Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Pizza Port Sharkbite Red Ale

Here's a red ale from one of my favorite breweries, Pizza Port in Carlsbad, California. This was my one lone bottle of this beer...but I really wish I had more!!

12oz bottle with an attractive label. Pours from the stubby bottle a nice deep amber red color with a creamy off white head on top. The top of the glass is deep red and the hue lightens towards the bottom. Nice. Aromas of rich caramelly, biscuity, slighty nutty malts collide head on with a bounty of grapefruity, citrusy hop tones. The aromas are nicely balanced and quite inviting.

First sip brings a forward biscuit/caramel maltiness that is reminiscent of fresh baked bread. There's a nice underlying current of citrusy hops that are vibrant in the flavor..maybe even a touch of pine. The finish brings only the slightest bitterness with a lingering biscuity/doughy flavor on the palate and a touch of nuttiness. A lovingly balanced mix of hops and malt here that is quite tasty and enjoyable...it's hard to put down the glass.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied with a really nice creamy aspect that hits every corner of the mouth....almost silky. Goes down so easy and smooth this is a sessioner without a doubt. I can see why this is one of the flagship brews at Pizza Port as it's highly drinkable and easily approachable to those new to the craft beer scene as well. I wish I had easier access to this as it'd make a great everyday drinking brew. A nice, hoppy red that maintains its balance..well worth seeking out if you can find it.

Overall I gave this brew a 4.1 out of 5...seek it out!

Check out what's brewing at Pizza Port at www.pizzaport.com

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Fantome Black Ghost

Thanks to everyone who came out for the Suburban Chicago BA Gathering at Lunar Brewing. I had a great time chatting with everyone and enjoying some good brews! I hope everyone's long weekend was good...I decided to end mine with a bottle of Fantome Black Ghost:


Today has been a dark, dreary rainy day. The dark grey skies seemed to be the best indication that I should break out the bottle of Black Ghost that has been sitting in my fridge. It pours a deep, murky, swampy black with a wonderful creamy billowing two finger tan foamy head that has great staying power. Dark brown accents shoot out of the edges of my glass. Aromas of dark roasted, burnt grains mingle with notes of dark cherry and fruit. Rotting vegetation and a funky aromatic earthy yeast culling barnyard tones enter with an underlying floral nose. Like a compost heap accentuated by an unknown mix of spices and a touch of sourness. Menacingly complex, each inhalation brings a new sensation and new images to mind.

First sip brings a roasty, dark maltiness with a touch of cocoa along with a big wall of floral and rotting vegetation flavors. Incredibly earthy with a dense spiciness and some underlying sourness. I think I can pick out some cinammon, cardamom and anise - but it's really a unique mix of tantalizing flavors. There's a mellow barnyard funkiness but it takes a back seat to the spiciness of the brew. Spent firewood from the night before. Each sip is a new experience. Finishes clean with a lingering earthy cocoa. An incredibly complex, enjoyable brew.

Mouthfeel is fairly light and arid with a sturdy carbonation. It's hard to even put the glass down here. I find this very drinakable and the 750ml bottle will make for a perfect end to the evening. If you're a Fantome fan, this is well worth seeking out. Another undoubtedly unique experience from Dany. Long live the friendly Fantome!

Overall I gave the Fantome a 4.4 out of 5.

Check out what Dany is brewing up at www.fantome.be

Friday, November 25, 2005

Angel City Vitzen


Pours from the bomber a nice golden yellow with a faint hint of orange and a bubbly white head that's light and airy. Aromas of sweet pale grains and wheat initially along with a big peppery, clove spiciness with an underlying hint of light fruit...banana. Quite enjoyable with a fresh, aromatic spicy nose.

First sip brings a grainy pale, wheaty maltiness that explodes across the tongue with lots of tiny bubbly carbonation. Peppery spiciness comes in midway through along with a hint of clove..but it seems much more muted than the nose led on. A hint of lemon zest and a light banana round this out with an astringent aftertaste. On a whole I found this quite underwhelming for the style...seems like a watered down hefeweizen that comes off more like a spicy American wheat.

Mouthfeel is smooth and slighty creamy with aggressive carbonation. It manages to go down smooth and is somewhat refreshing. Overall, just boring for a hefe and not one I will be seeking out again anytime soon. I honestly can't say I'd recommend this as there are far too many better options....choose wisely.

Overall I gave this beer 3.05 out of 5.

Check out Angel City brewing at www.angelcitybrewing.com

Buckeye Brewing Hippie IPA

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!! Hope you all had a great day with lots of good food and hopefully some good brews as well. I had fun drinking some great brews with my dad and brothers..including Dark Lord, Stone Old Guardian '05 and Southampton Biere De Garde. I also had the pleasure of sampling some Jones Soda Turkey & Gravy, Wild Herb Stuffing, Pumpkin Pie and Cranberry sodas...interesting to say the least. Now onto my newest hoppy beer:

The Hippie IPA pours from the bomber a nice deep amber orange color with a fluffy, creamy half inch of head that persists atop the brew. Aromas of sweet caramel and crystal malts collide with a robust citrusy, grapefruity hop presence that also brings along a bit of a floral, piney aroma. A bit earthy as well. Nice.

First sip brings a crystal, caramelly slightly chalky maltiness along with a bitter wall of citric, grapefruity earthy hops. The bitterness runs across the entire palate as the brew finishes with a bread dough aftertaste. Hoppy throughout...this is a big earthy, citric IPA that seems to be a bit one sided with the bitterness. I was expecting a bit more out of this one.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied with a big burst of carbonation that flows all over the mouth. Fairly easy to consume with lingering hoppy bitterness after each sip. The flavor seems a bit muddled, otherwise I think this would be a real winner. Picked this up in Dayton, OH...worth a try but not worth going out of your way for.

Overall I gave this beer 3.65 out of 5....not a bad brew.

Care to see what else Buckeye Brewing has to offer? Check out www.buckeyebrewing.com

Monday, November 21, 2005

Great Divide Old Ruffian Barley Wine Style Ale

The bottle in front of me is a 22oz. "bomber" of 10.2% abv barleywine. It's called a barleywine due to the fact that it is brewed to the alcohol content more common in wine than in the world of beer. Almost always big with chewy malts predominently. This is an American style barleywine, which are generally characterized as having a big hop profile..many times citrusy or piney. The English style barleywines tend to focus more on the malt flavors with more dark fruity tones. Let's see how Great Divide holds up:



The Old Ruffian pours from the bottle a wickedly thick and syrupy dark reddish brown with a nice sticky khaki head that lingers on nicely. Aromas smack you in the face from the minute the brew is poured. Incredibly rich, big caramel malts hit upfront with mixed fruity notes all over with a touch of raisin. Resinous, piney, somewhat citric hops are in full force as well as puffs of alcohol. Simply a wonderful attack on the senses here and a good sign of things to come.

First sip brings starts with a massive thick caramel fruity maltiness that is fairly sweet. However...as the brew reaches the back of the tongue you're assaulted by a shockwave of piney, resinous hop bitterness that lingers on after each gulp. Raisins and dark fruits are well integrated as well as a faint bready flavor. This is definetly a hoppy barleywine but it remains quite nicely balanced throughout. A tasty treat.

Mouthfeel is freakin spot on. So full, big and creamy..it grabs on and does not let go...all the while being extremely drinkable at the same time. So tasty that it's hard for me to set my glass down. I wouldn't mind have another bomber on hand to cellar. A very nice barleywine that I wish I had access to locally, as I get the rest of the Great Divide line. Picked this up on a trip down to Kentucky.

Overall I gave this beer a 4.35 out of 5.

Want to know what other beers Great Divide offers? Check out www.greatdivide.com

Friday, November 18, 2005

B.B. Bürgerbräu


Pours from the 16.9oz brown bottle a nice golden orange color with an arid bubbly white head on top that falls to a quarter inch and lingers on. Aromas of crisp sweet cereal grains mixing with a mellow caramel tone and a heavy helping of grassy, spicy, herbal hops. Really quite nice with very little skunkiness to speak of. Refined.

First sip brings a nice sweet, pale, toasted grainy maltiness upfront. Splashed with caramel it comes across very clean. Midway through there's a nice grassy, herbal hoppiness that also lends a bit of spiciness to the flavor and only a touch of bitterness. A bit bready on the way down...overall this is a very nice Czech Pilsener. Well built and refreshing with no off flavors to speak of.

Mouthfeel is smooth and creamy with a medium body. Really easy to drink and quite tasty. Definetly one of the better examples of the style I have yet to try. I could see this going nicely on a hot summer day out by the pool. Well worth looking into!

Overall rating I gave this beer is 3.9 out of 5.

Check out what's brewing at Mestansky Pivovar, A.S. at www.hbrebel.cz

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Vintage 2001 - Rogue Imperial Stout


Ahhh...there's nothing like a nicely cellared brew on a cold night. I have enjoyed cellaring beers in my basement for awhile now and have had many good results. This bottle of Rogue Imperial Stout was bottled in 2001 and has aged beautifully in the 4 years since it was brewed.....

Vintage 2001. 12oz XS series bottle. Pours into my SN tulip glass an extremely thick, viscous dark crude oil black with a rising extremely deep tan head that leaves spotty lacing everywhere. Like a black hole..this beer envelopes light. Simply fantastic. Aromas of deep, rich dark chocolate malts erupt with vinous sherry-like scents as well. Notes of bitter coffee, vanilla and burnt malts mix with a citrus hop background that is still noticeable after 4 years in the bottle. I'm not getting any off aromas at all. The anticipation builds...



First sip brings a slick dark roasted maltiness with a big blast of chocolate flavors. Light swirls of bitter coffee along with a vinous and sherry notes backed by mellow alcohol tones. The sweet toasted malts hit initially, followed by a nice bitterness comprised of mellow citrusy, herbal hops. Toasted marshmallow comes to mind on the way down. Big, bountiful and damn good. Quite the impressive Russian Imperial Stout.

Mouthfeel is big, thick and creamy with a smoothed out carbonation that allows it to flow down very easily. At 10.5% the abv is very well hidden and makes it easy for you to get ahead of yourself while drinking it. I would gladly drink another if given the opportunity..but at this abv it's really more of an occasional treat. Truly one of the best imperial stouts around. I'm glad I have a 2003 waiting paitently for me in the cellar. Rogue...please bring back the 12oz XS bottles, please??

Overall rating I gave this beer is an impressive 4.5 out of 5.

Learn everything you'd ever want to know about Rogue Ales at www.rogue.com

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

New Glarus Unplugged Sour Brown Ale


This New Glarus beer comes from brewmaster Dan Cary's Unplugged line. These are small batches Dan brews occasionally that they make no promise to ever brew again. Distribution is limited to the state of Wisconsin, making these beers fairly hard to come by. The Sour Brown Ale is brewed in the Flanders Oud Bruin style, which originated in the Flanders region of Belgium. They are normally characterized by a tart/sour fruity malt flavor, many with evident cherry flavors. Many are brewed on oak or in oak barrels and may be spontaneously fermented by wild yeast and bacteria. Let's see how the New Glarus Unplugged Sour Brown fares:

The New Glarus Sour Brown pours from the bottle a cloudy reddish brown with a small tan head that falls to a ring around the glass fairly quickly. A bit murky. Aromas initially of sour cherries and rotten apples with a caramel sweetness. Notes of wood mix with a slight vinegar funkiness. A little more subdued than I was expecting really..but still quite nice.

First sip brings a sweet musty, woody caramel maltiness upfront. Sour cherries, grapes and rotten green apples show up again with a nice acidic tartness that pulls on the side of the mouth. More woody, vinegar flavors follow through on the way down. There's a big battle here between the sweet, syrupy aspect of the beer and the acidic tartness. Definetly a unique, intersting brew here..but the syrupy aspect just takes it down a notch for me.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied and with a nice blast of carbonation Goes down smooth and it's actually pretty easy to drink. However, it's not something I could see myself wanting more than one of in a sitting. If you have access to New Glarus I'd give it a try...but I wouldn't tell ya to go out of your way to get it.

Overall rating I gave this beer is 3.55 out of 5.

Check out what's brewing at New Glarus at www.newglarusbrewing.com

Monday, November 14, 2005

Bell's Kalamazoo Stout


Today I've decided to sample one of my favorite styles of beer..the stout. A dark brew that is known for having a big roasted malt flavor, many times with chocolate, coffee and dark fruits as the forefront flavors. Let's see how Bell's Kalamazoo Stout holds up:

The Bell's Kalamazoo Stout pours from the bottle a deep, menacingly dark onyx black with a two finger head of creamy tan foam that doesn't seem to want to go away. No light dares to attempt to get through my glass. Aromas of liquified milk chocolate are the first thing I notice followed by a wonderful roastiness with hints of ground coffee beans and a touch of burnt bread. Rich, deep and decadant.

First sip brings strong rush of dark roasted, burnt maltiness that carries a subtle smokiness. Creamy milk chocolate collides with a somewhat bitter coffee flavor. A touch of hops is there on the way down. Slightly lactic with a lingering burnt taste that follows each sip. This does a nice job of balancing the sweet and bitter. A wonderfully full flavored stout that doesn't hold back. Very nice.

Mouthfeel is big and viscous, it fills the mouth and definetly has a nice chewiness. However at the same time it is incredibly drinkable and I find my glass emptying rather quickly. A great stout overall, from a brewery that seems to never miss with the style. Put the words Bell's and stout together on a brown bottle and you'll undoubtedly see a smile on my face. Well worth seeking out if you're a fan of the style.

Overall rating I gave this beer is 4.2 out of 5.

Check out all of the great Bell's beers at www.bellsbeer.com

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Goose Island Imperial IPA


Welcome to my first post of many to come covering everything I love about craft beer. Today I sampled a very tasty fresh bottle of Goose Island Imperial IPA:

Bottled on 11-3-05...cheers to Goose Island for super fresh beer and clear bottle dating! 9% abv per the label. Pours from the bottle a vibrant golden orange with hints of amber and a creamy bubbly inch of head that lingers atop the brew. Fresh, citric, grapefruity, piney, spicy hops attack my nostrils as I near the top of the glass. A sweet crystalline caramelly backdrop works its way in. Imagine standing in a field of various hop vines...grabbing cones, rubbing them between your fingers and inhaling the green, resiny aromas. I really enjoy the hop profile here as it begs me to take that first sip.

First sip brings a brash wall of herbally resinous, citrus, piney, spicy hops. A nice melding of hops that are quite green. Malts work their way in nicely with a caramel sweet, slightly bready flavor. I get a touch of cotton candy on the way down. Well balanced between sweet malts and hoppy bitterness. A really tasty DIPA that does not fail to impress me...in my stomach only a mere 10 days after it was bottled. Finishes clean with a mellow lingering hoppy bitterness that just makes you want to come back for more.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied with a good creaminess. I could see this being a little bit fuller in the mouthfeel but I'm just nit picking really. Steady carbonation is quite well placed. This brew goes down super easy and will delight any lover of the mighty hop. Brewed with Tettnang, Simcoe and Cascade per the label. I took Greg Hall's adivce and paired this with some gorgonzola which was quite a nice combination. This and the Bourbon County are my two favorites in the Reserve line so far...I'll be on the lookout for more. Well worth your time and effort to snag some of this. Kudos to everyone at Goose as well!

Overall rating I gave this beer is 4.35 out of 5.

Visit the fine people at Goose Island yourself at www.gooseisland.com