Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Lovemaking: Pale Ale Edition

If you’ve been following the blog long you’ve heard the story about Super Dave and his torrid love affair with “the Czar”.  During this affair, Bridgeport’s The Hop Czar was Dave’s exclusive beer of choice.  Any conversation would almost immediately end with, “It’s not the Czar though”.  I couldn’t understand how a man could get wrapped up that tightly with a single beer.  I was having a great time with a different brew every time.  I rarely bought the same beer within short periods of time.  I was living it up in the craft beer bachelor life while Dave was locked down to his one love.  What was he thinking?  I could never figure it out.  Well until now.

The first “date” that started my own torrid beer love affair was at The Flying Saucer.  We went down to check out the highly touted Hop Slam but wanted to take advantage of the Pint Night specials.  I’d seen New Belgium had recently released their seasonal Dig, I’d passed it on the store shelves in favor of more exotic offerings.  Our paths remained separate until that night at The Saucer.  “It’s on special?  Sure I’ll take a pint”.  That was the beginning.

That night New Belgium’s Dig was the star of the show.  Sure, Hop Slam was awesome in it’s own right but Dig stole the show.  Bright citrus character, lemon dancing on the palate, a sweet fruity mango character, I immediately fell in love.  This is unlike anything I had tried before.  The malt character provided the perfect background to this outstanding hop character.  Foreign to my taste buds were these exquisite hops.  At times the Centennial hop provides a lemony citrusy delight, but never had this lemon character been accompanied by such a delightful fruity presence.  I’m in love!

Over the course of a couple of weeks my love affair strengthened and I began to drink Dig instead of other more exotic brews.  This is a pale ale no less.  In the past I’ve ignorantly passed on pale ales feeling they were inferior to the much bigger IPAs.  How could a 5%er hold up to the 7% ABVs of my favorite IPAs?  What I failed to realize is pale ales give the hop character room to breathe and flourish.  Without the big ABV and high bitterness levels of an IPA, the hops in a pale are free to roam.  How could I have been so closed minded?  But now nothing can come in between me and my beloved.

The specialness began to wear off of the Dig.  It began to lose its brightness and transformed into a shell of itself.  Today the flavors are moving towards darker version of the previous qualities.  It is still exceptional but not what it once was.  The lemon and mango are moving into a darker grapefruit character.  It is a lot like tasting a bit of sweet grapefruit and getting a piece of the skin with it.  The malt character is becoming more prominent and is a toasted bread character lingering further into the finish as it ages.

What was I to do?  How could I see another brew after this intense affair?  Well I did what any self respecting beer geek would do, I started another affair.  What could possibly take Dig’s place?  Stay tuned and I’ll let you know.  A hint?  It’s brand new and got all of it’s hop glory intact. 


Milk Mustache...Brewmaster Beard.

A common theme that keeps popping up is brewmasters and facial hair. I remember reading a forum thread about this topic on BeerAdvocate and now there's a blog post from Beer & The blog post itself seems to be outdated but I thought it was pretty cool. It is a photo documentary of some of the craft beer industries brewers and their facial hair. I can say I’m already full on mountain man these days and it seems to be helping my brewing (clears throat) Baltic Porter. Now if I could just get my assistant brewer to sport some face fuzz we could take over the world…waahahaha. I don’t think it is going to happen so everyone is safe for now. You can’t deny the power of the beard, just look at the Sam Adams commercials. You have all these clean-shaven nancy boys (sorry Dad) rambling about beer but you still have doubts about their credibility. Then the brewer with the giant beard starts talking about Sam Adams, and you become a believer.

Here are some other reasons why righteous facial hair is awesome:

1. Makes you look tough, duh

2. People stop asking you for change on the street

3. Salesman don’t pester you at stores

4. The beer never gets to your shirt if you miss your mouth

5. You can land a gig as a stunt double for Chuck Norris.

6. Your face isn’t as cold in the winter

7. It’s like a mullet from the front and everyone knows how kick ass mullets are!

8. You can frighten small children

9. It gives you beer drinking super powers

Check out the blog post over at Beer &


Let's Put An End to this Craft Beer Thing.

A post over at quotes the Schlafly brewmaster calling for an end to the "craft beer" distinction.  Not sure if I agree with this one and it seems rather odd coming from a smaller brewery.  What do you guys think?

"The sooner the division between beer and craft beer ends, the better,” Hale said. “Our newly formed St. Louis Brewers Guild includes Anheuser-Busch. It’s not the St. Louis Craft Brewers Guild. It’s important to be inclusive and play nice in the sandbox. I’m not saying that they did or that they always do, but emphasizing a division doesn’t do anybody any long-term good.”

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Homebrew Odyssey

I’ve been busy lately concocting different variants of beer god nectar juice. Being cooped up all “winter” has sent my homebrewing bug into hyper mode. I’ve recently acquired an assistant brewer so we’ve scaled up the FatCat Brewing Co. to a 10 gallon capacity (details on this will be forthcoming). Here is what I’ve been up to lately with links to the detailed recipes.

Skadoosh Baltic Porter I transferred this to my keg the other day and wow! I was blown away. The malt character in this brew is awesome and we even managed to get a sort of smokey character in there. Not sure where the smoke comes from but I’ll take it. It was room temp and un-carbonated but my initial thought was this is one of the best brews I’ve ever made. Of course I tasted this after a 6hr brew day which means I ingested plenty of brewer’s fuel (beer and whiskey) prior to tasting the Baltic. So I might have had my beer goggle goggles on. Nobody panic I think I made the perfect beer.

1.086 OG

38 IBU

8.5% ABV

Smack Yo Momma Pale Ale We threw together some Citra and Centennial hops and hoped for some magic. The Centennial we used was far passed its prime but in the middle of brew day you really have no choice but to use it. I tasted this one as I transferred it to the keg, which means it was room temp and un-carbonated. My initial thoughts are it is a little too sweet and “biscuity” for what I was going for. I wanted a little more bitterness but the Citra character is awesome. We’ll chill her down, put her on some gas, and see if we just can’t smack our momma’s.

1.053 OG

41.2 IBUs

5.2% ABV

Frenchy Land Bier De Garde We just brewed this one Sunday so I don’t have any tasting notes yet. This is another one of those obscure styles not readily available. It is a French farmhouse ale with the yeast character of say a Boulevards Tank 7 but the French version is more malt forward. While brewing we did try the Schlafly Bier De Garde and we were pleasantly surprised. It was as advertised by the style with a lot in common with Tank 7, the differences being a thicker mouthfeel and good malt complexity. It was also bit sweeter than a Tank 7. Hopefully ours comes out as good as Schlafly’s. Anyone ready for a Farmhouse throwdown! Don’t be scared Tank 7 and Collette, I’ll be gentle.

1.074 OG

26.0   IBUs

7.7%  ABV

Coming in the not so distant future!

Chael’s Ale IPA As you all know Super Dave is FatCat’s resident IPA fanatic. It would be rude for us not to throw a little IPA his way. Well hold on kids here it comes. This IPA will be a beast. I’m keeping my gravity within the IPA guidelines at about 7.5% ABV but I’m busting through the IBU ceiling. We tried the Green Flash West Coast IPA in one of our shootouts and it was BITTER. This was our guiding light for bitterness in this brew because anything more bitter than that would be downright unpalatable. Blasting to 91.7 IBUs, Chael’s Ale should have very pronounced bitterness without being completely ridiculous (or so we hope). We’ll be using Citra, Centennial, Chinook, and Sorachi Ace hops. Did I ever tell you how much I love homebrewing? Good luck finding a commercial brew with all of those different hops in it. Stay tuned for the carnage!

Like what you see?  Questions?

You should be able to click on the linked brew names above for the detailed recipe. You can also click here or go to the link on my Homebrew Page to see all of my recipes at If anyone has any questions about my recipes (past or present) or need help with homebrewing shoot me a line. I’ll do my best to get you up and brewing.


Silly Wabbit

I had to steal this off of Beer Connoisseur Magazine's Facebook Page.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Flying Saucer Barleywine Week!

What better event to wake up without your pants in your neighbors yard than Flying Saucer's Barleywine Week?  I can't think of one.  The big week is kicking off Monday the 27th and will last until Saturday March the 3rd with all tappings at 7pm.

Monday February 27th - Schlafly Oak Aged Barleywine '11
Tuesday February 28th - Lagunitas Gnarleywine
Wednesday February 29th - Stone Old Guardian with glass
Thursday March 1st - Founder's Curmudgeon's Better Half & Harvietoun Ola Dubh 18
Friday March 2nd - Southern Tier Backburner & Anchor Old Foghorn
Saturday March 3rd - Green Flash Barleywine

We're coming out of winter and festivities are starting to pick up.  Last night was the special tapping of a Dry-Hopped O'Fallon 5 Day IPA firkin at Waldo Pizza.  Spring = Beer Festivals.  I've updated the calendar of upcoming events towards the bottom of the page so you can quickly reference whats going on.  Keep your eyes peeled and prepare for some fun!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

What is so great about KC anyway?

Beyond a shot and a beer for friendly drinks in K.C. –Chicago Tribune

I ran across this article the other day and meant to throw it up on the blog.  Of course I’m a very busy person and forgot…that is until now!  I thought it was pretty cool that our local drinking scene was being recognized by a large market like Chicago.  The even cooler part is that we are being recognized for being laid back and friendly.  I think this is a testament to the great people that participate in the scene around here.  The owners and operators are in it for the right reasons and not just to cash in on people's passions.  The consumers in KC are passionate about their drinks and love to share them with others.  That is what makes craft brew what it is.  I love the taste of beer, but the real enjoyment is discussing brew with my friends.  Even better is to share brew with friends.  I think craft brew/cocktails/fine spirits are one of the few sources of mutual camaraderie in our ever increasingly stressful and busy society.  Thanks to all the brewers, store employees, servers, and to everyone in general for your dedication and passion in our local market.


Sam Adams Irish Red

This brew is an old stand-by for me, it’s not flashy but it is awesome nonetheless. The Irish Red pours a nice deep red color with a quickly dissipating head roosted on top. The nose is packed with grainy sweet aroma giving hint to the malt character waiting for you in the glass. This brew relies on it’s sweetness to get the job done and it delivers. It starts with a bit of raw sweetness but then light caramel begins dancing on the palate. The caramel then blends with a little brown sugar in the middle of the palate. A subtle bitterness emerges towards the finish that brings balance to the overall character of the brew. If you really hunt you can pick up a bit of earthy hop character blending with the grainy sweetness. The thing that sells me on this brew is how well the caramel character is done. The caramel character is there but is restrained without being overbearing or too sweet.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Holy Beer Goddesses Batman!

Reading the comments today I was reminded of one of my favorite commercials of all time.  Thank me later.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Left Hand Ambidextrous @ The Saucer

Tonight the Flying Saucer is tapping a rare keg of Left hand Ambidestrous Stout at 7pm.  I tried doing some research on this brew and Beer Advocate only has 2 reviews on this brew.  With only 2 reviews I would have to assume this beer is super rare.  It is a 10.2% ABV Oak Aged Milk/Sweet stout that I want in my belly.  I am predisposed tonight so I will not be experiencing this brew.  Here is where I turn the tables on you!  If any of you guys get to try this brew let me know what you think.  I will live vicariously through your taste buds and you can share your review with fellow KC area beer geeks.  FatCat's counting on you.

It goes without saying, have fun and enjoy responsibly.


Chocolate Ale Recall - Contingency Plan!

Picture from
The question has arisen regarding the replacement of an infected bottle of Boulevard Chocolate Ale as opposed to just a refund. As of now all Boulevard has stated is they are refunding the purchase price for a bottle of tainted Chocolate Ale. There has been no mention of replacing the bottles, which unless Boulevard has a secret stockpile would be impossible. However with my beer geekdomness (yes it’s a word) always at full throttle I do have some ideas.

I would talk with your friends, family, or co-workers that you know received a bottle and see if they are willing to trade you. I know this sounds like I’m being sarcastic with an overly simple answer but I do have reasons. Theoretically, the more hardcore beer geeks will be more interested in an infected bottle (assuming the infection is Brett as some people have guessed) and they might trade you. You might check Craiglist over the next couple of weeks for the possibility of people posting to trade. Second, if you have any out-of-town contacts I would have them check their liquor stores for any leftover Chocolate Ale bottles. The demand didn’t seem to be as high for Chocolate Ale outside of the metro and surrounding areas. Third, check out the Chocolate Ale thread on Beer Advocate. There was a thread on Beer Advocate forums discussing the wider availability of Chocolate Ale in other states. Several of the people on that thread offered to ship Chocolate Ale to people in Kansas City since ours sold out in 2 minutes. Of course, dealing with a stranger would be at your own risk so don’t take my statements as any sort of implied warranty. The problem…Beer Advocate went down the other day and the forums are unavailable at this time. I’m assuming they will be up sooner than later and they will still have their archived forums.

My final suggestion is to keep an eye out for local places tapping kegs of Chocolate Ale as specials. If I remember correctly, there were several tapping events last year that were announced well after Valentine’s Day. If none of these scenarios pan out for you, don’t sweat it. There are TONS of different craft brews out there so take the opportunity to try something different. Just think you have an entire year to begin entrenching for next year’s Chocolate Ale Day. Better stock up on some razor wire and bags of sand.


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Sam Adams Spring Variety Pack

It’s hard to watch TV without seeing a commercial for the new Sam Adams Alpine Spring brew.  Based on the description in the commercial old Sammy is opening up the Munich Helles style (German Light Lager) by going bigger with malt and hops.  This roused some excitement in my most inner beer geek.  A hoppy Helles seemed interesting, kind of like a lager version of an IPA.  At least that’s what I envisioned.  This brew also stirred some interest in my non-beer geek friends drawing inquiry from them.  I felt like a bit of a failure for not having tasted this brew yet but I feel this review should help me redeem myself.  Along with the Alpine Spring two other new brews are in the sampler, Mighty Oak Ale and Whitewater IPA. 

Alpine Spring

Without further adieu here is Sam Adams new brew.  I popped open the bottle and immediately got a whiff of what seemed like booze.  The brewed poured very seductively with a beautiful hazy body and a large three fingered head.  The nose was erupting with lemon aroma.  Is their lemon in this?  Don’t remember hearing about that.  There is a good sweetness up front with smooth biscuit character.  You start to get a bit of a tart character about mid palate and then here comes the lemons.  A sweet lemon character takes over and dominates the brew.  There is a slight bitterness in the finish but does not linger in the aftertaste.  The biscuit character does come back in the aftertaste complimenting the lemons.  I find this brew very summer shandy-esque meaning it is predominately sweet with a tart lemon character accompanying it.  This is definitely not what I was expecting from this brew.  I expected some deeper grainy/bread character and some additional bitterness.  The lemon character came completely out of left field and threw this brew out of “style” in my opinion.  I checked the Sam Adams website and they do not mention anything about adding lemon to this brew.  They must have got some super fresh hops to get that profound of a lemon character.  This would make a good summer brew to enjoy after mowing the grass which ruins the whole “spring” beer Sam Adams was going for.

Might Oak Ale

This brew poured a golden red color with a giant head protruding out of the top of the glass.  The nose is fairly uneventful with some faint straw/grass aromas barely coming through.  The sweetness is the star of the show initially with an almost cinnamon character coming through.  The oak starts poking through in the middle and pairs very nicely with the sweetness.  As the brew warms the cinnamon character begins to morph into a light vanilla note.  The oak remains all the way to the finish and lingers slightly.  The sweet vanilla and oak characters blend wonderfully in this brew making it a real treat. 

Whitewater IPA

The Whitewater poured with a hazy straw colored body and a one fingered head.  The nose is packed with big clean citrus notes dominated by pale grapefruit character.  There is no real sweetness on the start of this one, just a plunge into the citrus hop flavor.  The citrus character is mostly a pale almost sour grapefruit note.  The bitterness is apparent but is not overwhelming, lingering slightly on the finish.  Overall this brew is refreshing and enjoyable.  As with a lot of Sam Adams brews the Whitewater has a very clean well-balanced character.  This is a quality brew but is a one-note song with minimal complexity.

The other brews in this sampler are Boston Lager, Irish Red, and Black Lager.  I will review the Irish Red shortly.  I've previously reviewed the Black Lager and it is one of FatCat's Epic Brews.  Check out the Epic Brew link at the top of the page.  This is a solid sampler at a decent price.  If your looking for something to do at home this weekend grab this 12 pack and start sampling.


Boulevard Chocolate Ale...The Saga Continues.

According to a article I ran across, Boulevard is recalling three batches of it's much anticipated Chocolate Ale.  The beer is not toxic or otherwise bad for you so don't panic and try to give the bottle to your nosey neighbor.  In the quality control checks Boulevard has identified some unintended flavors in some of the bottled Chocolate Ale.  I checked the Boulevard website and didn't see right off hand this announcement so we'll have to take's word for it.

To All Boulevard Customers:

At Boulevard Brewing Company, we pride ourselves on our attention to detail. As part of our quality assurance program, we conduct extensive laboratory and sensory analysis on all of our beers, both before and after their release. This week, some post-release checks of Chocolate Ale, our current Smokestack seasonal offering, revealed that certain batches of the beer had begun to exhibit flavors and aromas not intended by our brewers, attributes not detected prior to the January release of the beer.

As you might imagine, we are dismayed by this discovery, and are conducting exhaustive investigations in an effort to pinpoint the problem. At this point we know enough to confirm that it was limited to three batches of Chocolate Ale bottles – it did not extend to other Chocolate Ale bottles, to Chocolate Ale draft beer, or to any other Boulevard beers. We can also confirm that the batches in question are not harmful to consume, but may simply display an undesirable flavor.

We stand behind all of our beers, and accordingly are offering a full refund to any consumer who purchased a bottle of Chocolate Ale from the following batches: 2011-1, 2011-2, or 2011-3. The batch number can be found on the back label of the bottle, in the upper righthand corner (click here to view image – the batch number is indicated by the last digit on the top line.). To receive a refund, send us the name of the store where you purchased the beer, the purchase price, your name and mailing address, and a scan or photo of the back label from your bottle of Chocolate Ale, batch 2011-1, 2011-2, or 2011-3. If you purchased more than one bottle, please include a photograph of all bottles together.

You can e-mail this information to, or mail it to “Chocolate Ale refund, Boulevard Brewing Company, 2501 Southwest Boulevard, Kansas City, MO 64108.” You can expect a check within 2 to 4 weeks of your submission.

We strive to make superior beers, and extend a sincere apology to those who were disappointed. We promise to learn from this experience, and to redouble our efforts to ensure that every Boulevard beer is worthy of our discerning customers. If you have any additional questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Thank you for your support.

Your Friends at Boulevard Brewing Company

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Ruthless...Now That's What I'm Talking About

If you judge a beer by the label alone this is one of the best beers ever made.  The imagery on this label is a work of art.  In a lot of respects it has a lot in common with the Boulevard Wheat Wine label with a character wielding a scythe in a crop field.  In this scenario the grim reaper is replaced by a lonely ominous looking woman.  I’m not an art aficionado so I don’t know the principles that make this image so profound but the colors and imagery are powerful.  Did I mention the name is Ruthless Rye?  SOLD!  What can we expect from this voodoo wrapped elixir of rye and hops?  A possession?

 Opening the bottle I almost expected an evil spirit to emerge and levitate me across the room.  Well that didn’t happen.  The brew pours a copper color with a smaller than expected head.  Looking at the body of the brew it “looked” very thick.  I was watching the CO2 bubbles rise to the top of the glass and noticed some of them were stuck, suspended in mid-beer.  I don’t remember seeing this before so maybe Sierra Nevada really did pack some evil spirits in here.  The nose was very promising with good grapefruit aromas complimented by some faint rye spice in the background.  The mouthfeel seemed somewhat thick giving the impression of this brew being undercarbed.  The brew starts with some very brief sweetness and then dives into rye spiciness.  The spiciness is immediately replaced by big hop character that proceeds into the finish.  The hop character had a very young grassy character without much of the grapefruit from the nose.  The hops linger quite a while in the finish and the rye spiciness starts coming back at this point.  Although there was a big hop character this brew wasn’t very bitter.  My overall impression of this brew can be summed up by saying it was a little rough.  But what can you expect from a brew named Ruthless Rye?  Maybe I’m getting soft?  Even with the roughness I did enjoy this brew and can say this is a very unique offering.


Thursday, February 9, 2012

National IPA Championship

I was cruising the web today and found a link for the 5th annual National IPA Championship.  I guess I missed the past 4 championships because I’ve never heard of this.  Just goes to show you big craft beer is getting with events popping up everywhere.  This one seems to be based out of New York and features a 128-entry field thrown together in a single elimination bracket.  Each round is judged by a panel of 3 judges.  The judges are brewers and they are blind tasting two 3oz samples.  The three brewers pick a winner from the two entries and if there is a discrepancy, majority rules.   I guess this is beer geeks’ way of celebrating the bracket mania of NCAA’s March Madness.   Round one is in the books and the next round is scheduled for February 18th.

So far in 2012 these brews have made it past round 1:
Sierra Nevada Ruthless Rye
Nectar Ales Nectar IPA
Anderson Valley’s Hop Ottin’ IPA
Bell’s Two Hearted Ale
Topeka’s Blind Tiger Top Gun IPA
Stone IPA
Firestone Walker Union Jack
Lagunitas IPA
Ska Modus Hoperandi

Here are the results for some locally available brews from the 2011 championship.  There are 7 rounds total:

Tallgrass Oasis made it to the 3rd round
Founder’s Red Rye PA made it to the 4th round
Sweetwater IPA made it to the 4th round
Topeka’s Blind Tiger Top Gun IPA made it to the 5th round
Ska Modus Hoperandi made it to the 5th round

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Spoof Beer Commercials

Breckenridge Brewing Company came out with a couple commercials last year parodying some big beer ad campaigns.  Looks like that are at it again.

Find Your Couch

The Least Interesting Man in the World

A Will Ferrell Old Milwaukee Commercial only aired in one market in Nebraska during the Super Bowl.

Ryan Sullivan's Imperial Stout by Moylan's.

In my journey for supreme imperial stout enlightenment the next stop was Moylan’s Ryan Sullivan’s Imperial Stout.  Clocking in at 10% ABV this stout should hang in with some of the heavier stouts I have been sampling recently.  The label mentioned this was a “cigar stout” so I figured I would put that to the test as well.  Imperial Stout and a cigar, that sounds like enlightenment to me.

The Moylan’s poured dark as night with a nice tan head.  There was decent carbonation but the head receded fairly quickly.  The nose was full of booze giving way to more delicate chocolate aromas.  The mouthfeel turned out to be nice and thick with a sticky character coating the mouth.  This is definitely a sweeter imperial stout with awesome chocolate notes on the palate with some roasted malt bitterness to balance it all out.  The malt bitterness proceeds to the finish where it starts to evolve into a coffee-like bitterness which lingers slightly.  The malt complexity in this brew is exceptional and one word I used to describe this brew is decadent.

Of course if the label suggests this being a cigar stout, I would be breaking the law if I didn’t follow up on that.  The brew stands up to the cigar nicely.  With the cigar the chocolate notes deepen and the mouthfeel seemed a bit thicker.  The finished dried out a bit more but overall I enjoyed the pair.  Even though this brew turned out to be a great cigar accompaniment, I would rather save this brew to consume on its own.  I felt like the cigar eventually wore out my palate and dulled the brew towards the end.   


I’m super impressed with this offering from Moylan’s.  Even with being spoiled by some big imperial stouts lately, this brew more than holds it’s own.  I believe the price tag on this is around $6.00 which makes this an even more attractive package.  I  would put this one up close to my beloved Czar.  Awesome!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Throwdown Super Bowl Edition

If you’re a football fan today is the biggest day in football.  Big TVs rule, finger foods abound, and craft brew pours like water.  What’s not to love?  There is even anticipation for Super Bowl commercials.  I remember a few weeks back when the mayor of Boston was talking trash on Colorado craft brew prior to the game Patriots vs Broncos.  While the mayor of Boston clearly has no clue about craft beer, it did bring up an interesting subject.  Now for the Super Bowl throwdown, who has the best beer from their area?  The Patriots are stationed out of Massachusetts (Sam Adams Boston Lager) and New York Giants are out of New Jersey.  I couldn’t find any New Jersey brews available in our area so I had to find some New York brews instead.  I came up with Ommegang BPA and Genesee Cream Ale.  This is obviously not comparing similar styles and is only a subjective taste test meant for entertainment purposes only.  I’m always looking for excuses to try new brews.  Onward my fellow Super Bowl fans!

Representing the New England Patriots:  Boston Lager

First up is an old standby, Sam Adams Boston Lager.  In the current day of gigantic ABV and huge bitterness the Boston Lager is a bit of a craft brew memory.  Sam Adams in general seems to get passed over as good craft brew these days but is nonetheless a solid craft brew company.  The Boston Lager pours a copper color with a nice two fingered head.  The nose gives hint to the floral and earthy hop character that will soon greet you in the body.  There is good malt character up front with notes of bread, grain, and subtle caramel.  The floral hops start in the middle of the palate and persist into the finish.  A toasty malt character is enhanced with the hop bitterness in the middle of the palate and accompanies it into the finish.  The bitterness on the finish is there but is definitely in balance with the malt.  The reason I like this brew so much is the balance.  The brew starts with a very apparent malt character and finishes with a very apparent hop character with bitterness. 

Representing the New York Giants:  Cream Ale and BPA

Next up is Genesee Cream Ale.  I’ve passed on this brew on numerous occasions but am excited to discover a new brew.  This brew pours a pale yellow with a well carbed creamy head perched on top.  The nose is very clean and is very light lager-esque.  It reminds me of something, what is it?  The mouthfeel is decent with a somewhat creamy character.  Malt character is absent initially.  Everything is fairly mute until you start getting a nutty character in the middle of the palate.  It reminds me of peanut butter but I guess you could call it a biscuit character.  The light nutty flavor lasts into the finish with no real bitterness or hop character present.  Oh yes I know what this reminds me of…this is a Red Stripe in New York street clothes.  The Cream Ale did make me reminisce about my Red Stripe only week on vacation but overall this was not a noteworthy brew.

It looks like the Patriots have jumped out to an early lead.  Can the Giants come back with the Ommegang Belgian Pale Ale?  The BPA pours nicely into a snifter with a large and persistent head.  This brew looks seductive in the glass being a hazy tan color.  The nose is good with some yeast character popping through but is not overwhelming.  Just as the head suggested this brew is very well carbed and gives an excellent effervescent mouthfeel.  This brew seems to coat the entire mouth as soon as you take a sip.  The brew is fairly sweet up front but there is no specific character that I can pick out.  A coriander character dances with yeast spice in the middle of the palate.  The effervescent mouthfeel initially is quickly overtaken by the yeast character that dries your mouth into the finish.  Bitterness isn’t apparent until after you swallow, then you pick up some brief hop character in the aftertaste.  The dryness seems to mask the hop character.  There is no doubt this is a well crafted brew.

Final:  Patriots edge out the Giants 28-23

The Boston Lager takes this throwdown home by edging out the BPA.  The Boston Lager exhibits awesome malt character but also displays good hop character.  The BPA starts off well but dries out too much for my liking.  The bottle says this is dry hopped but I didn’t pick up hardly any hop character.  As the BPA warmed, the yeast character became overwhelming and the brew became overly dry.  As a caveat the packaged date on the BPA is 06/03/11 which means the hop character would have suffered greatly by now.  I’m sure fresh BPA is much better, but for now the Boston Lager is the go-to brew in this throwdown.

Super Bowl Brews:
If Boston Lager isn't up your alley here are some suggestions:

New Belgium Kick - I'm absolutely in love with this brew lately
Deschutes Mirror Pond
Schlafly Schwarzbier

Have Happy and Safe Super Bowl Sunday.


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Roasty Toasty Schlafly Schwarzbier

I remember reading about this brew months ago licking my chops in anticipation.  The release finally came to our area and has been here for a couple months.  I’m still seeing it on the store shelves so you should be able to find some of this delicious seasonal brew. 

I had big anticipation for this brew as black lagers/schwarzbiers are quickly becoming one of my favorite styles.  They have the roasted malt character of a stout without the big thick mouthfeel i.e. they are highly drinkable.  Think of it as a diet stout.  The Schlafly pours with a good two fingered off-white head.  Initially there is a prominent roasted nose that gives way to a burnt chocolate aroma.  The mouthfeel is medium in thickness but has a good soft body to it.  Although I did note a medium mouthfeel this brew does have a chewy quality.  The brew starts with a bit of bread and grain up front.  The graininess blends nicely with the roasted malt character in the middle of the palate.  A smoky character then kicks in and lasts into the finish.  The smokiness is there but does not go overboard.  This brew is very drinkable for such a dark/roasted style. 

My anticipation of this brew was rewarded handsomely.  This brew is awesome and might give Sam Adams Black Lager a run for its money.  I also snagged a couple of other Black Lagers I'll be reviewing shortly.