30 January 2009

Random Beer Roundup - There's football this week, I guess we'll drink craft beer

Apparently there's a football game this weekend. I don't really care. My team isn't in it. So personally, I'm looking past the Super Bowl. Two weeks from today, pitchers and catchers report to Arizona for Cubs spring training. I look forward to the start of another Chicago Cubs season. Because the eventual let down and disappointment to come just makes my bitter beers taste more bittery. Being a sports fan is stupid.

Being a beer fan, however, is not. And based on the recent Winterfest, we are not alone. We had 2,800 people attend, which unfortunately was capacity for us. We did have to turn away some walk-up ticket sales. That sucks worse than being a Cubs fan. There was a lot learned from this first Winterfest, some things that need to be addressed. But overall, a great success and a fun time. And next year will be even better. So thanks to all who attended. And a huge thanks to all of my volunteers. You can see pictures from Winterfest here.

It is time for the weekly Random Beer Roundup. Remember, if you have any beer news you want to share, drop us a line at hoosierbeergeek@gmail.com. On with the show...

Beer Events:
From Patrick at Patrick's Kitchen in Zionsville:
Join us for a great evening for beer lovers! Patrick's invites you to our INDIANA BREWS beer tasting, Tuesday, February 17 at 6:30 PM. We will have three appetizers, two entrees, and dessert, all perfectly paired with six Indiana microbrews.
From Cari at Kahn's in Indianapolis:
Monday Night Tasting featuring Mishawaka Brewing Company, 5-7 p.m.
From John at Big Red Liquors in Bloomington:
Don't forget about our free beer tasting every Thursday from 6-8pm!
And mark your calendar for a Beer Geek Breakfast (or Beer Geek BreakFest) at Brugge Brasserie in Indianapolis on Saturday, March 14th. More details to come.

News and Rumors:
Neal at L'Explorator restaurant in Indianapolis announced he is closing on January 31st. What does that mean for the 2009 Indiana Craft Beer and Food Symposium? Good question. We'll let you know as soon as we do.

Check out The Beer Spot for information on the Dogfish Head/Three Floyd's collaboration: Popskull

From Bob at Indiana Beer:
WLFI TV in Lafayette ran a story about 2 bills in the works; Election Day sales and Sunday brewpub growler sales. Even with the hiatus of alcohol laws this year, these may pass. The story has interviews with 4 liquor store managers and Greg Emig (of Lafayette Brewing Company).

Now on the shelf:
Price and availability are subject to change

From Mat at Cavalier Distributing in Indianapolis:
The Winter Beer Fest was CRAZY! What a great turnout! What a great event! Although we ran out of a lot of things (Stone 11th keg blew in less than 2 hours - WOOOOOOOOOO - we really were fortunate that Stone released that keg from their cellar for cold Hoosiers!) I am proud to say that the Cavalier crew did not run out completely. We were pouring beer till they turned off the lights!

Just before the single largest snow fall to hit Indianapolis in the past 13 years fell, an 18 wheeler form Boulder CO made it to our warehouse with the 2009 release of Mojo Risin on it! Look for it in 4 packs, bombers and kegs! See list below for those who pre ordered kegs:

Crown Liquors
Rich O's
Columbus Bar
Patrick's Kitchen
` Black Sparrow
Old Town Ale House
Constant Spring

What a great time to be a HOP Head!!!!! You got your Boulder Mojo Risin, Founders Double Trouble & Hop Slam all available! I heard talk of being able to take the Pepsi challenge between all three at the Old Town Ale House some time soon! Stay tuned for more details on that.

Also on a sad note Breckenridge 471 IPA & ESB prices will be increasing next week. So buy up now! The reality is these Big Breckenridge Beers have been under valued for what they are for quite sometime and this is just market correction. I know reality sucks.
From Cari at Kahn's in Indianapolis:
New This Week:
- Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA
- Sierra Nevada ESB
- De Dolle Stille Nacht 2008
- Two Brothers The Bitter End
- Breckenridge Pandora's Bock
- Sierra Nevada Harvest Ale

On Special (begins Monday, February 2):
- Breckenridge Christmas Ale $5.99/6 pack
- A Chouffe Brewery (750 ml) : Mc, Houblon, and La = $6.99, N'Ice = $7.99
- Whitbread English Pale Ale $6.99/6-pack
From John at Big Red Liquors in Bloomington:
Here are the latest new items at Big Red Liquors:

Two Brothers Cane & Ebel
Coney Island Blockhead
Sierra Nevada Torpedo
Sierra Nevada Bigfoot
Founder's Double Trouble
Buffalo Bill Blueberry Oatmeal Stout
Magic Hat No. 9

Now on tap:
Price and availability are subject to change

From John at Half Moon Brewery in Kokomo:
The KokoMonster is coming!!!!
Stay tuned to find out when.
Patrick at Patrick's Kitchen and Drinks in Zionsville:
WHATEVER WEDNESDAY: we are discounting the heck out of some of our beers on Wednesday, so check us out!

Carlow O'hara's Irish Stout
Great Divide Hibernation Ale (A Winter Warmer 6oz. pour)
Bell's HopSlam----------Back for a limited time only!!
Bell's Two-Hearted IPA
Gaffel Kolsch

Tilburg Dutch Brown Ale
Dogfish Head Palo Santo Brown Ale
Avery 14'er ESB Ale
Clipper City Winter Storm Imperial ESB
Boon Framboise Lambic
Bass Pale Ale
Victory Brewing Hop Devil
Clipper City Loose Cannon Hop 3
Looking Glass Cold Hop British Style Ale
Two Bros. Heavy Handed IPA (fresh hops)
Breckenridge 471 IPA (Small Batch)
Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA
Mad River Steelhead Double IPA
Founders Dirty Bastard Scotch Style Ale
Left Hand Milk Stout
Breckenridge Vanilla Porter
Dixie Brewery Blackened Voodoo Lager
Pranqster Belgian Style Golden Ale
Duvel Belgian Golden Ale
Bosteel Tripel Karmeleit
Stella Artois

Boulder Obovoid Empirical Stout (Oak Aged)
Brother Thelonious Belgian Style
Avery Salvation Belgian Style Golden Ale
Stone Brewing Arrogant Bastard Ale
Three Floyds Dreadnaught IPA
Great Divide Hercules Double IPA
Great Divide Yeti Imperial Stout
Stone Brewing Smoked Porter
LaChouffe Belgian Blonde
McChouffe Belgian Artisanal Brown Ale
Ommegang Hennepin Saison Farmhouse Ale

Three Floyds Gumball Head Wheat
Celis Belgian White Ale
Blue Moon Belgian Style
Harpoon UFO Hefeweizen
Shock top White Ale
Our man on the scene Chris reports on Zing's taps:
When we were in Zing on Wednesday they had THAT DAY removed Bud Light on draft and replaced it with.....Brugge White! How awesome is that? If every bar in the city did that, we'd be living in a better world.

This is what Zing's got on tap now:

Brugge White
Alpha King
Bell's Best Brown
Blue Moon
Sam Adams Winter Lager

Not too shabby. I just need to convince them that they don't need Blue Moon if they've got Brugge White....

29 January 2009

The Complete Rules of Becoming a Beer Geek Part 1: Equipment

Although we at Hoosier Beer Geek are well into our second year of bringing the public the best in beer writing, we realize that not everyone has been with us the whole way. We know that the whole craft beer thing may be entirely new to some of you reading right now. Worry not! We are pleased to present our newest venture:

Hoosier Beer Geek's
Complete Rules of Becoming a Beer Geek

Part 1: Equipment

Beer Geekdom is a hobby like any other, and that means that before you can start, you'll need equipment. Luckily you may already own many of the items listed below.

1) An ID that verifies that you're 21 years old: It's getting harder and harder to make a fake ID these days. And we're not suggesting you get a fake ID if you are under 21. Beek Geekery requires a pool of experience and a depth of knowledge one only acquires at the magic moment when you reach the age of 21.

At least that's what the lawyers are saying.

Let's face it - if you are obtaining beer with a fake ID, you're probably just getting drunk in your dad's garage or fraternity house or dorm room or something - the point is you're just drinking to get drunk. Being a Beer Geek means you drink for the taste of the beer, and the whole getting drunk thing happens entirely by accident.

What this really means is that you won't like getting drunk anymore - because then you can't taste the beer very well. And the hangover might (almost) convince you that drinking beer isn't worth it.

We're making a lot of assumptions, but you're underage and we're old and annoying.

2) A form of transportation: We're using the word transportation loosely - a car, bike, wheelchair, skateboard, or even just your legs will work. Even a stolen car will work!

Why do you need transportation? Because, unfortunately, beer doesn't magically appear at your house. You may be saying "I know a guy that swears to his wife that he's never bought beer!" Don't tell his wife, but he's definitely lying.

3) Beer: Many might argue that having just any old beer doesn't make you a beer geek, but we digress; As long as you can critique a beer, you're well on your way. Just make sure you have 10 to 12 varieties at all times.

4) Cold Storage: Believe it or not, some beer is actually meant to be drank a little warm. But that doesn't cover much of the beer spectrum, and you're trying to be a beer geek, right? You can get by with a refrigerator, but we all know that's just a stopgap measure. Your beer inventory is about to get unmanageable. We suggest building a beer cellar onto your house or apartment.

5) Glassware: You've got beer, but do you have something to pour it in? Your mouth doesn't count - beer deserves more consideration than just throwing it down your throat. You've got to see the way it pours, the smells coming out of a well-poured glass, the color, and the way the bubbles playfully interact within the body.

At Hoosier Beer Geek we've never actually paid much attention to any of that stuff, but it sounds good when we're showing off for the uninitiated.

It would be good to have a glass to drink your beer out of. Luckily, there are only six or so styles of beer glasses to drink out of:

A) Pint Glass
B) Pilsner Glass
C) Tulip or Goblet Glass
D) Flute Glass
E) Weizen Glass
F) Mug

You're probably thinking "I don't have space for that many glasses!" Well neither do we, and it keeps us up at night.

To start, a pint glass will do. Just be sure to hide in a dark corner if you're not sure if your beer matches your glass.

6) Hands (or a way to get the beer into your mouth): This may seem like a gimme - but we wouldn't want to leave you unprepared. Maybe you don't have hands - it happens! In that case you'll want to get yourself one of those cool hooks. Or maybe some robot hands. In fact, even if you have hands, you might want to get a hook and a robot hand. Those things are pretty awesome.

By the way, a straw is not a way to get beer into your mouth. A straw is for commies and people who think Tom Brady is dreamy.

7) A Stomach: To be honest, we hemmed and hawed on this one - maybe you don't drink beer, you just like buying beer and have a massive collection. Surely you're still a beer geek, right?

The answer is no. You're an idiot.

So here we are - you've got an ID, a way to get the beer, the beer, something to pour it in, hands/a hook/robot hands to get it poured and into your mouth, and a stomach to fill. That's a good place to start, but there's more equipment you'll need if you really want to dive into this.

8) A wife/husband/boyfriend/girlfriend/someone to drive: Originally I had the word "patient" acting as a qualifier for this requirement, but it may be the case that the reason you've taken up beer geekdom is because your significant other/DD isn't patient at all. It happens.

9) A notebook/pen/camera/messenger bag: You're going to want to take beer notes, of course, so you'll need somewhere to write them. And you'll need a pen to do the writing. And a camera to take pictures of the beer so you can share your beer pictures with the rest of the world via the internet. And a messenger bag to carry your notebook, pen, and camera.

On second thought, taking notes, pictures, and that whole sharing with the internet idea is totally stupid. Forget you ever read it. The messenger bag, on the other hand, is awesome, and anyone who refuses to carry one is insecure and most likely a moron.

10) Food on a necklace: Nothing says "Hey I'm really into this" more than a necklace of something edible. Many folks will tell you that they're wearing their bread/pretzel necklace as a way to cleanse their palate while drinking. The truth of the matter is that they're really wearing their bread/pretzel necklace because they're hoping to use the bread/pretzels as bait to catch squirrels. What I'm saying is that those people are freaking weirdos, and you should stay as far away as possible.

If you really want to be a beer geek, I'd suggest a necklace of meats and cheeses. Many beers need the accompaniment of a meat or cheese to bring out their subtle flavors, and you can also do a "paring-as-you-go" if you've got a sausage or side of bacon close at hand (or neck).

11) An oversized belly: Our last bit of equipment may take a while to acquire. On a rare occasion you'll come across a beer geek who is without an oversized belly. You may be familiar with the trick often played on dogs where a person pretends to throw a stick and then hides it behind their back? That's the same look you'll get out of the skinny beer geek. It's a look that says "I'm missing something and I'm too dumb know why".

The truth is that a truest and most devoted of beer geeks don't let anything get in the way of their pursuit of beer - and diet certainly can get in the way of this pursuit. Our advice is to just go ahead and start eating and drinking whatever you want, whenever you want. You've just committed to a life of consumption - don't half-ass it.

Stay tuned for our next post in this series: The Complete Rules of Becoming a Beer Geek Part 2: Buying Beer

28 January 2009

What will good beer get you?

Well, the obvious answer is "a beer gut". Which I have. So I don't need another one.

If you are not careful, the answer could be "a DUI" or "a revoked license". Something we don't say enough here is don't drive drunk. End of PSA.

Today, though, the answer to "What will good beer get you?" is "use of a neighbor's snow blower and a lift to work." In my part of the world, ten inches of snow was dumped by mother nature. To clear it would require some back breaking labor.

Thankfully, my neighbor likes craft beer. And he knows that I have craft beer. So he let me use his snow blower to clear a path for my wife's car, knowing that I would return the favor in the form of beer. Beautiful, tasty beer.

Apparently beer has more value to him than snow blowers, because he also gave me a lift to work in his all wheel drive vehicle.

Craft beer: what can't you do?

26 January 2009

Winterfest 2009 - You Came, You Saw, You Drank

Saturday's Brewers of Indiana Guild Winterfest was a smashing succcess - so much so that the event sold out. Here's are some photos:

We'd love to hear your thoughts on the event: what you tasted and liked most, ideas for improvement next time, and even any complaints. Leave a comment!

25 January 2009

50 Comments, 1 T-shirt Winner

We asked you to tell us about the worst craft beer you've ever had, and 50 comments later, we've got a free t-shirt to give away. We used this truly random number generator, and came up with the lucky winner number of 28. Comment 28 was left by Josh D., who had this to say:
Atwater Vanilla Java porter has to be the biggest letdown in recent memory, kind of like a vanilla coffee soda.
Josh, please send us an email at hoosierbeergeek@gmail.com and we'll coordinate getting you that shirt.

For the rest of you, stay tuned - we'll have another contest for a Mikkeller shirt donated by Cavalier Distributing's Mat Gerdenich shortly.

23 January 2009

Random Beer Roundup - No football this week, I guess we'll drink craft beer edition

For many NFL football fans, this weekend is a cold, dark weekend. A reminder that the season is over, the Super Bowl and Pro Bowl remain, and then that's it. No more football games until August. Personally, football has been over for me since January 3rd when the Indianapolis Colts screwed it up again.

My suggestion to you football fans: don't be glum. Drink a craft beer instead! Need a suggestion? Check out the Indianapolis Star where yours truly, Mat Gerdenich, president of Cavalier Distributing, and Liz Laughlin, master brewer at Rock Bottom 86th St., offer up some craft beer selections. Where can you try these recommended beers? At the Winterfest, of course! But more on that later...

It is time for the weekly Random Beer Roundup. Remember, if you have any beer news you want to share, drop us a line at hoosierbeergeek@gmail.com. On with the show...

The Brewers of Indiana Guild is having their first Winterfest on Saturday, January 24th from 3-7pm.

This indoor tasting at the Indiana State Fairgrounds will have beer from all 27 Indiana breweries as well as from many out of state. Tickets are $15 advance and $20 at the door.

Highlights include the Cask Conditioned Firkin table which will serve 16 rotating beers served by gravity instead of CO2. Six breweries will bring their ReplicAle - a Scottish Ale that has been aged in Jack Daniels barrels.

This Winterfest will use a token system. Your entry includes 10 tokens for 4oz pours. Extras will be available ($5 for 5 tokens). Designated Driver entry is $5.

See http://www.brewersofindianaguild.com/festival.html for more information and to buy online tickets.

News and Rumors:
No more Smokey-and-the-Bandit-style beer runs for many Hoosiers
One of our secret agents emailed Hoosier Beer Geek that New Belgium (makers of Fat Tire, amongst other much tastier beers) is coming to Indiana this year, most likely in the spring. This isn't like our April Fools prank last year. This is legit.

Also look for Alaskan Smoked Porter to make it in Indiana next winter in a limited quantity, though their other products won't likely be making it at this time.
Courtney at The Hop Shop in Indy was featured in the Indianapolis Star this week as well.

Coming soon to L'Explorator in Indianapolis: The 2009 Indiana Craft Beer and Food Symposium. Stay tuned for details.

Don't forget to enter The Hoosier Beer Geek "Leave a Comment, Maybe Win a Shirt" Contest. Contest ends 1/25/09 at 5PM.

Price and availability are subject to change

From Anita at Great Fermentations in Indianapolis:
Centennial hops are back in stock. 2 oz limits.
Now on tap:
Price and availability are subject to change

From Deano at Deano's Vino in Fountain Square, Indianapolis:
By the way, we have Hopslam on draft this Friday for a special limited time.
A follow up email from reader Sandy:
Nick says $7 a pint for Hopslam. Should be on tap by 5 pm-ish.
Be there or be square.
From John at Half Moon Brewery in Kokomo:
New beer on tap Thursday, Jan. 22nd:

The Amber Howl
Amber Wheat Ale - O.G.= 1050 IBU= 18 ABV= 5.5%
From Elizabeth at Old Town Ale House in Fishers:
We've got Bell's Hopslam and Founders Double Trouble on draft...we are now offering growlers...buy one of ours or bring in your own.

Now on the shelf:
Price and availability are subject to change

From Greg at Lafayette Brewing Company in Lafayette:
Lafayette Brewing Co. has recently expanded our bottle sales for Tippecanoe Common Ale and Black Angus Oatmeal Stout to select Tippecanoe county liquor retailers. Look for LBC beers at Elmwood Liquors, Clark Liquors, 350 South Liquors and all area Bar Barry Liquors locations. We hope to have additional retail locations on board in the coming weeks.
From Mat at Cavalier Distributing in Indianapolis:
Human Block Head, the latest release in the Hebrew Coney Island Lager series is in stock and making its way onto the shelves of better beer stores!

Be sure to save a token for the Hebrew Jewbelation 12 which will be pouring at the Winterfest on Saturday.
From Kirk at Mr. G's Liquors in Noblesville:
New this week

Magic Hat # 9
Founders Double Trouble
Breckenridge Pandoras Bock
Coney Island Human Blockhead
Bells Hopslam
From Cari at Kahn's in Indianapolis:
New this week:
- Victory Storm King 6 packs
- Schmaltz Coney Island Human Blockhead Tough-as-Nails Strong Lager
- Dogfish Chicory Stout
- Dogfish Head Midas Touch

Specials this week:
- Breckenridge Christmas $5.99 / 6-pack
- Young's Double Chocolate Pub Cans $7.99 / 4-pack
- Barley Island 6-packs: $7.49

I'll be pouring for both Cavalier and World Class Beverage at the Brewer's of Indiana Guild's Winterfest, so stop by and say hi!

22 January 2009

The Hoosier Beer Geek 6 Pack: Jeremy Kosmicki, Head Brewer, Founders Brewing Company

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.

While the beer from Founders Brewing Company certainly needs no introduction, we found it strange that we haven't heard much about the folks behind the actual brewing of the beer. With that in mind, we got in contact with the folks up at the Grand Rapids, MI brewery to get a better grip on what they're all about.

1) Who are you and where do you work?

My name is Jeremy Kosmicki and I’m the Head Brewer at Founders Brewing Company.

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

It was 1994 and I was 19 years old when I bought a homebrew kit. My cousin was attending Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, so Bell’s beer was a big inspiration. I helped another friend get started homebrewing, his name is Nate Walser. Nate went on to be the assistant brewer at New Holland, and then in 2001 he became the head brewer at Founders. I had been working on the bottling line there for a little while, then when Nate started I became his assistant. We were given permission to change the recipes and things really took off from there.

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

My mission is to brew beers that I like to drink. I enjoy big flavorful ales and that’s what I brew best. I like my beers to be bold and assertive, yet still fun and easy to drink. I don’t want to be extreme just for the sake of being extreme – a lot of beers are interesting but not really palatable. I rarely attempt Belgian, German or English style beers. Those beers have been brewed for centuries now and there are plenty of brewers who have mastered them. I prefer American hops and American yeast, so if there is such a thing as “American-style” craft beer, that’s how I’d like Founders to be thought of.

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?

As a homebrewer I was impressed by all the flavor and body that Bell’s beers had, so I suppose I wanted to brew beers like that. All of our friends enjoyed our big strong homebrewed beers, so I thought that if I ever made it to commercial brewing, then that would be the type of beer I’d want to make.

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

I’m proud of all our beers, and for different reasons. I’m proud of the national hype that beers like Breakfast Stout and KBS get. I’m proud of the huge amount of IPA that gets served in our taproom. And I’m proud of the balance and drinkability of our pale ale. My personal favorite is our Harvest Ale. I love that hop flavor and aroma that can only be found in wet hopped beers.

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

I love hoppy beers. Bell’s Two Hearted has long been a favorite of mine. I like North Coast, Lagunitas, Three Floyds, etc. I’ve been impressed with places like Firestone Walker, Russian River, and Surly, but they don’t distribute here so it’s rare that I get to enjoy them. I went to Belgium a few years back and fell in love with sour beers also.

7) There currently seems to be a little bit of the "Brewer as Celebrity" sort of thing going now (think Sam Calagione (22,000 google entries), Garrett Oliver (28,600 google entries), Jim Koch (48,600 google entries), and even on a smaller scale, maybe even Nick Floyd (5,150 google entries)) - considering that you're brewer beer as good as or in many cases better than theirs, why the lack of hype? I mean, 112 google hits for Jeremy Kosmicki?

112 google hits? That seems like a lot to me. I suppose my bosses like to hoard all the glory for themselves. I’ve actually already achieved fame with my rock and roll band, Oracle. We’re like huge in Grand Rapids and eastern Scandinavia. I’m a bit shocked you haven’t heard of us.

* * * * *

All of us at Hoosier Beer Geek wish to thank Jeremy and the folks at Founders for taking the time to answer our questions, and for their dedication to good beer.

More on Founders from HBG:

KOTBR #22 - Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout

KOTBR #38 - Founders Dirty Bastard Scotch Ale

21 January 2009

KOTBR #65 - (Delayed) Jingle Bells

You haven't entered the "Leave a Comment, Maybe Win a Shirt" Contest yet? What the hell is wrong with you? It's FREE. FREEEEEEEE. Click here to participate.

Knight of the Beer Roundtable #65 was an event several months in the making. Despite our best repeated efforts to drink Christmas beers before Christmas, the weather continued to ruin our plans. We blamed this on Baby Jesus not wanting us to drink.

So last Wednesday, when the forecast called for more bad weather, we tempted the fates and went ahead with our plans. Some of us made the trip to Matt's southside deluxe apartment in the sky, some of us stayed home.

Shiner Holiday Cheer ($8.41/6 pack, Alabama Liquor)

Very rarely (actually never) do I pick up a beer and it reminds me of a mixed drink, but this beer does exactly that. It might sound odd, but if I was craving a "girly" mixed drink, I'd grab a Shiner Holiday Cheer to satisfy that craving.

The first smell is that of peach iced tea, with a malty hint. Orange in appearance with darker amber notes, this beer confuses the drinker with a taste of white grape juice. I would compare this beer to Welch's White Grape Peach juice, with a little bit of malty, roasty, beer flavor. It's an odd combination for sure, but a very delicious one. If you have someone in your life who doesn't like hops and doesn't like most beer, they might like this.

I'd also like to point out that this would be the perfect beer for a Girl Drink Drunk party.

I give the Shiner Holiday Cheer a solid 3.0 mugs.

Mike: 1.2 Mugs Gina: 2.0 Mugs Rodney: 2.6 Mugs Matt: 2.75 Mugs
Knight of the Beer Roundtable Score: 2.31 Mugs

Stone / Nogne 0 / Jolly Pumpkin Holiday Ale ($5.00/12oz. bottle, Jungle Jim's (Cincinnati))

Wow, I've never tasted something like this before. It's as if this beer was designed to be paired with a Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner. The aroma is like roasted turkey aromatics with fresh rosemary, caraway seed, rye, sage and thyme. The surprising flavors of rosemary, sage, beef broth and oregano all mix well in this beer. Standard beer flavors, such as caramel and dark brown sugar blend these spices together into an interesting mixture.

All these things I'm saying make this beer almost sound gross. This is definitely not the case. I would never drink a pint of this beer or order it at a bar. That said, I will very readily pair a wine-sized pour of this with Thanksgiving dinner next year. This beer is adventurous, creative and interesting. I think this is a product of beer being pushed into new realms and I commend the three breweries for their accomplishment. 4.0 mugs

Mike: 3.0 Mugs Gina: 3.15 Mugs Jess: 4.0 Mugs Matt: 2.5 Mugs
KOTBR Score: 3.33 Mugs

Oaken Barrel Epiphany Tripel ($11.99/6 pack, Crown Liquors)

There have been some great things from the Southside lately (not you, Mike). Oaken Barrel's Epiphany is no exception. This beer pours golden yellow and cloudy and has a spicy aroma with banana, clove and candy sugar. The flavor is sweet and has a little alcohol punch to it, but is highly refreshing. The bottle doesn't list the ABV, but I would suspect it's fairly high. I give it 4.25 mugs.

Mike: 3.8 Mugs Jess: 4.1 Mugs Rodney: 3.9 Mugs Matt: 3.95 Mugs
KOTBR Score: 4.00 Mugs

Left Hand Snow Bound Winter Ale ($5.99/22oz, Goose the Market)

This is a darker beer, with a color that's only slightly darker than the brown of your typical beer bottle. A really thin head leaves a nice lacing on the glass. A strong ginger nose won't be a huge surprises to anyone that's had Left Hand's Juju Ginger, but for those of you who haven't had a ginger beer, it's not what you might call a typical beer element. The front is all ginger, with a hint of honey and orange, and is followed up with a creamy mouthfeel and a nice alcohol zing on the back. At 8.6% ABV, it does a nice job of providing a little warmth for a cold day. 3.3 Mugs

Gina: 3.3 Mugs Jess: 3.2 Mugs Rodney: 3.14 Mugs Matt: 3.25 Mugs
KOTBR Score: 3.23 Mugs

Mikkeller Santa's Little Helper 08 ($11.99ish/22oz, Parti-Pak Liquors)

You might recall that we named the 2007 version of this beer as our Beer of the Year. When trying out the 2008 version, we also got out a bottle of the 2007 to compare. Unfortunately, as of right now the 2008 version does not live up to its predecessor's reputation.

The 08 version: A creamy caramel nose that reminded me of Brach's Royals candy led to a front of sweet fruity gum flavors and a high alcohol presence. Hot, with earthy tobacco flavors, hints of molasses and darkest chocolate in the dry finish.

All in all, an interesting but disappointing experience. I think this is a beer that might be best drank with some age on it. If you're sitting on a bottle, keep sitting on it. It might be best drank around Christmastime next year. 3.2 Mugs

Gina: 4.3 Mugs Jess: 4.0 Mugs Rodney: 3.8 Mugs Matt: 1.75 Mugs
KOTBR Score: 3.41 Mugs

Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale ($7.99/6 pack, Crown Liquors)

We all know Sierra Nevada brews a ton of beer, and I've found their lineup to be a very solid selection of beer. Most people know their pale ale, and this really wasn't that far of a deviation from that. It has a dark amber color with good head retention, but is has the hop aroma of their standard pale ale with mostly floral hops with a touch of pine. The flavor profile is slightly malty, but the hops also have a rather soapy presence as well. This isn't a bad beer, and a decent IPA, but I don't really know what makes this a winter beer. Perhaps a California state of mind would make this beer better for me, but I was expecting more of a winter warmer than an IPA. 2.0 Mugs.

Mike: 2.2 Mugs Gina: 1.8 Mugs Jess: 1.7 Mugs Rodney: 2.4 Mugs
KOTBR Score: 2.02 Mugs

N'Ice Chouffe 2004 ($?/22oz, Parti-Pak Liquors (bought before 2005))

Every time I have a beer from Chouffe I think of the French film Amelie, but that is only because of the Gnome factor in the movie and on the bottle of every single Chouffe product. This bottle is their 10% ABV yearly winter beer. The bottle we sampled from was from 2004. A dark brown body reveals a sugar bread sweetness with a malty and nutty dominant base in the nose. As the beer warms more dark fruits and spices coming to life as well. Curucao peel, spices, clove, tart orchard fruit, and a bit of anise flavor this beer nicely with most flavors working together, but the spices are quite strong and not really restrained in a beer over four years old. The alcohol is well hidden on the mouth, but I certainly do the feel the warming alcohol after the swallow. This was a good offering from Chouffee, but make sure you have people to share a bottle of this with. This was personally my second favorite beer of the night. 4.4 Mugs.

Mike: 4.06 Mugs Gina: 4.5 Mugs Jess: 4.2 Mugs Rodney: 3.7 Mugs
KOTBR Score: 4.17 Mugs

All prices/locations approximate (from memory)

19 January 2009

The Michelob Craft Pack

Don't forget to enter our "Leave a Comment, Maybe Win a Shirt" Contest. Contest ends 1/25/09 at 5PM.

In a recent effort to compete more vigorously against Sam Adams, Anheuser Busch's Michelob line has received a makeover. In addition to such awesome flavors as Michelob Ultra Lime Cactus, they have updated their recipes and adjusted their "serious" beer lineup. Craft Packs are now available featuring Marzen, Irish Red, Pale and Porter styles (and if you find the 20-pack, Amber Bock is among the varieties). For this 4-style sample pack we paid a $9.99 sale price at O'Malia's downtown.

There were two things we noticed immediately. First, they've switched back to regular caps (not twist off) and have somehow attempted to spin this into some amazing new pry-off technology their marketing team came up with. Second, there is a tasting chart included. This is actually pretty neat. If you're new to making a concentrated effort to pick out flavors, aromas and other characteristics of what you're drinking, they do a pretty good job of guiding you. Of course they do so with a lot of heavy marketing speak, but the effort is respectable.

The tasting notes, complete with a link to the website.


I picked up very faint caramel and buttery notes in the nose. The taste overall was very crisp with light malt, lemon zest and toffee flavors. It seemed somewhat watery, like a light German lager. A bit of floral honey emerged after it warmed up. This is better than Budweiser American Ale but it's still very light for the style they are attempting. Regular Michelob is a better beer.

I couldn't get over the smell of wet dog in this beer. The color was fairly light and golden with a hint of amber. It tasted slightly sweet with a butter finish. This was representative of a German lager but unlike that style, it wasn't very refreshing and had a funky aftertaste.

Irish Red

This beer was surprisingly impressive. Sweet malt, cherries, milk chocolate, brown sugar, butter and toasted pecans created a fairly complex aroma. The Irish Red tastes like toasted pecans and caramel with a ton of malt character and a creamy yet light body. There's a hint of something fruity sweet in here, maybe peaches? Overall this is stylistically similar to Michelob but comes across with a sweeter and more concentrated malt flavor.

This beer was a dark red color with a healthy head. The nose was a pleasant mix of hops and malt. It was slightly sweet and very balanced. This would make a good tailgating beer. No wet dog here.

Pale Ale

It should be noted that this beer should be served at a slightly warmer temperature (maybe 50 or 55 F). If you server it ice cold you're going to miss out on a lot of the delicate hop presence here. The nose contains a mix of citrus and pine hops with a bit of mint and chamomile in the background. The flavor is very gently hoppy with flavors of pine, honey and grapefruit zest. This isn't nearly as hoppy as an APA or an IPA. It's a decent, mildly hoppy Pale Ale. Something many craft brewers forget exists, and definitely a good warmup to the standard American Pale Ale style for someone not used to the flavor of hops.

The color of this beer is golden orange and the body is slightly cloudy. It has a spicy, hoppy nose with a slight sweetness to it. Overall this is a very mild pale ale that is very floral and light in taste. The finish is very dry and refreshing.


This is the belle of the ball. The nose is full of molasses, roasted malt, caramel, cocoa and a hint of coffee. Chocolate plays the lead part is the flavor of this Porter with hints of coffee, sweetened milk, walnuts and dry baker's chocolate. This beer could stand on its own. I would buy a 6-pack of this. Very impressed.

The Porter has a roasted malt and chocolate nose. The color is very dark with red hues. This beer has a very nice mocha coffee and roasted malt flavor. This wins the title of the most drinkable beer in the craft collection.


Michelob isn't going to win over any hardened beer enthusiasts with this one, but they have improved their lineup. The Marzen is a good stepping stone for someone used to the standard American Lager. The Pale, Irish Red and Porters are all excellent gateways into the vast world of craft beer. We were both very impressed with the Porter and thought the Irish Red wasn't too bad. The Pale was a bit light for our extreme tastes and the Marzen was just not very good. I think we were both happy with the result of this experiment. If you've tried any of these, let us know what you think.