Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A Russian River & Sierra Nevada Collaboration: Brux Domesticated Wild Ale

The Brux is a collaborative brew between the Cilurzo family at Russian River and the Grossman family at Sierra Nevada.  I know the Brux is meant to be aged for years to let it develop, but I couldn't wait.  I do have one in the basement already, so maybe I will review an aged Brux in a few years.  The Brux is refermented in the bottle with Brettanomyces bruxellensis.  This belgian style "wild" yeast is what will cause it to evolve and give it different flavors over time.

The color is a very nice light golden shade that is very clean and crisp looking.  It pours with a quickly dissipating fluffy white head.  It doesn't have much smell at all, if you really stick your noise in there you can get a sweet smelling yeast, but there are obviously not any hops in the smell.

The taste is sharp, it is a bit high on the carbonation side, which works nicely with the sharp flavors.  Right now it is most like a classic belgian triple, but not too spicy, just in the mouth feel and the yeast.  There is a little bit of sourness that lingers on the back of the tongue, maybe a promise of what is to come with some aging?  Either way I really am enjoying it and I have had some trouble getting into Belgian style beers lately, so this is exciting.

Before I get to the rating let me pause for a station identification.  This month's post is brought to you by Movember.  For more information and chance to donate to the cause, go here.  As you probably know, Movember more than just a charity, it is a chance to grow a mustache, and the picture below is just a teaser of things to come.

In honor of Movember and my crafty baking skills, I give the Brux 7.5 out of 10 Mustache Cookies.  I really like it, but I have to leave some room for improvement due to aging.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

My Kegerator Setup

I updated my kegerator setup today from one to three kegs, so I thought I would post some pictures of my new setup.
First, I put the CO2 tank outside of the fridge in order to make room for three kegs inside. I drilled a hole in the side and luckily didn't hit any cooling coils.
Then, I mounted a splitter inside the fridge, that splits one CO2 line to three.
There are only two kegs inside now, but the third one will fit. I am still re-purposing it so I haven't used it yet. Right now the two kegs hold my Black Eyed Peas A (a Black IPA) and a Chocolate Rye that doesn't have a silly name, yet.
The tap on the front remains unchanged, but now it will be very easy to switch between any of the three kegs in the fridge. Also, I bought a party tap so it will be easy to tap another keg inside that can be accessed by just opening the door and pouring a pint!

Friday, February 17, 2012


Welcome to the first ever Beers We Try BATTLE ROYALE. Today we have two of the best in the business: Ithaca's Flower Power IPA vs Dogfish Head's 60 Minute IPA. The Flower Power is more of a regional favorite here in Central New York, going up against the internationally renowned IPA standard that is the 60 minute IPA.

Flower Power: The Underdog
The Flower Power has really developed a following over the last several years here in Central
New York, and rightly so. It pours with a slightly hazy golden color and only a slight trace of
head. It smells mostly of grapefruit with maybe a hint of pine. The Ithaca website lists Simcoe, Amarillo, and Chinook as the finishing hops, the source of these wonderful aromas. The hops are
really the highlight of this beer. This hop depth and complexity is more comparable to a double IPA than most singles. This IPA is very well balanced, even if the rest of the beer doesn't really add much more to the palate. Ithaca has come out with a really strong showing for a challenger, and has a chance at unseating...

The Champ: 60 Minute IPA
The 60 minute pours a light golden color and very clear. Some breweries use some kind of clarifying agent in their beers to make them clear up during fermentation. It does not effect the taste or consistency of the beer, just makes it a little bit nicer to look at. My guess is Dogfish Head does this, and Ithaca, a smaller brewery, does not. A nice touch by DH. The aroma of the
60 is actually slightly acidic, with a subtle trace of hops. I am taken aback by the lack of aroma compared to the Flower Power, and after a few sips I am even starting to wonder if I have a bad bottle. I have had this beer before and really enjoyed it. Is it possible the hops from the Flower Power are completely overwhelming? Let's let it warm up a bit, have some nice aged Gouda, and then try again......The Sabres are playing right now, it is the third period during a game against the Canadiens in which they are down 3-2. For a team that had so much momentum going into the season, they have been such a huge disappointment. So much so that I am starting to have the same old "Bills problem": Would I rather have a meaningless win or a loss that gets us closer to the #1 pick? Sigh.......Back to drowning my sorrows in drink. After trying again with the 60, nothing has changed. It is really hard to say much about the flavor this beer offers. I suppose it is possible that the Flower Power's powerful hop presence has dwarfed whatever the 60 minute IPA has to offer, and crushed it under its thumb. Is it also possible that Wegmans has sold me an older bottle of beer? I believe the answer to that is a resounding YES. I have not been overwhelmed with the freshness of the beer on the shelves at my local Wegmans. Interestingly enough Dogfish does not offer any sort of Enjoy By date on their bottles, which would help.

Whether the Flower Power overwhelmed the 60 minute IPA or I got a bad bottle, maybe it doesn't matter. I fully expected the 60 minute IPA, the favorite, to crush the Flower Power. In fact the exact opposite was true. In the end the brewery is responsible for the beer in the bottle. In this BATTLE ROYALE, the local hero defeats the global goliath. Flower Power is an excellent IPA I would up against almost any other out there. Until it is challenged, it will reign supreme as the BATTLE ROYALE REIGNING CHAMPION.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Breckenridge Brewery: Lucky U IPA

I grabbed a single of this at Party Source. I like the bottling, the glass even has the brewery's symbol stamped into it. I think marketing/bottle design in the craft beer industry is severely lacking in many places and thriving in some places. There is a wide range of quality in beer labels, but this Lucky U IPA has a very nice appealing label and I appreciate that.

The color is a bit amber, but not far off from a classic IPA color. The taste is a bit sweet, but mostly piney. There are some hints of malt sometimes, but then it is taken over by a refreshing pine needle flavor. There is not much smell, but the little bit there is is all pine as well. The mouthfeel is fantastic, just crisp and refreshing. This is the second IPA in a row I have tried from Party Source though that is a little flat and lacking the aroma. I think they tend to have bottles sit on their shelves for a long time while they sell kegs. Makes me think I should grab the more age-friendly beers next time I am there.

My sister wanted to open some wine right after I poured this, so I spent about 15 minutes searching the house for a corkscrew and then stabbing the cork with a screwdriver before I got to enjoy it, so that might contribute to the lack of carbonation. Anyways, it turns out the corkscrew was in the silverware drawer the whole time. So I give this IPA a refreshing 7/10 well-placed corkscrews.

Lagunitas CENSORED Rich Copper Ale

Lagunitas is a brewery that does not get enough attention on this blog. They sometimes get lost in the list of great left coast breweries. Lagunitas is in the San Francisco Bay area, and is about to become the dominant force on the Bay area craft brewing scene, with a plan to expand by nearly 6x in the next year. I suspect we may be hearing a lot more from them here in the Northeast as well.

Censored is described on the label as a Rich Copper Ale. It pours a rich coppery red (no surprise there). There is almost no head, and only a subtle malty aroma. At this point I am not too excited for this beer, but I will reserve judgement until tasting.

Post taste reaction - I may have spoken too soon. Most good beers I have also smell and look good, but this one saves all of its goodness for the flavor. It has the distinctive malty and sweet backbone of a great red ale, but has a really crisp and sharp finish, perhaps caused by the nice balance of hops. There aren't too many hops here, and you don't need them. The flavor is astounding and supremely balanced. I almost want to call it "dry", even though I don't really know what that means, only that it is usually a good thing in wines.

This beer is very sessionable, but beware: it packs a surprisingly strong 6.75% ABV according to the label. You can certainly start to feel the effects of that about half way through, especially on an empty stomach. I highly recommend this, and you won't be dissapointed if you go for a 6 pack. I found it in the "Craft a Pack" selection at Wegmans, probably one of the better bets there.

I give it a solid if not spectacular 7/10.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Weyerbacher Double Simcoe IPA

It was my first trip to the Party Source, one of Syracuse's few dedicated beer stores. I was a little disappointed when walking in because it was pretty much an empty room with a row of shelves along one wall filled with six packs. The selection was not great, mostly American breweries and no Belgian or German section. They have a few things that you can't find at Wegmans, but Weggies definitely has more selection. I won't be making trips to PS very often unless I am buying a keg of PBR (So not very often).

I bought a four pack of Weyerbacher's Simcoe IPA for about 9 bucks. Pretty expensive, but a Simcoe IPA is an exciting thing. I had a single hop Simcoe IPA before by Mikkeller, a Danish brewery. It was fantastic, I didn't review it at the time, so I will try to get it again, but it was at least a 9/10. Seeing another Simcoe IPA was exciting, I've never really liked Weyerbacher, but Simcoe is such a unique hop that I had to try it.

The beer pours kind of chunky, like there is still some yeast in there. Not something I am really looking for in an IPA. The color is nice but a little burnt, pretty dark for an IPA. I was pretty disappointed in the taste immediately. It was not very carbonated and definitely not fresh. There wasn't much smell to it at all. I wonder how long it had been sitting on the shelf at Party Source. I don't really like judging this beer now, cause I think it would be a lot better if it were fresh. The taste grew on me after a while. It has a very full body and not too much bitterness. It was pretty sweet, but a bit too much caramel for me. It was not the uniform taste of an Imperial IPA. Much more sweet and kind of like an Amber IPA. It felt kind of heavy and that just wasn't what I was looking for. The word "Double" is kind of hidden in the label, I thought it was just a straight Simcoe IPA in the store.

If I accept that it is not a typical Imperial IPA and also think about how it is 9%, then it is enjoyable to sip with some cheese and crackers. I would like a little more finishing hops in this. I give it 6/10 spicy Habanero cheese on lightly salted Ritz crackers.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Peak Organic Brewing Company

Usually when you see the word "organic" on any type of food product you think of another term: better. You might even think of another term: expensive. Luckily Peak IPA satisfies the former rather than the latter.

Peak Brewing Company is located in Portland Maine and is all about using great ingredients to make an array of handcrafted beers. Jon Cadoux, an avid home brewer, started the company in an effort to bring sustainability to the brewery world. This IPA features three different types of hops (Simcoe, Amarillo, and Nugget), but does not use traditional bittering hops.

The first thing you get from this beer is the citrus, both in smell and taste. If I had to hazard a guess this is because of the lack of bittering hops, but the effect is a very crisp almost spring/summer seasonal taste. In the back you get the typical IPA aroma and taste. The bitterness is not huge, but it is there and offers a nice contrast to the citrus.

I enjoyed this beer with a rather spicy Fish Burrito at John's Tex Mex in Rochester, NY. It was only $3.25. The IPA paired really well with this meal. The beer cleansed the palette very nicely and worked well the spiciness of the meal.

Overall, this is a solid IPA. Nothing spectacular, but it hits all the right notes. This could be a beer you drink everyday because it is not overpowering, but it is not a special occasion type brew. If you are into beer pairing I would suggest this beer with any spicy dish. Overall, I give 7 out of 10 Kristen Pasquarellas.