May 2008

Monthly Archive

“Fifteen” (Avery Anniversary Ale)

Posted by on 29 May 2008 | Tagged as: Beer Reviews

image “Ale brewed with spices, herbs, and figs.” Figs? What?

Also from the label: “A refreshingly tart, fruity, funky farmhouse ale brewed with black mission figs, hibiscus flowers and white pepper.”

After reading that, I can only think it’s going to be outrageously good, or a complete disaster. And being that I was totally disappointed by the last Avery brew I sampled, my hopes for this one are shaky at best.

The top is already popped (I goofed and popped it even before I took the picture) but I haven’t given it a sniff yet. As I do, I smell the white pepper. If nothing else, this would make some really good steak marinade.

Well, here goes nothing.

I raise it to my lips, tip the bottom of the big brown bottle upwards. Foaming liquid gurgles into my beer hole.

Immediate first impression: it’s a disaster. Not much actual beer flavor reaches my palate — instead it’s a cacophony that is mainly overshadowed by the pepper, but as it lingers on my tongue I pick up the residual mix flavors that, unfortunately, begins to remind me of vomit.

I really hesitate to put more of this stuff into my mouth.

Bravely I take another swig, and — alas — am even more reminded of the taste of barf. This stuff is nasty, pukey, and disgusting.

Five perfectly awful swigs later I give up.

I dump it into the toilet where it belongs. And pray that it doesn’t make the toilet hurl.

NOT GROOVY. Not at all.

Theakston Old Peculier

Posted by on 22 May 2008 | Tagged as: Beer Reviews

imageThis comes from an English brewery that’s been in operation since 1827. I have no idea what “peculier” means … when I picked it up at Kegs And Barrels (my local beer heaven) I thought it said peculiar.

As in odd. Non-conforming. Rogue.

Something which I could stand behind.

But here, now, after popping the top, I smell a brew that is saccharine sweet and hints of dark roasted malts. Nothing really peculiar about it at all. Strangely enough, I’m disappointed.

Let’s see if that disappointment carries into the flavor. Raising it to my lips, I take a nice long sip.

It gurgles into my moth. There is no gulp alert sounding. Pleasant, light, the dark maltiness is subdued and fades quickly to make room for a sharp spike of hops. It’s almost a photo-flash, and then it too fades. The taste drains away and leaves only the hint of bitterness lingering on the palate, an echo of walnut maybe. Or that taste you get when you’re really drunk and you lick a piece of wood.

Come on, admit it. You’ve done that too. Right?


Moving right along…

I have to report that there is nothing peculiar about this beer at all. Nothing spectacular, either. It’s a good beer but — damn it — I have been really spoiled as of late. I find this beer uninspiring and definitely not a Holy Beer contender.

I hesitate to even call it groovy. Its simply … acceptable. I’m not going to pour it down the sink, but I’m definitely not picking it up at the store ever again.

Karma Ale

Posted by on 17 May 2008 | Tagged as: Beer Reviews

imageAvery Brewery presents bottled Karma.  Or so they say.

As it says on the bottle, "We believe in Karma. We suspect most of you do, too.  It truly is a global concept. Very simply put, ‘you get what you give.’  Inspired by this principal and the wonderful farmhouse and pale ales of Belgium, we’ve created Karma Ale, a decidedly fruity and estery ale…" etc.

What does Belgium have to do with Karma?  Is it a heavily Buddhist country?  Seriously, I have no idea.  I flew over a small corner of it a few months ago, but that’s as close as I’ve been.

Anyway.  Moving right along.  Let me pop the top off this karmic wonder and see if it makes me levitate or glow.

Sniffing, I don’t smell much.  A faint whiff of malt.  That’s about it.

Unimpressive first taste.  A kind of stronger brother to Michelob but without that Anheuser-Busch industrial tang.  Too much carbonation, a kind of muted, stale malt flavor followed by wilted hops.

Bleh.  Not impressed.  Half a bottle down and I’m still thinking this is a loser.  I’m not even picking up a hint of the fruitiness that the label promised.

Perhaps it was mislabeled?  Maybe instead of being called ‘Karma,’ it was supposed to be called Bad Karma?

Whatever.  I proclaim it to be NOT groovy and give it a little kick to the side.  I’ve got myself one last Lagunitas Gnarly Wine and I’m going to pop that baby open enjoy some real and true good karma.

That stuff does make me glow.

Old Chub Scottish Style Ale

Posted by on 15 May 2008 | Tagged as: Beer Reviews

imageIt comes in a can.  At least, I didn’t see it in a bottle.  And even without reading the label you can tell it has attitude.

If you do read the label, though, it says:  "High altitude.  High attitude.  High land.  High ya.  No rice."

Hmm.  Sounds like they’re smoking "hops" over at the Oskar Blues Brewery.  Yeah.


Let’s see how it tastes.  I pop open the can and take a sniff.  A low-key barley whiff and something that reminds me of whiskey.  Seriously.  Whiskey.

Intriguing.  Yes, so I raise it to my lips and take a sip.

It’s a pretty good beer for something that’s in a can.  Unfortunately I can taste the can, and it doesn’t help the flavor.  But can or no can, it’s buttery smooth and aggressively hoppy, supported by a nice solid malt foundation that, once again, has a hint of whiskey in the flavor.  A little on the heavy side, which I like, and definitely features a nice alcohol twang (8.0% by volume).

Groovy, but not a holy brew.  I’d be happy to drink a six pack of this on a hot summer afternoon out by the pool.

Cans, you know, don’t break.  They’re pool safe.

Extra ESB Ale

Posted by on 12 May 2008 | Tagged as: Beer Reviews, Gulp Alert!

imageSo, this bottle says this ale is "extra special."

I pop the top, take that obligatory sniff.  I smell dark malt, brown sugar, and well tuned hops.

My mouth starts watering.

Meanwhile, I’m listening to a hilarious podcast show called "We’re Mean Because You’re Stupid," and I’m torn.  I need to pause the show and take a drink, or I won’t be able to concentrate on this review.  Yet, I hesitate, because I’m totally hooked on this show.

Is that the ultimate compliment or what?  I’m hesitating drinking a beer because I’m too involved in a podcast.

"We’re Mean Because You’re Stupid" obviously rocks.

Anyway, I pause it, because otherwise the beer is going to get warm.

I take that first sip and immediately have to sound the Gulp Alert.  The sip got really long, and was no longer a sip, and I was in danger of draining the bottle in one long greedy draw.  Struggling with myself, I arm wrestled the beer away from my mouth and sat it down to at least type this one paragraph.  Even now my palate is buzzing.  I’m surprised, seriously — I didn’t think this beer would be this good.  I mean, it doesn’t look that impressive.

There you go.  A new twist on an old cliche.  Don’t judge a beer by its bottle.

It’s smooth, creamy, and has this amazing bittersweet balance that tingles your tongue.  There is a solid hoppy presence but it’s in the background, supporting the malt instead of the other way around.

This is a Holy Beer.  I bestow upon it a very respectable 7.9 on the Holy Grail scale, and hereby pronounce it to be a genuine Groovy BrewBreckenridge Brewery of Colorado, you have done yourself proud.

It is indeed an Extra Special Bitter Ale.

And now, back to the show…

Maximus India Pale Ale

Posted by on 12 May 2008 | Tagged as: Beer Reviews, Holy Beer Contenders

REVISITED: 13 Months Later, it still stands up to this original review:

It’s been a long time coming, me discovering the Lagunitas Brewing Company.

Inspired by the sudden and strong affection I felt for their Hairy Eyeball Ale, I made sure to pick up another of their beers, this time the Maximus India Pale, and again I experienced love at first sip.

Lagunitas has genuine beer mojo. Seriously. "The force is strong in this one."

I’m drinking the Maximus and am trying to quantify the pleasure. It’s difficult. It’s like fine literature metamorphosed into an ale. I usually don’t wander into BeerAdvocate territory by describing things such as "mouthfeel" — the term makes me shudder with its pretentiousness — but here, well, it’s justified. Maximus has body, silkiness, the right weight, the perfect amount of carbonation, a singing taste of hops like a lover’s embrace around the palate. The malt hits with a precise backbeat, thrumming at the proper volume. The aftertaste lingers like smoke after a beautiful fire.

Again, like the Eyeball Ale, I find myself taking a long luxurious sip and having to lean back, feeling the goodness spread through me like a warm blanket on a cold night.

I’m stopping the praise here before it gets overwhelmingly corny. But, yes, I like it that much.

This beer hits high on my Holy Grail scale, weighing in at 8.1.