Summer’s right around the corner!

9 03 2011

I’m not gonna lie, lately all I have been able to think about is summer. And you know what summer reminds me of most (well, I guess other than the warm weather, beaches, and shorts)? Baseball. Oh yea. I don’t care if you think the games are too long and boring, or if there are 162 of them, or if you’re a Cubs fan. I refuse to let your complaining affect me! But, in all seriousness, I can’t wait for baseball. The smell of grass. The excitement of the fans. The day games. The stats. The beer. O yes, the beer.

It used to be that when one went to the ballpark, all that was available was Bud Light and the like. Last year, I myself enjoyed a nice Sam Adams Boston Lager at Fenway. While not my favorite beer, compared to Bud Light, for me, it was like heaven. And honestly, what’s the added $1.00 extra in the long run? Worth every penny of the $4.50…err, $8.50. Whatever, I don’t have season tickets. Once a month or so isn’t that bad to pay $5.50 per beer…err, 8.50. I mean, compared to Bud Light or Coors Light, I would gladly pay $6.50…err, $8.50. $8.50!?!?!?

The point I’m trying to make is that if you’re going to pay $7.50 on a Bud Light, you might as well pay $8.50 on a so deemed “specialty” beer. Unless, of course, you actually *cough* enjoy Bud Light. Then you can do whatever you want. If that is you I’m referring to, then you’re probably the same guy that sat behind me (by himself I might add) puking his brains out last year for an entire Red Sox game. Yea, that’s you.

So what got me thinking about this today? This article did. This guy discusses the top 10 beers offered at MLB parks. Great article idea! Possible new goal for myself/this blog in the future: travel to ballparks around the country and taste the local beers and foods offered. Well, I can definitely start with Fenway, which happened to NOT make that list. Or maybe somewhere else this summer…





Find some good beer near you!

8 03 2011

I have been snooping around the web looking for neat websites that I could pass on to you guys. If you take a peek over to the right side this site, you will notice a section that says “Blogroll” (currently trying to figure out how to change that name to “Links”). I have been frequently updating this as I find sites that I think others might enjoy. Feel free to let me know of any sites that you have come upon that I could place there or you think I might enjoy.

So I want to pass along a great site that I recently came upon. The other day my Dad made me green with envy as he reported to me that he recently enjoyed a brew known as Old Rasputin Imperial Stout. I have been wanting to try this for some time now. Actually, I would love to start drinking more imperial stouts in general. This is supposed to be one of the best. “So, how do I get this beer?” I thought to myself. I could travel around the city in search of a bottle. Hmm, I wonder if the company will post on their website or tell me if I call them. Well I am pleased to report I have solved this problem (err, someone else has). Great Brewers does just this. Type in your zip code, and you can find all the locations the beer can be found in your area. Little did I know that Old Rasputin Imperial Stout can be found at a bar that doesn’t even have that great of a beer menu about 1 block from my house! Probably would never have checked there.

In conclusion, very cool website. For future reference/use, I stuck it on the sidebar as “Beer Finder” under “Blogroll.”





San Fran Recap Part Deux

7 03 2011

After finally starting to feel like I escaped wine jail…

our beer adventures felt like they were in full swing. Our second full day in San Francisco was definitely the best. We first visited the much-heralded 21st Amendment. This is a local brewpub (whose beers in cans are available nationally) that produces such beers as Hell or High Watermelon Wheat. Everyone I had talked to recommended this place. I have to say, I was slightly disappointed, which no one is more surprised about than me! Lauren and I split the sampler of the available brews, which included South Park Blonde, Trumer Pils, 5 South American Pale Ale, North Star Red, and Monk’s Blood Belgium Pale Ale. My favorite was definitely the North Star Red (second from left), but the others in the group enjoyed the Monk’s Blood the best. They all tasted OK, just not enough flavor for me. Overall, a little bland. Also, the pale ale could have used more hops. The stout probably had the most flavor but was a little liquidy feeling in my mouth. Not too much else to say about that establishment.

After that disappointment, we decided to try and walk over to another brewpub: The Thirsty Bear. Unfortunately, they were closed. Ugh. But sometimes, as they say, good things come to those who wait. And this was the case on this day because after the Thirsty Bear debaucle, we headed over to a brewpub recommended by our friend Laura‘s brother-in-law. Well, in my personal opinion, this was the highlight of the trip (as far as beer goes anyway)! The name: Magnolia Pub and Brewery. Super, super, super hoppy beers. YES! They offered quite the slathering of hoppy brews on tap as well as a few in cask. Our friend Matt started with the greatest name ever bequethed to a beer: Old Thunderpussy. The pub used to be an erotic store owned by an ex-stripper named Thunderpussy. So, I guess this is a tribute? I hope she knows how good her namesake beer is! It was a very unique brew. It was a barleywine, which is not my favorite syle, but was very good and might push me to drink more barleywines. It had a thick head that extended in a way I’ve never seen down into the liquid.

The next beer I had was quite possibly the finest I have EVER had. This is the only way I know to describe it: open up your Miscrosoft Word or similar program, open a blank document onto the screen, and hold the letter “m” for at least 5 minutes. Now, read what you just wrote.  Getting the picture yet? It’s name? The Promised Land Imperial IPA on cask. Ooo, so this is what Moses in the Bible was searching for for 40 years. I bet this would taste great with manna! Anyway, this thing had a reddish color to it, and added a thick, white, foamy head. It had a slight bitter/sweet aroma, but not as bitter as I thought it would be. However, more than the surprise with the aroma, I had a surprise with the taste, and I’ll tell you why: if you take a peek at the list of beers in the pic I posted above, you can notice that this baby pumped 150 IBU – easily the highest IBU beer I’ve ever drank! So, what surprised me so much about this? That it was super smooth and not too hopped out. I tasted the sweetness and the hops, with some citrus and just a hint of pine, but it was incredibly drinkable. Well, it was drinkable to ME anyway; to others, maybe not so much:

Have I built a tolerance to such things???

Lauren drank a Saison de Lily, which she described to me as very refreshing, and although fruitiness in any beverage is not one of her favorite qualities, she said the fruitiness in this beer was perfect. It tasted a little fruity to me, but I agreed that it was refreshing and actually pretty delicious. For my second beer I had an Imperial Common, which was created jointly by the SF Brewers Guild, whatever that means. Even though it only had 45 IBU it seemed hoppier than the previous beer, and although was good in its own right, was not as drinkable as the other. Lauren didn’t even attempt this one! And lastly, for Lauren’s second beer, she enjoyed a Weekapaug Gruit. Quite honestly, I have no idea what kind of beer this was. I only had one sip (mostly because I was too into my own beers) but I do remember it being thick feeling.

My seemingly fast experience of San Francisco ended quite possibly in the most perfect way: with tasting one of the widely-considered not only best beers in America but one of the best beers in the world: Pliny the Elder. Offered year round, unlike its sibling Pliny the Younger (which is supposed to be even better!), this imperial IPA tasted as good as expected. I sampled this glorious brew at a restaurant later that evening. I knew this may have been my last chance to try it, so when I saw it on the menu my mind was easily made up.

I was slightly upset the waitress decided to poor it for me (don’t mean to sound pompous but she didn’t pour correctly) because not much head was formed. It had a citrus aroma to it, but not too citrusy. The taste was not nearly as hoppy as I thought it would be, and I don’t know how else to describe it other than well-rounded. Sweet, citrusy, piny, and bitter were all present. Almost too drinkable, as I believe I would never have gotten tired of drinking it. It also had almost a creamy mouthfeel with some carbonation. Overall: amazing. This will now be entered into my top ten beers. Now, I just have to figure out how to get it in Boston!

So, my wonderful trip to San Francisco ended, as do all great things. I unfortunately didn’t make it to as many places as I wanted to visit, beer-wise, but I guess that just means I will have to return sooner than later! So my recommendation, go to San Francisco and experience it for yourself if you haven’t already. And if you do, let me know where you go and what you do so I can start planning for next time!





San Fran Recap Part Uno!

1 03 2011

What a week in Cali! It’s official, I want to move there! Left Boston and the temp was 25 degrees and snow, arrived to about 50 degree weather.

Amazing. So after we landed, we grabbed the rental car and drove straight to Sonoma for some wine tastings. I’m not going to go all in to that part of the trip, but in case you’re interested you can check out Lauren’s blog, which I highly recommend. Anyways, you don’t want this guy telling you about wine. Look at me, I’m just winging it, obviously!

There were three breweries in the Sonoma area that we considered visiting: Russian River, Bear Republic, and Lagunitas. Unfortunately, they just didn’t work out. Two partial days and one full day was just not enough for all that we wanted to do, especially with all the driving! So, we forwent the breweries for wine and decided to enjoy the beers in the city instead.

Our first day/night in San Francisco was a wash, more or less, due to trouble with the rental car and hotel. We grabbed a quick bite near the hotel then walked over to a local pub named Lefty O’Doul’s. Not a bad little Irish pub. They offered a decent beer selection, but most importantly they offered local beers. Unfortunately, no pictures were taken this night (click on the links to view the beers). I started with a beer from Oregon called Deschutes Inversion IPA. Since it was out of the tap, the head was not fantastic, but it did appear to have a nice rusty color to the brew. It had a strong grapefruit aroma, even noted by one of my peers from across the table. Overall, this is what I would expect from a West Coast IPA. A little more fruity than, say, Harpoon IPA, but smoother and with little carbonation. Very drinkable. Definitely would try this beer again.

My second beer of the night was by a brewery that everyone should know: Anchor Steam. I decided to try their Porter for “dessert” and was not disappointed. This actually was tapped with a mighty head, and was oil-black in appearance. It definitely smelled of mocha, and maybe a bit nutty. The taste was much the same. It also presented a nice bitter taste from the hops, which was both surprising and welcomed. As with porters, the mouthfeel was thick and creamy. Overall, a solid beer. Might be a while until I come back to this one if there are other options, but I wouldn’t turn one down, for sure!

The second day in the city did not allow for much beer drinking. We ventured to a bar that I had really wanted to visit due to their enormous beer list: Monk’s Kettle. We approached the door with a group size of about 10. I began to sweat as I noticed the pint-sizedness (word? – also no pun intended) of the establishment. As the first of our group was turned away, I realized something: this is not a good place to come with a big group. O well, sometimes there are things that are more important than beer. We instead come upon a shady looking bar (one of my favorite qualities in a bar, by the way), named Elbo Room, that was modeled after a “speakeasy” of the twenties. Pretty cool place, but not a great beer list. I settled for an awful beer named Racer 5. Just kidding, one of my favorites. BUT, not a new beer to me, but at least it was local.

Will be back tomorrow with the exciting finale! See what beers our hero will battle next!





The San Francisco Beer Area

17 02 2011

I have recently been preparing mentally, emotionally, and physically for my upcoming trip to San Fran, which I leave for on Sunday (2/20). This trip excites me GREATLY. The San Fran and Sonoma/Napa area, I hear, are supposed to be virtual beer meccas. With breweries such as Anchor Steam, Lagunitas, Bear Republic, and Russian River Brewing, San Fran is almost in a class by itself as far as American breweries go, in my mind. Of course, wine making is what the area is really known for, but this is a beer blog, after all! And wine is too fruity anyhow!

I plan to post on this excursion while there, so check back next week from time to time to see where I go. I wanted to post a tentative schedule of events for the trip, but a couple ideas have fallen through. First of all, in case you ever travel to San Fran and want to experience Anchor Steam Brewery, you will need to make a reservation at least 6 months in advance! Crazy! A reservation to a brewery? Apparently so. Anyway, the next idea was to go to Lagunitas. I recently reviewed their beer Hop Stoopid here, in case you’re interested. Well, we were going to be passing by that brewery between Monday and Tuesday of next week, and guess what? Those are the 2 days they are closed!

Oh well. I plan to make up for lost brewery time at local brew pubs that I hear are supposed to be good, recommended to me by my new friends at beer47.com and beerbybart.com, such as 21 st Amendment. I also wanted to pass on this great website that was passed on to me called bayareacraftbeer.com. Not only does this site include breweries, it also includes bars and stores that offer craft beer and a calendar of local events. Really neat.

All in all, I found that not only are there GREAT websites about beer available in the San Fran area, but the bloggers over there are incredibly nice and generous; makes me want to move there, no doubt! If you are interested in following my trip, stop by for updates. I’ll try my hand at photography and post some pics, too. Also, if you have any recommendations for me in the area, I would love to hear them. I always have a couple openings on my calendar for beer!





Beer Run

13 02 2011

Not a good week for me and my beer adventures. Didn’t try anything new. I realize now that I am on this craft beer kick that many bars in the area carry more or less the same beers. The more I think about it, the more I realize why I love Harpoon IPA so much. When my choices, apart from Bud Light, Miller Light, etc, are Guiness (respect the beer and company but not my favorite), Newcastle, Sam Adams, Magic Hat Number 9, Bass, Harpoon IPA, and one or two other randoms thrown in every now and then, I of course choose the hoppiest. Of course. It makes so much sense now!

Anyway, other than one Allagash White, I enjoyed Harpoon IPA almost exclusively this week/weekend. Ok, so maybe I didn’t move forward in my quest (nor put together any reviews and recommendations for you), but I certainly didn’t move backwards!

I do want to pass on something that I decided to partake in coming up. It is a 5k race called the Ras na hEireann on March 13th. I’m not much of a runner, nor would ever be confused for one, but I have been promised that there will be Harpoon included post race. Apparently everyone heads to bars around the area after the race, which I’m not so sure I’m totally into because I have no way to take a shower before, and I’m assuming neither does anyone else. If you are interested in running I think it fills up quick so sign up soon!

I have a couple of interesting beers in my fridge I will review this week, so stop by again soon!





Super Beer Part 2

8 02 2011

Ok, so Saturday I tried two new beers to tell you about:

The first was produced by one of my old stand-bys: Harpoon. It was their new Belgium Pale Ale. Belgium Pale Ales are more or less new to me in general. From what I have read, Belgium pale ales are different because they have less hops than a normal pale ale or IPA. This beer poured a nice amberish color, maybe a little red in hue. As a Belgium pale ale, it definitely had less hops than the Harpoon IPA, but they were present. They were noted in the smell, which was not strong with a bit of fruitiness, and in the taste, with was light and drinkable. A little bitterness was noted. All and all, a beer I would drink again soon. It is available in the sampler from Harpoon, along with other great Harpoon offerings.

 

My next beer nearly knocked my socks off! My intention was to share it with Lauren, but she fell asleep before I could open it, so I drank it as a “dessert.” The beer’s name was verified with smell after the pop of the bottle cap: Rogue Chocolate Stout. Wow, just wow. An intense chocolate aroma wafted from the bottle, and I knew I made a good choice to open it by myself! It poured a great, thick head, and the beer was dark as night. The first sip was not as chocolatey as the smell led me to believe, but it was delicious. I tasted chocolate and coffee, and was only slightly bitter, as if I was eating a bitter chocolate bar made for baking. The more it warmed, the more chocolatey it became. Just delicious.








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