31 May 2007

Back by popular demand, a beer review done in style of haiku

It takes many cells
of brain to write in haiku.
I have so few left.

But will try my best
to give you, the reader, eight
good haiku reviews

If Brooklyn in the
summer tastes like this, I am
staying home this year.

Burton Baton is
a good scotch; incognito,
disguised as a beer.

What the Fraoch? This is
beer? More like a stroll through the
Highlands in the spring.

What does a sailors
delight have to do with a
farmhouse saison ale?

You can sip it; you
can swig it; you can gulp and
swig it: Aprihop.

Off we go to drink
the Warbird Thunder; high on
wheat, tastes like the sun.

Unibroue sixteen:
the real champaign of beer.
So sorry high life.

Black dog ale is not
a bad dog ale; be no bad
dogs, just bad owners.

Last review was lame;
so were my taste buds after
seven beers were gone.

Used chance to make a
social statement; like Bob said
"Spay or Neuter Pets."

Whatever Happened to Beer?

An article on Slate yesterday focused on the death of beer sales in America, which have grown less that one percent since 2000. Where have the customers gone? To wine. In fact, the article highlights, a 2005 Gallop poll showed that Americans preferred wine to beer.

What's this mean for the aspiring beer geek? Maybe not much. As the article points out, one of the reasons for the switch to wine is that the American middle class is becoming "connoisseurs of everything". So maybe the issue isn't so much that Americans are turning away from beer - maybe the issue is that Americans are asking for more from their beer. Which, if you ask me, is a win for everyone.

30 May 2007

Little glasses o' beer - The Hop Shop

I'm not going to rehash Mike's post about our roundtable at the Hop Shop. Suffice it to say that, like Mike, I thank Courtney of the Hop Shop for his beer sagacity and Jim Walker from INtake for hanging out with us to see how we do things. And wouldn't you know it, for this roundtable, we did things completely differently from the way that we normally do them. Sorry for switching up on you, Jim. I hope you had a good time and were enlightened nonetheless.

Mike's four-word review method was indeed my idea, but I have to confess that it was an idea that I stole from the music industry website Coolfer. So while I'm not completely original in my thinking, I stole the idea because I thought that it would be an easy way to review the murderer's row of beers that we plowed through last night.

Before I hit the four-word reviews, the "Little glasses o' beer" in the post title refers to the way that we drank last night. Normally, we each consume at least one full pint of the feature beer. But since we sampled so many last night, Courtney was kind enough to break out beer sampler glasses for us. We did things in small doses, which was a great way to go.

On with the show . . .

Brooklyn Brewery Summer Ale - You ain't no Oberon.
Dogfish Head Burton Baton - A perfectly peppery finish.
Fraoch Heather Ale - S***, I'm drinking grass.
Clipper City Red Sky at Night - Delightful Belgian farmhouse ale.
Dogfish Head Aprihop - Wow, this stuff rocks!
Warbird Thunderbolt Wheat - A good summertime choice.
Unibroue 16 - Stupendous, mysterious Belgian-style ale.
Black Dog Ale - Dark, smoky, altogether malty.

Hop Shop Publicity Stop

Last evening, the beer geeks met up at The Hop Shop for a beer conversation with owner Courtney and Jim Walker from INtake. Knowing that this had the possibilities of being my new five minutes of fame (replacing the time I made it onto the field at a St. Louis Steamers indoor soccer game at the age of 10), I made sure to wear a nice shirt.

Classy Logo!Jim asked us to behave as we normally do at a meetup, and this proved to be a little difficult; We don't have a very specific formula. We all decided to chose a warm-up beer and go from there.

If you haven't been to the Hop Shop, then you're in for a treat - shelves upon shelves of brews from all over the place, with individual samples available for each beer. Want to try six different beers? Make your own six pack and receive a 7% discount on the price of the six individual bottles.

The very expansive selection made choosing a warm up beer quite a task, but eventually I settled on Spaten's Optimator, a highly regarded beer that I had yet to try. Into the cooler it went, along with the following:

Brooklyn Summer Ale
Dogfish Head Burton Baton
Fraoch Heather Ale
Clipper City Red Sky at Night
Dogfish Head Aprihop
Warbird Thunderbolt Wheat
Unibroue 16
Black Dog Ale

As it turns out, I didn't make it to my warm-up beer until the end of the night; Courtney took the lead and led us on a beer tour de force, with lessons in history and chemistry along the way. It was quite the learning experience.

Normally, we try to at least pretend we're accomplishing something. But last night we were basically just drinking. Once we had reached the end of our samples, we decided to write what stuck with us. HBG Jim (I think...) suggested four word reviews. I'll give that a shot.

Brooklyn Summer Ale: I've certainly had better.
Dogfish Head Burton Baton: See also Conquest Ale.
Fraoch Heather Ale: This one? Mashed Potatoes.
Clipper City Red Sky at Night: So.. was this red?
Dogfish Head Aprihop: I'd try this again.
Warbird Thunderbolt Wheat: Airplanes! Indiana! Sheet-Metal Blonde!
Unibroue 16: Nice work, Uni Dudes.
Black Dog Ale: I now remember nothing.

So there you have it. 4 word reviews (almost). Hopefully you can make out which beers I liked.

Thanks to Courtney at the Hop Shop for the beer lessons, and to Jim at INtake for the exposure.

KOTBR Review # 19 - Three Floyds Gumballhead

For the latest review, the Knights of the Beer Roundtable convened yet again at Buffalo Wild Wings (soon to morph into BadaBoomz) to try out Three Floyds Gumballhead.

Mike was the first to chime in, claiming himself to be a "Dumballhead" for not sufficiently cleansing his palate before the review:

Although it seemed as if my fellow geeks were very impressed with the Gumballhead, I felt like it was just a fair option, and not a beer I was impressed with enough to give a second chance. Then again, maybe it just doesn't go well with boneless wings. I'd give it 2.5 mugs.

Then I posted my review (complete with advice to Fred Sanford-loving special education teachers), in which I confessed my love for Gumballhead and favorably compared it to Bell's great double IPA, Hopslam:

While not on par with the Hopslam's flavor, Gumballhead's taste is nonetheless formidable. It's sweet on the front of the tongue and dry and bitter on the back. The flavor is heavy on those Amarillo hops, which lends the taste a striking combination of citrus and evergreen. . . . This is a 4.5 mug beer for me; it's certainly one of the best that we've reviewed.

Finally, Jason posted his review, giving us all an excellent overview of wheat beer varieties before giving Gumballhead his seal of approval:

And, if you are in the right frame of mind (as Jim was), you would even swear that you could smell bubble gum. I'm sure that's completely unintentional. In terms of taste, it has a great wheat taste without the wheat aftertaste. There are a number of fruity hints. And a fair amount of hop bite to it without being super bitter. Like Jim, I give this beer a 4.5 mug rating.

Chris was too busy recovering from cavorting with hippies in the Haight to post his review, although he tells us that he will soon post a review of Northern California's finest breweries when time permits.

28 May 2007

Time to Weizen Up

There are so many wonderful micro, craft, and imported beers available that it is easy for even the biggest of beer geeks to get confused from time to time. Even though 98% of the beers can be classified as ale or lager, both include a wide variety of beers, creating dozens and dozens of sub-sets. Because of this, it can be difficult to know the difference between a witbier, a hefeweizen, and an American pale wheat ale. And even within the American pale wheat ale sub-sub-category, there is a wide range of options.

Let's take, for example, three APWA's that I have consumed on tap in the past month: Goose Island's 312 Urban Wheat (from a recent trip to Chicago), Bell's Oberon (recently reviewed here), and Three Floyd's Gumballhead. (the subject of our most recent review). Three beers with the same classification, but three beers with completely different identities.

The 312 Urban Wheat is a fine beer that is perfect for better-beer beginners. You ever go to a microbrewery that doesn't serve the big domestic trio (Bud, Miller, Coors) and hear a waiter or bartender say, "You should try our Beer X...it's just like Bud Light". That's what 312 is to Goose Island, in my opinion. It's a very light colored, light bodied beer without any identifiable flavors in it. It's an ale pretending to be a lager. It's at the low end of the APWA spectrum and would probably garner a 2.5 mug rating from me.

Now take Bell's Oberon, which I gave a 4 mug rating to back in April. It is still an easy drinking beer but with more depth and flavors than the 312. It is more complex and has more flavor. An exclusive Big 3 drinker would have to take a bigger step up to get to this beer compared with the 312. It's the sort of beer that this beer geek keeps stocked in his beer fridge and doesn't fear sharing with non-beer geeks.

Which brings me to Gumballhead, the American Pale Wheat Ale from Three Floyd's in Munster, Indiana. I should say right off the bat, I'm no stranger to Gumballhead. But this is the first time I've had it one tap. And we all know that beer on draught and beer in a bottle has different characteristics. It pours with a cloudy, light amber appearance. The beer wasn't over carbonated, which is not surprising from a bar whose manager really knows beers, so the pint didn't pour with a huge head. The aroma was a mix of citrus fruits, juicy and sweet. And, if you are in the right frame of mind (as Jim was), you would even swear that you could smell bubble gum. I'm sure that's completely unintentional. In terms of taste, it has a great wheat taste without the wheat aftertaste. There are a number of fruity hints. And a fair amount of hop bite to it without being super bitter. Like Jim, I give this beer a 4.5 mug rating. Gumballhead is close to being a Hefeweizen, which American Pale Wheat Ales are descended from.

Oh, as for the difference between a witbier, a hefeweizen, and an American pale wheat ale, let me share how I understand them. Witbier is a Belgian Ale that is heavy on wheat and often spiced with coriander, orange peel, or other flavorings. If you moved the Witbier to Germany, removed the added flavorings, you'd have a strong Hefeweizen. Now take the beer to America, use yeasts that don't add the banana and clove flavors found in Hefeweizen, and you have an American Pale Wheat Ale.

27 May 2007

Stunning wheat: Three Floyds Gumballhead

I've been told that as you age, your sense of taste tends to diminish. I'm not sure of the validity of this claim, but I do know that as I've gotten older, I have gravitated toward beers with stronger flavors. I suppose that's why I joined the Knights of the Beer Roundtable--to share my love of distinctive-tasting beer with like-minded folks.

So it might not surprise you to learn that American wheat ales normally aren't my thing. It's not that beers falling into this category taste unpleasant to me. In fact, I quite like Bell's Oberon, as I've noted previously. But American wheats are a bit on the mild side for my preference. When I sit down for a pint, I want something that grabs the tongue (in a good way, of course).

So when I learned that our feature beer, Three Floyds Gumballhead, is a wheat beer, I wasn't quite sure what to expect. I'd heard that the stuff was loaded with hops, which is atypical for an American wheat. I'd also heard that Gumballhead is awesomely good, but I tried not to let the word on the street among other beer geeks predispose me toward giving a favorable review to this beer.

So to see how Gumballhead truly measures up to the greats of the beer world, I warmed up with the mighty Hopslam from Bell's, which is a KOTBR favorite. To BW3's credit, they had the Hopslam as a cask conditioned beer, so it was served at a warmer temperature. This enhanced the already heavenly flavor of the beer even more. I eagerly await Bell's release of the next batch of this outstanding ale.

Then it was on to the Gumballhead. This wheat beer poured fairly clearly with a color that was between straw and amber. When the server brought my pint to the table, the beer had just the faintest remnant of a head. Gumballhead is made with Amarillo hops, which gave the beer a boat-load of character. The nose on this beer is unbelievable. On first sniff, I got smacked in the face with a lovely citrus overload. Upon a second sniff, I smelled, interestingly enough, bubble-gum. I wondered whether the name of the beer was coloring my perception of the beer's aroma (the beer is actually named for a bizarre comic character), but a third sniff confirmed the bubble-gum smell. I pictured the Dubble Bubble that, as a kid, I found in my candy bag on Halloween after a good night of trick-or-treating.

While not on par with the Hopslam's flavor, Gumballhead's taste is nonetheless formidable. It's sweet on the front of the tongue and dry and bitter on the back. The flavor is heavy on those Amarillo hops, which lends the taste a striking combination of citrus and evergreen. As weird as this may sound, Gumballhead's flavor made me think of what a Douglas fir might taste like if it were soaked in lemon and grapefruit juice. That might come across as an unpleasant image, but it's not meant to be negative as Gumballhead's flavor was excellent.

This is a 4.5 mug beer for me; it's certainly one of the best that we've reviewed.

One last note--I have to give our server a thumbs-up for the Fred Sanford t-shirt she was wearing:

She also wanted to pass on a tip about this piece of apparel--if you happen to teach special education, don't wear it to class.

I also wish to give a huge thumbs up to Buffalo Wild Wings for their outstanding beer menu. I'm looking forward to visiting the establishment when it soon becomes BadaBoomz.

25 May 2007

I'm a Dumballhead

Back in the days when I was just reading this blog instead of writing for it, I decided that Bell's Hopslam was worth my hard earned money. I based this decision on the stellar reviews written by those who were to become my co-Knights. But a funny thing happened when I got the Hopslam home; I hated it.

That experience has stuck with me, and as a result I try to be as conservative as possible when reviewing a beer. The highest score I've given a beer to date was 4 mugs (Brugge's Quadripple). I gave Bell's Oberon 3.5 mugs, even though it's my first choice when I'm in the liquor store.

So I think it's only right to say that last night's tasting was tainted by 10 or so of BW's mild boneless wings. Although I figured that mild wings would be weak enough that I could shake their taste, I was sadly mistaken. I suppose that rule one of reviewing beer would be to not ruin your pallet... and I failed right off the bat. Please keep that in mind as you read further into this review.

I started the night with a Hopslam (I'm coming around on Hoppy Beers, actually) and the wings, and then moved on to Three Floyd's Gumballhead, our chosen beer. It was hard to decifer the nose on this beer, but I did pick up a distinct hop odor that was strong enough to cut through my runny nose issues. The beer also had a very hoppy front, which might have been shocking had I not warmed up with the Hopslam. The beer was golden and transparent in color, not unlike most standard American beers. I felt that the back end and aftertaste of the beer was almost watery, but that may have been due to the boneless wing precursor. I wasn't very far into the glass before I started belching up the flowery taste of hops.

Although it seemed as if my fellow geeks were very impressed with the Gumballhead, I felt like it was just a fair option, and not a beer I was impressed with enough to give a second chance. Then again, maybe it just doesn't go well with boneless wings. I'd give it 2.5 mugs.

Have a Brew-Ha-Ha

(taken directly from IndianaBeer):

Brew-Ha-Ha 2007 will be held on June 23, 2007, 3-7pm in the 700 block of N. Park Ave. right in front of the theatre (Park Avenue between Massachusetts Avenue and E. St. Clair St.). Indy's original microbrew festival returns for its 12th annual event. Join us for the area's finest microbrews and craft beers, terrific food, and live music all afternoon long.

Advance sale tickets are just $20 (tickets are $25 the day of the event). Designated Driver tickets (for non-drinkers) are just $10. It's easy to order your tickets in advance:

Alcatraz Brewing Co.
Barley Island Brewing Co.
Bloomington Brewing Co.
Brewers of Indiana Guild
Broad Ripple Brewing Co.
Buffalo Wild Wings Grill & Bar Downtown
Cavalier Distributing
Dick's Bodacious Barbecue
Hamilton Beverage
Kalamazoo Brewing Co. (Bell's)
Marco's PizzaNew Albanian Brewing Co.
Nine G Brewing Co.
Oaken Barrel Brewing Co.
Pure Beverage Co.
Ram Restaurant and Brewery
Red Stone Meadery
Rock Bottom Brewery
Shoreline Brewery
21st Amendment
Turoni's Main Street Brewery
Upland Brewing Co.
Woodchuck Cider
World Class Beverage
Zink Distributing

Performing at Brew-Ha-Ha 2007:
The Elect
3 Miles High
Alpha Primitives

Proceeds from Brew-Ha-Ha go to The Phoenix Theatre's Annual Fund Drive and support the theatre's year-round artistic, educational, and outreach programs.

24 May 2007

"Change of venue"

That's fancy lawyer talk for moving the proceedings to a different court. And that's what we've decided to do tonight. Originally, we intended to do tonight's roundtable at the new BARcelona Tapas restaurant, but our beer sources tell us that the beer menu will not be complete. So, we discussed going to Chumley's in Broad Ripple considering that they have 50 beers on tap. But we did an about-face yet again when we got word that the downtown Buffalo Wild Wings is blowing out pints of microbrews at the bargain-basement rate of $3.00 a pint before the restaurant goes into its cocoon for a little while before emerging anew as BadaBoomz.

Therefore, we'll be reviewing Three Floyd's Gumballhead at the downtown Buffalo Wild Wings on Maryland Street. That's where we did our last review, but we're all about sound economical choices. As always, feel free to join us. As always, we'll begin our proceedings at 8:00 p.m. with a warm-up beer.

21 May 2007

3 buck pints

From Mike DeWeese at BW3s downtown:





20 May 2007

Log Jam

I know I'm behind on posting my review of BW3s (which was excellent), and I have some great stuff to report from breweries in the Bay Area from my trip. With being gone all last week and orienting 12 summer interns this week, it may take me a while, but I promise that I will get there!

19 May 2007

On the German beer trail

Very cool article from today's New York Times (registration required; go to Bugmenot if you don't want to be bothered with registration). During his travels, the author stayed in a brewpub that doubles as a hotel. That sounds like a heavenly place to stay....

This will be deleted and reappear elsewhere soon

Deano's Vino, Fountain Square, Indianapolis

Dead center of the Fountain Square neighborhood lies Deano's Vino, a bar/restaurant better known to locals as one of the city's more relaxed wine drinking establishments. Don't let that scare you off - Deano's has (just) three taps, all stocking craft beer - usually a Bell's product, something from Crooked Tree, and a wildcard. In addition there's a craft-heavy bottled beer list that's 30+ deep. Sit at the bar (try to get one of the much more comfortable larger stools - shouldn't be a problem this early) and watch and listen as bartender Nick repeatedly lays into the clientele. Do not expect fast service at Deano's - it's not going to happen. Instead, be patient, enjoy your beer, and have a conversation with the folks around you - you'll soon realize that everyone at Deano's is a regular.

8 P.m.
A Table With A View

You won't have to go far from Deano's (just across the street, actually) to check out Shelbi Street Cafe and Bistro's rooftop garden. Choose from the cafe's extensive seasonable menu, add an outdoor rooftop view of the city, and you're sure to have a winner. Shelbi Street also features a nice little beer menu, and the Bread Pudding desert is a nice way to top off a stomach filled with beer.

10 P.m.
No Ducks Will Be Harmed

Don't leave the building! Hopefully you've made reservations early, because Duck Pin Bowling is a popular weekend activity in Fountain Square. Duck Pin bowling is a ten-pin game, but you use a softball-sized ball. It's a very 50's sort of thing, and the 11 p.m closing time means you'll be back to the hotel and get enough sleep in for tomorrow's marathon drinking session.


8 A.m.

Fish or Pancakes?

Be late and expect a wait when trying to eat at the cozy City Cafe. The breakfast menu features interesting spins on classic breakfast recipes, and a regular Saturday morning special option - either a specially (and rarely repeated) pancake option - or a fish option. I tend to trust the chef and go with whatever they're doing with the pancakes, but the fish (for breakfast!) special usually looks like a winner as well. Of course if you'd prefer something else, the battered french toast or the eggs benedict are tasty options.

9 A.m.
A Slight Respite Before The Gauntlet

After filling your belly, head across the street to the north side of Veterans Memorial Park, and the newly redesigned Indianapolis Central Library. Reopened in 2008, the library project was overrun with construction problems and came in way overbudget. But the building is spectacular, and the downtown views from the upper floors are quite an asset.

2 P.m.
Figure out Who's the Designated Driver Beforehand, and Get Your Afternoon Drunk On

Brugge Brasserie, Broad Ripple, Indianapolis

Head to Indy's Broad Ripple neighborhood and settle into a chair on the porch or deck at Brugge Brasserie, where you can watch the locals passing by on the nearby Monon Trail. While the upstairs bar offers a nice assortment of foreign and domestic beer options, you'll want to start off with the Black - a beer that might be Brugge's calling card. Pair your Black with an appetizer of frites (fries); If you've got company order the L'Enorme - the myriad of sauces make for good conversation. For a main course, try anything off the menu - the crepes, mitrailettes (sandwiches), soups, and mussels are all winners here. Before leaving, be sure to have a Tripel (and remember there's a two Triple limit). Stop there, though - you're just getting started with the drinking.

4 P.m.
Nevermind the Bollocks, It's the Broad Ripple Brewpub

Broad Ripple Brewpub, Broad Ripple, Indianapolis

Instead of getting back in the car, head north (by foot) on the Monon Trail about two blocks to the Broad Ripple Brewpub, Indiana's oldest. Established in 1990, the brewpub specializes in authentic English style beer - usually under-carbonated and supremely sessionable. While any of the beers on the menu are worth a shot, we usually start with whatever they've got on cask. If you're lucky enough to catch the porter on cask, watch out - you may never want to leave.

6 P.m.
Watch for Girls Drinking Pitchers of Framboise

If you've still got the stomach for it, take a walk to over to Chumley's Beer House before the college kids show up. Featuring 50 taps (roughly 25 craft), you're sure to find something you haven't had before. If I were you, I'd get out of there before the place gets too busy. Then again, I hate people.

9 P.m.
Pizza is the Perfect Drunk Food

Hopefully you've been eating a little along the way, but you'll want to finish up with the city's best pizza. Bazbeaux Broad Ripple (811 E Westfield Blvd, Indianapolis, (317) 255-5711) features a variety of modern pizza options, all of them tasty. The Quattro Formaggio (romano, cheddar, ricotta, mozzarella, provolone, bacon and mushroom) is a Hoosier Beer Geek favorite. And they've got a few beer options, as well.

10:30 P.m.
You're On Your Own Now

Find your way back to Brugge (for an on-tap Three Floyds Alpha King) or your hotel as safely as possible.


10:00 A.m.
Mass Ave. Awaits

A visit to Indinapolis wouldn't be complete without a visit to the shops and restaurants of the Mass Avenue district. Stop in at Hoaglin To Go (448 Massachusetes Ave, (317) 423-0300) for a filling breakfast before wandering over to Luna Music to check out the latest and greatest in music. Head towards downtown and stop in at Mass Ave Toys (409 Massachusetts Ave, (317) 955-8697) and pick up something for the young one at home.

And if you still want to drink (...you're a harder man than I), there are plenty of bars around - The Rathskeller, MacNivens, Chatham Tap and Old Point all have craft beer options.

16 May 2007

Contest #1 Winner Announced

Congratulations to our first contest winner, new reader Rodney, who is soon to have a World Class Beverages Beers of the Month Calendar to show off to his friends and family. In addition to being a calendar winner, Rodney is also quite intelligent, and is loved by children and attractive women. All because of a contest on HoosierBeerGeek.com.

Rodney, please send me your mailing address at mike@ridehorsey.com, and I'll get that right out to you.

14 May 2007

You may not be so lucky

Meeting 18 of the Knights of the Beer Roundtable was unlike any other in that it was the first time we were wanted. Michael DeWeese, owner of the downtown BW3's, contacted Chris and asked him to bring us by to check out their selection of beers.

When thinking of BW3's, maybe the last thing I'd think of is beer selection, but as it turns out Michael is doing things a little bit differently than most BW's. As a result of this deviation from the template, Michael and his business partner Doug are moving the downtown location away from the BW3's concept, and creating a new restaurant named BadaBoomz.

As it stands currently, the downtown BW3's location has 40 taps, starting with your standard Anheuser-Busch products and ending up somewhere far away from anything standard. Once the transformation is complete, Doug claims they'll have 15 drafts no one else is offering - and an even more expansive beer selection than they currently stock.

We started the night with a George Gale & Co. Ltd Conquest Ale, a dull, flat looking reddish-orange drink that smelled of citrus and apple cider. The first taste brought out more of the apple - a strong taste that felt almost soupy on my tongue. This wasn't a hoppy beer, and the taste of alcohol wasn't overwhelming, but you couldn't drink a lot of this - and I don't think you'd want to. It was more a beer for sipping and trying to get your head around.

Our second sample was a 2003 Stone Brewing Company Double Bastard Ale. This had a similar appearance to the Conquest, but poured with a little more head. The nose was sweet and appley, also like the Conquest. But despite the introduction to the style with the Conquest Ale, the Double Bastard was surprisingly strong. Doug described the beer as a baseball bat to the face, and I'd agree with him. It's a bitter beer, but not hoppy... really nothing like anything I'd tasted before.

Both the Conquest and the Double Bastard taught me that not all beers are for quick consumption - some beers are meant to be sipped at, thought about, and discussed. I'd say it's almost a wine aficionado approach; dangerously close to beer snobbery. These beers seems to almost require as many brain cells to understand as they destroy. I'd give both a solid 3 mug rating.

We finished up the night with a Brewery Van Steenberge Piraat ($6.75 per glass), an amber IPA from Belgium. This beer was a nice way to finish up the evening, being a bit milder than our previous choices. The beer had an golden/orange yet transparent appearance in the glass, and a sweet smell that somehow reminded me of Brugge's Black. It had a sweet, almost bubblegum-like taste that hinted at its high (10%) alcohol content. I can tell that this was my last beer of the night; under the category of drinkabilty I wrote the words "I CAN SENSE THE DANGER!". I'm not sure what that's supposed to mean, but I suspect it means that I could drink a lot of it. I'd give it a 3.5 mug rating.

Getting back to the title of the post, I can't promise you that you'll find the same beers we had at BW's. Both the Conquest and Double Bastard came from Michael's personal stash. But that shouldn't stop you from checking out BW's (and BadaBoomz) selection if you get the chance. With the expansive selection you're sure to find something that fits your pallet.

My thanks go out to Michael and Doug for sharing their passion and beer. I'm sure we'll be back when BadaBoomz is open for business.

13 May 2007

Sentimental Journey

So I'm 16 and I just got my driver's license. And like any teenager in Columbus, I wanted to get out and enjoy life. This meant taking road trips to Bloomington and Indianapolis with my friends Bryan and the Bohemian and many others. The one draw back: it's hard to have (legal) fun in Bloomington and Indy without being 21.

Until we found BW3's on Kirkwood Avenue. They let those under 21 in. They had sports all over. They had chicken wings and kick ass burgers on weck (the third W in BW3's). And it was also the first time I was served beer without getting carded. This was a favorite hang out for my friends and I.

It is many years later. BW3's has dropped the Weck to become Buffalo Wild Wings Bar and Grill. The BW's on Kirkwood is long gone, replaced my a strip mall store on the west side of town. Even the BW's in the Village in Muncie has moved out to a strip mall way, way, WAY off campus.

But my love for BW's continues. And our most recent beer tasting was held at the BW's in Downtown Indy. And this will certainly be my last drinking experience at downtown BW's as the owners and corporate, having philosophical differences, have elected to go their separate ways. So after Memorial Day, BW's will close and later in June will re-open as Badaboomz.

What will remain, however, is the amazing beer selection. Forty taps. Many more in bottles. A collection of cellar beers that probably can't be challenged by anyone in the city, state, or Midwest for that matter.

We were invited by Michael Deweese, who is a partner and the resident beer geek. He brought with him another restaurant partner named Doug (whose last night I didn't write down). We talked a lot about the restaurant business and about beers. From his cellar, Michael brought out a 22 ounce bottle of vintage Stone Double Bastard (from 2003) and a couple of bottles George Gale & Company Limited Conquest Ale (from 2001).

Normally, I would expect 4 to 6 year old beer to be skunky. I was proven wrong. And really, it makes sense. IPA's were made to survive the long journey from England to India. They have longevity.

What's really interesting is what the beers result in. Instead of being the bitter, hopped up beers when they are first born, they sit in the cellar and come out very sweet. Over time, it turns into a beverage that would challenge most wines. The result is not a beer that you slam or drink one after another. It's a sit back and enjoy type of beer.

We tried the Conquest first. As expected, it poured with no head what so ever. It was amber in color and smelled of applies. It was sweet, sweet, super sweet, like a good barley wine. There were some nice citrus notes. It finishes with a slight, syrupy aftertaste. For me, it reminds me of a really good, non-peety scotch.

We followed with the Double Bastard. Again, it poured with no head. It has a sweet aroma, a creamy sweet taste with a slight bite up front, and left my mouth covered in sugar.

Both beers were great, giving me a desire to store away some beers myself. Though I can't imagine being able to store beer away for so long and not drink it. We'll see.

With both beers, I give solid 4 mug ratings.

We finished with Piraat, which Doug highly recommended. This is an excellent Belgian ale and is available on tap downtown at BW's. It is not overly carbonated, so when the reddish-golden elixir is poured, there isn't a lot of head. The sweet aroma was faint and I wasn't able to define what I was smelling. The taste was surprising, full of fruits, especially strawberry. The sweet maltiness of this beer was balanced with just a oh so slight bite of hops. The Piraat finished clean with little aftertaste. But be careful: this drink is 10% ABV. You wouldn't really know it when you drink it, so it is easy to go overboard on this. It was a good beer to follow up the cellar beers with. It possesses many of the qualities of the cellar beer without having to wait years and years for it. Incredibly enjoyable, I give it 4 mugs as well.

09 May 2007

Auf Wiedersehen!

From our new friend, Michael Deweese, who we're hanging out with Thursday night:







In case you didn't know, Michael is closing down is BW-3s location and re-opening this summer as BadaBoomz Ale House & Grill in his current location downtown at 15 W. Maryland St., as well as opening a store at 4930 Lafayette Rd.

This will be our first and last review in BW-3s, but we're eagerly looking forward to future reviews at BadaBoomz.

Contest #1, Revised

Well, despite the catchy name, my idea for a contest has gone over like a lead balloon.

Was it the prize? The storytelling part of the contest? Or was it just a bad idea all around? Perhaps we'll never know.

In any case, we'll move on. Leave a comment here if you're interested in a free World Class Beverages Beers of the Month calendar. If we get more than 3 comments we'll pull the names from a hat at the next meeting of the Knights (Thursday at BW3's).

07 May 2007

Spring into a good maibock

If you visit this blog with any regularity, you know that Bell's Oberon sets our palates abuzz when the warmer weather hits. But while we certainly give Larry Bell his due for creating such a fine beer, we're all about variety here at HBG. So, let me recommend to you another option for warm-weather imbibing: a tall and cold maibock.

Maibock is a style of bock beer, which is in turn a variety of German lager. Bocks are dark and malty. They have a stronger flavor and are higher in ABV (usually in the 6 to 7% range) than a typical lager. One of our favorites, Spaten Optimator, is a bock (a doppelbock to be precise). Because bocks are strong, malty, and dark, they are usually considered cold-weather beers and are normally available in the late fall and winter.

Maibock is a springtime version of bock. Maibocks tend to be lighter in flavor and color than a normal bock, but they aren't as light as a classic lager. They are also slightly sweet and hoppier than a traditional bock. Maibocks tend to have a fizzy quality and are well-suited as thirst-quenchers.

So where do you go to get a maibock? The Rathskeller currently has the Optimator's cousin, Spaten Maibock on tap. Order one up, find yourself a table in the biergarten, and enjoy the evening breeze and the downtown skyline.

Get Licked!

There is an interesting new beer event going on this weekend down in French Lick. Our friends at Upland have put together two days of good beer, good wine, and good music for your enjoyment and are calling it the Great Licks Craft Beer, Wine, & Music Festival.

It will start of Friday and go through Saturday. Tickets are $25 for both days, or $15 for just one. For more info, check out this link.

04 May 2007

Hoosier Beer Geek Contest #1 - The Chips Ahoy Challenge

The Explanation

A few months ago while we were conducting roundtable #15, we somehow came across the topic of Bud Light. It was then that I shared with the group my love of Bud Light and chocolate chip cookies.

Now, I don't like Bud Light by itself - I'm much too sophisticated for that; But when used as a chaser for an original Chips Ahoy cookie, the subtle greatness of both items come out, and a cornucopia of tasty wonderment fills the pallet. That might be an exaggeration.

It just so happened that immediately following my annoucement, a gentleman stopped in at Deano's to buy beer. Despite Deano's fantastic selection, I noticed he was about to carry out a 6 pack of Miller Light (which is basically Bud Light with a different label). I asked him if he had any chocolate chip cookies at home. He answered in the affirmative, and I told him to make sure he tried the tastes together.

He seemed like he was up for the challenge. I never heard back from him, but I'd like to think that he's a loyal beer geek reader now.

The Prize

Last week at Shallos we had the pleasure of meeting Jim Schembre of World Class Beverages, who explained the tools World Class is using to educate the beer buying public about craft brews. One tool is the World Class website, which features Beer 101, a beer finder, a store, and more. Another tool is the World Class Beverages Beer of the Month calendar, which explains all the different types of beers, what sort of foods they match well with, the type of glass that should be used to consume them, and the labels and beers that World Class distributes. In addition, it features all 365 days of the year, each with its own little box to write things in. It's really quite a handy tool, no matter which month you receive it in - like May, for example.

The calendar sells for $10 at the website, but we're prepared to give it to you for (almost) free. But first we want something from you.

The Contest

In order to win a calendar, we want you to share your Food/Beer stories - perhaps a story of an odd pairing, something that went horribly wrong, or maybe something that went surprisingly right. To be honest, we don't even care if it's your story. Just leave your name (any name you choose is fine) and story in the comments for this post, and at the next roundtable we'll pick our favorites. We'll then announce the winners of the challenge in a later post, and mail out your prizes. We've got at least 3 calendars to hand out.

Our next meetup is Thursday the 10th of May, so don't hesitate with those stories - we want to hear from you!

The Disclaimer

Prizes will only be awarded to residents of the United States. Sorry, Norweigan readers.