|Sherman On the Mount|
|A-B's pseudo-craft beers|
|Don't be fooled!|
Now certainly AB/IB has a right to buy up whatever breweries are willing to sell their souls to them. I believe in capitalism. My problem comes when AB/IB uses rather underhanded tactics which make it difficult for a true craft beer enthusiast to find real craft beer. While in Florida recently I walked into a bar which had ten or twelve taps and I was psyched that I would find a good beer there. Once I got close to the taps though I saw the following: Bud, Bud Light, Coors light, Stella Artois, Land Shark Lager, Blue Moon, Shock Top, Michelob Light, Ultra, Miller and Natural. So eight of the ten taps were AB/IB brews and the other two were Millers/Coors. In other words the bar was essentially dominated by the Big Two beer conglomerates. And what kind of a choice is offered here? Every one of those is a lager or (shudder) a light lager with the possible exception of Blue Moon and Shock Top which are both ostensibly Belgian whites. Where's the Pale Ale? The IPA? The Porter? The Stout? Anything? Beuller?
I ordered a Merlot.
I recently checked on the traffic to this blog and was pleasantly surprised to find we have an impressive readership that extends around the world. So if you're new to BOTB - welcome! Please take a moment and sign in as a follower and feel free to comment (good or bad) on what you read here. Let me take a minute to familiarize you with us (If you've read this before, feel free to skip ahead to the ratings). We are a group of guys who, in a moment of divine inspiration came up with the idea for a beer club. All of us were fans of craft beers and particularly hoppy beers. We decided to meet once a month. The idea was to choose a style of beer (with the notable exception of light beers) and everyone was to pick a craft beer within that style to rate. The idea for the blog was a bit of an afterthought, but it seemed to make sense and I, frustrated writer that I am, thought that it might be fun. Since then, we have caught the eye (thanks to Dan, our intrepid PR guy) of a number of breweries - Middle Ages, Harpoon, Leinenkugel, Sam Adams and Saranac to name a few - who have provided us with samples to rate. Our rating system has evolved to one which is more anecdotal and subjective than empirical because taste is subjective. We try to be objective in those areas where it makes sense: color, head, aroma. When it comes to taste we attempt to describe as best we can, but the key part of our review is in the "comments" section. Here we wax philosophically on the merits of said beer. I take some grammatical liberties here for the sake of expediency, enclosing the entire group of comments in one set of quotation marks and separating rater's comments with a semi-colon.
Oh, and I usually have a section called "Sherman on the Mount" (my last name is Sherman - get it?) in which I generally bitch about the mega-breweries and light beer and anything else that comes to mind.
This month's meeting was at the Rileys. Their home was beautifully decorated for the season and the BOTB guys gathered in their finished basement - essentially as close to Heaven on Earth as any red-blooded male could hope to find; equipped with a flat screen TV tuned perpetually to ESPN, a pool table and a fully stocked bar. We began the afternoon with some of Dan's amazing whiskey-marinated cherries. These are sour cherries picked at their peak in July and allowed to languish in a marinate of whiskey and sugar. Yum!
We used the rating form we've been using, judging on the basis of aroma, color, flavor, mouthfeel, overall impressions and then the comments (often the most revealing section).
THE BOTB GUYS OPINE: To quote Frank Zappa: "Watch out where those Huskies go, and don't you eat that yellow snow." However, you might want to reconsider that if the yellow snow comes from Rogue Brewery. Takes a lot of guts and an extreme confidence in your beer to name it for a euphemism for dog urine; but when it's this good, you can call it whatever you want.
Aroma: Rich grapefruit hoppy scent right up front.
Color: Pale honey blonde.
Flavor: In a word: delicious! A full-on hops assault. They don't mess around here.
Overall Impression: Can't Get Enough of That Wonderful Stuff!
Comments: "That's why I drink beer!; Deee-licious!; This beer confirms my existence!; Boy that's a good beer!" (A full-on exclamation point assault!)
So, to recap: -As a group, we weren't crazy about the Abita or the Weyerbacher.
-Some felt that the Abita had a bit of a skunky aroma and taste similar to what we experienced in an earlier session with Tanner's Jack. The Weyerbacher was not bad but not one we'd go out and buy.
-Leinenkugel we were pleasantly surprised with. Not a hoppy brew, yet it has a nice toasty, malty, cozy flavor reminiscent of a roaring fire on a cold winter night.
-Otter Creek we all liked. Nice, hoppy presence in a red ale.
-Santa's Private Reserve, Yellow Snow and Grindstone's Hoppy Holidays Black IPA all scored as excellent. Beers we would buy year round were they available.
The BOTB Guys