Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Devil's Backbone Eight Point

A solid, though not exceptional India Pale Ale. 

Because it is reliably on tap at the watering hole most local to me, the neighborhood Buffalo Wild Wings, I find myself often drinking Devil’s Backbone’s Eight Point IPA or their even more well crafted offering, the Vienna Lager

Eight Point serves as a satisfying session choice for the hops enthusiast.   

Poured from the tap, Eight Point appears apricot with a small, but creamy and persistent head. In fact, refer above; the frothy head is thicker and more aesthetically appealing than anticipated from an IPA.  As its contents are enjoined, the remnants of that head remain along the inner sides of the entire glass. 

The beer’s most significant characteristic is presented in its aroma which is strong in pleasant pines.   

Eight Point is initially a bit thick, bordering near “syrupy.”  But, to clarify, this certainly is not Ruination by Stone, or Hop Stoopid by Lagunitas.  By such comparisons, Eight Point is subdued.  Relative to other IPAs, Eight Point is probably richer in mouth feel and likely a bit more piney in scent. 

Spice dominates, hitting hardest on the backend, while lingering through the finish.  Eight Point disappoints in that the enticing pine, so apparent in the aroma, is superseded far too completely by the spice that is, otherwise, tasty. 

Flavor profile is heavy on bitterness, but not overwhelming.  The play between the hoppy bite of the Eight Point and the moderate syrup by which it is cut is the successful interaction that makes this IPA a winner.   

Eight Point features all the typical expectations of an India Pale Ale, while remaining mostly sessionable.   

While in most ways not exceptional, in all those same ways, Eight Point is mostly adequate.  In aroma, it even exceeds adequacy.   

Not remarkable.  But enjoyable.  TheCraftBeerGuru rates it three of five stars, with a above average recommendation.  Don't pass up your preferred IPA for Eight Point, but if it an alternative is desired, give it a chance!


Friday, September 21, 2012

The Dog & Pony Alehouse

A(nother) great reason to visit Seattle.

The Dog & Pony Alehouse in the Renton neighborhood.  

Work has me in the Pacific northwest about quarterly.  And thus, quarterly, I will be a regular at the Dog & Pony.  

There is so much to love about this place.  Starting with, of course, the great selection of craft beers. 

The taps rotate regularly, and the emphasis is heavy on India Pale Ales and local crafts; both of which are preferable choices for me.  

A combination of the two, a local IPA, the Hop Saw from North Sound Brewing Company, quickly became a personal favorite.  

While the brews are great, the exceptional atmosphere is what makes the Dog & Pony at once unique and excellent.  

An example of the warm embrace of the pub's regular clientele is most telling:  

Parking is tight.  Pulling in, unable to locate a space, a fellow Dog & Pony visitor invited me to double park behind her own car.  Simple enough -- She would just find me later in the evening and tell me to move my car when she was departing.  Common sense; sensible kinship providing for an easy solution.  

A little act.  Doesn't seem like much. But symbolic of the sort of fellowship so immediately apparent at the Dog & Pony.  

That same inviting attitude is prevalent throughout the Dog & Pony experience.  It's constantly expressed by staff and visitors alike.  

Servers in this quaint little spot remember your name, never leave a glass empty, are engaging, and constantly have a smile.  And knowledgeable beer conversation abounds.  

In only a handful of visits, I have received an education from fellow patrons in the forms of  brewers from industry, local beer advocates, successful home brewers, and many a person intimately familiar with Seattle's rich craft beer culture. 

The Dog & Pony is the sort of place where you are expected to join discussion with the neighbor next to you.  

This is the type of high quality experience worth paying for.  

But, here's the thing - the Dog & Pony is economically reasonable.  I have drank to my delight (and my delight is obtained via substantial volume), and departed with a bill less than twenty dollars.  The best Belgian on tap, the tasty Trois Pistoles, is served for the certainly reasonable asking price of six bucks.  

Because of its selection, the Dog & Pony Alehouse is the sort of establishment all beer advocates wish to have locally.  

Because of its outstanding staff and welcoming community of customers, it's the sort of establishment all social people wish to have locally! 

It is certainly worth a visit.  I provide my highest recommendation should life guide you to Seattle.  While there, tell them TheCraftBeerGuru.com sent you.  

And have a wonderful time.  There is no doubt you will! 


Monday, September 10, 2012

Founders Breakfast Stout

This is the beer that everyone is talking about... 

Founders Brewing Breakfast Stout, 8.3% ABV

...And the hype is certainly justified.  

Founders Breakfast Stout is a big, bold beer.  Yet, not overwhelming.  

By nearly every measurement, this is beer done right.  It pours dark, with a thin brown head.  

The aroma is of pure, sweet malts.  From first glance and that initial smell, one is prepared for the treat that awaits.   

The Breakfast Stout delivers like a dessert, but manages to refrain from being excessively sweet.  The flavor of java is strong, but complimented well by notes of caramel.  

The back end delivers just a bit of bite, finishing similarly to a  Coca Cola (albeit the best darn Coke I've ever had!) 

The texture is thick, but not oily.  Again, Founders has measured this perfectly, managing to be robust, yet remarkably tempered.   

A pleasant and light syrupy aftertaste lingers. 

Through and through, every thing about Founders Breakfast Stout is solid.  

It's notably memorable.  This is a beer that I frequently crave.  When I choose a variety of beers, the Breakfast Stout is one of the few of which I select multiple bottles. 

The Craft Beer Guru rarely presents five-star ratings.  However, Founders Breakfast Stout certainly deserves it.  

So it shall receive: 5 stars, and the highest recommendation


Friday, September 7, 2012

Lagunitas DayTime

We have to talk about this beer. 

Lagunitas DayTime 4.65% ABV

I am a devout lover of all things Lagunitas Brewing Company. Along with Stone and Founders, Lagunitas is one of my most preferred craft breweries. 

And while Lagunitas’s Little Sumpin Sumpin, Little Sumpin Wild, Hop Stoopid, and their Wilco Tango Foxtrot are beers that I think are great, I think the DayTime is just… “different.” 

Good?  Bad?  No.  "Different." 

This is unlike anything I have ever drunk before. It is undeniably... surprising. In a weird way, underwhelming. But, more than anything else, “different.” 

DayTime pours transparently golden with a thin head. 

And then it hits you: the aroma is pure pine and freshly cut grass. Strong scent that gets one excited for that first sip. 

And that first sip is where things become “different.” Somehow, the pungent aroma is not replicated in the beer’s flavor. It is certainly not absent of the pine hoppiness so apparent in most California crafts, but the taste contains so much less than expected. 

What makes it “different” is the dichotomy from scent to taste. I have never experienced such an extreme divergence from smell to taste. 

This hardly does DayTime justice, but its most comparable taste is to soda water. The spice pops in your mouth yet lacks robust flavor.  A bit bland. 

I must say, I rather smell this beer than drink it. 

But, perhaps, I am asking this beer to be something it is not. It is called DayTime because it is a sessionable daytime beer. Unfortunately, the flavor lacks the strength that would compel the drinker to repeatedly consume. 

On the other hand, DayTime is so dissimilar from anything else that I drink that I enjoyed it for that very reason. There is a certain beauty in its uniqueness. 

In any case, Daytime invokes a reaction. A few sips in and I immediately began to anticipate anxiously sharing my impression; very few beers draw such strong opinion. 

Sharing with DayTime’s weirdness, so then will its rating: While I can only give it two of five stars, I must also recommend it. It’s worth trying. If you can, find an establishment where you can try one because you may not want a six-pack (grab some Little Sumpin Wild instead!). 


Saturday, September 1, 2012

More Quick Hits..

...but first, evidence of my continued education: 

Enrolled in advanced beer studies at the Capital Ale House school of high-quality brews, Fredericksburg, VA. 

The following reviews are brief and were recorded on the social media app of choice for beer enthusiasts, Untappd, a sort of twitter/Facebook tool for those with passions for all things barley and hops. 

Ommegang Witte, 5.1% ABV

"Pleasant lemony scent.  Peppery taste with some bite on the back-end.  Very citrusy; tastes like a Sprite.  I like it." 

Rated it 4 of 5 stars. 

I would also note that, interestingly, I, unlike any beer lover I know, do not like Ommegang's Abbey.  I find it overly sour, and difficult to drink.  The Witte, however, is exceptionally tasty. 

"Overwhelming, but enjoyable pine scent followed by a decidedly tame taste.  Lacks the spice the aroma promises.  Little balance." 

Offered it 2 stars.  I can not say that I enjoyed this.  And it's a shame.  The aroma was excellent, but the taste simply did not match.  Also lacked thickness, and would have been better if more syrupy.  Weak IPA. 

"Underwhelms.  The vanilla in the scent is the highlight, while the same in the taste is much too subtle.  No competition for Stone's vanilla"

Rated it 2 stars.  

Average, which is more disappointing because the vanilla porter to which I compare, Stone's Smoked Porter, is nearly too rich for my tolerance.  Yet, I prefer it fully to the offering pictured here. 

And that's it, ladies and gentlemen.  The rest of the day is dedicated to college football.  Kickoff is upon us and soon too will be fall, my favorite season of the year.  My Alma Mater, the University of South Florida Bulls, take the field at 7:00 p.m. and I, for one, can not wait! 

Until next time, friends, cheers!