Daily beer project

Red Rock Nut Brown Ale

Posted in American Craft Beer, Red Rock, Utah Beer by dailybeerproject on March 31, 2010

After enjoying the Trader IPA while waiting for our table, I contemplated ordering another one with dinner. But I also remembered Alex saying that when he goes to Red Rock, he usually orders their nut brown ale, and Porcupine happens to have the Red Rock nut brown ale on tap.

I haven’t been head over heels about any of the brown ales (Newcastle, Samuel Smith’s) I’ve tried to date, so I had no idea whether I would like this one or not. In short, I was blown away by how good it was. It’s perfectly malty sweet with just a touch more hops than the other brown ales I’ve tried. The hops provide a bit of bite that provides a pleasant but in no way overpowering complement to the malt.

This is an incredibly awesome beer, and now the difficulty is going to be sampling other beers when I go to Porcupine. They keep 24 beers on tap, of which I’ve tried 20, so thankfully this dilemma is finite in nature.

The real, real bonus, though, is that as I’ve mentioned before, the primary motivation for this project was being able to enjoy a beer with friends after a bike ride. Red Rock is a common destination for that, so it works out nicely that one of theirs is a beer I consider to be among the most awesome. I’m already looking forward to my next one.

Uinta Trader IPA

Posted in American Craft Beer, Uinta Brewing, Utah Beer by dailybeerproject on March 30, 2010

I ordered this beer while waiting for a table at Porcupine Pub on Friday night. Ordering it was a somewhat odd experience.

Me: “I’ll have a Trader IPA please.”

Waitress: “We only have beers from the local breweries. We have an IPA from Uinta Brewery.”

Me: “I’ll have one of those.”

Had I ordered a Chasing Tail, would she have said “I’m sorry we don’t have that, but we have a golden ale from Squatters”? Does it mean I have a problem when I know the beer menu at a local pub better than the staff? Realistically, she probably just thought of it as Uinta IPA and had no idea Uinta calls their India Pale Ale “Trader” just like New Belgium calls their amber “Fat Tire.”

Anyway, on to the beer. It’s awesome. Probably my favorite IPA. Which is probably because it’s not a real IPA. The IPA style was invented so that the beer wouldn’t spoil on a long sea voyage from Great Britain to India. It was brewed to be higher in alcohol and with more hops to prevent spoilage. The hops are fine, the higher alcohol of a typical IPA is what I usually struggle with.

In this case, however, because of our 4% abv limit on beers served on tap, it doesn’t have the higher alcohol content typical of the IPA style. It was hoppy, but not excessively so–comparable to a Full Suspension in that regard. The hops were engaging without being overly bitter, the malt was smooth, everything just came together for a nice, delicious beer. After this and the Golden Spike Hefeweizen, I’m gaining more and more confidence in Uinta as a brewery. I just don’t get why Cutthroat is their most popular beer. But I guess when you consider that Budweiser is the most popular beer in America (the world?), it’s obvious that the palate of the typical beer drinker isn’t all that discriminating.

Kirin Light

Posted in Imports by dailybeerproject on March 26, 2010

When I did the post on Sam Adams Light, Alex gave me a bit of crap about drinking light beer, wondering if I’d also take to drinking Cosmopolitans. If you remember the ads Sam Adams used to run for its light beer, you’ll recall that it won some type of award at a German beer festival, even though there was no light beer category at said beer festival. I should have taken this as a hint that it was not a typical light beer.

The other night I took my daughter out for sushi, and continuing my practice of ordering a beer from that country when I eat ethnic food, I pondered the options. Sapporo I had tried already. The other options were Asahi Super Dry in a 20 ounce bottle and Kirin in a 20 ounce bottle. I’m in the process of trying to shave a few pounds for cycling season, so I didn’t want a 20 ounce bottle of beer with my dinner. Kirin Light was the only alternative in a 12 ounce bottle, so I figured I’d give that a try.

There was nothing not to like about it. It’s just that there wasn’t much to like, either. It was like slightly bubbly, beer-flavored water. The first few sips were fine, but towards the end of the bottle, I was asking myself what the point was. If you’re going to drink a beer, drink a beer. Otherwise drink water.

I will, however, take solace in the fact that the table next to us was having Bud Light with their sushi. I haven’t tried Bud Light, but it just has to be worse. Even if it’s the same, the fact that you’re having Bud Light with sushi still makes it worse. Yes, their necks were a bit red. Like how I’ve become a beer snob already? Yeah, me too.

BradK offered the following sound advice: “Never buy light beer. If someone gives you one, that’s OK.” Good beers are beers I probably wouldn’t buy, but that I wouldn’t turn down if offered. Awesome beers are beers I would buy and even go out of my way to obtain. Kirin Light gets a rating of good.

Wasatch Devastator Double Bock

Posted in American Craft Beer, Utah Beer, Wasatch Beers by dailybeerproject on March 25, 2010

Some people really like the taste of high gravity beers because they like the strong ethanol and other flavors. Unless this is the first post you’ve read, you probably know that I like the higher alcohol content Belgians, but it’s unusual for anyone else to pull it off without it tasting overly bitter to me. It should come as no surprise, then, that I didn’t even expect to like this 8% abv brew.

It was extremely bitter. In fact, I couldn’t taste much besides the bitter. I tried to find some maltiness and only found a little. I tried to find some hoppiness, but it was similarly sparse. All I could taste was bitter and harsh. My wife tried to convince me that I didn’t need to finish it, but I did.

The next day I asked my brother if he’d tried it. He said he can’t stand it either. He had one once and couldn’t finish it. So he gave it to another brother who quite liked it. Glad someone does.

Rating: Not awesome.

Chimay Red

Posted in Imports by dailybeerproject on March 23, 2010

Chimay is one of seven Trappist breweries worldwide. Six of the seven are in Belgium, while the seventh is in the Netherlands. Any beer (or cheese, or wine…) bearing the Trappist logo means that the beer was produced within the walls of a Trappist abbey, by or under supervision of Trappist monks. Proceeds from the beer are for support of the abbey (the Trappist order believes monasteries should be self-sufficient) and for other good causes. Not to blaspheme, but beer produced for such noble purposes is almost like drinking holy water. I get a warm, pleasant feeling just thinking about drinking it before I even pop the cork.

Popping the cork is not a figure of speach with regard to Chimay, either. The 75cl bottles are topped with a cork held in by a wire cage, similar to a sparkling wine. Just as it was fun to flip the lever to open the Grolsch bottles for the stout, it was similarly amusing to pop the cork on the Chimay. And just like a sparkling wine, it bubbled and foamed over the top as soon as I opened it.

Chimay isn’t the type of beer you drink by the pint, though I wouldn’t fault you if you did. So we poured it into wine glasses to savor the wonderful aroma and flavor. It pours with a huge, foamy head, similar to other Belgian beers. I imagine it would go nicely with food, in particular something rich and savory, but Chimay is what I would describe as a dessert beer. It tastes so good, and appeals to so many senses, that I wouldn’t want to be distracted by eating while I drank it. And it’s good and satisfying enough that I’d gladly substitute a glass of Chimay for a dessert at the end of a good meal.

Obviously, Chimay is awesome. The fact that it ages well–up to five years for the Red and White, and up to 15 years for the Blue–just makes it that much more awesome. If ever there’s an apocalypse, I’d want some of this in my cellar to enjoy while I wait for the world to be destroyed.

Blackdog’s Chocolate Oatmeal Stout

Posted in American Craft Beer, Homebrew, Utah Beer by dailybeerproject on March 22, 2010

It was a great weekend from a beer drinking standpoint. Over the next couple of days, I’ll post reviews of the beers I sampled, but I’m going to do it in order of awesomeness, which happens to be reverse order of consumption.

First up, we have Blackdog’s Chocolate Oatmeal Stout. This is my friend’s home brewed beer, and finally brings to a close phase one of the project–I had committed to sample a home brew but never got around to it until now. After sampling the Captain Bastard’s, I was almost convinced that I didn’t really like stouts (the deliciousness of Guiness on tap notwithstanding). Then I went to Rooster’s and changed my mind. Then I sampled this and changed my mind even more. So what I think it comes down to is that there’s no particular style of beer that I dislike, there are just beers I like and beers I don’t. This home brew is definitely a beer I like.

Let’s start with the bottle. It came in a Grolsch bottle, with a little lever that I flipped to open the plastic top. Admit it, it’s more fun to open a bottle that has a unique top than just twisting or popping the top off. With a unique top, the beer has character before you even taste it (though if you bother with a unique top, the beer better be good enough to live up to it).

The pour was dark and kind of thick (in a good way), and the head had a darker tan color rather than the creamy color of a Guiness. It smelled awesome, and it tasted even more awesome. The flavor was complex yet balanced. And while alcohol content was around 8%, there was no harsh or bitter flavor as a result. This is the kind of beer where you drink one, and then just sit and smile contentedly for the next couple hours, contemplating the awesome delicousness of what you’ve just drunk.

Next up: Chimay Red

Miller High Life

Posted in Macrobrews by dailybeerproject on March 18, 2010

I’ve tried Coors. I’ve tried PBR. I’ve tried Budweiser. Figured I may as well round out the big macrobrews by sampling Miller.

If you pay attention to the advertising, Miller is positioning itself as a working man’s beer. The High Life man enters high-end establishments, removes the Miller, and redistributes it to places where working men and women go to drink it. Not that the high-end establishments tend to serve Miller, but you get the point.

The packaging of Miller also reflects the bang for the buck mentality. At the convenience store, where all the other macrobrews are sold in 24 ounce cans for about $2, Miller sells a 32 ounce can for that price.

Honestly, 32 ounces of Miller is too much. I’ll admit that I enjoy cheap macrobrews when thirst quenching ability is prioritized over taste, but life is too short to drink beer I don’t enjoy. PBR and Budweiser both taste better. Miller is nice if you want a 30 pack for $16.99, but I don’t. I don’t want a 30 pack of anything. Rating: not awesome.

Roosters

Posted in American Craft Beer, Roosters, Utah Beer by dailybeerproject on March 17, 2010

The nice thing about having a friend that works near Roosters is having someone to meet at the brewpub. The nice thing about drinking at the brewpub is samplers. Roosters has six year-round beers plus two seasonals, and while, according to my self-imposed rules of the project, I only needed to try the year-round offerings, they have a paddle that carries up to eight samples, so that’s what we both ordered.

I’d already tried the Heavenly Cream Ale, but since it’s awesome, I included it among my samples. It’s still awesome. In addition to the Heavenly Cream, here’s what I think of the other beers:

  • Honey Wheat: A decent wheat beer. Not bad for the category, but I’m not crazy about the category. Rating: good.
  • Polygamy Pale Ale: Described by the brewery as aromatic and bitter. I don’t disagree. Unfortunately a tad too hoppy for my taste. Falls short of awesome, but it’s good.
  • Diamondback Ale: I’m not sure how a copper ale differs from an amber ale, but Roosters offers both, so apparently there’s a difference. Nothing spectacular about this beer, but nothing not to like either. Rating: good.
  • Two-Bit Amber: A lot like Evolution Amber–nothing distinctive about this beer. I wouldn’t drive all the way to Roosters for it, but it’s still good.
  • Junction City Chocolate Stout: I’m not a huge fan of stouts unless they’re really good. And this one is really good. In fact, it’s awesome. Porcupine keeps it on tap. I can see why.
  • Lay’n Lager: This seasonal is a nice, sour lager that’s distinctive without being unpleasant. As lagers go, it’s on par with Bohemian’s Czech pilsner, but I’d say a step behind Wasatch’s First Amendment. I expect it’ll stay a seasonal, but it’s good.
  • Irish Stout: A seasonal for St. Patrick’s day, or at least I presume so. I had it a day early. Roosters seems to have a way with stouts, as this was quite tasty. The bubbles in the head were inconsistent in size, with some being quite large. The foam was also dark, darker than Guiness and similar to Captain Bastard’s. The flavor of the beer was smoky and bold and bitter and pleasant and awesome. So good that in honor of St. Patrick’s day, I followed the sample with a pint.

My overall take on Roosters? Awesome name, good beer. Not quite as good as Squatters or Bohemian, but better than Uinta and way, way better than Tracks. I don’t get up that way too often, but it’s good to have options if I am.

Squatters Organic Amber & Uinta Hefeweizen

Posted in American Craft Beer, Squatters, Uinta Brewing, Utah Beer by dailybeerproject on March 17, 2010

With phase two well underway, I’m drinking faster than I’m writing. So I have some catch up to do. The first beer I’ll do is the last beer in the Squatters rotation: Organic Amber Ale. All things considered, this is an awesome beer. It’s 100% organic. They don’t charge a premium for it. And it tastes good. It’s not the best amber I’ve had (Fat Tire gets that distinction). It’s not even the best local amber I’ve had (Dead Horse gets that distinction). But it’s still awesome. And it’s readily available in bottles in pretty much every grocery store as well as the Beer Store. What’s not to like about that?

Last weekend, I also sampled the Hefeweizen from Uinta. I’m not a huge fan of Uinta’s other beers that I’ve tried. I’m also not a huge fan of hefeweizens. Yet this one bucks the trend in both regards, because it’s also awesome. In fact, it’s one of the best hefeweizens I’ve had. It’s not boring or bland–it’s just got a nice, balanced flavor. A very pleasant surprise indeed, considering when I ordered it my intent was just to cross it off the list.

Tracks Brewing & Captain Bastard’s

Posted in American Craft Beer, Not Beer, Squatters, Tracks Brewing, Utah Beer by dailybeerproject on March 13, 2010

Continuing phase two of the project, I needed to head a bit off the beaten path to visit Tracks Brewing Company. And since I have a friend who works at an army base out in the desert and Tracks is somewhere in between, we agreed to meet there Friday after work.

Neither of us had been there before, so we both started with the sampler. The first thing we sampled was the Light Rail, which the brewery describes as “lightly hopped, light bodied, American Light Lager with a nice malty finish, smooth going down and comparable to other light beers.” Which in real life means it tastes like Budweiser. Except Budweiser is better. We should have known we were dealing with an incompetent brewery when on the website, this lager is called Light Rail Ale. Other clues to the incompetence should have been that the place was empty at 5:30 on a Friday and that there were advertisements on the walls for Bud Light and Corona.

It didn’t get better from there. The Incinerator Pale Ale, which is described as “a very hoppy beer, emulating the traditional IPA” had almost no discernible flavor of hops to it. It was like a not-very-hoppy amber. The Tooele Tar stout just tasted like burnt malt. And the hefeweizen tasted like Country Time lemonade from a mix that had had a piece of toast dipped in it. They talked up the Agent Amber Ale, but it was just as disappointing as everything else. To top it off, they didn’t even have a drink menu, and the waitress was wholly unable to even describe anything about the beers, in one case not even remembering the full name or style of what she was serving to us.

I ended up ordering a pint of the IPA just to have something to drink. And in order to keep the night from being a total waste, I thought I’d follow SYJ’s advice from my whiskey post and try Jameson’s. Since I hadn’t finished my beer, I’m pretty sure the waitress violated one of our whacky state liquor laws by serving me more than one drink at a time.

The Jameson’s was actually much, much better than the Jack or that Canadian crap I tried a while ago. Not sure it’s something I’d ever really get into, but I could see myself ordering it again in the future. Much more pleasant going down without the volatile aftertaste I had previously.

All six beers I tried at Tracks were pretty much not awesome. Had I not been so disappointed with everything else, I may have rated the IPA as good, but since I’d hardly call it an IPA, and I’d never go all the way out there just to have it, I’ll leave the not awesome tag on all of them. They just hired a new brewmaster about a month ago. I hope he’s got some skill and can get that place turned around.

When I got back home, I didn’t want to end the evening with such a lousy beer drinking experience, so I opened a bottle of Captain Bastard’s oatmeal stout from Squatters. I wish I would have liked it more than I did. Although it was better than the Tooele Tar, it was still not something I’d ever buy again, so I guess it also gets a rating of not awesome.

Here’s hoping that the worst of phase two is now behind me.