28 March 2007

I'll take a Coors Lite, please!

I got the chance to hang out with an old friend last night, who you all know as Traci on The Good Beer Show, who has been in town all week for a conference. We had planned to do a special guest review - a little cross-collaboration between new beer media. Unfortunately, I woke-up yesterday morning so congested that I could barely breathe. I went through an entire box of Puffs yesterday. So I needed a beer, yet I couldn't taste it. I told Traci that I may as well have ordered Coors Lite because I couldn't taste it anyway, but I was afraid someone would come in and see me.

We started the evening off at Deano's (where, apparently, the rest of the Knights of the Beer Roundtable are meeting tomorrow evening to review the season's first batch of Oberon without me, following the tapping of the keg party tonight), but Nick wasn't there, and the place was pretty dead. So we each finished off a Two-Hearted, and hit the road to MacNiven's. Traci was immediately impressed with MacNiven's when she found out that Dreadnaught, her Precious, was on tap. By the time I finished my Dreadnaught, I was finally feeling a little more lively, and plunged into a Dogfish 60. So in all, I had 3 very hoppy beers, each with a decidely distinct aftertaste, and couldn't taste one damn drop of it!

27 March 2007

Next roundtable

Where: Deano's Vino

When: Thursday, March 29, 8:00 p.m.

A little birdy told me that Bell's Oberon will be on tap.

Be there or be square, kids!

21 March 2007

Make room in the fridge for...

Those of you who visit the liquor store on a fairly frequent basis may have noticed that Brooklyn Brewery beers are now available around these parts. On my last trip to the Hop Shop, I noticed a few six packs of BB product sitting on the shelves. I started to swoon with joy as I recalled memories of sitting in Manhattan last summer nursing a few Brooklyn Lagers at an Upper West Side watering hole. The Lager, which is BB's flagship beer, is a hearty American amber that would serve as a good gateway beer to other microbrews for those new to the whole craft beer thing.

BB offers five other core beers, though I've seen only the Brooklyn Brown and the East India Pale Ale available here in Indianapolis (I've had both brands, which are excellent). In addition, BB offers several seasonal beers. Almost out of season is the Black Chocolate Stout, which BB releases every winter. This is a rich imperial stout, which at 10.1% ABV is made only for sipping. There's also the Monster Barleywine Ale, which is distributed on a very limited basis. I haven't seen it anywhere in town except for the Wild Oats store on 86th Street, so if you know of any other locations, please chime in.

BB's offerings are fantastic stuff, so if you get a chance, check out their wares. I'm sure that we'll be reviewing a BB product at a roundtable in the near future. And, bonus--their beers are certified kosher! So, if you've had the missus on your back because you keep eating cheeseburgers, at least you can tell her that the new six pack in the fridge is okay to consume.

Speaking of kosher beers, one of my favorite brewers, Shmaltz Brewing Company (home of the outstanding He'brew brand), has just released a new beer that replicates the original He'brew imperial amber ale that Shmaltz founder Jeremy Cowan began with in 1996. The unique ingredient in this beer, called Origin, is pomegranate juice. Studies have shown that pomegranate juice is wicked good for your health, so if you ever wanted an excuse to drink beer for its health benefits, this is the one, folks.

In Indianapolis, you can find Shmaltz brands at a bunch of places, including Kahn's, the Hop Shop, and MacNiven's.

20 March 2007

Upland's Ard Ri - the High King of Hops

I was lucky enough to be able to have to take a road trip to Bloomington for some meetings on this beautiful day instead of being stuck in the office. And since I was in Bloomington during lunch, I thought I would mosey on over to Upland Brewing Company to see what they had on tap. I remembered that we hadn’t yet reviewed a beer from Upland, so I wanted to fit in a review.

After asking for a recommendation, Frank, the Bartender (who is a retired IU Prof) suggested their Ard Ri (pronounced aard ree), which their spring seasonal Imperial Red Ale that they only started making last year. In case you’re wondering, Ard Ri is the Irish word for High King. The High Kings were the pagen kings that ruled Ireland off and on from BC until the 10th Century.

The Ard Ri is a very powerful beer. It has an ABV of 9%, but it goes down pretty easily, so a beer geek, should he not be careful, could wind up drunk off his ass in two or three beers. Upland only serves the Ard Ri in a snifter because of the high alcohol content.

Naturally, it has a very dark, probably opaque, amber color. But the nose on this sucker is strong. First and foremost, I smelled hops – lots of hops. Now, I don’t know enough about beer to tell the difference between hops from the nose, but the menu says it’s made of Amarillo hops. So that also explains the citrus hints I was picking up. I think I found a hint of caramel, too. I know that sounds weird, but the bouquet was very pleasant.

My first taste echoed back to my first sip of Hopslam. I have to say that the punch from the hops in the Ard Ri is pretty much the same as that from Hopslam. And what I found off-putting about Hopslam – the peachy nose – wasn’t present in the Ard Ri. I think if Upland would put this beer is mass distribution, it would be as successful as, if not more successful, than Hopslam was. I guess what I’m trying to say is that if you liked Hopslam, you’ll really love the Ard Ri.

I think this is a highly-carbonated beer. The first drink buzzsawed my tongue, but surprisingly, didn’t leave a strong or bitter aftertaste. It also had a very thick mouthfeel, almost chewy. In that regard, it was much more like a porter or stout, which is a positive in my book.

Now back when I reviewed the Hopslam, I said that 4 Mugs may be the highest rating I could ever give to a very hoppy beer. Ladies and gentleman, The Knight of Porter and All Beers Dark and Malty hereby bestows a 5 Mug rating to the Ard Ri – My High King of Hoppy Beer!! This was really a fantastic beer, and a great accompaniment to the first day of Spring.

Once I explained why I had my nose in my beer, Frank brought over Mr. Penn Jensen, who is the VP of Marketing for Upland. Mr. Jensen is a very hospitable man, and shared a lot with me about his beer. He told me that they are seeing a lot of positive buzz about the Ard Ri from the locals, and they’re considering making a big push behind it to get a wider distribution. Currently, they’re not bottling it – only in the keg. The bad news is, Indy kids, is that no one in Indy has it on tap. For now, you’ll either have to travel to Bloomington or to Muncie, where The Heorot, The Fickle Peach, and Scotty’s all have it on tap. So I beg you, Mr. Jensen, make the push! Get this beer in Indy and get it in bottles!

As for Upland itself, the folks are very friendly and knowledgeable about good beer. Frank provided me with samples of all the beers they’re currently offering up. I think he was trying to get me drunk! Good Bartender!! Next time you’re down in Bloomington, I highly recommend stopping by a having a brew in their Tap Room.

What Peyton Manning's Move to Denver Means for Better Beer in Indiana


19 March 2007

Last Word on the QuadRipple, by Kelly

It’s no coincidence that I’m bringing up the rear of the Beer Geek reviews this week, considering I’ve felt about ten steps behind the waking world for days now. That’s what a bout of the good ol’ stomach flu will do to you. By the time last night rolled around, I was more than ready for a drink—and what a drink it was!

Our group joined the already full bar area a little late, so we opted for a nearby table instead. I will echo the sentiment about being disappointed about only two beers on tap, but the QuadRipple proved itself to be a worthy adversary. Granted, my nose might not have been in the greatest condition (especially after being within sniffing range of the hot curry mussels being devoured next to me) but I could not get the smell or taste of bubblegum out of my palate for the first few sips. After that, my taste buds quieted down (with no help from the snappy carbonation—at times it felt like I was drinking sparkling wine!) and I was able to enjoy the beer without getting that cloying, oversweet feel I get from most fruity Belgians.

As remarked upon by others, the ABV was pretty merciless. Thankfully, I got to sop up the impending loopiness with a large cone of frites, which TOTALLY beat the white bread and bananas I had been eating all week. Even though I didn’t get to directly commiserate with the other Hoosier Beer Geeks last night, I give the QuadRipple 3.5 mugs. I’d definitely order it again, especially when my taste buds are at full capacity.

16 March 2007

Review by proxy - Brugge Brasserie's Quadripple

This is the first time that I think I'm late to the game in posting a review. But, being the last makes my job easy because everyone has basically said everything there is to be said. In addition, I have the benefit of having just received a review written by Mike, who, along with Gina, joined us once again. So, in lieu of a long-winded piece of prosaic art written by yours truly, here is Mike's first review ever for Hoosier Beer Geek (by the way, Quadripple gets 4 mugs from me):

Somewhere between the sort of reviews that the other folks write and "Man, I was so trashed last night" lies a sweet spot, where those of us who don't know hops from barley live. I'm going to attempt to write from that place, because I've really got no business writing about beer anyway.

Last night's feature beer was Brugge Brasserie's Quadripple. Can I remember what it taste like? Fruit, I think. Can I remember what it felt like? Well, sorta.

You see, I'm the type of person who needs a couple beers to loosen up enough to hold a conversation. While I realize that it's completely ridiculous, it seems to work. One of the great things about Brugge's beers (aside from being quite tasty) is that it only takes one to loosen me up. After my warm-up beer (The Black), I was ready to go; conversation flowed freely, my girlfriend smiled, and everything I said was funny and clever.

I don't remember any details of what I said, but the memories... well, they're some of the best I've ever had.

But maybe that's got something to do with the Quadripple. At 12% alcohol by volume, it does a fine job of making everything a little better. Even though it had a high alcohol content, the taste wasn't overpowering. I never would have known the beer was so strong had Jim not asked - though I did overhear Shannon (a Brugge waitress) mention that she could see Quadripple's work on the faces of patrons.

At the end of the night I had had plenty of good conversation, a lingering but pleasant taste in my mouth, and a nice mellow feeling. And I made it to work today without any problems. I think that's all you can ask of a beer. I'd give it 4 mugs.

The Quad @ Brugge

We had a nice turnout last night for Hoosier Beer Geeks at Brugge. Even though the bar was a little tight and it was hard to all talk together, it was nice to see all the old faces and some new ones! Plus, I'm such a sucker for a big, huge cone of the Brugge frites. On to the beer:

My taste buds were already up and running as I came over from the Twisted Oak tasting at The Upper Room. Christopher and Jim were already well into their warm ups. Disappointingly, there were only two beers on top -- The Black and The Quad. (What's up with that? That always makes me worried a place is failing. Based on the number of people in Brugge last night, it makes me think otherwise that it's just poor planning. Who knows. Maybe Ted has a secret beer strategy.) I ordered the Quad.

Let me begin by saying I'm a biased judge since I love Belgians -- beer that is. (I'm sure I'd love all Belgians if I knew more of them, but we're just sticking to beer here.) I love everything from light ales to the stinkiest, smelliest lambics. (When it comes to lambics, the smellier, the better.) And I think Ted Miller does a fine job with his Belgian-style brews. I can almost say I've never had a beer of his I didn't like -- although I've certainly had a few that were so rich, that you almost couldn't drink a whole glass of it. In the case of the Quad, that richness is there, but not so heavy that you can't make it through the glass. Like many Belgian style beers, it has a deceptively high alcohol content (13.5%) and while it has a fruit start and base, it doesn't finish with that heavy, rich, fruit taste. While Belgians don't tend to be overly hoppy or dry, many also don't have a cloyingly sweet aftertaste which makes them more drinkable long term than, say, your average hefeweisen. The Quad itself is a rich amber color without the hard, overly dry finish. Lots of grain and sweetness in the nose, gives way to a refreshing finish without a lot of heaviness. Pop in and check it out -- it's perfect for this time of year. And goes really well with fries. Four mugs for me!

15 March 2007

Oberon is coming (just not soon enough)

Ah, I know you all felt summer in the air this week. On Tuesday, it was so nice that Jason hosted a cook-out. And definitely in the mood for summer, I called Courtney to see if he had any Oberon in yet. Unfortunately, The Taste of Summer won't ship until March 25. So if this wonderful warm weather has you smacking your lips, you have to wait a couple more weeks.

4 Geeks on Quad Ripple

Four out of five Hoosier Beer Geeks (only Jason was absent) descended on Brugge in Broad Ripple tonight for the latest KOTBR. We realize that we've been spotty at best in reviewing and posting lately, and we apologize for that. We're trying to get a regular schedule going again.

Ted only had two beers on tap tonight - the saintly The Black and the QuadRipple. Since we reviewed The Black previously, we opted for the QuadRipple tonight.

As a lighter beer (I would have guessed a wheat beer at first glance), I was hesitant to try to QR at first. I opted to warm-up with The Black - one of only two beers I believe I have given 5 mugs to. Definitely in need of good beer tonight after a long week at work, The Black delivered on great taste.

But the QR definitely was a good beer, too. I couldn't pick out a nose (again, an ongoing problem of mine), but the first thing to hit me was the taste. It was very fruity, though not a fruit I first recognized. Jim compared it to our reviews of the Unibroue products, and the plum flavor the Trois Pistoles offered. I had to agree. The taste was of plum, though not overwhelming.

This was a heavily carbonated beer. Very sharp on the tongue, but easy enough to swallow. In fact, it may have been too easy to swallow. Into my second QR, I decided to inquire as to the ABV of the QR. Get this - 12%! 12%! That's the highest ABV rated beer we have reviewed here on HBG! And because of this high rating, you will be limited to only two servings. BE CAREFUL WITH THIS ONE!!

A really good beer. I have to give it 4 Mugs.

12 March 2007

We're not dead . . . just drunk

Actually, just kidding.

Since our Roundtable calendar is out of date, I thought I'd chime in to let you know that we'll be convening this Thursday evening, March 15, at Brugge Brasserie. As usual, start time is 8:00 p.m. It's likely to be a crowded affair, as we're likely to be joined by some local food and wine bloggers, so get there early to get a seat!

01 March 2007

Snake Bit by the Snake Pit

See, this is the problem with being the last geek to post your review - everyone else has already said everything that needs to be said. But because it's been eons since I last posted anything meaningful on here, I'm going to move ahead anyway.

As previously noted by Jim & Jason, we hit the Oaken Barrel last week to review the Snake Pit Porter. Obviously, it's a porter, I liked it. Not the best porter ever, but still a very solid dark beer.

As everyone has mentioned, this is a very smokey beer. My first thought on the nose was that it smelled like smoked gouda cheese, which, coincidentally, is my favorite cheese. It's nose also lead me to compare it to Schlenkerla Rauchbier from Germany. If you want to make the comparison, too, you can find the Schlenkerla Rauchbier in bottles at The Rathskeller, and I think The Hop Shop carries it, too.

Obviously, the beer is dark - you can't see through it. But the mouthfeel was what got me. I would have to say it was medium-bodied, yet very chewy.

The aftertaste was a bit smokey, but also didn't linger too long.

I give it 3.5 mugs.