Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Kronenbourg 1664

When I asked my wife if she wanted me to pop a Bordeaux on Bastille Day, she looked at me and told me I was nuts. "It's 95 degrees outsides!" she exclaimed. Then I told her we had a few 1664s in the fridge and she nodded a sign of approval. This is how we celebrated Bastille Day this year.

The Kronenbourg 1664 has been a staple in all of western Europe since just before WWII. I remember watching my dad drink this as a little boy. Every time I'd return home to France, one of the first things I'd do is go into a bistro, order a "Seize" (16). This is still one of my favorite 'green' beers. It's crisp, has a bold back-end that keeps going and is perfect for hot summer days. Compared to it's major competitors, that being, Heineken, Carlberg and Elephant, I'd drink absolutely drink this over those. Even though it's about 10 bones a 6 pack. Easily.
AP Rating: 91 points 7/14/15

Pfriem Family Brewery Blonde IPA

When my rep. gave me this bottle, I was a bit confused. I wasn't sure if he had made a mistake. It looked like something you'd find in Germany or Belgium. The bottle is of dark brown glass, a tall sloping neck, black and dark gold-leaf label with "Pfriem Family Brewery" on the front and a small label on the neck specifying it's type. In this case, "Blonde IPA".

My wife came home from a hard days work at the hospital today and asked for a cider. Considering we didn't have a cold one ready, I just figured the hop-head she is, wouldn't mind this. I poured it into two pint glasses and found a beautiful light golden color with light frothy head. The nose to this beer was of light hops. I didn't really expect much of anything, considering the last Blonde IPA I had was absolutely horrific (Rocky Coulee Brewing Co. See blog below). We sat down and dug right in. My, oh my!! What a great little unknown beer. The front of the palate was crisp and refreshing, give it 1 second to get to the back of the palate and that changes a bit. Here come the hops, but in a good way. The hops are intense and fresh. Not freshly-squeezed, but close enough. The finish is a dry-hopped finish. Like I said, not freshly-squeezed. I have other types of this brewery's beer and I'm already looking forward to tasting them. In the meantime, I do recommend this beer. Interesting change and refreshing for these hot summer days. AP Rating: 90 Pts. 7/15/2015

Monday, July 6, 2015

Ballast Point Sculpin Grapefruit

When it comes to beer, vodka, tequila, wine and other spirits, I'm a bit of a purist. I believe beer should be beer without chicory, honey, etc...I believe whiskey should be whiskey, not maple, or apple, or caramel, etc...There are way too many temporary spirit trends that it's killing the market. I don't want to drink a half cider / half beer, I don't wanna spend $70 on a bottle of crown with a strong taste of maple. So when I when I saw that Ballast Point BrewingCompany had a Sculpin Grapefruit ale, I immediately waved it off as a joke.

I love the Sculpin IPA. Probably one of the best citric IPAs out there. It strong IBUs and citric hops makes this a hophead's favorite. The Sculpin is a true citric IPA and everyone should at least try it if that's their type of beer. On-ward to the Sculpin Grapefruit...

Where I live in Eastern Washington, we have hot summers and bitterly cold winters. Right now, it's hot!! Hot, hot, hot!! Consistent 100+ degree days. Almost a months worth. I can either drink Bud Light Lime, Coors Light or Corona to feel like I'm cooling off with light beer. But today I decided to taste beer outside the box. Hence the Sculpin Grapefruit.

This beer has exactly the same characteristics as the regular Sculpin IPA, except that it has this super well balanced unoffensive grapefruit finish. Such a breath of fresh air. Totally satisfying!!! I like grapefruit and this nails that feeling of pairing grapefruit with beer. If you like grapefruit, you'll like this! If you like IPAs, you'll like this! If you like both, you'll love this!! AP Rating: 95 Pts. 6/30/15

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Abita Brewing Co. Turbodog

One of my absolute favorite american beers of all time. Not because it's simple and/or come from Lew-ziana, but because it's complex and pairs very well with local food as well as asian foods.

I discovered this beer by accident when I was working in the beer industry in New Jersey. At first I was hesitant and one day I tried a Pete's Wicked with chicory and loved it. So the Turbodog was next. 

A great dark lager with a slight amount of hoppiness protruding through nutmeg, chicory and coffee. Great Spicy food beer. A must try!! AP Rating: 93 points 6/23/2015

Sunday, June 21, 2015

WBLA Washington Brewers Fest - Redmond

Last week my wife told me she had made some plans for us over the weekend. I wasn't really sure what to think of, but all I wanted to do was take a Seattle trip since we hadn't been over for a bunch of weeks. I needed my civilization fix! Then she says, "Let's got to the Washington Brewers Fest at Marymoor!" I jumped at the thought, but I had never been and didn't really know what to expect. The only thoughts I had were from the past wine tastings that I've been able to go to. From Taste Washington, VinExpo, Washington DC Wine Tasting, Winebow Tastings in Times Square, etc...

This weekend we packed up the car with driving snacks, our geocaching bag (because that's what we do), the laptops and our bags. Off we went. Washington Brewers Fest here we come!

Nikki and I made out way from the parking log of  Marymoor to the entrance of the Brewers Fest. I was a bit taken-a-back by how well organized the entrance was. It was well marked off, colorful and inviting to it's future guests. From what I understood, they were expecting about 9,000 that day. Wow!!

Once we got in with our tasting glass and 10 tokens, Nikki and I made our way to the green tent first. We found several great beer including No-Li Brewhouse's Brass Monkey, Two Beers Brewing Trailhead, and Diamond Knot's Industrial IPA. What a great start! Our next stop was the orange tent where we found some easy drinking Hale's Cream Ale, Hilliard's Saison and the great Lazy Boy IPA. At the red tent we tried the Fremont Interurban and Summer Ale, Orlison had some awesome IPAs, Old Schoolhouse's RUUD and ESB were quite tasty too. Other memorable beers included Bale Breaker's Top Cutter, Schilling Cidery's Hard Cider, 6 Cider's Ginger Apple cider, Roslyn Brewing's lagers, Schooner EXACT, Scuttlebutt, Iron Horse's Irish Death, Silver City's ISL, but I do believe my favorite beer of the weekend was Pike Skagit Valley Alba. Stunning!!! They were all awesome!

This beer fest was by far one of the most memorable tastings I've ever experienced! We will go again. In fact we joined WBLA: Washington Beer Lovers Association, so we have to go again. I want that scarf!! Big thank you to @WashingtonBeer. Awesome event!!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

J.K.'s Scrumpy Hard Cider

Quite possibly one of my favorite ripe apple hard ciders around! Living in Eastern Washington, I've come to understand and appreciate apples and cherries. My wife and I live on a couple acres of apple, cherry, pear and walnut trees. Every July, we can step outside and pick the Bings, Rainiers and Sweets off the trees and simply pop them in our mouths as we trek from tree to tree. In September, we do the same thing for a few days with the apple and pear trees.

A few years ago, one of my wine and beer reps brought me a few apple ciders. I have had ciders in my past, but mostly dry monsters from northern France or western Belgium. When I tasted this and he told me it was from Michigan, I looked at him with a surprised face! I had no clue Michigan could grow such great apples, hence making such juicy cider. I learned something new. Drink more domestic ciders.

This cider is literally like taking a bite from a fresh, ripe, juicy Gala apple. Except for the kick, that's what you've got. It smells like sticking your face in  a paper bag full of apples. The mouth-feel is long, mouth-watering and flat-out in your face. This is a complete opposite of what I was used to from western Europe. This cider opened up my eyes to other ciders around North America. It's my platform to ripe, juicy ciders. Awesome!! AP Rating: 91 points - 6/18/2015

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Rocky Coulee Brewing Company

Since 2002, Tom Shafer and his son Zack Shafer have been working on a project to produce and bottle beer out in the middle of nowhere Washington State. Odessa, Washington is located an hour and a half east of Wenatchee and an hour west of Spokane. Tom Shafer used to be a farmer until, at the age of 51, he decided to hand over that part of everyday life to his oldest son. In-turn, Tom took an early retirement. After a bit of time, Tom decided that his love of beer was over-whelming enough to get him to start brewing commercially, himself. With the help of his son Zach, Tom launched and started selling his beers in Eastern Washington with a max output production of 780 barrels per year.

Present day June 2015, Zach Shafer is in the works to buying dad's brewery. Zach pretty much does it all at the brewery, everything except for the graphics design of the labels and the printing of the labels. Zach's goal is to take the brewery to 1200 barrels in 2015 and grow accordingly over the years to come.

I met Zach in East Wenatchee on a 95 degree day to talk to him about his vision, ideas and beer. I was presented with a six-pack of his line of beers. Three of the bottles were labeled and three of them were quite possibly tank samples, but they definitely didn't have labels on them. The Rocky Coulee Brewing Co. Fire Weed Honey Blonde, the White Out Winter Ale, the Copper Cream Ale, the Brown Ale, the Dunkel, and the Golden Lite Summer Ale. Hmmm, what should I start with?!?

*Written as we tasted. These are more like tasting notes.
  1. Rocky Coulee Brewing Co. Fire Weed Honey Blonde Lager: Out all his labels, this is the most exciting. I found myself drawn to it based on the bright yellow font and orange "Fire Weed" graphics. No UPC. This may be a problem in the future. I pop the beer to find a pretty dark honey lager looking product. I put the glass up to my nose and immediately smell wheat mash, the kind you smell when you set foot in a brewery as they're brewing. In my nose I smell an unfinished beer. The sparkle in the beer is very week and the froth is almost non-existent. This leads me to believe that this was manually bottled a bit early and there may have been too much air contact with the fluid. This beer tasted almost exactly what the nose showed, with the exception that it has a mild honey taste to it. I barely tasted any hops either. A shame quite frankly. I believe that if the hops showed up, the honey would balance it out and the wheat would possibly go away. Instead, it tastes just off a bit. If you like light ales with heavy wheat taste, this is for you. If you want hops of a complex beer, just move on. AP Rating: 78 Points 6/10/15                                                                                                                                                                                      
  2. Rocky Coulee Brewing Co. White Out Winter Ale: Concerned that I would find myself pouring this bottle down the drain like it's more popular brother, the Fire Weed, I cautiously popped the cap and started pouring. This beer's color turns out to be quite normal. The nose smelled of a grilled smoky grain unlike most other red or amber ales out in the general market. Guess what?!?!'s taste is also plain!! It has this very mild hoppy finish that makes it very pleasure with it's dark taste of wheat. Hmmm... If only they could label this Amber Ale for the rest of the year!! I'd drink it. AP Rating: 83 Points 6/10/15                                                             
  3. Rocky Coulee Brewing Co. Brown Ale: Brown Ale, my ass!!!?! Smells like over-cooked wheat, if anything, tastes like nothing!! No body to this beer AT ALL!! I've had bad gluten-free beer that's been better than this! I'm not sure what these brewers are thinking, but brewing quality beer is not on their minds. Big disappointment. AP Rating: 77 Points 6/10/15                  
  4. Rocky Coulee Brewing Co. Golden Light Summer Ale: That's a pretty gold looking beer. Ok...Couldn't finish this beer!!! Oxidized and/or over-cooked. These people need to quit brewing beer. This beer tastes like dirty keg lines. Absolutely terrible! AP Rating: 65 Points 6/10/15                                                                                                                                              
  5. Rocky Coulee Brewing Co. Dunkel: same nose, smells more like a brown than the brown did. Way thin and tastes like a watered down nut brown ale. Certainly, no dunkel. It's really not bad beer like it's predecessors, but I'm still having issues finishing it. AP Rating: 75 Points 6/10/15   
  6. Rocky Coulee Brewing Co. Copper Cream Ale: Why would cream ale be copper colored? Answer: "Who cares, it's disgusting!!" What are these guys doing with these beers? Let the professionals make good beer, go out and grow wheat!! AP Rating: 70 Points 6/10/15