Aventinus der König of Weizenbocks.

It can make the perfect Easter Egg for the Beer Lover in Your Life.

Beer: Aventinus

Brewery: Private Weissbierbrauerei G. Schneider & Sohn GmbH (aka Schneider Weisse)

I don’t personally find Aventinus to be King of the Weizenbocks, I just wanted to type “der König”.  Aventinus while not my personal favorite, it is generally accepted as the standard bearer of the style.  Weizenbocks are strong German wheat beers, generally in the range of 6.5% – 8.0% abv (most commercially available versions are 7.5% to 8.5%). Continue reading

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Filed under Bottle Conditioned, Hefe Weizen, Top Fermenting, Uncategorized, Weizenbock

Wheat Wine. Weyerbacher 14

Beer: Weyerbacher Fourteen

Brewery: Weyerbacher Brewing Company

Wheat Wine is a truly American craft beer concoction and there are not many beer styles that can be attributed specifically to the United States. One of the better beer stories of the last decade occurred with Smuttynose Brewing Company’s Wheat Wine vs. the stupidity that is the Federal Government of the United States. Weyerbacher Brewing Company is located in Easton Pennsylvania. They make a wide array of beers, and I think their willingness to go to varying styles is what makes them worth seeking out. I have had a bit of an on and off relationship with the brewery in terms of their offerings. Their Belgian Strong Ale, Quad, is easily one of a hand full of wow beer experiences I have had in my craft beer drinking life. Their Belgian Tripel Merry Monks is worth seeking out (particularly if you can grab the 750 corked and caged bottles) while Double Simcoe is a tropical fruit hop cocktail for the Double IPA crowd. Continue reading

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Filed under Ale Yeast, Hefe Weizen, Wheat Wine

Good Wood. Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron.

Beer: Palo Santo Marron (February 17, 2009 bottling)

Palo Santo, the Holy Wood.

Brewery: Dogfish Head

I am going to try not to over indulge on words here.  Dogfish Head brewery has been a horse of a different color in the American Craft Beer scene since day one.   There slogan is Off Centered Ales for Off Centered People.  If you ask me there is nothing off-center about them, but then again that might because I am perhaps slightly off-center.  It is a Yang Yang thing, sans Yin. My first recollection of Dogfish Head was when I moved to New Jersey in the late spring of 2001.  I had come across two beers whose name and packaging had caught my eye, Indian Brown Ale and Chicory Stout.  The former was eye-opening and encouraged me to somewhat recklessly begin throwing brown sugar into my home-brew.  The latter made me enjoy the idea of having stout with breakfast in place of coffee.  The following spring I had my first taste of Immort Ale (an excellent beer that will be reviewed for cellaring soon) and just as I had hatched plans of grand journeys to visit Rehoboth Beach life began its twist and turns to new jobs.   Continue reading

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Filed under Ale Yeast, American Strong Ale, Dogfish Head, Strong Ale, Top Fermenting

Rogue John Squared

Beer: John John Ale

Brewery: Rogue Brewery

John & John. The Distiller and the Brewer.

The Rogue Brewery is one of a select few American Craft Breweries that can put some serious history on the mantle. Opening in later 1988, Rogue celebrated their two decades of brewing a little over a year ago. In my humble opinion Rogue’s brewery is blessed by one of the most talented and creative brewmasters in the United States. John Maier has been at the helm for Rogue since early 1989, only a few months after the breweries first batches rolled out. Maier currently brews nearly three dozen different ales and lagers for the brewery, the most recent release being an interesting take on one the breweries flagship beers, Dead Guy Ale. Continue reading

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Filed under Ale Yeast, Barrel Aged, Bottle Conditioned, Uncategorized

Friend of the Devil.

Beer: Hop Devil Ale vs. Wild Devil Ale

Brewery: Victory Brewing Company

Victory's Devilish Pair

So last post I did an overview of Ommegang Ommegeddon and the world of Brettanomyces.  If you read  that post you will recall I was underwhelmed by the most recent batch which lacked a lot of the punch that Brettanomyces offers as either a primary fermentation or bottle conditioning (aka re-fermentation) agent.  There is reason to believe that the bottle might have succumb to some sort of souring bacterial infection (sounds delicious right?) and I can add that when I attended a brewers panel at the Albany Pump Station last week, Ommegang’s Phil Lienhart more than hinted that it will be awhile before they release Ommegeddon again.  I was not able to get a direct one on one answer, but the impression I got from his commentary was that the last batch threw more than a curveball in the brewery.    But I digress, I wanted to quickly open another bottle featuring Brettanomyces in order to juxtapose the experience to Ommegeddon.  The choice was clear, Victory Brewing’s Wild Devil Ale, a 100% Brettanomyces fermented portrait of their India Pale Ale, Hop Devil. Continue reading

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Filed under Ale Yeast, American IPA, Bottle Conditioned, Brettanomyces, Hops, Wild Ale

Nearly Eight Years in the Bottle, J.W. Lees Harvest Ale 2002

Beer: Harvest Ale 2002

Brewery: J.W. Lees

Waiting is the hardest part.

Harvest Ale from J.W. Lees is a vintage dated offering concocted from the annual barley and hop yield in the British Isles.  The beer is made exclusively with Maris Otter malt and East Kent Goldings hops.  Michael Jackson (revered beer scribe, not pop artist) has an excellent write-up on some of the history behind the brewery and this particular offering. It includes a peek into a vertical tasting which he was able to partake on of vintages from 1986 thru 1995. Truly great stuff, you should definitely check it out.  I had the privilege of meeting Michael four years before he passed away at a tasting event in Philadelphia back in 2003.  A true character, a witty and colorful writer.  I am looking forward to the documentary film due to debut in conjunction with the Great American Beer Festival in October of this year.  Continue reading

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Filed under English Barleywine, Hops, Old Ale, Vintage Dated

Bring da Funk. Ommegeddon.

Beer: Ommegeddon, Batch #4 May 2009

Brewery: Ommegang

Brett from the one time Heartland of Hops.

Brettanomyces, the other yeast beast.  The majority of beer, and by majority I mean 99.9%, that is available to you or I, becomes said liquid via the important and humble micro-organism Saccharomyces cerevisiae (aka carlsbergensis, pastorianus and uvarum).  You could Wikipedia all that, it’s good fodder for a more scientific post. If you are really interested in some of the ins and outs of Brettanomyces, check out Chad Yakobson’s very cool The Brettanomyces Masters Project. I really went to school in the wrong lifetime.  More to the point, most fermented beverages would steer clear of Brettanomyces (Brett for short). Whereas most yeast used to ferment beer and other potable beverages lose their potency as the environment they exist in becomes toxic, Brett’s appetite for sugar is somewhat insatiable.  One of the bigger myths in regards to bottle conditioned ales is that they continue to Continue reading

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Filed under Ale Yeast, Bottle Conditioned, Brettanomyces, Sour, Wild Ale

Oak, Grape and Hops. Oh But Don’t Forget the Malt.

Oak, Grape and Hops?

Beer: Quercus Vitis Humulus

Brewery: Otter Creek

Quercus Vitis Humulus, is one of three impressive new releases from Otter Creek Brewing in 2009.  Otter Creak added a new member to the brew staff in late 2008, Mike Gerhart, who had worked previously at Dogfish Head.   Not a bad place to earn some stripes. Otter Creek has a great portfolio of extremely well made ales, including the Wolaver’s organic brew line which includes a really superb Oatmeal Stout. With changes to the absurdly puritanical alcohol cap laws of Vermont in July 2008, brewers were freed to make styles they could not legally offer their customers prior. Otter Creek is off to a fast start in the newly opened territory, their Imperial IPA and Imperial Stout have garnered rave reviews among craft beer enthusiasts.
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Filed under Champagne Yeast, Lager Yeast, Oak, Strong Ale

An Ale Worthy of Bears.

Beer: Hibernation Ale

Brewery: Great Divide

I might be giving away the store in the opening sentence, still Great Divide Hibernation Ale might just be a desert island beer. Granted you will want that to be a cold and icy desert. The first time I had the good fortune of trying this beer was via a six pack of the breweries 2005 bottling found in early 2007 at one of my local bottle shopping haunts. I had fancy dreams of saving a couple of those bottles for many years, alas they are no longer available having been tasted by me in delicious moments of haste.

You Can Accurately Celebrate Hibernation's Birthday!

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Filed under Old Ale

The Sunturnbrew. Get to know your Norwegian Smoked Barley Wines.

Beer: Sunturnbrew

Brewery: Nøgne Ø

Nøgne Ø is an independent craft brewery in Grimstad Norway. They have been in operation since the end of 2002, but have begun to turn heads in the craft beer community in the last couple of years. Their lineup of ales is very impressive and they take inspiration and some creative license to brew from the American craft brewery scene that blossomed into maturity in the 2000’s. Nøgne Ø beers are imported to the United States by Shelton Brothers.

The Sunturnbrew is an interesting story. I had seen in my beer store travels the breweries Imperial Stout and batch #100, the latter an American style Barleywine, but at close to $10 for a 16.9 ounce bottle I just was not terribly motivated. Then late last fall I saw the Sunturnbrew. Perhaps I am a sucker for good marketing, but the story of the Sunturnbrew motivated me to bring it to the counter. The story goes as follows: a beer brewed on December 21st to honor the Norwegian legend that the sun actually changes direction in the skies on Solstice. I don’t know anyone of Norwegian descent, but it sounds good enough to make a brew day to me. To date the beer has been brewed and released one time, with the origin of this batch beginning December 21, 2008, with a bottling in early 2009.
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Filed under Strong Ale