- Geary's London Porter: This New England beer pours a deep mahogany under a fine mocha head fed by a moderately active carbonation. The water is soft and even chalky over which the beer builds layers of chocolate, biscuit, coffee, twiggy hops, graininess, licorice and plummy notes in tight tangy strata. This is a very quaffable ale due to the chocolate cake effect enforced by the creamy hop, moderate body and light 4.2% touch. Really appealing even if 6% of BAers are not content. The brewery speaks about the beer here.
- Tom Paine Original Old Porter: This one pours a lace leaving dark mocha head over mahogany ale. The first thing I think of is rummy, a good note of black rum. Maybe a little less complex - or perhaps just less tight - than the Geary's but with a notch more tang. It is opening up nicely over a bit of time. Chocolate and Christmas cake, cream sherry, dry fig and date. As well as good grainy rich biscuitiness. Again, moreish with the soft watery body. From Harvey and Son of Lewes, England. All the BAers love this one.
- Otter Creek Stovepipe Porter: Justin and Andy in the comments are not going to like this but I just do not share their dislike. This porter pours a quickly dissipating tan head over chestnut ale. A lighter take on porter by a notch with nut, cocoa and light smoke. This is really a rich brown ale or just a well-balanced smoked ale. No sour tang at all, too light in body and not enough complexity for my mind to be a porter. But no off flavours. I an quite certain I have far far worse beers. The brewer is not that helpful with background information and, as I noted, 5% of BAers are unhappy. You know, rename this something like a smoked brown and I think all would be happy - which is kind of sad if you think about it.
- Manchester Star: from J.W. Lees of Manchester since 1828 - or so the marketing says. This is the business. A tan head over mahogany ale. Pumpernickle, sour cherry, rough grain, milk chocolate and a hint of mild smoke all with cream yeast. Reminds me of East India Sherry. The body is big but no sense of the 7.3% at all with the soft water. A big sweater of a beer. Really lovely. 100% of BAers love it. Find it. Love it. Baste lamb in it. Poach salmon with it.
- Old Slug Porter: From the very excellent RCH Brewery, a slightly lighter take on porter but not as light as the Stovepipe above. Mocha head over red mahogany ale. Still rich yet hard to find a tang of any kind. Very presentable, however. Perhaps a shadow of smoke within the notes of dry chocolate - well more like choruses of chocolate. Also a slight juiciness as an upper layer over top that gives the effect of cloy cutting citrus peel without any particular fruit flavour. Cream yeast. and soft water. The body is boosted a bit by the texture of fine silty sediment, a dusting of cocoa. I do not taste the fruit noted at the BA where 2% have lost all sense of reason.
- Road Dog Scottish Porter: from Flying Dog in Colorado. This beer is a bit of a disappointment as well as, like the Otter Creek above, it is really a smoked brown. Chestnut ale under an off-white head that quickly resolves to rim and lace. Crystal malt sweetness and a note of smoke with a light but reassuring hop firmness. Chocolate and maybe a bit of lime in the hop, not unlike a note you get in Ithaca Brown but a lot more reserved. Some graininess in the texture. But no tang, no dried fruit and quite a fresh watery finish amking it a bit moreish which at 6.1% is a bit of a testament. Not a bad beer at all but hard to find the thing that says "porter" and not "brown." 8% of BAers do the thing that Lions liked but Christians did not.
- D. Carnegie & Co. Stark-Porter: Swedish. I have Swedes in the family. I have got a beer for a father-in-law of a brother-in-law based on an a conversation that went like "beer?" - "huh?" - "you know, ale?" - "err...ya-hoe! oool! ya - oool". Along with the dating of 2004, this is called starköl on the label and whatever that is, I like it. Mahogany ale with a massive mousse of a mocha head. All malt, a sort of oily dark malt. Grainy with masses of dried fruit, fig and date. Beer to drink with smoked herring with a framing hop that slides right up along beside your tongue and holds the whole thing up. A hint of the apple butter and even smoke that reminds of McEwan's Scotch and maybe a bit of the burnt raisin I noted in St. Peter's Winter Ale but without the licorice of Finland's Sinebrychoff. I like a lot. 97% of advocatonians approve.
According to the latest analysis of the Union of Brewers in Bulgaria... [o]verall beer consumption went up by 11 per cent. Kamenitsa and Zagorka experienced a five to six per cent increase in sales.Why do I love it? Because I am convinced that someone is just making it up. Making it all up because he can and no one really cares. I bet if we added up all the increased in overall beer consumtion reported from Bulgaria, I think it would add up to 3,567.6% over the last 18 months. It represents 127% of the Bulgarian economy now. Somewhere there is a bureaucrat at a desk in a grey concrete building in Sofia, wearing an itchy suit and sitting in a chair that has made the same squeek it has squeeked for 7 years now, convinced no one will notice when he just whips up one of these reports and foists it upon an uninterested globe. But I've noticed you, buddy. I've got my eye on you.
Japan's Sapporo Breweries Ltd. plans to keep open all of Sleeman Breweries Ltd.'s operations and will retain John Sleeman as head of the company as part of a $306-million takeover offer unveiled last week. "John Sleeman appears to have a job for the future and as long as Sapporo wants me, I'll be here," said Mr. Sleeman, the company's chairman and chief executive officer, on a conference call yesterday. Mr. Sleeman, who founded the Guelph, Ont., beer maker in 1988, added: "I expect to be here for quite some time." Sapporo is offering $17.50 a share for Canada's third-largest brewer and has won the support of the company's board as well as Mr. Sleeman, who has committed to tendering his approximately 4.5-per-cent ownership stake to the all-cash bid.Cash is good and 4.5% x 300 million is a pretty good return for a guy who built up the brewery from a dream he had when he ran his bar. In that respect this is a success story. But listening to one of the interviews and reports on the transaction, it is a little sad to note that no one is recognizing that there were a few factors that created the strain forcing the sale. The only one cited is the buck-a-beer discount phenomena. No one is discussing the move into the US which has not apparently gone well as Sleeman is placing its product next to quality micros and coming up short. No one is mentioning the challenge of buying up any number of larger micros across Canada and whether that project played out well. And no one is asking whether what is in the bottle is the issue. The way Sleeman is talked about you would think you were dealing with innovators like Dogfish Head or masters of quality like Brooklyn Brewery or even a micro brewery.
In any event, it will be interesting to watch Sapporo to see what improvements or changes it can bring to the situation. It is good to see that the plan appears to be keeping the workforce in place and building upon what has been achieved to date.
An imperial pilsner. This is a sort of beer I never imagined I would need to concern myself with. Unlike stouts or pale ales with their history of bigness, surely no one would bother upping the game of brewing the steely king of lagers. No one told Dogfish Head from Delaware, however, and they went ahead and did it as they tell you about at no lack of length on their website, including this:
The big breweries are as guilty of any company in any industry of brainwashing the consumer through the sheer oppressive magnitude and breadth of their marketing efforts. They are selling a brand name and an image with such zeal that they have forgotten about the product behind all of this horseshit and hyperbole - the beer itself. Dogfish Head Golden Shower is the beer itself. A true Pilsner brewed with 100% Pilsner Barley, and impressively hopped using our self-developed continuing-hopping method. At 9% abv it's also nearly twice as strong as the American, wanna-be pilsners made by the big boys.If you have read my reivews here before you know I have questions about my relationship with pilsners. I respect the fact as much as the next guy that it is a noble and traditional style but then there is that metallic zing...or is it a zang...that fills my mouth as if I was chewing a quarter pound of four penny nails that have been laying around the shed. So I approach this beer with some trepedation. And some of the low rating BAer reviews are backing that up - like this one:
...Not drinkable at all. Really sad for such a great brewery. I dumped the remainder of my $12 bottle in the toilet, where it belongs. Don't waste your money on this golden shower...Yikes. I only paid $8.99 for mine but still. Intersting to note, however, that the highest BA raters consider many of the same elements but like them. I don't know what to expect now.
The beer pours a very attractive bright burnished gold with a white head that resolves to a rim what with the low carbonation. When you shove your nose into the glass there is plenty of sweet apple and pear concentrate. The first thing I think of when I sipped was triple. It is sort of like a Belgian triple - candy-ish sweetness and all - but also with a fall fruit aspect like calvados. It is also thickish and does not have the overly metallic hop profile I feared - the hops are tightly herbal as much as anything. In fact, it is far more pale malty than anything else. And that is a remarkably well hidden 9%. The beer is not hot in the mouth but it certainly does warm otherwise.
Where does this beer fit in? It is a near neighbour to Belgian golden strong ales like Duval or triples like Chimay Cinq Cents with the white label - but without the bubble gum or candy floss notes Belgian candi sugar provides. A beer to contemplate the coming autumn. A beer to eat apple pie and vanilla ice cream along with, oddly enough. It would be interesting to have this beer condition in a wood cask as there is that butter and/or vanilla richness that could be umphed one notch for experimental purposes.
Let’s say it is five-ish, the game is on at half-time, and you are hungry. And thirsty. You go to the fridge, grab some beer, but it is getting on, so you have the munchies and grab some cheddar next to the beer, then some chips from the cupboard. It no longer matters if your team wins, because life is good with those kind of snacks with your beer. I try to be a practical person, therefore combining beer, cheese and potato chips is what I would call a very efficient idea. A brilliant idea, and the folks at Kettle Chips of Oregon have done it.
I guess if I was experimenting with combining a snack of all 3 items, I might start with a good ale in a glass. Then I might dump a few chunks of cheese in there, and a handful of potato chips. I imagine this would be a soggy and smelly mess, so back to the drawing board. Fortunately, our friends in Oregon, BIG BEER country as we know, did the work for us, and we can enjoy a tasty crispy chip rather than a soggy mess.
The wife works in a nifty little specialty shop called Ludgate Farms of Ithaca as a book-keeper. I saw these cheddar beer Kettle Chips there the other day and the wheels started turning. I went over to Wegmans which is huge specialty grocery store in New York state, maybe the best in the world, but they didn’t have them! Sure, lots of other Kettle Chips, but no cheddar beer (hey, try anything from Kettle Chips, you won’t go wrong) so back to Ludgate Farms. The bag is yellow and covered with names. Apparently these guys did a poll of eaters and found that this taste combo was the number one pick for a new flavor. The thousands of people who chose it are listed on the bag. The ingredients (all natural, don’t you know) really do list beer and cheese.
OK, so for the tasting. Kettle Chips are rightly famous for being EXTRA THICK and crispy. Well, if you like Welsh Rarebit, that cheddar and beer dipping sauce, then you would love these babies. Massive chips in every dimension with no shortage of seasonings all over. And yes, oh joy! They taste like good beer and cheddar.
...and YES, you can be cool and buy my pots with or without piggies (dogs, frogs etc) as pictured with these chips that you can see if you click through the image above. Just write firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last time I promised that I would review a new taproom that appeared here on Long Island. The place is called Bobbique and it's been open for only a couple of months. If you live here, then definitely visit this place. We need to support businesses like this that offer such a great beer selection. If you don't live here, make sure that when you visit you stop in for a pint or two. (Shameless self-promotion: If you like reading my Long Island Beer Updates, you might like listening to them also. I'm now producing a biweekly Long Island Beer Update podcast. For details, see my Long Island Beer Update page.)
Bobbique (70 W. Main St. Patchogue, New York) is a new barbecue restaurant just across the street from the Brickhouse Brewery in Patchoque. At the moment, Bobbique has 70 bottled beers to choose from, about a dozen taps---yes, they pour multiple local beers---, and they have two casks. On my first trip they had one cask serving Blue Point's ESB and the other serving Captain Lawrence Double IPA from Captain Lawrence Brewing Company in Pleasantville, New York (which is what I drank since I never had it before). On my second pilgrimage, Hop Back Summer Lightning from the Hop Back Brewery in the UK was the only cask selection since the Blue Point ESB had just run dry.
The cellarman's name is David and he keeps an ever rotating stock of beers. What's really nice is that David knows his beer. He's tasted everything he stocks and stocks it because he likes it (except for two or three items for the less sophisticated beer palate). David is currently drafting a booklet-sized document that will be available for patrons of Bobbique. The document is a fully annotated beer menu complete with tasting notes and a glossary of terms. David gave me and sneak peek at the beer menu/guide and it's sure to help the adventurous beer enthusiasts who find their way into Bobbique.
David is from the UK so he stocks a lot of interesting beers from England that I hadn't tasted before like Monkman's Slaughter Ale from Cropton Brewery in North Yorkshire, Entire Butt English Porter from Salopian Brewing Company in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, and Ridgeway IPA from South Stoke, Oxfordshire (which is on tap).
The restaurant is decent too. They serve an unostentatious menu of barbecue standards. The lunch portions are sized appropriately so you don't accidently hurt yourself while trying to squeeze in a couple of beers. I've had the Pull Pork Sandwich and the Fried Shrimp Poboy. I'd recommend both. My only complaint is that the collard greens were sweetened---I prefer mine spicy. My wife tells me that sweetened collard greens is the authentic way to serve them if you are in the South.
I saw this short but somewhat jam-packed story on beer culture in Japan today during my sweep of the entire internet¹ for new amazing tales of beer:
After-hours beer binges are a mainstay of corporate communication between salarymen, bosses and business partners. Red-faced executives, their neckties yanked open to one side, are a fixture of late night train stations. Beer girls with "backpack kegs" rush down the aisles at baseball stadiums to refill fans' cups. And though the official drinking age is 20, nearly anyone with enough spare change can buy a cold brew at beer vending machines.Sounds like a land gone mad but I wonder how a Japanese paper might sum up Canadian beer culture in a couple of paragraphs - how would a sports bar fill of people sucking on pitchers look, all staring at the same big screen TV? Or the imaginary line at the doors of bars beyond which beer cannot be carried? Or having to buy it only at the government store or other legally authorized monopoly.
¹ OK, I use Google News like everyone else but the effect is entirely the same as it I had swept of the entire internet for new amazing tales of beer.
The good guys at Beer Advocate posted this...
First, we hate blogs as much as this guy: http://mama.indstate.edu/users/bon ... bLogs.html. (Actually ... we hate blogs more.) That’s why this is not a blog....and then proceeded to announce their new blog...which isn't a blog...yet works exactly like a blog. This is good and will likely be a great read and place to comment on thoughts from the Alström brothers about beer culture. But it is a blog.