Archive for the category “4-5 Toasts”

Punk’in Drublic – Coronado Brewing Company

punkindrublic_bttl8% ABV
Purchased at Der Biergarten in Sacramento ($6/13 oz. serving) and poured into tulip glasses.

This “imperial pumpkin beer” and highly anticipated fall seasonal from San Diego-based Coronado Brewing Company pours a burnt orange with a slight, white sand-colored head.  True to its NOFX-inspired name, it smells of drunken pumpkins, both the flesh and the seeds, along with dark fruits and autumnal spices.  Punk’in Drublic brings robust pumpkin pie flavors to the front on the first sip, with subtle cinnamon and allspice notes that become more pronounced on subsequent swallows, but it’s still more pumpkin-y and less kitschy or sweet than most beers in this style.  It’s a real rarity – a pumpkin beer with complexity, as brown sugar and honey sweetness play off the savory spices and juicy pumpkin.

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Punk'inDrublic

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Lectio Divina – Saint Somewhere Brewing Company

lectio-divina-bttl10% ABV
Purchased through Rare Beer Club and poured into tulip glasses.

This “Belgian-style Amber” was brewed by Florida-based Saint Somewhere Brewing Company with their own house yeast, and open fermentation techniques were employed.  It pours an opaque chestnut brown with a cumulus cloud of a dirty blonde head.  Lecto Divina boasts a lovely nose of fruity Belgian yeast, dates, dark fruits, and tropical nuts.  Despite the quad-like color and nose, the beer is actually quite tart on the first swallow, heavy on green apples and other sour fruits.  With its peppery yeast and tongue-coating flavor, Lectio Divina is almost saison-like, and while it’s a fine beer now, Saint Somewhere expects it to mellow and ripen with age.

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StSomewhere

 

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Tweak – Avery Brewing Company

tweak17.89% ABV
Purchased at Curtis Park Market ($12.99/12 oz. bottle) and poured into mini goblet glasses.

This “stout with coffee added aged in bourbon barrels” pours a desolate black with a tight, brown sugar-colored head.  Tweak blasts out an intensely sweet nose of chocolate syrup and black coffee, with alcohol singe and barrel wood bringing up the rear (it’s very similar to the Black Tuesday we reviewed earlier this month).  The first sip is not as sweet as expected, but it packs a mighty punch – dark chocolate, coffee grounds, sawdust, vanilla, and whiskey-soaked wood chips crowd the palate, leaving an almost chile-like burn on the tongue. It’s a beer that goes directly to your dome, almost too strong for its own good, but also too big and bold and challenging to dismiss or ignore.

  4 Toasts

tweak

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2013 Black Tuesday – The Bruery

black-tuesday-beer

18.9% ABV
Purchased through The Bruery online shop and poured into mini tasting glasses.

This already legendary bourbon barrel-aged imperial stout from Orange County-based The Bruery pours a midnight black with a vaporous, light brown head.  It smacks you with hard alcohol aromas upon the first crack of the bottle, but chocolate, coffee and wet wood notes emerge when you dial in further.  An eye popper upon first swallow, with the flavors working on two different levels – throat-clearing booziness on one end of the palette, spectacularly strong and nuanced chocolate and coffee on the other.  Black Tuesday is a masterful slow-sipper, and not as grossly sweet as some of The Bruery’s other big-ass brews.  The beer works wonders if you take your time with it, growing a little more peppery on the aftertaste, and with vanilla bean and wood growing stronger the longer it warms.

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BlackTuesday

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Vintage 2014 – Grand Teton Brewing Company

grandteton_bttl8.5% ABV
Purchased through the Rare Beer Club and poured into tulip glasses.

This “rum barrel aged Belgian-style ale with spices” began as a blend of two Grand Teton beers – the Bitch Creek XX Double ESB and the 2014 Coming Home quad.  The resulting blend pours a rusty, date brown with a minimal off-white head, and offers a most unusual nose, an allspice and clove spice bomb set amidst classic Belgian aromas of dark fruits and toffee.  Vintage 2014 is extremely tasty and distinct on the first swallow – a fascinating mix of holiday spices, toffee deserts, and Trappist yeast.  There are strong spices, but they remain in perfect balance, and serve as complements to the overarching flavor of toffee apples and rum-soaked fruitcake, with orange peel especially lingering on the palette.  It is similar to a hot toddy served cold, and the beer is smooth and drinkable in addition to its novel complexity.

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GrandTeton

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Pinchy Jeek – Anderson Valley Brewing Company

PinchyJeek_22oz8.5% ABV
Purchased at Taylor’s Market ($10.99/22 oz. bottle) and poured into tulip glasses.

Pinchy Jeek is “brewed with pumpkin and spices and aged in Wild Turkey bourbon barrels” by Anderson Valley, and it pours a black-and-tan color with a mid-sized, beach sand hand.  The nose is sweet, transfixing, mysterious, and autumnal, a candied and complex aroma that boasts pumpkin pie spice, toffee, vanilla, and a hint of whiskey barrel.  Spices hit the palette first, a warming glow of nutmeg, cinnamon and pumpkin, with the Wild Turkey kick and Tootsie Roll sweetness riding in on the second wave of flavor.  It’s a fascinating and rewarding brew, maple sweets and savory spices in perfect harmony, and an essential beer for the fall.

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PinchyJeek

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Dark Pumpkin Sour – Almanac Brewing Company

almanac_drkpumpkin_bttl

7% ABV
Purchased at Pangaea Bottle Shoppe and poured into mini tasting glasses.

This dark pumpkin beer was aged in pinot noir wine barrels, and it pours a Dr. Pepper dark brown with a tight, soda fizz head.  It has that unmistakable “Almanac sour smell” of sour candy, citrus, wood, and wine, causing my mouth to instinctively pucker, although there is a little extra roastiness on this particular brew.  The fall/pumpkin aspect breaks through on the first swallow, lending an unusual depth of flavor to the beer, with wine tannins, candied pumpkins, and autumn spices coming to the fore.  The taste of red wine settles on to the palette far more impressively than any pumpkin or spice flavors, making this a suitable substitute for red wine with your turkey dinner or fall dessert.

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Almanac_DarkPumpkin

 

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Old Scallywag – Coronado Brewing Company (2013 vintage)

scallywag_bttl

11.4% ABV
Purchased at Pangaea Bottle Shoppe ($16.99/22 oz. bottle) and poured into an oversized wine glass [cage of emotion].

This “barley wine aged in oak bourbon barrels” is from Coronado Brewing in San Diego, which of course in German means “a whale’s vagina.”  Old Scallywag pours as silky smooth as the beard of Zeus, a clear and dark maple with a tight tan head.  The aroma is a formidable scent.  It stings the nostrils…in a good way, with waves of bourbon, dried and dark fruits, roasted nuts, barrel wood, brown sugar, and maple candy enticing the nose like a jazz flute solo.  I wanna be friends with it.  It’s delicious on the first swallow, more English than American barley wine, with brown sugar sweetness, wood bitterness, and a bready texture dominating up front, and ending as clean as a nice pair of slacks.  Some apple and tea enter the picture as the beer rests on the tongue, and the overall effect is not unlike a wood-fired apple pie drizzled in scotchy scotch scotch. Beer drinkers assemble!

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OldScallywag2

 

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Black Belle Imperial Stout – Blackstone Brewing Company

 

blackbelle_bttl10.2% ABV
Gifted by Nick M. and poured into globe glasses.

This imperial stout “infused with cacao nibs and aged in bourbon barrels” was brewed by Nashville, Tennessee-based Blackstone, and it pours a thick, oily black with a sliver of a brown head.  Black Belle has an exceptionally rich and dessert-like nose of dark chocolate-covered coffee beans, toasted marshmallow, cola, and some booze.  The alcohol is even more upfront on the first swallow, but the magic of Black Belle is that it expertly manages to offer all of the flavors of hard alcohol (i.e., chocolate and coffee take more of a supporting role to vanilla and toast) without any discomforting throat burn.

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BlackBelle

 

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Rick and Robbie’s Spröcket Bier – Stone Brewing: Spotlight Series

sprocket_bttl

5.4% ABV
Purchased at Pangaea Bottle Shoppe ($8.99/22 oz. bottle) and poured into mini globe glasses.

This “black rye kölsch” is the first entry in Stone’s “Spotlight Series,” the winner of a blind tasting contest whose entries were sourced from Stone’s own brewers.  It pours a glossy, minor key black with a mid-sized sawdust head, and offers a welcoming nose of chocolate-y coffee, licorice, and black bread.  Sprocket Bier is surprisingly light and crisp on the palette, and also quite thirst-quenching, with the coffee and roasted nut bitterness riding in only on the finish.  The yeasty brightness of the kölsch is counterpointed by the beer’s dark and roasted qualities, and the whole thing is harmonized by the presence of rye, which also adds a nice snap to the aftertaste.  It is an excellent intersection of chocolate, coffee, yeasty dark bread, rye, and nuts, and it consistently maintains a light and lovely mouthfeel.

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Sprocket

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