Gotta love the annual Schlafly April Fool’s Day jokes:
check out their other videos HERE.
Gotta love the annual Schlafly April Fool’s Day jokes:
check out their other videos HERE.
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:
It’s so good.
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
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.
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
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):
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.
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!
So….I wrote the post about Urban Chestnut Brewing Company and I left out the fact that I swiped a coaster. I know….capital offense (at least I left the glassware). And I have been looking at that coaster for the past three days and simply admiring it.
I love the Urban Chestnut logo. The colors are awesome (yellow, red and blue don’t come to my mind when I think of a good color scheme, but they definitely work). The text is readable And…I love the icon of the glass with the “foliage” in it, but I have one question. In the glass, what kind of leaf is that? I showed the logo to a friend of mine at The Logo-Mat (http://thelogo-mat.blogspot.com/) who specializes in these things and he thought it looked like a hop leaf. I, of course, thought (after doing an image search) it looked like a Chestnut leaf (which made the most sense to me). Either way, I think it’s an outstanding example of this new STL brewery’s commitment to quality and craftsmanship.
For a more concise and informed opinion of the logo, check out Matt’s full review here. I totally agree with him when he says “I’d wear a t-shirt adorned with this logo.” I should have bought one while I was there.
What do you think? Hop Leaf or Chestnut leaf? Does it even matter? Do I get free beer if I win? How about a free shirt? Is there anyone at Urban Chestnut who could field this question?
My wife and I had a date night last night (we’re both pretty anti-Valentine’s Day, so it is merely a coincidence that it was this weekend–at least that’s what she tells me). We started at Pho Grand (http://www.phogrand.com/) where I had some fantastic Chicken Curry (19.04 if you know Pho) and then headed to Urban Chestnut Brewing Company (http://www.urbanchestnut.com/home). I had been hearing a lot about this new STL brewery, so the hype factor was certainly high. The brewery is housed in a 1920s era garage in St. Louis’s Midtown Alley (one of the newer STL urban renewal areas) and has a very calculated industrial chic feel to it–exposed beams and ductwork, brushed metal and warm wood. The original workshop area of the building is where the actual brewery is located; large metal and glass windows (where the bay doors would have been) are illuminated at night to show off the shiny
brewing equipment from the street. The main part of the building has become the warmly lit and very inviting tasting room and was, last night at least, pretty packed. The crowd seemed to run the gamut from beardy beer geeks to older couples out for the night and, for the most part, everyone seemed to be digging the live music. The atmosphere was altogether warm and inviting (I kept looking around for Tiny Tim and a blazing hearth) and really seemed like a great place to go and hang out on a regular basis (wish I lived closer).
Amy and I were able to try two beers (we were kind of pressed for time and the distance from home limited how much we could drink). Urban Chestnut has two “lines” of beers: Reverence (“Our celebration of beer’s heritage ~ brewing classically-crafted, timeless European beer styles”) and Revolution (“Our contribution to the renaissance of craft beer—brewing artisanal, modern American beers”). We decided to try one from each.
Being the hop lover that I am, I went with the Hopfen (ABV- 6.2%, IBU’s- 55)–a “‘Bavarian IPA’…brewed and dry-hopped with a variety of Hallertau Hops”. I loved it immediately. Bold, hoppy, crisp and refreshing. I could have had 10 of them, judging by how easily the first one went down.
Amy is a malty kind of girl, so she went with the Harwood Myth (ABV- 5.3%, IBU’s-28) an English Style Brown Porter with a smooth and light presence that betrays its deep brown color. There was cocoa and caramel just like the description said and as my wife commented, “smoked chocolate? If there is such a thing…”
I can tell that repeated visits to Urban Chestnut will be necessary to fully determine it’s place in the St. Louis beer scene, but the preliminary data is definitely positive. The atmosphere is like someone’s living room (assuming of course that someone has great taste and lots of beer) and the beer itself doesn’t seem like it should be from a brewery that is in its first few months of production. In fact, pretty much every aspect of the brewery–website, logo, marketing, tap handles, glassware–is extremely polished. I can’t wait to see where Urban Chestnut goes in the coming years. If they keep on their current track, the only place to go will be up.
Have you been to Urban Chestnut? What did you think? Let me know in the comments.
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….
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.
So let’s just get this out of the way. This beer is 18 bucks a six pack. Yes. $18. That’s like wine prices. 3 bucks per bottle makes this beer more expensive than most bar prices of Bud Light/Select/Weiser/Wheat/Dry/Ice. That said, this beer, in so many ways, is not for the faint of heart. But I promise you, if you take the financial leap your taste buds will thank you. (Well….maybe that’s not entirely true. If you are not a fan of the IPA style you probably won’t like this beer. Also if your thing is to drink a whole lot of beer at once because you’re still living vicariously through the memory of your college days when the beer tasted like water, there are other beers for you. At 10% ABV and nearly double the price of most sixes of “good beer”, Hopslam is meant to be enjoyed and, dare I say, cherished.)
Hopslam also seems to be one of the more sought after beers in the area, despite its price. It is only released as a seasonal and is therefore limited. There’s a good chance that even as I write this that St. Louis retailers might be dry. I got mine at Bombay Wine and Spirits in St. Charles and it was the second to the last six pack of two cases that had only come in an hour before. The Wine and Cheese Place tweeted that Hopslam was finally in stock on January 18th and then tweeted again shortly thereafter that they were sold out. The Stable tweeted today that they were tapping a cask of Hopslam tonight (1/21) at 6 pm, which is sure to go extremely quickly. Now, this may be a case of Bell’s shorting supply to increase demand–like Cabbage Patch Kids, Tickle Me Elmos, and the Wii–but when you taste it, it’s hard to argue that Hopslam is merely hype. This is a good beer.
The first thing that hits you when you pour the beer, is the floral aroma of the hops. It’s sweet and citrusy, but definitely hints at the bitterness to come. If you’re not a fan of IPA bitterness, this will definitely drive you away. However, if you are adventurous your pioneering spirit is rewarded with an extremely balanced and fresh tasting hoppy treat. Grapefruit and honey. Peach and Pine tree. And a nice hop bite on the back end. And you will never realize this beer is 10%. There is no alcohol burn during any part of the tasting. It is easy drinking and smooth.
Hopslam is a fantastic beer–one that I wait for each year, but I don’t think I would recommend it to everyone. This is mostly because I’m selfish and that would push demand even higher 🙂 , but also because I don’t really think this beer is for everyone. If you aren’t a fan of bitter beers, you aren’t going to like this and it will possibly turn you off of the IPA style altogether (I would recommend a Founder’s Centennial IPA or if you want to get local an O’Fallon 5 Day IPA those are much more akin to “gateway” IPAs than Hopslam). This is a serious beer for serious beer drinkers with a fairly steep entry fee. But I promise you….it’s worth it.
The following band, Sleigh Bells, is an acquired taste–and I’ll be honest, I haven’t really acquired it yet–but I love the sound of this song and thought it would pair nicely with a bottle of Hopslam….plus the band has the word Bells in it so it totally fits 🙂 Here is “Rill Rill” by Sleigh Bells:
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!
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!