Daily beer project

Hop Rising Double IPA

Posted in American Craft Beer, Squatters, Utah Beer by dailybeerproject on February 24, 2010

After trying the Orval at 8.5% abv and not noticing any bitterness, I decided to give another high alcohol content local beer a try. I expected this beer, based on its name, to be exceptionally hoppy. It was. Based on its alcohol content (9% abv), I expected it to be unpleasantly bitter. It was not.

The hops were so strong, I thought it was going to take the enamel off of my teeth. But if you recall, as a supertaster, there are instances when I taste bitter but others do not, sort of like how bees can see ultraviolet. But ordinary bitter tastes, well, ordinary (although there is no way to calibrate whether my ordinary is the same as your ordinary–could be that if you tasted the way I taste, everything would be overwhelmingly strong, and if I tasted the way you taste, I would find everything underwhelmingly bland). And hops, while bitter, are not the same sort of unpleasant bitter I sometimes get from alcohol. Weird, I know.

Weirder still is that the hop flavor was so strong that I hardly noticed the bitterness from the alcohol. And while I’ll admit that the hoppiness was a little much for me, I had an easier time with this one than I did the 5% abv Sam Adams Boston Ale or the 5.7% abv Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. Given my choice of those three, I’d choose the Hop Rising first.

Rating: good.

Orval

Posted in Imports by dailybeerproject on February 23, 2010

According to BradK, Orval is a beer to savor. He recommended I sip it slowly, like wine, over 20 minutes or more. I think it took 10 minutes for the head to subside–that stuff is foamy. And delicious.

I don’t know why it is that the higher-alcohol beers seem to taste bitter to me, but the Belgians do not. The Belgians are not bitter at all. Just yummy. As well they should be. At $4.65 a bottle, Orval is on par with wine in terms of cost. So the question is, since it costs two or three times as much as most other beers, is it three times as good? It depends. Depends on what you’re in the mood for. Orval is a good celebration or special occasion beer, but I can’t afford to drink it every day. I wish I could though.

I also got some feedback that I should rate my beers in one of three categories: awesome; good; and not-awesome. So henceforth, I will. Orval is awesome.

Epilogue: Sam Adams Boston Ale & Boston Lager

Posted in American Craft Beer by dailybeerproject on February 18, 2010

Decided to go back and try the first two beers from the project to see how my tastes have changed. The result: they haven’t changed as much as I thought. The Boston Ale was on par with Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and some of the other ales I’ve found to be a bit too bitter. The Boston Lager was also on the bitter side, though slightly less so than the Ale, same as before. I’ll probably revisit these two every few months just as a barometer, but for now they won’t make it into the regular rotation.

Moretti

Posted in Imports by dailybeerproject on February 17, 2010

There’s something about eating ethnic food and drinking a beer from that country. Just as Negra Modelo was fantastic with Mexican, so too was Moretti well-paired with the olives, breadsticks, meatball, and wood-fired pizza I had at a business dinner this evening. I don’t know how well I’d like a Moretti by itself (I probably would, just don’t know to what extent), but in that context, it was excellent. It didn’t hurt that the company was nice too–I’m fortunate to work with a group of people I enjoy spending time with, and there were four of us with one client, who is also an agreeable guy.

Anyway, I chose the Moretti because I was inspired by Mike’s comment about a beer passport and figured I may as well sample an Italian beer since I had the opportunity. It was the right decision. It was a well-balanced beer that neither stood out for being malted nor hoppy, just pleasant without being boring. And I seem to fall for any beer that’s balanced but not boring. The other thing that’s great about Moretti is the label–it features a picture of your stereotypical wiseguy, dark suit, fedora, mug of beer in his hand. The picture alone had me feeling like a made man.

Beers #29 & #30: Evolution Amber Ale and Budweiser

Posted in American Craft Beer, Macrobrews, Utah Beer, Wasatch Beers by dailybeerproject on February 16, 2010

First off, I know that Orval was supposed to be beer #29, but frankly I’ve been looking forward to finishing this “project” and getting on with drinking beer for fun. Today while I was skiing, Wasatch Brewery Evolution Amber Ale was available on tap, so I figured I’d call that beer #29, have the Budweiser when I got home, and drink the Orval later.

I’d read a review of Evolution before I tried it, and the reviews weren’t super favorable. It wasn’t a spectacular beer. In fact, it wasn’t even the best amber ale I’ve had in the last few days, but it was still quite good. Good enough that I would order it again. I’ve discovered that I quite like ambers, and while there may be better amber ales available, I’d take this beer on tap over quite a few of the bottled beers I’ve tried. Next time I go to the beer store, I’ll probably grab a few bottles to see what the bottled version is like.

After I got home from skiing, I popped open the double can of Budweiser. I was thirsty and tired, and I figured if ever there was a time beer would taste good, it would be then. So the verdict? I like Budweiser. I’m almost embarrassed to say how much I liked it. It’s not my favorite beer. It’s not even top ten. It’s not even something I would seek out. But I wouldn’t turn one down either. Like the PBR, it’s a quantity over quality beer, and it goes down really easy, probably because there’s not much to it. I definitely liked it better than Heineken. I can see why it’s so popular, too. While there’s nothing compelling about it, there’s not really anything not to like either.

Summary thoughts: the project has been an unequivocal success. I like beer. Not all of them, but I know which beers I like. And which varieties of beer I’ll probably like. Not only could I drink beer in social settings, I would choose beer over alternatives in a number of situations. Going out for Mexican? Negra Modelo. Need something to put in the cooler for after skiing? Chasing Tail. Out for a casual dinner? Dead Horse Amber Ale. Meeting friends on a Friday after work? Bohemian Vienna Lager. Relaxing in front of the TV? Sam Adams Light. Of course these are just some of the many choices, but you get the idea.

So where does this project go from here? Well as I mentioned, I’m looking forward to drinking beer for fun. I’ve got an Orval waiting for me to drink it, so I’ll probably do a writeup of that. I still want to give Chimay a try. I also want to revisit the Sam Adams Boston Ale and Boston Lager since those were the first two beers I tried, and I’d like to see how my attitude towards them has changed, as I’m sure it has. Wine is yummy too, and so I’ll write about those wines I consider worth mentioning. So stay tuned. Those five or six of you that have stuck with it, add me to your reader. It won’t be a daily thing, but I’m not going away either.

Beer #28: Pabst Blue Ribbon

Posted in Macrobrews by dailybeerproject on February 15, 2010

I drank a double can of PBR sitting in a camp chair on a sunny day in the parking lot of a ski resort. It was awesome. The beer itself was not awesome. In fact, it was kind of flat and boring. But sitting there and drinking a beer in the parking lot was awesome, and PBR just seemed like an appropriate beer for the circumstances. Which is not to say other beers wouldn’t be better. I just don’t think there’s a bad beer for that situation. OK, I’m sure there is, but you get my point.

PBR itself is more of what I’ve come to expect from adjunct beers. Not long on flavor and not too filling. It’s the type of beer you could drink a lot of, and that’s what their business model is based on. Compared to the other adjunct beers I’ve tried, PBR is as good as any of them, and drinking it straight from the can was even kind of fun and seemed fitting. It’s not a beer I’d seek out–I’m a quality over quantity type of guy–but if someone offered me one, I certainly wouldn’t turn it down.

Summary thoughts: when I started the project, I figured the proof of its success was whether or not I enjoyed the Budweiser. But really, what’s the difference between Budweiser and PBR? The exercise of finding out will be purely academic.

Beer #27: Delirium Tremens

Posted in Imports by dailybeerproject on February 14, 2010

The first thing I noticed about Delirium Tremens was the distinctive bottle. The bottle itself is made of brown glass–ordinary enough. Except you can’t see the brown glass. The exterior has a white enamel and there’s blue foil around the top. It makes for a unique, distinctive look, with the added benefit of keeping the beer from becoming light struck. I have no idea if this was the motivation for the enamel; according to wikipedia it serves the aesthetic purpose of lending the appearance of cologne ceramics.

Delirium Tremens is produced by the Huyghe Brewery, which was established in 1654, so I’m guessing they’ve learned a thing or two about beer production in that time. The accolades Delirium Tremens has won suggest they have–it’s been named “best beer in the world” and #1 of the 50 greatest beers of all time.

But who cares what other people think? What matters to me is whether I like it. Turns out, I do. Despite the 8.5% abv, this beer is smooth and delicious. It pours with a huge, thick head that dissipates slowly. It has a bit of sourness similar to the Duvel, but like the Duvel, the sourness is pleasant and becomes more so as you consume the beer. Also like the Duvel, it’s a beer to be savored. I can’t see drinking more than two of these–in fact, we were out for dinner and drinks with my brother, and he ordered a Duvel followed by a Delirium Tremens, and opted against a third when we were watching a movie after dinner (which is actually when I had this one).

So you may be wondering what I drank with dinner. Turns out this is a bonus post, as I tried two more local beers on tap with my dinner. First was a Uinta Brewing Cutthroat Pale Ale, what I’ve been told is the most popular local beer in the state. Frankly, I don’t see why. I’ve tried two offerings from Uinta brewing, and in both cases I’ve liked the Squatters beer of that style better. I’ll take Full Suspension over Cutthroat any day. Which is not to say Cutthroat is bad or that I’d turn it down, there are just other beers I’d choose given the option.

I also had a Dead Horse Amber Ale from Moab Brewery. This was a delightful beer. Over at beer advocate, the reviews often mention “a good session beer,” in other words a beer you could drink more than one of in a sitting. This is one of those beers. Smooth and light without being bland and boring. It’s got a balanced flavor profile with just enough of everything but not too much of anything. I haven’t seen it in bottles, but it’s available on tap at two of my favorite spots, so it’s one I’ll definitely order again.

I should also point out that I had these three beers last night (Friday) and technically I should be on beer #28 today, which is PBR. However, we met some friends for dinner tonight, and I didn’t feel like drinking the PBR before we left, and I was too full after I got home, so it will have to wait. I may get to it after I get back from skiing tomorrow (which seems the perfect time to drink PBR), or it may wait until Monday. Tomorrow being Valentine’s day, in the evening I’m going to enjoy something bubbly, just not beer.

But since I didn’t drink the scheduled PBR today, I’ll mention what I did have with dinner: Guinness on tap, and Roosters Heavenly Cream Ale. My brother mentioned last night the same think Mike pointed out in the comments when I had a bottled Guinness: that it’s much better on tap than from a bottle. Much better. On tap, it has a thick creamy head, a smooth body, and a full but very pleasant flavor. I would have ordered another had I not also wanted to try something from another local brewery. The Heavenly Cream Ale was also good, and how can you not love a brewery named Roosters?

Summary thoughts: I’m officially on beer 27, but I’ve tried well over 30 at this point. I could call it quits (except I’ve still never had a Budweiser), but I’m having too much fun. What started out as a 30 day project will doubtless go on, albeit with a bit less rigor, indefinitely. Camping just got way better.

Beer #26: Heineken

Posted in Imports, Macrobrews by dailybeerproject on February 8, 2010

I spent the majority of the summer after I graduated from high school working and saving money so that I could spend the last part of the summer backpacking through Europe before starting college. One of the first cities I visited was Amsterdam, and many of the other backpackers we ran into (most of whom were a few years into college) were talking about the Heineken brewery tour. The Van Gogh museum and other cultural attractions of the city seemed nowhere near as important.

Since I was 18 at the time, it didn’t occur to me to even go there. It also didn’t occur to me that the legal drinking age may have been lower there than at home and that I even could have gone. But I did know from the one or two times I tried beer in high school that I couldn’t stand it, so there was no interest whether I was legal or not.

If I were to go to Amsterdam today, I may go on the brewery tour, but it would be because I have a geeky fascination with factories that I didn’t have at age 18. It wouldn’t be because I wanted to sample Heineken. It tasted kind of bland, like other macrobrews, but with a sourness vaguely similar to the Duvel only unpleasant. And it never became pleasant. Which was a bummer, because I had the 24 ounce “keg can,” which was more Heineken than I really wanted to drink. I also would have preferred drinking something more enjoyable since I had it during the second half of the Super Bowl, and the game didn’t turn out how I wanted it to. The drink and the outcome were not a pleasant combination.

Summary thoughts: hard to believe there are only four beers left in the project. Unfortunately, having beer every single day for the last 26 days has taken its toll, and I’m going to put the project on the shelf for a few days and finish this weekend. I feel kind of bloated after so many consecutive days of drinking beer, and if you add to that all the food I ate during the game yesterday, I just feel kind of icky. I now enjoy beer, but I want to keep it enjoyable, and some nights I feel like I’m drinking it because I have to.

Beer #25: Duvel

Posted in Imports by dailybeerproject on February 7, 2010

I’ll be honest that my expectations weren’t real high for Duvel. Experience has taught me that higher-alcohol content beers are too bitter for my taste, and Duvel is 8.5% abv, double what I get in my local beers. Research, however, suggested that for whatever reason the Belgian beers are less bitter than those of other provenance, so I had the ever-so-slightest bit of hope that I’d like it. Considering it also costs twice or more what other beers do, my desire to like it was just that much greater.

First thing I noticed was the magnificent head. Indeed, the 330 ml/11.2 ounce bottle produced so much foam, I couldn’t fit it all in a pint glass. I drank the last of it straight from the bottle, and waited for the kick of bitterness. It never came. That was weird. So I had another sip. Still no bitterness. It tasted like a full-flavored, but not-very-hoppy lager with a pronounced sourness at the end. At first I found the sourness off-putting, but by the end, I liked it. Liked it enough that I wanted another bottle. I guess there is something to these Belgian beers after all.

Since I had the Duvel early afternoon after I got home from skiing (beer after skiing is awesome, btw), today ended up being a bonus day since my wife and I went out for Mexican tonight. Alex/Watcher gave me a bit of crap in the comments about how I don’t like any of the beers he recommends. Well he also recommended Negra Modelo, so I ordered one with dinner to see if I could break the trend. The trend was broken convincingly. Negra Modelo is an incredibly tasty beer and pairs wonderfully with Mexican food. Now if I could just figure out where to buy it besides that restaurant…

Summary thoughts: While we were eating, my wife asked me what specifically I like in a beer (especially since she doesn’t like beer at all and can’t comprehend what there even is to like). This was a question I hadn’t considered before then, but I’d say the best answer is balance. I want to taste the malt, regardless of whether it’s sweet or dark (the Negra is dark and certainly the darkest bottled beer I’ve really liked). I want to taste the hops without being overpowered by them. I don’t mind hoppy beers, but that can’t be all I taste. And I don’t like being overpowered by the alcohol. Indeed, this has been my nemesis throughout the project, more so than the hops. Finally, the beer shouldn’t taste watered-down or boring–it has to have something to it, something to remember, or there’s not much point in drinking beer over water. Duvel and Negra Modelo both met those criteria, yet both tasted completely different.

Oh, and here’s the lineup for the final six pack. I’m alternating Belgians with macrobrews just for kicks.

  1. Heineken
  2. Delirium Tremens
  3. Pabst Blue Ribbon
  4. Orval
  5. Budweiser

Beer #24: Kokanee

Posted in Imports, Macrobrews by dailybeerproject on February 6, 2010

For some reason I expected a little more from Kokanee than from a typical macro brewed beer. What I got was a not-very-compelling beer that went down easily enough but wasn’t memorable in any way. If it were what was available to drink at the end of a long day, I would drink one. Not something I would turn down, but not something I would seek out either.

Of course the thing I failed to mention up front is that I had a martini an hour or two before having this beer, which could have altered my perception of it. Or perhaps not.

I still haven’t settled on my final six. We’re going out tomorrow night, and I’ll probably have something–hopefully on tap–then. Beyond that, the only things I’m settled on are Budweiser, Heineken, and Duval. Hard to believe the project’s nearly over, though.