Monday, March 8, 2010

Hooray beer!

The craft brew industry is growing. God's in his heaven, all's right with the world.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


While I coax my friends into trying more beers for me to review, enjoy this article from the New York Times on Belgian golden ales.

Friday, February 12, 2010

2X Ultra IPA

In Miami, there is a restaurant called Titanic, which is also a bar and brewery. They have a couple of seasonal brews alongside their regular offerings, as well as what they call "guest beers" or something like that, basically beers that they didn't brew on the premises but that are supposed to be pretty awesome. Their meatloaf is also a winning item, made in the typical fashion but with the addition of chorizo to give it a kick. But I digress.

One of their seasonal beers, brewed in house, is the 2X Ultra IPA. I gather that it is only for a limited time, so if you are in the area, hurry up and get some. Eric says it is the fruitiest IPA ever, with a sweetness and a mango flavor that gave him pause. It is also very hoppy, with malts you can taste but that are nonetheless overpowered as expected by the hops. As the resident IPA lover, he enjoyed it very much and would drink it again. Be warned: it has a high alcohol content, which I think was in the vicinity of double digits but I cannot recall and it is not posted anywhere that I can find.

Just the facts, ma'am: 2X Ultra IPA, Titanic Brewery, Florida, American Double / Imperial IPA, high alcohol content.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Murphy's Irish Stout

As noted in previous reviews, Guinness used to be my husband's favorite beer. At one point he had sort of binged on it so much that other beers just didn't taste right; they were all too weak, too wimpy, not filling enough. He had to lay off for a while to get his taste buds back, and when he did, he found a whole world of beer open to him, including many other perfectly delightful stouts.

Murphy's Irish Stout is one such option, made by Murphy's Brewery since 1856 in County Cork in Ireland. The company was bought by Heineken a few years ago, which is apparently why this beer has become more ubiquitous in the States. It's an Irish stout, also called a dry stout, the same kind of stout as Guinness and another type called Beamish. The Irish call it leann dubh, or black ale. Don't ask me how to pronounce that.

Murphy's is less full-bodied than Guinness draft but has a more complex flavor, with pronounced chocolate and coffee notes. It's certainly not a Lagunitas Cappuccino Stout, though; the flavors are more subtle and there is no actual coffee or chocolate used in the making of the brew. Because it's not as heavy as a Guinness, for whatever reason, you can probably stand to drink more than one or two in a night, and maybe even have some food as well. A meal replacement this is not. But it is a good stout, enjoyed by all who partook even if it didn't blow their minds or change their lives.

Just the facts, ma'am: Murphy's Irish Stout, Murphy's Brewery, Ireland, Irish/dry stout, 4.0% alcohol by volume.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Anderson Valley Hop Ottin' IPA

The name of this beer intrigued me because, well, I had no clue what it meant. Namely the "Ottin'" bit, which I kept reading as "otter" because let's face it, otters are adorable. And so it was that I found myself on the website of the Anderson Valley Brewing Company, which is located in a place called Boonville, which has its own language. Boonville is in California, which as we know is practically a foreign country, so I was not entirely surprised. But I was amused that the language, called Boontling, was allegedly created "to use in their private conversations, both for their own amusement, and to confound anyone who might overhear them harpin’ (talking). They created new words as they went, trying to shark (stump) their companions." My new goal in life is to use this language whenever possible. I will undertake its study post-hate.

But you are perhaps wondering about the beer itself. I am pleased to report that it was well-received. A dark amber color, it was hoppy as it should be, with some floral undertones that gave it an almost tea-like taste according to Alex. It has a medium body for an IPA and is about as bitter as you would expect. The drinkers compared it to a Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA but more brutal, though not quite at the level of a 90 Minute. They very much enjoyed it and would definitely drink it again and seek it out.

And if you were wondering, "Hop Ottin'" means "hard working hops" in Boontling. Grab some chiggrul and this steinber at a tidrik and you're in for some bahl hornin'. Just nee boarch the heelch horn and moshe or you'll end up at the shoveltooth.

Just the facts, ma'am: Hop Ottin' IPA, Anderson Valley Brewing Company, California, American IPA, 7.0% alcohol by volume, 80 IBU.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Highland Gaelic Ale

I've been to Ireland twice, both times for school. The first time, I spent all of about four or five days there with a wild group of film students, including my husband, who had his first Guinness in a pub in Temple Bar. A stern Irishman watched him drink it to be sure he finished the whole thing. Apparently such things are taken very seriously there. The second time I went to Ireland was for a poetry class, and I got to stay at the dorms at Trinity College, which were pretty nice despite having a single bathroom per floor. Also there was one window that wouldn't close, so it was perpetually 60 degrees in the room, which was mitigated by the fact that we had an electric kettle in the kitchen. I had never seen such a thing. It was truly a miracle to me.

I say this by way of introduction to Highland Gaelic Ale, which is actually neither from the Highlands nor Gaelic but is certainly an ale. Okay, it is sort of from the Highlands, but the ones in North Carolina. It's an American amber ale, along the lines of St. Rogue Red or Stone Levitation. It's basically an American pale ale with colored malts added to give it the red tinge and a maltier flavor than a regular APA.

This particular amber ale is reportedly creamy and balanced, with a nice caramel malt flavor and even some floral undertones. It also has a hoppy overtone and a medium body, not too robust or too light, and not as bitter as an IPA by any stretch. The various drinkers enjoyed it and said they'd gladly drink it again. In the hierarchy, this would not be a starter beer unless you were planning to move on to a stout or porter after; you could start with a pilsner or witbier and move on to this as a closer, as this isn't as filling as a stout so you could drink more than one or two if you were so inclined.

Just the facts, ma'am: Highland Gaelic Ale, Highland Brewing Company, North Carolina, American amber ale, 5.8% alcohol by volume, 32 IBU.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Rose Garden, a.k.a. Bloody Ho

Some beers are okay, even pretty good, on their own. But sometimes they get much better when you stick them together. Such is the case with the drink known to Yard House patrons as the Rose Garden, or to my friends as the Bloody Ho. My friends are crude people, you see.

This is my drink of choice besides cider, and so it is my taste buds that will do the talking here. To make a Rose Garden, take about equal parts Hoegaarden and Lindeman's Framboise and pour them into a glass. That's it, as far as I know, although there may be fancy bartender secrets to which I am not privy.

Hoegaarden (pronounced Who-garden) is a witbier, or white ale, light and relatively clean and crisp. Lindeman's Framboise is a lambic, so instead of hops, fruit is added to activate the yeast that makes the alcohols that makes you drunk. In this case, if you speak any French, you'll already know that the fruit is raspberries. If you don't, you just got told. This particular lambic is pretty sour and tangy, what I would call a sharp flavor, almost acidic, in addition to having the expected fruitiness. It tends to be too strong for me to drink it alone, although their apple lambic is delightful.

When their powers are combined, the beers are unstoppable. The Hoegaarden cuts into the sour tang of the Framboise and smooths it out, while the Framboise gives the Hoegaarden a delightful raspberry overtone. They were made for each other like peanut butter and jelly, like Abbott and Costello, like fish and chips. It's a refreshing drink with barely any hop or malt content. If you aren't a huge fan of beer, this drink may be what you are looking for. If you love beer in all its hoppy glory, you might not dig this, but give it a try. You may be pleasantly surprised.

Just don't ask for a Bloody Ho because someone may look at you funny.