Prix fixe

I blurred out the price on this bottle because I'm trying not to be gauche. But yes, it was expensive and I've saved up for months and months to get this. 

Let me tell you all about this beer. When I popped it open, there was an eruption of foam and everyone ran for cover. Yes, I had shaken it before much like a bottle of champagne, yelling "let them eat cake!" and "oligarchy!" intermittently, but h-what h-what. 

This beer is delicious. Gorgeous color, deep, rich taste, a slightly cloying aftertaste that basically just says "ok dude, have a little more". Basically, I am really enjoying this beer. Thanks, de Garde!

Salud, salaud.

It's really important that you know this isn't a lager. I'm going to throw a lot of words at you in a bit. Dry-hopped. Pinot noir. Bacteria. The farmhouse at the beginning of Westworld. Smith Rock. This beer is none of those things. But before I get into too many descriptors -- all aboard along this gastronomic voyage -- here's a cute little picture of a cute little beer.

Breakside - Bon Vivant, feat. Smith Rock Ascent

If you're used to swimming in the ocean/sea -- this beer will make you feel like you've just dived into a river/lake. There's a lot of the same (rapid temperature change, you're wet, something's touching your foot), but something's off

"This is going to be so much fun." - Girlfriend

In this case it's a feature, not a bug. The pinot noir and brettanomyces (not sure if that's right) give this its own personality. I'm really digging it. It's also a gorgeous beer. Even though this stylistic pastiche is far from the boring PNW IPAs I dump inside me on the reg., I feel like I could add it to the rotation. In fact, drinking it more would probably make me better at describing it.

Keep knocking it out of the park, Breakside! 

Nihilism: A Beer

There's a saying about the weather in Portland. It's quite nice.

if you don't like it, just wait a minute. 

Well, I can conclusively tell you that the saying is BS. I've spent 40 days in this Noah's Ark hellscape, understanding what the legal difference between water-resistant and waterproof are. Move to Portland, they said. It rains a lot but you get used to it, they said.

One day the sun shall return, and we'll all wear tank tops and go outside. In the interim, however there is The Nothing. The what, you ask? 

The Nothing.

The Nothing

The Nothing

"Describe the beer," you ask?

Fine. It's really rich. It is DARK as sin. Not sure what this 2x Chocolate idea means -- this is clearly a ruse. They meant 2^2 (dark) chocolate. YUM.

This beer makes you happy and forget the weather outside. Ignore the name of the brewery -- unless you live in L.A., it doesn't necessarily mean that you're more susceptible to any of the diseases originating from smog/pollution that kill millions of people every year. And if you do live in LA -- drink up! This stuff is GOOD.

Devil's Krazy Kriek

Double Mountain is one of my favorite breweries. I live close enough to the SE location that I can spend too much money on pizza rather often, so I'm quite happy about that.

The Devil's Kriek is a #dope beer. I love it to death. This is the 2014 version. It is a Belgian-style Sour Ale, brewed with cherries and a whole bunch of love. I can't drink this kind of beer on a daily basis -- for financial and palate reasons -- but I can't recommend it enough. It doesn't have any head, comes out a reddish/copper color, and has a mildly sticky mouthfeel. It smells tart-er than a hussie in Victorian England. Tastes yummier than most of the beers I've previously described on this blog. I'm a huge fan. 

Sticking your nose in it feels like inhaling a bunch of old, rotten, yummy yummy cherries, but not in a bad way.

Long time no hops

I had one beer last week, and it was a total disaster. Almaza, the mass-market beaver urine manufacturer owned by Heineken, makes an 'Almaza Light' beer, which is 2.7% alcohol and 97.3% beaver urine. I drank some of one, and this is not a review of that beer.

This is a review of Golden Road Brewing's flagship beer, the Point The Way IPA. Suffice to say that it is super yummy.

Bubbly, fresh, hoppy, good good stuff. Good, good stuff.

That's it for today.

So much Victory, you may get tired of it

For my third birthday, I thought I'd revisit an old favorite. Ballast Point's Victory at Sea, with coffee & vanilla. This is one rich beer. It brings 10% ABV with all that flavor, but doesn't really remind you of it until you get towards the end.

Here's how this thing flows. Acidic. Thick and creamy, like a boozy milkshake. Powdered coffee beans all over the place. Bit of frothiness coats your teeth, and makes sure the flavor is all over the place.

Bubbles, bubbles, bubbles, vanilla! That's pretty much the story of every sip. You can smell the coffee. It's pretty great. 

I wouldn't drink this first thing in the morning, or on a hot day, but this is the way to go if you're snuggled inside and need something to keep you awake while avoiding tomorrow.

Patience is a virtue

Apparently people get more of a rise out of the act of waiting for something than doing the thing itself (citation pending). Like Chandler, Rachel, and Phoebe in Friends, I should have waited to have Culmination Brewing's EupHorie at the right time. Instead, it would seem that I drank this Brett IPA far too early. 

The label, at least, remained pretty cool. Poured with a ton of foam, smells like a nice, piny, West Coast IPA, is an easy drink with pleasant mouthfeel - and that's about it. I'm a little disappointed, but I blame myself. 

See all that Brett-y foam?

See all that Brett-y foam?

Read This Out Loud With a Mouth Full of Molasses

Wax, cap, and cork -- Round 2. Again, Crux Fermentation Project goes all out to protect their beer from being opened at a grocery store. But I can see why!

This beer is called Tough Love. It's a barrel-aged imperial stout, aged in bourbon barrels, brewed with black strap molasses and spices. It pours DARK as sin, smells like you're stuck in a molasses refinery, and drinks rich. 

It's been a hot day here, so I'm a little surprised at how much I'm enjoying this. Truly a testament to the fine work that those fine folks are doing. I'd write more about it, but I'm mostly enjoying drinking it. I suggest you drive your little butt down to Bend and buy a bottle from the brewery. Sure, it might be available closer-by, but it's a nice drive and it's definitely worth hanging out in their outdoor area. Tip generously.

Better Off Drank

Crux Fermentation Co.'s Better Off Red is a Barrel-Aged Flanders-Style Red Ale, which means that it's tangy and powerful and yummy. More on this later. 

The cap is covered in wax - which sometimes just means '$3 more, please!' - but, to my surprise, there's a cork hiding under it! Whoa! The beer pours out with a lot of sediment. I've learned in wine that sediment is equivalent to character, and the same appears to be true here.

At a first taste, it's a little bit flat, and not as overwhelmingly robust as I had feared (I think that I was a little intimidated by the wax, cap, and cork, sort of like Magneto's multi-layered prison in that X-Men movie). That isn't to say that it isn't delicious - and let me count the ways.

 

SEVEN. This is delicious for seven different reasons.

  • It smells like a sour bomb.
  • It tastes a tiny bit chalky? This is primarily a mouthfeel descriptor.
  • Bubbles are TINY.
  • The color is very mild. 
  • Not a ton of head.
  • Tastes of blackberries, the cherry taste in cherry-flavored chocolate, but not chocolate, a little bit of malt, and a TINY bit of warhead. 
  • It's Friday. I started this post off with a title that is a pun on a beer name that is a pun. How much detail did you expect? Doi!

So there you have it folks. It's a beer!

Zoom! Zoom! Zoom! (Sound of Incoming Lawsuit)

As it turns out, Bear Republic is based in Sonoma County, California. In the midst of all those vines and wineries, some people people got together and thought 'Gee, I should make some beer that's really hoppy'. And they do a really good job!

Racer 5 (V?) is one of my absolute favorite IPA's. It's amazing, has a wonderful balance, and is a little 'unfinished' in its own way, which is really endearing to me.

Racer X (today's beer) has the exact same essence as its younger sibling, but turned up to 11. Actually, I shouldn't really say that, because I think there a Racer XV, and I want to make sure I have an adequate expression for that review. Let's just tentatively say they turned it up to 7 & 2/3rds. Cool.

Delicious beer. Looks pretty cool as well. Yum!

Mortal Sin

My heart is racing. My hands are trembling. Knees weak, arms are heavy. Caffeine caffeine caffeine overdose. 

Of course, the heathen Canadiens would come up with a beer so dastardly that they'd have to warn you right on the label. Péché Mortel is Québecois for 'this beer has a lot of coffee in it'.

This beer is so freaking dark. There is so much coffee in it. It's ridiculous. If I were a part of a religion that prohibited caffeine but allowed alcohol, it would still be undrinkable. However, I want to stress that this isn't a bad beer. It's probably a pretty good beer! It's definitely a great cup of joe.

Smells like cold brew. Pours super thick - like a latte! Had barely any head to it. Lightly carbonated, but nothing to write home about. 

Back to Basics

Tonight we're drinking Origins (Batch #5), by Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project. It's a burgundy sour ale, aged in oak barrels, it's brewed out in Denver, and it tastes like magic - but before I get started, a quick announcement.

Today marks two years since Brett and I first started this project. We've come a long way since then, documenting beers and cheeses from around the globe, all around the globe, and even briefly achieving national acclaim, but we couldn't have done it without you. You, our loyal readers, have kept this site afloat, through your generous donations and incessant support. You've held us up, and kept us humble. We couldn't have done it without you - so, cheers, to you!

Now, back to me.

The best way to describe this beer is that it tastes exactly like the bottle looks. This is the sort of beer that would be described in a Dan Brown novel - it's sour, due to the sourness, and yummy, due to the yumminess - and for exactly that same reason, it's delightful.

It looks really dark, but when held up to the light, some Coppertones(tm) are visible, around the edges. The slightly bumpy head it poured with has now entirely dissipated. It smells a lot more mellow than it tastes, which suggests that I am congested. It is a definite lip-smacker - a lot of sour strawberries, some WarHead candies (not sure which ones), and acidity. Delicious, very powerful, yummy. 

That's all I've got tonight, folks! Cheers!

Solidarity, or why you should drink your beer at the right temperature.

Dear reader, a quick disclaimer: you should know that Breakside Brewery has been one of my favorite breweries for a while now. Had I not been charmed many a time by their beers (shoutout to the India Golden Ale) and burgers, I probably wouldn't have given this beer the chance to claw its way back to a temperature that it could express itself in before mercilessly tearing it apart (see here for an example).

Today, we're (the royal we, aka moi) drinking Solidarity, a Belgian Style Abbey Ale fermented in pinot noir barrels. And I'm 80% sure I poured it into the wrong glass, but I'm mostly ok with it.

However, my faith has rewarded me. This beer is yummy yummy in my tummy. Let's get the immediate stuff that you can tell from the picture out of the way. This beer has no head, a brownish color, and not that much mouthfeel or taste at colder temperatures. This beer should be served at room temperature, without air conditioning, in the fall.

Now that we're at a reasonable temperature, let's talk smells. Light, buttery rum. Wet copper (yes, I'm totally serious). Creme brulee. Something astringent, but just a little bit, and it isn't bad, so I'm sorry for bringing it up.

Let's talk tastes, son! Tastes like beer, but just barely. Most of the smells I described, but they linger more, and taste even more. But also citrus! Tangy stuff. Caramel. The texture of cherries, without the flavor. Speaking of mouthfeel, nothing crazy, just not a ton going on.

That's it! I'm going to finish this beer now.

"Reach for a Buoy," they suggested, self-servingly.

In today's fictional story, I am at sea. The waves are crashing, and I am sans floatation devices. We don't need to explore how I got here, because it's not relevant to the beer review. 

So I'm totally adrift, and Ballast Point's Sculpin is flashing before my eyes, when I realize that the flash is actually coming from a buoy.

The audience audibly groans, realizing that it's going to be one of those reviews.

Hailing from Astoria, Oregon, Buoy Beer Co.'s aptly named IPA is a beautiful beer. It's not complex or overwhelming. It's pretty decent. I'm not kidding when I say that it has a bit of 'sea' taste to it - it's a little weird - but I don't mind it! It's refreshing, crisp, light, and I like the artwork and the city it comes from.

Also, apparently the brewery has a glass floor to it. It's like the opposite of a glass ceiling.

Ninja Edit: I just had a larger swig. Man, this is alcohol forward. 

Golden Times

It was the best of times, and it was the best of times. Really, the best of times. The rise of craft beer mirrors Silicon Valley - meteoric, hyped, and rapidly corporatizing. This beer is no overhyped "Uber of X." This is the real deal.

Aroma: Peaches, hops, nectarine, crispness.

Mouthfeel: Pleasant, light, texturey, flavorful.

Taste: Pine, rich apples, hops, hope.

Old Shoes

image.jpg

What's that comforting thing about old shoes? It's difficult to tell - from the feeling - if they mold themselves around your feet, or if your feet go out to fit them. Well, that uncertainty characterizes this beer.

I wouldn't have enjoyed this beer as much a few months ago. The rich, round notes (brown notes - wait, no) wouldn't have appealed to me as much. Where is the appeal in something that isn't overly hopped, saturated with chocolate, or super crispy? (In essence, why would anyone ever choose a brown ale?).

I don't have a particularly compelling answer to any of those questions. But I will say that I quite like drinking this beer. It's refreshing, stimulates my palate, and has a compelling dessert-like flavor profile without being overly sweet. It's  just a nice, end of day beer. Like slipping off a pair of shoes.

Wait, I broke my metaphor. /sips/

Queen of wow beer is yummy

Today's beer is called Queen of Heats, from the fantastic Pelican brewmasters in westernmost Oregon. Man alive!

This beer smells very strongly like a grapefruit sorbet scooped into a bowl made of jasmine leaves and springtime. It pours with very little head, and is clear and even-colored. The mouthfeel feels spritzy , effervescent, and dry. 

Dja dja dja gin barrel

Dja dja dja gin barrel

A lot of these qualities are likely due to the time it spent chilling in a gin barrel. 

It's delicious! Cheers!

Strains of Strand

We're lucky to have had the opportunity to try some beer from Strand Brewing Co., from Torrance, CA. Special thanks to Galen for bringing this back to us. Galen is our foreign correspondent, who is currently out scouting for more beer in Indonesia. Good luck out there in the micro-brew capital of the Far East!

Musashi is the delightful beer that we're trying today (spoiler alert!). It's a Black IPA that smells, tastes, and feels nothing like any of the several hundred beers in our proprietary database. 

This wine is characterized by a red wine motif - but not your regular Cabernet! A blackcurranty, sweet, deep, red wine. Barrel-aged notes also reign throughout, so everyone is happy all around.

The pour is dark and intriguing. It's entirely opaque. A light crown of bubbles decorate this beer. Yummy. The taste doesn't last all too long, but it's quite pleasant. Beautiful malts. 

All around, all I can say is that this is a delicious beer. I'm looking forward to what's in store the rest of this year!

Language

Today's beer is Deschutes Brewery's 'Armory XPA', an 'experimental pale ale'. As a long-time guinea pig, I thought this beer would be right up my alley.

The beer is slightly cloudy, and pours with a really thick head. I'm big fan of the beer's col on my pour - it definitely entices some of the flavors described on the bottle. I was hoping (no pun intended) for a little more pine-y bitterness to come out of the hops, but it's definitely more citrus-y and sweet than I would have wanted. I can, however, tell that the residual bitterness keeps me wanting another sip.

This is exactly what I want from a beer on a Sunday afternoon. Thanks, Deschutes! Also shoutout for managing to distribute to 21 states as an independent brewery. I'm not pointing fingers, but if I were, I'd point all ten of them.

Hop for Freedom

This review may somewhat break the mold in that I'm consuming the beer stragiht out of the can, and the words are coming straight to you. Je m'enfous (sp.?). We're drinking Evil Twin Brewing's Hipster Ale, an American Pale Ale straight out of Connecticut. I remember reading a long New York Times article about ETB's founder and his twin brother - time to finally put the beer where my mouth is.

Whether or not this beer has phenomenal head retention is TBD - but I will say that the carbonation in this beer tastes slightly different. The beer has a little bit more of a viscous texture than I was expecting, but it's actually turning out very nicely. I would imagine that the 'American' third of the name is a direct reference to the quantity of American hops invested in this beer. There is a very pleasant residual bitterness that I often only get from beers like Ninkasi's Total Domination or some double IPA's - but this balance between bitter and ethereal takes place at a calmer level. This beer is on the higher ABV end of the sessionable spectrum, but I would have at it all day if I had the chance/liver.

Final shoutout to the awesome can. I really enjoy the design motif of this sort of can - it must be really difficult to have labeling that distinguishes itself when you're on a beer shelf, but Evil Twin really sold it with this color palette.