Have you ever looked at the best by date imprinted on a bottle of beer and wondered if the beer actually tastes better before that date or if the brewery is simply engaging in an ingenious marketing plan? In order to wrap my brain around that quagmire, I decided to conduct an experiment and consume a common brand of beer well after the expiration date. After cracking open the bottle and putting it to my lips, I was met with a flat, un-flavorful, and appalling taste. I had to ask myself if the same would be true with Stone’s Enjoy By 10.25.13 IPA.
On a recent trip to the Stone Brewing Company with the Official Beer Blog, I pulled a stool up to the rustic bar and ordered an Enjoy By 10.25.13. I am here to tell you that this beer is all about the hops! My first encounter was a sharp explosion of hops that reminded me of Eddie Van 10.25.13Halen’s guitar solo in Eruption. The hops in this beer completely overwhelmed my pallet with the taste of pine and left me with that familiar short lived numb feeling. According to Stone Brewing Company the beer was brewed with a multitude of hops, including super galena for bitterness. Hops used for flavor were comprised of New Zealand simka, Cascade Citra, and Amarillo hops. Once the brewing process was complete the brew master dry hopped the beer with New Zealand and Australian Galaxy hops.
Following the explosion of hops I immediately was met with sweet tones of honey, orange peel, and a hint of wild flowers in the lingering finish. This double IPA has an even color that looked like a spectacular amber and orange sunset dipping below the mountains between Escondido, California and the Pacific coast. The head on this beer is an
off white color and contains intricate interlocking leggings that appear to wander slowly down the edge of the glass. The mouth feel is truly the pinnacle of this double IPA. It is a medium bodied beer that is bursting with carbonation and is extremely easy to drink.
In my opinion the argument of whether this double IPA lasts beyond the Enjoy by date is not a debatable topic. My supply of Stone’s Enjoy By 10.25.13 will be long gone before the calendar turns to 10.26.13!
Ironfire Brewing Company – Ales for Outlaws
Last week, since it way National Beer Day, Jim and I decided to mosey on over to Ironfire Brewing Company in Temecula, CA. We are usually a bit more organized but this day we actually just dropped in on the crew! We were fortunate that Greg Webb, the Vice President, happened to be around. Along with Aubree they were both pretty busy keep customer’s pints full and working on replenishing the quickly dissipating supply of beer. Greg was very gracias to spend some time and give us the run down on the brief but very successful history of Ironfire Brewing.
Greg along with John Maino are the leaders of the posse that make up Ironfire. Both with a pretty successful history with Ballast Point, officially opened in August, 2012. (After several years in the garage, perfecting their recipes) They currently have a total of 42 beers that can be pulled into the fold at any one time. Usually at the tasting room there are about 12 available via tasters, small or large portions. Currently there are no growlers. (Which is being done to ensure the availability of the beer to more people) In addition the flagship beers can be purchased in 22oz bottles as well.
As we took a seat at the bar, Aubree setup us up with 2 rows of samplers. This included their flag ship beers that including Gun Slinger Gold, Synner Pale, 51/50 IPA, 6 Killer Stout and Vicious Disposition. We also had samples of their less frequent but equally popular beers including Habanero Pale Ale, Prickly Pear Ale, Boomstick Brown and Cucumber ale. We also were treated to some Dead on Arrival IPA as well. Of these beers, the 51/50 is their best seller. Most of these were in the 5-6% ABV range aside from the Vicious Disposition. I was a bit disappointed that I did not get to taste the Outcast Dead Red. (Which is aged in a variety of Whisky and Bourbon barrels. (I was actually informed they were prepping for a barrel flight the following weekend) There is also some Rye barrels in the works as well!
All of the beers were excellent. You can taste care taken to ensure everything poured is spot on! My personal favorite was between the 51/50 IPA and the Habanero Pale Ale. Jim was also very impressed by most of the beers poured as well. They have some very big plans on expanding more of the styles offered, especially when it come to their barrel aged offerings.
Total projected sales for their first year is at 1500 barrels. There are about 150 accounts in San Diego along, these numbers will obviously keep growing. They are using local distribution as well as some self-deliveries as well. They brew about once a week currently on the big system.
Overall, this was a perfect pick for our National Beer Day stop. The tasting room has a very comfortable feel and the western / outlaw motif is fantastic. The beers are really amazing and it has something for everyone. They are posed to really do some great things! We look forward to another visit were we can really break down the intricacies of their offers. Until them, we hope everyone will stop by the tasting room in the meantime. The tasting room is open 5 days currently. For more info, hit their website at http://ironfirebrewing.com/ . For more pictures goto http://officialbeerblog.com/photo-gallery/?wppa-album=13&wppa-cover=0&wppa-occur=1
Nothing screams “#STOUT DAY” like some Black Hole Sun from Black Market Brewing in Temecula, CA. Myself and Jim (Official Beer Blog Photo Guy!) were lucky enough to get a taste of this beer before it was actually completed. Even at that early stage, we knew it would be great. Fast forward a month, and this beer has been become even more magical! Finished in Rye Whiskey Barrels, this classic example of an Imperial Russian Stout does not disappoint. The overall aroma consists of currant and plum combined with the toasted malt. You will also pick up a bit of the 15.2% Alcohol effect off the nose! The color on this is PITCH BLACK (as the name implies) with a tan colored head. I bet a 1000 watt light would not even make it through this dense liquid! The pour of this beer is a wonderfully thick elixir. Due to everything that is going on, the head of the beer quickly disappears into the moat of goodness. As any good, (But Impatient) Stout lover will do, you give it as much of a rest as possible and let the beer warm up. The characteristics really come together after about 15 mins of warming. The flavor on this brew is amazing! You can definitely pick-up the flavors of the Whisky Barrel, along with sweet toasted malt with a bit of some clove notes. That along with the plum / currant combination make this beer a true winner. As you finish your taste of this medium to heavy bodied beer you get a creaminess as the malty sweetness coats your tongue. As the slight alcohol warming makes its way through your body, you realize this beer will be one to not rush through.
The crew at Black Market Brewing have hit a home run with this one! Thanks to Shaun and Aaron for bringing this beer to our attention and allowing us to review! It will be a mainstay in the Official Beer Blog cellar! Them along with the rest of the crew are doing a great job (And have come along way in just a few short years) I was also amazed to see a price for this beer! (Actually less than 10 at Bevmo!) They are already prepping some additional whiskey barrels. (Not sure if it will be for this or another wonderful variation!) We look forward to tasting and talking about those as them become a reality!
Stock up for the upcoming Stout Day Celebration!
El Hefe and Jim the Photo Guy
As the summer comes to a close it is about time to polish off the last Summer Solstice from Anderson Valley Brewing Company. (http://www.avbc.com) In addition to a standard review, I decided to do a comparison of Keg vs. Bottle vs. Can. Hence the late review, since I wanted to give the can and the bottle some time to sit in the fridge.
Review on Summer Solstice
History – My first experience with Summer Solstice was in the summer of 2006. Once I tasted it, I knew it was a winner! That summer I had a full 13.5 gal keg. Living in Southern California, that was my only keg choice. Now we have the availability of 5.3’s which helps if you get through two fresh kegs before the end of the run! This beer is the close sibling to the Winter Solstice, which is where some of the spice notes are influenced. Since its inception, it has gone through a bit of a transformation… This includes the dropping on the original tag line “Cerveza Crema” and the additional hops that have been introduced to help with longevity of the product!
Appearance – A very inviting beautiful medium copper color with bone white head that retains for good while with its tight bubble pattern. Nice glass lacing as well.
Aroma – Carmel and Malt goodness play a key role in this easy drinking summer beer. Vanilla as well and it has some nice bread and grain notes. Very pleasing and inviting aroma that makes you almost salivate for that first sip!
Flavor – Sweet Carmel and Vanilla notes ring through. These are flavors are not as subtle as in years past but still are very inviting and acceptable to my tastes. Detectible citrus flavors give it the summer spin that finish of with some hints of clove and possibly cinnamon (Or maybe that is the vanilla working!). The flavor profile of this beer is complex and changes as the beer warms up. You will also get some different flavors if you are coming straight from the can vs. pouring it in a glass or cup. The sweetness my be a bit surprising for some people, but for me I enjoy something multidimensional and it is somewhat deceptive with everything going on in this beer.
Mouth feel – Creaminess is excellent. Very good medium carbonation with a light-medium body. Nice mouth coating with a clean finish.
Overall Impression – A very enjoyable, easy drinking summer beer. At 5.0 ABV you can chill with your pals by the pool and keep pace with the festivities. I always look forward to this beer and start asking for kegs around April 1st. With any luck I am able to get atleast two kegs in before summers end!
Now for the Vessel Comparison – Keg vs. Bottle vs. Can!
The Keg along with the can and the bottle were purchased at around the same time at Bevmo in Chino Hills, CA. (The cans and bottles were out on the floor so they were at room temp up until I purchased them!) I let them sit for about 3 weeks in the kegerator along with the keg to keep roughly the same temp before I cracked the first set for the comparison!
All three examples were poured into pint glasses. Again this helps to keep the playing field level. This also helps to get the aroma out of the beer and is needed in order to get key indicators like head retention, color and overall appearance.
Of all the examples, the most head retention was the bottle. This may have been due to the pour! But for the most part, the product in the bottle seemed to break down a bit. Versus the other examples, it seemed not as balance and the sweetness was more evident. It did not seem as fresh as the other two examples. The age of this been was maybe close to 3 months on this comparison, so that could be the reason!
Of course, the freshest and best tasting beer comes from the Keg. I can really taste the difference. Head retention is good and the overall balance of the beer is great. Of course the carbination from the keg delivery system helps as well! But, for the most part, many people will not have this choice, especially if you are not within the key distribution areas.
So this gets me over to the Can vs. Bottle debate.
Canned beer has been around for a long time, but this is not your grand fathers can of Olympia! The technology that has been put into cans has improved greatly since then. Each can has a special lining (Actually a water based polymer in the case of Ball Manufacturing that produces the majority of the cans for the industry) http://www.ball.com/beverage-containers/ that is designed to prevent any contamination or affect the overall taste of the product.
Overall shelf life.
Sept 3rd tasting. Of course the Keg did not last until this date. I did notice a tailing off at the end of about early August. (Which is about the 3 month period)
The bottle example I tried today had a date of April 13th, 2012. (Julian dates are on the bottles only currently, it is a bit hard to detect and it is located between the collar and main label at the bottom of the neck. It is best to shine a light or hold up to an open window to let the daylight shine through the glass! Calculation can be done via this website http://www.longpelaexpertise.com.au/toolsJulian.php ) which puts it at 4.5 months. My personal pallet would say it about 3 to 4 months should be the breaking point for the bottle.
The can on the other hand was still really good. Unfortunately, I did not have a date to go with, I am hoping at some point AVBC starts this practice. Other craft can makers already have this technology! I am assuming the same batch so equal age to the bottle! The can was opened and poured into only cups this time. (A couple of friends would not let me finish the last one alone!) Aside from maybe some of the spice notes dissipating, it was really good. (I am looking for more to try again)
It also has a tad bit more bitterness in its flavor. (But not over powering) Some of this has been done to help extend the shelf life of this beer.
This year examples are very close in most aspects. There are some very slight nuances that I detected about each one of the methods. Just to prove the difference in batches, one year my keg had much more citrus and lightness in the color versus the much sweeter bottle. This year was not the case.
Head retention – Good retention on Can and Keg versions. The Bottle seems to dissipate pretty quickly.
With the addition of the cans, you can really extent your months of enjoyment of the beer. (Although, maybe it is a mind trick, but it seems much more refreshing coming from the can and obviously will retain more chill for that hot summer day rehydration ration! From the keg, a chilled glass will also keep it cool or pour it into a pitcher with and ice cavity. (Like the one from Kegworks.com) The moral of the story is to keep it cool! The first examples will for the most part be very close, as time goes on, the actual clear winner will be the can. I plan to do this same test with Winter Solstice as well. Including some cans from last year!
You might be able to still find some of this, as the summer seems to be extending itself for us this year! If you see both cans and bottles, you now know which one to grab!
Cheers! El Hefe
After over a month of anticipation, the day finally arrived. It was Saturday the 8th of October, 2011. The day was already looking to be wonderful, with the sun heating things up already at 8:30 in the morning. We arrived at the Citizens Bank Arena in Ontario, CA at about 9:30. After getting our gear, we lined up with the rest of the early birds, (We all had VIP tickets that would allow us to get in an hour early!) with grilled cheese on the brain! (Breakfast of Champions, of course)
As we made our way into the entrance, we noticed something was a bit wrong. We saw tons of trucks, but all of them seemed to still have the doors down! This could not be right, we figured if anyone would be open, it would be The Grilled Cheese Truck. (Heck, how much prep does that take!) Well, the Grilled Cheese Truck had not even arrived. In fact, there were atleast 5 trucks that were barely pulling in at 10 am, when the event was supposed to start.
After combing the area, there seemed to be only about 5 trucks ready as they opened the gates! This was very disappointing. Especially since we paid 25 dollars a ticket to get the privilege of not having to wait in line with the other 10,000 people that were estimated to be there during the day.
To top things off, the Beer Fest was a bust. I am not sure why the organizers used beer fest in the event name. (I guess they knew people like me would probably NOT show up just for a food truck, if there was not going to be some great beers to drink!)
In all, there were only 4 craft breweries represented. IE Brewing, Dale Brothers, Bootleggers and Stone. Any they were not pouring samples. It was strickly a cash a carry, being served by the budwiser trucks on either site of the event. I do understand that this is great exposer for the local brewries, but it think having the event server their beer might have been a detrement. (More on this later in the article!)
We ended up at the Piaggio truck. This is a truck my buddy Jim frequents, but it was my first. They serve mostly Argentinian influenced dishes. We decided to share the Pork Sandwich. It was FANTASTIC. Man, this guy can cook! He actually used to own a restaurant in Downtown Brea, CA before the economy force him to take his restaurant on wheels! The flavor of the chicken and the chimmicuri sauce and tomato was incredible. And the french baguette had a nice crunch to it. I will be hitting this truck up again!
We were then ready for some beer. Since we had spoken to Andy Dale a bit when we arrived, we decided to get some of his brew. We were quite surprised to find that his beers were not on tap. And to top that off, they did not have bombers, but a 12 oz bottle that Dale Bros has never produced! We bought 1 Pomona Queen and 1 Oktober Fiesta. We opened the bottles to find that the beer was NOT Cold. Not even close. It was a bit of a bummer to spend 12 dollars on 2 beers that were warmer then the water bottle I left back in the car. The beer was still tasty, we both agreed the Fiesta, which is an amber style with some spicy notes, (More on this when we get one to review in the right setting) was the better of the two. After the experience so far, we knew our day was going to be cut short.
As we finished our beers, we picked up some Pupusa’s from the Vchos Truck. I opted for the Shrimp, Beans and Spinach while Jim went with the Pork and Beans. These are almost like quesadilla but with a thicker flat bread made of masa. There were tasting but not exactly what we were looking to eat. (There were still only about 10 trucks open at this time) As we finished our Beer, we pondered our next move.
I ended the Food Truck session with a couple of Sliders from Baby’s Badass Burgers. These placed number two on my list for the day. They were very tasty, with some nice grilled onion and mushrooms on them! But, without a nice beer to wash it down, it was just not the total experience I was looking for in a food review!
After this, we were ready to head out! It was not quite 12:30 PM. With our palettes still yearning for some hops, barley, grains, yeast and malt, we decided to venture elsewhere! It just so happened the California Beer Fest was being held just a short 9 miles away in Clairemont, CA (More about that in my next post.) As we walked out, we did see the Grilled Cheese Truck. There were probably 250 people in line now!
I was very disappointed with this event. I have very high hopes and much of those were gone, right out of the gate. I hope the organizers will listen to the feedback that will be provided by many of the attendees and really make some adjustments for their next event.
Ken (Aka El Hefe)
Some craft beer lovers who use the applications, Untappd or Pintley received an invitation to attend a tasting of four unreleased Sam Adams beers during the Great American Beer Festival in Denver. The event was sponsored by Sam Adams and held at Ghost Plate & Tap. This old style tavern was the perfect setting to try these beers that will be available toward the end of October.
Each beer will be released in small quantities and represent small batch creations from Sam Adams. Here are the four beers with details obtained from tasting notes by Sam Adams.
- Tasman Red is a red IPA. Brewed with Topaz and Galaxy hops grown near the Tasmanian Sea, this beer does not have a strong hop flavor. ABV 6.5%
- Third Voyage is a double IPA with a stronger hop presence, but not overbearing. The beer is brewed with Cascade hops from England, New Zealand and the Pacific Northwest. It is named for the third voyage of Captain James Cook, which visited those locations. ABV 8%
- Griffin’s Bow is an oaked barleywine that is golden in color. This beer is surprisingly smooth with an ABV of 11.5%. The name for this beer goes back to medieval England when barleywines were made and the griffin was a symbolic protector of treasures.
- The Vixen, a chocolate chili bock mixes the aroma and flavors of dark cocoa, cinnamon, and chilies. This dark brew may be the most interesting of the bunch! ABV8.5%
Appearance: copper in color with a white head
Aroma: Very Floral
Taste: The Hops hit you right off the bat and stay with you till the end, and notes of citrus.
Mouth feel: This is a medium bodied Ale
Overall: This is a delicious IPA that seems to be a high ABV, but I guess the brewery is keeping that part a secret.
I’d give this IPA a “B” overall, in my own opinion. Let me know what you think in the comments after you try one yourself!
Style: American Indian Pale Ale
ABV: ?? Not labelled on the can and the brewery website does not list much info!
On Thursday, September 29, 2011, the Ladies of Craft Beer held their Second Annual Beers for Boobs Brunch at Freshcraft in Denver. Stevie Caldarola, founder of Ladies of Craft Beer organized the sold-out event. Stevie and Ginger Johnson of Women Enjoying Beer greeted attendees as they arrived. Each person received a pink ribbon and information about breast cancer and prevention.
Those attending the event had the opportunity to enjoy a beer brewed by Ska Brewing in collaboration with Freshcraft. The beer, FornaSKAtor is a maple aged Dopplebock and was one of several taps marked with a pink ribbon indicating that sales of those beers would benefit breast cancer awareness. Freshcraft chefs provided a tasty buffet of chicken and waffles, and mini breakfast burritos to enjoy with the craft beers on tap.
The event raised over $350 from a raffle during the event with donated prizes from Ladies of Craft Beer and several craft breweries. Additional monies will be donated from ticket and beer sales. This is an event not to be missed if you attend GABF in 2012.
For those that might have missed the OC Brew HAHA review and photos, here it is! Reviews will normally be posted under the reviews section. We are currently looking into a better way for these to flow to the front of the site! Thanks for you feedback and we look forward to your comments!
Appearance: light brown/amber in color, great carbonation, but the head did not last.
Aroma: light, malty aroma
Taste: caramel, pecan (from Louisiana)
Mouth feel: lighter, almost a session beer.
Overall: This beer was very good. It was the first beer I’ve ever had with pecans in it that I knew of, it reminded me of a light pecan pie with the caramel and pecan notes that I picked up.
I’d rate this beer a B+, go out and get one and let me know what your thoughts are in the comments!
Available from September-November
Style: English Brown Ale