It’s Been a Long, Long Summer

Oktoberfest
Oktoberfest

Sometimes life just wears you down.  Beer helps, but it doesn’t help you get any of that time back.  Here’s a quick summary of my beer-related life over the summer:

  • June 15-23 – Vacation to California, where we traveled to San Francisco and Los Angeles.  It was the first time I have had any Russian River beers, and I see why they score so high.  I tried the gambit of the specials, like
    • Pliny the Elder
    • Damnation
    • Supplication
    • Consecration
    • Redemption
  • July 4th weekend – brewed several beers, including two sours: a Tart of Darkness clone, and an Oud Bruin, both of which turned out great (they were put in bottles a few weeks ago)
  • July 11 – Had a Monk’s Cafe Flemish Red at Monk’s Cafe in Philadelphia.  Need I say more?
  • September 4 – Enjoyed Sweet Baby Jesus from DuClaw Brewing for the first time in Washington D.C. – A peanut butter porter.  It was pretty tasty.
Dan Carey hard at work
Dan Carey hard at work
  • September 28 – Iowa City’s Northside Oktoberfest – the event was rainy, so there wasn’t a lot of room for everyone under the tent.  New rules put in place by the state made the event less fun.  The biggest issue with this year’s event was the 1 oz samples for several of the premium beers were 5 or 6 tickets (at 50 cents per ticket).  Does this mean that the entire 20 ounce bottle is worth $50?  No, it isn’t, so I would appreciate equalizing the ticket per sample price to be more reasonable based on the bottle price.
  • October 4 – Oktoberfest at Millstream Brewing – delicious beer at a cool place.
  • October 15 – Hit up a place in Santa Monica (West 4th and Jane) that earned me a Founder’s Badge on untappd.  Maybe not cool for you, but it was for me.
  • November 16 – Took the 3 hour trek with a couple friends to New Glarus Brewing in Wisconsin.  We took the “tour”, and had the guide explain a bit more about the brewery.  The coolest part of the trip was we saw Dan Carey, the brewmaster, sipping on several different Thumbprint series beers in the QA Lab.  He waved at our group (since they were like fish in a fishbowl), and just a small part of me wanted him to step out for a photo op.  We creepily stalked him for a while before we packed up our beer and left.
  • And, pretty much the whole fall we tailgated with the crew, the Keg Totem at each home game.
  • Oh, and remember the Brew-B-Q?  We plan on having some of the barleywine we brewed at our upcoming holiday party.  It ended up being 12%, and has been aging since then.

How was your summer?  Any great stories to tell?  Let me know!

 

An Evening with the Basic Brewing Guys

Basic Brewing Guys
Hanging with the Basic Brewing Guys - (from left to right) Steve, me, Andy, James

A few weeks ago, I had the chance to visit Northwest Arkansas.  While there, I had the privilege to meet up and hang out with the guys from Basic Brewing, my favorite brewing podcast and video podcast.  You may remember last year I had a chance to chat with the guys about the spontaneous homebrew I had made.

To begin the evening, we met up at Tanglewood Branch, where I had a chance to finally meet James, Steve, and Andy in-person.  While at the pub, I had a chance to try the porter made by the owner/brewmaster, J.T. Wampler.  After we finished our beers, we decided to head over to the Fayetteville square and enjoy some pizza from Tiny Tim’s Pizza and West Mountain Brewing Company.

West Mountain was a quaint restaurant that had been a pizza place for some time, but just began brewing at the end of 2011.  While there, as we were enjoying the pizza, I tried the Rye Pale Ale and the West Mountain Saison, with the saison being my favorite of the two.

After we had finished our meal, Steve decided to call it an evening, but James, Andy, and I went back to Andy’s home.  James had brought a few of the beers he had purchased while at the Great Taste of the Midwest the previous weekend in Wisconsin.  Additionally, I also wanted to see Andy’s automated brewing setup he had (along with the barrel he had just purchased; see the Basic Brewing Radio archives for more info).  While checking out the brewing setup, we split the Berliner Weiss James had just made (7/26/2012 episode of Basic Brewing Radio), along with a couple of New Glarus beers – the Thumbprint Saison and the R & D Sour Ale.  After a while, we realized it had gotten late, and we decided to call it a night.

Over the course of the evening, I had a chance to sample some great beers and enjoy great company.  I hope the next time I get a chance to visit Fayetteville the guys are available again, so we can have another great time.

American Craft Beer Week is May 16-22

New Glarus's Riverside Brewery
New Glarus's Riverside Brewery

American Craft Beer Week is May 16-22, 2011.  So this week, when you have a beer, enjoy one from one of America’s craft brewers!

It’s been a heck of a year for craft brewing, and thanks for letting me spend some of that time with you.  Be sure to try some of the beer from breweries we’ve visited in the last year:

… and to some we were close to, but couldn’t get enough time to stop by …

Have a great week!  Cheers!

New Glarus Wisconsin Belgian Red

New Glarus Wisconsin Belgian Red
New Glarus Wisconsin Belgian Red

If you remember from our trip to New Glarus Brewing Co., I had a pint of the Wisconsin Belgian Red, and was excited to take one of the bottles home to enjoy it later.  This beer has won several awards for New Glarus, including several Gold Medals at the Great American Beer Festival.

The other day, a couple friends and I cracked open the bottles of Wisconsin Belgian Red we had brought home.

First, the review: initially, it smells strongly like cherries.  The taste is a full cherry flavor. It continues with the cherry flavor.  It is a great beer, and, dare I say it, it almost was too intense. It left a great cherry flavor in my mouth.

Chocolate Cherry Layered Awesomeness
Chocolate Cherry Layered Awesomeness

After we enjoyed a bottle of the Wisconsin Belgian Red, we decided to try something new: a layered chocolate-cherry beer.  As you can see in the photo, we used my favorite beer, Young’s Double Chocolate Stout (the can that has the Nitrogen releasing widget inside).  It was a hit!

The smooth chocolate flavor played very well with the strong cherry flavor, and the entire layered drink was great!  I had previously tried a different chocolate-cherry layered beer with Samuel Adams Cherry Wheat with the Double Chocolate Stout, but the use of the Belgian Red was a great choice.

Have you had the Wisconsin Belgian Red?  What was your take on this flavorful beer?

New Glarus Raspberry Tart

New Glarus Raspberry Tart
New Glarus Raspberry Tart

From our trip to New Glarus Brewing Co., I brought back a couple of the special beers, including the Raspberry Tart.  I had the Wisconsin Belgian Red at the brewery, and if this was anything like that, I would be in for a treat.

Initially, the raspberry smell is very intense.  With the first taste, it overwhelms you with raspberry flavor.  It tastes a bit sour then finishes with a strong, sweet raspberry flavor.  It was like a blend between a beer and raspberry wine.

It was a great beer!  If only they distributed around here…

Have you had the Raspberry Tart?  What was your experience?

New Glarus Enigma

New Glarus Enigma
New Glarus Enigma

Continuing with the current sour beer trend, along with my trip to New Glarus Brewing, I picked up a four pack of Enigma, from the Unplugged series.

Technically, it is a sour brown ale, similar to the Monk’s Cafe Flemish Sour Ale.  It started with a tart flavor, and finished sour.  It leaves a slight caramel flavor aftertaste.

It was a great sour beer with limited availability, so get yours soon!

Have you tried Enigma?  What was your impression?