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Old 06-16-2008, 02:49 AM   #1076
Kevroc
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Re: TLDR Beer Club

I didnt have the time to drive over the bridge (and pay $10 for it!) and go beer shopping so I just stopped by the local "distributor" (the selection blows).

I snagged a standard sixer of SN pale ale and a sixer of "not quite pale ale" from Magic Hat.

Never had this before but, it just seemed to me to be a lame version of an Apricot Ale. Dogfish head and Heartland's Apricot ales crush this one, imo.

On a non-beer note: I love drinking gin in the summertime. I bought a bottle of Tanqueray's Rangpur this weekend. It has the flavor of rangpur limes infused in it (no need to slice limes).. add a little tonic water and enjoy the sunshine!
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Old 06-19-2008, 08:57 PM   #1077
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Re: TLDR Beer Club

I'm going on a little brewery roadtrip with 2 buddies from Wednesday until Sunday.

If anybody wants to meet up for a drink, feel free to post here or PM me.

Wednesday night we're going to be in Holland, Michigan, then finish the night off at Founder's in Grand Rapid's.

Thursday we're going to Arcadia, Bell's and Dark Horse, all in Southern Michigan, then will cap off the day in Cleveland at Great Lakes and hopefully also Willoughby Brewery.

Friday we're stopping in Pittsburgh at Church Brew Works for lunch and then heading to DogFishHead in Delaware, we might stop at one of the beer bars in DC on the way, not sure.

Saturday we're going to be in Philly for lunch, probably at Monk's Cafe and then hit one of the Iron Hill breweries on the way out of the Philly suburbs. We'll be at Selinsgram brewery in mid PA and then either end up back in Cleveland or Pittsburgh (outside shot at Columbus) for Saturday night, back home to Chicago on Sunday.

I'm also open to taking suggestions on breweries to visit, but the schedule is pretty tight.

I'll be reviewing beers/breweries while I'm there, as I'll have a laptop with a broadband connection during the van ride.
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Old 06-26-2008, 03:03 AM   #1078
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Re: TLDR Beer Club

Brewery tour is pretty sweet so far.

Just got back from Founders, will have some reviews and pics tomorrow in between the drive from Michigan to Cleveland.
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Old 06-27-2008, 06:48 PM   #1079
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Re: TLDR Beer Club

Kidcolin,

You ever try the Allagash Black? I was curious about that one when I saw it in Beers of the World, but I skipped it.

All,

It's beer review time. Today's brew is the Trippel from Green Flash. KC and I disagreed about the quality of their single and double IPAs, but I figured I'd give their trippel a shot. It ran me $6.89 for a 22 oz bottle of 8.5% ABV beer.



The beer pours the usual cloudy gold, but it's a little shy on head, and what head it has dissipates quickly.



The smell is somewhat mild, a little lemon and apple. The flavor is mostly apple and some grassy hopping, which is unusual for a trippel. I wouldn't have labeled this as a tripel had I been tasting it blind. It's almost more like a saison. I'd say that this beer is a disappointment for the style, but at least it's on the cheaper side, and it's still not bad. , although I won't be buying it again.
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Old 06-27-2008, 08:01 PM   #1080
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Re: TLDR Beer Club

New Belgium is apparently now rolling East of the mighty Mississippi and just showed up in Nashville. For whatever reason, it doesn't seem like they've rolled out all their beers. The only ones I can find anywhere in town are Fat Tire, 1554, and Mothership Wit, and they're only in bombers, not six packs or cases or anything. Weird.

Anyways, I've had most of their stuff before, but it's been a long, long time. I picked up the 1554, which they call a black ale. It was interesting. Very dark, not much head. The taste was surprisingly mild. It didn't seem like it was as roasty as a porter despite being as dark. The roast notes were fairly light, and it had a kind of nuttiness to it. I think I'd actually have to go through more than just the bomber to get a real impression about it, so I guess I thought it was unremarkable. OK flavor, nice for a change of pace, no obvious flaws, but nothing real special, and that pretty much sums up my impressions of NB's beers in general.
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Old 06-27-2008, 08:03 PM   #1081
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Re: TLDR Beer Club

Ok, a little behind on the actual reviews, been a busy few days.

I'm in heavy traffic on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge at the moment, heading to DogfishHead.

We've been to 8 breweries so far...

The best overall so far has hands down been Bells in Kalamazoo.

The best design/architecture/building was Church Brew Works in Pittsburgh.

Tentatively, the best beers so far have been Bells Kalamazoo Stout, Founders Centennial IPA and Founders Red Rye.

Not sure what the best food I've had has been. I've had a lot of wood fired pizzas, the best being Arcadia and Great Lakes, though the appetizers at Church Brew Works were great. I had a bison burger at Bells, that was also pretty good.

I'll try to do a full review sometime before the trip ends, I'm really looking forward to DFH tonight then Monk's Cafe and Selinsgrove tomorrow.
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Old 06-29-2008, 03:05 AM   #1082
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Re: TLDR Beer Club

Ok, here's my official "brewery tour" review.

I'm going to use a 25 point system for each brewery:

Atmosphere/Visual Appeal (Out of 5 points)

Pretty simple, how did the place look and feel and what kind of people/sounds added or subtracted from the experience.

Service and Food Quality (Out of 5 points)

How was the service? Did it take a half hour to get a beer or was it promptly served? Did the waiter or waitress have a decent knowledge of their beer? If you ate, how was the food?

The Beer (Out of 10 points)

The most important category. How was the beer? What kind of selection was there? Individual ratings will also be noted where appropriate for beers (separately out of 5 points).

Overall Value (Out of 5 points)

Food and especially beer pricing. Revisiting value as well as any other things that may not fit other categories involving the quality of the brewery.

New Holland Brewery

3.5 pts - Located in downtown Holland, MI. in a pretty spacious building. The bar was long, but full, the locals seemed pretty nice, and were actually a little more "appealing" if you will than was expected. My friend said he felt like he was on the set of the "OC." The place was clean and spacious. The silver tin ceilings were visually appealing but probably the cause of the consistent loudness. You have to lean across a table to hear or make yourself understood if you want to communicate anything more than a "yes."

4 pts - Didn't eat any food here, but the service was pretty good. The menus were very easy to understand though a few special "high gravity series" beers that were on the menu were not available and none of the four "special library series" beers advertised for retail sale on the menu were available for purchase, they "sold out quick."

5.5 pts - Hop Wine (11%) was a double IPA/barleywine with little to no head. Weak nose, citrusy, fruity, decent body, very strong alcohol punch throughout, apple finish. for this style.

Dragon's Milk (9%) was a barrel aged strong ale that poured a dark black, with very little head. Soft roasty aromas, initial roast taste with notes of whiskey, burnt chocolate. Almost milky smooth. and a half

4 pts - Regular and seasonals available in 16oz glasses for $4 or 20oz for $4.50. "High Gravity Series" ales are $5 for 10oz glasses. Multiple merchandise available in the front of the store, beer boots and thong underwear among them.

Overall 18 pts

Our first stop, this was more fun than it should have probably been. Parking was kind of a pain and the place seemed pretty popular for a Wednesday night. Probably won't come back unless they have some different and more promising beers on tap, would visit if I lived very close by.

Founders Brewery

Set back in the south end of downtown Grand Rapids, MI. Founders new brewery is about 30 minutes from New Holland Brewery.

4 pts - The place was pretty lively. Peanuts littered the floor and were available for $2.50 off memory. Very long bar, plenty of seating, a pool table and a great outdoor deck/patio connected with the indoors via garage door style windows. Brewery equipment separated by glass at the south end of the room.

4 pts - Kitchen was closed but they sell peanuts all night. Service started out badly, our waitress knew the beers well but took forever to check on us. Rating is boosted dramatically by bartender who at the end of the night let us take some pictures in the back near two brand new fermenters. He also was pretty good with drink orders when our waitress wasn't around and just generally a good guy.

9 pts - The Porter (7%+?) was very similar to the Black Mariah I previously reviewed from Piece Brewery. Roasty smell, roasty taste, burnt chocolate and charcoal, a pretty strong alcoholic finish with some dry fruits.

Red Rye (6.4%) Cherry aroma, very hoppy and bitter taste, a beautiful blend of hops and malt. Dry hopped with Amarillo hops.

Centennial IPA (7.2%) is a wonderfully hopped IPA. Can't think of many I'd rather have when craving an IPA.

Red Rubaeus (7%) is brewed with multiple additions of Raspberries. The aroma is very strong raspberry, the taste is very sour and it has a solid berry end. Interesting and good beer despite my usual disregard for sour beers.

3.5 pts - I think the price was something like 4.50 for a 16oz. Merchandise was pretty scarce but the value in the beers was there and there strong.

Overall 20.5 pts

We got there pretty late and had to walk almost a mile from our hotel through a very empty downtown Grand Rapids. The service started out so poor and there wasn't much in the way of merchandise, but the beer was great and the place just seem to fit the area well. Big, energetic, though slightly loud at times it was a manageable sound. Would definitely go back here.

Bells Brewery (Or Bells Eclectic Cafe)

4.5 pts - Located in the eastern fringe of downtown Kalamazoo, MI. Bells was about 45 min. south of Founders. The building is really nice from the outside. We saw an employee watering plants 3 separate times outside. The inside was just as nice, despite a small bar there is an almost cozy feel for a place this size. There was an upstairs section of seating about 1/3 the size of the main room of seating. There are a few level changes, a step or two to go up and down here or there. The artwork included stained glass windows, masked clowns holding bottles of bells, a bowling ball-flute lamp and a huge wall full of masks, to name a few. Locals were very friendly and chatty.

4 pts - Bartender was almost average as far as pace went, but was very knowledgeable about the beers. There was a very small but efficient kitchen at the end of the bar, under the upstairs seating. I had a bison burger, which was very good.

8 pts - A Stout (6%), with dry, bitter notes of chocolate and a half.

2x Brown was the barrel aged version of their brown ale (around 10%, possibly 11%). Lots of whiskey notes in the aroma, very murky dark brown color. Some alcohol burn.

2-hearted Ale was a solid IPA, well hopped, especially the dry hopping.

A couple of other beers, Mild Ale and Third coast are probably worth while the Poolside was disappointing at

I picked up some promising bottles in the general store, including a doppelbock, java stout, cherry stout and their year round stout. They had barrel-aged cherry stout available and I heard it was very good, but I ended up taking the regular over the barrel aged.

5 pts - Pricing is extremely good. 2.50 for most 12oz, $3 for most 16oz and $4 for 20oz. Some of the special stuff is a little more, but nothing is over $5. I had a 6 beer sampler of 4oz beers, which is $10 for any 6 beers, including the specials. They give you a piece of paper and a pen to choose your 6, and it is served on a piece of wood carved into the shape of parts of Michigan.

There's a "general store" that opens an hour before the cafe, located in the front. They sell like everything here, including homebrew supplies, mix your own 6 packs of bells, any sort of shirt you can think of, 4 styles of glasses as well as tons of little gadgets ranging from magnetic bottle openers to globes. The homebrew stuff was pretty standard for a top quality supplier. They had very good pricing and selection on bottle varieties for the home brewer, available in cases of 12.

Overall 21.5 pts

This was the highlight of Michigan. Every inch of this place was clean and appealing. The beer was great, and the business end was impressive. From the way they handle 6 beer samplers, to the placement of the kitchen, the quality of the general store and make your own 6 pack option, Bells knows what they are doing. Will certainly come back.

Arcadia Brewery


3 pts - Arcadia is about 25 minutes east of Kalamazoo in Battle Creek, MI. Eatery seating on the immediate left when walking in, walkway to back where P shaped bar is located. The right side is all glass where you can see the brewing operation inside. While everything is rather spacious and comfortable to move around in, it kind of looks a little disorganized, probably bc of the lack of flooring or ceiling "completeness." The bar shape is kind of weird and there just seems to be stuff out of place. For example, bottles to go were randomly placed in between the bar and the front desk, against the glass wall of the brewery. This isn't necessarily bothersome, but it just gives the aura of "just moved in."

4 pts - Great service. Always had a new beer before I could see the bottom of my last glass. Always had a full water in between beers. One problem was the first bartender, he had given us false information on growler options and had told us we could have a "new growler" that had just arrived. The second, more experienced bartender told us that he was just an office guy filling in at the bar (it was rather early in the day) and that he was mistaken, she apologized and was an excellent bartender herself. No worries, but a little disappointment. A brewer was sitting at the opposite end of the bar and talked with us a little bit. I was under the impression that he designed the chocolate stout. He seemed like a nice, likable guy and didn't mind my jabs of White Sox > Tigers.

Food was excellent. Despite being full, I was talked into a wood-fired meat pizza. I was told the wood stove was imported from Italy. This pizza would do Chicago no shame.

8 pts - Starboard Stout (5.5%) was a very good oatmeal stout. Unique though I can't put it in words at the moment and a half.

HopsMouth is a solid double IPA (8.1%) or and a half.

London Porter (7.2%) was a very malty, earthy hopped beer. A bit of a punch to it as well

Picked up a 4 pack of the Coco Loco Triple Chocolate Stout (6.8%), which was enjoyed by a buddy.

3.5 pts - Not much merchandise, what they had was overpriced. Good selection of to go pricing on bottles and growlers of beer. Tap pricing was standard.

Overall 18.5 pts

I would come back again. Exceeded my expectations with a fair selection of top flight beers and very good pizza. A little bit of "cozy" decoration/theme coupled with some more merchandise (or shirts cheaper than 35 bucks) would put this up there with Bells.

Dark Horse Brewery

3.5 pts - Something like 40 minutes from Arcadia, located in the small but attractive town of Marshall, MI is Dark Horse. Kind of small and cramped, only about 6 bar seats and limited table seating, the place isn't exactly ideal for your neighborhood brewpub. But it isn't exactly your average brewery. The town is very "locals" and the brewery is actually cozy. There are about 1500 mug club members and the same amount of actual clay mugs hanging above your head throughout the pub with various designs on them. I didn't realize when I was there, but they have a nice looking beer garden out back (so shows their website) with plenty of room for bands to play.

4 pts - Service was very good. I was told that the food was very good, particularly the pizza, but I'd had 2 lunches already and it was only like 3pm.

8 pts - Crooked Tree IPA (6%) is a West Coast inspired IPA. Malty and very hoppy, pine flavors predominant. Delicious. and a half.

Reserve Special Black Bier Ale (7.5%) is a tasty "strong black ale." Not quite stout, not quite porter, but quite good. to and a half.

Sapient Trip Ale (8.5%) is a good tripple and last but certainly not least, Rod is a red ale brewed with aphrodisiacs. It's an uplifting beer with a subtle, earthy hop presence. The surprise of Michigan. and a half to

I got a pack of their seasonal cream stout in the liquor store next door. They do 5 different stouts in the winter (I'm drooling).

5 pts - They had a good selection of merchandise in their separate store. It was similar to Bell's store, with a homebrew shop in there as well. Pricing was 3.50 for 16oz of beer I believe.

Overall 20.5 pts

I didn't know much about DH before coming here, and it was a smaller operation than I had pictured. I really loved the place and would definitely go back again. It's kind of a small town version of Bells. Very good beer, unless they really screw up they should be recognized regionally rather soon as one of the better breweries.

-------

I'll put up more reviews later, I'm getting pretty tired. Driving through Ohio right now on our way back to Chicago.

Michigan is now done, up next are the two Cleveland breweries, one from Pitt, DFH and Selinsgrove (Had to cancel Monk's Cafe in Philly due to traffic congestion going into Philly).

Any questions or comments, feel free to ask/tell. My notes are kind of spotty in some places, I don't have any notes after Michigan so I'm working off of memory in a lot of places, meaning there are likely a few errors throughout.

Final thoughts on Michigan: Great brewing state. Wanted to visit the Livery in Benton Harbour, and will sometime soon (it's closer to Chicago than any of these breweries). The locations of these places makes it very good for a beer trek. The quality of beer in these 5 breweries was very high. There are supposed to be some good breweries to visit in the Detroit area as well, I will try to get out there some day. Michigan could easily be a half week of good fun on beer alone, a full week if you want to do anything involving outdoors.

Last edited by ChicagoRy; 06-29-2008 at 03:13 AM.
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Old 06-29-2008, 11:17 AM   #1083
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Re: TLDR Beer Club

Excellent write up.
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Old 06-29-2008, 07:31 PM   #1084
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Re: TLDR Beer Club

Tonight's beer is the Chicken Killer Barley Wine from the Santa Fe Brewing Co. This is my first beer from that brewery, which is allegedly the first microbrewery in New Mexico. A 22 oz bottle of 10% ABV beer ran me $7.39. It's not a cheap beer, but it's perhaps a little cheaper than similar offerings from other brewers.



The beer pours a cloudy brown without much head. What head is there is soon gone. Beer this strong doesn't keep a head well.



The label talked about this beer being an extreme American barely wine, so I was pretty surprised when hops made up only a small part of the aroma. I smelled more apple, cherry, wood, and the malt. This is not what I was expecting when I bought this (I was going for a hop bomb), but I like it anyway. The flavor is like the smell, but the hops and cherry flavor are a little more pronounced. This tastes like it's about halfway between an American barley wine and an English one, which are unhopped, sweet, fruity beers. The balance is nice, but people who love extreme beer, which includes me, wouldn't be bowled over by this. I'm going to give it and a half . This is a beer I could see people rating anywhere from 3-4 depending on their preferences. Hop heads like milesdyson and kidcolin might crave more bitterness, but other people might enjoy the mild sweetness and fruitiness that are tasty w/o being cloying and think that more hops might ruin this beer. I don't know if I'll buy this beer again, though. Usually if I buy a big bottle, it's either a beer I'm getting to try for the first time, or it's one of my favorites I'm getting to scratch an itch I have, which is usually for something sweeter, or friutier, or hoppier or darker. I might be a beer I'd buy lots of if it was a little cheaper and available in 12 oz bottles, but it's not the sort of thing I'd think of first if I was craving something and looking to splurge a little.
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Old 07-01-2008, 09:03 PM   #1085
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Re: TLDR Beer Club

Continuing my brewery tour review...

So for the last half of Thursday we headed to Cleveland to visit two of their breweries, Great Lakes as well as Willoughby. Most of you are probably familiar with Great Lakes, as were we, but Willoughby was something I was really looking forward to.

Great Lakes Brewery

4 pts - The neighborhood turned from really crappy to pretty nice as we came in from the south off the highway. The actual brewery is about 100 yards away from the pub/restaurant and has pictures of the beer labels from their beer on the side. Everything is really clean and nice looking. Walking into the pub, there is a very long bar in a very narrow room, looks very nice. It was very very crowded on a Thursday (around 8pm) and we were seated in an end room with pretty good visual appeal and all around decent energy. The people were of the "trendy annoying" type, but it could have just been the few tables we were sitting by.

3.5 pts - Had another wood fired pizza here. Tuscan wood fired pepperoni iirc. The sauce was a little stronger and sweeter, but it wasn't overdone. A very good pie.

Service was pretty weak, but the place was very busy, so it can be forgiven somewhat.

6.5 pts - I had a Holy Moses White Ale (5.4%) which is "A belgian wit ale spiced with orange peel, chamomile and coriander." We made something similar to this ourselves before we left, and this one really tasted very bland, so perhaps I am being a little harsher on it than I should, but nonetheless.

I had a pretty big IPA called "Rye of the Tiger" which was OK. I have a growler of it tonight so I may edit or update this review, but for now and a half to .

Commodore Perry IPA (7.5%) is a well done IPA, I'd had it in bottles before and would recommend it.

I didn't have the Dortmunder Gold Lager on tap here, but I've had it on tap in Chicago and I felt it was a very good, complex lager. to and a half.

3 pts - The beers were priced as you'd expect when being near or in a downtown area, the growlers were overpriced though. I paid 21 bucks for a growler of the Rye of the Tiger, and for some nominal amount of beer more, they had some other sort of vessel for like 45 bucks. This may or may not be accurate, but it is what the server told us. Still, on their site I see growlers for 10 bucks (glass only), so that might have been the upcharge. Having already visited 5 breweries in Michigan and a half dozen in Chicago, I can say that 10 dollars for the glass growler is ridiculous to me.

Overall 17 pts

I expected a little more out of this brewery, but then again we could have just hit it at a bad time (full bar, suck with a few bad tables near us, bad service bc it was crowded, the wrong beer selections). We didn't stay for much longer than the meal, we were very anxious for Willoughby. As it was, the highlight of this brewery was some middle aged woman that flashed her thong as us as we were leaving the parking lot, stay classy Cleveland

Willoughby Brewery

3 pts - So we called ahead to Willoughby to get their hours. We were told that not only were they open to at least 1am, but that it was ladies night. Sounded good. We checked into a little motel and got lost on the way to the brewery. It wasn't too far so it didn't take us long to get there, and the town of Willoughby seemed like a very nice suburb of Cleveland. The brewery itself was beautiful on the outside, however, about 100 feet from the brewery we noticed a very loud thumping coming from inside, almost like a club.

Walking in at about 11pm, all the restaurant side was closed up, and the bar area + tables was popping loud. There was a DJ and tons of young, preppy looking people dancing and such. Lots of "bro dudes" and the such, tons of sideways hats, illegal looking chicks and mid to late 20s dudes. Not exactly the type of atmosphere I expected nor wanted, and we ended up just taking 2 growlers back to the motel and winding down with them there.

3 pts - Service was kinda bad. Took us about a half hour to get the growlers filled and paid for, but the place was pretty busy. The lady that took care of us didn't even drink, so she couldn't help me figure out what was what. Between the noise and her inexperience, I was left without a clue as to what some of the beers were.

6.5 pts - We got a growler of their Black and Blue stout (6.5%). Apparently they added 22 lbs of semi sweet swiss chocolate to the boil, and 250 lbs of blueberry puree to the fermentation. A good milk stout, but I really think they could do without so many blueberries. It was a little too sour of a blueberry taste, and a little too dominant here. It's worth mentioning that this was 18 IBUs, a little lower on the end of this style. I'm not positive how the additions of chocolate and more so blueberries affects this, perhaps RDH could add in some expertise here, as I'm a less experienced homebrewer.

The other growler was One Hopper Ale (8.25%). This IPA is brewed to showcase one style of hop, this one was Warrior (I didn't know this at the time b/c our service sucked). I remember the body being softer than I'd of liked, the hops were spicy and the aroma was pretty weak. and a half.

I had a sample of a golden called Belgian Showers while I was there. It was a very good beer but the website doesn't provide any more info I can share with you. I won't give it a proper rating b/c I had such a small amount of this beer in a very loud and hectic environment.

3 pts - Pricing was not bad, I believe it was about 35 dollars for 2 growlers, including tax. The website says they are 20 each, so either it is outdated or we got lucky. I don't know how much pints were, but I'm sure I'd remember if they were really cheap or really outrageous (though I did not get any pints).

Overall 15.5 pts

If we had gone on a non "Ladies/DJ night," perhaps we'd of fared a little bit better. As it was, this place basically capped off a sub par end of the day in Cleveland. The beer showed promise, but could not be fully sampled nor enjoyed bc of the conditions at the brewpub. I also was wondering about the effects of a lot of hard bass music and fermenting beer, but their beer was definitely of good quality. I'd go back again, if not for the simple fact that I felt I didn't get a fair shake here.

------

More reviews on the final 3 breweries soon, plus pictures of the trip and some final thoughts on bottles and growlers I brought back.

Going to drink 9 of the growlers we brought back with a bunch of friends that couldn't make the trip with us now, so I have to cut this short.
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Old 07-03-2008, 06:17 PM   #1086
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Re: TLDR Beer Club

Sorry I've been out of the loop for awhile. To say work has been crazy would be an understatement. Poker is going to be on hold for the next 6 months or so, but the good news is I've got a new project in Istanbul, Turkey that's giving me lots of opportunities to explore on weekends.

I'm making plans to visit the Westvleteren Brewery next weekend in Belgium. I don't have enough storage space to buy a crate of the Westvleteren 12 but we will be going to the local cafe to sample the goods many times over. Needless to say I'm VERY excited and will be posting a lovely trip report for anyone who cares to read.
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Old 07-03-2008, 08:16 PM   #1087
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Re: TLDR Beer Club

Quote:
Originally Posted by JrJordan View Post
Sorry I've been out of the loop for awhile. To say work has been crazy would be an understatement. Poker is going to be on hold for the next 6 months or so, but the good news is I've got a new project in Istanbul, Turkey that's giving me lots of opportunities to explore on weekends.

I'm making plans to visit the Westvleteren Brewery next weekend in Belgium. I don't have enough storage space to buy a crate of the Westvleteren 12 but we will be going to the local cafe to sample the goods many times over. Needless to say I'm VERY excited and will be posting a lovely trip report for anyone who cares to read.
Sounds great. Can't wait.

All,

Would anybody be interested in a Q and A with brewers or those in the industry? Not sure if anybody else is involved besides RDH, but if he and any others would be willing to do a little Q and A, I know I would be interested. Thoughts?
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Old 07-03-2008, 08:38 PM   #1088
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Re: TLDR Beer Club

Sounds interesting, but I don't immediately know what questions I'd ask.

I have a beer review, though. Tonight's beer is Southern Tier's Cherry Saison. This is a saison that's been aged in oak with cherries. It sounded like an interesting take on a style of beer I'm only lukewarm about, so I decided to pick it up. It's 8% ABV and cost me $7.48 for a 22 ouncer.



The beer has almost negligible head, and it's a shade darker than other saisons I've had. I suppose oak and cherries could do that for you.



The smell of this beer is, surprisingly, not all that strongly of cherries. I smell mostly grassy hops and the malt. Similarly, the flavor doesn't have much cherry in it, either. All I can really attribute to the cherries is a slight tartness in the beer. Aside from that, the malt and grassy hopping are both nice, characteristic for the style. This is a pretty decent saison, but I feel a little let down by the promise of cherries and oak. I'll give it . It's a decent saison, but I'm a little let down.
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Old 07-04-2008, 08:01 AM   #1089
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Re: TLDR Beer Club

Sure, I'll answer anything anyone wants to know, and if I'm stumped I'll just ask the guys at work.
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Old 07-04-2008, 01:31 PM   #1090
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Re: TLDR Beer Club

What are the major differences in the brewing process between breweries and 5-10 gallon homebrewers?

In one of the few homebrew books that I've read, the author mentions that there are some major differences between big companies and homebrewers, I'm not sure what those are and how big a brewery has to be to be doing different things than the homebrewers.
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Old 07-05-2008, 07:48 PM   #1091
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Re: TLDR Beer Club

I picked up a new beer from Dogfish Head, their Palo Santo Marron. This is a brown ale that's been aged in Palo Santo wood. According to the bottle, that is supposed to impart caramel and vanilla flavors, along with others. The guy at the beer store said I was in for a trip. This beer is a mighty 12% ABV, and its price was pretty mighty, too: $4.99 for a 12 oz bottle.



They called this a brown ale, but it pours as dark as Flying Dog's Gonzo Imperial Porter. What little head it had soon dissipated, as you'd expect from a beer this strong.



The aroma does indeed include caramel and vanilla, along with some coffee and a syrupy smell. The flavor is thick and quite sweet. It does indeed boast some caramel, vanilla, woodiness, and a little coffee. The sweetness combined with the alcohol does give it a slight medicine flavor, but it's not as pronounced as some doppelbocks, which aren't even as strong as this beer. A doppelbock, flavor wise, is probably the closest relative of this beer. I do like this a hair better than other doppelbocks I've had, though, because of that reduced medicine flavor. Had I known what I was getting into, I probably wouldn't have had this beer today. I was expecting something a little lighter. This is not at all a beer you can drink quickly. It's for slow sipping only. My initial impression was to give this a lower rating, but this is about a beer. It wouldn't be fair to give it a lower rating just because I wasn't quite in the mood for this style. This might have suited me perfectly in the winter time. Still, it's kinda pricey, so I don't know if I'll be buying it again. Doppelbock lovers are encouraged to pick this up, though.
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Old 07-05-2008, 09:32 PM   #1092
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Re: TLDR Beer Club

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Originally Posted by ChicagoRy View Post
What are the major differences in the brewing process between breweries and 5-10 gallon homebrewers?

In one of the few homebrew books that I've read, the author mentions that there are some major differences between big companies and homebrewers, I'm not sure what those are and how big a brewery has to be to be doing different things than the homebrewers.
I can only speak to where I work, which put out 6500bbls on a 10bbl system last year. But our process is basically the same as a homebrewer's. Our mill is a roller mill, although way bigger than anything you'd find at someone's house or in a homebrew shop. We dough in with mash paddles, just like homebrewers, we fly sparge, and the mash tun has what is essentially a false bottom, just like homebrewers. I guess the biggest differences are that we have more neat toys - like our grist hydrator that sprays down the grist for even, good hydration as the auger dumps it in the mash tun - and we constantly reuse yeast. We obviously don't do starters for every batch like a lot of homebrewers, we just harvest from a batch that's close to fermented out and pitch it into the new batch. IIRC, we pitch about 10-15g of slurry for a 35-40bbl batch, and we check the yeast under a microscope to get a reliable viability count.

We also filter most of our beers, which homebrewers generally don't care about. But aside from neat toys and a bit more of a scientific approach, we are basically homebrewers on a commercial scale. I wouldn't be surprised if lots of things change when you get to the point where you're putting out enough bbls to be in the six-figure range, but I can't really speak to that.

The next time I have to go in on a weekend to give tours I'll remember to bring my camera and make a virtual tour of the brewery.
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Old 07-07-2008, 02:39 AM   #1093
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Re: TLDR Beer Club

Wookie, that DFH brown looks good.. I want.

This weekend I had a sixer of Magic Hat's Hocus Pocus and a snagged a bottle of Arrogant bastard ale.

The Magic Hat was a very light ale, not much to write home about.

The ABA was very good, imo.. I'll prolly scoop it up again.

I thought it was a little strong but, it may have been me because I was going on 30+ hours without sleep at the time of drinkage.

It was bought off the shelf and I didnt refrig it long enough so it was a little warm, I'm sure I'll like it even more when its properly chilled.
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Old 07-07-2008, 10:24 AM   #1094
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Re: TLDR Beer Club

Magic Hat is a brewery that doesn't really impress me much. They don't have a lot of notable beer, except for their fall seasonal Jinx, which is a great brown ale.
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Old 07-07-2008, 02:03 PM   #1095
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Re: TLDR Beer Club

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Magic Hat is a brewery that doesn't really impress me much. They don't have a lot of notable beer, except for their fall seasonal Jinx, which is a great brown ale.
Wookie,
I was recently in Vermont and was told by one of the locals that they brew the beer with mushrooms.
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Old 07-07-2008, 03:17 PM   #1096
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Re: TLDR Beer Club

Heh. Well, not the brews of theirs that I've had, or maybe the fermentation kills any of the magic.
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Old 07-07-2008, 06:35 PM   #1097
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Re: TLDR Beer Club

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I can only speak to where I work, which put out 6500bbls on a 10bbl system last year. But our process is basically the same as a homebrewer's. Our mill is a roller mill, although way bigger than anything you'd find at someone's house or in a homebrew shop. We dough in with mash paddles, just like homebrewers, we fly sparge, and the mash tun has what is essentially a false bottom, just like homebrewers. I guess the biggest differences are that we have more neat toys - like our grist hydrator that sprays down the grist for even, good hydration as the auger dumps it in the mash tun - and we constantly reuse yeast. We obviously don't do starters for every batch like a lot of homebrewers, we just harvest from a batch that's close to fermented out and pitch it into the new batch. IIRC, we pitch about 10-15g of slurry for a 35-40bbl batch, and we check the yeast under a microscope to get a reliable viability count.

We also filter most of our beers, which homebrewers generally don't care about. But aside from neat toys and a bit more of a scientific approach, we are basically homebrewers on a commercial scale. I wouldn't be surprised if lots of things change when you get to the point where you're putting out enough bbls to be in the six-figure range, but I can't really speak to that.

The next time I have to go in on a weekend to give tours I'll remember to bring my camera and make a virtual tour of the brewery.
Thanks. For the yeast, after reusing one batch 3-4x do you start with a fresh batch of yeast or do you continuously reuse the yeast? I was under the impression that yeast goes bad or gets bad after a few fermentations.

Which brings me to my next question,

Why filter/unfilter beers? Several "well known" craft brewers, notably West Coast ones, sell a lot of unfiltered beers. Any idea why this they don't filter? Are there any major differences, advantages or disadvantages I might not be aware of?
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Old 07-07-2008, 06:50 PM   #1098
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Re: TLDR Beer Club

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Thanks. For the yeast, after reusing one batch 3-4x do you start with a fresh batch of yeast or do you continuously reuse the yeast? I was under the impression that yeast goes bad or gets bad after a few fermentations.
That's where checking the yeast under the microscope for viability comes in. We take a small sample of the yeast and use this special die with it. Under the 'scope, live yeast cells metabolize the die, so they look clear basically. Dead yeast cells aren't metabolizing anything, so they're blue. That way we can get an idea of how viable the yeast from that sample is.

Generally our viability is over 99%. I saw a batch today where it was noted that viability was around 96% and it was the 8th generation for that yeast. We'll probably pitch fresh yeast soon instead of reusing that culture much longer.

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Which brings me to my next question,

Why filter/unfilter beers? Several "well known" craft brewers, notably West Coast ones, sell a lot of unfiltered beers. Any idea why this they don't filter? Are there any major differences, advantages or disadvantages I might not be aware of?
We filter ours (except the hefe) purely for presentation and serving reasons. When we first started out, some bars and bartenders/owners were confused about why it wasn't clear. Or they'd get a keg from the distributor that had been sitting for a few days and not understand why they couldn't pull a pint. Sine the liquid out tube inside the keg goes all the way to the bottom, a keg of unfiltered beer will eventually settle, and then sometimes all that slurry on the bottom will clog the out tube. So uneducated/unexperienced bar staff were returning full kegs of our beer because they didn't understand why they weren't getting beer out of the keg. And now that we have the filtering equipment, might as well filter the beer so people get that nice, bright beer in the glass that they're used to seeing.

That's why our hefe and other unfiltered beers are shipped with the kegs upside down. Why our distributor wasn't doing it with all our kegs I have no idea. Other than that there aren't a whole ton of differences. Our hefe is bottle conditioned, but when we keg it we carb it all the way up. A couple weeks ago, we were bottling and ran out of glass before we ran out of beer. So we had about ten 1/2bbls that had to be conditioned in the keg. Those kegs turned out awesome. The mouthfeel was really different, much softer almost to the point of tasting like a cask beer. The owner said that he's going to think about pulling a few 1/2bbls worth on bottling day and keg them instead. The only problem is that they come out the tap really really foamy for some reason, so we don't want to ship them out to bars. We'll just keep them for our own tap room.
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Old 07-07-2008, 06:54 PM   #1099
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Re: TLDR Beer Club

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Magic Hat is a brewery that doesn't really impress me much. They don't have a lot of notable beer, except for their fall seasonal Jinx, which is a great brown ale.
I feel like you and I don't have super-similar beer preferences, but we seem to agree on exactly whose beers we like. I think the same thing about Magic Hat, very unexciting beer. Haven't had Jinx, though.
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Old 07-07-2008, 07:37 PM   #1100
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Re: TLDR Beer Club

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I feel like you and I don't have super-similar beer preferences, but we seem to agree on exactly whose beers we like. I think the same thing about Magic Hat, very unexciting beer. Haven't had Jinx, though.
You reach for hoppier beers than I do more often, but I still know a good hop bomb when I taste it. I suspect that within particular styles of beer, our rankings would be pretty similar.

The Jinx is a strong brown ale that's spent some time in bourbon barrels. It's about 7 or 8% ABV and has a good woody flavor to it.
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