Archive for October, 2011

Witches' Brew by Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.

Happy Halloween everyone!  When I was a kid, this used to be my 2nd favorite holiday behind Christmas.  I remember that I couldn’t wait until I got home from school or when it was officially time to trick or treat on a weekend.  I would be out as long as I could possibly stand it, dressed in my costume, with typically a pillow case as my container to hold all that yummy candy.  My neighborhood used to be packed with kids trick or treating.  Fast forward to Halloween today, I am lucky if we get 20 kids at my house trick or treating.  To me, that is a shame.  I really am glad I grew up when I did (I was born in 1968 to give you a point of reference).  It seemed like such a better time to be a kid.

So on this night when the Boogeyman is said to to stalking, the most famous of all…Michael Myers from my favorite horror movie of all time…Halloween (not Rob Zombies version BTW…Carpenter FTW!!!), and ghouls and witches are on the prowl, let me introduce beer #337, Witches’ Brew by Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V. from Belgium.  Their version of a Tripel has an ABV of 9.3%.

I took this outside to my front porch for the pour in front of some lit up jack-o’-lanterns.  It isn’t my best photo but I think I did OK in the tough conditions (wait…I hear a knock a the door…yeah baby…trick or treaters…a football player and a priceness!!!).  Witches’ Brew poured a hazy golden color with quite the nice foamy white head.  That head stuck around quite some time.  The nose was very nice…apples and pears and maybe a some white grapes (oh my!) provided a nice fruity aroma coupled with a Belgian yeasty thing and spices like cloves and white pepper…I was digging it.  Add in a bit of bread and you have what I smelled.  There was quite a bit going here in the taste, it was a bit sweet up front with the fruitiness of the apples and grapes coming through loud and clear mixing with the malty breadiness really well.  I got some honey about mid-drink and then the spiciness comes through towards the back end of the beer.  9.4% ABV…where the hell did they hide it?  Even as it warmed up, the alcohol was really hidden well.  It had a medium body and some decent carbonation.  It was pretty smooth and almost creamy.  I drank the whole 750 ml bottle (the size of a typical wine bottle) and I could have had (wait…another knock on the door..a ninja, someone from Star Trek and Yoda) another bottle of this easily.

I though this was quite good and very delicious…excellent!  Quite the Witches’ Brew…perfect for a Halloween night such as this…even know snow is on the ground.  Now it is time to watch John Carpenter/Debra Hills Halloween and Halloween 2 and hopefully give out lots of candy.  Hey Mr. Zombie…watch these and learn how to truly do horror…it ain’t all about gore.  Have a wonderful Halloween everyone!  Oh yeah…give Dr. Sam Loomis a call if you see Michael  Myers…then again…if you see him…you are in big trouble!!!  Queue that famous creepy Halloween theme song….

Rating: A

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Well thanks to the snow yesterday…we have had no cable service (which means no TV, internet ,or phone) since last night. Comcast Triple Play, or whatever they call it, for the win…or FTW if you prefer.

I will be composing this on my HTC Trophy smartphone with the WordPress app. I don’t know how to attach a photo, so unless I get my cable service back, there will be none.

Beer #336 is Hefe Weiss by Sprecher Brewing Company from Glendale, Wisconsin. Their version of a Hefeweizen has an ABV of 4.2%.

Out comes my Mos Eisley Cantina glass for the pour. Come on….you know you love Star Wars and that song they played in the Cantina. I do too…it used to be my favorite movie before The Lord Of The Rings movies. This beer poured a very cloudy, almost murky, yellow or gold. The head was quite nice, white and creamy and silky smooth. Let’s dip our noses in…shall we? Smells like bread and is quite spiced with the scent of cloves. The spiciness of the cloves is really evident in the flavor. It also had a bit of a lemony zing to it. Throw in a nice bread flavor all throughout, and you have pretty tasty, with low alcohol, brew. The body was fairly light but not watery. The carbonation was on the low side. It was quite smooth and creamy. Very sessionable if that is your thing.

I liked this beer…it may have not been my favorite Hefeweizen, but it was really pleasant to drink and the best of the latest Beer Of The Month Clubs offering.

Rating: B

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Raison D'etre by Dogfish Head

October…on the verge of Halloween…snow.  Wait…what?  Snow?  Yep…take a look at the photo above.  That is not a left over photo from the winter time.  Did I ever tell you how much I hate the white stuff and the cold?  Give me the sun and the heat…give me summer all year long.  Anyone want to move to Arizona with me?

Beer #335…wow…only 30 more to go…is Raison D’etre by Dogfish Head.  Brewed in Milton, Delaware, this Belgian Strong Dark Ale has an ABV of 8%.  What about the name?  Well, Raison D’etre is a French phrase meaning “reason for existence.”

Appearance – Dark amber with a nice tan head.

Nose – My first thought was molasses and cola.  There was a faint aroma of alcohol also.

Taste – Brown sugar, molasses and dark fruits, mostly raisins.  A bit of burnt caramel and some spices.  It gets bready tasting near the back end.  Even know it is heavier on the nose, the alcohol is hidden nicely.

Mouthfeel – Fairly low in carbonation, medium bodied.  It was quite smooth.

Overall – Not bad but not great either.  Not one of my favorites from Dogfish.

As I sit here typing this, I’m looking out my window.  I really can’t believe it is October with the snow coming down.  Feels so damn gloomy and depressing.  Until tomorrow…

Rating: C

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Saranac Vanilla Stout by Matt Brewing Company

Crazy weather…snow is on the way and where I am, we could have 4 to 6 inches of the white stuff.  I can’t remember a time when we have had any snow before Halloween.  Here is to hoping the weather people are actually wrong about this, like they usually are.  Yesterday I had a package on my doorstep, it was the 2nd installment of my birthday gift, the Beer Of The Month Club.  Yesterdays beer was part of that so I will continue with the gift.

Beer #334 is Saranac Vanilla Stout by Matt Brewing Company from Utica, New York.  Interesting to note is Matt Brewing Company is the 2nd oldest family owned brewery in the US, brewing beers since 1853.  Tonight’s beer, an American Stout, has an ABV of 4.8%.

Appearance – Black as night with just a ring of a light brown head.

Nose – Smelled like cream soda with a hint of coffee.

Taste – Some roasted malt flavors of chocolate and coffee being just a tad bit sweet.  The vanilla added to this reminded me of cream soda…in a way…mostly towards the back end of this and into the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel – The body was south of medium and north of light.  There was more of a carbonation sting that I was expecting.  Low alcohol content make these go down awfully easy.

Overall – This wasn’t all that bad…just nothing here made me say “wow”.  I wish it was a little more heavier in the body and a bit smoother.  I have two more of these from the Beer Of The Month Club (I get 4 different beers and 3 of each) that just may be good for tonight’s Battlefield 3 playing session…not that I support drinking while gaming…but it does seem to make me play better.

Rating: C

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Saranac Bohemian Pilsener by Matt Brewing Company

I need to make this fairly quick as I really need a Battlefield 3 fix.  Fantastic game…if you game…go and get it and look for me online, kingbobyjr.  Be warned…you will get smoked…just not by me.  I will leave that to the 14 year olds who have nothing better to do than play games all day long.

Beer #333 is Saranac Bohemian Pilsener by Matt Brewing Company.  This Czech Pilsener, a new style of beer for me, with an ABV of 4.8% is brewed in Utica, New York.

Appearance – A really nice clear gold with frothy, creamy thin white head.  There was close to one million bubbles putting on a glorious show as they were trying to escape the Pilsner (Pilsener…looks like it can be spelled both ways) glass.  Excellent lacing.

Nose – Very mild nose with some grains, hay and grass.

Taste – A bit of a cracker flavor…not Saltines but more like a Ritz minus the buttery thing.  A bit of a lemon rind flavor and bitterness.  A bit spicy with black pepper.

Mouthfeel – Light bodied, crisp, high carbonation…this would probably be quite refreshing on a hot summer day which have gone the way of the DoDo bird…until next summer that is.

Overall – I have to be honest…I wasn’t expecting much being I’m not a huge fan of Pilsners in general.  This was a very drinkable beer though being a King and all, I would still give this to the Jester…and so I shall.

Rating: C

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Verboten by Weyerbacher Brewing Company

Ding…ding…ding…I hit the 600 mile mark on my bike today.  I’m pretty happy with that since 90% of that is on dirt whether it is singletrack or rail-trail.  I am shooting for 700 miles which should be reachable but I really don’t like riding in the cold so I guess that will be up to what Mother Nature provides.  The most I have done in one year is 980…I don’t think that will be attainable.  Maybe next year I will shoot for 1000 miles.  On to the beer.

Beer #332 is Verboten by Weyerbacher Brewing Company, a Belgian Pale Ale brewed in Easton. Pennsylvania with an ABV of 5.9%.

Appearance – A cloudy amber with a super thin off-white head.

Nose – Pretty light smelling with cloves and bananas.

Taste – Spicy and hoppy with bit of pepper, some cloves, and an orange rind flavor.  Nice bitter bite.  Finished on the dry side.

Mouthfeel – Midway between medium and light with an ample amount of stinging carbonation.

Overall – Decent brew but I wouldn’t go out of my way for it.  Just another beer in the long line of 365.

Rating: C

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Nut Brown Ale by Climax Brewing Company

Don’t try to to get in touch with me tonight…for I will be in combat.  The virtual kind thanks to Battlefield 3, which was released today and man oh man is it good.  No silly Xbox 360 or PS3 version here…straight up PC…the only, and the best, gaming machine that truly matters.  Even know in the end I will probably have more deaths than kills…I will be grinning ear to ear in the process.  Check it out if you are a gamer…you won’t be disappointed.

And what will my beverage of choice be to enjoy with Battlefield 3?  Why Beer #331 is Nut Brown Ale from Climax Brewing Company from New Jersey.  Their version of an English Brown Ale has an ABV of 5.2% and I hope goes along well with some fraggin’.

Appearance – Dark brown color with a bit of ruby red when held up to the light.  The head was massive, tan colored and oh so fluffy.

Nose – A nice roasted caramel malt aroma with a bit of chocolate.  I also got a floral hop thing too…interesting.

Taste – The roasted malts come out first in the taste with a mix of chocolate and caramel.  There was a bit of a coffee flavor also…but not very strong…just there.  A bit of dark fruit…raisins maybe?  Kind of a roasted nut finish to it.

Mouthfeel – A bit thin body wise and pretty low in carbonation.  Nicely bitter.  Very drinkable in that the glass was gone way too soon.

Overall – I enjoyed this and just wish it was a bit heavier in the body.  This was another really good beer from Climax.  It is really cool to see Climax start bottling in 12 oz bottles to compliment there 1/2 gallon growlers.  If you live in New Jersey…seek out some beer from Climax Brewing Company.  In my opinion, they brew the best the state has to offer.

Rating: B+

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Stone Pale Ale by Stone Brewing Company

It was a very nice day here in NJ.  Shame I damaged my arm in a freak curtain hanging incident or I would be out again on the trails riding my trusty steed.  Recently polished desk (makes it really slick), socks, and not paying attention led me to a fall where I came down and overextended my arm at the shoulder as I was trying to brace myself.  I need to rest it…good thing it wasn’t my beer glass drinking arm…

Beer #330 is Stone Pale Ale from Stone Brewing Company.  Escondido, California is where this American Pale Ale is brewed and it is brewed with an ABV of 5.4%.  I am generally a fan of Stone, so let us see how this beer fares.

Appearance – Amber color with a trace amount of a white head.

Nose – A bit more maltier than I was expecting with nice strong notes of caramel and bread.  The hops were there also but in a subdued way with some faint grapefruit aromas.

Taste – The malts are up front here with a slightly sweet bread like flavor.  Then the hops come on, much more pronounced then in the nose, with a nice, and for a Stone brew, not overly bitter grapefruit taste.  Definitely more malty than hoppy.  It had a nice crisp finish to it.

Mouthfeel – Medium bodied with moderate amounts of carbonation make this quite drinkable.

Overall – A very, very good beer from Stone.  I could see this being a nice session brew for football Sundays.  I may have to pick myself up a six pack of this for just that reason to break away from my usual, much more citrus and hoppy, American IPAs.

Rating: B+

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UFO by Harpoon Brewery

Sunday…in October.  Football, mountain biking, beer drinking…is there anything else?  Funny thing happened to me as I was drinking today’s beer.  I was outside lubing and cleaning my bike when I went to take another sip of beer.  I looked into my glass and there was a bee.  Apparently  he was thirsty.  I had only had half of the beer at that point and the rest, with the bee, went flying onto the lawn.  So what was the beer the bee decided to share with me?

Beer #329 is UFO by Harpoon Brewery from Massachusetts.  Brewed in a little town you may have heard of, Boston, this American Pale Wheat Ale (at least that is how BeerAdvocate classifies it even know it says Hefeweizen on it) has an ABV of 5.1%

Appearance – Cloudy pale yellow or gold with a decent white head.

Nose – Kind of faint smelling with a bit of citrus and maybe a bit of that wheat smell.

Taste – A bit of banana with a lemon citrus flavor and that was about it…pretty simplistic.

Mouthfeel – The body rested between light and medium.  There was quite a bit of tight, prickly carbonation.  It had kind of a crispness to it.

Overall – Bleh…nothing to see here…move along.  I hope the bee enjoyed this more than I did.

Rating: D

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Burton Baton by Dogfish Head

I took my wife on a 10 mile rail-trail ride on the old mountain bikes to the Columbia Trail in High Bridge, New Jersey.  The Columbia trail stretches for about 16 miles and uses the an old rail line that was running freight trains from 1876 until 1976.  The South Branch of the Raritan River parallels the trail for most of its length.  It was a beautiful ride winding our way up to Califon, New Jersey and the old train station there.  There is really something quite nice about the forest in the autumn in the North East…even in good old New Jersey…no it is not all smokestacks and strip malls…contrary to popular opinion.  The leaves crunching under our tires, the smell of the woods in general…beautiful.  We both worked up quite an appetite, so pizza it was.  Brick oven, Pizza & Pasta in Manville, Chef’s Special (love the garlic)…doesn’t get any better.  And my beer on tap for this evening?

How about another brew from Dogfish Head from Delaware.  Beer #328 is Burton Baton which happens to be an American Double IPA or an Imperial IPA.  Heavy on the ABV, 10%, that seems par for the course with Dogfish.  Interesting to note is that this is a blend of an American IPA and an English-style Old Ale.

Appearance – A clear amber with a one finger-width off-white head that left some really nice lacing.

Nose – Caramel malts and citrus…grapefruit mostly.  It had a sweet aroma to it.  A bit bready…like crust on Wonder bread of all things.  I ate that stuff like it was going out of style when I was a kid.

Taste – Starts with a bitter bite then mellows into sweet caramel malts.  Pine and grapefruit then take over.  The oak this is aged with shows through with a nice vanilla flavor that is pretty recognizable.  The alcohol is hidden really well and doesn’t really start to show itself until the beer warms up.

Mouthfeel – Medium body starting to tip the scales towards heavy.  Not overly carbonated.  It was a bit harsh feeling.

Overall – This is another really good beer from Dogfish Head and a nice representation of an American DIPA.  I know, I seem to say that quite often…but they do brew some really, really good beers.  I enjoyed this once quite a bit at a slower pace of course because of the ABV.  A really nice beer to end a really nice day.  Till we meet, or I blog again…

Rating: B+

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