Thursday, June 4, 2015

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Rating RateBeer's Ratings

Rating RateBeer's Ratings?  

Well, no, not really. 

More like note, comments and suggestions. RateBeer does a fantastic job, and has an annual rating of beers based on readersopinion, sorted by category.
I thought two things about this article, maybe three.

The first is it's a great reference to have, and any zythologist worth his or her salt should make a point (as I am going to do) to try each of the beers you've never had. This should include ones you don't like, as far as style goes, although personally I'm not keen on ciders and perrys and I will pass on these.  Should also add parenthetically I've had some vintage ciders in England, long before ciders became popular in the states, and I'll guarantee you some of the stuff over there blows the snots out of some of the stuff listed below. Also sad to see nothing from Urban Farm Fermentory (or UFF) as their stuff is amazing; and that's coming from a non-cider drinker.

The second and third items somewhat go together. Some of these breweries are insanely popular, and with such limited release there can't be more than a handful - metaphorically speaking - of RateBeer members who have tried the beer.  This also means that while people may be focusing on these beers, they could be missing literally dozens of others, as good or possibly better.

Below, I have tried to break down each section, note the beers I've tried, and any comments, observations, or witticisms. I do apologize in advance as some of the beers I recommend may not be available, or even out of production. It's also possible a brewery is out of business, but I doubt that.

I will promise that you should like any of the ones I recommend, assuming you like that particular style. And as hinted at earlier, if you don't like a style, it's worth opening up your horizons.  I remember in college, a lifetime ago, late last millennium, a really good friend of mine had me try a Pilsner Urquell for the first time. As this actually had an aroma and the flavor, I was taken somewhat aback. 

Many years later, early April 1997,  I started tracking my beers, starting with a database on an Apple Newton, then migrating to FileMaker on a Palm and then to an iPhone. Now I stand at 5,969 different beers, and plan to hit 6,000 in Salt Lake City UT in May of this year.

I shall also apologize in advance if any of the styles appear to be in error. I do write down a beer style and base that either on the label, what the bar/brewery/brewpub says, what the Internet says, or lastly a personal opinion if I have to guess. 

And the numbers to the left are the rating in that particular category. I mostly commented on only those I have had. So far.

Pale Lager: Pale Lager | Pilsener | Czech Pilsner (Světlý) | Dortmunder/Helles | Zwickel/Keller/Landbier | Premium Lager
4    Jack’s Abby Hopstitution XPL #3 Calyptra    Premium Lager
  This is a good example of a American pale lager, I gave it to an 8.5 of 10 
13    Jack’s Abby Hopstitution XPL #4 Aussie Rules    Premium Lager
  I gave it to an 8.0 of 10
15    Firestone Walker Pivo Hoppy Pils    Pilsener      
  An 8.0 out of 10.0

I found this interesting that of the three beers I had in this list, I did rate them apparently properly, at least as far as the XPL #3 was high than the Pivo. Now if you want my choices for the different styles as far as what I thought was extremely good; we have:
Pale Lager:
Pretty Things - American Darling Good Time Lager - 9.0
Otter Creek - Citra Mantra - 9.0
Steam Whistle Brewery - Steam Whistle Pilsner - 10.0
Vetter - Pilsener - 10.0
Der Vogel - Pils - 10.0
Heidelberger - 1604 Pilsener (German Pils) - 9.5
Czech Pilsner (Světlý):
Pilsner Urquell - Pilsner Urquell - 10.0
Reichold Brauerai - Biergenumbß - 9.0
Salzburger - Stiegl - 10.0
Samuel Adams / Boston Beer Company - Alpine Spring - 9.5
Kitzmann Bräu - Kellerbier - 8.5

Bock, Strong Lager: Malt Liquor | Dunkler Bock | Doppelbock | Eisbock | Strong Pale Lager/Imperial Pils | Heller Bock |
1    Ayinger Celebrator Doppelbock    Doppelbock  
  On tap  - 8.0 of 10.0
2    Schneider Aventinus Weizen-Eisbock    Eisbock
  8.0 (on tap in Liverpool UK), and 10.0 from a bottle.
3    Jack’s Abby Mass Rising    Strong Pale Lager/Imperial Pils   
  9.5 out of 10.0; really nice grapefruit pine mix.
4    Founders Backstage Series #10: Dissenter Imperial IPL    Strong Pale Lager/Imperial Pils  
  This was an 8.5; and at $12 a bottle it had better have been a 7.5 or higher!
7    Struise Black Magic    Strong Pale Lager/Imperial Pils
  I have had the Black Albert in 2010, really nice at 9.0 of 10.0
8    The Bruery Humulus Lager    Strong Pale Lager/Imperial Pils   
  Have not had this one, but have had their Wheatwine (9.0), 
  Oude Tart (8.5), Rueuze (9.0), and Seven Swans a Swimming (7.3)
9    Avery The Kaiser Imperial Oktoberfest    Doppelbock
  8.0; thought it had a rather chewy barleywine mouthfeel.
10    Andechser Doppelbock Dunkel    Doppelbock    Klosterbrauerei Andechs 
  7.5 out of 10.0, in Germany.
11    Jack’s Abby Hoponius Union    Strong Pale Lager/Imperial Pils   
  Also a solid 7.5 out of 10 - most beers I rate over 7 will always please.
14    Kulmbacher Eisbock    Eisbock    Kulmbacher Brauerei (Schörghuber)   
  A 10.0

Wow, tried a lot in that category. Some others I have tried, and liked, are below.
Malt Liquor:
Have not had any I am proud of; most are not that good. I did try to couple when my older son's friends had me play "Edward 40 hands."
Vetter Alt Heidelberger Brauhaus - Vetters 33 [33% ABV!] - 10.0
Augustiner-Keller - MAXIMATOR - 10.0
Hinterland - Bourbon Barrel Doppelbock - 10.0
Rinkuškiai - Exclusive - 10.0
A L'Abris de la Tempête - Palabre du Pingouin - 9.0
Imperial Pils:
Magic Hat - Humdinger Over the Pils - 9.0
Rogue - Morimoto Imperial Pilsner - 8.5
Gray Sail - First Anniversary Imperial Pilsner - 8.5
Heller Bock:
Sierra Nevada - Charlie, Fred & Ken's Bock, 30th Anniversary - 9.0
Southern Tier - Krampus Imperial Helles Lager - 9.0

Specialty: Fruit Beer/Radler | Smoked | Spice/Herb/Vegetable |
2    New Glarus Wisconsin Belgian Red    Fruit Beer/Radler    
  A 10.0; Montmorency cherries; 1 pound per bottle.
6    Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Urbock    Smoked    Brauerei Heller 
  This is one of if not the best rauchbiers out there - 10.0
9    Mikkeller Mexas Ranger    Spice/Herb/Vegetable    
  Have had the Mexas Ranger, not the Texas, a solid 9.0; 
  altho I believe brewed in Belgium?
10    Aecht Schlenkerla Fastenbier    Smoked    Brauerei Heller   
  I had this baby in Germany in 2012, an 8.0
11    Elysian Punkuccino Coffee Pumpkin Ale    Spice/Herb/Vegetable  
  Have had several of their beers but not this one; 
  their Rapture Heather Ale; it's good.

If you want to try some good ones, in my opinion, in these categories, take a look at these.
Fruit Beer:
Meantime - Raspberry Wheat - 10.0
Tullycross - Chasing Rabbits Belgian White with Mango - 9.5
Elysian - Maelstrom Blood Orange Ale (Apocalypse Series) - 9.5
Monteith's - Radler bier - 3.5 
(only one I ever tried, maybe it should be rated higher as it's the "best")
Heller Bamburg Schlenkerla Brauerei - Rauchweizen - 10.0
Idsteiner Brauhaus - Smoked - 10.0
Long Trail - Brown Bag #1 - Bavarian Smoked Brown Ale - 10.0
Adelbert's Brewing / Naughty Brewing - I Think She Hung the Moon - 10.0
Hooker - Demure - 10.0
Appalachian Brewing Company - Rauchbock - 10.0
Weiherer - Rauch - 10.0
Bethlehem Brew Works - The Roof is on Fire Rauchbock - 9.5
Faust Brewing - Ginger Honey Wheat - 10.0
Black Hog - Ginga' Ninja - 10.0
Gulden Spoor / Golden Spur / Browkut - Luxuria Seven Sins - 10.0
Dijk Waert - McThals - 9.5
New Belgium - Skinny Dip - 8.0
Fraøch - Fraøch Heather Ale - 10.0
Heather was used as a bittering agent in Scotland, until England forced them to use (i.e. purchase) hops; this took place as part of the brutal "cleansing of the clans."
Saint Arnold - Pumpkinator - 10.0

English Style Pale & Bitter: English Pale Ale | Bitter | Golden Ale/Blond Ale | Mild Ale | Premium Bitter/ESB
3    Southern Tier Harvest Ale    Premium Bitter/ESB
  I gave it a 7.0 of 10; I hate to say it but a good English 
  cask bitter can be much better than this.
6    Moor Nor’Hop    Golden Ale/Blond Ale    Moor
  Nope, but their Hoppiness is a 10.0
10    Enlightenment Day Trip    Golden Ale/Blond Ale
  8.0 at 11.0% ABV.
12    De Molen Amerikaans    Bitter    Brouwerij de Molen
  Nope, but they have one called Bommen & Granaten 
  (heaven & hell) that you can age for 25 years.

Some good examples of the following styles.
English Pale Ale:
Galbraith Ale House - Antipodean New Zealand Pale Ale - 10.0 (cask)
Wye Valley - HPA Hereford Palr Ale - 9.0 (cask)
Concrete Cow - One Good Churn Deserves Another - 9.0 (cask)
Sherfield Village Brewery - Wakatu - 9.0 (cask)
Bowland - White Star Pale Ale - 9.0 (cask)
Phoenix Brewery - Last Leaf - 9.5 (cask)
Dent - Premium Bitter - 9.5 (cask)
Golden Ale:
Russian River Brewing - Sanctification - 10.0
Liverpool Craft Beer - Ye Hole in ye Wall Golden Ale (House Ale) - 9.5 (cask)
Pikes Peak - Penrose Private Reserve 1302 - 9.5
Hammerpot - Woodcote Ale (cask) - 9.0
Blond Ale:
van Eecke - Poperings Hommelbier - 10.0 (personal favorite)
Het Anker - Gouden Carolus Hops Seignor - 10.0
Westvleteren - blonde (green label) - 10
Great Orme Brewery - Celtica - 9.5
Mild Ale:
Willimantic Brewpub - Movember Mild - 9.5
Teignworthy Brewer - Martha's Mild - 9.0
Premium Bitter:
Skipton Brewery - Copper Dragon Golden Pippin - 10.0 (cask)
Bragdyr Nant - Chwaden Aur (golden duck in Welsh) - 9.5
Broad Ripple Brewpub - ESB Extra Special Bitter - 9.5
Rock Art - Magnamus ete Tomahawkus ESB2 Extreme - 9.0

India Pale Ale: India Pale Ale (IPA) | Black IPA
1    AleSmith IPA    India Pale Ale (IPA)
  Nope, but their Grand Cru 2013 was smashing.
3    Hill Farmstead  Susan    India Pale Ale (IPA) [update, added this one]
  May 2 at Armsby Abbey (as I said, try ones you haven't) - a 9.3.
4    Maine Beer Lunch    India Pale Ale (IPA)
  A 9.0 for on tap.
6    Ballast Point Sculpin IPA    India Pale Ale (IPA)
  An 8.8 of 10.0; sometime in March 2015, 
  scoring changed from 0.5 increments to 0.1
8    Maine Beer Another One    India Pale Ale (IPA)
  An 8.3; actually this was the beer where the 
  score resolution was improved.
11    Tröegs Nugget Nectar Ale    India Pale Ale (IPA)
  Varies a bit between fresh at brewery (10.0), to cask (9.9) to tap (9.0).
13  Bells Two Hearted Ale    India Pale Ale (IPA)  
  A consistent 7.5 tap, bottle or at the brewery.
15    Ballast Point  Grapefruit Sculpin    India Pale Ale (IPA) [update, added this one]
  May 2 at Armsby Abbey (as I said, try ones you haven't) - a 9.0
Any of these IPAs below will satisfy you.
Widmer - Omission Gluten Free Omission IPA - 10.0 (best gluten-free)
Alchemist - Heady-Topper - 10.0 (from can -> mouth)
Haymarket Pub & Brewery - Hard Times American IPA - 10.0
Tampa Bay Brewing - Old Elephant Foot IPA - 10.0
Black IPA
Black Hog - Black Hog Down - 9.5

Double IPA: Imperial/Double IPA
1    Russian River Pliny Elder    Imperial/Double IPA
  Hmmm, thought I had this, as I had been to the brewery.
2    Alchemist Heady Topper    Imperial/Double IPA
  10.0 if you drink it from the can; else 9.5.
4    Bells Hopslam    Imperial/Double IPA
  9.0 at the brewery, where all on tap were tried, 5-26-2011.
6    Stone Enjoy By IPA    Imperial/Double IPA



  Ranges from 9.0 to 10.0
7    Three Floyds Dreadnaught Imperial IPA
  8.5 at the brewpub.
12    Lawson’s Finest Sip of Sunshine IPA    Imperial/Double IPA
  This is 9.2 (tap) and 9.5 (can).
14    Dogfish Head 90 Minute Imperial IPA    Imperial/Double IPA
  Whether on tap or bottle - 9.0

Some others to consider.
Double IPA:
Ithaca - Excelsior! Anniversary Seventeen 17 - 10.0
Mikkeller & De Proef - 1,000 IBU - 10.0 (if you're man or woman enough!)
Against the Grain Brewery - Rico Sauvin 10.0
New England Brewing - Gandhi-Bot - 10.0
Imperial IPA:
Bridgeport - Hop Czar - 10.0
Tampa Bay Brewing - Old Elephant Foot IPA - 10.0
Haymarket Pub - Mathias Imperial American IPA - 10.0
Blue Point - No Apologies Dry Hopped With Citra and Simcoe Imperial IPA - 10.0
Sierra Nevada - Hoptimum 2014 whole cone imperial IPA - 10.0
Imperial IPA other:
Country Boy Brewing - Infinite Sadness Imperial Black IPA bourbon barrels - 10.0
Great Lakes - Nosferatu Imperial Red IPA - 8.5

Low/Moderate Alcohol: Low Alcohol, under 4.6% alcohol by volume
Note I would categorize a Gose as a sour beer; or frankly a variant as its own; I mean it's not a lager, nor an ale. Plus I noted that some of these, such as "New Glarus - Belgian Red" are repeated here.   

7    Crooked Stave Vieille Artisanal    Saison   
  Thought this was a 7.3; not bad but in category of lower ABV, it stands out more?
13    Westbrook Gozu    Grodziskie/Gose/Lichtenhainer 
  A 9.0 on tap.
14    Trinity Red Swingline    Sour/Wild Ale
  Picked up at the brewery on a trip and we shared thist
  as the second anniversary of a really good local bar we like. 
  A 10.5 out of 10.0; yes, a 10.5 like the open-ended Richter scale.

Now about some really good beers under 4.6% ABV; I assume shooting for 4.5% or lower, which is a "Session beer" by some definitions. And as with RateBeer, some are repeats.
Jolly Pumpkin -  Weizen Bam Bière - Farmhouse Wheat Beer - (4.5%) Ale, Sour - 10.0
Fish Tale Brew Pub - Whistling Pig Hefeweizen - (4.5%) Ale, Wheat, Hefeweizen - 9.5
Great Orme Brewery - Celtica - (4.5%) Ale, Blonde - 9.5
Liverpool Craft Brewery - Threshold - (4.5%) Ale, Blonde - 9.5
Slottskällans - Nelson - (4.5%) Ale, IPA - 9.5
Upright Brewing - Pure Wit - (4.5%) Ale, Belgian Witbier - 9.5
Bragdyr Nant Brewery - Chwaden Aur (golden duck in Welsh) - (4.35%) Ale, Bitter, Special - 9.5
Sherfield Village Brewery - Pewter Suitor* - (4.4%) Ale, Bitter - 9.0
                                                 * obscure 1969 Rock refer 
Willimantic Brewpub - Be-Gyled Shandy - (4.3%) Ale, Fruit - 10.0
Sherfield Village Brewery - Wakatu - (4.3%) Ale, Pale, English - 9.0
Moor Beer Company - Amoor - (4.3%) Ale, Porter, Brown - 8.5
Tullycross - Chasing Rabbits Belgian White - (4.2%) Ale, Belgian Witbier fruit - 9.5
Tullycross - Chasing Rabbits Belgian White with Mango - (4.2%) Ale, Belgian Witbier fruit  - 9.5
Great Orme Brewery - Orme - (4.2%) Ale, English - 9.0
Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales - Los Vivos Y Los Muertos - (4.2%) Ale, Saison, sour - 9.0
Lawson's Finest Liquids w/ Vermont Pub & Brewery - Super Finest Session #2 - (4.2%) Ale, IPA, American - 9.0
Stone - Coffee Milk Stout - (4.2%) Ale, Stout, Milk - 9.0
Concrete Cow - Cloven Hoof - (4.2%) Ale, Stout - 8.5
Rabbits Foot Meadey - Biere de Miel - (4.2%) Kölsch Style - 8.5
XT - 3 Indian Pale - (4.2%) Ale, IPA - 8.5
Trinity - Red Swingline - (4.1%) Ale, IPA, sour  - 10.5
Purple Moose Brewery (Mes Piws) -  Myrica Gale - (4.1%) Ale, Brown, English - 10.0
Galbraith Ale House - Antipodean New Zealand Pale Ale - (4.0%) Ale, Pale, English - 10.0
Hereford Brewery - HLA Hereford Light Ale - (4.0%) Ale, light - 9.5
Nodding Head - Goldihops - (4.0%) Ale, IPA, Double - 9.5
Brasserie Artisanale du Château, - Ginger - (4.0%) Ale, Spiced - 9.0
Boon - Geuze Lambic -  (4.0%) Ale, Belgian Geuze Lambic - 9.0
George Wright - Lion Returns - (3.9%) Ale, IPA, English - 9.5
Hallertau Brewery - Minimis - (3.8%) Ale, Pale, American - 9.5
Concrete Cow - Bitter Bully - (3.5%) Ale, Bitter, Special - 9.6
Black Hog - Farmland Series Strawberry Gose - (3.5%) Gose - 9.0
Lindemans - Kriek Lambic - (3.5%) Ale, Belgian Kriek - 9.0
De Troch  - Chapeau Fraises Lambic - (3.5%) Ale, Belgian Kriek Lambic - 9.0
Concrete Cow - One Good Churn Deserves Another - (3.0%) Ale, Pale, English - 9.0 (cask)

So you don't need lots o' ethanol to have a great beer. Also many of these are UK beers, as sadly, their archaic tax system charges more per % alcohol! Madness.

Stout: Stout | Dry Stout | Sweet Stout | Foreign Stout 
2    Mikkeller Beer Geek Breakfast    Stout
  A 10.0; much better than Brunch Weasel.
8    Bells Kalamazoo Stout    Stout    Bells Brewery    Michigan    USA    SILVER
  An 8.5 was the highest score from the bottle, as opposed to tap or brewery...
14    Rogue Chocolate Stout    Sweet Stout
  Also a nice 8.5 of 10.0; at the brewery.
15    Maine Beer Mean Old Tom    Stout
  This was rated a 6.5 for a tap pour; that's not a bad beer but not spectacular.

Any of the stoutish varinats below will please.
Hinterland - Luna Stout - 10.0
Founders - Big Lushious - 9.5
Dry Stout (Irish):
Triumph Brewing Company - Imperial Stout - 10.0
Water Street Brewery Milwaukee - Irish Stout - 9.5
Sweet Stout:
Young's Ram Brewery - Double Chocolate Stout - 10.0
Southern Tier - Blackwater Series Choklat Stout - 10.0
Sweet Stout (London):
Dent - T'owd Tup - 10.0
Foreign Stout:
Samuel Smith's - Extra Stout - 10.0
Walnut Brewery - Devil's Thumb Stout - 9.5
Santa Cruz Mountain Brewery - The Twisted Sister - 10.0 (spiced)     
Milk Stout:
Dunham Massey Brewing Co. - Milk Stout - 10.0
Left Hand Brewing - Milk Stout Nitro - 10.0

Strong Stout: Imperial Stout
4    Goose Island Bourbon County Stout    Imperial Stout
  This was a handy 9.5, and at 14% it should age well.
13    Bell's Expedition Stout    Imperial Stout
  We rated this a 7.5 at the brewery in 2011.
14    Mikkeller Beer Geek Brunch Weasel    Imperial Stout   
  An 8.5 and this seems familiar...

You could do worse to try these here.
Imperial Stout:
Emilesse - Imperial Russian Stout Peated Bowmore barrel - 10.5
Samuel Smith's -  Imperial Stout - 10.0
North Coast Brewing - Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout - 10.0
De Struise Cuvée Delphine - Truth Can Set You Free 2012 - 10.0
Landbrauerei Schönram - Imperial Stout - 10.0
Two Roads Brewing Igor's Dream - Imperial Russian Stout 2014 - 10.0
Lost Abbey - Serpent's Stout - 10.0

Strong Ale: Barley Wine | English Strong Ale | American Strong Ale | Old Ale
I have to add that barley wines (or barleywines) are a favorite. I could put a lot more than those below. Also an important comment: a barley wine is one of the most perfect beers to age. If you like the style, purchase 2, 3, 4 or more, and store them in a cool area. Try one each year, or every couple of years. The change is not subtle, and usually improves every year. I have several bottles from different breweries back to 2009.

1    Goose Island Bourbon County Barleywine    Barley Wine
  This is great - at 10.0
4    Samuel Adams Utopias    Barley Wine    Boston Beer Company
  Only garnered an 8.0 but that was the 2010 version. 
  Is it a barley wine? Also given as a gift, so thank you, Roger.
8    Firestone Walker Sucaba    Barley Wine  
  Be it Sucaba or §ucaba, this is quite good; 10.0
10    Lost Abbey Deliverance    American Strong Ale 
  Thought this was more of a 7.5 at the brewery in 2012.

Barley Wine:
Radberger - Braufactum Braufactum Arrique 2012 (in 2014) - 10.5
Big Sky Brewing - Old Bluehair - 10.0
Mikkeller de Proef - Fôret Limousine, French Oak Barrel Series - 10.0
Defiant - Magnus Pango - 10.0
Mikellar / Brew Dog - Divine Rebel 2009 - 10.0
Rēservoir brewpub - Barley Wine - 10.0 (beer # 4,000)
Smuttynose - Wheatwine - 10.0
Interesting story about the Smuttynose wheat wine. We were at the brewery getting a tour, when they released it. It was delayed because the bottle had the word "wheat wine" as two words; the BATF (in their infinite wisdom) thought it was a wine, and it took some extra paperwork delays before releasing it!
Sekinoichi - Shuzo Iwate Kura Barley Wine - 9.5
Emelisse - Barley Wine 2014 Makers Mark Bourbon Barrel Aged - 9.5
Tampa Bay Brewing - Moosekiller Barley-Wine Style Ale - 9.5
English Strong Ale:
Fullers - Vintage Ale 2008 - 10.0
Hall & Woodhouse - Badger Poachers Choice - 9.5
American Strong Ale:
Geary's - HSA Hampshire Special Ale - 9.5 (cask)
Two Roads - Conntucky Lightnin' Bourbon Ale - 10.0
Old Ale:
Moor Beer Company - Fusion - 9.5
Fullers - Vintage Ale 1999 (in 2013) - 10.0

Imperial, Baltic Porter: Baltic Porter | Imperial/Strong Porter
11    Flying Dog Gonzo Imperial Porter    Imperial/Strong Porter
  I gave this only a 7.5, but that was years ago, probably before 2000, as that was before when (oddly enough) I began to track the date. I do plan to try it again, but that is not a bad score. Also decidedly odd in that so my favorite styles of beer are porters and was surprise that I only had one, of all beers in this RateBeer list.

Baltic Porter:
Saint-Bock Brasserie Artisanale - Porter Baltique - 10.0
Trinity Brewing - Chilly Water, Bourbon Barrel Aged Oatmeal Baltik Porter - 9.5
Duck Rabbit Baltic Porter - 9.8
Imperial Porter:
Hooker - Imperial Porter - 10.0
512 Brewing - 512 Five aged in Maker's Mark barrel - 10.0
FiftyFifty - Donner Party* Porter - 9.5
                               *cannabalismon the wagon train in 1847

Porter: Porter
3    Founders Porter    Porter    Founders Brewing Company
  This was a 7.0
7    Anchor Porter    Porter    Anchor Brewing Company
  This was rated a 6.0
8    Fuller’s London Porter (Bottle/Keg)    Porter   
  This was rated a 7.5
9    Smuttynose Robust Porter    Porter   
  Also a 7.5
11    Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald Porter   
  8.5 from tap; 8.0 bottle.
13    Cigar City Puppy’s Breath Robust Porter   
  I've had a Dragon's Breath, but no Puppy's Breath.

Try any of the following:
Samuel Smith's - Taddy Porter (robust) - 10.0
Dunham Massey Brewing Co. - Porter (brown) - 10.0
Deschutes Brewery - Black Butte XXI (robust) - 10.0
Three Floyds - Ragnarok (robust) - 10.0
Slottskällans - Svart (Belgian) - 9.5
Flat 12 - Tangerine Porter (sweet) - 9.5 (beer 3,000)
Saint-Bock Brasserie Artisanale - Croisade (robust) - 10.0

Sour Ales: Lambic Style - Fruit | Sour/Wild Ale | Berliner Weisse | Lambic Style - Gueuze | Lambic Style - Faro | Lambic Style - Unblended
Before we get into this, here's some comments and a personal observation about Cantillon. I think it's really good product. However before it became very popular, I thought a lot of the beers were solid say 8.0 or higher. Not the insane eyes-rolling-back-in-your-head, must have at any price, flavor. I do know Cantillon is expanding, which is great, but I also hope it doesn't affect the quality. I am reminded of a Belgian Trappistbeer producer, that when they were given the appellation "best beer in the world" they ramped up production to meet the crazy demand. With a slight, but still discernible, negative effect on their overall flavor.

4    Cantillon Saint Lamvinus    Lambic Style - Fruit  
  This was an 8.5 in 2011, at Monks in Philly.
5    Russian River Supplication    Sour/Wild Ale   
  A 9.5 at the brewery.
6    Cantillon Lou Pepe Framboise    Lambic Style - Fruit
  This was a 9.5 at Moerder Lambic 2014.
10    3 Fonteinen Oude Geuze Vintage (all from 2002-*)
 Have tried various "vintage" dates of 1997, 1999, 2007; all a solid 9.0 - 10.0
11    Cantillon Iris    Lambic Style - Unblended    
  Had the 2007 in 2011, and as much as I may criticize those 
  on the Cantillon bandwagon (or beerwagon?) it's a 10.0
13    3 Fonteinen Oude Geuze Golden Blend   
  This was rated a 9.0
14    Oude (Gueuze Tilquin) à l’Ancienne  
  A 9.5 out of 10.0

Try any of the following. Note that for some, a beer with a sour flavor is best served with a dish like roast chicken or turkey. Or strong cheese.
Bavik - Wittekerke Winter White - 10.0
Elysian - Maelstrom Blood Orange Ale (Apocalypse Series) - 9.5
Wicked Weed - Black Angel Cherry Sour - 10.5
Cantillon - Bruocsella Grand Cru - 10.2
Brouwerij van Steenberge - Monk's Cafe Flemish Sour Ale - 10.0
Alvinne - Phi φ - 10.0
Wild Ale:
Odell - Friek - 10.0
Allagash - Interlude 2015 - 9.5
De Proef - Flemish Primitive Wild Ale - 9.5
Berliner Weisse:
Berliner - Kindl Weisse - 10.0
Hausbrauerei Feierling - Unser Obergeriges - 10.0
Night Shift - Ever Weisse - 10.0
  A purist my decry it, but all true Berliners have theirs 
  Weisse "mit schusse" (with juice). 
Lambic Style - Gueuze:
Lindemans - Cuvée René Oude Geuze Lambic Ale - 10.5
Boon - Oude Geuze - 10.0
3 Fonteinen - Oude Geuze 1999 - 10.0
Horal - Oude Geuze - 9.5
Lambic Style - Faro:
3 Fonteinen - Faro - 10.0
Cantillon - Faro - 9.0
Brouwerij De Troch - Chapeau Faro Lambic - 8.0
Good luck finding a Faro, it's a very uncommon style.
Lambic Style - Unblended:
de Dolle - Oerbier - 10.0
Nitro - Bourbonic Plague - 10.0
Cantillon - Iris (2007 in 2011) - 10.0
Geuze-Stekerij De Cam - Oude Lambiek 2009 (2014) - 10.0
Double Mountain  - Rainiers Kriek - 10.0 (SRM 4 "golden kriek" w/ Mt. Rainier cherries!)
Girardin - Kriek (2010) - 10.0
Boon - Oude Kriek - 10.0
3 Fonteinen - Kriek (2010) - 9.5
Van Honsebrouck Castle Brewery - St. Louis Kriek Premium Lambic - 9.5
Sixpoint - Mad Scientist #16 Smoked Sour Beer Lichtenhainer - 10.0
This is a sour rauchbier, and is quite amazing with the right food.

Belgian Session: Belgian Ale | Saison | Bière de Garde | Abbey Dubbel
Considering that Belgian beers are our favorite... was surprised had not had many of these. Although I personally make the distinction between say "Belgian" and "Belgian style."

14    Upright Flora Rustica (Barrel Aged)    Saison    Upright Brewing       
  Have not had the barrel aged version of the regular version was 9.0
15    Orval    Belgian Ale    Brasserie d'Orval       
This was 9.0

Any of these are good. The only precaution is know your source/store. Most beers are adversely affected by poor transport/storage conditions.
Belgian Ale:
Rodenbach - Vintage 2010 - 10.0
de Prof - Gageleer - 10.0
Bush (Scaldis) - Amber - 10.0
Rabbits Foot Meadey brewed by Red Branch - Diabahl - 9.5
Hopus - Moeder Overste - 9.5
Rodenbach - Gran Cru - 9.5
Birra Del Borgo - L'Equilibrista 2012 (in 2014) - 10.0
Kleinbrouweru de Glazen Toren - Saison d'Erpe-Mere - 10.0
DuPont - Foret Organic Saison Moinette Biologique - 9.5
Brasserie a Vapeur, - Saison de Pipaix - 9.5
Bière de Garde:
Brasserie Duyck à Jenlain - Jelain Amber French Farmhouse Ale - 10.0
Brasserie Theillier - La Bavaisienne French Farmhouse Ale - 9.5
Abbey Dubbel:
Westmalle - Westmalle Dubbel - 10.0
Adelbert's Brewing - Dancin' Monks - 9.5

Belgian Strong: Belgian Strong Ale | Abbey Tripel | Abt/Quadrupel |
1    Westvleteren 12 (XII)    Abt/Quadrupel    Westvleteren Abdij St. Sixtus
  An 11.0 out of 10.0; at the brewery; eating the monk's bread; and cheese also. 
  And a vintage 2001 bottle was a solid 10.5 (in 2011).
2    Rochefort Trappistes 10    Abt/Quadrupel    
  An 8.5 out of 10.0
3    St. Bernardus Abt 12    Abt/Quadrupel    
  A 9.0 in the bottle.
4    Struise Pannepot    Belgian Strong Ale    De Struise Brouwers
  If you mean Pannepot Old Fisherman's Ale, then 7.5 (2010 vintage in 2010).
5    Westvleteren Extra 8    Belgian Strong Ale    
  Technically a "Trappist dubbel" and a 10.5 out of 10.0; at the brewery; 
  eating the monk's bread; and cheese.
8    Rochefort Trappistes 8    Belgian Strong Ale  
 A solid 8.0, and at the Kulminator in Antwerp we were able to try a 2001 in 2011.
9    Mikkeller Nelson Sauvignon    Belgian Strong Ale    Mikkeller
  Surprised to see of the 4 beers I've had with "Nelson" in the name, this was not one of them.
10    De Dolle Stille Nacht    Belgian Strong Ale    De Dolle Brouwers 
  Pretty good, ages well, ranges from 10.0 (2005 drank in 2007 & 2008) to 8.5 (2009 in 2011)
11    Chimay Bleue (Blue) / Grande Réserve    Belgian Strong Ale  
  A consistent 8.5, whether fresh or a 2005 in 2014; although a 
  1999 in 2014 was a 7.0 but quite drinkable.
12    Gouden Carolus Cuvee Van De Keizer Blauw/Blue 
  A 9.5 beer.
13    Tripel Karmeliet    Abbey Tripel    Brouwerij Bosteels
  A consistent 8.5; harder to find on tap in Belgium VS USA.
15    La Trappe Quadrupel    Abt/Quadrupel    De Koningshoeven
Did not have the oak-aged version, but this was a 9.5 in Geel.

All of the brews noted below you will find quite enjoyable, some are limited release and/or limited availability so I can't guarantee you'll find it.
Belgian Strong Ale:
Het Anker - Gouden Carolus Classic - 10.5
de Dochter van de Korenaar - Embrasse, peated oak aged (dark) - 10.5
Hof Ten Dormal - Barrel aged Project No 11 aged in Armagnac barrels - 10.1
Landtsheer Malheur - Malheur Dark Brut Dark Reserve (dark) - 10.0
Picobrouweru Alvinne - Cuvée D'Erpigny - 10.0
Deschutes - Marooned Belgian (Belgian-style) - 10.0
Struise Breweries - Tsjeeses Reserva '13 - 9.1
Abbey Tripel:
D'Ebly - Corne du Bois des Pendus La Triple 10 - 10.0
Hoegaarden - Grand Cru Tripel - 10.0
Chimay - 500 Tripel - 10.0
Guy Pirlot - Kempish Vuur - 10.0
Bush (Scaldis) Dubuisson - Scaldis Blonde Ale Tripel - 10.0
Zot - Bruges Zot Tripel - 9.5
Grobbendonk - Grobbendonk Tripel - 9.5
de Block - Demdermonde - 9.5
Hof ten Dormal - Barrel aged Project 13 Cognac - 10.0
Brouwerij van Steenberge - Gulden Draak Quad 9000 - 10.0
Malheur - 12 - 9.7
Koningsjoven - La Trappe Quercus Quadrupel 2011 (in 2104) - 9.5
Ommegang - Three Philosophers - 9.5
Het Nest - KlevereTien 10 - 9.3

American Amber/ Pale: American Pale Ale | Amber Ale
1    Three Floyds Zombie Dust    American Pale Ale 
  This my dear readers is a 10.0; there're certainly a 
  mystique associated with it, but it's definitely very good
3    Hill Farmstead  Edward    India Pale Ale (IPA) [update, added this one]
  May 2 at Armsby Abbey (as I said, try ones you haven't) - a 9.2
4    Three Floyds Alpha King    American Pale Ale 
  I have had this in a bottle, on tap at the brewery, and from a 
  gravity-fed cask the brewery; the last is a definite 9.5
6    Maine Beer MO    American Pale Ale    
  It does not say it is the same as "Mo Better Pale Ale," but that was a good 8.5
11    Maine Beer Zoe    Amber Ale       
  This a good 7.0 with a rather high ABV of 7.2%

Another category that I had not had many of the beers in although I am pleased to see that my scoring personal scoring dropped fairly linearly from number 1 (at 10.0) down to number 11 (at 7.0).
Pale Ale:
New Glarus - Moon Man No Coast Pale Ale - 9.5 (get it, they're landlocked?! Jocularity)
Bronx - Black Pale Ale (black) - 10.0
Trillium - Little Rooster - 10.0
Hallertau Brewery - Minimis - 9.5
Amber Ale:
Tröegs - Nugget Nectar (imperial) - 9.9
Hooker - Nor'Easter - 9.5
Deschutes - Twilight Summer Ale - 9.5

Wheat: German Hefeweizen | Wheat Ale | Weizen Bock | Belgian White (Witbier) | German Kristallweizen
1    Schneider Aventinus    Weizen Bock    Weissbierbrauerei G. Schneider & Son   
  This was a 9.0
5    Crooked Stave St. Bretta (Spring)    Belgian White (Witbier)  
  Only had the Autumn at 9.5; wish it didn't cost so dearly in CT.
9    Weihenstephaner Hefe Weissbier    German Hefeweizen       
  This was a good 7.0 hefe.
10    Three Floyds Gumballhead    Wheat Ale    
  7.5 at the brewery, 8.0 from a bottle.
15    Mikkeller Not Just Another Wit    Belgian White (Witbier)
  An 8.5 at the Beer Temple, Amsterdam.

Get out whenever, and find one of these.
Scheffel - Scheffel Hefeweizen - 10.0
Fish Tale Brew Pub - Whistling Pig Hefeweizen - 9.5
Sonne - Ever-Weisse - 9.5 (beer 1,400)
Wheat Ale:
Faust Brewing - Ginger Honey Wheat - 10.0
Weizen Bock:
Kinshachi Brewing - Imperial Chocolate Weizen - 10
Belgian White (Witbier):
Dijk Waert - Trouw Brouw - 10.0
Brasserie Lefevre - Blanche de Bruxelles - 10.0
Bavik - Wittekerke Winter White - 10.0
German Kristallweizen:
Titanic - Iceberg - 9.5
Paulaner - Weizen Kristall - 9.0
Binding - Schöfferhofer Weizen Kristall - 8.5

Dark Lager: Dunkel/Tmavý | Schwarzbier | Amber Lager/Vienna | Oktoberfest/Märzen | Polotmavý
1    Ayinger Oktober Fest-Märzen    Oktoberfest/Märzen    Brauerei Aying
  This was an 8.0; tried it befor I was tracking dates.
5    Ayinger Altbairisch Dunkel    Dunkel/Tmavý    Brauerei Aying
  Nope, did try one with the same name from a brewpub in Berlin - Lindenbräu.

Try any of these below.
Hausbrauerei Domhof - Dunkel - 9.0
All Saints - Voodoo's Child - 9.0
Kronenhof Hofgut - Brauhaus Graf Zeppelin - Dunkles - 9.0
Paulaner - Münchner Dunkel - 8.5
Salm Bräu Brauerei - Bohemian Mix - 8.5
Hallertau Brewery - 4 Deception - 9.0
Krušovice - Schwarzbier Austschevhien - 9.0
Köstritzer - Schwarzbier - 8.5
Märkischer Landmann - Schwarzbier - 8.5
Amber Lager/Vienna:
Metropolitan - Lillie's Q Brew - 9.5
Leinenkugel - Big Eddy Über-Oktoberfest - 10.0
Great Dane - Märzen - 9.5

Cider & Perry: Cider | Perry | Ice Cider/Ice Perry |
Nope. I mean I have had some and liked most; just didn't track them.

Traditional: Traditional Ale | Sahti/Gotlandsdricke/Koduõlu | Grodziskie/Gose/Lichtenhainer
7    Dogfish Head Sahtea    Traditional Ale  
  A 5.5 and strong at 9.00 ABV.
11    Traquair Jacobite Ale    Traditional Ale    Traquair House
  A good 7.0
13    Westbrook Gose    Grodziskie/Gose/Lichtenhainer   
  It's a 9.0

Unusual styles to be sure, but those below are a good bet.
Traditional Ale:
Dogfish Head - Chateau Jiahu - 8.0
Sixpoint Brewery - Mad Scientist #19 Sahti - 10.0
Titletown - 26.2 - 9.6
Sadly, made it to Germany in 2014, but not to Leipzig, home of the Gose style.

No Mead or Sake
Don't really like the first (although beers from the Rabbit's Foot Meadery are very good)
Also try these other styles or variants of beer, that did not make the RateBeer list.
Belgian Flanders Ale:
Mestreechs - Aajt - 10.0
Rodenbach - Rodenbach - 9.5
Brouwerij Verhaeghe - Duchesse de Burgogne - 9.5
Browerij De Bockor - Cuvée des Jacobins Rouge - 9.5
Cream Ale:
Cigar City - Batch 69 Double Cream Ale - 10.0
Nut Brown Ale:
Carlsberg - Jacobsen Brown Ale - 9.5
French Farmhouse:
Brasserie Duyck à Jenlain - Jelain Amber French Farmhouse Ale - 10.0
Brasserie Theillier - La Bavaisienne French Farmhouse Ale - 9.5
Red Ale:
Flossmoor Station Brewery - Panama Limited Red Ale - 10.0
Orkney Brewery - Red MacGregor - 9.5
Hawkshead Brewery - Red - 9.5
Scotch Ale:
Bridgeport - Highland Ambush - 10.0
Great Divide Brewing Co - Claymore Scotch Ale - 9.5
Silly - Port Barrel Aged Scotch Ale - 9.5
Oyster Stout:
Scheldebrouwerij - Oesterstout - 9.5
Kräusen Lager:
Hoepfner Brauerei - Kräusen - 9.0
Piece - It's Your Fault Alt - 10.0
Diebels - Alt - 9.5
Gentse Stadsbrouwerij - Belgian Wit - 7.0
I mean you could call this "spice" or "herb" but it's name is gruit or gruut.
1516 Brewing Company - Saphir Dry (Wölsch Weisse) - 10.0
Long Trail - Brown Bag #5 Lemon Pepper Kölsch - 10.0
Cölner Hofbräu Früh - Früh Kölsch - 8.5
Privatbrauerei Gaffel Becker - Kölsch - 8.0
Steam/California Common:
Baxter - Baxter Tarnation - 9.5
Anchor Brewing Co. - Anchor Steam Beer - 9.0

So what's next on your list?

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Monks and Panthers

Had a nice trip, or actually two trips in March, back-to-back. The first one was to Philadelphia PA, to give a talk at a company I used to work for; and later in the week down to Charlotte, North NC.

Since I arrived at noon at the Philly airport the day before my talk, what else was there do but take a taxi downtown, to the incomparable Monk's Café.

As luck would have it, it was St. Patrick's Day, and Philadelphia does have a rich Irish heritage. Although, truth be told, my plan was to mostly drink Belgian beers because that is one of the many things Monk's is famous for.

It is also famous for good food and friendly people and great service etc. but I was there for the Belgian beer.  When I first arrived, it was not very busy, which is always good; and was able to get a prime seat at the 1st floor bar. Also by some strange happenstance, I actually had nothing green on, not even my socks or underwear. The friendly hostess at Monk's offered me a giant Cat-in-the-Hat-style green and white striped chapeau, to which I politely refused.

And even though I wanted Belgian beer, I first started with this.

Brooklyn    Wild Horse Porter w/ brettanomycetes     Ale, Porter, London    6.5%    [8.9]*
{*score on an openeded scale of 1-10, resolution 0.1}

Chatted with several people about beer and Monk's, and the weather, it was really having a great time. About that moment a large group of folks came in wearing, of course, green shirts and some green hats. These folks were happy and drinking and having a great time; what was kind of scary and someone else commented later; this was their first stop of 18 today; and a few them were already quite intoxicated. Good luck and God bless reaching pub number 18.

Ironically, the next beer was not Belgian either.

Haanbryggeriet    Haandbaak    Ale, Flemish Sour    8.5%    [8.7]

Ordered some food, a nice steak salad; I do this point regret not ordering the classic steamed mussels at Monk's, which are superlative.

Settled down into a routine of several Belgian beers after this.

De La Senne    Band of Brothers    Ale, Belgian Pale    4%    [8.8]    only on at 24 bars 
De La Senne    Jambe de Bois    Ale, Belgian Tripel    8%    [9.1]    
Struise Breweries    Tsjeeses Reserva '13    Ale, Belgian Strong    10%    [9.1]

Since they had a brochure for Moeder Lambic, I told the bartender and several people the story about how last year we were on vacation in Brussels, and drank there, and stayed at the Metropole Hotel.

It was only a month or so ago we found out that in one of my uncle's letters from WWII, he also stayed at the same hotel as we did; although separated by several decades!

What's interesting is in reviewing my notes, I realized I had beer #400 here a few years before with some friends, in 2007. What was even more interesting is the same beer is still available. And what was slightly shocking (but not surprising) is the same beer that was $25 back then, was now $50. I did share with several people in the bar, as is our custom.

Landtsheer Malheur    Malheur Brut Reserve    Ale, Belgian Strong    12%    [9.8]

Then in looking at my notes, I asked the bartender if her name was "X" (that is not her name I am just not putting it here).

It was and she was the same person who served me and some friends, way back in 2007.
Hasn't aged a pico-second.

What a rush, as was the beer; this was #5,879 by-the-way.

What I love about having a large bottle - or three - is sharing. You can share with other people around you, share with the bartender to try it (if allowed).

Silly    Port Barrel Aged Scotch Ale    Ale, Belgian Scotch    9%    [9.5]

One of the patrons shared theirs with me; he was more of a stronger porter/stout fan, and I think it was actually quite good; and even better, it was Belgian.

I decided, even though we have several bottles at home, I did not have this particular Cantillon beer. Extremely good, and much like the open-ended Richter scale, sometimes there's a beer that I rate above 10 on my 1 - 10 personal scale.

Cantillon    Bruocsella Grand Cru    Ale, Belgian Flemish Sour    5%    [10.2] 

Also note that recently I change my scale, so instead of using just 0.5, the increments are 0.1 for better resolution. Nothing anyone cares but that's why the score is 10.2 as opposed to 10.5!

Had a couple more Belgian beers, actually another one rated above 10.

Malheur    12    Ale, Belgian Quadrupel     12%       [9.7] 

Hof Ten Dormal  Barrel Aged #11 Armagnac Ale, Belgian Strong, Dark  12%   [10.1]   

Parenthetically I should add if you have never had Armagnac, it's worth trying. It's a variant of cognac not made in the Cognac region of France, and it has some slight differences in flavor. On our bartenders advice, she suggested the final beer not Belgian, but quite good and I agree it was.

Firestone Walker    Double Barrel    Ale, Strong, American    12%    [9.1]

The next morning, got to chat with some people I hadn't seen in 15 years or more, and had a successful meeting.

A few days later, headed down to Charlotte to give a similar lecture; hence the title of this particular chapter: Monks and Panthers as in Monk's Café and the Carolina Panthers.

As I got in early, tried a few local beers, nothing too fancy as this was the Hilton after all. Sadly in most chain hotels, as nice as they are, they have a beer selections that is nothing to write home about.

Olde Mecklenburg    Copper Amber Ale    Ale, Amber, American    4.8%    [6.7]
Olde Mecklenburg    Southside Weisse    Ale, Wheat, American    4.8%    [7.3]
NoDa    Woody & Wilcox IPA    Ale, IPA, American    6.2%    [8.0]  

Based on my reconnaissance, (and trust me, if Rommel planned as well as I did, well, you get the picture) I had several places in mind to get to. A quick taxi ride took me to Growlers Pour House.

For a snack/lunch I had their version of Poutine, which was delicious. And possibly as far South as you'll get it.

They had a very nice selection of local beers as well as regional; Also it was interesting to see how this state's laws allow growers to be filled in a bar.

Terrapin and New Belgium    Black is the New Wit   Ale, Wheat, Dunkel    8.2%    [8.1]   
Duck Rabbit    Baltic Porter    Ale, Porter, Baltic    9%    [9.8]    stylistically almost perfect 
North Coast    Puck the Beer Petite Saison    Ale, Saison    4%    [6.2] 
Terrapin    Rye Pale Ale    Ale, Pale, Rye    5.5%    [8.0] 
NoDa    Ramble on Red    Ale, Red    5%    [7.5] 

And yes, I was taking the temperature of some beers, because I do get obsessed sometimes.

I did leave Growlers planning to go to Salud, which is a short walk away. I did not realize that in between the two was Revolution Alehouse.

Tried the following two beers, the Gose was actually quite good; a slight saltiness without being forced.

Birdsong    Higher Ground    Ale, IPA, American    7%   [8.7] 
Champion     Face Eater    Gose    5%    [8.5]

For dinner had their capresé salad pizza with balsamic vinegar, which was recommended by Jerimiah, and was delicious without being too heavy.

Headed over to the Salud beer shop, where you can buy to go, as well as drink beer there. They're planning on having a kitchen soon, so if you live in the area, check them out in the next few months.

Started out with a personal favorite from an Asheville NC brewpub - Wicked Weed.

Wicked Weed    Dirty Weeds    Ale, IPA, Black    6.8%     [8.6]

Then several of these other beers.

Haw River   NoHoldsies Holdsie Sans  Ale, Belgian Tripel  8.2%  [7.5]  3rd anniversary
Bruery  Seven Swans a Swimming 7  Ale, Belgian Quadrupel  11%  [7.3]  boozy!

The last place to walk down to was the Heist brewery.

As it was getting late, and I had to talk the next morning, did not have too many here, only one.

Heist Brewery    Out to Pasture    Ale, Saison    7.5%    [7.5] 

I'll be back some other time, and they're not leaving anytime.

Did try the pork belly corndogs as a snack for bedtime, and then tried their unusual smoked drinks (Smoked Noda Manhattan)...

...on the advice of a local enthusiastic patron - it was fantastic.

Should have, but couldn't stay longer.

As a postscript I discovered the world of Uber. When I asked if the hostess if she could call cab, she asked if I've heard of Uber.

I said yes, but I didn't have an account; she quickly should me how to sign up, and within 4 minutes I was heading back to hotel. And as it was my first Uber ride, It was free!

So go to see some old friends, drum up new business, and drink several good beer at some spectacular places.