Category Archives: Drink This Beer

Brewers Being Bros: Stone Pale Ale

Stone Brewing Company makes some solid, tasty brews, but you probably already knew that. I’ve always been a fan of Arrogant Bastard and I’ve recently come to like Go To IPA, but their flagship beer had long been the Pale Ale.

Much to my surprise, Stone announced that they intended to discontinue their Pale Ale and replace it with Pale Ale 2.0. Uproar, or maybe some mild message board chatter, followed.

So what did the amazingly-cool Stone decide to do for the Pale Ale fans that would be missing their favorite beer? They published the entire recipe for the world to use, scaled back to five gallon batches. This wasn’t some half-assed recipe – they included the exact blend of hops and yeast and malt down to the hundredths of an ounce. Simply one of the coolest moves by any brewery ever.

With that background, I grabbed a sixer of the original Pale Ale and toasted to discontinuation.

Stone Pale Ale - Soon to be a rare sight

Stone Pale Ale – Soon to be a rare sight

Great smell, smooth pour that doesn’t leave a big head. Love the aroma of the malt and hops. Gorgeous color, though the formica backsplash belies the actual beer color. Idiot photographer…

Stone Pale Ale in a glass stein, with my formica countertop and wainscoting kitchen wall.

Stone Pale Ale in a glass stein, with my formica countertop and wainscoting kitchen wall.

As my beer sampling journey has progressed from PBR to knowing one style from another, I’ve become less of a hop head. This beer is right below the “too hoppy” threshold that would keep me from buying it again. Good hop flavor – the word here is balance. Quite smooth and not too bitter.

Not a session beer at 5.4 ABV but you aren’t getting ripped on these either of you are drinking them to enjoy them. I’m sad to see this beer go and also a little bummed that I discovered it late.

Definitely Drink This Beer while you can, but if you can’t… go support Stone by buying another one of their beers. Not every brewer would do a solid for their fan base by itemizing their beer recipe online, so give them a little love at the checkout line next time you’re looking for a couple sixers. Maybe make one a Stone.

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Instant Beer Review: Schlafly Hop Trial UK Phoenix

Lenten beer battered cod fish sandwich with my father means sampling a beer you can only get on site at the Schlafly Bottleworks.

Lunchtime beer

Lunchtime beer

At 45 IBUs, this beer has nice restrained hop profile. The waiter said it had a floral finish, but I though it was nutty… borderline peanut buttery. Just delicious and refreshing.

Important details, neatly presented

Important details, neatly presented

Crisp, tasty, highly enjoyable. Drink This Beer, if you get the chance.

UPDATE

A friend who has a respectable beer palate said the following: Phoenix Hop Trial = 5/10. Too convoluted. Tastes like the leftovers of several other types of beers.

So take that for what it’s worth. Beer is subjective.

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Texas Beer Review: Real Ale Brewing Company

No longer just the state of origin for “steers and queers”, Texas has been producing some quality craft beers. These beers, boastfully mailed to me gratis by my college friend and fraternity brother Andy, are mine for the sampling and reviewing. Today’s burden: Real Ale Brewing Company.

Remember these?

Remember these?

Among my bounty were two Real Ale beers: 15th Anniversary Russian Imperial Stout and Brewer’s Cut Imperial Red Ale.

15th Anniversary Russian Imperial Stout

After opening and while pouring the beer, I get strong malted chocolate aromas. It’s a particularly smooth pour that requires aggressive down-the-center pouring to get any head. The head, once acquired, is dense and firm like a well-made root beer float. I’m excited to sample.

If this is what they drink in Russia, can really be so bad?

If this is what they drink in Russia, can really be so bad?

The color is unmistakeably black, but not black and fizzy like a Guiness stout. This is a traps-all-light stout. A black hole that bends space time, and hopefully my BAC.

Like the aroma, it has a strong roast flavor with a mellow cocoa finish. It’s got a subtle smokiness that adds another layer of flavor. You take a big drink and enjoy it… then wait a little while for another one. A solidly delicious stout with an impressive 9.8 ABV. Take your time and savor the flavors and experience here. Damn good beer.

Brewer’s Cut Imperial Red Ale

Imperial this, Imperial that. What’s going on here?

My bias against red ales meets yet another obstacle – a really good red ale from a keen craft brewer.

Hard to hate on a really good beer

Hard to hate on a really good beer

Since I drank this one after knocking back it’s 9.8% ABV brother, it probably tasted extra yummy.

Nice amber color with strong reddish hues, typical ale head and aroma but without any noticeable hop aroma. I smelled the bottle after opening, and then the beer in the glass once poured and struggled to get any bitter hop notes. But, yes, after taking some sips you do get the elusive hop flavors. It’s particularly palpable in the post-swallow aftertaste and tongue sensation. A smooth drinking experience, the beer gives a typical red ale flavor (a good one… not the ones I dislike) and finishes with a more-than-subtle hop profile.

Good balance of flavors and bitterness, despite the lack of floweriness or fruitiness in the hops. I sense knowing restraint in the hands of the brewmaster with this beer. Hop flavors tempered by malt. Yet another good beer from this brewery. I wish Andy had sent me more of these. Instead, I will have to seek out this brewer at my local beer shop.

Two solid beers that I didn’t pay for? Damn straight. Recommendation for Real Ale Brewing Company: Drink These Beers

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Drink This Beer (At Your Own Peril): Big Hurt Beer

Having grown up a fan of baseball in the 80s/90s, I know Frank Thomas a/k/a The Big Hurt. Who knew he got into beer?

Yummy yum yum (tries not to puke) Boy, you should buy this swill, I mean, malt liquor [GNU Licensed – Source : Wikipedia; User: Drdisque]

Every year in the long time fantasy football league, the people at the live draft can earn “Bad Beers”. The list of offenses is long and offensive, but any number of crimes can earn you a Bad Beer. Here’s the general list:

a. Draft 1st kicker
b. Draft 1st defense/special teams
c. Keep kicker
d. Keep defense/special teams
e. Draft/keep player on IR
f. Attempt to draft player already kept
g. Attempt to draft player already taken in draft
h. Ask if a particular player is available
i. Attempt to draft out of turn
j. Draft/keep player not on NFL team
k. Draft/keep player who is in jail or otherwise incarcerated
l. Draft/keep player who doesn’t have a draft board sticker (when draft board is used)
m. Draft first rookie

These penalty beers are easy enough to earn, and need to be downed ASAP once obtained. Past Bad Beers have been room temperature Miller High Life, Busch Ice, and Keystone Ice (barf). The host this year was feeling both creative and local (he’s in suburban Joliet), so the penalty is Big Hurt Beer.

Apparently every box has some kind of damage

Apparently every box has some kind of damage

Oh no. Bad things inside.

Oh no. Bad things inside.

Big Hurt, as in your stomach sensation after drinking one.

Let’s survey the on-hand members of the fantasy football league, each of whom earned a luke-warm Bad Beer for a draft offense…

Sean: Tastes like ball sweat. No beer should smell like cotton candy.

Josh: If I was in a desert dying of thirst… still wouldn’t drink Big Hurt.

Tony: Mix of bubblegum and testicle sweat. That pretty much describes it.

Jon: Smells like raccoon vomit. Tastes like cotton candy dipped in depression. It’s like desperation, like I’ll never get a job. I’d rather drink Blatz.

Chris D: Bubblegum and assholes.

I’m concerned that I have two friends who know what ball sweat tastes like, and that was all taken verbatim.

Topps '92, #555

Topps ’92, #555

This blog is concerned with the truth, not the drunk ramblings of bitter fantasy football drafters who made a series of unfortunate picks. I’m going to try and be objective here. A few were refrigerated to optimize tongue numbing. I’ll even pour it into a proper glass.

Horrible

Horrible

Really, seriously, this is probably the worst beer I’ve ever had in my life. The smell is sugary and vile. It’s been (shockingly!) very poorly reviewed.

The sip isn’t metallic so much as acrid. It’s like a sore suddenly festered on my tongue and spread through the mouth. A heinous beer at best, and that’s a kind way to put it.

My spine literally contorted with a shiver as I convulsed at the repugnance of this beer. People drink this? People pay money for this? There’s better ways to spend your pennies to get a 7% ABV buzz. Like chugging wood alcohol or perhaps some antifreeze?

The beer is clearer than Bud Light without actually being water, if such an atrocity was possibly. Zero effervescence, and that’s with an aggressive pour. Imagine buying a $5 bag of expired Chinese licorice on clearance at the dollar store in the irregulars bin and then leaving it out in the sun in a bog for a week…, that’s the smell. It tastes like bad medicine. Even an hour after pouring the beer smells so offensively fruity.

To give you a full idea of my impression of the beer, here is a little montage of a sampling:

I'm ashamed to be wearing a Bell's hat in these pictures

I’m ashamed to be wearing a Bell’s hat in these pictures

Bad unpleasantness. If you’re a desperate hobo, pass on this crap. I’ve had a lot of beers where I’ve said, “Wow this beer really sucks,” but this is honestly the worst beer I’ve ever had in my life. This makes Lobster Lovers Beer look like Westy XII.

You ever sprayed your kids with a high DEET bug spray? That’s the smell of Frank Thomas’ beer.

Pestilence in a can. Under no conditions, and I mean famine drought starvation dehydration should you Drink This Beer. In fact, Don’t Drink This Beer.

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Instant Beer Review: Keweenaw Brewing Company

On picture says it all for these local Michigan beers from Keweenaw Brewing Company.

20130730-153924.jpg

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Brewery Tour: Bell’s Brewery, Inc. – Kalamazoo, Michigan

Family vacation. Time spent on the beach, enjoying the company of your children and siblings, reliving childhood memories, visiting famous epic craft breweries. What? You don’t do that last one? Well, I did. Today I trekked about an hour or so east on Interstate 94 to visit Bell’s Brewery in Kalamazoo, MI. What a trip it was.

An unassuming entrance to the wonders it holds

An unassuming entrance to the wonders it holds

On a damp, drizzly day in southwest Michigan. while the lake offered only treacherous waves and undertows, and whilst my wife and children were off picking pounds and pounds of blueberries , I rounded up my father, brother, and sundry others for a trip to one of my favorite breweries.

The many coming events

The many coming events

Adjacent to the original brewery is the Eccentric Cafe, where we ordered our flights of beer and lunch before the 1:30pm Sunday tour.

Beer flights are my friend. Bell’s gives you a piece of paper and you can write down any six beers you like. None of this rigid beer flight menu nonsense – this is a true a la carte beer selection. Nice.

Six little brewskies

Six little brewskies

My choices were many. I selected, from left-to-right: Third Coast, Round House IRA, Quinannan Falls, Smoked Stout, Larry’s Latest Pale Trial #1, Midwest Pale Ale.

Hard to go wrong

Hard to go wrong

You’ll find these six beers to be amazingly awesome. How good were they?

Third Coast Beer

You can find this locally, at least that’s the case in St. Louis area grocery stores. It’s light and crisp with a nice hoppy note. There’s a barely cloudy and yellow body, with a fresh and enjoyable flavor and texture. If you’re out on a hot day, this is a great beer. Unfortunately it’s about 60, cloudy, and drizzly in late July. What kind of weirdo part of the country is this?

Roundhouse IRA

Two drunks at the bar said that this was the best Bell’s beer ever, and the bartender agreed. IRA stands for Indian Red Ale. Basically this is a thoroughly hopped red ale, and I have to agree that this is quite the beer to behold. Malty, caramely, with a nice hop and spice finish. Smooth, excellent body with a mellow aftertaste. I could (and did) drink this all day. There’s a rich dark red color and a wondrous (rye?) aroma. I have to agree that this was a splendid beer, unlike anything I’ve had before.

Quinannan Falls

Officially called the Quinannan Falls Special Lager Beer, this beer presented mild hops and a light color. The aroma was neither fruity or flowery. Really this is a light hoppy one note beer, although crisp and fresh. Nothing noteworthy and probably not something I’d get again, though a solid effort.

Smoked Stout

I like smoked beers and I like stouts, so I thought this would be a good choice for my flight. It was dark and definitely smokey without being meaty or baconish (like the O’Fallon Smoked Porter, for example). Super smooth with mild richness and nonexistent effervescence. I was pleasantly surprised to find a lack of overpowering aftertaste. This is a nice novelty beer, but the one beer flight sample was sufficient. I did sip on my brother’s cream stout, which I actually prefer over the smoked stout.

Larry’s Latest Pale: Trial #1

I guess Larry Bell regularly experiments and this beer is one of his latest trials. Well done, Larry. This pale ale was amber and translucent, with nice pale ale flavors, lighter and smoother than other similar style pale ales (like Schlafly’s). Lighter doesn’t necessarily mean better, because this is a great beer. Despite being a little flat, I got great grain flavors that were stronger than the hops profile, without much of an aroma. Imagine a mild yet traditional English-y style ale. That’s this beer – I really enjoyed it.

Midwest Pale Ale

Another beer you can probably buy locally, this was lighter in color than the Larry trial beer. With a subtle hop flavor, I got a nice light beer taste without being a light beer. This is a great hot day beer… which, again, is a shame since it’s so chill today.

Six great beers. Let’s soak in the ambiance and sip.

I love the breweries that reclaim old buildings

I love the breweries that reclaim old buildings

I violated a cardinal rule of restaurants. Usually, if there’s a Cuban sandwich on the menu, I order the Cuban sandwich. I also passed on the brisket platter. I was in the mood for something lighter, so I stuck with the turkey avocado sandwich on wheat with a side of salt and pepper chips. Save room for beers.

Turkey sandwich

Turkey sandwich

Lunch won’t overpower any beer, and it was pretty good, even if the turkey was a little dry. They used a creamy potato salad style mayo on the bread, which was a nice touch. The pickle was some kind of super tart dill – a damn good pickle.

I came across some light reading on the way to the restroom. This is important journalism, people:

News you can use

News you can use

Apparently I missed some kind of amazing party last night:

7/27... what?!

7/27… what?!

Those beers in my belly, it’s time for the beer tour. We can bring beer in a plastic cup… no glass. How about another IRA?

Beer in hand. Ready to learn.

Beer in hand. Ready to learn.

The beer tour was hipster-heavy that day, my friends. Me and the other Simpsons, and a bunch of hipster people. Awful hats and beards and tight jeans and girls who look like a depressed Lisa Loeb.

Of course the first question on the tour, hosted by the knowledgeable and diligent Kenny, came from my father. Bell’s uses Kalamazoo municipal city water, though they filter out the chlorine and iron. Dad’s had a beer flight and more, so why not ask Kenny what the pH of the water is after filtration? Kenny doesn’t know. Raise your hand during the brewery tour? That’s a paddlin’.

Paddlin' the Bell's canoe? You better believe that's a paddlin'.

Paddlin’ the Bell’s canoe? You better believe that’s a paddlin’.

Most of the people on the beer tour had a beer in hand, not including my preggers sister. Always bring a DD on your beer tour, even if it means a hyper-pregnant sister.

I took some needlessly detailed photos of hops and hop pellets.

Hops!

Hops!

Hops again!

Hops again!

Rabbit food! No wait... hops pellets!

Rabbit food! No wait… hops pellets!

My brother, Officer Stinkypants, wanted his photo in front of a big metal barrel. Done.

Represent the 'Lou in MI

Represent the ‘Lou in MI

Kenny the tour guy explained the whole beer process… I wasn’t really listening. The mash tun (pictured above) is where the malt mash, which is hot water and grain, turns into sugar. That is then mixed with hops and yeast, which ferments somewhere else to provide acid, flavor, and alcohol. Beer is made. Boom.

While I was taking this picture and Kenny was talking, Dad dropped his empty plastic cup onto the echoing concrete floor. Cut that man off.

Barrels full of sundry beer

Barrels full of sundry beer

I even posed for a quick photo.

Beer in hand; Beer behind

Beer in hand; Beer behind

I admired the many knobs and tubes and doodads that the brewers used.

Thingamajiggers

Thingamajiggers

We noticed the old tymey sign outside that belied the modern operation indoors.

A bare marquee

A bare marquee

Just look at all the special craft beers they make here!

So hard not to turn a nozzle with my mouth underneath

So hard not to turn a nozzle with my mouth underneath

Kenny told us that many beers were made at the Kalamazoo location that were only available at the attached cafe. Most of the nationally-available beers are actually brewed 10 miles away in Comstock, Michigan. The specialty craft beers are made here in this room. Yum.

All their beers are non-pasteurized and unfiltered.

Speaking of specialty beer…

Now that's a big assed barrel

Now that’s a big assed barrel

Kenny told us that these monstrous barrels were Cabernet Sauvignon barrels from California that will ferment beer through 2014, and they aren’t sure what they are going to get out of these! The small barrels only age for six months, but I’m sure the contents will be amazing. It took quite a bit for me to restrain myself from causing a distraction so my brother could heist a barrel.

Of course, while we are ready to go… Dad is chatting up poor old Kenny.

Yak yak yak yak

Yak yak yak yak

On the way out the door, we snapped some pictures of the sample grain and hops that were passed around on the tour. Gratuitous over-sharing, people. I can’t help it.

Important ingredients

Important ingredients

So many beers from which to choose. It’s difficult to restrain myself.

The plethora of beers available to us

The plethora of beers available to us

On the way out, we hit the gift shop. I bought a skull cap, t-shirt, and trucker hat. And four six packs of beer.

What an amazingly successful vacation trip. I thank my wonderful wife for taking my children for a few hours so we could venture out to the beer capital of southwest Michigan. Well worth the hour drive each way, ideally the first of many brewery tours. Such is my burden – try and sample so many beers.

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Postcard From Michigan: Drink These Beers

Greetings from the extended Simpson family vacation in southwest Michigan. More specifically, the bucolic town of Union Pier, which is barely in Michigan from Indiana, just off of Interstate 94. We visited the local (relative) boomtown of New Buffalo to get some amazing ice cream and, of course, beer provisions. The local beer scene here is robust.

Local beers, a plus of family vacation

Local beers, a plus of family vacation

Yes, only three of these four beers is from Michigan. The third is from Wisconsin, which is basically Michigan if you’re from Missouri. Whatever… I’ve never seen any of them.

Saugatuck Brewing Company – Saugatuck Oval Beach Blonde Ale

About an hour north of here, Saugatuck Brewing Co. is in or near Douglas, Michigan. Apparently I bought their best-seller, the Oval Beach Blonde Ale.

What beer doesn't go well with frying bacon?

What beer doesn’t go well with frying bacon?

What a great beer! Crisp wheat ale flavors. (I originally typed wheat ale flames, so I was clearly several local beers in when taking notes… the perils of my duties.) There’s a subtle sweet finish. The beer is cloudly and fully of body. Great for a hot day, or an unseasonably cool late July day apparently. You pick up a modest fruit aroma that doesn’t really make it into the flavor of the beer.

Berghoff Brewery – Dortwunder

I guess Michigan and Wisconsin aren’t the same thing? Northernish states that get too damn cold in the winter, one on either side of Chicago.

Although it’s been around for 120+ years, I’ve never heard of Berghoff Brewery out of Stevens Point, WI. Their contact page says it’s a Chicago-based beer, and the brewery history lists a long lineage of ownership and locale changes. So, although it’s not a Michigan beer.

The confusing brewery history aside, I had never seen the Dortmunder before when I bought it.

Who doesn't love German-style lagers?

Who doesn’t love German-style lagers?

Smooth mellow beer with a wonderful balance of malts. The malts seem lightly toasted and provide the right German beer richness. Worth seeking out again, perhaps in STL.

Shorts Brewing Company – Huma-Lupa-Licious

Bellaire, Michigan, though not the TV home of one Fresh Prince, instead houses Short’s Brewing Company and their hoppy Huma-Lupa-Licious beer.

A proper IPA, served in a clear plastic solo cup

A proper IPA, served in a clear plastic solo cup

Nothing says vacation house like beer in a plastic cup. Nothing says IPA like having a gigantic hop on your label.

As expected, this was quite hoppy and bitter, but not overpowering. There’s a light fruit flavor and mild body, and it smells more flowery than fruity. Great orange / amber cloudiness, with essentially nonexistent effervescence. I’m no hop-head, but this is another good Michigan brew.

Round Barn Brewery – Kolsch

I’ve had some beers from wineries, and they can be amazing. Round Barn Winery in Baroda, Michigan is another winery that makes some good beers. (There’s a tasting house in Union Pier, apparently… perhaps I’ll be visiting.) How is their Kolsch?

I'm picking up on some kind of German theme here

I’m picking up on some kind of German theme here

For a Kolsch beer, this is quite malty, giving me a somewhat surprising flavor profile. Tasty, but a little surprising. Lots of Kolsch-style beers are lighter and crisper, but I enjoyed Red Barn’s. Dark for a Kolsch, with a minimal effervescence. It had many of the typical German ale aromas and flavors. Instead of something unique and poignant, it is just a good German-style ale. Not quite what I was looking for, but a tasty treat nonetheless.

Future Local Beer Plans:

So, having barely scratched the surface of Michigan beers, I have more work to do. I see a Bell’s Brewery tour and tasting in my future. I’m going to check in on this Round Barn tasting room in Union Pier. Shore Line Brewery is on the way back home, as is the Journeyman Distillery. Basically I have a lot of sights to see while I’m up here.

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Drink This Beer, WTF Edition: Banana Bread Beer

Yet another strange brew from the Friar Tuck’s new beer section: Wells Banana Bread Beer

I love banana bread. Seeing three to four severely brown, overripe bananas on the kitchen counter doesn’t just mean fruit flies – it means it’s time to make banana bread (I prefer the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook recipe from scratch). I also love beer, so how could I not buy a banana bread beer?

What. The. Hell.

What. The. Hell.

You probably didn’t need me to tell you this to know it, but this is one of the oddest beers I’ve ever tasted. Wells & Young’s Brewing Co. understatedly calls it a “unique brew”. Really? Tell me more.

The aroma is a 100% banana smell, but not banana bread or even a ripe banana. I was baffled by this beer but my wife nailed it – it tastes like banana flavored Runts. Banana candy. Whatever they put in banana Runts or Laffy Taffy, that’s the smell and taste of this beer. So strange.

The one on the left, Officer. That’s the one. (GNU Licensed; Source: Wikipedia user TheHYPO)

Beer reviews are mixed. I see this as more of a novelty than something I’d ever buy again. Just a modest 5.2% ABV.

Pouring the beer, more banana candy aroma. The taste is minimally malty, but enough that you get some of the “bread” flavors you might expect. But still the candy banana flavor dominates.

Color... typical. Aroma... atypical.

Color… typical. Aroma… atypical.

If you made beer bread with banana bread beer and added bananas… what would happen? Banana bread beer banana bread…

I don’t dislike this beer, and it’s certainly interesting. Would I ever buy it again? Meh… debatable. I mean, I love banana candy. I always went for the candy no one else liked because it meant more candy for me. Grape Jolly Ranchers, uber-cheapo peanut butter chews, candy-coated black licorice, banana taffy… I’m cool with all that stuff. My palate is very accepting, but I’m not sure this is the ideal early summer beer. Maybe if it’s cold and I’m by a firepit in my yard and something fruity/malty is in order, then perhaps this is a repeat buy.

If you want to try something new and you like bananas (the sweet candy-ish bananas), then you should probably: Drink This Beer

(Otherwise… probably not something that’s worth the money.)

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Texas Beer Review: Lakewood Brewing Company

Have you got any friends? I’m sure you hang with the neighbor to watch some NFL game, or you play a little poker with the dude in the parish, or perhaps you get a beer after work at happy hour with that jokester from marketing.

You do? Great. I don’t care. I’m talking about Real Friends.

Real Friends read your BBQ & Beer Blog and say, “Hey, I live in Texas and I think that Texas beers are under-represented on your blog (which I enjoy quite a bit). I’m mailing you a large custom sampler of Texas beers in a giant box at my own expense. All I ask in return is that you consume and review those beers.”

Do you have one of those friends? No? Well I do.

Are you loved? I am.

Are you loved? I am.

May sweet Jebus smile down upon you, Andy Axsom. I have known Andy for over 15 years, since we were both students at Rockhurst University in Kansas City, MO. We pledged the same fraternity and co-ran the chapter as president and vice president (he was good cop; I was incompetent cop).

I loved Andy, but was always a little bit concerned about him. He was a big dude who liked to eat fast food and drink beer (my kind of guy), but his metabolism was a little too flummoxed by his caloric intake. One day recently he woke up and realized that if he wanted to improve his way of life and live to be an old man, he was going to lose a shitload of weight through diet and exercise. He’s now a handsome man on is way to full fledged Adonis, and I’m goddamed proud of him.

He blogs about his weight loss and has been on television a few times. I blog about BBQ and beer, and if I’m ever on tv it will be a perp walk or me mooning the local weatherman on location at the pumpkin patch.

Andy moving from large to in charge
(Reposted without permission)

Out of deep respect for both Andy and the Republic of Texas, I’m duty-bound to thoughtfully consume these beers and discuss them in turn. Such is the burden of my hobby.

First in line are two beers from the Lakewood Brewing Company. Lakewood is based in Garland, Texas, which is apparently a part of the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolis. Never been there, but the reasons to visit Dallas just went up +1.

Two samples from Lakewood

Two samples from Lakewood

Andy blessed me with both the Hop Trapp and Temptress. The former is a Belgian-Style IPA (sounds interesting) and the latter is an Imperial Milk Stout (oh yes oh yes).

Pertinent beer information

Pertinent beer information

I’ll review them in turn.

Hop Trapp: Belgian Style IPA

Pouring this beer, I can’t find any fruitiness in the beer’s bouquet. No fruit aroma, just the distinct hop scent of an IPA. I love the color and cloudiness in the glass (the wrong glass… I know).

Lakewood IPA

Lakewood IPA

Only upon sipping this beer did I pick up some exceptionally faint fruit notes in the hops. I could not have told you that this beer was Belgian-inspired if I was blind. Based on taste and texture alone, this is a pure and straightforward IPA.

What I liked was the restrained aftertaste and nearly nonexistent effervescence – this is a very refreshing beer. The bitterness is well-controlled (or that’s what I wrote last night while drinking this and other beers), and I really enjoyed it. This is a great summer beer. Hot deck, bugs buzzing around you, pull this out of a cooler. Nice IPA.

The Temptress: Imperial Milk Stout

I’m a milk stout fan… that’s no secret. I like the smoke, the roast, the chocolate flavors. Let’s see if Lakewood’s stands up to my standards.

Lakewood Milk Stout

Lakewood Milk Stout

The color is great, the head is nice. I love the toasty smell as the glass comes up to my nose. The stout flavor is strong with a nice smoky toasty flavor. It’s smooth over the tongue and brought a surprising hoppiness to the palate. The ABV above 9% means this is another sippin’ beer. I really enjoyed it.

What I liked about these beers is that Lakewood took two straightforward concepts (IPA and Stout) and did them really well. Do I think the IPA was Belgian-inpired? Meh. Was the stout an imperial milk stout? Maybe. They were, though, above average beers for IPAs and stouts. Both were supremely drinkable and very enjoyable.

My recommendation for Lakewood Brewing Company’s Hop Trapp and Temptress: Drink These Beers

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Drink This Beer: 4 Hands Chocolate Milk Stout

What surprise awaited me at my in-laws’ in their garage fridge but an intriguing Big Beer that some careless brother-in-law had left behind. Behold the 4 Hands Chocolate Milk Stout.

MOO!

MOO!

As a lover of chocolate milk and beer I didn’t pay for, what was there to lose? Time to crack this bossie and pour.

Not my glassware

Not my glassware

The smell of the beer in the bottle is pure stout without much of a hint of chocolate. When poured into the rising body of the beer, I was met with a thick lustrous head. As the beer breathed, the head settled into a thicker-than-Guiness landscape of froth.

Looking at the beer, it’s 100% non-translucent. The rich dark color shows it’s brownness only at the edges of the curvature of the bottom of the beer glass. The aroma once poured has traveled from stout to chocolatey stout.

Drinking this beer, it’s kind of luxurious. There’s a definite chocolate finish, but it’s purely dark chocolate with zero sweetness. Rather than competing with it, the chocolate flavors complement the strong toasted malt stout flavors.

Texturally, I’m really wowed. There’s almost a true milky sensation of the beer rolling around in the back of my mouth, though it’s definitely a beer. At a mere 5.5%, I could easily handle the Big Beer.

Perfect pairing

Perfect pairing

Unfortunately the beer doesn’t suggest pairing with ice cream, except perhaps chocolate ice cream? Could this be the perfect ice cream float beer? (Unfortunately my in-laws had no ice cream but for some rainbow sherbert… that would have been disgusting.) I was between meals, so no beef either.

How about pairing it with a Cardinals shellacking of the Brewers?

Pow. Down goes Bernie!

Pow. Down goes Bernie!

Super smooth. Easy to drink. Great flavors that are well-balanced. Nice job.

My applause to the people at 4 Hands. They know what they’re doing in dessert beers for sure. I’m always looking for more local beers, and 4 Hands is on my radar going forward. My recommendation for this decadent dessert of a brew: Drink This Beer

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