Tag Archives: beer

Brad’s Beer Review: Red Brick Brewing’s Matcha Super Green Yuzu IPA

First, my apologies for missing the review last week. With the site migration not completing until Sunday, I didn’t get a chance to put something together.
Matcha Super Green Yuzu IPA
This week I’ve tried to do something a little different. Here in Southern California, I could easily spend years doing a weekly review just of beer from San Diego County. Many of these, such as Alpine, are difficult to get even here in Orange County, much less for the rest of the world.

Luckily, I recently had a beer trade with a coworker who lives in Georgia. I sent him a box of Russian River beer, and he sent the best of the best of GA beer. I might as well review something that our readers back east have better access to than we do out here. In this case, it’s Red Brick Brewing’s Matcha Super Green Yuzu IPA. Because when I think Georgia–bearing in mind that I lived there for two years–my first thought is “green tea IPA”!

That said, it’s my first tea-infused beer, so it should be an interesting experience!

  • Stats: 7.8% ABV, 62 IBU. 4.5 SRM.
  • Aroma: Well, for an IPA, it certainly doesn’t lead with hops. Bit of a shame there. Maybe a bit of the tea, but not overwhelming. I definitely pick up a bit of graininess and a bit of phenol.
  • Appearance: Pale gold, very hazy. Not much head. I typically pour rather gently, but as it was going I tried to get much more aggressive and still didn’t get much. I think the tea definitely causes the haze, but not sure on the head.
  • Flavor: For an IPA, and a 62 IBU IPA at that, I don’t find it overwhelmingly bitter. There’s a maltiness in there. Granted, this is not all that uncommon for East Coast IPAs. The tea is not overdone. A concern with any spiced beer is that the spice will absolutely overwhelm everything else. In this case it melded very well. I would have liked some more hops, though.
  • Mouthfeel: Light to medium body, but with a bit of sweetness that makes it seem a little bigger than it is. I think here is where the tea is most detectable, though. It’s different on the tongue than a typical beer. I get this tiny back-of-the-tongue astringency that I don’t get often.
  • Overall Impression: This one was just “ok” for me. Everything seemed a bit “muddled”. I like nice crisp dry IPAs that are heavy on the hops. I didn’t get them. I do like tea, and I was expecting a bit more noticeable tea character. And the maltiness kind of overshadowed both of those. I wouldn’t really recommend this one.

There you have it. A great big “meh”. I’m sure it’s possible to get green tea to work harmoniously in an IPA, but this isn’t the one.

Brad’s Beer Review: Stone Coffee Milk Stout

This is a beer I’ve wanted to try ever since I heard it was to be released. Milk Stout (sometimes known as sweet stout or cream stout) is one of my favorite beer styles. I first found Left Hand Brewing Company’s Milk Stout when I lived in Georgia back in ‘05-07. When I moved back to California, I couldn’t get Left Hand beers (nor could I easily find any commercial milk stouts), so I used the info from their web site and my own palate and created a homebrewed milk stout that has been roundly adored by friends and family, and kicked major tail in competitions.
Stone Coffee Milk Stout

Thus, the news that Stone Brewing, a company whose beer I generally find faultless, was going to brew a milk stout got me excited. The fact that they were going to add coffee—another thing I love—to the mix made me even more so. I saw it at the grocery store this afternoon, and immediately knew it was coming home.

Milk Stout is so named because it is typically sweetened with lactose (milk sugar). Take note, lactose-intolerant folks, this style is not for you. Lactose is unfermentable by saccharomyces cerevisiae, so the sugar adds sweetness without adding additional alcohol. The Milk Stout style, in comparison to the Dry Stout, will have a sweeter finish. Even for a beer that may have a reasonable amount of roast flavor and aroma (and the bitterness that comes with roasted malts), the sweetness should cleanse the palate for the next sip.

Now, on to my thoughts for the Stone Coffee Milk Stout:

  • Stats: 4.2% ABV, 40 IBU. Color not listed.
  • Aroma: I definitely pick up roast here. To me, the roast is definitely more prominent than the coffee in the aroma. I don’t pick up any hops in the aroma, which is appropriate for the style.
  • Appearance: Black and completely opaque. Light brown / dark tan head with great lacing. Really, though, describing the appearance of a stout is rather boring. They do pretty much all look black!*
  • Flavor: Up front, there’s a hit of roast, but it quickly subsides into coffee. While you—or at least I—cannot smell much coffee in the nose, it’s definitely strong on the tongue. I will say that the beer doesn’t finish as sweet as other milk stouts I’ve tasted. One of my criticisms of many commercial milk stouts is that they take a dry stout with relatively weak roast character and just add lactose. My own recipes tend to be big on the roast and correspondingly big on the lactose. This beer seems a bit big on the roast and coffee, with JUST enough sweetness to cover the bitterness of the roasted malt, the coffee, and the hops, but not a dominant perception of sweetness.

    Of course, all of this is in character for Stone. They tend towards big flavor, and most of their beers don’t shy away from bitterness, and finish fairly dry. This seems to me to fit into their general palate profile. And this beer clocks in at 40 IBU [International Bitterness Unit], which is the top of the scale for a beer that falls into the bottom of the scale for ABV.

  • Mouthfeel: Again, I expect most milk stouts to be pretty full-bodied. This is much closer to medium body, with a slightly more dry finish than I would typically expect from the style.
  • Overall Impression: Honestly, this is a delicious beer. I’m really enjoying it. It’s not entirely what I was expecting, though. In fact, if you didn’t tell me there was lactose in this beer, I’d have a difficult time picking it out. The bias towards bitterness, the medium body and the dry finish, all just say “coffee stout” to me. But the simple fact is that I like bitterness, I like dry finishes, and I generally enjoy light to medium body beers. So while it is delicious, it’s not necessarily something I’d recommend as a pure example of the style.

All that said, I highly recommend you buy this beer. It truly is delicious.
» Read more

Brad’s Beer Review Sucks This Week

Well, today really sucked. Not going into the how or the why (nor is it something to be concerned about), but it did. Luckily, however, I was out Thursday night and bought two 1L bottles of Lagunitas Sucks. After some Sucks, I care less about the sucky day.
Lagunitas Sucks
Now, many people would wonder why a brewer named Lagunitas would release a beer called “Lagunitas Sucks”. Several years ago, they realized that they couldn’t brew one of their popular seasonal beers, Brown Shugga. They needed a replacement. And they knew their fans would be highly disappointed, so they defused the fan ire by naming their beer Sucks.

That said, the name doesn’t fit. This beer is phenomenal. I don’t usually use terms like “best” when I talk about beer, especially in a category where I enjoy beers so phenomenally as IPA, but this is IMHO the best IPA on the market right now. I say that as someone who drinks West Coast IPAs like southerners drink sweet tea. This is my favorite at the moment. If you have access to it (and with Lagunitas’ increasing distribution footprint across the country, you should), I highly recommend picking it up.

Anyway, on to the stats:

Aroma: You get some citrus in there… Some dank. Some pine/grass. It’s complex and layered. No single hop dominates the aroma yet it doesn’t give one the thought that it’s muddled.

Appearance: Pale/gold, brilliant clarity, bright white head. As a brewer, I’m envious of this clarity. I realize I’ll probably have to start filtering to achieve it (especially with all those hops), but it’s just beautiful.

Flavor: This is a West Coast IPA. It’s hop-forward. It’s supposed to be hop-forward. If tastes #1, #2, and #3 weren’t hops, I’d be disappointed in Lagunitas. But #4 must be malt. Oh yes, it must be malt. This beer has just enough malt backbone and sweetness to stand up to the hops. But not too much. This is a delicate balance. There’s a *slight* alcohol warmth in this one.

Mouthfeel: Medium body. Neither watery or heavy. Perfect for the balance with all the hops and the relatively high ABV of this beer. Again, and perhaps this fits into the theme of “best IPA on the market”, but the mouthfeel is just right for the beer.

Overall Impression: What else can I say? Maybe just this… If you see it, buy a LOT of it. It’s a seasonal beer, and when it leaves the shelves, you’re going to miss it. Of course, it is an IPA, and IPAs should be drunk fresh, so when you buy it, drink it quickly. IPAs fade quickly and that perfect balance I describe won’t be perfect in 6-8 weeks.

Prost!

Brad’s Beer Review: Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Urbock

This week, I decided to pick up a bottle of a beer that I’ve wanted to try for a long time and just never quite gotten around to buying. The Schlenkerla Rauchbier.
Rauchbier
Rauchbier is a somewhat little-known style in the US. Using malts dried over open hardwood flames rather than in a kiln, the malts pick up the smoke just like your favorite ribs. A couple hundred years ago, it’s likely that almost all beer had some level of smoke. Today, it’s the exception, rather than the rule.

It’s not that uncommon for some beers to use a bit of smoke. Alaskan Brewing Company is known primarily for their smoked porter, in fact [which is excellent]… The more traditional German Rauchbier, however, is its own style. In this case, the Rauchbier Urbock will be darker and stronger than the usual Rauchbier, as it’s a smoked bock.

On to the fun stuff!

Aroma: Smoky? Yes, it’s smoky. A typical German lager usually doesn’t have a strong natural aroma, so the smoke dominates this like hop aroma dominates an IPA. If this were a homebrew, I’d wonder what flaws that smoke was hiding, but in a beer of this pedigree, I don’t think I’ll find any. Smoke here is prominant, but not overdone.

Appearance: Pours a deep brown, off-white head. Too dark to determine if it’s clear.

Flavor: Clearly, the smoke comes through again here. Smoke is a prominent flavor in this beer. When the beer was first poured (from my admittedly too-cold fridge), the smoke was more dominant, but as the beer warms, a bit of grainy sweetness comes through underneath the smoke. With that warmth, the malt develops into a nice flavor backbone offsetting the smoke.

Mouthfeel: Smoked malt in a beer has a very similar quality to oaking a beer — it has a very distinct mouthfeel. It’s quite difficult to describe. There’s a part of me that wants to call it astringent, and yet another part that wants to call it oily. It’s like it’s puckering and coating the tongue all at once. It’s neither of those, but maybe that gives you an idea of what’s going on. Beyond that, the beer is full-bodied, as a German bock should be.

Overall Impression: This is a very good beer. The smoke melds well with the flavors as a bock, and it comes together in a very well-crafted total package. After I got my “review tastes” out of the way, I paired it with pepperoni pizza and its strong flavors stood up to the pizza without overshadowing the pizza.

Highly recommended.

Can Florida Ban Beer Growlers?

Damon Root, at Reason, on Florida’s ban on 64-oz beer growlers. The law is being challenged by a retail company called The Crafted Keg, which is a “growler bar*”.

To survive judicial review under existing Supreme Court precedent, economic regulations such as Florida’s growler ban must pass what’s known as the rational-basis test. In effect, this test tells the courts that they may strike down a contested law only if it lacks any conceivable connection to a legitimate government interest.
Green Flash Growler of 30th St. Pale Ale
To be sure, that is a highly deferential approach to government regulation. But the Florida growler ban is so moronic it fails to satisfy even the generous terms of the rational-basis test.

After all, what possible legitimate state interest could this ban serve? It certainly cannot be part of some regulatory scheme designed to limit beer consumption and thereby curb public intoxication or drunk driving. That sort of scheme would only be rational if the state also banned six packs, kegs, and other large-size offerings. The fact that customers may purchase 72-ounces of beer via six pack but not a 64-ounce growler of the same beer highlights the fundamental irrationality of this preposterous regulation.

When I was at Purdue, there was a ban on kegs in fraternity houses out of concern that the end of the night might result in a “finish off the keg” mentality and lead to excessive drinking. This is due to the typical hand-pump tap used to maintain pressure, which severely oxidizes the beer and causes it to go stale extremely quickly. Often a beer would taste terrible by the next night when using a hand pump. (This is not an issue on keg systems dispensed with CO2 or “beer gas”.) Instead, without kegs, we were forced to drink excessively via other means.

One can make an argument that a growler suffers the same issue. Growlers are really meant to be single-serving containers, or at most maybe split over two nights. The beer will go stale quickly if allowed to sit. Growlers aren’t filled with the same care to minimize oxidation as bottles or cans, and many growlers have trouble maintaining CO2 over more than a few days due to poor seals. Thus, you often drink a growler as quickly after purchasing it as you can to avoid it going stale or flat.

In addition, many growlers are “special release” beers, often higher in alcohol than typical. I often don’t like growlers for this exact reason. My wife doesn’t drink beer, and I tend to have trouble putting away 64 ounces of 8%+ double IPA in an evening on my own and getting up at the crack of dawn to feed children the next morning. For that reason, I actually love the 32-ounce growler as a format. It’s quite uncommon in the industry, however.

Six packs don’t have these issues. 22-oz bombers don’t have these issues. And kegs are clearly not intended for a single-serving. They’re either purchased for groups (using a hand pump tap) or for personal kegerators using CO2.

One 12-oz bottle from a 72-oz six pack won’t get you drunk, and the other 5 bottles can be easily stored for weeks or months. Drinking an entire 64 oz growler will get you drunk. And with the difficulty in storing a growler at all — much less a growler that’s already had a pint or two poured out of it, make it highly likely that it will be consumed in a single sitting.

Thus, while I don’t agree with the growler ban, I can see it passing a rational basis test.

» Read more

1 2 3