Thursday, February 26, 2009

Speakeasy Ales & Lagers: Double Daddy Imperial IPA

It's been about six months since I've lasted lived in San Francisco, one month since I've last partied in The City, and far too long since I've had local SF brew. It was time to grab some familiar looking local craft. I decided to grab Speakeasy's Double Daddy Imperial IPA. Accustomed to most of this brewery's selection I choose to finally snag 'double daddy' because it is one of the few Speakeasy Ales & Lagers that I have yet to enjoy.

"Doubling down on malts and hops" this imperial india pale ale is not messing around. Proudly sporting a 9.5% alcohol by volume content this brew will kick your mouth off. The alcohol flavor is by far the most prominent flavor and with an abv over 9% I wouldn't expect anything different. By letting the ale rest on your tongue you can sufficiently dull most of your taste buds.

Despite a quick dulling of the face and warming of the stomach, this beer has an incredibly smooth mouthfeel. The ale is almost buttery and drinks pretty easy if you don't mind the alcohol flavors. A hop present hits on the back of the tongue slightly after a clean swig, but since the brew is so smooth it's hard to detect. Unless you're in the mood for something boozy, I wouldn't recommend this monster. But if you don't mind some alcohol in your beer it's a smooth way to get a good buzz.
This brew would be a great way to get any party going. Very strong and surprisingly easy to drink. Next time I'm in San Francisco I might 'double down' on my pre-party. Hopefully it's sooner rather than later. Cheers.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Victory Brewing Co.: Storm King Imperial Stout

Now that I'm finally reunited with my computer, it's time to get posting again. As we're still in the depths of winter, it's still prime time for stouts and porters. So I decided to go local with another Pennsylvanian brewery.

Victory's Storm King is a quality stout. It's a definite flavor overload: the roasted malts and pronounced hops fight a veritable death match on your palette. On the malt side the prime contenders are hints of coffee and chocolate. The hops are primarily earthy, but you can taste a little bit of citrus coming through too. It's got a medium-thick mouthfeel, but for a stout it's pretty well carbonated. This tends to accentuate the bitter aspects of the flavor. Finally, there is a slight alcohol taste, which is to be expected, given the imperial label.

I'm a little bit of a snob when it comes to stouts, so I can't really pretend that this is a truly top shelf stout. But it is certainly one of the better stouts I've come across. So if you're in Pennsylvania, give it a try.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Trader Joe's: Vienna Style Lager

Right now you may be reading this blog because you're at home out of a job. Or you might be scanning the Internet afraid to check the balance on your 401k. Or you may just be simply trying to forget about those student loans you have to pay off. Hopefully not; but it's a decent possibility. Well, what does this have to with beer? Not a whole lot. But many beer lovers out there are trying to find ways to pinch pennies and cut out luxuries in this terrible economy without giving up on tasty suds.

There are a ton of ways to save cash without giving up on beer altogether. You can (1) stumble around for happy hour specials instead of paying full prices (2) drink beer at home instead of shelling out higher tabs at restaurants and bars (3) buy brew in bulk (4) search the liquor stores for sales (5) purchase macro brews instead of craft brew (6) and a variety of other creative solutions. As you can tell from this blog, I try to hunt down tasty beer and drink it. So I'll always advocate from staying away from the swill. That being said it's tough to find good beer at decent prices.

As mentioned in my last Trader Joe's post, some store chains are contracting out to breweries to create their own brand of beer to be sold in house for low prices. At TJ's you can still get six packs of 'Trader Joe's Brewing Co' beer for $5.29 per six pack. This price is about the same amount you have to pay for any single beer at a bar. It's a deal that just cannot be turned down. Last year I tried Trade Joe's Hofbrau bock and was satisfied but not super impressed. This year I gave their 'Vienna Style Lager' a go.

This beer is dubbed by the label as 'smooth amber lager' and it fits the bill. This lager pours a clear amber and goes down easy. Despite its light mouthfeel there is a slit citrus hop flavor and a slight alcohol taste. This was a little surprising as normally amber lagers have light malt flavors. I actually thought the hops and alcohol came through a little more in the beer. The label also proclaims a brewing process with dark and caramelized malts and you can catch a touch of these malted barley flavors on a big gulp. I'm generally a fan of amber lagers and this is an easy to drink brew. Well worth the 5+ greenbacks for a sixer and a good example of the style. I recommend it, regardless of your financial situation. Cheers.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Descutes Brewery: Obsidian Stout

Before drinking this stout you need to prepare yourself for a big west coast style beer experience. The brew is black. Blacker than soot. It's a very dark stout and produces a deep tan and brown head to match.

The flavors are also very powerful and build off the shadowy color. Incredibly strong roasted malted barley sensations are present in every sip. Despite these intense flavors the beer is very well carbonated. There are some monster sized bubbles floating around in the head. In addition, the carbonation cuts through the roasted malt flavors producing a smoothfeeling that is necessary to cleanse the pallate. If you didn't have the high carbonation this beer would taste similar to an imperial stout. It's boasts a high alcohol content and rich flavors all around.

I wasn't expecting such a strong stout when I cracked the bottle. Deschutes' black butte porter has less alcohol and softer flavors. I'm glad I branched out from the Deschutes brews that I know. This is one of the most powerful stouts I've ever have and sometimes that's what you want. A dark deep black beer. Cheers.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Full Sail Brewing Co: Amber Ale

It's time that I finally understand Full Sail's flagship beer. I've had varied experiences with this amber ale. I first tried this brew at an outdoor summer festival in San Francisco where some friends and I shared bottles while enjoying music, fun, food. Drinking the amber in the warm weather, the beers tasted light and refreshing and definitely quenched our thirst with crisp light flavors.

Recently I revisited the brew, sampling this amber again at a poker game in mid-January. I don't know if it was due to the change of season, but on the second occasion, the beer felt very thick and chewy with tons of deep and rich malt flavors. These two different experiences didn't add up in my mind and I couldn't sort out the spectrum of flavors I tasted in my two attempts of drinking this beer. As a result, I decided to sit down with Full Sail's Amber Ale again, and give it a thorough drink and review.

Not surprisingly, I found aspects of both the crisp lightness and dark malts that I experienced in my prior tasting. This amber has the aroma of a citrusy IPA with some light lemon citrus flavors that match when the liquid first hits the tongue. To back up the hop citrus, there are also some thick brown and deep caramel malt flavors that balance out the beer. Overall it's a medium bodied amber ale that probably can fit into any occasion or season. It's pretty tasty and a good example of the west coast amber ale style. I'd give it a try; any time of the year. Cheers.