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

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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

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72 – Avery The Reverend

This is from the now infamous $400 Beer Run that sickpuppy and I took to Vintage Estate in Boardman, Ohio; the mecca of beer stores. I love Avery and having a name like Father Spoon this is a given.

Avery – The Reverend
brewery: Avery – averybrewing.com
style: Quadruple
abv: 10.0%
serving size: 22oz
glass used: pint glass
price: $6.99

Overview
The Reverend, was created in tribute to the life of Sales Mgr. Tom Boogaard’s grandfather, an ordained Episcopal Reverend. Tom was inspired by the life of his grandfather and wanted to create a tribute beer that contained his sterling traits. True to both our “small brewery, BIG BEERS” philosophy and to the spirit and character of the departed Reverend, this beer is strong willed, assertive, and pure of heart, a heart of candy sugar. It contains as many authentic imported Belgian specialty malts as the brewers could cram into our mash tun, and lots of Belgian dark candy sugar stirred into the brew kettle. A divinely complex and beautifully layered beer with hints of dark cherries, currants, and molasses, complimented by an underlying spiciness. Sinfully smooth considering the high alcohol content. Cellarable for up to 4 years.

What I think
Lets be honest, if you’re drinking a Quad there’s a good chance there is only 1 unless you want to get seriously tuned up. I’ve tolerated Belgians before because I had to for reviews but not until recently has the flavor profile started to appeal to me. This one… sweet jesus almihght you need to pray to the Reverend.

The appearance was darker than I was expecting. I wasn’t expecting it to be a shade of amber but was pleasantly surprised at the grace of the head forming. The white balance was a bit off in that picture but none the less it was a creamy head. The body smacked me in the face. It was a tad on the thick side and quickly coated my palate with a syrup like feel. Surprisingly I enjoyed it… over and over and over again. The finish gave me some alcohol kick but thing that wouldn’t soon wash away with the next drink.

Spoon’s rating: A

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site update

Many of you have emailed me asking what is going on since I would post religiously. Well that picture above, that happened. I’m based in Pittsburgh and shortly after that last post we got slammed with over 2ft of snow (I measured 42inches in my backyard)  that left the city in a state of emergency which I believe was extended again. I’ve had severe water damage at the house far beyond that ceiling and we’re still cleaning up.

Since this weekend is my birthday (I remember when 34 was considered old) I’m taking some time for myself and getting reviews done. So I’m drinking, you’re getting reviews, everyone wins.

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71 – Brew Kettle Dark Helmet Imperial Schwarzbier

This is from the now infamous $400 Beer Run that sickpuppy and I took to Vintage Estate in Boardman, Ohio; the mecca of beer stores. This was bought solely because of the name and label.

Brew Kettle Dark Helmet
brewery: The Brew Kettle Taproom and Smokehouse – thebrewkettle.com
style: Schwarzbier
abv: 9.0%
serving size: 22oz
glass used: pint glass
price: $6.99

Overview
A Ringneck original, Imperial Schwarzbier is a German style black lager, kicked up at least one notch,
maybe two!

What I think
For an impulse buy it wasn’t bad. The pour was very dark and head vanished really quick but did stick around for a photo. Slight aroma of a sweet malt but it was more on the weak end. The body was fairly light and really seemed bland. It had a few moments where a roastedness would spring to life and like a quick sugar rush it crashed hard. Buy it for a novelty and try it out. Above and beyond that save it for a a beer you’d watch while watching the game after dinner.  You don’t have to think while drinking.

Spoon’s rating: C+

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The $400 beer run – Vintage Estate Wine & Beer

Upon reading an article in the Post Gazette we found out that Vintage Estate in Boardman, Ohio was ranked as the number 1 beer store in the world. You read that correctly, THE WORLD… in Boardman, Ohio! If you’ve never been to Boardman its basically strip mall heaven. Take Upper Peach in Erie or say 19 in Cranberry and multiply that by 10.

We’ve always heard about this place but never traveled. I guess we thought it was farther than it really is plus we think “Ohio? that’s another goddamn state!” (see, I’m a geography whiz). Turns out that it’s only 30 minutes from Cranberry TWP where we have SIDT Studio A. That’s right, it’s faster for us to get to Boardman than it is to Monroeville, Murrysville or anything in the South Hills.

We arrive shortly before 7pm at a store front that looks the size of Bocktown. Walking in the clouds parted and angels sang from the heavens. Immediately to our right were shelves of beers that we have never seen in PA; most importantly The Bruery.

That gives you a rough layout of the store. Its wall to wall beer and even more wine in the middle.  There is a tasting table in the back and also a bar in a side room that serves drafts and incredible flatbread. You can purchase a bottle and drink it in store but someone at the bar has to open it for you plus there is a small corking fee. Even with that the prices were considerably cheaper than PA. Keep in mind PA’s bullshit system for selling beer and the incredibly high tax (Johnstown flood was 74 years ago and we still pay on it). Hopslam in Pgh – $4.75/bottle | at Vintage Estate $2.99.

Vintage Estate is beer heaven and you need to visit. They have roughly 748 different beers and I would say 80% are ones we can’t get in PA. Its a short drive and if your significant other is giving you grief there are strip malls galore to keep them occupied. Downside, your beer wont be stronger than 12%abv. You’re not getting DFH 120 Minute here.

Here you go… The Beer List (some were doubles and triples):

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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

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Updates

sup

No the rumors of my death due to drinking an American Light Lager have been GREAT exaggerated. I’ve taken a vacation and thought I was slick enough to post that on here but obviously I suck and auto post never happened.

I’ve spent these last few weeks traveling around and I have picked up some interesting beverages that I’ll be cracking open this weekend. I also had an interesting trip to one of the Giant Eagle’s that recently got their beer license. Yeah, not a pleasant experience.

Finally, and probably the coolest of all updates, I was interviewed by… well wait. I don’t think I can talk about it yet. It’ll happen in early 2010.

Enjoy the new year and I’ll see you on Jan 6th with review 69!

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68 – King Cool Light

I know what you’re thinking. Spoon, a gimmick beer? wtf!  I couldn’t resist. If I want to have a justified opinion I need to taste it for myself otherwise I’m just as lame as those cowboy Bud/Coors/Busch drinkers. Yeeehaw!

Think you may know who Donnie Iris is but not 100% sure? Watch this for your flashback.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SyTu_ZdcBCo[/youtube]

Yes, THAT Donnie Iris made his own beer.

King Cool Light
brewery:
Lion Brewing – lionbrewery.com
beer website: kingcool.com
style: Lite American Lager
abv: N/A
serving size: 12oz
glass used: pint
price: $2.75

Overview
King Cool Light – A Light American Lager made with the finest two- and six-row barley and a perfect blend of American and European hops. A touch of caramel malt gives it its brilliant amber color and rare flavor.

Brewed in the finest rock ‘n roll tradition of uncompromising quality, this is my signature beer and I hope you enjoy it. Cheers!  ~Donnie Iris

What I think
Here’s your only warning, its a twist cap.

Shocked at the quality of head on the pour. Thumbs up for visual appeal. There is virtually no aroma on this beer but I was able to pick up a faint grain. Now for the real test, the taste.  “It’s Donnie Iris for christ’s sake, it can’t be THAT good. It’s a damn gimmick beer” I’m thinking along with “I’m gonna have to chug this.”

STOP THE PRESSES! This actually isn’t THAT bad for its style.  The beer claims to be an American Lite Lager and while I think it had too much malt for that classification it was light, crisp and refreshing. The malt was seriously dominant and reminded me of a light bodied dopplebock. For awhile there I thought I was getting some banana.

I think this beer will have a mass appeal and the low alcohol level (for a Lite American Lager it can’t be over 4.2% ABV) is also going to make this a popular lawnmower/tailgating beer.

At the end of the day I would take this over Yuengling on most occasions and I give it a higher than “C” rating because I really enjoyed it. *sigh* Donnie what have you done to me!

Spoon’s rating: B –


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