Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The weather is miserable...thank goodness there's beer to keep us cool

So far I’ve only drank half of the Dogfish Head but if this heat keeps up the rest will be gone before the weekend is over. In the meantime I’m enjoying a solid warm weather favorite, Groovy Brew, that unfortunately graces our beer fridge a small number of times each year (dang those Minnesota laws).

Generally I prefer more strongly flavored beers but this is one of the few exceptions. There isn’t a ton of aroma and upon first entering my mouth there seems to be something lager-ish going on but if finishes smooth, balanced and slightly sweet. Plus it’s got a cool label!

Since I was near the computer with a little time to kill I figured maybe I should consult the experts to see what kind of beer they call this. Wanna guess? Bet you can’t. The answer is Kolsch. So I was right on detecting some lager notes. I like to be right but more than that I love a great beer. Next time you make a run across the border you really should pick some of this up, if for no other reason than to have it for me to drink when I come over.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Home is where the good beer is

Back in the comforts (aka nearby beer fridge) of home it’s time to crack into some of the treats picked up with Kat & Scott last Sunday in Wisconsin. The first to grace my glass is Dogfish Head’s Festina Peche. At Chicone’s I only read “malt beverage brewed with peach concentrate” but as I opened it this afternoon I searched further for a more expanded description and found “Festina Peche is a neo-Berliner style Weisse fermented with peach juice.” Hmmmm...weisse…not generally one of my favorite styles but it’s already purchased so there’s no turning back now. The color is reminiscent of freshly squeezed lemonade, without the pulp, and the first sip was very tart, almost bordering on sour. Halfway through my first bottle, I’m sold on this beer! It’s light, refreshing and at only 4.5% abv I think I’ll easily make it through the four-pack. Now the question is, will I leave any for Mag to sample?

San Fran Part 2

As it turns out I was able to find time to try my remaining two brews, but after enjoying both of the pale ales, they were a letdown. The Firestone DBA (Double Barrel Ale) by Firestone Walker was nothing memorable and a bit too sweet for my liking. According to their website the have a “Passion for Pales” and this one is supposed to be a British Pale Ale made in their patented Firestone Union oak barrels.

The Black Butte Porter from Deschutes Brewery had a mild smoke aroma and reminded me quite a lot of Guinness. Not being a fan of Guinness this wouldn’t be one I’d purchase again. That being said, I think if this beer were served on nitro it could be quite nice. Out of a bottle it just doesn’t quite cut it for me.

In addition, at a good Vietnamese restaurant in the Ferry Building called The Slanted Door offered me the opportunity to try Biere de Miel, a Belgian bottle-conditioned honey ale. It’s a top fermentation beer with refermentation in the bottle and as expected it came in a very heavy bottle. I wasn’t sure I was going to like it as Belgians can be hit or miss for me but I was pleasantly surprised. I’ll have to keep my eyes out for this to see if anyone locally carries it.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

So Now I'm in San Fran for Work

The flight is a bit longer than to DC, but worth it. The weather's better, the hotel gave me decent beer in my room (Anchor Steam) and just across the street there's a liquor store, a place selling bubble tea AND Taco Hell.

Yesterday afternoon I picked up four brews not available in MN to try out: Fire Rock Pale Ale from Kona Brewing, Firestone DBA from Firestone Walker Brewing Company and two from Deschutes Brewing- Mirror Pond Pale Ale and Black Butte Porter.

So far I've tried the Fire Rock Pale Ale and the Mirror Pond Pale Ale. Both were quite good with the Fire Rock being a bit sweeter and stronger flavored overall. The Mirror Pond is certainly a session beer...too bad I don't have a session to enjoy it in. At this point I'll just be happy to crack into the other two before leaving tomorrow.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Coffee and beer…what a lovely combination

Last night the four of us headed over to MacKenzie for Furthermore’s release of Oscura. We got there before the 7:00 release and I was pleased to find that they still had some Surly Coffee Bender and Two from the night before, as I’d been too lazy to make it there two nights in a row. Coffee Bender is one of my favorites so I enjoyed a pint of that before switching over to Furthermore for the night. Chris made it there just in time for the tapping of Oscura as he’d had another Furthermore event at Zip’s at 5:00.

I love Coffee Bender and am always pleased when it turns up somewhere, but Oscura really blew me away. I don’t think I’ve ever had a coffee beer that was this smooth, both in flavor and mouthfeel. Steve thought maybe this was the result of the maize used and having not ever had a beer like this before I’m willing to go along with that. Furthermore describes this beer as warm-fermented and cold-lagered. However it came to be I hope they keep making this one!

In addition to the Oscura tapping they were also giving samples of their Knot Stock, Three Feet Deep and Proper. I hadn’t had the Proper before and will have to try it another day to give it a fair chance. After Coffee Bender, Knot Stock and who knows how many Oscuras my palate wasn’t in any state to appreciate the subtleties of this beer.

The turnout for this event was better and probably more suited to the beer than the Fatty Boombalatty one a Harvey’s (before it became the Ugly Mug) a couple months ago. I’m glad Furthermore is still pursuing this market, even will all the distributor issues of late. Can’t wait to wear my new Grrrl T out soon…thanks Chris!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Notes from The Cellars

I stayed away as long as I could but on this warm Friday afternoon I could no longer resist. It was time to see what goodies were waiting for me at The Cellars in Eagan. In addition to goodies, I found out a few things I feel compelled to pass along.

  1. There is still some Surly Bitter Brewer to be found although Cellars is down to their last two cases.
  2. Dark Horse is pulling out of the local market. This is both good and bad news. Bad because we won't be able to get it any more but good because the reason is the demand for their products is more than they can handle. Let's hope that demand continues so they can expand and return to the Twin Cities in the future. For now, if you see it.
  3. The new Flat Earth labels are cool! (yes, I know, it's been a while since I've been to the store)
  4. The Cellars is carrying five of the Southern Tier brews- Cherry Saison (also to be found on tap at Town Hall), Heavy Weizen (Imperial unfiltered wheat), a barleywine, Unearthly (an Imperial IPA) and an Imperial EPA (which I picked up).

Ok, now that I've done my good deed for the day, it's time to start the weekend...with a Bitter Brewer!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

So I'm in DC for work

And I’m doing my best to find some decent beer to drink. I got into town on Saturday and had dinner at a pretty good Mexican joint, however being a Mexican joint meant only Mexican beers to choose from so I ended up with a Negro Modelo and a Dos Equis Amber. Neither were bad, neither were great but the table side made guac was excellent!

Sunday night dinner was a working function and a totally Kosher meal. I believe there are a few Kosher beers out there but none to be found that night. Instead I had an ok, but drinkable red and a surprisingly pleasant white. My boss, as much a wine connoisseur as I am one of beer, said it was very “oaky.” Guess I like oaky wines.

Monday I had a little time to spare after my time with the treadmill so I ended up in the hotel lounge that had a limited selection so I went with a 22 oz can of Sapporo. It wasn’t bad, especially since I think it’s a lager. There weren’t any really strong lager flavors or aroma and none of the aftertaste. Being late afternoon in a lounge they brought out a bowl of salted nuts and assorted olives. Both yummy but the surprising part was I found out the olives went very, very well with the Sapporo.

Monday night was another working function but this time I was able to get beer- Oak Barrel Stout by Old Dominion in Ashburn, VA and Mount Vernon Harvest Ale brewed by the same folks (this was at the Mount Vernon Inn). The stout was niiiiice, chocolately, smooth and not too sweet. My only complaint would be that I was drinking it in the summer instead of a cold, winter day. The Harvest Ale wasn’t so good but that might be because I’m not an Oktoberfest fan.

Tuesday, the meeting’s nearly over and during a non-working lunch of sushi and cheese I had another Sapporo (don’t worry, there’s been no converting here, it’s just there’s so little beer to choose from here!). I found an even better thing to consume with a Sapporo…ginger. The kind of ginger that’s served with sushi. This might even be a combination I would seek out, well, if my beer choices were limited like this again.

In about 24 hours I should be on a plane headed back to good beer. I hope Mag’s ready to go out or at least sit home and have a few beers with me because I’m gonna need something good to drink by then. Oh yeah, and as soon as I get home my weekend starts so why not start it off right with a great brew?