Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A few random tastings....

I admit it, I have not been keeping up writing about my tastings. I have been tasting and taken notes but with the whole craziness of the holiday season, time just seemed to slip away. Now on my plane ride to the East Coast for Christmas, I finally have time to break it down.

Lately I have had the pleasure to have tried:
Dogfish Head, Burton Baton, Imperial IPA, 10%
Avery, Brabant, American Wild Ale, 8.65%
Three Floyds, Anniversary IX Fantabulous Resplendence, Imperial IPA, 7%
Stone Brewery, 13th Anniversary, American Strong Ale, 9.5%
The Bruery, Saison Rue, Saison, 8.5%
Sierra Nevada & Dogfish Head, Life and Limb, American Strong Ale, 10.2%

In order of personal preference (which is hard due to they are all different styles):

Stone Brewery, 13th Anniversary This beer is limited due to they release a new version each year. It poured a murky deep red color. It smelled pretty hoppy at first, then a strong deep caramel malty flavor took that over. The taste is a bit fruity, malty, some smokiness to it and finishes bitter and tart. It's pretty smooth tasting, even though you can smell the alcohol. I am curious to see how this ages.

Three Floyds, Anniversary IX Fantabulous Resplendence. This may surprise my other fellow tasters, who weren't that big into this beer, but I really enjoyed it! I think this is another beer that a lot of women, as long as you like hops, will particularly enjoy as well. It's made with Jasmine! It pours clear orange. It smelled like beautiful, floral fresh jasmine tea, slight citrus fruits, and hoppy. It tasted like hops and jasmine tea dancing in your mouth! Not in an overwhelmingly way either. Just beautiful. I would definitely love to serve this one at a party as an aperitif or try to pair it with dinner.

Sierra Nevada & Dogfish Head, Life and Limb.Everyone is making such a huge deal about this beer. I recently saw one go for $80 on ebay! Personally I am hoping this one will get better with age. It was good, not fantastic, and definitely not worth the $80 that people are paying. But for $10, it' s a good beer that I would suggest you age and see if it gets any better.  It poured almost black. It smelled like molasses, raisins, prunes, chocolate but no hops. It tatsed like dark chocolate, coffee, burnt caramel, and it was a bit spicy. It was thick in my mouth and you can definitely taste the alcohol. The spiciness added an interesting character to the beer body. But I am hoping the alcohol will mellow out a bit in a year. I wonder how much the bottles will go for then?

Avery, Brabant. I am honored to have tried this one. A friend brought it back with him from Avery itself. I don't believe it's being distributed that much yet. This beer surprised me when it was poured- an opaque dark chestnut brown with a tan head. It almost looks like a stout. It smells like overripe grapes, cherries, dark malt and vinegar. It tasted like roasted malt, currants, cherry, some sweet tones and a hint of chocolate. Vinegar and Brettanomyces were in the aftertaste and not pronounced and definitely not in the forefront, which was a bit disappointing, especially since I am a huge fan of sour beers.

Dogfish Head, Burton Baton. This beer is an oak aged imperial pale ale. It's a blend of an oak aged English strong ale and their 90 minute IPA.  It poured a clear golden sun orange color. It smelled like a fresh pine forest, melon, grapefruit and orange blossom honey. It tasted like citrus/piney hops, toffee, roasted malts, some honey and a hint of wood. It was interesting to have the malt in there. It's not a huge hoppy beer but I felt the malt balanced the wood and orange aftertaste.

The Bruery, Saison Rue, Saison. This beer was a gift from a friend and being a fan of most Bruery beers and made with Rye and Brettanomyces I was excited to try it. It poured a deep cloudy copper. It smelled like spicy rye bread, orange peel, black pepper, honey and some Brett. I tasted only a hint of rye and Brett and a bit malty, which was surprising for a Saison. It just didn't live up to its aroma.

So there you go. I am updated as of now for all of my random tastings. Hopefully I will be able to update you on the way back from all the delicious beer I will try while in NY!

Monday, December 28, 2009

A little Stout Tasting

Out of all styles of beers, the one that I am not drawn to instantly is Stouts. It's not that I am not a fan, it's usually that there are other beers that I enjoy as other options. Usually Stouts that are more on the heavier and bitter sides are not ones that I enjoy drinking a ton of. It's funny because I started with Stouts in college, the usual Guinness and Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stouts. Guinness, even though most people consider this beer to be 'heavy' -is actually quite light. So to have a Stout tasting was interesting, especially in comparison to each other.

The beers I tried were:
Mikkeler, Beer Geek Breakfast, Imperial Stout, 7.5%
Dogfish Head, Worldwide Stout, Imperial Stout, 18%
Ballast Point, Sea Monster, Imperial Stout, 10%
Three Floyds Brewing, Black Sun Stout, Irish Dry Stout, 5.25%

Amazingly they were all across the board in terms of flavor.  Some were more roasty and bitter while others were more on the sweeter and hoppier side of things.

In order of favorites:
Dogfish Head, Worldwide Stout- This beer is according to the label, 'A very dark beer brewed with a ridiculous amount of barley'.  Of course, I chose the one that's 18%, right? I tend to like sippers!  This beer poured pitch black. It smelled like espresso, dark chocolate, hints of licorice, toasted malt, mixed in with a little vanilla. You can definitely smell the alcohol, although it smelled more like a Brandy or Cognac. The taste is fantastic- Black licorice, almost burnt malts, some raisins, and a twinge of tobacco. This Stout feels more like a Port to me, which I love!  It's sweet and a lot of flavor, one of the best stouts that I have ever tried. I am very happy that it has just been released to our side of the coast.

Ballast Point, Sea Monster. This beer was made in limited quantities and the only reason we were able to try some was because my husband did a trade on Beer Advocate for it. It's not distributed out in the Bay Area. This stout poured ink black and smelled of freshly roasted coffee, burnt caramel and citrus/piney hops. It tasted a bit toasty, with some dried raisins, plums, licorice, toffee, alcohol and subtle hops. What made this stout stand out to me was the hop flavor mixed into it. I usually only taste sweet or bitter stouts, but this one seems to be rounded out and a bit smoother due to the hop content.

Mikkeler, Beer Geek Breakfast. This beer is made with flaked oats and roasted gourmet coffee. It is definitely something heavy for breakfast! It pours black and smells of dark fudge, espresso, molasses and roasted malt. It tasted like burnt sugar, toffee, and roasted malt. It is bitter around the edges but all in all a solid coffee stout.

Three Floyds Brewing, Black Sun Stout. This baby poured cloudy dark brown with a hint of red to it. It smelled like chocolate, roasted malts, and a tinge sweet. It tasted roasty and bitter but with some fruitiness. It was a bit dry and bitter with a slightly leathery finish. It isn't as sweet as it leads you to think it is when you smell it. That was a bit disappointing in my book, but it doesn't make it a bad beer. It was just a bit bitter for my taste. This was another beer that my husband traded for and we also have the  2008 & 2009 Dark Lord in our beer closet from Three Floyds as well that we are looking forward in trying.

All in all, I am definitely getting the Dogfish Head whenever I am in the mood for a stout!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Jug Shop Holiday Beer Series Part 1:Domestic

I know this is a little out of order, as I just posted my blog below about Part 2 of the Jug Shop Holiday Beer series, but I wanted to quickly write about what we tasted Dec 6th (St Nicholas Day) for $20.
This will be short but sweet:

1- Shiner Holiday, 6 pk/$7.99
2- Sam Adams Winter Lager, 6pk/ $8.99
3- Moylan's White Christmas, 22oz/$5.99
4- Ommegang Adoration, 750ml/ $12.99
5- Anchor Christmas, 6pk/ $10.99
6-Deschutes Jubelale, 6pk/ $8.99
7- Marin Brewing Hoppy Holidaze, 22oz/$5.99
8-Sierra Celebration, 6pk/$8.99
9-Abita Christmas Ale, 6pk/$8.99
10-Port Brewing Santa's Little Helper, 6pk/$8.99
11- High and Mighty Home for the Holidays. 22oz/$8.49
12- Lost Abbey Gift of the Magi, 22oz/$11.99
13- Rogue's Santa's Private Reserve, 6pk/$10.99
14- Avery Old Jubilation, 6pk/$6.99
15- Widmer Brrr, 6pk/$6.99
16- Bridgeport Ebenezer, 6pk/$7.99
17- He'brew Jewbelation 13, 22oz/$5.99
18- The Bruery, 2 Turtle Doves, 750ml/$11.99

First and foremost, you definitely get your money's worth. However, we knew a few to skip, so we did just that on a few of them or poured them out.

My top 5 for fantastic Holiday Beers:
1-The Bruery, 2 Turtle Doves
2-He'brew Jewbelation 13
3-Ommegang Adoration
4-Port Brewing Santa's Little Helper
5-Lost Abbey Gift of the Magi

My top 5 for great & drinkable (session, if you will) Holiday Beers (a bit lighter)
1-Deschutes Jubelale
2-Anchor Christmas
3-Avery Old Jubilation
4-Sierra Celebration
5- Widmer Brrr

My bottom choices, mostly for way too overwhelming spice or lacking in overall flavor:
1-Marin Brewing Hoppy Holidaze ( hoppy and allspice spicy, NOT balanced at all)
2- Red Hook Winter Hook
3- Sam Adams Winter Lager
4-Shiner Holiday Cheer
5-Moylan's White Christmas

Jug Shop "Prestige" Holiday Beer Tasting

Being a female and liking beer can definitely be intimidating- no matter what your beer knowledge. So the idea of going to a "prestige'" tasting without my husband and solo wasn't quite the top event on my list, but once I read what we were tasting, I decided to brave the crappy rainy weather and the  'going out to eat in a restaurant solo' factor.

I was not disappointed.

It was at the Jug Shop and it was the 2nd in their 3rd round of Holiday Beer Tastings this month. We tried 12 beers for $40 and some expensive ones at that:
1- Scaldis Prestige de Nuits- $50 for 750ml- caramel, port flavors
2- Scaldis Noel Premium 2009- 13%, $18.99 for 750ml- raisin, pine nuts, currants, sweet malt
3- Scaldis Noel Premium 2008-13%, $18.99 for 750ml -way more pungent than the 2009, maltier and way better in my opinion
4- Fantome Hiver- 8%, $15.99/750ml- lightest of the night, a little spicy, not my favorite
5-Fantome Noel 2008- 10%, $17.99 for 750ml -hoppy yet light, leathery finnish
6- Struisse Tsjeeses, 10%, $8.49 for 330ml- banana clove, hoppy, a bit bitter and dry
7-Mikkeller To:/From:, 8%, $13.99 for  a750ml- heavy, malty, it tasted way off balanced, my least favorite of the night!
8-Mikkeller Santa's Little Helper 2009, 11% $13.99 for a 750ml- hoppy nose, citrus, pine with malt undertones
9- Norrebro Julebryg, 7%, $11.99 for a 660ml- malty nose, spiciest body of the evening, cinnamon too predominant for my taste
10- Howling Wolf Weizenbock, 8% $14.99 for 1 L- apple cider, currants, sweet malty toffee, yum!
11-Glazen Toren Winter Canaster, 9.5%, $15.99/750ml -winter scotch ale, rich malt with vanilla and cinammon
12- Samichlaus Bier- 14%, $119.99 for 3 L, dark dried fruit, sweet malt.

My personal top 3 were:

The Scaldis Prestige de Nuits by Brasserie Dubuisson.
The Scaldis Prestigede Nuits is Scaldis Noel beer aged for 6 months in burgundy barrels from the St. George Vineyard.  It was a pretty fantastic beer, although I didn't think it was worth $50 a bottle, or $45, with the 10% off any beer that was offered to us at the tasting.  I would buy it if it was in the mid twenties price range though, as there are in my opinion really great beers for around that price on the market.  It tasted a bit wild, a hint of sourness (mmm Brett!) with port flavors that lingered on the tongue with a great balance of caramel- not too overwhelmingly sweet.

Howling Wolf Weizenbock
This beer is a bavarian weizen beer, in which they use authentic Bavarian top-fermenting ale yeast. It is modeled after a centuries-old Bavarian style and, like all of their 2009 Cellar Reserve Beers, brewed in strict compliance with the German Beer Purity Law, or Reinheitsgebot.
This beer smelled like spicy bananas and toffee malt.  It tasted like apple cider, currants, sweet caramel and malt. It was a bit on the sweeter side of things for the evening but a sweet caramel weizen beer?
I had never had anything like this style before and I truly enjoyed it!

Samichlaus Bier
This beer is brewed once a year on December 6th for St. Nicholas Day and at a whopping 14%, it is said that it is the strongest lager beer in the world according to the Guinness Book of Records. This beer smells like caramelized malts, honey, eggnog, dates, and a high alcohol nose. It tastes sweet more toffee than honey, with a hint of hops, raisins, plums and a hint of molasses. It definitely goes down dangerously smooth for 14%! Now, I have had this beer before, I even served it at my own Holiday Tastings because I like it so much. But to have it served out of a 3L? That's pretty amazing. Not to mention how much smoother it smelled and tasted.

I also had a great time. I met some great folks- Brian Yaeger of beerodyssey.com,  Rich Higgins, the brewer in the works at the soon to open spot that used to be Eldo's in the Sunset, along with some other great beer drinking geeks like myself. All in all, not a bad night!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

2nd Women who like Beer meetup Spiced up the evening!

Our 2nd meetup, Sugar and Spice and Everything nice was another success! 24 amazing beer loving women came and enjoyed some very tasty holiday brews~ This event had so many attendees that I had to close the event in order to have enough beer for all!

Let me just say, on a side note, what great, amazing women keep showing up! Everyone is so fantastic and it truly gives me great pleasure to talk to you all!

They were a vast range of styles and tastes, as most holiday beers are; due to the fact that the only thing that ties them all together is the fact that they all come out around the holidays to celebrate the season-  so they all should be impressive brews. Whether or not each one was loved by everyone is not the point- but each woman tried all of these great beers and found some that they truly loved as well as finding some that maybe wasn't quite their style (we are all different and have different taste buds!) but all in all enjoyed being able to try so many new different beers.

We talked about different pairings and which ones went well with:
Game, Roast Beef, Fruitcake, Irish Soda Bread, Cimonimo ( a ridiculously strong, creamy salty cheese from Italy), buttery cheeses, Burgers, Grilled meats, Sausage, nuts, vanilla ice cream, cuban cigars, sweet potato pie, stuffing, root vegetables, rice pudding, flan, and dark chocolate, just to name a few.

As well as fantastic places in San Francisco to buy these great beers, like the Jug Shop and City Beer to name a few..

We tried 12 beers, for the 12 days of Christmas and then 1 more 'special' beer was added to make it a baker's dozen....the 2008 Partridge in a Pear Tree.

We tried in order:
1-Jubelale by Deschutes 6.7%, Winter Warmer
2-Christmas Ale by Anchor (magnum) 5.5% ,Winter Warmer
3- Special Holiday Ale  (Collaboration between Stone Brewery, Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales and Nogne O) 8.5%, Winter Warmer
4- Chicory Stout by Dogfish Head 5.2%, Stout
5- Winter Ale by Nogne 0, 8.5%, Porter

6- Solstice d'hiver by Brasserie Du Ciel, 9.8%, Barley wine
7-Adoration by Ommegnag, 10%, Belgian Strong Dark Ale
8-N'Ice 2008 by Chouffe, 10%, Belgian Strong Dark Ale
9-Partridge in a Pear Tree by The Bruery, 11% Quadrupel,
10-2 Turtle Doves by The Bruery, 12%, Belgian Strong Dark Ale
11-Santa's Little Helper by Port Brewing, 10%, Russian Imperial Stout
12- Jewbelation Bar Mitzvah 13th Anniversary Ale, 13%, Russian Imperial Stout

13-Samichlaus, Castle Brewery, 14% Doppelbock

We also had some tasty treats to pair with these fine ales: Cranberry Stolen, dates, dried cranberries, apricot pistachio bread, truffle chocolate, wafers, honey, cheese curds, swiss cheese and candied nuts.

We also had a raffle for $2 where a lucky winner, Ashley, won a Magnum of Anchor's Christmas Ale, a 'Rate  that Beer' notepad and an awesome scarf/wrap I designed. Our 2nd runner up, Jillian, won a 3 year vertical of Old Stock Ale!

Some women even stayed to pour their own beer of Prohibition from our kegerator, while some were adventurous enough to try the pint of beer in which everyone poured out what they didn't like!

A jolly good time was had by all! I look forward to our next 2 meetups:
Belgian Beer and cheese pairing
Beer and Chocolate pairing (open to both men and women)

In the meantime, I will be enjoying some 2 Turtle Doves, Adoration  and Santa's Little helper....until I can't get anymore this year. I am still waiting for everyone's votes!

ON another side note, check out one of our attendee's write ups about this event:
Casi, you are amazing! Thanks girl~

To see more photos from this meetup
click here.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

It's the most wonderful time of the year....

...for BEER that is!

I am getting very excited for our 2nd meetup this Thursday Dec 10th!
I have been busy tasting (tough job but somebody's got to do it) and running around town gathering our tasty Holiday brews to try~

Some of the beers that we will be trying are:
A Chicory Stout made with Organic Mexican Coffee,
A Belgian Ale brewed with Thyme and Curacao Peel
A Dark Belgian Ale brewed with Cocoa Nibs and Toasted Pecans
An English strong ale with perfect blend of five specialty malts
A Christmas beer whose recipe changes year to year
A Jewish beer made with 13 malts and 13 hops

and much more! Don't forget it's $20 cash at the door. Please sign up if you are planning on coming and bringing any friends so I can get the correct amount of beer.
Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice…

We will also be having a raffle for $2 to win a special Christmas beer!

Happy Holidays~