Monday, September 30, 2013

American Abbey

Abbey or Trappist beers are typically monastery-brewed, often with odd strains of yeast and potentially unusual ingredients. These act to impart flavours, colours, and aromas that are unmatched and unequalled. Usually.

So when a sort of unassuming place says "Abbey Brewing" you have to say to yourself,  that's a high standard to live up to. I mean, "Fred's Brewing" is a perfectly acceptable name, and said name will not make you have any high hopes or expectations. But Abbey?

Initially greeted by Carlos and Jerson, and advised to order food from any of the places nearby. Called up for the chicken saltado from Suviche's, which was delicious. Service was  warm and friendly, and some welcoming people came in, including this cute service pup.

This is a bar that can appreciate someone who can appreciate good beer. Now about the beer.

So Abbey Brewing - let's just say - some Belgian brewers may be worried. Note some comments posted live to Untappd are in italics.  From the brewpub, tried:
Abbey Immaculate IPA - Ale, IPA, American - 8.5  [4,428]
Good fresh not the hopslam style of IPA
Brother Dan's Double - Ale, Belgian Dubbel - 10
Brother Aaron's Quadruple - Ale, Belgian Quadrupel - 9.5
The name "Abbey" implies a lot - these folks have nailed it as far as their "Belgian styles"
Father Theodore's Imperial Stout - Ale, Stout, Imperial - 10
Essentially perfect for the style - color/ aroma/ taste/ finish/ mouthfeel/ head

Also tried some guest beers:
Stift Engelszell - Gregoriois Trappistenbier - Ale, Belgian Trappist Quadrupel 
a new Trappist brewery in Austria

Wynwood - Wynwood IPA - Ale, IPA, American
This compares to "IPA" as a candle compares to the sun. Perfect 49 F temp (as indicated by the irBlue app/camera); 100 pounds hops for 15 barrels, can almost feel the hops particulates...
Wynwood - Pop's Porter - Ale, Porter, American
Brouwerij De Troch - Chapeau Fraises Lambic Beer - Ale, Belgian Kriek Lambic
Not shabby at all - crisp, sharp faint sweetness, with a hint of strawberries, aged in oak casks, sealed with cap and cork!

Spoke to Ray the brewmaster, and let him know how impressive his offering were. Most brewers are humble when given no faint praise, but you could tell he was a man proud of his work. He has even helped Wynwood, which is also very characteristic of the brewing world.

Ad Astra.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Not a Democrat and Still Loved It

The Democratic Republic of Beer (DRB) is at a new location (did not know that) they have some expansion plans (did not know that), they have an impressive Android app (did not know that), and a very good kitchen (did not know that); and good lord they serve flights
(did not know that).
Got there near opening time (and some places in Miami close 5 AM, some never close) and had a great time. One of the barmaids was carving pumpkins to serve pumpkin beers from  - plastic linings of course. Had a nice conversation with Georgio and later Marin, who spoke of the DRB's history and move. Learned a lot about some local microbrews that are starting.

The food chosen was only an appetizer - hummus and pita - but very fresh tasting. Note pita and hummus is a perfect "palete cleanser" as there is not a lot of flavour imparted to your tongue.

Tasted the following brews:
Castle Brewery Van Honsebrouck - St. Louis Framboise - Ale, Belgian Lambic [4,417]
Department of Brewing / DRB Democratic Republic of Beer - Arctic Amber - Ale, Amber
House beer or huis bier - Department of Brewing is the official name
Holy Mackerel - Special Golden Ale - Ale, Belgian Strong
Due South - Cocoa Stout - Ale, Stout, Dry (Irish)
Harpoon - UFO Pumpkin  - Ale, Spiced, Pumpkin
Orange Blossom Pils - Orange Blossom Pils - Lager, Pilsner, Dutch
Cigar City - Batch 69 Double Cream Ale - Ale, Cream
Amazing - one of the best cream ales ever tried
Cigar City - Common Porter - Ale, Porter, American
New Belgium - Accumulation Winter White IPA - Ale, IPA, American

Brasserie BFM/Terrapin - Spike & Jerome's Collaboration Ale Cuvée Délirante - Ale, Barleywine
Not an American Barleywine - a bit thinner with some tartness - perfect 13 C temp
Dogfish - Bierra Etrusca Bronze - Gruit  [4,427]

Even got to impart a little knowledge regarding beer history and the use of gruit (or gruut) as a preservative/bittering agent.

Really nice.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Sharky's Machine

When looking for a beer bar, there is good and great. A really good - possibly great - beer bar in Miami is Sharky's. Did not try the food (although it looked nice and may go back later) but they serve flights! SO let's say 92% of the way to great, you decide on the food based on other reviews.

Yes, beer: flights, tastings, paddles, samples, samplings, small glasses, shots, wimp pints, snob-sippers, whatever. 

Wonderful friendly staff, and accommodating with the flights, even though they were pretty busy. Tried the following brews:

Caracole - Saxo - Ale, Belgian Strong [4,411]
Sweetwater Brewing - 420 Extra Pale Ale - Ale, Pale, American
Due South  - Caramel Cream - Ale, Cream
Cold Storage Craft Brewing  - Betchy Brown - Ale, Brown
Widmer Brothers - Pitch Black IPA - Ale, IPA, Imperial
Kona Brewing Company - Big Wave Golden Ale - Ale, Golden

Flights - thank you!

Almost Great - MR

When looking for a beer bar, there is good and great. A really good beer bar in Miami is the Filling Station. The food is good and they have allegedly the best potato "tots" around. I did not say " 'tater tots" as that is a trademarked phrase. Now the beer was great and the food was great, but there were a couple of idiosyncrasies to go over.

Absolutely fine if a beer bar does not serve flights. It is one of many factors that distinguishes a "good" from a "great" beer bar. It is also absolutely, 100 percent fine if it is very busy, and you can't get to the flights. Completely understood. But if someone asks if you serve flights, and you say you do, just not all the time, and probably not today (?) that is confusing.

Also, if you do have the ' best potato "tots"', speak up! Don't ask someone if they want tots, fries, coleslaw, whatever - say "we have the best 'tots in the whole freakin' world, you must order some now!" I mean until I saw the t-shirt of one of the bartenders, there was no idea of the 'tot quality.

Did try the following beers, and to be fair the staff will provide a "sample taste" but most true beer drinkers (if not driving) prefer about 4-7 ounces:

New Belgium - Coconut Curry Ale Lips of Faith - Ale, Wheat, Hefeweizen [4,406]
Harpoon - Leviathan Imperial IPA - Ale, IPA, Imperial
Bells Brewing - Two Hearted - Ale, IPA, American
Sierra Nevada - Narwhal 2013 - Ale, Stout, Imperial
Cigar City - Jose Marti Coffee Espresso Porter - Ale, Porter, American

Please - flights always!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Flying High in SC

After a not-too-long walk from the hotel, made it to the Flying Saucer, or more accurately, The Flying Saucer Draught Emporium!

The hosts Josh, Ashley and Morgan were great, and seemed to know a lot about the beers; very patient with beer geeks apparently. 

Tried flights of the following:

New Belgium - French Aramis IPA Hop Kitchen Series - Ale, IPA, American
Thomas Creek - River Falls Red Ale - Ale, Red
Sweetwater - IPA - Ale, IPA, American
Lefevbre - Blanche de Bruxelles - Ale, Belgian White
Southern Tier - Plum Noir Blackwater Series - Ale, Porter, Imperial
NoDa - Hop, Drop 'n Roll - Ale, IPA
RJ Rockers - Bald Eagle Brown - Ale, Brown
Conquest - Warrior Heart IPA - Ale, IPA, Double
Good SRM 7 colour and very fresh hops 
RJ Rockers - Bell Ringer - Ale, Strong, American
The flavours hide the ABV - which at 8.5 is where the "bell is rung" 
River Dog - Chocolate Rye Porter - Ale, Porter, American
Estrella - Damm - Lager, Light
Founders - Dirty Bastard - Ale, Scotch
Boulder Brewing  - Obovoid Oak-Aged Oatmeal Stout  - Ale, Stout, Oatmeal
Green Flash - Hop Odyssey Imperial Red Rye IPA - Ale, Red, Imperial
Liefmans - Goudenband - Ale, Belgian Flanders Brown  [4,397]
Yes - it's great, as I am a whore for Belgian beers (as are all Club Belgique members) 

Oh yes, and the food was excellent!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Columbia SC - MR

After the long drive to Columbia SC, a few beers were necessary, as well as some food.

Went to the Hunter Gatherer Brewery, which had some good beers, no real standouts but quite accurate representations of the styles.

Pale Ale - Ale, Pale - 6.5
Wheat - Ale, Wheat, American - 7
ESB - Ale, Bitter, ESB - 7.5
Plain x Stout - Ale, Stout, Sweet - 6.5

The ESB-braised pork porterhouse was excellent.

Stopped by the Flying Saucer, a beer chain that has a very complete offering of beers and beer styles. Where else might you find a gose at this late hour?

Westbrook - Gose - gose

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Beer City USA 3 - JS MR

Went to one brewpub that was missed earlier - Lexington Avenue Brewery - or LAB for short. 
Food was fantastic, and had their current offerings:

 Nitro Cream Ale - Ale, Cream  - 4
American Pale Ale - Alep, American - 8
Imperial Rye - Ale, Rye, Imperial - 8.5
Roggenbier - Ale, Rye, Roggenbier - 10
Pumpkin Porter - Ale, Spiced, Pumpkin - 7.5

Arrivederci, Asheville

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Beer City USA 2 - JS MR

Or another title might be "Under the Wicked Spell".  As Wicked Weed had some really nice beers, we had to go back again, after a manly breakfast, 
 to conquer (or be conquered by) the various and Sundry choices available. 

While enjoying a delicious lunch (always happy to have good food from a brewpub) sampled the following:
Duke of Rochester - Ale, Mild, English - 5.5   [4,333]
Pumpkanne Ale - Ale, Spiced, Pumpkin - 7
Sir Ryan the Pounder - Ale, Amber, American - 8
Lil' Heresy Brown - Ale, Brown - 8.5
OB Wicked Cascade - Ale, IPA, American - 7
Napoleon Complex IPA - Ale, IPA - 8
Tyrant Double Hopped Red - Ale, Red, Imperial - 9
Freak Double IPA - Ale, IPA, Double - 10
Udderly Milk Stout - Ale, Stout, Milk - 8

Infidel Porter - Ale, Porter, American - 8
Cardinal Sin - Ale, IPA, Belgian - 7.5
Bedeviled Golden Strong - Ale, Belgian Golden - 7
XVII Petite Saison - Ale, Belgian Saison Farmhouse - 8
XIV Rooted Saison - Ale, Belgian Saison Farmhouse - 9
Poperinge Belgian IPA - Ale, Belgian IPA - 10
Lucid Blonde - Ale, Blonde, American - 8.5
XVI Devilrye Saison - Ale, Belgian Saison Farmhouse - 9
Oh My Quad in wine barrels - Ale, Belgian Quadrupel - 10
Dark Age Rum Barrel Stout - Ale, Stout, Imperial - 9

Asheville Brewing was the next stop. Turns out there are actually two breweries, this one is the one on Coxe avenue. 

 Tried flights of the following beers:
828 Pale Ale - Ale, Pale, American - 8
Rocket Girl Golden Lager - Lager, American - 7
Escape Artist ESP - Ale, Pale, American - 7.5
Shiva IPA - Ale, IPA, American - 8
Perfect Day IPA - Ale, IPA, American - 8
Hero Red IPA - Ale, IPA, Red -
Ninja Porter - Ale, Porter, Robust - 7.5
Ashevillian IPA - Ale, IPA, Black - 9
Perfect Day IPA with Peach - Ale, IPA, American - 8.5

Although we did not try it, they offer "hop infusions" to get some extra humalones into you beer!

After this it was right around the corner to a relatively new brewery - Hi-Wire Brewing. 

 Tasted the:
Hi-Wire Lager - Lager, American - 7
Prime Time Pale Ale - Ale, Pale - 7
Hi Pitch IPA - Ale, IPA, American - 7
Bed of Nails Brown - Ale, Brown, English - 7
Sideshow Ringmaster Red Rye - Ale, Rye - 8

It was here we also ran into a tour group that had been at Wicked Weed. Chatted a bit about the beer scene and the history of what was brewed at this location before Hi-Wire.

 Stopped at the Thirsty Monk pub, quite a good selection of beers, and sampled:
Brasserie des Franches-Montagnes - Abbey de Saint Bon-Chien 2011 - Ale, Belgian Sour
Bruery White Oak - Wheatwine - Ale, Barleywine
de Dolle - Stille Nacht - Ale, Belgian Strong   [4,368]

Spoke to some beer nuts from CO, as well as a person from Dark Horse brewing in MI.

Small world.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Beer City USA 1 - MR JS

Asheville NC has the unusual and unofficial appellation "Beer City USA". As the photo below at Bruisin' Ales shows, this is one beer-crazy town.

 Not going to argue that as there are some really good beer, beer bars, and breweries in that fair city. (note the "Oxford comma" used before "and")

First stop as we were peckish was the oddly-named Mellow Mushroom. Enjoyed a really good pizza accompanied by

Foothills - Hoppyum - Ale, IPA, American

Pisgah - Tripel - Ale, Belgian Tripel

After that it was a short hop skip and a jump (metaphorically speaking) to  the aptly-named Barley's. Here was found:

Catawba Brewing- Farmer Ted's Farmhouse Cream Ale - Ale, Cream

French Broad - Gateway Kölsch - Kölsch

Highland Brewing - Clawhammer Oktoberfest - Lager, Märzen-Oktoberfest

Catawba Valley - Firewater IPA - Ale, IPA, American

From here it was a short walk to a brewpub that will henceforth be known as the brewpub with the best name - Wicked Weed.

 Now their quote is allegedly King Henry VII saying in 1519 "Hops are a wicked and pernicious weed."

The Henry the VIII quote is referenced in the tome Beer in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance by Richard Unger. However there is no evidence that Henry VIII was against hops. In fact, based on the economics of the time, hops should have been welcome, one could make 8 gallons of ale (unhopped brewed beverge) but 18 gallons of beer (hopped brewed beverage) [ibid, pg 101].

 However, the original quote is generally attributed to A General View of the Agriculture of the County of Somerset , published in 1794, which said that “a petition was presented against [the hop] to parliament, in the year 1528, in which it is stigmatised as a most pernicious and wicked weed".

Perhaps the better historically accurate quote from a less famous person would be Thomas Fuller, who wrote in "The History of the Worthies of England" that hops were “not so bitter in themselves, as others have been against them, accusing hops for noxious; preserving beer, but destroying those who drink it. These plead the petition presented in parliament in the reign of King Henry the Sixth, against the wicked weed called hops.”

Anyway... tried the

XVIII Blueberry Saison - Ale, Belgian Saison  [10.0]
Transcendence Wild Ale 100% Bretta - Ale, Sour [9.5]
Black Angel Cherry Sour - Ale, Sour [10.5]
Yes, a 10.5 out of a theoretical 10.0 - it was that good! Really.

Note that as of this date, MR will be adding his personal beer ratings on the beers from brewpubs. This way important feedback can be imparted to the brewer. So good or bad, high or low, please take these ratings into consideration. Generally speaking the ratings take into account the style, so a beer will never be penalized for being one of the less popular styles (e.g. lambic, rauchbier, etc.)

Over to the Jack of the Wood to try a

Green Man - IPA - Ale, IPA, American

Then to the Highland Brewery for a visit. It was to late for a full tour, but were able to sample a

Kölsch - Kölsch
Imperial Kasmir IPA - Ale, IPA, Imperial
Black Mocha Stout - Ale, Stout

Welcome to Beer City USA!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Yards o' Beer

Yards o' Beer

At a company meeting, our meeting organizer graciously sent us to the Yard House. This is a very decent "beer chain" that has a wide selection. Well yes and no.

When one has tried a lot of beers, it is always a good idea to see a beer list beforehand, so you can winnow out the "have tried". However, in this case it was an exercise in frustration. Several co-workers were chuckling as I asked for
Claw hammer - Oktoberfest
Teds - Cream ale
French Broad - Gateway Kölsch
Catawba Valley - Firewater IPA
to no avail. Then the waitress said "where did you get this list?" and the reply was
"on your web page";
"oh, that is not always up-to-date";
"okay, how about the first beer on the TV screen over the bar, you must have that one, right?"
"Oh no we are out of that"
[channeling John Cleese from the "cheese shop" sketch] "well, you do sell beer here, right?
"Yes, we have over 100 beers on tap and bottle"
"Okay, let's try again. How about the second random (as opposed to carefully chosen) beer on the TV screen over the bar"
"Let me check, I think we have it"

As it turned out they did.

Clown Shoes - Brown Angel
van Eecke - Poperings Hommel bier
(Beer #4,300, have never had from the tap; only bottles)
Green Flash - Hop Odyssey Symposium
Southern Tier - Oak Aged Iniquity
Yard House - House Brand Belgian Tripel
Bavik - Petrus Aged Red

The food was spectacular, and everyone had a great time.