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Posts Tagged ‘American Amber / Red Ale’

Something To Crow About

January 12th, 2011 Bill Zavorskas No comments

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 grilled cheddar cheese & bacon 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.

Hex Ain’t Worth The Hype

October 1st, 2010 Bill Zavorskas No comments

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.

Carolina In My Mind

August 31st, 2010 Bill Zavorskas No comments

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

Put On Your Drinking Cap

July 23rd, 2010 Bill Zavorskas No comments

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/

Love That Dirty Water

May 5th, 2010 Bill Zavorskas 2 comments

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

Irish Rover

March 18th, 2010 Bill Zavorskas No comments

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!

Georgia On My Mind

December 25th, 2009 Bill Zavorskas No comments

River Street was hopping during the holidays

River Street was hopping during the holidays

Anne and I went over to Savannah for a few days during the holidays, and everything was very festive. The weather was great and we took in the sights. There was also several beers worth noting as well.

The Captain’s Porter (Moon River Brewing Co.; Savannah, GA; Porter; ABV: 6.0) is a sweet and very rich porter. The milk chocolate taste is complimented by molasses and roasted malt. Captain’s Porter finishes smooth & dry, and is very drinkable.

Savannah Fest Beer (Moon River Brewing Co.; Savannah, GA; Marzen; ABV: 4.9) is light and crisp for a marzen. There’s a sweet malty taste up front, followed by sweet fruit, spices, light hops, and a slightly bitter finish.

Sweetwater 420 Extra Pale Ale (Sweetwater Brewing Co.; Atlanta, GA; American Pale Ale; ABV: 5.4) has gotten a lot of press and I was curious to try it. There’s a nice balance of cascade hops, tart fruit, and toasted malt, and 420 goes down quite smoothly. I have to admit, however, that I was expecting more given all the hype.

Lucky Kat (Magic Hat Brewing Co.; Burlington, VT; India Pale Ale; ABV: 5.8) was a pleasant surprise. I have always been a fan of Magic Hat, and Lucky Kat was very enjoyable. There’s a nice presence of piney hops up front, followed by sweet malt, caramel, and dark fruit with a slight bitterness at the end. This IPA paired well with the delicious seafood that we had at Fiddlers Crab House. Lucky Kat would be an excellent session beer for hop heads.

It’s worth noting to fans of New Belgium that several of their beers, including the excellent Fat Tire and outstanding 1554, are now available at most pubs in Savannah. I tried both for the first time in Seattle, and enjoyed the latter with the always superb lobster ravioli at Churchill’s Pub.

Prior to our trip, Anne & I got together with our friends Brad, Rachael, Bret, and Kelly at WOB for a few beers. There were a couple of Belgiums that truly stood out.

Saxo (Brasserie Caracole; Farmignoul, Belgium; Belgian Strong Pale Ale; ABV: 8.0) is incredibly smooth and is now my favorite Belgian strong pale ale. The 8% ABV isn’t noticeable, and the sweet malt taste is complimented by citrusy hops, light fruit, and spices. Saxo finishes crisp and clean, and I could drink this ale all day.

Delirium Noël (Brouwerij Huyghe; Melle, Belgium; Belgian Strong Dark Ale; ABV: 10.0) is at the other end of the spectrum, and is a truly outstanding dark ale. An excellent Xmas brew, the array of wintry spices up front are complimented by sweet fruit, toasted malt, and caramel. Noel is also quite easy to drink considering the 10% alcohol content.

Happy Holidays everyone, and Merry Xmas!

Churchill's Pub on Urbanspoon

Fiddler Crab House & Oyster Bar on Urbanspoon

Planes, Trains & No Automobiles

August 13th, 2009 Bill Zavorskas No comments

The Space Needle was a great place to have a beer...

The Space Needle was a great place to have a beer...

while enjoying a panoramic view of the city skyline

while enjoying a panoramic view of the city skyline

Yours Truly drinking The Horror Belgian Stout at Elysian Fields

Yours Truly drinking The Horror Belgian Stout at Elysian Fields

Rogue Gallery: The brewpub in Portland

Rogue Gallery: The brewpub in Portland

No rental car, no problem. The Pacific Northwest has some of the best public transportation around. We thoroughly enjoyed our vacation, and spent a considerable amount of time exploring Seattle. Anne & I even took a shuttle down to Portland to pay The City of Roses a visit. The area has a lot to offer, particularly in the way of beers. Most of the restaurants have an extensive beer list in addition to the breweries & brewpubs. And where else can you enjoy a refreshing Scuttlebutt Amber (Scuttlebutt Brewing Co.; Everett, WA; American Amber / Red Ale; ABV: 5.1), while catching a magnificent view of Seattle’s skyline, than atop the Space Needle? Or watch an art film, e.g. The Girl From Monaco, in a trendy theater in downtown Portland while savoring a Hopworks Organic Velvet ESB (Hopworks Urban Brewery; Portland Oregon; English Session; ABV: 5.2)? There’s a beer for everyone here, from the outstanding local brews, thru microbrews from around the country, with a few imports thrown in for good measure. It was even IPA Week at the Tap House Grill, with 40 on tap!

I sampled dozens of beers during this trip, and in addition to the beers mentioned above, as well as last week’s post, have compiled an additional list of my local favorites. I’ll call it the Drinking Dozen:

Boundary Bay IPA; Boundary Bay Brewery & Bistro; Bellingham, WA; India Pale Ale; ABV: 6.4. A more subtle version of their Imperial IPA. A crisp array of Cascade hops & roasted malt, with a nice piney finish. I enjoyed this on tap as well as cask.

Total Domination IPA; Ninkasi Brewing Co.; Eugene, OR; India Pale Ale; India Pale Ale; ABV: 6.7. This is a crisp, smooth tasting IPA. The citrusy hops, particularly grapefruit, is noticeable up front, and is well balanced by biscuity malt & a dry finish.

Terminal Gravity IPA; Terminal Gravity Brewing Co.; Enterprise, OR; India Pale Ale; ABV: 6.9. This IPA has a big reputation in the Northwest, and it’s well deserved. The big citrusy hops up front are complimented by hints of caramel & a sweet malt finish.

Hop Henge Experimental IPA; Deschutes Brewery; Bend, OR; Imperial India Pale Ale; ABV: 8.8. A big, bold hopbomb. The citrusy hops hit you up front, and are balanced by sweet caramel & a piney finish.

Inversion IPA; Deschutes Brewery; Bend, OR; India Pale Ale; ABV: 6.8. A kinder, gentler IPA than the hopbomb Hop Henge. A nice array of citrusy hops & caramel.

African Amber; Mac & Jack’s Brewery; Redmond, WA; American Amber / Red Ale; ABV: 5.2. Very refreshing. The citrusy hops up front are well balanced by sweet malt & a piney finish.

Rogue Brutal Bitter Ale; Rogue Ales Brewery; Newport, OR; Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB); ABV: 6.5. The beer of choice for the staff at Rogue PDX. Comparable to the classic English ESBs. The sweet, creamy taste is complimented by toasted malt & a slightly bitter aftertaste.

Rogue Chipotle Ale; Rogue Ales Brewery; Newport, OR; Chile Beer; ABV: 5.5. The hops & malt up front give way to a wonderfully spicy finish. This ranks with Dogfish Midas Touch Golden Elixir (Dogfish Head Craft Brewery; Milton, DE; Herbed / Spiced Beer; ABV: 9.0) as my favorite eclectic beer.

The Horror Belgian Stout; Elysian Brewing Co.; Seattle, WA; Belgian Strong Dark Ale; ABV: 9.0. Oh the horror! Very drinkable stout despite the high ABV. The taste is an array of light chocolate, roasted malt, & coffee.

Cascade Lakes 20 Inch Brown; Cascade Lakes Brewing Co.; Redmond, OR; English Brown Ale; ABV: 5.4. This ale has a sweet nutty flavor, with hints of chocolate & Cascade hops. Comparable to a classic English Brown Ale.

Hale’s Cream Ale; Hale’s Ales Brewery & Pub; Seattle, WA; American Pale Ale; ABV: 4.9. An excellent session beer. The creamy, caramel taste is complimented by hints of roasted malt & a light, citrusy hop finish.

Haywire Organic Hefeweizen; Pyramid Breweries, Inc.; Seattle, WA; Hefeweizen; ABV: 5.2. A very crisp & refreshing hefe. The wheat is well balanced by citrusy hops & sweet malt.

In addition to the local talent, there were several non local beers worth noting:

Southern Tier Unearthly; Southern Tier Brewing Co.; Lakewood, NY; Imperial India Pale Ale; ABV: 11.0. This was my favorite during IPA Week. Easily the best IPA from the East, and quite possibly the best period. Unearthly more than holds its own with its West Coast counterparts. A wonderful full bodied Imperial IPA, the citrusy hops taste is well balanced by sweet malt. Very smooth for a hop bomb!

Pliny The Elder; Russian River Brewing Co.; Santa Rosa, CA; Imperial India Pale Ale; ABV: 8.0. Another big & bold IPA with a surprisingly smooth taste. I was dying to try this beer based on what I had heard. The grapefruit flavor up front highlights the array of citrusy hops, and is complimented by roasted malt & caramel. The finish is crisp & clean. Pliny The Elder has the reputation on many beer sites as being The IPA, although I would still take Unearthly & even Green Flash Imperial IPA over it.

1554 Enlightened Black Ale; New Belgium Brewing Inc.; Fort Collins, CO; Belgian Dark Ale; ABV: 5.5. While their excellent Fat Tire is better known, this is actually the best beer produced by New Belgium. This would easily be my session beer if I could get it back here in Florida. The nutty taste is well balanced by subtle hints of sweet caramel, roasted coffee, & cocoa chocolate. It’s similar to a schwarzbier such as Sprecher Black Bavarian, but is even better.

Ayinger Celebrator Doppelbock; Privatbrauerei Franz Inselkammer KG / Brauerei Aying; Aying, Germany; Doppelbock; ABV: 6.7. This is an absolutely superb doppelbock, & it was great to have it again. The rich malty taste is complimented by hints of sweet chocolate & spicy hops. I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again. Wunderbar!

We had a great time in the Pacific Northwest, & plan to come back for another visit in the not too distant future. It’s not hard to see why more & more people are calling it home.

Sober (Not) in Seattle

August 3rd, 2009 Bill Zavorskas 2 comments

The Tap House Grill is a beer lover's shrine of 160 brews on tap

The Tap House Grill is a beer lover's shrine of 160 brews on tap

Pike Place Market was a great place to explore & walk off the beers

Pike Place Market was a great place to explore & walk off the beers

Anne & I arrived in Seattle yesterday, and after settling in, decided to do a little exploring. One of my goals is to try as many new beers as possible, especially those not readily available back East. The last beer with an Eastern slant that I had was the Samuel Adams Blackberry Witbier (Boston Beer Co.; Boston, MA; Witbier; ABV: 5.5) at the Marriott Hotel’s Skyye Bar at Tampa Airport. It was a very crisp & clean tasting witbier. You can really taste the blackberry influence, and it’s well balanced among the wheat & dry hops.

Our first stop in the Emerald City was the Tap House Grill, which is located below street level & several blocks away from our hotel. It’s a trendy brewpub & restaurant, with an excellent & diverse food menu, from pizza to sushi, to go along with the staggering amount of beers – 160 in all – on tap.

My first selection was the Fat Tire Amber Ale (New Belgium Brewing Inc.; Fort Collins, CO; American Amber / Red Ale; ABV: 5.2). This beer is legendary among my friends who’ve been out West, and I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. I am happy to report that it was as food as advertised. This is a smooth, refreshing amber ale in the tradition of St. Rogue Red & Newcastle John Courage Amber. The toasted malt taste up front is complimented by hints of buttery biscuit, spices, and a grassy hops finish. I can’t wait until this ale is finally available back East.

I wanted to try some of the local IPAs next, and Tap House Grill offers four 6-ounce samplers of whichever beers that you’d like to try. I asked the bartender to pick me out a sampler of Seattle’s finest, and she didn’t disappoint. Each ale was unique in its own way.

The Boundary Bay Imperial IPA (Boundary Bay Brewery & Bistro; Bellingham, WA; Imperial India Pale Ale; ABV: 8.5) was the first, and favorite, of the samplers that I tried. This is an absolute hop bomb, with the big Cascade hops taste well balanced by roasted malt & a piny finish. This compares to some of the finer IPAs that I’ve had.

The Diamond Knot Industrial IPA (Diamond Knot Brewery; Mukilteo, WA; Imperial India Pale Ale; ABV: 7.5) was enjoyable as well. The ale was an interesting array of citrusy hops, sweet malt, & a more bitter aftertaste than the Boundary Bay Imperial IPA.

Elysian The Immortal IPA (Elysian Brewing Co.; Seattle, WA; India Pale Ale; ABV: 6.2) was similar in style to the Boundary Bay Imperial IPA, but a lighter version. The Cascade hops are balanced nicely by sweet malt and a piney aftertaste.

My final sampler was the Skagit River Scullers IPA (Skagit River Brewery; Mount Vernon, WA; India Pale Ale; ABV: 6.8). My second favorite, this IPA had the big Cascade hop taste up front, balanced by roasted malt & a piny finish that is reminiscent of the local IPAs.

The sushi that we had was excellent and fully complimented the beers. It should also be noted that for non beer lovers, the Tap House Grill has an extensive selection of wine, martinis, etc.

After the Tap House Grill, it was off to the Pine Place Market to explore the sights and work off those extra calories. Seattle is very much a walker’s city, with an excellent public transportation system to boot. The natural beauty surrounding the city is exquisite. Anne & I are looking forward to many more adventures.

Tap House Grill on Urbanspoon

Bells..Wedding & Otherwise

May 16th, 2009 Bill Zavorskas No comments

The Special Double Cream Stout ring my bell

The Special Double Cream Stout rings my bell

Our friends Timm & Lori are having their engagement party at Urban Flats tomorrow night. Like me, they’re avid beer lovers. Anne & I recently celebrated our 16th wedding anniversary. So the theme of this blog is bells. Wedding bells, as well as several beers that I had recently from Bell’s.

Bell’s Special Double Cream Stout; Bell’s Brewery, Inc.; Kalamazoo, MI; Milk / Sweet Stout; ABV: 7.5. This is my favorite Bell’s stout. It’s smooth like their Kalamazoo Stout, but with more of a kick. And the malty, sweet chocolate taste is not too bitter like their much acclaimed Expedition Stout.

Bell’s Cherry Stout; Bell’s Brewery, Inc.; Kalamazoo, MI; Fruit / Vegetable Beer; ABV: 8.5. An excellent cherry stout. The cherry taste up front is tart & sour (think Redbach), with a sweet chocolate kick at the end.

Bell’s Two Hearted Ale; Bell’s Brewery, Inc.; Kalamazoo, MI; India Pale Ale; ABV: 7.0. An easy drinking IPA full of citrusy hops. A lighter alternative to their spectacular hop bomb HopSlam Ale.

Bell’s Amber Ale; Bell’s Brewery, Inc.; Kalamazoo, MI; American Amber / Red Ale; ABV: 5.5. A refreshing amber ale in the tradition of Ruedrich’s Red Seal Ale & St. Rogue Red. The taste is well balanced between sweet malt & citrusy hops.

Congratulations to you two wild & crazy kids, & we’ll definitely party tomorrow night!