Thursday, December 29, 2011

Hitachino Nest Japanese Classic Ale is, well, a hit! #craftbeer

According to the bottle, this is the Japanese take on India Pale Ale and it's not half bad.

As you can see, it's a rich burned orange color with a quickly thinning crop of foam. There's a very subtle fruit aroma here (kiwi/under ripe mango? [Coincidentally, I have a cold]; Rachel says grapefruit) that carries no ill will.

It's a very smooth drinker too. A not too sharp bitterness fades away into a strong caramel backbone and very crisp dryness on the sides and back on the tongue. Overall, a very nice beer.


P.S. the dimple mug (in the photo) I received this Christmas; it was one of my grandfather's mugs. Saludos, mi abuelo!

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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Well, I guess I'm on the nice list #craftbeer

Mere Christmas everybody!

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Monday, December 12, 2011

What beer pairs with broccoli, fries, nuggets & salad?

I don't know what can stand up against that line up, but I'm glad I had Old Peculier on-hand. This is a lovely ale from England. Fresh brewed coffee brown in color, subtlety hopped, and a very rich malt back, this was a fine beer ripe with chewy caramel and a bready baked zip.

I'm gonna give this a firm 8/10. I like it a lot.

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Friday, December 9, 2011

@duclawbrewing You have such Divine parties, you know...

Well, it took 4 stores, but I am happy to say that I will be partying down with 167 of my friends as part of the lucky few who scored a bottle of Divine Retribution: a 60/40 blend of Retribution & Colossus!

Merry Christmas to me!

Now who's coming over for a tasting?!?

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Sunday, December 4, 2011

Rodenbach Grand Cru, perfection captured

I am simply amazed by this. I have had a bottle of Rodenbach Grand Cru in the fridge now, for a few months, and tonight with our pork tenderloin turned pork barbecue, this ruby beer embraced the sweet of the sugars, the tang of the vinegar, and the richness of the meat. I could not have selected a better brew to pair.

That exquisite flavor bolsters this beer into my pantheon of the top ten beers I have the honor of drinking. I almost want to cry.


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Friday, December 2, 2011

@NewBelgium One of the year's finest!

Don't be fooled, this isn't black, it's mahogany! And, 1554 by New Belgium Brewing us one of the absolute finest beers I have had the pleasure of drinking in 2011! I encourage everyone to seek out this rich chocolatey ale, where the flavors of dried dark fruits- plums, prunes, raisins & cranberry- really shine. The beer has a pleasantly dry malt finish and I believe it's a solid drink for cold nights.

8/10. No less.

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@DuClawbrewing This is pretty badass!

As it turns out, a selection from our very own DuClaw was targeted by as their Craft Beer of the Day!

Sweet, sweet Devil's Milk for the win!

I'll have at least two more posts tomorrow, promise!

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Monday, November 21, 2011

A hearty round of applause

One of the breweries very local to me just received a wonderful honor - one of the top 25 beers of 2011!

Many congratulations to Brian over at Stillwater Artisinal Ales! There is a reason why I had bought three bottles of this elixir, it's amazing!

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Sunday, November 6, 2011

I'm not so sure about these 1-gallon recipes...

Don and I are trying this new-fangled idea this weekend of brewing micro, no, pico, no, femto, maybe, batches.

This is Brooklyn BrewShop's Mustard Brown Ale, and I use that loosely. I can't tell if the blame is mine or not. I guess I'll find out in 2 weeks.

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PS - now I'm drowning it away with the 21A's Monks Blood. Tasty craft can!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

It's National Learn to Homebrew Day!

Everyone, fire up those turkey fryer burners, get out the carboys, and call up the neighbors-it's AHA Learn to Homebrew Day!

Hopefully you are enjoying some wonderful weather and can pass along the knowledge of brewing wizardry this weekend. Even if you are unable, chilling out with a nice beer with friends is equally as nice!

(image courtesy of the AHA)
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Thursday, November 3, 2011

Celebrate the day with something dark!

November 3rd is International Stout Day! Take to the streets, Occupy the bars, and ask for some of the dark stuff.

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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

You call that an IPA?!?

For me, this orange-hued beer is the true definition of India Pale Ale: a pleasant, dry biscuity malt backbone with a healthy dosing of English hops. Balanced in all directions, and an inspiration for many new styles.

8/10, and as they say, "the sun never sets on the British Empire".

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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Saturday, October 29, 2011

A dinner with friends...

So, we were snowed in today, and couldn't get out.

Instead, we had dinner with Brian Stillwater (by proxy), and I have to say this American Farmhouse Ale, otherwise known as Cellar Door, is excellent!

It's a stunning blonde, with an enticing & effervescent spiciness that greets you with a soft herbal note and a nice maltiness. The modest use of Citra hops follow through with bright note rather than an aggressive bite.

Worth seeking out and enjoying.


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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Thanks for the memories!

This was a promotional video produced with Clay Pipe Brewing Company, my former, unequivocal, favorite local brewery- until they shut their doors.

Sure brings back the memories.

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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Economies of Ale

The Washington, DC edition of the City Paper has a very interesting article regarding the cost of pints of beer in the city (at various spots) compared to other regions- some local, some not.

It's a shame that beer brewed within the city limits is more expensive than a beer crafted on the other side of the continent, which has very far to travel to make if to the District.

On the same token of beer prices, expect to feel a pinch in your wallet soon, as beer prices are going up across the board.

Probrewer reported, recently, that barley production suffered a major blow in 2010, with crop yields lower than the total yield in 1936. You can certainly expect the brewers to pass the buck onto you, the consumer, as they have to in order to make the product we all love.

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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Sierra Nevada Pinkfoot Pilsner

A part of my own "Brewing for a cure" series.

I was going over my photo collection, and found this within:

Now, a fast scan through the Googles returns a Twitter hit from June, where this was on cask until tapped dry. The kicker is, I think it should be brewed & distributed nationwide during the month of October- for breast cancer awareness, and some proceeds going back to organizations researching & trying to find a cure.

Your thoughts?

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Saturday, October 15, 2011

Double your pleasure

This would be Ayinger Oktoberfest-Marzen, in a lovely 500 ml bottle.

The beer was quite refreshing with my lunch, of left-over pizza. The only knock against it would be a slight metallic taste I picked up, but very good overall.

If I left it at that, it'd get 7/10. What boosts this to 8/10 is the bottle cap.

You say, "What the hell? What is so special that it makes a beer score jump a point?" Well, my friends, this beer is the proud owner of the most beautiful beer cap I have ever seen. Judge for yourself:

I love the artwork on this cap, and honestly think it is worthy of the higher score.

Now, on to more dangerous things... Like another candidate for the

Most Dangerous Beer of 2011!

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you: Guinness Black Lager.

First, I pulled it from the fridge, and poured it in my favorite pilsner glass.

Second, I observed that, while this beer is from St. James's Gate, it's not quite black, just a supremely dark brown.

Third, the aroma is devoid of hopping, but does display a nice chocolate roast that carries through on the tongue.

Fourth, I find it helpful to read the label, especially when directed to drink right out of the bottle. Really? What will that demonstrate? That I can pound these like Miller Lites? Please!

I wish I had a fifth point... Well, Diageo, heeding your advice (that is, read the back label); I started drinking from the bottle, and yeah, this sure is a smooth beer.

You know that base-6 math is pretty cool? Man these are some great cheese puffs that Trader Joes makes. Theryer rich and cheesy. and ruch; sooo good. I wish there was anorther bottle.


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Friday, October 14, 2011

If you are free tomorrow

And even if you aren't!

Get down to Baltimore for the "crown jewel" of Baltimore Beer Week, the Chesapeake Real Ale Festival!

There will be an cask of characters, for sure!

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CAMRA: Stick to your guns!

I found the following article on Probrewer's forum, where the local CAMRA folks removed themselves from a beer event after the organizers announced a switch from glass to plastic drinkware. Representatives of the CAMRA branch said such a shift defeats the purpose of such an event, and withdrew.

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Monday, October 10, 2011

Gotta wash that Genny Cream off

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My first Genny Cream

I think it's the perfect accompaniment to turkey on white with white cheddar Cheetos on a paper plate. Booyah!

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Sunday, October 9, 2011

Get down to Max's!

Hurry and be one of the lucky few to get one of the 101 bottles of Stillwater Artisinal Ales' Olde Bay Saison!

Bottles go on sale at 10 AM!

Get me one!

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Friday, October 7, 2011

I love pumpkin-inspired beers

And I love fall!

Anyone know where I can find some baking pumpkins near central Maryland?


Also, tomorrow is the Maryland Brewer's Oktoberfest, at the Timonium Fairgrounds. It's always a blast, with a fun, family friendly environment. I will say it can get a touch crowded, but it's not unmanageable.

Of course, this is all a part of Baltimore Beer Week! I encourage everyone, go, support these local taverns, pubs, and breweries! They are doing their best by putting their passion into their product; do your part and say thanks!

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Monday, October 3, 2011


Oh my--strike up the band, I have found an absolutely incredible Fall ale.

A friend recently bought a pack of ale that he described as "Fall in your mouth". I can't agree more!

I'm talking about Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale.

This beer is burned orange in color with a shortbread tan, rocky head. It's aroma is straight pumpkin pie. I think I even get the caramelized pumpkin sweetness in the body. Also, a very nice effervescence that carries the spices through every sip.

It very well may be too much for some; but I think, for the craft beer drinker, this beer is spot on.

This beer is a rock-solid 9/10! If I gave half points, doubtless it'd get 9.5.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Double your pleasure...

Let's start with Secret Stash, which I found to be a wonderful compliment with black beans and habanero-lime soft tortillas.

It's a lovely honey gold that greets you with a floral, grapefruit nose. The underlying beer is very well built and toasty. Certainly worth a second buy. 8/10

And for dessert, I enjoy having a coffee; so, tonight, why not indulge with a Cappuccino Stout, from Pasadena, California?

Darker than an inkwell, fantastic roast both from the coffee and the ale, it just needs a hit of cream & sugar to be complete.

Lagunitas has presented a sweetly constructed beer. It's evident in the grain bill, with a healthy focus on some caramel malt to balance the roast, the hops, and the alcohol.

I want to add that this is a highly carbonated stout, which is uncharacteristic for the style, but is wonderful for this beer.

All put together, this is a great beer. A solid 8/10.

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Saturday, October 1, 2011

Winner, winner; chicken dinner!

Hey everyone! Here is the link to the list of 2011 Great American Beer Festival winners.

Let me congratulate everyone who won in their respective categories, with special attention to Rock Bottom Brewery, Bethesda; Gordon Biersch, Rockville; & Flying Dog for winning medals and bringing them back to Maryland!

Cheers to all, and here's to next year!

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Friday, September 30, 2011

Fat Tire!


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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

So, do you have $80B sitting around?

This is insane, absolutely insane-courtesy of Reuters:

- AB-InBev is looking to buy SABMiller for $80B, yes $80 billion.
- It would be the largest cash takeover in world history
- The megalith would then be responsible for brewing 33% of the world's beer.

Reuters: AB InBev seen brewing up final mega deal

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Saturday, September 24, 2011

Brewing for the Cure

Sorry I didn't post this earlier, but Maryland Homebrew and Flying Dog are holding a ladies-only home brewing competition, with the proceeds going to the Susan G. Komen Foundation for the Cure.

I think the competition is still open, with it being held on October 9.

The winners get a ride on the FD Winnebago and a personal tour of the brewery-pretty sweet!

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Friday, September 23, 2011

Cancelled: Maryland Microbrewery Festival

Unfortunately, Mother Nature doesn't want you to enjoy the 6th annual Maryland Microbrewery Festival, always held at the lovely Union Mills Homestead.

The organizers had to pull the plug due to the record rainfall we've experienced this month, and the threat of flash flooding.

Any advance ticket sales will be refunded through PayPal.

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How awesome is this?!?

Next locally grown craze: beer hops

In our try to really keep things local, I found this link yesterday from CNN where there is a resurgence on local hops farming.

The video focuses on a farm in NY, but here in MD, we have our own farmers starting hops.

As a matter of fact, Flying Dog like I said in a previous post, they just released Secret Stash, an ale that they intend to tweak every year; and gor the inaugural release, they used hops from Stillpoint Farm, where we paid a super brief visit.

I haven't had the opportunity to drink it yet, though I'll write a blurb on the beer shortly. I will say that the bottles I've given out from this sixer have landed rave reviews.
But, come out to Frederick, on Sunday to attend the FD yard sale: it's sure to be a hell of a party, rain or shine.

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This beer is the only one in my drinking career that has earned the most coveted position of being

The Worst Beer

I have ever had.

It has beaten Taj. It has beaten Fischer. It is a raw abomination.

I don't think I can blame the brewery, I simply think the bottle was done: the first sign of trouble: the cork pulled right out of the bottle with zero resistance. (I offer the evidence by the fact, in the photo, I have replaced the cork in the bottle.)

It smelled like wet, stale corn flakes, tasted like it was filtered before bottling by being poured through roadkill, and had an exceedingly delicate, light strawberry aftertaste.

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(Don't) Get some Sweet Action

Zero head retention on this one, and the same for the aroma. But, the first big gulp hits you with some nice grassy hops, followed by a very dry, crisp, almost astringent like finish without any aftertaste.

I have to say that this brew from Brooklyn, NY is very underwhelming; it has very little by the way of mouthfeel and seems thin.

Find some action elsewhere.


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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

This one's a keeper

Last night, my night cap consisted of Great Divide Titan IPA, which was bought on the suggestion of a friend.

The beer poured a brilliant honey-orange color with a dense beige head that lingered for a long time.

The aroma that is kicked off is, at first, like Greek yoghurt flavored with honey, which transforms into this resiny pine that you get when you walk into an older house, where the framework has dried out long ago.

Titan's flavor is very cracker like, with a dose of caramel sweetness. Overall very enjoyable.

I think this Greek earns a solid 8/10.

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Sunday, September 18, 2011

It doesn't get any more local than this

Flying Dog and a few other breweries have started to use locally grow Maryland hops in their beers. I'm happy to say that I rushed as fast as I could to 1311 Beer & Wine in Mt. Airy to pick up a six-pack yesterday. I'm very excited and happy to see local wares going into a product I love.

Rachel and I try our best to source our breads, produce, and dairy as close to home as we can. Try it out yourselves, you may be very happy with the results.

I'll post a review on Secret Stash later on.

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Happy Oktoberfest!

Ein Prosit, ein Prosit
Der Gem├╝tlichkeit
Ein Prosit, ein Prosit
Der Gem├╝tlichkeit

Prost! Prost!

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Saturday, September 10, 2011

Data dump!

Olney Alewerks Catatonic light ale.

My kind of dinner: pancakes, sausage patties, Libbyland maple syrup and Westmalle tripel to cut through it all. Money.

Session lager from Full Sail; decent, little head retention, fruity. 6/10.

1634 Ale from Brewer's Alley, of Frederick, Maryland.

I loved the color on this beer! It was a very rich, clear, mahogany; but the frothy white head quickly collapsed.

The beer was 2 years old (though I purchased it last week), and it showed in the flavor and aroma departments. A lot of the spiciness from the rye dropped out, and there was nil hop presence. All I got was a mouth full of molasses.

5/10, as time is a cruel mistress.

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Well, AB-InBev can't be happy about that...

I found this through Facebook, an it's a very, very interesting article on the 8 beers Americans no longer drink. Once you read it, you'll understand the post title.

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Sunday, September 4, 2011

Yeah, not of this world...

So, tonight after we put the kiddies to bed, and scrubbed the baseboards, I asked Rachel to pick something from the fridge. She picked out Southern Tier Unearthly Imperial India Pale Ale.

This beer is a science-fiction convention's worst nightmare.

SoTi's site claims 9.5% ABV, and the bottle claims 11.0%; I'm inclined to believe the bottle.

As you can see, the Romulan Ale pours a red-tinged, clear orange color, crowned with an ivory head--that fades away fast, owing to the ABV.

Rachel actually took the first three sips and said that it was a beer she didn't exactly enjoy, but for an (I)IPA, it was very good. This is due to the initial sweetness fading away to expose some very pungent hops, which vacate the palette at warp 9, allowing for a wonderful tropic finish-of pineapple (at first) then coconut.

Letting the snifter warm up, empty, for several minutes unlocked some very interesting aromas:
Nick- Terry's Chocolate Orange, at Christmas and a ferocious catty pineapple--emphasis on FEROCIOUS PINEAPPLE;
Rachel- sweet apples and caramel.

One non-terrestrial beer, which will leave your gaze toward the heavens.


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Thursday, September 1, 2011


I'm sorry that I missed the meet, greet & tasting with Mikkel of Mikkeller. So, in honor of his visit to The Perfect Pour, I poured a bottle of 1000 IBU: a wild child of an Imperial IPA, that has so much bitterness it becomes sweet. I would have loved to ask how he got the malt to counter the hop extract, and criminal use of Simcoe hops, but that's what email and plane tickets are for.


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The Zen master of brewing

I recently decided to go back through The Brewing Network's Sunday Session archive and start from the very beginning- and I laughed my ass off until I met Brian Hunt, the owner and brewer of Moonlight Brewing Company. He just turned my world on its axis, 180 degrees.

Brian engaged the original crew, and the original listeners, on a touch of controversy regarding brewing and brewing to style, or should I say not brewing to style.

I will echo Jon Plise's comment that homebrewers should brew to style in order to understand flavor and how different ingredients/steps/temperatures affect what you're trying to accomplish. (Not that I am any kind of expert, far from it; but, I have read thousands of pages of brewing publications and listened to hundreds of hours of fairly high quality podcasts about brewing.)

Brian is a complete and total advocate of brewing what tastes good to you, and not pigeon-holing yourself into a style. That kind of philosophy completely goes against the grain of what it means to be an American homebrewer; an opinion that I share with the Brewcasters.

How he reached this 10th level of beer-godliness is beyond the scope of my post. What is within, though, is a feeling that once you get your system and process dialed in, you should go ahead and branch out. If you're into North American competition, go ahead and brew to style; but use that knowledge and mish-mash of flavors to inspire your own special brew.

It's worth your while to listen to the episode, from late 2005. While you're at it, listen to the show from the following week, they interview Dan Gordon, of Gordon Biersch, who is the polar opposite of Brian Hunt. An excellent contrast,as Gordon adheres to the Reinheitsgebot.

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Location:My car

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

What is strange?

Odd. How very, very odd. This is one of the most insane beers I have had in a long, long time. I'm talking about Brouwerij Stubbe's Ichtegem’s grand cru.

As you can tell from the beautiful pour, it has stunning ruby highlights around the edges, and darkens-but remains clear-through the center, eventually growing to a rich brown. My nose was then assaulted by a vinegary tone followed with some malt.

On taste, she plays the part of insane girlfriend well. Dry. Crazy. No hops. Funky (like she needs a shower). Tangy (like she needs a shower). This is clearly one wild brew; and goes well with macaroni and cheese, with a light balsamic dressing with it (don't knock it till you try it).

For my first Flemish red, she earns 8/10.

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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The best library is the one you can drink

So, I have a whole mess of beer that I have drunk and need to write about. All of this was really over the course of the past week, but I have just had so many other things to attend to, that I haven't been able to write. Well, who has the time now? And who has your attention? That's what I thought!

I will have to note, that I won't provide a tasting score for these. I remember them all, but without the beer in front of me it wouldn't be fair to rate them. However, I will provide my observations.

Quickly, what goes better with macaroni & cheese than a fine smoked porter from Stone Brewing? Answer: a whole lot of nothing! I encourage all to find this beer, as it is really quite smooth and the smoke doesn't make an appearance until the finish, where it is crisp and dry. I really prefer that in a dark style.

Ah, well, perfection can't last, and I have to say I found a Stone beer that simply isn't for me. That would be Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale. It was a very nice pour, as evident by my Boston Beer Company glass filled with a very rich brown brew and dense tan head. My only qualm with this beer is it had too much. It was overly roasty, overly alcoholic and overly hopped. Which, for me, a crazy-ass IPA lover, is nuts. Stone got this bad boy to ferment out dry, I mean dry! For something like this, it just didn't work. Now, it could be that the beer had to enjoy a 2,700 mile trip across the country to find it's way into my fridge, but for a brewer of such high demand I would imagine the bottle I bought was a fresh representative of what they intended.

So, of course I had to cleanse my palatte. How better to do that, than opening up a lambic! Specifically, a faro!

I found a bottle of Lindemans Faro from The Perfect Pour, and was very giddy. (My purpose for that trip was to find some goofy, off the wall Belgians; while Lindemans may not be, necessarily that wild, it was the first time I found a faro.)

I'll tell you, there is nothing better to drink while you are washing the dishes. The beer is very sweet--a nice dessert beer--and crystal clear with an amazing funk and nil hops. This would make for a terrific gateway beer into funny Belgians.

I have been waiting for years to get a hold of something fresh from Fort Collins, Colorado. Yes, that's right, New Belgium is finally being shipped to the <sarcasm>The People's Republic of Maryland</sarcasm>.

If I were to brew an Oktoberfest, this would be my model. Hoptober is a homebrewing hop-lover's paradise ale, especially if you're limited in the ability to make lager beer. NB has you covered with this golden ale. I was shocked how tasty it was and I will most definitely attempt to clone this bad boy.

The following is the description right from NB's website, and I encourage you to a. visit their website, b. visit your local liquor store and buy this beer.
Five hops and four malts make Hoptober Golden Ale a veritable cornucopia of the earth. Pale and wheat malt are mashed with rye and oats to create a medium-bodied ale with a creamy mouthfeel.

Centennial, Cascade, Sterling, Willamette, and Glacier hops form a bonfire of citrus notes, fruity cheers and a bold finale.
...doesn't that make you thirsty?

Thank your Beer Ranger! Toasty and biscuity with a fresh floral nose, spicy and citrusy hop flavor, this is yet another beer to seek out. It is a good example of an American IPA (probably not the best representative of the style) that is a smooth talker and a very smooth drinker. It would be extraordinarily easy to drink 6 too many of these. Don't ask me how I know.

And, we close out the night with Westmalle Dubbel a dark, sticky ale that my pal, Sean Paxton, has a wonderful, wonderful marshmallow recipe for. I made it; they are wonderful! But back to the beer, I think I may have either drunk it too fast and experienced some cold shock on my tongue, or the bottle had taken a turn for the worse. The beer was good, but for Westmalle, I have most certainly had better. None the less, I was thirsty, and boy did it hit the spot. I only long to have had a nice piece of milk chocolate to go with it. Or chocolate cake with a nice light dusting of powdered sugar. Or a double dark chocolate, double chocolate stout pudding. Just let me say, that this is another fine dessert beer.

And that wraps up my essay for this evening. Thanks for popping in and reading. I hope I haven't bored you to death.

Let me ask a question of the masses: should I pursue becoming a BJCP judge? It may help me to better educate myself on the flavors and profiles of beer, and offer you some more accurate descriptions of what's going on inside of that bottle. Just a thought.

- Listening to Vanilla Ice