29 November 2006
27 November 2006
23 November 2006
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
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
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
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
14 November 2006
11 November 2006
10 November 2006
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!)
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.
I give Hopslam five mugs and
Half of my brain cells.
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.
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
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.
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.