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Monday, December 9, 2013


On The Road (Again, Again)
-Ron gets Revolutionary in Chicago
-We Find a Mexican Beer With Hops - In South Carolina, No Less
-WOB is coming to Destiny - OMG!

Here at BOTB we have an agenda. That agenda is to promote craft beer. We are located in Central New York near Syracuse (Go Orange!!) so we like to shine a spotlight on local breweries as much as we can. Having said that, we love to check out craft brews from across the country. Distribution of craft beers is a fickle thing. Unlike the mega-breweries (Bud, Miller, Coors) which are universally distributed throughout the US and beyond, most craft breweries do not have the clout (i.e. money) to get their beers distributed beyond a particular region. You can walk into any bar in the country and be pretty much assured that they will have a plethora of InBev products, as well as Miller/Coors. But try to find Ithaca Brewing's Flower Power in Florida, or Cigar City's Jai Alai in Idaho. I don't think so. A relative few (Sierra Nevada, Samuel Adams) are able to distribute nationwide and make their way into the big chain restaurants, but that leaves a vast array of great beers out there that never make it to our part of the country. Worse still, never make it to our taste buds. Ergo, when we travel, we enjoy seeking out these regional treasures and giving them a little shout-out here.

Recently, Ron and Vicky took a trip that wended its way through Chicago and ended up in Myrtle Beach, SC, where they met up with Les and me. While there, Ron picked up Sweetwater IPA and I grabbed some Aviator HogWild IPA, both of which will be reviewed later.

While in Chicago, Ron filed the following review of Revolution Brewpub.

You Say You Want a Revolution

While in Chicago, Vicky and I had the good fortune of stopping at Revolution Brewpub in Logan Square. They have a production brewery a couple blocks away that provides them with their flagship beers and a smaller brewery within the brewpub that concocts the seasonal and specialty beers. A tour of the brewpub facility left me with a feeling that the brewers really enjoy their jobs and have a good sense of their ingredients. Each style of beer well represents that style without being "over the top." I started out with a pint of Red Skull, an Imperial Red Ale with whole Cascade hops, then dry hopped with Citra and Cascade hops. It had a nice big hops aroma, but the taste was balanced with caramel sweetness. Vicky got a Workingwoman Brown, a hopped brown ale. I gave it a thumbs up as well. Since we we were going to the Art Institute after our visit to the brewpub, I knew I couldn't have a pint of each beer they have on tap. I did have samples of: Anti-Hero IPA, Coup D'Etat (a Belgian farmhouse style saison), Double Fist (a double pale ale), Georgia Gene (a German-style Rauchbier), Loganberry, Oktoberfest Revolution, Chicago Smoke and Penguin Hops.

The Penguin Hops was interesting in that it was brewed with an unknown hops variety grown at the nearby Shedd's Aquarium. The proceeds of the sale of this beer are turned back to the aquarium.
I would have loved to spend the day with pints of all but the Loganberry and Oktoberfest - not that they weren't good, but not my styles. In addition to their fine lineup of taps, there are 65 bottled beers and 9 ciders and fruit beers in the coolers.
Bacon Fat Popcorn
As for the food... We started with an appetizer, a large bowl of "Bacon Fat Popcorn." Popcorn was popped in bacon fat, topped with crumbled bacon and shredded cheese. It was so delicious, but then the meal. I got the market fish and Vicky had the smoked trout salad - both outstanding. If all that wasn't enough, the desserts were yet to come. I had a pecan blonde brownie with bourbon ice cream and butterscotch drizzled over the top. Vicky had the orange cheesecake on a bacon/gingersnap crust topped with orange marmalade. Both desserts were decadent.

Let me tell you, it is a must stop when you go to Chicago. The beers, the food, and the staff will leave you with fond memories for a very long time.

A Mexican Beer With Hops
 (And We Don't Mean With Jumping Beans)

So, when The Most Interesting Man In The World tells us he doesn't normally drink beer, but when he does, he drinks Dos Equis, why should that make a real beer aficionado want to run out and buy Dos Equis? He just told us he doesn't really drink beer. I mean, really, if someone said, "I never drink wine, but I think you should buy that reddish colored one over there," would any self-respecting oenophile take that person's advice? So why should I listen to a guy who admits he rarely drinks beer? Sheesh! That commercial has bugged me from the first time it aired. There is more than a hint of snobbery as the guy looks down his aristocratic nose at the riffraff known as "beer drinkers." And I, as a proud, card-carrying member of said riffraff, resent that. Truth be told, with the explosion of craft beers, there is now such a wide and rich variety of styles and tastes in beer, why would you settle for anything as pedestrian as Dos Equis? It may be better than, say, Corona, but is that saying much? We cerevisaphiles turn our collective noses up to such nonsense. Especially now that I have discovered that there is indeed good beer to be found South of the border!

While in South Carolina of all places, Ron and I discovered a terrific beer out of Mexico. We were in a seafood restaurant called Carlos' And Charlie's and checking their beer list. There wasn't a lot to choose from but then we saw something called Day of the Dead IPA. We gave it a shot and we were pleasantly surprised. Most beers out of Mexico follow the typical light lager profile found in the mega-brews in the US. As I later found out, Day of the Dead Brewery is:

-The first fully developed, fully accessible craft beer to come out of Mexico
-Mexican owned, Mexican brewed
-Located 100 yards from the US border in Tacate, Mexico
-Capacity of 75,000 barrels with plenty of room to expand.

Their IPA is 6.8% ABV and an impressive 83 IBUs. It's brewed with 2 Row, Munich, Carapils, and Caramel malts plus Centennial, Cascade, Fuggle, Saaz, Goldings, and Willamette hops.
It's a terrific beer. Nicely balanced despite the high IBUs. They also produce an Amber Ale, a Pale Ale, a Hefeweizen, a Blonde Ale and a Porter.

WOB at Destiny!

Strolled past World of Beers site at Destiny USA in Syracuse the other day. It's pretty much ready to roll. There was a group of future employees, apparently, inside getting schooled in the finer points of beer. Opening day is set for December 16th. Just took a look at their line-up of beers and it's pretty impressive. Check it out here:
The bottled beer selection is unparalleled - broken down by country, and then in the US, by state. 37 beers (and cider) on tap. 
May have to do a little extra Christmas shopping at the mall starting the 16th.

(Bring Your Favorite Beer) 

Most everyone has a favorite beer. Whether it's Bud or Miller Lite or a beer that actually has hops and malt in it, most beer drinkers have that default beer they grab when they just want a good beer. So we decided this month to have  a "favorite beer" competition at the BOTB November meeting. This created a bit of a dilemma: there are now so many good beers out there it is tough to choose the favorite. Add to this the fact that we really didn't want to bring a bunch of beers we've already rated. As a result, we ended up bringing beer we really liked but hadn't rated. Otherwise we might have ended up having, say, four or five Flower
Powers, one of my personal favorites. Some of us had been traveling and brought back a tasty brew we discovered, while others of us actually followed the original premise. As a result, we had seven darn good beers without a loser in the bunch.

Now, we all had a pony in the race, so to speak, since we brought something we had personally endorsed as a top notch brew, so we figured we'd better go back to our old blind tasting model and see where the chips fell in the end.
The order of finish will be disclosed at the end, and the tasting order was random.

It will come as no surprise to anyone who has followed this blog that all are IPAs!

Just Beer Project - Alchemy and Science,  Burlington, VT
An independently operating subsidiary of Boston Beer Company

The Beer Facts: STYLE: American IPA; ABV: 4.8%; IBUs: 45; MALTS: 2-Row Malted Barley, Bohemian Floor Malted Barley, Honey Malt; HOPS: Chinook, Ahtanum, Citra, Cascade. OF INTEREST: Just Beer's goal is to brew good craft beer that is under 5% ABV.

What the Brewer Says: "It's not 2,000 IBUs. The hops weren't harvested from the grounds of a temple in the heart of a jungle that you've never heard of. This beer won't change your attitude.We're not trying to scare you or numb your tongue. You just drink it. It tastes great. Just IPA."

Color: Golden honey

Pour: Decent off-white head

Aroma: hoppy

Body: Medium

Taste: There are notes of licorice, a little barley, and a hint of grapefruit. 

Overall Impression: Midway between "I could drink this: and "Can't get enough."

Comments: "I'd drink this during a football game; I detect a bit of a licorice/horehound taste: There is a nice aftertaste; It's balanced; There's not a big malt taste; It has a clean finish; It seems like a session beer; The taste on the end makes you want to have another - sort of a "re-taste" session beer; It would be a good lunch beer, when you would still be good for the afternoon; A lot can be said about this beer..."

Hog Wild IPA
Aviator Brewing Company, Faquay-Varina, NC

The Beer Facts: STYLE: IPA; ABV: 6.7%; IBUs: 50; SRM: 5; MALTS: Pale Ale and Vienna; HOPS: Chinook, Columbus, Cascade - Dry hopped with Magnum, Williamette, and Amarillo.

What the Brewer Says: "...A very hoppy and refreshing ale."

Color: Golden Honey

Pour: A very nice head, with decent retention.

Aroma: Pretty malty with a little spice

Body: Better than medium

Taste: Well toward bitter. It has notes of malt, bread, citrusy hops and a little nut taste.

Overall Impression: Nearly all the way to "Can't get enough."

Comments: "It seems to have a higher alcohol content than the previous sample; It has a good malt backbone; It hits all the notes; This is really good - I like it; I'd like to be able to drink, and drink, and drink this; It has a nice bitter finish."

60 Minute IPA
Dogfish Head Brewery, Milton, Delaware

The Beer Facts: STYLE: IPA; ABV: 6.0%; IBUs: 60; MALTS: NA; HOPS: Blend of Northwest hops

What the Brewer Says: "60 Minute is brewed with a slew of great Northwest hops. A powerful but balanced East Coast IPA with a lot of citrusy hop character. It's the session beer for hardcore enthusiasts!"

Color: Golden honey.

Pour: Much better than "Decent" head, but not quite Guinness class

Aroma: Light hops aroma.

Body: A bit less than medium.

Taste: On the bitter side of balanced. There are notes of bread and nuts.

Overall Impression: "I could drink this"

Comments: "It's a little carbonated; I get a little bit of a pilsner vibe; You get a little flavor at the front - then sail right through to the end; It reminds me of Saranac Pale Ale; There are no strong notes of anything; It's not a big beer; It doesn't knock my socks off, but it is a decent beer."

Centennial IPA
Founder Brewing Company, Grand Rapids, MI

The Beer Facts: STYLE: India Pale Ale; ABV: 7.2%; IBUs: 65; MALTS: NA; HOPS: Centennial (I assume); OF NOTE: This beer will soon be available in 12-pack cans.

What the Brewer Says: "Get ready to bask in the glory of the frothy head's floral bouquet. Relish the citrus accents from the abundance of dry hopping. This one's sweet, yet balanced. Malty undertones shake hands with the hop character for a finish that never turns too bitter."

Color: Amber/red

Pour: A high, off-white colored head that quickly dissipates.

Aroma: Spicy/hoppy

Body: A bit beyond medium.

Taste: Leans to the bitter, with strong notes of malt to balance it out. Tastes of bread and toffee were also detected.

Overall Impression: "Can't Get Enough!"

Comments: "That is a nice, full-flavored beer; It stays with you; There is a nice, strong malt backbone; It explodes in your mouth; And it stays right with you; Man, I like this; It is certainly not a lawn mower beer; I'd call it balanced - with strong alcohol taste." 

Sweetwater IPA
Sweetwater Brewing Company, Atlanta, Georgia

The Beer Facts: STYLE: India Pale Ale; ABV: 6.3%; IBUs: 65; MALT: 2-Row, Munich, Wheat, 70/80; HOPS: Chinook, Cascade, Columbus - finishes with Simcoe, US Golding; AWARDS: Best IPA in the Country - Judges Choice AJC, March '09.

What the Brewer Says: "This mammoth India Pale Ale is loaded with intense hop character and subjected to an extensive dry-hopping process. Our IPA is unfiltered, leavimg all the natural flavors intact. The Beer You've Been Training For."

Color: Unfiltered amber

Pour: Very large off-white head that dissipates quickly.

Aroma: A little yeast aroma, but you really have to breathe in deep to get it

Body: Medium to full

Taste: Citrusy hops with notes of bread and grapefruit.

Overall Impression: Can't Get Enough

Comments: "This is good; WWGD (What Would Gerry Do?) Answer - Open another one; You could have several of these; It's a little floral - almost as much as Flower Power; This is a good year 'round beer; If it is one that is sold around here, I will definitely buy it; It has the taste of a West Coast IPA."

Southern Tier IPA
Southern Tier Brewing Co., Lakewood, NY

The Beer Facts: STYLE: American IPA; ABV: 7.3%; IBUs: "Medium-high"; MALTS: 4 varieties; HOPS: 4 varieties; YEAST: Ale yeast

What the Brewer Says: "The India Pale Ale we brew is our version of a brewing legacy ... (an) intrepid ale, triple-hopped on its journey to your gleass for a truly aromatic experience."

Color: Golden light honey/copper

Pour: Generous off-white head

Aroma: Nice hoppy aroma

Taste: Well towardthe bitter/hoppy end of the sectrum with notes of citrus/grapefruit, toffee and pine.

Overall Impression: Can't Get Enough!

Comments: "OMG; Oh that's good; It has a spiciness to it; It hangs int the mouth; It has a complex taste - it runs the gamut of flavors as you let it sit on your tongue; There is a taste that stays with you; This is one delicious beer - you could easily drink this one, and another just like it; This is a really good, good beer."

Middle Ages X Double Indian Pale Ale
Middle Ages Brewery, Syracuse, NY

The Beer Facts: STYLE: Double IPA; ABV: 10.00%; IBUs: Not listed but described as "an intense hop bitterness."; HOPS: Ten addition of American hops.

What the Brewer Says: "Brewed in the style of an American Double IPA in celebration of our 10th anniversary. This beer is golden in color, has medium to full body, intense hop bitterness, flavor and aroma. Ten additions of American hops are made throughout the brewing process."

Color: Golden to amber

Pour: Little to Decent off-white head

Aroma: Banana and clove

Body: Well toward full

Taste: Banana initially with a nice hop bitterness

Overall Impression: Between "I could drink this" and "Can't get enough."

Comments: "This is a big one; You shouldn't operate machinery while drinking this beer; It has lots of alcohol, for sure, but it is balanced so it hides the alcohol; It just sits on my tongue; It tastes like a Middle Ages beer; It is English Ale-ish; I really like it; The bittering lasts through the swallowing; I like it a lot, but I couldn't drink a lot of it; It is very strong; It tastes like a "hunting club" beer."

And the Winner Is...

As mentioned previously, there were no losers in this bunch. Any one of them would be a welcome sight on any tap. But we set out with the idea that we would see which was our collective favorite. Once we had tried all seven but before we knew what they were, each of us ranked the beers 1 - 7 with #1 as our favorite etc. In this manner, as with golf,  low score wins. Some of us tried to keep notes throughout, others preferred to wing it. The results are as follows:

1. A 3-way tie for first - Middle Ages x, Sweetwater IPA, and Founders Centennial IPA all ended up with the same low score - decidedly under par.

2. (or 4th) - Southern Tier IPA - Interesting when you re-read the comments on this one, which were raves. I believe the others all garnered some "1's" while nearly everyone picked this one as their second favorite. Still well below par.

3. (or 5th) - Aviator Hogwild IPA - A nice, balanced brew. Slightly under par

4. (or 6th) - Just IPA from the Just Beer Project - Very good session IPA. Low ABV, nice hoppy flavor. Par.

5. (or 7th) - Dogfish Head  60 Minute IPA - This surprised me as I thought this beer would score higher. Once again, as unmitigated hopheads, we tend to lean toward those brews that are hop forward and 60 Minute is bit more balanced. A bit over par.

Until next time...
The BOTB Guys

Friday, October 11, 2013

A Little Monster Mash

A Little Traveling Music, If You Please

In a sort of everything-old-is-new-again twist, the growth of craft brewing has resulted in the return of the small, regional brewery - those breweries whose beers barely make it outside the borders of a few counties, much less across state lines. As we travel about the country, we make it a point to find brew pubs and micro-breweries along the way. Some of these bottle, some don't. The quality and style vary greatly, but it's always fun to try different beers.

I always try to jot down notes on the beers I try along the way. These notes get stashed in pockets, backpacks, and suitcases. I recently combed through all the nooks and crannies of our various travel gear and have culled some of these jottings. What follows, in no particular order, are my quick and dirty impressions of some of the beers I tried in a recent trip to the Midwest.

Points to remember:

1. I'm a hophead so I tend to be attracted to hoppier beers
2. However, I do like good, full-flavored Stouts and Porters
3. But I'm not really a fan of Belgians, wheats or fruit beers (or anything with the word "light" or "lite" in the title).

With that in mind, here are some beers you might, or might not, wish to try if you happen to find them.
Key:   **** = Keep 'em coming - great beer
           ***   = Very drinkable brew - I like it
           **     = Okay. If it were this or Bud/Miller/Coors etc. I'd get this.
           *       = Really?

THE PLACE: Lakefront Brewery - Milkaukee, Wisconsin
THE BEER: Fixed Gear American Red Ale
THE BASICS: STYLE: Red Ale; ABV: 6.8%; IBUs: 54; MALTS: 2-Row Pale, Caramel; HOPS: Chinook, Cascade;
MY TAKE: Surprisingly hoppy red ale. Nice malty backbone with hints of caramel and coffee.

THE PLACE: Rock Bottom Brewery - Milwaukee, Wisconsin 
THE BEER: Naughty Scot Scotch Ale
THE BASICS: STYLE: Scotch Ale; ABV: 7.2%; IBUs: 20;
MY TAKE: Malty with banana/clove taste and aroma. A hint of licorice.
THE PLACE: Rock Bottom Brewery - Milaukee, Wisconsin
THE BEER: Rock Bottom India Pale Ale
THE BASICS: STYLE: India Pale Ale; ABV: 6.5%; IBUs: 60; MALT: 2-Row Pale; HOPS: Yakima; HOW SERVED: On tap
MY TAKE: Cloudy, honey colored. Fuller bodied than most IPAs. Floral hops aroma, nice bitter finish. Not killer hoppy - but good. Very smooth

THE PLACE: Rock Bottom Brewery - again!
THE BEER: Rocktoberfest
THE BASICS: STYLE: Oktoberfest; ABV: 5.7%; IBUs: 24
MY TAKE: Subtle hop, hint of banana. Classic Oktoberfest
By the way, we had dinner there and had the baby brats and the Rocktoberfest Mac & Cheese - very good.

THE PLACE: Herkimer Pub and Brewery - Minneapolis, Minnesota
THE BASICS: STYLE: Rye Pale Ale; ABV: 5.5%; IBUs: 43; HOPS: Junga; MALTS: Rye
MY TAKE: Unfiltered copper color. Medium body with a dry finish. Mild hop presence. Easy drinking.
-I have in my notes: "They are out of the Lutz IPA!!!!"-

THE PLACE: Town Hall Brewery, Minneapolis, MN
THE BEER: Masala Mama IPA
THE BASICS:  STYLE: India Pale Ale; ABV: 8.2%; IBUs: 86; MALTS: American malts; HOPS:Amarillo, Cascade, Centennial, Crystal, Mt. Hood, Warrior
MY TAKE: Delicious! Nice hop nose with lots of grapefruit/pine hop aroma and taste. Balanced with a strong malt backing makes it less bitter than one would expect at 86 IBUs.

THE PLACE: Twin City Grill, Minneapolis, MN
THE BEER: Surly Furious
THE BASICS:  STYLE: American India Pale Ale; ABV: 6.2%; IBUs: 99; MALT: Pale malt, Golden Promise; Aromatic; Medium Crystal; Roasted Barely; HOPS: Warrior, Ahtanum, Simcoe, Amarillo;
HOW SERVED: On tap - later in pint cans
MY TAKE: Great beer. Nice hop finish. Caramel/toffee taste balances the hops. Nice, complex beer. Terrific. So good I bought a couple of four-packs to bring home.

Daniel and I anticipate some good beers (okay, I do. Daniel's
hoping for some good chocolate milk)

THE PLACE: Obed And Isaac's Microbrewery and Eatery, Springfield Illinois

-Got to try 5 beers here-

Here's my Fast Five From Obed And Isaac's

Beer 1

THE BEER: Upside Brown Ale
THE BASICS: STYLE: Brown Ale; ABV: 5.5% (no other info available); HOW SERVED: On tap
MY TAKE: Molasses, toffee, hint of coffee, bread, yeast. Nice beer. Easy drinking.

Beer 2

THE BEER: Silly Pants Stout
MY TAKE: Hint of chocolate, sour, a bit watery, fairly light bodied for a stout

Beer 3

THE BEER: Oarslayer
THE BASICS: STYLE: Roggenbier -German style Rye ; ABV: 4.7%; HOW SERVED: On tap
MY TAKE: Strong banana aroma and taste, very Bavarian vibe.

Beer 4

THE BEER: Mother Road APA
THE BASICS: STYLE: American Pale Ale; ABV: 5.6%
MY TAKE: Nice APA! Very hoppy. Aroma of pine. Good bitter/hop finish. Terrific.

Beer 5
THE BEER: Long 9 Black IPA 
THE BASICS: STYLE: Black India Pale Ale; ABV: 6.8%
MY TAKE: Wonderful! Best-of-both-worlds beer. Pitch black in color, it would please both a Hophead and a Stout Heart. Dark chocolate, coffee taste with a solid hop bite. Fantastic beer. I wish I could get it around here. Next time in the area, I will bring multiple growlers!
MY RATING: ****+  

Next month, Ron and I give our takes on some Southeastern brews.

We Had Some Monster Mash

Yes, we had some Monster Mash, and darned if it wasn't a graveyard smash that indeed caught on in a flash - but first we sampled and rated some Monster beers. After having spent the first couple of falls trying Oktoberfests and Pumpkin Ales, we thought we'd like to do something else at this time of year. Well, Halloween is in October so how about "Monster" beers? We kept the definition of what constituted a monster beer pretty loose: a name evocative of Halloween and monsters, monstrously high alcohol or just monstrously good. You get the idea. As per our custom, we did the tastings in an order dependent upon the alcohol content of the beer - least to most.

Middle Ages Brewing, Syracuse, NY

The Beer Facts: Style: ESB (Extra Special Bitter); ABV: 5.3; IBUs: NA; Delivery System: Keg

What the Brewer Says: "This special bitter displays the subtle coppery hue of "old gold." It's depth of lingering hop flavor awakens the palate."

Color: Unfiltered honey gold

Pour: Decent off-white head

Aroma: Malty/grassy

Body: Medium

Taste: Initially well balanced sliding toward a bitter-ish finish. There are notes of bread, toffee/caramel, and a hint of banana.

Overall Impression: Well toward "Can't get enough"

Comments: "Not bad; I could drink this; Nice finish; Just enough hops; I could drink it all day - and still be standing; Another great beer from Middle Ages; Solid flavor; I usually go for the 'bigger' offerings of Middle Ages, but this is a mighty fine beer; It is nice and clean."

Victory Brewing Company, Downington, PA

The Beer Facts: Style: American India Pale Ale; ABV: 6.7%; IBU: NA; MALT: Imported 2-row German malts; HOPS: Whole flower American hops; Delivery System: 12 oz bottle poured into a pint glass.

What the Brewer Says: "The mythical HopDevil resides in the lore of farmers. Our HopDevil is the real deal. Bold, spicy and menacingly delicious. He's the product of distinctive American hops and meticulous craftsmanship. Arising from the heady wilds of our hopback and gently tamed with time, this Devil makes a great companion."

Color: Dark honey/amber

Pour: A bit less than a decent head

Aroma: Pine/hoppy

Body: Medium

Taste: Nice solid grapefruit hop punch balanced with notes of toffee and caramel. It also had a hops finish.

Overall Impression: Midway between "I could drink this" and " Can't get enough."

Comments: "Fills the mouth; It has a clean finish; Victory makes good beer; It hits the whole palate spectrum; It's well balanced malt to hops; Man, I like that beer; Victory is ours - and we are glad; It has a good malt backbone."

Ithaca Brewing Company, Ithaca, NY

Beer note: We reviewed this beer previously, but it fit the bill and we like it so what the hell. The comments are new.

The Beer Facts: STYLE: Red IPA; ABV: 7.0%; IBUs: NA; MALTS: 2-row Pale, Crystal, Chocolate; HOPS: Cascade, Chinook, Amarillo - dry hopped with Cascade and Amarillo; DELIVERY SYSTEM: 12 oz bottle poured into a pint glass.

What the Brewer Says: "The name Cascazilla is a play on both the name of a gorge in Ithaca called Cascadilla and the monster amounts of Cascade Hops we use to make the beer. The predominant flavor
and aroma of this beer comes from fresh American hops. Cascazilla gets its distinctive red color from a healthy portion of caramel malt, which also lends to the beer a heary body and sweetness. It is a hoppy red ale!"

Color: Unfiltered copper (almost amber)

Pour: Decent head

Aroma: Flowery hops aroma

Body: Between Medium and Full

Taste: Bitter hop finish balanced with caramel malt sweetness

Overall Impression: Can't get enough!

Comments: "It's a beautiful color; It's not overly hoppy, but still a great-tasting beer; This is real drinkable; Not an over-the-top hop; There's more hops in the nose than the palate; Still much hoppier than your average red ale; Makes for a real nice beer."

Heavy Seas Brewing, Halethorpe, MD

Beer Note: Ditto above beer note! (Fit the bill because it's "monstrously good")

The Beer Facts: STYLE: American India Pale Ale; ABV: 7.5%; IBUs: 45; MALTS: 2-Row, Caramalt, Munich; HOPS: Warrior, Simcoe, Palisade, Centennial, Cascade, Citra; DELIVERY SYSTEM: 12 oz can poured into a pint glass.

What the Brewer Says: "Our flagship beer, Loose Cannon wins people over at first smell. The carefully cultivated interplay of (hops) creates a most fragrant IPA - its nose bursts with notes of grapefruit, herbs, and pine. Bitterness is somewhat subdued by the floral quality that pervades the taste...It won a second place CAMRA award ath the 2010 Great British Beer Festival."

Color: Wheat

Pour: Decent head with nice lacing

Aroma: Hoppy - grapefruit/pine and other hop notes

Body: Medium

Taste: Leans to the hoppy, with notes of caramel and slight grapefruit - though not as much as the aroma would lead you to believe

Overall Impression: Can't get enough!

Comments: "It's hoppy with a bitter finish; It really hits you between the eyes; It just keeps getting better and better; Since it was 'hopped three times' Tony Orlando must drink this before Dawn; It's another one with that nice hop to caramel malt balance that makes it easy to like."

Great Lakes Brewing, Cleveland, OH

The Beer Facts: STYLE: Imperial IPA; ABV: 9.1; IBUs: 80; MALT: Harrington 2-row Base Malt, Caramel 30; HOPS: Simcoe, Willamette

What the Brewer Says: "Lake Erie Monster stories are like fish stories. Drink a few of these handcrafted Imperial IPAs and you're bound to start boasting and weaving wild tales of mythic proportions. Drink more and you might even have visions of South Bay Bessie, the freshwater cryptid for which our Lake Erie Monster is named, lifting her scaly head avove the surface of Lake Erie. Or
 the Cuyahoga River. Or a kiddie pool. Actually, if you see Bessie in a kiddie pool, take it easy. You've probably had too many."

Color: Unfiltered copper

Pour: Better than decent off-white head

Aroma: Malty/grassy

Body: Medium to Full

Taste: Initially sweet then works toward hoppy/alcohol finish. It has notes of toffee.

Overall Impression: Between "I could drink this" and "Can't get enough"

Comments: "It's a light barley wine; After-taste sticks with you; It has a horehound taste to it; There's a heavy alcohol taste on the back end of the swallow; A couple of these and you'll need to be sitting down; I'd drink it while watching a football game in my living room; I didn't really care for it - it's a little too alcohol-y; I feel there are many more Great Lake beers that are better." 

Left Hand Brewing Company, Longmont, CO

The Beer Facts: STYLE: Imperial Russian Stout; ABV: 10.2%; IBUs: 45; MALTS: 2-Row, Munich, Crystal, Chocolate, Roasted Barley, Black Barley, Flaked Oats; HOPS: Magnum, US Goldings; DELIVERY SYSTEM: 22 oz bomber

What the Brewer Says: "Good morning. You've woken up dead. You're in ruins. But don't be discouraged. Here's a black ale to brighten your day.  Wake Up Dead lurks in our cellars for over 4
months before being unleashed. Hints of raisins, black licorice, coffee and dark chocolate are followed by earthy, herbal hop notes. Any apprehensions about the rest of your day are quickly forgotten, for whatever the mind expects, it finds. Sometimes you're not in the mood for what everyone else is having."

Color: Black

Pour: Slightly less than decent tan head

Aroma: Sorghum or Aunt Jemimah syrup

Body: Full

Taste: Sweet with notes of sweet coffee, chocolate, licorice, caramel, molasses.

Overall Impression: I could drink this

Comments: "I could put this on my pancakes; Kudos to the name; WOW!; Should be served in a goblet; A definite dessert beer; Maybe an after dinner sipper; It's kind of like iced coffee with booze; It's definitely full-bodied; Would be great on pancakes or maybe vanilla ice cream; It has a very boozy quality; I think it well represents the style; It's truly a sipper."

Flying Dog Brewing, Frederick, MD

The Beer Facts: STYLE: Double IPA; ABV: 11.5%; IBUs: 85; MALTS: Light Crystal; HOPS: Columbus, Warrior, Cascade; DELIVERY SYSTEM: 12 oz bottle

What the Brewer Says: "This is a big beer that calls for equally big foods. Flavor notes: Citrus hops with sweet malt and subtle alcohol burn (like a kiss on th cheek)."

Color: Copper

Pour: Decent off-white head

Aroma: Sweet with alcohol

Body: Full

Taste: Initially sweet then straight to alcohol. There are notes of caramel.

Overall Impression: I could drink this.

Comments: "WOW - this is really warming; This is a winter-break-the-goblet-in-the-fireplace beer; Billy Fuccillo might even say this is HUGE; They don't disguise the alcohol at all; It's a good pirate beer; It's a rummy beer; I think it's a crude beer - bang! It's there; You could drop an ice cube in it and make it a cordial; It's a bit over the top for me; It tastes like a barley wine to me."

How'd this battle shake out? Most of the big beer we would enjoy in small amounts. The others fared very well with us. In the end the order of finish is this:

The first four were very close and universally enjoyed by The Guys

1. Loose Cannon Hop3 IPA by Heavy Seas - Not the hoppiest IPA out there but a real tasty, balanced beer.
2. Cascazilla by Ithaca Brewing - A terrific Red Ale
3. Beast Bitter by Middle Ages Brewing - A solid hop bite for an English style ESB makes this a very enjoyable beer - one likely to please both hopheads those who lean toward the maltier side.
4. HopDevil by Victory Brewing - A regular guest in my fridge - though it rarely stays there long.

The next bunch had us somewhat split, with some feeling they would "leave it on the shelf." 

5. Lake Erie Monster - Great Lakes Brewing - The strong alcohol presence was a turn-off for some. Others felt they would enjoy it as a sipper.
6. Wake Up Dead - Left Hand Brewing - No overtly negative comments on this one. The consensus was that it was good in small amounts. Sweeter than most of the GUYS go for.
7. Double Dog Double IPA - Flying Dog Brewing - Another sipping beer but, again, some felt the alcohol presence was overly dominant.

Mike brought a new twist to this month's meeting - a hops infuser. This is a device (pictured above) which can be filled with hops and placed in your beer glass to add a nice hop kick to the beer. We tried it out on one of Mike's own brews. It gives the beer an interesting green color (great for St. Patrick's Day - use it instead of the green food coloring). It definitely ups the hoppiness of the beer. Of course, Mike's brews are generally pretty hoppy to begin with. It would be interesting to see if it improved one of the mega beers. It'd be a great little thing to have if you're stuck in a restaurant that serves only the megas. Might actually make them palatable. What would it do to a light/lite? 


Another nod to craft beers in one of the hot TV shows. This time "The Walking Dead." While scouting for supplies in an abandoned supermarket, the survivors are set upon by a wave of zombies. As the survivors battle for their lives, the fight spills over into the store's beer section whereupon we see cases of Sweetwater IPA, Terrapin Rye Pale Ale, Terrapin Hopsecutioner, and Sweetwater Pale Ale. Very appropriate since the story takes place around Atlanta, GA and these are Atlanta beers. Check out the screen shots below. 
And, again, let us know about any craft beers you spot in films and TV.

Next month -
East Coast Beers.

The BOTB Guys