04 September 2007

A Labor Day Libations review, but first a movie preview...

They only met once, but it changed their lives forever.

They were five total strangers, with nothing in common, meeting for the first time. A brain, a beauty, a jock, a rebel and a recluse.

Before the day was over, they broke the rules. Bared their souls. And touched each other in a way they never dreamed possible.

So take the phone off the hook, put on your pajamas, hop onto the couch, grab a box of tissues, not to mention a bottle of Midol, because if you watch this movie often enough, you will ovulate. I, of course, am speaking of...

The Breakfast Club, the Zima of 80's movies.

Don't agree with me? Read the movie poster again.

But I'm not here to talk about chick flicks. Labor Day has come and gone. Summer is over. And there is no better way to mark the occasion than to cook some meats over an open flame and chug down some cold brews. And that's exactly what I did on Monday with some of my fellow HBG Knights.

Let us begin with Bell's Batch 8000. This limited edition Witbier is about as good as Witbier's come, though Witbier is one of my least favorite varieties. Something about the combination of flavors like citrus, banana, clove, coriander, etc. just doesn't sit well with me. Kinda like eating potpourri. The Batch 8000 looks like a solid Witbier with a cloudy orange appearance. The smell was pleasant; a nice blend of banana and clove. Almost like banana nut bread. The taste was surprising. Initial hit of spices, including coriander. But the beer left a sugary sweet mouthfeel. Not unpleasant. I enjoyed this beer more than others in the same category. Maybe it is because I'm ready for all things fall. At 9% ABV, it has a bit more strength than most Witbiers. So be careful. 3.5 mugs.

Next up, Bear Republic's Racer 5. Not yet available in Indiana, this IPA came courtesy of Chris and myself. We picked up eight 750 mL bottles in Chicago during a recent road trip. And we felt the need to share with the others. I've been enjoying IPA's a lot over the last 6 or 9 months and this is a good one to share with others who are not hop heads. In smell and in taste, you find hops all over the place, but not with the bitterness that you'd expect. It has a hint of citrus, but I think the hops flavor comes out more. This is an easy drinking beer, and a good place for non-IPA drinkers to start. It is not my favorite IPA. But it is very good. And the best beer of the night. 4.5 mugs.

Unibroue's La Seigneuriale. I have no idea how to even begin pronouncing it. This is another beer from the Chicago road trip. It is another in a long line of Belgian style beers from this Canadian brewer. Let me begin with a story first. My wife's grandfather is a farmer man in northern Indiana. Every fall, he enters the best of his harvest in the fall fair and comes home with many, many blue ribbons. He also has a home made cider press (as in the press is home made) that makes home made cider. Best apple cider in the world. After he is done making cider, he takes the apple remains and piles them around a tree to decompose. Bees always swarm to it. The best way to describe the smell: the beautiful, sweet aroma of decomposition. That is also how I will describe La Seigneuriale. It has been my favorite Unibroue beer to date. It is not a beer that I would regularly drink, but it is one that fascinates me. 3.5 mugs.

The last beer of the night was Goose Island's Demolition Ale. Let me say that after drinking this beer, I figured that my taste buds were shot. Because I found the beer to be lacking in taste and aroma. A quick look at Beer Advocate and I quickly discover that I'm not alone. One reviewer wrote how he is a big fan of GI but was very disappointed by this beer. But others at BA wrote about how much they liked it. So I'm going to be responsible and say that I am withholding my review until I can conduct another review. I will review it on another day.


  1. A shipment of Racer 5/Kill Ugly Radio is screaming across the country right now for the GBS courtesy of pacificbrewnews.com Can't wait.


  2. I grabbed two bottles of Batch 8000 late last week from Alabama Liquor. To be honest, I had NOT A CLUE what to expect from a Witbier (or Belgian White or Belgian Strong Ale or whatever the beer rating sites are saying these days). I just thought it would be fun to try their limited edition beer. My wife and I each had one over the weekend and we were BLOWN AWAY.

    We're self-proclaimed hop heads and we loved it!

    I raced out to Alabama Liquor on Monday and they were gone. Over to Rural Inn and they didn't have a clue. Up to Kahn's and they were also out. I had gone that far, so I decided to make the trek all the way up to the Hop Shop and -- THANK GOD! -- they still had about 3 cases left.

    We picked up 2 6-packs, one to drink slowly over the next couple weeks and one to keep around for a while. This is my first keeper/cellar 6-pack of beer. Hope it ages well!

  3. Shoulda tried Parti-Pak; they had it both in the cooler and on the shelf. And if it suffers the same fate as many of their other beers, it will still be available at Parti-Pak some time in 2012. They should change their motto to "we do the aging for you!"

  4. I've never been to Parti-Pak. Actually, I'd never even heard of it before the beermapping.com post. I do my "big" grocery shopping at the Southport Target, so I'll have pop over to Parti-Pak sometime I'm on the southside.

    I get the vast majority of my beer from Alabama Liquor -- by far the most convenient for me, with great prices to boot -- and Kahn's. How does Parti-Pak's selection compare with Kahn's?

  5. It is my personal opinion that the Parti-Pak has the largest selection of beer in town. It's simply amazing, plus you can find a lot of stuff that sells out a lot faster on the north side. For example, Kentucky Breakfast Stout was sold out immediately on the north side, but Parti-Pak had at least 8 bottles left a week later. Parti-Pak is my personal beer Mecca.

    Parti-Pak also recently had an influx of beers that are supposed to be aged, such as JW Lees' and George Gale's. I'm afraid to find out how much some of it costs, although they are getting better about putting price labels out.

  6. I think Rodney's got it about right - I've never actually been to Alabama Liquor or Kahn's, but I'd be surprised if they had a more expansive selection than Parti-Pak.

    There are issues with pricing - a lot of times you don't really know what you're going to pay for something until they ring it up - but I think they're working on doing a better job with that.

  7. I don't think anyone would say that Alabama Liquor has a great selection, but they do pack in a surprisingly large number of craft brews considering how small they are. Their trick is to devote one cooler row to a brewery and put 3 or 4 different 6-pack styles there.

    For me, their major selling point is devoting half a cooler in the back wine room to Bell's (the other half is for chilled whites). They pick up most, if not all, of the seasonal/limited time beers from Bell's and their prices are great, e.g. Two Hearted for $8.40 when it routinely sells for $9 or even $10 at other places.

    Kahn's selection grew a bit when they moved to the new "warehouse" but I wouldn't be surprised if their selection could be beaten. I'll definitely have to check out Parti-Pak. Maybe I'll double it up with a first-time Shallo's trip as well!

  8. Let's not get crazy here. You might die of beer overload if you attempt your first Shallo's and first Parti-Pak trips at the same time.

    I like to think of Shallo's as if Parti-Pak allowed you to eat and drink in the liquor store. Or maybe Parti-Pak is Shallo's gift shop. You get the idea.