Tuesday, December 7, 2010

This Is What I Drink: 93








Beer Roundup Part 2

Victory Yakima Glory


This is an interesting one. Victory came out with a nearly identical beer last year except the name of the beer was "Yakima Twilight". Yakima is a region in Washington where the hops for this beer are grown. Now I wonder whether they'll have a different name for this beer every year, or was it just a switch for this year? I wonder if it's because of the recent success of the "Twilight" movie series and they were embarrassed to have that name in their title? I don't know, but anyway this beer is awesome. It weighs in at a hearty 8% alcohol and though it's not called an IPA, it tastes a lot like a very hoppy IPA. Super hoppy and super flavorful, definitely a good alternative to some of the other winter seasonals out there. I should also mention I spilled this beer on my laptop which I can partially blame for my lack of updates. Kind of. Whoops.

Weyerbacher Old Heathen Stout

Another day another stout review from Weyerbacher. This is kind of their "base" stout I'd assume where the "Fifteen" and "Heresy" that I reviewed before were based on this one. I don't know why, but I was just slightly disappointed in this one. I think the standard was set pretty high by the others and this one didn't quite live up to it. This stout comes across as a little bit too sweet despite it being highly drinkable at a solid 8% alcohol. I think it definitely misses the bourbon barrel aged flavor that Heresy gave it. Still a pretty tasty stout, but I think I'll stick with the other varieties.

RiverHorse Oatmeal Milk Stout

I've been enjoying trying out many of the offerings from NJ's RiverHorse brewery lately and I was glad to see that they tried out an oatmeal/milk stout. Though I was willing to give this a try, I think it made me realize that I don't enjoy sweet stouts all that much. Although I love a good, rich stout, I seem to be more taken with chocolate or coffee notes than vanilla or milky notes when it come to a stout. It just seems to distract from a nice bitter finish. This is still a pretty tasty beer, but I guess this is one kind of stout that I'm not that into.

Yard's Love Stout

These next three I had at the wonderful Johnny Brenda's which I have mentioned before. They always have a good rotating cast of local beers and I got to have a few more a few weeks ago starting with this stout from Yard's. This is a pretty mellow stout and I was surprised to be asked by the bartender if I was a vegetarian because this is an oyster stout! I've had a couple oyster stouts now and I can't say that I've ever really noticed the difference. I guess a really salty/fishy flavor would be kind of nasty, but I just feel like any of that flavor was nonexistant. The basic stout flavors were there, nice and malty and chocolatey, but yet again the promise of oyster has let me down. Still a fine English style stout though.

Sly Fox Chester County Bitter (Cask)

Johnny Brenda's always offers at least one of their beers in cask which is always a nice change. It comes out a little warmer and a little less carbonated and just feels appropriate for the season. I feel like a cask works well for this style of bitter. Nice and mild and hoppy this one left a good white tracing on the pint glass. Very English in flavor this one didn't blow me away with its taste, but I don't think it was supposed to. Most reviews I've seen of this one mention it served on cask which seems to be tailored to this beer. A good choice.

PBC Joe Porter

I've never been overly impressed with the offerings from Philadelphia Brewing Company, but this one was pretty nice. I guess I'm a sucker for coffee flavored beers, and of course the porter style fits that perfectly. The coffee hits you in a pretty bold way which is usually what I look for. It doesn't quite overpower the normal characteristics of a porter though which is good. Not the best coffee beer I've had by any means, but a pretty good option for a local coffee porter.

Great Divide Espresso Oak Aged Yeti

Great Divide makes another appearance on the blog and we get some back to back coffee related beers! I believe I had looked at this beer on the shelves for a long time, but had always turned my back because of the fairly high price (around $10 I think.) But, I ended up being in the mood for a nice big and bold coffee stout, and there's something that felt right about the yeti as the cover art. Anyway, the coffee isn't so intense here, but definitely strong enough. And at 9.5%, you definitely get an alcohol kick, but it still goes down pretty strong. Basically, it's rare I meet an imperial stout like this that I don't like.

21st Amendment Fireside Chat

Well, there's a lot to be said about the beautiful cover art of this beer. It's really one of the main reasons that I bought it to begin with. Who wouldn't want to sit down and have a beer with FDR during one of his "fireside chats"? Besides that, it was a little bit early in the season, but I was ready enough for a winter beer. I'm not sure about this one though. This had a weird sour frutiness to it, along with being terribly bitter. I appreciate the idea behind what's supposed to be a complex mix of flavors in this beer, but that doesn't necessarily matter if you aren't enjoying it while drinking. I'm not too displeased that I tried it, but I don't think I'll be buying it again to warm me up.





Monday, November 22, 2010

This Is What I Drink: 92





Beer Roundup Part 1


I've again been doing some serious slacking here at beverage HQ, but I'm going to try and do a quick rundown so we can get some newer and exciting beverages in this piece. Here we have some beers I had over the past little while...

Weyerbacher "Fifteen" Smoked Imperial Stout

Every year on their anniversary the Weyerbacher brewing company releases a new beer to celebrate another year in the industry. I actually don't know this for certain, but I did see a "14" on the shelf next to this one. Of course, maybe that means they've only done it for two years. I don't know, whatever. Anyway, after loving Weyerbacher's "Heresy" oak aged imperial stout, I would expect nothing else but another solid effort from this beer and I certainly got it. The base of this beer is imperial stout all the way. Dark, rich, and bitter. Then the smokiness sets in. "Smoke" flavor can certainly go either way, but this wasn't too much or too little. Another really good one from Weyerbacher.

Southern Tier Mokah Stout

I've run through many of these Southern Tier imperial series. Not sure if it's every single one yet, but I feel like I'm getting there. At first I thought I already had this one considering they make both a "chocolate" and "jah-va" stout, but I suppose this is the fusion of both of these. And just like those other one's, this one is extremely tasty. Combining both the sweet chocolate notes and the rich coffee flavors into a super dark beer, this is a mighty tasty beer. A basic combination for a strong stout that rarely fails for me.

Dragon Stout

This one was purchased slightly on a whim at a convenience store before heading into a BYOB restaurant. I wasn't sure where it was from before I just checked on the internet but this is an import from Jamaica. Unfortunately I wasn't super into this one. I found it a bit sweet and malty, and not quite as thick as I come to expect from a stout. I was pretty surprised that it weighed in at about 7.5% alcohol considering that it was pretty easy to drink down. However, there wasn't much in terms of the chocolate or coffee notes that I've come to expect. Not a bad stout, but non necessarily my favorite kind of flavors.

Evolution Rise Up Stout

Here's another one from the new brewer in town from Delaware that's been on my radar recently. I hadn't seen this particular style anywhere in the stores in the area, so I was excited to see that this was on draft at a local bar. This was advertised as a coffee stout (hence the "rise up" title) and it definitely delivered. It poured very dark with a nice tan head and the smell had me thinking about my morning cup of coffee. The taste did as well. Nice roasted malts, but the coffee especially hit you hard in a good way. Many times "coffee beers" don't live up to their proclamations, but this one did. Another great stout in this update, and another really good one from Evolution.

Dogfish Head Aprihop

Here is the more famous brewery from Delaware. I believe I had tasted this one before a while back but it had been a while. Being that the base of this beer is an IPA, there's pretty much no way I wasn't going to enjoy this one considering how good Dogfish's 60 Minute and 90 Minute offerings are there. This beer starts from that base but adds a nice tart frutiness to go along with the piney citrus notes of the hops. Basically this is a very well executed twist to Dogfish's regular IPA offerings and I don't think that the apricot flavor is very overwhelming in anyway. Very nice for the Spring seasonal that it is.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

This Is What I Drink: 91


Dunkin' Pumpkin

This will be just a brief revisiting here. I've already given a thorough review on the base Dunkin Donuts iced coffee and I've also taken a stab at their "Dunkin Dark" variety as well. Anyway, this is just their coffee with some sweetened pumpkin flavor. Though I don't normally like my coffees sweetened, I actually thinks that this makes the coffee taste better. I'm obviously into pumpkin flavored things, and this one tasted pretty good to me. Again, not great coffee, but the pumpkin flavoring made it fairly tolerable for the day.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

This Is What I Drink: 90

Cherry Cola Hookah

So can smoke be counted as a beverage? I suppose only if the tobacco is beverage related and that happened to be the case that very day. We had to add the cherry to create another soda flavor. I'm not much of a smoker at all, so I wasn't sure what to expect going into my first hookah experience, but it was actually kind of relaxing. The flavor wasn't exactly spot on, but I could tell what they were going for. I'm thinking that you could probably combine a few other flavors and maybe make some other soda flavors, but I'd have to take a look at the list again. Anyway, this was a fun experience and I'm glad I could tangentially relate it to this beverage blog!

Monday, November 1, 2010

This Is What I Drink: 89











The Great Pumpkin Rankings 2010.

So this may be a day late and a dollar short, but oh well. I'm going to rank my favorite pumpkin beers of this past season. Unfortunately most of these are starting to be yanked from the shelves in favor of winter seasonals, but it may be a good guide for buying next year...

1. Southern Tier Pumking:

When I'm looking for a pumpkin beer, I really want those flavors to hit me hard and Pumking does just that. Most of Southern Tier's Imperial series are super flavorful, so it's not big surprise that this one follows suit. When you take a whiff of this guy, it reall smells like a pumpkin pie and the flavor follows suit. At 9% alcohol, it's a pretty hearty beer, but perfect for a 22 oz bomber size. Some say this one's a bit too intense, but I think it's exactly what I look for in a pumpkin beer.

2. Dogfish Head's Punkin' Ale

Not a surprise to see Dogfish's offering here as it's been a favorite of mine since first having it back in 2005 or so. This beer has a delicious brown ale base mixed with all of the classic pumpkin spices like nutmeg, cinnamon, and pumpkin that you would expect. At 7%, this also is heavier, but I think that's fine for this season. Probably more drinkable on a regular basis then the Pumking, so it was very close to taking the top ranking.

3. Heavy Seas The Greater Pumpkin

This one was new to me this year, but I'm glad I picked it up. They also offer their regular "Great Pumpkin" but I didn't get a chance to try it this year. This one is an Imperial strength beer that is aged in bourbon barrels, already a bonus for me. So not only do get the bourbon flavor, but you also get adequate pumpkin spices mixed in there in this dark and rich brew. Again, it's a strong one at 9%, but super flavorful and definitely a new favorite for the season.

4. Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale

I guess you probably see a pattern in the strength of some of these, but I guess that's just my style. This one packs a lot of nutmeg, clove, cinnamon, and pumpking flavor. All of the greats! It's perhaps a bit spicier than some of the others, and I taste the 8% alcohol a little more here than the above, but it's definitely one of the superior pumpkin beers I've had.

5. Schlafly Pumpkin Ale

To be honest there isn't a whole lot that separates this and the Weyerbacher offering. I believe they have a similar alcohol percentage, and all of the same flavors are there. This was the first season that I've had this one and I definitely look forward to getting more of it next year. A darn good pumpkin beer.

6. River Horse's Hipp-O-Lantern

Another new one for the season, and another pretty good one. This one didn't quite stack up the other's above, but I don't want that number 6 ranking to give the impression that it's a bad beer, because it was pretty tasty. I think again the higher alcohol wasn't hidden quite as well as some of the other offerings and that brings it down a notch, but otherwise the flavor was what I like in a pumpkin beer.

7. Blue Point Brewery Pumpkin Ale

This one kinda falls to the middle of the pack as a lot of other pumpkin beers do. It's not bad by any means, just kind of average. I feel like a lot of breweries just put out pumpkin beers because they know they'll sell some for the season, but don't necessarily think about making them potentially great beers. That's what this feels like to me.

8. Fisherman's Imperial Pumpkin Stout

Imperial Pumpkin Stout? This had all the makings to be my favorite beer of all time. Perhaps that it wasn't is the reason that's much lower on my rankings. This is a 11% strong, dark stout that initially seemed like it would be a reall winner. It hid the alcohol well, and it tasted like a pretty decent stout, but where was the pumpkin flavor? I understand that stouts have a certain flavor, and perhaps it was difficult to inject the pumpkin spice amongst all of that. It's actually a pretty good beer, but the pumpkin part doesn't live up to the advertising unfortunately.

9. Woodchuck Pumpkin Cider

Okay, so this isn't a beer, but it's pumpkin flavored, so it's going in the list. Unfortunately, it kinda sucked. This tasted like normal woodchuck cider to me, which I'm not a huge fan of anyway. If this had attempted to inject just a bit of pumpkin spice in there, the rating probably wouldn't be this low. This really just tasted like their regular hard cider. Another pumpkin-less disappointment.

10. Shipyard Pumpkinhead Ale

Kinda yucky. The flavor here just tastes super fake. All of this spicy cinnamon hits you, which is okay, but the beer base of this just tastes completely off. You basically taste two contrasting flavors at different times and they don't work together well at all. Not super super horrible, but pretty bad compared to most of these pretty good pumpkin offerings. Probably won't buy it again.


There you have it...Remember these were just personal rankings of things I had this season. I know there are a bunch of others out there that would maybe fit in somewhere in these rankings if I tried them, but I attempted to have some new stuff this year.

Friday, October 29, 2010

This Is What I Drink: 88


2 From 21

21st Amendment Back in Black IPA


It's been nice getting to know this brewery over the past few months, previously having reviewed their IPA and Watermelon Wheat offerings. While the can is pictured above, I actually had this guy on draft. The black IPA is an intriguing creature. I've only had maybe two or three of this style in my beer drinking career. With this kind of pitch black color, you often think porter or stout, but this style clearly tastes more like a traditional IPA with slight twists. I'd say in general this one sticks to its IPA roots. It has full blown hop and citrus flavor with a nice bitterness. I'd say with the darker color it feels a bit thicker in the mouth and maybe has a bit more of a roasty flavor. I liked this one a lot.

21st Amendment Golden Doom

Here is an offering from this brewery that doesn't come in a can. This was actually their Spring seasonal which they only make kegs of, but I had it on draft in mid-September. I suppose freshness could have been an issue there, but it still tasted fine to me. This one is a traditional Belgian strong ale, and its color lives up to its name. Like most of from this style, you are immediately hit with some fruity and sweet flavors. Some citrus, maybe some banana, and some yeast. Nicely carbonated as well. It's always surprising when some of these beers near 8% as this one does because all the flavor masks it pretty well. Another solid one from this brewery and I'm glad I got to try it.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

This Is What I Drink: 87




Fall-ish trio

Two Brother's Atom Smasher (Oktoberfest beer)


While there is a bottle clearly pictured here, I actually had this one on tap at a bar up in NYC (these guys are part of the "lost picture" series that may be popping up for a while. Anyway, I figured I should get to posting these Oktoberfest beers before it's too late (pumpkins coming soon, as well.) Oktoberfest beers have always been a bit of a mystery to me. I never know quite how to describe them other than saying that they are rich, malty, complex, and they just seem like they are meant for the Autumn season. Makes sense I guess. The color of this one (if I can remember) was a nice dark, cloudy orange. It was nice and thick, kind of syrupy and nutty, generally earthy. Not exactly sure about the alcohol content, but it didn't overwhelm me in that category. The bartender gave me too much change when I ordered this and I gave it back, so he gave me a freebie after that. Nice bonus for a good beer.

High Point Brewing Ramstein Oktoberfest

As with the previous beer, I also had this one on tap. This one shares a lot of similar characteristics to the Two Brother's beer. It poured a similar color, had a very bready maltiness to it, and finished with a hint of bitterness and alcohol flavor. Again, these fest beers are all very complex to me and I have a hard time diagnosing exactly what's going on here, but I'll say that this one was particularly good. Crisp, rich, and flavorful. While I enjoyed both of these fest beers, I would have to say that this one was definitely better. It's not my favorite style in the world, but this was one of the better tasting one's that I've had.

Baird Beer Kurofune Porter

This guy is a bit of a wild card in this trio, but I think any nice porter can fit in with all of the fall flavors. I didn't realize it until after I finished the bottle, but this is brewery is from Japan. This beer pours a nice dark brown and the smell would lead to believe it has all the basic characteristics of a classic porter. This beer definitely had a nice roastiness and sweet chocolate notes to it. The flavor wasn't too strong though, which is a bit of a negative for me. I also felt that the beer seemed a little think in the mouth, which certainly isn't a bonus for what I look for in a darker beer. It's always nice to branch out to some Japanese craft beer, and this one wasn't great, but not bad either.

Monday, October 25, 2010

This Is What I Drink: 86


Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA


I've already raved about the 60 minute IPA, so it's time to rave about his stronger older brother, the 90 minute IPA. Weighing in at 9% alcohol instead of 6%, this guy certainly packs a lot more flavor and intensity into one 12 ounce bottle. As you would expect with an imperial IPA, it definitely packs a whole lot of hop flavor into one sip. You also get strong herbal, spicy, citrusy, and somewhat fruity kick in there. Of course the alcohol is there as well, but I'd say that it is pretty well hidden. I'm not sure it's fairly to directly compare this and the 60 minute because they end up being very different, but I'm going to go ahead and do it. On a purely sip per sip basis, I'd say that the 90 minute is the more interesting and intensely flavored beer. However, the still delicious 60 minute is probably more drinkable on a regular basis. The every once in a while king? 90 minute. My regular gal? The 60. But, the Dogfish Head Brewing Company wins either way, so who cares?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

This Is What I Drink: 85




Stout and About

Imperial stouts have been my favorite style of beer for a couple of years now, so I was excited to get a couple of these as a birthday gift a little while ago. They were all pretty good, but which takes the cake?

Duclaw Black Jack Stout

I had seen this one on the store shelves for a little while so I was glad to finally give it a try. Duclaw is a company from Maryland that I hadn't seen much from, but an imperial stout is always something that's fun to judge a brewery on. At 8%, this isn't super strong for the style, but still has enough of a kick to qualify. The color lives up to it as it poured a deep black with a tan colored head. Most of the normal flavors were there, the cocoa, a bit of vanilla, and a toasty bitterness. However, it all was outdone by the fact that this beer didn't hide the alcohol very well. I also felt that the regular "stout" flavor seemed almost artificial. Not bad, but probably a middle of the road kind of imperial stout.

Schlafly Reserve Imperial Stout (aged in bourbon barrels)

Hmm, a 2008 vintage imperial stout aged in bourbon barrels at about 11%? Yes, I believe that's right up my alley. This one doesn't quite pour the pitch black as most stouts do, but there was a pretty nice mocha colored head to go with it. This one had a whole lot of chocolate, coffee, vanilla, caramel and toasted malt notes. The bourbon flavor was pretty hidden, but you could still tell it was there. It also felt a lot thicker than the Black Jack which I find important in a strong stout. Most importantly it did a much better job hiding the alcohol taste despite being stronger, which is pretty important if you're drinking an entire 22 ounces of it. We don't necessarily see a lot of Schlafly out here in the East, but I've always enjoyed what I've had from them and this is definitely another gem.

Dogfish Head Bitches Brew

I'll go right ahead and say that I'm not overly familiar with the work of Miles Davis, so I can't really comment on that aspect of this beer, but I according to the press release they released this beer on the 40th anniversary of Miles Davis' Bitches Brew album. Being more of a fan of beer, I was just excited that they described it as "3/4 imperial stout and 1/4 gesho with honey." Considering that the only other strong stouf I've had from DFH is their too strong 18% World Wide Stout, I was more looking forward to this 9% effort. As with the others, this one pours jet black with a pretty nice tan head. I think I first noticed just how smooth and creamy this one was without any kind of sense that this is a high alcohol beer. It has to be commended for hiding that so well. Very chocolatey and toasty, with a bit of coffee as well. I unfortunately didn't get much honey as promised, but it did finish a tad sweet. Anyway, this was probably my favorite of the bunch. I'm just disappointed that it's only available for a limited time.


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

This Is What I Drink: 84



More Galco

I've talked a lot about Galco's, the amazing soda store already, and here are a couple more offerings from that store that I bought and tried.

Manhattan Special Black Cherry

Don't let the picture fool you. I didn't actually buy the entire line of these, though I would have liked to. I've had the vanilla cream soda from the same company in the past, and it was one of the best that I had ever tried, so I figured that their black cherry offering would be good as well. Black cherry is a really tricky flavor. It can veer into "cough syrup" territory pretty easily. Lots of poor quality black cherry sodas I've had can be nearly undrinkable. Fortunately Manhattan Special know what they are doing. Sweetened with cane sugar and natural flavors, this one tastes right. There's nothing extraordinary about it in that it didn't redefine the category for me like their vanilla cream did, but it was crisp and clean. No reason to double check that you might be swigging from the medicine cabinet.

Double Cola

I pretty much knew nothing about this brand going into the store and that's fine. Every good sampler pack of soda needs a cola or two and this one sounded interesting. Considering the product goes back all the way to the 1930's I was surprised that I hadn't seen it often or much less heard about it. That said, of course Galco's has it, like they have everything. Anyway, the cola is just okay. It uses cane sugar (I wouldn't have it any other way) and has a good basic premium cola taste to it. It's way better than Coke or Pepsi of course, but it didn't bring anything bold or exceptional to the flavor profile. I actually found it pretty similar to Trader Joe's fairly bland store brand "vintage cola." Good, but not anything special.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

This Is What I Drink: 83

The Tragedy

So I haven't updated in a little while. There's a somewhat reasonable excuse for this. My digital camera and I parted ways somewhere in Manhattan. Not only did I lose the camera, but I lost the last couple of months work of beverage pictures. Along with that is potentially the memory of some things that I've had. I'm doing my best to piece that together and talk about the recent things I've had to drink, but my apologies if I end up missing anything. Also, if there are some Google image searches posted here instead, that's the reason. I hope to be back and running normally pretty soon though! Lots of exciting Fall Flavors to get to!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

This Is What I Drink: 82

video

Rio Rita Bloody Mary (Austin, Texas)

There aren't many alcoholic beverages that are acceptable to drink during the morning or early afternoon, but the Bloody Mary is one of them. For that reason, and the fact that it has an extremely unique taste, the Bloody Mary is probably one of my favorite cocktails. Anyway, this particular Bloody Mary had been hyped by my brother for a couple days as probably the best he had ever had. That's always a pretty bold statement no matter what you're talking about, but I was pleasantly surprised that he was absolutely correct. This is an incredible drink. As with all Bloody Marys, it all starts with that tomato juice concoction. This one is made all the better by the fact that you can ask for habanero infused vodka to go along with it. It creates this perfect, very spicy and salty version of the drink. Everything else tastes so interesting that you tend to forget you are even drinking something with alcohol in it. The added bonus is all the edible non-beverage friends that come along for the party. Pickled okra, pickled banana peppers, olives, a lime wedge, and the classic celery garnish create an appetizing meal in itself. It also gives you the chance to take a break from the drink if the spice gets to be too much. The only downside here is the hefty $11 price tag (it's an extra $2 for that infused vodka.) It probably goes down as the single most expensive drink I've purchased at a bar. That said, I have no regrets. You pay for that kind of quality sometimes.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

This Is What I Drink: 81

video

Pibb Xtra

This beverage used to go by the name of "Mr. Pibb" back in the day, but apparently Coca-Cola rebranded it to be "Pibb Xtra." First of all, I'm not sure how I feel about the name change. I feel like it's a bit too early 2000's to put an "x" on something just to make it seem cooler, and they did make that change in 2001 which makes sense. For those of you who have never had Pibb, it's a no shame in the game direct rip-off of Dr. Pepper by the folks at Coke. Pretty much every store brand in America has their own version of Dr. Pepper, so this isn't a surprising move to try to capitalize on a very popular flavor. Actually this fellow at Not Quite What the Doctor Ordered gives a pretty miraculous run-down of all the phony doctors out there. Quite a service I may say. Anyway, I don't really see Pibb Xtra all that much in this area, or maybe I just pretend not to notice it with so much DP around. For that reason I like it because it's a bit of a novelty for me. Pibb is a pretty good knockoff I suppose. It tastes enough like it's supposed to. I've never had a superior version to the imperial cane sugar Dr. Pepper however, so there's just no comparison. Just ain't nothing like the real thing.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

This Is What I Drink: 80



Pint's Pub Lancer IPA (Real Ale)

So this is a very special beer in many ways. Pint's Pub in Denver is one of the few places in the country that currently makes what they call "real ale" which contains live yeast, is served by hand pumping, and presented to you at a balmy temperature of 50 degrees and with very low carbonation. The whole process is explained by them here, as it's a bit more complicated than I can adequately explain. That's also what that bottom picture explains. Anyway, this was a unique experience that was worth driving out of the way for. On a side note, this place also has one of the largest Scotch collections in the country, over 250 styles with some costing $800 per bottle I believe. As for the beer, it was really good. Warmer, less carbonated beer takes a little while to get used to, but I like its aesthetic. I've had hand pumped beer before, but this stuff certainly seemed like the real deal. It had that very "British" taste to it, which I feel like I can't explain fully, but it shared that warm bitterness and hoppiness that I've enjoyed in other "classic style" British IPAs. If you're looking for a taste of how most beer used to be, then this is the thing to try. Also because it tastes really great.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

This Is What I Drink: 78

New Holland Brewing's Dragon's Milk

I ate this with an egg burrito. Just thought you should know that from the get-go. Anyway, I mistakenly had assumed that this was an imperial stout (official classification is "American strong ale") just because it had that look to it. Maybe that's why I was kind of disappointed when I first started drinking it. It was dark, creamy, and had oaky and vanilla notes like many strong stouts (this is a 10%) have, but it didn't quite the thickness or bitterness to it. Another problem is that it didn't really hide the high alcohol content very well. That's sometimes distracting in terms of trying to pick up some of the other flavors. I love this kind of strong, dark beer, but I've definitely had better. I like the idea that this is what baby dragons drink though.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

This Is What I Drink: 77


Ninkasi Total Domination IPA

As you can see from the picture, we had to brown bag this bad boy. Why is that? Because we were drinking in the park, aw yeah. It was actually a pretty great scene that combined high school punks, dog walkers, and homeless drug addicts. The highlight being when a crazy lady went into the port-a-potty and just started slamming her fists and feet into it while screaming. It made for good beer drinking because we were all glad that we weren't her. Oregon has some good beers (Caldera + Rogue which I have reviewed before), but I was excited to see this brand from Eugene which I'd never tried before. Our friend Nathan recommended it, so I figured it would be tasty. Oregon is also known for it's hops and the Total Domination IPA has a lot of great hoppy flavor. At 6.7% it took a bit out of me drinking a whole bomber in the afternoon, but I enjoyed it. It was crisp, floral, with a little bit of citrus acidity and a nice bitter finish. Definitely a good park drinking beer, though I don't think I've really seen this stuff on the East coast.

Monday, September 20, 2010

This Is What I Drink: 76


Negra Modelo

Imported beers from Mexico slowly have become more and more the rage in the US and Negra Modelo has certainly jumped along that train. All in all, this is probably one of the better ones that I've had from Mexico. It's obviously different in that it's a darker lager and it is not enhanced by a lime like Corona or Tecate might be. This one is fine on it's own. It's a pretty uncomplicated beer, and has similar notes you'd expect from a lager. Fairly malty with not a whole lot of bitterness and maybe just slightly sweet. The stubby little bottle is always a unique twist and an eye-catcher. It's not an amazing beer by any means, but one of the better ones that we got for free on the tour.

This Is What I Drink: 75


Freddy's Vanilla Malt

This was the final malt of a certified malt craze during the summer. We called up Freddy because he came up on one of our telephones when the malt cravings started after dinner. Freddy's in Oklahoma City had a chain-like feel, where all the employees had to wear old-timey uniforms while serving up burgers and shakes. Since we had just gotten dinner, I only had the stomach for their smallest size which was called a junior or baby or mini or something else emasculating, but it was only about $2, so I felt pretty good about it. I felt that this malt was more "beverage-like" than the one I got in Sioux Falls, but since it was just vanilla it didn't bring much to the flavor table. It still had a pretty good malt kick though, and the kitsch of Freddy's restaurant was amusing enough.

Friday, September 17, 2010

This Is What I Drink: 74


Sioux City Cream Soda

I was going to regret not grouping this beverage in with the rest of the "Sioux Falls" related drinks until I realized that they were two completely different places. Shame on me for thinking that two nondescript Midwestern cities might be similar. But seriously, I'm pretty into this line of sodas. They seem to be fairly common to spot in convenience stores and gas stations once you get west of Ohio. As far as I know their entire line uses pure cane sugar as a sweetener which is a must. Apparently they have a Cherries 'n Mint (huh?) flavor, which I'd love to try, but I've never seen that one on the road. Here's a description of the brand from their website: "Sioux City embossed bottles were developed in 1987 and were one of the first western-themed soft drink brands in the country." Umm...Congratulations? I guess you beat Cowboy Coke to the punch, but unless I'm missing something, what else would be considered a western-themed soft drink? In the end, it's a fairly decent cream soda. The flavor is too sweet and chemically tasting for me, so I really miss any kind of vanilla flavor. Cream soda is pretty difficult to pull off and this one just doesn't quite cut it, but it's not terrible. I will say that the bottle design is pretty.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

This Is What I Drink: 73


Heineken

Here is another European beer that seems to be somewhat overrated and overpriced just because it's an import. Again, it's much better than a standard American beer, but I'm not convinced it's much better than something like Yuengling lager (which I can get for considerably cheaper) or a microbrewed lager which I can get for a comparable price. That said, I'm also not a huge fan of this kind of pale lager. They are pretty easy drinking and good to have around on occasion, but they don't bring a whole lot of flavor to the plate. I also drank this one out of a tall boy can which kind of decreases it's classiness as well. It just seems better to have this beer out of a bottle. I actually always confused this flavor for a pilsner, but it's clearly a lager. I dislike pilsners more than lagers, so it doesn't seem surprising that I'm not a huge fan of this beer.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

This Is What I Drink: 72


Newcastle Brown Ale

Newcastle is one of those classic English beers we're all supposed to be in love with. That's not to say it's not a good beer, because it is, but it isn't a great one. I think when you compare it to Budweiser, Coors, or Miller, sure, it's much better because it actually has some interesting flavor to it. However, when you compare it to other countless American microbrew's versions of brown ales, it's really not anything special. Admittedly, the first time I tried it I was blown away by it, but that was early in my beer drinking career. Brown ales have a unique bitter flavor, and Newcastle is a pretty good base example of one. I also do not buy brown ales very frequently, so my flavor profile for them may not be perfect. When we played a show in Newcastle I was amused when our tour manager (also from Newcastle) said "nobody here actually drinks Newcastle." Fair enough, but whoever imports it has done a good job of creating a mystique behind it.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

This Is What I Drink: 71


V8

The most famous of the vegetable juices (popularized by the famous Campbell's soup co.), V8 is a fairly regular purchase for me on tour. It's just the kind of thing that makes you feel better about treating your body so terribly for the other 23.5 hours of the day when you aren't drinking V8. It's tough to get your daily intake of veggies on tour. Heck, it's pretty hard to get them while at home. So what are the famous eight vegetables? Tomato (making up 87% of the drink) followed by beets, celery, carrots, lettuce, parsley, watercress, and spinach. Sure, it's basically tomato juice, but the thought of getting just a little bit of those other healthy vegetables mentally enchances it all for me. Of course, as a child, I absolutely loathed the stuff. Drinking veggies? Yuck. My main complaint is that the "low-sodium" version of V8 is not quite as widely available in the convenience stores accross the US. A normal V8 has something like 35% of your daily sodium, while the other version is in the 20% range. Taste-wise I feel like there's not enough of a difference. They should just male regular V8 have lower sodium. Anyway, veggie juice of any sort is always a good low-calorie option. Way better than all those stupid sugary coffee drinks I love.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

This Is What I Drink: 70


Margo's Bark Root Beer

This will be the first of seven new sodas that I bought at the wonderful Galco's while in Los Angeles in late July. As the Spinto Band, we've gone on and on about what an amazing soda shop Galco's is and how it's my dream to open an East coast shop just like it some day, but we've already established that. This was the first time in three years we've actually had enough free time to go there and despite the infuriating L.A traffic, we made it just before closing. I got a decent variety of stuff. Some colas, some fruity sodas, some flowery sodas, and of course some root beers. I'm not sure why I grabbed Margo's Bark, but being a fan of root beers, dogs, and puns, it seemed like a natural selection. While their "drink a bite" trademark might be a blatant rip-off of Barq's "the one with bite" slogan, I liked the idea that they donate all their profits to shelter dogs. Sappy stuff aside (enough with the puns, dick) let's get down to the ingredient list, always important in a root beer. We've got: Molasses, Vanilla, Clove, Cassia, Nutmeg, Wintergreen, and Yucca Extract, and of course it's got cane sugar (I actively refused to purchase any high fructose corn syrup sodas.) I'll admit I have no idea what cassia is, but I liked what I saw from the other bunch; some real classics in there. The final result didn't blow me away, but it was a pretty darn good root beer. It was very crisp and clean but still with the bold root flavors. Too bad I'll never be able to drink it again because I don't think I can get here. Time to find a warehouse to build up the soda shop around here...

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

This Is What I Drink: 69




Santa Fe Brewing Company Trio

We had the privilege of playing a brewing company on this tour, and it couldn't have been better. When you are normally presented with cases of cheap beer as a band, it's pretty amazing to get some microbrews on the house along with a tasty meal to go with those brews. I didn't get to try all of the beers on tap (they cut off the freebies after a certain point, whoops!), but the three that I tried were pretty good. I first had their award winning porter. I'm not sure what the award was or where it was from, but I believe them. It had all the nice roasted, warm, and chocolately and coffee flavors that you look for in a porter and with a nice alcohol kick at around 6.4%. This was definitely my favorite of the night, but I also have a dark beer bias. Next I tried the IPA. This was very good as well. It was appropriately very hoppy and had some great citrus notes to go along with it. I believe it weighed in at about 6.2% alcohol. Last but not least is their brown ale pictured at the bottom. This was the lightest of the bunch, but still very good. I'm not a huge fan of brown ales in general; there always seems to be something off about the flavor, but despite that I liked this one. They mentioned that they would be the first brewery in all of New Mexico to start canning their beers. I hope they get some distribution back East because I'd love to have that porter again.