164. Ommegang

164. Ommegang

I decided I needed to use one of my new pieces of glassware for its intended beer. I picked up a four-pack of 12 oz. Ommegang bottles at Downtown Wine and Spirits. I served this chilled, but consumed over a time frame that allowed sufficient warming.

Ommegang is a Belgian Strong Dark Ale. Belgian Strong Dark Ales are typically high in alcohol, with spicy and fruity flavors. The amount of hop bitterness will vary.

Appearance (4.5): Pours a dark hazy brown with hints of maroon. A fluffy orange-brown head tops the beer, but recedes to a thin layer quickly. Head reemerges readily upon swirling.

Smell (4.5): Sweet malts and fruits. Notes of caramel and raisins, with tart cherry aromas arising upon agitation.

Taste (5.0): Sweet, bready malts dominate the front of the palate. Tart fruit and spices emerge in the center. Powdery yeast is evident in the finish with a light bitterness that provides a very nice balance. This is really delicious.

Mouthfeel (4.0): Tingly carbonation tickles the tip of the tongue. The beer is medium-bodied with a dry finish.

Drinkability (4.5): The delicious flavors keep me drinking, and the beer, though high alcohol, is easy to drink.

Overall (4.65): I absolutely love this beer. It's a nice balance of sweet, spicy and bitter.

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343. Sinebrychoff Porter

343. Sinebrychoff Porter

I picked this beer up at Columbia Deli & Market in NYC. The "Bottled in 1998" sticker caught my eye. I made the assumption that if the bottling date were being prominently advertised then the beer must age well. I let this warm up to about 55ºF, and served it in a small Kirin Beer glass. I had this with a slice of Three Berry pie from Cafe Lalo.

Sinebrychoff Porter is a Baltic Porter. As far as I know this is my first encounter with the style, though I could check my database to be sure. Baltic porters are typically higher in alcohol than other porters. According to BA these porters were brewed for shipping. The beer traditionally comes from countries bordering the Baltic Sea. BJCP Style Guide.

Appearance (4.0): Pours an opaque black with fluffy brown head that recedes to a thin layer.

Smell (4.0): The smell is predominantly sweet with notes of raspberries and raisins. There are also more subtle notes of chocolate and coffee.

Taste (4.5): Sweet flavors are evident at the front of the palate. These include raisins and caramel. There is a light tartness at the center of the palate, along with sweet and fruity flavors that carry over from the front. There are roasted bitter flavors of chocolate and coffee in the finish. Hop presence is low overall.

Mouthfeel (3.5): Mouthfeel is smooth and medium-bodied with low carbonation.

Drinkability (4.0): Very smooth and easy to drink.

Overall (4.15): This is a very nice and flavorful porter. I'd be interested in doing a side by side comparison with different vintages.

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342. Brooklyn Monster Ale

342. Brooklyn Monster Ale

I purchased two bottles of this at Downtown Wine and Spirits. This came in a brown 12 oz. bottle that said "This Monster Ale Was Born in 2005." I let this warm to 55ºF and served it in one of my new Ommegang chalices.

Monster Ale is an English Barley Wine. Barley Wines are one of the strongest varieties of beer. Monster Ale weighs in at 11% abv. Their flavors can range from fruity to hoppy.

Appearance (4.0): Pours a clear ruby-orange, with a thick beige head. The head thins to a ring, with sporadic lacing.

Smell (3.5): Sweet fruity malts, piney hops, and noticeable alcohol.

Taste (4.0): Sweet malts are evident first, followed by rich fruity flavors in the center. The finish is lightly bitter, dry and tart with alcoholic warmth.

Mouthfeel (4.5): Medium-bodied with moderate carbonation. Feels smooth and silky.

Drinkability (3.5): The flavors aren't too strong to drink a few of these, but the high alcohol may prevent you from doing so.

Overall (3.9): This is a nice strong sipping beer.

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Birthday Presents

My birthday was the 19th. Ali, the best girlfriend ever, bought me a bunch of beer related items. I got two Ommegang Chalices and two Duvel tulip glasses. She also bought me a copy of Brew Like a Monk by Stan Hieronymus. Thanks Ali!

The lab also bought me a cheapo extract homebrewing kit. Not high quality or anything, but it'll be good to make a batch and see how I like the whole homebrewing thing.

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341. La Folie

341. La Folie

New Belgium doesn't distribute to Massachusetts, so I had to order a bottle of this from Arctic Liquors. With mark-up ($10) and shipping ($14) it ended up costing me $40, $25 more than retail. New Belgium makes some fine beers, and I've heard good things about La Folie in particular, so I figured it was worth it.

This came in a 750 mL green corked champagne bottle. The label says "La Folie Wood Aged Beer" and has a picture of several barrels. The label also says "Hand Bottled" and had #05-2246 written in ball-point pen. Ali and I split the bottle on my birthday. I let it warm to approximately 50°F, and served it in my New Belgium snifters.

La Folie is a Flanders Red Ale, this style is also known as Flemish Sour Ale. The tart and sour flavors that these beers are known for are the result of fermentation by wild yeast such as Brettanomyces, and bacteria such as Lactobacillus. These beers are often aged in Oak barrels, which contain the souring bacteria. The aged beer is often blended with a young beer to provide balance. BJCP Style Guide.

Appearance (4.5): Pours a hazy-orange red with large yeast clumps evident. A thick off-white head thins to continuous layer, with nice lacing.

Smell (4.5): A sour smell predominates. There are also sweet aromas, notes of cherry (like a lambic), and a mild phenolic smell.

Taste (5): The upfront sweetness is quickly ovepowered by a strong acidic tartness. There are lambic like cherry flavors. The finish is dry.

Mouthfeel (4.0): Light-bodied with moderate carbonation. The dryness is mouth-filling.

Drinkability (3.5): La Folie is very tart and strong in flavors. This is a nice sipping beer, but not something to have pint after pint of.

Overall (4.55): This is a really amazing beer.

Beer related birthday gifts in an upcoming blog entry.

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150. Brooklyn Brown Ale

150. Brooklyn Brown Ale

I first had this beer at the Art of Beer Festival in May 2004. Ali and I picked up a six-pack at Downtown Wine and Spirits along with some other beers. We had this with dinner last night, a salad and black bean soup. We served the beer in standard pint glasses.

Brooklyn Brown is an American Brown Ale. This style is similar to the English Brown Ale style, although some American versions are hoppier.

Appearance (3.5): Pours a clear brown with ruby notes. There is a half-inch rocky heady that recedes to a thin layer. There is light lacing on the glass.

Smell (4.0): Sweet malts dominate, with notes of chocolate and coffee. Floral hop aromas are also evident.

Taste (4.0): Sweet malts are evident upfront, there are fruity notes in the center, with a light bitterness in the finish.

Mouthfeel (3.5): Light-bodied, smooth, with moderate-carbonation.

Drinkability (4.5): Flavorful, balanced and easy to drink.

Overall (3.9): This is a full-flavored brown ale. I like the bitterness that acts as a nice balance to the malts.

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340. Beamish Irish Stout

340. Beamish Irish Stout

I purchased a nitro-can four pack of Beamish Irish Stout at Downtown Wine and Spirits because Scottish & Newcastle is halting imports to America in order to concentrate on imports of Newcastle Brown Ale. I let this warm to about 45°F, and served it in a nonic pint glass. This is an Irish Dry Stout. Irish Dry Stouts tend to be light-bodied and low in carbonation.

Appearance (4.0): Pours a thick, dense, creamy beige head. There's a nice cascade effect as the beer settles to the bottom. The beer itself is opaque black.

Smell (2.5): The nose is fairly bland. There are sweet bready malts, very minor notes of dark chocolate, and an odd sharp smell. Mostly the sweet smell dominates.

Taste (3.0): There are sweet malts upfront, with a moderate roasted bitterness throughout.

Mouthfeel (2.0): Light-bodied and smooth with low carbonation. This beer is almost too watery for me.

Drinkability (3.5): Goes down smooth, but the relative lack of carbonation makes this beer seem a bit too flat.

Overall (3.05): Maybe I just don't like the style, but this beer seemed too thin, watery and devoid of character.

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My Beer Map

Tonight I made a database of my beer list. Aside from the beer number and beer name, fields include: brewery, style, alcohol by volume, and brewery location. Using his leet GIS skills my friend Bryan put together this map for me. Each contry or state is shaded based on the number of beers from that location I have sampled. Click on the map for a larger, readable version.

In the domestic category Massachusetts wins with 59 beers. Belgium wins the import category with 38 beers. Both of these make sense. Massachusetts is my state of residence, and I do most of my drinking there. My home state of Texas comes in second with 29 beers. Belgium makes sense given my penchant for Belgian Style Ales.

Coming soon (hopefully), a statistical analysis of my beer list.

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329-339. The Extreme Beer Fest

Last night Ali and I went to Beer Advocate's 3rd annual Extreme Beer Fest at the Boston Center for the Arts Cyclorama. The EBF focuses on "extreme" beers, which "push the boundaries of brewing and the palates of beer lovers." This includes beers that are insanely hoppy, very high in alcohol, and brewed with odd spices or fruits. The tickets were $20 each, and came with a 4 oz. sample cup, and five beer tickets. At the Art of Beer Festival you got ten tickets. I'm not sure if the reduction was due to the strength of the beers or due to an expense issue. Either way single beer tickets were $1 each so Ali and I bought six more. Food was provided by Sunset Grill and Tap. I had a pretty good sausage with sauteed peppers and onions served on a bun with sweet mustard.

I was feeling some palate fatigue by the end, but I think I managed to rate for smell and taste pretty well throughout. Mouthfeel and drinkability were the first criteria to suffer.

329. Brooklyn Winter Ale

Our first stop was the Brooklyn Brewery booth. Garrett Oliver wasn't at this fest, like he was at the 2004 Art of Beer Festival. I decided to try the Winter Ale. This Winter Warmer was brewed for Brooklyn's European importers to match Christmas food in Denmark. Served on tap in my 4 oz. sample cup.

Appearance: This beer pours a hazy dark amber.

Smell: This beer smells very sweet, with floral notes, fruity raisins, and a spicy cinnamon aroma.

Taste: Sweet malts dominate the front of the palate. Spices are present in the center, most notably nutmeg. There's a very low bitterness, and dryness in the finish.

Mouthfeel: This beer is smooth and light bodied. The carbonation was very tingly.

Drinkability: Nicely spiced, and smooth. Very tasty.

Overall: After waiting outside in the cold this was a great beer to start off with.

330. Allagash 10th Anniversary Ale

Next Ali and I went to the Allagash booth. I had the 10th Anniversary Ale, which is a blended Witbier, made by blending two high gravity Witbiers and aging in oak barrels. This was poured from a 750 mL bottle into my sample cup.

Appearance: This beer is a hazy golden, with a low white head.

Smell: Aromas of pepper, spices, banana, and bubblegum predominate. Upon swirling the pepper aromas become stronger, and an earthy aroma emerges.

Taste: Pepper and citrus flavors are evident in the front of the palate. Cloves and spices emerge in the center. The finish is sweet with a light bitterness and alcoholic warmth.

Mouthfeel: The beer is medium-bodied and smooth, with tingly carbonation.

Drinkability: I typically find this style to be very refreshing. This was less so than others, and is higher in alcohol.

Overall: This was a nice beer, it reminded me more of a Belgian Strong Pale Ale than a Witbier though.

Me holding the 10th Anniversary Ale.

331. Sam Adams Utopias

Given the high price and scarceness of this beer it was a must try. This beer is a monster at 25% abv. This is an American Strong Ale, which is a catch all category.

Appearance: This beer is a crystal clear orange-ruby, with no head. Appears thick and syrupy when swirled.

Smell: Very evident alcohol in the nose, smells like port. There are also strong caramel aromas. Ali described this as like a Brazil nut.

Taste: Very warm alcohol throughout. Flavors of grapes, like wine. Caramel sweetness.

Mouthfeel: Smooth and syrupy, with no carbonation.

Drinkability: Whoa! This is very strong, it's a nice sipping beer, but it's too strong to have more than a few ounces.

Overall: This was a very interesting beer. It definitely stretches the limits of what beer is.

332. Avery Twelve - Saison Ale

Next up was a Saison from Avery brewing in Colorado. According to the EBF description Twelve was brewed with "Rocky Mountain water, malted barley, imported Belgian malted wheat, sweet orange peel, lemon peel, grains of paradise, chamomile, lavender, hops, and Belgian yeast."

Appearance: This pours a slightly hazy blonde with foamy white head that diminishes to a thin layer.

Smell: I get notes of black pepper, sweet fruits like melon. This is a very nice, complex aroma.

Taste: Peppers and light malts up front, not overly sweet. Hop bitterness appears in the finish along with sweet fruits.

Mouthfeel: This is smooth and light to medium-bodied with light carbonation.

Drinkability: Light and refreshing.

Overall: I liked this Saison a lot, more complex than some of the others that I've tried.

333. Harpoon Varius Strong Ale

This beer was brewed exclusively for the Extreme Beer Fest. According to the EBF page:
Named "Harpoon Varius" because many different Harpoon brewers contributed to making this beer, which is brewed exclusively for the BeerAdvocate Extreme Beer Fest. Brewed in 10 10-gallon batches, Harpoon Varius is an experimental strong ale. Unfiltered, slightly cloudy, DANGEROUS! Rich alcohol notes mixing with earthy floral hop, thick malty sweetness in the nose. It starts off with a slight honey sweetness and transitions to a pronounced higher alcohol warmth and complex ester character. Finishes with a distinct smooth, bitter finish. Brewing with Pale Ale malt (90%), Caramel, and Victory. Hopped with Northern Brewer, East Kent Goldings, Fuggle, and Magnum. Dry-hopped with Willamette. Fermented with a Dry English Ale yeast.

Appearance: Pours a lightly hazy amberish-gold with a creamy white head.

Smell: Bananas, bubblegum and a slight sourness are obvious, with a light floral hop aroma.

Taste: There's an assertive but balanced hop bitterness throughout. I get pepper, bready malts, and banana and bubblegum. There is bitterness in the aftertaste from the hops.

Mouthfeel: Light and tingly.

Drinkability: Refreshing with a nice hoppiness.

Overall: This reminded me of a Belgian Strong Pale Ale, or a Tripel, but it was much hoppier than any of the other examples of those styles that I've had, very interesting.

334. Ommegeddon

Stopping by the Ommegang booth was a must. I decided to try Ommegeddon, an American Wild Ale. Ommegeddon is brewed with Brettanomyces, a wild yeast that gives a distinctive flavor. My experience with beers brewed with Brettanomyces is minimal, so I'm not sure what elements are distinctly "Brett".

Appearance: Pours a lightly hazy golden with a thin white head.

Smell: I got sweet aromas of bubblegum and cotton candy. I also caught a slight sourness, as well as a peculiar phenolic medicinal aroma (is this from the Brett?).

Taste: The beer is mildly bitter with sweet candy flavors, an acidic citrusy tartness, and a dry finish.

Mouthfeel: Light-bodied with medium carbonation.

Drinkability: Light and refreshing.

Overall: This is another good beer from Ommegang, I wish I had more experience with Brettanomyces fermented beers so I could be more objective.

335. Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA

Having stayed with beers that weren't hugely hoppy I decided to move on to some hoppier selections. I started with Dogfish Head's 90 Minute IPA, an American Double IPA. This was the first beer that I had after Ali stopped drinking.

Appearance: Pours a clear amber with a thin light white head.

Smell: Floral hops and light fruit.

Taste: Hoppy throughout, though sweet and bready malts emerge in the center to provide a nice balance.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied, smooth and creamy.

Drinkability: I actually found this beer really drinkable despite the massive hop character.

Overall: I was particularly impressed with how well the malts balanced the hops in this beer; it was surprisingly drinkable.

336. Double Bastard Ale

I went to the Stone Booth next, hoping to get a sample of Oak Aged Arrogant Bastard, but they had run out. Instead I got Double Bastard, an American Strong Ale.

Appearance: Pours a dark, clear ruby-amber with a beige head that thins out quickly.

Smell: Floral hops and sweet caramel malts.

Taste: There are very assertive hops throughout. There's a bready and caramel sweetness in the center, with a bitter aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied, smooth and creamy. Not overly carbonated.

Drinkability: This beer is pretty hoppy and isn't as well balanced as the 90 Minute IPA, so it's a little tough to drink.

Overall: The assertive hop character makes this beer a little hard to drink, but it is pretty damn tasty.

337. Berkshire Imperial Stout

Ali was hoping to try one of the Raspberry Strong Ales at the fest. Dogfish Head was out of Fort, so I went to Berkshire Brewing to try to get the Raspberry Strong Ale, but they were out as well. I decided to try their Russian Imperial Stout instead. Ali was a little disappointed when I got back.

Appearance: Pours an opaque black with a creamy brown head that diminishes to a ring.

Smell: Dark roasted coffee with notes of bittersweet chocolate.

Taste: Espresso flavors appear upfront with a nice sweetness in the center. There's bitterness from the roasted malts in the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Medium to full-bodied, smooth and creamy, with high carbonation for a stout.

Drinkability: This beer is pretty heavy, but I could have a pint or two.

Overall: A nice Imperial Stout, not the best, but pretty good.

338. Jalapeño Sunsplash Golden Ale

I saw this Chile Beer on the EBF beer list and had to try it. It has half a slice of fresh jalapeño in every can. I had intended for this to be my last beer, but the Stone Coast guy told me to keep my ticket.

Appearance: Pours a clear light golden, with a thin white head.

Smell: The only thing I can detect is jalapeño.

Taste: There are sweet malts and a light bitterness up front and in the center, with jalapeño spiciness in the center and aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Smooth, light-bodied, and a little watery.

Drinkability: Very drinkable if you can handle the heat.

Overall: I've never had a Chile Beer before. The spiciness isn't overwhelming, it's a nice focal point of the beer, but underneath there could have been some more complex malts and hops.

339. Ommegang Winter Witte

I had an unexpected ticket left after I had the Jalapeño Sunsplash so I went back to the Ommegang booth. I can't find this Witbier listed on Beer Advocate, so it may be the same as Ommegang Witte, though I'm not sure. I might send an e-mail to the brewery to see if anyone there can give me an answer.

Appearance: Pours a cloudy golden, with a thick white head that falls to a thin layer.

Smell: Fruity and spicy aromas of bananas, bubblegum and cloves.

Taste: This beer is peppery up front, with bananas and cloves in the center. The finish is dry with a low bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied, with fairly high carbonation.

Drinkability: Nice flavors, refreshing and easy to drink.

Overall: I was a little too drunk to remember overall impressions of this beer.

As we were leaving I noticed that the booth for The Tap was covered with dry hops flowers, so I grabbed a few:

When we switched to the Red Line at Downtown Crossing we sat across from a man who Ali described as "an overgrown leprechaun...with huge long feet and yellow socks... and long fingernails." As we sat he gave me the slow middle finger when I looked at him. I spent the remainder of the ride trying to get a good picture of him with my cell phone. We got off at Porter and I gave him the finger; he smiled and laughed in response.

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Thom and I attended the Extreme Beer Fest last night at the Cyclorama in Boston's Back Bay. Upon arriving at the building, we joined a huge line towards the entrance, but only had to wait about 20 minutes, with annoying slut girl behind us and ridiculous middle-aged men in front of us, before being allowed entrance. We got our IDs checked, our wrists braceleted, and our official 4 oz. plastic cups and 5 drink tickets (we bought 5 more for a dollar each). The place was packed, but it was a friendly crowd.

For food, Sunset Grill and Tap had a small setup in the back. After Beer #2, Thom bought a Sausage and I had a Chicken Fajita Wrap, both delicious. Later on, after the buzz set in, we bought a very tasty Belgian waffle from Waffle Haus.

Beer 1: Brooklyn Monster Ale, English Barleywine

Unfortunately Garrett Oliver was not present at this booth, but the pourer was friendly and smiled at me.

Appearance: Beer was a hazy orange-red. It had a thin, beige, bubbly head.

Smell: No surprise here, the beer smelled like a wine, grapey and sweet.

Taste: Very sweet and vinuous with some tingle up front. Ended with a wonderful malty, but not bitter warming alcohol.

Mouthfeel: Lightbodied, with carbonation at the beginning, but not at the end.

Drinkability: This was delicious! I could drink a lot of it.

Beer 2:
Allagash Curieux, Tripel

Served on draught, from a cooler.

Appearance: Pours a hazy dark golden with a creamy head that slowly diminishes.

Smell: I smelled a pretzely sweetness. After Thom suggested dill, I smelled that too.

Taste: I tasted dill and green bell peppers in the middle, then some sourdough, and a little bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Light- to mediumbodied with not too much carbonation.

Drinkability: Light and tasty, easy to drink a lot of, but the dill flavor?

Final Notes: Beer Advocate reviews find this Tripel to have vanilla and woody notes; most remark on tasting the whiskey from being aged in bourbon casks. I couldn't taste any of this, but I have a pretty undeveloped palate, so take my notes with a grain of salt!

Beer 3:
Boston Beerworks Peanut Butter Porter, American Porter

Appearance: This beer is dark dark dark with a thin head that disappears except around the edges of the cup.

Smell: Peanut butter!

Taste: The peanut butter taste in the middle faded to a sweet nuttiness. There was both some roasted as well as hoppy bitterness at the end.

Mouthfeel: Lightbodied with mild carbonation.

Drinkability: I could drink 1 or 2, my typical max for porters. I liked this because the PB was a fine replacement for the usual bitter chocolates I taste in Porters.

Beer 4:
The Reverend, Quadrupel

This is where my notes start to get illegible, ie this is where I start to get drunk

Appearance: Clear orange-bronze, no head.

Smell: My most complex nose so far, I smelled fried plantains, caramel, maple syrup, and iced tea.

Taste: Tasted sweet like candy and maple syrup.

Mouthfeel: This was lightbodied but also choppy with carbonation.

Drinkability: My notes say "Could drink a lot. Don't love it."

Beer 5: Harpoon Varius Strong Ale

Brewed exclusively for the Extreme Beer Fest. According to BA.com:
Harpoon Varius Strong Ale
Named "Harpoon Varius" because many different Harpoon brewers contributed to making this beer, which is brewed exclusively for the BeerAdvocate Extreme Beer Fest. Brewed in 10 10-gallon batches, Harpoon Varius is an experimental strong ale. Unfiltered, slightly cloudy, DANGEROUS! Rich alcohol notes mixing with earthy floral hop, thick malty sweetness in the nose. It starts off with a slight honey sweetness and transitions to a pronounced higher alcohol warmth and complex ester character. Finishes with a distinct smooth, bitter finish. Brewing with Pale Ale malt (90%), Caramel, and Victory. Hopped with Northern Brewer, East Kent Goldings, Fuggle, and Magnum. Dry-hopped with Willamette. Fermented with a Dry English Ale yeast.
Appearance: Thick creamy head reduces to nothing. Clear dark golden.

Smell: Sweet, with pineapple and berries.

Taste: Tropical fruit sweetness, then bready malts. Finishes with a slight bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Lightbodied and quite carbonated.

Drinkability: Very refreshing, but couldn't drink too much because of the hoppy bitterness.

Beer 6:
Three Philosophers, Quadrupel

I went to Ommegang to get their Rodenbach, a Flemish Sour Ale, but they were out! I tried this since I know Thom really likes it. This is my last beer, I had to cut myself off due to extreme tipsyness! Thom had to take my notes for me.

Appearance: Hazy, orange-red-brown. Thin beige ring of head.

Smell: Sweet raisins, cherries.

Taste: Sour-bitter fruit with mild carbonation. Thom transcribed my words which were the following: "Tarty-tart-tart in the middle, fig. Chomp chomp chomp, raisin."

Mouthfeel: Tingly and mediumbodied.

Drinkability: "I can't drink so much of this. It's so high in alcohol!"

I had a great time at this Beer Fest and got to try some awesome beers. I really like the beer fests because it brings so many beer lovers together, and also we scored some freebies, like my weeklydig.com bottle opener, plenty of coasters, a red devil glass ornament, and some hops!

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Overstating Your Conclusions, Beer and Aging

There's a story in The Prague Monitor that says "Doctors say moderate beer drinkers age slower." I've seen a mention of this on almost every beer news site I've read today. The reactions have been exclusively enthusiastic. I haven't read the study, so I don't know if the 'beer slows aging' angle is present in the study, or if it's just sloppy reporting.

One hundred middle-aged Czech men were screened for normal kidney and liver function prior to the study. They abstained from alcohol for one month, and then had two glasses a day, totaling 0.8 liters for two-months. From the article it seems that they were then subjected to blood tests. At the end of the study the men had lower levels of "dangerous blood lipids", increased levels of good cholesterol, improved antioxidant protection and lower levels of free radicals (I'm not sure how you test for the last two). As a negative side effect the men gained weight.

This is a short study funded by a coalition of Czech brewers (take with a grain or two of salt), which finds that moderate beer consumption has a positive effect on levels of blood fat, and good cholesterol levels. However, according to the article:
A study conducted by doctors who monitored nearly a hundred middle-aged men over the course of three months revealed that the moderate consumption of beer slows aging and reduces the likelihood of heart attacks and arteriosclerosis, the daily Plzensky denik reports today.
This study only lasted three months, which is too short a time to accurately assess long-term changes in the likelihood of heart attacks, arteriosclerosis, or aging (granted there is a positive correlation between the effects observed and reduced risk of heart disease). So either the study or the journalists overstate their conclusions. Either it's misleading science or sloppy journalism. One should also take into account that the men drinking beer experienced weight gain, which in the long-term could negate any benefits of drinking beer.

What this study is:
A small study that shows that moderate beer consumption may help reduce the amount of fat in the blood, and raise levels of good cholesterol.

What this study isn't:
A long-term epidemiological study that conclusively proves that beer reduces the risk of heart attacks or heart disease.

The moral:
Don't expect beer to be a fountain of youth. Also, take most science journalism with a large grain of salt.


As Thom explained already at length, we went to teh Publick House tonight. Since my main purpose here is as cheese-master/gourmand, I must mention my delicious meal, a Publick House burger with Cheddar cheese with Dogfish Head Indian Brown BBQ Sauce and home cut fries.

Tonight was my first semi-learned tasting experience, as Thom and I discussed beer styles last night while discussing our potential beer samplings at Extreme Beer Fest (this Saturday). I decided ahead of time to try a Belgian Quadrupel (low on the hops) and a Porter or Stout.

Beer 1: St. Bernardus ABT 12, Quadrupel

Appearance: Served in an oversized wine glass, when the beer was brought to our table it had a thick beige head that had good retention but eventually reduced to about a quarter of an inch. The brew was an opaque dark brown.

Smell: Sweet, malty, and spicy, very much like other Belgian beers I've smelled.

Taste: Tingly up front with a very sweet center, maybe a biscuity finish?

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied with light carbonation. I've written in my notes "munchy." I think I mean chewy.

Drinkablity: Very tasty, but high alcohol content means it's not a session beer.

Overall: I really like the malty flavor of this but it still has that crazy taste that's specific to Belgian beers that I'm not a fan of.

Dave on this beer: "This is the best beer I've ever tasted."

Beer 2: Rogue Mocha Porter, American Porter

Appearance: Beer was served in a Newcastle pint glass. It was totally opaque and a deep dark brown. The head was thin.

Smell: As expected, this beer smelled heavy and smoky.

Taste: Much more carbonated than what I've been drinking lately, it was tingly on the tongue at first, then intense espresso and subtle bittersweet chocolate flavors busted out. Pretty bitter finish.

Mouthfeel: Surprisingly light-bodied, but heavy in my tummy, especially after that huge burger!!

Drinkability: After that high ABV Bernardus and the burger, I was down for the count and needed Thom to help me finish, but not for lack of enjoyment. It does have a very strong, complex taste, so I probably wouldn't have more than one.

Overall: I tend to like more chocolatey than coffee-tasting porters, but this one wasn't bad.

Stay tuned for the X-treme Beer Fest

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327-328. The Publick House, Again

We weren't able to have dinner at The Publick House the last time we went. So we invited Dave and Heather to go there for dinner tonight. Though I'm hardly a beer expert, I certainly felt like one making recommendations for Dave and Heather. Heather had Lindemans Framboise, and Dave had St Bernardus Abt 12 and Allagash Tripel. The Draught Menu had changed significantly since our last visit, which I've heard they rotate frequently.

327. Nostradamus

I couldn't pass up a "Limited Time" offering, so I got this to start off with. This came in an 11.2 oz. brown bottle with a snail-gnome hybrid character riding a book, and was served in a Caracole snifter. Nostradamus is a Belgian Strong Dark Ale.

Appearance: Pours a dark brown, with a thick light-brown creamy head that thins to a quarter-inch layer, but reemerges upon swirling.

Smell: Fruity aromas of raisins and cherries are strong, with softer spicy notes.

Taste: This beer is spicy and sweet upfront, with toffee flavors in the center. The finish is tart and fruity, with an alcoholic warmth. Light bitterness is evident in the aftertaste. As the beer warms the fruit flavors become stronger, as do spices and bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied, with moderate carbonation and a smooth creamy finish.

Drinkability: Very pleasant, it has nice flavors, and is a little strong, but not too overpowering.

Overall: I liked this beer better than McChouffe, which seemed to have a predominantly spicy flavor profile. The flavors reminded me more of Ommegang. I had this with the Arrogant Bastard Meatloaf. I think the sweetness and fruitiness of the beer went well with the sweet and slightly bitter sauce.

328. Vuuve White

I always notice this beer when I go into Downtown Wine & Spirits, but the layer of dust on the bottles makes me worry that they're past their prime. I thought a Witbier would be refreshing after the heavy meatloaf. This came in a brown 11.2 oz. bottle. The dots in the U's make them look like boobs. It was served in a Duvel tulip glass.

Appearance (4.0): Pours a hazy golden, with a half-inch white head that quickly diminished to a thin layer.

Smell (4.0): The aroma is predominantly peppery with citrus notes. If I knew what coriander smelled like I would probably detect that as well. I get an earthy aroma with agitation.

Taste (4.5): Floral but not hoppy flavors are evident upfront. Citrus and spicy notes emerge in the center. The finish is sweet and tart with a slight zesty bitterness.

Mouthfeel (3.5): Light-bodied with moderate carbonation.

Drinkability (5.0): This was light and refreshing, which was nice after the heavy meal. The beer also cleansed the palate well. It remains very drinkable even after it warms.

Overall (TC: 4.275, BA: 4.25): Nice, light and refreshing.

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325-326. New York City: Beer at Bars, Saturday

After the tour at the Brooklyn Brewery we went out to play pool and have another drink before dinner. After dinner we headed to the Lower East Side for some bar hopping.

325. Brooklyn Pennant Ale '55

I had this beer on tap at the Brooklyn Ale House in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. It was served in an Imperial Pint glass. This is an American Pale Ale, which is a variant of the British style Pale Ales.

Appearance: This beer pours a clear amber, with a thick white head and diminishes to a thin layer. There is light lacing and not much carbonation.

Smell: The aroma contains bready malt notes, and light hop florals.

Taste: Sweet bready malts are evident at the front of the palate. Overall there is a fair amount of hop bitterness here. The finish is clean with light bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Light bodied with mild carbonation.

Drinkability: This is really easy to drink. The sweetness of the malts is balanced nicely against the bitterness of the hops.

Overall: This isn't a spectacular brew, it's a good example of the style, but one of its strengths is its simplicity. I could easily drink a six-pack or more.

326. Brooklyn Pilsner

After dinner we headed to the Lower East Side for some bar hopping. We stopped at Barra Mundi, where this was served in a Brooklyn Brewery pint glass. This is a German Pilsener, not one of my favorite styles.

Appearance: Poured a clear pale gold with little head.

Smell: Aromas were light overall, with sweetness and floral hops.

Taste: I found this beer overly simple, though I'm not a huge fan of the style. There was light malt sweetness and hop bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Smooth, crisp and light bodied.

Drinkability: Smooth, light and easy to drink.

Overall: I wasn't a huge fan of the style, so perhaps I can't objectively rate the quality. I tend to prefer the more complex flavors of ales to lagers.

Other Drinks:

We went to quite a few bars after Barra Mundi. We mostly stuck to drinks in the gin family (G&Ts and Gimlets), though we had a PBR or two. We started drinking at 2:30 PM, and finished at around 3:00 AM. Overall not a bad day of drinking. I'm going to the Beer Advocate Extreme Beer Fest this weekend so that should net another entry with 10 or so new beers.

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321-324. New York City: Brooklyn Brewery Tour

On Saturday we went to the Brooklyn Brewery for a tour. The tours are free and occur hourly beginning at 1 PM on Saturdays. The tour lasts about half an hour, and is one-half history of the brewery and one-half about how beer is brewed. The entire tour takes place in a single room where the wort is made and where the fermenters are. I was surprised how open the access was. None of the equipment is roped off or behind glass. There was a tub of iodine solution for sterilizing equipment in the middle of where the tour group stood.

Brooklyn Brewery Logo

The tour setup was surprisingly focused on drinking beer. There is an open access bar area with a large amount of seating, art on the walls, and fairly 'hip' music playing. You can get full-sized beers at the bar by purchasing tokens for $3 each. The brewery opens at 12 PM and closes at around 5 PM. There is no limit to how long you can drink there, they just kick everyone out when it closes. There's also a happy hour from 6-11 PM on Fridays. There were 8 beers on tap: Brooklyner Weisse, Brooklyn Lager, Saison de Brooklyn, Brooklyn Pennant Ale '55, Brooklyn Pilsner, Brooklyn Brown Ale, Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout and Brooklyn Smoked Porter.

Brooklyn Smoked Porter, Brooklyner Weisse & Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout.

A cat that seems to be a brewery resident.

321. Saison de Brooklyn

I had this on tap, obviously at the brewery, in a plastic Brooklyn Brewery cup. This is a Saison, which is a farmhouse ale typically brewed in the winter for summer consumption.

Appearance: Pours a hazy pale golden, with persistent carbonation. The white head diminishes to a thin layer, and leaves nice lacing.

Smell: Major notes of bananas and cloves, with an earthy aroma as well.

Taste: There are flavors of pepper, cloves and bananas at the front of the palate. The center has acidic tartness with some malts. The finish is slightly sweet, with bitterness in the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: This beer is light-bodied with some tingly carbonation.

Drinkability: This beer is light and refreshing and pleasantly flavored.

Overall: This reminds me of a dry Hefe Weisse.

322. Brooklyn Smoked Porter

I had this on tap in a plastic Brooklyn Brewery cup. This is an American Porter that uses smoked malts to achieve a smoky flavor.

Appearance (4.0): Pours a dark brown, bordering on opaque. There's a yellowish-brown tint through the light. A thin beige head fades into a thin layer.

Smell (4.0): Aromas include smoky roasted malts, coffee and chocolate.

Taste (4.5): The front of the palate is sweet followed by coffee and dark chocolate flavors from the roasted malts in the center. There is a smoky aftertaste. There is bitterness from hops and roasted malts, which is balanced by sweetness and some acidic tartness.

Mouthfeel (4.0): Carbonation is mild. The beer is very thick and creamy.

Drinkability (3.0): This beer drinks like a meal.

Overall (TC: 4.05, BA: 4.1): This is an exceptionally well balanced porter. Very nice.

323. Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout

Once again, served on tap at Brooklyn Brewery in a plastic Brooklyn Brewery cup. This is a Russian Imperial Stout.

Appearance: This pours a dark black, with some ruby tints when held to the light. There's a one-half inch brown head that sticks to the glass nicely.

Smell: There's a sweet almost berry-like aroma.

Taste: The beer is sweet upfront. Dark chocolate flavors fade into bitterness from roasted malts and hops. The 8.5% abv is very evident in this beer.

Mouthfeel: This beer is smooth and full-bodied, with light carbonation.

Drinkability: This would go nice with a meal, but is way to heavy to drink several of.

324. Brooklyner Weisse

Had on tap at Brooklyn Brewery in a plastic Brooklyn Brewery cup. This is a Bavarian style Hefe Weizen. I had some water between the Black Chocolate Stout and this to cleanse the palate.

Appearance (4.0): Pours a hazy golden, with moderate carbonation. A creamy white head persists as a quarter-inch layer, with nice lacing.

Smell (3.5): There are light clove and banana notes, though not as pronounced as the Saison. The most obvious aroma is a yeast, musty smell.

Taste (3.0): This is lightly sweet at the beginning, with cloves and bananas at the center. There isn't much bitterness or flavor in the finish.

Mouthfeel (2.0): Strong carbonation up front. Other than carbonation this beer is very light-bodied, almost watery.

Drinkability (3.0): This beer is light and easy to drink, what flavors there are, are pleasant.

Overall (TC: 2.975, BA: 3.2): This was a pretty disappointing beer. The fruity and spicy flavors and aromas of German Hefes are present, but the flavors just fall flat. Look to Live Oak Hefe Weizen for one of the best American made German style Hefes.

"For a relaxing time, make it Santori Time"

The following pictures were taken while saying the above phrase.



Thom (note: definitely the worst picture of the three)

Next entry, two more beers that I had elsewhere in NYC.

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I went to NYC this weekend to visit David and Dave. I arrived in the always clean Port Authority Bus Terminal, and then headed to David's apartment to drop my stuff off. We decided on Sri Lankan food, and since Sigiri is BYOB we stopped at Columbia Deli and Market to pick up some beer to have with dinner. The selection was pretty impressive. We picked up a bottle of McChouffe and a bottle of Hitachino Nest Weizen.

319. McChouffe

McChouffe is a Belgian Strong Dark Ale. I chose this beer because I've heard good things, and because it's Belgian. We had a 750 mL green bottle with a larger than normal bottle cap, and a Scottish looking gnome character on the front. This had warmed sufficiently by the end of our subway ride, and was served in a wine glass.

Appearance: The beer pours a hazy brown color. A thick beige head diminishes to a thin layer, but leaves nice lacing.

Smell: This had a surprisingly light aroma. There were some bready sweet aromas, as well as hints of spice.

Taste: Peppery spicy flavors dominate the front of the palate, with light malts in the center. The finish is sweet, with warming alcohol. There was mild bitterness in the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Moderate carbonation, and medium bodied.

Drinkability: As with beers of this and similar styles I like the interplay between spicy and sweet flavors. I could drink a lot of this.

320. Hitachino Nest Weizen

Hitachino Nest Weizen is a Hefe Weizen brewed by the Kiuchi Brewery in Japan. We picked this up because I wanted to try more of the Hitachino Nest beers. It came in a 750 mL brown bottle with the owl on the front. As with the McChouffe, this had warmed sufficiently by the end of our subway ride, and was served in a wine glass.

Appearance: The beer pours a lightly cloudy golden color with little carbonation. A thin fluffy head emerges but quickly vanishes.

Smell: The aroma is fruity, like that of a typical hefe. I get sour apple, clove and banana aromas.

Taste: Sweetness and clove spices are present in the front of the palate. Sourness comes through in the center. There is a very, very light bitterness.

Mouthfeel: This beer is light bodied with mild carbonation.

Drinkability: This beer is very light and refreshing.

DEL: "Sour apple aftertaste encourages you to drink another." "Representative of its class in a good way."

Other Beer

We then went to an improv show at Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre where we each had four PBR cans. After improv we went to a bar and each had a Bud Light on tap. There are two more entries to do for this trip. They include a tour of the Brooklyn Brewery, and some new beers in various bars.

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318. Midas Touch Golden Elixir

318. Midas Touch Golden Elixir

I picked this up at Downtown Wine & Spirits because my dad had heard about on a show on The History Channel. The beer came in a standard 12 oz. brown bottle. The purple label has a fingerprint on the logo, and says "Handcrafted Ancient Ale with barley, honey, white muscat grapes & saffron". I let the beer warm to approximately 50°F, and served it in one of my New Belgium snifters.

Beer Advocate lists this beer as a Herbed/Spiced Beer, a sort of catch-all style that isn't particularly informative for individual beers. The Dogfish Head website gives a more accurate description as to what this beer is about:
"This recipe is the actual oldest-known fermented beverage in the world! Our recipe showcases the known ingredients of barley, white Muscat grapes, honey & saffron found in the drinking vessels in King Midas' tomb! Somewhere between a beer, wine and mead, this smooth, dry ale will please with Chardonnay or I.P.A. drinker alike."
The website goes on to say that a tomb, likely that of King Midas, excavated in 1957 contained the world's largest Iron Age drinking set. Analysis of the residues inside the vessels indicated that they contained a beverage consisting of grape wine, barley beer and honey mead. Dogfish Head attempted to recreate this beverage and Midas Touch is the result.

Appearance (3.0): Midas Touch pours a crystal clear, deep golden-orange. It's fizzy, with large soda like bubbles. Topped by a white half-inch head, that quickly diminishes to a ring. (Note: from looking at other reviews the turbidity seems to vary with serving method)

Smell (3.5): The beer smells earthy, malty and a little buttery. Upon swirling I get wine-like grape aromas.

Taste (4.0): The taste is complex. Grainy flavors and honey sweetness are evident immediately. Malts take over in the center and are overtaken by tartness and spicyness in the finish. The aftertaste is spicy with alcoholic warmth. A modest bitterness appears mostly in the finish. It's almost like there's a mead to beer to wine transition.

Mouthfeel (4.5): Creamy and medium bodied with light carbonation. Leaves a buttery feel in the mouth.

Drinkability (2.5): This beer is 9.0% abv, which is evident in the taste. The flavors are also very strong, making this a bad session brew.

Overall (BA: 3.6, TC: 3.65): This is an interesting beer, definitely very wine like. It's a neat idea for a beer, and the execution isn't bad. It's almost a little too strong.

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Beer in Your Area

I found this neat Google Beer Map. It's a map of most things beer related in the US. Grey flags are beer bars, white flags are beer stores, yellow flags are brewpubs, green flags are breweries, and blue flags are homebrew stores. There are also flags for homebrew clubs, brew on premise establishments, microbreweries, and contract breweries. There's a similar map here, the site design is a little better, but there aren't as many categories.

The site is a little slow, and the information isn't 100% accurate, but you can add establishments that aren't on the map.