Sunday, February 28, 2016

Pimpin' Life Hack #3

Keeping it cool and awesome like the Russians.  Some of these hacks are great, some of them are kinda frat boy like and I wouldn't recommend them with good beer. Like the ice cube trick for example, I wouldn't ever waste a quality beer to make ice cubes from it nor would I use PBR ice cubes in my Heady Topper. The outcome would like be worse than regular ice even.

Regardless of their hacks having a few flaws, some of them can be really useful in a pinch. I could see myself using the bag-lined box trick to save space on a road trip. Honestly I just find it really entertaining listening to the dude with his Russian accent say how awesome everything is.


February's Top 10 Beers Tasted

Ah, what a delicious February. I tried to avoid picking all New York beers for this past month's best to grace my palette list. However it's no easy task when you love fresh beer and the locals keep pumping out excellence. 4 out of 11 isn't too bad I don't think, you tell me: 

1. Death by Coconut - Oskar Blues (CO)
This was a hard decision choosing a #1 from the list of hype-beasts I tried this month. I'm sure many of you would have picked other brews I tried that didn't make the list above some of these, that's the beauty of unique taste buds. That said I haven't had another coconut beer of any style that touches this guy here. A friend of mine loved it and she generally doesn't even like beer!

2. 2nd Anniversary - Other Half (NY)
Lately I could probably make top 10 lists of just Other Half. They set the bar pretty high and beat themselves sometimes. Maybe if I hadn't had beers of theirs in the past I liked better than this one it would have been my #1 last month.

3. Sip of Sunshine - Lawson's Finest (VT)
Okay I'm prepared for the onslaught of comments from those that are mortified that I could list SoS as anything but #1. I'm equally bracing myself for the angry mob that will undoubtedly voice their opinions on how overrated this IPA is. It's an outstanding creation. I just happened to have tried a couple I liked better this February.

4. The Sauer Peach - Sloop (NY)
If you're not from New York you likely haven't heard of Sloop yet. If you are from here there is also a good chance you haven't heard of them. They're making choice beverages and better known breweries like Threes often poor Sloop in their tasting room. I love The Sauer Peach so much, writing this is making me want to go buy some more right now!

5. Sunrise Oatmeal Pale ale - Fort George (OR)
I'm always wishing to get hold of more Oregon beers out east here. Fort George stands out in a sea of good breweries out there, which is incredibly hard to do. I never thought I'd fall for a pale oat beer. Believe it or not I think I like this one even better than Other Half's Oat Overdose.

6. Eric Widow Jane whiskey barrel-aged chocolate milk stout - Singlecut (NY)
Singlecut is still working on consistency but they have shown potential to be top tier brewers. This one is so silky and the booze doesn't trump the chocolate milk one bit.

7. Lambo Door - Grimm (NY)
NY, NY, NY, shut up about NY already... I can't! There is a reason they put 2 can limits on these and all the shops still sell out within an hour. I've enjoyed pretty much everything I've tried from Grimm from DIIPAs, Sours, BA Stouts, and more. I'd confidently put them in my top 10 Brewers of 2015 list too if I made one.

8. James - Hill Farmstead (VT)
Hill Farmstead can do no wrong. This beer was a special dedication to a man close to them that has passed. RIP and thank you for inspiring something so enjoyable.

9. 75 minute - Dogfish Head (DE)
So now I have tried 60, 61, 75, 90, and 120. 75 might just be my favorite. I think I might be a sucker for overly maple flavoring though. Sometimes my sweet tooth gets the best of me. This one pairs beautifully with food as well.

10.(Tie) Black Hog coffee milk stout (CT)
I grew up watching Letterman so a top 11 list just feels wrong, had to call it a tie. Careful with this one it literally goes down as easy as regular chocolate milk. I need to find some girl scout cookies and see how nice this is for dunking.

10.(Tie) Stout 2015 - Bourbon County (IL)
Again, bring on the comments, I welcome them! It was delicious but it's not some unique unicorn or anything. Also it gave me a hangover and I only drank one bottle of it and one other, much lower abv beer. Plus I was alternating drinking water. I rarely get hangovers from beer unless I have a ton, but at almost 15% and super sweet, BCS did me in!

What were the best beers you tried in February? Leave us a comment!

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Beer Geeks Guide to the Galaxy: 6 levels of brew hierarchy

As the beer universe rapidly expands we find ourselves differentiating between what once was just two classes of beer, craft and macros. Today with options from hundreds of breweries across the nation becoming more and more conveniently available, there is a growing need to distinguish between what is now a multi-teir continuum of ales and lagers.

Ladies and gentlemen I propose to you the 6 levels of brew hierarchy:

Level one: Basic
Aka beer-pong fillers, pounders, piss water, or swill. No judgements, drink what you like. Just know who you're offering it to, some people maintain a no shoes in the house lifestyle.
Brewery Examples: Pabst, Budweiser, Miller, Coors.

Level two: Classic
Macro favorites that have survived the test of time.
Brewery Examples: Guinness, Smithwicks, Yuengling, Stella Artois.

Level three: "Craft"
Decent reputable beers you can get pretty much anywhere but started as micro brews and deserve to keep the craft name.
Brewery Examples: Sam Adams, New Belgium, Sierra Nevada, Goose Island.

Level four: Hype Beasts
Craft beer that is distributed on a large scale but is good enough that when they release they are highly sought after.
Brewery Examples: Ballast Point, Bells, Dogfish Head, Founders.

Level five: Geek Beer
Breweries who's beers can only be found outside of their area in specialty beer bars and shops. These are beers worthy of taking photos of but in most cases you didn't have to leave your state or trade your first born child for them.
Brewery Examples: Stillwater, Ninkasi, Evil Twin, Hill Farmstead.

Level Six: Fools Gold
Breweries that dont distribute out of their area and when they do releases beer geeks make road trips and stand out in the cold for two hours to get limited amounts.
Brewery Examples: Trillium, Other Half, Tree House, Russian River.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

297 New Beers: The Best & Worst of 2015

Thanks to the beer tracking app Untappd, I was able to log all of the new beers I've tried this past twelve months, along with ratings, photos, and detailed notes when the beer was motivating enough to make the effort. Yeah thanks, thanks for turning me into even more of a hopeless beer geek than before...Oh what am I doing, friends often ask me at the bar. Oh nothing, just taking a selfie with this beer like I'm a got-damn teenage girl on Instagram, don't mind me.

The best craft beers I tried in 2015:

15. Russian River, Pliny the Elder
This was my first year trying a Pliny. It's not my favorite double IPA, but it did live up to the hype. Now if only I can make a trip down to Cali this spring for a taste of the Younger!
14. Founders, Kentucky Breakfast Stout (KBS)
Another super hyped brew that met expectations. I could drink this all year around if it was cheaper and easier to find. Still chasing the CBS whale though.
13. Ale Smith, Vietnamese Coffee Speedway Stout.
Regular Speedway is a ladies man of a stout and the Vietnamese version is a real panty dropper.
12. Bissell Brothers, The Substance.
This should be at the top of your list of regular IPAs to try if you haven't yet.
11. Grimm, Gradient
A black currant sour that is a perfect way to introduce noobs to sours and for those that can't handle super tart to expand their horizons with. Also try everything Grimm you can get your hands on. They jumped into making my short list of favorite brewers this year. I say brewers not breweries because they don't actually have a brewery building of their own, they travel around the NYC area and other breweries happily let them rent temporary space and equipment because they make beer magic. That's the happy couple that founded Grimm pictured below.

10. Laht Neppur, Hot Chocolate Strawberry Porter
In a year full of odd flavored beers, that often didn't work, or didn't taste like their titles; this one is everything you'd hope for. Laht Neppur is from middle of nowheresville Waitsburg, WA. I had the pleasure of trying it at one of my favorite beer bars in Portland, OR, The Horse Brass pub. Not the actual picture below but believe me it tasted like that looks.
9. The Bruery, Autumn Maple
So many flavors and yet so well balanced. This is the perfect holiday night cap for me. With an abundance of beers listing "maple" in their titles and coming up short with actually providing maple flavor in the beer, this one stands out as the exception.
8. Tree House, Julius
Unfortunately not as good canned as on draft in my experience. The first time I had this beer on tap it must have been super fresh. I've never had an IPA as good before or since. But I've had it several times since from a can and it wasn't quite as good, I'm talking like a 9 instead of a 10. And no I haven't tried King Julius yet. And yes if you can help make that happen I will love you forever.
7. Stillwater, Of Love & Regret
The only saison to make my list, but its a killer I promise you. I enjoy a good saison from time to time but not many I've tried can pack this much flavor and still match its drinkability.
6. Victory, Kirsch Gose
Want to introduce a non-gose drinker into this world? Ease them in with this beautifully drinkable sour cherry. Yes I put a cherry flavored beer in my best of the year list, and no I'm not ashamed. This was my favorite backyard beverage this past summer.
5. Ninkasi, Noir
This is all I want to drink this winter. Okay that's not true, but if I could only drink one beer all winter long this would be my pick. It's a smooth operator. Props to the Kings of Eugene, great job you dirty hippies!
4. Two Roads & Evil Twin, Geyser Gose
I guess there is something about Icelandic moss. There isn't anything else like this brew, and I'm really hoping they do this collab again next year.
3. Spiteful, God Damn Peanut Butter & Jelly Pigeon Porter
This is like dessert when you get to pick out the birthday cake customized with exactly your favorite flavors. Sorry Bourbon County, Sorry Half Acre Daisy Cutter (an awesome ale by the way), this was the best beer I had on my trip to Chicago this year.
2. Other Half, Mosaic IPA
If you don't know Other Half yet, don't worry, you will. They're quickly becoming a hot topic around the country, and are the brewery that I get asked about for trades from NYC the most often. All Green Everything is their trendy one, but to me and my local beer snob buddies Mosaic is their gem.
1. Fremont, Barrel Aged Bourbon Abominable
2015 was the year of barrel aged everything, a trend I don't think is going anywhere anytime soon. This was my favorite of the year across all categories.  Fremont has bumped out Elysian this year as my new #1 brewery in Washington, and is quickly becoming one of the best in the country.

The worst craft beers of 2015

8. Anderson Valley, The Kimmie, The Yink, and the Holy Gose
I know many people love this... But I believe those people would be happier drinking cheap sparkling wine than beer.
7. Moody Tongue, Caramelized Chocolate Churro Baltic Porter
I hate, hate, hate, when beers promise all these bold delicious flavors and come up dry as a bone. This tastes like muddy water.
6. Shipyard, Melon Head
I like fruit beers. I know a lot of people don't, but I have no shame if they're made well. This is a child having too much fun mixing shit at the soda fountain and then they add something really gross to it like milk, or they pee in it.
5. Founders, Rubaeus
KBS was in my best of list. Founders makes an arsenal of exceptional brews. This is not one of them. This is raspberry pancake syrup.
4. Stone, Arbalest Bourbon Barrel Belgian Pale
For those that think Stone can do no wrong I give you Arbalest. By far the worst barrel aged beer I've ever tried.
3. Narragansett, Allie's Doughnuts Double Chocolate Porter
The sad thing is I bet Allie makes bomb doughnuts. Narragansett, please stick to making good cheap lagers, thanks.
2. Charles Wells, Sticky Toffee Pudding ale
No its not. It is in no way shape or form anything that even faintly resembles sticky toffee pudding...
1. Baxter, Ceremony tea infused IPA
Not just the worst beer I tried this year but definitely over-all worst of all time. There is nothing about this beverage, I hate to even call it beer, that is IPA like or tea like. It tastes like the face of disgust. I brought this beer to a blind tasting beer party game and it lost in the first round to a mediocre cider...