Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Wookey Jack - What??

Speaking of names ( and I was a post or two ago), this one, Wookey Jack from Firestone Walker is very high on the wtf scale. I haven't spoken to anyone at FW just yet to discover the origin, but I can attest to its drinkability. It's a Black Rye IPA, 8.3% ABV, and tasty on many levels. I'm learning to appreciate the quality that rye gives a brew, and of course I've been drinking and enjoying Black IPAs for some time now, so this is a fortunate conjunction of flavors for me. The brewery describes it as:

"Rich dark malts and spicy rye careen into bold citrus laden hops creating a new dimension in IPA flavor.  This brew has been left unfiltered and unfined to retain all of its texture and character.  At 60 IBUs, Wookey Jack is gnarly on the outside yet complex and refined on the inside."

I describes it as "Yummy," (a technical term we craft-brews aficionados use frequently).

Some portraits are in order:

Saturday, August 25, 2012

New Beer On The Block

Discovered 101North's Heroine IPA last night at Sprenger's Tap in Santa Rosa.  A lot happened while I was away sampling South Carolina's finer brews... including the launch of this IPA at Sprenger's. But to get to the point, I really enjoyed this ale!! I have a weakness for creamy mouth feels IPAs (Racer 5 anyone?) and this one really delivers. Flavors were well balanced and the dry finish was very satisfying... so satisfying, I had a second pint!
I have not had a chance to visit the facility there in neighboring Petaluma as of yet, but I will report back as soon as I do.

Big "Headforbeer Welcome" to 101North!!

I meant to take the photo before sipping but exercised no restraint!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Names, Names, What's in a Name?

One fun aspect of the growing craft beer popularity has to be the names of the various brews. I recall the first time I heard of "Arrogant Bastard" from Stone Brewing.... my reaction was, "huh?"
These days, that name seems tame. Here are some examples that I have come across in my crawls. And wait till you see my favorite (for the time being anyway)!

 First, from Grumpy Brewing in Mt. Horeb, WI, which by itself is a name that causes one to pause.
 I tasted their Hoppa Loppa (?) IPA, which was quite good, nicely hoppe flavors, dry finish and very refreshing. ABV 7.2%, 66 IBUs.

Then I found this:   
Ass Kisser Double IPA from Ft. Worth, TX...
 Found it at BevMo and didn't have a chance to try it, but with a name like that and considering there's a double IPA (7.5% ABV)  and a Smoked Porter (8% ABV, 36 IBU) I'm certain that they will be quite tasty and I will anticipate some reaction in the buttocks area!

 And then I found this:  Old Leghumper from Thirsty Dog Brewing, Akron, Ohio.

I belive their slogan is, "So Many Legs, So Little Time to Hump."  Something like that. Another one that I didn't get a chance to try, since we found this at Community Tap, Greenville, SC, as we were heading back to ATL to return home. Here's how the brewery describes it:
"A robust porter, dark brown in color and full bodied with a malty sweet taste. Deep roasted, yet silky smooth! Two types of roasted malts, including deep-roasted chocolate malt, are used to give this porter a rich, chocolaty taste. 24 IBUs."  My favorite name so far!!

While traveling in SC last week, visited the mountain town of Brevard, known for a wonderful music center, Kay and I stopped for a brew at the quaintly named Hobnob cafe, which was closed but they were happy to sell us a pint of Highland Brewing's Gaelic Ale. I call it a deep amber-colored American ale, featuring a rich malty body. 5.6% ABV, 30 IBUs. Great way to end a day of exploring... not only for new adventures but weird names as well.
Also I learned that Oskar Blues is said to be opening a brewery here in Brevard. Music and beer, a winning combination. Just ask Lagunitas!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Baseball and beer

Thanks to brother-in-law Rick Bingner's generosity, we were able to catch a Greenville Drive baseball game for free, giving us more money to spend on beer, which we did. Had the opportunity to try Highland Brewing, Ashville, NC, Gaelic Ale. Perfect accompaniment for a ball game, even if the home team is behind. Here's what the brewmaster says about the beer:

 "A deep amber-colored American ale, featuring a rich malty body. Cascade and Willamette hops add a complex hop flavor and aroma. This ale is exceptionally balanced between malty sweetness and delicate hop bitterness. It has a universal appeal and is our workhorse, accounting for about half of our total production."

Good looking stadium too!

Here's a night shot taken a bit later. Used my iPhone camera so the quality is not as good as I would like.

Illinois Brewery

I failed to include this brewery,  Obed and Isaacs, in Springfield, IL. Springfield is the home of the Lincoln Library and Museum and private home. So after perusing Lincoln's history, just down the block was this brewery. Very warm day, hi 90s, so sitting outside was a challenge...

... but the Black IPA made it worthwhile. Not as hoppy as West Coast IPAs but it was full-bodied, had a nicely toasted flavor and creamy mouthfeel: characteristics that I enjoy.

Getting Caught Up In Greenville

Exploring Greenville, SC, and on the first afternoon I found this great liquor store, Greens Beverages. Imagine my pleasant surprise to discover that you can buy growlers from them for refills and among the 24 choices: none other than Bear Republic's Racer 5. Didn't buy the growler, but if we were to indeed move here, I'm sure I would take advantage of this resource!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Hops Crop Exceeds Expectations

The headline says it all. I didn't expect my hop plant to survive, much less produce some lovely cones but here's photographic proof. There used to be at least three plants and I had put up clotheslines for them to stretch out on.... then we quit gardening in that area, leaving them without water most of the year. But they are hardy little suckers (and stickers) as this one survivor proves. 
I started some regular watering and, lo and behold, cones appeared. What a wonderful, fragrant aroma... sort of like sticking your nose down into a pint of Pliny the Elder!!
Now, if I only knew the variety. For the time being, I'm calling it a Cooper1.
So, you ask, what does one do with one hop plant and the few cones it produced? Well, I'm thinking, a little pinch between cheek and gum.....

Monday, August 13, 2012

Sucks - but not really

Although I have been enjoying Lagunitas' latest seasonal, Undercover Investigation, I still fondly remember last winter's Holiday seasonal, tastefully named "Sucks Seasonal Ale."  It was fun to stand at the bar (in the few establishments that had it, other than the Brewery) and say "give me a Sucks."
Well, the reason for the name has to do with the large expansion going on at Lagunitas as they gear up to become one of the country's largest brewers of craft beer. Due to construction, they weren't able to produce the normal winter seaonal, Brown Shugga, so the Sucks Ale became the substitute. (they even blamed themselves, saying "Lagunitas Sucks"). If you look closely at the label in the photo, you'll see that mentioned. 
Anyway, by February or so, it was all gone, just a pleasant memory of an intensely flavored, full-bodied and very satisfying brew. I have forgotten what the abv was, not too high, or less than 8% I seem to recall.
What would be a favorite occupation of mine? Being the one to come up with the name for a new brew, the more outrageous, the better.

Update: The ABV was 7%.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Craft Beer Expansion

Great story here from Huff Post. Even more beers to try!

Wisconsin Beer Adventures, cont'd

Still trying to clear the backlog, while simultaneously helping to keep the house in "display" mode for potential buyers. 

One highlight of the trip was a visit to New Glarus Brewery in, where else, New Glarus, WI. South of Madison and looking like a Swiss village the town hosts one of WI's largest craft brewers. Never having visited while the place was open, this time we made it happen. 

Tasting room offers three 3 oz pours for $3.50, and you get to keep the sampler glass. 
I tried Two Women lager, very tasty and light bodied, described by the brewery as "The collaboration of two Craft companies both led by women, New Glarus Brewing and Weyermann Malting."

I especially enjoyed the Moon Man, a session beer with a "bright bold blend of five hops" and worth having two samples! 

A seasonal beer not on tap but available in bottles in most stores and on tap in larger pubs is Black Top black IPA, which was a favorite of mine before visiting the brewery. Here's the brewmaster's description: " Expect this beer to pour a hop forward jet black glass brimming with aromatic bitterness. Brewmaster Dan skillfully weaves molasses and chocolate malt undertones" I couldn't agree more!

Better not forget the Fat Squirrel Nut Brown! Very tasty and widely available there. Read more about its origin at http://www.newglarusbrewing.com/index.cfm/beers/ourbeers/beer/fat-squirrel.

Quick look inside the brewery on a self-guided tour:
Spotted Cow bottling line. Spotted Cow is one of their top sellers. "Cask conditioned ale has been the popular choice among brews since long before prohibition. We continue this pioneer spirit with our Wisconsin farmhouse ale.

Brewed with flaked barley and the finest Wisconsin malts.
We even give a nod to our farmers with a little hint of corn"

 Whew! I'm worn out... writing can be hard work. Time for a break and a Black Top which I brought back with me in the checked luggage!!