November 20, 2008

Random Notes from Arizona

The lovely wife and I just got back from a work/vacation trip to AZ. For the work portion we stayed at the JW Marriott Starr Pass. I was shocked to see so many craft beers on tap. Every restaurant we ate at in the resort (I think we ate at all of them) had some type of craft brew on tap. Lots of New Belgium beers (Fat Tire, 1554, and at least one other), Alaskan Amber, a Four Peaks (I think), and Nimbus Pale Ale served at all of our social functions (in bottles). I didn't really have a chance to take notes on anything (too busy), but I rememember liking the Sierra Nevada slightly better than the Nimbus (I had them back to back), but I drank more Nimubs, just to support a local brewer. Really the only glitch was one night at dinner (after just ordering a bottle of wine for the table, so I was locked into wine for a bit), I found out that the resturant had an IPA on tap (the server didn't know there was more than one type of IPA). After repeately (gently) inquiring about the IPA the server reported back that it wasn't an IPA, but an unmarked keg that no one knew what it was. He brought a sample of it and it was pretty good - definetly not an IPA - maybe an amber, but more brown ale flavor than most ambers. It was an interesting experience and a great resort for craft beer.

After the work portion of the trip was finished we went to spend a couple of days in Phoenix. I was able to try Oskar Blues Gordon - what a great beer! I only had a couple of them, but I really enjoyed them (maybe more so just because we can't get it here?). Again, didn't really take any notes on it, but really enjoyed it. The next night I had a bomber of Alesmith IPA - it was pretty good, but not as good as some of the IPAs I've had recently.

I've noticed that I've got quite a few IPAs in the fridge, and I'm thinking about having a blind tasting/sampling event with a small group of my friends. Any suggestions on a format - I'm thinking we'll maybe try 8-10 IPAs and blind rank them from best to worst. I am a bit concerned about how much we'll need to drink to really get a good taste, and how much of some of the random beers I have (or don't have, as the case may be).

Also, anyone know the law regrading having beer shipped in from another state or how shipping works when visiting another state? I was tempted to try to put some beer in my luggage, but didn't want all my stuff getting ruined if there were an accident, and I thougth about trying to carry some on the plane, but wasn't sure how that would work with a briefcase and laptop. Any suggestions on how to bring beer back home when visiting another state, but not driving?


ps - to Hoosier Beer Geek - I really like the green shirt!

Southern Tier - Imperial Cherry Saison

What: Southern Tier Imperial Cherry Saison
Style: Saison
Vessel: Tulip Glass
Price: Don't remember
Where: Home
When: November 20, 2008
Rating: 4
Comments: This is another purchase from Chi-town. Not sure what made me pick this one up, other than not being able to get it around here (I think). It's not a bad beer, but not a great beer. As it warms, it improves (quite a bit). It has a traditional saison flavor (earthy, fruity), but it's also has quite a touch of alcohol in the finish. I'm not a huge fruit or saison fan, so I'm not really sure why I picked it up, but if you like either type of beer you're probably going to like this one.
Ratebeer Link:

November 4, 2008

Random Notes

Before Sunday's Colt's game, a good friend (and the guy I get season tix with) and I tailgated. We took the opportunity to drink some fresh hop beers and one stood about above the rest - Three Floyd's Broodoo. Man that was a great beer! More to come on that, and the other beers we sampled.

Also, I ran to Kahn's (or is Big City Liquors - the store on 52nd and Keystone) on Friday to pick up some wine that I couldn't find most other places and while I was there I decided to check out their beer selection. Despite a pledge not to purchase any more beer until we're in our new home (our coat closet is full of boxes, full of beer, that I need/want to drink), I decided to buy some fresh hop beer. As I was wandering the aisle, Andy (I think that was his name), the beer manager and I struck up a conversation. What a great experience - he gave me a lot of very good guidance, we talked quite a bit about the beers we like and he even cracked open a Founder's for a sample. I would say their prices are average, but the helpful attitude, selection and overall experience were tremendous! One thing I didn't realize - to buy a sixer of Bud, or other macro (in bottles) is about $6 now! That's amazing - makes me feel a little better about spending $8-$11 for a sixer of craft beer (a little, but not a lot).

Haven't had a chance to go back to Pikk's recently, but I'd be interested to hear anyone's experience with it. A bunch of buddies and I went to Scotty's Brewhouse the same night they were having their Octobrew fest - it was interesting - a big tent in the parking lot, with a $5 entry fee. We didn't choose to go to the tent party (why pay $5 to get basically the same beer as they had inside the resturant)? It didn't appear to be a rousing success for them - I'd be intersted to see if they hold it again next year. If so, I think they need to tweak their approach.

One last note - the folks from Newcastle's PR agency were kind enough to send a sixer of Newcastle (thanks!), and some promo notes about their holiday MAN-ual. The MAN-ual pages I got were interesting. One was a recipie for a beer-nog shooter - Newcastle and egg nog in a shot glass (a kind of black and tan idea - Newcastle on the bottom, egg nog on the top). Can't say that I'll be trying that one out, but I will enjoy the beer - Newcastle is one of my defaults at restruants that don't have much of a craft beer selection. Evidently the recipies from the MAN-ual come from TV personality "Sam the cooking guy". Interesting idea with average execution - if they keep this tradition going and build on it, I think they might have a winner (think of the point of sale displays they could have - a LOT of potential there).

Avery Anniversary Ale 14

What: Avery Brewing Company - 14th Anniversary Ale
Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale
Vessel: Tulip Glass
Price: $4.99 (22 oz)
Where: Home
When: November 4, 2008
Rating: 3
Comments: Wow! This beer has a ton of stuff going on! A lot of malt and a lot of tart fruit (not a tart apple, but maybe cherry?). It's a little boozy (although as it warms, it surprisingly is less apparent), but not too bad. This is super carbonated also - when I first poured it, there was a huge foam head, but it quickly disappeared. Also, this is a dark beer - darker than I expected - stout like dark. This is my first Avery beer and I'm glad I bought some others. It's a departure from the IPA, hop bomb stuff I normally drink, but I like it (especially for the price).
Ratebeer Link: yeah - you probably know about the problems at ratebeer - they're struggling a bit right now.

October 21, 2008

Jolly Pumkin Artisan Ales - ES Bam Hoppy Farmhouse Ale

What: Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales - ES Bam Hoppy Farmhouse Ale
Style: Saison
Vessel: Tulip Glass
Price: $9.99 (750 ml)
Where: Home
When: October 21, 2008
Rating: 4
Comments: Yet another pick up in Chi-town. I poured this beer a little aggressively and man did it foam up. There is a lot of head to this beer and a lot of lacing on the glass. It's a very aromatic beer - musty, a little funky and yeasty. The flavor seems to start very leathery and then ends with quite a bit of sour apple. It is a little thin tasting. I'm finding that I'm not the biggest fan of Saison style beers. It's a well crafted beer, but not one of my favorites. Having said that, I'd happily try other Jolly Pumpkin beers.
Ratebeer Link:

October 20, 2008

Southern Tier Brewing Company - Tripel

What: Southern Tier Brewing Company - Tripel
Style: Tripel
Vessel: Tulip Glass
Price: $6.99 (22 0z.)
Where: Home
When: October 20, 2008
Rating: 4
Comments: Another beer picked up on the Chicago trip. For a 9% beer, this was amazingly alcohol free in the taste department. It has a strong malt flavor at the beginning, smoothed out by a little crispy hoppiness at the end. Not a bad beer, but not anywhere near my favorite tripel. Seems like a pretty basic beer.
Ratebeer Link:

October 19, 2008

Bear Republic Brewing Co. - XP Pale Ale

What: Bear Republic Brewing Co. - XP Pale Ale
Style: American Pale Ale
Vessel: Pint Glass
Price: $6.99 (22 oz bottle)
Where: Home
When: October 19, 2008
Rating: 2
Comments: This is a great beer! I picked this up in Chicago and decided to crack one open while watching the Colts game (disappointing loss). What a smooth carmel-y beer. A great carmel flavor with just enough hop to make it a little bitter (and tasty). When I first pulled it out of the fridge I thought it was a bit over carbonated, but I let it sit for a bit and it really opened up and the carbonation dissipated. There was a bit of sedimet in the bottom of my glass when I had finished it, but it wasn't enough to deter me. Other than the Colts loss, this was a great drinking experience!
Ratebeer Link:

October 15, 2008

Pikk's Tavern & Hot Shotz Update

Well, I've been to Pikk's about four times since they've opened and I'm a big fan. The first several times they didn't have their taps installed and they were running two taps out of a cooler set up. We went back with some friends and sat in the dining room (not at the bar for the first time) last Friday and they had their full tap list available (word of warning - their tap list on their website wasn't current as of mid week last week).

The chef came out and chatted with us once while we were sitting at the bar and I was very impressed. He hails from a steakhouse background but wanted to do more creative cooking. In this all from scratch kitchen he gets that opportunity. I'd say the menu is a bit random (seems like they're trying to please everyone by offering a little bit of everything), but I haven't had anything that I didn't like. The mufaletta sandwich was awesome and the pork chops were the best I've had in Indy. That, along with a killer beer selection, will make Pikk's a top destination for me. They also have great specials during the week. I don't remember all of them, but I know on Monday they have $1 canned beers (nothing exotic - PBR, Old Style and one other I can't remember - Schlitz, maybe?) and $0.50 mini-burgers (which are awesome). I'd say if you're in the area you should check it out.

On the other hand I went into Hot Shotz last night to check out the new scene. If you're looking for a beer mecca, I'm not sure this is it. The tap list was good, but the bartender was clueless about beer. I was happy to see they had quite a few people in the place (and a lot of employees working to get up to speed). I don't know that I'll be going to Hot Shotz very much - while the food was OK, they seem to have moved away from their gastropub offerings and are going with more standard bar fare. Not necessarily a bad thing, but they've lost some of the magic they had in their old space.

Anyone else been to either place? I'd love to hear your thoughts

Moylan's Brewing Company IPA

What: Moylan's Brewing Company IPA
Style: India Pale Ale
Vessel: Tulip Glass
Price: $3.99 (22 oz. bottle)
Where: Home
When: October 15, 2008
Rating: 3
Comments: On a recent trip to Chicago to cheer on a friend running his first marathon (way to go Joe!), we stopped by Sam's on our way out of town to pick up some beers I didn't think I could find in Indy. As a fan of IPA's, I grabbed quite a few bombers of different IPA's at different price points. This one was the cheapest. For a beer at this price point, it was really good. If it were readily available in Indy, I'd add it to the rotation (although it doesn't seem like I have a regular rotation).

I was drawn to this beer because it was an IPA, and because of the awards it's won. It's won various medals in the CA state fair and several WBC medals. It's a good IPA, but not with overwhelming citrus hop flavor - it's more pine-y than citrus-y. It's crisp and smooth with a fairly strong hop finish. If you can get your hands on some, I'd give it a whirl.

Ratebeer Link:

September 28, 2008

What: Three Floyd's Brewing Co. - Gorch Fock German Style Helles Lager
Style: Munich Helles Lager
Vessel: Tulip Glass
Price: $10.00 (22 oz) - purchased at Goose the Market
Where: Home
When: September 28, 2008
Rating: 3
Comments: This was my first adventure with a Three Floyds beer that wasn't a hop bomb. It might have even been my first experience with a Munich Hellles Lager (I don't remember having any others). Overall the beer was pretty good. It's nice to see Three Floyds can craft such a subtle beer. It had a smooth mouthfeel - almost a little buttery (in a good way). It had a touch of citrus to it and it was a little grassy with a bit of malt mixed in for good measure. It wasn't what I expected out of Three Floyds, but I'd drink it again.
Ratebeer Link:

September 16, 2008

Quick Beer Notes - Recent Tastings

Well, I haven't been as diligent on posting as I hoped to be after Labor Day, but once we get our whole housing situation figured out I hope to be better. Anyway, onto the beer "reviews":

Miller Lite Brewer's Collection Blond Ale - 5 rating.

I was lucky enough to have some of this sent to me from the kind folks at Miller's PR firm (interestingly enough the guy who sent them married a girl who went to the same HS in Indy that I went to). I wanted to like it, I really did. Unfortunately, I didn't really care for it. It tasted a bit flat and it left a slimy mouth feel. It wouldn't have been too bad except for the whole slimy mouth thing.

Bell's Third Coast Old Ale - 3 rating.

I had this one left from our trip to the Bell's Brewery this summer. Just like most of the beers I ended up bringing home from the brewery it was very solid. Nothing too amazing, but just a rock solid beer.

Sierra Nevada Wheat Beer - 4 rating.

I saw this at Trader Joe's (available as a single bottle), and decided to give it a whirl. It was OK, but not remarkable. I thought it was a little watery and lagery. I normally don't mind wheat beers, but for some reason this one didn't really do it for me.

Brewbits Red - 6 rating.

This is an OLD homebrew I had in the fridge (I'm still working through my old homebrews). I haven't had one of my homebrews in a long time. Now I remember why I quit brewing - not very good beer. It had no head or carbonation to it, it was VERY dark, and very watery. It was a little better than I remember it being, but with all the great stuff out there why drink bad beer?

Clipper City Brewery Heavy Seas Red Sky at Night Saison Ale - 2 rating.

This came courtsey of the Beer of the Month club. I've been holding off drinking any of the BOM club beers until I could do a "proper" review. I couldn't hold off any longer. This is a good beer. A really good beer.

I didn't really look too much at the label until after I poured the beer. I was expecting a red (yeah, I should have read the label), but it's a Saison. Have I mentioned that I liked this beer? It's extremley smooth. It tastes a bit more like a traditional Belgian beer with flavors like banana, a little clove, citrus flavor, wheat, yeast, etc. It's very good. I hope this is an indicator of the other Clipper City beers that came in the BOM box.

HotShotz and Scotty's Update

Well, hat tip to Generik , it looks like I was wrong about HotShotz. They're not done - they're just done at their old location. I drove by the old Bennigan's site at 1-69 and 96th (very close to Fry's), and sure enough there was a now hiring sign out front, HotShotz logo'ed notes on the door and workers inside. Not sure what an open date will be, but it looks like they're trying to make a go of it in a new location. They'll need to wrap some serious PR around that location. The good thing is that there are a few hotels right in the area that will feed them some business and if they do some lunch specials there are quite a few businesses that can help drive their daytime revenue.

Also, I was at Scotty's this weekend and my memory wasn't quite correct (see previous post). No Rogue beers on tap (hopeful thinking on my part). They did have Magic Hat #9 (mmm...good stuff), Three Floyds Alpha King (tap was dry, and had been for a few days....that means they're selling more than anticipated, hopefully. That also means they'll be willing to try more unique beers that you can't find elsewhere). They had a few other new ones, including Abita Turbodog and Shiner Bock. Good food and an increasingly good selection of craft beer? Count me in!

September 11, 2008

Is it offically over for HotShotz?

Well, it looks like it might be over for HotShotz. Earlier this week I was hopeful - there as a box truck on site and it looked like work was being done. Well, I think work is being done, but not by the owners. Coming home from work the sign was no longer up and my wife reported that there were crews inside cleaning out the inside.

Can anyone provide additional details?

Also, on a different note - while at Scotty's Brewhouse last week the server told us they were going to be getting quite a few new beers on tap. If I remember correctly they're adding some Rouge beers, some Three Floyd's and a few others that I can't think of right now. I'm looking forward to the expanded selection (especially considering the fact that I've lost hope for HotShotz).

Went to Brugge last night and it was surprisingly easy to get a table. Enjoyed a sample of the Brown (good, but potent - 11+%), had a pint of the German beer (for some reason the name escapes's been a long week, I must be tired), and a pint of the Triple (always a favorite of mine).

One last note - drove past the Granite City build site at 96th and Meridian this evening. Looks like they're making good progress (frame is up and wrapped), and they've added a banner out front letting folks know they're coming soon.

August 26, 2008

Brass Monkey Brewpub

We had a chance to stop by the Brass Monkey Brewpub on our way up for a long lake weekend. I wasn't quite sure what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised. What might have surprised me the most was the size of the samplers - wow - about 6 oz. for each glass - I don't remember exactly how much it was, but I'm thinking $9-$10. Here's a pic of the sampler I enjoyed on their alley porch:Here's a photo of each side of their beer descriptions:

Here's a picture of their (impressive) tap board and their taps (most of them made it into the pic):

I decided to sample only the Brass Monkey beers because I knew I couldn't get them in Indy. Overall they were more polished than I expected - I enjoyed them quite a bit.

Here are my notes:

White Flag Wit - 3 rating - Fruity, clovey (or maybe a little rubbery?) and appley. It was very smooth with thick mouth feel. I really enjoyed it except for small off flavor I couldn't identify, but by no means was it not worth trying.

Green Tea Pale Ale - 3 rating - Hmmm...tastes like green tea. Interesting. I don't have strong feelings one way or another about green tea, but I do like a good pale ale. This fits in the good pale ale category. It's a good change of pace.

Tenacious Apple Triple - 2 rating - This was my favorite beer of the outing. I had the lowest expectations for this one (just due to my personal tastes), but this was a good beer. Extremley smooth, especially for a beer with 10% abv. I would have had another one of these if we didn't have an hour and a half drive ahead of us.

Speak No Evil Belgian IPA- 3 rating - Solid. Nothing remarkable, but a very well done IPA.

See No Evil IPA- 4 rating - I think it's a matter of personal preference and not brewing ability. This beer was well done, but I don't think I enjoy dry hopped beers.

I tried to sample the Silver Back, but they were out of it when we happened to stop by.

As far as the food is concerned, I tried their tenderloin and it was definetly home made (and good). The food was cheap (we ordered two sandwiches, an order of sweet potato fries, regular fries, an iced tea and a beer sampler and got out of there for under $30), and the service was attentive (and helpful). I was a little leery about our server's knowledge (when I asked about their beers she told me the Wit was kinda like a Coors Light - I don't think the brewer would have appreciated that), but she ended up steering me in the right direction on which beers to include in the sampler. She also was very interested in how we like everything, but not in an annoying way.

One interesting note from the wife - how in the world does a place that brews their own beer not brew their own iced tea (the wife will only drink brewed iced tea - she's doesn't drink beer, but she knows good (and bad) tea when she sees it).

If you're in Kokomo, or passing through Kokomo, it's definetly worth a stop. I know we'll probably make it a must stop every trip to (or from) the lake.