Text 22 Oct 1 note I may have spelled huitlacoche wrong

A quick review as I hopefully watch the Rangers eliminate the Yankees…

Even if it doesn’t do a single thing for the taste of a beer, I love when breweries get inventive with labels, packaging, and presentation.  Couple a new look with a creative beer and I’m sold.  I recently picked up a 22oz Sierra Nevada Estate Homegrown Organic Ale. The guys at Sierra took part of their massive property in Chico, CA and planted barley and hops.  Then they made a really nice and organic pale ale using nothing but their own stuff.  Pretty cool.

The bottle looks awesome as well.  it’s the standard green Sierra bottle cap, but all of these bottles were dipped in forest green wax, giving them a Maker’s Mark kind of look.  Also, I suppose the wax makes us all doubly secure that no oxygen is getting in or out of the bottle until it is opened.

Tasting notes:

  • Very carbonated when poured…produces a huge head with lots of lacing on the glass.
  • As the head recedes and you look at it from above, it looks like the surface of the moon, craters and all.
  • It’s bitter up front, but as the beer warms up that dies down.  In fact, it seems that the “pop” of this beer, both in terms of bitterness and carbonation dies down more quickly than your standard Sierra.
  • I drank this with dinner tonight…some awesome huitlacoche empanadas.  I had never tried huitlachoche until tonight.  Here’s the scary part — huitlacoche is a black fungus that grows at random on corn stalks in Mexico…the Mexicans harvest it when they can, cook it, and eat it.  It’s not quite a delicacy, but it’s special.  I asked my neighbor Suzy, who works at the Mexican Embassy about it, and she was Neighbor-of-the-Week and brought me these empanadas.  The verdict — it’s always described as “earthy” in taste, but honestly, you could have told me I was having black-bean empanadas and I would have believed you. 
  • Still, this is a really good beer.  More “complex” than a standard Sierra, but doesn’t have the same kick.
  • 6.7% alc, but it tastes like a little more than that.

Terp Rating:

This is a fun, home-grown beer that I’m going to pair with a fun, home-grown Terp.  Sierra didn’t have to go far to brew this, and Ralph Friedgen only had to go over to Gonzaga High School in DC to find the best-tweeting, run-stuffing defensive tackle for this year’s Terps squad.  Sierra Nevada Estate Homegrown Ale gets 3.25 Terps out of 5 and is officially the A.J. Francis of beers.  Big game up at BC tomorrow for the Terps, we need a road win.

Navy win

Now, beerpics…and the wife is still out of town, so you’re deprived of my goofy face again.

1

Getting through that wax to pop the top was actually kind of a challenge.

2

That’s a big head there.

3

Your first huitlacoche empanada.  Mine too.

Text 18 Oct I’m kind of sour on DogZilla

The DogZilla Black IPA doesn’t taste like I think it should, but that might be my fault.  I bought a 22oz bottle about two moths ago, and forgot it was in my fridge until a few days ago.  I opened it tonight, took some pictures, admired the appearance, and then tasted something that feels a lot more like a Flemish Sour Ale than any sort of IPA.  It’s been in my fridge for two months, not the trunk of the car, so heat/light weren’t its downfall, but maybe age was.  Still, two months shouldn’t kill a beer, should it? FYI, I bought this beer over at Bassin’s on MacArthur Blvd. and the guy working the cash register was so rude that I haven’t been back, and probably won’t.  So if this beer is bad, I would like to blame it on their storage, not mine.

Tasting notes:

  • It pours a HUGE head, as you can see in the picture below.
  • More deep brown than black…it’s much lighter than 21st Amendment’s Back in Black IPA, for example.
  • A very sweet smelling beer.
  • Again, just a really tart taste.
  • Bitter at the end, but not overly so.
  • Tastes much lighter than any IPAs I’ve had, and really tastes lighter than anything this color should.

Reviews on beeradvocate suggest that the beer might be only partially spoiled (like "mostly dead").  None of the reviewers there straight up call it sour, but words like lemony and “yeasty taniginess” suggest that even the best bottle of this stuff might taste at least a little like the one I have.  But I think it’s mostly spoiled.

Much like the Terp who will be associated with this beer, I don’t know what went wrong with DogZilla Black IPA, or even if anything really went wrong.  Was it my fault?  Was it flawed to begin with?  What could I have done differently — I really wanted to enjoy this over and over.  Instead, this beer gets two out of five Terps, and is henceforth the Caleb Porzel of beers.

Caleb Porzel was one of the most electrically fast little football players I’ve ever seen.  He was like a Florida athlete, except from Olney.  He was a stud at Good Counsel and then played a bit his true freshman year for the Terps, but this spring his football career allegedly went “up in smoke” and not even summer school could save his Blutarsky-esque GPA.  He’s at a JUCO now, and I really hope he pulls it together so I can see him reach his potential.  Similarly, I’d like to have this beer another time and see it reach it’s potential.

Porzel ncst

Now, beerpics.  Note, my lovely photographer is out of town, so instead of the live-action shots you’re used to, you’re getting still-life.

dogzilla1

It is a cool label though.

DogZilla2

Look at that huge head.

Photo 16 Oct Goose Island Harvest Ale tastes really good with ribs, hickory and mesquite smoked in the back yard for 4 hours on a football Saturday.  Too bad the Terps couldn’t win to make the day perfect.

Goose Island Harvest Ale tastes really good with ribs, hickory and mesquite smoked in the back yard for 4 hours on a football Saturday.  Too bad the Terps couldn’t win to make the day perfect.

Text 30 Sep Malty Mark and the Hoppy Bunch

omgish

With a beer carrying such an amazing name, you can’t help but use it as the title of it’s own review.  This hoppy double IPA from Franklin’s in Hyattsville came as a complete surprise…because I didn’t buy it — my wife picked up a growler of Malty Mark and the Hoppy Bunch at dinner tonight and brought it home to me.  It’s a good night.

I’ve been a big fan of Franklin’s for years.  They serve slightly elevated bar food; have good beer they make on the premises; and run a store that has candy, toys, and beer.  It’s tough to top that.

So, without further ado, here are some tasting notes.  But bear in mind that I’m drinking this from a growler filled a few hours ago, so it’s not as carbonated as it would normally be…and I’m under pressure to drink 64 ounces of 8.5% beer on a work night.

  • This is a real 2IPA.  It’s not Ruination good, but it’s good.
  • It has a deep dark caramel color.  Not like a caramel candy, but like the color when you burn sugar. 
  • More hoppy than malty, but that’s to be expected.
  • Not a huge head or lacing, but the growler factor applies there.
  • Really bitter and sweet at the end.  Not bittersweet though.
  • It can be a bit harsh at times and takes a little gumption to swallow (That’s what she said!).  Not every sip or gulp, but sometimes.
  • Not sure what I’d eat with this.   Maybe poutine, that glorious french Canadian delicacy.  Definitely some sort of fried bar snack would be best.

Terp Rating:

This beer is defined by its hops.  The citrus bitterness and sweetness.  That piney aroma.  Hops Hops Hops.  You know who else had mad hops?  Mike JonesWho?!  Maryland’s Mike Jones was born under the bad star of being in the same high school class as some jackass, to whom he was eternally compared to.  Despite never reaching expectations that in retrospect were too high, this dude could jump out of the building and had range that extended to near halfcourt.  Mike Jones did some great stuff for the Terps, but never quite harnessed his raw skills.  Hats off to Malty Mark and Mike Jones, as this beer checks in at 3.25 Terps!

Mike Jones. WHO

God, I miss the promise of the Mike Jones era.

Beerpics:

grrr

A growler in each hand.

a picture

A combination of the thinker and the drinker.

growl

Shouldn’t all beer be served out of growlers?

Text 27 Sep 1 note Everyone Makes an IPA These Days

I should not have been surprised to see the folks at Sam Adams serve up an IPA, but somehow I was.  Everyone knows their ubiquitous Boston Lager, their Octoberfest is usually good, their Summer Ale is hit or miss from year to year, and last Spring’s Noble Pils was great.  It stands to reason that among the 500 other styles of beer they brew that an IPA would be among the bunch, but until this weekend, I hadn’t seen  it.

The Sam Adams Latitude 48 IPA is brewed with German, English, and American hops grown on or around the 48th Latitude in what they call the “Hop Belt”.  The 48th parallel north, if you’re wondering like I was, cuts across the northern US (Washington State, Minnesota, etc) and then over to eastern Canada (Newfoundland) and then to northern, but not too northern Europe, and then into Russia (in Soviet Russia, beer brews you).  So, basically the places we know to be hop-producing, most noticeably Germany and the American Northwest.

The beer itself is pretty damned good.  Not great, but pretty good.  It’s not up to par with the great California-style American IPAs, but it tastes like what I imagine a Sam Adams IPA to taste like.  Which is to say that it tastes like a Sam Adams Boston Lager, but with hops.  That’s not an awful thing.  More tasting observations:

  • Darker than most IPAs.  Which is fitting, coming from Sam Adams.  It’s kind of reddish.
  • More malty than it should be and less hoppy than it should be.
  • Hearty.  It would work really well with a nice stew, or burger.
  • Really nice lacing on the glass.
  • Reasonably impressive.

Terp Rating:  This beer has a lot in common with a really important Terp.  Just like today’s Terp, this beer flies under the radar.  Part of you is surprised it’s so good, but then it becomes obvious that, on name alone, you are experiencing quality.  The Sam Adams Latitude 48 IPA gets 3.5 Terps and is the Leroy Ambush of beers.  Ambush was a pretty good Terps linebacker in the early 2000s who was overlooked by many, including NC State’s T.A. McLendon who got de-cleated by Ambush and fumbled, giving the Terps the ball back in time to win on a Nick Novak field goal.  "Ambushed" is one of the great plays in Maryland football history.

Now, beerpics:

Beer

That’s Thousand Island dressing on my shirt.

Pouring

A serious pour.

yum

The sacrifices I make for this blog are grueling.

Text 9 Sep 1 note Black IPAs are the new Black

Lets just get it out of the way and link to some AC/DC song.

Tonight I’m drinking 21st Amendment’s Back in Black black IPA21st Amendment is making a few really good beers and turning heads with their cans and can packaging.  It’s all about the taste with beer, but aesthetically it doesn’t hurt that their black can features Paul Revere holding a lantern on a Harley.  That’s just cool, and I guess a little revolutionary, kind of like the Black IPA style that is popping up everywhere these days.

Back in Black pours an almost totally black color, except for a cream foamy head on top.  It looks like a stout in a glass and leaves awesome lacing on a pint glass as you drink it.

Tasting Notes:

  • There’s some sort of cream soda taste in there.  A little familiar brown ale taste in there somewhere too.
  • A little sweet at the end.
  • There’s a smoky flavor that isn’t that big, but gets in your nose.  I bet you could make a great barbecue sauce with this as one of the liquid elements.
  • The hoppiness is there, but they take a backseat to the malts. 
  • This isn’t a beer you drink 10 of on a college football saturday. 
  • But it is a cool weather beer.  

I’m drinking this tonight during the season premier of Monday Night Football.  Football, yes!  Football season is the most wonderful time of the year and I’m so happy it’s upon us.  Tonight’s Terp is playing in the game and he embodies “Back in Black”.  E.J. Henderson is back in the starting lineup for the Vikings tonight after a nasty broken leg last year that almost ended his career.  Plus, he’s black.  And plus plus, he wears a ton of eye black when he plays.  Also, he’s gone from a dominant college linebacker to really good NFL linebacker, kind of how 21st Amendment has taken the best style of beer (IPA) and made it a bit smoother but still really quality.

Without further ado, Back in Black gets a rating of 3.5 Terps and is the E.J. Henderson of beers.

EJ

Now for the photographic evidence:

Black1

You know what’s better than bringing those tshirts upstairs or ironing those shirts?  Drinking a beer.

black2

Concentrating on the pour — waiting for Favre to throw a pick.

Black3

Cool can man.

black4

So good.  I guess I’ll carry those tshirts up now.

Text 29 Aug 1 note Don’t Grow Your Own

I don’t know enough about the science of brewing beer to really list where Rogue went horribly horribly wrong with the Chatoe Rogue First Growth Single Malt Ale.  This beer is part of Rogue’s Grow Your Own line, and features hops and malts grown by Rogue for Rogue.  Maybe that’s where it went wrong.

If you’ve got a good thing going with whoever it is that grows hops in this country, you don’t mess with it and do that stuff yourself.  Same with malt and whatever else they contaminated the water with in this creation.  This stuff tastes like nasty seltzer water.  It looks the part, but tastes like something someone who sucks at homebrewing would create.

This seriously might be the worst beer I’ve ever tried.  I’d like to have a blind taste-test between this beer, Dogfish’s Raison D’etre (biggest case of false advertising since The Neverending Story), and a gallon of Clorox. 

It’s really not tough to give this beer a Terp Rating of 1/5 and to come up with the appropriate Terp to match the brew.  Just like this First Growth Single Malt Ale seems to have spitefully gone out of its way to decimate the stuff that makes beer taste good, today’s Terp went out of her way to bite the hand that feeds her and cripple Maryland’s two revenue-generating sports.  So congrats to former Athletic Director Debbie Yow, who will be linked with this bad beer for eternity.  Thank God NC State apparently has a death-wish and hired her away from the Terps this summer.

Seriously, just so you guys know, when I write these reviews I can usually plow through a few beers to help along the “creative process”.  I’ve taken four sips of this stuff in half an hour.  It’s that bad.  I’m going to try another sip now — yeah, it’s warming up and tastes slightly better, but it still needs a chaser.  It’s bad.  It tastes like some sort of Prohibition-era liquor made from fermented hey, except without the alcohol. 

she sucks

Caption:  Hey Brenda, I’m going to do my best to screw over Gary and the Fridge, even though men’s bb and football are the only profitable sports at Maryland.  Cool?

rogue1

I’m smiling because I haven’t tasted it yet.

rogue2

The color looks right.

rogue3

This is before it hit my taste buds.

Text 22 Aug 4 notes I wanna drink a beer called Ranger!

If you’re going to come to my house and enjoy a quality guest room that displays no less than five classy pin-up girls on the walls, an old tv, and a loud window-unit air conditioner, then you are always welcome to bring some beer along for the ride.

Fortunately, last weekend was Klauder Crab Feast XVIII and our gracious house-guests, the Hofbergs, brought a bunch of North Carolina beers (drink enough and you’ll be as forgetful as Dean Smith!  Too soon?  Drink enough and your black-out will be as jet-black as Coach K’s died hair!  Much better!).  They also brought a treat I haven’t tried before — New Belgium’s Ranger IPA

Now, I’m on the record that New Belgium’s holy grail, Fat Tire is supremely overrated.  It only has its amazing reputation because you can’t get it in half the country.  Well, you can get it in more places these days, but I still haven’t seen Ranger anywhere.  Given how much of a disappointment Fat Tire is, I was shocked to like, really really like Ranger.  I only had one bottle of the stuff, but that bottle was the best performance by a Ranger since Juan Gonzalez was on the juice.

As for actual North Carolina beers, I wrote down notes for two of them, the Highland Kashmir IPA and the Peacemaker Pale Ale.  The Kashmir tastes like Tupper’s Hop Pocket used to, and has a little smokiness.  It’s plaid bottle makes me want to drink a few more and listen to Nirvana.  The Peacemaker was darker than I expected for a pale ale, smoky, malty, and had a bitter aftertaste.  It was okay, but kind of tasted like it was cooked in a cast-iron skillet.

Now, back to Ranger, I had a few thoughts:

  • Really good.
  • Maybe a little too bitter aftertaste, but that’s nitpicking.
  • Same finish of high-quality IPAs like Stone and Racer 5.
  • Super hoppy.
  • A high-alcohol flavor shows up as the beers creeps towards room temp.
  • This is a very top tier IPA.  It belongs in the same sentence as Stone (the real Holy Grail) and Racer 5.

Despite the New Belgium name and Fat Tire reputation, this beer snuck up on me, just like a legendary Terp who snuck up on a more renowned player and became a legend for Gary Williams.  Joe Smith’s recruiting class at Maryland was headlined by Keith Booth and almost before anyone knew what was going on, Joe blasted out of Booth’s shadow and became a national star, carrying the Terps on his back. New Belgium’s Ranger IPA gets 4.5 out of 5 Terps and is the Joe Smith of beer.

Don't Go Joe

Now, beerpics!

Rangy

It’s been a long, beer-less weekend. I earned this one.

pouring

Bought a car, cleaned the house, cleaned out the gutters, poured a beer.

guzzle

Oh, and drank a beer.

Text 8 Aug Break me off a little Sumpin’ Sumpin’

Last summer I started hearing a buzz about the Lagunitas Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale.  Maybe it was too late in the summer, or maybe the stuff never made its way to DC, but I had almost put it out of my mind when it showed up at Yes two weeks ago.  In September ‘09 I found a 22oz of A Little Supmin’ Extra Ale in Tampa.  It was good, it was strong, but I wasn’t blogging so I didn’t write down any deep thoughts about it.

Beer Advocate and the Lagunitas site are overt about classifying A Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ as a wheat beer, and as a man who rarely likes wheat beers, I don’t know what to make of this.  Here I am, shaking my head at the Belgian-lovers and their appreciation for the wheaty, somewhat metallic and gross aftertaste of wheat beers….but this Sumpin’ Sumpin’ is so so good.  Really good.  It stood up to its reputation. 

A few tasting nottes:

  • It pours a slightly more blonde color than most IPAs.  I guess thats the wheat.
  • Nice head on it, but that dissipates quickly enough and doesn’t get in the way.
  • Big hoppiness and strong carbonation.  Always a good sign.  It packs more punch than bigger, higher IBU beers.
  • It tastes good with assertive flavors. I just had some chips and dip with it, but this could stand up to some of my spicy wings really well.
  • Not overly crisp, but somehow just crisp enough.
  • There’s a citrus kick back there, and maybe that’s got something to do with how it gets better with every sip.

The Lagunitas Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale is worth the search, kind of like the most electrifying guard in Maryland basketball history.  That’s right, this beer gets 4.5 out of 5 Terp Beer Points, and is the Steve Francis of beers.

wow just wow

Most people don’t know this, but Stevie Franchise and I have a long history together.  Before he seemingly came out of nowhere to dominate college bball for the Terps, he was at Blair High School.  Allegedly, he played JV as a freshman there, which means that he must have been playing against me when I was a sophomore.  Unfortunately, all I remember of any game against Blair was their endless supply of 6’5” athletes and how mercilessly they beat our Richard Montgomery team.  I don’t need to explain what happened with Steve when he got to Maryland, and then went on to the NBA.  He’s a legend.

Now the evidence, featuring a new pint glass from the one and only CP.  As always, the beautiful wife took the pictures and proceeded to convince me that they were not horrible.

Sumpin x2

I’m holding a little sumpin’ sumpin’.

More Sumpin

I’m pouring a little sumpin’ sumpin’.

Sumpin' 3

I’m drinking a little sumpin’ sumpin’.

Text 18 Jul Titanic, but not quite king of the beeeeeer!

While trying to figure out how to pronounce Oosthuizen, I figured I should drink a few beers.  I found myself in Adams Morgan this afternoon, and it’s worth noting that the D’Vinos in A.M. has a much smaller beer selection than the D’Vines in Columbia Heights.  Same ownership, same font, same discount, different vowels between the two stores.

I was a little underwhelmed by the IPA choices at D’Vinos, but went with Great Divide’s Titan IPA.  I haven’t had it in a while, and it’s kind of interesting how despite noting all the things that the beer was missing, I really liked it.  My tasting notes follow:

  • Initially, there isn’t as much hop blast as I’d hope or expect.
  • It’s  not a California IPA, a little too much malt and not enough hoppiness.
  • The color looks right, but the head dissipates really quickly when you pour it.
  • It’s a little syrupy

It’s easy to get lost in all the things Titan IPA isn’t, but it’s important to note all the things it IS.  Those hops that are missing at the front come in towards the end.  It stands up to a good meal (tonight, lamb kabobs and veggie kabobs, etc).  It’s a really good beer.

The Terp rating for Titan IPA was actually really easy.  I mean, come on, it’s called TITAN.  Nothing forges the worlds between Titans and Terps like Frank Wycheck.  Most people remember Wycheck for the Music City Miracle and for being a great Tight End for the Tennessee Titans during much of the McNair era. 

But he was much more than that.  When I was growing up and one of the five or ten people who had season tickets to Maryland football, I became a huge Wycheck fan.  He was a H-Back/Tight End hybrid, and even pulled off a couple 100 yard games when he was thrown in at Running Back by desperation.  Wycheck was a totally versatile football player and this is a tough, versatile beer.  It’s not a music or terp city mircalce, but this beer is damned good.  4 out of 5 Terps!

Wycheck

And now for the photographic evidence:

titan

titan2

titan3


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