Sunday, July 25, 2010


Home Brew Update: It has been two weeks since I put the batch of Whispering Wheat Weizenbier in the keg. Today, I put the latest home brew in bottles. Same drill as before, another two weeks in the bottles, and then we will get to taste.

On Saturday, I continued my journey down the hoppy trail with two ales heavy on the hops. As I have discussed in previous posts (including the most recent), I have been trying more pales ales, IPAs and even double (or imperial) IPAs despite my general preference for beers with lower contents of hops. I find that some of these brews are strong and hoppy seemingly just for the sake higher ABV and IBU numbers. Those are the ones that I least prefer. Other beers in these categories are smoother and easier to drink. Here we have one of each.

The first brew that I consumed was Islander IPA from Coronado. This will be the second brew on the Beer List from the California brewery after their Mermaid's Red Ale. The website for Islander IPA brags about its "intense hop bitterness" which I found to be right on the money. There were some other flavors, but for me at least, the hops really overpowered any other taste.

To the rescue comes Capt'n Krunkles from Terrapin Beer Company in Athens, Georgia. According to the brewery's webpage, Capt'n Krunkles is the tenth in a line of Side Projects and the first for the year 2010. The brew is called a black IPA which is an oxymoron. How can a beer be both black and pale? Other descriptions for this particular style of beer include Cascadian Dark Ale and American-Style India Black Ale which now seems to be the official name for the style per the Brewers Association. True to the style (whatever it is called), Capt'n Krunkles is a dark pour. The smell is very malty. I found the taste to be a great balance of roasted malts and heavy hops. I enjoyed this beer much more than the Islander IPA.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Bottles and Cans and ...

"Bottles and cans and ..." well, pint glasses. The title of this beer post is a reference to the Beck song "Where It's At" which includes the aforementioned line, and this post will cover a brew from a bottle and one from a can, as well a draft served in a pint glass. That will cover the top three methods of dispensing beer, but of course, there are others. In addition to the ubiquitous pint glass, draft beer can be served in glassware ranging from the Kölsch glass to this thing. Draft beer can also be deposited into growlers that can be carried back to the house. Then there is that favorite method of the college-age crowd for consuming beer, the keg stand.

First up is the can. Recently, El and I were invited to a party by a pool which restricted our choice of beverage containers to the non-glass variety. Stopping by a local grocery store, I picked up a six-pack of Dale's Pale Ale from Oskar Blues Brewing Company which is located in Lyons, Colorado. I have previously sampled Dale's at local beer festivals along with as some of Oskar Blues's other canned offerings. This was a perfect opportunity to try a full can (or more) of the pale ale. As advertised, Dale's is a pale ale (as the webpage states, "duh"). However, I thought it was quite hoppy, even bordering on an IPA. The 65 IBUs would put it in the lower-end of the IPA category. I have been trying more pale ales, IPAs, and even DIPAs, and I liked Dale's.

Next, I am hitting the bottle. Last Saturday, El and I accompanied some friends of ours on a trip to the fine city of Durham. While there, we stopped for lunch at interesting shop named Parker and Otis which offers various sandwiches along with plethora of other goods. In multiple beer coolers were a variety of beers. I selected a bottle of Summer Ale from Brooklyn Brewery. The brew was a light and refreshing as you would like on a nice summer day (even those it was raining while we were in Durham).

Bringing up the rear is a draft beer. I recently had a pint of Turbodog from Abita Brewing Company which is located in Abita Springs, Louisiana. Turbodog is an interesting brown ale. The style is defined by Newcastle which has a nice flavor full of malts, nuts and caramel. Turbodog has a similar malty flavor, but perhaps not as strong. I think I prefer Newcastle.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Yet Another Beer Post

Home Brew Update: Today, I mixed up another batch of home brew. I went with the Whispering Wheat Weizenbier this time. Unfortunately, I have little hope for this batch. I sanitized the utensils as usual, but then I kept forgetting and sitting the whisk that I was using directly on the counter instead of the plate that I had sanitized for that particular purpose. Then while I was sprinkling the yeast over the wort mixture, I dropped the whole yeast packet into the keg. I fished the packet out with my fingers which I assume does not create the most sanitary condition.

Moving on to beers brewed by others, El and I visited our favorite local watering hole yesterday. First up for me was Hazed and Infused from the Boulder Beer Company. I have previously had Boulder's Mojo IPA and Mojo Risin' Double IPA. Those previous Boulder brews sported hoppy tastes. Hazed and Infused was no different, but it was much more drinkable. H&I was not as over-the-top hoppy as the IPA and DIPA.

Next up was a big beer. In fact, the brew is one from Smuttynose Brewing's Big Beer Series. At 12% ABV, Gravitation definitely fits the bill. Gravitation is a Belgian-style quad or quadrupel. There were lots of strong flavors, but it was hard to get beyond the strong alcohol taste. Let me just say that half a pint was quite enough.

Now it's back to Boulder Beer for a not-super-hoppy beer. Their Kinda Blue is a blueberry-flavored wheat beer. I have tasted blueberry beers before, most recently Sweetwater Blue. As I stated in that previous post, I enjoy wheat beers, but I generally do not care for super-fruity wheat beers including the Sweetwater brew. Surprisingly (although I guess not so much based on the name), Kinda Blue did not seem to have a super-blueberry taste. It was just a very drinkable wheat beer.

Next is a solid porter from Otter Creek. Stovepipe Porter is dark brown in color. El particularly enjoys porters and stouts. She had a taste of this one and seemed to enjoy it. I agree with her.

El and I ended the night at the local Irish pub with some friends. While there, I enjoyed a couple of pints of Smithwick's which is one of the Guinness brands. Smithwick's is pretty much the definition of an Irish red ale. The amber-colored brew had a nice malty taste.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Epic North Carolina Beers

Alan, one of my friends from college, lives in Portland, Oregon with his wife and daughter. Portland is known as "Beervana" due to the large number of breweries in the area, including Widmer, Rogue, Lucky Labrador, and Tugboat. Since Alan moved to Portland, I have made two trips out to visit. While I haven't had the opportunity to take a grand tour of breweries, I have visited several bars and brewpubs and sampled many of the local offerings.

A few months back, El and I traveled to Boston to attend the wedding of her cousin. While there, I toured one of the meccas of beer, the Boston Brewery, home of Samuel Adams beers. In addition to Sam Adams, Boston is also home to the Harpoon Brewery.

I don't think there is any argument that Portland and Boston are two of the top cities for beer in the country. However, I would contend that Raleigh is quickly climbing that list. I recently enjoyed three beers from separate breweries in the Raleigh area. The names of those beers sound like the plot of an epic western. The female lead, Betty, and her family live out on the range in the badlands known as Devils Tramping Ground. One day, while Betty has made the trip into town for supplies, a gang of outlaws visit the family homestead where they cruelly murder everybody. When Betty returns home to the brutal scene, our heroine takes up her shotgun to become an avenging angel.

The first beer was Aviator Brewing Company's Devils Tramping Ground Tripel. Aviator is located in Fuquay-Varina which is a suburb south of Raleigh. The brewery was started out of an airport hanger, hence the name. Devils Tramping Ground is a Belgian-style tripel which are always interesting. At 9.2% ABV, it is a big beer, and the taste is sweet and malty.

The second two brews are ones that I have had before. They are two of my favorite beers and two of my favorite styles of beer. Both breweries are located in Raleigh proper. Shotgun Betty from Lonerider Brewing Company is Hefeweizen and is a good example of the style. The taste is fruity and spicy. Then there is Angry Angel from Big Boss Brewing Company. Angry Angel is a Kölsch-style ale which I particularly enjoy.