Saturday, February 9, 2013

Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous

Sublimely Self-Righteous is a Black IPA (emphasis on BLACK!) by Stone Brewing Company. I don't think this this beer really needs any more introduction than that. Let's get to it.

This beer is black. Jet black, even. When held up to light, there is a deep, reddish amber around the edges of the glass, but not much light is getting through. It pours with an average amount of head and lacing is very good. This beer is definitely eye candy.

But it's beer, so it's not made to look at; it's made to drink. And you want to drink this one. Like all Stone beers, this is a beer that really pushes the envelope a particular style. This is an IPA, and it's a beer by Stone, so the hops really hit you in the face. But there is also a nice balance with the malts as well. I really enjoy the blend of coffee and caramel flavors in the malts. It finishes a dry, and at 8.7% ABV, there's only a slight burn from the alcohol. The hops, though, do linger a bit on the pallet.

This beer is a masterpiece, and yet another gem by Stone Brewing. If you're a beer-lover and have never had Sublimely Self-Righteous, do yourself a favor and do so immediately!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Southern Tier Double Milk Stout

As the weather outside begins to chill, it's time to warm up to a good stout. Tonight, my choice is Southern Tier's Double Milk Stout. The stout is not a beer style I have always enjoyed, but I find that I'm liking them more and more. This is my first milk stout, and I'd say it was good choice.

For anyone not familiar with milk stouts, it's essentially a stout that contains lactose. The lactose (sugar from milk which does not ferment in the beer) adds body and sweetness to the beer.

Double Milk Stout, or 2X Stout as it's labeled, is very dark with a slight amber tint. My pour had minimal head and lacing, but I'm willing to chalk that up to user error. I don't exactly pride myself on exceptional pouring skills. There is a lot going on in the aroma, and if I had to describe it in one word, it would be "chewy." It smells very robust with lots of chocolate and coffee, but there is also a roastiness present.

One of the features that attracts me stouts is the smoothness, and Southern Tier has nailed it with this milk stout. It feels thicker than it looks and it goes down silky smooth. The aroma does not betray the flavor either; there is plenty of chocolate and coffee present. However, the flavors are very well balanced and I don't feel overwhelmed by any one flavor in particular. It is very malty and lightly hopped, and I detect a very slight alcohol warmth on the finish.

I don't have a fireplace, but I imagine this would be a great beer for a cold night in front of the fire. I plan to pair my next bottle with dark chocolate. If you're fan of stouts and have not tried Southern Tier's Double Milk Stout, I recommend giving it a shot. If you have, what did you think?

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Bison Brewing Gingerbread Ale

We are well into November, which means the Winter seasonal beers have begun to hit the shelves. It's still a bit early in season for my tastes considering the weather is still considerably mild, but I love Winter seasonals so I'm not going to pass them up. My first purchase of the season included Gingerbread Ale from Bison Brewing.

This beer is really dark and pours relatively heavy with a ton of head. The aroma is dark and roasty with some hints of chocolate and caramel. There are also some spicy notes as well, such as cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. It is a full and festive aroma that makes me eager to dive in for a sip.

The first thing I noticed about this beer is how incredibly smooth it is. It does not feel quite as thick as it looks, and in fact, it feels a bit watery. There is plenty of flavor, though, to distract me from this shortcoming. The dark malts take center stage here, but there is a bit of spiciness. The cinnamon and nutmeg give this beer the festive, seasonal flavor that I enjoy, and the ginger is very subtle and not at all overpowering. The first bottle I had tasted a bit boring, but I drank it directly from the refrigerator. The second bottle I drank at slightly above refrigerated temperature and the flavor was much more full and exciting.

This is the first offering from Bison Brewing that I've tired, so I do have a benchmark by which to judge this beer, but it is a solid seasonal. Also, it's USDA certified organic, if you're into that sort of thing. I mention this last because this is a good beer that happens to be organic rather than a beer that is good despite begin organic. While it won't top my list of Winter seasonal beers, it is certainly worth another drink.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Avery Brewing IPA

It's no secret at this point that I love IPAs. Avery, however, was not a brewery that I was familiar with until very recently. I was at a local pub and they happened to have Avery IPA on tap, and since I'm always up for trying a new IPA I gave it a shot. In short, I loved it, but when I when back, they had switched the tap to Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA (which is not at all a bad thing). Yesterday, whilst perusing World Market, I spotted, much to my delight, a six-pack of Avery IPA. $9.99 later, I was a happy man.

Avery IPA looks just like what you would expect from a really good IPA; rich, amber color with lots of creamy, white head. Head retention and lacing are above average. What really strikes me about this beer's appearance, however, is just how crystal clear it is, as you can see from the photo above.

The aroma is heavy with caramel malt and citrus fruitiness. There is certainly some hops present, but mostly this is a sweet-smelling beer. Much of the aroma comes out in the palate as well. The beer is sweet with plenty of caramel and citrus flavors. The bite from the hops is not nearly as intense as some other IPAs I've had, but I don't necessarily consider that a bad thing for this beer. It has as smooth, creamy texture that makes it an extremely easy beer to drink. Also, this beer lacks some of the warmth from the alcohol that you experience with, say, a Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA.

I love a good IPA, and this is certainly a good IPA. It may not pack the same punch as some other really intense IPAs, but I think I like it for that very reason. The flavor has everything I love about an IPA without being so intense that I feel like my taste buds are fried after just a couple glasses/bottles. This is an IPA I feel I could easily drink two or three of and still thoroughly enjoy. One final note, I've had Avery IPA both on tap and from a bottle and I much prefer it on tap. So, if you've tried Avery IPA, let me know what you think, and if not, go out and get some.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Homebrew Batch 3

For Fathers' Day my wife bought me a new brewing kit with the necessary ingredients to brew an American Pale Ale. Although we already have all the basic equipment we need for brewing, this kit is a little different. The most significant difference in this set-up versus our previous is it came with a 1-gallon carboy rather than a 5-gallon bucket. Our plan is to start creating our own recipes soon, so the advantage to the smaller carboy is that we can easily create much smaller batches, minimizing the potential cost of a bad batch dumped down the drain. We can now play around with very small batches until we find something we like, then scale it up to a 5-gallon (or larger) batch.

Brew-day for this batch was pretty straightforward and we did not deviate from the recipe like we did on the previous batch. The kit came with a partial grain pale ale recipe very similar to our first batch. The big difference with this batch is the kit included solid extract rather than the liquid that we're used to. We did not find the solid extract to be any easier or more difficult to work with than the liquid. However, when adding the solid extract to the boil, it is important to remember to add it slowly and keep stirring, lest you end up with large clumps floating in the wort.

The photo above was taken about 24 hours into fermentation and you can see that it is still quite cloudy. Much of the sediment in the beer has fallen to the bottom of the carboy, so as of this post the beer is much clearer and it has a nice amber color. It has been fermenting for about 5 days now, and will continue to ferment for about another 5-7 days prior to bottling. The exciting part about using a carboy is that you can see what your beer looks like during the fermentation. This, of course, isn't possible when we're using 5-gallon plastic buckets. While I'm certainly excited about this batch (I get excited for every batch), I'm really excited about the many possibilities for our own future creations.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

My First Growler

I have considered myself to be a beer enthusiast for quite some time. I have tried hundreds craft beers from scores of breweries, I have studied the many styles of beer, and I have even brewed my own. However, I've never owned a growler, which is a must-have for any true beer enthusiast.

I picked up my first growler a couple weekends ago while in Rochester, New York. I went to a local grocery store in search a particular beer that is not available in Columbus and, unfortunately, struck out. However, I didn't leave empty-handed. Just before settling on a 6-pack of Summer Shandy (never a bad choice in it's own right given the heat), I notice an entire section of growlers from a local brewery, Rohrbach's Brewing Company. This was an unusual sight for me because I'm not aware any grocery stores in Columbus that sell growlers. The store had about a half dozen choices, and I chose the Railroad Street IPA.

Railroad Street IPA poured an amber, copper color with minimal head and retention. There was a fair amount of lacing left on the glass, though. The aroma was fairly true to style with plenty of citruy hops, but it was also had a distinct caramel malt note. The flavor followed the aroma pretty closely, having a heavier malt flavor than I expected for an IPA (granted, I should have been prepared for this given the description on the label). My overall impression is that this is a good beer and I'd be happy to drink it again, although it won't rank near the top of my favorite IPA's.

Now that I've finished off the Railroad Street IPA, it's time to go out and put my new growler to good use. There are a number of brewpubs, restaurants and specialty shops in and around the Columbus area that sell and fill growlers and, since I'm generally partial to beer on tap, I'm looking forward to the opportunity to enjoy draught beer at home.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Magic Hat #9

Magic Hat #9 was one of my very first forays into craft beer, and for that reason it holds special place in my heart. I'm not willing to go so far as to call this a world-class beer, because it isn't, but from my very first bottle many years ago, it has remained one of my all-time favorites.

It pour amber with a very slight haze. My pour yielded at least two fingers worth of frothy head, but retention and lacing are not great. I won't be too critical about appearance with this beer, though, because usually just drink it from the bottle.

The aroma is highly fruity with apricot and papaya being the most prominent. There are also some citrus and floral notes present along with a light malt scent.

Taste pretty much mirrors the nose. It's definitely fruity but not overly sweet. The apricot is the most noticeable fruit flavor, but there is also some of the papaya from the aroma as well as some citrus. It is very lightly hoped and the slight bitterness is reminiscent of grapefruit. It is lightly carbonated and extremely smooth.

While I acknowledge that most would probably rate this beer as average, this has been a favorite of mine since I started drinking craft beer and it remains one of my "go-to" beers. Although it is available year-round, its general lightness and fruit flavor make it perfectly refreshing on a hot summer day. I realize this is high praise, but if I could only drink five beer for the rest of my life, #9 would be one of them.