Breweries "Visited"

Saturday, November 30, 2013

The End...Sort Of.

Day #721 Westvleteren 12 / Sint-Sixtusabdij van Westvleteren, Westvleteren, Belgium
Previously from this brewery:  The blonde and the 8

First, before the review allow me to announce that there are changes coming to your favorite beer blog.  No, not that one.  This one here.  Going forward, you are likely to not see a post every day, as you have for the past 721 days.  The writing staff have agreed that after nearly two years, we've lost some steam and maybe some passion, and schedules are currently making it difficult to drink, review, and write on an every day basis.  This by no means spells the end of this blog.  Quite the opposite.  There will still be reviews and commentary, but on a more manageable pace that fits in with our lifestyles.

So, to close out this phase of the blog, I'm going to pull out my last review that I had stashed from Belgium; quite possibly the rarest of the white whale beers, the Westvleteren 12.  Regardless of what source you consult (like this one, or this one, or this one), Westy 12 is likely to be the #1 ranked beer in the world, and if not, then somewhere near the top of the list.  That lofty - and let's face it - cult status stems from the fact that it is delicious (more on that soon), but also because they don't distribute their beer anywhere other than a cafe across the street from the abbey.  So, unless you have some well connected friends or a plane ticket to Belgium or the abbey has a serious financial need, you aren't having one of these.  And that makes it special. A running joke I have with some beer friends is that if you want your beer to become famous in the increasingly crowded world of craft beers, make a good beer.... and then don't sell it to anyone.  Might be some truth in that.
This may actually be the Westy 8... but go with it
So, the review.  In the glass, this quad pours a dark brown color, with a thick and lingering off white head. The aroma is an intoxicating mix of dark fruits, sweet malt, and Belgian yeast.  You could inhale this beer all day.  But even better than that would be actually drinking the beer, and when you do there are wonderful flavors of apple, raisin, and malt, with some caramel and spice in there as well.  Rich and complex, this beer definitely got even better as it warmed up a bit.  I'm probably not doing this beer justice, but trust me when I say that this is indeed an amazing, world class beer.

But is it the best ever?  I guess it all depends on your definition and what styles you prefer.  I've had more complex beers, I've had more flavorful beers, I've had more unusual beers.  All that being said, this is a very delicious beer, and the inability to get this beer easily definitely ratchets up the value.  However, I'll leave it up to you to decide if this is the best beer on earth when you drink one yourself.

As we leave this phase of the blog and move into the next phase, allow me to pause and again say thank you to you, the readers, who stopped by frequently, liked posts on Facebook, and every now and then would mention in person that you took our advice on a beer.  That means a lot.  And of course, thank you to Marci, my co-author, who had the crazy idea to launch this blog in the first place.  Been quite an adventure, and thank you for that.

Thing to Think About Today:

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Friday, November 29, 2013

Mall of Honor

Beer #720 Ritterguts Gose / Brauhaus Hartmannsdorf, Hartmannsdorf, Germany
Previously from this brewery: N/A, this beer is the first out the limo

Hopefully you all survived the mall today.  Or, hopefully you realized there's this thing called the internet, and you can buy things there instead of getting into a knife fight over a parking spot at the mall.

Today's beer is an interesting pour; a Ritterguts Gose from Brauhaus Hartmannsdorf.  It has a dark gold hue, with virtually no head.  There is a light, light aroma of wheat and citrus, and when you drink it you get a tart, slightly funky taste.  Interesting that I noticed white grapes more than the salty qualities that are usually found in this style of beer.  Solid, easy drinking (4.2% ABV) choice, even if it likely won't be on tap frequently near you.

I didn't get a picture of this beer, so instead, I'll leave you with this picture of Goose from Top Gun, because that's close to Gose and I've been on a Top Gun kick lately.
Talk to me, Gose
This brewery may date back to 1887, but I don't speak German (unlike their website) so I can't confirm that.

Thing to Think About Today:
If you are at the mall today, good luck - and buy me something nice.  I leave you with one of my favorite gags from How I Met Your Mother, the episode where they find out Robin had a career as a teen pop idol back in Canada (sort of their version of Tiffany).  I leave you with the faux-video from her faux-hit song Let's Go To the Mall.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thank You

Beer #719 Blind Pig IPA / Russian River Brewing Company, Santa Rosa, CA
Previously from this brewery: some of the best beers on earth

An abbreviated list of things I'm thankful for:
1. A wonderful family - who cooks me Thanksgiving dinner :)
2. The understanding that while my life is far from perfect, there are many others out there who have things so, so much worse.
3. That you actually take time to read this silly blog.  I'm always floored when someone mentions a post they read, even though this site gets hundreds of visitors a day.
4. My new Rainbow Loom bracelet; I felt like the last kid at school to have one.
4. That I am loved.

Tonight's review is a pint of Blind Pig IPA from my all time favorite brewery, Russian River.  This beer has a golden amber color with a lingering thin white head.  Your nose picks up pleasing aromas of grapefruit and lemon, and your taste buds are greeted by ample resinous pine and grapefruit flavors, with a fantastic dry and bitter finish.  Is this one as good as fellow Russian River offerings Pliny the Elder, and the uber-white whale Pliny the Younger?  No, but this is still a world class beer that you should order whenever you spot it on tap.  And, unless you live on the West Coast, Colorado, or Philadelphia, that won't be happening.  Sorry.
Blindingly good
Thing to Think About Today:
Facebook will be loaded today with people saying, "thanks", so allow me to instead say, "Please."  Pass the mashed potatoes, U2.  I hope you all had a good Thanksgiving.

"So you never knew that the heaven you keep, you stole"

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thanksgiving Eve

Beer #718 Newcastle Brown Ale / Caledonian Brewing Company, Edinburgh, Scotland
Previously from this brewery: the others

Hustle day, so I'm keeping this short - and if I can be honest, probably not interesting.

Today's beer is a bottle of Newcastle Brown Ale, which I think was left in the cooler at a tailgate.  Last season.  It pours with a dark amber color with a fluffy white head.  There are aromas of biscuit and malt, and flavors of caramel, sweet malt, and a hint of bitterness.  This beer is very easy drinking, and while there are certainly more flavorful or complex brown ales out there, this one holds up.
Back when there was sun in the world, unlike winter
It's almost odd to have a beer that comes out of a clear bottle, when you think about it.

Thing to Think About Today:
A brown ale... the day before Thanksgiving.... means you get Charlie Brown and the always magical Thanksgiving episode.  Should I have posted this tomorrow?  Probably, but time doesn't wait for awesome.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

It Takes Two

Beer #717 Two Hearted / Bell's Brewery, Kalamazoo, MI 
Previously from this brewery: Oberon, another Oberon, and a Double Cream Stout

Tonight's beer is an old favorite; a bottle of Two Hearted Ale from Bell's.  This IPA has a clear, dark gold hue and a wispy white head.  There are big grapefruit aromas, with lemon and pine as well.  When you take a sip, you find a wondrous mix of tropical fruit citrus and dry, earthy pine, with enough malt to balance things out.  A mellow bitterness to let you know that this is an IPA, but not enough to kill your taste buds.  A Top 25 selection, for sure.  To be fair, that list is now well beyond 25 beers, but it's still a high honor.
Nothing fishy about that!
I suppose you should read Ernest Hemingway's Big Two Hearted River when drinking this beer, if you want to get all up in the theme.

Thing to Think About Today:
Bottle of Two Hearted?  Don't need two, just need one Heart in this space - the Heart with the timeless classic What About Love?

Monday, November 25, 2013

Heavenly Hellish

Beer #716 Hop Devil / Victory Brewing Company, Downingtown, PA
Previously from this brewery: A metric ass ton of beers

I have bad posture when I sit and type.  I have no idea what prompted me to type this, other than the fact that I'm sitting here hunched over the computer like a 98 year old, hammering away at the keys without noticing that sitting like this makes my back hurt.  Sometimes, I'm not as intelligent as I think I am.

Now that I'm sitting like a normal human, tonight's beer will be another from the archive, a Hop Devil from Victory Brewing.  You see a light, clear copper color and a lingering white head.  Your nose finds a citrus and earthy aroma mix, and your taste buds pick up the flavors of lemon and pine, with a touch of malt, and a dry, bitter finish.  Just the way an American IPA should taste.
Hop to it
Thing to Think About Today:
Another beer with a devil connection tonight, and while I usually go for something from the dark side, tonight I'll look upwards instead.  Going to close with The New Pornographers and the thankfully not religious All the Things That Go To Make Heaven and Earth.  The sound isn't completely outstanding on this live video, but this is a band I desperately want to see live one day, so we'll go with it.  Night all....

"Our time reduced to an honorable mention"

Sunday, November 24, 2013


Beer #715 Landsknecht Bier / Furst Wallerstein Brauhaus, Wallerstein, Germany
Previously from this brewery: another Landsknecht

Another season in the books, which ended in a disappointing fashion.  I'm exhausted and drained and tired and only writing this as part of my civic duty.

This is another review from the archives, as I think I drank this last December.  It pours a dark mahogany shade with a thin off white head.  There's a nutty, earthy aroma, and the taste is dry, with a light toasted malt flavor, and almost even a hint of smoke.  Not a bad beer for the season, and definitely unique
Furst out the limo
Thing to Think About Today:
Landsknecht beer gets you some Swim Until You Can't See Land, from a favorite of mine, Frightened Rabbit.  A fantastic song, which I hope you enjoy.

"And if I hadn't come now to the coast to disappear
I may have died in a landslide of rocks and hopes and fears"

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Wolf This One Down

Day #714 Werewolf / Caledonian Brewing Company, Edinburgh, Scotland
Previously from this brewery: two reviews of John Smith's Extra Smooth Ale

Game Day!

Today's review is a beer that was in the fridge for seemingly an eternity.  No clue where it came from or when it arrived.  I guess a beer from Newcastle isn't that cool and kept getting pushed to the back of the pack when I've had some of the rarest and most magnificent beers in the world over the past two years. That being said, Newcastle Brown Ale was one of the first "good" beers I started drinking when I realized there was more to beer than just "cold" or "less filling".

The Werewolf is a special edition red ale (blood red ale, according to the bottle) that has a dark amber hue, and a quickly dissipating white head.  Your nose finds aromas of toffee and malt, and there are flavors of bread, berries, and toffee, with a dry bitterness on the finish.  This beer isn't exactly outstanding, but is certainly drinkable if you're looking for something in the blood red ale genre.  And who isn't?
I'll call my wolf guy....
Thing to Think About Today:
I've already used the song Werewolves of London and the movie Teen Wolf in this space, thus using up two of my three favorite wolf motifs.  The third?  Duran Duran and Hungry Like the Wolf.  Ah, the 80s. Never not awesome.  Have a good Saturday, my friends..... go Penn State!

"I'm on the hunt I'm after you...."

Friday, November 22, 2013

Old and Cold

Day #713 Old Rasputin / North Coast Brewing Company, Fort Bragg, CA
Previously from this brewery:

Hustle day, as tomorrow is the last home game in the 2013 Penn State football season.  Hard to believe that we're closing out another season of football and tailgating; feels like it just started.  This season has definitely not gone according to plan, but I guess that's about par for the course.  I do hope the stadium is somewhat filled, and the seniors go out with a win.  They deserve it.  We all deserve a win.

Keeping up with the trend of old beers that spent a good, long time in the fridge and equally old reviews, today's offering is a bottle of Old Rasputin from North Coast.  Black hue with a fluffy tan head, aromas of roasted malt and coffee, and flavors of malt, chocolate, cola, and tons of roasted malt.  Smooth and silky texture, too.  Little too much coffee for me to be a fan, but I can appreciate that this is a well made beer.
From Russia, with suds
Thing to Think About Today:
Old Rasputin gets you the Four Tops, and Same Old Song.  Because nothing says "indestructible Russian mystic" like some smooth Motown.  Just enjoy and don't think about it too much.  Have a good Friday, all....

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Hands Up

Day #712 Milk Stout / Left Hand Brewing Company, Longmont, CO
Previously from this brewery: 400 Pound Monkey, another 400 Pound Monkey, a Milk Stout, and a Sawtooth Ale

So, today wasn't what I would call outstanding.  The nice people at General Motors made it a bit easier, if you call them paying for half of a new transmission easier.  Or, they could just build transmissions that don't break.  Maybe today will get better.  Or... you know, not.

The beer du jour is a glass of Milk Stout from Left Hand Brewing; another beer that had first been in the fridge and then trapped in my notes for quite some time.  This one has a dark black color with a wispy tan head, and gives you aromas of lightly toasted malts.  When you take a sip there are notes of chocolate, toasted malt, oak, and a welcome sweetness.  Again, I don't often seek out stouts, but when I do, this one is a definite go to option.
With the appropriate glassware, even!
As always, Left Hand, I apologize for stealing this pint glass.  However, I did purchase a different pint glass, so therefore my guilt is relatively small.  Relatively.

Thing to Think About Today:
Left Hand Brewery, meet Jenny Lewis for some Handle With Care.  Night.

"Been beat up and battered 'round / Been sent up, and I've been shot down"