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!