Monthly Archives: January 2015

Got Them Old (Oskar) Blues

Oskar Blues Brewery

Here we have the brewery that taught me that “canned” is not synonymous with “crap,” giving excellent craft beer in a recycleable, backpackable container that is impervious to skunking from light pollution, and lighter to ship, reducing shipping costs and carbon footprint.

MLYP_smallerMama’s Little Yella Pils

I confess I was not kind to Mama’s, tasting it *after* a Brewdog Hardcore IPA (of which more below). It’s tough for a pilsner to follow a big IPA, precisely why tastings normally go from light, in body or alcohol, to heavy. Anyway, if a pilsner can be earthy, this is the one. It’s more full and more rich than most pilsners, and yet it remains true to the style, malty with mild Saaz hops, with a dry finish from those hops. It may be a little cloudy, gold, with lacing more than an outright head. Mild nose, but then that earthy maltiness comes in with a touch of caramel and a nice effervescence. Very refreshing once it cut through that IPA! Sessionable, 5.3% ABV, 35 IBU.

DPA_smallerDale’s Pale Ale

This is their best seller dating back to their brewpub days in 2002. It pours with a creamy head and body, then on the palette it leads with earthy hops, and then malt and molasses come in. If they aged this in rum barrels it would take this to extraordinary. As is, it’s extraordinarily solid for six pack drinking. There is a long smooth hoppy finish, with more hops than many IPAs.

They call it “A Voluminously Hopped Mutha,” which begs the question, where is the line between Pale Ale and India Pale Ale? That line has certainly slid farther up the IBU scale, to 65 in this case. Bass Ale, an archetype pale ale before it was captured by InBev, is only 49 IBU. If someone doesn’t like hops, I have to warn them away from pale ales these days, unless it’s a Belgian (style) pale ale.

Be that as it may, months ago someone asked me what my “go to” beer is, implying “when you aren’t drinking craft beer.” I replied that I really don’t have one. If I were to choose a “go to” beer it would be a craft beer, and it would probably be Dale’s Pale Ale. 6.5% ABV.

Icey_smallerIcey.P.A.

Many beers are collaborations between one brewery and another, this one is a collaboration with a ski manufacturer. I heard that it was draft only and seasonal or a one off, but the picture from the brewery suggests that at least some of it made it into cans. Straw colored and quite clear, I found it citrusy with almost a unique nose, maybe Citra but reminding me of New Zealand hops. This seemed sessionable or close to it and worth the price of admission, piney as well as citrusy with solid malt backbone. Finish carries on with hops getting sweeter rather than more bitter. This was the star of the show because it was new to me (and very good!) Ok, Chubb and Ten Fidy are way up there. I hope this turns out to be a seasonal rather than a one-off! 7% ABV . . . so much for sessionable!!

OC_CroppedOld Chub Nitro

This is a rich Scotch Ale, even smoother and creamier than the non nitro. Good big malty stuff. It’s nutty like peanut brittle with hints of whiskey, chocolate and smoke. The finish has dark caramel sweetness mellowed by gentle hops. 6.9% ABV

TenFIDYsmallerTen Fidy

Engine oil for craft beer motorheads! OK, it’s a stout, but it pours as thick as motor oil then thunders onto the palette with massive malt, caramel, chocolate, and coffee. It has that lightly burnt roasted barley character with a richness like oatmeal . . . and somewhere on the finish I start to notice hops, tons of hops held in balance by the chocolate malt. 10.5% ABV, 98 IBU when I would have sworn it was half that. I went out immediately and found a 4-pack. This may be one of the best beers I ever had . . . though if I can get my hands on some more of the IceyPA . . .

Images courtesy of Oskar Blues Brewing




Now here’s a tip of the hat to the first beer I had this evening:

Brewdog Hardcore IPA

This Imperial IPA starts with a mild head and aroma, then arrives on the palette with mouth-filling malt and earthy hops which power into the finish. I get toffee/caramel with a sharp edge, hopped and then dry hopped. They mention Centennial, Columbus, and Citra hops, lots and lots of hops, claiming 150 IBU and 9.2% ABV. Do *not* taste this and then expect to do justice to a pilsner!!

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Of Hops and Spices and Bourbon

Here we have a mixed bag, rather than a theme or a single brewery. I think of it as a wealth of choice.

SierraHarvestSierra Nevada Harvest Single Hop IPA

In their Harvest IPA series, this shows off Equinox hops in whole-cone dry hopping. In the glass it’s golden with a creamy golden tan head. The nose shows the complex spicy herbal hops over malt, and the flavor delivers butterscotch, malt and hops. It has a sweet finish and mild bitterness. It’s rated at 55 IBU but this is moderated by the good balance. 6.5% ABV, 55 IBU As their website says, “Equinox is part of our five-bottle Harvest series, which features single hop, fresh hop, wet hop, and wild hop beers.”

SierraCelebrationSierra Nevada Celebration Fresh Hop IPA

Moving along, “Fresh Hops are the freshest dried hops to come from the fields, typically within seven days of harvest.” Honey amber in the glass with a generous, persistent head. Earthy citrus & pine hops on a subtle nose, perhaps a hint of pepper. The flavor is malty followed immediately by bitter hops. Perhaps slightly bland flavor but then a significant hop finish. My surprise of December was finding this beer for sale at the lobby bar of Radio City Music Hall. I had not come in with much hope of finding a decent beer, and instead I found a very good one. 6.8% ABV 65 IBU

OmmSpicedSaisonOmmegang Spiced Saison

This is a collaboration between two breweries owned by Duvel, Boulevard Brewing and Brewery Ommegang. It pours pale amber with a generous, creamy tan head, persistent. The nose is farmhouse funky, rich and yeasty with a fruity spiciness. It’s nicely effervescent and once again spicy on the palette with citrus and caramel. The finish gently continues these themes. This is a fruity saison rather than a sour one. Very nice. 7.2% ABV, very low IBU.

ChimayDoreeChimay Dorée Ale Brewed with Spices

In the glass you have pale amber with a one-inch head. The lightly yeasty nose has just a ghost of spice. The spice arrives for real on the palette as a tang amid mouth-filling effervescence, but still relatively subtle. Malt is obvious as is a bready quality. There are quiet waves of spice on the finish. It’s a bit lighter than most Trappist ales. This is the spiced version of their “Gold” ale, originally reserved for the monks and guests of the abbey. This is a good beer, but I can’t say I like it more than, say, their Dubbel, and in fact I prefer the fruitiness of the Dubbel. Perhaps it was just too subtle for me or I was just in the mood for a heavier, perhaps hoppier brew. 4.8% ABV.

FoundersBackwoods2Founders Backwoods Bastard

Pours walnut brown with almost no head. Bourbon leads the nose followed by molasses and malt. Very rich and palette coating with more malt, less bourbon than the nose, and a woody tang. Sweetness comes in and then hops arrive abruptly on the finish after hiding to that point. I find myself savoring each sip, almost chewing it. Solid 10.2 ABV, 50 IBU

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Rock and Rhine

club6OTRMoerlein Over the Rhine Ale

Over the Rhine is the German district of Cincinnati that was home to many of that city’s early breweries, including the original incarnation of Moerlein. The name and recipes have been recently revived by Christian Moerlein Brewing Co. The ale pours a slightly hazy amber with a brief head and a persistent ring. For an ale I get a lagery nose of malt and honey with a hint of fruit and a slight bite. It’s mild on the palette, refreshing and seemingly sessionable, giving malt wth hint of milk chocolate and a touch of hops without clear citrus or pine, perhaps noble hops. (Galena and Fuggle, as it happens, so there are none of the four noble hops varieties.) After the first gulp there’s surprising bitterness on the finish, surprising because it’s been mild to that point. However the bitterness does not build on subsequent sips so a balance is maintained. I would call this a German-American style rather than either specifically German or specifically American. 6.0% ABV

club6BarbarossaCropBarbarossa Double Dark Lager

Here is Moerlein’s Munich Dunkel. It is quite dark, medium brown with little head quickly dissipating. I get a mocha nose with faint fruit and a bit of cracker. On the palette it delivers dark fruit, coffee and caramel with a dry finish. It’s a good winter beer. 5.0% ABV

Incidentally, for a beer lover, I have read that the brewery should be on the short list of places to visit in Cincinatti, with a fine tap room called The Malt House and historic tunnels beneath the brewery.

club6BrownEyedSquirrelCropR.J. Rockers Brown Eyed Squirrel

From South Carolina, this is an almost black American Brown Ale. I get a caramel-malty nose with fig highlights and chocolate. The flavor gives gentle smoke and bisquit, slightly thin with chocolate in the background. Hops only come in on finish, drying things out. 5.6% ABV

club6HopQuakeHop Quake

Another R.J. Rockers brew, it pours medium amber with a quarter-inch head. Very fresh hop nose with stone fruit and caramel. The flavor is caramel over solid malt backbone with a touch of peaches. The finish continues the hops at moderate bitterness. The label says “Drop. Take cover. Hold on. ” I might have expected a hop bomb but it’s more balanced and restrained than a big West Coast hop monster. Nice stuff. 6.5% ABV

This was a very sessionable and satisfactory set of four. This was my last beer club shipment, the finish of six months of brewed pleasure courtesy of my family. I heartily recommend the Microbrewed Beer of the Month Club. They have four varieties, The U.S. Microbrewed Beer Club., The U.S. and International Variety Beer Club, The International Beer Club, and The Rare Beer Club™. I had three months of the U. S. & International and three months of the U. S. Both are very good. With the combined you get three bottles each of two domestic and two international brews, typically from four different breweries. The U. S. club features three bottles each of two varieties from each of two breweries. It’s excellent to have three bottles each rather than just a one-shot taste. I really appreciated these “gifts that keep on giving,” and they introduced me to a lot of breweries that were new to me and to specific beers for which I’ll be on the lookout, and am already finding.

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