28 December 2006

Farewell 2006 Review

With no idea what we're reviewing, the Knights meet up again tonight at Deano's at 8pm for our last review of 2006. Maybe we'll do a beer from Michigan out of respect for President Gerald Ford. The public is welcome to join us.

24 December 2006

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays to all of you from all of us at the Hoosier Beer Geek! I hope your celebrations are filled with viewings of Christmas Vacation and A Christmas Story!!

20 December 2006

KOTBR Review #9: Rogue's Santa's Private Reserve Ale

OK, it's pretty much official. Deano's has become the official watering hole of the Hoosier Beer Geek and the Knights of the Beer Roundtable. We feel completely at home. We like it. We love it. We want some more of it. Now, I will still buy my six packs at The Hop Shop. And I'm waiting on Courtney to invite us to belly-up to the tasting bar one night, and when he does, we'll sure go. But until then, I think our reviews will be coming to you from Deano's.

Now that's out of the way.

We met up last week to do our first annual Holiday Review. We say "holiday" because we had also planned on some Hanukkah beers from Schmaltz, but, alas, Nick the Bartender was out. So we just stuck with a Christmas beer - Rogue's Santa's Private Reserve Ale.

We also were joined for the first time by Braingirl (not sure she want's me to use her real name or not). She is the newest KOTBR, and she fits right in to our ecclectic group of drunks.

Chris: I was going to try to keep with recent HBG tradition, and write my review in the tune of a Christmas Carol. But I'm just not feeling all that creative. Deal.

I had warmed up on some Bell's Double Cream Stout. All I have to say is "YUM!" My kind of beer! Nick has it on draft right now, and I'm trying to be responsible for helping him to replace it. But this dark brown glass of joy got me in the Christmas mood, and by the time Braingirl joined us, I was ready to launch into our feature - Santa's Private Reserve Ale from Rogue.

Santa, when poured, had a brownish-amber color, a nice tan head, and made me think of chestnuts over open fires and a partridge in a pear tree. On a side note, I have a pear tree in my front yard, and I have never once seen a partridge in it. Hmmmm.

The nose was a little difficult for me to discern because I was still tasting the Stout. But I was able to pick out some gingerbread, maybe, and a good balance of hops. And I know this sounds crazy, but it smelled a little bit like a Christmas tree. Maybe that was just psychological.

It had a full-bodied taste, definitely had some hops to it, but not overwhelming. This was a well-balanced beer. I think I picked out a pinch of nutmeg, a little bit malty, but the beer was definitely moist. It wasn't overly carbonated, but it wasn't dull, either. It - as I'm learning with many good beers - gets better the closer to room temperature it gets.

All in all, it was a pretty good beer. Not my favorite, but pretty good. I'm giving it 3.75 Mugs.

Braingirl: Warm-up Beer: Bell's Winter White Ale. And what a perfect warm-up beer itwas. Perfect for the evening and also for my introduction to Chris and Jim!Thanks for the warm -- and tasty welcome. Now I just have to get over myintroduction to Humphrey the Humping Dog. It was the most traumatic part ofmy KOTBR initiation.

Back to the Bell's: This full tasty brew in the Belgian style was just upmy alley. I've outgrown a bit the full, sweet German style hefe-weissens,but love the smoothness of beers like this one. Not overly bitter or heavy,but not too light either. A clean taste unburdened by sticky, sweet ortangy wheatbeer goo.

And the main event: Santa's Private Reserve from Rogue Ale. Like Jim (orsomeone said), this was the first Rogue Beer I've had that I actually liked. I guess I'm just not cool enough to be a fan of the Pacific Northwestmicrobrew style with it's hallmark hoppy/bitter beers, but this one workedbecause of the toasted grains with enough body to hold it together. Perfectfor winter, this dark amber-colored brew started hoppy with what tasted likeflat-out burned grains to me, but mellowed as it warmed up a bit. A fewdegrees above frosty cold and it was a nice, comfortable winter drinker.And I, too, was a nice comfortable winter drinker. I give it 3.5 Mugs.

Jim: The Knights were back together at our home sweet home, Deano’s Vino, on the night before Chanukah (or Hanukkah or Hanukah or however you prefer to spell it) to do our first holiday themed review. Unfortunately, Jason was out sick, and Kelly was at Deano’s for dinner with friends but couldn’t join us for the review. But Chris and I were happy to be joined by new Roundtable member, Braingirl, who was able to add her own unique epicurean flair to our get-together.

We initially planned to review a Chanukah beer from Shmaltz Brewing Co., which is the purveyor of the He’Brew label. However, upon arrival at Deano’s, our trusty bartender, Nick, informed me that he was out of He’Brew. Nick couldn’t say why he ran out, but I’m pretty sure I know what happened. Rumor has it that Mel “Sugart*ts” Gibson is a secret fan of He’Brew Messiah Bold Ale and stopped by Deano’s on his way to that kooky Holocaust deniers conference in Iran to pick up the last six-pack of Messiah Bold. So that means that Knights are left to review He’Brew’s fine products for another time.

Not one to be disappointed by the He’Brew buzzkill, I started off the night with a warm-up with a local brew: Barley Island’s Barfly IPA. This well-balanced IPA was the first beer that I’ve ever tried from the Noblesville brewery, and I wasn’t disappointed. Since Braingirl did not join Chris and me until an hour after we arrived, Chris and I decided to go with a second warm-up. I chose the beer that Chris started with: Bell’s Double Cream Stout, which is a seasonal from Bell’s offered during the winter months. It’s a smooth, dry stout with a bit of a chocolaty taste. It went down just as easily as the Barfly IPA.

Once Braingirl arrived, we wasted no time getting to the feature beer – Rogue Ale’s Santa’s Private Reserve. I was a bit wary of this beer before we tried it because I’ve not had good experiences with Rogue products. On one previous occasion, I tried Rogue’s Chocolate Stout and American Amber. Once was enough for me. But the Santa’s Private Reserve was impressive stuff. The color of this beer was a deep brownish-red. The nose conjured up images of gingerbread cookies, which is not surprising considering that this is a Christmas beer. The flavor was gingerbread-like as well, and the finish was very dry and hoppy. I found this to be a good beer to hold in my mouth for a few seconds rather than swallow right away because of the pleasant taste.

In short, Rogue Ales has redeemed itself in my eyes with this beer. Four mugs easily!

17 December 2006

Humphrey Holidays!!

Happy Holidays from Humphrey, the Humping Dog - the unofficial "Official" Mascot of Hoosier Beer Geek. Don't drink his pale ale if he offers a sip!!

13 December 2006

Holiday Roundtable on Thursday

The Knights of the Beer Roundtable meet up again on Thursday evening at Deano's for our first annual Holiday Review. We're not just going to review Christmas beers, but Chanukkah beers (well, at least their Jewish beers), too. Now, we want to be all inclusive, but we're not aware of any Kwanza beers, so if you know of some, let us know so we can try them, as well!!

12 December 2006

Now we can pay our bar tab!

lifted from allaboutbeer.com

Drinkers Earn More Money Than Nondrinkers

A study by economists Bethany Peters and Edward Stringham has found that drinkers earn 10 to 14 percent more money at their jobs than nondrinkers. In addition, men who drink socially, visiting a bar at least once a month, bring home an additional seven percent in pay. The study, published by the Journal of Labor Research and Reason Foundation, was titled "Social Drinking Builds Social Capital." Stringham, an economics professor at San Jose State University, said "Social drinkers are out networking, building relationships and adding contacts to their BlackBerries that result in bigger paychecks."

The study found that men who drink earn 10 percent more than abstainers and that women drinkers earn 14 percent more than nondrinkers. Women who frequent bars at least once per month do not show higher earnings than women drinkers who do not visit bars.

09 December 2006

Who was Gambrinus?

So the beer trivia post got me looking a little more into the Patron Saint of Beer, Gambrinus, a saint even those of us who are non-Catholic can pray to (and probably have after having a few too many). I lifted this from Wikipedia:

Gambrinus is a legendary king of Flanders, and an unofficial patron saint of beer or beer brewing.

The origin of the character is most widely believed to be John, Duke of Burgundy (13711419), who some also believe to be the inventor of hopped malt beer. One of Charlemagne's cupbearers was also called Gambrinus.

In what is possibly the earliest known record of the name, the
German poet Burkart Waldis mentioned Gambrinus in the year 1543, explaining that Gambrinus learned the art of brewing from Isis, the ancient Egyptian goddess of motherhood and fertility.

Latin etymologies of the name include cambarus (cellarer) and ganeae birrinus (one who drinks in a tavern). The Gambrinus brewery of Plzeň, Czech Republic explains the name as originating from Jan Primus (John the First), referring to John I, Duke of Brabant.[1]

Although not as likely, Gambrinus might also derive from camba, a word from the Celtic language family that refers to a brewer's pan. Alternatively, Gambrinus may be a corruption of the name Gambrivius.

Gambrinus is often depicted either in kingly garb, dressed as an
English knight of the Middle Ages, or (less commonly) as a plump old man.

Because of Gambrinus' significance, numerous
European and North American brewers have adopted the character (or his name) in their beer brands. Several notable breweries are named for Gambrinus, including:

Gambrinus Brewery of Plzeň, Czech Republic
Gambrinus of
Mulhouse, Alsace, France
The Gambrinus Company of
San Antonio, Texas, U.S.A.
Gambrinus Brewing Co. of Oshkosh, Wisconsin
The Gambrinus Brewing Company of
Columbus, Ohio, U.S.A.

Beer Trivia

What is the Most Expensive Beer in the World?
Answer: It’s called “Tutankhamen” and is prepared according to the recipe recovered by a group of University of Cambridge archaeologists in Queen Nefertiti’s Temple of the Sun in Egypt. It costs US $52 a bottle, and is produced in limited and numbered edition.

What country has the most individual beer brands?
Answer: That would be Belgium, with 400.

From what part of brewing did the term “rule of thumb” originate?
Answer: before the advent of thermometers, brewers tested the temperature of their maturing brews with their thumbs: too cold, and the yeast wouldn’t grow, too hot, and it would die.

Who was the first American to brew lager type beer?
Answer: The first US lager was brewed in 1840 by John Wagner, who had a small brewery in the back of his house on St. John Street in Philadelphia. Wagner brought the first lager yeast to the United States from a brewery in Bavaria.

What is Cenosillicaphobia the fear of?
Answer: Fear of an empty glass

What is brew master in Latin?
Answer: braxator

Explain the roots of the Scandinavian toast, sköl.
Answer: The familiar Scandinavian toast sköl derives from scole, the drinking bowl shaped like the upper half of a human skull. Originally, these bowls were fashioned from the actual skulls of enemy killed in battle.

What king is known as the "patron saint of beer?"
Answer: King Gambrinus (not to be confused with St. Arnold, the patron saint of brewing).

What was the length of Prohibition?
Answer: Prohibition lasted 13 years, 10 months, 19 days, 17 hours, 32 1/2 minutes

What is the best selling brand in the Western Hemisphere outside of the United States? What country is it brewed in?
Answer: Brahma Beer. It is brewed in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

05 December 2006

Dream Job

The folks over at indianabeer.com are offering up a dream job for you lucky bastards who know html. Check out the freakin' benefits on this!!

Webmaster for indianabeer.com

Job description: Maintain indianabeer.com and keep it fresh and up to date. Use your technical creativity and knowhow to share your love of craft beer with others. You will be given creative latitude. Indinabeer.com is a website for craft beer enthusiasts, beer geeks, home brewers, and festivarians. This is not a job, it is an adventure!

Skills: Web design, website management, knowledge of HTML, ability to work with other contributors, technical knowhow to add new features and make current features better. Creativity, writing skills, and digital photography are important. Knowledge of craft beer and enthusiasm for trying new beers a big plus.

Benefits: Reimbursement for expenses directly related to running the site, such as mileage, bar tab, entrance to festivals, and hotel stays when necessary. Digital camera.

Applications will be accepted until the position is filled. Send a brief note explaining why you would do a good job, your technical resume, your beer resume, and any other supporting material to webmaster@indianabeer.com

This opening will remain posted on the front page until a new webmaster is named.

04 December 2006

3 at 3 Floyds

I had an unexpected treat on Saturday night. We went to Chicago for my wife's family reunion, and her parents only live about 25 minutes away from Muenster, IN, home of Three Floyds. So my brother-in-law and I decide to meet over there for a few beers after the reunion. I jumped at the rare chance to try some of one of my favorite brewer's product straight from the tap on-site. I can get Alpha King, Robert the Bruce, Gumballhead, and Dreadnaught any old time, so I decided only to go with the one's you can only get in the brew pub. Now, I could only go with three, because as you can see by the ABV, they're not whimpy beers.

Because the Kights of the Beer Roundtable is planning a full-on roadtrip and review at 3 Floyds in the next few weeks, I'm going to refrain from review, but only offer the menu descriptions, and my Mug assignment to each.

BrooDoo - An intensely hoppy, yet well-balanced harvest ale using Warrior hops along with wet hops from our very own garden. 7.5% ABV. I give it 3.5 Mugs - a bit more flavor than Dreadnaught, but not quite as good.

Chubby Brown - Our brown ale, smooth and malty with flavors of baker's chocolate and cocoa powder. Some of the malts were toasted in our own pizza oven. 8% ABV. I gave this one 4 Mugs - not usually a chocolate beer uber-fan, but I must have had a sweet tooth.

Alpha Klaus - Our Christmas seasonal, a robust porter with notes of bitter unsweetened baker's chocolate and roasted coffee flavors. 7% ABV. 5 Mugs - 'nuff said.

29 November 2006

Hopslam-less Holidays

No big surprise here, but Indiana is nearing the end of its supply of Bell's Hopslam. Only 300 cases came into the Hoosier State, over 30 of which went to The Hop Shop. Courtney tells me tonight that he only has two cases left. He said in all his years in the bidness, he's never seen a beer have so much buzz around it. The good news is that Bell's is going to brew another batch next week, but the bad news is that it won't hit the shelves here for about 5 weeks. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, fellow beer geeks, but that means no Hopslam for Christmas or New Years. Stock up now! If you know of a place with some stock left, please post it here.

27 November 2006

It's Up!

Good Beer Show #99, featuring Jason and myself, has been posted and is available for download. Check it out!

23 November 2006

KOTBR Review #7 & #8: Unibroue's Trois Pistoles & Maudite

In the spirit of overindulgence at Thanksgiving, the KOTBR decided to review not one, but two - count them TWO - beers at the latest Roundtable. These beers were not chosen at random, however. We did stick with reviewing beers from the one good thing in Canada - Unibroue. Now the question of the week is, just how do we pronouce this brewery? I hear the proper pronounciation is "oo-nee-brew". We, however, prefer the more sophomoric "unibrow", as demonstrated by one half of our favorite childhood gay couple, Bert.

Jim, Jason and I met up, sans BrainGirl, who couldn't get out of work committments for her first Roundtable, and Kelly, who overslept by 12 hours or so, at our new favorite hangout - Deano's Vino Restaurant & Wine Bar, in historic Fountain Square. Again, we were awed and impressed with the beer choice, the staff, the atmosphere, and the hospitality. Again, we closed the bar down. Again, we will go back. I simply love this place. If you haven't been, you have to go. And tell them you read about them here, and wanted to check them out (it lends credibility to our position with Deano that he should sponsor us, or at least sponsor the beer!!). If you have been there, go back and tell them you're coming back is because we recommend it so highly.

Not only does all that good stuff we've already said about them make them a great place, but they also have Humphrey, the Humping Dog on tap, and within reach of my barstool of choice, which is endless entertainment for me (if you want to know what I'm talking about, you're just going to have to go in and see for yourself).

So enough of the commercial for Deano's - let's get down to the brew review!

JASON: There is an ongoing discussion amongst the Hoosier Beer Geeks about how to properly pronounce the name of the Canadian brewer Unibroue. I argue that since we are HOOSIER Beer Geeks, we should butcher the pronunciation like we Hoosiers do with all French words (i.e. Versailles) and refer to is as “Unibrow” (as in one eye brow that stretches over both eyes). And so the discussion of pronunciation led to the discussion of body hair maintenance. But I’ll come back to that later.

Unibroue is one of Chris’s favorite brewers and it was his suggestion that we try one of their beers. There were three varieties available at Deano’s Vino: Fin du Monde, Maudite, and Trois Pistoles. It was the latter that we selected as our primary beer to review.

Last week, I was introduced to Unibroue while at the Hop Shop. I consumed some “10” and “11”, which were very champagne-like in taste and appearance. Very good, very high quality. Beers that should be enjoyed slowly, not chugged. And that seems to be the consensus when speaking about all their brews. Unibroue is a high-quality crafter brewer that produces unique and impressive beers.

The Trois Pistoles is a strong dark ale with 9 percent alcohol by volume. It is an incredibly dark and dense beer that can easily block the sunshine in your mind as well as any light in the room. I mean light does not travel through this beer. It’s like a black hole, it just sucks in the light. TP pours with a nice foamy head that settles down until there is a little foam around the edge of the surface. Initially, it creates some great, dense Belgian lace that, much like the head, thins out as the beer sits.

It started with a strong fruit aroma. Jim says that it smelled like plums that have sat around for too long. Not rotten fruit, but just aged. I’m not for certain if I know exactly what a plum smells or tastes like, so I won’t argue with Jim about it. Unfortunately, Deano’s didn’t have any plums for me to smell or taste. Or any plum wine. So I couldn’t do a comparison. But I think I’ll trust Jim’s analysis on this.

I should point out that I don’t like fruity smelling and tasting beers. Just not my thing. I can appreciate the beers for what they are and can understand why others enjoy it. But it’s not my bag, baby. Thankfully, the fruitiness of the beer subsides as you continue to drink it, so for me, the beer became better as I continued to consume it.

The taste also had plenty of fruit to it, but like the aroma, the fruit subsided as time went on. Drinking the beer left a bit of a nice aftertaste or bite on the back of the tongue. I also found the beer to tingle the mouth while drinking. As far as fruity beers go, this was one of the more drinkable beers that I have had. And as Chris pointed out, it seems to be better when you sit back and just consume it versus contemplating all the different elements for a review. It’s a beer that’s better when you just enjoy it instead of analyzing it.

I initially was going to give this beer three mugs. It’s a fine, well crafted beer, but it’s not one that I would go out to buy for myself. It’s just not for me. But I’m going to give it a bonus half mug for the intangibles: being more enjoyable as you go along, being a good beer to just sip and enjoy, and being one of the better fruity beers that I have consumed. So that’s a grand total of 3.5 beer mugs for the Unibroue Trois Pistoles.

We followed up the Trois Pistoles with Unibroue’s Maudite. The intention was to rate this beer as well, but I am going to withhold judgment. TP is a stronger beer than Maudite, therefore numbing my judgment. If I really wanted to judge both of them, I should have reversed the order they were consumed in. But I will briefly describe my initial thoughts on this beer.

Maudite is a strong dark ale with an eight percent ABV. It’s amber in color and has some clarity. There is a pleasant sweet aroma and flavor, though the aroma seemed to not be very strong during this tasting. The beer left a bit of dryness in the back of the throat and I think I sensed a slight clove flavor in the aftertaste. I did enjoy this beer, as well as the He’brewed Messiah Bold. And I look forward to reviewing both beers in the future.

Now, I know that many were disappointed that my beer review was not in haiku this time. And I’m disappointed that I didn’t do it either. But writing in a 5-7-5 manner consumes a large number of brain cells and, frankly, after last night, I have none to spare.

However, since we attract an intelligent class of drunks to this blog, I will offer this bit of literary genius written by yours truly. As I mentioned earlier, we had a body hair discussion during the review. We not only discussed the plucking and shaving of potential unibrows, but also the manicuring of hair in, um, other regions. So this bit of poetry is inspired by Nick at Deano’s Vino and is presented in the style of Shakespearian prose:

There was a bartender in Fountain Square
Who liked to shave all his hair “down there”.
It made “him” look large
And totally in charge
Though the new hair growth itching he could not bear.

My apologies to the kids at home, clergy members, anyone who can’t handle references to “naughty bits”, and those who feel downright dirty for having read that.

JIM: Before I begin, I’d like to extend a big thanks to Deano and Nick for being so hospitable to us. Deano’s place is a first rate establishment. You should head there tout de suite if you haven’t checked it out yet. It is truly one of the crown jewels of Fountain Square.

I’ve decided to up the gimmick ante with my review this week of Unibroue’s Trois Pistoles and Maudite. At the last meeting of the KOTBR, Chris and I kidded Jason for writing his review in haiku form. Someone (maybe me – I can’t remember due to the ale-induced haze) jokingly posited the possibility of writing a review in iambic pentameter. Who am I to refuse such a challenge? The gauntlet has been thrown down! So, here goes. And perhaps you Shakespearean prose experts can tell me if I’m doing this correctly…

The first of ales reviewed by us was dark
Its name was Trois Pistoles, a pungent brew
It held a nose of ripened plums so strong
And tasted much the same but pleased me not
A beer for others, those from northern lands
Three tankards worth of ale this drink does rate

The second beer to pass my lips was called
The name Maudite, a finer brew it was
A whiff of caramel and molasses strong
A flavor same as nose, a lovely taste
I’d order yet another if I could
But that would leave me sprawled upon the floor
Four tankards worth of ale this drink does rate

CHRIS: I'm going to recuse myself from an actual review. I have one written for these beers, but in all fairness, I was suffering from a cold complimented by a stuffy nose and mind-blowing sneezes, and therefore can't give a full review of the nose or taste. I do like both of these beers, however, like everything else from Unibroue I have tried. But in the end, I just can't compete with these cool cats who scribe in limericks and iambic pentameter.

21 November 2006

Helluva Week for the Good Beer Show

Our friends over on the Good Beer Show are simply our heroes. Not only have the devised a system for getting their drinks for free (which we got to partake in last week), they are truly darlings of the media. On Thursday, the GBS is going to be featured on WISH-TV here in town on the 6:00pm segment. And to top that, they got a mention in yesterday's Wall Street Journal, under an article on craft beers.

These guys (and girls) really know their shit when it comes to good beer. We're amateurs in comparison. If you haven't ever downloading their show, check out their site and do so. In fact, download episode #99, which should be up in the next day or two. It's the one we taped with them on Thursday night. We had a blast doing the show, and I think we're going to do a joint show/review between them and us coming up in mid-December.

19 November 2006

A New Knight Rises

The KOTBR proudly claim BrainGirl, of Feed Me / Drink Me fame, as our newest victim! Welcome to the Roundtable! (Which, come to think of it, we've actually only reviewed from an actual "round" table one time - at Brugge.) She will be joining us for the first time this upcoming Tuesday evening as we invade, pillage and maraud Deano's again for a review of Unibroue's Trois Pistoles.

Also, indianabeer.com is currently featuring Jason's review of Thursday night's charity event on it's main page. Thanks to Matt for posting and to Mark for coming to the event!

17 November 2006

From Jason: A Stop at The Hop Shop

I have great admiration for young adults who are not afraid of taking a chance and investing in themselves and their ability to make a concept work. My college friend Adam is 29 years old and has his own successful urban planning and design firm. My drinking buddy Chris is also 29 and has helped create a not-for-profit that focuses on fatherhood in Central Indiana . And then there’s my new hero, Mr. Courtney, who is 27 and owns and operates a specialty liquor store.

I’m referring to him as Mr. Courtney because a.) a success like this deserves the respect of being constantly referred to as “mister” and b.) Courtney is his first name and you should not mistake him for a woman. Mr. Courtney is the proprietor of the Hop Shop on 96th Street . And being the generous man that he is, the Hop Shop hosted a fundraiser for Chris’s not-for-profit Dads Inc. The fundraiser was a beer sampling event and silent auction. I’m hoping they make this a monthly event.

The samplings include 8 beers from Cavalier Distributing and World Class Beverages. These beers were: Founders Black Rye, Breakenridge Christmas Ale, Bison Gingerbread Ale, Cumberland Pale Ale, Bell ’s White Ale, Barley Island Black Majic Java Stout, Anchor’s 2006 Christmas Ale, and Avery Old Jubilation. My favorite were the Black Rye, the Java Stout, and the Anchor Christmas. Also at the tasting were fellow knights Jim and Kelly. We all agreed that events like there are great opportunities to expand your tastes in beer.

There were also wines and liqueurs to sample. I sampled the three whiskeys that were available: a California single malt, a blend scotch, and a single malt peaty scotch. The single malt scotch burned like hell, the California single malt was okay, and the blended scotch was my favorite. In general, I prefer bourbons and blends. I don’t have enough chest hair to drink single malt scotch, especially of the peaty variety.

The event was a success, beating attendance and dollars raised expectations. It is almost certain that we will see this become an annual event.

Chris and Mr. Courtney had invited the Good Beer Show to come down and do their show live from the Hop Shop after the event was over. GBS is an award winning podcast based in Muncie that includes beer reviews by a group of intelligent beer geeks and music. And Chris, Mr. Courtney, and I were invited to sit in, drink, and contemplate with them.

As a warm up, Chris and I started with 3 Floyd’s Dreadnaught, a hoppy IPA with a strong citrus smell and flavor. On the show, we reviewed six beers. Unibroue 10 and 11 were the first beers. These are anniversary beers that contained 10 and 11 percent alcohol respectively. Both remind me of good, sweet, bubbly wines with the 11 being the better drinking beer of the two. That was followed by Samichlaus and Olde Suffolk, both great old-world style beers that are better served at room-temperature. And it was followed with Bell ’s Hopslam and Devil Dancer. Quite a bit of time was spent comparing Hopslam and Dreadnaught. While some said they tasted almost the same, I argued that the Dreadnaught’s fruity taste and smell was more overpowering than the Hopslam’s. And the Devil Dancer was also a very hoppy beer, but with no overpowering fruit flavors or aromas. The last two beers consumed were my favorite of the six. Mr. Courtney was very generous with his beers last night (he did stop short of my recommendation that we open a bottle of Pappy Van Winkle’s 20 Year Aged Bourbon. Can’t say I blame him; it’s $139 a bottle).

I learned several things from last night. There are many people with more ambition and guts than I. There are many people who are more intelligent about beer than I (the crew from the Good Beer Show were great…we’ve been invited up for future broadcasts). I’m not anti-hop as much as I am anti-fruity. And when I go out for beer “tastings”, I should always have a D.D.

15 November 2006

Last Chance For Beer!

This is the final reminder about tomorrow night's A Taste of Good Beer & Fine Wine (& a Silent Auction) at The Hop Shop. Tickets are only $10, and you can get them at the door. Included in the ticket price is the alochol you sample and some light snacks. All proceeds from ticket sales and the silent auction will go to benefit the programs of Dads, Inc. All Knights of the Beer Roundtable will be in attendance, as well as Jeffrey T. and the gang from The Good Beer Show. It's also a great opportunity to get a jump start on your holiday shopping with some very unique and interesting packages at the silent auction. Hope to see you there!

11 November 2006

So Many Publications, So Little Beer

When it rains, it pours! Hoosier Beer Geek grabs a mention in yet another Indy publication in this week's InTake. The article is about how sometimes good taste and passion for a subject matter (ie, beer) is sometimes confused as snobbery. A part of the article focuses on Courtney Hall, owner of my favorite beer store - The Hop Shop, and his passion for good beer. In a sidebar to the article, Courtney lists his suggested resources for reading about good beer, and HBG rounds out his top three (following beeradvocate.com & indianabeer.com). Thanks, Courtney - we love you, too!

10 November 2006

KOTBR Review #6: Bell's Hopslam Ale

On Thursday, the Knights of the Beer Roundtable convened at what has become one of my very favorite new haunts - Deano's Vino Restaurant & Wine Bar, located by the fountain in Fountain Square. For you Naptown Old Skoolers, Deano's is located in the same building that once housed Theater on the Square, and later, Santorini's (before they moved into the larger building further down Prospect Street). The original Deano's Vino was located just the next block south on Virginia Avenue in the old Murphy's building, but now the wine shop is located on Mass Ave. The restaurant & wine bar is a collaboration between Deano (Dean Wilson) and his good friend Chef James Bryant (Jody). For those of you who may be leary about checking out a "wine bar", this place is far from pretentious & haughty. In fact, Deano supports Indiana wine & beer makers, recognizing that not all the good stuff has to come from California. While it is obviously known for it's wine selection, let me tell you, this place has a kick-ass beer selection. I find all of my very favorite beers on their menu, and that covers everything from micros to imports. I can go on about Deano's all night, so obviously, I highly recommend this spot, but I should save some of my raves for my part of the beer review. Let me focus on our choice of beer.

Fellow Knight of the Beer Roundtable, Jim, oberved that we overwhelmingly choose dark beers to rate here on HBG. So he suggested we try something a little different. Furthermore, said Jim, none of us are big fans of really "hoppy" beers, so we probably underrate them, and to compensate, we should choose a really "hoppy" beer and give it a fair rating. In fact, we decided to turn this into a very "hoppy" night, choosing hops for warm-ups and for our beer of rating. After asking for a suggestion, Nick, the Sam Malone of Deano's (pictured on left, with Laura and Deano), recommended we try Bell's newest single batch release that just hit stores last Friday, the Hopslam Ale (also known as the "Bitch Slap Ale", but that's a different story).

Bell's tagline for the Hopslam, an Imperial IPA, is "A biting, bitter, tongue bruiser of an ale. With a name like Hopslam, what did you expect?". With an ABV of 9.3%, you damn well better believe it's a "bruiser", and not just of the tongue! Needless to say, all of us were slammed by the hops.

JASON: (special note* Jason mentions to us the other night that he thinks we should do our reviews in haikus. He's the only one to produce. I hereby challenge him to do ever review for the rest of the year in a haiku!)

So four days later,
my head finally clears up.
Time for beer review.

Beer was named Hopslam.
Should be called Kick in the Nuts
Due to intense brew.

Color was copper.
Head started thick, then thinned out.
Lace was slight but there.

Fruitty scents up front.
Pepper and alcohol next.
Complex but pleasing.

Taste was well balanced.
Hoppy but smooth with slight burn;
Made tongue jump with joy.

Has creamy body.
It is not a chewy beer
Nor is it too thin.

Surprised by this beer.
Double IPA is not
Usual first choice.

But Hopslam is cool,
Made hop fan of this malt guy
With one side effect.

High alcohol with
High drinkability means
Slight brain damage here.

Too much Hopslam means
Four days (and counting) of me
Speaking in Haiku.

Despite annoyance,
I give Hopslam five mugs and
Half of my brain cells.

JIM: The beer menu at Deano’s contains Benjamin Franklin’s famous quote about fine malt beverages: “Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” This may be true about all other beers. But when it comes to Bell’s Hopslam Ale, God didn’t just want us to be happy; the Almighty wanted us to be wildly jubilant.

Hopslam is an IPA. For the uninitiated, hops are a type of flower that is added to beer during the brewing process. The hops give beer the floral, citrusy aroma and the sort of bitter “bite” that hits your tongue when you drink it. They’re also used as a preservative to keep beer from getting sour or “skunked.” “IPA” stands for a variety of beer known as India pale ale. India pale ale is a heavily hopped style of beer that British brewers developed in the 1700’s to thwart the spoilage of the beer on long ocean voyages to places such as—you guessed it—India. IPA’s tend to be high in alcohol content and very bitter in taste.

In the past, I wouldn’t have gone for a heavily hopped beer like Hopslam. The bitterness used to get to me, so I would gravitate toward dark, malty beers, which tend to have little bitterness. But lately, I’ve been trying to diversify my beer sampling and have put a hold on malty beers in favor of hoppy beers. In that process, I’ve managed to become attached to Three Floyds’ Pride and Joy, which is a nice, dry ale with a citrusy nose and finish.

So when I arrived at Deano’s, what did I warm up with? A Pride and Joy, which turned out to be the perfect prelude to the Hopslam because the two beers are made from roughly the same mold. However, the Hopslam is much more complex and, at 9.3% alcohol by volume, much more powerful than Pride and Joy.

Nick brought out snifters for the Hopslam, which was appropriate for a beer of this potency because it’s meant to be sipped, not chugged. The nose on the Hopslam was a hybrid of citrus and peaches. In fact, the peach aroma was prevalent. Imagine the richest peach cobbler that you’ve ever had and you get the idea of the aroma. Upon my first sip, I was very surprised to find that, while hoppy, Hopslam was not overwhelming. The heavy hops were nicely balanced with a pleasant sweetness, which seemed to take the edge off of the bitterness that most hoppy beers provide. As might be expected, the flavor was rich in peach and citrus notes. After my second sip, I knew I was in love with this beer. I proclaimed to Chris that this was the best beer we had reviewed—even better than my previous favorite, Brugge Brasserie’s The Black.

A word about the buzz (I can’t go without discussing the buzz)—this is a take-it-slow beer. If you go too quickly with the Hopslam, you could find yourself to be “one hurtin’ tater” as my kinfolk like to say. But if you take your time, Hopslam will put a wide grin on your face and a cheerful mood in your heart. Whether it was the people that we met at Deano’s, the fine hospitality shown by the restaurant’s staff, or the beer itself, I can easily say that this was the best time that we’ve had reviewing a beer so far.

My rating: Five mugs. Yes, I said it – five mugs. This is only the second perfect beer that I’ve ever had (the first being North Coast’s Old Rasputin Imperial Stout). I’m happy that I can now consider two beers to be perfect instead of just one.

CHRIS: The label of Bell's new beer Hopslam shows three giant hops crushing a dude like the house falling on the Wicked Witch. Ladies and gentlemen, this label is a forshadowing of things to come for you if you drink this beer. In perfect French, it will tap a keg of whupass on you! And it did it to me. And I'm a big boy. Hopslam has an ABV of 9.3%, and I think Larry Bell may be fibbing about that just a little bit - I think it's a little higher.

Now, let it be said that I'm not a true fan of very hopped up beers. Not that I think they're bad, but I'm just the kind of guy that likes my beers tall, dark, and malty. So I was very leary to try a beer proclaimed as "Hopslam". But Jim is talking us into being diverse in our reviews, so I played along. And I'm glad I did. This is really a good beer.

It has a very rusted look to it - what I jokingly call "lite" beers. But that's where its "lite" ended. As for the nose, I may as well have stuck my sniffer straight up the ass of a Georgia Peach. I think the nose is extremely peachy, almost to a fault - again, not something I'm fond of. But when I took my first sip (because you only sip beers that are 9.3%), my fears and insecurities melted away because the flavors are so well-balanced. The aroma of the peach blends together with the strong hoppiness in a way that takes the punch in the nose away. However, it does still leave a prevalent peach after-taste.

Obviously, with a beer so rich in hops, the beer is a little bitter, and it definitely has a bite. But it's not overwhelming. It's well-carbonated, but not overly done. It's smooth, yet very distinct. And it has a nice moist, medium-bodied taste.

I give this beer 4 Mugs. While I'm working on it, I still can't get over my bias for the dark & malty. But really the only detractor for me with this beer was so many peaches. I think it's definitely a 5 Mugger for any hopheads out there. But 4 Mugs may just be the highest I can ever give really hoppy beers.

As for a word on Deano's, I can't say enough. As someone who spent some time growing up in Fountain Square back in the early 90s, I'm so pleased an establishment like this is located in the heart of Fountain Square, and leading the efforts in its renaissance. The atmosphere is fantastic, the staff are super-friendly and very knowledgeable, the beer list is out of this world, and the food is pretty damn good, too. If you haven't been there yet, I say this is THE essential new restaurant/bar in the 317 to check out. I can promise that many more reviews from the KOTBR will come to you from Deano's.

02 November 2006

HBG: As Featured in Indianapolis Monthly

If you haven't already heard, Hoosier Beer Geek was featured in the newest issue of Indianapolis Monthly as one of six "intelligent" blogs on the local scene. We had no advance notice, and only found out today through gossip in the Indy-centric blogosphere. I think I speak for everyone associated with HBG in saying that we're surprised, flattered, and honored by the feature. There are seriously a lot of really good "intelligent" blogs covering the Indy scene, so how we were chosen over them, I don't know, but we're certainly appreciative of the coverage.

If you happen to be checking us out for the first time after seeing the feature, welcome. Just so you know, our schtik is to head out to different locations around the city that have a reputation for a good beer selection, down a few, have a good bull session, and try to impart our humble opinions on the location itself and the beer we've just consumed to you, the masses. We're all fellow Indy bloggers who share a passion for good beer. We're also welcoming of other beer geeks and wannabe beer geeks who want to join in our "Knights of the Beer Roundtable" reviews. So, if you're interested, just leave us a comment with a way to reach you, and we'll include you in on the next Roundtable night.

Hiding In the Pumpkin Patch

Ok, so here it is at last - the long-promised review of a couple of pumpkin ales. They're brief, but that's okay since you're probably going to have to search to find these on beer store shelves right now. Blame the delay on Halloween, or just look at it as creating anticipation for Thanksgiving.

Buffalo Bill's Pumpkin Ale
Coming out of Hayward, CA, Buffalo Bill's pumpkin ale is brewed with pumpkin & spices (many "pumpkin" ales are actually only brewed with spices, like cinnamon & nutmeg to "simulate" the pumpkin taste). At 4.9% ABV, it's not that strong, but if you like eating pumpkin raw, this beer is for you. It definitely had a pumpkin nose - no doubt about it. It had a deep orange color, but a fairly thin-bodied taste. I kept getting a fruity aftertaste, which if you've ready any previous reviews of mine, you know I'm not a fan of. I have to give it 2 Mugs. It was okay, but I probably won't try it again.

Dogfish Head Punkin Ale
As is typical from Dogfish Head, the punkin ale has a decent ABV of 7%. It's made with pumpkin, brown sugar, allspice, cinnamon & nutmeg. I could distinctly pick out the nutmeg in the nose, which I'm ok with. The hops were also pretty obvious in the nose, which made me worry that it would be too hoppy for me, but that wasn't the case. At worst, it was mildly hoppy. It had a light brown color, not overly-carbonated, and was somewhere between medium-to-full-bodied. I have to say, it was a pretty good beer, especially as a seasonal. I'm going to give it 3.5 Mugs. When I got to buy my pumpkin ales next year, I'll probably get less of the Blue Moon Pumpkin Ale, and more of the Punkin Ale.

It's Not Too Late!

Tickets are still on sale, or you can purchase them at the door. The Good Beer Show is going to be doing an on-location show from the event, so if for no other reason, come out and meet Jeffrey, Traci and the gang!
We have some really kick-ass items for the silent auction, including an Indiana Pub Crawl package, worth over $250, that includes a homebrewing kit and some gift certificates to some of the best bars and breweries in the state, as well as a private, in-your-home beer or wine tasting for you and 9 of your friends conducted by Courtney, the owner of The Hop Shop.

19 October 2006

A Taste of Good Beer & Fine Wine

This is a little bit of shameless self-promotion. I get to do that since I run the site :)

Tickets are now on sale for an outstanding charity event coming up on Thursday, November 16 (one week before Thanksgiving). The Hop Shop is hosting a good beer and fine wine tasting, with a silent auction, to benefit my non-profit organization, Dads, Inc. Tickets are only $10, which includes the alcohol and food. All proceeds from ticket sales and the silent auction items goes back into supporting programs to build better dads in Central Indiana. The event begins at 6:30 at The Hop Shop. We have some amazing silent auction items, including a private beer tasting in your home conducted by Courtney (owner of The Hop Shop), gift certificates for an Indiana Pub Crawl, overnight stays at Belterra Resort & Casino with free golf, and a great Colts pack, just to mention a few items. Like I said, tickets are now on sale, and you can purchase them directly at The Hop Shop, or you can purchase them from Dads, Inc. For more information, please call Chris at Dads, Inc. at 317-506-8499.

This is an excellent opportunity to get a jump start on your Christmas shopping, and you can get some unique gifts for the hard-to-buy-fors.

Still Trying to Find the Pumpkin Patch

I promised that review on the pumpkin ales two weeks ago. And they remain in my refrigerator. Last weekend found me with a wife having surgery, a sick child that I was taking to the doctor, a visit by the in-laws, a group paper, project, and final exam for class, and football. So I'm behind. But they will be devoured this weekend, and you'll see my post on Monday.

KOTBR Review #5: Brugge's The Black

Jim, Kelly, and I met up at Brugge Brasserie, located in Broad Ripple, for the most recent beer review. That night, we decided to try The Black. Below you will find our reviews:

Jim: This week’s meeting of the Knights of the Beer Roundtable took place at Brugge Brasserie, the Broad Ripple brewery and gastro-pub with a Belgian twist. The pub, which opened in April 2005, is owned by brewmaster Ted Miller and actor Abraham Benrubi of “ER” fame (the two were Broad Ripple High School classmates). Brugge offers handcrafted Belgian beers and Belgian style food, including crepes, steamed mussels, and Belgian sub sandwiches called mitraillettes. And then there are the fries, or “frites” as they are properly known in Belgium. Oh, the frites! The Belgians invented French fries, and the frites offered at Brugge are of the highest caliber. They are served in a paper cone along with your choice of sauces, which range from the traditional European side, mayonnaise, to roasted garlic aioli to homemade ketchup.

While the food at Brugge is excellent, we were at the pub for the beer, of course. I arrived first and had a seat in the bar. Normally, Brugge has football of the round variety (i.e., soccer) on the bar television. But on this Thursday evening, pointyball was the type of football in demand, specifically college football. So while I waited for Chris and Kelly to arrive, I went ahead and ordered my warm-up beer and settled in to watch a little of the game. I chose Brugge’s Abbey Ale on the suggestion of the bartender. The Abbey, which I have never seen on Brugge’s beer menu before, was a pleasant amber ale that was on the malty and dry side. It was an appropriately mellow prelude to the feature beer, which was pretty powerful stuff as I’ll explain here shortly.

I had drained almost half of my Abbey Ale when Chris arrived. Not much later, Kelly joined us and we got a round of the feature beer, the ominously named “The Black.” The Black is dark brown in color and has a nose with primarily chocolate, coffee, and nutty notes. The head is light brown and dense. At first sip, The Black nicely grabs a hold of your tongue with an almost perfect balance of hops and malt. There is a good hoppy bite to the ale, but it’s not overwhelming. As might be expected of a dark ale, The Black follows its coffee-like nose with a slightly coffeeish taste. It also has a bit of a sweet taste, too. The Black doesn’t approach barley wine sweetness, but it’s not too far off from what one might expect from a barley wine style ale such as Young’s Old Nick.

Brugge’s beer menu doesn’t disclose The Black’s ABV percentage, but it must be at least seven percent if not more because the ale will sneak up on you if you’re not careful. I had a fairly intense buzz going after finishing off three quarters of the glass. So if you order it, drink with care!

So to the rating – This is a four mug beer for me. I can’t give it a five mug rating because I’ve had only one perfect beer in my life (North Coast Brewery’s Old Rasputin Imperial Stout, Millenium Release) that nothing else has ever been able to measure up to. But The Black is a high quality, very drinkable ale that most beer geeks will enjoy.

Kelly: Fall is by far my favorite time of year for many reasons—not the least of which is that I typically start preferring darker, more substantial beers. (it's just hard for me to really enjoy a double black stout in the middle of a heat wave, or to relax on a balmy summer evening with a dunkelweisen!) So it's appropriate that my second meeting of the Knights of the Beer Roundtable took place on one of the first windswept, blustery, leaves-starting-to-change days of fall.

I met up with Jim and Christopher at Brugge Brasserie, a Broad Ripple stalwart that I had never visited before (okay, not true—I had frequented the place quite a bit when the bottom floor was Net Heads, but I refuse to acknowledge that geek that dwells deep within.) The décor is pretty eclectic—I was expecting it to be more upscale, but they've got big, rustic wooden tables, interesting wall art, and plenty of TVs turned to the sports of the moment (apparently, this is THE place to be if you're a soccer fan!) There was a table of extremely, uh, vibrant imbibers across the room, and ever so often, they'd break into a rousing rendition of "Ein Prosit" which made us wonder if they knew the difference between Belgium and… well… Germany.

I started off the evening with an American Wit, which was a little lighter and fruitier than I was expecting, but it was excellent—much reminiscent of a Blue Moon. The beer up for review, however, was The Black – Jim's favorite. And I can see why! At first taste, the earthy chocolate taste was a little bitter, but I took Jim's advice and let the beer sit to just colder than room temperature. What a difference! The malt and hops had a good balance, and it was actually very light on the palate (deceptively so, even.) The ABV percentage wasn't listed on the chalkboard, but I'd venture to guess this one is pretty high, as it knocked me for quite the loop. Good thing I was walking over to the Rouge for a show afterward. All in all, The Black gets the maximum amount of mugs from me, plus one extra for the fun fact below:

According to Brugge's website, The Black is brewed with a bit of poplar syrup, one of my dad's favorite fall treats. See? Even my beer gets into the fall spirit!

Chris: From the instant The Black touched my lips, I knew I had found my next 5 Mug beer. This is absolutely a perfect beer (if you like dark beers). The Black is approriately named, fore it is truly black. Completely opaque in color.

I kept getting a hickory and chocolate nose off this beer. I think I may be totally off on the hickory, but I swear I smelled it, and it smelled good.

The beer is thick, not quite chunky, but it is very full-bodied and hardy. I found it crisp to the tastebuds, particularly those in the middle of the tongue. That may be from the good carbonation in the beer.

I kept comparing this in my mind with Spaten's Optimator (see KOTBR #2). It's a very similar beer. Obviously from my review of Optimator, and now of The Black, I love dark and brooding beers. As Jim & Kelly both mentioned, the ABV wasn't listed, but I promise you it is high. I'm a beer drinker. And I'm a drinker of beers with high ABVs. And I had a pretty damn good buzz started by the time I finished my beer. This is, similar to the Optimator, one of those beers that gets better the warmer it gets. I'm guessing it isn't meant to be consumed while chilly.

Again, another perfect beer. Pure and simple - 5 mugs!

05 October 2006

Beer Geeks at Brugge

Tonight is the latest gathering of the Knights of the Beer Roundtable. We will meet at Brugge Brasserie to rate their Black around 8pm, if anyone cares to join. Look for reviews later this week.

02 October 2006

Jack-O-Lantern Juice

At the recommendation of Christopher & Adam in the comments section of my last post, I picked up two more pumpkin ales tonight to do a comparison review. In addition to the Blue Moon Pumpkin Ale I already have, I got Buffalo Bill's Pumpkin Ale & Dogfish Head's Punkin Ale. As we already have a Roundtable scheduled for Thursday night at Brugge, I probably won't get to this comparison until the weekend. But I'm really looking forward to it.

28 September 2006

Blue Moon Pumpkin Ale

I'm very excited - one of my favorite fall beers has hit the stores. Blue Moon Pumpkin Ale is a beer I first tried last year, and just really took to it. We may review it at some point this fall, but I just wanted to let all of you know that it is in the stores now, and if you haven't, you should give it a try. It goes great with those chilly fall evenings around a campfire or inside watching scary movies!

26 September 2006

KOTBR Review #4: Spaten's Oktoberfest

I must apologize to our readers and the other members of the KOTBR. The KOTBR did this review three weeks ago. Due to adjusting to a new job and a class with A LOT of outside work, I haven't been diligent in posting to this site or Jackson's Daddy.

In fact, this post is short because we only have Jason's review to post. KAJ joined us, but didn't have much to say about the beer, and I didn't write my thoughts at the time, and can in no way re-create what I was thinking.

But stick with us. We'll hold Roundtable again next week, and we'll get back on track. Plus, it's fall, so there are lots of great new beers to review, and we love to drink beer while we watch football!

We met up at Spencer's Stadium Tavern, which has since become on of my favorite lunch spots. I know Spencer from back in my political days, and I went to college with his wife. So it was only a matter of time before I tried out this watering hole, and I have to recommend it to everyone. As a matter of fact, I am declaring that Spencer's is the KOTBR's official home away from home.

Now for the important part, Jason's review:

JASON: Warming up for the Spaten Oktoberfest tasting at Spencer's Stadium Tavern, I elected to try the Dirty Bastard Scotch Ale from Founders Brewery, which was one of six beers on tap.

Their website describes the Dirty Bastard as their flagship beer. And I can see why. It's a great malty beer with a bite of hops. It is a very dark to reddish brown in color with a nice foam head that gives way to some great lace.

Caramel and toffee shows up in both taste and aroma. And there was just a bit of spice in the aroma as well. An excellent beer for fall and winter.

And I found it very easy to drink. Not much of an aftertaste. Just pleasant through and through. At this moment, I'm giving it four mugs, but I was close to giving it four and a half.

The begining of fall is my favorite time of year. The weather is cooling. The football is starting. And the greatest drinking event in the world is warming up.

St. Patrick's Day certainly is the greatest single drinking day of the year, but we Krauts know how to drink it up right. Oktoberfest: two weeks of drinking! You gotta love that!

I believe we kicked Oktoberfest off right by visiting Spencer's Stadium Tavern. Kaj said it right when she described Spencer's as a sports bar mixed with a dive bar. And they had several Oktoberfest beers on bottle. I was excited to try Spaten's Oktoberfest.

When we ordered our beer, we found out they only had five bottles left. So we bought them all! I've come to expect Oktoberfest beers to be slightly maltier than hoppier. I was surprised to find Spaten's version this year to be not so malty.

The beer was copper in color with a small, creamy head. It had an equal balance of hops and malt. Slightly bitter, but not annoyingly bitter. And a very crisp aroma. It is a very drinkable beer. Not outstanding, but very good. I'm very interested in trying some of the other Oktoberfests that have come out.

Given my previous review of Spaten's Optimator, I have to say that Spaten is not my favorite German brewer. They are enjoyable, but I think I enjoy the Warsteiner line of beers better. Just my own personal preference.

Add that I gave it 3 mugs. A good beer, but there are better ones out there.

05 September 2006

KOTBR Review #3: Three Floyd's Robert the Bruce

We have decided to add some new features to the reviews of the Knights of the Beer Roundtable. For example, we will now start to give a little bit more info about any new bars we frequent for the Roundtable, like MacNiven's, where we were at for the most recent tasting. Jim also adds photos of the establishment and the beer of choice. And we've also instituted a new rating system - the 5 Mug Review, with 5 mugs being simply an amazingly fantastic beer, and 1 mug being Coors Lite.

Only two of us - Jim and I - were able to hold court for this tasting, but we did the best we could for you. We gathered at MacNivens, a Scottish specialty bar located on Mass Ave., in the building where Brother Junipers used to be. Our beer for the week is Robert the Bruce Scottish Ale (6.5% ABV) from Three Floyds. For those of you not familiar with Three Floyds, shame on you! It's (in my opinion) the best microbrewery in Indiana, located way up north in Munster. We have decided that an "on-location" review from Three Floyds is coming up. Not only does Nick Floyd (one of the 3 - along with his brother & father) produce some fantastic beer, but the food in the brewpub is incredible.

Interesting fact: Three Floyds is located in the middle of a non-descript corporate park. Prior to the opening of their brewpub last year, visitors wanting to sample the brew took a seat at a picnic table located back in the warehouse.

Jim: This week’s meeting of the Knights of the Beer Roundtable took place at MacNiven’s Restaurant & Pub, which is one of my favorite Downtown Indianapolis pubs. Owners Stuart and Troy used to be managers at the Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery on Washington Street, and they ran an excellent establishment while they were there. The food was always good, and the beer was almost universally top notch. Fortunately, both of these attributes are also true at MacNiven’s, which focuses on Scottish food and drink. This is not surprising considering that the land of bagpipes, kilts, and haggis is Stu’s native country. Stu also gets a thumbs up from me because he’s always happy to turn on Fox Soccer Channel or GolTV for those of us who are thirsty for a little soccer as well as a good pint.

Chris decided we would wait until we got to MacNiven’s to pick the beer we would review, although we knew we were going to choose a Scottish ale as our target beer. That only made sense since we were having a drink at a Scottish pub. As we looked through the pub’s hefty beer menu, I warmed up with a fantastic beer (Shmaltz Brewing Company’s He’Brew Genesis Ale) that I think the Knights should review in the future because I’m curious to see what others think of it.

I’ve enjoyed just about every beer that I’ve tried by Three Floyds. But I was unimpressed and a bit disappointed by Robert the Bruce. At first sip, I didn’t find much of a nose to it, but as I had a few more sips, I sensed a mostly hoppy nose. This, I think, is a bit unusual for a Scottish ale, which usually has very malty nose. As for the taste – It, too, was hoppy, not malty like a typical Scottish ale. In fact, the hops overwhelmed nearly all other aspects of the beer for me, so much so that I had a hard time picking up other notes of flavor. In my opinion, the bite from the hops was too much for a Scottish ale, and I found that the aftertaste hung around much longer than I wanted it to.

However, the taste wasn’t entirely unpleasant. Robert the Bruce does start with a nice bit of sweetness on the tip of the tongue, and it isn’t as dry as Belhaven’s. So, I can’t totally pan this beer. Adhering to our new “five mugs” rating system, I give Three Floyds’ Robert the Bruce two-and-a-half out of five mugs.

Chris: Jim and I schlepped to MacNivens for this week's Roundtable. MacNiven's specializes in Scottish food and beer, though both their food and beer menu are diverse. You know its a good bar when there is a seperate menu just for the beer. I've been to MacNiven's on several occassions, and have never left unsatisfied. While it does tend to get a bit loud, and it's one of the few restaurants that still allows smoking, it's still a quality watering hole. Perhaps my favorite thing about MacNiven's is that, in good weather, the front windows roll up, and you can have a stool looking out and Mass Ave and heckle the passers-by.

We went to MacNiven's only knowing we were going to rate a Scottish Ale. I warmed up on a Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA while we debated our choices. Our finalists were Belhaven's Scottish Ale and Robert the Bruce, and we decided to go with the local guys in the end.

I must say here that I've had Robert the Bruce on a few previous occassions, all from the bottle, never on tap. I've always been pleased. Not so much this time. All I can attribute it to is possibly a bad keg. In the new 5 Mug Review system, I can only give it 3 Mugs (2.5 for overall taste, and another .5 because it comes from Three Floyds - and their reputation alone deserves a bump in the ratings).

It has a dark brown color - no surprise there, considering it's a Scottish Ale. For about half the pint, the nose was completely muted to me. I thought it may have been the smoke drifting over from other tables that had stunted my sniffer. But after a few drinks, I started to pick up a strong hop scent. Typically, the Scottish Ale is heavy on the malt, but I just could only pick out hops.

Honestly, all I got out of this beer was hops. That's what leads me to think we may have been sampling a sub-par batch. I knew I was supposed to be getting more malts that hops, but the hops just totally overpowered everything from the nose to the tongue.

I think I could pick out a slight nutty taste, but I can't even say that for sure. The bite wasn't noticeable, but the aftertaste was a bit clingy. I really looked forward to some water to wash the taste out.

Luckily, I'm good with hops, so I could drink it. But it wasn't doing what it was supposed to do, and that's why the average rating.

Now, I wanted to insert some pictures that Jim had taken of our Robert the Bruce, but Blogger mysteriously won't let me post them now that I'm near the end. Technology - hmmpf!

30 August 2006

Roundtable at MacNivens

The Knights of the Beer Roundtable will gather tomorrow evening at MacNivens to judge a yet-to-be-determined scottish ale. Look for our review on Friday!

24 August 2006

Good Beer Show is Golden (Again!)

Congratulations to Jeffrey and the gang of The Good Beer Show for their 2nd consecutive People's Choice Podcast Award for the Food & Drink category!

20 August 2006

Mini-Kegs of Oberon

Yesterday, I found the perfect accompaniment to a hot summer afternoon spent by a pool.

I guess these mini-kegs (1.32 gallons) of Bell's Oberon are going like hotcakes. The keg equals out to about 14.5 bottles, and runs roughly the same price as two six-packs ($19.99).

I got mine at my favorite beer store, The Hop Shop, and there were a few more in stock.

19 August 2006

KOTBR Review #2: Spaten's Optimator

The Knights of the Beer Roundtable, with guest 3rd judge, Jim, gathered at The Rathskeller Thursday evening for a review of Spaten's Optimator. The Optimator has a higher ABV of 7.2%, so it can jump up and kick you in the ass if you drink too much or drink it too fast.

Interesting fact: Spaten beers are the No. 1 selling authentic Bavarian beers in the United States, which means that the beers are completely unaltered. They are identical to the beer you would be served in Munich. All Spaten Beers adhere strictly to the Bavarian Purity Law of 1516, or known in German as the Reinheitsgebot, which was enacted on April 23, 1516 by Bavarian Duke Wilhelm IV.

Jim: In the interest of disclosure, I have to begin by noting that Spaten’s Optimator is one of my favorite beers, and this is coming from someone who does not drink a lot of German beers. Whenever I go to the Rathskeller, it’s my beer of choice. So, what I have to say about Optimator will be anything but impartial. Before I begin, I’d also like to thank Chris and Jason for inviting me to tag along. I enjoyed finally getting to meet them in person.

I’ll start with the nose on this dark brown lager, which is somewhat metallic to me. Taking a sniff of an Optimator vaguely reminds me of what pennies would smell like if they were wet or what the side of a boil kettle must smell like. This might not sound like a pleasant odor, but it is actually nice. So, I would use the phrase “pleasantly metallic” to describe the nose on this beer.

As for the taste – Optimator is very malty, has little bite, and is extremely smooth. It’s a beer that rides well in the front of the mouth and leaves very little aftertaste. It has slightly sweet caramel notes to it, which makes it very easy to drink for those of us who love malty beers.

For those new to Optimator, a warning – This beer, at 7.2% alcohol by volume, can sneak up on you if you’re not careful. It will give you a nice buzz that can quickly turn into a sledgehammer if you overindulge. Therefore, if you’re ordering it for the first time at the Rathskeller, I suggest that you go for the small size and take it slowly. While a slower drinking pace will let your Optimator get warmer, this is not a beer that’s meant to be served or enjoyed ice cold. Like many ales from the British Isles, Optimator’s flavor actually improves if it’s not served super cold.

A final note – If you want to pick up a six-pack, Kahn’s Fine Wines & Spirits on North Keystone sells it cold.

Jason: I am Catholic in upbringing and German in descent; it should be no surprise to anyone that I like to drink. A lot. And it should be no surprise that a big German-American like me enjoys drinking big German-style beers. So you know that I love drinking at the Rathskeller. And most anything from the Kellerbar will get a thumbs-up from me.

The Spaten Optimator doppelbock is no exception. It has everything that I would expect from a malty beer: tastes of toffee, coffee, and chocolate. But unlike other beers where these flavors really stand out, the Optimator blends the flavors together really well into one cohesive flavor. Thankfully for me, it took a lot of beer drinking to identify those flavors!

Visually, it is dark brown and dense with a dense, foamy head. Much like the flavor, it was difficult to find a specific scent in the aroma. It was pleasing, but unidentifiable to me.

When drinking the beer, there is a fair amount of bite on the front of the tongue, which is a little surprising for a beverage as malty as this. The bite lingers in the aftertaste. Which isn’t a bad thing; it isn’t unpleasant. It’s just different. In the aftertaste, there is also a sensation in the back of the throat that I couldn’t identify right away. I found the same sensation when I took in the aroma.

It wasn’t until the next day that I figured out what I was experiencing. The sensations in my nose and in the back of my throat when drinking the Optimator is very similar to those sensations when I smoke a good cigar that has a balance of flavor and bite.

The Optimator was very creamy and easy to drink. While it wasn’t very chewy, it wasn’t a guzzling beer by any means. This beer is as enjoyable, or perhaps more so, as it warms up to room temperature. At the Rathskeller, where it is on tap, you can get it in small, medium, or wholly-hell-I-better-be-careful-not-to-give-myself-a-hernia large. If you are going to be in the Kellerbar or restaurant for a long period of time, go for the large and work on it over a long period of time.

Chris: I, too, like Jim, must confess that I really enjoy the Optimator. But in creating this blog, part of my reasoning was to educate the masses on "good beer", and the Optimator definitely qualifies.

This review is difficult for me to write because so much of the ingredients of The Optimator blend together so well that it's difficult to differentiate. That's why this beer is so good.

The color is a very dark brown, almost black - my favorite kind of beer - and definitely opaque. Very typical of the doppelbock.

The nose is muted. Again, everything blends together so well, it's difficult to pick out individual smells. I can get a slight hint of chocolate, a slight metallic, and a definite malt.

The taste jumps on on the front your tongue and bites down on those tastebuds. From there, the aftertaste aroma just bursts out of your nose. It's very malty (as it should be), and appears to be well-carbonated.

This is a good room temperature beer. It doesn't need to be iced-down, and actually shouldn't be. The taste actually improves at room temperature. Which lends itself to sipping instead of chugging, which is good because of the 7.2% ABV.

In my opinion, the Optimator is arguably one of the few perfect beers.

17 August 2006

As if We Really Need Another Reason . . .

Next time some health freak is giving you shit for drinking beer, just tell them you're trying to be healthy.

Rich in Vitamins and Good for the Nerves
Beer is rich in important vitamins - most are delivered to you by the beer's yeast. Vitamins B1, B2, and B6 and H contained in beer are food for the nerves: They improve your ability to concentrate, support the production of red blood cells, have a positive effect on your blood circulation and stimulate your metabolism.

Minerals for the Metabolism
A scientific study undertaken at the Technical University of Munich concluded that the collection of minerals and trace elements in beer have a favorable effect on nerves and muscle strength, electrolyte usage, enzyme activation and hormone levels. In addition, iron and copper help blood production, phosphorus supports metabolism and magnesium strengthens the heart muscle. Zinc is necessary for your pancreas' production of insulin and fluoride protects your teeth from cavities. Finally, Maganese also helps in the production of beer's Vitamin B, which is very valuable to the human body.

Beer helps you relax
A hectic lifestyle, stress or problems with your job or family often lead to nervousness and sleeping problems-your blood pressure rises. A glass of beer before going to bed is the "best medicine" against all of that: The hops in beer (with all four important B vitamins) have a calming effect on exhausted nerves and relax your muscles. The small amount of alcohol (4.5 to 5.5%) and the carbonation relax your body. The commentary of the Munich study concludes: "The life expectancy of people who drink beer in moderation is longer than of people who abstain."

The calorie count rises...
Beer is comparably a low-calorie drink. A twelve ounce glass of beer has about 160 calories; only mineral water, coffee and tea (without milk or sugar), skim and butter milk have fewer calories than beer. "Hard drinks", wine, champagne and liqueurs as well as fruit, lemonade and whole milk do not. Additionally, beer, because it has practically no sodium, promotes tissue drainage and sodium expulsion.

Beer gives you momentum
Beer is healthy-sport medicine specialists have also recognized that fact and have drawn uses from it. One example is the two Italian sport doctors Antonelli and Romano who came to the conclusion that a liter of beer a day increases performance, concentration and reaction and strengthens muscles. The American cardiologist Sheehan maintains that after long distance running, jogging, cross country skiing or marathons, beer ideally replaces bodily fluids and energy. The French doctor Gulpin discovered decades ago that beer increases lung capacity and speeds the lung's ability to process oxygen.

Beer in old Age
Doctors and geriatricians have recognized that beer - in addition to all of the previously mentioned health effects - works against the possible breakdown of the aging human body. Also noteworthy is beer's sociological aspects: Beer is cheerful, makes one sociable and makes it easier to make contact and win new friends. In an opinion poll of German general practitioners, 81% were convinced that one or two beers a day could "beautify" retirement.

It's a Roundtable Night!

The second Roundtable is scheduled for this evening at The Rathskeller. Jason, our guest 3rd judge, Jim, and I will be reviewing Spaten's Optimator. Look for the reviews tomorrow!

Drinking Beer & Kicking Balls

I posted the following on Jackson's Daddy, too:

So I was reading Newsweek this morning, and found the most interesting article. Unbeknownst to me, there exist adult kickball leagues around the country. They're under the umbrella of the World Adult Kickball Association (WAKA). I shit you not! I guess they're for those of us who just aren't going to be playing in basketball leagues or anything like that. Drinking is strongly encouraged, and in some leagues, it's mandatory that you carry your beer while running bases. What a great idea!

So I checked out the WAKA site, and there aren't any leagues currently in Indianapolis, but WAKA is trying to get some started. So I signed up, and emailed a bunch of people. So if you're in Indy, check it out, sign up, and let's kick some balls!!

13 August 2006

KOTBR Review #1: Dark Horse Brewery's Sapient Trip Ale

Sapient Trip Ale is belgian tripel (three times the amount of malt used in a regular beer) and a summer seasonal from Dark Horse Brewing Company, located in Marshall, Michigan.

Interesting fact: Sapient means wise & intelligent. Also, it is made with a trappist yeast strain (which means the yeast originates from one the six remaining Trappist - monk - breweries in the world).

The following are the reviews given by HBG's own Knights of the Beer Roundtable:

Chris: This beer has a rather deep amber/golden color, though certainly not opaque. It presents a fresh, fragrant bouquet – something of competing hints of apple/cherry/wood/clove. It appears to be lightly carbonated, though definitely effervescent.

The first taste is very sweet, very fruity, and just a little bit spicy. It has a potent cherry taste to me, giving it a passing resemblance to Unibroue’s Quelque Chose, though not as strong of as that one. The aftertaste is still sweet & fruity, and lingers somewhere in the middle taste buds of my tongue. It feels thin & watery in the mouth, and it is an easy drink.

I must admit that I’m not a big fan of “fruity” beers, so while I wouldn’t put it high on my list, that comes from a personal bias. For someone who likes the sweet and fruit, I would recommend it. I am most intrigued by the label design - what is that? A monk wielding a mailbox like an axe?

Jason: When it comes to beers, I tend to prefer them light and crisp or dark and malty. When it comes to wheat beers, I tend to turn them away on account of the often fruity hints that I find. Banana is my least favorite fruit in the world and it seems to be the most common fruity flavor I find in wheat beers.

While a Tripel isn't necessarily a wheat, it tends to have some similar characteristics, mainly the fruity aroma and taste. The Sapient Trip Ale from Dark Horse Brewing Company is no exception. In the aroma, you find a bit of citrus and a bit of banana. The taste, however, is a little surprising. While I could definitely find some fruity flavors hiding in the back, the taste of clove really overwhelmed them. There is a spiciness found in the back of the throat when you drink it. I also found a great deal of bitterness. Both senses were left as part of the aftertaste, which I did not find appealing.

What I also found was a sweet, sugary flavor left on my lips. The sweet finish isn't surprising since Tripels use Belgian candy sugar in the brewing process. This sweetness balanced out with the spiciness and bitterness. All together, it creates a beer that slightly more light than heavy, slightly more chewy than watery, and slighty more smooth than coarse. Really, and surprisingly, a very balanced beer.

Visually, it was reddish gold in color with a bit of cloudiness to it, a kind of visual mix of wheat and a red ale. It did not have much head or Belgian lace to it though Tripels normally have plenty of both. The label had a monk (makes sense with it being a Belgian style beer) carrying a mailbox (which makes no sense to me).

I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys a good Belgian beer. It harmonious mix of flavors creates a great balance for the beer drinkers palate. While I prefer porters, stouts, and lagers, I wouldn't turn this beer down if it was offered to me again.

Of course, it wouldn't be wise to turn down any beer that's offered to you.

Please note before reading Colleen's review that Jason and I respect the beer. That's Rule #1 of the Hoosier Beer Geek - Respect the Beer. Colleen, obviously, does not respect the beer. Therefore, Colleen is, from this point forward, banned from Roundtables.

Colleen: It tastes good. It tastes like chicken. Chicken is good.

12 August 2006

Holding Court

The Knights of the Beer Roundtable held court for the first time yesterday evening, and we rated Sapient Trip Ale from Dark Horse Brewing Company, located in Marshall, Michigan. I'll post our reviews once I receive the final review from Jason. Our first guest 3rd judge was my wife, Colleen. After you read her review, you'll understand why we have decided to nullify her comments, take her out of the guest 3rd judge rotation, and generally ban her from all future Roundtables.

As you can see from the picture, we "warmed up" (a term used by the folks on The Good Beer Show) quite a bit before judging. The milk bottle, alas, was not ours, but was my son's. I started with three Blue Moons before dinner while Jason worked on the remainder of the Mocha Porter I reviewed earlier, then we split a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon from 3 Blind Moose over dinner, I continued with an Oberon for desert and I think Jason continued with the Mocha Porter. At this point, Colleen joined in with a Guinness. I think at some point in there, I also had a Sam Adams Scotch Ale & one more try of the Mocha Porter (this time, it had a distinct smoky taste, almost like smoked gouda). Our tastebuds well-lubricated, we drank some water to clense our palates, then moved into the Sapient. Amazingly enough, I didn't have a headache this morning.