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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.

Solid Oak

May 25th, 2010 Bill Zavorskas 2 comments

Oak Aged Unearthly takes the original up a notch

I stopped by Mr. Beery’s for Happy Hour and to say hi to Mark and the gang. As it would turn out, several types of IPAs would showcase the evening.

We ended up kicking the Cigar City Jai Lai keg, and it was replaced on tap by 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 IPA takes it to the next level. It pours a deep amber color and the nose has 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.

Jai Lai and Oak Aged Unearthly would have made for a fine evening on their own, but Mark then broke out a couple of ales from his private stock.

Founders Centennial IPA (Founders Brewing Co.; Grand Rapids, MI; India Pale Ale; ABV: 7.2), like Oak Aged UnEarthly, is a silky smooth IPA. It pours a honey orange color with notes of citrusy and piny hops in the nose and taste. They’re complimented in the latter by sweet caramel and toasted malt with a nice clean finish. Like Oak Aged Unearthly, this ale turned out to be a big hit with everyone.

Nebraska Hop God (Nebraska Brewing Co.; Papillion, NE; Belgian India Pale Ale; ABV: 9.2) is an eclectic yet easy drinking Belgian IPA. Hop God pours a murky golden color with a citrusy presence throughout the nose and taste. Flavors of citrus fruit are backed by piny hops and spices with a slightly bitter finish. The ABV of 9.2% is somewhat noticeable, so Hop God won’t sneak up on you.

I highly recommend each of these ales, and thank Mark for his generosity.

Southern Migration

March 6th, 2010 Bill Zavorskas No comments

There was an Unearthly presence at WOB

Anne and I went to World of Beer last week, and were pleasantly surprised when Tony noted that they had Southern Tier beers on tap. I started with a pint of their superb Southern Tier Unearthly (Southern Tier Brewing Company; Lakewood, NY; Imperial India Pale Ale; ABV: 11.0), which I’ve praised continuously on this blog. Even Anne enjoyed this IPA, after trying a 5 oz. paddle of it. Drinking Unearthly on tap allows you to appreciate the full bodied taste, which is big citrusy hops balanced by sweet malt and light peppery spices.

For round two, I tried Southern Tier 422 Pale Wheat Ale (Southern Tier Brewing Co.; Lakewood, NY; American Pale Wheat Ale; ABV: 5.0) for the first time. As expected, it was a much lighter ale than Unearthly. 422 has a crisp clean taste, with the wheat flavor complimented by citrusy hops and toasted malt.

Not to be outdone, Mr. Beery’s put Unearthly on tap this week, along with Southern Tier Choklat (Southern Tier Brewing Co.; Lakewood, NY; Imperial Stout; ABV: 9.1) and Southern Tier Gemini (Southern Tier Brewing Co.; Lakewood, NY; Imperial India Pale Ale; ABV: 10.5). Choklat is a big flavorful stout, with the rich milk chocolate taste followed by hints of roasted malt and coffee. It’s been awhile since I’ve tried Gemini, so I’m looking forward to getting reacquainted with it. I’m curious to see how it compares to Unearthly.

I’m pleased to see that this brewery is now featured in Southwest Florida, and hope that its presence continues to expand.

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

Top Tier

January 30th, 2010 Bill Zavorskas 2 comments

Southern Tier will be among the headliners at Brewgrass

The 3rd Annual Bradenton Brewgrass Beer Festival will be held next Saturday, February 6, 2010. The event will feature live bands in addition to beer tasting. More than 50 breweries will be on hand, with several new ones appearing such as Goose Island, Victory Brewing, and Southern Tier.

I’m especially excited by Southern Tier, since they’re finally going to be distributed in Florida. This brewery makes my favorite pumpkin ale (Pumking) and quite possibly my favorite IPA (Unearthly). So I was excited when given the chance recently to try their Southern Tier Cuvée Series 2 (Southern Tier Brewing Co.; Lakewood, NY; American Strong Ale; ABV: 11.0).

Cuvee is a wonderfully eclectic ale. There’s an almost crème brûlée feel to it, and I would enjoy Cuvee as a dessert beer. The rich chocolate taste up front is complimented by molasses, roasted malt, spicy hops, and vanilla with a sweet caramel finish. Cuvee is aged in oak barrels, so there’s a hint of oakiness as well. This ale is very smooth considering its 11% ABV, so it’s one to be savored slowly.

For more information on Brewgrass, please see the following link: http://www.craftbeerexpo.org/

I hope to see you there!

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.

Planes, Trains & No Automobiles

August 13th, 2009 Bill Zavorskas No comments

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

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

while enjoying a panoramic view of the city skyline

while enjoying a panoramic view of the city skyline

Yours Truly drinking The Horror Belgian Stout at Elysian Fields

Yours Truly drinking The Horror Belgian Stout at Elysian Fields

Rogue Gallery: The brewpub in Portland

Rogue Gallery: The brewpub in Portland

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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