Daily beer project

Epic 825 State Stout & The Vesper

Posted in American Craft Beer, Epic Brewing, Not Beer, Utah Beer by dailybeerproject on July 27, 2010

825 State Stout: Another bottle of Epic down the hatch. And it’s a good one. Awesome, even. One of the best bottled stouts I’ve had. Malt is dark without tasting burnt, with just enough hops to balance things out. I don’t think of summer as stout season, but in this case worth making an exception.

The Vesper Martini: I realize Alex has poured a line in the sand with regard to ice and martinis. I also realize that, according to Alex and pretty much all martinophiles, vodka is not an ingredient in a martini. But the other night the wife and I were watching From Russia with Love, so I decided to mix up 007’s signature drink. Or at least the closest I could come with the ingredients I had on hand.

3 measures Gordon’s (I used Boodle’s)

1 measure vodka

1/2 measure Kina Lillet (I didn’t have Kina Lillet, so I used dry vermouth. Grand Marnier may have been a better substitute. May have tasted better, too.)

Shook it very well and poured into a frosted martini glass with a large, thin slice of lemon peel.

Let me just say that I understand why Alex says no ice and no vodka in martinis. His rationale is that if you go to the trouble of getting a good-quality gin like Boodle’s, you don’t want to dillute the flavor. But let me counter that I can see why people add ice and vodka to martinis. Because to the uninitiated, gin can taste as potent as jet fuel, and the vodka and water from the ice mellow things out just enough to keep the gin from being overwhelming.

And while I like martinis both ways–even if purists don’t consider the Vesper a true martini–I have a definite preference for the lemon peel over the olive. In the future, I’ll drink true martinis when I’m with Alex, but I’ll continue to mix Vespers when I’m watching James Bond movies.

Amstel Light, Session Lager, and Revisiting Sierra Nevada Pale Ale

Posted in American Craft Beer, Imports, Macrobrews by dailybeerproject on July 21, 2010

Amstel Light: The Amstel Gold Race is one of the spring classics on the Pro Tour cycling calendar. The race takes its name from the title sponsor, Amstel Brewery. And any beer that sponsors a bike race is worth trying at least once.

Amstel was bought by Heineken in 1968, and Heineken offers four different beers under the Amstel brand. Amstel Light is the only one available locally, presumably because at 3.5% abv, it is the only one that meets our wacky local liquor laws regarding what can and cannot be purchased in the grocery store.

The low alcohol content also keeps the calorie content down, so Amstel Light has all of 95 calories per bottle. Michelob Ultra positions itself as a beer for the active, health-conscious crowd, but if I’m limiting myself to 95 calories, I’ll choose the Amstel Light 100% of the time. And while my beer-drinking philosophy is that I’d rather drink fewer good beers than a few more that are lacking in flavor, I still might be curious enough to do back-to-back taste tests with Amstel Light, Coors Light, and Sam Adams Light.

Session Lager: Given that I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve tried that’s come out of the Full Sail brewery, when I visited their website and discovered they also make Session Lager, I figured I needed to give it a go as well. Glad I did, because it’s awesome.

Session comes in short, squat, eleven ounce bottles that sell for about a buck a piece at the local liquor store. It’s an attempt at re-creating the pre-prohibition American lager, and according to the company, is neither micro, macro, nor import, but a little of each, and intended to appeal to drinkers of all three. I can’t imagine how it wouldn’t. Perfect beer for sipping on the porch when the temperature has finally started coming down on a hot summer day.

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale (revisited): This is a beer I wanted to like very early in this project but didn’t. I’m happy to report that I like it now. I was in Idaho for a bike race and had dinner after the race at a restaurant that had Sierra Nevada on tap. Wow. Beer on tap is oh-so-good, and had I not been racing again the next day, I would have ordered another. And perhaps another still.

I also had one in the fridge when I got home the next day, so I tried it to see how well the bottled version compared. Yum again. I’m really coming to embrace and love the hoppiness of pale ales, to the point that some really malty beers that are light on the hops have become less appealing. Glad there’s no shortage of craft brewers making pale ale. I think I’ll revisit some of the local >4% abv beers that I tried and wasn’t crazy about early in this project.

Red Rock

Posted in American Craft Beer, Red Rock, Utah Beer by dailybeerproject on July 14, 2010

Rounded out the offerings at Red Rock over the weekend. We’re pretty spoiled around here to have so many good, local breweries.

Hefeweizen: Good, but not great. Didn’t really stand out as anything special, just a standard wheat beer.

Belgian Wit: Wasn’t crazy about this one. Too malty for me–felt like it coated the back of my throat as I drank it. The lone not awesome offering from Red Rock, though I’m sure plenty of people really like it.

Raspberry Wheat: Didn’t expect to like this one, but I really did. Instead of being off-putting, the fruitiness of the raspberry was pleasant and refreshing. Awesome.

IPA: Again, I’m of the opinion that it can’t be a real IPA if the abv is only 4%, but that doesn’t change the fact that this is an awesome beer. Balanced and flavorful with strong but not overpowering hops.

Dunkelweizen: Wasn’t sure what I’d think of this one, but I was pleasantly surprised. Not my favorite, but a good beer that would hold up well when paired with food.

Oatmeal Stout: Another suprise–this one was awesome. Beer served on tap is always better than bottled, but I’m convinced that the difference is more noticeable with stouts. I haven’t been too crazy about a lot of bottled stouts but have quite liked many of the local offerings on tap.

Amber Ale: This was the only one that I had a pint of rather than just a sampler. Glad I did because this one was awesome. Just what you want in an amber with medium malt and body and mild but balanced hops.

Phase two of this project is getting close to wrapping up. I need to try a few more beers from Desert Edge and sample five more from Epic (if I can get them!) and that will be it. If I try a couple seasonals that aren’t presently available, I will have sampled 100 beers made in the state of Utah. Most of them are beers I would happily have again.

Three more from Epic + Torpedo IPA + Two more from Desert Edge + Bookers

Posted in American Craft Beer, Desert Edge, Epic Brewing, Not Beer, Utah Beer by dailybeerproject on July 7, 2010

Seems as if I’ve completely departed from the daily format and now just update weekly. Or every-other-weekly. But better a bunch at once than not at all, I guess. Since my last post, I’ve sampled three more beers from Epic, another from Sierra Nevada, two from Desert Edge, and Bookers Bourbon. In that order:

Epic Smoked and Oaked: I was really excited about this one just because it sounded so unique and exotic. The beer is smoked and then fermented in oak barrels. Unfortunately, the smoke was overwhelming. So much so as to garner a not awesome rating. Sorry Epic. I feel guilty dealing you a not awesome rating, but I’d turn this beer down, even if offered for free. The good news, though, is that what was left in the bottle that I didn’t drink made a great brazing liquid for a pot roast. The pot roast was seriously awesome. Not worth buying a bottle of this beer just for brazing purposes awesome, but awesome nonetheless.

Epic Belgian-style Wit: Another one I was excited about only to be disappointed after drinking it. It was just too malty for me. Needed some hops to balance things out a bit, but as it was, the malt sort of stuck in the back of my throat. I’ll rate it good, as if it were offered, I wouldn’t turn it down. But not one I’ll rush over to buy as soon as it’s in the cooler. After sampling this I came away wondering if the really lightly-hopped Belgians just aren’t for me. Am I becoming a hop head?

Epic Copper Cone Pale Ale: I got the second-last bottle they had of this in the cooler the Friday before 4th of July weekend. Glad I did. Unequivocally awesome. And I think indicative of the gradual shift in my palate that I was excited about the Belgian Wit but nervous about this one. I loved this beer. Very hoppy, but very, very good. Shared this with Alex over some awesome appetizers his wife made, and it was a delight. I’ll grab more of the next batch for certain.

Sierra Nevada Torpedo IPA: I bought this one by accident. I was interested in revisiting the Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. Both have green labels, both were adjacent one another at the liquor store, and I just grabbed the wrong one. And I’m glad I did. I was nervous to try it, since I wasn’t crazy about the Pale Ale first go around. This one should have made me very nervous, what with 65 IBUs versus 37 in the Pale Ale. But you know what, I liked loved it. Which maybe does confirm that I’m becoming a hop head. We’ll see.

Desert Edge Utah Pale Ale: Had this as a sampler at Stella Grill, which is an affiliate of Desert Edge Brewery. It’s somewhere in between the Trader IPA from Uinta and Full Suspension from Squatters in flavor. Medium in color and on the hoppy side, but well-balanced and refreshing. Good but maybe short of awesome, but I’d have no qualms drinking it again. Or going to Stella again, for that matter.

Desert Edge Road Range Rye: I guess I have a weakness for rye beers. I had the bartender at Bohemian tell me that he and most of the staff didn’t care for theirs, but I love it. Same for Desert Edge. Very good stuff, and a good beer to have with food. I started with a sampler of this and the UPA, and I chose this for the full pint. But it was a tough call because I liked both. Awesome beer, though Desert Edge and Bohemian should get together to disambiguate the names of their respective rye beers.

Bookers bourbon: Since my first foray into whiskey, my tastes have really come around. To the point that I now keep a bottle of Jameson’s in the house. Jameson’s on the rocks can be just the ticket to help unwind at the end of a stressful day. I’ve been looking forward to seeing how Booker’s compares. Is it as good? And if it is better, is it worth paying twice as much?

So when I recently found myself watching a World Cup match at a bar that serves Bookers, I gave it a go. And it’s good. Very smooth and mellow without being in any way weak or unpleasant. Something I would indulge in if it weren’t so expensive. But as good as it is, it’s not twice as good as my favorite alternative, Jameson’s. So I’ll stick with the Irish whiskey when I’m in the mood for whiskey. For now.