Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Primo Lager

This past winter, my sister went on a trip to Hawaii and being the wonderful sister that she is, she brought me back some rum and a bunch of beer to try. Some of the stuff, like Maui Brewing, I had seen before, but others were brand new to me. For instance, Primo Island Lager is a beer that I hadn't heard of before. Being an "Island Lager" I wasn't really expecting much, as they are usually meant more as a thirst quencher than a flavor forward beer. On the other hand, craft beers usually have to give you at least a unique and interesting flavor to survive in the beer market. I decided to be optimistic. 


Unfortunately my gut was correct. It is little more than an underwhelming lawn mower beer. It has a taste like sweet, grainy water. The flavor goes away quickly and leave only a slight sweet aftertaste. It isn't offensive, but it also doesn't make me what to drink it. I'm sure it would be much better sitting on a Hawaiian beach than on a cold winter night on the East Coast. Nonetheless, the only way I will be drinking another Primo is if I am in Hawaii and looking for a local beach beer. 

After minimal research, it turns out that Primo is owned by Pabst, which had I known that prior to tasting it, would probably have diminished my opinion even further. I'll leave it as: It is not a good beer, but it isn't offensive.

Glassware: Pint, Bottle

Synonym Beer: It is like a sweet version of Rolling Rock.

If you want me to look at a particular beer, drink, place, or have anything to say to me, email me at monksandmalts@gmail.com. Find me on Facebook and Twitter (@ofmonksandmalts). You can also buy my pictures here: http://fineartamerica.com/profiles/robert-rizzolo.html. 



Thursday, June 13, 2013

J.W. Lees Harvest 2005 (Lagavulin)

I am a big fan of Lagavulin 16 Year Scotch Whisky. Naturally, when I saw a beer that had been aged in Lagavulin casks, I jumped at the opportunity, regardless of the fact that it was about $17 for a 9.3 oz bottle. This is one of those beers that I am happy to have tried it, but I don't think I will be going back for seconds. 


I'm not sure what it was about this beer that I didn't particularly love. It could be that it is a Barelywine, a style that I don't particularly care for. It could be that it was aged for about 8 years by the time that I consumed it. It was just too sweet for me. There wasn't nearly enough Lagavulin for me to justify the amount of money I spent on such a small bottle. I am glad that I only gave myself a 2 oz tasting (I split it with my family). It was boozy and sweet, which in combination, is really unpleasant to me. I will be open to trying this again, provided it is on the younger side and the price is substantially less. Maybe my palate isn't refined enough for a beer this style. What I do know is that I didn't understand this beer and I'm not ashamed to admit it. Never pretend to like a beer that you don't. There is no reason to do that. 

Glassware: Snifter

Synonym Beer: Couldn't tell you. 

If you want me to look at a particular beer, drink, place, or have anything to say to me, email me at monksandmalts@gmail.com. Find me on Facebook and Twitter (@ofmonksandmalts). You can also buy my pictures here: http://fineartamerica.com/profiles/robert-rizzolo.html.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Andygator

I was honestly very surprised by this one. I didn't really know what to expect. I know that Abita has a couple beers that I really enjoy, specifically Turbodog (Brown ale), but I didn't know how a Helles Doppelbock would be. I've never had one before, how could I? 

As you may know, a Doppelbock is a dark, heavy German lager. I think this has more in common with the Maibock, which are traditionally as strong as Doppelbocks, but with a lighter color and less heavy flavor. 


Andygator was very pleasant. It was largely dry, but had a sweet finish that you would associate with bocks. The malts and hops used are perfect for recreating a German style. It is a tad heavy on the alcohol for my tastes. You do get a little bit of booziness in the flavor, but that is more of a reflection on the style than the beer, I think. It would be a nice beer to share on a cool summer night. This is one that I will definitely be buying in the future. 

Glassware: Stein, Pilsner glass

Synonym Beer: Victory St. Boisterous 

If you want me to look at a particular beer, drink, place, or have anything to say to me, email me at monksandmalts@gmail.com. Find me on Facebook and Twitter (@ofmonksandmalts). You can also buy my pictures here: http://fineartamerica.com/profiles/robert-rizzolo.html.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

E.S.Bam

If you have read this blog before, then you probably know that I love Jolly Pumpkin. You might know that they produce a variety of funky, sour beers that I find to be delicious. Some people, however, aren't as big of a fan of the funk and some people love hops. You might think that Jolly Pumpkin has nothing to offer them. You are most likely wrong. 


I'm not saying that hop heads will definitely like E.S. Bam, especially if they don't appreciate funky beers, but it does hold two extremes for Jolly Pumpkin. E.S. Bam is (in my opinion) the least funky of the JP beers as well as the hoppiest. It does have at least one thing in common with the others, it is damn refreshing. It is a seasonal April release, so you might be able to find it around now. The beer brings more hops and more malt to their Bam farmhouse ale, which add some interesting citrus and grassy aromas to the nose. The taste confused my palate for a bit until I got used to it, as there are so many different flavors competing for superiority. Once I got used to it, it turned out to be a very unique, refreshing beer.


When it comes down to it, I'm not sure that Jolly Pumpkin is even capable of making a beer that disappoints me. They do great work. All the time. 

Glassware: Saison, Tulip

Synonym Beer: Jack D'or (if it had funk to it)

If you want me to look at a particular beer, drink, place, or have anything to say to me, email me at monksandmalts@gmail.com. Find me on Facebook and Twitter (@ofmonksandmalts). You can also buy my pictures here: http://fineartamerica.com/profiles/robert-rizzolo.html.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Breckenridge 471 Double IPA

Certain IPAs are wonderfully balanced. This is a skill that not every brewery has, or even wants, for that matter. It takes very little skill to make a strong beer that is very heavy on the hops. Fortunately for the producers of those beers, some people actually like that. Given the fact that I run into so many unbalanced IPAs, it was a real treat to find Breckenridge 471 Double IPA.


471 is a good deal easier drinking than it probably should be. Since it is 9.2% ABV, you should be a bit careful that you don’t down it too quick, and you might want to think about whether or not you want to drink a few in one sitting. The beer itself is really nice. It is jammed full of hop aroma and flavor. The bitterness is cut by a light sweetness from the malt. You will get some nice citrusy notes and a hint of booziness, but nothing strong enough to offend me.


It doesn’t pack the insane punch that many DIPAs do. I would put it somewhere in between IPA and DIPA, tending toward the IPA side in terms of flavor. I personally found it to be a great beer and one that I would choose over a lot of other DIPAs. If you like your hops, give it a shot.

Glassware: Pint, Snifter

Synonym Beer: Saranac Imperial IPA

If you want me to look at a particular beer, drink, place, or have anything to say to me, email me at monksandmalts@gmail.com. Find me on Facebook and Twitter (@ofmonksandmalts). You can also buy my pictures here: http://fineartamerica.com/profiles/robert-rizzolo.html.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Krombacher Dark

Some people only like only light beer, others only dark beer. Both of these sets are wrong. I know you can't really be wrong when it is a personal opinion, but nonetheless, they are wrong. As I have said before, all type of beer have their place. Sometimes, you just might not expect what that place is. 


Krombacher Dark is a relatively easy to find dark German lager. It is very light in alcohol (at 4.3%) and surprisingly light in body. Usually when people (who don't like it) hear about dark beer they think of ultra heavy, roasted beers. Dark German lager might be a bit roasty and malty, but they are in no way heavy. They were effectively designed to have a little bit bigger and different of a flavor than the common German light lagers, yet still designed in the same way. This means that they were meant to be consumed in mass quantity. Why do you think they are often served in 1 L steins? It's because the German love their beer and they know they can drink that much. Krombacher has all of the refreshing body of a light lager, but with a nice roasted flavor. It has a nice caramel sweetness, which is one of the things that separates it from the light lagers, which can be a little grainy sometimes. Like with many German beers, I could go into great depth describing the subtle nature of the beers components, but that isn't really the spirit of those beers. They are best enjoyed with a nice meal, good friends, and a good time. 


Glassware: Mug, Stein, Pilsner Glass

Synonym Beer: Köstritzer Schwarzbier (the classic German Dark Lager)

If you want me to look at a particular beer, drink, place, or have anything to say to me, email me at monksandmalts@gmail.com. Find me on Facebook and Twitter (@ofmonksandmalts). You can also buy my pictures here: http://fineartamerica.com/profiles/robert-rizzolo.html.



Tuesday, May 21, 2013

3Beans

I am a pretty big fan of Sixpoint. I think that they produce great beer, have awesome designs, and are made up of some pretty great people. One thing that I love is that they are constantly producing new, interesting beers. 

Meet 3Beans, Sixpoint's (relatively) new canned beer. Like the Resin, it was released in the 12 ounce "Red Bull" cans. Unlike the Resin, it is a limited release (unless they decide to brew it again). As the name suggests, it is made with three different varieties of beans: cacao, coffee, and romano beans. 


This is one hefty beer. It is 10% ABV, which means that it was probably a good idea for them to only can in the 12 ouncers. It is a chocolate, coffee Baltic porter, so it has a good deal of body to it. This is a perfect beer for a cold night, dessert, or maybe if you need something to sustain you for a day. What it brings in body, it also brings in flavor. This was delicious. It certainly won't be for everyone, but if you like beers big and dark, then you will enjoy 3Beans immensely. I particularly loved the texture of the beer. I'm not sure if the addition of the beans had anything to do with it, but it seemed to be a little thicker and a little richer than most porters. Even though it was pretty expensive (~$15 for a 4 pack), it was also pretty damn worthwhile. At this point, you might be hard pressed to find it, but lucky for you, I still have some and I'm always willing to trade. 

Glassware: Can, Pint, Snifter

Synonym Beer: Hard to say taste-wise, but Founder's Porter is close in terms of quality. 

If you want me to look at a particular beer, drink, place, or have anything to say to me, email me at monksandmalts@gmail.com. Find me on Facebook and Twitter (@ofmonksandmalts). You can also buy my pictures here: http://fineartamerica.com/profiles/robert-rizzolo.html.







Thursday, May 16, 2013

Saranac High Peaks Wet Hop IPA

One of the main reasons that people criticize Saranac is that they don't have many big, bold beers. What most people don't realize is that Saranac wants it that way. Their goal is to make a good variety of session-able beers (generally <5% ABV), that allow you to drink a couple and not get drunk. That being said, they are also receptive to the desires of the market. Since many craft beer fans want strong, big beers, Saranac started their High Peaks Series. 


As I indicated, the High Peaks Series is a line of beers that Saranac makes to be a little bigger, and in some cases, more experimental. Some of the recent ones are: Lemon Ginger Saison, Imperial IPA, Imperial Stout, Chocolate Orange Porter, and Wet Hop IPA. The Wet Hop IPA is the one I will be focusing on today. In case you are wondering, Wet Hop IPA indicates that the hops are not dried before they are used in the brewing process. The hops were used within 24 hours of being picked. Generally they are dried in kilns to preserve them better until the brewing process. Ideally, this gives a fresher hop flavor than dried hops can manage. In addition, the hops were all hand picked in New York State by friends of the brewery, which I'm sure made for a wonderful little event. 

While Saranac brewed this beer as a Double IPA, it is much lighter than most. It is only 7% ABV, so it is lighter in alcohol than many standard IPAs. Personally, I found the flavor of this beer to be fantastic. It was packed full of hops, but wasn't overwhelmingly bitter. The freshness was pretty apparent, though I'm not entirely sure if the same freshness couldn't be achieved by using dried hops. It is citrusy, but has a good maltiness in the body. It is everything that I like in an IPA, but on the lighter side.   


If you are one of those "big beer" kind of people, don't count Saranac out. Give the High Peaks Series a try. You might like it.

Glassware: Pint, Tulip

Synonym Beer: Sierra Nevada Harvest 

If you want me to look at a particular beer, drink, place, or have anything to say to me, email me at monksandmalts@gmail.com. Find me on Facebook and Twitter (@ofmonksandmalts). You can also buy my pictures here: http://fineartamerica.com/profiles/robert-rizzolo.html.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Saison Du Buff and Collaborations

There is always an argument to be made about which is better, Collaboration or Competition. In fact, I'm pretty sure I wrote my SAT essay on the topic. Within the craft beer industry, there is an interesting balance between competition and collaboration. 

As a craft brewer, you obviously want to support other breweries, because the more people interested in craft beer, the bigger potential market you have. On the other hand, of that potential market, the more customers that you have, the better it is for your business. Basically, you want your competition to do well, but not better than you. One of the ways that brewers get people interested in craft beer is by collaborating with other well known brewers. I also imagine that they have some fun while they do it. 


Saison du Buff is a collaboration between Dogfish Head, Victory, and Stone. The beer was conceived together by the brewers from all three breweries. It is an American saison brewed with parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme. As it sounds, it is an herby, hoppy, lemony saison. An interesting part about trying Saison du Buff is that you can find it in one of three bottles, depending on which brewery it was produced at. Each beer will taste a little different, and even though the Dogfish Head site says that the beer is 6.8% ABV, my bottle from Stone says 7.3%. It should also be noted that each of the bottles will cost different amount, depending on which brewery produced it (Dogfish is the most expensive). 

The beer itself is very good, but not my favorite version of a saison (as I am kind of a saison purist). It is light and refreshing, hiding the 7% ABV well. Don't let the herbs scare you, they are actually overwhelmed by the citrus flavor in the beer (at least in the version that I tried).  


Saison du Buff is a good beer, not great. It is probably a little overpriced (especially the DFH version), but I am glad that I tried it. 

Glassware: Saison, tulip

Synonym Beer: Brooklyn Sorachi Ace (a less balanced version) 

If you want me to look at a particular beer, drink, place, or have anything to say to me, email me at monksandmalts@gmail.com. Find me on Facebook and Twitter (@ofmonksandmalts). You can also buy my pictures here: http://fineartamerica.com/profiles/robert-rizzolo.html.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Sünner Kölsch

The Kölsch is one of my favorite spring/summer styles. If you are unfamiliar with the style, Kölsch are the regional style of the the city of Köln (Cologne), Germany. They are very similar to lighter lagers in flavor, although they are warm fermented (using an ale yeast). They are characteristically light, with a noticeable hop bitterness, but still maintain a nice malty sweetness. 


There are three main Kölsch brands available in the US. I color code them based on their labels. Red and Blue are the two most common, so I was very happy when I found Sünner, the green one. They are all very similar, but with their own distinctive touches that are very hard to describe. It is a very clean, crisp beer, with an almost fruity sweetness that balances the beer out nicely. This is partially a result of the yeast used to ferment the beer. Since each brand uses their own yeast to ferment their particular brews, the esters produced will impart different flavors, even if they are subtle (as they are in Kölsch beers). I feel that, especially in the US, the Kölsch is an under appreciated style, mostly because people don't know much about it. I wish that would change. I also truthfully believe that there is a big step between true Kölsch and American remakes. Give them a shot, but do yourself a favor and grab a German one. You won't be disappointed. 


I am also a huge fan of the stange glass, the traditional glass for Kölsch.

Glassware: Stange, pint

Synonym Beer: Reissdorf Kölsch

If you want me to look at a particular beer, drink, place, or have anything to say to me, email me at monksandmalts@gmail.com. Find me on Facebook and Twitter (@ofmonksandmalts). You can also buy my pictures here: http://fineartamerica.com/profiles/robert-rizzolo.html.


Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Face Plant IPA

Here is an example of an American IPA that I didn't enjoy, although not for the reason that you might think. Generally, I find American IPAs to be too big on hops, leaving the beer unbalanced and aggressive to drink. This isn't like that. 


I generally don't like beers that have silly names for no reason. My personal preference is when the name has some significance (based on ingredients, location, history, etc). This being said, I have tried beers with what I consider to be stupid names that I have actually really enjoyed. This beer actually has mellow hops, but I found the backbone to be very grainy. I felt like the hops and the malts did not blend together well. This wouldn't be a beer that I would send back, but then again, I never do that. Never. I found it strange that I could taste the alcohol in a beer that is only 6.2% ABV. I don't think that should happen. I can't say I'll be tempted to get another one of these anytime soon.

Glassware: Pint

Synonym Beer: Reminds me of a failed single hop IPA (although I don't believe it is single hop)

If you want me to look at a particular beer, drink, place, or have anything to say to me, email me at monksandmalts@gmail.com. Find me on Facebook and Twitter (@ofmonksandmalts). You can also buy my pictures here: http://fineartamerica.com/profiles/robert-rizzolo.html.