Wednesday, February 18, 2009

SF Beer Week 2009: Odds and Ends

A few odds and ends to note for the Beer Week 2009 wrap up. It was great, so many highlights as previously mentioned, but here were a few treats I didn't note:

SF Beer Week Official Beer: Original Albion Ale
This beer has a lot of history, as being the first brewpub in California and the second in the nation. Later taken over by Mendicino Brewing Company, this brewpub followed the spirit of Anchor Steam in the late 70s by resurrecting forgotten beer styles in America and focusing on the craft rather than the mass produced and "drinkable" nature of light lagers.
Napasmith now makes this beer, with one of the original brewers,
Don Barkley, at the helm. Quite a piece of craft brewing history.

Original Albion Ale
Extra Pale Ale

Nose of toast, biscuit, yeast esters, notably pear and apple. Deep gold in color. Off white, fast dissipating head. Flavor of toast, pear, light orange and lemon. Very delicate, rather dry finish. Almost like a light wheat ale with more hops. 3.6

Homemade Framboise: La Frappe

This was one of the most labor intensive brews I had made, and it has been rapidly approaching its 2nd year since production. A framboise, or raspberry lambic, I used some spontaneous fermentation methods, including a sour mash, ale yeast fermentation, and open fermentation in my closet to pick up some brett. In addition, 7 months in I added 6 pounds of organic raspberries. Bottling after 10 months. I've had this one in the closet for near 2 years now, I wanted to see how it aged. Definitely a treat, this beer has an intense sour and raspberry flavor, with light barnyard and lactic notes. Now only if I could get the haze away and get some more carbonation the next time.

La Frappe
Fruit Lambic

Nose of raspberries, light cherry and sweetness and some funk, light sourness. Deep raspberry in color, very hazy and almost opaque. Very low and dissipating head. Mouthfeel rather creamy and low carbonation. Strong raspberry and sour flavors, with some sweetness in the finish and light lactic quality. Flavors are there, slightly off, but much too creamy and low on carbonation. 2.9

Stone Smoked Porter with Chocolate Cake and Bannana Ice Cream
This was a nice treat after Beer Week was over that I had at
. The beer was recommended to go with some smoked salmon. This pairing was fine, but maybe a lighter smoked beer could have gone a bit better, or beer with the usual alder smoked malt to match the salmon. However, when the warm chocolate cake and banana ice cream came out, they really played off each other: cold and hot together, smoke and fruit, sweet chocolate and bitter chocolate-coffee. Lovely.

Stone Smoked Porter
A rich, dark and delicious porter with chocolate and coffee overtones accented by a subtle smokiness from just the right amount of peat smoked malt. Unlike a rauchbier, the "smoke" in Stone Smoked Porter is an ELEMENT of the character rather than being THE character.
Nose of caramel, chocolate and smoke, light roast and coffee. Deep chocolate, close to black but not quite there, off white and dissipating head. Medium body, little light on the palate. Smokiness in the flavor very subdued, caramel and light chocolate are in the forefront, with light molasses, coffee, toast, and hints of dried fruit esters. Finishes on the sweet rather than dry end.. 3.7

Beer Week Part 6: Southern Style Dinner

...with some of my own beer pairings.

My friend Scott had a few of us over for some gourmet southern style cooking Sunday evening. I opted to bring a few beers over to try to pair some of them with the dishes. As I saw Oysters, Fried Chicken, and sprouts, I thought that Saison DuPont would be a pretty brilliant pairing with these. In addition, I brought a light, fruity amber over, Ommegang's Rare Vos, to pair with some of the richer items, including the biscuits and gravy, prawns, deviled eggs and the fennel, blood orange and kiwi salad.

Saison Dupont
Saison Dupont is a classic Belgian farmhouse ale. This is a beautifully balanced, complex beer that has a refreshing fruitiness and long, dry finish. It is bottled unfiltered so it may be cloudy or have a slight sediment but this is normal and perfectly natural.
Nose of bitter orange, clove, white pepper, and light grapefruit, biscuit, grain and bubblegum. Huge off-white head, deep straw color, quite hazy. Medium to large mouthfeel, due to very well carbonation. Flavors similar to nose, but more pears, apples and bubblegum, and slight earth. Finish is very bitter, dry and lingering. One of a kind. 4.6

The DuPont paired very well with the oysters. Most people will tell you stout with oysters, but I prefer this, it is almost like ginger with sushi, as it cleanses the palette quite well after the oyster, and the fruitiness and phenolics pair very well with the subtle, fishy and lemon flavors in the oyster.

The chicken was less successful, but good. This beer is probably better with roasted chicken, although the bitterness cut the light greasy aspect of the fried chicken well. The light spiciness and chicken flavor went really smooth. Something slightly richer would go well, maybe a English ESB?

The sprouts charred bitterness clashed with the DuPont a bit. They were almost too flavorful, something much more plainly bitter (a pilsner) or possibly even a malty amber would have proved better, lots of the subtlety of the saison was lost on this pairing.

and onto the vos

Ommengang Rare Vos
Belgian Amber Ale.Rare Vos is flemmish for "Sly Fox," and the name of one of Brussels’ great cafes. It has a sweetly fruity malt character and yeasty spiciness. A fine dose of yeast permits the beer to mature and mellow in the bottle.
Nose of toast, biscuit, light toffee and esters, pear, apple and light orange. Medium to light mouthfeel, mostly carbonation filling it. Flavors of biscuit, toast, light toffee, pears, apple, light white pepper and clove. Rather dry and light mouthfeel at the finish, more toast and biscuit than esters and phenols. 3.8

The vos paired well with the salad the best: the orange, kiwi and fennel worked so well with the esters and phenolics and light bitterness and toast in the Vos. The prawns a close runner up, as the spiciness and fish paired with the bitterness and phenols of the beer.

It paired less successfully with the deviled eggs and biscuits and gravy. The richness of these items may have done better with an IPA (deviled eggs) or a rich porter or stout (biscuits and mushroom gravy), something less delicate and more in contrast. Nonetheless, they were still all quite delicious.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

SF Beer Week Part 5: Kellerbier and Stout Brulee

Saturday found me serving as designated driver to several wineries in Sonoma. Rainy, lightly cold and a rather winding adventure, the highlight of the day for me was being treated to a meal and a beer at Hopmonk Tavern in beautiful downtown Sebastopol. A mid sized tavern, the real treat seemed like summer days and evenings on the patio. Nonetheless, the meal was fantastic. I got the Hopmonk Kellerbier, an unfiltered Pilsner taken from the cellar before lagering, and the Ham and Cheese with Tomato Bisque soup. They paired quite well together, the savory ham and cheese with the creamy soup and rather sweet Kellerbier. They also had a Pale ale and Dunkelwizen on tap, along with a handful of local and exotic favorites. I'm assuming this is THE place to drink beer in Sebastopol.

Hopmonk Kellerbier
unfiltered Pilsner

Nose of toast, grain, light sweetness and apple. Hazy yellow to light gold in color, medium to light body. Biscuit, light malt, grain, light citrus hops. Medium finish. Lingeringly too sweet. 3.4

The main treat may have been a Stout Brulee featuring North Coast's Old 38 Stout. Crystalized sugar on top with a rich, chocolately and creamy pudding beneath, almost like cross between creme brulee and mousse.

SF Beer Week Part 4: Flanders and Chocolate and Barrels

Thursday began at City Beer, where we got there early to squeeze in for the Sour Beer and Bitter Chocolate night. For $25, we got drink tickets for 6 4 oz tastes of Flanders Style Sour Red ales and all the TCHO bitter chocolate we could handle. TCHO, a local Chocolatier dedicated to deliciously bitter and sustainable, free trade chocolate, had four of their offerings in shaved form there: "Nutty", "Chocolatey", "Fruity" and "Citrus". They weren't specifically paired with the sour red ales, but overall, the "nutty" one paired poorly and the "citrus" paired hands down the best, really playing off the cherry and sour-tart flavors in the beers. Most Importantly, I had the chance to finally try the infamous New Belgium La Folie, over a year old according to Craig. Most of the beer offerings in the lineup were that old, which was a good age to taste, and having all six in a row was a great way to compare, contrast and judge each of these beers. I had tasted two of them night before, after all. The supplication was the only one really out of the style range, as more of a fruit lambic in my opinion than a sour red due to the fermentation. And unfortunately only two were new to me, but I'll list them all here. The Dissident, upon additional review, was the standout here.

New Belgium La Folie
This is New Belgium Brewing's interpretation of a traditional Belgian Sour Brown. This unique beer has been peacefully aging in oaken barrels for several years.
Sharp nose of tart cherries, currants, lemon and light caramel. Body light to thin, orange to light amber in color. Strong cherries flavor, dried fruit, light toast, tart raspberries, very light toast and apple. Light to medium acidity. Incredibly dry finish, tart, very lingering. 4.4

Ommegang Grand Cru Rouge
Flanders Red ale aged for 18 months in oak.
Nose of cherries, malt, tart fruit, plums. Medium to dry mouthfeel, amber to mahogany in color. Very strong cherry, citrus, and light malt, toffee and toast. 3.9

Russian River Supplication
Brown ale aged in Pinot Noir wine barrels for one year with sour cherries, Brettanomyces yeast, and Lactobacillus & Pedicoccus bacteria.
Nose of barnyard, oak, cherries and light toffee and toast. Very light mouthfeel, light gold with ruby highlights. Flavor very sour, tart, honey, toast, fruit, pears. Very dry, puckering, lightly bitter finish. One of a kind sour. 4.4

Itchgems Grand Cru Rouge
Flemish Red ale aged in Oak Barrels
Nose of cherries, raspberries, light oak, toast and vanilla. Very light body, slightly hazy and amber in color. Definite a pucker. Pears, lemon, toffee, light oak, and strong cherry in the finish. Very dry, not so lingering though. 3.7

Rodenbach Grand Cru
Flemish Red ale aged in Oak Barrels
Intensely sour ale with a mild malty background. Nose of dark cherries, berries, plums, currants, wood, earth and definite barnyard. Mouthfeel is very puckering and acidic, slightly thin but still rich. Additional notes of caramel, oak, plums, chocolate. Has a slight vinous quality, and the tartness lasts past the finish. 3.9

Deschutes The Dissident
Fermented for more than 18 months in isolation from the rest of the beers, The Dissident is a distinctive Oud Bruin, Flanders-style brown ale, with a fruity aroma and flavor, the first wild yeast beer made by the award-winning Deschutes Brewery.
Powerful yet smooth sour brown ale. Nose is of dark cherries, raisins, figs, plums, toffee and chocolate. Medium bodied and mouth filling, with a tart and slightly tannic aspect to it. Flavors similar to the nose, but slightly more wood, earth and slight toast and caramel. Not overtly farmhouse or barnyard, the brett flavor is subdued, but the sourness and cherries pervade. 4.5

After the Flanders and Chocolates we made our way down to 21st Amendment where we tried out some 21A Strong Beer Month and Elysian Barrel Aged "Got Wood" offerings. I won't say I was blown away on any of the Oaked offerings, especially the 21A one, it seems like many may have been chipped for a short period. In any case, these were some rich, strong ales, and $4 got you a pretty damn full snifter. Also, it was awesome to see that more TCHO chocolate was in store in the 21A Imperial Chocolate Porter!

21A Hop Crisis on Oak
IIPA on Oak
Aroma of Grapefruit, vanilla, light toast and toffee. Light bodied, slightly thick, deep orange color. Orange, light toast, light toffee, biscuit and vanilla. Light bitter finish, somewhat acidic, not too lingering. A nice IIPA with notes of Oak, at 11.2 ABV alcohol well concealed. 4.1

21A 2005 Strong "Oaked"
Barleywine on Oak
Nose of oak, malt, strong currant, toffee, caramel and light apple. Medium to light body, slightly silky. Deep garnet with ruby highlights. Complex flavor, caramel, toast, chocolate, currants, cherries, light pear. Medium to thick finish and sweetness. 3.8

Elysian Bi-Frost
Winter Ale on Oak
Aromas of vanilla, toast, pear, lemon. Medium body, creamy, light orange hue. Strong flavors of grapefruit, orange, toast, pear, light vanilla. Medium finish, slightly slick. 3.6

Elysian Jack Frost
IIPA on Oak
Nose of orange, alcohol, slight toffee, toast, dried fruits. Light orange to deep gold hue, medium body with some viscosity to it. Orange, grapefruit are powerful in the flavor, slight toffee, currants. 3.7

21A Double Trippel
Belgian Imperial IPA.
Nose of pepper, earth, pine, light orange and lemon, toast, toffee. Medium to light body, light amber color. Flavor is overwhelmingly citrus, lemon and orange, with white pepper, banana, pear, earth, wood, pine flavors in there. Complex hop profile, backed by a light phenolic yeast profile. Medium finish, very smooth and not overtly bitter as expected. 3.9

21A Ripple Imperial Chocolate Porter
Made with TCHO chocolate
Nose of cocoa, roast, caramel, light dried fruits and molasses. Medium bodied, jet black. Flavor very similar to nose, more chocolate and roast, less caramel, slight apple ester to it. Medium to dry finish, medium bitterness but not lingering. 4.2

Thursday, February 12, 2009

SF Beer Week Part 3: Sours and Belgians and Cheese

What could be better than a bar with Russian River tap handles two rows deep? Ommegang and local cheese piggybacked on top of it. I missed the madness Tuesday night, but they still had all of the Russian River beers on tap sans 1 (Erudition ... we shall meet one day soon). There were at least four new to me, along with many of my barrel aged sour favorites. Once the line died down to the "secret room" in the back of the Toronado (I had no idea) where they kept the Ommengang wares, I jumped in to get two of my favorites, Three Philosphers and Grand Cru Rouge, paired with local cheeses.

Three Philosophers
Belgian Quadrupel with Cherries, Three Philosophers is a remarkable limited edition strong ale brewed by Brewery Ommegang in response to a home brewer’s description of his dream beer., the internet’s largest beer website, hosted a contest called “Create a Great Beer.” Brewery Ommegang was chosen by to brew the Belgian-style ale for the winning essayist. Noel Blake, a home brewer from Portland wrote the winning description for what his “dream beer” would be like.
Malts, caramel and slight berries, notably cherries and raspberries. Medium amber color, slightly slick and medium to light body. Toffee, caramel, light pear, orange and cherries. Medium finish, light sweetness but not distracting. 3.7

with Haystack Mountain Goat Dairy Queso De Mano
Very nutty, and creamy, funky and toasty. Rather firm and slightly tangy-bitter finish. Not an awful pairing but would have loved something smoother, nuttiness pairs pretty well though.

Grand Cru Rouge
Flanders Red ale aged for 18 months in oak.
Nose of cherries, malt, tart fruit, plums. Medium to dry mouthfeel, amber to mahogany in color. Strong cherry, citrus, and light malt, toffee and toast. 3.9

with Brie
closest description I could find. Very creamy, light lactic, smooth, milk, light mold and bitterness. Pairs well as more of a counterpart to the strong malt and sour flavors in the beer.

here were a few of the Russian River offerings that were new to me ...

"Hoppy belgian ale"
Nose of strong orange, slight grapefruit and esters, notablely pears. Light body, light orange color. Really strong grapefruit flavor, orange, toast, and apples. Dry finish, lingeringly bitter. This really seems like one of their IPA passed off as a Belgian, maybe with a Abbey yeast strain. 3.8

Damnation #23
Trippel on Oak Chips
Nose of malt, vanilla, pear, light citrus and oak. Light gold to yellow in color, medium to thick mouthfeel. Sweet malts, honey, toast, biscuit, vanilla, oak and light pear esters. Medium finish, slightly sweet, low bitterness. Interesting take, maybe a bit drier and more oak, still slight cloying nature to it. More complex but less enjoyable than the standard Damnation Golden Strong. 3.7


Belgian Quadrupel

Nose of dried fruits, caramel, chocolate, cherries, boysenberries, cranberries. Slight must. Medium to full body, deep garnet color. Figs, chocolate, malt, slight cherry, earth and complex melanoidian like aspect. Slightly sweet finish, finishes full. 4.1

along with some old favorites ....


Brown ale aged in Pinot Noir wine barrels for one year with sour cherries, Brettanomyces yeast, and Lactobacillus & Pedicoccus bacteria.
Nose of barnyard, oak, cherries and light toffee and toast. Very light mouthfeel, light gold with ruby highlights. Flavor very sour, tart, honey, toast, fruit, pears. Very dry, puckering, lightly bitter finish. One of a kind sour. 4.4

Who's afraid of the "big bad BRET?" We'll tell you who: winemakers! Because of our close proximity to several hundred wineries, we often get winemakers visiting our brewery. (After all, it takes a lot of great beer to make great wine!) Because we use 100% Brettanomyces yeast to ferment Sanctification, most winemakers will only smell the glass, and only a very few will venture to taste the beer. Sanctification is one of the most unique beers you will ever taste! It was fermented with 100% Brettanomyces, rather than the traditional Saccharomyces.
Tart nose, citrus, acidic (is this possible in the nose?), orange, light horse blanket. Very light body, straw colored with gold highlights. Tart, sour, acidic, light wheat and straw notes, orange. Very dry finish, though not incredibly lingering due to the mouthfeel, only light bitterness. 4.2

Ale with currants added and aged in oak barrels.
Sour, cherries, figs, raisins, toffee. It has a dry, vinuous character, should age superbly, and the barrel character is quite apparent, slight notes of vanilla, oak, earth. Quite acidic and a lingering sour finish. This one sticks with you. At 10 percent, it has a more viscous character than the others, and is wonderful. 4.4

100% Spontaneously Fermented Ale (lambic).
Wow. This is as sour and bubbly as they come. Almost no brett flavor, very dry, grapefruit, tart and hints of wood, pear, apple. This is an incredibly one dimensional ale, and I mean that in a very good way! If you like sour, dry and bubbly, this is the way to go. 4.7

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

SF Beer Week Part 2: Barrel Beers ... all the way from Maine?

Wonderful evening at the Tornado. Allagash had a stellar lineup of their best offerings. Their White, Trippel, Black, and Four were there, along with more complex barrel aged offerings such as the Curieux, Odyssey, Interlude. Listed below were their four offerings which were new to me, but I love them all!


Allagash had the honor of hosting De Struise Brouwers Brewmaster Urbain Coutteau and his co-workers Carlo Grootaert, Phil Driessens and Peter Bruin along with the "Homebrew Chef" Sean Paxton of on August 29. The Brewers with our Brewmaster, Jason Perkins collaborated on a Belgium Blonde called Fedeltá which means Fidelity in Italian. De Struise had previously brewed a version of this beer at their farm brewery in Belgium. After collaborating strategically over e-mail, phone and in person on brew day, the five brewers were able to put all their hard work into a great brew. Fedeltá, 8.2% Blonde was brewed using a selection of imported Pilsner Malt, Domestic Pale Malt as well as 15% Wheat Malt. American Cascade and Amarillo Hops were also selected resulting in 35 IBU. Also added in the boil was Cane Sugar and Honey. Fedeltá was fermented with our house Belgian-style strain, producing a subtle ester profile. The result is a smooth beer with subtle flavors of spice, honey, and vanilla as well as citrus hop flower notes. Fedeltá will be available in limited markets, draft only in the fall.

Trippel like nose: spice, banana, pepper, slight toast and orange. Light gold, medium body. Flavor is fruity, notes of pear, honey, sugar, vanilla, slight toast and biscuit and earth. 4.0 out of 5

Hugh Malone:
The base of the beer includes English two-row malt and pale crystal malts, establishing an understated sweetness. To give Hugh Malone its hop character we use generous portions of Simcoe hops at three points in the brewing process. To begin with, we use a technique referred to as first wort hopping, in which Simcoe is added to the sweet wort as it enters the kettle. When the wort comes to a boil in the kettle we add Warrior hops, adding another layer to the bitterness of the beer. Later in the brewing process we steep a large amount of Simcoe in the whirlpool to impart a distinct hop aroma. Finally, during secondary fermentation in our conditioning tanks, we dry hop the beer, which instills a hoppy aroma with notes of pine and grapefruit.
Balanced, zesty orange nose, slight earth and vanilla. Deep amber, medium body, slightly hazy. Very smooth flavor, zesty, resin, apple and pear esters, Medium to dry finish, slightly creamy. 4.1

To create Victoria Ale, the brewers drew on references to Bucchus, the Thracian god of wine, in the history and artwork of the Victoria Mansion as inspiration for this new beer. One hundred pounds of chardonnay grapes were brought in, crushed on site and added directly to the mash. With a focus on the subtle wine-like character of the grapes, the 9.0% ABV brew boasts a pale copper color, Belgian yeast influence and a medium body with a long finish.

Slightly sweet nose, toast, sourness, white wine. Light body, slightly slick and acdic, light gold color. Flavor is of white grapes, apples, pears, vanilla, light vinegar even. Slightly acidic finish, toast and oak.

Similar to Victoria, but red grapes (Chancellor) were used in place of white.

Nose of pear, cider, and slightly generic citrus. Light to medium body, light orange hue, acidic. Notes of cherries, oak, grapes, plums and sherry. Dry, slightly stick and acidic finish. 3.8

Monday, February 9, 2009

SF Beer Week Part 1: Double IPAs and Palate Fatigue

Well, what can I say. I've been in the Bay Area for over 7 years and this is my first venture to this 7 year old event in Hayward ... thank god it is a stones throw from BART.

The venue was expanded this year I was told, and took up a half a block of downtown Hayward's wonderful streets. The farmers market was going on at the same time right around the corner, there was needless to say a lot going on this sunny afternoon. Maybe the perfect time to finally visit this institution. Got there at the opening at 11, and it really didn't fill up til 1:30 or so. It was really a showcase for California Double IPAS, with a few exceptions from Delaware (Dogfish Head, ever heard of it), Oregon and Colorado. Greg and I figured we had tasted about one third of the offerings already, so went to divvy up the remaining 30 or so beers between our tickets.

I really feel for those who had to judge these brews and choose the winner. Palate fatigue? Everything started tasting the same after a bit, the flavor aspects were difficult to pick up (except for a couple of notable offerings: Dogfish Head's 120 minute IPA and Stones Sublimely Self Righteous [aka, 10th anniversary] ale). Almost a study in different bodies and different finishes, and hop characteristics, to an extent.

My Top 5:
Bear Republic Mach 10
Pizza Port Hop 15
Fifty Fifty Landslide
Russian River Pliny the Younger
Drakes Denoggenizer

tasting notes and ratings:

Pizza Port Hop 15
Lawnmower nose, grass ,resin, orange and grapefruit. Medium Body, light orange hue, and large orange and slight pepper flavor, light toffee and esters, and slight warmth. Smooth, moderate bitter finish. Really solid.
4.1 out of 5

Pizza Port Poormans IPA
Really huge grapefruit nose, slight apple and caramel. Medium to light Body, deep orange color, resiny flavor, with giant orange flavor supported by toast and soft toffee. Distinct nose versus flavor hop profiles. Smooth, bitter finish.

Pizza Port Lou P Lin
Grass, orange and toast nose. Light body, deep golden color. Flavor very similar to nose, maybe more orange and slight grapefruit. Dry finish, very bitter finish.

Russian River Pliny the Younger
Resin, earth, malt, toast and grapefruit nose. Medium body, light orange color. Caramel, toast, orange and grapefruit flavor. Finishes smooth, not too bitter. This beer hides its warmth quite well.

Drakes Denoggenizer
Light resin, caramel nose. Medium body, light amber color. Really rich flavors, resin, caramel, yeast, orange. Smooth finish, medium bitterness.

Bear Republic Mach 10
Grassy nose, orange. Medium to light body, light amber color. Flavors include caramel, toast, grass, orange. Really awesome orange presence throughout, and quite dry, smooth and easy finish, medium bitterness. Another great offering from Bear Republic.

Green Flash Imperial IPA
Grassy, Grapefruit and slight toast and earth in the nose. Light body, light orange to deep gold color. Flavors similar to nose, but more toast, orange and slight estery, apple characters. Dry, but a much too bitter finish.

Sierra Nevada 393 Hop Secret
Caramel and grapefruit nose, slight toast. Medium body, deep amber color. Rather malty in the flavor balance, low hop complexity, caramel and grapefruit. Finishes slightly full and sweet.

Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA
Serious hop overload in the nose. Orange, grapefruit, soap, basil, burning. Medium body, slight and sticky, pale orange color. Flavor is like basil, grass, orange and alcohol. Not even really an double IPA, this is something different entirely. Finish is acidic and pucking, you pull back. Points for the effort.

Mendocino IPA
Malty and floral nose, orange. Medium bodied, light amber. Smooth, caramel, toast, earth, orange flavor, with slight apple esters. Slightly bitter finish

Flying Dog Double Dog
Clean, sharp nose, full of orange. Medium to full body, light orange color. Flavor is similar, more malt than hops, orange profiled. Bitter finish, sharp.

Ballast Point Dorado
Grapefruit, orange and toast in the nose. Medium to full body, light amber. Flavor similar, really balanced yet hop forward. Medium, lightly bitter finish
. 3.8

Alpine Brewing Pure Hoppiness
Caramel, toffee, grapefruit, lots of orange. Medium to light body, orange color. Orange, toast, caramel flavor, slight esters, pear. Lightly sweet, bitter finish. 3.5

Sonoma Chicken Coop Jersey Giant
Toast, yeast and grass in the nose. Very light body, very light amber-orange. Flavor like the nose. Dry, fruity, lightly sweet finish.

Fifty Fifty Brewing Landslide IPA
Bold lemon and orange nose. Light body, sightly opaque, but gold to orange color. Flavors of fresh lemon, orange and toast. Medium, dry finish, very zesty.

Rubicon Rex IPA
Grapefruit, orange and somehow bitter nose. Medium body, orange color. Strong orange, toast and slight pear esters and zest. Lightly sweet finish, and slightly bitter.

Stone Sublimely Self Righteous IPA
Malt, toffee, cream, chocolate and orange in the nose. Medium to heavy body, deep amber to light brown color. Citrus still dominates flavor, but the backbone is caramel, toffee, chocolate, roast. Drier finish, slightly creamy, medium bitterness. Interesting.

Auburn Alehouse Isotope PU240
Sharp, bright and zesty hoppy nose, orange. Medium to light body, light amber. Flavor similar, more grapefruit and lemon though. Light finish, rather bitter.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

SF Beer Week!!!

Its almost here! Gotta do it on a dime, this is my working plan of events to attend.

Shortlist. Go to the SF Beer Week Website for more info on each event.

Saturday : Double IIPA Fest at the Bistro, Hayward.

Sunday: Day of rest, that is a LOT of IIPAs.

Monday: Allgash at Toronado

Tuesday: Barrel Beers at Jupiter and Tripel Rock

Wednesday: Ommengang and Cheese at Toronado

Thursday: Elysian at 21st Amendment

Friday: The Bruery
at Alembic

Saturday: More Liver resting

Sunday: Scandanvian Beers at City Beer

January 2009

Well, 2009 brought a swift cessation to the high caliber and quantity of beer I have been consuming. The recession has taken its toll on my employment, so I'll be drinking quite a few less beers this year, but not necessarily any less variety.

I did manage to make it to the Jolly Pumpkin Event this month at the Jug Shop. They had four selections, all fermented directly in oak barrels: the La Calabaza Blanca, Bam Biere, Roja, and the Bam Noir, lightest to darkest, in that order. They did not have my two favorites, the Luciernaga and the Oro de Calabaza. Still, they manage to grab my brewery of the year title from 2008, so hats off to them and the Jug Shop Staff, who were being quite generous with amounts of pours.

La Calabaza Blanca:
Nice, refreshing, slightly sour and lactic wit beer. Slight spiciness up front, a little funky, and really refreshing overall. 3.9 out of 5

Bam Biere:
Really rough barnyard character to this one. Light, bitter, dry and slightly vinegar like aspect, it was tough to put down at first, but once the tartness starts to build up after a few sips, you can get the complexity of the beer behind it, notes of vanilla, oak, toast. 3.5

Most by the book sour ale, this is a Flanders Red, a la Rodenbach (but this version much lighter bodied). Refreshing for a red, this one goes down smooth, and avoids the "sweet-tart" aspect that many have. Much lighter bodied, tart up front, and only a mild malt complexity behind it, notes of cherries, toffee and oak. 4.1

Bam Noir:
This was certainly the least sour of the four, and was originally the hardest to get behind. But after a few it is really enjoyable (note: a few means one oz. tastings). I figured it would be a dark version of their Bam, but not really. More of a Belgian Dark ale with funky highlights. Roast, coffee, caramel in the nose, slightly sweet up front, with some lactic qualities, and filling, smooth, and slightly chocolately through the finish.

Others this month:

NapaSmith Wheat
Had this at Taylors at the Ferry Building. Really nice, an American wheat beer with some phenolic and spicy complexity. Full bodied, notes of wheat, toast, pepper, citrus. There is a slight sweetness to this that I'm not sure if it is distracting or makes it so enjoyable. Another sample is in order.

Stone Cali-Belgique
Bevmo on Van Ness. This is slightly a mess of a beer. Their IPA fermented with a house Belgian Strain. I don't know where this strain originates, but is weird. The nose smells like bubblegum and cotton candy, with slight citrus from the hops. Mouthfeel is medium to thin, but the flavor tastes a little like soap, bubblegum, oranges and banana. Really weird phenolics going on in this beer, needs to go back to the lab. 2.2

Ballast Point Sea Monster
Bevmo on Van Ness. Newest to get on the Imperial Stout train. I thought this would be cheaper since most of their ales on the shelf are at $4 or so, but I got this one before the BevMo staff could tag it, and paid $9 for it. My expectations were not met, since there was an Abyss just down the shelf for $3 more, but a good imperial in any case. Nose of alcohol, chocolate, espresso, currants, toffee. Much less burning in the taste, and a much more carmelly-chocolate flavor comes through, hints of roast and licorice. The body is medium, and the finish is slightly slight and warm.

Much more to come next month with SF Beer Week!

366 Beers in 366 Days

The results of my 2008 366 beers in 366 days can be found here! Features the top and most unique new-to-me beers from 2008 can be found: