Daily beer project


Posted in Imports by dailybeerproject on January 20, 2011

I sampled Tetley’s as part of a black and tan a few weeks ago, noting “I imagine I’d like it straight up,” which it turns out I do. It’s good, not out of this world fantastic, but highly drinkable. It’s a typical English pale ale, a little more flavorful than Bass, but a little more subtle in its flavors than a typical American pale ale. Good beer, especially considering it comes from one of the largest brewing conglomerates in the world, and a safe choice if you don’t recognize anything else on the beer menu and aren’t feeling adventurous.



About a year ago, I began this project in an attempt to learn to like beer. It was a new year’s resolution of sorts. I had no idea at the time how far this would go. What began as 30 beers in 30 days led to a total of 229 beers, including 113 Utah-made beers, 67 non-Utah domestic brews, 47 imports, and 2 home-brews.

If you read some of my early posts, you can see just how far I’ve come. No question, my tastes have evolved–beers I didn’t like early, I love now. Beers I liked early aren’t as exciting now. The journey, though, has been amazing.

My experience with beer has been an inch deep and a mile wide–very few are the beers I’ve tried more than once. That said, a few stand out as favorites. Here they are:

Go-to Utah Beer: Bohemian Czech Pilsner. This was a tough decision, as there are a lot of good beers made in Utah, Full Suspension, Chasing Tail, First Amendment, and WYLD among them. But ultimately I chose Bohemian because 1) it’s good; 2) it’s readily available, both on tap, and at the grocery store; 3) it comes in cans–cans are a better way to store and transport beer than bottles.

Favorite Utah Beer: Epic Sour Apple Saison. This is the Utah-made beer I most enjoyed drinking. It’s expensive, so it’s more of a special occasion beer, but in terms of highlighting the skill of Utah brewers, this may be the best example.

Favorite Import: Traquair Jacobite Scottish Ale. And to think, I may have not sampled this one had my first choice been available. It’s one of the most expensive beers at the liquor store, but well worth it for a special occasion.

Favorite Domestics: This is hard. The unintended outcome of this project has been a real passion for American Craft Beer. It would be hard if I just had to name my favorite beer from Oregon, which in my mind is the epicenter of craft beer. Dale’s Pale Ale is worthy of a nod because it’s way good and comes in cans. But I can’t get it locally. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is always good and is readily available, but it doesn’t stand above the crowd in any regard. Deschutes ESB is one of the best beers I’ve had on tap, but finding it is a huge challenge–they didn’t even offer it on tap out of Woody. McTarnahan’s Bah Humbug’r is my favorite porter, but it’s a seasonal offering, and I don’t think I’d want to drink it in the summer. Ninkasi Believer Double Red Ale, Deschutes Jubelale, Rogue Dead Guy Ale, and Full Sail Wassail are all among the tastiest beers I’ve ever tried.

But if there’s one beer I’d want to have on hand at all times, one beer I don’t think I’d ever tire of drinking, with a nice balance of flavorful malt and hop bitterness, one beer that is as refreshing on a hot day as it is soothing on a cold one, that tastes great with pizza but doesn’t feel out of place with a fine meal, that’s readily available and priced reasonably enough to drink every day, that’s approachable and easy to share with people who aren’t beer geeks, that one beer is Full Sail Amber Ale. It’s not the most notable beer in any one regard, it’s just a solid beer that does everything well.

Thankfully, I don’t have to limit myself to just one beer. Here’s to 2011 and hopefully many more.

Black and tan

Posted in Imports, Macrobrews by dailybeerproject on December 31, 2010

Trite. Really what’s the point of a beer cocktail? Nevertheless, curiosity got the best of me, so I ordered a black and tan made from Guiness and Tetley’s. I like Guiness served on tap. Hadn’t had Tetley’s, but I imagine I’d like it straight up. Interestingly, although the beers were poured into the same glass and were more or less blended, the flavor of each was somewhat distinct and identifiable. It was as though the flavors were alternating in my mouth. Which was kind of cool.

I probably won’t order one again, but it was fun to try. I will, however, try a Tetley’s on its own. Probably next time I go to Piper Down for the pub quiz, in fact.

Santa’s Little Helper

Posted in American Craft Beer, Imports by dailybeerproject on December 15, 2010

Cascade Lakes Brewery Santa’s Little Helper: Prior to visiting Bend, I had not heard of Cascade Lakes Brewery. It was located near where I was staying, and I drove past every day, stopping one evening for dinner. I ordered the Santa’s Little Helper, their winter seasonal. It’s a wonderful beer. 6.4% abv and 50 IBU make for a nicely balanced beer, and crystal, chocolate, and honey on the grain bill make for a rich, complex malt.

Cascade Lakes Brewery Paulina Lake Pilsner: Very different than the Santa’s Little Helper, this would make a good transition beer for the Bud Light drinker looking to explore the world of craft beer. The hops are more noticeable and the flavor more sour than in an American lager, enough so to keep it interesting to a beer snob without putting off someone used to stuff that is best summed up with a quote on the menu at the Bayou “Light beer is for people who don’t like the flavor of beer and who like to pee a lot.” It’s a lot like Session lager and something I wouldn’t hesitate to buy again.

Deschutes Brewery Green Lakes Organic Ale: This Deschutes beer isn’t available locally, but I wish it were. It’s a lovely beer, described as an amber, though oddly, comes in a little higher in IBU (45) than Mirror Pond (40). Not that I’m complaining. Had this on tap from Woody, and it was great. It’s a highly versatile beer, as ambers tend to be, and I can’t imagine a beer drinker that wouldn’t like it.

Samuel Smith Winter Welcome Ale: I’ve enjoyed exploring the range of winter seasonals and seeing how different breweries interpret the style. This one is very similar to an ESB, with a noticeable hop presence typical of an English IPA (not an American IPA, which tends to be much hoppier), but with a richer, more robust malt flavor. I wasn’t crazy about it at first, thought I had served it too warm (it was probably around 50 degrees). Interestingly, as I sipped it and it warmed further, I liked it more and more. By the end, I didn’t want to be done. And if it were priced locally the way it is in England, I’d solve that problem by purchasing more. But since Full Sail Wassail can be had for less than $8 for a six pack, it’s hard to spend nearly twice that for something I like about the same.

Sierra Nevada Celebration: Sierra Nevada’s take on a winter seasonal is similar to that of Full Sail’s Wreck the Halls. They describe it as an IPA right on the label, and that’s what it tastes like. But the thing I like about many of these winter seasonals is that they’re not IPAs or ambers or really anything else you can get year-round. They’re a unique offering that just tastes like what you should be drinking in cold weather. Which is not to say you shouldn’t be drinking Celebration if you have a chance.

Porters and more

Posted in American Craft Beer, Imports, Squatters, Utah Beer by dailybeerproject on December 1, 2010

While my London-based colleauge was in town, we went to the Bayou. He had the Galloway Porter from Epic. He mentioned it didn’t taste like a traditional English porter. Which prompted me to wonder what a traditional English porter tastes like (and how it’s different from the American porters). Porters aren’t my favorite style, but I’ll admit I haven’t put much effort into appreciating them, either. So I decided to make some inroads into appreciating porters. The Meantime porter my colleague recommended wasn’t available at the Bayou (and as of last weekend still isn’t), but I found a couple of others I thought I might like.

The original English porter is a blend of an old (stale or sour) ale, a new brown or pale ale, and a mild ale. If you blended these, you’d end up with something no darker than Newcastle Brown Ale. If you’ve drunk a porter lately, you know it wasn’t that color. 

Modern porters are brewed as porters rather than made as a blend of other beers. They typically use some black and or chocolate or smoked brown malt. And according to Dave from Desert Edge, it doesn’t take much in the way of a dark malt to color a beer. Hence the deep, dark, opaque color of most porters.

Porters tend to have a little less burnt flavor than stouts, and perhaps this is because porters rarely use roasted (unmalted) barley, whereas this is a mainstay of stouts. Unmalted barley will have very little sweetness, as malting converts starch to sugar, which is why stouts have such a dry flavor. A black malt will still have the sweetness from the malting process while still bringing out dark color and rich flavor. Nevertheless, I still struggle a bit to distinguish a porter from a stout, and indeed the origins of the two styles are quite intertwined.

Samuel Smith’s Taddy Porter: Samuel Smith’s isn’t the Anheuser Busch of England, but it might be the Samuel Adams (or perhaps Sam Adams is the Sam Smith of America). According to my colleague, it’s ubiquitous and cheap. In England, at least. Here it’s ubiquitous and expensive. North of $2 for a 12 ounce bottle expensive. But for the sake of science, I bought a bottle.

It poured a dark, coffee color, deep brown and opaque. It smell very toasty, with very little hopping. Flavor was rich and dark, as you’d expect. And what my colleague said notwithstanding, I couldn’t tell any difference between this English porter and it’s American cousins. But it was good, something I’d likely come to appreciate if I paid it more attention.

Deschutes Black Butte Porter: This, along with Mirror Pond Pale Ale, is one of Deschutes brewery’s signature beers. With good reason. I can’t imagine someone who likes porters not liking this beer. Like the Samuel Smith’s, it was toasty with very little hops. It had a hint of sweetness to it that provided a nice balance to the dark flavors, sort of like dark chocolate. I liked it, enough that I’d buy it again.

Deschutes Mirror Pond Pale Ale: While shopping for the Black Butte, I realized I’d never reviewed Mirror Pond. According to the Deschutes website, it’s got 40 IBUs. But it tastes hoppier than that. Their Inversion IPA is 80 IBUs, and while it’s more bitter, it didn’t taste twice as bitter. Mirror Pond is also 5.0% abv, on the low end for American pale ales. I wonder if that affects the perceived bitterness. Either way, I’d rate this a good beer, but not awesome. Considering  it costs more than Sierra Nevada or Full Sail but to me isn’t any better, it’s probably not something I’ll regularly buy at the local store, but I wouldn’t refuse it, either.

Deschutes Jubelale: I’m a sucker for seasonals. It’s not like I’ve tried every beer in the world, but I think knowing that a particular beer is a limited time engagement increases the sense of urgency to give it a try. This is a winter ale. I don’t know what that means, but it’s good. It’s deep and dark in color, similar to Epic’s Imperial Red. It took some getting used to, but by the end of the bottle, I was wishing for another. It’s got a rich malt flavor, a cloudy color, and a noticeable hop presence, clocking 60 IBUs, though the hop bitterness is offset quite a bit by the richness of the malt. Really just a perfect winter beer, ideal for when you come in out of the cold after skiing, and one I will definitely have again.

Skinner’s Betty Stoggs Bitter: Another English import, this one had been named best bitter in the Great Britain Beer Festival of 2008, so my expectations were high. Frankly I liked the St. Peters better. This beer is quite a lot like Full Suspension, which is a delightful beer, and which is also quite convenient since I can get Full Suspension at pretty much any grocery store or gas station in the state.

Traquair Jacobite Scottish Ale: I had this at the Bayou on the recommendation of our server. I’d never had a Scottish ale before and figured if I was going to have one, it ought to actually come from Scotland, not from a non-Scottish brewery mimicking the style (after all, if it’s not Scottish, it’s crap). It was surprising and different, a dark beer flavored with coriander. It was also delicious. At 8% abv, it was a knee wobbler, too. I was feeling it by the time the bottle was done. It wasn’t cheap, either. The 330 ml bottle ran $9 at the Bayou, a mere 40% markup from the retail price at the state store where it’s $5.11. Is it worth it? Believe it or not, yes. Definitely not every day, but as a special occasion beer, absolutely. And while it’s not a seasonal, it’s one I’d save for winter or cooler weather. It’s just too much for a summertime beer.

Squatter’s Nut Brown Ale: This is Squatter’s current seasonal offering at the brewpub. It’s tasty. Mostly malt in the flavor profile, with a very bready flavor and just enough hops to make it interesting, I look forward to having this one again. Another awesome choice for the season, it would be a good beer to fill a growler and take to a holiday party.

More Oktoberfest

Posted in American Craft Beer, Epic Brewing, Imports, Roosters, Uinta Brewing, Utah Beer by dailybeerproject on November 19, 2010

I’ve had a chance to sample a few more Oktoberfest beers lately. And even some not Oktoberfest seasonals. Here they are:

Roosters Oktoberfest: Had this on tap at Porcupine. It’s a very typical Marzen/Oktoberfest beer, with the malt more prominent than the hops and the malt being mostly sweet and caramel rather than roasty or sour. Really tasty, enjoyable beer and versatile enough that you could pair it with a wide variety of foods. I had it again a week or two later and wasn’t as crazy about it as I was the first time, but it could have been the circumstances, drinking it from a plastic cup at an outdoor event. Still awesome.

Epic Marzen: Another one that’s heavy on the malt, actually quite similar to the Rooster’s but maybe had a bit more sourness. I enjoyed this one thoroughly.

Ayinger Oktoberfest: This is a German import from a Munich brewery, so they should know what they are doing. They do. At 5.8% abv, it was similar to the Epic in strength, though, interestingly, the Rooster’s at 4% didn’t taste weak by comparison. Just another solid offering that I imagine would be better still enjoyed on tap in Munich rather than bottled and served after a long ocean voyage.

St. Peters Ordinary Bitters: Another illegal import from my London-based colleague, this (along with another bottle I haven’t tried yet) is an example of a typical pub beer in England. I would like drinking beer in England. I know lots of beer drinkers have a fondness for Belgium or even Germany or Czech Republic. But the English beers seem to suit my preferences best. They favor hops over malt, which I enjoy. And they’re brewed to be session beers to be enjoyed in a pub. If only these local pub offerings weren’t so hard to get.

Uinta Bristlecone Brown Ale: This is a fall seasonal, and I’ll admit I wasn’t crazy about it. Just didn’t taste like there was much to it. Very little hops, and the malt was just sort of flat and one-dimensional.

Uinta/Four+ Punk’n: Another fall seasonal, pumpkin-flavored ale. It sounds like a good idea–pumpkin bread, right?–until you think about it. And then you realize that flavoring beer with things other than malt and hops is not likely to end well. For me, this one didn’t. But it has its fans, which is also fine. Drinking beer is about enjoyment, and there’s enough diversity in the beer universe to make almost anyone happy.

Peter’s brand lager

Posted in Imports by dailybeerproject on September 28, 2010

This is labeled a Dutch-style Pilsner lager, and it comes in a pint can. It’s on the malty side, similar to a Belgian ale. The malt is caramel and rich for its golden color, with less sour than other imported lagers. I wasn’t blown away by it, but it was good enough that I’d gladly have it again.

Just for grins, I poured some over vanilla ice cream for a float. The Bayou serves floats made with Guiness, which I think would be a little better. But this was still tasty, albeit more as a novelty than a legitimate dessert.

Revisiting Stella

Posted in Imports, Macrobrews by dailybeerproject on September 5, 2010

With phase 2 wrapped up and my taste in beer having evolved somewhat in the process, I decided I’d go back and revisit some beers I tried early on to see if my opinion had changed. I already did this with Sierra Nevada, and considering that’s now one of my favorites, it seems worth doing with others.

Stella Artois was a beer I tried early on, and while I didn’t dislike it, I wasn’t crazy about it either. Considering it’s one of my brother’s favorites (may still be top of his list), I decided to revisit it. Glad I did. It’s very much a European, Pilsner-style lager. Belgium is famous for it’s ales, but like most of the rest of the world, lager beer is the majority of consumption. Outside Belgium, Stella is promoted as an international brand, but domestically it’s just another lager and lags behind its sister brand Jupiler in sales. It’s owned by AB Inbev (think Budweiser), so it’s a macrobrew if ever there was one. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t good.

Coming as it does from a big brewery, it’s not surprising that it’s less-hoppy than some other Pilsners. I like the hoppier versions better, but this is still awesome. With less hops, the sourness of the malt comes through a bit more. The sourness takes some getting used to (or at least it did for me), but it has a refreshing, thirst-quenching quality that I enjoy. The downside is that it’s nearly $2 for an 11.2 ounce bottle. Considering there are other beers I like just as well for less, it probably won’t become part of the regular rotation. But certainly something I’d reach for when in the mood for an import.

St. Peter’s India Pale Ale

Posted in Imports by dailybeerproject on August 27, 2010

Just as the Landlord Strong Pale Ale was a bit milder than pale ales typically produced by American craft brewers, so too was this English-made India Pale Ale. At 5.5% abv, it has about the same alcohol content as most American pale ales, and was lower still than most American-made IPAs.

All of which is not necessarily a bad thing. IPAs have their own unique appeal, but they don’t need to take the enamel off of your teeth in order to be good. As I mentioned in my previous post, session beers have a certain allure that one simply doesn’t get from a really strong beer. And while this isn’t really a session beer, it wasn’t so strong that having more than one or two would be irresponsible.

The strength of the beer is irrelevent if it doesn’t taste good. Like the Landlord, the hops weren’t so strong that you couldn’t taste the malt, which was sweet and caramel. The hops were quite fruity, so while there was definitely bitter, it wasn’t all that you tasted. Overall, an awesome combination, and again, something I’d love to drink again if I could find it around here.

Landlord Strong Pale Ale

Posted in Imports by dailybeerproject on August 25, 2010

Utah beer drinkers accustomed to 4% abv beer would feel right at home in England, as most beer served in English pubs comes in between 3-5% abv, with an average of about 4%. Landlord Strong Pale Ale from Timothy Taylor Brewery is a typical pale ale, a bit darker and hoppier than an English bitter, with alcohol content at 4.1%. All of the beers made by the Timothy Taylor brewery are between 3.5% and 4.3% abv–session beers, beers you can sit at the pub and have a few of without staggering home. 

This beer poured a medium amber color (or should I say colour?), with a really thin head that dissipated quite quickly. I poured it and had the first sip right out of the fridge, but the recommended serving temperature is 54-58 degrees. That seemed really warm to me, but I took it out to the garage to sip as I did some work on my bike. I drank it over the course of an hour or so, and indeed, the flavor improved as it warmed. By the end it was probably right around 55-60 degrees, and I’d say the sweet spot was cooler than that. But perhaps the English palate is more attuned to the warmer temperature than I am.

Either way, this beer was delicious and awesome. Very much a session beer, even though I just had the one. My wife referred to it as a good “weekday beer,” which I think is a good assessment–something to enjoy at the end of the day.

The hops weren’t nearly as strong as they are in a lot of American pale ales, but they were noticeable without overwhelming the malt. The malt was sweet with just a hint of sour and caramel, which made for a nice aroma and flavor. Overall a really great beer and one I’d gladly have again if I didn’t need to cross the Atlantic to get it.