Holy Beer Contenders

Archived Posts from this Category

Dogfish Head’s Midas Touch Ale

Posted by on 01 Jun 2008 | Tagged as: Beer Reviews, Holy Beer Contenders

image“Handcrafted Ancient Ale, with barley, honey, white Muscat grapes and saffron.”

Dogfish Head claims to have recreated the earliest known fermented beverage in the world, crafted from evidence found in none other than the tomb of King Midas.

This may be the Holy Beer.

I have to admit, I’m rather excited, and just a little nervous.  What if I do find the Holy Beer?  Does that mean I’m done?  This website gets shut down?


We’ll see.  I pop the top.  Take a sniff.

Oh, man, the roast barley smells wonderful.  There’s an undercurrent of saffron and just a hint of grapes.  Very interesting, and it has my mouth watering.  So, without further ado, I put the bottle to my lips and tip her back.

Okay, it’s … weird.  Like a beer/wine cocktail.   Not bad, not fantastic.  Can’t tell yet if it’s Holy.  I have to sip this nectar and ponder the meaning of life for a bit.

Halfway through the bottle, and I have this odd feeling that my breath is flammable.  It’s not that high an alcohol content, though — a respectable 9% but still, that’s not enough to flame my lips, though for some reason it feels like I could.

The tastes are subtle and delicious.  This isn’t one of those over-the-top bang-on-the-head fantastic brews, but it’s fantastic in its own quiet way.  The honey sweetness is a perfect counterpoint to the barley and saffron.  There’s a bready, biscuity undertone that is quite pleasant.

This may not be the Holy Beer, but it’s definitely a contender.  I’ll rate it a… um…

Wait.  Hold on.  Is this really a beer?  I mean, the more I sip, the more it tastes like I’m drinking Champagne.  But they’re calling it an ale.

A quandary!  I seriously don’t know what to make of it.  Indecision has cost it some points.  I hereby bestow upon it a respectable 6.7 on the Holy Grail Scale, and proclaim it to be groovy.

And now pardon me while I go look in a mirror to make sure my tongue hasn’t turned to gold.

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.

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.

Leffe Brown

Posted by on 18 Mar 2008 | Tagged as: Beer Reviews, Gulp Alert!, Holy Beer Contenders

leffegbb For a long while I had been looking forward to sampling some beer during my layover in Germany, and imagine my sadness to discover (through lack of understanding of proper time-zone math) that I arrived there at 6:00 AM Frankfurt time, and there was not a drop of beer to be had. 

At least not at the airport, and I wasn’t about to leave the airport.

So with Germany a bust, I continued on my trip, arriving here in Finland, and had dinner at a little place in Hyvinkää called Hemingway’s (yes, named after Poppa Hemingway).  After ordering some smoked salmon I asked the waitress what beers she had, and not being able to understand her very well, I just told her to bring me something "dark."

Leffe Brown is what she brought, and oh my, am I happy she did.

This Belgian monk-brewed beer has a surprisingly light body, with a toasty caramel malt flavor and a nice hoppy aftertaste.  It’s perfectly balanced and absolutely delicious.  If I had to criticize something, my only nitpick is that it might be just a touch too sweet.  But as you loyal readers know, I have a sweet tooth.

I give this a very respectable 6.7 on the Holy Grail Scale, and hereby proclaim it groovy.

Amen, brothers!

Lagunitas Lumpy Gravy

Posted by on 14 Mar 2008 | Tagged as: Beer Reviews, Gulp Alert!, Holy Beer Contenders

image Sorry to all the other breweries out there, some of which are very cool, but these guys have you beat. The GroovyBrew Ultimately Cool Brewery Award goes to Lagunitas of Petaluma, California.

Case in point, this Lumpy Gravy seasonal brew, a one time shot get-them-while-you-can beer that has been brewed to honor the 40th anniversary of one of Frank Zappa’s most incredible albums.

I pop the top of this 22 oz. bottle, sniff some warm, strong, and sweet dark malt scents, and tip it up to my lips and immediately gulp down at least 11 oz. without a breath. It took me by surprise. My lips locked around that bottle, my arm and fingers froze, and my tongue commanded the body to suck this sweet nectar down. It was anarchy. The brain was no longer in control.

Indeed, you could even put forth it was the beer that was in control.

It’s a rather hot and humid Friday night here in McKinney, Texas. I have my bedroom window open and the box fan is desperately trying to coax slightly cooler air in from outside. I’m sweating all over my tee shirt. Hard to believe that just last week it snowed not once, but twice, right here — shutting the city down.

In two days I’ll be in Frankfurt sucking down some German brew during a 4 hour layover. In fact my open suitcase is here on my bed, ready to be filled. I am not filling it, however … I’m sitting here drinking this wonderful beer.

It’s dark, sweet, very malty, with a prancing hops aftertaste that takes over about 37 seconds after the malt fades. Alcohol content is respectably high. Much like a Zappa melody, there’s not a sour note in the batch, but it is all over the place as far as experience. The taste zooms, zings, and buzzes like Frank’s guitar.

Is this beer a fitting tribute to Zappa? Hell yes. It is also a Holy Beer Contender, and as stated above, this rings the alarm for the Gulp Alert.

Thank you Lagunitas. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Avery Mephistopheles’ Stout

Posted by on 09 Mar 2008 | Tagged as: Beer Reviews, Holy Beer Contenders

The Boogieman is in this bottle!

Here’s the brew to drink when you want the excuse, “The devil made me do it!” Being that it’s 16% alcohol, you won’t really be lying. Especially if you’ve had six of them.

Officer: “Have you been drinking, son?”

Mephistopheles Drinker: “It was Satan, I tell you! Satan!”

I’m drinking this one tonight by special request. My old friend Michelle emailed me, saying, “Tried this one yesterday and wanted to suggest it: Avery Mephistopheles Stout. Really, really good!”

This girl knows her beers. I am giving it a try.

Popping the top, I give it the old sniff routine. Don’t even have to put it near my face, I can smell it from where it sits on the table. The scent of sweet dark malt drifts out, slithers around, caressing my olfactory pleasure center. A deeper whiff tells the story of strong hops buried like treasure in the darkness.

I can also smell that alcohol, giving a vodka edge to the scent.

Okay, enough sniffing. Time to raise it to my lips.

My mouth is watering in anticipation.

Okay, my initial reaction is “Wow.” That is a good sign. The taste is a multi-dimensional bomb that goes off in slow motion, the fire running through every color in the beer spectrum: Sweet, tart, hoppy, vodka-alcohol, brown malt, bitter, and more hoppiness. The initial aftertaste is a sharp bitterness that quickly fades to a dull balanced malty bitterness that lingers a long while.

Each successive sip runs through the same explosion.

Halfway through the 12 oz. bottle, I am already feeling a buzz.

Four-fifths the way through the bottle, my palate is too numb to experience the flavor bomb. It’s faded to slightly sweet, alcohol-soaked dark malt. Heck, even the bitterness is subdued.

My tongue is drunk. I daresay I’m not too far behind. I definitely wouldn’t go driving a car right now. This bottle is the equivalent of drinking four our five regular beers at the same time. If you’re talking about 3.2 beer (though, really, anyone reading this website wouldn’t be touching that crap) it’s like an entire 6-pack in one bottle.

Officer: “Son, are you sure you’ve only had one beer?”

Mephistopheles Drinker: (Vomits on Officer’s shoes)

Okay, I’ve finished the last slip. The predominate taste is sweet. It like beer candy. I give a healthy belch and feel the burn of alcohol fumes.

My god, how disgusting. Well.

The devil made me do it!

[As blasphemous as it sounds, I’m proclaiming this demon brew as a Holy Beer Contender, and rating it at a respectable 6.4 on the Holy Grail Scale.]

Samuel Adams Double Bock

Posted by on 03 Mar 2008 | Tagged as: Beer Reviews, Gulp Alert!, Holy Beer Contenders

image This beer … not only is it a Kegs & Barrels Brew of the Week, and not only do I find myself giving it an outrageously high 8.8 on the Holy Grail Scale, but I’m also having to issue a Gulp Alert on it.

This is tied as the second highest rated beer on Groovy Brew to date, right next to the Chicken Killer Barley Wine and behind the newly upgraded Lagunitas Hairy Eyeball Ale.

Apparently Samuel Adams, The Boston Beer Company, decided they wanted to come out with something that totally kicks the ass of other American beers, while still being within the price range of your average beer lover.

If you love a dark, rich, sweet, chocolaty malty nirvana of a brew, this one’s for you.  Sam Adams used Bavarian hops and four times the malt of other beers, stacking the deck with this one, giving a wham, bam, and thank you Sam taste that gives me shivers of pleasure all the way down to my toes.

I am so glad that I bought a six pack of this, instead of a single bottle.

GROOVY x 6 = 1 very happy beer lover.

Hairy Eyeball Ale

Posted by on 29 Feb 2008 | Tagged as: Beer Reviews, Gulp Alert!, Holy Beer Contenders

I am revisiting this beer with this year’s batch, and Oh My God it’s still outrageously good! So much so I’ve upgraded its score on the Holy Grail Scale to 9.

My first sip hit like a dark wave of sweet chocolaty malt, smooth as velvet, rich as gold. The flavor evoked such pleasure I was shocked.


Make no bones about it, this stuff is good. It’s fall down on your knees and praise the Lord good. It’s take a slow long slip and lean way back and feel the pleasure all the way to your toes good.

I’m going to stop there. Any more praise will be overkill.

I called the brewery, but being Saturday, no one answered. I visited the website: Lagunitas Brewing Company. I wrote fan mail and asked for interviews. My head buzzed with the need to know more, more.

On the website it reads, “Brewed in a bizarre old world tradition using only water, hops, yeast, and malted barley. No dogs are harmed in our brewing process.”

Today, Tuesday, Tony Magee from Lagunitas wrote me back. I had written: “Is there a story behind this beer? Where did “Hairy Eyeball” come from? What is in it? Who’s the genius behind this recipe?” Tony as it turns out is the genius, the author, and the warlord of the brewery. In his own words:

The Story Behind The Beer is like this… We were wanting to do what no one was doing in 1995, a January Seasonal — a special beer for when nobody was really drinking beer. We were going to call it “Eye of the Dog” but decided the folks who make ‘Eye of the Hawk’ might not think it was funny as we did so at the last minute we chickened out and thought up “Hairy Eyeball” as a sort of hang-over spoof for January … whatever … the next beer that year was then called “Eye of the Hairball” (a wheatwine) and the third seasonal would be “Hair of the Dog Ball,” but we chickened out on that too and named it Maximus instead…

The malts are the key to this recipe and they center around some careful use of Chocolate and Black Malt… I write the recipes and design/write the labels… I started the brewery back in the distant 1993… Most of all, I’m glad you dug the beer and if you are ever in Petaluma I hope you’ll stop by!

Tony also gave me permission to print the story from the bottle. Now, don’t skip this, unless you’re going to go out and buy a bottle for yourself. I loved it:

“Laying there, staring up at the ceiling, head pounding, last night was a dim recollection. How did he get home? Was he alone? Looking to the left and right, the answer was yes, maybe. His head was full of ‘rag water, bitters, and blue rum. His teeth felt like he’d been chewing aluminum and his breath smelled like a burning tractor tire. There was a wrenching knot somewhere between his liver and East St. Louis and he couldn’t be sure whether or not he’d wet himself. A yellow sine wave rang in his ears so loud it made his teeth itch and he was sure that if he touched his skin anywhere it would induce a rhythmic retching jag. Even in the face of all that, he found himself smiling at the realization that today represented the fresh breast of a new year, an undiscovered country, and also that there was still one warm, half-full, flat, redolent Hairy Eyeball on the nightstand. Yes, there is a God.”

I went back to my local beer heaven to find they only had eight left, and he said that was it. There would be no more this year. So I bought two, one for myself and one for my friend Bill. I left the rest for other people to enjoy.

This ale hit a whopping 8.2 9 on my Holy Grail scale, the highest so far.

Better go get yours before they’re all gone.

Chicken Killer Barley Wine Ale

Posted by on 20 Dec 2007 | Tagged as: Beer Reviews, Gulp Alert!, Holy Beer Contenders

With a name like “Chicken Killer” you know I’m going to be messed up by the time this bottle is empty.

Popping the top, I smell a sweet infusion of hops and barley, nice but not overpowering.

First sip turned into a first series of gulps and I struggled to stop the reptilian portion of my brain from downing the entire bottle. Yes, my friends, the Gulp Alert is being sounded on this one.

This brew is thick, smooth, sweet and oozes flavor like syrup. The alcohol is so prevalent you can taste it, giving the ale a crystalline quality that delivers the barley like a 5 star dish garnished with energized hops. A third the way through the bottle I’m already feeling a good buzz and I’m starting to sweat. I’m also getting nervous about what I’m going to write.

Alcohol-influenced writing is usually less than coherent. And here, two-thirds the way though the bottle, that is what I’m feeling. Less than coherent.

I lean far back in my squeaky red chair. I put my hands behind my head, close my eyes. The brew is almost gone. My ears are ringing and my teeth feel soft and wiggly. Reaching out I pick up the big brown bottle, take a slow sip, and savor. Ten percent alcohol, and the bottle holds 1 pint & 6 ounces.

Not only do I hereby proclaim this a Groovy Brew, and not only do I bestow upon it an amazingly high 8.8 on the Holy Grail Scale, I also vote Sante Fe Brewing Company’s Chicken Killer Barley Wine Ale as the brew most likely to also be used as rocket fuel.

Lagunitas Cappuccino Stout

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

This limited release beer is as totally over the top as you’d expect from Lagunitas Brewing Company.

Imagine going to Starbucks and ordering a beer.

This would be it. Cappuccino Stout.

I drank two of these without writing a single word. I didn’t want to be bothered. The brew demanded all my attention.

This beer is for someone who drinks black strong coffee straight up. No cream. No sugar.

This beer is for someone who has turned so jaded that everything tastes the same and has blended into a grey muck, and life has turned dim, and all pretty women look like hard plastic. It’s for someone who can’t stand to turn on a radio because the entire spectrum makes you gag. You want to smash cell phones, you want to wreck your car on purpose, you want to set fire to a bank.

This beer is for you.

It will realign your Universe, reset your brain, and help you regain your love of humanity. This beer will pull you back from the brink. This beer will help you breathe.

This beer will help you create.

This beer will give you the urge to put on big heavy boots and stomp around in the mud, laughing hysterically, and roll around on the floor with a puppy.

This beer just might save your life.

I hereby proclaim it a Groovy Brew and rate it 8.1 on the Holy Grail Scale. Get it while you can, it’s seasonal, and it’s disappearing fast.

Sisyphus 2007

Posted by on 06 Dec 2007 | Tagged as: Beer Reviews, Gulp Alert!, Holy Beer Contenders

This beer is gone.

This is a grade A prime gulp alert beer. I couldn’t help myself. I swilled this dark treasure down faster than a thirsty football goon sucks a sports drink.

Sisyphus 2007 is a Barleywine Style Ale, brewed with a dark concoction of malts and hops that causes the palate to bypass all reason and short circuit the moderation center of the brain. In scientific terms, this ale swiftly accelerates a human foot into direct and sudden collision with the gluteus maximus.

Extremely smooth, sweet, and rich, it starts with an explosion of flavor and never lets up. At the end of the bottle it leaves with a smooth, rich, and tastefully dry finish.

Not to mention an intense desire for more.

This wonderful brew is hereby bestowed the title of Groovy, and weighs in at a mighty 8.1 on the Holy Grail Scale.

Holy Beer Roundup

Posted by on 25 Nov 2007 | Tagged as: Holy Beer Contenders

As you’ve probably noticed, I’ve taken a break from reviewing. It involves a long business trip and catching a bug. While I’m home now, I’m still not well, and my sense of taste is thoroughly misaligned.

While I take this break to recuperate, I thought I should at least put up a retrospective of where I’ve traveled so far in my search for the Holy Beer.  And so, I hereby present to you a complete list of the Holy Grail Contenders, ordered by how high they scored:

  1. St. Sebastiaan Dark – 8.4
  2. Hairy Eyeball Ale – 8.2
  3. Eye of the Hawk Ale – 8.1
  4. Horn Dog Barley Wine – 8.1
  5. Maximus India Pale Ale – 8.1
  6. Ayinger Oktober Fest-Marzen – 7.7
  7. Samuel Adams Old Ale – 6.5
  8. Mackeson Triple Stout – 6.3
  9. Westmalle Tripel Trappist Ale – 6.3
  10. Saint Arnold Oktoberfest – 6.1
  11. Barbar Blonde – 6.0
  12. Full Sail Amber – 5.7
  13. Samuel Adams OctoberFest – 5.5
  14. Black Hawk Stout – 5.4
  15. Arrogant Bastard Ale – 5.3
  16. Morimoto Soba Ale – 5.2
  17. Millstream Schild Brau Amber – 5.0
  18. Old Speckled Hen – 4.8
  19. Flying Dog Dogtoberfest – 4.7
  20. Flying Dog Classic Pale Ale – 4.7
  21. Samuel Adams Hefeweizen – 4.7
  22. PranQster Belgian Style Golden Ale – 4.3
  23. Samuel Adams Boston Lager – 4.0
  24. Flensburger Weizen – 2.4

While the St. Sebastiaan Dark is listed as the top brew, my memories of the Hairy Eyeball are the strongest.

I think we’re going to have to have a rematch when the Hairy Eyeball comes back out.

I can’t wait!

Eye of the Hawk Ale

Posted by on 14 Nov 2007 | Tagged as: Beer Reviews, Gulp Alert!, Holy Beer Contenders

It’s the Eye of the Hawk.

The EYE … of the HAWK!

It can see … anything. It can see what beer you’re drinking … from 2000 feet away!

It’s the freaking eye of the freaking hawk, man!

Hide! Now!

Don’t worry about this one, I just pulled it out of my refrigerator. It may be the eye of the hawk, but it’s chilled. It’s under control.

I hope.

What exactly would an ale have to do with a hawk’s eye? What, is it supposed to make you see better? Does it give you the uncontrollable urge to pounce on field mice and eat their gizzards?

We’ll see. I’m about to pop this baby open.

On the label it says, “Rich, robust and complex, with a ton of flavor. Legendary in California since 1984, the Eye has won many medals. Brewed traditionally, it is a favorite at the Great British Beer Festival. Only the finest premium malts and whole hops are used. Let your spirit soar.”

Raising the bottle to my nose, I take that first sniff. Well, it does smell good! Rich malt and snappy hops, to be sure. But how does it taste? And … will it enable me to fly?

Gulp Alert! Gulp Alert!

Okay, seriously, half the bottle disappeared just then. I typed, then had to delete, an expletive of surprise and delight. I’m still trying to decode the taste.

It starts off tangy and a bit sweet. The malts rise like a joyous fountain, an upwelling splashing bubbling geyser of goodness. Golden and toasty, they give a wheatish, bready flavor laced with walnut or maybe pecan. It goes down silky smooth and finishes like a happy song, leaving you wanting more.

I am not flying. I can’t see any better. I have no desire to pounce on any mice and carry it off in my talons.

But my spirit is, in fact, soaring. Eye of the Hawk is not only groovy, it’s a Holy Beer Contender. I hereby bestow upon it an 8.1 on the Holy Grail Scale.

Ayinger Oktober Fest-Marzen

Posted by on 02 Nov 2007 | Tagged as: Beer Reviews, Gulp Alert!, Holy Beer Contenders

It’s actually Halloween as I write this. I’m hiding from kids in a dark apartment, hoping they don’t come around for candy — I have none.

Boo! Hiss! Bad beer blogger. I know.

My kids are all dressed up and out in a neighborhood of big houses getting their candy fix. Me, I just want to be left alone. Just me, a beer, and a really good book.

This beer, my last Oktoberfest of the season, I actually meant to review last week. You know, so it would appear in October? Yeah. It just didn’t happen.

So anyway, it’s my beer for tonight, and I pop it open, not really expecting that much.


Oh my God it smells good! Dusky malt with butterscotch tendrils. Hops buried like zesty treasure. Wow. I haven’t sniffed a beer with this elegant a bouquet for quite some time.

I take that first sip…

Warning! Warning! Gulp Alert!

This beer is hard to sip. My taste-triggered reflex is to guzzle it down. Velvety smooth, buttery sweet, perfectly carbonated, Ayinger Oktober Fest-Marzen is the perfect beer to make you forget your troubles. It’s perfect for cuddling up with a warm blanket and a good book.

And, um, hiding from trick-or-treaters.

The taste is that of caramel malt infused in a mildly spicy breadiness, fading to zinging floral hops. It rides a tightrope balance of sweet and bitter.

Awesome. Groovy. All the way to the bottom.

I have no problem scoring this with a very high 7.7 on the Holy Grail Scale.

Samuel Adams OctoberFest

Posted by on 21 Oct 2007 | Tagged as: Beer Reviews, Holy Beer Contenders

Beer as poetry:

Deep whiff
Sweet hops and malt
Tastes like beer nirvana
Toasty malty lager flavor

If anyone can brew beer that inspires poetry it would be Samuel Adams.

If a beer does, indeed, inspire poetry, it belongs on the Holy Beer contender list.

I hereby put this one on the list, scoring a respectable 5.5 on the Holy Grail Scale.

It has a toffee bread taste stoked by a caramel malt, very easy on the tongue, and titillating anyone with a sweet tooth.

I could easily drink these one after another until I couldn’t walk anymore.

Bravo, Samuel Adams. Well done.

Saint Arnold Oktoberfest

Posted by on 15 Oct 2007 | Tagged as: Beer Reviews, Holy Beer Contenders

First things first. I want to wish my older daughter, Danielle, happy birthday! She is 21 years old today.

That has nothing to do with this beer review other than the fact that she is now of legal age to drink it. She won’t, though, because she doesn’t like beer.

Which is fine. The last thing I need is someone drinking my beer when I’m not looking. Heh.

Anyway, this beer is from my good friends over at Kegs And Barrels, which I always refer to here as “my local beer heaven.” It was specifically suggested to me and I’m glad they did.

Pop the top of this Saint Arnold Oktoberfest and you’re welcomed with a sweet citrus smell over golden roasted malt. Not much hoppiness in the scent, but when you taste it, the hops are there.

The strong citrus taste is prevalent in the flavor as well. It rides like a Harley over the highway of golden malt, with a strong hoppy breeze blowing straight from the west. It’s smooth, rich, and damn good.

Damn good. Damn. Good.

Can you tell I like this beer? I mean, I really like it. It’s a winner, and I not only proclaim it as a groovy brew but place it in the ranks of a Holy Beer contender, weighing in at 6.1 on the Holy Grail Scale.

Mackeson Triple Stout

Posted by on 30 Sep 2007 | Tagged as: Beer Reviews, Holy Beer Contenders

This is the “Original and Genuine Triple Stout” according to the Mackeson label. My love bought it for me to try.

I should pause here for a moment to say how much I love my woman. She is like no other. She is my sunshine. She is my everything. She buys me beer and coffee to try.

She is also my editor. In fact, that’s how I met her. But, we’re drifting off the subject…

So, I have this Mackeson bottle, which looks familiar, but I don’t remember if I’ve had it before. So I pop the top and take a whiff.

Immediately I know I’m going to like it. I smell chocolate and coffee mixed in with the dark roasted malts. My love has picked me a winner.

Did I mention how much I love her?

I really, really, really love her, and not just because she buys me beer.

So I raise this bottle to my lips and take that first luxurious swig, and … it tastes familiar. Very familiar. It tastes almost exactly like Left Hand Milk Stout, which I love, but with extra chocolate and coffee. It’s sweet, full bodied and over-the-top flavorful. The aftertaste is like creamy coffee.

Now, I know not everyone has the same tastes. If you’re a beer purist you may not like these chocolate coffee beers. In fact when I was Googling for background information, I found one guy on About.com who proclaimed this beer to be “Worse than amateur porn.”

I couldn’t agree less. But then again, um, I’m not really sure about the porn reference. Me, I’m looking for the Holy Beer, and this one is a contender. I rate it a solid 6.3 on the Holy Grail scale.

And here’s a heartfelt thank you going out to my love.

ILU x 11

Flying Dog Dogtoberfest

Posted by on 27 Sep 2007 | Tagged as: Beer Reviews, Holy Beer Contenders

Last weekend was one of our local Oktoberfests, and I was staying in a hotel right down the street from it. But did I go to it? Did I?


I was previously engaged at one of the area’s premier Sci-Fi conventions as a guest writer, an honor I could not turn down … not even for a beer festival. So I gazed longingly at the Oktoberfest posters and consoled myself with all the free-flowing beer at the after-hour room parties … Sci-Fi fans really know how to party … and I had a total blast.

Then I get home and what do I find in the mail? A big cardboard box full of packing peanuts, and inside that box, amid all the packing, was a single bottle of beer.

My friends from Flying Dog had sent me (and apparently every other beer blogger on the planet) a sample of their seasonal Dogtoberfest beer. I had to laugh, and not only at the wonderfully deranged Steadman artwork on the label, but the idea of a single bottle of beer being UPS’ed around in such a big box.

So today, after a long day of arranging letters in useful patterns, I come home from work and pull this small piece of Oktoberfest out of my fridge and pop the top. Taking a sniff, I’m rewarded with the scent of sweet hops, brown malts, and a hint of butterscotch.

I already know it’s going to be good. Flying Dog has never let me down. Ever.

The first sip not a disappointment. Sweet, delicate, nutty, the hops run with the flavor, chased by the toasty malts. The two play tag to see who is more dominant, but I have to say the hops win. It finishes with a slight metallic ring, tasting like it had come from a can instead of a bottle, but it’s not unpleasant. The beer lingers sweet on the palate with just enough bitterness to tone it down.

I love this beer. It’s a groovy brew. I give it 4.7 on the Holy Grail Scale, and, I’m definitely picking up a six pack this weekend.

Flensburger Weizen

Posted by on 15 Sep 2007 | Tagged as: Beer Reviews, Holy Beer Contenders

My good friends over at my local Beer Heaven provided me with four — count them, four — bottles of Flensburger to try.

So thus starts a quadrilogy of reviews. It’s like taking a little trip to Germany.

The bottles are cute little 12 ouncers with a resealable stopper, which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense beyond a marketing standpoint. Twelve ounces is … what? Four gulps? Who’s going to take two gulps, reseal it, and put it back in the fridge?

As a general rule, I’m against a bottle holding anything less than 16 ounces … unless the beer is horrible.

But if the beer is horrible, then…

I don’t know where I’m going with this. Anyway. Moving along.

I pop the top, take that required sniff. It’s very yeasty. In fact I can’t smell anything else. At all.

Raising it to my lips, I take a swing from the thick brown glass and am rewarded with a sweet yeasty taste. It tastes like bread. Very much like bread.

Good bread.

It makes sense since this is a wheat beer. As the tasting continues the yeastiness fades, leaving the sweet bready wheat laced with light golden hops, and a very slight bitterness, well balanced, which brings this together as a impressive little package.

Emphasis on little.

The beer is already gone.

I daresay this is the best wheat beer I’ve ever tasted, and in so, I’m going to designate it a Holy Beer contender, delicious enough to make it but not enough to rate too high. I’ll give it a 2.4.

Flying Dog Classic Pale Ale

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

It’s hot outside. Steam-room hot. The birds hop around, mouths open, too weary to fly.

I get home dripping sweat. It’s time for a beer. I would go so far as to say that right now a beer is completely necessary.

I’d been saving this one for a review — so in order to drink it, I have to write this. That’s just the way it is. Even if I’m not in the freaking mood — I mean, really, it’s just too hot.

Lily Allen on my iPod, Mission tortilla chips and a bowl of blood-red salsa in front of me on the table, I pop the top of this Flying Dog Classic Pale Ale.

It better be good. I’m in a pissy mood.

Smells good. Smells, in fact, awesome. The hops are strong but darkened by an aggressive malty bouquet. To my lips I raise the bottle and tip it way back.

Not a sip. I’m going for broke.

Eyes roll back in my head. Tongue tenses into a hard knot. Mouth puckers into a kiss around the lips of glass.

It’s good. It’s damn good. The hops sing a siren’s song, voice clear with a razor’s edge. It curls like smoke into bitter ringlets and rolls around in the dark umber malt. All of this plays out behind a thin yeasty curtain that hints of bottle fermentation.

This brew does its job, either dropping my temperature or making it so I don’t notice the heat as much.

It goes great, too, with the chips and salsa. And it’s elevated my mood.

All said and done, I wish I had more. It’s a groovy brew, and a definite Holy Beer contender. I’m putting it at 4.7 on the Holy Grail Scale.

Full Sail Amber

Posted by on 13 Aug 2007 | Tagged as: Beer Reviews, Holy Beer Contenders

What made me pick up this bottle is that, on the label, it says “Independent Employee-Owned.” Underneath it states you’re buying “12 fluid ounces of ridiculously tasty original amber ale concocted by our massive brewforce of 47.”

Brewforce? Is that a real word? I guess it is, now. I like it.

As it turns out, Full Sail Brewing is a brewforce to be reckoned with, as this beer is so tasty it was gone before I had a chance to finish the first draft of this review.

Upon opening, I was greeted with a very subtle sweet malt bouquet. It was so soft and delicate that it didn’t prepare me for the strength of the taste. I expected it to be watery.

OH NO, it is NOT.

The lightly carbonated amber brew splashing across my happy tongue was strong, edgy, and malty with brown sugar notes. The malt is the pervasive feature, supported by a sturdy hoppiness that somehow manages to be very present yet beneath the toasty malt. It’s robust without being overpowering, and as I stated above, it goes down quickly. This is one of those beers you have to force yourself to not guzzle.

Full Sail Amber is Delicious with a capital “D,” and it easily made it to my list of Holy Beer contenders, weighing in a solid 5.7 on Holy Grail Scale.

Millstream Schild Brau Amber

Posted by on 07 Aug 2007 | Tagged as: Beer Reviews, Holy Beer Contenders

Being that I’m away from home on an extended assignment, I decided to take advantage of my travels and try some beers I normally wouldn’t see.

First up is this wonderful Millstream Schild Brau Amber.

With this beer, Millstream is doing something seriously right. Its light malty scent holds no warning of the avalanche of toasty chocolate malt flavor that is about to hit you. After the malt avalanche comes a light dusting of wispy hops, gentle and delightful.

Rarely have I tasted a beer in such perfect flavorful balance. It finishes warm and clean, leaving the palate begging for another.

It has a medium body and light carbonation; very drinkable.

And delicious!

It makes it easily as a Holy Beer contender, landing a solid 5.0 on the Holy Grail Scale.

St. Sebastiaan Dark

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

I opened this St. Sebastiaan Dark and set it on the kitchen counter as I fumbled with the new opener I’d just bought. The smell slithered out like a genie from the bottle and swam right up my nose from over two feet away. Rich beer, the smell said. I took a closer sniff and it punched me in the nostril.

Have you ever made bread? Know how it smells as the dough rises? That is what hit me.

I hesitated before the first sip, but my fear was unfounded. There was no overwhelming yeasty taste. In fact, I felt let down because the flavor seemed weak.

But, no, this is one of those delayed reaction taste bombs. It took a whole minute for the first sip to blossom into a full blown mushroom cloud of flavor. When it did it lit up the sky.

It’s a full symphony with every sip, running a huge gamut from beginning, to middle, to end.

Dark toasty malt gives way to a cereal fugue, replaced by a choir of hops singing, their voices starting out fruity and ending with bitters, under which the malts rise again like a dark tide, carrying the hops off with a big heavy base drum beat. If this beer were a piece of music it would be Wagner’s Flight of the Valkyries.

A quarter through the bottle it’s so good that every sip makes my eyes roll back into my head.

I have to stop writing. This beer demands that I go off, relax, and thoroughly experience it. I’ll be back when it’s done.

~ o ~ o ~

Hours later I return. I can still taste it, like the toasty warm remains of a wonderful fresh bread. I’d enjoyed it with a rainy afternoon on the veranda, the air misty and cool.

Ignore the fancy earthenware-like bottle. Ignore the price. Ignore everything but the taste. This is a Holy Beer is there ever was one and I’m going to put it way up the scale, settling in at a solid 8.4. That’s the highest to date.

I can see why — beyond marketing decoration — you’d want a stopper for this bottle. I could have easily stopped half way, putting it back in the fridge to savor later. It’s not something you want to rush, and it’s not something you want to drink while distracted. If you can’t give this beer your full attention, put it away until you can.

Black Hawk Stout

Posted by on 21 Jun 2007 | Tagged as: Beer Reviews, Holy Beer Contenders

One of a number of beers I selected pretty much at random, this one turned out to be a lucky draw.

You know when you come home after a particularly long day, and you’re bone tired, hungry, and the idea of swigging a beer rates right up there with the desire for that dream vacation? Or maybe the car you always wanted? But you’d almost trade one or the other for the beer if you could have it right then and there?

I’m glad to have had this beer in the fridge. The car and the vacation are out of my reach at the moment, but the beer… It’s in my hand.

I popped the top to an aroma of butterscotch-like maltiness.

The malts are definitely center stage in this one. Hops provide a crisp high note that rings throughout, but never comes fully onstage. There’s a sweet-bitter yin-yang to it, well balanced. The aftertaste features an essence of black licorice.

It tastes a lot like a black and tan mix. It’s yummy good.

Crafted for us beer lovers by the Mendocino Brewing Company, they originally came out with this brew in 1983. That long ago, I thought. Wow. And only now am I trying my first one?

It was worth the wait. Black Hawk Stout makes the Holy Grail scale, weighing in at a solid 5.4.

PranQster Belgian Style Golden Ale

Posted by on 11 Jun 2007 | Tagged as: Beer Reviews, Holy Beer Contenders

This one was recommended to me by the new guy over at Kegs and Barrels: “PranQster” Belgian Style Golden Ale by the North Coast Brewing Co.

Golden Ale sounds really good to me. I’m drawn to it like a magnet.

Popping the cap, I take a nice little sniff. And then another. And another.

Odd. It smells almost like a … a marinade or something. I bet it would go good on a barbequed steak. I’ll file that fact away for later.

Tipping the bottle up, I take that first swig.

Hoppy! Happy hops, too, happily hopping about my taste buds. The taste deepens, and swells, and darkens. The flavor is complex like a choreographed set of dancers who are moving in different directions but all perfectly in time. Warm golden malts dance with the hops amid fireflies on a warm summer night. There’s a sweet undercurrent that hints of brown sugar, or maybe a touch of molasses.

Two thirds the way through, the hops get wild and randy. The tone changes. There’s tribal dancing around a bonfire, and sparks are in the air. There’s an edge to the aftertaste like faint smoke from an aromatic wood.

I’m liking this brew!

Good stuff. Made the Grail Scale, coming in at a respectable 4.3. Thank you to North Coast Brewing for making such a fine Belgian style ale, and thank you New Guy at K&B for recommending it to me.

Horn Dog Barley Wine

Posted by on 08 Jun 2007 | Tagged as: Beer Reviews, Gulp Alert!, Holy Beer Contenders

Holy crap, I thought. It looked less like a beer and more like a cover to a Hunter S. Thompson novel. I’d seen these labels before but shied away from them. They were a bit dark for a beer to enjoy while relaxing. It looked like something to drink if you wanted to invite trouble.

Still, I was at my local beer heaven picking up my latest batch of beers, and this one for some reason called to me. Hours later, reaching into the fridge, I pulled it out at random.

Flying Dog Brewery‘s Horn Dog Barley Wine style ale.

Yep. Trouble.

I engaged all the locks on the front door, piled furniture in front of it, and turned off the phone. Closed the blinds. Turned up the stereo.

Popped the cap off the bottle.

Taking a sniff, the barley and malts jump out at you like something with teeth. Do not ignore me, it says. Let’s dance.

Okay, I thought. I’m game. I tipped the bottle up and took that first experimental swig.

Creamy, sweet, and smooth. It’s syrupy, like nectar. The dark, malty nectar of beer. One swig turned into two, which turned in to several, and in less than a minute I’d emptied half the bottle.

Holy crap, I thought. This brew is good!

It took concerted effort to sip. I had to pace myself. I had to actually savor it and taste it, instead of gulping it down like iced tea.

Heading to the computer, I got on the Flying Dog Brewery website. Low and behold there’s a reason for the bottle to look like a Hunter Thompson novel — Hunter was a good friend of Flying Dog owner George Stranahan, and Hunter’s artist friend Ralph Steadman does all the bottle art. The beer is genuine Gonzo Beer.

Holy crap, I thought. Why did I not know this? Why?

Meanwhile the bottle somehow emptied itself while I wasn’t looking. All gone, but it left a lightly bitter and completely delicious aftertaste, not to mention a craving for more. More. This stuff, I realized, is addictive.

It’s also a Holy Beer contender. It has to be. It hit a solid 8.1 on the Holy Grail Scale.

I waited for a while but nothing bad happened … no blood soaked carpet, no swarm of rabid bats. So I relaxed, put the furniture back, opened the windows and unlocked the door. I also took off my shirt and shoes. And pants.

And underwear.

Everything was going to be okay.

Morimoto Soba Ale

Posted by on 06 Jun 2007 | Tagged as: Beer Reviews, Holy Beer Contenders

I pop this open and take a sniff. Hops, like violins, promise a beautiful symphony. I raise it to my lips and take a long sip.

Whoa! What’s in this beer?

I’m not sure what to make of it. It tastes like … flowers, or something. Checking the bottle, I see it has an ingredient called “roasted Soba.”

Showing my ignorance here. I have no idea what that is. So it’s Hello Google, ye olde extension of the human mind. What say you, Google, oh oracle of human knowledge?

Google says… “Soba is the Japanese word for buckwheat.” Buckwheat? Okay, that’s the grain undertone I’m tasting, but where’s the strong floral notes coming from?

Read further on the label, Jerry, I tell myself. Next two ingredients listed are “Harrington” and “Metcalf.” Those are types of malts. The only other thing listed besides malts and water are “Crystal Hops” and so that must be it.

Have you ever gone out in the park and chased after a wildly flung Frisbee, and made a heroic dive only to end up with no disc but a mouth full of weeds? And discover the weeds were surprisingly tasty?

That’s what I’m getting from this beer. It’s really good and very different than what I’m used to. I’m enjoying this wild-flower hops and jumbled malt symphony. It’s all flutes, oboes, violins and bass drums, and they’re in wonderful harmony and there’s a good rhythm.

This ale is from Oregon brewery Rogue, and my hats off to them. I don’t think I’ve yet tasted an Oregon brew that I haven’t liked, and — seriously — I intend one day to move there. My love and I want a place near the sea, with enough room for some animals, and perhaps I’ll grow hops and barley of my own. In the barn I’ll set up my brewery, and we’ll have parties and read Shakespeare, and live happily ever after.

Why not? It’s a good dream. So good, in fact, that I’m going declare this ale a Holy contender, and give it a 5.2 on the Grail Scale.

Old Speckled Hen

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

As it turns out, this is a good after-rock-concert brew.

We just got back from seeing Bowling For Soup in Plano, and they were awesome and hilarious (as usual). They invited us to Taco Cabaña afterwards — the whole audience — but alas, we went home instead.

Sick kid. You know how that goes. Anyway…

I wanted to unwind after the concert so upon arriving home I reached into the fridge and pulled out a bottle at random, and as it turned out, it was “Old Speckled Hen.”

Smells really good, a very balanced blend of caramel malt and hops. First sip, the hops hit first, followed by a warm upwelling of malt, finished by more hoppy goodness. It’s very dry and complex. Not overpowering, not weak, not too bitter and not too sweet. Creamy smooth.

You’re looking at some very highly tuned and well balanced ingredients here.

A light, balanced hoppy aftertaste leaves you craving more.

The bottle states: “The complex flavor reflects skills developed across more than 280 years of independent brewing history.”

I really like it. Old Speckled Hen makes it all the way to 4.8 on my Holy Grail scale.

Westmalle Tripel Trappist Ale

Posted by on 02 May 2007 | Tagged as: Beer Reviews, Holy Beer Contenders

After being disappointed by Westmalle’s Dubbel, I wasn’t expecting much from their Tripel.

I’m happy to report that I was pleasantly surprised.

The problem I had with the Dubbel was the taste faltered and fell on its face. This Tripel did no such thing. I actually finished the bottle over twenty minutes ago and I’m still left with a pleasant singing of hops and malt, like echoes from a really good party.

The ale has a distinct walnut taste, lightly sweet with a touch of tart. The aftertaste has hints of brown sugar amidst the hops and dark malt. I like it, a lot, so much so it’s made it as a holy beer contender. I place it as a solid 6.3 on Holy Grail scale.

One of these days I am going to have to fly to Belgium and talk to some of these monks. Being that I’m writing a book about beer, and am actually running a website about it … you’d think I’d be able to write it off, right?

Sounds like a plan to me.

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.

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.

Barbar Blonde

Posted by on 20 Mar 2007 | Tagged as: Beer Reviews, Holy Beer Contenders

It’s a good thing I keep notes.

I had a four pack of this Barbar Blonde, and drank the first three recreationally. I wrote down this about the first sip: The spices hit first, quickly followed by honey, then hops. It finishes with the orange peel. Very well balanced. Solid 6.0 on the Holy Grail scale.

I distinctly remember thinking about how much I liked it, and how I’d give it a rave review. 6.0 on the scale is high praise from me.

Tonight, on bottle number four — which I saved to drink while writing the actual review — I’m not liking at all. I don’t know if it’s because of something I ate earlier or if it’s because I’m drinking this out of a glass instead of straight from the bottle. But the pictograph on the carton clearly states to drink from a glass at 40° F.

The ale has an interesting history, at least according to the packing text. “With Barbar you are going back to the beginnings of the brewers art. During centuries, the only sweetener known in Europe was honey…” It goes on to tell about it being an early version of a barley-beer, brewed with artesian well water in the south of Brussels using a secret recipe containing a harmonious mixture of yadda yadda yadda.

Damn. I just wish this one tasted as good as the other three. I don’t know. It’s weird.

Anyway, I’m ignoring tonight’s bottle, and finishing this review on a positive note. This ale went very well with Chipotle chicken fajita burritos and Jack Black’s movie Tenacious D and the Pick of Destiny. I daresay the ale enhanced the movie, not the other way around. I enjoyed both immensely.

I’m honoring my notes and leaving Barbar Blonde at 6.0 on the Holy Grail scale.

Samuel Adams Hefeweizen

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

By pure chance I’ve picked a good beer to end Samuel Adams week here at GroovyBrew.com. The Hefeweizen is still cloudy with yeast, which sounds a bit gross, but it’s not. It’s not like it’s going to give you a yeast infection. Indeed, it’s crisp and light and very hoppy, hitting you with a sweet medley like a happy jazz riff (thanks again to Grant Wood for that music simile — it really works).

Doing my homework, it’s said that Weissbier (from which Hefeweizen came) may be one of the oldest styles of beer. This puts it down as a candidate for the Holy Beer just by definition, and the taste supports it. There’s a quality to it that I find really hard to describe, some late mid-riff notes that scream for a word that unfortunately I lack. It’s a positive word, whatever it is. It’s very good.

The Hefeweizen finishes clean and leaves the mouth watering for more. And … yes fortunately enough, I have more. The second is as tasty as the first, and so I suspect would be third.

I give it a 4.7 on the Holy Grail scale.

Samuel Adams Old Ale

Posted by on 13 Mar 2007 | Tagged as: Beer Reviews, Holy Beer Contenders

Okay. Samuel Adams hasn’t disappointed yet. This, the third beer from their LongShot mix 6-pack, hits ye olde taste buds with a thick, rich wave of malty goodness that to me has a definite overtone of honey — though not overly sweet. As flavorful as the other two were, this is my favorite of the pack, and it is a tempting candidate for the Holy Beer taste for which I’m searching.

Another winner of the 2006 American Homebrew Contest, this recipe is the creation of Don Oliver who hails from my old home state of California. According to the label, he says this is a “full-bodied, heavy ale good for a winter night by the fire.” Yes indeed, it is, but I could also imagine drinking it after dinner on the back deck of a boat, or even cuddled up with my sweetheart during a good movie. The 10.6% alcohol by volume might even facilitate a romantic mood.

What is it that famous poster says? “Beer: Helping ugly people get laid since 800 A.D.” Something like that.

Yeah. Anyway, I’m finishing the first bottle right now, and by the time I down the second, I’m not going to want to be driving anywhere. This is good, strong “old” ale is best enjoyed at home.

I give it a 6.5 on the Holy Grail scale.