Saturday, May 26, 2012

Peak Organic Brewing Company Summer Session Ale

Well it's Memorial Day weekend, and that means its the unofficial start of summer (f*** you, summer solstice). That means its time for BBQing, crappy summer movies, and here in Chapel Hill, senseless murder and violence in front of elementary schools. Since Chapel Hill has the most crime, hobos, and top-siders per capita in the US, I guess this is just par for the course. But seriously, people WTF has happened to our country? If we all just had a snog or two of Peak's Summer Session Ale we'd be living in Utopia-ville by Labor Day.

I've covered Peak Organic Brewing Company extensively on this here fine blog (use that snazzy search bar up yonder to check out past reviews), so I won't spend too much time singing their praises in this column. They rarely make a bad beer (I'm looking at you Pomegranate Wheat), and the Summer Session Ale is another fine product to come pouring out of Peak's sterling beer tubes. Peak claims that this beer is a hybrid between a west coast  pale ale and a traditional summer wheat beer, and I totally buy that marketing statement. It's kind of hoppy like a pale ale with a nice citrus taste (a floral bouquet if you will), but it also has that unfiltered character of a wheat beer. It has a pretty despicable 5.0% ABV, and even I, Mr. super light-weight, was able to have 2 of these last night and nary feel a buzz. At $8.99 a six-pack, its not a steal, but it's not a deal either.

The hype around this beer was pretty high, as I have been waiting for it for quite a while (~2 weeks) in order to add to my proud display of Peak six-pack boxes on top of my kitchen cupboards. Wait, what's that? I'm not in college anymore and it's not 2003? Whaddya mean I'm almost 30 years old? And what's this about I got a girl (wife) pregnant and I have a 14 month old baby to take care of? Hahaha, that's totally funny. You're such a jokester, you totally had me for a second. I'm gonna go eat a Totinos pizza, listen to Taking Back Sunday, and play NHL 94 now. Lates.

Drinkability: 9/10
Taste: 7/10
Value: 6/10
Curb Appeal: 8/10

Overall: 7.5/10

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Lebatt Blue Light Lime

Stop laughing. I mean it. I'm using this "review" as an opportunity to talk about the glory of big cans and lawnmower beers and sunburns. I'm one of the few American males that don't completely discount the recent surge in lime flavored bullshit as "for girls" or "stupid". (Iron City Mango is a different story altogether.) I'm a giant fan of session beers in giant cans, because you really can't turn your nose up at an over-sized novelty item. Hulk Hands were sweet, right? So are foot long hot dogs, 6 pound cheeseburgers, monster trucks. See the trend? ALL OVER SIZED AND NOVEL. Let's set the scene, shall we? It's late June and you, as an adult, have lawn care responsibilities*. These aren't necessarily difficult tasks, but a pain nevertheless. You glance out the window and realize that maybe those funny looks the neighbors were shooting you probably had something to do with the fact your lawn looks similiar to this:
With a heavy sigh, you check weatherbug and see that it's a soul crushing 88 degrees outside. Cloudless, blue sky. With disdain, you man (or woman) up and do your suburban duty. You battle sweat in your eyes, pissed off bees and other unknown insects. You manuever your mower with utmost precision around poorly thought out shrubs and flower beds. You even get a little crazy and try to re-create the famous center field vag in your back yard. As you sweep up the driveway, you admire your job well done. You struggled through oppressive conditions. You deserve a reward. A token to show yourself how great you really are. You go into the fridge. Purple stuff, water, Sunny D. None of these will quench your mansized thirst. There, in the back, you notice something. No, not the leftover olives from pizza night, dumbass. The shiny, ice cold can of domestic goodness. The lawnmower beer. The gold medal you deserve after completing the Olympic event that is lawn care. The lawnmower beer is the male equivalent of the girl's bubble bath wine. The adult equivalent of the collegiate shower beer. Just a little something to reward yourself for a job well done. A damn good excuse to hear a pop top open while it's still light out. No one, has beef with this tradition. You did your chores, treat yo self. But why stop at a mere 12 ounces, my friend? You got the green light, drive like you mean it. Stock your fridge with big cans for moments like these.

 The big can is a tradition unlike any other. Presumably made popular by the homeless, the big can is for the man who doesn't want just one beer, but does not want to be attached to the stigma of actually being a homeless person and knocking back a 40oz of Olde E at noon on a Saturday. The glory of the big can is the affordability and variety available basically everywhere cigarettes are sold (unless you live in Pennsylvania. Then you actually have to seek out the holy grail of day drinking). You can go as scummy as colt 45 or as classy as Heineken. Flawless planning by alcohol companies ensure that every big can is a watery, chuggable session beer you rarely pay more than a buck fitty for. Characteristics that are synonymous with lawnmower beers.

 For my first foray into mower beers in 2012, I shopped around. I considered my options. Tecate big cans are a fridge staple from May until August, but recent developments in the Mexican sociopolitical world forced me to consider other options (The gas station was out). But then, I saw a sign. Literally. A sign that any flag waving American male will never pass by. "Beer blowout!" I put my skepticism aside and looked into this claim. And, an offer unlike any other presented to me. 12 BIG CANS OF LEBATT BLUELIGHT LIME FOR 8 DOLLARS. 2 cases purchased, no questions asked. Already cold, loaded into my trunk by a human other than myself. Nary a finger lifted. Since this is a review, and not really storytime, I shall delve into the characteristics of this beer with no hesitation. It tastes like sunburn. Light and limey without a trace of salt like those communists over at Bud Lite force you to indulge in. It's from Lebatt, which is Canadian and somewhat respectable there. Why our neighbors in the great white north would decide making a beach beer is a good idea is beyond me, but i'm damn glad they did it. I'm not making a bold statement and saying this is the best beer you can keep in your fridge. Far from it. But for a stinking dollar per can, you're an idiot to choose anything else to use as the go to lawnmower beer.

*Those living in cities with pavement and traffic and noise and stupid things, just throw back to the memory of shitty chores you had as a child

Drinkability: 9/10
Taste: 5/10
Value: 10/10
Curb Appeal: 10/10 - Rappers rap a lot about big cans now instead of 40s. Seems like an endorsement to me.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Wychwood Brewery – Hobgoblin

First off, a pretty kick ass website for Wychwood.  Wychwood is located in Witney, Oxfordshire UK, sounds pretty prestigious, but history will tell you the city’s claim to fame is bread, blankets, and beer. It must be a pretty cozy town.  The brewery was started in 1983 named ‘Eagle Brewery’, then changed its name to ‘Glenny Brewery’, then finally ‘Wychwood Brewery’ in 1990. In 1988 Hobgoblin was first brewed by request from a local landlord who wanted celebratory ale for his daughter’s wedding.  The guests were so giddy and drunk, Wychwood knew they had something good on their hands, fast forward a few years and they started bottling it in 1996.

Not to slam the beer in any way, because it’s pretty damn good, but when I ordered it, on the menu it was titled ‘HoPgoblin’, so I expected a very hoppy IPA. Then when it was poured I realized it was a typo. Talk about your snaffoos.  But no harm, I love brown ales, and I’m not one to turn down a beer of any sort at any time.

The color is a nice deep brown, and very sparkly. It’s like the Reunite Lambrusco of wines, if it was a beer, if that makes any sense.  Not very much head, like pouring a Cherokee Red, just fizzed out in a few seconds, but that’s ok.  It’s not hoppy at all, I’m guessing all that was used they added at the end for aroma, because there is definitely no bitterness and it’s very crisp and clean. I’d drink this anytime of year, some good malty, toffee, chocolate notes, and not heavy at all. I’m gonna search for some more Wychwood’s out there.

Did I mention the sweet witch on the bottle? 

ABV: 5.2%
Hops: Fuggles, Styrians
Malts: Pale, Crystal, Chocolate

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

Overall: 6.75/10 

Monday, May 14, 2012

Bavik Brewery's Wittekerke Blonde Ale

As many of you already know I am a huge fan of "Sweet Lou" Whitaker and this is about as close you Belgians get! Picture this as a hybrid of Lou Whitaker and Kirk Gibson.  As Pat Sajak would say "Sweet Lou" Whita-Kirk.

So beers of less than 12 ounces appeal to me almost as much as beers in excess of 12 ounces so when my buddy said we should drink this in a bar that I presume used to be an opium den how could I refuse?

So Bavik brewery was started in 1894 by a real class act in Belgium and was just a local beer locals would find at the local brothels and shit. Then like, in 1950 they started exporting their stuff around; they figured they could sell it.  So they sold it and made some cash.  Few decades after that, you got a fourth generation Belgian making a little 11.2 oz beer.

Here's the thing about these lil guys.  Like most blondes, they go down FAST! So before you know it, you might be a few shades to the wind cuz you slammed like 4 in a row to impress some old biker chick at the end of the bar...she looked at you like you were a big sissy.  And at five bucks a pop, you can't be slamming these for too long before you get kicked out for stiffing them on your tab.  They are 5.0% ABV so they aren't like, mind erasers.  I feel these would be a hit at BBQs cuz you can slam them and they wouldn't get warm in time.  Plus people like funny things at BBQs so who would like a little baby beer that you can sing to sleep.  Cuz in your dreams nothin' can hurt ya.

It's a pretty dry taste, it makes you want to slam em even more.  Like, it's refreshing, but by the time you finish your chug you are thirsty again.  I'd consider mowing a lawn to this.  Riding mower though, unless some hot babe in a bikini was around to give me a new one after every lap around the field.  I also feel these are ideal for softball games because you can chug em in between innings pretty well.

I never actually got to see these beers cuz I was drinking out of the can like a real patriot.  And I couldn't sacrifice not looking tough in front of that biker chick.  So needless you say, I didn't take any obnoxious sniffs and look like a real piece of shit.  I only do that at home.

Would I get it again? Most likely.  It has a nice crisp taste and looks pretty rad.  Not cost effective whatsoever but that's the price you gotta pay to look cool.

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

Overall: 6.25/10

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Rooney's - Old Irish Style Ale

Not only are the Rooney’s one of the top sports owners worldwide, but they also make a pretty tasty beer. This is their only beer, so don’t go lookin for other flavors. It labeled under ‘Rooney’, but brewed at Penn brewery. One thing I didn’t know is the Rooney family has been bar people since the late 1800’s. It is once rumored that they started the Pittsburgh Steelers with money won in an old west style head to head shot match. Old man Rooney was taking shots of apple cider, when his opponent was taking shots of whiskey. Sneaky bastard! Hey, it might be true.

This beer is good though. Has a Killians taste, just like a lot of Red Ales.  Its dark amber in color and has a little head that fades a little too fast. It boasts a nutty, chocolate, roasty taste, and uses for different kinds of hop, not bitter, but thick and smooth.

Good luck finding it outside the Pittsburgh area. It’s in a lot of distributors around PA and Florida, and currently only in 6 bars/restaurants worldwide.

I don’t know the ABV, but the cost was great. A lady at work gave me 2 for free! But im guessing mid 20’s a case.

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

Overall: 7/10