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The Greatest Show On Tap

March 29th, 2011 Bill Zavorskas No comments

Bell's Beer Circus had lots of flavorful attractions

What an incredible time we all had at Saturday’s Mr. Beery’s Bell’s Beer Circus. Lots of fun and games, from mechanical shark riding to the HopSlam toss (yours truly won a Bell’s gift basket in the latter). Bell’s rep Cindi Curtis and her merry band of clowns were on hand to keep everyone entertained, as well as lending a hand to ringmaster Mark & the gang. And of course there was beer…21 Bell’s brews on tap, including several not normally available in the Sunshine State.

There was even a Bell’s Firkin Cask Conditioned HopSlam (Bell’s Brewery; Kalamazoo, MI; Imperial India Pale Ale; ABV: 10.0) that was out of this world. The non carbonated version of this hop bomb really brings out the big notes of citrusy hops, especially the grapefruit, along with the sweet malt and honey.

Additionally, I had a chance to sample a few offerings for the first time, with several of them truly standing out.

Bell’s Batch 9000; Bell’s Brewery; Kalamazoo, MI; Imperial Stout; ABV: 12.5. A full bodied imperial stout. Jet black in color with subtle notes of caramel malt and dark fruit giving way to a huge bourbon presence on the back end. Wow!

Bell’s Batch 10000; Bell’s Brewery; Kalamazoo, MI; American Strong Ale; ABV: 9.2. Along with the cask conditioned HopSlam, this was my favorite beer of the day. This chocolate colored ale has big notes of black cherry and caramel malt with a nice bite of dry citrus hops at the finish.

Bell’s Hell Hath No Fury; Bell’s Brewery; Kalamazoo, MI; Dubbel; ABV: 7.5. This dark abbey ale has rich notes of Belgian yeast and dark fruit complimented by spicy cloves and a roasted malt backbone. A very smooth and well balanced beer.

Bell’s Henry McGill’s Spiced Stout; Bell’s Brewery; Kalamazoo, MI; Spiced Stout; ABV: 7.5. This wonderfully eclectic stout is dark chocolate in color with appreciable notes of ginger and nutmeg balanced by roasted malt at the end.

Many thanks to Mark and Cindi for hosting The Mr. Beery’s Bell’s Beer Circus. It was truly The Greatest Show on Tap!

Bright Lights Brew City: Elf-N-Magic

December 14th, 2010 Bill Zavorskas No comments

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

Independence Day

March 29th, 2010 Bill Zavorskas No comments

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.

Abracadabra

September 29th, 2009 Bill Zavorskas 1 comment

Spencer Horsman dazzled the crowd at Illusions...

Spencer Horsman dazzled the crowd at Illusions...

while Jerry Rowan juggled torches, beer, & one liners in Inner Harbor

while Jerry Rowan juggled torches, beer, & one liners in Inner Harbor

Even the Lions found a little magic this past weekend

Even the Lions found a little magic on Sunday

It was a magical weekend in Baltimore this weekend, whether one was catching up with old friends, attending a wedding, or taking in a magic show. The city was hopping as the weather held up until late in the day on Saturday, and even after the rain fell, people were out and about.

There were street performers like Jerry Rowan, whose juggling expertise has been featured on David Letterman. He dazzled the crowd with an act that included everything from juggling torches while riding a unicycle to balancing 2 Coronas and chugging down the bottom one! His tongue was as sharp as his juggling skills.

Anne & I went barhopping one night in Federal Hill, & took in the 10:00 magic show at Illusions. Owned by Ken Horsman, a former professional clown, the bar has a swanky nightclub feel to it. The featured performer, his son Spencer, is an internationally known magician. Young Spencer was indeed a master of illusion, and after entertaining the audience with some card tricks, he capped off the night by escaping from a straitjacket ala Houdini. I even got to assist Spencer in a couple of magic tricks, which added to the fun. Illusions has an excellent beer selection to boot.

There were a few beers sampled this weekend that worked their magic on me. These included the following:

Magic Hat #9; Magic Hat Brewing Co.; Burlington, VT; Fruit / Vegetable Beer; ABV: 4.6. A perfect beer for the magic theme. Very smooth, crisp, & refreshing. The fruity taste, particularly apricots, is balanced by an array of dry malt & light hops.

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

Heavy Seas The Great Pumpkin; Clipper City Brewery; Baltimore, MD; Pumpkin Ale; ABV: 8.0. Another winner from Clipper City. I love a great pumpkin ale, & this is right on the mark. The pumpkin pie taste is complimented by sweet malt & spices such as nutmeg and cinnamon. The 8% ABV is barely noticeable.

St. Bernardus Pater 6; Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV; Watou, Belgium; Dubbel; ABV: 6.7. A superb dubbel from St. Bernardus. The taste is a perfect blend of sweet caramel, malt, & dark fruit. One of the best dubbels that I’ve ever had.

Dark Starr Stout; Starr Hill Brewery; Crozet, VA; Irish Dry Stout; ABV: 4.8. Very smooth & creamy chocolate stout. The chocolaty taste is well balanced by a hint of spices & a nice dry finish.

We caught the end of the Lions-Redskins game, at The Greene Turtle at BWI, before flying back to Tampa. The Lions ended their losing spell with a 19-14 win. I know that our Michigan friends are glad that they finally broke through after a 19-game losing streak that dated back to December 2007. As one football analyst from ESPN pointed out, this is the first professional win ever experienced by a player drafted by the Lions in 2008!

In honor of their achievement, I had a Lion Stout (Ceylon / Lion Brewery Ltd.; Biyagama, Sri Lanka; Foreign Stout; ABV: 8.0) at Shakespeare’s. The big dark chocolate taste up front is complimented by sweet cherries, roasted malt, coffee, & a hint of licorice.

And last but not least, congratulations to the Yankees for working some magic of their own in a sweep of the Red Sox, clinching the AL East & home field advantage!

Southern Comfort

June 4th, 2009 Bill Zavorskas No comments

Andygator will sneak up on you if you're not careful

Andygator will sneak up on you if you're not careful

I have been a fan of Abita Brewing Co. since I tried their Purple Haze a few years ago. So I was curious when my local Total Wine had the Andygator & Abbey Ale in stock.

The Andygator is a very easy drinking helles dopplebock. It has a sweet malty taste up front, balanced by citrusy hops. Hard to tell that its ABV is 8%; could sneak up on you if you’re not careful!

I really enjoyed the Abbey Ale. This dubbel reminds me a lot of La Roja from Jolly Pumpkin. Sweet malty taste with hints of peppery spices & dark fruit. Like the Andygator, it goes down really smooth for a beer with an 8% ABV.

My compliments to the brewery by the bayou.

Beer Review:

Abita Andygator; Abita Brewing Co.; Abita Springs, LA; Helles Dopplebock; ABV: 8.0. An easy drinking dopple. Sweet malty taste up front is balanced by citrusy hops.

Abita Abbey Ale; Abita Brewing Co.; Abita Springs, LA; Dubbel; ABV: 8.0. Like the Andygator, it goes down really smooth for a beer with an 8% ABV. Sweet malty taste with hints of peppery spices & dark fruit.

Abita Purple Haze; Abita Brewing Co.; Abita Springs, LA; Hefeweizen; ABV: 4.2. Easy drinking hefe. The crisp wheat taste is well balanced by a light raspberry finish.

Dear Abbey

May 6th, 2009 Bill Zavorskas No comments

Definitely a beer to write home about

Definitely a beer to write home about

It’s been a while since I had the Ommegang Abbey Ale, so I stopped by my local Total Wine & More to pick up a bottle. This is one of the best dubbels around; it more than holds its own with such Belgiums as Chimay Première (Red), Trappist Westvleteren 8, & St. Bernardus Prior 8.

It’s a very smooth & full bodied dubbel, and the alcohol is not very apparent despite its 8.5% ABV. A nice hint of caramel up front, well balanced by dark tarty fruit & peppery spices. There’s even a buttery feel to the taste, with a dry, slightly bitter aftertaste.

As noted in earlier posts, Ommegang brews other great Belgiums such as Three Philosophers & Rare Vos. I strongly recommend them to anyone who is curious about trying well crafted Belgium style beers.

Beer Review:

Ommegang (Abbey Ale); Brewery Ommegang; Cooperstown, NY; Dubbel; ABV: 8.5. A smooth, full bodied dubbel. Hints of caramel, dark tarty fruit, & peppery spices, with a buttery feel and a dry, slightly bitter aftertaste.

Ales Well

April 20th, 2009 Bill Zavorskas No comments

Beer & Biryani

Beer & Biryani at Chutney's

Anne & I went to Chutney’s the other night. Owned by husband-and-wife team Ash Shukla and Denise May, it’s the best Indian restaurant in Sarasota and has an excellent beer selection as well. I ordered an Affligem Dubbel (Brouwerij Affligem; Opwijk, Belgium; Dubbel; ABV: 7.0). It’s a full-bodied Belgium ale that’s as smooth as silk. Sweet & malty with hints of dark fruit. It complimented the lamb stew that I had as the main course.

I’ve been on a bit of a Belgium & Artisan ale kick the last week or so. In addition to the Affligem, recent beers included the following:

La Roja Artisan Amber Ale; Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales; Dexter, MI; American Wild Ale; ABV: 7.2. Aged in oak barrels, this is a smooth amber ale with hints of caramel, spices, & sour fruit.

Rare Vos (Amber Ale); Brewery Ommegang; Cooperstown, NY; Belgian Dark Ale; ABV: 6.5. A smooth drinking Belgian from the brewery that brought us Three Philosophers & Ommegang Abbey Ale. Spicy hoppiness balanced by orange citrus & sweet caramel.

Chimay Première (Red); Bières de Chimay (Abbaye Notre Dame de Scourmont); Baileux (Chimay), Belgium; Dubbel; ABV: 7.0. Sweet malty taste balanced with hints of dark fruit & spices.

St. Armand French Country Ale; Brasserie Castelain; Benifontaine, France; French Farmhouse Ale; ABV: 5.7. Not quite as strong as the Belgiums, but very smooth with an array of light chocolate, dark fruit, & spices.

I highly recommend each of these ales, and several of them will pop up on a future update of my favorite beers list.

Chutney's Etc on Urbanspoon

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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Round Midnight

March 27th, 2009 Bill Zavorskas No comments

Thelonious Monk was one of the greatest, most influential musicians in the history of jazz. His cool, improvisational style complimented his cutting edge approach to the piano. Considered by many to be one of the founding fathers of bebop, Monk’s music evolved from this initial form and touched upon most genres of music.

So I was curious when I stopped by my local Total Wine & More, and saw a bottle of North Coast’s Brother Thelonious Belgian Style Abbey Ale. I’m a big fan of dubbels, and have enjoyed other beers crafted by this brewery, such as Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout & Ruedrich’s Red Seal Ale.

Straight No Chaser is the way I drank it. The taste is full bodied, with sour cherry up front balanced by sweet malt & raisins, with only a slight bitterness at the end. Smooth jazz in a dubbel.

It’s worth noting that North Coast makes a contribution to the Monk Institute of Jazz for each case sold, and featured this beer at the Monterey Jazz Festival.

Beer Review:

Brother Thelonious Belgian Style Abbey Ale; North Coast Brewing Co.; Fort Bragg, CA; Dubbel; ABV: 9.4. The taste is full bodied, with sour cherry up front balanced by sweet malt & raisins, with only a slight bitterness at the end.