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.