Monday, February 11, 2013

2/11: Flying Dog's In Heat Wheat

Hi all.  The team I coach is in a tournament now, so it is a hectic week. I am glad that my bocce team had a bye tonight, otherwise there might not be a post this week.  Seriously, tomorrow I have a meeting at 6, and basketball practice at 8; Wednesday is our multi-course pre-Valentine's Day dinner; Thursday is a basketball game; Friday is Card Party!; Saturday we have both a league game and a tournament game.  So enough about the rest of my life, you've probably come here for the beer...

In last week's post I mentioned beers that I had had, without saying anything about them.  Let me now talk about some of the beers that I've had in February...

 Trader Joe's 2012 Vintage Ale: 
They say...
Drawing upon centuries-old Trappist Monk brewing traditions, the Belgian-style dark ale is bottle conditioned on lees (aged in the bottle on fresh yeast). This year, it results in finely structured brew that presents rich, malty (mildly sweet) flavor, with notes of cocoa and mulling spices.

My reaction...
Being a "dark ale" I was surprised that it wasn't black or brown, but rather reddish/golden.  At 9% abv, it was a winter warmer, that was bubbly and spicy and a bit sweet.  It had red wine notes.  So their was a mulled wine aspect to this beer.  An interesting beer.

Killian's Irish Red:
It is a lager, and it tasted largely like a mainstream lager.  The difference was that the malt was slightly roasted, which showed up in some slight "toast" and "caramel" notes on the tongue and accounted for the reddish color of the beer.  But it looks more different than it tastes.

Is a Mexican lager.  The brand is not a craft beer.  It is a beer designed for quenching a thirst on a hot day, or cooling your mouth down after eating some spicy food.  It is not very popular with Anglos in America, but the brand is popular with Mexicans and Mexican Americans.  Tecate sponsors several Mexican soccer teams and advertises primarily on Spanish-language television.  But they are starting to advertise to Anglos with the tag line... "It's not beer, it's cerveza."  Can the guy who wrote "Foster's, it's Australian for beer" sue?

Flying Dog's In-Heat Wheat Hefeweizen:
They say...
Flavor notes: Huge banana and clove notes.

I didn't taste either.  Instead I tasted a subtle cotton candy note on the finish.  It wasn't cloudy like the
hefeweizens I have enjoyed before.  It was a good wheat beer, but it didn't strike me as a hefeweizen.

Happy Valentine's Day.  Have a good week.  Go Raiders!

-Jim from Milwaukee

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

2/6: Five beers in six days

After month #1 of My Year of Beer, I was was tired.  Not tired of drinking beer, but tired of writing about drinking beer.  A post takes about an hour to write, and this is not my whole life or my career.  On Friday, February 1st, I worked until quitting time, walked to my car and found that my car wouldn't start.  I called my wife for a ride because I needed to get to one of my volunteer gigs - the monthly fish fry at my church.  She was able to get me to the fish fry 10 minutes before the doors opened.  (Just 20 minutes late.)  Other volunteers had organized my station, so I was ready to go when the doors opened.  My station?  I sell beverages; bottled water, soda and yes - beer - cans on Miller Genuine Draft and Miller Lite and bottles of the "mystery" Beer of the Month, (BOM).  This month the BOM was Killian's Irish Red. 

As the fish fry was wrapping up, one of the guys from the kitchen offered me a cup of the beer they use to batter the fish. (Pabst?) And when the event ended I was able to have one of the BOM's with my fish fry.  Then it was time to go home.  At home we had invited over my home-brewing friends; Jim S. and Jon P. (and their wives) - with whom we are hosting the "Beer Dinner" in June.  Jon and Jim brought beer - as did my father-in-law.  We opened a bottle of Trader Joe's 2012 Vintage Ale and shared its contents.

The next day, after getting my car battery replaced and coaching my basketball team, I attended a sheepshead party that was a fundraiser for my church.  While playing cards I had two bottles of New Glarus' Spotted Cow.

Over the next four days, I had three days of work, two basketball practices, my bocce night and a can of Tecate with dinner tonight.

So let us recap.  I worked a fish fry and attended a sheepshead party in successive nights.   That is why they call me...

-Jim from Milwaukee

Thursday, January 31, 2013

1/31: Milwaukee Brewing's Booyah Farmhouse Ale

So my "Year of Beer" ends month number one with Booyah, a farmhouse ale from the Milwaukee Brewing Company.  (My first beer from the city of Milwaukee.)  Farmhouse ales are also known as "saisons."  These beers, which originated in the southern Belgian countryside, were typically brewed in the spring.  According to MJ, they "had to be sturdy enough to last for some months, but not too strong to be a summer and harvest thirst quencher." (Companion, p. 125)  But Booyah is year-round beer for Milwaukee Brewing

MJ describes the style as... "refreshingly crisp, tart beers" and "the flavor was heightened by a generous dose of hops, and perhaps spices." (p. 125)  To me, it tastes somewhere in between a summer wheat/white beer and a hoppy ale.  According to the brewery's website, one of the owners explains that Booyah was named after a soup/gathering-centered-around-eating-the-soup.  He said that the soup is made with a long list of ingredients, and their farmhouse ale is too. 

It is a fine beer.  The spices (if there are any) are subtle.  It starts out slightly fruity and ends on a hoppy note.  As I have said before "hoppy" is not my favorite taste in beer, but it might be yours.  It rates a 3.

-Jim from Milwaukee

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

1/30: Potosi Fiddler Oatmeal Stout

I am drinking differently now, and differently than I thought I would.  Tonight, among the thoughts about the taste of the beer (is that toasted cherry?), I am thinking "how is this stout any different than a porter?"  Luckily, I have MJ to help me on my journey.  In Companion, he says that in the heyday of porters, brewers would make several different strengths of porters, and the fuller-bodied ones became known as stouts.(p. 170)  Fiddler has 8% abv, so I suppose it qualifies as a stout, even if it is the only porter/stout that the brewery makes.  But this one isn't just a stout, it is an oatmeal stout.  And oatmeal stouts are considered to be a more nutritious than "regular" stouts.

MJ claims that a comment he wrote in a  1977 book resurrected the oatmeal stout style.  According to MJ, "Brewers with vague recollections of having made the style in the 1950s maintain that they used up to 15% oats." (p. 187)  But because oats gelatinize and make mashing difficult - and because "oats in the lower single figures" influence the taste, MJ doesn't think an oatmeal stout needs that high a percentage of oats. (p. 187)  Potosi Brewery in Potosi, Wisconsin agrees with him, they use 10% oats in this seasonal beer. 

It was good.  A 3 on my scale.  There is nothing wrong with this beer.  It had the dark roasted caramel, coffee, chocolate, toasted fruit flavors that are typically found in a porter or stout, but if the oats imparted a "firm, smooth, silky body" to the beer (p. 187), I missed that.  (It is much subtler than the rye beers.)  But if they snuck healthy oatmeal into my beer without me noticing, then these brewers from the southwest corner of my state are to be commended.

As I approach the end of my first month of my year of beers, I am contemplating changes.  I can find time to drink a beer every day, but finding the time to write about them has been more difficult.  It often takes an hour to write a post.  I am losing sleep on some nights.  Maybe I will cut back on my posts.  Of course, things like illness, coaching or international travel may interfere with my ability to drink a beer everyday.  We will see how it goes, but I guarantee that I will post tomorrow with my 31st beer of January, 2013.  Or my name isn't...

-Jim from Milwaukee

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

1/29: Redd's Apple Ale

Redd's Apple Ale
Well I knew it would be different, and since the weather was unseasonably warm, I figured that I would drink a beer out of season too.  Today's beer is Redd's Apple Ale.  (If you have seen the movie "Rock of Ages," let me say "Double the "d," Double the "p" - Double the flava.")   The bottle says it is made by Redd's Brewing Company, Albany, Georgia.  Their website says nothing.  The only content is a "store locator" that doesn't currently work. 

I did some digging and discovered that SAB Miller acquired this Polish label and decided to bring it to America.  It was first rolled out primarily in the south, and is now becoming available in the midwest.  In fact these markets are going to see this 15 second commercial during the Super Bowl.  I guess this is my week to be timely with MillerCoors products.

So in paragraph three, I suppose I should start discussing the actual beverage.  In a press release they said, "The beer is 'Crisp like an Apple. Brewed like an ale.' This is no cider, it’s a golden ale with red apple hints."  I poured it in my glass, it fizzed like soda, there was no head.  I tasted it and I detected no ale taste.  I beg to differ with you marketing copywriter person; this is a cider.  Don't get me wrong - I like cider and I'll give it a 3 - but it really doesn't belong in my year of beers.

-Jim from Milwaukee

Limited Bibliography

Monday, January 28, 2013

1/28: Goose Island Mild Winter

After yesterday's tasty beer made with rye, I thought I'd try another today in Goose Island's Mild Winter.  The label describes it as "American mild ale brewed with rye," and that is what it is.  This is an ale with some rye bread-y notes.  It isn't bad, but it doesn't create the same magic with the rye that Canoe Paddler did.  But still, a solid 3. 

But the label that so clearly described the beer also confused me.  Was this the same Goose Island Brewing Company that made 312 Urban Wheat Ale?  "312" is Chicago's area code, and Goose Island is a Chicago beer... but this Goose Island says "Brewed and Bottled... in Baldwinsville, New York."  The Chicago Tribune set me straight; Goose Island was purchased by Anheuser-Busch a few years back and starting in the second half of 2012, Chicago's Goose Island is going nationwide - being brewed at A-B plants from Colorado to New Hampshire, including their facility in Baldwinsville, NY. 

I prefer this truth in labeling to just printing the address of the home office.  The consumer has the information, and can decide if they care that Chicago's beer is now being brewed elsewhere.  And they can also judge if quality control is up to their personal standards.  Does NY's Goose Island taste the same as CO's, and taste the same as the original.  Granted a bunch of long-time fans are likely to come to the knee-jerk conclusion that only Chicago's Goose Island (or Chippewa Falls' Leinie's, etc.) is the real deal and the others are impostors, so I understand why a brewery might not be as revealing.  But at the end of day, beer is a food product and I want to know both where and when it was brewed.  Kudos to Goose Island for clearly labeling the bottled date of this beer as 11/10/12, as well as saying it is "brewery fresh" for 180 days after that date.  I much prefer that than giving an expiration date, or worse yet a coded bottled date.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

1/27: Leinenkugel's Canoe Paddler

imageThis beer is so new that - as of this writing - it does not appear on Leinie's website, and this beer doesn't have enough ratings at ratebeer to qualify for a score.  This is a new seasonal (spring - summer) beer for Leinie's.  

That aside, it is a Kolsch-style beer, brewed with rye.  That description led me back to my periodic chart of beers and to MJ's Companion.  Kolsch is a golden ale popularized in Cologne, Germany.  The beer's name comes from the name of its city (Koln, in German).  The beer is "as pale as a pilsner, but with the fruitiness of an ale, Cologne's beer has its own teasing delicacy." (Companion, p. 153)  It is listed as an mixed style, in column XIV, in the chart - a type of Alt beer, but Wikipedia says that Altbier is from Dusseldorf, and while it tastes very similar the rivalry between the two cities probably means that in Cologne they view Altbier and a type of Kolsch.  Regardless, MJ calls it "clean tasting, remarkably light-bodied, soft and drinkable, only faintly fruity..." (p. 154)  This is not a sipping winter beer. I could see drinking a couple at a a ball game.

MJ says that in Cologne, brewers might use up to 15% wheat to get a little more fruitiness, but that this is a "delicate style" without many "dramatic differences" across breweries. (p. 154)  The rye in Canoe Paddler might be dramatic by Cologne standards, but it works.  The rye comes through in the finish, and it lends the beer an added depth of flavor.  I suppose if you don't like rye, you won't like this beer.  To my taste buds, it tastes like a light rye bread.  It would also pair well with a fish fry or a corned-beef sandwich. 

I give it a high "3."  No.  I take that back.  I am craving one right now.  This is a "4."

Jim from Milwaukee