30 July 2007

Windmill-Powered Beer | New Belgium Roundtable @ Mike & Gina's

While our review of New Belgium Brewery beers didn't have us jumping out of our chairs in amazement over the ales that we tried, I would be remiss if I didn't give New Belgium a lot of credit for its business practices. The company is completely employee-owned. What's more, New Belgium places a heavy emphasis on being environmentally-friendly in all that it does. Quite a business model that is.

Still, we sampled some decent beers at this roundtable. On with the review...

1554. I agree with Mike and Gina that this was the best New Belgium beer we sampled. I found that this black ale really agreed with me, with its dry, slightly chocolaty flavor. For a darker beer, it has an amazingly light mouthfeel. Very, very drinkable. Not quite as good as Brugge Brasserie's The Black, but a completely reasonable substitute. 3.75 mugs.

Fat Tire.
Better than it tasted in our initial review (in which it was universally panned), but still not an outstanding beer. The nutty notes in Fat Tire's flavor are unique, but just are not my thing. Nonetheless, I'm willing to cut Fat Tire a little slack due to its devoted following west of the Mississippi. 2.5 mugs.

This mahogany-colored dubbel is best described as a banana explosion. The nose, the taste--all banana, banana, and more banana. I like bananas, but you know the old saying about too much of a good thing. 2.5 mugs.

A blond-hued trippel with apple and plum notes in the nose. Crisp, hoppy, with a medium mouthfeel. The highest octaine of the beers that we tasted at 7.8% ABV. A fine sipping ale. 3.5 mugs.

I join my colleagues in thanking Jason Burk for joining us. He provided a great perspective to the review and contributed to our ever-expanding beer knowledge.

29 July 2007

New Belgium

Thanks to all who joined us for the New Belgium tasting. I hope you all had a good time. Special thanks to Jason B. for joining us and providing interesting insight to brewing and New Belgium.

Wholly, I think New Belgium Brewery has a good line of beers. I think those newly interested in drinking better beers should seek out this brewery. The flavors were distinguishable but not overpowering and I think they would serve as a great primer to something more complex.

Individually, I felt that the 1554 was the best of the four we tried and I'll give it 3.5 mugs. The mouth feel was much lighter than I expected, but the taste was good.

I felt that both the Trippel and The Abbey were worthy of 3 mugs. The Abbey smelled like banana nail polish remover and was better when it was warmer than the suggested temperature. The Trippel had a smell more reminiscent of Delirium Tremens and a much, much lighter body.

Finally, I thought the Fat Tire deserved 2 mugs. Drinking it now, I think the nose is barely there and the beer has little taste. But, I remember the first time I tried it (when my palette was conditioned with Big Brother beer) and thought it was very strong. I understand the popularity of Fat Tire and commend New Belgium for offering it.

Thanks also to Knight Jim and Knight Chris for providing the warm-up and cool-down beers.

As a side note...I'd also like to say that if I was picking beer on label alone, New Belgium would be tops. Their artwork is beautiful.

27 July 2007

I think I prefer Old Indiana

For Roundtable 23, Knights Jim and Chris, along with Jason B., met Gina and myself at our house for a sampling of beers from New Belgium Brewery of Fort Collins, Colorado.

New Belgium is probably most famous for their Fat Tire Amber Ale - a beer not available in Indiana, yet still widely known by Hoosier drinkers. Gina and I had picked up the New Belgium beer on a recent trip to St. Louis, and then carefully (and under constant icey-cold temperature) transported them back to Indianapolis.

The beers for review were Fat Tire, 1554, Abbey, and Tripple. My personal goal for this meeting was to see if Fat Tire was deserving of its reputation, and to find out if New Belgium is doing better in its lesser known beer.

After warm ups from Brooklyn Brewery and Dogfish Head, we started with New Belgium's 1554 Enlightened Black Ale. It had a tiny malt nose, a dark reddish tea-like appearance, and very light lacing. A taste featured light chocolate notes, and at 5.6 ABV, the alcohol wasn't overwhelming. The overriding characteristic of this beer was its smoothness. It's an extremely drinkable beer - a good beer, but just good. 1554 gets a score of 3.5 mugs.

Back in June we visited Fat Tire by way of blind taste test, but felt that the beer may have been a bad batch. Although I didn't post a review on HBG then, I did post my thoughts on my personal blog - "diaper nose, can't believe they're selling this to people".

I'm happy to say that my feelings on Fat Tire are not as strong now - but they remain negative. Fat Tire has an orangey-apple juice appearance, medium lacing, and a weak sulfury malt nose. The taste reflects those same characteristics, thought it's not as bad as I remembered. It's not an offensive taste, but certainly nothing special. Just sort of blah. I'd give Fat Tire 1.5 mugs.

Next up was the Abbey Belgian Style Ale. It featured a fantastic Delirium Tremens like nose, but instead of Tremens apple taste, Abbey has a strong banana presence. This beer has a coke-colored appearance with slight lacing, and a banana and bubblegum taste, with strong alcohol notes - at 7.0 ABV, perhaps that shouldn't be a surprise. It's a very true to the Belgian style beers I've had previously, and gets better as it warms. But in the end, I've had much better beers in this style. I'd give the Abbey 3 mugs.

Our last choice from New Belgium was the Tripple Belgian Style Ale. It was not unlike the Abbey in having a fruity nose, though not nearly as strong. I picked up a slight malt note and a hint of apple that came through on the front once in my mouth. It was a very light with strong alcohol notes on the back, and a slight sourness. I'd give the Tripple a 3 mug rating as well.

All in all, I can't say that any of the New Belgium samples we had were bad beers - though Fat Tire barely crosses the line from undrinkable. These beers serve as fine samples of their respective styles, but none of them are really outstanding - and certainly not worthy of the hype. There's no reason to worry that you can't find these beers locally - you can find better choices in the products available in Indiana.

Hoosier Beer Geek at Big Car - Details

Hoosier Beer Geek, in association with World Class Beverages, will be hosting a free beer tasting at the August 3rd First Friday event at Big Car in Fountain Square.

The First Friday event, featuring artworks from Visionaries & Voices, the Cincinnati, Ohio studio for artists with disabilities, runs from 6pm to Midnight. The beer tasting, featuring beers from Barley Island, Bell's Brewery, Lindemans, BBC, and Ommegang, will run from 7pm to 9pm.

We at Hoosier Beer Geek are extremely excited for the opportunity to work with Big Car and World Class Beverages, and hope to see you there.

From Mike DeWeese's Basement: Vintage Beer Fridays

From Mike DeWeese at BadaBoomz:

First Up:
Here are the beers I just pulled out of my basement for tonight's vintage beer tasting at Badaboomz Downtown: Gale's Conquest Ale 2000 9% abv, Rogue I2PA 2002 9.6% abv and Anheuser Busch 2005 Brewmaster's Reserve 8.5% abv. Don't snicker, I've heard it's awesome. Remember, you have to be good at brewing to make a beer as delicate as Bud taste the same all over the world. The beers will be available at your leisure starting at 5 until they are gone. Cheers, Mike

25 July 2007

Hoosier Beer Geek First Anniversary Roundtable

Just like the flier says, you are invited. And we really hope to see everyone that's ever read the blog. So don't be shy - after one Dogfish 90 minute you'll be fine, and perhaps even more sociable than you've ever been before. Or at least I will.

At the meetups we just drink and talk about beer or football or soccer or anything else that comes up. It's not a very formal thing. It's like if you showed up at a bar and we were there drinking, except we'll go out of our way to introduce ourselves.

In this case we'll probably have a drawing for some t-shirts and stuff as well... we play it by ear.

We're pretty sure this is the only place in town you can get 90 minute on tap - that was by design.

Admission is free (food/drink are not included).

Hoosier Beer Geek at Big Car

Things are moving fast and details are still a bit sketchy, but we can safely announce that Hoosier Beer Geek and World Class Beverages will be making an appearance at the August 3rd edition of First Friday for Outsiders Unite! at Big Car in Fountain Square.

What brought this on? Our interview with Jim Walker of INtake/Big Car:
I'm working on making a really big and fun event out of our First Friday art opening on aug. 3 at Big Car in Fountain Square and thought it would be cool to make it a beer opening where people can learn about better beers and your group. I've just been so into beer since working on the story and hanging out with you guys that I want to spread the word to others.
Jim's beer-related excitement is exactly the sort of attitude we're trying to foster at Hoosier Beer Geek - and we couldn't be more thrilled about the event at Big Car.

More details about the event will be forthcoming next week. We hope to see you there.

2007 Indiana Microbrewers Festival | Film at 11

Video from the Indiana Microbrewers Festival, courtesy of Jeffrey T. of the Good Beer Show. We make a few appearances in the video. Jason needs to get a Screen Actors Guild card.

Warning: Probably not safe for work.

23 July 2007

New Knight, New Site

As you can tell from the Summary post on the Microbrewer's Festival, we have added our sixth Knight - Gina. Hell, she's been a groupie for so long that we knew she wanted to be like us, so she got us all liquored up on Saturday and started begging and pleading to be one of the Cool Kids, and in our inebriated state, we voted her in unanimously. But it is us who get the last laugh - as a new hazing ritual we instituted on the spot, Gina has to write the summary post for the next four Roundtables. Welcome, officially, Gina, to Knighthood!

And if you love our MySpace site, you'll think our new HBG Facebook site is kinda lame, but you'll read it anyway.

KOTBR Unofficial Meeting: Indiana Microbrewers Festival

For this unofficial meeting, we enjoyed a beautiful day at the 12th Annual Indiana Microbrewers Festival - Opti Park, Broad Ripple. No specific beer was decided upon for official review, we instead decided to pick our favorites.

Jim "saw a few football-beer drinkers in need of some beer education" and picked his five favorites including:
  • Diamond Kings of Heaven - Brugge Brasserie
Mike couldn't decide whether he liked beer or not and made observations like:
  • I very rarely use the word "boobies".
Chris, amused by midgets and t-shirts, picked some favorite brews like:
  • "Angry Melon" from Brugge
Jason gave the Rachel Ray "Yum-o" seal of approval on the Bell's Bourbon Barrel Double Cream Stout/Expedition Stout Blend and also enjoyed beers like:
  • Founders Space Mountain Brown Ale
Kelly finished the beer geek reviews with a plethora of lists (and pictures) including:
  • Top three ironic and otherwise amusing t-shirts spotted at the Festival (besides ours!)
We would especially like to thank:

The Good Beer Show, Indiana Beer, the Brewers of Indiana Guild, Intake, Nuvo, Great Lakes Brewing News, the numerous general beer fans we met from the Foam Blowers of Indiana, Bob Ostrander, and of course, all of you for reading the blog.

Let us know if you received a business card and what beers you liked the best.

Indiana Microbrewers Festival or Hoosier Beer Geek coming out party?

We are officially geeks. Only geeks would have t-shirts and business cards made to advertise their beer blog. Our goal was to gain some attention for ourselves. And it worked. Everywhere we went, people were reading our tee's. And whenever we noticed somebody taking notice, we gave them a business card with our web address and blog description. So to any new readers who found their way here because of our t-shirts and business cards, thanks for stopping by and checking us out. And thanks for not making fun of us for being such geeks...or at least waiting until we had our backs turned.

Despite this being the twelfth go around for the Indiana Microbrewers' Festival, this was the first go around for me. And I can say with absolutely no doubt in my mind that this festival is perfect for beer drinkers of all sorts. Whether you are a Hop Head, a Malt Man, or a Better Beer Newbie, this is a great place to be.

For example, I bumped into friend and co-worker Megan, who is easily classified as a Better Beer Newbie. She doesn't like dark beers at all. But she did find that Sea Dog's Blue Paw Wild Blueberry Wheat was exactly to her likening and is now her new favorite beer. Certainly, this violates the Man Law of "No Fruit In Beer", but there is no room for chauvinism in better beer. And we should all be happy for Megan, who would rather drink the Sea Dog brew than a Zima, wine cooler, or Miller Lite. One small sip for Megan, one giant leap for Megan's taste palette.

With easily over 50 brands represented (including the multiples from World Class, Zink, and the like), a Better Beer Newbie has an opportunity at beer festival like these to try multiple brands and styles. And if they are lucky, they'll find a new beer as their favorite beer.

And it is possible for a "geek" to find a new favorite as well. For the past 8 months (ever since my first taste of Hopslam), I have been heavy on the hops. Couldn't get enough of it. But over the past couple of weeks, I've been sliding back into the maltier, darker beers. It probably has a lot to do with my desire to have football season start, which leads to cooler temperatures and warmer beers.

While Mike can't stand Bourbon aged beers, they are my cup of tea. Or mug of beer. Or something. Last week, we reviewed Founder's Kentucky Breakfast Stout, and I said, "I'm reluctant to give this beer a 5 mug rating simply because I have not tried every single beer in the world and there is a chance that there is a better beer out there. But I'm going to do that anyway, because I could not imagine a better beer."

One week later, I found one. Bell's Bourbon Barrel Double Cream Stout/Expedition Stout Blend. Talk about an orgasmic yum. In the words of the ever annoying Rachel Ray: "Yum-o". The caramelly sweetness of this nectar of the gods...I just couldn't say enough about it.

Of course, this is from a 2 ounce sample. Maybe after a full beer, I'd grow tired of it. But at this moment, I can say that I lust after this beer. What is a shame is that I won't likely taste this particular beer again for a long time. It's not on Bell's regular rotation of beers. I'd probably only find it at other festivals like this and, perhaps, at their pub. So I'll be dreaming of that delicious moment for a while.

There were many other new-to-me beers that I enjoyed as well, including New Albaniam's Hoptimus, Schmaltz He'Brew's Lennys RIPA, Founders Space Mountain Brown Ale, and Three Floyd's Dark Lord Russian Stout.

And along with the good beers came the good people. The brewers, bar, restaurant, and liquor store owners, and distributors. The media types from Intake, Nuvo, Good Beer Show, Indianabeer.com, Great Lakes Brewing News. And the numerous general beer fans we met from the Foam Blowers of Indiana to the occasional reader that we ran into. We had a great time and we look forward to seeing you all again next year.

Microbrew Fest In Review

Other than all the beer a geek could drink, my favorite part of the day was all the fun t-shirts (besides ours, which was hands-down the coolest and most spoken about). Actually, my very favorite part of the day was when we were in line for a pour from World Class Beverages. In the adjacent line was a guy with a t-shirt making a derogatory statement about midgets (I don't remember exactly what it said because I had a lot to drink prior to then and after then). And as luck would have it, the only midget I saw at the festival (unless I happened to overlook anymore - ok, bad joke - I apologize) stepped up in line behind him. I looked at his shirt, then I looked at the midget, then I looked back at this shirt, I tapped him on the shoulder and nodded my head back, then he looked, and I guffawed. The look on his face was priceless. After his friends saw what was going on, and burst out laughing themselves, he just put his arm over his shirt, turned, and walked out of the tent. Priceless. You just can't be too careful about what group you're making fun of on you're tshirt at a beer festival - they just might show up right behind you! Remind me never to wear t-shirts with insulting comments about liberal buxom brunnettes who offer you free chicken wings and free beer, because my wife might show up behind me in line!!

I'm going to give you my top three favorite beers of the festival (a chore in and of itself because I have to narrow about 60 beers down to three), but first, I'm going to give you my top three favorite t-shirts:

3. A George W. Bush head with devil horns
2. The shirt Jim mentioned that said "I'm Fat. F*ck Off." (but it left the "u" in)
3. The derogatory Midget shirt.

My three favorite beers:

3. "Angry Mellon" from Brugge - I think Jim gives you the real name, but it was tough enough for me to remember the top secret code name.

2. "Hoptimus" by New Albanian - I rated this #1 at Brew-Ha-Ha, and if not for Nick Floyds 4pm tapping special, it would have been #1 again. This is just a damn fine beer. I was even going to buy a t-shirt (but for some reason unbeknownst to me, breweries don't make t-shirts that accomodate beer bellies!).

1. "Dark Lord" from Three Floyds - First, thanks to part-owner Mike DeWeese for your part in our ability to quickly sample Dark Lord. Very appropriate to try this dastardly offering on the day of that the last stand of the dark Lord Voldemort hits bookshelves. If this is what evil tastes like, screw The Force - sign me up Lord Vader!

To top it all off, the weather was perfect, and the mood was right. It's normally miserably hot for this event, but the beer gods were happy on Saturday and rewarded us with the perfect beer drinking climate.

Finally, thanks to Bob Ostrander for taking care of fellow beer bloggers!

22 July 2007

2007 Indiana Microbrewers Festival | Mike's Notes

I hate beer. Ok, that's not true - I really like beer. But if twelve months pass until my next tasting of a cask aged brew, I won't be upset.

I don't have many notes from the Microbrewers Festival, but there are a few things that stuck with me:

1) It seems like everyone's making a bourbon cask aged stout. I feel like I've sampled all of them. And I don't seem to like any of them.

I suspect that the other knights are all going to give rave reviews to those stouts we sampled. We were fortunate enough to have friends at the festival that allowed us to skip the lines (Mike Deweese of the highly recommended Badaboomz, Courtney of the Beer Geek favorite Hop Shop) to sample a few - and I'm sorry to say their efforts were wasted on me. Bad beer geek, I guess. Even Three Floyd's Dark Lord, which people take field trips to buy, didn't do it for me. If I had to describe the Dark Lord, I'd say it was almost "gamey", and reminded me of camping.

2) I very rarely use the word "boobies".

You might be surprised that the very same ladies who were selling and apparently also showing (their word) "boobies" in BeerJuggs : The Instructional Video recommended that I skip the restroom line and join some of the other male festival attendants in urinating in a random spot behind the outhouses. I told them of my concerns about where to walk; they reminded me that I don't drink with my feet. Nevertheless, I passed on the opportunity to skip the line.

3) Ted at Brugge Beer (and Brugge Brasserie) remains my favorite brewer.

I was knighted quite a while after the geeks made their first visit to Brugge Brasserie to review The Black; It remains my favorite beer and one of the few I'd give a five mug rating. Ted has once again done fantastic work with his (CODEWORD: Angry Melon) Diamond Kings of Heaven. It was easily my favorite beer of the day.

I'm sure my opinion was a bit biased - I skipped Friday
night's Brugge party
because the beer was too affordable - I was afraid I wouldn't be able to control myself.

4) Beer people = Good people

I'd like to join Jim in thanking Bob Ostrander of Indiana Beer for getting us in to the festival early and I'd also like to thank all of the brewers for encouraging reaction to what we do at Hoosier Beer Geek. The Brewers of Indiana Guild have done a great job with the Festival, and I think we all look forward to next year.

2007 Indiana Microbrewers Festival | Jim's Top 5

Beautiful weather, four tents full of brewers, over 3,000 thirsty souls--these ingredients comprised the 2007 Indiana Microbrewers Festival. The Knights of the Beer Roundtable, in full beer geek regalia with our newly-minted black t-shirts, spent a little over four hours sampling the best from Indiana's microbreweries and from select national breweries. During the festivities, we saw interesting attire (e.g., a guy with a t-shirt reading, "I'm fat. F*ck off."). We saw the token 10 or 11 American soccer fans, who for some reason can always be counted on to be beer geeks as well (I tallied two David Beckham jerseys, a Bayern Munich jersey, a Real Madrid jersey, a Celtic FC jersey, and two U.S. National Team jerseys). We saw a few football-beer drinkers in need of some beer education (said one woman after tasting Three Floyds' Dark Lord Russian Imperial Stout: "Ew! That's gross!"). We picked up some very cool stuff (for me, a New Albanian t-shirt). We hung out with the crazy folks from the Good Beer Show. And, we tasted lots and lots of beer.

After clearing my foggy brain cells with a few diet Cokes, I came up with the following as my five favorites of the festival. Here they are in reverse order.

5. Diamond Kings of Heaven - Brugge Brasserie. This new offering from the Belgian brewpub is a Saison. Orange/copper color, plum-like nose, spicy-sweet finish. When I ordered this beer from brewmaster Ted Miller, I felt like I was in a speakeasy because festival-goers had to use the secret code name "Angry Melon" to get a pour of this fine ale.

4. Thunderfoot Cherry Imperial Stout - New Albanian Brewing Company. One of several excellent imperial stouts that we sampled on the day. Dark brown, small tan head, rich coffee-cherry flavor. I'm not a fan of fruity beers, but this beer had just a tiny hint of cherry, which made for pleasant drinking. New Albanian is quickly becoming one of my favorite Indiana breweries. Their Hoptimus could easily have ended up in my top 5, but I decided to leave it out since I made it my top choice for the Brew-Ha-Ha.

3. He'Brew Bittersweet Lenny's R.I.P.A. - Shmaltz Brewing Company. Oh man, what a beer this is! A double IPA brewed with rye malt, this ale pours with a reddish brown tint and slight coppery head. Very malty and hoppy all at once with a great caramel finish. Lenny's R.I.P.A. is the best of the He'Brew line.

2. Dark Lord Russian Imperial Stout - Three Floyds Brewing Company. The legendary Beer That Must Not Be Named made its appearance at 4:00 p.m., an hour after the gates opened for the festival. The line for the Three Floyds taps snaked all the way from the Three Floyds tent to the port-o-potties (believe me, this was a long line). Fortunately, Mike DeWeese of Badaboomz was at the Three Floyds taps and helped us to avoid the line. Dark Lord is all you would expect from an imperial stout--midnight black color, thick tan head, and coffee/chocolate/molasses notes--but 100 times smoother.

1. Bourbon Barrel Double Cream/Expedition Stout Blend - Bell's Brewery. I might get some arguments from my colleagues on this one, but this special Bell's offering was better--yes, better--than the highly touted Dark Lord. I went back for seconds on this stout, poured courtesy of Hoosier Beer Geek ally Courtney Hall of the Hop Shop. So many adjectives come to mind for this beer: dark, milky, smooth, creamy, chocolaty, sweet. It's close to being the ultimate stout. We're on a five-mug system with our beer review ratings, yet I would give this beer six mugs if I could.

Special thanks to Bob Ostrander of Indiana Beer for getting us in to the festival a half-hour before the official start; to all of the brewers for coming out to show us what they have; and to the Brewers of Indiana Guild for staging this unparalleled Indiana beer event.

20 July 2007

Indiana RelicAle at Spencer's

From our good friend Spencer:
2nd Annual Indiana ReplicAle Tasting Thursday July 26th

"This weekend is the Indiana Brewer’s Festival and right on its heels will be our now annual microbrew event, The Indiana ReplicAle Tasting Thursday July 26th. As you may know a ReplicAle is when a group of brewers agree on the same recipe and then they each produce a batch of similar, but slightly differing tastes due to brewer’s choices.

Last year’s event was the first time the Indiana ReplicAle’s were available to be tasted side-by-side. It was also a really huge success with a full room of great beer geeks and great food from FOT Tyler Herald.

More than 6 brewers are participating and we’ll have their designer creations for $2 per half-pint. If you enjoy comparing and contrasting subtle taste sensations in beers, then don’t miss this."

19 July 2007

Indiana Microbrewers Festival | Saturday, July 21

Don't forget about the Indiana Microbrewers Festival, which will be held at Opti-Park in Broad Ripple this Saturday from 3:00 to 7:00 p.m. This event is not to be missed if you are a serious beer-lover. All of Indiana's microbreweries will be present, as well as some exceptional out-of-town breweries, such as Shmaltz Brewing Company (home of the excellent He'Brew brand).

The Knights of the Beer Roundtable will be present, and you can't miss us. We'll be the good-looking beer-drinkers in the black Hoosier Beer Geek t-shirts. Yes, that's right--we'll be wearing the same type of clothing. Dorky? Perhaps. But hey, we're geeks.

Ales @ the Chatterbox | 7/25, 6:00 p.m.

One of my favorite Mass Ave bars, the Chatterbox, is having a wheat beer and IPA tasting on Wednesday, July 25 at 6:00 p.m. The event will cost you $17.00, but that gets you five different craft brews and some fresh grub off the grill. RSVP for the event at the Chatterbox's website.

18 July 2007

Deano's Customer Appreciation Night

Deano's Vino is holding a customer appreciate night tomorrow (Thursday) night from 6-9pm. Tickets are 10 bucks at the door. There are like 27 different kinds of wine and 15 different kinds of beers for sampling, and Chef Jody is putting out a huge spread, all of which is included in the cost.

17 July 2007

Kickin' it Old Skool

KOTBR #22: Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout

For Review #22, the Knights of the Beer Roundtable convened at Hot Shotz Ale & Grill to try out the limited-production Founders Brewery Kentucky Breakfast Bourbon Aged Stout. (Say that three times fast.)

Jason started off by insulting Chris and praising the beer simultaneously, which is no easy task. He praised the chameleon-like qualities of the stout before giving it a big thumbs up and a 5 mug rating:

This beer showed me that while I have been hopping on hops a lot recently, myroots are in the maltier beers. And bourbon stouts still rank as my favorite beer variety. I'm reluctant to give this beer a 5 mug rating simply because I have not tried every single beer in the world and there is a chance that there is a better beer out there. But I'm going to do that anyway, because I could not imagine a better beer.

Mike followed up with a nod to our excellent bartender, Hans, and delved into the qualities of the beer (and a 3.5 mug rating):

Hans (our bartender) had warned us that this stout was unlike others in that it was better a little colder, and I'd agree with him. But then again, I much prefer the taste of coffee to bourbon. Because this was such an interesting and transformative beer, I'd give the Founders Kentucky Breakfast Bourbon Aged Stout a 3.5 mug rating.

Jim complimented Brian, the owner, and commented on availability before he echoed Jason’s earlier sentiments with a 5 mug rating:

I'm on precisely the same page as Jason with this beer. I would add only that, as the beer warmed, I detected some hazelnut notes in the flavor.Kentucky Breakfast Stout was a thoroughly delicious beer. I give it the Hoosier Beer Geek seal of special approval: 5 mugs.

And Kelly discussed her love/hate relationship with the stout before she rated it 4 mugs:

Jason mentioned how fascinated he was with the complexities of the beer, and I’m in total agreement. Especially since just ten minutes after I loved the beer…I haaaaaaated it! I let it get just a little too warm, and the last few sips of the beer were like chugging straight Kentucky bourbon. I think my eyes might have rolled back in my head a little. I give the beer 4 solid mugs and a couple of aspirin for good measure.

If this is for breakfast, imagine what's for lunch!

I’m not easily overwhelmed when I sample a good beer. My favorite brews are typically pretty complex, especially since I’ve been pulled along for the KOTBR “We Love Hops, Yes We Do!” ride. But the Founders Brewery Kentucky Breakfast Stout that we sampled recently at Hot Shotz Ale & Grill knocked me for one hell of a loop…and I still don’t think my taste buds have recovered.

As the other Beer Geeks have noted the beer pours thick, somewhere in between really strong coffee and motor oil, with just a tiny hint of a beige-ish smudge at the top of the glass. I could smell the roasted vanilla coffee before I even picked up the bottle to pour, and sipping it cold was like sipping the iced espresso that is my daily lifeblood. Good, but a little, well, overwhelming.

Flash forward to about 20 minutes later, and the espresso had given way to a smooth, incredibly rich caramel coffee flavor, with the spicy sweetness of the bourbon starting to come through. Oh, how lovely this beer is at the perfect temperature! Beautiful! Perfect! I think I was grinning into my glass. But wait…

Jason mentioned how fascinated he was with the complexities of the beer, and I’m in total agreement. Especially since just ten minutes after I loved the beer…I haaaaaaated it! I let it get just a little too warm, and the last few sips of the beer were like chugging straight Kentucky bourbon. I think my eyes might have rolled back in my head a little.

Now, I don’t know if it was the food (excellent, spicy and plentiful), the service (attentive and helpful), the conversation (I think at one point we went from talking about kosher meat preparation to David Beckham in one sentence) or the beer itself (an amazing transformation), but by the end of the evening, my head was spinning like a top—in a good way, of course.

I give the beer four solid mugs and a couple of aspirin for good measure.

16 July 2007

Bible Belt Beer

On a trip this past weekend to Knoxville for a family reunion, I made a point to find the good beer stores. Believe it or not, I had to go no further than the local Kroger! It never ceases to amaze me that in the heart of the Bible Belt, a beer geek can buy cold, ready-to-drink beer directly from his grocer's freezer, but we can't here in Indy. But not only did Kroger have the usual lite beers, they also had a great selection of local micros. Now there is a strange law in Tennessee that says a grocery store or gas station can sell cold beer, but only up to 5.9% ABV. Anything above 5.9% can only be sold in specialty shops. So nothing was for sale that I would only have to drink one of. But high ABV does not always a good beer make.
I settled on a six pack of St. Terese's Pale Ale from Highland Brewing Company, which is located over the mountains in Asheville, NC. This has an ABV of 5.2%, and was the perfect remedy for a smokin' hot Southern summer day, similar to the effect of an Oberon on an August Indiana day! It was fresh and crisp and definitely satisfying. It had some good hops, but it wasn't over done. Since I make regular trips to Knoxville, I will definitely be sampling some other of Highland's offerings.
It was also a good reminder not to get stuck on my Midwestern favorites, and keep an open eye for some regional offerings. And next time your hard up for a good beer and you're out of state, check out your local grocery store. Alcohol laws vary from state to state, so you never know what you'll find!

Chasing the American Dream | Rock Bottom Brewery's American Dream Ale

We haven't talked much here at HBG about the big corporate brewpubs. I don't think this is so because we have any bias against these establishments. Just because they're chain breweries doesn't diminish the quality of their offerings. In fact, in my experience, they brew some excellent beer.

The granddaddy of chain brewpubs in Indy, the downtown Rock Bottom, is a place that I used to visit on a fairly frequent basis. I am a longtime fan of the Brickway Brown and seasonal beers such as the Fire Chief Ale and the barleywine (whose name escapes me at the moment). I was also a member of the original Mug Club, in which members had their own personalized mugs. Mine was a nice blue ceramic stein, which is now safely tucked away in my kitchen cabinet thanks to Rock Bottom, which let us keep our mugs when they stopped using them. Original Mug Clubbers were also invited to tapping parties for the release of seasonal beers. At these tapping parties, Mug Clubbers were free to drink as much as free beer has they wanted for a solid hour. The restaurant also rolled out a nice buffet of American pub staples such as buffalo wings, soft pretzels, and nachos.

I am still a member of the Mug Club, even with the generic glass mugs that its members now must use and the abbreviated and less frequent seasonal tapping parties (they now last only a half-hour). I don't go to many tapping parties anymore but decided to attend the tapping of Rock Bottom's American Dream Ale last Wednesday at the invitation of a friend of mine. I was glad that I attended because the American Dream is one of the best seasonal beers that I've had from Rock Bottom. The American Dream is an American IPA that pours with an orange/amber color and a lacy white head. It has a wonderful hoppy aroma that is a blend of grapefruit and pine. The flavor follows suit with a huge grapefruity taste on the front of the tongue and a slight hint of caramel and toffee on the back of the tongue. The mouthfeel of this beer is very silky despite its benevolently bitter flavor. It is definitely a great beer for Rock Bottom to roll out in the summertime given its crispness and lively character. As one might expect for an IPA, the American Dream Ale has an ABV on the higher end of the scale, coming in at 6.8 or 6.9% (I can't remember which).

Get on down to Rock Bottom soon and give this beer a try. And if you're not a Mug Club member, sign up. As Bluto once said, "Don't cost nuthin'." As a member, you'll get invited to attend tapping parties for seasonal beers and will become eligible to win Rock Bottom schwag with each visit.

14 July 2007

This is not a public service announcement | Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout @ Hot Shotz

I like to think that Hoosier Beer Geek performs a public service. After all, we tell you about beers that we think are worth trying and buying.

But I'm not sure we that performed a public service with this review. As HBG reader Rodney noted, Founders Brewery's Kentucky Breakfast Stout is almost impossible to get a hold of. We drank the last six of them at Hot Shotz Ale & Grill, and I don't know of any other establishments in town that currently carry it. A search on World Class Beverage's handy dandy beer finder yielded no results for Indiana. Therefore, in the end, we reviewed a beer that you won't be able to drink if you live in Indiana. So much for public service. And my apologies to Chris for reviewing, in his absence, a beer that I know he would love.

Like my cohorts, I left with a very favorable impression of Hot Shotz. I didn't try any of the grub, so I can't give you my thoughts on that. But barkeep Hans and owner Brian Graham really know their beer. So if you're looking to leap into the craft beer thing, these two gentlemen would be fantastic guides. Plus, any bar that's willing to turn on a soccer game for me on the television (as Brian did) deserves extra praise. In short, give the place a visit, especially if you're a Northsider. You won't be disappointed.

As for the Kentucky Breakfast Stout, if this is the typical day-opening beverage for Kentuckians, then I'm moving to Louisville (or would that be to Grand Rapids, Michigan, where Founders Brewery is located?). I'm on precisely the same page as Jason with this beer. I would add only that, as the beer warmed, I detected some hazelnut notes in the flavor.

Kentucky Breakfast Stout was a thoroughly delicious beer. I give it the Hoosier Beer Geek seal of special approval: 5 mugs.

13 July 2007

This ain't the the breakfast of champions

Last evening the Beer Geeks convened at Hot Shotz Ale & Grill, and were fortunate enough to get to sample Founders Kentucky Breakfast Bourbon Aged Stout. Our bartender Hans explained that the Breakfast Stout was a limited production beer, acquired on a road trip to the Founders Brewery - definitely a beer brought to Indy based on dedication to the craft, and right up our alley.

The KBBA Stout is 10% Alcohol by Volume (ABV), and ran $10 a bottle - a high enough price to scare me away from it if I were drinking without the rest of the geeks. But when we're doing a roundtable, we generally don't look at prices until afterwards.

The stout poured like cough syrup, and had the same dark color as motor oil. Despite having no head, it left a slight film on the glass when swirled. The nose gave off a smell of used coffee grounds, with a sweet sort of sting - no real "beer smell" at all, and a tiny hint of bourbon. Once in the mouth, the bourbon sting comes out a little bit more, but the overwhelming characteristic is the dark coffee taste - a taste that stays in your mouth long after you've swallowed your beer.

As the beer warmed up, the 10% ABV became more apparent - slowly at first. Given a minute or two more, the alcohol taste almost explosively jumped out to a level that was almost overwhelming. The coffee taste, which was so prevalent to begin, faded completely, leaving only the taste of bourbon.

Hans (our bartender) had warned us that this stout was unlike others in that it was better a little colder, and I'd agree with him. But then again, I much prefer the taste of coffee to bourbon. Because this was such an interesting and transformative beer, I'd give the Founders Kentucky Breakfast Bourbon Aged Stout a 3.5 mug rating. Was it worth $10? I'm not so sure. Luckily I had split the bottle with Gina.

As for Hot Shotz, I'd definitely recommend the place. They feature an extensive but not overwhelming beer menu, foods created with recipes based in beer, and a dedication to bringing unusual beers to Indy. In addition, they were showing the Tour de France when we arrived, which automatically earns them bonus points in my book. It's a prime location for Northside Beer-loving Colts fans - because as owner Brian Graham explained - you don't have to sacrifice on any detail of the experience at at Hot Shotz. They've got plenty of TVs, a great beer list, and a nice menu.

As much as I enjoy my experiences at Shallos on the southside, after 4 weekend visits I've pretty much explored the entire menu. Although Shallos offers 4 types of chicken sandwich, they're all just chicken sandwiches. Hot Shotz' does a better job by offering a menu has a lot of variety - everything from teriyaki kabobs to elephant ears. It's the type of restaurant any beer loving Hoosier should embrace, especially with ownership so dedicated to the cause.

* * * * *

I often wonder if some of our readers read my reviews and think "what a waste of fantastic beer!". I know that the Breakfast Stout is highly rated by pretty much everyone... and I hate that I didn't find it to be the fantastic treat that most do. All I can say is that I know what I like; this wasn't it.

A beer so good, you'd marry your Tennessee cousin for it

When it comes to finding great beers, it is always best to talk to your bartender, waiter, waitress, or, as in our case, the restaurant/bar owner. Our latest KOTBR review was held at Hot Shotz on 96th Street and is owned by Brian Graham. We had heard from many sources that Brian has an incredible beer list, and those sources are correct.

There are 10 taps flowing at Hot Shotz, and not a single one is dedicated to the mass brews (Bud, Miller, Coors) or the mass brews disguised as micro brews (Blue Moon, Killians). Current beers on tap include: Brooklyn Lager, Founders Pale Ale, Solstice Wit, Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier, Mad Hatter IPA, Hop Juice, Ellie's Brown, Tres Blueberry Stout, Houblon Chouffe, and Raspberry Framboise. This incredible offering is followed with a bottle list of 60 or more varieties.

Being on a converted hop head on hop kick suffering hop rage (kinda like roid rage, but involves more drinking and less working out), I decided to go with the Hop Juice from Two Brothers Brewing Company. It doesn't have the crisp fruit taste that Hopslam has, but it is so Cambell's Soup (mmmm, mmmm good).

Having reviewed a lot of beers in the hoppy category recently, the Knights elected to review a stout or porter this time around. And the number of beers to select from were great. This is where it pays to ask people in the know.

I asked Brian if he could recommend a beer, and he said, "Well, we have a couple not on the menu." He mentioned Founder's Kentucky Breakfast Stout, and we were sold. And after we were done, they were sold out. So sorry for the rest of ya.

We have reviewed bourbon stouts in the past. I was all over Barley Island's take on it. But Founder's version is the Colonel Sanders of bourbon stouts. Lip smakin', toe tappin', finger lickin' good.

The beer pours out black as night and looks to be as thick as molasses. It poured with almost no head, just leaving a dark tan ring around the top. Stouts often have hints of coffee. This beer reeked of coffee. Starbucks only wished they could smell this good.

To drink it while cold is like drinking a cup of strong cold coffee, and it was bitterly cold, with an emphasis on bitter. This is definitely a beer that gets better as it warms up.

And as it warms up, the coffee bitters give way to caramel, toffee, and other roasted scents. The taste mellows. And as it continues to warm, the bourbon flavors really begin to stand out.

The complexities of the beer's characteristics are fascinating. It's the type of beer that could please many varied tastebuds. If you love the bitterness of coffee, drink it while cold. If you love the taste of bourbon, drink it at room temperature. If want a mix of both, drink it at a temperature somewhere between.

This beer showed me that while I have been hopping on hops a lot recently, my roots are in the maltier beers. And bourbon stouts still rank as my favorite beer variety. I'm reluctant to give this beer a 5 mug rating simply because I have not tried every single beer in the world and there is a chance that there is a better beer out there. But I'm going to do that anyway, because I could not imagine a better beer.

12 July 2007

We're on a t-shirt!

I just received word that the official Hoosier Beer Geek t-shirts have arrived and are ready for pick-up this afternoon. The long-awaited shirts will make their official debut at next Saturday's Indiana Microbrewers Festival.

10 July 2007

Roundtable #22 @ Hot Shotz | Thursday, July 12

Just a reminder that the Knights of the Beer Roundtable's 22nd review will take place this Thursday, July 12, at Hot Shotz Ale & Grill. We will convene at 8:00 p.m.

As always, you, the beer-drinking public, are welcome to join us. If you'd like to come, drop us a line at our MySpace page or at jddfire1871@hotmail.com so we know to save you a seat. We're not sure what we're going to review at this point. We'll figure it out when we get there.

Hot Shotz is located at East 96th Street and North Gray Road. Directions are available here.

09 July 2007

Brugge in Bottles, Part 2 | Brewery Kick-Off Party

To follow up on Mike's interview with Brugge Brasserie's Charlie Midgley, we now have more specifics on a date certain for the availability of Brugge's beer in bottles and on tap at local bars and restaurants. From Charlie:

We are going places.......

Brugge Beer has received federal approval to begin to brew our terrific Belgian beers at our new facility in Terre Haute, Indiana.

By September 1st, 5 favorite styles of Brugge Beer will be available at fine liquor and retail stores as well as bars and restaurants throughout Indiana.

Here's the lineup:

Sacre Fleur Saison
Tripel de Ripple

Our new web site, which will have detailed information on all the products, is currently under development: www.brugge-beer.com

Keep checking for updates with more details of where you can buy and enjoy these great beers.

Oh, and don't forget, before September 1 you can always enjoy our beer - and cuisine - at Brugge Brasserie!

Brewery Kick Off Party

We want to celebrate the launch of new brewery in Terre Haute in Style.

On Friday night, July 20 we will build a tent in the parking lot outside Brugge Brasserie for a kick off party starting at 8:00 PM.

All beers will be $2.00 and entertainment will be provided by DJ Rusty.

Don't miss it as we combine this celebration along with the kick off for the Indiana MicroBrewers Festival to be held in Broad Ripple the following day, Saturday, July 21.
More news to follow.

See you on the 20th and 21st.

06 July 2007

The link between beer prices and ethanol production

Sounds like a strange correlation doesn't it? According to USA Today, retail prices for beer jumped 3% in May, the biggest increase in two-and-a-half years. Why? Because farmers are growing less barley--a main ingredient in beer--in favor of growing corn, which has become a more lucrative crop due to its high demand for use in fuel ethanol production. As a result, barley has become more expensive.

While this might seem like bad news, it's not so bad for those of us who enjoy microbrews, which haven't been hit as hard by the higher prices for barley because the growing popularity of microbrews has generated increased sales to offset the price hikes for barley. As a result, microbreweries have not had to raise their prices by much.

So, keep on drinking!

05 July 2007

A Little Help For Our Friends at the Good Beer Show

Here's a little news from our friends at The Good Beer Show:

Nominations are open for this year’s podcast award. Please give us a nomination from July 1st through 15th at podcastawards.com for the “Food and Drink” category.

The folks over at the Good Beer Show do quality work, and they're hoping to be a 3 time winner of the award this year, so stop by podcastawards.com nomination page and help our friends out when you get a chance.

KOTBR Review #21: Delirium Tremens

Review 21 was unlike any other in that it was the first time we had unexepected guests; when arriving at BARcelona Tapas, we met Jeremy, Mary, Jeff and Jessica, who had read about us in INtake. We also had invited out old friends Brent, Adam, and Jason, so our numbers swelled to a total of 14 drinkers. After settling in and trying out some of BARcelona's fine food, we got down to tasting our feature beer, Delirium Tremens.

Jason gave the Tremens a 3.5 mug rating in a review that touched on everything from Don Quixote to Jack Sparrow:

It's a very nice Belgian beer, with sweet and dry flavors and aromas of apples and citrus. It is cloudy with a light orange color. The best part about this beer is that it gets sweeter with time. If you let it sit and warm up, more sugary notes begin to appear.

Jim explained tapas theory (my words, not his) and agreed with Jason that DT was a 3.5 mug beer:

...the Delirium Tremens has a huge fruity aroma, heavy with apple and plum notes. The flavor is similar to the aroma; it's fruity, malty, slightly sweet, and dry on the finish. I have, however, had more flavorful Belgians than Delirium Tremens. Still, this is a decent beer.

Mike sang in the words of the old Caucasian spiritual (the Golden Girls theme) and gave DT a 4 mug rating:

DT's nose is a fantastic thing - I could be happy just smelling the beer. Based on nose alone I'd think it was a five mug beer. Unfortunately the beer's taste doesn't quite live up to its nose - but that's not to say it isn't enjoyable. It's a flavorful experience of a beer, and begs to be really savored.

Kelly revealed that her friends and coworkers are all perverts before giving Tremens a 4 mug rating:

This beer starts out with a big carmel apple nose, and follows up with a cotton candy finish and sneaky ABV that reaches out and punks you in no time flat. A thoroughly enjoyable beer, but Belgian ales have stiff competition in the land of the Beer Geeks...

Chris "spewed forth some yada, yada, yada" and gave DT 5 mugs:

The taste is one of the most complex of any beer I've ever tried, and it has a light mouthfeel. It's got a real high ABV - 8.5% - so this is a good sipping beer. Don't drink too fast, unless you're a tubby bastard like me, then you can probably handle it. It's really one of my top 10 favorite beers.

All of the knights would like to thank our guests, Deano, and the folks at BARcelona Tapas for a fine time and some great food.

03 July 2007

One Year Upcoming and a Decision to Make

In just a little over a month from today, Hoosier Beer Geek will celebrate it's one year anniversary. While the technical date is August 8th, we've pushed the bash back one day to August 9th, which is a normal Roundtable night. We've decided to go back to our roots for this evening, and we'll be shacking up at Deano's Vino for the night. Our groupies are most definitely encouraged to come, so put it on your calendars now!

And in celebration of our first anniversary, Deano has proclaimed he will put a beer on tap in our honor for the week of the bash. A beer we get to choose. Now, you need to know that collectively, we have many opinions and it takes us a while to reach a final decision on anything. I mean, it took us nearly two weeks to decide on the beer quote we're putting on the back of our soon-to-be-released Hoosier Beer Geek t-shirts. So telling us to pick a beer that represents us for this event has touched off a debate. Any of you want to make some suggestions??

Tubby Bastards Eat Pretty People in BARcelona

See, this is what happens when you're the last one to the dance - or in this case, to post your review. All the other Geeks have already said anything of any importance. But since I've been absolutely abhorent about posting my reviews lately (Have you seen the one about the Racer 5 IPA from The Bear Republic from my May trip to California? No, you haven't because I have posted it yet!), I'm going to spew forth some yada, yada, yada for your entertainment.

As you know, we went to the new BARcelona Tappas in downtown Indy. Not that we wouldn't have checked it out, but we put it higher on the list since our buddy Deano is the managing consultant here. And we've grown to love that tubby bastard (I can say that because I'm a tubby bastard, too), so we wanted to check out his new project.

It was awesome to show up and have 4 unexpected guests. I mean, we always send out an invite, but nobody really ever takes us up on it. So we had given up on you. But we've been given new hope, and we expect to see more of you coming out now that we're cool enough to be resident beer geek experts for INtake. We really dig having other beer geeks join in.

The restaurant itself appears to be quickly becoming an "it" place. Bunches of pretty people who didn't look like they were ever geeks in their lives. LOSERS! So depending on your opinion, that's either good or bad. But that was really about the only questionable aspect of the restaurant for me. Chris, the manager, was extremely helpful. They had a side room booked for us, and was as prepared as they could be with having no idea what we were going to do. I take that back - one more questionable aspect - the beer list was given to us on a folded sheet of paper for all to share, meaning they didn't have a seperate beer menu. But hey, live and let live. Hopefully, they'll fix that. But the selection on that paper was pretty decent. They had six beers on tap - Stella Artois, Paulanor Wheat, Moretti Lager, O. B. Amber, Oberon, and, well, Bud Light. They also had 20 bottles, ranging from Coors Lite to Delirium Tremens, so one hell of a range.

The food was fantastic! Since I'm on a diet anyway, the portions were perfect, and I didn't feel like I was cheating. The chicken wings that Kelly ordered may be the best I've ever had - or at least real close. And I am a chicken wing expert. In fact, I'm putting together Hoosier Chicken Wing Geek as we speak! But everything we ordered and sampled was really great stuff. I've been here for lunch once before, and both mine and my wife's dish were very tasty, too. So I can say after trying at least 7 items from the menu, that nothing has been below very good!

You know we warmed up on the Delirium. I love Delirium. My good friend Traci - of Good Beer Show fame - introduced it to me, as she did the concept of drinking good beers, when we had less gray hairs. It's nose is fruity, giving off heavy plums, similar to Unibroue beers, which I think Jason mentioned. It's very blonde, and is obviously unfiltered. Lots of sediment floating around. The taste is one of the most complex of any beer I've ever tried, and it has a light mouthfeel. The bottle is best known for being white & opaque, with pink elephants and dancing aligators. It's got a real high ABV - 8.5% - so this is a good sipping beer. Don't drink too fast, unless you're a tubby bastard like me, then you can probably handle it. I don't know if it's the taste I like so much, or the memories of some good times up in Muncie that are associated with it, but I give it 5 mugs. It's really one of my top 10 favorite beers.

If you haven't gotten the chance yet, check this place out. It's definitely worth your time.

Now let me step up on my soapbox for a second. Don't be afraid of the homeless folks the next block down at Wheeler. They may just hit you up for some change. Tell them no, and send them on, preferrably to Horizon House if you're there during the day. They have to put up with a lot of shit at Wheeler - ie, go to church service or you get kicked out for the night, even if it's winter - and they're in a bad situation. But for the most part, when you get to know them (and I did working at Horizon House for three years), they're good people who have taken some wrong roads in life.

02 July 2007

"You're going to a TOPLESS bar?"

…this is what every friend and co-worker asked me when I said I was heading to BARcelona Tapas for the next installment of the Knights of the Beer Roundtable.

Not topless. TAPAS.

Simply put, the American version of tapas (tä'päs) is just a fancy term for shared “small dishes”, or appetizer-like courses meant to be split among a group of friends. Our Roundtable outing at BARcelona was no different – we walked in to find a group of strangers and fans eager to discuss good beer with us. The more the merrier, I say! The dishes at BARcelona range from tomatoes in spicy tomato sauce, to goat cheese on crusty garlic bread, to smoky garlic chicken wings with jalapeno mayonnaise . Everything we sampled was good, and there was a LOT to go around.

Typically, topless tapas bars aren’t known for their stellar beer selection – most of the attention is on the wine and sangria. But since BARcelona is headed up by the illustrious Dean Wilson (the “Deano” in Deano’s Vino), we knew we stood a good chance of some above-average beer choices. Even though most of the draft beers had a decidedly domestic tilt, we did find Bell's Oberon on tap for a warm-up in addition to a listing of more adventurous bottled beers. (Here’s hoping that the lists grows and stabilizes as the restaurant settles in.)

Our reviewed beer of the evening was Delirium Tremens, a pretty well-known Belgian ale (and the one that was featured in the first-ever HBG photo shoot). Like Jim mentioned, this beer is definitely one that gets better the longer it warms up, so I took my time with this one (due in part to the fact that I accidentally poured the biggest head on my beer that I have ever seen.)

This beer starts out with a big carmel apple nose, and follows up with a cotton candy finish and sneaky ABV that reaches out and punks you in no time flat. A thoroughly enjoyable beer, but Belgian ales have stiff competition in the land of the Beer Geeks – so while I give this one a solid 4 mug rating, it’s not at the top of my list.

I didn’t do as much socializing as I wanted to do with the group, so I’ll belatedly thank the following: the groupies and guests who were wholly unexpected but welcome back any time; our server, who handled a somewhat rambunctious group with relative ease; Gina and Mike, for being such good hosts to the newbies; Jim, for not taking my picture; and Deano, who brings the party with him wherever he goes.

Even to a topless tapas bar.

If you threw a party, and invited everyone you knew*

*or didn't know

Hoosier Beer Geek has always been an open invite sort of thing; We're happy to have anyone who wants to drink good beer. When the most recent INtake article ran, it ran with a sidebar that extended that invitation to INtake readers.

The thing is, we've never actually had unexpected guests before. And what we do doesn't have much form - we're just drinking, after all. So when we arrived at BARcelona Tapas to find four new guests, it came as quite a surprise.

I hope that I served as a good host to our guests (Jeremy, Mary, Jeff and Jessica) - I got the feeling that they weren't exactly familiar with the blog, which meant that they didn't really know how we function - which is to say, we barely function at all. "So what do the Hoosier Beer Geeks do?" I was asked. "Well, we drink beer."

And that's pretty much the gist of it. If you come out we'll be happy to talk about beer styles, or local brewers, or what we've drank. We'll be just as happy to talk about soccer, the Colts, or music. In fact, we're a lot more likely to talk about the latter group.

* * * * *

My feelings on BARcelona Tapas are pretty similar to Jim's; I'm quite happy to have the option downtown, and everything I had was tasty. BARcelona is the sort of place that promotes the expansion of the pallet - which definitely runs parallel to the ideas behind Hoosier Beer Geek.

* * * * *

Perhaps I should have done a better job explaining to our guest the whole critical beer drinking process. Our feature beer was Delirium Tremens had a sweet, fresh, bubblegum-like nose that was intoxicating - after leaving my nose in the glass for what seemed like a good minute I began to grow self-conscious that perhaps I was putting on a show. But DT's nose is a fantastic thing - I could be happy just smelling the beer. Based on nose alone I'd think it was a five mug beer.

Unfortunately the beer's taste doesn't quite live up to its nose - but that's not to say it isn't enjoyable. Once on the tongue the almost overwhelming taste of applesauce comes through, and the applesauce taste also comes out in the nose. This is a chewy, appley beer - but not in any way like a cider. It's much too sweet for that.

Delirium Tremens is incredibly easy to drink, which can be a bad thing. Although the ABV isn't incredibly high, you will know you drank this beer. It lead to a coma-like sleep. I'd give this beer a four mug rating - it's a flavorful experience of a beer, and begs to be really savored.