Monday, December 30, 2013

2013 Best Beers Pt. 1

It has been far too long since I've written about beer. Part of it has to do with being bored with saying the same things about beers --- Some are good, some are bad. Some are heavy, some are light. Blah blah blah blaaaahhhh. But part of it also has to do with the fact that I'm drinking so much different beer that I can't keep up with what is unique and was is bland.

So I decided to take a different approach to this post and do what I do best --- make a list. Here you'll find (in no particular order...actually that's a lie, it'll be chronological order) the best "unique" beers I drank in 2013. By "unique" I mean beers that were new to me. So while there are great beers out there like Firestone Walker Parabola and Ballast Point Victory at Sea, those are beers I've had prior to 2013 and therefore ineligible for this list. Conversely, all of the beers I'm listing below will be ineligible for next year's list as well (unless there is a significant change to the taste and recipe of said beer).

So without further ado, here are Rob's Best Beers of 2013!

Three Floyds Brewing - Zombie Dust
Not much has to be said about ZD. It's a highly regarded IPA that doesn't come to California. But I got hold of a bottle and from the instant I opened it (before it even was poured into a glass), I was in love. The aroma alone permeated from the bottle and had me salivating. It's now one of those beers I permanently want.

Central Waters Brewing - Bourbon Barrel Barleywine (2012)
Here is a beer that nailed the bourbon aspect. Everything from aroma to taste to aftertaste meshed perfectly with this heavy (11.2% abv) brew to create the perfect sipping beer after a long rainy day. Having a year old version I think helped mellow out the alcohol bite and bring forth the bourbon characteristics (vanilla, toffee, wood). I have a 2013 in my fridge now that I'll be drinking soon.

Almanac Brewing - Barrel Noir
Similar to Central Waters BBBW, here was a beer that did a great job of balancing the barrel-aged aspect with a traditional stout. That's likely because the blend of styles (traditional stout & Belgian dark ale) worked well in keep this 10% abv beer surprisingly light.

Founders Brewing - Curmudgeon's Better Half (2012)
As I previously wrote in this post, I thought this beer was incredible. It's a shame that I only had the one bottle because it's something I'd like to try again despite it being a couple years old at this point.

Ballast Point Brewing - Even Keel
Not all of my favorite beers were double digit abv behemoths. This lil guy clocked in at only 3.5%, but man oh man did it pack a hop punch. Somehow, the guys at Ballast Point made was tastes like an IPA (or at the very least a dry hopped pale ale) and brought the alcohol down to something that you can drink all day long. I had this on draft in their homebrew mart and wish to god that it came in 12-pack cans for some good summertime drinking.

The Bruery - Imperial Loakal Red
Another beer I previously wrote about, this one stood out to me because The Bruery isn't know for making hop-forward beers. Yet, this impreial red ale had all the characteristics of a huge hop-bomb (aroma, taste, tongue-tingling after effects), while still maintaining a strong malty backbone. They really should re-release this one.

The Bruery - White Chocolate (2012)
From the same entry as Loakal Red, I was astonished with how great this beer smelled. And the taste was even better than the smell...which is saying a lot. It's important to note however that this was the 2012 blend. The 2013 (released later in the year) was horribly funky and off-tasting. So much so that The Bruery issued refunds and pulled it from it's shelves. I really hope they get this one right in 2014. I miss it dearly.

Ballast Point Brewing - Homework Series Batch 1
Much like Loakal Red, here was a literal attempt at making a hoppy red ale. What was equally as impressive as the beer was Ballast Point's choice to put the recipe for the beer on the back of the bottle. Having started as a homebrew supply store, they went back to their roots and created the Homework Series - a line of small-batch beers distributed locally and encouraging the drinker to replicate the beer on their own. Clever, tasty, and informative!

Goose Island Beer Co - Bourbon County Brand Stout (2012)
On a completely random day in early summer I found myself with a day off. I also happened to notice one of my favorite bars tapping this well-known, but hard to come by, imperial barrel-aged stout. With one half-pour (all the bar was offering), I immediately understood the hype behind it. The chocolate notes were only outdone by the bourbon booze. This beer had a kick, but not a burning one that you might associate with a 15% abv beer. Instead, it was smooth sipping and the desire for more. Thankfully, the 2013 vintage saw bottle release here in Los Angeles and I quickly snatched up some.

Revolution Brewing - Very Mad Cow
Earlier in the year, I had a bottle of Mad Cow. It was a good, somewhat forgettable milk stout. Nearly 8 months later, I had Very Mad Cow. It was great, and entirely unforgettable. The difference in aging their milk stout on Woodford Reserve barrels for 7 months created a whole new, layered beer. At 9.5% abv, it's not the strongest beer on this list. But it's one of the tastiest. The bourbon is perfectly blended into the milk creating an almost vanilla/chocolate milkshake concoction. This is another beer that I deeply wish I had more of.

There are the first 10 beers for 2013 that stood out to me. I have 10 more ready to go for the next post. Before that though...I need a beer.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Sunday Night TV Beers

This past month, two of my favorite series ended. Breaking Bad & Dexter. While one went out on top and left me wanting more, the other fizzled to a piss poor ending that only reminded me that I probably should have given up on the show years ago. Through it all though, I'd open a special beer each week once the sun set on Sunday Fundays and these two dramas eased me into the maddening work weeks ahead.

BrewDog Abstrakt 12
While Dexter started its final season a few weeks before Walter White did, I opened up this gem from Scotland that I had hiding in the back of my fridge for a while. Classified as a Black IPA, allowing this one to sit for a while essentially transformed it into a Belgian dark ale or stout. There were no hop flavors left but rather lots and lots of fruit. The barrel aging in Scotch whiskey definitely came though as well and kind of left a cloyingly sweet & alcoholic taste to the entire thing. All in all, a decent brew but nothing I'd go crazy to find another bottle of. Kind of like Dexter itself...ok on the first watch, don't need to do it again.

Pipeworks Blood of the Unicorn
When it finally came time to change my priorities from Showtime to AMC, I looked for a beer that was unique within my favorite style - Imperial Red Ales. Pipeworks Brewing always seems to make solid beers, and their naming and labeling of bottles is among the best in the country. So, naturally, I was excited to try something so epic as to be called Blood of the Unicorn. While its probably more along the lines of an American strong ale, the deep amber color and thick tan head could be considered an imperial red. And, really...who knows what color unicorn blood really is? It's one of those mysteries that we'll never solve...just like the mystery of what exactly Walter White's contribution to Grey Matter really was.

Firestone Walker Velvet Merkin
When it came time to say goodbye to Dexter, I was extremely conflicted. On the one hand, this is a show that brought me many enjoyable hours of entertainment. On the other hand, it ceased doing that a long time ago. But, like any good friend, I stuck by it through thick & thin. And for it's finale, I went with a new barrel-aged beer that I've been dying to try. Velvet Merkin is, quite possibly, one of the best stouts I've had. Its thick, creamy, flavorful and easy to drink. At 8.5% abv, its also in my sweet spot for perfect alcoholic beverage. While it may not have the complexity that Firestones other barrel-aged stout (Parabola) has, the simplicity and drinkabilty make it equally as satisfying, if not more so. What wasn't satisfying, however, was the ending to Dexter...which I now consider to be the single worst ending to any show ever. That includes Lost, The Sopranos, and even Dinosaurs (seriously...go look it up. Shit is fucked up!).

New Holland Dragon's Milk
One week after witnessing the worst of TV while drinking the best of beer, it shouldn't be any surprise that fate decided to pull the ol' switcheroo on me and deliver the best of TV and the worst of beer. But that isn't really fair to either of my favorite pastimes, both the finale of Breaking Bad and Dragon's Milk were perfectly mediocre. Neither grabbed my attention or caused a reaction in me either way. The final episode of Walter White's meth building opus felt off and disconnected from the previous 60+ hours of perfection. Similarly, Dragon's Milk (considered an imperial stout) tasted like an average beer aged to high hell on oak, whisky, and bourbon barrels. There wasn't complexity in the taste however, just an overabundance of wood. This particular bottle had been aging for about a year in my fridge, which could have increased those flavors and masked any of the malt and hops that were intended to be present. I'll have to go back again and try it fresh, just as I plan on going back and starting Breaking Bad all over again, this time with my wife to give me a fresh take on it.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

July Drinks

A whole month has gone by without a post. I must be slackin' in my old age!!! A combination of work, money, and life has somewhat distracted me from focusing on the important things in life. Namely --- beer! So, in an effort to catch everyone up on my past month I'm doing a series of shotgun reviews for the notable drinks I had in the past 30 days.

Prairie Artisan Ales - Prairie Hop
July 4th
Having had to work during the day on the 4th of July, I didn't really plan on any intense drinking activities. Instead, on my way home, I stopped at the local bottle shop and looked for something "summer-y". What I found was a hoppy saison from an up and coming brewery in the heart of America --- Oklahoma. What else says America like a twist on a European style brewed in the heartland from a brewery that sports a name like Prairie Ales! This was a great choice and one that I can't wait to have again.

AleSmith Brewing - Barrel-Aged Kopi Lowak Speedway Stout
July 6th
Two days after celebrating America, I chose to break out a rare treat to celebrate two men punching each other in the face. For a big UFC fight, I cracked open my last bottle of the super-special release from AleSmith. Coffee, chocolate, vanilla, & bourbon all rolled into one massive stout. While I really enjoyed the first glass, the second one was too much for me. I should have shared this. Especially because this single bottle (albeit, 12% abv), completely fucked me up the following day. But who am I to learn a lesson; I'm picking up more special Speedway Stout variants from AleSmith next month!

Central Waters Brewing - Peruvian Morning Imperial Stout
July 19th
Well, if one coffee stout isn't enough for the sweltering July evenings, then two must certainly be the sweet spot! Much like the Kopi Speedway, this beer was a barrel-aged coffee stout. However, Peruvian Morning was much more subdued in all its flavors. While it didn't burst with any one particular taste, it held up very solidly as a coffee stout. It was a little hot from the alcohol despite only being 8% abv. I certainly enjoyed it and have another one I'm holding onto. But it's hard for me to say if this was better than the Speedway offering or not. It didn't however, give me a deathly hangover like the Kopi.

Adnams - Innovation
July 20th
With so many heavy dark beers occupying my drinking time, I figured I needed something light. So I dug into the fridge and pulled out the oddball brew that a friend brought back from his trip to England. This was Adnams' first attempt to brew an American styled IPA. wasn't half bad. It certainly lacked the more citrus and pine flavors & aromas that west coast IPAs are known for. It also was a super hop-bomb on the tongue. But it was crisp, bitter, and refreshing. There was no overt sweetness from a heavy malt base that I would have expected from the Brits. And it was respectably potent for a British beer at 6.7% abv.

Oskar Blues - G'Knight & Deviant Dales
July 26th & 27th
My last drinks of the month were ol' staples. I've even reviewed one of them before (when it went by another name). My only criteria for selecting these two beers was that, while shopping, I wanted something in a can. And Oskar Blue's offers these two beers in true pint, 16 oz sizes. While G'Knight is branded as an imperial red ale and Deviant Dales as an imperial IPA, the two beers are really quite similar. They both offer similar alcoholic content (8.7% and 8.0% respectively). They are both aggressively hopped, and they both are remarkably good! Although I didn't do a side-by-side comparison of the two, the biggest takeaway that I came away with was that G'Knight was surprisingly more aromatic than Deviant Dales. It also was a slightly more bitter and crisp. This surprised me as I expected the opposite to be the case. Either way, I was very much pleased and satisfied with my final choices of the month. So much so, that I plan on making either or both regular staples in my fridge.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Live-Blogging: Avery Twenty

Once again I am trying a new style of posting. Instead of a simple beer or brewery review where I try to cover all the staples that I've come to known for (the beer, the buzz, & the hangover), this month I'm writing as I drink. And I'm drinking Avery Brewing Company's anniversary beer, Twenty.

I had no clue what I was going to drink for this month's blog. But I knew that I wanted it to be an IPA. While in the beer store yesterday, my beer guy suggested Twenty. It's a double IPA that he told me was the original recipe for one of Avery's other well known DIPAs, The Maharajah. Who knew they even changed the recipe for that! Also, who knew that auto-correct would have Maharajah in its dictionary.
Whatever recipe Avery is using for Twenty, its a winner. Immediately upon opening the bottle the smell of hops filled the air. Pine and citrus and even a hint of weed. Avery takes their hops seriously. According to their website they used Amarillo, Bravo, Simcoe, and Cascade hops. Which probably explains the more pine bite to each sip as opposed to citrus. Although they blend well, the taste is sharp. And to a non-IPA fan, this would probably end up becoming a drain pour. But for someone such as myself, someone seeking out an IPA for IPA-sake, Twenty is good drinks!

There is also an element of heat to this beer. At 9.7% abv and being bottled just last month, it's safe to say that this beer is taking full potential of it's alcohol. Only 30 minutes and half of the bottle into drinking it (and writing this), I can feel the faint haze sitting in. In what I consider the "sweet spot" of drinking, its that buzz that reminds you why beer is fun. It tastes great and it makes you happy!
With about 3/4ths of the bottle finished, one thing that occured to me about this beer and it's taste, is that the bite from the hop is so intense that it leaves a slight stinging sensation on my tongue. I've had this same feeling with other IPAs and its always a welcome addition to the overall tasting experience. Beers like Lagunitas Hop Stoopid and Knee Deep's Citra are two that I can remember having similar effects. This "tongue-tingling" by no means means that this is the hoppiest or tastiest beer IPA I've come across. Just last night, I had the last Palate Wrecker from Green Flash for the season and even being several months old, that beer just oozes hop-intensity. I also had a fresh Pliny the Elder before that and it reminded me that that one really is one of the best IPAs available.

Bonus round! naturally, after feeling great from a 9.7% double IPA, I wanna keep the party going. But I don't want to overdo it. Nor do I want to open another IPA which will inevitably be compared to Twenty. Instead I went to the other side of the spectrum and pulled out a barrel-aged stout. And digging through my cellar, I pulled out a nice 12oz, bourbon barrel aged winner from Cincinnati, Listermann Brewing Cincinnatus Stout.
Considerably different from an IPA, this barrel-aged stout is pretty good. It's thick, sweet and has hints of vanilla coffee and oak. And ther eis the slightest hint of alcohol. I know some people refer to thick stouts as being "chewy", which I never get. It's a drink, it's liquid, how can you chew it? Even milkshakes aren't chewed...ever. That's just weird.

Cincinnatus was a great choice for a bonus beer. It's pretty easy to drink and is actually slightly less alcoholic than Twenty. At only (pfft, only) 9.5% abv, I don't feel like I'll regret this one in the morning. Choosing to blog about it WHILE I drink it though...that's another story...

Monday, May 13, 2013

The Bruery Preservation Society

In yet another attempt at diversifying this website, I am dedicating this entry to the first quarterly shipment of beers in The Bruery's latest membership club - The Preservation Society. Unlike their other membership levels, The Reserve Society and The Hoarders Society, this one does not let members choose additional bottles or special releases as part of their dues, but rather opts for 4 shipments of 3 beers throughout the year. You can cancel your membership at any quarter and/or opt to upgrade at the end of the year when there is open registration for the next level up, The Reserve Society.
So before I get to talking about these 3 beers, it should be known that I am not really the biggest of Bruery fans. I appreciate their brewing philosophy and approach. I especially like that they've brought craft beer to a higher level in the outer Los Angeles area. But, I've never quite been won over by their overall beers to tip over into the "fanboy" zone that so many beer enthusiasts seem to be. That said, I was both excited for and pleased with Imperial Loakal Red. I'm a huge amber/red beer guy. I like the balance of hops and malts best within this brewing style. The fact that The Bruery was including a particularly hoppy beer in this first quarter shipment was both a surprise and a pleasure. This baby tasted like sweet citrus, bitter toffee, and floral pine! With an abv kicked up to 12%, it also packed a punch. An awesome, oaky, vanilla, and hoppy punch...but a punch nonetheless. The fact that this one is now available in limited quantities on their website for additional purchase is an excellent thing...I've ordered several already.
Of the three beers included in this shipment, White Chocolate is probably the most infamous of the lot. It's also easily the most sought after and a good selling point for the Preservation Society memberships. As far as I'm concerned, this beer sits up there with the other decadent beers that The Bruery offers like Black Tuesday, Grey Monday, Chocolate Rain, and Melange 3. While maybe not quite as prestigious as those beers, it's in the same range of abv and notoriety. Being billed as a "summer" barley-wine, the appearance is certainly light and fluffy. But the additions of vanilla beans and cacao nibs give this beer an insane flavor profile. It. Is. White. Chocolate. The aroma, the taste, the texture. It's a spot on representation of what the beer claims to be. I opened this one on my wedding anniversary and shared it with a few close friends who were over. To explain how great I thought this beer was...I immediately regretted pouring out too much for everyone else and wish I had had more for myself.
The last of the first quarter Bruery brews was the sour of the group. I'm not a sour fan. I'm open to trying them and I dig the occasional wild or farmhouse ale. But when it comes to straight up sours, they just don't jive with me. It could be my weakness for overly acidic foods and drinks. It could be my sordid past with Sour Patch Kids. Or it could just be that I don't quite have the refined palate that I think I do. But whatever it is, despite the fact that Sans Pagaie is one of the higher rated kriek beers you can find, I couldn't finish the bottle. In fact, it made me feel like shit. And at only 6% abv, it wasn't an alcohol thing. It was an acid reflux thing. And it sucked. Hard! Thankfully a friend came over later in the day who loves the puckering stuff and gladly finished what I couldn't.
So simply put, is the cost of a quarterly payment worth it for the quality of beers The Bruery includes in this package. My answer so far is yes. Two out of three killer beers and one that just isn't my thing easily justify the price point for some finely crafted brews that I couldn't easily get otherwise. Will every quarter be as good as this? Probably not. But I'd guess that most will come close and a few will probably even surpass it. If nothing else, they've got me hooked for the next shipment.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Digging in the Cellar: Curmudgeon's Better Half

As with last month's blog, I'm attempting to branch out from my typical posts of beer, buzz, and hangover. Being that beer has taken over my life in a way I never expected, I no longer feel that I'm drinking just to accurately pinpoint what elements in beer cause me to feel closer to death than others. Instead, I'm going to try a series of posts of the next few weeks and months that look at other aspects of distinct beers. This month, I dig into my beer cellar (aka, a converted wine fridge) and pull out a gem from way back in 2012 --- Founders Brewing Backstage Series #3: Curmudgeon's Better Half.

The Past:
Curmudgeon's Better Half was released as a part of Founders Brewing specialty "Backstage" series. This is their creme of the crop, the top of the heap, the...uhh...light of my life? Its some truly special shit, alright! Released sporadically over the past 2 1/2 years, Founders creates unique one-off beers that are meant to be shared and celebrated. Of course, with a collection culture such as craft brewing, they're more often hoarded and stashed away. After the 2nd such release from Founders (the insanely desired CBS, or Canadian Breakfast Stout), the bar was set high for their 3rd release. What was delivered was a re-branding of a beer known as Kaiser's Curmudgeon, which had only ever been released in their taproom. Upon aging it in re-purposed bourbon barrels that more recently held maple syrup, the "Better Half" of the beer was formed.

The Present:
I opted to open this bottle recently as I had heard through some online chatter that the beer may be at or slightly past its peak. How, exactly, this is determined is really beyond me. I'm sure there are some people out there who have multiple bottles of this and are drinking it semi-regularly while taking detailed notes and pictures to document its development. Why am I sure of this? Because there are nerds everywhere! And they know all! As for my thoughts on Curmudgeon's Better Half, I found it to be rather remarkable. Even being somewhat hyped up, I felt it lived up to it's billing. Pouring the first glass into my snifter, it appeared to be one of the more beautiful looking beers I've come across. And the initial aroma was strong with bourbon and vanilla even despite its age. My first sip immediately hit me with heat. The booze in this 11.9% abv beer was present and up front and clearly didn't fade into the background of flavors. But once my palate got accustomed to the heat, tastes of maple and wood came through. While vanilla was in the smell, it wasn't really in the taste. Rather, brown sugar and syrup dominated. This was basically breakfast in a bottle. If I only had a side of bacon to eat with it, my evening would have been complete.

The Future:
The future sadly doesn't look bright for Curmudgeon's Better Half. Not because it wasn't great, nor because I wouldn't drink it again. But rather, the chances of me coming across another bottle are pretty slim. The Backstage series is hard to come by today, let alone ones that were released over a year ago. I was fortunate enough to score this bottle from a guy in the Midwest who sent me a ton of great barrel-aged beers, including another in Founders' Backstage series: Bolt Cutter. As for how much longer Curmudgeon will retain its flavors and aromas...well, I'll leave that answer up to the uber-beer nerds who bought a case of it and continue to scientifically test it every 3-6 months. Me? I'll just jump at the chance to taste and/or share it immediately should I come across it again.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

5 Seasons Brewing

In an unprecedented move, Beer Hates Me took a month off from reviewing a beer. Factors such as work, family, and the dreaded flu all contributed to this monumental breakdown of the real importance here --- drinking beer. To make up for it, I plan on two posts this month. This first one is something a little bit different. Instead of reviewing a single beer, I'm reviewing a single brewery. And my choice for said brewery, 5 Seasons Brewing out of Alpharetta, GA.
The Beers:
I started off my evening at 5 Seasons by arriving with my family and grabbing some food. As with all places I eat, I study the menu beforehand like I plan on being quizzed on it. This goes double for the beer menu. Being the insane beer nerd that I am, I take things a step further and actually reach out to the brewmaster to inquire about his portfolio of beers. At 5 Seasons, their brewmaster, Crawford Moran, actually got back to me quickly and enthusiatically. He told me what would be new, what would be different, and asked what I liked. After a little back & forth, I had my drinking game plan for the night all set.
First up was an IPA. I always lead with an IPA when sampling a variety of beers. I think getting the hops on the palate before other flavors come into play is important. In the case of Hop Project 342X I could not have been more right. This was an odd IPA. Crawford described it as an experimental one. Apparently one of his hop providers gave him some new varieties of hops to experiment with. He couldn't tell me their names, but just that only a handful of brewers have had the chance to work with them. To me, the project didn't necessarily work. I felt that the taste was too funky and not crisp enough. The hops didn't seem to provide the citrus-pine combo that makes a great IPA. It was drinkable, and fun to taste a new IPA for once. And I'm sure with future experimentation, this beer could become great.
Next up was a traditional London Porter served on cask. Here's where I started to understand 5 Seasons approach to brewing. This is about as classic a style as one can get. Serving via cask doubles the classical factor and provides a truer representation of the beer in my opinion. 5 Seasons' London Porter was exactly what I'd expect it to be. Creamy, smooth, hints of chocolate and coffee, and even a little bit of smoke on the nose as well. Where I was able to tie it into the 5 Seasons Brewing repertoire was that there was again a faint note of funk to it. It wasn't bad or oft-putting in the least, and actually provided a nice kick to an otherwise standard beer. But this is where I recognized that the house yeast (the basis for fermenting all their beers) likely has some Belgian lineage to it. While not all out European, there is certainly a taste that is uniform in all of these beers and unlike typical American representations of the styles.
The third and final beer from the menu that I had was the Dark Star Stout. Immediately, I knew that this beer was a winner. Much like the porter, it stuck to a simple base. Irish stout, smooth and slightly toasted with a little bit of hops added for a very subtle bitter bite. This beer has won awards for 5 Seasons and understandably so. The roasty aroma permeated from the glass as soon as it was poured and I easily could have seen myself having a 2nd and 3rd serving of this.
The last beer of the night was the off-menu specialty that Crawford had set aside at the bar for me. Called Square Peg, its a Belgian Dubbel aged in whiskey barrels. This thing was intense. The bartenders had never tried it themselves and also didn't know what the specifics of it were. Where most of the beers at 5 Seasons seemed to have a hint of Belgian lineage yeast to them, this one was full on funk! It was a caramel syrup taste and texture balanced with a tangy yeast kick. The whiskey notes were in full affect and from a single sniff alone, you could sense the alcohol within. I tried to pass this one around a bit to some nearby guests as my sister couldn't handle something of this nature.
The Buzz:
Naturally, when choosing a brewpub to establish yourself in for the night, a certain level of intoxication is expected. From the 4 beers I drank (plus a fifth that I finished for my sister), I was certainly happily inebriated by the time we left. While there, there was no indication on the menu or otherwise of the alcoholic content of the beers offered. Asking servers and bartenders sometimes got an answer but upon double-checking the beers online the next day, those servers only seemed to get it right half the time. Aside from Square Peg, nothing else was high gravity. But the combination of all together made for a potent cocktail of booziness that lulled me to sleep very quickly once we got home.

The Hangover:
Again, here is where sampling a plethora of beers doesn't always bode well with analyzing the post-drinking aspect for this blog. Such a diverse range of beers and styles often means a rough morning. The different grains, hops, and yeasts used only cause the body further confusion in the processing and cleansing department. That said, my hangover was rough. It was ugly. And it was long. Although I've experienced worse, this was definitely one that made an impact since my entire body felt it. Muscles, joints, shit...even my hair I think.

The Verdict:
5 Seasons Brewing is certainly a unique brewpub. I think that when most people picture brewpubs, they picture IPAs, lagers, a stout and a porter. The basics. Some may venture deeper into those classic styles by amping up the hops, doubling the alcohol, or experimenting with variations on the classic styles. Its not often that a brewpub has a largely European influence in their beer profile. Its even less common that said brewpub has (what I believe to be) a Belgian hybrid house yeast that they use as the base of all their beers. I'd certainly be interested in revisiting 5 Seasons. I'd be even more interested in procuring some of their beer in bottles to go and aging them. While overall, the style and execution of their beers isn't to my preferred tastes, I was very impressed and inspired by the beer they make and their approach to the craft beer service.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Founders Breakfast Stout

It's a new year, and to commemorate a record year in all things beer, I am doing the same thing I do every night --- TRY TO TAKE OVER THE WORLD! Wait...wrong blog. Actually, this month my choice of beer was very simple. It was one that I won in a simple online trivia game over at Beer Advocate (thanks Monica!). Through good fortune and great kindness, someone sent me a fresh 4-pack of one of the most sought after seasonal releases - Founders Brewing Breakfast Stout.
The Beer:
Well, I certainly picked an amazing beer to celebrate the holidays with. I had no idea that something so heavily hyped in beer-nerd circles would live up to the hype and possibly surpass it. Everything this beer claimed to be it was - chocolate, coffee, oats, and a little cinnamon. Quite literally, it is breakfast in a glass. But it wasn't just the layers of savory and sweet flavors that made this beer impressive, its also the drink-ability of it that amazed me. With many stouts, there is often a level of thickness that is great for a pint but not much more than that. And these days, many stouts come barrel-aged and heap on the alcohol making even a full pint sometimes too much. Breakfast Stout however had a wonderful balance of a light finish on each sip that never made me feel as though I was drinking a loaf of bread. One other interesting thing to note with Breakfast Stout was that it got considerably better as it warmed. I had put the beers into the refrigerator before starting my session of consumption. Once I started drinking however, I decided to just take the entire 4-pack out and let them sit as I got to each one. It was one of those rare chilly night here in Los Angeles and I figured even if they reached room temperature, they'd still be perfect for drinking throughout the end of year UFC show. Little did I know that each subsequent beer would only improve. The coffee stood out a little more, the chocolate hung around a little longer, and hints of smoke came through. Its unfortunate that I only had these 4 beers to savor, as Breakfast Stout isn't sold on the West Coast, and I'll likely have to wait until next years release and more generosity from other like-minded alcoholics to get some more.
The Buzz:
Founders Breakfast Stout isn't just an impressive tasting beer. It also packs an alcoholic punch with a decent 8.2% abv. Being such a tasty beer, and being so easy to drink, it's a perfect recipe for getting fairly drunk fairly quickly. In this particular session, I found myself succeeding in a slow pace throughout the night. The fact that it was the holidays, that I was off from work, and that I had an epic night of fights to watch on pay-per-view, certainly helped me control the flow of brew. After beers #1 & 2, the level of buzz that set in would have been enough for me to pleasantly call it a night for drinking on any other weekend. But being that I still needed another 12oz to reach my minimum limit and the fact that this was vacation after all, I pressed forward just as the fight of the night was starting. A better decision could not have been made. Not only was the 3rd beer the best of the bunch in taste, but it also sent me into that perfect place where the buzz makes everything warm and fuzzy. The irony that it occurred at the same time a guy was having his face punched open and spilling pints upon pints of blood on a mat for thousands of cheering fans in Las Vegas is not lost on me, but it is appreciated!
The Hangover:
When I passed out after an epic heavyweight main event, I wasn't sure what the next day would hold for me. On the one hand, I had a tall glass of water and only drank the minimum allotment of beer for my blog in this session. But on the other hand, this wasn't a weak pale ale or pilsner. This beer had depth to it...both in flavor and alcohol. So when I finally awoke after a cozy night's sleep, I shouldn't have been surprised that the  symptoms of a rough day ahead were all present. Pounding headache, check. Woozy stomach, check. Cloudy daze, check. While the standard hangover cocktail of an antacid and Advil helped somewhat, that lingering discomfort chose to stick around for the entire Sunday before New Years. While on any regular Sunday this wouldn't have been to much of a big deal (and doubly so on a vacation-Sunday), I found myself tasked with a list of house repairs, maintenance  and upkeep that my wife requested. But, being the super-husband that I am, I pushed through the pain and soldiered on. While this distracted from the obvious hangover Breakfast Stout caused, it didn't make me forget about it when I went to open that final 4th bottle later that night. Thankfully hair of the dog and all that still applies 12+ hours later.

The Verdict:
It's easy to see why people in the beer community go nuts for Breakfast Stout. Its not only a good beer, but its pretty cool to consider the idea of actually having a beer for breakfast. While my testing of this particular brew didn't bring me to that length, I could imagine a scenario in the Midwest where you wake up one Sunday morning with 2 feet of snow on the ground, the Packers playing the Vikings, eggs, bacon, and toast ready and waiting for you to dive into. All accompanied by a pint of Founders Breakfast Stout to wash it down. While I'm sure this exact situation actually occurs several times a year somewhere in Michigan, out here in LA, I could only get so close to living that particular American Dream. But I'll absolutely try to achieve that year after year should someone find it in their hearts to continue to send me this great beer each winter.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...