September 16, 2014

Against the Grain Kentucky Ryed Chiquen

Brewed By: Against the Grain Brewery (and Smokehouse) in Louisville, Kentucky   
Purchased: 750ml (1 pint 9.4oz) bottle bought at Friar Tuck in Urbana, IL; 2014 
Style/ABV: Rye Beer, 8.6%
Reported IBUs: 27.4

When life gives you lemons, buy that tarred and feathered beer...seriously, this bottle is obnoxious! I've seen waxed beers, I've seen foiled beers, but I haven't seen a beer that is tarred and feathered. About Against the Grain Brewing
The Against the Grain Brewery and Smokehouse is a brewery (and smokehouse) that was founded back in October 2011. The brewery is located in the southeast corner of Louisville Slugger Field at the corner of Jackson and Main Street, in Kentucky, and is run by four dudes who are cooler than you. For more information, check them out oFacebook or check out their website
Tonight's beer, the Kentucky Ryed Chiquen, is a "rye beer aged in rye whiskey barrels." The bottle reads: "Cluck Cluck. The Chiquen has come home to roost! You asked for anything but here you go! An original rye amber ale recipe aged in rye whiskey barrels hatched right here in Kentucky! Kentucky Ryed Chiquen is malty and mellow, but has quite the barrel-aged bite.This one is described as an amber ale brewed with rye malt. And, of course, the rye whiskey barrels. This features Marris Otter malts, rye malts, caramel rye malts from Germany, and English Nugget and Kent Goldings hops. The barrel used here is a Redemption Rye barrel from Strong's Spirits. Let's see what we got...
Against the Grain Kentucky Ryed Chiquen

This pours into a really nice, two-tone, amber-orange body, with some nice rounded brown and orange tones. I got a couple of fingers of caramel-tinted head, and there is nice lacing and head retention at work here. This also appears to be appropriately carbonated. The feathered bottle wasn't too hard to work with harder than wax, and less annoying than glued on wax.

On the aroma: a lot of funky sweetness. I'm getting the wood and barrel, which is reminiscent of oak...but I'm also getting a funky note that reminds me of Brett. I wonder if this was infected, intentional or otherwise. If this was infected, I doubt it will be to the beer's detriment...but we will see. I'm also getting a lot of nutty notes on the aroma, with some caramel, and some weird pineapple sweetness. Again...Brett? This smells big...let's see how it tastes. 

Yup...dat Brett infection. Again, the Brett actually works with the barrel and the whiskey, and provides some funky balance to the malt sweetness and gentle oak/wood notes I am getting in the back. It reminds me of something from the Prairie wheelhouse, with Brett notes that play off the oak and also drop some fruity hints. I'm getting pear, pineapple, caramel, oak, wood, nice gentle barrel, sweet toasted grains and coconut, and some hints of cane sugar. There are some complex shades of darker sugars in here, and lots of grain/coconut. The rye notes in here mostly come across with the grain and the barrel....I'm not really getting a ton of rye in here. In that regard, this beer fails to deliver. But it's still pretty damn tasty...

I'm really conflicted, because I think this is good and laid actually reminds me of a nice Belgian Ale, or something like Orval...only with a tropical island vibe. This is medium-light bodied with good levels of carbonation. Things move along smoothly here, and you would never guess this is 8.6%. The Brett probably helped clean up some of the residual sweetness...notably absent here is the big rye spice, but you do get some rye barrel, and you do get some nice wood/oak/barrel notes. The whiskey in here is a faint afterthought, but that's not problem. This has good depth and complexity. Up front: caramel sweetness, some hops, pineapple, fruit, Brett; the mids roll into really nice grain, coconut, oak, caramel sugars, wood, barrel, faint rye, and some oak/Brett funk; the finish mellows out into really nice grain/coconut/wood/oak/Brett, with lingering caramel and whiskey sweetness...and then fade to dry. Just...really laid back and nice.

Rating: Above-Average (3.5/5.0 Untappd)

I'm feeling a Light Above-Average on this. I really like this, despite the fact that it doesn't quite deliver on its promise of rye. maybe that's a deal breaker for other people. I'm an opportunistic beer drinker. I love the fact that this was infected by Brett. I think the Brett + Barrel + base beer here = winner winner, chicken dinner. That's where your chicken is. So whether this is an accidental success or's a good beer. Fruity, malty sweet, and mild barrel/spirit character make this both palatable and easy going. I want this on my tropical island to pair with some mango salsa chicken, or my sweet barbecue ribs. I think this would go great with a nice pork dish. Maybe even spam. Yum.

Random Thought: I <3 ATG

September 11, 2014

Deschutes Black Butte XXVI (26th Birthday Reserve)

Brewed By: Deschutes Brewing Company in Bend, Oregon
Purchased: 22oz bottle bought at Binny's in Naperville, IL; 2014 (2014 Vintage - "Best after 06/16/15")
Style/ABV: American Porter, 10.8%
Reported IBUs: ?

I have been busy!!! Who knew that graduate school orientation could be so time consuming. I'm ready to crack into a beer. This one is dubbed an "ale brewed with pomengranate molasses with 50% aged in bourbon barrels blended with ale with cocoa nibs and cranberry added." About Deschutes:

The Deschutes Brewing Company was founded by Gary Fish on June 27th, 1988, when they opened the doors to their Bond Street Public House pub. The brewery has since expanded, growing to be one of the top craft beer producers in America. The brewery also operates a pub in Portland, and has a dedicated brewing facility overlooking the Deschutes river. For more information, check out the brewery's website; their Facebook page; their Twitter; or Wikipedia
The Black Butte is an ongoing release/series: this 26th anniversary Imperial Porter was aged in bourbon barrels and dry spiced with "Theo Chocolate's" cocoa nibs. This also features pomengranate molasses and Oregon cranberries. The malt bill includes: Pale, Wheat, Midnight Wheat, Chocolate, Crystal; the hops are Millennium, Cascade, US Tettnang. Special ingredients include the Theo Chocolate Cocoa Nibs, Pomegranate Molasses, and Cranberries. This was blended with 50% beer barrel-aged for 6 months in bourbon barrels.
Deschutes Black Butte XXVI 

This one pours into an opaque, but cola-black body, kicking up two fingers of tan head. There is nice lacing here, along with some alcohol legs...and head retention is pretty good. It looks pretty much how'd you Zzzzz

On the aroma: chocolate-bourbon, wood, bourbon, some whiskey-raisin sweetness, big molasses, and cherry-chocolate/cranberry-chocolate/pomengranate-chocolate. There are some silky vanilla undertones on the aroma, along with coffee, and lots of cranberry.

This is most definitely thrown for a loop by the fruit...I can't agree with the reports calling this sour -- I think acidic or tart-fruity are better descriptors. This has big notes of cranberry, cherry, and pomengranate, with overtly fruity and sweet notes that play off the whiskey-raisin sweetness, bourbon, wood, and chocolate/coffee. You get some nice coffee notes in here, whiskey-raisin, and chocolate covered pomengranate candies. I wouldn't exactly call this subtle.

If you like overtly sweet beers...this is going to make you happy. This is medium to full-bodied, with a substantial palate duration and very little in the way of complexity. You'd think this would unravel with more mystery given the barrel and fruit additions, but this mostly just dials up fruity sweetness, molasses, and faint chocolate/bourbon/coffee notes. Honestly, the porter base here really takes a back seat. This does mask the alcohol well, and I'm not getting booze. I am, however, getting sugar. Up front: pomengranate, cherries, sweet candies, molasses, cranberries; the mids roll into chocolate-pomengranate, chocolate-cranberries, and more sweet notes, with some whiskey-raising sweetness; the back end hits a little bourbon, oak, coffee, chocolate, but mostly finishes with more sweet candy notes. This is like the exact opposite of the Abyss. 

Rating: Above-Average (3.5/5.0 Untappd)

I'm feeling a Decent Above-Average here. I actually don't mind the tart and fruity notes here, what is throwing me for a loop is the intense candy sweetness. I guess this beer would work as a dessert drink, and maybe that was the intention. I'm curious how this will taste with a few years of age on it, and I wonder if next year they should let the porter base stand out a little bit more.

Random Thought: It's cold out! For the first time all year, it really feels like Autumn outside.

September 7, 2014

Lost Abbey Red Poppy Ale

Brewed By: Port Brewing/The Lost Abbey in San Marcos, California 
Purchased: Single 12.7oz bottle (375ml) bought at Friar Tucks in Urbana, IL; 2014 
Style/ABV: Flanders Red Ale, 5.0%
Reported IBUs: ?

This beer hurt my wallet. Hopefully it will also hurt my enamel. About the The Lost Abbey
The Lost Abbey is part of the Port Brewing Company, and is located in Stone Brewing's old brewery location. The Port Brewing Company/Lost Abbey emerged from Pizza Port in 2006, and now operates independently. There is a lengthy history page on The Lost Abbey's website. The main story goes: back in the day, Vince Marsaglia (owner and co-founder of Pizza Port) was interested in brewing American-made Abbey style beer. In 1997, Vince joined forces with brewer Tomme Arther who worked to brew some awesome Belgian beer at Pizza Port. In 2005, when Stone Brewing moved from their San Marcos location, Vince, Tomme, Vince's sister Gina, and Jim Comstock founded the Port Brewing Company. Port Brewing opened in May of 2006, and the rest is history.
Today's beer, the Red Poppy Ale, is a "celebration of sour cherries." This beer is brewed from a brown ale base, and is aged in oak barrels for over 6 months. This American-Style Flanders Red is released in limited amounts, and costs an arm and a kidney.
Lost Abbey Red Poppy Ale

On the pour: a rich and hazy, dark brown, red-tinged body. This one kicks up two fingers of deeply brown-tinted, reddish head. The head has good retention, with a pinky's worth hanging around. This beer is also appropriately carbonated. It looks like it has had that barrel clinic, and this would fit right in among a lineup of Flemish Reds. 

There is great scratch and sniff action here, with deep layers of oak, sour cherries, and wood barrel on the nose. There are deep malts in here, with caramel sugars, cola, and cherry sweetness. The deep malts play off Brett funk, weird band-aid funk, and acidic pop. I'm getting red apple cider vinegar, acidic wood, and tart cherries. There are cherry tannins in here, with cherry skin, and some light jammy fruit notes. This aroma is actually quite complex, and surpasses some recent sours I've had, including the Love Child No. 4.

Hmmm...this is, all things considered, kind of a restrained beer. I'm getting nice lactic sourness, with some apple cider vinegar, sour cherries, and granny smith apples. There are some nice oak and Brett notes that round things out, with good wood in the mix. The back end is actually quite soft and malty, with more wood, Brett funk, oak, cherries, cola, and even some caramel sugars. At this point, this isn't the enamel-ripping monster I expected to get it. It's kind of balanced and constrained with the fruit maybe adding some sour notes and sweetness to the overall mix.

All things considered...this is light and drinkable for the style, with a medium-light mouthfeel. At 5.0% this is basically non-intrusive and non-alcoholic. Palate depth is okay and complexity is pretty high. This isn't overtly sour or's kind of balanced and constrained. Up front: tart cherries, sour cherries, lactic acid, sour wood, apple cider vinegar and sour apples; the mids roll into sour cherries, jammy fruits, growing malt sweetness; the back end drops oak, band-aid funk, wood, sweet caramel, and a nice dry finish that leans on the malts. Nice.  

Rating: Above-Average (4.0/5.0 Untappd) 

I'm feeling a Light Above-Average here. This is really good and has nice complexity...I just wish it was a little more assertive. It could even benefit from more overt fruit notes. I think in that respect, this beer falls short compared to something like...Goose Island's Madame Rose. Or even their Juliet or Gillian. If you are going to go with the cherries...really embrace the fruit. This beer's maltier leanings mean it will pair well with grilled meats, duck, and maybe even a slice of cherry pie to really bring that cherry flavor home.

Random Thought: As a Bears fan, I am concerned right now. That is all.