April 2008

Monthly Archive

Lagunitas Olde Gnarly Wine

Posted by on 29 Apr 2008 | Tagged as: Beer Reviews, Holy Beer Contenders

IMG_0789Not only is this the Kegs & Barrels brew of the week, but it’s also one I’ve been looking forward to for quite a long time. It’s already been established here on GroovyBrew that Lagunitas is the Ultimately Cool Brewery. Just about everything they produce is so over-the-top good that I start drooling the moment I see the bottle.

You can see that I am somewhat biased in this brew’s favor even before I’ve tried it. No fair? Well. Think about it. If you please someone often enough, they’ll be eager to see you again. That’s how it is between me and Lagunitas. They’ve earned the bias.

Also I happen to know they have a good stock of these over at my local beer heaven. If I like this as much as I think I will, I’ll be heading back over there tonight to stock up for the rest of the week.

On the label it reads: “The first sip is for thirst, the second one for pleasure. The third sip is for knowing, and the forth for pure madness.”

Let’s test this out.

I pop the top

I take a nice healthy sniff. I smell yeast, subdued malt, and alcohol. Nothing really jumps out at me.

First sip: I’m reeling from pleasure. It wasn’t a little sip by any measure, and it was literally confusing in its tumbling rush of different flavors. Left me feeling a little dazed, with a “What the hell just happened?” feeling.

Second sip: Sweet, rich, thick, almost syrupy in texture, so strong and smooth I can not analyze the flavors.

Third sip: Chocolaty malt so completely intermingled with the thick forest of hops that it is really hard to tell them apart. A heavy, rich flavor, bursting at the seams. Sweet coffee aftertaste.

Forth sip: Low carbonation. Silky on the tongue. I have to lean way back in my chair, close my eyes, and just enjoy it.

Okay, enough analyzing and reviewing. I just want to partake without distractions. This groovy brew is most definitely a Holy Beer Contender and I give it an outrageously high 9.1 on the Holy Grail scale.

And I am most definitely going back for more. So, my friends, if you want some, you better run, now, and get it, before I beat you to it. Especially since you can buy four of these for less than the price of one drastically inferior Rogue Old Crustacean Barleywine in it’s fancy earthenware jug.

Belhaven “Wee Heavy” Scottish Ale

Posted by on 26 Apr 2008 | Tagged as: Beer Reviews, Holy Beer Contenders

IMG_0790Come on, how can you resist a brew called "Wee Heavy?"  I just looked at the bottle and heard Scotty’s voice saying the name.

"Aye, Captain, and I might say we’re a wee heavy!"

For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, go watch some old original Star Trek episodes.  M’kay?

Moving right along.  I’ve cheated on this one, it’s already open and I have been freely imbibing.  Also — I’m already feeling it.  So I need to rush this before I lose my coherence.

Popping the top, I sniffed, snorted, and sucked on the open bottle, with no result.  This beer has no scent.  It must be too heavy, or something?


Raising it to my lips I took that first sip and almost, but not quite, had to sound the gulp alert.  This ale has a complex and busy flavor, all of it good, but I’m not sure how well balanced.

The first impression is that the beer is rather mild, then there’s a sudden surge.  A deceptively light hoppiness emerges, lasting for about 6 seconds before it is overtaken by a wonderfully aggressive wave of light brown malt, and from that crests deep, sweet notes of butterscotch.  That in turn fades to reveal another, different hoppiness, lightly bitter and hinting at citrus rind. 

All this in about 20 seconds, after which it fades almost completely, leaving you with a strong desire to do it all over again.

I’m impressed by Wee Heavy’s overall smoothness and body, and am quite pleased by the buzz it’s provided.  I like it so much, in fact, that I hereby proclaim it to be a Holy Beer Contender and rate it at a respectable 6.3 on the Holy Grail Scale.

Rogue Old Crustacean Barleywine Style Ale

Posted by on 23 Apr 2008 | Tagged as: Beer Reviews

imageThis bottle is ceramic, specially sealed to keep the carbonation in, the staleness out.  It’s heavy and much bigger than it looks in the picture.  At 750ml and 11.5% alcohol, and weighing in at about 9 pounds, you could easily use this to kill someone.

Walk into a bank, hold it up.  Shout, "I’ve got a Rogue Old Crustacean and I’m not afraid to use it!"

People scream.  They hand over money.  You use it to go buy more of this stuff.  Why?  Because at $18 a bottle you’ll need to knock off a bank to be able to afford it.

As you can see, it comes with a stopper so you can enjoy some now, enjoy some later.  I guess there’s some wimps out there who can’t handle a whole bottle at once.

Hee hee, let’s see how wimpy I turn out to be.  I have already popped the top and taken a sniff.  It smells like deep roasted barley with maple overtones.  Delicious

Raising the big, heavy ceramic bottle to my lips, I heave it back and let the liquid gold gurgle into my beer hole.

Seventeen hours later, I wake up stark naked, covered with dirt, in the bushes beside Highway 75 north of Dallas.  I have no idea how I got here.  It appears my eyebrow has been pierced.

No, seriously, this stuff is so strong it’s like getting the liquid equivalent of a ninja kick to the head.  The first rush you get is, of course, the barley and malt.  Bam!  You know that’s going to leave a bruise.  Then as that fades, it leaves you with the sparkling effervescence of those fine Oregon hops, rushing you with a wall of bitterness you have to have learned to love over time and lots of dedication.

The alcohol you can’t really taste.  Other high content brews I’ve had give you a warning through your taste buds, adding a vodka-like flavor to the mix.  This one doesn’t.  Before you taste a warning, you feel it.  You feel it like that kick to the head I was telling you about.  It catches you off guard just like waking up naked in the meridian of a major interstate freeway.  People in cars pointing at you.  Laughing.

Okay.  As I type this, I have finished the bottle, and I am feeling … drunk.  Officially drunk.  Most definitely drunk.

My dear friends I promise you I will not go driving.

I will also not proclaim this to be a Holy Beer Contender.  I will also say that, while this brew is very good, I do not think it’s worth the price.  I’ve had brews a third the price that I consider much better.

Still, I have to say it’s officially groovy.  We’ll see how I feel about it tomorrow morning.

Steamworks Lizard Head Red

Posted by on 07 Apr 2008 | Tagged as: Beer Reviews

IMG_0264 I grabbed this beer over at Kegs & Barrels, my local beer heaven, simply because it has the word “lizard” on the label. I like lizards. In fact, I even have a website about them.

Enough about the lizards though, let’s get to the beer.

I pop the top.

It’s got that hoppy red scent, alright. Hops are very predominant in this. Almost overwhelmingly so. Malt is only a distant and subdued echo buried under blankets of hops.

I wonder if that is the taste, as well? Let’s find out.

I raise the bottle to my lips.

First impression: awesome balance. Masterful, even. It’s medium-light, hoppy, but not over-the-top hoppy. It doesn’t explode hops out your nose and ears. No, it’s well balanced and reigned in by Munich crystal malts which bring a surprisingly delicate taste to something that I expected to be so wild.

But what, I wonder … what does it have to do with lizards? Specifically, lizard heads?

Please tell me that no lizards were harmed in the brewing of this beer! Unfortunately I can neither confirm or deny this, as the Steamworks website says nothing on the subject. They merely brag about how this is the second most popular amber ale at their pubs.

I proclaim this beer to be good, in fact I would even say it’s fairly groovy. It is not, however, a Holy Beer Contender, and so does not qualify for a spot on the scale.

Sorry Steamworks. Even though there’s a lizard on the label, it’s not quite groovy enough to stand out.

You best not be putting lizard heads in this beer. If you are, they will get their revenge.

Kronenbourg 1664

Posted by on 05 Apr 2008 | Tagged as: Beer Reviews


This beer jumped out at me and screamed, “Buy me! I look weird!”

It’s not the bottle, but the name. I don’t know why, but Kronenbourg 1664 sounds to me like the title of a science fiction novel.

Hmm. Maybe if I drink it, I’ll go back in time.

I pop the top, take a sniff. Not much to the scent.

The first sip is uninspired. In fact, it’s downright nasty. My first thought is that it reminds me of Michelob.

Weak, watery, slightly hoppy, with an uninspired mass-produced beer flavor, the only good thing I can really come up with for it is that at least it doesn’t have that Anheuser Bush tang of industrial poison.

Yet, it has sent me back in time. No, not to the year 1664, but back to when I was a dirt poor college student and we had to scrape pennies off the street to buy weak-ass cheapo canned beer on sale at the wino heaven. After about 5 of those desperate-enough-to-drink-anything beers they actually began to taste … well, not good, but not that bad either.

I suspect it would be the same with this. But, it’s not dirt cheap, and I’m not desperate.

So this Kronenbourg 1664 “Imported from France” “biere” can go right back to France.

I hereby proclaim this beer to be not groovy.