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!