Saturday, June 4, 2011

The Return

I'm back!

You say it's been almost two month since an update? Maybe you thought the blog was over? Understandable. It was a few rough months for me, with plenty to drink about but no time to write about it. The hopes of giving the past few months a decent write up are long gone, so without further ado, please allow me to unceremoniously list the forty beers I've had since the last post:

Green Flash Imperial IPA
Victory Golden Monkey
Victory Prima Pils
Victory HopDevil Ale
McNeill's Maibock
Southern Tier Unearthly IPA 
Rogue Captain Sig's Northwestern Ale
Long Trail Double IPA
Smuttynose Imperial Stout
Harpoon UFO White
Green Flash Hop Head Red
Dogfish Head Indian Brown Ale
Miller High Life
Jolly Pumpkin Bam Biere
Fuller's ESB
Pretty Things Fluffy White Rabbits
High and Mighty XPA
Mayflower Spring Hop
Avery Maharaja
Flying Dog Raging Bitch
Left Hand Good Juju Ginger Ale
Dogfish Head Squall IPA
Batch 19
Smuttynose Summer Weizen Ale
Sam Adams Summer Ale
Sam Adams Brick Red Ale
Great Divide Denver Pale Ale
Magic Hat Blind Faith
Magic Hat Single Chair Ale
Grand Teton Trout Hop Black IPA
Great Divide Oak Aged Yeti Imperial Stout
Magic Hat Wacko
Ipswich Summer Ale
Green Flash & Brasserie St. Feuillien Biere De L'Amitie
Ballast Point Sculpin IPA
Miller Lite
Corona Light
Harpoon Summer Beer

And a brief recap:

The good:
-Dogfish Head Squall IPA is really awesome. No really.
-I know Batch 19 is made by Coors and therefore I should hate it, but it was head and shoulders above any other lager I've had this year. Plus, it's a pretty cool idea.
-Grand Teton Trout Hop Black IPA sets the standard for a style that's really hard to get right

The bad:
-Fuller's ESB doesn't do the name proud.
-Magic Hat Wacko proves that not all good things (beer and beets, in this case) are better together.
Miller Lite is... well, it's Miller Lite. It was also the cheapest bottle at the bar when we were out watching Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

The ugly:
-Corona Light. I thought it was skunked, but apparently that's what it's supposed to taste like.

Now I'm all caught up, and ready for the American Craft Beer Fest! Things are looking up from here.

Beers Down: 157
Beers To Go: 208

Monday, April 11, 2011

A Thousand Words

It's been a looong and stressful few weeks and my motivation to write in the blog has been more absent than the Red Sox pitching this spring (zing!). Or maybe I'm just lazy. Either way, I present to you: a picture post.

First photo up is Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA. I don't know if I've ever been happier to drink a good beer than I was to drink this one after the disaster that was the last post. The next day I had an Anchor Steam, but hadn't yet come up with the picture post cop out brilliant idea, so no photo.

Good beer, bad picture.
At Lower Depths for the second time this year, I drank Lagunitas Hairy Eyeball and Widmer Deadlift Imperial IPA. I didn't get any pictures of the beers, but I did get a picture of the Tots Supreme: tator tots with blue cheese, and caramelized onions, and a balsamic reduction. Amazing.
Not pictured: Hot dog with mac and cheese. It was not a low calorie evening.
Back home, finishing off the Butternuts mixed pack was Butternuts Moo Thunder Stout. Definitely the best canned stout I've ever had (not that there's much competition).
Next up: another craft brew in a can! I love this trend. 21st Amendment Brew Free! or Die IPA is a good beer with a great name.

Later, the a trip to the Cambridge Marriott hotel bar, where had the  typical uninspired bottled beer line-up, and... Ayinger Brau Weisse? No way.
The lemon slice was uninvited.
We spent a beautiful Sunday walking around Salem, capped off with a stop to Salem Beer Works for their Custom's House IPA. Beer Works makes pretty boring beer, and this was no exception. Meh. No picture needed. Back home, Southern Tier 2XIPA quickly became one of my new favorites.
Oh hey Aaron, and puzzle, and delicious beer.
More words next time. Maybe.

Beers Down: 117
Beers To Go: 248

Saturday, March 26, 2011


Beer is expensive. Rent is expensive. Gas is expensive. I work for a non-profit. These factors combined have started to hit my bank account pretty hard. Being three years out of college, in the midst of establishing what adults call a career, being broke all the time suddenly doesn't seem all that cute.

I decided I wouldn't spend any money on beer for a week. But the fridge was empty, so before officially enacting the No Money for Beer policy, I went to the nearest liquor store, determined to get the cheapest 30 rack on the shelves. For the not-so-low price of $15.99, my options were Busch Light, Milwaukee's Best, Natty Light, or PBR (the clear winner here). So PBR would be my drink of choice for the coming week, and I would otherwise rely on the kindness and generosity of others. The first such act of kindness came when a colleague bought me a beer for St. Patty's Day. I went with a Guinness (notes on this beer: booring), for novelty's sake.

A visit with family over the weekend meant I had a free pass at the beers in their fridge, mostly the leftovers that no one else has wanted to drink. I started with a Rolling Rock Extra Pale (notes: boooooooring) and then a MGD 64 (notes: bleeeeeccchhhhh). Easily one of the worst beers I've ever had, and with an ABV of 2.8%, I have to wonder why anyone would ever bother drinking this. Things were looking grim.

Photo also courtesy of my dad.
As if he sensed my distress, my dad came to my rescue with two big bottles of Woodstock Inn Brewery Kanc County Maple Porter and Sam Smith's Oatmeal Stout. The maple porter was smooth and not too sweet. It would have made a decent nut brown ale, but it was a lousy porter. Sam Smith's was delicious, but already on the list. Later my dad also bought me some delicious Ipswich Ale (probably out of pity after watching me struggle to drink the MGD 64).

After a week and half of my beer spending freeze, feeling pretty proud of myself and dreading coming home to yet another can of PBR, I decided I deserved something better. In a much anticipated trip to the liquor store, we picked a Butternuts variety pack, mostly because the cans looked like fun. I was excited. First up was Butternuts Snapperhead IPA. I decided to write my first formal beer review while drinking this one:

iPhone autocorrected bleh to Borg. Whatever.
So it wasn't very good. I hoped that Butternuts Heinnieweisse Weissebier would be better. It wasn't. I guess that's just the way this post was going to play out.

Average grade of the six new beers = D+. What a rough week.

Beers down: 108
Beers to go: 257

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


When the last post ended with 95 beers down, I decided that hitting beer number 100 was going to be a Big F-ing Deal (kind of like health care reform). I might have overthought it.

The quest for 100 began at Deep Ellum, with brunch and Brassiere de Blaugies Biere Darbyste, a Belgian pale ale brewed with figs. Then two days later it brought me back to Deep Ellum for Cambridge Brewing Company's Mind Left Body. Consumed in the midst of three cocktails, my memory of this beer was a bit hazy. Fortunately, I tried this again a few days later and can confidently report that this session IPA is exactly what it intends to be: hoppy, kind of funky and very drinkable. Another beer that I look forward to drinking in warmer weather. A six pack of Stone Pale Ale carried me through the week while I avoided making the increasingly important decision of which beers to drink next.

100: Banryu Ichi
Deciding it was time to hit the milestone, I dragged Casey out (to Deep Ellum, of course) under the guise of "doing research for the blogs" because apparently it's frowned upon to drink alone. I asked for the hoppiest beer on tap and got a Port Hop 15. I then spent a good twenty minutes stressing over the menu, trying to determine which beer was worthy of being number 100, eventually panicking and ordering another Mind Left Body, postponing the decision for another day.

I decided Cambridge Brewing Company, where they always seem to be doing small batches of funky beers, was the new place to hit number 100, and that Banryu Ichi, an experimental beer/sake hybrid (the only of its kind, according to the brewers), was to have the honor. While I appreciate the creative energy that went into this creation, and the fact that the sake cup made for a pretty picture, I'm not sure beer and sake were meant to be together. It wasn't bad but it wasn't good. It didn't taste much like anything, really. Oh well. Still feeling experimental, I ordered an aggressively sour Resolution #9. Eventually I reverted to what I know I like and ordered a Tall Tale Pale Ale, which was extra delicious on cask.

I hit 100! (And then a few.) Cheers! Here's a celebratory picture. (My dad told me to post it here).

I haven't changed much in the past 24 years.
Beers Down: 102
Beers To Go: 263

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Project Venus

I meant to post this yesterday and didn't, so let's pretend that it's still International Women's Day (thanks, Google, for letting me know) since the highlight of this post is Cambridge Brewing Company's Project Venus, a strong Belgian trippel brewed with orange blossom honey and saffron (!) that also happens to be the first and only known major collaboration in which all the brewers were women. The end result was bold, complex and spicy. Well done, ladies. It's not very often that my feminist ideals cross paths with my love of beer, so I was doubly pleased with this beer.

Picture not mine.
It's from the internet.
I've had a lot of really good beers since my last post, and one really bad. Getting the bad out of the way early, the low point of the week (and year for that matter) was Leinenkugel Sunset Wheat, which I mostly choked down just so I could complain about how awful it is. And because we'd run out of better beer, namely Tuckerman's Pale Ale. This beer tastes overwhelmingly of Fruity Pebbles. I guess some people love that about it. Those people don't actually like beer.

Fortunately, February ended with an especially good run of IPAs. Highlights included an after work trip to the People's Republic for Lagunitas IPA and Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA, two great beers that showcase just how different IPAs can be. There is no better style of beer, in my most humble opinion. Then Williams Brothers Joker was on cask at Deep Ellum, and cask conditioning always makes everything better, especially ales.

March kicked off with a rough week of work but a strong late week run of beers. (Gee, think the two might be related?) Post work beverages for the week included Wednesday night's Sam Adams Noble Pils, brewed with all four noble hops, and Bear Republic Big Bear Black Stout, which was very drinkable for 8% but was missing... something. Thursday I bought a six pack of Great Divide Belgica, and Friday brought a trip to Plough and Stars, a few PBR tall boys, and an Ithaca Ground Break. My notes: "I could drink A LOT of this." That's always good.

Hoppy Feet!
Saturday night Aaron and I decided to put our own spin on throwing a beer dinner, but instead of spending time laboring over a menu, cooking, or doing anything other than drinking beer, we just paired all the beers with the most obscenely unhealthy macaroni and cheese recipe I could find. (Highly recommended, by the way.) Bear Republic Hop Rod Rye showcased an impressive blend of rye, hops, and citrus flavors and Clown Shoes Hoppy Feet was one of the better black IPAs I've ever had. Unfortunately, Clown Shoes Brown Angel was disappointing on a number of levels. The beer itself fell flat, and the bottle's art bordered somewhere between tacky and racist.

In other news, someone was reading my beer list when I went in to update it today. I've arrived!

Beers Down: 95
Beers To Go: 269

Monday, February 28, 2011


Could I drink 365 beers in one week? No. But I could drink 26.

Green Flash tasting list...
and check out those prices!
An alternate title to this blog could have easily been "Sick 2: Sinusitis", and after a heavily medicated and painful series of flights to southern California, my cold was threatening to put a damper on my beer plans. If anything was going to salvage Beercation it would be a trip to one of happiest places on earth, Green Flash Brewing Co. Every weekend, Green Flash clears out some space on their bottling floor, serves some cheese and crackers on an old ironing board, and pours some really awesome beer for very little money. I was pretty excited to have regained my sense of smell in time to fully experience it. The full tasting consists of pours of ten different beers, and ended with a special serving of their strong dark Belgian, Grand Cru, on cask. But the pours are only two ounces each, so while it was an awesome experience, I have to follow my own rules and not count a one of the ten towards the yearly total.

Back to my mom's home in Riverside, I was free to have my choice of the beers Charlie has been collecting in anticipation of my visit (he's so supportive!) and Full Sail Pale Ale became the first official beer of vacation. Stone Levitation, one of the best beers out there with under 5% ABV, was an excellent second choice. The next day being the nicest weather of the trip, I moved my box of tissues poolside and sought brews appropriate for soaking up some precious rays of sun. Pyramid Haywire Hefeweizen didn't quite deliver, but Karl Strauss Woodie Gold was pretty good (for a pilsner). That evening we enjoyed some homemade sushi, sake, and Dogfish Head Pangaea. I'm a nut for anything ginger, so it's as if this beer was brewed just for me. With it's big sweet flavors and 18% APV, Dogfish Head Word Wide Stout is one of the best beers I've ever had, and the perfect way to end any day.

Day three of Beercation brought a trip to Death Valley. After driving four hours through the desert, I really wanted a drink. The best beer available when we arrived at the resort was - and you'll have to trust me on this one - Budweiser. The bar we went to for dinner had a slightly better selection, but some of the scariest nachos I've ever encountered. Indian Wells Badwater Ale, brewed exclusively for the resort, kind of tasted like bad water, but New Belgium Fat Tire Ale was more palatable. Eventually we gave up on the bar, raided the general store and retreated to the comfort of the hotel room, where ate some cheese and crackers, played some Bananagrams, and drank some delicious Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA. Apparently the desert isn't the place to go for beer or food. Now we know.

My sinus infection was really peaking my the time we returned from the desert, so I can't speak with great authority about the next few beers, but I'm pretty sure Lagunitas Hop Stoopid IPA needed more hops. I don't remember much about Allagash High Malone Ale, Green Flash Barleywine, and  Victory Storm King Stout. It might be that these four beers were pretty solid, but unremarkable. It's more likely that my palate was severely compromised by my malfunctioning sinuses. I spent most of the day resting, blowing my nose, and banking on the curative properties of water (totally legitimate source here).

It worked! Next stop was Escondido. After a big day of awwing over baby elephants at the San Diego Wild Animal Park, we headed to the nearby Stone Brewery for dinner. This was my third trip to Stone and it's never disappointed. Stone Double Bastard Dry Hopped and Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous were both awesome beers and paired nicely with some awesome appetizers and soup. I even bought myself an awesome sweatshirt in their gift shop. (Awesome!) They had another local beer, Black Market Rye IPA, on cask. I thought the beer itself was pretty average, and lacking in rye, but the temperature and carbonation of the pour was perfect.

Before I knew it it was Friday, my last day in California, and Beercation was winding down. I decided to throw all caution to the wind and enjoy as many beers as possible. I had big expectations for this trip and some catching up to do. So we gathered together the beer we'd been collecting in our journeys, and then bought some more, to loosely pair with food and end the trip with a beer dinner. We got off to an incredible start with a solid three beer cheese course. The super complex and dynamic Unibroue La Fin due Monde would pair well with anything and everything (or nothing), and Stone Cali-Belgique IPA does Belgian IPA right. Samuel Smith Nut Brown Ale Stone, thought a bit sweet for my taste, pairs brilliantly with sharp cheddar cheese. 

Lukcy Basartd Ale, a blend of Arrogant Bastard, Oaked Arrogant Bastard, and Double Bastard (and tasted like, well, Arrogant Bastard), paired with itself for the dinner-isn't-ready-yet-but-let's-keep-drinking-beer course. The main course consisted of a grilled leg of lamb, spinach salad, and roasted squash and potatoes paired with three more beers. First was Trappistes Rochefort (proclaimed by the liquor store man to be the "best beer ever", and it was really good), second was the aforementioned Green Flash Grand Cru, and third was Highway 78 Scotch Ale, a collaboration between the Southern California powerhouses Stone, Green Flash, and Pizza Port. Maybe these folks should stick to the hops, because this beer was weak. Ommegang Chocolate Indulgence provided a subtley chocolately and smooth end to the dinner, and to Beercation.

Or so I thought. When our flight into Salt Lake City arrived a half an hour early, it only seemed right to get in one more beer in while still technically on vacation. And so Squatters Full Suspension Pale Ale officially brought Beercation to a close.

The aftermath.
Beers Down: 82
Beers To Go: 283

Friday, February 11, 2011


I'm sick. I haven't had a new beer in five days, so you know it's bad. The blog is suffering.

Things started with so much promise last week, when I drank a new personal favorite, Anderson Valley Hop Ottin' IPA and beer number fifty (milestone!), Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout. But things took a turn on Friday morning, when I woke up with the realization that I was definitely losing the fight to a cold that I'd felt coming on all week. But I wasn't worried about it. I would take care of myself. I would rest. I wouldn't drink beer.

Then Casey proposed Happy Hour. And she validated my idea that beer would make it better. And since this whole blogging about beer idea was stolen from inspired by her in the first place, it's clearly all her fault.

(Casey's beer blog can be found here, by the way. Somehow I wasn't equally inspired to start running marathons.)

So a group of work friends and I headed out to Cantina after work. In a conscious effort to expand my beer adventures and branch out from ales, I ordered a Delirium Tremens. The waitress asked if I wanted 13, 16, or 23 ounces (at 8.5% ABV - is she nuts?) and I longed to be at a real beer bar. I know this is supposed to be one of the best beers in the world, but I found it too light and sweet for my taste. Next up was BBC Holidale. Nicely balanced, smooth, and malty, but with none of the big alcohol flavor I expect of a barleywine, I wasn't sure what to make of this beer. Last beer at the bar, Ridgeway Bad Elf, tasted like hops and Christmas. I headed out and met up with Aaron, grabbed a bottle of Opa Opa Red Rock Ale, and immediately recognized it was a bad idea. I drank exactly half the bottle so that it would count toward the list before crawling home to bed. (Good thing I made those rules last post.)

Since then my life has consisted almost exclusively of coughing, sneezing, literally blowing through at least four boxes of tissues, staggering through the work week in an overly medicated haze, and not drinking beer. The only exception was Sunday, because not drinking beer during the Super Bowl would be nothing short of un-American. I managed to put back a Harpoon IPA and Harpoon Belgian Pale Ale while watching the game, reminiscing of Wisconsin, and wondering how I could get my hands on some New Glarus beers this year.

But there's hope for me yet! In three hours I'll be on a plane headed to Southern California, where its sunny and warm and beer will get a second chance to make it better.

Beers Down: 56
Beers To Go: 309