Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Kuhnhenn American Imperial Stout

From the back of the bottle:

"This black ale has a malty sweet aroma, a roasty coffee like flavor, and a nice balanced hop bitterness.  This is a bold full flavored stout."

First and foremost I have to give a shout out to Steimie from Beer Advocate for this and the bottle I will be reviewing after this (on a different day) but that bottle will remain a mystery but it has been something I have wanted for a long, long time after having only a sample of it at 2012 Dark Lord Day.  Until then, I have this bad boy and I think I'll live waiting just one or two more days!

I poured fairly aggressively out of the bottle and it was pitch black all the way from bottle to glass.  I couldn't even see any light through the pour so I hope that gives you an idea of how dark this is.  Really no head to speak of except for maybe a half finger of a really thin head and that dissipated incredibly quickly and there is really nothing at all hanging on the sides of the glass.  When i swirl the glass the sides of the glass are coated with a brown film (reminds me of old coffee sticking to the coffee mug).  When it settles back into the glass the small head that is created is a deep, dark brown.  In short, this looks like chocolate syrup decanted into a fancy glass and I am okay with that.

Upfront on the nose I get a nice roasted coffee aroma to it.  It isn't in your face like a fresh Founders Imperial Stout would be but it leads the way.  I definitely get big dark chocolate on the nose as well with a slight sweet chocolate all blended together.  I'm not finished dissecting the aroma and I already have a good feeling that the taste on this is going to be balanced and not just clumps of each flavor.  I get a really small dark fruit note in here as well which I expect but with everything blending together so well it kind of reminds me of what a fudge brownie with raisins and coffee beans would smell like while in the oven.  If I had to think of another imperial stout that smelled similar to this I would pick Oskar Blues Ten Fidy.  Except this is far more balanced.

On the front of the palate I get sweet milk chocolate and as it rolls back further into my mouth it transforms into slightly less sweet and more bitter dark chocolate the further it goes.  Dark fruits play a nice role in this as well.  They aren't their own thing with this, no, they are part of the chocolate notes as is the coffee roasted notes.  Imagine having chocolate covered espresso beans and chocolate covered raisins instead of the chocolate and raisins and coffee beans being their own separate entity.  The finish is a nice roast that isn't heavy on the palate but rather a nice subtle lingering finish.  This is what imperial stouts want to be when they lay in your cellar for years.  This is honestly one of the most balanced beers that I have ever had.

Smooth as silk in your mouth.  This is an incredibly thick and rich beer but is silky in texture and the carbonation really helps.  Not over or under carbed, just a perfect example of the style.  I have no idea what would happen if you set this down in your cellar for a year.  I am curious as to what would happen but it doesn't need age on it at all.  The folks at Kuhnhenn seemed to take the hard part of finding its peak and just did it from the beginning.  Great, great stuff.

Cheers ladies and gentlemen!

Monday, January 28, 2013

2012 Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Coffee Stout

From Goose Island:

"Everyday Goose Island smells the wonderful coffee roasting next to our brewery at Chicago's Intelligentsia Coffee and Tea. This world class roaster puts the same passion and skill into their coffee as Goose Island does with its beer. This excellent stout is made with a different coffee from our friends next door each year. With the change in coffee comes a change in the flavor profile, making each release truly unique from the previous years."

This years Bourbon County Coffee was brewed with La Tortuga beans from Intelligentsia which they say has Tangy tangerine acidity with prominent notes of tamarind, wild honey and orange sherbert.  I am not a big coffee enthusiast like I am when it comes to craft beer but I think this will be more than a welcome addition to the chocolate, bourbon, and vanilla forward beer.  

Bourbon County Coffee pours out a really dark brown verging on black.  Once in the glass it is black as night with no light showing on the edges and there was barely any head to speak of which is what I have come to expect from this 14% barrel aged imperial stout.  While there is no head, it definitely does leave a nice brown film on the glass when it is swirled and the beer hits the sides of the glass.  I love regular BCBS and I loved last years Bourbon County Coffee Stout so let's see how this one goes!

Right upfront I get a chocolate covered coffee been.  Actually, more like a chocolate covered coffee bean that was dropped into a glass of bourbon and let sit.  Definitely some vanilla in there as well and a bit of caramel that provides a really nice sweetness which differs from the chocolatey sweetness on the forefront.  I also seem to get a bit of a fruity character in there as well.  I am trying to decide if it is a dark fruit type aroma or something closer to a chocolate covered orange sweetness.  I might be reaching with that statement because of what I know about the coffee bean itself whatever it is it definitely adds another level of complexity to the beer.

I haven't actually had coffee from the La Tortuga coffee bean but the coffee is very prominent on the palate but there is also a sweetness that I am not used to in regular Bourbon County Stout.  I definitely think that some of the characteristics from the bean itself show its face in the beer along with the big chocolate and vanilla note as well as a punch of bourbon that I have come to recognize in this beer. The roast from the coffee seems to balance out with the sweetness of the beer perfectly and leads into a nice roasted chocolate finish.  Great, great stuff.  As I drink more of this I get more of the coffee on the palate than I do vanilla which a big difference from the regular version of this beer.  There are a lot of flavors going on in this beer but the coffee really takes the front seat and the others seem to just highlight everything about it. My lips definitely feel a bit sticky after the finish and my palate has a lingering note from the oak barrels as well as the spirit that was inside of it.  For such a big beer this is as balanced as it could be and it is delicious and the coffee adds a whole new dimension to the beer that I didn't remember from the version I had last year.  

Seriously a great beer from Goose Island but with its reputation with barrel aged beers I am far from surprised and I expect this type of quality from them.  There is not much more I can say about this beer other than the flavors are in your face and begs for your to take another sip.  The booze is definitely noticeable but it just adds to the overall experience and doesn't take the front seat like some other high alcohol content beers.  A real experience and something every beer geek needs to have....every year.  Great stuff, Goose Island!

Cheers ladies and gentlemen!

Sierra Nevada Bigfoot (2013)

From Sierra Nevada:

"Bigfoot is a beast of a beer, brimming with bold flavors of bittersweet malt and heaps of aggressive whole-cone Pacific Northwest hops. First introduced in the winter of 1983, Bigfoot is a cult-classic beer brewed in the barleywine style, meaning a strong, robust, bruiser of a beer with the refined intensity of a wine. Bigfoot is prized by beer collectors for its supreme cellarability. Under the proper conditions, it can age like a fine wine, developing new flavors and character as it matures in the bottle. Each new release or “expedition” is vintage dated. Collect your own and see the flavors develop and progress."

This is 2013 vintage so there is no age on this bottle.  I am hoping to get more of this to throw in my cellar so I can see how it ages.  I have heard nothing but great things about it with 1-10 years on it.  Even without having the opportunity to have aged bottle I can safely say, like Hopslam, this is also one of my favorite (possibly even my most favorite) seasonal available during the winter months.  Everything from the look to the finish is something I am impressed by with Bigfoot.  All I remember from the 2012 batch is that I drank a ton of it and I enjoyed each bottle more than I did the last so let's see how the 2013 vintage stacks up to what I remember.

Easily one of the best looking beers on the market in my opinion.  It poured out a reddish copper color but in the glass it is deep red with a 2 finger beige head to start.  As the head dissipates it leaves a ring around the sides of the beer like most do but the redness of Bigfoot seems to shine through that little bit of lacing and give it a pinkish hue.  It leaves a nice lace around the glass that crawls back down as it settles .  I could honestly sit here and not take a single sip of this beer and be okay with that because this looks like art in a glass.

Upfront I am smacked with grapefruit and pine notes on the nose which no doubt come from the heavy hop load this beer has.  Deeper into the aroma I get some caramel and toffee and sweet malt and a nice dose of molasses.  Aside from the big, upfront hop aroma to start this reminds me a little bit of Curmudgeons Old Ale from Founders.  I also get a very small amount of dark fruit mixed in there as well and I think even a tiny amount of some cherry which is something I either didn't pick up on last year or just didn't notice.  Very nice smelling beer. Wow!

....well I am sad to say that I have to disturb this beauty of a beer by taking a sip.  I kind of wish I didn't have to do this part but here we go,

On the very tip of the tongue I get the sweetness of the malts and mid palate on back I get a big rush of bitterness that lingers through the finish with a warming quality in the chest as well.  The sweetness I'm getting has a lot of the dark fruit in there, some nice caramel sweetness, as well as a nice note of molasses and and also a nice toasted malt character to it.  More like perfectly toasted bread as opposed to burnt bread or overly toasted bread you might find in a big imperial stout.  The hop presence in this beer doesn't stop at the bitterness, I get some big grapefruit and a dash of pine in the middle of the mouth.  Finish is all bitterness and grapefruit.  The flavor and bitterness from the hops really cut the sweetness you get at the beginning.  I have used this term before but it is such an intense bitterness it honestly feels like a sword crafted of sharpened hop vines and cones fight through that sweetness to finally shine through.  Yes there is a lot going on this beer but everything seems to be in perfect (un)balance.  Imagine a war flick that focuses on some of the earlier wars.  A lot of fighting and strategy and none of the big explosions we are used to now.  I definitely see this turning into a completely different animal years from now but whether it be now or then this will always be great.

I am glad I actually sat down reviewed this unlike last year.  Reviewing changed the way I look at beers because I really try to decipher what is really going on in your mouth when you drink.  I think I may have fallen even more in love with this beer because of the complexity to it.  Is it a perfect beer? Well that is a strong word and not something I am going to throw around easily but this is as close to perfection in the American Barleywine style category as it gets as far as I am concerned.  I am looking forward to 2014 not only because of a fresh vintage of this but because I really want to see how this changes.  I hope you guys are excited too!

Cheers ladies and gentlemen!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Bells Hopslam - 2013

From Bell's:

"Starting with six different hop varietals added to the brew kettle & culminating with a massive dry-hop addition of Simcoe hops, Bell's Hopslam Ale possesses the most complex hopping schedule in the Bell's repertoire. Selected specifically because of their aromatic qualities, these Pacific Northwest varieties contribute a pungent blend of grapefruit, stone fruit, and floral notes. A generous malt bill and a solid dollop of honey provide just enough body to keep the balance in check, resulting in a remarkably drinkable rendition of the Double India Pale Ale style."

Hopslam is definitely one of my favorite seasonal beers during this time of year and something I will always try to grab some of when it comes out.  However, I am done with the back story of why I love this beer so much because I can smell it in my glass and I don't want to wait on my review any longer!

Golden orange in the glass with a 1 finger head on it made up of white, soapy bubbles..  Head didn't last long at all and leaves a very small ring around the sides of the glass.  For being such a hop forward beer I am actually surprised at the clarity of this.  I probably would have never paid attention to something like that if I didn't do reviews but I think that is something nice given how extensive the hopping schedule is and yet there is hardly a haze to it.  

I am not sure if the honey adds anything to aroma but I swear I can smell it in there.   At least the sweetness I am getting on the nose I'm attributing that to the honey.  Sweet honey like smell with nice grapefruit and citrus as well as a nice sweetness from like a peach, I also get a small amount of pine as well.  This has to be one of my best smelling beers I have had.  The sweetness is really nice and isn't overpowering.  The citrus mixed with that fruity peach and the pine is great but with a nice sweet aroma to it as well it kind of seems like a fruit salad with a drizzle of honey over the top of it.  In a word, though? Balanced.

Sweet bready malt that immediately turns to a nice citrus flavor and a bit of pine on the finish with a very, very subtle lingering bitterness.  This is such a balanced beer.  The alcohol is pretty much non-existent on the palate but does leave a slight warming in the chest.  Front of the palate I get a little bit of orange as well which is exciting and something that I really enjoy in my IPA and Imperial IPAs.  Being a hop head this is weird for me to say but I actually enjoy the sweet bready malt on the palate the most of everything.  It really seems to bring everything together at the beginning and then hold it together at the end.  There are a lot of flavors going on in the beer but they are all incorporated well and that is the sign, in my opinion, of what a great (D)IPA is.  

This will remain as one of my favorite seasonals for a long time.  Balanced in every way and nothing about this beer is a disappointment.  While I enjoyed how balanced Hopslam was, I have to say I enjoy Oracle from Bell's more.  It isn't as balanced as Hopslam is but I like the hop variety far more.  That was a bit off topic but Oracle popped into my head after having this.  In short, just go get yourself some.  It is delicious and has everything you want in a great imperial india pale ale and it is pretty to look at too.

Cheers ladies and gentlemen!

...p.s I just got this glass in the mail today and I will be using it for reviews for the foreseeable future. I love this glass. 

Monday, January 21, 2013

Four Peaks Brewing - Hop Knot

Thanks again to BeerAdvocate member AzDBack for this one!

From Four Peaks:

"Our Hop Knot IPA is made only from American malt and lots of American hops, which produce a big, broad-shouldered, hoppy beer backed up by a character as warm as, well, Mom and apple pie... 

Hop Knot IPA get its peculiar name from the weaving of four different hops added at four separate times during the brewing process. Including our cavernous hop-back, which gets so stuffed with whole leaf hops that we feel genuine guilt for its excess. Hop Knot is an ale that is to be enjoyed with friends, spicy food or any time you need a good hop fix without the harsh bitterness. We hope you enjoy this pioneering beer made in the bold spirit of Americans everywhere. 

Let's jump right in, shall we!

Pour is a vibrant golden orange.  Maybe it is just the light in the room but it seems to be glowing a little bit as well! Really nice looking 2 finger head made up of tight, soapy looking bubbles.  Once the head dissipated it left soapy looking bubbles around the edges of the glass and a light film over the top of the beer.  It looks really nice laying over a bed of orange!

I get a nice note of tropical fruit in this mixed with bit of pine and a big punch of grapefruit! I wasn't expecting to get a tropical fruit character on this beer so that was a pleasant surprise! I also get a little bit of sweet malt in there as well that mixes nicely with the fruity aroma.  Doesn't smell like a big hop bomb but more of a perfectly balanced IPA judging by the aroma.  The aroma kind of reminds me of Marble Brewing's IPA with that nice juicy aroma to it. I would have to say this has more sweet malt aroma than Marble IPA had however.  Smells really nice and I am hoping the taste matches the aroma.

I'm getting a lot of grapefruit on the palate but not too much of the bitterness that usually follows.  In the middle I get some of that pine I was getting on the nose but I am not tasting any of that tropical fruit like mango or peach pineapple.  Back end is a nice subtle sweetness and bready malt.  This is a very basic IPA, but it is extremely nice.  The flavors all play well together and counteract each other.  The grapefruit and pine are well balanced in themselves but they lead into the slightly bitter and and sweet bready finish so well.  After the finish there is a lingering juicy grapefruit note that is welcoming.  It doesn't leave a big bitter punch but rather a really nice juicy grapefruit and orange note.  

Was this a mind blowing IPA? No, it was not.  Is it incredibly easy to drink and well balanced? That it is!  Not every beer is going to be worldly experience.  This is a perfect example of an American IPA.  Hop Knot is light on the palate and doesn't lack in the aroma or the taste.  If you are looking for a Pliny Killer then this is not that.  If you are looking for a nice switch from a beer like Bells Two Hearted, which is something that is easy to drink and also packs a well balanced punch, then this is that beer!

Cheers ladies and gentlemen!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Deschutes Black Butte XXIV

From Deschutes website:

"XXIV. 24 years after Black Butte Porter’s debut, our potent, layered, imperial tribute returns. As usual, it’s a jazz riff, guided by the brewer’s muse and the lure of exotic ingredients. Artisanal dark chocolate nibs. Deglet dates. Mission figs. It may, possibly, hopefully, be the best edition yet. But, as it should be, you’ll be the judge of that."

Thanks to AzDback from BeerAdvocate for sending me this bottle! Awesome guy and I hope this beer is just as awesome! Let's dig in!

Looks black in the glass but has a brownish/red hue on the sides of the glass and out of the bottle it looked like a dark brown while pouring.  I didn't expect much of a head on this considering it is a barrel aged beer (Doesn't mention it on the website but it has been confirmed) but a finger head managed to appear but only lasted for a few seconds.  It leaves a really nice tan ring around the glass and sticks to the glass when you swirl it around.  Really nice looking beer and something I have been excited to try for a long, long time.

The dates and figs really shine through in the front.  Almost reminds me of like brown sugar dusted dates and figs? Interesting smell but also amazing.  Definitely a bit of chocolate in there as well and adds to the aroma perfectly.  I'm looking for the barrel character and I get it..sometimes.  I think the mixture of the dates and figs with the wood and the vanilla character from the barrel really give it that brown sugar aroma. I love it.  There is also a really nice roasted character to it in the end.  Subtle, but very welcome!

Here we go, im excited,

Dates and figs are big up front on the palate.  Not like just the small hints of it you get with Imperial Stouts.  Big and in your face but really tasty.  I actually think I get some of the chocolate right before I am blasted with the dark fruits.  Goes from a chocolatey sweet to a fruity sweet and then right to a roasted character on the finish with a bit more of that dark fruit. This is delicious so far but I am hardly getting any of the barrel character I was getting on the nose.  I get a slight bit of it on the very end but other than that I would say it is non-existant.

Delicious beer and I love the full mouthfeel this has.  The roast really lingers through the finish but doesn't quite reach that burnt coffee territory.  The best after date on the bottle is 7/23/13, I would probably recommend waiting til after that date and wait for the flavors to meld together better.  It is delicious now but I think by that date and way after this beer will truly be special.  The flavors are all there and are all delicious but they need time.  With that said, I have a little bit left and I am very much looking forward to sipping the rest of it while relaxing and I hope the rest of you have a great night!

Cheers ladies and gentlemen!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Rare Barrel

A pharmaceuticals entrepreneur, a brewer, and homebrewer and biotechnology sales rep walk into 3 Fonteinen......and Cantillon, and Gueuzerie Tilquin, and De Troch.....this isn't a joke however, no, these are madmen with space and 205 red wine barrels just aching to be filled.  But by who?

Jay Goodwin (former brewer and Head of Barrel Aging at The Bruery), Alex Wallash (homebrewer and biotechnology sales rep), and Brad Goodwin (pharmaceutical entrepreneur)  set out with the  idea of all sour beer, all the time.  The plan is to work with select craft breweries with the right sized brewhouse that are relatively close to them.  After the base beer is created, it will then be transported back to The Rare Barrel where fermentation and barrel aging will begin.

While Alex mentioned that they were " excited about experimentation with fermentation in the beginning" they do plan to experiment with spontaneous fermentation in the future.  With the world of sour beers, whether they be American Wild Ales, Flanders Reds, Geuzes, or lambics , the idea for The Rare Barrel couldn't have come at a better time.  

Alex said " We’re going to start out by aging our beers in  oak barrels that were previously used to make red wine. These barrels are particularly good for making sour beer because they have a relatively neutral flavor and most of the astringency from the wood has been stripped from the barrel. Those barrels are just our launching pad though, and we’ll experiment with other kinds of barrels soon."  With such a large surplus of barrels available to them already, and they have plenty of room for more, the plan isn't to have wide distribution just yet, instead, they are going to focus mainly on sales through their tasting room and self-distribution in the Bay Area.  He did say that they will expand from there but as to where that will be, well, our guess is as good as theirs.  

With The Bruery, Crooked Stave, and the relatively new Night Shift Brewery all having a Barrel Society the question came up as to whether or not they were thinking about doing something like that.  Alex didn't dismiss the idea of it, in fact he said that they were considering the idea of some sort of beer club.  He didn't elaborate on that statement but was curious if I would like to see something like that and  what I would like to be included in the club.  

As far as what they have in the works now, Alex said that they didn't have anything in barrels yet but they expect to have a few sour beers ready by the end of 2013, in fact they would like to have beer going into these barrels within one month.

Though I probably won't get my hands on any of their beers, I can definitely say that their idea is something new and something great and I wish them nothing but great things in the future. 

twitter: @therarebarrel

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Brew Kettle White Rajah

From the Brew Kettle:

"A West Coast style IPA full of citrus-like and tropical fruit like hop flavor and aroma with an assertive yet smooth bitter finish....malt, take a back seat please"

Thanks to WesM63 from Beer Advocate for the bottle of this! Great guy for sure!

I've heard this beer mentioned before but I have never had it.  But with the description The Brew Kettle gives and the fact I'm a hophead, I have a feeling I'm going to really enjoy this one!

IPA's are one my favorite styles for sure.  One of the main reasons being the appearance you get with some of them.  This one, for example, poured a golden orange that seemed to glow as the light hit.  2 finger head on it with tight, soapy bubbles for the most part.  Didn't last long but it didn't dissipate fast either.  I can hold the beer up and see to the other side of my computer.  Super, super clear and just really great looking!

Right off the bat in the aroma I get big tropical fruit notes with with grapefruit and pine mixed in there as well.  Just a super great aroma on this.  It is like a bouquet of tropical and citrusy fruit and just laying on a bed of pine needles.  No malt character to speak of really.  I am trying to pick some up in the back but not having any luck.  With an aroma on a beer like this you really aren't disappointed when a malt presence isn't present in the aroma to be honest.  There is also a really nice sweetness on the back end that goes real well with the juicy, citrusy aroma.

Not quite what I was expecting on the initial taste.  I was expecting a huge hop flavor and a huge bitterness to follow.  I got the huge flavor but only a small amount of bitterness.  In some cases I would be disappointed but in this case I was not.  The fruit and citrus seem top just roll around the tongue forever with a constant supply of juicyyness.  Like the aroma, I am not getting much malt on the palate.  What I do get though feels like a tea biscuit.  Bready note with a small touch of sweetness. A fruity and citrusy jam spread onto a tea biscuit.  That is what you are in store for if you have never had this before.

Nice finish on the beer but my lips do feel a bit sticky.  Not a big deal though.  Really glad I tried this sooner rather than later.  I would say this is a good-great but I am a tough critic when it comes to this style of beer.  I enjoy a lot of them but I'm not blown away by them.  This beer I thought was fantastic and I would no doubt like to seek it out again but, again, it didn't blow me away.

Cheers ladies and gentlemen!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Bell's Expedition Stout (2012)

From Bell's website:

"One of the earliest examples of the Russian Imperial Stout in the United States, Expedition Stout offers immensely complex flavors crafted specifically with vintage aging in mind, as its profile will continue to mature and develop over the years. A huge malt body is matched to a heady blend of chocolate, dark fruits, and other aromas. Intensely bitter in its early months, the flavors will slowly meld and grow in depth as the beer ages."

This is a fairly fresh bottle as it was bottled in mid October.  I haven't had this in a while and my palate has since changed so I definitely wanted to revisit this one and put my thoughts on paper this time around.  I'm hoping to get another 6 pack of it to throw in my cellar and see how it ages. But until then...

This beer poured black from bottle to glass with just a very, very slight red at the bottom and sides of the glass where the light hits it.  Other than that the beer looks the part of a Russian Imperial Stout.  A half finger head from the pour that didn't stay around long at all.  While there isn't much lacing to it, the beer itself really sticks to glass like syrup.  I didn't remember what this beer was like but I am excited to finally try it again!

First whiffs of this and I am majorly surprised so far!  I'm getting a little dark chocolate on the nose but the shining point in the aroma is caramel and coffee mixture.  It smells pretty darn incredible, in my opinion.  There is something else I am having trouble picking up on. Maybe some molasses or anise? Definitely a big sweetness I'm getting on it.  Not sure if the booze in the aroma is blocking some of the raisin and plum character that I am used to in these kinds of beers or maybe that is something that will show its face with a little bit of age.  Aside from that this beer smells incredible and I really like the big coffee and caramel nose.  I actually have no idea what this is going to taste like but I am excited.

Definitely get the coffee and the roast on the taste as well as some really nice dark chocolate mixed with some milk chocolate as well.  The caramel is there on the middle of the palate and provides a nice sweetness.  I really want to see how this beer ages because I think it is nicely balanced right now.  I would guess these flavors will meld together.  I love beers with a heavy roast in them and this is a fine example of that especially on the finish.  The roast lingers well through the finish and helps cut the sweetness.  I really enjoyed this beer but after the aroma I was expecting something a bit more.  Not disappointed but rather surprised.  

Heavy on the palate in both mouthfeel and flavor.  Flavor lingers and leaves you really thinking about what you are drinking.  A perfect beer to sip on on a cold day or night.   After having this I plan on getting more in the future and not just to age but also to drink fresh.  The alcohol, while apparent, wasn't overpowering but just another flavor.  I definitely recommend picking up a six pack of this and giving it a try!

Cheers ladies and gentlemen!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

He'Brew Jewbelation Sweet 16 Anniversary Ale

From He'Brews website:

 Anniversary Celebration Ale 
Brewed with 16 Malts, 16 Hops, and Soaring to 16% Alc"

16 Malts:
Specialty 2-row.  Vienna.  Munich.  Wheat.  Chocolate.  Crystal Rye.  Dark crystal.  Rye.  Roasted barley. Spelt.  Flaked Qinoa.  Roasted wheat.  Flaked oats.  Caramunich 40.  Carapilsner.  Kiln amber.

16 Hops:
Fuggle.  Wilamette.  Golding.  Palisade.  Tettnang.  Crystal.  Ahtanum.  Columbus.  Zythos.  Cascade.  Centennial.  Apollo.  Siimcoe.  Summit.  Citra.  Amarillo.

Wow...that is a ton of stuff! 

I didn't know what to expect when I popped the bottle but I was hoping for something special so here it goes!
Pours a dark brown/black with a 3 finger head that went away by the time I was able to snap the picture.  Lacing so far is non-existent except for small group of tight bubbles in the center of the glass.  With such a high gravity beer I wasn't expecting much head so I am not surprised.  Poured syrupy it looked like as well so I am doubly excited for this as I can already smell it.

Very reminiscent of Dark Lord on the smell.  It smells very sweet with big raisin and fig and dark cherry notes.  A touch of chocolate and some caramel as well.  Boozy notes mixing in with all of that and making something special so far judging by the aroma.  Not getting much on the nose as far as hop aroma goes but I am guessing it is getting masked by the big sweetness there is to the beer.  Letting it warm in my hands and a few swirls of the glass I am getting a lot more caramel and it just peaks my excitement so I'm going to dig in!

That caramel I was getting on the nose shows up front and center and leads into those dark fruits.  Finish is a really awesome roast that I didn't pick up on in the nose and then a lingering bitterness on the finish which feels like a mix between dark chocolate bitterness and a bitterness from the wide array of hops that are used.    If there is any flavor here from the hop additions then I am missing it due to the huge malt presence.  A subtle spiciness on the tip of the tongue as well that almost got lost with everything this beer has going on.  Mid-palate I'm getting a tiny amount of milk chocolate and sweetness.  For a beer that has just an 87 rating on Beer Advocate I have to say I am blown away by this beer.  Is it a mess? I honestly don't think so.  Flavors are mostly easy to pick up on even with the large malt bill and the beer itself is not overly sweet which is what I was expecting in the beginning.

Heavy/full in the mouth and a lingering non-dry finish.  The finish lingers in the mouth for a while with that dark chocolate bitterness and makes you impatient for the next sip.  At 16% you definitely taste the alcohol and feel it in the chest as it goes down but it is a welcome addition to everything else that is going on.  Just another layer of flavor and complexity.

I wish I would have picked up a few more bottles of this early in the year because this beer is going to age wonderfully.  It already drinks great now but with time those flavors are all going to meld together and form an entirely different yet delicious beer. I am impressed with the only beer I have had from these guys and I will certainly look out for the upcoming anniversary beers.

Cheers ladies and gentlemen!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Founders Imperial Stout 2012

From Founders website:

"Brewed with ten varieties of malted barley, this stout is smooth as silk, yet complex and rich in body. Serve this guy at cellar temperature. Put another log on the fire, sit back and enjoy the friendship of this ultimate winter warmer."

This will be the freshest bottle of this beer that I have had yet.  I have had the 2011 batch several times and it blew me away so I am extremely excited for this batch! Look forward to next years post and I'll have a 2011-2013 vertical to post up for you guys!

Black.  Straight black out of the bottle.  No brown or red to this beer at all just straight black through and through.  The head was a dark brown color that left a 3 finger head on it after an aggressive pour.  The head doesn't last long but the lacing from it does.  Looks a lot like chocolate milk (bubbles and all) on top of black liquid.  Really, really pretty and intense looking beer.  I can smell it from here and I am 2 feet away right now.

Big dark chocolate right upfront and even some sweet milk chocolate in there a bit as well.  Some roasted qualities come through big time as well.  After swirling it and getting a few more whiffs I am also noticing that dark fruit aroma to it that is often apparent in imperial stouts.  Raisin maybe? Or some type of berry in there providing a nice fruity sweetness to compliment the bitter dark chocolate and sweet milk chocolate.  Amazing smelling beer.  I almost wish I didn't have to drink this....almost.

The dark chocolate hits immediately but is quickly followed by roast.  A lot of roast.  I also get a bit of smoke which is not at all disappointing but something that I am really loving.  The roast and the smoke linger through the finish with a very small trace of alcohol (surprising for a 10.5% beer.)  A little bit of dark fruit comes into play on the finish as well but mostly roast, smoke, and bittersweet chocolate.

Mouth coating.  That is the only term you need to know for this beer.  Even after the initial swallow, this beer keeps providing flavor to your taste buds well after the sip is finish.  Full bodied beer and exactly what I expect from a russian imperial stout.

Great example of the style but I have come to expect this sort of thing from Founders.  While I thought this was incredible, I actually give a slight edge to the 2011 batch.  When I had that vintage it was about 10 months old and age did nothing but great things for this beer.  I recommend drinking 2 from the 4 pack and throwing the other your basement, cellar, dark closet, or whatever else you have and forget about it until next years batch is released.  Either way you will not be disappointed!

Cheers ladies and gentlemen!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Ska Brewing Hibernal Vinifera Stout

This is an oak-aged stout from Ska that is also brewed with Malbec grapes.

I have only had one other offering from Ska and that was their Modus Hoperandi which quickly became one of my favorite IPAs so I am excited to be able to have one of their other offerings and review it.  I'm sure I will like this one!

Pour starts out a black/really dark brown color and looks completely black in the glass aside from the reddish hue on the sides.  The pour brought a nice two finger frothy head.but it didn't stick around too long other than a small amount of lace left on the glass.

Up front I am hit with some sweet chocolate and after a swirl of the glass I get a fruity sweet aroma which I am guessing is from the grapes.  Deeper into the aroma I get some roasted coffee notes which is really nice and also surprising because I don't think this beer is brewed with actual coffee.  Maybe a little alcohol on the nose but not overpowering at all and definitely takes a backseat to everything to else!

First flavors I get are the roasted coffee that I got on the nose. This actually excites me because it has such a nice roast to it without actually using coffee.  Very, very interesting.  A mix of some dark chocolate and dark chocolate bitterness but also some sweet milk chocolate notes as well.  I am getting a very small amount of grapes on the palate.  Right before the roasted flavor comes to the front and also a slightly sweet grape note mixed in dark chocolate bitterness.  Really tasty beer but also very interesting.  The roasty flavors I'm getting are easily my favorite part of the beer surprisingly.  I would have liked more of grape on the palate but I'd rather have too little than too much because I think the grape flavor could easily overpower the beer.

In the mouth it has medium mouthfeel and a slight lingering bitterness.  This doesn't quite coat the mouth but it isn't watery either.  I would like a bit more mouthfeel on it but I'm not unhappy about where it is right now.

Overall I would have to say this is a really solid beer.  Is it the best stout I've had? No, it is not but the flavors are all really nice and I keep going back to how much actual coffee I was getting on the nose and in the taste and how much I really enjoy that.  I would drink this again in a heartbeat.  Easy drinking stout with nice flavors and won't leave you needing a designated driver.

Cheers ladies and gentlemen!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Marble Brewery IPA

Got this sent to me as an extra in a trade.  I have had it once before early on and haven't had it since so I am pretty excited to revisit this one!

From Marble's website:

"Columbus, Amarillo and Centennial hops lend a fragrant citrus aroma and snappy hop character to our flagship beer.
6.8% ABV"

To the review!

From can to glass it is a fairly clear reddish orange with a white, maybe off white, 1-2 finger head on it.  Head doesn't last long but it leaves some soapy looking remnants on top of the beer and on the sides of the glass.  Really nice looking beer.

I could smell this thing as I was pouring. Very nice.  Nice peachy aroma! Subtle peach, however.  Not in your face like Heady Topper was.  Some other citrus in there as well. Orange citrus like aroma and not much of the grapefruit citrus.  A nice sweetness that ties in well with that orange and peach note.  Incredible smelling beer!

On the taste I am getting very little malt.  Maybe a bready character to it but this thing is all hops.  I get some of that grapefruit on the palate that I wasn't getting on the nose.  Grapefruit mixed with some peachy orange upfront.  Very nice. While I don't get much malt on the taste the bitterness isn't over powering at all.  The taste is all hop flavor and a lingering note of citrus with a slight bit of bitterness.  Excellent!

Mouthfeel on this was on the bigger side of medium which I didn't remember but I like it.  Really coats the mouth and gives you the wide array of flavors this beer packs.  

This is a fantastic IPA.  While it is rated pretty high on Beer Advocate I think it is better than the 90/100 rating it has.  Though it does lack a balance between malt and hops (I enjoy a hop bomb anyway) the depth of flavor you get in this does not disappoint and doesn't overpower the palate in anyway.  Excellent beer.  I highly recommend trading for this or purchasing it online if it is not available in your area.  You will not be disappointed.

Cheers ladies and gentlemen!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Deschutes Jubelale

Good evening ladies and gentlemen! I just received this beer in a trade yesterday and I am very excited to try it.  This is Deschutes Jubelale, their winter warmer ale.  The label changes every year and this is the 2012 version.

I have never had this beer before but I have always wanted to try it since everything else I have tried from them has been great.

Enough of all this, time for the pour and the review! After all that is why you're reading this, right?

The pour yields a 1-2 finger head on it and so far 5 minutes has passed and it is still a fluffy, pillowy like head.  It isn't going anywhere.  The beer itself is a reddish brown and is extremely clear.  Really nice looking winter warmer and what I was expecting as far as the beautiful color this beer has.

This beer surprises me again.  The aroma on this is wonderful!  A very heavy breadyness to it but a bread that has been dunked in cinnamon maybe, or brown sugar.  A small alcohol aroma to it as well but not over powering at all.  Maybe a little bit of that fig or raisin character that is familiar with russian imperial stouts or barleywines.  Really, really nice smelling beer.  This is awesome.

This beer is a lot lighter than what I was expecting as far as taste goes.  I was expecting this to be much sweeter.  I am getting a nice breadyness there but not as much, if any, of the cinnamon or brown sugar.  There is some nuttiness in there and some caramel.  The surprising thing about this beer is the hop bitterness I get from this.  Not over powering but it really clears the palate and gets it ready for another drink.

Mouthfeel on this was light to medium but had a nice creamyness with it.  Really nice mouthfeel!

Overall I think this beer is really nice.  A nice winter warmer style beer for a hophead but still has the complexity for any malt lover to enjoy.  I definitely recommend picking this up and giving it a try because from glass, to aroma, to taste, the beauty of this beer shows its colors.

Cheers ladies and gentlemen!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Hoppin Frog Barrel Aged Naked Evil

Good evening folks! I apologize for my absence from the blog but I am back and I am starting the new year out in style.

I decided to pull out a batch 2 Barrel Aged Naked Evil (Batch 1 had a white cap) from the cellar.  I've had this bottle for i think 6 or 7 months and I figured today was a great day to open it.

This beer poured a dark amber and had a small, creamy 1 finger head on it and it didn't stick around but left a small lace around the glass as I drank it.  I thought it was cool that there was sediment floating (not really floating. Kind of suspended in the beer) in the beer.  I would have to guessed it was either yeast or possibly particles from the whiskey barrels this was aged in.

Aroma on this thing was pretty nice and not really what I was expecting.  I got notes of dark fruits (figs, raisins) but also a candy type sweetness and butterscotch note to it.  I didn't really get any of that barrel character in the aroma but it was still a great smelling beer!

The taste is when this beer blew me away.  As soon as it hit the tongue I got a sweet vanilla note and that dark fruit character that I picked up on in the nose as well as that toffee or buterscotch.  Really intense and flavorful.  As I drank more of this I got a citrusy fruit note to it which actually went quite well with the vanilla and butterscotch and other dark fruits I was picking up on.  Imagine a mixed fruit marmalade with a touch of vanilla.  The actual whiskey component I didn't pick up on much but the oaky and vanilla were very present.

Mouthfeel on this was thick and a good way.  The past few barleywines I've had have been a touch sweet and had a medium mouthfeel but this was exactly what I want in a barleywine.

Overall, this was a beautiful looking beer and a nice aroma to boot but with the huge punch of flavor this thing packs really blew me away.  One of the greatest beers I have ever had.  Not many times have I had expectations set so high that I was still blown away at the end.  I can see this beer not being everyones "cup of tea" but it was exactly what I wanted.  A true delight and something I will always search for when new batches are released.

Cheers ladies and gentlemen!