30 August 2006

Roundtable at MacNivens

The Knights of the Beer Roundtable will gather tomorrow evening at MacNivens to judge a yet-to-be-determined scottish ale. Look for our review on Friday!

24 August 2006

Good Beer Show is Golden (Again!)

Congratulations to Jeffrey and the gang of The Good Beer Show for their 2nd consecutive People's Choice Podcast Award for the Food & Drink category!

20 August 2006

Mini-Kegs of Oberon

Yesterday, I found the perfect accompaniment to a hot summer afternoon spent by a pool.

I guess these mini-kegs (1.32 gallons) of Bell's Oberon are going like hotcakes. The keg equals out to about 14.5 bottles, and runs roughly the same price as two six-packs ($19.99).

I got mine at my favorite beer store, The Hop Shop, and there were a few more in stock.

19 August 2006

KOTBR Review #2: Spaten's Optimator

The Knights of the Beer Roundtable, with guest 3rd judge, Jim, gathered at The Rathskeller Thursday evening for a review of Spaten's Optimator. The Optimator has a higher ABV of 7.2%, so it can jump up and kick you in the ass if you drink too much or drink it too fast.

Interesting fact: Spaten beers are the No. 1 selling authentic Bavarian beers in the United States, which means that the beers are completely unaltered. They are identical to the beer you would be served in Munich. All Spaten Beers adhere strictly to the Bavarian Purity Law of 1516, or known in German as the Reinheitsgebot, which was enacted on April 23, 1516 by Bavarian Duke Wilhelm IV.

Jim: In the interest of disclosure, I have to begin by noting that Spaten’s Optimator is one of my favorite beers, and this is coming from someone who does not drink a lot of German beers. Whenever I go to the Rathskeller, it’s my beer of choice. So, what I have to say about Optimator will be anything but impartial. Before I begin, I’d also like to thank Chris and Jason for inviting me to tag along. I enjoyed finally getting to meet them in person.

I’ll start with the nose on this dark brown lager, which is somewhat metallic to me. Taking a sniff of an Optimator vaguely reminds me of what pennies would smell like if they were wet or what the side of a boil kettle must smell like. This might not sound like a pleasant odor, but it is actually nice. So, I would use the phrase “pleasantly metallic” to describe the nose on this beer.

As for the taste – Optimator is very malty, has little bite, and is extremely smooth. It’s a beer that rides well in the front of the mouth and leaves very little aftertaste. It has slightly sweet caramel notes to it, which makes it very easy to drink for those of us who love malty beers.

For those new to Optimator, a warning – This beer, at 7.2% alcohol by volume, can sneak up on you if you’re not careful. It will give you a nice buzz that can quickly turn into a sledgehammer if you overindulge. Therefore, if you’re ordering it for the first time at the Rathskeller, I suggest that you go for the small size and take it slowly. While a slower drinking pace will let your Optimator get warmer, this is not a beer that’s meant to be served or enjoyed ice cold. Like many ales from the British Isles, Optimator’s flavor actually improves if it’s not served super cold.

A final note – If you want to pick up a six-pack, Kahn’s Fine Wines & Spirits on North Keystone sells it cold.

Jason: I am Catholic in upbringing and German in descent; it should be no surprise to anyone that I like to drink. A lot. And it should be no surprise that a big German-American like me enjoys drinking big German-style beers. So you know that I love drinking at the Rathskeller. And most anything from the Kellerbar will get a thumbs-up from me.

The Spaten Optimator doppelbock is no exception. It has everything that I would expect from a malty beer: tastes of toffee, coffee, and chocolate. But unlike other beers where these flavors really stand out, the Optimator blends the flavors together really well into one cohesive flavor. Thankfully for me, it took a lot of beer drinking to identify those flavors!

Visually, it is dark brown and dense with a dense, foamy head. Much like the flavor, it was difficult to find a specific scent in the aroma. It was pleasing, but unidentifiable to me.

When drinking the beer, there is a fair amount of bite on the front of the tongue, which is a little surprising for a beverage as malty as this. The bite lingers in the aftertaste. Which isn’t a bad thing; it isn’t unpleasant. It’s just different. In the aftertaste, there is also a sensation in the back of the throat that I couldn’t identify right away. I found the same sensation when I took in the aroma.

It wasn’t until the next day that I figured out what I was experiencing. The sensations in my nose and in the back of my throat when drinking the Optimator is very similar to those sensations when I smoke a good cigar that has a balance of flavor and bite.

The Optimator was very creamy and easy to drink. While it wasn’t very chewy, it wasn’t a guzzling beer by any means. This beer is as enjoyable, or perhaps more so, as it warms up to room temperature. At the Rathskeller, where it is on tap, you can get it in small, medium, or wholly-hell-I-better-be-careful-not-to-give-myself-a-hernia large. If you are going to be in the Kellerbar or restaurant for a long period of time, go for the large and work on it over a long period of time.

Chris: I, too, like Jim, must confess that I really enjoy the Optimator. But in creating this blog, part of my reasoning was to educate the masses on "good beer", and the Optimator definitely qualifies.

This review is difficult for me to write because so much of the ingredients of The Optimator blend together so well that it's difficult to differentiate. That's why this beer is so good.

The color is a very dark brown, almost black - my favorite kind of beer - and definitely opaque. Very typical of the doppelbock.

The nose is muted. Again, everything blends together so well, it's difficult to pick out individual smells. I can get a slight hint of chocolate, a slight metallic, and a definite malt.

The taste jumps on on the front your tongue and bites down on those tastebuds. From there, the aftertaste aroma just bursts out of your nose. It's very malty (as it should be), and appears to be well-carbonated.

This is a good room temperature beer. It doesn't need to be iced-down, and actually shouldn't be. The taste actually improves at room temperature. Which lends itself to sipping instead of chugging, which is good because of the 7.2% ABV.

In my opinion, the Optimator is arguably one of the few perfect beers.

17 August 2006

As if We Really Need Another Reason . . .

Next time some health freak is giving you shit for drinking beer, just tell them you're trying to be healthy.

Rich in Vitamins and Good for the Nerves
Beer is rich in important vitamins - most are delivered to you by the beer's yeast. Vitamins B1, B2, and B6 and H contained in beer are food for the nerves: They improve your ability to concentrate, support the production of red blood cells, have a positive effect on your blood circulation and stimulate your metabolism.

Minerals for the Metabolism
A scientific study undertaken at the Technical University of Munich concluded that the collection of minerals and trace elements in beer have a favorable effect on nerves and muscle strength, electrolyte usage, enzyme activation and hormone levels. In addition, iron and copper help blood production, phosphorus supports metabolism and magnesium strengthens the heart muscle. Zinc is necessary for your pancreas' production of insulin and fluoride protects your teeth from cavities. Finally, Maganese also helps in the production of beer's Vitamin B, which is very valuable to the human body.

Beer helps you relax
A hectic lifestyle, stress or problems with your job or family often lead to nervousness and sleeping problems-your blood pressure rises. A glass of beer before going to bed is the "best medicine" against all of that: The hops in beer (with all four important B vitamins) have a calming effect on exhausted nerves and relax your muscles. The small amount of alcohol (4.5 to 5.5%) and the carbonation relax your body. The commentary of the Munich study concludes: "The life expectancy of people who drink beer in moderation is longer than of people who abstain."

The calorie count rises...
Beer is comparably a low-calorie drink. A twelve ounce glass of beer has about 160 calories; only mineral water, coffee and tea (without milk or sugar), skim and butter milk have fewer calories than beer. "Hard drinks", wine, champagne and liqueurs as well as fruit, lemonade and whole milk do not. Additionally, beer, because it has practically no sodium, promotes tissue drainage and sodium expulsion.

Beer gives you momentum
Beer is healthy-sport medicine specialists have also recognized that fact and have drawn uses from it. One example is the two Italian sport doctors Antonelli and Romano who came to the conclusion that a liter of beer a day increases performance, concentration and reaction and strengthens muscles. The American cardiologist Sheehan maintains that after long distance running, jogging, cross country skiing or marathons, beer ideally replaces bodily fluids and energy. The French doctor Gulpin discovered decades ago that beer increases lung capacity and speeds the lung's ability to process oxygen.

Beer in old Age
Doctors and geriatricians have recognized that beer - in addition to all of the previously mentioned health effects - works against the possible breakdown of the aging human body. Also noteworthy is beer's sociological aspects: Beer is cheerful, makes one sociable and makes it easier to make contact and win new friends. In an opinion poll of German general practitioners, 81% were convinced that one or two beers a day could "beautify" retirement.

It's a Roundtable Night!

The second Roundtable is scheduled for this evening at The Rathskeller. Jason, our guest 3rd judge, Jim, and I will be reviewing Spaten's Optimator. Look for the reviews tomorrow!

Drinking Beer & Kicking Balls

I posted the following on Jackson's Daddy, too:

So I was reading Newsweek this morning, and found the most interesting article. Unbeknownst to me, there exist adult kickball leagues around the country. They're under the umbrella of the World Adult Kickball Association (WAKA). I shit you not! I guess they're for those of us who just aren't going to be playing in basketball leagues or anything like that. Drinking is strongly encouraged, and in some leagues, it's mandatory that you carry your beer while running bases. What a great idea!

So I checked out the WAKA site, and there aren't any leagues currently in Indianapolis, but WAKA is trying to get some started. So I signed up, and emailed a bunch of people. So if you're in Indy, check it out, sign up, and let's kick some balls!!

13 August 2006

KOTBR Review #1: Dark Horse Brewery's Sapient Trip Ale

Sapient Trip Ale is belgian tripel (three times the amount of malt used in a regular beer) and a summer seasonal from Dark Horse Brewing Company, located in Marshall, Michigan.

Interesting fact: Sapient means wise & intelligent. Also, it is made with a trappist yeast strain (which means the yeast originates from one the six remaining Trappist - monk - breweries in the world).

The following are the reviews given by HBG's own Knights of the Beer Roundtable:

Chris: This beer has a rather deep amber/golden color, though certainly not opaque. It presents a fresh, fragrant bouquet – something of competing hints of apple/cherry/wood/clove. It appears to be lightly carbonated, though definitely effervescent.

The first taste is very sweet, very fruity, and just a little bit spicy. It has a potent cherry taste to me, giving it a passing resemblance to Unibroue’s Quelque Chose, though not as strong of as that one. The aftertaste is still sweet & fruity, and lingers somewhere in the middle taste buds of my tongue. It feels thin & watery in the mouth, and it is an easy drink.

I must admit that I’m not a big fan of “fruity” beers, so while I wouldn’t put it high on my list, that comes from a personal bias. For someone who likes the sweet and fruit, I would recommend it. I am most intrigued by the label design - what is that? A monk wielding a mailbox like an axe?

Jason: When it comes to beers, I tend to prefer them light and crisp or dark and malty. When it comes to wheat beers, I tend to turn them away on account of the often fruity hints that I find. Banana is my least favorite fruit in the world and it seems to be the most common fruity flavor I find in wheat beers.

While a Tripel isn't necessarily a wheat, it tends to have some similar characteristics, mainly the fruity aroma and taste. The Sapient Trip Ale from Dark Horse Brewing Company is no exception. In the aroma, you find a bit of citrus and a bit of banana. The taste, however, is a little surprising. While I could definitely find some fruity flavors hiding in the back, the taste of clove really overwhelmed them. There is a spiciness found in the back of the throat when you drink it. I also found a great deal of bitterness. Both senses were left as part of the aftertaste, which I did not find appealing.

What I also found was a sweet, sugary flavor left on my lips. The sweet finish isn't surprising since Tripels use Belgian candy sugar in the brewing process. This sweetness balanced out with the spiciness and bitterness. All together, it creates a beer that slightly more light than heavy, slightly more chewy than watery, and slighty more smooth than coarse. Really, and surprisingly, a very balanced beer.

Visually, it was reddish gold in color with a bit of cloudiness to it, a kind of visual mix of wheat and a red ale. It did not have much head or Belgian lace to it though Tripels normally have plenty of both. The label had a monk (makes sense with it being a Belgian style beer) carrying a mailbox (which makes no sense to me).

I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys a good Belgian beer. It harmonious mix of flavors creates a great balance for the beer drinkers palate. While I prefer porters, stouts, and lagers, I wouldn't turn this beer down if it was offered to me again.

Of course, it wouldn't be wise to turn down any beer that's offered to you.

Please note before reading Colleen's review that Jason and I respect the beer. That's Rule #1 of the Hoosier Beer Geek - Respect the Beer. Colleen, obviously, does not respect the beer. Therefore, Colleen is, from this point forward, banned from Roundtables.

Colleen: It tastes good. It tastes like chicken. Chicken is good.

12 August 2006

Holding Court

The Knights of the Beer Roundtable held court for the first time yesterday evening, and we rated Sapient Trip Ale from Dark Horse Brewing Company, located in Marshall, Michigan. I'll post our reviews once I receive the final review from Jason. Our first guest 3rd judge was my wife, Colleen. After you read her review, you'll understand why we have decided to nullify her comments, take her out of the guest 3rd judge rotation, and generally ban her from all future Roundtables.

As you can see from the picture, we "warmed up" (a term used by the folks on The Good Beer Show) quite a bit before judging. The milk bottle, alas, was not ours, but was my son's. I started with three Blue Moons before dinner while Jason worked on the remainder of the Mocha Porter I reviewed earlier, then we split a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon from 3 Blind Moose over dinner, I continued with an Oberon for desert and I think Jason continued with the Mocha Porter. At this point, Colleen joined in with a Guinness. I think at some point in there, I also had a Sam Adams Scotch Ale & one more try of the Mocha Porter (this time, it had a distinct smoky taste, almost like smoked gouda). Our tastebuds well-lubricated, we drank some water to clense our palates, then moved into the Sapient. Amazingly enough, I didn't have a headache this morning.

10 August 2006

Free Beer!!

OK, I have to admit that when I started this blog a few days ago, one of my ulterior motivations was to get enough people reading that I could go to some of the local beer stores and convince them to give me free beer in return for advertising their store to other beer snobs. Well, we haven't quite gotten there in three days . . .

However, I had friend who is brewing his own stuff call me and tell me he'll gladly supply me with some of his brew if I would review it on here. Better yet, he's been talking to some of his other brew buddies, and they're willing to do the same. So, I've already harnessed some free good stuff off this idea. Sweet!!

09 August 2006

Knights of the Beer Roundtable

My good friend at Four Square #266 has suggested that I consider hosting a weekly "Beer Roundtable". Myself and two fellow beer snobs (of course, he suggests he be permanently be one of the two, and I'm ok with that) come together and choose a new beer each week to drink and rate, then post our results here. Is there a third out there who care to join us for beer drinking? I have a feeling that, with football season now here, the best time for the roundtable is during a game.

08 August 2006

Rogue's Mocha Porter

Trying Rogue's Mocha Porter for the first time. It was named Supreme Champion of the 2005 International Beer Competition, and if that wasn't reason enough to try it, it combines two of my favorite beverages - mocha and beer.

It's a dark brown color. It leaves a rather bitter aftertaste, even after a few drinks. It's heavy, and kind of creamy. Rich in taste, but I can't honestly say this is one of my favorite porters.

Food for Thought

"Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy." - Ben Franklin

"You can't be a real country unless you have a beer and an airline - it helps if you have some kind of a football team, or some nuclear weapons, but at the very least you need a beer." - Frank Zappa

"An intelligent man is sometimes forced to be drunk to spend time with his fools." - Ernest Hemingway

"A woman drove me to drink and I didn't even have the decency to thank her." - W. C. Fields

"Give me a woman who loves beer and I will conquer the world. " - Kasier Wilhelm

"I would kill everyone in this room for a drop of sweet beer." - Homer (Simpson)

Bottoms Up

Welcome, fellow beer geeks! I've decided to create this blog to advance the good taste of beer drinkers everywhere! Headquartered in the Circle City, we will strive to educate the masses on what good beer really is! Or, we can just say screw all the "Lite" piss drinkers, and keep the good stuff for ourselves!