Skip to main content

Styles that don’t agree with me

10-20-01Look a that, my first rhyming blog title. Anyway, I was thinking the other day about beers that I really just do not enjoy. No matter how good they are, I just can’t seem to like them. I think I got the idea while reading Pennsylvania Breweries 3rd Edition by Lew Bryson during my break at work. Lew seems to really enjoy a quality Pilsner and often recommends them while doing his write-up about a brewery.

My problem is that I really don’t like Pilsners at all. Maybe it was from my early college days when the American Light Lager ruled my drinking choices. That type of light, watery, sometimes hoped beer just isn’t for me. I’ve had plenty of well regarded Pilsners, and I can get the flavor differences and all of that, I just don’t like it that much. Stoudt’s Pils is probably my favorite of the style that I have sampled, but I would much rather have any host of other beers in front of me.

For my wife she can’t stand too many IBUs. Well let me correct that, she can’t stand anything that doesn’t have a malt backbone to support the IBUs. In particular she is always wary of IPAs because so few actually offer a good balance. A hoppy stout or porter will also leave her wanting something different. I’m also not really a Labmic guy. I’ve have three of them in my short beer experience, but the sourness just doesn’t do anything for me. If I had a homebrew that turned out like that, I would be very disappointed. I am not one for Warheads or any of that candy stuff that is super sour either, so that might be partly to blame.

Will I steer away from styles I generally know that I don’t enjoy. The answer I want to is no, that I will try any new beer, just to try it. The real answer is that I probably would steer a bit away from styles I don’t really like. That is why there are not many Pilsner reviews on here or American Light Lagers. I don’t enjoy them so I refuse to spend money on them. At a brewpub, I am a bit more willing to try things I don’t like becasue I always get a sampler. And if I don’t care for a particular beer, I only have to drink 4-5 ounces of it. Is anyone else like me in avoiding beer styles they don’t care for or are you one to try anything even if you know you will not like it.

Me a beer judge!?!

I had my first chance to do a beer judging last weekend and boy was that a trip. My local homebrew club sponsor a competition every year for the past 11 years now. I believe the entries were limited to IPAs and Pale Ales this year becasue our club is just not big enough to have hundreds of beers to sample. In fact one year they had over 300 entries, with five people judging, which prompted the limiting of categories.

My tasting table was in charge of the IPA style number 14 A-C. Being my first judging I was a little nervous about making sure I did a good job and that my taste buds agreed with the style guidelines. It is amazing to see what people submit to the contest. We had one guy who sent in three bottles that said save for final round on them. Some balls.

09-22-01
Picture not from our judging, just there to give an example

I used to be a much bigger fan of IPAs than what I current am. I am just hopped out, but I do have a good background in IPAs because I used to drink them like crazy. My table was made up of 3 people, one of which was extremely skilled in brewing and judging. Surprisingly all three of us came out around the same scores consistently. It is funny how you can pick out the things that take a beer down a few points. Half of the beers I tasted I would of been happy with if I brewed them, but according to the style guidelines they didn’t quite fit.

Being judge is easier than being a brewer. So is running a beer review website. A few things I noticed with almost all of the IPAs we tried. The first was that people often gave too much malt backbone, particularly in 14C the Imperial IPA. The malt should support the hops, but no be equal. The second thing I noticed is how tough it is to properly hop a IPA. Most of them were very harsh and just smashed down on your tongue and left a lingering harsh flavor. Some people like this, I do not, and neither do the style guidelines. The final thing is that you can see the knowledge of the brewer when tasting. We had one contaminated beer so it couldn’t be fairly judged but the differences in the beer came down to slight variations that had huge impacts.

It might be unfair to judge the brewer on the beer they make as I’ve made plenty of great and terrible beers. It just seems like a beer that is more technically correct shows a better skill level by the brewer than his competitors. That skill might not translate into a winning beer but, as a homebrewer, I appreciate it.

07-30-01

Portland Breweries: Full Sail Brewing Company

07-30-01On my visit to Texas last year I saw a few six packs of Full Sail beer at the store, but decided to go with some Fat Tire instead. On my honeymoon I got to discover what I missed all that time ago. Smalls and I decided that Full Sail was one of the many breweries that we would visit during our stay. There are a ton of breweries in Portland, and Oregon for that matter. So many in fact that our hotel gave us a brewery guide to Oregon. It was like eight pages long!

Getting back to Full Sail, we hoped on the Portland Street Car (still in fairless square) and took it down to one of the last free stops. Went towards the river and found Full Sail’s tasting room in Portland. The full brewery is located about an hour outside of the city. The tasting room is also attached to a resturant that was pretty pricy, but the beer was not.

We obviously got a sampler from their many beers and made sure to get their three main brews: Amber, IPA, and Pale Ale. They had a wheat beer, a stout, a porter, and a few other IPAs. I really wanted to try their barleywine, but they were out, darn.

I’m not going to get into all of the beers becasue they tasted as they should. Very good and stuck to the standards very nicely. I did get the stout on cask as well and it was excellent. Stouts might be my favorite beer to have in a cask. The flavors combine so nicey and the warm temperature brings out a lot of hidden flavors. They also had a Pilsner which was excellent. Really crisp and light but packed with flavor.

I would visit Full Sail again the next time I get out to Portland.

09-06-25-02

Rouge Brutal Bitter Beer Review

09-06-25-02I’m a big fan of Rogue Ales. So much of a fan in fact that my future wife and I are toasting with a Shakespear Stout this Saturday at our wedding. I love the Dead Guy Ale and have tried to get as many of their beers under my belt as I can. One of the “normal” onese that has always eluded me was the Brutal Bitter. But alas, finally, I got a chance to try it. Here’s what the brewery has to say,

Tasting Notes:
An Imperial bitter with exotic traditional floor malts, citrusy, hoppy flavor, stupendous hop aroma.
6 Ingredients:

Malts:
100% Floor-malted Maris Otter, Cara Vienna, Cara Wheat.
Hops:
Crystal.
Yeast & Water:
Rogue’s Pacman Yeast & Free Range Coastal Water.
Specs:
15º PLATO
59 IBU
76.1 AA
14.2º Lovibond

09-06-25-03Upon popping the top you are hit with hops, big shocker. It pours a nice hazy brown and had a nice lasting head with great lacing. The nose with hops, hops, hops, with a little malt mixed in there. Tasting is a kick in the mouth. I know I;ve been doing a lot of IPAs for the past little bit, but this thing was the strongest hops I’ve expreinced yet. After a few sips you actaully get some flavor as you adjust to the hops.

It had a decent malt backbone, but the hops were just overpowering. If you read this blog you should know by now that I am all about a balanced beer. This beer isn’t meant to be, but that is what threw it off for me. This is probably the first Rogue beer that I will not be buying again. If you like hops, you will like this beer. It was just a bit too unbalanced for me to enjoy fully. (more…)

Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA Beer Review

I told you the beers would get better, and this review, steps it up to an unhealthy level. Unhealthy only because Dogfish Head’s 120 Minute IPA clocks in at an amazing 20% ABV. Before I go any further, let me post what the brewery has to say about their beer:

“Too extreme to be called beer? Brewed to a colossal 45-degree plato, boiled for a full 2 hours while being continuously hopped with high-alpha American hops, then dry-hopped daily in the fermenter for a month & aged for another month on whole-leaf hops!!! Our 120 Minute I.P.A. is by far the biggest I.P.A. ever brewed! At 20% ABV and 120 IBUs you can see why we call this beer THE HOLY GRAIL for hopheads!”

I’ve only ever had one bottle of this stuff, partly because it is tough to find and partly because it cost me $8.99 for a single bottle. I did recently see it at my local distributer for $160.00 a case ($6.66 a bottle). But when you think about it, the price really isn’t that bad. 20% ABV is equivalent to 4-5 “normal” beers. Aside from the price, this beer is special for other reasons.

It pours an amber/orange color and, not surprisingly, it has a strong hop aroma. The beer is very thick, and seems to pour slower than other beers (just like how an oatmeal stout pours differently from a shitty macro).

Before I tasted this I was expecting to be blown away with hop flavors. 120 IBU’s is insane. The smell was there, and with with IPAs, I was expecting the taste to be there was well.

Surprisingly, the hop flavor was smooth and not overpowering. Overall, all of the flavors were very smooth. Shocker. The first thing that hits your tongue is a bit of alcohol. This flavor quickly dissipates to a fruity, woody, slightly hoppy feel. Later in the beer the hop flavors become more noticeable. It takes you by surprise, but not in a bad way.

This beer is very well balanced. There is not a single element that overshadows another. For the new craft beer drinker this would probably not be a great beer, but I really enjoyed it. One thing you need to remember is to drink this beer slowly. I had this over the period of an hour and a half (and it doesn’t taste bad warm). If you drink this like a normal beer, you are not going to get very far. This is a great cold day beer that I will be having again very soon.