31 December 2007

T-Minus 4 Hours and 17 Minutes

Real Time Updates from NYE Party Tonight

For those of you that are bigger dorks than we are and are actually staying home tonight instead of coming to our kick-ass party, keep an eye on the site after 9pm. We've decided to try a first tonight - realtime updates. The posts may be really hard to read by midnight, but it should leave us with some stuff that we'll actually be able to have some sort of recollection of. Starts at 9pm. Now you can really see which Knight passes out first!

29 December 2007

Beer Diary | The Year-End Cliché (i.e., Jim's Top 5 Beers of 2007)

Why do my Top 5 Beers of 2007?

1. Because it's expected with the New Year approaching.

2. Because I just watched High Fidelity for the 50th time.

3. Sorry, but I have only two reasons for doing a Top 5 list, not five reasons.

Here they are, selected from beers that we've reviewed this year:

5. (tie) Three Floyds Gumballhead. I just cannot get over the fact that this is a wheat beer when it screams, "I am an IPA!" Just thinking about this beer has me saying, "I need to go and get a six-pack immediately."
5. (tie) He'Brew Bittersweet Lenny's R.I.P.A. An outstanding, amazingly balanced "Rye P.A." We first tried this beer at the Indiana Microbrewers Festival, where it was excellent. We hit it again for our Chrismukkah review, when its aging kicked it into the outstanding category.

4. (tie) He'Brew Genesis 10:10. I fell in love with this sugary, pomegranate-infused ale when it first came out in 2006. It was even better after laying down for a year. Good luck trying to find it now. I wish I had stockpiled a supply of Genesis 10:10 bombers.
4. (tie) BBC Jefferson's Reserve Bourbon Barrel Stout. I have a huge fondness for Mike's favorite stout. Out of the keg, this beer is simply amazing. One of the elites in the bourbon-barrel-aged stout style. Get to The Legend for your pint before they blow the keg.

3. Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout. Pours like used motor oil, tastes like no stout I've ever had. Like the Jefferson's Reserve, the Kentucky Breakfast Stout is aged in bourbon barrels, but has a much heavier coffee note to it than the Jefferson's Reserve. It is one of the most unique stouts I have ever tried. Here's to hoping that Hans at Hot Shotz is wise enough to procure this stuff again upon its next release.

2. Konings Hoeven Quadrupel Trappist Ale. Without question, this Belgian ale has the loveliest, silkiest mouthfeel of any beer we reviewed this year. Heavy on the candy sugar, caramel, and fruit notes. Unbelievably good stuff.

1. Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA. Potent, well-balanced, apt to cause pleasure and trouble at the same time. I can't think of another beer that so perfectly balances hop and malt character. And for the love of God, serve it in a tulip glass, not a pint glass!

28 December 2007

2007: The year in local beer

If you haven't already done so, check out Rita Kohn's latest piece in this week's NUVO about consumption of local craft beers (it's growing exponentially). HBG allies Brugge Beer and World Class Beverages are mentioned in the article.

Looks like our mission (and the mission of friends like Indiana Beer and The Good Beer Show) to spread the craft beer word is working.

Are You A Beer Blog Swinger?

Although we do our best at keeping you completely beer-entertained, there may come a time in your life where you want to spend a little time with some of those other beer blogs. Instead of playing the forgotten spouse, we'll define ours an open relationship, and give you a guide to some of the blogs we've already been with.

Appellation Beer Blog - "In Search of the Soul of Beer" is the tagline for this one - a blog about better beer in general. There seems to be a little more focus on the business side of beer than you'll find here at HBG.

Knut Albert's Beer Blog - If Hoosier Beer Geek was based in Norway, it might look a lot like this. And we'd all ride reindeer to work, and drink out of viking hats. Actually I'm going to suggest the reindeer and viking hats for the New Year's party. We'll see what Deano thinks.

Brewvana - Tackling important topics like "The Role of Beer in a Christian Life OR The Role of Christianity in a Beery Life" is not something we'll be doing anytime soon at HBG, but it's an ongoing series of articles over at Brewvana. Not as interesting as "Is The Breakfast Club A Chick Flick?", but interesting, nevertheless.

Beer Haiku Daily - Here we were thinking our beer review haikus were something special, and then I stumble across this site. From the Charm City. I suspect this site is actually written by McNulty.

Brewblog - From the wonderful folks at Miller comes this blog all about the brewing industry. Caution: may be watered down.

Lagerheads - A Roughneck's Take on Beer - Beer reviews with pouring videos - not as big a breakthrough as the jump from still photo pornography to streaming video pornography, but an interesting idea that we haven't managed to inadvertently rip off.

Pete Brown's Blog - Pete Brown is the author of Man Walks into a Pub and Three Sheets to the Wind, which automatically earns him respect when speaking with women. A little beer, a little travel, based in the UK.

Matt's Beer Blog - Last but certainly not least comes a beer blog from frequent Hoosier Beer Geek commenter Matt. If you're going to stray from HBG, you might start here - he's quite the gentleman.

Added by swinging stud Jason: I'd also like to mention an Indy blog that covers a couple of different things, but beer is one of the main topics. It is called DIG-B. The blogger goes by the name of CorrND. He has met up with the Knights on a couple of different occassions. He's also been writing about his adventures in home brewing.

27 December 2007

My Top 20 Answers to the Toughest Question

If you're like me (and if you are, I really feel sorry for you), you tend to freak people out when they ask you what your favorite beer is. They're freaked out because they're expecting you to spout out one beer real quickly. You're freaked out because it's just too damn tough of a question, and as you try to explain to them why choosing between Optimator and Dark Lord is tough, their eyes glaze over. Quite honestly, I hate getting asked this question because I just can't give you that quick answer, and my list always changes with the more beers I try.

So I never have to answer the question again, here is my Top 20 favorites. They're listed in no particular order, because it's so tough to rank them. I did notice that my list is heavily American, with the Good Ole' U S of A making 15 of them, with 7 of those coming from Indiana breweries. The styles are all over the board, too. I've always considered myself to be a dark and malty beer drinker, but there are a whole lot of hoppy beers on here, too. So with no further ado, my Top 20:

Optimator (Spaten)
Trois Pistoles (Unibroue)
La Fin Du Monde (Unibroue)
Winter Warmer (Upland)
Dark Lord (3 Floyds)
Alpha Klaus (3Floyds)
Alpha King (3 Floyds)
Gumballhead (3 Floyds)
Two Hearted Ale (Bell's)
Oberon (Bell's)
Racer 5 IPA (Bear Republic)
Big Bear Black Stout (Bear Republic)
Hoptimus (New Albanian)
90 Minute (Dogfish Head)
The Black (Brugge)
Hop Juice (Two Brothers)
Delirium Nocturnum (Brouwerij Huyghe)
Delirium Noel (Brouwerij Huyghe)
Delirium Tremens (Brouwerij Huyghe)

26 December 2007

A Journey Into the Heart of Darkness

Saturday morning, after a City Cafe breakfast and another woefully unbearable match by the Fulham Football Club, Gina and I headed back to our old St. Louis area homes for the holidays. After wasting Saturday away between the drive back and the lack of options in our tiny hometowns (Trenton and New Baden IL), we hoped to make a better day of Sunday. Thanks to a suggestion from my mother, we did just that - we spent the day drinking.

We started our Saturday in the heart of American beer consumption - on the Anheuser Busch St. Louis brewery tour.

As a veteran of a few small brewery tours, this was quite a different experience. We started our tour in a small museum, which featured different kiosks for the history of Anheuser Busch brands. Because we arrived just as the tour was starting, we didn't dally; We walked over and started listening to one of our two tour guides, who was busy rattling off a series of facts about Adolphus Busch. These facts were thrown out in a rapid-fire method - best to get them out of the way - before the commonly-known announcement (at least to St. Louis residents, anyway) was made - this tour would include free beer.

We walked out of the museum and into the cold outdoors, where we were shown a Clydesdale, eating from a fenced patch of fresh hay and standing directly in front of a tractor trailer advertising the Budweiser brand. After a few horse facts we were lead into one of the three national landmark buildings on the tour - the stables for the Clydesdales. After another series of facts about the horses, we were given the option to advance directly to the hospitality room (with the free beer), or continue on the tour.

We continued on to a building containing the beechwood aging room, which featured holding tanks two to three stories high each, where the beechwood aging of Budweiser takes place. These tanks were in rows of (I'd guess) about 20, and double or triple stacked. If I were to guess, I'd say each one of these tanks contained the equivalent of all the beer that passes through Warbird's facilities each year, and the beer only stays in these tanks for 19 days before moving on to be bottled.

After visiting the tanks, we headed over to the Brewhouse, where we learned about the four quality ingredients in Budweiser - Hops, two-row malt, four-row malt, and "to give it that crisp taste" - rice. After our quick beer lesson, we were taken to see the mash tanks and brew kettles in rooms as large as a high school gymnasium. As we passed the computerized control room, I couldn't help but think that the type of sitting around waiting for alarms to go that Budweiser's brewmasters do isn't all that different than the methods most homebrewers are used to.

We then left the brewhouse and headed over to the packaging facility, where we were shown a short film hosted by some very young and attractive "model" AB Employees, who told us all about AB's amazing production capacity. This seems to be the focus of the whole tour, and included a minute or two talking about how amazing Budweiser's packaging was.

After we left the packaging facility we finally made our way to the hospitality room, where we sampled the rarest things we could find on tap - a highly agreeable, highly drinkable stout by the name of "Mule Kick" - it wasn't listed under any particular Budweiser brand, so I'm not sure what they've got planned for this one. I also tried the Bareknuckle Stout - a Guiness rip-off that was a poor follow up to the Mule Kick. I tried a sip or two of a Belgian White called "Shock Top", which looked to be packaged in a way similar to AB's Spring Heat Spiced Wheat from earlier this year.

All in all the tour was pretty fascinating, but as a beer geek I found myself wishing they had focused more on the actual beer - perhaps not such a strange feeling, considering the brewery.

KOTBR #37 - The Beer Diary of Geoffrey Crayon, gent.

A note from Jason: below are the notes from the latest KOTBR review as written by guest reviewer Geoffrey Crayon, gentleman. It is long. Very long. You may have to print it off and keep it as bedside or bathroom reading materials. If you are just wondering how the beers rated, the KOTBR ratings are listed at the end; just scroll down to find them. If you are up for a good read, then enjoy…


After having traveled the world, including spending a great deal of time in England, I decided it was time to come home and re-acclimate myself to my homeland of America. Much has changed since I had left. With being away for such a long time, I traveled our beautiful country almost like a stranger, taking in the beautiful scenery with virgin eyes.

I had heard of a small town located on the old Cumberland Trail that had been laid out in a romantic style with winding roads, parks, large trees, and an eclectic mix of homes. It sounded to me a bit like a piece of an English garden on a large, Americanized scale. Plus, it had been named after a good friend of mine. A cohort in the literary business, who collected and edited the writings of Diedrich Knickerbocker.

How weird would it be for me to visit a place named after Washington Irving? What a notion!

I had communicated with a fellow named Michael, who beckons from Indianapolis, who suggested that we might meet in Irvington for drinks at a local café. He warned me to not let my first impressions of the town ruin my experience, that this place was certainly a diamond in the rough. He wrote:

“For the uninitiated, a drive through Irvington via Washington Street is slightly less than inviting. Sure, you've got a Starbucks and a few decent looking independent businesses, but to your average suburb dwelling white folk, there's nothing there that really reaches out and grabs you. If you've adventured a little more into Irvington you'll find just beyond that strip of storefront on Washington lies a beautiful little neighborhood with charming old houses, fountains, and people who really care about their community.”

He suggested we meet at a place called “The Legend”, named for one of the Washington’s most popular tales. I stepped inside to find a warm place packed with an inviting mixture of locals and travelers who have stopped on their way to other places along the National Road.

Indeed, Michael was accurate when he said, “The Legend Classic Irvington Cafe echoes the feel of Irvington - from the outside you might not expect anything grand, but a step through the door reveals a classy, inviting and beautiful little restaurant, with a warm staff who do a good job with everything from service to the beer menu.”

Ah, the selection of ales and porters! It served me well. It is odd how a cold beverage can take off the chill of a cold winter evening.

I selected a seat in proximity to where the publican was serving pint after pint of his intoxicating collection of spirits from behind his bar. On the wall, a quote from Washington was stenciled.

While the man whose name this town carries may have never stepped foot inside its limits, he surely would have found this place to be worthy of several pages in his latest collection of writings. Listening to the people hear talk about the town and others in the town, I found myself thinking that this isn’t too unlike Tarrytown. And that this town too contained many spirits, even outside of the liquid variety.

My host for the evening arrived, as well as many of his fellow distinguished intellectuals who choose to hold court around these parts while putting away pints. They frequently discuss the political and social winds that blow through these parts and are quick to share in their experiences.

Along with Michael was his lovely companion Gina. From a nearby neighborhood came Lady Kelly and her traveling partner Matthew. James, who is well versed in the letters of the law as well as the arts and literature. And finally, there was Jason, who hails from Irvington and speaks of it in a very boastful manner.

A strange fellow with an even stranger name was promised to join our company, but Shit McGee never showed.

Wanting to join in their eclectic group’s frivolities, I followed suit when they all ordered their first beer, a Winter White Ale from the brewery of Bell’s in Michigan. As the ale was poured, James entertained us with advice on wooing the young women of nearby Indianapolis:

Gentlemen, you're out on New Years Eve with a special lady. This is date number two. You're really into this girl after the first date, but of course, you're still getting to know her. You want to show her a memorable evening, so you've decided to take her to the most impressive restaurant in your cool Eastside Indianapolis 'hood—The Legend.

As you wait for a table, you sit down at the bar and take a look at the beverage menu. There's plenty of wine, and you're pretty sure she's going to order something red, maybe a Shiraz or a zinfandel. But your date—let's call her Kate (as in Kate Winslet)—looks at you and says, "I feel like having a beer."

As a guy who likes his beer, and good beer at that, you feel confident in your ability to give sterling advice in this situation.

"What kind of beer do you like?" you ask.

"Not the pissy stuff, but nothing too heavy, either," says Kate. "If they have Blue Moon, I'll take one of those."

You glance at the taps. Based upon Kate's preference, you see a beer that you think will do her one better than a Blue Moon. You motion to the bartender and point at the tap handle for the Bell's Winter White Ale.

"Two, please."
Kate raises an eyebrow as the bartender sets her pint in front of her.

"Hmmmm. Looks like bubbly grapefruit juice. So cloudy. I've never seen a beer like this."

"Don't worry. Just smell it," you say.

"Mmmmm. Smells spicy. Kind of like Blue Moon, but more intense."

"Give it a try," you suggest.

Kate raises the glass to her lips and takes a sip. Now she raises both eyebrows.

"Mmmmm. Spicy, orangey, a little banana in there. And smooth. I'll have to be careful so I don't drink this too fast."

Kate flashes you a big, bright smile. "You've got good taste," she says.

You like where the night seems to be headed.

The others listened and nodded as they sipped, sniffed, and studied the elixir. Matthew made some notes in his journal.

Lady Kelly contemplated the differences between this beer and wheat beers that she would consume during the days of summer. She called it, “a souped-up, spicy version of my favorite summer wheat beers. Not what I expected -- in a good way. Much better from the tap than in the bottle, and a good alternative for those who aren't fans of dark beers, yet still want something with a little holiday flair.”

Indeed, I agreed that it was a step up from the wheat based beers that I had consumed while traveling Europe. Often, they tasted of strong fruits and spices, much like drinking a variety of exotic fruits from tropical regions. This beer, however, is a much better reflection of our beloved country by blending the flavors in a much more appealing manner, making this a melting pot of wheat beers.

It has been mentioned that a bottled variety of this beer had been served at a local gathering of the city’s greatest artistic minds. Gina mentioned that, “as one of our sampling beers at the last Big Car event, I wasn't really impressed with this beer. However, after having it on tap at the Legend I think my views about it have changed somewhat. From the tap, it gives off a strong Belgian nose but it's balanced by a taste that is creamy with hints of orange.”

Michael, who was also at the art event, disagreed with Gina’s initial impressions. “It was my favorite of that night. But I continue my support of this beer on tap - the flavors come out a bit more. A light fruity lemon nose and cloudy lemonade appearance leads to an extremely drinkable and agreeable "Blue Moon with flavor" sort of taste. Your first thought might not be "winter" with this ale, but there's something about it that really fits the weather. I'd guess this one is palatable to just about anyone, and would probably make a nice holiday party beer.”

This beer was certainly making my holiday travels more enjoyable! But the evening was far from over.

There is a stout that Michael truly adores, and he has consumed many a bottle over the past several months. But when he heard that kegs of the brew had made it’s way to Irvington, he knew that a stop at the Legend was necessary.

“I was really excited to visit The Legend knowing that the Jefferson’s Reserve Bourbon Barrel Stout from the Bluegrass Brewing Company was on tap,” he said. “I drink more of this beer at home than any other, and it never fails to be exactly the beer I want it to be.”

The next round was being poured, and Michael pointed out that it poured dark black with a creamy head “as thick as mashed potatoes.” He always had a way with words!

“A straight coffee nose with a hint of sweetness leads to a front of straight coffee (though that depends on who you ask). I never really get a bourbon taste out of this one, though there's a definite strong alcohol note. Despite the strong flavors, it's extremely drinkable, and hard to put down.” And for what it is worth, I never did see Michael put it down!

It was a beautiful drink, combining the best of both sides of the ocean: the stouts of England and the bourbons of America. And a perfect, chewy accompaniment for a cold winter night.

Once again, James stood up to continue his tale from earlier:

A week after your date with Kate, you roll into The Legend with some friends. It's guys' night out. Time for some dinner, followed by some pints at your favorite sports bar to catch some college basketball. But you need a before-dinner beer to get things kicked off.

"So how'd New Years Eve go?" asks one of your friends. We'll call him Seth (as in Seth Rogen).

"Pretty good," you reply.

"That's it? Just, 'Pretty good?'"

"Well, okay, check this out," you say. "Kate digs beer."

"So what?" says Seth. "Lots of girls dig beer."

"Yeah, but she digs good beer. She's a beer goddess."


"So what does this beer goddess like to drink?" asks Seth.

"Well, she had the Bells Winter White Ale, and she liked it, but she loved that one."

You point to the tap handle for the BBC Jefferson's Reserve Bourbon Barrel Stout.

"That beer?" asks Seth. "Are you serious?"

"Oh yeah, just wait until you try it."

You motion to the bartender and point at the BBC tap handle again.

"Four, please." (You're ordering not only for you and Seth, but also for your other buddies Paul—as in Paul Rudd—and Steve—as in Steve Carrell.)

Seth lifts up his pint and eyes it.

"Man, this looks like dirty motor oil with a little bit of tan fuzz on top."

Laughter once again.

"Very vivid," you say. "Now take a whiff."

Seth complies.

"Holy crap, dude! That's seriously intense. Smells like baked brown sugar and black coffee."

"So what the hell are you waiting for? Taste it."

Seth complies.

"Oh, man. Now I know why they call this Bourbon Barrel Stout. This seriously hit me with a smack of bourbon."

Seth takes another sip, smacking his lips as he tries to get a good handle on the flavor of the beer.

"Okay, now this has mellowed out some. Tastes like coffee and brown sugar with a little bit of chocolate in it. Wicked good."

Seth sets his pint back on the bar.

"You know what? That Kate has good taste," he says.

"I know," you reply. "Good taste in beer and good taste in men."

Kelly, whose lady-like qualities may have been diminished by the intoxicating effect of the brews (but nevertheless is always a lady in my book), commented about the beer’s “initial bitchslap of earthy, past-its-prime espresso (if you've ever worked as a barista, you know this smell) followed by a kidney punch of bourbony sweetness and a Vulcan neck pinch of dark chocolate and licorice. Knowing that this is on tap just a stone's throw from my house could be a dangerous situation, indeed, as I had finished my glass almost before I knew it.”

I considered asking about this “Vulcan” chocolate and licorice, but figured it must have been a local purveyor of confections. Then I turned to Gina and inquired about her reaction to the stout.

“As one of Mike's favorites, I've had a lot of opportunities to try this at home and I've always liked it, but I never would have considered it a favorite. I always thought the Bourbon flavor came through too strong, it never left me wanting more than a few sips. But like the Winter White, this was a completely different beer on tap. The Bourbon Barrel Stout was wonderfully complex and the nose alone provided coffee, chocolate, fig, brown sugar, and molasses. The first taste was like having a really great espresso with a shot of bourbon. As it warmed, the bourbon flavor came through more and the coffee flavor a bit less but the beer remained smooth and enjoyable.”

I turned to Jason to inquire his opinions of the matter, but he seemed to be lost in his own mind, most likely wondering why his good acquaintance Shit McGee hadn’t arrived.

No matter, as I’m sure that the two of them will show up here at the Legend time and time again. I came to understand how a town like this would be so devotedly loved by all, despite any of the seedier establishments and residents that might stake claim along the old National Road.

As my travels continue, I’m certain that I will stop and stay at pubs and inns that attempt to pull together an establishment that is much like what purveyor John has created. But no where will you find the same collection of characters, the same collection of stories, the same collection of beers, as you do here at The Legend in Irvington. You could very easily write a whole collection of stories about this place.

Beer Ratings (out of five mugs):
Bells’ Winter White
Kelly: 3.75 mugs
Matt: 3.62 mugs
Jim: 4.00 mugs
Gina: 3.45 mugs
Mike: 3.75 mugs
Jason: 3.875 mugs
KOTBR Average: 3.74 mugs

BBC Jefferson’s Reserve Bourbon Barrel Stout
Kelly: 4.5 mugs
Matt: 4.87 mugs
Jim: 4.75 mugs
Gina: 4.95 mugs
Mike: 5.00 mugs
Jason: 4.875 mugs
KOTBR Average: 4.82 mugs

24 December 2007

This Christmas season, nurture the red-headed stepchild of the beer world

Most beer geeks I know (including me) are not frothing-at-the-mouth proselytizers. In other words, we sort of nudge people who aren't into craft beers toward the finer stuff, but we don't push. And when we nudge, we tend to focus on using what we call "gateway" beers to turn people on to better beer.

Undoubtedly, most of you HBG readers will be gathering with family over the next week for the holidays. Some of you (hell, most of you) are, like us, beer geeks who may want to introduce the uninitiated to stuff that will lead them to greener pastures. With that in mind, what, you ask, should you use as a gateway beer?

I champion the neglected and perhaps most abused style in the beer geek world: the brown ale. Talk to most beer geeks and they'll usually pooh-pooh brown ales (no pun or play on words intended there). You'll hear things like, "Too bland," or, "Meh," or, "Just doesn't do it for me. Gimmee an IPA." Yes, brown ales tend to be "middle-of-the-road" beers when it comes to flavor. They're usually on the malty side (though I've had browns with some hop heft), tend to feature a roasted nut and caramel flavor, and tend not to have a high ABV percentage. What gets lost in the criticism is how drinkable and agreeable brown ales can be, and drinkability is what you're shooting for if you're a beer geek trying to nudge newbies toward finer beer.

Before you head over the river and through the woods, I recommend to you three excellent brown ales that are well-suited as gateway beers (skip the Newcastle, by the way):

Bell's Best Brown Ale. I had this at the Chatham Tap back in October when they put this on tap after blowing their keg of Oberon. This is my favorite of the three browns I'm recommending because it has a higher hop fruitiness than most browns and finishes with a beautiful chocolate flavor.

Bluegrass Brewing Company Nut Brown Ale. I tried this at Deano's Vino last Friday and was not disappointed. Slightly sweet, nutty, very little hop bitterness. Not as good as the Bell's Best Brown, but very smooth.

Avery Brewing's Ellie's Brown. We warmed up with this at the last roundtable we held at Spencer's Stadium Tavern. As I noted in my review, this beer is outstanding in the brown ale style, exhibiting a great blend of caramel, vanilla, and toffee characteristics.

Have a Merry Christmas, Fabulous Festivus, and/or Cool Kwanzaa. We hope to see you at our New Year's Eve bash!

20 December 2007

It's Supertweaky

As you're probably well aware by now, the Hoosier Beer Geek site has been going through a bit of transformation as of late. My goals in this redesign are a little less clutter and a little more user friendliness. I hope I'm on the right path.

In addition to the tweaks to the look, we've added a new feature to the navigation pane to the right - a recent comments section. After Chris suggested this during a conversation at Rock Bottom last evening, I revisited the widget code - a piece of code I had wrestled with previously - and in a investigative manner not unlike that used by Scooby Doo, solved the mystery. Actually I just read the directions this time.

The tweaking isn't quite done yet, but we're getting there. If you've got any suggestions, please voice them, and I'll see if it fits.

19 December 2007

Providing some Insight into Upland Brewery

For you college football fans out there, a public service announcement: the first of the 31 bowl games (and one BCS Championship game) starts tomorrow, Thursday, December 20th. Utah will take on Navy at the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl. No, it won't be the biggest thriller in history, but it is college football dammit! What's not to love?

This year, three colleges from the 19th state of the union will be travelling to bowl games. Purdue will head to Detroit for the Motor City Bowl on December 26th. Ball State will travel to the International Bowl in Toronto on January 5th. And Indiana will travel to Arizona for the Insight Bowl on New Year's Eve.

I'd like to point out that fellow KOTBR Chris and I were at "The Rock" on November 3rd when the Hoosiers defeated the Ball State Cardinals to become bowl eligible, a big step in accomplishing the late Coach Hep's dream of going to 13 (more info about that story here).

But what's a trip to Bloomington without a stop at Upland? As you can see, they had a nice lineup for us, including the Ard Ri, a tasty Imperial Red Ale. But I will talk more about later.

We met up with Caleb Staton, who is the head brewer, and took us on a tour of their fine facility. He showed us their equipment and talked about the finer points of his business.

I stood there, listened, and consumed his beer.

In the last container on the right, he had a Pilsner finishing up. At the time, as I recall, when we tasted a little bit of it, it had a peculiar, yet familiar flavor. I won't go into it too much, other than to say that if you have ever awoken in Jamaica after a long night of partying...

If you have ever spent any time at Haight and Ashbury...

If you ever spent any time following the Grateful Dead or Phish around...

You will know what flavor I am talking about. Which isn't totally surprising when you considering that hops are part of the Cannabaceae family of flowering plants. No lie.

Anyway, the Preservation Pilsner was released about two weeks ago. I'll be curious to see how it tastes after maturing.

Upland has five regulars, most of which you can find in bottles and at other bars around the state. They are their Wheat, Pale Ale, Dragonfly IPA, Bad Elmer's Porter, and Amber Ale. They have several seasonals, which are listed here.

One of their seasonals is the aforementioned Ard Ri, which is their traditional seasonal for Saint Patrick's day. KOTBR Chris had reviewed this beer back in March and gave it an incredible review, including a 5 mug rating. Everyone knows that Chris is a little crazy sometimes, but he isn't wrong about this beer. It is an incredibly tasty beer.

It had been described by my fellow knight as being very hoppy. Well, six months later, he agreed that the hop bite had mellowed, creating a very nice, little creamy, but still spicey, Irish red ale. I'm going to give it a 4.375 rating and say that this upcoming St. Patrick's Day will be a rocking good time with Ard Ri and Warbird's Shanty Irish Red battling for control over my tastebuds and liver.

Caleb was also kind enough to give us some Strawberry Lambic to sample. This beer is the real champagne of beers with an added tartness from the strawberries. A true sipping beer that I can really appreciate but could never drink in large quantities. I'll leave the rating of this fine brew to KOTBR Jim, who wants to have a lambic showdown.

So as the Hoosiers prepare for their Insight Bowl showdown against Oklahoma State on New Year's Eve, might I recommend consuming some Upland, whether it be a six pack, or at your favorite bar, or at Upland's Tap Room itself. Drink your favorite Upland brew while cheering Big Red on to victory. And follow it up by toasting the new year with an Upland Lambic, should that be your thing.

Thank you Caleb for showing Chris and I around. I apologize for not posting about our trip earlier, but better late than never! Cheers!

17 December 2007

New Date for Hops for Pops

Since Three Floyds just had to go and schedule Dark Lord Day for April 19th, the date for the Hops for Pops beer festival has been changed to to coincide with Father's Day. The new date is Saturday, June 14th (day before Father's Day). So now you have an excuse to drag your dad out drinking with you! Location is still the same - the outlots in front of The Hop Shop. More info to come at a later date.

12 December 2007

KOTBR #36 | L'Chaim! (or, "On the Third Night of Hanukkah, My Friends Brought Beer to Me")

For Roundtable #36, we gathered at my and my wife’s place on the third night of Hanukkah (or more appropriately, Chrismukkah, considering that this was an “interfaith” gathering—agnostic, Jew, Christian, and Buddhist) to enjoy some latkes and Jewish-themed beer from Shmaltz Brewing Company, home of the He’Brew brand of beers (certified kosher, of course). Shmaltz was started in 1996 by Jeremy Cowan, when, according to Cowan, he and some “intimate friends” gathered in a San Francisco loft to “squeeze luscious pomegranates by hand to brew the first 100 cases of the original He’Brew beer.” For those who are puzzled as to why pomegranates were part of the first He’Brew beer, the answer is that aside from being tasty and having healthy properties, the pomegranate has sacred significance in Judaism.

Eleven years later, Hoosiers are lucky to find He’Brew beers on the shelves of liquor stores and on bar menus across the state. Each beer comes with Cowan’s own style of Jewish quirkiness on the label, where you’ll find a list of Jewish-themed trivia that relates to the beer’s name. For example, the label on the Origin Pomegranate Ale (which we discuss in more detail below) explains that the calyx on top of the pomegranate was the original inspiration for the crown worn by Jewish monarchs.

The staple He’Brew beers are Genesis Ale and Messiah Bold (the latter is cleverly subtitled, “It’s The Beer You’ve Been Waiting For”). In addition, there are He’Brew’s renowned seasonal releases, which tend to be highly hopped, intense brews with a high ABV percentage. Because of this hop intensity, He’Brew seasonals are prime candidates for cellaring for a year or two. This aging tends to mellow the beer’s hoppy character, creating a sweeter and maltier offering.

For Roundtable #36, we reviewed five He’Brew seasonals, three of which had been aged for a year or more—Genesis 10:10, Bittersweet Lenny’s R.I.P.A., and Monumental Jewbelation 10—one that had been aged since March—Origin Pomegranate Ale—and this year’s newest seasonal release, Jewbelation 11 (as Nigel Tufnel said in This is Spinal Tap, “It goes to 11.”). Moreover, since we couldn’t leave out a review of a beer from that ubiquitous goyishe holiday, we also reviewed Brouwerij Huyghe’s Delirium Noel (Brouwerij Huyghe is also home to the, um, interesting Rubbel Sexy Lager).

A short note about the Jewbelation seasonal beers—these are released every year before Hanukkah. The number on the beer corresponds to the number of years that Shmaltz has been around, the number of different malts and hops used to make the beer, and the percentage of alcohol by volume.

Now that all the prefatory stuff is out of the way, this is how the Hoosier Beer Geek mishpocha reported their findings.

Mike, with a little literary quiz:

I realize Matt kinda just did this, but it's not the same because he did it well and I'm horrible.

Plus I didn't make this up, I plagiarized.

Reviews written in a semi-plagiarized style of the first page of books I pulled out of the pile in the closet.

You solve the mystery. List of works plagiarized at the bottom.

1) He’Brew Genesis 10:10 - 4.00 Mugs

"So you're all set for beer, then?" the boy named Jason asks in his typical informed voice. The kind of voice like when you've just started drinking and your mouth still feels quick and able. But he's just pretending. He's totally drunk. As always.

I nod.

"How much?"

I review the numbers in my head. "Close to four mugs, sweet apple berry nose with a hint of funk, boozy front, on the tongue sting, a hint of pepper, but extremely smooth. I know four is a lot, but it's fair enough. For the time being."

"Not bad," The boy named Jason says. "For the time being."

I give him another nod.

"I'm guess this isn't a Christmas gift score from Santa Claus."

"Yeah, you're right," I reply.

2) He’Brew Bittersweet Lenny’s R.I.P.A. - 3.50 Mugs

ABANDON ALL HOPE YE WHO ENTER HERE is scrawled in red lettering on the door of the apartment near the corner of Meridian and Fall Creek and is in print large enough to be seen from the front seat of the Mazda as it lurches forward in the traffic leaving downtown and just as Gina notices the words a bus pulls up, the advertisement for HoosierBeerGeek.com on its side blocking her view, but Gina who is with Pierce & Pierce and twenty-nine doesn't seem to care because she tells the brewer she will give him 3.50 mugs for brewing a buttery, biscuity brew that's a deep copper color and works all on the front of the tongue and the top of the mouth, and the brewer, white, Jewish, does so.

3) He’Brew Monumental Jewbelation 10 - 4.25 Mugs

I am visiting at the Villa Dimitri. There is not a crumb of dirt anywhere, nor a latke misplaced. We are all together here and we are dead.

Last night Chris discovered that he was lousy. I had to shave his armpits and even then the itching did not stop. How can one get lousy in a beautiful place like this? But no matter. We might not have known each other so intimately, Chris and I, had it not been for the lice.

Chris has just given me a summary of his views. He is a knight of the beer roundtable. The beer will continue to be good, he says. There will be more drunkenness, more vomit, more despair. Not the slightest indication of change anywhere. The cancer of beer reviewing is eating us away. Our heroes have gotten us drunk, or are drunk themselves. The hero, then, is not the present time stout-looking and Belgian-tasting ale, but the timelessness of the beers after. We must get in step, a lock step, toward the prison of beer reviewing. There is no escape. The weather will not change.

4) He’Brew Origin Pomegranate Ale - 3.00 Mugs

When he woke on the couch in the dark and the cold of the night he'd reach out to touch the beer sitting beside him. Nights dark beyond darkness and the beer not as drinkable than what had gone before. Like the onset of some cold drunken tonsillitis dimming away the world. His hand rose and fell softly with each fruit influenced by not fruity drink. He pushed away the plastic up and raised himself in the stinking robes and blankets and looked toward the kitchen for any more Jewbelation but there was none.

5) He’Brew Jewbelation 11 - 3.25 Mugs

All this happened, more or less. The drinking parts, anyway, are pretty much true. One beer I knew really was almost drank from a fridge that wasn't mine. Another beer I knew really did look like a stout with heavy lacing but a hard liquor, leafy pine nose. And so on. I've given you all the names.

6) Delirium Noel - 3.25 Mugs

If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know the first beer I drank was Milwaukee's Best, and what my lousy high school years were like, and how my friends back home still drink Miller Light, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth. In the first place, that stuff bores me, and in the second place, my friends would have about two hemorrhages apiece if I told you anything pretty personal about them. They're quite touchy about anything like that, especially the Miller Light part. They're nice and all-I'm not saying that-but they don't drink Belgians. Besides, I'm not going to tell you my whole goddamn autobiography or anything. I'll just tell you about this overripe apple smelling punch in the mouth beer I drank last at our Chrismukkah party where I got pretty run-down and had to go home and take it easy.

Works plagiarized in this review:

1) Haruki Murakami - Kafka on the Shore
2) Bret Easton Ellis - American Psycho
3) Henry Miller - Tropic of Cancer
4) Cormac McCarthy – The Road
5) Kurt Vonnegut - Slaughterhouse-Five
6) J.D. Salinger - The Catcher In The Rye

Jason, with “The Ballad of Shit McGee”:

There is nothing like starting the evening off by entering a door with a picture of pork on it, especially if said door is the front door of the home of a Member of the Tribe. Love the irony.

The aforementioned pork picture (from a real supermarket in Manhattan). The price labels came down shortly after this picture was taken.

I brought along my good buddy Shit McGee. Of course, that is just his nickname. But everybody calls him Shit McGee. And let me just say that this guy is a Chick Magnet. Old, young. Married, single. He brings ‘em all in.

On the way to dinner on this third night of Chrismukkah, Shit McGee and I were having a discussion about cellarable beers. In my experience, I have not had much success. Because apparently I choose shitty beers to store away. Also because I have a hard time getting beers to stay put. Somehow they always end up in my belly.

Unlike Mr. Mike Deweese at BadaBoomz Downtown, who is the local expert, in my opinion, on cellar beers. When it comes to it, I choose to let him store the beer and I’ll buy them later. At a premium, of course.

But are cellar beers all that great to begin with? I have been drinking lots of hopped up and English ales because of their bitter bites. Those bites tend to mellow out with time, so for me, I don’t think they are all that.

Tonight would be a great test, as we were tasting 4 beers that are a year or more old. The other 2 are pretty fresh. All the beers come from Shmaltz brewery, with the exception of one.

Here they are, from most favorite to least:

Jewbelation 11 – 4.25 mugs

Because it was fresh, the 11 hops were still hoppin’, while the 11 malts were still maltin’. Well balanced and tasty, a good argument against cellar beers

Genesis 10:10 – 3.875 mugs (that’s 3 7/8 mugs for you drunkards who can’t do math)

This was the best of the aged beers we drank, in my drunk opinion. It was slightly sweet, with tastes of brown sugar, while still having a fair amount of bite, giving it a whiskey quality.

Monumental Jewbelation 10 – 3.75 mugs

It was malty with a fruity Belgian hint. The 10 hops didn’t come through at all. But still tasty as pork chops at a synagogue. Another good argument for cellar beers, though.

Bittersweet Lenny’s R.I.P.A. – 3.375 mugs (.375 = 3/8’s; did you take any math in high school?)

This beer likely would have scored higher if had been fresher, because it didn’t taste like an IPA any more. But it had an intriguing rye and caramel flavor that kept me happy.

Origin Pomegranate Ale – 2.875 mugs

I’d like to blame this beer on being old. But the fact is that I probably wouldn’t have liked it if it had been fresh. Just too dang sweet for my tastes.

Delirium Noel – 2.75 mugs

I’d like to blame this beer on being old. But the fact is that it is fresh. And it was just too damned tart for my taste. A great beer to make you wish for a cellar IPA that no longer tastes like an IPA. Give me some more Jewbie 11!

Six beers. Six very potent beers. If it hasn’t been for the hash browned cakes of goodness (which would have been perfect the next morning with a fried egg on top), I would have been spinning. I had forgotten, however, that Shit McGee never eats when he drinks. So old Shitty made a fool of himself and me by throwing up all over Jim’s living room floor. Plus the lady that was all over him.

Or was she holding him up? It’s hard to say.

So I took him back to my home, where he promptly passed out.

Having consumed five He’Brew beers, I found myself wishing that we had three more, to compliment the eight crazy nights of Chrismukkah. I think I would make a pretty good Jew.

Okay except for the no pork, no meat/cheese mixtures, etc.

But those little beanie hats would cover up my growing bald spot nicely.

Gina, with, in her words, reviews in the “plain old regular style”:

Monumental Jewbelation 10 - 4.25 Mugs

This was malty and dark with a caramel taste and a bit of hops that wasn't overdone. As this one warmed, I got a bit of something smoky in the taste, but still sweet. Very tasty.

Bittersweet Lenny's R.I.P.A. – 4.00 Mugs

I tasted the caramel and the malts immediately and finished with the rye on the back of the tongue and throat. For being an IPA, I didn't get much of a hop bite which I was perfectly OK with.

Delirium Noel – 4.00 Mugs

I am still loving the Belgian beers, but I find that from this brewery, I like the Tremens better. The taste of this was purely alcohol with a side of apple. I think that it wasn't as balanced as much as I would have liked

Genesis 10:10 - 3.75 Mugs

The smell of this was very powerful at the start, but quickly faded away. The taste of this was quite light for being such a high ABV.

Origin Pomegranate Ale - 3.50 Mugs

This tasted faintly of pomegranate and was very light bodied. I found that I liked the fruitiness of this but I wanted it to be a little more malty or chewy.

Jewbelation 11 - 3.25 Mugs

I liked this one the least of all that we tried because it smelled so much like a pine tree. This is definitely one that I would like to try again a year after it's been aging in a cellar. If the 10 is any indication on how these beers age, I think it's going to be pretty amazing.

Overall, every one of these beers were very good and would be worth trying if you haven't already. Be sure to take a more in-depth look at the He'Brew bottles if you haven't had the opportunity. They all contain good stories and interesting information.

Thanks, Jim and Annie, for hosting a fabulous Chrismukkah gathering, plastic ass and all. The potato latkes were super good. I could go for a couple right now. :)

The world famous plastic ass. Artist unknown.

Chris's estimated ratings from memory (long story--he left his review notes behind, which I then mistakenly threw out):

Genesis 10:10: 4.50 mugs

Bittersweet Lenny’s R.I.P.A.: 4.75 mugs

Monumental Jewbelation 10: 4.25 mugs

Origin Pomegranate Ale: 5.00 mugs

Jewbelation 11: 3.97 mugs

Delirium Noel: 5.00 mugs

Since my colleagues have adequately said what needs to be said about each beer, I’ll simply add my mug ratings and note that, in my opinion, this was, on the whole, the best group of beers we’ve reviewed (of course, I may be a little biased as a MOT, but I loved even the Delirium Noel):

Genesis 10:10: 4.75 mugs

Bittersweet Lenny’s R.I.P.A.: 4.60 mugs

Monumental Jewbelation 10: 4.25 mugs

Origin Pomegranate Ale: 3.75 mugs

Jewbelation 11: 3.25 mugs

Delirium Noel: 4.00 mugs

Mid-week Crisis at John's

When doing the free beer tastings at Big Car, the most common question asked is "Where can I buy this?" Often, we hear from people who live or work downtown that don't necessarily want to hoof it to the Hop Shop, Parti-Pak, or Kahn's. Where do they go?

There are several options. Rural Inn has a great beer cooler stocked with all sorts of imports and crafts. Marsh the Marketplace at Lockerbie (formerly O'Malia's) expanded their beer offerings. I haven't been to Goose the Market yet, but they apparently have a nice beer and wine cellar.

But I'd like to point out an often overlooked location: John's Liquors on Pennsylvania between Market and Washington. While I'm certain it is frequented by the residentially challenged who are looking for some cheap wine to warm up with, it also has a nice collection of finer liquors as well as better beers. It is not the biggest selection in the city, by any means, but they do carry a number of micro, craft, and import beers.

And Wednesdays, as I discovered, are "Mid-week Crisis" days. You can get 15% off of single bomber bottles like Three Floyd's Alpha Klaus, Delirium Tremens, Breckenridge 471 IPA, or Trois Pistoles. Also, buy three different six packs of micro or import beers, and get the fourth for a penny.

It's good to have good beer. It's better when it is nearby. It's best when it's on sale!

11 December 2007

Beer Geek Breakfast?

One of the ideas we've started kicking around lately (after new business cards, new t-shirts, coasters, a New Year's party, and selling our services to Budweiser*) is a Hoosier Beer Geek breakfast - inspired by Mikkeller's Beer Geek Breakfast beer - at a restaurant to be determined.

And that's where the idea sits right now, because coming up with a restaurant to host the event is an issue. First off, it would help if they already had a decent beer selection. Better yet, we'd like to find a restaurant that was open to us bringing in our own selections. Secondly, we'd need a restaurant that's open to us bringing a crowd of beer geeks first thing in the morning. And lastly, we need a crowd of people who are interested in wasting a Saturday and being drunk by 9 AM or so.

So that's where you come in. Would you be interested in a Hoosier Beer Geek breakfast? I'm going to stick another poll up on the right hand side of the page - place your votes. Leave a comment and suggest a breakfast beer. Suggest a restaurant.

And that's for the help.

* * * * *

*Has anyone else noticed they're not advertising Budweiser as "the great American lager" instead of just "this is beer"? Weird.

06 December 2007

Christmas is coming early

I just talked with World Class Beverages, and here is our lineup for Friday's tasting:

Avery Jubilation
Bell's Winter White
Flying Dog K-9 Cruiser Winter Ale
Sam Smith Winter Welcome
Brooklyn Chocolate

So I think it is safe to say that beer won't be a disappointment. Here are the details for the event:
Big Car Gallery at the Murphy Arts Center in Fountain Square
1043 Virginia Avenue, Suite 215
Indianapolis , IN 46203
Friday, December 7th, 7pm-9pm

So come out into the cold, enjoy some tasty beverages, check out the "Under the Weather" art exhibit, and cheer up man, cuz Christmas came early!

05 December 2007

Our New Year's Party keeps getting better

Not long after I sent out the New Year's invite, I received an email from Ted Miller of Brugge Beer/Brasserie, in which he suggested that maybe we'd like to try on a "delectable little pilot brew from the TH plant. It's a Strong Belgian Blonde thing. I know you've got another Strong Belgian Blonde thing on that night, but I thought that might be kinda fun."

I'd agree.

So near midnight we'll introduce a Hoosier Beer Geek first - A Hoosier Beer Geek 2007 Commemorative Ale - Sint Sylvester Vooranvond from Brugge Beer.

What's the "Sint" about? Let's consult the sacred-texts.com
In Belgium, New Year’s Eve is called Sint Sylvester Vooranvond, Saint Sylvester Eve. The réveillon, or New Year’s Eve family party is thrown. At midnight everyone kisses, exchanges good luck greetings, and drinks toasts to absent relatives and friends. The cities, cafés, and restaurants are crowded with people who bid farewell to the Old Year.

"Sylvester" is the nickname popularly applied to the lazy boy or girl who rises last on the final day of the year. Since "Sylvesters" traditionally have to pay a forfeit to their brothers and sisters, each child tries to be first to bound out of bed on the morning of December 31.

Girls, especially, try to be industrious on this day because of the old saying that one who does not finish her handwork by sunset will remain an old maid throughout the year.

04 December 2007

KOTBR #35 - Schlafly and Ommegang

Our beloved senior Beer Geeks have outdone themselves yet again, and have proven that this newly dubbed Knight of the Beer Roundtable has much to learn. After paying a visit to my humble hovel this Thursday last, for a tasting of some of Schlafly’s finest wares, these noble imbibers have graced us with some of their talent at composing prose and poetry. I will not attempt to match their wit or adroitness with a quill, but will relate their assessments to you in the order that they crossed my threshold. The beers reviewed are: Ommegang Abbey Ale (provided as a warm-up by Jim), the 2006 & 2007 Schlafly Barleywine Reserve, and the 2007 & 2006 Schlafly Imperial Stout (provided by Mike, Gina, and a Hoosier Beer Geek ally now living in St. Louis) (and yes, I realize I transposed the years from the Barleywine to the Imperial Stout, that was the drinking order).

GINA (treating us with some haiku)

Number 35
Pizza, beer, good company
We forgot one beer

Ommegang Abbey Dubbel - 4 mugs

Mild tempered Brew
Could easily drink too much
Glad Jim brought this beer

Schlafly Barleywine 2006 - 4.5 mugs

Happily surprised
My favorite of the night
Would like to drink more

Schlafly Barleywine 2007 - 3.75 mugs

A little less sweet
drinkability still good
Like to try this aged

Schlafly Imperial Stout 2007 - 3.5 mugs

Good taste, light mouthfeel
I prefer stouts more malty
But this is still good

Schlafly Imperial Stout 2006 3.5 mugs

Bourbon Barrel Stout
Chocolate does help as said
Mellow the flavor

MIKE (the Weird Al of beer reviews)

"Now That's What I Call Beer #35"

Feist - 1,2,3,4
Ommegang Abbey Double - 3.19 mugs

One Two Three point one nine
a hint of bread, tomato, and apple is fine
Caramel front heavy lacing
seems a slight bit boozy tasting

Oh, you're a tasty start
Oh, a nice beer you are

Britney Spears - Gimme More
Schlafy's Reserve Aged on Oak Barleywine-Style Ale 2006 - 4.00 mugs

(It's Barleywine, bitch)

Everytime you look like sweet tea
Just got that orangey/sugar nose for you
You got a front that's oakey
little chewy and really drinkable (aren't you)

Gimme gimme four
Gimme four
Gimme gimme four
Gimme gimme four
Gimme (Mugs)

Peter Bjorn and John - Young Folks
Schlafly Reserve Aged on Oak Barleywine-Style Ale 2007 - 3.00 mugs

If I told you I drank you before
Told you how you used to be
Would you go along as agreeably?
Or would you be transparent, less lacing
Still orange but less sugary
Light oak and more boozy?

And I cared more about the old oak
Talkin' 'bout the aged style
And I cared more for the old oak
Talkin' 'bout 3 mugs for yee
Talkin' 'bout 3 mugs for yee

Christina Aguilera - Candyman
Schlafly Reserve 2007 Imperial Stout - 2.50 mugs

I met it out at Kelly's on a Thursday night
A deep brown color in the electric light
Light lacing and a small head with a punchy front
A sweet but non-stout-y taste made me say huh
It's a different beer, sweet fruit front stout is weird
It's a 2.5 rated mug of shandy man
2.5 rated mug of shandy man

Fergie - Glamorous
Schlafly Reserve 2006 Imperial Stout - 3.25 mugs

We're drinking 06 last
aging it out
A more relaxed blast
of sugary stout
It's 3.0 mugs
For the 06
Ooh the flossy, flossy

JIM (brevity is the soul of wit and beer appreciation, especially when it involves a reprise of the four-word review)

Ommegang Abbey Ale (warm-up beer) - A dry, caramel delight. 4.25 mugs.
Schlafly Reserve Barleywine Style Ale 2006 - A brandy-like, sugary wonder. 4 mugs.
Schlafly Reserve Barleywine Style Ale 2007 - Like 2006, except "scotchy." 3.5 mugs.
Schlafly Reserve Imperial Stout 2007 - Imperial stout? Tastes Belgian. 3.25 mugs.
Schlafly Reserve Imperial Stout 2006 - Mellow, fruity, sweety, "bourbony." 3.5 mugs.

JASON (the one who started this poetry slam with a little 5,7, 5 action)

Ommegang Abbey Ale (4 mugs):
Carmel apple turned
to applesauce then to beer
that will kick your ass.

Schlafly Reserve Barleywine-style ale 2006, aged on oak (4.25 mugs):
A dessert beer for
sugarholic lumberjacks;
sweet, woodsy, delish.

Schlafly Reserve Barleywine-style ale 2007, aged on oak (3 mugs):
No oak and no sweets.
More tart in flavor makes this
beer a tarter sauce.

Schlafly Reserve Imperial Stout 2007, aged in bourbon barrels (3.5 mugs):
Missouri stout plus
barrels from Kentucky makes
New Madrid Car Bomb

Schlafly Reserve Imperial Stout 2006, aged in bourbon barrels (3.5 mugs):
More stout, less bourbon,
plus bittersweet chocolate;
goes good with brownie.

CHRIS, who was suffering a cold (I’m amazed Nantucket never came up)

, our warm-up beer, is from Belgium.
After sipping it I said, “Hell, Jim!”
I’ve had it before,
But this sucks even more.
In fact, it smells worse than a male’s gym!” 1.5 mugs

From Schlafly did four beers we taste,
But my share was likely a waste,
Though thankful I am they were free,
three to me kinda tasted like pee,
So then to Deano’s did I make haste. 2.5 mugs – Barleywine 2006, Imperial Stout 2006 & 2007

The one I liked was the barleywine, version 2007.
I think it was sent from either St. Louis or Heaven.
Though it smelled like earth and corn,
It can’t top lipstick lesbian porn,
But both get my engines fast revving. 3.5 mugs

MATT (who was there first, but is the newbie of the group)

Ommegang Abbey Ale – 3.75 mugs (in the style of H.P. Lovecraft)

Upon first taking a tentative draught of this elixir, I found myself terrified of the eldritch horror that all humans instinctively know, but pragmatically suppress when they taste a beer that bears such an uncanny similarity to wine and tastes of cherries. The smoothness and caramel flavor could easily lull one into complacency about his place in the world. Too many of these might push one over the brink of madness into a world of non-Euclidian geometry and forgotten deities who might destroy his liver without effort or care.

Schlafly Barleywine Reserve 2006 and 2007 – 3.5 and 3.25 mugs, respectively
(in the Nadsat style of A Clockwork Orange)

Welly welly well…I had a peet of both pivos and was sharpened up for a bit of the old ultra-chatting. Oh my brothers, the 2006 was all gorgeousness and gorgeosity and went down real horrorshow, with a bolshy taste of alcohol and a malenky bit of chocolate. In the 2007 your friend and humble narrator tasted more sladky sugar and hops but less nose. Moloko-plus it wasn’t, but this malchick isn’t complaining.

Schlafly Imperial Stout 2007 and 2006 – 3.5 and 3.25 respectively

(in the style of Dune)

Under the rule of the Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV, the production of beer had suffered greatly. Not since the Butlerian Jihad had such sorry brews passed for beer in the Imperium. We thank Shai-Hulud that Emperor Paul-Muad’Dib has a taste for more than the Water of Life! The vintage of 10,192 AG (2007) is worth it’s weight in spice, tasting of wood, caramel, and bourbon. The latter is a fine brew, likely to be favored by Mentats to chase the bitter taste of sapho, as it is quite sweet, and with less bourbon than its successor. Drink without rhythm.

Our thanks go out to Mitch Turner at the St. Louis Brewery, Brand Manager of Schlafly Beer, who provided us with various versions of both of the Schlafly beers.

New Year's Party Info

Most of you who are subscribed to our email list got this invite in your mailbox yesterday:
Hello again, fellow beer geeks!

This may sound familiar to some of you because I started our last invitation email the same way. You are receiving this email invite because we consider you a friend. If you've been out of the loop lately, or haven't been reading www.hoosierbeergeek.com, we won't hold it against you. Instead, we'd like to bring you back into the fold and invite you to our New Year's party - The Beer Inspired New Year's Party To End All Beer Inspired New Year's Parties - at Deano's Vino on December 31st at around 9PM.

As you can see from the attached flyer, we'll have the right beer on tap - The rarely-on-tap and Hoosier Beer Geek requested Three Floyd's Alpha Klaus, the wonderfully tasty Delirium Tremens, and a choice from a favorite brewer located just north of the Indiana border - either Bell's Hopslam (cross your fingers!) or Bell's Two Hearted.

In addition to what's on tap, Deano has a fine selection of bottled beers, a wide selection of wines , and a menu of fine food. For this special New Year's event, Chef Jody is also planning a special late night menu of tasty treats to keep you on an even keel. And remember that Deano's staff is always happy to call a cab for you.

Our anniversary party at Deano's was a smashing (and overwhelming) success, and we hope to see you there again on New Year's Eve to ring in the new year in the same festive atmosphere.

Deano's Vino is located at 1112 South Shelby Street, Indianapolis. Admission is free (food/drink are not included), and the action starts at 9pm. The flier for the event is attached. Further info can be found at www.hoosierbeergeek.com, and feel free to email if you have any questions.

Let's bring in 2008 right! We hope to see you there!

Chris, Jason, Jim, Kelly, Mike, Gina, and Matt
The Knights of the Beer Roundtable
I'm reposting the invite because not everyone that reads Hoosier Beer Geek subscribes to the email list. But everyone that reads Hoosier Beer Geek is invited to the party. Hell, bring 100 friends if you want. The more merrier.

All this sounds pretty good, right? Well, today we got some really great New Year's party news involving a local brewer and a special beer.

You see...

That's all I can tell you right now. Stay tuned.

02 December 2007

Guest Review of Power House Brewing Co. from HBG friends Jamey and Libbie

Although none of the knights were able to make it down to the Power House Brewing Co. firkin party, we did have friends who made it down to Columbus to check out the scene:
Hi, Jamey and Libbie here.

We went to Power House Brewing last night (12/1/07) and unfortunately missed the firkin of Bells - but we overheard our server talking about it and he said that it was Bells Third Coast.

When we got there we ordered a pint of their Power House Columbus Common Ale and it was wonderful. Fortunately for us, it happened to be the last pint left in the keg. This beer was great; we would compare it to Two Brothers French Country Ale, which Power House also sells in bottles. They are brewing a batch of some kind of stout that should be on draft the middle of this week. Their brewery is tiny - in fact, it's located in the front window of the place. I think they only make 40 gallons at a time, and they only have one of their beers on tap at a time.

They have 19 really awesome beers on draught. Bonus points for having the Brugge Black on tap! They have some great beers available in bottles, too, with carry-out singles - we bought a couple Lafayette Brewing beers and one large bottle of the 11th Anniversary Ale from Stone.

Have you guys been here? If not, you MUST go! This place is a real gem and it has so much history. You won't want to leave - we sure didn't. Their food is excellent! They make their beer batter out of the run-off from pouring their draughts so the batter changes taste every day. Our server said that some days it might be a light-colored batter and other days it might look almost burnt because of the different ratios of light & dark beers.

Everyone that was in the place was really knowledgeable about beer and most are homebrewers. They have a home-brewer club every Tuesday if any of you are interested.

This was our very first visit there and we will definitely be going back soon and often! Can you tell that we liked the place?
Our thanks go out to Jamey and Libbie for the review.

Been out to a beer location yourself? Care to share? Submit your review to us at Hoosier Beer Geek, and after a quick bit of editing, you too can see and share your work in beautiful HTML at HoosierBeerGeek.com.

30 November 2007

A heads up from The Heorot

Looks like there's a good reason to head to Muncie this December...
If you are a true "Beer Geek" you won't want to miss The Heorot's annual cellar sale!!

Stan has been in the cellar for days selecting a variety of beers for this years sale.

If you know anything about the Heorot cellar you know it would take days to go through all the cases of brew he has down there.

He has worked with World Class to create a special gift pack of 12 beers like Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout, Bell's Winter White, Alpaha King, World Wide Stout, Delirium Noel just to name a few.

The sale starts on 12/1/07 and runs through 12/31/07. Remember quantities are limited.

Need more info? Call the Heorot at (765) 287-0173

"It's all about the beer"
As we've said before, The Heorot is a Hoosier Beer Geek mecca - and it sounds like you've even got more reason to visit now.

29 November 2007

There are going to be a lot of drunk people on NYE . . .

After talking with Nick at Deano's yesterday, I can tell you the draft line-up for our New Year's Eve Party - and I think a lot of you will be interested.

In Keg #1, we have the HBG special request - Three Floyd's Alpha Klaus.

In Keg #2, we will have something from Larry Bell - either Two-Hearted or Hopslam.

In Keg #3, direct from Belgium, Delirium Tremens.

Deano's will be serving dinner, too, so come eat some grub and get drunk with us. Or go eat elsewhere, then come get drunk with us. Chef Jody is planning to have some late-night sobering-up food out for consumption, too. They're also more than happy to call you a cab.

Stolen Content - Chumley's Beer List, WSJ Article

My daily browsing of Beer Advocate forums turned up this bit of information:
Chumley's new beers


Great Divide hibernation ale ----awesome beer!!!
Oaken Barrel epiphany ale
Anchor christmastime
3 Floyds Pride & Joy
Avery Ellies Brown
Avery Ellies IPA
Avery Karma Ale
Bells Porter
Bells Thirdcoast Beer
Bells Thirdcoast old ale
Boulder Beer Mojo IPA
Boulder Hazed & Infused
Boulder Passtime Ale
Boulder Sundance Amber
Breckenidge Vanilla Porter
Breckenridge Avalanche
Dogfish Head 60 minute
Flying Dog Doggie style
Founders Centennial IPA
Founders Red Rye
Goose Island Maltilda
Goose Island Pere Jacques
Lakefront White
Left Hand Deep Cover
Left Hand Milk Stout
Left Hand Sawtooth Ale
Leinenkugel's Honey Weiss
Leinenkugel's Red
Loose Cannon Hop3Ale
Mackeson XXX Stout
Mad Anthony Auburn Lager
Maudite Red
McEwans Scotch
Orkney's Skullsplitter
Paulaner Salvator
Pyramid Apricot
Pyramid Thunderhead
Red Seal
Rogue Dead Guy
Sea Dog Blueberry
Spaten Optimator
Spaten Pilsner
St. Pauli Girl
Steelhead Extra Stout
Stone Pale Ale
Thirsty Dog Ole Leghumper
Thunderbolt Wheat
Upland Dragon IPA
Upland Pale


Abita Turdbodog
Amstel Light
Bare Knuckle
Bells Amber
Bells Seasonal
Bells Two Hearted
Boulder Mojo IPA
Bud Light
Bud Select
Coors Light
Dos Equis
Framboise Lambic
Goose Island 312
Goose Island Honkers Ale
Hacker Pschorr
Honey Brown
Labatts Blue
Leinenkugel's Honey
Leinenkugel's Sunset Wheat
Michelob Amberbock
Michelob Ultra
Miller Lite
Molson Canadian
New Castle
Oaken Barrel Razz-Wheat
Pilsner Urquell
Pyramid Hefe-Weizen
Red Hook ESB
Red Hook Seasonal
Rolling Rock
Sams Adams Lager
Sams Adams Seasonal
Sierra Nevada Pale
Stone Arrogant Bastard
Upland Wheat
Youngs Dbl Choc Stout
The author of the list is also looking for suggestions, so stop in over in the thread at Beer Advocate (which I'm sure requires registration) and help him or her out.

* * * * *

10 AM: Here's an article from the Wall Street Journal about Westvleteren, and the trappist monks who brew it.

28 November 2007

What really got served at Thanksgiving dinner

Last week, I discussed Michael Jackson's suggestion of a Vienna lager as the perfect beer for Thanksgiving dinner. So, a Vienna-style lager is what I expected when we arrived at my in-laws' Waldron, Indiana palace for a down-home Thanksgiving meal (any Thanksgiving dinner that includes noodles and gravy along with the mashed potatoes is way "down-home" in my book). But a bevy of Vienna lager wasn't in my father-in-law's beverage fridge (you know, a beverage fridge--the 20-year-old Frigidaire that's in the garage and contains various and sundry beers and soft drinks). The beer on the shelf was Goose Island Harvest Ale.

As I pulled a Harvest Ale off the shelf and shut the fridge door, I wasn't quite sure what to expect out of this beer because there was absolutely nothing on the bottle to tell me about it. I guess I thought it would contain some sort of spices associated with autumn--a little cinnamon or perhaps some nutmeg--which really didn't get me excited to try this stuff. Spicy beers just don't do it for me.

I was pleased, however, to find that the Harvest Ale is brewed in the Extra Special Bitter (ESB) style, which happens to be my favorite British beer style. ESB lovers know that this style of beer is all about a good hop/malt balance. The Harvest Ale fit that profile perfectly. Brewed with Cascade hops, this copper-colored beer had a wonderful citrus nose and flavor, with a slight hint of rye. Backing this up was a fantastic caramel-like malt flavor. Paired with the turkey, mashed potatoes, and stuffing, this beer really shined.

In short, my father-in-law made an outstanding choice with this ale. If you're into ESB's, this seasonal offering won't disappoint you.

It's Firkin Friday at Power House Brewing Co.

I was stumbling around some Indiana brewery sites when I came across this bit of news from Columbus' own Power House Brewing Co:
11/30/07 - Firkin Party

This is a firkin big deal. We will have a firkin of Bell's Two Hearted Ale that we will tap right here Friday night, November 30th.

A Firkin is a small keg used to serve Real Ale. A real ale, an ale that has been naturally carbonated in the keg, or in this case firkin. This is how it used to be done in Europe. These days we package in kegs and "force carbonate" by pressurizing a vessel full of beer with CO2 gas. Real Ales have much more flavor and less carbonation than what we have today. This Firkin should only last one night so don't miss it!

Friday November 30th around 8PM!
Do we have any Columbus readers? Or maybe some readers who'll be in Edinburg to do some holiday outlet mall shopping? In any case, drop off the husband, wife or any other excess baggage at the outlets, and tell him/her you're headed into town to do some firkin. Or bring him/her along, and fulfill your public firkin fantasies.

Let us know how that goes for you. And email any pictures to Hoosier Beer Geek.

27 November 2007

Continuing Education with Beer Magazine

Christmas is rapidly approaching and perhaps you're in the market for something beer related. As an alternative to all that beer, I'm going to spend a little time this week attempting to inform you about some of the beer specific magazines available by subscription or in your local bookstores. Next up is the brand new Beer Magazine - let's take a look.

Magazine: Beer
Byline: Drink Laugh Learn Enjoy
Subscription Information: $19.99 for six issues (bimonthly)
Source Issue: Nov/Dec 07
Cover: A busty bleached-blonde opening a beer bottle with her teeth.
Look: Slightly Juvenile, but professional. Semi-gloss Paper.

Non-beer ads: None.
Mainstream Magazine Equivalent: Beer is the Maxim Magazine of Beer.

The Buzz - Short beer-related news items, including news about Miller Chill
Calendar featuring various tastings and the birthdates of Teri Hatcher, Billy the Kid, Elisha Cuthbert, and "National Noodle Ring Day"
"Ask Beer" section - What's the 33 on Rolling Rock, Why are Hefeweizens so cloudy, What is Gravity as it pertains to beer, What is a Craft Brewer?
"Beer Anatomy" - the story behind Pilsener, with variations and characteristics
"Beer Kitchen" - various Thanksgiving beer based recipes
"Handle with Care" - A guide to beer storage
"Beer Shootout" - Blue Collar Beer - see Hoosier Beer Geek's Retro Beer Challenge, but with different results - #1 Budweiser, #2 Coors, #3 PBR. I don't believe they actually drank these beers.
"7 Ways to Open A Beer" article featuring 7 or so girls in bikinis standing around a pool and opening beer bottles with other bottles, folded paper, teeth, and the power of combined stupidity
"Beer Glass Class" - article about drinking from something other than red plastic cups
"Homebrew 101" - what you need to become a homebrewer
"10 Funniest Beer Commercials" - with YouTube addresses. Whassup?!?!?!?
"How to Get Free Beer" article. Tip #1 - Be Attractive.
"Cab It" - tips on avoiding driving drunk
"Homebrew" - Should You Homebrew?
"Taste Test" - Quarter page beer reviews with photos of bottle and beer in glasses, scores, graphic for temperature range, and availability map for the beers. A good idea, just a little graphic intensive.
"Beer of the Month" this month's beer? Michelob's Cherry and Chocolate celebrate lagers
"Beer Games" - the bikini girls are back, and they're playing beer pong
"Wipe Out" - toilet paper rankings. I'm not making that up.
"Tapped Out" - closing section. Random Facts about the making of Beer Magazine.

Pluses: For the fellas, there's the prominent use of breasts. Maybe that's for some of the ladies, too.
Minuses: Nothing on the website except how to subscribe. Target market may not be old enough to drink yet.

This is the premier issue, so perhaps it's a little early to cast judgment.. but.. This magazine seems to be targeted to guys who express their love of beer by drinking it as fast as possible. Not that there's anything wrong with that. All of the educational intro to beer kind of articles are nice, but it sort of reminds me of taking cooking lessons from Ronald McDonald.

Since they've exhausted quite a few of the "intro to craft beer drinking" lessons in issue #1, I wonder what's in store for issue #2. If I had to guess, I'd say more girls. If you've got a friend or relative that's just getting into craft beer from the BudMillerCoors side, this is a magazine that is sure to keep the articles at layman's level.

Website: www.thebeermag.com

How not to convert the masses

One of the fun things about craft beer is exposing it to the uninitiated. I had amassed quite a selection of beer in the house over the past six months, and seeing as that I was going back to Illinois for the Thanksgiving holiday, I decided to pack up my collection and try to convert the cousins, aunts and uncles.

I was fighting an uphill battle to begin with. After explaining that I didn't know how quite a few of the beers I had brought tasted, I heard comments like "why would you pay all that money for beer when you don't even know what it tastes like?" and "what's next, Hoosier Beer Geek?" I'd never heard the words used in a mocking tone - it stings a little.

The idea seemed easy enough - bring beer, share beer, wow family. The mistake I made wasn't in trying to expose a bunch of Miller Light drinkers to beer. The mistake was trying to expose a bunch of Miller Light drinkers to Belgian sours, IPAs, and a few other beers that I hadn't tried before - most of them not really that good.

"Do you actually like this?"

"Well... no."

They did seem to like my BBC Brown and Jefferson's Reserve Stout - but I like them too, and I only had one bottle of each - so those didn't get shared so much.

I'm going to try again at Christmas, though - with Budweiser versus something from Warbird, probably. Or maybe just stuff from a Sam Adams sampler. Better tools.

* * * * *

It's been a little slow around here lately, so I'm going to attempt to get the comments flowing - Got any suggestions for gateway beers to bring the family around? And what have you been drinking lately? Got any recommendations for the rest of us?

I'm famous

Yesterday I posted our Hoosier Beer Geek 6 Pack interview with Mike Sweeney of StlHops.com. Today he's running his side of the interview in a feature called "Interview with Mike Atwood of Hoosier Beer Geek", in which I dicuss the value of Three Floyds, the abundance of great Indiana brewers, and getting laid at Dairy Queen. Click here for the story at StlHops.com.

26 November 2007

The Hoosier Beer Geek 6 Pack - Mike Sweeney of StlHops.com

The Hoosier Beer Geek 6 Pack is a feature where we run six questions by the folks behind the scenes in the beer world to get a little more insight into what they do and like and how they got their start. The Knights of the Beer Roundtable would like to thank our guest, Mike Sweeney of the St. Louis-based beer blog StlHops.com, for answering our questions.

1) Who are you, what's your beer background, and what inspired stlhops?

I'm just a yahoo that is pretty obsessed with beer. About 5 or 6 years ago I learned that my grandfather used to be a homebrewer and I decided at that point I wanted to carry on the tradition. As for the inspiration for STL Hops, I was just thinking one day, "I really wish there was a beer blog/website devoted just to the St. Louis scene." Rather than wait around for it to happen, I started it myself.

2) What do you hope to accomplish with stlhops?

I just hope people really find it useful. I like being able to alert people to new beers in the area or events that allow people to enjoy beer with other enthusiasts. I also hope that some of my passion rubs off on everyone that reads it. I'm not a quiet or reserved guy by any means, but if you get me talking about beer you'll never shut me up.

3) How long have you been writing stlhops? Is your staff just one person?

At this point it's just me, who knows what the future holds though? STL Hops is still in it's infancy, I just started the website back in September. In the mean time it's really surpassed my expectations. I've met a lot of the local brewers, a lot of enthusiasts and have had just a great time.

4) How many readers do you have?

I'm averaging about 50-60 unique readers a day and about 100-150 page views.

5) On your about page, you mention that you don't review beers ("I'm going to keep beer reviews to a minimum because frankly it's your job to go and try the beer") - but having said that, do you ever come across a beer so good that you find yourself wanting to review it anyway?

Judging by my response to Eric's Ale, I'm going to have to say yes. One of my problems with reviews, especially of local beers, is that brewers brew beer because they love it. For the most part, brewing beer isn't going to make you rich. So I have a hard time disparaging something that someone has put a lot of hard work into. I'd rather not write anything nasty as it doesn't accomplish anything.

Also, for the most part there are so very few beers I hate (Corona, I'm looking at you.) I have a few personal categories of beer: the must buys, the occasional buys or the OK, but I'd never buy again.

6) I noticed that you recently pulled of three straight nights of beer events ("the trifecta") - Do you ever find yourself thinking "I've been drinking too much beer?"

Let me tell you, after the first event on Monday night I thought to myself, "I've drank far too much beer." It wasn't the drinking of the beer those three nights that was so tiring, but just all of the activity. I have a normal 9-5, I'm getting a bit too old to go out for 3 nights of drinking. My girlfriend Irene and I are homebodies for the most part, so while it was a lot of fun I was glad to come home from work on Thursday and just enjoy a beer in peace.

Sometimes, those are the best beer experiences of them all.

* * * * *

Hoosier Beer Geek wishes to again thank Mike for taking the time to answer our questions, and for his dedication to good beer.