Wednesday, April 30, 2008

JW Dundee's American Amber Lager, High Falls Brewing Co., Rochester, NY

If the OPA OPA Amber is the weak link in the Amber family with the limp handshake that just creeps you out, then the JW Dundee's American Amber takes hold of your hand and holds on for dear life. The beer has a disturbingly strong roasted chocloatey malt taste. You half expect it to smooth out similar to a Sam's Octoberfest, but it doesn't happen and the JW maintains it's dark edge throughout your enjoyment. This beer isn't for the faint of heart. Chocolate malt haters may want to stay away as it is definitely the kind of brew you have to be in the mood for. The JW has an ABV of 5% and gets a rating of 3.0

Red Rock Amber Ale, OPA-OPA Brewing Company, South Hampton, MA

Remember college? You'd wake up one morning, roll out of bed, possibly hungover, head to the cafe, hit the soda machine pouring yourself a sweet Sprite. Sit down at the table take a long pull of that Sprite and realize that something is seriously wrong and you have to spit it out because the machine ran out of syrup? Well that's how I feel about the Red Rock Amber Ale. It's as if they decided to make a beer soda, made it a diet soda, and then forgot to add the syrup and it was all carbonation with just a slight fruity hint of hops and malt. This beer however won the gold medal at the 2005 Great International Beer Festival. So either I suck at tasting (very possible) or the Great International Beer Festival is similar to T-ball and the Special Olympics where everyone wins. I don't believe in that world and I believe that OPA OPA needs to turn its Amber around. The Amber has 5% ABV. The Amber gets a 1.

90 Minute IPA, Dogfish Head, Milton, DE

A few of you who know me may remember about 28 months ago I became a disciple of Dogfish Head beer. It happened when I received a mystery of box of beer and in it there was a lone Dogfish Head. I hit the wedding circuit and I preached to all comers about the greatness of Dogfish Head and the extreme brewing that is going on down there in Delaware, yes Delaware. Pilgrimages to the plant fell through, despite a brother who lives in Delaware. And this was just about the 60 Minute IPA, not the 90 Minute. The 90 Minute IPA is overly hopped, overly malted and as my pal Barney would say, overly Awesome. Most beers add hops at the beginning of the boil for the bitter taste and at the end for the flavor and the aroma. Dogfish Head continuously hops throughout the boil which allows the beer to have a strong hoppy and strong malty taste at the same time and it translates to the beer's unique flavoring. My friends would call this a "liquor beer" for it's strong alcohol bite (9% ABV), I disagree I believe the combination is perfect. Now the 120 Minute, that's a liquor beer. A 4.0 rating for a beer is one that you keep around the house just for yourself. A 4.5 on the other hand, means that you find liquor stores in your area who carry it and have them order you cases so you always have it in stock. Needless to say, the 90 Minute is a 4.5.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Big Announcement

I know, it's a day late, but I think you'll enjoy this. Many of the beers I review on here fall under craft brews and micro brews. They are seasonal beers and limited releases. This tends to mean that I am giving out a lot of 3s for my reviews. I haven't reviewed the Buds, the Millers or the Coors, because frankly I like trying new things, until NOW. Starting this weekend going over the next few weeks I will be hosting a Sweet 16 tournament of the major beers. I will blind taste test them, winners will advance, losers will feel shame and a champion will be crowned. Results will be posted either Sunday or Monday and you can see them HERE. As you can see the brackets are broken up between regular beers and light beers and all sorts of beers are represented. At the end of this I will really figure out which light beer I like better and we 'll see if I truly am a Busch Light guy at heart. By the way in the first round I reserve the right to replace beers that are not available close to my house. I am talking about you Milwaukee's Best Light!!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Weekend Notes

I managed to get a few other beers in this weekend as well, but due to some circumstances I could not not review them One beer was listed as one way on the restaurant's menu but the same beer is not listed that way on the company's website so I am not sure which of their beers I got. Another Sankaty Light, from Cisco Brewers, I thought was real good, but as it was my 5th beer of the night, I am guessing my palette was a tad compromised. Same goes for the Coors Light pitcher I had after that. I also squeezed in a Newcastle but I wasn't feeling well so I didn't think I could review it properly. All in all a solid weekend for new beers, with the exception of the Coors. Not sure I am still on pace for my big beer news I promised from last week for tomorrow. I need some things to fall in place tomorrow for that to happen. I also made small changes to the reviews adding labels at the bottom for easy searching. Apparently my web guy says this is a good idea. Enjoy the week.

Dragon's Gold, Bard's Tale Beer, Leawood, MO

Dragon's Gold is the best beer ever (Gluten Free Class). OK this may not be true, as I only have had one gluten free beer in my life and it was this one. Which means, this is also the worst gluten free beer I've ever had as well. Let's stay with that thought. Did you ever have a sugar free cookie and it tasted awful? So you think, wow sugar is what makes cookies taste good. That's how I feel about about gluten right about now. The beer had no taste, no malted goodness at all. I wasn't the only one who thought this, someone else called it "not memorable. " Sure the redeeming thing about this beer is that it is made with sorghum instead of barley so people with Celiac's disease can drink it. I am clearly not a fan of this beer and its 4.7 ABV. The Bard's Tale gets a 1.5.

fisherman's Brew, Cape Ann Brewing Co., Gloucester, MA

The fisherman's Brew is a very sweet lager. The brew definitely has a honeyish flavor that heavily influences the ale. This is great if you are a big honey fan, which I am not. On top of that, the beer's hops were noticeably absent. The beer has a 5.5% ABV. Aside from that the most enjoyable thing about this beer was the waitress trying to pronounce "Gloucester." The beer gets a 2.5

Whale's Tale Pale Ale, Cisco Brewers, Nantucket, MA

The Whale's Tale Pale Ale is not as strong as the pale ales I have tried lately. The ale is less malty than what I am used to in a pale ale. Instead the beer has a unique tartness. The hops arrive fashionably late and provide an acute bitterness. The beer has 5.6% ABV. The Whale's Tale Pale Ale rates in at a 3.0, which could be a slight reach for this beer.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

JW Dundee's Porter, High Falls Brewing Co., Rochester, NY

I'll admit , I am not the biggest of the dark beers. I tend to pass Stouts and Porters by, in search of lighter or heavier hopped beers. Because I am sitting at home with the JW Dundee variety pack I gave the Porter a try. The Porter, like many in its class pours dark with a creamy head. The head gives the beer a creamy taste, and the JW almost tastes like a roasted coffee ice cream soda. The chocolate malt is almost too sweet and the chocolate announces its presence with authority. The Porter clocks in with a 6.5% ABV and rates a 3.0.

JW Dundee's Pale Ale, High Falls Brewing Co., Rochester, NY

JW's Pale Ale is a reddish ale which is poured with a blustering head. JW's Pale is malted heavily. If Bass Ale is a silky smooth ale, the JW comes on more aggressively attacking your palette with hops and malt. Their Ale name is the only thing that makes the two beers comparable. The JW has an edge and will hold up better in a keg it seems as every now and then you can get a flattish feel to a Bass. The Pale Ale has an ABV of 5.3% and gets ranked the same as Bass at a 3.0, but these two are different animals.

JW Dundee's IPA, High Falls Brewing Co., Rochester, NY

Poured into a glass the JW Dundee IPA forms a reddish brown hue. The head of a beer pockmarks with tiny bubbles, similar to other IPAs, a sure sign of hops. The IPA is felt more in your throat, not on your tongue. The hops arrive late to the party. The bittering hops bitter to a point which forces a slight smile across your face. JW blessed this beer with a wonderful 6.3% ABV. This beer grew on me throughout my enjoyment. My initial ranking of 3.0 matriculated to a ranking of 3.0.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Midweek Notes

First off, I apologize to those looking for cutting edge beers having to suffer through a Bass review, but I wanted to pay a little respect to my new UK readers who are probably groaning that of all the beers I reviewed, I chose Bass. Second, if all goes well with this weekend, I should have a pretty big announcement on Monday of next week which I am excited about. Some of you have guessed around this announcement so I hope you are as excited as I am. Enjoy the week

Bass Ale, Bass Brewery, Burton upon Trent, England

Bass Ale is probably no stranger to anyone who reads this. It is definitely the most mainstream beer reviewed so far. While many beers can be described as chocolatey, Bass has more of a caramel feel that stays with you throughout the sip of beer. The beer ends with a nice silky malt finish. The amber color would suggest a brown ale, but in actuality it is a pale ale. Bass is clocked at a 5% ABV and their website is offering free merchandise which is always nice. Bass is getting a 3.0.

OPA-OPA IPA, OPA-OPA Brewing Company, South Hampton, MA

The OPA OPA IPA is a very light IPA. I call these kind of IPAs starter IPAs. They are for people who cannot handle the double IPAs more and more people are seeing nowadays, for instance the Dogfish 90 and 120 minute IPAs. This is the perfect IPA for someone who doesn’t like their beers super hoppy. The ABV is still high, coming in at 6.8% ABV. The hoppy taste is spread throughout the entire sip of beer so you do not get the overly hopped after taste you can get with some IPAs. The OPA OPA gets a 3.0 on the scale.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

American Craft Beer Fest in Boston

Just a heads up to everyone, but the American Craft Beer Fest comes to Boston this June 20th and 21st. There are three sessions with 75+ brewers attending. I will be hitting one of the Saturday sessions with a cadre of beer fans.

Liberty Ale, Anchor Brewing, San Francisco, CA

I was very underwhelmed by the Liberty Ale. The beer had all the ingredients of what goes into a good beer, you know barley, hops, malt etc. but it's like they weren't added in the right quantities. Anchor does use the dry hop method with this ale so you do get a late flurry of hops in the after taste, but by then I already had given up on the rest of the beer. When you drink it, you recognize it has the genetic make up of beer but, it is far from thrilling. This is the second time in a row I have been disappointed with an Anchor product. If I had any of their Christmas Ale in my fridge I would go risk certain poisoning (again) take a sip and throw up the first zero rating on the blog, but alas I left the remainder of that six pack at someone else's house. The Liberty has a 6% ABV and is getting dropped to a 2.0.

Weekend Notes

First things first, I definitely used to my advantage this weekend and was able to find some good beers relatively close to my office for a mini get together with friends. Unfortunately too many Pacificos after work hindered my ability to accurately review the Abita Restoration Ale which I had picked up. The beer was great, but I imagine you guys won't let me off with a description like that, so I will have to pick up some more and review it properly some other time. Also Bauer Wine & Spirits where I picked up some more Oskar Blues Gordon has an awesome beer selection and even more impressive has a "Beer Hero" on its staff, it says so on his business card. For those in the Newbury Street area, I reccommend you check them out.

Pacifico, Grupo Modelo, Mexico

Would I normally have ordered a Pacifico? Probably not, but someone else was buying and they ordered one for everybody. It was prefaced with something like, "This is what I drank while in Cabo." I'll admit, I was expecting something special when that was said. Turns out this is a Corona clone. It tastes like Corona, it comes with a lime like Corona, it's made by the makers of Corona. It's like the Duff Beer plant in Springfield where one big vat of beer funnels into 3 different taps of Duff, Duff Light and Duff Dry. Now, I have nothing against Corona, or Pacifico for that matter. Pacifico is probably perfect for a summer BBQ when you don't want to be ordinary and just bringing Corona when in actuality all you want is Corona. It has 4.5% ABV. Pacifico gets a 2.0.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Pils, Lagunitas Brewing Company, Petaluma, CA

Disappointment. As mentioned previously, I am a fan of Lagunitas beers, but the Lagunitas Pils I just can’t get into. I found mine to be heavily carbonated and extremely bitter. I think if you toned down the bitterness and citrused the beer up a bit you’d get much better results. Maybe it’s the Saaz hops. I’m not sure. Maybe I just don’t like beers under 8% ABV as the Pils rates “only” a 5.3% ABV. Anyways I am busting this down to a 2.

The Hairy Eyeball Ale, Lagunitas Brewing Company, Petaluma, CA

I did not know what to expect when I purchased the Lagunitas Hairy Eyeball Ale. The packaging doesn’t even tell you what kind of ale it is. After having success with another Lagunitas product, I decided to go for this one because the label was wacky as hell. Pouring it into the glass I was intrigued to see it was a brown ale because Lagunitas already has a winter seasonal brown ale, The Brown Shugga. One sip of the Hairy Eyeball’s chocolatey smoothness and I was hooked. This was definitely made for beer fans who like chocolate malted beers and not the hoppy IPAs. The beer is phenomenal. Once again I am picking a beer with a high ABV of 9%, I imagine drinking a few of these makes your eyes look like the label. The Hairy Eyeball is also amazingly similar to the Hillenbrand Double Down Ale. Don’t go searching for that anywhere, it was a beer I designed and brewed 3 years ago. The label on the Hairy Eyeball is awesome, even the dog looks drunk. Look for it now in stores as it is a seasonal beer. The Hairy Eyeball is getting a 4.0 with a bullet, it’s good stuff.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Gordon, Oskar Blues Brewery, Lyons, CO

Before you even get the Gordon to your lips, your nose fills with aroma of the hops that infiltrate this beer. When you finish sipping, you think to yourself "Now that's a beer." This beer is overloaded with hops, but not so much so that it takes away from the enjoyment of the beer. It's so packed with flavor and hops I am going to let my buddy Wooderson take over and tell you what this beer is about. "Let me tell you what Gordon is packin' right here. We got six different malts, three types of hops, dry hopped with Amaraillo, 85 IBUs and 8.7% alcohol by volume. We're talking some fuckin' muscle." Another great thing about this beer? It comes in a can and tastes this good. This, along with its Oskar Blues running mate, Dale's Pale Ale, are the best beers to come in a can, perhaps ever. This is the kind of beer what this blog is all about. Gordon gets a 4.5 and is teetering on the edge of the HoF.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


A few people asked how to recommend beers and there are two ways. One, email me at put "Beer Reccomendation" as the subject or two, just post your recommendations in the comments section of any post. Another thing, unless I lose my job, I will not likely be posting daily. Of course this could be a lie and I could post every day for the next two months. We'll have to wait and see.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Sam Adams Hallertau Imperial Pilsner, Sam Adams, Boston, MA

This beer is self described as an "Intense Hop Experience." It says so right on the box. Maybe in the first sip there are some hops tingling, they however do not stay with you long. This beer starts strong, but finishes weak. I do appreciate Jim Koch for trying though. I do enjoy most of Sam Adams brews. I just wished he spent more time dumping hops in this beer, and less time sniffing hops. This beer packs a whopping 8.8% ABV, so while the hops are lacking the alcohol is strong. We're rolling another 2.5 ranking however.
By the way, Jim Koch is definitely on the list of Bostonians who always appears as if he is drunk when on TV. Rounding out the list, Bob Lobell and Bob Kraft.

Abita Jockamo IPA, Abita Beer, Louisiana

In the movie A Knight's Tale, Count Adhemar beats William in a joust and declares "You have been weighed, you have been measured, and you have been found wanting. Come back when you're worthy." This is how I feel when I drink Abita Jockamo IPA. I want to love this beer. I like the label, I like the brewer, but it's not doing it for me. The hops are way too mild for an IPA. On the good side, the beer is weighing in at 6.5% ABV, not too shabby. However, I am a big IPA guy and I expect more from an IPA, especially one hailing from a great drinking place like Louisiana. This beer gets a 2.5.

The Rankings

I tried simplifying the rankings so that everyone would have an idea of what I am talking about. To be honest, I love beer. I realize there are perfect beers for perfect moments. You can sit at dinner and drink the perfect Thomas Hardy Ale of 1999 and declare it the finest beer ever, but the next day you can be sitting at Fenway and nothing will taste better than your $8 Bud Light. On to the rankings.

0 – It is either poisonous, non alcoholic or pretty much something where you'd rather say "Actually I am driving tonight" instead of drinking it.

1 – A last resort beer, you know, when it is the only thing available and the alternative is dealing with the current circumstances sober.

2 – The average beer. It is for when you are looking for something with more substance than style, generally your Bud Light and Miller Lite beers from the major brewers, which you are comfortable buying for a crowd and perfect for the nights when maybe one or two beers are not enough.

3 - A Solid beer. Most likely from the mid majors (Harpoon, Sam Adams) that maybe has a few more hops than your usual fair. It’s a beer that you may keep around the house so people think you are more “mature” and not that guy who had to have the funnel surgically removed after college.

4 – A knock your socks off good beer. The kind of beer you keep around the house for yourself, but keep away from the guests at parties. This is a beer you savor and tell your friends about.

5 – Hall of Famer. This is the beer that when you see it, you drop whatever you are doing and order it. It’s the stuff pharaohs are buried with. If your friends hate this beer, then you stop being their friend. It is that good.


Ok here goes, I am writing a blog after I have promised not to do it. I buckled and I failed. In all truth this blog is totally for me so I can remember what beers I've tried and what I've liked. I spend so much time trying new beers and emailing my friends about them that I decided to make a public record of it. It's so I can be at a liquor store and search the site from my Blackberry to see if Acme IPA is a decent beer or some junk I wouldn't give my worst friend. So, if you're reading this and get some knowledge and enjoyment, great. If not, oh well, I wrote this for myself anyways. If you have suggestions for new beers, leave them in the comments, I am always willing to try new things. I'll be ranking the beers per my personal scale as I go along. My goal, as always, is to find the best beers out there. This is my Beer Crusade.