October 2013 Archives

Dark Horse - MMMM

MMMM.jpgI was a little skeptical of MMMM. I picked it up at last years 4 Elf party. There was talk of infected brews, and so-so brews. But I wanted to give them all their fair shot, so I picked up one of each of the majority of ales offered. My expectations for MMMM - quite honestly - were not set very high. I was pleasantly surprised. Named MMMM and labeled a Chocolate Rye Porter, it is quite appropriately named and labeled. MMMM was my very first thought when I tried this brew. It pours a very dark rich brown, not black, with a dark head. This brew is simply chocolaty goodness. Dark Horse really nailed it on this one. This is a very balanced brew all the way around. Good body, rich malt notes on the nose, and great chocolate malt flavor. Chocolate coats the tongue and leaves with a soft tang, not sharp tannin bite, just a mellow tang. Beer Advocate incorrectly gives this brew an 82. There are a couple of reasons why. First there are only three reviews because this is a brewery release only ale (aka rare). Second it was bottled just days prior to 4Elf and it would have been foolish to drink any of these bottle conditioned brews from 4Elf without first giving them some time. So due to a bit of limited supply and ignorance I would put this as a highly underrated brew. Properly cellared - It's damn good. One of the best porters I have had. Dark Horse is not perfect, sometimes they screw stuff up and are pretty human. But they work their ass off and really bring it like no other brewery.

Short's Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster

Pan_Galactic.JPGWell the name pretty much says it all. Victor recommended this one. It's a 'Belgian Style Double India Pale Ale'. I am not a big fan of Belgian anything. Fortunately this is more India Pale Ale and less Belgian. A very clear bronze ale, it pours with minimal head, great fresh hop aroma, and nice balancing maltyness. Spell check says that is not a word, it also says maltiness is not a word. So I give up. It would seem to be a problem with the English language. There are some definite notes of Belgian complexity, all very positive notes I'd say. Very worthy of a recommendation, this is a great ale.

In other news my movabletype all of the sudden magically handles images and thumbnails the way I wanted so long ago. Maybe my missing banner will magically appear on all of my pages. I am guessing not.

Old Hickory - Event Horizon

OH_EH.jpgSo while the Bean was disappointing I did not want to leave on Old Hickory on a bad note. They are capable of much better, so tonight I cracked open their Event Horizon.

It pours a very pitch black with a very dark head. Full bodied with vanilla, molasses, and honey sweetness on the nose. The flavor is caramelized and burnt sugars, raisins and other dark fruits, with plenty of bourbon presence. Rich malty sweetness and burnt honeyed richness define this ale. What a bourbon barrel imperial should be.

 Thanks to Adam for the glass and the brew.

Old Hickory - The Bean

The_bean.JPGSo I started out this evening with a Oskar Blues old chub, I wanted to follow it up with an otherworldly ale, I could have went for a known ale like Plead the 5th, or Black Note, instead I was hoping to delve into the cellar and discover something new, like the time I discovered the Czar. I wanted a solid brew, at least something along the lines of Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout, or Old Rasputin. I decided to give my Goose Island Night Stalker a try, there was a time when Night Stalker was amazing. Unfortunately when we sampled a bottle in February it was way hoppy and infected. It no longer seemed infected, it had the semblance of something that could have been good, but it was pretty gross, nasty funky piney hops still present. Whoever let that one go at Goose Island should be fired, right after their flogging. Serious evidence that someone doesn't give a rats arse about what exits their facility.

Last winter I was pretty impressed with the Old Hickory Imperial Stout, so I decided to give The Bean, from OH a shot. According to the label it is brewed as a tribute to the world's greatest dog, so I found in appropriate to include my own beer and bird hunting dog in the photo. It was WAY over carbonated, like bubble bath bubbles, medium to light bodied, no vanilla bean presence detected. Maybe I got to this one too late. Sometime vanilla fades. It just has this overly bubbly light bodied coffee character. Still good coffee flavor, but not what I was expecting. No off characters or detectable hops which is a plus. To give it a fair evaluation I put it up next to my homebrewed coffee stout.

The bean is about the same SRM, it might be a hair darker, the homebrew has a bit better head retention and finer bubbles. My stout has malt notes on the nose and definite vanilla bean, which The Bean is missing. It is by far thin next to mine. This is rather pathetic considering my ale is not all that full bodied to begin with. The bean coffee character is unique from mine and tastes great in it's own right. But in the end it's a pretty weak ale. Little to no unfermentable sugars leave it dry and light bodied.

So much for discovering an otherworldly ale tonight.

Oskar Blues - Ten Fidy and other fine ales

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Ten_Fidy.pngAll you other brews move over Ten Fidy is here. Viscus like motor oil, with a rich brown head, it's like looking into deep space. I recently reviewed Creme Brulee and Genghis Pecan, neither of which stand a chance against Ten Fidy, even in a cold day in hell. Ten Fidy is the real thing, a world class ale. Rich smokey malt notes, full bodied, it is a stout that can hold it's own.

Oskar Blues has been in town for a few months. I had yet to pick up any of it until Ten Fidy hit the shelves. So feeling somewhat ashamed I asked Victor at GB Russo which other Oskar Blues ale I should try. He recommended Old Chub, their Scotch ale. Beer Advocate gives it a 90 and for good reason. A deep burnt copper slightly cloudy, sweet caramelized malt, very full bodied, it's the real McCoy. Just like the burnt copper color, the flavor has a burnt (some say smoked, but not like smoked beer smoked, like roasted boar smoked) sharpness that you just have to try.

NCM_0205.JPGIt's amazing and thanks to Victor an awesome price, way cheaper than any ale out there that comes remotely close.  I love the So I married and axe murderer quote "it's like sputnik a virtual planetoid" on the can. It is spot on. It's a HUGE ale, a few of these could take a piper down.

If Oskar Blues wasn't already cool enough they are apparently mountain biking nuts and have their own line of hard tails. I am looking forward to trying some of their other brews.

Southern Tier - Creme Brulee

NCM_0199.JPGI am a big fan of a stout brewed with vanilla beans. I brew one myself each year. The label on Creme Brulee states "a stout brewed with vanilla beans". Creme Brulee unlike Genghis Pecan - which I reviewed last - does not leave one seeking deeply for aroma or flavors. Once opened the aroma of toffee and butterscotch dominate. Even after a distance of time and space the butterscotch flavor wafts though the atmosphere to your nose. While pretty dark it still has some transparency. Full bodied and very sweet, with some coffee bitterness and hop bitterness. Honestly an ale with such a sweet dominate character is a little hard to rate. The base ale is what should be judged, not strong characteristics that can hide the complexities of the ale. The same toffee and butterscotch notes are present in the taste, the sweetness is balanced with hop bitterness. Although 'balance' here here refers to something along the lines of running off the road on the one side, over-correcting and running off the other side. It is not subltle in any context of the word.

I like it. I have a bottle in the cellar and I am curious to see how it ages. I remember thinking of it favorably in the past. This is probably the first time I have really analyzed it however. While I really enjoy this ale I would be careful to give it a super high rating. While on one hand the aroma is pretty amazing and beyond any other ale I have had, the base ale is solid, but still only an eight out of ten. So while technically I can't give this ale a 10 out of 10, it is pretty damn good. It is so sweet that it really needs to be shared. Finishing a bomber is only possible with the consumption of some salty foods to balance the intense sweetness.

Clown Shoes - Genghis Pecan

Pecan_Porter_Clown_Shoes.jpgClown Shoes is new to Michigan. Genghis Pecan is the first of the series I have tried. I have a bottle of Very Angry Beast, their barrel aged American Imperial Stout in my cellar, waiting to be opened. This is also the first offering I have tried that has been brewed by Ipswich/Mercury Brewing Co.

The nose is mild with a sense of base malts present, and a mild sweetness as it warms. It pours as dark as it gets, with a decent, but quickly fading head. Medium bodied with a bit of malt astringency until it warms, it is very creamy and smooth to the palate. The taste is malty sweetness, with very mild notes of coffee and pecan that are only really noticeable at the very end as it has fully warmed.

Overall this is a good ale, not extremely expensive but toward the upper end for what it is. It's not in the running with Parabola, Brooklyn Black Chocolate stout, or any of the greats, but it's a very solid ale, and definitely the style of porter that I enjoy. I am looking forward to trying Very Angry Beast this winter.

Oatmeal Coffee Stout

Stout.jpgThis August 4th I brewed up my Oatmeal Stout again. I upgraded my brewpot to a 15 gallon keg allowing me to end up with more than a measly three gallons that I normally end up with due to boil overs. Overall the brewday went great, no issues with the mash tun. I have learned that not stirring the beans out of it is best. It just disturbs the grain bed causing a stuck sparge with big brews like this one, that exceed 20 pounds of grain. It was getting late and I cut the boil short at an hour. The resulting gravity came out at 1.075, a bit lower than I wanted. Last time I managed to get 1.120 out of the same recipe. I added a bit more coffee beans and oak than before. While still only about six to twelve beans, I left it on secondary for a good two months. It allowed the coffee to dominate. The vanilla sweetness is still present but the coffee is very forward. The toasted American oak was still only mildly detectable despite adding close to a third of a pint to secondary. I upped the coffee and oak more out of curiosity just to see what the result would be. I like coffee stouts, so I was pleased. It's a very drinkable brew.

It pours a rich dark amber, with an aroma of coffee and vanilla. Medium bodied the coffee remains present in the aftertaste. Some hops bitterness is present but blends with the dry astringency of the coffee and malts. The primary sweetness comes from the vanilla. I would prefer more body and malt character. But end the end I am still pleased.

I used my new wax stamp when wax dipping the bottles. I have decided that the double boiler approach to waxing is a poor one. It causes too much steam to mix with the wax, and bubbles the wax. Using a tin can seems to work well, less cleaning up. I think I will try using a propane torch with the tin can eliminating the bubbles in the wax issue.


The Brewmaster


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This page is an archive of entries from October 2013 listed from newest to oldest.

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