Archive for the ‘Beer Reviews’ Category

I absolutely love Dogfish Head’s 60 and 90 minute IPAs. IPAs, or India Pale Ales, are one of the first beer styles that got me into my beer snobbery. A well made IPA offers a great hoppy flavor, similar to a literal kick to your taste buds. Dogfish does the IPA style almost perfectly and when I heard that there was a 120 Minute IPA, which means it had hops continuously added for two hours, I needed to try it. The only obstacle blocking my path? Dogfish Head does not brew it frequently. For over a year I would check their website wondering when they were going to begin brewing and selling this coveted drink for a beer snob like myself.

Last month I finally received a lead from the brewmasters themselves that 120 Minute was being brewed and shipped within the month in small shipments. I was now on a quest to find this precious beer. Last week I scoped out the three places I usually go for all my beer snobbery needs: Skibbos in the Bronx, DiCiccos in Pelham, and Fairway in Pelham. I thought that at least one of these places would have it. I was wrong. I thought that perhaps since the beer was being shipped in limited quantities, my favorite beer spots might just not have been able to order them on time. I almost lost all hope.

Yesterday I made a stop at Skibbos to buy some Hell or High Watermelon. As I’m paying for the beer I just had a hunch to turn around and, lo and behold, the 120 Minute IPA was right there with the rest of the Dogfish Head beer. I quickly snatched it up and took a picture of it to brag, to those who know what it actually is, on facebook.

At 20% APV, I decided to split the beer when trying it. Thankfully I did. The beer was mighty potent, but delicious. Upon pouring, the beer was a very dark amber with minimal, almost non-existent, head. The smell was like any other IPA, only multiplied by 100. The hop aroma hit my nostrils and told me I was going to have a powerful drink. The taste was heavy in the hoppiness up front with many hints of coffee and chocolate in the finish. The mouthfeel was rather thick, almost like a thin syrup.

There’s a reason why the Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA was referred to as the “Holy Grail for Hopheads”. Not only was it hard to find, but once found it was the almost perfect beer experience. This beer shouldn’t be for the faint at tongue, nor should it be used for any heavy drinking. Enjoy this beer slowly, paired with some food. Even drinking only half I felt satisfied. I’m already looking forward to finding another bottle in the (hopefully) near future.

For the past many years, I have been a member of the local chapter of the Knights of Columbus. Random fact for a beer blog? I’m getting to the point. A few months back, a group of us have decided to remodel the office and turn it into a place to hang out during the week, with a cable TV and bar set up.  We decided to turn the Friday nights we were there to paint a great way to also try out different craft beer. A fellow beer enthusiast brought over a couple packs of 21st Amendment’s Monk’s Blood and Fireside Chat beers. These beers struck my interest before I even tasted them. They all come standard in a can, something not too often seen in the world of craft beer. Also, the art on the packaging is great. You should never judge a book by its cover, but before I even tasted the beer I could tell that this brewery had a sense of fun and dedication to them. After that fateful night, I was automatically interested in 21st Amendment Brewery and wanted to try their other beer.

Fast forward to a couple of months later. I headed out to a great bar in Massapequa appropriately named The Good Life. One of the beers they had on tap was 21st Amendment’s Hell of High Watermelon. I’m not that big of a fan of fruit beer. I usually find them too sweet, tasting more like soda than beer. However, my interest in the 21st Amendment Brewery outweighed my distaste for fruit beer and I decided to give it a try. The beer was served in a tall glass with an actual watermelon wedge on the top of the glass. It had a color that reminded me of lighter watermelon jolly rancher with a significant amount of carbonation. Not much in the way of a smell, but the flavor is what surprised me. The taste was not a strong fruit flavor. The watermelon flavor was in the backtaste and served almost as the period in an otherwise crisp and refreshing beer. With a low ABV%, Hell or High Watermelon is what a great light beer should be. I usually equated light beer with the Bud, Coors, or Miller variety: light but lacking in a good flavor. This beer is light, but actually has a flavor I enjoy.

Now I have a new go-to beer when going to a BBQ. It is the perfect beer to have with a hamburger while sitting in the hot sun. This beer is recommended for anyone with working taste buds. Try it and you shouldn’t regret it.

One thing I have noticed at many beer bars is a Cask Ale. I’ve noticed that often there will be a beer on cask which will rotate pretty frequently. A few weeks ago, while at The Bronx Alehouse, I decided to try their Cask selection of the day. Always looking for something new to drink in the beer world, I figured this would be a good opportunity to expand my beer tastes.

The beer on hand that day happened to be Sixpoint Otis Stout. The first thing I noticed wasn’t the smell or the appearance, but rather the temperature. Usually beers are served pretty cold, but this beer was served at room temperature. This wasn’t a big deal to me as I know a good beer doesn’t need to be, and at many times shouldn’t be, served ice cold. The appearance was what I would expect from a Stout, dark and with a decent head. The smell was minimal but the taste was where I began to realize what makes a casked beer unique. The beer had a subtle sweetness to it in the back. I wasn’t sure if this was normal for a cask or if it was just the flavor of the Stout (I will have more on this later). Overall I enjoyed the beer. It was different than what I was used to, but tasted good and paired nicely with the Hog Wings (which are so good I could write a whole post on them alone) served at the Bronx Alehouse.

I hadn’t encountered another cask until last night when I was up in Stamford, CT at the Southport Brewing Company. I’ve been wanting to try this place out for awhile after hearing they brew their own beers in the city where some of the best people I know live. Went there last night after getting some Colony pizza (another food so good I could write a whole post on) and I noticed they had their Blonde beer on cask. I decided to give it a try and once again the beer was served at room temperature. The casked blonde was yellow and not very transparent (similar to the look of a wheat beer). Very different from the  Blonde served from the tap, which was clear and golden. The beer didn’t have much of an aroma, the mouthfeel was very similar to the Sixpoint on cask, and the taste, while different, still had that subtle sweetness in the back as the Otis Stout had.

Upon some research, it appears that cask ales are unfiltered and unpasteurized. The beer contains live yeast due to the lack of pasteurization, which develops the malts and hops differently than a keg. That is what gives a cask ale the sweeter taste I’ve encountered. Also known as “Real Ale”, this style is still very popular in England. I’d like to find more places that have beer on cask. I might have tapped (pun intended?) into another step toward pure beer snobbery.

As I head upstate tomorrow for Memorial Day Weekend, I wanted to put up another post. I have a few beer and bar reviews on my “To Do List”, but I figured I would talk about a beer style I recently discovered: Barleywine.

I first tried a barleywine at the Lazy Boy Saloon in White Plains, NY. The Lazy Boy is a great beer bar in an otherwise annoying area to go out drinking. White Plains tends to get packed with people looking for a “scene.” Lazy Boy, at least the few times I’ve been there, is a little bit more my style. I will save a full scale review for another time, but when looking through the Lazy Boy’s massive beer menu I came upon a Lagunitas Hairy Eyeball. The name alone was enough to peak my interest, but when I saw the style of beer I was almost put off. Barleywine? I didn’t know what to expect other than a probably sweeter beer. I usually lean towards a hoppier beer, but decided to give it a try anyway. I was glad I did. It was served in a standard pint glass with a dark brown color and a minimal head. The smell was strong and I could tell it was going to be a sweet beer. Upon tasting, I realized this was different from the usual beer I drink. That is not necessarily a bad thing, however. The Hairy Eyeball went down very smooth and went great with the steak sandwich dinner I was enjoying. Sweeter than your (or at least my) average beer, it didn’t seem like I was drinking beer.

The second barleywine I tried was at The Bronx Alehouse, my new favorite bar. A full review of the Bronx Ale House will be coming soon, I will assure you. For now, I will just mention how it has a great selection of beer on tap, a few of which are kicked and rotated in the few hours I spend there. I saw on their impressive blackboard that there was a Stone Old Guardian barleywine beer. Stone has slowly been creeping its way up my “favorite beer” list. I have never drank a Stone I wasn’t impressed with. Their Arrogant Bastard line of beers are incredible and I was sure, after trying the Lagunitas Hairy Eyeball, that I would love their barleywine. At a stronger abv., the Old Guardian was served in a 12oz glass, dark and amber in color. There was a strong and fruity smell, almost stronger than the Hairy Eyeball. The taste was similar to the Hairy Eyeball, however there was a very sharp flavor upon initial taste. I’d equate that to the Old Guardian’s 12% abv to the Hairy Eyeball’s 9%. Stronger alcohol content should mean a stronger kick in the taste buds. Just as enjoyable, especially while watching the Mets defeat the Yankees as an added bonus.

Overall I enjoyed the Hairy Eyeball over the Old Guardian. The Hairy Eyeball went down a bit smoother and was more pleasant to the taste. That is no strike towards Stone, however. They continue their streak of excellent beers I’ve tasted. Barleywine may not be my normal beer choice, but when the mood hits me at least now I know I can take a different path than just the typical IPA or Pale Ale.

Friday night was the first BBQ of the 2011 BBQ season. I headed out to Long Island to slam a couple of burgers and try some good beer. My choice for the evening was Stone Sublimely Self Righteous. I have been becoming more and more of a fan of the Stone beers, having tried their IPA, Arrogant Bastard, and Double Bastard beers. Stopping by my favorite beer distributor, Skibbos in Throgg’s Neck, I decided to pick up a 22 oz . bottle of the Stone Sublimely Self Righteous. The bottle alone, as usual with Stone’s beer, was awesome. Their mascot seems to be a big gargoyle/devil looking character, straight out of Disney’s Fantasia. Extremely eye catching, but is the beer any good? All signs point to ‘yes.’

The first thing I notice when I pour the beer is the very dark color and thick head. Almost looks like a stout along the lines of Guinness. The comparisons stop there, however. I realize this is no Stout upon smell. I can tell this is going to be a very hoppy beer on first smell, and on first taste I was right. The beer tasted very hoppy but not at all bitter. I admit that my beer tasting skills have not yet been honed to perfection. I can not pick out every little detail and ingredient on tongue alone. I can tell you that it was a delicious and smooth beer. Towards the end I began to taste a little bit of chocolate. Maybe Self-Righteous does share more similarities to a Stout than originally thought. Overall, I loved this beer and will be buying more in the future. I will be on the lookout for this one on tap as well, as I’d imagine, like any other beer on tap, it would be better than in the bottle.

Following the BBQ dinner, a group of us decided to stop by a local restaurant/bar, Major’s Steakhouse in East Meadow. I’ve been here before, both for dinner and just drinks. The bar itself is great. It has a very ‘Cheers’-like atmosphere where, at risk of sounding cliche, everyone knows your name (ok, maybe not MY name. I don’t go that often. However, everyone knew everyone else’s name at the bar). My friends all pretty much wanted to stop in for the Pineapple Vodka. I didn’t try it. Clearly, vodka isn’t my favorite otherwise I would have started a vodka blog. Majors does, however, have a pretty good beer selection. I decided to get the Delirium Tremens, which I noticed was on bottle.

I never had a full Delirium Tremens before. I’ve tasted it, but not enough to gather a full opinion. I decided to try it based on the good reviews I’ve heard. The beer pours light with a golden color and not much head. It smells like it tastes: light and fruity. There is a strong taste of citrus and it is a sweet beer. Overall it is smooth and refreshing. I enjoyed this beer to an extent, but I doubt it would be a ‘go-to’ beer. I prefer beer with a little more hop to it. Delirium Tremens had a strong sweet flavor up-front upon tasting, but not much finishing flavor, which I prefer. I would have it again, but not as my first choice.

Interestingly enough, while Googling ‘Delirium Tremens’, I found that not only is it a beer, but it refers to the delirium experienced in alcoholics due to withdrawal. Great name for a beer? Or is it making light of a disease that many people suffer from? I don’t care, I’m not here for morality. I just thought it was an interesting side-bit.

I didn’t intend to make this a Sublimely Self-Righteous vs. Delirium Tremens post, but in the battle between a dark and hoppy beer vs. a lighter and fruitier beer, the dark and hoppy wins! I found another beer I will make sure I always keep my eye out for when I’m at a bar or wanting to pick up a bottle for a get together.