Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Bootlegger's Rustic Rye

Now here's an interesting beer from our growing neighbor Bootlegger's to the south.  I have to admit, I haven't had a lot of rye beers, and I don’t think I've ever seen a Rye IPA before.

For those that don't know, rye beers simply use rye grain in the bill in order to promote spicy and sour flavors in the beer. The aroma is fairly floral in the hops variety; a bit of citrus, perhaps some raisins.  I think the most surprising thing upon drinking this beer is its very light body combined with an astringent mouthfeel and high carbonation.  The cumulative effect of those qualities makes the beer not unlike a heavy pilsner.  Perhaps this IPA has a bit of an identity crisis.

Otherwise the flavors are not unlike a standard IPA without much of a wallop at the end.  What punch is there is more beta acids than alpha.  The rye is rather hard to detect, however, a bit of sour and spice in the finish is your final clue to that mystery.  There's also a bit of a smokey flavor that comes out in the waning moments, however, I think this due more to an earthy hop strain than to the rye.

Overall, this beer is so light it's an incredibly drinkable and at 6.2% makes it a great early evening beer.  Not much to really critique here, with a crisp mouthfeel and very detectable flavors this isn't really an overly complicated beer, yet it clearly achieves the simple goal it lays out. I can't help but wish the rye were a little more discernable to give it some more character.  We paired this with few cheeses for fun and found it excellent for pairing because of it's astringent finish.

Rustic Rye: ***

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Mikkeller, Nelson Sauvin Single Hope

Hope you all had a great LA Beer Week.  Back to good old Mikkeller.  A few months ago I decided I'd give you all a break from my nonstop Mikkeller raving, however, I still have four or five bottles of the Single Hop Series in my fridge, just waiting to be opened, so we're back at it again.

I thought I'd try the Nelson Sauvin because it's a hop I don't have much experience with.  Surprisingly, it originates in New Zealand rather than on the West Coast. I say surprising because Mikkeller generally shows a deference to West Coast Hop themed IPAs, so I was surprised this was one of his choices.  The hop is fairly cherised for its high alpha acids as well its grape like character.  That means it delivers quite a complex mix of fruitiness while still maintaining its hop bite.  It's oils are often described as "fresh crushed goose berries," which interestingly enough is more often a term used to describe a grape used in some Sauvignon Blancs.  This beer pours frothy with a decently webbed foam and a floral aroma dominated by the smell of red or green wine grapes.  The aroma of the grapes is distinct and really quite amazing.  The color is a much deeper orange than I would have expected, almost an amber.  The taste... wow, the flavor!

On stopping to think of how to describe the taste of this beer, I'm left slightly speechless at first due to its complexity and richness.  The front end is a subtle flavor, it starts with a even balance of fruit and malts.  As the beer opens up, you get a bit more of that young grape flavor that presented itself in the aroma.  The sweet flavors start to expand and for a moment you start to wonder if this could possibly be a barleywine – if somehow you grabbed the wrong bottle off the shelf.  But just as you're about to get up and check, the familiar hop bitterness begins to kick in, starting gradually and finishing with an extremely well balanced punch.  I can certainly see why this hop strain is so exhaulted and why Mikkeller had to use it.  It's an incredible balance of sweet and bitter, and the pungency of the grape flavor is so distinct that you really are wowed by its richness.  At 6.9%, the beer is just enough alcohol content to enjoy what you're drinking without being overwhelmed by the hot presence of alcohol on your throat and tongue.  I often bemoan IPAs that stray too far from the origin of the American style, however, the craftmanship in this beer leaves little room for criticism and even less liquid left in the bottle.

Nelson Sauvin Single Hop: *****

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

LA Beer Week, part II

Ok, here are my suggestions for the last 5 days of LA Beer Week, I hope you all have been enjoying yourselves so far.

Wednesday, Oct 13

Stone Archive night @ Tony's Darts Away
Stone is bringing a load of their aged and old releases (i.e. limited) to this one night only event.  Those familiar with the Vertical Epic series will note that they are releasing their latest on 10.10.10 so I'm guessing there's a good chance it may be here.  Should be fantastic!

Thursday, Oct 14

Allagash Brewer's Dinner @ Tin Roof Bistro
I've never been to Tin Roof Bistro in Manhattan Beach, but judging by their menu and their pairing with Allagash, it's long overdue.  I'm guessing this will be a fancier event, but if you've never been to a beer pairing dinner it's really a great experience.  Check out the exquisite menu for this beer pairing dinner that promises to be well worth the money.

Hot Knives/Bruery pairing @ Surly Goat
Hot Knives again (make their own cheese), this time pairing their cheeses with beers from The Bruery.  Both brewer and cheese maker (is there are word for that?) are incredible artisans and this should be a great event.

Friday, Oct 15

Stone night @ Lucky Baldwin's
This is more Stone archive and goodness featuring some of their limited and current releases.  Probably similar to the other Stone events going on all week, but if this is closer to you or you miss the other ones, stop by here.

Drake's Denogginizer @ Library Alehouse
This is an awesome double IPA from Drake's.  I just found it in the bottle last week at Beverage Warehouse, but I'm yet to see it on tap.  Should be pretty epic.

Schneider and Cheese Impressario pairing @ Surly Goat
This should be vastly different from the Hot Knives cheese pairing and is well worth checking out.  Personally, I'm not familiar with the Cheese Impressario (Barrie Lynn), but based on Surly Goat's reputation I'm betting it will be pretty awesome.

Firestone premiere of Dark Knights @ Blue Palms
Somehow this slipped past me when I was initially reading the list.  There will be red carpet photos and food and cheese Pairings. Taste the delicousness of their brand new beer, The Dark Knights... 2010 Black Xantus, 2010 Parabola, Cask~Velvet Merlin, Walker's Reserve, also available, Double Jack, DBA, Pale 31, and Union Jack!

Saturday, Oct 16

Schneider Beer Brunch @ Wurstkutche
I half debated leaving this one off my list cause now it's gonna be absolutely packed.  But this is just too good to ignore.  Schneider and Aventinus paired with Wurstkutche Snausages!!  You don't get much more Oktoberfest than this.

Great Divide @ Naja's
You missed Great Divide at Congregation?  Lucky you, they're back again at Naja's.  Check last week's post for info about the Great Divide Brewery, but the short of it is they have some incredible beers that you won't get elsewhere.

Firestone Night @ Tony's Darts Away
Firestone is bringing a whole range of styles for you to try and Tony's is doing different flights so you can try all different varieties.  I'm betting they'll have their new beer, Dark Knights available as well.

Sunday, Oct 17

Union Station Beer Festival
This is actually the only event of the day and I'm sure it will be epic.  70 breweries, $40 entry for unlimited 4oz tastings.  The unlimited tastings is a pretty unique feature for a beer festival.  I haven't been able to find the list of breweries in attendance, maybe someone can comment if they know, but nonetheless, it should be great.  See you there!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

LA Beer Week, part I

I'm guessing those who read my blog regularly will already know about this, but just in case you're one of the few people that are living a life of purity out in a cave somewhere...  LA Beer Week starts this Thursday, the 7th, and goes through the 17th.

Personally, I can't wait.  I only wish I had some time off work so I could fully enjoy all 11 days of all day activities.  If you've never done a beer week or beer festival, the list of events can be pretty overwhelming, so I thought I'd highlight a few of the events that I think will well be worth attending.

First a couple of suggestions and disclaimers:

1. These are just some of the highlights.  Use these for rough suggestions, but definitely go and read all the events that are available.  There are a lot of great parties to check out, you can view all the events here.

2. Try to vary up your activities.  Don't just hit a bar, go to a beer pairing dinner, or a cheese pairing, or style competition.  There's a lot of great ways to enjoy beer.

3. Try new beers.  Racer 5 is great, but you can order it when Beer Week is over.  Seriously, try a new beer, try a new style, a lot of these will only available this week; you'll never see them again!

4. Pace yourself.  I know you're all shaking your heads, but a lot of these beers are STRONG!  A good rule of thumb is to drink tasters or have a glass of water for every beer you drink.  Nobody wants to be that guy passed out in the corner after three beers... I hate that guy.

Thursday, Oct 7

Stone Brewing @ Naja's
For those that live in the Redondo Beach area this is an extraordinary treat; those that live close by, consider making the drive.  Greg Koch, Steve Wagner, Mitch Steele from Stone, will be on hand with 40 Stone beers!!

Friday, Oct 8

Avery night @ Blue Palms
For the uninitiated, Avery Brewing is based out of Colorado and they're one of my favorite breweries.  Owner Adam Avery will be on hand, I'm sure with some extraordinary beers.  I don't think they make a bad beer.  Swing by and order a truffle burger while you're there.

Saturday, Oct 9

Oktoberfest @ Verdugo
With Verdugo's big outdoor patio, this should be a great time.  They're doing a traditional Oktoberfest style day from 1 - 7 with traditional German beers like Spaten, Paulener, and Schneider plus they've got German food like pretzels and sausages.

Houblon Chouffe tapping @ Library Alehouse
The Houblon Chouffe Dobbelen IPA Tripel is a Belgian IPA and one of my favorites.  You can generally find it around town in the bottle, but not every place has it on tap.  If you've never tried this beer and like hops, definitely swing by for a great beer.

Ballast Point Brewing @ Naja's
Ballast Point is one of our acclaimed local Southern California brewers (San Diego), and they'll be bring a bunch of their beers to Naja's.  Worth checking out.  Naja's is actually doing all day activities including Belgian beers from Wetton Importers and a beer and cheese pairing event.

Sunday, Oct 10

Great Divide Extravaganza @ Congregation Alehouse
I was lucky enough to check out this new place down in Long Beach last week and it's pretty cool.  Even cooler is that they'll have Great Divide on hand for the celebration.  Great Divide is thought to be among the top ten in American brewing and their beers are very hard to get out here.  Congregation will have 6 taps and bottles as well.

LA CABAL present Brewer's Brunch @ Eagle Rock Brewing
This is a beer inspired brunch with a menu set by Hot Knives.  Hot Knives is a blogging/cheese making team that love beer and cheese.  If you haven't had their stuff, you've got to try it, simply mouthwatering.  

Beer Float Showdown II @ Verdugo
This is going to be an epic battle of Los Angeles beer floats going head to head.  What's even better is that you get to be the judge!  Last year Golden State beat out Bottle Rock in a heated battle.

Monday, Oct 11

Premiere of Beer Ice Cream @ Scoops
Scoops is widely thought to be the best, most creative, ice cream shop in LA.  Golden State uses their ice  cream for their famous beer floats.  Well it looks like Scoops is skipping a step as they'll be debuting their  own, Beer ice cream.

Molecular Dinner featuring the Bruery @ Beachwood
This may be a little too far to drive for some, but certainly worth the trip for those culinarily inclined.  Gabe Gordon will be the head chef for this beer pairing dinner that should make some serious waves.

Oro de Calabaza @ Library Alehouse
Jolly Pumpkin is another brewery considered to be among the American brewer's greatest.  Oro de Calabaza is their highly rated Biere de Garde, and also one of my favorites for this style.  While it's not impossible to find this on tap at other times during the year, it's worth the trip if you like sour beers and have never had it.

Tuesday, Oct 12

Lost Coast 20th Anniversary @ Spring Street Smoke House
I actually haven't been down to this venue yet, but a BBQ with Lost Coast on tap should be epic.  Lost Coast is bring some of their staple beers along with some limited releases.

Strand Brewing Night @ Boneyard Bistro
Speaking of BBQ, have you been to Boneyard Bistro yet?  If you haven't, check it out.  Strand Brewing, another local, will be on hand with some of their beers.

That's all for this week.  Next week I'll finish up with suggestions for the 13th through 17th.