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Archive for May, 2009

Although we would like to think that our preferences in cars, books, music, beer, etc… etc…  are the result of our own deep seeded tastes, beliefs, and values the reality is nearly all of those preferences are the results of Marketing!  I for one am thankful for the contributions Marketing has made to my life.  Because of Marketing I enjoyed the pleasures of my first beer that was not brewed by the Anhueser Busch Company.  Thank you Marketing for opening my eyes to the incredibly diverse world of beer.  Below is the commercial that change my life!

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Luckily, as the cold rain set in yesterday, I had just restocked the fridge with  my  Beer of the Month Club   allotment. This is a grand club, beats Book of The Month all hollow, no long term storage problem and renewable adventures to boot. I had puttered inside the house all day, slipping out into the driveway every so often scoping out whether the weather would break enough to get some outside work done. To no avail, alas, so as evening settled I reached for an adventure in a bottle. There was  Lion Stout cooling its heels alongside three other offerings. 

IMG_3241As soon as the cap came off, an intense dark chocolate, fudge, mocoa aroma spilled into the room. I do not usually lead with my nose on such things but this filled the air. Then the pivotal sip and multiple tastes of darkness and stoutness swam in my mouth. The 8%ABV tingled around the edges just enough to give fair warning. This stout reminds me of a slightly weaker cousin of Southern Tier Chocolate Sout. Definitely a tasty brew that brings more flavor out as it warms in the glass.

This noble brew came from Sri Lanka no less, a product of the colonial days and concocted by a Britisher to satisfy the home boys who were managing the Empire. Their web site is under construction so it is unclear if this brew is available in the US. Regardless, it is a quality chocolate-like stout, on the sweet side, smooth,with undertones of the alcohol just enough to enhance the taste. Not bad at all but if I had a choice I’d take the Southern Tier relative, Imperial Chocolate Stout, to satisfy that type of chocolate and stout craving.

Oh, by the way, I caught, on what remains of Lion Beer website, that they manage Carlsberg! On of my earlier beer experiences as noted in another post.

Post Script: Lion Brewery Beers are carried by Elite Brands in Michigan, a distributor of tons of beer and wine from all over. Check it out.

HaveAnother

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SmuttyIPASmuttynose IPA has character… its own character. The bitters come with the first sip from the glass and grow in your mouth. This is the taste of my youth in mega dose. After a mouthful has drifted down into the internal plumbing the taste in the mouth holds the hops, a dryness that begs for another draught of the good stuff. Take a long pull and enjoy the rush of flavor, then the astringent aftertaste.

This IPA is akin to  Extra Special Bitters. A much more hoppy ale than Harpoon’s, which is pretty much the standard in our minds for regular IPA. I qualify with “regular” because the Big Brews/Imperials have some real rocket fuel versions that fit in another class.

Smuttynose Brewery is one of a dozen or so New Hampshire craft breweries (excluding of course the mega brewery Budweiser in Merrimack). It takes its name from an island off the NH/Maine coast about ten nautical miles from Portsmouth. This is the ale of the oldtime longliners in their schooners off the Isles of Shoals. It is the ale of the lobsterman among the rocky shoreline coves. It is the brew of the dorymen bent to the oars with a load of cod. It is the “finestkind”, “ayuh”, “fawe shuah”.

Excuse me while I fill up the glass with another. One is never enough of this class act brew.

HaveAnother

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A marketer by trade, I like the novelty of having a truly GREAT tasting brew being packaged in a can!  Here is a short video about the Oskar Blues Brewery and their decision to go with cans.  Enjoy!

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GORDONYES, YES, YES!  Not only have I been on a canned beer kick I am focusing on Oskar Blues Brewery LLC brews!!! And I make NO APOLOGIES!!!  Today I pulled the tab on a GORDON. Ale.  GORDON. Ale is brewed in honor of Gordon Knight, on the back of the can is printed “If you knew Gordon Knight, this ale needs no explanation.  If you didn’t, we’re sorry.” for the full story on Gordon knight click HERE.

I never had the pleasure of knowing Gordon BUT if this brew captures even 10% of his character then I would have been humbled to sit on the front porch on a late spring evening and crack open a deliciously cold brew with him.  I imagine a man full of life, humble but not soft spoken, a man who does not have opinions but PASSIONS!

Oskar Blues Brewery LLC has made a fine ale in the name of GORDON.  This brew is a deliciously crisp red/amber color with an aroma of fresh cut flowers and grass.  This ale strikes the perfect balance between “Bitter Hoppiness” and “Creamy Smooth”.  My only compaint (and believe me it is a small one) would be tha the color is just a little to “crystal clear” for a beer with so much flavor and body!  This beer goes down almost too easily!  Better buy  two or even three 4-packs.

When it comes to bright, amber ales, GORDON. is one ale that truly passes muster.  I think I have found a new “Old Favorite”.  Drink half a can and I am sure you will agree!

HaveAnother

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olde-school-barleywineThis Dogfish Head brew is, or should be, the flagship of the brewery. Olde School: A Barley Wine Style Ale packs an intense whalop with 15% ABV. The cunning of the drink is that the smoothness and drinkability hide the impact of the alcohol. Drinker beware!

My first experience with Olde School came on an evening of much beer tasting – the great Christmas Eve beer tasting. Some where around midnight we reached for a new brew -the Olde School- and started in with much exclamation on its complex character, multiple tastes and utter enjoyment. It was the standing up afterwards that betrayed the power of this sleeper of a strong ale.

Really, now that I understand this barley wine I enjoy it even more. Prepare for a Sandeman Founders Reserve Porto and you will have the right perspective. Sip slowly, serve in a stemmed snifter and savor each mouthful. Great with cheese and crackers, after a hearty meal or as a stand alone. Share a bottle to start, although I know you will reach for another. It is that compelling a drink.

Like many high voltage Dogfish Head Occasional Rarities this barley wine ages very well tucked into the dark recesses of the basement until just the right moment arrives. Alas, I just finished the last bottle of the season and stare at the empty bottle in front of me on the table. Time to turn to lighter fare. The sun has climbed higher in the sky, the solstice is a scant month away. A shift to a bitter IPA is in order.

 

EC_StampHaveAnother

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DalesPaleAle

If you want to be WOW’d by an exceptionally smooth but surprisingly bitter pale ale I highly recommend Dale’s Pale Ale brewed by Oskar BluesBrewing LLC.  Pull the tab and forget the glass (pouring will simply waste time) and take a good long slug!  This ain’t like your daddy’s old can of beer (my dad’s favorite being Schlitz ).

The first thing I noticed aside from the phrases “Voluminously Hopped Mutha of a Pale Ale” and “Pack it in, pack it out”, an obvious hint to this brew’s Colorado roots (this beer is a hit with mountain bikers, hikers, and kayaks) was the incredible aroma.  This brew has a sweet slightly woody smell that is subtle enough to make even the most dyed-in-the-wool Schlitz drinker think “Mmmmmmm, beeeeeeeer…. Aghh-ghh-ghh”.  The hoppy bitterness is not over-powering and should be acceptable to even the most sensitive of pallets.  The after-taste can be a little harsh if you are not use to drinking truly hoppy pale ales.  But don’t let that scare you away.  The lingering hoppy after-taste can be complimented and reduced when paired with triscuits and a subtle soft French cheese or if you are like my dad, a handful of Smart Food popcorn.

Despite my comments above, I did in-fact pour this beer into a glass (I had some to spare since I bought 2 six-packs).  The color is a crisp auburn, just as a pale ale should be, and it maintains a substantially good head which is another good feature since you want the gases to escape through the head and not in the form of a belch from your gut!  All around this beer is a diamond in the rou…. er… eh… a diamond in a CAN and deserves our ‘Editor’s Choice’ designation!  Bravo Dale!!!

EC_StampHaveAnother

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I have had a lot of crazy ideas when drinking (usually in excess and  when I was much much younger) and I will admit to acting on a few of those ideas, the result of which was always 1. A bad hangover 2.  someone usually saying to me “You did <insert highly stupid act here> last night” 3.  Some part of my body requiring medical attention. 

I have no doubt that the creators of this Lego video love beer, and dare I say they were probably 2 or 3 bottles into a 12 pack when the idea struck them!  Why didn’t I ever think of anything like this?!

HaveAnother

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In mid December Beer Guy Jim pulled up to the garage and unloaded multiple boxes full of a wide selection of the finest brews he could acquire: Merry Christmas! My job was to revel in the bounty until Christmas Eve when the gathering of the clan began. Well, I practiced self control for a few days but my undoing was the fact the tops of the boxes were not closed. I browsed, nodding at some familiar fine labels. One evening as I started up the ramp to the kitchen my eye caught the Harpoon “H” on a bottle with a dark label I was not familiar with. Self control fled; I reached for the bottle neck and had it in the kitchen with the opener in my hand before I realized.

baltic_porter_4pkLeviathan Baltic Porter poured into the glass, a dark full porter. I took that first full sip. Wow! that was outstanding! This drink was such a dramatic surprise, rich, full taste, strong flavors, high abv (9.5%) but smooth and subtle, a real Baltic Porter. I finished this in short order, set the glass down on the counter and went to the garage to grab the rest of the four pack. None of these great brews made it ’til Christmas Eve!

But that is the prelude. A few days ago when I zipped up to Hannaford’s to grab that six pack of the “Black” as I mentioned in a previous post, I spied a lone four pack of the Leviathan sitting disheveled down on a low shelf amidst a jumble of ne’er do well beers. Automatically my hand latched onto it. This time a Leviathan Imperial IPA at 10% abv. This drink belongs right beside the Dogfish Head IPA’s, the 60 Minute and the 90 Minute both.

imperial_ipa_4pk

I think we beer guys here have a consensus that Harpoon IPA (the regular label version) is maybe the standard setter for IPA. This Leviathan model has the backbone of the regular Harpoon – the intensity of the hops as a constant throughout… start to finish – with deeper multiple tastes buried in this robust body. It is a strong ale that finishes very well. The last couple of ounces left in the glass as the conversation swirls and the cheese and crackers disappear is as tasty and true to the brew as the first powerful taste at the top of the glass.

Hats off to Harpoon on the series and their growing reputation around here for high quality brew. Harpoon IPA is in all the stores, now let’s start to see more of the Leviathan available. The one draw back to this big brew series is the price. Hannaford’s charges $10.50 (+/- a few cents) for a four pack. That makes it a specialty, not an everyday drink for sure.

EC_Stamp

HaveAnother

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So the other night Reb and I took the farm truck over to Windham, Maine to pick up a couple of young pigs (porcine critters – that is). That lumbering beast of a dump truck is hard as a cob on craggy roads, but we made it over and loaded her up for the trip home. Well, we just got underway when I had the need for a beer or two for the ride home. I might add as background, we make the trip generally with a full load of market hogs and drop them at the slaughter house, then I always stop, with relief, at the convenience store in North Windham to pick up a couple of brews and a bag of Doritos for the ride home. So, the old habit kicked in and I pulled almost automatically into the store lot. With the warm spring air, the sun still in the sky and a couple of little critters stretched out in the back I decided to snare a couple of Bud cans for the road. (I decided to forego the chips)bud5

I haven’t had a regular old Budweiser 12 oz can for years but it brought some memories of the old days (see previous post). I cracked the top and took a long pull on the ice cold drink. Ah! You know, that Bud has a real smooth quality when put down cold that way. One sip begs for another to follow. Before long that first can was history.

(vintage late 60’s can – note the bottom blurb “Tab Top”)

bud2I reached for the second and took my time. As I drank along, the beer began to warm and the quality dropped precipitously. Finally the last couple of ounces had a slightly skunked taste with a fuzzy after taste. Now I remember! that is the difference between the really good brews – they are good after sitting in the glass. In fact, like good quality cheese, the flavor comes through better after the first chill is gone. With Bud the opposite works. It has very good quality at cold temperatures but loses that strength as it warms. I admit, there are variables, and some very good beers are not that great, straight out of the can or bottle. But I argue, Bud is very good out of the can – if it is cold. Bud gains nothing in the glass, unless it’s on tap, but that is a story for another day.

(This old steel can needed a church key. Pre Tab Top.)

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