Monday, December 28, 2009

Review: European Lager Time!

File this one under:

So in recent days I've come across a few different European lagers... some via friends, other through Marcello's going out of business sale.  Combine this with past experience with beers like Heineken, Groslch, and Stella Artois and I've come to a definite conclusion... the world of European lagers is just as watered down as in America.  That's not to say there aren't some great lagers available, just that the bigger the marketing campaign, in general the worse the beer.  First up is probably the most popular beer in all of Italy... Peroni Nasture Azzuro.

Technically this one is classified as a European Pale Lager, along with Heineken and Stella.  If you take away that bottle next to it, there's no difference from any American macrobrew... light clear golden color, earthy straw flavor... nothing special, but rerefshing.  Best served cold.

Next up was a Mythos Hellenic Lager... a product of Greece.

This one is classified as a 'Munich Helles Lager' which basically means it's a German-style light (in color) lager.  I'm sure you've tried this style of beer before, most likely a Paulaner, Hoffbrau, Spaten, or Weihenstephaner original.  This one is a Greek take on the style, and it left a lot to be desired.  Just like the Peroni, clear golden color, straw flavors, very little hops... if you see this one and there are better options, take a pass. 

Finally, in yet a third different style of European lager... a Stiegl Goldbräu Premium Lager.

This one is an Austrian beer, and considered a Märzen, or Oktoberfest lager.  These are almost always going to be darker in color and have a thicker maltier body than the above lagers, and this was no exception.  Definitely the best of the three European lagers I've tried recently, and a solid beer all around.  If you see this one, give it a try!

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas, and keep on drinking!

Lager on Foodista
Helles on Foodista
Märzen on Foodista

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Review: Newcastle Brown Ale

File this one under:

Alright, I'm sure most of you have tried one of these before... Newcastle is probably the most popular English Brown Ale in the world, and it's easy to find all over the states, on tap and in bottles.  Newcastle came from appropriately enough, Newcastle upon Tyne, England.  Unfortunately, in what has become a common trend for some of these classic English beers like Newcastle, Boddingtons, and others, brewing no longer takes place in Newcastle, and the brewery and beer name is owned by one of the larger conglomerates.  In this case, Heineken owns the Newcastle brand under one of its subsidiaries.  Now, I can't really tell whether these changes in ownership have affected the beer itself, but they certainly have increased distribution, so sometimes these deals aren't really a bad thing.

As for the beer itself, expect a sweet malty brown ale with minimal hops and not a whole lot of surprises.  There aren't going to be any crazy flavors here, or anything extreme, just a refreshing sweet malty beer that just about anyone can enjoy.  The perfect sort of beer for hitting the bar after some kickball, or digging out of the fridge after a sweaty afternoon of yardwork.

Enjoy, and Merry Christmastime everyone!

Taste: B-
Value: B

Brown Ale on Foodista

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Review: Harvest Moon Pumpkin Ale

File this one under:

Thanks to Lauren Land for bringing some of these over... not one I would normally pick up but that doesn't mean I shouldn't give it a try and let everyone know what I think!  I poured this one from a 12 oz. brown bottle into an imperial pint glass. It poured smooth, copper orange color, crystal clear with a small white head. There is little retention on the head, and minimal lacing. I like the darker color, but nothing else about the appearance is inviting.

The smell isn't strong, but at least there is some pumpkin in there. Also some malty aromas, a little chocolate even. There is even more pumpkin on the tongue, along with the malt flavors... even a kick of pumpkin on the aftertaste. It's better than I expected for sure.

Not bad at all for a macro beer, not the best pumpkin beer I've ever had... or even had in the last few weeks, but not a bad effort.  I think of all the macro lines of beers the 'Blue Moon' beers from Coors tend to be some of the best. 

Taste: C+
Value: B

Another one from Coors/Blue Moon will be coming soon, their 2009 Grand Cru... so look for that one!

Vegetable Beer on Foodista

Monday, December 21, 2009

Review: Boddingtons Pub Ale

File this one under:

Thanks to James for supplying the beer in this case, as he brought over a 4-pack of Boddingtons, the "Cream of Manchester" which of course refers to its hometown of Machester, England.  Unfortunately Boddingtons and its Manchester brewery are now owned by InBev, so the global giant claims another one.  But on to the beer... which as far as I know hasn't changed.

I poured this one from a 1-pint nitro-can into an imperial pint glass. This one has a nitrogen widget similar to Guinness, Wexford, and other Irish and British ales.  The famous bubbles came forth like crazy... turning the glass into a battlefield as the golden ale fought through the creamy head. One of the best looking pours around... too bad that's the highlight of the beer!

Smell is average... a little hops, nothing special. The taste is watery, slightly bitter with not a whole lot of character.  The mouthfeel isn't bad... no bad aftertastes, feels good going down despite the bitter feel.  Very drinkable... I have a feeling I could kick these guys back all day long.

Taste: B-
Value: B

Pale Ale on Foodista

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Review: Brother Thelonious Belgian-Style Abbey Ale

File this one under:

Another one from a recent Calandro's beer run... the Brother Thelonious Belgian Style Abbey Ale from North Coast Brewing Company.  This brewery is located in northern California, and not just San Francisco... Fort Bragg which apparently (I just checked some Google Earth) is much farther north.  That's damn near Oregon and Oregon makes some good beer, so that's a good sign.  They are probably best known for the Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout, which I've tried before and will have to find again to feature on this blog sometime in the future.  But back to this beer...

I poured it from the corked 750ml bottle into a Chimay goblet... no head at all. Zero. That was really odd, as you can see in the picture from literally seconds after the pour. The color is a dark ruby red, almost brown. 

There's a good smell to it, herbal, a little pear and apple scents.

The taste isn't much like the smell upfront... hints of malts, then the fruit flavors come through and on the back end more malts with some hops as well. Pretty good, considering this one has almost no carbonation.  I obviously came across a flat bottle, total bummer... the flavor is still there but none of the character.  I've had this beer once before, on tap at the Flying Saucer in Little Rock, AR last year after the LSU/Arkansas game.  I remember it being a really good Belgian-style ale so I'm going to give it the benefit of the doubt despite this disappointment.

Taste: B+
Value: B+  ($8.49 at Calandro's, good price for a 750ml bottle.)

On the notes of price, just imagine what you'd pay for a 750ml bottle of exceptional wine?  A lot more than $8.49 that's for sure, yet the same price on the same quantity of beer is often considered to be high.  Just something to think about next time you're picking up a few bombers or 6-packs.

Belgian Dubbel on Foodista

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Review: Brooklyn Lager

File this one under:

I picked up a 6-pack of Brooklyn Brewery Lagers from Bet-R for Thanksgiving a few weeks back... good prices and a decent little selection over there.  After Thanksgiving I had a few left over so it was time for a review.  

I poured it from a 12 oz. bottle into a Third Row pint glass. There's a great look to this one for a lager like this. Lots of bubbly carbonation, decent sized head that filled the last 4 ounces of the glass, but not quite enough to overflow. Very nice, and unexpected. 

Very malty on the nose, nothing else stands out at all, clean smell, no funk at all. The malt carries over into the taste well, although it takes a while to get the flavors on the tongue. A bit watered down on the front and back end of each sip, strong malt in the middle with a bit of an aftertaste. It's good, and the flavor that is there is great, but just lacks a little body.

The drinkability is great, I could drink all night on these guys. All in all a damn fine lager and a damn fine session beer... well done Brooklyn!

Taste: B+
Value: A

Lager on Foodista

Friday, December 11, 2009

Review: De Dolle Dulle Teve (Mad Bitch)

File this one under:

First off, I love the name.  Just say 'De Dolle Dulle Teve' real quick.  Kinda rolls off the tongue!  'De Dolle' is actually the name of the brewery, located in Esen, Belgium.  'Dulle Teve' is the name of the beer, which of course translates into 'Mad Bitch.'  I've had one of these before at the Cove and remember liking it a good bit, and Belgian Tripels are one of my favorite styles, so when I saw some at Calandro's, I figured it was time for another try. 

I poured this one from an 11.2 oz. bottle into a Chimay goblet... typical cloudy amber color with a ridiculous creamy frothy head. One of the biggest heads I've seen on a beer, especially in a goblet.  

Smells like sweet floral spices.. a hint of citrus, definitely some hops. Just like you want from a Belgian tripel.   The taste is more of the same, plus a hint of sweet caramel in there. Floral on the end of the sip, spicy and delicious.

A top notch tripel, but not my all-time favorite.

Taste: A
Value: B

Sorry for the delay between reviews... I've been trying to balance a low-calorie diet with the beer drinking since Thanksgiving, which isn't always easy.  I have a few more in the works that you should be seeing soon, including a Brooklyn Lager, Stone IPA, and a few more.

Until then, cheers!

Tripel on Foodista

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Review: McSorley's Irish Pale Ale

File this one under: 

Picked up a 6-pack from Calandro's... at only $7.99 it seemed like an interesting one to give a try and a great price.  I poured it from a 12 oz. bottle into a pint glass... slightly hazy amber color, small head.  I figured a Happy's Irish Pub pint glass was appropriate for an Irish pale ale, right?  I'm taking the proper glassware to the next level my friends.

Smells of malt, bread flavors, slightly sweet, not a lot of balance or complimenting flavors.  The taste was more of the same. Nothing too bold at all, but a solid drinkable pale ale.

I have to say if I was sitting at McSorley's Old Ale House in NYC I could really enjoy a few of these on tap.  I'm still kinda bummed that we missed this place when Jay, Brent, Brandon and I all went to New York two summer ago.  I'm betting that it tastes significantly better fresh from the brewery to the pub, but as a bottled beer for retail, just not all that spectacular.  There are definitely better 6-packs out there for the price.

Taste: B-
Value: B

In other news, my place was broken into today sometime while I was at work.  The bastards took my old power tool set, a folding table, and a dolly.  Not to be TOO insensitive, but I was kinda surprised the tequila was still on the shelf.  Only that last bit was a joke.

Pale Ale on Foodista

Friday, November 27, 2009

Parish Brewing - Coming Soon!

File this one under:

Tuesday evening Jay, Eusebio, and I headed down to Broussard, LA (just a little south of Lafayette) to meet Andrew Godley, the founder of Parish Brewing.  One of Jay's former teaching co-workers Ben met us there as well with his wife.  Andrew was kind enough to welcome us into his home to talk about his brewery project and let us taste several different types of his beer.  He even cooked for us, some delicious bacon-wrapped duck breasts, chicken-apple sausage, and stuffed mushrooms.  I love good food as much as the next guy, but I'm not going to focus on that, I'll leave it to Jay and Eusebio.

We started off with a variation of the Parish Bierre Blanc, an ultra-pale ale dry-hopped with west coast hops.  Andrew admitted that he wasn't too fond of this experiment, and we all agreed that it was the weakest of the brews we tried.  Super bitter and dry tasting, tasted a lot like grapefruit up front.  Crisp, and not far away from being a very refreshing ale, but this one needs more work.

Next we tried Andrew's pilsner, a superbly refreshing lagered brew that struck us all as what a true American pilsner should taste like.  For those unaware 'lagering' a beer involves fermentation at much colder temperatures, which takes significantly longer to produce than a more typical ale.  As much as we hate to say it, it was like a Budweiser if they didn't water it down for the masses.  Definitely enjoyed this one, but we were just getting warmed up.

After the pilsner we tried some of the Parish Oktoberfest.  Andrew tried a different method with this, creating an Oktoberfest ale instead of the normal Märzen style of lager.  Very much amber in color, with lots of rich malt flavors and well balanced with the hops.  This reminded me a good bit of the Heiner brau Märzen, which I've found to be their best beer.  I think that Parish Brewing will do quite well with this one as it is. 

Fourth on the list was the Parish specialty, the Canebrake ale, brewed with Louisiana sugarcane.  I love the idea of using local ingredients as much as possible, and this is a delicious example of doing just that.  I think Andrew is still perfecting the right amount of sugarcane (or raw molasses made from the sugarcane) to use in the brew, and in the sample we tried I think the beer could have used even more sweet flavor from the molasses.  I'm confident the perfectionist in him will find the right balance to really make this a spectacular favorite among local beer.  

Last we tried the Pumpkin Patch ale, which was definitely the highlight of the night.  I've tried many a pumpkin beer in my day and this is right up there with the best.  Similar to the Canebrake ale, Andrew used only fresh pumpkin to create the flavor of the beer, and it didn't miss.  Just the right amount of spice and sweet to go with the beer flavor.  What I like best about this and all of the Parish beers is that they are unmistakably beer.  They aren't trying to be something more or different, just good beer crafted to be the best they can be.  


 Again, thanks very much to Andrew and his wife for hosting us for the evening, the beer was delicious, and the food and company was top notch as well.  I look forward to seeing some Parish beer on tap sometime next year, and you all should look foward to it as well.  It'll be nice to have another solid local option for tasty brews!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Review: St. Bernardus Witbier & Abt 12

File this one under:

Alright, so as you may remember from a few posts back I picked up a two of each of these selections from the Belgian brewery St. Bernardus, which technically isn't a "Trappist brewery" because the brewing isn't done within the walls of a monestary, but nonetheless produces some of the world's finest Belgian ales.  On the last trip to Calandro's I picked up two of my favorites, the Witbier, and the Abt 12.

Starting with the St. Bernardus Witbier...

I poured it from a small 11.2 oz. bottle into a Castlemaine XXXX glass, stolen from a pub in Galway, Ireland after I wiped out their last keg of the XXXX Gold Lager beer.  While that's a different story it's important to note that despite this being a Belgian ale I didn't pour it into a typical goblet.  Witbiers (often referred to as white ales) are best out of a pint glass or other similar drinking vessel.  This particular witbier had a murky gold color, with a nice creamy white head. There was a lot of lacing as the head dissipated. 

The aroma is just what you would want in a Witbier... a strong smell of wheat, with hints of various fruits and spices. The taste follows that up very nicely, a hint of lemon, some banana, with some definite spice. Delicious. 

This one feels great in the mouth, and is one of the more drinkable beers I've had in a while. All in all, a superb and refreshing witbier.  It's no surprise that beeradvocate rates this one cumulatively as the best witbier available!  If you're looking to branch out into different beers this would be a fantastic starting point.

Now for the Abt 12... darker, bolder, and just as good!


Unlike the Witbier, this one is a Quad and deserves a goblet to release the aroma and flavors as the beer reacts with the oxygen.  The beer pours a tootsie-roll brown, with a one-finger creamy head. It took a while to dissipate and left a little lacing. Some creamy residue on the surface of the beer as well. 

The aroma is malty, a little sweet, hints of spice, and VERY inviting. I can't wait to dive in. The taste is more of the same, very well balanced with a smack of clove and other spice at the beginning and then a malty sweet taste as the beer goes down. This is the best St. Bernardus offering I've had yet... phenomenal.  No surprise again that beeradvocate users rank this one as the third best quad in existence, behind the Westvletern 12 (which you have to go to Belgium to find!) and the Rochefort 10.  Again, stateside, this one is going to be hard to beat.

So there you have it... two of the best beers in the world, that you can find on a shelf just down the street.  They aren't cheap, but totally worth it.

Taste: A
Value: A

Abt 12:
Taste: A+
Value A

And now I'm off to Lafayette for a tasting of some Parish Brewing beers... yum!

Witbier on Foodista

Monday, November 23, 2009

Review: Abita Golden

File this one under:

A friend brought a 6-pack of these guys over for the LSU vs. LA Tech game, and to the host go the spoils, right?  I've always been a fan of Abita, but the more I explore other beers out there the more I realize they are just a middle of the road microbrewery, but they're still the local guys, so they get some support from me.  

I poured the Golden from a 12 oz. bottle into a Third Row pint glass.  It's very clear, no haziness to it at all, golden color befitting the name with a bubbly white head. Actually surprising head retention on this one. 

Not much on the nose... straw mostly, a bit earthy but none of it really stands out. More of the straw on the taste, but also crisp. A little corn at the end maybe? Subtle sweet hints in the flavor as well. Good for a lager for sure, but nothing special.  A step up from the big boys for sure.

Mouthfeel gets higher marks, very clean taste, hardly any aftertaste, certainly nothing bad. And high marks for drinkability as well. This is far from my favorite Abita beer but I could still kick back a few while watching LSU play or destroying a crawfish boil.  In fact, I think Abita Golden would make a perfect crawfish boil beer!

Taste: C
Value: B

Some random thoughts... look for a few reviews from the last beer run coming out soon... I've already tried three of them, all fantastic!  I officially hate DeSean Jackson for killing me in one of my fantasy matchups last night.  2012 looks like one of the worst movies ever... anyone seen it that can confirm this?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Review: Harviestoun Ola Dubh Special 30 Reserve

File this one under:

After Eusebio came over and tried one of the Oaked Arrogant Bastard ales I have left over the other day, we decided to break this one out and give it a try.  It came in an 11.2 oz. bottle purchased from Marcello's, bottled Sept. 2007... hopefully these guys are intended to cellar for a few years!  The special thing about these guys is that they are an 'old ale' style but aged in 30-year Highland Park scotch casks.  Hell yeah!  

It poured dark dark dark color, much like a Guinness but without the huge bubbling, in fact there was not much of a head at all. Highland Park was the winner of the scotch tasting I went to about a month ago, so I'm excited for this one.

The beer smells of bitter chocolate and a faint hint of smoky scotch. It's not as strong as I'd like to see, but what is there is nice... I like the hint of scotch in there, good blend of flavors in my opinion.

The taste is more of the same, but more layered, the first bit is rich and chocolatey, but the aftertaste is strong smoky scotch. Well balanced overall and I love the way the scotch flavor sticks with you at the end.  Again, I wish the smoke flavor was a bit stronger, but that might throw some people off. 

Feels great on the mouth, good carbonation and smooth. I could definitely drink a few of these in one sitting. Easily.

Taste: A-
Value: B ($11.99 for a small bottle is a bit high...)

Three random thoughts: Go Saints!  I'd love to see 10-0 after they beat up on the Bucs today.  I'd rather not talk about the LSU game last night... ugh... horrible coaching.  And I'm looking forward to meeting the guys over at Parish Brewing later this week to see what their beer is all about and see how we can help them out in the BR area.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Beer run!

File this one under:
Beer run!

So... Saturday morning... and after Eusebio swung by last night to hang out and try some of the Oaked Arrogant Bastard Ale I realized I was down to one fresh beer in the fridge.  Fresh in this case being one I haven't had a chance to review and post for you guys.  So... I needed to stock up on some new beers to get to over the coming weeks.

Sounds like a trip to Calandro's was in order, which was perfect because I also needed to get some bread so I could make sandwiches from my leftover turkey and I needed some chips and salsa for the LSU game this afternoon.  And it just so happens they have the best beer selection in town.  An opportunistic coincidence, I think.

So... here you go... this is what you can look forward to in the coming few weeks... a few old favorites that I haven't written about (St. Bernardus Abt 12 and the St. Bernardus Witbier) plus a handful of new beers to me.  A six-pack of McSorley's Pale Ale, bombers of Unibroue La Terrible, North Coast Brother Thelonius, North Coast La Merle Saison, and a bottle of De Dolle Dulle Teve.  So... look forward to reviews on these guys coming soon!


And my prediction?  LSU 24, Ole Piss 20

Friday, November 20, 2009

Review: Oaked Arrogant Bastard Ale

File this one under:

So, I took off from work this past Wednesday afternoon to prepare the turkey for Friendsgiving (which you can read more about at BiteandBooze, Jay's blog...) and I needed a few last-minute items such as aluminum foil, so I made the quick walk from my place to the Bet-R store across from Chelsea's.  Despite living so close I haven't made too many trips over to the Bet-R, but I remembered them having a decent little beer selection.  And I was thrilled to see some of the Oaked Arrogant Bastard Ale from Stone brewing.  I had some of the regular Arrogant Bastard on tap at the Chimes a few weeks ago, and enjoyed it a lot, so I was thrilled to try this oak-barrel aged version!  It had no price tag on the 6-pack or on the shelf, so after a few confusing minutes for the cashier (sorry to the cute girl behind me!) she decided to ring it up for $8.99... a very fair price for a 6-pack of some good microbrew, in my opinion.

After that it was back to my place to do some turkey cooking, which involves a lot of waiting around making sure the oven isn't on fire.  In other words, the perfect opportunity to crack open a new beer and give it a taste.

I poured it from a 12 oz. bottle into a pint glass... hey look, an RSAK logo!  It has a clear deep red color with a small tan head... not a lot of retention in the first one although the second one had a huge head.  Hops and oak on the nose... a little sweet but the oak is definitely there.

Very nice flavor to it, the oak balances well with the hops, there's a little malt on the front of the sip too. Hops more on the back end, and more oak on the aftertaste. Very very good.  It clocks in a 7.2% alcohol but you would never know.  I didn't even know until I looked it up at BeerAdvocate to read a little more about the beer and write my quick review.  Just superb balance to this beer.

Good carbonation to it, very nice mouthfeel, easy to drink if you like hops at all. I'm a fan, definitely an improvement on the regular Arrogant Bastard.

Taste: A
Value: A  (Most likely at least...)

And some random thoughts... my scale told me yesterday morning that I needed to get back on the diet plan, as I'm 10 pounds up from my over the Summer low mark.  I guess that might mean a slight slow-down in beer reviews, but I'm sure I'll find room in the diet for a beer or two per week.  Or a glass of scotch, depending on the mood. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Review: Brasserie Des Rocs Grand Cru

File this one under: 

Okay, this is another one from a beer run to Calandro's a while back.  Poured from a 16.9 oz. bottle into a Chimay goblet... not a lot of head in the glass, although it did foam over after popping the top. Very murky brownish color with a hint of red... looks like some sediment made it into this first pour too.

Sweet & spicy aroma, a little funk to it.  Typical Belgian yeast.

Definitely some trub in there... but otherwise the taste is pretty solid. Kinda like a spicy strong Belgian version of a milder brown ale like Sweetwater Georgia Brown or NOLA Brown. I like it surprisingly despite the rough sediment, even though I have a feeling this one was past its shelf-life.

To finish off the bottle I filtered it to see about getting the sediment out... sometimes a little sediment is a good thing but this one had huge chunks floating around.  Not cool.  Still pretty tasty but that extra step means I'd be pretty hesitant to buy this one again.  

Taste: B
Value: C ($9.99 for the bomber)

Some random BS thoughts... I loved the call to go for it for New England Sunday night, it gave them the best statistical chance to win.  Yet, most of the experts seem to think it was one of the worst calls ever.  I don't get it, the stats say that if they are in that spot again they should go for it again.  Sometime it doesn't work, but hey, to relate it to poker, if you're always going in the best odds of winning you should win more often than not.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Review: Fantôme Spéciale De Noel

File this one under:

Picked up from Marcello's on Perkins... poured into a Chimay goblet from the large 750ml bottle.  Had to break out the wine opener for this one as you can see... most corked beer has more of a champagne style cork to it that can be pulled out easy but this one was a wine-style cork. 

As you can see... it poured a hazy dark orange color with an average sized creamy off-white head.  Looks good for sure.

A very floral aroma to this one... like sucking in through a wreath of roses. Nothing telling as far as hops or malt goes, but a typical Belgian style to it. 

The taste is different at first. Bitter and biting at first... a little bit of floral tastes at the end. Not exceptionally convincing either way. I'm just not feeling this one on the sips like I expected... disappointed would be the right word.

It's not BAD by any means... just not really a standout beer.  I'd had their Fantôme Hiver before and it was a real standout... look for that one over this one.

Taste: B
Value: C+ ($13.99 for the 750 ml.)

And some random thoughts... hooray for Veteran's Day!  Nothing like a random day off from work in the middle of the week.  The new Kent album came out... been listening for a few days now and it's fantastic.  If you can get over the Swedish lyrics, give it a listen. 

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Review: Koningshoeven Quadrupel Trappist Ale

File this one under:

I picked up a 4-pack of these from Macello's on that beer run a week or so back... I've had it before and enjoyed it so it was time for another round.  I poured the beer from an 11.2 oz. bottle into a Chimay goblet, any Belgian style goblet/tulip glass will work for Belgian ales.  It has a ruby red color to it with a thin off-white head that leaves some creamy residue on the surface of the beer.

The smell is just what you want in a Belgian quad... floral hops, spice, coriander, some definite fruit smells like apple and berries. Very well blended together.

The taste bring all those smells together... nothing overpowers the other flavors, or the strong 10% abv. The fruit probably comes out the most, with the brewing spices blended in. Mild hop profile but still there in small amounts. Just delicious, one of my all-time favorites.

There is definite carbonation, and the beer is lighter than dark stout or something along those lines but it still has a great mouthfeel to it. Easy to swish around a bit to pull out all the flavors, no bad aftertaste at all.

If it wasn't at 10% abv, I could drink these all night long!  It might have earned a spot in my top 10, fantastic beer.

Taste: A+
Value: B  ($13.99 for a 4-pack)

And... three random thoughts: Peterson's interception yesterday would have been good in the NFL, no clue what that replay official was thinking... there was still no guarantee that we would drive the field and score to take the lead, but after the FG and all the extra time off the clock we were pretty much dead.  I also hate that  'running into the kicker' rule... I can understand a defender should be able to dive into a kicker's plant-leg or just crush him after the kick is off, but just running into his kicking foot... that was weak.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Review: Rogue XS Imperial Stout

File this one under:

I picked this one up at Marcello's a few weeks back along with most of the others I've reviewed lately.  I poured it from a ceramic (okay, probably just frosted glass) 750ml bottle into an imperial pint glass.  (Remember, proper glassware isn't something to be overlooked!)  The color is a dark impenetrable brown, with a huge, creamy bubbly tan head. It didn't want to go anywhere either, hanging on to well over an inch for many minutes.  Like the St. Sebastiaan Dark Ale a few reviews ago, this one has a pop-top and a plunger seal.  At 750 ml, I think the plunger seal might come in useful on this one!

The aroma is what you've come to expect from an imperial stout. Roasted coffee and chocolate, but there is a bit of hops if you get a good whiff.  Very nice.  The taste is more of the same, but a bit rough around the edges. A good bit more bitter than I expected, it's tough to drink and a bit rough on the palate.

It's kinda thin for such a bitter taste... rough on the tongue. I'm just not impressed with this one much at all. Very disappointed.  And with a $15 price tag, I think this will be my last one of these guys on my tab.  Hey, good news though!  Because of that plunger-top, I still have about half left if any of you want to give this one a try!  For the style, I'll absolutely stick with the Raven's Eye I had last week.

Taste: B-
Value: D

Three fun facts/thoughts: So I nailed the Yankees in 6 (not all that hard) but I whiffed on the MVP and I called Hairston as the surprise hero and he was productive in a very limited role,  but there really was no surprise hero in this one.  Now we can see how much the Astros are going to screw up this off-season!  Wooohooo!  And in the meantime, I bet the rich get richer as the normal contenders load up on the free agents to be.  I know, another bold prediction, right?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Review: Guinness, An Old Favorite

File this one under:

Okay, so this won't really be much of a review... I'm sure you've all had a Guinness or two or two hundred in your lifetime. If not, you should. Guinness isn't a particularly bold beer, but it's a classic. It's considered an Irish Dry Stout and that's spot on... dark, creamy, chocolaty, but definitely dry. It might be hard to comprehend how a liquid could really be 'dry' but as far as the flavor goes, it fits.

Anyway, while watching the Saints kick some ass on Monday Night Football and seeing the Phillies force a game 6 (they obviously knew I called Yankees in 6, not 5) I met up with Brent and Nunee at Ivar's, one of my favorite local watering holes. Sure, that's in large part because it's about 11 feet from my back door, but it also helps that they have decent bar food, they don't allow smoking, and of course, they have Guinness on tap.

Guinness has been one of my favorites ever since I really got into beer, and even more so after a few trips to Ireland. Everyone says it tastes better over there, and I tend to agree. Not sure if it's the ambience of a nice Irish pub, the quality control, the relative freshness, or a combination of it all, but it really does just taste a little better.

But if you can't make it to Ireland, no worries, just order up a pint the next time you can get some Guinness on tap, and raise your glass to Arthur!

Taste: B
Value: B

Three fun facts: Guinness uses nitrogen to give it the famous bubbly effect upon pouring; Guinness has relatively few calories compared to most darker beers; and apparently Guinness signed a 9,000 year lease for the St. James Gate Brewery for only 45 pounds per year.  (That's about $137 in real money.)

Monday, November 2, 2009

Review: Fuller's London Pride

File this one under:

Picked up a 6-pack of these guys at Marcello's the other day, at $10.99 total.  Poured it into a pint glass (from Happy's it seems!); amber color with red tones to it... not much head, but what is there is white with little lacing.

The smell is a fantastic combo of sweet & bitter. Malt & hops... loving it. Just what you expect out of a well balanced pale ale.

First sip brings upon natural flavors... barley, hay, grains all come to mind. A slight bit of the hops on the aftertaste... very nice, well balanced like the aroma.

Superbly crisp and refreshing... if I lived in England and had a lawn, I'd drink this after yardwork every day.  Certainly several notches above the typical domestic lagers and ales, and a beer I wouldn't hesitate to buy and drink again.

Taste: B
Value: A-  (Less than $2 each isn't bad for an above-average import.)

And... three random thoughts... I'm happy for A-Rod finally doing well in the post-season, not sure why but I've always liked him; Saints are going for 7-0 shortly... what a season so far and I think they had an outside shot at a 16-0 season!; about to head to Ivar's to watch both games... one of my favorite little bars in BR.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Review: Raven's Eye Imperial Stout

File this one under:

My first beer from Eel River, an organic brewery out of Fortuna, California.  The beer goes for $5.99 a bottle at Marcello's on Perkins... let's see how this goes.

Poured from a 16.9 oz. bottle into an imperial pint glass... beautiful chocolate body with a creamy beige head... even overflowed a little as you can see. Hopefully the beer gods will forgive me for that!

The smell is a little muted, the malt and chocolate is there like you'd expect just not as strong as I'd like to smell. A little bit of raisin in there as well. 

Not so muted on the palate. Chocolaty malt is what you get, followed by a tinge of bitter hops on the back of the tongue. I like it.

Feels great going down, the 9.5% abv is very well balanced with the flavors. 

In my opinion, a very well done imperial stout.

Taste: A-
Value: B

Three random college football thoughts... Iowa has to eventually run out of luck, right?  I was thrilled to see USC go down, if LSU does manage to win out that's one less team that they need to worry about jumping over.  It sucks that LSU got Florida after their bye week and now Alabama after their bye week... bad timing there.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Review: St. Sebastiaan Dark Ale

File this one under:

Picked up a bottle of this one at Marcello's the other day, I had had their Grand Reserve ale before and enjoyed it, so I figured I'd try another one.  St. Sebastiaan is out of Belgium, from a brewery that brews and markets under several brand names.  This one is considered to be a dubbel in style, which is typically one of my favorite styles of beer.

I like the packaging a lot, ceramic bottle with both a bottlecap and a rubber snap-plunger for saving some.  Problem is that it's only a pint bottle, not much to save here.  It would be far more useful on a liter bottle or 750ml bottle even.  Oh well, it's still a cool concept.

I poured the beer into a Chimay goblet, as should be done with any Belgian ale.  Not necessarily a Chimay goblet, but any sort of good beer goblet.  Glassware is pretty important for proper flavor, so when in doubt check out beeradvocate or another site for proper glassware recommendations.  Dark brown body with a large creamy head as can be seen above!  Certainly looks inviting.

Very fruity alcoholic aroma, hints of berries and a subtle bit of spice. Raisins come to mind.

The taste is more of the same, nothing too varied from what I smelled... very clean aftertaste. I'm betting this one gets even better as it warms up even more... just not too warm.  Belgian beers like this one are meant to be drank around 45 degrees or so.  Very little bitterness at any point in each sip.

A solid Belgian ale, but leaves a little to be desired.  At $7.49 for a pint, I can't see going back for more of these anytime soon.  While good, there are better beers to be had for the money.

Taste: B+
Value: C-
Avail.: B+ (I think the bigger beer retailers in our area will carry this one.)

Three random baseball thoughts... the people arguing like crazy for instant replay need to consider the consequences of reviewing a play where action continues afterwards.  Like the line drive to Howard last night... replays showed he missed it despite the out call on the field.  What happens if the correct call is made on replay there?  Everyone is safe?  Obviously had the correct call been made on the field right away Howard would have thrown to second immediately trying to turn two instead of taking a few steps towards first.  Or perhaps he continues on to first and gets the force there.  You can't just assume that the rest of the play would continue identically to how it did, and that's the problem with instant replay on a call involving a live ball.  I predicted Hairston Jr. as a surprise hero a few entries ago, and he got a start last night, getting the hit that led to a key insurance run for the Yankees.  It appears my favorite team, the Astros, have hired Mills as their new manager.  I don't know too much about him, but I hope the front office has the patience to give him a chance to succeed in the long run rather than run him out when he inevitably fails in the short-term with an aging team and depleted farm system.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Review: Stone Ales at The Chimes!

File this one under:

I went by The Chimes (check out a food review here...) last Friday with a couple of friends, and had both of the Stone beers offered up, the Levitation Ale and the Arrogant Bastard Ale.  Both were superb so I made it a point to have another one of each (okay, two more of the Arrogant Bastard) when I ended up back at The Chimes last night after another Pirates kickball victory. 

I started off with another of the Levitation Ale, a weaker beer at 4.4% abv but still strong on taste.  It came out in an imperial pint about to overflow (bonus points for the strong pour) with a dark copper color and a small white head.  Looks good, that's for sure.

There is a hint of malt and caramel but the aroma is dominated mostly by the hops.  For an amber ale it has a lot of hop pressence, but that's not a bad thing at all.  In fact, for a California brew, it's pretty much expected.  This one's real easy to drink, goes down smooth and the taste is a well balanced concoction of caramel, spices, hops, and a little fruit.  I wouldn't go for this one (or any Stone beer) if you don't like the hops, but if you do, give it a try!  And at only $4 for a pint, can't beat that deal.

After the Levitation Ale, I ordered up another Arrogant Bastard Ale.  I love the name, reminds me of more than one person I know for sure.  At 7.2% abv and considered a 'stong ale' this one is basically a Levitation Ale on steroids, and it probably Stone's best known brew.  The coloration is very similar, and the taste profile overlaps a good bit.  You're still going to find a lot of the malt and caramel nicely blended with hops.  The hops aren't quite as strong on the front of each sip as the Levitation, but it's still a hoppy beer compared to most down here.  And just like the Levitation, this one clocks in as a cheap pint, only $3.75.  (Okay, I might have the two mixed up... but one was $4 and the other was $3.75... so... close enough.)

Now I'm really looking forward to a few other Stone beers on tap or in bottles.  I know several of their other beers have made their way to South LA, so I guess it's time to do some hunting. Cheers guys!

Taste: A-/A
Value: A+/A+
Avail.: B/B  (Waiting to see if the bottles make it into our market, but I think the draft is here to stay.)

Three random thoughts... the opening of the NBA season is on right now, and it just amazes me how much I'd rather be watching the World Series; I made a beer run to Marcello's today and picked up a few that I'd never tried, reviews coming soon I'm sure; and Chuchill's in BR is having a scotch tasting tomorrow evening, can't wait!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Why Matt Stairs Is My Hero.

File this one under:

Sure, Jimmy Rollins might have been the real hero of last night's game 4 win for the Phillies, but after reading some of the post-game write-ups I think Matt Stairs just might be my new favorite baseball player.  My anti-Chipper Jones, so to speak.  

For those who missed it, Stairs came in with one out in the ninth inning, drew a four-pitch walk, and then was promptly lifted for a pinch runner.  The exact sort of at-bat that heros are made of, my friends.  Alright, who am I kidding... that's not why Stairs is my hero.  He's my new favorite player because of what he said after the game.  (Quotes below taken from Jayson Stark's article on

"As I was standing in that batter's box," he went on, "I had one thing in mind -- and that was going for that Budweiser sign (which hangs from the facing of the second deck in right field). But then again, that doesn't change -- against anybody."  
Come on people, who doesn't love a guy who goes to the plate with one goal in mind... hit the Budweiser sign?  I'm not sure if this would be better if he's aiming for the Budweiser sign because the man can throw down some Steveweisers like it's hit job, or if he's aiming for the sign because he hates InBev and all that the beer conglomerate stands for, or maybe he's just aiming for that specific sign because it happens to be deep in rightfield and Stairs is a dead-pull lefty.  It doesn't really matter, because either way when the game is on the line and he digs into the batters box, Matt Stairs is thinking about beer.  Amen, Mr. Stairs. 

But he's not done. 
"I'm just glad he didn't throw me a 3-and-0 fastball [over the plate]," Stairs said, chuckling to himself, "because I was gonna swing as hard as I can and see what happens. I've never turned down a fastball, and I never will. I'll be swinging at fastballs till I'm 50. They might be slow-pitch fastballs, but I'll be swinging at them."
You have to admire a guy who knows what he wants.  And Stairs wants fastballs.  Lots and lots of fastballs.  And the best part about this quote is that I can see someone like Matt Stairs playing in a BREC slow-pitch softball league in his 50s crushing slow-pitch fastballs 187' over the right-field fence, then skipping the home-run trot (they don't want you to waste time running the bases) and heading straight to the dugout to shotgun a few Buds.  That's right Matt Stairs, in slow-pitch softball, drinking in the dugout is more or less a part of the game.  If that doesn't get you excited for your inevitable retirement from MLB, I don't know what will.  Just for the love of Jesus man, try not to hit any screaming liners up the middle.

And as if all that wasn't enough to convince you that Matt Stairs is the coolest man in baseball, check out this t-shirt!  I want one, put it on my Christmas list.

 Three other fun facts from last night's games: that was only the third time in MLB post-season history that a team had a walk-off extra-base hit to come from behind while down to their last out (while playing in an open-air stadium, against a right-handed pitcher, blah blah blah...); the pitch Rollins hit for the walk-off double was the fastest pitch he'd seen all season; if Rollins had just stopped at first (because really, with two outs, he didn't matter at all at that point) then fun fact #1 would be irrelevant.