Brew Review: Stone Brewing Company’s Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale

Perfection is a rarity in the world we live in, but I think I may have just found it.  Normally, I would go on a rant for 3-5 paragraphs before giving away my true thoughts on the beer, but this one deserves an immediate rating:  10 out of 10, easily. 

I’ve never before been let down by Stone Brewing Company, but this one pretty much puts all of the rest of their brews to shame.  Immediately after opening, I put my nose to the end of the bottle to take in the rich, hoppy scent.  This self-righteous ale poured very nicely, with a very minimal head.  What surprised me was the darkness of the beer, which is almost pitch black. 

Shortly after pouring, I took my first sip.  Just as the smell suggested, the taste was quite hoppy (which always makes me happy), and it paired nicely with the malty flavors which came in toward the tail end of the initial taste.  Upon doing my research, I found that three types of hops are used in the brewing of this particular beer: chinook, simcoe, and amarillo.

Needless to say, pick this on up if you ever see it on the shelf.  If not, do yourself a favor and kick yourself right in the face. 

Micro-Brew Review: Bart’s Brewery in Bay City, Michigan

What do you get when you mix 5 parts excellence and 7 parts terribleness?  Bart’s Brewery in Bay City.

I first set out on this adventure because it was recommended to me by a customer at work.  Seeing how we have a decent selection of micro-brews to sell, I often find myself having discussions about beers and breweries with customers at my tables.  We first started talking about the breweries here in town: Frankenmuth Brewery and Sullivan’s Black Forest.  After I had mentioned how much I enjoyed Sullivan’s, the customer then damn near forced me to go to Bart’s in Bay City, as he stated that “they have the best beer in the area”.

It was about a week later and my lady-friend and I decided to check it out.  At first, I was planning on trying out their food and beer, but seeing how I’m a poor guy with a fair amount of student debt, I decided to eat at Taco Bell on the way in order to save money for more beer (I’m a good decision maker).  Upon arrival, I was excited to get inside.  Through the windows I could see right into where their brew-master works his “magic”.  Just from looking in, I could tell that they have a fairly large operation based on how large their brewery was.

Pre-Flight Game Face

So we get inside, take a seat, and wait what seemed like forever for a server to get to us (it was $6 growler refill night; a real local hit).  At first I was only planning on having a couple of pints, but I made a split-second decision and decided to do their 12 beer flight, which consists of a dozen 5 ounce glasses for only $12 (best flight deal ever).  Once I got the flight, I then had to decide where to start.  For this particular one, I started with the darker beers and ended with the light for the initial taste round, then I just kind of drank them at random because… well… that’s what I felt like doing at that point in time.

My main reason for getting the flight was so that I could really see what Bart’s was all about.  Seeing how I was drinking all twelve of their beers, I figured that I might as well rate them 1-12 while I was at it, with 12 being the worst and 1 being the absolutely excellent, most awesome, wonderful, tasty, and gnarly brew.  With the above being said, let’s get to it.

Bart’s Beers: Rated from 12 (absolute worst) to 1 (absolutely excellent, most awesome, wonderful, tasty, and gnarly)
Just a little side note, the first few were insanely terrible, but don’t worry, the
beer gets better as I move through the list!

12.  Cherry Wheat: Not going to lie, this one tastes just like Nyquil and cough drops.  It honestly tasted like Bart was sick one day, had a shit ton of cough drops and cherry flavored Nyquil, suddenly found himself not being sick anymore, and then poured ALL of the Nyquil and cough drops into the beer (yes, all of it, ever), and then served it up like it was some glorious thing to be proud of.  I don’t mean to sound like a dick or nothin’, but this was probably the worst beer I’ve ever tasted.

12.  Doppelbock:  Yes, there is indeed another beer that deserves nothing more than last place.  After having my first taste, I looked at Wolffenslayer (my lady-friend) and told her with complete honesty that it tasted “like a dead tree limb covered with sugar”.  Don’t act stupid, you probably know what an old stick tastes like for some reason just like I do.  Want to get a sample of this beer at home?  Take an old ass stick, cover it in sugar, let it sit in water for a while, drink the water…. there you have it: Bart’s Doppelbock.

11.  Lemon Shandy:  More like “Lemon Shitty”.  Who made this shit?!  Mr. Clean, himself?!  Seriously, I could clean my floors with this one.

Due to the tie for last, there is no 10.  We shall skip to 9.

9.  Belgian Blonde:  Although it was way better than the others mentioned above, this one was just weird.  It smelled like eggs for some reason (really), and it was extremely sweet.  The after taste was actually not too bad, but the initial taste was just god awful.

8.  Brown Ale:  Realistically, this one could have been in a tie for 9th, but there was something that I liked just a little bit about this one.  Upon smelling it, I thought it smelled like malt vinegar, which was just strange.  If a southern person would have smelled this they would have wanted to dip their fries in it or some weird shit.  ‘Nuff said.

7.  Cardinal Red Ale: Once again, “Bart” has sweetened things up way too much.  What is up with all of the sweetness in these suckers?  Potentially the strangest, most terrible red ale I’ve ever had.

6.  Hefeweisen:  Typically, I firmly dislike Hefeweisens, but this was surprisingly had me wanting more.  After drinking, I suddenly realized that Bart was heading in the right direction.   This one fit the description of a good Hefe, as it was slightly cloudy, had a slight taste of banana, very subtle bitterness, and just a slight hint of spiciness.  This one could make any old German man smile.

5.  Timberwolf Light:  I hate to say it, but a light beer made it into the better half of this brewery’s list.  Much better than most lighter beers I’ve had from micro-breweries.  Very smooth, with just a hint of hoppiness with a very low alcohol content.  This would be the perfect beer for the “day-drinker”.

4.  Demolition I.P.A.:  Almost perfect.  Very bitter (probably somewhere around 80 IBU), hoppy, piney, with a hint of citrus notes.  Not as good as a Two-Hearted or 60 Minute I.P.A., but getting close.

3.  Sawmill Coffee Stout:  HOLY SHITS!  This one was truly awesome.  If you enjoy stouts and coffee as much as me, well, you’re pretty much in beer heaven with this one.  Extremely aromatic, and delightfully delicious.  Initial taste is of vanilla and malt, with the finishing after taste of dark roasted coffee.

2.  Black I.P.A.:  Almost gave this one number 1, but…. it just fell short.  Hands down the best black I.P.A. I’ve had and quite possibly the most potent at 8.3% ABV.  The most enjoyable thing about this beer was the combination of roasty malt flavor mixed with the bitterness that I enjoy about any style of I.P.A.  Saugatuck’s Black Train I.P.A. wouldn’t stand a chance against this one in a duel.

1.  Scotch Ale:  Winner, winner, chicken dinner!  I don’t typically drink a whole lot of scotch ales, but this one really hit the spot.  The sweetness and potency of this one really combined to make an excellent beer.  Definitely the most complex, enjoyable beer this place has.  Needless to say, if I happen to be at Bart’s on a Wednesday….. It’s growler time, baby.

Beertivity (Noun): An Activity Which Can Be Enhanced By Drinking Beer

Today is definitely not the first time I disc golfed and drank beer simultaneously,
but I did happen to create a new word for my personal vocabulary: beertivity.
A beertivity is something that means exactly what you may have thought it could mean: an activity which can be enhanced by drinking beer.  Just today, I was on my way to go disc golfing in the extreme heat (it’s currently 91 degrees Fahrenheit), when I thought that the heat may be a little bit more tolerable if I had a couple of cool beverages to keep me company.  With that thought in mind I then found myself driving to my favorite local beer store, The Lager Mill, and purchased a couple of Gnarly Brews.  Abita Spring IPA

The beer I chose to drink today was the Spring I.P.A. from Abita Brewery, which lies just north of New Orleans.  This beer was quite excellent for the disc golf voyage, but I don’t know if I would recommend it to anyone who is in the midst of a “beertivity” in extreme heat.  Upon opening, the aroma was very strong and strangely reminded me a lot of New Belgium Brewery‘s Trippel, which is a Belgium style ale brewed with coriander.  Seeing how it was so hot, I really did slam this one down quite quickly, but I still made sure to take note of the aroma, flavor, and enjoyment I got from drinking this particular beer. Upon drinking, I couldn’t help but to notice the balance between the bitterness and sweetness of this beer.  Much like the Trippel from New Belgium Brewery, this beer has an almost perfect combination of sweetness and bitterness.  The initial flavor is very hoppy, but is finished off with a slightly strong and sweet, yet malty taste.  The only thing wrong with this beer was the time of year/the atmosphere in which I decided to consume it: outside at 3:00 in the middle of a very hot summer.  The taste and feel of this brew is almost perfect, but it is not the best option for a hot summer day.  I will recommend this beer to anyone who enjoys a semi-sweet/semi-bitter I.P.A., but only if they make a better decision than I did by drinking it in the comfort of an air conditioned home or bar, or by drinking it on a much more comfortable day.

Random unheard of I.P.A. in a can, after running, whilst taking a shower

Today I woke up from the most righteous slumber, only to first think about the fact that I had not written about a Gnarly Brew in quite some time.  I then realized that I felt slightly depressed and I began to feel that I was letting down the five followers of this blog, with a deep understanding that my lack of motivation to write could potentially and most likely lead them to the same slightly depressed state which I currently found myself in.  It then came to me that there was only one way to save the mental state of these people which make up the same number of fingers which I have on ONE of my hands: to go to Kroger and find a random unheard of I.P.A. to write about.

So I set out on my journey, walking the quarter mile down to the local Kroger store.  I wandered over to the beer aisle and made a miraculously quick decision (this is extremely rare).  While looking over their surprisingly decent beer selection, one beer stood out to me: Diesel Punk‘s Imperial Pale Ale.  Not only was the artwork on the can slightly enthralling, but the fact that it was in a can really sparked my interest.  Over the last couple of years I had been noticing that more and more breweries (Bell’s, Right Brain, Dale’s, etc.)  have been starting to can their beer, or at least began to contemplate the idea.  Seeing how I had never tried an I.P.A. out of a can, I had no choice but to choose this one.

So, you are probably wondering how the “after running, whilst taking a shower” thing came into play, right?  Let me elaborate:  As of lately, I had been thinking about the fact that beer seems to be more rewarding when it is, what I like to call, well-deserved.  Whether it be that you you deserved a reward after work, after a good workout, after opening the door for an elderly lady, or after doing a normal task, such as breathing or blinking, it just feels better.  With that being said, I felt that the best way to reward myself today would be to consume this beverage after going for a run.  This then led me to the idea that my sweaty, tired ass should enjoy this beer while taking a shower.  So there you have it: Random unheard of I.P.A. in a can, after running, whilst taking a shower.

Now that I have laid all of that garbage out there for you, I can FINALLY talk about the beer.  While doing some research on this brewery, I noticed that most people decided to pour the beer OUT OF THE CAN and INTO A GLASS.  That’s just fucking retarded.  Why buy it in a can if you are just going to put it back in a glass?  Idiots.  Anyways, I decided to be awesome and drink this beer out of the can while taking a nice cold shower after my run (beautiful mental imagery, right?).  I cracked the can open and listened to the echo of the snapping tab ringing off of the walls of my tiny, barbie house sized bathroom, and took my first sip.  Yup, tasted just like I expected an I.P.A. to taste like out of a can: like I.P.A. in a can.

After drinking about half of the can I thought to myself that I should have tried an I.P.A. that I was more familiar with in order to compare the taste of the beer coming from two different types of containers, because this one kind of tasted like a mesh between a rusty tin can, a dirty stick, a sock, and an I.P.A. that may have tasted fairly decent out of a bottle.  What I’m trying to say is that I really felt that this beer might have had some sort of potential, but it had something else in there that I just didn’t enjoy that much.  It had the bitterness and the bite that I typically like in an I.P.A., but I think that it is possible that the can may have altered the flavor of this one.  After the consumption of one beer, I have decided that this particular beverage should not be sold in four packs consisting of 16 ounce cans, but should instead be sold in one packs in order to protect the consumer from wasting their hard-earned buckaroos.

This is how Punk I.P.A. is sold (left) This is how Diesel Punk I.P.A. should be sold (right)

This is how Diesel Punk I.P.A. is sold (left)
This is how Diesel Punk I.P.A. should be sold (right)

Founders All Day IPA: A righteous adventure

Summer has started (the official calendar start, at least) and I couldn’t be more stoked. Being in the mid-to-end of my college life, summer brings many friends that I may not normally see that much during the year together to my quaint little Southwest Michigan beach area where things spring to life for three months and tourism is at an all time high. Days will be filled with beaches, refreshing beers, long nights, and crazy memories. But there is a problem when you’re a craft beer drinker;  Your beer is too strong.

See, I could be one of those saps that drinks a case of Miller/Coors/Bud Light and still functions. It’s not because I’m an alcoholic, but because I’m used to higher ABV (alcohol percentage) beers. Drinking a 6 pack of a delicious IPA during a hot summer day can be a dangerous drunk task that can lead to dehydration hangover city, a place I would rather not visit. So, should I sacrifice taste and flavor for a lower alcohol beer to be able to drink with my non “craft beer” drinking buddies? Or should I go off the deep end and be drunk off a 6 pack to only feel like shit by the time the sun starts to set? Well, luckily for me Founders has the answer.

founders-all-day-2

What might that answer be? I’ll tell you: Founders All Day IPA. Never before in my wildest dreams did I think that I could have such a wonderful IPA at only 4.7%. That’s less than a Bud heavy and slightly more than your average “lite” beer.

All Day has the standard characteristics that an IPA should have. With a good pour you wouldn’t think that it’s any different from most other high quality IPA. Good head, fruity aroma, light amber-gold appearance. It has a medium intensity citrus flavor (not quite grapefruit but not too far off either) with a pleasant 42 IBU’s. I think that the lighter IBU’s works perfectly for such beer, as the bitterness does not sting you quite as much as say, a Founder’s Centennial. Malt wise there isn’t going much on but I’m ok with this considering how pleasantly bodied this beer is in my mouth. Moderate carbonation, nothing too intense. What really wins me over with this beer is the clean finish one gets after you take a sip. With this being a straight up summer beer, there is no intense after taste. Slight sweetness, but once again nothing over the top. This is key to the “All Day” part of this beer. I could easily drink 3-4 of these and not get the “pine mouth” that I do after drinking most other IPA’s.

So, if you live where Founders distributes (and I hope for your sake you do) and you’re looking for a summer beer that has actual flavor, look no further. Hop heads like myself will be satisfied without getting the higher alcohol intensity that doesn’t mix so well in the summer heat. Oh, and did I mention that they plan to can this beer? Yep, summer has never tasted so great.

-Vinney Gaiparelli

A Great Day and a Tough Decision: Sullivan’s Black Forest Brew Haus

ImageMan (or woman, whatever), was it a good day.  It was a Sunday afternoon; the sun was shining, I had a babe-o-matic babe-machine in my arm, and I was getting ready to head to the park to grill some beer brats when I realized that one thing, just one fucking thing, was missing: gnarly brew.

In my current town, there conveniently happen to be a big ol’ heaping shit-ton of places to choose from to acquire beer, but there was one place that I had been waiting to scope out.  Although I live extremely close to Frankenmuth Brewery, which is the more well-known by people from outside areas, I decided to venture the extra mile down the road to sample a variety of brews from Sullivan’s Black Forest Brew Haus, with hopes of leaving with a growler.

I sit down, trying to ignore the super extra large big ass dinner buffet behind me, and take a good peek at the beer list.  Their selection is quite impressive, covering a very vast range of beers with everything from a light Golden Ale all the way across the board to an Irish Stout.  I give the X-IPA a try, along with the Pirate’s Porter and the Oatmeal Stout…  To be honest, if I wasn’t such a broke ass at this juncture, I would leave with three growlers; each filled with one of these gnar-tastic gnarly brews.

Well, as always, the hardest part of this adventure is decision making.  Shit man, if I go to a Speedway gas station I can’t decide if I want a Dasani or a blah-blah springs water, so how and the hell do I decide which beer I want to fill this goliath of a container with?  Normally I would flip a coin, but there just doesn’t happen to be a coin in existence that would work in this current situation, so I decide to go with my gut and pick the Pirate’s Porter.

I make my purchase, exit, pack it in the cooler, and my babe-o-matic babe-monster and I cruise down to the park by the Cass River.  Shortly after our arrival, I pour her and I a glass of the Porter, which pours smooth and black, leaving a thick tan head (not a sexual reference, perv) at the top.  Next, I raise the glass to my nose in order to take in the aroma.  Immediately, I catch the scent of coffee and roasted malts, which lures me in.  Upon my first sip, I easily realize that this is one of the best, if not the best, porters that I have ever had.  Although I’m typically not a very big fan of this style of brew, this one has truly won me over.  I take a second sip and take in the initial taste of dark-roast coffee mixed with a roasted malt flavor that is almost perfectly paired.  As I mentioned, the initial flavor is great, but the after-taste is almost as good, as it leaves a resonating, very light and distant chocolate flavor at the end.

After my visit to Sullivan’s, I have no choice but to recommend anyone that reads this to their brewery.  In all honestly, the place makes you feel like you are at Grandma’s, but the product which they create is among some of the best, as far as I know thus far.  If you are ever in the Frankenmuth area, don’t be a jackass and go to Frankenmuth Brewery.  Go to this place instead because it truly is, in all honesty, the whip-tits.

-Seymour C. Moore

Atwater Brewery vs. Thirsty Dog Brewery: Imperial Stout Face-Off

AtwaterStoutVSThirstyDogStoutYes, it is 4:00 in the afternoon and yes, I am double fisting two different imperial stouts.

Now you might find yourself thinking  “damn, this dude has a fucking problem”, but I’ve got to tell you, dickhead…. you have never been more wrong.  I woke up this morning with a plan and that plan completely justifies my day drinking. Upon waking from my glorious slumber I realized that I was going to consume Atwater Brewery‘s VJ Black Imperial Stout and Thirsty Dog Brewery‘s Siberian Night Imperial Stout simultaneously, with one goal in mind: to figure out which would reign supreme in an epic daytime battle.  “Why?”, might you ask.  Because I haven’t got a damned thing better to do, that’s why.

From the first whiff, I realized that this gnarly battle was off to an epic start with both brews having a triumphant aroma.  I have to give it to Atwater, for their brew has a much more inviting and enticing scent than Thirsty Dog, but I can’t let the smell alone decide for me.   The scent of the two led me to the hardest part, which was deciding which deserved the first sip.  To relieve myself of decision making stress I decided to let a shitty old coin make the decision for me: Atwater won.

So I lean back in my chair, take a deep breathe, and take my first sip.  Right off the bat I can taste the strong malt flavor paired with the magnum hops and a slight hint of vanilla.  The combination of the three seem to blend perfectly, giving this particular stout a perfectly smooth, bold taste.  The aftertaste reminds me almost of a fine, dark chocolate mixed with a hint of coffee and I have to admit, I’m truly astonished…. If you are looking for a stout that is smooth, bold, strong, and slightly sweet, this stout is perfect for you.  I’m going to go out on a limb and say that this is possibly the best beer I’ve had from Atwater Brewery.

I snap back to reality, realizing that this is not the only beer I’m drinking this afternoon.  I look to my right to find a pint glass conveniently full of Thirsty Dog’s Siberian Night Imperial Stout.  I take a drink of water to help cleanse my pallet, and repeat the process of consumption.  The first taste is that of malt, with a slightly more tart taste than Atwater’s brew, which I’m assuming comes from whichever type of hops they used in the brewing process (their website seems to have some secrets).  The aftertaste is barely there, but consists of the flavor of a nice, dark-roasted coffee.  What I enjoyed most about this gnarly brew is the balance between sweetness and bitterness, which these guys paired up nicely.

So let’s simply look at the facts:
Both are awesome.
Neither one sucks a cheetah’s dick.
And I would recommend either one to my bestest of friends.  But, I’ve got to decide on a winner.

I’ve mentioned the great things about both of these gnarly brews, but I have come to my final decision.  In all categories, I have to say that Atwater Brewery’s VJ Black Imperial Stout barely scrapes by with a win.  From its great aroma to it’s bold, smooth flavor, this one takes the lead and wins the crown of the very first Gnarly Brew Face-Off.

Victorious

-Seymour C. Moore