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Thursday, March 31, 2016

When Things Go Badly - Creme Brulee by Southern Tier Brewing Company

Sometimes a perfectly good idea seems wonderful on paper, but in reality it just blow chunks. It seems like such a perfect combination. Creme brulee, one of the very hearts of a Parisian dessert, is a staple of life. Not just in Paris, but everywhere one goes and expects a dessert, creme brulee is surely on the menu. So it would make sense to create a beer to duplicate the taste. Hmm, it starts the mind to thinking...

Creme Brulee
It should start with "Are you nuts?" Creme brulee tastes nothing like beer. Not a milky sweet stout to say the least, where you are fending off bold malts from the hearts of creams that are at center of creme brulee. But Southern Tier Brewing Company said "ah, we know how to do it" and set about creating a chemical bath that would simulate creme brulee in a beer mug.  Now Southern Tier Brewing Company has done some tough brews in the past and has made them sing - Anyone remember Mokah? - but there was something wrong with the Creme Brulee.

The deficient batch that they came up with is only half of the story to creating creme brulee. It actually smells like it in the glass, which is impressive, but it all goes down hill from there. The second part is just a mish-mash and turns the mix wickedly disappointing. The end is symptomatic of the whole experience - crashing and burning - as the drinker is gulping their way through the sourly tainted end. The best feeling is when the last bit is imbibed and the glass is empty.

The question becomes did Southern Tier Brewing do something by intention or was it the way the way it was prepared in the bar? Southern Tier has been serving this mixture since 2008 and that should be enough time to work the bugs out of it. The bar was Del Rey Pizza and they have served plenty of beer with success on their watch. But there were plenty of termites in this batch for everyone. Southern Tier Brewing Company or Del Rey Pizza - whom do we point the finger?

Creme Brulee by Southern Tier Brewing Company is a 10% ABV and has a serving temperature of 48 degrees.  The yeast is ale yeast, four malts, two hops, vanilla and lactose sugar.


Wednesday, March 30, 2016

And Without Further Adieu...a Message from Our Sponsor!

Cold Press Coffee Porter Nitro by Flying Dog

Just when you think you have seen everything, these guys from Flying Dog come up with something new. Something new and oh so good. Brewhouse Rarities Cold Press Coffee Porter Nitro is what it is called and it has something nice and tasty in each syllable of its name.

Cold Press Coffee Porter Nitro
Lets start with cold press coffee. Though beer is supposed to be cold, the idea of cold coffee and beer have been slow to take off. But here, cold beer and coffee have finally found their coming together. You can actually taste the coffee in the beer, though there appears to be none of the ingredients on the list. Porter is a natural uptake of this brand of beer, but has been a second tier to stout in that category. However, stout is too strong in this mix and porter is a better natural alternative. Finally, nitro is a fine alternative to carbon dioxide and warrants the extra expense for employing it here.

When the three are put together, you get dark, rich, cold coffee, a nice employment of porter, and with the all the fineries of nitro. It is actually calling you to take a second cup (there probably should be a discussion of whether it should be served in beer sized tastings) and that is always good. Yes, it is as good as the last cup.

Brewhouse Rarities Cold Press Coffee Porter Nitro is 6% ABV and hop bitterness 15 IBU. Specialty hops include roasted barley, chocolate, and black barley. Hops are Perle and yeast is American Ale.


Thursday, March 24, 2016

Too Many Cooks by South Street, Wild Wolf Devils Backbone, Starr Hill and Blue Mountain

Too Many Cooks
Too Many Cooks by South Street, Wild Wolf, Devils Backbone, Starr Hill, and Blue Mountain is just that - too many cooks. The result is it is carrying too much junk (like water) and too little flavor. Maybe a few less cooks could find a way to decrease what it is carrying, but until they do, this will be continue to be sub-par.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Peaches! Acres of Peaches! Peche Mel Scaldis by Brasserie Dubuisson

Peche Mel Scaldis
Peaches are a sign that Spring is just around the corner and that Summer is not far behind. This past Saturday, we (Linda and I) had a chance to have dinner at a new place in Baltimore called La Cuchara. After having had a Melchior (a strong Belgian ale by Brouwerij Alvinne) and having reported back favorably, the owner offered me a taste of Peche Mel Scaldis by Brasserie Dubuisson.

Now peaches are nothing new to me and I am a little bit leery of them because they are one of the fruits that can have a great taste or can have a poor taste depending on how they are handled during the flavoring process. Cherries and raspberries are OK, but peaches are kind of an "iffy" fruit.

So, I tried a sip of Peche Mel Scaldis. Peaches! Acres of peaches! Wow! This was certainly a fruit beer that was not to be believed. It tasted like a pure peaches with just a little alcohol and it continued to taste like peaches throughout. It was so good I could not believe I was drinking anything but a peach drink. Right down to the last drop, it was a peach.

I thanked the owner and made a note that Peche Mel Scaldis will be on my list for the summer and it should be on your list as well. Peaches! Acres of peaches!


Monday, March 21, 2016

Oh So Good! Mocha Obscuro by Peabody Heights Brewery

Mocha Obscuro
There is a lot to be thankful for when the gods shine down and have St. Patrick's Day fall on a weekend. (Yes, Thursdays count as a weekend!) One of those extra goodies, of course, is two days of extra sampling of beer and this year I got to try Mocha Obscuro by Peabody Heights Brewing of Baltimore, MD in Woodbury Kitchens.

Mocha Obscuro is attempting to become one of the few beers that is to achieve an Imperial or Double Stout classification. This is akin to a Russian Imperial stout and it is very rare to get this right. The malt and the hops have to be roasted to near perfection and sorry to say, it just does not happen very easily. A bit over-roasted and the whole beer tastes burned. But Mocha Obscuro is done just right. The malt and the hops are both done to perfection and it feels good going down. But as a double stout, it is about how it goes down slow, and that is when is goes down oh so good! Try it out and you won't be disappointed!


Thursday, March 17, 2016

Cognitive Dissonance by 3 Star Brewing

Cognitive Dissonance
Now this is what a Berliner Weissbier is supposed to taste like. It is warm with the season, there to remind you that Spring is coming. It tastes like a group of citrus fruit: oranges, lemons, limes and grapefruit.  Sweet and growing steadily in the warm sunshine. It has a German name but it better reflects a warm Mediterranean afternoon. It continues growing warm with the season and then just melts away. Perfect time to reintroduce this wonderful beer because its time is so fleeting. Yep, Spring is here and we are here to greet it.

Cognitive Dissonance by 3 Star Brewing has a 3.6% ABV.


Wednesday, March 16, 2016

BeerCycling: Your Tour is Scheduled!

For you BeerCycling folks who may be following us, you can now rejoice - your Summer 2016 schedule is now posted and the tour dates are up! If you are planning to take one of these tours, and I encourage you to do so, you should connect to the page for further details.

10-Day Flanders Adventure Tour
10-Day Flanders Discovery Tour
9-Day Ardennes Challenge Tour
7-Day Italian Passion Tour
5-Day Flanders Sampler Tour
5-Day Flanders Tulip Tour

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Smuttlabs: Rouge de Shire

Smuttlabs Rouge De Shire
Last night, I started venturing back out to local brew houses with a vengeance. One week was spent in Utah and the spectacular Powder Mountain Resort and the second week was a real surprise - New York City (thank you, Linda!) and a preliminary celebration of my birthday. Now that things have simmered down a bit, I can begin to synthesize all that has gone on.

Now you might have noticed I shifted from three reviews down to one and even that one is more succinct. Well, I noticed that it was taking me three times long to write a longer review and it was taking me 1 1/2 times to write one review as it was three, so I am trying to write a quick review to get the word out and then perhaps go back to do a longer one. I will get this worked out somehow, but I am experimenting!

Smuttynose Brewing Company (Hampton, NH) came out with a special label some time ago call Smuttlabs. Smuttlabs took it upon themselves to experiment with different mixes and concoctions that deviated from the traditional Smuttynose Brewing Company. Rouge De Shire is one of those concoctions and it is a triumph. This is beautiful beer. Brewed with raspberries over oak chips, this has a nice subtle taste that lingers for a while. It has a long and graceful conclusion. If you are looking for a way to introduce and excuse your beer, this is the way to do it. It is really good.

Route De Shire is 4.9% ABV and no IBUs.


Wednesday, March 2, 2016

The Brewer's Art - Resurrection

On Charles Street in Baltimore, you will find a wide range of ethnic food shops. Afghan, Nepalis, and Indian to name just a few. But in an old bank building, there stand the classic American staple - the beer bar.

The Brewer's Art (has been in the same location for a number of years, but you would never know it. Kind of a modern, run down decor, the Brewer's Art features a somewhat well kept forward beer area, a fine dining establishment and an absolutely weird basement. All three contribute to the Brewer's Art post-industrial art layout.

The Brewer's Art - Baltimore
The headline of The Brewer's Art is the number and diversity of its own beer. Running about 12-15 types, the quality of the beer is exceptional for restaurant draft beer. (I did just try The Brewer's Art in another restaurant as well.) I tried two beers on the night in question with Linda and both were very good. The one that gets the nod tonight is the Resurrection. A 7% ABV, Abbey-styled dubbel, the yeast "died" and was "resurrected." It comes with five types of barley malt and lots of sugar. The beer is quite strong and flavorful. The body has a distant taste of caramel, but it is not too distinct. This a wonderful sipping beer at one of the The Brewer's Arts underground tables - dark, poorly lit, and full of ambiance.