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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Schwarz (Upland)

I enjoyed a pint of this schwarzbier on tap at a chain bar. I seem to have varied experiences when it comes to black lagers. Some lack complexity (like many lagers), and some have wonderful roasted and malty flavors.

General Thoughts
Look and Smell: This black lager had a foamy off-white head that stuck around for a little while. I could smell the roast right off.

Taste: It was roasted and bitter, then I got bitter bakers chocolate. It ended with that chocolate taste. It was almost creamy, but it was light-bodied (contradiction, I know). Not as sweet as some other schwarzbiers I've had (Polish and German). This was really tasty. I'd definitely drink it again.

From the Upland site:
Schwarzbier (black beer) originated in medieval Germany, and though Upland isn’t quite that old, we strive to bring you an authentic version of this historic beer. Our take on this ancient lager delivers hints of chocolate and coffee, courtesy of its dark malts, with a strong nose and a clean finish, striking the right balance of robust and crisp, with enough bitterness to accentuate but, not overpower, its many subtle flavors.

Don’t be fooled by Schwarz’s dark color! This beer may look ferocious, but it’s as smooth as any golden lager. Schwarz is a great beer to enjoy when the days get cold.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Negra Modelo (Group Modelo)

This mass-produced Mexican beer is one of my go-to Mexican lagers. I enjoy this brew straight from the bottle. Nothing fancy about it, other than it's shiny gold foil.

General Thoughts
Look and Smell: It's dark and smells very malty.

Taste: This is a malty lager that has light hops. More complex than most. It ends with the malt taste. Good standard to accompany a Southwest-style dinner. Malt balances spice.

From the Modelo site:
Negra Modelo, known as the "cream of beers", is a Munich-style beer offering a balanced flavor and delicate aroma of dark malt, caramel and hops. It is the top-selling dark beer in Mexico. It has a bright, dark amber color, topped by a thick creamy foam. Negra Modelo is the ideal beer to accompany any special meal or special occasion. It was first introduced in Mexico as a draft beer in 1926, thus beginning its great tradition in Mexico. 

**Apparently, brewed by Austrian immigrants.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Purple Haze (Abita)

As long as I've known about this brew, I had never tried it. I've seen it on tap a number of times, but wasn't up for the wheat (with raspberry puree). I really didn't know what it was, but was feeling up to something new: hot weather and limited taps.

General Thoughts
Look and Smell: It had a white foamy head that dissipated quickly. It was cloudy. I couldn't smell anything over the crowded bar.

Taste: The raspberry was strong. It was wheaty (expected). It had a sourness to the sweetness of it, but it was still pretty sweet for my tastes. It was very carbonated. It reminded me of a raspberry soda. I would probably never drink this again. It wasn't repulsive, but it wasn't what I look for in a beer. I could see some people really liking it though.

From the Abita site:
Purple Haze is a crisp, American style wheat beer with raspberry puree added after filtration. Therefore, you may see raspberry pulp in the beer. The raspberries provide the lager with a subtle purple coloration and haze, a fruity aroma, and a tartly sweet taste.

This beer is best served with salads or light fruit desserts, such as soufflés or chiffon cakes. Many people enjoy it with chocolate desserts. Purple Haze pairs well with certain cheeses, such as ripened Brie or any dessert made with Mascarpone. It’s also great paired with entrees prepared with fruit, especially citrus. Consider enjoying Purple Haze alone at the end of your meal as dessert.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Alpha King (Three Floyds)

This is a flagship brew of Three Floyds. I was able to get it on tap at another local bar, so I figured I'd support the locals and enjoy a good American Pale Ale whilst doing it.

General Thoughts
Look and Smell: This amber-colored ale had a white foamy head that left good, bubbly lacing as I drank it down. I could smell the earthy and sharp hops over the crowded bar.

After reading the site description, I'm thinking that sharpness to the hop scent is the citrus. 

Taste: The hops were definitely the first and main flavor of this brew. Tasty, earthy hops. The aftertaste was nice and bitter. A good standard pale ale.

From the FFF site:
3 Floyd’s flagship beer, Alpha King is a big American pale ale that pours a deep amber with a creamy head. This ale is brewed with Centennial, Cascade, and Warrior hops giving it an intense citrus aroma and a crisp hoppy finish.

Summertime (Goose Island)

For a brewery that is not among my favorites, I sure seem to keep trying. It's not that they are bad, but they aren't spectacular. With a limited on-tap selection, this Kölsch (which also isn't among my favorite types) would do. Complaining to an end, back to the notes.

General Thoughts
Look and Smell: It was yellow with a frothy white head. I could smell light hops, but it was a reach in the crowded bar I was in. It had some lacing as I drank it down.

Taste: It was sweeter than I expected. It was light. It had an acid to it. I think it was a touch of apple, but others say it's lemon. It didn't have a notably bad aftertaste. I'd probably drink it again, I just would't go out of my way for it. I'd definitely recommend it to people who like lighter beers.

From the GI site:
The color of sunshine, with a light fruity aroma and a hint of fruity acidity, Goose Island Summertime is the perfect summer session ale. A Kölsch beer brewed in the traditional German fashion, you’ll find yourself enjoying and savoring each sip of summertime as much as you do those hot summer days and cool summer nights.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Oyster Stout (Marston's)

This was another stout on tap at Three Floyds a few weeks ago.

General Thoughts
Look and Smell: It was black with a creamy, thick, off-white head. It was so firm that I could draw rings in it with my finger.

Taste: It was decent. It had a light roast. It was creamy, but still light. The aftertaste was a slightly bitter roast. It didn't have massively complex flavors, but it was drinkable. I wouldn't go out of my way for it, but I'd drink it again.

From the Marston's site:
A rich dark and exceptionally creamy stout with a fruity, floral and spicy character derived from English aroma hops – Fuggles and Goldings and a bitterness derived from roasted malts.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Packets of Food

One way to know that it's summer is when I find myself unwrapping packets of food. The type of food you are sure to find in a proper midwest festival.

I enjoy a good festival. That has been one of the new activities that I started to enjoy when I moved to the midwest. The winter goes away, and the festivals begin. We had a long winter this year, and I've been out of town, but this weekend I got back on the festival hunt.

I went to the SerbFest and opened up my little foil packets of pork and lamb. This was the real deal; they had whole pigs and lamb rotating over the fire on spits. This came with spicy sausages, kielbasa, a cabbage roll, Serbian potato salad, vinegary coleslaw, fresh baked bread, mixed veg and a cheese strudel of sorts. Luckily I had someone to share with.

Expedition (Bell's)

This stout was on tap at Three Floyds a few weeks ago. Yes I know, it's a little warm for such a Russian Imperial Stout, but I really like stouts.

General Thoughts
Look and Smell: It was black with a coffee-colored, frothy head that stuck for a while. I could smell the light roast.

Taste: This was SUPER roasted with a bitter bakers chocolate taste. It turned more roasted-chocolaty as it warmed. It was creamy, and the creaminess didn't fade in the least. I tasted some booziness; it didn't hide the ABV very well. This was quite tasty and rich. I'm not sure how long this keg was aged (maybe it was from last winter), but I'd like to get a few bottles to age for long a while.

From the Bell's site:
One of the earliest examples of the Russian Imperial Stout in the United States, Bell's Expedition Stout offers immensely complex flavors crafted specifically with vintage aging in mind, as its profile will continue to mature and develop over the years. A huge malt body is matched to a heady blend of chocolate, dark fruits, and other aromas. Intensely bitter in its early months, the flavors will slowly meld and grow in depth as the beer ages.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Cristal (Quilmes)

This bottle of Argentine lager was part of the global selection at the Ciudad Condal Cerveceria on the north end of Las Ramblas. I couldn't pass up trying one of the few on the list I'd never had. Plus, the resemblance to a last name of mine helped.

General Thoughts
Look and Smell: Yellow-ish gold. The light, white head dissipated quickly.

Taste: It's a light lager with no aftertaste. It's good for a hot day. There was a little more to it than your standard yellow-ish beers.

Brune (Leffe)

This brown abbey ale was a wonderful offering at the Ciudad Condal Cerveceria on the north end of Las Ramblas. I have had other Leffe ales, but have yet to write about one.

General Thoughts
Look and Smell: It was brown with a light bubbly head. I could smell brown sugar (caramel) and malt.

Taste: The malt flavor was very rich. I could taste the Belgian sugars cleanly through the brew, but it wasn't saccharine.

From the Leffe site:
Leffe Brown is an authentic abbey beer, brewed according to the traditional recipe of the Abbey of Leffe. Leffe Brown has a delicate taste of vanilla and clove, and the full aroma of toffee and caramel. It thanks its deep dark brown color to darkly roasted malt.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Classic Mahou (Mahou-San Miguel)

When you ask for beer in Madrid this time of year you get this lager. Most of the tapas bars and cafes have their row of tap pouring out this pils. While it's a pils, it really isn't bad at all. I had una caña to wash down my tapas or bocadillo at almost every place we stopped in Madrid.

General Thoughts
Look and Smell: Yellow-gold with little scent. It had a foamy white head that dissipated fairly quickly.

Taste: Light, refreshing, little-to-no aftertaste. You could still taste a little character. It wasn't like drinking water.

Estrella (SA Damm)

This beer was all over Barcelona. They also had one that they mixed with lemonade (some premixed) as a kind of a shandy. I'm sure I've seen in here in the states too. I got a big mug of this while waiting for food. One of the few beers in my life that I couldn't finish, and it wasn't because of the size of the mug.

General Thoughts
Look and Smell: Yellow and rice-smelling. Foamy white head. Lots of carbonation.

Taste: A pils...a bad pils. Had that rice-beer aftertaste that clung to your tongue. Made it less than refreshing.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Rubia (Naturbier)

I had many healthy gulps of my companions' wheat-ish brew while I was sitting in Plaza Santa Ana waiting for my paella at Naturbier. Enough to write about it. Some sites describe it as an unfiltered pale lager and some as a pale ale, but the menu didn't say.

General Thoughts
Look and Smell: It was a cloudy yellow-gold. It had a thick, light-cream head.

Taste: It was wheaty and thick with some bitter finishing it off. It was very good. It had enough substance to it, while still being a good summer beer.
Rubia (Right) Yummy Olives, Onions, and Pickles (Center)

Tostada Especial (Naturbier)

In a country known for their fantastic wines, leave it to me to find the only natural brewpub in Madrid. I enjoyed a couple of mugs of this malty ale while sitting in the Plaza Santa Ana eating the best paella.

General Thoughts
Look and Smell: It was a brown ale with a slight redness to it. It had a creamy, cream-colored head. It smelled very malty. It left lacing as I drank it down.

Taste: It had a malty sweetness with a light hop taste. It reminded me of a Smithwick's-type ale. Very tasty. Not too thick for a hot evening, but rich enough to satisfy my tastes.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Drink: Sangria

Generally, the idea of sangria just offends my senses. When I think of sangria, I think of watered-down, low-quality wine with artificial sweetness, and of course random fruit.

That said, on a hot day, from a trusted source, I can push those thoughts out of my mind and settle in for a sangria. I've even been known to make a "white wine sangria", which I reconcile as a summer cocktail in my mind.

On a recent trip to Spain, I threw my tourist hat on and beat the heat with sangria at almost every place I sat down. I had to try it. I'd then get a nice dry tempranillo-based Rioja if needed to balance the taste. I can say that most of them were pretty darn good. While some were watered down further with club soda, and one even had *shudder* a thick layer of sugar at the bottom, for the most part I was pleased.

At a trattoria-pizzeria, I had one of the best ones. I settled down in a sidewalk table by a crowded square. I wanted to wind down a bit before dinner, so I ordered sangria and waited. People around me were drinking beers and mojitos, so I had no indication of what was in store for me. When the waiter set my beverage in front of me, my expectations were low, the bendy straw had that effect. Drinking wine, with ice, through a bendy straw. I set that aside and took my first sip.

It was surprisingly full bodied and dry. It was so tasty, I ordered uno mas.

I shared pitchers, I had pint glasses, I even had a 1/2 liter stein of sangria (overkill if you ask me). Overall, I enjoyed my sangria adventures, with my own snobbishness aside.