Sunday, January 16, 2011

MINI-REVIEW--De Struise Pannepot

From Vleteren, Belgium comes this Quadrupel at 10% ABV. This is a 2008 bottle we had shipped to us straight from the source. Pours dark with a foamy tan head. The aroma has a bit of alcohol to it and a faint scent of chocolate and bananas. Bubbly on the tongue with a flavor of smoked/roasted dark fruits and surprisingly, no alcohol bite.

This was an easy 4 out 5 stars. One of the best quads we've had with meticulous attention paid to the flavors and appearance. If you can't locate this, you can purchase them direct at the link below. Fantastic beer!

MINI-REVIEW--De Dolle Extra Export Stout

From Esen, Belgium's De Dolle comes this Stout at 9% ABV. This is actually a bottle we found from 2004! Pours black with a tan head. Not much aroma. However, what the aroma was lacking the taste more than made up for! A sweet roasted coffee flavor that is out of this world. Really expected to be disappointed with this but we're happy to report that this ages beautifully!

4 out of 5 stars. Haven't had this fresh but if it's anything like the aged bottle, we're in for a treat!

MINI-REVIEW--Heavy Seas Below Decks Barleywine aged in Cabernet barrels

From Heavy Seas out of Baltimore, Maryland comes this barleywine at 10% ABV. The twist is that this particular batch has been aged in Cabernet barrels. Pours brown with a cream colored head. The aroma is of red wine mixed with malted barley. The taste is wonderful with a dry red wine alcohol flavor at first that changes to a buttery sweet caramel malt flavor that balances it out. Bubbly on the tongue with a good balance between the caramel and wine flavors with dark fruit tossed in the mix as well.

Complex and really tasty even fresh (we usually like our barleywines with a good year on them), we can't wait to see how this one ages. 4 out of 5 stars! Get some to warm you in the dead of winter...

MINI-REVIEW--Cigar City White Oak Aged Jai Alai IPA

From Cigar City in Tampa, Florida comes this IPA at 7.5% ABV aged on American White Oak. Pours with a cream head and a medium amber color. The head is fluffy like clouds as it dissipates. Beautiful in the glass. The aroma is of citrus, oak and pineapple. Tastes phenomenal! Tasting exactly how it smells with loads of tropical fruit. Sweet but a hop bitterness at the end prevents it from becoming cloying, yet the oak balances out the bitterness so it finishes clean. Amazing IPA!

As you can probably tell, we like this one. A lot. However, James likes it more than Aimee does, so we're going to keep it at 4 out of 5 stars. If you find it!!

MINI-REVIEW--Cigar City Humidor Series Cedar Aged IPA

Cigar City Brewing in Tampa, Florida created this version of their Jai Alai IPA which comes in at 7.5% ABV. Pours copper with a white frothy head. The aroma is of citrus and spicy cedar. Refreshing and crisp with a wonderful balance between the cedar and citrus flavors.

This very tasty beverage won was the Gold Medal winner at the 2009 GABF in the Wood and Barrel Aged Category. It's easy to see and taste why! We give this 4 out of 5 stars. Now go get some!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

MINI-REVIEW--AleSmith Wee Heavy

From AleSmith out of San Diego, California comes this Wee Heavy at 10% ABV. Pours dark brown with a malty tan head. Our sniff gives us fleeting caramel and alcohol. The taste is of malts with a strong alcohol bite yet it still manages to finish sweet with a complex flavor that most Scotch ale's we've had are lacking. A silky/buttery texture just adds to the appeal.

4 out of 5 for this brew which is one of the best Scotch ales or wee heavy's we've had. You can't go wrong with this one, a present from our brother-in-law Russ in Cali. Thanks for the shipment!

P.S. You'll also notice the wonderful electric wall outlet in the background. Thankfully, our photog friend Amanda helped us out with a bit more of a professional look for our photos. Thanks, Amanda!

MINI-REVIEW--Weyerbacher Blithering Idiot

From Weyerbacher out of Easton, Pennsylvania comes this Barleywine at 11.1% ABV. Pours brown with a frothy tan head. Ahhhh, the aroma is delicious with dark fruits, caramel, malts, and black licorice. Just amazingly complex! The flavor doesn't let us down either. Very sweet and tasty with the taste mirroring the scent. Just a wee bit of an alcohol kick, especially with this ABV. A dangerous drink but perfect for snowed in winter days like these!

We give this an easy 4 out of 5 stars as it's one of the better barleywines we've had. Do yourself a favor and pick some of these up to help get rid of that chill in your bones!

MINI-REVIEW--Sweetwater Happy Ending

From Sweetwater out of Atlanta, Georgia comes this Imperial Stout with a 9% ABV that was actually bottled in 2009. Pours black with a mocha head that is bubbly and sea foam. The scent is promising with chocolate, whoppers and bacon? The taste doesn't quite live up to the promise of the aroma. While there's plenty of roasted malts, we didn't really get the chocolate or smoke in the taste. The mouth-feel was a bit too thin for us, too.

We'll give this 3.5 out of 5 stars. While our reviews may seem a bit harsh sometimes, this really is a passable Imperial Stout, we've just had better.

MINI-REVIEW--Heavy Seas Smoke on the Water

From Heavy Seas out of Baltimore, Maryland comes this smoked porter at 8% ABV. Pours black with a mocha head. The scent is very light but we picked up some roasted malts. The roasted malts carried over in the flavor but surprisingly no smoke flavor at all. What the??

Probably the most disappointing Heavy Seas brew we've had, we'll give this 3 out of 5 stars. Not a bad porter but not even the slightest hint of the smoke.

MINI-REVIEW--Cigar City Sea Bass

From Cigar City in Tampa, Florida comes this Farmhouse-style ale with an unknown ABV. Pours extremely carbonated with a 4 finger tan head and dark brown in color. An aroma of balsamic vinegar crossed with barnyard. The taste is incredibly dry with a sour aftertaste. The more we drank this the more sour it got.

We're going to give this 3.5 out of 5 stars. We weren't prepared for a straight sour but that's what we got. We'll sum it up as "interesting".

Monday, January 10, 2011

MINI-REVIEW--North Coast Old Stock Ale (2008)

From North Coast Brewing Company out of Fort Bragg, California. This Old Ale comes in at a whopping 12.5% ABV. We're hoping the age has cooled it off a bit! Pours brown with a minimal tan colored head. The scent is straight malt. Very sticky sweet fruit flavor with a huge amount of malt and a serious alcohol bite even after a couple of years in the cellar!

Very tasty but still a bit too hot, we'll give this a 3.5 out of 5 stars. We found a few bottles of this vintage, so we'll revisit this in another year.

MINI-REVIEW--Samuel Adams Infinium

A collaboration between the Boston Beer Company and Weihenstephaner Brewery from Bavaria, Germany. This is an attempt to make a champagne like beer and comes in at 10.3% ABV. Pours with a serious off-white head and a deep gold with a huge amount of carbonation. They certainly got the looks right! The aroma is at turns fruity, buttery and spicy. Tastes exactly how it smells with a honey sweetness in the aftertaste. This reminds Aimee of a buttery cracker with marmalade on it. This reminds James of something he'd rather not visit again!

The packaging is absolutely gorgeous but the contents just don't live up to the promise. We'll give this a 3 out of 5 stars for the attempt. In our opinion, save your hard earned cash and pick up a bottle of the Duvel Tripel Hop instead!

MINI-REVIEW--Duvel Tripel Hop

This Belgian IPA is from Duvel Moortgat Brewery in Breendonk, Belgium and comes in at 9.5%. Pours a cloudy gold color with a thick and fluffy white head. The aroma is very floral and piney. The taste is out of this world goodness! Floral, peppery, earthy, slight honeysuckle. Very unique and unlike any other beer we've ever had!

Absolutely delicious and deserving of 4 out of 5 stars. Run out and grab a bottle before this limited release disappears!

MINI-REVIEW--Russian River Supplication

This "wild American ale" or sour beer comes from Russian River in Santa Rosa, California and is 7% ABV. Pours an amber brown with an off-white thin head. The smell is barnyard or "horse blanket" with a bit of a spiciness to it. First sip causes the mouth to pucker as somehow this beer is both tart and sour at the same time!

Although quite tasty, we've had better so we'll give this 3.5 out of 5 stars.

MINI-REVIEW--Heavy Seas Thank You, Thank You Very Much

In honor of Elvis' birthday this past Saturday, we decided to open our bottle of Heavy Seas 15th Anniversary Double IPA. This ale comes out of Baltimore, MD and is 8% ABV. Pours a pale amber into the glass with a cream colored head. An aroma of citrus and piney hops which leads directly into the taste. Starts off piney/citrusy/floral and ends with a sweet, pleasant, bready malt backbone that finishes just slightly bitter. Very well balanced.

We'll give this 3.5 out of 5 stars and while not as tasty as their Loose Cannon this is well worth a try!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Beer Trip #2-Stop #7-Sam's Quik Shop
The last stop on our trip as we headed back to GA was Sam's Quik Shop located at 1605 Erwin Road in Durham, NC. We'd heard great things about this place and had to stop by. We weren't disappointed! Mild mannered convenience store on the outside, super powered craft beer store inside! Literally everywhere we looked there were shelves and coolers overflowing with some of the rarest craft beers we've seen. We were shocked that this little place could put mega-stores like Total Wine to shame. It is now officially a must visit anytime we make the trek from GA to VA. A huge selection, you have to stop by and be shocked if you're in the area, just make sure you have plenty of room in your trunk!

Beer Trip #2-Stop #6-Commercial Taphouse and Grill
A snowy Christmas night in Richmond, VA found us at the Commercial Taphouse. Located at 111 North Robinson Street, the Taphouse was Richmond's first taphouse and a big part of the budding craft beer scene there. We sat down at the bar and met with Sean O'Hern, the bartender. We chatted about the Richmond beer scene as we enjoyed an aged Victory Old Horizontal and others from their 15 taps. Sean is an avid home brewer as well and was very quick to answer any questions we had about what was on tap. The place was hopping but somehow Sean and the cook were able to keep up and we had a delicious meal from the grill. We got to know a few of the other patrons and had a wonderful Christmas night at the bar. We couldn't have asked for a more perfect setting for our craft beer Christmas. Snow, the bar, the people and the beer made this a night to remember! When you're in the area, make sure you stop by the Commercial Taphouse and Grill in the Fan and experience the Richmond craft beer revolution first hand!
2006 Victory Old Horizontal and Starr Hill Pale from the cask

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Beer Trip #2-Stop #5-Legend Brewing Company

The view of Richmond from the deck
When we arrived in Richmond, Virginia, one of our first stops was Legend Brewing Company located at 321 West 7th Street, just south of the James River and downtown. Legend has a special place in James' heart, as Richmond is his hometown and he actually had a taste of their first cask way back in 1994 at the Commercial Taphouse (which we'll review later). Fifteen years after the brewery officially opened they've grown from a tiny hole-in-the-wall tasting room to a full-scale restaurant with a rooftop deck and a view of Richmond that has to be seen to be believed. We tried in advance to set up a tour, but being Christmas Eve, the brewers and management were off and they were running with a skeleton crew. James' daughter joined us (she lives in Richmond) and we sat down and ordered a flight. We were very impressed by the consistency and quality of the beers with the most love being shown for the Barleywine, Tripel, Chocolate Porter and their flagship Brown Ale. Our waiter, Wil (we're going by our receipt), was very attentive and chatted with us about the brewery and beers. We had a fantastic dinner and dessert as we opened presents. This was a wonderful start to a perfect Christmas weekend! Of course we couldn't leave without purchasing a 4-pack of the delicious Barleywine since Legend is not distributed in GA. Richmond's only brewery is certainly living up to it's namesake. If you're in the Richmond area, you must plan on a visit to Legend and if it's warm weather, check out the phenomenal view from their rooftop deck!
The bar/restaurant