Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Brouwerij Corsendonk – Christmas Ale

Ahhh it’s that time of year again, a lot of people consider the fall season to be the best time of year for seasonal beer, but I consider the winter styles to be just as welcoming. For all you stout and porter fans, you know what I’m talkin about.

Corsendonk was brewed by a bunch of monks dating back to the late 1300’s, but was shut down by an Austrian Emperor in the 18th century because he didn’t like their beer, or that they taught Latin, but more likely because they were spreading religion. Most likely getting their followers drunk and really pushing god on them. I use this tactic when I want someone to stop talking to me at a bar, try it out, works like a charm. In 1982 it was reintroduced and has been a top Belgian in my eyes ever since.

I drank this one at the Sharp Edge in downtown Pittsburgh, on Light Up Night, so the theme really fit the bill. If you have a chance to go to a Sharp Edge location, there are a few around Pittsburgh, I highly recommend it. They have hundreds of beers to try and the staff is very knowledgeable. The price is high but there are beers there you won’t find anywhere else, plus each beer is served in its designated glass.

The ale itself is dark, smooth and malty, with a frothy head. I’m a big brown ale fan (not to be confused with brown eye) so this was right up my alley. The taste was a bit fruity, maybe some plum, raisin, and cherry, but with a spicy, nutty undertone and finish. This guy boasts an ABV of 8.5%, so perfect for the Holiday season when you wanna sit back relax and numb your mouth before shots come your way at the lube on Christmas night.

That said, this beer is a favorite for the holidays, but at 8 bucks a bottle, I don’t think I’ll be having many. Is Beast Ice still 8 bucks a case?

Drinkability: 8/10

Taste: 8/10
Value: 2/10
Curb Appeal: 7/10

Overall: 6.25/10

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Pabst Brewing Company's Old Style Lager

From the geniuses who brought you PBR, I pronounce to you, Old Style Lager! Jam it!

We covered a little bit on Pabst Brewing Company in this review of PBR or Old Milkwaukee but I'm sure I can find some more banter to discuss

First of all, we should mention the stellar line up Pabst has to offer us beer drinkers and hell raisers. Pabst beers are the "Don't you mess with me buddy" beer I like to drink at bars. These beers typically are drank but righteous dudes in dive bars that you know not to mess with and, of course, hipsters. Fortunately, the hipsters haven't moved to Old Milz yet, so there is still time.

So Pabst's root go back to 1844 where Jacob Best started a brewery and later named it after brew-druid Frederick Pabst. They currently are the holding company for such brands (brace yourself) as Schaefer's, Schlitz, St. Ide's, and Stroh's to name a few; talk about a line-up. I am loving these guys the more I read about em.

They hail from Woodbridge, Illinois; which is west of Woodbridge, Virginia and currently making it's move to it's new home in, bleh, LA.

Old Style, itself, was first brewed in 1902. I like to think it was to commemorate the death of Jack the Ripper. It was brewed in the Heileman Brewing Company in 'Consin. It grew some serious popularity in the midwest. The brewing moved to another location when the brewery was sold to City Brewing Company. Apparently their LaCrosse beer is identical to Old Style.

Plus, Old Style is Kräusened, which means wort is added to the beer when it is bottled. This encourages the yeast to further ferment. This will clean up the flavor and OBVIOUSLY reduce the levels of diacetyl and acetaldehyde you bozo! Go back to school, damn! This is pretty common in Belgian beers apparently, if you didn't already knoooww thaaat.

This baby tips the scales at 4.7% ABV and this 24oz goliath only rang up like $2. You'd have to be as smart as baboon-lobster lab experiment if you don't buy it.

It pours easy, don't much head on it and a crisp, clean look to it. I hardly saw any acetaldehyde. It has a yeasty, lagery smell to it. Drinks heavier than a light beer, but comparable to it's Budweiser and Coors counterparts. Pretty enjoyable. Having a profound appreciation of Old Style can get you pretty far with Chicago-ians.

It's a good beer for a good price. You might see Jay Cutler sipping on one of these or some classy bum in the street.

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

Overall: 7.25/10

Friday, November 25, 2011

Flying Dog Brewery's Doggie Style Classic Pale Ale

The moment I first sipped on this beer I said, "mm." A couple moments later I sipped it again and said, "oh wow, this is a special little treat." That's what this beer is; a special little treat. If I could end this review like that I would. But I gotta write more stuff to make Butala happy.

Flying Dog Brewery can be found down in Frederick, Maryland. These guys follow the great Hunter Thompson's quote "good people drink good beer." If you don't know who Hunter Thompson is go read a fucking book, dude.

This pale ale is one of the best brews made my Flying Dog. Those birds over at the New York Times even named it the number one pale ale in America. I wish everything tasted like this. It's quite refreshing so you can drink a lot of them after you finish your morning workout and at 5.5% abv, you can drink a lot of them and still do your daily activities. Its got a 35 IBU. I don't know what that means, but I like it.

All the artwork done for the brewery is done by Ralph Steadman, the same guy who drew pretty pictures for Thompson. The artwork on this bottle is Steadman at his finest.

At $10.50 a sixer this beer is a little tough on my college budget. But it's made in America so who gives a shit?

Drinkability: 10/10
Taste: 10/10
Value: 9/10
Curb Appeal: 10/10
Overall: 9.75/10

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Goose Island Brewery's Mild Winter Ale

So here I am, minding my own business on a late Saturday afternoon and I says to myself, "Why the heck don't I run through some of these Goose Island beers before the big Owen show". So here I am. I been real pleased with these characters. You might have remember about them when I covered their brewery in this review.

My overall opinion has been that Goose Island is at this point, the best brewery I've tasted in Chicago, though that my prove to be the Chex Mix "Bold and Zesty" hasty generalization of the month. But I mean not picking up a sampler from these guys is about as smart as sticking your dangus in car door; I mean "C'mon".

I like this winter ale, it isn't as heavy as most winter ales, but it does say "mind winter" not "wild winter". It goes down pretty fast and has a nice clean head on it contrasting its dark, brown appearance. So this won't be as heavy as a stout, porter or even Neil Diamond's brother. It's got a nice toffee, caramel flavor. If you swish it in your mouth like a floozy at a frat party you'll immediately notice a subtle, mildly butter, nutty flavor to this beer; really good. The aroma is a sweet, choco-toff-amel scent that is more complex than long division to a 3rd grader.

The ABV is 5.6% with an IBU rating of 28, which makes it 100 points less bitter than Burt Reynolds in "Cop and a Half"; that stone, cold glare he had during that movie; Jesus! They use Tettnang and Willamette hops; I never heard of Tettnang but it is probably pretty good. Malt includes are Carapils, Dark Chocolate, 2-Row, and Roast Barley.

This beer is a cousin, in my opinion, to the Snow Cap Ale that Pyramid puts out around the same time of the year. Not a cousin like "Gail the Snail" or some cousin you might hate. But like a cousin that you think is pretty cool, but you aren't really cousins, which is good in case you ever kissed on accident, you know? I mean a lot worse things happen in West Virginia so I don't know why everyone is on MY case!?!?

...that kind of cousin.

So, I don't know if I could drink a whole case on this watching the Blackhawks get shut out by St. Louis, but it's a great addition to this sampler. It's got a great taste and at $13 for a 12 pack, you'd have to be as smart as Philip Rivers in the final two minutes of a football game to not buy this.

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

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Peter Straub's Special Dark

So, you say you long for a beer that tastes like late autumn, football, hockey, beards and fires in fireplaces? BOOM. Straub Special Dark in yr MOUTH! Made in beautiful St. Mary's, PA, this amber delicacy is a great full bodied lager that warms you up in all the right places, kinda like a Snuggie that you can sip. And from a brewery founded in 1872 that boasts an eternal tap that comes out of a freaking rock, you probably shouldn't expect anything less than greatness. Peter Straub is responsible for all of this. Here is the most interesting google image result for Peter Straub:

I am blaming this greatness solely on haunting and magic.

Straub's Extra Dark offers some really unique tastes in a dark lager that somehow, despite the color and taste, is surprisingly drinkable and doesn't make you feel like you downed a christmas ham when you drink 4 beers. I'm really quite bad at describing tastes accurately and more of a fan of describing them with an event, (See Brooklyn Pennant Ale's description of tasting like a twinight double header at forbes field) so ill say that Straub's Extra Dark tastes a lot like sitting on a giant, overstuffed leather couch in front of a fireplace in a luxurious hunting cabin after a bow hunting excursion while watching a hockey game at 5pn when it's already dark. Kinda like that.

And in true Straubers fashion, a case of these bad boys was a great value, running me about 22 bucks for a case of bottles at the local distro, If only they would come in returnable bottles. One can dream.

So, if you like a transcendental experience while you suck down a few beers, grab some of these, put on a flannel, and check out for a few hours.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Goose Island Brewery's India Pale Ale

Hey turkeys, this is a review of Goose Island's IPA. Now you might remember I talked about Goose Island here, so I won't go into that again.

I am not too into IPAs, as you might know, but I tell ya, I've tasted a few in the past year that is really starting to change my mind. Now this is not a strong IPA, it only has 55 IBUs, so that's probably why I like it; beer that have IBUs in the 80s and higher, that's where I draw the line. They use Syrian, Fuggle, Cascade and Centennial hops; but apparently they use them in moderation.

It's got a nice golden color with a clean, medium head. The smell is bittersweet, with a grassy undertone. The taste is crisp and refreshing. It's fullbodied and has a medium hop flavor to it. It has a bitter aftertaste that you would expect from a IPA. Again, I got a sampler at the grocery store for $13 for a 12 pack, so you'd have to be a total loser to not buy this! Most of their beers have decent alcohol percentages and the IPA doesn't disappoint at 5.9%.

Everything I've had from these guys has been real rad so I'd suggest picking up this variety pack to anyone who has the necessary means to. The sampler ranks among the best samplers I've ever had. If you ever visit me, make me buy this for you.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Goose Island Brewery's Harvest Ale

Jack this shit to max volume as you read.

Before anyone gets too excited about this review, let me preface this by saying Goose Island was bought out by Anheuser -Busch which was later bought out by those Belgians InBev. So, it's always unfortunate when a good brewery gets bought out by Belgians.

Goose Island opened their first brew-pub in 1988 in Lincoln Park located in Chicago, Illinois by John Hall (not the guitarist for Orleans). Remember that song, "Still the One"? That song rocks so hard! A second brew pub opened in 1995 in Wrigleyville (also in Chicago) which was way bigger than the first. They served booze and food at these places, stuff like rabbit, duck, crap like that. They got over a half dozen regular beers and roll out seasonals all the time. They have tours all the time of the brewery (the first one) and also pump out a few types of soda also, though I hear the soda is not as good as the beer. Also, the beer gets you drunker than soda.

So I kept hearing from people when I moved here I should try some Goose Island and were pretty adamant about it. So I said to myself, I said "What the heck do I have to lose?" So I picked up a twelve pack of this Harvest Ale for like $13 bucks; I mean that's only like a dollar a beer. Only a great fool would pass up a deal like that. I am a learned man, so naturally I bought it with a smile. So I went home and cracked one of these suckers open and OH BABY! It was tasty.

This is one of the Extra Special Bitter beers available August to November. It's got an ABV of 5.7% and an IBU rating of 35 (their IPA has a rating of 80 so 35 isn't too bitter). This copper beauty has a thick rich head on her and the bubbles are tanned, so you know before tasting it's gonna be jacked with flavor. The taste delivers. It's brewed with cascade hops so it has a slightly bitter aftertaste, like if you were drinking a pale ale, but the caramel, pale, and wheat malts give a rich, full bodied flavor in your mouth, so the aftertaste isn't all hoppy. The smell is really pleasant. A sweet, malty aroma that is representative of the taste.

So I mean a dollar a beer, for 5.7% ABV, and a brand of beer known Illinois-wide as a quality microbrew is a pretty good deal overall. And even though it's now owned by InBev, I'll continue to try their stuff. It's good stuff.