Saturday, April 21, 2012

Beer Club (week 26 and anniverary retrospective)

Great mix of styles this week:

• Anniversay Barley Wine Ale (Uinta Brewing Company)
• Eliot Ness Amber Lager (Great Lakes Brewing Company)
• Inlet India Pale Ale (16 Mile Brewery)
• Oatmeal Milk Stout (River Horse Brewing Company)
• Old Court Ale (16 Mile Brewery)
• Summer Farmhouse Ale (Flying Fish Brewing Company)

Also, April 15th was the first anniversary of our little club. To commemorate that occasion, I reproduce below the most complete list available of the beers that we have exchanged in the last year. (Because of furloughs and vacations, I missed a couple of weeks last summer.) The list contains 123 beers from 70 different breweries in 23 states and four countries. I haven't closely tracked the styles, but scanning this list it is easy to see that there have been dozens. It has been a very educational experience.

I'll go on record with my five favorite beers I've discovered through the club, in chronological order:

• Racer 5 IPA (Bear Republic Brewing Company)
• Burning River Pale Ale (Great Lakes Brewing Company)
• Hoptober (New Belgium Brewing Company)
• Imperial Red IPA (Lagunitas Brewing Company)
• Two Hearted Ale (Bell's Brewery, Inc.)
• Double Stout (Green Flash Brewing Company)

And here is the full list:

1554 Enlightened Black Ale (New Belgium Brewing Company)
1860 IPA (Stoudts Brewing Company)
2011 Anchor Christmas Ale (Anchor Brewing Company)
471 IPA (Breckinridge Brewing)
A Little Sumpin' Sumpin' Ale (Lagunitas Brewing Company)
Anchor Porter (Anchor Brewing Company)
Anchor Steam (Anchor Brewing Company)
Anniversay Barley Wine Ale (Uinta Brewing Company)
Aprihop (Dogfish Head Craft Brewery)
Belgo (New Belgium Brewing)
Bell Ringer (RJ Rockers)
Bell's Special Double Cream Stout (Bell's Brewery, Inc.)
Big Bison Ale (Crown Valley Brewing & Distilling Company)
Big Swell IPA (Maui Brewing Company) Black Hawk Stout (Mendocino Brewing Company)
Bitter American (21st Amendment Brewery)
Black Jack Porter (Left Hand Brewing Company)
Black Lightning (DuClaw Brewing Company)
Blue Fin Stout (Shipyard Brewing Company)
Brew Free or Die IPA (21st Amendment Brewery)
Brooklyn Summer Ale (Brooklyn Brewery)
Brrr (Widmer Brothers Brewing Company)
Burning River Pale Ale (Great Lakes Brewing Company)
Carolina Blonde (Carolina Beer Company)
Celebrator Doppelbock (Brauerei Aying)
Chang (Thai Beverage)
Copper Ale (Otter Creek Brewing)
Dale's Pale Ale (Oskar Blues Grill & Brewery)
Demo (Magic Hat Brewing Company)
Dig IPA (New Belgium Brewing Company)
Dominion Millennium Ale (Old Dominion Brewing Company)
Double Stout (Green Flash Brewing Company)
Duchesse De Bourgongne (Brouwerij Verhaeghe)
Dundee Summer Wheat (Dundee/Genesee Brewing Company)
Eliot Ness (Great Lakes Brewing Company)
Exile ESB (Evolution Craft Brewing Company)
Exit 4 American Trippel (Flying Fish Brewing Company)
Franziskaner Weissebier (Spaten-Franziskaner-Bräu)
Golden Monkey (Victory Brewing Company)
Harpoon Celtic Ale (Harpoon Brewery)
Headwater Pale Ale (Victory Brewing Company)
Heavy Seas Black Cannon (Clipper City Brewing Company)
Heavy Seas Märzen (Clipper City Brewing Company)
Hell or High Watermelon Wheat Beer (21st Amendment Brewery)
Hex Ourtoberfest (Magic Hat Brewing Company)
Hobgoblin Dark English Ale (Wychwood Brewery)
Hop Hazard (River Horse Brewing Company)
Hop Head Red Ale (Green Flash Brewing Company)
Hop Notch (Uinta Brewing Company)
Hop Rod Rye (Bear Republic Brewery)
HopDevil Ale (Victory Brewing Company)
Hoptical Illusion (Blue Point Brewing Company)
Hoptober (New Belgium Brewing Company)
Hoss Rye Lager (Great Divide Brewing)
Howl (Magic Hat Brewing Company)
Humming Ale (Anchor Brewing Company)
Imperial Red IPA (Lagunitas Brewing Company)
India Brown Ale (Dogfish Head Craft Brewery)
Inlet India Pale Ale (16 Mile Brewery)
IPA (Southern Tier Brewing Company)
Jagged Edge IPA (Black Diamond Brewing Company)
JavaHead Stout (Tröegs Brewing Company)
Kellerweis Hefeweizen (Sierra Nevada Brewing Company)
Latitude 48 IPA (Boston Beer Company)
Leinenkugel's Summer Shandy (Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company)
Levitation Ale (Stone Brewing Company)
Long Hammer IPA (Redhook Ale Brewery)
Loose Cannon Hop3 Ale (Clipper City Brewing Company)
Lot No3 India Pale Ale (Evolution Craft Brewing Company)
Lucky U IPA (Breckenridge Brewery)
Mad Elf Ale (Tröegs Brewing Company)
Mendocino Seasonal Bock Beer (Mendocino Brewing Company)
Mojo IPA (Boulder Beer Company)
Newcastle Founders' Ale (Caledonian Brewery)
Nugget Nectar (Tröegs Brewing Company)
Oatmeal Milk Stout (River Horse Brewing Company)
Old #38 Stout (North Coast Brewing Company)
Old Chub Scotch Ale (Oskar Blues Grill & Brewery)
Old Court Ale (16 Mile Brewery)
Old Leghumper Robust Porter (Thirsty Dog Brewing Company)
Old Man (Southern Tier Brewing Company)
Optimator Doppelbock (Spaten-Franziskaner-Bräu)
Palm (Brouwerij Palm NV)
Pandora's Bock (Breckenridge Brewery)
Paulaner Oktoberfest Märzen (Paulaner Brauerei)
Pecan Harvest (Abita Brewing Company)
Phin & Matt's Extraordinary Ale (Southern Tier Brewing Company)
Pipeline Porter (Kona Brewing Company)
Pumpkinhead Ale (Shipyard Brewing Company)
Punkin Ale (Dogfish Head Craft Brewed Ales)
Racer 5 IPA (Bear Republic Brewing Company)
Raging Bitch (Flying Dog Brewery)
Railbender Ale (Erie Brewing Company)
Raison D'Être (Dogfish Head Craft Brewery)
Red Rocket Ale (Bear Republic Brewery)
Red's Rye P.A. (Founders Brewing Company)
Robust Porter (Smuttynose Brewing Company)
Ruthless Rye IPA (Sierra Nevada Brewing Company)
Santa's Private Reserve (Rogue Ales)
Saranac Black Forest (Matt Brewing Company)
Saranac Caramel Porter (Matt Brewing Company)
Saranac Imperial IPA (Matt Brewing Company)
Satsuma Harvest Wit (Abita Brewing Company)
Schlafly Coffee Stout (The Saint Louis Brewery)
Shiner Oktoberfest (Spoetzl Brewery)
Shock Top Belgian White (Anheuser-Busch, Inc.)
Snake Dog IPA (Flying Dog Brewery)
Snow Day (New Belgium Brewing Company)
Spring Fling Copper Ale (Blue Point Brewing Company)
Steelhead Extra Pale Ale (Mad River Brewing Company)
Steelhead Extra Stout (Mad River Brewing Company)
Stone IPA (Stone Brewing Company)
Stoudt's Gold Lager (Stoudt's Brewing Company)
Stoudt's Oktober Fest (Stoudt's Brewing Company)
Summer Farmhouse Ale (Flying Fish Brewing Company)
Terrapin Rye Pale Ale (Terrapin Beer Company)
The Raven Special Lager (Baltimore-Washington Beer Works)
Thomas Jefferson's Tavern Ale (Yards Brewing Company)
Titan IPA (Great Divide Brewing Company)
Torpedo Extra IPA (Sierra Nevada Brewing Company)
Tripel Horse (River Horse Brewing Company)
Turbodog (Abita Brewing Company)
Two Hearted Ale (Bell's Brewery, Inc.)
Yakima Glory (Victory Brewing Company)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Two Hearted Ale (Bell's Brewery, Inc.)

Great anticipation surrounds my tasting of Bell's Two Hearted Ale. This IPA has been praised to me in the highest terms by several beer lovers whose opinions I trust, and it maintains an average rating of 95 after 2,661 community reviews on

A monochromatic painting of a salmon adorns the label. (I guess that's what people fish for up there in the Upper Peninsula where the bottle recommends traveling?) I pop the cap and pour. The beer is on the lighter side of amber with a slight hop haze and half an inch of fluffy foam.

The aroma is slightly citrusy, but delicate -- not the sharp, resiny citrus nose so prevalent in American IPAs. There is also a delightful powdery, cotton candy freshness.

The Bell's website speaks of "massive [hop] additions in the kettle and again in the fermenter," so imagine my surprise when the first impression in my mouth is... malt and not hops. Yes, the hops are there, of course, in the requisite abundance, but they are balanced in perfect measure with a sweet, slightly toasty grain backbone.

"Balance" is the word that keeps coming back to me as I sip this medium-bodied ale. Never do I note the clean malt flavor without immediately observing the floral Centennial hop charm, and vice versa. There is some peach fruitiness in ride out, but the hops-and-malt interplay carries through to the farthest reaches of the aftertaste. At a scarcely-noticeable 7% ABV, this one's drinkability is downright dangerous.

I haven't done any research on the origin of its name, but it is easy for me to imagine hops and malt flavors as the "two hearts" beating in unison within this brew. I now proudly join the chorus of fans proclaiming its greatness.

From the bottle's label:

An India Pale Ale style well suited for adventurous trips to the Upper Penninsula. American malts and enormous hop additions give this beer a crisp finish and an incredibly floral hop aroma.

Featured beer:
Two Hearted Ale

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Beer Club (week 25)

We came up with an amazingly diverse set of styles this week. Love it!

• Belgo (New Belgium Brewing)
• Bell's Special Double Cream Stout (Bell's Brewery, Inc.)
• Long Hammer IPA (Redhook Ale Brewery)
• Pandora's Bock (Breckenridge Brewery)
• Steelhead Extra Pale Ale (Mad River Brewing Company)
• Turbodog (Abita Brewing Company)

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Delaware Oyster Stout (16 Mile Brewing Company)

Through some combination of rest, vitamin C, and regimented nasal irrigation, I managed to snap back from my cold within a week. It was no fun being unable to taste beer!

I decided to return to Ulysses and give 16 Mile's Delaware Oyster Stout more of a fair trail. (I reviewed it in a cursory fashion last week) I was pleased to confirm the impression that my dimmed had senses hinted at: it really is a delicious stout.

Although I could not definitively assess the beer's appearance in the lighting of the bar, it is black enough to get the point across. There was negligible head when it was served to me the 10 oz. tulip glass. The aroma when cold was quite subdued, giving up only an earthy scent reminiscent of tamari.

To the taste, the beer is presents an initial mineral note that settles down into the smoldering undertones of the cherrywood smoked malt. My assumption is that this mineral quality comes from the dissolved oyster shells, and possibly somewhat from the meat. There is a play of dark chocolate and espresso hints there as well. Despite fairly sharp carbonation, the stout still pulls off a creamy and satisfying mouthfeel. The finish is long-lingering and smoky.

If you drink this looking for a briny or fishy quality, you will find none. Whether the chocolaty complexity of the main body owes solely to the malt or whether it gains from the oysters is beyond me to determine, but it was fun to ponder.

Delaware Oyster stout is a fine, contemplative brew. I'll admit that it is the first beer from 16 Mile that I have been excited about. This is encouraging, because it can't be easy to nail this unique style, and I believe they've done it. I doubt they will bottle this recipe, but I would love to see them come out with it in bars seasonally.

Featured beer:
Delaware Oyster Stout