Tag Archives: craft beer

E=mcbeer Motherf*ckers!

Gotta love the annual Schlafly April Fool’s Day jokes:

check out their other videos HERE.

Founder’s Kentucky Breakfast Stout (KBS): Only the 10th best beer in the world?

I need to get my hands on the other nine....

Kentucky Breakfast Stout
Founders Brewing
Imperial Stout
ABV: 11.2%
100% on RateBeer
10th Best in the World (Beer Advocate) (when I published this it was actually ranked 8th)

Like Girl Scout cookies, this beer comes once a year and the fervor and fanaticism with which it is met, far surpasses the Tag-Along and Thin Mint hardcores that adorn Walgreens entrances this time of year.  (STL was pretty much tapped the day it arrived.  Myself, I drove an hour roundtrip to get it)  In both cases, some of the frenzy is due to the product being a special release (a fact the Girl Scouts use to their advantage).  In the case of KBS, it truly is that good.

Kentucky Breakfast Stout is a stout brewed with coffee and chocolate and aged in a cave in bourbon barrels (hence the “Kentucky” of KBS) for a year.  One full year for all of the maltiness to develop and all of the competing flavors of chocolate and bourbon and hops to mellow.  One full year for the magic to work and the motor oil to fully mature.  One year to create a taste you won’t soon forget.

KBS comes in a four pack.  It is $18.99 and I spent the entire drive to Friar Tuck’s in Fenton deciding how to ration the (presumably) only four bottles I would be getting this season.  I decided that my wife and I would share one bottle when I got home.  We would then each get one bottle to drink at our own discretion (mine was consumed with my buddy Patrick while writing this review–yes I am that good of a friend).  And the last one I am “cellaring” for a year.  I never cellar my beers (I also played with ALL of my action figures), but I am curious to see what this beer will taste like in a year.

I love this beer, but it’s only true downfall (and it’s a biggie)  is that it does not, as the label points out offer relief “from rheumatism, neuralgia, sciatica, lame back, lumbago, contracted muscles, toothache, sprains, swellings, and all manner of distress.” If you’ve got anything else, though, I highly recommend it!

When we tasted the beer, Patrick and I jotted down a couple tasting notes.  Here’s what we came up with:

Tasting Notes:
It’s so good.
Balanced.
You can find the bourbon if you’re looking for it, but it’s not ultra present.
Coffee, vanilla, malt, dark chocolate as it warms.
Melted chocolate milkshake (in a good way)
70 IBU’s, but extremely balanced

Beer Snobs Unite!: The Lover’s Edition


For a little over a year now, my wife and I have been holding regular beer tasting

Pontificating

parties at our house.  We call the get-togethers Beer Snobs Unite!  The idea is not to get together and bash the macrobreweries or those who are not as enlightened as us (as the name might suggest), but to get together and celebrate the wide range of tastes and styles of beer…and of course to drink it.

Left Hand Milk Stout

The premise is that each month there is a theme (previous themes have been, Seasonals, Most Offensive/Humorous Name, Beers of Missouri, etc.) and each person brings a snack and a six pack (or equivalent thereof) and we taste each beer in turn.  The members are responsible for introducing their beer to the group (such introductions have ranged from summaries of wikipedia entries, reading directly from the six pack carrier, rate beer reviews… even food pairings), then we taste, comment (most of the time briefly) and move on to the next one.

This month, in honor of Valentine’s Day, the theme was a beer you love.  The

yin-yang

timing was wrong for me to get some Hopslam, so I chose the next best thing (from Bell’s that is):  Two Hearted Ale.  I actually didn’t particularly like this beer the first time I had it (way back when the only IPA I had ever had was O’Dell IPA).  Now I consider it my “go to beer” in most situations.  If there isn’t anything new to get or I just want a solid great tasting beer, I reach for the Two Hearted.  My wife, couldn’t be more opposite on the taste spectrum than me, but much like Communism and Fascism, more unites us than divides us.  She chose the newly released seasonal, Founder’s Imperial Stout.  We both first had this beer about a year ago and we fell in love with it (she more than me, admittedly, though I have stated before in this blog that I love Founder’s Imperial Stout).  She calls it “liquid motor oil goodness…” and you can’t buy a better endorsement than that.

I want to give a couple brief tasting notes on each of the beers that we had for the tasting…no full review because in most cases I only had a taster’s worth.
The other beers of the night were (in the order of appearance):

  1. Rogue Dead Guy Ale: Always a solid beer.  No frills, just great taste.  It was a great way to start the night.  Read more of my thoughts here.
  2. Magic Hat No. 9:  I’m not the biggest fan of No. 9, but there’s nothing wrong with it.  It has a distinct apricot taste that I think you either like or dislike.  That said, it was a pretty decent follow-up to Dead Guy.
  3. Founder’s Imperial Stout: Amy was anxious to taste hers since it had been almost a year since we had it, so we tasted this one earlier than I had planned.  The consensus of pretty much everyone present was that this was an awesome beer.  There was an audible, collective gasp as she poured the first motor oil taster.
  4. Bell’s Porter: This was my first time tasting this beer and I have to say it was a very solid Porter.  Nice color and a good mouthfeel.  I could definitely see myself getting one of these again.
  5. Left Hand Milk Stout: I love this beer and I always forget that I do.  It has such a pleasantly thick mouthfeel and caramel roastiness.  Its low ABV and very smooth taste make this a very “sessionable” beer even if you couldn’t define it as such.
  6. Schlafly Coffee Stout: I’ve talked about my love for Schlafly’s Coffee Stout before.  This night was no different.  A nice pleasant balanced coffee stout.  This is one of Schlafly’s best beers.
  7. Bell’s Two Hearted Ale:  Choosing beers for a tasting is kind of like making a mix tape.  You have to plan what’s coming next based on what’s been before.  I saw that we had, like, 5 different IPAs in the fridge and I knew that switching straight from the coffee stout to an IPA might be dangerous.  So I had a decision to make.  Do I risk folks thinking that one of the beers  is bad solely based on the fact that they had it after some dark beers –I mean at some point you have to make the break, right?  Or do I just bite the bullet and use my wonderful, floral piece of IPA heaven as the sacrificial lamb?  What are hosts for? 🙂
  8. O’Dell IPA: If my memory serves me correctly (and very often it

    The beer that started it all...

    doesn’t), this was the first true craft beer I had ever had in my life.  I had tasted Blue Moon, Tsingtao and other so-called macro-crafts before, but nothing like this beer.  This  will forever be the beer that changed it all for me.

  9. Milwaukee’s Best Light (yes…The Beast):  This was pretty predictably and universally panned by everyone present.  The claim to fame was that 2 Tallboys of Beast light and a pack of smokes costs less than most of the beers that everyone else bought.  The taste was exactly as I had left it in college: thin, watery, and an overwhelming (to me at least) taste of pear.
  10. Caldera IPA: This one was a new one for me.  Very fresh and crisp.  A lot of grapefruit in the nose and taste.  I will be looking for this one again.
  11. Blue Moon:  Blueberries!
  12. Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA: I think this is a great beer, but I didn’t get a lot of the “extra” part of the Extra IPA, just a nice malty and decently bitter beer.
  13. Deschutes Jubelale:  One of the attendees has a friend who lives in Austin, TX and was able to send  some Deschutes up to him.  I liked this one a lot.  I really would have liked to have a whole bottle to myself 🙂
  14. Deschutes Black Butte Porter: There was only one bottle of this one available, so I didn’t get much.  It was also get later and then night and my memory gets a little fuzzy 🙂  The only thing I remember is that I didn’t like it as much as Bell’s.
  15. And a Schlafly mix-a-six which incuded Kolsch, Oatmeal Stout, Pale Ale, and Scotch Ale: I got even less of each of these beers than I did of the Deschutes Black Porter.  Luckily I have had all of these beers before.  All of them are solid selections from Schlafly.

Dead Soldiers...

These parties have been instrumental in my quest for deeper understanding of beer and since I have now figured out how to wrap my head around the concept of pacing when you are drinking 14-18 types of beers from 4 oz. taster glasses :), are a fun diversion from the workaday world.  Thanks to all the fellow Beer Snobs who have helped make it possible!

Another Step in the Journey: Bell’s Expedition Stout

Bell's Expedition Stout: Motor Oil-y!

Bell’s Expedition Stout
Imperial Stout
ABV: 10.5%
100% on RateBeer

I love a great Imperial Stout.  I love the fact that it feels as though it is sliding down my throat when I drink it.  I love the slight alcohol burn as it warms.  And I love the dark, bittersweet taste of malt.  There are very few things I don’t like about Imperial Stouts, which means I try a lot of them.  I have journeyed through Left Hand’s Wake Up Dead, Avery’s Czar, Great Divide’s Yeti and most notably Founder’s Imperial Stout.  Founder’s has been the pinnacle; that by which I measure all others.  However, after trying Expedition, I’m beginning to think that I’ve been a bit shortsighted.  Expedition Stout gives Founder’s a run for it’s money as top Imperial Stout in my books.  It’s a good thing that there really is no need to just choose one.

Tasting Notes:
pours motor oil thick with a thin head
heavy chocolate aroma
tastes burnt, but in a good way…like roasted marshmallow skins
warms to a nice creamy caramel
nice warm alcohol tingle

Like a cold winter’s day, John J. McCauley III’s voice will chill you to the bone.  And like Bell’s Expedition Stout it’ll heat your soul like a blazing oil drum trash fire in a dark alley….perhaps I stretched the metaphor too far.  Here’s Deer Tick with “Piece By Piece and Frame By Frame”.


Hopshot!

The Snowpocalypse didn’t come for us– more of a Disnowpointment. However, Boulevard Double Wide was on hand to warm the cockles.  A friend of mine on Facebook had this to say about it:

This stuff is great. I went to KS city in Nov and drank a gallon of this. Passed out in [my friend’s] hotel room in the bath tub with the water running and flooded the room. This stuff has a great memorable flavor.

Scathing indictment? Or Five Star review?  You decide….

Draft Magazine Gets it Right

In 2010, Draft Magazine listed McGurk’s as the best beer bar in St. Louis.   For their 2011 list of Best Beer Bars in America, Draft Magazine seems to have beefed up the STL scouts.  Two of the best “beer bars” in St. Louis, iTap and Bridge, finally made it onto the list.  With nearly 700 beers available between them, these two spots are the most obvious choices in St. Louis.

Congrats to both Bridge and iTap for the well deserved recognition!

While most of the beer news in St. Louis has been the amount of new brew pubs opening up, there are still quite a few beer bars to choose from in the area.  My additions to the “Beer Bar” list for St. Louis, would be the same as last year:

The Stable (http://www.thestablestl.com/)– The fine folks at Stable are definitely doing something right.  Their most recent beer event (tapping a cask of Bell’s Hopslam) saw more than 200 people in attendance and a blown cask in 42 minutes.

Cicero’s (http://ciceros-stl.com/)– Cicero’s continues to be a solidly diverse beer bar that offers free beer school on Wednesdays.

33 Wine Bar (http://www.33wine.com/)– Don’t let the “wine bar” in the name fool you, this  is one of the better kept beer secrets in STL.  They have no sign in front of their Lafayette Square location and, honestly, don’t really need one.  Most of their marketing seems to be from word of mouth and Twitter and from the strength of their awesome beer list.

Pintley: Craft Beer’s Pandora?

I love technology.  I love finding ways to make my life easier (even if it rarely makes it “easier”) with the use of some sort of gadget.  I also love beer.  I love the complexity of tastes and feelings you can get from simple ingredients.  And of course, what I really love is when these two things come together.  In this multi-part post, I will take a look at the realms in which beer and tech geekery overlap.

Pintley
from the site: “Pintley learns from your ratings and tasting notes to understand exactly what pleases your palate the most, so you can be your own beer expert.”

Their own intro video does a good job at explaining exactly what the app does:

Think Pandora Radio for beer.  When you download the app for the first time it asks you to rate about 20 popular, mainstream beers (Bass, Guinness, Blue Moon, Anchor Steam, etc.) to get a benchmark for your tastes.  From there, you can view your recommendations, rate more beer, create a wishlist and more. Pintley is a free dedicated app for the iPhone, a website (www.pintley.com) and a mobile website (m.pintley.com).

Summary Page

PROS:   The recommendations are what keep this app on my iPhone.  It does a really good job, even just from the initial rating when you first start the app, of picking beers that you might like.  Pintley also excels at including

Style Notes

very detailed info on beer styles and the different breweries.  When you click on the Founder’s Kentucky Breakfast Stout entry, you get a nice summary page that shows you the relevant stats for the beer itself (Avg. Rating, Style, Brewery, Community Tasting Notes, etc.) and also allows you to delve deeper by giving a detailed description of the style of beer and the brewery.  Ever wonder the Original Gravity range of an Imperial Stout?  Or the ABV range?  The Pintley app will tell you.

CONS:  Like Beerby, there is still no good way to get a feed of the beers I have been drinking.  There seems to be no way to embed anything from the site.  I can’t even link to my profile.  From a blogger’s standpoint this is a letdown, though I realize that most people probably don’t want the entire world to know what they’re drinking.  As I said before, the recommendations are awesome, but my only complaint is that the majority of beers they recommend for me aren’t available in Missouri (Stone, Dogfish Head, Russian River, Three Floyds.  It’s like they’re taunting me. Thanks Pintley!  I would love a Pliny the Elder or Dark Lord.  Wanna send me one?) Maybe some sort of location aware feature would help this?  Basically, I want the app to know where I am, what I like to drink AND what beers are available to me in my area.  Is this even possible?

CONCLUSION:  I would definitely recommend downloading this app or using the website despite the fact that I really find myself using this app less than the others on my phone.  It’s a really good resource for the above mentioned style notes and brewery info, but I think it seems less useful to me personally because of the recommendations.  The strongest aspect of this app is also its weakness.  Also, like other mobile beer apps it seems really “closed.”  I can share everything to Facebook and Twitter on a beer-by-beer basis, but can’t link to my profile page or even get a simple RSS feed (like the Twitter feed on this site) of the beers I drink.  The app is definitely worth the price (FREE!), but I personally have some reservations as far as daily use.

Like this review?  Check out a review of Beerby, another mobile beer app,  here.

Next up:   AB-InBev’s craft beer farce – iLoveBeer

Pure Comfort: Schlafly Christmas Ale

Schlafly Christmas Ale: Great for the holidays!

Schlafly Christmas Ale
Style:  Spiced Amber Ale
ABV:  8%
85% on RateBeer

I picked this beer up just before Thanksgiving and as anyone who has been following me on Twitter or Beerby knows that I’ve had a bunch of these since.  There just seemed to be so many occasions to keep buying it. Plus, it’s good.  Really good.

The beer pours a nice deep amber.  First thing you get in the smell is the citrus–specifically orange peel– and a little bit of spice (pepper or the cloves–I’m not sure which).  The first taste, for me, was a ton of vanilla and thickness- like they added lactose to it to beef up the body.  The spices come next: cloves and cinnamon, but unlike some of the ratings on RateBeer, I didn’t think it was too much.  Then again, I was expecting a decent amount of spice; it is a holiday beer after all.

To me, this beer is just pure goodness.  Warm.  Extremely palatable.  Comforting like Mom’s meatloaf and mashed potatoes.  This is the perfect beer to curl up with by a fire after a full day of wrapping Christmas presents or playing in the snow.  Go out and get this beer today before it’s gone!

Summer Camp is Jeremy Warmsley and Elizabeth Sankey

Pair this beer with a cover song that has been making it’s rounds on music blogs this year: a cover of “Christmas Wrapping” originally by The Waitresses. This one’s is by the indie-pop duo, Summer Camp. Enjoy and Happy Holidays!

The Classics: Rogue Dead Guy Ale

Rogue Dead Guy Ale

Rogue Dead Guy Ale

Style: German Maibock
ABV: 6.6%

I am a bit ashamed to admit that it wasn’t that long ago that I tried this beer…as in, this year.   I have long been a fan of the Shakespeare Stout and the Hazelnut Brown Nectar, but I never really felt the urge to give the Dead Guy a try.

To me, Rogue Dead Guy is the kind of beer that I would consider a “foundation” beer.  In keeping with the Maibock style, there is an expected malt presence, but it’s never the only thing there.  There is a definite hop character that gives it a little tinge.  All that to say that it’s extremely balanced–no “extreme brewing” here.  Nothing ornate.  Nothing fancy.   Nothing really jumps out at you when you drink it.  In fact, the main thing I was thinking while tasting this again was how utterly unremarkable this beer is.  And how in the world of the taxidermied shoat encased bottle, I am completely fine with that.

Dead Guy is a cornerstone of the craft beer world that everyone should try.  This is absolutely the perfect beer to recommend to someone who is just jumping off into the craft beer world.  There is nothing offensive about its 40 IBUs and the craft newbie won’t think that he is chewing his beer.  A six pack of can be relatively pricey, but you definitely feel like (as with most Rogue beers) you are getting something for it.

Dead Guys

While the connection to the Grateful Dead is coincidental for Rogue Dead Guy (it comes from the celebration of The Day of the Dead), I couldn’t resist posting such a solidly classic Grateful Dead song as the pair to this solidly classic craft beer.  Enjoy!

Have an idea for a classic craft beer I should review?  Leave a comment or send me an email at hopostle@gmail.com