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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Northwind (Two Brothers)

I had my first taste of this at a little winterfest of sorts that Limestone Brewing Company put on. I was comparing this Russian Imperial Stout to the Great Lakes Black Out. While both were good, this just had a little extra. When I found myself at the tap house, I went for a full snifter of it.

General Thoughts
Look and Smell: It was black with a toffee-colored ring of bubbles around the top and bubble-thin layer on top. I could smell the thick roast.

Taste: It was more bitter roast than chocolate roast. The bitterness was not too strong for my taste buds. It's sippable with the feel of a good espresso. I'd be afraid to share a glass with friends, because I might not get it back.

From the Two Brothers site:
Dark delights like this were once shipped to the imperial court of Russia. With a firm roasty maltiness balanced against a generous helping of hops, Northwind can stand up to the worst its namesake can dish out! Enjoy it by a roaring fire.

Long Haul (Two Brothers)

My January 1 was busy day, walking and Ikea-izing. I ended my day at the Two Brothers Taproom with some goat cheese and red sauce and pizza (bacon serving of the evening). This Session Ale is part of their J Series, aged in an French oak foudres. The Resistance IPA was wonderfully smooth from the aging, I had high expectations for this brew. They were met.

General Thoughts
Look and Smell: It was gold-brown with a very frothy white head. I could smell light hops (no oak).

Taste: It was light with a good hop/malt balance. I didn't write much down...I was enjoying the company...and the fooooood!

From the Two Brothers site:
Another offering from the J Series, Long Haul is aged a minimum of four weeks in our oak foudres. This incredibly drinkable ale is light in body but full of flavor. Oaky notes blend with the complex balance of malt and hops. This is a beer you can enjoy for the long haul.

Wittekerke (Bavik)

I celebrated the end of the year with this Winter White Ale poured from the tap at Beer Geeks.

General Thoughts
Look and Smell: It was a cloudy yellow with a creamy white head (little bubbles). It left light lacing. I could smell the sugars.

Taste: It was light a bit banana-y. It was really thick, yet smooth. I could definitely taste the wheat, but the smoothness made it a treat.

From the Bavik site (translated):
The taste is well rounded with a restrained spicy bitterness. The famous beer connoisseur Michel Jackson Wittekerke describes as "creamy, aromatic, with a clean, teasing, perfumy fruitiness and faintly herbal tartness".

Three Philosophers (Ommegang)

Ommegang is one of those breweries that I take for granted. I know they are good, and I know they are available. I always recommend their brews to people, but I realized that I all but stopped buying them. I had a tasty Witte the day before this, and decided to kick off my NYE at Beer Geeks with this classic quadrupel.Ale....fruity can I possibly go wrong?

General Thoughts
Look and Smell: This dark brown brew had a light and bubbly head. that left a thin ring on the top. I could smell the Belgian sugar and notable slight dark fruit.

Taste: I tasted the sugars right away and got a little hop. The sourness and Belgian yeast is what makes this so good. It's juicy and the sourness of the tart cherry made my mouth water a bit. It cut through the thick richness.

From the Ommegang site:
Cynics can't believe it, Epicures hail it a sensation, and Pythagoreans just can't add up what makes this luscious blend of rich malty ale and cherry lambic so delightful. It might be the flavor of dark chocolate and cherry cordials; it could be the way it acquires wisdom and grace in the cellar. Maybe it's a conundrum. What's your theory?

The essence of wonder is a unique and masterful blend of strong malty ale and authentic Belgian Kriek. Our philosophers deduce that this powerful marriage of cherries, roasted malts, and dark chocolate will only achieve more wisdom and coherence as it broods in the dark recesses of your cellar.

Bottom Up Wit (Revolution)

I ended my NYE-Eve pub adventures how I started it...with a wit. We wrapped it all up at a very cool, take your friends spot, Revolution Brewing Company.

General Thoughts
Look and Smell: It had that flourecent yellow-ness that Belgian-y witbier tends to have. The head was just a wisp of white bubbles.

Taste: It was wheaty, lemony, and hearty. It was good with my pretzel and wasn't bad with the smoked meats on my pizza....anything would have went well with that pizza. Not big on the wheats, but I'd recommend this to someone who was.

From the Revolution site:
Refreshing Belgian-style wheat beer spiced with coriander and orange peel. Made with organic malt and wheat.

Good way to end the night, and we still made the train back home. On the cusp of NYE proper.

Sophie (Goose Island)

Another is their attempt at a sour. I know it's a hot seller in bottles....but I like my Monk's Cafe. I like I ♥ Deesko...I could probably spend more time writing the list of sours I like than I should spend on this post. It was a typical thin sour. Better than the sahti. Nothing special. **I am spoiled by the availability of choice craft brews.**

The picture is a playful way to illustrate my feelings (with the help of a far-away friend).

Sahti (Goose Island)

After my Witte at Paddy Long's, and Fistmas and Brekle's at Sheffield's, we headed over to GI Wrigleyville to continue. I know I always complain about GI and seem to have my posts for them climbing. What can I say, the beer is okay, but the pub is worth taking people to. The notes are quick. I wasn't a huge fan, and I was enjoying the company. I liked DFH's better.

General Thoughts
Look and Smell: It was gold with a very white and very bubbly head. It smelled of fruit. It was nice to look at.

Taste: It tasted of berries and some type of earthy spice. The description says "rye".

From the menu:
Light amber color, juniper berry aromatics, juniper and spicy rye flavor, medium body.

*So Juniper Berries was the smell and taste...still not a fan. It wasn't vile. I drank it.

Brekle's (Anchor)

I don't remember seeing this brown before. The only time I might have was a very long delay and visit to the Anchor bar in SFO. Looking at the notes on the Anchor site, it looks like a new one. With no memory of it, I got this one as my first NYE-Eve pour at Sheffield's in Chicago. I'm a huge fan of Old Foghorn, their porter, and Anchor Steam. It was their brewery of the month too! This did not disappoint.

General Thoughts
Look and Smell: It was a brown with a creamy off-white head. I could smell the maltiness over the smoked meats and people around me.

Taste: It was malty and very smooth. I got the earthy grain with bitter spikes as a drank it. Very tasty. It's a good every day beer for me. It has substance to it.

From the Anchor site:
A balance of malt and hops. A blend of past and present.

Inspired by the all-malt brown ales in Anchor’s brewing archives, Brekle’s™ Brown has a coppery brown color and unusual depth of flavor with hints of citrus which makes for richness and complexity without heaviness. The classic, all-malt, single-hop brown ale.

Brewmaster Mark Carpenter's unique recipe—a tip of the hat to our first brewmaster—looks to both the past and the future. It starts with a special blend of roasted malts.

For brewing and dry hopping, a single and distinctive new American hop variety called Citra creates nuanced flavors and aromas complementing Brekle’s™ Brown’s unique maltiness.


Saturday, January 28, 2012

Witte (Ommegang)

As I'm recapping my holidays in beer (catching up on notes), this is the start of my NYE-Eve pub crawl beers. I began at Paddy Long's with this brew, fried pickle spears, and a bacon and cheese board.

I know that a witte is not your standard winter brew. Frankly, it's not something I have much anytime of the year. It's been ages since I've had this gem. So long ago that I had no notes on this brew.

General Thoughts
Look and Smell: This yellow brew had a thin white head. I could smell the wheatiness and a little citrus over all of the food and people around me.

Taste: It had a touch of lemon flavor to go with the wheat. Fresh and acid. It made it nice and crisp. I don't know why I rank this at the top of my wheat list. Maybe it's the balance. Maybe it's because it's so smooth. It's hearty without being too thick. This is one I definitely recommend to my wheat and not-so-wheat friends. It's a good beginner beer.

The love story/novel from the Ommegang site:
Ommegang Witte is our take on a Belgian-white, or Witbier. Adhering closely to traditional ingredients and flavor profiles, Witte proved its worth at the 2011 Great American Beer Fest by capturing Gold and at the 2010 & 2008 World Beer Cup by capturing Silver in its category amongst the best in the world. Initially the first Ommegang beer available on draft, Witte is now featured as the Summer Seasonal in our featured-seasonal draft rotation. Though available for year-round enjoyment in 750 ml and 12 oz bottles, summer is the ideal time to enjoy a Witte draft at your favorite warm weather, draft beer destinations.


High, white, fluffy summer clouds. A soft breeze through a citrus grove. A heavenly bite of orange chiffon cake. All of these come to your mind as you lift our pale golden wheat ale to your lips. It's so soft, so light on your tongue, you think, as the tart lemon, bitter orange, and subtle spiciness of coriander arrive to round out the intriguing delicacy of this delicious ale. You smile, knowing you have more in the fridge.

Witte is brewed with malted and unmalted wheat, barley malt, a light hops addition and spiced with sweet orange peel and coriander. Though adding a slice of citrus fruit is common while enjoying a wheat or Wiess beer, we feel that Witte's gentle spicing and slight tartness renders the fruit superfluous.

Here's to Summer...

Black Corridor (Figure 8)

The second brew I had on my quick visit to Figure 8's taproom was an Imperial Chocolate Stout. A nice way to round it off.

General Thoughts
Look and Smell: This black brew had a creamy off-white head that just wouldn't quit. It hung around through my whole experience. I smelled like creamy chocolate.

Taste: The bitterness of this beer cuts through the cream. The creaminess comes back for the aftertaste. Did I mention it was creamy? For some reason this beer brought up thoughts of roasted chestnuts. It was really silky...I know...just another way to say creamy, but no it was a silky almost oily quality. That sounds bad, but this brew was nothing but goooood. I think this is a standalone beer. It might go well with some dark chocolate desserts or raspberry chocolate goodness. But I think it's better solo.

From the F8 site:
a blend of four grains and East Kent Goldings hops yields notes of dark ripe fruits and deep meaty roastiness with a rich full body, slick / oily mouthfeel, and a lingering chocolate ganache finish.

*Ha! The description talks about oiliness! Wonder if I caught on to that from the menu....

Friday, January 27, 2012

Lost Saint (Figure 8)

We were headed out to Valparaiso for some brunch, and couldn't pass Figure 8 without stopping. They still haven't moved into their new location on the square, but I enjoy this little hideaway off the main drag. This Saison was my first pick. I was in the mood for something light and a touch sour.

General Thoughts
Look and Smell: This gold brew had a light white head. It was just a little ring around the top. I didn't note a smell to it. Must have been pretty light.

Taste: For me, I tasted apples and a grassiness to it. Maybe a floral hop smell. I got a little spice (that I couldn't place) in the aftertaste. Very good and clean. I'd definitely order this again if it was available.

From the F8 site:
also known as a farmhouse style, featuring crisp spices both in taste and nose, a traditional after work brew for the field workers in the farms of Belgium. Pairs well with a salad and red vinegarette dressing.

Komodo Dragonfly (Upland)

I enjoyed a pint of this Black IPA from the tap at the Bulldog in Whiting. While their brews were drinkable, I couldn't pass up this Upland. I had to wait for it to warm...I forgot to tell them to serve it in a non-frosted glass! (boo)

General Thoughts
Look and Smell: This black brew had a chocolate-colored head. I could smell the hops and sweet malt.

Taste: It had a roast to it from those black malts. The bitter hops cut through the creaminess of it. It ended with a bitter bite. A good Black IPA.

From the Upland site:
Komodo Dragonfly Black IPA is a well-balanced, dark, bitter, and totally unique beer experience. We brewed this IPA with a base of fresh Pilsner Malts and darkened the color with pure Black Malts, creating a clean malt character that allows the liberal hop additions to shine through. Komodo is dry hopped and aged with a pinch of lavender to add to the overall aromatic experience.

**Lavender? I'll have to try this again!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Brew Monkey (Limestone)

Okay holidays are over and my recovery from post-travel sickness is well underway. Now it's time for some serious catch up on beer notes. I have so many that I'm seriously debating putting an end to this all. For consistency's sake, I push on.

I enjoyed this Belgian Strong Ale after a fun little winterfest at Limestone Brewery in Plainfield, IL. It was served with a little cranberry soft cheese.

General Thoughts
Look and Smell: This was a medium gold with a thin bubble ring for head. I could smell the Belgian sugars and a little tartness; almost apple.

Taste: The tart broke through the creaminess of the cheese on my tongue. It really matched the cranberry well. After the cheese wore off, I tasted some maltiness to this. It wasn't too sweet, but just enough to balance it a bit. The aftertaste was nice and tart. A very good brew.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Tough Dog, Tough Brew

Bulldog Brewing Company
1409 119th Street - Whiting, IN 46394

When a new brewpub opens, especially within a 40 mile radius of where I live, I have to go check it out. A while back, I visited Bulldog Brewing Co. in Whiting, IN.

I had never been to Whiting on a non-pierogi fest night, so this was different. Downtown Whiting looked like your stereotypical Americana. Old buildings with open storefronts. Small shops with odd collections of goods. When I walked up to the Bulldog, it was no different. It's copper-colored tanks were cleanly framed by their storefront window.

When we walked in we were greeted by a friendly hostess. The whole spot was a mix of brick and wood. Classic, but modern. It wasn't too loud, but it wasn't quite late enough for the party. The dining area was very cozy, yet open. We opted to sit at the narrow bar. The whole spot was smoke-free, so I could fully enjoy the taste and smell of all that I ordered.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Odd Adventurer

Being Tani is being an odd adventurer. I find myself exploring every place I go. I'm a person that can find fun in Hutchinson, Kansas. Your standard airport is no exception. I didn't really notice it until this last trip.
In my usual style, I checked in, went through security, checked my gate for flight updates, and started my adventure through MDW. My carry-on is a light bag with a Kindle and sweater added to my standard necessities (wallet and phone). It's a personal item, not a burden.

I walk past the food and check out each of the concourses. I walk past the statues and pictures, from carpet to hard laminate. I see people on their phones and people staring aimlessly at the screen at the gate. People are looking up flight information on the hallway monitors or sitting down for a pre-flight drink. There is no use wasting the hour or so (or sometimes more with delays). No point sitting in the uncomfortable airport chairs waiting to sit in an even more uncomfortable and cramped plane. So I walk.

I had two main discoveries this trip.
  1. MDW has bottle fill-up stations by two of the water fountains. Easy for filling up your empty all the way without having to tip it awkwardly into the fountain. (Note to travelers: Always bring an empty bottle. Most airports have drinkable water. It saves you the craziness of airport price gouging too.)
  2. MDW has a hidden little area for gates A4A and A4B. The journey starts with a newspaper stand and the cleanest bathroom you'll find in the whole airport. Pictures of local landmarks are hung on the narrow corridor leading up to the gates. It's a bit of a hike, but the carpet is super padded, and it isn't crowded.  
Maybe I'm a airport adventurer to find the cleanest bathrooms. Maybe I do it for the people watching. Mostly I do it because I can't and won't sit still if I don't have to. Whenever you get to a new place, it doesn't hurt to check it out. Not only will the adventure kill time, but you may find something you'd never think you would.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Fistmas (Revolution)

I enjoyed a pour of this ale from the tap at Sheffield's. By the time I got to Revolution that night they were tapped out so I'm glad I got it when I did. I was on a bit of a pre-NYE crawl, so my notes are very quick.

General Thoughts
Look and Smell: This beer had a reddish tint to it. It had a frothy-bubbly white head. I could smell hops and ginger. It left lacing.

Taste: It was creamy, it was gingery, it was spiced. I quite enjoyed this and would have it again.

From the site:
Our Christmas ale begins a new holiday tradition. Hopped with Chinook for pine aromas and spiced with Ginger and orange peel.

White Christmas (Moylan's)

I ordered a pint of this Christmas lager from the tap at the Bulldog in Whiting, IN. A new brewpub with interesting beers in their line up. Even with that, I couldn't pass up the Moylan's.

General Thoughts
Look and Smell: This was a gold-colored lager with a thick and white bubbly head. I could smell the light spice. It left light lacing as I drank it.

Taste: The flavor had a light spice to it. It was noticeable. I could taste the malted grain. No hop flavor came out. It was a lager...with a lager aftertaste...and a lager blandness to it. But the very light spice helped. Not really what I go to when I want a winter brew. I like something heavy and complex. Still drinkable though.

The site didn't list this seasonal.

Alpha Klaus (Three Floyds)

I'm not sure if it's still possible to be wiped from the holidays, but I'll use that as my excuse. No time for full posts, but I'll leave you to enjoy my piles of beer notes.

I bought a couple of bombers of this Christmas Porter during the FFF anniversary party. My visits to the pub are almost non-existent at this point, so I'm grabbing bombers when I can. In the past I'd get the barrel-aged goodness from the tap at the pub.

General Thoughts
Look and Smell: This had a huge, frothy, dark coffee, head. It just didn't quit. It took forever to settle, and it left thick and heavy lacing behind. The bubbles on the lacing were iridescent like snow flakes. It wasn't just the pour that frothed it up.

The beer itself was black. I could smell the roasted-ness and hops. I got a slight sweetness too.

Taste: It was a creamy porter. Bitter chocolate was a main flavor to go with the roast. It was so creamy I had to break out some dark-chocolate brownies to eat with the bitter chocolate-ness. The aftertaste was all chocolate. It was like mocha chocolate milk.

From the FFF site:
Alpha Klaus is Alpha King’s festive cousin. A big American Christmas Porter brewed with English chocolate malt, Mexican sugar and of course, tons of strange American hops. Cheers! November release.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Year, New Adventures

I rang in the new year at Beer Geeks enjoying some premium brews. I ended on the flavor explosion that is Teddy Bear Kisses. I ended 2011 at a low-key spot with good friends and good conversation. No pizza though, the pizza place was closed.

It was a great end to 2011.

I'm glad for the human need to add milestones. Yes, I could start a new beginning November 15 or April 4 if I really wanted to, but there is something fresh about having a new year and the perception of new prospects. I don't make resolutions for the new year. I am living my life as I like and am continually growing and adjusting my expectations and goals. At the end of a year, we all have a forced reflection on our previous year. We analyze the shortfalls and smile about the good times. I hope we all have more smiles than scowls by the end of it.

Here's to smiles, here's to new prospects, and here's to adventure in 2012 and forever!