Sunday, July 31, 2011

Yard's Brawler Pugilist Style Ale

And now for something completely different...

I happened to be at the only bar in town with a real beer selection. The place has a huge chalk board covered with maybe 40 different selections. I was looking for something random.

I asked the bartender to suggest something good. She sent me in the direction of Yard's Brawler and gave it a 9 out of 10.

A rather risky move on my behalf because typically if you entrust an unknown bartender to pick your drink you end up with either a Jersey Turnpike or they're lazy and give you water.

9 out of 10 'eh? Well shall see about that!

Yard's comes from Philadelphia. Which I for one do not really consider part of Pennsylvania. The battle of The Keystone State will always be raging. Solidarity brothers.

Yard's has been brewing since 1994. Relatively new to the craft brewing scene but they have an impressive lineup as well.

Here is what the Yard's website has to say about Brawler...

Boasting superior taste and champion flavor, the Brawler is crafted in the style of English session ales. This malt-forward, ruby colored ale is great for when you want to go a few rounds.

Is everything in Philly about fighting? Are they all goons like the Flyers? Even their beer?! I wanna see Snake Pliskin escape from the city of brotherly love. Hell, even some dude on the label is fighting the devil!

Actually, now that I look at it the dude looks like some hipster you would see at a a concert for some band that none of us here have probably heard of. He even has the mustache and tight pants! I am totally rooting for Beelzebub now.

Brawler itself is a good dark reddish color and is way too easy to drink. Anytime is a good time to drink some Brawler. Just after work, during church, attending funerals, court appearances. Very solid beer. I would love to try this stuff on cask.

4.2% ABV but it is not like some light beer. After a few you really have to wonder if maybe that was a misprint or some kind of really incredible cosmic joke. I only paid $3.75 for a bottle which is quite reasonable, I have also seen cases for around $32. This will most certainly be my next purchase.

Here is what we have learned.
  • Sometimes you can trust the bartender
  • There is at least one reason to let Philly exist
  • This is an excellent beer
Drinkability: 9/10
Value: 8/10
Taste: 8/10
Curb Appeal: 8/10

Overall: 8.25 /10

Peak Organic Brewing Company Pale Ale


I'm starting to really really really like the Peak Organic Brewing Company. I've reviewed a few of their other beers (see below) and they were both above average (with the IPA being exceptional). This is their Pale Ale, and it keeps Peak's batting average at 1.000, as it is a delicious and refreshing pale ale. 

The Pale Ale under review in this review is quite good. There is a little hoppy flavor to it, but not nearly as strong as their IPA (44 vs 76 IBUs), as well as some hints of citrus. It's also pretty light and crisp, and is a great beer to have at the end of a long day in the sun. Or during a long day in the sun if you're on vacation or something. I would even go so far to say that this is a great beer to have while hanging out with your friends by the pool or the lake or by some other body of water, it's that good. The pale ale runs at 5.1% ABV, and came in the 12-pack variety pack that ran $12.99. Out-of-state I've seen sixers that run at $8.99.

I had this and the other Peak beers while in Maine, so you might be thinking that I am over-rating them because of that, but you would be wrong, friendo. This pale ale (and the others) are quality beers that you will enjoy, regardless of the state you are in.

Drinkability: 7/10
Taste: 7/10
Value: 8/10
Curb Appeal: 8/10

Overall:7.5/10

Other reviews of Peak beers:

Peak Organic Brewing Company Pomegranate Wheat Ale


Peak Organic Brewing Company is one rad brewing company located in Portland, ME. I reviewed their IPA previously, which is divine in my opinion. The same cannot be said for the Pomegranate Wheat Ale, but its not too bad. Unless you don't like pomegranates, then you are fucked.

The Pomegranate Wheat Ale sounds like something out of a whole foods / co-op / commune produce section, as it is brewed from the likes of pomegranates, acai berries, and coriander. Acai berries are hotter than Justin Beiber right now, and health nuts will espouse its virtues and benefits without losing a beat. Coriander is just plain old Chinese parsley, or cilantro, or something like that. Both of them show up in this beer, and you can taste them. But you can especially taste the pomegranate. I happen to like pomegranates so I liked this beer OK. If you don't like fruity beers then you aren't going to like this one either. Given that it was a wheat ale and unfiltered, it was still pretty easy to drink, and it was quite refreshing. And it doesn't hurt that it is 6.000000% ABV (that was an improper use of sig figs, I know). I got this beer as part of a Peak variety pack ($12.99 for a 12 pack score!!!), which included three of their standard beers plus a "brewer's choice" selection. When I saw that the brewer's choice was this pomegranate beer, I said "Oh OK we'll see how this is" and I was pretty much OK with it. I bet some dudes got pissed upon seeing this fruity beer though and threw them at their television sets. The lesson is that you should not surprise people with beer selection, especially if they have already been drinking. Because we all know that drunk people are unsafe, raging, violent people. Like the Visigoths. Or the Swiss.

I don't think I would get this pomegranate wheat ale again, but since it came as part of a super duper cheap variety pack, I was OK with it. This variety pack was purchased in the state of Maine, which I have found to have super awesome beer deals (and no hefty deposits on growlers!) so you probably won't find this kind of deal outside of The Pine Tree State.

Drinkability: 6/10
Taste: 5/10
Value: 8/10
Curb Appeal: 7/10

Overall: 6.5/10

Bell's Kalamazoo Stout


First thought when I got this beer in my hand was "what the fuck, is that a zombie version of foxy miller?!" If you are lucky enough to know who that is then you will always see that when you look at this bottle. He loved the sauce, or so I am told.

Today we have Kalamazoo Stout. Brewed by Bell's in Galesburg, Michigan. These blokes are the local rivals of Founder's. I reviewed Founder's Centennial IPA and it fared really well. We really need to go up there and get some real shit started between these two.

Apparently, this is a phenomenal beer. I only got the chance to have two, so I might need some more convincing.

I did like the Kalamazoo Stout, nightmare inducing label notwithstanding. However, I feel that this beer is a trend more than it is a beer to be experienced. Look at the reviews of this stuff online, 100/100?!? They must think the sun shines out of Bell's ass.

Almost everything I expected of this beer I got. Dark? Check. Bitter? Check. Alcohol? Check.
Yep, it's a Stout.

Another thing, Kalamazoo seems to have a thinner than normal feel to it. That's not necessarily a bad thing. These tend to go down pretty easily and they won't be sent off to die alone either.

One unexpected, yet still pleasant surprise was the head on the Stout. The head of this stuff puffs up and fills a good two inches of the glass. Imagine a hefeweizen, but not for pussies.

Overall, I think I might have expected waaay to much of this beer. Don't get me wrong, but it seems like a lot of hype to me. Kinda like Google+

6.0% ABV so it's a respectable beer and you get the added benefit of having a Stout. Value is gonna tank on this one because someone bought them for me and I have no idea. I wouldn't purchase it anyway.

If it hadn't been for that horrendous label I would have probably forgotten about this beer.

Drinkability: 6/10
Taste: 5/10
Value: Unknown see above
Curb Appeal: 5/10

Overall 5.5/10

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Abita Brewing Company's Wheat Lager

This is another beer out of Abita Springs, Louisiana. I talked about the boozery back here when I covered their "less than appealing to men" Purple Haze. If the "Purple Haze" is the hippy-horseshit art student who went to Berkeley and majored in drum circles, this is her brother, in his final year at Harvard Law School. This baby has a crisp, refreshing taste; clean cut, reliable, reasonable, and responsible, like myself. I'm confident in my masculinity so I tossed a lemon slice in there; so I like fruit in my beer, wanna wrestle or something?

They use Pilsner (Pilsnerrrrrrrrrrrrrr!) and Wheat malts with Perle hops. Now this is a bit different than most wheat beers as this is brewed as a lager, not an ale and is filtered unlike certain cuss-machines or fight magnets. Its got an IBU of 15, I think distilled water has an IBU of 16, and an ABV of 4.2% which is less than appealing. This stuff is so easy to drink it's borderline retarded; I almost wish it was a little harder to drink and a little harder on the alcohol. Bold Statement #1: I can drink 12 of these in under 45 minutes. Bold Statement #2: Then I can steal more bases than Ricky Henderson and Otis "Nose Candy" Nixon combined. Now like I said I added a lemon, and the website actually suggests the same, so I can't review the core flavors until I finish my first one.

It has a soft, wheaty scent and a mild, dry, wheat taste. It's so mild that once you swallow it you can hardly taste it. I think I've actually used that line somewhere else. If you are into a wheat tasting beer no fruit is required, but I'm afraid for the common man, that the taste might be too dry. I'll roll a lemon deep when you team up with this baby, just in case. I mean it's better to be prepared, right?

This is a super beer when it's super hot and your whistle is drier than a Ray Romano stand-up performance. Ideal for after a meal, given that they are so light. Or if you and your buddy are playing grab ass by the pool or playing home run derby with a handful of pirates. This is something you can get into as far as a 12-pack is concerned. You can drink 12 of them pretty easy and it won't get old or weigh you down. I picked up a 12-pack sampler from Abita for $15 bones. It's got a flavor that can appeal to the men or ladies. Personally, I wouldn't share it. You can use this baby as a great trade beer early on when your friends pick up a 12 pack of something heavy. Be careful when you slam this though, a 12-pack can go down like "that" and you'll end up sleeping in a bush with wanguses on yourself. I also dig the no nonsense label on it. Their most popular beer is Turbo Dog so when the ladies see you rolling in with this sucker they are gonna be like "oh no mister what do you got heerreeee!!" Seriously.

Other Abita Beers:
Jockamo IPA
Restoration Pale Ale
Purple Haze IPA

Drinkability: 10/10
Taste: 7/10
Value: 5/10
Curb Appeal: 6/10

Overall: 7.0/10

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Coors Light


I had a strange occurrence while drinking this beer one afternoon. The kind of occurrence that belongs in the category of alien sightings and seeing women with beards and when you see a car driving down the street and you could have swore there was no one behind the steering wheel.

I was sitting on my back porch- all nonchalant and shit- eating a burrito from Hot Heads (not as good as Chipotle) and I was trying to decide what to wash that stuff all down with. My choices were water, milk and Coors light. Not knowing that two of those choices were the same thing, I choose the Coors because it had been way to long since I experienced the beauty of the Rocky Mountains.

I took a bite out of that mexican sammich, chewed it up, and swallowed it down. I then grabbed that silver bullet, cracked it open and took a big swig. Something was wrong. "No more taste buds??!!?" I thought. I took another slam jam bite out of the burrito to see if my buds were still working. They were. I took a slow sip of the Coors and realized the truth and began to weep. I couldn't taste the beer. It was completely absent of taste. I looked at the can in wonder to make sure that I had not mistakingly grabbed a can of water. It was Coors light all right and instead of tasting like shitty mass-produced American beer, it didn't taste like anything. I threw what was left of my burrito onto the street and went to bed.

What's up with this "When the mountains turn blue you know it's cold" bullshit?? Use your damn cheeks to see if stuffs cold you dummy!!

Just the other day I was eating another burrito on my back porch. I decided to accompany it with a Coors light because I enjoy drinking water with my burritos. I began to choke and scream on a piece of rice and my mother quickly offered me some water. "No!!" I yelled, raising my can of Coors into the air. "I have some right here!"



Drinkability: 14/10
Taste: Like not much
Value: 7/10
Curb Appeal: 5/10

Overall: ???/10




Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Lionshead Deluxe Pilsner




I have had this review in the back of my mind for some time now but have been hesitating to post it. Partially because of fear of the repurcussions but more because I am lazy.

I have a feeling that some might perceive this review as blasphemous. A lot of us around here grew up on Yuengling and as you can see here, we really do hold it in high reverence. What I am going to say is this, I think I have found a close and cheaper alternative to Yuengling Lager.

Lionshead Deluxe Pilsner.

First things first it is a Pennsylvania beer just like Yuengling. Brewed in Wilkes Barre-Scranton, which is famous for,... uh Bingo!. Really didn't make that up. They popularized Bingo. Also some show called The Office, but that show sucked. Oh yeah! The Scranton Penguins too!

I came across Lionshead when I was at the store, just perusing for something different. What struck me first is that Lionshead Pilsner was $4.99 for s six pack. I would imagine you could possibly find it cheaper somewhere else. Then again, it is only $4.99, if you find it cheaper somewhere it is probably because it could be fucking old.

About the beer. When I say that it is comparable to Yuengling, it is mostly because it has no distinctive taste either. You really can't say this beer is bad or good. It's a light, traditional American Lager. Don't get me wrong, I am not knocking on Yeungling, but it's very easy to drink. That is what makes it incredibly easy to like.

Weighing in a 4.5%ABV which is pretty close to the 4.9% you'll get with a Yuengling. It drinks just like it. You can pound these things into oblivion and end up like David Hasslehoff on the floor eating a cheeseburger. Only it will be an impression of him, because you're unlikely to get that drunk, I mean c'mon it is only 4.5%. On the upside, it will never make you end up like this guy.

Taste is altogether different. It has a watered feel to it, but not watered taste at all. It is really hard to describe the taste of this. According to the site, they use two-row, six-row barley, corn and add domestic hops for a touch of bitterness. I taste mostly the corn.

We talked about crap under the caps in another review, but if you get Lionshead one they have pictograph under the caps. I have yet to figure one out. Pictograph might be the most adult word ever used on ILoveTheSauce. If you really care to know what your cap means there is an entire website dedicated to them. http://www.lionsheadpuzzlecaps.com

It all comes down to this. I am having a really hard time placing this beer anywhere on an appropriate spectrum. It IS similar to Yuengling, but kind of like the less popular Billy Baldwin little brother of Yuengling. It works, but it just is ultimately missing that certain something to make it special.

Final word. If you are looking for something new and different to bring to a party that you can get down with all night, you have two questions to ask yourself. Do I care enough about what I am gonna drink? If you don't care, toss a coin. You'll be happy no matter what your drinking. If you are a cheapskate, save $2 or $3 and go for Lionshead.

Drinkablility: 10/10
Taste: 7/10
Value: 9/10
Curb Appeal: 7/10

Overall: 5/10 What else could I give it. Not great, but not bad.

Matt Brewing Company's Saranac Brown Ale

So it's 10:00 PM and I'm cooking sausage on National Scotch Day; for your health!

I've reviewed a few beers already from Matt Brewing Company; I reported on the brewery in this review here. This is another one of their seasonals; no big deal I got connections. Their website says it goes good with pizza and spicy foods, but, you know what Kojack? What DOESN'T go good with pizza and spicy foods? I mean to me, there's one thing I wanna know when dealing with food and beer. Should I drink this beer before I eat, during eating, or after I eat. Like, I'm not as fancy as some drunken hillbillies, so as far as complimenting my palate...I don't give a hoot! So, for people as fancy as me, you can drink this beer before, during, or after you eat. Sorta like a triple lindy; which will be a phrase I'll use to describe beers that you can drink anytime.


So they use 2-Row pale, Victory, and chocolate malts and Cascade and Columbus hops. True story: they don't actually sell Cascade dishwashing detergent IN Columbus, Ohio. Well, they might not. The only way I'd go near that city is to burn down Ohio Stadium and all the dirtbags in it. The general taste of the beer is a bit different than the classic Saranac style, which is high drinkability and no lasting, flavor. Now, I will give this one credit, it lasts much longer than most of their beers, and for a brown ale it is actually probably above average in that category, and I'll be damned it it doesn't go well with these Johnsonville Stadium Brats. I mean I should write to their website and express my love for this combination. It's really a good pair. (That's what she said)

So, yes, this flavor last a bit longer than their regular stuff. A nice, chocolatey taste. The aroma is sweet, and when I say "sweet" I mean "awesome"...and sweet. And you know what else is sweet? It's 6.0% ABV. I picked up this 12-pack variety pack for $14 and if I found a 12-pack of just this stuff, I'd surely drop it in my cart; along with a pack of Johnsonville Stadium Brats!

Plus its got some bullshit house on the water on their label. Yeah, I wanna live it it. They should market this beer as a woodsman's beer; like the guys who use and don't use Barbasol. That'd shove their credibility to the Ozarks...all the way from, oh yeah, New York.

Drinkability: 6/10
Taste: 7/10
Value: 6/10
Curb Appeal: 6/10

Overall: 6.25/10

Other Saranac Brews:
Irish Stout
Pale Ale
Irish Red
Amber Ale
IPA

Matt Brewing Company's Saranac Irish Red Ale


Life is full of lessons. I learn a shitload from my dad but you can find them almost anywhere; books, lectures, magicians. You might even get one from some handsome man like myself. If that's the case listen up. Ahem. Don't eat popsicles until you've finished your beer. Sorta like "You don't get no dessert until you finish your vegetables" but better. So I'm a beer and popsicle connoisseur and I found out last night that it's way smarter to eat your popsicles AFTER your beer. I can really go for a popsicle right now though.

I talked about Matt Brewing company here in case you want any background on them. I like their "no nonsense" site where they just ask you if you're over 21 or under 21 instead of your actual birthday, cuz A.) Who the heck can remember their birthday after a few and B.) Who the heck wants to scroll all the way down the columns to put their exact date in? I think the last time I put my actual birthday in a website was on my 21st birthday. I thought the C.I.A. was spying on me. But what did I know? I was just a dumb kid. Now I'm just a dumb adult. Some chick called me a "man" yesterday. Boy was she off!

So their malts used in this are 2-Row and Crystal. They also use Vanguard hops, if you're into that sorta thing. This yields an ABV of 4.5% and an IBU of 17. Now here's the thing with this rascal, and I mean that I'm a loving sense. Most Irish Red beer have a rich, tinted head like Charles Barkley on them where this does not. That means one thing, that it doesn't have a thick, full bodied malty taste, you turkey! That makes it more drinkable but I mean if you want a drinkable booze go down to the deli and grab yourself a wine spritzer or something. They advertise on their site that most people that aren't "beer drinkers" say they like their Irish Red. Then they also said they are mostly women. Yeah. They called you out ladies. No more Zimas with Jolly Ranchers for you! Man, I remember one time in High School I drank some Zimas after eating a whole pound of M&M's. Long story short I vomited and it straight up looked like chaw in the toilet. And those thin candy shells, that make it so they melt in your mouth and not in your hands; well, if you eat them fast enough you find out they don't melt in your mouth or in your stomach, and tear the shit out of your throat going back out of you!

So maybe we learned two lessons today? Oh, yeah, the beer.

So yeah, this beer, that is a bigger hit with the ladies than myself, has a sweet toffee and caramel scent to it. And they advertise that it has a taste more-or-less as complicated as long division; remainder NOTHING! I dunno. It's true that you can't put a single taste on this booze. It's sweet, a touch of hops, with some floral and toffee tastes but by the time you make up your mind about what it tastes like, the taste is out of your mouth.

This girl is light and easy to drink and compliments the variety pack I bought for $14 but at 4.5% ABV and it's" less than appealing" crisp taste for and Irish Red, may make me look the other way when picking out a beer. Good enough to like, not good enough to love.

Drinkability: 7/10
Taste: 4/10
Value: 5/10
Curb Appeal: 5/10

Overall: 5.25/10

Other Saranac Brews:
Irish Stout
Pale Ale
Brown Ale
Amber Ale
IPA

Sierra Nevada - Bigfoot Ale


I’m guessing this is named Bigfoot Ale because the immediate smack it gives you will put hair on your chest, or back in my case. This bold and beautiful barely wine is as strong and powerful as its name with a Jack Links beef jerky punch. Its sighting is about as rare as the beast itself, not even listed as a seasonal beer.

The brew boasts a reddish brown color with a nice frothy head, has a strong malt bite, a dry finish, with a stingy hop presence that you can chew. Sierra Nevada is not trying to hide anything with this one. The aroma is just as strong as the taste. A few of these down the hatch and you’ll be on your ass or swinging fists at your buddy and his girlfriend.

As far as comparable to other barley wines I’d say go for it. Its harsh on the taste buds, and my guess would have a salt and vinegar potato chip effect on your mouth after 4 or 5. At a couple bucks a bottle you definitely get your money worth with the amount of alcohol, but don’t buy a case unless you plan sharing at a campfire.

 
Alcohol content: 9.6% ABV
Bitterness units: 90
Malts: Two-Row Pale, English Caramel
Hops: Chinook (Bittering), Cascade & Centennial (Finishing), Chinook, Cascade & Centennial (Dry)
Yeast: Ale

Drinkability: 7/10
Taste: 8/10
Value: 5/10
Curb Appeal: 6/10

Overall: 6.5/10

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Abita Brewing Company's Restoration Pale Ale

I like beer. I like drinking it and I like the taste of beer. I also like writing the reviews as I'm drinking which has been atypical at best lately. I talked about Abita Brewing Company here when I reviewed their Purple Haze a few moons ago. I was pretty stoked when I bought this sampler but found to much chagrin after a brief stint in Pennsylvania my Turbo Dog and Amber Ale had been drank, drunk. They were gone, long and short. But my Restoration Pale Ales were still intact. I got the variety pack for $15.

R.P.A. is a mix of Pale, Lager, and Pils malts hopped with Cascade and used California Ale yeast. This yields a IBU of 20 and an ABV of 5.0%. This has a sweet, citrusy smell with understones of an ash tray. Yeah. It's weird. It's not a bull blown ashtray scent but it smells a little smokey. The taste is very mild. This is one of the lightest tasting Pale Ales I've ever had. Slightly bitter and hoppy with no after taste. Wet, and leaves your taste buds quickly.

If you are looking for a full bodied beer, this is not for you. This is a better beer if you are into lighter beers, like lagers or pilsners and trying to get into the pale ale realm; or splitting a case with your Bud Light buddy. I wouldn't pick this up again; but I love the bitterness of a pale ale. It's a nice, light beer, but I like a maltier, heavier pale ale.

Drinkability: 7/10
Taste: 4/10
Value: 5/10
Curb Appeal: 5/10

Other Abita Beers:
Jockamo IPA
Purple Haze IPA
Wheat Lager


Overall: 5.25/10

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Shipyard Brewery's Summer Ale

Shipyard Brewery fired up in 1994, right around the same time Jose Canseco won the award for comeback player of the year playing on the Texas Rangers. Also, am I the only person who thinks the Pirates should trade Neil Walker to the Rangers; so he can be "Neil Walker: Texas Ranger"? But I digress. Shipyard is based out of Portland, Maine and is the 15th largest microbrewery in the United States. If started up at Federal Jack's Restaurant in 1992. It was a bigger hit than crystal meth was to Jodie Sweetin and soon had to expand their operations to to their current establishment.

So Fred Forsley and Alan Pugsley opened up this brewery to meet the market needs and also thought it'd be a smart idea to make soda; because who the heck doesn't like soda? Diabetics maybe...and communists. So Forsley and Pugsley are now under control of Shipyard, Sea Dog Brewing company, and Casco Bay Brewing Company, which Merrian-Webster (Webster's Mom) considers "aggressive".

These guys put out about 12 beers years round with almost half of those being seasonals and they release one soda, or as hillbillies call it: pop.

This is their Summer Ale. Summer ales are good beers if you want to drink a lot of beer really fast, which is one of my top 10 favorite ways to drink beer. This bastard uses Pale Ale, Munich and Wheat malts, Hallertau hops (holla!), with English yeast. I give these guys full marks with the amount of information they have about their booze on their website though after trying a few beers from Shipyard I find their taste a little to be desired. There isn't too much in this or any Summer Ales, mostly floral fragrance. Drinkability of this beer is high and leaves almost no aftertaste in your mouth. It even tastes light for a Summer Ale but does have an ABV of 4.8% so these thing can catch up with you fast! I picked up this variety pack for $16 bucks for 12 bottles. Thats a pretty good deal; or you could buy 8 packs of baseball cards. I'm not sure but when I convert costs of goods and services to baseball cards, I end up only buying baseball cards.

This beer is a great way to beat the heat at a BBQ if you are trying to get refreshed and drunk at the same time, but if its not 100 degrees outside, there isn't too much hurry to stock up on this or any Summer Ale, in my opinion. Plus the label has a lobster sunbathing on it which is just about as cool as a design on a 10 year old's T-Shirt.

Drinkability: 8/10
Taste: 3/10
Value: 4/10
Curb Appeal: 4/10

Overall: 4.8/10

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project's Saint Botolph's Town Dark Ale

Another tasty tidbit coming out of Somerville, Massachusetts. This is Pretty Thing's Dark Ale. The name comes from the town of Botolph's Town, or abbreviated "Boston". Now, I know what you're saying, "How in the heck in that short for Boston". And as Tevia told us in "Fiddlers on the Roof" when asked about their prayer shawls, I will give you the same answer. "I don't know." (Not into musicals?) I guess if you take away half the letters you can get Boston...BOtolphSTOwN. St. Botolph is actually a legitimate character who partied in Yorkshire in the late 600's. To give you an idea of how old this dude is, Mecca fell that same century and Jesus turned 600 and 700. Another true story: year 600 was a leap year; no big deal.

So Pretty Things has been around since the December of 2008 and has this ideology that they don't make beers from certain recipes or attempt to make beer that someone else makes that they like. Their objectives are to make good beer that they like and that leaves the most amount of room for creativity in the booze making and use the beer they like as a starting point for their creations. And this 5.7% ABV gal gets her roots from P.T.'s brown ale favorites: Theakston's Old Peculiar, Robinson's Old Tom, and Samuel Smith's Yorkshire Stingo. So if you like those, try this. Or if you like this, try those. You get the idea, you turkey!

The thing about dark ales is this: I don't see much point in them. They are like nipples on men; cool but not at all practical. If I'm going for a malty, chocolately, dark beer, I'd have a stout or a porter. Dark ales do provide so drinkability but for all intensive purposes, I find them, in general, something to make on the back burner. Nut browns I guess are good. I dunno.

So this dark ale is pretty tasty though. it has a sweet, chocolatey aroma and a mild, chocolatey taste. That's to say, like most dark ales, the flavor is mild and non lasting. This is why I prefer stouts and porters over dark ales most of the time. I like a deep, rich flavorful taste. This beer is above average for dark ales but I'd really be interested in what Pretty Things can do for a stout or porter. This beer ran $6 for a 22oz bottle which is still a bit high to get into a steady habit of drinking. This is a nice beer to buy when you want to class it up a bit and have a nice beer to go with some beer brats.

Other Pretty Things Reviews:
Jack D'Or Saison Americain
American Darling Pale Lager

Drinkability: 7/10
Taste: 6/10
Value: 5/10
Curb Appeal: 8/10

Overall: 6.5/10

Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project's Jack D'Or Saison Americain

One thing you can say about Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project's is they are never short on words describing or labeling their booze. Saison beer, French for "season", is a general term that was initially given to low alcoholic pale ales, but since a sporadic revival in the mid 2000's, their popularity has grown yet again, particularly in the USA. Once believed to be possibly first brewed by Vidal Saison and initially used in soaking hair for extra volume, this French and Belgian style of beer got Americanized; or more booze was added to it because Americans refuse to be sober. After all, we did invent moonshine.

Pretty Things took the "Americain" approach and socked enough booze in this puppy to give it an ABV of around 6.4%. This beer is actually a running model of their beer and changes as Pretty Things feels fit; though they are good to update the drinkers on the changes they do. This is batch #2. I mentioned Pretty Things before in an earlier review and since then Dann has been really good about getting back to me; so I give them full marks on that. The label on this beer is, of course, a picture of Jack D'Or, conceived and drawn by Dann, though his wife Martha does the artwork on the bottles. The idea of Jack D'Or as said by Pretty Things is:

"Far away in a small clearing in the woods of New England, ankle deep in the mash tun, he contemplates and perhaps even conjures a batch of beer. For those of you who are new to this, Jack is a grain of malted barley, but more than that: he is the unifying force behind all of the Pretty Things."

This beer has a wheaty scent with citrus undertones. The taste is bitter and hoppy in the traditional Belgian style with a citrus-like, dry aftertaste. P.T. uses Vienna, Pils, and Wheat malts and four types of hops; Palisade and Nugget to name a few and three types of yeast to give it its dry, and deliberate mind you, character. This beer is a nice refreshing taste which is great to sip on after a meal or when you are out whitewashing some godforsaken fence. You don't want to slam these things like it's going out of style, because it isn't. I am not a huge fan of Saison-style hooch but this is not too bad. It runs $6 bucks for a 22oz which is a little higher than your casual boozehound likes to pay but the bottle is clearly "dope as shit".

Other Pretty Things Reviews:
St. Botolph's Town Dark Ale
American Darling Pale Lager

Drinkability: 7/10
Taste: 5/10
Value: 5/10
Curb Appeal: 8/10

Overall: 6.25/10

Shiner Family Reunion Six-pack


Y'all are getting some bang for your reading buck in this review, as I tackle all six beers from the Shiner Family Reunion six-pack. The reason I am doing it this way is because these beers pretty much all taste the same. Plus it's way easier than writing six reviews. Consider it a menage-a-six (in French, six is six, no different spelling - I feel gipped!).

Shiner beers are brewed by the K.Spoetzl (rhymes with pretzel!) Brewery in Shiner, TX, which is a small-ass town of 2070 people in the middle of nowhere between San Antonio and Houston. Spoetzl is the oldest independent brewery in Texas, being started by Kosmos Spoetzl in 1909. The brewery employs 55 people, and big props to their website for showing pictures of some of the employees on Shiner beer bottles. I always like it when the common man (or woman) is rewarded and acknowledged. The brewery makes 7 styles of Shiner, as well as a couple of seasonals depending on the season, ya know, with their most famous beer being Shiner Bock, now served in 41 states. I wonder why Yuengling can't get that distribution deal? - I would have loved drinking it in the hot hot heat of the California summer. Or anywhere else you can't currently buy that sweet, sweet, sweet nectar.

This variety box of liquid treats contained six different Shiner beers, all while selling for the low sticker price of $7.99 (read: great value). I'm going to list some of the different taste and drinkability characteristics for each of the beers below, but to tell you the truth, these beers all kind of tasted the same and were similarly easy to drink. They are all kind of watered-down, low ABV beers with average tastes, and were super-duper-UPER easy to drink. As my lovely wife said, "they taste like beer," which I guess is what any competent brewer should strive for. God forbid she tasted it and said "this tastes like turpentine" or "this tastes like maple syrup," although I bet there is a maple syrup flavored beer out there somewhere - FOR SHAME!!!! Now for the reviews...

Shiner Bock: Their most popular/widely distributed beer. There is a slight malty taste, but not a whole lot else going on. It's like dark colored beer water. But not bad! 4.4% ABV

Shiner Black Lager: This beer tasted like smoke. Seriously, like campfire smoke. Maybe they added some liquid smoke to the brew who knows, but at least it had some taste to it, which went down easy and was pretty yummy. 4.9% ABV

Shiner Kosmos Reserve: This beer is a shout out to the founder, Kosmos Spoetzl, and only appears every now and then, depending on when the brewery feels like making it. This is a total fridge beer, or one that you drink while watching your kid's (or someone else's kids) T-ball game. Gotta pass the time somehow right? It has a really mild taste, not much different from the others, but it super easy to drink. And it gives you a buzz if you drink enough of 'em. 5.0% ABV

Shiner Old Time Alt: I'm not sure what they mean by Alt, I thought it was misspelled on the bottle but I guess I am in the wrong here. This one has some hops to it, and you can taste them, but its not overwhelming at all. 4.2% ABV 

Shiner Blonde Ale: Probably the worst of the bunch, the blonde ale was pretty pathetic in the taste department and only had a little malt noticeable. Not a lot going on here. 4.4% ABV

Shiner Hefeweizen: The hefeweizen was probably the best of the reunion (kind of like Uncle Jessie at the Full House reunion), and it had some real flavor to it. I could taste some fruits, maybe a little orange or apricot, in this beer. And I usually think most hefes taste like dirty sausage, but this one didn't taste like that at all, so I enjoyed it a fair bit. The overall taste was weak for a hefe, but it was, as with the others, really easy to drink. Plus it had the highest ABV at 5.4%.

Like I said up top, while these are six different beers (at least by label and bottle cap), they all taste remarkably similar. But that isn't too bad of a thing, because the taste is pretty mild and smooth, and they are easy as hell to drink. These six were gone remarkably fast, like in less than a Jiminy-cricket minute. This was a fun six-pack to buy, and your party hosts will like you when you bring it because it screams FUN AWESOME TEXAS PARTY ANDREW WK YES YES YES NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO when you walk in the door with it, and its easy to drink/get drunk on so its a win for everyone. They aren't memorable beers by any stretch of the imagination, so you'll just as easily forget what these beers taste like as well as the rest of the night if you so choose to black out. So go ahead and try the Shiner Family Reunion six-pack - it'll make your family reunion more tolerable and maybe even help you to score with your cousin.

Drinkability: 7/10 (average)
Taste: 5/10 (average)
Value: 7/10
Curb Appeal: 7/10

Overall: 6.5/10

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Oranjeboom Lager



Oranjeboom "Original Dutch Recipe" Premium Lager was first brewed in Rotterdam, Holland (aka the Netherlands) in 1671. That's right, 16-f'in-71. That's a helluva long time ago. Want to know what was going on in the world in 1671? On May 9, 1671, this dude named Thomas Blood attempted to steal the Crown Jewels from the Tower of London. He got the jewels out of the tower, but was immediately caught because he was too drunk to run with all of the jewels. I read this on wikipedia and have a feeling that it was totally made up by some yahoo. Or maybe that is what the Brits did in 1671, get drunk and rob towers. This has nothing to do with Oranjeboom Lager, but did occur the same year that it was first brewed. This story did have to do with alcohol, so it's kind of related. Cut me some slack already. Translated to English, Oranjeboom means "Orange Tree" and symbolizes the Dutch Royal Family Tree, which began with the patriarch of the Dutch family. In 2004, the Oranjeboom brewery was closed, the brand was sold to InBev, and Oranjeboom is now currently brewed in Dommelsch, Germany. So much for a 333 year-run, Oranjeboom. Good times, good times.

This beer is OK. When I cracked opened the can (isn't that a wonderful sound, that of a can of beer being cracked open? It's as if angels are singing and rewarding you for a hard day's work, or a day of Halo, cheez whiz, and masturbation), I actually said out loud "ohhhh nasty" because the smell was just that, kind of strong and nasty. But it didn't taste nasty, but it didn't taste tasty either though. It had a strong malty taste, as well as a little tinge of hops and spice. I didn't like the taste overall though, hence the low score in that department. It was super easy to drink - I kept reaching for that can and before I knew it it was all gone, only to be replaced by a mild buzz and a bitchy headache. You can pick up a 500 ml (16.9oz for you non-metric system users) can at Trader Joe's for the whopping low price of $1.25 (you can't even get a slice of Plaza Pizza for that low cost anymore!) making this Dutch beer a steal. It clocks in at an average 5.0% ABV, but combined with the low price and the easy drinkability, you'll be wasted on the cheap in no time, which, given the economy, is definitely a good thing.

If you want to try something out of the ordinary that rivals traditional domestic lagers (read: nasty American beers) and save some money while you are at it, give Oranjeboom a try. Why the f not?

Drinkability: 7/10
Taste: 4/10
Value: 8/10
Curb Appeal: 5/10

Overall: 6/10

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Church Brew Works - Dunkelweizen

I love everything about Pittsburgh. I love living here, working here, cheering for sports here, and most importantly drinking here. That’s why it is absolutely unfortunate that everyone around Pittsburgh loves the Church Brew Works when in actuality it is overrated crap at best.

Located in hipster Lawrenceville, the website gives a long and drawn out history of the area dating back to the civil war, but has nothing to do with beer so I just skimmed the first 20 paragraphs to finally find some useful information. Church Brew Works opened in 1996 from a converted old church that no one wanted to go to anymore. I do have to say the interior and atmosphere is pretty cool. Still has the all the old stained glass, organ, and all the other stuff you would expect in a church. That’s where the good ends.

I’ve eaten there once, and drank there on a few occasions. The food was subpar at best and every beer I had was the nothing to write home about. I don’t know how things could go so wrong. The few staff that I encountered was unknowledgeable and couldn’t explain a damn thing about the beer.

Now, to the beer at hand, the Church Brew Works Dunkelweizen. An insult to German beer makers by taking this name. I “enjoyed” this beer during a rain delay of the first place Pittsburgh Pirates (7/18/11, because that will probably change) It was dark in color and that’s about it. The smell was malty and pleasant, and tasted like skunk , but this was not skunked beer. The milk stout I had there in the past had the same after taste, maybe it’s the water or something. The superb website gave me no info on the beer, so we can assume there were no malts, hops, or grains used. And with that assumption no alcohol produced to mask the flavor. At $8.75 a pint it was a deal worse than trading Bautista a few years back.

Drinkability: 2/10

Taste: 3/10

Value: 2/10

Curb Appeal: 6/10

Overall: 3.25/10