Tuesday, January 8, 2008

The Swing (cap) Don't Mean a Thing...

Sadly, Grolsch, which is exclusively distributed in the US by Anheuser Busch, is in the process of being purchased by SAB Miller. You really have to read more than beer labels these days to figure out who you are paying for your beer.


Saturday, January 5, 2008

Session 11 - Dopplebocks...

For those of you new to this blog, this post is part of the monthly session series -- beer geeks from all over post on the same topic on the first Friday of each month. This week we are focusing on dopplebocks. My thanks to Brewvana for hosting this month.

I had my first dopplebock at age 17. It was really all downhill from there, my first was an Ayinger Celebrator Dopplebock -- they just don't get much better.

While in high school, I worked at a local packie. I was the guy that stocked the six pack shelves in the cooler. Sounds great, but I was also the guy that handled the filthy bottle and can returns -- I could tell you all kinds of cockroach stories. Anyway, one day while stocking the beer cooler, a bottle got caught on the case while removing the six packs and smashed on the floor. As a result, I had to put the other five survivors of this tragic event on the singles shelf. I was devastated, I didn't know much about beer at the time, but I knew the stuff was selling for $48 a case, back in 1988. This seems crazy to me now, but I distinctly remember it being the most expensive beer I had heard of at the time -- maybe it was those little plastic rams on the strings around each bottle!

Well, long story short, a...uhm..colleague at the store suggested that I try one of them. This beer was unlike anything I had tried in the past...hell, Michelob and Heineken were high end beers for a high school kid that didn't know any better. This beer will always have a sentimental place on my beer list as one of the first truly great beers I have ever tasted.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Off to the races with Speedway Stout...

Each year I try to reserve a special brew for New Year's Eve. This year I put aside a bottle of AleSmith Speedway Stout. I have been very impressed by every beer I have tried by this San Diego brewery and I was really looking forward to tasting it. This beer did not let me down.

Speedway Stout is brewed with pounds of Ryan Bros. coffee beans and weighs in at 12% abv. I should tell you all that I have never had a cup of coffee in my life, but this is the closest I will ever come. The blend of beer and coffee flavors in this beer is amazing. It has a strong coffee aroma and the first sip is like shoving a fist full of chocolate covered espresso beans in your mouth and then maybe some tiramisu.

The beer is full-bodied, creamy, exceptionally smooth on the palate, and an utter joy to drink -- I mean a truly amazing mouthfeel. I was so overwhelmed while rating this beer that I began second guessing how good it was -- as soon as I finished, I went online immediately to look at other reviews to make sure I was not overdoing it. Nope, this beer gets a resounding thumbs up from just about everyone who tries it. As I expect from all AleSmith products, this beer is complex. I noticed espresso, chocolate, caramel, citrus and licorice flavors -- and maybe even a touch of rye (or maybe that is a touch of coffee acidity). It finishes a touch dry with a pleasant warming in the back of the throat -- but you would never guess 12% abv. This is one of the biggest and certainly best beers I have ever tasted. I am in the process of hunting more down for cellaring -- if you see it, ignore the price tag and buy it -- trust me, you will not regret it.