Archive for the month “January, 2013”

Serpent’s Stout – The Lost Abbey

serpent_stout_bttl11.0% ABV

Purchased at Pangaea Bottle Shoppe ($12.99/25.4 oz. bottle) and poured into globe glasses..

This imperial stout pours a midnight black with a medium-sized, brown sugar-colored head, and a beckoning nose of dark chocolate, roasted coffee, port grapes, and a little licorice root.  The profound aroma suggests little in the way of sweetness, and the first swallow follows suit, offering bitter dark chocolate, dark-roasted coffee, a pronounced wood character, rich loam, and a fairly heavy hop profile.  Mostly black coffee flavors are present throughout, but a bit more black forest cake-style sweetness emerges as it warms in the glass.  More barrel wood comes through than booziness, even at 11% ABV, and there is nothing silly or gimmicky about this beer – it’s a heaven for fans of big stouts.


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SerpentsStout

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Luciernaga – Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales

Luciernaga_bttl6.5% ABV

Purchased at Davis Beer Shoppe ($13.99/25.4 oz. bottle) and poured into tulip glasses.

This Belgian-style ale from Michigan-based Jolly Pumpkin pours a sunny orange with a tight, off-white head, and a nose that gives off sour citrus, ginger, and white wine, with a distinctly puckering scent.  It is milder than expected on the palette, with a light and juicy body that offers muted grapefruit rind, subtle spice, some lemon, and indistinct spices.  Luciernaga goes down quite easily, with just a prickle of sour and some spices (coriander and grains of paradise, according to the bottle) piercing the tongue throughout the aftertaste.  Subtlety is the keyword for this brew – it’s as light and effervescent as its namesake, the “firefly”.

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Luciernaga

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Grand Cru – Green Flash Brewing Company

GrandCru_bttl9.1% ABV

Purchased at Davis Bottle Shoppe ($7.99/22 oz. bottle) and poured into Green Flash tulip glasses.

This “mysterious dark ale” from Green Flash pours a dark plum-y brown with a mid-sized, dust-colored head.  There are lots of dusky – and indeed, mysterious – farmhouse spices on the nose, along with herbs, some woodiness, fruit tree leaves, and brown sugar, while still suggesting very little sweetness.  Green Flash Grand Cru presents little sweetness on the tongue either, offering instead spices, wood, dust, and cracker-like notes, with the brown sugar complementing the savory flavor in the same way that it would pork chops.  It makes a very pleasurable impression on the taste buds (with the spices and wood lingering on the tongue), changing character a number of times while remaining balanced throughout.

 

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GrandCru

 

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Old Rasputin XV Bourbon Barrel-Aged – North Coast Brewing

Old-Rasputin-XV

11.9% ABV

Purchased at Pangaea Two Brews ($10/6 oz. pour) and served in mini-snifter glasses.

This barrel-aged version of North Coast’s venerable Russian Imperial Stout pours black piano key ebony with a thick and billowy almond-colored head.  It offers a strong but welcoming nose of coffee, chocolate, vanilla, and a very prominent booze-drenched oak aroma.  Old Rasputin XV is velvety on the tongue, putting forth some amazing bourbon, chocolate, and vanilla flavors, with the expected barrel wood entering the profile on the long, warm finish.  This is a beer that takes it’s time on your palette, offering some fascinating touches of coffee, banana, nuts, alcohol burn, and even some scorched caramel.  And yet for all of its bigness, Old Rasputin XV is actually an incredibly subtle brew.

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NorthCoast_OldRas15

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Birra Etrusca Bronze – Dogfish Head

Birra-Etrusca-Bronze8.5% ABV

Purchased at Taylor’s Market ($13.99/25.4 oz. bottle) and poured into mugs.

Another one of Dogfish Head’s “historical beers”, this marriage of archaeology and brewing is an attempt to recreate the ales of pre-Christ, pre-wine ancient Italy.  Birra Etrusca Bronze pours a clear bronze with a decent, dirty-white head and plenty of fizzy carbonation.  There are some incredibly funky-in-a-bad-way aromas on the nose, including raw flour, dehydrated fruits, and a touch of pilsner-y sweatsock.  Utterly curious upon the first swallow, with a mix of intense grains (thanks apparently to the use of hazelnut flour and “heirloom wheat”), along with a slightly tangy, cider-style aftertaste.  This beer presents an odd and unpleasant mix of flavors, both nutty and slightly tart, that only grow more off-putting the more you drink.   It’s simultaneously a fascinating historical project and thoroughly undrinkable.

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As Follows – Stillwater Artisanal Ales

stillwater_bttl9% ABV

Purchased at Davis Beer Shoppe ($13.99/25.4 oz. bottle) and poured into tulip glasses.

This “eschatological ale” (no one told Baltimore-based Stillwater Artisanal Ales that the Mayans were full of it?) pours a bright but opaque pale gold with an extremely dense, shocking-white head.  As Follows offers a nose of barnyard funk, bread, peach, and a little bit of butterscotch, fairly Belgian-y in all with some subtle spice notes.  The taste is decidedly un-sweet and very rustic, with a taste and light mouthfeel reminiscent of seltzer water, along with an aftertaste of funk, rye, garden herbs, and some touches of spice and wood.  It’s a very subtle and drinkable beer that doesn’t quite live up to the price tag, although it could be a hit amongst beer geeks with sensitive palettes.

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Stillwater_AsFollows

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Top 10 Beers of 2012

2012We sampled a lot of amazing beers in 2012, and thanks in large part to this blog, we have met a lot of wonderful new people.  When compiling this list of our top beers of 2012, we eschewed any pretense of objective analysis, and simply chose our most mutually memorable first-time beer experiences.  Cheers to another year of great beer!

OUR TOP 10 BEERS OF 2012:

Adam/Fred (Hair of the Dog Brewing Company – 12 oz. bottles, purchased at The Bruery Provisions, Orange)

Black Butte XXIV (Deschutes Brewery – 22 oz. bottle, purchased at Taylor’s Market)

Boda Savaje (Peruvian wedding beer home brewed by Marie – draft, sampled at Scott and Becky’s wedding)

Dos Cone Es – aged on oak chips (Cismontane Brewing Company – draft, purchased at Beer Revolution, Oakland)

Enjoy By 09.21.12 IPA (Stone Brewing Company – 22 oz. bottle, purchased at Stone Brewery, Escondido)

Every Man’s DIPA (Societe Brewing Company – draft, purchased at Blind Lady Ale House, San Diego)

Jack N Jolly (Drake’s Brewing– draft, purchased at The Page, San Francisco)

Old Stock Ale (2009) Cellar Reserve (North Coast Brewing – 16.9 oz. bottle, purchased at Pangaea Bottle Shoppe)

Smoking Wood – Bourbon Barrel-Aged (The Bruery – purchased at The Bruery Tasting Room, Placentia)

Sweet and Sour (HaandBryggeriet – 16.9 oz. bottle, purchased at Pangaea Bottle Shoppe)

IN A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN… 

Pliny the Younger (Russian River Brewing Company)

Trappist Westvleteren 12

HONORABLE MENTIONS:

Anniversary Barley Wine (Uinta Brewing)

Black Hole (Mikkeller)

Elliot Brew (De Struise Brouwers/Mikkeller collaboration)

FiringsQuad (Alpine Beer Company)

Imperial Smoked Porter (Sierra Nevada Brewing Company)

Jewbelation 15 (He’Brew Beer)

Madrugada Obscura (Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales)

3 Days (Hitachino Nest Beer)

URKontinent (Dogfish Head)

Waldo’s 420 Ale (Lagunitas Brewing Company)

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