Sunday, October 31, 2010

Review--Killian's, Laughing Skull and Rogue Red/Amber Ales

Our Macro review this week will be between George Killian's Irish Red, Red Brick Brewing's Laughing Skull, and Rogue's American Amber Ale. This might come as a surprise, but George Killian's "Irish" Red is actually a Coors brand. Coors does everything they can to hide that fact and if you look at the bottle the only clue is that it's brewed in Golden, Colorado. We wonder why they would go to all that trouble? Could it be they want you to think it's not a Macro? No ingredients listed or alcohol content on the bottle, although it comes in at 4.9%. Laughing Skull comes from Red Brick Brewing (formerly know as Atlanta Brewing Company) based here in Atlanta. Again, no ingredients or alcohol listed but it comes in at 5.7%. Last, but certainly not least, we have Rogue's American Amber Ale from Newport, Oregon which proudly displays ALL ingredients in great detail but no mention of alcohol and is actually 5.6%.

First up is Killian's which pours amber in color with a creamy white head. The aroma starts with the typical Macro lager smell but, oddly enough, has a bit of a stewed tomato scent at the end. Weird. Very bubbly on the tongue with a sweet malty flavor and finishing with a strange vegetable taste. Probably the best of the Macros we've had, so far. Next is Laughing Skull which has a cloudy straw color with a creamy white head. The smell is of sweet hops. We differed on our taste with this one. James thought that there was a lot of malt up front with a smooth balance, but once you swallowed it left a dry, bitter flavor in the mouth. Not a pleasant hoppy bitterness but more like an aspirin bitter. Aimee thought she really didn't taste any malt, just bitter hops, but again not in a good way- more of a pungent bitter with a funky aftertaste. Then we have Rogue's which pours a true amber in color with a tan head. The scent is all malt and the flavor is of caramel, bubbly on the tongue with a perfect balance between the hops and malt.

End Result--Rogue easily beat the other two, although we thought all three were rather dull. The Rogue is more of a "food" beer, not something that we'd enjoy just drinking by itself. The surprise this go-round was how much we didn't like the Laughing Skull, as we preferred Killian's flavor. That's it for this week's Macro vs. Micro tasting. Stay tuned for next weekend!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


MINI-REVIEW--We had our annual pumpkin carving session this past Saturday, so we thought we'd share the brews we enjoyed while wielding sharp objects! Luckily, only pumpkins were harmed in this review!

First, we had Southern Tier Brewing Company's Pumking. Easily our favorite of the pumpkin beers we've had this year. In the glass, it's a beautiful coppery fall color, with an amazing aroma of pumpkin bread. The taste follows suit with a bready, pumpkin flavor. Not too much spice, which is really a problem for most pumpkin beers. Too many spices, not enough pumpkin. Grab a bottle of this before they disappear and you have to wait until next Halloween!


MINI-REVIEW--Next, we had the beer that got James back into craft brews again-- Stone Brewing Co.'s Imperial Russian Stout. With Stone's Gargoyle mascot printed on the bottle, it seemed to fit in our Halloween session. Pours dark and viscous in our glass with a mocha colored head and a scent of coffee and dark chocolate. The flavors of roasted malt goodness mingle with coffee and bittersweet chocolate tones to finish with a slight smokiness. Do yourself a favor and put this on your growing list of craft beers you have to try!

Beer and Food Pairing

Lots of gastronomy news today!

Beer and Food Pairing

An article about pairing beer and food, something we'll get more in depth about in the future. Bon Appetit!

Tasting Tips Part 1

As we all know, the sense of smell is a huge part of the enjoyment of any food. Well, the same goes for beer. If you drink straight out of the bottle or can, you're missing at least half of the experience. Of course, that's probably what the Macros want, as you've seen in our reviews how pungent the smell can be. Another part is the visual element. As we've seen in our tastings, the Macros look anemic even on the best day. To be honest, if you were to drink a craft beer in the same way, you might not be inclined to pursue others, especially after hearing how great it is, without realizing you've just missed two thirds of the experience! However, pour that beer into the proper glass, and you'll see the craftsmanship that went into making that beautiful color, bubbles and head. Contrary to what the Macros will tell you, you want a decent head on the beer. That head helps to open up the aroma and beckon you to move closer for an even bigger whiff. Once you've seen what the beer looks like and enjoyed the aroma, you're ready to take the plunge and taste. Being able to see and smell, as well as taste your beer at the same time, is the whole purpose behind the glass. Now there are a multitude of different glasses out there for different styles and even different brands that are supposed to enhance your beer. We've tested many of these glasses and settled on the Duvel tulip glass. A truly remarkable glass that is designed for one help you enjoy the beer that your tasting. Trust us. Try a craft beer in the bottle (or can), and then try it in the glass. You'll be amazed at the difference it makes and how much that glass enhances the experience. Another glass to try is Sam Adam's Perfect Pint glass. Let us know what you think! BTW, Duvel beer is quite tasty, too! Links to follow...

Duvel glass

Sam Adams glass

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Review--Coors, Michelob and Shmaltz' Coney Island Lagers

For this week's review, we're comparing Coors from Golden, Colorado, Michelob (Anheuser-Busch) from St. Louis, Missouri and Coney Island Lager from Shmaltz Brewing in Sarasota Springs, New York. Coors is heavily "trademarked' with a "cold-activated can", a "vented wide mouth" and a "frost brew liner". We won't bother commenting on those now, as the marketing gimmicks really have nothing to do with the flavor. The alcohol comes in at 5% and is "brewed with Rocky Mountain water". No other indication of ingredients. We're also having Michelob's "Original Lager" with no ingredients or alcohol listed. It also comes in at 5%. Finally, we have Coney Island Lager at 5.5% and noted to have 8 malts, 6 hops and a Czech pilsner yeast for ingredients.

We'll be having Coors out of the can as we couldn't find any bottles. That shouldn't be a problem since we're being helped along by the "cold-activated can", so we know it's cold enough and the "frost brew liner" to protect our flavor! The Coors pours out of the "vented wide mouth" into our glass with a color of gold, bubbly and with a white head. There's a sweet corn scent as in canned corn. It has a sweet corn and grain flavor with a slight bitterness at the end and no aftertaste. It washes down smooth and clean. Surprisingly, of the three Macros we've tasted (Bud, Miller, Coors), this is the best of those and not that readily available. Seems Coors Light is all anyone thinks of when Coors comes up. Next up is Michelob's Original Lager. Pours a golden color with a white fluffy head and very little carbonation. The scent is of the Budweiser variety (skunky) but a little less potent. The taste is a good balance of grains and malts (albeit, light on both in flavor) with a small amount of hoppy bitterness at the end. Finally, we have Coney Island Lager. The color in our glass is amber with an off-white head and a scent of sweet malt and candi sugar. The taste is LOADED with malts and a nice buttery, caramel flavor in the middle. It finishes with hoppy bitterness for a very well-rounded experience.

End result--Coney Island Lager was the easy winner here, beating the others in aroma, appearance and flavor. Coors was surprising as Aimee now prefers this over her beloved Miller High Life ponies! James found the Michelob to be the standout amongst the Macros so far, with Coors coming in next. If you're out and about and your ONLY options are Bud, Miller, Coors, pick either Michelob or Coors as the best of the bunch. Then again, that's only IF you can't find any Coney Island Lager, which can be found in the following states...California, Florida, Georgia,Illinois, Kansas, Maryland,Massachusetts, New Jersey,New York, North Carolina, Ohio,Tennessee, Washington. That concludes our comparisons of the Macros. What would you like us to review next? Blue Moon? Corona? Let us know and we'll get to tasting!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


AtlantaBeer: Just heard: GA Dept of
Rev threatens GA brewers w back taxes on beer poured during last 3-5y of tours

Original Tweet:

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Saturday, October 16, 2010

Review--Miller, Trader Joe's, Oskar Blues and Victory Pilseners

This time around, we're going to be comparing a macro beer that we still drink on occasion...Miller's High Life--"The Champagne of Beers". This is a great all around beer for just about anything--sports, eating, hanging out with friends. Aimee prefers these in "Pony" size, which are 7 ounce bottles. Still, this beer doesn't really have a whole lot of flavor, so, we hope to find something similar, but better. We'll be pitting this against a couple of canned beers--one is Simpler Times from Trader Joe's (a small grocery store that specializes in healthy foods), and the other is Oskar Blues Mama's Little Yella Pils. We'll also be tossing in Victory's Prima Pils for good measure.

Now, we know you're thinking 'canned beers?? That's supposed to be for cheap beer not pricey craft beer!' Well, as it turns out, there's a big movement among several craft breweries towards cans for a number of reasons. No light exposure to the beer (light is very bad for beer), easier for the consumer to carry out and about and more economical as far as recycling and transporting these to bottle shops. It so happens that Oskar Blues was the first to do this, but don't be surprised to see more craft beer coming in cans. Most people think that the can affects the flavor, but that's just not true, as the cans now have a liner, and the beer never touches the can.

Now back to our regularly scheduled review. A little background about our beers. Miller High Life is brewed in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and the alcohol level is 5%. No mention of the ingredients on the bottle. Simpler Times Pilsener is actually brewed by Minhas Brewery in Monroe, Wisconsin as a house brand for Trader Joe's. Alcohol comes in at 5.5% and again, no mention of ingredients. Oskar Blues' Mama's Little Yella Pils is from Longmont, Colorado with alcohol of 5.3% and no ingredients listed. Finally, we have Victory's Prima Pils from Downingtown, Pennsylvania with alcohol of 5.3% and ingredients listing "Whole flower European Hops and fine German Malts".

First up is the High Life. Pours into our glass a clear, golden color with a white head and VERY bubbly (it IS the Champagne of Beers!). The scent is a little musty, with a corn like smell (almost like Frito's Corn Chips). The taste is slightly malty, a little corny, bubbling on the tongue and refreshing. Aimee added this is a great "burping beer", especially if you're eating spicy foods and want to avoid the accompanying indigestion. Second in line is Simpler Times. It pours exactly like the High Life but with very little carbonation. It has a sweet straw or hay smell. We differed on what we tasted on this one. I tasted a malty flavor with a bitter finish that lingers, but not in a good way, almost like aspirin. Aimee's taste started slightly sour then changed to a very dry finish of grains or wheat. Every one's palate is different, that's why we're presenting both sides of this story! Next up is Mama's Little Yella Pils, which pours a hazy gold and a decent amount of bubbles with a cream colored head. The aroma is of faint hops (we're going to post on our Tasting tab exactly what this kind of reference means). The taste was a great balance of malt and hops but with a smooth finish with no bitterness at all. Finally, we're on to the Prima Pils, which pours a light yellow, cloudy, with a thick white head and barely any carbonation. Smells very floral because of the whole flower hops. The taste is SUPER floral and sweet with a slight, lingering bitterness to balance the sweetness. I thought it tasted like drinking perfume and it reminded Aimee of the Asian flower bulb teas that she's had in the past.

End Result--A bit of a surprise! Our favorite was the microbrew from Oskar Blues. A perfect lawn mowing beer--when you finish and just want to kick back and cool off. Tasty flavor and smooth drinking. The surprise is that Miller came in second. Another great beer for a hot day, but only if you like your beer without much flavor and pretty close to carbonated water. The High Life will serve a purpose. We'll avoid the Simpler Times Pilsener in the future, not much good to say about that. The second surprise came from our general dislike of the Prima Pils. We thought that would easily win, but it came in third place. Now, don't let that dissuade you from trying other Victory beers, as they do have some very good brews that you'll probably see in our Favorites list. Cheers!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Review--Budweiser, Yuengling and Brooklyn Lagers

Little bit of setup for this, our first tasting review. In my teenage years of learning about "beer", my go to beer (and the same for most of my friends) was Budweiser. Revisiting this "classic" should be fun. Aimee's exposure consists of being offered numerous "Buds" by our wonderfully Southern neighbor. To him, everything else is a "girlie" beer. We've had Yuengling on numerous occasions, especially when visiting Pennsylvania friends. This is our first time trying out Brooklyn's lager.

Budweiser comes from St. Louis, MO, with Yuengling from Pottsville, PA and Brooklyn coming from Utica, NY. The alcohol contents are roughly the same, with Brooklyn coming in at 5.2%, Bud at 5% and Yuengling at 4.4%. Budweiser proudly proclaims their ingredients consist of "Choicest Hops, Rice (??), and best Barley Malt". Brooklyn states their brew is made of "Only with Malted Barley, Hops, Water and Yeast" (this is actually what beer is supposed to be made from). Yuengling doesn't say. What exactly are they hiding?? Now, when we think of beer, Rice does not come to mind, nor does hiding the ingredients. So, thus far, Brooklyn is looking good.

First up is Budweiser's Lager. It pours into our glass with a color similar to a white wine with a white foamy head. Looks like every description I've ever read or seen of what "beer" is supposed to look like. For me, the smell is similar to a grassy, grainy scent. Aimee proclaims "the smell reminds me of driving down the road and getting a whiff of a dead skunk". Nice. We both thought it was bubbly and smooth, however, I tasted malts and Aimee tasted "watered down grains". However we both agreed this might be a good beer if VERY cold and it's VERY hot outside. Even better with food to hide the "flavor".

Next is Yuengling's Traditional Lager, our middle of the road beer. The brewery is too small to be considered a macro, but a bit too large to be considered a micro. It pours into our glass with a color of copper or a dirty penny, with a foamy off-white head. We both agreed the scent was similar to creamed corn straight out of the can. The beer is not as bubbly as the Bud, with a malty flavor and slight grain. Just as smooth as the Bud, but also with more flavor and a slight bitterness at the end. We both agreed that this was a more drinkable and enjoyable beer than Budweiser. However, once they started to warm up, both brews exhibited that skunky smell and an off flavor.

Finally, onto Brooklyn's Lager, our craft brew for this session. It pours into our glass with an amber color and white foamy head. Visually, the most attractive of the three. We both agreed it had a wonderful scent of hops and pepper. The flavor has a solid malty base with just the right amount of non-bitter hops to make it smooth and refreshing. There is SO much more flavor in this beer with a light buttery flavor/texture just before swallowing. Unlike the other two, the appealing flavors and scent actually increased as it warmed up.

End result--if you're looking for a beer for a hot day or with pizza, and one you're not particularly interested in tasting, Budweiser might be the way to go. Yuengling, while more flavorful, seems to be cut from the same cloth as Budweiser, has to be cold (which of course dulls the sense of taste) and best drank quickly. On the other hand, Brooklyn's lager was a delight, full of flavor and almost encouraging you to let it warm up a bit to get the full effect. Brooklyn's Lager wins this session by a mile!

If you're interested in trying a beer for your sports needs or just for hanging out with friends, Brooklyn's Lager is one you can't go wrong with and can be found in the following states...

Delaware, Florida, GeorgiaIndiana, Kentucky, Louisiana,Maryland, Massachusetts,Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania,Tennessee, Texas, Vermont,Virginia, Washington DC

Our first post--a brief history

Here it is, for better or worse, our first stab at trying to help people make discerning choices when it comes to that most difficult of questions...which beer should I have?? A brief history--we're fairly new to the whole craft beer experience, having really just dived in over the past year. What started out as a hesitant toe in the golden elixir has turned out as an all-out passion for both of us. We've volunteered at countless craft beer festivals to try to expand our knowledge of and palate for microbrews. We're frequent visitors to our favorite nearby bottle shops and avid followers of both and However, as we've moved forward into an ever-expanding world of beer, we noticed that most people still aren't aware of the epic changes occurring in the beer world and are content to drink what they consider to be "beer". This seems to stem from a lack of knowledge about what's out there (usually simply from a lack of exposure due to availability), mega marketing targeted towards driving people to a particular macro (Super Bowl ads, anyone?) and a general fear of the unknown. We want to address the first and third of these issues, as we certainly can't stand up to millions of dollars of marketing hype (Budweiser alone spends over a hundred million a year). So, in these posts we would like to compare apples to apples so to speak. We'll take a macro beer (Budweiser, Miller, Coors, etc.), a middle of the road beer (Yuengling, Sam Adams, etc.) and a craft brew (Stone, New Belgium, etc.) and do a his and hers taste comparison. We'll also let you know which states carry the specific micro brew that we're sampling. When all is said and done, we hope that you'll enjoy our blog and finally be able to branch out with confidence into the world of beer. Cheers!