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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Manfish Brewing Comes to Town Part 2 + Bootlegger’s Brewery and Peace Brewing

When we last left our tale Ken from Manfish Brewing and Scott from SNB Brewing had teamed up to investigate rumors of outstanding beer and food in the port village of Long Beach.   After concluding that yes one could find dynamite suds and grub in the Aquatic Capital of the Nation they were trapped on the wrong side of the Orange curtain. For a while we wondered if our intrepid heroes would be able to break away from the Gateway Cities back into the OC… Fortunately Ken’s wheelman skills were more than a match for the mean streets of the LBC and soon they crusin the 91 toward Fullerton and their next destination Bootlegger’s Brewery.

Bootlegger's Brewery 

The Beer on tap board
Now that the intro is over I can dive right back into journey.  As I mentioned in part 1 the last time Ken was in town I’d taken him to Bootlegger’s to get a pint of Knuckle Sandwich and I knew he wanted to go back.  One of the biggest reasons for this was how much Bootlegger’s has changed and grown over the last year. Unfortunately due to a shortage of Simcoe hops Knuckle Sandwich has been very limited and increasingly hard to get so he was unable to enjoy another glass.

Fermenting Tanks
Bootlegger’s Brewery was founded in 2008 by homebrewer Aaron Barkenhagen, a great guy who I’ve had the pleasure of meeting a couple of times.

Bootlegger’s is one of those places I really want to love… unfortunately more often than not I am let down.  Don’t get me wrong they make some very good beer. Knuckle Sandwich is insane and lives up to the hype, Palamino is a very nice pale ale, the 77 Anniversary was great and one time I has a excellent spring ale.  For me I think it might be my own expectations for myself and them that is at fault. 

They have been growing a lot and I still love to see what they have going on.  They are by far the second best commercial brewery in the OC and are always worth a visit.  The thing I really love about them is their mission to be a small artesian brewery supplying the local community.  They have done a great job lately in penetrating local restaurants allowing me to often have a local craft option with dinner.

Eliminator IPA
For this trip I stared out by sampling the Black Lager, which in my opinion was pretty well made.  It was clean, dark and malty. Not want I was wanting by great in its own way.

Ken ordered a full pint of the Nose Job IPA, while I opted for a half pint of the Eliminator IPA dry hopped with some centennial and sorachi ace.  I’ve had a couple of beers now using sorachi ace and I don’t think I dig the lemoniness that the hop imparts.  The color though was a gorgeous golden orange with brilliant clarity.

Before leaving I had one last sample of the Plum Riot which is a “Belgian” brewed with plums while Ken grabbed a fill of the Rustic Rye IPA in the growler I had once sent him full of Knuckle Sandwich.

Peace Brewing

Really quick before I go on to Peace Brewing I want to point out that all of the photos in this section were taken by the amazing Brian Evans.  I first met Brian when he came over to a brew day I hosted to photograph my buddy Don Barnum of BackhouseBrew for his Thee Beer Book Project.  If you have a second I highly recommend you check it out as you will find tons of great pictures of brewing (both big and small) as well as getting an intro to the legendary Shawn!
Entry Sign to Peace Brewing
Photo Courtesy of Brian Evans Photography
While in route to Bootlegger’s I gave one of my BrewBrothers, Brad, a call to ask if we could stop by after hitting Bootlegger’s.  I wanted to introduce Ken to Brad who I have a lot of respect and love for and so he could check out the amazing pub/brewery that Brad had built in the back yard.

The Pub Side of Peace Brewing
Photo Courtesy of Brian Evans Photography
The house itself is an old craftsmen that Brad and his wife Daira had restored and the place is absolutely beautiful.  In the back yard stands a century old avocado tree that defines the space, next to it a tranquil fish pond.  On this visit I got a chance to see the deck Brad had recently been building between visits.  I still remember talking to him at a brew club meeting about how he was thinking of redoing the deck.  Three days later I was back over for an IPA tasting to find the deck gone, fish moved and in its place the frame work for the new deck.  In three days.  The new deck is absolutely outstanding, done in a gourgous stained redwood.  Trust me, I could go into serious detail about how much I love this deck and using redwood (I’ve built a few myself in the past) but this is not SNBDecking.com (hmm I should register that…).

Pub/Brewery is the house’s old garage which no longer has street access.  Brad converted it into a British style pub complete with a walk in climate controlled room that he houses his fermenting beer in, an industrial glass front fridge for beer and keg storage which is connected to the pub via a tap wall.  The pub also includes a gentleman’s restroom complete with a blackboard on the door warning that the elusive hopburglar is in the area, good to know.

The Brewery Side of Peace Brewing
Photo Courtesy of Brian Evans Photography
For his brewing set up Brad employs a hoist that always him to brew on a very small footprint. The premise is he heat his strike water in his hot liquid tank, hoists it up to fill his mash tun lowers it back down and repeats for the sparge water.  Once the mash is done he fires up his brew keggle and boils on the burner, it’s really a great set up.

Brad hooked me up a with an awesome pint glass that he etched the Peace Brewing logo onto using glass etching paste.  I’ll probably get around to doing the same for some SNB Brewing imperial pints later in the year. 

I wanted to break it in right away but Brad instated that I use another glass so I did.  Starting out in the pub I enjoyed a glass of his house porter on nitro! This beer was rich and silky smooth on the nitro really well done.  I followed that up with a pint of the house blonde and headed outside to relax on the deck.

I’ve mentioned before that there are few things I enjoy more that hanging out with my friends drinking great beer.  This was definitely one of those moments.  I was very pleased to have had the opportunity on an otherwise busy day of beer touring to make a decently long stop at Peace Brewing.

Here is a full video tour of Peace Brewing hosted by the man himself.

And with that we were off to our next destination, The Bruery



Monday, August 29, 2011

Manfish Brewing Comes to Town Part 1 + Beachwood BBQ and Brewing Redux

Welcome to Part 1 of 3 of my Epic Manfish Brewing Comes to TownI've had a few other names in mind but settled on that. 
A couple weeks ago my buddy Ken from Manfish Brewing drove down from Washington on a business trip.  Ken and I met a while back when we were both pretty active on the Mr Beer Forum when we were starting out in brewing.  We had both received our kits as presents around the 2009 holiday season giving us a shared origin into brewing.

The "brewmasters" of Manfish and SNB Brewing
"hard" at work
That summer he took a road trip south hitting all the classic breweries on his way down.  He posted on the forum some of the big stops and I messaged him that when he was in the area we should get together for a beer.  Not knowing where to go I told him to meet me at The Shop (Addison Homebrew Provisions).   Once we met up we determined we would hit up Bootlegger’s as when I called they had Knuckle Sandwich on tap, this was back before the hype machine attacked KS. 

We had a great time, I’ve mentioned before how brewers seem to just fall into friendships easily and Ken was no exception.  Over the next year I’d send him some growlers (one of KS and one of IPL) and he’d send me the official Manfish pint glass.  When I went up to Washington for Easter we tried to get together but were unable to. Fortunately I knew he was coming down in August.

This time around I decided to schedule out a long Sunday with him and instead seize the opportunity and take him around to some of the best breweries Orange County had to offer. Of course we had to start at Beachwood BBQ and Brewing (update with more pictures) in Long Beach, hey it’s near the border…

Beachwood BBQ and Brewing

Man I love this place, they are really hitting their stride brewing wise. I was able to another complete flight of excellent beers with zero repeats from my previous visits. Ken joined me for the taster flight and this time around we tried...

From Left to Right; Reckless,
Thrill Seeker, The Equalizer and Bulldog
Reckless is a session-ish (sorry but I am pretty rigid on the definition of a session ie 4% or less) pale ale.  Beautiful piney and resiny nose from the Northwest hops Julian used on it.  Overall a really nice pale ale.

I followed that with Thrill Seeker which is clearly a "West Coast-style" IPA in the truest sense. Some of my favorite hops such as Chinook, Summit, Centennial, and Simcoe dance wonderfully together.   I don’t know where he managed to find the Simcoe but I’m glad he did. It has a great classic dry hopped IPA aroma of pine and citrus on it.   Ken and I really liked this on and I’m still on the fence with this vs Melrose.

Next up was The Equalizer, an “explosive” double (thank you for not calling it imperial) IPA. The cool thing about this beer is that the toss whole hops in the serving tank, which worked out ok.  To me I really didn’t love this beer like I have most of the others.  Double IPAs and I have a tough relationship; I either love them or find them tough to drink if they are not well balanced.

I ended my taster flight with the Bulldog a traditional Irish-style stout served on nitro. This one came out really nice, the nitro does wonders for the mouthfeel making it smooth and creamy.  The taste was nice and roasty and reminded me of several good Irish stouts I’ve had.

One of their guest boards
After that I hit the guest taps for a 10oz pour of a Session Ale w/brett from Gaverhopeke Koerseklakske or as I called it the session ale with brett from the brewery I can’t pronounce. This one was ok, it had some good earthy brett character but wasn’t blowing me away.  While Ken and Bonnie enjoyed some of the Melrose IPA.

As for food I ordered some of the tater tot casserole and the smoked buffalo wings for the table and the steak salad for lunch. Ken and Bonnie both had the barbecue chicken salad.  After lunch I grabbed a growler of the Melrose and Ken and I head back into the OC for our first stop Bootlegger’s…



Friday, August 26, 2011

FT: Growler of Exponential Hoppiness ISO: Fresh Surly

People occasionally talk in the trading forum about the old days where it was a place to share beer and promote really beer advocacy.  Before the dark times - before the whale-hunting... 

Growler of Exponential Hoppiness
Back in the old days the story goes that if someone brought up in a thread that he/she had never had a certain beer there would always be a reply had never had that was off the shelf people would immediately try to hook the person up.

While I can’t attest to the old days I can say that it has become increasingly difficult to get even off the shelf beer such as my beloved Surly.  Fortunately good people still do exist in the trading forum.

Last time I was at Alpine it happened to coincide with the release of the latest batch of Exponential Hoppiness.  They had what I would consider a pretty high release amount, four growler fills and six bottles per person per day. I decided I would grab a growler of it to trade with one of my regular trading partners to replenish my Surly stock.  Unfortunately she had some other stuff going on and had to decline my offer, completely understandable.

FT: Growler of Exponential Hoppiness ISO: Fresh Surly

Given that it was a growler of a very hoppy beer I wanted it to quickly go to a good home, I therefore decided to post up ISO:FT.  I figured that with the reviews and limitations of the supply of fresh Exponential Hoppiness that this would be a quick trade.  It appeared initially that I might be right as soon after the post I had several offers in my in box.  For a while I thought it was a done deal but regrettably the initial agreement fell through so I moved on to another one however it also fell through, I even bumped by thread to accept new offers but still I was unable to find a trade. Fortunately good people are still out there.

Ah yes, Fresh Surly!
I was posting on a thread about SurlyFest that I was excited to go this year as my wife would be joining me. KeefD, one of the guys that had previously backed out, saw the post and BMd me if I’d found a home for the growler.  I told him that I had not and was probably going to LIF it so that someone could enjoy it fresh.  He replied that though money was tight we could set something up.  I told him he didn’t have to and I really appreciated it.

In the end we agree that he would just ship 2 packs of Surly (Furious and Coffee Bender) in trade for the growler.   Unbeknownst to him I decided to take a quick review of his want list and pulled out a few easy ones to send him as thank you.

The Extras
In the end both sides were happy; I was able to collect 4 Furious and 4 Coffee Benders plus lay the ground work for a second source for Surly and in trade I sent him a growler of Exponential Hoppiness, a bottle each of Firestone Walker Pale 31, Union Jack and DBA plus a Russian River Consecration.

I also got to test out my growler packaging idea of using expanding foam insulation to create the ultimate growler shipper. This will come in handy for the Good People Farm System BIF.


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Random Tuesday Tasting

Warmed up with some rum
A few Tuesdays ago my buddy Eric of Addison Homebrew Provisions stopped by to hang out and have a few beers.  I took advantage of the opportunity to get some one on one feedback on my Rhino Stout (not to be confused with Imperial Rhino Stout still in secondary), discuss the schedule for some demos I’m going to do for him in October and give him a New Glarus Belgian Red I knew he would enjoy.   My wife Bonnie joined us sporadically as she was cooking and taking care of our daughter.

After getting feedback on the Rhino, too thin and green, it was time to start opening some bottles.

Nice little surprise
The IPAs

I’ve been a little lupulin deprived lately so we decided to start with some IPAs.  This presented a great opportunity to open some of the extras I’d received in some recent beer trades.  We started with the Old Man Hopper's India Pale Ale from Rust Belt that I received in The Barrel Aged Yeti Trade.  Overall it was a pretty good IPA; it wasn’t overly bitter or harsh just well balanced. Some hop aroma was present, could really tell if it was dry hopped or just had a solid aroma boil addition. Definitely towing the line between a pale ale and an IPA. 

Fight Dead Hop Flavor
Drink IPAs Fresh!
Next up was Arctic Panzer Wolf from Three Floyds. I got this beer as an extra in the Math Trade #4 - The Quad Lazer.  Killer name, killer label and killer beer, I’ve had some many bad imperial/double IPA that I’m pretty gun shy about them, so the fact that this was really good was a nice surprise.  Lots of really nice piney hop aroma with a gorgeous color and well balanced flavor profile. No mistaking the bitterness here but again it was nicely focused.

Ended this section of IPAs by opening a year old Stone 14th Anniversary Emperial IPA.  I guess the only thing that annoys me more about using the term Imperial on any beer not a stout is a random spellings of it.  Last year when it was fresh I had a debate with my buddy Marshall on whether or not the beer needed to age.  I personally enjoyed the beer fresh while he thought it could use some age.  I wish he could have made it over so I could grab his notes on it now.  Definitely lost what made it good a year ago, Eric and I described the aroma as dead hops.

Bambic in my broken Zeno glass
The Sours

As I’ve been really into sours lately and knew Eric was an enjoyer of them as well I decided to open a few bottles I’d been dieing to try, starting with Jolly Pumpkin’s Bambic.  The story behind Bambic is pretty cool; it’s a blend Bam Biere and Batch 2 & 4 Lambic done to celebrate Winking Lizard’s, a beer tavern in Ohio know for their World Tour of Beer, 25th Anniversary.  Now this was an excellent beer, the sourness was up front, great nose with excellent notes of the oak.  I got a good laugh when I gave Bonnie a sip, she just doesn’t do sour beers.

More of a dark sour then a stout
After that we opened a bottle of The Bruery’s Tart of Darkness… I’ll be honest this is a good sour beer, but not as fantastic as I’ve heard.  The sourness was a little one dimensional and while the label lists it as a stout there were no stout in it outside the color.
It’s really just a dark sour. I have a couple more bottles that I’m going to sit on and to see if it changes with age. 

The Rest

After the sours we sort of drifted into opening random beers from the beervault.  Eric had brought over an Ommegang Chocolate Indulgence that he wanted to try so we popped the cork on it next.  For most of the time we’d been drinking we’d also been letting this bottle warm so it was at a really nice temperature when we started to drink it.  It had a lot of good bitter chocolate notes on the palate and in the nose which paired nicely with the coffee undertones. The label lists it as a Belgian style chocolate stout but I didn’t get any yeast notes that would give me Belgian style.  Eric who does not like coffee wasn’t a fan which Bonnie the coffee connoisseur loved it.  Bonnie’s Notes: It had deep coffee flavor, possibly a French roast/Italian roasted coffee (dark roast) and a nice note of chocolate.  It was dyn 'o mite. Shouldn't be called chocolate indulgence, should be coffee goodness. First stout I’ve really liked in a long time. 

More like coffee goodness - BJB
I decided to then open the last bottle of brother Ryan’s pale ale that he brought back the last time he was in town.  This was the second time I’ve had it and everyone agreed it tasted off.  It might have been his hop choices, but I really believe it comes down to temperature control for primary fermentation.  This is a subject that can, should and will be its own post.
Bonnie had the next choice of what to open and decided to grab out her bottle of Ballast Point Sculpin that Total Wine now feels is a limit one kind of beer.  This was not the Sculpin that’s been swimming around the top of the craft beer scene this last year. It was definitely off and just didn’t sing to anyone of us.  Bonnie was let down as she really loves this beer.  Bonnie’s Notes: inconsistent, have had fresher (odd considering it was a fresh batch), too sweet on finish.

At this point I needed a palate rinser and my cider wasn’t getting it done so I reached for a ribbon, a blue ribbon that is.  I drink and enjoy PBR as it is a perfect example of a light American adjunt lager.  After that I cracked a Yeti which is one of my favorite imperial stouts.  Either it was off or my palate was off because it didn’t taste right.  It had a mineral graininess on my tongue that I didn’t care for.

Overall I had a great time.  There are few things I enjoy more these days than sitting in my garage drinking and discussing beer with a good friend.  The ability to talk about homebrewing was an added bonus.



The Line Up (Left to Right): Rust Belt - Old Man Hopper's IPA (nice IPA but almost a pale ale), Three Floyds - Arctic Panzer Wolf!, Stone - 14th Anniversary (aged IPA experiment - better fresh), Bambic - AWESOME!!!, The Bruery - Tart of Darkness (Get the stout off the label this is a dark sour), Homebrew Pale Ale, Ommegang Chocolate Indulgence (do you like coffee? yes - you'll love it, no - just ok), Ballast Point - Sculpin (was the batch off?), PBR (always a winner), Yeti (either it or my palate was off).

Monday, August 22, 2011

Math Trade #4 The Quad Lazer – BIF

If you happened to read the AleWatcher’s excellent blog entry on trading and packaging that I linked to in my first trade post you might have noticed that there are multiple types of beer trades out there.  Outside the standard ISO:FT trade there are BIFs (beer it forward), CIFs (chalice it forward), GIFs (growler it forward), IPs (in person) and LIF (lottery it forward). This post is going to cover the latest BIF I was in.  

The concept behind a BIF is similar to a standard ISO:FT only it involve a group of people instead of one on one.  It also differs in that you don’t ship to the person you get beer from.  For example person A ships to person B who ships to person C who ships to person A completing the circle.    

There are three types of BIF, a traditional BIF in which only one box is in transit, a shotgun BIF in which everyone ships at the same time and math BIF in which an algorithm is used to determine who sends their beer to whom. 

BIFs are set up by a host in the following manner; the organizer (host) picks a what type of BIF they want to run, what the theme is, how many people will be involve and what the rule will be.  They then post up a NBO (new BIF opportunity) thread in which they outline the basics of the BIF and how they want people to sign up (a post on the topic, BM, email etc).  

Math Trade #4 The Quad Lazer

The "Puts"
The title of the tread should indicate that the rest of this post will be about a math trade I recently took part in called Math Trade #4 The Quad Lazer organized by the great neorunner.  For a more in depth explanation of what a math trade is and how it works check out this thread neorunner started when he organized the first round of his math trade series.

Match 1
The Rules

neorunner outlined the following rules for this round;
Must be an established trader
50 players max – Ended up being 57
Max 3 beers entered aka puts per player
Max 5 wants aka targets per entered beer
Duplicates will be allowed.
Extras are just that extras and not required

Having a good track record and participated in BIFs in the past I made the cut and was able to play.  

The Trade

As far as my puts I tossed in a 2011 Parabola from Firestone Walker and two Bruery Beers; Pinolambicus and ISO:FT.  The total list of all the puts can be found here http://bit.ly/MathTrade.

I was able to match 2 for 3 which isn’t all that bad considering 7 people didn’t match at all. In total 96 boxes went out representing 94 of 162 successful matches (58%) consisting of 7 groupings; 62, 14, 7, 4, 3 and 2 grouping of 2.

I sent out the The Bruery – ISO:FT (Target) with some extras; Sierra Nevada – 2011 Bigfoot, Anchor Brewing – 2011 Old Foghorn Barleywine and SNB Brewing – Bourbon Barrel Age Wookiee to desaparecido in Burke, VA.

Match 2
The Bruery - Pinotlambicus (Target) when to johndoe8 in La Jolla, CA along with a SNB Brewing – BeanyTink’s Farmstead Ale and a Founders Breakfast Stout.  It was cool even though I shipped ground it got there the next day.  

It took awhile to get anything back but in the end I received 2 boxes in the mail.

My first box arrived from petroos in NY with the following; from Goose Island a Bourbon County Brand Vanilla Stout (target), this gets triple score status as they are becoming impossible to trade for as it was a onetime beer, the other beer was a Captain Lawrence Xtra Gold Tripel (I’m going to save this for the next time I brew with Shawn)

From another Scott (no BA has stepped for to claim ownership yet) out of Illinois a received a two bottle shippers taped together and filled with Three Floyds; a 2007 Behemoth (target) and an Arctic Panzer Wolf (I've wanted to try this one)

I can’t wait to do it again in round 5!



Friday, August 19, 2011

OC Fair Results

A few nights ago I came home to find a large manila envelope from the OC Fair in my mail box. Inside the envelope were; a thank you letter, my score sheets, my second place placard and my second place ribbon (for Costa del Sol). 

The score sheets
This was the first year I’ve entered a fair competition and was by far my biggest competition to date.  In total, this year the fair fielded 492 entries into the Homemade Beer Comp (which includes 13 mead entries, 7 cider entries and 16 label entries).  The two biggest categories were 614 India Pale Ales with 70 entries and 610 American Ale with 64 entries.  

I ending up entering three beers into the competition; Costa del Sol a Premium American Lager brewed with Mexican Lager Yeast and with Northwest hops, SNB is Furious a tribute to my favorite beer Surly Furious and Deathfire a pepper porter (which I thought was restrained) brewed with Habaneros and Anaheim peppers plus a touch of smoke.

Overall I was pretty pleased with my scores and the feedback provided on each sheet.  The feedback overall was constitutive and positive, even for Deathfire which I can tell might have been a little hot for the judges.  
Before I go into discussing the scores here is a quick breakdown on them and what they are worth. There are five judged sections; aroma (12), appearance (3), flavor (20), mouthfeel (5) and overall (10).  The scoring guide is problematic (0-13), fair (14-20), good (21-29), very good (30-37), excellent (38-44) and outstanding (45-50) which is a world class example of the style.

Costa del Sol
2nd Place at the OC Fair
Costa Del Sol was judged by three people one of which was a certified BJCP (Beer Judge Certification Program) judge and scored 32, 36 and 32.  The aroma (ave 6.7) was described as low hops, green apple, grainy notes as it warms and semi sweet.  Appearance (ave 2.7) was judged as having brilliant clarity, gold in color, white frothy head and with large clinging bubbles.  The flavor (ave 13.7) was noted as medium hoppy bitterness, slight acidity in the finish, crisp and dry, hop flavor high for the style. Mouthfeel (ave 3) had a nice carb bite, carbonation both too much and too low for the style (I love it when judges do that), medium-light body.  Overall (ave 7.3) it was a good (on judge said very) beer, to hoppy for the style (one judge said hops were his first impression) very clean and a refreshing beer just not to style.  I did get a “congrats on the technique!” from a BJCP certified judge, which I thought was pretty cool. 

One of the better score sheets
SNB is Pleased
SNB is Furious was also judged by three people with one recognized and one apprentice BJCP judge. The aroma (ave 8) provided nice citrus and grapefruit with a nice balance of malts and hops, good for the style and was noted as one of the nicest they’ve had out of the 15 they’d judged (remember 70 entries). Appearance (ave 2) with the SRM calculated to around 14, which is pretty borderline for the style, was perceived as being out of style but had good clarity however the head faded fast.  The flavor (ave 12.7) came across as nicely balance with a nice hop backbone, cleanly fermented with citrus and pine notes. On the mouthfeel (ave 3.3) I received descriptions of having a medium body but low carbonation, I wonder if they got a bad bottle though I might have forgotten to chill the bottles before BeerGunning.   The overall (ave 7) impression was that it was a very nice IPA that could have used more CO2.  One judge commented that he could have gone for a couple more pints.  Most of the feedback is things I can work on for next year.

The heat could barely be
constrained as it was!
Then there was Deathfire… fortunately it seems it’s dark reign was only inflected on 2 individuals with one of them being an apprentice BJCP judge.  The aroma (ave 6) came across as smoky (very) with no malts or hops, I’m surprised that peppers weren’t mentioned.  Its appearance (ave 2) was dark brown with an espresso head, slightly cloudy but clear? Not a really surprise on the flavor (10) as the pepper (and heat from them) dominated their palates, thought I did like the description that “roasty malts lead into smoky pepper”.  Mouthfeel (2) had warmth from the peppers and was dry with limited sweetness. Overall (5) the beer was not well balanced and had too much peppers making it too hard to discern other ingredients.  I laugh because I thought the pepper was nicely balanced going in to the competition.

What sticks out for me on the score sheets is how many times Costa Del Sol got called for being out of style (mostly driven by the hops).  Don’t get me wrong they are it just clearly hurt my overall score and perhaps a blue ribbon.  To me there are two paths in brewing; brewing what you love to drink and brewing to a style.  Really there is not right path and each has its own rewards and challenges.  Overall the reviews were mostly positive and encouraging. 

Watch out, because next year I’m going to brew for this competition rather than just throwing in whatever beers I had available.   



Wednesday, August 17, 2011

De Dolle Brouwers - Oerbier Special Reserve 2008

The picture is a little hazy
and the beer needs to warm
This review is courtesy of my friend Greg V (aka GFunk720) for whom I am a Bruery Reserve Society Trustee for.  The bottle was received as a nice surprise as part of a recent trade we’d engaged in.  Oerbier Special Reserve 2008 brewed in 2008 and bottle in 2009 by De Dolle Brouwers.  The label says it is aged in oak barrels and refermented in the bottle, 13 percent alcohol, poured into my St. Feuillien glass.

Appearance: Deep brown almost sort of a mahogany color.    The surface of the beer is forming a mini volcano carbonation. No real head but when poured it formed a small quarter inch maybe less tan head.  Bubbles are nice and small with a good amount of caked yeast on the bottom of the bottle.

Aroma: Boozy vanilla goodness.  Small degree is sour notes are present on the nose. Really good oak character, it doesn't say anything about bourbon barrels but it definitely smells like it but this could just be the oak.

Mouthfeel: Twang sour not a country song, it was too sour for Bonnie which isn’t surprising. There is a slight slickness on the tongue, not unsurprising for an Oud Bruin.  It has a medium body fell with medium level of carbonation.

Taste: Ah yes, a sour beer. This is how I imagine a sour version of one of The Bruery Anniversary beers would taste like.  The sourness is very light not over powering.  It does an excellent job covering up 13 percent alcohol.  Right before the sour hits I get a sense of Shawn's quad, sort of a stone fruit flavor.   This is a great mix of oaking and souring, it’s very well done in that respect.  I don’t know where the bourbon feel comes from, it might be a false impression based on other barrel aged beers I’ve had. 

Overall:  This was a really nice surprise.  I opened the bottle I didn't really know what to expect, I figured I’d get an oak beer with some Belgian yeast/malt notes.  This is definitely nowhere close to that! The sourness was a wonderful surprise and a perfect follow up to the BeanyTink’s Farmstead Ale that proceeded it.  I'll have to send Greg a thank you note for this one, definitely a nice glass of beer to end the evening with!
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