Friday, December 16, 2011

Dogfish Head's World Wide Stout: a Kick in the Teeth

I figured I was in for a mouthful when cracking this one open and boy was I ever right. I'm not sure I've ever had a 12oz bottle that took me longer to drink than this one.

Even after taking it out of the fridge a half hour or so before opening it, the beer was still way too cold to be enjoyable. When over-chilled, you get a touch of roast and a touch of dark fruit, but what you primarily get is the 18% ABV of this beast. Based on my impressions of World Wide Stout cold, I really thought I was going to hate this.

Only when it begins to warm and the surprisingly high carbonation begins to fade does WWS come into its own. That is not to say that the 18% goes away; it's 18% for Pete's sake. When it warms to a proper drinking temperature, it really opens up and becomes much more complex in terms of flavor. The booziness of it is always there with you in the passenger seat, but it's no longer what drives the beer. The dark fruits (raisins, plums) really come out as the temperature rises, along with a hint of smoke, coffee, and caramel. It is a pretty sweet beer, yet is never cloying.

The carbonation at first really detracts from the thickness and weight of the beer, but once it calms down a bit, you get a sense of how thick and mouth-coating this beer really is. It's not milkshake thick (ala: Dark Lord), but it is heavy and filling.

All in all, by the time I was finished with this, I was sad my glass was empty. It took me almost two hours to drink it, but the hours were well worth it. This is the perfect beer to exemplify what serving temperature does to a beer's taste and smell. I'll probably have a hard time justifying the upwards of $10 a 12oz WWS commands, but I would love to try to get my hands on an aged bottle or two to see how it has mellowed with time. Overall, a great effort from DFH which is far, far better than their other big beer I've tried (120 minute). I'd recommend it if you haven't tried it before and also recommend perhaps splitting it with a friend. This was definitely the only thing I drank that night.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Tale of Two Cherry Porters

Today's craft beer scene has an amazing variety of selections available to the average consumer. Today, more than at any time in the history of beer, you can find pretty much anything you could ever want and a lot of things you didn't think you would ever want or even knew existed. The variation not only between various styles of lagers and ales, but between the sub-styles of beers is absolutely amazing. Case in point: cherry porters.

No, cherry porters are not a "style" of beer I drink often. Frankly, I don't see them too often and fruit-influenced beers don't really get me riled up, so it's nothing I've much considered in the past. I just happened to be at the store, though, and saw singles of both North Peak Darkangel and Short's Black Cherry Porter (both Michigan breweries). I decided that it would be a nifty comparison experiment and picked up a single of both to contrast.

The differences couldn't have been more stark, which I suppose is somewhat expected considering the method of imparting the cherry flavor and considering the breweries involved. Darkangel is made with cherry juice added, which contributes a clean, somewhat tart edge cherry quality to the roast and chocolate of the porter. It's more evident in the smell than the taste, which is somewhat disappointing. It seems to fit with the impression I get from other North Peak beers: solid, yet somewhat uninspired. I wouldn't turn down it someone offered me one and I might even buy one at the bar if there wasn't much of a selection, but it just doesn't have anything 'WOW' about it.

The Short's offering is a completely different animal. Rather than adding juice, Short's Black Cherry Porter employs a cherry puree. The differences between the effects of the different approach is striking. Where Darkangel is subtle, the Black Cherry Porter is in your face. Both the smell and taste is dominated by the earthy, deep black cherry flavor. I suppose this would be a drawback if you wanted a straight-to-the-style porter, but if you wanted that, why in the heck are you drinking a cherry porter? No, this Short's offering falls in line with the rest of their experimental, food-tasting beers (Key Lime Pie, PB&J, etc.) as a bold departure from the base beer that is knocked about my the later additions. If you want a cherry porter that tastes like cherries, this is your beer. If you want a traditional porter with a slight wisp of cherry, check out the Darkangel.

With all of that in mind, what is your favorite cherry (or other fruit-based) beer?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Huma-lupa-licious by Short's Brewing

A great floral, hoppy beer I picked up while in Frankenmuth, MI. A knotch below Two Hearted and IPAs of that caliber, but I'd love to be able to get this off the shelf. Solid as all get-out It tasted even better in my Michigan glass.

P.S. If you're ever in Frankenmuth, stop by the Lager Mill. It's the best craft beer store in the city and they have an amazing selection of Michigan-brewed beers that aren't available here in Cincinnati

...and winding it back up.

Okey dokey, folks. I've had a nice breather since my last post, and I think I'm ready to re-rock and roll. During this breather, I broke my 100+ day streak of a new beer every day (gasp!), but have also drank a ton of good beer and met some great folks doing so. The break allowed me to re-discover that drinking beer doesn't have to be a chore of drinking, reviewing, and posting to a blog.

So from now on, things are going to be a bit more casual. I won't be trying a new beer every day, but when I do find something I like and I think others will like, I'll make sure you're all aware of it. Also, to make these posts a little more timely, I'll be posting the pictures and brief (emphasis on brief) review from my phone. This will allow me to share on the fly and make content a little more time-relevant. I hope to share more than just what I'm drinking, though, and will try to focus on events, great finds on beer runs, and various other minutia. I'll also be hosting my debut beer dinner this Saturday, which I hope to make a recurring thing for Cincinnati-area folks who are interested in good beer and good food, so keep an eye out for the sign-up for the next one.

I'm back and hopefully ready to keep you all entertained. Drink and be merry!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Winding this baby down...

So, I think this little experiment is going to come to an end. Not necessarily the drinking a new beer everyday, which I am thoroughly enjoying, but the annoying process of review each and every one of these beers. It has just come to the point where I can't dedicate time to sitting down in front of my computer, going over my notes for a given beer, and then typing out something that someone wants to read. It's more time-intensive than it seems, and since I'm contributing to two other blogs already, it's just gotten to be too much.

To those of you who've read over the past 80 or so days, I really appreciate it and I hope you've liked what you saw. I'll probably still pop in every so often and review something I found outstanding or a summary of a cool event I attended, but the everyday reviewing is done. If you still are interested in following the quest and what I'm drinking everyday, you can see it in real time at Untappd or by following my personal Twitter account.

Also, I'll still be contributing periodical beer and otherwise related posts at CincyVoices and, if you're an avid reader, I'll still be reviewing books at A Boy and His Books. Thanks again for following! Hopefully I'll still make it a year!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Day 82 (10/14/2011): Petrus Aged Pale by Brouwerij Bavik

I've seen this all over the place, but until recently I had no interest in sours, so it was completely lost on me. Now that I have caught the bug for them, I've been looking for affordable alternatives to Cantillon/Drie Fonteinen. How does this stack up?

You can smell this one right when it's poured. The dominant smells are vinegar and white wine, with some wood from the aging process and some light fruit. It's a little too much vinegar for my likings, but I have to remember that this is an our bruin and not a lambic. The taste introduces more balance than the smell, with a clean malt sweetness countering some of the mouth-puckering sourness. Again, the white grape taste is here, almost lending a champagne-like touch (if the champage was aged in wooden barrels). The taste is much nicer and more complex than I expected.

The tartness is delivered on a prickly, clean carbonated body that is really light and refreshing. You could drink this pretty quickly, but you would really lose out on the nuances of the flavor if  you did. This one really changes as it warms up, too. The sweetness emerges, calming a lot of the sour down.

Overall, not a bad buy at $3-4 a bottle. If you're new to the style or just don't want to shell out the money for something sour when you need a fix, you could do far worse. I will definitely be keeping this one in mind for the next time I'm in the mood. The vinegar might be a little bit too pronounced, but I can deal with it. I give Petrus Aged Pale by Brouwerij Bavik a B+.

Style: Flanders oud bruin
Beer Advocate: B+/A
Ratebeer: 96/68

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Day 81 (10/13/2011): Old Guardian Belgo Barleywine by Stone Brewing Co.

I figured this one wasn't going to be very good judging by the reviews, but I always like to give Stone beers a chance. Unfortunately the reviews were spot on.

The nose on this isn't terrible. You get a slight whiff of the Belgian yeast employed, with dark fruit, some caramel, a good amount of hops, and (unfortunately) some hot-smelling booze. The taste is just not very good. Like the smell, you get some good flavors like the esters from the Belgian yeast, dark fruit, and caramel/toffee, but they are all overwhelmed by the combination of a very strong alcohol and hop flavor. This beer was just way out of control: way too much alcohol and way too much hop flavor. It's been a long, long time since I tasted a beer this hot. The body is maybe a tad light and the carbonation a tad high, but these flaws pale in comparison the the booziness.

This year's version of Belgo Old Guardian could stand to sit for a few years to let the hops and booze calm down a bit. It was not easy to finish this whole bottle, but it wasn't so bad that I drainpoured it. It could be good one day; just not today. I give Old Guardian Belgo Barleywine by Stone Brewing Co. a C+.

Style: American barley wine
Beer Advocate: B/C+
Ratebeer: 96/77