Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Sign o' the Times

Great article from Eric Asimov in the New York Times today about the state of craft beer in restaurants and bars in New York City. Click the link below for the full article. You may have to sign up (for free) to the Times website in order for article access. I say may because the site has always been finicky for me. Sometimes I have to sign in, other times I am sent right to the article I am trying to access. Oh, well...onto the link:

The Pour - Good Beer Demands Good Food - Review -

New York Times, beer bar, Hopback, beer

Put Your Makeup on, Fix Your Hair Up Pretty and Meet Me Tonight in Atlantic City

Resorts Atlantic City recently decided that it'd be alright to mislead it's patrons by having a Miller Genuine Draft tap handle and a Miller Lite tap handle both pour from a Miller Lite keg. The New Jersey Casino Control Commission felt otherwise and fined the casino $5,000 for it's lack of attention to detail.

The CCC should have then fined the casino $50,000 for wasting two tap handles on crap beer.

Atlantic City, New Jersey, Hopback, beer, casino, Miller, Resorts, Miller Genuine Draft, Miller Lite

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Stone 13th Anniversary: The Hoppiest Beer We've Ever Brewed

Leave it to Stone to up the ante once again, this time by brewing their 13th Anniversary Ale (an Imperial/Double Red) with 4.5 pounds of hops per barrel (to compare, Stone notes that their ultra hoppy 10th Anniversary IPA was brewed with only" 2.5 pounds of hops per barrel. Yikes! Some more info, direct from Mitch Steele at the brewery:

“Big, red, and a hop monster!”
1 This is the first time we’ve ever released the Imperial/Double Red style.
2 We used more pounds of hops per barrel than any beer we’ve ever made.
3 We used Chinook hops in the brewhouse for bittering and flavor, then dry-hopped this beer with a 50/50 blend of Simcoe and Centennial.
4 As an added bonus, we then dry-hopped it again, just prior to filtering and packaging. That’s right, our popular double dry-hopped process, for the first time ever in one of our bottled beers!
Stone 13th Anniversary Ale pours brilliant deep red with a light tan foam. Up front, the aroma is all piney, resinous and citrus hops. Upon tasting, the hops are still on the front, and they are balanced with the malty, toffee like flavors contributed from the blend of crystal and amber malts used in the brewhouse. The finish is deliciously bitter, with a touch of warmth provided by the 9.5% alcohol. Bitterness comes in at 90+ IBU.

I want some. Now. June 29th cannot come soon enough.

Stone, Mitch Steele, beer, 13th Anniversary, Imperial Red, Double Red, Hopback

Monday, June 22, 2009

TTB Find of the Week: Magic Hat HOWL

Magic Hat is reshuffling their seasonal deck a bit in a few months by moving the uber-tasty Roxy Rolles into their autumn seasonal slot and introducing (well, sort of, as you'll see in a moment) a new beer as their winter seasonal: Howl, a "black as night Winter Lager."

Rumor has it that Howl is simply a slight reworking of the Orlio Organic Black Lager, and judging by the fact that both have a matching ABV of 4.5%, I'd say that's a pretty good guess as to the origins of Howl at this point.

If this info stands as correct then I'll be a happy camper for sure, as the more Schwarzbier's the better in my opinion. It's an oft overlooked style that packs a healthy dose of flavor into a lighter bodied beer, despite it's appearance. Can't wait for this one to hit the shelves.

Magic Hat, Howl, Roxy Rolles, Orlio, organic, Black Lager, schwarzbier, Hopback

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Dear Abbey

I picked up a bottle of Abbey Ale from Abita Brewing Company on my way down to Florida with the intent to drink it while on vacation and just never got around to it. So, I purchased the bottle in Maryland, dragged it all the way down to Florida and then trucked it all the way back up here to New Jersey, where I was finally able to crack open the bottle. Let's see how she fares:

The color looks nice: hazy copper with a big (at first) off-white head that quickly settles to a thin lace, leaving only hints of residue on the glass after each sip.

I like what the aroma brings to the table, and that would be a bit of candy, hints of wood and that Belgian yeast vibe. There's definitely a good dose of darker, slightly tart fruit in the mix as well, which in turn brings out a touch of earthiness. This was Belgian for sure, but at the same time it wasn't and it worked nonetheless.

The flavor is a touch tamer than expected from what the aroma gave off, but is still nice. The tart fruit is more subdued here, as are the rest of the characteristics mentioned above. They're all still in the mix, but mellowed out. This helps to bring out the earth flavors a bit more than anything else and brings out some bread flavors as well, which means you might expect a bit of a heftier body, but instead the body ends up falling a bit on the thinner, slightly watery side which was a bit of a disappointment.

The end result here for me is that I enjoyed this one and would certainly drink it again, but would like the flavor to have some more of the pop that the aroma has, and certainly a bit more of a bite or heft to the body. Also of note: this is a very easy beer to drink and it hides it's 8.0% ABV quite nicely so be aware, as while it's not an uber-ridiculous ABV, it's still high enough to kick you in the ass.

It's nice to see Abita bottling more of their bigger beers or at the very least making them more readily available (I had never seen them in these parts until recently...only the regular lineup of Turbodog, Purple Haze, etc along with their seasonals). Let's keep this series going, Abita...

Abbey Ale, Abita, beer, Belgian, Louisiana, Turbodog, Purple Haze, Hopback

Friday, June 12, 2009

Tripel Dubbel Q&A: Saint Somewhere Brewing Company

I decided that I wanted to launch a Q&A feature to the blog and wanted to keep it as simple as possible, but with a bit of a twist. With that said, I came up with and present to you the Tripel Dubbel: two sets of three questions each, with the first set being geared specifically toward the featured brewery and the second remaining constant for each "interview" (I hate to call it that, because it's really not). That said, the constant questions will likely be a work in progress for the first few entries as, while I like them as they stand now and am happy to keep them as is, I am open to suggestions to tweak them.

First up for the Tripel Dubbel is Bob Sylvester of the Saint Somewhere Brewing Company located in Tarpon Springs, Florida. Bob opened Saint Somewhere in 2006 as a small batch brewery that specializes in "traditionally brewed, hand crafted Belgian style ales."

What are your feeling on the current state of the Florida brewing scene?
Growing by leaps and bounds with new breweries opening every few months, it's an exciting time to be a Florida Brewer...finally!

How has the public outside of Florida responded to your beers now that you are available nationally through an agreement with Shelton Brothers?

We've been received very well. Being a niche product I realized that we couldn't survive on Florida alone. We've also been blessed with a lot of great press. We structured the packaging to reflect Florida, but not in an obvious way, which makes us more approachable throughout our market.

Can you provide any insight into the decision to go strictly with 750ml bottles for your products as opposed to the traditional 12 oz. bottles for six pack sales?

Well, that's easy. When we decided to jump into the beer business, my promise to myself was that I would cut no corners. I would never do anything to the product just to save money, or just for marketing purposes. The 750's do make a great presentation, but the larger volume of beer reacts differently than 12 oz. More volume means more yeast in suspension, less oxidation, better fermentation dynamics and so on.

Which of your own beers is your favorite and why?
You're asking me to pick a favorite child. I love them all!

If you could brew a collaborative beer with any other US brewer/brewery, who would it be and why?
No question...Ron Jeffries from Jolly Pumpkin.
(Note: I've followed up with Bob to get some more info as to why he chose Ron and will edit the post accordingly if/when he responds)

What is your proudest moment as a professional brewer?
Seeing Saison Athene chosen for a beer dinner by Gourmet Magazine.

And there you have it...thanks again for being my first victim, Bob!

beer, Bob Sylvester, Florida, Gourmet Magazine, Jolly Pumpkin, Ron Jeffries, Hopback, Saint Somewhere, Saison Athene, Shelton Brothers, Tarpon Springs, Tripel Dubbel