Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A mini impromptu brewery tour at Brooklyn Brewery

OK, so the only plans that we officially had with the family was to go to Brooklyn Brewery during the holidays. Growing up in NJ and living in Williamsburg for a while, I definitely drank A LOT of their Black Chocolate Stout and their East India Pale Ale. So when 2/3 of the family is huge into beer, we thought it would be a good idea to go to the brewery on the Saturday after Christmas.  Crazy as it is, I had never been there before.  I guess the memo didn't get out to all of the family members as some were not too thrilled to go. Plus it was a really crappy rainy day and even I didn't really want to drive into Brooklyn from NJ. But since we were all there and a lot of us wanted to go, I mustard up the strength to drive in.  We did have 1 underage person with us, 16 in fact, and we thought it might be an issue, but it wasn't- thank goodness.

After we finally got to the brewery, the sign said, 'No brewery tours today'. Bummer. The only information on their website was that they had tours every Saturday. At least a brewery tour would have kept the elders interested. So instead we sat around and sampled some of their fine beers on tap: Blast & Backbreaker. They also had their Winter Ale and Pennant Ale on draft, but we stuck with the other two beers.
Blast is an Imperial IPA and 8%. It poured into my beautiful plastic cup, an orange honey yellow. It smelled like citrus, pineapple, floral and a little malty. It tasted like cereal malts at first, then piney citrus hops then a bitter and dry finish. It was a bit on the thin side but definitely a good one to drink on a rainy day.

Backbreaker is an English Strong Ale and 7%. It poured a dark amber into my plastic cup. It smelled of caramelized malts, toffee, caramel with some piney hops. It tasted like sweet roasted malts, citrus hops, caramel, some dark fruits and a toffee finish. It was definitely sweeter than I was expecting but again, a good beer to try when you are trying to keep everyone happy.

So while 1/2 of us were enjoying ourselves and the other 1/2 was cranky and definitely not thrilled with the idea of us just sitting there and enjoying our beers, we realized we could order pizza from close by. At least that kept the others busy while we were drinking.

Then the pizza was done, we still wanted to hang out and drink some beers (we did just come from California and Maryland after all) but others in our group did not think this idea was too grand. Out of nowhere and to our rescue, Jeff Wells comes up to us and says he is going to give an impromptu tour of the brew room. YEAH! All of us interested rushed out of our seats and into the back room. He told us about the history of the brewery, their contribution to being a green company and using wind power and a bit about the process of making beer for those that don't know. Then afterwards I spotted just 1 barrel and asked what was aging in it- Black OPs!  That wasn't even for sale there anymore but Dave just managed to find 2 bottles a few days prior- score!

Then our lovely tour was over and we still wanted to hang out. So finally our group split and we hung out in the brewery for another hour or so before we did some shopping and eating in the 'burg. We did look at their lovely historical bottle collection- with many from before prohibition. Then we went home since it was still rainy out and went to drink some more beer and play some wii.

Beers that helped us through the holidays.

SO this posting is a bit long overdue. Dave and I went to NJ for the holidays and got to try a bunch of beers that mainly don't get distributed out on the West Coast.  And you know how all the stress of the holidays can go and how long it takes to get settled back into your routine. AND it was quite a stressful vacation with my family, so we ended up drinking and trying a bunch of beers to help keep our sanity. But these are ones worth mentioning. These will be a bit random, but definitely worth writing about.

We tried:
Dogfish Head Theobroma- 9% Chili Beer
Dogfish Head Squall IPA-9% Imperial IPA
Dogfish Head Fort-18%- Fruit Beer
Brooklyn's Monster Ale- 11.8% English Barley wine
Stoudts Double IPA- 10% Imperial IPA
Harpoon Leviathan- 10% Imperial IPA
Weyerbacher Riserva- 11.4% American Wild Ale
Ithaca Flower Power IPA- 8% IPA

Great Divide Titan IPA- 7% IPA

Samuel Adam's Utopias 2009- 27% American Strong Ale

Dogfish Head Theobroma- This beer is brewed with Aztec cocoa powder, cocoa nibs from Askinosie chocolate, honey, ancho chillies and annato. The recipe is based on a chemical analyssis of pottery fragments found in Honduras. It's the earliest known alcoholic chocolate drink. It poured a clear bright orange with some lace. It smelled like honey, smokey malts, chili and a hint of cocoa. It tasted light bodied, which was very unexpected. The cocoa was more pronounced in flavor than the chilis- the chili flavor really came out on the end of your tongue. Overall, it was like a flavorful light and crispy malt. It was definitely fun and interesting to try but I am not sure I would want to drink a whole bunch of it.  It was good for the holidays though- and I wonder how well this will age. It does call for a chocolate pairing though, so I managed to score a few bottles for our meetup's Beer and Chocolate pairing Feb 4th and Feb 5th.

Dogfish Head Squall IPA- This beer is a bottle conditioned version of their 90-minute IPA. It is dry hopped with Palisade, Amarillo, Simcoe, Cascade, CTZ and Willamette hops. It poured a cloudy copper red. It smelled quite floral, piney, citrus, pineapple, and hoppy. It tasted citrusy,  mixed with burnt sugar, roasted malts, a hint of spice and it was very dry and bitter at the end. The alcohol was pretty well hidden in this beer for 9%. It was interesting to have the balance of malty flavors with this IPA.

Dogfish Head Fort- This beer is apparently the world's strongest fruit beer. It has over a ton of Oregon and Delaware raspberries that were closed in, slowly, over a 2 month primary fermentation. It poured a beautiful deep red with a hint of orange. It smelled like sour raspberries and alcohol. It tasted sour and tart- huge raspberry flavor, malt, a bit reminiscent of a cordial. There is definitely a warming from the alcohol in this one, but it is 18% after all. This is my type of dessert! It is definitely one of my top favorite beers that I have ever tried, but I am partial to sours and raspberries. Plus my mother insisted on keeping the house a nice chill 60 degrees and when asked to change the temperature up, she said "Put on a sweater" to my sister. Then when she responded saying "I am already wearing one", my mother said, "Then put on a cashmere one". Hence why this warming was so welcomed (did I mention there was snow outside and it was freezing).

Brooklyn's Monster Ale- I actually didn't know this was barley wine until after Dave poured it for me and I tasted it. It poured a golden amber hue. It smelled like malt, brown sugar and a hint of citrus. It tasted like caramel, malt, raisin, alcohol and had a bitter finish. For some reason it just didn't seem as balanced to me as other barely wines that I have tried. It was a bit too much on the bitter side for me for a barley wine.

Stoudts Double IPA- This baby poured a beautiful orange gold sunset color. It smelled very hoppy, a tinge sweet, pine, citrus, grapefruit and alcohol. It tasted pretty hoppy, pine, citrus, a hint of orange, malt, and ended in a dry bitter finish. All in all, it was a pretty good double IPA.

Harpoon Leviathan- This IPA was another one a bit on the malty side. It poured a crystal clear amber. It smelled like hops- pine, citrus, malt- caramel and alcohol. It tasted pretty much as it smelled- hops, pine, grapefruit, malt, caramel, toffee and ended bitter. I did enjoy this one with the balance of the malty side to it.

Weyerbacher Riserva-Over a year in the making, this beer is fermented with Brettanomyces yeast and aged with red-raspberry puree in Oak barrels for over 1 year, then bottle conditioned in champagne bottles. Sounds promising, yes? It poured a murky deep red color. It smelled like tart raspberries and Brett- so good so far. It tasted sour! Raspberries, oak, a bit vinegary. But overall a good pucker in your mouth raspberry sour.

Ithaca Flower Power IPA- This beer poured a clear golden orange. It smelled of hops, malt, citrus and very floral. It tasted of pine, orange, grass, floral with some caramel malt undertones. It was pretty enjoyable actually. I have never had any of Ithaca's beers before so this seemed like a good one to try. I look forward to trying more the next time I am back on the East Coast.

Great Divide Titan IPA- Can you tell someone in our family likes IPA's? I was looking forward to trying this one because it is from Colorado's Great Divide Brewery and I have never had any of their beers before either. It poured a beautiful copper red. It smelled of pine, wood, grapefruit with a hint of caramel. It tasted like citrus, pine, grapefruit, wood with some moderate bitterness. It ended on a caramel malt finish with some bready tones to it. I would have this one again.

Last but definitely not least, Samuel Adam's Utopias 2009. My father-in-law was dead set and lucky to find and bring one of these babies for us to share over the holidays- and with all of the holiday stress-boy did we need it! We had tried it before at GABF 2009- we went back a few times in line for a few servings (especially because it's $200 a bottle).  We definitely  were fans then but after drinking so much beer in one day, sometimes your palate gets a little tainted.  Plus it was the strongest beer in the world for a while at 27% but as I have been told over and over by Dave, there are stronger beers now out there. I guess I should say it's the longest running one then. It poured a very clear mahogany with no carbonation (it is basically a beer liquor anyways being 27%). It smelled like alcohol, bourbon, vanilla, mixed with some raisin. It tasted like a beer liquor- alcohol, bourbon, sweet vanilla, maple syrup, prunes, figs, malty and nutty. Overall absolutely delicious. We managed to score one for our 1 time meetup of Strong Ales, Barley wines and the Strongest Beer in the world on March 19th. You won't want to miss out on that one!

All in all, tasting beers all day that we can't get at home is my kind of holiday. Especially if it's a stressful one. It definitely made staying up until the 'older folks' go to bed to finally have some peace and be able to relax a bit easier knowing there was good beer to be had. I think we will go to Mexico for Christmas next year.

Monday, January 25, 2010

FiftyFifty Tasting at the City Beer Store.

You know it's not a bad Saturday when you are sipping 3 different barrel aged Eclipse from FiftyFifty Brewing at the City Beer Store. Eclipse is an Imperial Stout and barrel aging always gets us out of bed to go try them. Plus any event at the City Beer Store always puts a smile on our face. Everyone is just so nice and welcoming there.

In order of my favorite:

Eclipse- Heaven Hill Rye- 9.5%, $4 for 4oz taster. It smelled like: light roast, malty and a light bourbon. It tasted not too bitter, smokey, a hint of caramel, and toffee. It is very smooth and light at first, then with a big oomph of a flavor punch left in your mouth.

Eclipse- Elijah Craig- 9.5%, $4 for a 4oz taster. It smelled pretty similar to the Heaven Hill Rye with a little bit more roasted flavors and a light bourbon nose. It tasted a bit more roasted, more bitter with  espresso & toffee notes. It has a nice carbonation to it- stronger than the heaven Hill but you can taste and feel the alcohol more in this one.

Eclipse- Jack Daniels- 9.5%, $4 for a 4oz taster. On the nose, you get a bit more caramel and sweet flavors coming out, along with the roasted and alcohol notes. It tasted the most bitter out of all of the 3. You get the roasted espresso flavors, caramel & toasted malts. You definitely feel the alcohol the most in this one. It seems like it should be 12% for the flavor of the alcohol, not 9.5%. It's a little rough around the edges still, which is probably why you couldn't buy this bottle to go- you could only buy the other 2. This one just needs some time to mellow out a bit.

Craig and Beth (the owners at City Beer) had a special where you could buy the Heaven Hill Rye or Elijah Craig any day before the tasting, starting January 2nd, for $19.99. The day of the tasting and afterwards, it went back up to $21.99, so if you pre-bought, then you would have saved 10%, which is a decent deal.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

First meetup with men was a SUCCESS!

Another beer, another successful meetup! This was our first official meetup with men involved and nobody seemed to mind :) Cheers to all of you who braved the crappy weather we have been having! We drank, we ate, we paired! 

Your total top 3 favorite beers were:
 1-Goudon Carolus Cuvee Van de Keizer (surprise surprise)
 2-St Bernardus Abt 12
 3-Houblon Chouffe Dobbelen IPA

 Favorite Pairings:
1-Van de Keizer & Barley Buzzed
2-Hoegaarden & Swiss Beer Fondue 
3-Gueuze & Marscapone

Some interesting pairings that YOU guys came up with:
 1-Chouffe IPA & Rogue Blue Cheese- from Jenny H
 2- Avec les Bons Voeux Saison & barley buzzed- Mark C
 3-St Bernardus Abt 12 & Wenslydale w/cranberries-Todd N
 4-Cuvee Van de Keizer & Rogue Blue- Meredith & Zack

Everyone who came was fantastic and I am always felt with such a proud feeling on how such amazing people you are! Dave and I are very lucky to be able to our knowledge and love for beer to such fantastic people. Until we meet again...

Friday, January 22, 2010

Beer + Chocolate = LOVE is now part os SF Beer Week!

I am very excited to have my meetup event on Feb 5th, Beer + Chocolate = Love, be a part of the amazing SF Beer Week!
Here is a link to the event: www.sfbeerweek.org/schedule

The event may sell out fast as there have been many rsvp's already, but I did add another class for Feb 4th (which is not technically beer week since it's the day before but there are so many amazing events happening, I didn't want to have people be forced to pick and choose).
Here is a link to the Feb 5th event.

Here is a link to the Feb 4th.

Plus we have many more meetups coming up!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Saturday, January 23rd: FiftyFifty bottle release and tasting event....

From the wonderful people at 
The City Beer Store:

*2009 Eclipse Imperial Stout aged in Jack Daniels barrels
*2009 Eclipse Imperial Stout aged in Elijah Craig barrels
*2009 Eclipse Imperial Stout aged in Heaven Hill Rye barrels
*Eclipse Imperial Stout
*Additional FiftyFifty brewer selections
*2009 Eclipse Imperial Stout aged in Elijah Craig barrels
*2009 Eclipse Imperial Stout aged in Heaven Hill Rye barrels
*The Jack Daniels bottle version will not be available to purchase at this time.  We will announce the release once available.
*The futures price is $19.99 a bottle.  Beginning on the 23rd of January, the price will increase to $21.99 a bottle.
Next Saturday January 23rd, you are welcome to pick up your "futures" bottles.  Brewmaster Todd Ashman will be on hand to chat up his lovely brews....weather permitting!!!! 
1168 Folsom St
San Francisco, CA 94103
415) 503-1033

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Bruery Reserve Society Initiation Party

To think we thought signing up for the reserve society with The Bruery at $195, was a bit on the expensive side, little did we know what a fantastic hoe down they had scheduled for us last Saturday (not to mention all of the other benefits that I wrote about in a previous blog here). They had 2 parties: one that started at noon and one that started at 4. We were in the 4-7pm group. We stayed in the hotel literally right next door, hoping that we would be able to just walk right up to the Bruery. Low and behold there was a 5ft fence surrounding the entire block which made us have to walk a 1/2 mile to actually get there. Not that I am complaining (plus on the way back we also gathered enough gusto, or drank enough beer I should say, to jump the fence).
On the beer menu for us (there was more but I tend to stay with the good stuff if it's being poured for free) was:

Hottenroth Berliner Weisse, Oude Tart, Mischief, Dirty Beaver Juice Weekend, Papier, Papier Rye, Papier Bourbon, Papier Brandy, and last but not least, Black Tuesday. You know, just another Saturday drinking all 3 barrel aged Papiers and Black Tuesday...

We started with the Oude Tart since we already bought 6 bottles (our limit in the reserve plus they only made 2600 bottles of it) and hoped it was good. We weren't disappointed. It's a Flander's Oud Bruin Style and 7.5%. It is also aged 18 months in Cabernet barrels. It's a beautiful clear copper brick red color. It had a light cherry aroma, a hint of funk and lots of wood. It was a strong sour at first that fades into a delightful sweetness, very complex! This is the type of sour I truly enjoy. It is a bit reminiscent of Rodenbach Grand Cru, which we just had at our Belgian Beer and Cheese Pairing meetup.

I then had the Mischief. This beer is a Belgian Strong Pale Ale and 8.5%. It poured a deep pee yellow and was a bit cloudy. It had a good thick head on it as well. It smells like American hops- pineapple, grapefruit, pine and it tasted like hops- citrus, pine. It had a slightly sweet and light flavor and finished dry- the alcohol is well hidden in this one.

Next up was the Hottenroth Berliner Weisse, which I wasn't that familiar with. It's a Berliner Weissbier and only 3.10%. It poured a bright yellow. It smelled a bit funky, Brett, not too tart but with a bit of lemon. It tasted like sour lemons, green apples then turns to yeast. It is very light and I learned from some fabulous East Bayers that it is meant to be drunk with sweeten syrups, which I would love to try sometime.

Did I hear Dirty Beaver Juice Weekend calling my name? Wow just wow. It's a Boozy American Strong Ale and 15% and not made anymore. It was only brewed once for Beachwood BBQ's 3rd Anniversary.  The name was taken from suggestions from the crowd at the bbq and each word was taken out of a hat- ala Grateful Dead style. It poured a murky, cloudy mahogany. It smelled of caramel, raisins, prune, bourbon and some wood. It tasted amazing: vanilla, a bit of nuttiness, burnt sugar, butterscotch, bourbon, mmmm. Apparently it is a blend of: Bruer's Anniversary Ale (2010 version, which will be called Coton), White Oak Sap (100% barrel aged White Oak) and a special smoked beer.  I heard a few people saying that it was better than the Melange #3, which I haven't personally had yet but it's on my list (thanks to Brian Yaeger) !

Next up was the special 'release' pourings of all 4 Papiers, which were brewed only once. There was a huge line for each and only 2 of us, but I got the bright idea to run and get more glasses so we each had 2. I got the Bourbon and Brandy while Dave got 2 glasses of the Rye- good call on his part. But then we poured the 2 rye's together and I went to get the only one that was left- which was the regular Papier. The Papiers are all Old Style Ales, with the regular one clocking in at 14.5%, and the barrel aged versions clocking in at 17%. In order of our favorites:
1- Papier Rye-aged in whiskey barrels, lots of oak, smokey, full bodied, smooth whiskey, vanilla, malt and brown sugar.  This one definitely seemed the smoothest out of the 3.
2- Papier Brandy- aged in brandy barrels, boozy brandy, dark oak, raisins, molasses, caramel, malt.
3-Papier Bourbon- aged in bourbon barrels, vanilla, caramel, sweet malt, bourbon, brown sugar. This one did not seem as complex as the other two and seemed to be a little bit past it's prime- at least when you are trying all 4 at once. They all age differently anyway.
4-Papier-25% whiskey barrel aged & 75% oak aged, dark fruits, prune, caramel, sweet raisins, toffee, malt. Definitely lighter then the last 3 but better than I had anticipated. Glad we have at least 1 bottle of this in our reserve.

SO on that note, we went back to try some 'home-made' blends that they were serving:
Sour Beaver- which was 1/2 the Oude Tart and 1/2 the Dirty Beaver Juice.
Two Hookers- 1/2 Two Turtle Doves and 1/2 Dirty Beaver Juice.
They were both pretty good. Obviously the Sour Beaver was more sour while the 2 Hookers was a bit more malty and caramel.  It was a nice idea that I never think about doing, even though Black and Tans are the most obvious thing. I might just start doing more of these blends on my own.

 On a side note, we obviously have the 2 Turtle Doves on its own as well, but I have written so much praise on this beer before. We also had some Partridge in A Pear Tree, which again I have written about both beers- here. It actually was a bit better than the last time I tried it. Still not sure if that's going to age 12 years though.

Last but not least was the 'great pouring' of Black Tuesday. It's an Imperial Stout and 19.5%! It poured pitch black, hence the name, and smelled of: vanilla, dark chocolate, malt and bourbon. It tasted like molasses, brown sugar, chocolate malt, prunes, raisins, espresso, slight anise and an oaky bourbon finish, which actually wasn't that strong of an alcohol burn considering it's 19.5%! All in all, it was delicious.

So my top 3?
1-Black Tuesday ties with Dirty Beaver Juice Weekend
2- Papier Rye 
3- Oude Tart

All in all, it was a fabulous weekend of drinking rare beer. We met some great new SF area friends as well. I look forward to our 'special releases' that we get 1st dips on for being members!

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Lost Abbey and Port Brewing all in 3 hours

My husband Dave, had to go to Orange County for work last Friday and we decided to make a weekend trip out of it-considering it was The Bruery's Reserve Society initiation party on Saturday.  So, I flew down and landed at 6:15, when Dave picked me up and we high tailed it over to The Lost Abbey. Apparently they close at 8pm, it was a 1 1/2 hour drive AND it was rush hour.

Besides getting lost for a few minutes, we still arrived in time to try their Isabelle Proximus, which is a $50 beer. They don't even let you take it to go because people sell it on ebay for $150! The bartender was pretty impressed and awed with our choice of beer as we rushed up to the bar and ordered it. It's an American Wild Ale and 7%.
It poured a very lemon yellow with lots of tiny bubbles. It smelled of pounds of lemons, sour apples and a ton of oak. It tasted extremely tart- again lemons, sour apples, a hint of apricot- reminiscent of Beatification from Russian River. It had a soft mouthfeel, very delicate on the tongue and delicious.   However, it seemed pretty uncomplicated- just pure pucker.

We then tried the 2010 Angel's Share aged in Brandy Barrels, by telling them the secret code "I hear there are angels among us". The 2010 version wasn't out until Saturday (the following day) but we couldn't make it back down again before The Bruery's party as we had plans for brunch with friends. We weren't allowed to buy any bottles either, but was able to have an entire pint of it for $8! The Angel's Share is an American Strong Ale and 12%. It smelled of oaky vanilla, raisins, prunes and brandy. It tasted extremely malty, sweet with tons of caramel/toffee notes, with a huge burnt coffee aftertaste. It wasn't quite balanced for me, the brandy definitely overpowered the other flavors. It also was lacking in carbonation, which I personally didn't think that was such an issue since this beer is heavy and pretty much a sipper (but I know that goes against all beer codes), but it DID bother Dave considering last year's version had no carbonation and we bought a case of it before we knew any better.

We were also able to try their Serpent's Stout, which just came out. We were given a taster of it, which was nice, but we also made some lady friends and shared our Isabelle with them and the bartender. It's an Imperial Stout and 10.5%. This puppy smelled of chocolate, espresso and roasted malts. It tasted like roasted burnt coffee, dark chocolate, a ton of malt and it is extremely dry and bitter- in a good way. You feel the heat from the alcohol but I had no idea it was 10.5 % until I looked it up.  Out of all 3, I actually liked this one the best.

After these 3 classy beers, we were booted out. So we made our way to Port Brewing on our way back to our hotel in the sunny and fabulous town of Placentia. I had Port's Killer Dana Double IPA, which is an Imperial IPA and 8.75%. Dave had Big Dog's Hop Dog 500, which is Big Dog's 500th batch of beer from their brewery. It's an Imperial IPA and 9.4%. The Killer Dana is super dry hopped. You can't smell or taste the alcohol, which is pretty impressive. It smelled of typical west coast hops- citrus fruits, pine, a bit of cedar. It tasted bright and hoppy but not too bitter. The Hop Dog 500 was way more floral in the nose and in taste. You could taste/smell the alcohol in this one. It had a bit of a funk in the nose as well- it was definitely hoppy, more floral than bitter.

So was it worth us driving the 1 1/2 hours, rushing just to spend $50 on a beer? Definitely.  Would I do it again? I would rush to go- but I probably wouldn't buy the Isabelle Proximus again. It was fun to do and fun to have, but I am not sure it is granted the $50 price tag, let alone the $150 one that people are paying for it. Plus we have 1 bottle in our own reserve collection. But it was fun to rush out and get to some of our favorite breweries.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Bruery Reserve Society Membership

I know a $195 price ticket for a reserve society seems steep. However, split between 2 people (my husband Dave and myself) plus all of the perks definitely makes it worth our wild. Unfortunately it is already past the date when you can sign up, Jan 1st 2010 was the cut off. But you can sign up for next years probably around the end of 2010.

For instance, we drove up to The Bruery, which is in the middle of nowhere in OC in an industrial park (what's up with these great breweries in industrial parks? Avery is the same way....I know it's cheaper but it makes them hard to find and you have to totally be on a mission to get there, which we were). Anyways, we drove up on our way back from Palm Springs to pick up our first 'delivery' of a barrel aged Partridge in a Pear Tree (booyah), an Autumn Maple and a White Oak (which is already sold out).  People that signed up later got a barrel aged Autumn Maple instead of the Partridge as they only release 250 bottles of the barrel aged Partridge. 

These three came with the membership price as well as:

-in October a 2010 Black Tuesday and a barrel aged 2 Turtle Doves
-a reserve society hoodie
-Access to Reserve Society-only events-barrel tastings & special release parties
-Access to purchase special bottle release allocations
-15% off all tasting room and Bruery Provisions purchases 
-Access to special growler fills
-First right of refusal for 2011 membership

Plus for the anticipated releases, which we have 1st access to with a 15% discount-

Anticipated 2010 Special Bottle Releases:
Oude Tart - Flemish Red (which we already bought our 6 bottle limit- spent 18 months in Cabernet barrels)
Melange #1 - Flemish Red / Imperial Stout Blend
Melange #3 - Barrel Aged Strong Ale Blend
White Zin - Sour ale with Zinfandel Grapes
White Oak - Blended Barrel Aged Wheatwine / Golden Strong Ale
100% barrel-aged Coton - Barrel Aged Old Ale
Black Tuesday Imperial Stout - Barrel Aged Imperial Stout
- 1
00% barrel-aged 2 Turtle Doves - Barrel Aged Holiday Beer
- Perhaps a few other releases up our sleeves

We tried the Humulus XPA, Rugbrod, White Orchard and Saison Rue,  while we were there picking up our first shipment. And we are going back next weekend for the first Reserve Party 'inauguration'.

-- Orchard White
-- Rugbrod
-- Saison Rue
-- Mischief
-- Hottenroth Berliner Weisse
-- 2 Turtle Doves
-- Saison De Lente
-- Trade Winds Tripel
-- Autumn Maple
-- Humulus XPA
-- Melange No. 5: DBJW
-- Oude Tart

Limited Beers Poured on the Hour (varies every hour):
-- Papier (plus the 100% barrel aged versions)
-- Black Tuesday
-- Partridge in a Pear Tree

So far, so good as far as price goes for us...
Not too bad for a cheap southwest ticket and a cheap hotel in the middle of nowhere OC. At least I know we will have a good weekend...reviews to follow!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Only a few spots still open for the Belgian Beer and Cheese Pairing Jan 16th Jan 22nd!

Hi Everyone
I hope you all had a fabulous New Years and drank some great beers! I have been busy getting our Belgians together and tasting cheese that pair AMAZINGLY with them.

There are a few new open spots for the Jan 16th tasting (Thursday) Please sign up asap so I can figure out the correct proportions to buy...
Belgian Beer and Cheese Pairing

And there are still a few spots left for the Jan 22nd tasting (Friday), which is open to men as well.

It is going to be fantastic and you won't want to miss this unique pairing!
Happy 2010!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Our own 'private reserve' beer tasting

My 5 friends and I gathered around our kitchen table a few Fridays ago to pop out some great beers from each one's cellar to do some beer tastings. We tried a vertical of the Chimay Blue from 2004, 2008 and 2009 (well, not exactly a vertical). We tried a 2007 & 2009 Allagash Curieux, which is a Bourbon- Barrel aged Triple and clocks in at 11%. Also on the list were Russian River's Damnation 23 and Three Floyds Dread Naught.

We poured the Chimays first. The 2009 was a bit cloudy, the 2008 less so and the 2004 was clearer but darker mahogany in color. The 2004 tasted of sweet caramel malts, roasted coffee, a bit earthy and went down smoothly and beautiful. The 2008, unfortunately was skunked, which happens, especially since these are all made in green bottles instead of brown. BUT we did find the perfect pairing with a 2008 skunked Chimay Blue- a Cowgirl Creamery Red Hawk! Who knew? That cheese is great but so stinky it mellowed out the skunkiness of the beer. Pretty crazy how well and random that worked out. The 2009 still tasted like caramel and malt but way lighter, it didn't seem as strong at all. We were all in agreement that we liked the 2004 the best- it was almost a different beer how it aged so nicely!

The 2007 & 2009 Allagash Curieux- both poured a bit cloudy caramel color with a hint of orange. The 2009 aroma was mild but malty, sweet, a little boozy and a hint of oak. It tasted like sweet malts, some vanilla, light hops. In contrast,  the 2007 had way more of a whopping smell and taste of bourbon. It tasted like honey, bitter hops and bourbon! All in all the 2009 was again, a lighter beer in comparison to the aged 2007. I am not sure if they used the same barrels and the bourbon is being used up in each batch or what.

Russian River's Damnation 23 is an 11% triple. Russian River has some obsession with the number 23. It's printed on every bottle and for some reason, every 23rd batch of Damnation is oak aged and sold in the Damnation 23 bottles. It poured a cloudy yellow and left a massive lace. It smelled like citrus, earthy, yeasty, some spicy hops mixed in with some banana and clove. It tasted a bit sweet at first with a little grainy with a spicy hop flavor, slightly bubblegum, banana, some light oak notes. The alcohol seemed to be pretty well hidden in this beer.
Three Floyds Dread Naught is a 9.5% Imperial IPA. It pours a hazy golden amber color. It smelled of sweet citrus hops, mango (some got the mango some didn't), caramel, malty and earthy. It tasted more citrus hops than tropical and bitter. It was incredibly smooth for being 9.5% and had a light aftertaste.

All in all, it was a great night of drinking some fine beers. I look forward to our next one in January!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Old Stock just keeps getting better and better.

Ah Old Stock, this was the first beer in my husband and my relationship. Most remember your first kiss, the proposal, ect but in our case, our first beer. He loves it so, he has collected a bottle from every year except 2000, which he has been looking for for years but just can't find a bottle. We even got a case of the Bourbon barrel aged version and a case of the barrel aged version as a wedding gift! So we are both big fans and know when we see a 2005 vintage version of it on tap???? We had to make our way down to try it.
It was at Monk's Kettle for $7.50 for 8oz pour.  It's a barley wine and 11.5% and boy, was it ever so delicious.
It poured a red raisin color with almost no carbonation. We ordered it with our meal so that it would be warm by the time we were ready to enjoy it's deliciousness. It smelled like brown sugar, caramel, toffee, malt, molasses and port (like I said before, my kind of beer). It tasted amazing. It just ages extremely well. It tasted like roasted nuts, butterscotch, caramel and toasted malt goodness.

It's funny how all of these Winter/Holiday beers have been all over the market, when THIS beer is probably my favorite Winter Beer. It's just perfect to sip on a cold winter's night by the fire.