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Saturday, April 29, 2017

A Pack of Porters


Been seeing a lot on this trend lately and for me it's a bit of a head-scratcher. As I'm sure you know if you've followed us at all, we (that's both the royal 'we' and the inclusive 'we' meaning all of the BOTB Guys) are big fans of IPAs. While we certainly enjoy and appreciate other beer styles as well (note this month's foray into Porters and next month's Ambers) IPAs and hoppy Pale Ales are our go-to beers. After a lifetime of boring mega-brew American lagers the introduction of Pale Ales and then IPAs was like Dorothy stepping out of her black and white world into one of technicolor. The taste-buds sang with joy. The intense citrus, pine and floral flavors imparted by the hops were just glorious, but wonderful bitterness that accompanied these flavors just amped up the intensity. For us, the bitterness is part and parcel of what makes an IPA a great beer. Now a number of brewers are experimenting with IPAs that have the hop flavors without the bitterness. To me it's almost like saying: "We're going to make a Sour beer only we're going to make it so that it's not, you know, sour." I like my IPAs with solid IBUs. Without the bitter bite is it really an IPA? Not having had the opportunity to have tried a zero IBU IPA, I reserve judgement. But I remain skeptical. 


Night gathers, and now my watch begins.
It shall not end until my death. I shall take no wife, hold no lands, father no children.
I shall wear no crowns and win no glory.
I shall live and die at my post.
I am the sword in the darkness
I am the watcher on the walls.
I am the fire that burns against the cold, the light that brings the dawn, the horn that wakes the sleepers, the shield that guard the realms of men.
I pledge my life and honor to the Night's Watch, for this night and for all nights to come.

Thus is the pledge recited by those who "take the black" in Game of Thrones. To join the Night's Watch and become one of the Watchers on the Wall means a life bereft of carnal pleasures. But at least they have beer. We at BOTB won't forego earthly pleasures (we're not dead yet!) but we will delve into darkness this month as we check out some tasty Porters from traditional to New World interpretations. 


THE BEER FACTS: BREWER: Greenport Harbor Brewing Company, Greenport, NY;  STYLE: Porter; ABV: 4.7%;

WHAT THE BREWER SAYS: "A black ale that puts the flavor of the malt front and center. It has a mild hop character that balances strong notes of cocoa and hints of coffee. A full bodied roasty treat that finished dry."

COLOR: Walnut

POUR: Decent porter head, a dark ecru color, long lasting with good lacing.

AROMA: Coffee with cream

BODY: Fairly full-bodied

TASTE: Coffee with hints of chocolate - kind of mocha flavor

OVERALL IMPRESSIONS: Between "I Could Drink This!" and "Can't Get Enough!"

COMMENTS: "Very tasty; Smooth; Not as creamy as some; Really? I thought it was quite creamy; A little more carbonated than many; Could drink more than a couple of these; Really nice, smooth Porter."


THE BEER FACTS: BREWER: Breckenridge Brewery, Littleton, Colorado; STYLE: Vanilla Porter; ABVs: 5.4%; IBUs: 16

WHAT THE BREWER SAYS: "Deep in the jungles of Papua New Guinea and Madagascar grows the perfect ingredient for an extraordinary Porter brewed in Colorado. Breckenridge Brewery's Vanilla Porter. An ale that has all the chocolate and roasted nut flavor of a classic Porter, with an enigmatic surprise thrown in for good measure."

COLOR: Mahogany

POUR: Decent Head

AROMA: Not a real strong aroma, hint of vanilla

BODY: Full

TASTE: Initially pretty sweet, with coffee/mocha notes to start followed by vanilla

OVERALL IMPRESSIONS: Between "I Could Drink This!" and "Can't Get Enough!:

COMMENTS: "Coffee/mocha at the front - vanilla at the end; Creamy, somewhat thicker than the Black Duck; Not as carbonated, gives it a richer feel; Bitter in the back; Vanilla is not overpowering, which is a good thing. I've had a few vanilla porters that are just too much vanilla so it ends up with a kind of sicky-sweet taste. This is nicely subtle."


THE BEER FACTS: BREWER: Bell's Brewery, Comstock, MI; STYLE: Porter; ABV: 5.6%

WHAT THE BREWER SAYS: "Our award winning Porter bridges the gap between malty brown ales and heavily roasted stouts. Notes of chocolate, coffee and roasted barleey are offset with just a slight hop bitterness. Enjoy any time of the year."

COLOR: Black - inky and opaque

POUR: Near "Guinness Class" head - thick head with an attitude

AROMA: Dark chocolate

BODY: Full

TASTE: Sweet dark chocolate, malty, borderline burnt roasted barley

OVERALL IMPRESSIONS: Near "Can't Get Enough!"

COMMENTS: "Right at my limit for burnt taste; A bit carbonated; Chocolate cherry taste at the end, giving it a sweetness; Decent; Wouldn't expect less from Bell's."


THE BEER FACTS: BREWER: Alewerks Brewing Company; STYLE: Porter; ABV: 5.6%

WHAT THE BREWER SAYS: "This particular beer is known as Paycheck Porter. It's a Robust Porter, boldly American, and big in all the right places. We brew this beer for, and with, rough hands and hearty appetites. Look for notes of roasted coffee and toasted cocoa."

COLOR: Black Walnut

POUR: Decent Head

AROMA: Malty

BODY: Between Medium and Full

TASTE: Sweet malty with hints of cocoa, dark chocolate and bit of sweet cloves.


COMMENTS: "Tastes like a Sugar Daddy but with chocolate (maybe Black Cow?); Sweet on the front  - pleasant aftertaste; Too sweet for me; British vibe with the clove taste; I couldn't drink a lot of it; I could drink this, but I wouldn't actively seek it out."


THE BEER FACTS: BREWER: Maui Brewing Company, Kihei, Maui, HI; STYLE: Porter; ABV: 6.0%; IBUs: 30

WHAT THE BREWER SAYS: "A robust dark ale with hand-toasted coconut and hints of mocha."

COLOR: Opaque black

POUR: Between "Decent" and "Guinness Class" head

AROMA: Coconut

BODY: Near Full

TASTE: Sweet with strong hints of chocolate and coconut

OVERALL IMPRESSIONS: Between "I Could Drink This" and "Can't Get Enough!"

COMMENTS:"Coconut taste is not overpowering, but it is there: Mounds Bar - coconut and chocolate; I'm not a big fan of coconut (or fruit) in my beer - I would leave this one on the shelf; Head dissipates all too quickly; I like the vanilla better, but I like this second best so far; Too light and watery; Not as creamy as I was hoping for; Not bad, though."


THE BEER FACTS: BREWER: Grindstone Farm Brewery, Pulaski, NY; STYLE: Porter; ABV: 7%

WHAT THE BREWER SAYS: "We liked the idea of taking a Porter and hopping it up a bit. It's a bit of a bitter take on the traditional Porter.

COLOR: Black walnut with a ruby glint

POUR: Decent Head

AROMA: Somewhat neutral, not a strong aroma

BODY: Near full

TASTE: Malty with hints of chocolate but with more hop presence. Less sweet than the others.

OVERALL IMPRESSIONS: Near "Can't Get Enough!"

COMMENTS: "Smooth, creamy; Hoppy at the end; Unusually bitter for a Porter; I like it - a nice twist on Porters which can be a bit too sweet at times; Good beer, it's one where you could enjoy more than one because it's not so sweet."


THE BEER FACTS: BREWER: Yard's Brewing Company; STYLE: Porter; ABV: 7.0%; IBUs: 40; MALTS: Crystal and Chocolate malts; ADDITIONS: Molasses

WHAT THE BREWER SAYS: "LIQUID COURAGE. Detailed in a letter from the General to his officers during the war, Washington's recipe employed molasses to aid fermentation and give rich caramel notes to this robust, roasty ale. The recipe reflected his admiration for Philadelphia-style porters, especially those brewed by Robert Hare (whose original brewery stood just blocks from wherre ours is now). Our Tavern Porter, inspired by Washington's, is dark, smooth and complex with just a hint of dried fruit in the finish."

COLOR: Black

POUR: Decent Head

AROMA: Toast - biscuit

BODY: Full

TASTE: Hints of molasses, maybe licorice, dark fruits, roasted malts with a little chocolate

OVERALL IMPRESSIONS: Close to "Can't Get Enough!:

COMMENTS: "Enough malt presence to support the alcohol; Nice beer; Very tasty; Nice - a little sweet, but not cloyingly so; The molasses gives it a kind of interesting depth; Easy drinking because it's not overly sweet; Nicely balanced beer, very enjoyable."


THE BEER FACTS: BREWER: Stillwater Artisnal Ales at Crazy Mountain Brewing Company, Denver, CO; ABV: 7%

WHAT THE BREWER SAYS: "Old World Porter Fermented with Brett. Playing off the English bent of our Baltimore brothers Oliver Ales, this Old World Porter brings a little bit of the Stillwater funk to the party. Drink it and don't feed the vultures."

COLOR: Near black

POUR: A bit more than Decent

AROMA: Yeasty

BODY: Fairly full bodied

TASTE:Somewhat sour, bit of roastiness, malt dominates, yeast

OVERALL IMPRESSIONS: Leave it on the shelf

COMMENTS: "It would take a real pirate to drink this; Cross between Dr. Pepper, Coca Cola and a Porter; Not a fan; Not one I'd go after; It has a taste almost like a sour; Got that barnyard funky, musty thing going I just don't care for; I think it's the Brett - I just can't seem to develop a taste for beers that rely on it; The 'yeast' of your problems."

Since all the beers were Porters this month we could in fact compare apples to apples. In fact we even put it to a vote, each of us rating the beers 1 - 8 with 1 being our favorite. Ergo, as in golf, low score wins. Here's the results:

THE WINNER: Yards Brewing George Washinton's Tavern Porter. We found this beer to be a perfectly balance Porter - not too sweet but with all you would expect from a good Porter. (16 pts)

2. Grindstone Brewing's General Pulaski's Porter. A very close second, we liked this for many of the same reasons - a nice hop presence making it not too sweet and a pleasing maltiness as well. Very rich and creamy Porter. (17 pts)

3. Breckenridge Vanilla Porter. A very tasty Porter with just the right amount of vanilla to give it a little different twist. Smooth mocha followed by vanilla. (21 pts)

4. Bell's Robust Porter. Delicious dark chocolate notes with hint of cherry and roasted malt. (23 pts) 

5. Greenport Harbor's Black Duck Porter. Tasty, smooth and creamy though a bit more carbonated than many Porters. Low ABV makes it a good sessionable Porter. (24 pts)

6. Maui Brewing Coconut Hiwa Porter. No consensus on this one. Coconut was not overpowering, but those who didn't like that taste in beer didn't care for it while others found it an interesting change-up (30 pts)

7. Alewerks Paycheck Porter. While no one actively disliked this beer, most felt it was a bit too sweet - okay for an occasional sipper, but not one we'd seek out. (37 pts)

8. Stillwater's Tuppence Porter. This was the only one with consensus. We all gave it an 8. No one particularly cared for the Brett yeast. Still love ya' Stillwater - just not this beer.

Next month: Ambers
The BOTB Guys

Friday, March 17, 2017

New York State of Beer


What began a number of years ago with a few outlier breweries defying the big beer conglomerates by creating what was quaintly referred to as microbrews, has exploded into a full blown brewing revolution. A number of these breweries gradually expanded to the point where they were distributed nationally so that the term microbrew became a bit of a misnomer. Not to mention that technically a microbrewery is defined as a brewery that produces less than 15,000 barrels per year. Samuel Adams or Sierra Nevada are hardly "micro" anything and their production far exceeds that 15,000 barrel per annum limit. So microbrews became craft beer, a sort of catch-all term for anything not brewed by the megabrews. Trouble was, the lines have become blurred. I suspect we've all (beer geeks like us) had the experience of being in a restaurant and asking the waiter or waitress if they had any craft beer and have them direct you to, say, Blue Moon  or Shock Top, beers brewed by Miller and Anheuser-Busch respectively. We would never include those two in our reviews because we don't consider them "craft." But check out this list of craft breweries now under the auspices in some form of big breweries. Do we consider them to be craft beers anymore? The truth is, many of these beers would not be widely available were it not for their association with the big breweries. So we are somewhat conflicted. Many of the beers produced by these breweries are some of our favorites. To exclude them from our reviews would mean eliminating a number of excellent beers which are widely available, and we would be limited to only those local and regional breweries and the craft breweries large enough to get national distribution on their own.

So where do we draw the line? In general we try to avoid those "fake" breweries - the ones that were created by the megabreweries to get a piece of the craft beer movement. It is a deceptive practice and we'll have none of it. As for most of the other breweries on that list, well, most of them use the mega-brews for distribution and continue to make quality beers so we'll continue to include them. But we're always on the lookout for those smaller, truly independent breweries.


Last month we had the opportunity, thanks to Gerry's trip to the Lone Star State, to check out some tasty Texas brews. This month we stayed closer to home and decided to try some New York State beers we had yet to review.  


THE BEER FACTS: BREWER: Keuka Brewing Company, Hammondsport, NY; STYLE: Pepper infused Blonde Ale; ABV: 4.2%

WHAT THE BREWER SAYS: "Afterburner is KBC's devilish take on the chili beer style. It is a light blonde ale weighing in at a mere 4.2%, but brewed with roasted habanero peppers giving it a bold, spicy flavor. It may not seem like much at first but be aware the burn grows after each sip. Afterburner is also a great beer to cook with; try it in tacos, chili or beer battered fish fry."

POUR: Big Guinness Class head

AROMA: Pilsner, yeast

BODY: Light to Medium

TASTE: Spicy hot! Peppery with some light malt coming through early on. The heat builds throughout


COMMENTS: "Really tasty if you like spicy hot food; This would be great with eggs in the morning - wouldn't have any need for Frank's Hot Sauce; Great to marinate fish for fish tacos; I'm a fan, the spice really sets this apart as a nice change-of-pace beer; It'll warm you up on a cold winter's night; I just mixed it half and half with an IPA - really good that way, the pepper and the hops compliment each other nicely; Truly depends on your tolerance for spiciness, but I really like it."


THE BEER FACTS: BREWER: Full Boar Brewery, Syracuse, NY; STYLE: American India Pale Ale; ABV: 6.5%; IBUs: 65

WHAT THE BREWER SAYS: No Brewer Description Available

COLOR: Wheat

POUR: Big, full Guinness-Class Head

AROMA: Strong piney aroma

BODY: Medium

TASTE: Big hop taste, piney, grapefruit, citrus

OVERALL IMPRESSIONS: Very near "Can't Get Enough!"

COMMENTS: "Aroma of gin; Very good lawn mower beer - you don't want a dark beer in the summer; Really nice beer; Easy-drinking; A keeper!; This is definitely a hop-forward beer, with a real pine aroma that comes through in the taste, I like it a lot; I'm okay with it, a little too much pine for my taste, but I don't hate it, I'd just like a bit more malt for balance."


THE BEER FACTS: BREWER: Brooklyn Brewery, Brooklyn, NY; ABV: 6.7%

WHAT THE BREWER SAYS: "The Defender takes to the skies, standing guard over all those who dare to drink great beer. Defender IPA is a bright, juicy, West Coast-style IPA. Fruity hop bitterness and an intensely resinous nose lead the way into a dry finish that blazes the trail to your next sip."

COLOR: Copper/ dark honey

POUR: Near Guinness-class

AROMA: Some grapefruit but not strong aroma

BODY: Between Medium and Full

TASTE: Toward the hoppy end of balanced with notes of citrus and caramel malt

OVERALL IMPRESSIONS: Near "Can't GetEnough!"

COMMENTS: "By itself it is very good, put against a big IPA it kind of pales; Nice mouthfeel; I like it, it's a nice, solid IPA, what you would expect from an IPA; I think it's one of those well-balanced IPAs with a good malt base along with the hops you expect."


THE BEER FACTS: BREWER: Keuka Brewing, Hammondsport, NY; STYLE: Imperial Stout; ABV: 8.1%; IBUs: 33; SRM: 42; MALT: Chocolate malt, roasted barley, flaked oats.

WHAT THE BREWER SAYS: "Local Mocha is an imperial stout made with chocolate malt, roasted barley and a healthy amount of flaked oates to increase the body of this beastly beer. It is aged on vanilla, cocoa nibs, and coffee beans giving it huge roasted chocolate flavor and aroma. This dark delicacy is like eating a chocolate covered coffee bean."

COLOR: Black

POUR: Big, dark Guinness-class head

AROMA: Coffee, cocoa

BODY: Full, rich

TASTE: Sweet taste of mocha - coffee with chocolate


COMMENTS: "A little too malty for me, Nice dessert beer; At 8.1% you wouldn't drink a lot of them, but it makes a nice sipping beer; Doesn't need cream and sugar; This would be great in place of my morning coffee; If you're a fan of chocolate, coffee, mocha or stouts you've gotta' love this one; Nice, big sweety for sure."


THE BEER FACTS: BREWER: Paradox Brewery, Schroon, NY; STYLE: Imperial IPA; ABV: 8.1%; IBUs: 81

WHAT THE BREWER SAYS: "Our Imperial India Pale Ale. A showcase for hops, we use over 3 pounds of hops per barrel. This bold, juicy IPA is double dry hopped, to deliver citrus and tropical fruit flavors while still remaining highly drinkable."

COLOR: Unfiltered Golden honey

POUR: Big, full head, nearly Guinness-class.

AROMA: Bready with hints of alcohol

BODY: Full

TASTE: Pine on the front, citrus on the back, not a big malt presence, bit of pepper, maybe

OVERALL IMPRESSIONS: Very near "Can't Get Enough!"

COMMENTS: "Leaves your mouth full; Gets your attention; Nice beer; Tastes like a pretty big beer; nice and tasty; I really like it; Well blended aroma - pine and citrus; Doesn't have that cloying sweetness that sometimes comes with imperials to hide the alcohol; You can taste the alcohol, but it doesn't dominate; Big citrus-hop taste."


THE BEER FACTS: BREWER: Ithaca Beer Company, Ithaca, NY; STYLE: Session IPA; ABV: 4.8%; MALT: 2-Row, Pale, Wheat, Honey Malt; HOPS: Equinox, Citra, Amarillo, Columbus.

WHAT THE BREWER SAYS: "Our delightful mid-summer seasonal, Hopkist is an easy drinking and refreshing citrus IPA. With a mild ABV of 4.75%, this IPA is wonderfully "sessionable" for the hot summer months. The combination of Honey Malt and Citra hops in both brewing and dry hopping along with a healthy zip of citrus zest makes Hopkist the perfect summer brew."

COLOR: Unfiltered whead

POUR: Decent Head

AROMA: Citrus with some maltiness

BODY: Somewhat light

TASTE: Citrusy, grapefruit


COMMENTS: "Springy kind of beer; Bright, easy to drink beer; Pleasant; Not a big body - lawn mower beer; Session?; Wouldn't survive in a war of IPAs; Not a bad beer, though, very drinkable; Leans on the citrus, grapefruit taste a lot without much malt, which you would expect from a light IPA like this.


THE BEER FACTS: BREWER: Copper City Brewing Company, Rome, NY; STYLE: Double IPA; ABV: 8.3%; HOPS: Simcoe, Mosaic

WHAT THE BREWER SAYS: "A hoppy high with a malty depth."

COLOR: Unfiltered apricot

POUR: Decent Head

AROMA: Grassy, hay

BODY: Full

TASTE: Piney, grapefruit, hoppy bitterness


COMMENTS:"A little sweetness on the end; Good find; Tastes as big as it really is; Body and backend sweetness disguise the alcohol; Kind of dank aroma that does not carry over into the taste at all, thankfully; Delicious - I love it; It's so easy to drink you could forget that its a double; Nice warming feel to it."


THE BEER FACTS: BREWER: CB Craft Brewers, Honeoye Falls, NY; STYLE: Double IPA; ABV: 9.5%; IBUs: 78; MALTS: Superiou Pilsner, Wheat, Melanoidin, Sauer; HOPS: Summit, Apollo, Columbus, Centennial, Falconers Flight, Exp 05256.

WHAT THE BREWER SAYS: "A bonifide hop-head's delight. This is a beer truly bursting at the seans with juicy, tropical hop presence. Beginning with pineapple, mango and guava the ride continues into a pleasant citrus finish. The conjunction of malts add an assertive tangy counterbalance to this hop parade to remind you this is a real brazen beast."

COLOR: Unfiltered apricot

POUR: Somewhat less than Decent

AROMA: Malty, alcohol

BODY: Full

TASTE: Tropical fruits with sweet malt, bit of honey and horehound.


COMMENTS: "Alcohol taste works with the other tastes well, Complex brew; Horehound taste in there; Hops are so well blended you can't tell which is which; There's a kind of honey sweetness to it that marries well with the tropical fruit tastes; Really nice beer."

Grindstone Brewing

THE BEER FACTS: BREWER: Grindstone Brewery, Pulaski, NY; STYLE: India Pale Ale; ABV: 8.0%

WHAT THE BREWER SAYS: "A beer for those who believe in a beer drinker's right to choose, because choice, like Alternate Fax IPA, is a good thing - and that's a fact."

COLOR: Unfiltered copper/chestnut

POUR: Between Decent and Guinness-class

AROMA: A bit yeasty, malty

BODY: Full

TASTE: Balanced with citrus/grapefruit opening and ending in a sorghum or molasses malty sweetness


COMMENTS: Delicious; A little sweet on the end; Really nicely balanced beer; Boy, that's good; Nice malt background but neither the hops nor the malt overpowers the other; There's no "wall" between the hops and the malt; This will make craft beer great again! Oh wait, it already was great, so, um, - America first!"

A great bunch of New York State beers. A nice mix of styles this time around as well. It's not really fair to compare since it was such a mix of styles. Next month we're going to have a battle of the Porters.

The BOTB Guys

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

From Texas to Yonkers (Brewing)

This month we start out in the Lone Star State then come on back to our Home State as we check out some Texas beers and then review some brews from Yonkers Brewing Company. Join us, there's some tasty beer ahead.


This month, BOTB member, Gerry, had the opportunity to spend some time in Abilene,Texas for a lovely meet-n-greet with his first grandchild. While there he dutifully checked out the Texas craft beer scene (and just as dutifully returned with a treasure-trove of Texas beers for us to review this month). He also filed the following report on his take on the state of craft beer in Texas along with a shout out to one of the first craft breweries in Abilene. Below is Gerry's musings on Texas craft beer and Pappy Slokum.

Once known as a craft beer dust bowl, the appreciation and production of fine craft beer has skyrocketed in the past 5-6 years in Texas. Mainly due to the original and huge German influence in beer making in the state, German lagers ruled the state. The market, and consequently the local tastes, were all geared toward Shiner Bock or Lone Star (a lager now owned and brewed by Pabst). When I first visited 4 years ago that’s about all you could find on tap anywhere in the greater Abilene area. I am pleased to report that Texas has swiftly jumped into the craft beer scene. With the relatively recent (ten years or less) birth of such craft beer makers as Jester King, Community Beer Company, Karbach Brewing, Deep Ellum, Real Ale, Revolver Brewing, and Rahr & Sons Brewing I had a delightful stay in Abilene with great beers available to me on tap and in grocery stores.

Always the curious type on the lookout for new and different beers and breweries, I snooped around and found,tucked away in the older north industrial side of Abilene, a small brewery that I fell in love with. Pappy Slokum Brewing Company is the exact tiny brewery you would want in your town. Started by 3 dedicated and experienced homebrewers with nothing on their minds but making really
good beer. With a previous poor taste in my mouth (pun intended) for Texas beer in general, I visited Pappy Slokum early on in my visit – fully prepared not to like anything. I bought a flight in a tasting room packed full of weekly loyal patrons, many with their own mugs, and began taking brief notes in my trusty leather beer journal. I try to never judge a beer by a 4 ounce sample. My purpose in ordering flights is to sort out the offerings I will take note of and enjoy in greater quantity. When, what to my wondering palette should appear? Why, nothing short of great tasting beer; and on top of that it was all so near.

My ordering and note-taking apparently was taken note of because the next thing I knew one of the 3 owners/brewers, Jeff Bell, appeared and we chatted up a storm. Long story short and lots of beer later I know I’ve discovered an absolute gem of a small brewery. After traveling and tasting up and down Vermont, much of New Hampshire, across New York, and tasting craft beer in the BOTB club for the past several years I must say that Pappy Slokum Brewing Company is up there with the best of them. Any of our readership knows that we are really big on India Pale Ales, so believe me when I say a Mac Pappy’s 80 Shilling Scottish Ale was simply fantastic and floated right to the top of my notebook. No wonder it is available on tap at The Taylor County Tap House (a very popular watering hole downtown).  However, (and this will surprise anyone the least bit familiar with my beer drinking tastes) the one that won me, the one I’d actually get back on a plane and fly down for was their Stripper Dust Vanilla Porter. That’s right a porter, me, loving a porter – who knew? Sure I was intrigued by the name
(crafters really enjoy naming their beers) but the full vanilla aroma and the smooth creamy texture with a gently roasted vanilla taste just screamed for me to have another.
“non-IPA” beer has to be pretty darn good to turn my head. Pappy Slokum did it, not once, but twice! Their

But wait folks, that’s not all. Jeff kept bringing me beer “from the back room”. A Douchbag (yep), and Imperial Red, and an altbier. That’s correct, this tiny brewery in Abilene, Texas brews that German-style brown ale (having originated in Düsseldorf) that is quite complex to do, and they nailed it. Needless to say I returned to Pappy Slokum’s and enjoyed more of their beer as well as “talking them up” to a couple of taverns in town and with guys on the golf courses I played. When you find a gem you need to polish it and wear it. Pappy Slokum Brewing Company is one of those gems. So here’s to Jeff, Brian, and Richard – long may you brew. You’ve made a northern New York craft beer lover very happy.

Pappy slokum himself - Bootlegger

Want to learn more about Pappy Slokum Brewing Company? Visit here:  Also learn the story of the real life Pappy Slokum.

For more beer-related facts, alternate facts and opinions from Gerry check out Gerry's Beer Book


A quick note in case you're new to the BOTB blog:We are 7 guys with a penchant for hoppy beers (ergo you will note there are a disproportionate number of IPAs) but we also appreciate and enjoy other styles as well. Our reviews are completely non-scientific and totally subjective. We do begin each with "The Beer Facts" followed by a fairly objective appaisal of the beer's color, pour, aroma, body and taste. We then offer up our "Overall Impression" of the beer based on the collective opinions of the seven of us. We place the beer on a sliding scale from "Leave It On The Shelf" to "I Could Drink That!" to "Can't Get Enough!." The final section is "Comments." These range from on-the-nose to off-the-wall stream of consciousness remarks as we sniff, swish and swallow. 


THE BEER FACTS: BREWER: Cedar Creek Brewing, Seven Points, TX; STYLE: Cream Ale; ABV: 5.0%; IBUs: 17; SRM: 3.4;  MALTS: US 2-Row, Rye, Malt, Flaked Oats; HOPS: Apollo, Bravo

WHAT THE BREWER SAYS: "Cream Ale is a style that is under-appreciated by most of the craft beer world, and we want to change that. Lawn Ranger is a session ale with a solid malt character from the US 2-Row, Rye, and flaked Oats. Rye and Oats are not typical ingredients for cream ale but they allow us to keep the alcohol low and still provide a body to the beer. We use a minimal blend of Apollo and Bravo hops to balance the malts and German Alt yeast. This is the one to drink during the Texas summers or when you want to have more than a couple."

COLOR: Unfiltered wheat

POUR: Medium, white head that dissipates quickly

AROMA: grassy

BODY: light

TASTE: Toward the sweet end with light malt and bread notes as well as hints of clove

OVERALL IMPRESSIONS: Between "leave it on the shelf" and "I Could Drink This"

COMMENTS: "Reminds me a bit of Magic Hat #9; I could drink it in the summer on my patio - after doing some lawn work; Drinkable, but I'm not sure I'd buy it; I get a little ripe banana taste along with some mild spiciness; Pretty light-bodied with a bready taste and not much from the hops."

[In case you were wondering: A cream ale is basically a pale ale, often brewed with adjuncts such as corn and rice to lighten the body, which may undergo a period of lagering after the initial top fermentation. Or it may be combined with a lager. Generally lightly hopped with a pretty subdued hop and malt presence. Like most styles since the inception of the Craft Beer Revolution, however, various brewers may tweak the style with a stronger hop influence. Broadly speaking it is a light bodied, well carbonated beer with a dry finish.]


THE BEER FACTS: BREWER: Spoetzl Brewery, Shiner, TX; STYLE: IPA; ABV: 6.0%; IBUs: 55; HOPS: Crystal, Bravo, Centennial

WHAT THE BREWER SAYS: "The first India Pale Ale in our 106-year history, Wicked Ram IPA combines perfectly balanced floral and citrus flavors with a bold aroma and a crisp, refreshing finish...You'll want to grab this beer by the horns."

COLOR: Cloudy, unfiltered golden wheat

POUR: Little less that Decent head

AROMA: Not a big aroma, a bit of grass or hay

BODY: Medium

TASTE: Citrus, grapefruit and piney. Little bit of caramel on the backend


COMMENTS: "Pretty good - I could definitely drink this; Definitely not a Shiner Bock; Tastes like an IPA; Very acceptable; Nice little malt backbone to it; A light IPA; Interesting to see Shiner go with an IPA since they tend to stick to more mainstream beers; Kind of a session IPA really."


THE BEER FACTS: BREWER: Ranger Creek Brewing and Distillery, San Antonio, TX; STYLE: Red IPA; ABV: 6.3%; IBUs: 65; HOPS: Nugget, Zeus, Chinook, Cascade.

WHAT THE BREWER SAYS: "This homage to one of the Lone Star State's most beloved songwriters is a Red IPA great for Texas weather. It has a strong malt backbone with an assertive bitterness of sticky sweet American hops. Red Headed Stranger pairs with tamales, Texas barbecue, rich blue cheese and poached pears...Hops are a cousin to one of this musicians's favorite plants, so we think he would approve of this delicious beer."

COLOR: Unfiltered red

POUR: Near Guinness Class head

AROMA: Bready, yeasty

BODY: Bit beyond Medium

TASTE: Bread up front then bitter on the end. Nice mesh of malt and hop flavors. While the malt dominates, nice hints of floral and piney hop come through.

OVERALL IMPRESSIONS: Between "I Could Drink This!" and "Can't Get Enough!"

COMMENTS: "This is great stuff; Nice red IPA; Nice and hoppy; Being a Red I'd expect it to be even more malt forward - yet it is surprisingly hoppy; A bit of sorghum up front, kind of molasses-like taste, very pleasant; There's a kind of warm bread dough aroma that is very appealing; I like this beer a lot."


THE BEER FACTS: BREWER: Revolver Brewing Co., Granbury, TX; STYLE: American IPA; ABV: 6.5%; IBUs: 50; HOPS: Apollo, Citra, Centennial, Saphir

WHAT THE BREWER SAYS: "Persistently drinkable, this citrus-forward IPA is brewed with Apollo, Citra, Centennial, and Saphir hops. The beer is pale with enough malt body to support the hop and malt sweetness to bring a pleasant herbal finish."

COLOR: Unfiltered honey

POUR: Decent Head with small, tight bubbles and nice lacing.

AROMA: Strong pine scent

BODY: A bit more than medium

TASTE: Nice hop bitterness with solid citrus and pine notes dominant.

OVERALL IMPRESSIONS: Pretty close to full-blown "Can't Get Enough!"

COMMENTS: "Big citrus-y taste; Not in-your-face IPA, but a definite IPA; Hop forward, not a big malt taste; Body still seems a bit more than medium despite the lack of strong malt; I get a little bit of malt sweetness here, maybe caramel, but not real big; It's a very nice beer; The pine comes out in the aroma, the taste hits some nice tropical fruit notes, grapefruit, maybe a little earthiness there as well; Be nice to be able to get this in the Northeast."


THE BEER FACTS: BREWER: Real Ale Brewing Co., Blanco, TX; STYLE: India Pale Ale; ABV: 6.60%; IBUs: 62; MALT: English Crystal; HOPS: blend of American hops.

WHAT THE BREWER SAYS: "Texas has more buried treasure than any other state. (Seriously, Google it.) That fact was the inspiration for Lost Gold. English Crystal malts give this IPA a rich golden-orange hue and a subtle, yet firm, malt background. Bright and citrusy with grapefruit notes, Lost Gold features an abundance of American hops that always mark the spot. Don't worry, however, you won't have to hunt for this treasured favorite. It's available year round all over Texas."

COLOR: Unfiltered honey-orange

POUR: Somewhat beyond Decent Head

AROMA: Somewhat of a butterscotch aroma

BODY: Medium

TASTE: Sweet up front with a butterscotch/toffee sweetness vibe. Somewhat unique flavor, bright, citrusy. Has a kind of session IPA feel to it

OVERALL IMPRESSIONS: Just below the "I Could Drink This" rating, though definitely drinkable.

COMMENTS: "A little too sweet for me; I don't really care for it, maybe a bit too fruity or something; I don't mind it, I'd drink it; Has a kind of a light vibe, I'd like a little more malt I guess to balance the hops; It's an okay beer but wouldn't be my first choice."


THE BEER FACTS: BREWER: Karbach Brewing Co., Houston, TX; STYLE: India Pale Ale; ABV: 6,6%; IBUs: 70; MALTS: 2 Row Pale, Medium Crystal, Dark Crystal, Munich, Biscuit; HOPS: German Magnum, Cascade, Amarillo, Citra, Simcoe, East Kent Goldings

WHAT THE BREWER SAYS: "He lurks in the shadows, waiting in bold anticipation. He's surprisingly bitter. Bitter about something. Legend has it that he feasts on those with fresh hops coursing through their veins. This dry-hopped, Texas IPA has a flavor as defiant as the Hopadillo himself. It's packed with the bracing bitterness of hops from around the world that this creature craves. He's comin' to get ya. You've been warned..."

COLOR: Unfiltered amber

POUR: Big, bold near Guinness-class head


BODY: Between Medium and Full

TASTE: Grapefruit, pine, with a biscuit-y malt for balance - maybe a bit of caramel, but fruit-forward hops dominate at first then kind of balances out. Moderate bitterness.

OVERALL IMPRESSIONS: Very near "Can't Get Enough!"

COMMENTS: "Hop forward - balanced by the malt; Complex; My favorite so far; Tastes like another one; Interesting mix of hops flavors here - piney, citrus but maybe some floral; The aroma is faint, not the most pleasant, and doesn't really do the taste justice - by that I mean it tastes a lot better than it smells."


THE BEER FACTS: BREWER: Deep Ellum Brewing Co., Dallas, TX; STYLE: American IPA; ABV: 7%; IBUs: 70; HOPS: American hops

WHAT THE BREWER SAYS: "For an IPA to bear our hometown name, it better be potent. So we loaded it with our favorite American hops for a bitter punch. And with some over-the-top tropical fruit, citrus, pine and floral aromas and flavors, you;ve got one big Texas IPA, deserving of the Deep Ellum name."

COLOR: Unfiltered amber

POUR: Near Guinness-class head, well carbonated with tight bubbles. Long lasting head.

AROMA: Not a strong aroma, a bit of pine and citrus

BODY:Close to full bodied

TASTE: Nice hop bitterness early on, tropical fruit, pine, bit of orange peel, grapefruit with a butterscotch sweetness for balance.


COMMENTS: "Butterscotch sweetness; Hits you hard on the front - mellows on the tail-end; Gets your attention right away; You get the bitterness of the hops early, then there's that sort of caramel malt sweetness that comes through; Nice IPA, kind of unique, not really West Coast nor East Coast; Interesting mix of flavors here, they work nicely."


THE BEER FACTS: BREWER: Community Beer Company, Dallas, TX; STYLE: India Pale Ale; ABV: 8.6%; IBUs: 85; HOPS: Mosaic

WHAT THE BREWER SAYS: "This is not your average IPA. From the incredible nose, to the amazing finish, this IPA is one that both session drinkers and beer nerds alike will love...The beer gets its name from a new hop variety named 'Mosaic,' which is predominantly where the immense, raw hop aroma and flavor is derived...The word 'Mosaic' is also representative of the diverse range of individuals that make up our community."

COLOR: Copper

POUR: Approaching Guinness-Class head

AROMA: Dank - biggest nose of the day. The aroma bursts out with the pour.

BODY: Relatively full-bodied

TASTE: Big grapefruit/cirtus/tropical fruit flavors to start, then a pleasant caramel malt foundation comes through


COMMENTS: "A pretty darn good beer - I love it; Enough malt to give it some heft (depth of character); True to the style; Really nice hop/malt balance - neither overwhelms the other, they work in harmony to give the beer a nice complexity; Great beer."


THE BEER FACTS: BREWER: Rahr and Sons Brewing, Fort Worth, TX; STYLE: Double IPA (Limited Release); ABV: 9.2%; IBUs: 85 

WHAT THE BREWER SAYS: "Named after Fritz' German Wire-hair Pointer, Schnapps, Drahthaar is a big, bold, assertive Double IPA. It is everything you would expect and unexpect. Hops dominate, but a sweet maltiness is there just enough to compliment and balance...A hop lover's dream. This puppy is double dry hopped to give an aroma that will linger with your taste buds until you open the next bottle. A dose of sugar is added to the alcohol, while letting the hops show their true potential."

COLOR: Unfiltered tangerine peel

POUR: Decent pour with good lacing

AROMA: Butterscotch mostly, kind of sweet aroma

BODY: Full bodied

TASTE: Sweet taste of butterscotch and tang (sort of artificial orange taste)

OVERALL IMPRESSIONS: Between "Leave it" and "I Could Drink This" - One of those we'd order in a bar if it was between this or a mega brew.

COMMENTS: "Hoppiness almost disguises the alcohol; Off the wall with the alcohol; I'd leave it over most of the ones we've tasted today; Leaves a kind of off-taste on the tongue; Too sweet for me; I know Rahr and Sons brew mostly German style beers so this is a bit out of their wheelhouse perhaps; Not really a fan." 


THE BEER FACTS: BREWER: Karbach Brewing Co., Houston, TX; STYLE: Double IPA; ABV: 9.5%; IBUs: 85; MALTS: 2 Row Pale, Medium and Dark Crystal, Munich, Biscuit; HOPS: German Magnum, Amarillo, Citra, Cascade, East Kent Goldings, Hallertau-Mittelfreuh, Sapphir.

WHAT THE BREWER SAYS: "It's a job! And a hazardous one at that. Benefits, you ask? I hardly think so. But the show must go on. So, it's with bravado that the Rodeo Clown takes his place in the arena lights. Whether or not he's insane is not important right now. It's with grit and intensity that the Clown steps in the path of almost certain destruction."

COLOR: Deep amber

POUR: Near Guinness Class Head with tight bubble

AROMA: Strong alcohol aroma dominates

BODY: Full

TASTE: Sweet candy flavor, horehound, and alcohol

OVERALL IMPRESSIONS: Like the last one, a bit beyond "Leave it" - we'd take it over anything Bud makes, but that sets the bar pretty low.

COMMENTS: "It's a strong one; Overpowering taste is alcohol; Sweet, overly so, big beer; Similar to the last one in that it has an almost cloying sweetness despite the abundance of hops used and the 85 IBUs; It's that kind of candy-like sweetness that I just don't care for."

That's it for the Texas beers. Some really terrific beers in this bunch. Below is a rough ranking of our favorites to our least favorite. 

1. Mosaic IPA - Community Beer Co., Dallas, TX - Great nose, great taste. Nice balance of hops and malt, the complexity of taste helped it win the day.
2. Deep Ellum IPA - Deep Ellum Brewing Co., Dallas, TX - Nice bitter bite with big hop up front followed by a pleasant butterscotch/toffee maltness.
3. Hopadillo IPA - Karbach Brewing Co., Houston, TX - Right up there with the first two, nicely balanced, very tasty IPA.
4. Ironhead IPA - Revolver Brewing Co., Granbury, TX - Another terrific IPA, this one not quite as balanced as the the others, more hop-dominant, but a very good beer.
5. Red Headed Stranger Red IPA - Ranger Creek Brewing and Distillery, San Antonio, TX - We really liked this a lot. Being a red it was a bit more malt forward, but it still brought a nice hop finish. A nice bready maltiness.
6. Shiner Wicked Ram IPA - Spoetzl Brewery, Shiner, TX - A very nice effort from a brewery known more for middle of the road lagers. A very acceptable IPA, though nothing that will blow your socks off.
7. Lost Gold IPA - Real Ale Brewing Co., Blanco, TX - We found this to be a bit too much on the fruity/sweet side. Just kind of okay.
8. The Lawn Ranger Cream Ale - Cedar Creek Brewery, Seven Points, TX - Gerry snagged this one primarily for the name. Since cream ales are not quite our thing, our evaluation might not be the most fair. Drinkable, but not our choice of styles.
9. Drahthaar Double IPA - Rahr and Sons, Fort Worth, TX - We found this to be too sweet and a bit overwhelmed by the alcohol.
10. Rodeo Clown Double IPA - Karbach Brewing Co., Houston, TX - See above.


This month we ended up with an embarrassment of riches. Not only did Gerry generously provide us with a bunch of Texas brews, Yonkers Brewery sent us a few beers to check out. Alas, how could we refuse? So without further ado, our thoughts on some Yonkers brew:


THE BEER FACTS: BREWER: Yonkers Brewing Co., Yonkers, NY; STYLE: Kolsch; ABV; 4.7%; IBUs: 23;

WHAT THE BREWER SAYS: "A clean, crisp, delicately-balanced beer usually with a very subtle fruit and hop character. Subdued maltiness throughout leads into a pleasantly well-attenuated and refreshing finish."

COLOR: Pale gold

POUR: Decent white head

AROMA: Faint aromas of grass and hay, maybe a bit sweet-smelling

BODY: Fairly light bodied

TASTE: Subtle fruit and malt characters. A bit bready with understated hops

OVERALL IMPRESSIONS: In all honesty, this is not a style we would, as a group who prefer hoppier beers or big stouts and porters, seek out.

COMMENTS: "Not a fan of the style - having said that, this would make for a refreshing beer; If you are a fan of the Kolsch style, I suspect you would really like this; The flavors are subtle, but it's a pleasant beer."


THE BEER FACTS: BREWER: Yonkers Brewing Co., Yonkers, NY; STYLE: Northeast IPA; ABV: 6.5%; IBUs: 55; MALT: Oats; HOPS: Simcoe, Nelson Sauvin, Belma, Eureka, Amarillo, Mosaic

WHAT THE BREWER SAYS: "Fruity and refreshing."

COLOR: Unfiltered wheat

POUR: Somewhat decent head with some lacing

AROMA: Floral with hints of citrus

BODY: Between Medium and Full

TASTE: Bright citrus, tropical fruit flavors dominate with a dry finish

OVERALL IMPRESSIONS: Pretty close to "Can't Get Enough!"

COMMENTS: "You can really taste the Mosaic hops; Delicious; Nice citrus/grapefruit/pine taste; Not much of a malt presence, but a real nice, refreshing beer; Crisp; I'm a fan, wish we could get this around here; One of those IPAs that are just plain pleasant, you could settle into a few of them; Good beer."


THE BEER FACTS: BREWER: Yonkers Brewing Co., Yonkers, NY; STYLE: American IPA; ABV: 6.0%; IBUs: 60

WHAT THE BREWER SAYS: "A decidedly hoppy and bitter, moderately strong American pale ale, showcasing modern American or New World hop varieties. The balance is hop-forward, with a clean fermentation profile, dryish finish, and clean, supporting malt allowing a creative range of hop character to shine through."

COLOR: Hazy gold

POUR: Decent white head

AROMA: Citrus, grapefruit

BODY: Bit shy of Medium

TASTE: Big hop bitterness, juicy citrus and tropical fruits with mild malt backbone.

OVERALL IMPRESSION; Pretty close to "Can't Get Enough!

COMMENTS; "Kind of a lighter version of Sunbeam; I get a mix of citrus, grapefruit, maybe some pineapple in there with a bit of pine; Nice, solid IPA; Not a lot of malt, the hops definitely dominate; Another good one from Yonkers; Body's a bit light, makes it a pretty easy-drinker; I like it."


THE BEER FACTS: BREWER: Yonkers Brewing Co., Yonkers, NY; STYLE: Double IPA; ABV: 8.5%; IBUs: 75; HOPS: NW Pacific hops

WHAT THE BREWER SAYS: "Intensely hoppy pale and drinkable strong pale ale, brewed with 25 pounds of Pacific NW hops."

COLOR: Sort of a gold/copper almost orange

POUR: Decent Head

AROMA: Grassy with a bit of grapefruit

BODY: Between Medium and Full

TASTE: Citrus, grapefruit, tropical fruit, with a kind of added spiciness, bit of pepper


COMMENTS; "More balanced than the previous two with a bit more malt; Not real sweet, though, like some of the Doubles out there; Hops still dominate, but there's some maltiness there as well; There's also a kind of peppery, spicy taste - subtle - but I like it, it works well with the intense hoppiness; Really tasty double."

Yonkers Brewing fared well with us. Three out of the four we sampled fit nicely into our particular taste wheelhouse. While we appreciated the Kolsch, that's just not a style we would seek out. But the three IPAs were fantastic. The Double IPA we liked much more than any of the Texas doubles we tried. It had a nice balance that made it very drinkable and the alcohol was not overpowering, but added some complexity to the overall taste. The two IPAs were also very good - much more hop-forward with lots of grapefruit/hoppy bite to them.

Wonder what we had to say about a particular beer? Check out our BOTB Tested Beers page for an extensive list of all the beers we've reviewed and a quick 4 star rating.

Next month - New York State Beers.


The BOTB Guys