Showing posts with label beer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label beer. Show all posts

Founders Porter

Brewery: Founders Brewing Company
ABV: 6.5%
IBUs: 45

Today I'm reviewing a beer that's a bit more of a standard, but this does nothing to diminish its impact. I feel like beers that are more widely distributed or are available in six packs get a bit of a bad rap from some craft beer geeks. While I'm always hunting down fancy 750ml bottles of limited beers, I also appreciate getting six of the same delicious beer for a good price. When Founders announced they'd be arriving in Florida, I was thrilled. This beer has been worth the wait.

Founders Porter has a bit more of a hoppy kick than some other porters, but it blends nicely with the smoothness of malt and makes for a great drinking experience. The smooth, dark brown liquid tingles nicely on the tip of my tongue. It's not something I can drink thoughtlessly but it's not a strong and challenging flavor either. In other words, it's ideal sipping beer, which is just what I wanted today.

While drinking this, I'm listening to "Mixed Emotions" by Søren, which is part of this month's free download series from electronic/industrial/noise/etc label, Ascetic House. Each day this month a new cassette is being released for purchase. At the end of the day, the tape is taken out of the store. In addition to the tape sales, each day a new album is added to the website for free download. These albums are often rare or out of print releases, making the download quite welcome. While it's not aggressive metal, this music pairs nicely with an equally smooth and deep beer.

Rei Rea- "Selected Works I: Still Suns" CS (Union Finale)

In mid-December I was contacted by Rei Rea, inquiring about the possibility of a review. While I always give a look and listen to emails I receive, I was particularly captivated by the unique fusion of sounds and visuals. You see, Rei Rea serves as the musical output of visual artist Christian Dubé. With knowledge of his works as a painter and general madman, it's impossible to listen to "Selected Works I: Still Suns" without imagining the music as some kind of visual music. While I often experience music in colors and patterns, it's rare that I imagine the creator using some sort of sonic brush strokes, but this album makes perfect sense in that context.

Drone and noise are terms that come to mind, but Rei Rea's work rarely commits itself to an easily categorized set of sounds. Instead, the elements of each song leave trails through multiple sets of sounds, frequently unsettling and troubling, but rarely horrific, allowing an experience that is unique while still relatively familiar. I find this album is one that either warrants headphones or a great sound system, as immersing oneself in the anxiety-inducing atmospheres here yields far greater results than simply dipping one's toes in it. Tracks like "Throne of Papa" introduce just enough beauty to keep the listener optimistic, if not even instilling a sense of euphoria. This elation is mostly to balance out the dread, which comes in waves between the moments of respite. Still, this is not the relentless horror of so many artists working with noise. This is more of the monotony of working for life only to die poor. This is a sonic painting in broad strokes of grey, brown, rust red, and black. Pain and suffering are present, but are accompanied by the small joys and moments of personal satisfaction. Perhaps Rei Rea is exactly this outlet for Dubé, the place away from the chaos.

The artist recommended pairing this album with an IPA, but I've been quite under the weather lately and have not been able to drink much of anything other than tea. That said, I'll recommend the exact beer he shared with me in an email conversation. It's not locally available for me, but he says it's quite potent. Rei Rea recommends drinking Le Castor Brewing Company's Yakima IPA. It's a Montreal-based brewery, so those of us in the United States might struggle to find it, but I hope my friends up north can enjoy a bottle while listening to this album. Cassette copies are available from Union Finale, and each tape comes with a large poster of the album art, making it a total steal. Stream the album here if my words aren't enough to convince you.

Innis & Gunn's Scottish Porter

Brewery: Innis & Gunn
ABV: 7.4%
IBUs: Not given

Innis & Gunn has graced this website before with some of its deceptively simple and wonderful beers. Due to the relatively low price and high quality of their standard drinks, they've become a staple in my home. When I saw this one in a store, I grabbed it for my partner, as this brewery is one of our shared favorites and porters are her preferred style.

While this Scottish porter is not at all like the darker, thicker porters we're used to drinking, the sweetness of molasses definitely shows at moments here. Additionally, the body is thinner and lighter in color than your average heavy porter, which makes for an easier drinking experience, but may not impress people looking for dark and heavy beers. The oak aging shows a bit with a light whiskey characteristic on the aftertaste, although I'm not sure if there was whiskey in the barrels before this beer was aged in them.

We enjoyed this slightly sweet and slightly tart beer while watching classic Dark Tranquillity videos. While their music is slightly edgy, the accessibility and harmony of their music pairs nicely with this beer which might impress beer geeks and beer newcomers alike.

Suede Imperial Porter

Breweries: 10 Barrel, Stone Brewing, and Bluejacket
ABV: 9.6%
IBUS: 50

Today, I decided to sample this special collaborative beer as a way of celebrating the nearly 3,000 visitors (and over 100 Facebook fans) I received yesterday after posting the first of my end of the year roundups. It's not often I get more than two hundred visitors a day, and I seldom receive more than two or three likes in a productive week. With this in mind, I initially set out to film a video of myself sampling a beer. The video was taken, but I think I need to work on my "stage fright" (so to speak) before I try to incorporate video of myself onto this website.

I purchased this beer about a month ago, as I trust almost anything with a Stone label, and I'm always excited to try new breweries, especially when they're collaborating with a brewery I love and trust. Neither 10 Barrel nor Bluejacket receives much (any?) distribution down here in Florida, so it was an added bonus to discover some new talent. As a fan of dark beer, I think this will be up my alley enough to review for many newcomers to get a feel for what I do. While drinking this beer, I perused tunes from spacey krautrock and drone inspired rockers The Cosmic Dead, at a friend's recommendation. Sufficiently psychedelic, and appropriately new to me for such a new and exciting beer.

Upon initial pour, the beer is quite fragrant, yet nothing too strong is revealed outside of the traditional porter style. For a beer with as many unique and compelling ingredients as Suede boasts, I'm surprised that the flavors aren't more pronounced. However, this isn't necessarily a complaint, as the rich yet sweet balance that is created (mostly from the avocado honey, I assume) works like a charm, providing a smooth drinking experience. I've never had calendula flower in anything before, so I'm not entirely certain what to be searching for with that, but the jasmine is probably too subtle to be a dominant flavor in something as bold as an imperial porter. The beer is rather syrupy in its body, but there are no syrupy flavors fortunately, just a pleasant sensation in my mouth. This is definitely delicious, although not so much of a groundbreaking beer as it is a thoroughly enjoyable take on a familiar format. If I gained nothing else from this beer, it's that I need to add 10 Barrel and Bluejacket to my list of breweries to seek out.

Sierra Nevada Brewing Company's Narwhal Imperial Stout (2013 Ed.)

Hey readers. Perhaps you feel my beer reviews have been a bit repetitive. I know they've felt a bit redundant to me. I'm a metal connoisseur but a relative amateur in the world of beer. That said, it's silly of me to repeat the same basic set of terms for these reviews while I'm going all over the place with my music reviews. A good brewer has just as much artistic integrity and passion as any musician, so I'm going to try to spice my beer reviews up a bit in honor of the fine folks who have committed themselves to their craft.

Narwhal strikes me as a great beer to use for a renewed attempt at writing great reviews, because it's a fantastic take on one of my favorite styles of beer. The aroma's rich and textured, with multiple accents playing off each other. There aren't any peculiar or groundbreaking changes on the typical imperial stout formula, but this is a very well made beer in that it's a full experience. The liquid is thinner and the flavor is smoother than I would have anticipated, making for a surprisingly easy sipping dark beer despite its heavy nose and ten percent alcohol content. Grab a four-pack of this at your favorite beer retailer--it's Sierra Nevada so it should be pretty widely available.

Southern Tier Brewing Company's Plum Noir Imperial Porter.

Hey folks. It's been a while since I've shared a good drink on here, and what better beer than one I've had sitting in my fridge for nearly five months? When I saw Southern Tier's Plum Noir in the store, I knew I had to have it. However, I also made the mistake of putting it on a pedestal and refusing to drink it until circumstances made for the perfect moment. What I should have been doing was including this in my semi-regular drinking routine.

The beer pours as dark as the "Noir" in the name would imply, with a frothy head that parts way just enough to allow for a decent sip. The nose is surprisingly floral for such a dark beer, and the sweetness of the plums does little to detract from its bitterness, but instead broadens the overall experience. Given that plums are a fruit with such a deep flavor, it's nice to see them getting attention here. There's also the slight coffee note that commonly accompanies darker porters. It works perfectly here. There's a light fizziness that's barely present but just noticeable enough on the tip of my tongue, and there's just an overall pleasant balance to the whole thing. Southern Tier's Blackwater Series is proving to be consistent and fantastic and just experimental enough to intrigue without confusing the palate. While it definitely might be appealing to a niche audience, it's worth trying for any passionate drinkers.

Evil Twin Brewing- Lil' B Imperial Porter

This beer serves as an appropriate way for me to get back to my old hobby of reviewing tasty new beers. It's been a while simply because I've been short on funds and beer isn't cheap. That said, Evil Twin Brewing has been on my "must try" list for quite a while now, and I'm a sucker for beers that pay tribute to musicians, even if they aren't familiar to me. I know Lil' B is a popular rapper, but that's about the beginning and the end of it. Regardless, I decided to snag this brew as a good imperial porter is always welcome in my stomach.

Lil' B (the beer) pours a nice dark brown with a thin, tan head. The nose is relatively subtle and malty, although each sip displays heavy toffee and caramel flavors, with a thinner presence than the darkness would imply. The beer's eleven and a half percent alcohol content is well masked by the sweetness and richness of the flavors, but it can obviously be felt. I'm not sure if this beer is available in a larger bottle, but I probably wouldn't want any more than this drink offers, as it would surely overwhelm both my palate and my alcohol tolerance. While I know almost nothing about the musician with whom this beer shares its name, I'm all for anybody who inspires such a delicious drink. Grab a bottle if you can find it, it's worth getting.

Recent drinks: Mother's Day Edition

As with each post I make, these are a few delicious drinks I enjoyed over the course of this past week. Today, however, I decided to focus on beers that reminded me of my mom. My mother has made her living as a gardener for most of her adult life, and while she isn't exactly a drinker, I decided to pick some delicious beers that featured fruits, flowers, and herbs in the mix. Since I live across the country from her, this post functions as both a guide to some unique beers and a tribute to the woman who raised me to be unafraid of my own eccentricities. She's also responsible for introducing me to the first heavy metal song I can recall hearing, so all of this might well be her "fault." Thanks mom. Here's to you!

He'brew Rejewvenator 2013 (Shmaltz)
As is always the case with new He'Brew drinks, this beer had my interest the second I knew it existed. Being sold as a Dubbel Doppel,this beer follows in He'Bew's bold tradition of playing with unconventional flavors and mixes in delicious new ways. Utilizing dates and figs as primary flavors in this strange brew proves to be a surprising success, although I'm also picking up a hint of pomegranate in addition to the subtle yet tantalizing bits of date. Overall the beer is on the thinner side of the dark spectrum, with a pretty evenly balanced blend of malt and hops, making for a beer every bit as adventurous as any other He'Brew beer, but slightly more awesome than many others from these guys. Definitely recommended.

MoM Hefeweizen (Rogue)
Between the name of this beer and the theme of this post, this tasty little treat was a necessity. This is pretty much a standard hefeweizen but it's been brewed with rose petals, which definitely play into the smoothness of the drink. Their flavor doesn't really stand out as a dominant taste, but I'm not sure if I would want my beer to have too heavy of a rose flavor. The balance is nice and subtle, which made it quite a pleasant experience. This is solid, pleasant easy drinking, especially on a beautiful Spring day spent on a porch or in the garden.

Bison Organic Honey Basil (Bison)
In keeping with today's gardening theme, this beer was another necessity. It only came into my radar within the past week and the timing couldn't have been more opportune. This one was enjoyed on a beautiful sunny afternoon in my own back yard. The honey and basil flavors don't overwhelm this amber ale, but the notes of spice absolutely play into the overall experience, with sweetness staying subtle but absolutely contributing to the great nose on this beer. This one's a highly refreshing experience if you're into herb or spice-based beers, but might not appeal to more casual drinkers looking for a sweet drink that the honey in the title might imply.

Recent drinks 5/5/13

I know this post's a bit delayed, but with finals week I was drinking a bit less than usual. Now that I'm on the eve of my last final of the semester, things are finally returning to full swing. I'm about to raise a glass here in my own home, but first here's a recap of some drinks I've enjoyed in the past couple weeks.

Stone Smoked Porter (Stone Brewing Company)
For the uninitiated, Stone is not a brewery known for their subtlety. The fact that this beer doesn't pour straight out of the bottle breathing fire is surprising, yet that's not to say that this drink isn't intense. Indeed, with a creamy smokiness more akin to actual wood smoke than the barbecue type of flavor that many other smoked porters carry, this beer is not for the novice drinker. What you'll find here is a dense, delicious, and frothy beer that you can sip slowly on a long night spent in quiet reflection or in the company of good friends. Regardless of the setting, this is definitely one of the better smoked porters out there, period. Grab a bottle and treat yourself properly.

Camp Braggot Ghost Stories (Cigar City/B. Nektar Meadery)
To call this collaborative brew "interesting" or "creative" would be doing it a disservice. The beer pours far darker than I would have anticipated, with an almost fruity nose and a full foamy head. The marshmallow characteristic that is so often associated with this beer is absolutely present, but less so than I had expected. Instead, this is a well-rounded, albeit very sweet, dark and delicious beer. The honey flavor is strong, but not so strong that I would advise non-mead drinkers away from it. Instead, view this as an intriguing and successful experiment in the art of brewing. I'd be delighted to see this one again, although knowing Cigar City's affinity for limited run beers, I doubt it will be any time soon.

Xingu Black Beer
Xingu seems to be a one-beer kinda brewery, so no need to list who makes it. This one caught my eye because my semester's ending and I seem to desire things that are foreign or otherwise "exotic" right now. Clearly my subconscious wants a vacation. With this in mind, I thought to myself that I'd never had a Brazilian beer before. Now I have. It's surprisingly smooth for being a darker beer, yet it's not too light on the palate either. If I wanted something I could sip on for hours, I'd go for this. It's dark without being unpleasant on a hot day.

Dragonhead Stout (Orkney)
This one was purchased based on the label and the fact that I haven't had many Scottish beers. I mean, I love stouts, and it's got a warship or something on it. The beer doesn't disappoint either. It's thick and heavy as crude oil yet the 4%ABV means you can sit with a couple of them in a row without it knocking you out. A really good stout for the times when you might want a smooth yet heavy drink that sits in your stomach like a small meal.

Recent Drinks

Forgive all the delays, dear friends and readers. As some of you may have noticed, I disappeared for a week to attend my cousin's wedding in California. I drank a handful of great beers there, but basically took minimal notes and don't really feel I could write anything sufficient on them. I may post my abbreviated notes soon for your consideration anyway, but in the meantime, here's a bit of what I've enjoyed at home in the days before and after my trip.

5 Golden Rings (The Bruery)
This surprisingly sweet golden ale tastes as if it has far more than five rings of pineapple sitting in each sip. An element of nutmeg or cinnamon is definitely present, but the pineapple juice is a dominant flavor that makes this drink more like a cider than a Belgian style ale. While I wouldn't go for this every day, I definitely was in the mood for it when I consumed it. This is the first I've had of their 12 beers of Christmas, and I'm definitely excited to see what they come up with later this year.

Vitus (Weihenstephaner)
I'm not going to lie and pretend that I didn't totally buy this for its name. I mean, I'm not the king of doomsters, but I love St. Vitus, which is exactly what I'm listening to while I drink this. The beer's got a massively foamy head, yet a really light body. The yeasty and sweet, almost banana-like flavor of this beer caught me off guard, but it's definitely up my alley. I'm so frequently shying away from lighter beers or anything "wheat" heavy, but I clearly need to change it up, because this one is deceptively tasty.

White Monkey Tripel (Victory)
As someone who has been known for introducing multiple friends to Victory's stellar Golden Monkey beverage, I pretty much was obligated to purchase this beautiful bottle of beer. The beer's amber color is rather accurate for the Belgian tripel style, yet this drink has such complexity that I'm finding a few varying descriptors that all are relatively fair. Since I'm aware that this was aged in oak barrels that once held chardonnay, I can certainly pick out elements of white wine, yet they aren't overwhelming. There's also a bit of mild mango flavor and a slight sugary bite of some sort that I can't quite put my finger on. The bottle indicates that this version is slightly more playful than the original, and I agree. I'm definitely enjoying that there's a lot going on here, but for some reason I can't see this being an every day drink. Instead, much like champagne, I feel this is a special, rare type of drink to be enjoyed from time to time. It's a limited release, so grab it while you're able.

That's it for this week's post. If you want to keep up with my current drinking that might not be featured here (or if you want a sneak peek of things to come), you can add me on Untappd or follow me on twitter. Both of these are full of my thoughts on various drinks, and the twitter account also features rants about awesome music and why being a student is bittersweet. Thanks for reading!

Whiskey Drinker

Greetings readers. Some of you may have noticed that my beer reviews have been slightly less popular than my music reviews. While I'm not eager for popularity necessarily, the popularity of a post does reflect the interests of my readers. With this in mind, I'm changing the nature of my beer-related posts yet again. Unless I experience something quite interesting, I'm going to round up the beers I consumed in any given week with a brief description. This spares me the trouble of writing lengthy reviews for every drink I have and it spares my readers a series of beer posts when it's obvious that most of us are here almost exclusively for extreme music. I'm not sure if this will always be a Sunday thing, but I'm eager to get this started and I think it'll be good fun for all of us. That said, here's what I've been drinking this week.

Evander Brown Ale (Cigar City)
This one has a beautiful caramel body with a thin, almost nonexistent head. The aroma is rather subtle, but the flavor here reminds me of a blunter, more spiced version of the pumpkin beers that show up in the fall. The pumpkin itself is absent, but nutmeg and cinnamon are absolutely dominant flavors in this thin and delicious brown ale. The aftertaste settles in with a light cocoa flavor, somewhat reminiscent of some darker beers I've enjoyed recently from these guys. I'm not always into things that remind me of pie, but this is worth checking out if you're into the style.

Zinneke Belgian Style Stout (Smuttynose)
This beer is ridiculous. It's like somebody made it just for me. I'm not a big whiskey drinker, but bourbon barrel beers just really seem to do it for me. The sweetness of the Belgian yeasts plays nicely with the bitterness of the whiskey barrel as they blend smoothly into a really well-rounded and tasty stout. It's dark, heady, and refreshing. Some people only drink stuff like this in cold weather, but I'm sitting on my sunny porch and loving life right now. Highly recommended, as most Smuttynose Big Beer Series release are.

Positive Contact (Dogfish Head)
This beer is a collaborative effort with and a tribute to rapper Del The Funky Homosapien. While hip-hop and related genres aren't my specialty, I feel the man's legendary status is well-earned and this beer does proper justice. A light and smooth drinker with surprising spice and sweetness from a pairing of cider and cayenne flavors (among many others). Perfect for warm evenings spent in the company of friends. I listened to a tape by No Pleasure in Life while drinking this, but the song this was named after makes quite a good soundtrack too.

Oak Aged Mocha Stout (Peak Organic Brewing Company)

Peak Organic Brewing Company is one of those breweries that has long been on my radar yet never in my fridge, cabinet, or stomach for some reason. Today I decided to change that. While my diet as a whole isn't organic or wholly healthy and environmentally conscious, I try to seek out organic options and I figured this would be as good a place as any to begin my first organic beer review. Although I'm an equal opportunity imbiber, I am often most comfortable when dealing with dark, heavy beers, so I decided that the oak aged mocha stout would be a fantastic introduction to this brewery, and I feel that this was the right decision.

While the beer tastes far more strongly of coffee than chocolate, there is a slight sweetness to offset the bitter hints that come with each sip. Something tells me that the chocolate involved here is a bit darker than the average mocha syrup one might find at a corporate coffee chain. For me, the bitterness is welcome, but for folks wary of the darkness of stouts, this might not be the best introduction to the style. Instead, what Peak have presented is a full-bodied, well crafted coffee stout with a few other subtle characteristics that are quite pleasing to my palate. The alcohol content sits high at 8.4% yet hardly bites the tongue in any way other than the typical intensity of such a beverage. I don't feel this drink is quite as heavy as many similar peers, but to me that isn't much of an issue. Instead, the smoothness adds to the seductive beauty and danger of this fantastic drink.

Hunahpu's Imperial Stout (Cigar City Brewing Company)

I never thought I'd get to write a review of the legendary Hunahpu from Cigar City, but my roommate was lucky enough to obtain a bottle for household sharing. This beer is released one day each year for the public's consumption, and the crowds come in from all around the country. Last year I remember speaking to folks who had traveled down from New York, and I somehow I doubt they had the farthest journey. Blessed with a near-perfect track record with ratings of 100 from pretty much every beer resource, this drink's growing legend seems intent on competing with Pliny the Elder. Regardless, when this showed up in my home, I knew I had to try it.

Hunahpu pours dark, heavy, and with one of the thickest and darkest heads I've ever seen. This beer isn't just a stout, this is a stout for people who like it dark and heavy. In other words, this is possibly one of the most worthy brews featured here. The chocolate aroma is intoxicating, just in case the 11% alcohol isn't high enough. The smoothness of the beer masks the heaviness well, although a heavily roasted flavor lingers on the back of my palate as I swallow each sip. Obviously this beer is being shared between four people right now, and it's still strong enough for each of us. While it tastes good enough to hoard, it's strong enough and worthy of sharing. I doubt most of you will have the opportunity this year, but keep an eye on Cigar City's website and make travel plans for Hunahpu's Day 2014. I promise it'll be worth it.

Brux Domesticated Wild Ale (Russian River/Sierra Nevada)

Today's chapter of the Black Metal and Brews saga focuses on a beer that was purchased for nostalgic purposes. I may have mentioned in the past that I lived about a thousand feet from the legendary Russian River Brewing Company when I was twenty-one years old. My minimal knowledge of beer didn't prevent me from visiting and drinking many a delicious brew at happy hour. In fact, I give great credit to those folks for helping nourish my rapidly growing love and appreciation for beer. Sierra Nevada, too, was another brewery that stood out for me as one of the most consistently enjoyable breweries that I could find readily available at most beer retailers. Now that I live across the country, finding a beer with the Russian River name is almost impossible. I guess I have Sierra Nevada's distribution capacity to thank for this beauty finding its way into my possession.

This collaborative Belgian-style ale is intended to be a beer that can be kept and aged in the bottle, but I'm enjoying it after a mere two months of ageing here in my home. The flavors are light and citrusy, with elements more typical of a cider or champagne, although without the fizzy nature of the latter. Do not interpret the subtlety and lightness for simplicity though, as this beer has a lot more going on than the average lighter beer. As the label indicates, these flavors grow and shift over time, so it's no surprise that there are already many subtle hints of spices hiding throughout each sip. I find this to be perfectly representative of my enjoyment of beer itself in relation to these two timeless breweries. I almost feel that we've all grown together as beer drinkers and that this is a byproduct (yet by no means a culmination) of many years of happy drinking. At 8.3% alcohol by volume, this is certainly a beer I recommend sharing with a friend, which is (once again) perfectly related to the friendship that brought about this beer's creation.

I'm not sure if this is going to be a limited or permanent release, so I recommend jumping on this treat as soon as you're capable. As the flavors are intended to change over time, I urge you to grab at least two bottles so that you can experience the beer's growth as your own palate expands. Perhaps we'll all check back in on this one in a year or two and compare notes.

19 Original Colonies Mead (Chatoe Rogue)

Well, it's time for another first here. I've had a couple bottles of mead in my day, but it's been quite a while, and I've always served them warm, with cinnamon sticks and the whole nine yards. Normally purchasing a bottle of something that claims to be mead that says "serve chilled" would make me slightly anxious, but I've been drinking Rogue's beers for a long time and they've earned my trust. While this is slightly different from my typical understanding of a mead, I'm drinking this and finding it to be quite enjoyable.

This light, sweet, grape-y mead is perfect on a sweltering day like today. The champagne yeast used in this beverage really shows, probably above all of the other ingredients, and it works nicely for a change of pace from my usual habit of dark, dense, beers. While I'm not sure what category this drink should actually be filed under, I'm quite sure it's an enjoyable and not overly alcoholic (5.2% ABV) drink that works perfectly for my palate on a lazy afternoon.  I also have to give extra props to Rogue for cultivating their own honey for this delicious beverage and for keeping their list of ingredients simple. In today's world of overly processed, chemical-infused foods and drinks, it's refreshing to know that I'm consuming something a little truer to humanity's diet of days past. If only all the food we consumed was so simple, perhaps we'd be a healthier and happier society.

This one's been available for a hot minute from what I've heard through the grapevine, but I only first saw it here in Florida a week or so ago, so I recommend grabbing this if and when you find it. If it does happen to stay on shelves for a while, you'll have more opportunities to get it, and if it's a quick seller, you'll be one of the lucky few to enjoy this treat. If you don't live in such a hot region as I do, I recommend hanging onto this beer for a few months until the first truly warm days of spring or summer start to beat down on you.

Imperial Stout (Moa Brewing Company)

To be honest, I'm surprised by this beer. Moa's a brewery based in New Zealand, a nation that I haven't exactly become acquainted with in terms of beer. After reviewing Blood of the Moon last week, I decided that if New Zealand's musical community was surprisingly awesome, perhaps their brews would be equally impressive. My hunch was absolutely correct.

Aged in oak pinot noir barrels, this beer has all of the bite one tends to expect from an imperial stout, with a noticeable hint of pinot's rich, dry sweetness. While it's unlikely you'll ever see a wine review in here (I can't really afford a thirty dollar per bottle habit), I do enjoy a good bottle or glass in my time, so it's nice to see pinot noir fused with a stout. Marrying two of my favorite alcoholic substances is something I often think of, but I've not experienced very many successful executions. Liquor barrels often make for good beers, but I can't think of another wine barrel aged beer that I've consumed in recent days. Inclusion of wine aside, even adventurous drinkers and lovers of stouts will enjoy this rich, fulfilling drink. It's got enough taste to set itself apart from the pack, yet enough of the trademarks of a good imperial stout to sit firmly with folks who aren't looking for something completely off the wall.

This beer is in stock pretty much year round, so I urge you readers to go find yourself a bottle wherever you're able. This may be my first beer from New Zealand, but I don't anticipate it will be my last. International readers, please send me information about some of your favorite local beers. I'd love to start documenting communities that are generally unheard of. Thanks for reading, cheers!

Grolsch Kanon (Grolsche Bierbrouwerij Ned.)

One of the few small unexpected perks that has come with running a blog about things I love is that sometimes I make contact with people who share my interests. One of the more surprising fellows with whom I've made acquaintance is actually a resident of Utrecht, Netherlands, and in addition to geeking out about music with each other, he's apparently a bit of a beer fanatic himself. When he offered to share some of his favorite regional beers, I couldn't deny myself the opportunity. The package took nearly three weeks to arrive, but it contained some music, a t-shirt, and two bottles of exotic and promising new beer. The music and the other bottle of beer will be covered soon, but I couldn't wait for the chance to talk about this one.

Examining the label, I'm instantly familiar with the Grolsch name due to their standard lighter fare available here in the states, but I'd neither seen nor heard of this beer before. While the color and the scent gave this drink the appearance of a standard pilsner or typical light beer, a sip changed my opinion instantly. What appeared to be an honest yet uninspired bottle of beer proved tastier and more surprising than some beers I'd spend decent money on here in the states. Maybe we're just too set on watering down our own drinks, but at 11.6% alcohol by volume and with a sweet, rich flavor, I'm kinda feeling disappointed in the overall beer climate here in the USA. Not that we're lost at sea or anything, but the swill we often sell and consider "ordinary" is really not that compelling when viewed in the same light as well-made beer like this.

I'm not sure how to recommend my readers obtain this beer, but if you're ever in the Netherlands or if you have the good fortune to arrange a beer trade with someone out that way, give this one a shot. The label and the initial impressions will almost trick you into thinking you don't have an extraordinary drink in your hands, but don't be fooled. Enjoy yourself.

Batch 69 Double Cream Ale (Cigar City)

As a Tampa resident, I often get to enjoy many rare and fantastic beers that those outside of my area can't easily obtain. While I know that local brewery Cigar City is rapidly making a name for itself within the craft beer community, I'm not sure how easy it is to find some of their special releases like this. I feel quite fortunate to live nearby, as this American strong ale is mighty delicious.

While similar in color and body to many IPAs, this beer has less of a hoppy bite and more of the light citrus flavor that is characteristic of the style. This beer isn't an IPA though, so there are a few other qualities that distinguish this from some of its hoppy cousins. There's a noticeable sweetness here, with hints of cantaloupe and vanilla playing on my tongue to balance out some of the lighter characteristics that I'm less fond of. This beer has the sweet maltiness of my favorite dark beers but with a drinkability that is generally reserved for lighter ales. This beer could easily bridge the gap in drinking habits for fans of dark and light beers alike.

While you may have to hunt a bit to find this amusingly named brew, it's worth every second (and penny) you spend obtaining it. Grab a bottle while they last, I'm not sure how long you can find this treat.

Terrible Belgian Strong Ale (Unibroue)

Those who've perused my blog with any frequency may have noticed I enjoy Unibroue's beers. While I don't really establish "favorites," this brewery has certainly earned a warm spot in my heart. This is a year-round release that I've eyeballed for the past year and a half but haven't had the nerve to try. Running this blog has given me the excuse to try all sorts of tantalizing beverages that I'd have barely glanced at in the past, and this beer has been at the top of my "must try" list since I created the blog.

In many ways, Terrible does remind me of both the Trois Pistoles and their stellar Vintage Ale for Trader Joe's, but it does distinguish itself from each. The aroma is sweeter and smoother than the other two and my initial sip was full bodied with a heavy taste of honey and perhaps a hint of grape. The fruity flavors are pouring out with each sip of this beer, but it's dark and heavy enough to keep it from feeling wimpy or light. Instead it carries a heavy wine-like flavor that works very nicely for this style. At 10.5% ABV, it's got a high enough alcohol content to justify sharing with friends, but doesn't have any sort of alcoholic burn. This is certainly not a beginner's beer, but newer beer geeks with an open mind will take to this with great ease. I've always felt Belgian and Belgian-styled ales are the best introduction to beer for newer palates, and this beer might be one of the finest examples I've tried in quite a while.

If you're reading this review, chances are you've already had this beer at some point in your life, but you should probably try it again. If you haven't yet had it, go visit your local craft beer retailer and get your hands on this beast. It's anything but terrible, trust me.

Beer Review: Dogfish Head's Raison D'Etre

The bottle of this beer says that it was brewed with (among other things) a sense of purpose. For a brewery as well-known and popular as Dogfish Head, it goes without saying that each of their beers taste as if they were brewed purposefully. As with most of their beers, this tasty brew meets the high expectations I hold for Dogfish Head.

Upon my first pour (and brief examination of the bottle) I expected that this would be a slightly sweet version of a brown ale. Sniffing and sipping proved this assumption wrong. Much to my delight, this drinks like it's got some Belgian influence going on and has a rather noticeable flavor of raisins. The head was almost nonexistent when I poured myself a glass, but it grew over the following twenty seconds, with champagne-like trails of bubbles feeding a light foaminess to the top. There's also a light prune-ish flavor, but it's a really good thing. I mean, prunes aren't bad to me but they seem to get a really bad reputation that they don't deserve. Any beer that reminds me of sweet and rich fruits is fine by me.

I'm not sure if there's a seasonal restriction to this one, as this is the first bottle I've ever had, but I encourage you to grab a bottle for yourself if you're looking for a tasty new experience. I sometimes have a hard time breaking away from my standard pattern of stouts, porters, and Belgian ales, so it's refreshing to try something new and find out that it still perfectly suits my mood.