All posts by grotusque

My name is Dan and I like a lot of things, but this blog will be about the beer I drink and occasionally make. Well. Mostly.

Thanksgiving Reviews 2019 #1

The bonus of being on vacation: Lots of new beers to try! So here are the lightly edited notes, taken in between chats with family, a little television and a lot of card games.

Paradise Creek Brewery-Hop Pyramid IPA. Orange nose? It disappears so fast I can’t get a grip on it. The hop flavors aren’t too strong: lots of caramel flavors, with only a hint of hop bitterness. Feels pretty standard, and I wouldn’t be opposed to another.

unknown hazy IIPAWhat is this beer? Who made this beer? Omnipolis-Fatamogarna? Iberia IPA? What wording there is could be a black metal album logo and the fine print is…well, fine. This is a weird way to market this beer. But it’s reasonably well balanced and not too sweet. I’m not just a little surprised by how tasty this hazy is but I am definitely baffled by the marketing choices.

Wet Coast Brewing-Soppin’ Wet wet hop ale. While the nose is hop forward and a little tangerine, I don’t associate that with fresh hop ales. Still; the beer itself is pretty mild and very juice forward. It’s not so sweet that I recoil form the beer and as a mildly juicy not quite hazy ale, I can get behind it.

Blackberry Farm-Classic saison: this is classic in every sense. Funky,  with a solid malt backbone to it. It’s a proper sipping beer, with just enough funkiness to balance out the sweetness.

Fat Orange Cat blonde stoutFat Orange Cat-All Cats Are Gray In The Dark-blonde stout: this smells like goooood milk chocolate and holy crow it tastes like it too. Wow. I like it a bunch.

Two Beers brewing-Overhang Imperial Porter, bourbon barrel aged. Kinda like I’m chewing on a piece of wood. There’s a sour finish-is this infected? The nose seems smoky,  and then my friend says “The sound you’re making is horrible, so I can’t imagine that it’s good.” And he’s right-I am just not enjoying this beer, I’m trying to lick the flavors out of my mouth. It tastes like flat coke with rum.

Counterbalance brewing-IPA; this tastes like a classic, dank IPA. Not as much malt flavor as I’d like for balance, but a hop lovers delight.

Round Two #28\Second Pint H4A

Baerlic Gray Scale lagerBaerlic’s Gray Scale, which is a coffee-Vienna style lager. That’s weird: coffee stouts and pale coffee stouts are both things I’ve had and, as visually weird as a pale stout can be, it’s still pretty tasty.

But a coffee lager is a new thing and I cannot pass up a chance to try a new thing!

The coffee is in the nose but it isn’t oppressive. That’s good, because this is a lighter style of beer and could easily be overwhelmed. The scent is constant, though, all the way down; there’s no point where I don’t know I’m drinking a coffee flavored beer.

The Gray Scale is…challenging. Because there are some sweet flavors here, undoubtedly from the malt, that keep this beer in check. I am sure I don’t have to tell anyone how intense coffee flavor is, though and there aren’t lots of other flavors in the Gray Scale to keep that coffee back.

As it warms up, the beer gets a little sweeter and the finish becomes crisper, making it easier to drink.

Glass two: I have a chance to notice how quickly the head on the beer settles: a good centimeter and a half in not more than 30 seconds!

The nose is again a solid coffee sweetness, but when I drink the Gray Scale, I’m able to pick up a little more effervescence this time-a bit more pop on my tongue.

That backs off quickly and now that I’m in the middle of the beer, I’m drinking coffee sweetened without milk. Which I don’t ever think I’ve had, and maybe that’s why I’m so puzzled by this beer. I don’t drink coffee, so part of the experience is simply lost on me.

I really like the first beer, but in the second glass I’m experiencing palate fatigue and I don’t want more of this. Despite having a short pour, that second glass is a struggle to sip on. I’m torn between wanting to pound it down, or just take my time.

I settle for taking my time. The final third of the beer again becomes crisper but I can’t help but wonder if I wouldn’t’ve been happier with an even shorter pour than I got.

Still: for one glass? This is a damn solid beer.

Today’s second pint goes to Hygiene 4 All. Disclosure: I know a person working there and think what they’re doing is cool.

Proof-A Review

I recently finished Proof by Adam Rogers, which is about the science around alcohol.

Longtime readers of the blog know that I really like the science behind beer; the  processes that go into making a glass of lager or ale can easily connect damn near everything in the world. A book like this is definitely in my wheelhouse.

Proof, however, slides past beer pretty quickly and focuses more on distillation and the science around it. The book makes a pretty solid case for doing so; it’s discussion about fermentation goes into how this is a natural process, whereas making spirits is something humans have engineered.

But that was fine by me, because the science is still the science and discussions around yeast, ethanol, chemistry and how these things interact with humans generally apply regardless of the style of alcohol you consume.

However, the science was occasionally a little unclear for me: discussion on how fungus evolved in Japan to make sake, for example, didn’t have much depth and felt like they were being pushed quickly through. Similarly, the chapters on ethanol’s interactions in the human body used a lot of new terms without giving me enough distinction between them for me to feel like I understood the subject. This may be to prevent getting laypeople confused but I wish it had been clearer, even if this meant more explanations.

But Proof is no less fascinating for these flaws: many parts of the book detailed scientists working on things I was surprised that we didn’t already know-for example, how, exactly, does alcohol affect people? What happens when you’re hung over? What happens to alcohol inside a barrel?

Along with other questions that I just didn’t know and found cool answers too, like How many flavors can a person detect? How did different cultures approach getting fermentation to work?

The dive into these questions were intriguing! I got windows into different cultures, history lessons, science lessons (turns out people can easily detect about six scents if trained, four if not, and then the brain starts to lump things together!) and of course, the people who invest their lives and time into this subject. I enjoyed this read and recommend it if you have any interest in the subject.

Round Two #27\Second Pint SotR

Breakside French Quarter barleywineBreakside’s French Quarter: a barleywine with rye, aged in brandy barrels? SHOW ME WHAT YOU GOT.

The nose is boozy-and at 11%, that makes sense. But a sip off this gives me cinnamon and then some spice from the rye. There’s a bit of vanilla, too, which I wouldn’t have thought would be there. The normal caramel flavors I’d expect seem to have been substituted for chocolate.

So this is unusual as heck, right? I’m not sure what to think about this beer. A quick search to see what kind of barrels are used to age brandy comes up with oak barrels. This explains the whiskey qualities I am getting (vanilla, some spice), but what I can’t get around is the strength of this beer.

It’s a little like I’m having a weak shot of whiskey instead of a barleywine. Or a glass of alcoholic brown sugar with cinnamon. As I stumble on this idea, I realize I’ve locked in on what my issue is: it’s too sweet and too thin for the potency of flavors it’s presenting.

The second round has a less intense nose. The whole beverage seems a little more muted, actually, except for the cinnamon, which threads its way through the drink.

This is a miss for me: cinnamon and brown sugar might sound delightful to you but it’s a wrong combo for me. I can see how this is meant to feel like a winter drink-a mulled wine replicant, maybe? The cold nights have descended upon the city and seasonally, these kinds of flavors match it, but I can’t go for this beer.

Today’s second pint goes to the Sisters of the Road.

Parental Tangental

So, hot on the story about female influencers in beer, I read about women in the industry who become parents while working.

On the one hand: it’s pretty cool to see people working jobs they love for as long as they feel capable. On the other, the stark contrast between the brewer in Australia and the ones profiled in America remind me that we have a long way to go as a country, to enhance the lives of citizens.