28 January 2007

Locals Only...with a special guest star

For our latest review, which took place at Locals Only (as Jason has already noted), we were joined by Scot, who is the author of the excellent blog, 64th and Broadway, Barcelona. You might be familiar with Scot's blog because it was featured in last week's INtake article on local bloggers. Scot is an avid fan of independent films, so if you enjoy hanging out at Key Cinemas, then 64th and Broadway should be a daily stop for you because Scot often posts thoughtful and insightful reviews of the films that he sees.

I've known Scot for several years. We became acquainted through our mutual love for the Beautiful Game. We suffered together through the U.S.'s disappointing World Cup appearance this past summer and are fans of rival Major League Soccer teams. Despite our differing team loyalties, we do get along quite well. Before the review, I knew that Scot had a healthy appreciation for good beer, so it was no surprise that he joined us at Locals Only. He was a great guest. I think that I speak for the other Knights of the Beer Roundtable when I say that Scot has an open invitation to join us for future reviews.

On to the beers. Last Thursday, unfortunately, was a slightly disappointing beer night for me. This is not to say that the beers we reviewed were poor; rather, the beers simply didn't sit well with me. In fact, the best beer that I had was my warm-up beer, which was an Anheuser-Busch product, Bare Knuckle Stout. Bare Knuckle is a dry, Irish-style stout made in the mold of Guinness. I suppose that A-B decided to make a foray into the stout market based upon Guinness's burgeoning popularity here in the United States. I must say that the producer of the "King of Beers" has done a fairly good job with Bare Knuckle, which I found to be smooth with that classic milky finish that a good dry stout has. Bare Knuckle's flavor isn't as heavy as Guinness's, which has more coffee-like notes. But if you're looking to try a stout for the first time, Bare Knuckle would be a good stout with which to start.

From the Bare Knuckle, we stepped up to the high octane stuff. At Chris's behest, we went with Stone Brewing Company's Ruination IPA. I didn't protest at all because I love Stone's products. They release a Russian Imperial Stout every year that is heavenly, and they have just released their yearly batch of Old Guardian Barley Wine, which never disappoints. But up until Thursday, I had not tried the Ruination IPA.

So we broke out the snifters (actually, I think they were wine glasses) and poured. Like any good IPA, the Ruination was sort of a coppery-gold hue. The nose on this beer was phenomenal--very, very fruity, with a bit of grapefruit. On second whiff, however, I got a big old dose of...bubble gum. I loved it. The flavor, however, belied the nose. I was expecting a bit of sweetness, but the Ruination is extremely dry. Like other IPA's, it's heavy on the hops, with an almost pine-like taste. The first half of the glass was very pleasant, but as I drank more, the beer became overpowering. It almost got to the point of making me nauseated. Perhaps this happened because, next to Renee, I am probably the biggest lightweight of the group (about which I get constant grief from the other Knights). Ultimately, I wimped out and turned the rest of my beer over to Jason. So I'll give a dual rating here. If I could do nothing but smell the beer, I'd give it 5 mugs. But the flavor knocks it down to 3 mugs for me.

As for the Sterkens Hoogstraten Poorter, what would beer geeks like us do without a Belgian ale to review? Locals Only owner David generously furnished us a free bottle of the stuff (and it was a BIG bottle), which we split between us. I agree with Jason's assessment of this beer as being a virtual clone of Unibroue's Trois Pistoles, which, as I noted in an earlier review, was just not my thing. I did, however, have a good laugh at the vaguely homoerotic label for the beer. 3 mugs for the beer; 4 mugs for the label.

Super Bowl parties featuring Indy vs. Chicago beers

I've had a few people email me this week from out-of-state that are looking to get some Indianapolis & Chicago beers and food for their Super Bowl Party, and wanted to know what would be available in their state.

I have suggested taking either the beer link list we have at the side of this site, or getting on to Indiana Beer and finding their list of Indiana brewers, taking it to your local good beer store, and seeing what they have. You can also contact the brewers off of their websites to see where their products are distributed.

Of course, we will only be drinking Indiana beers while watching the Super Bowl. Since last Sunday and until next Sunday, Indianapolis and Chicago are at war, and there are plenty of landmines planted along that 150 mile route up I-65.


27 January 2007

Two Knights Write Again

We do generally just focus on beer-related topics on this site, but this is worth mentioning, since we all came together because of blogging.

Both Jim & I have gone back & forth in quitting our blogs and re-starting them. We hem & haw about not having the time to keep them fresh, then we complain about missing writing them. The truth is, he and I both really like blogging. I think he would agree, as would those of you who blog, that it's theraputic for your mind and soul. But we both recently killed our blogs, Jackson's Daddy and 11 a. m. Air Raid, respectively.

Well, we just couldn't stay away.

Jim has just launched a new blog, called He Writes About Words, a treatise on the English language, from words, to lyrics, to books, and beyond.

And I followed suite with my own new offering, christened The Non-Profit Dad, which is a journal on trying to be a good director of a local non-profit organization and trying to be a good father - at the same time.

We're both linked on the side. Check 'em out over a beer!

26 January 2007

"We serve what I like"

These words from David Queisser make a worthy mantra for everyone when talking about your profession and your business. If you don't believe in the product, how can you expect to successfully sell it?

David and his girlfriend/business partner Michele Kofski own and operate Locals Only, a "music and art pub" at 56th Street and Keystone. It is an impressive, off the beaten path establishment that welcomes locals and not-so-locals from all walks of life. There's a stage in one corner of the bar, offering live music of all sorts. The work of local artists hang on the walls. There's a pinball machine and pool table for those that want activity. And a mix of booths, tables and chairs, bar stools, and couches so that you can find a comfortable place to sit, no matter your style. There is also a TV or two for your sports watching pleasure.

They have a nice menu of food items, but being a HBG, I wasn't there for the food. I was there for the beer. And they have one helluva beer menu. I believe I counted around 65 bottled beer varieties along with 11 taps and 13 domestic beers for your pleasure. Enough brew to keep any booze hound trying something different everyday for a couple of months.

What's also great about their beer menu is the number of beers and breweries on the menu that I had never heard of. The standards on many local beer menus (Bell's, Three Floyd's, Unibroue, etc.) were absent here. And that's okay. A good percentage of the 65 beers available seemed unique to Locals Only, at least as far as I've seen.

It was just us guys tonight. The ladies dumped us. I'm having flashbacks to high school. Everybody warmed up differently. I arrived late, so I only had one warm up beer before we headed into the featured presentation. Locals Only had some Mishawaka Brewing Company beers listed on their chalkboard, so I opted for the Seven Mules Kick-Ass Ale.

After pouring through the beer menu, we opted for the Stone Ruination IPA, a 22 ounce American Double IPA that goes for $10. The big, green bottle had a large gargoyle on the front and a very, very long description on the back. It was named Ruination "because of the immediate ruinous effect on your palate." This should be fun!

We poured our beers into snifters and I could immediately smell the abundance of hops. Not quite the punch in the nose that some other hops-centric beers provide, but very pleasant indeed. It poured with a white, foamy head and finished with a golden-red color and a cloudy consistency. It's not surprising that with a 7.7% ABV, the beer leaves a dry feeling in your mouth. There is a tartness to it and some bite, probably from both the large amount of hops and the alcohol. The flavor combination is hard to describe. There is some sweetness to it as well as an earthy component. Somewhere, I saw someone describe a beer as having a pine flavor, and I think you could use that to describe this beer. Having been on a hops and IPA kick recently, I thoroughly enjoyed this beer and would be happy to come back to it. I'm giving it a 4 mug rating.

After we finished the IPA, David treated us to a bottle of Hoogstraten Poorter from Brouwerij Sterkens. I say a bottle because it's easily big enough to be shared, coming in a 750mL ceramic bottle with a flip top. That's the size of a fifth of your favorite liquor. Big bottle. And it costs $21.50 at Locals Only.

Initially, we believed it to be of German decent but were surprised to learn that it was actually Belgian. Flipping open the bottle, we were immediately hit with fruit smells. I mean it's like Carmen Miranda shoved her hat up my nose. Based on the amount of fruit that my nose picked up, I wasn't looking forward to drinking this beer. I figured it would be too much fruit.

We poured the Poorter into tulip glasses. It is a dark beer with a light brown head. We took a drink. Much to our surprise, it was not as overwhelmingly fruity as we initially predicted. There was a nice maltiness to it, with just a hint of fruit, perhaps cherry or berry of sorts. But not annoyingly so. Together, the flavor components formed a simple but pleasing flavor. It reminds me a lot of La Fin du Monde or perhaps Trois Pistoles by Unibroue, though I prefer the Poorter over the Unibroues. A pleasant beer that gets better with time (and intoxication). I'm giving this beer a 3.5 mugs rating.

23 January 2007

Super Geeks!

Sorry for taking a few days off on posting. Like most everyone else in Indy, I think we're all still a little punch drunk from the game on Sunday, and in a little shock to be in the Super Bowl. I know we have some loyal readers on here who are diehard Bears fans, but this is the Hoosier Beer Geek, and we bleed Blue! Because I do like the Bears (normally), and if the Bears were in the Super Bowl any other year but this one I would be rooting for them, I will do my best to refrain from talking smack (don't think I'm worried, because I know Peyton will back up any smack I talk). I am happy that it's two great Midwestern teams representing. And I think we should all say to hell with Miami, and just meet up in South Bend and play this thing!

But anyway, on to beer. . .

The KOTBR will be meeting up on Thursday to review the much-ballyhooed beer list at Locals Only (near the corner of 56th & Keystone). Please feel free to join us after 8pm!

18 January 2007

Thanks to INtake, and welcome new readers!

Ok, so obviously the big news here at HoosierBeerGeek.com is the wonderful INtake article that came out today. This was the featured picture from our photoshoot a couple of weeks ago. Thanks to Matt Gonzales and Tom Klubens for the spot. Thanks, too, to Neal Taflinger, better known as Taffy, for letting me put my two cents into his weekly pub crawl.

If you're new to the site because of the article, we would first like to say, "Welcome." Just to give you a bit of history, I started this blog back in August (see Archives) with the intent of reviewing some beers and trying to expose people to new kinds of my favorite beverage. My good friend Jason then quickly came up with the idea for both of us to get together and bring on a rotating guest to do the reviews. With that, the Knights of the Beer Roundtable (or KOTBR, for short) was born. We held our first roundtable, then Jim joined in on the second, and has been with us ever since. Kelly became the first female perspective to the blog, then most recently, Renee. We've had some previous coverage in Indianapolis Monthly and INtake, but never to this extent. We recently turned this into a "group" blog where we can all post directly, changed the URL to simply hoosierbeergeek.com (no www.), and we're in the process of doing some redesigning. We frequent Deano's in Fountain Square and The Hop Shop on the northside, but we're also making a habit of getting out to try more Hoosier brewpubs and taverns. We go out on the 2nd & 4th Thursdays of the month. To see our upcoming reviews, please check out the column to the right. We always invite you, our readers, to join us, too, and recently, some have started to.

So, again, welcome. We hope you find the blog enjoyable, because we sure have a lot of fun putting it together. Bookmark it, and make it regular reading material. Please feel free to leave comments and ask questions. You can always email me directly at christophermaples@yahoo.com.


Drink Hoosier Brews for the Colts

OK, we had to find some way to bring our love of football into our writing about beer. So I just want to tell you about the special this week at The Hop Shop. In honor of the ass-beating that the Colts are about to lay on the Patsies, Courtney is offering the following:

10% off Mix & Match any 6 Indiana microbrew 12oz singles
take 10% off regular price (normally 5%)
Mix & Match any 12 Indiana microbrew 12 oz. singles
take 15% off regular price (normally 10%)

15 January 2007

Wee Alec isn't Heavy, he's my brother (Jason's Review)

Okay, lame title, just couldn't help myself.

Unlike the others at the beer round table, I was a Broad Ripple Brewpub virgin. What can I say, I tend to party downtown instead of uptown. But the Brewpub, along with Brugge, gives me great reason to stray north. First, the Brewpub looks exactly like a brewpub should. Several areas, dark woods, classic in design. Second, it's a non-smoking facility. Normally, I'm prepared to smell like an ash tray after an evening of drinking. But much to my surprise, I didn't. So the lovely wife didn't make me shower before I passed out in bed. Third, the Brewpub's menu caters to the vegetarian lifestyle without forgetting about us carnivores. The nachos were excellent. And finally, with the Brewpub being the oldest in the city, it has a long history with its beers and brewmaster. Spending an evening with Kevin and discussing his beers was almost as much of a treat as drinking his beers.

As the late comer that evening, I started with what everybody else was having, the ESB. And I finished the evening with the IPA. Both were very tasty and worthy of a future review. I elected to review the Wee Alec Heavy, "a full bodied ale" with a 7.7% ABV. Now I should start off by saying that when I first joined HBG, I preferred my beers like my lovely wife preferred her men: dark. But in recent weeks and months, I've been moved to the light side of the foam. That is to say I've been craving hops. And I have been enjoying hops in many different forms.

I'm not going to go into great detail with the descriptions that Chris and Jim have already laid down very well: dark brown in color, smooth in feel and taste, notes of caramel, perhaps some raisin. Unlike Chris, I think the amount of carbonation was perfect. All of the beers at the Brewpub lean towards the English side with less bubbles and not as chilled. I think that allowed the flavors to stand out.

There was something else in the beer that the others didn't pick up. Both in scent and in flavor, I caught similarities between Wee Alec and a peaty scotch. It's hard to describe other than it was earthy in nature and produced a sting in the aftertaste. It also left a hint of alcohol in the scent. Why was I picking this up? It might have been because I had some peaty scotch not to long ago (which, honestly, I'm not a fan of). Or perhaps recent desire for hops and away from malts has left my taste buds open to other, more hidden flavors. I don't know. But what I found was probably the better parts of scotch. It certainly wasn't unpleasant.

In the end, it is a very satisfying beer, best consumed during cooler temperatures. It's a good warm-me-up beer that would probably go great with Shepard's pie or beef stew or a barley soup. I give this beer a 4 mugs rating and recommend it to any who enjoys darker beers. And get it soon. My understanding is that there is only a couple more weeks left before they replace it with a barley wine.

14 January 2007

Broad Ripple Brew Pub's American Brown (Renee's Review)

Broad Ripple Brew Pub is one of those places you forget how much you like until you go. It was a warm haven on a rainy night made even better by a full meeting of round table including guest Keith. Even better, we had a long exclusive chat with Brew Master Kevin who answered all our questions about his beers, his beer list, his brewing process, how often he turns batches over on tap, and the landscape of brewing in Indiana and the midwest. Bonus? A preview before dry hopping of his upcoming barley wine!

Having missed the Hopsia which ran out earlier in the week, we took Kevin's advice and tried his English style, more lightly carbonated Cask Ales. (I was disappointed because I've now tried the infamous Hopslam a couple of times and I'm becoming a convert, although the Hopsia isn't exactly the same, but it's an excuse to go back.) But first, the warm-up.

ESB: I warmed up with Broad Ripple Brew Pub's Extra Special Bitter. I liked this beer much more than some commercial ESBs which I find too bitter and too dry. With a lovely amber color, this beer has a nice nose with some holiday spice, roasted grain, and even some mellow fruit like oranges. Don't get me wrong, this isn't a sweet beer but it's not the off-putting difficult strong, bitter than some might be used to if they're just starting out with ESB's. 4 Mugs!

Diving Duck American Brown: While the guys ahead of me started with the Wee Alec, I opted for the other cask ale (and also what Kevin was drinking, always a good sign), the American Brown. If you're put off by dark, black beers (ala Guinness), don't be anymore. This unintimidating beer is a light, lovely mellow drinking despite it's heavy coloring. Mine came to the table with a nice Guinness-like foam head and after the beer settled, I was rewarded. The nose? Caramel, dark roast, and cocoa. The taste? Lighter than expected, smooth, and not nearly as heavy as some much lighter beers. This is not a dark beer that people would label a "meal in a glass." It's not overwhelming and frankly, would be a great beer if you're just starting to venture to the dark side. I highly recommend it: 4.5 Mugs!

A few other notes: If you're just starting out with BR Brew Pub's offerings or more complex beers, Kevin recommends the BR Brew Pub's Lawnmower Ale. (It's their most popular beer in the summer.) Most people move next to the Red Bird Mild which is a beautiful amber beer with lighter hops, more malt, and less heaviness. (The Red Bird is one of my favorite beers at BR Brew Pub.) The ESB is a nice choice in winter as it's a bit heavier, more hearty, but not overwhelming. The cask ales are a perfect choice if you're exploring dark beers for the first time. We'll be back -- we still have to taste the Hopsia!

13 January 2007

Broad Ripple Brewpub's Wee Alec Heavy Ale (Jim's Review)

I'm going to try not to duplicate Chris's review of the Wee Alec Heavy Ale. In fact, I think I'll focus a little more on our review site, which was the Broad Ripple Brewpub. BRB was opened in 1990, which makes BRB the grand dame of Indiana brewpubs because it was the first one to be established in the Hoosier State. The pub has a homey, UK vibe to it. It looks and feels like a typical British public house, complete with an area for throwing darts. The only thing that's missing (at least in this soccer fan's opinion) is a little footy on the telly.

BRB's food menu offers some British pub staples, such as fish and chips, shepherd's pie, bangers and mash, and some wickedly good scotch eggs. In addition, BRB has a pretty extensive offering of pizzas, which I have never tried. Many are surprised to learn that BRB is very vegetarian friendly. The pub has at least 27 vegetarian dishes (at least by my count) on the menu.

As for the pub's beers, most of the beers offered are English style ales. BRB has a number of staple beers that are brewed on a regular basis, such as the ESB, the Lawn Mower Pale Ale, and the Monon Porter. As Chris noted, BRB offers a few cask ales in addition to its staple beers.

BRB's beers are rated highly by the locals on a fairly consistent basis, and for good reason--brewer Kevin Matalucci really knows what the heck he's doing. Our chat with Kevin about BRB's beers and about beer in general was enlightening for me, particularly since I'm not very well-versed in beer-making techniques. Before our talk with Kevin, I couldn't tell you the difference between Cascade and Columbia hops. But Kevin was kind enough to explain the basic difference between hop varieties, which he described as being similar to the difference between cooking spices. In other words, you could think of one hop variety as basil, another thyme, and yet another oregano.

So what did I drink? Like Chris, I started with the ESB Extra Special Bitter. This is probably my favorite BRB staple beer. It has a great balance of hops and malt in its flavor. It starts out with a malty smoothness and bites the back of your tongue with the hops. Then, it was on to the feature beer, which was the Wee Alec Heavy Ale. Since Chris has already described the color of the beer and its ABV, I'll focus on the nose and the taste because my perceptions of those attributes were a bit different from Chris's perceptions. For me, the nose on this ale was heavy with caramel and raisins. Consequently, I expected this beer to be on the sweet side. Surprisingly, it was not sweet. Rather, it was smooth, a bit on the dry side, and even a bit buttery. The caramel and raisin notes were in the flavor, but they were not overpowering or even prevalent. I also noted a bit of a coffee flavor, but no chocolate notes like Chris found. And because the Wee Alec is not highly carbonated, it goes down rather easily, which is a characteristic that I like to describe as "milky."

My rating: 4 mugs. The Wee Alec is a high quality ale that any beer aficionado would find extremely pleasing. And a big thanks to Kevin for having a chat with us and for making a fantastic product.

12 January 2007

Broad Ripple Brewpub's Wee Alec Heavy (Chris' Review)

Along with the other changes hoosierbeergeek.com is going through, we're also trying out a new format for posting our reviews. Instead of waiting for everyone to submit a review and compiling it into one large post, each Knight will individually post his or her review for your consumption, Dear Reader. We're also now adding labels to our posts. I honestly don't understand what that does, but Jason tells me to do it, so I do it (I bet my wife wishes I followed her commands as easily, without questioning).

The Knights of the Beer Roundtable (all 5 of us, plus extra special guest Keith "Tiny" M. of Anderson), trekked to the Broad Ripple Brewpub last evening to meet with brewmaster Kevin, and taste some of his suds. Tiny likes a variety of beers, but hadn't before delved into reviewing them. At first, he looked at us like we were kinda wierd when we stuck our noses into the beer, but by the end of the night, he had some foam on his nose, too! We're glad you joined us, Tiny!

Kevin is a very good host, and he is a damn good brewmaster. Both my warm-up (ESB, or Extra Special Bitter) and my reviewed beer (Wee Alec Heavy) were outstanding beers. Kevin even gave us a preview taste of his upcoming barleywine (w/out the dry hops), which I will definitely be going back for when it's finished. We very much appreciated Kevin taking some time out to talk with us about his products.

I paid particular attention to the Wee Alec Heavy, which had been brewed for the holidays. The Wee Alec is a cask ale, meaning that it is unfiltered & unpastuerized, and it is stored in a metal cask instead of a keg. Though Wee, Alec packs a big man's punch, coming in at a hefty 7.7% ABV.

Wee Alec is a very dark, virtually opaque beer (think Optimator - and now you can probably guess where my review is going). If you don't like dark beer - and I love it - this beer probably isn't for you.

While the nose isn't strong and overpowering, I could definitely discern hints of chocolate, coffee, and caramel. But the smells blend well together.

As with cask ales, the Wee Alec has very little carbonation. Kevin explained most of his beers are that way, and people think its an error. But as Kevin likes to point out, the brewmaster gets to make beers that the brewmaster likes, and in this case, the brewmaster doesn't like much carbonation.

This was a very smooth, medium-bodied beer. There isn't much of a bite, and I didn't think much of an aftertaste was left, either. The caramel and heavy malt flavors blend very well together, producing a well-balanced beer.

I highly recommend trying this beer before it runs out. As a seasonal that's past its season, it isn't going to last too much longer. I give it 4.5 Mugs, and only withhold the last half-mug because I, personally, like a little more carbonation in my beer. But my compliments to the brewmaster for a very fine, delicious offering!

11 January 2007

Optimator & Jared

I think I've mentioned on here before the Wednesday night beer specials at the new Scotty's Brew House on the northside. You can get mini-pitchers (approx. 3 pints) of Coors Lite & Killians for $2.50, and all other beers for $5.00. It seriously costs more to buy an individual pint than to get the special. I have class at Indiana Wesleyan every Wednesday night, so a group of friends and I go out after class, and they have the cheapest beer around, by far.

I've thought they had a decent selection - I've always been able to get Bell's Two-Hearted on tap - but never anything special. And they hadn't changed up the beer selection since they opened (early November), which is never a good sign for a place with "Brew House" in its title. But I found a special treat on the menu last night - my favorite beer in the world - Spaten's Optimator!! 3 Pints of Optimator for only $5! That, my friends, is the deal of the century.

On top of that, as we were leaving, we ran into Jared, the Subway guy (also an Indy native).


Hey, look up in your navigation bar. Notice anything different? Yeah, we have our own URL now - hoosierbeergeek.com. But don't worry, if you still have the blogspot site bookmarked, you'll automatically be directed here. Thanks to Jason for taking care of that.

08 January 2007

Regular Roundtables

As previously mentioned, we have decided to regularly schedule our Roundtable nights. We have chosen the 2nd and 4th Thursdays of every month, beginning this week. We will be meeting at the Broad Ripple Brew Pub, and we encourage any of our regular readers to join us at 9pm. It's good if you can give us a shout in advance so we have enough table space. You can reach me at christophermaples@yahoo.com if you want to join us.

You will also notice a new section off to the side here called Upcoming Events. It gives the date, time and location of our Roundtables, as well as any other events and/or activities the Hoosier Beer Geeks are officially participating in.

05 January 2007

Read All About It!!

Not sure if we're supposed to make this public (shhh!!), but the Knights of the Beer Roundtable are going to be a big part of the cover story on the Jan. 18th edition of INtake, which is about Indy-based bloggers. Be sure to pick up a copy. Jason even brought us some special "props" for the occasion, and you'll only be able to see those in the magazine.

We did a kick-ass photo shoot for the story today at Deano's (whose service appears to have recovered from their lull last week, and they are now back to their good old selves), and I'll be damned if we didn't have to drink two pints of Delirium Tremens and/or Delirium Nocturnum before we could get through the shoot. When the photographer arrived, we poured our first pint. While he was getting his equipment ready, we launched into an internal review of the beer amongst ourselves. By the time he was ready to shoot, most of our pints were gone, so we had to refill. 2 pints of Delirium Tremens/Nocturnum (8.5% ABV each) + 5 empty stomachs = 5 very happy & slightly buzzed beer geeks.

We were intending to actually do a real review of the beer, but I think we all got caught up in our new-found fame to take any notes on the beer to post. You know, it's tough being a big, famous, superstar these days, what with our regular media darling status and all :) (And speaking of media darling status, if you get the chance, check out the WTHR-13 Community Focus segment next Tuesday the 9th at 12:45pm to see me in action for my real job)

And today also marked the very first time that all 5 KOTBR were together. We had had 4 of us together on a few rare occasions, but never all 5.

Anyway, we think this is a good time to let our loyal readers know that we're going to be making some changes to the HBG site. First, Jason is working on a rockin' new banner and redesign of the site. Second, I'm going to turn this into a "group" blog, whereas all five of us can post directly to the site, without the other 4 having to send things to me. Third, (and this is mostly to accomodate our schedules) we are going to set regularly-scheduled days for Roundtable Reviews, beginning this month. Once we have those dates determined, we will post them on the site, as well. Our fourth change is to make a big push for our readers to join us on Roundtable nights - we want to meet you! Don't be intimidated because you don't think you can talk beer - we couldn't either when we began - but we have fun learning. And remember - we're beer "geeks", not beer "snobs". A fifth change is to get back to the basics of "Hoosier" Beer Geekdom. We're still gonna frequent Deano's, but we're also going to be doing quite a few reviews from local brewpubs, and rating more Indiana beers. So let us know if you like the changes - we know you're reading because we can tell from our SiteMeter log - so feel free to make some comments! We'll try to roll the changes out in the next couple of weeks, so bare with us.

03 January 2007

KOTBR Review #10 - Rogue's Dead Guy Ale

In tribute to the President Gerald Ford, Karl Stauss (brewer of PBR), and the Godfather of Soul - James Brown, all of who had passed away in the previous week, the Knights of the Beer Roundtable gathered at Deano's last Thursday to review - appropriately enough - Rogue's Dead Guy Ale.

We warmed up with a Bell's Double Cream Stout, a beer out of Michigan, in honor of the 38th POTUS. Our plan was to then follow-up with a PBR off the retro-menu, but Deano's was out (we'll get to that later). And, unfortunately, there isn't a beer brewed in NYC on the menu.

Deano's staff must have been mourning the loss of the three legends, because they were off their game. Nick, the Bartender, was gone for the night or something, so I'll blame the dirty deed on that fact. We have chosen Deano's primarily for its atmosphere, meaning a bartender that takes care of you, shoots the breeze with you, and makes the joint lively. With Nick gone, so was the atmosphere. I guess next time, we'll just call ahead to make sure our favorite bartender is working.

After leaving Deano's after only one warm-up and the reviewed beer, Jason, Jim and I headed to MacNiven's for some Manna from Heaven, more commonly known as Hopslam on tap. Very nice. Even better on tap than from the bottle (who's surprised by that?).

And on our way back to our 'hood, Jason and I got real brave. We've heard some buzz about the new beer cave at the Rural Inn Liquor Store, located on the southwest corner of the interesection of Rural & Michigan on the near-eastside. Keep in mind that one of the new cop sonor monitoring devices is located directly across the street from the Rural Inn, and we were pulling up around 12:30 AM. We were somewhat timid, but the lure of good beer close to Irvington made us brave, like good Knights are. And lo and behold, our bravery was rewarded. The owner's claim to have the best selection of micro and imported beers inside the 465 Loop is accurate. We both chose a 4 pack of Dogfish Head's 90 Minute IPA, for a mere $6.99. So let me recommend the Rural Inn, though I may also recommend going during the daylight hours.

Now on to the reviews . . .

JASON: This week, the pearly gates of heaven welcomed some incredible spirits, including President Ford, James Brown, and former Pabst brewmaster Karl Strauss. Our hope coming into the latest gathering of the knights was to theme our drinking around the memory of these fine individuals. Some PBR to start, then something from Michigan , finished with a New York brew.

Well, the plan didn’t reach full fruition. Deano’s Vino was uncharacteristically off last night, in that they were out of several beers on their menu (including PBR) and they had a pinch-hitter behind the bar that wasn’t very attentive (I only consumed two beers and not because I was the DD). While one bad visit won’t ruin Deano’s for me forever, it did make for a difficult drinking environment.

We adjusted our plans and found a beer that seemed appropriate for our desired theme: Rogue’s Dead Guy Ale. Deano’s stocked it in 12 oz. bottles. This maibock pours with a light, creamy head and has a copper color to it. It is a bit cloudy, allowing some light to come through. There wasn’t a strong aroma to DGA; it is very mellow, maybe slightly sweet. It does not put on a false façade as it tastes just like it looks: creamy, mellow, with a medium malt. There was a surprise, though. As I went along, there was a slight hoppy bite in the back of my mouth at the finish of a drink. Surprising and pleasant. The DGA left a creamy yet cleansing feel in the mouth. No strong, unpleasant aftertaste.

Rogue’s Dead Guy Ale is a great beer. You think it will be a standard red along the lines of Killian’s, and you discover that it is creamier, maltier, and more flavorful than you expect. Simplistically complex. Much like the men we were honoring that night. Much like death itself.

Shit, that’s too deep. I need another beer.

Rating: 3.5 mugs

JIM: I’m old enough to remember Chevy Chase’s clever portrayal of President Ford in the very early days of Saturday Night Live. Yes, Chevy Chase was actually funny at one point in time, and yes, I am that old. On the show, Chase would appear in no make up and effect no voice impression of the president. Rather he would simply enter the set and take an awful pratfall. In fact, legend has it that Chase became addicted to painkillers because of doing the Ford bit once too often. The purpose of Chase’s pratfalling was to poke fun at President Ford’s propensity for taking a tumble. Ford once famously fell down the steps of Air Force One while visiting Austria.

So that brings us to Deano’s for our review of Rogue’s Dead Guy Ale. As Jason mentioned, we decided to review Dead Guy in honor of . . . well, all of the famous guys who died recently. And, as Jason also mentioned, Deano’s was having an off night. The restaurant fell, so to speak. But instead of a purposeful fall, like Chevy Chase taking a dive through a break-apart desk, I think Deano’s fall was a pure accident, like President Ford’s mishaps. So I expect our next visit to go more smoothly.

To the beer – As I mentioned in my last review, I wasn’t too impressed with Rogue’s products until reviewing Santa’s Private Reserve. Dead Guy Ale boosted Rogue’s reputation further in my eyes. Dead Guy is a quality ale. Oddly, it has very little nose. This was the first time, in fact, that I was hard-pressed to describe the nose. As for the color, I can’t describe it because our bartender neglected to bring me a glass for the beer, and she was so inattentive to us that I never bothered to ask for one. The flavor, however, I can describe as very pleasant. This is a malty beer with caramel notes. It has a small amount of hoppy bite, but the bite is note prevalent. Dead Guy goes down very smoothly and isn’t filling at all.

My rating: 3.5 mugs.

CHRIS: I've long been a fan of the Dead Guy Ale, a german-style maibock. It was the first beer from Rogue that I had tried, and it kept me coming back to try others.

It has a copper/amberish color, and it gives great head. Uh, wait. I mean it's head is good. Uh. Shit, you know what I mean.

I couldn't pick out much of an aroma, but I also perpetually have problems with that. I can't fault the beer for that.

It's medium-bodied, I would say, and has a well-preserved flavor balance of malts and hops - a little more malty than hoppy, but not overly so. Again, a good balance. We've been heavy on hoppy beers lately, so it was nice to back to one with some malts. It leaves a good malty after-taste, but nothing overpowering.

It's not my favorite beer in the world, but it is a good beer. I go along with the 3.5 Mugs.

Renee - I didn’t note my warm up beer except that it was a delicious, heavy Belgian ale pretty much the only thing they had on the list. However, my real surprise was when it was my turn for the Rogue’s, they were out! As any gracious knight would do, Jason offered me a taste of his. Since then, feeling a need to actually, you know, drink the beer before I rate it, I’ve since had the Rogue’s and like it! This dark amber brew gave a smooth, mellow nose over a creamy head. The taste? Smooth, nutty, not sweet but not overly hoppy either. Nice work for a Dead Guy! Hail James Brown! Hail Gerald Ford! 3 mugs