Category Archives: Breweries and Beers

Breweries and Beers Worthy of Discussion

Upslope!

Having an Imperial IPA from Upslope. Don’t let the plain, non-descript labels fool you, Upslope’s beers are delicious!

Tonight I had the imperial IPA. I found it to be delicious, and I really appreciate that they spent the extra money to provide it in cans. Here’s the text of my review from beeradvocate.com (overall rating 4.19/5, which is an excellent rating for any beer, and a rating I certainly don’t give out at the drop of a hat).

look: 3.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A nice two finger head that left pretty good lacing topped an orange-tan beer that was clear and had a few rising bubbles.

Aroma and flavor are quite nice, especially aroma, tons of sticky oily hops penetrate your nose like a fiery hop candle. The flavors are bold, but a bit more subdued than the aroma, with a somewhat hoppy skewed, yet balanced big beer. The hops have both soft fruity and sharp, resinous citric qualities. There’s a bit of dank that accompanies the flavorful malt backbone of the beer, along with notable spiciness.

Body is medium and sticky with resinous hops and a bitter finish. Carbonation is on the money for what I would personally want, given the rest of the beer’s qualities.

The flavors and aromas are complex, and Upslope has once again impressed me with their beer. Keep up the good work, and I’ll keep buying your beer.

And I do like that it comes in cans. Mind you I either use commercial bottles for homebrew, or recycle. But for the general public, and the overall good of the planet, cans are very easy to recycle, are very good at keeping beer fresh, and are easier to store or transport than bottles. So for this reason, I am very hoppy that Upslope decided to invest in canning technology and infrastructure for their brewery.

Great Job! ūüėČ

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1000th Beer Review

Posted my 1000th commercial beer review today. ¬†Decided to go to Freetail Brewing and have some on-tap beer goodness and a pizza to commemorate the occasion. The beer I chose for the occasion was Freetail’s Chipotle Porter.

Flavor and Aroma notes:

Aroma is just a touch of pepper, but lots of roasty, dark malt goodness. Flavor is heavily weighted towards the peppers, it’s pretty spicy and might be a bit more than some beer drinkers would prefer. The staff will be quite forward about it tho, ask for a sample.

Body is medium and leaves a lingering pepper heat.

Overall: Very porter like in appearance and aroma. More pepper-beer like in taste.

Now as pepper beers go, this is a fine one. There’s a good strong pepper presence, with a good little touch of heat. Spicy! But very enjoyable! And the pizza was damn good too!

Yakked with the staff and one of the brewers for a while too. Picked up an Old Bat Rastard for my buddy, and for my self. Great job on making great beer Freetail!

Queen’s Limited Release Wheatwine from Texas Big Beer

I knew Texas Big Beer had another beer coming out soon, and now it’s out.¬† And it’s gooooood!¬† Very nice, a tasty wheatwine/barleywine hybrid, but it’s really more of a wheatwine.¬† And it’s a big, topping off at 11.39% ABV.¬†

It pours an orange, almost red color, kind of a deep amber.¬† The head and lacing weren’t that impressive, but there’s ample carbonation, giving it a creamy mouthfeel that’s almost chewy.¬†

Aroma is this one’s strong point, with a great fruity, floral treat for your nose.¬† Flavor begins with a solid malt/wheat backbone, a good balancing dose of very floral hops, and plentiful fruitiness.¬†

Very enjoyable, hats off to Texas Big Beer once again.¬† I can’t wait to try their new IPA that’s coming out!

Queen’s Wheatwine

 

Texas Big Beer Brewery, part 2

I found the first bottle of porter so tasty, I figured I would try the other three types of Texas Big Beer Brewery beers that were available.  Yes, even the scotch ale!  A link to all their beers is here.

I’ll start with the Working Stiff Ale.

Excellent appearance, it was tannish with some orange tint,  a smidge hazy, had plenty of rising bubbles, and had a great sturdy off white head that left a great cap and plenty of sticky lacing.

Aroma is somewhat malty with a good bit of bitterness, not a ton of overly distinct particular hops aromas, but still a notable degree of hops aroma.¬† The flavor follows right along, being fairly malt forward, but with a crisp and pronounced bitterness.¬† I like it, I don’t really want tons of mango, pine, citrus etc when I drink an ESB, I just want a good solid bitterness and a solid malt body.¬† This beer delivers.

The drinkability is pretty high, medium body with a crisp but bitter finish, and a little lingering dry maltiness.

I like it.¬† Tasty and delicious, interesting and different.¬† This is my second of four from this brewery, and so far I’m very happy to have another good brewery that’s pretty local.¬† Definitely try it.

Seriously, the working stiff is some damn fine beer. ¬†I wrote part of this post shortly after I wrote the first one, as I wanted to try some more of their beers as soon as I could. ¬†The working stiff was my second of Texas Big Beer’s brews, and as I finish this blog off, I’m having yet another working stiff ale! ¬†A very fine beer indeed, especially ¬†considering how few ESBs are out there in the US.

The Big Texas Blonde Ale was another really interesting beer. ¬†It really does retain quite a bit of the characteristics of a blonde ale, despite the high ABV. ¬†It’s listed as a Belgian strong pale ale on beer advocate, but it doesn’t really have the same characteristics of those beers, it’s more, well, “blonde,” with less of the pronounced yeasty and spicy flavors of Belgians, and more of the refreshing and light flavors of a blonde ale. ¬†Hard to think of something 10.5% as light or refreshing, but that’s part of the charm of this beer, the fact that it’s somewhat of a paradox in a bottle. ¬†I will certainly be drinking this one again too!

And finally, the Scotch ale, Renaissance Cowboy. ¬†I am not a big fan of this style in general, Scotch ales just don’t do it for me. ¬†However, on the recommendation of several people, I went ahead and tried it. ¬†Excellent! ¬†Probably the best example of this style that I’ve ever had. ¬†There’s enough of a solid, even pronounced bitterness to balance out the sweetness and brown sugary flavors (usually Scotch ales aren’t balanced enough in this respect for my taste). ¬†And it’s not¬†carbonated to such a low degree that it’s nearly-flat, a flaw (IMO) that many Scotch ales have. ¬†This one has enough carbonation to keep me interested. ¬†I found it somewhat barleywine-like (a style I generally much prefer over Scotch ales). ¬†So even with a style that I’m not especially fond of, Texas Big Beer kept me interested. ¬†That’s pretty cool.

Cheers!

Texas Big Beer Brewery – Texas Crude

Stopped at a different liquor store than I usually go to, looking for a sixer or a bomber of something interesting or new. ¬†Turns out this place had beer from a company that I haven’t heard of before, Texas Big Beer Company. ¬†I must say that on the main page of their website, I see this, and I quote:

We are passionate about our beer. All of our beers are Big in Flavor and Style. We love High Alcohol beers, but love Flavor and Style more. We, just brew beer we love and share it.

Our¬†Big Texas Blonde is our ‚ÄúLight Beer‚ÄĚ (with tongue in cheek) The law states a light beer is light in color, so our light beer is 10.55% ABV¬†(ROTFLMAO)

I gotta say that I like them already!

The guy behind the counter said that their store just got in four different beers from this brewery, and that they had done a tasting with all of them. ¬†He said he liked them all, even the blonde, which is a style that he normally doesn’t care for. ¬†I saw the blonde, the porter, the working man’s stiff ale, which is an ESB, and renaissance ale, which is a Scotch ale. ¬†At first I had selected the Scotch ale, but that was because I couldn’t quite read the label in that lighting (I’m slowly losing my ability to read things up close, a typical effect of aging, LOL). ¬†I decided against the scotch ale because I’m not a real big fan of scotch ales. ¬†Had I realized that there was an ESB, I would have chosen that one for sure. ¬†I’ll have to go back for it tomorrow. ¬†So anyway, I picked up a bomber of the porter, which I will review shortly.

Price wise, I was more than willing to give this new brewery a shot. ¬†They were all either $4.99 or $6.79 (or something close to that). ¬†When you’re in the mood for a bomber of something new, these are very reasonable prices. ¬†I’m far less likely to try a $10 or $12 bomber than I am a five or seven dollar one! ¬†Now of course style plays a role (big stouts and IIPAs are often more expensive), but still, the price was right, so sold!

Numbers wise, the specs for this beer are as follows:

ABV: 7.00%
OG: 1.072
FG: 1.017
IBU: 59
SRM:¬†31.71¬į¬Ī

So let’s have a taste!

Appearance was something a bit more like an imperial stout than a porter, although I’m not sure how much that is really going to matter here. The color is jet black without room between any two molecules of inky blackness for light to pass through. The head was about a half a finger and was lightly brown, but didn’t last too long. There was ample lacing in thin sheets as the head went down.

The aroma was initially roasty, with a little burnt malt as an accent, and some subtle dark fruit notes. There was also some sweetness, brown sugar and molasses come to mind.

I think the taste was considerably more bold than the aroma. There’s a real nice dark malt and roasty malt component that’s up front, with side notes of coffee, chocolate, and just a tinge of burnt malt character. Sweetness is also a major component of the flavor, with a real nice brown sugar component, with a touch of blackstrap molasses as an accent. My take is that the chocolate component is more of a milk chocolate one than a dark chocolate one, and I don’t taste much of the semi-sweet baker’s chocolate flavors that I sometimes get from stouts or robust porters.

I rather like the mouthfeel. It’s not real heavy or thick, but isn’t overly watery or too thin either. The medium mouthfeel is well suited for this beer’s flavor and alcohol profile. And by the way, I really can’t taste or smell any alcohol in this beer.

My overall impression is that this is a fine porter, and having tried it, I want to try more beers from this brewery.

The bottom line is that a local brewery has produced a fine and tasty beer which is available for sale in my local area stores (at a reasonable price too!). Anytime someone can buy local beers from local breweries, it’s a good day for us all. Support local breweries and businesses. For me that means picking up another variety of Big Texas Beers next time I’m near the liquor store. ¬†I think I’ll pick up the blonde and the working man’s stiff ESB. ¬†I might still try the scotch ale (if I can get into the mood for a scotch ale, lol, it’s just not a style that I’m real crazy about).

Cheers to Big Texas Beers, I hope your brewery is a big success! ¬†And Keep ’em coming, I’m always looking for new beers and new breweries!

Bigfoot Found!

It’s true!!¬† Bigfoot found!!

Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Ale 2013 is in my local grocery store, and I picked up a four pack.¬† Such an amazing brew!¬† This is the definition of barleywine if you ask me.¬† Although a bit hoppier than most barleywines, I haven’t found one that I like more.¬† Well, Dogfish Head Olde School is pretty damn awesome too, but that one is kind of a different beast: it’s got way more alcohol, for one thing, and isn’t comparable to bigfoot ale.¬† Although both brews are fantastic, this post is about Sierra Nevada’s Bigfoot ale, so we’ll stick to that!

I’m going to post my original review from more than a year ago, along with my edits for this year’s vintage:

Bigfoot!

Downright gorgeous to look at, deep amber with copper notes, clear, with a great 3 finger head that lasted forever and laced the glass with sticky chunks.

More like an IPA in the nose, hops are dominant and the typical barleywine smells are secondary. Piney and even grapefruit hops are pungent. A little caramel malt and a little fruitiness provide something other than hops as a side note.

Taste is bold and again, very hoppy. Tastes more like a barleywine than it smells, but still, this one is quite a bit like a DIPA in the taste department. The hop profile is just dominant as hell, this fact cannot be hidden. Fruity and caramel malt flavors do balance out the taste more so than the smell though, and overall it’s quite nice!

The body is thick and tangy but the alcohol is surprisingly well hidden. The hops even leave a bit of a bite on the aftertaste.

Honestly, this is a fine barleywine, albeit a lot hoppier and a bit different than I’m used to when I buy a barleywine. I really like this stuff. I can’t wait to see how it mellows. I’ve put a bottle away for a year, and another for two years, will re-try it again next march (and the one after that) and report back.

I really like trying new beers, and I hadn’t had this one yet. Overall I’d list it as “must try” Excellent job, SN!

Edit for 2013: once again, they nailed it.¬† The original review is more than a year old, but now I’ve had 5 different years of vintages, both aged, and for the more recent years, fresh.¬† Every time it’s just fantastic!¬† Gold standard of barleywines.¬† Monstrous hops and tons of delicious malts, one of my favorite beers anytime, from any brewery.¬† If I decide to try and brew a barleywine, it will be based on this!

Cheers to Sierra Nevada for 2013 Bigfoot Ale!

 

Bigfoot Found!

Freetail Brewery IPAs

Was working on a deck over on that side of town, and stopped at Freetail Brewery to see what bombers they had for takeout.¬† There were four bombers available, and I didn’t know what any of them were all about, nor did I have the time to read about it or discuss it with the staff.¬† So I picked the two IPA type beers to try later that day.

Two days later, we finished the job early, so we went to Freetail for lunch and a couple of beers.¬† I saw that there was a third IPA in bombers for takeout, so I picked that one up too.¬† I guess it’s Freetail “IPA week” for me!¬† I’ll post the review of Soul Doubt IPA below.

The other two IPAs I picked up:

Velocihoptor (what a great name for an IPA!).

Buffalo Hump 1840 Belgian IPA

In addition, I had another round of Spirulina Wit, a delicious rye witbier with spirulina added to give it a wonderful and deliciously strange green color!¬† At 3.9% ABV, it’s damn easy to drink, and I could easily have several of these in a sitting.

I also tried Uglie Ollie Stout, a delicious dry Irish stout that’s full bodied, but only 4.1% ABV.¬† These two brews made a nice lunch (along with some delicious pizza from their food menu).

I am going to try to make it there this Saturday for the “battle of the wits” where they’ll have various varieties of their witbier for your drinking pleasure!

Cheers to Freetail!

 Soul Doubt IPA

Pours a nice amber to copper color, mostly clear, with a creamy head that left about a 1/4″ sheet of dense foam capped on top the whole way down, leaving sheets of nice sticky resinous lacing.

The aroma doesn’t blow me out of the water, by any means. It’s somewhat subdued, but I get Cara-Munich malt first, then some herbal, earthy hops.

Flavors much follow the aroma, but they stand out more, and leave me wondering why I don’t make it out to freetail more often! The Cara-Munich and aromatic malts (along with whatever crystal malts they used) make a great base, and an unusual one for an IPA. I like the innovation! It’s well hopped, but balanced very well with the moderate ABV and bold malty backbone. There’s a little citrus, but I am getting mostly heavily earthy and lightly floral or grassy hop flavors.

This IPA is very unusual, and very likeable. Just don’t expect to be getting a standard west coast 47 lbs of hops per five gallons type of IPA. This beer is well crafted and delicious, but it’s not Pliny the Younger or Heady Topper.

Cheers to Freetail brewery for this brew!

Real Ale Brewing Company, Blanco Texas

I’ve been steadily trying different beers from Real Ale Brewing Company (often referred to by beer geeks as RABC).¬†¬† So far, I’ve found they make great beer!¬† In fact I’ve liked every beer I’ve tried from them, and hope to try more!

This brewery is right up there with America’s top craft breweries in their quality of beer.¬† They make flavorful beers, often plentifully hopped, and even seem to be setting a few trends (like with their four-squared, a blonde ale ramped up with lots of extra hops and more malts).

Their Brewer’s Cut series has been interesting.¬† The latest two are Altbier and Blonde Barleywine.¬† I really like the Altbier, it’s plentifully malty with enough hops for balance, making a really enjoyable Altbier (not a style we see a lot of). The blonde barleywine is a strange one, but it’s quite enjoyable if you’re a barleywine drinker (don’t think it’s a blonde ale, it’s over 9%!).¬† Kind of like a barleywine mixed with a blonde ale, but mostly it’s still a barleywine.¬† I applaud them for trying new and different things!

Here are some other of their past Brewer’s Cut projects:

I particularly liked the Signature Hop Pale Ale, and the Imperial Red.¬† I wish they’d just make the Signature Hop Pale Ale a regular offering, or at the very least, a seasonal.¬† Can’t wait to see what they come up with next!

Value-wise I’ve found their beers to be spot-on.¬† The prices are reasonable and the quality high.¬† This is real American craft beer, not some Podunk bunch of amateurs.

Their annual anniversary party was quite large, and I appreciate the free beers I got from them!¬† More importantly, I appreciate being able to get high quality, reasonably priced craft beer that’s made locally.

Stuff I’d like to see from them, should they be so inclined to brew it…

  • Double IPA
  • American Stout or Milk Stout (about 6% ABV)
  • Sessionable “Bitter” or “ESB”
  • Anything fruity

Anyway, don’t be afraid to try some RABC brews, they’re delicious!

Altbier

 

Boulevard! Harvest Dance Wheatwine

Boulevard Brewing, from Kansas City, is some awesome stuff!¬† Today I’m having one of their smokestack series, Harvest Dance Wheatwine.¬† I love this stuff!¬† Wheatwine isn’t a very common style, and I think I’ve only actually ever had a few examples of the style.¬† But the ones I’ve had are delicious!¬† Especially this one!

http://www.boulevard.com/BoulevardBeers/harvest-dance-wheat-wine/

A very delicious beer indeed.

Wheatwine pours a beautiful orange-ish tan color, just a little hazy, with a wonderful white head that lasts forever and leaves great lacing.

Fruity and spicy on the nose and taste, with great citrus and floral components as well.¬† Hops aren’t real forward, nor should they be for this style, but they’re pleasantly accenting of the taste and aroma.¬† Honestly, the commercial description pretty much describes the beer perfectly:

John Barleycorn is memorialized in English folk tradition as the personification of the barley plant, sacrificed at harvest time and then reborn as beer or ale. Our Harvest Dance Wheat Wine is a celebration of John’s Midwestern cousin, wheat. Beginning with a large portion of wheat malt, we add an equally generous helping of Hallertau and Citra hops and age the ale on both French and American oak. The result is a big, warming burst of tropical fruit flavors, highlighted by subtle wine-like notes, and rounding slowly to a long, dry, oaky finish.

I am not one to take anyone at their word on what I should think of a beer without trying it myself, but this description is pretty accurate (and I’ve had this beer multiple times).¬† Boulevard isn’t blowing their own horn on this one, this beer actually is really good!

Citra hops, eh?¬† I just brewed with them for the first time today.¬† Haven’t tasted the results yet.¬† My next blog will chronicle the event (it was an odd brew day, fittingly for citra, which has so much myth and hype around it, lol).

Why not toss in a nice bit of music to listen to whilst enjoying this delicious beer?

If you like wheatwine, or if you’re just a fan of great beer, you should try this beer!

Pike Brewing XXXXX Stout

All those x’s should give me some really oddball hits on this blog, LOL!

But we’re talking about Pike Brewery’s XXXXX Extra stout, a very delicious beer that’s in my glass right now!¬† Sorry to disappoint if your search engine was searching for something else!

This is about the third or fourth of Pike’s brews that I’ve tried.¬† I keep trying them because they are good beers.¬† I really like this one, it’s (perhaps) the best of the Pike beers I’ve tried so far.¬† Albeit that’s not a lot of beers, but I just discovered them, and plan to try more of their beers soon!

Pike XXXXX Extra Stout

Black as night with a good tannish-brown head and good lacing.

Aroma is roasty and a little burnt with nice coffee and chocolate notes.

Flavor follows through with the nose, maybe with a touche of anise (but it’s subtle).¬† The chocolate and coffee are a bit more pronounced, leaving a slightly cappuccino effect for the imbiber.

Body is full, thick, rich, and leaves a wonderful slightly roasted, slightly burnt aftertaste that I really enjoy in a stout.

Definitely recommended.¬† I’ll for sure buy this one again.¬† It wasn’t even very expensive, so it’s a great value (I can’t remember the exact price, but it was very reasonable).¬† A very nice stout you should definitely try if you’re a stout lover.

Pike XXXXX Extra Stout

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