Saturday, May 31, 2008

Monthly Beer Review and Rating - May 2008



At Home:

Southern Tier - IPA
A solidly good IPA. A little off balance for me.

My Rating: The glass is half full


















Great Lakes - Moondog ESB
A very good beer, but not excellent.
You really can't go wrong with any
beer from Great Lakes Brewery.
My Rating: The glass is half full
















New Belgium - Springboard Ale
This is indeed a good beer for Spring and Summer,
but the unusual ingredients of wormwood, lycium, schisandra,
and 2% ale aged in oak barrels just didn't work together that well
to taste that good to me. It was interesting to try, but I will likely
not want it again.
My Rating: The glass is half empty

















Founders - Centennial IPA
This is one of the best IPA's that I have ever had. Awesome.
My Rating: The glass is full
















Lagunitas - Lucky 13
A great beer and a great deal ($5).
My Rating: The glass is full















On Tap:
at Poor Phil's in Oak Park, Illinois
  1. Two Brothers Bare Tree Barley Weiss - first time having this, I really enjoyed it - My Rating: The glass is full
  2. North Coast Red Seal Ale - one of my favorite overall great ales - My Rating: The glass is full
  3. New Holland Existential - intense and strong, and I like hoppy beers, but doesn't taste very good overall, as it is very off balance to me - My Rating: The glass is half empty
at Small Bar, Avondale/Logan Square, Chicago, Illinois
  1. Lagunitas IPA - My Rating: The glass is half full
  2. Victory Prima Pils - My Rating: The glass is half full
at The Hopleaf, Andersonville, Chicago, Illinois
  1. Surly Bender - My Rating: The glass is full
  2. Founders Red's Rye - another awesome one from Founders - My Rating: The glass is full

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Weird Beer Thursday - Wostyntje Torhouts Mustard Ale

Wostyntje - Torhouts Mustard Ale

Why it's weird:

Ale brewed with mustard seeds.

What's up with this beer:
So last week we had black and green peppercorn beer. This week, we have a different spice - mustard seeds.
Picked this up from Binny's the other day. I think it was about $4. You should be able to find it in the Belgium section of beers. I also remember having this a couple years ago at Hopleaf, which has it there on the bottle menu.
The flavors are rather subtle. I think it is a pretty tasty beer, but was expecting more pronounced flavors. Specifically, from the mustard seeds, of course. It has a creaminess to it, which I've noticed seems to be a trend with beers brewed with seeds. There is some sweet fruitiness. There was also some unique bitterish and barely spicy finish, due to the hops and mustard seeds. It's interesting that is has a cloudy yellowish/orangish color, kind of a little like the color of fancy mustard, like Grey Poupon or something. Maybe it was just my tasting of it this time, but I was expecting more flavor. There are some funky little flavors going on, but again, they are slightly detectable. Overall, it is very nice quality beer, which I would expect from Belgium, but nothing to get all that excited about, and not even that "weird". It is rather light and pretty refreshing, and I could see it as being quite good to have in the summer with a bratwurst topped with mustard and sauerkraut or sweet onions. Here's what others are saying about Wostyntje on Beer Advocate.
Brouwerij De Regenboog also makes a very good and flavorful witbier called Vuuve (Flemish for "Five").
"Regenboog" is Dutch for "Rainbow".

Details: (from the brewery)
Wostyntje Torhouts Mustard Ale
Brewed & Bottle by Brouwerij De Regenboog
Brugge, Belgium
Wostyntje is a dark blonde ale brewed with 90% barley malt, 10% munich malt, 2 sorts of hops (Kent Goldings and Challenger), light and dark candy sugar, and (crushed Torhouts) mustard seeds.
7% Alc./vol.

My Rating:
The glass is half full.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Weird Beer Thursday - Route Des Épices

Route Des Épices (Spice Route)

Why it's weird:

Rye beer brewed with black and green peppercorns.

What's up with this beer:
I almost went with another fruit beer this time but fortunately I found this one, to take us on a different route. Last time I mentioned that I really like rye ales. Well, here's one with a peppery kick! This is my first time to have a beer from the Dieu Du Ciel microbrewery from Canada. The helpful clerk at the beer store recommended this to me, saying they just got it in and that it was unique, and he was so right. It is a delightful beer and fun to drink. It is definitely a lot less hoppy and hearty as the American rye beers can be, and the pepper lingers and tingles on your tongue - fun! It poured with a great creamy white head that stuck around throughout drinking. There is some sweetness, and some real rye flavor, but the pepper dominates, which is fine by me as it is an interesting flavor that works well with this beer (and for this post!). The overall body of the beer tastes lighter than it appears and I like the amount of carbonation. Somehow, the pepper flavor intensified as I got to the last sips, and actually my tongue was slightly numb when I was done. Yeah, of course this isn't a beer that I would have all the time, but - this is Weird Beer Thursday. It is not a very strong beer, at only 5%. It is definitely worth a try if you have the chance. It's a very high quality beer. I would try their other beers too, such as their (I'm just going to use their names in English) "Mortal Sin" and "Smoke Screen". I like their beer labels too! And I haven't been to Montréal yet, but when I eventually go, I can stay in this cool apartment for rent above their brewpub!
Just as I finished writing this, there was still a little bit left in the glass, so I shot it real quick in my mouth, but it kind of went to the back of my throat. Whoa! There's that fun pepper flavor again. What can I say, I guess I like-a the fresh-a pepper.

Details: (from the brewery)
Route des épices (Spice route)
Bière de seigle au poivre - 5% alc./vol.
341 ml (11.5 fl. oz.)

Brasserie Dieu Du Ciel!
St-Jérôme and Montréal, Québec, Canada

Routes des épices (French for "Spice Route") is a rye beer brewed with both black and green peppercorns. Initially, the beer reveals flavours of fresh grain and malt, which give it notes of chocolate, caramel, and fruit. The pepper flavour and aroma is fully revealed in the finish, which leaves a pleasant, spicy, tingling sensation on the tongue.

My Rating:
The glass is full.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

A Great Beer for a Great Cause: Reunion '08 Organic Red Rye Ale

Just to let you all know, I am probably going to be way too busy to write any posts in the next week or so, but after that I will be back. I have many things that I would like to write about, but they will have to wait until I have the time.
Instead of a "Weird Beer Thursday" today, I would like to briefly write about and give links to Reunion '08 ("A Beer for Hope") Organic Red Rye Ale. I easily found this at my small local neighborhood beer store (chilled), so hopefully you can find it easily too. So, pick it up, enjoy, and know that it's all for a great cause.
Here's the info and all the relevant links:

Reunion '08: A Beer for Hope - Organic Red Rye Ale brewed with caraway seeds

It's about $5 or $6 for a 22 oz. bottle, and ALL of the profits are donated to the Institute for Myeloma & Bone Cancer Research.

From the website and on the back of the bottle:

"This year's version of Reunion is an organic red rye ale, featuring a malt forward character balanced by spice notes from the rye, caraway seeds, and hops. Once again we have brewed Reunion in cooperation with Dan Del Grande at Bison Brewing.

The 2008 Reunion Ale celebrates the life of our dear friend and partner in this project - Virginia MacLean. Virginia lost her battle with Mutiple Myeloma on June 4, 2007. It was Virginia's wish that we continue the mission of raising funds for The Institute for Myeloma & Bone Cancer Research (IMBCR), so that others could benefit from their research. We know of no better way to honor her legacy.

Every day over 1,000 people are diagnosed with this currently incurable form of bone cancer. IMBCR is working on novel chemotherapy drugs to cure patients like Virginia. Every dollar and every day gets us closer to that cure. You can make it a reality. To learn more please visit: www.IMBCR.org.

Many thanks to all who have supported this project and help us honor Virginia's memory. Our additional thanks to Dr. Jim Berenson and his team at IMBCR for their tireless work on behalf of myeloma patients everywhere.

Cheers!
Pete & Alan

Pete Slosberg's image used courtesy of Pete's Brewing Company.

INGREDIENTS: Organic Barley, Organic Flaked Rye, Hops, Organic Caraway Seeds, Water, Yeast.

BREWED & BOTTLED BY:
BISON BREWING CHICO, CA 95928
CERTIFIED ORGANIC BY CALIFORNIA CROP IMPROVEMENT ASSOCIATION."

Reunion Beer Links - has all the links to relevant sites and info and blogs that have already done a great job writing about it this year and last year.

I really like red rye ales, so I highly recommend this beer. I have to be honest and say that I don't think that it is quite as good as others I really like, such as Two Brothers Cane and Ebel, or Bear Republic Hop Rod Rye, but these are also different variations of the style, so I don't really like to compare. It's a great looking beer and a delicious beer. Plus, for such a great cause - you gotta just buy it and try it.
It also a great beer to have around this time, when we are still having chilly and rainy weather lately here in Chicago.
I wasn't originally going to give a rating for this beer, but what the heck. I think you know what it may be.

My Rating:
The glass is full.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Schlitz. The cheap beer with the most gusto.

Last night, I drank and enjoyed some Schlitz. This was mostly due to the fact that I am very poor right now. But this is also due to the fact that I like Schlitz. In fact, I believe that Schlitz is the best tasting cheap beer. In recent years, it has been hard to find, although I know that my local bar has always had Schlitz cans for $2. Now, Schlitz is coming back in a big way, with the original 1960's formula. Um, I'm not sure what this will really mean, but sounds good to me.

I don't see this being a recurring trend for this blog, but I couldn't resist posting this video. It's a 1984 TV commercial for Schlitz "Bull" Malt Liquor, featuring The Marshall Tucker Band and 38 Special (rockin' tunes play automatically). 38 Speical clearly wins in the web design category.
Here's the video:


Couple of thoughts after watching this commercial:
How many guys are in those bands anyway?
I like the short guy with the hat in 38 Special.
At a few parts, I am not really sure what they are yelling about. I don't even think that they are using real words.
If 38 Special started marching towards me in a bar, demanding that I drink a Schlitz "Bull", you best believe that I would have one. Heck, I'd probably buy them a round too.
If I was drinking said beer in said bar situation, I would be on a constant lookout for a raging bull to suddenly come crashing through the wall.

Can't get enough old Schlitz commercials?
Here is another hilarious Schlitz "Bull" commercial featuring Tommy James & The Shondells and the Average White Band, with a more groovin' take on it.
Here's one with James Coburn dressed as a cowboy ordering a Schlitz light in a bar with a "captain" guy and a toupeed bartender.
Here's one featuring a motorcycle guy and Boston's "More Than A Feeling".
Here's a 1969 commercial of people enjoying the original Schlitz at a picnic.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Weird Beer Thursday - Bar Harbor Blueberry Ale

Bar Harbor Blueberry Ale

Why it's weird:
Obviously, it's made with blueberries (from Maine!).

What's up with this beer:
I kept seeing this at my local beer store last year, but at that time I was not into fruit beers at all, and I thought for sure that I would not like it. Now, my tastes have changed and I have enjoyed many "fruit beers" recently. That Chicago Tribune article about fruit beers must have really piqued my interest. I previously reviewed a Mbege-style ale which is brewed with bananas, and recently at The Hopleaf I had the interesting Surly Two, which is made with lots of cranberries (those BA reviews are accurate), which could easily be featured as a "weird beer" but I didn't get a photo. By the way, I can't wait to try more beers from the excellent Surly Brewery, but right now they are mostly only available in Minnesota.
I still do not like really fruit beers, like the ones that overly tart or are more wine-like than beer-like. So, once I realized that this Bar Harbor Blueberry Ale is more like an actual ale instead of a really fruity beer, I was confident to buy it and try it. Plus, I very much like blueberries. Turns out, I really liked Bar Harbor Blueberry Ale. It had subtle aromas of blueberries and also a subtle taste of fruit/blueberries, so it is not really fruity at all. Mostly, it was just an overall well-balanced amber ale that was enjoyable to drink. It is pretty much like drinking blueberry muffins, which I think is awesome. The six-pack that I purchased did not last long at all. My girlfriend also tried a bottle and also thought it was good. At one particular tasting time, I was still up at the early morning hours enjoying some of this blueberry ale, but then I got hungry. I found some blueberry waffles in my freezer (frozen from Trader Joes, which aren't all that "blueberry-y" either), so I toasted those up and ate 'em with the beer - it was a delicious (and might I say perfect) combination!
I have heard of a few other "blueberry beers" that exist out there, but I can see Bar Harbor Blueberry Ale probably being the best. They even state on the label that it is "America's Original Blueberry Ale". Although, Bar Harbor Blueberry Ale is not on the level of excellent, it is solidly good and I very much recommend it. And obviously, you will like it if you like blueberries and amber ales, both of which I happen to very much like.

Details: (from the brewery)
Bar Harbor Blueberry Ale
The Atlantic Brewing Company
Bar Harbor, Maine, United States
A light fruit ale, made with Maine wild blueberries. As opposed to many of the sweeter fruit beers on the market, our addition of fresh Maine wild blueberries in this light ale yields a subtle blueberry aroma, without the sweet aftertaste.

A mixture of the following Mutton malts, pale, crystal, and Munich, are combined with wheat to give this ale its lighter body, and we only use minimal amounts of Target and Willamette hops.

ABV 5.2%

My Rating:
The glass is half full.

About Me

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Chicago, Illinois, United States

"Lines on Ale" by Edgar Allen Poe

Fill with mingled cream and amber

I will drain that glass again.

Such hilarious visions clamber

Through the chamber of my brain -

Quaintest thoughts - queerest fancies

Come to life and fade away;

What care I how time advances?

I am drinking ale today

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