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Brewfari

August 9th, 2010 Bill Zavorskas 4 comments

I was in my natural habitat at Wazoo 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All in all, our brewfari was a total success!

Signed, Sealed, Delivered

September 13th, 2009 Bill Zavorskas No comments

Utopias is truly made to order

Utopias is truly made to order

The Internet is truly a wonderful thing. The world is literally at your fingertips, and there are lots of interesting things to see…and buy. Like beer, especially when they’re hard to find or not distributed in your area.

I decided to take advantage of this option when I ordered a bottle of Samuel Adams Utopias (Boston Beer Co.; Boston, MA; American Strong Ale; ABV: 27.0) from LaBodegaWine.com out of California. No longer the world’s strongest beer (Schorschbräu Schorschbock 31% from Germany now holds that honor), it is, nonetheless, the strongest offering available here in the USA.

Utopias has been classified as either an American Strong Ale or Barley Wine, but it feels more like a fine liquor such as cognac. The brewing process for this beer is extensive, and it shows in the look, smell, and complexity of its taste. The taste is extremely sweet, with cinnamon, vanilla, & maple flavors balanced by dark fruit, sweet caramel, chocolate, & nuts. It was everything that I’d hoped for and more.

There is also a noticeable difference between Utopias and other high ABV beers. Although I can drink a 12 ounce bottle of Dogfish 120 Minute IPA (Dogfish Head Craft Brewery; Milton, DE; Imperial India Pale Ale; ABV: 21.0) without breaking a sweat, Utopias is an entirely different animal. Anne & I were perfectly content to drink it in our 2 ounce snifters, as this is a beer that’s meant to be savored…slowly.

Boston Beer Co. puts out Utopias every 2 years, with the next edition due out this November. Rumor has it that the 2009 offering will exceed 30%; we will have to see.

LaBodegaWine.com offers a lot of excellent craft beers from West Coast breweries, such as Green Flash, Russian River, & Stone, in addition to fine wine & spirits. Additionally, there are several other sites worth noting:

BeerGeek.biz offers beer from such acclaimed breweries as New Belgium & Three Floyds. I tried my first beer from the latter, the interesting & complex Robert The Bruce Scottish Ale (Three Floyds Brewing Co.; Munster, IN; Scottish Ale; ABV: 7.0). While I enjoyed the array of chocolate, dark fruit, & roasted malt, I expected a wee bit more, considering that RateBeer ranked Three Floyds as the best brewery in the world!

Sam’s Wine & Spirits (samswine.com), based out of Chicago, offers craft beer from such breweries as Goose Island, Southern Tier, & Three Floyds.

The Wine Country (thewinecountry.com), based out of the LA area, offers craft beer from a wide variety of breweries nationwide, such as Jolly Pumpkin, in addition to West Coast brewers such as Green Flash & Mad River.

It’s important to note that while most states, such as Florida, allow the shipping of alcohol, others like Maryland do not. Please check the shipping policy of the online merchant that you’re ordering from.

Black Irish

March 23rd, 2009 Bill Zavorskas No comments

Made the rounds this past Tuesday in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. Plenty of corn beef & cabbage, “green” beer, etc. While the “wearing of the green” is the theme for this day, 2 beers with a black label stood out for me.

The first was Sprecher’s Black Bavarian, an excellent, very drinkable schwarzbier. A nice chocolate & roasted malt taste up front, with only a slightly bitter aftertaste. The second was Broughton’s Black Douglas Ale, a smooth & crisp tasting Scottish Ale. It had a sweet malty taste balanced by dark fruit & toasted nuts.

Tried another beer by Broughton, Merlin’s Ale, before calling it a night. I found it surprisingly light for an ESB, which tend to be more full bodied. Sweet fruit up front, with a hint of light hops & malt.

Beer Review:

Black Bavarian; Sprecher Brewing Co.; Glendale, WI; Schwarzbier; ABV: 5.9. A nice chocolate & roasted malt taste up front, with only a slightly bitter aftertaste.

Black Douglas Ale; Broughton Ales Ltd.; Broughton, Bigger, Scotland (UK); Scottish Ale; ABV: 5.2. Sweet malty taste balanced by dark fruit & toasted nuts.

Merlin’s Ale; Broughton Ales Ltd.; Broughton, Bigger, Scotland (UK); Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB); ABV: 4.2. Surprisingly light for an ESB.