Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Pelican Brewing - 2012 Mother of All Storms

From Pelican Brewing:

"There are many storms out there, all of them perfect in their own way. But there is only one Mother of all Storms and it only happens in Pacific City, Oregon. Based on Stormwatcher’s Winterfest, our English-style barleywine, Mother of all Storms spent many months aging in Kentucky bourbon barrels. Now at its peak, Mother of all Storms delivers deep flavors of toasted malt, bourbon and oak. The finish rewards with whispers of vanilla, toffee and caramel. Best enjoyed with gusts exceeding 60 mph."

I was fortunate enough to be able to split a case of this with another friend and I have yet to drink a bottle from the six I received.  Being a big fan of barrel aged barleywines this was high on my list of beers that I must get and something I have to review for you guys.

It pours a really, really nice orange, red, brown mixture of color from the bottle and when it sits in the glass it is a beautiful dark ruby color.  It poured with a 1 finger head that quickly disappeared and left a small ring on the outside of the beer where it meets the glass.  Alcohol legs stick to the glass and run down back into the glass when it is swirled.  It looks like art in a glass just begging to be drank.

Vanilla and bourbon smack you in the face initially then followed with big ripe figs and dates and other dark fruits.  The mixture of the two is a beautiful thing.  Smells like dark fruit are just soaking inside of an oak soup with a drizzle of vanilla over the top.  A nice caramel aroma shows itself as well and lends to the sweet and dessert like aroma this beer has.  A nice bready like character is in there as well.  A nice darker bread that was baked with oak staves in the oven.  Such a delicious smelling beer with a lot of flavors packed in there and all showcasing themselves in a perfect way.

Holy crap.  An intense punch of vanilla and caramel lead the way on the palate with a nice oak note pushing its way in there and into the finish.  The finish, along with the oak, has a nice alcohol taste that doesn't so much overpower but more so lends just another flavor to the beer.  After the finish the beer leaves a nice warming feeling in the chest which is to be expected for coming in at 14%abv.  There is a real nice toasted malt and toasted oak presence throughout.  Not a roast that will leave bitterness on the finish but a toasty character that pairs well with that oaky bread like aroma I was getting.  Dark fruits work there way in the as well that make this a real treat.  Definitely a sweet beer upfront but the finish on this cuts it perfectly and helps to not overwhelm the palate sweetness.  This is incredible.  

There isn't too much more I can say.  This beer is incredible in every aspect and may possibly be my favorite barrel aged barleywine I have had to date.  The flavors are all showcased well but are showcased together and each do their part to make this super drinkable despite the high alcohol content.  Pelican seems to produce a good amount of this and many people bought cases of it and now I understand why.  Next November is just around the corner so definitely keep an eye out for release information because this is a beer you need to have in your cellar AND in your fridge.  

Until next time,

Cheers ladies and gentlemen!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Columbus Brewing - IPA

From Columbus Brewing:

"An American IPA
Our IPA pours a slightly hazy, pale orange with a balanced malt flavor and finishes with a wonderful flavor and aroma only American hops can provide. This beer is served unfiltered to retain all the bouquet from the hops. Brewed with Summit and Simcoe hops."

This beer has been on my "Must try" list for a while.  I have heard nothing but great things about it and something I see often on BeerAdvocate.  Other than that, I am also a fan of the hop varieties that are used in this beer and I have a pretty great feeling that I am going to be impressed even though my bar is set fairly high. So here we go,

It poured a really, really nice looking dark, rusty orange.  Two finger head that lasted for a decent amount of time but then just left a nice film over the top of the beer with a really neat looking soapy ring around the edge of the beer. I can't really see anything through the glass but I am not one to dislike hazy beers. I actually like a hazy IPA or Imperial IPA.  Not sure why but I do know that this beer looks incredible. I hope the aroma and taste are as amazing.

At the beginning I get a whiff of big grapefruit notes.  Like the aroma of a really bitter grapefruit.  But after that this beer just smells like juice from really sweet oranges and tangerines, a bit of pine mixed in there as well and then a tropical fruitiness to it as well.  I can never place the actual fruit for tropical fruit when I say that but mainly because it always reminds me a bouquet of fruit aroma and not one particular example.  I am not getting too much in the department of malt aroma but what I do get is a residual sweet aroma.  Something that is either coming from the combinations of all the hop aromas coming together or an underlying sweet, bready malt that is acting like a pillow for the hoppy aromas.  Definitely smells great. Really great.  I hope this lives up to what I was hoping to be.  The past few reviews I feel like I've been more of a Debby Downer.  Cheers,

Oh yeah that is nice.  Small bit of bitterness of the tip of the tongue then it bursts open with flavor.  Orange and tangerine juice just showered on small hints of pine.  I'm not getting much in the way of malt on the palate but I am perfectly okay with that.  The finish wipes away that sweet juicy like flavor that burst into your mouth mid-palate and finish with a quick sharp bitterness that soon fades into that citrusy grapefruit taste.  Perfect IPA throughout.  I love the flavors in the beer for sure.  Juiciness in the middle of the mouth and the bitterness before the citrusy grapefruit finish is fantastic.  This is exactly what I look like in an IPA.  Sometimes I want different flavor profiles but the craftsmanship of the beer is what I love.  Everything from the pour to finish have been perfect for me.

Some beers just have a real specialness to them and this is an example of, for me at least.  It has everything you could want in an IPA.  The color on it is beautiful, the aroma is wonderful and is especially inviting, and the taste is what brings all that together to really knock your socks off.  The grapefruit bitterness and taste that can sometimes overpower a beer was in check for this beer.  It hits hard up front but then relaxes itself through the rest of your mouth so the other flavors can come out and play and then, at the end, comes back in a big way to cleanse the palate for the next sip. If you don't have this. Get it.

Cheers ladies and gentlemen! 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

NEBCO - Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout Trooper

No information I could find the on the NEBCO website about this beer but this is their Imperial Stout Trooper that was aged in bourbon barrels.  I have never had the base beer but I am sure I am in for a treat!

Big shout out to Davey101 from BeerAdvocate for the bottle!

Im just going to jump right into this because it has been staring at me every time I open my fridge and I really want to review this one for you guys!

Out of the bottle it poured a dark brown that settled into a black once in the glass.  Left a nice 1 finger head that stuck around a bit longer than the past few beers I have reviewed.  After the head dissipates there isn't anything left other than a ring around the edge of the glass.  Definitely some alcohol legs present when the beer hits the side of the glass.  Head is a really light brown.  This is a really interesting looking beer because I am used to a much darker head on these styles of beers.

Big chocolate. Big caramel.  A lesser amount of dark fruit but still very prevalent.  I also seem to get a bit of roast on the end.  I get a really nice sweet note.  Not from a chocolate or caramel but more like a lactose sweetness that you would get in a milk stout.  Really cool.  Some really big nutty aromas in the aroma, in my opinion.  With that and the light roast and chocolate mixing together it seems to turn into hazelnut in a way.  Dang this is a great aroma! I haven't mentioned the barrel character or bourbon notes yet if you haven't noticed.  They are there but they just blend with the base beer so well it seems.  Vanilla and oak mixed with that lactose sweetness I'm getting is really awesome.  I am expecting a very balanced beer that has complex flavors with no heat on the finish.  The aroma has hyped this up to be a mind blowing beer so I am hoping it lives up to that.

Right on the front of the palate I get smacked with dark fruits and on the finish I get smacked with a big roasted coffee finish.  A bit of chocolate mixed with caramel but that is quickly cut by oak.  Not vanilla notes or big bourbon notes, just oak.  The oak does help dry the finish, though.  Big roast and then just a dry lingering finish.  The very small window between the oak and the roast I get a big dark cherry flavor but for maybe half a second.  It is quick but it is there and is kind of nice on the finish before the big roasted coffee and oak dryness.

The beer is not one dimensional at all.  Though I think it may be too rounded in  the wrong areas, for my palate at least.  I got a lot of dark fruit, oak, and a coffee finish.  I love all of those in barrel aged imperial stouts, however, I like them to be balanced with a chocolate and/or caramel or toffee note not the forefront of the beer.  I enjoyed this beer but not as much as I thought I would based on the aroma.  Is it tasty? Oh yes.  Did I expect more from this beer? Well, I didn't know what to expect since I never had the base beer but I did have an idea of what to expect from the aroma and it did a complete 180, aside from the dark fruit. I would drink this again in a heartbeat but I'm not too sure I would trade my cellar for a bottle of it.  Thank goodness I didn' have to because people are awesome!

Cheers ladies and gentlemen!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Kuhnhenn - Bourbon Barrel Aged 4th Dimentia

*As you can tell, the bottle is as excited about this as I am.  That is why it is still wearing its party hat.*

Big thanks to BeerAdvocate member Steimie for the bottle of this! Awesome, awesome guy.

From Kuhnhenn:

"This is our 4th Dementia Olde Ale that has been bourbon barrel aged. This ale has an intense sweet caramel malt flavor and aroma that develops into a toffee/toasted marsh mellow like character."

This is a really exciting moment for myself because I am finally getting around to opening this.  I have only had it one other time but it was a small sample and it was just incredible so tonight I finally say, "Enough is enough."

Here we go,

Poured a dark brown out of the bottle into the glass and is a muddy water brown as it rests in the glass.  The beer poured with almost a non-existent head.  What small head I did get from the pour was really just enough to hug the sides of the glass around the edge of the beer.  Clarity seems like an odd and obscure word when it comes to the appearance of beer because this lacks it entirely but yet I love the appearance of this beer so much.  It poured into the glass like syrup it seemed and the way it seemed to not give off a head at all makes me think it isn't far from that.  Wow this is intense looking.

Ok, sh*t got real.  Vanilla, caramel, brown sugar,  booze, dark fruits, and alcohol.  I don't get so much of a toasted marshmallow like they suggested but more of a "I just opened this bag of marshmallows and it smells amazing" type of thing.  Very, very intense crazy smelling beer.  The alcohol in the aroma doesn't hide itself at all but just compliments the other aromas perfectly.  I have said other beers smelled intense but this is truly the definition of the word intense.  With some beers certain characteristics stick out more than others but this isn't the case at all with BB4D.  All of the aroma stick out evenly but do so in a big, in your face, and almost an overpowering way.  It smells like a bouquet of sin and I wouldn't have it any other way.

 First sip and I am hit with a nice vanilla, caramel, brown sugar sweetness on the tip of the tongue but but the time it reaches mid-palate it transforms into figs and raisins and other dark fruits drenched in bourbon.  While the flavors are big and really sweet, they are not overly sweet but rather the different kinds of sweetness balance each other out and then the alcohol on the finish really cuts them both and leaves your palate ready for another ladle full of liquid bliss.  Hmm, the more I drink of this the more it feels like there is a finish on the finish.  Followed by the boozy finish was some dark fruits with a very, very slight bit of tartness from maybe a black cherry? Wow.  If you can imagine a bigger, sweeter, less peaty, and a more boozy version of Backwoods Bastard then this is what you would be imaging.   I can't quite give you a recommendation for something to drink in its place because there isn't one.  

Not too syrupy in mouthfeel but definitely heavy in the mouth but in the best of ways.  So far this ranks in my top 3 beers of 2013 so far and this is one that I don't think will lose its place.  You have two options.  Live vicariously through my reviews (which I would love!) or trade for this. I know I will be trading for this stuff whenever it becomes available.

Cheers ladies and gentlemen!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Night Shift Brewing Barrel Society

With these barrel society memberships becoming increasingly popular with breweries across the United States, Night Shift Brewing out of Everett, Massachusetts decided to try their hand at it.  In 2013 they plan to release 7 barrel aged beers throughout the year to those (us) lucky members of their barrel society.  They compared their idea of the barrel society to farm's CSA (community supported agriculture).  The members help fund the project and then once the crop, or beer in their case, is ready then the community gets to reap the benefits of what was inside the barrel.  Personally, I have never had anything from Night Shift but that will all change this month with the release of their first barrel aged beer; a wheatwine aged in brandy barrels for 5 months.  

The wheatwine, according to Michael Oxton of Night Shift brewing, will have rich honey notes along with notes of caramel, maple syrup, and a subtle warmth of alcohol with no burn on the finish.  The idea behind them releasing two of each of their beers per membership is that one beer is to be consumed fresh and one to be cellared and see how it changes over time.  Unfortunately for me I am splitting the membership so I will, of course, consume this fresh to see how it is and give a review of it but according to Michael, aging this beer will help bring out more of the malty notes in the beer as well as bring out more of the honey characteristics in the beer.

 Michael says that, "We've now sourced white wine, red wine, brandy, rum, and bourbon barrels. Can't say for sure which ones will definitely be used for barrel society beers this year, but likely a combination of most of those. They're sourced from all over (the wines mostly from CA), but I'm particularly excited about the Jamaican rum barrels."

"For the beers, I'm actually really pumped about the wheat wine (releasing first), and (likely releasing last or close to it) a barleywine we just brewed, that features maple syrup, brown sugar, and should hit the rum barrels shortly."  

I have to agree with him about being most excited for the Jamaican rum barrels because it seems there has been an over saturation with bourbon barrel aged beers.  That's not to say that these aren't well crafted and delicious beers but with so many other spirits out there the idea of using other barrels does nothing but increase the creativity of brewers, and being such a newcomer to the brewing industry the creative use of other barrels will do nothing but help make their brand even more popular and unique than it has already become.  

Something that interested me was their idea for a barrel aged IPA because not too many brewers have released such a beer because of the fact that hop characteristics fade over time and considering the beer will have spent at least four months in some type of barrel I would guess that it would have to have a firm malty backbone to stand up to the barrel aging but, instead,  this beer will actually be dry hopped in the barrels or in the brite tanks after it has been transferred out of the barrel.  Though Michael didn't specify the type of hop they plan to use in this process, I have no doubt that the flavors of barrel will pair nicely with the big aroma and flavor the beer will have after it is dry hopped.  Personally, I would love to try a dry-hopped IPA aged in a white wine barrels but that is up to the fellas over at Night Shift to decide.

With their Berliner Weisse style beers being their most popular style so far the fun isn't going to stop there.  Guezes and Lambics are both very likely to be part of the brewery's future and a flanders red which Michael said was, "coming along nicely," and "it should taste awesomely funky when it does release."  Their flanders red is one of the beers being released to the barrel society and has been aging in barrels since the middle of 2012. 

One of the biggest selling points for me when it came to joining their barrel society was the idea of a crowd sourced barrel aged beer.  I can't think of other breweries who have done with their members only clubs so this was an interesting idea.  I wasn't sure if this was going to be generic and the members get an email where we choose from the option of four different beers and we just choose, A, B, C, or D but this isn't going to be the case at all, in fact, the members are going to have a lot more say in the final product than initially thought.  Here is what Michael said on the topic of the crowd sourced barrel aged beer:

"Our strategy for the crowd-sourced beer is to plan it in phases. We'll likely start with a bunch of initial general options for everyone to choose from (beer style, barrel type, ABV, sour or not, etc), then, based on the voting, decide on a good combination of those options and allow for additional voting on more specific criteria (malts and hops used, yeast, brewing/fermentation techniques, etc). We're planning that out now ourselves, so nothing set in stone, but we want our members to be as influential as possible in deciding on this beer."

I love their idea so far for this and I like how it really gives its member a voice on what they/we want and it really gives us a sense of creativity that we can share with the brewers themselves without actually being there in the brewhouse with them.  

With so many of their beers being in barrels now, or have the intent to reach some type of barrel, the idea of blending beers isn't out of the question but it depends on how the beer is tasting when they are ready before they determine if it needs to be blended.  

I expect big and great things from Night Shift this year between the release of all 7 of the barrel society beers and the renovation of their brewery which is happening right now.  

Find them on and facebook and check out their website. They have some pretty sweet tulip glasses for sale that I have had my eye on and I know every beer geek is always looking to add glassware to their collection.

Cheers ladies and gentlemen!

Monday, February 4, 2013

New England Brewing Company - Ghandi Bot

Nothing on the Nebco website about this beer but it has been a want of mine for a while and thankfully BeerAdvocate member Davey101 was able to hook me up with a can of it as an extra.  Also in the box is another little goody I'll be reviewing in the next few days!

I only have limited knowledge of this beer but it is a rotating release from New England Brewing Co. and is an Imperial IPA that clocks in at a 8.80%abv.


Ghandi Bot poured a rusty copper color and left about a 2 finger head after the pour.  The head did dissipate but it is leaving a very nice lacing down the glass and leaves nice frothy lace around the glass when you swirl it.  The head is made up mostly of soapy white bubbles and also seems to leave a slight film over the top of the beer.  This beer has some clarity to it but definitely won't win any awards with it as it does have some haze throughout the glass but I personally love a hazy IPA.

Up front I get a big dank aroma from the hops but then right after that I get a tropical fruit note and some really sweet peach in there as well.  Definitely some light pine mixed in there as well as well as a really nice sweet malt in there as well.  I love the aroma on this so far.  Maybe if Marble IPA and Heady Topper were blended together this would be the outcome.  The more and more I smell this the more tropical fruit and peach I get. I am definitely in for a treat because I have fell in love with any IPA that has an aroma similar to this.

Hmm.  So on the front end I get a real small amount of citrus and pine and a somewhat bigger malt sweetness.  I get bitterness right on the front of the tongue but the flavor doesn't really come out until mid palate where I get a mixture of orange and grapefruit and small amount of pine and some of that tropical fruit and peach I was getting in the aroma.  I am really impressed with the flavors so far.  Everything I was getting on the nose I am getting in even amounts in my mouth and a sweet bready malt bring it all together.  Finish is mostly grapefruit and then a soft bitterness that lingers for a while after the finish but really just helps cleanse the palate for another drink more so than wrecking it.  Delicious beer but I really wish there was something more on the front of the palate other than just being almost non-existent.  I would probably be blown away right now had the front of the beer be as great as it was in the middle and end of my mouth.  Maybe my taste buds are off today?

I will have to revisit this again for sure.  It is a really delicious and juicy IPA with just enough pine to make it interesting and a nice sweet malt that holds everything together but it I need more than just subtle characteristics on the front of the palate before it gives way into the waves of flavor that hit the middle of the mouth.  It is very possible that I am just having an off night so don't condemn me for this review.  I will review this again down the line and update this accordingly!

Cheers ladies and gentlemen!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Firestone Walker Sucaba 2012

From Firestone Walker:

"Big boozy bourbon and American oak aromas combined with soft chocolate malty undertones. Complex malt flavors framed in oak, with hints of dark chocolate, vanilla, tobacco, coconut and just a touch of dark cherry. This is definitely a sipping beer, best served in a brandy snifter. This ale pairs well with dark chocolate and sturdy cheeses."

Been excited to try this ever since I received it in a trade.  I have heard nothing but great things about it but I have dragged my feet when it came to opening it but on a cold Northwest Indiana day and nothing to do I figured this was a perfect time to open it.  I've only had a few of Firestone Walkers barrel aged beers but none of their big 4 so I am very looking forward to this.

Out of the bottle Sucaba poured a somewhat clear brown with a little red mixed in there as well.  In the glass it is a deep red color and I can hardly see anything through it.  As it poured it brought out a small 1 finger head that soon left nothing but a ring around the beer where it meets the glass.  No real lacing but the beer definitely does stick the glass when swirled but runs back down into the beer.  Nothing awesome as far as looks go, at least compared to Barrel Aged Naked Evil, but I am just being nit picky because this will probably be the only criticism I have of this beer.

Right upfront I get those barrel notes of oak and whiskey and vanilla but these aromas don't overpower the beer at all.  I get a big dark fruit note in there as well that mixes with a big caramel-y and toffee backbone.  Definitely a big beer but also extremely well balanced with all these big aromas playing off each other.  As the beer sits in the glass without being agitated the biggest notes on the nose are definitely a sweet vanilla and oaky character and then followed more by the caramel but swirling the beer definitely opens it up and brings that raisin and fig to the forefront and uses the vanilla and caramel as a luscious canvas of a different type of sweet.  If the taste matches the aroma then I will be expecting a balance between sweet, ripe dark fruits and a decadent sweet vanilla and caramel.


I really wasn't expecting this type of balance in the beer.  Upfront I get the barrel characters like oak and vanilla but towards the middle and finish I get huge ripe dark fruits and a small amount caramel.  I get a bit of a bitterness on the finish and a small note of alcohol as well as warming in the chest.  On the finish there is also a very nice subtle coconut character that I really enjoy because that isn't really something I get in other barrel aged beers.  The coconut isn't as big as it is in Stickee Monkee or Velvet Merkin but it is there and compliments the front and the middle of the palate perfectly.  As I taste more of this I think the slight bitterness on the finish comes from a bittersweet chocolate which is interesting.  With the subtle coconut and heat the finish is dry and really helps welcome in another sip.

I have a bit of this left and I enjoyed every sip I have taken as it seems to get even better with each sip you take.  I really appreciate how well balanced this beer is and the dark fruits in here are big and in your face while the caramel really helps it along to bring it all together.  Having said that, and I am scared to say this, I have to say this might be my least favorite of the barrel aged barleywines I have had.  King Henry was exceptional (actually, I plan to open one with a buddy fairly soon),  Barrel Aged Behemoth is outstanding despite the price tag, Barrel Aged Naked Evil blew me away and is possibly my favorite beer I have had this year.  Considering I would rate all of the beers I just listed as an A, I would probably rate Sucaba as an A-.  Will I seek it out again? For sure, it is a great beer and possibly one of the most balanced barrel aged beers I have had but for my palate I would have to give the edge to others I listed.  With all that said, this is a great beer and definitely something I will seek out when this years vintage is released.

Cheers ladies and gentlemen!