30 September 2007

Roundtable #29 - I'm moving to Holland / Beer Diary

Ok, you know where we were and what we tried so I'll just get to the review...

After my warm-up of 60 minute, we drank the Quadruple from Brouwerij de Koningshoeven. This beer was absolutely spectacular. Though it has a high ABV, it really didn't smack you in the face with it. I agree with Mike that it kinda smelled like grape soda, and I love Jim's caramel covered fruit reference, I think that serves the beer very well. At one point, during conversation, I looked at my glass to take another drink and it was over half gone and I was a little sad. 5 mugs.

Other beers I've had over the last few weeks:

Brugge Brasserie - The Black. This started with a little bit more alkaline taste than I remember, but then it warmed to all of its malty splendor. This beer makes me excited to drink beer all over again. The taste is creamy and flavorful without overpowering your senses. This is definitely in my top 5 and probably in my top 3.

Lakefront Brewery - Cherry Lager. Though it is called a fruit beer, I didn't initially get much of a fruit nose or taste. I did find that after it warmed just a little, I did get a bit of sour cherry flavor. It reminded me of a fizzy sparkling soda.

New Holland Brewing Company - Black Tulip. I've heard some good things about this beer, but I don't think that I agree. The smell was pleasant with a strong alcohol nose, but it tasted like a gym sock marinated in a Belgian beer.

Lion Brewery - Lion Stout. Mike and I picked this up on our Jungle Jim's trip. This was based on the recommendation of the beer guy at the store. The label says to enjoy it with spicy food, so we thought it would be a good one to bring along to the pre-game tailgating party where Jason made some fantastic chili. The beer was great, and indeed went well with the chili. It was very dark, chocolaty, and had a very full mouthfeel.

28 September 2007

Roundtable #29 - Looking for trouble..from the beer, not each other.

Apparently, all the Knights were in a good mood because this is the first time in a while that we didn't go into great debate over anything pop culture, though we talked about a lot of different things. But we did find a trouble of another sort.

9%, 10%, 7%...those were the ABV's of the three beers I enjoyed at BadaBoomz last night. The trouble is that all three were extremely drinkable with little hint as to how powerful they are.

I warmed up with a Frosty Frog from Rogue's Issaquah Brewhouse. This has become a favorite of mine and is found on tap. It is a winter seasonal American Strong Ale and it is like buttered rum in beer form. It smells like butterscotch. It tastes like butterscotch. It has a light mouthfeel that doesn't stick around for all that long. Easy to drink, in my opinion. Now we aren't officially reviewing this particular beer tonight, but if we were, I'd probably give it a 5 mugs rating. I love this beer. I put it up there with Bell's Hopslam, Founder's Kentucky Breakfast Stout, and Dogfish Head's 90 Minute as my favorites.

I finished with a bottle of Ara Bier from Belgium's Brouwerij De Dolle Brouwers. This is an interesting Belgian Strong Pale Ale. It pours out cloudy and gold with a fizzy head. The smell was of fruit that was teetering on the edge of going from ripe to rotten. But in a sort of good way, if that is possible. It tastes a little of fruit, a little of spices. A very unique beer that deserves further exploration. Plus, it looks like the bird on the label is some terrible parrot/rooster hybrid. Prooster? Rarrot? Who knows.

And in between was our center stage beer: Konings Hoeven Quadrupple Trappist Ale from the Netherlands' Brouwerij de Koningshoeven. It poured from the bottle with a thick, foamy head. The beer was brown and cloudy, appearing almost like apple cider. In the scent, you can pick up a variety of things, as the reviews here show. I found apples and pears with a little ting of alcohol. The alcohol was nowhere to be found in the taste. Instead, I found a lot of sweetness. Brown sugar, pop rocks, caramel maybe? A fruit medley was also to be found. It left a sugary, chewy feel in my mouth.

This stuff is drinkable. Incredibly drinkable. Too drinkable. You could easily go through 4 or 5 bottles before realizing that you are toast. But I'm giving it a 4.5 mugs rating, making it the best toast you'll ever be.

Roundtable #29 | Heaven in a bottle

Imagine life in a monastic community. You live in seclusion and self-imposed poverty. The majority of each day consists of prayer and meditation. You also work each morning and afternoon, tending to the chores that must be done to enable the monastery to function--washing clothes, sweeping floors, preparing food, weeding the vegetable garden, etc.

Now imagine that instead of washing clothes, sweeping floors, preparing food, and weeding the vegetable garden, your job is to brew beer. This is not exactly the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a monk's work, but it is exactly the job that some Trappist monks have. They brew a style of Belgian beers called, logically, Trappist beers.

Seven breweries currently brew authentic Trappist beers. All are in Belgium except for one, which is in the Netherlands--Brouwerij de Koningshoeven. This brewery makes six beers, which are sold under the La Trappe name everywhere except the United States and Canada, where they are sold under the Konings Hoeven label.

As Mike mentioned, we tried the Konings Hoeven Quadrupel last night at BadaBoomz. We went into this roundtable intending to review New Albanian's Hoptimus IPA, which we sampled this summer at the Phoenix Theatre's Brew-Ha-Ha and the Indiana Microbrewer's Festival. Unfortunately, BadaBoomz still has not tapped the keg of Hoptimus that is currently sitting in their cellar.

Therefore, we trusted Jason and Mike to come up with another choice. I'm happy to say that they hit a home run with the Konings Hoeven Quadrupel. The adjectives that this beer conjured up in my mental notes are "luscious" and "divine" (the latter makes sense considering that monks made the beer). It poured with very little head and a somewhat cloudy but rich mahogany color. The nose was sweet and had notes of caramel and ripe bananas. The mouthfeel was silky; the beer literally glided from the front to the back of my mouth. The taste was candy-like. I imagined caramel drizzled over ripe fruit. Despite the sweetness, this beer was very, very drinkable, and at 10% ABV, very dangerous if not sipped.

In short, this is one of the best beers that we've reviewed. 5 mugs from me.

Roundtable #29 - Full House

The Hoosier Beer Geeks (left to right): Jason, Kelly, Jim, Gina, Brent, Mike, Chris

Last night's roundtable featured a HBG rarity: a full house of all 6 knights. As an added bonus, Brent showed up, and gave us free beer (You can look forward to a mini-review in a future beer diary). We visited both Badaboomz and Deano's Vino as well, so the whole event was rolling roadshow of epic proportions.

We've written about Badaboomz and Deano's before, so onto the beer. After a warmup of Dogfish 60 Minute and dinner, I settled into our featured beer from Badaboomz: Konings Hoeven Quadrupple Trappist Ale.

When Jason and I decided on this beer, we were under the false impression that it was a Belgian - and while it certainly fits the Belgian style, the beer is actually from Holland. This beer had a grapity-grape (think grape soda) nose and a dark copper color with a quickly dissipating, bubbly head. Mouthfeel was quite odd to start - it was almost as if the beer took a journey around my mouth, starting at the roof and working it's way around my tongue - almost like it was repelled from my tongue and had to work it's way there. I suppose the sensation wasn't unlike drinking champagne. This exotic mouthfeel settled down as the beer warmed.

As far as taste goes, this beer is an enigma. I did get alcohol notes, but the overall taste was really hard to pin down. This is a very sweet, sugary beer. At 10% ABV, you might expect it to be overpowering, but the dominant characteristic of Konings Hoeven is its smoothness. This is a must have if you're visiting Badaboomz and like Belgian style ales. I called it "a nice punch in the brain" and award it 4 Mugs.

27 September 2007

KOTBR Review #28: Roll out the barrels

So why does it take two weeks to put up a review summary? Like the age old question from the Tootsie Pop commercials, the world may never know. Here are some other questions that, frankly are best left unanswered...

Mike asks where he can get his mullet highlighted?

Jim asks why do Germans love the smooth jazz genre so?

Jason asks what exactly does everybody see in the movie "Anchorman"?

And Gina asks who stole the kishka?

Oh, and some beer was consumed as well. And with it being Oktoberfest and we were at the Rathskeller, we obviously had to drink German beers. Like Weihenstephaner Oktoberfest, which averaged a 2.88 mugs rating. And Erdinger Hefe Weissbier Dark, which averaged a 1.25 mugs rating.

26 September 2007

Opinions are like...

Rating beer is something we try to take seriously at Hoosier Beer Geek. I know from personal experience that the beer rankings in the left column can influence purchases, which is why we debated adding the Upland Ard Ri score - only one of us rated the beer, which doesn't give it a comparatively balanced score. In the end, we decided we were comfortable with leaving it in the table where it sits until it can be reassessed.

I don't think you'll ever see us writing a column toting "the best" anything - there's just too much beer out there to make a definite decision about any of them. What you see ranked is what we liked; that's all we're really saying.

But Men's Journal magazine is in the buisiness to make money, so they don't mind making best lists; in fact, they don't mind going overboard. This month they've tackled beer with three lists: 25 Best Beers In America, The Best American Specialty Beers, and Best Beers In the World.

Do we agree with the lists? Of course not. That's the point, isn't it?

21 September 2007

Beer Diary - Mike

Before I start the diary, a list of five, as has become tradition.

Five favorite Hoosier Beer Geeks (in order)
1) Chris - doesn't mind if you throw up in his car, former guitarist for Alanis Morissette.
2) Jim - watches soccer, great dancer.
3) Kelly - apparently knows everyone, can perform emergency dental work.
4) Jason - helpful to strangers, quotes Shakespeare regularly.
5) Gina - stalks me, part robot.

On to the beer...

2 September 07 Location: Home

Two Brothers Brewing Co. Domaine DuPage French Style Country Ale (bottle labeled "Best by 8/15/04") - A trip to PartiPak last night brought home a mixed 6 pack featuring 4 beers I've never had before. This is one of the four. Really nice bottle - golds and maroons, a classy presentation. If I had seen the "best by" marking, I probably wouldn't have made this purchase, but nevertheless... pours extremely fizzy in the glass, more like a 7 Up than a beer. Thick pillowy head on top of a cloudy, dark pumpkin-colored body. A while back I had a beer at Brugge called "the sour" - this is the closest thing I've had to that beer. But this isn't nearly as good. Sour dominates both the nose and taste, but not in a pleasant, sour candy sort of way... just sort of a sour apple taste - I drank half and gave Gina the rest.

11 September 07 Location: Home

Stone Pale Ale - I've decided to only drink beers I've heard Jeffery T talk about - thus, Stone Pale Ale. Dark golden color, with a thin lacing. Light, slightly hoppy nose. Smooth, surprising taste - dry, earthy popcorn, with just a tiny kick of a hop aftertaste. Taste kinda stays with you. Pretty mild. Not bad, but wouldn't be my first choice - though my pale ale experience is pretty limited.

15 September 07 Location: My childhood home, Trenton, IL

Bell's Octoberfest - Left over from our tasting at Big Car. 5.8% ABV, pours like a soda with a head that quickly settles - this beer looks quite active and bubbly, with a dark copper color. A sweet yeasty, bready nose that follows into the taste. Then the alcohol notes come out - this tastes like a stronger beer than it is. I don't think it's very good, but maybe I should have let it chill a bit longer.

20 September 07 Location: Brugge Brasserie, Indianapolis

The Black - To be honest, every time I visit Brugge I worry that the beer won't be as good as I remember it. The Black is (obviously enough) black and opaque in color, with a tiny bubbly and pillowy head. At first taste, this isn't the beer I remember. Heavily alkaline - a penny-like taste that overpowers everything else. But the beer was served colder than in my previous experiences, so I gave it a minute to warm up. In earlier reviews of the black my fellow beer geeks noted chocolate, coffee, and nuts - but I don't get that at all. I think the beer has a sweet, slightly plum-like nose and taste - with none of the stout-like characteristics found in earlier reviews. The plum hints might make you think of other Belgian-style beers, but this isn't an overpowering fruit taste like some of those other beers - the beer is perfectly mild and endlessly drinkable. But it also packs more punch than any other beer I can think of - after just one glass the walk to the restroom becomes slightly more entertaining than it should be. I still don't know the ABV of this beer, but I suspect it's over 10.

Ratebeer.com says 7% - I don't buy that at all. Besides, ratebeer.com give the black a 69/100 score, which is a travesty.

I have to wonder if there's some inconsistency in the different batches of the beer - the alkaline taste that I got off the top wasn't something I remember from before, and this beer was really my introduction to good beer back before I was writing for Hoosier Beer Geek. I just can't imagine liking it so much back then with this much metallic taste.

Despite the inconsistency, drinking this beer is always a rewarding experience - I just wonder which version we're going to get once it's bottled. Despite my much larger beer background, the black is still a favorite.

Ommegang Hennepin - This is the first time I've had someone else's beer from the tap at Brugge - I'd imagine they're running a bit low on the home-grown stuff while they get things in line at the brewery in Terre Haute. Ommegang is a New York brewery brewing Belgian style beers, so the beer fits Brugge's concept pretty well. Hennepin has a cloudy lemon color, with a thin flat head. A sweet and mild fruit nose preceeds a full but not heavy mouthfeel. I wrote the word "mild" three times in my notes - it's just a refreshingly pleasant and agreeable beer; a perfect summertime drink. It's almost hefe-like in its drinkability and taste - fruity, but not overpoweringly so, and minus the banana hints of a typical hefeweizen. Hennepin calls this a "farmhouse saison" - and I don't have enough saison experience to compare this to anything else. But I do know it's pretty fantastic stuff.

20 September 2007

The Hoosier Beer Geek 6 Pack - Ted Miller, Brewer/Owner of Brugge Brasserie and Brugge Beer

The Hoosier Beer Geek 6 Pack is a feature where we run six questions by the folks behind the scenes at breweries to get a little more insight into what they do and like and how they got their start. The Knights of the Beer Roundtable would like to thank our fourth guest, Ted Miller from Brugge Beer.

1) Who are you and where do you work?

Ted Miller - Brugge

2) What inspired you to start brewing beer? How did you get your start?

My grandfather was a man who loved food and drink. On Saturdays as a child we would walk from his place at Riley Towers in downtown Indy to the city market. He would expose my brothers and I to different varieties of olives, peppers, etc. I think it was his love of food that eventually turned me into the outrageous snob I am today. All kidding aside, his appreciation for quality and pushing us to be adventurous and his propensity to have fun probably had much to do with my eventual career as that philosophy parallels my beer philosophy.

I got my start by pestering the living bejeezers out of the great folks over at the Broad Ripple Brewpub for about 4 weeks straight in September of '90 until they finally made a deal. The GM said, "Don't come back until the end of October and you can have a job. Just please, please go away." It's all history from there. Thanks, John.

3) What's your brewing mission? What are you trying to accomplish with your beer?

It's all about being Knighted. After I saw this (First American brewer knighted by the Knighthood of Brewers' Mashstaff in Belgium - Realbeer.com article) I had to change my long term goals. Previously, my goals had been of the rather ho-hum sort. Brew beer that excites people, strive to innovate, take risks, that kind of stuff.

4) Was there a beer that you benchmarked your own against? How did you know your beer was good enough to take to the general public?

Not really. Well, not a particular beer that is. My aim is to brew beers as worldclass as the hundreds of worldclass beers I respect and enjoy. I suppose all of them looked at from that perspective are a benchmark.

This Brugge thing is the first project that I actually own. So all of those other suckers I worked for the past 16 years had to deal with my complete lack of talent. Luckily, like a monkey, I can learn after a couple thousand brews.

5) What beer are you proudest of? Which of your beers is your personal favorite? Why?

That's a tough one. Here at Brugge, I'd say the Diamond Kings is probably our defining achievement. Those wild beers can go afoul quick. We've been pretty fortunate that both releases have been right about where we intended them to be.

We haven't been brewing our Pilsner recently for some small brewery reasons, but I think that was probably my go to beer. The reason is quite simple really. I like beer. A lot. Because of that, I tend to drink a few at a time. I can drink a few pilsners and still be a reasonably responsible adult.

6) Which beers outside of your own do you enjoy? What beer do you wish you came up with? Why?

I adore Gueuze in all of its funky forms. Kevin Matalucci from the Broad Ripple Brewpub and I often pack our families into the cars and head up to Symphony on the Prairie and drink gueuze paired with stinky cheeses. He's pretty much a snob too. I think Three Floyds brew some of the best beer in the country and the gang from up there are a hoot! The craft beer market is a little behind in Indiana when compared to other states, but I've got to say we are pretty lucky because we've got some spectacular beers being made here. Just not enough of it......yet. Keep posted to www.Brugge-Beer.com for details.

I wish I came up with the beer credited to Ninkasi, I guess. "On feast days, the populace would convene at the temples of Ninkasi to join in eating bread and drinking beer. They knew that the gods would be convened above do the same in their realm. Such communal carousing often culminated in ecstasy, when all inhibitions faded and the revelers reached a state of being that was held to be beneficial for both spiritual well being of both the immortal gods and their mortal followers. The faithful would throw themselves with abandon into their intoxicated joy, while the gods would lose their fear and thus fight ever more courageously against all the adversities that might afflict their people below. As the alcohol spread its glow among the worshippers, the priestesses would carry forth with erotic songs and dances designed to arouse themselves, the great mother goddess Ninkasi, and the gathered crowd before them. The priestesses would then turn into maidens of easy virtue, and a Sumerian chap could consider himself lucky, if he was chosen at such an occasion to consummate with one of them the ultimate act of fertility." Pretty easy one, heh?

Anything you'd like to add?

Brugge is going to be brewing very soon in Terre Haute. Look for draft products to roll out first. Bottles to follow in 750mls. We're really quite excited about this new project.

* * * * *

Although Ted is excited about Brugge Beer in bottles, I think the Hoosier Beer Geeks are even more so. We wish to thank Ted for taking the time to answer our questions, and for his dedication to good beer.

17 September 2007

The Hoosier Beer Geek 6 Pack - Greg Emig, President/Brewmaster at Lafayette Brewing Co.

The Hoosier Beer Geek 6 Pack is a feature where we run six (hopefully) quick questions by the folks behind the scenes at breweries to get a little more insight into what they do and like and how they got their start. The Knights of the Beer Roundtable would like to thank our third guest, Greg Emig from Lafayette Brewing Co.

1) Who are you and where do you work?

Greg Emig- President/Brewmaster at Lafayette Brewing Co.

2) What inspired you to start brewing beer? How did you get your start?

While working at the Knickerbocker Saloon here in Lafayette in the late '80s, I met a bunch of regulars who were in to homebrewing. Sampling their homebrews and listening to their tales of attending some of the early GABFs sent me down the road to brewing my own beer. A move to Lawrence, KS, and months spent quaffing pints at the newly-opened Free State Brewing in 1989 convinced me that beer was my life. A job brewing at Broad Ripple in the early days cemented that path.

3) What's your brewing mission? What are you trying to accomplish with your beer?

To make good beer, period. Nobody "accomplishes" anything with beer- it's just a pleasant part of life.

4) Was there a beer that you benchmarked your own against? How did you know your beer was good enough to take to the general public?

There were certainly breweries whose excellent products provided a benchmark in quality that I wanted to attain. I think early on I looked at The Free State in Lawrence, KS; Phantom Canyon in Colorado Springs, CO; Full Sail in Hood River, OR; and, of course, Broad Ripple, as brewers who set a fine standard in terms of quality.

5) What beer are you proudest of? Which of your beers is your personal favorite? Why?

I'm proud of all the products we produce, but our Tippecanoe Common Ale is my baby. It's a beer that I spent so much time thinking about after the initial release of the Amarillo hop variety that I could taste the beer before we actually produced our first batch in May of 2001. It's also grown to be our best seller and is the first beer we released when we started our bottling operation.

6) Which beers outside of your own do you enjoy? What beer do you wish you came up with? Why?

There are so many great beers being produced in the states that it's really hard to single out just a few. I lean towards the hoppier, IPA-ish type beers. If I'm not drinking an LBC product, I tend to go with mainly Midwestern brews that are readily accessible to us here in Indiana, ie. Bell's Two Hearted, Goose Island IPA, Three Floyds Alpha King. Of course, nothing beats visiting the breweries themselves and enjoying the beers on premise.

Hoosier Beer Geek wishes to thank Greg for taking the time to answer our questions, and for his dedication to good beer.

16 September 2007

Roundtable #28 - In heaven there is no beer, that's why we drink it here...

I remember being in a lot of bars and legion hall type places with my family a lot when I was young. Though I am a bit cloudy about the specific details, I always remember a lot of drinking and a lot of dancing. My dad played drums and sometimes accompanied my Grandpa's polka band. Of course it was all very uncool when I was younger, I now feel nostalgic and a also little bit sad that I only have a few cloudy memories of it all.

That's also kind of what the Kellerbar at the Rathskeller reminded me a little bit of. I suspect that it was mainly due to the wide open and very dimly lit room (I know it wasn't the music), but the atmosphere reminded me of those places I grew up (but with a lot less smoke and a lot better beer selection).

Onto the beers...

Weinhenstephaner Oktoberfest - As Jason mentioned, it's not a traditional Oktoberfest beer, but I think I favor it the most out of the Oktoberfest brews I have tried so far. It's cloudy, copper appearance led to a smooth citrus flavor. While Mike though it was a vanilla flavor, I thought an orange flavor was more prevalent after eating a pretzel with spicy mustard. I thought 3.5 mugs for this one.

Erdinger Hefe-Weizen Dark - I don't have too much to say about this one, it tasted like a penny. My notes say "meh". 1.5 Mugs

14 September 2007

Roundtable #28: I'm slowly bugging the piss out of Jim and the others

First, it was my assertions that "The Breakfast Club" is a chick flick (the poll stated that 2/3's of you disagree with me, which is fine. Just remember, the majority of voters voted for W in the last election, and they were ALL WRONG!).

Then, it is because I like to sing along with the likes of Grover Washington Jr. and accompany myself on the air bass. And yes, for the record, I like Will Smith, the musician and the actor.

I topped it all off with my exclamation that I thought "Anchorman" was a stupid movie. To which all the other Knights gang tackled me and gave me purple nurples until I cried "uncle". By the way, guys, my left nipple is still bleeding a little, thank you very much.

To be honest, I think they are all trying to turn me into some zombie that worships all things they do. By this time next year, I fear I'll be saying things like:

*Molly Ringwald is the second coming of Katharine Hepburn.

*John Hughes is like a god. His movies are like video clips of my soul.

*Music isn't worth listening to unless it is difficult to find and it is only available on vinyl. A pox on FM radio! All hail CBGB!

*Richard Pryor? George Carlin? Lenny Bruce? Bill Cosby? Steve Martin? Cheap hacks, all of them. Will Ferrell is such an intelligent comedian that is very approachable to the common man.

Thankfully, despite our differences, we all can agree that drinking beer is a good thing. And drinking good beers is a great thing. So let's talk beer...

As mentioned by others, we first visited the office and warehouse of Cavalier Distributing, who represents many great beers including a ton of German beers. As Bob O. pointed out, that is probably a good thing for them, considering the number of German descended populations in southern Indiana. They served us Weihenstephaner Dunkel Weiss, which is a very pleasant beer. Very tasty. We'll have to do a further review at a later time.

After the visit, we headed to the Kellerbar at the Rathskeller to continue our German beer rampage. Next up: Weihenstephaner Oktoberfest. Now, Weihenstephaner is not one of the six breweries of Munich, so their Oktoberfest is not an official Oktoberfest beer. But it was worth drinking. One of the great things about O-fest beers is the variety (and I'll go into more detail in a later posting). This particular beer has many similarities to a Belgian. Yeasty in nose; citrusy in taste. Very cloudy to look at. Drinkable, at least to me. Not my favorite of the Oktoberfest beers, but worth ordering if you find yourself at the Rathskeller. I give it 3 mugs.

Erdinger Hefe Weissbier Dark came up as a disappointment to most everyone. From the looks and description, we should have been on cloud nine. I don't know if it is because it was served at such a cold temperature, but there was no taste or scent to the dark beer. I was just shocked. As it warmed up, some very very very very very very very very slight notes of roasted malts started to come out. But nothing too special. Again, I'm going to try this again sometime, only at home where I can control the starting temperature. And I'll make it the first beer I drink. Because I fear that perhaps with all the super strong super flavored beers that American craft breweries are coming out with, that perhaps my taste buds are numbed to more subtle flavors. Like Mike, I give it a 1.5 mug rating because it just didn't impress. But for the record, I'd take this over BudMillerCoors any day and twice on Sunday.

Post script: for the record, I don't dislike Will Ferrell. He has some very funny movies and characters. Also, I like the Clash. I also like Grover Washington Jr. Really, there isn't much musically that I dislike. And I enjoy many John Hughes movies. Just not the chick flick ones that star that red-headed devil Molly.

Roundtable #28 | Smooth Jazz Epidemic

"Grover Washington, Jr. (December 12, 1943 - December 17, 1999) was an American soul-jazz musician. Along with John Klemmer, George Benson, David Sanborn, Bob James, Chuck Mangione, Herb Alpert, and Spyro Gyra, he is considered by many to be one of the founding fathers of the smooth jazz genre."

This is the Wikipedia entry for Grover Washington, Jr. If you're 35 or older, you might remember Grover's greatest hit, "Just the Two of Us." If you're younger than 35, you probably remember "Just the Two of Us" as a Will Smith song, in which he sampled Grover's original.

We got a big ol' dose of Grover at the Rathskeller last night, continuing the grievous aural assault of that most heinous musical genre which began during my visit to Florida. I don't know what was more frightening--the fact that a beloved beer hall was foisting this stuff upon me and my fellow knights (after previously playing the Only Band That Ever Mattered, no less) or the fact that Jason seemed to know the lyrics and bass-line to every single Grover song. I don't know whether it was my imagination, but I seem to recall that blood was trickling out of Kelly's left ear...

Actually, I think I know what our bartender was up to with his musical selection--we were getting close to closing time, and he was simply using Grover as a hint to us to settle up and leave. He was, however, kind enough to switch to something more musically palatable upon request. Thus ended Jason's air guitar routine.

Anyway, I've paid many a visit to the Rathskeller, and most Indy dwellers are already familiar with the place, so I won't bother you with a lengthy recounting of my impressions of our physical surroundings. Suffice it for me to say that I love the place and you should visit it if you haven't been there yet.

The beers reviewed:

Weihenstephaner Oktoberfest - Cloudy golden color with no lacing. Sweet, yeasty nose, sort of Belgian in character. A pleasant, slightly hoppy flavor. High drinkability. A decent but not outstanding offering. 2.5 Mugs.

Erdinger Hefe Weissbier Dark - As Mike noted, served with an orange slice. Thick tan head, dark brown in color. I expected a chewy beer, but alas, was mistaken. Tasted like water infused with copper and zinc. So unimpressive that I couldn't finish it. I handed it over to Jason. I think that this was the only beer I've not been able to finish at a roundtable. 0.5 Mugs.

A note on our visit to Cavalier Distributing
. Thanks to Bob Ostrander of Indiana Beer for inviting us and to Mat Gerdenich of Cavalier Distributing for the enlightening tour and the excellent beer. Mat gave us some Weihenstephaner Dunkel Weiss. A really unique and tasty offering. Reddish-gold coloring with an ample golden head. Had a sweet, yeasty nose and a flavor that followed suit. Definitely the best of our German beers on the night. I'm not going to give this one a mug rating in hopes that we'll review it in the future. Trust me when I say that this beer is uber pleasing (that's my feeble attempt at speaking German).

Roundtable #28 - The Rathskeller Kellerbar - Wo kann ich mir meine VokuHila Frisur blondieren lassen?

A sudden rescheduling meant that we had to officially cancel the Rathskeller roundtable. We had a late invite to visit Cavalier Distributing with Bob Ostrander from Indiana Beer and members of the Foam Blowers of Indiana. We're always anxious to meet the people behind the beer, so we took Bob up on the offer, thinking that we might not make it to the Rathskeller.

But we did make it to the Rathskeller, just a little bit later than our previous plans. Having never been to the Rathskeller myself, it was quite an experience. The interior is dimly lit, spacious, and just feels like a place where a person should be drunk. From where I was sitting, I could see into the adjacent room, where a group of banquet tables reminded me a bit of a VFW hall. I don't mean that as a slight - the place had a very homey, comfortable sort of feel. There are also a ton of moose heads on display in the Kellerbar - so many that I started to wonder if perhaps the Rathskeller was personally responsible for my lack of previous moose sightings.

As the night wore on and we discussed our vast knowledge of all things German (ie. I know that Moritz Volz is funny and one of my favorite Germans), I got more and more comfortable with the Kellerbar - so much so that I said and wrote a few thing in my notes that I probably normally wouldn't have. After repeatedly insulting children (in jest, but nevertheless...), I went on to note that the Rathskeller seemed to be the sort of place with 5 attractive women and 100 guys in cargo shorts and button up shirts - though I suspect that was just the biergarten on the Thursday night. As an added bonus, In my notes I wrote "Fuck off, Germany*" Of course I don't mean that - it was just that sort of night I guess - aided by the beer, which unfortunately wasn't that good.

Weihenstephaner Oktoberfest - This one appeared to have a cloudy golden color (it was pretty dark in the room, so I might be off a bit) with thin lacing. Jason and I had beer from the new keg; and the difference between kegs seemed to have some effect on the head on the beer. The beer had a sweet though very slight nose, and a slightly watery front. The taste really hit the middle of the tongue - I picked up a hint of plum, but overall this was a very light, watery, and drinkable beer. After eating a bit of pretzel with spicy mustard, I picked up some vanilla notes, which also hit right in the middle of the tongue. Everything was a bit middle about this beer - middle of the road. 2.5 Mugs.

Erdinger Hefe Weissbier Dark - The menu describes this one as follows: A refreshingly rich, smooth weissbier with a full-bodied flavor. Fine hops and dark malts contribute to its spicy flavor. Yeah.... not so much. This beer was served with an orange slice (removed immediately), which probably should have been a good indicator that it didn't have much going on. A think white head on a black/brown Guinness-like body had to be worked out of the glass by our server. A sweet, fruity Belgian-like nose gave way to the most alkaline tasting beer I've ever had. This beer basically tasted like putting your tongue on a battery. We thought that perhaps the beer just needed time to warm, but further drinking proved that it just wasn't that good. Sort of like a Belgian sour, minus the sour. 1.5 Mugs.

Despite the poor showing from the beers, I'm sure I'll be back to the Rathskeller - it's just a really comfortable, enjoyable environment. And the beer selection is pretty top notch as well. As an added bonus, I think the tax on our bill was off, which lead to me undertipping our server. I'm sure he's not a HBG reader, but I'd like to offer up my apologies anyway. I'll get you next time.

*Translated: Where can I get my mullet highlighted?

*Added Note: Give us back our bicycles

13 September 2007

Tonight's Roundtable Cancelled

Those of you planning to meet us for tonight's roundtable at the Rathskeller may wish to cancel those plans, as something has come up, and we may or may not actually be at the Rathskeller.

Sorry for the late notice. We didn't do it on purpose - we had a late invite that we couldn't refuse.

12 September 2007

Choices, Choices

Oh, snap! Two bad I can't clone myself on Saturday.

Jim and I are going to be part of the festivities at Bratoberfest on Saturday evening at Deano's. $10 gets you a beer, a brat, lots of fun, music, and the opportunity to hang out some cool beer geeks (yeah, right).

If you can't make it to Deano's, BadaBoomz's Beer Dinner sounds like it's going to kick-ass, too. Mike has decided to break out some 2004 Dark Lord Imperial Stout as the beer pairing for dessert!

Or, you can go to the dinner then come to Bratoberfest for a nightcap. It's open til 1am.

11 September 2007

Beer Diary - Jim | South Florida Edition

2 September 2007 Location: Brugge Brasserie

Old Dog Grand Cru - Enjoying a birthday celebration with milady at Brugge. The usual suspects are on the beer menu--The Black and the Tripel de Ripple--along with one I haven't tried: Old Dog Grand Cru. I order some frites (with the roasted garlic aioli) and decide to try the Old Dog. Pours with an orange-brown color, tan head, slightly cloudy. Nose is spicy, a little raisin and pepper. Taste is lighter than expected. Thought it would be sweet, but it's actually quite smooth to my palate. Flavor not as spicy as the nose. Medium mouthfeel. A good beer, but not the best that Ted and Co. have made.

6 September 2007 Location: Big Bear Brewing Company, Coral Springs, Florida

In sunny South Florida for a business conference. Upon arrival at my hotel, I hit RateBeer and BeerAdvocate to scout for some beer geek havens. Don't come up with much. South Florida doesn't seem to be very beer friendly. There's an interesting place called Brother Tuckers, but it's too far. However, I do find Big Bear Brewing Company, which is about a fifteen-minute drive from the hotel. So I decide to head there for an early dinner.

I take a seat in the bar area. Looks like a typical brewpub--lots of wood fixtures, and a glass wall separates the brewing facilities from the dining area. At 5:00 p.m., the place is fairly empty except for people who appear to be regulars. They're all seated at the bar; not a one of them appears to be under 50. The cast of characters: a fridge repairman with his name on his shirt; a crispy-tan Long Island refugee; an airline mechanic; a retired mafioso (he's wearing a mock turtleneck with a gold chain); and a Jim McGreevey look-a-like with a pinky ring. This looks like the place where the 1970's came to die. I half expect the gang from Three's Company to stop in for some drinks.

I take a gander at the beer menu. Notice that the soundtrack in this place is "smooth" jazz. Ick. I sit waiting for the smooth jazz version of the Pina Colada Song. Also notice that only the fridge repairman is drinking a beer. The rest all have mixed drinks. McGreevey is grooving on a mojito. Guess that makes sense since we're so close to Cuba, but it does not bode well for the beer quality. Yet I place my first order, eager to see if the beer is as bad as the atmosphere...

Kodiac Belgian Dubbel - Pours with a mahogany color, light tan head. Has a nose with plum, yeast, a little bit of caramel, and some banana. Nose has a musty quality, but is not unpleasant. Taste is banana-like, slightly sweet, with a little bit of clove. Medium mouthfeel; not as chewy as expected. Yum. This is very, very good. Pairs well with the fish and chips I ordered. Beats the crap out of many other Belgian-style beers I've tried.

For the next move, I sample a seasonal--a light lager infused with apricot--but find it too weak. Bartender recommends their pale ale, so I go with that...

Hibernation Pale Ale - Orange color, orange head. Lots of lacing. Big ass citrus nose--grapefruit galore with slight yeasty funk. IPA-like in taste, with an intense hop flavor. Also dry, hops clearly outweigh any malt flavor present. The IBU's on this bastard must be up there. Again, very good quality beer. Almost as good as Alpha King.

After two pretty high-powered ales, I decide to call it a night. While I can't recommend Big Bear for its atmosphere, I can recommend it on the quality of its beers. Look 'em up if you're in the Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood area.

7 September 2007 Location: Ichiban Japanese Restaurant, Davie, Florida

Have endured a marathon conference session, so decide that it's time to go eat and drink like a salaryman. Ichiban is on the way back to the hotel, so I head there for some tuna sashimi and some Japanese bagel rolls (salmon, cream cheese, and scallions). What would a salaryman drink after a long day at the office? That would be...

Kirin Ichiban - This is Kirin's premium beer. Malty and sweet nose. Classic golden lager color, white head. Crisp, light, drinkable. Tastes like Heineken, but with a little more edge. Goes well with the sashimi. Not a beer that will warm the hearts of beer geeks, but it served its purpose well. If you're going to drink a Japanese beer with your Japanese food, this is the one.

Last of the Gumball Head

From Mike DeWeese:

"Badaboomz Downtown had 2 of the last kegs of Three Floyds Gumball Head delivered today. Get it while it lasts."

Beer Geek Slumming

KOTBR #27 In Review - Labor Day, The Breakfast Club, and Keeping the Ship On Course

I've seen it happen again and again - Indianapolis blogs that die the slow death; a post here and there, then once a week, then once a month, some of them dead even though they don't know it yet...

It's not going to happen here, despite Chris' efforts to pull a Joseph Hazelwood. Someone has to be Ferdinand Magellan*.

But before mutiny, let's address Roundtable #27, The Breakfast Club and the beer consumed on Labor Day.

First - the Breakfast Club. Despite Jason's best efforts to use the movie's own poster to prove it's "Chick Flickness", the audience has spoken, the polls are closed, and The Breakfast Club is - by a score of 31 to 16 - definitely not a chick flick. But Jason is welcome to cry while watching it anyway.

And now the beer - Four of the Geeks met at Chris' house on Labor Day for some tasty BBQ and a massive sampling.

Bell's Batch 8000 - Banana nut bread potpourri, a tight, tart-like mouthfeel, and a stuffed-dog humping of your tastebuds. 3.25 Mugs.

Unibroue Seigneuriale - Johnny Appleseed's Ale; caramel apple, the beautiful, sweet aroma of decomposition. 2.66 Mugs.

Goose Island Demolition
- Overextended tastebuds knock one knight out, but the other two soldier on. Green beans and sulfur, and a lack of memory. 1.75 Mugs.

Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA - The perfect IPA for non-hopheads? Chris thinks so. Jason calls it "best best beer of the night." A mouth-snappin' hoppy taste. Mike drags the score down again. 4.16 Mugs.

Bear Republic Big Bear Black Stout - Jason sat this one out too. Deep Hershey's syrup nose - thick, heavy, chocolate, nutty, and caramel. We dug it. 4.5 Mugs.

* * * * *

*I would prefer that from here on out you address me as Captain Ferdinand. And I want a hat with a feather.

10 September 2007

KOTBR #27 - Mike makes an offer I can't refuse

Mike is a slavedriver. For real. He don't care that it's football season (he's a soccer fan), and I wasn't in front of the computer at all over the weekend - but only camped out in front of my tv. I had an email from him today that said, and I quote, "Chris, you better post your goddamned review of the beer we drank on Labor Day, or I'm going to come over to your house and kick your fat ass! Hell, I'll even kick your little dog's ass, too!" For real! He's mean.

Don't believe me??? Probably a good thing. I like to make shit up.

Anyway, to save my little dog from Mike's boot, here are my mug ratings from our Labor Day brews:

Bell's Batch 8000 - Wow! This isn't a good beer to drink as your first beer. I think I commented that it would better if it was like my third beer and my taste buds were already a little numb. This just grabs your taste buds and does to you what Humprhey does to Deano's tap. I'll give Larry Bell the benefit of the doubt, because I don't think he makes a bad beer. I'll give him 3.25 mugs, partially for bravado, and partially because it's how many strong beers I would need to drink before I would like this one more.

Unibroue's Seigneuriale - I think this roughly translates as "The Lord's Ale". If that's the case, God has bad taste in beer (is it sacriligious to criticize God's taste in beer?). Typically a very big fan of everything Unibroue, this one falls flat for me. This should be "Johnny Appleseed's Ale" because that was the only thing I could taste - apples. My personal beer mantra is "Don't fruit the beer!", and this just goes against my mantra. Too much. 2 mugs.

Goose Island Demolition - I don't remember much about this beer, which I think says enough. 2 mugs.

Now, I'm going to preference my next two reviews by saying that I have a very strong bias in favor of the brewery and everything they make. But it's only because their worthy of the praise.

Bear Republic is located in Healdsburg, California, a quaint little town in Wine Country about an hour north of San Francisco. On my trip out there in May, I trekked to Bear Republic upon the strong urging of BadaBoomz' Mike DeWeese. I cannot thank him enough. I think very highly of Nick Floyd's and Larry Bell's overall product offering, but brewmaster Richard Norgrove just might have them both beat, at least in my book. I tried everything they were offering, and some of it twice. I spent a lot of time there, obviously, getting to know the bartender and the staff. The following two beers were my favorite's then, and I've got to say, I still love both of them. It's very unfortunate that their beers are not offered in Indiana (World Class & Cavalier, you listening??), but at least we can get them in Chicago, which is where I picked these up on my recent trip with Jason to the Windy City.

Big Bear Black Stout - This ranks up with one of the best stouts I've ever had. It tastes just the way a stout should - thick, heavy, chocolate, nutty, and caramel. Damn, this will be a wonderful beer to drink this fall! 5 mugs.

Racer 5 IPA - This is their most famous beer, and I know why. It's the best IPA I've ever drank. For someone who isn't a huge hophead, but still likes some bitters to your beers, this is perfect. It's mellow, yet forceful. It's just the right mixture of hops (for me), and leaves a very pleasent aftertaste. Can I say it's sumptuous? 5 mugs.

Now, Mike, please leave my little dog alone. She doesn't even like beer!

08 September 2007

More events for your Beer Calendar

Dedicated HBG reader Rodney recently sent us an email to point out a few beer related events coming up in Indy:

The folks at Hot Shotz are doing a beer dinner with 4 tapas style courses and 8 beers for $45 on Saturday, Sept. 15.

Mike DeWeese (Badaboomz) is having a beer dinner with 4 courses and 6 beer samples for $35 on the imaginary date of Saturday, Sept. 16 (I'm going to guess he meant 15th).

The Humane Society is doing a beer related event at Agio to raise money for.. well.. themselves. It's from 5-8 on Sept. 27 and is $50 ($75 day of). There is more info here.

Thanks for the info Rodney - we're glad to pass it on.

07 September 2007

Reminder: HBG at Big Car tonight

In case you've somehow missed the ad to the left, we'd just like to remind you that Hoosier Beer Geek, in association with World Class Beverages, is hosting a free beer tasting at the First Friday event at Big Car this evening.

The First Friday event is titled "Who Knows, Micah?", and features the work of Anna Rae Landsman and Robyn Engel. The event runs from 6pm to 10pm. The beer tasting, which runs from 6pm to 9pm, will feature beers from Germany (Spaten, Paulaner, and Ayinger), as well as several from American craft breweries (Brooklyn, Harpoon, Flying Dog, and Bell's).

Along with the Oktoberfest beers, some pumpkin ales will also be sampled. These beers will be from American craft breweries such as Buffalo Bill's, New Holland, and Dogfish Head.

We at Hoosier Beer Geek are extremely excited for the opportunity to once again work with Big Car and World Class Beverages, and we hope to see you there.

05 September 2007

KOTBR #27 - Labor Day BBQ

It was Labor Day, we had some meat and a grill, so it only made sense to drink. Even though I originally suggested a BBQ, Chris was man enough to step up, host and cook the food for the event, thus saving us all from trichinosis, salmonella, beef tapeworm, hoof and mouth, and possibly myxomatosis.

As an added bonus, we got to watch the Muppet Show. Talk about childhood flashbacks... the opening theme put memories in my head so vivid that I was almost overwhelmed with the bittersweet memories of my lost childhood. Or maybe that was caused by the endless supply of beer Chris kept feeding us.

Bell's Batch 8000 - I suppose a beer that's 9% ABV isn't really the best way to start a night of drinking. Nevertheless we began the evening with Larry Bell's latest and greatest, a beer with a 95 rating on ratebeer - and of course I didn't like it all that much. 8000 is a wheat beer with a cloudy, pumpkin-colored appearance. In fact, pretty much everything we drank Monday had the exact same appearance, which was kind of weird. Anyway. Something about this beer reminded me of Brugge Beer's White, though I'd take the White over this. 8000 has a tight, tart-like mouthfeel and a flavor that sticks with you. The beer hits right on the front of the tongue and then leave you with not much else. I found it hard to get a read on this one, to be honest; but I know I wouldn't want more than one. 3.0 Mugs.

Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA - After starting with the 9.0 ABV 8000, we scaled it back a bit with this 7.2 ABV IPA from Bear Republic. This beer had the same pumpkin color as the Bell's, but with a lot of sediment and floaties. The Racer 5 has a sweet, hoppy nose, which is followed by a mouth-snappin' hoppy taste. I prefer my IPAs a little milder, with a little more malt backing. I know Chris really digs this one, but I'm the guy that hates everything. 3.0 Mugs.

Unibroue Seigneuriale - I'd pronounce that as "Senior Ale" - but if you know Unibroue, then you know that this isn't a beer for your grandpop. Another 7.2% ABV beer, this had the pumpkin color, a tiny bubbly head, and a tart, fruity Belgian-style nose - but there was something slightly off. Gina mentioned fermented apple, Jason agreed - I'd say that's the closest description I could come up with. The beer had an apple taste, but also a hint of caramel - caramel apple is probably a fair description. The other thing I noticed was that the beer had a very "flat" taste. Although I'm a fan of the caramel apple, I'm not so much a fan of Seigneuriale. Interesting, but not necessarily good. 2.5 Mugs.

Goose Island Demolition - Well, I like the bottle for this beer, but other than that I don't have a lot good to say about it. The bottle explained that the original Goose Island brewery was located in some sort of mini-mall that was being torn down, but through the magic of beer, the brewery stayed. This beer was created in tribute to those folks who stuck with the brewery through the demolition.

Look, that's great and all, but why does this beer taste like dirt? Earthly tones - I actually thought of green beans with my first drink. Then a bit of a sulfury taste, similar to what I got from Fat Tire. I guess this was 8% ABV... I dumped it in the sink. You can probably see where this review is going. 1.5 Mugs.

Bear Republic Big Bear Black Stout - Because we're gluttons and I can never pass up a stout - we also had a slight tasting of another Bear Republic offering. This beer had a dark, dark body (think Darth Vader), with heavy lacing. A deep Hershey's syrup nose was followed with a thick, chewy taste that found a fine middle ground between chocolate and smoked meat. 8.1% ABV. Small sample. This was good stuff. 4.0 Mugs.

04 September 2007

A Labor Day Libations review, but first a movie preview...

They only met once, but it changed their lives forever.

They were five total strangers, with nothing in common, meeting for the first time. A brain, a beauty, a jock, a rebel and a recluse.

Before the day was over, they broke the rules. Bared their souls. And touched each other in a way they never dreamed possible.

So take the phone off the hook, put on your pajamas, hop onto the couch, grab a box of tissues, not to mention a bottle of Midol, because if you watch this movie often enough, you will ovulate. I, of course, am speaking of...

The Breakfast Club, the Zima of 80's movies.

Don't agree with me? Read the movie poster again.

But I'm not here to talk about chick flicks. Labor Day has come and gone. Summer is over. And there is no better way to mark the occasion than to cook some meats over an open flame and chug down some cold brews. And that's exactly what I did on Monday with some of my fellow HBG Knights.

Let us begin with Bell's Batch 8000. This limited edition Witbier is about as good as Witbier's come, though Witbier is one of my least favorite varieties. Something about the combination of flavors like citrus, banana, clove, coriander, etc. just doesn't sit well with me. Kinda like eating potpourri. The Batch 8000 looks like a solid Witbier with a cloudy orange appearance. The smell was pleasant; a nice blend of banana and clove. Almost like banana nut bread. The taste was surprising. Initial hit of spices, including coriander. But the beer left a sugary sweet mouthfeel. Not unpleasant. I enjoyed this beer more than others in the same category. Maybe it is because I'm ready for all things fall. At 9% ABV, it has a bit more strength than most Witbiers. So be careful. 3.5 mugs.

Next up, Bear Republic's Racer 5. Not yet available in Indiana, this IPA came courtesy of Chris and myself. We picked up eight 750 mL bottles in Chicago during a recent road trip. And we felt the need to share with the others. I've been enjoying IPA's a lot over the last 6 or 9 months and this is a good one to share with others who are not hop heads. In smell and in taste, you find hops all over the place, but not with the bitterness that you'd expect. It has a hint of citrus, but I think the hops flavor comes out more. This is an easy drinking beer, and a good place for non-IPA drinkers to start. It is not my favorite IPA. But it is very good. And the best beer of the night. 4.5 mugs.

Unibroue's La Seigneuriale. I have no idea how to even begin pronouncing it. This is another beer from the Chicago road trip. It is another in a long line of Belgian style beers from this Canadian brewer. Let me begin with a story first. My wife's grandfather is a farmer man in northern Indiana. Every fall, he enters the best of his harvest in the fall fair and comes home with many, many blue ribbons. He also has a home made cider press (as in the press is home made) that makes home made cider. Best apple cider in the world. After he is done making cider, he takes the apple remains and piles them around a tree to decompose. Bees always swarm to it. The best way to describe the smell: the beautiful, sweet aroma of decomposition. That is also how I will describe La Seigneuriale. It has been my favorite Unibroue beer to date. It is not a beer that I would regularly drink, but it is one that fascinates me. 3.5 mugs.

The last beer of the night was Goose Island's Demolition Ale. Let me say that after drinking this beer, I figured that my taste buds were shot. Because I found the beer to be lacking in taste and aroma. A quick look at Beer Advocate and I quickly discover that I'm not alone. One reviewer wrote how he is a big fan of GI but was very disappointed by this beer. But others at BA wrote about how much they liked it. So I'm going to be responsible and say that I am withholding my review until I can conduct another review. I will review it on another day.

Hoosier Beer Geek needs your help

Be sure to vote in the Breakfast Club poll on the right side of the page - your vote will help settle an ongoing HBG argument.


A letter to Mat Gerdenich, Cavalier Distributing

Dear Mat,

Last evening, while enjoying a selection of beers from a selection of breweries, the conversation turned to Cavalier, and your selection of beers.

Unlike World Class, your company doesn't seem to have a web site. There's nothing wrong with that; it's just that we tend to do most of our "business" on the web. We'd like to know more about Cavalier - we're only about drinking and promoting beer here - and we don't know where to turn.

Can you help us out, Mat? Can you or someone else from Cavalier meet us out for a beer? Leave a comment, send an email... we'd love to hear from you.


The Hoosier Beer Geeks

The Hoosier Beer Geek 6 Pack - Chris Cochran, Marketing Director for Stone Brewing Co.

We're attempting to start a new feature where we run six (hopefully) quick questions by the folks behind the scenes at breweries to get a little more insight into what they do and like and how they got their start. We'd like to thank our second guest, Chris Cochran from Stone Brewing Co.

1) Who are you and where do you work?

- Chris Cochran, Marketing Director for Stone Brewing Co.

2) What inspired you to start brewing beer? How did you get your start?

- A friend in college brewed beer, and that got me into “good” beer, which was not very wide spread in the early-mid 80’s. I became the guy that would always bring his own beer to parties, and things just continued from there.

3) What's your brewing mission? What are you trying to accomplish with your beer?

- Stone’s mission is to “Be Amazing!” And I am not sure if we are trying to accomplish anything besides making great beer for people seeking great beer. I guess you could say we are trying to educate people’s palates as to what beer can and should taste like.

4) Was there a beer that you benchmarked your own against? How did you know your beer was good enough to take to the general public?

- I guess at the starting time of Stone, we looked at Sierra Nevada Pale Ale for something to “loosely” model the Stone Pale Ale on...sorta...

5) What beer are you proudest of? Which of your beers is your personal favorite? Why?

- Come on, who could not be proud of Arrogant Bastard Ale?! My personal favorite is our Stone IPA.

6) Which beers outside of your own do you enjoy? What beer do you wish you came up with? Why?

- I enjoy all kinds of beers, and it depends on the occasion. We have 32 on tap in the Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens, along with close to a 100 bottled beers, so it is hard to say. I have always been really fond of Three Floyds Gumball Head Wheat Beer...just amazing.

02 September 2007

Indianapolis added to beermapping.com

Back on August 3rd when I interviewed Jonathan Surratt from beermapping.com, he and his fellow beermappers had not yet finished the Indianapolis beermapping city map. Well, they have now (though I notice that Parti-Pak hasn't made the map yet). Check it out here. It's a little sparse currently, but you've gotta start somewhere.

Belgian beer knights

Looks like we're not the only knights who love beer. Okay, so we're not "official" knights, but it turns out that there is an official knighthood pertaining to beer. That knighthood is conferred by Belgium, and it is called the Chevalerie du Fourquet des Brasseurs (in English, the Knighthood of the Brewers' Mashstaff). It is conferred to those who promote the traditions and nobility of the Belgian brewers' trade

NPR had this segment on yesterday's Morning Edition about Bill Catron, beer sommelier at Washington D.C.'s Brasserie Beck, who is the latest American to become a Knight of the Brewers' Mashstaff.

I wonder if there's a way to start a write-in campaign for Ted Miller of Brugge Brasserie.

01 September 2007

Beer Diary - Mike

Before I get to the beer, another list of five. In this case, five favorite all time footballers. I've lost your attention already.

Brian McBride - A St. Louis University grad. I spent many a high school evening over in St. Louis watching McBride and Mike Sorber play their college ball on an astroturf field on the campus of SLU. They both ended up on the US National Team, and McBride currently earns a living playing in London for Fulham, my favorite club team.
Marco Van Basten - A Dutch forward who I knew through the many Eurosport Soccer catalogs that made their way to my door as a teenager. I finally managed to watch him play in the 1990 World Cup. Van Basten is the reason I wore the number 9.
Wayne Rooney - A full-tilt, massively skillful caveman of a footballer. I enjoy watching him cuss at referees as much as I enjoy watching him barrel through defenders.
David Beckham - Earns massive respect from Jim and myself for his genuine effort to grow soccer in America. A real class act. A well paid class act, but still.
Medhi Ballouchy - Depending on who you ask, Ballouchy might be one of the worst midfielders in Major League Soccer. But he's my guy anyway. A slick possession midfielder who can't shoot to save his life.

I now return you to your regular scheduled beer diary.

23 August 2007 Location: Deano's Vino

Xingu Black Beer - A dark black beer that no light passes through. Sweet, licorice nose leads to a grapey licorice taste. Light, smooth, and tasty, but this is a one beer kind of beer.

24 August 2007 Location: Home

Hitachino Nest White Ale - Jamey and Liddie recommended Hitachino at our one-year anniversary, and they tried to make sure I chose the right variety from this Japanese brewery. Unfortunately my notes weren't clear enough, so I made a guess. The white ale had a sweet, floral and almost soapy nose - I think it reminded me of the bars of soap my Grandma had in her bathtub when I was a kid. The beer had orange juice like appearance, with a bit of lacing on the glass. An orangey front fades to a mild, smooth and watery taste. This one might call for an orange slice to open it up a bit. Not bad, but nothing there worth really noting for me. I probably need to try a different beer from the brewery; the white ale seemed to be the lesser-selling Hitachino at The Hop Shop.

26 August 2007 Location: Shallos

Sierra Nevada Anniversary Ale (2007) - A golden/orange color, clear with heavy lacing. A hoppy with sour note nose. A bitter, hoppy front gives was to a center of the tongue hoppy sting and then a watery fade. Not a very full flavor. Kind of one-note and forgettable.

Bells Octoberfest - A sour apple nose with malty notes, and a copper/golden transparent color with no lacing. This beer looks very flat in the glass, more so than I've ever noticed in a beer before. Malt and apple come through in the taste - which fades to a watery sort of blah. There's a commercial for Watson's on the TV here and I've just noticed how much the Watson's girl looks like David Lee Roth when you aren't paying too much attention. Just me? I wonder which one of them wears more makeup.

29 August 2007 Location: Home

Delirium Nocturnum - A last of the uncharted Delirium territory for me. A thick, pillowy head (I can't overstate that) with what appears to be tiny, chocolate-like shavings sits on top a chocolate colored beer with a ton of sediment in the glass. A sweet alcohol nose with an alkaline taste. The beer opens up and reminds me of tremens a bit, but I can't figure out why. Spicy and metallic - not a favorite. Reminds me a bit of Unibroue 16. As an added note, I wrote "Have you tried toasted ravioli?"

30 August 2007 Location: Home

Barrelhouse Boss Cox Double Dark IPA - Thin, bubbly head over a transparent red body. Mild, slightly hoppy nose, tempered with a malty back. A very mild hop taste - well balanced. Reminds me a bit of Dogfish 90 minute, but not quite as smooth. Pretty good anyway.

31 August 2007 Location: Badaboomz

Three Floyd's Alpha King - Orange color, little head. Hoppy, and sort of tart. Drank in tribute to Jeffery T. I dig it.

Goose Island Matilda - Drank in tribute to GBS's Vicki, who mentioned it on our visit. Really clear, served in a goblet. Thin lacing and a spicy sweet Belgian nose. My first thought was "I should enjoy this." But in drinking, not so sure. Smooth, but missing that Belgian punch in the back. This is sort of like Belgian Light.

Vintage Beer Sampler - This is one of the reasons Badaboomz is a great place on Fridays - you never really know what you're going to get from Mike's beer storage, but you're almost certain to get something great.

Sam Adams Chocolate Bock (a 2003 vintage, I think) - A dark brown/reddish color, with the typical thick stout-like head. A sweet full on chocolate nose. Poured from a really nice, classic looking bottle. Wow. Really mild, smooth chocolate taste, almost like a chocolate milk, but without the milky creaminess and lacing. A+, awesome stuff.

EKU 28 - 11% ABV, and noticeable immediately. Redish color, no lacing. A tight, sharp nose... Woo - straight up alcohol punch. Salty, with a flavor that climbs right up the nostrils. I didn't finish the glass.

King and Barnes Christmas Ale (1999 vintage) - A sweet pleasant nose with a salty, middle of the tongue taste. There's a bit of candy cane in there. Tastes like Christmas. Leads to the comment "I've had Jesus, and he doesn't taste like this."

1 September 2007 Location: Home

Founder's Blushing Monk - In my previous beer diary I mentioned my fondess for Founder's Rubaeus; when I mentioned the same on the Good Beer Show I was asked if I had tried the Blushing Monk. They are very similar beers - so much that I wonder why they're making both. The Blushing Monk has the same great raspberry taste, but the alchol is a little more prevalent. Both are sort of creamy and smooth and really enjoyable. I think the Rubaeus may be a little more drinkable (the ABV number is quite a bit lower), and it's certainly more affordable. If you like one, you'll like the other. Worth drinking to make the comparison; I only wish I had both at the house currently.