Saturday, April 6, 2013

Quality and Community: The Benefits of Switching to Craft Beer

Over the years of my craft beer consumption, I've been asked a lot of questions. Usually it's the garden-variety stuff like, "So what got you into craft beer?"or "What's the weirdest type of beer you've ever had?" Almost always, they're about my personal history or preference when it comes to beer. There's one question, though, that has always been my favorite to answer:

"What's so special about craft beer?"

Anytime someone throws this one at me, I switch from Brian-the-conversationalist to Brian-the-passionate. This is the one question almost every craft beer drinker has been asked, and it's one that they should have an answer for regardless.

It can be tricky answer, as every craft consumer takes a different journey down the proverbial dirt-road to reach their ultimate destination. Over the years, I've tried to make my response less and less personal. I don't like to just answer the question, I like to be persuasive, damn it! This isn't a question about my personal journey, it's a question about the industry as a whole, and I have to remove myself from the equation as much as possible until I finally drive the point home.

The short answer I give is this: quality and community.

Quality is a tricky one to explain to people. After all, the BMC macros (Bud, Miller, Coors) are the most widely-drank beer in the States, and it's really not even close. The total market share for craft beer in 2012? A grand total of 6.5%.  So who am I to say that this their beer isn't high-quality stuff. After, quality is pretty much a subjective issue, isn't it?

Fuck you and your shitty tastebuds! Fight the macros, maaaan!

The thing is this: there are objective aspects to beer, and macrobreweries fail at almost every single one of them. Ingredients? Budweiser is made with 30% rice to make it super-affordable, but that 30% could be used to, you know, actually give the beer flavor. What about the all-powerful TRIPLE-HOPS-BREWED MASSACRE Miller Lite? Well, the most recent word is that they don't even really use hops, just hop extracts. Seriously, at what point does a beer cease to be a beer?

Now, I hate to sound smug. I've always been a drink-what-you-enjoy person. Lord knows, no one's ever going to persuade me to switch to Absinthe. Still, there's no denying that the macros are brewed to have a relatively weak flavor. What's more, they significantly lack in variety. I'm thoroughly convinced you could do one of those Pepsi-challenge thing-a-ma-bobs with beer and no one could pick between Bud Miller and Coors. They're all the same style, and they're all incredibly similar in flavor. That's not something that will happen once you start venturing down the road of stouts, IPAs, and lambics.

So what about the social aspect of beer? Historically, beer has been a very social drink. Aside from maybe kicking back with a brew on a hot, summer day, the phrase "drinking beer" almost always brings some sort of social gathering to mind. From bros playing beer pong to huge festivals (Oktoberfest, anyone), beer just screams comradery... or cleavage, depending what kind of Oktoberfest you go to.

Every other image more focused on the cleavage

The fact of the matter is that the craft beer scene is extremely communal. Collaborations? Happens all of time. Banding together to help the latest brewery get its feet off the ground? Boom.

It boils down to this: all craft brewers are also craft drinkers, and if there's one thing craft drinkers enjoy, it's sharing a brew we've never had before. It just makes sense that the communities support each other and encourage experimentation and expansion. Ultimately, brewing's an art form and we're always excited about the next big thing as much as we are the all-time classics.

On top of that, go back to that original link and you'll see that over 150,000 local jobs were created by local breweries in the past year ago. So it's communal in more than one sense of the word. Not only is it social, it's also bolstering local economies. Seriously, what isn't to love about that.

I guess to sum things up into one neat, little package, I'll just say this: switching to craft beer will mean paying more for your drink, yes, but the benefits from the extra money-per-bottle you'll see are more than worth the slight change in your budget. What's more, in spite of what the phrase "beer snob" may imply, we are for the most part extremely welcoming people. It goes with the territory.

So put down that 24-case of Natty Lite. Set aside that fridge-pack of Keystone. Hide that bottle of Coors in the back of the fridge. There's never been a better time to commit yourself to craft.

I swear, I'm only halfway-drunk, guys.

I look forward to seeing you on the other side.

Cheers!
_________________________________________________________________________________
Brian has been an advocate of craft beer since 2008. He also enjoys film, video games, reading, and long walks on the beach. You can follow his latest idiotic ramblings on his twitter. Or not. @Doomed_Knox, either way.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Big Revival

So, this blog is technically still a thing. I know, I know - I haven't updated it in months. I fully admit that this is all my fault - I take all the blames in existence. Fault me, baby, fault me!

Now, in my defense, there were a number of factors for the prolonged silence - primarily, there was a good chance that I'd lose my job. Naturally, that means tightened up the ol' budget belt and decided to take a BIG chunk of my beer budget out of my monthly expenditure (nearly halfed, as a matter of fact). Naturally, I can't write about beer unless I'm able to acquire it, and most of what I acquired in this period was stuff either not worth writing about or uh... well, there just wasn't much.

Secondly, there are a number of other endeavors I started to partake in. I wrote a full-length screenplay, for example. Is it any good? I don't know... Does, like, the pope shit in the woods, man?

Apologies for stealing your analogy, Dude. Won't happen again.

Honestly, I don't know if anything will come of it, but what's the point if I don't try, right?

Also, during my time off, I kind of ran off and started diving into video games again. They've been an on-off passion of mine since I turned 17. Sometimes I'll try new games, sometimes I'll go back to modding Doom, sometimes I just don't care. The cycle of things goes that way. Most recently, I've been doing the rare podcast for the really cool people at In The Name of Game, which seems to indicate that I'm SUPER into it right now.

Oh, and now I'm registering for CBEST in hopes getting on the path to a teaching credential. Yeah... there was a lot of motivation to do other things.

Yet, here I am once more trying to get things going once again. Job security does funny things to a person, I guess... Certainly helps me economically. Though, honestly, moving to L.A. after college might not have been the brightest of ideas. After all, it's pretty overcrowded as-is and the city's sufferin' from unemployment as a result. Everyone keeps movin' out west though, like an old west wagon train. I guess that's just the way the whole durned human comedy keeps perpetuatin' itself... oh, I'm ramblin' again.

SSorry there, stranger... I won't steal your lines neither.

Anyways... hopefully I'm back for permanent (is that even a proper sentence? I don't even know anymore) and I can get this thing rolling again. Regardless of whether it I can be consistent, there are some changes a'coming:

  • No dedicated review days - the Monday Night Beer Review was one of the reasons I struggled to keep active. Sometimes I just wasn't ready to review the next brew. This will help keep things rolling.
  • Slightly more free-form reviews - Breaking it down into components can be nice, but I've always preferred a style that allows for more creative flexibility. Beer is as much an art as it is a science, and it should be given a more subjective treatment as opposed to the objective fashion of before
  • Stretching of focus - I have way too many things I adore to have a strictly-beer blog. So, the rare entry will involve some other art form - film, video games, that sort of stuff. Now, I WILL try and tie these into beer in fun and imaginative ways. If they aren't well-received (though I imagine only my parents and random friend or two will actually read this stupid thing), then I'll just cut that shit out
  • "Beer Headlines" - entries where I'll try and discuss the latest and the greatest from around the industry. Good way to stay relative, I guess.
  • Increase in "essays" - I like writing about beer more than reviewing the beers themselves, so this is a thing that's going to happen.
So yeah, there you have it. That's the only stuff I can think at the moment. I'll be goddamned and a motherfucker if anything else pops up in the near-future. Huh?

Sigh... I'll cut back on the cursin' too. Promise.

Okay, okay. I'll try and cut back on the cursin'. Goddamn.

Anywho, until next time: have yourself a hoppy day! HAHAHA, GET IT?!?!?!

Ugh... maybe I was better off not writing this stupid thing.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Dreaded AB 12 Project: Batch 63118

"Back up in yo ass with the resurrection"
-Willie D, "Still"

Wow, what an appropriate quote to start off this post. Now, I know, I didn't do what I promise to do - update this regularly. What can I say? One minute you're super-pumped about a blog you just started, the next thing you know you're knee deep in a Ponzi-like scheme and your office building catches on fire... Or something like that. You get the gist.

Anyways, let's get straight down to brass taxes: I'm pretty excited for this entry, as it's the first part of a small mini-series that, at the bare minimum, will be funnier than Band of Brothers (which is hilarious!). What kind of mini-series? Well, brace yourselves, because winter is coming Anheuser-Busch is pretending to be a craft brewer again! 

Tron Carter agrees, this is even funnier than Nick Cannon!

OW, shit! Sorry, my side just split in 2.

Terrible jokes out of the way, I'm so against AB and SABMiller and all those other macros trying to corner the craft market that I might as well be the Leonidas to their Xerxes. Not the shitty 300 version, either, but the legit thing. My plight is serious, people. The first of these is coming straight from my old stomping grounds, St. Louis. Let's get going down this long and lonesome road (because seriously, who reads these entries?).

I'll get deeper into that another day, but before anyone asks: them brewing beer that isn't total shit is a good thing, but there's shadier stuff happening in the background. Another story for another entry.

Anheuser-Busch 12 Series: Batch 63118 (St. Louis, MO)

Surprise, motherfuckers! The bold and daring AB brewing company is going all out this time with pilsener! Wow, InBev, you so adventurous! Why you no brewmaster?

Okay, let's be real: there's nothing wrong with a good pilsener. The Germans and Czechs each have their own unique approach to it, and like any other delicious beer, the American crafters went ahead and decided to make a much more intense version of it, so there's a lot to love. AB took the German route, because St. Louis. I'm from the suburbs there, and I'll be goddamned if those people don't love their German beers. Can't blame them: when the heat and the humidity get near 100, nothing beats a light, easy-drinking beer... Well, so long as it doesn't have adjunct, but you get the drift.

Anyways, picture:

My Schlafly glass didn't talk to me for a week.

  • APPEARANCE
Very clean-looking is the first thing that comes to mind when I pour it. Clear, golden body topped off with a surprisingly-thick white head. More foamy than anything else, it dissipates at a pretty decent clip before settling in to a seafoam-esque appearance. Lots of carbonation floating to the top and a thin trail of lace makes this a rather solid-looking brew. None too shabby, thus far.

The presentation... holy cow, this bottle has to be paper-thin. It's like holding air. Okay, it's not a big deal, but really, that's an odd thing to pick up that goes a long way in reminding me that this is the cheapest possible approach to beer one can make. The label itself is fine: very standard colors with a list o' stats and even a nifty description of what to expect from the beer. Hops used in St. Louis in the 19th century? At the minimum, that gives a sense of tradition that will excuse them from their inability to stray too far from a dependable formula. All in all... I think like it?

Does this make me a terrible person?

OVERALL: B
  • SMELL

Thin traces of noble hops with a hint of grain underneath. It’s very subdued and not all that impressive, but it certainly beats the pants off the typical AB beers you grab from the store. Light bread and floral scent, really. This is what I’d call a second-rate pils scent. Pleasant, but not at all there. I don't have much to say about this one because there's not much there.

OVERALL: C-

  • TASTE/MOUTHFEEL
Think of St. Louis' skyline. It's certainly got a couple of buildings standing around doing nothing (much like myself), but at the end of the day, there's one thing that makes it standout: the Arch. It's very one-dimensional.

Ha! Nice try, Millenium Hotel!

This is fits the beer to a T:

Very floral the whole way through and with sharp carbonation, the initial reaction to this is that it’s extremely one-dimensional. Finish is clean and finally gives off a hint of malty undertones with a biscuity flavor. If that had been more prominent, I might have really liked this, as-is, it’s just okay. Body’s light and prickly which is perfectly fine for a pils. All in all, it’s a decent affair and a solid good day-drinking beer.

OVERALL: C
  • OVERALL

Ah, AB… you know, I would have never bought this (this 12-pack mixer was a gift) as the big macros are starting to try and corner the craft-brewing market, which is in 2 words, fucking annoying. This is exactly what craft beer would be like if they achieved it: mediocre versions of the real thing. Blue Moon is another example of this (being under Coors’ label). I could do a whole entry on why I don’t like what they’re doing, and probably will, but for now, I’ll just say that this is a very standard affair. Certainly take it if it’s offer, but you won’t lose sleep over missing out on it. Good drinking companion for some good ‘Murrcan brats.

Casual beer fans can't go wrong with this, but I beg you: try something from an actual microbrewery. It'll be higher-quality and good for the local economy. You can't beat supporting local businesses.

OVERALL: C

"Practice harder." -Master Splinter

Thursday, December 20, 2012

TNBR: Stone Old Guardian Barleywine Ale


"Armageddon is almost upon us!"
"I got news for ya, it's already here!"
-Clue


It's Thursday night! Yes, yes indeed. And once again, I welcome you, the Brew-Tang Clan, to another fine edition of Thursday Night Impact Thursday Night Beer Review, in which I commit myself to writing some more BS about a fantastic beer from a fantastic brewer, lest I want to be committed.

Seriously, that last part's in my contract signed in demon-blood ink.

Hey, speaking of demons, the end of the world is about! Yippie skippie! It doesn't matter if it's a Michael Bay movie or a WWE PPV, if Armageddon's happening, it's likely terrible enough to cause side-splitting laughter and Team America references.

You know what else demons remind me of (and for once, it's not Doom). Gargoyles! IDEA!

Stone Old Guardian Barleywine Ale

I'll admit, for a long while I planned on reviewing La Fin du Monde, a most excellent tripel brewed by those crazy Canadians, Unibroue... but then, I kind of saw this bottle of Anniversary XVI and... well, I'll review that later, but needless to say, I sort of forgot my surroundings, stripped naked in BevMo, and proceeded to run down the aisles shouting "Whoa nanny!" at the top of my lungs.

I'm weird like that.

I'm going to use the picture as an excuse to change the subject.

So instead, I went with another recent purchase of mine, Old Guardian Barleywine Ale by those arrogant folks over at Stone Brewing Co.. Naturally, like all other beers I've reviewed thus far, this beer is very complex and very intense and other various, italicized descriptors.

In case you're wondering, this is an American Barleywine, as opposed to the English style, which is usually not as aggressive, but also typically wonderful. For the record, I'm a barleywine fan, and if history is anything to go off of, I'm probably going to give this a B+ like 75% of my other reviews up to this point.

What do you say we find out?

  • APPEARANCE
Body’s an attractive copper color with some nice clarity… off-white head that doesn’t fizz to life too much, but it might’ve been a cold pour, which would negate any opinion on that front… indeed, there’s great retention and lacing and a nice, think regiment of bubbles marching upward to make sure everything stays looking good. Brian likey!

Brian want wingy!

The bottle is the ol' Stone standby: The Mr. Gargoyle. It's presented in Stone's usual, self-assured smugness (which is always quite a laugher when you read their descriptors). The gargoyle can get a little redundant after a while, but when you have a trademark that works, you stick to it. Good stuff.

OVERALL: A-
  • SMELL
Powerful scent of caramel, stronger than almost any brew I’ve tried before that blends with a booziness that really weaves together. Typically, this is where I make a Son-In-Law reference and display Pauly Shore doing his weaving thing, but I couldn't find the right image/clip, which I interpreted as some sort of divine signal that sometimes, dead is bettah

Anyways, there's a thin trace of hoppiness shows up underneath, but unless you really dive in there, it’s easy to miss. Good scent, albeit a smidgen one-dimensional.

OVERALL: B
  • TASTE/MOUTHFEEL
 Lots of flavor packed in on the first sip, it really caught me offguard. Very sweet and sprucy on the pallet, it starts off strong and doesn’t let up. Nutty malts start this off before fading into a bit of a bitter hoppiness. Notes of vanilla and oak underneath with a bite of alcohol and hoppiness on the finish. Medium body and very smooth the whole way through, this is just a whole bundle of flavors in one brew making for a satisfying drink. This is the definition of a “sipping” beer. Chugging = not possible, lest you want to not taste anything for 3 hours... oh, and you want to get alcohol poisoning from the 11% ABV you crazy, crazy bastards.

As it warmed, the hops became a bit more pronounced, but never really caught up with the heavy-hitting sweetness... Truth be told, this is actually excatly how I prefer my barleywines, so I'm completely, honestly not complaining.

OVERALL: A
  • FINALE
So here it is: the best beer I've reviewed on this blog thus far. I'm not one bit surprised by that, seeing as it's a barleywine by one of the more dependable breweries in the country. They may have their Arrogant Bastard personas, but the people at Stone do have a legit talent for brewing beer. That's pretty undeniably, and this is a testament to their ability. It's what you'd expect from the Gargoyle. 

It's also reasonable to expect the same of that '90s cartoon classic, Gargoyles!

Excellent stuff, and very recommended to any veteran of the craft-consuming variety.

OVERALL: A-
  • CONCLUSION

So what have we learned from all of this? Well, I love the '90s and there's a Gargoyles fansite, for starters. Also, Stone and barleywines are both good stuff. And not "The Good Stuff" that you hear all of those Kenny Chesney fans talking about either (which I'm entirely grateful for, by the way), but like... actual good, tasty deliciousness. Who's going to complain about that?

Hope you enjoyed reading. Thank you, and in the words of  the immortal GZA: 

Konichiwa, bithces!

Monday, December 17, 2012

MNBR: AleSmith Anvil Ale ESB

Good evening, good evening, and welcome once more! We are live from San Pedro, CA for another episode of Monday Night Raw! The Monday Night Beer Review beckons us all to gather. Or you know, just me. Either way, I'm writing it.

That being said, I hope you're all prepped for that fresh week of laid-back, pre-holiday work that every employee spends contemplating why musicians like to spend so much time in, get this: only their underwear... Or is that just me? Because seriously, there's something weird going on there. First George Clinton, and now [punchline removed for purpose of mediocre comedic timing].

Awkward enough for you? Good, then let's get started.

AleSmith Anvil ESB Ale

Ah, AleSmith... I do have some experience with this brewery. Namely, I've had about 6 of their ales, and for the most part, they've been top-notch stuff. Needless to say, I'm fairly pumped about this experience. Good thing I'm pumped up, too, lest I want to pick up this Anvil!!!!... What? No? Shit. I'll find a good way to tie an anvil joke into this at some point, but that's just embarassing.

Anywho, picture time:

Hey look! It's a different glass! WOW!

AleSmith Anvil ESB Ale is, shocker of all shockers, an ESB Ale. Of all the beer styles I'm more than vaguely familiar with, this one has always been one of the most baffling for me. Not in that I don't like, mind you... just, I've bought things labeled ESB that turned out to be brown ales, ESB's that I never found consistent with the descriptor... My palate is legit confused, basically. So, turning to a handy-dandy Mr. Trust'em brewery like AleSmith should be the perfect way go, eh?

I thought so. Let's see what this lewd, crude, crude, bag of pre-chewded food dude is all about! (Hook? Anyone? It's not an Anvil or anything, but like... sigh, forget it).

An anvil is one of the worst comedic props ever (non-Acme division).

  • LOOK
Hazy orange-red, but that’s not what I noticed first… the initial pour gave me this absolutely ABSURD head that was basically the entire glassful. I had to let it sit for a while before finishing my pour, and that's what you see in the image above. Crazy-mad carbonation, though it’s hard to notice. Great retention and a nice enough amount of lacing makes everything even itself in the end. Mixed appearances on that one

The bottle itself is, as you can see, pretty basic all around. Just a good, old-fashioned 22 oz. bomber without much printed on their except the name in big, bold mocking letters. If this is the start of some sort of minimalist bottle-art movement that I haven't heard about, I'm going to be very disappointed.

OVERALL: B-
  • SMELL
Caramel sweetness with tones of pine underneath. Very pleasant and inviting. Second wave leaves a mixture of citrus tones and a sort of toffee scent. Really great and even mixture here… it’s just done really well and has one of those aromas that makes you want to stop sniffing and start sipping… so on that note!

OVERALL: A-

Shortest section ever?
  • TASTE/MOUTHFEEL
Very smooth body slides on to the pallet which follows the nose. A lemony taste fades after a bit and lets the sweetness take control. Caramel and grapefruit mix into a more bitter underbody. For as bubbly as this beer is, it’s actually very soft. Really well-done. Very quiet bite of bitterness on the finish. This is an incredibly well-balanced brew.

I'm pretty sure this is exactly what an ESB is supposed to taste like. I've had some weird experiences in the past, as said before, but this one's going to be filed under: great. I have to give Anvil props. As a beer fan, I'm very much into the balance and... wait! Wait a minute. Beer fans = metalheads = metal = Anvil... That's it! Anvil is an awesome metal-

Oh, come on!!!

Oh good, an Anvil reference and a tie-in to my unsettling musicians-in-underware-stream-of-concious thing. Well, that was a freebie.

OVERALL: A-
  • FINALE
I was quite digging this one, actually. This is a fun style for me, as it's largely about balance with an ever-so-slight hop aggressiveness (nothing like an IPA and maybe even an APA, though). Mostly they’re just well balanced and almost always sweet. A very strong example of the style and definitely a beer that you should look into trying. It might not be the best style to start the journey into craft beer, but once you start getting comfortable with brown ales and pilsners and the sort, this is the perfect next step.

Get a slow-cooker and make a spicy-sweet chili. Trust me, I tried it, and worked waaaay better than I expected!

OVERALL: B+
  • CONCLUSION
Well, that wraps things up for this edition of Monday Night Beer Review. Not much to say in these footnotes, really. Be on the look out for future reviews of Stone Old Guardian Barleywine and other, strong, adventurous beers! I'll try and mix in an easy-drinker or two in the future as well. I've enjoyed writing these thus far, and I hope you're enjoying the style... you know, half-naked and middle-aged men aside.

Jesus, what the fuck is wrong with me?

Thursday, December 13, 2012

TNBR: Bootlegger's Knuckle Sandwich DIPA

Once more unto the breach, my dear friends, once more!

Welcome to another edition of Thursday Night Smackdown Beer Review. It's been a fun week of visiting old friends and finding new ones, and hey! I topped 20 likes on Facebook! Do you know what that means?... If you do, let me know, because I honestly don't know what this has to do with anything.

But I digress. This week, I found myself craving brews of a stronger variety, and by God, I've decided to just go all out and destroy my tongue with the proverbial right-hook-to-uppercut combo that is alpha hops and IBUs (International Bitterness Units, for the unawares). What's more, I've stuck to a theme and gone local again! And all of this amidst the craft vs. crafty discussion going on in the beer world of late.

What can I say? I'm awesome like that... but I'll put my egocentrism aside for a moment  and actually talk about that beer thing that I titled my blog after. (EDITORS NOTE: You named it after yourself too, you pedantic kumquat).

Bootlegger's Knuckle Sandwich Double IPA

Prepared to meet Chris Tucker, because you're about to get KNOCKED DA FUGGOUT!

The Double IPA. This style is like Juan Marquez if your tastebuds were Manny Pacquiao. Knocked da fuggout. IPAs are hop madness to begin with, and the IIPA takes this to its logical conclusion by routinely eclipsing 90 IBUs and up with alcohol content to boot. Not for beginners at all, so if hops aren't your think, steer clear. Steer very clear... like, this beer is Billy Joel behind the wheel clear.

Now, me? I'm a hop fiend through and through. I don't care of its Simcoe hops, Amarillo hops, or Cascade hops, you will hear me going, "Hell yeah!" as if I were under the impression that this style is Stone Cold Steve Austin.

So naturally, when an excellent local brewer makes an IIPA that has a bit of renowned status in the local beer scene (and with a score of 95 on its Beer Advocate page), your damn right I'm going to get my hands on it. For the record, Knuckle Sandwich weighs in at 10% ABV, so this is some heayweight stuff. Let's take a look at the stats:


  • APPEARANCE
Really beautiful body, for starters. Burnt sienna in color and with a soft clearness that paints a silouhette of the background. An inch-thick head foams up to life before bubbling down to a soft, white layer resting on top of the beer. Fast-rising carbonation constantly supports it and keeps it from disappearing altogether, giving it a really well-rounded appearance. If this beer were a lady, it'd be like... Amy Adams or something. You'd just like to have a conversation with it... you know what? This is getting awkward, let's move on.

Oh yes, I do like this label, by the way. Knuck tattoos are always really cool in my book (NOTE: only in film and beer label context). Can you imagine how awesome Knuckles the Echidna would be if he had D-I-P-A tattoed across his knuckles?! I'd totally grab a beer with that red sunnavagun.

Look! He even has 4 knuc-. er... thorn... thingies? I'm confused.

OVERALL: B+
  • SMELL
Oh yes. Yes yes, a thousand times yes. Just an absolute flood of citrus hits the nose on the wave of hoppy madness.  Strong pine and floral tones in this one, maybe a bit of an earthy undertone. A sweeter undertone of malts add a third dimension to the scent that every good IIPA must have. Excellent stuff here, all-around. I have no jokes for this one.

GRADE: A
  • TASTE/MOUTHFEEL
Stinging carbonation at first almost hides the powerful combination of flavors. First go is a citrus bomb with a tropical twist – grapefruit and pineapple blend in with a floral underbody. The more I drink it, the more a slight booziness comes into play, which given the 10% ABV, is something that can be expected. It’s not until I swallow the damn thing that I taste the bready malts underneath. The result is a surprisingly good bittersweet aftertaste that lingers for a long, long time. Excellent use of simcoe hops here. There isn’t much about this one to complain about.

What's that tastebuds?

Oh. You mean "Ouch." Too bad, I'm still drinking this.

OVERALL: A-
  • FINALE
IIPAs are, frankly, tricky beers to do right. Which is odd, because most of the time, I like the doubles I try. This one follows that right along with that trend. Hopheads and IPA fiends will most definitely want to have a go-round with this brew. Get some sharp cheddar, grill a chicken, and go to town with this if you get a chance, because it’s just that excellent… Unless you don’t like hoppier, bitter beers. In that case, buying this would just be silly.

OVERALL: A-


  • CONCLUSION


I do love the character of this brew, by the way. The citrus character is super-reminiscent of the west coast... this is very much and IPA area. Hell, "west coast IPA" is actually sort of a thing, they're so big. That's one of the cool things about beer - the can change from place to place just because of your surrounding environment. Who doesn't love that?

And for the record: yes, Orange County, you're part of the L.A. area no matter how hard you want to be your own thing... Bitches.

Haha, owned!

Monday, December 10, 2012

MNBR: The Bruery Rugbrød

Hello again, my fellow lovers of the craft-brew scene! Hope you all enjoyed  a fine weekend of activities and that uh... holiday, cheer thing that's going around these days.

I, myself, had a weekend full of pleasantries and Christmas lights.

Also beer.

Anyways, let's pop the cap off of the proverbial bottle and drink down some lovely rye beer. Sound good to you? I hope so, because it sounds quite wonderful to me.

The Bruery Rugbrød

Ah yes, The Bruery... this probably the first west coast brewer that I get really familiar with when I used to visit my family a couple of years back. I made one hell of a decision when I went down that road, too.

From what I can tell, The Bruery (the founder's last name is Rue, just an aside FYI) is all about that Belgian craft. I believe every one of their beers are both bottled-conditioned (meaning they throw an extra batch of yeast in the beer before sealing off the bottle, allow for another fermentation to take place in the bottle) and unfiltered. Needless to say, this can be very intimidating for the novices. Or people who can't tell the difference between complexities of life such as 'front' and 'back'.

TURN THE BOTTLE AROUND, YOU IDIOT!

They are also into the Belgian yeast big time... as well as all sorts of other things - pie, sweet potatoes... fucking Thai food. It all can play a role in their beer. It works most of the time, thanks in part to an insanely complex flavor approach. It just seems like Belgian yeast always pops in, and Belgian yeast is some funky shit! Sly and the Family Stone would approve.

But enough about that, let's talk about the main eventer, here: Rugbrød (AKA Danish rye bread, and no, I can't pronounce it either). It clocks in at heft 8% ABV and is undoubtedly going to be heavy in the rye bread department. In the words of the DX song, break it down!...

Holy shit, I apologize for that reference.

  • APPEARANCE
A darker shade of auburn with a light, tan head that reaches very thick heights. Like, two-fingers… and it his staying strength. Very sleek and attractive, and super-hazy on account of it being unfiltered and the bottle-conditioning this beer went through.  Not what I’d call your standard rye beer, but it’s passable nonetheless.

Classic labeling style on the bottle (they actually have fancier-cut labels, but back and front, etc.). They have a fairly classic approach to their bottles, using those fancy-shmancy 750 mL bottles that make your relatives look at you and go, "That is some weird looking wine!" I love that. I really do.

OVERALL: B-
  • SMELL
As is typical with The Bruery, this thing smells of Belgian yeast in all of its funky glory. Truth be told, I really do love that funky Belgian scent. It's very unique, though understandably not for all. This is also true for musical funk, which I don't understand, because seriously, how could you not like George Clinton?

You know what? Fuck it. That's a big 0-for-2 on the images tonight. Well done, me.

Sharp notes of rye with a caramel sweetness and bread note on the nose, once you get past that. It’s actually pretty straightforward, all things considered. Apparently, Danish rye bread smells awesome. This is one of those times where a simplicity actually works in the beer's favor, and considering its brewer, this comes as a complete and welcome shock.

OVERALL: B+
  • TASTE/MOUTHFEEL

Very soft, light body sort of floats on to the tongue. Just an absolute tsunami of rye flavor… how they managed to pack this much into it baffles me. Sweet after taste has that caramel character from the scent, very pleasant and very appreciated. I’m still not sold on the use of the Belgian yeast, though, as it leaves that certain funkiness behind and it doesn’t necessarily mesh with everything else as well. Still, a good tasting beer, and a nice feel to boot.

The alcohol is well hidden and the finish is nice and clean. Stuff like this can be really easy to drink. Coincidentally, drinking a lot of this stuff will result in you getting Super Stupid.

And finally, we have an acceptable funk joke.

OVERALL: C+ TASTE, A- MOUTHFEEL

  • FINALE
I had fairly mixed feelings about this beer. It's a bizarre mix of simplicity and complexity that never quite clicks as well as I'd like it to. I think if the Belgian yeast had some time to mellow, or maybe just wasn't there to begin with, it'd be most triumphant (Bill & Ted again, it's continuity!). As-is, this is simply just a 'good' beer that needs to be smoothed out around the edges. I honestly don't even know what to suggest pairing with this, so I'll just go with one random selection from The Bruery's page... salami? Yeah, that might work. I'm a fan of salami.

OVERALL GRADE: B-

  • CONCLUSION
There you have it, fellow beer fiends. While this wasn't the greatest beer in the world, I really can't recommend giving one of this company's several other beers a taste enough. They have a really impressive lineup that consists of the fantastic Mischief and the masterpiece Saison Rue. Oh, and they're local, which is a total bonus! Don't forget support your local breweries. It's an important aspect being a craft beer consumer!

Drink up you guys... and try pronounce this beer's name, because I friggin' give up.