Archive for Ale

79 – Beer School: Shells Pils, Edelherb Pils, Heavy Seas Small Craft and Baltika 7

Last night good friend Uncle Crappy taught Craft Beer School at the Cabaret and joined myself and sickpuppy as alumni teachers for the event. I thought a nice change of pace would be to recap the beers when I attend these events and also give you an idea of what goes on.

Quick recap if you haven’t heard of Beer School before. It’s a 4 class schedule held in the fall and winter/spring at the Cabaret at Theater Square in the heart of Pittsburgh’s Cultural District. Sponsored by Vecenie Distributing Company, it’s $25 a ticket per class and you get 4 beers to sample plus a light fare. For the food, beer and education plus the company it really is a great deal. For more information

Last night we were treated to 4 pilsners that stretched the spectrum so instead of drawing them out over 4 weeks we’ll hit it all up in one shot. Shells Pils, Edelherb Pils, Heavy Seas Small Craft and Baltika 7

  • Shells Pils – Smelled like Bud. tasted like Bud. I could barely stomach it. Thank God I was sharing this with Norm. Spoon rating: D
  • Edelherb Pils – Very crisp and surprising. Mild bite from the hops. Finished a bit dry. Ideal summer session. Spoon rating: C+
  • Heavy Seas Small Craft – This was an imperial pils that lived up to it’s name. To mock the Staples commercial “WOW! Thats a great beer!”. The alcohol was tasted slightly but quickly masked by the muscle punch of flavor of hops and slight sweetness. Incredible experience! Spoon rating: B+
  • Baltika 7 – This was my shocker. I’ve had other Baltika’s and hated them but this was actually very pleasant. if you’re looking at a basic pils to get started into the style I would suggest this one. Very clean, crisp and not overwhelming flavor to get your hopes up on all beers in this style. Spoon rating: B-

Here are pics from WPXI’s “See & Be Seen – Covering the hottest people and events in and around Pittsburgh” from last night’s Beer School. I’m in one pic and sickpup is in 3. Good times 🙂

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77 – Scotch Silly

Slap me silly Sidney

Brasserie de Silly S.A. – Scotch Silly
brewery: Brasserie de Silly S.A. – silly-beer.com
style: Scottish Ale
abv: 8.0%
serving size: 750ml
glass used: snifter
price: $8.99

Overview
It offers a finely wooded nose hinting at hazelnut, and is therefore distinct from traditional British scotches. It has a more rounded taste letting a discreetly full-bodied bitterness come to the fore, and will naturally seduce you.

What I think
The only reason why I bought this beer was due to the name. Sometimes you gotta give in to curiosity. The pour was curious. The head appeared at first like it was sticking around for the long haul but much like the Ottawa Senators defense it vanished fast (haha couldn’t resist. GO PENS!). Unlike most scottish styles I’ve had in the past there was very little malt. Each drink was full of body and slightly bitter but I felt like I was missing something. the finish was too dry for my taste.

Would I buy this again? Eh maybe. Depends on what my other options are. Give it a shot and let me know what you think in the comments below.

Spoon’s rating: C+

Comments

76 – Ommegang Biere de Mars – 2nd Batch March 2008

I never had this style before and it was the last bottle on the shelf so I figured what the heck. A couple days before I opened this I started reading up on the whole Biere de Mars thing since I’ve seen it mentioned in a few articles about other breweries. You can also find this under a style called “Bière de Garde” which I haven’t seen much of in Western PA. For the sake of brevity you can read more about this style on the BJCP website.

Ommegang Biere de Mars – 2nd Batch March 2008
brewery: Ommegang – ommegang.com
style: Belgian Style Amber Ale / Bière de Garde
abv: 6.5%
serving size: 22oz
glass used: snifter
price: $7.99

Overview
Ommegang Bière de Mars is a Belgian-style amber ale with a bit of magical space dust woven in – Brettanomyces bruxellensis, a wild-yeast used in the secondary fermentation. The Brett imparts added tartness, a bit of zing and some farmhouse funkiness. Also dry-hopped, this new ale continues our exploration of using Brett for secondary fermentation in limited-release beers.

Bière de Mars reveals a copper-amber body and a frothy white head that builds, clings and stays. Aromas are of malt and grain, clove, fruit and a bit of funk. Flavors are full-bodied with delicate malty sweetness, followed by spicy, peppery yeastiness and Brett-induced funk. Hopping is subtly bitter and aromatic, bumped up a bit by dry-hopping. The finish is dry and gently lingering. At 6.5% ABV, Bière de Mars offers easy quaffing; it also pairs nicely with spicy foods such as barbecue.

What I think
Would you just look at that pour. Sweet Jesus I had to take a step back and admire that head. Go ahead look at it. Now the aroma… a big whiff of stale malt. Maybe that was the bit of funk they mentioned? Honestly it wasn’t a turn off as it may have been about 3 years ago when I started getting seriously into craft beers. The taste was dry and I picked up a date and very yeasty flavor. This was absolutely a new one for me. The finish was slightly dryer and surprisingly welcoming to a person who normally views dry and boring.

I do have to say that I disagree with the Ommegang website when they say it would “pair nicely with spicy foods such as barbecue.” My bbq is never spicy. I’m a sweet wet mop kinda guy. However I would steam some spicy mussels in it or site down with some of Lushie’s pepper hummus.

Spoon’s rating: B+

Comments (2)

75 – Dark Horse Scotty Karate Scotch Ale

Camera is back in a couple week with corrected white balance. woooooo!

Dark Horse – Scotty Karate Scotch Ale
brewery: Dark Horse – darkhorsebrewery.com
style: Scotch Ale
abv: 9.5%
serving size: 12oz
glass used: pint
price: $2.69

Overview
For those of you who don’t know who “Scotty Karate” is… He is a local one man band who plays an amazing slurry of honky tonk influenced, punk country songs. His voice is amazing as well as his high energy shows. (Check him out @www.scottykarate.com) So, we decided to make a beer and name it in his honor. This beer is a big, full bodied Scottish ale. It is 9.75% alc. but it is very smooth and balanced. Since Scotty is also very passionate about  beer I asked him to write a description for you, so from the man himself…

Aroma: Smells like A fresh caramel apple with a hint of cinnamon inside of cranberry shortbread. Or maybe fresh home made hard candy (from home economics class-7th grade).
Flavor: Tastes like a smokey chocolate chip cookie, wild roadside cherry-asparagus, woody, crispy leaf on a fall day. -SK

Silver medal winner 2007 Great American Beer Festival

What I think
The aroma for me was close to the commercial description with the presence of caramel noticeable as soon as I put the bottle down. The taste was pure malt with a twang of alcohol, a little nut and slight hops. The finish was smooth and a little on the bold side. It packed a wallop and felt great.

For the price, if you don’t pick up a bottle of this to try, you’re a fool. Even if you aren’t fond of the style you MUST give this a try. Besides at less than $3 you can’t lose. That’s 1/2 a pack of smokes and you will feel much better drinking one of these.

Spoon’s rating: A-

Comments

74 – Avery Hog Heaven

On my list of breweries I must visit, Avery is top 5. Part 3 in the Avery series of Holy Trinity of Ales. Lets continue…

Avery – Hog Heaven
brewery: Avery – averybrewing.com
style: Barleywine
abv: 9.2%
serving size: 22oz
glass used: snifter
price: $7.99

Overview
This dangerously drinkable garnet beauty is a hop lover’s delight. The intense dry-hop nose and the alcohol content are perfectly balanced for a caramel candy-like malt finish. This is a serious beer for serious beer afficianados and it only gets better with age. Cellarable for 3 years.

What I think
Before I had this I was ready to fight to the death that barleywines should be banished to someplace evil… like a Flyers fan’s house but I have to admit this surprised the hell out of me. I picked up a slightly strong alcohol aroma which had me nervous at first but then my nose filled with hops. WTf was going on here I thought. The appearance was reminding me more of an IPA with the copper body and creamy head. First drink was a tad strong on the alcohol but hops and malt smoothed this bad boy out. Did I just enjoy a barleywine? Naw couldn’t have. A couple more sips later and I was loving this. It was warming, hoppy and malty which for a winter day was the perfect blend. I’m buying this again and living in fantasy land that its really a DIPA.

Spoon’s rating: A

Comments (2)

73 – Avery Salvation

On my list of breweries I must visit, Avery is top 5. Part 2 in the Avery series of Holy Trinity of Ales. Lets continue…

Avery – Salvation
brewery: Avery – averybrewing.com
style: Belgian Strong Golden Ale
abv: 9.0%
serving size: 22oz
glass used: snifter
price: $7.99

Overview
The success of Hog Heaven and The Reverend clearly demonstrates that beer drinkers are willing to embrace “BIGGER” beers. In the fall of 2001, we decided that a lighter BIG BEER would complement its darker colored predecessors. Salvation has luscious apricot and peach aromas delicately interwoven with spicy suggestions of nutmeg and cinnamon. This heavenly soft, champagne-like elixer is cellarable for 3 years.

What I think
Absolutely gorgeous head and if I ever get the kitchen finished I can get decent lighting back. Appearance is golden and a stellar white lacing once the head settled.  The aroma was straight up Belgian with strong accents of fruit (I could really get peach over anything else) and yeast. Overall flavor had a stronger citrus than I expected but it was enjoyable. For a beverage of this light in color I was a bit thrown off by the medium body. It bounced between thick and medium. Finish was slightly bitter but very clean.

Spoon’s rating: A

Comments

70 – Hoppin Frog Frosted Frog Christmas Ale

Hoppin Frog Frosted Frog Christmas Ale

Located in Akron Ohio, Hoppin Frog has quickly turned into one of my favorite breweries on the east coast. Brewmaster Fred was gracious enough to give us an interview at Steel City Big Pour 2008 and it was love at first hop.

Hoppin Frog Frosted Frog Christmas Ale
brewery: Hoppin Frog – hoppinfrog.com
beer website: Frosted Frog Christmas Ale
style: Winter Warmer
abv: 8.6%
serving size: 22oz
glass used: pint glass
price: $7.99

Overview
The essence of Christmas is captured in this very bottle you are holding. Perfectly blended spices compliment Frosted Frog’s rich malt flavors, creating the ultimate Christmas experience. Celebrate the holidays as you savor this very special seasonal offering.

What I think
Christmas has been over for close to a month now and I’m fed up with winter but one sniff of this warmer and I was ready for a night chillin by the fire. The spices are dominate but not so much in a way you think you’re inhaling potpourri, it’s a  feel like you walked into grandma’s kitchen on Christmas day. First taste… gingerbread. Oh yeah, spoon is having flashbacks to the pretend holidays experiences he never had. Smooth, soothing and a malty finish. Oh heck I’m just gonna say it. It’s like a glass of milk (or soy milk for my lactose intolerant brothers!) and gingerbread men. Ungodly amazing! This did come in a 22oz which by the end I was satisfied and could take a nap… and I did, for 2 hours, it was better than any other nap in the history of naps.  I love you Hoppin Frog! Solid finish with a medium sweetness and mild spice.

Oh yeah, if you’re a homebrewer looking for bottles you want to stock up on these empties. The labels peel off perfectly and leave no glue.

Spoon’s rating: A

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69 – Rogue Santa’s Private Reserve 2008/09


2008 on the left, 2009 on the right.

I do stupid adventurous things even when people tell me not to and this is one of those moments. Actually this was an “I really don’t know what will happen… spoon will do it!”. The 2008 bottle above is left over from the case I bought after Christmas 08 and reviewed. While cleaning my basement I noticed that behind a 6pack of beers I was aging, a few bottles of  2008 Santa’s Private Reserve were hanging out. In the name of science I rushed out to buy the 2009 bottle and see how it would hold up. I was fair and cleansed my palate after each beer. Do not try this at home. You’ll hate yourself. Trust me.

Santa’s Private Reserve
brewery: Rogue Brewing – rogue.com
beer website: Santa’s Private Reserve
style: Red Ale
abv: 6%
serving size: 12oz
glass used: pint glass
price: $41/case in 2008, $3.75 bottle in 2009

Overview
Rogue’s annual holiday offering, Santa’s Private Reserve, is a variation of the classic Saint Rogue Red, but with double the hops–including Chinook, and Centennial, and a mystery hop called Rudolph by head brewer John “more hops” Maier!

What I think
You can probably figure out what happened here. Epic FAIL. I knew that the ABV wasn’t strong enough for it to last and that the style wasn’t right for sitting a year but wtf ever. I drink it so you don’t have to. If you wanna be stupid you gotta be tough.

2008: The nose was a huge bouquet of hops. Hop Heaven I’d even call it. Quickly turned and shot to hop Hell when I drank. Flavor was gone. It was stale. Couldn’t cleanse my palate fast enough. Stomach started to churn and I had more gas than a zeppelin.

2009: Shockingly the nose was almost non existent. I even had Lushie give it a shot and nothing. first taste I had slight hops but that would quickly die. The whole profile I had in review 29 was gone. It was dull with a bitter finish. My once favorite Christmas beer was turned to coal.

Spoon’s rating –  2008: D 2009: – C

Comments (2)

67 – Dogfish Head Squall IPA

Special delivery from Uncle Crappy over the summer, I finally got around to crackin this one open. 2 of my favorite things, Dogfish Head and an IPA. Hopefully I don’t get sea sick.

**I hosted a beer tasting last night at Bocktown Beer & Grill and didn’t get home till way late. If you came out, thanks! If not, chug a Bud as your penance you heathen!**

Dogfish Head Squall
brewery:
Dogfish Head – dogfish.com
beer website: http://www.dogfish.com/brews-spirits/the-brews/occassional-rarities/squall-ipa.htm
style: Imperial IPA
abv: 9.0%
serving size: 750ml
glass used: snifter
price: $11.99

Overview
I could tell you about it but instead I’ll leave it to head pimp of Dogfish Head, Sam Calagioni [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AvtAD3G47i0[/youtube]

What I think
This starts out with an unusual aroma to it. It smells stale. The pour was epic so I was thinking that maybe my smeller was on the fritz. Took a step back and savored the moment because honestly it was beer porn. LOOK at that picture!  It’s heaven… but unfortunately the taste wasn’t. At first was in love with the hop punch to my face but by the time I was done with the first glass it went from “wooohooo!” to “zzzzzzzzzzzzzz!”. That’s right. Boring as all hell. The beer turned bland and I was disappointed. I’d tell you the flavors and all my usual jazz but there was none of that. It ranks up with Killer Penguin boring.

I talked to a few friends about their bottles and the overall opinion was that I may have had a bad one. I know I’m not going to like everything from a brewery but this one felt from the get-go that something was off.  Since this is such a rare beverage to get in SWPA does anyone wanna send me some to revisit 🙂

Spoon’s rating: C –


Comments (6)

64 – Lagunitas Hop Stoopid

It’s time to get a little stoopid!

Lagunitas Hop Stoopid
brewery:
Lagunitas Brewing Company – lagunitas.com
style: Imperial IPA
abv: 8%
serving size: 22oz
glass used: snifter
price: $11.99

Overview
102 I.B.U. – nuff said

What I think
It’s not as bitter as the 102IBU’s make you think it might be. I actually thought the Sam Adams Imperial Pils was much more bitter.

As you can see from the pour above this beer came out pretty much perfect. The aroma on this is hop punch to the face with mild tones of citrus. The bod was a tad on the thick side but pleasant and the hops. Sweet googly moogly was this a freaking hop DREAM. As my buddy Phil would say “beergasm”!  The hops play around with your palate and a nice malty tent fills the rest of your mouth. The finish was like that moment when you kick back, take a deep breath and say “yeah… life is good”. That’s what this beer is.

Spoon’s rating: A+

Comments (5)