So, tonight we got to experiment with a *real* local brewery that wasn’t local to us – Great Lakes Brewing Company, thanks to my cousin, Matt, who so graciously sent a case of GLBC’s fine brews [and I still owe him a case of Fat Tire. I haven’t forgotten, I promise!]. Great Lakes Brewing Co beers are brewed with care in Cleveland, Ohio
First, I popped the cap off of the Dortmunder,GLBC’s award-winning golden lager with a modest 5.8% ABV. As much as I hate to use the term, it rates quite high on my “drinkability” scale. There is something about the ratio of taste to body weight [of the beer] that makes it very smooth and easy to put several of these away. The flavor notes of a melon or peachy influence are light, and the body might be classified as medium-light. It goes down quite smoothly. The Dortmunder would go well paired with any sort of deli sandwich and could be enjoyed any time of year, warm or cold, inside or out.
Next up, the amber lager Eliot Ness, whose 6.2% still flies under the radar. Eliot Ness seemed to lack any real distinct, defining tastes and aromas that set it apart from any other American amber lagers. However, it was still quite pleasant; very similar to something like a standard Sam Adams brew, but with a slightly higher IBU, so you get a bit more of a kick to it. It poured smoothly, and went down similarly. We highly recommend a few of these when you catch a game at the bar with the guys and split some nachos. If Eliot Ness were available in SoCal, it would definitely be my go-to brew at the bar or restaurants.
Lastly, the aptly-named Burning River. This pale ale surprised us in its bitterness, but not in a bad way. Most pales rate low on the bitter scale, or perhaps at the end entirely. Burning River has a bit more to it than your traditional pale ale. It has some mild tastes of toasted rice [gen mai] , and some thyme-y overtones, and was all-in-all quite enjoyable. Burning River would go well with fried chicken, or perhaps a club sandwich of sorts. [Here’s some related light reading if you’re not familiar with the Cuyahoga River]
We rated all three Great Lakes brews highly –
Dortmunder – 9
Eliot Ness – 8.2
Burning River – 7.7
That’s about it for tonight. Gotta go grab a Double Double to silence my stomach. Until next time – CHEERS!
Well, welcome back friends. We’ve taken a few weeks off of writing, but we certainly have been maintaining a good buzz over the last three weeks.
Not too much to write home about, but we did make a trip down to Escondido, CA to visit heaven on Earth…I mean…Stone Brewery. We ate some food, drank some beer, learned some things about beer, then drank more beer. I think there was a third round of beer drinking, but hell, I don’t remember. Oh, and I got a proper camera to document our adventure in alcohol, so you should be seeing some marginally better pictures until I get things all figured out. And lastly, we got some proper glasses, so you can all stop harassing me about the crap we were using before.
Anyway, on to what some of you really care about, BEER! This week, I picked up some drinks on my way to Emily’s to attempt to get back on track with our writing. I have pictures, but no notes, so I’m entirely to blame if this turns out to be a piece of crap.
I picked up The Left Coast’s Voo Doo American Stout. The Left Coast hails from just south of me, in San Clemente, and you can find TLC brews at Oggi’s restaurants in Orange County. The skeleton-badged brew weighs in at a modest 6.8% ABV, and leaves a thin, but prominent head, which I’m starting to realize is mostly how I pour the beer, rather than the characteristics of it – oh well.
Voo Doo has a mild nutty aroma, which seems about par for the course. However, the bit of surprise is in the beer itself. While it is, by definition, a stout, it really doesn’t feel like one. It has a very light and airy body, not thick and viscous like many other stouts. The taste reminds me of Cheerio’s, for some reason that I can’t really put my finger on. Emily claims there some burnt orange in there, too, but I was unable to pick up on that one, mostly because I’ve never had a cooked orange, much less a burnt one.
Being a bit out of practice, we kinda left out the whole what does this go well with part, but Emily mentioned meatloaf, so we’ll go with that. An American stout for an American meal.
I couldn’t decide on a rating for Voo Doo. It’s good, but not fantastic. Definitely above average. 6.7?
Well, unless there’s some natural disaster*, we should be keeping this on track for the next several weeks.
*At the time of writing this, I was totally unaware of the 7.9 earthquake in Japan. Hope all of your friends and family are okay, if you have anyone over there.
It’s not often that I’m blown away by something rather predictable. An exception to this rule is the Hop Henge Experimental IPA from Deschutes. I’ve had a few experiences with the Portland, Oregon brewery in the past, and I have yet to be disappointed by anything with their name on it. Aside from it being out of the Deschutes brewery, I was sold on the label – a recreation of Stonehenge out of, you guessed it, hop bales. After reading the label, I’m still unclear as to what makes Hop Henge “experimental”.
Moving on to the more important part of the beer, the cap-topped IPA comes in at a robust 9% ABV. Hop Henge has a pleasant, but predictable, hoppy aroma of what you would expect from an IPA which surprised me little. I do admire it for its color, though. It pours smoothly into a natural amber color, leaving a thin head that recedes quickly.
This IPA goes through a bit of a transformation between when it crosses your lips to when it moves down your throat. It has an expected strong, hoppy kick on the tip of your tongue, morphs into a smooth, sweet middle, and finishes with a bit of crispy burnt toast. Hop Henge, like most IPAs, has a very strong presence, and would be paired well with a more mild-flavored meal. Emily suggested that it would go well with a variety of comfort foods, including, but not limited to, macaroni & cheese or chicken & dumplings.
Maybe it’s my predisposition to loving Deschutes, or maybe it’s the dependable nature of a good IPA, but I couldn’t get enough of Hop Henge. I would have gladly had several more glasses of it, had we not had other brews to sample.
I give Hop Henge a well-above-average 8.2
More to come in the next few days. Cheers!
ps- in other news, eventually we’ll get some better beer glasses. These will have to do for now. Sorry.
Well, here’s a new one for you – Wychwood Brewery’s Wychcraft Blonde Ale. Straight out of Oxfordshire, England for some of that other-side-of-the-pond style.
It is, so far, one of our more modest beers, topping out at 4.5% ABV. Wychcraft, which is recommended to be served a bit of a warmer temperature, pours smoothly into a glass, producing a thin head that retreats rather quickly into the ale.
Wychcraft has a mild apple and other associated fruity tastes to it, while still maintaining a standard lighter ale taste, giving it a bit more depth to your tastebuds, but not enough to really leave a strong presence post-swallow. It looks, and tastes, a bit like a hefeweizen whose citrus flavors have been muted significantly.
The general consensus of Wychcraft seems to be that it was pleasant and enjoyable, but weak in comparison to the other brews we had tonight [the others will be posted later this week]. On its own, it was rather unimpressive, but it may be paired well with food with significant taste presence, like Indian.
Our score? A solid 7.
Until…probably tomorrow – cheers!
Sorry Emily, but I did my first solo run tonight. For those of you who don’t know, I play softball on Tuesday nights, and we decided to hit The Lazy Dog Cafe after our game for some food and beer. Seeing this as an opportunity to do some Much A’brew work, I took some notes on my phone.
I decided it was time to branch out from my usual choices at Lazy Dog and try some of their house brews. Their house brews are done by one of two local microbrews. Their Blonde, Pale, and Amber brews are from Firestone Walker [San Luis Obispo, CA] and their Porter and Hefeweizen are from Bayhawk Brewery [Irvine, CA]. Having not tried their Porter before, I decided to give it a try.
I didn’t know much about it when it arrived at our table. Everything about the beer outside of what I could deduce with my senses had to be looked up; no menu info at the restaurant, no beer bottle. The Chocolate Porter weighs in at a comfortable 6.7% ABV and has a pleasant and mild nutty/hoppy aroma. It pours with a nice thin head [as pictured] which is prevalent through most of the duration of its consumption.
It is listed as a “chocolate porter” with tastes of coffee and chocolate. However, I didn’t really pick up on the coffee taste, but the chocolate was there, but only mildly. There was certainly no “drinking a Hershey bar” feelings here. It was definitely a fuller-bodied beer as compared to some of the others we have written about so far. It was full-bodied, but very smooth, as noted by several of us who tried it. It has a mild hoppy kick then goes down smoothly. I only had one at dinner, but I could comfortably enjoy more than one since it seemed very easy to drink.
Overall score: 7.5
See you later this week. Cheers!
So, here begins our adventures in alcohol. Emily and I strolled over to BevMo to take a look at their selection of craft beers. Drake’s Jolly Roger caught my eye, purely because of the bottle; I won’t lie. Emily chose the Judgment Day brew from The Lost Abbey. Why? I don’t know; I don’t question womens’ choices. Um, actually Emily chose it because she’s heard good things about Lost Abbey, a brewery in San Diego she intends to visit this year. And I was going to take you, Max!
After snapping a few pics (clearly, not enough), we popped the tops and got to work. Judgment Day is a Belgian Dark Quad Ale from The Lost Abbey brewery in San Marcos, California, and comes in a cork-topped 750ml bottle. With a healthy 10.5% ABV (awww, someone’s jealous!), it has a nice dark coloring and pours smoothly, but produces a lot of head that takes some time to dissipate. I know a lot of people enjoy a nice, thick head, but I’m not one of them. Then again, Judgment Day wasn’t my beer choice. Then why are you the one discussing it? It was a solid B in my opinion – easy to drink, not terribly exciting.
Judgment Day has a pleasant, sweet aroma – almost floral. Turns out that is attributed to the “Ale Brewed with Raisins” clearly printed on the label (in fairness, I read the label in the store, I just forgot to point it out to you). It’s a bit fuller-bodied beer, as compared to the Jolly Roger, which I’ll get to shortly. Good with cheese plates and tapas plates. It still tastes sweet and goes down smooth, and the fruity brew has a very strong presence in your mouth. Hey, women like our beer like we like our men – exotic, strong, and a little sweet.
Next, was my pick. Jolly Roger comes from Drake’s Brewery in San Leandro, California. It is a 8.0% ABV Imperial Red Ale that comes in a 750ml capped bottle (ladies, please note the obsession with ABV, I think it’s very telling). Upon initial pouring, the golden-red brew produces a thin head that fades relatively quickly.
In the aroma department, Jolly Roger has a bitter, nutty scent; heavy on the hops. If you’re not a fan of hoppy, malty brews, this probably isn’t for you. Upon first taste, it has a rather strong, bitter presence, but fades quickly into a thinner body and smooth swallow. It’s just strong enough to give you a mild kick on the tip of your tongue, but smooth enough to enjoy with an entire meal; perhaps a good burger and fries, or fish and chips.
The Abbey’s Judgement Day: 7.7
Drake’s Jolly Roger: 8.3
Next time, I’ll do better with the pictures, I promise. Next time, Max will let me use my camera like I requested. Tell me why we ever trust boys with anything even mildly artistic?
Until then, cheers! Saludia!
Somehow, you’ve managed to find yourself in the beginnings of what may or may not be a fruitful venture, but an interesting one, at least. What you find yourself amongst is 3 friends having a drink. We enjoy the company, we enjoy the conversation, and we enjoy the booze. We’ll try to share one or two of those things with you from each of our gatherings. If whatever we’re drinking turns out to be crap, maybe we’ll shed some light on some of the lovely conversation we have – who knows?
This is about as far as the plan goes, at this point. So, join us. Sit down. Have a drink. Let’s see where this goes…