Monthly Archives: December 2009

Drinking It All: #8 Old Stock Ale 2009

Drinking It All is a document of my attempt to try every beer in circulation. It’s a Herculean and tragic attempt at best. But it’s the means, not the end that counts here.

slow drinkin' like a bourbon. slow is the new fast.

slow drinkin' like a bourbon. slow is the new fast.

Today I’m reviewing another beer that my wife brought home as a surprise. This beer is, like the last one, made by North Coast Brewing Co. I’ve only had one other of this brewery’s beers, Red Seal Ale, and I am constantly trying to find it again. These are solid brewers. But so this beer is a “Limited Release,” which is too vague to mean much to me, and it’s a big beer to say the least.

Old Stock Ale (2009) is an old ale style beer that’s probably closer to wine than what most people think of as beer. It carries a big 11.5% alcohol tag, so you should drink it a bit more slowly and carefully than you would say PBR. (Those are two different ball games–actually, it’s more like they’re two different mediums. It’d be like comparing golf and Southern literature. (They’re both entertainment (and both beers are beers), but they couldn’t be more distant in function, make-up, and rules. These beers don’t play by the same rules–that’s fairly concise). End comparison–begin review.)

The Old Stock Ale, as is stated on the bottle and 4-pack carrier, is made with Maris Otter Pale malt and Fuggles hops. The brewery suggests that the beers be cellared and tasted after a year, or more. I refuse to wait that long. Can’t do it. The carrier also indicates that the beer has won platinum and gold medals in the World Beer Championships in Chicago, so I could take their word that it’s a good beer. But actually I don’t have to take their word. I’ll just drink it instead.

-Suspenseful interim-

They’re right. It’s a good beer. Here’s how it’s good.

The taste is malty. And, even though this might sound strange, the high alcohol content contributes to the taste. Relative to wine and liquor, 11.5% alcohol seems slight, but this beer reminds me of a good bourbon drink. (By no means do I mean here that higher alcohol means better beer, or better tasting beer, but the alcohol affects the taste in this beer in a positive way. Being able to taste the alcohol shouldn’t be a bad thing. Would enthusiasts drink good bourbons or gins that masked the alcohol? I imagine not–the alcohol imparts character to the drink just as important as any other ingredient. Same with this Old Stock Ale.) It tastes of caramel with just enough hops at the end to know they’re there. I imagine a mild bourbon and Coke (pretend I put a registered trademark here) lightly dryhopped. If that sounds strange, trust me, it’s good. It’s warming–good for drinking in the winter. It’s high in alcohol–good for drinking slowly, which makes it last longer (our absolute mission in life, in everything). And it’s recognizably malty, heavy beer. Pretend you’re an Englishman 150 years ago drinking beer in a dark, pub called the Queen’s Arm in Kensington, London.

If you’ve had this beer and think I’m out of my mind, please tell me why. I invite constructive criticism and just plain old mean criticism, but only if it’s funny and free of grammatical errors (Proofread goddammit. Just because you’re writing on the internet doesn’t mean, necessarily, that no one’s looking.).

Thumbs up or thumbs down? Thumbs up. I wish I had more to cellar until next year, but I’d probably just drink them before then anyway. Such impatience.

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Brewed Slowly Update: #2 Cherry Stout

The cherry stout that we made for the holidays has been ready to drink for some time now. It’s been busy around here, and most of the beers have gone out as presents, but I’m finally making time to talk about it here.

Our cherry stout, also known as our Red-nose Stout, is pretty self explanatory. It’s black as any stout, and it smells that way as well (like a stout, not black). You can smell the cherries somewhat, and you can taste them up front. Then you taste the stout. It’s a pretty heavy beer. We added extra malt to hike up the alcohol content (which came out around 8% or so), and we primed it with dry malt extract. I wouldn’t call Guinness a thick beer, although many people would, but this stout is thick. It has a strong, thick body and taste.

Even though I’m a documented non-fan of fruity beers, this beer I like. The cherry flavor takes a backseat to the strong stout taste, and that’s good in my book.

Drinking It All: #7 Pabst Blue Ribbon

Drinking It All is a document of my attempt to try every beer in circulation. It’s a Herculean and tragic attempt at best. But it’s the means, not the end that counts here.

the swiss army knife of beer

the swiss army knife of beer

PBR is, along with High Life, one of my favorite beers. If I’m drinking cheap domestic beer, PBR is what I go to 50% of the time. There’s something to be said for blue collar beers, and this beer is one of the blue collar standards. I’m sure there are different go-to blue collar beers in different parts of the country, but I imagine PBR always ranks pretty high on the list. It’s cheap, easy to drink, and it’s award winning–as in the titular blue ribbon it was awarded in 1893. It definitely takes something to advertise an award won over a century ago. PBR’s got that something.

PBR tastes pretty similar to other domestic lagers. The hops are a little more prominent than in other beers such as Budweiser or Coors Light. Although nobody’s buying PBR because it’s a good hoppy lager. Nobody I know anyway. You drink PBR when you want a cold beer. I drink PBR when I want a cold beer. Also, like I said earlier, it’s pretty cheap. It just makes good economic sense.

When you want a beer while you’re playing MarioKart on the Wii, get a PBR. When you’re out doing yardwork, PBR. When you’re headed to a late night after the bar, PBR. Think of a situation and add in PBR, Madlib style, and it probably makes sense. It’s a very versatile beer.

Thumbs up or thumbs down? I think you know where I stand.

Drinking It All: #6 Full Moon Winter Ale

Drinking It All is a document of my attempt to try every beer in circulation. It’s a Herculean and tragic attempt at best. But it’s the means, not the end that counts here.

warm cold beer

warm cold beer

I picked up some of Blue Moon’s Full Moon Winter Ale the other day for no real reason other than I’ve never tried it. And it was kind of cheap (Those seem like acceptable reasons). As much as I like really hoppy beers, I know that I’ve kind of got to try to drink other types of beer every once in a while. Full Moon is not really like Blue Moon at all, which I guess should be obvious, but probably doesn’t hurt to mention.

The beer is pretty dark in color, about like a brown ale, and tastes and smells very malty. Like a mild syrup. The bottle says that it’s brewed with a hint of dark Belgian sugar, and even though I’ve never had dark Belgian sugar, I imagine that’s at least part of the reason.

Full Moon isn’t a bitter beer. And I’m sure there are some hops, but I can’t taste or smell them. And that’s fine for this kind of beer. They don’t call it a winter ale for no reason, it’s like the beer equivalent of Irish coffee–I think that makes sense. Pretty sure. It seems warming even though you drink it cold.

Thumbs up or thumbs down? Thumbs up. I’d probably pick this up over Sam Adams Winter Lager most days of the week. It’s good.

Drinking It All: #5 Cru D'Or Organic Belgian Style Ale

Drinking It All is a document of my attempt to try every beer in circulation. It’s a Herculean and tragic attempt at best. But it’s the means, not the end that counts here.

organic beer--it must be good for you

organic beer--it must be good for you

A few weeks ago, my wife brought me some organic beer home from a fancy grocery trip. I’d told her to surprise me, and she did bring back some beer that I wouldn’t normally be interested in trying. Ain’t that the theme of this little series? She came home with some organic Belgian ale. After I looked it up on the webbernet (the bottle doesn’t really have a whole information about the beer), I found out that North Coast Brewing makes the beer. (They also make a great ale called Red Seal Ale)

This beer is high in alcohol (8% abv) and high in maltiness. It smells more like syrup than beer. And it tastes sweet like bourbon tastes sweet, but that’s a misleading explanation, maybe, because it doesn’t taste like bourbon. I realize that I usually measure a beer by its hop content, but this beer has such a small hop flavor that I have to talk about the malt. It’s fucking malty. And it’s good. Proof that good beers don’t have to be hop based (I’ve surprised myself).

Cru D’Or is not an easy beer, nor is it a light beer. It’s colored similar to a Newcastle, but somehow it seems denser, in color and taste, too. This isn’t a beer that you’d drink more than one, possibly two, of at a sitting. And it makes it all the more worth it to have one, then give it a few days or weeks, and have another. (Watch out for falling vague pronouns. Wear a hardhat.)

Thumbs up or thumbs down? My thumbs are up. It’s expensive and high in alcohol, but if you think of it less like beer and more like something in-between beer and wine, the price and alcohol content aren’t quite as intimidating. Pick this shit up.

Beers in New Orleans (12/12-13)

Last weekend, my wife and I went down to New Orleans with a couple of friends for the weekend. We’d gotten an awesome deal on a hotel in the Garden District from Travelzoo.com. And it was worth it. But this isn’t a travelogue, so I’ll just tell you about some beer. Note: I’m only going to talk about beers that I actually drank last weekend, even if I might reference other beers I didn’t.

Full disclosure: we did drink our fair share of regular old domestic beer (i.e., High Life and Budweiser) because we’re not made of money, shit. Aside from those beers, we had an awful (read: good) amount of Abita beer. This is to be expected since Abita is, to my knowledge, the premier brewery in Louisiana. Some of these Abitas I’d had before, but some were new to me.

Most people who’ve tried Abita beer probably know about Abita Amber, Turbodog, and Purple Haze, but there other beers that are just as good, if not better. We’ll just go down the line, or what seems like the line in my head.

Abita Amber: This beer is an easy, brown ale. Craft beer can’t get much more accesible than Abita Amber. It’s a solid beer, comparable to something like Newcastle or even, hell, Michelob Amber. Anyway,  I’m more a fan of the other quirkier Abita beers. I had one of these because it was the best thing at whatever given place we stopped at.

Abita Jockamo IPA: I’d never tried Abita’s IPA before, and wasn’t totally aware it existed, so I got a couple of these at a bar in the Garden District (Cooter Brown’s). I’d love to say I loved it, but I won’t. I will say that it was hoppy, but not excessively, and mildly sweet. I think I just had expectations of more hops than it had. But, admittedly, I did order it twice, so I must have liked it well enough.

Abita Christmas Ale: Similarly, I’d never tried this beer either. It’s dark like a porter or stout, and it tastes a little like both–maybe more like a porter. There’s also some type of spice or sweetness to it that I couldn’t place. It seems like it’d be a heavy beer, but it really wasn’t. Also had two of these.

Abita Andygator: I tried this beer last winter while in New Orleans, and wanted to have it again to write down what it tasted like. Andygator is Abita’s 8% abv beer, and I wanted to try at least one. So I ordered it in a fairly crowded oyster bar restaurant, and I did get a beer. But I don’t think it was Andygator. It looked and tasted about like Miller Lite or Budweiser draft. I couldn’t remember what Andygator was supposed to look/taste like, and I didn’t want to ask and look either dumb or like an asshole, so I drank it and stayed quiet. If anyone can tell me: “You didn’t get an Andygator,” please do. I need to know.

That’s all for Abita beers.

We (my wife and I) also split a pitcher of Boddington’s. It was Boddington’s–low carbonation, light color, and easy taste. Good British bitter.

Sierra Nevada Torpedo (Extra IPA): So, I didn’t really drink this beer, but my friend got one, and I tried it. If you can find this beer, get it. The hops are the main event, and there’s a reason Sierra Nevada is Sierra Nevada–their beer kicks ass. Again, if you can find it, get it. You can direct any complaints to me.

Moretti Rosa: We stopped in at an Italian restaurant near the French Market that was having a half price drink special, which we, like good little consumers, took advantage of, and had a few beers. The only problem was that they only had a few beers, three of which were Italian. After I’d finished my big spill (we’ll save it for another time) about how Italian beer isn’t any good (Italians do plenty of other things well though: film, food, wine, and Italo Calvino was, basically, Italian), I tried the Moretti Rosa. It’s a dark lager that somehow reminds me of Abita Amber. I probably won’t go out of my way to find this beer again, but it certainly disproved my theory about Italian beer being shitty–or at least it’s the exception that proves the theory (don’t exceptions prove theorys? I’m not sure).

It’s likely that I’ve forgotten a beer or two, aside from the domestics, and if I remember a forgotten beer, I’ll update. So for now, you’ve got a run-down on some good beers that you can for sure find in New Orleans, not to mention plenty of other towns, cities, villages, and beer stores. Get to gettin’ ’em.

Drinking It All: #4 Anchor Liberty Ale

Drinking It All is a document of my attempt to try every beer in circulation. It’s a Herculean and tragic attempt at best. But it’s the means, not the end that counts here.

gettin patriotic

gettin patriotic

I got the grading finished yesterday. Hot damn. We’re packing up and going to New Orleans for a few days this afternoon. Double hot damn. Since I’m relatively free of work, or at least work I get paid for, I figured it was time to start drinking for the website. So I went out last night with about 10 dollars to get some good beer to post about. I was specifically looking for Red Seal Ale, but the store didn’t have it. Instead I picked up some of Anchor’s Liberty Ale.

The Liberty Ale, while it isn’t called so, tastes like a solid pale ale. It starts off pretty bitter–more bitter than the PA standard, Sierra Nevada’s PA–and it also has a noticeable sweetness from the malt. The label doesn’t offer much helpful information other than indicating that the beer is dry hopped. I taste the hops a good deal more than I actually smell them, which I’m just fine with. I’ll take them either way, or both.

Similar to Sierra Nevada’s PA, Liberty Ale is a good introductory PA.  The hoppyness is clearly the main event, but it’s not so strong that it’d put off people who aren’t nuts about hops. It’s an accessible beer that doesn’t aim for the lowest common denominator (i.e., Bud Light’s ad campaign championing simply, and vaguely, “drinkability”). Liberty Ale’s a drinkable beer for those who want more than just an alcohol-delivery medium. Plus, at under $8 a six-pack, it’s a damn legal steal.

Thumbs up or thumbs down? Thumbs up. Now that I found a store that consistently keeps it in, I’ll be bringing it home more often.