13 March 2008

KOTBR #41 | Hot Shotz, Part Deux

Editor's note - The title of this review comes from a somewhat dreadful film released in the early 1990s starring Charlie Sheen, and from the fact that this was our second visit to Hot Shotz. Our apologies for this lame attempt at humor, but the title just seemed to fit.

And so, to the reviews--

Mike -

In tribute to the excessive use of the letter Z in Indianapolis bars and restaurants - including two bar/restaurants I'm quite fond of - I will be using the letter Z in the place of the letter S in my review. Let me know if that gets annoying really quick.

I'm not zure whoze idea it waz to revizit Hot Shotz - but I'm zure that it waz a good one. Our bartender, the highly regarded Hanz, treated uz very well once again.

Firzt came a zample of Tröegs Nugget Nectar - a beer Hanz pulled from zomewhere behind the bar. Thiz one waz by no meanz bad - but it zeemed like a more watery verzion of Bell's Hopslam - all of the bitter hop bite without the creamy full balance the Hopslam providez. Next up from the zecret zelection waz Highland Tasgall Ale, a beer whoze flavorz were obzcured by the fantaztic BBQ zauce that came with a really great pulled pork zandwich. I don't know what I mizzed here, but that zandwich waz worth it.

Tröegs Nugget Nectar

Highland Tasgall Ale

Finally from beer geek friend Tamre came New Holland's Night Tripper Imperial Stout - with a zweet and punchy noze with notez of pine and rubbing alcohol, and a dead black color, thiz beer provided an aromatic warning that it wazn't to be toyed with. A ton of alcohol on the front faded to pine - with the obviouz coffee and chocolate notez that ztoutz generally provide. Thiz beer reminded me of hard alcohol ztolen from my parentz' ztazh when I waz much younger - overpowering, and not the experience I expected with that firzt zip.

New Holland's Night Tripper Imperial Stout

Alright enough with the Z's already.

And now, finally, we're at the beers for review.

Stone Old Guardian 2008 Barleywine

Stone Old Guardian 2008 Barleywine - A pumpkin-orange colored body supports half a finger of head. A bitter hop bite on the front of the tongue sticks with you in a way that makes the beer seem almost chewy. A hint of apple comes in on the back - but this one is hard to pin down. My notes say "I just don't know". But I did give it a score. 2.5 mugs. I've had other barleywines that I've enjoyed more.

Cantillon Brouscella 1900 Grand Cru

Cantillon Broucsella 1900 Grand Cru - As I put my nose to the glass something hit me immediately - the smell of Herr's Heinz Ketchup flavored potato chips. The body had an apple cider look with a bit of oil slick for a head. Taking a sip, the ketchup chip element went away, leaving a taste not unlike a sour sweet tart - but without the sweet. Mouthfeel was watery, but upon taking a drink the tongue collapses upon itself. This is a sour black hole of a beer that has it's own gravitational pull and sucks your face in through your mouth.

The last thing I noted was "taste like a doctor's office smells." Looking at my handy wheel o' beer, I'd say this one has a very high astringency.

The question I like to use in ratings is, "Would I buy this again?" - and I think I would as a one-off. I liked it for no particular reason at all - perhaps it was just that it was so different than the usual selections. 3.34 Mugs.

Despite what I suspect may be fairly average scores from the rest of the Knights, before we left Hot Shotz we all noted that we needed to visit more often - once a year isn't nearly enough. We know the beer selection is on point, but the food was really the star of the evening for me.

Gina -

It's always a treat to go to Hot Shotz. The beer selection is always great, the food is delicious, and they have one of the best bartenders in the city to boot (the beloved Hans). The last roundtable was, of course, no exception.

My night started with Jim's current favorite, Dark Horse Tres Blueberry Stout. The last time the Knights were at Hot Shotz, so long ago, I had the very same beer. I liked it then and I like it now. The intense blueberry aroma is not replicated in the flavor; instead, it is mellow and tres drinkable.

To our surprise and delight, we sampled a couple brews that were brought in by our friends Hans and Tamre. The Tröegs Nugget Nectar was a smooth, highly drinkable IPA and was followed by a Tasgall Scotch Ale from Highland Brewing Company, also good. Tamre brought us some New Holland Night Tripper, an Imperial Stout that was warming and chewy.

For our reviewed beers, the Cantillon Broucsella 1900 Grand Cru reminded me of apple cider vinegar. The taste was sour at first, but that sourness dissipated and turned dry. I think this would benefit from a pairing of food, fruit or cheese perhaps, yet there was something I couldn’t quite identify that made me return repeatedly to the glass. 3.15 mugs

Stone Old Guardian 2008 Barleywine – This had a complex aroma that initially reminded me of the mango soap in my shower. As it warmed, though, I got bubble gum and fruit in the nose. I can’t say I am a huge fan of barleywines in general and the ones I do like have been aged, so I may like this in a year or so. 2.5 mugs


Being in the midst of the season of Lent and quickly approaching Easter, a word comes to mind:


And believe it or not, beer geeks have a calling to sacrifice themselves for the common good, probably because we have a deep philosophical connection with the centuries of monks, Trappist and otherwise, whose practice of self-denial and sacrifice went hand-in-hand with the production and consumption of those delicious suds we all enjoy.

That is why, for your entertainment and education, we at Hoosier Beer Geek sacrifice our livers and credit scores by consuming as much beer as possible. That’s right: we do it for you, our loyal readers.

In the benevolent brother(and sister)hood of beer geeks, we also tend to sacrifice our stash in order to further spread our gospel of beergeekdom. That is why people like Hans and Tamre share their beers with us, and in some ways, with you as well. As we write about these beers, you get to taste them with your eyes and your mind.

Certainly, this isn’t the best way to “consume” beer. If you want to fully experience the balanced hoppiness of the Tröegs Nugget Nectar (an Amber Ale that pretends to be an IPA), the deep, earthy tones of Highland’s Tasgall Ale (a Scotch ale that is more than a wee heavy), or the schizophrenic flavor profile and Sammy Terry-like label design of New Holland’s Night Tripper Imperial Stout (chocolate, coffee, malt…all the flavors are invited to this party), you’ll need to procure some bottles for yourself…or really buddy up with some beer geeks.

For me, the sacrifice continues as I sacrificed my taste buds in order to review Cantillon Brouscella 1900 Grand Cru for you. Why I feel the need to continuously taste these lambics, I don’t know. Maybe I’m hoping that someday I’ll magically enjoy these sour concoctions. I had high hopes as the nose was very apple ciderish, but I couldn’t get past the Lemonheads-like reaction that I had to this with each taste. Here is how hard of a time I had with it: I couldn’t finish it. So obviously I didn’t sacrifice myself that much. Perhaps it is the fact that these lambics I’ve tried have been unblended. That Frank Boon Gueuze I had last week was definitely better for me. I will give this beer a 1.0, as I would probably drink this over Chelada. But what kind of personal hell would that be if those were my only two options?

In comparison, the Stone Old Guardian 2008 Barleywine seemed like heaven to me. If lambics are the real champagne of beers, what would that make barleywines? Some sort of red wine, I’d guess. I like red wines. And I am growing very fond of barleywines. Much like red wines, barleywines seem to improve with age. The 2008 has a lot of floral notes that overpower the malty notes. So I’m giving this a 2.75 mug rating right now, with the understanding that this will certainly go up if allowed to age a year or more. If you buy a bottle now, I’d sacrifice time and let it sit in a cellar for a while. You will be rewarded, I am sure.


Ah, the Cantillon Broucsella 1900 Grand Cru. I thought when I first stuck my nose in the glass that I was in for a sour cider-y brew. What I got when I tasted it was like vinegar. It had a wine-like finish, and I know there's more to this one, but I just couldn't get past the sourness. It reminds me of A-1 in that I couldn't taste it without the lymph nodes in my neck shrieking for mercy. I gave up after wincing through two thirds of it and moved on to the next beer. If you could see me now you'd see me sporting two downward pointed thumbs and blowing a raspberry. Maybe some day I'll appreciate this style, but there are plenty of other styles to explore in the meantime. ¼ mug

Stone's Old Guardian 2008 Barleywine. This I can get excited about. I think that the barleywine style might be growing on me now that I've had a chance to sample a range of them. This one in particular had an interesting blend of hops and caramel. It was bite-y enough (if you'll pardon the stretch I'm going to for this reference) that reminded me of the largest of Homer's opossums who had taken up residence in the monorail. I wasn't as sensitive to the alcohol flavor that some folks mentioned (perhaps due to the super-sour lambic reviewed above), but I certainly felt it, even from this one sample. Of course, I had participated in a ritual bloodletting earlier in the day, which might have something to do with that. 3.3 mugs


As the aggregator of our reviews, I bring up the rear and have very little left to say that hasn't already been said by my compatriots. Consequently, I'll simply supply my ratings--

Dark Horse Tres Blueberry Stout. We're not officially reviewing this beer, but if we were, I'd give it 4.25 mugs.

Cantillon Broucsella 1900 Grand Cru - 2.5 mugs.
I have a feeling that this beer would be fantastic with the right food pairing.

Stone Old Guardian 2008 Barleywine - 2.5 mugs.
This sucker needs at least a year of cellaring, if not more.


  1. I'm only one paragraph in and I already want to kill you Mike....hehehe....

    Back to reading the rest of the post.

  2. That makes two of us.

    I am very interested in trying this Grand Cru... Sour beers have become my new friend over the past 6 months. The Rodenbach Grand Cru is absolutely awesome if you ever get a chance to try that (supposedly Kahn's has it but I have not checked).

  3. Kahn's indeed has the Rodenbach.

    I'm with you on the sour beers, Rodney. I've always loved lambics, and after trying the Boon Gueuze at the beer dinner, I want to try more gueuzes. And while I didn't care for the Cantillon Grand Cru as much as I thought I would, I still wanted to try another beer from the same brewer. So, last night, I picked up the Cantillon Kriek at Kahn's (which is when I saw the Rodenbach).

  4. I forgot to talk about the Blueberry Stout. My description is simply: it is a stout with a bit o' blueberry. Tasty enough. Not enough for me to want to stock it in my beer fridge. I'm throwing a 3.25 mug rating at it.

    Aggregate ratings:
    Stone Old Guard 2008: 2.71
    Cantillion Grand Cru: 2.048
    Booberry Stout: 3.3 (based on Gemini, er, Jim and I)

  5. The next time you're in Chicago, I suggest you make a trip out to the HopLeaf. They have a decent number of draft Belgians and it's where I tried the Rodenbach. The Rodenbach could probably be best described as an incredibly tart, soured red wine with the characteristic Belgian yeasty full body. That may sound gross but it is delicious... assuming you like sour beers.

  6. Oh my god can I never type URLs correctly?


  7. Jason, I picked up a 4-pack of the Tres along with the Cantillon Kriek (which, by the way, I'm going to save for a future roundtable--the Kriek, that is). The Tres is definitely better on tap than out of the bottle, but it's still good.

  8. That's a pretty nice beer menu, Rodney. My wife and I are planning a Chicago trip this summer, so we'll check it out while we're there.

  9. That Stone's Old Guardian Barleywine looks like it's in a Tripel Carmeliet glass. Any idea of how to get one those for your very own? I've looked around and tried eBay (and asked MacNiven's if they would sell me one), but to no avail. Seeing that glass/goblet again made me pine for my own goblet...

  10. I put some feelers out on the glass - I'm guessing that somehow that came through Cavalier. I'll let you know if I hear anything.

    Just a thought: If you haven't already, you might try PartyPak or The Hop Shop - those are the only two liquor stores I recall seeing glasswear in.

  11. I found a webpage with .wav files of people pronouncing various Belgian beer terms (including gueuze) and thought you guys might find it interesting:


  12. Thanks, Mike, I'll check those. I did look last time I was at Jungle Jim's, but no avail, sadly. I comforted myself with beer instead.

  13. Here you go, Tbladder...

    Kahn’s sells glassware and may have some Triple K glasses. They are hard to come by.

    Mat Gerdenich
    Cavalier Distributing

    That's the best lead I've got. Good luck.

  14. Thanks for the link Corrnd - fun stuff and good to know.

  15. I just want everyone to know that I don't share Jim's thoughts that Hot Shots Part Deux is "somewhat dreadful".

    In fact, I think it's quite possible the greatest film of all time - or perhaps second to only Three Men and A Little Lady.

  16. I would echo Rodney's suggestion of the Hopleaf when in chicago. Also, the Map Room in Bucktown is a must hit as well in my book.

    If you happen to be at FFF's they have the Rodenbach Grand Cru on tap there as well.

    If you can get your hands on it Southampton Saison and Grand Gru are probably the best American versions of Belgians I've ever had. I am really liking that American brewers are taking on those styles. I also wish more places would try the wild ales like Russian River.

  17. If you are going to the beer bars of Chicago.. then you must must must go to the Maproom. It only gets rated as one of the top 3 beer bars nationwide. :-P

    I would definitely recommend the Kahn's on Keystone for glassware. I picked up a Rodenbach Grand Cru and a Unibroue Maudite goblet there last summer for very reasonable prices. If you go to the cooler section, they have a shelf all along the top with glassware next to the appropriate beer. I think the glasses were around $4 each.

    As to those sour beers, I am not much of a fan. I really like the Rodenbach GC. but that's about as sour as I like. The Duchesse De Bourgogne is another awesome Belgian Flanders ale that I would highly recommend. It is a blend of a young lambic and an aged lambic and has a real nice cherry flavor. I usually have 2 bottles on hand at all times.

    Lastly, I have to nitpick one thing. The Nugget Nectar has been brewed longer than Hop Slam.. so technically speaking, you should say Hop Slam is like an amped up Nugget Nectar. :-D Just to be clear, that wasn't something that was available there, right? I got the distinct impression that was coming from a private stash.

  18. The Nugget Nectar was from Hans's private stash.

  19. A fun note - Nugget Nectar and Hopslam are ranked numbers 30 and 31, respectively, on Beer Advocate's "Top Beers on Planet Earth" list.

  20. I personally really enjoyed Nugget Nectar. I can't really compare it to Hopslam. I love them both, but wouldn't interchange them apple for apple.

  21. I will be driving through Pennsylvania at the end of April.. I may have to pick up some Troegs. That is a brand that had really fallen off my radar until seeing it here again today. I have a feeling I am going to come back with about 6 cases of various East coast beers. LOL

  22. I really, really, REALLY dislike lambics. I am glad I am not alone.

  23. Mike, I also don't like Lambics. I am also happy that I keep popping up and seeing you and Gina when I least expect it. However, I went to the Beer Sellar Oberon Release and had Bells Best Brown on firkin...who wasn't there? The HBG. I was a little bummed.

    But thank you for the kind words in the review #41. It was great to see you all!

  24. There was some discussion about "do we post events that we won't be attending?" and it was my idea to go ahead and advertise those events as a service to our wonderful and loyal readers (even if they don't like lambics). Once upon a time the calendar was titled "HBG calendar" - now it just says "calendar". For future reference, events we definitely will be attending are marked with the "Roundtable at" designation. Sorry about the confusion - it's nice to be missed.

  25. I will take wonderful but not loyal. I had been M.I.A. on here for a long time due to all of my time out learning more about craft brews and visiting microbreweries. But I'm back in black!

    If you do decide to promote events you won't be attending, The Crooker and I have events all the time that even we don't make it to.

    Besides...I give the HBG love whenever I can!

    (framboise is good when mixed with youngs double chocolate stout, but i couldn't drink it "straight")