Friday, July 24, 2009

Live Art

I really dig the Rock Art Brewery. Their beer is always solid and they are always putting out new and interesting stuff without falling into the trap of becoming too over-the-top extreme. Plus, founder and head brewer Matt Nadeau is probably one of the nicest people you'll ever meet (check out a quick video from Matt at the end of this post for a bit more info on the beer we'll be reviewing here today).

While Matt's beers have been available here in New Jersey for some time now, they are sometimes a bit difficult to come by. So when I do spot a new Rock Art style on the shelves (or at least new to me) I tend to snatch up a few bottles right away. This time around, I was able to grab some Belvidere Big IPA.

It pours a crisp, amber color with a big, cascading, frothy head that leaves gobs of residue on the glass. Sweet juicy aromas immediately come to the forefront with a bit pf pine added into the mix (always a bonus in my mind...more pine, please), along with some caramel, a bit of bread and a touch of citrus.

The flavor is similar to aroma, but with much more of a bread vibe to it. There's a bit of pine in the middle and a sharp bitter finish. Alcohol is well hidden and is only picked up slightly at the finish. There is a medium body to the liquid here that presents a bit of slickness and is perhaps a bit light for the style but still has a nice carbonation bit overall.

This is a very enjoyable beer to drink, and is certainly one of the smoothest and easiest drinking Double IPA's that I've ever come across. Perhaps that is due to a mouth feel that is tamer than most others in the style category. Very balanced flavor that is hoppy but not overly hoppy by any means, and certainly a step beyond a standard IPA but not an over the top hop blast. Well worth a try.

Hopback, beer, Vermont, Rock Art, Matt Nadeau, Belvidere, IPA

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Breakfast at Tiffany's

I was only just able to sample Founders Brewing Company's Breakfast Stout for the first time about six months or so ago. It blew me away. It's just an amazing beer all around and easily one of the top five that I've ever had the chance to try. Needless to say, I was giddy as hell when I was able to come across a bottle of the just-as-famous Kentucky Breakfast Stout (or as it's now seemingly known, KBS) not too long ago. Side note: can distillers really claim "Kentucky" as their own, thus seemingly prompting the name change? That's shameful. I could understand if it had been called Jim Beam Breakfast Stout, but Kentucky? Really?

Anyway, the beer poured from the bottle looking like liquid coal, and settled in with a thickness that made it seem as if I had just drained my car's engine oil into my glass. Nice. No real head to speak of, but spots of brown are left on the glass here and there.

The aroma gives off strong notes of wood and vanilla, along with a fair amount of alcohol, all of which compliment the chocolate quite nicely. Coffee might be noticeable here and there but the barrel aging really takes hold in the aroma and makes for a boozy yet enticing experience.

The flavor definitely leads with vanilla as well. Coffee chimes in a bit more here, although is still pushed to the back most of the time, and mostly toward the finish of each sip, where it mixes with a bit of roasted malt and a touch of chocolate. Bourbon of course also comes into play here. It hangs around mostly in the middle of each sip I'd say, and has less of an alcohol vibe to it than one would expect given it's stronger presence in the aroma.

This is a a damn good beer, but I think the "basic" Breakfast Stout recipe blows this one out of the water (yes, they are two completely different recipes/beers. This isn't just the Breakfast Stout aged in barrels). Most people seem to prefer the KBS, but not me. Don't get me wrong, I'd never turn down a bottle of the KBS, but I'm just not typically a barrel-aged type of beer drinker. So for me to say I enjoyed just about everything about this beer says a little bit extra about it in my opinion. It'll be pricey if and when you can ever actually find it, but do yourself a favor and at least pick up a bottle to try if you ever do come across it. A great job all around by Founders.

Hopback, beer, Founders, Michigan, Kentucky, Breakfast, Stout, KBS

Sunday, July 19, 2009

TTB Find of the Week: More from Boston Beer

The Boston Beer Company appears to be set to roll out some new additions to their Brewmaster's Collection.

The TTB site has label submissions listed for a Dunkelweizen and something called Coastal Wheat, which is described as a Wheat Ale brewed with Lemon Peel. Interesting. I wonder if they are going to phase out some of the current Brewmaster's selections or if they are just going to keep adding to the arsenal of beers they already brew. If it's the former, I wouldn't mind seeing the mediocre Hefeweizen or Pale Ale get the axe, or even the new Blackberry Witbier, although I suspect it's still too new for them to consider eliminating it already. Actually, my first choice might be to eliminate the Cherry Wheat, but it's been a staple and a top seller for far too long for them to even consider it's demise, I would suspect.

Also listed by the TTB was the info for this year's Patriot Homebrew offering. The winner for the year's competition was an Oatmeal Stout, and will be available only on draft at Gillette Stadium, home of the New England Patriots and New England Revolution.

Click the images below for larger versions:

Hopback, beer, Boston, Samuel Adams, Dunkelweizen, Coastal Wheat, Oatmeal Stout, Patriot Homebrew,Gillette Stadium, New England, Patriots, Revolution

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Captain and the Kid

I could watch Deadliest Catch all day. All the episodes are basically the same but there's just something about the insanity of doing that job that reels me in (pun intended) every week (plus it's set up to record on my DVR so I couldn't miss it even if I tried). Needless to say, I was stoked when I saw that Rogue Ales had a special release called Captain Sig's Northwestern Ale, which they've billed as an India Red Ale, so I picked up a bottle and recently gave it a try.

It pours a mediocre but still not bad looking amber color with a somewhat frothy, somewhat creamy (but altogether slightly thinnish) off-white head that leaves a nice amount of residue on the glass after each sip.

I liked the aroma, simple as it was: caramel sweetness, some fruity hops and a hint of toasted bread here and there. These characteristics all hit in the flavor as well, but in a different fashion. They were more balanced overall in the aroma. Here, there's more of a bite from the hops and sweetness is subdued and left toward the back of each sip. There's a nice breadiness that leads the way here as the dominant flavor.

This wasn't a bad beer overall. Again, the aroma doesn't match the flavor. Well, it matches but is flip flopped in terms of dominant charateristics. It's easy to drink and flavorful but not overly memorable. Very much middle of the road in those terms. I would have this one again for sure, but it wouldn't be my first choice, especially given the overly inflated prices of Rogue bombers.

I suspect that most people who try it will like it but not love it, just as was the case with me.

Hopback, beer, Deadliest Catch, India Red Ale, Rogue, Oregon, Northwestern, Captain Sig's Northwestern Ale

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

NYC Homebrewers Rejoice

It has baffled me for years: New York, the largest city in the United States and one of the biggest in the world, has had only one homebrew shop to it's name, and said shop is located in Queens (which isn't New York).

Luckily things are starting to change in the city and not one, but two establishments are setting up shop in Brooklyn. The first, Brooklyn Brew Shop, has already opened for business as a part of the Brooklyn Flea. They are in Fort Greene on Saturdays and under the Brooklyn Bridge on Sundays. Proprietors Stephen and Erica have set up an online shop for you to make your selections ahead of time and then simply pick up at the flea market. If what you are looking for isn't listed on their site, they seem willing and able to make the effort to find it for you.

The second of the two is Brooklyn Homebrew. Benjamin Stutz and Danielle Cefaro have been blogging about their progress for some time now and have also been selling certificates offering up to $20 in free hombrewing supplies if you purchase a $40 or $80 certificate now. All certificates are guaranteed for a full refund of the purchase price if they do not open up shop by June 1, 2010 (and they are making a strong push to open much sooner than that, I might add). They also have some supplies already for sale, so check their blog often for updates if you live in the area.

Cheers to the success of both businesses and hopefully this is a sign of other things to come for the homebrew community in NYC. Please support them both in any way that you can in order to ensure their success.

Hopback, beer, Brooklyn, Homebrew, New York

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


Having spent six or so years in Boston in the late '90s/early '00s, I certainly drank my fair share of Harpoon products. It's nice to be able go back to them from time to time here in New Jersey, but we usually only seem to get the staples from the brewery: Harpoon IPA, UFO Hefeweizen and whatever the current seasonal is. So it's good to see the Leviathan Series making it's way out of New England and into stores around here. I believe of the four releases thus far from the series, the only one I didn't see at some point was the initial offering, which was a Baltic Porter.

For this go around I was able to grab a bottle of the Quad. It looks nice, pouring a murky brownish amber color with a thin head that settles in nicely atop the liquid.

I want to like the aroma but something is holding me back a bit: there's a nice blend of both dark berry and banana, pepper and caramel here along with subtle earth notes, but I think the alcohol presence may be a touch heavy-handed here, taking away from the other aromas instead of complimenting them.

Thankfully, the alcohol is scaled back somewhat in the flavor. It's still there for sure as this one is absolutely boozy, but it gives way a bit to those berry flavors, some candy sweetness toward the middle and also to the earth notes picked up in the aroma. I think the alcohol plays much better with the pepper flavor here as well, as you are hit you with a sharp pepper bite in each sip and then a nice warming effect from the alcohol.

This is a big beer for sure and at 11.75% ABV, a single twelve ounce bottle will do you just fine for the evening. I enjoyed it in the middle of the summer but think it'd be spot on sitting by the fire in the dead of winter. A good beer as it stands and one that could be even better with some taming of the alcohol in the aroma.

Hopback, beer, Harpoon, Leviathan, Boston, Quad