Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Downtown Wine and Spirits...

For those of you in the Boston area, check out Downtown Wine and Spirits' new website and blog. Better yet, visit them the next time you are in Davis Square. It is a somewhat small and unassuming store, but they have a great selection and the prices are decent. I have found a number of Belgians there that I could not find elsewhere in the Boston area and they generally have a good selection of Ale Smith beers.

I teach at Tufts in the fall (museum course, not beer) and I make regular stops there after BBQ at Redbones or a burrito at Anna's.

They bailed me out last year for my course at Wellesley College. I needed a few extra bottles of Anchor Christmas Ale and I think they had the last six pack in the greater Boston area.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The Battle of the Home Brews...

On July 4th my brother Tom and his friend Phil stopped by for a couple of cold malted beverages and some BBQ. Both had home brews in hand and wanted me to give them a try...let's call this the battle of the knuckleheads.

I could tell you many stories to support this name. They would include catapults, geese, their role as altar boys, Mark Messier, a bar called Rasputin's, and a side kick named Opie...the list goes on and on, just trust me on this one. They both minored in drinking at St. Michael's College in Winooski, VT...actually I think Tom may have double-majored in it (explaining that 5th year he opted for).

They both recently delved into the world of home brewing and were quite proud to give me a couple of samples of their latest efforts. Tom and his crew cooked up an Octoberfest a few months ago and Phil and friends brewed a Pale Ale.

It is actually really cool seeing these two home brewing. I don't brew often enough, but I truly believe that doing so gives you a greater appreciation for all of the great craft brewers out there and you gotta love the satisfaction of trying those first couple of sips of your own concoction and thinking "shit, that tastes pretty damn good."

Just a few hours ago I cracked both beers and gave them a side-by-side rating. As many of you know, I rate my beers between 0.0 and 5.0. I think I have had a couple of 0.2s as the worst ("Mr. Dorfman, fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life son. ") and there have only been three 5.0s. At this point I have tried a little over 1,800 beers and to give you a reference point for the rankings, Miller High Life is about a 2.0, Yuengling's Lager is a 3.0, Bass Ale is a 4.2, and WestvleterenTrappistenbier - Abbey St. Sixtus 12 is the best beer I have ever tasted.

So let's get to the beers...
Tom's submission was brewed by the Worthog Brewing Club and was called Molstoberfest (the beer on the right). It pours a dark unfiltered copper color with an 1.5 inch thick head. It has a nice smell, including sweet caramel and crusty bread aromas with the slightest touch of citrus hops. This beer is medium bodied with an immediate malt sweetness with the first sip. It really is super smooth and drinkable and has a great refreshing carbonation. This is a very good session beer, you could drink quite a few of them...something Tom is known to do from time to time. I am going to guess it is about 6% abv. While the malt profile has the right sweetness, the use of extracts makes it just a touch thin at finish. This is a really nice Octoberfest...I am impressed so far. I give this a solid 3.6.

Phil's beer was created by his Six Finger Brew Club. It could have also been called Nine Finger Brew Club after a recent incident with a glass carboy. They put together a Pale Ale. I can safely say that this is the first beer I have tried that was made in my hometown of Chelsea, MA.

It pours an unfiltered copper color...which is a bit darker than usual for the style. This beer has good Belgian lace. It has a mild citrusy hop aroma with a touch of caramel sweetness. It is very fresh and certainly an American style pale ale. Hops linger on the back of the throat and tingle the gums a bit. I would prefer a bit more carbonation, but it is definitely thirst quenching. I like the hop profile on this is a nice combination of flavors including orange zest with herbal and floral notes. I could drink a few of these too...something Phil has in common with my brother Tom. Again, another solid offering, I give it a 3.5.

Overall both beers were very good and I was quite impressed with both efforts. Keep the free beer coming and I will continue to rate it. I have always said that my favorite beer is free beer.