Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Nogne O #100

Nogne O suggests drinking this beer in a comfortable chair in front of the fireplace.  Since there's really no need for fireplaces in SoCal and the comfy chair is more often a European convention, my living room and couch will have to suffice.

However, I have been listening to a Mingus Pandora station a lot recently and I think combined with cooking dinner in the background and a relaxed Monday eve, the intention is the same.  Either way, it provides a nice background for this beer Barleywine.

Huge head, almost rocked out of my glass.  Lacing is thick and beautiful, the kind of foam you'd see in Peter Seller's The Party, for those that know it.  Very sweet aromas, hints of malt, berries, raisins, and a Belgian candi sugar: very complex.
Cool vapors out of the bottle.

Tasting this beer, however, brings a surprise to one's mouth.  The sweetness that is embedded in the aroma, is quick to disappear in a slimmer body with heavy hop presence.  The front end sort of vanishes as soon as you put it to your lips, replaced by a huge backend of alpha acid hops that have a fantastic bitter flavor and really get under and on the sides of your tongue.  In the middle there's a bittersweet chocolate bridge, capped with a hint of smokey flavor; they are unspoken, yet implied flavors, in this unusually complex, but not at all unenjoyable beer.

This barleywine departs from the usual sweet berry type beers that bear its namesake, however, does not disappoint where one would expect the hop presence.  A fuller body and a bigger balance on the front end would make me recommend this beer that much more, but as is, it's certainly an intriguing creation from our Norwegian friends.

#100: ***1/2

Friday, April 23, 2010

North Coast Old Stock Ale

As Winter turns to Spring and we turn our clocks forward for more daylight, so does my palate migrate towards lighter bodied pale ales, IPAs, pilsners and hefeweizensin this summer-like southern california weather.  But until I restock, I've got a fair amount of Barleywines and heavy ales in my fridge, so I've got some work to do.

Tarty aroma with a light touch of malts.  Average amount of head on this 11.7% beast.  The taste is rich and classic Barleywine.  A heavy body, rich with raisin-like malts and a deep amber color, the alcohol content cuts through and adds a delicious added component to therich body.  The hop presence is a little lighter than I'd like, definitely making its presence known in the mix, but hardly cutting through the thick malts.

Not a lot of incredible inventiveness here and I could definitely do with some more hops, but that being said, this is a pretty rock solid Barleywine for it's classic flavor and alcohol content, and I for one, am having a lot of fun drinking it.

Old Stock Ale: ***1/2

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Well, I have a few posts all ready to go today, but unfortunately, all the pictures are on my other computer. So, indulge me this week as I'll have to post on Thursday instead of Tuesday.  However, in the meantime, enjoy your 4/20.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Stone/Brewdog Bashah

Sitting down to a beer after a long hard day of work, on a Saturday no less.  As I sit back let myself relax into this glass of Bashah, I'm reminded of a mindset, or perhaps ideology, that goes deeper than the craft brew movement.  Regardless of what's in your glass, miller lite or Beer Geek Breakfast, after a long hard day of work, there really is nothing better than something cold and frosty to restore your spirit and vitality.

The Bashah is no exception.  I'm opening this beer with quite a bit of trepidation.  It's been exhalted for its collaborators, Stone and Brewdog, two of the industry leaders.  If you haven't already, you should watch Stone's 30 minute video about the making of this beer.  I was lucky enough to try this beer on tap at the Daily Pint about a month ago, but was pretty disappointed as it had a similar funk to my Shah Mat, leading me to believe that either I had stumbled upon some mysterious ingredient combination of Black IPAs, or my beer had simply gone bad.

It doesn't take too long after opening this beer to tell, that the batch I had on tap had simply gone bad.  Why? Because this is good.

There's practically no head on this beer and the aroma is almost entirely Belgian yeast.  The taste, however, is much more complex.  The front end is mostly hops and carbonation with a slight citrus bend.  The clarity and wildness of the yeast seems to take over in the middle and we finish with an incredibly complex mixture of chocolate roasted grains, and VERY bitter alpha acid hops.  Actually, those two descriptions should be reversed because while the bitter is settling in under the tongue, the chocolate roast subtley spreads out like a final shockwave: definitive punctuation on a very wordy sentence.

The body is understandably light to enhance the IPA qualities.  The Belgian yeast does the job it's supposed to, really enhancing the bitterness of the hops, but plays perhaps too much of a role in the flavor for my liking.  The flavors seem to swing from one to another rather than roll, and a bit of smoothing in this balance could hopefully be incorporated into future collaborations.

Lastly, in Stone spirit, they have adorned the label with typically Stone-esque long paragraph of sometimes wise, sometimes philosophical ramblings.  Unfortunately, this is not one of their better ones as it says little beyond commenting on the elusive and illusive qualities of their beer.  All that aside, it's well made beer with a lot to offer its happy drinkers with 8.6% alc.

Bashah: ****

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Gentleman Scholar Brewing Espresso Stout

I opened this unknown beer with a bit of aggression to the tune of Def Leppard's Escariot, hoping to finally kick the the soar throat that's been bugging me for days.  I've never heard of Gentleman Scholar Brewing before and was even more surpised to see that their LLC is on Westwood and their brewing headquarters is in El Monte.  But I was sold on it by a great silver and black label with a skeleton in the style Tim Burton's Nightmare before Christmas.

True to it's name it smells like a coffee beans and malt, but it's not that good, deep, rich coffee smell that you get off your morning cup, nor is it the thick espresso shot served to you at Italian espresso bar.  it smells more like an oversweetened machine made cup from 7-11.  Being a heavy coffee drinker that drowns himself in dark roasted fair-trade, organic, dark roasted coffee daily, this was not the smart introduction the Scholar should be looking for.
The taste didn't stray much farther from here and was really not much more than an extension of the aromas.  The front end has too much carbonation for a stout and the small bit of coffee flavor gets almost completely dominated by the watery malts that seem only an empty shell of their former sweetness.  The back end is a rush of all these flavors with little grace or balance, leaving you with the feeling that you've just drank the coffee grinds from someone else's cup.

Perhaps this beer could have redeemed itself if it had a thicker body to carry some of the malt richness on.  For such a bold creation, 7% does seem a little low, and I wonder if increased alcohol content wouldn't have created more viscosity for the flavors to grow and the body to thicken.  Instead you're left with a beer that has little to nothing in the way of backbone, which for me – a beer lover born from stouts – makes for a sad day indeed.

Espresso Stout: *

Thursday, April 1, 2010

O'Doul's Amber

Today in honor of blossoming Springtime, I decided to review a new beer simply named, O'Doul's Amber.  It doesn't look like an amber coming out of the can with a medium amount of head and not much lacing, I would have guessed this is a Pilsner.  

Upon the first sip I taste wonderful organic ingredients like corn syrup, sodium isoascorbate, and potassium metabisulfite!  The beer is malty and crisp, golden yellow, but not too fizzy, reminds me of childhood, drinking a sweet sickly cola.  Not getting much hops here, but more interestingly there's an additional flavor that's making this beer a winner.  Perhaps O'Doul's aged this beer to perfection, because it tastes like it sat on the shelf for several years: metallic, bitter, all the things you'd expect from a good canned beer. 

As we head into warm springtime, I cannot recommend this beer enough.  My one complaint would be that there's not much alcohol bite and strangely they don't list their alc content.  Oh well, can't have it all I guess.

O'Doul's Amber: *****