Thursday, April 18, 2013

Beer Review: Birra Etrusca Bronze

Dogfish Head has a long running Ancient Ale series. Sam digs up some ancient beer recipe from Egypt or Scandinavia or South America, visits the country or region to get a feel of it's history, native ingredients and culture and works with scientists and historians to try and best recreate what our ancient ancestors imbibed in their day. For me this is one of the coolest things going in the beer industry today, even if many dismiss it as a novelty. This is, at least at this point, by far the closest we will come to actually physically sharing a piece of history from thousands of years ago. Birra Etrusca Bronze is the resurrection of a recipe from Italy circa 800 BC! That's right, 1200 years old; how can this not make you excited to try it?

Dogfish Head Birra Etrusca Bronze - 8.5% ABV
Traditional Ale/Herbed/Spiced Beer
Limited Release
750 mL Dogfish Head Bomber poured into a tulip
Bottled 01/12

Appearance - Clear copper, almost honey-like color with a quickly diminishing nearly white head.

Aroma - Smells very sweet -- fruit, honey and almost a bit like candy hearts. Smells like Belgian yeast.

Taste - Similar base flavors to a Belgian style ale. Very sweet and mellow, lots of fruit flavors and LOTS of honey. Pomegranate, apples, lemon and honey. Really tasty.

Mouthfeel - Slightly thinner body and good carbonation. A slight dryness and effervescence similar to champagne.

Overall - I actually really like this. It's very different but really tasty. I'd definitely buy this again. If this is what they were drinking in Italy in 800 BC, they were some excellent brewers and a lucky group of consumers.
Overall 4/5 Style 4/5

Drink On,


Monday, April 8, 2013

Beer Review: '72 Imperial

Colorado is quickly becoming California's biggest competition for best beer state in the western US. Obviously Cali has size on its side, but Colorado is turning out some world class beer from a growing number of breweries. One of these breweries is Breckenridge Brewery. Some of their stuff is just ok but some is pretty great and this one came in a super cool painted bottle with a pretty cool name too.

Breckenridge '72 Imperial Chocolate Cream Stout - 7.2% ABV
Milk/Sweet Stout
Rotating Availability
12 oz bottle poured into a pub glass
Bottled 2013

Appearance - Black with a thick, creamy, beige head. Good retention, good lacing.

Aroma - Lots of coffee, chocolate and a bit of cola.

Taste - Chocolate, coffee and a bit of vanilla.

Mouthfeel - Super creamy, thick and rich, velvety, average carbonation.

Overall - This was a very pleasant surprise. I went in with zero expectations and came away very impressed. This was like a dessert in a bottle, absolutely decadent. Can't wait to have it again.
Overall 4/5 Style 4/5

Drink On,


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Beer Review: Thrones!

It's finally back. After an uncomfortable long break, the hit HBO series "Game of Thrones" has returned for a third season. As if this wasn't great enough, HBO has come together with Brewery Ommegang to create a series of Game of Thrones inspired beers. The first of these beers, Iron Throne, was released a couple of weeks ago. Plenty of time to secure some for the season premiere.

Brewery Ommegang Iron Throne - 6.5% ABV
Belgian Ale
Special Release
750 mL bomber poured into a trappist glass
Bottled 02/15/13

Appearance - Pours a cloudy, dull yellow with a big, thick, fluffy white head. Very slowly dissipates to a tiny white film; just a bit of lacing.

Aroma - As expected, traditional Belgian characteristics -- spices and fruit.

Flavor - Starts out very predictable -- light, refreshing, spicey -- but then a strong lemon flavor comes in on the backend that is really excellent. This was a nice surprise and a wonderful compliment to the standard Belgian flavor profile.

Mouthfeel - Pretty full bodied, a bit unexpectedly so, lots of carbonation and pretty dry.

Overall - I'm normally not a big fan of the style; they remind me too much of Belgian tripels, of which I'm also not a big fan, but this one was a very pleasant surprise. An excellent companion for the series opener.

Drink On,


Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Unfortunate Update

Looks like I kind of jumped the gun with the whole Tröegs Triple Mango IPA news. Most of what I posted was true but I was blinded by excitement as it appears it may not be a regular or seasonal offering, just a second run of the fantastic brew. The verbiage was slightly ambiguous, but after reading it again it sounds like it will just be making a second appearance as a Scratch Series release. Hopefully it's at least a much bigger batch and I can grab a case or two of it.

On a more positive note, Tröegs is bringing back one of their most coveted beer series, Splinter. The Splinter Series is a top secret barrel aging program that has yielded some of the most sought after beers on the market. Splinter Gold, a Belgian tripel aged in white wine barrels with brettanomyces, undergoes a two year aging process to change this from a tripel to an American wild ale. Having never had any of the Splinter Series beers, I am anxiously awaiting Splinter Gold's release which should be sometime in the next few months. I'll post all the details here as soon as I learn them.

Drink On,


Thursday, March 28, 2013

Beer Review: My Bloody Valentine

New school ambers and reds are some of the most overlooked beers on the market. They generally show great balance and explosive flavor. This one, from San Diego's AleSmith Brewing, is all of that and a bit This is a beer for the broken hearted and lonely, those who have no one to spend Valentine's Day with and would rather drown themselves in a drink. The bottle art is pretty cool -- broken hearts, a quasi-realistic heart with cupid's arrow sticking through it while it is spurting blood and a really morbid looking "My Bloody Valentine" logo. Oh, and the ABV is 6.66%. If nothing else, for me, this one was worth it just for the novelty of it.

AleSmith My Bloody Valentine - 6.66% ABV
American Amber/Red Ale
Winter Seasonal
22oz bomber poured into a pub glass
Bottle date unknown

Appearance - Pours a deep garnet red with a thick, tan colored head with a hint of red in it. It's actually striking how red this is. Retention is nice, fades slowly into a soapy puddle. Excellent lacing.

Aroma - Smells very hoppy from the instant the bottle is opened. Aroma is great, bursting with citrus -- oranges and grapefruit -- pine, some grass and a bit of caramel.

Taste - Excellent flavor -- pine, candied oranges, slight grapefruit and a solid malt backbone.

Mouthfeel - Medium body, well carbonated and a bit sticky.

Overall - This is definitely one of my favorite styles and is becoming more and more prevalent. This one didn't disappoint. Excellent balance and a boatload of flavor; made even better by how cool and fun they made it. This was my first time having this one but certainly will not be my last.
Overall 4/5 Style 5/5

Drink On,


Monday, March 25, 2013

Beer Review: Do Dragons Actually Produce Milk?

Surprise, surprise -- another highly regarded brewery from Michigan. The amount of good beer pouring out of this state is staggering, and as such, hard to keep up with! New Holland Brewing, from Holland, Michigan, is one of those brewers that I haven't been able to experience yet. So on a cold March evening while building a pick-a-six, a bourbon barrel stout sounded just right -- what a perfect opportunity to give these guys a shot.

New Holland Dragons Milk - 10% ABV
Imperial Stout
Winter Seasonal
Bourbon Barrel Aged
12 oz bottle poured into a goblet
Bottled 01/08/13

Appearance - Extremely dark brown, not quite black, with a thick, creamy tan head. Nice retention and lacing throughout.

Aroma - All bourbon and chocolate, so nice.

Taste - Flavor is excellent; super rich, chocolate, bourbon, some sugary cola, vanilla, a bit of oak and some booze.

Mouthfeel - Thick and creamy, good carbonation and slightly warming.

Overall - This is one tasty brew. Super creamy and the flavors of the bourbon and the stout really play off of each other nicely, better than a lot of other bourbon barrel aged stouts I've had. This is a great one, I'm already looking forward to next winter so I can have more.
Overall 4/5 Style 4/5

Drink On,


Sunday, March 24, 2013

Is Troegs Finally Answering My Prayers?

Troegs brewery exclusive "Scratch Series" of one-off beers has become an instant hit among beer drinkers. Different from a lot of other brewery exclusive lines, Troegs actually bottles these brews and has them available for purchase in their general store. Every so often one makes its way into normal rotation, ie Flying Mouflan and Perpetual IPA. Recently the brewer put it to its fans to choose the next Scratch Series beer to become a regular and so far it's sounding like good news for me. From their Facebook page:

 Voting for the “Scratch Redux” contest is now officially closed. While the clear winner of the Facebook poll was Scratch #58 – Triple Mango IPA, we also had a few ballot boxes set up throughout the brewery, so those votes will be tallied over the next few days. We will announce the winner in the near future. We’re keeping our fingers crossed for no hanging chads or General Store re-counts! Thanks to everyone who participated in our inaugural Scratch Beer election. Which beer will emerge as the winner?

Scratch #58, or Triple Mango IPA, absolutely blew my mind. This beer was absolutely incredible and I knew it could very quickly and easily become one of my favorites. Unfortunately for me, this was one Scratch Series beer that was not bottled. The recipe was the result of a homebrew contest in which the brewers picked their favorite to make as the newest Scratch Series beer. Unbeknownst to them, the incredible amount of hops and mango the recipe called for would create a tremendous amount of sludge therefore reducing the end volume of beer. Less beer = not bottling, not growler fills, only available on tap at the brewery.

I have been thinking of this beer ever since and even planning to homebrew a batch myself just to get another taste. Hopefully at some point in the next few months I'll be buying this one by the caseload. When an official announcement is made, I will definitely post an update.

Drink On,