Archive for January, 2010

21st amendment monk’s blood

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

the can in the glass

even though I slept on monk’s blood, 21st amendment’s latest canned offering, for a few months, I still managed to score a 4-pack at the bevmo on van ness last week.

  • monk’s blood is a great addition to shaun o’sullivan’s lineup.  it is a very clean beer and remarkably drinkable for a belgian strong.
  • in fact, the beer drinks like a 5% abv beer, when in reality it clocks in at 8.3% abv.  I can see someone knocking down the whole 4-pack before they wise up.
  • I would recommend grabbing a couple cubes of this brew along with some gordon and tossing em in the cooler to mingle with the usual suspects at a BBQ, if only for the reaction from the BMC crowd when they crack one open.
  • you might want to get this brew while you can though, I guess it’s a limited run.  hopefully 21A will keep releasing canned specialties to complement their existing lineup (maybe toss a barleywine in there?)

monk's blood packaging

monk's blood

SF beer week 2010

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

sf beer week!

it’s about that time again.

  • SF beer week starts a little over a week from now (friday 02/05) and runs through sunday 02/14.
  • there are a ton of events at a wide variety of venues this year.  some lineup favorites include the double IPA festival at the bistro, a fritz maytag brewer’s lunch at hopmonk tavern, sour fest at triple rocka dinner featuring magnolia and dogfish head at bar tartine, a rare moonlight beer night with brian hunt at bobby g’s (looks like he’ll also be over at monk’s kettle), and about a dozen more.  damn, I couldn’t even make it down the list.
  • also, if you have the coin, be sure to check out fellow BABB blog beer and nosh’s mostly barrel aged beer dinner, where the food looks to be as impressive as the brews.  more info can be found here. edit – this event is sold out! hope you got tickets!
  • another BABB member, wet your whistles, will be doing a caltrain pub crawl.
  • I also just found out from DH about fellow BABBer sean paxton’s beer dinner on the 11th.  AP and I will be there!
  • personally, my definitive beer week schedule has yet to be finalized.  anyone have any recommendations?  anyone up for tapping the overcarbed steam beer keg at a little SF potluck get-together?  let me know!

ballast point sculpin

Monday, January 25th, 2010

sculpin IPA

during one of CB’s past brew sessions, he whipped out a bottle of ballast point‘s sculpin to sample during the sparge.

  • sculpin is a limited-release IPA with a reputation for great drinkability and balance.
  • after having it on draft and in the bottle, I would have to agree – the beer is a great example of an IPA, with a great citrusy hop aroma and bitter finish that is strong but not overwhelming.
  • I’m not sure why this is a limited release, but if ballast point made this a mainstay (and charged a little less for a bomber), it could be their pliny the elder.  I don’t know why a kickass IPA has to be a “limited release” (unless there’s some fresh hop action going on that I am unaware of).
  • FYI – check out the info on the sculpin namesake.

sculpin IPA

de proefbrouwerij/bell’s van twee

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

the van twee pour

back when I was grinding out my partial mash IPA, I decided to crack open a bottle of van twee gifted to me by PB and NB.

  • van twee was brewed as a collaboration between de proefbrouwerij in east flanders and bell’s brewery in kalamazoo, michigan (van twee means “from two” in flemish).
  • for more info on the collaboration, check out this great blog post.
  • CB was over and feigned excitement when this bottle was popped.  at first I was confused – I mean how could a de proef collab (that had previously resulted in brews like les deux brasseurs) be anything less than excellent?
  • however, when I tasted my pour I discovered what CB had been thinking.  the beer was a little thin, and although it had a great cherry aroma, it left me wanting a little more.
  • in a perfect world, I would drink another bottle at a warmer temperature and tuck away yet another for a couple years to develop some of the funkiness promised and hinted at on beeradvocate.  however, these bottles are likely far too expensive to hoard and experiment with.

twee in the glass

bottle of twee

handy delicatessen outer sunset

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

handy deli

heh, I wrote “outer sunset” like it was a different city.

this MLK weekend I managed to fit in a few beer-related events, including a bevmo run and a trip to magnolia with AP for some great eats and a kalifornia kolsch, oysterhead stout, proving ground IPA, and sara’s ruby mild.

however, the highlight of my weekend was discovering a great liquor store/sandwich shop in the outer sunsethandy delicatessen.

  • handy delicatessen is a little liquor store with a big local and european beer selection.  they stock the standard lineup but had plenty of hard to find beers (check out the pics!)
  • to top it off, they have a deli sandwich counter where you can order up some pretty decent, fat sandwiches on the cheap (I don’t think any were over $4).  just remember to ask if you want your sandwich hot (I didn’t think they made cold pastrami sandwiches, go figure…).
  • plus, they’re open till 2am – perfect if you’re in the area and want some late-night specialty brews and a good sandwich to finish off the night.
  • overall, handy deli is a good store to add to your city-wide beer hunt lineup, and a must-visit if you’re over on irving street near 19th.

lineup at handy deli

deli counter at handy

coolers at handy

more coolers at handy

unibroue terrible

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

terrible lineup

unibroue was a very influential player during my transformation into a beer geek.

  • back in my U of I days, where one king ruled the land, I thought I was innovative as hell when I would buy a sixer of dos equis lager or red stripe.
  • however, my mind was mildly blown one night out at some bar (boltini’s, perhaps?) when a friend ordered up a couple bottles of la fin du monde.
  • admittedly impressed by the bottle art and high abv, I gave it a shot, and was wholly unprepared for the flavor, carbonation, and aroma that followed.
  • unibroue thus became my “favorite” brewery, and remained my favorite for many years.  I kept coming back to those big belgian bottles when my student budget allowed.
  • one of my favorites in their lineup was (and still is) terrible, an abbey style strong dark ale.  bottles of terrible were popped on many a special occasion in years past.
  • as with all brews from these guys, terrible shows vigorous carbonation, and my pour has a great initial head that dies down after a bit.
  • the aroma is boozy with some fruitiness, and the body is spicy and roasty.  this beer is definitely a good idea as an after dinner/dessert drink, as recommended by the brewers.
  • FYI, The French expression ce n’est pas terrible is a weird one, because the word terrible is a semi-false cognate par excellence, as it can mean either “terrible” or “terrific.” (cite)
  • check back for more unibroue reviews in the future, including a 2+ year/fresh fin du monde bottle comparison.

terrible closeup

terrible bottle

double IPA brew day at CB’s

Monday, January 11th, 2010

sweet wort no more!

the same weekend I was whipping up my partial mash IPA, CB was one-upping me with a 10-gallon all-grain double IPA brew day.

  • now outfitted with a pump and quick disconnects, CB’s brewery was ready for any challenge.
  • the pump made quick work of transferring sparge water to the HLT and transferring wort to the fermenters after cooling.
  • I rolled by during the mash, and it was only a matter of a couple hours (and a TON of hop additions) until the wort was ready to be cooled.
  • the only bottleneck left in the setup?  chilling 10 gallons of boiling wort to pitching temps takes quite some time with a 5 gallon immersion chiller.
  • however, I hear a therminator may be on the horizon, and if that is the case, CB will be able to knock out a 10 gallon all-grain batch in the the same time is takes me to whip up a partial mash brew.
  • seeing CB’s setup (and tasting the results – no more extract twang!) has convinced me that it is time to move up to all-grain: last week I picked up a turkey fryer setup and will use that and my homemade cooler mash tun to do some outdoor batch sparginganyone have any suggestions for a first batch style?

the starter and supplies

pumping wort after the boil

pumping the cool wort into the fermenters

pitching the starter

samiclaus classic

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

samiclaus with bottle

one of the leftovers of the first strong beers session was a bottle of brauerei schloss eggenberg’s samicalus bier that CB brought over.  after he told me it was one of his favorites, I had to give it a try.

  • samiclaus is very potent, clocking in at 14% abv.  I read somewhere that it held a guinness record for strongest lager (although, with all the freak beers out there these days, it’s hard to believe that record still stands).
  • beeradvocate classifies it as a dopplebock, but in my opinion, this type of alcohol puts the brew in the general (belgian-inspired) category of  “strong beer.”
  • the beer is brewed one day a year (12/6), and there are even events out there to celebrate it.
  • even after a cold pour, a slight alcohol note was present in the glass.  the beer had a sweet malt back that was smooth with a slightly estery finish.
  • after drinking about a quarter of the glass, I could see how this bad boy could have caused a lot of headaches.  the alcohol isn’t totally up-front, but it isn’t hidden either – it’s just teetering on the precipice.
  • in the future, I would readily split a bottle of this with 3 or more friends, or grab one to hold on to for at least 5 years, since, according to the brewer, “older vintages obtain a complexity and receive their creamy warm aftertaste.”

samiclaus top

samiclaus in the glass

samiclaus bottle

pizza port bottle shop carlsbad

Tuesday, January 5th, 2010

port bottle shop outside

my folks are fortunate enough to live a stone’s throw from pizza port in carlsbad, and whenever I am down for a visit I can’t resist the temptation to stop by.  when the pizza port bottle shop opened next door it just sweetened the deal.

  • the spot is very reminiscent of city beer store, although no food is served (not surprisingly) and there is a back patio to chill out at, although there aren’t any seats inside.
  • there is also no corkage fee here, whereas city beer charges $1 a pop (last time I checked).
  • the place is packed with great beers, and most all are chilled (for better or worse).  they seem to be mostly organized by region, so moving from cooler to cooler is like doing a little beverage globetrotting.
  • as I had hoped, a cooler by the register had plenty of port/lost abbey goodies, including 2 sizes of cuvee de tomme and angel’s share – too bad I didn’t have a wad of cash on me!
  • to top it off, I was shooting it with the cashier and found out he worked at the bruery.  I love how connected the beer scene is in CA (not to mention the rest of the US).
  • all in all, the pizza port bottle shop is not to be missed – it has plenty of bottles that are not available or hard to find up in SF, as well as friendly staff and locals.  I’m actually glad I don’t live nearby, or temptation would attack my wallet with a vengeance.

tables at port bottle shop

some of the booty at port bottle shop

the coolers at port bottle shop

anchor small beer

Monday, January 4th, 2010

small beer in the glass

lately I have been picking up as many bottles of anchor brewing’s small beer as I can handle.

  • the beer gets a crappy rating on beeradvocate, which categorizes it as an american pale ale.
  • however, this beer is definitely not an APA – it is a small beer (see bottom of article), a brew made with the second runnings of a stronger beer, following an ages-old practice that is pretty much extinct in modern brewing, craft or otherwise.
  • the beer is crisp, well-carbonated, and bitter, and is perfect for a hot day in the park, clocking in at a modest 3.3% abv.
  • it is also a great beer to drink to reflect on brewing tradition.  in taste and aroma, the graininess of the brew is more pronounced than in standard beers, and is reminiscent of sniffing an open mash tun or taking a sip of some sweet wort.
  • the homebrew geek in me loves what this beer stands for and agrees with anchor that “the idea of reviving an ancient brewing tradition… is something of great importance.”
  • if you see this beer around, give it a shot! it is an inexpensive history lesson and a great way to cool off.

small beer closeup

glass of small beer

small beer bottle