Sometimes while standing in the beer aisle and contemplating life, I cannot decide what style of beer will be on my menu for the evening. With more and more quality beers showing up at my local grocer, it is starting to become a little overwhelming. When those beer panic attacks happen, I usually grab the nearest company sampler pack to cover all of the necessary beer bases. That was last night, and my choice came from the very respectable Sierra Nevada.
The Beer Camp sampler is quite amazing. Sure, a little early in the review, but let’s just get that out of the way. This sampler is in a whole different class of sampler, as the company runs a contest to bring in different home brewers to help make some interesting beers. Great concept, and even better execution. Let’s start part 1 with the Oatmeal Stout:
The beer pours pitch black, with a larger than normal tan head. The smells off of the top are of nice bitter chocolate, mixed with roasted malts. Tasting, this beer hits you with those familiar favors, but also with hints of coffee, and a small but noticeable hint of hops. Maybe it is just my mind playing tricks on me, but I always expect that familiar Sierra Nevada hop flavor with all of their products. I can taste a bit of hops though, and it makes this beer very smooth. To say that this beer is smooth and easy to drink would be an understatement. I would almost describe it as silky.
As per the norm, this beer ranks high for me. I love Sierra Nevada’s products, and this beer is no different. This is the quintessential stout in my house now. Yes, I just said that about Founders Breakfast Stout a couple weeks ago. This beer tops it. Hands down. My new favorite stout, and now placed into my top 5.
Well done Sierra Nevada, now put this beer in a six pack. Or at least a single big bottle.
For most beer lovers, Samuel Adams is a household name. Their beers have been around for quite some time, and some might argue that they put craft beers on the map. One of the great things about them, since they are a larger craft brewer, is that they can put their money where their mouth is, and develop newer beer styles, and experiment with different flavors. Case in point would be their “Barrel Room Collection.” Lets take a look at one of the beers that came from experimentation in their barrel room. Enter the Thirteenth Hour:
This beer pours into your glass like a nice, normal stout. Oil black appearance, with a nice, very pronounced khaki colored head. The carbonation is very lively with this one, almost like a soda, which might give you the wrong impression of this beer. This beer smells very nice once the cork is popped, with flavors of darker sweet fruits taking the stage. Taste-wise, this beer hits you at once with a rush of those darker fruits, but then rides out with some familiar stout flavors, and even has a slight sour touch. The sourness mixed with the heavier than normal carbonation reminded me of a Kriek, but my experience of that style is very limited. The Belgian flavors do come out in this beer, and you can also slightly taste the oak of the aging process. Overall, this beer is very interesting, and very easy to drink. The flavors are a great compliment to each other, and I found myself wanting to drink more of it. Top that off with a catchy looking bottle and that would be a winner in my book.
Whether you like Samuel Adams or not is a moot point, this beer is interesting enough to give a try. I found myself enjoying it the more I drank it, and was quite sad once the huge bottle was empty. I plan on trying out the other three styles of the Barrel Room collection before they disappear. Well done Sam Adams!
Fall has really arrived here in Southwestern Ohio, and with that comes darker style beers. That said, starting earlier this month, Founders Brewing, out of the state up North, released bottles of their fabled Breakfast Stout. With the draft release being today, it is only fitting that I tackle this one on a Friday night. Breakfast for dinner? Yes please. Enter the Breakfast Stout:
To get this started, let’s have a story: I have wanted to try this beer for some time. My first experience with it happened at a friends wedding. After one or two too many rum and cokes, a friend handed me a bottle of this and proclaimed, “This is one of the greatest beers that I have ever had!” Instantly, I was intrigued. At this point in the evening, the wedding reception had moved into the hotel bar. In my rum clouded vision, I insisted that the bartender should open this beer for me, as I did not have an opener. He politely told me to take my drunk ass back to my room. I then, when he was not looking, proceeded to try to open this beer on the fancy marble counter top. After a few tries, much to my dismay the bottle was still intact, and now in the hands of my wife after she caught me in the act of trying to open the bottle. Fast forward to the next morning, and the bottle had disappeared, but my interest in this one was still hanging on. To this day, I am not really sure what happened to that bottle.
Enter today. After securing a 4 pack of this beer, it was finally go time. The beer pours nice and dark, like a good stout should. This one however, has a very pronounced head. Aroma wise, nice notes of coffee and roasted malts hit your nose. When the beer hits your taste buds, you will be hit with flavors of coffee, malts, bitter chocolate, some oatmeal flavor, and more coffee at the finish. Carbonation is spot on, this beer feels good in your mouth. It basically makes you want to have another. Careful with this beer though, as it clocks in at 8.3% ABV, which is heavy duty for a stout. It blows my mind that this beer is so high in ABV, as you cannot taste the alcohol at all. This one is very enjoyable, and it sets the new standard in my household for a stout!
When you think of stouts, if the first beer that pops into your head is a Guinness, you NEED to drink this beer. It will completely re-write your opinion of the darker craft. I will even go on to say that I enjoy it above and beyond my favorite stout, Sam Smith’s Oatmeal stout. This beer delivers, so go give it a shot! It pains me that it has taken so long to finally drink one of these amazing beers, but boy am I glad that I did. Once again, Michigan delivers the good stuff. I really need to look more into property up there…
Well done Founders!
One amazing quality about craft beers, is that more and more, they are showing up in the most random of places. When I think of craft beers, one of the I places that I do not think of is Youngstown Ohio. More historically known for its former steel industry, I only think of it as the family lands of my wife’s side of the family. Now however, Youngstown has an up and coming brewery by the aptly named Rust Belt Brewing Company. Enter their Coke Oven stout:
The term “coke oven” refers to Youngstown’s steel heritage, not the world famous soda. As a history buff, this little historical nod makes me happy. So let’s see how this stout fares…
The beer pours a nice oil black in the glass, with barely if any head. Scents of bitter malts, and a tiny bit of coffee flavors. Taste wise, roasted malts hit you first thing, with a tiny hint of chocolate bitterness. Not much really jumps out at me with this beer, very average at best for a stout. The big downer for me with this brew however, is that it tastes like a soda. The carbonation is a little high for my tastes in a stout. Maybe instead of naming this beer after the steel heritage of the city, they are actually referring to Coca Cola. Just a thought…
I love supporting smaller scale breweries, and from their beer list I will try their products again. However, when it comes to stouts, I will be passing on the Coke Oven. Be sure to check out their website here to see what else they have to offer.
San Diego, also known as the whale’s vagina. Also home to around 50 or so craft breweries. During my recent two weeks out west, I tried to find some of the beers that I used to really enjoy and cannot find here in Ohio. I also tried to discover some new beers to lust after once my trip was over. That was accomplished thanks to some friends who live in the quiet little mountain town of Alpine, which is just around 30 miles east of the city. Little did I know that Alpine was the home to one of the finest little breweries that is known to man. You might think that is an exaggeration, but you would be wrong. Enter the Alpine Beer Company:
Located off of I-8, on the main strip of Alpine, you will find this little gem of San Diego county. The brewery is split into two sections, which oddly there is a book store in between the two sides. The book store did look interesting, but every time that I was by the brewery they were closed, which was a good thing since I like book stores. Anyway, the first area that my friend and I walked into was the brewery sales area, which had a variety of Alpine Beer company goods, and also sells their beer directly via growlers and 22oz bottles, no sixers here.
After spending some time chatting with their friendly staff, with me basically pestering them to ship beer to Ohio, (Which was responded with, “Yeaah, that’s not going to happen”) my friend and I walked to the other side of the beer company, their brewpub.
This is where the magic happens, when it comes to beer. Everything that I had from them was delightful. Sometimes I overuse that word, but drinking their beer was downright enjoyable. First up was a bourbon barrel aged Russian imperial stout by the name of Odin’s Raven.
Odin’s Raven was an amazing beer. What I remember: The bourbon alcohol flavor hits you at the first sip, but then you are overtaken by malty chocolate tones, but not too sweet, and finishes off like a stout should. It also clocked in at around 11% ABV, which makes it a very heavy hitter. Definitely a must have from a company that is more known for their hop varieties.
Next on my plate was their Chez Monieux, which was a Belgian style Kriek. I have not had too many of this style to give a great run down, but it was a sour, tart cherry carbonated blast that had a dry wine like finish, which makes sense, since it was aged in wine barrels. Good, but not normally my thing. I was glad that I had it though.
I finished off my tasting with their Alpine Ale, and also some of their Nelson IPA, both of which were again, delightful. Add these beers to the two that I have reviewed earlier in the week, and that equals one of my new favorite breweries. Be sure to check out their website here to learn more about this fantastic company, do not miss them if you are in the San Diego region. Big thanks to my friend Jimmy for taking me to the place (And letting me stay at your house!), and my friend Thom for the recommendation!
Well done Alpine!
During my time out here in the West Coast, I have found myself scanning and scanning the beer isles looking for brews that I have not seen before. There are so many regional beers on this side of the states, that this process can take quite a bit of time. Luckily, I am staying at a friends house out in the amazing mountain town of Alpine, which just so happens to have a brewery. What a sweet coincidence. While I have not been to the brewery itself, (coming soon I promise) I did happen to find this guy hanging out at the local beer store. Enter Alpine Beer Company’s Captain Stout.
This beer pours out of the 22 oz. bomber bottle like a good stout should, nice and black. A decent (for a stout) head comes with that, which is more sticky than one might expect, and leaves a nice lacing pattern on your glass. Smell wise, this is a straight up stout, with a good malt aroma. Taste wise, this beer delivers. It has a nice, smooth, creamy flavor, with notes of chocolate mixed in as well. Definitely one of the better stouts that I have found in my travels. I will be taking a bottle or two back to Ohio with me when that time comes!
Since I am staying in Alpine for the next few days, it is only fitting that I make a trip to the brewery to see what else is on tap with this brand. If everything else is a fine as their stout, then they have a new believer. Be sure to check out their website here.
Well done Alpine!
I will be the first to admit, that Dogfish Head out of Delaware is not my favorite brewery. My main reason is that I feel that they are a little overpriced, especially for the random, eclectic mix of brews that they produce. I know, you get what you pay for, but in my opinion I feel that there is little “bang” for my buck. Anyway, after that little disclaimer, enter their Chicory Stout:
This stout is interesting. Chicory is one of those flavors that you either love or hate. Luckily, I like it, hence the purchase of this random stout. Anyway, the beer pours like a stout should, nice and dark, but with a little more head than you would expect, with a nice unexpected off white coloration to it. Smell hits your nostrils with hints of coffee, roasted malts, and of course the chicory. Taste really follows suit with the smell, with a bit of bitter chocolate tossed in as well. Overall, not a bad beer.
This is a good beer, but I will say that the price makes me not want to buy it again. It is good, but not exceptional. For it’s price of $8.99 for a 4-pack, it should deliver, and it does not. The price would be fair for a 6-pack, but I will stick with a variety of other stouts the next time the craving hits. Sorry Dogfish Head, its not you, its me.
In other news, this has been brought to my attention:
Not sure if you knew, but God spells music Clutch.
Back a few years ago, a friend handed me a couple bottles of Sam Adams with plain labels, the only words printed on them were, “Coffee Stout.” That was it, nothing more, nothing less. They were part of a tasting event where the taste testers could vote on which beer became the next specialty six pack. The contest was between this “Coffee Stout” and a blackberry witbeer. Not to anyone’s surprise, the witbeer won, and the coffee stout fell to the wayside. Disappointed that I would never get to drink that beer again, I made them last for at least two days. What can I say, it was good. Once they were gone, I began my search for a similar style of beer infusing the bitterness of coffee with a darker, heavier malt beverage. Lots of different brands came and went, but I still thought of my first coffee stout.
This year, Sam Adams relased unto the world their winter seasonal 12 pack, and lo and behold, there is a beer called the “Black and Brew Coffee Stout.” Yes please. Let’s see how this beer holds up to how amazing I remember it, as this was in my beer tasting infancy…
For starters, I am a little biased, for I love coffee. I would say that I am as much of a coffee snob as a beer snob. Well, maybe not that much, but thanks to my in-laws, I have been well versed in the world of delicious java. And this beer has the java. Straight from the label, it states that they use 1.5 pounds of Sumatran coffee per barrel of beer. That is a lot of coffee.
The beer pours more bubbly than you might expect, due to it being a version of an English stout, rather than a traditional Irish one. The beer has WAY more carbonation than a silky Guinness, but this beer is a whole new beast. Roasted coffee beans is the first taste that hits my mouth, hangs out for a bit, and the beer finishes with a nice, bitter bite of dark chocolate. Very pleasing to the taste buds. One of my favorite aspects of this beer though, is the smell. Being a zookeeper, my sense of smell is somewhat distorted, but the scent of this beer cuts through my weakest sense and hits me like my kitchen early in the morning. Coffee is the best part of waking up right?
This beer is a pretty good one if you are into coffee. It is not an overpowering flavor by any means, but it is definitely there when you take a sip. Bravo goes to Sam Adams for at least making this beer to throw into their holiday 12 pack, hopefully they will start making a full on dedicated sixer of this delicious beer. If they made the blackberry witbeer (Which is awful in my opinion) they could add one more sixer variation. At least we can all hope…
Busy day today for the month of biking. Two big family functions half way across the state, but still got in a quick ride once we returned to Milford. Quick little ride with a decent climb into Indian Hill. Then a fast descent back down to Terrace Park. In TP, linked back up to the Little Miami bike path for the trip home via a short, but technical single track climb. I am a little surprised at how well the T500 climbed while off road. Luckily, the trail was dry, or I would have been pushing the bike back to the path. Once back to Milford, I snapped the photo above, and continued home. That welcomed me with homemade pizzeles, two dancing ladies jamming Bing Crosby, and a Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal stout. Made me stop to realize how blessed we are to be living in such amazing times. Take time to stop and realize that from time to time. Enough of that, here is the map:
Today is a special day. December 5th, a day that most people do not even recognize. Today is the day that beer was given back to the people just 78 years ago. If you still have no idea what I am talking about, today is the anniversary of the 21st amendment, the repeal of prohibition.
For my personal celebration, I pulled from the lineup of my favorite local company, Mt. Carmel. I had never had their stout before, and after searching around for it, yesterday it made the journey back to Milford with me. So without further ado:
I love stouts, absolutely one of my favorite types of beer. This beer is a solid representation of what a good stout should be. Dark appearance, a tan colored head, and a somewhat bitter chocolate flavor round out this beer. It is more carbonated that the stereotypical stout, like a creamy Guinness, but a great flavor overall. This is a solid beer that does everything well, but nothing superbly. A “Jack of all Trades” if you will. That is in no way a knock on the brew, it is good. My opinion could very well be a little altered due to the fact I have been drinking Imperial stouts of the Russian variety lately. Regardless of that, this is a good beer, which I am glad that I finally found. Once again, well done Mt. Carmel.
Hopefully this finds you drinking a finely crafted beer on this special day in beer history!
When the weather starts to turn chilly here in Ohio, a change also starts in my beer preferences. The IPAs, pale ales, and other hoppy styles of brew start to take a backseat to the more malty, darker, heavier ales that will warm the soul in the cool fall air. For some reason, this is just a normal shift of life. Anyway, a beer that has always been on my list for this time of year, but never ended up on my palate was this:
Enter North Coast Brewing Company’s Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout. This is a mammoth of a beer, just the way I like it: Dark, heavy on the alcohol content, and a pleasure on the taste buds. At 9% alcohol, this is not your grandfather’s Guinness. Not that there is anything wrong with Guinness, it is a fine brew, but Old Raspy is a whole new ballgame. At double the alcohol content, there are flavors that you will taste that you would never dream of in a normal stout. Hints of chocolate, alcohol and roasted coffee all blend together nicely and also add a nice warming sensation. Such a delightful beer is meant to be taken in slowly. In my opinion, it makes for a great fire pit beer.
This is a style of beer that was made for the long voyage from England to Russia in the 18th century. With such a great taste to this beer, you can tell the folks over at North Coast really know what they are doing, and that they really have an appreciation for history. Especially beer history. This one is a classic.
For such an occasion, like the royal wedding for example, I find what little British heritage I have in my blood and force myself to celebrate. So, here’s to you, British people, for having a wedding that the majority of the world tuned in for. Did I? Yes. My daughter and I watched when we woke up and chatted about the castles, princesses, and horses that flashed across the television over our morning drinks, myself black coffee, and for her chocolate milk. I have to admit, it was very pretty. For the 80 million pounds that it cost, it very well should. I find the whole monarchy over the pond very interesting, and intriguing, but I am glad that we here in the states have no such thing. I am fine with our expensive politicians and celebrities. But anyway, here is a toast to the happy couple of one of my favorite brews, Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout. Glorious beer, straight from England. It is downright silly that the whole world has been caught up in this event, but at the same time it is nice to see something positive on the news.
Enough about that. While reading about the royal nuptials today, I stumbled upon a newer bicycle company that I had not heard of before.Airborne Bicycles. You might remember that name from a few years ago, that sold only direct if I remember right. Anyway, based out of Dayton Ohio, they are just starting it seems, trying to reestablish the name while making quality products. Just a quick glance through their website and you will find everything from the budget hardtail to the disc equipped cyclocross bike. Very refreshing to see a newer company putting out a quality product at a decent price. Very cool. Even though I am not getting the mountain bike miles that I would like, and I am trying to sell my single speed, I would love to try out one of these, even have one permanently in my garage. All in due time, but at their prices, it seems that I could make that work.
So all that said, I tip my stout to the happy couple, the people across the pond, and to you Airborne Bicycles. Such a nice way to end a fantastic day.