Saturday, October 22, 2011

Redbud Arbor Imperial Stout

Over the past year or so Chase Healey has been kicking it unique with his nano-brewery approach, and by offering his brews exclusively via magnum, he's set himself further apart from the pack.  He's brought to Oklahoma the rarely experienced barrel aging Cuvee style, and has been bucking the trend of the keg to sixer/bomber business model that we see most often.  It is hard to argue with the success he is having with this strategy, as evidenced by the loyal following he has gathered in-state.

It is also evident, with each successive offering, that Chase is getting better and better at his craft.  So if that trend holds true, what I have in my hand here will be a truly fabulous beer.  A trusted clerk at the store where I grabbed this one said it's better than last years Coop Barrel Aged offering, and while taste is obviously subjective, (and I am in no way trying to start a war, and yes I know the history here) that is one helluva statement and compliment.

Now that I've hyped this brew beyond reproach, thus setting it up for complete failure, let us get to it.

Gunmetal black in color with a proud, airy and resilient dark tan head.  The froth clings in a layered pattern all around the glass. 

Deep, rich malts give off the aroma of fresh baked chocolate cake; all bready and sweet.  An underlying dark fruitiness leaves notes of mincemeat and an accompanying tartness.  A bit of licorice and a fleeting hoppiness result in a complexly fragrant background.

Dark chocolaty malts, some vinegar, more licorice sweetness and subdued herbal notes greet the tongue; playing off plums, grapes and raisins, and ending in a noticeable, but not detracting tartness.  There exists a certain metallic aftertaste that becomes slightly off-putting. 

Arbor has a medium to heavy mouth-feel, and is drier than expected, but soft at the edges with no alcohol to speak of, a fact that makes me wonder if we need a little recalibration of our testing apparatus.  I'm completely joking about that of course. 

I must say the trend of exceptional beer from Redbud continues with the Arbor RIS, and I hope some of this batch made it into some oak or whiskey barrels, because that is about the only thing that could make this brew much better.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Stone 15th Anniversary Escondidian Imperial Black IPA

The American Black Ale has seriously grown on me over the past year.  I absolutely love the unique marriage of malts and hops this particular style has.

This one pours a deep black with dark brown edges.  A near fill to the rim leaves a tan head that only jets after its had a few of it's own.  Has a striking earthy, oily hop aroma that is held in place by some sweet malts and sweet dark fruits.  Earthy, piny and sweet to the tongue with some plums and raisins also being noticed.    Aftertaste has an initial welcomed charred woodiness to it and a lingering tartness. Medium to heavy bodied and a definite sipper. 

A superbly well-balanced brew that not only demands respect, but gives it in return, and that sounds like a recipe for a long lasting relationship. 

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Classics Revisited: Rochefort 10. It Doesn't Get Much Better Than This

It's so easy to get carried away with the latest and greatest, but always important to take a step back and appreciate the roots of good beer.

Consistently haunting the top tiers of the BA top 100, this widely available brew is about as close as you can get to the Westy 12 without selling a kidney, being bilked on eBay or actually getting off your broke ass and traveling to Belgium. 

This beer is what the wine aficionados fear most, because it entails many vinous qualities, but tastes like a beer, with the accompanying complexity, and for a price that absolutely can not be beat.

This beer proves that there's really no reason to beg borrow and steal to get the best of the best.

8/9/08 Review:

A dark brown pour is topped with a hearty two finger rolling, dark tan head. Head retention is average and leaves behind an uneven lacing all around the glass. Sediment chunks float throughout and there's a dark swirly spot of something or the other in the middle of the head*. Smells sweet with some licorice, chocolate and malts being most evident. A biscuity base is also apparent. A panoply of chocolate, caramel and licorice candies light up the taste buds in the front, with some grapes and apples in the middle, all followed by some invigorating spice and hops. Mouth-feel is medium to full bodied and well carbonated, while the alcohol is almost nondescript. This brew exudes quality, but there's a little something missing that keep it's from attaining godliness.**

* I have no idea wtf I was thinking when I wrote about this, b/c I have seen nothing like that since.

** I wonder if I was subconsciously wondering about the Westy 12 when I said that?   

Friday, October 7, 2011

Rahr & Sons Pecker Wrecker

Froth imitates life.
. . . has some serious head on it. 

Pecker Wrecker's fluffy tan head bursts out of the pils glass off a medium pour. As much as the pale orange brew begs, the damn thing nearly refuses to go away.  After a long standoff the froth relents, but leaves a sticky, thick and milkish lacing behind

Light fruits, lemon, malts and hops all to the nose as expected. Tangy on the tongue up front with sweet malts, lemon, grass and spice all loving it up without a care.

A bit creamy, but with a residual edge.

Drinkable and tasty, although the "Imperial" could be easily lost without detriment, and I deny all double entendre you may take from this post.

Jester King Black Metal Freaks Rejoice

A sinister and powerful style of music matched with an ominous and potent style of beer is pure marketing genius.  Add to the equation the exceptional cover art, and you have yourself a potential match made in, well, choose your preferential other side of this mortal coil. 

Now, as well all know, in the beer world all the marketing or sweet labeling doesn't amount to a hill of human sacrifices, and many times it's a good sign somebody is trying to make up for some sort of inadequacy (insert little guy in a big truck joke here), so let us gather round and partake in this dark symphony and decide for ourselves if this brew lives up to the (in)auspiciousness of its moniker. 

A multi-hued tan head sits upon a pitch-black throne before succumbing and leaving no evidence of its reign behind.  The aromas of sweet malts, dark chocolates, and a myriad of dark fruits waft furtive across the battlefield with trailing shadows of hops darting in and out of the charred oaken remains and among the corpse multitude*

Sweet and even slightly tart up front with a piquant dark fruit bombardment, big piney hops, black licorice, subtle vinegar notes, a certain nuttiness and more oak to feed the flames of complexity and depth.  Viscous and creamy all the way down with a little tingle left behind, although the alcohol is cloaked in near invisibility. 

After the smoke clears and the graves are sealed it is very apparent that Texas hill country's neo-black metal horde (slash brewery) took a lot of names when making this behemoth, and to finish the cliche', they ended up kicking a lot of ass.  This one is highly recommended and should pair well with some finely aged Peste Noire or Ash Pool.


* Tell me Corpse Multitude is not the ultimate fucking band name, or has it been taken already?

Monday, October 3, 2011

Brew Dog Paradox Smokehead Takes Command And Enjoys The Spoils

Brew Dog, makers of, at one time at least, the biggest beer on earth at 55% abv, present another monster of a brew with this whisky barrel aged Imperial Stout.  While the Smokehead isn't quite as outrageously potent as some of their other brews, 10% is nothing to laugh at, and the promise of prolific whisky notes adds to the gnarly factor. 

Black, black and black in color with a weak tan head that disappears without warning, leaving a thin layer of lace on top. 

Smoky, peaty, boozy, piny and earthy notes assault the nose in the first wave.  A second push throws down some dark, bitter chocolates, cherries, plums, raisins and vinegar. 

Has an initial sapid, and sweeter than expected character to the tongue, with a quick rush of scotch notes, charred wood, dark chocolates and hops.  I poured this one a bit chilled, but after it warmed some candied sweetness (licorice, bubblegum) presented itself, and the whisky character truly began to take over, although the balancing sweetness and bitterness never strayed too far. 

Mouth-feel lies on the heavy side of medium; a bit thinner than expected, but still substantial.     

There seems to be a debate flourishing (and in my opinion infecting Beer Advocate) about session vs. extreme beer.  My take is that there is plenty of room and need for both.  I've always been enamored by boundary pushing, whether it be in music, literature, art or yes, these days, beer.

While I admit I dig the fact that Brew Dog unashamedly flip the finger to convention, I realize they at times do so by sacrificing consistency.  That being said, their brews are always interesting, flavorful and thought-provoking, and I can find nothing particularly wrong with that.  

In conclusion, the Paradox Smokehead is a brilliantly bold and flavorful beer that makes no apologies.  This is definitely not a beer to drink while strategizing your next move, but a beer to be sipped and enjoyed in triumph after you have vanquished your enemies.    
Speaking of smoke and head (yes, there is a marijuana reference there)...for your listening enjoyment I present a couple more British exports that ostensibly tend to enjoy life on the heavier side.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Clown Shoes Tramp Stamp and Coporate Rock Still Sucks

With a name like Tramp Stamp you might think the Clown Shoes guys would be getting paid the corporate beer big bucks marketing Keystone Light or some other much less than kick ass hickoid beer, but you would be wrong.  They are bringing to the table no less than a Belgian Style IPA.  While not my favorite style by a long shot, from time to time I do enjoy the nuanced leaning the Belgian Style IPA tends to have as compared to the souped up American IPA. 
And yes, I have every right to call cheap beer out for what it is, because I grew up suffering the shit, and it's not my fault the aforementioned beer manufacturer uses a redneck to promote their beer, even if they are ironically trying to do so, which just makes it worse in my opinion.   

Ok, for now all beer politics aside, let's pop the cap on this interesting and lasciviously labeled beer so we can see what's under the hood.  No pun intended. 

Wait one second...did you say something about contract brewing?...Oh hell no, you're not luring me into that debate! 

Pours a murky reddish brown with diminutive orange hues at the light.  The off-white head looms large and fades with the patience of a Saint.  Wide sheets of lace are left behind. 

Earthy, oily hops strike the nose, followed by a slight fruitiness, some herbal notes, sweet butterscotch candy and distant roasted grain.  The big sweet malts are perfectly balanced with more big hops but leave plenty of room for some subtle citrus (orange and grapefruit), a slight sour twang, phenols and pine. 

Medium mouth-feel and creamy through and through.  Despite the boldness of each individual note, this one is a full on drinker due to the consummate fusion of all its elements. 

All thoughts about the politics of contract brewing and beer marketing are quickly pushed to the wayside because the character of this beer speaks for itself.  I consume a lot of different beers of varying styles, and I will admit my palate becomes jaded at times.  However, thanks to exceptional beers like this one, I know that lurking somewhere around the corner, when I might least expect it, a top shelf brew might be waiting.  That never ending search and payoff is one my favorite good beer qualities; one that keeps me coming back for more.

Goodby for now good friends.  I'm going to pour another glass of this sweet nectar and Jam the Fuck Econo.  Cheers!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

John John Hazelnut (Rum Barrel Aged)

The proprietor at Mayfair liquor pointed this beer out to me, and said if I liked the Hazelnut Brown, I wold love this one.  I love the Hazelnut Brown, and would venture to say it's my favorite Brown Ale, but this one just doesn't have the body and complexity of taste as that fine beer. 

That being said, there is nothing about the John John that particularly stands out as bad, it's just an average beer, and an average beer is better than no beer at all.

A minimal tan head disintegrates quickly with no residual lace to speak of.  The color is a murky, reddish-brown. 

Aroma consists of chocolate malts, caramel, a little nutmeg and a faint earthiness.  Tastes of caramel malty sweetness up front with cherries, some red hots candied sweetness, and a light hop backbone. 

Has a bit of a light fruity aftertaste with some faint boozy notes from the barreling peeking in from time to time.  Dry at the edges, medium bodied and smooth overall.