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Making My Case Again

March 1st, 2011 Bill Zavorskas 2 comments

My idea of 2020 hindsight

This Saturday marks the second anniversary of Billy’s Beer Blog. To mark the occasion, I’ve decided to do an updated version of my Ultimate Case.

While I’m keeping two of my three rules from a year ago – no retired beers and a limit of one beer per brewery – I’m dropping the ban on extreme beers of 20% or more. I’m also expanding my Ultimate Case from 24 beers to 30, thus eliminating the need for an Honorable Mention 6-Pack.

And so, without further adieu, is my Ultimate Case The Sequel. It’s been a fun filled and exhaustive journey to put together a list of 30 beers from the countless number of brews that I have enjoyed. I hope that you enjoy reading this post as much as I have enjoyed preparing it.

AleSmith Speedway Stout; AleSmith Brewing Co.; San Diego, CA; Imperial Stout; ABV: 12.0; This DIPA 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 that noticeable. This stout will definitely send your taste buds racing!

Bell’s HopSlam Ale; Bell’s Brewery, Inc.; Kalamazoo, MI; Imperial India Pale Ale; ABV: 10.0. An absolute hop bomb! The uber hoppy presence is well balanced by sweet malt and a taste of honey. Truly one of the best IPAs out there.

Blue Point Old Howling Bastard; Blue Point Brewing Co.; Patchogue, NY; Barley Wine; ABV: 10.0. This superb barley wine is 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 classic West Coast barley wine.

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.

Captain Lawrence Cuvee De Castleton; Captain Lawrence Brewing Co.; Pleasantville, NY; American Wild Ale; ABV: 8.0. 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.

Cigar City Hunahpu’s Imperial Stout – Brandy Barrel Aged; Cigar City Brewing; Tampa, FL; Russian Imperial Stout; ABV: 11.5. 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.

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 ever there 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.

Deschutes Mirror Mirror Barleywine Vintage 2009; Deschutes Brewery; Bend, OR; Barley Wine; ABV: 11.0. 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.

Dogfish Bitches Brew; Dogfish Head Craft Brewery; Milton, DE; Russian Imperial Stout; ABV: 9.0. Named to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Miles Davis’ jazz fusion album Bitches Brew. It’s 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.

Flying Dog Raging Bitch; Flying Dog Brewery, Frederick, MD; Belgian India Pale Ale; ABV: 8.3. 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.

Founders Breakfast Stout; Founders Brewing Co.; Grand Rapids, MI; Imperial Stout; ABV: 8.3. 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. The alcohol presence is definitely noticeable, so FBS won’t sneak up on you. It’s certainly a beer to be savored.

Fuller’s Vintage Ale 2009; Fuller Smith & Turner PLC; London, England (UK); Old Ale; ABV: 8.5. 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.

Goose Island Juliet; Goose Island Beer Co.; Chicago, IL; American Wild Ale; ABV: 6.7. Truly deserves its world class ranking. Aged in cabernet barrels with blackberries, Juliet is ruby in color and hits you right off the bat with a big vinegar nose. The rosé wine like quality is prevalent throughout this ale, with the blackberry notes complimented by sour cherries and sweet caramel malt with a dry woody finish. The silky smooth Juliet pays homage to the classic Belgian sour ales, and “parting is such sweet sorrow” once the last sip has been taken.

Green Flash Le Freak; Green Flash Brewing Co.; Vista, CA; Belgian India Pale Ale; ABV: 9.2. A blend of the brewery’s excellent Trippel and Imperial IPA into a silky 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, as well as other citrusy fruit, complimented by honey, spices, and big piny hops with a slightly bitter finish.

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 rich 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.

Harviestoun Ola Dubh Special Reserve 40; Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.; Alva Clackmannanshire, Scotland (UK); Old Ale; ABV: 8.0. Yet another outstanding offering from the brewery’s Special Reserve series. Ola Dubh means “Black Oil” and this old ale, aged in Highland Park 40 Year whiskey casks, is based on Harviestoun Old Engine Oil. Jet black in color, 40 has big Scotch whiskey notes in the nose and initial taste, complimented by hints of dark chocolate and sweet malt with a vanilla oakiness at the finish. An extremely well balanced beer, 40 is as rich and smooth as it is complex, and I believe that it’s the best offering in the series.

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 the alcohol content of nearly 9% is well hidden.

Russian River Consecration; Russian River Brewing Co.; Santa Rosa, CA; American Wild Ale; ABV: 10.0. One sip of this superb ale was enough to make me believe brother! Consecration is aged in American Oak Cabernet Sauvignon barrels. The wine presence comes across quite clearly in the initial taste, complimented by an array of notes such as Brettanomyces yeast, currants, sweet malt, and tart fruit with a crisp clean finish. It more than holds its own with the classic Belgian farmhouse ales, and the alcohol content of 10% isn’t that noticeable. Needless to say, Consecration is a wonderfully complex and eclectic ale.

Samuel Adams Utopias (2009); Boston Beer Company; Boston, MA; American Strong Ale; ABV: 27.0. 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.

Schneider Aventinus; Weissbierbrauerei G. Schneider & Sohn; Kelheim, Germany; Weizenbock; ABV: 8.2. 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.

Sierra Nevada Grand Cru; Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.; Chico, CA; American Strong Ale; ABV: 9.2. Brewed as part of Sierra Nevada’s 30th Anniversary Series, Grand Cru is a blend of their Oak Aged Bigfoot, Celebration Ale, and Pale Ale. Amber in color with notes of citrus and piny hops complimented by caramel malt with a nice bourbon kick from the barrel aging.

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 DIPA takes it to the next level. It pours a deep amber color and the nose has big 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.

St. Bernardus Abt 12; Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV; Watou, Belgium; Quadrupel; ABV: 10.5. A wonderfully complex balance of spices, ripe fruit, & sweet malt. The definitive gold standard of Belgium quads, and one of the world’s best beers period.

St. Feuillien Cuvée de Noël; Brasserie St. Feuillien; Le Roeulx, Belgium; Belgian Strong Dark Ale; ABV: 9.0. Mahogany in color, Cuvée de Noël has rich notes of caramel and roasted malt balanced by an array of spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg. This velvety winter ale has a nutty feel to it, and is quite spicy as well.

Terrapin Side Project #9 The Dark Side ; Terrapin Beer Co.; Athens, GA; Belgium Style Imperial Stout; ABV: 8.5. 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 concealed.

The Bruery Coton; The Bruery; Placentia, CA; Old Ale; ABV: 14.5. As smooth as it is complex, Coton takes its place alongside among the world’s best 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.

Town Hall Masala Mama IPA; Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery; Minneapolis, MN; India Pale Ale; ABV: 5.9. This world class IPA 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.

Traquair 2020; Traquair House Brewery Lld; Peeblesshire, Scotland (UK); Barley Wine; ABV: 10.0. This sublime barley wine was brewed in a limited release of 9600 bottles to honor the first decade of the 21st century, and to be consumed before the end of the second decade. This ale is nothing short of outstanding, and takes its place among my favorite all-time barley wines. Deep chestnut in color, 2020 has pronounced notes of sweet caramel and dark fruit in the nose and initial taste, followed by hints of brown sugar, honey, and vanilla spices with a smooth creamy finish. 2020 is a very well balanced beer, and the alcohol content of 10% is extremely well hidden.

Verhaeghe Duchesse De Bourgogne (Brouwerij Verhaeghe; Vichte, Belgium; Flanders Red Ale; ABV: 6.2). This 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.

Westvleteren 12; Westvleteren Abdij St. Sixtus; Westvleteren, Belgium; Quadrupel; ABV: 10.2. This is the ale that Beer Advocate, BeerPal, Rate Beer, and many others consider The World’s Best Beer. 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. This Belgian quad is quite possibly the most complex beer that I have ever had. Westvleteren 12 pours a rich chestnut color, and there are light notes of caramel and dark fruit in the nose. The flavors are 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.

Hop Bombs Away

October 22nd, 2010 Bill Zavorskas No comments

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.

Jurassic Pint

June 2nd, 2010 Bill Zavorskas No comments

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.

Making My Case

February 20th, 2010 Bill Zavorskas No comments

Green Flash Imperial IPA makes a strong case

Another year, another Best Beers list. I decided to do a new slant on this year’s All-Time Favorites post, and create my dream case. The criteria is as follows:

a. Retired beers have been omitted. Ales such as DuClaw Repent, Blue Point No Apologies Imperial IPA, and Thomas Hardy’s Ale were among my favorites, but I want to list beers that are currently available to everyone.

b. Extreme beers, e.g. ABV of 20% or more, have been omitted as well. Samuel Adams Utopias and BrewDog Tactical Nuclear Penguin have more in common with a liquor than a conventional beer.

c. I’ve limited the list to one beer per brewery. This not only prevents the list from getting too top heavy with certain breweries, e.g. St. Bernardus, DFH, Stone, etc., but also allows me to feature some excellent regional brews as well. Although one beer on this list, Life & Limb, is a collaboration between DFH & Sierra Nevada, it’s technically considered to be brewed from the latter and will be listed under that brewery.

And now, without further adieu, is my Ultimate Case, 2010 Edition:

Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Märzen; Brauerei Heller-Trum / Schlenkerla; Bamberg, Germany; Rauchbier; ABV: 5.4. Brewed in the classic rauchbier tradition, this marzen has an incredible smoky nose and taste to match. The big hickory smoke bite reminds me of smoked bacon, sausage, etc., and there’s a hint of malt and light hops as well.

Anchor Old Foghorn; Anchor Brewing Co.; San Francisco, CA; Barley Wine; ABV: 8.8. An exceptional barley wine from Anchor Brewing. The toffee and sweet caramel malt is balanced by dark fruit, citrusy hops, & spices. This ale has the taste and feel of a classic English barley wine.

Ayinger Celebrator Doppelbock; Privatbrauerei Franz Inselkammer KG / Brauerei Aying; Aying, Germany; Doppelbock; ABV: 6.7. This is an absolutely superb doppelbock. The rich malty taste is complimented by hints of sweet chocolate & spicy hops. Wunderbar!

Bell’s HopSlam Ale; Bell’s Brewery, Inc.; Kalamazoo, MI; Imperial India Pale Ale; ABV: 10.0. An absolute hop bomb! The uber hoppy presence is well balanced by sweet malt and a taste of honey. Truly one of the best IPAs out there.

Brewer’s Art Ozzy Ale; Brewer’s Art; Baltimore, MD; Belgian Strong Pale Ale; ABV: 7.3. A smooth & crisp tasting Belgian style ale. There’s a nice array of floral hops and Belgian spices, with a slight peppery finish at the end.

Brooklyn Black OPS; Brooklyn Brewery; Brooklyn, NY; Russian Imperial Stout; ABV: 11.0. A truly outstanding Russian Imperial stout from Brooklyn. A wonderfully complex mix of chocolate, roasted malt, and spices. Like a chocolate milkshake with a kick!

Cigar City Warmer Winter Winter Warmer; Cigar City Brewing; Tampa, FL; Old Ale; ABV: 10.0. An excellent old ale from the outstanding brewery Cigar City. There’s a hint of tobacco up front, followed by an array of chocolate, caramel malt, sweet fruit, and cinnamon spices with a slightly bitter finish.

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

Dogfish Squall IPA; Dogfish Head Craft Brewery; Milton, DE; Imperial India Pale Ale; ABV: 9.0. An unfiltered, bottle conditioned, and dry-hopped version of their 90 Minute IPA. The taste is bold and complex. There’s a gust of citrusy, piney, and spicy hops up front, complimented by sweet caramel and a malty presence at the end.

Green Flash Imperial IPA; Green Flash Brewing Co.; Vista, CA; Imperial India Pale Ale; ABV: 9.0. Smooth, nutty, & spicy. A crisp citrusy burst up front, complimented by sweet malt and a piney hops finish. Another of the classic West Coast IPAs.

Harviestoun Ola Dubh Special 16 Reserve; Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.; Alva Clackmannanshire, Scotland (UK); Old Ale; ABV: 8.0. A superior ale aged in a 16 year old whiskey cask. The hint of whiskey is complimented by chocolate, dark malt, and vanilla spices. Similar to an Imperial Porter, it’s very smooth and robust with an exceptional finish.

La Caracole Saxo; Brasserie Caracole; Farmignoul, Belgium; Belgian Strong Pale Ale; ABV: 8.0. An incredibly smooth 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.

New Belgium 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 crafted by New Belgium. This would easily be my session beer if I could get it here in Florida. The nutty taste is well balanced by subtle hints of sweet caramel, roasted coffee, & cocoa chocolate.

Ommegang Ommegeddon; Brewery Ommegang; Cooperstown, NY; Saison / Farmhouse Ale; ABV: 8.0. Another outstanding Belgian style ale from Ommegang. This saison is very crisp and refreshing. There’s a nice bite of tart and citrusy fruit up front, balanced by Brettanomyces yeast, sweet malt, and grassy hops with a clean dry finish.

Rogue Double Dead Guy Ale; Rogue Ales Brewery; Newport, OR; American Strong Ale; ABV: 9.5. While the alcohol is a bit more noticeable than their original Dead Guy Ale, it still compliments the sweet malt, caramel, & cascade hops to deliver a rich & smooth tasting beer. In short, as enjoyable as the original maibock, but more complex & certainly with more of a kick.

Russian River 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. The grapefruit flavor up front highlights the array of citrusy hops, and is complimented by roasted malt & caramel. The finish is crisp & clean.

Samuel Smith’s The Famous Taddy Porter; Samuel Smith’s Old Brewery; Tadcaster, North Yorkshire, United Kingdom; English Porter; ABV: 5.0. The quintessential English porter. A creamy, coffee tasting beer balanced by hints of chocolate & malt.

Sierra Nevada/Dogfish Life & Limb; Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.; Chico, CA; American Strong Ale; ABV: 10.2. A collaboration between Dogfish and Sierra Nevada, it took a lot of effort to find this beer, but the hunt was definitely worth it! This is a very complex beer to say the least. I noticed a smoky, almost tobacco like taste up front, followed by chocolate, sweet molasses, dark fruit, and possibly a little vanilla as well. There’s even a woody feel to Life & Limb that reminds me of Dogfish’s own Palo Santo Marron, albeit a slightly lighter version.

Southern Tier Pumking; Southern Tier Brewing Co.; Lakewood, NY; Pumpkin Ale; ABV: 9.0. This pick surprised me, as I’m always singing the praises of their Southern Tier Unearthly (Southern Tier Brewing Company; Lakewood, NY; Imperial India Pale Ale; ABV: 11.0). Pumking, however, is quite simply the best of the pumpkin ales and deserves to be on this list. It’s bold & spicy with a wonderful pumpkin taste from start to finish. There’s even a hint of pie crust in the flavor! For my hop-head moments, I would substitute this choice for Unearthly, which is quite possibly the best IPA around. A wonderful full bodied ale, the citrusy hops taste is well balanced by sweet malt. It’s very smooth for a hop bomb!

Stone 09.09.09 Vertical Epic Ale; Stone Brewing Co.; Escondido, CA; Belgian Strong Dark Ale; ABV: 8.6. An absolutely outstanding Belgian strong ale. Brewed on a limited basis annually, Epic is both smooth and complex. The rich chocolate taste is complimented by roasted malt, vanilla, orange peel, and spices.

St. Bernardus Abt 12; Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV; Watou, Belgium; Quadrupel; ABV: 10.5. A wonderfully complex balance of spices, ripe fruit, & sweet malt. The gold standard of Belgium quads, and one of the world’s best beers period.

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.

Three Floyds Behemoth Barleywine; Three Floyds Brewing Co.; Munster, ID; Barley Wine; ABV: 12.5. An superb offering from the acclaimed Three Floyds Brewery. Behemoth has a sweet caramel taste up front, which is complimented by hints of tart fruit, raisins, roasted malt, and piny hops with a slightly bitter finish.

Tripel Karmeliet; Brouwerij Bosteels; Buggenhout, Belgium; Tripel; ABV: 8.4. An absolutely outstanding abbey ale. The taste is quite smooth, with a nice array of citrus fruit up front complimented by sweet malt. flowery hops, and spices.

Honorable Mention 6-Pack:

Boundary Bay Imperial IPA; Boundary Bay Brewery & Bistro; Bellingham, WA; Imperial India Pale Ale; ABV: 8.5. This IPA is an absolute hop bomb, with the big Cascade hops taste well balanced by roasted malt & a piney finish.

BrewDog Dogma; BrewDog Ltd.; Fraserburgh, Scotland (UK); Herbed / Spiced Beer; ABV: 7.8. A very crisp and drinkable beer. The taste is well balanced between the sweet malt, honey, kola nut, poppy seed, guarana, and spices with a nice clean finish. Its alcohol content of nearly 8% isn’t noticeable, so Dogma has the feel of a session beer.

DuClaw Devil’s Milk; DuClaw Brewing Co.; Bel Air, MD; Barley Wine; ABV: 11.0. A very potent barley wine. The sweet caramel malt is well balanced by dark fruit and citrusy hops.

Ellicott Mills Bock of the Bat; Ellicott Mills Brewing Co.; Ellicott Mills, MD; Maibock; ABV: 7.0. Brewed in the classic Alpenhof style of beer. An excellent bock with a roasted, malty taste balanced with dark fruit.

Ninkasi 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 noticable up front, and is well balanced by biscuity malt & a dry finish.

Oskar Blues Ten FIDY; Oskar Blues Grill & Brewery; Lyons, CO; Russian Imperial Stout; ABV: 10.0. This is an excellent Russian imperial stout, with the rich milk chocolate taste complimented by coffee, dark fruit, and roasted malt. Ten FIDY packs a punch at 10% ABV, so it’s definitely a beer to be savored!

A Festive Weekend

February 8th, 2010 Bill Zavorskas 2 comments

Beer babes Miranda & Cathy...

and the Shock Top bug were among the highlights

Saturday’s 3rd Annual Bradenton Beer Festival - officially called The Bradenton Brewgrass Beer Festival 2010 – kicked off an exciting weekend that included of course the most watched program in television history, Super Bowl 44 between the Indianapolis Colts & New Orleans Saints. I met up with all of my friends early in the afternoon, and a great time was had by all. Still, there were some issues as well.

- The festival started late. They initially gave us plastic cups instead of the glass shot glasses from previous years, which can distract from the beer’s flavor.

– The breweries were condensed down to a handful of tents. In previous years, each brewery had their own tent with staff on hand. Things were able to run a lot smoother in that situation.

- Many of the beers were warm when the festival started. This cheated people out of trying some truly outstanding beers at their best. I had the Goose Island Burbon County Stout (Goose Island Beer Co.; Chicago, IL; Imperial Stout; ABV: 13.0) lukewarm. It had a nice bite of dark chocolate and roasted malt with a nice bourbon finish. Bourbon reminded me of a more subtle version of BrewDog Tactical Nuclear Penguin, but I was still left wanting more. I look forward to trying this beer again once it’s on tap at World of Beer, The Long Kangaroo Pub, etc., so that I can truly appreciate its complexity.

Likewise for Southern Tier Unearthly. Many of my hophead friends who’d never tried it were cheated because the beer was served basically warm instead of chilled. Fortunately, they had Southern Tier Mokah (Southern Tier Brewing Co.; Lakewood, NY; Imperial Stout; ABV: 11.0) on hand, and Southern Tier Choklat (Southern Tier Brewing Co.; Lakewood, NY; Imperial Stout; ABV: 9.1) on hand. Mokah has a rich chocolate presence complimented by sweet caramel, roasted malt, and coffee. Choklat is equally big in flavor with its milk chocolate taste backed up by roasted malt and coffee. Both tasted quite good even without being chilled.

I’ve kvetched enough..now for the good things!

- The most interesting beer of the festival was the Berliner Weisse brewed by the Homebrewers Association of Manatee & Sarasota (H.A.M.S.). It was available straightup, with raspberry added, or with woodruff herbs. All three versions were great, but the latter, which is green and very floral, added a nice kick to Berliner.

- All of the local Tampa Bay brewers turned out excellent beers – among them were:

Cigar City Hunahpu’s Imperial Stout (Cigar City Brewing; Tampa, FL; Russian Imperial Stout; ABV: 11.0). A potent and truly outstanding imperial stout. An array of rich chocolate, dark fruit, and peppery spices. My friend Bret nearly cleaned this out singlehandedly at Brewfest!

Old Elephant Foot IPA (Tampa Bay Brewing Co.; Tampa Bay, FL; India Pale Ale; ABV: 6.7). An excellent IPA. Big bite of citrusy hops up front, with hints of sweet malt & a slightly bitter aftertaste. One of my favorites at TBBC.

Old Prague Pilsener (Sarasota Brewing Co.; Sarasota, FL; Czech Pilsener; ABV: 5.0). A clean refreshing pilsener. Crisp and smooth, with the buttery flavor well balanced by grassy hops and spices.

Dunedin Brewmasters Reserve Trippel (Dunedin Brewery; Dunedin, FL; Tripel; ABV: 10.7). A superb Abbey tripel. Very smooth and drinkable for an ale that’s nearly 11% ABV. A nice array of citrusy fruit, hops, and spices. Their best offering along with the Dunedin Spatz BarkeyWine Barley Wine Style Ale (Dunedin Brewery; Dunedin, FL; Barley Wine; ABV: 9.0).

- More breweries are attending the festival. In addition to Goose Island and Southern Tier, other excellent regionals such as Blue Point and Victory Brewing were on hand as well.

- The Lost Kangaroo Pub was a great place to hang before, during, and after the festival. Their tap lines were excellent as usual, and they had the amazing Bell’s HopSlam on tap for $6, and Brooklyn Monster Ale (Brooklyn Brewery; Brooklyn, NY; Barley Wine; ABV: 10.8) on tap as well for $3.

- Tony, Hack, Jenna, and the gang from World of Beer were there as well. I was wearing my ‘WOB 50′ t-shirt, which became a great conversation piece with some of the attendees. I’d like to think that I recruited a few more Loyalty Card members.

- And last, but not least, the bands were kicking and the crowd was great.

Oh yeah, there was that game on Sunday. Although I rooted for the Saints, I like many thought that the Colts would be too much for them. I’m glad to have been proven wrong. Who Dat indeed!

Lost Kangaroo Pub on Urbanspoon

The Perfect Storm

December 30th, 2009 Bill Zavorskas No comments

Squall will blow you away

Squall will blow you away

I picked up a bottle of Dogfish Squall IPA (Dogfish Head Craft Brewery; Milton, DE; Imperial India Pale Ale; ABV: 9.0) at Total Wine & More the other day. It’s described as an unfiltered, bottle conditioned, and dry-hopped version of their 90 Minute IPA. Quite frankly, it beats the latter hands down.

The taste is bold and complex. There’s a gust of citrusy, piney, and spicy hops up front, complimented by sweet caramel and a malty presence at the end. Squall is very easy to drink despite the 9% alcohol content, and compares quite favorably with IPAs like Unearthly, Pliny The Elder, Green Flash Imperial IPA, and HopSlam. My taste buds were reeling as this beer got better and better with each sip!

DFH has released this IPA in a limited edition, but plans to make it more widespread in 2010. Be sure to pick up a bottle or two next time Squall blows into your area.

Dog(fish) Days of Summer

June 14th, 2009 Bill Zavorskas 1 comment

You like me, you really like me

You like me, you really like me

Summer officially starts next Sunday, but for us here in Florida it’s been summer for weeks now. With the heat & humidity reminding Sunshine State residents of the dog days of August and September.

I stopped by my local Fresh Market earlier this week to pick up dinner, and was in need of something refreshing. They were running a special on several beers, so I decided on the Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA (Dogfish Head Craft Brewery; Milton, DE; Imperial India Pale Ale; ABV: 9.0). This beer had fallen out of favor with me in the past year or so, as I felt that they were sacrificing the original taste for a more alcoholic bite. While it was still a pretty good beer, it seemed a bit overrated and not up to previous standards, or comparable to top flight IPAs such as Green Flash Imperial IPA, Stone Ruination IPA, & Bell’s HopSlam Ale.

Well, I got home, poured it into a chilled DFH glass, and hoped for the best. Maybe it was the humidity, or the long day that I had at work. Maybe DFH read my mind. Guess what? I liked it, I really liked it! The alcohol is still there, but it’s balanced by a wonderful array of big citrusy hops & malt. The finish is crisp & clean. Just like old times.

My faith has been restored, and I once again consider this beer one of the best IPAs out there.

In addition to Dogfish 90 Minute IPA, I had several other excellent brews recently at the Mellow Mushroom:

Maduro Oatmeal Brown Ale; Cigar City Brewing; Tampa, FL; American Brown Ale; ABV: 5.5. A truly outstanding brown ale. The toasted malt up front is well balanced by oatmeal, milk chocolate, & caramel. More than holds its own with the classic English brown ales. The best offering from a brewery known for its outstanding beers.

Stone Imperial Russian Stout; Stone Brewing Co.; Escondido, CA; Russian Imperial Stout; ABV: 10.8. Bell’s Expedition Stout gets all of the fan fare among the imperials, but this beer blows it out of the water in my opinion. The rich chocolate taste is complimented by roasted malt, coffee, & a mild hoppy finish. Very smooth for a beer with an ABV of nearly 11%. Rivals Brooklyn Black OPS as my favorite Russian Imperial Stout.

Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine (2009 Double Dry Hopped); Stone Brewing Co.; Escondido, CA; Barley Wine; ABV: 11.3. Another superb offering from Stone. Big malty taste with hints of bourbon & vanilla, & a blast of citrusy hops. Reminds me of Sierra Nevada Bigfoot.

Favorite Beers

April 13th, 2009 Bill Zavorskas No comments

Yours Truly

Yours Truly

Here is a list of my Favorite Beers. I have listed them in alphabetical order, along with the brewery, location, style, ABV content, and some comments for your reference.

A – J

Anchor Steam Beer; Anchor Brewing Co.; San Francisco, CA; Steam Beer; ABV: 4.9. An absolute classic. Crisp & dry with a light hoppy balance.

Ayinger Celebrator Doppelbock; Privatbrauerei Franz Inselkammer KG / Brauerei Aying; Aying, Germany; Doppelbock; ABV: 6.7. A superb doppelbock. Rich malty taste with hints of sweet chocolate & spicy hops. Wunderbar!

Bell’s HopSlam Ale; Bell’s Brewery, Inc.; Kalamazoo, MI; Imperial India Pale Ale; ABV: 10.0. Uber hoppy with a taste of honey.

Blithering Idiot; Weyerbacher Brewing Co.; Easton, PA; Barley Wine; ABV: 11.1. A beer to be savored; sweet & slightly fruity with a hint of caramel. If you drink more than one or two of these, the name of this beer will be very appropriate!

Bock of the Bat; Ellicott Mills Brewing Co.; Ellicott Mills, MD; Maibock; ABV: 7.0. An excellent bock with a roasted, malty taste balanced with dark fruit.

Brewer’s Art Ozzy Ale; Brewer’s Art; Baltimore, MD; Belgian Strong Pale Ale; ABV: 7.3. Smooth & crisp, with a slight peppery finish at the end.

Brewer’s Art Resurrection; Brewer’s Art; Baltimore, MD; Dubbel; ABV: 7.2. Strong & flavorful, but not too sweet.

Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout; Brooklyn Brewery; Brooklyn, NY; Russian Imperial Stout; ABV: 10.6. Very flavorful with hints of roasted malt & chocolate.

Brooklyn Black OPS (2008); Brooklyn Brewery; Brooklyn, NY; Russian Imperial Stout; ABV: 11.0. Another great Russian Imperial stout from Brooklyn. Like a chocolate milkshake with a kick!

Brooklyn Lager; Brooklyn Brewery; Brooklyn, NY; American Amber; ABV: 5.2. A classic red lager with a crisp, clean taste.

Brother Adam’s Bragget Ale; Atlantic Brewing Co.; Bar Harbor, ME; Bragott; ABV: 11.8. Similar to a Barley Wine. Very flavorful with a hint of honey.

Chimay Grande Réserve (Blue); Bières de Chimay (Abbaye Notre Dame de Scourmont); Baileux (Chimay), Belgium; Belgian Strong Dark Ale; ABV: 9.0. The gold standard of Belgium strong ales. A nice balance of caramel, roasted malt, & dark fruit.

Chocolate Stout; Rogue Ales Brewery; Newport, OR; American Stout; ABV: 6.0. Uber chocolate taste with hints of roasted malt & hops.

Corsendonk Pater Abbey Brown Ale; Brouwerij Corsendonk; Oud-Turnhout, Belgium; Dubbel; ABV: 7.5. A bold, spicy taste with hints of dried fruit.

Dead Guy Ale; Rogue Ales Brewery; Newport, OR; Maibock; ABV: 6.5. Classic maibock. Smooth taste is well balanced between the hops & sweet malt.

Dogfish Burton Baton; Dogfish Head Craft Brewery; Milton, DE; Imperial India Pale Ale; ABV: 10.0. A bold & refreshing double IPA.

Dogfish Immort Ale; Dogfish Head Craft Brewery; Milton, DE; Barley Wine; ABV: 11.0. Taste is smooth, creamy, & slightly hoppy at the end, with a hint of oak.

Dogfish Olde School Barley Wine; Dogfish Head Craft Brewery; Milton, DE; Barley Wine; ABV: 15.0. A complex beer that’s extreme in its taste. Worth every sip.

Dogfish Palo Santo Marron; Dogfish Head Craft Brewery; Milton, DE; American Brown Ale; ABV: 12.0. Crafted in tanks made of Paraguayan Palo Santo wood, this is a unique beer. Roasted malt up front is balanced by sweet caramel & vanilla, with a slightly woody bitterness.

Flying Dog Double Dog Double IPA; Flying Dog Brewery; Frederick, MD; Imperial India Pale Ale; ABV: 11.5. Big hoppy bite balanced by toasted malt.

Gordon Imperial IPA; Oskar Blues Grill & Brewery; Lyons, CO; Imperial India Pale Ale; ABV: 8.7. Very drinkable; spicy with a citrus appeal. Great either on tap or in the can (best beer I’ve ever had out of a can).

Green Flash Barleywine Style Ale (Vintage); Green Flash Brewing Co.; Vista, CA; Barley Wine; ABV: 10.0. Surprisingly hoppy for a barley wine. Well balanced by hints of malt & caramel.

Green Flash Imperial IPA; Green Flash Brewing Co.; Vista, CA; Imperial India Pale Ale; ABV: 9.0. Smooth, nutty, & spicy. Along with Stone’s Ruination IPA, also out of the San Diego area, the best IPA I have ever drank.

Guinness Extra Stout (Original); Guinness Ltd.; Dublin, Ireland; Irish Dry Stout; ABV: 6.0. Classic Irish stout. My goto beer in many bars.

Heavy Seas Below Decks (Barley Wine Style Ale); Clipper City Brewery; Baltimore, MD; Barley Wine; ABV: 10.0. A wonderful, English style barley wine.

Heavy Seas Holy Sheet (Uber Abby Ale); Clipper City Brewery; Baltimore, MD; Belgian Strong Ale; ABV: 9.0. Holy s—! An Abbey ale with a dark, fruity taste complimented by a bit of spiciness.

Heavy Seas Loose Cannon (Hop3 Ale); Clipper City Brewery; Baltimore, MD; India Pale Ale; ABV: 7.3. Very smooth; well balanced between the malt base & citrus hoppiness.

Jai Alai IPA; Cigar City Brewing; Tampa, FL; India Pale Ale; ABV: 7.5. One of the smoothest tasting IPAs around. A nice balance of piney hops & malt.

John Barleycorn Barley Wine Ale; Mad River Brewing Co.; Blue Lake, CA; Barley Wine; ABV: 9.5. Very balanced and highly drinkable.

John Courage Amber; Scott & Newcastle UK Ltd.; Edinburgh, Scotland (UK); English Pale Ale; ABV: 4.7. Very crisp & clean tasting amber ale. I hope that Newcastle redistributes it back in the USA.

K – Z

Maharaja; Avery Brewing Company; Boulder, CO; Imperial India Pale Ale; ABV: 10.5. An absolute hop monster, with a bold grapefruit taste and a nice dry finish.

Nethergate Old Growler; Nethergate Brewery Co., Ltd.; Claire, Suffolk, United Kingdom; English Porter; ABV: 5.5. Very bold & flavorful with a chocolate malt feel.

Ola Dubh Special 16 Reserve; Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.; Alva Clackmannanshire, Scotland (UK); Old Ale; ABV: 8.0. A superior ale aged in a 16 year old whiskey cask. Similar to an Imperial Porter; robust with an exceptional finish.

Old Crustacean; Rogue Ales Brewery; Newport, OR; Barley Wine; ABV: 11.3. Now there’s a barley wine! Very hoppy, sweet, with a strong yet smooth alcoholic taste. Savor this one.

Old Engine Oil; Harviestoun Brewery Ltd.; Alva Clackmannanshire, Scotland (UK); Old Ale; ABV: 6.0. A smooth, caramel taste with a hint of roasted malt & chocolate.

Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout; North Coast Brewing Co.; Fort Bragg, CA; Russian Imperial Stout; ABV: 9.0. Expresso & sweet chocolate flavors are balanced by a slightly hoppy presence.

Oliver’s Best Bitter; The Wharf Rat/Oliver Breweries Ltd.; Baltimore, MD; English Bitter; ABV: 4.8. Clean, crisp taste with a dry bitter finish. Compares favorably to classic English bitters.

Oliver’s Hot Monkey Love; The Wharf Rat/Oliver Breweries Ltd.; Baltimore, MD; Old Ale; ABV: 11.0. A great winter warmer ale. Comparable to Thomas Hardy’s Ale.

Rodenbach Classic (Red); Brouwerij Rodenbach N.V.; Roeselare, Belgium; Flanders Red Ale; ABV: 5.0. Tart & sweet with a sour cherry bite. An extremely drinkable Belgium red ale.

Salvator Doppel Bock; Paulaner Salvator Thomasbraeu AG; Munchen, Germany; Dopplebock; ABV: 7.9. A sweet malty taste complimented by hints of caramel & chocolate.

Samuel Adams Double Bock (Imperial Series); Boston Beer Co.; Boston, MA; Doppelbock; ABV: 9.5. Smooth drinking & well balanced doppebock. Sweet malt with a hint of dark fruit. Hard to believe the ABV is 9.5!

Samuel Adams Chocolate Bock; Boston Beer Co.; Boston, MA; Bock; ABV: 5.6. A rich, cocoa chocolate taste with hints of caramel & vanilla.

Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout; Samuel Smith’s Old Brewery; Tadcaster, North Yorkshire, United Kingdom; Oatmeal Stout; ABV: 5.0. Very smooth with hints of oats & coffee.

Samuel Smith’s The Famous Taddy Porter; Samuel Smith’s Old Brewery; Tadcaster, North Yorkshire, United Kingdom; English Porter; ABV: 5.0. A creamy, coffee tasting porter balanced by hints of chocolate & malt.

Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale (2009); Sierra Nevada Brewing Co; Chico, CA; Barley Wine; ABV: 9.6. A very complex ale. Hoppiness is surprising for a barley wine.

Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA; Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.; Chico, CA; India Pale Ale; ABV: 7.2. Bold & hoppy, with a zesty, citrus appeal. The best of Sierra’s excellent line of IPAs.

Skullsplitter; Orkney Brewery; Orkney, Scotland (UK); Barley Wine; ABV: 8.5. Hard to categorize..is it a barley wine, wee heavy, or both? Big malt presence with hints of caramel & raisins.

Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale; Smuttynose Brewing Co.; Portsmouth, NH; Pumpkin Ale; ABV: 6.0. A very enjoyable pumpkin ale. Like drinking a pumpkin pie!

Smuttynose Wheat Wine; Smuttynose Brewing Co.; Portsmouth, NH; Wheat Wine; ABV: 10.7. A big, bold wheat wine with a well balanced array of barley, wheat, & fruit.

Southern Tier Harvest Ale; Southern Tier Brewing Co.; Lakewood, NY; Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB); ABV: 5.2. A very drinkable ESB. The citrusy taste is well balanced by a hint of sweet malt.

Southern Tier Pumking; Southern Tier Brewing Co.; Lakewood, NY; Pumpkin Ale; ABV: 9.0. The best of the pumpkin ales. Bold & spicy.

Southern Tier Unearthly; Southern Tier Brewing Company; Lakewood, NY; Imperial India Pale Ale; ABV: 11.0. A wonderful full bodied Imperial IPA. Citrusy hops with a hint of sweet malt.

Stone Oaked Arrogant Bastard Ale; Stone Brewing Co.; Escondido, CA; American Strong Ale; ABV: 7.2. A burst of citrus hoppiness with an smooth, oak aftertaste.

Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine 2009 Double Dry Hopped; Stone Brewing Co.; Escondido, CA; Barley Wine; ABV: 11.3. A very drinkable barley wine. Big hoppy presence is balanced by sweet malt & spices.

Stone Ruination IPA; Stone Brewing Co.; Escondido, CA; Imperial India Pale Ale; ABV: 7.7. Like an IPA on steroids! Very hoppy with a grapefruit-like taste. The San Diego area does hops right (see Green Flash Imperial IPA above).

St. Bernardus Abt 12; Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV; Watou, Belgium; Quadrupel; ABV: 10.5. A wonderfully complex balance of spices, ripe fruit, & sweet malt. A truly outstanding Belgium quad.

Thomas Hardy’s Ale; O’Hanlon’s Brewing Co; Clyst St. Lawrence, United Kingdom; Barley Wine; ABV: 11.7. Full bodied & smooth with a hint of fruit. Definitely a beer to be savored…slowly.

Three Philosophers Belgian Style Blend (Quadrupel); Brewery Ommegang; Cooperstown, NY; Quadrupel; ABV: 9.8. An excellent quad with a sweet, malty taste balanced by hints of sour cherries.

Wolaver’s Oatmeal Stout; Otter Creek Brewery; Middlebury, VT; Oatmeal Stout; ABV: 5.9. An array of roasted mailt, chocolate, oats, & barley with a slightly hoppy finish. A very tasty organic beer.

Young’s Double Chocolate Stout; Wells & Young’s Ltd.; Bedford, United Kingdom; Sweet Stout; ABV: 5.2. Sweet, milk chocolate flavor with a slight malty aftertaste.

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Final Four Beer Bracket

April 4th, 2009 Bill Zavorskas No comments

As we’re hours before tipoff for the Final Four in Motown, my thoughts are on what should be a great night of basketball, as well as suggested brews for the many faithful cheering their teams on. I’ve recommended a beer from each state, or region in the case of UConn, where the respective school is located. Without further adieu, the final four list.

Connecticut; Samuel Adams Chocolate Bock; Boston Beer Co.; Boston, MA; Bock; ABV: 5.6. A rich, cocoa chocolate taste with hints of caramel & vanilla. As smooth as the Huskies in transition.

Michigan State; Bell’s HopSlam Ale; Bell’s Brewery, Inc.; Kalamazoo, MI; Imperial India Pale Ale; ABV: 10.0. Uber hoppy with a taste of honey. While the ABV is high, it won’t overpower you the way the Spartans overpowered Louisville in the Elite Eight! A great beer for any Sparty Party.

North Carolina; Highland Imperial Gaelic Ale; Highland Brewing; Asheville, NC; English Strong Ale; ABV: 8.7. Sweet malty taste upfront with hints of caramel, brown sugar, dark fruits, & a nice hoppy finish. Well balanced like the Tar Heels.

Villanova; Blithering Idiot; Weyerbacher Brewing Co.; Easton, PA; Barley Wine; ABV: 11.1. A beer to be savored; sweet & slightly fruity with a hint of caramel. The Wildcats made a lot of experts lool like blithering idiots as they overpowered Duke & nipped Pittsburgh! Big bold taste can be as imposing as the ‘Cats have been on the way to Motown.

Good luck to all, and Go Huskies!