Tag Archives: Beer Tastings

Local Kicks Column, Weekend Preview….and The Beermonger Mini-Review: Stone Vertical Epic 8.8.08

Hey Hey,

Local Kicks Column here. Kind of past-due now that I’ve had a chance to try this year’s Vertical, but oh well.

Friday Tasting at Rick’s Wine & Gourmet:

-Victory Festbier

-Paulaner Oktoberfest

-Ayinger Oktoberfest

-Just for the hell of it, I’m tasting out Allagash Four. I’m very curious to try it, and it’s my beer department so that’s what we’re going to do.

Saturday Beer Tasting at Rick’s Wine & Gourmet:

-Allagash Fluxus. Tried this tonight. Very cool beer. Ginger is very much the big flavor here, and it drinks so much bigger than the average Belgian White. This is the beer for your friends who give you shit for drinking White Rascal or Southampton Double White. You show ’em.

-Lagunitas We’re Only In It For The Money. Surprise! The boys in Petaluma weren’t going to send this one out (didn’t want to deal with the state’s label approval bullshit—understandable) but apparently changed their foggy little blessed minds. I’ve heard it’s a Belgian-style Tripel.

-Stone Vertical Epic 8.8.08 (More info below)

-Rogue Brewers Ale 2008. Bigass ceramic bottle. Bigass amber hoppy beer. What else do you need to know?

-Weyerbacher XIII. Trying this out tomorrow. Sounds like an absolute monster. A 13.6% ABV Belgian-style (notice a pattern here?) Stout. I’ll be bringing some serious beer food to handle this beast.

So, Vertical Epic…Always a highlight of the Beer Year for me (it’s like Advent, except not). The ’08 version is a Belgian IPA, and boy is it. It really is San Diego by way of Ghent. I’ll give a shout out to thebeersnob who mentioned mango and banana notes in it. Those are there—the yeasts are very specific in flavor and are huge even for the style. The story here is the hoppiness, which is a ballsy lupulin smack that I don’t think the Belgians have quite nailed yet. Even the biggest of the Belgian IPA’s are finesse; nothing too crazy, hoppy but never leaving your mouth slightly numb. This isn’t a Belgian IPA, per se: It’s an IPA-Tripel.

I think the fruity flavors are great in the beer, though it will be interesting to see how it develops over time. I think in about 8-12 months this is going to be a shockingly refreshing Belgian Strong Pale Ale. Almost like some of the De Dolle stuff, but more exaggerated.

Overall, 8.8.08 is kick-ass. Impressive in all kinds of new ways, as the guys at Stone (who don’t spend a lot of focus on Belgian-style ales, thought that seems to be changing) keep upping their game. Good on ya, gargoyle. See you Saturday if you can make it out.

Beermonger

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Weekend Tastings & the Youtube Clip of the Week!

This week’s clip features my favorite U.S. Women’s Gymnastics Team member, Alicia Sacramone. Yes, I’ve logged some time with the Games this week…Anyway, here she is knocking a douchebag out.

Excellent.

So, Friday night it’s gonna be Oktoberfests and Pumpkin Ales:

-Brooklyn Oktoberfest

-Brooklyn Post Road Pumpkin Ale

-Southern Tier Pumpking

Also, we’ll be trying the excellent Abita Pecan Harvest Ale. Weihenstephaner Fest Bier and Hacker-Pschorr Oktoberfest just arrived, so they might get cracked open as well.

Saturday I’ll have Devin from Dogfish Head in. We’re in between special releases, so I might bring some goodies from home to taste. At this point the table’s looking like:

-60, 90 and120 Minute IPA (120 batch bottled July 7th)

-India Brown Ale

-Festina Peche

-Midas Touch

-Black & Blue

And whatever else I can scrounge up. It’ll be a good time as always. See you this weekend at Rick’s!

Beermonger

p.s. I’ve caught Olympic fever. One thing is seriously bothering me, though: The commercials for ‘Knight Rider—The Series’. Really? As opposed to, ‘Kight Rider—The Musical’? Actually, I might get into that. Only if Drunk Hasselhof plays the lead again, though.

Seriously, this looks like it’s going to suck. Hard.

Tasting Lineup Change and a Surprise…

Heads up,

Redhook Sunrye is out of stock, so we’ll be tasting out the Redhook Autumn Ale instead.

The surprise is that I’m getting a case of Southern Tier Pumpking for the weekend. I’ll likely be featuring it next Friday, so if you can’t make it out this weekend no worries.

Beermonger

Friday Tastings for August

Hey,

As I receive more and more Fall-themed beers (Octoberfests, Pumpkin Ales and Autumn Ales), I find I have no room on the Saturday tastings for them. So, every Friday night throughout August, I’ll be tasting the lastest arrivals from 5-8PM. This week:

Hofbrau Oktoberfest

Spaten Oktoberfest

Clipper City Balto Marzhon

Lancaster Octoberfest

Expecting Brooklyn Octoberfest and Post Road Pumpkin next week. We’ll see what else happens…

Beermonger

Oops…

Ok, so apparently I waited a little too long to submit this week’s column and I missed the deadline. Oh well, it is what it is (that’s for my fiance, who has recently taken to constant vocal disdain of that phrase). But Local Kicks‘ loss is your gain, as you all get a (very) revised and uncensored version of this week’s column.
Without further ado…


The Beermonger: Mahalo, M&*%#*f*$&@^!!!

So it’s August and yet again I think about the beach. I think about vacations and relaxing and all those things that other people do. August is my most cynical month of the year: It’s been seven years since my last legitimate vacation. Seven years of hauling ass to try to pass for ‘getting by’ in Dick Cheney’s America. August is when I feel it the most. August is the last chance for escape. But with a full schedule of events and beers, there’s no hope for me yet again this year. From September on I won’t really have time to think too much about being tired or wanting a break as it’s practically a dead sprint through the holidays for those of us in retail. It’ll be one arrival or festival or tasting after another until one day I’ll wake up and it’s January 1st and I have inventory to count while massively hungover. Amid all of this daydreaming and envy comes the recent arrival of beers from Hawaii’s Kona Brewing Company.

Hawaii. Land of Spam and honey. A wild Technicolor-shirted endless summer surf dream where it’s sunny and beautiful everyday. Poi. Polynesian/Asian/American foods smashing into each other creating fascinating new flavors and dishes not to be found anywhere else in nature. Slack Key lap steel laid back wonder. Hawaiian chicks…

Aloha means Im single...

"Aloha" means "I'm single"...

So yeah, I’m stuck in the middle of the swamp that is the Mid-Atlantic wishing against wishes that I could get away and what shows up? Hawaiian beer. Someone up there is pissing on me. I figured I should try the beers, at least. Glad I did.

Kona was founded on the big island in 1994 by the father and son team of Cameron Healy and Spoon Khalsa. Their beers reflect where they’re from. They’re easy yet complex, expressing that aura of beach life that is the rush of everything important and massive in the universe being condensed into the simple chant of tides and the breeze.

Longboard Lager is smooth and refreshing—great for us as we enter the dog days of summer. It has a nice hoppiness that gives it a crispy edge. Longboard is a great beer for hanging outside or for a lawn work break. I could see it on a newspaper-covered table as my family works its way through a bushel of crabs or three. If every lager were as fine and round and clean as this one, what a world this would be. Think of all the clean feel of an Oberon or Hop Sun with the flavor of the freshest Lager you ever pulled from your dad’s cooler when he wasn’t looking.

Fire Rock Pale Ale is a “Hawaiian-style” Pale Ale that has a slightly copper color as a result of its malt addition. On top of that it has a forward but balanced hop character that satisfies the hophead without being too much for the average drinker. I’d rate the hoppiness somewhere between Sierra Nevada Pale and the new recipe Lagunitas Dogtown. In the same way that Clipper City’s Loose Cannon is a perfectly balanced IPA (even though it’s not called an IPA), Fire Rock is a perfectly balanced Pale Ale.

The beer I’ve found most interesting so far is Wailua Wheat Ale. Named for a waterfall on Maui, Wailua is a bright wheat beer that is brewed with passion fruit, giving it a slightly bitter but sweet flavor that is absolutely perfect for the summer. I wasn’t sure what to expect from Wailua Wheat; I’m pretty familiar with passion fruit and know that it’s an intense flavor that can easily be overwhelming. But the wheat seems to round out the passion fruit without the brewers having to add a cloying amount of sugar to make it work. This is the more obvious comparison to beers like Oberon, but the fruit takes it someplace else. It’s very clever and very well done.

Redhook Brewery representative Stacey Huffman will be joining me at Rick’s Wine & Gourmet this Saturday, August 9th from 12-5PM to help me introduce the Kona beers and show off Redhook’s Sunrye summer seasonal (which I haven’t tried yet but I’m a sucker for rye beers, so…). Then again, maybe you’re out of town, enjoying the summer, pool or beachside sucking down some kind of iced cocktail without a care in the world. In which case, go fuck yourself. I kid, I kid—enjoy. really.

If you’re in town, however, swing by and try some of these great Hawaiian brews with me. We’ll bitch and gripe and moan about how we all deserve a month-long vacation every year and rail against the upper class for the sport of it. Then again, I work about 10 minutes from Old Town, so maybe I’ll put a cork in the workers’ revolution. Either way, come by and check these beers out—it won’t be white sands and blue waters, but it’ll be fun anyway. Until next time.

Beermonger

p.s. This is very much the ‘Director’s Cut’ version of the column I’d originally written. This would never get published on Local Kicks. I have to admit, I had a lot more fun with this.

News: Green Flash Price Jump Aug. 1st/Saturday Tasting/Manny to the Dodgers?

Currently drinking: Since I’m on the job, I’m enjoying a Dominion Root Beer. Not as mind-shatteringly good as the Abita, but it’ll do for the moment.

So, Just got word the other day that Green Flash prices are jumping as of August 1st. Currently, my stock of West Coast IPA is priced at $10.99/6pack and $42.99/case. My next shipment will go up to $11.99/6pack and $46.99/case. I have about 7 cases of West Coast in stock, so if you want to stock up do it now.

Also, the bombers are going up as well, but that shouldn’t be as severe. I’m expecting a jump of $.50 to a dollar per bottle. I’ve stocked up on everything.

The beer tasting for Saturday, August 2nd will include:

-Flying Dog Dogtoberfest

-Castelain St. Amand Biere de Garde

-Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale

-Sam Smith’s The Famous Taddy Porter

The Taddy Porter makes me especially happy. Back when I was working in McLean I used to sell a ton of this stuff, and I often kept it in my fridge. One day, I went to place an order and was told that the distributor wasn’t carrying it anymore. So just having it available again makes my week.

I don’t have anything to add to the Manny trade except–really? Just put up with the guy. I’m not even a baseball fan and I know if you have a clutch Hall of Fame bat in your lineup just let him be an annoying pain in the ass and let him keep winning for you. I haven’t seen any signs of him breaking down, so I really don’t get it. Then again, football is right around the corner, F1 is in full swing and the next UFC card is never far away, so I should be fine until the WWE *cough* I mean NBA comes back.

Ok, enough wasting time at work. Late.

Beermonger

Savor, NoVA Summer Brewfest thoughts

Yeah, so that whole ‘I’m going to catch up on writing’ thing? Not so much, I know.

Anyhoo, I wanted to lay down some thoughts on the Savor event now that any and all relevance they might have had is gone and give a brief report on this past weekend’s Summer Brewfest.

Overall, I was very impressed by Savor. The setting was great and the collection of brewers and breweries was outstanding. I’m not sure how I feel about the layout though. The semi-circles of tables that lined the outside of the room caused a lot of traffic jams and made the food impossible to get to at times. Not good for an event that is supposedly about the pairing of craft beer and food. I was at the Friday night session, and I’ve heard some things said about the crowd that night. Yes, there did seem to be an inordinate amount of Hill staffers there as well as beer industry folks (myself included). But I can’t tell you how many customers of mine I ran into, and I think there were a fair amount of true Beer Geeks. The only problems I had with the crowd was:

1. The Hill people seemed to sweep in a poach all the food, and

2. The whole “Dress to Impress” idea kinda got blown up when I saw my first fanny pack of the evening. I sweated it out in my sport coat and Jo said she felt a little silly and overdressed (even though she looked fantastic). Fucking tourists. Sorry, that’s the native DC/Metro in me, but still…

Really, in the end I thought Savor was a success in showing off the creativity of craft brewers. The tickets were pricey, but I think the collection of that many great brewers in one room made it all worth it.  Highlights:

Russan River, especially Supplication. Easily the beer of the show for me.

Avery15 and Maharaja. Great beers, and meeting Adam Avery during the week leading up to Savor was very cool. He couldn’t have been cooler to me.

Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron. Every time I have this beer it stuns me, and not just because of the ABV. I read an interview in Draft this month with Jim Koch from Boston Brewing where he said that Palo is an example of “fearless brewing” and I couldn’t put it any better.

Clipper City Loose Cannon. The only beer they brought and they paired it with three different foods. Ballsy. Worked. This is a beer that I just can’t seem to order enough of for stock and every time I try it I see why.

Flying Dog Kerberos. The new Tripel. These guys seem to get better and better all the time.

-Meeting Garrett Oliver, Charlie Papazian, the guys from Draft, All About Beer, etc. Really, that was friggin’ cool. I’m still relatively new to the beer business, so there’s a lot of folks I haven’t met yet. It was nice to meet some of these guys that I’ve heard and read about.

This past Sunday I went to the NoVA Summer Brewfest. I’ve heard a lot about the Old Dominion Fests, and how this may be the event to replace it. I never made it to the Dominion Fest but I really had a good time at Brewfest. There were some excellent beers out for tasting, the one cover band I heard was awesome (they had a female singer that Jo and I were both really impressed with, and that’s saying something) and plenty of volunteers. I didn’t see one unmanned booth. Admittedly, there weren’t a ton of new beers out, and many brewery reps that folks might have been expecting weren’t there, but to be fair there were about 3 or 4 other fests happening up and down the coast this weekend, so guys were kinda spread out. Devon from Dogfish had a great selection of beers, though, as did Tomfrom Clipper City with the new Oxford Organic Raspberry Wheat as well as the Oxford Organic Amber out of a firkin (which was all kinds of kickass). Worth the drive, worth the ticket price; can’t really ask for more.

And with that, I’m out. I’ll try to catch up some more later. ‘Til then.

Beermonger