Category Archives: Uncategorized

Good Beer, Bad Names

I had a discussion with my brother-in-law today about bad beer names.  While I certainly understand the merits of a good product name and its effect on sales, I do not think that craft beer follows the same pattern as most other consumer goods.  Call it hipster if you want, but the craft beer movement’s exponential growth has been particularly counter-cultural.  I’ve certainly seen my share of delicious beers with ironic or silly names.  I am of the belief that, while name is important, its ultimately secondary to the quality of the beer.  Obviously, I don’t want an offensive or unappetizing name, but if I can be convinced to try a beer, then the name doesn’t change the experience.

My brother-in-law, for the most part does not agree.  For example, while we both believe that Clown Shoes is the worst name we’ve ever heard for a brewery, I am not opposed to trying their beer, while he is vocally against it.  In fact, I tried their Vampire Slayer Imperial Stout (which is a ridiculous, but somewhat clever name for a smoked stout) and absolutely loved it.  However, unless I buy him a bottle, he’ll never know whether it truly is enjoyable or not.

Because I am stubborn and love to stir the pot, I took this as a sign that I need to start using some bad names for some of my better beer.  Call it a social experiment.  I also have decided to start building a list of the world’s worst beer names.  Pretty much any beer Clown Shoes makes deserves a spot on this list.  Leave a comment if you’ve seen a beer name worthy of the list, or have an original idea for a bad beer name!  Also, let me know if you’ve come across any good beer with a bad name.


Feeling Blessed

As I have recently expanded my brewing capabilities to a 2-keg system (see photo below), it seemed logical to expand the way in which I chronicle all my experiences.  I am currently brewing faster than I can drink and share, so my stores have been increasing.  I find this to be a great blessing.

Beer is not just a drink to me, or even just a hobby.  It is a passion.  I have always loved the feeling of creating something unique from raw ingredients.  The capability to do this on a regular basis and share it with people in such a delicious format is part of what drove me to homebrewing.  My dream is to open a brewery someday and serve my beer to even more people.

As I mentioned, my stores have been increasing.  Not only do I brew more, but I find my collection of commercial beers steadily increasing.  I hope to use this blog to post many of my reviews and hone some skills.  As an added bonus, maybe I’ll get some people to try something they hadn’t thought to try before!  Check out the list of things I have waiting to be enjoyed and reviewed:

Chimay White
Chimay Red
Chimay Blue
Hinano Tahiti
Lucky Buddha
Schneider Aventinus
Alesmith Old Numbskull
Old Crafty Hen (currently one of my top 3 favorite beers)
Class of ’88 Barleywine
Clown Shoes Vampire Slayer
Firestone Double DBA
Firestone Sucaba
Firestone Anniversary XVII

Homebrew On Tap:
Hammer ‘N’ Ale Irish Red
In Bottle:
English Porter
Whiney Dancer English Barleywine

February 2014 Homebrew Project
February 2014 Homebrew Project

Old Stock Cellar Reserve (Aged In Bourbon Barrels)

Name: Old Stock Cellar Reserve (Aged In Bourbon Barrels)
Style: Old Ale
ABV (%): 13.16
Brewery: North Coast Brewing Co.

I’ve had this beer shelved for about a year.  I’ve been told a lot about it, and it is the most expensive beer I’ve ever had ($25/bottle).  The most important thing I’ve been told is that once I’ve had it, no beer will ever taste the same.  That’s a lot to live up to, but at $25/bottle, I don’t think it’s too much to ask!

Right out of the bottle, I could tell this was an epic beer.  It pours a super light head, chocolate in color and lace in consistency.  Brown and red in the glass, and a tiny bit dirty.  The head retention on this beer is just so-so.

It smells of malt, dark fruit, sugar and most of all, bourbon.  Rich and fruity.  It reminds me some Avery ales I’ve had in the past, but not as thick or chewy.

This beer is absolutely delicious.  Rich and complex at the same time, which is so rare in beer.  Bourbon flavors throughout, lots of toffee, brown sugar, dates or figs (can’t quite tell), some light vanilla and nut on the back end.

There really is no way to describe how fantastic this beer is.  The strong aroma fills my head while I sip, and it just improves the experience.  The best way I can sum this up is to say that $25 is not overpriced, and I will absolutely without a doubt have this beer again.

Look: 9
Smell: 10
Taste: 10
Feel: 9
Overall: 10

Grade: A+

Beer Geek Breakfast

Name: Beer Geek Breakfast
Style: American Double / Imperial Stout
ABV (%): 7.50
Brewery: Mikkeller

I’ve been dying to try this beer for awhile now, and for several reasons.  First, the flavor profile advertised just sounds fantastic.  Second, I’ve never had a beer from Denmark.  And third, this is one of the coolest beer names I’ve ever seen.  All of the aforementioned reasons have made me curious to the point of obsession.

Poured from a 1 pt. 9 oz. bottle into a freezer chilled pint glass.  I probably poured this a little too cold.  I just took it out of the fridge and it went right into the glass, but it will warm as I sip.  It pours super super dark.  No sunlight can escape this beer.  Dark enough to swallow anything up.  It is where bad beer goes to die.  I haven’t had Deschutes Abyss in quite some time, but I find it hard to imagine that any beer can earn the name Abyss above this one; not by appearance alone anyway.  There is a 1/2″ frothy coffee head that just won’t dissipate, no matter how many times I throw glances at it as I ramble about the darky darkness.

It smells as any good Imperial Stout should and does.  Coffee, chocolate, oatmeal, malt, with some nuttiness.  And now I want an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie.

The first sip of this beer refutes any comparisons I make between this and other stouts.  Before I can even break down the flavors, the bitterness hits.  It is very much like espresso in mouthfeel, but not overpowering in flavor.  Still, make no mistakes, this is a man’s beer.  I’m not saying this to shoo away women, but rather anyone that is a lukewarm beer drinker.  If you’ve never had an Imperial Stout, don’t make this your first.  It’s not a benchmark for the style.  It is very unique.

Despite the bitterness of this beer, it’s creamy on the tongue and not too sharp.  Hop bitterness usually makes beers taste sharp, and often herbal, especially California pales.  They’re ideal for drinking with something spicy or fatty.  The bitterness will cut through the fat.  This beer might be good with a steak or something smokey or gamey, but it’s easy to drink at the same time..

Overall, this is just an outstanding beer.  Unfortunately, it’s $10 a bottle, which makes it a bit of a one-off.  Still, I have no regrets about the purchase, and I highly recommend it to anyone that is a fan of North Coast Rasputin or Deschutes Obsidian Stout.

Look: 9
Smell: 7
Taste: 8
Feel: 9
Overall: 9

Grade: A-

Bavarian-Styled Doppel Weizen

Name: Bavarian-Styled Doppel Weizen
Style: Weizenbock
ABV (%): 9.00
Brewery: Lagunitas Brewing Company

Thank you, Scott, for another fine beer!  Poured from a 1 pt. 6 oz. bottle into a freezer-chilled pint glass.  Then sampled by my wife before I even had a chance to taste it myself.  UGH!!!

I was sad to see that this had absolutely no head retention, though admittedly it could be because you don’t pour this style of beer into an American pint glass.  Lesson learned.  The color is light, dirty, with a little bit of caramel tinge.

It truly smells like a hefe.  Banana at the forefront.  Fairly wheaty, too.  Sweet and savory in my nose.

Super thick on the tongue.  Just like the nose, there is an abundance of banana.  Clove, too.  Tangy, sweet, almost syrupy.  Not lightly flavored and wheaty like the American hefes usually are.

While thick in flavor, this beer is not too thick in the mouth like a strong ale.  It’s easy going down.  Rich with a slightly bigger aftertaste.

Overall, this is a fantastic beer.  Lagunitas usually spits out solid IPAs, while lacking in other styles.  This is easily my favorite Lagunitas beer thus far, and it makes me much less hesitant to experiment with their beers some more.

Look: 6
Smell: 7
Taste: 9
Feel: 9
Overall: 8

Grade: A-

Nero’s Apecchio Red Ale

Name: Nero’s Apecchio Red Ale
Style: American Amber / Red Ale
ABV (%): 6.50
Brewery: Amarcord Birra Artigianale (Spring Srl)

An Italian brewery with an American Amber / Red Ale?  Ok…?  It was cheap at Trader Joe’s.  Poured from a 1 pt. 0.9 oz. bottle into a freezer-chilled pint glass.

This doesn’t look anything like any reds or ambers I’ve seen.  It looks like a lager, but with a super frothy head.

Smells like beer.  That may seem like a joke, but that pretty much sums it up.  It doesn’t have much scent to speak of, aside from the basic yeast and hops.

It tastes like crap.  Way back before the blog, I reviewed Redhook’s Copperhook and said it was one of the worst beer’s I’ve ever tasted.  This is almost as bad.  It tastes nothing like what I know a red or amber ale to be.  Yeast, hops, and barley were thrown in a vat.  I almost feel bad reviewing this beer.  I have better things to do.

The one redeeming quality of this beer is that it serves as a decent benchmark for mediocrity.

Look: 6
Smell: 3
Taste: 3
Feel: 5
Overall: 4

Grade: D

Eau Benite

Name: Eau Benite
Style: Tripel
ABV (%): 7.70
Brewery: Unibroue

The blog is back!  I’ve also slightly modified my scales for review categories and weighting.  What you’ll see from this is a distinct line for beers I consider a B+ or higher.  Anything B+ or higher should be considered a “must-try” beer.  Anything C+ or higher should be considered a good to great beer.  Anything C- or higher may be considered a good beer.  Anything less should be avoided, possibly at all costs!

I stumbled upon this beer completely by accident.  There is currently a 2-pack of Unibroue beers at Costco for $15.  It includes Maudite (which is absolutely fantastic and which will be reviewed later) and Eau Benite.  Unibroue is a Canadian brewery.  They brew a solid collection of bottle-fermented Belgian style beers, all of which are flavor-forward and quite enjoyable.  This was poured from a 1 pt. 9.4 oz. bottle into a freezer-chilled pint glass.

This pours frothy with a thick head.  Color is light and dirty, like so many Belgians.

Smells of yeast and fruits.  A bit of fig, or maybe dates.  Smell dissipates quickly.

The flavor is not overly sweet or rich like many others from Unibroue (see La Fin Du Monde).  Flavor is spicy and a little sweet, with mild fruits in the finish.  Flavor integrates as the beer warms, and the spiciness mellows, giving way to more fruit.

The mouth starts out a little sharp, bitter, and yeasty.  As the beer reaches room temperature, the sharp feel mellows and the beer starts to feel buttery.

This is the easiest Unibroue beer I’ve ever had.  A simple blonde tripel.  All the flavors are mellow and easy, almost relaxing.  I prefer explosive beers, but there is something to be said for this one.  Sweet, without being overwhelming.  Quite enjoyable.

Look: 6
Smell: 6
Taste: 7
Feel: 7
Overall: 7

Grade: C+