Saturday, January 2, 2016

Stone Brewing Co. -- Enjoy After 12.26.15 Brett IPA

This beer is thanks to my buddy Brian and his wife Jenn who gave it to me for my birthday in January.  I faithfully cellared it in my closet waiting for this beer to age.

This beer is a Brett IPA, which the bottle describes as being spiked with Brettanomyces, a wild yeast "that, over time, brings about charmingly unpredictable complexities of spice, funk, acidity and more."  The idea behind this beer to follow in the footsteps of the original IPAs of the 1700s.  Brettanomyces was as common yeast in the barrels used to age those IPAs.  I like the idea of tasting beer the way it was originally enjoyed.  Part of why this beer requires aging until December 26, 2015 is so it can carbonate in the bottle.  I enjoyed mine on January 2, 2016 and found it to be lightly carbonated; however, the foamy head was a little out of control.  Initially when I poured it the glass was entirely foam.  Looking around online I did not have a unique experience.  With a lot of patience it receded enough so I could add some more until I had a full glass.

Tech specs: 750 ml bottle; 7% ABV; Hops include  super galena, simcoe, delta, target, amarillo, calypso, and cascade; 70 IBU

It is a straw color, but hazy with little bits of yeast settling at the bottom like home brew.  The wild yeast definitely makes this a unique beer with some fruity citrus tang and a little bit of sweetness.  The hops give a nice initial punch, and then they balance with the malt to give a lingering hoppy flavor.  This is my first Brett beer so to me and I found the bitterness was stronger than the typical hops noticeable in an IPA.   I can see why they describe the taste as "funk" as the yeast yields its obvious contribution. 

This isn't a beer I would drink every day, but that wasn't the intent.  It says "experiment" on the bottle.  I enjoyed this beer and wish I had a few more to spread out over the next year to see if the flavor changes further.  I would be happy to drink it again.

You can read my past Stone posts: 11.11.11 Vertical EpicImperial Russian Stout, Old Guardian Belgo Barley Style Wine, and Double Bastard Ale.  Sadly, I meant to do an entry on the Stone Brewery Tour, but never got around to it -- it's awesome, and if you can get a spot it is worth it.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

New Belgium + Ben & Jerry's -- Salted Caramel Brownie Brown Ale

Over the last few years collaborative beers have grown in popularity.  New Belgium Brewing Co. of Fort Collins, Colorado has teamed up with Ben & Jerry's of ice cream fame to create Salted Caramel Brownie Brown Ale.  It is both a beer and an ice cream.  After hearing about this beer from a friend I was surprised to find it at Costco for $5 for a 22 ounce bottle.  A portion of the profits go to Protect Our Winters to combat climate change.

It pours with almost no head, has a medium brown color, and a bit of a sweet caramel aroma.  Overall, it is a sweet smooth drinking brown ale.  It has and overall chocolate flavor, with some hints of vanilla.  The saltiness is a light touch at the end and balances well with the sweetness and a slightly bitter finish.  It is 6.3% ABV and is brewed with nugget and goldings hops.

I would definitely drink this again, although I wish the price was cheaper.  Now if only I could make a float with the Ben & Jerry's ice cream of the same name...

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Mammoth Brewing Company in Mammoth Lakes, California

Kiki and I recently were able to escape for a week of vacation.  I did a few days of fishing around Bridgeport, California (about 2.5 hours south of Reno, Nevada in Mono County, California).  Kiki picked me up mid-week and we roughed it the rest of the week at the Westin Monache Resort in Mammoth Lakes, California.  Besides being able to explore Yosemite National Park, the June Lakes loop, and Mammoth Lakes area we had a chance to stop by Mammoth Brewing Company to sample to fine brews from the highest elevation brewery on the west coast (8,000 feet in elevation).

Mammoth Brewing Co. has been in business since 1995.  They just arrived at the above pictured location about two months ago.  We were told that eventually they will also serve food.

Sweet view behind the taps!

I started out with a flight of "The Originals" which is $5 for two ounce pours of Golden Trout Pilsner, Paranoids Pale Ale, Real McCoy Amber, Double Nut Brown Porter, Epic IPA, IPA 395, and Root Beer.

Paranoids Pale Ale and Golden Trout Pilsner

Paranoids Pale Ale has a light body, a little bit hoppier than Sierra Nevada, and is slightly carbonated.  It is pretty easy drinking so it is pretty sessionable.  It is 5.5% ABV.  I enjoyed it so I picked up a couple 22 ounce bottles to take home for $6 each.

Golden Tout Pilsner is 5.5% ABV, has a light straw color, and lager flavor as you would expect from a pilsner.  The twist, however, is that it has a little bit of a creamy flavor.  Pilsners are not my favorite, but they appeal to some people.

 Double Nut Brown Porter and Real McCoy Amber

The Double Nut Brown Porter is a dark chocolate color with chocolate roasted malt flavor.  It won a gold medal in the 2012 World Beer Cup.  It is almost like Big Sky Brewing Co.'s Moose Drool, but less complex in flavor and a little bit sweeter.  It is 5.5% ABV.

Real McCoy Amber is 5.5% ABV, hazy, malty, and creamy.  It has a little bit of a chalk aftertaste, and a little bit of a lager flavor.  If you've read my other posts you know I'm not big on lagers; thus, this was not my favorite.

IPA 395 and Epic IPA

IPA 395 is a double IPA clocking in at a hefty 8% ABV.  As you can see it is darker and the color is more golden.  It is brewed with golden sage, which really cuts down on the hop flavor, and is also brewed with juniper berries and wild hops.  Highway 395 is the highway that goes from the Mojave desert all the way up to Washington State.  It cuts right through the Owens Valley along the Eastern Sierra Nevada Mounts so this beer is a homage to the local landscape and local ingredients.  I was really able to taste the sage, which I loved since when you get out in the Owens Valley and are surrounded by sage you can really smell it before you get adjusted.  Overall, this beer is pretty mellow and easy drinking for a double IPA.  I would definitely recommend it.  They sell 22 ounce bottles for $6 each.

Epic IPA is 6.5% ABV and is a traditional IPA with hoppy grapefruit flavors.  It is very aromatic of hops and gives a long hop aftertaste.  It is golden in color.  Overall, its a good IPA but there isn't really anything to set this apart from the multitude of IPAs on the market.

I almost called it good right there, but Kiki talked me into trying the flight of seasonal beers.  For $7 you get two ounce pours of their seasonal beers, which for Summer 2014 included: Dos Osos, El Capitan, Hair of the Bear, Wild Sierra, Rye of the Tiger, Bondibock, and Black Bear Stout.

 Dos Osos and El Capitan

Dos Osos is a 7.5% ABV Mexican style dark lager with vanilla, cocoa, cinnamon, and coffee flavors.  Since it is brewed with coffee it has a little bit of caffeine.  The coffee, by the way, comes from Black Velvet coffee down the street from the brewery.  It is light brown in color and smells like root beer.  It is very smooth and creamy.  Over the last couple of years I have grown in my appreciation for Mexican dark lagers and found this to be a great beer.

El Capitan obviously is a reference to nearby Yosemite National Park.  It is a 9.5% double IPA with a golden color.  It is a little spicy.  It is brewed with local pine needles, wild yeast, and some brown sugar is added which cuts the spiceiness.  It is less aromatic than Epic IPA. 

 Hair of the Bear and Wild Sierra

Hair of hte Bear is a German lager double bock at a hefty 9% ABV.  It is brewed with dark Munich malts with extra lagering time.  It is unfiltered so it has some yeast sediment.  It has a nice copper color, traditional bock maltiness, and is a little creamy.  For some reason at first I wasn't impressed, but it grew on me after a few sips.

Wild Sierra is a saison farmhouse ale with 7.5% ABV.  It yeasty flavors and is light and bubbly.  It is unfiltered with a  cloudy straw color.  It smells a little fruity and yeasty, and when you taste it there are some white wine flavors.  It is brewed with Pilsner, Rye, Vienna, and light crystal malts.  It is brewed with three yeasts: Belgian, Saison, and wild yeast from local pinon pine needles.  It is a unique flavor, and I think its cool that they used pinon pine needles, but saisons are never my favorite.  In any event, it is worth sampling.

Blondibock and Rye of the Tiger

Bondibock is a German rye ale aged in bourbon barrels, which was first brewed in 2011 for the local Mammoth Lakes Bluesapalooza.  Since then it has been brought back every summer since.  This beer is aged in bourbon barrels which imparts great flavors.  It smells more like whiskey than beer.  It has complex whiskey and caramel flavors.  It is very smooth drinking and was one of my favorites.  It is 7.5% ABV.

Rye of the Tiger is a 5% ABV session beer that was an experimental combination of a rye beer and an IPA.  It has a dry and malty finish.  It is light and crisp with a golden copper color.  It smells slightly hoppy, but the rye balances out the hops on the nose, but then there is a slight crisp hoppy aftertaste.

The Black Bear Stout is 9% ABV with block color and a creamy head.  It is nitrogen charged so the carbonation cascades like Guinness.  It is extra malty, creamy, and smooth.  There are coffee and chocolate flavors like a lot of stouts.  It is very lightly carbonated and slides down your throat pretty easily.  

Finally, I finished the whole thing off with the root beer from the first flight.  The root beer seemed pretty classic to me with a nice sweet root beer flavor.  Kiki appreciated having the root beer option since she isn't big on beers and was the designated driver.

Toomey's Ultimate Hot Dog

After hitting up Mammoth Brewing Co. we stopped by Toomey's for a mid-afternoon snack.  Toomey's got great reviews on Yelp and was near our hotel in "The Village."  For the Ultimate Hot Dog you can list off ingredients and they'll put them on if they have them.  I had mine with bacon, avocado, and jalapenos.  After drinking all that beer on an empty stomach this hot dog was much appreciated.  Toomey's was nice with a good menu selection and friendly staff, but not nearly as cool as Feeney's Starlight Cafe -- I had the kimchi burrito at Feeney's which was excellent.

I am pretty much a want-to-be mountain man so I enjoyed being in beautiful Mammoth Lakes.  If you're in the area Mammoth Brewing Company is definitely worth the stop.  They make some great beers and we found the staff to be knowledgable and friendly.


I'll leave you with a photo of Half Dome as viewed from Glacier Point in Yosemite National Park:

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Indian Wells Brewing Co. -- Lobotomy Bock Lager

Indian Wells Brewing Co. right off California Highway 14

Inside Indian Wells Brewing Co.

Indian Wells Brewing Company hails from Inyokern, California in the high desert near the city of Ridgecrest.  If you head north on Highway 14 towards the Owens Valley and Mammoth Mountain you will drive right by it before you hit Highway 395.  The brewery is uniquely situated by a natural spring which allows it access to high quality water.  Geologists believe snow melt from Mount Whitney (the highest point in the lower 48 states just north of the brewery) flows through an underground river to create the spring.

I found myself introduced to Indian Wells Brewing by my hunting buddy after a weekend of deer hunting up in the Owens Valley.  Whether you're heading up to the Eastern Sierras to play, out to the desert to romp in the dirt, or are stationed out of China Lake, Indian Wells is worth a stop.  They sell beer, soda, candy, and have plenty of samples from the tap.  A six pack is reasonably priced at $7.99 and a case is $29.99.

The historic marker outside the brewery reads: "After five days travel from the Argus Range, the Manley-Jawhawker parties of 1849 found their first water at this Indian waterhole on the Joseph R. Walker Trail of 1843.  During the 1860s this was the site of a stage and freight station for traffic between Los Angeles and Coso and Cerro Gordo Mines.

Lobotomy Bock tastes like a bock meets a stout meets a lager.  It pours dark brown with a bit of creamy colored foam that quickly dissipates.  It seems fairly light bodied which is surprising since it is 10.8% ABV -- in other words, it has twice the alcohol content of most beers and is even more alcoholic than many barley wines.  It is fairly carbonated and the flavors are mostly bitter, toasty burnt, and malty.  It is brewed with five different types of malts, but the malt profile tends to be surprisingly subtle because of the bitterness.  Not much hoppiness here since the hops are added to the finish of the boil.  It has a long coffee ground aftertaste.  Bocks were originally strong dark German lagers.  Many bocks tend to be lighter brown; however, this is a dopple bock - AKA double bock - which were brewed by Friars as liquid bread during times of fasting.  Overall, Lobotomy Bock is pretty easy drinking for a strong beer so be careful.  Its not something I would drink everyday, but it is worth the adventure.  Cheers!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

JosephsBrau Brewing Co. - Stockyard Oatmeal Stout

JosephsBrau Brewing Co. in San Jose, CA is Trader Joe's brewery.  In other words don't expect to find this anywhere but TJ's.  And like many products at TJ's, you'll discover something you love and then they won't keep it in stock.

Stockyard Oatmeal Stout is black like diesel and pours with little head.  It is not as heavy as you would think.  Beers are like coffee in that the roasting of coffee beans imparts different flavors, and with beer it is the roasting of malts and darker beers have malts roasted longer.  Stockyard is a medium bodied beer with 5.2% ABV.  Some stouts have more coffee flavors, and some are more chocolate flavored.  This is one definitely a sweet and creamy chocolate stout with hints of vanilla.  There is a little bit of malty bitterness at the end, but this lightly carbonated beer goes down smoothly.

If you are a stranger to dark beers this would be a good on to start with.  It's a lot different than Guinness, but easy on the palate.

Overall, this is a great beer.  Trader Joe's knocked this one out of the park!  Cheers!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Samuel Adams Small Batch Collection -- Verloren

 This is the final installation of my review of the $20 four bottle small batch collection that I picked up from Costco.  Check out my reviews of Third Voyage Double IPA, Imperial White, and Honey Queen Braggot.

The Boston Beer Co.'s Samuel Adams Small Batch Collection are their higher quality and experimental beers.  Verloren is no exception.  It is an attempt to recreate ales from ancient Saxony.  Gose has an unfiltered wheat ale as its base, which is why it has a hazy golden hefeweizen-like hue.  It pours with a foamy sparkly head which quickly dissipates. 

It is brewed with Saaz hops, salt, and coriander.  The hops are barely noticeable because this beer is malty smooth and yeast-y like most wheat beers, but to me the difference is the salt with a little bit of pepper flavor.  It is smooth, crisp, and fizzy.  Other people on the interweb talk about this beer being full of citrus and orange flavors, but I'm not tasting it out of this bottle.  It is very drinkable and interesting, but not something I necessarily need to try again; however, I do appreciate that it is a different take on wheat beer, and the saltiness makes it easier to pair.  I'm classy and pairing it with a hot dog and beans, but this is a versatile beer that will pair well with burgers, steaks, and even salads.  Cheers!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Samuel Adams Small Batch Collection -- Honey Queen

This is the third post in a series about Boston Beer Co.'s (AKA Samuel Adams) small batch collection.  Check out my previous posts on Third Voyage Double IPA and Imperial White.

Honey Queen pours golden straw like a lager, but fortunately it is no lager.  It smells like creamy honey.  It claims to be "Ale brewed with honey, chamomile, and with natural flavors added" and 7.5% ABV.  You'll notice that at the bottom of label it says "Barggot," which apparently is a blend of mead and beer that can trace its roots as far back as the 12th century.  The back of the bottle calls it a "whimsical brew that is floral with a tart sweetness and a much awaited honey finish."

Usually honey beers don't seem to keep their flavor (maybe that's why this also has "natural flavors").  I met a guy that was ridiculously into home brewing who told me that that the problem with honey beers is that they need to be pasteurized.

I have to go out on a limb and say this is probably the best honey beer I've ever had.  Its so good I almost didn't want to share with Kiki...but as a good husband I shared a few sips.  She doesn't normally like beers, but she liked this one.  This beer is light, smooth, a little bread-y, and very sweet.  I'm not a big sweet beer person, but I do like mead and this is a nice change from beers that are either really malty or really hoppy.  It packs a lot of honey flavor with a slight malty finish.  There are hints of citrus and vanilla.  After a long day of working around the house on a hot Labor Day weekend this beer hits the spot!  It's creamy smooth flavor is great for a hot summer day and is hard to put down.  Cheers!