Saturday, April 24, 2010

World Beer Festival

Today is the fifth annual World Beer Festival here in Raleigh. El and I have tickets for the afternoon session. Since there will be a ton of different breweries offering multiple brews and since the pours are only about two ounces, I do not plan on including any of the beer I consume at the festival on my Beer List. Last fall, we attended the World Beer Festival at the old Durham Athletic Park over in Durham, and of course, we plan on attending the Durham festival again this year which is currently scheduled for October 2, 2010.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

A Stout Pair

Since I drink more than I write, I am constantly behind in posting about beers that I have recently consumed. In this post, I will cover two brews from a particular style, stout. Stouts are darker ales (almost to black) that use roasted malts and tend to have favors of chocolate and coffee. Stouts also tend to have higher percentages of alcohol which is where the term 'stout' originates. I have previously discussed two other stouts, Storm King Imperial Stout from Victory Brewing and Allagash Black.

In this post, I am adding Milk Stout from Left Hand Brewing and Black Mocha Stout from Highlands Brewing to the list. Both names are appropriately descriptive of the brews. As expected, the Milk Stout is very creamy thanks to addition of milk sugar (i.e. lactose). I had this beer on draft from our favorite neighborhood wine and beer store which also carries it in bottles. The Milk Stout was replaced at the tap with the Black Mocha Stout, and as expected, Black Mocha Stout has tastes of roasted coffee and chocolate. I thought those flavor were very faint, although perhaps subtle is a better word. The chocolate and coffee flavors were definitely not overpowering.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

More Beers for the List

Tonight, I finished up the six-pack from El. The sixth and final bottle was Merry Monks' Ale from the Weyerbacher Brewing Company. The Monks is another tripel. This one clocks in at 9.3% ABV but didn't seem quite that strong. It was very flavorful and particularly fruity.

I also have another fruity beer for the Beer List which I have consumed recently. Next on the list is Oberon Ale, the summer seasonal from Bell's Brewery. Oberon is a wheat beer or witbeir or Belgian-style ale (but don't call it "Belgian" unless the brew is from Belgium) or hefeweizen or whatever. Basically, it falls into the category with Blue Moon, Schneider Weisse, Allagash White, St. Bernardus Witbier, and all those other beers that I enjoy. It was no surprise that I enjoyed Oberon tremendously.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Another Beer Update

It has been two weeks since I put the third batch of home brew in the keg. For the third batch, I went with Classic American Blonde Ale. Today, I put the home brew in bottles. Check back in another two weeks for an update on the final product.

In my last post, I attempted to catch up on beers that I have recently tried for the beer list. Since then, the backlog has grown even more, so here are some more brews. First is St. Bernardus Tripel which came in a big bottle from the cooler at our local wine and beer store. At 8% ABV, the tripel is sort of the big brother of the witbier from St. Bernardus, a bottle of which was included in the six-pack that El gave me awhile back. Of course, a tripel is a type of abbey beer known for their higher alcohol content, and I definitely needed to sip this one. It is a very fruity and drinkable beer.

The next addition to the list is Mojo IPA from the the Boulder Beer Company. On their website, Boulder Beer claims to be Colorado's first microbrewery. I generally do not care for very hoppy beers such as standard pale ales and India pale ales (IPAs). I though Mojo was a typical hoppy IPA which I had to soldier through.

Continuing the IPA theme, I recently tried a pint of 90 Minute IPA from Dogfish Head which is another super-hoppy brew. In fact, 90 minute is quite possibly the definition of an Imperial or Double IPA. I think it is over-the-top in regards to the hoppiness, and like the Mojo, I really had to muscle through the pint.

I also had another brew from Dogfish Head. Their unique Palo Santo Marron is an unfiltered brown ale aged in a gigantic tank made out of Palo Santo wood (bursera graveolens) from Paraguay. At 12% ABV, it is another slow sipping beer like the St. Bernardus Tripel. This beer is pretty hoppy and aged in wood, so I should not have liked it at all, but surprisingly, I found this beer to be enjoyable.

Finally, I had some Reissdorf Kölsch on draft which I previously had in a bottle. Kölsch is one of my favorite types. I enjoyed Reissdorf from the bottle, and it is even better straight from the tap.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Beers for the List

Tournament Update: Last night, the Butler Bulldogs held on with their stellar defense to beat the Michigan State Spartans while the Duke Blue Devils trounced the West Virginia Mountaineers to set up the ultimate David-versus-Goliath scenario in Monday's title game. Playing the role of Goliath is Duke, a number one seed which is a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference, one of the six BCS football conferences. In the role of David is Butler, playing in their first Final Four and now their first championship game. Obviously, Duke is the strong favorite, but if the Bulldogs can keep up their defense and slow down the game, I think they have a strong chance of taking down the Devils.

I have consumed quite a few beers which I have not yet had the time to add to the Beer List, so I will try to take care of that now. First up is a bottle of Kristallweissbier or crystal wheat beer from Weihenstephan Brewery in the Bavaria area of Germany. Kristallweissbier is a filtered wheat beer hence being crystal instead of a normal cloudy wheat beer.

For the most recent biweekly neighborhood social gathering, I picked up a six-pack of the geographically-challenged Bavaria Holland from the Bavaria Brewery. The brewery is not located in Bavaria, Germany, but is at least located in the Netherlands. However, it is located in the Dutch province of North Brabant and not in either North or South Holland. Anyway, the beer was relatively cheap for an import, and I basically got what I paid for. Not a great beer, but decent enough.

I have also recently had pints of three old favorites. First was Red Oak Amber Lager from Red Oak Brewery in Whitsett, North Carolina. Whitsett is a small town west of Raleigh between Burlington and Greensboro. Next was Newcastle Brown Ale from Scottish & Newcastle which was headquartered in Scotland, United Kingdom, but is now part of Heineken International. Finally, there was a pint of Blue Moon Belgian White which is advertised as being brewed by the Blue Moon Brewing Company, but in reality is brewed by Coors which is now part of Molson Coors.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Need a Holiday? (Part II)

Yesterday was Good Friday, the Christian holiday that celebrates the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, and tomorrow is Easter, which celebrates rabbits and chocolate (and also, the resurrection of Jesus). In much of the Christian world, Good Friday and Easter Monday are official holidays. Here in the land of separation of church and state, neither is a national holiday (although Christmas still gets a pass). Some places do observe those days as local holidays however.

By a coincidence of this year's calendar, this Monday is also everybody's favorite Chinese holiday, Tomb Sweeping Day (with the Dragon Boat Festival coming in a close second). Tomb Sweeping Day, officially know as the Qingming Festival, is a day set aside to remember and celebrate one's ancestors, such as by cleaning up around their grave sites, as well as to enjoy the beginning of spring.

On Monday, a majority of the world's population will be on holiday including many countries with significant Christian populations plus China and other nations influenced by Chinese culture. Here in the United States, Monday is not an official holiday, but it is a holiday of another type, a secular sports-oriented one. In recent years, football, particularly the NFL, has overtaken baseball as this country's de facto national pastime, and Super Bowl Sunday has become our unofficial national sports holiday. Prior to this change, the country's primary sports holiday was not a cold Sunday in January or February, but a warm Monday in early April with the first pitches of the Major League Baseball season.

Monday will also be the day that the NCAA will crown its Men's Division I Basketball Champion following the conclusion of the three-week tournament known as the Big Dance. The annual tournament culminates with the winners of the four regional brackets meeting in the Final Four, which starts tonight with the two semifinal games. Last year's tournament was a relatively straight-forward affair with few major upsets. The 2009 Final Four was played in Detroit, Michigan, and featured two number one seeds, North Carolina from the South region and Connecticut from the West, plus Michigan State, the number two seed from the Midwest bracket, and Villanova, the number three seed from the East. The Tar Heels, the overall number one seed of the tournament, were the eventual winners of the tournament.

This year's tournament has been vastly different. Like every year, I filled out a bracket for the tournament. My general rules for filling out brackets are to pick one of the number one seeds to win it all, since one of them generally does, and to avoid picking too many upsets since it is unlikely that I will pick the correct ones. Despite not being comfortable with any of the number one seeds, I picked three of them to go to the Final Four along with third-seeded Bayor from the South region. In my championship game, I had Syracuse, the number-one seed from the West, over Kentucky, the number one seed from the East. All in all, a very straight-forward bracket. Unfortunately, this tournament has been anything but straight-forward. The overall number one seed Kansas lost in the second round to an upstart Northern Iowa team. Syracuse went down to number five seed Butler in the third round. The Bulldogs have gone on to make the Final Four which will be played this year in Indianapolis, Indiana, where the Butler campus is located.

The third number one seed to go down was Kentucky which survived until the regional finals before losing to second-seeded West Virginia. The only number one to make this year's Final Four is Duke, incidentally the only number one seed that I did not pick in my bracket. Tonight, the Blue Devils will match up with the Mountaineers of West Virginia in the late semifinal game while the early game will feature Butler against fellow number five seed Michigan State from the Midwest bracket. El, who is a fan of the Butler Bulldogs, and I plan on watching their game at our favorite sports bar which doubles as our local wine and beer store.