Billy's Beer Blog http://www.billysbeerblog.com A Layman's Guide to Great Beer Tue, 01 Feb 2011 12:08:47 +0000 en hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.0.1 Tapapalooza http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2011/01/tapapalooza/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2011/01/tapapalooza/#comments Tue, 01 Feb 2011 03:45:28 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=4841

Brewer extraordinaire Wayne Wambles held a Q&A session...

while the rest of us enjoyed CCB's finest such as Vanilla Maduro Oatmeal Brown Ale

It was a festive day on Saturday when Mr. Beery’s hosted the Cigar City Total Tap Takeover. Indeed, word of this stupendous event traveled fast, and the crowd on hand included many a beer aficionado from around the country, in addition to local residents already familiar with the world renowned brewery.

In general, the brewery, which celebrates its second anniversary in March, took over all 25 taps at Mr. Beery’s, serving their line of beers from old favorites such as Hunahpu and Jai Lai to new offerings not yet available either commercially or at the Tasting Room in Tampa. There was even a private tasting held for those of us willing to pay the $60 admission, which included a lecture and Q&A session from CCB brewer Wayne Wambles. Wayne gave an overview of the history of the brewery, its craft beers, and what’s in store now and in the future. It was a fascinating session, and we were given a great insight into the workings of one of the world’s top five breweries.

After the private tasting, the doors were open to the general public, who mobbed the bar eager to try the 25 beers on tap. As noted, many of us got to try something new.

Cigar City Vanilla Maduro Oatmeal Brown Ale; Cigar City Brewing; Tampa, FL; American Brown Ale; ABV: 5.5. A smooth and rich tasting brown ale with hearty notes of oatmeal, vanilla spices, sweet caramel, and milk chocolate. My lead-off beer.

Cigar City Vuja De; Cigar City Brewing; Tampa, FL; American Wild Ale; ABV: 9.9. This delicious sour ale is a collaboration between CCB & rising Tarpon Springs brewer St. Somewhere. Chestnut in color, with big notes of tart fruit such as elderberries and black currants complimented by hints of caramel, roasted malt, and spices. Essentially, Vuja De is a higher alcohol version of Sea Bass with a nice dry finish.

Cigar City White Oak Jai Lai with Papaya and Peppercorn; Cigar City Brewing; Tampa, FL; India Pale Ale; ABV: 7.5. Say that 10 times! A funky variation of CCB’s exceptional Jai Lai IPA. Dark amber in color, with notes of piny hops and malt balanced by papaya and a hint of peppercorn on the back end.

Cigar City Asian Saison; Cigar City Brewing; Tampa, FL; Saison / Farmhouse Ale; ABV: 7.0. An wonderfully eclectic farmhouse ale. Golden in color with notes of citrusy fruit, toasted seawood, and an array of 5 Chinese spices.

Cigar City Spicy Plum Sour Ale; Cigar City Brewing; Tampa, FL; American Wild Ale; ABV: 8.0. A truly sublime sour ale. Substantial notes of plums and spices, backed by citrusy fruit such as apples, with a hint of tart cherries at the finish. Quite potent.

Cigar City Palm Ridge Reserve Barrel Aged Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Brown; Cigar City Brewing; Tampa, FL; American Brown Ale; ABV: 5.5. My favorite of the night on tap. Dark brown in color, with rich notes of sweet caramel and oatmeal raisin balanced by roasted malt and spices with a bourbon kick at the finish.

Cigar City Warmer Winter Winter Warmer Firkin; Cigar City Brewing; Tampa, FL; Barley Wine; ABV: 10.0. A smooth, full-bodied barley wine. Copper in color, with notes of sweet caramel and vanilla spices balanced by piny hops at the end. The double digit alcohol content is well hidden.

Cigar City Apple Brandy Barrel Aged Warmer Winter Winter Warmer; Cigar City Brewing; Tampa, FL; Old Ale; ABV: 7.5. An old ale crafted in the classic English tradition. Considerable notes of sweet caramel and toffee complimented by apples and vanilla spices with a nice brandy backbone from the barrel aging.

It should also be noted that the event marked the one year anniversary of Mr. Beery’s opening in Sarasota. I congratulate Mark and the gang, and thank Cigar City Brewing for working with Mr. Beery’s to make this tasting possible. Both of you have made the Tampa Bay area a more rewarding place for craft beer.

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Il Cane Nostra http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2011/01/il-cane-nostra/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2011/01/il-cane-nostra/#comments Fri, 21 Jan 2011 00:56:00 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=4771

The Dogfather is an offer I can't refuse

I stopped by Mr. Beery’s the other evening for Beer Nerd Night. My offering for the gang was an imperial stout from a brewery known for its excellent IPAs such as Devil Dog and DogZilla.

Laughing Dog Bourbon Barrel Aged The Dogfather Imperial Stout (Laughing Dog Brewing; Ponderay, ID; Imperial Stout; ABV: 11.0) is a seasonal offering from the Idaho brewery. The Dogfather is jet black in color, with hardy notes of chocolate and toffee complimented by dark fruit and vanilla spices with a significant bourbon backbone. This is a smooth, extremely well balanced beer, and despite the bourbon presence, the alcohol content is well concealed. It’s easy to get whacked by The Dogfather if you’re not careful!

For fans of imperial stouts, The Dogfather is an offer you can’t refuse.

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The Sludge Report http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2011/01/the-sludge-report/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2011/01/the-sludge-report/#comments Sat, 15 Jan 2011 19:42:35 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=4706

Toxic Sludge is for the birds...in a good way

I’ve been wanting to try a black IPA from one of my favorite breweries recently, and saw that Growlers had it on tap. I stopped by the pub the other night and ordered a pint.

Blue Point Toxic Sludge (Blue Point Brewing; Patchogue, NY; Black India Pale Ale; ABV: 7.0) is a smooth, easy drinking ale. Mocha in color, it has appreciable notes of caramel malt and chocolate balanced by grassy hops with a slightly bitter finish. There’s a hint of citrusy fruit in the backbone, such as grapefruit, that compliments the beer. Toxic Sludge has a somewhat lighter feel to it compared to others in its style, such as Cigar City Or, but nevertheless is a very enjoyable black IPA.

Blue Point donates 100% of the net proceeds from Toxic Sludge to Delaware-based Tri-State Bird Rescue and Research, in order to fund their Spreading Our Wings Campaign and long term efforts to build a Wildlife Response Annex. Please visit their website at www.tristatebird.org to learn more.

I strongly suggest giving Toxic Sludge a try; this is one time when “for the birds” is a good thing.

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Something To Crow About http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2011/01/something-to-crow-about/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2011/01/something-to-crow-about/#comments Thu, 13 Jan 2011 02:06:18 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=4579

Blitzkrieg was right on target


The aptly named Hopfest is Darren The Mad Zymurgist's latest creation

Ladies and gentlemen, there’s a brand new brewery in Sarasota. And I can definitely say that it’s worth crowing about!

The Mad Crow Brewery & Grill opened its doors last Thursday, and I stopped by the other day to give it a try. In addition to crafting their own ales, the brewery has an eclectic artisan’s menu ranging from mussels and duck hot dogs to Arctic char and a beef shank that serves 6-8 people. There’s even a appetizer on the menu that features bone marrow! For the less adventurous, there’s also standard pub fare such as bangers on a bun and fried mac & cheese.

I ordered a smoked cheddar grilled cheese sandwich, with a side salad, then talked beer with Darren Fehring, the brewery’s resident Zymurgist, and Jeff behind the bar. The first beer that I had was Mad Crow Blitzkrieg (Mad Crow Brewery & Grill; Sarasota, FL; Marzen; ABV: 7.2), which is their German style offering. Caramel in color, it’s a smooth well balanced beer with big notes of sweet malt and spices. The alcohol content is more than 7% is well concealed, and Blitzkrieg has the feel of a session beer, albeit a robust one. Per Jeff, this has been their most popular beer to date.

Darren, who hails from New Hampshire and has been brewing for more than 20 years, decided to escape the New England winters and set up shop here. He brought out a sample of his latest creation, Mad Crow Hopfest (Mad Crow Brewery & Grill; Sarasota, FL; India Pale Ale; ABV: 8.2) for us to try. Amber in color, it’s a hop head’s dream with several varieties of hops, such as Cascade and Amarillo, complimented by fine notes of Brettanomyces yeast, with a crisp clean finish. Like Blitzkrieg, the alcohol content of this ale isn’t very noticeable.

I finished up by trying a sampler of several other brews currently on tap. Among them:

Mad Crow Winter Wheat; Mad Crow Brewery & Grill; Sarasota, FL; American Pale Wheat Ale; ABV: 5.5. Brewed for the Winter, this golden wheat ale has a smoother, more full-bodied taste than traditional wheat beers.

Mad Crow Oatmeal X; Mad Crow Brewery & Grill; Sarasota, FL; American Amber / Red Ale; ABV: 5.2. The first beer of Mad Crow’s experimental series, this amber ale has hearty notes of flaked oats balanced by a malty backbone. Delicious!

Mad Crow Hoppin’ Mad; Mad Crow Brewery & Grill; Sarasota, FL; American Pale Ale; ABV: 5.5. This APA has rich hoppy notes and makes an excellent session beer.

Mad Crow Perseverance Porter; Mad Crow Brewery & Grill; Sarasota, FL; Porter; ABV: 5.5. A blend between a porter and a pale ale, Perseverance has hardy notes of chocolate and coffee and is velvety smooth from start to finish. The first batch brewed by Mad Crow, hence the name. Darren said that he’d take the “Pepsi Challenge” with his porter against all comers, and I think that Perseverance would more than hold its own.

Ales, artisan dishes, and ambiance…what more can you ask for? The Mad Crow Grill & Brewery will appeal to beer lovers and foodies alike.

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A Devilishly Good Beer http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2011/01/a-devilishly-good-beer/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2011/01/a-devilishly-good-beer/#comments Sat, 08 Jan 2011 02:50:28 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=4520

Even good boys & girls will welcome this Krampus

The Krampus is a mythical creature whose origin dates back to folktales from the Alpine countries. Resembling a devil, he was said to accompany Santa Claus on Xmas eve, giving lumps of coal and the like to the naughty, while good ole St. Nick doled out presents to those who were nice. Fortunately for us, there’s a pilsener out there that even good boys and girls would love in their stockings!

Southern Tier Krampus (Southern Tier Brewing Co.; Lakewood, NY; Imperial Pilsener; ABV: 9.0) is one wickedly delicious Imperial Helles Lager. Clear copper in color, it has monstrous notes of citrusy and piny hops, complimented by caramel malt and dark fruit. Krampus is finished with lager yeast and aged cold for 30 days. The hoppy presence and sweet malty backbone are perfectly balanced throughout this pilsener, leading to a crisp clean finish.

I highly recommend Krampus whether you’re naughty or nice.

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Speaking of Christmas Bells http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/12/speaking-of-christmas-bells/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/12/speaking-of-christmas-bells/#comments Fri, 31 Dec 2010 20:21:08 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=4484

Bell's Christmas Ale is a nice way to ring in the holidays

I met my friends Brad and Rachael last night at World of Beer to catch up on things. It also gave me the chance to try a holiday ale that I was curious about.

Bell’s Christmas Ale (Bell’s Brewery; Kalamazoo, MI; Scottish Ale; ABV: 5.8) is an interesting, somewhat unconventional Scottish ale. Dark brown in color, it has subtle notes of sweet caramel malt and toffee complimented by cinnamon spices and floral hops with a slightly bitter finish. There’s a nice balance between the malty sweetness and floral hops, with the latter not too pungent as is the case with Anchor Christmas Ale (Anchor Brewing Co.; San Francisco, CA; Winter Warmer; ABV: 5.5).

For round two, I ordered a pint of Ballast Point Black Marlin Porter (Ballast Point Brewing Co.; San Diego, CA; Porter; ABV: 6.0), a rich full-bodied porter. Dark chocolate in color, Black Marlin is silky smooth from start to finish, with big notes of chocolate and coffee balanced by roasted malt and Cascade hops. It reminds me of a traditional British porter brewed with American hops. Definitely a beer worth reeling in!

I highly recommend both of these beers, and wish everyone a Happy New Year!

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When Irish Eyes Are Smiling http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/12/from-christmas-to-st-patricks-day/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/12/from-christmas-to-st-patricks-day/#comments Thu, 30 Dec 2010 03:20:21 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=4419

The countdown continues

Christmas Day was a sunny 60 degrees in Savannah. With most of the pubs and restaurants closed for the holiday or at least until dinner, save for a handful of places, Anne and I decided to seize the day and explore the city. While walking downtown, we came upon the official headquarters of the Savannah St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee.

Savannah takes its St. Patrick’s Day seriously, and the city’s parade is the nation’s second largest after New York City, with as many as 750,000 attendees recorded one year. There’s even a clock located in the headquarters’ window, displaying the exact time left until St. Patrick’s Day in days, hours, minutes, and seconds!

For more information on Savannah’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade, please check out the committee’s website below. Cead Mille Failte!

http://www.savannahsaintpatricksday.com/#Home

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Christmas Bels http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/12/christmas-bels/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/12/christmas-bels/#comments Tue, 28 Dec 2010 06:03:05 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=4389

Six Degrees was no apparition this Christmas Eve

Anne and I spent Christmas weekend in Savannah, which is becoming a tradition for us this time of year. As a local stated, “In Augusta, they ask you which church you belong to. In Charleston, they ask what your family name is. In Savannah, they ask what you drink.”

We arrived around dinner time on Christmas Eve, and were pleased to find that quite a few places remained open. We headed over to Moon River Brewing across from our hotel. This wonderfully eclectic brewery has been featured on Ghost Hunters, and is so laid back that you can show up one night, accidentally crash a wedding reception, and then be allowed to stay and drink from the open bar as long as you tip the bartender!

I started out with a pint of Moon River Six Degrees (Moon River Brewing Co.; Savannah, GA; Belgian Strong Pale Ale; ABV: 5.1), a refreshing golden ale. Golden honey in color, Six Degrees has notes of citrusy fruit such as bananas balanced by honey and light grainy malt. The crisp clean taste of this Belgium complimented the spicy Bajou shrimp and ravioli appetizer that I ordered.

For round two, we joined everyone in a Christmas Eve toast. I had a pint of their winter seasonal, Moon River Nick’s Balls of Gold (Moon River Brewing Co.; Savannah, GA; Belgian India Pale Ale; ABV: 7.0), which is their Belgian Abbey/American IPA hybrid. Amber in color, it has notes of floral hops and cinnamon spices with a nice warming feel at the close. This Belgian IPA paired nicely with the blackened sea scallops that I had for the main course.

After dinner, we headed over to Rocks on the River for dessert. Anne and I shared the Mascarpone cheesecake with blueberry sauce, and struck up a conversation with Dave and Karen behind the bar. I finished up with a pint of Allagash White (Allagash Brewing Co.; Portland, ME; Witbier; ABV: 5.1). Golden in color, this superb witbier has notes of Belgian wheat and citrusy fruit such as oranges up front, followed by coriander spices and a hint of vanilla with a crisp clean finish. Allagash White was a fitting ale to wrap up the evening.

All in all, it was a great evening and start to the weekend.

Moon River Brewing Company on Urbanspoon

Rocks on the River on Urbanspoon

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Bright Lights Brew City: Take Flight http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/12/bright-lights-brew-city-take-flight/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/12/bright-lights-brew-city-take-flight/#comments Fri, 17 Dec 2010 02:20:02 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=4338

Magic Hat has brewed a beer to Howl for

After a fun filled weekend in the City, it was time to head back to Florida. After going through security, I stopped by one of my favorite airport bars to grab lunch and have a pint or two. The NY Sports Grill, located in Terminal 5 at JFK, is a little gem of a pub. Along with a decent bar menu, it has 48 beers on tap, with something for everyone. I decided to try the Winter lager from Magic Hat.

Magic Hat Howl (Magic Hat Brewing Co.; South Burlington, VT; Schwarzbier; ABV: 4.6), also known as Magic Hat Howl Black As Night Winter Lager, is the best schwarzbier I’ve had since Sprecher Black Bavarian. Brownish black in color, Howl has subtle notes of sweet chocolate and caramel complimented by roasted malt and light floral hops with a crisp clean aftertaste. The velvety Howl is well balanced, and at 4.6%, it’s a perfect session beer for Winter. It paired well with the Kobe beef sliders that I ordered for lunch.

Kudos to Magic Hat for crafting a schwarzbier to howl about. It was a fitting end to my New York adventure.

In addition to the NY Sports Grill, there are quite a few excellent brewpubs at airports throughout the country where frequent fliers and weary travelers can enjoy libations before taking flight. CheapFlights.com has put together a nice city-by-city guide at the website listed below.

http://marketing.cheapflights.com/guides/beerguide.pdf

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Bright Lights Brew City: Prohibitive Favorite http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/12/bright-lights-brew-city-prohibitive-favorite/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/12/bright-lights-brew-city-prohibitive-favorite/#comments Thu, 16 Dec 2010 03:42:07 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=4258

The Blind Tiger is a cozy place to enjoy a pint or two

I’ve been watching Boardwalk Empire on HBO, which focuses on Atlantic City during the days of Prohibition. During this time, speakeasies were popular; in fact, Chumley’s in Greenwich Village started out as a speakeasy in 1926 and remained a neighborhood icon until its closing in 2007. And in between seeing family and enjoying the sights, I stopped by a contemporary Village landmark on Saturday.

The Blind Tiger Ale House, named for the nickname given to speakeasies back in the days of Prohibition, is a hip little brewpub with an exceptional beer list, artisan food, and live music to boot. I was especially pleased to see that they had one of my all-time favorite DIPAs on tap.

I ordered a pint of Green Flash Imperial IPA (Green Flash Brewing Co.; Vista, CA; Imperial India Pale Ale; ABV: 9.0), the first time that I’ve had it on tap in almost three years. While excellent in a bottle, it’s on tap where this ale’s effervescent character is brought out. Golden amber in color, with a burst of citrusy notes up front balanced by sweet malt and piny hops. GF Imperial, which I’ve raved about several times on this blog, is smooth, nutty, and spicy with a crisp clean finish. Definitely one of the classic West Coast IPAs.

I tried the Grilled Cheese w/ Tomato & Olive Tapenade, along with the pub’s homemade tomato soup, then ordered a mug of cask conditioned Sixpoint Chocolate Rye Porter (Sixpoint Craft Ales; Brooklyn, NY; Porter; ABV: 6.3), which was on. Dark brown in color with subtle notes of chocolate complimented by roasted malt and a rye backbone. This porter is silky smooth through and through with a nice dry finish.

I finished up by sampling Sixpoint Righteous Rye Ale (Sixpoint Craft Ales; Brooklyn, NY; Rye Beer; ABV: 6.5), which was also cask conditioned. This amber colored ale has notes of sweet caramel and rye malt complimented by spicy hops. Righteous Rye Ale is an easy drinking beer throughout, with the rye backbone in perfect balance with the sweet and spicy notes.

I highly recommend each of these ales, and strongly endorse a trip to the Blind Tiger Ale House next time you’re in town.

Blind Tiger Ale House on Urbanspoon

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Bright Lights Brew City: Elf-N-Magic http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/12/bright-lights-brew-city-elf-n-magic/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/12/bright-lights-brew-city-elf-n-magic/#comments Wed, 15 Dec 2010 01:34:20 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=4171

Happy Hour began in earnest at Stout NYC

Just got back from a long weekend in the Big Apple visiting family. The City’s especially festive this time of year, and it was great catching up on things. I also had the chance to explore some brewpubs while in town, as this series of posts will detail.

My first stop upon settling in on Friday was Stout NYC. The energetic Midtown Manhattan pub has an outstanding selection of beers both on tap and in bottles, as well as a diverse food menu ranging from build-your-own burgers and standard British pub grub to oysters and NY strip steak.

I started with a pint of the sublime Tröegs The Mad Elf (Tröegs Brewing Co.; Harrisburg, PA; Belgian Strong Dark Ale; ABV: 11.0). This holiday ale is dark ruby in color, with big cherry notes complimented by chocolate malt and honey with a hint of spices at the finish. The Mad Elf is a smooth, well balanced beer throughout, and the 11% alcohol content is well concealed. Truly one of the better Belgian strong ales around, and a special treat for this time of year.

Speaking of Belgian strong ales, I got a chance to try Defiant Christmas Ale (Defiant Brewing Co.; Pearl River, NY; Belgian Strong Dark Ale; ABV: 7.5) for the first time. Deep chestnut in color, this holiday ale has subtle notes of dark fruit such as raisins balanced by sweet caramel malt and cinnamon spices. DCA is velvety smooth from start to finish, with a nice warming feel at the end.

Later in the evening, I met up with my sister Patty and brother-in-law Bob and we headed over to David Copperfield’s. The Upper East Side pub, like Stout NYC, has an extensive beer and food list with a more laid back atmosphere. I recommended a pint of North Coast Brother Thelonious for Patty, while Bob and I each had a pint of Southern Tier Ne’tra Gal.

North Coast Brother Thelonious Belgian Style Abbey Ale (North Coast Brewing Co.; Fort Bragg, CA; Dubbel; ABV: 9.4), reviewed last year on this blog, is a wonderfully complex, full-bodied dubbel. Named for the late jazz icon Thelonious Monk, this mahogany colored ale has considerable notes of sour cherries up front, balanced by by sweet malt & raisins, with only a slight bitterness at the end. Quite gratifying and silky smooth like the jazz legend’s music.

Southern Tier Ne’tra Gal (Southern Tier Brewing Co.; Lakewood, NY; Black India Pale Ale; ABV: 4.6) is an interesting offering from the Buffalo area brewery. Crafted in the increasingly popular Cascadian dark ale style, Ne’tra Gal is dark mocha in color with rich notes of chocolate and piny hops complimented by toasted malt and raisins. Although categorized as a Black IPA, it has the feel of an English ale or dry stout, and its ABV of under 5% is a lot lighter than typical beers of this style. Still, I enjoyed this eclectic ale and it paired well with the Buffalo burger that I had for dinner.

I recommend each of these ales, particularly The Mad Elf and Brothers Thelonious, and strongly suggest stopping by each of these brewpubs next time you’re in NYC.

Stout Restaurant & Bar on Urbanspoon

David Copperfield's on Urbanspoon

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Epic Beer Night http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/12/epic/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/12/epic/#comments Fri, 10 Dec 2010 05:14:29 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=4076

The creme del a creme were on hand for Beer Nerd Night

Something was in the air this past Tuesday night. Maybe it carried over from the Infinium Release Party, but Beer Nerd Show & Tell was something special. Epic was the theme for this evening’s lineup.

Samuel Adams Utopias (2009); Boston Beer Company; Boston, MA; American Strong Ale; ABV: 27.0. The first beer presented by Mark. The 2009 edition is definitely something special. Caramel in color with big notes of sweet caramel, vanilla spices, and an oaky cognac like backbone. Utopias has a nice candy like feel to it and is very warming.

Keegan Ales Super Kitty; Keegan Ales; Kingston, NY; American Strong Ale; ABV: 12.0. The second beer presented by Mark. Pours a deep amber color with notes of sweet caramel and honey balanced by a smokiness from the oak chips used in the brewing process. Super Kitty is comparable to a barley wine in taste and feel.

Captain Lawrence Cuvee De Castleton; Captain Lawrence Brewing Co.; American Wild Ale; ABV: 8.0. Presented by Dan. Pours a golden orange color, with considerable notes of Brettanomyces yeast and Muscat grapes complimented by malted barley. Cuvee De Castleton has a buttery Chardonnay like character from being aged in French oak barrels.

Dogfish Three Floyds Poppaskull (Dogfish Head Brewery; Milton, DE; Belgian Strong Ale; ABV: 9.5. Presented by Bret. The collaboration ale between DFH and the Munster, Indiana brewery. Poppaskull is golden in color, with notes of cardomom spices and sweet malt balanced by floral hops and a warm brandy like presence from the barrel aging process.

Northern Brewery Twisted Ankle; Northern Brewery; Sarasota, FL; American Blonde Ale; ABV: 5-6%?. Home brewers Stu and Jemma presented their ale. Nice citrusy notes and very easy to drink with a crisp clean aftertaste. Twisted Ankle reminded me of a saison such as Ommegang Hennepin.

Old Flannagan Brewery 9-9-9; Old Flannagan Brewery; Sarasota, FL; Flanders Red Ale; ABV: 6-7%?. Homebrewed and presented by Chris. Aged in Hungarian oak barrels, this sour ale has subtle notes of tart fruit and vanilla spices with an earthy wood backbone. 9-9-9 reminded me of Verhaeghe Duchesse De Bourgogne.

Cigar City Or; Cigar City Brewing; Tampa, FL; Black India Pale Ale; ABV: 11.2. Presented by yours truly. Brewed in the trendy Cascadian dark ale style, these ale is part of the Either/Or collaboration with Danish brewery Grassroots and Vermont brewery Hill Farmstead. Or is chocolate in color, with substantial notes of piny hops complimented by roasted malt and chocolate with a woody feel from the cedar barrel aging.

Cigar City Marshal Zhukov’s Imperial Stout – Brandy Barrel Aged; Cigar City Brewing; Tampa, FL; Russian Imperial Stout; ABV: 11.5. The first limited edition CCB beer presented by Meat. It pours a deep black color, with considerable notes of caramel and dark chocolate complimented by dark fruit, roasted malt, and vanilla spices. The brandy presence is brought out by the barrel aging. Takes its place among my favorite imperial stouts.

Cigar City Hunahpu’s Imperial Stout – Brandy Barrel Aged; Cigar City Brewing; Tampa, FL; Russian Imperial Stout; ABV: 11.5. The second limited edition CCB beer presented by Meat. Created from their Marshall Zhukov’s Imperial Stout, it’s jet black in color, with big notes of expresso and dark chocolate balanced by roasted malt, vanilla beans, and peppery spices. There’s a nice brandy backbone from the barrel aging. One of the best imperial stouts on the planet.

My thanks to everyone who participated in the Beer Nerd Show & Tell, and for their generosity in sharing some truly exceptional beers. It made for an Epic Beer Night!

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Infinite Possibilities http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/12/infinite-possibilities/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/12/infinite-possibilities/#comments Thu, 09 Dec 2010 02:20:48 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=4032

Infinium is crafted from a timeless German tradition

The word infinium is derived from the Latin word infinitum, meaning “infinite.” And when the world’s largest craft brewery gets together with the world’s oldest brewery, the possibilities are indeed endless.

Samuel Adams Infinium (Boston Beer Co.; Boston, MA; Bière de Champagne / Bière Brut; ABV: 10.3), a collaboration between the Boston brewery and Germany’s 1000 year old Weihenstephan Brewery, is the first new beer brewed under the German purity law, Reinheitsgebot, in more than a century. Under this law, only four ingredients – malt, hops, yeast, and water — can be used to make beer. Infinium made its Florida debut at Mr. Beery’s last night, as Boston Beer representative Remy gave an overview of the historic cooperative effort between the two breweries, and then proceeded to pop the cork of this Bière de Champagne.

Infinium was pleasantly surprising. I was expecting a basic champagne like ale with high carbonation, but instead was treated to a complex and velvety smooth beer. Infinium pours a golden honey color, with substantial notes of citrusy fruit such as bananas and apricots complimented by Vienna malt, peppery spices, and floral hops with a hint of honey in the backbone. The alcohol content of more than 10% is well camouflaged, and Infinium has the feel of a pilsener mixed with a Flanders red ale.

Infinium will be released in a limited edition this month. I picked up a bottle, and highly recommend that you do too. It is one ale worth popping the cork for this holiday season.

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The First Noël http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/12/the-first-noel/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/12/the-first-noel/#comments Sat, 04 Dec 2010 16:31:54 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=3991

Noël is something to sing about

First Thanksgiving, now Hanukkah, with Christmas and Kwanzaa right around the corner. The holiday season is in full swing, and with it a growing list of seasonal ales. And a Belgium ale that I had at Tap & Cork definitely brought tidings of comfort and joy!

Bush de Noël (Brasserie Dubuisson; Pipaix, Belgium; Belgian Strong Dark Ale; ABV: 12.0), known in the USA as Scaldis Noël, is a superb full-bodied beer. It pours a caramel color, with substantial notes of caramel malt, dark fruit, and molasses complimented by honey and floral hops. The latter is drawn out by placing hops flowers in the vats where the beer rests for four to six weeks. Noël is a sweet smooth tasting beer, and the considerable alcohol content, while prominent, doesn’t upset the balance of this exceptional Belgian.

The deliciously complex Noël is an ale worth reveling about.

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Tastefully Done http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/11/tastefully-done/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/11/tastefully-done/#comments Tue, 30 Nov 2010 02:42:50 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=3953

The aptly named CCB Tasting Room is a great place to spend a Saturday afternoon

Anne and I spent Saturday afternoon at the Cigar City Brewing Tasting Room. In addition to being a cool place to hang out and have a pint or two, there’s the added bonus of getting a tour of the brewery. The Tasting Room draws a nice crowd of people from all ages, and the novice craft brew drinker is as welcome here as the beer aficionado.

I started with a pint of Cigar City Table Saison (Cigar City Brewing; Tampa, FL; Saison / Farmhouse Ale; ABV: 4.0), an easy drinking farmhouse ale. Honey in color, it has subtle notes of citrusy fruit such as bananas balanced by spicy hops and toasted malt with a crisp clean finish. Table Saison makes an excellent session beer.

For round two, it was Cigar City Improvisación (Cigar City Brewing; Tampa, FL; American Brown Ale; ABV: 9.0), a flavorful oatmeal rye ale. It pours a deep mahogany color, with the oatmeal and rye notes complimented by roasted malt and grassy hops. Improvisación is a rich, well balanced beer and the alcohol content isn’t that noticeable.

I finished by sampling Cigar City El Lector (Cigar City Brewing; Tampa, FL; English Dark Mild Ale; ABV: 4.0), an eclectic English style ale. Chocolate in color, it has a smooth easy feel to it, with notes of coffee and sweet malt followed by a cream soda like taste at the end. El Lector is perfect as either a session or dessert beer.

I thank Tasting Room Manager Travis for the brewery tour, and Jason behind the bar for his hospitality.

On a more serious note, there will be a City Council meeting this Thursday, December 2nd, where the wet-zoning for the Tasting Room will be voted on. Since this vote will determine whether or not the Tasting Room remains open, Cigar City needs your support. All who are interested in supporting the Tasting Room should go to Cigar City’s website below for further information. Thank you.

http://www.cigarcitybrewing.com/Cigar_City_Beer/Welcome_to_Cigar_City_Beer_in_Tampa_Florida.html

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Good To The Last Drop http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/11/good-to-the-last-drop/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/11/good-to-the-last-drop/#comments Fri, 26 Nov 2010 15:26:18 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=3920

Cubano Espresso is a java lover's dream

There was a 1970s commercial from Maxwell House stating that their coffee was “good to the last drop.” And there’s an ale from Cigar City that lives up to this adage as well.

Cigar City Cubano Espresso (Cigar City Brewing; Tampa, FL; American Brown Ale; ABV: 5.5), an offering from the brewery’s Maduro series, is a remarkable brown ale. Chocolate in color, it has considerable notes of expresso in the nose and throughout the taste. The bounty of expresso is complimented by caramel malt, roasted nuts, and vanilla spices with a rich coffee presence at the finish. Cubano Expresso gets better with each sip, and as the beer warms, the flavors intensify and the wonderful complexity of this ale is really drawn out.

The coffee-centric backbone and full-bodied flavor of Cubano Expresso makes it an exceptional beer. It’s truly “good to the last drop.”

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An Excelsior Tradition http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/11/an-excelsior-tradition/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/11/an-excelsior-tradition/#comments Fri, 26 Nov 2010 14:37:44 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=3869

12 and turkey made for an Excelsior Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is always a festive time of year for us. Whether it’s enjoying turkey with all the trimmings, spending time with family and friends, or watching a little football, this holiday is one that we definitely look forward to. I was also looking forward to trying a new anniversary ale brewed in a limited release.

Ithaca Excelsior! 12 Anniversary Ale (Ithaca Beer Co.; Ithaca, NY; Quadrupel; ABV: 10.0), part of the brewery’s Excelsior! series, is a full-bodied Belgian quad crafted to mark their 12th anniversary. 12 pours a deep chestnut color, and the nose has big notes of tart fruit that remind me of a sour ale. The taste is an array of caramel, Belgian yeast, and roasted malt with the tart fruit apparent in the backbone. The dry finish has a slight bitterness to it. 12 is as smooth as it is complex, and the alcohol content is concealed nicely in this ale.

All in all, 12 was an Excelsior! beer to compliment Turkey Day.

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Idiot Proof http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/11/idiot-proof/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/11/idiot-proof/#comments Sun, 21 Nov 2010 16:44:27 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=3836

You'll get foolhardy over Old Numbskull

San Diego based brewery AleSmith has crafted an impressive list of world class ales. So it was a no brainer to try their offering of my favorite style of beer.

AleSmith Old Numbskull (AleSmith Brewing Co.; San Diego, CA; Barley Wine; ABV: 11.0) is a classic West Coast barley wine. It pours a deep amber color and you’re hit with substantial notes of citrusy hops in the nose and initial taste. The notes are perfectly balanced by sweet caramel malt, molasses, and peppery spices with a bourbon like warming at the end. The alcohol presence is noticeable, but in a subtle way that doesn’t overwhelm the rest of the beer. The complexity and silky smoothness of Old Numbskull makes it a superior barley wine.

You’d be a knucklehead not to give Old Numbskull a try.

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The Big Squeeze http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/11/the-big-squeeze/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/11/the-big-squeeze/#comments Sat, 20 Nov 2010 00:39:24 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=3816

You'll get all wrapped up in Albino Python

As anyone who follows the news know, South Florida is awash with pythons. Since escaping into the wild from private owners or zoos the last decade or two, they have bred like rabbits and threaten to disrupt the ecosystem. Fortunately, there’s a python that you won’t mind coiling up to.

Coney Island Albino Python (Shmaltz Brewing Co.; San Francisco, CA; Herbed / Spiced Beer; ABV: 6.0) is a white lager as flavorful as it is eclectic. Golden in color, Albino Python strikes you right from the start with big notes of citrusy fruit and ginger, balanced by sweet malt and a bite of peppery spices at the end. This lager is velvety smooth from start to finish, and quite easy to drink at an ABV of 6%. The warming sensation from the spicy backbone makes it an excellent choice for the holidays.

I strongly suggest slithering up to your local pub or brew store for Albino Python.

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Getting Tanked http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/11/getting-tanked/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/11/getting-tanked/#comments Mon, 15 Nov 2010 04:52:01 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=3762

Tank 7 is a lucky number

I opened the first bottle from my Mr. Beery’s gift basket last night in Naples, and Anne and I enjoyed a remarkable saison before heading out to dinner.

Boulevard Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale (Boulevard Brewing Co.; Saison / Farmhouse Ale; ABV: 8.0), brewed in the brewery’s infamous fermenter number 7, is a straw colored ale with considerable notes of citrusy hops, especially grapefruit, complimented by Belgian yeast, caramel malt, and peppery spices. Tank 7 is silky smooth with a crisp, clean finish. Like some other exceptional saisons, such as Ommegang Ommegeddon, the alcohol content is so well hidden, that this ale has the feel of a session beer. All in all, Tank 7 is an extremely well balanced beer.

You’ll want to stroll down this Boulevard for a Tank 7.

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Go Fish http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/11/go-fish/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/11/go-fish/#comments Mon, 15 Nov 2010 03:54:00 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=3727

You'll want to catch a Sea Bass

Anne and I stopped by the Icehouse Pub on the way down to Naples this weekend, and were pleased to see that Cigar City had a new offering on tap. Long known for its outstanding stouts, porters, and IPAs, the brewery had now crafted a superb sour ale as well.

Cigar City Sea Bass (Cigar City Brewing; Tampa, FL; American Wild Ale; ABV: 8.0) is a chestnut colored ale with big notes of tart fruit complimented by hints of caramel, roasted malt, and spices with a slightly bitter finish. The sour aspect of Sea Bass, coupled with its wine like feel, reminds me of the classic Flemish ales. The alcohol content of 8% balances nicely into Sea Bass, so this ale goes down smoothly. It paired well with the Fish & Chips that I had for lunch.

Speaking of Flemish ales, I ordered a Verhaeghe Vichtenaar Flemish Ale (Brouwerij Verhaeghe; Vichte, Belgium; Flanders Red Ale; ABV: 5.1) for round two. A lighter version of the brewery’s exceptional Verhaeghe Duchesse De Bourgogne, possibly the best sour ale I have ever had, Vichtenaar is deep mahogany in color with subtle notes of chocolate and tart fruit such as cherries. It’s incredibly smooth, and the sweet and sour attributes of this ale are perfectly balanced.

I highly recommend reeling in either one of these terrific sour ales.

The Icehouse on Urbanspoon ]]> http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/11/go-fish/feed/ 0 Enlightened Ale http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/11/enlightened-ale/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/11/enlightened-ale/#comments Fri, 12 Nov 2010 23:54:39 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=3664

SIP is crafted from an 18th century recipe

I stopped by Mr. Beery’s the other evening, and was curious to try a Baltic porter that was on tap. Since it’s known to be brewed in a classic style dating back to the Age of Enlightenment, this ale peaked my interest.

Southampton Imperial Porter (Southampton Publick House; Southampton, NY; Baltic Porter; ABV: 7.2) is a velvety smooth porter. Chocolate in color, the rich notes of chocolate and caramel are complimented by dark fruit and roasted malt with a hint of coffee in the backbone. SIP is perfectly balanced and the alcohol content of more than 7% is well hidden. This porter paired nicely with the delicious California burger that I ordered from Ham Heaven, and I strongly suspect that it would be an excellent dessert beer as well.

The silkiness and richness of this beer, combined with its superior drinkability, makes SIP ideal for fans of imperial porters.

Ham Heaven and Devil Dogs on Urbanspoon

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Vintage Brew http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/11/vintage-indeed/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/11/vintage-indeed/#comments Tue, 09 Nov 2010 03:11:04 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=3615

2009 was a very good year

Anne and I were hanging out in St. Pete the other day, when we decided to head over to A Taste For Wine. This charming bistro has something for everyone, from Mushroom Vol au Vent to Bacon Wrapped Scallops, in addition to an excellent wine and beer list. And a beer that I ordered truly lived up to its name.

Fuller’s Vintage Ale 2009 (Fuller Smith & Turner PLC; London, England (UK); Old Ale; ABV: 8.5) is a classic English old ale, brewed annually in limited batches. Amber in color, Vintage Ale 2009 has well balanced notes of caramel, dark fruit, brown sugar, and spicy hops with a brandy like feel in the backbone. This ale is full-bodied, yet silky smooth from start to finish.

Vintage Ale 2009 is truly a beer for the ages.

A Taste for Wine on Urbanspoon

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The Next Big Thing http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/11/the-next-big-thing/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/11/the-next-big-thing/#comments Sun, 07 Nov 2010 14:11:30 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=3519

I enjoyed the exceptionally complex Coton...


while Seven Years Past rocked the house

Voted “Best Original Local Band” in Sarasota Creative Loafing, in addition to being a finalist for opening 97X’s The Next Big Thing concert in Tampa next month, Seven Years Past is one of the Tampa Bay area’s premier bands. Fronted by Lisa Larkin, with Mark Medeiros on guitar, my friend Bret Calltharp on bass, and Brett Jones on drums, the band performed an acoustic set at Mr. Beery’s Thursday night. Featuring songs from their 24 Days in May CD, from the riveting Chemical Woman to the introspective “You Said”, 7YP’s combination of soulful lyrics and raw musical power brought the house down.

As an added bonus to the evening, I welcomed the chance to savor a remarkable old ale that Mark had on tap. The Bruery Coton (The Bruery; Placentia, CA; Old Ale; ABV: 14.5) is as smooth as it is complex, and takes its place alongside Hair of the Dog Adam and Harviestoun Ola Dubh as my favorite old ales. This chocolate colored ale has notes of dark fruit such as cherries and raisins complimented by caramel, vanilla spices, and a bourbon feel in the backbone. Coton reminds me of the now retired DuClaw Repent, one of my favorite all-time Belgiums, in that the alcohol content isn’t too noticeable for a beer in the 14-15% range. It’s easy to order a second pint of this deliciously eclectic ale.

For additional information on Seven Years Past, please go to the band’s website at http://sevenyearspast.moonfruit.com/#, and don’t forget to vote! And be sure to check out 7YP the next time they play in your area. They’re truly The Next Big Thing.

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Hoppy Hell Hound http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/11/hoppy-hell-hound/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/11/hoppy-hell-hound/#comments Wed, 03 Nov 2010 01:05:50 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=3470

Even old dogs love this hellacious hop bomb

Anne and I spent Halloween at our friends Brad and Rachael’s house. We all got into the spirit of things, which included passing out candy to the excited trick-or-treaters. We also had the opportunity to savor a couple of exceptional IPAs from Laughing Dog.

Laughing Dog Devil Dog Imperial IPA (Laughing Dog Brewing; Ponderay, ID; Imperial India Pale Ale; ABV: 10.0) is an absolute hop bomb. This amber colored DIPA has humongous notes of Cascade and piny hops in the nose and initial taste, complimented by sweet caramel malt with a slightly bitter finish. The malty sweetness doesn’t overwhelm the hoppy backbone, so Devil Dog still has the feel of an IPA. It’s quite drinkable for a beer of its potency, and the alcohol content of 10% isn’t too noticeable.

I first tried Laughing Dog DogZilla Black IPA (Laughing Dog Brewing; Ponderay, ID; Black India Pale Ale; ABV: 6.9) at the Tap House Grill in Seattle last year, so I knew what a treat this Black IPA is. Chestnut in color, DogZilla is a crisp, smooth drinking ale. The citrusy hops are nicely balanced by dark fruit and chocolate, with a sweet caramel finish. At 7% ABV, it’s easy to wolf down a pint or two!

Both of these wonderfully monstrous IPAs will leave you howling for joy, and I highly recommend them.

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Haandbakk’s Comet http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/10/haandbakks-comet/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/10/haandbakks-comet/#comments Sun, 31 Oct 2010 15:23:20 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=3367

Haandbakk is worth waiting a century for

While at Bruisin’ Ales in Asheville two months ago, I purchased a bottle of a very interesting sour ale. HaandBryggeriet Haandbakk (HaandBryggeriet; Drammen, Norway; Flanders Oud Bruin; ABV: 8.5) is the first wild yeast-fermented beer brewed in Norway for more than 100 years. And since Beer Advocate ranks Haandbakk as one of the world’s five best in its beer style, I decided it was time to give this ale a try.

Aged in oak barrels for two years, Haandbakk pours a deep mahogany color and has considerable notes of sour cherries and dried fruit such as raisins up front. These fruity notes are complimented by vanilla spices, and hints of caramel and roasted malt at the finish. There’s definitely an oaky undertone from the barrel aging, and it cuts down on the acidity that’s characteristic of a lot of sour ales.

Complex and tart with a brandy like backbone, Haandbakk takes its place among the world’s finest sour ales, and is highly recommended.

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Pecan Pie In A Pint http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/10/pecan-pie-in-a-pint/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/10/pecan-pie-in-a-pint/#comments Thu, 28 Oct 2010 22:48:38 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=3331

Pecan Harvest Ale will make you think of grandmother's house

Now that Fall has arrived, I’ve written several posts about pumpkin ales. But there are other beers that are perfect for this time of year as well. I had the chance to savor one at Shakespeare’s recently.

Abita Pecan Harvest Ale (Abita Brewing Co.; Abita Springs, LA; American Brown Ale; ABV: 5.0) is an enjoyable amber colored ale with substantial notes of pecans in the nose and throughout the taste. The hearty pecan presence is balanced by caramel, roasted malt, and a hint of brown sugar. This ale really has a nice pecan pie feel to it, and complimented the crispy duck salad that I had for dinner. I’m sure it would pair well with another bird, namely Thanksgiving turkey, next month.

At an ABV of only 5%, Pecan Harvest Ale is quite easy to drink, and recommended to anyone looking for a flavorful session beer this Autumn.

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Honey Of A Pumpkin Ale http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/10/honey-of-a-pumpkin-ale/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/10/honey-of-a-pumpkin-ale/#comments Tue, 26 Oct 2010 17:13:52 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=3289

You could go trick or treating for The Honey Pumpkin

Anne and I stopped by Dunedin Brewery late Sunday afternoon, on the way back from Tarpon Springs, to check out the latest beers on tap. I was pleased to see that they had a new offering from their Brewmaster’s Reserve series, and decided to order a pint.

Dundein Brewmaster’s Reserve The Honey Pumpkin (Dunedin Brewery; Dunedin, FL; Pumpkin Ale; ABV: 7.0?) is a smooth, spicy pumpkin ale. Deep amber in color, the big pumpkin nose is complimented by well balanced notes of pumpkin, honey, and cinnamon spices. I didn’t see an ABV listed for it, but I’m guessing The Honey Pumpkin is around 6-7%, comparable to Dogfish Punkin Ale which it reminded me a little of.

The Honey Pumpkin is an easy drinking beer perfect for Fall, and takes its place among this season’s best pumpkin ales.

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Sumpin’ Else http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/10/sumpin-else/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/10/sumpin-else/#comments Sun, 24 Oct 2010 16:26:38 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=3202

This Imperial IPA is definitely A Lil Sumpin' Extra!

Anne and I stopped by the newly renovated Shamrock’s Pub yesterday, and noticed that they had Lagunitas A Little Sumpin’ Extra! Ale (Lagunitas Brewing Co.; Petaluma, CA; Imperial India Pale Ale; ABV: 8.7) on tap. I’ve always enjoyed offerings from this brewery, especially the IPAs, so I was especially eager to give this one a try.

A Lil Sumpin’ Extra! is golden amber in color, with hearty notes of citrusy fruit, particularly grapefruit, in the nose and initial taste. The citrusy presence is balanced by sweet caramel and piny hops with a slightly bitter finish. While the alcohol content of nearly 9% is apparent, it’s not to the point of being overwhelming. A Lil Sumpin Extra! is quite smooth and definitely a beer to be savored. Hop-heads will really appreciate this Imperial IPA.

A Lil Sumpin’ Extra! truly lives up to its name, and I highly recommend it.

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Bourbon County Brew http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/10/bourbon-county-brew/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/10/bourbon-county-brew/#comments Sun, 24 Oct 2010 06:44:36 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=3173

The bourbon presence is very apparent in Bardstown

While in Asheville two months ago, we stopped by Bruisin’ Ales and purchased a highly recommended barley wine from one of the local breweries. So I decided to share it with the class at Mr. Beery’s Beer Nerd Show & Tell this past week.

Olde Hickory Bardstown Brand Ale (Olde Hickory Brewery; Hickory, NC; Barley Wine; ABV: 10.0) is aged in oak bourbon barrels from the heart of Kentucky’s Bourbon County. For obvious reasons, there are considerable bourbon notes throughout this ruby colored barley wine, complimented by caramel malt and vanilla spices with a hint of grassy hops at the finish. Bardstown is mildly sweet and the alcohol is definitely noticeable, but not overpowering. The bourbon backbone is what truly makes this ale.

Bardstown is listed as retired by Beer Advocate, but I believe that Olde Hickory has started to brew this barley wine again. I strongly suggest giving it a try, especially if you have an appreciation for bourbon.

While at Show & Tell, I sampled a couple of other beers for the first time that caught my attention.

Anderson Valley Brother David’s Triple; Anderson Valley Brewing Co.; Boonville, CA; Tripel; ABV: 10.0. Presented by Josh, this Abbey style ale is amber in color with notes of dark fruit and brown sugar complimented by sweet caramel and cinnamon spices. Incredibly smooth and the alcohol content isn’t too noticeable.

Captain Lawrence Barrel Select; Captain Lawrence Brewing Co.; Pleasantville, NY; American Wild Ale; ABV: 6.0. Presented by Mark, this sour ale is barrel aged to capture the unique flavor. Murky amber in color, it has big notes of tart fruit, particularly dark cherries and green apples, complimented by caramel malt and vanilla spices with an oaky backbone from the aging process. Highly enjoyable from start to finish.

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Hop Bombs Away http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/10/hop-bombs-away/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/10/hop-bombs-away/#comments Fri, 22 Oct 2010 15:37:14 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=3155

Sculpin more than lives up to its world class ranking

I got a chance to reaquaint myself with an IPA that I tried for the first time last year out West. It’s considered to be one of the world’s best IPAs by both Rate Beer and Beer Advocate, and I ordered a pint while attending Mr. Beery’s Beer Nerd Show & Tell earlier this week.

Ballast Point Sculpin IPA (Ballast Point Brewing Co.; San Diego, CA; India Pale Ale; ABV: 7.0) is an absolute hop bomb and well worth its reputation. Golden honey in color, Sculpin has humongous notes of citrusy fruit, especially grapefruit and apricots. The citrusy notes are balanced by breaded malt and piny hops with a dry bitter finish. Considering the substantial amount of citrusy and piny hops, this is a well balanced beer and not as intense as might be expected. In many ways, its reminds me of a lighter version of Bell’s HopSlam Ale.

I strongly recommend this IPA, especially if you’re a hop-head. And speaking of Show & Tell, I’ll be doing a review of several beers from that night in a future post.

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Sassy Blonde http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/10/sassy-blonde/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/10/sassy-blonde/#comments Tue, 19 Oct 2010 01:22:11 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=3132

Bière De L'Amitié is the perfect blend of Old & New World

What if you could craft a full-bodied Abbey tripel with the easy session feel of a saison? Well, Brasserie St-Feuillien / Friart, a Belgium brewery founded in 1125, and Green Flash, established in 2002 and one of my favorite American breweries, have done just that. As is a growing trend among craft breweries, the two have collaborated on a superb blonde ale called St-Feuillien Green Flash Bière De L’Amitié (Green Flash Brewing Co.; Vista, CA; Belgium Strong Pale Ale; ABV: 9.5%).

Bière De L’Amitié pours a golden honey color, and the big notes of floral and grassy hops hit you right off the bat in both the nose and initial taste. These notes are complimented by citrusy fruit, honey, and peppery spices with a crisp clean finish. The alcohol content of 9.5 % is well hidden, so Bière De L’Amitié has the feel of a saison in the 5-6% range. Needless to say, it is quite enjoyable and highly drinkable.

Hats off to St-Feuillien and Green Flash for bringing together the best of Old and New World styles in crafting this exceptional Belgium blonde ale.

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Arigato Morimoto http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/10/arigato-morimoto-2/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/10/arigato-morimoto-2/#comments Sat, 16 Oct 2010 16:14:53 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=3089

Morimoto is an ale worthy of the Iron Chef

When Anne and I went for sushi at Kazu’s last Thursday evening, I was pleased to see that they had a beer on the menu that perfectly compliments this cuisine. Part of the brewery’s Signature Series, Rogue Morimoto Soba Ale (Rogue Ales Brewery; Newport, OR; Fruit / Vegetable Beer; ABV: 4.8) was crafted in collaboration with world renowned Chef Masaharu Morimoto, known by foodies from the Food Network’s Iron Chef series.

Morimoto pours a light golden color, and has abundant notes of soba, a type of buckwheat, in the nose and taste. This gives a buttery feel to the ale, which is balanced by hints of honey, roasted malt, and citrusy hops. Morimoto has a crisp clean taste from start to finish, and at an ABV of just under 5%, is quite easy to drink. It really paired well with the appetizing spicy tuna sashimi and mouthwatering sushi rolls that we ordered.

I strongly recommend Morimoto for sushi and non-sushi lovers alike. It’s a fitting tribute to the Iron Chef.

Kazu's Sushi & Asian Bistro on Urbanspoon

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Something To Wine About http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/10/something-to-wine-about/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/10/something-to-wine-about/#comments Fri, 15 Oct 2010 00:43:49 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=3038

Punkin's spicy notes are brought out in a wine glass

I learned something new the other day. If you drink a pumpkin ale out of a wine glass, it really enhances the flavor of the beer. So I decided to put this theory to the test recently.

I ordered a Dogfish Punkin Ale (Dogfish Head Craft Brewery; Milton, DE; Pumpkin Ale; ABV: 7.0) with dinner at Lucky Pelican Bistro. Needless to say, Punkin’s flavors, especially the big notes of nutmeg and cinnamon spices, were really brought out in the wine glass. The spiciness of this ale perfectly complimented the delicious blackened shrimp tacos that I ordered for the main course. This will be my glassware of choice when drinking a pumpkin ale from now on.

And speaking of pumpkin ales, I finally got a chance to try the much ballyhooed Shipyard Smashed Pumpkin (Shipyard Brewing Co.; Portland, ME; Pumpkin Ale; ABV: 9.0) last week at Mr. Beery’s. From their Pugsley Signature Series, this ale is second only to Southern Tier Pumking as the most pumpkin tasting beer around. Like the former, it has an alcohol content of 9%, although Smashed Pumpkin has a lighter feel to it. Smashed Pumpkin is copper in color, with subtle notes of cinnamon and nutmeg spices balancing the pumpkin pie backbone.

In closing, I highly recommend drinking pumpkin ales from a wine glass. Especially when savoring high end offerings like Punkin, Pumking, and Smashed Pumpkin.

Lucky Pelican Bistro on Urbanspoon

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99 Bottles of Beer: Part Deux http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/10/99-bottles-of-beer-part-deux/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/10/99-bottles-of-beer-part-deux/#comments Sun, 10 Oct 2010 16:29:29 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=2947

Unplugged Cherry Stout was one of the evening's highlights

As was the Troegenator

Anne and I attended 99 Bottles of Beer On The Wall Part 2 at Mr. Beery’s on Friday night. We were on vacation when the first one took place, and were fortunate enough to catch this one. For $20 apiece, we each received some nice glassware and participated in sampling beers 51-99.

In addition to trying some old favorites, I had the opportunity to sample many new beers for the first time. Some that truly stood out are listed below.

Bullfrog Double Coffee Stout; Bullfrog Brewery; Williamsport, PA; American Stout; ABV: 7.3. This stout was actually brought in as a growler by Dave, and was the first beer sampled. A rich mocha color, with sublime notes of Expresso coffee complimented by dark chocolate and roasted malt. Very creamy and delicious, DCS has the feel of an imperial stout to it.

New Belgium Lips of Faith – Eric’s Ale; New Belgium Brewing Co.; Fort Collins, CO; American Wild Ale; ABV: 7.0. A superb sour ale. Amber in color, with big notes of tart fruit such as cherries and green apples with a crisp clean finish.

New Glarus Unplugged Cherry Stout; New Glarus Brewing Co.; New Glarus, WI; Fruit / Vegetable Beer; ABV: 6.5. A delicious, full-bodied cherry stout. Chocolate in color with big notes of Wisconsin Montmorency cherries complimented by chocolate and sweet malt. This stout would make an excellent dessert beer.

New Glarus Wisconsin Belgian Red; New Glarus Brewing Co.; New Glarus, WI; Fruit / Vegetable Beer; ABV: 5.1. One of the brewery’s signature beers. This deep red ale has outrageous notes of Wisconsin Montmorency cherries complimented by an oaky backbone and a tart finish similar to a sour ale. Like drinking a black cherry soda with a kick!

Port Brewing Older Viscosity; Port Brewing Co.; San Marcos, CA; American Strong Ale; ABV: 12.0. This jet black strong ale is aged in bourbon barrels, and the substantial notes of bourbon are very apparent throughout the beer, with a very nice oakiness in the background from the aging process. There’s hints of chocolate and vanilla spices as well, and the potency of this ale is very apparent. Older Viscosity reminds me of Ola Dubh on steroids!

Real Ale Sisyphus; Real Ale Brewing Co.; Blanco, TX; Barley Wine; ABV: 11.5. A smooth, full-bodied barley wine. There were three vintage bottles on hand (2007, 2008, 2009), with the 2008 offering being the best. Sisyphus is copper in color and the notes of honey, caramel malt, and piny hops are perfectly balanced.

Sixpoint Grand Crue; Sixpoint Craft Ales; Brooklyn, NY; Belgian Strong Dark Ale; ABV: 12.4. A rich, oak aged strong ale. Big notes of caramel, brown sugar, and dark fruit with a bourbon feel in the backbone. Quite smooth for a beer of its potency.

SKA Modus Hoperandi IPA; SKA Brewing; Durango, CO; India Pale Ale; ABV: 6.8. Continuing a trend in the craft beer industry, this IPA comes in a can. Amber in color with generous notes of Cascade and floral hops complimented by caramel malt. Very crisp and refreshing.

Surly Brutal Bitter; Surly Brewing Co.; Brooklyn Center, MN; Premium Bitter/ESB; ABV: 4.2. Another excellent canned beer, this is a very creamy and malty ESB. Light amber in color with the rich malty presence balanced by sweet caramel and floral hops.

Surly Furious; Surly Brewing Co.; Brooklyn Center, MN; India Pale Ale; ABV: 6.2. Continuing the trend of superb canned beers, this is an absolute hop bomb. The huge notes of citrusy and piny hops are apparent throughout this ale, with a slight bitterness at the end. Furious has the feel of an Imperial IPA to it.

Tröegs Trogenator; Tröegs Brewing Co.; Harrisburg, PA; Dopplebock; ABV: 8.2. A truly outstanding dopplebock. Deep mahogany in color and tasty as hell, with big notes of sweet caramel complimented by dark fruit and cinnamon spices.

Wachusett Green Monsta; Wachusett Brewing Co.; Westminster, MA; American Pale Ale; ABV: 7.3. Named after the famed wall at Fenway Park, this complex APA is like a strong ale mixed with an IPA. Light copper in color with notes of sweet malt balanced by caramel and citrusy hops.

Kudos to Mark for his generosity and for putting together such a wonderful evening.

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A Friend In Mead http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/10/a-friend-in-mead/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/10/a-friend-in-mead/#comments Thu, 07 Oct 2010 20:14:39 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=2898

These meads are truly Nektars of the Gods

There’s a lot of reasons why Mr. Beery’s has become my favorite brewpub in town. One of them is that I still manage to get surprised when I drop in for a beer or two. I’m a fan of meads, which range in style from light ales to strong wines, and Mike Dahlhoffer, Account Manager of B. Nektar Meadery stopped by with a couple of bottles for us to sample.

We started with B. Nektar Yo Mamma’s Strawberry Pizzazz (B. Nektaar Meadery; Ferndale, MI; Mead; ABV: 14.0), which was crafted from a recipe shared with the meadery by guest mead maker Jamie VanKuren (known on Gotmead.com as Yo Momma). This mead has big notes of strawberries in the nose and throughout the taste. Per B. Nektar, over 3 pounds of strawberries are used per gallon to accomplish this. Yo Mamma’s Strawberry Pizzazz is simply delicious, and has a sweet wine feeling to it.

Next up was B. Nektar Vanilla Cinnamon (B. Nektar Meadery; Ferndale, MI; Mead; ABV: 14.0), an outstanding honey colored mead made with whole cinnamon sticks and vanilla beans. This mead also has a sweet wine feel to it, with the big notes of cinnamon and vanilla complimented by a woody backbone at the finish. Like Yo Mamma’s Strawberry Pizzazz, Vanilla Cinnamon goes down smoothly and can be served warm in addition to cold. Additionally, the alcohol content is well hidden in both of them.

Michael Rancourt from Florida Micro Beverage was on hand as well, and noted that B. Nektar’s offerings are in the process of being distributed to Florida. I look forward to this, as their meads are very enjoyable and highly recommended.

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Hex Ain’t Worth The Hype http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/10/hex-aint-worth-the-hype/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/10/hex-aint-worth-the-hype/#comments Fri, 01 Oct 2010 19:16:54 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=2883

Hex didn't put a spell on me

I should of listened to you Sean, when you reviewed and panned a certain amber ale in Creative Loafing last week. But whether it was for the experience, or the fact that it was crafted by one of my favorite breweries, you knew I just had to give it a try.

I ordered a Magic Hat Hex Ourtoberfest Ale (Magic Hat Brewing Co.; South Burlington. VT; American Amber / Red Ale; ABV: 5.4) at Shakespeare’s the other day, anticipating a decent Vienna style amber. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. It pours a burnt orange color, and the various malty notes, including Cherry Wood Smoked Malt, couldn’t make up for the sour taste throughout and the bitter finish at the end. Coming from Magic Hat, I expected more, but ended up disappointed.

This is the second disappointment that I’ve had in the last month from a brewery that I’m a fan of. A couple of weeks ago, I opened a bottle of Green Flash Summer Saison (Green Flash Brewing Co.; Vista, CA; Saison / Farmhouse Ale; ABV: 4.5), anticipating an excellent saison that has gotten some hype on various beer blogs. This hazy golden colored ale starts out with some nice citrusy notes, particularly lemons, and peppery spices, but falls flat at the finish. It reminded me of a watered down version of Ommegang Hennepin or Southampton Saison Deluxe. This is the first beer from Green Flash that I haven’t been crazy about, so I’m sure it was an anomaly.

I found both of these ales to be average at best, and not worth the hype. I guess you can’t win them all.

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Respect This Elder http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/09/respect-this-elder/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/09/respect-this-elder/#comments Sat, 25 Sep 2010 22:04:57 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=2824

Pliny The Elder is the quintessential West Coast IPA...

As is the equally superb AleSmith IPA

I have been a huge fan of West Coast IPAs for some time now, and had the chance recently to savor two of the world’s best. I reacquainted myself with the first one, while trying the second ale for the first time. Suffice to say, it was a very rewarding experience.

Russian River Pliny The Elder (Russian River Brewing Co.; Santa Rosa, CA; Imperial India Pale Ale; ABV: 8.0) needs no introduction. This is the Imperial IPA that many a beer aficionado thinks of when discussing world class offerings in this style. Golden orange in color, Pliny The Elder has big notes of grapefruit up front, highlighting the array of citrusy hops. The hoppiness is complimented by roasted malt and caramel with a crisp, clean finish. It never fails to amaze me how this ale can have such a sizable hoppy presence, yet be so surprisingly smooth to drink.

AleSmith IPA (AleSmith Brewing Co.; San Diego, CA; India Pale Ale; ABV: 7.3) is categorized as an IPA, but has the feel of an Imperial. Light amber in color, this is a very well rounded beer. AleSmith IPA has substantial citrusy notes up front, particularly grapefruit and orange, balanced by sweet malt and resiny spices with a piny hops backbone at the end. Like Pliny The Elder, this ale is as smooth as it is complex.

Each of these IPAs are among the best in their style, and I highly recommend both to hop-heads and no hop-heads alike.

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CeleBREWtory http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/09/celebrewtory/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/09/celebrewtory/#comments Sun, 19 Sep 2010 13:22:17 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=2788

Quatre-Centième is an ale worthy of Quebec's anniversary

In 2008, Unibroue brewed a beer to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Quebec City, the first fortified city in North America. Through the past four centuries, this city has grown to become one of the most culturally diverse on the continent. Joie de vivre (Joy of Living) has long been the motto of Quebec, and I recently opened a bottle of this very special ale.

Unibroue Quatre-Centième (Unibroue; Chambly, Quebec, Canada; Belgian Strong Pale Ale; ABV: 7.5) is one of the best balanced beers that I have ever had. It pours a light golden color, and has subtle notes of citrusy fruit such as bananas and oranges complimented by sweet malt and ginger spices. The finish is crisp and clean. Quatre-Centième has been brewed to truly capture the essence of this beer, and the alcohol content is well hidden. It’s easily one of the best Belgians that I have ever had.

Quatre-Centième has been retired since its release, but you may still be able to find a bottle of it occasionally. Should you be fortunate to try it, you’ll know what Joie de vivre is all about.

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Early Harvest http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/09/early-harvest/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/09/early-harvest/#comments Wed, 08 Sep 2010 01:51:04 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=2700

You'll gladly serve pumking

While the official start of Fall is two weeks away, it’s nice to see that breweries around the country have gotten an early jump on distributing their pumpkin ales. I’m a big fan of this style of beer, and it was nice to try a couple of old favorites, in addition to a new one, recently.

Southern Tier Pumking; Southern Tier Brewing Co.; Lakewood, NY; Pumpkin Ale; ABV: 9.0. Pumking, in my opinion, is the best pumpkin ale on the planet. It pours a rich pumpkin color, with big notes of pumpkin and cinnamon spices complimented by nutmeg and caramel malt. Pumking is the closest thing to drinking a pumpkin pie that I have ever experienced, and this year’s batch seems to have taken the wonderful array of flavors up a notch. It’s also worth noting that the 9% alcohol content is well hidden.

Dogfish Punkin Ale; Dogfish Head Craft Brewery; Milton, DE; Pumpkin Ale; ABV: 7.0. While Punkin doesn’t have the big pumpkin pie presence of Pumking, it’s still a very enjoyable beer. This ale is copper in color, with big notes of nutmeg and cinnamon spices balanced by caramel malt and a hint of pumpkin in the backbone. Punkin is an easy drinking pumpkin ale that’s perfect for the Fall.

Southampton Pumpkin Ale; Southampton Publick House; Southampton, NY; Pumpkin Ale; ABV: 6.0. I tried Pumpkin Ale for the first time recently at WOB, and really enjoyed it. This amber colored ale is lighter in feel than Pumking and Punkin, but nonetheless has perfectly balanced notes of pumpkin, nutmeg, and cinnamon spices. Like Pumking, the pumpkin flavor is really drawn out in this beer.

I highly recommend each of these pumpkin ales as a splendid way to welcome in the Fall.

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Now Datz A Deli! http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/09/now-datz-a-deli/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/09/now-datz-a-deli/#comments Tue, 07 Sep 2010 00:35:14 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=2686

Datz is a classic New York style deli and loft bar

I went to check out Datz in South Tampa with Anne and Blanche today. I’d heard from reliable sources that it’s a deli reminiscent of the classic New York style venues I’d grown up with. Add to the fact that they have a new lounge and loft bar, which carries an extensive list of wine and craft beer, and you knew we just had to go.

I’m pleased to report that Datz more than lived up to our expectations. And in between my Roger’s Rockin’ Rueben and Mile High Cheesecake, I managed to enjoy a couple of fine beers as well.

I started with a pint of Bell’s Oarsman (Bell’s Brewery; Kalamazoo, MI; American Palw Wheat Ale; ABV: 4.0), a crisp, easy drinking wheat ale. Light golden in color, Oarsman has subtle notes of wheat, breaded malt, and citrusy hops, with a clean refreshing finish. At 4% ABV, it makes a really nice session beer, and I’m glad to see that it’s now available here in Florida.

I’m pleased to see that the season for pumpkin ales has started early, and when Datz has my all-time favorite on tap, you know that I can’t pass up a good thing. I ordered a pint of Southern Tier Pumking (Southern Tier Brewing Co.; Lakewood, NY; Pumpkin Ale; ABV: 9.0), in my opinion the best pumpkin ale on the planet. This ale is pumpkin in color, with big notes of pumpkin and cinnamon spices from start to finish. It’s the closest thing to drinking a pumpkin pie that I have ever come to!

In addition to a superb food and beverage menu, Datz has a wonderful big city feel to it. I strongly recommend stopping by next time you’re in Tampa.

Datz on Urbanspoon

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Grand Duchesse http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/09/grand-duchesse/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/09/grand-duchesse/#comments Mon, 06 Sep 2010 23:25:57 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=2676

Duchesse rules

When Anne and I were in Asheville recently, one of our stops was The Thirsty Monk. This brewpub has been noted for its extensive selection of craft beers, particularly from Belgium. We ordered some pub fare, along with a couple of outstanding Flemish ales.

Verhaeghe Duchesse De Bourgogne (Brouwerij Verhaeghe; Vichte, Belgium; Flanders Red Ale; ABV: 6.2) may very well be the best sour ale I have ever had. Named for medieval duchess Mary of Burgundy, it pours a deep chestnut brown color with notes of tart fruit, notably cherries, and dark malt. Since this ale is aged in oak conditioned casks, Duchesse has a red wine like feeling to it. The array of sweet and sour flavors are perfectly balanced throughout this ale, and it’s velvety smooth from start to finish.

Monk’s Café Flemish Sour Red Ale (Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.; Ertvelde, Belgium; Flanders Oud Bruin; ABV: 5.5) is brewed annually, in a limited quantity, for the acclaimed Philadelphia brewpub. Exceptional in its own right, this sour ale is chestnut in color with notes of tart fruit and sweet malt complimented by a woody backbone. Like Duchesse, Monk’s Café is smooth and well balanced, although it’s a tad lighter.

While Monk’s Cafe is brewed in limited quantities, Duchesse is appearing in more and more brewpubs nationwide. I strongly suggest giving each a try.

The Thirsty Monk on Urbanspoon

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An Oatmeal Raisin In The Sun http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/09/an-oatmeal-raisin-in-the-sun/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/09/an-oatmeal-raisin-in-the-sun/#comments Fri, 03 Sep 2010 22:57:00 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=2664

Betty Crocker has nothing on this Oatmeal Raisin Cookie

Our friend Brian was in town, so Anne and I met him for drinks at World of Beer. Angie pointed out that they had just tapped the latest offering from Cigar City, and I was eager to give it a try.

Cigar City Maduro Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Brown Ale (Cigar City Brewing; Tampa, FL; American Brown Ale; ABV: 5.5) is another craft beer in the Maduro series. It pours a dark brown color, with notes of sweet caramel and oatmeal raisin balanced by roasted malt and spices such as cinnamon and vanilla. Its richness has the feel of a more potent beer, and the oatmeal raisin cookie presence is very apparent from beginning to end. This is a beer to be savored either with dessert, or as an after dinner drink.

Kudos to Cigar City for brewing another outstanding beer in the Maduro series.

World of Beer on Urbanspoon

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Blues Brew http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/09/blues-brew/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/09/blues-brew/#comments Fri, 03 Sep 2010 02:08:34 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=2643

Bitches Brew hit the high notes

To commemorate the 40th anniversary of Miles Davis’ legendary jazz fusion album Bitches Brew, Dogfish Head Craft Brewery released a new Russian Imperial Stout. Mr. Beery’s had it both on tap and in bottles, so I decided to stop by and give it a try.

Dogfish Bitches Brew (Dogfish Head Craft Brewery; Milton, DE; Russian Imperial Stout; ABV: 9.0) is as smooth as the late jazz legend, and pours a jet black color. There’s notes of honey and dark chocolate complimented by dark fruit, roasted malt, and gesho root with a hint of smokiness at the finish. While I liked it on tap, I found that drinking Bitches Brew from the bottle, slightly chilled, captured the true essence of this stout. The alcohol presence wasn’t as noticeable as other imperial stouts, so Bitches Brew is quite easy to drink.

I trumpet the release of Bitches Brew, and salute DFH for crafting a worthy tribute to Miles Davis.

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Founders Keepers http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/09/founders-keeper/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/09/founders-keeper/#comments Fri, 03 Sep 2010 01:29:56 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=2625

FBS is a mocha on steroids

I finally got a chance to try the much acclaimed Founders Breakfast Stout (Founders Brewing Co.; Grand Rapids, MI; Imperial Stout; ABV: 8.3) when Anne and I had dinner at the 42nd Street Oyster Bar in Raleigh last week. I’m pleased to report that FBS not only lived up to its reputation, but exceeded it.

FBS pours a deep chocolate color, with humongous notes of chocolate and expresso coffee balanced by oatmeal and sweet malt. If you’re a fan of all things chocolate and/or java, this is the stout for you. Its rich, full-bodied flavor paired well with the chocolate ice cream that I had for dessert. The alcohol presence is definitely noticeable, so FBS won’t sneak up on you. It’s certainly a beer to be savored.

I’m glad to have finally tried this incredible stout, and highly recommend it.

42nd Street Oyster Bar on Urbanspoon

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Carolina In My Mind http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/08/carolina-in-my-mind/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/08/carolina-in-my-mind/#comments Wed, 01 Sep 2010 04:25:17 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=2601

The natural beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains...

Was a nice backdrop to Asheville's great brewpubs like The Thirsty Monk

Anne and I had a great vacation in North Carolina last week, and savored the best that this wonderfully diverse state had to offer. The Tar Heel State also has a diverse list of breweries and brewpubs, from Raleigh-Durham to Asheville. I’ve already highlighted several excellent beers from Highland Brewing in my previous post. I will take the time in this post to review the best of the remaining beers that we sampled on our tour.

Triangle Belgian Golden Ale; Triangle Brewing Co.; Durham, NC; Belgian Strong Pale Ale; ABV: 8.0. On tap at James Joyce Irish Pub in Durham. An outstanding golden amber ale, with notes of citrusy fruit and light malt complimented by honey and peppery spices. Silky smooth from start to finish with the 8% alcohol content very well hidden.

Duck-Rabbit Amber Ale; The Duck-Rabbit Craft Brewery; Farmville, NC; American Amber / Red Ale; ABV: 5.0. In bottles at The Carolina Ale House. Easy drinking amber ale with big notes of caramel malt and cinnamon spices balanced by sweet fruit, nuts, and a slight bitterness at the end.

Lonerider Chef’s Wit; Lonerider Brewing; Raleigh, NC; Witbier; ABV: 5.1. On tap at the Busy Bee Cafe in Raleigh. This straw colored Belgian style wit is a collaboration between the brewery and the chef from the Busy Bee Cafe. The big peppercorn notes are complimented by hints of orange and coriander with a wheat backbone. It complimented the fried green tomatoes and Bee’s Nuts that we enjoyed from the cafe’s wonderfully eclectic menu.

Mother Earth Dark Cloud; Mother Earth Brewing; Kinston, NC; Munich Dunkel Lager; ABV: 5.1. On tap at The Raleigh Times in Raleigh. An exceptional full-bodied dunkel. Chocolate in color with notes of caramel and roasted malt.

Aviator Caveman Alt; Aviator Brewing Co.; Fuquay Varina, NC; Altbier; ABV: 7.2. On tap at the 42nd Street Oyster Bar in Raleigh. A very smooth amber colored altbier. Notes of sweet caramel and roasted malt with a slightly bitter finish. The alcohol content of more than 7% isn’t too noticeable.

Appalachian Craft IPA; Appalachian Craft Brewery; Fletcher, NC; India Pale Ale; ABV: 6.7. On tap at the Bier Garden in Asheville. Copper red IPA with a huge hoppy presence complimented by sweet malt with a nice dry finish.

Craggie Battery Hill Bitter; Craggie Brewing Co.; Asheville, NC; English Bitter; ABV: 4.2. On tap at the Bier Garden in Asheville. Brewed from a century old family recipe. A perfectly balanced ESB, brown in color with notes of sweet malt, brown sugar, light floral hops, and cinnamon spices.

Pisgah Reserve (AVL); Pisgah Brewing Co.; Black Mountain, NC; Saison / Farmhouse Ale; ABV: 5.0. On tap at The Thirsty Monk in Asheville. Previously retired, this superb Belgian blonde is back in a limited offering. Notes of breaded yeast, coriander, and roasted malt. Exceptionally smooth from start to finish.

Oyster House IPA; Oyster House Brewing Co.; Asheville, NC: India Pale Ale; ABV: 6.0. On tap at Oyster House Brewing, which is located in the outstanding Lobster Trap restaurant in Asheville, NC. Amber colored IPA, with intense notes of floral hops backed by a rich malty backbone. This IPA was a perfect compliment to the Maine Lobster Roll that I had for the main course, in addition to the oysters that we enjoyed for an appetizer.

Asheville Red Light IPA; Asheville Brewing Co.; Asheville, NC; India Pale Ale; ABV: 5.2. On tap at Asheville Pizza & Brewing Co. in Asheville. Brought out of retirement, this IPA is an absolute hop bomb, copper red in color with the big notes of citrusy hops balanced by sweet malt. Red Light is a hop head’s dream, and has the feel of a more potent IPA. Asheville Brewing also crafts another excellent IPA, Asheville Shiva, that’s a smooth hoppy IPA, with a malty backbone, at 6% ABV. Each paired well with the excellent Mad Mushroom pizza that we had for dinner.

All in all, we had a great trip and it was great to sample a wide variety of craft beers from the Tar Heel State.

Asheville Pizza & Brewing CO on Urbanspoon

Busy Bee Cafe on Urbanspoon

Lobster Trap on Urbanspoon

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Aristocraft http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/08/aristocaft/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/08/aristocaft/#comments Mon, 30 Aug 2010 01:35:40 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=2567

We took an full day tour of the stupendous Biltmore

I later enjoyed a Great Gatsby Abbey at the Grove Park Inn

Asheville, NC is known as a hotbed for all things artisan, in addition to being named Beer City USA 2010 by a recent poll. Its beauty and charm has long been known by many of this country’s elites as well, which is why George Washington Vanderbilt II chose to build Biltmore Estate, the nation’s largest privately-owned home, in 1895. It consists of 250 rooms and 175,000 square feet spread out over 75 acres, equivalent to 140 Central Parks! Anne and I took a tour of this incredible mansion, and also had time to stop by Cedric’s Tavern, located on the estate, to enjoy drinks and a bite to eat.

I had a beer called Cedric’s Pale Ale (Highland Brewing; Asheville, NC; American Pale Ale; ABV: 5.0-6.0?), which was crafted for the Biltmore by Highland Brewing. Named after the beloved St. Bernard of George Vanderbilt, Cedric’s is a smooth, amber colored APA with notes of caramel malt and English hops complimented by hints of sweet fruit. This ale is quite refreshing from start to finish, and the estate plans to eventually brew it onsite in the future. It fully complimented the Italian Tuna Salad Sandwich that I ate for lunch.

After we finished the tour, we drove onto the Grove Park Inn for drinks and a spectacular view of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Completed in 1912 and renovated in 2007, this inn has served as a vacation retreat for celebrities and dignitaries alike. I started with an abbey named in honor of F. Scott Fitzgerald, who came here on an annual basis to either vacation or write.

Highland Grove Park Inn Great Gatsby Abbey Ale (Highland Brewing; Asheville, NC; Abbey Ale; ABV: 7.0-8.0?) is a full-bodied abbey with notes of caramel, German malt, and floral hops. It pours a chestnut color, and is a silky, easy drinking ale.

We finished at GPI by having dessert and a final round of drinks. I had the Highland Black Mocha Stout (Highland Brewing; Asheville, NC; American Stout; ABV: 5.3), an outstanding chocolate stout. The chocolate presence is complimented by notes of roasted malt and earthy hops, and had a cappuccino like feeling to it. Black Mocha paired well with the chocolate cake that I had for dessert.

Each of these beers were a perfect compliment to the day, and highly recommended.

Cedric's Tavern on Urbanspoon

Sunset Terrace - Grove Park Inn on Urbanspoon

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Rogues Gallery http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/08/rogues-gallery/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/08/rogues-gallery/#comments Fri, 20 Aug 2010 00:55:42 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=2537

Oregasmic will be good for you too

Anne and I met our friend Lori for Rogue Brewery Night at World of Beer last evening. There were about a dozen Rogue beers on tap, and I had the opportunity to sample several for the first time. Additionally, the beers were paired with cheese from Rogue Creamery, which added to the tasting as well.

Rogue Maierfest Lager; Rogue Ales Brewery; Newport, OR; Marzen; ABV: 5.6. I’ve always enjoyed this style of beer, and Maierfest is one of the better Marzens. Golden in color, with big notes of breaded malt complimented by sweet caramel, light floral hops, and spices. Maierfest is smooth and well balanced throughout, and makes for an excellent session beer.

Chatoe Rogue Oregasmic Ale; Rogue Ales Brewery; Newport, OR; American Pale Ale; ABV: 6.0. A superb APA, deep amber in color with notes of caramel malt and citrusy hops balanced by hints of chocolate and spices. Crisp and clean from start to finish. Like Maierfest, this ale makes an excellent session beer, so it’s quite easy to have multiple Oregasmics! Per Christian, WOB had one of only three kegs outside the state of Oregon.

Rogue Brutal IPA; Rogue Ales Brewery; Newport, OR; India Pale Ale; ABV: 6.2. Called an Imperial bitter by Rogue, and recently bottled in Oregon under the name Portland State IPA, this beer combines the piny hops of an IPA with the malty notes of an ESB. The hoppy presence and sweet malt backbone are perfectly balanced, with a slight bitterness at the end.

All in all, it was a fun filled evening and I relished the chance to try some excellent beers.

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What Brews Naturally http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/08/what-brews-naturally/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/08/what-brews-naturally/#comments Thu, 19 Aug 2010 23:35:58 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=2527

You won't say Nevermore to Raven's Eye

Organically brewed beers have become more and more common in recent years. And I had the chance to try two outstanding offerings recently.

Eel River Raven’s Eye Imperial Stout; Eel River Brewing Co.; Fortuna, CA; Russian Imperial Stout; ABV: 9.5. I shared a bottle with the gang at Mr. Beery’s this past Monday night, and was pleasantly surprised at how good this stout was. It pours a dark chocolate color, with big notes of sweet chocolate and expresso complimented by dark fruit such as cherries and roasted malt. Raven’s Eye has a rich, full-bodied taste to it, and the alcohol content is very well hidden, which is rare for a Russian Imperial Stout. This beer would make an excellent dessert beer, especially if paired with something chocolate.

Samuel Smith’s Organic Ale; Samuel Smith’s Old Brewery; Tadcaster, North Yorkshire, United Kingdom; English Pale Ale; ABV: 5.0. I had this exceptional ale at Shakespeare’s over the weekend, and it was even better than expected. Organic Ale pours a golden amber color, with notes of caramel malt and citrusy fruit balanced by breaded yeast and light earthy hops. This ale is crisp and clean, and is well balanced from start to finish. This EPA is a crisp, clean well balanced ale from start to finish. Needless to say, Organic Ale makes an excellent session beer.

I consider each of these organic brews to be among the best in their beer style, and highly recommend them.

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A Dunkel For The Dog Days http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/08/a-dunkel-for-the-dog-days/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/08/a-dunkel-for-the-dog-days/#comments Mon, 16 Aug 2010 03:02:59 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=2519

Hofbräu Dunkel provided Oktoberfest in August

The dog days of summer are here in full force. Anne and I were in St. Pete yesterday, and took a break from the triple digit heat index by stopping by The Moon Under Water for drinks and a bite to eat. I then took the time to enjoy a classic Bavarian dunkel.

Hofbräu Dunkel (Staatliches Hofbräuhaus; München, Germany; Munich Dunkel Lager; ABV: 5.5) is a full-bodied yet easy drinking beer. It pours a deep chestnut color, with big notes of caramel and chocolate. Each are complimented by hints of roasted malt and dark fruit such as cherries with a slight bitterness at the end. Hofbräu Dunkel is smooth from start to finish, and the big candy like presence makes this lager an absolute pleasure to drink. It certainly paired well with the shrimp curry that I had for lunch.

Hofbräu Dunkel is as wonderfully complex as it is refreshing, and highly recommended.

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Brewfari http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/08/brewfari/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/08/brewfari/#comments Tue, 10 Aug 2010 01:13:31 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=2475

I was in my natural habitat at Wazoo 2010

Anne and I had a blast at Wazoo 2010 this past Saturday night at the Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa. In addition to having more than 250 beers and beverages from around the world, the event featured cuisine from restaurants as well as live music from area based artists Velvet Jones, Impulse, and The Paper Stanleys. We also had a chance to get out of the heat for a bit at the zoo’s Beastly Beverage Club, which featured dinner and live music as well. Wazoo 2010 was a well organized brewfest, and I had the chance to sample some old favorites, as well as some new ones. I listed a sampling of the latter below.

Samuel Adams Sample A – Belgian IPA; Boston Beer Co.; Boston, MA; Belgian India Pale Ale; ABV: 8.0. Part of this year’s 2010 Longshot Series, this ale is my pick for the brewery’s 6th annual Beer Lover’s Choice. Golden in color, with big notes of citrusy and piny hops balanced by sweet malt and a spicy undertone from the Belgian yeast. As full-bodied as it is complex.

Samuel Adams Sample B – American Rye Ale; Boston Beer Co.; Boston, MA; Rye Beer; ABV: 5.3. This Longshot Series candidate pours a deep mahogany color and has notes of rye and roasted malt complimented by citrusy and floral hops. Very easy to drink with a nice dry finish.

Saint Somewhere Pays du Soleil; Saint Somewhere Brewing Co.; Tarpon Springs, FL; Saison / Farmhouse Ale; ABV: 8.0. A delicious saison from area based brewery Saint Somewhere. Amber in color, the big notes of tart and citrusy fruit are complimented by sweet caramel and toffee with a sour finish typical of a wild ale.

Saint Somewhere Saison Athene; Saint Somewhere Brewing Co.; Tarpon Springs, FL; Saison / Farmhouse Ale; ABV: 7.5. An excellent farmhouse ale. A golden saison brewed with chamomile, fresh rosemary and black pepper. The array of spices are backed by notes of sweet malt and citrusy fruit with a crisp clean finish.

Sierra Nevada Tumbler Autumn Brown Ale; Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.; Chico, CA; American Brown Ale; ABV: 5.5. A smooth brown ale, Tumbler has notes of sweet caramel and roasted malt, balanced by piny hops and a brown sugary backbone.

Dunedin The Rock Double IPA; Dunedin Brewery; Dunedin, FL; Imperial India Pale Ale; ABV: 8.0. From the local brewery’s Brewmaster Series, this DIPA pours a burnt orange color and has big notes of citrusy fruit balanced by caramel malt and piny hops with a slightly bitter finish.

Southampton Pumpkin Ale; Southampton Publick House; Southampton, NY; Pumpkin Ale; ABV: 5.5. An exceptional pumpkin ale from the Long Island based brewery. Copper in color, with the pumpkin pie presence complimented by sweet caramel and cinnamon spices.

Tampa Bay McBrews Scotch Ale; Tampa Bay Brewing Co.; Tampa, FL; Scottish Ale; ABV: 7.0. A smooth, easy drinking Scottish ale. Amber in color, with notes of sweet malt and chocolate balanced by light hops with a resiny finish.

Brooklyn Sorachi Ace; Brooklyn Brewery; Brooklyn, NY; Saison / Farmhouse Ale; ABV: 7.6. A superb saison from the acclaimed brewery. Golden in color, with the Japanese Sorachi hops balanced by notes of citrusy fruit, sweet malt, and peppery spices. Refreshing from start to finish.

Southern Tier Farmer’s Tan; Southern Tier Brewing Co.; Lakewood, NY; Imperial Pale Lager; ABV: 9.0. An eclectic, straw colored imperial lager. Big nose of citrusy and piny hops complimented by notes of sweet malt, wheat, and peppery spices.

Leffe Blonde; Anheuser-Busch InBev; Leuven, Belgium; Belgian Pale Ale; ABV: 6.6. A golden, easy drinking Belgian ale. The notes of citrusy fruit, particularly bananas, are balanced by sweet malt and light spices such as cloves.

We concluded the evening by sampling an excellent dopplebock from The Beer and Wine Makers Pantry. Called Strawberry Dopplebock, it poured a dark amber color with big notes of strawberries, roasted malt, and a hint of chocolate. I’m guessing the ABV is around 6-6.5%.

All in all, our brewfari was a total success!

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Have Brewpub Will Travel http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/08/have-brew-will-travel/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/08/have-brew-will-travel/#comments Mon, 09 Aug 2010 22:56:44 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=2464

BrewPub4U brings the keg party to you

Have you ever wanted a portable brewpub all your own for weddings, corporate outings, and other events? Well now you can. Seattle’s Duane Woytonik has developed a portable brewing system called BrewPub4U.

Nicknamed Sheila, this “pub on the go” consists of a 3.5 barrel brewing system, in addition to 8 keg holders, 8 taps, 10 bar stools, 2 big screen TVs, and a 60 gallon boiler. The device takes a 1/2 hour to set up, and while Woytonik and crew will supply the brewpub, the prospective customer is responsible for beer and any necessary permits.

BrewPub4U is based in Seattle and available throughout the Pacific Northwest. I’ve posted the company’s website below for anyone interested in more information.

http://www.brewpub4u.com/

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Good Karma http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/08/good-karma/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/08/good-karma/#comments Sat, 07 Aug 2010 18:22:33 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=2440

You'll get positive vibes from this Karma

Stopped by Shakespeare’s the other day and ordered a pint of Terrapin Hop Karma Brown IPA (Terrapin Beer Co.; Athens, GA; American Brown Ale; ABV: 6.0). Like Dogfish Indian Brown Ale, it’s brewed as a traditional brown ale crossed with an IPA. Karma is dark brown in color, with notes of citrusy hops akin to an IPA balanced by the roasted malt backbone of a brown ale. Each are complimented by hints of sweet caramel and nuts with a slightly bitter finish. Karma is smooth from start to finish, and really went well with the Thai chicken wrap that I ordered.

Anyone looking for good Karma should give this ale a try.

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Wazoo 2010 http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/08/wazoo-2010/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/08/wazoo-2010/#comments Fri, 06 Aug 2010 22:33:54 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=2428

You could go ape over Wazoo's impressive beer lineup

Voted by USA Today as one of the “10 Great Beer Festivals in the Country, Wazoo 2010 will take place at the Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa this Saturday. The 15th annual fundraiser will feature more than 250 beers and beverages from around the world, in addition to cuisine from local restaurants and live music from area based artists. A festive time should be had by all…see you there!

There are currently 70 tables that will be featuring beer samplings. Thanks Kelly for providing me with the beer lineup below.

MANATEE CIRCLE

Table 1 & 2
Boston Beer Company
Samuel Adams Twisted Tea
Samuel Adams Twisted Sweet Tea
Samuel Adams Boston Lager
Samuel Adams Latitude 48
Samuel Adams American Rye Ale
Samuel Adams Belgian-Style IPA
Samuel Adams Cherry Wheat
Samuel Adams Octoberfest
Samuel Adams Coastal Wheat

Table 3
Saint Somewhere Brewing Co.
Lectio Divina
Saison Athene
Pays de Soleil
Lazy Magnolia Brewing Co.
Indian Summer Spiced Ale
Southern Pecan Nut Brown Ale

Table 4
Belukus Importing
Blanche de Bruxelles
Wells Banana Bread
Hopus
Malheur 10
Young’s Double Chocolate Stout

Table 5
Sierra Nevada Brewing Company
Sierra-Nevada Pale Ale
Sierra-Nevada Summerfest
Sierra-Nevada Tumbler Autumn Brown Ale
Sierra-Nevada Kellerweis Hefeweizen
Sierra-Nevada Torpedo

Table 6
Dunedin Brewery
Red Head Red
Apricot Wheat Ale
The Rock Doysle IPA
Summer Buzz

Table 7
Terrapin Beer Company
India-Style Brown Ale
Rye Pale Ale
Sunray Wheat
Carlsberg USA
Carlsberg Lager
Tetely’s
Grimbergen

Table 8
Pabst Brewing Company
Milwaukee Wisconsin
Priomo Hawaii
Southampton Brewery
Southampton Double White
Southampton Pumpkin Ale

Table 9
Binding Brauerei USA
Radeberger Pilsner
Clausthaler Classic
Clausthaler Amber NA
Krusovice Imperial Lager
Krusovice Cerne

Table 10 & 11
Merchant Du Vin
Ayinger Jahrhundert-Bier
Ayinger Brau Weisse
Orval
Lindeman’s Cuvee Rene
Lindeman’s Lambic Framboise
Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout
Samuel Smith Nut Brown Ale
Samuel Smith India Ale

Table 12
Yuengling Brewing Company
Yuengling Black and Tan
Yuengling Porter
Yuengling Premium Light
Yuengling Traditional Lager
Lord Chesterfield Ale

Table 13
Harpoon Brewery
Harpoon IPA
Harpoon UFO
Harpoon Raspberry UFO
Leviathan Imperial IPA

Table 14
Brooklyn Brewery
Brooklyn Sorachi Ace
Brooklyn Brown Ale
Brooklyn East India Pale Ale
Brooklyn Lager
Brooklyn Schneider Hopfen Weisse
Brooklyn Local #2
Brooklyn Local #1

Table 15 & 16
MillerCoors
Leine’s Amber
Leine’s Shandy
Grolsch-Holland Pilsner
Peroni
Blue Moon
Pale Moon

Table 17
Abita Brewing Company
Abita Amber Lager
Abita Purple Haze
Abita Jockamo IPA
Abita Satsuma Wit
Abita Abbey Ale
Abita Turbo Dog

Table 18
Tampa Bay Brewing Company
TBBC Iron Rat Imperial Stout
TBBC McBrewr Scotch Ale
TBBC True Blonde Ale
TBBC Old Elephant Foot IPA
TBBC Kegerator

CAROUSEL

Table 19
Bell’s Brewing Company
Bell’s Amber Ale
Bell’s Oberon Ale
Bell’s Two Hearted Ale
Bell’s Porter
Bell’s Kalamazoo Stout

Table 20
Chimay
Chimay Rer (Primer)
Chimay White (Cinq Cents)
Chimay Blue (Grand Reserve)
Chang Beer
Carib

Table 21
Boulder Beer
Hazed & Infused Dry-Hopped Pale Ale
Mojo IPA
Sweaty Betty Blonde

Table 22
Breckenridge Brewery
Agave Wheat
Vanilla Porter
Avalanche Amber
Lucky U IPA

Table 23
Left Hand Brewing Company
Left Hand Milk Stout
Left Hand Sawtooth Amber
Oskar Blues Brewery
Dale’s Pale Ale
Mama’s Little Yella Pils

Table 24
Summit Brewing Company
Extra Pale Ale
India Rye Ale
Horizon Red

Table 25
Flying Dog Brewery
In Heat Wheat
Old Scratch Amber Ale
Raging Bitch Belgian IPA
Snake Dog IPA
Tire Biter Golden Ale
Doggie Style Classic Pale Ale

Table 26
SBS Imports
Aspall Medium Cider
Deproef La Grande Blanch
Deproef Les Deux Brasseurs

Table 27
Saranac
Saranac Pomegranate Wheat
Saranac Helles
Saranac Aranac Rey Pilsner
Saranac Pale Ale
Saranac Summer Ale
Saranac Amber Wheat

Table 28
Orange Blossom Pilsner
Orange Blossom Pilsner
Orange Blossom Pilsner Squared
Toasted Coconut Porter

Table 29
Cigar City Brewery
Jai-Alai IPA
Maduro Brown Ale
Cuban Espresso Maduro

Table 30 & 31
Diageo Brewing
Guinness – Ireland
Guinness Extra Stout – Ireland
Harp ARP
Smithwicks
Red Stripe
Red Stripe Light
Smirnoff Cranberry Lie Mixed Drinks
Smirnoff Blueberry Lemonade Mixed Drinks

Table 32
Florida Beer Company
Key West Sunset Ale
Key West Southernmost Wheat
Ybor Gold Amber Lager
Hurricane Reef Caribbean Pilsner
Kelly’s Hard Cider

Table 33
Shipyard and Sea Dog
Shipyard Export Ale
Shipyard Chamberlain Pale Ale
Sea Dog Blueberry Wheat

Table 34
Highland Brewing Company
Highland Gaelic Ale
Highland St.Terese’s Pale
Highland Oatmeal Porter
Highland Kashmir IPA

Table 35
Rogue Ales
Chocolate Stout
Sig’s Northwestern Ale
Brutal IPA

Table 36
Tampa Bay BEERS
Tampa Bay BEERS Cider
Tampa Bay BEERS Pale Ale
Tampa Bay BEERS Belgium
Tampa Bay BEERS Wheat

WALLAROO STATION

Table 37
Michelob Brewing Company
Pale Ale
Honey Lager
Seasonal – Beach Bum
Jack’s Pumpkin Spice Ale

Table 38
Anheuser-Busch
Shock Top
Bud Light Lime
Bud Light Golden Wheat
Budweiser

Table 39
In Bev
Stella
Leffe
Hoegaarden

Table 40
Craft Brewers Alliance
Widmer Hefeweizen
Kona Firerock
Longhammer IPA
Braggot

Table 41
Blue Point
Toasted Lager
Rastafa Rye
Blueberry Ale
Hoptical Illusion

Table 42
Crown Imports
Negra Modelo
Modelo Especial
Pacifico

Table 43
Asian/European
Polar
Tiger
Tsingtao
Estrella Damm

Table 44
Gordon Biersch
Seasonal – Sommerbrau
Marzen
Hefeweizen

Table 45
Magic Hat
#9
Seasonal – Wacko

Table 46
Victory Brewing Company
Prima Pils
Hop Devil
Donneybrook
Sunrise Weiss

Table 47
Southern Teir Brewing Company
Iniquity
Unearthly
Farmer’s Tan

Table 48
Kelly’s Cider
Strongbow
Green Mountain Beverage
Woodchuck Granny Smith Cider
Woodchuck Pear Cider
Woodchuck Dark & Dry

Table 49
Starr Hill
Northern Lights
Dark Starr Stout

Table 50
Cooper’s Ales
Cooper’s Lager
Cooper’s Sparkling Ale
Cooper’s Pale Ale
Cooper’s Vintage Ale

Table 51
Unibroue
Unibroue Ephemere Cassis
Unibroue La Fin Du Monde
Unibroue Maudite
Unibroue Terrible
Blanche de Chambly

Table 52
Spaten North America
Franziskaner Dunkel Weissen
Franziskaner Hefe Weisse
Spaten Premium Lager
Spaten Munchen Dunkel

Table 53
Narragansett Brewing Company
Narragansett
Narragansett Light
Total Beverage Solutions
Moretti
Moretti La Rossa

Table 54
St. John’s Brewing Company
Mango Pale Ale
Island Summer
Island Hoppin IPA
Liquid Sunshine

Table 55
Fort Collins Brewing Company
Melton
Rocky Mountain IPA
Retro Red
Chocolate Stout
Major Tom’s Pomegranate Wheat

Table 56
Swamp Head Brewing
Cotton Mouth
Stumpknocker Pale Ale
Wild Night
Midnight Oil

Table 57
Stansfeild Scott Inc.
Banks Beer
Red Brick – Atlanta Brewing
Blonde Ale
Laughing Skull
Porter (Double Chocolate Oatmeal Porter)

Table 58
The Beer and Wine Makers Pantry
Indian Pale Ale
Belgian Triple
Wheat Beer
Foreign Extra Stat

Table 59
Ace Ciders
Ace Apple Cider
Ace Perry Cider
Ace Joker Cider

AFRICA

Table 60
STONE Brewing Company
STONE Pale Ale
Arrogant Bastard Ale
Stone IPA

Table 61
BrewDog
Punk IPA
Dogma
Hardcore Imperial IPA
Avery Brewing Company
Avery Kaiser Imperial Oktoberfest
Avery White Rascal Belgian Style Wit
Avery IPA

Table 62
Anchor Brewing Company
Anchor Steam
Anchor Liberty
Anchor Porter
Anchor Old Foghorn Barleywine

Table 63
Latis Imports
Palm Amber Ale
The Bruery
Mischeif
Rugbrod
Saison de Lente

Table 64
Dogfish Head Craft
Dogfish Head Midas Touch
Dogfish Head Pangaea
Dogfish Head Festina Peche

Table 65
Paulaner Brauerrei
Paulaner Hefe Weissbier
Original Munich Lager Oktoberfest
Hacker-Pschorr Hefe Weisse
Hacker- Pschorr Oktoberfest Marzen

Table 66
Gambrinus
Shiner Smokehaus
Shiner Bock
Shiner Black
Pete’s Wicked Ale
Pete’s Strawberry Blonde

Table 67
Clipper City Brewing
Heavy Seas Loose Cannon
Hang Seas Small Craft Warning Uber Pils
Hang Seas Big DIPA
Heavy Seas Peg Leg Imperial Stout

Table 68
Brass Tap Beer Bar
Oskar Blues Gordon
Abita Amber
Chimay Blue
Bell’s Two Hearted Ale

Table 69
World of Beer
Palm Flying Dog Double Dog
Abita Turbodog
Rogue Hell’s Irish Lager

Table 70
BJ’s Brewhouse
Jeremiah Red
Piranna Pale Ale

http://www.lowryparkzoo.com/wazoo/

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Take Flight – Part 2 http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/08/take-flight-part-2/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/08/take-flight-part-2/#comments Fri, 06 Aug 2010 20:43:12 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=2419

I just had to go for seconds

I enjoyed the initial flight with the cheese pairing so much, that I ordered a second one featuring the following beers:

Blue Point Double Blonde Ale; Blue Point Brewing Co.; Patchogue, NY; American Blonde Ale; ABV: 7.4. A delicious blonde ale with notes of floral hops complimented by sweet caramel and toasted malt. Very easy to drink as the alcohol content of nearly 7 1/2% is well hidden.

Blue Point Old Howling Bastard; Blue Point Brewing Co.; Patchogue, NY; Barley Wine; ABV: 10.0. One of the the best barley wines that I’ve had this year. Amber in color, with big notes of sweet caramel well balanced by bready malt, citrusy fruit, and piny hops. Old Howling Bastard goes down smoothly, and the 10% alcohol content is well hidden.

Blue Point 10th Anniversary IPA; Blue Point Brewing Co.; Patchogue, NY; India Pale Ale; ABV: 7.0. A truly outstanding IPA. Copper in color, with big notes of citrusy and piny hops complimented by sweet caramel malt and a slight bitterness at the finish. Very easy to drink, 10th Anniversary Ale makes an excellent session beer.

Blue Point Rastafa Rye Ale; Blue Point Brewing Co.; Patchogue, NY; Rye Beer; ABV: 7.5. A well balanced rye beer with the feel of an IPA. Deep amber in color, Rastafa Rye Ale is an array of grassy hops, citrusy fruit, and caramel malt with a nice rye presence in the backbone. This IPA is silky smooth with a nice clean finish.

I talked shop with Rob later in the evening, and was pleased to learn that one of my favorite all-time IPAs will be coming out of retirement. Blue Point No Apologies Imperial IPA (Blue Point Brewing Co.; Patchogue, NY; Imperial India Pale Ale; ABV: 10.0) will once again be brewed in the coming months. This amber colored DIPA is an absolute hop bomb, with the substantial notes of earthy hops balanced by caramel malt and dark fruit.

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Take Flight – Part 1 http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/08/take-flight/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/08/take-flight/#comments Fri, 06 Aug 2010 03:31:38 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=2379

I really enjoyed the first flight and cheese pairing

I met my friends Bret and Kelly at Mr. Beery’s last evening for Blue Point Brewery Night. Mark put together one might have been the best beer and cheese pairing yet, and Blue Point Southeast Sales Manager Rob Johnson was on hand as well. I have long been a fan of the Long Island brewery, so I was really looking forward to having a flight of beer and sampling the artisan cheese.

The first pairing featured Blue Point Toasted Lager (Blue Point Brewing Co.; Patchogue, NY; American Amber Lager; ABV: 5.3), one of my favorite amber lagers of all time, with Beechers No Woman Cheddar with Jamaican Jerk Spice. Toasted Lager is crisp and clean, with the toasted malt flavor complimented by sweet caramel, and light citrusy hops. At just over 5% ABV, it’s an easy drinking session beer, and quite comparable to other superb Vienna style lagers such as Brooklyn Lager. The spicy flavor of No Woman played well off the silky smoothness of Toasted Lager.

The second pairing was the best of the evening. It featured Blue Point Hoptical Illusion (Blue Point Brewing Co.; Patchogue, NY; India Pale Ale; ABV: 6.8) with Grafton Duet – Vermont Cheddar & Minnesota Blue Cheese Sandwich. A delicious golden IPA, Hoptical Illusion has big notes of citrusy hops with a sweet malt backbone. Duet’s blue cheese flavor was really drawn out by the hoppy presence of Hoptical Illusion.

Blueberries were the theme for the third pairing, between Blue Point Blueberry Ale (Blue Point Brewing Co.; Patchogue, NY; Fruit / Vegetable Beer; ABV: 4.6) and Vermont Creamery Fresh Goat Crottin rolled in Blueberry Sugar. Light amber in color, with generous notes of blueberries balanced by caramel malt and a hint of floral hops, Blueberry Ale is a perfect Summer ale and really complimented the Fresh Goat Crottin.

The fourth and final pairing if the night featured Blue Point Oatmeal Stout (Blue Point Brewing Co.; Patchogue, NY; Oatmeal Stout; ABV: 4.5) and Cypress Grove Lamb Chopper. Chocolate in color, with well balanced notes of chocolate, roasted malt, and oatmeal, this stout brought out the smokiness of Lamb Chopper.

Many thanks to Mr. Beery’s and Bluepoint for putting the beer and cheese pairing together.

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Gubnatorial Candidate http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/08/gubnatorial-candidate/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/08/gubnatorial-candidate/#comments Mon, 02 Aug 2010 23:15:19 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=2363

Gubna gets my vote

There’s been a growing trend among breweries to sell beer in cans. Besides the obvious cost cutting advantages, storing beer in a can will preserve it longer, as well as act like a mini keg. Colorado brewery Oskar Blues, and Keweenaw Brewing out of Michigan, are among the leaders in this movement. And a DIPA that I had from the former is quite simply the best beer that I have ever had in a can.

Oskar Blues Gubna Imperial IPA (Oskar Blues Grill & Brewery; Lyons, CO; Imperial India Pale Ale; ABV: 10.0) is an absolute hop-bomb! It pours a golden orange color, with big notes of citrusy and piny hops. The big hoppy presence is well balanced by caramel malt and peppery spices with a slightly bitter finish. Despite its potency, the alcohol content of 10% isn’t too noticeable. Crisp and refreshing, Gubna replaces Oskar Blues own Gordon Imperial IPA as my favorite canned beer.

I cast my vote for Gubna, and highly recommend that you give it a try.

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Mama Mia! http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/07/mama-mia/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/07/mama-mia/#comments Sat, 31 Jul 2010 06:46:11 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=2352

One sip will turn you into a Mama's boy...or girl

I had the good fortune of trying one of the world’s top 10 IPAs, as rated by Beer Advocate, Beer Pal, and Rate Beer, when I stopped by Mr. Beery’s this past week. During Beer School Night, Mark brought out a growler of Town Hall Masala Mama IPA (Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery; Minneapolis, MN; India Pale Ale; ABV: 5.9) for us to sample. Needless to say, I was very impressed.

Masala Mama pours a deep mahogany color, with big notes of Cascade hops in the nose and taste. The latter is complimented by citrusy fruit and toffee, with the sweet malt backbone apparent at the end. This IPA is silky smooth from start to finish, and with an alcohol content of just under 6%, is quite easy to drink. Masala Mama would make an excellent session beer for hop-heads, and non hop-heads, alike.

I highly recommend Masala Mama, and thank Mark for sharing with the class.

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This Is The End http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/07/this-is-the-end/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/07/this-is-the-end/#comments Fri, 30 Jul 2010 10:44:22 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=2338

This Squirrel and Stoat are hopefully The End of History

The race for the World’s Strongest Beer has gotten carried away, and it looks like at least one brewery in the competition finally gets it. BrewDog has once again put out the latest pacesetter, but has stated that this will be their final foray into pushing the limits of alcohol content.

BrewDog The End of History (BrewDog Ltd.; Fraserburgh, Scotland; Belgian Strong Ale; ABV: 55.0), a blonde Belgian strong ale, was released in bottles stored in stuffed animals; about a dozen apiece for the Stoat and Gray Squirrel. At £500 and £700 apiece, they retailed for roughly $800 and $1100 at current exchange rates, and were the most expensive beers ever produced as well. Despite the expense, all of the bottles sold out as soon as they became available.

Hopefully this will truly be the end of history. Maybe Schorschbräu, which had recently been on top with their 43% eisbock, will produce a 56% or even 60% and that will end the madness.

With an alcohol content of 55%, The End of History more than doubled the potency of Samuel Adams Utopias, which at 27% was the benchmark less than two years ago.

Update: No sooner had I wrote this post, that Dutch brewery Het Koelschip returned to the top of the heap with a beer called Start The Future. Start The Future is reported to have an ABV of 60%, and like The End Of History, to be a Belgian strong ale.

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Nothing Soothes Like A Barley Wine http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/07/nothing-soothes-like-a-barley-wine/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/07/nothing-soothes-like-a-barley-wine/#comments Tue, 27 Jul 2010 05:19:50 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=2309

From left to right: Pugsley, Back Burner, Old Howling Bastard, & Hog Heaven

The quote above was uttered by the late beer guru Michael Jackson, and I couldn’t agree more. I can’t get enough of barley wines. So it was a no-brainer that Anne and I attended the Ultimate F# You to Summer and Summer Beer Styles Barley Wine Fest, at Willard’s Tap House in Largo, this past Saturday. There were eight barley wines in all on tap, including heavy hitters such as Anchor Old Foghorn, Brooklyn Monster Ale, Sierra Nevada Bigfoot, and Weyerbacher Blithering Idiot. As I’ve enjoyed these beers and reviewed them in the past, I decided to sample several barley wines that were new to me.

Shipyard Barley Wine Style Ale (Pugsley Signature Series); Shipyard Brewing Co.; Portland, ME; Barley Wine; ABV: 8.5. A chocolate colored barley wine with intense notes of roasted malt complimented by sweet caramel, dark fruit, and spicy hops with a woody finish. Definitely an ale to be sipped.

Southern Tier Back Burner; Southern Tier Brewing Co.; Lakewood, NY; Barley Wine; ABV: 10.0. I was curious to try this barley wine as it’s from one of my favorite breweries. Back Burner is mahogany in color and has big notes of roasted barley and sweet caramel, balanced by floral hops and dark fruit. The alcohol content of 10% is noticeable, so it’s definitely a sipping beer. I enjoyed Back Burner, but was expecting something more.

Blue Point Old Howling Bastard; Blue Point Brewing Co.; Patchogue, NY; Barley Wine; ABV: 10.0. The best barley wine that I sampled at the Barley Wine Fest. Amber in color and well balanced. Big notes of sweet caramel are complimented by bready malt, citrusy fruit, and piny hops. Old Howling Bastard goes down smoothly, and the 10% alcohol content is well hidden. In many ways, it reminds me of a West Coast barley wine. Willard’s currently has the only keg of Old Howling Bastard in Florida.

Avery Hog Heaven; Avery Brewing Co.; Boulder, CO; Barley Wine; ABV: 9.2. An exceptional barley wine and my second favorite of the beers sampled. Ruby in color with lots of piny hops in the notes, balanced by caramel malt and citrusy fruit with a nice dry finish. This is a hop head’s barley wine, and the alcohol content of over 9% isn’t too noticeable.

Needless to say, I recommend each of these barley wines and thank Willard’s for putting this event together.

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Good Men Drink Good Beer http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/07/good-men-drink-good-beer/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/07/good-men-drink-good-beer/#comments Sat, 24 Jul 2010 15:51:13 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=2267

Brooklyner Weisse was among the 30 beers on tap at Growlers

The late Hunter S. Thompson coined the phase above, which is on the blackboard of a new pub that just opened in Sarasota called Growlers. Owned by Kevin and Sherry Kolyno, has 30 beers on tap and at least as many in bottles. From the easy drinking pale lager Jalehouse Light to the superb tripel Chimay Cinq Cents, there’s something for everyone here. Growlers is located on North Tamiami, not far from Ringling College of Art & Design and the University of South Florida. Like Mr. Beery’s and several of the newer pubs around town, the environment is non-smoking. I hung out and sampled several beers.

Brooklyner Weisse; Brooklyn Brewery; Brooklyn, NY; Hefeweizen; ABV: 5.0. This is a smooth, easy drinking Bavarian style wheat beer. It pours a golden straw color, and has notes of wheat and citrusy fruit such as bananas balanced by clove and vanilla spices with a sweet malty finish. An excellent Summer session beer from Brooklyn Brewery.

Ommegang Hennepin; Brewery Ommegang; Cooperstown, NY; Saison / Farmhouse Ale; ABV: 7.7. An exceptional saison from Ommegang and one of my all-time favorites. Hennepin is golden in color and has big notes of citrusy hops complimented by coriander and peppery spices, with a dry malt aftertaste. As this beer is crisp and refreshing, and the alcohol content of nearly 8% isn’t too noticeable, Hennepin is perfect for this time of year.

Weihenstephaner Hefe Weissbier; Brauerei Weihenstephan; Freising, Germany; Hefewezen; ABV: 5.4. A wonderful full-bodied hefeweizen. Hazy golden in color, Hefe Weissbier has big notes of sweet malt and yeast complimenting the wheat, with a nice backbone of citrusy fruit. This beer rivals Schneider Wiesen Edel-Weisse as my favorite hefeweizen.

I congratulate Growlers on their opening, and welcome them to the ever expanding family of brewpubs in town.

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Put On Your Drinking Cap http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/07/put-on-your-drinking-cap/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/07/put-on-your-drinking-cap/#comments Sat, 24 Jul 2010 03:59:55 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=2254

Thanks to Beer Saver, this Heirloom didn't become antiquated

I had an interesting product sent to me this past week by Christian Lavender, founder of Beersavers. Called the Beer Saver, it’s a silicone cap that comes appropriately enough in a 6-pack. The cap is designed to keep beer fresh, as well as to identify your bottle from others at a pub, party, etc. Additionally, it’s fully washable and reusable. So I decided to put the Beer Saver to the test.

I sampled a small pour from a bottle of Pike Pale Heirloom Amber Ale (Pike Pub & Brewery; Seattle, WA; American Amber / Red Ale; ABV: 5.3), then used a Beer Saver cap to seal the bottle up for another day. Heirloom is a smooth amber ale that has a big malty presence up front, balanced by citrusy hops and a nutty finish. I’m pleased to report that Heirloom retained its flavor, and was just as enjoyable the next day.

Kudos to Christian for developing such a cool gadget. For anyone interested in ordering a pack or two, I’ve included the website below.

http://www.beersavers.com/

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Whale Of An Ale http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/07/whale-of-an-ale/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/07/whale-of-an-ale/#comments Sun, 18 Jul 2010 13:05:43 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=2246

Captain Ahab would sail after this Leviathan

In classical literature, the Leviathan was described as either a sea monster or great whale, e.g. Moby Dick. And like Leviathan Imperial IPA, Boston brewery Harpoon has brewed another beer in their series that lives up to its namesake.

Harpoon Leviathan Baltic Porter (Harpoon Brewery; Boston, MA; Baltic Porter; ABV: 9.5) is a full-bodied porter, with a big chocolate presence in the color, nose, and taste. The chocolate notes are complimented by caramel, dark fruit, and a hint of coffee at the finish. Leviathan Baltic Porter has a velvety feel to it, and the 9.5% alcohol content isn’t too noticeable. The richness of this porter would make it an excellent dessert beer.

Leviathan Baltic Porter is a true heavyweight, and I strongly suggest giving it a try.

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Come To The Dark Side http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/07/come-to-the-dark-side/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/07/come-to-the-dark-side/#comments Sat, 17 Jul 2010 15:55:29 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=2239

You don't have to be Anakin Skywalker to crave The Dark Side

As anyone who follows the Star Wars film series knows, Anakin Skywalker gave in to the Dark Side. And there’s a stout from Terrapin that could bring out the Darth Vader in you.

Terrapin Side Project #9 The Dark Side (Terrapin Beer Co.; Athens, GA; Belgium Style Imperial Stout; ABV: 8.5) is an exceptional imperial stout. It pours a jet black color and has notes of chocolate and roasted malt balanced by dark fruit, molasses, and a spicy smokiness at the finish. The Dark Side is fermented with Trappist ale yeast, which actually gives it the feeling of a Belgian strong ale. The taste is as rich as it is smooth, and the 8.5% alcohol content is well hidden.

Needless to say, I highly recommend that you come to The Dark Side.

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High Flying Dutchman http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/07/high-flying-dutchman/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/07/high-flying-dutchman/#comments Fri, 16 Jul 2010 03:41:45 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=2228

Breweries keep reaching for the sky

The King Is Dead…Long Live The King!

For anyone that cares, we have a new World’s Strongest Beer. Het Koelschip Obilix (Brouwerij het Koelschip; Almere, Netherlands; Amber Ale; ABV: 45.0) is an amber ale that can now lay claim to the crown. Brewer Jan Nijboer made this ale as a statement against the continuing trend of brewing the beer with the highest alcohol content.

From what I’ve read, it tastes more like a whiskey than a beer. Het Koelschip Obilix doesn’t appear to be available to the U.S., and based upon the initial reviews that I’ve seen, is probably not worth the effort. It’ll be interesting to see how Schorschbräu and BrewDog respond.

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Draft Horse http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/07/draft-horse/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/07/draft-horse/#comments Tue, 13 Jul 2010 23:06:16 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=2222

Brabant definitely has some kick to it

The brabant is a type of draft horse, bred by the Belgians, known for its stocky built and considerable strength. And a beer that I tried recently is a rare breed…uh brew…for sure.

Avery Brabant (Avery Brewing Co.; Boulder, CO; American Wild Ale; ABV: 8.7) is an American wild ale that in many ways also has the traits of a Belgian strong ale. Chocolate in color, it’s fermented with Brettanomyces yeast and aged in Zinfandel barrels for nine months. There’s notes of sour cherries in the nose and taste, and the latter is complimented by hints of chocolate, dark fruit, and roasted malt. The finish has a oaky, wine like feeling to it, courtesy of the aging process. Brabant is as smooth as it is complex.

I really enjoyed the wonderfully eclectic Brabant, and hope that Avery makes it more readily available in this neck of the woods.

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Not So Fatal Attraction http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/07/bitchy-brew/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/07/bitchy-brew/#comments Thu, 08 Jul 2010 01:55:22 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=2153

Raging Bitch won't land you in hot water

We watched Fatal Attraction for the umpteenth time the other night. As most of you know, Dan Gallagher (Michael Douglas) thought that he could have his cake and eat it too, but instead wound up with rabbit stew. Ironically, I just had a beer whose title would be a fitting description of Alex Forrest (Glenn Close).

Flying Dog Raging Bitch (Flying Dog Brewery, Frederick, MD; Belgian India Pale Ale; ABV: 8.3) is another excellent ale from the former Colorado, and now Maryland based, brewery. As mentioned in previous posts, Belgian IPAs have become a trend in the last year or two, and Raging Bitch takes its place among the better ones. It pours a light amber color, with notes of citrusy fruit such as bananas and grapefruit in the nose and taste. The latter is complimented by honey, sweet malt, and piny hops with a slight bitterness at the finish. Raging Bitch is as smooth as it is complex, so the 8.3% alcohol content isn’t very noticeable. All in all, I found Raging Bitch to be a really enjoyable Belgian IPA.

This is one Raging Bitch without any drama, and I strongly suggest giving it a try.

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No (Green) Flash In The Pan http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/07/no-green-flash-in-the-pan/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/07/no-green-flash-in-the-pan/#comments Sat, 03 Jul 2010 14:17:22 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=2144

Green Flash West Coast IPA is another superb ale from the brewery

I’ve been a fan of San Diego area brewery Green Flash for some time. And I recently got reacquainted with another of their outstanding ales.

Green Flash West Coast IPA (Green Flash Brewing Co.; Vista, CA; India Pale Ale; ABV: 7.3) is a crisp and refreshing IPA. Copper in color, this beer is a traditional West Coast IPA. There’s big notes of Cascade and Simcoe hops in the nose and taste. The hops are prevalent from start to finish, with a slight hint of malt and a nice grapefruit backbone at the end. Smooth and quite drinkable, Green Flash West Coast IPA is not only a hop-head’s dream, but would make a nice introduction to newbies that are interested in trying a substantially hoppy beer.

Needless to say, I highly recommend Green Flash West Coast IPA.

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That’s Something http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/07/thats-something/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/07/thats-something/#comments Fri, 02 Jul 2010 06:14:30 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=2120

Quelque Chose is a cherry bomb

Quelque Chose is a popular French Canadian expression meaning “that’s something”. And an ale that I had during Prohibition Night at Mr. Beery’s was something else indeed!

Unibroue Quelque Chose (Unibroue; Chambly, Quebec, Canada; Fruit / Vegetable Beer; ABV: 8.0) is quite simply the best fruit beer that I have ever had. It pours a deep ruby red and has big notes of black cherry in the nose and taste. The considerable cherry presence is complimented by tart fruit, sweet malt, and cinnamon spices, with a dry oakiness at the end. Quelque Chose has a red wine feeling to it, is quite easy to drink, and the 8% ABV isn’t that noticeable. Fans of the brewery’s outstanding Éphémère will truly appreciate this beer.

I highly recommend giving Quelque Chose a try, and confident that you’ll exclaim “that’s something”!

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Hair Of The Dog That Bit Me http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/06/hair-of-the-dog-that-bit-me/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/06/hair-of-the-dog-that-bit-me/#comments Tue, 29 Jun 2010 01:27:39 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=2099

You could go rabid for Adam and Doggie Claws

“Hair of the Dog That Bit Me” is a saying that goes back to olden times. There was a belief that a shot or two of alcohol could cure just about anything, from rabies (along with hair from the rabid dog) to hangovers. There’s actually been some scientific studies to support the latter. In any event, there are several beers from the outstanding brewery Hair of the Dog that have left many a good beer aficionado wagging his/her tail!

Hair of the Dog Adam; Hair of the Dog Brewing Co.; Portland, OR; Old Ale; ABV: 10.0. Brewed in the historic Adambier style of Germany, Adam is a superb full-bodied old ale. The first beer brewed by Hair of the Dog, it’s jet black in color and has notes of chocolate and tart fruit in the nose and taste, with the latter complimented by caramel malt, spices, and light hops, with a woody feeling in the backbone. Adam is velvety smooth, but also quite robust, so the 10% ABV isn’t going to sneak up on you. It reminds me a little of a more potent version of the Ola Dubh Reserve Series from Harviestoun.

Hair of the Dog Doggie Claws; Hair of the Dog Brewing Co.; Portland, OR; Barley Wine; ABV: 11.5. A big tasting, traditional West Coast barley wine. Deep mahogany in color, there’s ample notes of Simcoe and Amarillo hops in the nose and taste, balanced by sweet malt, dark fruit, and cinnamon spices with a hint of honey as well. Doggie Claws has a sherry like feeling to it, and is quite warming as well. This is a sipping beer for sure, in order to fully appreciate its wonderful complexity.

Hair of the Dog Fred; Hair of the Dog Brewing Co.; Portland, OR; Barley Wine; ABV: 10.0. Another exceptional barley wine, Fred was brewed to honor beer writer and historian Fred Eckhardt. Deep amber in color, Fred has notes of sweet caramel and Cascade hops in the nose and taste. The latter is backed up by dark fruit, vanilla spices, and a wine like oakiness at the finish. This beer is quite sweet and easy to drink, and I agree with several of my friends that it reminds one of a kinder, gentler version of Dogfish 120 Minute IPA.

Each of these ales are as enjoyable as they are complex, and highly recommended.

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Food For Thought http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/06/food-for-thought/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/06/food-for-thought/#comments Wed, 23 Jun 2010 01:33:00 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=2044

Consecrator's debut highlighted the main course...

while Kalamazoo Stout topped off dessert and a wonderful evening

Anne and I attended the Bell’s Brewery/Mr. Beery’s Beer Dinner at The Founders Club in Sarasota this past Saturday. It was a chance to gather with good friends, and to make some new ones, while savoring several Bell’s offerings paired with a delicious four course menu, courtesy of Chef Marco Marini.

We started the evening with Bell’s Oberon Ale (Bell’s Brewery; Kalamazoo, MI; American Pale Wheat Ale; ABV: 5.8), the brewery’s flagship beer. Golden orange in color, with notes of citrusy hops and light malt in the nose and taste, Oberon is a crisp, refreshing wheat ale. It paired brilliantly with the spicy Seared Sea Scallops that was the opening entrée.

Next came Bell’s Two Hearted Ale (Bell’s Brewery, Inc.; Kalamazoo, MI; India Pale Ale; ABV: 7.0), paired with the Traditional Seafood Risotto. Amber in color, this IPA is a lighter alternative to their spectacular hop bomb HopSlam. There’s notes of big citrusy hops and sweet malt in the nose and taste, with a hint of honey at the end.

Bell’s Consecrator Doppelbock (Bell’s Brewery, Inc.; Kalamazoo, MI; Doppelbock; ABV: 8.0) made its Florida debut as part of the main course. Chestnut in color, this smooth dopplebock has big notes of sweet caramel in the nose and taste, complimented in the latter by dark fruit and molasses with a nice sweet finish. Consecrator paired well with the Roasted Colorado Lamb Chops, and I’m looking forward to seeing this seasonal finally distributed in The Sunshine State.

We concluded the beer dinner with dessert. Bell’s Kalamazoo Stout (Bell’s Brewery, Inc.; Kalamazoo, MI; Sweet Stout; ABV: 6.5) was paired with the Expresso and Belgian Chocolate Napoleon. Chocolate in color, with big notes of chocolate and caramel malt in the nose and taste, Kalamazoo Stout is an outstanding sweet stout and matched up perfectly with the Napoleon. In fact, along with the first course, this was the best pairing of the evening.

Many thanks to Cindi Curtis and Mark for putting this wonderful event together, and to Chef Marini for his superb menu.

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Mirror, Mirror On The Wall http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/06/mirror-mirror-on-the-wall/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/06/mirror-mirror-on-the-wall/#comments Fri, 18 Jun 2010 03:02:02 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=2027

Who is the fairest brew of all

While I’m a big fan of Belgians, IPAs, and Olde Ales, I would have to say that a great barley wine is still my favorite style of beer. And one that I brought to Beer Nerd Night at Mr. Beery’s may have been the fairest one of all.

Deschutes Mirror Mirror Barleywine Vintage 2009 (Deschutes Brewery; Bend, OR; Barley Wine; ABV: 11.0) is quite simply an outstanding barley wine and part of Deschutes Reserve Series. Aged in oak barrels, Mirror Mirror is actually a doubled up version of their Mirror Pond Pale Ale. It pours a dark amber color and there’s notes of sweet caramel and vanilla in the nose. There’s a lot going on in the taste, as the sweet caramel and vanilla are complimented by dark fruit and Cascade hops, with a bourbon like backbone from the oak barrels. Mirror Mirror has a warming, almost candy like feel to it as well, and goes down quite smoothly for a beer with an 11% alcohol content. Even patrons who aren’t normally barley wine drinkers were enchanted by it!

Needless to say, this is my new favorite barley wine and I highly recommend it.

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1 In A 100 http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/06/1-in-a-100/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/06/1-in-a-100/#comments Mon, 14 Jun 2010 22:24:03 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=1985

Westvleteren 12 makes a very strong case for its top ranking

I started Billy’s Beer Blog a year-and-a-quarter ago and this is my 100th post. So I thought it fitting to use this post to review what Beer Advocate, Rate Beer, and many others consider The World’s Best Beer.

I bought two bottles of Westvleteren 12 (Westvleteren Abdij St. Sixtus; Westvleteren, Belgium; Quadrupel; ABV: 10.2) from the online store BelgianShop, and was really excited to try this highly acclaimed ale. In addition to ranking at or near the top of most beer lists, Westvleteren 12 is also one of the rarest beers in the world and not that easy to find. So I counted my blessings and decided to open a bottle.

Westvleteren 12 is quite possibly the most complex beer that I have ever had. It’s best served in a tulip glass at room temperature, after the ale itself is slightly chilled, in order to truly appreciate the subtleties of this amazing beer.

Westvleteren 12 pours a rich chestnut color, and there are light notes of caramel and dark fruit in the nose. The flavor is a delicious array of caramel malt, dark fruit, and spices with a hint of sweet fruit in the very smooth finish. Everything about this beer is in perfect balance, and there’s a nice warming sensation with each sip. Westvleteren 12, in fact, actually gets better as it’s allowed to sit and be savored.

Needless to say, I agree that this is one of the world’s best beers, and could see how many can make a case for it being the best period. I highly recommend Westvleteren 12, and I’m debating whether to age the second bottle, as it’s reported to be even better if done so, or to open it in the not too distant future.

For those of you who’d like to experience this beer, and don’t mind shelling out a pretty penny to do so, it’s available at the following website:

http://shop.belgianshop.com/acatalog/Westvleteren.html

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Great Minds Brew Alike http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/06/great-minds-brew-alike/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/06/great-minds-brew-alike/#comments Thu, 10 Jun 2010 02:30:50 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=1865

Saison Du BUFF is a rather interesting brainchild

There’s been more and more collaborations between craft breweries over the last year or so, and the trend continues with a saision brewed by Dogfish, Victory, and Stone.

Dogfish/Victory/Stone Saison Du BUFF (Stone Brewing Co.; Escondido, CA; Saison / Farmhouse Ale; ABV: 6.8) is a complex and very eclectic ale. It’s brewed with parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme (Scarborough Fair anyone?) and each is quite noticeable in both the nose and taste. The former reminded me of the aromas that one would experience in an Italian kitchen, while the latter is balanced by citrusy fruit and ginger with notes of sweet caramel at the finish. Saison Du BUFF pours a hazy golden color, and is quite easy to drink despite its complexity.

I salute Dogfish, Victory, and Stone for brewing Saison Du BUFF, and recommend it to beer connoisseurs who are looking for a unique experience.

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Bonus Time http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/06/bonus-time/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/06/bonus-time/#comments Tue, 08 Jun 2010 23:58:52 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=1855

110K+OT Batch #3 is right on the money

Cigar City annually releases a limited batch of their 110K+OT. Each year they brew a different style of beer that’s widely anticipated. Cigar City even holds a very popular release party at their brewery to mark the occasion. This year’s offering is Batch #3.

Cigar City 110K+OT Batch #3 (Cigar City Brewing; Tampa, FL; Imperial India Pale Ale; ABV: 10.0) is a full-bodied DIPA that’s definitely worth the wait. It pours a deep amber color and there are notes of floral hops and tropical fruit in the nose. The taste is very sweet with the floral hops and tropical fruit complimented by caramel malt, honey, and a slightly bitter finish. Like Bigfoot, this is a DIPA that reminded me of a barley wine. If you’re a fan of the latter like I am, then Batch #3 will certainly be a hit with you.

All in all, I enjoyed Batch #3 even more than last year’s eclectic and smoky imperial stout Batch #2. I highly recommend that you give it a try.

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Checkered Flag http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/06/checkered-flag/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/06/checkered-flag/#comments Sun, 06 Jun 2010 13:53:56 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=1820

Speedway earns the pole position

The San Diego area is becoming a hotbed for exceptional breweries. The region can count AleSmith, Green Flash, and Stone among them. And I recently tried a beer from the former that truly deserves the label imperial stout.

AleSmith Speedway Stout (AleSmith Brewing Co.; San Diego, CA; Imperial Stout; ABV: 12.0) is nothing less than superlative. It’s a full-bodied beer that pours a jet black color, with big notes of coffee in the nose and taste. The latter is balanced by milk chocolate, dark fruit, and roasted malt with a hint of caramel at the finish. Speedway is quite smooth from start to finish, and amazingly the alcohol content of 12% isn’t too noticeable. This stout will definitely send your taste buds racing!

All in all, Speedway lives up to its big reputation and I highly recommend it.

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Jurassic Pint http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/06/jurassic-pint/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/06/jurassic-pint/#comments Thu, 03 Jun 2010 01:46:51 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=1813

T-Rex is no match for Tricerahops

I decided to use a catchy title for this post, although like most of the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park, Triceratops actually lived during the Cretaceous period. As large as a bus, with a head equipped with three horns and a protective frill, this ceratopsian was more than a match for any predator of its time, including a certain Tyrant Lizard King.

Our friends Brad and Rachael invited us to a barbeque at their new house on Memorial Day, and I knew that Brad was a big fan of IPAs. So I decided to bring a bottle of Ninkasi Tricerahops Double IPA (Ninkasi Brewing Co.; Eugene, OR; Imperial India Pale Ale; ABV: 8.8). Like its namesake, this ale really packs a punch.

Tricerahops pours a rich amber color, and there’s big notes of hops in the nose. The full-bodied taste is an array of piny and citrusy hops, complimented by sweet caramel malt and honey with a nice dry finish. Tricerahops is smooth from start to finish, and paired well with the great BBQ that our friends put together. The alcohol content of nearly 9% isn’t noticeable initially, so precede with caution, or you could end up like a T-Rex on the wrong side of Triceratops’s business end!

I’ve seen a couple of reviews that described Tricerahops as a West Coast version of Bell’s HopSlam. With its big hoppy presence and malty backbone, however, I consider it to be more like a West Coast equivalent of Southern Tier Unearthly.

Like their Total Domination IPA, Ninkasi has brewed another classic ale. I highly recommend Tricerahops, and was glad to share it with Brad and Rachael this Memorial Day.

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Spaced Out http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/06/spaced-out/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/06/spaced-out/#comments Wed, 02 Jun 2010 03:13:50 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=1804

Merry Monks was a fitting ale for a fun filled weekend

Anne & I enjoyed the Memorial Day weekend by heading over to Melbourne to see our friends Brian and Janine. The Space Coast of Florida is one of the fastest growing areas of the country. Even with the looming cuts to NASA, there appears to be enough civilian and military technology firms to keep the boom going. And like most areas with strong growth, there’s a boom in leisure activity as well.

We spent the weekend making the rounds to some excellent brew pubs, among them Charlie & Jake’s, The World of Beer, and Coasters. The former is a brewery, while the latter two have an extensive list of imported and domestic craft beer. Those familiar with other World of Beer locations would definitely appreciate the Melbourne establishment.

Among the beers that we enjoyed, there were several that really stood out:

Charlie and Jakes Brown Bottom Ale; Charlie & Jake’s Brewery & Grille; Melbourne, FL; English Brown Ale; ABV: 5.0. A nutty, easy drinking brown ale. Dark brown in color with notes of sweet chocolate and roasted malt in the nose and taste, with the latter backed by a really nutty finish.

Anderson Valley Summer Solstice Cerveza Crema; Anderson Valley Brewing Co.; Boonville, CA; Cream Ale; ABV: 5.6. Like drinking a cream soda! Copper in color with notes of caramel and floral hops in the nose. Both are present in the taste as well, complimented in the taste by toasted malt and an array of spices such as orange and vanilla.

Hitachino Nest Espresso Stout; Kiuchi Brewery; Ibaraki, Japan; Imperial Stout; ABV: 7.5. An outstanding full-bodied imperial stout. Pours a deep black in color with a potent expresso presence in both the nose and taste. The latter is balanced by milk chocolate and roasted nuts, with a sweet malty finish.

Weyerbacher Merry Monks Ale; Weyerbacher Brewing Co.; Easton, PA; Tripel; ABV: 9.3. Another superb offering from the Easton brewery. This abbey pours a murky golden color, with notes of grassy hops and citrusy fruit in both the nose and taste. The taste is somewhat complex, with the grassy hops and citrusy fruit, particularly bananas, backed by sweet malt and spices. Merry Monks is very easy to drink considering its alcohol content, so it could sneak up on you.

I highly recommend each of these ales, and thank Brian and Janine for a wonderful holiday weekend.

Charlie & Jake's Brewery Grille on Urbanspoon

Coasters Pub on Urbanspoon

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Solid Oak http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/05/solid-oak/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/05/solid-oak/#comments Wed, 26 May 2010 03:25:13 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=1793

Oak Aged Unearthly takes the original up a notch

I stopped by Mr. Beery’s for Happy Hour and to say hi to Mark and the gang. As it would turn out, several types of IPAs would showcase the evening.

We ended up kicking the Cigar City Jai Lai keg, and it was replaced on tap by Southern Tier Oak Aged Unearthly (Southern Tier Brewing Co.; Lakewood, NY; Imperial India Pale Ale; ABV: 11.0). As great as the original Unearthly is, this IPA takes it to the next level. It pours a deep amber color and the nose has notes of piny hops and oakiness. Both are reflected in the taste as well, balanced by sweet caramel and a woody bourbon backbone. Oak Aged Unearthly is silky smooth for an beer of its potency, and you’ll want to savor it slowly to truly appreciate this ale.

Jai Lai and Oak Aged Unearthly would have made for a fine evening on their own, but Mark then broke out a couple of ales from his private stock.

Founders Centennial IPA (Founders Brewing Co.; Grand Rapids, MI; India Pale Ale; ABV: 7.2), like Oak Aged UnEarthly, is a silky smooth IPA. It pours a honey orange color with notes of citrusy and piny hops in the nose and taste. They’re complimented in the latter by sweet caramel and toasted malt with a nice clean finish. Like Oak Aged Unearthly, this ale turned out to be a big hit with everyone.

Nebraska Hop God (Nebraska Brewing Co.; Papillion, NE; Belgian India Pale Ale; ABV: 9.2) is an eclectic yet easy drinking Belgian IPA. Hop God pours a murky golden color with a citrusy presence throughout the nose and taste. Flavors of citrus fruit are backed by piny hops and spices with a slightly bitter finish. The ABV of 9.2% is somewhat noticeable, so Hop God won’t sneak up on you.

I highly recommend each of these ales, and thank Mark for his generosity.

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Fit For A King http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/05/fit-for-a-king/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/05/fit-for-a-king/#comments Tue, 25 May 2010 03:04:04 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=1780

King Magnus would approve of both St. Patrick's Best & Legbiter

I love what I’m doing! I get to drink beer, correspond with fellow beer enthusiasts, breweries, etc. and if I’m lucky, get to sample a couple of gems from one of them. Such was the case with Strangford Lough Brewing Co.

I received a couple of complimentary ales from their Irish Ale range series, St. Patrick’s Best Ale (Strangford Lough Brewing Company Ltd.; Killyleagh, Northern Ireland (UK); Bitter; ABV: 4.2) and Legbiter Ale (Strangford Lough Brewing Company Ltd.; Killyleagh, Northern Ireland (UK); Pale Ale; ABV: 4.8). The former is named obviously for St. Patrick, while the latter is named in honor of the sword used by King Magnus Barelegs, a viking ruler who’d descended upon Ireland in 1101. While both of these ales were complimentary, I’m happy to report that they were both excellent and that there’s no conflict of interest here.

St. Patrick’s Best is a very smooth and drinkable bitter ale. In a lot of ways, it actually reminds me a lot of a classic Irish red ale. It pours a rich amber color and the nose is malty with some hoppy notes. The caramel malt and grassy hops are noticeable in the taste as well, with hints of honey and sweet fruit with a crisp clean finish. I found this ale to be highly enjoyable and think that it would make an excellent session beer.

Legbiter is similar to a classic English brown ale, both in its color and the notes of caramel malt and nuts in the nose. The latter two have a nice presence in the taste as well, complimented by citrusy fruit and light floral hops with a slightly bitter finish. Like St. Patrick’s Best, it’s a very smooth and drinkable ale.

Strangford Lough is now distributing in the U.S. and at last count their beers are available in 21 states. I thank this brewery for their generosity and strongly recommend St. Patrick’s Best and Legbiter to fans of Irish ales. I’m confident that they will develop a following as the brewery expands throughout the U.S.

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Draft of Iniquity http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/05/draft-of-iniquity/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/05/draft-of-iniquity/#comments Thu, 20 May 2010 04:14:29 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=1767

Iniquity is sinfully good

I’ve been singing the praises of Southern Tier Brewing on this blog for some time now. And they’ve done it again by crafting another superb ale.

Southern Tier Iniquity (Southern Tier Brewing Co.; Lakewood, NY; Imperial India Pale Ale; ABV: 9.0) is a black Imperial IPA that’s as smooth as it is unconventional. Iniquity pours a dark chocolate color with piny hops and caramel notes in the nose. Both are evident in the taste as well, complimented by chocolate malt and citrusy fruit such as oranges and pineapples. Needless to say, Iniquity is a full-bodied ale with a lot going on, so it’s meant to be savored slowly.

It would be an injustice not to give Iniquity a try.

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In The House http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/05/in-the-house/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/05/in-the-house/#comments Tue, 18 May 2010 01:22:03 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=1756

Aventinus is a beer to write home about

Anne and I were at Dunedin House of Beer Saturday to attend The Best Pizza in Dunedin event. While there was lots of delicious pizza on display, it was a world class weizenbock that whet our appetite.

Schneider Aventinus (Weissbierbrauerei G. Schneider & Sohn; Kelheim, Germany; Weizenbock; ABV: 8.2) is a robust yet smooth, full-bodied bock that truly deserves its reputation as one of the world’s best beers. Named after Johannes Aventinus, a noted Bavarian historian and writer from the late Middle Ages, it pours a dark ruby brown color and there are notes of sweet malt and spices in the nose. The sweet malt and spices jump out in the taste as well, complimented by hints of banana, dark chocolate, vanilla, and wheat with light floral hops at the finish. There’s a lot going on in Aventinus, and the sweet candy backbone makes it a truly enjoyable bock.

Aventinus is a beer for any age, Middle or otherwise, and highly recommended.

Dunedin House Of Beer on Urbanspoon

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Palm Sunday http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/05/palm-sunday/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/05/palm-sunday/#comments Mon, 17 May 2010 02:27:58 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=1748

This ale belongs in the Palm of your hand

Palm Speciale (Brouwerij Palm N.V.; Steenhuffel, Belgium; Belgian Pale Ale; ABV: 5.4) has been one of the most popular beers in Europe for years. It’s finally available in the U.S. market, so I was curious to try it when Anne & I stopped by the Oldsmar Tap House.

Palm is a very smooth and drinkable ale. It pours a clear amber color with the carbonation very much evident. There are caramel and citrusy fruit notes in both the nose and taste, with the latter balanced by piny hops, spices, and a crisp clean finish. Palm makes an excellent session beer as it’s quite enjoyable and moderate in alcohol.

I highly recommend this ale. Give it a try, and it won’t be long before you have one in the Palm of your hand.

Oldsmar Tap House on Urbanspoon

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Swashbuckling Brew http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/05/swashbuckling-brew/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/05/swashbuckling-brew/#comments Fri, 14 May 2010 02:07:02 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=1743

You'll treasure this Boucanier

Belgium’s Brouwerij Van Steenberge brews such outstanding ales as Gulden Draak and Piraat. And I just recently sampled another superb beer from this brewery.

La Bière du Boucanier Red Ale (Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.; Ertvelde, Belgium; Belgium Pale Ale; ABV: 7.0) is as complex as it is smooth. It pours a honey amber color and the nose contains notes of citrusy fruit such as oranges. The citrusy fruit is complimented in the taste by tart cherries, sweet malt, and Belgian yeast with a pumpkin pie like spiciness at the finish. Boucanier is very enjoyable from start to finish as this ale has a lot going on.

I highly recommend raiding your favorite brewpub or beer store for Boucanier.

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Get Your (Le) Freak On http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/05/get-your-le-freak-on/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/05/get-your-le-freak-on/#comments Wed, 12 May 2010 01:47:21 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=1729

Le Freak, C'est Chic

Belgian IPAs, which typically blend Belgian ales with India Pale Ales, have become vogue in the last couple of years. So I was eager to try an offering from one of my favorite breweries.

Green Flash Le Freak (Green Flash Brewing Co.; Vista, CA; Belgian India Pale Ale; ABV: 9.2) blends their excellent Trippel and Imperial IPA into a smooth full-bodied ale. The color is burnt orange, and the nose is very floral with hints of citrusy fruit and yeast. The taste has a definite presence of banana and other citrusy fruit, complimented by honey, spices, and big piny hops with a slightly bitter finish. The Belgian influence in this beer actually reminded me of St. Bernardus Watou Tripel, with the IPA character very apparent in the hoppy background.

If you’re a fan of Belgian IPAs, I highly recommend that you let your Le Freak flag fly and give it a try!

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Here We Go Again http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/05/here-we-go-again/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/05/here-we-go-again/#comments Fri, 07 May 2010 00:05:10 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=1709

Schorschbräu fires back...the race to 50% is on

No sooner had BrewDog recaptured the World’s Strongest Beer title with their BrewDog Sink The Bismarck, a 41% ABV quadruple IPA, that brewery Kleinbrauerei Schorschbräu countered with Schorschbräu Schorschbock 43%. Like 31% and 40%, this beer is an eisbock, and Schorschbräu is even toying with the idea of brewing a 50% bock! 43% will have a limited release of 100 bottles, although it may not be available to U.S. or Canadian markets.

It’ll be interesting to see if and when BrewDog answers this latest challenge from Schorschbräu. The German brewery took a mild swipe at them with the Pussian helmet, a favorite of Bismarck, as well as issuing the line “cause Frankonian Men don’t dress like girls”, an obvious reference to Scottish kilts.

And finally, it’s worth noting that Samuel Adams Utopias, once the strongest beer in the world and still America’s pacesetter at 27% ABV, now ranks a “mere” 10th worldwide.

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Love That Dirty Water http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/05/love-that-dirty-water/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/05/love-that-dirty-water/#comments Thu, 06 May 2010 04:02:40 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=1688

While good drinking water was hard to find in Boston...

fortunately there was great beer

Anne and I took a mini vacation to Boston to spend time with her family. We all had a fantastic time, and the city was hopping with both the Celtics and Bruins in the post season, in addition to the usual Sox following. In keeping with the weird chain of events plaguing our nation this week, a water main break in the suburb of Watertown left Boston and 30 neighboring communities with contaminated water until yesterday. Fortunately, there was a great selection of beer in The Hub for consumption. From the outstanding Publick House to Boston Beer Works, there were plenty of places to sample them.

A few of the local brews caught my attention. They included the following:

Samuel Adams Noble Pils; Boston Beer Co.; Boston, MA; Bohemian Pilsener; ABV: 5.2. A crisp and clean tasting pilsener similar to traditional Czech offerings. A clear golden color with a piny hops nose. The piny hops notes are also noticeable in the flavor, complimented by sweet malt and honey with a dry finish.

Harpoon IPA; Harpoon Brewery; Boston, MA; India Pale Ale; ABV: 5.9. A lighter alternative to their sensational hop bomb Leviathan. Copper in color with a blend of Cascade hops and caramel malt in both the nose and taste. The latter is backed by citrusy fruit and spices with a slightly bitter finish.

Ipswich Stone Cat Blueberry Ale; Mercury Brewing; Ipswich, MA; Fruit / Vegetable Beer; ABV: 4.6. Blueberries, blueberries, blueberries! A straw golden color and (did I say it) blueberry notes in both the nose and flavor. I had this refreshing fruit beer at Big City, and they included real blueberries in the beer as well.

Boston Beer Works Back Bay IPA; Boston Beer Works; Boston, MA; India Pale Ale; ABV: 6.5. An excellent IPA, amber in color with a piny hops nose. The piny hops are also noticeable in the taste, backed by caramel malt and grapefruit with a slight bitterness at the finish.

Boston Beer Works Triple A Amber; Boston Beer Works; Boston, MA; American Amber / Red Ale; ABV: 5.0. A smooth tasting amber colored ale. It reminds me of a West Coast amber, with the big Cascade hops balanced by caramel and roasted malt.

Boston Beer Works Beantown Nut Brown Ale; Boston Beer Works; Boston, MA; English Brown Ale; ABV: 5.0. Brewed in the traditional English Brown Ale style. Chestnut in color with a big expresso kick in both the nose and taste. Hints of dark chocolate and roasted malt back up the expresso notes in the flavor.

BBC Sour Ale/Imperial Stout; Berkshire Brewing Co.; South Deerfield, MA; Russian Imperial Stout; ABV: 8.5. Eclectic full bodied stout with a dark brown color and dark chocolate notes in both the nose and taste. Like drinking a fudge brownie mixed with tart fruit!

Publick House is a superb beer pub and eatery, and we enjoyed a couple of non local beers there as well, which included:

Cuvee Des Jacobins Rouge; Brouwerij Bockor N.V.; Bellegem-Kortrijk, Belgium; Flanders Red Ale; ABV: 9.0. A truly outstanding Belgium sour ale, and one of my new favorites. If there ever was a 9% ABV beer that could be considered a session beer, then this is the closest thing to it! A beautiful crimson color with an array of tart cherries in both the nose and taste. The latter is complimented by a nice oaky finish.

Green Flash Hop Head Red Ale; Green Flash Brewing Co.; Vista, CA; American Amber / Red Ale; ABV: 6.4. Another excellent ale from the San Diego area brewery. A rich amber color with piny and citrusy hops in the nose. These notes have a noticeable presence in the taste as well, complimented by caramel malt with a clean crisp finish.

All in all we had a wonderful time in Beantown. And if you ever make it to the Publick House, be sure to try the Lobster Mac & Cheese!

Boston Beer Works on Urbanspoon

The Publick House on Urbanspoon

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The Good Word http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/04/the-good-word/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/04/the-good-word/#comments Sat, 01 May 2010 02:44:26 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=1679

Your prayers will be answered with Supplication

Russian River is a truly outstanding brewery; I’ve reviewed Pliny The Elder and Consecration in previous posts. So I’m now happy to report on two more of their superb offerings.

I broke open a bottle of Russian River Supplication (Russian River Brewing Co.; Santa Rosa, CA; American Wild Ale; ABV: 7.0) this evening to share with Anne. Supplication is aged for one year in Pinot Noir oak barrels with sour cherries. It pours a honey amber color and the sour cherry notes are quite apparent in the nose and initial taste. The latter is complimented by tart fruit, Brettanomyces yeast, and spices with a red wine and oaky presence at the end. It’s worth noting that Supplication is very smooth for a beer of such complexity.

I also recently had a chance to try Russian River Damnation (Russian River Brewing Co.; Santa Rosa, CA; Belgian Strong Pale Ale; ABV: 7.8), after my friend Mark broke open a bottle from his private stock. Damnation pours a hazy golden color and there’s lots of citrusy fruit in the nose. The taste is well balanced between citrusy fruit, toasted malt, and floral hops with a nice dry finish. Like Supplication, it’s very easy to drink for such an eclectic beer.

I highly recommend both of these ales as Russian River continues to make me a believer!

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A Brew to Swear By http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/04/a-brew-to-swear-by/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/04/a-brew-to-swear-by/#comments Thu, 29 Apr 2010 01:47:02 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=1673

Enjoy a WTF with your BFF

I had the good fortune to try a Lagunitas Wilco Tango Foxtrot Ale (Lagunitas Brewing Co.; Petaluma, CA; American Strong Ale; ABV: 7.8) the other day. Affectionately called WTF by most people, it’s a limited release by the brewery and definitely lives up to its billing.

WTF pours a dark reddish brown and the nose is a blend of piny hops and sweet caramel. Both are very apparent in the taste as well, complimented by chocolate and roasted malt with a nice kick at the finish. WTF is a very smooth ale and quite easy to drink. It even reminds me a bit of Rogue Double Dead Guy Ale.

All in all, I swear that WTF is a very enjoyable and full bodied ale.

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Insanity Plea http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/04/insanity-plea/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/04/insanity-plea/#comments Sun, 25 Apr 2010 15:30:01 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=1668

You'll go cuckoo over Insanity

I’m a huge fan of barley wines, so when I heard that Weyerbacher brews an oak aged version of their Blithering Idiot, I was definitely eager to try it.

Weyerbacher Insanity (Weyerbacher Brewing Co.; Easton, PA; Barley Wine; ABV: 11.1) is a wonderfully eclectic ale and my new favorite barley wine. It pours a hazy amber color and the nose is a complexity of caramel, oakiness, and peppermint spices. The peppermint spices hit you right off the bat in the taste, followed by sweet caramel, dark fruit, creamy vanilla, and a slight bourbon oakiness at the finish. The alcohol presence is somewhat noticeable from the onset, so this is not a beer that will sneak up on you. Nevertheless, Insanity is silky smooth considering its potency.

Insanity is so good it’s maddening, and highly recommended!

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Aging Gracefully http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/04/aging-gracefully/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/04/aging-gracefully/#comments Sat, 17 Apr 2010 22:16:51 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=1659

18 is another one for the ages

Harviestoun Ola Dubh Special Reserve 16 is one of my favorite beers of all time. Now this brewery has improved on it with another outstanding ale.

Harviestoun Ola Dubh Special Reserve 18 (Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.; Alva Clackmannanshire, Scotland (UK); Old Ale; ABV: 8.0) is a robust old ale age in 18 year old whiskey casks. It pours a deep black color, and the Scotch whisky aroma jumps right out at you in the nose. The Scotch whisky is also very prevalent in the taste, and is complimented by dark chocolate, sweet malt, and a vanilla oakiness at the finish. I have friends, who’re fans of bourbon and whisky aged stouts, that would love this ale. I’d even bet that Scotch whisky drinkers would appreciate it as well. 18 not only has the full-bodiness of a porter, but is quite easy to drink as well.

I highly recommend 18 as a truly outstanding old ale. Be sure to keep one in reserve.

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An Exit Worth Taking http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/04/an-exit-worth-taking/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/04/an-exit-worth-taking/#comments Fri, 16 Apr 2010 23:23:55 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=1644

You won't detour from Exit 4

I recently read an article in Men’s Journal magazine naming the Top 25 Beers in America for 2009. One of them, an ale from Flying Fish in New Jersey, was voted the Best Belgian Style beer. Being an former resident of the Garden State, and having friends who know the owners of this brewery, I was curious to give it a try.

Flying Fish Exit 4 (Flying Fish Brewing Co.; Cherry Hill, NJ; Tripel; ABV: 9.7), named for the NJ Turnpike exit, is an excellent abbey tripel. It pours a hazy golden amber color, and the nose is a blend of floral hops and citrusy fruit. They’re quite apparent in the taste as well, complimented by sweet malt, cloves, and spices with a slightly bitter finish. Although its ABV is nearly 10%, Exit 4 is nonetheless quite smooth and very easy to drink.

While I think that its #1 ranking among Belgian style beers is a bit of a stretch, Exit 4 is still highly recommend by me. Be sure to pick one up next time you’re heading down the ‘Pike!

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Fruit Servings http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/04/fruit-servings/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/04/fruit-servings/#comments Thu, 15 Apr 2010 05:04:28 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=1633

You'll want to fetch a Blue Paw

Spring is in full swing now, and the warmer weather has me thinking of a nice session beer. There are several fruit beers that are perfect for this time of year.

Sea Dog Blue Paw Wild Blueberry Wheat Ale; Sea Dog Brewing Co.; Bangor, ME; Fruit / Vegetable Beer; ABV: 4.6. Blue Paw is a refreshing wheat ale. It pours a light golden color, and the nose is a deep blueberry aroma. The sweet blueberry taste is complimented by wheat with a nice clean finish.

Lost Coast Tangerine Wheat; Lost Coast Brewery & Cafe; Eureka, CA; Fruit / Vegetable Beer; ABV: 5.0. Tangerine is another very drinkable wheat ale. The tangerine presence is very apparent in the color, nose, and taste. It’s backed up by hints of wheat and light citrusy hops at the end. It’s like drinking a Tang or Orangina with a kick!

Wells Banana Bread Beer; Wells & Young’s Ltd.; Bedford, UK; English Strong Ale; ABV: 5.2. Although sometimes classified as a winter warmer, this ale is low enough in alcohol content to be a decent session beer for early Spring. Banana Bread pours a rich amber color, and lives up to its name in both the nose and taste. The big banana presence is followed by breaded malt, spices, and light hops at the end.

Dogfish ApriHop; Dogfish Head Craft Brewery; Milton, DE; India Pale Ale; ABV: 7.0. ApriHop is a more full bodied take on Spring session beers. This ale pours a rich orange color and the nose is a array of apricots and citrusy fruit. The apricots and citrusy fruit are noticeable in the taste as well, and they’re well balanced by sweet malt and Cascade hops with a crisp, clean finish.

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A Nice Vice http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/04/a-nice-vice/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/04/a-nice-vice/#comments Mon, 12 Apr 2010 02:08:37 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=1622

Despite the suggestive name, Happy Ending is truly an excellent stout

Last Wednesday was not only National Beer Day, it was my friend Bret’s birthday. Mark presented Bret with a bottle of Sweetwater Happy Ending Imperial Stout (Sweetwater Brewing Co.; Atlanta, GA; Imperial Stout; ABV: 9.0), and he shared it with the gang at Mr. Beery’s.

We all had fun with the name for obvious reasons. The original label actually had a winking Geisha, but was probably changed due to being risqué. Happy Ending, in fact, is an excellent imperial stout. It pours a deep black color, and there’s a big presence of coffee and citrusy hops in the nose. The taste is an array of coffee, sweet chocolate, and dark fruit with the citrusy hops noticeable at the finish. The ABV of 9% is well hidden, so this beer goes down rather smoothly.

I highly recommend Happy Ending as one of the better imperial stouts out there.

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Stoutzilla http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/04/stoutzilla/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/04/stoutzilla/#comments Sat, 10 Apr 2010 02:22:37 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=1602

Tokyo is big & complex like its namesake

Recent surveys by Demographia and the United Nations both confirm that Tokyo remains the world’s largest urban area. Travelers to the city have described it as sophisticated and cutting edge in addition to being large. So I expected that a beer named after this metropolis would exhibit the same qualities.

BrewDog Tokyo (BrewDog Ltd.; Fraserburgh, Scotland (UK); Imperial Stout; ABV: 18.2), like its namesake, has a lot going on. It pours a dark black and the nose is an array of dark fruit and chocolate. The dark fruit, especially cherries, and chocolate also come out in the taste, which is complimented by roasted malt, cranberries, jasmine, and vanilla with a woody finish. Despite an ABV of more than 18%, Tokyo is incredibly smooth and a very drinkable beer. I’m inclined to favor it over another extreme stout, the highly touted Dogfish World Wide Stout (Dogfish Head Craft Brewery; Milton, DE; Imperial Stout; ABV: 21.0).

Kudos to BrewDog for crafting another excellent extreme beer.

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Cherry Picking http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/04/cherry-picking/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/04/cherry-picking/#comments Sat, 03 Apr 2010 15:36:15 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=1590

You won't sour on Kriekenbier

I’ve been looking for an excellent sour ale ever since Rodenbach pulled their Rodenbach Classic Red (Brouwerij Rodenbach N.V.; Roeselare, Belgium; Flanders Red Ale; ABV: 5.0) from the U.S. market last year. I found it when Anne & I stopped by World of Beer the other day.

Verhaeghe Echte Kriekenbier (Brouwerij Verhaeghe; Vichte, Belgium; Flanders Red Ale; ABV: 6.8) exceeded my expectations. It’s a deep mahogany color with a tart cherry nose. The taste is primarily sour and tart cherry, complimented by hints of caramel malt and vanilla. There was a woody tone to the finish that reminded Anne of wine. At nearly 7% ABV, Kriekenbier is also a bit more potent than Rodenbach Classic Red.

I highly recommend Kriekenbier to anyone that’s a fan of sour ales.

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Independence Day http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/03/independence-day/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/03/independence-day/#comments Tue, 30 Mar 2010 03:29:55 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=1574

Edel-Weisse is a refreshing hefeweizen

Anne & I were in St. Pete the other day, and stopped by The Independent after an excellent sushi dinner. We shot the breeze with bartender and beer aficionado Neal, and had a couple of rounds. This is a really great pub, with a large selection of Belgians and other European beers. All in all, it was the perfect ending to a really nice day.

Beer Review:

Schneider Wiesen Edel-Weisse; Weissbierbrauerei G. Schneider & Sohn; Kelheim, Germany; Hefeweizen; ABV: 6.2. Edel-Weisse is a classic and organic hefeweizen. The color is an blondish orange with a citrusy nose. Edel-Weisse’s smooth wheat taste is complimented by citrusy fruit such as banana and lemon, caramel malt, and grassy hops. There’s even a hint of corn in the flavor. This beer is quite refreshing and quite drinkable at 6.2% ABV.

Westmalle Trappist Dubbel; Abdij Der Trappisten van Westmalle; Malle, Belgium; Dubbel; ABV: 7.0. This is a truly outstanding Belgian ale. The color is dark brown with a hint of amber, and the nose hints of dark fruit and roasted malt. Westmalle is a very complex dubbel, with the sweet malt flavor balanced by chocolate, dark fruit, and citrusy hops with a nice clean finish.

Unibroue Blanche de Chambly; Unibroue; Chambly, Canada; Witbier; ABV: 5.0. Blanche is a refreshing witbier. The color is deep golden and the nose is both fruity and spicy. Blanche starts out with a big citrusy bite, followed by an array of toasted malt, vanilla, and spices with a hint of light hops. An excellent session beer from Unibroue.

St. Louis Kriek; Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck N.V.; Ingelmunster, Belgium; Lambic / Fruit Beer; ABV: 4.5. This is an excellent lambic ale. The color is a deep ruby red, with the cherry presence very apparent in the nose. While there’s a hint of sweet malt, it’s the tart cherry taste that dominates here. Kriek mixes well with other beers such as sweet stouts.

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Battlestations! http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/03/battlestations/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/03/battlestations/#comments Fri, 26 Mar 2010 02:33:27 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=1567

There's definitely some firepower in Bismarck

What if you brewed The World’s Strongest Beer and made it not only palatable, but downright delicious? A beer that has a 41% alcohol content, yet compares favorably with highly regarded IPAs with several times less potency? Those crazy Claymores at BrewDog have managed to do just that with their latest offering!

I shared a bottle of BrewDog Sink the Bismarck (BrewDog Ltd.; Fraserburgh, Scotland (UK); Imperial India Pale Ale; ABV: 41.0) with my friends Bret, Kelly, Mark, Mick, and Rick last night at Mr. Beery’s. Many extreme beers either taste like paint thinner, or are enjoyable yet so far removed from normal beer that they can only be handled in small quantities. Bismarck actually bucks the trend. This IPA is an amber orange color, and the nose is a blast of citrusy and piny hops. It’s very warming from the first sip, and the big hoppy flavor is complimented by sweet malt, honey, and spices with a resiny finish. Despite its obvious firepower, this is an ale that is wonderfully complex and thoroughly enjoyable.

For those who are curious, Bismarck can be offered directly from the brewery online at http://www.brewdog.com/shop.php?Category=beer. Kudos to BrewDog for pulling this off!

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Irish Rover http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/03/irish-rover/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/03/irish-rover/#comments Fri, 19 Mar 2010 02:01:21 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=1523

Kells is a pint of gold

It was a very festive St. Paddy’s Day yesterday. I started out at Shakespeare’s, said hi to the gang, and had a couple of pints with my corned beef & cabbage. From there, I headed down to the very busy Gulf Gate area to meet my friends Steve and Bill. We started and finished at Mr. Beery’s, and hit a couple of places in between, including a pub called, ironically enough, The Irish Rover. All in all, it was basically a McMardi Gras!

Beer Review:

Rogue Kells Irish Style Lager; Rogue Ales Brewery; Newport, OR; Euro Pale Lager; ABV: 5.0. Very similar to a pilsener, this lager is a rich golden color and goes down quite smoothly. Kells starts out with a nice hoppy bite, followed by hints of sweet malt, caramel, and honey with a slightly bitter finish.

Smithwick’s; Diageo; Dundalk, Ireland; Irish Red Ale; ABV: 4.5. A crisp and clean tasting Irish red ale. Smithwick’s has a rich amber color, flowery nose, and the hoppy presence is well balanced by caramel and roasted malt. An excellent session beer for St. Paddy’s.

Southern Tier Big Red; Southern Tier Brewing Co.; Lakewood, NY; American Amber / Red Ale; ABV: 9.5. Another winner from Southern Tier; this is a red ale on steroids! It’s a reddish orange color with a spicy nose. The sweet malt is complimented by caramel, chocolate, and citrusy hops with some spiciness at the finish. Big Red has the feel of an IPA crossed with a red ale, and as the 9.5% ABV is well hidden, this beer can definitely sneak up on you.

Southampton Biere De Mars; Southampton Publick House; Southampton, NY; Bière de Garde; ABV: 6.2. My new session beer for as long as Mark has it on tap at Mr. Beery’s! An outstanding and funky French style ale, Biere De Mars is a deep golden color and has a sweet candy nose. The flavor is a wonderful array of citrusy fruit such as pears and oranges, sweet caramel, piny hops, and honey with a crisp clean finish.

The Luck of the Irish was definitely upon us this St. Paddy’s Day!

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Collector’s Item http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/03/collectors-item/ http://www.billysbeerblog.com/2010/03/collectors-item/#comments Sat, 13 Mar 2010 15:47:53 +0000 Bill Zavorskas http://www.billysbeerblog.com/?p=1501

You don't need to go to the museum to appreciate this Curator

I’m glad to see that World of Beer has added Klosterbrauerei Ettal Curator (Klosterbrauerei Ettal; Ettal, Germany; Dopplebock; ABV: 9.0) back on draft. Curator is a rich tasting, very well balanced dopplebock. There’s an interesting array of flavors in this beer, and each compliments the other. I could taste the sweet caramel malt up front, and this was followed by hints of chocolate, dark fruit, molasses, and raisins with a smooth finish. Considering that Curator can pack a punch at 9%, the alcohol content didn’t feel that potent. This is a bock to be savored slowly, so that you can really appreciate the complexity of it.

I highly recommend Curator as a truly outstanding dopplebock.

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