31 October 2007

More Schlafly News for Southern Hoosiers

If those of you near Louisville couldn't make it out, or didn't get your fill of Schlafly at the Schlafly Beer Dinner at L&N Wine Bar and Bistro on Tuesday the 13th of November, they're having another event on Wednesday the 14th:
WHAT: Schlafly Bourbon barrel-aged Imperial Stout release party

WHEN: Wednesday, November 14th, 2007, 8pm
WHERE: Bearno’s Little Sicily
1318 Bardstown Rd.
Louisville, KY 40204

Louisville, KY – Join the Saint Louis Brewery, brewers of Schlafly Beer, and Bearno's Little Sicily on Bardstown Road as we introduce the 2007 vintage of Schlafly Bourbon Barrel-aged Imperial Stout.

This beer is our interpretation of a classic style. Around the time of the Louisiana Purchase, beer was not the mass-produced, light lager that most people consume today. Beer was darker in color, full-flavored, aggressively hopped, and had a high initial gravity. All of these characteristics would have helped the beer to remain fresh during extended periods at warmer temperatures while it was shipped in wooden barrels. If one had been lucky enough to receive a used Bourbon barrel full of Imperial Stout, this is what their happy taste buds would have encountered: roasty, rich, malty Imperial Stout with a strong dose of caramel, oak, and Bourbon character.

The event is Wednesday, November 14th and starts at 8:00 p.m. We will be tasting the 2007 vintage, as well as opening a few bottles of last year's vintage. This will be a unique opportunity for beer fans to taste what a year of bottle aging does to change the complexities of such a beer.

For more information about Bearno’s Little Sicily, go to www.bearnospizza.net. For more information about Schlafly Beer, call 314-241-BEER, or visit www.schlafly.com.
If you happen to make it out to the event, let us know how it goes - we'll be doing our own Knights of the Beer Roundtable comparison of these special edition (this year's and last year's) Schlafly beers in the near future.

A Detour to New Albanian

On my way to Kentucky last Friday, my cousin and I made a little detour on I-265 in New Albany to hit the New Albanian Brewing Company for some lunch and beer. Ever since tasting their Hoptimus at Brew-Ha-Ha, I've been really wanting to get down there to check them out.

The joint is pretty cool. They have an attached restaurant and catering facility, which is wierd, but the pub part is pretty kick-ass. It's like what the faux-Irish pubs try to do, but NABC succeeds at it. Leather chairs and couches, old style pub chairs, and even their famous "Red Room", which is, as you can see, named not only for the color of the wall, but also for all the Soviet and Chinese communist artifacts. It's actually quite a collection - for a history buff, it's pretty cool stuff. And the beer is pretty cheap. I mean, we were drinking imperial pints of Hoptimus, which comes in at 9-10% ABV, and only paying like $3.50 for them.

So it's obvious I love the Hoptimus. It's easily a 5 mugger. (Damn, I'm giving double IPA's really good ratings lately). I also tried their Elector, an Imperial Red Ale coming in around 7%. It was pretty good, too, but after drinking the Hoptimus first, it tasted bland. That's completely because of the high hops content of the Hoptimus, and is not a reflection of the Elector.

The food was pretty good, too. Both my cousin and I were happy with it. The service, while not horrible, did leave a little to be desired in the friendliness factor. But that's about the only non-positive thing I've got to say about the place. They also have a pretty extensive souviner area, with a cool t-shirt that says, "These machines kill facists" with brewing equipment underneath. Had to get one of those. Also, growlers are a great deal - $10.50. A half gallon of Hoptimus for $10.50! So I left with a full gallon of Hoptimus.

29 October 2007

KOTBR #32 | Spencer's Stadium Tavern

Happy Halloween beer geeks.

For last Thursday night's Roundtable, several of the Knights met up at Spencer's along with some folks from Indy's chapter of Drinking Liberally. This was my first visit to the tavern and I thought the place was roomy while still being quiet enough to hold a conversation without having to yell (a HUGE plus in my book). I assume all of this goes out the window during Colts games, as it should. The place was very comfortable, even as we sat in the dark (the power to the bar and surrounding area went out for a short while).

The warmup all around (I think) was Ellie's Brown Ale from Avery Brewing Company. The coppery colored beer poured with little head and tasted metallic at first. As it warmed, something in the taste of this beer made me think of a cherry coke made from coke and grenadine. I would suspect it was the caramel malt but I can't say for sure. It's the usual as far as this style goes; drinkable, smooth, and malty.

Before I knew it, we were moving to the review. It's been a while since most of us reviewed a stout, so the choice was made for Bell's Special Double Cream Stout. I had to let this one set a while since it was served at about Budweiser temperature, but it worked out well since I hadn't yet finished my warmup. The nose on this was pretty amazing. It was incredibly complex, but also reminded me of an ashtray. The flavor was yeasty and a little earthy and also creamy and sweet. I really think this beer would be well served during the ugly parts of winter, (what part of winter isn't ugly?) so I think I am going to assign a tentative 3.25 mug rating on this and try again when the mug is warmer and the weather is colder.

A side note about the Warbird brewery tour:

I am not going to rehash what Jason has so eloquently said, but I would like to say that the tour was awesome and I agree that this beer could really please any palate. I'm glad I had the opportunity to get some insight on this brewery and I took away a much greater appreciation for their beer. If you have passed up this beer in the past (like I reluctantly admit), you may want to take an opportunity to try it. The Warhawk Pale Ale is surprisingly hoppy and the Shanty Irish Red is really quite good.

Heads Up for Southern Hoosiers

Although we don't get out of the city as much as we should, we haven't forgot our southern Hoosier brothers and sisters.

From our friend Mitch at Schlafly comes news about a beer dinner in Louisville, KY - four courses, five beers, and a guaranteed good time:
WHAT: Schlafly Beer Dinner
WHEN: Tuesday, November 13th, 2007, 7pm
WHERE: L&N Wine Bar and Bistro
1765 Mellwood Avenue
Louisville, KY 40206

Louisville, KY – The Saint Louis Brewery, brewers of Schlafly Beer, have partnered with L&N Wine Bar and Bistro to put together a perfect night of beer and food. Over the course of the evening, patrons will experience a wide variety of tasting experiences:

Scallop ceviche
Mushroom, avocado, ginger and fire roasted cherry tomato salad
Paired with Schlafly Hefeweizen

Seafood Bisque
Served with shrimp garnish
Paired with Schlafly Pale Ale

Coriander and Cumin encrusted pork chop
Boulanger potatoes, braised granny smith apples and red cabbage, lager and mustard cream sauce.
Dual pairings: Schlafly Dry Hopped American Pale Ale and Schlafly Number 15

Desert – Coffee Stout
Hazelnut Ice Cream
Paired with Schlafly Coffee Stout

Price is $45 plus tax and gratuity. For reservations, call 502-897-0070. For more information about L&N Wine Bar and Bistro, go to www.landnwinebarandbistro.com. For more information about Schlafly Beer, call 314-241-BEER, or visit www.schlafly.com.

Patriots Week Rules

Hoosier Beer Geek is a huge fan of the Defending World Champion Indianapolis Colts. And Hoosier Beer Geek absolutely abhors and is disgusted by the cheating, classesless, unsportsmenlike New England Patsies. So this week is very special for Hoosier Beer Geek - it's Patriots Week. And during what will most likely be the most hyped regular season game in the history of the NFL, Hoosier Beer Geek has come up with a list of rules that all loyal Hoosier beer geeks must follow to maintain their unique "Hoosier" beer geek status. Any deviation from these rules will automatically result in you being required to drink Coors Lite for the rest of your life and branded a traitor and labeled a Tom Brady babymomma (especially if you're a dude).

1. Any beer you have from Sam Adams must be disposed of in the following manner: pour it down your toilet and flush. Same goes with any beer that is made east of New York.

2. You must boycott any pub/bar/restaurant that maintains New England Clam Chowder on its menu's this week.

3. You cannot order any food for tailgating from Boston Market.

4. It is acceptable to wear a New York Yankees cap along with your Colts jersey on Sunday.

5. You can only drink beer made in Indiana this week (or at least only from those states that borders ours). Support your local brewers!

6. Boston-baked beans, seafood, and other foods associated with or indiginous to New England are not allowed at tailgating. Tenderloin, corn, soybeans and fried things are strongly encouraged.

7. Every time you drink a beer with a friend this week, you must raise your mugs, clink, and say, "F*CK the Patriots!" If your friend is a Patriots-lover, you must kick her ass and put her in a sleeper hold until she admits that Peyton Manning is the best quarterback in the history of NFL and Tom Brady is on his jock.

8. You must root for Florida State in Saturday's college football game. They play Boston College.

9. You must root for Columbia in Saturday's college football game. They play Harvard.

10. If the worst-case scenario happens - Red Sox win World Series (uh-oh), Boston College wins the NCAA national championship, the Patriots win the Super Bowl, and the Celtics win the NBA title - it is expected and required that you participate in our plot with Yankess fans to blow up the entire New England area and cede what's left of it to Canada.

26 October 2007

Cask Conditioned Beers for Dummies

Another Friday posting from me, and more links from the New York Times. This time, it's food and wine reporter Eric Asimov extolling the wonders of cask condition beers:
If mass-market kegs are the Wonder bread and Velveeta of the beer world, cask ales are like fresh-baked loaves or artisanal cheeses, with the potential to be glorious but risky all the same.
For the full article, click here (registration required; to avoid registration, go to bugmenot.com). For Mr. Asimov's companion piece in the Times' blog section, click here. This blog posting contains a few more details on the cask conditioning process, including this mind-boggling piece of information:
Brewers generally add a fining material as well, like isinglass, which helps to settle the yeast cells to the bottom of the cask and clarify the ale. While haziness is typical of hefeweizen and certain bottle-conditioned beers, cask ales ought to be clear. By the way, isinglass comes from the air bladders of fishes like sturgeon, cod and hake, and it’s interesting to speculate on how brewers and winemakers discovered its clarifying properties.
Hat-tip to Mike for finding this a few days ago.

25 October 2007

Roadtrip: Warbird Brewery, Ft. Wayne, Indiana

My wife is from the greater Ft. Wayne area and I first heard of Warbird Brewing from the Ft. Wayne newspaper. What really caught my attention was the company founder's desire to serve his beers in cans. And his reasoning was sound: it did a better job of keeping beer than bottles. You didn't hear about many craft breweries doing that.

My first experience with Warbird Brewing, however, was at a bar in Ossian that served the T-6 Red Ale on tap. It wasn't until I returned to Indy that I finally bought a six pack of the T-6 Red Ale, which happened to be the only beer they produced and distributed.

That was a couple of years ago. Today, much has changed. They couldn't get past the public perception that canned beers are cheap beers, so now they put them in bottles. And they have added new ales to their collection. But Warbird founder Dave Holmes is still continuing his mission of brewing better beers. And on Saturday, Hoosier Beer Geek took flight and landed at his brewery where we were given a tour and a few samples.

It sounds kinda funny to hear Dave (seen above) say that he brews beers that his wife would like. But don't think of Warbird as a chick beer brand. He's not brewing Zima or wine coolers. But he's not brewing the super hopped, super malted, super complicated beers either. He's doing traditional ales. And he's doing a great job at it. More about the specific beers later.

Warbird is unlike most Indiana breweries, in that they have no restaurant, bar, or gift shop as part of their operations. They are a brewery in the strictest since of the word. Located near the Ft. Wayne airport in an industrial park, it is all about work when he is on site.

The brewmaster at Warbird recently left, leaving Dave with those duties. Though Chris Tallman (seen above) has been brought on recently, and I suspect that after a while, he will have the brewmaster title.

Marketing-wise, everything revolves around planes. Dave is a former military pilot and until recently would fly antique aircraft in air shows. He sold his plane, but his love for the old birds carries on as every beer is named for a plane. Military stencil fonts are found on their labels, packaging, and kegs.

Currently, there are four beers available in bottles. But they currently brew five styles. We were lucky enough to taste four of the five, and we started with the "Shanty Irish" Irish Ale. It is only available at JK O’Donnell’s Irish Ale House in Ft. Wayne, but it will be bottled and released for St. Patrick's Day next year. It is a very nice Irish red with sweet notes of molasses, brown sugar, and caramel, but with a little bit of hops. A great beer and my favorite of the four we tasted.

I should also point out that a variety of this Irish Ale is now on tap at the Rathskeller in Indianapolis as the "Rathskeller Red". Warbird is the new brewery for the house beer and first went on tap on October 16th, so be sure to check it out. We were informed that this new deal made the Rathskeller their number 1 outlet.

We also had the T-6 red ale, the Warhawk pale ale (above), and the Mustang golden ale (below).

All four are quality beers that everybody in our group enjoyed. Which brings us back to the "beers my wife would drink" statement. Four knights made it up: Kelly,Mike, Gina, and myself. I brought along my father-in-law and brother-in-law. Both have been trying to expand their beer pallet. But neither are big into big hoppy beers.

So I say again, everybody in our group really enjoyed all of the beers, geeks and novices. These are beers that are easy to enjoy and easy to convince others to enjoy. While the Mustang is not a lager or a pilsner, you should serve these to Bud and Miller drinkers and watch them light up as they discover what real beer tastes like.

Know someone who isn't big into the big hops of Hopslam, Hoptimus, or any other double, triple, quadruple, or any other numbered IPA? Start them on a Warhawk. They brewed this beer in the traditional sense. It has bite, but it doesn't leave bite wounds.

Speaking for myself, I'd say that all four beers would receive at least a 3 mug rating with the Shanty Irish getting at least 4. And while it is readily available in Indianapolis and most of Indiana, it is probably one of the most under appreciated breweries in the state. Which is a shame. I would recommend that everybody should try and take flight with Warbird.

The Hoosier Beer Geek 6 Pack - Mitch Turner, Brand Manager of Schlafly Beer

The Hoosier Beer Geek 6 Pack is a feature where we run six questions by the folks behind the scenes at breweries to get a little more insight into what they do and like and how they got their start. A while back we sent out a questionaire to more than twenty-five breweries - and received zero replies. Well, until last evening, when I received a message from the folks at Schlafly.

Schlafly is brewed in St. Louis, and is available pretty much everywhere in the St. Louis metro area - the airport, bars, the brewery's two brewpubs, grocery stores - even smack dab in the middle of big beer's namesake baseball park - Busch Stadium, home of the World Champion St. Louis Cardinals (at least for the rest of the week).

As a St. Louis area transplant, I couldn't be more thrilled that the folks at Schlafly have extended a hand. Of course the rest of the Knights of the Beer Roundtable would also like to thank our fifth guest, Mitch Turner from St Louis' Schlafly Beer.

1) Who are you and where do you work?

Mitch Turner, Brand Manager, Schlafly Beer
The Saint Louis Brewery, Inc.

2) What inspired you to start brewing beer? How did you get your start?

I was really into trying all of the new American micros in college and would routinely try every single new beer our local grocery store would bring in. My girlfriend at the time bought me a homebrew kit for Christmas. Any girl that likes beer this much, you should marry (and I did). At the time, I was pursuing a degree in Biochemistry and figured I could make better beer than I was buying at the store. While I was initially wrong (the first batch of Porter tasted great but was 2% abv), as college students it was our duty to drink every drop. Subsequent batches (ESB, Bavarian Weizen) got better and better. Upon graduation, I decided to put my Biochemistry degree to good use for humanity by making beer at Bohannon Brewing Company (makers of Market Street Beer) in Nashville, TN. From there, I moved to Louisville, KY to take the Head Brewer position at Pipkin Brewing Company and then on to Schlafly in St. Louis where I direct our marketing efforts in 6 states (MO, IL, IN, KY, TN, and MS).

3) What's your brewing mission? What are you trying to accomplish with your beer?

Our goal is to be a respected regional brewer of classic European beer styles and turn people on to how flavorful and enjoyable beer can be. Brewing beer in the shadow of the largest brewery in the world makes you focus on the variety, history, tradition, and flavor diversity of beer and try to get people to see beer not just as a commodity, but as something that will enhance whatever situation you add it to. This can be as simple as going to a baseball game and ordering a hot dog. If you get any beer and drink it while you eat the hot dog, both will taste better. But, if you choose a beer that goes better with that hot dog, like our Pale Ale (the caramel malts match the flavors in grilled meats), it will make it taste even better. Every day we try to explain to people that this is not rocket science-beer makes food taste better. All you have to do is think about what you drink and you will enjoy it (and everything else with it) a lot more.

In addition to these classic beer styles, we are also beginning to push the envelope of traditional beer styles and consumer perceptions of beer. For example, we now have a Special Release series that features beers styles that are all 8% abv and up and full of intense flavors. This is the antithesis of the current low carb/ultra-light beer craze. We have perfected adding coffee to beer to make a Coffee Stout. We have introduced a Reserve series of beer styles that are oak aged. For our Reserve Bourbon Barrel-aged Imperial Stout we use used Jim Beam barrels for aging to accentuate the already intense flavors in the beer. While large domestic and international breweries are focusing on less flavor and lighter body, we are trying to show people the full potential of beer.

4) Was there a beer that you benchmarked your own against? How did you know your beer was good enough to take to the general public?

There were a few classics that we were shooting for-Sam Smith’s Oatmeal Stout for our Oatmeal Stout and Young’s Special (Ram Rod in the bottle in the US) for our flagship Pale Ale. We also saw what was going on in the Northwest in 1991 with Widmer Hefeweizen and thought that unfiltered wheat beer would be a good choice (ours is an American-style wheat as well). The main thing we wanted to do was to bring these classic beer styles to people, but show them what it is supposed to taste like fresh. So many times, people drink an import and think that this is the way “good” beer has to taste. If we could just get one pint of fresh craft-brewed beer into every import beer drinker’s hands, they would never go back.

It was a good sign that our beer was good enough when we ran out of beer shortly after we opened on December 26th, 1991. We actually had to pour another brewery’s beer at the Tap Room pub for a few weeks until we could catch up. We have been playing catch-up ever since actually. We made the list of the top 50 craft breweries in the US last year and continue to grow and expand every year.

5) What beer are you proudest of? Which of your beers is your personal favorite? Why?

Personally, I am proudest of the Reserve Bourbon Barrel-aged Imperial Stout. It was a recipe and methodology that I helped to formulate when I worked in Louisville and it took several years to come to fruition at Schlafly. Now, every time we bottle it or I get to have a sip of it, it takes me back to the first time I served it to customers at my first beer dinner ever at the Rathskellar in the Seelbach Hotel in downtown Louisville.

My personal favorite is our Witbier from this year. We actually went to a farm in Alhambra, IL and filled 50 pound bags of wheat straight from the combine in the field! We added this as the unmalted wheat portion of our grist (weeds, chaff, and all) and the resulting product was unmatched. The clean, fresh, crisp bite balanced by wheat sweetness, orange, and coriander flavors made for a perfect beer.

6) Which beers outside of your own do you enjoy? What beer do you wish you came up with? Why?

I love Witbier and wish I had been reincarnated as Pierre Celis back in the day. Hoegaarden is one of the best beer brands in the world and I can only imagine what it would taste like at the brewery (when they move production back there soon). Sunshine Wheat from new Belgium, while a good beer when served in the Midwest, is a classic when enjoyed at the brewery. Upland Wheat is a great one that you can actually get fresh around here. I had one from Japan last night (Hitachino White Ale) that was pretty good too. Honestly, though, I enjoy our beer as much or more than anybody else’s. Since we make 50 different styles of beer, I always have a lot to pick from. And it is always the freshest (I am pretty picky about freshness if you can’t tell already).

Anything you'd like to add?

Come by and see us at one of our two pubs in St. Louis-Schlafly Bottleworks and The Schlafly Tap Room. All the info you need to find them and what is going on at each pub is at www.schlafly.com.

We have several new and seasonal beer styles coming out that will be available in very limited quantities in Indiana this year. Since I was born a Hoosier (grew up in Lebanon), I can’t wait to see these beer styles in stores all over the homeland.

Schlafly Special Release Christmas Ale

8% abv, 30 IBU, spiced with clove and cardamom, big malt flavor, 6 packs only, around $9.99 retail.

2007 Schlafly Reserve Oak-aged Barleywine

10.2% abv, 50 IBU, huge malty sweet beer with strong American oak flavor and hops balancing it out nicely, silk-screened 750mL bottles only (in commemorative box), $9.99.

2007 Schlafly Reserve Jim Beam Bourbon-Barrel-aged Imperial Stout

10.6% abv, 50 IBU, roasty, extremely bitter Stout meets sweet bourbon wood character, silk-screened 750mL bottles only (in commemorative box), $9.99.

Schlafly Bière de Garde

7.5%, 25 IBU, bottle-conditioned French farmhouse ale (similar to Saison) with tart, fruity yeasty flavors, silk-screened 750mL bottles only, $8.99


Schlafly Winter ESB

5.3% abv, 50 IBU, Copper colored, malty, English hopped ESB with the addition of rye for spiciness, 6pks only, $7-$8

Schlafly Coffee Stout

5.7% abv, 40 IBU, Black, rich roasty Oatmeal Stout with locally-roasted organic, free trade, Italian roast coffee added. We soak the ground coffee in cold water for two days and inject it into the Stout, adding clean coffee flavor without the bitterness or earthiness of a hot-brewed coffee.

* * * * *

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

23 October 2007

When The Average Isn't

A recent conversation with Cavalier Distributing's Mat Gerdenich about our scoring system led some of us into thoughts of revisiting the scores we've assigned in the past. While some sites and beer competitions rate based on how well a beer represents a style, we've never thought that way - our scores are based purely on personal preference. As a result a beer in brown ale style is likely to never be a high scorer - there's just not enough flavor or complexity in a traditional brown ale to wow us.

What's interesting is to go through our scoring history and see where our personal scores average out. Thanks to the hard work of Gina and the wonders of the spreadsheet, the knights now have that information in hand.

The joke amongst the knights is that I (Mike) traditionally hate beer, and by checking the average of my scores, there's an obvious discrepancy - but not as large a discrepancy as my fellow knights suggest.

It's interesting that Gina and I have close averages - we generally have the same tastes (dating 13 years does that to people). What's more interesting is that Chris and Jason have startlingly close averages* - which means that their foresight in bringing in four more knights was not just clever, it may have been necessary.

The other interesting thing is that the knights' average isn't really average. The average beer score for the site is currently 3.58 mugs - well above the 2.5 most of us use for an "average" beer.

Interested to see everything laid out in columns and rows? The spreadsheet, with scores by knight and by brewery, is available here for download (click free and wait 45 seconds).

*Averages so close that you wonder if they're secretly holding hands under the table.

22 October 2007

KOTBR #31 in Review | Wychwood Hobgoblin Ale @ the Chatham Tap

For Roundtable #31, the KOTBR convened court at downtown Indy's newest tribute to Old Blighty, the Chatham Tap, to review Wychwood Brewery's Hobgoblin Ale. We were joined by several of our faithful readers and by beer guru Mat Gerdenich of Cavalier Distributing.

Mike kicked off our reviews with a 2.3 mug rating for the Hobgoblin Ale, noting that it "wasn't a bad beer - it just wasn't a great beer."

Jim was next. Being Mr. Originality, he also gave the Hobgoblin a 2.3 mug rating, finding the beer to be "underwhelming."

Gina, getting into the autumn spirit with her craving for darker beers, entered a 2.75 mug rating for the Hobgoblin. She didn't necessarily dislike this beer, but she "was certainly disappointed by the lack of flavor."

Jason batted clean-up, tying everything together with a nice bit of perspective on English beers. He gave the Hobgoblin a 3.0 mug rating, stating that if he "were in the ChatTap drinking pints and watching soccer, [he'd] order it more than once." He also recounted his past drunken escapades at EPCOT, where he had quite a few beers and abused a donkey.

Roundtable #31 - Hey look kids, Big Ben, Parliament

When it comes to international travels, I'm sad to say that mine are very much lacking. I've spent a week in Canada getting drunk, and over the years, I've spent a week in EPCOT getting drunk.

Actually, getting drunk in EPCOT is a pretty good time. Especially right now, as they are having their annual International Food and Wine Festival until November 11th. Last year, my family and I went. My father, brother-in-law, and I decided to drink around the world. There are 15 international beers represented here, plus another 10 from Sam Adams. Yes, it was expensive, and yes there are better beers in America, but come on, what could be better than getting so drunk at Disney World that you start smacking random asses?

My apologies to Eeyore.

But if you aren't able to make it to Disney World, know that several Indy bars are able to cover your international desires. And between MacNiven's and the Chatham Tap, the beers of the UK are more than adequately covered on Massachusetts Avenue alone.

The ChatTap is a great place with several English beers on tap. On Thursdays, the English pints are $4. On this particular night, I tried 4 different draughts. In order, they were Boddington's Pub Ale, Wychwood Brewery's Hobgoblin Ale, Fuller's ESB, and Tetley's English Ale. In ranking the four, in order, they were Fuller's ESB, Tetley's English Ale, Wychwood Brewery's Hobgoblin Ale, and Boddington's Pub Ale.

With the exception of Monty Python and most anything on Channel 4, England is pretty reserved. And this definitely goes for their ales. We American's really relish being in your face, from extreme sports to film and television. And that goes for beers, as well.

So in many respects, I think our tongues are numbed to quality beers that don't pack a ton of punch in either the malt or hops categories. Which is probably why many are shifting away from imported beers to craft American beers.

Because of that, my initial thoughts were that the Hobgoblin English brown ale seemed watered down compared to other brown's that I have sampled. Of course, I seem to have to chew the other brown beers that I have had. So which is more correct?

And the aroma seemed to be very light. Or is it that my nose has been blown away by so many micro-brews that throw everything including the kitchen sink into their mix that you feel like you are smelling a smorgasbord?

When the Knights of the Beer Round Table review beers and assign scores, there is no scientific process. We score we as we please. Making us a bit like the Olympic judges for figure skating.

Yes, I made a figure skating reference. And I like Broadway musicals. You got a problem, wit dat?

In selecting a rating for this beer, it was difficult. This isn't a blow you out of the water type of beer. But I enjoyed it. It went well with the fish and chips that I sampled (thank you Gina). So how do I rate this?

I looked over the other beers we have reviewed, decided where it would fit in terms of drinking preference. In the end, I settled on a 3.0 mug (or would that be a pint, since we are doing the English thing tonight?) rating. It's good enough that I would order it again. It's good enough that I would even have some in my fridge next to the Guinness that I keep. And it's good enough that if I were in the ChatTap drinking pints and watching soccer, I'd order it more than once.

And a quick thanks to all who came out to drink with us, including Mat from Cavalier Distributing.

And apologies to everyone who is without children that listened to Mat and I go on and on about our experiences with family life.

19 October 2007

Don't fear big beer

Today's New York Times has this interesting op-ed piece (registration required; go to Bugmenot.com to avoid registration).

From the article:
JUST 10 years ago, the proposed merger of SABMiller and Molson Coors into MillerCoors would have worried craft brewers. Back then, “American beer” was thought of as a cheap product with very little beer flavor. But today the United States has by far the most exciting beer culture in the world, and America’s 1,500 craft brewers are undaunted by the prospect of a juggernaut that would have 30 percent of the domestic market. The age of American industrial brewing is over.

18 October 2007

All Beers Considered in Indiana's Beer Geek Bar Mecca

From our friends at Indiana Public Radio comes news of a fine fundraising event in beautiful downtown Muncie:

Come to Indiana Public Radio's first ever all beers considered at The Fickle Peach, and find out all you wanted to know about the world's oldest and most popular alcoholic beverage!

• Taste a sampling of brews from regional microbreweries

• Learn tasting tips from local beer gurus

• Bid on brewery tours & more in the silent auction

• Enjoy hearty snacks provided by Cassella’s Kitchen &
The Downtown Farm Stand

Admission: $15 advance / $17 at the door; call IPR at (765) 285-5888 or email to reserve your spot!

For those of you who haven't been to The Fickle Peach, you're in for quite a treat. A trip to experience Muncie's bars (The Fickle Peach and The Heorot) is one that no one should miss, and in this case you can get The Fickle Peach marked off your list and contribute to a nice cause all in one fell swoop.

And the preliminary beer list is pretty nice as well: Upland Wheat, Upland Ard Ri (a Chris Maples 5 Mug rated beer), Goose Island Matilda, Warbird Golden Ale, Bluegrass Brewing Co Bourbon Barrel Stout (Mike's current "favorite beer ever"), 3 Floyds Alpha King, Bells Porter, Founders Dry Hop Pale Ale, Goose Island Honkers Ale, and one of Upland's new Lambics. There's a lot in there that we can recommend.

For more information about the event, check out the official event poster here or listen and learn about IPR at their website.

Brugge Beer update

A message from Charlie Midgley at Brugge Beer:

Brugge Beer Is On The Way

Yes, it seems like 20 years since we told you Brugge Beer was coming. But we have finally received permission to begin brewing our beer at the new facility. As you read this, there are over 1,000 gallons of tasty goodness maturing in our Terre Haute tanks. The first batches of Brugge Black and Brugge White will be ready to be enjoyed on November 1, with our initial offering of Tripel de Ripple right behind.

Because of the limited initial quantities, we have decided to launch in several selected restaurants and bars in both Indianapolis and Terre Haute. On November 1, our new website will have a listing of these establishments. As production increases in December and January, we will begin to bottle all 5 of our Belgian Ales, including our Dubbel and Sacre Fleur Saison. Working with our distribution partner, World Class Beverages, we will be developing a list of liquor stores, grocery stores, restaurants, and bars throughout Indiana which will be carrying our products.

We appreciate your patience. This delay has been as frustrating for us as it has been for you. If you know of any restaurants or bars in your area where our beers should be enjoyed, please let us know.

17 October 2007

Roundtable #31 | Wychwood Brewery's Hobgoblin Ale @ the Chatham Tap

We're just getting into the best time of year for beer drinking in my opinion. The leaves are starting to change and they're filling the air with their distinct fall scent. The air, crisp and cool, offers a perfect opportunity to enjoy a porter - my choice for a warm-up at the Chatham Tap. I selected a London Pride Porter* from the abundant list of English style beers the 'Chattap' offers and was pleased by the Porter's malty goodness.

I wasn't quite finished with my beer when we decided to do the review round, Wychwood Brewery's Hobgoblin Ale, but it ended up working out for the best because I found myself going back to the Porter just to get some taste. While I didn't necessarily dislike Hobgoblin Ale, I was certainly disappointed in the lack of flavor. 2.75 Mugs

* - Beer is better than website.

Beer Diary - Mike

This is the first entry for beer diary on google. I'm proud of myself.

Instead of my normal list of five, I've just got one note that I hope our wide audience may be able to assist on. Since moving to Indy back in 2000 or so, I've been looking for an 11-on-11, full field adult soccer team to play on. Even a 6-a-side team would be great, really. Or even indoor.

Though I'm currently playing pickup on Tuesdays (and if you're interested, leave a comment), I've never been able to find a team - I didn't play college or high school soccer here, so I don't have the right connections. Anyway, if you've got a lead, let me know. The Federation of German Societies phone number doesn't work.

Sorry, I talk about soccer a lot.

The Beer

Current Favorite: BBC Jefferson's Reserve Barrel Stout

17 October 07 Location: Home

Stone Ruination IPA - During and after last night's soccer game, my taste buds alerted me that I was in desperate need of an IPA. I called Gina to check our current supplies, but the cupboard was bare. Fortunately I live near the Southport and 37 Crown Liquors location, and they stock a few one-bottle selections.

When I brought the bottle to the counter, the clerk said "that's an expensive one beer", which I thought was funny - the beer was $6, which I thought that was fair price for 22 ounces. That's probably a sign that I'm spending too much on beer lately.

The description on the bottle would lead you to believe that this beer is a total hop monster - warnings about destroying the pallet, the whole bit. But I suspect that Ruination has been around a lot longer than some of the hop bombs on the market now, because the beer is pretty tame - a skunky, hoppy nose leads to a citrusy taste with a surprising alcohol bang. This is a pretty nice beer - nothing particularly phenomenal, but a good cure for my hoppy IPA craving. I'd also prefer this to a Bell's Two Hearted, for example.

12 October 07 Location: Home

Rogue Morimoto Black Obi Soba Ale - The only thing I knew about this beer when I bought this beer was that it had the word "soba" on the bottle.

Back in 2001, I visited a friend who was teaching in a tiny town named Kochi, outside of Hiroshima, Japan. One of the places I visited while in Japan was up a little mountain road outside Kochi: a little 60's era schoolhouse turned restaurant, where I was randomly interviewed by a local newspaper reporter, and fed freshmade soba (buckwheat) noodles.

In buying this beer (and regular variety Soba Ale), I was hoping to somehow remember and recapture a bit of that trip. But there's more to this beer than my old memories. According to Rogue's website, there's a story behind the beer:

The Morimoto Black Obi Soba Ale is part of the Rogue Ales Signature Series with internationally acclaimed Chef Masaharu Morimoto--a James Beard awarded chef and one of the stars of the Food Network series, Iron Chef.

Black Obi Soba Ale is dedicated to Phred Kaufmann, Rogue’s Distributor in Japan for the past decade--an International Rogue who runs Beer Inn Mugishutei in Sapporo. Black Obi Soba is brewed with roasted buckwheat and malts (2-row pale, Munich, C-15, c-60 and Weyermann - note, this beer contains Gluten) providing a rich nut-laced flavor, while the 3 hop varieties (Horizon. Sterling and Cascade) blend to provide a refreshing zest. Morimoto Black Obi Soba Ale is packaged in a 22oz screened bottle and is available in select markets.

The result of Morimoto's work is a cloudy and complex black/brown beer, with a thin head, slight lacing, and a promising sweet nose of black licorice. The beer had a lively mouthfeel, and reminded me of Sam Adams Black Lager. It was fizzy on the lips, with a peppery bite throughout. Well balanced, but not exactly smooth, with notes of a stout-like chocolate as the beer warmed. Apparently this was a limited release beer, and a recommended one, at that. If it's true that it's a limited release, I'll have to pick up more.

5 October 07 Location: Deano's Vino

Brooklyn IPA - The newest thing on tap at Deano's - transparent copper color, with thin lacing. This beer looks quite lively. A sweet hoppy nose, with caramel notes that seems surprising once I've taken a sip - the nose goes away and is replaced by citrus and water - something about this beer reminds me of household cleaning products - pledge, for example. It sits well in my stomach, at least. After drinking this after a BBC Jefferson's Reserve, I belched up a taste very close to fried chicken livers. Odd.

Three Floyd's Pride and Joy - I'm still trying to come around on Three Floyds - Deep copper color, with a silky, spiderweb head and no lacing. A sweet tootsie pop nose lead to a full, yet somehow watery taste, with hoppy notes and slight pine bites. This is a pretty smooth beer, the mildest FFF effort I've had, and definitely the most agreeable. In my notes I've written "PUT DOWN THE HOPS - WHAT ARE YOU HIDING?"

1 October 07 Location: Home

Sam Adams Honey Porter - Bought as part of the recommended Sam Adams sampler that can be found at your local Kroger. The honey porter has a dark chocolate color, a light sawdusty head, with a sweet nose of chocolate and hint of alcohol. A sharp smoky front and a full taste that reminds of smoked meats, with a barely-there honey note. Nice, smooth, with a full mouthfeel - but not heavy. I expected the beer from this sampler to be a bit more "gateway", but they stand up on their own - there's enough going on to keep a beer geek satisfied.

Anchor Brewing Company Liberty Ale - a sample gift given to me by a non-beer geek friend who's just making his way into craft beer. Cloudy pineapple color, with a bubbly head and thin lacing. A buttered garlic bread nose leads to a bready taste - but also bitter and rough. Chewy mouthfeel - this one might have gone bad on the car ride home. At least I hope so. Poured in the sink.

28 September 07 Location: Home

Sam Adams Scotch Ale - Deep amber/chocolate color, slightly translucent with virtually no head. A sweet malty nose reminds of a porter, with a hint of cinnamon. Chewy full mouthfeel and taste reminds of smoked meet, but not like a porter - the taste is more thin and artificial. That's not necessarily a bad thing - this is a really interesting beer that leads an almond-like aftertaste. Hmm....

14 October 2007

Roundtable #31 | Wychwood Brewery's Hobgoblin Ale @ the Chatham Tap

As Mike noted, we convened at the Chatham Tap for Roundtable #31. This was my third visit to the Tap but the first time I tried anything from the beer menu. In the interest of brevity, I won't repeat Mike's sentiments on the establishment or its beer selection, with which I largely agree.

Since we met at a pub that prominently displays the Three Lions and St. George's Cross in the front window, I thought it only proper to focus on the Tap's English beers. On that note, I started the night with a Boddington's Pub Ale, which is an old standby for me from the many soccer tailgate parties I've been to. On the occasions that I've had this nitrogen-infused beer out of a pub draft can, it had a creamy mouthfeel and a smooth, drinkable flavor. But the Boddington's I had at the Tap was somewhat watery, lacking the typical Boddington's creaminess. I could only guess that my taste buds have become "shot" from drinking so many flavorful beers over the past year, or that perhaps the keg was old.

Wychwood Hobgoblin Ale--Sammy Terry's beer of choice?

Undeterred by the lackluster warm-up beer, I moved on (with the rest of the group) to our feature beer, Wychwood Brewery's Hobgoblin Ale. The Hobgoblin seemed like a well-suited beer for us to review at this time of year considering its billing as "The Unofficial Beer of Halloween." While Wychwood classifies Hobgoblin as a "Strong Dark Ale," it seems to me that it's really a brown ale (indeed, that's what every beer review site I've visited lists as Hobgoblin's style classification). I found Hobgoblin to be dark (it has a nice mahogany hue), but I certainly didn't find either the nose or the flavor to be strong. Part of the problem, I believe, was the temperature at which this beer was served. The proper serving temperature for an ale of this type is cellar temperature (in the mid to high 50s). But the Hobgoblin arrived at the table as if it had been stored in a walk-in cooler. As a consequence, I didn't get any nose off of this beer at first, and the taste was bland, albeit slightly coffee-ish. As the beer warmed, the nose pepped up a little, giving off slightly caramel, coffee, and toffee notes. But the flavor, in my opinion, was still underwhelming.

Mike is right on the money with his rating of 2.3 mugs on this beer. Hobgoblin is not a bad beer, and one that I'd be willing to try again. But there are better offerings from the U.K. out there (cf. Young's Double Chocolate Stout).

Before I close, I have to thank the HBG readers who joined us for the roundtable (come again!) and to Mat Gerdenich of Cavalier Distributing, who wowed us with his beer IQ.

12 October 2007

Roundtable #31 - Brown is Boring - Wychwood Hobgoblin

Warning: post contains soccer talk

Last evening four of the knights met up with six guests at Mass Ave's Chatham Tap for an evening of introductions and beer conversation. We were led by Cavalier Distributing's Mat Gerdenich, who provided us with a full plate of beer topics - from the struggles of a beginning beer business, the methods in which beer is introduced to a state, to the upcoming beer price hike (futher explained in this post at the Clipper City beer blog). Mat's advice? Stock up now, and expect to see price hikes in January.

We also reviewed a few beers. Because the Chatham Tap is an American bar aspiring to be British, I started the night with BBC's Nut Brown Ale - an English style brown made by an American microbrewery. This was a coke-colored, dead and dark looking beer, with a caramel and nut nose. It had a chewy mouthfeel and a smooth finish, with a taste that echoed the nose. It was a very agreeable beer, but I just felt like it needed a bit more "life" in it. Or maybe some hops, although that probably wouldn't fit the style profile.

Our featured beer was Wychwood's Hobgoblin, an authentic English brown ale. It had the same coke-color as the BBC, with a faint metallic alcohol nose, and a thin head. While the nose was somewhat promising, the beer was watery, with no front or middle, and a sweet peppery bite on the back.

Wychwood's website had this to say about the Hobgoblin:

Hobgoblin is strong in roasted malt with a moderate hoppy bitterness and slight fruity character that lasts through to the end. The ruby red coloured Hobgoblin is full-bodied and has a delicious chocolate toffee malt flavour balanced with a rounded moderate bitterness and an overall fruity character.

Sound really good, doesn't it? Too bad I didn't drink what they're describing. In any case, this wasn't a bad beer - it just wasn't a great beer. 2.3 Mugs

As for the Chatham Tap, it seems like a pretty nice place - soccer friendly, clean and classy, decent food... I'm not so sure about the England soccer scarf over the bar. They couldn't have gone with US Soccer? But maybe I just dislike Eurosnobs, and I'm afraid that the place is run by one. I guess in the end it's nice that we've got enough soccer-friendly options that I can complain about the scarves on the wall. At least they were nice enough to put the MLS game on the tv.

One of our guests noted that he had come in on a Saturday to catch a Fulham match and was turned away because football was on... not a good sign, especially considering that they've got Liverpool and Manchester United scarves on the wall. Hopefully this was just a mixup within staff - I can't imagine the owner is paying extra money for soccer channels just so people can be turned away. It makes me nervous though - I had considered coming downtown to watch a game, but knowing I might not be able to means I'd rather stay on the couch at home.

Chatham Tap also has a nice beer selection, but I wish there was a little more varience in the options. It's nice that they've got 15 English beers, but I anyone really interested in 15 English beers? Having drank my first two browns, I looked for a "go to" beer, a beer that I knew I was going to like. There really weren't a lot of options there, and I ended up with a Bell's Two Hearted - not a bad beer, but not a favorite, either. There's not really anything on the menu that's going to knock you out.

Having said all that, I enjoyed the Chatham Tap, and I'll be back - but there's definitely room for improvement.

11 October 2007

Roundtable #31 | The Chatham Tap

Just a reminder that we're heading to the Chatham Tap tonight at 8:00 p.m. for Roundtable #31. We welcome you to join us as we review a yet to be determined beer (something tells me that it will be from the U.K.). We will be joined by Mat Gerdenich of Cavalier Distributing for a little beer talk.

Last week, NUVO's Terry Kirts did a nice writeup on the Chattap (that's HBG's hip new nickname for the Chatham Tap--it was actually Jason's brainchild). Mike and I forgive NUVO for putting a picture of two Scum supporters in the article. We know that all the cool kids support other English soccer teams.

Hope to see you this evening!

Roundtable #30 | Retro Beer Challenge | Final Round and Champion

Here we are at the final round of the Retro Beer Challenge, with three contenders for the crown: Old Style, Budweiser, and Rolling Rock. Before we announce the winner, just a few notes.

The Worst: Jim thought Miller High Life was the worst of any of the beers we drank, but I'd have to go with PBR, which we eliminated in our preliminary round at the Melody Inn. It's kind of like choosing your least favorite dictator.

The Vomit: There was none. We drank four ounce samples, and because these beers average out at around 5.0 percent alcohol volume, we were easily able to handle them. I don't recall feeling drunk at all.

Added bonus for Utah, Minnesota, and Oklahoma drinkers: Budweiser in those states is 3.2% ABV due to state laws. So not only does it taste bad, but it won't get you very drunk.

The Winner: When it came down to picking a favorite, we each chose something different. Jim liked Rolling Rock, Kelly liked Old Style, Gina liked Budweiser. In choosing the sample labeled "B", I thought I was voting for Old Style - but as it turns out, I chose Budweiser as well. Which means our winner is Budweiser. King of Beers, indeed.

Jim calls this result "a rigged, St. Louis-ian conspiracy by two members of the Roundtable", but that's not the case at all - to be honest the differences between the three finalists were so small that it was really hard to choose one. On a different day I'd be just as likely to choose Rolling Rock or Old Style. They're really that close. So if you're somewhere away from good beer, but you're still looking to drink, any of the three are fair options.

The Post-Contest Challenge: After picking our winner, we opened up a bottle of Sam Adams Boston Lager to see if there was a noticeable difference between it and the Retro Beer contestants. Not only was there a difference, the difference was amazing. Sam Adams actually tastes like beer.

10 October 2007

Roundtable #30 | Retro Beer Challenge | Semifinal Round

We really could drag this out forever...

Because we'd already taken notes and picked out the outstanding flavors of all the contenders, all we had to do now is line them up, taste them, and pick a favorite. We were still working blind, and surprisingly enough, it was pretty easy to forget which beer was which in the process of pouring and distributing samples. We kept notes near the pouring area just to make sure.

First up: Budweiser vs. Schlitz.
I think we were all kind of hoping Schlitz was going to win this matchup, if only because Schlitz is by far the crudest sounds beer name of them all, ranking above both Arrogant Bastard and Old Leghumper. But this wasn't a name contest - and Budweiser's fruity, garbagey/white wine nose and well-balanced, crisp and agreeable flavor beat out Schlitz's slightly sulfury, "like someone threw an egg into the brewkettle" yet somehow "agreeable" taste.

Budweiser moves on to the finals.

Our second semifinal matchup featured heavy-hitters Rolling Rock and Old Style. You may recall from earlier reading that Old Style featured a "faint skunkiness, with notes of water and malt and a well balanced pissiness." Rolling Rock didn't have much nose, but the taste was reminiscent of a white wine; a little fruity, and a bit tart. When put head to head, the vote was split right up the middle, with two of us voting for Old Style, and two of us voting for Rolling Rock. As a result of our indecisiveness, both Rolling Rock and Old Style advanced to the final round.

What will happen in our three way final? Can pissiness beat out tart frutiness* or garbageyness*? Can you handle the excitement? Did any of us throw up? Place your bets, leave your comments, and tune in tomorrow for our next installment of.... THE HOOSIER BEER GEEK RETRO BEER CHALLENGE.

*these words are definitely not in the dictionary

*if you're wondering about PBR, we tossed it way back here

09 October 2007

Roundtable #30 | Retro Beer Challenge | Round 4 (St. Louis Region)

Two points before I begin--

1. I never again want to drink this much crummy beer in one sitting.

2. This Retro Beer Challenge thing was initially my idea, so I have no one to blame for my suffering but myself.

Round Four featured three beers from St. Louis. As you might imagine, they were all from Anheuser-Busch--Michelob, Budweiser, and Busch. All three had the same color (golden), but there were clear differences in nose and taste.

My fellow knights described Beer 1 as fruity, with a slight "garbagey"/white wine nose. Despite this odd combination, they agreed that the taste was "well-balanced," "crisp," and "agreeable."

Beer 2 had no nose whatsoever. The taste was described as "nothing" at worst to "seltzer water" at best.

Like Beer 2, Beer 3 had no nose. The flavor was described as having a "funky bite," though one of the other knights (I can't recall who) said that this beer reminded him/her of strawberries.

Beer 1--Budweiser--prevailed in this round. All of us except Kelly picked Busch (Beer 2) as our #2 pick, followed by Michelob (Beer 3).

The so-called King of Beers moved on to the semi-finals to take on everyone's choice as the dark horse, Schlitz.

Roundtable # 30 - Retro Beer Challenge - Round 3 (Great Lakes Region)

The third round of the Retro Beer Challenge featured beers from the upper Great Lakes region: Schlitz, Miller High Life, and Stroh's. (Damn you, plethora of Wisconsin brews screwing up our brackets!) There was very little difference in these three as they were poured -- the tasting produced the following notes:

Beer #1 smelled "like a hair salon", burnt and plasticky, and tasted slightly malty with not much of a hop bite.

There "wasn't much going on" with Beer #2; it smelled slightly sulfury, "like someone threw an egg into the brewkettle". An "agreeable" beer, Jim noted that he finished his sample -- a rarity on this day.

Beer #3 smelled "like someone has dogs in their house", and tasted "like cat poo". Flat and vinegary, this one was panned.

We were split on the rankings for this beer; we all picked Schlitz to move on to the second round, and Miller High Life and Stroh's tied for second place. Fitting, since adorning our table was a vintage Schlitz pitcher that Gina got from her parents.

Speaking of Schlitz, a look at their website shows that they're still using the marketing slogan "Go for the Gusto". Any of our dear readers want to explain just what the hell that means?

Big Brother just got bigger (and additional news)

Today, Reuters reports that Miller and Coors will merge their operations and become MillerCoors.


* * * * *

For an inside look at Brooklyn Brewery, and the story of an AP foreign correspondent turned brewer, turn your attention to this video at CNN. According to Charlie Papazian's Microbrewed Adventures: A Lupulin Filled Journey to the Heart and Flavor of the World's Great Craft Beers, Brooklyn's Lager is the best selling lager in New York City. Well, at least until Miller's Genuine Draft Silver Bullet Chill arrives in stores.

* * * * *

It's not exactly current news...
I'm not sure that most Indiana beer fans are aware of the lack of availability of Bell's beers in Illinois. Larry Bell had a rough go with his distributor, and due to Illinois laws he was left with the desicion to bend over or go home. He chose to go home. There's a nice (and old) article about it at the Chicago Reader (December 15th, 2006 edition).

07 October 2007

Roundtable # 30 - Retro Beer Challenge - Round 2 (Wisconsin Region)

As we sat down to sample all 12 of the Retro Beer Challengers, I think the realization hit us all at about the same time: "Oh god, I've got to drink all of these." While this statement was probably said in ecstasy by my neighbor, who inherited the leftovers, there was only regret in the minds of the participating Knights.

I don't want to knock anyone who drinks this stuff regularly - it's pretty much an American tradition to drink this kind of beer. But once you've gone on to something better, there's really no turning back. You've got to trust us on this - this stuff really isn't good. If you don't believe us, come on out to a roundtable some time - we can prove it in two drinks. I'll even buy.

Round Two featured three beers from Wisconsin - Old Style, Old Milwaukee, and Blatz. You might think that these beers are easy to find, but it took trips to multiple liquor stores to find them. Blatz and Schlitz (which is featured in an upcoming round) could only be found in 24 pack cases, and when we brought the beer to the counter at PartyPak Liquors, the clerk said "I didn't know we had this." Such is the grip that Bud/Miller/Coors has on the local liquor scene. Or maybe it's just lack of demand - we saw Dogfish Head products more often than anything from the Pabst family (click on "Our Beers" to see the expansive selection).

All three of these beers looked exactly the same, but there were differences in taste.

Beer 1 was described as malty, soapy, and bitter. Kelly noted "this reminds me of high school - shitty beer drank in a corn field."

Beer 2 had a bizzare smell - skunk and/or vinegar. It was described as bitter and flat.

Beer 3 had a faint skunkiness, with notes of water and malt. It wasn't as offensive as the others, and had a "well balanced pissiness."

As you can probably figure, beer 3 (Old Style) advanced to the next round, with beer 1 (Old Milwaukee) narrowly beating beer 2 (Blatz) in score.

And so, the Cub beer moves on. There you go, Cubs fans! That's what a win looks like!

Ok, low blow.

Roundtable # 30 - Retro Beer Challenge - Round 1 (Colo/Penn Region)

Knights Jim and Kelly were east bound and down to do the remaining rounds of the Retro Beer Showdown at our place on Saturday afternoon. The winner would be selected from a group of 12 divided into 4 geographical regions. Each of the 4 Knights present poured for a region while one of the others wrote about what everyone said.

Mike poured the beers and I took the notes for the first group which included beers from Pennsylvania and Colorado. The three competing for dominance in this bracket were (in no particular order) Coors, Iron City, and Rolling Rock. While all three were very similar in color, they offered a variety of smells and tastes.

Beer #1 smelled like "the Mel in Daylight", but wasn't necessarily offensive in taste.
Beer #2 didn't have much nose, but the taste was reminiscent of a white wine; a little fruity, and a bit tart.
Beer #3 was odorless, watery and boring. It offered nothing and was unanimously dismissed.

We were also unanimous in order selection for this group:

Rolling Rock (Beer #2) was selected to move to the next round,
Iron City (Beer #1) came in second,
Coors (Beer #3) was last. If only the Bandit knew what he was going after...

05 October 2007

Down at Fraggle Rock

Hey, you guys! For regular readers, you know that we sometimes veer a bit off the beer topic path like Rob, Dick & Barry to argue over our Top 5 1980s (insert topic here) lists. Such as the recent poll where it was overwhelmingly decided that The Breakfast Club is not a chick flick - Jason. For those of you that are annoyed by these discussions (when we talk about anything but beer), tough shit - it's our blog. I pity the fool! So I direct us off topic once again, and of course, we go to the 1980s (really, was there a better decade? Top 5 Decades of the 20th Century? : 5. 1970s, 4. 1990s, 3. 1920s, 2. 1960s, 1. 1980s).
If you were ever given in school the unfortunate news of the picture up above, you are definitely a child of the 80s. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, you probably weren't. But I stumbled on this site, www.80stees.com, where I found a shirt bearing this bad news and a lot of others that will send us down that sentimental journey over mass email where we talk about what it means to be a Child of the 80s. Just thought some of you fellow Gen X'ers would like to check it out.

KOTBR #29 In Review - Hoeven Heaven

Roundtable #29 saw all six knights (and Brent) together again for a rare full cast night out. Before meeting up with Chris at Deano's, we stopped in at the downtown Badaboomz location and sampled Konings Hoeven Quadrupple Trappist Ale, a Dutch ale that was a crowd pleaser.

Mike called the beer an enigma and "a nice punch in the brain" before awarding it 4 mugs.

Jim explained the life of a trappist monk before praising their work in awarding the Hoeven with a 5 mug rating.

Jason introduced beer photography to the blog and described Hoeven as a fruit medley of brown sugar, pop rocks, caramel (maybe?) - and then awarded it with 4.5 mugs.

Gina combined her review
with a beer diary entry, and became sad when she realized how quickly her glass was emptying. She gave Konings Hoeven 5 Mugs.

Kelly bemoaned the moving process and decided that Hoeven was good enough to inspire her to "go to the Hop Shop and buy up anything I can't pronounce". She then awarded the beer with 4.5 mugs, with opportunity for advancement.

Chris, because he arrived later in the evening, did not review. His loss.

03 October 2007

Roundtable # 29 - boxes and beer

I hate moving. More than that, I hate the feeling you get when all your friends leave, and you’re stuck with a mountain of belongings that won’t get organized/sorted for weeks. Or months.

You think it’s going to go something like this:

And it ends up going something like this:

Then the pirated wireless internet you were so happy to discover decides to crap out on you as you’re working on your Roundtable review, and then you find yourself finishing up your review when you should be working…

Ahem. On to the beer, shall we?

With all six Knights gathered together (at a real round table, no less!), we decided on the La Trappe Quadrupel from Brouwerij de Koningshoeven. Right away, I knew this was going to be an awesome beer - the yeasty nose with a hint of apple cider, the extremely smooth drinkability, the deceptively high ABV, the way all the Knights were grinning in tandem... seriously, I think Gina might have even been giggling! I give this beer 4.5 mugs, with opportunity for advancement.

I have very little experience with this style of Belgian beer, but this stuff makes me want to go to the Hop Shop and buy up anything I can't pronounce. I predict that my refrigerator will be a little fuller soon -- if I can make my way to it through these damn boxes, that is.

Free Beer is Good!

Everybody wants free beer, and for the past two months, Hoosier Beer Geek has worked with World Class Beverage and Big Car Gallery to provide it to you, our loyal readers.

We won't be having a free tasting this month. Something about a free beer tasting at a children's art show not being exactly appropriate. But mark your calendar for November 2nd when our free beer giveaway returns. More details to come...

02 October 2007

It's back! The Retro Beer Challenge

After completing the first leg of our Retro Beer Challenge we came to the realization that we really didn't want to drag out drinking crap beer, so this weekend we'll be tackling the rest of the field using the same format:

The Retro Beer Challenge is a different kind of beer tasting - a tasting of the common beer heavy hitters. We did this tasting blind, because this is a contest. We'll be reviewing all the "regular" beer we can get our hands on, in a tournament bracket format to find out which readily available beer lives up to the true title of Blue Ribbon winner - who is the real King of Beers?

In our first round we reviewed Budweiser, Rolling Rock, and Pabst Blue Ribbon, with Budweiser and Rolling Rock moving on to round two. This weekend's prospective list contains Old Milwaukee, Strohs, Busch, Hamms, Coors, Schlitz, Schaefer, Miller High Life, Michelob, Olympia, and possibly Blatz. You can't imagine our excitement.

We want to make sure we cover all the bases - with the exception of the light versions of the beers above - so if you've got any suggestions or notice anything we've left off, please let us know. We're only doing this once.

And hopefully we'll live through the experience.

01 October 2007

What's on tap?

I hadn't visited the Brewers of Indiana Guild website since the Indiana Microbrewers' Festival in July (sorry, guys). So, I popped in several days ago and discovered a resource (among the other great resources at the website) that I hadn't noticed previously--the What's On Tap page. If you want to plan a visit to a local brewpub and need to know what is being offered, this is the web page to visit. It appears to be updated frequently.