Port Old Viscosity

September 24, 2008

10.5% ABV from a bomber

Much like Da Vinci had the Medicis and Samuel Johnson had Lord Chesterfield, I too have patrons that provide me with the necessary supplies to carry out my artistry. Recently, a few of my patrons–a married couple–were up in Seattle for a brief vacation and to catch the Oklahoma/Washington football tilt.

I was elated when they returned home with numerous Port and Lost Abbey offerings and quickly asked if they had plans for the weekend. Seeing that they didn’t I all but forced them to invite me over for some hifalutin beer samplings. And I use the term “samplings” in the same loose way that a chain restaurant calls a four feet in diameter plate covered in greasy foods a “sampler.”

Arriving over at their place* I was overwhelmed by all the goods they had brought back to New York. I had to contemplate long and hard the batting order for the night’s drinking. I was most intrigued by the Old Viscosity, a bourbon-barrel aged supposed-strong ale. My friends were most frightened by this brew so we all had to warm up with a few batting practice beers first (final baseball metaphor I swear!). Two of which were the new Budweiser American Ale which I had picked up for a combined $6.29 across the street. I chuckled to see the pricing label from the Pike Place Market store still on the Old Viscosity: $5.99. And why do people continue to drink macro shit?!

The Port beer poured a ton darker and (no shit) viscous than I had expected, more like a stout than a strong ale, even a Herculean-in-strength strong ale. And the taste was stylistically perplexing as well. No wonder, even Port admits they’re trying to trick us! From their grammatically-fucked-up website:

“Not your Dad’s Wimpy 30 Weight” is how our original label used to describe this massive chewy and thick beer. Code named by our brewers-“The Big Black Nasty,” this is monstrous dark ale is brewed to no particular style. Thick and sludgy like oil from the crankcase of a wheat threshing combine, Old Viscosity blurs the boundaries of Porter, Stout, Old Ale and Barleywines.

At first I mostly tasted coffee, wood, and a bit of chocolate, much like a good Russian imperial stout. Being such a bourbon freak I was a bit miffed that it wasn’t as initially prominent as I had hoped for. This beer is very alcoholic in taste which is something I love but which I’m afraid many won’t. As the Old Viscosity warmed due to my drinking partners’ fear and neglect, the bourbon started to shine through quite a bit and I began to really love this one. It’s an asskicker for sure, and polishing off a bomber by yourself might be considered an act of personal euthanasia in some cities (please check your local municipality’s ordinances), but goddamn is this a fine beer. Highly recommended–a home run (OK, I lied).

A

*For you many Vice Blogger stalkers out there that blow up pictures of the beers, trying to see what is behind them in order to create an idea of the apartment I live in to aid in your perverted slash fiction fantasies about you and me, know that I was not in my home for this drink-a-thon. Believe me, my home has nothing nice in it.


He’Brew Rejewvenator

July 30, 2008

7.8% ABV from a bomber

I’m a bad estimator of how much I plan to drink in an evening. Luckily, my eyes are bigger than my liver and I always overestimate, often causing a stockpile of beer to…well, stockpile. Pre-barring Friday night I knew I wanted my first two beers to be the pricey and potent Westmalle Dubbel and Hair of the Dog Fred. I thought I might need just a tad more beer before I headed out so I opted for the Rejewvenator. Why? For three reasons:

1. It was only $3.99 for a bomber and after having spent an incredibly pretty penny on 12 ounce bottles of the Dubbel and Fred I needed some bang for my buck.

2. Jewish pride always gets me. Seinfeld, Woody Allen, Hank Greenberg, Ryan Braun, Neil Diamond, Pauly Shore…if you are Jewish I will most certainly overrate you.

3. I’ve never had a fig beer before. Hell, I’ve never heard of a fig beer before. Fuck, I think I’ve only had figs before in Newton form. This could be interesting.

Of course, I was already kinda in the tank after the brilliant Westmalle Dubbel (review later this week), so I decided to pass on the highly acclaimed Fred for another time (review next week), and head straight for the marginally acclaimed Rejewvenator to “get the job done” before heading out on the town.

Rejewvenator came out in a ruby red pour. Does it taste figgy? Eh, not exactly. At least I don’t think. But it has a unique flavor and a good one at that. I taste chocolate, malts, a little hops, and a bit of a sour finish. It was tons better than I thought it would be. Very flavorful, pretty complex, nice bite.

I was really digging this beer early on in the bottle but by bomber’s end I had grown a bit tired of it and wasn’t liking the pronounced alcohol taste.

Having said that, for the most part, I had a really enjoyable time drinking this one, especially considering I bought it as a bit of a goof.  L’chaim.

A-/B+


Samuel Adams Utopias (2007)

July 3, 2008

25.6% ABV

I’ve put my Patrick Ewing kneepads on, I’ve taken a few swigs of water for moisture, I’ve loosened up my cheek muscles, unhinged my jaw, and the dental dam is firmly in place…it’s time for me to fellate Samuel Adams Utopias.

This is not just the best beer ever, it is not just the best fermented drink ever, but it is perhaps the best alcoholic beverage in the history of mankind. Let’s just say, the long-dead American patriot shouldn’t just be honored to have his name on this, he should be greatly worried that history will remember Sam Adams Utopias the beer before they remember Sam Adams the man. This beer is so motherfucking good that people should learn the lost art of epic poetry simply so they can compose epic poems to it. It is a greater achievement than landing on the moon or discovering evolution. Jim Koch, the Samuel Adams brewmaster, should win Time’s Man of the Year.

Utopias comes in a bomber-sized, ceramic genie-bottle-shaped vessel that if you rub the side and unscrew the cap a spirit (luckily one NOT voiced by the insufferable Robin Williams) pops out, not granting you three wishes but instead telling you that if you have just a few ounces of this beer you will achieve nirvana.

Oh, have I mentioned…

It is the most alcoholic beer ever crafted!

Did you hear me?

THE MOST MOTHERFUCKING ALCOHOLIC BEER CREATED!!!

And, it is to be drunk in two-ounce servings from specially-designed Utopias glassware. Yes, the Boston Beer Company does not think any other glasses in the history of the world have been created to appropriately drink their beer from. Thus, they crafted their own (see bottom picture). How awesomely arrogant is that?!

Even more interesting, due to silly Christian laws created and inspired by the Brigham Youngs, Jerry Fallwells, and Jim Joneses of the country, Utopias is not allow to be sold in fourteen U.S. states. Here is that damnable lineup:

Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, Washington, and West Virginia.

I don’t even recognize states as being part of our union if they don’t allow this brilliant concoction to be tippled by constituents. I actually proudly fly a thirty-six star American flag over my heavily-fortified drinking compound.

I will not recognize you despicable fourteen states until you let your citizens drink Utopias!

Not that they could actually locate it as Sam Adams only releases 12,000 bottles of heaven per two years. I am lucky enough to have tried Utopias on three different occasions. Each time, loving and understanding it just a little more.

OK, so we know it’s potent, we know it’s pricey, we know it’s rare, we know it merits a blow job, but how does it taste? I thought nothing more appropriate for this beer than to actually review it like a legit beer snob (not that a legit beer snob would preface his review with a highly-graphic fellatio prologue). If any beer merits pretentiousness it is this one.

Appearance: An absolutely gorgeous amber like what that dinosaur-blood-sucking mosquito was frozen in “Jurassic Park.”

Smell: A bouquet of incredibly potent maple syrup, but this ain’t Aunt Jemima, it’s the good shit you buy at a hippie farmer’s market. The aroma goes up your nose as the Utopias’ odorants bind with olfactory neuron cell bodies. Their axons synapse in the olfactory bulb region in your brain, making you go, “God Damn! I said God Damn!” like Mrs. Mia Wallace in “Pulp Fiction.”

Taste: More full-bodied than Aretha Franklin. Maple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon, honey, several different types of yeast, caramel malts, and a whole lotta hops though not much bite. Earthy with some spice and hints of bourbon and sherry due to aging I believe. A creamy, chocolate and coffee-like finish. More sublime than “40 Oz. to Freedom.”

Mouthfeel: Nearly indescribable. As complex as beer, if not any alcohol, can possibly get. God did not create a human with enough writing prowess to adequately discuss the Utopias’s feel. It is absolutely unlike beer, lacking in carbonation and with no need for refrigeration. It would best be described as nearer to being a potent barley wine, a sherry, an aged port, maybe a bourbon, or most likely fine cognac as composed to a measly brew. The difference between the “beers” of Utopias and, say, Bud Light is more pronounced than the the slugging difference between George Herman Ruth and Dr. Ruth Westheimer.

Drinkability: Eminently drinkable though one will probably never consume more than an ounce or two in a sitting as it is like drinking money. Figuratively of course.

Consuming this beer will ruin you for the rest of the day (if not your entire existence on planet earth). Not cause it’s that potent–remember, you’re only savoring a few ounces of it max–but, rather, because everything afterward will taste so goddamn sub-par. After my most recent drinking of Utopias I followed it up with some Allagash Odyssey, a world-class beer in itself, that I was barely able to enjoy at first. My tongue was still tingling from the Utopias and my memory so seared by its brilliance that I had to eat damn near a loaf of bread to get the greatness out of my mouth and mind. I had to not just cleanse my palate, but cleanse everything I’d known about the world previous, just to appropriately review the Odyssey.

Let it be said, Utopias will change your thoughts about beer and imbibing for the rest of time. If you are ever lucky enough to find this beer, pay whatever is asked for it (or do the “Hey, look over there!” trick and filch it).

I don’t believe in a higher power but I still love Ben Franklin’s famous saying, “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” He could have easily been referring to Utopias.

My absolutely highest recommendation. A masterpiece.

A+


Oaked Arrogant Bastard Ale

July 1, 2008

7.2% ABV on draught

Batch thinks I’m a Stone “homer” and he’s absolutely right. I’m the motherfucking Harry Caray of Stone Brewery except I’m a cheerleader for a line of beers that is always world-class while the Cubbies have been pretty much futile for going on a full century. Having said that, the Oaked Arrogant Bastard was the rare Stone beer I hadn’t loved the previous, and only time, I’d had it before. Which is weird because I’m a huge regular Arrogant Bastard fan and “oaking” a beer without question usually makes it even better. What is an oaked beer you might ask? Pretty much just what it sounds like. You take a strong ale (or other high ABV beer) and throw it in a oaked barrel–usually, but not always, one that previously stored bourbon, Scotch, or wine–and let the brew further age and mature. In fact, many of my favorite all-time beers are oaked, brews such as Old Yeti imperial stout and countless beers from the magnificent Allagash brewery. Oaking a beer pretty much elevates it to a higher class of drink as it becomes infused with hints of wood and whiskey (among other things) that simply can’t be imparted in the standard beermaking process.

So why didn’t I like the somewhat rare Oaked Arrogant Bastard the first time I had it but absolutely loved it this time? Let’s get to that question in a moment, but first I want to discuss the beer. Stone beers are famous for their power and potency (heck, they put “You are not worthy” on their caps) and with the exact same ABV as the un-oaked Arrogant Bastard this one is no exception. However, the wood chips seem to mute the alcoholic, whiskey taste on the tongue that the un-oaked version provides. I’m not sure it’s that great of thing for pure taste reasons as I love a very alcoholic-flavored beer, but it surely does make the Oaked more palatable, drinkable, refreshing, and well-rounded. This beer also feels less hoppy, but it still has a ton of taste so that’s a minor quibble. Caramel maltiness, sweet with vanilla hints, and just a tad bitter. Georgeous.

I will definitely be drinking Oaked more in the future than the standard Arrogant Bastard as it is a bit more unique and complex. But I truly adore them both, what can I say, I am the Harry Carey of Stone, Holy Cow!

So going back to my earlier question–why did I find the Oaked on tap to be a near masterpiece after having not been too pleased with the bottled version? Could it simply have been a bad batch the first time or was it something completely different?

Maybe it is that draught beer is superior to bottled? Who knows but personally I do prefer draught all things being even. There is in fact a huge debate amongst beer snobs as to whether draught or bottled beer is better. Actually, there’s not much of a debate as most everyone agrees that tap beer is better. The debate is over why it is better. Even connesseurs aren’t 100 percent sure. Many claim it could even just be a psychological thing! You’ll see all the “experts” throw out numerous reasons for draught’s superiority with the most common thoughts being that it:

*is fresher, closer to being straight from the brewery’s tanks.

*is more rounded with less bite.

*has less chance of being exposed to ruinous sunlight.

*has less chance of coming into contact with the elements making up the beer’s container. Ever noticed that most crappy canned beer tastes metallic?

*has less CO2 to screw up taste and add bitterness, as compared to the massive CO2 added upon bottling.

*not pasteurized or filtered as opposed to most bottled beers (bottle-conditioned brews excepted of course).

*is better “handled” in transportation. I mean, have you ever seen the kinds of roughnecks that transport beer across this fine country?

I’m not sure if I agree with any of those reasons over any other, but I agree with all of them to a certain extent. The key thing is that draught beer has less chance of having something go wrong with it that could fuck up the beer’s flavor while bottled beers have about a zillion things that could go wrong with them from the list above. But, don’t be confused, my majority of beer consumption is from bottles. It simply has to be if one wants to drink beers from not just this entire country but from this entire world. I’m not trying to say that bottled beer is bad, just that it is usually a hair worse than it’s draught counterpart. But, it’s still beer and if you are drinking a quality one it will still be delicious poured straight from the bottle into a nice piece of glassware.

I’ll end the debate by saying I hope to have another Oaked Arrogant Bastard bottle soon and see what I think. I’ll report my findings. Drinking numerous Stone beers as part of a draught vs. bottle science fair experiment ain’t exactly a tough life!

A


Goose Island Matilda

June 17, 2008

7% ABV on draught

Remember that beer I passed on and thus missed out on back in this entry? I never named the beer but it was indeed Goose Island Matilda. I thought I might not get to ever try this brew until one of my beer spies tipped me off that the great Valhalla had it on tap. Being that the bar is only a kicked aluminum can in distance from the discarded refrigerator box I call home in Hell’s Kitchen, I was soon headed there. Upon arriving though, the bartender claimed that all they currently had available from Goose Island was their IPA. This confused me.

If there’s one quibble I have with Valhalla it’s how fucking dark they keep the place (which explains my obscenely dark photos). You’d need fucking infrared goggles to see the taps on the wall. Shouldn’t a bar that prides itself on its diversity and plethora of beer want it so people can actually see what they goddamn offer?! And, the beer menus they have for perusal are not much help either as they never seem to update them. In fact, the menu I was reading still listed Dogfish Head Aprihop on it — a beer that hasn’t been in release since at least March or April. Furthermore, I counted some 48 taps on their wall, yet only 31 beers on the menu. What the fuck? Finally, while finishing my first quaff, a Nostradamus Brown Ale, I noticed that there were in fact two of the iconic Goose Island taps on the wall.

I called the surly bartender over to me, he was already annoyed with my multitude of questions. “What’s that tap?” I pointed to one gooseneck. “It’s the IPA.” “OK, then what’s that one?” I pointed to the other gooseneck all the way on the other side of the wall near the slutty female bartender’s “station.” He curiously walked over. “It says Matilda, but we’re not supposed to have that one.” He poured himself a tiny sample, sipped it. Indeed it was Matilda. At last!

Good things come to little boys that wait. I sipped the beer they weren’t supposed to have. And it was niiiiiiiiiiiice. Served in a gargantuan balloon glass, more befitting some five-scoop banana split buttfuck sundae from Serendipity or some other girly place where you ask for your ice cream with two spoons to share with your amore. Or, more likely your other fat and ugly girlfriends.

Matilda is so alcoholic, so tasty. Right in my wheelhouse. Without looking I had no idea on the style but I would have guessed a strong, strong ale which indeed it is, though not as potent as it actually tastes. It does have a near perfect mix of alcohol, hops, maltiness, and sweetness. Also a touch of juniper which gives it hints of gin flavoring which is fairly unique for a beer. I must admit, though, the Matilda just didn’t quite blow my mind (or any other body part!) enough to give it a full A. Nor does it seem to truly offer anything better than my most favorite strong ales (Arrogant Bastard for one). A damn solid brew though and I look forward to drinking it again, if I ever find it again. I could see myself growing to like this one more than I did on my first sampling.

A-


Legacy Hedonism Ale

June 7, 2008

7% ABV on draught

I’m truly shocked how high the ABV on this one is. Not sure if the draught is less than the bottle but it really didn’t feel that potent at all. Though, it is extraordinarly hoppy which, yes, does often signal a high ABV. A nice smooth bitterness and sourness with the every so slightest hints of orange sweetness. Light and surprisingly refreshing. Worth trying for sure.

B+


Collaboration Not Litigation Ale

June 4, 2008

8.72% from a bomber, Batch #2

(from Avery Brewing Company/Russian River Brewing Company)*

A few years ago I tried several of the major Avery releases. I recall liking them all, but not really loving any and thus I had pretty much ignored the brewery ever since then. That all changed when one of my favorite beer blogs, Fermentedly Challenged, mentioned how much he had loved this brew. His review most intrigued me because he noted something I hadn’t known, that this beer was a collaboration between Avery and Russian River. For the longest time, Russian River beers (predominately Pliny the Elder and Younger) have been at the top of my “most wanted” list. For whatever reason, Russian Rivers simply do not seem to make it to the east coast—as far as I can tell—and thus I have never had a single beer from that brewery. This would be my first chance to kinda have one. I immediately went to the Columbus Circle Whole Foods and was lucky to find one sole bottle left. (I found several other great beers on this trip as well).

It pours a much bigger head than I expected yet isn’t as dark as I thought it would be. Nice little fruity smell almost like a barley wine. But it also has Belgian-esque “hints” in it. So many complex flavors in its taste. Very alcohol-y the more you drink it, which is something I like indeed. The aftertaste is a tad bitter. Quite frankly, the more I drink it, the more I feel almost like I’m drinking a weak bourbon neat. In fact, halfway through drinking this I realized I had no idea what style of beer this was. I thought it kinda tasted like a barley wine, kinda tasted like a Belgian ale, perhaps a stout…? (It is in fact a strong dark ale.)

It might not be an exact science, but one way I do like to judge alcohol is by the borderline arbitrary pseudo-standard of “how good it makes me feel” as it gets me drunker and drunker. Allagash Interlude is perhaps the king of this sensation. I feel like I’m floating in the clouds by the time I’m done with a bomber of Interlude. Collaboration gave me a similar feeling. I felt sensational by the time I was done with this one. And that was not exactly a good thing because I had several more craft beers I had wanted to sample that evening and was thus unable to because I don’t like to try new beers while bordering on blotto. Thus, I was forced to nightcap my evening by stealing from my ladyfriend’s stash of Bud Light Lime. Quite a difference, no doubt. Like starting your evening by making out with Scarlett Johansson and ending the night in bed with Kathy Bates.

After drinking Collaboration not Litigation I may have to revisit the rest of the Avery bottlings to see if my opinions have changed (while I continue dreaming about one day trying Russian Rivers beers.)

Overall, this one is fantastic. A minor masterpiece.

A

*Salvation. The name of two intricate Belgian-style ales, created by us – Vinnie Cilurzo of Russian River Brewing and Adam Avery of Avery Brewing. After becoming friends a few years ago, we realized that we both had a Salvation in our line-ups. Was it going to be a problem? Should one of us relinquish the rights? “Hell no!” we said. In fact, it was quickly decided that we should blend the brews to catch the best qualities of each and create an even more complex libation. In April 2004, in top-secret meeting at Russian River Brewing (well actually it was packed in the pub, and many were looking over our shoulders wondering what the hell was going on), we came up with the perfect blend of the two Salvations. Natalie, Vinnie’s much more significant other, exclaimed, “We should call this Collaboration, not Litigation Ale!” “Perfect!” we shouted. We celebrated deep into the night, (or is it morning?). Fast forward to November 14, 2006. After talking about it for over 2 years we finally decided to pull the trigger and Vinnie flew out to Avery to brew his Salvation exactly as he does in his brewery. This was blended with Avery’s Salvation December 11th, 2006. We hope you enjoy it as much we enjoyed brewing and blending it.

Fast Forward to 2008. After incredible demand from fans of beer across the country Avery and Russian River have teamed up to do it all again. This year’s batch will become available mid February, marked by a release party at the Avery Brewing Co tasting room, Boulder Colorado 2/12/2008.