Saturday, March 31, 2007

Re-visiting a local friend...

Ipswich Oatmeal Stout is on of my favorite local beers. I haven't had it in a while, but I picked up one of their mixed 12 packs a few weeks ago. You really can't go wrong with any beer in the bunch, the IPA and Dark Ale are very good and the Oatmeal Stout and Ale are exceptional.

This beer pours a rich black with a solid dark tan head that slowly dissipates. It starts with coffee and fresh chocolate chip oatmeal cookie aromas with touches of citrusy hops. The first sip brings roasted nuts, rolled oats, espresso and dark chocolate flavors, but it doesn't end there, the hearty malt flavors are balanced by a subtle hop finish that lingers on the edges of the tongue and the back of the throat. This is an exceptionally fresh tasting beer that can hold its own with any stout and is right up there with the best oatmeal stouts I have tasted. The beer is full-bodied with light carbonation--it is somewhat dry at finish, but exceptionally drinkable at the same time. Citrusy hops and mocha flavors battle it out with each sip. The complex flavors collect at the back of the tongue and throat and linger--I think the coffee flavors win out in the end, but the hops still hold their own in a complex, delicate, balancing act. This is a beer to be revisited again and again. I give it a 4.6 out of 5.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Here's to beer, I mean Budweiser...

I just spent about 5 minutes on the Here's to Beer site (notice no link). I discovered the site in an add on the back cover of the March issue of BeerAdvocate Magazine. Upon first glance of the ad, I had a sinking suspicion that the site was created by one of the all powerful macro breweries. After a little investigating, it turns out that Here's to Beer, Washington, D.C. is none other than my dear friends Anheuser Busch, St. Louis, Missouri. Of course they don't want us to know who they really are, how sneaky.

My first thought was why are the guys at BeerAdvocate throwing this on the back of their magazine. Before I go on, I have to say that I love what Jason and Todd at BeerAdvocate have done for the beer drinking community--their festivals are great and their site is amazing. I realize that they have to pay the bills just like the rest of us, but Anheuser, not A-B, please.

I have received one issue of the magazine and this ad combined with a review of an A-B product was a disappointing discovery. However, I sought out a few previous issues, it looks like they have rated quite a few A-B products in their nascent venture into print. I counted three in just one issue.

The Here's to Beer site features three really dumb videos and a few links about the brewing process, but my most disappointing find was a big time link to Ok, so it is official, they are in bed together.

I have never officially met Jason and Todd, but the one thing I can say is that they know good beer. So why do they rate Budweiser 3.65 and 3.7 respectively. I am not even sure how to respond to those ratings...disgust, disdain. I have always seen BeerAdvocate as a haven for beer geeks, has our base been infiltrated by The Man.

Friday, March 23, 2007

The Ultimate Annoying Pop-up Ad...

It is bad enough that Coors Light infiltrates just about every sporting event on television (especially now that baseball season is approaching), but how about having a Silver Bullet train stream across your computer screen every day at 4:53pm. The company is trying a brilliant new ad campaign on websites popular with men in the 18-34 bracket. Thankfully I moved out of that bracket last year and I am generally not surfing the web just before 5pm.

Think about it though, getting a perfectly targeted email 7 minutes before quittin' time. Now if I could only get the monks at Chimay or Westmalle to run an add across my museum's website page and the campaign would work for me.

Read the whole article

Monday, March 19, 2007

Olive the Smuttynose "Old Brown Dog"

I am deeply saddened to share that Olive, the "Old Brown Dog" featured on the Smuttynose label died on March 15th, just a few days short of her 16th birthday. My sympathies to her parents and her family at the brewery, she was such a beautiful dog. The shot on the label is stunning (one of my favorite labels). Any of you who know me realize that dogs are one of the few things that I love more than beer. The brewery has created a fitting tribute to her at

My thanks for Lew Bryson at Seen Through a Glass for sharing the sad news.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Visiting an old friend...

I try a lot of new beers each year. The first thing I do at a bar or a package store (New England lingo for beer store) is to check to see if they have anything that I have not tried in the past. As I have mentioned in other posts, this can sometimes be hit or miss. However, since I try so many new beers I often neglect some of my all time favorites.

Tonight I visited an old friend, Ayinger Celebrator Doppelbock. I first tried this beer when I was 17--it was the first truly great beer I had ever tasted. It is a phenomenal beer and in my opinion the best Double Bock beer in the world. It pours to a rich dark brown/mahogany color and has an amazing sweet chocolate and bready malt aroma. This beer is 6.7% abv, but ridiculously smooth and drinkable, with a buttery, toffee flavor at finish. Hints of molasses and roasted nuts are balanced by a nice bitter hop tingle. Although $2.99 per bottle may seem expensive, it is worth every penny. I have to remind myself to buy this beer more often--it is always a good idea to go back to those old standards, especially the ones that set the mark for the style.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Price points and common cents (sense)...

Don't get nervous, this isn't an SAT question: If a 30 pack of Budweiser, Coors Light, or Miller Lite costs around $20 and a 24 bottle case of Ipswich Ale or for you non-locals (any good microbrew) costs about $22, then what the hell are the jackasses that buy those 30 packs thinking. That's 67 cents for a Bud in a can and 92 cents for an excellent hand crafted beer in a bottle. For starters, I think all beer drinkers can agree, the bottle is always better, unless you still crush cans on your head and in that case I am thinking you probably can't read this.

Let me phrase it another way. If a 10 oz serving of ground frozen hamburger was $5 and a juicy t-bone steak was $7 which one would you choose. Ok, so if you are reading this blog, I am probably preaching to the choir. So why is it that Budweiser and Bud Light are the two best selling beers in America and Miller Lite and Coors Light are 3rd and 4th. The stuff really isn't a value and it certainly doesn't taste very good. It is it the advertising or is it some kind of macho peer pressure--are you supposed to drink Bud because it is an All-American working man's beer or will Coors Light keep you looking like the bikini clad women in the commercials. Perhaps it is a combo of both the marketing and the fact that old habits are hard to break. Do your part, help someone break that habit and teach them a little bit of common cents.

Friday, March 2, 2007

1st Beer Blogger Friday...

Today is the first Beer Blogger Friday--a day when beer bloggers from around the world unite! In honor of St. Patrick's Day, we will be reviewing stouts. The only rule is that it cannot be "your father's Irish stout." My thanks to Stan at Appellation Beer for setting up the event. It looks like Al over at A Good Beer Blog will be hosting the next event.

I decided to review one of my all time favorite seasonal beers, Brooklyn Black Chocolate Imperial Stout 2006-07. Simply put, this stuff is amazing. As with many seasonal brews, the recipe for this beer changes each year and I have to say that Garrett Oliver has really outdone himself this time.

Weighing in at a whopping 10.6% abv, this beer is certainly unrelated to any of the beers my father drinks. Despite the high alcohol, I find this beer exceptionally, almost dangerously drinkable. It pours a rich black tar color with a decent tan head with lots of Belgian lace. Ok, check, this beer looks incredibly appetizing.

Upon pouring, the beer fills the nose with a sweet blend of dark chocolate, mocha, and cocoa aromas. It smells like a great dessert and it very well could be the perfect after dinner winter brew. This beer has a slightly syrupy mouthfeel, but surprisingly finishes a bit dry. Did I mention it was drinkable...holy crap, it goes down way to smoothly, but it carries a comforting warming sensation in the back of the throat.

A wide range of chocolate, cocoa and espresso flavors bounce around the palate with each sip. I have paired this beer with tiramisu, dark Belgian chocolate, and with a Richardson's Dairy Brickle Pie on my 35th birthday (for non-Boston locals, this is a dairy in Middleton, MA that makes all their incredibly rich ice cream on premises with their hormone free cows). Among other things, the pie has a coffee ice cream base and complemented the beer well. I often have this beer as a dessert in itself. This is the last beer I serve in my beer appreciation courses this year.

My advice, light a nice fire, grab a good book and sit back with a couple of these and relax cold winter's night away.