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Epic Beer Night

December 9th, 2010 Bill Zavorskas 2 comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blues Brew

September 2nd, 2010 Bill Zavorskas No comments

Bitches Brew hit the high notes

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

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

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

What Brews Naturally

August 19th, 2010 Bill Zavorskas No comments

You won't say Nevermore to Raven's Eye

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

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

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

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

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

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

50 Ways To Get A T-Shirt

January 25th, 2010 Bill Zavorskas No comments

Welcome to the club...a well earned tee

Anne & I watched the Colts-Jets AFC Championship game at World of Beer yesterday. I had drank 49 different beers since WOB opened in October of last year, and needed 1 more to join the 50 Beer Club and get a free t-shirt.

I decided on a pint of the classic Anchor Steam Beer (Anchor Brewing Co.; San Francisco, CA; Steam Beer; ABV: 4.9). Steam was one of the first craft beers that I’d tried way back when, so I thought it was fitting to make it the one to put me over the top. It has a crisp, clean taste with a nice balance of caramel malt and light citrusy hops. At an ABV of just under 5%, this is a very drinkable session beer.

Once I received the t-shirt from Brogan and congratulations from the WOB staff, it was time to start on the next 50 (100 = another t-shirt & mug; 250 = a plaque on their wall; 500 = a party in my honor with a $250 bar tab). So I went with 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.

Congratulations to the Colts as they try for their 2nd Super Bowl Title in four years, and to the Saints making the Super Bowl for the 1st time in their 43-year history.

Come In From The Cold

January 9th, 2010 Bill Zavorskas No comments

Lots of people could use a winter warmer

Lots of people could use a winter warmer

Baby it’s cold outside! The whole country is buried in a deep freeze. Even here in The Sunshine State, it’s been below freezing during the evenings. I’ve actually had to scrap ice over my windshield a couple of mornings this week! Sounds like we could all use a winter warmer.

Warmer Winter Winter Warmer (Cigar City Brewing; Tampa, FL; Old Ale; ABV: 10.0) is an excellent old ale from the outstanding brewery Cigar City. There’s a hint of tobacco up front, although it’s not as potent as their wonderfully eclectic Cigar City 110K+OT Batch #2 (Cigar City Brewing; Tampa, FL; Russian Imperial Stout; ABV: 11.5). This is followed by an array of chocolate, caramel malt, sweet fruit, and cinnamon spices with a slightly bitter finish. The 10% ABV should warm you up rather quickly!

Prelude Special Ale (Shipyard Brewing Co.; Portland, ME; Winter Warmer; ABV: 6.8) is a lighter alternative to Warmer Winter. There’s a nice chocolate malt flavor to start, complimented by hints of butterscotch, sweet caramel, and cinnamon spices with a piney hops aftertaste. Prelude is a very drinkable beer, and the nearly 7% alcohol content isn’t that noticeable.

I highly recommend both of these ales, and hope that everyone stays warm until this cold snap finally ends.

Spin The Wheel

November 15th, 2009 Bill Zavorskas No comments

Stone has brewed one truly Epic ale

Stone has brewed one truly Epic ale

There’s an old saying that to win at roulette, you should always bet on black. And there were several dark beers that I tried over the past week that are winners in their own right.

Stone 09.09.09 Vertical Epic Ale (Stone Brewing Co.; Escondido, CA; Belgian Strong Dark Ale; ABV: 8.6) is 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. The ABV of nearly 9% isn’t very noticeable either, so this ale can definitely sneak up on you. Quite frankly, I like it even better than Chimay Grande Réserve (Blue), and compare it favorably to another outstanding Belgium, Gulden Draak Dark Triple (Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.; Ertvelde, Belgium; Belgian Strong Dark Ale; ABV: 10.5). Kudos to Stone for brewing this excellent ale.

Oskar Blues Ten FIDY (Oskar Blues Grill & Brewery; Lyons, CO; Russian Imperial Stout; ABV: 10.0) has been getting a lot of hype recently, and since I’m a fan of the brewery, it made sense to give this beer a try. I’m pleased to report that this is an excellent stout, with a big bold presence. The taste is an array of milk chocolate, coffee, dark fruit, and roasted malt. Comparable to other outstanding imperial stouts such as Brooklyn Black Ops, Ten Fidy is definitely a beer to be savored.

Keweenaw Widow Maker Black Ale (Keweenaw Brewing Co.; Houghton, MI; Schwarzbier; ABV: 5.2) turned out to be a pleasant surprise. This schwarzbier is quite smooth and very drinkable, with the light chocolate taste balanced by hints of roasted malt, toffee, dark fruit, & nuts. This ale can definitely be a session beer, as it’s a lighter alternative to such outstanding schwarzbiers as Sprecher Black Bavarian.

Last but not least, I asked Tim, the bartender at WOB, to make me a Black Death. A fusion of Guinness Extra Stout & Rogue Dead Guy Ale, this combination was first made famous at The Flying Saucer. Needless to say, it was as good as advertised, and highly recommended.

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.