Monday, June 27, 2005

To Clarify an Earlier Position

In a recent post, I reviewed a northwestern US beer produced in Montana called Moose Drool. In that post, I spoke of the extreme drinkability of said brew, at least from the perspective of a guy who generally prefers darker beers.

To get to the point without much delay, Moose Drool is still a very good beer. If it's from a bottle. On tap, it's a crap shoot.

Just yesterday, I finally had Moose Drool from a tap. All of my previous experiences had been with the bottled version. Unfortunately, the kegged version seemed to be lacking something. I can't explain it. Perhaps it was an old keg, but doubtful considering its popularity in these parts. Perhaps it was the plastic cup I was drinking from (there was a hoedown and festival on Main St. and people were partaking of beverages outdoors, seriously). Perhaps it was just me.

So, when we got home, I had to test to see if it was just me. Maybe I ate something that busted my tastebuds. But no, the bottled stuff was still good.

Brown ale not quite dark enough to be a porter. Just enough hops to balance sweetness to make it perfect with burgers or pizza.

Rogue Birthday

Just in case you needed another reason to try Rogue.... just found out you get a free yard of your favorite beer (32 oz) and your pick of Rogue t-shirts. Played cribbage at the bar while drinking 32 sweet ounces of Chipotle ale.

And I'm wearing my tshirt now.

I think that beats all birthday deals I've ever seen.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Hometown Watering Holes (Atlanta Edition)

So last week, Marsha and I were in the ATL. While there, we made a point of getting out in the city as much as possible.

Though I grew up in Atlanta, going out (to bars) there for me is almost like going out in a strange city. I moved away only a few months after my 21st birthday. And to tell the truth, I was so poor during that time that I really didn't have much to go out on anyway.

There were two places where I could get consistently served before I was 21--neither of them (coincidentally?) exist anymore.

Thursday night, we went out with my sister. We started at the Park Tavern, located at the southeast corner of Piedmont Park at 10th and Monroe. When I lived there, it was called The Mill--though very little has changed as far as I can tell. Same menu, same brewmaster, and the beer is still very good. As we ate on the patio, and it was still pretty tropical outside, I wasn't up for sampling a variety of ales. Instead, I stuck with the Druid Pils pilsner. (Druid Hills is a neighborhood in east Atlanta). Their interpretation of the Czech-style brew is a bit less hoppy and effervescent than some others I've had (think Pilsner Urquell), but still rather good. Most of the hops are in the aroma, along with slightly floral overtones. The flavor is solid, and has a very smooth finish. Great for a hot, humid evening. I had three, and washed them down with a plate of pecan-smoked ribs.

Marsha, my sister Liz, and me at the Park Tavern (sunset and Midtown skyline in the background).

After strolling across the park lawn and taking in a free showing of To Kill a Mockingbird, we went down to Virginia Highlands and ended up at the Atkins Park Tavern on Highland Avenue. This is just a great little neighborhood bar, (not many of these left in Atlanta) and is apparently the oldest continuously licensed tavern in the city. It actually reminds me more of the kind of place you'd find in Boston, New York, or Chicago...long bar perpendicular to the street, a row of booths down the opposite wall, dark and dingy with a high painted tin ceiling, and plenty of regulars. I had a local favorite, Sweetwater 420--a crisp, hoppy pale ale, though not as hoppy as I remember it tasting back in college. Probably my palette has changed.

OK, I actually had a couple.

Friday night Marsha and I slipped away to the Fox and Hound on Collier Road (can't find a decent link). We were actually looking for another place (one of the aforementioned bars that no longer exists) but ended up there instead. A pretty decent mockup of an English pub (except they have table service available). Ancient carpet, wood paneled walls, low tables and benches around the walls, high tables in the middle. It seemed appropriate for the rainy evening. Surprisingly not busy for a Friday night, the crowd consisted mostly of Georgia Tech students (easily spotted by the trained eye) and young professionals indigenous to the area. Poker games at a couple of tables--you know, the kind where the rules are being constantly explained and the chip holders are still nice and shiny.

I had a couple of pints of Fullers ESB. Not local, but not available on tap (and only very rarely in the bottle) in Tucson, either.

Saturday afternoon was the engagement "open house" that my parents threw for us. It wasn't as bad as it could have been, I guess (though there were more people there than will be at our actual wedding), but still, we were most pleased that Stephanie (Chris's wife) whisked us away for dinner and drinks afterwards.

Little Five Points was on the agenda. We had dinner at the Brewhouse Cafe at the corner of Moreland, Euclid, and McLendon. The food is nothing to write home about, but the patio is an ideal view on the neighborhood, and the beer selection is very good. L5P, however, appears to have lost a bit of its edge in the past few years. Khakis were as common as tattoos and piercings...definitely a change of pace, but everyone seems to be getting along.

The Brewhouse also has the distinction of being where I was taken for lunch my first day at work in a real laboratory back in the summer of '98, and where my project was first discussed. (There was a World Cup game on, and it was not to be missed). I think we talked about DNA or something, but we talked more about beer and soccer.

Thus, the tone of my career was set. Those of you that know me professionally probably realize that this explains a great deal.

I had a Terrapin Rye Pale Ale, which, while not very memorable, still qualifies as one of the very few good things to ever come out of Athens, GA.

After dinner, we walked a block up Moreland to The Vortex. The Vortex, though only open since 1992, still qualifies as an institution in a city that has a habit of tearing itself down and rebuilding every few years. (Sherman started something of a trend, I suppose.) The crowd here--though still, surprisingly not busy--was much more as I remembered Little Five. Funky, eclectic, and friendly. I had to have a Laughing Skull, the Atlanta Brewing Company's pilsner named for the Vortex's trademark. Personally, I think this beer has been unfairly panned over at BeerAdvocate, but maybe my judgment is clouded by sentimentality (this was another favorite of mine back in college). While I do think it is even less true to the pilsner style than the Druid Pils, I think it is a good beer nonetheless--they just might ought to consider calling it an "American lager" or some other term that doesn't carry such specific expectations. It's grainy and slightly peppery in a very unconventional way, but the flavor and mouthfeel stay nice and light. Again, I think this is very appropriate for the climate, and it makes me sad that no one in Tucson has yet caught on to the fact that hot towns need lagers.

All in all, a good trip on the beer front.

Next week: Munster and Amsterdam. I'll try to keep my wits about me enough to report something of value. Stay tuned.

Friday, June 17, 2005

New Glarus Belgian Red


That's the only word I can come up with to describe this one. My only regret is that it's only available in Wisconsin.

If you like a good lambic, as I do, then you'll love this one. It's a fruit beer, but it has about 18 times the flavor of the Lindemans kriek. They say they use more than a pound of Wisconsin cherries for every 750 mL bottle and I believe them.

Nice and tart, as a cherry should be. And sweet, but just enough to make you want to take another sip because of a dry finish. It took substantial effort and self-control to not finish it in 30 seconds. A good foundation of barley and wheat flavors ensured that it was a beer and not a champagne. And aged Hallertau hops, one of my favorites, give balance to sweetness and a slightly floral aromatic.

If you only have one 750 mL bottle, make sure you only have about 4 or less friends around. Otherwise, you'll be pissed that you didn't get enough. And make sure you drink out of a champagne flute or a glass with a big opening. The champagne flute will give you the "champagne tickles", but a large-rimmed glass will give you a huge whiff of cherry flavor.

If you happen to get your hands on a bottle, don't waste it. Have it with a good chocolate dessert and a handful of close friends. That's why my first bottle was opened for my brother-in-law's wedding and my other bottle is being saved for a Tucson wedding in the fall.

New Glarus Brewing Company

guess where I am
Posted by Hello

May 26, 2005

The New Glarus Brewing Company; New Glarus, WI. En route to Minneapolis, MN for a wedding. Had to stop after hearing of their Belgian Red.

A beautiful brewery, mostly due to Greman-imported copper kettles. Got a good close-up look inside of them after talking to the brewer on my self-guided tour. He was cleaning them to brew another batch. A super facility with good old-fashioned friendliness and service.

The Swiss town New Glarus is quite an attraction as well. Sticky buns at the bakery to start the morning right. Played a round of golf at a nearby nine-hole in the morning for $10 walking. Then headed to the brewery after a side road took me by the Jack Links beef jerky factory. Double bonus!

Brewery definitely worth a visit if for some strange reason you find yourself anywhere near Madison, WI. And if you're adventurous, stay in the nearby New Glarus Woods State Park.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Mole Beer


Tried the chocolate stout mixed with their chipotle ale, per their recommendation. It was awesome. So creamy with just a bit of spice. I loved it and ordered another. Paul even got one.

Two bottoms up.

Glasses that is. Get your mind out of the gutter.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Lion Stout

Lion Stout is a "tropical" stout, according to the esteemed Mr. Jackson. I'm not exactly sure what that entails stylistically, except that it's produced very near the equator (Sri Lanka, to be precise) and he suggests pairing with coconut-based curries.

It pours dark and...well, stout-colored. Though some pictures I've seen show it with a pretty thick and robust head, the bottle I'm drinking had little carbonation that dissipated quickly. The aroma is strong and roasty. Very light mouthfeel--almost thin--and slightly but not overwhelmingly bitter. Subtle hints of fruit and something not quite like candy sugar in the background. It finishes slightly dry on the pallet, and the alcohol presence is quite muted for an 8.0% beer.

It's hard to nail the overall impression down. I think if I were given this in a blind taste test and not told even what style it was, I might guess that it was an attempt at imitating a Belgian dark ale. Which isn't to say that it's bad, just...not what I would expect from a "stout".

I actually don't think it would stand up to very spicy food, but it might go nicely with chocolate or even a light, fruity dessert like ambrosia.