Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Sweetwater, Best IPA in the Country!!

It must not be a coincidence that the wife and I are enjoy a frothy Sweetwater IPA when I notice on that the contest on the Atlanta Journal Constitution rated Sweetwater IPA the BEST IPA IN THE COUNTRY! They beat out folk like Avery, Stone, Sierra Nevada, and Otter Creek.

One time for the ATL! Of course, Sweetwater is brewed smackdab in Atlanta, so even though they had some high level judges, there's bound to be a little home cookin'. Here's what I thought: though I was a little "distracted".

Here's the bracket. Who would you choose out of the list

A Southern winner in battle of brews
Sweetwater victorious from 16 American IPAs
By Bob Townsend
For the Journal-Constitution

Thursday, March 26, 2009

“Enjoyment of great beer does not demand some special tasting talent. All it requires is an open mind, an interest in beer, and an eagerness to find aromas and flavors without fear of mockery.”
—- Michael Jackson “Great Beer Guide”

By the time of his death in 2007, Michael Jackson was widely regarded as the world’s leading beer writer and critic. For many beer lovers he still is.

Having watched Jackson judge and talk about beer on a couple of occasions, the thing that struck me was his total delight in the moment. While others concentrated on flaws, Jackson more often seemed to be searching out the interesting little things that distinguished the beer he was studying.

I thought about that during a recent blind tasting at Twain’s in Decatur, where I was joined by six Atlanta beer aficionados in judging a Sweet 16 of American IPAs for the AJC’s 2009 Beer Tournament.

Lee Dickson, beer manager at Brick Store Pub in Decatur, helped set up the tasting, served as steward and made sure we didn’t have a clue what we were sampling, except for the style. In other words, though we knew the category —- 14B, American IPA, as defined by the Beer Judge Certification Program —- Dickson did not reveal the identities of the 16 beers until after we had chosen a winner.

On the panel: Chris and Cristina Collier, award-winning homebrewers and BJCP national judges; Phil Farrell, finalist in the 2009 Beer Drinker of the Year contest in Denver, BJCP master judge and BJCP South regional representative; John Kessler, the AJC’s James Beard award-winning food and dining writer; Dave McClure, gold medal award-winning brewer for Atlanta Brewing Co.; and Adam Tolsma, senior beer buyer for Green’s Discount Beverage Stores.

It was a lot of fun watching this illustrious group work through their perceptions of each beer, based on aroma, appearance, flavor, mouthfeel and overall impression.

The BJCP style guidelines describe American IPA as “a decidedly hoppy and bitter, moderately strong American pale ale.” We chose the style because, though it originated in England, it’s become ubiquitous here. Employing lively American hops that give the beer its distinctive character, ranging from citrusy, floral and fruity to resinous, piney and even a note some tasters are prone to call “cat box,” American craft brewers have made IPA their own.

Kessler, a foodie and admitted wine guy, has become a dedicated follower of American IPAs, and his ability to detect intriguing aromas and flavors, such as “bergamot” or “like the taste of a burnt raisin on the side of a metal pan,” delighted the beer geeks. McClure, the lone professional brewer, offered musings on how a particular beer might have been made. Farrell, who teaches beer appreciation and evaluation courses, kept the group focused on the sensory basics of a good IPA.

Because we were fitting our judging into NCAA basketball-style brackets, we narrowed down the field by picking four IPAs from east of the Mississippi and four IPAs from west of the Mississippi. From that elite eight we chose a final four, and ultimately a winner. Surprisingly, without any manipulation, our top IPAs included two from the East bracket and two from the West. After another round of tasting and a bit of arguing, we ranked those from one to four to produce a winner.

Everyone laughed, knowing we would probably be accused of hometown favoritism, when Dickson disclosed the identity of our No. 1 pick: Sweetwater IPA, Sweetwater Brewing Co., Atlanta.

We loved Sweetwater IPA for its juicy, aromatic freshness, described as “big grapefruit.” Other comments included: “crisp and refreshing; malt backbone supports the hops; hops are big and come through powerfully in the flavor and carry on through the finish without leaving a harsh bitterness.” But, finally, we all just enjoyed drinking this beer.

You can view the entire 2009 Beer Bracket online, and if you don’t like the way our tasting tournament turned out, vote for your own top IPA: www.eveningedge.com.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Purging the Sin from my system: Flying Dog

Good to be home from my back-to-back trips to New Orleans and Las Vegas. I still get the occasional sick feeling after the massive amounts of tequila shots and filth. It's good to be home, already had some homebrew, and now I'm having my first homecooked meal in a while from the Misses. I'll send the reviews for that later. Let's just say I had a few beers, lots of tequila, and woke up slightly hungover and THANK GOD alone every night.

Flying Dog Biere de Garde
Haven't had a BDG since we were in Paris. I didn't care for it then, so lets see what happens now. Smells like it's sour and estery, kinda fruity. Pretty clear and straw colored , low head in the wine goblet. A nice estery almost belgian taste without the nice sourness. It has a nice maltiness in there as well. Goes well with my IPA marinated pork chops. I detect a touch of hops and toast as well. Very nice. A good beer to introduce your light beer drinkers to. High 3 Star. The Dogs totally blew away whatever I had in Paris.
Flying Dog always make me think of this song...

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Yes, I'm Still Here, Still Studying: Medalla Light

I'm sitting here drinking a Medalla Light from Peurto Rico, trying to think of how many posts I'm backed up. Since my last few posts, I've got reviews written on the back of envelopes, notebooks, textbooks, you name it.

Just got back from New Orleans on Sunday, tried a couple new beers here and there. Nothing major. Going to be flying out to Las Vegas tomorrow and will likely spend about 4-5 hours a day studying for the PE Exam in my hotel room. Luckily I have been to Vegas a few times on the company, so I can charge this trip to the game. I am (eff it, let's drink).

Medalla Light
I can smell the funky hops from over here. It has a touch of hops and veggie on the nose. Nice uber-clear straw color with a surprisingly strong white head. Not bad on the tongue, has a touch of bread, a touch of astringency, a little drying as well. Very little aftertaste on this one. The second draught I catch a touch of metal in there. FYI: A good friend brought this one from PR for me to try in a couple aluminum cans. The beer is not all corned up like Mexican cervazas, but it works. Like a good light beer, it's very light on the bread and hops but not too watery. It actually is not a bad beer, just a good light beer in the sweltering heat of the caribbean. Goes down pretty well, a moderate carbonation. As far as light beer go, I would take this one over Shiner Spezial Leicht but not over Amstel Light. High 2 Stars.

Back to my diatribe. I plan on itznaying a rental car and will just roll around Vegas on their monorail and hopping cabs. A lot of my old friends from undergrad, grad school, various internships, and of course my current job will be there. Got to love the National Society of Black Engineers. It's a pretty wild conference, and if it weren't for the recession, this years' conference in Vegas would be off the hook (to quote Michael Steele). I did a touch of gambling in New Orleans and will simply refuse to gamble on anything over a $5 table in Vegas. It's just a waste of money with a bunch of other douchebags doing their best James Bond impression at a lowball blackjack table. MFers are showing up to $10 craps tables with tuxedos on, waiting 15 minutes for the drink girl to bring them an Amaretto sour so they can leave the table. "They call me Double-O Negro." As Medalla warms it getting a little icky on the AT, pushing it down to a regular 2 Star. I have to recruit college students at this conference for my company, which I thoroughly enjoy and have a knack for. But hopefully I will be able to squeeze in a visit to a couple brewpubs or at least try some West Coast beer at the bars on the strip. I'm particularly interested in finding some damn Alesmith. If I come up with no dice, I'll probably have to trade for it.

Holla back if you have any suggestions of a good beer bar in Vegas.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Beering at Maryland after the Inauguration

Still clearing out the notebook. These reviews came from the Maryland area during the Obama Inauguration. The next day I just HAD to go back to DuClaw for some beering. They were the first place I ever reviewed formally, actually writing it down. I remember getting very fired up and thinking they were the best brewpub I've been to. Time for a little update now that I've been reviewing beers all over the world (at least the US and Paris) since then...

January 21, 2009

First off we had one more Saranac

Saranac Vanilla Porter
Deep brown and opaque. Seriously strong poofy tanish grey gead. Nose has a light choco and maybe some butter and veggie. Getting a hint of fruit as well. Tasting it I first notice the full body and strong bitterness, as well as a bitter finish. I can get a strong roast and subtle vanilla as well. As you get used to the bitterness with more drinking, I got some serious malt in the background. 3 Stars.

Now onto Du Claw. I loved these guys a lot but I do wonder what it will be like after a full year of reviewing beer all over the world (okay Texas and France).

We started out with a sampler like we did the last time.

Kangaroo Kove
A new style in the Australian tradition. Straw and clear colored with no smell. I rarely get a good nose off of the samplers anyway. Got to pay that price to sample all the beer. It's a little sour and bready. Another few sips and it's basically a bad kind of hops and water. 1 Star man. Right out the gate, DuClaw hit me with a beer that I put on the same level as Desperados and Southern Star Rauchbier.

I must have written all this down wrong, b/c I"m not seeing any of these on my last review. Oh well. Black color with light tan head. It has a strong malt and chocolate on the nose. Finally tasting it I get a full body and some citrus. It has a low malt but is way to sour and astringent for me. Not to mention the high carbonation. 2 Star.

A little cloudy with a cascade hops and malt nose. Oh yeah baby. Strong hops on the tongue that is pretty unbalanced. Decent bitter finish. It has a nice lacy white head. The 2nd draught has some subtle fruit as well. Not bad at all. 3 Star

Venom IPA
Ah the "Venom". When I first had this, I used to think this venom (strong hops) was some blow your back out hops. After a year of drinking things from Avery, Green Flash, Sierra Nevada, Stone, and Victory. Not so much. It has a grassy hop nose. It actually smells kind of soda like. It's a little redder than hellrazer. Finally tasting it and I get a strong hops and a very smooth mouthfeel. Somewhere in there is a touch of bread, but these days I need some balance in my life. Strong hops... and strong malt. 3 Star.

Old Flame
Another new one. Copper and clear with a white very lasting low head. There little aroma. I taste it and there is a sense of malt. No real sweetness. It's more malty as it eat with the Thai style mussels. Low 3 Star.

Devil Milk
Oh what name. Nothing like the milk coming from wherever Satan lactates. Smells very sweet and almost appley. Copper-red color. WOW! All that alcohol in this one. Good medium body and maltiness. Lacy head. It's a very warming beer. High 3 Star.

Wrapping it all up, I'm glad we were able to head back to Du Claw. Looks like they are mixing things up quite a bit. Top three beers from this trip...

3. Hellrazer
2. Venom IPA
1. Devil Milk

That's Devil Milk is pretty painful stuff. I'm glad I had it on sampler or I wouldn't have made it back to the car. Great for drinking in the winter time. I could use some of that action while sitting outside on a chilly day. As per the rules of being a black blogger, I have to play a music video at some point.

And while we're here, I got me some Magic Hat
Magic Hat HI.P.A.
Perfect orange and some cloudiness in the appearance. Strong white foamy head. There is a nice citrus hop on the nose. It ahs a good malt balance to the strong citrus hops. Nice lace as well. The aftertaste has some hops and a touch of bread. High 3 Star. I was kinda hoping the Magic Hatters would have f'ed around and put some funky adjuncts in there like they like to do: calamine lotion, eyelashes, spaghetti sauce. Who knows.

Beer and WeightWatchers

Yes. Weight Watchers finally has an article on Beer. As you may or may not know, I have been on WW since August 2008. I started out weighing 242 lbs, and was probably closer to 245 lbs, and I got down to 202 lbs as of 4 weeks ago. I'm now at 205 lbs b/c my homebrewed Belgian Wit beer is at its optimum for flavor, and I can't get enough of it when I'm back home. Not to mention that my homebrewed IPA is quite nice.

But now WW is putting out articles about Beer. I've posted it below. The article has a little flash movie about tasting beer as opposed to slugging it. I know for me that is what really cut down on the consumption from my Miller Lite days. Drink less beer, but drink better beer.

Old WW Beer posts
Post 1
Post 2

Beer Cheat Sheet

Article By: Jeffery Lindenmuth

29 facts and tips to savor with your favorite malt beverage

Your typical 12-ounce beer with 5 percent alcohol by volume (ABV) contains 3 POINTS® values.

The typical 16-ounce draft pint contains 4 POINTS values.

Most 12-ounce light beers are about 2 POINTS values.

A 1-pint draft of light beer is 3 POINTS values.

What’ll ya have?

There are thousands of different beers. Here’s a selection of ten popular brews. Some are smarter grabs that save POINTS® values. All are 12 ounces.

Beers with 1 POINTS Values
Miller Genuine Draft Light
64 (MGD 64)
Becks Premier

Light Beers with 2 POINTS Values
Amstel Light
Guinness Draft (bottle)
Aspen Edge
Samuel Adams Light
Bud Select

Beers with More POINTS Values
Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
Coors Blue Moon
Red Hook IPA
Molson Golden

Beer bellies are B.S. "This is a silly myth," says Charlie Bamforth, Ph.D. chair and professor, Department of Food Science and Technology, University of California, Davis and author of Beer: Health and Nutrition. "If folks get fat from drinking beer it's because their total calorie intake is too high and they are not working it off."

The Good NewsBeer contains some B vitamins, antioxidants and minerals and contains:

NO cholesterol
NO fat
very little sugar

The Bad News
Alcohol is one calorie-dense nectar, packing seven calories per gram. That's almost as much as fat, which has nine calories per gram. Don't blame the malt. "The most significant source of calories in beer is the alcohol itself," says Bamforth, "The stronger the beer, the more calories."

Most 12-ounce beer with 5 percent alcohol by volume contains 3 POINTS values.
The typical 16-ounce draft pint contains 4 POINTS values.
Most 12-ounce "light" beers are 2 POINTS values.
A 1-pint draft of light beer is 3 POINTS values.
A 12-ounce non-alcoholic beer is 1 POINTS value.

Another Reason It's Good to Be a Man

Some studies show that moderate drinking may help lower risk of heart disease, particularly in men over 45 and women over 55. But what is moderate? For men, it's no more than two drinks per day. (SHEEEIT) For women, it's no more than one. Exceed your quota, and the risk of heart and liver disease, stroke and accidents negate any perks. Don't follow the lite.

The terms "light" and "lite" (or any other cutesy variation) have no legal definition.

They could mean the beer is light in color or lighter than lead—or anything else the guys at the brewery decided. Watch your low-carb language. If the labels reads "low carbohydrate," the beer must have no more than 7 grams of carbohydrates per serving. But any beer can tout "reduced carbohydrates" or "lower carbohydrates" on its label, just so long as the brewery makes a more carb-heavy beer. Shifty, eh? (THAT'S THE GOOD ISH)

Do suds wine-style.

A tip that adds civility and can shave POINTS values: "There's nothing wrong with pouring a beer into two glasses at dinner like you would with wine," says George F. Reisch, brewmaster for Anheiser Busch, Inc. Yes, you read correctly. One of the guys who makes Budweiser takes his Bud in a white-wine glass. (what an idea!!)"I actually think people should share beers more," Reisch adds. "It's smart and your last sip will still be cold."

About the WriterJeffery Lindenmuth is a fine dining writer and lecturer, who has written for Esquire, Wine & Spirits, Men's Health and Cooking Light.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Yes, I'm Still Sampling Christmas Beer

I mean come on! It is already MARCH for crying out loud. Screw Oktoberfest, I think every ragtag brewery on the planet has about 4 Christmas beers. The bocks are coming out and I still have two more beers of the season in my kegerator. Let's just get to it then

Beer Log: Right now

State: Watching boxing, relaxing

Finally getting through the four Christmas beers a friend sent from England. This one...

Criminally Bad Elf

In my wine goblet it has a clear copper appearance with a kinda weak white head. The nose is very fruity and plumy, like alcohol. I just swirled it, then put in on the ground, and 30 seconds later the smell still lingers in the air. Nice. It's Boss time. Very nice sweet flavor, not just caramel malt. English Barleywine that is very smooth yet a touch higher in the carbonation. You got to love these little stories on these. There is a noticeable alcohol (10% ABV) in the mouthfeel. Medium body but very velvety. Not bad at all. Not the best BV or Christmas beer, but my favorite of Ridgeway Brewers. Just love those titles. I would say that if we cellared this for a few months or even a couple years, it would do well. We'll let it warm up a touch as our fridge is set at 43F right now. Still good for me as it warms. 3 stars.