Archive for the 'Beer Reviews' Category

Melange A Trois. Nebraska Brewing does it again.

I really must visit Papallion, Nebrasaka at some point. Yes, I’ll get a chance to meet Tyson Arp, the genius behind these brews, and Paul Kavaulik, fouunder and brewer at the Great American Beer Festival next month. But to truly experience their beers, I’ll need to go to them.

The Melange A Trois is the latest in Nebraska Brewing’s Reserve Series. A series of barrel aged beers that take what is already good and make it better. Melange A Trois was actually the first and has recently come back again. Thanks to Paul and Tyson for the bottle.

Liquid Heaven

Nebraska Brewing Company is a wonderful dining experience tucked away in the middle Husker country, but we won’t hold that against them. Founded by Paul Kavulak, a brewer himslef, and rounded out by brewing genius Tyson Arp, Nebraska brewing seems to be becoming the stuff of legend in the craft beer world.

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Renegade IPA – Estes Park Brewing Company

Ok, beer review! It’s been a little while since I did one. This time around I choose one I brought back from Colorado in June. The Renegade IPA from Estes Park Brewing in…you guessed it, Estes Park, Colo! This nice little brewpub is nestled away on the backside of downtown Estes Park and right at the base of the Rockies themselves. In fact, you’re just a hop, skip and a jump from Rocky Mountain National Park.

Photo courtesy of

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Nebraska Brewing Co and Black Betty, A Whisky Barrel Aged Imperial Stout

I have a confession to make. I’ve never been to the Nebraska Brewing Co. I’ve haven’t been to many of the breweries who make the fine hoppy, fermented beverages I enjoy. With Nebraska Brewing though it certainly seems as if I have been there many times. Such is the fantastic atmosphere that they seem to exude through their contact with everyone in the beer world and beyond.
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Fredericksburg Brewing Co's Hoppy Holidaze Strong Ale

The Fredericksburg Brewing Company is tucked away in the heart of the Texas Hill Country. This area of Texas is a somewhat well-known, yet also underrated and hidden as well. I got the chance to come back to a fantastic town on Christmas Eve with my kids. I’ve always loved coming to Fredericksburg and this time around was special. Dating all the way back to 1994 when the ‘great’ state of Texas finally allowed the operations of brewpubs within it’s borders.
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Sierra Nevada/Dogfish Head's Life and Limb

Let me first say, that I love collaboration beers. They often take the best of each brewery and mix it all up into one fantastic beer. The latest is ‘Life and Limb’ the American Strong Ale brewed with maple and birch syrup by the Sierra Nevada Brewing Co of Chico, CA and Dogfish Head Craft Brewed Ales of Milton, DE.

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Great Divide Brewing Co's Saint Bridget's Porter

Saint Bridget’s is an example of an  American Porter which is based on the English Porter style. This style typically has a high hop flavor to it, lots of malt, often chocolate and coffee flavors as well. Introduced to the U.S. during colonial times, many American brewers used other flavorings such as molasses and gets it coloring from the use of brown malts. Continue reading ‘Great Divide Brewing Co's Saint Bridget's Porter’

Freetail Brewing Co's 2009 4Shadow

Freetail Brewing Co is one unique brewpub, determined to change your perception of beer and of Texas craft brews (Yes, we have very good craft brews here in Texas)!  Born out of inspiration in 2005 while at Chama River Brewing Co., in Albuquerque, NM, owner Scott Metzger and brewer Jason Davis have created a very unique brewpub that has paid homage to Texas and its inhabitants. Metzger and Davis got Freetail off the ground in the later part of 2008. Every beer at the place has Texas written all over it! Metzger says he has three goals with Freetail: To make the best beer in Texas; the best pizza in San Antonio; and have most knowledgeable and friendly wait staff. He also has this to those who say they don’t like beer: “You just haven’t met a beer that you like!”

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Maredsous 8

“One of the most beautiful abbeys in Belgium, the Abbey of Maredsous, was founded in 1872 by the Beuron Abbey in Germany under the guidance of Hildebrand de Hemptinne. He was a Belgian monk at Bueron, and later became abbot of Maredsous. The Maredsous Abbey is a member of the Annunciation Congregation of the Benedictine Confederation.

The overall abbey plan was modeled after the 13th century Cistercian Abbey of Villers at Villers-la-Ville in Walloon Brabant. The Neo-Gothic architecture, by Belgian master-architect Jean-Baptiste Béthune, is praised as a hallmark of the style.” The abbey appears not make the beer itself. Instead it licenses it’s name to Brouwerij Duvel Moortgat, who actually brew Maredsous. As with all true Abbey beers, this is brewed under the supervision of the Abbaye.

Brewed a dubbel, or double, beers of this type are similar to a brown ale in some ways. They typically have a higher alcohol content, hence the name. The origin of the style originates back to the Trappist monastery of Westmalle in the mid-1800′s. With this style, you will typically see some fruit and spice characteristics, as well as some mild to moderate hop bitterness. Notes of caramel are also often present and most dubbels are medium in body.


Poured into a goblet, the Maredsous 8 came out a very deep reddish brown. But don’t let that fool you. When held up to the sun, the dark brown subsides and a brilliant medium copper is present. As it poured the bubbles were abound and floated right to the top producing a nice amount of foam leaving a thin, but foamy sustainable head.

As soon as I began to smell this one, an aroma of deep roasted caramel malts came out. Almost overpowering, but in a wonderful, I need to have more kind of way. Definite aroma of fruit, banana is what I’m getting from this. Definite spice, a little sugary on the back end, but all this balances the alcohol aroma nicely.

Upon tasting the 8, the alcohol comes out more predominate than I expected it to, with the caramel malt nicely balancing it out. I get a definite chocolate taste that I didn’t catch in the aroma, but goes very well with the faint fruit present. Another sip and the caramel and chocolate flavor becomes more predominate and the alcohol just blends right in. What was a nice addition was the slightly bitter hops I get near the end. A subtle, but nice participate in this mixture.

It has a medium mouthfeel. Definitely crisp, but also very much a sticky, foamy feel with the carbonation not playing a big part, as it seems to mesh together giving it a very creamy finish.

Overall, a solid Dubbel that I could see having around the house on a regular basis. I’ve usually had this on tap, but out of the bottle it’s very nice as well. Almost keeps the carbonation consistent. Weighs in at 8% ABV, so you can enjoy the flavors and not kill yourself. Have 2 or 3, and you may want to pace yourself. I had this one with out food, but easily see this pairing nicely with an Apple Dumping a la mode.

Juxtaposition brought to you by Stone Brewing Co, Cambridge Brewing and Scotland's BrewDog

Juxtaposition is the second collaboration Stone has done. This time with Cambridge Brewing of Cambridge, MA and BrewDog hailing all the way from Scotland. All three known for aggressive and adventurous brews.  Stone we know about. Now in Escondido, CA, they continue to push the edge of the craft beer world. All in a matter of 13 years. Greg Koch and everyone at Stone have continued to not rest on their laurels. Cambridge began its trek toward beer greatness in 1989 and is Boston’s oldest brewery/restaurant. What’s unique about these guys is partly their take on common beer styles and partly that their brewmaster and head chef at the restaurant often collaborate on beer and food pairings, as well as ingredients for both. I’ve only had their Cambridge Amber and it was nice. BrewDog  just blows my mind looking at their website. I’ve not had the pleasure have sampling their wears, but their attitude is unmistakable: Conformity is not their thing. Bucking the typical European take on beer, these guys seem to be the Stone Brewing of Scotland. But that’s not all. They’ve been in business for…2 years.

So, what style is this one? Pilsner/lager? Black IPA? American Strong Ale? Hard to truly say. It has characteristics of a black IPA. Very hoppy, bitter and an unmistakable piney flavor/aroma. It also blasts you with a strong alcohol content and strong malt flavor. But, then there’s that whole Pilsner thing. So, what is it? Matt Steele at Stone trys to put this debate to rest “just what the hell is a Black Pilsner, anyway? ‘It’s a Pilsner in the fact that we brewed it with Pilsner malt and fermented it with Pilsner yeast,’ said Mitch(The Brewmaster), ‘but it’s bigger, darker and hoppier, and it’s unlike any beer I’ve ever had.’ There you have it. Settled.” To me, its characteristics are more that of a Black IPA. Knowing that it has Pilsner Malt and Pilsner yeast, I just don;t any Pilsner feel to it. So Black IPA is is for me, however I ultimately defer to the folks at Stone/CBC and BrewDog.After all, who am I to second guess?

Going through the filler

Appearance is that of a black almost dark brown ale. Poured well into my tulip glass with moderate carbonation that produced a thin, but very sustainable lacing.

What an aroma. An explosion of smell on the first whiff. The grapefruit is very dominating, but pleasant indeed. Roasted malt hits me next making me want another before I’ve even had a taste and it must be bringing out the chocolate I smell. Not dominating, but definite hops in this one, giving it a nice piney aroma to balance all the smells in this ‘pilsner’.

Taste is even better. I almost do not know what I’m tasting here, as all the flavors come at you at once. Not  prominent in the aroma, as I think I missed it, but the roasted chocolaty malt is prominent more than it was in the aroma. The grapefruit comes in toward the end giving it a nice sweetness that really compliments the piney hop taste. The second taste brings out a little spice, almost anise in nature. What I am not getting here is the Pilsner taste. I expected that, but do not taste it at all. Not that I’m complaining, but no hint of the Pilsner yeast that was used to brew this one.

Mouthfeel is…wow..just fantastic. Crisp, refreshing and..wait, now I’m sounding like a damn Budweiser commercial. Ok, Crisp indeed. Medium bodied and goes down so easy, you miss the alcohol content in this one. What’s great, is that all those smells are hitting your nostrils while your tasting the same flavors.

Overall, this was just flat out fantastic. This was actually the third one I’ve tried and they keep getting better. Although this is definitely Pilsner in name only. All these ingredients cooked up by the mad scientists at Stone, Cambridge and brew Dog just overpower any chance a Pilsner taste here. ABV weighs in at 10% and as I said, this goes down so smooth, pace yourself. if you have more than one, you won’t know what hit you. This was enjoyed with a baked apple topped with cinnamon.

photo credit goes to the fine folks at Stone Brewing Co.

Dogfish Head's Burton Baton

I’ve used this before, but Dogfish Head tells their tale much better than I…

“The story of Dogfish Head began in June of 1995 when we opened Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats, the first state’s first brewpub opened in the resort beach community of Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. The plan was to bring original beer, original food, and original music to the area.

Not only was Dogfish Head Delaware’s first brewpub, it was the smallest commercial brewery in America. Our very first batch, Shelter Pale Ale, was brewed on a system which essentially was three little kegs with propane burners underneath. Brewing 12–gallon batches of beer for a whole restaurant proved to be more than a full time job. When the doors to the pub first opened, we brewed three times a day, five days a week! The one benefit to brewing on such a small system was the ability to try out a myriad of different recipes. We quickly got bored brewing the same things over and over – that’s when we started adding all sorts of weird ingredients and getting kind of crazy with the beers!

The beer wasn’t the brewpub’s only draw. The pub’s menu centered on a wood-burning grill. We soon became known as the place to enjoy fresh grilled seafood, burgers, pizzas and sandwiches. The wood–burning grill imparts a unique flavor to everything on the menu, whether it’s a hearty sandwich, a delicate piece of fish or our signature pizza dough.

With the popularity of the pub growing, it was quickly apparent that the 12–gallon brewery would not keep up with demand. We built a new brewery and underwent a thirty-fold expansion of the brew house!

The reputation of Dogfish Head ales quickly grew beyond Delaware’s borders. Calls from Philadelphia, Washington D.C. and beyond poured in, as thirsty restaurant patrons demanded their favorite beach beer at home. We began bottling our Shelter Pale Ale in 1996 and just 1 year later we expanded again – this time we separated the packaging operation from the restaurant, and kept on brewing! By 1999, we were up to five year–round bottled brands in about a dozen states.

We outgrew our distributing brewery in a couple years and in the summer of 2002; we moved our entire production brewery up the road to Milton, Delaware into a 100,000 square foot converted cannery. Around the same time (just to keep thing interesting), we built a distillery on the second floor of our Rehoboth Beach brewpub, so we could make vodka, rum and gin.

Thanks to all our employees and every one of our customers, Dogfish Head continues to grow today! We’re now up to nearly 20 styles of beer that are sold in more than 25 states, and a half–dozen kinds of hand–crafted spirits… and we still have some ideas in the back of our collective heads.


This is an example of an Imperial IPA, or India Pale Ale. Essentially this is an IPA all juiced up. The style often have double the hops and malt, creating an even more bitter taste. Some Imperials are more balanced between the hops and malt, giving it a clean, crisp, bitter hop finish, but with a balanced sweet malt taste. Much higher in alcohol than a standard IPA.  Dogfish Head takes a twist on this by blending of an oak-aged English strong ale and their 90 Minute I.P.A.

This poured nicely into a pint glass, with a light copper/reddish tone and producing a medium amount of foam. The nice amount of carbonation may be the culprit for the foam, but either way it left a thin but nice lacing on the glass.

The aroma was a very nice citrus, mixed with a wonderful floral aroma, almost that of mountain wildflowers. Slightly piny, although I think this can be attributed to the the floral aroma.The malt really does balance this nicely, but still retain a bitter hop finish.

The taste was very nice. The bitter hop I smelled really comes out, enhancing the sweetness of the malt balance. Somewhat a contridiction perhaps, as some imperials are extremely bitter with no attempt at balance, and others loose the bitter while having complete balance. The alchohol taste is there more on the back end and can sneek up.

Mouthfeel is good. Very crisp, sweet and goes down smooth.

I liked this one. I’ve had it before and always enjoyed it. It paired nicely with the grilled chicken fajitas with Monterrey Jack cheese I had. The bitter hops balanced and complimented the cheese. With a 10% ABV, take it slow, but enjoy and have another!