Monday, December 19, 2011

December 19th - New Belgium Lips of Faith Eric's Ale

Another week in the MoA brings us to yet another Lips of Faith offering from New Belgium. As I've said I have a bunch of these and this month should see several of them consumed.

Eric's Ale is one that's not even on their website anymore but being a sour ale I wasn't worried about sitting on this one.  It was aged in oak and refermented with peach juice.  I'm not picking up too much of the wood characteristics from this one but the tropical fruit notes are definitely there and in puckering fashion.

I'm thinking this beer would have been best drank on a hot summer day but considering I live in Minnesota, those days are too few and far between to be picky and the fact that it reminded me of such a day means it was a success nonetheless.  Cheers!

December 18th - Fitger's Wildfire Lager and Surly Smoke

Another week in the Month of Awesomeness finished up with a double shot of beer.  Surly Brewin'g's Smoke Lager was the main entry of the day but an even bigger drinking vessel was consumed first, Fitger's Wildfire Lager.

A few of us spent a weekend at the North Shore of Lake Superior last month and the trip really kicked off with an afternoon (ok, late morning into afternoon) of drinking at Fitger's brew pub in Duluth. I got through pretty much every beer that I wanted to try that day except the Wildfire Lager. I did have a sample of it and it was hot. I mean damn spicy hot.

They make it with peppers, habeneros and hatch I believe and it doesn't give just a tingly sensation like all other pepper beers but this stuff is like drinking Tabasco sauce. The flavor isn't as intense as Tabasco but the heat is definitely there. I was the only one in the group intrigued by it but the responsible side of me (there actually is one) kicked in and said I had enough at that point. So I did the next best thing and bought a growler.

Fast forward to yesterday. I knew I'd need help with the growler and I also knew it would pair perfectly with food so I enlisted the help of my friend Noe who has been a big help in my Mexican cooking skills. He really liked the beer like I knew he would and he was surprised at the heat that came from the beer. What we both really liked was the pepper flavor that is very prevalent in this beer as well.

Needless to say it paired very well with the tamales, carnitas and chorizo that we ate for lunch. One pint was plenty for me so I decided to save the rest of the growler to make my own carnitas tonight with it. I'm really looking forward to it, especially since I'm making my carnitas with my new favorite pepper, pablanos. I love the smokiness you get from them and can't wait to see how the beer and the peppers work together.

The next beer is a style that's a usual suspect when Noe and I get together for beers and dinner, smoked beers.  It's a style of beer that I'm not crazy about by itself but is one of my favorites when paired with food. This was a bottle from my cellar and not from the upcoming release and while the smoke faded slightly, the presence still left made for a nice glass of beer to finish up the meal with.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

December 17th - Sierra Nevada Ovila Saison

The Ovila Saison has been waiting to be consumed for a long time so the MoA is the perfect time to do it. I'm not saying that it has been in the collection for longer than most others but it's a beer that would have been opened a long time ago if not for one little detail. I really wanted the matching glass.

I really liked the glass the first time I saw it and did my best to track one down locally since I had placed an order for Sierra Nevada swag last year and didn't really want much. I eventually started asking around to see if anybody else wanted to go in with me to save on shipping (the reason I don't order stuff more often). We got lucky and last month they ran a free shipping on orders of $100 or more. Done and done.

I also have a couple bottles of the Ovila Dubbel that have been waiting around for the same reason. I had both beers on tap at Bricks when they first came out so I wasn't in a hurry to open them. The third release in the Ovila series (the quad) dropped this past week so I figured it was time to finally crack one.

The other thing that made it time was that the Four Firkins got in new shipment of the saison and at a damn good deal even ($7.99 a bottle).  I bought a few more to stash because as I said on Friday, saisons are one of my favorite beers to pair with meals. You should too.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

December 16th - Ommegang Hennepin

Friday night saw us come to the end of the Ommegang run but it was a damn good run. Hennepin is the only beer from the week that is a part of their regular lineup but that doesn't make it any less awesome

This is the bottle that came with the aforementioned gift pack and it's one of my go to saisons because it's pretty easy to find. Since I wanted to finish off the work week how I started it, I decided to make my ever popular pasta last night because I knew it would pair very well with the Hennepin. 

I was right. It did. Saisons/farmhouse ales have become my drink of choice when it comes to a dish with garlic because the spices in the beer compliment the spices that I usually cook those dishes with. You should totally try it sometime soon.

Don't cook or don't have saisons? Come on over some night. I'll hook you up.

So ended a great week of some really nice beers from a solid brewery. Luckily I still have some Chocolate Indulgence and plenty of Three Philosophers to satisfy my fix for them when it arises in the future.

December 15th - Ommegang Biere de Mars

Halfway through the MoA brought us to yet another bottle of Ommegang that has served as a bar decoration for sometime now, the Biere de Mars.

I wasn't sure how this one would hold up being one of the bottles I wanted to drink awhile ago but it's another one made with brett and it did some nice things to the beer.  Looks like it's the only bottle I'll ever have since it appears to be retired but I'm at peace knowing that the one bottle I did drink contributed to an awesome project like MoA!

December 14th - Ommegang Aphrodite

Yeah, by Wednesday there was a definite theme to this week's MoA beers. I've had a good looking row of Ommegang bottles for a long time, too long in my opinion and I figured I'd keep knocking them down. This time I went for the Aphrodite.

Definitely one of the more unique beers I've had and that's in a totally good way.  Made with pear, raspberries, grains of paradise and brett and the combo worked.  The brett didn't come through as much as I expected but it did add just enough.

I've realized that my dislike of raspberry flavored stuff over the years is likely a result from the fake flavoring in everything that I tried growing up (candy, kool aid, etc) and when something like this is made with real raspberries, I'm on board. 

Great beer, something I'd drink again and something I'd try pushing to a wine drinker who doesn't like beer (assuming they'd want to be pushed, no need to waste good beer on someone stubborn!).

December 13th - Ommegang Gnomegang

Tuesday brought not only another Ommegang beer to the MoA but another collaboration beer, this time brewed with Brasserie d’Achouffe. This is the beer that comes in a gift pack with Hennepin and Three Philosophers and a glass for a ridiculously low price (you couldn't buy all three beers let alone the glass for the price I've seen the set go for).

So yep, that's how I got mine. This beer was never on my radar but I figured that even if this beer sucked, I still got a bottle of Three Philosophers, a bottle of Hennepin and a glass for less than $30.

The beer didn't suck. It wasn't awesome and it certainly wasn't nearly as good as the Zuur from the night before but it was still a solid beer worth drinking and worth its place in the gift pack.

December 12th - Ommegang Zuur

I thought it might be tough to keep up with MoA (I'm not typing the damn thing out every time anymore) on the same night as Beer Club but I'm persistent, I knew I could make it work.

After almost everybody cleared out, it was time to open up a bottle that I had put away. I told Hoffman to pick out the bottle that would become Beer Club extra credit and Monday's entry into MoA. There were a couple offerings from Ommegang but it was an easy choice for him since he had not had the Zuur.

I didn't realize until we opened it that it was not only a collaboration with Liefman's but it appears that it was brewed there as well.

It was about the exact opposite from the beers we had during Beer Club (old ales) but the sour kick to this beer was enough to reawaken the palates in the bar. Not sure if they'll be making this one again but I'd buy it in a heartbeat if they ever do.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

December 11th - New Belgium Lips of Faith Prickly Passion Saison

Time nearly ran out on Sunday's entry into the Month of Awesomeness but it was saved in the 22nd hour of the day by another Lips of Faith offering by New Belgium. This time it was the Prickly Passion Saison.

It's no secret that saisons are one my favorite styles of beer but I initially passed on it because I already have way too much beer and one of my Getting Tanked with Frank partners Mark told me he didn't care for it (he promised his review of it is coming soon on his blog).

I'm not sure what exactly convinced me to toss it in the cart last month but I'm glad I did. Again, the entries this month aren't about detailed tasting notes so you won't get them here. It was a nice solid saison in my opinion and the addition of the passion fruit and prickly pear didn't take over the beer but gave it some separation from other saisons and a nice unique quality.

Not only was I glad I bought a bottle but assuming I have a little more room in the house after the Month of Awesomeness is over I might seek out another bottle or two for the future.

I have a box full of Lips of Faith beers and have been waiting for a stretch like this to open them. If this one and the Fresh Hop IPA are any indication, it's gonna make this month that much more awesome.

December 10th - Stone 15th Anniversary Escondidian Imperial Black IPA

I managed to fit a moment of Awesomeness into the middle of Toy Fest on Saturday with the latest Stone Anniversary beer.

I split this one three ways but still stayed on track to reduce the inventory a bit. I didn't notice a huge difference between it and the Stone Sublimely Self Righteous but I'd have to try them side by side to verify.

This beer was definitely good enough that I'd be glad to buy another bottle to do just that sometime.  Cheers!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

December 9th - New Belgium Lips of Faith Fresh Hop IPA

I managed to sneak in a bomber Friday night while putting the final touches on Toy Fest prep. No need to put the Month of Awesomeness off the burner when it could be staying alive on the back burner.

I wasn't sure which one to pick until I realized I still had a bomber of a fresh hop IPA waiting in my fridge for me. I've been sitting on quite a few Lips of Faith bombers for awhile and decided the Month of Awesomeness would be a good time to take down a few of them and the Fresh Hop IPA was the logical place to start especially since Allison wanted to share it with me.

Naturally this would have been better a few weeks ago when I first bought it but I thought it was still pretty damn good.  Not in the neighborhood of my favorite fresh hop beer (Founders Harvest Ale) but still had great hops aromas and flavors to make make my senses happy.

December 8th - Samuel Adams The Vixen

Hopefully I didn't scare anybody into thinking that the Month of Awesomeness had ended. Hell, it wasn't even on hiatus. It just wasn't being documented in a timely fashion due to Isenberg Toy Fest 2011 last weekend.

The Vixen by Samuel Adams is here to fix that. Well, it was here last Thursday anyway. 

I'm not sure why Sam Adams gets ragged on by some beer geeks but I think they're full of shit. They're the same people who only listened to [insert any band that started small and made it big] before they caught on with everybody else and now that more people know about them they're not any good.  Whatever.

I was excited to see Sam Adams get outside the box with offerings like the Imperial Series, the Barrel Room Collection and now whatever-the-hell they call this series (their website isn't so user friendly).

I'm a big fan of their chocolate bock and when I saw this on the shelf at a reasonable price (I think I paid around $5-6something for it) I thought I'd give it a whirl. Peppers in a beer used to scare me off but I've learned when they're in a stout or something like this beer they're there more for effect than actual flavor.

This was no exception. Nice chocolate flavor highlighted by the little bit of tingle from the peppers. I really liked this beer and would drink it again for sure, especially as an after dinner dessert scenario.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

December 7th - Kasteel Rouge and Steel Toe Provider Ale

Yet another installment of the Month of Awesomeness. Last night's edition featured Kasteel Rouge. As with many beers, this one had an odd way getting into my house. I stumbled across a steal of a deal for the Kasteel glass ($2.99!) and then realized I had never had any of their beers. When I saw they had one made with cherries, I was sold. Actually the beer was sold. To me.

I'm a fan of this one. It reminds me of a couple favorites in the cherry beer realm, Wisconsin Belgian Red (still the king) and Leifman's Red. This one did not score very high on the appearance scale, it looked like murky brownish red swamp water. Luckily, it tasted damn good. And that's all the matters.

I also had a bonus entry into the MoA last night, the Steel Toe Provider Ale. No boring stories to go along with this one. It's just a good beer from a new local brewery that I'd like to help support. You should too!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

December 6th - Deschutes Fresh Hop Mirror Pond

Awesomeness rolls on with a beer I had once before and wasn't too impressed with that time. I had this last time after several other beers and was a bit underwhelmed with it. The hops were noticeable in a fresh aroma and flavor way but did nothing to contribute any bitterness. It wasn't a bad beer to me, just an incomplete one.

Fast forward to this time. I definitely liked it more and I'm thinking it was because it wasn't competing with other beers when I was drinking it. Could have also been that 16 oz gave a better chance of the beer growing on me vs the 7 oz that I had the first time around. Or it could just have been that some beers taste better/worse some days than others.

Regardless, it's a nice beer if you want to try it and certainly not overpriced at $5 a bomber (bombers being over priced theory excluded) but not one that I'd tell you to seek out. This may have fallen short of the awesomeness that's expected of this month, but the Founders Harvest Ale and Brau Brothers Hundred Yard Dash that I drank before it certainly bridged the gap to keep this month awesome.

Monday, December 5, 2011

December 5th - Leech Lake Brewing Company's 3 Sheets Imperial India Pale Ale

The Month of Awesomeness continues with a 3 Sheets Imperial IPA from Leech Lake Brewing Company. The brewery first showed up on my radar thanks to my good buddy Captain Dave who discovered them because they're very near to his cabin.

He hooked me up with this 750ml of their monster of a double IPA a little while ago and this month seemed like the time to finally crack it. I can't recall many (if any) British style double IPA's but I'm gonna go ahead and say this is one. Big hops, big malt balance but no floral/citrus notes that I'm used to in the American/West Coast style IIPA's.

It's a damn good beer and, for those of us in Minnesota, is another opportunity to drink local. They're actually doing a tasting at the Four Firkins on Thursday night so if you're not busy get over there and sample some of their other stuff!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

December 4th - Unibroue Terrible

Today's contribution to the Month of Awesomeness is Unibroue's Terrible.

This is a beer I've been sitting on for awhile but I've been excited to try it as I've heard good things.  I'll start with the only real complaint I've had about Unibroue's beers before, they seem to have a "house taste". I'm not sure where that comes from but I am pretty sure I could tell a beer is from Unibroue based off the taste & aroma of it and not knowing anything else.

Luckily, they make pretty good beers so the fact that they're similar isn't a big deal to me personally. As for this one, the only thing terrible about it is trying to get it to show up in a picture. Not the greatest shot folks but a damn good beer that you should try if given an opportunity.  Cheers!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

December 3rd - Stone Cali-Belgique IPA

Day three of the Month of Awesomeness brings us to a Stone Cali-Belgique IPA. I should have probably drank this one awhile ago but to be honest I wasn't sure how much I'd like the style.  It intrigued me enough to buy a bottle though and I finally got around to drinking it.

It was a nice occurrence of serendipity because Allison was in the mood for Thai food and brought home some Sawatdee right after I opened the bottle and it paired very nicely with the Cali-Belgique. Not sure I'll buy it again but I'm glad I tried it at least once and even more glad that I stumbled across a nice pairing with it.

December 2nd - Boulevard Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale

The second beer in the Month of Awesomeness is the a 750ml of Boulevard Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale.  It's one of my few remaining in this size bottle, they now come in 12 oz bottles and the cork and cages are harder to find. I still have a couple more I bought a few when it first came out because it's one of Allison's favorites (so I once again shared).

It was a very nice beer to drink although I couldn't help but wish I had some nice cheese to pair with it. It's a good beer on its own but I'm thinking it would have been twice as good with a good pairing.  I did get to finally break in my new Smokestack glasses.

December 1st - Great Divide 16th Anniversary Wood Aged Double IPA

The Month of Awesomeness kicks off with an offering from Great Divide. Loved this beer just like the 15th Anniversary Wood Aged Double IPA.

I shared it with Allison but had to switch glasses with Allison because she wasn't a fan of all the floaties in her glass. Guess I should have dumped the bottom of the bottle in mine because I don't mind them at all.

A Month of Awesomeness

I was inspired by Brian & Co's Beer Advent Calendar and decided I might do my own version of it only with a lot more drinking and a lot less writing. My version will consist of drinking a different bomber or 750ml out of my bar every day this month.

They don't have to be new to me but they have to be new to the month (i.e. repeats don't count). I'll share some, some I'll drink all on my own. I'll drink more than one some days but I'll drink at least one every day and post a pic and a couple words about it.

Basically I figured I needed a good plan for inventory reduction this month and also a good excuse to post some good beer pics and some nice glassware. But mainly, I'm looking forward to some awesome beers.