...too bad it's not more regularly available! - 4.5

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Santa Rosa - Not the NM one...

I was at the Active 20-30 International Convention in Santa Rosa, CA last week. Northern California is a lot of fun - lots of breweries and wineries, plus I've got a bunch of family and friends out there. I had heard about Russian River Brewing, and was glad to actually get a chance to visit it. I got to go there twice, so instead of a buttload of posts, we'll just consolidate into one fat post.

The brewery itself is a chill place - could tell that there were some definite regulars who frequent there. The first night we swung in, I got a pint of their Consecration - a 10% ABV American Wild Ale (i.e. sour style). Thursday, we came for my buddy's birthday and had some tasty beer bites as appetizers and started off with a pitcher of the Little White Lie, their Belgian White Ale. Followed that up with a pint of Pliny the Elder, then got a mega-sampler of beers that we ended up sharing with the table.

Pliny the Elder was probably one of the best beers I've ever had. I had heard a lot about both this one and Pliny the Younger, so definitely had to try it.
Appearance - A creamy head with medium carbonation and a golden amber color. Pretty standard looking for the IPA style. 4.0/5.0

Smell - Lots of piney hops - definitely the most definite feature of the aroma. 4.5/5.0

Taste - Hoppy, but not bitter. Some citrus and a lightly bitter aftertaste. The mix of the malt and hops are perfect. As mentioned in previous Imperial IPA posts, I get the impression that Imperial IPAs are either over the top or delightfully subdued. This fits into the latter. The hops are flavorful and the bitterness is perfect - 5.0/5.0

Feel - Extremely smooth, not as bitter as I would expect. Aftertaste is refreshing and has a good amount of flavor. 5.0/5.0

Drinkability - I think I would have this thing on tap at my house at all times. 5.0/5.0

My notes for the other two beers aren't terribly complete - talking with friends and family precluded good note taking! But here's the brief on them:

Little White Ale - a Belgian style White Ale. Refreshing with a nice kick of spice that you would expect in any Belgian style beer. I would say that the amount of spice and coriander in this beer is more than most other Belgian beers I've had. Definitely drinkable - if you like a lighter beer, try this one.

Consecration - an American Wild ale. If you are wanting to try something...unique, I would suggest grabbing a pint of this one. Sour...but not so bad as the Lips of Faith that I had from New Belgium. I think one pint was enough of this, but was worth a try for sure. At 10% ABV, will definitely kick you in the butt. The local guy who suggested this called it their "weird beer" - can definitely see why.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

ya sure ya betcha

The first brewery I ever visited was the Redhook Brewery in Woodinville, Washington. I had a blast there and just missed the brewery tour, but got some delicious bratwurst instead. Now, I know they've been bought out by some craft beer group, but I still have fond memories of this place. This beer, the Big Ballard Imperial IPA, is a tribute to one of the first beers they brewed, the Ballard Bitter IPA.

Appearance - Light auburn color, nice frothy head (about a finger's width). I enjoyed the head retention, especially in IPAs. Looked slightly bubbly. 4.0/5.0

Smell - Piney, floral hops. Distinctive scent, but not overwhelming. I prefer my Imperial IPAs to have a potent aroma, which this was lacking. 2.5/5.0

Taste - There are five hops used this in beer (Alchemy, Williamette, Sterling, Northern Brewer and Cascade) and they are expertly blended well together. Imperial IPAs seem to go either over-the-top strong or extraordinarily smooth - this beer is the latter. There are lots of IBUs (73), but I didn't think it was really that bitter. Grapefruit, pine, hint of sweetness from the malt. 4.5/5.0

Feel - Unerrily smooth, the head tasted thick. Minimal aftertaste, the flavor hits you strong then dissipates. 4.5/5.0

Drinkability - This beer falls into the category of Imperial IPAs that will kick you in the butt without you knowing it. I would pick up again, if anything, for the nostaglia of it coming from the first brewery I visited. - 4.0/5.0

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Who needs Chipoltaway with a beer like this?

I've never actually been to Chipotle - I hear it's good, but can't say that I've gone out of my way to try it. I like Chipotle peppers and have had those a whole bunch. So, when I saw the Rogue Chipotle Ale at Sunflower Market the other day, I had to see whether the pepper makes or breaks the beer.

Appearance - A beautiful rich amber. A decent amount of head - looks pretty carbonated. 4.0/5.0

Smell - You can get a hint of the pepper, but that's all - just a hint. The malt dominates the nose. I really was hoping for a slightly more dominate chipotle smell, but didn't get it. - 2.5/5.0

Taste - Mostly malt, and kinda sweet. You can detect a slight pepper burn, but it's really mild. For a chile beer, I expect a stronger flavor than what I got. The Sierra Blanca Pancho Verde is on the other end of the spectrum, being an almost overly strong green chile taste. Some smoke as well. - 3.0/5.0

Feel - Coats the mouth well, with a bit of pepperly aftertaste. 4.0/5.0

Drinkability - Given the style, I'll pass on it. While I enjoyed it, it's not what I would have expected from a beer whose style is focused on the chile. 2.0/5.0

Friday, June 18, 2010

Old Ben - first of the Longshots

This is the first of the 3 Samuel Adams Longshot Beers that came in the 2010 pack. The other two, the Lemon Pepper Saison and the Mile High Barleywine (from a local brewer, no less!), are pretty good and we'll get to them soon. Tonight's brew is the Old Ben Ale, which is the product of one of Sam Adams' employees who won the best brew for this year.

Appearance - Slightly translucent golden color. Really spotty, light tan head, almost filmy. - 3.0/5.0

Smell - Sharp malt scent, with a hint of hops to it. Some fruit - tartness, plum, cherry. 3.5/5.0

Taste - Pine, sweet malt, caramel, tart cherry. There's some alcohol burn at the end of each taste, which is very enjoyable. There's a maturity to this beer is evident - makes sense for an old ale style. 4.0/5.0

Feel - Medium bodied, somewhat thick. Carbonation is light. - 3.5/5.0

Drinkability - Good, not sure I would get it again - I preferred the Lemon Pepper Saison and Mile High Barleywine. 3.0/5.0

Monday, June 14, 2010

Oy! A beer fitting for a rabbi!

I crack up each time that I see any of the Shmaltz Brewing offerings - you'll see the little Rabbi guy and the He'Brew logo and you know you found Schmaltz. I've had their Genesis Ale and the Messiah Bold - tasty brews and I gotta love the Jewish connection. I did find out that these are Kosher beers - so...just FYI if you do Kosher. This beer is the Rejewvenator - Year of the Date - it's a dopplebock style beer that has included dates into the brewing process. The 2008 version used figs, 2009 dates and 2010 will have grapes. After having this beer, I'm definitely interested in trying out the 2010 Grape version, plus check out the brewery in San Fran.

Appearance - Deep amber color, minimal head that dissipates into a film. - 3.0/5.0

Smell - Sweet malt with some caramel. The dates are fruity and bold. - 4.0/5.0

Taste - Bready malt, sweetness that comes from a mix of the malt and the dates used in the beer. Definitely a dopplebock with the strong addition of the date. I wasn't sure if the dates would be overpowering, but they are very complementary to the style. - 4.0/5.0

Feel - Really enjoy the medium thickness of the beer, carbonation was good too. The brew felt hardy and substantial. 4.5/5.0

Drinkability - I'd have this one again. Tina enjoyed it too. It was an enjoyable use of the style, while adding a nice dimension with the addition of the dates. 4.0/5.0

Monday, June 7, 2010

Mirror Mirror on the wall, who has the best beer of them all?

While I cannot say that it's definitely Deschutes, they do have an awesome variety of beers that I have really come to enjoy. It doesn't hurt that Deschutes and Deshayes (my last name) are very similar in spelling. Tina, the Queen of Beers, took me on a little beer shopping spree for my birthday back in March. One of the beers, the Deschutes 2009 Reserve Mirror Mirror, was one of the fine bombers purchased that day. It has been sitting in my beer fridge since late March because the bottle told me to wait. No really - on the label there was a "Best AFTER 4/30/2010" marking.

Instead of waiting until midnight on the 30th, like an impatient guy watching a toaster, I figured it would be a good idea to wait a few more weeks for Tina and I's 5th anniversary to pop it open. We got into our bathrobes, sat on the porch and enjoyed this fine reserve.

Appearance - Rich copper, thick looking, very minimal carbonation, light lacing. When you swirl the glass, you can tell it's thinner than it originally looked- 3.5/5.0

Smell - Very earthy and piney hops, sweet and delicious - 4.0/5.0

Taste - Flavors are well blended, hops are present and as expected in a barleywine, not overpowering, bit of fruityness and sweetness, hop flavor is really tasty. As expected with a good barleywine, the ABV of 11% is deceptive and will creep up on you if you're not careful - 4.5/5.0

Feel - Enjoyably smooth, flavor profile is really well done - felt good, aftertaste is hoppy and sweet. - 4.0/5.0

Drinkability - I did wait until the prescribed "best after 4/30/10" - really enjoyable barleywine that I would definitely have again- 4.5/5.0

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


You are probably going - "Hey, Deshayes - did you forget about this little beer blog of yours?" Nope - I have been busy making sure that we had an awesome Active 20/30 event. Yup, we had an adult kickball charity tournament. Kickball, you ask? We had 450 ADULTS playing kickball at the same time. We had a blast and made some money for charity, so I can't complain. Congrats to Team Whatevzies who ended up being the top of 27 teams and winning $2,000 for being just dominant kickballers.

Anyway, it's on to the main event. At Christmas, I received a beer snob's dream - a bottle of Samuel Adams Utopias. Only four bottles of this made it to the Land of Enchantment - specifically, one went to the Triangle Grocery in the east mountains. If you haven't been to the Triangle, I'd suggest making a trip out there. They have an amazing beer, wine and spirits selection and the gentleman who runs it is really in the know.

I finally tapped the bottle of Utopias. That means, I held it from December 2009 to late April 2010...ridiculous. But it was well worth the wait.

Appearance - Coloring is consistent with iced tea and burnt brown sugar, obviously no carbonation, coats the glass lightly. Not opaque, but foreshadows some of the smells and flavors being a clearer beer. - 5.0/5.0

Smell - Sweet brown sugar, smells like a port or sherrie, alcohol, fruity, caramel, reminds me of a fine liquor. Sweetness is definitely the key smell, but not overpowering due to the presense of alcohol. Would have preferred less sweetness. 4.0/5.0

Taste - Smoke, tart fruit (plum and apple), vanilla, caramel, raisin. Excellent taste - I can imagine this would pair well with a lighter sweetdessert. Beer advocate says cheese - which I could maybe see. 5.0/5.0

Feel - Warms your throat and extremely smooth, with a different type of aftertaste. Doesn't finish sweet, but almost like a fine brandy with a tart plum. You can hold it in your mouth to extract the flavor, but it doesn't burn like you had a shot of vodka. Excellent mouth coverage. 5.0/5.0

Drinkability - Would definitely have it again. The small quantity is perfect and would be amazing after a fine dinner. The price is a bit daunting ($150 a bottle), which is the biggest thing against it. A small glass (say $15) would be great for a special occasion. - 4.0/5.0

Monday, May 17, 2010

McGarvey's Scottish Ale

Wow...normally, I have something clever to say about things...you know, a bit of banter before we get into the nuts and bolts of the subject beer. I can't do that with this beer, as there isn't much to say. Epic fail on this BevMo acquisition....booo!

Appearance - Well, first off - this is one foamy beer. I had to let it sit for about 10 minutes so I can actually pour the other half of the beer. Cloudy, copper colored. Ridiciously foamy tan head. Like...making it hard to drink this sucker foamy. 2.0/5.0

Smell - Alcohol - some sweetness from the malt. Tart fruit, maybe cherry.. 2.5/5.0

Taste - Bitter, sweet alcohol. Sharp malt taste...kinda sweet bready. Other than that, not a whole lot to speak of. 2.5/5.0

Feel - Bubbly initially, then smooths out. Aftertaste is slightly sweet and bready. 3.0/5.0

Drinkability - Had way better Scottish Ales...I've got a number of other ones that I'd rather drink. 2.0/5.0

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Viva Las Vegas!

Ah, I love going to Vegas. Give me 3 or 4 days of a sweet depature from reality and I'm good to go for a long while. I don't end up gambling much, as I have WAY more important things to spend money on - delicious food and tasty brews. This recent trip was for a CPE conference (Tax Planning for the High Income Individual - i.e. clients, not me) and, while the conference was at the Bellagio, I had trouble paying $200 a night when I could pay $80 across the street at Planet Hollywood. And if you know me, you know I have no problem walking EVERYWHERE on the strip. The room I had reserved was just a standard room, which is more than satisfactory to me. Instead, I ended up getting the Boulevard Suite....1,400 square feet of overpriced luxury...including an air hockey table, but more importantly, this awesome view.

But really, suites aside, the more important thing was the beer. After a nice dinner, I headed over to New York New York, where I enjoyed a tasty pint of Rogue Shakespeare Stout at Pour 24. This beer bar is located on the upper level above the casino, sorta where the overpasses from Excalibur and MGM Grand meet, right next to the classy Coyote Ugly. At $7 a pint, not cheap, but from what I will find out, pretty standard for Lost Wages. They had a really nice offering of beer - Alaskan Amber, Abita Purple Haze, Big Sky Moose Drool, Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA... I'd check this out if you were on this end of the strip and wanted a nice variety.

The next day, I went over to Monte Carlo for a quick bite at Rubio's Mexican Grill in the Monte Carlo food court. This is one of my favorite places for a tasty fish taco...so good. Near the tram station is their beer bar, The Pub, which was formerly the Monte Carlo Brewpub, which made their own beer. The Pub has morphed into a junior Yard House - offering about 70 beers on tap. They had some of the standard Micro/Macro Brews (Blue Moon, Widmer, etc...), but did offer a bunch of local things and more obscure beers. I was really in the mood for an IPA and ended up with a Stone IPA. Should have tried something more local, but my brain had been a bit...zapped by hours of continuing education.

Tina surprised me by showing up on Monday night and we had a nice, pre-anniversary dinner at Mesa Grill in Caesar's Palance. Get the Wild Mushroom Quesadilla...BEST quesadilla....EVER. We started off with a margarita and I ended up getting a Schneider & Sons Weizen-Eisbock with dinner. Pretty tasty beer - lots of malt taste to it and went well with the lamb I got. If you are ever out here, do try Mesa Grill.

Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to go to one of my favorite beer/food joints, which is Burger Bar over in Mandalay Bay. They have a great selection of beers and nothing goes better with a beer than a burger. After this quick trip (less than 48 hours....oy), I'm ready for a trip back, but with less "learning" and more "lounging and enjoying".

Monday, May 10, 2010

Toss in a blue, and you've got yourself a pretty patriotic beer

Having tried the Dogfish Head Black & Blue, I figured I'd hit up the Red & White...which I think would be the opposite beer on the color spectrum. This beer is an unique type of witbier, which has been fermented with Pinot Noir juice.

Appearance - The beer has a real rich thickness to it. This one has a bit more carbonation going for it, as well as some sediment in it - reminds me of pulp in orange juice. The head was rose colored and held itself for a long while. - 4.5/5.0

Smell - Light fruit aroma, champagne, grape, some citrus and coriander - 3.5/5.0
Taste - I can pick up the sweetness and spices that I would expect out of a witbier (orange and coriander). It starts off this way, but then it phases into the more oaky, robust Pinot Noir flavor. - 4.5/5.0
Feel - There's a discernable alcohol flavor, which isn't a negative. If you want a standard witbier, keep moving on as this one is a strong ale with witbier characteristics. The carbonation makes this feel a bit like drinking champagne. - 4.0/5.0

Drinkability - I would prefer drinking this over champagne any day, so would be a very suitable replacement for a special occasion. I liked the fusion of the witbier and strong ale styles - you can definitely get elements of both in this brew. 4.0/5.0

Thursday, April 29, 2010

My name is Guybrush Threepwood and I want to be a Pirate!

After working in the yard for a few hours late this afternoon (ah, nothing like desk work, then "use the sunlight while you can" yard work...), my back started to complain about the type of work I was subjecting to it. So, with a beer in one hand and my PS3 remote in the other, I fired up the old console system to see that the Secret of Monkey Island is now a special edition download through Playstation Network.

I loved this game when I was younger. It tells the tale of Guybrush Threepwood, a wannabe pirate, who is out for adventure and faces the Ghost Pirate LeChuck(or Zombie Pirate or Demon Pirate...depended on the game, freakin' voodoo magic) during his various adventures. LucasArts - the same one that produces those Star Wars movies you may have heard of - did these games in the early 90s and they were a blast. From what I understand, a lot of these classics are getting a facelift and being re-released. These kids now-a-days think these things are new....HA!!! I remember when the screen stopped when you advanced in Super Mario Brothers....no Wario, no Yoshi, just Mario, Luigi, a Princess and a bunch of happy Toadstools telling you that you went to the wrong castle...

Anyway, you didn't come here to hear about my video game addiction, you came here for my OTHER addiction - good craft beer. Tonight's special - the Widmer 84-09 Double Alt 25th Anniversary Ale.

Appearance - Thick, rich looking copper brown. Head gone so quick you wouldn't have thought it was there. Low carbonation. - 3.5/5.0

Smell - Alcoholic malt with a sweet bread and light chestnut smell. 3.5/5.0

Taste - Molasses, raisens, some sweetness, bread, great blend of malt. Tart alcohol hits at the very end, but for a beer that is almost 10% ABV, the potency will creep up on you. As the beer settles and warms up a bit, you'll get some toffee and a bit more bitterness. - 4.0/5.0

Feel - Flavor builds up and you get a hit of sweetness near the middle of each taste. Aftertaste is mild, but alcoholic and malty. Body is on the higher side of medium. - 4.5/5.0

Drinkability - Flavorful brew, but on the strong side for something I'd get regularly. Great job by Widmer to celebrate 25 years of brewing. - 3.5/5.0

Monday, April 26, 2010

Sounds like someone has a case of the Mondays

Today was the first day back to the office for me. After April 15th, I hopped state lines with Tina and hung out in Phoenix for a few days. Had some great beer out there, and ended up bringing a bunch back. Tina asked me if I was ready for going back to the office today....I felt like I worked at a bank that had just been robbed and I just wasn't sure if I ready for the experience again. It didn't help that when I got to the office at 7:30, I had realized I forgot my office keys...awesome. One of my monitors apparently took a dirt nap too.

Anyway, after this amazing "back to work Monday", I needed a beer. I hadn't had an IPA in a while, so thought I'd give the Full Sail Slipknot Imperial IPA a chance. With a 8.2% ABV, it wasn't so robust to floor me, but would likely help numb the irritation of broken technology and leave me in a condition where I could go to the gym later this evening.

Appearance - Gorgeous tangerine color that is especially dark in the upper part of the glass. The head is foamy, white and leaves a sticky lacing on the glass. The beer generally looks thick, but in a rich, inviting way. 4.0/5.0

Smell - The hops are surprisingly subdued and lean on the earthy side of aroma. There's a..."funk" too. Not sure how to describe it other than if you walked into a room that hasn't been opened in a while and there is an odd smell to it. 2.0/5.0

Taste - Pine and earthy hops, some bitterness initially, but that goes away pretty quick. Other than that, not really much to write about. 2.5/5.0

Feel - Feels as thick as it looks. Great mouth coverage, but disappointing bitterness. 3.0/5.0

Drinkability - Eh, I've had other Imperial IPAs that I way prefer over this one for a similar price (or a buck extra). Not really what I would expect from the style either. I've had a few things from Full Sail, but I gotta say, none of their beers stand out - they are all adequate. Nothing terrible, but nothing noteworthy. 2.0/5.0

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Attack of the Andygator

When I saw this bottle over at BevMo the other day, I immediately thought of my dog, Andy. Talk about random freakin' reasons to buy a beer, but it worked. The Abita Andygator Helles Doppelbock was a steal too - only $3.50 for the bomber, which ain't bad.

Appearance - Foamy white head that lingered for a long while. Light yellow coloring, lots of bubbles. 3.5/5.0

Smell - Some malt and sweetness aroma, but it's really disappointing (i.e. very little there). 2.0/5.0

Taste - Strong malt taste, some spice to it, honey, sweet. Big bold flavor that hits you really hard when you first taste it. For a more alcoholic beer (8%), it's surprising light and smooth. 3.5/5.0.

Feel - Fills your mouth, but mellows out pretty quickly. Very little aftertaste, mostly just the spice. 3.5/5.0

Drinkability - It's a tasty beer. Maybe not the best example of a doppelbock. 3.0/5.0

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Happy Anniversary Sierra Nevada

Got to celebrate my birthday with my lovely wife, Tina, my brother and dad over at Nob Hill Bar & Grill and I heard through the grape vine that they had the Sierra Nevada 30th Anniversary Stout on tap. This seemed like an appropriate beer to celebrate both a birthday and an anniversary.

Appearance - A frothy, creamy tan head; a thick blackness with quick lacing. 4.0/5.0

Smell - The aroma was lighter than I expected with the malt dominating, followed up by some coffee. 3.0/5.0

Taste - Lots of malt and alcoholic coffee flavor. Oaky, with some acidic tart cherry at the front end, then blends into a molasses flavor. Highly enjoyable. 4.5/5.0

Feel - Coffee dominates the end, but the flavors are well blended and are subtle as they dissipate. 4.0/5.0

Drinkability - A very tasty, great representation of a stout. A great offering from Sierra Nevada and I would regularly get this, if it wasn't a special deal. 4.0/5.0

You can pick this up at Quarters and Jubliation - about $10 for a fancy looking bomber.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Four Peaks - Tempe

Tina and I are big fans of Four Peaks Brewing, but had never ventured out to the Tempe location, where all the magic happens. Suffice it to say, I'm glad we came over here. The Scottsdale Grill & Tap is chill, but definitely has a "Scottsdale" feel to it - older crowd, a bit more sophisticated. The Tempe Brewery is a chill college hang out. The place is huge too - lots of seating room. The waitress we had was great - she knew her beer, which was appreciated.

We had lunch while we were there - the food was excellent. Between Fish & Chips, a Lamp Pita, Fried Chicken and Waffles and a Burger, we were well fed! Their Leroy Brown Ale was the seasonal draft - a very tasty brew, that could easily be a session beer (only 4.9% ABV). Some of the merchandise was on sale, so picked up some pint glasses for only $3.25 each (down from $5, I think). Also, picked up a 12 pack of their Kiltlifter Scotch Ale in cans...awesome.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Cheers to you, Uncle Sam!

Another April 15th has finally come and I managed again to avoid kissing a bus to soothe the madness that is my life at this point. Every year I get a nice bomber of beer that I crack open once the final return is signed and extension check dropped off. This year, Quarters had just received a bunch of new Rogue beers, including the Rogue John John Ale, which is Dead Guy Ale that has been aging (gracefully) in Dead Guy Whiskey barrels.

Appearance - Lightly opaque amber; with a sturdy white, frothy head. 3.0/5.0

Smell - Hmmm...whiskey. Malt is subdued and slightly sweet. I would have preferred a strong aroma. 3.5/5.0

Taste - Gotta say it again...hmmm...whiskey. Oaky, with a tasty, toasty sweetiness near the middle of the taste. Finishes off as you would expect a sip of quality whiskey would, with a hint of vanilla and caramel. Flavors are balanced and not overly strong. - 4.0/5.0

Feel - Smooth, full aftertaste. Lacks the syrupy quality that I've seen in bourbon beers, but that's ok, this one works. - 4.0/5.0

Drinkability - This is an amazing harmony of a spirit and beer, would definitely get this one again. 4.0/5.0

Monday, April 12, 2010

Either it's going to blow, or be an explosion of taste....

I will give Full Sail some serious credit for a cool name - Vesuvius has a lot of "uumph" behind it...not just liquid hot "magma". The Full Sail Vesuvius Belgian Style Golden Ale comes in a 22 oz bomber, which is priced at a bargin at $3.99. I've been on a dark beer kick lately, so having something more on the lighter end of the spectrum was very welcome.

Appearance - light white head, bubbly, golden, slight cloudiness, very little lacing - 3.5

Smell - definitely belgian; coriander, lemon, sweet and a bit funky - 2.5

Taste - Oddly mellow, malt is the high point and the belgian spices are pretty subdued. Tart apple, clove and banana flavors, but pretty mild. - 3.5

Feel - a bit syrupy, good mellow mouth coating, sweeter finish actually like how it feels. - 4.0

Drinkability - for $3.99, it sure wasn't bad. Maybe not a regular brew, but something I would have again if offered - 3.5

Friday, April 2, 2010

Three Philosophers not named Moe, Larry & Curly

This corked bottle looked particularly interesting as Tina took me on a little beer shopping spree at Jubliation for my birthday this past weekend. Did I tell you it was my birthday on the 28th? If you feel bad about not knowing, I'd be happy to accept some delicious beers as an apology. But birthday side the point, the Ommegang Three Philosophers Belgian Style Blend is a pretty potent beer, weighing in at 9.8% ABV (a fact that was not noticed until I uncorked this sucker). Another interesting facet of this beer is the fact that it has 2% cherry ale blended into it.

Appearance - A really foamy, light almond head starts off the beer and sticks around the side of the glass for a good few minutes. The beer itself is a dark amber color, opaque in the lower 4.0/5.0

Smell - A sweet malt aroma is the key scent of this brew. True to the ingredients in it, you can get some tart cherry in the nose. 3.5/5.0

Taste - Definitely a Belgian beer with all of the spices that I would expected in a Dubbel/Trippel/Quadrepel beer, but the tart and mildly sweet cherry flavor (which isn't overpowering - you're not drinking a cider here) adds a very different spin. It subdues the normal spiciness of the Belgian beer, then adds a level of tartness that finishes off each taste. While highly alcoholic, you can't taste it... 4.0/5.0

Feel - Smooth at the beginning and end, but really sharp flavor in the middle. Finishes clean and doesn't have really anything to speak of for an aftertaste. - 4.0/5.0

Drinkability - While an interesting beer, not quite my type of beer. - 3.0/5.0

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Imperial Series - Bring You Beers That Will Knock You Into Next Week

The Imperial Series from Samuel Adams came out a while ago and I've watched them from afar. 4 beers for $10 is daunting to me - so, haven't really jumped on board. However, this past weekend was a special occasion, so decided to splurge for the Imperial Stout. They also offered a Double White and a Double Bock.

Appearance - Mocha head - foamy at first, then fades out and spotty at the end. Not all that carbonated, and the beer itself is really black. 4.0/5.0
Smell - Alcoholic malt, roasted coffee, dark chocolate. However, not all that potent, which I would have expected more of in this type of beer. 3.0/5.0
Taste - Molasses, malt, tart fruit, alcohol near the middle of each taste, bitter coffee. 4.5/5.0
Feel - Remarkably smooth, leaves very little aftertaste. Thicker, fuller body. 4.0/5.0

Drinkability - Glad I tried it - for the price, I'd probably look at a different imperial stout, only since $10/4 pack is a bit on the steep end. 3.5/5.0

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Lobos Helping Lobos with a Fine Porter

Hopefully everyone had a great St. Patty's Day - some friends and I went over to Fat Squirrel and listened a bunch of wannabe Irishmen slur like the best of them while we waited for a table. Guinness and Smithwick's were enjoyed and I has an awesome Irish stew in a bowl the size of my head. Tonight, I'm waiting for the Lobo game to show up and am enjoying a Samuel Smith's Taddy Porter. Had this at the aforementioned Fat Squirrel once, but didn't have a chance to review....soo....here it is:

Appearance - 4.5/5.0 - Toasted almond, foamy head. The beer itself looks thick, black and rich.

Smell - 3.5/5.0 - Lots of malt with some coffee and smoke, but not terribly strong.

Taste - 4.5/5.0 - Rich flavor - the smoky malt is the highlight. There's some sweetness at the end of each taste, which balances out the coffee and smoke. A great example of a porter.

Feel - 4.5/5.0 - Smooth, some creaminess to the feel. The aftertaste is sweet and is only around enough to notice, then off it goes. It's not nearly as thick as it looks, but that's ok - I enjoyed the "lighter" body.

Drinkability - 5.0/5.0 - A great beer, definitely one that can go down quick and smooth. At 5% ABV, wouldn't get you in trouble either.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Chile Beer? seriously?

I love spicy foods - give me something that will nuke my mouth and make it inhabitable for years to come, and you've got one happy man. Tina, my beer muse, stopped by Sunflower Market last night and got this dandy six pack, Sierra Blanca's Rio Grande Pancho Verde Chile Cerveza. I was curious about what other folks thought of this beer and on Beer Advocate, it's mostly negative...probably because almost all of the reviews were from East Coast people, who don't "get" chile and its addictive properties. I don't get them either, so it's all good. Anyway, I think this is a beer that New Mexicans (or neighboring areas) will appreciate - may not be everyone's "thing" but if you're a chile-head, give this one a try.

Appearance - 3.0/5.0 - A light lager beer, with a reddish tint to it. Very wispy head, sorta disappointing in that regard.

Smell - 5.0/5.0 - Wow, it does indeed smell of green chile. It's peppery, but not so where your nostrals burn. There is some sweetness too, I'd guess from the malt.

Taste - 4.0/5.0 - Peppery green chile taste. Smooth, crisp and I'd definitely call it "cerveza". Makes me think of fresh roasted chiles and NM. Some heat at the end, but only enough to give it a chile flavor, not chile heat.

Feel - 4.0/5.0 - Smooth, some chile aftertaste, but not all that much. Crisp tasting - would be awesome with some enchiladas or tacos.

Drinkability - 3.5/5.0 - I'd definitely have it again, but it would likely be with New Mexican food or in the summer.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


Tina and I watched a documentary on beer called "Beer Wars" tonight. There was a neat historical prospective on beer, Prohibition and then there was some sort of jump to "Corporate People Are Real A-Holes." Also, there was a shot of "If you sell out, you're a real sucker and not true to your roots." A number of entrepreneurs I know tend to get something going, make it successful and sell it...so they can move on to a new adventure. The founder of Dogfish Head was in the deal a lot - he's definitely an adventurous beer guy, but I gotta say - get off the soapbox. Instead of being "Oh, woe is me - big beer keeps us out of Wal-Mart.", focus on just making awesome beer. Whatever, this isn't a soap box - but a BEER FRIDGE!!!

Tina and I really enjoyed the Santa Fe Brewing 20th Anniversary Imperial Penn Porter, so I picked up a bottle of the Yippee! Imperial IPA. I had high hopes, since we really enjoyed the Imperial Penn Porter. Fortunately, I was happily pleased with this offering from Santa Fe.

Appearance - Foamy tannish head; amber coloring. Pretty standard for an IPA. 3.0/5.0

Smell - There are some piney hops, but more malty and alcohol than I would have expected. 3.5/5.0

Taste - Very well blended hop flavor. Piney, citrus, grapefruit, sweetness, malt. Not overly strong, but notable flavors. Not as bitter as I would have expected either. My wife, who isn't an IPA fan, said the sips she had were nice - that's saying something. 4.5/5.0

Feel - Thickness, almost a syrupy feel to it. the lack of bitterness that I have come to appreciate in IPAs is a downgrade, but at the same time, the beer felt good and the flavors stick around a lot. 4.0/5.0

Drinkability - It's one of the better Imperial IPAs that I've tried. given it's a limited run, not sure how often I'll get this, but would definitely do it again. 4.5/5.0

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Imperial Penn (Porter)

Santa Fe Brewing is a common find at most local grocery stores and liquor shops. Good stuff, my particular favorite is the State Penn Porter. For their 20th anniversary, Santa Fe Brewing created three very interesting potent beers - the State Penn Imperial Porter, the Imperial Yippee IPA and the Sangre de Frambuesa Raspberry Belgian. Tonight, we'll talk about the Imperial Porter and later we'll get to the Yippee IPA. I gotta tell ya, I expected this beer to be good and I was definitely not disappointed. In fact, my lovely bride, Tina, talked me into going out and grabbing another one of these from ol' Quarters. They are on sale at most liquor stores for only $6.99 a bomber.

Appearance - A rich, smooth black brew. A mocha colored, foamy head tops the beer, which also has a really appealing, rich "bubbly" look. The head doesn't dissipate and is just pretty to look at- 5.0/5.0

Smell - Lots of coffee and dark cocoa in the nose. Enough aroma to enjoy, but not too much to overpower. 4.0/5.0

Taste - Wow! Rich, powerful flavor. Coffee, dark chocolate, some alcohol, woody flavors. Some bitterness too, but enjoyable 4.5/5.0

Feel - Thick and coats the mouth. 4.0/5.0

Drinkability - Well, let's put it this way - we went out and bought another one. 5.0/5.0

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Ranger Danger!

Well, actually not. Due to a complete lack of creativity, the term "stranger danger" was in my head and stranger rhymes with danger...so, there you have it. Today's sampling is definitely not something you should run away from as if it was some crazed madman that you'd find in some horror flick where common sense doesn't exist. The New Belgium Ranger IPA is a new addition to New Belgium's line of beers and I think their first offering that they have marketed as an IPA. This beer is tasty, but lacks some of the qualities that I have come to expect and love in IPAs. I think if you want to put your toe into the IPA pool, this could be a way to introduce someone to this type of beer.

Appearance - Lighter than a number of IPAs I have seen, but a lovely frothy white head. The bubbles are very inviting, but not so many as to make you think this beer is going to fill ya up. 4.0/5.0

Smell - Like standing in the middle of a forest, there's some definite pine in the aroma of this beer. The hops are nice and pronounced, but not so sharp as to offend (well, I love hops, so not sure that would happen). 4.0/5.0

Taste - The citrus hop flavor is far more blended and subdued than I would have expected. The bitterness is lighter than I usually like, but it's not bad. Like some other reviews I have seen about this beer, I would probably call it a pale ale, rather than an IPA. I expect a lot of boldness in an IPA and this beer just didn't deliver that. - 3.0/5.0

Feel - Smooth, with a great mouth coverage. The aftertaste is a bit sour, but doesn't stick around very much, unlike the hop taste which does hang with you for a while. - 4.0/5.0

Drinkability - As an IPA, probably not. I have a large list of IPAs that I would have on a regular basis. This beer's similarity to a pale ale would put in consideration if I wanted that, but alas - I'll just stick with an IPA. On that note, this isn't a bad beer - just more of a pale ale. 3.0/5.0

Friday, February 19, 2010

Well, I've been up a creek without a paddle before, but not this one

Fortunately, this beer doesn't have the same...outcome as it's sister creek. I've had a few experiences with SC, all of which end very very poorly. Tina has seen the Grand Teton Brewing Bitch Creek ESB at BevMo! a number of times, each time accompanied with a laugh. I haven't had many ESBs - Redhook comes to mind first, and tried one over at Marble the other day. They are tasty beers, but it doesn't seem like most breweries want to venture into actually making one.

Appearance - Lighter head, but a thick looking auburn hue. Darker than the other ESBs I have had. 3.0/5.0
Smell -Malt, caramel, toffee - 3.5/5.0
Taste - Sharp malt, caramel, nuts, bit of sourness at the end. I detect a bit of earthy chocolate flavor, plus some fruitiness that balances well with the malt and hops. 4.0/5.0
Feel - Thick with great mouth coverage. The flavors roll through your mouth as it goes down. 4.0/5.0
Drinkability - I'd have this one again for sure - just be careful as its 6.5% ABV will not make it a session beer. But if you've had a hard day at the office, this one will feel real nice going down. - 4.5/5.0

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Nothing tastes better after 13.2 miles than beer

Congrats to my lovely wife for finishing The Arizona (Half) Marathon today! She did some serious training, including a 12 mile run from Tramway & Montgomery to Saggio's by UNM (yikes!). I did my fair share of training, but mine involved testing the limts of my taste buds when it comes to good beer.

So, I did some arm curls with the Rogue Hazelnut Brown over at the Yard House at Scottsdale Fashion Square. I didn't notice this beer at first, with the initial beer being a Green Flash West Coast IPA. I really had trouble with the 2nd beer, but after combing through the beer list (which upon counting was 119 draft beers), I noticed I completely skipped over the Hazelnut Brown - shame on me, as it was a very tasty brew (like most of what I have out of the Rogue Brewery)

Appearance - An oddly semi-translucent brown with a fine tan head - 3.5/5.0
Smell - Very mild with nuttiness and malt. From what I understand, this is a fragrant beer, but that wasn't the case with the one I picked up. 2.5/5.0
Taste - A rich, bold flavor with some (obviously) hazelnut and chocolate. There's some smoky nutty malt as well. You can get some sweetness out of this, but just a hint. 4.5/5.0
Feel - Silky, with a little crispness at the end. Definitely lighter bodied than I expected. 3.5/5.0
Drinkability - Loved the beer, but would have loved to had more detectable aromas. 4.0/5.0

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Ah, crap...my hops got all wet.

Hops are American to me - pretty much as American as a white picket fence, a picturesque green lawn and a blue American made car.

The big white frothy head tops a nice copper beer. Love the hop smell, which is really powerful and fragrant. Sorta like you stuck your nose in a bag of piney and citrusy hops. So tasty. Deliciously hoppy, there is a hint of sour and sweet at the end. The flavor isn't terribly bitter, but definitely characteristic of an IPA. The sourness covers your mouth and dissipates after a bit. Not terribly carbonated, so isn't filling. It's a thicker beer than I expected, which I don't mind. Would pick this one up again, as it's a solid IPA.

Appearance - 3.5/5.0 - White frothy head, copper color
Smell - 5.0/5.0 - Lots and lots of citrusy and piney hops
Taste - 3.5/5.0 - Sour, hoppy, strong flavor. Aftertaste isn't terribly strong, but tasty.
Feel - 4.0/5.0 - Thicker than expected, but the flavor fills your mouth.
Drinkability - 4.0/5.0 - Would pick up again, a nice representation of an IPA

Saturday, January 30, 2010

This beer really did a number of me, I'll all Black & Blue

Like most trips to Phoenix, I usually hit up BevMo! and pick up some fun stuff for while we're there and some to take home. This last trip was New Years, so we picked up the obligatory New Years supply. The Dogfish Head Black & Blue was part of that stash, but didn't end up getting opened, so it got deported to New Mexico. Tina and I tried this the other night and had a nice little tasting.

As you can see in the picture, this pours a really beautiful amber/nectar color, looking very rich and proper like the guy on the label. Even with the light head, this is thick beer. The lacing is light and drops pretty quick. There is sweetness to the aroma - mostly subtle berries. The flavor is unique - there is a thick, crispy malt taste combined with a tart sweetness from the berries utilized in the beer. Expect the beer to hit hard at first, then blend itself in the background. No hint of alcohol on this, which was unexpected for a 10% ABV brew. There is great mouth coverage and heavier body to this one, with crispy carbonation. I really enjoyed this beer, even though it's not one I'd get often, it was fun for a special occasion (or just to enjoy once in a blue moon).

Appearance - 4.5/5.0 - Amber nectar color, looks rich and thick, light head, lacing is light and drops fast
Smell - 3.5/5.0 - Sweetness, berries, but a bit subtle
Taste - 4.0/5.0 - Thick crispy malt, tart sweetness, cidery, hit of flavor up front - different but flavorful, no hint of alcohol for a 10% beer
Feel - 4.5/5.0 - Definite thickness, great mouth coverage, crisp carbonation
Drinkability -3.5/5.0 - Very good, but not one you have all the time - fun for special occasions

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Dear Noble sir, I have a beer for you

I was a bit disappointed when I heard from the Albuquerque Beer Geek that the White Ale had been replaced as Samuel Adams' spring offering. It has a special place in my heart, as I remember a very relaxing St. Patrick's Day in Phoenix a few years ago where I enjoyed some Sammy White Ale in between tax deadlines (yes...I live my life in terms of tax deadlines...and yes, I realize I need help for it, but I haven't found some Tax Guy Anonymous group yet.) Anyway, the White Ale's replacement is the Noble Pils...does it measure up? It does keep the color scheme of its predecessor if anything.

This Pilsner is a bubbly light pale color with a iffy white head. I don't know why, but carbonation bubbles really draw me into a beer. The beer smells hoppy - not IPA hoppy, but crispy hoppy. The flavor is sharp like you'd expect from a good pilsner, which is further enhanced by the five hops...(and as the ABQ Beer Geek mentioned, there are only 4 noble hops...which now I wonder where the 5th came from). I like the hint of bitterness that you get, but it's quick if you're not a fan of bitterness. There's a real cleaniness to the beer, which is reflected by its crispness. Smooth going down too and I think it would work with a mixed crowd. This brew is a good replacement for the White Ale, and definitely a beer I'll be picking up again.

Appearance - 4.0/5.0 - A sexy bubbly pale yellow, lots of bubbles and a light white head.
Smell - 3.0/5.0 - There's some hops, but not IPA level of hops.
Taste - 4.0/5.0 - Crisp hops, some bitterness, but just enough to add some flavor
Feel -4.0/5.0 - Clean, smooth and refreshing
Drinkability - 4.5/5.0 - Certainly would have again. Will miss the White Ale, but this is a fine substitute

Friday, January 22, 2010

What is the chair attached to?

I had to do some research, because I couldn't figure out what was up with the red chair on the label. Apparently, the beer is named after the oldest operating chair lift on Mt. Bachelor. So, it's a ski lift. Much more sense now.

Pouring a pale amber with a pretty foamy almond head, the Red Chair IPA from Deschutes Brewery is mouth watering to look at. There's a really nice hit of piney hops when you take a whiff of the beer. Those hops are really potent and sour, but sweetness from the malt balances it out very nicely. Makes for a very favorable IPA that isn't just a bunch of pungent hops. There is some bitterness, but nothing that will pucker your face up. Definitely good mouth coverage, as light sourness sticks around. Light carbonation gives it a nice thickness and a medium body. Smooth going down.

Appearance - 4.0/5.0 - Pale amber, foamy almond head. got my mouth watering
Smell -3.5/5.0 - Piney hops with some sourness
Taste - 4.0/5.0 - Sour hops blend well with lightly sweet malt; very favorable
Feel - 3.5/5.0 - Light carbonation, medium body, some thickness
Drinkability - 3.0/5.0 - Very enjoyable, but not my favorite IPA. Wouldn't go out of my way to get it again.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Wow, a beer I really...really didn't care for.

The Lips of Faith series that New Belgium puts out is, from my understanding, a very enjoyable line of beers from a pretty reliably good brewery. This beer, the La Folie Sour Brown Ale does not reflect this beer.

The beer's coloring looks really nice - it's a dark red with absolutely nothing for a head. A very potent sourness and vinegar as you take a sniff, which is expected given it's a sour brown ale. Where I have a real problem with the beer is the taste. To be completely honest, the beer tastes like I drank some funky cough syrup, then upchucked a bit in mouth...but kept it in, so ended up tasting the stomach acid again on the way down. I can't just get past that. I took a few more sips and picked up some sour apple & cherry, but not enough to redeem this beer. The vinegar flavor comes up again in the aftertaste...

I couldn't finish the whole bomber, which is sad given the price - $13 bucks a bomber! EPIC FAIL by New Belgium
Appearance - 3.5/5.0 - A pretty dark red with nada for head
Smell - 2.5/5.0 - Oy...vinegar and pungent sourness.
Taste - 2.5/5.0 - GAG...sour, vinegar, cough syrup, stomach acid, sour apple & cherry
Feel - 1.5/5.0 - It certainly sticks with you...
Drinkability - 1.0/5.0 - No way Jose. This is definitely an acquired taste.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Tonight seemed like a good night to get ruined

Not that type of ruined, more like the Stone Ruination IPA. I taught class tonight and after a long day and having to talk for 4 hours, beer was a good idea to close out the night.

This IPA is lighter than I expected, almost the color of a hefeweizen. Not as cloudy, obviously as a hefe, but still pretty opaque. Head didn't stick around much, leaving being spotty clouds at the top of the beer and a little filmy residue as you drink the beer. Lovely floral, piney hops that offer enough scent to be inviting without being terribly overwhelming. For being a Stone beer, I really did expect a more robust taste. This brew is surprisingly subtle and blended. The sourness of the hops is blended in with some yeast that really does change the flavor of the beer from what you'd expect out of an average IPA. I think that it brings out a very fleeting moment of hoppy sweetness near the end of each taste.

I have to disagree with the bottle which describes the hops as "binding and blinding" that will have a "ruinous effect on your palate." While this was a very enjoyable beer, this isn't so blatantly hoppy that I want to cut my tongue out to regain some sembleness of taste. It really didn't taste THAT bitter, especially for being 100+ IBUs. Perhaps I have abused my mouth with so many IPAs that it takes a really REALLY intense hoppy beer to knock me out of my chair. I like that though, as it takes more skill to make a beer so infused with hops, but not so bitter that you can't drink it.

There is definitely smoothness to the beer, with distinct flavor and hops. If you enjoy hops, you'll really enjoy this beer. It's a sneaky bugger, with a 7.7% ABV, so just don't partake in too many of these.

Appearance - 3.5/5.0 - Golden, opaque, minimal head with lots of lacing
Smell - 4.5/5.0 - A tastefully blended mix of hops that are obvious but not overpowering
Taste - 4.5/5.0 - Smooth, hoppy with bitterness, but not enough to make it tough to drink.
Feel -5.0/5.0 - Silky, feel it all over the tongue, aftertaste is a nice lingering bitterness
Drinkability -5.0/5.0 - an excellent double IPA!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Mooove over, I want another beer.

Based on the label of this beer, there could be a serious issue of bovine domestic abuse. Look at all of those hand prints... Anyway, whatever was being done to the cow by Left Hand Brewing Company, not my business, so long as the beer comes out good.

The Left Hand Milk Stout is pretty dark - as if milked straight from a black beer-cow. The tan head makes a brief appearance then disappears into nothingness, although it does leave a residue on your glass. Lots of mocha in the nose of this one, plus roasted malt and dark chocolate. The coffee stands out as the strongest taste - very sharp, roasty goodness. There is some sweetness from the chocolate, but not terribly much. I prefer milk stouts that are a bit more subtle, so good job Left Hand. The aftertaste is primarily light malt, almost like a chocolate malt shake. A sturdy, medium bodied beer and not very carbonated. I would definitely recommend this beer, especially you want to try something that isn't sweet, but has a hint of lighter flavor to offset the potent coffee. Only a 5.2% ABV, so you could easily enjoy a few of these without getting sloppy.

Appearance - 3.5/5.0 - Milked straight from the black cow; but the head was disappointing
Smell - 4.5/5.0 - Lots of coffee, mocha and chocolate.
Taste -4.0/5.0 - Strong flavor, but not overpowering. Coffee is the biggest flavor, with chocolate coming up second.
Feel - 3.5/5.0 - Flavors fill your mouth with a light malt aftertaste.
Drinkability - 4.0/5.0 - a solid milk stout, good for mixed company and for those who want a less "robust" stout