Tag Archives: tasting

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!

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New Holland Tasting @ The Wine and Cheese Place

Like most of the beer tastings at The Wine and Cheese Place, there were barrels set up in the beer section (if you haven’t been to The Wine and Cheese Place for a tasting, it is something that they do every Friday from 4-6pm. It is very informal and most of the time self serve).   On the barrels were the tasting selections. Rich Blair from New Holland gave a great presentation.

The Lineup:
Artisan Spirits

Hatter Royale Hopquila
Zeppelin Bend Straight Whiskey
Knickerbocker Gin
Dutchess Citrus Vodka
Dutchess Vodka
Freshwater Rum – Huron White
Freshwater Rum – Michigan Amber
Freshwater Rum – Superior Single Barrel

Art in Fermented Form (Beer)

Hopivore (Wet Hopped Harvest Ale)
Charkoota Rye Smoked Doppelbock
Imperial Hatter (IIPA)
Full Circle Kolsch
Mad Hatter (IPA)
Poet Stout
Dragon’s Milk

All of New Holland’s beers were solid (most notably the Imperial Hatter and Dragon’s Milk).   Even the summer favorite–though not really mine–Full Circle Kolsch was good. In fact, the quality of their beers made me reflect on the fact that, arguably, most of the attention paid to Michigan beer goes to Founders and Bell’s. And they certainly deserve it.  Founder’s and Bell’s are both extremely good breweries. New Holland, though, seems to be the neglected younger sibling of the two, which is so undeserved, it’s worth mentioning. I will definitely be looking into New Holland more seriously in the future.

New Holland’s strength lies in the beer I tasted, but also its (new to STL) line of Artisan Spirits.

Full Disclosure: I am not a hard liquor guy. Scotch does nothing for me (other than a slow burn in my throat) and vodka is usually relegated to pairing nicely with my OJ. Instead, I prefer to wax poetically about the intricate complexities of beer, New Holland’s spirits may have changed that.

The hip thing to write about would be the Hopquila, which is all the buzz right now.   New Holland’s Hatter Royale Hopquila is essentially a distilled version of their Imperial Hatter Imperial IPA, which is then dry hopped to taste. It is technically a flavored whiskey that does a very good impression of tequila (no agave nectar means not actually tequila). The New Holland Pub even serves a “margarita” made with Hopquila (affectionately called the “Hoparita”). I was shocked at how closely it mimicked the flavor of tequila and it was certainly good, but the real star in my mind was the Knickerbocker Gin. I had literally never tasted anything like it. It was like eating a juniper flower straight from the tree (but not nearly as girly as that sounds). The taste was so vibrant and unlike anything I had ever had before, especially from Gin. Normally I have to mix my liquor with something, but I could definitely see drinking this one neat.

I like the trend of microbreweries branching out and diversifying their production. The spike in popularity of craft beer proves that people are responding to the fact there is more out there than the “Light Beer Trinity” and I think that Artisan Spirits from craft breweries (Rogue, Square One, Amalgamated, and many others) will do the same for the spirit world.

If you missed this last tasting event at The Wine and Cheese Place, it’s not too late. This Friday they will be hosting Jim O’Connor from Bell’s Brewery at the Forsyth location from 4-6pm.

Check here for more info.