Procrastinating Priorities…

Don’t think for a second I forgot you all. I have a rather large update coming up from a tasting the local group had tonight. I’ll be splitting it up though, one post about the tasting outlining the beers, food and conversation; and a supplementary post for each brew deserving of a review. Still figuring this whole setup out so thanks for bearing with me!

American-style Krieks in (New) England

Just to occupy your minds until I get that all together (photos are done and ready, just need to start typing.) here’s a quick shot of a couple of Kriek’s I had with a friend about a week back.  A Cisco Cherry Woods (which is developing nicely) and a Samuel Adam’s Barrel Room Collection American Kriek (which was better than expected, yet still world’s off of being called a kriek in my opinion.).

Posted in Beer News, Beer Photography, Beer Tastings, Blog News, Boston Beer Company, Cisco Brewery | Leave a comment

Bacterial Belligerence…

Night of the Funk 2010.  My first full-on beer fest.  I heard they had a night dedicated to sour and funky beers, who could resist?  A panel of brewers for the Funktastic Friday Forum for a few extra clams sounds nice too.  With a 30 person limit there is a slight elitist factor that I guiltily enjoy, but it sounded fun so I opted in. Here is a rather small cross section of what was sampled. Most of these were from the Forum but several were on the floor as well.

LtR: Allagash Larry, Vagabond, Cambridge Creaky Bus, Allagash Ghouleschip, Lost Abbey TEA, Lost Abbey Cuvee De Tomme ’09

A quick overview shot showing the majority of the brews from the Funktastic Friday Forum.  Sadly I’d like to openly apologize as I am still getting the hang as to what to photo and how, along with taking proper notes, and lots of tasty brews and tasty snacks; I even managed to lose my notesheet.  So this is all from memory and BeerAdvocate, because of that I won’t be commenting much on taste and smell .

  • Allagash Larry (later renamed Lawrence, a clarification made by both Rob Todd and Jason Perkins), not your typical American Wild Ale/Sour Ale.  This beer is a blend of two beers, both 100% barrel fermented, aged in oak barrels with wild yeast, cultured yeast and lactic acid bacteria. Ringing in at a tad over 7% I thought this was an extremely drinkable brew.  Went down all too easy.
  • Allagash Vagabond is a 10% ABV American Wild/Sour Ale and I was quite pleased as this was my first chance to try it.  I had heard some mixed opinions, but I thought it was very pleasant.
  • Cambridge Brewing Creaky Bus is a hell of a blend.  As with everything that night it falls into American Wild or Sour Ale (depending on which camp you follow, like it matters).  I’m pretty sure Cerise Cassee plays a part in the blend but other than that I don’t know.  The brew was supposed to be Consternation (another wild blend) but wasn’t ready on time.  So out came a few specialty growlers and apparently this one is beyond limited at this point.
    Possibly my favorite brew of the night, at least in the top three.
  • Allagash Ghouleschip is their lambic cooled overnight in what I’ve been told is the countries first koelschip for traditional lambic innoculation.  Then apparently the folks at Allagash rented a couple woodchippers and went to town on a pumpkin harvest.  The meat of the punkins was added to the lambic for a spell and the seeds were toasted and thrown in as well.  This was another top three contender for me.  I heard some people not liking it much, but I thought it was incredibly well done and one of the closest American contenders to Belgian heavyweights since Captain Lawrence Flaming Fury.
  • Lost Abbey TEA, The Experimental Ale, which I’m told could be Veritas 008 come this spring.  I’m not sure I really got down with the tea that was added.  It tasted like a light saison in a way, the tea brought a lot of the lightness I think, but it was just very simple.  A good brew sure, but something for the Veritas line I do not agree.  And I felt a small step back from where Tomme’s sours were heading.  Don’t mix tea guys, in my best Jimmy from South Park voice, Ck…ck…c’mon!
  • Lost Abbey Cuvee De Tomme ’09 is a personal favorite of mine.  From what I understand it’s their house Belgian-style quadruple, Ten Commandments, aged in Bourbon barrels with tart cherries for months.  Lots of the cherries punch through, vanilla, bourbon, 11% worth of heat is countered with a heavy acidity.  Just an amazing brew through and through, extremely complex and one of the higher abv sour ales ever.

Funktastic Friday Forum in all it’s glory

Shortly after the forum started, Todd Alstrom comes in and we’re told that the fire alarms have been tripped and we all need to wait outside.  Thankfully the vibe never died and everyone was constantly in good spirits.

Shaun from Hill Farmstead with Scott of Three Penny Taproom in VT (this picture is so full of VT beer win.)

Tomme Arthur (center) of Lost Abbey posing with a friend of mine, Ross (right) and friend who’s name I didn’t catch (left)

Jason Perkins of Allagash (left), Tomme Arthur of Lost Abbey (center), and Will Meyers of Cambridge Brewing (right)

Highlights from the floor for me included:

  • Cambridge Brewing Cerise Cassée 2010: solera system ale, aged for between 1 and 7 years in French oak wine barrels with  sour cherries and multiple strains of wild yeast and bacteria.
  • Goose Island Madame Rose: a crimson colored Belgian style brown ale fermented with wild yeast and aged on cherries in Cabernet barrels.
  • Ithaca Frute #1: wine barrel-aged with fresh, hand-crushed local strawberries from Westhaven Farm.
  • Ithaca La Joie: lambic inspired sour, spontaneously fermented in Muscatel barrels.
  • Just Beer Cranberry Lam-B-Q: cranberry lambic, several vintages poured
  • Lost Abbey Veritas 007: American sour blend

View from the main floor of Night of The Funk

All in all, for my first fest I had a wicked good time. I was kind of expecting a bit more Belgians and traditional lambic, but it was a selection of mostlyAmerican wilds. Not a bad thing just would have liked to see more diversity.

The food was really excellent.  Pretzels and waffles were good.  But the chicken croquettes were so mind blowingly amazing, I didn’t even take a picture of the several I had before they were gone. Easily the best part of the food selection for me. Went awesome with some Ghouleschip.

Met up with a lot of people and it was awesome to see all the New England’s best Nanobrewers out and about in the mix!  Lawson’s Finest Liquids and Shaun Lawson, White Birch and Bill Herlicka, and Hill Farmstead and Shaun E. Hill.  I’m always surprised at the amount of people who recognize my goofy ass from previous events.

Looking forward to Night of the Barrels in March!

Posted in Beer Events, Beer News, Beer Photography, Beer Tastings | 2 Comments

Tart Notes to Self…

It is on this wonderful note and another personal favorite brew of mine that we are officially live here at Tasteful Brews (an unfortunate acronym).   I gave a quick little online poll earlier to see what I would be cracking tonight and although turnout wasn’t great, I did get an answer.

Batch #4 of Captain Lawrence‘s Cuvee De Castleton.   While this beer with 2+ years is so stunning you may forget yourself, in lieu of breaking up my vertical (I need batch#1 if anyone has it.), I cracked one of the most recent batch.  It’s already coming into it’s own much better than fresh.  Damn it’s so good.  Onto the geek speak…

Appearance gives new meaning to gem like clarity, a spectacular golden yellow through and through.  Light punches through like a candle flame against such a great shade of light amber.  The head goes away quickly and nearly completely, but on the pour she opens right up nicely.

The nose, ahh.  Have I mentioned I love Cuvee De Castleton of any batch?  I do.  Whiffs of hard cider, apples, grapes, tangerine, grapefruit…  I may never understand why, but for some reason this brew has always had such a broad range of fruit flavors melded in for me.
A slight sting of alcohol is present on the aroma, but it’s very mixed in with tannins and oak.  I think I actually get more wine soaked oak than alcohol at the moment.  Now that I think about it, I believe this batch is the most wine influenced I’ve had of Castleton.  Extremely pleasant.

Very slick on the tongue.  Drinks very much like a good hard cider at the moment.  Opens up with the wine and oak, tannins washing everywhere.  Then in comes the fruit, pushing nearly everything out of the way.  Strong on the muscat grape flavor (again, more so than other batches I think).  A nice crispness breaks up the viscosity of the white wine flavor.  Alcohol isn’t really biting much on the taste at all.  Fresh I thought it was a little hot for the style (same thing I thought with batch#3) but it’s working itself out nicely.  Nice tart punch, backed up with a slightly sweet astringency from the wine barrels.

I could talk about this beer for hours but it’s getting chilly and I think I’m going to move back indoors to finish this one up.

Here is a link to my review of batch#3 and also a relatively quick from memory review of batch#1 sampled at the Rosso event this past year.  I hold fast that this is easily one of the better American adaptations of a Wild ale.   If I could buy it by the case I would in a heartbeat.  Batch #4 is developing really nicely though, while different, I’m impressed.

Hope to see some of you at Night of The Funk and “Funktastic Friday Forum.”  I’ll be the ludicrously tall (6’6″) skinny kid with glasses.  Feel free to say hey!

Cheers all,

Posted in Beer Photography, Blog News, Captain Lawrence Brewery | 3 Comments

Rue This Day…

Perhaps, if you’re like me, you won’t.  Patrick Rue and The Bruery had their annual (well, second time so far, but I think it’s planned to continue) signup for the Reserve Society today.  If you haven’t already, I believe there may be some spots left.

Click here to signup at The Reserve Society Store…

A quick copy and paste from the site tells us the planned beer list:
Membership begins January 1, 2011 and ends December 31, 2011. Includes the following:
- 1 bottle 3 French Hens
- 1 bottle Sour in the Rye
- 1 bottle mystery special release
- 1 bottle Trois Poules Français (upon release)
- 1 bottle 2011 Black Tuesday (upon release)
- Reserve Society t-shirt and insulated growler carrier (subject to change)
- Access to purchase special bottle release allocations with 15% discount
- 15% off all Tasting Room purchases
- 15% off of draft beer flights and Bruery beer at The Bruery Provisions (Cannot be combined with other offers or discounts)
- First right of refusal for 2012 membership
- Access to special growler fills
- Access to Reserve Society-only events (additional charges may apply)
- Entrance for two to the Reserve Society Initiation Celebration (scheduled for mid-January)

We anticipate the following beers to be released to the Reserve Society in 2011 (additional cost):
- Cigar City Collaboration – Special Edition (Doesn’t have an official name yet)
- Batch No. 50 (Grand Funk Aleroad)
- Melange No. 1
- Melange No. 3
- 100% Barrel Aged Cuir
- Black Tuesday
- Oude Tart
- Trois Poules Français (Base of Three French Hens soured and 100% barrel aged with Syrah grapes added)
- Many special “Provisions Series” beers

I don’t think there is a beer on their list I’m not looking forward to.  Although I haven’t had any of the Provision Series yet (Gunga Galunga sounds nice, and I hear Premiere is very good) and I know absolutely nothing about Cuir (I assume it’s their anniversary brew this year).  Regardless, I hope you are all ready for the mass amount of Bruery related blog posts I’ll have this coming year.


Posted in Beer News, Blog News, The Bruery Brewery | Leave a comment

Ship in a bottle…

No, wait…the other way around, bottle in a ship…no, wait…you get the idea.  It was a stretch I know haha.  Tonight I decided I’ve been neglecting some of my simpler brews and this blog gives me great reason to look at them in new light.  Although I have never turned my back on this particular brew. Pannepot is a staple in my house.  Any variation is welcome, and I’ve had nearly all of them and plenty of vintage selections.  But with how much I bought of and loved the Reserva, I had kind of been shying away from my most recent bottle of Pannepot.  I got nostalgic and out she came.

Pouring into my wine glass reveals a beautiful deep mahogany brown.  Scattered beige tinges around the edge where the light seeps through.  Great head, the color of a good heavy cream with the lacing of heavy cream to boot.

The aroma is always a pleasure.  I forgot how intoxicating the nose is of just the base beer. Sweet malt scents dominate giving way to a nice crisp profile in which a light touch of hops and the spices used.  Some light cinnamon, coriander maybe too?   And a little citrus, not sure if it’s added or if it’s from the hops but it acts as a nice segue.  A little alcohol is present in the forefront of the nose which is to be slightly expected with a 10% abv brew such as this.

The taste.  Ah, how I love Pannepot.  Perfectly carbonated.  Lively enough to make the flavors move but not enough to make it a focal point.  The taste of this one follows the nose nicely.  Malt presence in the forefront provides a nice sweet jumping board.  The beer borders on getting syrupy but thankfully keeps her distance.  It’s thick, but not obnoxiously so.  A lot of the flavor on this one I find stays almost dormant until after the swallow.  Then it opens up very nicely, the dryness of the yeast comes through, the cinnamon and citrus do as well.  The coriander also adds a nice touch, albeit very subtle.
Great finish that seems to clean up rather well.  A little drying but not overly so in the least.  I’ve never gotten much alcohol off of Pannepot and this time is no exception.  It’s wonderfully drinkable, just be careful.

I’m going to sit back and thoroughly enjoy this one.  It’s too often we beer nerds overlook such well done brews.  A heavy personal favorite of mine, which should read : Send Pannepot of any variation or age to Dave.


Posted in Beer Photography, De Struise Brewery | Leave a comment

New Hampchurian Candidates…

Ok so my titles are getting slightly out of hand.   But with the upcoming elections, the pun only gains symbolism. Sadly I forgot my memory card (sitting in my pc, contently) and was not able to take any shots of the White Birch Open House which I attended the last half hour of due to my wonderful sense of direction and downpours.  I did manage a decent little haul though.

All NH brewed and created.  We have two bottles of Mike’s first official brewery release as White Birch‘s apprentice.  The beer is called Natasha, a Russian Imperial Stout brewed with vanilla and Maple Whiskey soaked oak chips (from an NH distillery, Cabin Fever).  It’s very nice, albeit slightly bitter as fresh as it is.  And just to fuel Mike’s hype train, the two different waxes could mean something, but I won’t allude any further.

Next we have White Birch‘s Saison, which I believe is the second time doing this brew.  The original was very nice and I still have a single bottle.  As soon as the Barrel Aged Saison comes out maybe I’ll do a three way vertical for you guys.

Following that we have 80+35=20, a very bitter Imperial Stout.  A claimed 175ibu’s.  Not sure how this one will go over with me, but it’s another brew Mike worked on during his time at White Birch so it won’t be bad.

And wrapping up we have my first artisanal mead from Moonlight Meadery in Londonderry, NH.  The “Wild” mead is brewed with 20% wild blueberries and this particular bottle (1 of 2 left on the shelf) has been oaked as well.  I could drink straight oak and blueberries so this one shouldn’t disappoint.  I have a feeling I’m going to be getting into these a bit, but we shall see.

I want to thank Bill and Mike, and everyone who helped with the Open House, seemed like a very solid setup.  And the brewery has clearly grown two fold since I’ve last been (merely a couple months back).  I would also like to thank Bert of Bert’s Better Beer’s in Hooksett, NH.  Always a good guy to meet up with and easily one of the best beer stops in all of NH.

Cheers all, have a great night!

Posted in Beer Events, Beer News, Beer Photography | Leave a comment

Rye Four Art Thou…

It’s the Tasteful Brew’s one week anniversary today.   Still have not gone officially live, but have posted some little links here and there, and word of mouth is gaining.  Thanks for coming by and taking a look-see, hopefully you guys will come back and see what else will pop up here.   Hoping to have much more event coverage in the future.  I had plans of going live today but I still have some layout issues on the site I want to take care of.

Last night I took a trip over to another sour head friend of mine’s and brought with me the White Birch Rye Four.  As is always the case, I think the corks are just a bit big Bill, I had to fight like hell to get the cork out.  Zero gushing, poured wonderfully. I also had a Lindeman’s Cuvee Rene 750ml and a Pannepot 2008 Reserva 33cl that we never even got to. Loved the Rye Four, contemplated it and enjoyed it for hours.

This brew has the nose of an excellent Flander’s Red.  Cherry, oak, acidity, heavy malt, it’s wonderful.  On par with Rodenbach Grand Cru and Vintage 2007 aromas.  Extremely well done.  Not a crazy amount going on, but a pleasure nontheless.

Also I feel I should mention the appearance.  It’s clear Bill’s quality is continually rising.  The lacing is fantastic, the head sticks around for a long while, gem like clarity.  Physically it’s beautiful, dark, deep crimson red.

The taste is great but I do have a small complaint I’ll get to at the end.  The rye spice notes are woven throughout the brew the best in my opinion.  It touches everything.  The alcohol is well hidden as usual with White Birch, 11.3% abv is no damn joke, and it’s an easy drinker.  This beer will pull the rug out from under you, but you won’t even know until you stand up.  Enjoyed it fully.  Taste has a nice malty backbone to balance the lactobacillus tartness.   The lacto has definitely overpowered the brettanomyces.  I get a little funk, but I would have liked and I did expect a little more from the brett.  I am being a bit judgemental though as it was only bottled last month.  In time I feel this getting epic.  The sourness is nice and creamy thanks to the lacto and it’s not extreme, but I feel it’s a little milky for me.

Thus my only complaint is the lacto/brett balance, other than that I would drink this regularly and I truly, truly hope Bill decides to brew this one again.

10/27/10 EDIT:  I just returned from White Birch’s Open House and was informed that there was no purposeful innoculation of Lacto or Brett.  Just massive amounts of malted Rye.  I still maintain something bacterial found it’s way in, but I’ve been wrong before and I’ll be wrong again.  I still stand by my palate haha.


Posted in Beer Photography, Beer Tastings, White Birch Brewery | 5 Comments

Sour Grapes aren’t so bad…

Decided it was finally time.  After having a 2006 bottled Cantillon St. Lamvinus that was literally liquid warheads, I had high hopes for this one, but as is the case with lambic it was an entirely different animal.  The ’06 was stunning by the way, as if there’s any question.  I love how acidic fruit lambics get with time.  This is a bottle from 2007 I was lucky enough to acquire. I’ve had this in my beer bag and brought it out several times only to return home Lamvinus in tow.
Not tonight.

Sour Grapes

Tonight this beauty shines.  Ironically enough, even the initial pour is a bit hazy.  A watery plum color on the edges to a vibrant deep garnet with a bit of violet in the shadows.  Huge brettanomyces presence on the nose.  A sweet almost Welch’s like scent picks up the tail end.  Besides the brett though, the aroma is rather simple for an aged Cantillon.  Not that I’m complaining, it’s still nice and sharp as is the trademark of these breSour Grapes closeupws.

The taste is a nice biting sourness that clenches muscles in your tongue that I don’t think are used for anything other than to express sourness (this statement has not been evaluated by the FDA, blah, blah, blah).  Very lively carbonation, it actually seems to fizzle a little on the tongue.  Overall it’s really just more acidic than fresh, it hasn’t gained a ton, but I still think I prefer it to fresh.  Fresh Lamvinus has a softness to it that’s really nice, this is more in line with Fou’ Foune in terms of sourness.

Tannins, acidity, plums, pears, grapes, a little residual sweetness (from the fruit not the malt), a pleasure to taste.  This is where age has brought some more complexity to the table.   Very nice treat.

I could just be rambling though, I hadn’t planned to make a blog post about this one but figured what the hell.

Side note, just got my Night of The Funk ticket in the mail and I made it into the Funktastic Friday forum as well.  Hope to see some of you there!


Posted in Beer Photography, Cantillon Brewery | Leave a comment

White Birch Seedlings…

White Birch new brews  10-22-10

First off I’d like to apologize for how easy it is to make tree references with a brewery name like White Birch.  Recently Bill released three new brews to the Upper Valley.  Or rather, one second coming and two new brews.

The Barrel Aged Barleywine is always a nice treat.  I’ve been waiting months for this one.  The Cabin Fever oaked version was a bit heavy on the whiskey for me, but I love the barrel version. Nice wax job as usual. I love the long trails. Bottled February 17th of 2010, with 178 total bottles bottled.

The Oak Aged Stonewall is an old ale aged on Cabin Fever whiskey chips and it’s the only one I have nearly zero information on.  Bottled on April 28th of 2010 with 408 total bottles.  This sounds like the ultimate winter warmer (minus the spices, which I’m rarely fond of as is).

Which brings us to the Barrel Aged Rye Four.  I am a wild fermentation lover, from hard ciders to lambic.  Love everything about them except for the time it takes to ferment through. 240 bottles bottled on September 22nd, 2010.  This one may need some time in the bottle still, hard telling not knowing.  A sour rye brew you say?  I’ll take all you’ve got.

I should have reviews and photos coming for all three of these in the coming week or two.
On a side note, Bill, what is up with your batch numbers?  They seem all over the place.
Looking forward to the new New England treats,

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Friends and Celebrations of Life and Limb…

Not a whole lot of writing tonight.  Life and Limb and GlassA little drained from a surprise party we all had for a good friend of mine.  Decided I’d break out a beer he had really liked fresh, A Life and Limb from Dogfish Head and Sierra Nevada.  A very nice collaboration brew.

This beer has not really evolved much in the year, but the sweetness seems to have grown.  The maple flavor from the sap really comes through now.  It’s become a brilliant dessert brew and that’s just how it was treated.  However, I don’t see this beer becoming anything other than overly mapley (it’s getting close already).  I’ve been wrong before and I’ll be wrong again, but I just don’t see it happening.  Could become a nice English barleywine like maple brew though…maybe.

Sadly the images for tonight did not quite come out as planned.  No high res for the glass shot as it was not the crispest shot I’ve taken.  However I loved how the candles came out and the head on the brew came out stupendously (although at a resolution where everything else isn’t blurry it’s hard to see the detail in the foam).  Took the second shot to get a nice crisp label shot.  It really is fantastic label art.


Life and Limb

Posted in Beer Photography, Dogfish Head | Leave a comment