April 2007

Monthly Archive

211 High Gravity Steel Reserve

Posted by on 30 Apr 2007 | Tagged as: Beer Reviews

I first discovered 211 High Gravity Steel Reserve on December 21st, 2002.

I know this because I liked it so much I wrote it down.

As one of only two beers I enjoy out of a can instead of a bottle, I always buy the 24 oz. size and I only buy one at a time, lest I be tempted to drink more than one. See, this stuff is nice and strong, and I am — believe it or not — a lightweight as far as alcohol goes. Just one of these is enough to get my boat rocking, and two will push me off into that never-never land of wanting to keep drinking until I can no longer walk.

So, I limit myself.

The reason I originally picked up this can was because of the term “high gravity.” As a science fiction writer, this caught my attention. I write about high and low and zero gravity a lot. Antigravity, even. Especially antigravity. But I digress.

I’ve never regretted discovering this beer.

It bills itself as a “slow brewed” lager, and refers to “extra malted barley and select hops for extra gravity.” To me, though, it has the distinct tang of a malt liquor, specifically reminding me of a refined version of Old English 800. I can hear people gasping all the way from this side of the Internet, but, yes, I like malt liquors. At least, I’ll drink a malt liquor way before I drink something as piss-water as a plain Budweiser. I mean, I’ve been poor before. I’ve had to choose from the bottom of the barrel. That’s where I’m coming from.

211 High Gravity is surprisingly smooth and has a great blend of hops and barley, and like Tecate, the aluminum taint of the can actually enhances the flavor in a positive way.

I highly recommend this for fishing trips, and back yard barbecues especially if you’re eating something spicy.

As I said on a blog nearly five years ago, it kicks ass.

Samuel Adams Boston Lager

Posted by on 28 Apr 2007 | Tagged as: Beer Reviews, Holy Beer Contenders

It just occurred to me that at lunch today I had a regular old Boston Lager from Samuel Adams, and I had not reviewed one yet. It’s a shame! This is one of the best common beers you can get in America. It’s sweet, smooth, light yet with good body, decent hoppiness and the malt undertones really rock and roll.

It’s a good freaking beer. You can’t go wrong with it, especially as a draft. Which is what I had. At a restaurant (Bennigan’s). Which is why there’s no picture.

Why even bring it up? Because it’s a holy beer contender, ringing in at a solid 4.0 on the Holy Grail scale.

Hog Heaven Barleywine-Style Ale

Posted by on 26 Apr 2007 | Tagged as: Beer Reviews

Drunk-dialing: When you get really sloshed and then decide you NEED to call your ex-lover and express your sorrow for no longer being together.

Drunk-writing: When you’ve finished a significant quantity of barley-wine and try and write a review of it.

Both are bad ideas.

Like one of the little pink piggies on the Avery label, I’ve sprouted wings and am flying at about 42,000 feet, heading vaguely S-SW at 130 knots, landing gear only half-retracted. I don’t even remember my first taste of the stuff, other than it physically assaulted me with barley. Less a taste and more like having it hand-stuffed into your mouth by someone who’s in a hurry. The malt is present with each swig, but then takes a back seat. Not a back seat in a car, either, but the back back seat of a bus, the very last one. Filling the rest of the bus is the barley and hops, and man, they are having a party!

Why? Because of all the damn alcohol!

Barley has a boom-box thumping out some serious hip-hop, while the hops have their own boom box pumping out wild jazz-rock fusion. The bus is chaotic, and the driver is asleep. No one is steering. It doesn’t matter, because the whole thing is up at 42,000 feet with me holding on to the luggage rack with both hands, while the wind is trying to rip the feathers out of my little piggy wings.

Who needs pink elephants when you have pink piggies with wings? I mean really. The label for this stuff is perfect.

I guess this is hog heaven? Yes, I believe it is.

St. Peter’s Cream Stout

Posted by on 24 Apr 2007 | Tagged as: Beer Reviews, Gulp Alert!

You probably noticed that the bottle in the picture is empty. That’s because I couldn’t wait to drink it.

One of my friends over at my local beer heaven had suggested I try St. Peter’s Cream Stout about a year or so ago, and I loved it, and bought several more bottles. Then … I forgot about it.

Yesterday another friend there suggested it to me again, and I picked the distinctive bottle up, held it for a moment, then exclaimed, “Oh! I’ve had this before! It’s wonderful.”

This is a good beer for someone with a sweet tooth. It even smells sweet. I’d use it as a cologne, especially if I were back in college.

Tip it up to your mouth, take that first long swig. It’s ultra-smooth, goes down like water. You have to watch yourself or the bottle will be gone before you know it. Not much carbonation at all. The taste is rich and creamy but it sneaks up on you. The sweetness on your tongue is subdued, as is the bitterness, making a perfect balance. There’s a low, subsonic malt beat under high lingering hoppy notes.

If this beer were music it would be Swan Lake. It gives me visions of ballerinas in white tights dancing on their tip-toes, and an orchestra pit full of violins, cellos, and oboes.

Of course that’s probably just me.

As good as it is, it doesn’t quite make it as a holy beer contender. It’s a bit too elegant. Yet, I’m not opposed to keeping a few in the fridge for a quiet Sunday afternoon.

Anchor Bock Beer

Posted by on 21 Apr 2007 | Tagged as: Beer Reviews

Been out of town, now home on the weekend, and looking for something to chill with as I decompress. Picked up an Anchor Bock from San Francisco, a place I love. Popped the cap, took a sniff. Sweet. Almost caramel sweet.

Licking my lips, I take a swig.

Hoppy bitterness up front. Light on the tongue, light but tingly carbonation. I can taste the wheat — it gives the beer a pleasant cereal flavor. This mingles with a complex maltiness throughout the entire bottle.

I remember walking up and down the streets of San Francisco. It’s a place where you don’t need a car. They have real, true pubs there — neighborhood hangouts where you can go and spend a good portion of your income and generate a lifetime of happy memories. This is where I first tried Anchor beer, a brewery so tied in with the city that it’s literally part of San Francisco’s history.

Drinking their Bock here, now, a half-continent away … makes me a bit nostalgic.

The hop bitterness prevails, well balanced, finishing the beer so that I’m refreshed and ready for another. It’s not a holy beer but it’s a good one. But alas, I didn’t buy a six pack, just a single.

T’was a mistake!

Arrogant Bastard Ale

Posted by on 17 Apr 2007 | Tagged as: Beer Reviews, Holy Beer Contenders

“You know what’s funny,” said my 20 year old daughter, “you get to write all these reviews while you’re buzzed on the beer you’re reviewing.”

Well, yeah! Isn’t that the point?

Tonight’s beer … um, I’m going to have to start rating the labels as well as the beers. A good label will sell a beer at least once. This one sold me: Arrogant Bastard Ale. Underneath it reads “You’re not worthy.”

Maybe I’m not. Maybe I am. I will tell you this: their arrogant ale is rich and strongly hoppy. The taste of the hops romp like little demons across the top of the beer, doing wild and vulgar break dancing over the solid chocolate malt foundation.

“Demons?” you say. “Why demons?” Well, look at the label. Yes demons. Little arrogant bastard demons.

The beer itself is thick, smooth, and has a lingering bitter aftertaste … a little more bitter than I’d like, which knocks its rating down. Still, it did make the Holy Grail scale, weighing in at a respectable 5.3.

As for that label, let me quote a bit of it … it’s hilarious: “This is an aggressive beer. You probably won’t like it. It is quite doubtful that you have the taste or sophistication to be able to appreciate an ale of this quality and depth.” It goes on to slam people who drink Bud and Coors, etc. Not by name, but by implication.

Yeah, it’s definitely not for everyone, and the brewers are definitely arrogant bastards!

Me? I make no claim to taste or sophistication … well, maybe a bit … but yes I liked it. And no, I don’t like Bud or Coors.

Does that make me an arrogant bastard? Or just a buzzed writer with a publishing company, writing a crazy novel about beer and the Holy Grail?

I guess we’ll have to let history decide on that one.

San Miguel Dark

Posted by on 13 Apr 2007 | Tagged as: Beer Reviews

Ah yes! San Miguel Dark, an old friend of mine from the Philippines … t’was my favorite beer as a teen. I stopped drinking it in the 80’s because, for some reason, they started giving me a headache. I wondered if it was because it had formaldehyde in it or something.

I’m sure that isn’t the case.

AND I’m happy to say that today’s return to my childhood didn’t include a San Miguel-induced headache. It’s as good as I remember, though somewhat lighter on the tongue. First taste blossomed into dark chocolaty goodness, mildly sweet and only a faint hint of bitter. The carbonation is light, though still satisfying. It left me with a nice toasty malt aftertaste.

This beer elicits fond memories, like sitting with my old friend Don in his room, swigging away as we worked on the thousands of pages of a novel we never finished. Or sitting in the front yard of my dad’s house in lawn chairs at midnight, firing pistols in the air and screaming “Happy New Year!” at the cars that raced off down the street in terror.

Kids, don’t try that at home. And don’t drink beer until you’re of legal age. Me, I’m lucky to be alive.

Here I sit an hour after the beer. Still a good aftertaste. Still no headache.

Erdinger Hefe-Weizen Dark

Posted by on 05 Apr 2007 | Tagged as: Beer Reviews

It’s a pretty bottle. I mean, it’s just pretty. Am I right or am I right? Dark brown, black, gold and red. It’s gorgeous.

When I was a teenager I kept a collection of beer bottles, keeping one of every different beer I’ve ever had. My room was filled with them. By the time I was of actual legal drinking age, though, I finally had to get rid of them all. I mean, there was hardly room for anything else.

This bottle sorely temps me to start all over again.

Too bad the beer doesn’t taste as good as the bottle looks.

I popped it open while cooking tonight, poured some into the spaghetti sauce I was making. Took a swig, felt disappointed, then poured more into the sauce.

I found this brew rather light in body and taste for such a dark ale. Now, like in some of my other reviews, I’ve got to point out that this beer does not suck. It’s quite good, actually, but it’s not the outstanding taste the bottle promises. It’s light on the hops, and has a medium malt tone. I detected distinct citrus notes, more tart than sweet, and a pleasant coco aftertaste. Being bottle fermented it featured more fizz than I’m used to.

I don’t know. An ale should fire off rockets of flavor in the mouth, but this merely bubbled pleasantly and urged me to pour more and more of it into the pot on my stove.

Of course the sauce came out freaking wonderful.

Rogue Shakespeare Stout

Posted by on 02 Apr 2007 | Tagged as: Beer Reviews

My good fellows, and Ladies, I bring to you this day a tale of a beer.

Oregon is home to a wealth of fine microbreweries and also one of the world’s biggest Shakespearean festivals. It is only natural — nay, inevitable — that one of them shall produce a beer named after the famous bard himself.

Upon opening I took myself a whiff, and my friends, this beer even smells good. A sweet smell, telling a story of hops and yeast. It pours dark and just as the bottle advertises, gives forth a rich creamy head.

The first sip upon my lips impressed a mildly sweet earthy taste hinting of wood smoke, with prominent malty tones, followed by a nice chocolaty aftertaste.

This is a beer drinkers beer. I should go to say that this beer is very beer. Beer with a lot of r’s at the end … “Beerrrrr.” Ye old Oregon hops are strong in this brew, and it boasts a deep barley undercurrent, not to mention a strong alcoholic kick.

Yea, this is a good beer my friends. Not the Holy Beer, but really satisfying.

It goes well with IM’ing your distant girlfriend. And toward the end of the bottle I was professing such love to her, that I said I’d live without broadband Internet access if I had to, just to be with her.

We then lapsed into Shakespearian verses…

I remember little from that point.