Notes from the Cooler:

The latest news, reviews, and interviews from Kevin


Fellow Beer Geeks, you've come to the right place.  Here you will find fresh content to keep you up to date on the exciting world of beer.  We have New Arrivals which is a list of the newest products in our store.  We average 5-10 new beers a week so be sure to check back frequently.  Enjoy in-depth beer reviews and maybe a pairing or two in our Reviews section.  We also interview local brewers about new products, market trends and brewing techniques in our Interviews section.  Click on one of the three buttons below to view specific sections or just check out our most recent articles below.  Don't want to miss the next limited release beer?  No problem.  Not only do we keep a list of New Arrivals on this page, we also send out a weekly newsletter and post exciting new releases on our Facebook and Twitter pages.  Have questions or comments?  Visit our Ask The Experts page and drop us a line, we love hearing from our customers.



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25 Latest Articles
Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: June
Trve Brewing Co./Cerebral Brewing Brain Transplant Dry Hopped Sour 375ml
Regular Price: $10.99
Sale Price: $8.99
Sale End: 6/30/2017
ABV: 5.2%
Trve Brewing Co./Cerebral Brewing Brain Transplant Dry Hopped Sour 375ml

Dry hopped mixed culture ale fermented in foeders and dry hopped with Lemondrop, Denali, and Sterling. Collaboration with Cerebral Brewing of Denver, Colorado.
On to the Tasting Notes:
The beer pours with a nice, hazy, golden hue and small amount of foam settles at the top. Big aromas of melon, lemon, and some funk rise out of the glass. On the palate, you get a lot of the same with mango, lemon, some lactic tartness, and a clean crispness. This beer is quite delicious and refreshing with just the right amount of funk and sour. Balanced and highly drinkable for this time of year!
Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: May
Bull & Bush Brewery - MAN BEER IPA 16.9oz
Regular Price: $5.99
Sale Price: $4.99
Sale End: 5/31/2017
ABV: 7.7%
Bull & Bush Brewery - MAN BEER IPA 16.9oz

Exciting aromas– like a citrus-filled fruit basket. It’s a beer with attitude. The foundation of this beer is very malty, marrying nicely with the bold hop notes that emerge on the palate and ultimately dominate its lingering finish. A beer not soon forgotten.
Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: April
Green FlashBrewing Co. - Imperial IPA 22oz
Regular Price: $6.99
Sale Price: $5.49
Sale End: 4/30/2017
ABV: 9.0%
IBUs: 101
Beer Advocate: 91
Rate Beer: 99
Green FlashBrewing Co. -  Imperial IPA 22oz

The mountains of Summit and Nugget hops in this high gravity Imperial will thrill even the most experienced beer explorer. Savory evergreen and pineapple aromas mingle with flavors of bitter, resinous pine and grapefruit pith. A colossal rush of hoppy adventure!
Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: April
The Post Brewing Co. - Achtertuin Seizoen Farmhouse Ale 750ml
Regular Price: $11.99
Sale Price: $9.99
Sale End: 4/30/2017
ABV: 5.6%
Score: Gold Medal – 2016 Great American Beer Festival – Classic Saison
The Post Brewing Co. - Achtertuin Seizoen Farmhouse Ale 750ml

Backyard Season is beer drinking season. Achtertuin Seizoen is the perfect beer for backyard beer drinking. Inspired by the delicious farmhouse ales of Belgium and Holland, this beer is a fragrant reminder that life is better outside.

Brewed to 5.6% ABV with barley, wheat and rye malts, this hazy golden ale is spiced with three distinct American hop varieties for a floral and fruity aroma. French ale yeast provides delicious fruit and spice notes and brings the beer to a dry and mildly tart refreshing finish.

Put on your sunglasses. We’re going out to the achtertuin!
Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: March
Upslope Brewing Co. Peanut Butter Porter 19.2oz Can
Regular Price: $5.99
Sale Price: $4.99
Sale End: 3/31/2017
ABV: 5.3%
IBUs: 30
Upslope Brewing Co. Peanut Butter Porter 19.2oz Can

For anyone unfamiliar with their Tap Room Series of beers, they run parallel to the Lee Hill Series and are released eight times a year. Rather than focusing on complex, barrel aged beers like their Lee Hill Series, the Tap Room Series highlights some of the favorites that they serve on draft at their Boulder tap rooms. These limited releases are brought back to both of their tap rooms, as well as canned in their signature topographic 19.2 oz bomber cans. They also brew them in larger batches, so these popular beers are available for a bit longer to give their fans a chance to try some crowd favorites.

The new Peanut Butter Porter started out by slightly tweaking a tried and true Porter recipe that their staff loves for a new twist. The bold and dark malts used offer a rich sweetness and a touch of roastiness. The slight amount of hops accents the roasted flavors to balance the beer out. For the peanut butter flavor, they focused on a distinct roasted peanut taste to mingle with the sweetness of the Porter. The result is a robust peanut butter beer that is primarily a great porter, but with a sweet, nutty flavor, creamy texture and slightly salty finish. This reinvention of their Peanut Butter Porter is sure to be a hit with beer nerds… and anyone with sweet tooth!
Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: March
Brouwerij Duvel Moortgat - Duvel - Belgian Strong Pale Ale 750ml
Regular Price: $11.99
Sale Price: $9.99
Sale End: 3/31/2017
ABV: 8.5%
Beer Advocate: 95
Rate Beer: 98
Brouwerij Duvel Moortgat - Duvel - Belgian Strong Pale Ale 750ml

Widely considered the definitive example of the Belgian Strong Pale Ale style. Aromas are of clove, pepper, spice, with yeast in the background. Flavors follow suit with a firm hop bitterness, solid malt profile, and alcohol warmth. A cleansing crispness makes this Strong Pale Ale almost too drinkable!
Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: February
Breakside Brewery - Salted Caramel Stout 22oz
Regular Price: $7.99
Sale Price: $5.99
Sale End: 2/28/2017
ABV: 6.8%
Rate Beer: 93
Breakside Brewery - Salted Caramel Stout 22oz

Dessert fans rejoice! Breakside Brewery, out of Portland, Oregon, has teamed up with Salt & Straw Ice Cream to create the perfect blend of sea salt and caramel in a full-bodied stout. Rich, balanced, smooth, and roasted. The beer pours a dark brown/black with about an inch of foam. Aroma is pleasant with a nice roasty character and an enjoyable lactose undertone. On the palate sits a sweet stout with caramel-toffee flavors and a touch of salt. This salt component works perfectly to entice the drinker to reach for the glass again…and again. This beer balances a lot of rich, complex flavors perfectly. This is truly dessert in a glass.
Food Pairing:
Pair this delicious dessert beer with a dozen roses, chocolate covered strawberries, and that special someone.
Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: November
Wiley Roots Brewing Co. - Deep Roots Chocolate Porter 22oz
Regular Price: $9.99
Sale Price: $6.99
Sale End: 11/30/2016
ABV: 7%
Wiley Roots Brewing Co. - Deep Roots Chocolate Porter 22oz

Wiley Roots offers award-winning, uniquely crafted ales in downtown Greeley, Colorado. This very small brewery was awarded Gold and Bronze medals at the Great American Beer Festival in 2015 and 2013. Wiley Roots Brewing Company opened in the summer of 2013.

Deep Roots is a full-bodied, robust porter that combines chocolatey malt sweetness with subtle roasted caramel notes. A slight hop bitterness lingers in the finish. Colorado State Fair Bronze Medal 2014.
Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: October
Fremont Brewing - Cowiche Canyon Fresh Hop – Citra & Simcoe 22oz
Regular Price: $5.99
Sale Price: $4.99
Sale End: 10/31/2016
ABV: 6.0
IBUs: 50
Beer Advocate: 96
Rate Beer: 99
Fremont Brewing - Cowiche Canyon Fresh Hop – Citra & Simcoe 22oz

Cowiche Canyon Fresh Hop Ale is brewed from select organic hops grown in the Cowiche Canyon of the Yakima Valley which are harvested and placed into their kettle within 24 hours, creating a unique, once-a-year beer. They make Cowiche Canyon ale in partnership with hop-growing wizards from the Yakima Valley in an effort to expand the organic hop industry in Washington State. A portion of all sales fund the Cowiche Canyon Conservancy.
Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: September
Bull & Bush Brewery - Genessee Mountain Rainbow Espresso Oatmeal Stout 16.9oz
Regular Price: $5.99
Sale Price: $4.49
Sale End: 9/30/2016
ABV: 6.3
Bull & Bush Brewery - Genessee Mountain Rainbow Espresso Oatmeal Stout 16.9oz

An exceptional stout with an alluring dark roasty edge from the perfect balance of cold brewed espresso and specialty dark malts. Flaked oats in the mash gives this stout an intense, smooth flavor without being weighty. Inspired by their friend and coffee maven, Genessee. Another fantastic beer from The Bull & Bush!

Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: September
Crooked Stave - Petite Sour Raspberry 375ml
Regular Price: $8.99
Sale Price: $6.99
Sale End: 9/30/2016
ABV: 5.5%
Rate Beer: 99
Crooked Stave - Petite Sour Raspberry 375ml

Each Petite Sour features a different fruit to both celebrate the season and exhibit subtleties in flavor that comes from the interaction between the wild yeast Brettanomyces and a singular fruit. Petite Sour Raspberry received the equivalent of over a pound per gallon of fruit, after being primary fermented in oak with Crooked Stave’s mixed culture of wild yeast and bacteria.
On to the Tasting Notes:
Pours a hazy burnt amber/almost pink color with a lasting finger’s worth of white foamy head that dissipated quickly. The aroma is of red raspberries, Crooked Stave's signature funk, and a nice sour to tart to sweet authenticity. The flavor is balanced nicely between the sweet, tart, and sour - all with this underlying red raspberry character. A nice medium body on the palate. Overall, what an absolutely fantastic American Wild ale.
Food Pairing:
I would pair this delicious American Wild ale with a nice plate of assorted soft cheeses or a chocolate dessert of some sort. With both pairings the acidity would help to offset the richness and round out the experience. Enjoy!
Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: August
Brasserie Dupont Saison Dupont 750ml
Regular Price: $10.99
Sale Price: $8.99
Sale End: 8/31/2016
ABV: 6.5%
Beer Advocate: 93
Rate Beer: 99
Brasserie Dupont Saison Dupont 750ml

Saison Dupont is a classic Belgian farmhouse ale. This is a beautifully balanced, complex beer that has a refreshing fruitiness and long, dry finish. It is bottle conditioned and bottled unfiltered so it may be cloudy or have a slight sediment but this is normal and perfectly natural.
Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: August
Breakside Brewery - India Golden Ale - Imperial IPA 22oz
Regular Price: $7.99
Sale Price: $5.99
Sale End: 8/31/2016
ABV: 8.1%
IBUs: 60
Beer Advocate: 90
Rate Beer: 98
Breakside Brewery - India Golden Ale - Imperial IPA 22oz

Breakside Brewery opened in 2010 in the Woodlawn neighborhood of Northeast Portland as a restaurant and pub brewery. They have since expanded to a 30bbl production facility in a neighboring city. In 2014 Breakside was awarded with the highly coveted Gold Medal for American-Style IPA at the Great American Beer Festival for their flagship IPA. Breakside is also known for their portfolio of barrel-aged and sour beers like Bourbon Barrel-Aged Aztec and Passionfruit Sour a fruited berliner-weisse style.

Formerly a collaboration with Ninkasi Brewing. India Golden Ale highlights the route that lots of new hop bombs are headed: light in body, lighter in color, and HUGE in citrus flavor and aroma. India Golden Ale or "I.G.A." is a showcase for two relatively new hops, Mosaic and Eldorado. Mosaic gives the beer a bright mix of stonefruit and tropical flavors along with a big piney backbone. Eldorados are fruity and soften the finish. Breakside keeps the malt bill incredibly simple to allow the hops to take center stage in this elegant and beguiling beer.
On to the Tasting Notes:
Upon pouring into the glass, a light golden hue erupts with a thick snow white head and lots of sticky lacing. On the nose there is a beautiful bouquet of citrus, lemon zest, orange rind, and tropical fruit. The palate shows the cleanness of the beer and lets the amazing complement of hops shine. A little bitterness up front that leads to tropical fruit, a touch of resin, and a kiss of sweetness. This is an amazingly drinkable 8.1% beer with the perfect harmony of hops. IGA is another fantastic beer by a great brewery.
Food Pairing:
Enjoy this beer on its own to experience the nuances of this finely crafted Doube IPA.
Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: July
Crux Fermentation Project - Half Hitch - Imperial Mosaic IPA 500ml
Regular Price: $7.99
Sale Price: $5.99
Sale End: 7/31/2016
ABV: 10%
IBUs: 80
Beer Advocate: 91
Rate Beer: 98
Crux Fermentation Project - Half Hitch - Imperial Mosaic IPA 500ml

Crux brewmaster Larry Sidor and their brewery team are always in pursuit of the next great beer – beer that defies taste profiles with its complexity and creativity. They’ve designed the brewery to allow for non-traditional brewing methods like decoction mashing, open fermentation, oak barrel aging, wild yeast strains, and experimental hops. Hops climb up twine that’s just loosely tied to the trellis with a half hitch knot— and this Imperial IPA is just loosely tied to tradition.
On to the Tasting Notes:
The Mosaic hop imparts surprisingly floral aromas instead of the more expected grapefruit-y notes. On the palate, complex layers of flavors might remind you of guava, mango, stone fruit and lemon, unraveling your idea of what an Imperial IPA should be. Medium bodied with intense hop flavor and aroma complimented by fruity, floral, and citrus American Mosaic hops. The intention of this beer is to exhibit the fresh and bright character of Mosaic hops.
Food Pairing:
Pair this deliciously tropical IPA with something salty from the grill for your 4th of July BBQ. The guava and mango character from the Mosaic hops will balance out the meaty, oily texture of a perfectly cooked burger or steak. Sit back, relax and treat yourself right with this world class beer!
Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: June
Döllnitzer Ritterguts - Gose - 500ml
Regular Price: $6.99
Sale Price: $5.99
Sale End: 6/30/2016
ABV: 4.7%
Beer Advocate: 88
Rate Beer: 90
Döllnitzer Ritterguts - Gose - 500ml

Gose – the lactic and salty specialty ale associated with the German cities of Goslar and Leipzig – has a chronicled history dating back over a thousand years. But not so long ago, it was virtually extinct, known only to a shrinking base of locals and the odd beer tourist who made the trek to the few Leipzig pubs that still served the quirky specialty. Today, with interest in sour ales soaring, “new-traditionalist” brewers in Germany, the U.S., and beyond are recreating the style – generally with a nod towards a sweeter, more “drinkable” palate, or to a relatively simplified, aggressive lacticity. Ritterguts Gose is the real thing, the one example still made to the traditional recipes – boldly sour and funky, but with the elusive old-German qualities of balance and complexity.

On to the Tasting Notes:

Pours to a pale yellow color to slightly amber color with a fine thin head of foam and a delightfully tart nose packed with spicy coriander and saltiness. Taking a sip, the beer is slightly puckering up front and reminiscent of a Berliner Weiss really. The coriander comes through but takes a bit of a backseat to the sourness; it was more apparent in the nose. The salt definitely comes through in the finish and helps to dry the beer, and indeed it’s interesting that the beer starts salty in the nose and ends that way too.

Food Pairing:

Pair this beer with a warm summer day and a nice backyard barbecue with friends and family. Cheers!

Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: June
Firestone Walker Double Jack
Regular Price: $6.99
Sale Price: $5.49
Sale End: 6/30/2016
ABV: 9.5%
IBUs: 85
Beer Advocate: 95
Rate Beer: 100
Firestone Walker Double Jack

Firestone Walker amped up their signature Union Jack IPA to create an aggressively hopped, flawlessly balanced and dangerously drinkable imperial IPA. Double Jack opens up with bright grapefruit and tangerine American Hop aromas, courtesy of liberal dry hopping with Amarillo, Cascade, Centennial, and Simcoe. Undertones of stone fruit are revealed upon first sip, followed by the essence of blue basil and pine. A sturdy pale and crystal malt backbone brings balance to the high hop intensity.

Food Pairing:
Grilled meats and saucy barbecue are just screaming for a sip of double IPA. The charred, caramelized crust and meaty middle of a rare steak work with both the sweetness of the malt and the bitterness of the hops.
Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: June
Lindemans Oude Kriek Cuvée René
Regular Price: $10.99
Sale Price: $8.99
Sale End: 5/31/2016
ABV: 7%
Beer Advocate: NA
Rate Beer: 97
Lindemans Oude Kriek Cuvée René

In order to produce Oude Kriek Cuvée René, whole cherries (including pits) ferment in a lambic that is at least six months old in huge 10,000-liter oak barrels called foudres. After six months, this traditional kriek is bottled in corked 750 mL bottles. Oude Kriek Cuvée René is bottle-conditioned: a second fermentation process which, after a few months, will produce the carbon dioxide to which this authentic beer owes its carbonation and distinctive foam head. 

Oude Kriek has been brewed by the Lindemans brewery since 1961, renamed Oude Kriek Cuvée René in 2007, and imported into the US in 2016. 
The brewers blend aged lambic and younger lambic, to taste, and refermentation occurs in the bottle after capping. It is highly coveted by gourmands in Belgium and in the US who lay it in their cellars, sometimes for years. Lindemans Oude Kriek Cuvée René is authentic "Oude Kriek," every batch blended by hand.

On to the Tasting Notes:
Hazy ruby red in color with a delicate pinkish head. Beyond the strong aroma of fresh whole cherries lies brett defined barnyard aromas. This union of barnyard funk and cherry aromas promise an invitingly complex dryness to the drinker. As Oude Kriek opens up on the drinker's palate, the acidic tartness and sweetness of the cherries unfold into medley of flavors and textures including tartness from the cherries, notes of berry, anise, lemon peel, sherry, and chewiness from the presence of cherry skin left over from the addition of whole cherries during primary fermentation. Cherry-stones provide almond and bready notes to a medium-heavy body with soft natural carbonation. Plenty of pucker for traditional lambic lovers and those just venturing into the world of unsweetened lambics.
Food Pairing:
Pair with wild game dishes such as rabbit braised in gueuze, rack of venison with sour cherry-port sauce, Thai red curry with roasted duck. For cheese pairing, try a mild blue cheese such as Stilton or Bleu des Causses, toast with cottage cheese and herbs. Or enjoy with desserts such as crêpes with vanilla ice cream, tart red cherry granita, Brussels or Liège-style waffles. Serve in a tall, thick tumbler or Lindemans flute glass.
Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: May
Green Flash Brewing Co. - Cosmic Ristretto 22oz
Regular Price: $8.99
Sale Price: $6.99
Sale End: 5/31/2016
ABV: 8.2%
IBUs: 45
Beer Advocate: 89
Rate Beer: 98
Green Flash Brewing Co. - Cosmic Ristretto 22oz

This highly revered brew will go down in history as one of the first graduates of Green Flash's Genius Lab program into their front line. Marvel at its rich black appearance with bruleed edges and mocha-colored beer foam. Breathe in its coffee aroma and sweet malts, and savor its smooth, espresso, chocolate flavor. Don’t fight its gravitational pull. This bold, complex, java-centric Baltic Porter with Espresso is irresistible.

On to the Tasting Notes:

Upon initial pour this beer has a jet black hue with bruleed edges and a mocha beer foam. On the nose espresso roast with hints of sweet chocolate malts. So smooth on the palate with espresso roast and drying chocolate malt that provide an easy drinking texture. The candy sugar and lactose aid the body and flavor complexity with a mellow sweetness.

Food Pairing:
Pair this dark, delicious, espresso laden Baltic Porter with a few friends and your favorite dessert.
Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: April
Breakside IPA
Regular Price: $6.99
Sale Price: $4.99
Sale End: 4/30/2016
ABV: 6.8%
IBUs: 70
Beer Advocate: 92
Rate Beer: 97
Breakside IPA

This is Breakside’s take on the classic India Pale ale style - the favorite craft beer of the Northwest…and possibly all of the US. This amber colored brew is loaded with four different types of hops during the brew day and then gets dry hopped. Their IPA has a huge citrus and pine character with a strong, but refined bitterness.

On to the Tasting Notes:

Breakside’s most popular offering is this beautifully clear India Pale Ale featuring the unique character of Citra and Chinook hops. This light copper beer has huge citrus and tropical fruit aromas with hints of perfume and pine. Flavors like apricot, guava, and orange hit the tongue accompanied by a mild evergreen note. There’s just enough caramel sweetness to balance the hop flavors, but this is really a showcase for the beautiful varieties of hops grown  in the Northwest. Like all Breakside beers, this has a notably dry finish and, in true IPA form, a restrained but persistent bitterness. It’s one of the most drinkable IPAs around! 

Food Pairing:

Pair this amazing IPA with some homemade fajitas of your choice and you will be smiling the rest of the evening!

Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: March
Eden Sparkling Semi-Dry Cider 375ml
Regular Price: $9.99
Sale Price: $7.99
Sale End: 3/31/2016
ABV: 9.5%
Eden Sparkling Semi-Dry Cider 375ml

Eden Sparkling Ciders are made with locally grown apples. They use the same blend of traditional and heirloom apples that they use for their ice ciders, and then add classic Bittersweet cider varieties. True cider variety apples are sweeter and have much more tannin than eating apples. They are pretty awful to eat so you won't ever find them in a grocery store.

This particular cider is a dry, full-flavored, food-friendly naturally sparkling hard cider. 50% is an heirloom cider blend that is barrel-fermented and aged 1 year in 5 year old used French Oak puncheons. The other 50% is a bittersweet blend of Dabinett and Yarlington Mill from the following harvest, started with champagne yeast. The aged cider is gradually added to the bittersweet blend, and then fermentation finishes in the bottle. 5 months later each bottle is hand disgorged and topped off with a dose of their Heirloom Blend Ice Cider.

On to the Tasting Notes:
Upon initial pour the hue of this cider is a brilliant clear gold with a huge foamy white head. Very bright, clean, pleasant apple aroma. The slightest amount of wild yeast character with minimal funk. On the palate this cider is fresh with great acidity from the apples and a hint of white wine character. Eden's Semi-Dry cider is light bodied with the perfect amount carbonation. Delicious for any season.
Food Pairing:
Eden Sparkling Ciders are full-flavored, tannic, and clean with a champagne-like mouth feel and balanced acidity. Pairing this with some friends and a charcuterie and cheese plate will leave a smile on your face.
Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: February
Ballast Point Brewing Co. - Victory At Sea - Imperial Porter with Coffee and Vanilla
Regular Price: $8.99
Sale Price: $6.99
Sale End: 2/29/2016
ABV: 10%
Beer Advocate: 97
Rate Beer: 100
Ballast Point Brewing Co. - Victory At Sea - Imperial Porter with Coffee and Vanilla

The perfect balance of taste and aroma. An obsession with ingredients. An exploration of techniques. What started as a small group of home brewers, who simply wanted to make a better beer, evolved into the adventurers known today as Ballast Point.

A Big Porter crafted to weather any storm. Victory at Sea Imperial Porter is a bold, smooth brew with just the right amount of sweetness. They infused this robust porter with vanilla and San Diego’s own Caffe Calabria coffee beans. The subtle roasted notes and minimal acidity of the cold brewed coffee, balances perfectly with the sweet caramel undertones of the malt, creating a winning combination for your palate.

On to the Tasting Notes:

Upon initial pour into the glass a nice soft milk chocolate aroma, a hint of cocoa, and rounded out by intense coffee character. The hue of the beer is as black as night with a nice beige head. On the palate, strong coffee notes, caramel, sweet chocolate, and a decadent aftertaste of vanilla. This beer is incredibly balanced with everything going on in it. A world-class offering from Ballast Point.

Food Pairing:

Best paired with a glass and a friend. If venturing into the food realm a nice rich, decadent dessert would fit the bill. Cheers!

Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: February
Jack Rabbit Hill - New Avalon Pale Cider
Regular Price: $8.99
Sale Price: $6.99
Sale End: 2/29/2016
ABV: 7%
Jack Rabbit Hill - New Avalon Pale Cider

A dry cider wild fermented from apples grown at Ela Family Farms, hops from Jack Rabbit Hill Farm, exotic pink rose buds, and aged 6 months in Jack Rabbit Hill wine barrels. USDA Certified Organic.
On to the Tasting Notes:
Upon pouring into a glass a clear light gold color erupts with lively carbonation. The aroma is of tart apples, herbal/apple tannins, and a beautiful estery yeast character. The flavor is of crisp apple, a perfect amount of tartness that balances with the tannins, and a pleasant fruity finish. This is a fantastic cider, on par with some of the best ciders I have had to date.
Food Pairing:
Pair this delicious Cider with:

Creamy or cider-based sauces

This is cider’s natural territory and the most useful type of dish to think in terms of (rather than focussing on chicken, pork or salmon which can be prepared in so many different ways). The sort of sauces you find in Normandy which, of course is cider’s heartland. Think also of chicken casseroles or pies cooked with cider and sausages with cider (any dish cooked with onion and apples is an obvious partner - that would apply to fish dishes too)
Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: December
Epic Big Bad Baptist
Regular Price: $13.99
Sale Price: $9.99
Sale End: 12/31/2015
ABV: Varies per batch (Around 12%)
Beer Advocate: 95
Rate Beer: 100
Epic Big Bad Baptist

In 2010, Epic Brewing Company opened in Salt Lake City, Utah with six fermentation tanks giving it the flexibility to create a variety of small batch, artisanal beer. Three years later, in 2013, Epic expanded its brewery operations into Colorado by opening a second brewery in the River North district of downtown Denver. The Denver brewery offered enough space to support growing national distribution, expansion of the popular barrel aged beer program and the introduction of a line of sour beers. Along with these improvements the addition of a “proper” tap room featuring 25 taps was a long awaited realization, allowing Epic to feature its substantial beer selection on draught.

Epic's Big Bad Baptist is putting them on the craft beer map. This beer is one big bad imperial stout with cocoa nibs, coffee beans, and aged in Whiskey barrels. Each season’s release uses a different dark roasted coffee. This beer will keep you warm during the colder months and continue to give you happiness after each delicious sip.
On to the Tasting Notes:
Upon initial pour, intense aromas of coffee up front with a touch of malt sweetness to balance. Notes of roasted malt, espresso, and dark chocolate. Oak is subtle and comes through as vanilla. On the palate the very same intense coffee/espresso notes from the aroma with a wonderful chocolate character to round it out. A mild amount of barrel character, but the coffee is the star of this show. Caramel malt sweetness and subtle vanilla oak character come through, and the finish is mostly balanced—impeccably smooth without being cloying. This is an extremely tasty beer—coffee is well-executed and balance is excellent. An amazing coffee beer
that presents the coffee perfectly—balanced and accented well with delicious chocolate and roast notes and just a touch of whiskey barrel character.
Food Pairing:
Pair this with a glass and you have the perfect dessert after your winter dinner. Cheers!
Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: December
Cave de la Loterie Extra Brut Cidre Bouché
Regular Price: $13.99
Sale Price: $9.99
Sale End: 12/31/2015
ABV: 5.5%
Cave de la Loterie Extra Brut Cidre Bouché

The Aubry family has farmed in the “lieu dit” La Loterie since 1936. It is located in the “Suisse Normande” so named for its hilly terrain. Maybe after enough Calvados they look like the alps. Until 1997 the farm’s activity centered around cows, but Regis decided then to leave that behind in favor of planting an orchard with 16 hectares of apple trees and 4 hectares of pear trees. Regis built his ciderie a year later in 1998 and installed excellent modern equipment with which he could carry out his quality work. Cave de la Loterie is a certified organic farm and Regis grows 30 varieties of apples falling into the categories of bitter, bittersweet, sweet and tart.

This cider is blended from a predominance of sweet and bittersweet varieties. The apples are harvested from the end of September to mid-December once they have fallen to the ground. The fermentation occurs from indigenous yeasts and takes up to 5 months to have an Extra-Brut. After the cider is racked and filtered, it is bottled. It finishes its fermentation naturally in the bottle over the course of two to three months while stored in a temperature controlled room.
Food Pairing:
This Normandy cider pours with the most active and most foaming head. Once calmed, you encounter a whisper of cloud on an otherwise clear, gold/orange cloak. Notes of Normandy Funkiness cast a light veil over the stronger apple notes, while leaving the door open for hints of orange and lemon blossom. The residual sugar dances nicely with the bitter notes and the tannin does a good job of keeping everything going well after the sip is gone. A fantastic representation of what a Normandy cider is, and should be.
Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: November
Sonoma Cider The Hatchet
Regular Price: $6.99
Sale Price: $3.99
Sale End: 11/30/2015
ABV: 6%
Sonoma Cider The Hatchet

Occasionally it’s true that “less is more.” Take the organic apples in The Hatchet: the smaller the fruit, the bigger the flavor. But picking the smallest, most intensely-flavored apples is the easy part. It’s what happens next that matters, the blending and balancing, pairing sweet and tart varietals to yield a refreshing cider with noticeable complexity and a crisp, clean finish. It’s the hard cider equivalent of alchemy: turning little organic apples into great big flavor.
On to the Tasting Notes:
Upon initial opening of the bottle, bursts out aromas of apple, some slight sweetness, and a touch of funk. On the palate this cider is very well balanced. Dry and crisp with tart green apple flavor and a nice rounded carbonation. An extremely drinkable, well crafted, cider that is amazingly balanced and quite refreshing. A steal at this price!
Food Pairing:
Pairs well with all of your favorite flavors of Fall.
Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: October
Upslope Oktoberfest Lager
Regular Price: $5.99
Sale Price: $4.99
Sale End: 10/31/2015
ABV: 5.1%
Upslope Oktoberfest Lager

This year Upslope has come out with a few new specialized series of beers for their fans. The Lee Hill Series, which focuses on  quarterly, limited releases celebrating experimentation and creativity. While the Tap Room Series is carefully selected by their brewers and vetted in their tap room. Upslope keeps it traditional with the ingredients in this beer (Hallertau Mittelfruh hops, Munich malt, German lager yeast) to hit all of the Oktoberfest hallmarks, and the result is an excellent example of the style.
On to the Tasting Notes:
The beer pours a deep, burnt yellow with a rather large and lingering head. The beer is rich, without being heavy, with strong hints of milk chocolate and caramel. After digging into the glass, I also uncovered a fruity element—not so much citrus but something much more subtle, like melon, maybe honeydew. Everything works together to deliver a smooth, missile of a beer that’s just sweet enough to make you think ever sip is a treat.
Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: September
Finnriver Lavender Black Currant Cider
Regular Price: $$9.99
Sale Price: $$7.99
Sale End: 9/30/2015
ABV: 6.5%
Finnriver Lavender Black Currant Cider

At Finnriver they gather and ferment the flavors of the land to offer you farmcrafted hard ciders and spirited fruit wines. They are inspired by the allure of the fruit, the ancient history of the craft of fermentation, and the lively traditions we now seek to revive. Our mission is to inspire a deeper connection to the land that sustains us.

This refreshing purple-hued sparkling cider features organic Washington apples fermented and blended with the sweet and tart delights of black currant. Add to that the delicate floral notes of organic Sequin lavender, sourced from Purple Haze farm, and you have a delicious cider for the end of the summer season!
Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: September
Ommegang Hennepin
Regular Price: $9.99
Sale Price: $7.99
Sale End: 9/30/2015
ABV: 7.7
Beer Advocate: 93
Rate Beer: 97
Ommegang Hennepin

A moderately hoppy ale with a champagne-like effervescence, Hennepin has a crisp start followed by malt sweetness balanced with a firm bitterness. Pouring a bright golden color with a spicy-sweet balance of orange peel, sweet malt, hops, and ginger, Hennepin makes way for a dry finish with a slight bite of ginger. A deliciously well-rounded, balanced beer!
Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: August
Brouwerij Verhaeghe - Duchesse De Bourgogne
Regular Price: $13.99
Sale Price: $11.99
Sale End: 8/31/2015
ABV: 6.2%
Beer Advocate: 91
Rate Beer: 97
Brouwerij Verhaeghe - Duchesse De Bourgogne

Brewery Verhaeghe, established in 1875, is a small brewery located in Vichte, West Flanders, Belgium. They specialize in Flanders red ales and other traditional Belgain styles. Their most popular offering, Duchesee de Bourgogne, is a traditional top fermented reddish-brown ale. This refined ale also known as "The Burgundies of Belgium" is a blend of 8 and 18 months old ales following careful maturation in oak casks. It is 100% natural and unpasteurized....
On to the Tasting Notes:
Upon pouring into the glass, the hue of the beer is a deep red/burgundy color. A decent thin head fades to a nice ring around the glass. Aromas of sour cherry and a slight vinegar character explode into the air. The combination of carbonation and acidity are a welcome friend. A nice complexity on the palate that contains a delightful tang of tartness along with a touch of oak and some dark cherries. It has been far too long since I have experienced this beer and need to make it a point to not wait as long for the next time.
Food Pairing:
The Duchess pairs perfectly with just a glass and some good friends. If you would like to pair it with food, a nice spiced chicken, port-salut chesse, or poached pears with dulce de leche would complement this beer nicely.
Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: August
Nøgne Ø/Bridge Road India Saison
Regular Price: $$9.49
Sale Price: $$7.99
Sale End: 8/31/2015
ABV: 7.5%
Rate Beer: 97
Nøgne Ø/Bridge Road India Saison

This is the hoppy, crisp and refreshing result of a north south collaboration between Bridge Road Brewers and Nøgne Ø. Bridge Road is an Australian brewery that continues to push the boundaries in terms of unique and crafted ales while refining its nationally distributed range of ‘what you’d expect from a craft brewer’. Nøgne Ø is Norway's leading and largest supplier of bottle conditioned ales. Their vision is to bring diversity and innovation into commercial brewing of real ale. The beer these two breweries collaborated on is dry with a full mouthfeel from rich Australian hops with a tropical aroma profile. Bitterness is assertive but gentle with classic Belgian malts and yeast.
On to the Tasting Notes:
The beer pours a deep orange to brown color with a big off-white head. On the nose, there is a strong yeasty hint that reminds me of many other Saisons. There are also hints of pineapple and some bitter grassy notes. The palate is much like the aroma with yeast driven fruit and some lovely sweetness from the malt along with some hints of pine, grass, and some spices. The mouth feel is silky smooth with a sharp carbonation. Up front there are some hints of sweet pineapple and other tropical fruits from the blend of hops and yeast. This beer is the best of both worlds. It is an IPA on the front end with a Saison body and finish. A truly well done collaboration by these two breweries on opposite ends of the world.
Food Pairing:
This fantastic mash-up of two of the most popular beer styles pairs perfectly with cheeses and charcuterie.
Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: May
Argus Cidery Tepache Pineapple Cider
Regular Price: $8.99
Sale Price: $5.99
Sale End: 5/31/2015
ABV: 7.2
Argus Cidery Tepache Pineapple Cider

Argus Cidery is Texas' first American Hard Cider crafted from apples produced by Texas and Arkansas growers. Their cider styles are dry and crisp, made with selected wild and traditional yeast strains and oaked to suit. This results in either Champagne like cider or crisp, still cider.
On to the Tasting Notes:
Tepache, on the other hand, is a wild sparkling pineapple cider with light bubbles, a light spice from a house blend of french oak, and a nice crisp tropical finish. Featuring a flavor profile of straightforward pineapple and citrus notes, with a mineral, and some would even say, salty finish. This demi-sec fermentable is a derivative of traditional tepache, a beverage based on utilization of the whole pineapple with yeast and spices.
Food Pairing:
Best enjoyed on a nice warm, sunny day served chilled or over ice. Pair this with a nice backyard BBQ and some of your favorite people. Salud!
Beer Reviews
Bomber Of The Month: April
Ommegang/D'Achoufee Gnomegang
Regular Price: $9.99
Sale Price: $7.99
Sale End: 4/30/2015
ABV: 9.5
Beer Advocate: 92
Rate Beer: 98
Ommegang/D'Achoufee Gnomegang

Brewery Ommegang is a Belgian brewery located near Cooperstown, New York that specializes in Belgian-style ales. Ommegang began brewing Belgian-style ales in 1997. Founded by Don Feinberg and Wendy Littlefield, owners of Vanberg & DeWulf beer import company, and three family owned Belgian breweries including Duvel Moortgat. Ommegang started up in a purpose-built building based on a traditional Belgian farmhouse, set on a former 136-acre (0.55 km2) hop farm in the Susqehanna River Valley, four miles (6 km) south of Cooperstown, New York in the Town of Milford. Since its opening, Ommegang has grown rapidly and has created quite a following for their beers.
On to the Tasting Notes:
This delectable blonde ale is a co-creation of two famed farmstead breweries: Brewery Ommegang and Brasserie d'Achouffe. It employs five fine malts, two noble hops, and both of the distinctive Chouffe and Ommegang yeasts The beer boasts a brilliant golden hue with delicate flavors of light caramel and candy sweetness. You'll enjoy the smooth drinkability, fruity aromas and flavors, and warming finish.
Food Pairing:
Pairs well with roasted fish, chicken, honey glazed ham, Gorgonzola, Blue Sharp Cheddar, and Roquefort cheeses. Finish off the meal with some pecan pie or a stone fruit dessert for a delicious ending to your meal. Cheers!
Beer Reviews
Bomber Of The Month: April
Fremont 77 Select Session IPA
Regular Price: $4.99
Sale Price: $3.49
Sale End: 4/30/2015
ABV: 4%
Rate Beer: 93
Fremont 77 Select Session IPA

Fremont Brewing was born of their love for their home and history as well as the desire to prove that beer made with the finest local ingredients – organic when possible – is not the wave of the future but the doorway to beer's history. Starting a brewery in the midst of the Great Recession is clearly an act of passion. They invite you to come along with them and enjoy that passion … Because Beer Matters.
On to the Tasting Notes:
A crisp and refreshing spring wunderbeer, 77 Select is Fire Brewed in the pits of Fremont Brewing to achieve its rarefied Session IPA status. Notes of grapefruit, lemon rind, citrus, pine, and a nice floral component. The beer is brewed with 2-Row Pale, Special Aromatic, Honey malts, Citra, Chinook, Calypso, and Cascade hops.
Food Pairing:
This beer is best paired with warm weather, friends, and anything grilled. A great option for some spring/early summer drinking.
Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: March
Anchorage/Jolly Pumpkin Calabaza Boreal
Regular Price: $16.99
Sale Price: $11.99
Sale End: 3/31/2015
ABV: 7%
IBUs: 40
Beer Advocate: 93%
Rate Beer: 99
Anchorage/Jolly Pumpkin Calabaza Boreal

This is a collaboration brew between Anchorage Brewing Company and Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales. Each brewery does their own version of the beer, and this is Anchorage’s version. Anchorage was founded by brewer Gabe Fletcher. They specialize in barrel fermented ales with brettanomyces and souring cultures. Blurring the lines between new and old styles of beer and brewing procedures, they take extreme steps to produce some of the most unique beers ever made. This beer showcases the creativity that both Anchorage and Jolly Pumpkin are known for. It’s brewed with grapefruit peels, grapefruit juice, pepper corns, and is left to ferment/age in oak barrels.
On to the Tasting Notes:
Poured into a tulip glass, a decent medium head quickly builds and subsides to a nice thick layer and carbonated lacing. The smell of intense grapefruit explodes as soon as you open the bottle. The hue of the beer is a hazy orange to gold. This yeast driven beer blends very well with the grapefruit that was added and chardonnay barrels it was aged in, without being too fruity. The hops add a nice bitterness to balance out the slightly sweet fruity esters. The peppercorn adds a little spiciness to the back end. This is a fantastic collaboration beer by two of the most prolific breweries doing barrel-aging in the United States.
Food Pairing:
This beer lends itself to be enjoyed with food. The tart and acidic characteristics of the brettanomyces along with the acidity of the grapefruit scream to be paired with fresh seafood. The bright, citrusy notes will slice through the rich, fattiness of the dish. Grab the freshest catch you can and pair it with this delicious beer. The world of flavor is your oyster!
Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: February
La Socarrada
Regular Price: $12.99
Sale Price: $9.99
Sale End: 2/28/2015
ABV: 6%
La Socarrada

La Socarrada Cervesa Artesanal De Xativa is located south of Valencia in eastern Spain. They set out to do something special in the local beer scene from their inception. Their philosophy is to produce beer carefully and passionately in small batches, using exclusively natural and high quality ingredients. La Socarrada is a top-fermenting Winter Honey Ale, made of barley malt, rosemary, rosemary honey, hops, and yeast. Rosemary is a very popular herb used in the region to flavor dishes such as paella and is not normally incorporated into the world of beer. As a result La Socarrada is a “gastro-ale,” and is intended to be enjoyed with food and good company.
On to the Tasting Notes:
Upon initial pour the beer has a hazy, medium copper-amber hue with a moderately thick, off white head that has excellent retention. Aromas dominated by rosemary, together with subtle toasted bread and Belgian yeast esters. On the palate a nice spicy rosemary character, some ginger, a hint of white pepper and honey grace the taste buds. This beer has the right amount of effervescence and dryness on the finish to coax you into that next delicious sip. Salud!
Food Pairing:
As I mentioned before, this beer screams to be paired with food. One should look to the region in Spain that it was brewed, Xativa. For lighter fare pair this alongside manchego and pecorino cheeses. For a heartier meal this would be quite delicious with paella, jambalaya, roasted lamb, pork loin, wild game, steak, spiced poultry and seafood. It is such a versatile food beer that you cannot go wrong with your choice.
Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: January
Colorado Cider Company Newtown Pippin
Regular Price: $8.99
Sale Price: $7.49
Sale End: 1/31/2015
ABV: 6%
Colorado Cider Company Newtown Pippin

Colorado Cider Company, started in Denver in the spring of 2011, was created to produce fresh hard cider for the discerning Colorado drinker. With a well-developed craft beer and spirits market and an educated populace, premium quality hard cider was missing from the local scene. They bottled their first batch of Glider Cider in April of 2011 and have not looked back since. The company recently created their pioneer series. In this series they will be doing single variety ciders with fresh, in season, apples. They decided to go with Newtown Pippin, or Pippin, as their first offering.
On to the Tasting Notes:
Upon initial pour the cider has a light golden hue with tiniest lingering white foam. The aromas of apple (almost that of Honeycrisp), tropical fruit, and pineapple attack the nose. The first sip brings a sensation of fresh apple, soft pineapple, and the slightest amount of pleasant sweetness to balance the cider perfectly. This is a well-crafted, easy drinking cider that displays the prominent characteristics of the single variety of apple, Newtown Pippin. The glass will be empty before you even realize it. It is just that clean, crisp, and delicious!
Food Pairing:
With the delicate and crisp nature of Colorado Cider Company’s Newtown Pippin a fun pairing route to go would be a nice assortment of cheeses. To get you started many drier styles pair beautifully with rich, buttery cheeses (think double-cream cheddar, a 2-year aged gouda or a creamy bleu), while the big apple flavors of semi-sweet ciders is gorgeous with fresh chevre or mild, nutty, soft-ripened cheeses. So go out there and grab a few different styles and have fun experiencing the art of Cheese and Cider pairing!
Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: January
Jolly Pumpkin Madrugada Obscura
Regular Price: $15.99
Sale Price: $11.99
ABV: 8.1%
Rate Beer: 96
Jolly Pumpkin Madrugada Obscura

Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales, started in Dexter, Michigan in 2004, is driven by the desires of open fermentation, oak barrel aging, and bottle conditioning. They are dedicated to more than the traditions of old world craftsmanship. Everything done at Jolly Pumpkin is designed to create ales of outstanding art and flavor. Focusing on traditional rustic country style beers brought to life through labor and love, they strive to create beers to lighten the spirit and soothe the soul. Jolly Pumpkin ages their beers in wine barrels which contain naturally occurring microbiological cultures including brettanomyces. These cultures come together to create tart, funky, earthy, complex notes that give the brewery its distinct character.
On to the Tasting Notes:
Upon initial pour the hue of the beer is a deep, dark brown almost black, with a thin tan head that dissipates quite quickly. The beer displays aromas of intense tart cherries, chocolate, lemon, and subtle smoke. On the palate it brings flavors along the same lines as the aroma. Tart cherry, green apple, lemon, dark dried fruit, dark chocolate, barnyard funk, and yeast/roasted earthiness all come shining through. This is a perfect blend of the rich dark malt character of a Belgian stout mixed with the funky, tart, acidic nuances that brettanomyces and barrel-aging can achieve. There is so much going on in this beer that you will experience a new sensation with each sip. It is another fantastic, and possibly my favorite, offering from Jolly Pumpkin!
Food Pairing:
In my opinion, this beer screams to be paired with dessert. The rich and roasted character of the base beer along with the brightness and acidity of the wild yeast will compare and contrast nicely with a sour cherry pie. The sour cherry notes in the beer will complement the ones in the dish. While the chocolate, coffee, and lemon tartness will add another dimension to take this dish to the next level. With this said, sour beers have endless possibilities when it comes to food pairings. So go ahead, pick one up and come up with your own delicious complement to this incredible beer from Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales. Cheers!
Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: December
Le Trou Du Diable - La Grivoise De Noel
Regular Price: $9.99
Sale Price: $7.99
Sale End: 12/31/2014
ABV: 7.5%
Rate Beer: 92 Points
Le Trou Du Diable - La Grivoise De Noel

Le Trou Du Diable is a Brewery based in Shawinigan, mid-way between Montréal and Québec City, Quebec. The Brewery’s name literally translates to “Devil’s Hole”, and is a reference to a mighty whirlpool called “The Cauldron” located at the bottom of Shawinigan Falls. Le Trou du Diable first opened its doors and started brewing in December of 2005. They are known for making quality beers that span the gamut of styles and have many awards that stand as proof of their quality craftsmanship.
On to the Tasting Notes:
Upon initial pour the hue of the beer was a medium to dark amber color, almost plum-like in color. The beer started with a decent one-finger head of foam that dissipated quite quickly. The aromas of dark dried fruits, caramel, toffee, honey, and holiday spice were quite familiar with this style. The first sip brought about the same dark dried fruits from the aroma as well as a nice balanced sweetness from the malts. Towards the end of the taste experience, a biscuitier characteristic came through ending with a slightly spiced and malty finish. This was an excellently made Holiday Belgian Strong Dark ale that will surely warm you up with its subtle heat and well balanced holiday spices. Santé!
Food Pairing:
Due to the big bold flavors of La Grivoise De Noel it needs to be paired with a dish that has some weight behind it. Beef Shanks cooked with some peppercorns, cloves, allspice, bay leaves, cinnamon, and a couple cups of the beer would blend together quite nicely. The seasonal spices of the beer along with the hearty character of the meat will surely put you in a happy place with the colder months of the year upon us.
Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: December
Sonoma Cider The Anvil Bourbon
Regular Price: $6.49
Sale Price: $4.99
Sale End: 12/31/2014
ABV: 6%
Sonoma Cider The Anvil Bourbon

Sonoma Cider, started in Healdsburg California, is known for making world class easily approachable ciders. They devote all of their time and energy into producing three variations with only organic apples and pears. One creation that sets them apart from the masses is The Anvil cider that they produce. This particular cider captures the essence of bourbon and introduces it into their apple cider. The outcome is something quite stunning and completely unique.
On to the Tasting Notes:
Upon initial pour the hue of the cider is a medium to dark copper with a delicate white, semi-lingering, foam. The aromas of apple, bourbon, vanilla, and a slight earthiness are quite pleasant and not normally present in cider. The first sip brings thoughts of bourbon without that heat that normally follows. Fresh apple, subtle butterscotch, vanilla, spice with a dry finish. This is one of the most interesting domestic ciders I have tried in a long time. It will leave you wanting to take a next sip and enjoy the process once again. Sonoma Cider has created something truly unique and should be experienced by all.
Food Pairing:
The bourbon component of this cider makes me think that semi-heavier fall and winter dishes would work better with the flavor profile. A nice beef or venison chili would be a delicious pairing. The crisp clean nature of the cider would cut through the heaviness of the dish while the bourbon character would help it hold up nicely. I cannot wait until the masterminds at Sonoma Cider come up with another interesting idea on what cider can become.
Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: November
J.K.'s Cuvee Winterruption Farmhouse Hard Cider
Regular Price: $8.99
Sale Price: $7.99
Sale End: 11/30/2014
ABV: 6.9
Rate Beer: 97
J.K.'s Cuvee Winterruption Farmhouse Hard Cider

The earliest record of cider making dates back to the year 55 BC when the Romans arrived in the town of Kent, England. The locals there were fermenting apples to create a thirst quenching alcoholic beverage. In the United States of America the origins of cider making dates back to the first English settlers in the Country. Upon arrival, the immigrants found only inedible apple varieties and decided to request seeds from England be sent over immediately. Hard Cider was actually by far the most popular alcoholic beverage during the early days of our Country. This is due to the fact that apples were a lot easier to farm than barley, grapes, and other grains used in the production of beer, wine, or whiskey.

Started in the 1850s in Flushing, Michigan, J.K.’s Scrumpy has produced cider from the same apples grown in their own orchards. Handed down through generations, the company has been family-owned since its inception. They use only organic apples without the use of insecticides or other chemicals. For J.K.’s Cuvee Winterruption they took those very same organically grown apples and created a cold weather cider with subtle spices, cinnamon, vanilla, and a small amount of maple syrup. The outcome is a well crafted option for the colder months of the year.
On to the Tasting Notes:
After uncapping and pouring into a tulip glass the cider has a golden hue with a very minimal head. Intense aromas of apple, cinnamon, and vanilla fill the glass. Keeping with the pleasant aromas, this cider hits the palate with moderate sweetness, rich apple, cinnamon, vanilla, and a late, subtle, earthiness that rounds out the edges. This is an exceptional offering for late fall and all of winter from a company that has been perfecting its craft for over 150 years.
Food Pairing:
J.K.’s Scrumpy Cuvee Winterruption cider will pair very well with all of your holiday food and festivities. From turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes on Thanksgiving to ham, roasted vegetables, and delicious desserts during your winter celebrations. This cider has enough body and mouthfeel to stand up to those big meals with a nice subtle touch of vanilla, maple syrup, and spices. Though it’s wonderful on its own it will certainly add a welcome dimension to any meal during the Holiday season.
Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: November
Evil Twin Femme Fatale Yuzu Pale Ale
Regular Price: $11.99
Sale Price: $9.99
Sale End: 11/30/2014
ABV: 6%
Beer Advocate: 92
Rate Beer: 98
Evil Twin Femme Fatale Yuzu Pale Ale

Arguably one of the most popular beer styles on the market today, the India Pale Ale has a rich and long history dating back to the late 1700s. It all began in England when the British Empire began heavily trading goods to India. One of the most important items to be sent would obviously be beer. Pale ales of the time had stability issues when traveling for extended periods of time without proper storage conditions. So this prompted brewers to heavily hop their pale ales utilizing natural preservatives in the hops to make the trip without the beer spoiling. Nowadays, we see numerous types of IPAs spanning the entire spectrum of the style.

Evil Twin Brewing is a gypsy brewery founded by Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø in 2010. They have a running series of beers, named Femme Fatale, that utilize the India Pale Ale as the base while adding additional flavors or barrel-aging. For this particular offering they decided to use the asian citrus fruit, Yuzu. Along with the fruit, Evil Twin adds a strain of yeast called Brettanomyces which imparts a fruity, tart funkiness. This is a drastic change from the India Pale Ales of the late 1700s but shows the amazing possibilities of the style.
On to the Tasting Notes:
The cap is removed from the bottle with an intense burst of carbon dioxide. This is most likely due to the secondary fermentation taking place inside the bottle. Once poured into a glass the beer has a hazy yellow hue with a foamy white head that fades very slowly leaving great lacing. Amazing aromas of orange, grapefruit, tangerine, and lemon dominate the nose. On the palate this beer starts out ever so slightly sweet with notes of lemon, grapefruit, orange, and tangerine. This then immediately gives way to some pleasant bitterness from the piney and citrusy hops. Femme Fatale Yuzu is a fantastic offering of a style that has been ever changing since its creation over 200 years ago.
Food Pairing:
The first food pairing that comes to mind when drinking this beer is a seafood dish. The brightness of the Yuzu fruit and mellow bitterness of the hops lends itself to this cuisine. A Smoked Trout Salad with shallot, avocado, and grapefruit would work incredibly well with the Japanese Yuzu fruit IPA. This Femme Fatale Yuzu Pale would also pair deliciously with Thanksgiving dinner. The dry, bitter tartness on the finish of the beer would be a nice palate cleanse for all of those delicious trimmings on the festive Holiday.
Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: October
Almanac Brewing Co. - Golden Gate Gose
Regular Price: $6.99
Sale Price: $5.99
Sale End: 10/31/2014
ABV: 5%
Beer Advocate: 84
Rate Beer: 90
Almanac Brewing Co. - Golden Gate Gose

First brewed about 1000 years ago the Gose style, pronounced “Gose-uh”, contains more than 50% malted wheat with the rest of the grain bill being comprised of malted barley. The beer style is most closely related to the town of Leipzig, Germany, and went through a resurgence in the late 1980s. What makes this ale an interesting one is the addition of a slightly salted water base. On top of that it is fermented with lactic bacteria as well as the brewery’s choice of yeast strain. Most are then flavored with some sort of combination of coriander, hops, or colored syrups.

Almanac Beer Company is among the many U.S. breweries helping to bring this style to the masses. Golden Gate Gose is brewed with salt, lemon verbena, and coriander. Almost all of their ingredients for this beer were produced locally in California. One interesting twist Almanac decided to do with this beer is to ferment it with their house Saison yeast instead of the typical German Hefeweizen strain. The change of yeast will produce different esters than the traditional beers have.
On to the Tasting Notes:
The beer pours a slightly cloudy golden hue with a two finger head that quickly dissipates to a nice white lacing. Coriander and lemon verbena dominate the aroma with hints of wheat, brine, and spice in the background. On the palate is a continual tart, not sour, characteristic that is surrounded by notes of wheat, coriander, lemon, lime, and salt. This is a beautiful marriage between all of these complementary spices. The Golden Gate Gose is another marvelous beer by Almanac who is putting themselves, in just four short years, on the list of great new breweries in the Country.
Food Pairing:
The first food pairing that comes to mind when drinking this beer is fresh seafood. The Gose lends itself well to this cuisine because of the light, crisp, tart characteristics it imparts, and heck, it is brewed with sea salt. Smoked salmon with black pepper, lemon juice, thyme, and other spices of choice will really bring out the best of both food and drink. Another great pairing for this Gose would be a grilled halibut with fresh lemon and rosemary. The Gose lends itself to pairing numerous dishes because of its balanced acidity and saltiness.
Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: October
Prairie Artisan Ales - Prairie Ale
Regular Price: $9.99
Sale Price: $7.99
Sale End: 10/31/2014
ABV: 8.2
Beer Advocate: 91%
Rate Beer: 98 Points
Prairie Artisan Ales - Prairie Ale

The Saison, as a style, has been around in some form or another since the early part of the 1600s. It originated in the southern half of Belgium, Wallonia region, where the language is predominately French. This ale was brewed once a year in the fall and consumed a year later during the harvest. It has not been until recently that American brewers have really grabbed a hold of the style and started making it their own.

Prairie Artisan Ales is one of those breweries devoting a good portion of their brewing capacity to producing Belgian Farmhouse Ales. Prairie ale is a traditional Saison brewed with ingredients that would likely have been around back when the style was created. Instead of using new high alpha acid hops, such as other breweries do, they decided to utilize Saaz and other varieties that add spiciness and allow the yeasts to shine through. This is truly a classic style made in the new world.
On to the Tasting Notes:
Upon initial pour the carbonation ascends to the top of the glass with large, pure white, bubbles. The hue of the beer is an almost bright yellow with just a hint of cloudiness from the yeast. The aromas of spice, citrus, and a slight funkiness are quite pleasant and not uncommon for the style. The first sip brings thoughts of lemon, some dry tartness from the Brettanomyces, and unmistakable scent of fresh baked bread warm from the oven. The citrus and subtle dry spiciness linger for a bit on the palate before finishing. This will leave one wanting to take a next sip and enjoy the process once again. Prairie has created a delicious representation of the style and theirs is best enjoyed in any season!
Food Pairing:
There are a few different ways one could take pairing this delicious Saison. First, playing off the spicy and earthy characteristics, it lends itself to pairing with Asian and Middle-Eastern dishes. A nice Pad Thai with lemon, ginger, and fresh spices, or a gyro with seasoned lamb and Mediterranean spices would complement each other nicely. Another route that would work perfectly for this beer would be roasted chicken with garlic and thyme. The Saison would be transparent enough to let the subtle nuances of how the bird was prepared shine through while adding a nice dry citrus note to it.
Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: September
Amager Rye Porter
Regular Price: $10.99
Sale Price: $7.49
ABV: 8.5
Beer Advocate: 90
Rate Beer: 99
Amager Rye Porter

While Rye is seemingly all the rage in American brewing, this grain has a long history within the Danish scene. Quite a fundamental part of the culture and one that defines flavors across the culinary landscape, rye is distinctly particular as a flavor. Tasting of grass and herbal mint tones but still having a woody, somewhat walnut sort of bitterness, rye seems to have been perfectly suitable for an application to beer. While yet another placement of interest that the Danes know a bit too well, the porters and stouts coming from Denmark have tones and characteristics all their own. Roasted flavors are pronounced and lean almost on the charred and acrid side. These blistered flavors are supported by a balancing semi-sweet chocolate tone that gives deep satisfaction (think of boldly smoked bbq that glistens with a sticky glaze of sweetness and how the way its abrasive flavor easily take one’s senses over). Danish dark beer and rye malts, it almost doesn’t get much more appropriate.


The Amager brewery is widely respected by countless contributors to the movement of current micro-styled beers. Mikkeller cut his teeth on their system while the polarizing brother at Evil Twin once formulated oak aged creations, even Shaun Hill of Hill Farmstead fame conceptualized new recipes with the Amager crew. While not the ultimate defining force for Danish beer, they certainly are a major contributor to the history and high status of importance within Scandinavian beer culture.
On to the Tasting Notes:

Amager’s Rye Porter pours with full bubbles that collect with a striking russet tone of deep brown. The nearly black liquid rests beneath the frothy carbonation and entices with a sleek onyx appearance. Amazingly fresh aromas of cut grass and wild herbs emerge from the glass that somewhat contradict what would have been expected in a beer that is so dark. Anise, molasses, sesame and dill are pronounced but met with the typical Porter presence of cocoa, caramel and coffee. The rye isn’t out of place in this beer, instead; it contributes a very focusing dynamic that singularly separates it from just about any other on the market.


The first flavor of the beer holds as much intensity as was detected on the aromas; radish tops, citrus, lemon balm, sourdough and spicy peppers hit the palate with a wonderful uniqueness of character. Very bold in their presence but the flavors settle and allow for all the chocolate, nutty and baked bread undertones to come to light. The beer has a richness but one that isn’t by way of sticky sweetness. The caramelized edge is subdued beneath the nutty, herbal and roasted tones, all of which add up to define the composition of the beer’s nature. Amager’s Rye Porter is boldly layered with memorable nuances that give a glimpse to how dark beers are crafted a world away.
Food Pairing:
One can’t drink this beer without an image of the ubiquitous Rugbrød coming to mind. The famous Danish rye bread began the initial thought process for the Rye Porter in the first place and it would only be appropriate to have a small offering alongside. The grain would unify throughout while the highly umami flavors of the sourdough would align in a most singular way. To contrast the chewy tones of the beer, pickled items or bold cheeses could stand up and make for an interesting interplay. Smoked salmon, spicy shrimp or steamed clams would bring out a mid-palate mineral note that only seafood could find. Stewed tomatoes, long braised beans or deeply cooked leafy greens are also suitable; add a unctuous piece of hearty lamb to really see the sparks fly and drive home a pairing not soon to be forgotten.
Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: September
Jolly Pumpkin: Maracaibo Especial
Regular Price: $15.99
Sale Price: $11.99
Sale End: 9/30/2014
ABV: 7.5
Rate Beer: 98
Jolly Pumpkin: Maracaibo Especial

The legendary Michigan brewery of Jolly Pumpkin is perhaps one of the singular defining entities when discussing the important status of American breweries focusing on all things wild. One of the very first breweries in the country to craft beers that all see time in oak barrels, Jolly Pumpkin set out to define a vision that was all but scarce. Their method for creation allows for a wide family of beers that all share a similar 'wild' character from their house cultures of bacteria and Brettanomyces yeast. Intricate and varied but still amazingly structured and full of life, Jolly Pumpkin's beers are singular experiences that have very few rivals.

 

The signature flavors and style of Jolly Pumpkin blossom with extend bottle aging (one is almost required to allow for at least 3 months of waiting before opening). At the 6 month mark, the wild yeast used for bottle conditioning is fully present offering distinct earthy aromas of hay and wild herbs in addition to that quality simply described as 'funky'. (The date for the beer reviewed came from a November 2013 batch). 

 

Have your glass at the ready; JP's beers are always excited to emerge from their glass containers with a bubbling fury of energetic foam. Floral with marmalade and preserved fruit notes, some woody tones with a slight tang of cherry and a vinous sort comparison. The cinnamon used is welcoming with a zesty spiciness that works wonderfully well with the wild yeast's tropical and slightly gamey qualities. Sourdough bread, currants, gape leaves and black tea give a deep range of aromas that entice as only oak aged beer can.

On to the Tasting Notes:

The first sensation hits the palate with tart cherries and dried fruits. Concentrated and expressively tart, the funky side of the beer immediately builds mid-palate with woody notes that are as heady as they are complex. Leather and charred oak, figs and toasted nuts, cranberries and cinnamon sticks are all present with waves of flavor. The sour edge of the beer holds though and leaves a pucker on the tongue while a spicy sort of bitterness lasts long after the liquid is swallowed. The range of sensations and the variety of flavors are wide and only contribute to the beer's overall mystic. Intricately layered but not overly blatant as something that can easily be defined; simply another offering from Jolly Pumpkin that keeps us guessing.

Food Pairing:

Brilliant with anything containing an edge of roast; be it assorted root vegetables, whole chickens, thick slices of hearty squash or a glistening rack of ribs. The natural dark flavors of the beer together with the added level of acidity would bring just the range of qualities needed for anything with a degree of char. The earthy and umami depth of dry-aged beef could unify with Maracaibo on the same level that a dusty and tannin rich bottle of Bordeaux might. This is another beer that wouldn't stray from the sharp flavors of garlic or onions, the more concentrated the better; French onion soup, braised garlic smeared on toast or Middle eastern lamb filled onion rolls. Grab a special wheel of ultra-rip washed rind cheese; a beer like this needs a memorable partner with the same degree of intensity.

Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: August
Deschutes Cinder Cone Red Ale
Regular Price: $4.99
Sale Price: $3.99
Sale End: 8/31/2014
ABV: 5.3
Rate Beer: 95
Deschutes Cinder Cone Red Ale

The Deschutes Brewery is one of a few businesses that makeup the ‘second wave’ of American Mico-breweries. Breweries of this status are varied and those that begun in the mid-eighties into the early-nineties are representative of a different era given the long climb that was needed to cross into the 2000’s when ‘craft’ beer really began to be understood. Originating from Bend, Oregon in 1988, their bottled beers are just now barely making distribution across the Mississippi river. Deschutes took their time to expand and grow while allowing their beer to slowly creep across the country in a natural progression. With their successful track record and the confidence of the previous decades worth of trials, Deschutes is steadily moving forward into the future without wavering from what defines them.


While the brewery is known for making a splash with barrel aged, heavily hopped and wild beers, a different direction was taken to expand into the market with added bottled offerings. A new lineup was conceived for a 2014 summer release some were new, others were only had at pub locations and one was an old favorite that finally makes a long awaited return. Cinder Cone is back and thankfully so given that it can easily be the defining example of what the American Red Ale style should be.
On to the Tasting Notes:

The beer offers a deep copper color and a crisp white head as it is poured from the bottle. Slightly sweetened orange marmalade and pine resin aromas invite the senses and create an immediate sensation for the first desirable sip. Hops are quite prevalent adding lemon verbena, lime zest and pine focused aromatics, all of which, work off of the semi-sweetened baked biscuit and roasted barley side of the beer. Highly malt driven but tame on the perceivable sweetness with just the right amount of hop freshness allows Cinder Cone to create a sense of thirst from the aromatics alone.


Roasted malt flavors fill the palate upon first sip; honey and almond skins are envisioned just as the herbal qualities of the hops kick in. Somewhat woody but not at all astringent, the hops lend a nice bitterness that holds into the boldly dry finish. The flavor is direct but so fully integrated that a full pint’s worth goes down with ease. Somewhat peppery from the Amarillo and floral from Tettnang varieites, Cinder Cone isn’t overdone with hop attributes. The biscuit and fresh bread flavors are smooth on the tongue giving a pleasant rounded edge to the rest of the beer. Red Ales are made for all to enjoy, a little something for everyone.

Food Pairing:

Highly savory foods would be the initial thought for a beer like Cinder Cone to play off of. Those that incorporate bread, in its various forms would drive the composition even further. Salty pretzels and spicy mustard, seed studded bagel sandwiches, buttery brioche and a small slice of pâté, classic César salad with crunchy croutons and even French onion soup coming with the molten cheese that conceals the drowned baguette slice would all bring that slight umami flavor to the forefront. Grains would be another direction to take a beer such as this; one-pot rice dishes, hearty farro salads, bulgur wheat with lamb or creamy grits with just a touch of heat should all find a pleasant earthy note to unify with a beer such as Cinder Cone.

Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: August
Epic Brewing Straight Up Saison
Regular Price: $6.99
Sale Price: $5.49
Sale End: 8/31/2014
ABV: 7
Epic Brewing Straight Up Saison

While based deeply in the long history of Belgian brewing, the Saison style is beginning to emerge on the current scene of modern brewing to great praise. The old classics of the Saison category are rustic and varied with earthy comparisons that contribute a sense of mystery to the consumer. Highly carbonated, dry on the palate and tremendously refreshing with their edge of citrus; the Belgian Saison are truly an example all their own.

The new representations sometimes only merely echo the traits found in the old world; more obvious fruit tones and while highly yeast driven, the traits are not as varied and can sometimes  lack the energy and liveliness of their Belgian counterparts. Thankfully, there are some modern examples that do the Saison style justice.

Originally a Salt Lake City transplant, the Epic Brewing Company came to Denver to open a second home that has quickly become a new city staple. Showcasing a staggering degree of different options that range from the bold and barrel aged to the basic and simplistic all while achieving a sincere level of enjoyment. With an understanding of proper restraint and titling their rendition appropriately; Epic's Straight Up Saison is a no nonsense take on the style.

On to the Tasting Notes:

Delicate aromas of ripe pears and green apples jump from the bottle once the beer is opened. The distinct Saison yeast traits are inviting with zesty freshness and hold just the slightest edge of tropical comparisons. Hoppy levels are at a minimum but herbal tones are still apparent and only add to the bright and green tone of the beer. While obviously modern, Straight Up has a tame presence of simplicity that doesn't attempt to change the fundamentals.

Grapes and shaved lemon zest are welcomed with the first sip. Fully carbonated with high energy, the bubbles help enforce the rich fruit qualities that were apparent on the aroma. Honeydew, dried apple chips, golden raisins and overripe banana are all merged together to create a lingering flavor that borders on rich but never ends too sweet. As much as the semi-sweet fruit flavors that are tasted, the beer transitions near the finish into a sensation full of peppery and somewhat woody attributes. The spicy grains of paradise and heady coriander fragrance fill the senses at the tail end of the sip that leave an interesting contrast to how the flavor range began. Just the slightest bit earthy, the beer isn't overly drying nor full of heavy bread notes; it’s a direct and truly 'Straight Up' sort of Saison experience.  

Food Pairing:

Having a large range of fruit flavors, this Saison can find a place with delicate fare or act as an accent for the more intense sort of meals. Fresh noodles tossed with garden fresh tomatoes, grilled squash, pecorino cheese and basil leaves would be a blissful way to celebrate the height of summer. Poached fish and fennel, blackened jerk chicken and lemons, garlic and olives sautéed with fresh green beans; Saison is a friend for those flavors that have eccentric distinctions that boarder on the unique. Washed rind and extra aged Gouda style cheeses could work wonders with the pear and pepper notes from the beer. The simple things can sometimes be the most rewarding.

Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: July
Fort Collins Brewery Out of the Ashes Smoked Rye Porter
Regular Price: $9.99
Sale Price: $6.99
Sale End: 7/31/2014
ABV: 5.5
Fort Collins Brewery Out of the Ashes Smoked Rye Porter

There is something so deeply nourishing about smoke. The satisfying primal feeling that comes from food enveloped by the life force of wood in the form of natural ash and smoke. Heady with its presence; smoke is fundamental with its lasting distinction. Beers that take on these flavors are challenging for many and easy to understand why given the modern processes that are taken within clean brew houses. Fire and charcoal were once always at the start for all beer that was brewed many generations ago. Even if not intentionally added, smoke played a significant role in beer creation coming from the fires that were needed to heat the water for each new batch. Some desired the pure flavor and allowed a portion of the ingredients to take on the traits from the fuel source of varying origins. The German town of Bamberg is still famous for its beers of a traditional ‘classic’ sort of flavor, those that are expressive and pure with smoke.


The shared interest in these flavors transcends across the globe and many others have taken a liking to the characteristics that come from smoking the beer’s base barley malts over hard wood. The Fort Collin’s Brewery shares this interest in their always evolving Out of the Ashes series of highly smoke forward creations. Using a heavy hand of rye malt and a combination of cherry and apple wood for the fuel source, Smoked Rye Porter is a dark beer with energy and lift even with the somewhat brooding sensation from the smoke.
On to the Tasting Notes:

While the obvious level of smoke is abrupt, it doesn’t come off as intimidating. Pecan, cornhusks, woody herb stems, fudge and a touch of green apple dance out of the glass as the beer is poured. A few moments to acclimate to the smoke’s natural element might be needed for those still not accustom to this particular attribute. Once given time to settle, the beer is quite nicely layered with a toasted edge expected from the base Porter while the lingering campfire comparison gives depth. Cocoa and chocolate begin to emerge along with the strong nutty aroma that brings to mind sweetened caramel turtle cookies. Fundamentally the backbone of the beer; the smoke settles wonderfully and engages with its nuances.


Now engaged and mystified from the aromatic display, the first sip is accepted and delightfully savored. The rye really comes alive as the liquid finally hits the tongue, as it is spicy but still herbal, cleansing but sharp with charred grapefruit rinds and green pepper leaves coming into focus. Bitterness settles with delightful balance in a somewhat savory way similar to that of darkened sourdough bread. Strong levels of toast and char come off comparable to coffee and chocolate while the smoke lingers with distinction. One sip leads to another and soon the glass is empty while the desire is still strong in the mind.
Food Pairing:

Without a doubt, beers of this nature are the essential pairing when it comes to BBQ eating. Start with a round of burger patties and taste just how joyful the shared smoky and charred elements come together on the palate. Add cheese (blue would be even better), any sort of vegetable (green chili counts and would do wonders with the rye), or a slathering of fresh aioli (add smoked paprika for a standout condiment); this is the time to make the burger as proper as we know they can be. Mushrooms would work nearly as well as any meat option; marinated in with garlic, soy and a splash of the base beer and you are ready for a hearty grilled cap or roasted side. The Smoked Rye Porter would even be great with a variety of pickled or vinegar laced vegetables, take it further with sauerkraut or to the ultimate degree with a spicy batch of Kim chi. There is not much this sort of beer can’t work with. Feel the embrace of the smoke. 

Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: July
Full Sail Cascade Pilsner
Regular Price: $4.99
Sale Price: $3.49
Sale End: 7/31/2014
ABV: 6
IBUs: 60
Rate Beer: 90
Full Sail Cascade Pilsner

Homegrown and proud: Full Sail Brewing cross beyond the quarter of a century mark with a clever localized endeavor that respectfully appreciates but still pushes into new territory. The 26th Anniversary brew for Full Sail reinvigorates the sense of creation by blending a basic fundamental with that of something obviously new. Cascade hops are all American and have a tendency to stand out with such regard that their powerhouse presence can rarely be equaled. Similar words can be spoken about the Pilsner style; one of the most well known of all Lagers, with its hop qualities up front but still wonderfully drinkable and almost blissfully balanced. Together they meet, and in great company, as the celebratory Full Sail Cascade Pilsner.

The standard European styled noble hops are replaced with the highly fragrant and sharply citrus forward Oregon ‘Salmon Safe Certified’ Cascade hops. The fresh lemon and grapefruit zest attributes jump with intensity out but don’t hold as a singular experience, instead, they transition into the Lager’s base style with pepper and apples holding through with ease. That German nuttiness and yeastiness mingle with the American hops properties and actually find themselves at home with great comfort. 

Cascade hops can be seen as the domestic ‘noble’ variety and they fill the shoes of the old school varieties quite well when given the chance. All the hops used in Cascade Pilsner came from Sodbuster Farms (within the majestic Willamette Valley) who plant and grow much of their plants especially for the brewery. Full Sail’s lengthy stance as a driving force for the craft scene is evident and their contacts with hop growers comes to a head upon first taste in this new beer. 


On to the Tasting Notes:

Grass and citrus flavors fill the mouth with the first sip but are lengthy and pure with a freshness that is undeniable. Drying on the end but full of a fruitiness that feels like a balancing act for the high degree of bitterness contributed from that of the hops. The beer continues to engage with further sips offering the hop kick that is common in the modern IPA but settles with elegance that make German offerings so memorable. The familiarity of the two allows the final result to feel like it was always meant to be; nothing is out of balance and yet the beer is all about the hops.

Food Pairing:
The herbal notes bring to mind the bounty of fresh herbs and greens that are emerging in the early summer heat. Fresh mint tossed with peas, celery and olives starts the meal, a shower of bail leaves upon green beans and young potatoes could stand as the side with parsley and green garlic made into a paste to coat chicken now ready for the grill as the main. Sausages and burgers will easily find themselves that much more savory when beginning with a sip of beer, having a bite of food then needing another sip to wash everything down. Don’t deny the lemon backbone of the beer for cheese pairings, a tangy goat or sharp cheddar and you just mike make the cheese course the main point of any meal. Cascade Pils is one of those beers that isn’t just easy to drink, it feels so satisfying that one simply desires further tastes.
Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: June
Früh Kölsch
Regular Price: $3.49
Sale Price: $2.49
Sale End: 6/30/2014
ABV: 4.8
Früh Kölsch

There simply can’t be a better beer to suit the summer as that of a Kölsch. Crisp and clean but flavorful and engaging; a drink that soothes parched throats while tantalizing needy taste buds. A hybrid style of sorts, Kölsch beers are fermented warm (the basic practice for the foundation of Ales) but then conditioned cold (classic for Lagers) that allows for roundness on the palate while still retaining a clean edge of clarification.  The balancing act of zippy citrus, mellow wheat, bitter hops and floral yeast create a satisfying flavor that nearly defines what it means to be refreshing. Know the way through a glass (or three) of Kölsch.


The city that holds the truth for the best Kölsch offerings is that of Cologne in western Germany. The pub culture is furiously fast paced when ordering glasses of fresh Kölsch. The waiters (commonly called Köbes) will bring the beer in a variety of small, slender beer glasses (Stange, Reagenzglas or Fingerhut) and will continue to do so until the drinker indicates the end of their session by placing a beermat or coaster atop their half empty vessel. There are a variety of options as far as bars and breweries are concerned, but one of the favored classics is Früh.
On to the Tasting Notes:

Since 1904, Früh has been keeping the traditional focus of crafting Kölsch to the specifics that makes this style so distinct. The beer pours with a tightly structured head of white bubbles that settles atop a deeply golden colored liquid, which is filtered to add to the overall refinement that soon follows in the flavor. Aromas of German yeast, cracked wheat, lemon rinds and pepper arise from the glass. Pleasing traits of an herbal sort of nature come from the noble hops that are used, which only add to the beers tantalizingly floral aroma. Thirst is immediate once a bottle of Früh is opened.


Semi-sweet bread flavors hit the palate with a satisfying delight. Crisp and direct with a rounded flavor that is singular but still highly engaging. Fruits in the way of citrus, apples and green grapes add high notes upon the lingering bitterness from the distinctly European hops. While the beer is full of texture and pleasant carbonation on the initial sip, the liquid settles and glides across the mid-palate with ease leaving a smooth sensation that goes down with amazing ease. Something so basic but still so desired, the first sip is nearly 1/3 of the bottle; summer heat and Früh Kölsch are partners like none other.

Food Pairing:
While the beer is on the light side, it is certainly not a push over when it comes to standing up to bold flavors from a culinary side. Kölsch beers have the weight to pair with bratwursts and garlic heavy sausages, offering a cleansing lightness to disperse the basic richness of pork flavors. The citrus side of the beer is perfect for fish; battered cod with salty chips, prawns swimming in a fragrant tomato base or an aioli slathered piece of grilled trout, all have contrasting flavors that make a beer of such energy a pleasure for fellowship. This is also a great style for salad dishes as vinaigrettes, pickled items and high acid applications should be soothed when the beer’s grainy malt base is brought to the forefront. If using for a cheese pairing, stand clear of overly ripe wash rinds or the pungent blues of the world; salty cheddars, tart goat’s milk or dense Swiss cheeses are better suited to dance alongside the Früh Kölsch.
Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: June
Crazy Mountain Hookiebobb IPA
Regular Price: $4.99
Sale Price: $3.99
Sale End: 6/30/2014
ABV: 6.7
IBUs: 87
Crazy Mountain Hookiebobb IPA

What can be done for the IPA category? Has it reached a threshold for tolerance? Can anything new be given to reinvigorate this formula that is now so widely produced? What will be the future of hops? While the answer isn’t immediate for all these questions, it is clear to see that the style of beer called India Pale Ale has reached a point of acceptance that cannot be wavered. In fact, it seems that even with the high proportion of variations available on any given day, the beer known as the IPA has never tasted better.


Any successful brewery fresh to open their doors within the past 5 years would have known the odds that were against them. The classics that wouldn’t waver, the selective hype driven entities that couldn’t be deterred, the comrades that were seemingly always a few steps a head. With all of this weight at hand: how can one thrive alongside the neighboring best? Don’t fault the attributes of what is already known.


Crazy Mountain has taken what is already commonly desired from a modern IPA creation and kept the fundamentals of why these beers are so highly acclaimed. Rather than forcing something outside the needed means, the boundaries are respected and a pleasurable ease of enjoyment is reached. Simple and unassuming in its sheen of light copper, Hookiebobb IPA fills a glass with all the proper specs that brings a comforting edge of complacency. An eggshell head of foam precedes the zesty and herbal string of aromas that can only be associated with a fermented liquid that is pure with hoppy delights.

On to the Tasting Notes:
Not many other styles of beer can become so immediate with their presence as those of the India Pale Ale. Hookiebobb is no different; lemons and grapefruit peel, peppery but crisp with freshness, ripe peach and fragrant fruit flavors. Crazy Mountain crafted a beer that understood it predecessors in the conceptualization of Hookiebobb. Simcoe adds a grassy and green comparison to pine and lemon verbena while the aromatic New Zealand Galaxy variety contributes mango and tropical high notes. Something so familiar in flavor but never reaching a state of fatigue with its display; hops are the main focus but are given in a way that is clean on the palate. It seems there is more than enough room for another IPA, especially one as simple as this.
Food Pairing:

Hoppy beers are great deterrents for spice; the malt needed to balance the bitterness comes into play when used to soften the heat’s sensation. Spiced sauces, peppery rubs and zippy marinades would echo though with a chilled glass of Hookiebob in hand. The herbal tones from the hops are also great to pair with vibrant salads and marinated vegetables. Pickled items shouldn’t be forgotten as they work wonders as a contrast with their acidic edge. Being so easy to put down, it’s hard to not mention breaded and fired items, their natural savory flavors immediately make one think of something refreshing; Crazy Mountain’s Hookiebobb always comes through in this department.


Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: May
Samuel Smith's Organic Apricot Ale
Regular Price: $5.99
Sale Price: $4.99
Sale End: 5/31/2014
ABV: 5.1
IBUs: 14
Beer Advocate: 88
Rate Beer: 93
Samuel Smith's Organic Apricot Ale

The Ales and Lagers from Tadcaster’s Samuel Smith’s Brewery always come to mind as the best examples for classic versions of time honored English beers. Their focus for retaining balance with an ease of drinking is apparent in each of their many options, even in their line of fruit beers. Not something that many would initially think of as coming from a brewery that is a modern museum of the old world brewing practices. In fact, all the fruited offerings under the Samuel Smith’s label are actually initially brewed and fermented at the Melbourn Brother’s brewery in the southern town of Stamford.


Originally a brewery since from around 1825, operations were halted in the 70’s and it wasn’t until the mid 90’s when Samuel Smith reopened the old Melbourn brewery to focus on the production of their line of Organically certified fruit beers. The base beer is sent up to the Tadcaster brewery where it is blended and packaged along side the other Samuel Smith’s offerings. History represented in a new light, still as a tribute to the style of English Ales as we have grown to love.
On to the Tasting Notes:

Fragrant peach skin and orange blossom aromas jump from the bottle upon opening. The fruit comes off as enticing; ripe and fresh rather than the usual syrupy and artificial qualities commonly found in most fruit beers. Melon, pears and a touch of bready comparisons are made as the beer opens and breathes.  The beer’s English origin is apparent from the subtle earthiness contributed by the yeast and only gives depth upon the obvious aromas from the apricots. Even with the fruit’s up-front-and-center sort of presence, the structure of the base beer is not overshadowed.


Fresh apricot flavors, concentrated with their sugars, hit the tongue with a pleasing level of sweetness. The beer is lively with carbonation and yet smooth around the edges giving a crisp feeling of refreshment. Tartness follows the initial apricot fruitiness and adds a bright perk of limes and juicy mangos to the range of flavors. Honey and lemon wedges, grapes and peach preserve, dried apples and baked bread; Samuel Smith knows how to do a fruit beer justice. The fruit nectar sweet tones together with the lingering tartness really work and never loose sight of fundamentals that make English beers so enjoyable.
Food Pairing:
Fruit focused but not overly sweet, just the sort of beer that will work wonders across a different range of flavors for food pairing. Starting the meal next to spicy shrimp skewers with an avocado, cayenne and grapefruit salsa would contrast nicely upon the soft sweet tones of the beer. Spareribs lightly smoked and lathered with a peach glaze (or preferred bbq sauce) would just about epitomize the sort of backyard meals we wait all year to enjoy. Sheep’s milk cheeses with grilled apricots, mint, honey and toasted almonds would make for a proper cheese and accoutrements pairing. With the hot summer months just around the corner, there really isn’t much more we could ask out of a beer with these attributes.
Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: May
Les Trois Mousquetaires Hopfenweisse
Regular Price: $10.99
Sale Price: $8.99
Sale End: 5/31/2014
ABV: 6
Rate Beer: 94
Les Trois Mousquetaires Hopfenweisse

Located just south of Montreal in Brossard, Canada, Les Trois Mousquetaires, The Three Musketeers, is aptly named as the three founders and their dedication of efforts to the production of beer fermentation once other ‘steady’ plant work ceased. Given the status of Montreal as a city both engaged in European traditions but uniquely modernized as a Canadian historical oasis, the Mousquetaires brewery is beyond appropriate to represent the strong steadfast conviction that is: ‘One for all, all for one’. The brewery allows old world styles to lay the basis for their creations, all the while engaging with creative progression to redefine the ‘classics’.


One such example is their Hopfenweisse, a beer that is built like a German Hefewizen/Weizenbock but is enhanced from dry hopping with large amounts of the Summit variety. The expressive traits of German yeast fill the room immediately after the cork is freed from the bottle’s neck. The beer is billowy and creamy as it settles into an awaiting glass. The looks of a picture perfect German Wheat beer, both with its golden hue and hazy appearance but the vibrant accents from the dry hopping method give unmatched distinction.
On to the Tasting Notes:

While all together familiar, the beer is less about spicy clove and cloying banana, instead freshly sliced lemons and ripe stone fruit take their place. Hopfenweise is unique as it takes fundamentals but elaborates with obvious modern touches from the Summit dry hopping technique. Nutty and reminiscent of warm baked bread yet a fragrant and herbaceous hoppy edge gives way to an entire new range of contrasting sensations.


Highly flavorful once finally sipped; juicy apricots, green grapes, pineapple and a hint of banana warm the palate with delicious satisfaction. The fruit levels are balanced without lingering with any sort of unwanted sweetness. The grassy flavors of hops transition the flavor into the range of bitter with just enough bite to complement the qualities that arose upon first taste. Citrus laden with just a whisper of tartness, fully textured and smooth on the tongue from the large bubbles with the zesty edge of hops being hard to miss; Hopfenweisse from Les Trois Mousquetaires takes you into new territory.
Food Pairing:
The options for engaging and creative food pairings are varied given the beer’s range of flavors and rounded texture of carbonation. German styled Hefeweizen or Weizenbocks always bring to mind egg dishes as the natural richness plays wonderfully off of the calming attributes from the beer’s energetic and yeasty foundation. Seafood ranging from fresh oysters, poached white fish, grilled sardines, stewed octopus or roasted tuna collar all would happily find their place alongside the Hopfenweisse. Burgers with bacon and the fundamentally Colorado green chilies would elevate the simple summertime meal into a structured flavor combination that will turn heads all though the warm months. Cheeses should not be forgotten; a hearty cheddar, aged Gouda and fresh goat’s all add their own characteristics to the beer’s natural flavors. All for one is right, this is a beer and a brewery not to be missed.
Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: April
Green Flash: Hop Odyssey Black IPA
Regular Price: $6.99
Sale Price: $5.49
Sale End: 4/30/2014
ABV: 7.2
IBUs: 85
Beer Advocate: 88
Rate Beer: 98
Green Flash: Hop Odyssey Black IPA

Leave it to Green Flash to not give up on a style that can cause debates within inner circles of the beer community. The San Diego brewery is one of the classic California producers of all things hoppy and their new Hop Odyssey series of limited edition releases allows them to find new opportunities to bombard palates and push the limit of alpha acid comprehension. Their rendition of the Black IPA comes at a time just as some have finally given up on the style, luckily; it could be one of the saving grace examples to ever be put into bottles.


It wasn’t but a few years ago when a fury of attention from American brewers went to foraging a new style that pulled attributes from other existing examples. The Black IPA was a natural progression after raising the bar from Pale Ale, finding the breaking point of a classic India Pale Ale and having to land back on earth from the extremes of ridiculous Imperial variations.


Using a dark malt base full of toasted and chocolate flavors, then utilizing hops from the Pacific Northwest to show off aromas of pine and citrus, the style is somewhat of a natural contradiction. Some variations taste simply as hopped up versions of Dry Porters or oily Stouts, and that was hard for many to accept given the lack of unity between the two distinct foundations. The winners of the style truly make a new range of flavors that are admirable with balance yet still being upfront with a firm degree of hoppy intensity. Green Flash seems to have taken the past few years to perfect their offering; it simply is one of the better examples of a style so varied.
On to the Tasting Notes:

The pungent aromas of spruce and orange marmalade waft from the bottle upon first opening, welcoming with their assertive qualities that can only come from a beer of this nature. Kaki colored bubbles rest upon the nearly black liquid but one that isn’t so viscous as to be intimidating. Toasted rye bread, walnuts and cocoa try to shimmy beyond the hop aromas but in the end, remain one step behind the zesty presence from Citra, Warrior and Cascade hops. Upfront and not at all deceiving, this is a beer for true hopheads.


Grapefruit bitterness meets pumpernickel in a flavorful first sip that quenches while rounding out with a pleasing edge of boisterous energy. Chocolate levels are present but subdued, the body is firm but not lingering with abundant weight or sharp with prickly carbonation, some smoke nuances work with the grassy hops and create a nicely layered interaction of somewhat contrasting flavors. Bitterness persists into the finish leaving a drying sensation that slowly beckons and creates that desire for another sip. French press coffee keeps coming to mind, along with fresh watercress and a fruity high note that is almost tropical. Well executed and pleasant, up there with the best of the (now widely accepted) style.
Food Pairing:
With spring emerging all around us, grilling and out door dining will soon work its way back into rotation. Meats and vegetables hit by the heat of the coals bring charred flavors that work well with a beer that is full of its own natural roasted character. Spring onions, blackened fish, potatoes coated in a herbed aioli and a side of the spicy Spanish Romesco Almond sauce would bring many interesting flavors to rise with a glass of Green Flash’s Black IPA in hand. Fresh of the season lamb shank, braised to perfection with citrus fruit, young garlic and olives could be a hearty dinner that still offers a brightness and high tone of acidity to bridge the herbal hops from the beer. A Pate Brissee tart dough filled with mushrooms, thyme, blue cheese and caramelized onions would be a splendid mid-day meal and a wonderful way to bring on the new season, as well as do this beer justice.
Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: April
Robinson's Brewery The Trooper
Regular Price: $6.99
Sale Price: $4.99
Sale End: 4/30/2014
ABV: 4.7
Robinson's Brewery The Trooper

With an interest in British history and a desire for real English Ales, the partnership of the Robinson Brewery and the legendary metal band; Iron Maiden make up the driving force behind The Tropper. Brewed in honor of the famous song of the same name, The Tropper pays tribute to the furious ‘Charge of the Light Brigade’ during the Battle of Balaclava in the Crimeria War. The song remembers the intrepid fury of the British soldiers that were sent to their almost complete demise while facing unrealistic odds. It brings a sense of honor while hosting a tribute, a toast of sorts, and now something that can be solidified with shared comradely given that a beer has been brewed to further that degree of pride.


The Robinson Brewery collaborated with Iron Maiden front man Bruce Dickenson to conceptualize all that went into making The Trooper a reality. Appreciation for both history and the fundamentals of classic English Ale are met in an alliance that is satisfying with heroic sort.


Robinson’s 175-years of brewing knowledge come out in full force as the classic English Bitter Ale is modernized from the unique blend of Bobec, Golding and Cascade hops. An enticing aroma of granola, red apples, sweet potato and sliced oranges fill the air once the beer is first poured. The yeast properties aren’t overwhelming but certainly add a rounding edge to the fruity and slight vegetal undertones to the beer. The obvious smell of sweetened barley malt brings a comforting level of earthiness that transition nicely into quality near that of loose-leaf tea. Minty and almost woody, The Trooper riles up the senses with awareness and leads into fury of the first sip.
On to the Tasting Notes:
Mineral driven and long with citrus and sourdough bread flavors, the initial mouthful is thirst quenching and rounded with that English sort of directness that is so pleasant in their beers. Malt levels are high but never feel sugary, bitterness arises mid-palate and cuts through the biscuit and pastry notes adding to a finish that lingers with precision. Carbonation is smooth on the tongue and catches its stride with energy near the back end of the throat as the bubbles arise and cascade around the palate. Pine and marmalade flavors present themselves and last beyond the sweet moments of the initial sip. A beer that can begin the evening and hold steady until the last round; the sort of Ale that is worthy of respectful notice both a proper nodding or a blatant (musically engaged) banging of the head.
Food Pairing:

With nutty malt undertones and a pleasing edge of citrus, The Tropper is a playful beer for food pairing. Casual enough for simple sandwiches at lunch or warm squash soup with a dash of cream, even a chilled lentil and shaved fennel salad. Versatile but still interesting while retaining a pleasing degree of rounded flavors. Bangers and mash are always on the mind when an English Bitter such as this crosses one’s path. Fried foods are an easy and simple way to make a pairing shine with roasted game birds, mustard and bacon roasted Brussels sprouts with roasted beets and walnuts being a refined option. Cheeses high in salt and savory umami flavors will easily find a friendship with The Trooper. Raise a pint and turn up the volume, The Trooper deserves proper attention.


“So when you’re waiting for the next attack, you’d better stand there’s no turning back!”


Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: March
Rogue Irish Style Lager
Regular Price: $6.99
Sale Price: $5.99
Sale End: 3/31/2014
ABV: 5
IBUs: 28
Rogue Irish Style Lager

While lacking a true connection to the heritage of Ireland (or to the history of beer in relation to cultural significance), the modern ‘Irish Lager’ is a tool of marketing more than anything else. Guinness can never go unmentioned when speaking of Ireland and its pub culture, so it would also be no surprise that they would be the establishing force behind the few Irish Lagers that can be found on shelves today. A country dominated by the Stout needs a contrasting offering as an alternative. It also turns out that a fun drink can be achieved by carefully blending the two.


Rogue Ales crafted a seasonal release that represents the drinking culture for the St. Patrick’s Day. No question that glasses are filled with beer on this day and why not bring attention to that fundamental while offering an alternative to the usual options at hand? Made with acidulated malts that give a lightness and somewhat tangy edge to the liquid, Rogue’s Irish Style Lager was envisioned as a microbrew option for floating dark beer.


Pouring with a golden tone and a shiny egg white head of bubbles, Irish Lager is as classic and basic as they come for the style and yet, that is what gives appeal. Apple aromas and black pepper are prevalent as the beer opens and settles into the glass. Comparisons to whole-wheat crackers, citrus zest and freshly toasted nuts are easy to make while the faint grassy notes of Sterling hops linger on. Crisp and simple with an inviting note of fruit that casually sets the moment for proper, casual, beer consumption.
On to the Tasting Notes:
Sweetened flavors of ripe pear and green grapes are first tasted with a tangy citrus note quickly following and rounding out the first sip. Pleasing with the simplistic range of flavors, a direct and almost ‘to the point’ type of drink. Bitterness from the hops hold though on the finish but leave a drying sensation that creates the desire for another sip. Flavors of green apples are unmistakable but work nicely to give the semi-sweet sugar levels a touch of contrast. Again, easy but comforting with the direct nature that is held within Rouge’s Irish Lager. Something that can please when one is prepared for the sort of affair at hand. Shouldn’t be a problem to enjoy as the restrictions for consumption are lifted for this annual date on March 17th…
Food Pairing:

Go classic and go big for food, the beer will act as a counter weight to a hearty meal. The ubiquitous corned beef and cabbage are sure to make an appearance and a Lager with the sort of weight and amount of sweetness would refresh given the meat’s intensity and match similar herbal tones to those found in the cabbage. Soda bread warm out of the oven as an opening snack or toasted with a slathering of butter as a late night treat would be adequate applications with Rogue’s Irish Lager in hand. Flaky Cheddar cheese and shaved apples are a sure bet to get the palate engaged; a chilled glass of Lager would simply and easily clean things up. 

Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: March
Bear Republic Big Bear Black Stout
Regular Price: $4.99
Sale Price: $3.99
Sale End: 3/31/2014
ABV: 8.1
IBUs: 55
Beer Advocate: 93
Rate Beer: 99
Bear Republic Big Bear Black Stout

Celebrate this year’s St. Patrick’s Day with a proper pint of Stout. The typical Irish Stout option (famous for sporting a creamy head) is boarding on redundant and although born on the Emerald Isle, it lacks being anything special. The time calls for a bold offering of a beer. One that is memorable with each sip but still smooth enough to have in shared company, something satisfying and appropriate for the moment while holding its own level of distinction. Something Imperial just might do the trick.


Bear Republic’s Big Bear Black Stout is sometimes overlooked given the brewery’s reputation for focusing on all things hop related. At 8%, the Big Bear Stout is a no frills option for everyday drinking but when the moment arises, can stand easily on its own for what the style dictates.


The name doesn’t lie, the beer pours very dark and settles with a jet-black color that collects with a mocha-toned head of bubbles. Classic Stout aromas of cocoa powder, espresso beans and deeply toasted bread are present. The Cascade hops show their presence adding a light pine and orange peel aroma that only briefly peak above the bold roasted characters of the base malts. Certain secondary aromas of anise and sweet soy only add to the bold but welcoming range of aromatics found on Big Bear Black Stout.
On to the Tasting Notes:
The full texture of the liquid easily glides across the palate. Mellow carbonation allow for each sip to go down smooth leaving a creamy sort of felling. Chocolate, coffee and molasses enriched quick breads are easily tasted and easily transition into the dry finish. Noting is out of balance, the flavors are simple but present and only add to the beer’s easy drinking sort of nature. While sweetness is detected it only comes as a balancing mid-palate perk and gives way to the toasted edge that defines the style. When in need, this is one of those beers that never lets down.
Food Pairing:

Given that the beer’s lingering flavor is that of char and heavy roast, grilled and braised meats are easy options for pairing. Just about anything with grilled marks can bring out the coffee and almost smoky flavors of the beer. Mussels, sardines and smoked fish would be pleasant options if looking for something from the sea. The briny flavors work very well with the dryness of the beer making for a wonderful contrast of flavors. Of course, dessert is a great place to have a beer of this nature. While the bittersweet flavors would easily match with a nice piece of chocolate, the beer is leaning enough on the dry end of the spectrum to be saved from being a redundant finish to a meal. Coconut and vanilla or anything rich with cream would make for a winning combo.

Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: February
Epic Brewing Barleywine
Regular Price: $7.99
Sale Price: $6.99
Sale End: 2/28/2014
ABV: 10.1
Rate Beer: 95
Epic Brewing Barleywine

The American Barleywine. A beer style that sends traditionalists in a fury of opinionated declarations while others languish in the blatant flavor that is bountiful with boldness.  The confluence of richly sweet malts with the herbal and bitter hops, bound by a warming layer of decent alcohol levels, make this style one that holds distinction among the rest. Standing on the grounds of the English foundation but leaning in the direction of modernization from the degree of distinct hops, the American Barleywine is a category all its own.


We should feel so lucky that Epic Brewing Company chose Denver as the new location for their second brewery. Having a few years of brewing under their belts at the original location within Salt Lake City, the beers didn’t have to go through the usual grown pains that always arise with new businesses. Epic just about hit the ground running showcasing many old favorites as well as a range of  new recipes brewed to honor the new location within Colorado. Even with all the new additions to their lineup, Epic’s own interpretation of the modern Barleywine is a beer greatly welcomed here in the Mile High city.


Released as part of Epic’s ‘Exponential Series’ of bold and robust beers, Barleywine is one of the standout creations from this brewery’s portfolio.  Pouring with a color of burnt copper and mahogany tones, the beer is easily seen as something that can pack a punch of flavor. Raisins, baked brioche and green tea aromas are inviting while a sweetened edge of amber honey and molasses lingers on the end. While the hops can be detected from the get-go, they don’t ever have a ‘green’ quality nor do they linger on the side of being compared to a Double IPA. Instead, the hops act more herbal and slightly woody than juicy or overly citrus laden. The alcohol is well integrated as it pushed over the 10% mark; Epic’s Barleywine is no holds barred and that is just the way it should be.

On to the Tasting Notes:
Flavors of caramel and brown sugar, barley and granola, dried apples and mocha all come out with full force with the first sip. Hitting the tongue with an initial sweetness, the hops quickly meet mid-palate and offer a pleasing bitterness from the Chinook and Cascade varietals, offering a candied orange rind sort of fruit level. The Barleywine has a very intriguing level of roast for a beer of this sort. Lingering with cocoa and coffee comparisons, the toasted edges are welcomed and round out the finish quite nicely. Letting the beer warms brings out more nuances and links the bold flavors that much more sometimes bringing to mind chocolate coated pecans. Pleasing now with the high tones of tea and oranges, the beer seems to have a firm foundation of richness for those looking to age bottles.
Food Pairing:
Barleywines can be seen either as a beefy Syrah or a pleasing Madeira when given the chance to be paired with food. Beef dishes with nice smoke or pork dishes with a light sweetness could both be protein applications. Hearty braises with root vegetables will bring warmth in the winter while smoked fish, kale and sprouted grains as part of a mid-day lunch could be a lighter option. Grab the highly aged Goudas or the creamy sort of blues when going for cheese pairing, the beer will easily be one of the best options for both. Desserts are the obvious pairing but Epic’s Barleywine is a touch drier than other English examples that saves it from becoming cloying at meal’s end. Treacle flavors, a simple pot de crème, chocolate fudge and blondies are all fair game. When needing a little comfort, reach for the Barleywine.
Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: February
Perennial Artisan Ales Saison de Lis
Regular Price: $10.99
Sale Price: $8.99
Sale End: 2/28/2014
ABV: 5
IBUs: 20
Rate Beer: 95
Perennial Artisan Ales Saison de Lis

The gift of flowers. Pleasantly accepted with happiness and delight. They are something so fragile but meaningful enough to touch both the one giving as well as the one receiving. To achieve that sensation in the form of a beer could very well be a little something special for everyone.


This very sentiment seems to be the driving force for the creation known as Saison de Lis. Conceptualized by the creative team at the St. Louis brewery; Perennial Artisan Ales, Saison de Lis combines the natural floral notes of a classic Belgian-Style Saison with the enticing aromas from Chamomile flowers. The end result is refreshing and heady with a calming and delicate flavor that soothes with its tenderness.
On to the Tasting Notes:

As Saison are known to do, Perennial’s de Lis is highly carbonated with precise bubbles that collect atop the pale yellow base liquid. Apples and yeast driven esters arise from the glass and bring focus while the faint tealeaf and pollen high notes lend interesting complexities. The Saison fundamentals are crisp with baked apple and ripe pear comparisons that linger with a hint of citrus and grass. The lasting qualities are comforting as they hold a welcoming sensation similar to that of sunbeams catching the petals of wild flowers or the blades of hay among the countryside.


The first flavor is full of fruiyt notes, freshly baked bread and lovely sweet tea. Herbal high notes are rounded by the lasting flavors of freshly milled grain and cracked pepper. Honey doused almonds and the distinctly woody chamomile flowers mix nicely with the soft bitterness that the beer’s drying finish is full of. Lasting with energy, the texture is seamless and easy to swallow without sugar levels or over carbonation distracting from the overall experience. Saison de Lis offers a different direction for the style, one of which works quite well and is full of subtle notes that are bountiful and yet  pleasing with their simplicities.
Food Pairing:

Quite a variety of options to choose from for a beer that is as aromatic and focused as Saison de Lis. Cheeses love to work with beers such as this. The rich flavors of  milky Triple Creams match with the honey contributions, salty Sheep or musty cloth bound Cheddars would both work in contracting differences with the fragrant flowers while the tang of goat’s milk would equalize the straw notes of the beer. Seafood, weather Cod simply fried with tartar sauce or shellfish steamed with fennel and butter, would both find a shared ground to stand upon. Quiches, soft scrambled or hollandaise enriched poached eggs all beg for a partner such as the Saison de Lis. Dessert shouldn’t be forgotten, nutty baklava, smooth vanilla gelato or even a casual glazed donut; Saison de Lis fills the gaps and makes for a wild card when pairing beer and food.


Perennial is for lovers!! 

Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: January
Full Sail Brewer's Share: Imperial Lager
Regular Price: $4.99
Sale Price: $3.99
Sale End: 1/31/2014
ABV: 8
IBUs: 28
Beer Advocate: n/a
Rate Beer: 98
Full Sail Brewer's Share: Imperial Lager

With the Brewer’s Share line of beers, Full Sail has opened the door for creativity and long desired concepts to finally become a reality. These beers come from any of those that are part of the workforce of the brewery, an offering that only enforces the stance of being an all ‘employee-owned company’. As honorable as it is to see one’s individual beer be bottled for a national release, Full Sail donates a portion of all proceeds from the sale of the Brewer’s Share to a local charity chosen by that particular employee. With the holidays at ease and the cold weather in full force, a calm beer to warm the belly seems to be in order.


Once deemed ‘Big Daddy J’ Malt Liquor’, brewer Jason Muñoz envisioned a rendition on a style that doesn’t get much attention in the current mico-brewery scene. The title of ‘Malt Liquor’ was initially created as a way to label higher alcohol beers for government and state regulations. While that majority of the bottles having this title are less than desirable, they can easily be translated as being an Imperial version of a Lager or Ale. Poking a bit of fun but making a tasty beer along the way, Full Sail’s Imperial Lager is a flavorful brew that should go as being valued as such.
On to the Tasting Notes:

Pouring with a deep copper tone of color and a vibrant head of bubbles, the beer is exactly what one would expect. Nutty aromas of toasted grains, fresh baked rolls and apricot fruits are present. The influence of German Hallertau Hersbrucker hops can be sensed with their distinct herbal and slightly woody aroma. Pasty cream and chamomile flowers arise as the beer opens, a pleasant introduction to the first sip.


Semi-sweet stone fruits, whole grain bread, toasted seeds and a touch of custard hit the palate with direct concentration. The beer is bold and rounded, leaning on the side of being a touch sweet, but never stepping over the limit with a cloying sort of intensity. Peach jam and granola, honey and oatmeal, biscuits and bitter hops are all tasted from front to back as the beer is sipped, savored and swallowed. The creamy and over-ripe fruit levels might be a touch abrasive at first, but the beer settles as one becomes accustom with the lingering levels of noble hops. Easy drinking but soothing all the while.

Food Pairing:

Chicken is the first food that comes to mind, given the beer’s floral and honeyed notes. Fry the bird and toss in a sourdough waffle with some rich maple syrup for a fun brunch twist or roast off a few thighs with hearty Delicata squash and braised mustard greens for a satisfying winter meal. Polenta or grits would also accompany the beer’s grain focused flavors nicely; sear a nice piece of pork or a handful of shrimp to add some protein and really drive the meal home. This would be a nice beer to have with along side Korean BBQ, the variety of spicy and fermented flavors would be fun to interact with the beer’s sweet and fragrant qualities.


Proceeds from the sale of this bottle go towards the Helping Hands Against Violence charity.


Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: January
Colorado Cider Company Cherry Glider Cider
Regular Price: $8.99
Sale Price: $6.99
Sale End: 1/31/2014
ABV: 6.9
Colorado Cider Company Cherry Glider Cider

Meeting the demand of the thirsty population within Denver, The Colorado Cider Company has been busily creating a wide variety of hard ciders since their inception in 2011. With a line of ciders that run the range from classic English Styles, the modern use of Chardonnay barrels, or the downright unique integration of hops and lemongrass, The CO. Cider Company is filling a gap in our local scene that has been left open for too long. The arrival of the Cherry Glider Cider only reinforces that this company is showing no signs of slowing down any time soon.

Cherry Glider was envisioned as a way to enhance the natural flavors already found in the base Glider recipe without adding too much unnecessary sweetness or sugars. The final product is quite an accomplishment. Cherries are immediately recognizable, both in the delicate rosé color of the liquid and in the fragrant, fruity aroma. Freshly seeded Bing cherries, allspice, and citrus fruit hit the senses with delightful clarity. Sliced green apples are apparent as well but seem to take a step back as the distinct qualities from the cherries make themselves known. The carbonation is light as the cider is poured into a glass, only upon first sip do the tiny formation of bubbles collect and show their strength.

On to the Tasting Notes:

The cider holds great texture and a striking degree of tartness upon the tongue. Tannin levels are high with sweetness only lightly gracing the palate. The lactic level reaches its peak mid-palate and pulls at one’s cheeks that leave a great sensation that transition into the drying finish. Wild berries and fresh strawberries emerge as the cider sits and breaths but make no mistake; the overall flavor is clearly all about the cherries.


The layering of crisp, ripe fruit with the sharpness from the base cider is pleasantly refreshing and never reaches a level of fatigue. The layering of apples and cherry fruit is very well arranged and creates a harmonious symmetry in which fans of both classic ciders and sweeter variations should equally enjoy. Honey crisp freshness, jam laden chewiness, moments of sourness with sweet tones to balance; wine fans should also take note…

Food Pairing:
Pork dishes naturally come to mind given the natural affinity with pairings to both cherries and apples. Brined pork chops with roasted acorn squash and a vibrant kale salad studded with dried cherries and roasted hazelnuts would easily make for one delightfully composed meal and allow both sweet and tart flavors of the cider to work in sequence. Thai flavors and bold chili heat should easily work with the ripe cherry sweetness while creamy bacon potato soup finds a similar level of comfort. An arranged cheese plate would be yet another way to have contrasting flavors to mingle with the range of flavors of the cider. Crumbly and salty Cheddars, smooth and tangy goat’s milk, robust and powerful blues; it would be a fun composition to say the least.
Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: December
De Halve Maan Straffe Hendrik Quadruple
Regular Price: $12.99
Sale Price: $9.99
Sale End: 12/31/2013
ABV: 11
Beer Advocate: 92
Rate Beer: 98
De Halve Maan Straffe Hendrik Quadruple

The blissfully pristine, immaculately romantic and almost fairytale realistic town of Bruges within northern Belgium is one memorable place to experience. The canals that run throughout the small village represent the flow of progress and energy that has always been apart of the emotion of the area. The horrors of the two World Wars miraculously spared Bruges and left it as it once was seen many hundreds of years prior. As quaint and blissfully cemented in time as the town seems to appear, there is an unmistakable vibrancy to the walls of the village.


De Halve Maan translates as ‘The Half Moon’. This brewery based within Bruges can be loosely traced back to the 1600’s. The styles that we know today weren’t established until the eighties but operations of modern brewing took place as far back as mid nineteenth century. While not build with the fundamentals of Trappiest brews, these are still highly enticing beverages that can hold their ground if lined up with many of the classics. Just as Bruges itself, the beers of Straffe Hendrik are highly enjoyable and simply something that can’t be forgotten.

On to the Tasting Notes:

Formidable strength, captivating appearance, deceptive flavors; Straffe Hendrik Quadrupel is one of the world’s greatest renditions of a style so widely desired. Pouring with energy and a liveliness that can only occur with secondary bottle fermentation, the liquid is more than excited to empty from its glass containment. An arrangement of firmly structured bubbles emerges and collects within the awaiting drinking vessel. Dark brown in color with a slight ruby tint as light passes though near the edges of the glass. The Hendrik Quad gives off an aromatic bouquet of figs and lavender, a smell that comes to define the Belgian beers of this nature. Some notes of black pepper, fennel seeds and Valencia orange peels give a contrast upon the usual dark fruit and sweetened qualities that are first apparent on the nose.


Sipping and tasting the initial flavors of the liquid are filled with pure delight. Rich date and caramelized stone fruits offer delicate sweetness while a note of milk chocolate and molasses gives a mid palate creaminess all the while allowing just enough bitterness to transition into the surprisingly dry finish. Licorice and honey, currants and allspice; the beer is full of bold flavors but not so overbearing as to loose the qualities that make it so pleasant to drink.


The bubbles are not sharp on the palate, their lush texture helps make each sip feel smooth and pleasing all the while giving no attention to the beer’s bold 11% alcohol strength. Roasted grain attributes bring to mind Stouts while the significantly dry finish is something unique that isn’t usually found in the Quad style. Highly complex and full of a variety of engaging flavors, Straffe Hendrik’s Quad is truly a beverage that stands on its own.

Food Pairing:

The burly and sometimes overwhelmingly sweet beers that make up the Quadrupel or Belgian Strong Dark Ale category are actually quite difficult to properly pair with food. The candi-sugar and dark molasses undertones can easily conflict and sometimes dominate many subtle flavors; it’s best to think big when thinking of what to cook. Braises (not usually including tomatoes) might be the easy option; the caramelized flavors of the meat would naturally match up with the brown sugar notes of the beer. Rich reductions and honey glazed ham, French onion soup and roasted beets, chocolate hazelnut tarts and creamy blue cheese. The beer is a joy as part of dessert as it doesn’t linger with too much overall sweetness. Cheese is another great partner offering elegance with triple creams and offering a calming suggestion for certain formidable blues. A beauty of a bottle to have post dinner, preferably with joyful company to celebrate yet another year well spent.

Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: December
Samuel Smith's Winter Welcome
Regular Price: $4.99
Sale Price: $3.99
Sale End: 12/31/2013
Score: 6
Samuel Smith's Winter Welcome

The plentiful bounty of cold weather beers during the holiday season is always something that represents the end of the year. Many breweries show off with their defining recipe in hopes of solidifying that feeling that only comes but once a year. The joy of the holidays and the renewal of a new year beckon to be celebrated with a favored beverage in hand. While there are many beers that are found only at this late moment of the year, a highly desired offering is sent in the form of Winter Welcome from the Samuel Smith’s Old Brewery.

 

Fundamentally created with honor for the English brewing traditions, Winter Welcome is fermented in open slate slabs as has been done for decades. The beers that are born in these ‘Stone Yorkshire Squares’ all share a similar distinction with an unmistakable note of minerality. The beers that showcase this umami driven characteristic the best are certainly the darker offerings with Winter Welcome being at the top of the list.

On to the Tasting Notes:

Pouring with a darkened mahogany color, the bubbles are small and tight and quickly settle into themselves when poured into a proper piece of favored glassware. Some herbal notes jump out, the high quality Fuggle and Golding hops no doubt, but is matched with an aroma of dried apple and date fruits. The intensities of roast are kept to a lower level but can still be detected; like the torched edges of a warm fruit tart. The beer simply smells of the holidays, it could be the timing in which it is always enjoyed or it can be from the subtle woody notes and soft pine layers that make it so very welcoming.

 

These malt driven beers are best enjoyed at a slightly warmer temperature than if pulled straight from the cellar or fridge. The task of waiting can be quite daunting if consumption wasn’t planned in advance with proper drinking conditions being taken into account. The first sip is presently focused with sweetened brioche, orange marmalade, nougat, honey and raisins. The sweetened flavors engage the front of the palate with a mid-flavor bitterness bringing to mind earthy hops and citrus that also have high perks of spice not far from cinnamon. The finish is well integrated and lingers on the dry end (allowing for the bottle and its contents become more than manageable in a single sitting) with that contribution from the stone fermentation vessels lightening the weight and rounding out the experience. Winter is here and it is met with open arms.
Food Pairing:
Food pairings don’t have to rely on the approach of ‘intensity meeting intensity’. Some of the greatest pairings happen when contrast is the main importance and Winter Welcome is a marvel of a beer for that reason. The texture of the carbonation and liveliness of dark fruit flavors allow for savory applications of simple salami, decadent pâté and smoked fish at the start of a meal. Wild flavors of game birds would be quite nice as a main course, the pleasing rosemary and garlic covered pork roast or a simple beefsteak cooked rare, these are all-comforting in their element and would be enhanced in their partnership with Samuel Smith’s Winter Welcome. Classic English clothbound Cheddar is almost redundant to mention given the ease of the pairing but it is so pleasing that it should not go unmentioned. Dessert is appropriate; coconut, chocolate, sweet fruits and rich cakes, nearly all are happily addressed when a bottle of Winter Welcome is at hand.
Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: November
Backcountry Weizenbock
Regular Price: $6.99
Sale Price: $5.99
Sale End: 11/30/2013
ABV: 7.2
Backcountry Weizenbock

The range of beer styles originating from Germany is staggering upon first glance. So many small variations of color or a change in alcohol content can create a new classification all together. It can be daunting to try and understand all the differences, and yet, it is so very nice to have these beers defined on the label without having to guess what the contents will taste like.


The Bock beers of German origin can be seen as any style of beer that has been amplified or intensified in some way. Just as the Bohemian town of Pilsen is associated with the famous Pilsner malt, the north-central town of Einbeck can hold claim to the bockbier (sometimes found to have been called Ainpock or Oankbock). This style came in a time when the main beers of Germany were the examples found in the southern region of Bavaria. The brewing of these darker and stronger Bockbiers were soon undertaken in the city of Munich in 1540. Versions for the spring; Maibock, variations on its own name, the bold imperial Bock known as the Doppelbock and the highly refreshing wheat version; Weissbock or Weizenbock are all examples that have grown over time.


These styles aren’t easy to find in American by way of a German import. The brewing energy that is currently taking the country by force is bringing traditional styles to light that were at one time no very common. There are more producers of certain German beer styles in American that in the countries in which they originated from. Rather than trying to find a semi-fresh bottle of imported German beer, it is increasingly become more proper to look towards the options being made close to home.
On to the Tasting Notes:

Backcountry’s Weizenbock label claims itself to be called the ‘Banana bread beer’. This is an appropriate description given the yeast’s iconic banana and baking spice bouquet. Freshly baked bread, cotton candy and bittersweet chocolate are all woven in the expressive aroma. The beer has a burnished copper color and holds a thick degree of haze giving off the naturally unfiltered nature of the style. Think of a classic Hefeweizen that was reduced and concentrated into something holding much more depth with a furthering degree of richness, these traits help solidify what makes up the Weizenbock.

 

Those images of banana bread and fresh cloves that were sensed in the aroma are vivid and present on the palate upon first sip. Some light toffee notes emerge on the mid-palate and soon transition into a pleasing fruitiness not far from dark caramel and dried fruits. Baked apples and cinnamon arise while the soft layering of bitterness begins to show itself. The flavors mingle and work in unison to create a balance that make the beer such a pleasure to drink.


Lacking the need for any citrus addition, the Weizenbock is engaging with high notes of dried oranges and mint. The texture is soft on the tongue with the sweetened flavors sliding easily across the palate without ever feeling sticky. The bottle’s contents are easily drained, even while the beer is slated as a ‘stronger’ version of other styles; it goes down with delightful grace. Drinking Weizenbock brings to mind the colder months currently at hand which makes the transition just that much easer to cope with.
Food Pairing:

With a thick backbone of bready malt, Backcountry’s Weizenbock fits in with wintertime fare quite nicely. Poultry dishes ranging from simple chicken wings to roasted duck would find a common ground with this beer on the table. Thanksgiving turkey would be an ease as the clove and apple accents of the beer would naturally play off the common flavors found during a meal so grand. Noodles drowned in rich broth and warming soup dishes bring out the lingering bitterness of the beer while softening the banana attributes, the final flavor works wonders as part of the meal. It goes without saying, fresh chocolate chip studded banana bread is a no brainer…

Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: November
AleSmith Grand Cru
Regular Price: $12.99
Sale Price: $10.49
Sale End: 11/30/2013
ABV: 10
Beer Advocate: 90
Rate Beer: 99
AleSmith Grand Cru

While somewhat confusing with the blatant wording, to call a beer ‘Grand Cru’ doesn’t actually define any particular style. The majority of the beers to be found that have the Grand Cru wording take influence from the producers of Belgium. The Belgians have an older history of beer production and before styles were truly designated into smaller categories, many of the producers that made a special or very unique batch of beer might simply call it their ‘Grand Cru’. These were usually beers that were of higher alcohol content and included a rich level of complexity, beers that were made for special occasions. The wine world has its influence on the term with some producers making special blends of aged stocks and calling the final product a ‘Grand Cru’ for bottling. This loose translation of the words can be found throughout the modern beer field, one standout comes from San Diego’s AleSmith Brewing Company.


Yet another champion of American brewing, AleSmith is one of the classic leaders of the Southern California brewing movement that has been going strong for over twenty years. Highly awarded from both the World Beer Cup and the GABF, AleSmith understand the spectrum of the everyday (ESB), the hop heavy (IPA), the bold (Speedway Stout) and the Belgian-Style (Horny Devil). Their Grand Cru is a no nonsense creation that is built just as it would have been if it originated from a Belgium brew house. 

On to the Tasting Notes:

Trappist yeast is utilized for fermentation and gives off the familiar esters of dark fruits, anise and sweetened breads. Richness is understood once the first glass is poured; dried raisins, figs, hints of toffee and even a touch of cocoa are detected as the dark copper liquid settles into a wide mouthed glass. Spicing similar to nutmeg and clove give a contrast the sweetened fruit aromas and help contribute to the overall experience.


Mocha and coffee cake are present on the first sip, sweetened dates and vanilla come mid-palate and the vicious texture coats the palate with a lively texture of bubbles. Grand Cru hits the tongue with a forceful degree of carbonation but this helps the beer from feeling too heavy upon further sips. The sweet levels are high but, again, a warming baked pasty and dough like flavor help meld the sugary Belgian-Style fundamentals. The beer opens even more gracefully when allowed to come close to room temperature; chocolate and fudge emerge upon lingering notes from the spicy yeast and allow the beer to focus into the semi-dry finish. 

Food Pairing:

Being close to the rich end of the spectrum, Grand Cru would need a series of flavors that can compare with a similar level of weight. Braises with deeply flavored reductions and caramelized meats would be the savory contrast to equal the deep fruit notes from the beer. Hazelnuts, walnuts and pecans would all be great options if paired with a blue cheese and lightly dressed raw kale for a lighter, but still substantial, salad option. Baked Butternut squash, either mashed or made into a savory pie, brings the seasonal change into the forefront and would help showcase the natural spiced flavors of the beer.


Grand Cru, something special, a beer to sip and share with the holidays bringing the warming feeling of contemplation upon us all. 

Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: October
Elevation Wild Flowers Imperial Saison
Regular Price: $11.99
Sale Price: $8.99
Sale End: 10/31/2013
ABV: 7.8
IBUs: 30
Elevation Wild Flowers Imperial Saison

The beautiful Arkansas River Valley located within Chaffee County nearly right in the heart of Colorado is one of the most pleasant places the state has to offer. Hugging the base of the Sawatch mountain range, the region is full of marvels given the dramatic range of high altitude peaks. The ‘fourteener region’ is one that holds many memorable sights in any season. While the blissful solitude of the out doors within the winter months is captivating, the spring and warming days of summer truly ease the mind. The growth of the foliage and density of the trees paint the perfect picture of what best represents Colorado. With some good beer, this might be the single best place in the state…

Located in Poncha Springs, the Elevation Brewing Company is surrounded by amazing plateaus and joyful views that captivate all who visit. They have reflected a similar level of beauty in their beers while showcasing the joyful season with Wild Flowers Imperial Saison. Brewed almost as a tribute of sorts to the natural element of the surrounding area, Wild Flowers captures the grace of the brewery’s ambiance.
On to the Tasting Notes:

Hazy in color with an orange hue of honey, Wild Flowers pours with an energetic thickness of carbonation but quickly dissipates into a persistent layer of thin bubbles. Highly yeast forward on the nose with heavy amounts of Belgian phenol characters that are very similar to ripe pears and baked banana bread. The esters are fragrant and enforce the nature in which the beer was named after. The smells are enticing with a floral richness that attracts without relying on an abundance of intensity. Notes of lemon balm and dried tealeaves emerge and give off a captivating degree of aromas that only pull you in for the first sip.

The first sensation on the palate is full of a peppery, almost spicy flavor but they soon transition into a range of sweet fruits. Nearly tropical, but not candied in any way, Wild Flowers is like a fresh piece of apricot sliced in the sunbeams of a warm summer afternoon. Smooth texture and creamy weight gives off a lemon curd comparison while the potent Belgian yeast esters that came off on the nose, now fill the senses with a heady wave. Those used to the bone dry, rustic Farmhouse Ales from southern Belgium might find Wild Flowers leaning more in the direction of a Belgian Triple, but it still represents how varied the style can be. While the richness is obvious, it still comes with a dry and well-attenuated finish; all factors that make the ‘Imperial’ nature of the beer come into full focus. Wild Flowers is modern for sure, but a well-built example of a fine Belgian-Style Saison (and one that makes for a great beer to toast Colorado with).

Food Pairing:
Saisons are like Rieslings when it comes to food pairings, they can fit in almost any application. The candied notes are great for roasted pork and glazed vegetables while the soft spicing of the yeast would work well with small quail or pheasant dishes. Scallops and crab would be fun if looking for something coming from the water as long as there isn’t too much of a subtle composition as part of the dish. The body of Wild Flowers would allow potent blue cheeses to be calmed; this would be a nice beer to end a meal as part of a composed cheese plate. Desserts would be nice, pastry and sweet fruits would easily make for a pleasant place to sip an nibble.
Beer Reviews
Mile High Wine and Spirits Exclusive Beer Release
Crooked Stave Zeke's Belly Up Citrus Surette
Crooked Stave Zeke's Belly Up Citrus Surette

Zeke, our memorable, docile and highly lovable Weimaraner shop dog has connected with numerous individuals over the past few years at Mile High Wine and Spirits. When Zeke greets customers with calming affection, he is known to give himself up and enjoy a warming belly rub. This image is common within the store, enough that a beer label was created in his honor: Zeke's Belly Up. This label was made to represent Zeke’s own individuality by reflecting the same sort of uniqueness that can come from the combination of one beer in a sole oak barrel.

Each year the staff at Mile High Wine and Spirits taste and choose from numerous barrel samples of Bourbon that will eventually be bottled in their entirety for the store. In addition to one barrel’s contents of distilled gold, we also receive the freshly emptied oak vessel in all its aged glory. These barrels are quickly turned over to local breweries that will then fill them with beer, and eventually, bottle the end result to be sold only at Mile High Wine and Spirits. The proceeds of these bottles go to local animal shelters as a way to help our canine and feline friends while paying tribute to that rascal of a dog, Zeke.

While the current and fourth release of Zeke's Belly Up comes as a quite departure from the previous Imperial Stout releases, it encompasses all the same particulars of what the concept was built around. The knowledge of Chad Yakobson and the dedicated crew at Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project were more than happy to help envision this new release.

Crooked Stave's tart and somewhat tangy Surette Saison was funneled into a 10 year old Eagle Rare Bourbon barrel in late 2012. It mingled with the wood and evolved until it was first tasted in the summer of 2013. With the thought of replicating the flavors of a soothing whiskey sour, the juice and zest of fresh Valencia Oranges were added directly into the barrel to macerate for a further few weeks. The end result was bottle conditioned and has exceeded all of our expectations and projections. Zeke’s Belly Up Citrus Surette is now a reality.

On to the Tasting Notes:

The final beer is frothy with tight carbonation and a lovely color of oolong tea and orange marmalade. Zesty and fragrant with bold citrus aromas, a light amount of toast and subtle apple notes from the oak add a contrasting depth. The wild yeast edge of Surette is enticing while the natural lactic flavors only help the citrus come alive, giving comparisons to orange bitters, lemon pound cake and preserved fruits. The first sip is familiar but holds a heavier weight of texture than what is usually found in the base Saison. The rousing high notes of acidity met with the long persistence of slight pithy bitterness are engaging and quite distinct. Apricot jam meets peppery whiskey, wild flowers and candied orange rinds, juicy and fulfilling with elegance though texture and balancing levels of funk; this is a joyful bottle of beer to say the least! We know Zeke would be proud.

Given that this batch of beer was limited to the size of one physical 53 gallon oak barrel, bottles will be very limited. 28 cases will be sold at 10:00 A.M. on Saturday October 5th at $8.99 per bottle with a limit of three bottles per person. Orders will be taken and transactions can be made over the phone, but, given there are only two available lines of communication for this method, we feel that the best way to purchase bottles is by arriving at the shop in person. We greatly look forward to sharing this with all our great friends and customers in the near future.

Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: September
Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales: Calabaza Blanca
Regular Price: $10.99
Sale Price: $8.99
Sale End: 9/30/2013
ABV: 4.8
Beer Advocate: 88
Rate Beer: 96
Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales: Calabaza Blanca

The label of ‘craft beer’ is meaningless. Once needed as a way to associate the small breweries that produced higher quality products than those of the big brands, craft beer is a phrase that is lacking a pure definition and the glimmer of charm it might have once had. The current culture of brewing within American is at an all time high with more room to grow for those that have already become established. Breweries that once were small backyard operations are now available throughout the country with many opening second locations in different time zones. The beer being produced in American is dramatically different if compared from a production standpoint. To focus on a group simply by using the word ‘craft’ to give precedence is borderline unnecessary.


Brewers should understand the craft that they are committed to from the beginning. Their dreams and dedications should arise in all the creations that come from their hands. The importance of technique, within one’s ‘craft’, can mean the difference between experiencing something that is uninspired while another is nearing ethereal. The great breweries of current times are obviously interested in the basis of what defines their ‘craft’. One would hope that those dedicating and consuming the final product could understand just what it is that captivates them.


One of the strongest and possibly most iconic current American brewery to define what ‘craft beer’ is to some (and isn’t to others) is the Jolly Pumpkin brewery. Michigan has one of the most impressive single state collections of admirable breweries in the nation and Jolly Pumpkin is at both the most distinct and possibly the most impressive. Their labels and names are whimsical and somewhat playful but the beer within each bottle is captivating with honesty. It might come with a touch of humor for the industry as catchy names and flashy logos are just how many describe brands under the ‘craft beer’ title, yet, Jolly Pumpkin’s beers are not what one would expect.


Defining their line of beers as being ‘Artisan Ales’, the concepts behind the methods come from the mind of Ron Jeffries. Forged in the year of 2004, just before these smaller breweries really began to be desired, the Jolly Pumpkin beers stood out from the rest as they integrated familiar Belgian styles but allowed these beers to spend time in oak barrels. These were not oak aged beers in the sense of bold wood flavors or desired contributions from sprits that were previously held within, these beers were lacking oxidation while having significant clarity and precision.


The time in barrels give each beer a moment to mingle with natural yeasts and particular bacteria that will help give structure and distinction over time. Each of the many beers from Jolly Pumpkin is aged on oak. There was no other American brewery doing so at the time. Fresh bottles have vibrant flavors of what the base style might be while bottles reaching 5 months of age will have a pleasing tartness and an increased level of earthy yeast characteristics. Some that have been allowed to rest for years can pick up flavors that are down right sour. Jolly Pumpkin is simply one of the modern godfathers of creative American brewing.

On to the Tasting Notes:

As the baby blue cap is pried off, an immediate burst of gas and smoke waft from the bottle. The beer is quick to push its way out of the bottle from the energetic bubbles. Picture perfect carbonation fills any glass; hopefully one with decent surface area, and the golden color of the liquid begins to emerge from underneath the foam. The citrus aromas are pure and unmistakable; tangerines, limes and Meyer lemons invite the senses with their zesty freshness. Anyone familiar with wild and sour beers will pick up on the distinct qualities contributed from the house bacteria and yeasts that were used. Even while boarding on funky, the aroma is soothing and inviting. To contrast, the integrated spicing from coriander contributes a nutty and herbal aroma not too far from Chai tea. Highly desirable, the beer is a joy to experience.

The same degree of citrus intensity that was present on the nose is translated upon the palate upon first taste. Juicy and very tart but remaining bone dry, boldly carbonated and textured with a prickly amount of bubbles that coat the mouth and leaves a squeaky clean feeling. The spicing comes out on the finish with an earthy nutmeg and cardamom woodiness that gives the slightest bit of bitterness. The Belgian Style Wit qualities are still apparent, tangy and herbal with that soft sweetness of oranges. Calabaza Blanca takes the classic combinations and utilizes them as well as any other but gives a significantly larger amount of complexity along the way.

The beer drinks with such and enjoyment that each glass is quickly emptied with the hopes of more. Truly refreshing, the flavors are bright and vivid with purity and slowly place a spell over all those that sit with a bottle of Calabaza. While fresh bottles are driven by the snappy wheat and cracked pepper notes, aged versions dry out and develop a very lactic edge of acidity. The commitment to retaining the familiar attributes of a given style but adding depth though the use of oak aging is one that focuses on pleasure while still creating and fulfilling the desire of the unknown. 


One doesn’t need to lump breweries such as this under the umbrella called ‘craft’. It is apparent from that first sip just how special the beers of Jolly Pumpkin can be. The brewery is one that understands their craft and the focus on this one word is a simplification of the commitment and methods utilized in the overall process. The ones responsible for the birth of Jolly Pumpkin had a vision of the future. With gratitude and happiness to be able to experience a beer such as Calabaza Blanca, that future is now a current reality.
Food Pairing:

The fragrant spice and citrusy edge of Calabaza Blanca bring to mind seafood and oysters. The beer is pleasant and clean enough to pair with delicate flavors that can included oysters on the half shell with shallot spiked mignonette, butter poached white fish, pan seared scallops and even sashimi applications would all make for a graceful combination. The bold carbonation of Calabaza, together with the pleasurable tartness, will be a joy with equally citrusy goat cheeses, salty and firm sheep’s milk and especially the dense Swiss styles. Coconut flavors and anything with a punch of spice, vibrant vegetables touched by a splash of high quality vinegar, blt sandwiches and simple roast chicken, all of these will happily take a joyful partnership with Calabaza Blanca. 

Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: September
Stiegl Brauerei- Goldbräu Märzen Lager
Regular Price: $3.49
Sale Price: $2.49
Sale End: 9/30/2013
ABV: 4.9
Stiegl Brauerei- Goldbräu Märzen Lager

While Germany and the Czech Republic hold their place as the more recognizable of the central/eastern European beer destinations, one shouldn't forget the bountiful amount of bottles that come from country of Austria. Much like the wine culture, the beers of Austria can be fundamental examples of age-old traditions or the modern forward thinking creations that are progressive as much as they are familiar. Standing strong as one of the world's leading countries for per capita beer consumption, Austria knows how to hold its booze when it comes to barley and hops. 


One of Austria's oldest breweries, and possibly the most well known, Stiegl is said to be the largest independent brewery in the country. Located next to the stairs of the Festung Hohensalzburg fortress in the town of Salzburg (Stiegl’s translates to ‘stairs’), Stiegl joins both Mozart and The Sound of Music as cultural landmarks in this far western part of Austria. The brewery's history stretches back to 1492 with brewing operations taking place on this site for its entirety. Using pure local Untersberg mountain water, the lagers coming from the Stiegl brewery can compete with some of the finest examples to be found in any of the boarding countries. 


Stiegl offers the range of classic styles with a few interesting options as well (Canned citrus radler and a Double IPA!). The beer that leads the pack from Stiegl is the Goldbräu Märzen Lager. Essentially an Oktoberfest, this offering is found year round when many of the other Märzen Lagers only arrive during the late summer season. No matter what the weather dictates, the Goldbräu seems to always find an appropriate place.
On to the Tasting Notes:

The beer pours a tightly woven head of bubbles that fill any vessel with precise layering until eventually falling into the copper colored liquid. Filtered to offer ultimate clarity, the bronze tone of the beer is a welcoming sight that immediately beckons a deep desire for the initial sip. Aromas of yeast and hearth baked bread highlight the origin of the beer, only the lagers of Europe smell this way. Fallen autumn leaves, toasted gains and fragrant brioche sooth the senses and fuel the appetite.


Immediately thirst quenching, Stiegl’s Goldbräu is smooth on the tongue with a plush texture and a comforting flavor of roasted nuts and honey. Images of fallen oak and crisp fall evenings come to mind with each new sip. Some sweet levels similar to banana bread are apparent but quickly transition into a finish that is zesty and full of citrus high notes. While candied on the front palate, the finish is much drier than the usual Oktoberfest Märzen. Bitterness creeps onto the tongue and lingers with a pleasant degree of contrast. Wonderfully drinkable, the secondary flavors are subtle and allow the beer to be consumed with ease while still holding interest for the drinker.
Food Pairing:

The malt body and delicate offerings of sweetness allow for a variety of options when pairing food. Dinner rich with roasted meat laden with garlic and herbs, creamed sweet potatoes and lightly cooked hearty greens will hit the satisfying level of pure pleasure. Casual turkey and Swiss on rye with sharp mustard and creamy mayo (if that’s your style) will make one just as happy but without the kitchen clutter. For an early affair: French toast with hazelnuts and caramel coated bananas would set the tone for the rest of the day. Märzen for the people, by the people as Stiegl knows how to make a few happy…

Austria’s beers will not be ignored!



Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: August
Epic Brewing Company Blue Ski Lager
Regular Price: $3.99
Sale Price: $2.99
Sale End: 8/31/2013
ABV: 5.3
Epic Brewing Company Blue Ski Lager

The American microbrewery boom is reaching heights that many never thought possible. Demand is far from slowing. The decision for many is sudden as growth can easily catch businesses off guard and quickly defines itself as a necessity rather than a future projection. There are those that understand their stance of only wanting to supply the direct locals and feel content of being a ‘neighborhood’ brewery. Others realize that the only way to bring the large picture into focus is to take the efforts to expand and grow.

Getting the doors open is monumental for the young startups. Convincing patrons to stay and return over time is mandatory for the health of the business. If this can be done, all would seem golden. But then, not all that glitters…

Sometimes being small is simply too small. Never having enough or running out with daily accuracy can quickly become frustrating. Taking the efforts needed for an upgrade might as well be just as difficult as opening the doors in the first place. Equipment and staffing, constructing and closures, problems and patched up solutions are inevitable and highly demanding all while regular duties are still in effect. Breaking ground on an existing location for has been achieved with glowing results for many big names within the brewing community and yet, many others see the opportunity to further their brand by creating a new location altogether.

Sierra Nevada, New Belgium, Oskar Blues, Lagunitas, all breweries that realized what potential could come from maintaining the forward momentum of their home base while thinking of new territory by opening a second location in a new state. These new markets will have beer already being brewed much closer to the final destination. Shipping costs and transportation issues are reduced and many owners realize what can be achieved in the future months if allowed to truly grow and expand. This direction will influence many more to come, and as of this past year, one of the most recent has been the Epic Brewing Company.

Their original location is located in Salt Lake City, Utah and as of the summer of 2013, a brand new brewing facility was constructed within the city of Denver. The first beers to be brewed on the brand new system were created for this location in particular. Water sources, altitude and overall layout differences came into play and three new beers were made to utilize all the specifics of the area. One of the new beers within the introductory  ‘Classic Line’ is the easy drinking Blue Ski Lager.

On to the Tasting Notes:

Brewed to mimic the satisfying Pilsners style beers of Germany, Blue Ski is loaded with Weyermann pilsner and Munich malts that give off their signature nutty and soft biscuit aromas. Pouring with a golden clarity, the carbonation is tight with bubbles that rest easy atop the vibrant liquid. The image of a nicely poured lager is one that easily makes the mouth water. Herbal hop accents are present along with a zesty almost lemon rind fragrance to only increase one’s desire for the first satisfying sip.

Rounded on the plate with a smooth texture that slides and coats the tongue with a medium-bodied degree of weight. Hops are present, but the Tettnang varietals are all in line with what would expect from a nice Czech Pilsner, fresh grass, light bitterness and soothing level of ripe citrus mingle on the palate. As the hops leave their distinct flavors, the beer’s base malt flavors come out with a hint of cream and baked bread driven comparisons. Not at all heavy, simply rounded and interesting while still being a simple and effortless drinking experience.

Soft fruit flavor of pear and green grapes are faint, but apparent within the range of the other qualities. Never boarding on rich, the beer is bone dry, the fruitiness is met with a high level of tang that brings the citrus back into the fold. The arrangement of the variety of flavors come together nicely and make for a great first effort at the new Denver facility.
Food Pairing:
Seafood dishes would be a great platform for the beer to show off the light citrus flavors all while never distracting from the subtleties of light fish or shrimp. The German sausages and sauerkraut route could be taken, just stay clear of anything with excessive smoke. Lemon and rosemary grilled chicken would define the summer if had with a glass of the Blue Ski Lager. Thai food and other coconut/spice driven foods would also be a nice contrast for a pairing. Lagers are delightfully easy to pair with food but can also be overtaken when a single flavor is present. Keeping the pairing to simple flavors or counterbalancing heat is the way to go.
Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: August
Stone Smoked Porter
Regular Price: $4.99
Sale Price: $3.99
Sale End: 8/31/2013
ABV: 5.9
IBUs: 58
Beer Advocate: 90
Rate Beer: 99
Stone Smoked Porter

The modern day beer drinkers, post 2010, are some of the most educated and highly opinionated groupings of individuals that dedicate their passion of something specific. Hobby isn’t the right word, neither is fad, many of those that devote their efforts to the world of all things beer related will most likely be interested for the majority of their lives. Never has there been a time where so many choices were made available to the consumer. Endless options from across the globe, legendary beers that stand the test of time are discussed and captured with ease, new styles forged out of bizarre combinations all for the desire of something new.

That is now, post 2010, it would be difficult to imagine a beer wasteland as there was in the mid-nineties. These ‘classic’ styles were around, but they took a great degree of effort to capture. Traveling was mandatory to experience the monk’s ales of Belgium or the communal lagers of Germany and without it, these were nearly fabled tales that one could scarcely read about. The American ‘Craft’ scene was just emerging and from the void came an explosion of new forward thinking breweries that changed the beer world forever.

Before the barrel-aged craze, the imperialization of anything containing hops, the insane sour and funk driven wild ales, beer was a simple affair for the majority of those partaking. There was a time when Sierra Nevada, Anchor and Anderson Valley were some of the only micobrewery options to be had. There was a time when Barleywines were a rare experience, Double IPAs were only distant concepts and a thick dark beer was something to cherish. Some of the most important figures to help mold the redundant into a semi-revolution came from Greg Kosch and Steve Wager, the co-creators of Stone Brewing Company.

Stone’s imagery may be abrasive for some but there is no denying the influence it carried onto the rest of the forward thinking beer drinker over the years. Arrogant Bastard is a household name in today’s world but again, thinking back to a time where this was a significant departure from anything else on the market. Other beers began to take off in a similar direction, one of which was the Smoked Porter.


Stone’s Smoked Porter is now seen as a pillar to the foundation of the brewery’s lineup. It is a common sight with the other standard offerings but not to say that it has ever become stagnant, this Smoked Porter is still one of the finest offerings of the style.

On to the Tasting Notes:

Toast and charred aromas are immediate upon the first sniff. Freshly baked breads with the slightest bit of burnt ends come to mind as well as a warming level of pleasant smoke that doesn’t at all intimidate. While many examples are full of extreme campfire and fatty bacon-like intensities, Stone’s Smoked Porter is a balancing act of pungency and delicate undertones. The smoke levels are layered upon the natural coffee and roasted grain sensations almost as if to give a final seasoning without detracting from the foundation of the beer’s style. Welcoming with a homey sort of approach, one is easily drawn in for the first sip.


Lush and rounded on the tongue but never cloying or sweet, smoky and somewhat vegetal but not as if taking a sip of Islay born whiskey, hop heavy but by way of soothing bitterness rather than a harsh extreme. While Stone is known for pushing the limits to the far ends, their Smoked Porter is a pleasant and quite well mannered expression. All the flavors are within balance of each other; nothing feels out of place with the flavors of peat smoked malt falling in line with the chocolate and espresso attributes. The alcohol is in check around 5.9% making this a great beer for easy consumption while still tasting as if it was much stronger. Stone’s Smoked Porter is an offering that showcases restraint, the flavors are bold but when had in a reasonable amount come off as utterly desirable.
Food Pairing:

This is yet another wonderful application to pair with barbequed meats. Just as all smoked beers do, the shared flavor resonates between the liquid and the protein making for a seamless unity of the two. Dishes containing cooked or stewed tomatoes bring a bright note of acidity to the beer’s bitter and chocolate forward flavors. Long braised beans with chili and hominy would certainly make for a dynamic partnership; add grilled chicken or shrimp skewers for a rounded meal. After dinner chocolates or rich dairy laced offerings make for a variety of options for those with a sweet tooth. What did people do without beers of this nature years ago!?

Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: July
Brewery Van Honsebrouck St Louis Fond Tradition Gueuze
Regular Price: $7.99
Sale Price: $6.49
Sale End: 7/31/2013
ABV: 5
Beer Advocate: 88
Rate Beer: 94
Brewery Van Honsebrouck St Louis Fond Tradition Gueuze

The Belgian Lambic is a style of beer that might be the single best representation for the country concerning its contribution to the history of beer. Not only is it one of the most complex to brew, the process in which it is created is truly linked to the past by way of the odd methods and labor intensive steps needed to make what Lambic truly is, but it is one of the oldest surviving beer styles that still links modern drinkers with the palates of generations prior.


Lambic is brewed using a grain bill that contains a large degree of unmalted wheat, long hours going though a turbid mash method from which the sugars and starches are truly pulled from the grist, old hops (upwards of three years old) contribute preservative oils but not much aroma or perceivable flavor, spontaneously fermented by the wild yeasts in large open top copper vessels called coolships and then aged in neutral barrels where the concoction mingles with resident bacteria and yeasts where it will rest until a master blender deems it worthy for consumption. Lambic is still enjoyed as it has been for hundreds of years, being only surpassed by the masterful creation known as Gueuze.


All Gueuze is Lambic, only blended from stocks 1, 2 and 3 years in age. This blending achieves the proper balance of earthy complexities and bold funk with the bright lactic characteristics of lively bacteria and spritzy bubbles from the younger beer that still have available sugars to ferment and create the rounded texture that happens within the bottle for conditioning. Gueuze is the REAL Champagne of beers.


While this style is debated back and forth as to it only being able to be properly achieved within the Senne Valley of Belgium, the traditionalists really do establish a sense of place without dismissing the obsessive level of desire that comes from experience a beverage so masterfully crafted. The few remaining brewers and blenders of Gueuze are to be cherished for their contribution to a fragile link to the past that is taking root in America by influencing and continually inspiring the most respected minds within the brewing industry.


Some producers are so valued and sought after that their entire annual production, if allowed to come stateside, would only last a matter of weeks. Many Gueuze producers create in a year what local brewpubs might achieve in half the amount of time. It goes without saying that desire and interest play a major part into these beers. It has become something of a void for style appreciation as the demand for traditional Gueuze escalates and yet the realistic amount of liquid that can be bottled lacks in volume. As luck would have it, there is a producer just large enough where their offerings can be had almost daily.
On to the Tasting Notes:

The Brewery Van Honsebrouck is a powerhouse for typically known Belgian Style beers. Tripels, fruited offerings, Kriek labels, Flemish Browns and the like are scattered throughout the list and yet, the shinning star is the original St Louis Fond Tradition Gueuze. The beer is bottled unfiltered and without sweeteners (a sad occurrence with other modern blenders) and gives off a hazy color of bronze when poured and held to the light. The particles held within each bottle give texture and weight while contributing different flavors depending on if one’s glass was being filled towards the beginning of the bottle or at its end. The slow and steady pour from a bottle held nearly upright is the cleanest way to get the proper purity.


Straw, faint raw milk cheese pungency, yeast and wood all come to the forefront with each whiff. These beers capture the rustic nature of their origin without boarding on the offensive. Earth driven with wild summer air and damp leaf qualities; Fond Tradition is still rather tame and easy compared to what other producers can display. With as much ‘funk’ as is displayed, there is still an inviting citrus lightness that draws one in.


Full of razor sharp flavors, the Gueuze displays the time spent on wood with complex lactic high notes that make each sip so interesting. Lemon juice, green tea, washrind cheeses, fallen leaves and fresh grasses all mingle on the palate. Such a wide range of secondary characters but still focused and achieving a level of easy drinking that catches the attention of a wide spectrum of people. These beers are based in history; they were the drink of the peasants as well as the modern workingman. They are enjoyable and distinctly unique and truly something that has spawned a worldwide phenomenon as the thirst grows for this odd combination of old world elements. St Louis Fond Tradition is a starting point, a beer that represents what the style truly is while still giving lightness that is easy to explain. Truly a beer that could be had daily if one wanted.
Food Pairing:

One of the classic preparations would be a steamed pot of mussels with Gueuze. The briny flavors of the sea meet the citrus and herbal notes of the beer creating a perfect combo that makes all that experience it rethink the typical wine application. Other fish and coruscations based dishes share a similar relationship with butter sauces or fresh broths to give a base to work from. Blended Lambic is tremendous as part of a charcuterie board, the salt and natural fat of the meat working brilliantly with the high tones and thirst quenching flavors of the beverage. Cheeses are no different; this might be another one of those liquid that can pair with nearly any type of curd. Gueuze and food really bring out the amazing subtleties and further define this as being not only one of the most interesting experiences within the world of beer but one of the greatest ties to times past. 

Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: July
Weltenburger Barock-Hell
Regular Price: $2.99
Sale Price: $2.29
Sale End: 7/31/2013
ABV: 5.6
Weltenburger Barock-Hell

With roots firmly planted in the history of German brewing, the monastery Weltenburger Kloster brewery is one of the country’s most important breweries still in existence. While falling only a few years short of being called the world’s oldest established brewery, the monks who are still on premise to create the classic German styles make up the world’s oldest Monastery brewery.  Not much has changed from the way these beers were created hundreds of years ago, in fact, it wasn’t until the mid 70’s that new brewing equipment was installed to give modern touches. Classically focused with a proud stance for the true fundamentals, the beers of the Weltenburger Kloster brewery are some of the most pure offerings to be found from any German brewery.


While their Assam Doppelbock and Barock-Dunkel get the most attention and awards, their Barock-Hell is a standout for the style, one of which showcases elegance and simplicity while still being highly enjoyable and masterfully balanced. All of the beers brewed on location at the Weltenburger monastery are created from a very pure water source that runs right beneath the walls of the brewery. The Barock naming for their beers showcases the ‘barouqe’ nature in which they are created. Helles, by style guidelines, are lighter in color than Dunkels but not as perceivably hoppy and bone dry as some Pilsners can be. They fall into a sweet spot for enjoyment as their lightness is easy and smooth but the slight touch of sweetness and obvious malt flavors make them wonderfully easy to drink. The Barock Hell is no exception; a true example of what proper balance can do for beer.

On to the Tasting Notes:

Once the bottle is opened, the energy of the liquid is known. Tight bubbles pour with vigor but find their place in the glass and settle with ease. Nutty aromas and yeasty layers emerge and create a magical fragrance that only true German beers seem to capture. Floral in a way that is engaging as a warm breeze is, caramel and distant brown sugar notes come out but only to subside and come into their own as a zesty lemon rind perk of sharpness arises. The yeast is always present by giving a structure to the delicate aromas without anything feeling out of place. The beer is simply captivating; it would be near impossible to walk away without a taste after smelling the bouquet of the Barock.


Smooth on the tongue, the first sip is highly refreshing and offers a rounded texture full of clean flavors. Bread and warm malt bring a soft toast on the palate while the drying citrus gives a contrast and freshens. Amber honey, dried fruit, fresh herbs and a soft bitterness all give the Barock Hell a simple but still strikingly tasteful expression of flavor. The water source used to create these beers can be felt as the lingering sensation of vibrant citrus brings to mind the mineral and river rock like comparisons. Barock Hell is soft and warming in the right places but still expressive with bright grassy and sweetened grain flavors that balance each other out and create a finish that is dry and to the point. The focus of a true German lager is nothing short of inspiring.
Food Pairing:

The Barock Hell makes for a great back yard cookout pairing especially with summer in full swing. Grilled pork skewers with lemongrass and coconut steamed rice and lime/chili dipping sauce would be a great Asian meets European way to show off how the beer can tango with some heat. Classic Sauerkraut loaded on a mustard studded bratwurst would be the easy route and with the sweetened honey flavors meeting the sharp flavors of the condiments while soothing the partnership. Shrimp tacos with pickled red onions, mango salsa, cotija cheese and finely diced roasted potatoes would make for a delicious gathering and would showcase the mineral notes of the Weltenburger with the shrimp while the cheese and potatoes bring the earthy notes to focus. If paring with cheese, it would be best to seek out the extra aged styles from Holland, breaking and shattering rather than slicing due to their low moisture content, as their concentrated levels of sweetness and nearly crystal like texture give many lingering sensations of flavor. Swiss styles would be another great route as would sharp cheddars, both having great salty high notes to meet the soft malt sweetness of the beer. German lagers can do no wrong.

Beer Reviews
Bomer of the Month: June
Mikkeller Mexas Ranger
Regular Price: $15.99
Sale Price: $12.99
Sale End: 6/30/2013
ABV: 6.6
Beer Advocate: 87
Rate Beer: 99
Mikkeller Mexas Ranger

Mikkeller may be considered the forefather of the current ‘Gypsy Brewer’ movement that is growing across the globe. This neologism is a simplification of the efforts involved for those that ‘brew without a brewery’ but the term does capture the base essence that makes up the ideals. Creation though questioning the form, sketched images brought to life with only a faint collection of what may arise, the desire for the unknown by way of pushing what one knows. Simple creativity at its best.

Mikkeller is a force that combines the scratching of an investigational itch but allowing refinement to build and take shape over time. Travel and insight plays as much a part as does new bounties of hop harvest or freshly emptied whiskey casks. Those who fit within this ‘Gypsy’ grouping are fueled by a desire of the experience, sometimes coming from a world away.

The cuisine of Southwestern America is one of the defining traits of the location. Bold flavors and earth driven nuances infuse within the dishes that many hold dear. These influences are impressionable on those that cross the path and have an open mind. Beer can act as a condiment of sorts of retaining the base flavor of something worlds away while still giving a shocking reality to the taste buds. A Danish born dreaming of Texas Rangers might best describe what Chipotle Porter is all about. Playfully running with this direction, Mexas Ranger is a crazy fiesta follow up of a beer.


By taking the spicy and chocolate forward flavors of the Chipotle Porter, Mikkeller’s Mexas Ranger is a fantastic elaboration on a theme that takes a direction south of the boarder. Using and intricate blend of corn, almond milk, cocoa, black beans, avocado leaves and the obvious chili peppers, the somewhat bizarre offering concentrates flavor more present on a cutting board than in a brewery and yet, the marriage works deliciously well.
On to the Tasting Notes:

Unquestionably spice forward upon the bottle’s opening, the chili and pepper fragrance hit the nose with a pleasant tingle. Cocoa and chocolate brownies merged with an edge of herbal hops work off of the beer’s base porter recipe and give a complex arrangement of sharp heat and memorable culinary attributes. Dark in color with a deep brown crown of bubbles, the beer has an oily film that coats the glass, once again, very similar to how the original Chipotle Porter appears.


The first sip is a warming bite of chili heat and somewhat smoked meat qualities. Horchata and coconuts are faint, but present, all while the chocolate bitterness coats the tongue and leaves richness without feeling sweet. One can’t help but think of the black beans that are listed as an ingredient and what their contribution to the overall flavor range might be. Their presence isn’t distracting, there is a slight earthy character that helps give the mid-palate a lasting depth but is an example of softness. Herbs and some wild berry fruit show their faces but are rounded and help give more structure and intricate layers to the overall flavor. Spice driven but well-balanced, smoke heavy but light and aromatic, interesting and different but ultimately a very successful blending of two worlds of flavor.
Food Pairing:
Mexas Ranger might even be more suited for grilled and smoked foods than the Chipotle Porter is. The ‘green’ flavors of the beer make for wonderful vegetable options. Grilled artichokes, zucchini, pickled items and asparagus can all be matched up without loosing their sight of the pairing. Burgers enjoyed under the fading summer’s sun would elevated to become one of the more memorable meals of the year as Mexas Ranger both gives a smoky kiss to the meat while acting as a complement to the range of condiments. For meatless options, this could be a very dynamic beverage to have with a chilled bowl of gazpacho. Onions and citrus hitting the tongue with a perk of acidity while the beers spice and roasted flavor could bring out the natural flavors of the tomatoes. Another great beer for food, it doesn’t hurt that nachos come to mind when drinking a Mexas Ranger.
Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: June
Mikkeller Chipotle Porter
Regular Price: $14.99
Sale Price: $11.99
Sale End: 6/30/2013
ABV: 6.6
Beer Advocate: 90
Rate Beer: 99
Mikkeller Chipotle Porter

Mikkeller may be considered the forefather of the current ‘Gypsy Brewer’ movement that is growing across the globe. This neologism is a simplification of the efforts involved for those that ‘brew without a brewery’ but the term does capture the base essence that makes up the ideals. Creation though questioning the form, sketched images brought to life with only a faint collection of what may arise, the desire for the unknown by way of pushing what one knows. Simple creativity at its best.

Mikkeller is a force that combines the scratching of an investigational itch but allowing refinement to build and take shape over time. Travel and insight plays as much a part as does new bounties of hop harvest or freshly emptied whiskey casks. Those who fit within this ‘Gypsy’ grouping are fueled by a desire of the experience, sometimes coming from a world away.

The cuisine of Southwestern America is one of the defining traits of the location. Bold flavors and earth driven nuances infuse within the dishes that many hold dear. These influences are impressionable on those that cross the path and have an open mind. Beer can act as a condiment of sorts of retaining the base flavor of something worlds away while still giving a shocking reality to the taste buds. A Danish born dreaming of Texas Rangers might best describe what Chipotle Porter is all about.

On to the Tasting Notes:

Pouring with an insanely dark head, the beer's bubbles are nearing the color of a freshly pulled shot of espresso. While nearing the tone of pure black, there is a faint glimmer of light that pushes out though the edges of the liquid when given a closer inspection. The beer leaves a slight oily quality on the side of the glass as it reduces and settles into itself. The beer gets its name from the used of actual dried chipotle chilies and the first sniff is full of intensity, nearing a level as if they were crushed and dropped into the glass. Heavy levels of roasted grains and black peppercorns can also be detected as the scorching traits of the chili tickle one's nostrils. While it seems like a furnace of spice, there is a green note of hops and grilled vegetables that comes with subtle energy.

The first sip is immediate with a spice that stings the back of the throat and warms the belly. The charred flavors are not painful; instead, they give a sensation that is highly unique within the beer world. The heat of the chipotle is somewhat soothing as the heady levels of smoke are met with the richness from the cocoa and bittersweet chocolate flavors to create a singular flavor not far from mole sauce.


While the smoke plays a dominant part as of the overall flavor, it is less about peat and more about the aromas of a backyard bbq; inviting rather than bluntly harsh. Once the palate becomes accustom to the heat, delicious rich chocolate and fudge flavors really start to emerge. The Porter base is lush and highly textured with the slightest comparison to horchata coming to mind. The Porter coats the mouth with an oily texture which could have been contributed from the natural oils in the chipotle chilies. The silken nature is enhanced from this very contribution and gives the beer a desirable attribute as the bottle drains.
Pouring with an insanely dark head, the beer's bubbles are nearing the color of a freshly pulled shot of espresso. While nearing the tone of pure black, there is a faint glimmer of light that pushes out though the edges of the liquid when given a closer inspection. The beer leaves a slight oily quality on the side of the glass as it reduces and settles into itself. The beer gets its name from the used of actual dried chipotle chilies and the first sniff is full of intensity, nearing a level as if they were crushed and dropped into the glass. Heavy levels of roasted grains and black peppercorns can also be detected as the scorching traits of the chili tickle one's nostrils. While it seems like a furnace of spice, there is a green note of hops and grilled vegetables that comes with subtle energy
Food Pairing:

Chipotle Porter might be the single best beer to have with a big plate of smoky ribs or long roasted pork shoulder. Anything with a bacon or natural smoke flavor will meet seamlessly with this beer. Paella, studded with spicy chorizo and fragrant paprika would be a great summertime option. Glazed meats and lightly sweetened foods would also meet the dark flavors with a delightful contrast of flavors. Hot spiced chocolate and churros with a glass of Chipotle Porter makes for a blissful night…  

Beer Reviews
Bull & Bush MAN BEER
Featured Beer
Featured Beer

We are so very delighted to announce the arrival of a certain ‘Beer you’ve been practicing for’ that just might be the final piece in the massive puzzle that represents the Colorado beer scene. You are reading this correct; Bull & Bush has finally bottled MAN BEER! One of the most balanced English styled (but Colorado geared) hoppy offerings to ever grace a pint glass is now available in 16.9 ounce bottles. MAN BEER’s clean malt profile is smooth and satisfyingly nutty and gives the herbal and marmalade flavors of the hops a launching pad to erupt from. Gaining quite a cult following over the years, this is a new chapter for Bull & Bush.

 

Bull & Bush is a legendary Denver landmark and cannot go unmentioned when discussing the top breweries in the state. Classic pub styled food all made from scratch, cask conditioned Ales, an unprecedented whiskey collection, highly desirable barrel aged offerings, local hop infusions and simply some of the most enjoyable beers to be had on a classic scale as well as on the experimental route. Numerous Great American Beer Festival and World Beer Cup awards have been given to Bull & Bush over the years including a marvelous Gold Medal for MAN BEER in the English IPA category in 2012.

 

This truly is an exciting moment in Colorado’s brewing history and we are overjoyed at the chance to offer MAN BEER in its bottled form. 

Beer Reviews
Marble Double White Ale
Bomber of the Month: June
Regular Price: $6.99
Sale Price: $4.99
Sale End: 6/30/2013
ABV: 7
Beer Advocate: 88
Rate Beer: 92
Bomber of the Month: June

The ubiquitous American ‘Imperialization’ of classic beers styles is an attribute that can, in it’s own way, be a defining quality of many modern microbreweries. Some feel the need to stray from the casual offerings and elaborate until a new creation has been molded. The basic questioning of what could be done if doubled, tripled and even quadrupled fulfilled the desire for the unknown as well as succeeded in given new flavors and interactions along the way. 

This situation spawned many new styles that we still cherish today but their inception was difficult to solidify. Most other designs were more or less redundant as intensity became the overall focus while stripping the beer from the basis in which it originated from. Imperial beers don’t have to be full of harsh characteristics, and when done right, they can achieve a delightful range of flavors that might not have been as vivid from whence they started. 

The Marble Brewery from Albuquerque, New Mexico is one such brewery that understands the soft flavors of the simple styles but can also keep their striking purity when the doubling and ‘Imperialization’ is allowed. While Their Double IPA and Imperial Red are delightful and full of bold hop flavors, the Double White is the true stand out as it represents a different take on a highly recognized style.

On to the Tasting Notes:

Fragrant from the get go, Marble’s Double White Ale is spiced with coriander and citrus zest, as per the original style would, the aromas are based in fundamentals while offering higher levels of ripe fruit and winter wheat. Lacking the banana and clove qualities that make up German based wheat beers, Marble’s offering is expressive of Belgian styled distinction. The inviting aromas of Belgian yeast contribute elegant degrees of complexity with just the slightest bit of bubblegum and fresh oranges. All the basic nuances that are expected in many Belgian style wheat beers are present but concentrated to a degree of coming off as a new experience all together.


The Double Wit is juicy and highly refreshing upon first sip. Bread and lemon rind are obvious while a soft Hibiscus like flavor emerges on the finish. Green grapes also play into the composure while a warming spice edge hits the back of the palate and helps with the drying sensation of the beer. Hazy and golden from the proteins within the wheat, the unfiltered nature gives a lovely texture and simply fills the mouth with a sort of creamy sensation. The texture is full without being candied, offering more weight than the usual beer of a similar style. The structure is comparable to Belgian Triples only without the residual sweetness, instead, the flavors are inviting and highly enjoyable just as if they were coming from a beer many degrees lower in alcohol.

Food Pairing:

Given the fruity flavors that open on the palate, this would be a nice beginning for simple meals and casual lunches. Goat cheese and feta both share the salty and sometimes lactic flavors and would work well off of the wheat and similar lemon elements from the beer. Shrimp dishes, white fish or sea food salads would bring a briny element to the table that could pull out mineral notes from the wheat while showcasing the bone dry finish. Eggs either as part of a vibrant spring omelet or lightly poached with rich hollandaise would fall into place when partnered with Marble’s Double White Ale. The simple applications are sometimes the most engaging and this is a beer that defines the application.  

Beer Reviews
Mikkeller/Anchorage Brewing Co. Invasion Farmhouse IPA 750 ml
Featured Bomber
Regular Price: $15.99
Rate Beer: 99
Featured Bomber

More Mikkeller madness to invade your glass and cellars, this particular bottle coming to us from the spectacular Anchorage Brewing Company out of Anchorage Alaska. The long time brewer at Midnight Sun, Gabe Fletcher created Anchorage Brewing Company as a way to envision his desire for beers that focus on all things oak aged, wood fermented and that life bringing yeast known as Brettanomyces. Anchorage is one of the frontrunners of an American brewing movement that is specializing in the treatment of Brettanomyces and what it can contribute across a wider spectrum of beer styles. Mikkeller’s ‘Gypsy Brewer’ title brought him to direct communication with Gabe Fletcher and the basis for Invasion Farmhouse IPA was born.

Mikkeller’s Invasion IPA label was created as a way of brewing the same base recipe at different locations to show just how minor details in location and circumstances can create completely new experiences. Using a Farmhouse yeast and aging in oak then hopped to a degree of being highly expressive with IPA characteristics, this Mikkeller/Anchorage collaboration brings the best qualities of many different styles all together in one beer.

On to the Tasting Notes:
Zesty and full of ripe citrus aromas, the hops are fragrant and full of freshness even while the beer is already 6 months old. Aged in oak and re-fermented in the bottle with Brett, the natural working power of the yeast slows oxidation and retains the punch of juicy tropical hop nuances. Having enough age, the wild yeast has emerged enough to contribute the distinct earthy and rustic edges of flavors that are both delicious as they are complex. Bitter orange rind, ripe mangos, tannic wood and picture perfect attenuation, this is a beer that sets a standard and should be in the running for beginning a new style all together. Two great mad men, at the height of their craft have put their heads together and created a beer that seems to have come from somewhere deep within their area of desire. It translates well onto us and we welcome the invasion.
Beer Reviews
Brasserie du Blaugies Saison d'Epeautre
Bomber of the Month: May
Regular Price: $12.99
Sale Price: $10.99
Sale End: 5/31/2013
ABV: 6
Beer Advocate: 89
Rate Beer: 95
Bomber of the Month: May

To be interested in the craft of beer fermentation within today’s world of choices can be particularly challenging as much as it can be undeniably satisfying. Never has there been a better time to gain an understating of the individual styles that are linked with tradition from all the classic beer producing countries. Modern brewers have access to a variety of literature that describes these styles, many of them nearly being lost, with enough detail for them to once again be brought to life. While some beers are only enjoyed though educated guesses, there are still many producers that have strived to carry on the traditions of their area which only allows us to experience what these beers might have tasted like many decades ago. One of the most iconic styles that represent the fundamentals of beer born out of necessity is the much-varied Saison Ale.

The Saison beer style is one of the most easy to understand from a conceptualization standpoint and yet one that is full of individual mutations. It is a style that is growing in popularity with the casual beer drinker to the point of blurring the overall essence from focus. These were beers that were distinctly part of the livelihood from the houses in which they came. Farmers along the boarder of France and Belgium didn’t simply create these beverages because of the enjoyment that was had from the liquid but because the liquid was something that allowed for survival though the harsh seasons. If the local water wasn’t fit for consumption, heat and fermentation changed that, bottles of beer were now added to the list of provisional items such as meat, produce and cheese that helped give the family profits for the land. While it can be difficult to find the honesty that represents what a Saison was created from, there are a few remaining producers that still dedicate with an approach as it was in times past.

The Brasserie de Blaugies, located off a small road nearly directly where Belgium meets the boarder of France, might be the world’s most classic producers of the Farmhouse Saison. Run and operated completely by family members, the beers the Blaugies are created with a similar passion as those that came from the focused hands of generations past. Rustic and full of subtle tones, these are beers that are more about the soft moments of elegance in the finish than in the sharp slices of intensity. Their range is limited but highly dedicated, only five beers are made on a continual basis. The Saison d’Epeautre is not only a standout for the family but one that should be on the top lists for what a traditional Saison can be.

On to the Tasting Notes:

The name describes the large amounts of the ancient spelt grain that is used in the recipe. The spelt (Epeautre) was planted across the land hundred of years ago and would have been highly common in the classic Saison in rural Belgium. Once the beer’s cork is unleashed, enormous bubbles appear and creep up into the neck of the bottle before being transferred into an awaiting glass. The foam cascades and rests upon itself, dissolving with lingering arms of carbonation that clench onto the walls of the vessel. Earthy, dusty and full of honeyed aromas, the beer is expressive with yeasty notes and herbal tones. Not overly barnyard driven, the aroma is rather that of one experienced while smelling the fresh air within the meadows farm from any large city. Dandelions, hey bails, sun baked stones, wood and air cured meats are some of the images that keep coming to mind with further sniffs. The Epeautre expresses the qualities of the land from which it was created.

While the first taste is heavy with carbonation to the degree of it washing out the palate, those that are had mid way though the bottle engage the drinker with marvelous delight.  Highly drying and bold with nuances from the grassy hops, the beer is focused heavily on the flavor of the spelt grain and comforts to the degree that fresh hearth baked bread does. The Spelt shows its self with a warming energy of dried citrus and tree bark while a rounded fruit flavor not too far from poached pears and quince gives variation. Not at all candied or sweet, the remarkably dry finish quenches the thirst while leaving a deep desire for yet another sip. This is a beer that does not demand your attention; rather, it extends a hand and quietly asks for a shared moment. 

Food Pairing:
With a foot in the old world, this is a beverage that is happy to pair with simple picnic flavors just as it would with hearty stews and roasted game. The woody and dry flavors are just what washed rind cheeses need to be soothed and calmed. Their salty levels are softened and the palate is cleansed after each sip. Vegetables are all invited; spicy fresh radishes hit with a touch of lemon and smeared with butter is a treat that seems to stop time, lightly grilled spring onions tossed with fresh peas and mint (with optional ham…) is more than just a side and even the difficult asparagus would meet the rye like flavors of the spelt with a unique partnership. Game meats and offal are options though they will still be a bit bold, there is no sweetness in the beer to blind these flavors, this is a pairing for the dedicated. Simple roast chicken and rosemary potatoes would make for a tame but still insanely delicious variation. The joy is in the rustic.
Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: May
Hogan's Vintage Perry 2010
Regular Price: $7.99
Sale Price: $5.99
Sale End: 5/31/2013
ABV: 5.4
Hogan's Vintage Perry 2010

With an understanding of proper traditional English cider production, Hogan’s Ciders are created with a great appreciation of the land’s heritage while still allowing new approaches and equipment to help transfer the efforts to modern times. Located in the Malvern Hills only fruit hailing from the neighboring Herefordshire, Gloucestershire and Worcestershire are picked in the Autumn months and only their freshly pressed juices are used, no concentrates and no added sugars.

The special complexities that come from Vintage bottle offerings allow the consumer to get a glimpse of a single harvest’s worth of flavors. Pear ciders or Perry is made using the same steps as the standard apple cider. Highly tanninc and nearly inedible, but perfect for fermenting, the pear fruit has to be harvest by hand at just the right moment of near ripeness. The Vintage Perry bottles from Hogan’s celebrate the bounty that can arise when the elements align and allow us to taste the special qualities from year’s past.
On to the Tasting Notes:

The first punch of aroma is purely that of freshly sliced pears. Highly fragrant with a clean zestiness that pleases the senses and entice with a desire for the first sip. Slight pepper notes arise giving the impression of cinnamon and mace with just the right touch of candied orange rind to provide a welcoming and quite delightful aroma. The Perry continues to open as it sits and expands with a slight yeastiness that comes across as having pastry like accents. Not overly funky as some other rustic bottles can become, this is an elegant and graciously inviting bottle of honest Perry.

 

Crisp, sharp, direct and fully focused on the palate, Hogan’s Vintage Perry is citrus heavy without being tart. Long on the tooth with fruit but never feeling sweet or overly sugar laden. Green apple and under-ripe pear flavors are the most prevalent but attached are soft amounts of fresh herbs, tea and even wine like tannin. The grassy element of the Perry translates with an unbelievable refreshment factor while a flavor of toasted shortbread and baked scones arise with intriguing complexity. Even with a varying degree of contrasting flavors, the structure holds though and finishes bright and sparkly clean. Carbonation is light in appearance but stirs up when the liquid hits the mouth.  The bubbles add to the freshness and create an even higher degree of refreshment. 

Food Pairing:

The floral components of the Perry make it a wonderful spring weather option for picnics and light dishes. Given the natural ‘green’ flavor, salads with goat cheese, roast chicken and fresh peas or even a vibrant soup of fresh vegetables and tender potatoes. A large spread of cheeses would take well to both the acidity and the faint shortbread flavor of the Perry. Just about any range or style would fit in, even the accompanying fruit spreads and thick honeys that usually accent a proper cheese board. While dessert might be a bit rough if chocolates or butterscotch flavors were present, dairy based flans or custards and just about anything with Vanilla would be splendid with a chilled glass of Hogan’s Vintage Perry.  

Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: April
Het Anker Gouden Carolus Hopsinjoor
Regular Price: $11.99
Sale Price: $8.99
Sale End: 4/30/2013
ABV: 8
IBUs: 50
Beer Advocate: 90
Rate Beer: 97
Het Anker Gouden Carolus Hopsinjoor

Dedicated to upholding a proper example of what Belgian brewed beers are know to represent, the Het Anker brewery is one that continually holds it's stance as one of the best from overseas. Remaining steadfast while showcasing that 'Belgian Ales' are still some of the most creative and unique to be found today, the Gouden Carolus range of beers are familiar but still highly original.   While many have come to try and define each beer that crosses their path, Het Anker allows us to get a glimpse of what might be expected but still offering a sense of originality. Hopsinjoor is one such beer that at first glance might be thought of as one thing but with more time, the true qualities are then reviled.

Golden in color with a strong level of candied richness, the beer is one that stands out from the higher degree of noble hops that are added. Some could go as far as to call Hopsinjoor a 'Belgian IPA', the beer strikes a wonderful balance between lush fruit and herbal hop flavors. Intense carbonation gives away it's origin with rich aromas only solidifying just how iconic the beers of Belgium come off even with just a simple sniff. The lasting degree of bubbles are dense and hold upon the rim of the glass with a firm strength all the while the golden liquid settles beneath. Spring flowers and damp young foliage emerge, zesty fruit characteristics bring to mind lemon marmalade and stone fruit jams. Inviting with a lemon curd style of richness but still being defined from the iconic Belgian yeast. 
On to the Tasting Notes:
Textured on the palate with richness that coasts the entirety of the mouth. Pasty and buttered fresh bread, herbal and grainy with the slightest bit of spice arising and creating a memorable first sip. At both times the liquid comes across as delicate while still striving for an assertive direction of strength. Dried apple slices, floral cinnamon and clove, citrus rind and freshly crushed herbs integrate upon the tongue. The fruit continues to come across as slightly overripe with a delightful appeal of sweetness quickly being met by the hop's natural bitterness that holds out with significant strength and rounds out with a calming degree of dryness. Less resin and juicy grapefruit flavors but with more herb steams and alpine styled freshness. Hopsinjoor is delightfully expressive of uniqueness while still giving a range of flavors that are highly familiar.
Food Pairing:
A wonderful beer for brunch, the sweetened pastry flavors fit in line with berry rich coffee cake and rosemary spiced roasted potatoes. Egg sandwiches are easily combined with the beer's herbal notes and achieve a delightful contrast of flavors. Crab and shellfish can be heightened by the soft bitterness found in the beer with briny offerings bringing to mind a slight amount of tarragon and cracked pepper. The yeast characters that are so distinct would fit along side hardy bread and roasted lamb. Asparagus and leafy greens would make for a nice direction if looking to keep a pairing on the lighter side. Delightful and soothing, this is yet another winner from Het Anker.
Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: April
Kiuchi Brewery- Hitachino Nest White Ale
Regular Price: $5.99
Sale Price: $3.99
Sale End: 4/30/2013
ABV: 5
Beer Advocate: 92
Rate Beer: 90
Kiuchi Brewery- Hitachino Nest White Ale

The infamous owl beers of Hitachino Nest are increasingly in large demand with many American craft beer enthusiasts.  While the image is recognizable and easy to memorize, the real factor that captivates the attention of thirsty patrons is from the distinct liquid that is behind each label. The Hitachino Nest line of beers was established in 1996 out of the Kiuchi Brewery that was then only known for it’s Kikusakari Sake and Shochu. These new products easily fit into the brewery’s family as certain Sake production methods were also applied to the new beers. While barrel aging and experimental directions have been taken over the years, the iconic beer under the Hitachino Nest label is the simple White Ale.

The unfiltered liquid gives off a hazy golden color and quickly fills the room with delightful aromas of spice and freshly baked bread. Froth collects and settles at the top of the glass with a ring of crisp white bubbles. Fragrances of grated ginger, steamed basmati rice, sweetened quick breads; ground spices and citrus zest are intense with their presence. The pungency of the aromas entices the senses and helps wet the appetite for thirst. Yeasty phenols are expressive and give off a warming nutty element that only helps to align with the distinct characteristics that are contributed from the large amount of wheat used in the brewing process. While retaining the classic Belgian-Wit attributes, the beer emerges with a uniqueness that is both immensely delicious and delightfully captivating.
On to the Tasting Notes:

Wonderfully rounded and creamy on the palate from the first sip; a warming texture from the bubbles blanket across the tongue while the soft prickle of acidity cleans the mouth and leaves a soothing freshness. Pure flavors of oranges and tangerines, toasted grains and tart apples, concentrated but not at all rich, this is miles beyond anything that needs a wedge of citrus to be consumed. The beer’s weight is highly impressive. It feels as if the liquid gives one level of enjoyment while the actual flavor is from another origin all together. Lemongrass, nutmeg, cracked wheat cereal, chicken stock and umami are in heavy doses but at such a level that one can’t help but feel impressed.

There seems to be such a conviction with a beer of this nature. One is easily taken off guard from the limited amount of preparation that the retro label and simple name might suggest. The beer is complex, but not at the expense of easy refreshment though calming consumption. Bright and delightful, this is beer that showcases how important subtle nuances can be for defining the overall experience.
Food Pairing:


The culinary accents and comparisons that the beer contains allows for a welcoming ease for paring situations. Eggs will no longer be the odd item on the menu as the wheat foundation adds sharp notes to cut through the weight while the soft spicing echo the natural flavors of quiche or soufflé. Chicken would be another option, try it roasted atop a traditional Japanese noodle bowl and marvel at the energy that is shared between liquid and food. Briny oysters and succulent scallops would be a delight while slow braised pork belly would offer a sensation that is not easy to replicate. Highly food friendly.

Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: March
Full Sail Top Sail Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Porter
Regular Price: $11.99
Sale Price: $9.99
Sale End: 3/31/2013
ABV: 9.5
IBUs: 65
Rate Beer: 99
Full Sail Top Sail Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Porter

With a focus on specialized styles of a more indulgent nature, the Brewmaster's Reserve line up of beers is Full Sail's way to give the real beer obsessed a little something that they desire. Copious amounts of hops, larger levels of alcohol, oak barrels, all things that give the brewers some time to break free from the standards that go with making their flagship; Session Lager. One of the main standouts from the series is a massive barrel aged Imperial Porter, which unlike many other offerings from other breweries, can be found with relative ease. First brewed in 2009, Top Sail took many by surprise, as this was an offering not usually associated with what Full Sail has been known to do in the past.

On to the Tasting Notes:

Aged for a full year in a variety of Kentucky Bourbon and whiskey barrels, Top Sail is made for those that need an extra punch contributed from the oak. Opening with an aroma that is unmistakable for those familiar with barrel aged beers; maple covered oak, rich chocolate, freshly ground spices and dried fruits. The Porter's toasted grain qualities merged with the charred nature contributed from the barrels and have generated a distinctive range of aromas. Slight coconut richness, powerful black pepper and cocoa powder notes and a wonderful level of tobacco that follows though with presence. The beer is thick and very dark and yet the fury of bubbles help lighten the weight once the liquid finally hits the tongue.

The first sip is a shot of intensity, peppery and upfront with lingering smoke qualities that are bridged with soft flavors of plums and raspberries. Chocolate covered cherries and malted shakes come to mind upfront then the warming sensation from the whiskey builds up and follows into the very dry finish. Massive bittersweet cocoa flavors last until the next sip brings back the mocha and coffee cake notes making this a big beer that offers a pleasant series of contracting experiences. The bourbon might not be for everyone’s palate but there have been many whiskey sippers turned avid beer drinkers that found salvation in a glass of barrel-aged beverage just as this one. 

Food Pairing:

While the beer is dark and very coffee forward, don’t let this one be limited to sweet cakes and after dinner treats. While it would lend itself very well to tiramisu (even if used to make the batter), the beer has a very intriguing dark cherry flavor that would speak volumes if enjoyed with red meat. Grilled beef would pickup charred flavors and natural smoke element that would naturally infuse well with the shared contributions from the beer. Anything high in salt, salamis and very dried Gouda styled cheese, would sooth the sharp notes of the beer and bring out the milk chocolate subtleties. For a vegetarian dish, the bitterness from kale and other leafy greens would be well suited if braised down and enjoyed with a splash of lemon, some hearty bread and a well poached egg. 

Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: February
Elevation Señorita Imperial Porter
Regular Price: $11.49
Sale Price: $9.49
Sale End: 3/3/2013
ABV: 8.4
IBUs: 35
Elevation Señorita Imperial Porter

The newest addition to Elevation’s ‘Black Diamond’ series of beers comes in the form of an Imperial Porter named Señorita that has been created to mimic the flavors of the highly delicious Horchata drink. This classic drink was originally brought over from Spain with its history going deep into the culture. The drink was carried across Mexico and Latin America where it branched off into different regional styles. These days Horchata is so common that it can be found in many forms across the southern American states. The variations are endless with spices, nuts, seeds and sugars being used interchangeably. Even as different as each offering can be, they still retain the simple pleasure of pure refreshment. 

On to the Tasting Notes:

The version that Elevation has chosen to represent is highly aromatic with cinnamon and nutmeg spices, delightful with vanilla smooth on the finish with a lingering milky richness. Señorita welcomes with bold aromas of toasted coconut, Chai tea and a lingering chocolate quality that brings to mind the sweetened churros treat. The cinnamon and vanilla are wonderfully upfront and leave a wafting heady intensity with each whiff. The beer’s base style can still be felt as both roasted elements and herbal hops come out and work with the other added ingredients to make Señorita a very distinct beverage.


The intensity of the spicing isn't as pronounced once the beer hits the palate. Tight rounds of carbonation give a creamy texture once the beer slides on the tongue. Cocoa powder and spiced coffee emerge upon the obvious cinnamon and mace like flavors. The mid-palate is fully engaged with milk chocolate and hazelnuts while a soft vanilla presence is felt on the exhale. The more one drinks, the more the spicing is subdued and the vanilla emerges with a wafting elegance. As was apparent on the nose, the Porter's roasted backbone lingers through each flavor and gives a great middle ground after each sensation. Intriguing and mystifying, each sip leaves one with a desire for more.

Food Pairing:

The bold spiced edge of Señorita allows for the big flavors of a variety of foods. The easy classic would include a heavily pan seared steak and rich Bérnaise sauce, while mussels and sea food stews would make for a more adventitious pairing. Chili con carne would be able to meet the spice levels and further allows the roasted and chocolate flavors of the porter to take center stage. Foods with decent acidity such as vinegar based sauces and braised greens with lemon and even an earthy molé would make for a unique experience and one where the high notes should balance nicely. Sweet foods, rice pudding, flan and other dairy based dishes will naturally link up with the beer's milk sugar flavors. The combo of chocolate with chili heat easily links up with Senorita's comparable hint of spice makes this one of those indulgent sensations that might be a bit too difficult to resist in small amounts. Señorita is one fine beverage. 


Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: February
New Belgium/Brewery Vivant Biere de Garde
Regular Price: $9.99
Sale Price: $6.99
Sale End: 2/28/2013
ABV: 9
New Belgium/Brewery Vivant Biere de Garde

Created as a way to materialize bold thoughts and hopeful moments of wondering minds, the Lips of Faith collection of beers is New Belgium’s outlet for the experimental. Sometimes hauntingly thought provoking but still satisfyingly delicious, the many releases that have shared the title of Lips of Faith are widely varied but equally engaging with a purity of originality. With energetic focus to continually grow from a basis of knowledge, New Belgium has begun to collaborate with other breweries, many of which are quite difficult to find even within their own states of distribution, but equally share a vision for the uncharted.

The Brewery Vivant is a very recent addition to Michigan’s already impressive beer scene. Focusing on the rustic styles of Northern France/Southern Belgium, it didn’t take long for many enthusiasts to fall under the spell of their wonderful beers. The folks at New Belgium were so interested that they quickly agreed to brew a few collaborative beers with this striking new brewery. Biere de Garde is not the first meeting for these two (Vivant hosted the New Belgium crew and created a canned beer named Escoffier, Bretta Beer. Brett beer in a can… let’s hope it is not the last.), but is the first and possibly only time that we will see anything from Vivant in the state of Colorado.

The undervalued French beer style known as Biere de Garde is on rise both domestically and from across the pond. Always living in the shadow of the very similar Belgian Saison, Biere de Garde is simply a further extension of the European Farmhouse Ale. Many modern breweries are trying to bring attention back to this dwindling style and the New Belgium/Vivant Biere de Garde is simply one of the finest interpretations to be found.

On to the Tasting Notes:

The beer is expressive from the moment the cap is pried off. Herbal aromas jump out of the bottle and fill the surrounding area with rustic qualities of hay and damp lumber. Juniper and lemon verbena, fresh tarragon and aloe, hearth baked bread and a touch of chicken stock. This is a culinary pantry concentrated into liquid form, and it entices with an honest gusto. The fragrant aromas are varied but wonderfully welcoming and create the perfect set up for the beer’s actual flavor.

 

Biere de Garde is brewed using Bergamot oranges and while there were citrus aromas to be had, the real experience come forward with the first sip. Juicy orange freshness and ripe fruit sweetness hits the tongue with a remarkable energy. The beer slides over the palate and brings to mind wheat grains and marmalade with a hint of honey and sweet breakfast rolls hit with a dusting of zested orange rind. Pepper notes emerge from beneath the richness and bring a balance to the whirlwind of flavors. Waves of earth driven yeasty notes linger on after the beer disappears and leaves a sensation that makes one’s head nod with happiness.
Food Pairing:

With the intense aromatics and fragrant fruit like flavors, Biere de Garde is a beer that really comes into it’s own when had alongside a plate of food. Spiced Thai dishes with coconut and lime leaf will sway and mingle along with the beer’s bold citrus notes. Chili’s punch of heat would be tapered off from the baked fruit like sweetness of the beer. Any thing that picks up color from the oven or the stovetop will echo its flavor when matched with the beer. Root vegetables will also be elevated as the star of a meal when they are brought to life by the grainy and earthy tones. It goes without saying that this is one magical beer for cheeses. Don’t be tame; the scariest looking creations will taste joyful when had next to the New Belgium/Brewery Vivant Biere de Garde.

Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: February
Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck: St. Louis Framboise
Regular Price: $7.99
Sale Price: $6.49
Sale End: 2/14/2013
ABV: 4.5
Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck: St. Louis Framboise

While fruit beers may have a following with most average American drinkers, they don’t carry much weight with the consumers of real ales and craft beers. The sad example of the highly popularized ‘fruited Lambic’ is one that defies the history from which the actual style is born from. The colors and flavors are essentially synthetic by way of the heavy dose of artificial sugars and fake fruit syrups that make the beers shockingly sweet and off putting in a way that borders on medicinal. These beers don’t do the style justice but they are not the only options for something with a fruit kick that is still drinkable.


Fruit and Lambic have gone together for decades. Many patrons within Belgium were able to have the option of drinking a Lambic that was doused with fruit to cut down on the high level of acidity that is natural for the beverage. While all traditional Lambics are born from a spontaneous fermentation, the flavors are highly varied and can sometimes be a bit brash for some that want a more casual sort of drink. The traditions have changed over the years and the focus on sweet fruit flavors now outshines the balancing act that was once present. Luckily, there are still producers of fruited Lambic that use real ingredients for their beers.


The Van Honsebrouck Brewery is a producer of traditional Lambics and even has a Gueuze bottling that gets the job done when the craving hits but no Cantillon or Girardin is around to satisfy. Their Fruited offerings under the St. Louis label are created from the addition of actual fruit purees with no artificial sugars or colors ever used in the process. The St. Louis Framboise is a beer that best achieves the flavor of real raspberries without too much of a cloying sugar flavor to steal the show. While many might still desire a higher amount of Lambic depth to shine though, this bottle should be seen as a stepping stone of an option. Drie Fonteinen’s Framboos and Hommage are bottles that we graduate to, this is something to give a more playful and casual sort of experience.
On to the Tasting Notes:

The beer pours with a rosey color and holds a tight head that is the slightest tone of pink in appearance. Raspberry and strawberry jam is brought to mind with first sniff. Some hibiscus and smoke are apparent, but not overly bold. There is a twang of earthy subtleties beneath the richness of the fruit, a glimpse of the beer’s beginnings of the Lambic base. Slight bready and welcoming, this is a beer that offers a cherry pie of aromas with open arms.


The first flavor is a sharp zip of tartness and one that comes with a blast of raspberry intensity. The flavor is striking without being overly candy forward. Hitting just the right sweet spot of flavors, St. Louis Framboise is full of fruit while still being pleasant as beer for long sipping. The sharpness of acidity actually over takes the semi-sweet fruit levels and leaves the mouth with a pucker that desires another sip to fulfill the sensation. Bright and floral, this is a great beverage to begin an evening or finish it off in comfortable company. Quite a nice option for a Valentine’s celebration….

Food Pairing:

This is one of the more easy food beers as both the fruit and the tart flavors will be that much more interesting with contrasting flavors. Nearly all styles of cheeses would be appropriate; crumbly fresh chèvre brings a similar citrus pucker, triple crème’s richness would be cut from the tartness, the nutty and sharp flavors of aged sheep’s milk would find comfort with the fruit acting as a delightful contrast, blue cheese would be met on the intensity level as the brightness of the beer would tone things down. The beer acts as a natural sort of condiment and easily washes away each bite and prepares the palate for a new sensation. Highly vegetal and overly funky aged expressions might hiccup a bit if pared, think easy on this one. Dessert is on everyone’s mind, strawberry shortcake and cupcakes is the simple offering, chocolates and truffles being a classic offering while coconut laced sweet rice being a great option without too much sugar. Love is in the air.

Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: January
Brasserie de l’Abbaye des Rocs Grand Cru
Regular Price: $10.99
Sale Price: $8.99
Sale End: 1/31/2013
ABV: 9.5
Beer Advocate: 94
Rate Beer: 100
Brasserie de l’Abbaye des Rocs Grand Cru

The range of unique beers brewed in Belgium is staggering to say the least. Some create their own versions and representations of styles that sometimes cannot be easily categorized. It is easy to see how enthusiasts dedicate their lifestyles to focusing on beers of such uniqueness. Some have committed decades of their lives drinking through the classics and yet still have moments that are fresh and new. Even as some age, their characteristics evolve and change into am experience all its own. Whether it is a monk’s dedication, a farmer’s use of his land and its origins or a simple brewer who evokes the passion that is part of creating such fine products, the beers of Belgium are some of the world’s finest for a reason.

The Brasserie de l’Abbaye des Rocs is a relatively modern establishment if compared to the age of some neighboring breweries. Built in 1979, the brewery has been producing fine quality beers that are similar in style and just as well made as those coming from any of the Trappiest breweries. Brewed without the use of excess sugars or preservatives, des Rocs ales are also bottled unfiltered to retain their upmost integrity. Full of character and charm, each beer from des Rocs showcase the honest approach from this simple, rural brewery.

On to the Tasting Notes:

The des Rocs Grand Cru is the most special offering that the brewery has in their catalogue. Once the cap is pried off, the energy of the beer immediately rises up and nearly out of the bottle. Big frothy bubbles fill the awaiting glass and settle upon the liquid with tight carbonation. Highly floral with a distinct fruity aroma of dried cherries, plums, sweet grapes and brown sugar. Sugar is apparent but not as maple laden or rock candy heavy as other similar examples come off. Belgian yeast is apparent and gives away the beer’s origin upon first whiff. There is something special about the distinct yeast strains that these breweries use. The aromas are indulgent for sure but at a level to be highly inviting.

The first sip simply floats across the palate due to the large amount of bubbles that were obvious from the initial pour. Honey and hazelnuts are first tasted that give way to a darkened almost toasty edge of bitterness that translates into a milk chocolate like flavor at the end. Deep and long on the tongue, the beer’s texture is full and rich but not feeling sticky or heavy.  Caramel and dark honey is tasted but becomes lifted up by a sudden cherry flavor that emerges and finishes the beer with a delicate finish of lingering fruit. Hints of cappuccino and even Nutella give roundness to the slight tartness and flavors of yeast. Wonderfully complex but soft around the edges, this is a memorable beer for all those interested in the world of Belgian beers.

Food Pairing:

With the dark fruit flavors and the bold level of carbonation, des Rocs Grand Cru would fit alongside a variety of meats. Game foods such as venison and grouse would pull out the cherry notes with classic horseradish roast beef sandwiches giving a savory and spice combo to balance the sweet flavors. Triple cream and other richly textured cheeses are perfect to allow the richness of the beer to fully come out. Spiced cakes and cookies or even chocolate desserts will give way to the full intensity that the des Rocs Grand Cru is capable of.

Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: January
Brauerei Heller- Trum Aecht Schlenkerla Oak Smoke Doppelbock
Regular Price: $5.99
Sale Price: $4.99
Sale End: 1/31/2013
ABV: 8
IBUs: 40
Beer Advocate: 91
Rate Beer: 99
Brauerei Heller- Trum Aecht Schlenkerla Oak Smoke Doppelbock

The history of beer is a varied and immensely complex tale that represents fundamental human ingenuity through a connection to the elements while maintaining a focus of the community with their shared ideals being kept at the forefront. What we know as the ‘pub’ today might look a bit different than the ones that were popular hundreds of years ago but the merry sense of a shared drink is deeply rooted in our history as a society. Many of the old breweries were created as a way to utilize a local source of water, a field of wild hop plants or a crop of barley and these aspects helped unite the locals of a small area.

The majority of today’s beer is brewed under a focus on cleanliness and sterilization that unquestionably creates a product that is more focused and balanced than ever before. With that in mind, there are still a few remaining examples that have not changed over the years, and if done so, would kill the soul in which they were created from. The spontaneous Lambics of Belgium, the rustic and wild farmhouse ales near the boarder of northern France, the classic English ales that are still fermented in stone squares and the pungent smoked beers of southern Germany.

The southern German town of Bamberg is famous for the style of smoked beers called: ‘Rauchbiers’. Generations ago, this is how most all beer would have tasted as the barley was dried over a fire fueled by local wood that contributed it’s own flavor and distinct qualities. The beers of Bamberg would traditionally be made using wood that was prevalent within the local forests that surrounded the town. While there are just over 70,000 residents in the area of Bamberg, there are 10 breweries that all focus on variations of this highly original style.

Possibly the most famous of all these breweries is the legendary Heller- Trum brewery. More commonly called: Aecht Schlenkerla, this brewery dates back as far as 1678 and is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Schlenkerla term refers to someone who walks with a limp or handicap and is a direct reference to an energetic owner in 1877. The beers of the Schlenkerla are primarily brewed using beech wood as the source of fuel, however, there is one special holiday beer that gains it’s smoked flavors from high quality oak.
On to the Tasting Notes:

The Schlenkerla Oak Smoke is a Doppelbock in style and one recipe in which is only brewed for the winter months. Pleasantly smoke forward, think honey baked ham, the beer erupts from the bottle with a distinct aroma that completely takes over the senses. While the Doppelbock style suggests a slight fruit element, there is no mistaking the distinct qualities of smoked wood and distant campfire. The element is pungent but it is in no way offensive or harshly intense. Heavily burnt sugars, hearth baked bread, dates and even a note of soy sauce are all in alliance upon the aroma. The color is a deep mahogany if teetering on a tone of dirty brown. Carbonation is fluffy and helps elevate the flavor of smoke and leather across the entire palate.

While the nose was filled with smoky comparisons, the first sip is actually full of dark fruit and salted caramel. Dried fruits and poached apples are first, black peppercorns and smoked almonds follow and then just as one is ready to swallow, the smoked backbone of the beer fills in the end of the flavor. Heady and almost sweet, the smoke has an enticing flavor of meat; it is as much steak au poive as it is grilled pork belly. Savory throughout, the Doppelbock shows itself more as the beer sits and one acclimates with the overall flavors. The smoke dissipates with time allowing subtle flavors from both the oak and the malt itself to come though. Sip after sip, it hits an addictive nerve the same way that rich chocolate or caramel corn does. Majestic and quite magical, this is one of the few beers that can take you back to a different time while still fulfilling all the same.

Food Pairing:
There simply is not a better combo to be found in the food and beverage pairing world than a Rauchbier and well made BBQ. The sticky and slathered meat meets with the soft sugars of the beer while focusing on the shared qualities of charred wood all work in creating a unison that is spellbinding. Pork or beef, deep rings of smoke or a long braise, it wouldn't change the principles of where they are founded. Vegetarians not fear! This beer takes the caramelized flavors of Thai dishes, Chinese glazed vegetables and Japanese Miso based foods with grace and delight. Either to bring out the smoked qualities or focus on the sweeter notes of the base style, the combinations are almost without limits. Dark chocolates, ripe black cherries or spiced cookies, this is one of the most varied beverages to use for ultimate food partnership.
Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: December
Bear Republic Hop Rod Rye Double IPA
Regular Price: $4.99
Sale Price: $3.99
Sale End: 12/31/2012
ABV: 8
IBUs: 80
Beer Advocate: 95
Rate Beer: 100
Bear Republic Hop Rod Rye Double IPA

Bear Republic’s exuberant passion for all things hoppy is matched only by their dedication for the thrill of auto racing. High speeds and loads of fuel seem to be a good place to begin. Each new beer gives a hint as to the minds that are behind the creation. Racer 5’s long flavor of bright hops, Hop Rod Rye’s lingering spice notes and Red Rocket’s rich malt body are some of the best values to be found in the current beer market. For the month of December, we at Mile High Wine and Spirits will showcase all three beers as a way of celebrating the range and style from this great modern hoppy producer.

 

The town of Healdsburg in the Sonoma area of California is one of America’s premiere wine focused areas. As a meeting point for three of the most highly recognized wine regions, it might come as a surprise to some that a brewery is located in the heart of it all. Bear Republic understands the land and proudly stands as one of the few great breweries thriving within wine country. There must be something in the water that sends a beckoning for the hops as Bear Republic’s close neighbor’s down highway 101 are Russian River and Lagunitas. Sonoma doesn’t just stand for great American wine; the beer scene is quite impressive as well.

 

Hop Rod Rye                       

 

Creating new recipes as a brewer is similar to that of how a baker or chef might approach the task. With proper technique being a fundamental, the option for disassembling a method and rebuilding with a different approach can then become a reality. Beer will always be a creation that results when the combination of Yeast, Hops, Water and Grain are merged. These four elements can be defined and elaborated on with nearly endless combinations. The grains used can make the difference between a simple Pale Ale and that of a complex Stout. Just the way that bread is created, the right ratios make a world of difference.

 

Rye is a grain that has taken off in the brewing world as it gives unique accents to beers while adding texture and aroma. Similar to how wheat creates a smooth mouth feel and distinct fragrances, rye is quickly gaining steam with many being taken under by the spicy qualities of this difficult grain. Bear Republic’s Hop Rod Rye is one of the most recognize American made beers that showcases the memorable flavors of rye and goes to show just how well they combine with the qualities that can only come from large doses of floral hops
On to the Tasting Notes:

The color is a darkened copper tone, one that fills that glass and catches the eye even under poorly lit circumstances.  The expressive rye characteristics are unmistakable; warm baked bread, toasted grain, freshly ground spices and even a hint of dried apricots. Oranges and a bit of rosemary stems are even apparent as the hops begin to show themselves. The distinction from the rye shows on the nose and give a proper introduction as to what is experienced on first sip.

 

The beer hits the palate with a sharp perk of spice but doesn’t seek and destroy with rough intensity. Grainy and yet discreet with a floral perk; the beer unloads the true richness of the recipe without overwhelming the taste buds. The flavor is full of grassy moments that mingle with citrus flavors; grains of paradise along with caraway merge into a black tea sort of flavor that finishes with the slightest hint of agave. The hops are bold but the weight of the body unites into the bitterness to give a tasteful balance. As varied as the flavor is, there is no mistaking the level of deliciousness though the intensity. Almost concentrated, the beer lingers with a fruit leather sort of grip that is pleasant while still retaining strength of character. Big and not to be forgotten, this is a beverage that can take the heat and fend for itself.

 

Just as to be expected, spicy flavors from both the grain and the hops prickle on the tongue giving a shock to the taste buds that is pleasantly intense. Tart citrus fruit, smoked almonds, pumpernickel, allspice and fresh mangoes focus on the palate. The seamless hoppy/rye combo work wonderfully well together and allow for the rather high abv malt level of sweetness to go by unnoticed. An imperial IPA with a difference, the darkened edge and rather sharp mouth feel for the style are a welcomed change from many others within the category.  

Food Pairing:

With the subtle note of sweetness against the spicy rye heat, this beer will be great alongside most roasted meats. Hams sticky with their glaze, standing rib roast with all the fixings and even lamb will all be paired skillfully well with the bold flavors of the grain and hops. Glazed vegetables with rich butter and a douse of garlic would also be nice with the pungent flavors of the beer.  Both rich cheese and those with heavy savory flavors would contrast well with a chilled glass of Hop Rod Rye. 

Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: December
Samuel Smith's Organic Chocolate Stout
Regular Price: $3.99
Sale Price: $2.99
Sale End: 12/31/2012
ABV: 5
Beer Advocate: 91
Rate Beer: 96
Samuel Smith's Organic Chocolate Stout

Leave it to the legendary Samuel Smith Brewery to continually find ways to evolve their range of beers while still adhering to classic principals that define their name. The lineup of beers from the Samuel Smith Brewery is regarded as some of the finest examples to represent traditional English beer culture. Water is still used from a local well, fermentation takes place in slate vessels called “stone Yorkshire squares” and the desire to uphold the standard of only using the finest ingredients are still in place today. The past few years have given a rise in a larger selection of beers that are highlighted by organic fruit juices. This range of beers began the desire to create a category of beverages that were born from 100% certified organic ingredients.  Pride and interest for the future are qualities that make up the foundation in which the minds at Samuel Smith rest upon.


With four fruit flavors already established (Cherry, Strawberry, Raspberry, and Apricot), the next in the lineup is one that nearly all can agree upon: Chocolate. Taking what many already hold dear by way of the English Stout and adding organically sourced Cocoa, it is simply a marriage that is seamless without boarding on redundant. Roasted chocolate malt merge with the cocoa and creates a flavor that has less to do with a simple marketing gimmick and more to do with the wonderful ingredients that make up the beer.

On to the Tasting Notes:

Pouring with a tightly range of bubbles and a head that rises well to the top of the glass, this is one energetic beer. The first aroma is purely that of a malted milk shake. The presence of cocoa powder is undeniable and with multiple whiffs, images of brownies and snicker doodle cookies are envisioned. The sweetened aromas are backed by a faint mocha presence that rounds out and prepares one for their first sip.


Where sugar dusted pastries and cocoa doused hot chocolate were found on the aroma, the flavor is actually quite a contrast. The well water used in the brewing process can be felt on the palate as the liquid is direct without having any degree of cloying heft. Milk chocolate, fudge, coconuts and banana bread are present while the soft mineral contributions from the water give the beer a delightful lightness. The texture is smooth and almost creamy on it’s way down. Easy to drink in a simplistic sort of manner, not overly roasted nor too rich. With a direct sort of approach, this is a beer for those who enjoy a pint of Guinness or Nitro Milk Stout and should have no problem to happily take down with ease.

Food Pairing:

The contribution of cocoa on the palate sets this in the direction of dessert but the light finish allows the thought of savory dishes. Steak and chips would be a classic and easy partnership; the salt from the potatoes will find the mocha flavors in a delightful combo. Red meat will pull out the rounded mineral qualities and the depth of the stout body will stand up on their own. Truffles and high cocoa content chocolates are sure fits as their similar flavors match nicely. Bitter flavors would actually work well against the soft sweetness from the stout body. With the variety at hand and, this might be one of those bottles that should always be waiting and ready in the fridge.

Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: December
Bear Republic Red Rocket Ale
Regular Price: $4.99
Sale Price: $3.99
Sale End: 12/31/2012
ABV: 6.8
IBUs: 67
Beer Advocate: 91
Rate Beer: 98
Bear Republic Red Rocket Ale

Bear Republic’s exuberant passion for all things hoppy is matched only by their dedication for the thrill of auto racing. High speeds and loads of fuel seem to be a good place to begin. Each new beer gives a hint as to the minds that are behind the creation. Racer 5’s long flavor of bright hops, Hop Rod Rye’s lingering spice notes and Red Rocket’s rich malt body are some of the best values to be found in the current beer market. For the month of December, we at Mile High Wine and Spirits will showcase all three beers as a way of celebrating the range and style from this great modern hoppy producer.

The town of Healdsburg in the Sonoma area of California is one of America’s premiere wine focused areas. As a meeting point for three of the most highly recognized wine regions, it might come as a surprise to some that a brewery is located in the heart of it all. Bear Republic understands the land and proudly stands as one of the few great breweries thriving within wine country. There must be something in the water that sends a beckoning for the hops as Bear Republic’s close neighbor’s down highway 101 are Russian River and Lagunitas. Sonoma doesn’t just stand for great American wine; the beer scene is quite impressive as well.

Red Rocket                       

Born from the mind of an avid home brewer who was excited to push the style guidelines until they blurred, Red Rocket is an accumulation of interest that have merged into a unique hybrid of a beer. Malt forward and displaying a color of dark crimson that is full of a blatant hop aroma and caramel fragrance that seem a little uneasy as they both represent an IPA as much as they do an old ale. Sweetened candy aromas come out as the beer sits but come off as enticing with a note of anise to give depth without becoming too distracting. It’s interesting to draw comparisons to other styles with the copper notes and citrus edges giving a display of irreplaceable qualities that is quite interesting.

On to the Tasting Notes:

Pine and toffee are the first flavors to engage the palate; an herbal edge gives way to the bold hops that are apparent while still allowing the distinct grain and sweetened nature of the beer to be tasted. While leaning in the direction of non-traditional, all is forgiven as the combination of Scotch ale like smoke and hoppy red ale zestiness merge and creates an experience that is distinct while still being satisfying.

With a dry texture and a lingering richness, Red Rocket is a bold beer but one that comes with a level of delight. The bitter/sweetened combo play well off of each other and creates a sense of balance even while having a fairly intense flavor. Toasted spices, sun dried tomatoes and oranges show themselves as one drinks deeper into the glass. Thyme and mint from the hops linger long on the palate with just the slightest hint of dates coming to rise. Very dry on the finish, Red Rocket is hard to peg as a defined style but the range of flavors allow the uniqueness to pass without question.
Food Pairing:
The pine and blatant hop levels bring to mind foods with a good punch of spice. The sweetened undertones will only help carry these foods that much further. Indian dishes would be the most exciting as they have both cooling and fire starting effects. BBQ with large levels of smoke and a bit of sweetness could make for one smile filled meal. Fish might be a little light unless it’s a tuna or salmon focused plate. Niçoise salad with briny olives, salty anchovies, peppery bites and a big piece of rustic bread would actually give good justice to the range of Red Rocket. Anything that might have a good salty intensity would be a great option to pair along side a beer this varied.
Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: December
Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA
Regular Price: $4.99
Sale Price: $3.99
Sale End: 12/31/2012
ABV: 7
IBUs: 70
Beer Advocate: 94
Rate Beer: 99
Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA

Bear Republic’s exuberant passion for all things hoppy is matched only by their dedication for the thrill of auto racing. High speeds and loads of fuel seem to be a good place to begin. Each new beer gives a hint as to the minds that are behind the creation. Racer 5’s long flavor of bright hops, Hop Rod Rye’s lingering spice notes and Red Rocket’s rich malt body are some of the best values to be found in the current beer market. For the month of December, we at Mile High Wine and Spirits will showcase all three beers as a way of celebrating the range and style from this great modern hoppy producer.

The town of Healdsburg in the Sonoma area of California is one of America’s premiere wine focused areas. As a meeting point for three of the most highly recognized wine regions, it might come as a surprise to some that a brewery is located in the heart of it all. Bear Republic understands the land and proudly stands as one of the few great breweries thriving within wine country. There must be something in the water that sends a beckoning for the hops as Bear Republic’s close neighbor’s down highway 101 are Russian River and Lagunitas. Sonoma doesn’t just stand for great American wine; the beer scene is quite impressive as well.

On to the Tasting Notes:

With a quickness on it’s feet, Racer 5 is an IPA that might defy what many have come to expect from a California raised India Pale Ale. Rather than striking with too much bitterness, this IPA is a smooth and graceful beer that has a lovely length of rounded flavors. Tangerines and sweet citrus jump from the glass, a delicate hazelnut aroma blooms, as the distinct American hop zestiness is made apparent. Freshness is the first word that comes to mind; this smells like a proper American IPA should! A beer to kick back with and to engage while a daunting task is at hand. Racer 5 is quick to captivate but as that happens, is also quickly consumed.

Flavors of tropical fruits are tasted but not of the typical mango/grapefruit style. Plantains caramelized with a touch of richness from added butter, bitterness from the hops are found at the midpalate and continue into the dry finish. Oranges are hinted at but don’t come off as being juicy. Proper bottle conditioning give a great texture from the tight carbonation of bubbles and actually helps retain the floral qualities of the hops. The high level of Chinook, Cascade, Columbus and Centennial hops used make for a wonderful marriage and come across as welcoming. Racer 5 is neither overly extracted nor too bitter; it instead offers one of the best domestic experiences with an American IPA that can be enjoyed in large amounts.

Food Pairing:

The lighter bodied nature of Racer 5 makes it a great beer to start the evening with. A glass full of this IPA will quench any degree of thirst while still retaining a degree of character if a bit on the bold side. Appetizer based foods, both dairy based and from the sea, are to be highly enjoyed. Hops give that typical punch of fruit and could easily side with both smoked trout and goat cheese. Simple burgers for a mid-week meal and a bottle of Racer 5 showcases just how nice a chilled glass of beer with some charred meat can get. Don’t over think the applications, this is a beer to sip while you sauté as well as take to the table and continue to drink through the efforts of drying dishes. Kick back, an IPA is there to help. 

Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: November
Brouwerij Het Anker Gouden Carolus Tripel
Regular Price: $11.99
Sale Price: $8.99
Sale End: 11/30/2012
ABV: 9
Beer Advocate: 92
Rate Beer: 98
Brouwerij Het Anker Gouden Carolus Tripel

The Belgian Tripel is one of the most highly categorized and still slightly misunderstood of all beer styles. While the name might be easy to recognize, the few details that make up the style are highly important and often overlooked. The name does not indicate that the beer has gone through three fermentations, instead, the Tripel wording came as a way of indicating a beer of triple strength. While originating from within the walls of Trappist breweries, the tales of the Tripel as being a reference to the holy trinity is simply an unconfirmed coincidence. While the alcohol range of other Trappist born styles might give evidence to this theory (3% for Single, 6% for Dubbel, 9% for Tripel), the alcohol isn’t the main defining factor when labeling this bold style.


Sugars are used in the brewing process as a way of bumping the alcohol and giving a caramelized edge of flavor that many modern Tripels share. Hops are more abundant that those found in a Belgian-Golden Ale but aren’t perceived as strongly as the sugar levels are much higher to act as a counterbalance to the bitterness. Spices are common but not always needed as the particular yeast strain can give off aromas and flavors not far from pepper and toasted cardamom. Carbonation is always high, but most Belgian beers styles are, and give life to the dense and concentrated liquid. Far and wide, the Tripel is one of the best examples for a ‘classic’ Belgian style and yet, it seems each producer does things a touch different.


One such example is the Tripel ale coming from the Het Anker Brewery that is bottled under their Gouden Carolus title. Het Anker is located in the town of Mechelen that is situated in between Brussels and Antwerp. The grounds in which the current operations reside can trace it’s brewing roots as far back as 1369 where the original purpose was to be used as a brewery for the archbishop’s palace. Distinct and flavorful beers have been brewed on this location for hundreds of years and it goes without saying that the Gouden Carolus range are some of the most celebrated and downright delicious of any being brewed in Belgium.

On to the Tasting Notes:

The Gouden Carolus Tripel is a softer, almost lighter version of what is more commonly found coming from Belgium. Frothy and full of large white bubbles, the beer pours out of the bottle with a lively energy and a quite appropriate hue of golden color. Lacing in the glass is thick and indicates the perfection that can happen with a proper bottle conditioned beer. Simply put, this is a beautiful beverage to admire.


Ripe fruit aromas of blood oranges and sweet grapefruit burst out of the glass, a simple but very distinct candied citrus high note rounds things up and give away the beer’s level of sugar. Some herbal notes of lavender and sage add an interesting level of earthiness upon the almost cream sickle like sweet notes. Texture-wise, the Gouden Triple has more of a prickle and spice than other examples from Westmalle or La Trappe. While not overly decadent, the weight is still on the heavier scale of the spectrum.


The candy and citrus come together on the palate in a display of concentrated variety. Notes of yeast and some spice continue all the way though till the finish of honeyed biscuits and crème anglaise.  Kiwi fruit is hinted at on the mid palate with a prominent flavor of citrus that seems to be the main composition of the beer. The herbal and botanical range of orange liquor is brought to mind in a display of highly unique brightness. Sweetness doesn’t take the entire spotlight but does come through with enough energy to grab a great deal of attention. Hops play in line with the bitter orange peel flavors but are also contributors to the dried herbal flavor and lingering woodiness. Quite a focused beer and one that represents what this style can be while still taking enough of a deviation to be considered a memorable standout.

Food Pairing:

With just enough sweetness to balance highly flavorful foods, the Gouden Carolus Tripel would accompany game birds such as pheasant and quail. The candied fruit flavors are great matches to the natural richness of duck while not cloying the palate down and diminishing the essence of the dish. Thai foods, exuberant with herbs and coconut flavors would play out with a highly interactive flavor range. Even strong briny sea driven foods like shellfish and calamari can have their day as they would easily mingle with the beer’s bubbles and be soothed by the soft zesty flavors of the hops. 

Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: November
Henny's Cider Company Vintage 2010
Regular Price: $6.99
Sale Price: $4.99
Sale End: 11/30/2012
ABV: 6.5
Henny's Cider Company Vintage 2010

The low lying light from an early setting sun strikes across the fragile leaves, some of which hang delicately from mangled branches while others are scattered across the ground in a display that fully exhibits the reality of one season’s transition into another. Fall can sometimes be a long moment of build up that is quickly deflated from the strong grip of an early frost or the weight of a heavy snow. Other years, where the daily vibrancy of pure colors are outlined across the timid tone of the sky and the cool air instigates a desire for heavier layers of clothing, can be blissful as it brings to mind the moments of celebration we cherish. Even while the harshness of winter can damper day-to-day activities, the holidays are a way of slowing down and fully focusing on those special moments. We celebrate over food and drink, even with the varied members of the family tree, we share meals that satisfy desire while nourishing all the same, our glasses are full with a special beverage that can inspire and establish memories of a moment that shall not be forgotten.


The creation of true cider is firmly rooted with the same ideals one can get when experiencing the change of seasons and their reflection of the times that become the holidays. Much like grapes in wine making, apples in cider production are very dependent on the natural environment they are harvested from. Some years are better than others but more importantly; each year is a representation of something that cannot ultimately be fully controlled.


Henney’s Cider Company is one of the few English producers of real hard cider that concentrates on using only locally sourced apples that are treated with very little manipulations or shortcuts. Using a variety of cider apples, many of which are difficult to grow and hard to find, the range of selection is varied and allows for a wide spectrum of subtle flavors. Dry, medium and sweet are the simple labels for the offerings from Henney’s, while all are pleasurable representations of their designated styles; the most special cider is bottled under the Vintage label.


Henney’s Vintage cider is created from one single year’s worth of apples. Each harvest could lend differences and nuances that might not reoccur in other circumstances. Bottled nearly completely still, the Vintage bottles of cider are a representation of the purity of the fruit. Henney’s does not use added sugars or concentrates in post fermentation, a technique that many large cider producers use to cover the flaws of poor fruit or raise unneeded sugar levels to a degree of unpalatable roughness. Henney’s Vintage offerings are always highly enjoyable as their freshness and dynamic simplicity are always within balance by showcasing the fruit’s natural flavors.

On to the Tasting Notes:

Pouring with just the slightest movement of bubbles, the cider is virtually still. The lack of carbonation doesn’t effect the experience as sometimes these added yeasts used for conditioning can influence too much of the flavor and detract from the desired qualities that are present in their most simple form. Delightful aromatics of stone fruit, river rocks, washed rind cheeses, wool and fragrant flowers are meshed together in a very soft harmony. There is no alcohol present but the amplification of phenols and aromas give way that this is no simple fruit juice.


The first sip is clean on the palate with a crisp texture of semi-sharp tannins that give off a delightful flavor. Tartness not far from a green apple with the distinct pulpy flavors that linger as the way of biting through a snappy red apple skin does.  Oolong tea and a touch of cedar come into play and give the bright fruity notes a long heady feeling. The tannins are tightly woven and display upon the long finish that builds with acidity. Not overly tart, these 2010 bottles are highly citric without having the flavor of lemons or limes, they feel crisp and ultimately balanced as the fruit can be tasted and only after twenty minutes of being open does the liquid truly begin to display it’s true self. The purity is simply stunning and the balance is a remarkable experience, these beverages are astonishing in their way of capturing the full flavors of what we know an apple to be.

Food Pairing:

As a way of celebrating the vintage in which this bottle was born from, thanksgiving offers a playful and exciting series of combinations for a remarkable food pairing. Rich and decadent buttered biscuits and savory gravy, roasted meats and sweetened sauces, oyster stuffing or liver dressing, the flavors of thanksgiving are bold and highly varied. The crisp notes of the apple’s earthy depth and the sharp finish of tannins give these bottles of Henney’s Vintage cider a lead in the pack if compared to other options within the field of wines. Glazed hams are imagined with ease, seared edges of Brussels sprouts are digested without complaints and the cinnamon and spices of sweet potatoes and brown sugar are so pleasant, they would actually desire a repeat with next year’s meal. Cider is also great to cook with, a dash of the Vintage used to deglaze would offer a nice perk and truly meet any richness with a calming hand. Balanced, varied and simply an ease to drink, there should always be a bottle of Henney’s around to remind us how nice the seasons can be.


Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: October
Elevation Apis IV Quad
Regular Price: $10.99
Sale Price: $8.99
Sale End: 10/31/2012
ABV: 10.7
Beer Advocate: 92
Elevation Apis IV Quad

Located in Poncha Springs, Elevation is a new face on the range of the Colorado brewing scene but one that many will hold in high esteem as the months continue and new beers emerge. Their first beer, Apis IV, is their rendition of the Belgian-style ale known as a Quadruple or simply Quad. Apis is also the name of the genus for the honeybee with the ‘IV’ symbolizing the Quad style and the four individuals that make up the brewing family. Together, Apis IV is the accumulation of passion and hope, interest and experience, dedication and desire of four friends who also pay tribute to the locally sourced Colorado honey that is used to create each batch of this honorable beverage.


Each bottle of Apis IV contains a liquid that is a graceful concentration of complexities that emerge with vigor once released from underneath the cork’s seal. Lovely large off white bubbles quickly collect upon the beer’s surface and subside to a faint layer after being poured into a large mouthed glass. Almost purple in color, the faintest bit of light can be seen breaking the edges of the beer if held close to light.  Dark fruits come to mind on the first whiff with figs and dates rounding out the bouquet. Sweetness is present but in the way yeasty bread coated in dark honey is: quite enticing. The honey is very well integrated and doesn’t allow any amount of the 10% alcohol to be known.
On to the Tasting Notes:

The bubbles re-emerge on the palate when the first sip is taken. Rounded and leaning in the rich direction, the texture is very full and without the heft of cloying sweetness than detracts from the drinkable factor of many other beers that share the style. The addition of honey is fully understood as the flavor of the beer continues. Being a highly fermentable substance, honey actually adds a much dryer character to the Belgian Strong Ale than what would be an expected characteristic of those such as Rochefort 10 or De Struise’s Pannepot. The honey isn’t tasted as being sweet, instead the floral essence mingles upon the distinct yeast strain and the dark malts to eventually smooth out in to a drying finish of pure balance.


Dark grapes, a light layer of maple and just a touch of sherry are felt while the tropical and caramelized notes shine above all others. Spices in the way of peppercorns or cocoa nibs are tasted on the back-end as the beer sits. The Belgian yeast strain seems to parallel the fruit tones and focuses together into a finish that is highly fulfilling and quite long. Once again, the drying finish and soft texture give the beer grace and help make this one of the more impressive domestic examples of the Belgian Strong Dark Ale/Quad category.
Food Pairing:

With just enough obvious sugar laced flavors to make the beer lean on the sweet end, something with a bitter and smoky direction would contrast quite nicely. BBQ meats with a nice layer of sticky sauce could easily be an option with the spicy sorts of smoked foods being a more difficult, but still admirable combo. Wild game and vinegar driven sauces would bring out the subtle peppery notes of the beer while meeting the earth driven tones. Blue cheeses could mingle with the beer’s soft honey qualities while crumbly cloth bound cheddars adding a savory sharpness to the darkened fruit flavors. Butter heavy pastries, either for brunch or dessert, would make a lovely partner with Apis IV as the richness of the food could match the sweet perk of the beer’s flavor.

Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: October
Brauerei Aying Oktoberfest-Marzen
Regular Price: $3.49
Sale Price: $2.49
Sale End: 10/31/2012
ABV: 5.8
Beer Advocate: 91
Rate Beer: 96
Brauerei Aying Oktoberfest-Marzen

The Oktoberfest celebration might be one of the single most recognized images in traditional beer culture. Large thirsty groups gathered in close proximity, steins in hand and full of frothy bier, the ladies delightfully showing off in their Dirndl dresses while the men dawn the iconic Lederhosen, this is a sight that is not only iconic but still practiced within the southern German region of Bavaria. This exuberant gathering celebrates a beer that shares the name of Oktoberfest but is also classified as the Marzen style.


Named as the ‘March’ beer, Marzen was originally brewed at the end of winter as a way to supply beer throughout the warm summer months. Before the modern age of brewing equipment and high sanitation, many beers would easily become infected with ambient bacteria that thrive in warmer weather. Because the summer month meant that almost no beer was to be brewed, many breweries would make an extra large batch of beer at the end of March that would be aged in the cool caves until the next harvest season. The timing of the new season’s crop was easily integrated and eventually gave name to the moment that happened around the month of October.


The Marzen beers had extra amounts of hops added and helped to act as a preservative for the beer over the extended months of aging. As a way to free the barrel’s space for the new season of brewing, a celebration would be held to drink up all the remaining beer. The Oktoberfest celebration was a way of bridging one season unto another, an acknowledgement of the new harvest of ingredients and an acceptance of the future to come.


The Brauerei Aying or Ayinger Brewery is a large representation of the beer culture and styles that can be found within Bavaria. Known for their focus on the highest quality local ingredients, Ayinger is a special brewery that can happily be enjoyed stateside. One of their most celebrated seasonal beers is the Oktoberfest-Marzen.
On to the Tasting Notes:

Burnt copper in color, with a filtered appearance and a frothy head of lasting bubbles, the beer pours in a way that instantly makes one salivate. Wonderful aromas of baked biscuit, toasted grains, sprouted seeds and grassy hops come together in a delightful unison. The hops are obvious but certainly not out of balance. They keep the nose of the beer from coming across as too candied and add to the fresh, inviting quality of the beverage.


As to be expected, the first sip is wonderfully satisfying with a diverse range of soft flavors that intermingle and merge together. Lightly fruity up front with a lightly toasted bread flavor than emerges mid-palate and transfers into the long finish that is focused solely on the hops. The smooth texture is almost silken, making the beer highly drinkable and showcases just how easily multiple glasses could be drank without fatigue. A subtle spice is noticed, not far from anise or cardamom, adding another layer of flavor upon the already varied range. At nearly 6% ABV, this Marzen is almost a bold beer compared to other German styles, and yet, Ayinger is still all about balance with nothing seeming out of place.

Food Pairing:

This is a great beer to exemplify the cuisine that accompanies the Oktoberfest celebrations. Sausages and other cooked Wurst meats go down that much faster when a glass of Weizen is in hand. Up the amount of mustard and onions, the Ayinger Oktoberfest won’t have a problem with the intensity, as the slight caramel sweetness will round things off nicely. Potatoes, pretzels and pickles all have their place if just snacking. Consider the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday as Ayinger Oktoberfest seems to be the long lost accompanying beverage to the celebratory meal.

Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: September
Funkwerks Tropic King Imperial Saison
Regular Price: $10.99
Sale Price: $7.99
Sale End: 9/30/2012
ABV: 8
Beer Advocate: 86
Rate Beer: 95
Funkwerks Tropic King Imperial Saison

With a hopeful focus for crafting styles of beers that all share a strong Belgian influence, Funkwerks from Fort Collins might be bottling the most recognizable and fully stylized beers in Colorado. Highly aromatic and very well attenuated, their Saison seems to captivate all that cross paths with its memorable qualities. The yeast strain used seems to always shows up in each new offering and gives a deeper appreciation to the drinker as each batch shares the same origin of birth. One in particular, might even be the hailed favorite, is the Imperial Saison that goes by the name of Tropic King.


Tropic King gets its title by honoring the particular style of Raku hop that are used. New Zealand in origin, this hop is known for it’s highly aromatic and expressive traits of tropical fruit. The esters are quite heady; mangoes, pineapples and fruit preserves are all tightly woven together to create the surging aroma. A little sweetened biscuit undertone adds richness without sacrificing the over-ripe fruit elements. Peach skin and even toasted cashews come to mind with each new whiff.
On to the Tasting Notes:

The palate is hit with a focused texture of soothing bubbles that transforms in to a first flavor of fresh pears and zesty citrus. As if biting into a piece of ripe mango, the juicy flavors of sweet fruit ooze from the beer. Underneath the ripe qualities, a deep spice that is reminiscent to fresh grated ginger begins to emerge and eventually take over.


The very particular yeast strain used at Funkwerks is once again, very bright and upfront in Tropic King. Some grainy flavors of cracked wheat and bread can be detected and continue thought the mid-palate until condensing into the semi-dry finish. Soft smoke, bananas, bitterness from the hops and a soft meringue-like creaminess align into a range of flavors that creates the distinction in which Tropic King is known.
Food Pairing:

The high level of sweetened fruit flavors gives Tropic King a rounded edge that would pair very well with both rich flavors and spicy dishes. Creamy butternut squash soup, baked mac and cheese and anything with eggs would fairly square off with the Saison elements. Heat from a simple tomatillo salsa or a highly complex smoked chipotle would both bring out different qualities of Tropic King. Fish would be a no brainer for pairing, as their sea salt undertones would be any easy combo. Tropic King could also be used as a lighter dessert beer, acting as a counterbalance to anything with vanilla or cream and even giving caramel flavors something to work from.

Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: September
Firestone Walker Double Jack Imperial IPA
Regular Price: $7.99
Sale Price: $5.99
Sale End: 9/30/2012
ABV: 9.5
IBUs: 100+
Beer Advocate: 94
Rate Beer: 100
Firestone Walker Double Jack Imperial IPA

Possibly one of the single greatest breweries to be in production today, Firestone Walker is a powerhouse of American Craft brewing. Taking a direction that combines very distinct old-world English fermentation techniques with a modern touch of American hops as well as a progressive direction for blending beers that have been aged in oak, Firestone Walker might be the single greatest breweries to represent the current movement of forward thinking American brewing.


The Firestone Walker Brewery is located in the Paso Robles region of Central Coast California. Nearly half a world away from England, the almost lost fermentation method known as the Burton Union System is alive and well beneath the roof of Firestone Walker. The Union System is very unique as it allows a portion of beer to be fermented in toasted barrels before being blended back with the remaining batch that was fermented in stainless steel. The slight oak influence adds a dynamic dimension to the overall flavor and mouth-feel of each beer without ever coming across as blatantly oak driven. Never obvious, this is a great way to give the beers a depth that is missing in many modern ales across the county.


While Firestone Walker can take pride in the fact of being one of the only breweries to utilize the Union System for fermentation, they also can also smile with the satisfaction of knowing that they produce one of the only beers to achieve an actual analytical analysis reading of 100 IBU’s. The International Bitterness Unit scale measures how perceivably bitter a beer by grading the level of present alpha acids contributed from the hops. It is easy to formulate a projected theoretical reading IBU count but it is another thing to actually hit the number. Double Jack is an Imperial IPA that rises above the analytical level of 100 IBU’s and can easily be categorized as one of the country’s most balanced beers at this level.
On to the Tasting Notes:

As the cap is pried off the bottle, even before any liquid is released, a highly inviting and quite captivating aroma takes over the senses. Tropical fruit and damp grass unravels from the bottle, the distinct aroma of hops is unmistakable and so very much welcomed. Double Jack is dry hopped multiple times with some of the most distinct varietals; Amarillo, Cascade, Centennial, Simcoe, but they are so well layered and proportionality integrated that they seamlessly blend in a fashion that is nearly perfect. Melon and even a little honey are also picked up: mostly due to the large malt presence needed to sooth the hops.


After the highly engaging aroma, the flavor happily packs a similar punch of intensity. Rich with sweetened malt but never cloying, intense with bitter hops but without the astringent dissatisfaction of being overdone and so very smooth that this could be compared with beers nearing half the volume in alcohol. The flavor is built upon itself by way of each minor detail contributing a note that comprises the overall arrangement and creates a harmony that is just a joy to experience.


Fruit forward but still highly focused on the almost dank hops that American IPA’s are so commonly desired, all with a sweetened backbone of richness to give balance. Double Jack showcases how a somewhat ‘extreme’ style can come across as being graceful all while keeping in mind the importance of the finer details. There are more aggressively hop forward beers on the market, but what they lack is the simple cleanliness and nearly clean hop flavors that come from Double Jack. It is simply a very finely constructed beer that sets the standard for the category.
Food Pairing:
While Double Jack doesn’t feel all that heavy, this is a burly beer that can easily take on a massive group of flavors. The soft layer of sweetness would talk down a salt coated piece of dry aged beef with the lingering heat of the hops warming up to a oil and herb coated slab of grilled pork. Dairy might be the soft spot for Double Jack to really show off its range. The mango and semi-sweet flavors from the distinct hops would take a similar fresh direction that goat cheeses have while the citrus undertones would match the herbal flavors of stronger, hard sheep’s cheeses. Butter, in all it’s glory, in a broth of mussels or coating wild mushrooms or sticking to strands of pasta, would easily engage with the liquid of Double Jack and unite in simple harmony. Don’t skip desert, lemon curd and this Double IPA might be one of the finer parings to unite beer with food.
Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: August
Zatec Brewery Dark Lager
Regular Price: $3.99
Sale Price: $2.99
Sale End: 8/31/2012
ABV: 5.7
IBUs: 25
Beer Advocate: 88
Rate Beer: 96
Zatec Brewery Dark Lager

The Zatec Brewery is focused on hops. Fittingly named after a well-known hop-growing region, town and the distinct varietal (known more commonly as Saaz), Zatec is an ancient name that accumulates the long brewing history of the Czech Republic. Some old records indicated that brewing taxes were taken in the town as early as the start of the 11th century. 1261 ushered in the beginning of the ‘Society of Privileged Brewers’ and the beers that they produced were met by much praise from across the land. Centuries later in 1798, they laid the ground plan to what would become the current brewery with actual production beginning in 1801.

Beer was steadily brewed at this location until the late 1930’s when the calls of war halted the fermentation of Zatec and the brewery’s kettles were dismantled and buried in a nearby field. Many European breweries were met with the same problem of their valuable copper kettles being taken and reused for war materials. 1946 saw the resurgence of the Zatec brewery and the beer once again began flowing. Zatec was state-run though the Communist Era and then locally owned after the revolution in 1989. The most recent upgrade for the brewery happened in 2001 with new equipment and building refurnishing progress going underway. Amazingly, though all the years of change and evolution, the beer is still brewed as it always has been.

Zatec’s close proximity to the hop growing fields of the region allows an uncanny freshness to be obtained as the breweries have the option to pick their yields right before brewing if they needed. All the hops used are Saaz and Saaz related (others being Sladek and Premiant) and are added in three stages, which is fairly uncommon for the European lager style, their presence within the beer is a central focus of the overall flavor. Zatec also takes its distinction from the methods used for brewing.

Primary fermentation is done in open top vessels and then the beer is transferred 80 feet below ground where it will be lagered for 45 days. Cool temperatures are consistent in these conditions and the process hasn’t changed in centuries. The Zatec beers are never gassed for bottling, they are all naturally carbonated for extended shelf life and overall better mouth feel. Each element that goes into the process allows the Zatec beers to stand out and define the style in which they are created.

On to the Tasting Notes:

While the Dark Lager is made in the same style as that of the Bright Lager, it gets the darkened color and intense flavors from the addition of highly roasted barley. The beer billows out of the bottle with an off brown colored head that sticks to the sides of the glass and holds a tight structure of bubbles. Faint chocolate aromas and roasted coffee high notes come to mind with the first sniff. Intriguingly diverse with the herbal hops laying low but still adding a grassy accent upon the other aromas. Diverse and unique, the Dark Lager seems to hold more strength than is indicated.

Cocoa, chocolate covered almonds, mocha and baked bread compact together with the first sip. Again, the hops are softened from the roasted flavors but still offer a counter flavor of wild herbs and a rounded bitterness. With a medium body and a smooth texture to fill the mouth, the beer slides down quite easily leaving a flavor that is pleasantly stronger than what one might think for a Czech born beer. The aromas and flavors bring to mind some English born Porters or Stouts and yet the body and lightness on the palate compare more to a darkened beer from a German origin. Showing influences from the neighboring countries but offering a very distinct direction, the Zatec Dark Lager is a dark beer that gives all the flavors of a rich and bold beer and yet all without the weight or sweetness.

Food Pairing:
The Dark Lager is nearly interchangeable with how a Dunkel style beer would be used for food pairings. The roasted edges and the obvious hop flavors are to match wonderfully with meats that have spent time on the grill. The charred flavors intensify upon the roasted backbone of the beer and will make for a great meal. With the slight sweetened chocolate flavor this would be a perfect fire extinguisher for anything heavy on the heat. Cheeses, of any richness or crumble, will be great next to the Dark Lager. Decadent and bold blue cheeses will bow next to the simple grace from Zatec.
Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: August
The Lost Abbey Carnevale
Regular Price: $9.99
Sale Price: $6.99
Sale End: 8/31/2012
ABV: 6.8
Beer Advocate: 89
Rate Beer: 98
The Lost Abbey Carnevale

With an honorable gold medal award at the 2009 Great American Beer Festival for Belgian and French Style Ale, Carnevale is a gem among the range of beers from The Lost Abbey. Focusing on eclectic styles and unique old world brewing, The Lost Abbey has two basic tiers in which all their beers fall. Are you a Saint or a Sinner? The Sinner beers are those that exhibit strength and depth though intensity while the Saint range is directed to delicate flavors and soft aromas. Carnevale is layered, bright and inviting and might make a saint out of all who take the time to taste.

Carnevale pays tribute to the Venetian festival in which social and economical status is disregarded and all don masks to transform into something new. The beer takes it’s influence from the festivals’ anonymity as it has and appearance of one direction and yet the actual flavor comes from a different place all together. While mimicking a Belgian or effervescent French Saison/Blonde ale, Carnevale is dry hopped with zesty American hops that give a highly spicy and somewhat bitter flavor upon the fruit and Belgian esters. While it could be seen that this is a blend of two different worlds, the flavor indicates more that it came from an origin all its own. Much how California is talked about spawning a style of IPA beers distinct to their own place, Carnevale is somewhat within that category. Not a beer that is a better sum that each part, more or less a modern accumulation of favorites that has been blended in a wonderful way.

On to the Tasting Notes:

Large, white bubble emerges from the open bottle and energetically fills the glass. Highly carbonated, and rightfully so, the thick head of foam collects and gives off a wonderful aroma of pears and light spices. What it lacks in rustic charm, Carnevale makes up with a solid level of well-versed precision of respect for the times of old. Hops are the most obvious contribution that gives away the American origin of this beer and in fact add a level of amplification to the soft sweetness of the beer’s body. Floral from both the dry hopping and from the particular yeast, the combo is both distinct while still having a slight mystery.

Cracked wheat, peppercorns, ripe fruit and sweet oranges are some of the first flavors tasted. Smooth on the palate with a medium bodied texture that translates into an almost chalky, dry finish. Some apples begin to arise as the beer sits almost giving the fruit flavors a light layer of tartness. Grains and flowers are what come to mind from consistent sips, this is a simple beer that pulls together a light range of flavors and turns them into a great drink for casual times.
Food Pairing:

Sea food would be a great place to start to optimal pairings, steamed mussels with garlic and lemon, steamed trout with fresh green beans and almonds, even something with a touch more richness like butter coated halibut with stewed eggplant and creamy peas. The citrus flavors bring sheep’s milk cheeses to mind, the carbonation easily taking on the full texture while the fruit flavors matching nicely with the subtle nutty flavors of the cheese. If eating meat, keep it on the lighter side, something fresh off the grill or coated in herbs straight from the roasting try. This style of beer is so refreshing that tart flavors from pickles or tangy notes from yogurts are surely to be rounded down if eaten with an accompanying glass of Carnevale. 

Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: August
Zatec Brewery Bright Lager
Regular Price: $3.99
Sale Price: $2.99
Sale End: 8/31/2012
ABV: 4.6
Zatec Brewery Bright Lager

The Zatec Brewery is focused on hops. Fittingly named after a well-known hop-growing region, town and the distinct varietal (known more commonly as Saaz), Zatec is an ancient name that accumulates the long brewing history of the Czech Republic. Some old records indicated that brewing taxes were taken in the town as early as the start of the 11th century. 1261 ushered in the beginning of the ‘Society of Privileged Brewers’ and the beers that they produced were met by much praise from across the land. Centuries later in 1798, they laid the ground plan to what would become the current brewery with actual production beginning in 1801.

Beer was steadily brewed at this location until the late 1930’s when the calls of war halted the fermentation of Zatec and the brewery’s kettles were dismantled and buried in a nearby field. Many European breweries were met with the same problem of their valuable copper kettles being taken and reused for war materials. 1946 saw the resurgence of the Zatec brewery and the beer once again began flowing. Zatec was state-run though the Communist Era and then locally owned after the revolution in 1989. The most recent upgrade for the brewery happened in 2001 with new equipment and building refurnishing progress going underway. Amazingly, though all the years of change and evolution, the beer is still brewed as it always has been.

Zatec’s close proximity to the hop growing fields of the region allows an uncanny freshness to be obtained as the breweries have the option to pick their yields right before brewing if they needed. All the hops used are Saaz and Saaz related (others being Sladek and Premiant) and are added in three stages, which is fairly uncommon for the European lager style, their presence within the beer is a central focus of the overall flavor. Zatec also takes its distinction from the methods used for brewing.

Primary fermentation is done in open top vessels and then the beer is transferred 80 feet below ground where it will be lagered for 45 days. Cool temperatures are consistent in these conditions and the process hasn’t changed in centuries. The Zatec beers are never gassed for bottling, they are all naturally carbonated for extended shelf life and overall better mouth feel. Each element that goes into the process allows the Zatec beers to stand out and define the style in which they are created.

On to the Tasting Notes:

Bright Lager is a picture perfect beer to pour, with the carbonated bubbles wafting into a glass and keeping their tight structure upon the surface of the clear light tan color of the beer. Filtered for ultimate clarity and refinement, these are the beers that can appeal easily to tired tradesmen or the parched few simply looking to talk over a few beers. There is a slight over-ripe fruitiness that emerges as the beer sits. Apples and ripe pineapple, a bit of summer wild flower and then the distinct grassiness of the hops comes out. The hops could be the show-stopped as their presence is one of purity and never falls out of place. They are both typical with the herbal aromas but also a bit more distinct as they bring a subtle earthiness that is not far from wet leaves or a damp forest. This shows how particular hop strains can be, while this is a beer that is fully about the flavors and aromas of their local hops, one would never get the impression of an American IPA or other “new world” hop focused beers.

The bubbles feel almost fuzzy with their weight but simply clean the palate as they slide down one’s gullet. Nutty flavors similar to cashews or walnuts fill the first sip all without the richness usually associated with such flavors. The hops once again emerge with a bitterness that unifies with the slight fruitiness to create a highly balanced overall flavor. The finish is noticeably dry and even a touch spicy with the bitterness holding out and creating a highly drinkable beer. Simply a joy of balance as the range is subtle but each component is so tastefully layered.
Food Pairing:

With a clean finish and a high energy of carbonated bubbles, Zatec is a wonderful beer to bright out as part of a brunch meal. The zesty hop flavors will slice through any richness from a hollandaise sauce; the slight fruity edge match yogurt laden foods and the simplistic brightness of the beer would lighten the weight of any plate of eggs. Deep-fried anything, especially some Schnitzel, would just about be perfectly matched with a chilled bottle of Zatec Bright Lager. Fish and simple shellfish options are an equal in the eyes of the beers from Zatec.

Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: July
Brauerei Heinrich Reissdorf Kölsch
Regular Price: $4.49
Sale Price: $3.49
Sale End: 7/31/2012
ABV: 4.8
Beer Advocate: 91
Rate Beer: 91
Brauerei Heinrich Reissdorf Kölsch

Simplicity can often speak louder than complexity. The level of one's enjoyment for the small things can be amplified from the level of comfort that comes from simple pleasures. When concerning beverages, the power from the extreme side of the spectrum can sometimes take away from the simple foundation from which basic flavors are built. Beer will always be a beverage that encompasses a highly varied range of styles, many of which are amplified versions of basic fundamentals. One in particular is the unique and somewhat obscure style known as Kölsch.

Kölsch beers are one of the hybrid styles within the world of brewing. Top forming yeast is used to initially ferment the wort and after a few days, the temperature is dropped and the beer is conditioned in very cold conditions, much as how lagers are created. This unique blending of two different styles gives these beers clarity and refinement while adding a longer flavor and more rich texture. This style is replicated throughout the world but only within the German city of Cologne can it be called Kölsch. The Reissdorf family has been brewing their version of the Kölsch since 1894 and in 1934, were the first producer to offer a bottled version. It is still a family run operation to this day and is the single greatest example of the style to be found in America. 

On to the Tasting Notes:

Upon opening, carbonation fills the glass with bright white colored bubbles that slowly subside upon the burnt yellow hue of the actual liquid. Reissdorf is filtered using a centrifuge that has separated any trace of yeast and gives ultimate clarity to the beer itself. While it may share a similar appearance to some other Pilsners or Lager beers, the Kölsch aromas are much more expressive and a bit more upfront with an herbal hoppy edge. The top fermenting yeast lends a distinct aroma of cornhusks and toasted wheat, both of which are quite inviting. Fruity notes are in abundance and all without any degree of sweetness, the beer is pure and clean.

The subtle construction that holds this beer together is evident upon first sip. The first flavor is filled with a strong citrus presence, one that almost comes off as herbal in a lemon verbena or lemon grass way. Wheat bread and mineral water are felt but not in an overly distracting way. The softness of the beer’s carbonation fills the mouth and transitions into the clean flavors that refresh and brighten the palate. There is also a tangy and almost tart perk at the end of each sip, a quality that only increases the high level of refreshment. The texture is unique as it feels more rounded than a typical Lager but not as heavy as some ales come off. Thrust quenching doesn’t even begin to describe how delightful this beer drinks in warm weather.
Food Pairing:

With a bone-dry finish and a bright perk of lemony flavors, Kölsch beers are great with greens. Simple salads coated in vinaigrette or tossed in nutty olive oil will complement the ease of the beer’s flavors. Vegetables would continue on a similar path with Reissdorf being a great partner to anything loaded with mushrooms. The earthy and slight bitterness of mushrooms find a home with the zesty minerality of the Kölsch. Big roasted dishes or anything with too much charred flavors might be a little much for the simplistic range. Chicken would be an exception; even one with a hint of smoke could take a notice to the Reissdorf Kölsch. The easy and simple flavors are the one’s we tend to remember.

Drinking a chilled glass of Reissdorf Kölsch under the heat of the summer sun might be a beer moment that is so common in routine but has such liveliness to it that it simply becomes an affair of pure pleasure.
Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: July
Brewery Ommegang Hennepin Farmhouse Ale
Regular Price: $8.99
Sale Price: $7.49
Sale End: 7/31/2012
ABV: 7.5
Beer Advocate: 93
Rate Beer: 97
Brewery Ommegang Hennepin Farmhouse Ale

The Ommegang brewery has been known for their dedication of true Belgian-style beers since their formation in 1997. The idea came to the owner, Don Feinberg, when he was on a European trip in the mid nineties and fell in love with the variety and distinct beverages found in Belgium. He soon quit his day job and became a direct importer of Duvel into the states. The relationship grew into a formidable concept as the owners of Duvel (Moortgat) hoped to create a family of beers that were Belgian in style but brewed on American soil. With a little funding, Don Feinberg began the Ommegang Brewery that became one of the only of its type in American to replicate the true farmhouse breweries of southern Belgium.


Built within close proximity to Cooperstown, New York, the 136 acres that once was a field for hop growing now houses a brewery and the local wells full of clean water supply exactly what a brewery needed. Ommegang was one of the first in America to brew all Belgian-style, bottle conditioned beers. The range has grown to incorporate a few modern tweaks but the foundation has never shifted. One of Ommegang’s most well known beers, and one of the first American brewed Farmhouse ales is the classic; Hennepin.


Hennepin is named after a Belgian missionary who famously was the first European to lay eyes on Niagara Falls.  Quite an appropriate tie in for not only the location of the brewery but for the style of beers being brewed in a foreign land that is now called home. Hennepin is slightly different that other Farmhouse ales such as the famous Dupont example or even other current American offerings from Funkwerks or Boulevard. Highly carbonated with an off white egg shell color and creamy bubbles, the aromas are very expressive from the contribution of ginger, grains of paradise, coriander and orange peel. The distinction is evident but the soft integration and smooth texture on the palate speaks of the foundation from which it was born.

On to the Tasting Notes:

Ripe stone fruits aromas arise as the beer warms and the ginger begins to play its role, offering a subtle zesty high note. Hennepin has a very bold fruitiness on the nose, one that can easily be contributed from the highly active yeast strain. There is a comparable flavor range to other beers of the style but Hennepin’s soft spicing and creamy texture bring to mind a Golden Ale. Think of Duvel without the candied edge or Dupont’s Saison without the obvious hopping is somewhere in the range of how Hennepin feels.

Pears, lemon custard and crushed wild herbs are perceived on the palate. The orange peel comes out fairly strong with the first few sips while poached pears begins to dominate the longer the beer is opened. Lemon balm and edible flowers are felt in a refreshing, heady sort of way. The high level of carbonation doesn’t dissipate and each sip is full of a vibrant energy that takes your full attention. Bubblegum and cracked wheat can also be tasted but in small amounts, the main focus of flavor is that of ripe fruit, herbal leaves and restrained hopping. Certainly a great beer to establish those who might not be accustom to the style and even then, the degree of rounded texture and balance would be enjoyed by the experts.

Food Pairing:

With the firm and creamy level of carbonation, Hennepin pairs well with foods with natural oils such as olives, fish and sauced dishes. Spiced foods would meet the fruitiness of the beer and calmed into an integrated eating/drinking experience. With the natural earthy nuances, cheeses and pickled foods would be easily combined. Tangy goat cheese, thick triple creams, salty rinds of washed cheeses and the crumbly texture of aged cheese would all have their merits when eaten along side Hennepin. This could also be poured along side desserts with meringue or whipped cream, making it a rare beer to pair with sweetened cuisine.

Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: June
Deschutes Hop in the Dark Cascadian Dark Ale
Regular Price: $5.99
Sale Price: $4.49
Sale End: 6/30/2012
ABV: 6.9
IBUs: 75
Beer Advocate: 91
Rate Beer: 95
Deschutes Hop in the Dark Cascadian Dark Ale

While the India Pale Ale beer style can be traced back to an English origin, there is no debate that it is now one of the defining beers of American craft brewing. The variations are numerous and with the continual evolution of the category stateside, the India Pale Ale is becoming recognized as a domestic staple of modern brewing. Becoming distinctly American by way of the ever growing desire to imperialize and double the amount of hops that can be crammed into a recipe, the intensely hoppy flavors began flowing out of a few west coast breweries and ushered a new chapter for hop focused beers. It grew to include beer styles that didn’t usually offer this range of flavors, Red ales, Barleywines, Belgian-Styles and the most recent to take some attention; dark ales with a significant hop bite.


With some simply calling these beers hoppy porters or light stouts with heavy hops, there has been a group of few demanding to call this a new style all together. The major waves to spark debates came about when a collections of brewers in the Pacific Northwest requested that the Brewers Association recognize a new style to be called Cascadian Dark Ale. The Cascadian mountain range stretches from British Columbia down to Northern California and includes the largest hop growing areas in all of North America. These hops are known for their particular qualities and are desired for many modern IPA producers. With the source of ingredients lending the brewer’s mind to wander, many locals within the Cascadian range felt it would be an honorable way to establish a new beer style while showcasing the roots for their inspiration.


While beers of this nature weren’t born in the Pacific Northwest (brewers in Vermont and even Dogfish Head created very hoppy and slightly dark beverages in the nineties), they were significant contributions of new beers being released that shared similar qualities of flavor. These beers are brewed using the same steps and similar hops as would be found in regular ipas and should give off floral aromas of pine and citrus. The malts are darker than usual but not so roasted as to influence a flavor of richness, the hops are still to be the main ingredient of focus. Alcohol is within a range of around 5-7.5% and the beer should have a smooth texture and finish dry. The increased level of toast and bitterness works in unison with hop’s natural level of bittering flavors and yet these beers should still be highly drinkable with that zesty hop focus.

On to the Tasting Notes:

Hailing from within the heartland of the Cascadian range, Deschutes is a brewery that takes their local hops very seriously. The “American Black Ale” created many imitations through semi-successful tried efforts from a variety of domestic breweries. While not a surprise, one of the major beers to come out from the rest was the Deschutes brewed; Hop in the Dark.


Labeled as “Cascadian Dark Ale” and very proud of the fact, the beer’s title shouldn’t be the main topic of discussion. Pouring with a light brown head that might easily be called out as a usual stout if seen from afar. Dark in color but not so intense as to block out a near light if held close. The hops are quite floral and add aromas of grapefruit and earthy grass to the creamy mocha and light chocolate tones. Malt is apparent but only after the waves of large hops make their presence known.


The flavors are a mixed bag of tricky combinations. Chocolate and coffee are felt but don’t feel flabby or sweet. The hops spread their delightful bitterness on the palate and give off some refreshing floral high notes upon the smoke and chocolate. The beer holds long and focused without ever seeming sweet, the darkened flavors are an interesting combination to have with the lemon and piney notes and they actually marriage well. Balance is key and Hop in the Dark is integrated with wonderful technique. Toasted without feeling burnt, bitter without being overly dry, herbal but still clean with refreshment.
Food Pairing:
This is a beer that would be such a fun beverage for the restaurant owners and Cicerones to play with. The diverse range can be applied to the casual or the intense. The easy route of pan roasted steak would be obvious but the addition of fresh peas with butter laced potatoes and fresh mint makes the combo that much more interesting. Nutty flavors would be the next shoe in, beans, grains and even sweet corn would be a simple application with the toasted flavors of the beer. The hops allow an option of creamy cheeses or rich meats. This also might be one of the more pleasurable beverages to have along side foods with rugged levels of heat. The combinations could be endless, apple pie or chocolate cake, both would have their merits.
Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: June
Privatbrauerei Plank Laaber Helles Weizenbock
Regular Price: $6.99
Sale Price: $5.49
Sale End: 6/30/2012
ABV: 7.5
Privatbrauerei Plank Laaber Helles Weizenbock

How rightfully accomplished the brewer, Michael Plank of the Privatbrauerei Plank Laaber brewery must be. As if proudly watching over the 16th century established family business isn’t enough, there is the high pedigree of working under extremely strict guidelines that is the German Reinheitsgebot and producing beers that would not only make the ancient traditionalists nod their heads with pleasure but can also sweep the judges of today’s market off their feet. With classic approaches, these beers have taken home medals in each year that they have been entered at the bi-annual, highly prestigious, World Beer Cup. None have been more recognized than that of their Heller Wizenbock as this year brought yet another Gold Medal to the Plank homestead and brings the total medal number to 6 from the World Beer Cup. While the praises are wonderful, the true feelings of accomplishments are certainly to come with each new brew day.


Bocks are by nature, stronger and more concentrated beers than the usual lighter styles of German beer. Some can be the color of night with others are rich with warming alcohol and dark fruit and yet some still can appear light on their feet but pack a long punch to the unknowing drinker. The Weizen-Bocks are bocks that have at least 50% wheat malt and have very similar characteristics to that of Hefeweizens, only bringing a larger alcohol percentage to the glass. The Heller indicates that it will be a lighter colored beverage and somewhat lighter flavor as well.


Plank’s Heller Weizenbock is not only one of the most highly recognized beers in the world for the style but also a beautifully true to style beverage. Plank is unique as they bottle condition each of their beers which allows the purity of each style to be upheld though travel and translates wonderfully well when finally opened and poured. The exceptional carbonation is tight with small bubbles, lasting with lace and so soothing with texture on the palate. Under the off white layer of foam, the color of the beer is muted by way of the unfiltered nature. Burnt orange and deep copper colors are present with a presence that is simply too inviting to pass up.
On to the Tasting Notes:

The classic aromas of banana and pepper are taken in their own direction as the slight buttered pastry undertone make combination of banana cream pie and yet, there is nothing sweet about this beer. Yeast is the pleasurable culprit for this joyful aroma; warm bread, baked fruit, green grapes and a soft cedar presence are woven together so nicely. With a long nuttiness, the yeastiness gives its self away and leads into the first sip.


Smooth and delicate, a near perfect example of how carbonation can carry a beer’s flavor so long on the tongue. Bright with a delicate citrus, rounded with a baked fruit mid palate and wonderfully thirst quenching at the end. Some wheat and husky flavors come up and give an impression of bright sun on the tips of tall grasses. The distinct yeast is highly active on the flavor and comes off as nothing short of magical. With a balance between the yeasty, grainy notes and those of the banana and bubblegum, Plank’s Helles Weizenbock is delightfully complex while still being a beer that one could commit to throughout an evening and never grow tired. 

Food Pairing:

With its smooth texture and the firm nutty edge, foods rich in both flavor and texture would be rounded and cleaned up by the Plank Helles Weizenbock. As common as eggs are to find on a menu, rarely are they met with the kind of delicate reasoning as the one they would receive from the help of a wheat beer. Weizenbocks have just the right amount of sweetness to balance and yet finish with enough of a liveliness to lift a runny egg on toast, a quiche at lunch or a soufflé with dinner. Plates of chicken, either the pleasing southern fried style or the easy baked type could both find a common ground with a beer of such balance. Toasted coconut and even sweetened custard for dessert would be oddly enjoyed with a frothy glass of Plank Helles Weizenbock.


While the awards bring the attention from a world away, it doesn’t seem that the praise is a necessity. These beers taste as if they were happily created as a way to uphold the historic family name through the traditions of German brewing. We feel lucky that beers of this caliber can be found on our shelves, they truly are a lesson in proper balance and flavor.
Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: May
Colorado Cider Company Grasshop-Ah
Regular Price: $7.99
Sale Price: $6.99
Sale End: 5/31/2012
ABV: 6.95
Colorado Cider Company Grasshop-Ah

Hard Cider production is long with history and extremely varied in style. Many different countries from across the globe all have their distinct contributions to the category of fermented apple juice, some being bright and enticing, while others taste with the rustic charm that goes back centuries with tradition. With these varied styles finally showing up on our shelves, we have decided to dedicate May as Cider month. Each week we will focus on a single style that represents the approach of a different country. These bottles will be on sale for that week only and hopefully many will gain an appreciation for one of the world’s more versatile, engaging and refreshing of beverages.

With a nod in the direction of keeping locally produced products direct and basic in style, The Colorado Cider Company is a highly talked about recent addition to the list of newly opened Denver based breweries/distillers/fermented beverage producers. Carving their interest with the “classic” range of simply dry and off dry ‘Glider’ bottles of cider with that of the modern representation on the oak conditioned variants by way of Old Stumpy (where their cider is conditioned in used Chardonnay barrels), to a cider that they can call their own: the lemon-grass and hop infused; Grasshop-Ah. With both feet in the forward moving waters, and with a helpful push by way of the craft beer world, Grasshop-Ah is a unique creation that has gained the attention of many.

 

The cap pulls off and a pressured hiss erupts from within the bottle. Pouring the cider into an awaiting glass gives a sparkle of effervescence that is delicate and well concentrated. Citrus is the defining aroma with big lemon-rind and lime zest aromas mingling with the crisp green apple qualities of the base cider. The hops begin to show themselves, only after the initial punch of fragrant lemon grass, and come off not too far from the way a lighter styled IPA might smell. Herbal freshness meets the ripe fruitiness and immediately heightens the degree of one's level of thirst.

On to the Tasting Notes:
The aromas translate very bold on the palate with the grassy hops giving a balance to the pleasing semi-sweetness of the apples. Citrus is felt but seems to be the binding force between the delicate bitterness and the high notes of the obvious apples. Some heady waves of vegetal flavors follow through to the finish that doesn't feel at all out of place. Apples, with seeds, steams and all, are fully expressed but given a diverse direction to take from the added flavors from the hops and lemon-grass. Finishing on the dry end, Grasshop-ah is a diversely layered beverage that holds each distinct element in a similar place of importance. True cider fans will appreciate the balance, new comes to the category will have fun with the uniqueness and beer drinkers will find common ground to land upon.
Food Pairing:

Like most of the other styles of cider, the fruitiness will calm heat with ease. The added effect of the soothing citrus of the lemon-grass will connect with concentrated flavors such as briny fish sauces, peppered meats charred on the grill, jerked chicken and baked artichokes. The herbal qualities of the hops with that of the simple cider base would go along with easy vegetables; either pickled, sautéed or baked. Without the bold bitterness that hops can contribute to beer, the overall freshness will give this great room to work off of brunch flavors. Smoke heavy bacon, fresh pastries, fruit syrups and the diverse range of flavors are all up to bat when Grasshop-ah is shared. Stick to cheeses that are fragrant without being too sharp, the creamy styles with a touch of funk, would be a winning combination.

Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: May
Isastegi Sargado Basque Cider
Regular Price: $11.99
Sale Price: $9.99
Sale End: 5/23/2012
ABV: 6%
Rate Beer: 97
Isastegi Sargado Basque Cider

Hard Cider production is long with history and extremely varied in style. Many different countries from across the globe all have their distinct contributions to the category of fermented apple juice, some being bright and enticing, while others taste with the rustic charm that goes back centuries with tradition. With these varied styles finally showing up on our shelves, we have decided to dedicate May as Cider month. Each week we will focus on a single style that represents the approach of a different country. These bottles will be on sale for that week only and hopefully many will gain an appreciation for one of the world’s more versatile, engaging and refreshing of beverages.

The history of cider production within the Basque county is long and somewhat mysterious as it stretches as far back as 2000 years. While it is not confirmed as to how apples were first introduced to this area of northern Spain, many purists believe that there could have been wild varietals naturally growing on their own. Cider greatly infused its placement in the traditions of the Basque people and the style has now become somewhat of a phenomenon that expresses a distinction from other beverages. By law, no sugars can be added and the bottles cannot be filled with any sort of gas to give carbonation. The few families still producing ciders of this style are upholding methods that go back hundreds of years and fully embrace what it is to undertake the Basque heritage. These ciders are truly a taste of history.


Production begins around the beginning of October when apples are plentiful and ripe as they fall from the trees. Hand sorted and then crushed into a pulp but not so that the seeds are broken as they could lead to unwanted bitterness. The crushed apples are pressed and the free run juice is racked into large cedar barrels or steel tanks where fermentation begins simply from the ambient yeasts in the area. Fermentation usually lasts until around January when the desired lactic flavors begin to arise. This time also begins the long tradition called Txotx when the Sagardotegi (cider house) will open its doors for the public to taste the new batches of cider straight from the barrel before being bottled. Isastegi is one of the first examples to be imported to America and is a classic estate to represent the traditional ciders of the Basque country.


Located in the town of Tolosa, the Mari family has been dedicated to the production of Sagardo Naturala or natural cider since 1983.  They try to use apples grown locally in the area and only out source when certain vintages are lacking in proper quality. Their cider is created from a blend of over 12 different varietals that are aged in very old, large cider barrels called Kupelas and is bottled unfiltered. As with all other Basque Sagardos, the cider is bottled nearly flat and it is suggested that the liquid be poured from a height of about 3 feet into an awaiting glass thus creating a natural amount of carbonation. If poured as the traditionalists demand, an even level of bubbles combine and foam upon the liquid with a tight structure. This method gives of amazing aromatics and begins an experience that many will not soon forget.

On to the Tasting Notes:

Sea air, sun baked rocks, dried apple skins, wild herbs and pollen coated flowers are all tightly bound together to create one distinct aroma. Sharp lemon like acidity fills the nose as images of hot days and desert heat come to mind suggesting refreshment all without the first sip. Fully expressive from the place in which it came, this cider has a dynamic aroma that translates as being a touch aggressive but through multiple sips, unravels into taste that is honest and enticing.


The first sip slaps the taste buds into shape almost the same way as splashing cold water upon one’s face. The acidity is striking, ringing with a tartness that can almost be felt like a sharp bite of pepper. Lemons and limes; freshly cut and squeezed upon the tongue, is a close comparison for how the first sip feels. The shocking acidity is met with a cheek gripping strength of tannic intensity equaled on a level close to straight cranberry juice or a young Barolo. The flavor is simply described as “wild” as it has traits of other styles of cider but is utterly unique with its distinct representation of basic terrior.


If there was every a beverage to decant, this is certainly one to embrace. The first aromas are a mangled combination of polarizing extremes that expand on the palate in a way that might be off putting to some. Yeasty, earthy and full of an under-ripened apple sort of fruitiness and yet, if left to breath, these levels calm and integrate wonderfully well into themselves. Decanting allows oxygen to dissipate the odd aromas and brings the acid levels down a notch. While this will always be a drink that is distinct, if given time to open, the flavors shine with harmonious complexity.
Food Pairing:

This might be one of the single most impressive beverages to pair with foods. While sweetness is a great extinguisher for heat’s flames, the high levels of acid in the Isastegi are so bold, they can confidently overtake and dissipate hot foods. The same goes for highly salted foods liked brined fish, blue cheeses, cured meats and pickled vegetables. The cultural concept of tapas or Pintxos (as they say in Basque) is fully envisioned with a glass of Isastegi on hand. There might not be another liquid to make the transition from smoky to pickled, gamey to salty, fatty to sweet, roasted to acidic or any other varied combo. Palate cleansing and quite refreshing when drank over a variety of foods, this beverages keeps one on their feet.


Fans of real Lambic take note; there are wonderful comparative aromas and puckering flavors that aren’t too far from those found in the Belgian born brethren. This is a special opportunity as these ciders are not made in much volume and up until just a few months ago, were never found in our part of the world. Fermentation is the basis for civilization.
Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: May
Domain Dupont Etienne Cidre Bouché
Regular Price: $12.99
Sale Price: $10.99
Sale End: 5/16/2012
ABV: 5.5
Rate Beer: 96
Domain Dupont Etienne Cidre Bouché

Hard Cider production is long with history and extremely varied in style. Many different countries from across the globe all have their distinct contributions to the category of fermented apple juice, some being bright and enticing, while others taste with the rustic charm that goes back centuries with tradition. With these varied styles finally showing up on our shelves, we have decided to dedicate May as Cider month. Each week we will focus on a single style that represents the approach of a different country. These bottles will be on sale for that week only and hopefully many will gain an appreciation for one of the world’s more versatile, engaging and refreshing of beverages.


French cider or cidre, is an important beverage that signifies many eventful moments in the country’s long history. Manly being cultivated in the northern region of Normandy, cider nourished locals when water was unfit for consumption, brought income for many farms throughout the region and was produced with holy conviction by many generations of monks. While wine was in a questionable spot due to Phylloxera in the late 1800’s, cidre was wetting the throats of thirsty Parisians. Apple trees were being planted in large amounts due to their ability to provide fruit for eating, for brewing and for distilling (Calvados). World War I brought hard times upon French soil, most of the battling waging upon areas where the trees grew most plentifully. WW II brought even more hardships to the smaller family run farms and ever since, the family produced ciders of old have been steadily decreasing.


The Domaine Dupont is a standing representation that not all is lost. Located in the Pays d’ Auge of Normandy France, the estate is still family owned and operated. With a variety of amazing vintage dated Calvados bottles and a lovely range of iconic cidres, the Domaine Dupont is one of the most classic producers in Northern France. Each of their bottled cidres is vintage dated to dignify the particular harvest and to hold a similar level of esteem as many wines are. The estate rests on nearly 75 acres of land with 13 different varietals being split between over 6000 apple trees. Production varies depending on the desired product but each bottling is masterfully blended to capture the proper balance of flavors needed. The traditional Cidre Bouché (cider under cork) is a blend of 80% bitter apples and 20% acidic apples that undergoes fermentation using native yeasts and is bottled unpasteurized and unfiltered. 

On to the Tasting Notes:

The bottle opens with a powerful pop and shows the lively carbonation that is more comparable to that of Champagne. Energetic bubbles fill the glass with a raging froth that soon engulfs itself and dissipates into a thin ring atop the liquid. The bubbles continue to express their vibrancy, rising to the surface of the cider and keeping a steady stream that again isn’t too far from what one would expect in a bottle of Champagne. The aroma is full of rustic honesty by way of wild qualities similar to apple steams, tree bark, overripe fruit and earthy funkiness. As blunt as some of these aromas are, they dissipate as the cider engages with the oxygen allowing the sweeter and more common cider notes to come though. The aromatics are a fulfilling transportation to nearly being in Normandy and breathing the air in which the apple trees grow and drop their fruit.


The flavor is, at first, a bit abrasive, more baked and cooked than ripe and crisp. Apples are obvious and while being distinct, there is a heady complexity that can only be associated to the rustic nature of old tradition.  With the sweet apple fruitiness, there is a wild funkiness that allows many layers of flavors to continually develop as the cider opens and one’s palate becomes accustomed. Dry and full of good acidity without falling out of balance, this is a varied beverage that is interesting while still being utterly fulfilling. 

Food Pairing:

With a slight degree of earthy funkiness and a bright finesse of purity, this would be a great bottle to open at the beginning of a meal or as a beverage to share for celebratory reasons. Hailing from one of the most productive cheese regions of France, it is only natural that the Bouché would be amazing with wash rind cheeses like Pont L’Eveque, Livort or a classic runny and ripe Camembert. Chicken dishes, braised, roasted even baked would be rounded out and delightfully partnered with the cider. A delightful steak lunch with crisp greens and roasted potatoes is almost too easy of a pairing but one that does great justice to the Cider’s earthy notes.  Simply put, this is one of the most expressive and delightful of the classic old world styled fermented beverages.

Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: May
Aspall Orgainc Cyder
Regular Price: $6.99
Sale Price: $5.99
Sale End: 5/31/2012
Aspall Orgainc Cyder

Hard Cider production is long with history and extremely varied in style. Many different countries from across the globe all have their distinct contributions to the category of fermented apple juice, some being bright and enticing, while others taste with the rustic charm that goes back centuries with tradition. With these varied styles finally showing up on our shelves, we have decided to dedicate May as Cider month. Each week we will focus on a single style that represents the approach of a different country. These bottles will be on sale for that week only and hopefully many will gain an appreciation for one of the world’s more versatile, engaging and refreshing of beverages.

No country is better known for their hard Cider production than that of England. The climate is wonderful for apple production with ancient wild varietals being believed to have grown as far back as 3500BC. It wasn’t until around the time of the Roman invasion of Britain where apples were then planted as the orchards that we still know today. Many incarnations of cider or cyder were created and consumed throughout the centuries with a massive breakthrough coming when the English took the technique of blending to create the overall palatable flavor of their finished product. It was from this effort of combining different styles and varieties that the range grew to include light and dry, thick and sweet and tart and intense options.

One of the most well known of English Cyder producers hails from the Shire county of Suffolk in the east region England, known as Aspall. Current production is still over seen and conducted by the eighth generation of the Chevallier family. Their stance for quality is apparent in each bottle but none representing the old family ways more so than the Organic Cyder.

Upholding the style common in the late 1700’s, the fruit is picked and hand delivered where it is carefully sorted as not to include any apple that may have rot or heavy bruises. The choice fruit is washed, minced and sent to a large press where it is compressed and single strength apple juice is extracted.

The new juice is pumped into a tank where yeast is added and an initial fermentation will take place upwards of 3-4 weeks. After the fermentation is complete, the cider is left to rest for 2 weeks so the dead and old yeast can drop out. The cider then is racked into tanks and allowed to mature, sometime for years depending on the style. Once completed and palatable, the real magic begins through the art of blending these different varieties. Each apple holds it’s subtle touches and only through the combination of these varied varieties can the bottles become what we find on our shelves.


On to the Tasting Notes:

Carbonated to a degree where bubble pour strong but dissipate as the liquid sits, the texture still retains a clean amount of liveliness. Such a delicate aroma, full of freshly cut fruit and damp wood all mingled upon the distinct apple seed purity. A touch of grain, almost wheat husk and a little dash of well water give the nose a lovely honesty. With just enough perceived sweetness to get one’s mouth watering, the faint aroma is quickly met by a much needed first sip. Pleasing with light ripe apple sugars then tart with a starchy textured tannin structure that leads into a juicy finish that is clean and quite dry. The balance between the bitter apples and the ripe dessert varieties can be felt and makes the overall flavor varied and interesting. Delicious to drink, especially if parched as this is wonderfully refreshing.

Food Pairing:
Having just the right amount of sweetness to make each sip satisfying, Aspall’s Organic Cyder can be enjoyed with a varied amount of foods without fault. The bright and rounded flavor of pure apples would take pork or roasted chicken dishes very nicely. Foods that have high levels of spice such as curries or chili laced dry rubs would also go down a little easier with the apple’s cleanliness to balance it all. Foods with too much sweetness or too much richness might cancel out the delicate nature of the Cyder. Anything with a savory edge would be simply delicious next to a dry cider like the Aspall Organic.
Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: April
Samuel Smith's Organic Lager
Regular Price: $3.49
Sale Price: $2.49
Sale End: 4/30/2012
ABV: 5
IBUs: 25
Beer Advocate: 93
Samuel Smith's Organic Lager

When the discussion of English born beer arises, many will focus on the topic of Ales. Top fermented by definition but varying in color and style creates a steady range of beers that can easily be sectioned off a “pure” or “distinct” representation of classic English beer. Many purest take great joy in their selection of what they consider the proper pint of ale, and yet one of the largest advocates of English brewing is bottling a style more associated with the purists of mainland Europe. Samuel Smith’s Old Brewery in Tadcaster, North Yorkshire, England, a brewery based in so much history of traditional English born beer, is confidently and steadily producing not one, but two bottom fermenting Lagers.


Rather than being seen as a diversion from the English born classics, the appreciation for brewing, regardless of it’s debated origins, is the place from which these lagers were born. While many beer enthusiasts sometimes frown upon lagers as a category, they are quite difficult to create as flaws can easily be detected without a mountain of hops or strong sweetness to hide behind. Samuel Smith’s engagement for the alchemy of real brewing is apparent with each offering found on the shelves. Organic hops and UK grown organic malt give the beer a very sincere focus of quality and adds a Tadcaster signature of discrete distinction. 

On to the Tasting Notes:

Pouring with a fully aerated head of eggshell colored bubbles, the beer has a long and lasting pillow of carbonation. The actual beer it self has a light olive color and is filtered for ultimate clarity. The common aromas of barley and yeast are backed up by an intriguing quality similar to damp cement and toasted cornhusks. Inviting with its cleanliness and particular in its uniqueness. Even before first sip, it’s apparent that this is no Euro born beverage.

The palate holds more depth than what the aromas might suggest. The rocky almost slate backbone of the beer is coated with the hops obvious touch, adding a faint bitterness that brings out the grains and finishes on the nutty side. More textured than usual lagers, the carbonation is nearly perfect for a beer that will certainly be swallowed in large gulps. The hops help lend a prominent flavor of pepper and spice without upstaging the beer’s ultimate smoothness. Some oat and grain-like flavors intertwine with the vegetal contributions from the hops that only affirm the beer’s delicious level of enjoyment. 

Food Pairing:

Being a beer full of refreshing softness, foods on the heavier or even greasy side can be salvaged and made into a supporting meal. Battered and fried fish and crispy frites or chips would go down fast as a simple lunch, egg salad and rye bread would find a rare partner with the beer’s herbal notes, even something with a bit of heat like spicy Thai noodles or racy bbq sauced pulled pork would be a breeze if eaten with a bottle of Organic Lager in hand. The simple applications aren’t just the only way of making this beer shine, the more difficult foods like artichokes, sardines, roasted garlic and even beets would find comforting support in a glass of Samuel Smith’s Organic Lager. 

Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: April
Samuel Smith's Taddy Porter
ABV: 5
IBUs: 32
Beer Advocate: 92
Rate Beer: 98
Samuel Smith's Taddy Porter

Samuel Smith’s has grown to become the most respected and fundamentally important English brewery found on American shelves. Drinking through their wide portfolio is as close to a history lesson that one can get without picking up a book and taking notes. Their beers represent a firm dedication for the classic styles of old British origin. Today’s world of American beer is ever changing with new concoctions constantly being developed, some being trivial in conception and overly harsh in execution. While so much is built for new progress, drinking the beers of Samuel Smith’s is a refreshing moment to find comfort in the acceptance of something so familiar. These beers are the definitions that once helped build the sturdy foundations of American brewing.

Samuel Smith celebrates 34 years of American importation in 2012. Decades ago, when breweries were at their most redundant and complacent, these English beers helped turn some heads and change the perception of what beer is and can be. The one that still stands on it’s own, is the Taddy Porter. Faintly earthy, tangy on the tongue and unmistakable with the punch of flavors, Taddy Porter is one of the world’s most dynamic beverages.

On to the Tasting Notes:

Blossoming out of the bottle with a smooth cascade into the glass, the beer climbs high and stands with a mocha colored head. Reddish brown in color, the appearance is almost comparable to dark tea. Lighter than many modern porters, Taddy holds it’s ground with a classic sort image of finesse and refinement. There is something so very inviting as a proper pint of English Beer.


Mildly sweet aromas of licorice and stone fruit arise from the glass. The earthly edge gives a captivating level of complexity to take in while the hint of baked grains allow for the exact style of beer to be known. As the liquid rises in temperature more herbal notes and walnut tones are expressed. Impressive rather than distracting, these aromas speak to the beer’s origin from which it came.

Smooth on the palate and complex with flavors of toast, cocoa nibs, ginger, root beer and plumbs. Heady flavors of smoke and birch unravel and give the enticing sweetness of fruit a balanced foundation. Tartness builds and finishes the beer, giving a long end to such a satisfying sip. Such a direct and stunning flavor allows the Taddy Porter to be consumed in large volumes without boredom settling in. This is a beer that gives a great light as to why England has such a sociable pub culture. 

Food Pairing:

One of the world’s most versatile beverages for food pairing, Taddy Porter’s range of options can be found in Sunday Brunch all the way through till post dinner chocolate. Roasted flavors, in a beer like this, mimic the charred and caramelized concentration of grilled foods. Simple enough for a casual cookout with burgers and brats but also refined enough as to find it’s way to the dinner table over a plate of seared scallops (The beer historian and brewmaster at Brooklyn brewery; Garret Oliver turned many with this now legendary pairing). Brown sugar based coffee cakes and waffles for brunch start the day right with a chilled glass of Taddy Porter alongside. Chocolate and raspberry based desserts are the most obvious for an after dinner application.

It’s quite a good time to be drinking in America. To have the option of trying “next big thing” of the newly emerging oddball amalgamation of some micros and then taking the route of Samuel Smith’s, it always ends in a lesson of understanding the fundamentals. Much has changed in 34 years, thankfully, drinking a pint of Taddy Porter today is as much a revelation as it was many years ago.

Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: April
Rince Cochon
Regular Price: $9.99
Sale Price: $7.99
Sale End: 4/30/2012
ABV: 8.5
Rince Cochon

Pigs and beer. Such a simple affair of appetizing images, conjoined in a nectarous affair. Pigs representing the salivating desire for more with beer only enticing the first interest and a downward spiral of hand in hand debauchery unfolds. Simply put, to drink will eventually manifest a desire to eat and eating is better with a nice drink.

Rince Cochon is a new beer around these parts. Loosely translated to “Hog Wash”, the actual beverage is quite a step up from the images the words may represent. Being brewed in the Belgian Strong Golden Ale style, it shares many similarities to its well-known brethren of Duvel, Lucifer and Delirium. What it somewhat lacks in notoriety, it certainly makes up in precise upholding of basic understanding. This is a beer that will turn some heads.

On to the Tasting Notes:

Lifting from the golden beverage are enticing aromas that compare to fresh pineapple, mandarins, rye bread and a faint grassiness. Belgian yeast has a way to always keep one guessing as to the particular strain but the obvious characteristics are known in an almost immediate interaction. Rince Cochon’s aroma has some wonderful yeast driven qualities that represent why the beers of Belgium are so captivating. Bold but not too harsh, aromatic but never too fruity and distinct with a certain degree of sharpness, but not one that comes off as too intense. It’s a beer that is tasted even before being sipped.


The first touch of liquid to the tongue is a wonderful engagement. The candy coated orange peel meets an herbal zesty flavor and comes off as enticing and inviting. Hops are layered throughout and give a nice herbal backbone but are integrated enough to make multiple sips an ease. The golden ales of Belgium are some of the most deceiving beers around as their strength is masterfully hidden and multiple glasses aren’t felt until it’s too late.  Bright and zesty, Cochon is a Golden ale that finishes a hair above the rest as the nutty, almost sunflower seed like flavors round out the palate and keeps one wanting more.

Food Pairing:

It’s only appropriate that this beer would be a perfect accompaniment beverage to have with a wonderful plate of pork. An Easter Sunday dinner of garlic rubbed, salt smeared, roasted loin of pork, fresh peas studded with smoky bacon, peppered new potatoes and lemon juice covered greens would be a masterful greeting for a beer as pig friendly as the Rince Cochon. Its natural sweetness can be the calming force for the richness of streaky bacon while the nutty undertones and hint of grassy hops can soften mint’s strength or thyme’s heady woodiness. This is a springtime beer that can snuggle up next to bold flavors beautifully.

New beers being brewed out of Belgium might seem to some as a statement based in redundancy but Rince Cochon takes the fundamentals of the classics and gives enough of a special touch to be understood as it’s own. Clean and less cloying than others can be and without the palate of marshmallows and cotton candy, this may be one of the better offerings to introduce some as to the distinct qualities that Belgium beers are known for. It also helps that a bulky pig is the endorsement on every bottle. Pigs and beer, what a mighty combo.

Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: March
Moylan's Dragoons Irish Stout
Regular Price: $5.99
Sale Price: $3.99
Sale End: 3/31/2012
ABV: 5
IBUs: 28
Moylan's Dragoons Irish Stout

An often-overlooked style, the Dry Irish Stout is dominated by a few redundant examples that are sadly the only experiences many have interacted with. The obvious modern heavy weights of the style do have a connection to Ireland, but the beers they are producing, in the millions of liquid gallons, are a far cry from the beers of old. Many claim the origins of the stout style came from the British Isles where locals would desire a stronger or more "stout" version of their typical porter or ale. The style grew to include a darker body and a larger hop profile to satisfy the desires for a beer that could stick to one’s ribs after a day of difficult duties. The beers became darker and hopper with larger amounts of the usual ingredients until the word "stout" eventually became its own style all together.


While many breweries allowed alcohol to climb higher than previously known, some retained the easy drinking factors of a session beer while still utilizing the darkened nature. Intensely roasted barley gave coffee-like bitterness but didn't weight the drinker down with richness or overall strength. Stouts were the extreme but somehow the style of the Dry Irish Stout seemed to combine the bold roasted elements with the ease of casual drinking.


The modern Dry Irish Stout is divided between the industry giants; where marketing is the most impressive aspect of their beers, and the much smaller locally owned breweries that allow their creations to speak for themselves. The Moylan’s Brewery in Novato California is one such business where beer is a fulfillment of personal interest and family ties.


The Dragoon’s Irish Stout is not only a proper representation of this semi-unseen style but it also pays homage to the family name by way of General Stephen Moylan who was an Irish born commander of the 4th Continental Dragoons during the American Revolutionary War. A style from the homeland is brewed on the grounds that this ancestor fought to save and is a wonderful way to give tribute.

On to the Tasting Notes:

Dragoons is a simple beer with lovely ease of drinking though a proper arrangement of flavors. Slightly slim on the carbonation but with a layering of bubbles that finally rest over the mass of liquid, this is a stout that doesn’t compare to an endless black hole of darkness. Nearing a color not far from brown, Dragoons should be seen as a beer that has darkened edges but with a lightness that allows for easy drinking.


With an alcohol of only 5%, this is a beer that can begin the evening and fully enjoyed until the very end. The dark malts add depth though a strong roasted coffee like bitterness. The imported malts are toasty in character with an uplifting milk chocolate mid-palate that finishes with a long, creamy and simple richness. The roasted espresso flavors dominate this beer and with the lightness of the body actually allows for the flavor to be somewhat clean and enjoyable in large amounts. 

Food Pairing:

As a beer style that was widely consumed throughout the pubs of England/Ireland, the proper food applications are varied with choices. The natural toasted flavors would go well with any hearty bread making sandwiches, egg dishes and any starch laden with butter a fulfilling meal. For something a little heartier, beef dishes or even smoked meats would link hand in hand with the slight chocolate flavor of the Dragoons. Any that might be versed in the craft of making meat pies, flaky dough around a richly braised interior, should easily find pleasure when consumed next to this stout.


There certainly is more to the beers of Ireland than the milky examples that crowed many tap handles and jiggle with marbles in the liquor stores. Dark beer doesn’t always have to be a meal into it’s self. The punch of flavor from the roasted malts and earthy hops can easily be layered and give interest while still hovering at a safe place to be enjoyed in larger amounts. Moylan’s nod in the direction of their forefathers with their Dragoons Irish Stout, and we reap the benefits of tasting a beer not too far off from what was enjoyed many years ago. 

Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: March
Ayinger Celebrator Doppelbock
Regular Price: $3.49/12.99
Sale Price: $2.99/10.99
Sale End: 3/31/2012
ABV: 6.7
Beer Advocate: 97
Rate Beer: 100
Ayinger Celebrator Doppelbock

Before the modern direction of “imperializing” beer styles for the sake of experimentation or to fulfill the desire to venture into new fermentation territory, there was the now famous; Doppelbock. Translating easily as “Double Bock” the beer isn’t literally an actual doubling of all the characteristics from the standard bock beer. Instead, doppelbocks are condensed versions of the already somewhat strong-lager bockbier. Ranging in color from dark amber to nearly black, Doppelbocks were created as nourishing beverages to yield monks a certain amount of saving grace during their times of fasting. The original Doppelbock was named the Salvator or “Savior” and began the tradition of ending the name of all German brewed Doppelbocks with the suffix of “-ator”. One of the finest examples on the market is the Celebrator from the iconic Ayinger brewery.

 

Constantly rated as one of the world’s most highly acclaimed beers of the style; Celebrator is a landmark of the Doppelbock category. Initially established in 1878, the Ayinger beers are brewed with a purity that only comes from understanding the long history behind the varying styles of German beer. Currently six generations deep worth of brewing knowledge, the Inselkammer family stands out as a defining force of Bavarian brewing. Celebrator is brewed with water sourced from an on-site well and utilizes hops grown in the Hallertau region of Bavaria making it a beer that represents the style and character that can only be produced in this part of the world.


On to the Tasting Notes:

Celebrator pours with a darkness that could easily be mistaken for a porter or stout on first sight. Frothy bubbles emerge and crown the top of the glass while a cascading aroma of sweet malt and a faint woodiness engages the senses. There are some fruity tones not too far from wild flower honey, plums and fresh baked banana bread. Quite a wide spectrum of scents that are well layered and fulfilling with each sniff. The subtle smokiness works with the obviously sweet aroma, which melds, into a welcoming preparation for what unfolds on the palate.

 

Graham crackers, pumpernickel, green peppercorns, maple and sweet barley are all expressed on first sip. The richness isn’t cloying but is easily felt; one can see why these beers were claimed as “liquid bread”. Texturally, the beer simply coats the entire mouth with a medium-bodied sort of viscosity that transforms with a somewhat sharp perk of acidity near the end. Grape juice, pancakes and a little coffee emerge with further sips. With the weight and color of Celebrator, it’s almost impressive that the beer is only 6.7%. The sweetened body and warming qualities give a thought that the beer might be stronger than what is stated on the bottle. An impressive brew, very dynamic and truly a beverage that represents a flavor that can only be created from the hands of those built from tradition and honesty.

Food Pairing:

Having a somewhat untamed sweetness around the edges, Celebrator is a perfect pairing for wild flavors of game meats. Venison’s earthy qualities, quail’s distinctive aromas and the rustic depth of wild boar are greeted and pampered by the cooling rich flavors of the Doppelbock. The safe route would suggest a pork dish, hopefully one that came from the grill or the smoker. Meats with a natural fat would be a great way for the beer’s sweetened notes to emerge without weighing a meal down. Desserts with any degree of cream or caramelized flavors would find a perfect hand in hand moment if joined with Celebrator.


The Celebrator Doppelbock turns heads and gathers inspired attention from many of today’s beer enthusiasts. It’s an interesting dynamic to think about given that this style was born over a century ago. Even with the bold beers that break 15% in alcohol or are hopped with a forest worth of hop pellets, these old world German styles and still be seen as the original “Imperial” beers. Ayinger’s Celebrator will always be regarded as one of the world’s very best, and with any hope, things won’t ever change.

Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: February
Dry Dock Vanilla Porter
Regular Price: $5.99
Sale Price: $4.99
Sale End: 2/29/2012
ABV: 5.4
Rate Beer: 91
Dry Dock Vanilla Porter

After the amazing achievement of being awarded the Small Brewery of the Year at the 2009 Great American Beer Festival, demand and interest in Dry Dock’s capabilities have gone through the roof. To relinquish the large demand, bottles were sent out into the market and a whole new legion of fans began to understand why this small Aurora born brewery is being labeled as one of the best in the state. With an ever rotating range of styles to be found at the brewpub, Dry Dock made waves by bottling only a few favorite core beers. Their Double IPA quickly became a favorite with hop heads, the Hefeweizen was always fresher than anything out of Germany and dead on style-wise, but the one to really grab a large audience was the Vanilla Porter.

Utilizing over 2 pounds of actual Madagascar and Tahitian Vanilla Beans for each batch, the Vanilla Porter is truly irreplaceable. The depth of flavor contributed from the use of whole vanilla beans quickly aroused the interested of all who were able to grab a taste. Extract based beers simply could not hold a candle to the lovely grace of real ingredients. The Vanilla shows itself so nicely because the base beer is a dry styled English porter and isn’t too heavy as to overwhelm any of the more subtle vanilla characteristics. Simply put, the beer is applicable for any moment.

On to the Tasting Notes:

Being only sold in 22oz glass bottles, the Vanilla Porter is great shared. Pouring with a rich head of bubbles and a dark brown colored body, the beer is enticing with a classic appearance. The vanilla certainly jumps out of the glass with a sweetness that draws one in with an almost enticing desire. Underneath the veil of richness, there are also aromas of coffee, milk chocolate, baked bread and cocoa. The Vanilla really pulls each aroma together and creates an intriguing aroma not too far off from having an actual vanilla bean in the glass. Nice and floral, with sweetness similar to crème brulee, the beer is very inviting.

The first flavor is again laden with vanilla but has some structured roasted malt attributes to go with it. Long on the palate with a smooth , creamy texture that is fulfilling without being cloying. Sugar isn’t the main flavor of the beer as the beer is dry enough to be enjoyed casually on its own. Coffee comes through again on the palate lingering into a light finish at the end that gives balance to the thick flavors of vanilla. There are obvious milk shake comparisons to be made but again, the drying porter base helps translate the beer as being an enjoyable somewhat session-able beverage. 

Food Pairing:

The obvious paring would be one with dessert. The Vanilla presence is so clean and bright that it might even elevate certain dishes that may lack the richness given from the beer. Chocolates of any style, cream based sauces and custards, caramels and burnt sugar and ice cream of just about any flavor would all be wonderfully paired with the Vanilla Porter. Taking it one step further, playfully making a ‘float’ of sorts with the beer would be a great way to share the beer after dinner. Savory foods would also be enjoyed, grilled steak, baked chicken; even fish with a larger degree of fat would all be at home. Anything that might have a slight amount of sweetness would mingle nicely.

Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: February
St. Bernardus Abt. 12
Regular Price: $11.99
Sale Price: $9.99
Sale End: 2/29/2012
ABV: 10.5
Beer Advocate: A
Rate Beer: 100
St. Bernardus Abt. 12

The depiction of an enthusiastic monk, raising a full goblet filled with a frothy dark beverage, is known throughout the world and can be seen on the labeled beers from the Brouwerij Saint Bernardus. This image is not far off from the history in which this brewery is rooted. Once a farm that was the basis of cheese production established by relocated members of a French Abbey Commity, the area and ground in which the original structures were built came to be known as the “ Refuge Notre Dame De St. Bernard”. It wasn’t until after World War II that the production of beer actually began. With the obvious hardships that were at hand, another local brewery needed a way of brewing more beer so that commercial sales could begin and raise money. This is none other than the most infamous of any Belgium breweries, the St. Sixtus Abdij or Westvleteren.

The monks of Westvleteren wanted to brew beer that could be purchased by the public and the only way to do this was to create a brewery on site of the “Refuge Notre Dame St. Bernard” or as it became; the Brouwerij St. Bernardus. The beers of Westvleteren were not being brewed under license at the St. Bernardus brewery. The agreement was in effect until 1992 when the legal term for “Trappistenbier” came about. This required all beers that were to be labeled as Trappist to be brewed within the walls of their respected monastery.

The St. Bernardus Brewery was not harmed as the few decades of brewing other people’s recipes gave great insight to technique and balance of beers with so much weight. The Abt. 12 quickly became the most desired beer by way of the marvelous strength and it’s undeterred intensity. Named as a homage to the original Abbotts of the time and the 12 remarking back to an era where the beer was actually brewed to reach 12% alcohol.  These days Abt. 12 is around 10.5% and has a quality all it’s own in comparisons to others beers of similar nature.

On to the Tasting Notes:

While the categorization of Belgian beers can sometimes be a trivial effort, the Abt. 12 from Saint Bernardus is easily one of the most easy to recognize of any Belgian Dark Ale/Quadruple. With a rich dark purple color, a creamy head of bubbles that will last well into tomorrow night and a texture not too far from port, this is a beer that shows it’s tricks and leaves all speechless in awe.

The second fermentation within the bottle gives the beer an untamed amount of carbonation that most certainly needs to be poured in an appropriate wide mouthed glass. Dark at core with burnt sugar colors striking around the edges, the beer fills the glass with a confidence not usually associated to other beverages. The beer is rich with aromas similar to rock candy, dark grapes, prunes, treacle cake and other decadent indulgences.  The yeasty underbelly is felt but only after becoming accustomed to the heady layers of richness given off from the first few sniffs.

The first sip of Abt. 12 coats the mouth, lingers on the tongue and sooths the throat with a lovely texture that is comforting to the senses. While having a rich dessert based focus of flavors, there is a sharp prickle similar to black pepper that offers an enticing counterpoint. Toffee, toasted marshmallows, fruitcake, figs, maple and rich vanilla custard start things off and then a wave of toasted bread, cracked pepper, poached pears, and spiced cakes come to finish the flavor that ends on the dry end. With all the initial richness, the flavor of Abt. 12 is quite varied and even finishes very dry in comparison to the other well-known beers of the style (Rochefort 10, La Trappe Quad and even the mighty Westvleteren).

Food Pairing:

The hearty aspects of Abt. 12 makes a paring of comparable nature quite fitting; long braised meats, roasted duck, French onion soup and high fat content chesses. Going big is the way to be as many subtle foods will easily fall victim to the beer’s dark side and be overwhelmed with the abundant amount of flavors. High fat foods such as cassoulet, gamey dishes similar to kidney pie and thick béarnaise sauce laden steaks would create such a complementary pairing that the typical “Left Bank” choice or ”Meritage” blend would become meaningless in comparison. Chocolate would be the other delight within the food world for a delicious food/beverage combination, Abt 12 has a wide range of flavors and bittersweet chocolate is a delight of a combination.

Given the history that the St. Bernardus brewery has transcended, to look at that jolly monk on each label of Abt. 12 and not think of a certain defining character of tradition through dedication is nearly impossible.  There are accounts of bottles that date beyond 30 years in age but are still pulsing with life. These beers are created because they can last the test of time and the trials of life. Saint Bernardus Abbott 12 is the closest we in America will get to the legendary beers of the Trappiest brewery of Westvleteren and yet, there is not a longing desire for what else is beyond once the first sip is taken. Regardless of what one may know or hope to obtain, this is simply delicious beer.

Beer Reviews
A Mile High Exclusive Beer
Funkwerks Solstice Barrel Aged Dark Saison Ale
Regular Price: $13.99
Funkwerks Solstice Barrel Aged Dark Saison Ale

We have be busy with Bourbon barrels recently! Once again, we are happy and excited to have the opportunity to offer another Mile High Wine and Spirits exclusive beer. This time we partnered up with our friends at Funkwerks in Fort Collins for a Barrel Aged Dark Saison named Solstice.

Funkwerks has been turning heads with their fantastic farmhouse/saison styles of beer. Things have been going very well for them after walking away from last year's Great America Beer Festival with a Silver medal. Needless to say, we were ecstatic when they agreed to work with us on a project of this style. We sent them off with two freshly emptied Bourbon barrels (Buffalo Trace and Eagle Rare) that they quickly filled with a hefty Dark Sasion. The beer was spiked with a small amount of cocoa nibs to add a distinct coffee and roasted character against the woody aromas. After aging for a few months, the barrels were blended with a splash of the base beer to fill the seams and brighten the overall flavor of the beer. After mellowing in bottles, Solstice is finally ready to be offered.
On to the Tasting Notes:
Solstice opens with obvious aromas of rich oak, toasted grains, mocha and candied fruit. The palate is smooth with flavors that unfold as the beer warms. Chocolate covered espresso beans, sticky toffee, dark fruits, black pepper and even a bit of smoke all fill the palate. The distinct yeasty flavors that many of Funkwerk's beers all share is here and really makes each glass expand with complexities. The barrel presence is focused with strength but again, there is no harmful heat of alcohol. Instead, the oak adds a creamy texture and a lovely weight to the liquid that lingers long into the drying finish.

Solstice is very limited and the overall batch yielded just under 650 bottles. The beer is a lovely candidate for aging up to 5 years in a cool, dark location. Bottles will only be sold here at Mile High and a small amount up at Funkwerks. We are very happy to be able to offer this great bottle of beer from this wonderful brewery.
Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: January
Brassiere Dupont Foret Blanche
Regular Price: $10.99
Sale Price: $8.99
Sale End: 1/31/2012
ABV: 5.5
Brassiere Dupont Foret Blanche

The Dupont Brewery or Brasserie Dupont is a much respected and highly regarded producer of varying styles of rustic Belgian Farmhouse beers. The current brewery stands on the grounds of a working farm, Moinette, and is said to have started as far back as 1759. Their multiple yeast strains have been utilized for decades and are now a thing of legend in the brewing world. The historical convictions of their particular style of brewing and the distinct equipment allows for each of the Dupont beers to be traced back to a particular house “Style”.


Modern brewers have fallen in love with the flagship beer of Dupont, the Saison Dupont, and have gone to great lengths to replicate the beer by cultivating copies of the breweries multiple yeast strains. There seems to be a bit of magic in this brewery as their beers bellow with honesty and a rounded rustic quality that is anything but typical. Even with the long history behind the Dupont brewery, there has been a recent movement to dabble in the exploration of new styles.


The first of these new beers is the wonderful Foret Blanche. This is a softer, more gentle sister beer to the all Organic Foret Saison. Foret Blanche shares a very basic principal of being created from the source of 100% certified Organic ingredients. The difference comes from the fact that the beer is actually a loose elaboration on the well-known Belgian Wit Bier style. Wheat adds texture and works nicely on top of the flavors that Belgian Yeasts give, Foret Blanche is one step ahead as it has less in common with the sweet orange tones of Hoegaarden and more to do with the wild and somewhat funky flavors that can only come from being brewed in the open air of an active farm.

On to the Tasting Notes:

Foret Blanche pops with a carbonation that is not too far off from the appearance of the clouds above Belgium. Frothy and firm, the carbonation is active and quickly engulfs the entire empty glass. The origin from where the beer was born shows it’s self by way of the aroma of Dupont’s distinct yeast. The bready, tropical and downright lovely farmhouse “style” is there from the start. More citrus aromas begin to emerge and a somewhat husky, raw grain like comparison follows. Zippy and zesty, the beer is refreshing even before the first sip.


Amazing texture on the palate, the carbonation is almost creamy as it coats the tongue. The sharp prickle from the pepper yeasts and the wheat grain converge the body of the beer into a precise and dry finish. The beer is filled with a rustic honesty as the flavors show themselves without being out of balance. Lemon rind, poached spiced pears, papaya, hay, toasted crackers and cornhusks are as complex in their layering as they are delicious with their approach. The beer is unbelievably refreshing and there is a very distinct heady comparison that is similar to smelling rainwater on wet rocks. This is the beer that makes one feel as if they awoke from an afternoon nap, filled with gratification of life and simply happy to be present. Magic.

Food Pairing:

Wit Biers are notorious food beers as their body and delicate finish gives them a head start for seafood and lighter foods. Foret has a distinct wild character that can be taken further than what one might think. Shellfish, prawns, snapper and even oysters would be fulfilling, as their sea salt flavors would only add to the beers zesty refreshment. Cheeses as rich as triple crèmes, as bold as wash rinds and as powerful as blues could all be met by the beer’s rustic flavors and be lifted from the palate by it’s carbonation. Varying leafy greens would be another great food combo; kale, chard and even cabbage might all have their applications for the beer to work with. A fun beer to drink with food as it is subtle enough not to detract and yet distinct enough to patch any varying flavors.


The beers from Dupont are always favored by a wide range of people; hop lovers, stout enthusiasts, cider drinkers, mead celebrators and even a large amount of wine sippers have fallen for the distinct nature found in all of Brassiere Dupont’s beers. The Foret Blanche is another balanced beer filled with amazing subtle tones that has quickly become an admirable beverage, we only hope it will be made year round. Another classic.

Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: January
Rockyard Brewing Bourbon Barrel Stout
Regular Price: $10.99
Sale Price: $9.49
Sale End: 1/31/2012
ABV: 7.5
Rockyard Brewing Bourbon Barrel Stout

The local brewing community within Colorado is growing at a rapid rate. So quickly in fact, it’s becoming hard even for those paying attention to try all these new creations. With craft beer growing as a category, more people are accepting and even demanding a larger range of styles. India Pale Ales are as common as wheat beers, Brettanomyces is almost a house hold name of yeast and barrel aging isn’t a far off concept reserved for wines and whiskey. There has never been a more engaging time for beer drinkers and most likely never a more enjoyable time for the ones brewing said styles.

Rockyard Brewery has been a small brewpub based out of Castle Rock since 1999. While things have certainly changed since their first batch of beer, the focus of maintaining a sense of simply crafted but still highly drinkable beers is steadily going strong today. With their beers being bottled and slowly trickling outside of just Douglas County, we have seen a range of new styles that can hardly be taken as the usual rounding for a local brewpub. German Alts, Double IPAs and even beers aged in Chardonnay barrels also brewed with Pumpkins and Buddha’s hand citrus. All might have been farfetched concepts just a few years ago, with today’s movement for a larger range of new flavors, the boundaries have been pushed and all have become a reality. No beer better melds the highly drinkable foundation of Rockyard’s approach with the extreme and complex styles of current as that of their Bourbon Barrel Stout.

On to the Tasting Notes:

The initial aromas are filled with the typical qualities associated with barrel-finished stouts. Vanilla, Chocolate, dark molasses, toasted oak, caramel and fudge are all obvious with their decadence. The Chocolate edge is quite heavy, nearly a ganache or frosting like richness underneath the charred oak and peppery bite of the bourbon. While the alcohol isn’t rough, the time spent in a barrel that once held a distilled spirit is apparent, but that is exactly what one would hope for in a beer of this style.

The chocolate transfers on the palate with a creamy viscosity that coats the mouth but doesn’t sit with too much of a weight. With the alcohol only tapering around the 7.5 mark, the texture is lighter than some of the other heavy hitters in the category of barrel aged stouts. If you had to start a night of Barrel Aged drinking, this might be the beer to kick start the lineup. Chocolate chip cookies, brown sugar, pancakes, faint espresso and mocha flavors build upon each other in a pleasing unison. The particular barrels that Rockyard has sourced once held Four Roses Bourbon and the character is truly imparted nicely into the beer. Fairly rich around the edges but deep and long on the finish with flavors of roasted grains and enticing bourbon. 

Food Pairing:

Being a sweeter styled stout, the beer would take a place nicely along side both food that has a natural amount of sweetness or elements of savory saltiness. Toffee, cheesecake, dessert pastries and coffee laced petite fours are the easiest pairings. Big stouts should almost be looked at as if they were on the same level of Tawny Ports. They coat the mouth in a similar fashion and really have a deep richness that lingers long after being consumed. Blue cheeses, the creamer the better, can meet all the sweetened whiskey notes while offering it’s own saltiness on top of it all. The French approach of HEAVLY peppered Steak au Poivre with a nice whiskey based pan sauce is the elegant approach and one of the more satisfying of options.

Rockyard has a good thing going with their Bourbon Barrel Stout. The beer took home a Bronze medal in the most recent World Beer Cup, an honor worth mentioning as that is no easy feat. The beer could be cellared as the sweet flavors might integrated into themselves a little more but given the softer alcohol level and the integration of whiskey flavors, this beer is ready to drink as is.

Beer Reviews
Beer of the Month: Decemeber
Green Flash Imperial India Pale Ale
Regular Price: $6.99
Sale Price: $5.49
Sale End: 12/31/2011
ABV: 9.4
IBUs: 100+
Beer Advocate: A-
Rate Beer: 99
Green Flash Imperial India Pale Ale

The American Double IPA or Imperial IPA. Distinct in style and uniquely showcasing qualities not found anywhere else in the world. Outside of the horrible mass-produced fizz of the big name brands, the Double IPA is perhaps the only other contribution to beer culture that is distinctly born on the soil of the United States. Fairly accurate in the representation of the American mindset of “More is better”, Double or Imperial IPAs take what is usual in the standard IPA and amp things up way past 11. Many claim that the style came from the minds of some hop hungry folk in California and can be dialed in to the area in and around San Diego as an epicenter for the numerous breweries and their concentration of hop forward beers.

Green Flash Brewery is always highly regarded whenever a conversation begins on the California born heavy hitters of bold hop driven beers. Knowing the quality of their neighboring breweries throughout the area around San Diego; Stone, Port, Ale Smith, Alpine, Karl Strauss and Ballast

Point, it’s an impressive crowd to be compared to. Green Flash is never lost in the mix as the range of beers they create are distinct and almost textbook standards of the American Double IPA. Green Flash has traveled down a long road paved with Alpha Acids and the accumulation of knowledge converges under the label of the Imperial IPA. 

On to the Tasting Notes:

While the label is subtle on approach, Imperial IPA is enough to prepare any for the liquid bottled within. The cap is pried off and a hiss of hop breath is released. The beer pours with an orange tone and a fluffy head of carbonation collects at the lip of a glass. Even while standing a few feet away the distinct American hop aromatics cannot be mistaken. Grapefruits and fresh grass, pinecones, honey and light juniper come to mind with the first sniff. The American hops have such a zesty pine spiciness crossed with lemon/lime citrus that are so pleasant to smell. While preparing for a bombardment of bitter hop intensity, the palate is actually quite balanced and fulfilling.

Bitterness is obviously a necessary component for the Imperial India Pale Ales and Green Flash has quite a way of integrating the rough edges. The hops oils seem to coat the tongue with a resinous weight mixing flavors of citrus and quinine, pine and grains, even soft tropical fruits with a spicy sharpness. The flavors are nicely layered while still leaning a bit on the extreme side. There is bitterness but it comes as a desired balancing weight against the backbone of nutty malt. The use of Summit and Nugget hops allow for more third characteristics to be tasted. These are bold hops for sure but have a touch more variation of flavors than some of the other typical American hops (Cascade, Amarillo). Pleasurable for hop heads needing their fix and composed with enough attention to overall drinkability that others just getting into the style can find comfort.

Food Pairing:

Once again, hops can act just the way that tannin in red wine does with food. Savory dishes will allow the hops to pop and give a slight herbal note. Chicken, both roasted or slow cooked in it’s own juices, would not be overrun by the beer and the zesty citrus comparison would make for quite a nice meal. Fish tacos or even grilled white fish can be pulled off with minimal effort. This is a beer that can be met with quite a wide range of different cheeses. Sheep’s milk has a lovely nutty undertone, goat’s milk can add acidity, and drier blue cheeses with lighter intensity can mingle with a beer of such focus. This is a very pleasing beer to drink and pairing food would only show off how nice hop aromatics can be with savory dishes.


Green Flash makes some great beers that were hard to find anywhere outside of California. Some of their San Diego brothers create beers that can be so dedicated to the hops, it almost tastes as if zero grains were actually used in the brewing process. Luckily, Green Flash has been at it for long enough to know when to use restrain but still create a beer that is highly expressive with that west coast character that we have all grown to love. For Pliny lovers and those missing Hop Stoopid, the Imperial IPA from Green Flash should be right up your alley.


Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: December
Trappistes Rochefort 10
Regular Price: $7.99
Sale Price: $5.99
Sale End: 12/31/2011
ABV: 11.3
IBUs: 27
Beer Advocate: A
Rate Beer: 100
Trappistes Rochefort 10

The extensive history of European brewing is lengthy and complex given the different cultures that have risen through the years. Some have evolved into typical pub culture that we can still experience today, some are still rustic in nature where beer is produced on a family’s land out of necessity and then there is the dedicated few that approach the kettle as a way to establish meditation through work in the name of religion. The Trappist breweries are perhaps one of the few remaining ties to an older world of brewing, one that represents dedication rather than trivial advertisements, beer as a special provision over beer that is meaningless and forgetful. These are beers that monks dedicate their lives to represent and are perhaps some of the most well crafted and spectacular beverages within the beer world.

 

Today these beers of faith are made by the select group under the Trappist faith. While there are numerous beers that share the Trappist label, their principals are common and adhere to the foundation of brewing as part of a weekly schedule of abbey life. There are only 6 breweries within Belgium that can carry the label of a Trappist. All must be made on the grounds of the abbey with a portion of the proceeds to be given back to local communities. Sometimes it can be difficult to find these beers as the monks only brew when they need to fill orders and some days only certain styles can be purchased. It has been said that these brewing traditions also saved the monks when they would fast for lent as most of these beers are rich with sugars and could easily substitute for a meal if needed.

 

One of the more selective and secretive of the Trappist breweries is the highly acclaimed Rochefort or Abbey of Notre Dame De St-Remy. There have been religious practices on the same grounds of the current abbey as far back as 1230 with actual brewing beginning in 1595. There currently are only three different beers being made at the brewery; 6, 8 and 10. Each one is higher in alcohol than the last and the numbers represent their respected gravity reading. These beers are nothing short of blissful.

On to the Tasting Notes:

Exceptional bubbles mingle and froth as the beer pours into an awaiting glass. Lovely aromas of hard candy, dates, spiced coffee cake and a slight edge of leather emerge. The beer is almost a dark brown color with just a hint of burgundy around the edges. The first inviting whiff is hard to experience without an immediate sip as the focus of aromas smells so darn delicious. The hops within the beer are not at all a part of what is to be desired. Adding balance without overwhelming the other characteristics of sweetened fruits, there is a slight hint of bitterness.

 

The initial sip is almost overwhelming. Texturally, it compares to liquid silk or drinkable syrup. Violets, figs, dark rock candy, amaro and grapes all intermingle to make the flavor of Rochefort 10 one of the most satisfying of the big Belgian Quads or Strong Dark Ales. Drinking the beer cold concentrates the intensity of the sweet flavors while cellar temp or even room temp allow a subtle milk chocolate and black pepper comparison to be made. Very little alcohol can be felt even as the beer hovers over the 11% mark. The distinct Belgian yeast esters are apparent as they add a depth similar to wild flower honey and banana bread. Quite a wonderful beer to experience as it is just an ease to drink.

Food Pairing:

This is a main contender of a beer for food pairing. It simply is too bold to start an evening with, unless the gathering is with cured meats and some bold cheeses. Blue veined varieties such as Stilton or Bleu d’Auvergne have a great yielding texture and richness all their own to meet Rochefort 10’s stewed fruit like intensity. This is a great time for any ambisious cook to finally attempt the Belgian beef dish known as Carbonade Flamande. This hearty stew of rich meat is just the right thing to balance out the depth of concentrated flavor that Rochefort 10 is so expressive with. The obvious pairing is that with chocolate and desserts. The bitterness in high cocoa content chocolate will bring out the rounded edge from the beer. Other desserts like nougat or dark caramel can add a layer of a different style of sweet to that of the fruitiness that is so apparent from Rochefort 10.

 

The Faith of the Trappists has yielded a product of admirable quality. Rochefort 10 is one of the worlds most highly suggested and acclaimed beers. It seems to always top many reputable lists and is always a favorite for brewers. It’s a pleasure to know that through the world of fermentation we can still experience ties to a place that seems so long ago in principal. The magic of Rochefort and their delicious beers seem to give the casual drink a sense of contemplation.
Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: November
Liefmans Cuvee Brut
Regular Price: $10.99
Sale Price: $9.49
Sale End: 11/30/2011
ABV: 6
Beer Advocate: A-
Rate Beer: 97
Liefmans Cuvee Brut

The arrival of bare trees and distant rays of the sun laying low in the sky is a sure sign that winter is upon us. Hearty clothes emerge from their slumber of the closet, blankets are a constant on the couch and butter is validated more and more with each meal at the dinner table. Before the grim qualities of the darker seasons become tiring, there is that eventful gathering of Thanksgiving that fulfills the moments of change in a way that no other holiday can. Convictions are thrown to the wind, elite visions are wiped away and all seem to give into the spirit of uniting as a whole. At the dinner table, we all eat the same, why no find a beverage that can be enjoyed on the same level?

 

Lifemans is a name that represents a very large history of Belgian brewing. Known for their long focus of crafting a very distinct style of beer, the Oud Bruin (Old Brown) is perhaps the best current example of what has been made in the eastern parts of Flanders. Oud Bruin is a difficult style to pin as some examples can be a hybrid of the east Flanders Browns with those of the West Flanders Reds. West Flanders is a style that is reliant on long aging in oak barrels with the beers of eastern Flanders being mainly held in large copper fermenters and then blended with other batches before bottling. Liefmans wort is fermented in the open air where it picks up resident bacteria cultures that will add to the aging complexities of the beer. Taking things a touch further, Liefmans has their version of a Kriek called Cuvee Brut that starts out like the traditional Oud Bruin but instead ages with whole cherries for up to a year.

On to the Tasting Notes:

Cuvee Brut is a very odd doppolganger of a beer. The rustic qualities of open fermentation and the long aging with pure fruit lends depth and creates a wonderful balance to a style so easily overlooked. Fruit beers are usually not the first choice for many but Cuvee Brut really has a character that is not easily found in other beverages. Tart and sweet all at once, juicy on the palate but dry on the finish, Cuvee Brute is a beer that is as easy to sip as it is to deconstruct.

 

Aromas of tart candies, plums and cherry pie leap from the glass. Deep red in color, the comparison to cherry fruit is easy to make. Not overly funky on the nose, the wild elements of the beer are hidden until first sip. Ripe fruits, baked apples, candied lemons and a lasting lactic pulse give a nice balance to the flavor of Cuvee Brut. Somewhat of a shock to the palate, the sweet/tart combo is intriguing and quite easy to put down: a true thirst quencher. There is a big grape juice flavor and a lingering tartness that exemplifies just the qualities that the beer holds for food pairing.

Food Pairing:

Thanksgiving is a diverse place to try and pair beverages. Just about every flavor and combination can be seen on the table at this one time of the year. The amount of savory salt laden and decadent driven food lends sweet flavors to shine, rich biscuits and potatoes, drippings and caramelized skin, crusts and stuffing, richness on another level. Sweetness is able to stand one step a head of all these bold elements. The tart cherry flavor will bring roundness to the end of a bite and start combination at the start of another. Poultry is the main focus and we all know how well cranberries accent the roasted, or fried, beast of Thanksgiving thus making the cheery focus a great high note on top of the turkey’s flavor. Sweet on sweet works well for all those who can’t give up the brown sugar sweet potatoes with toasted marshmallows.

 

Few wines can do what Leifmans can pull off at the table and while there are many other beer options, this one might be the most pleasing for a wider spectrum of palates. Fruity and somewhat sweet, distinct and balanced, interesting and yet refreshing as a beverage, Cuvee Brut is a showstopper with a meal. With a big gathering like Thanksgiving just around the corner, why not bring something that is welcoming to all?

Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: November
Hoppin Frog B.O.R.I.S. The Crusher
Regular Price: $10.99
Sale Price: $8.99
Sale End: 11/30/2011
ABV: 9.4
IBUs: 60
Beer Advocate: A-
Rate Beer: 100
Hoppin Frog B.O.R.I.S. The Crusher

With a name suggesting overwhelming weight through heft and an abbreviated acronym that boarders on infamy, B.O.R.I.S. The Crusher is a beer that actually has creditability to validate its boldness. This “Bodacious Oatmeal Russian Imperial Stout” has been awarded a gold medal for Imperial Stout at both the 2008 and the most recent 2011 Great American Beer Festival. With the amount of competition each year brings in a category so highly entered, it’s quite an achievement for a brewery out of Akron, Ohio. Hoppin’ Frog is not a brewery focused on the subtle approach, each new beer seems to be a larger elaboration on a previous monstrosity and yet, they seem to always work.


B.O.R.I.S. The Crusher truly is one of the greater examples of the big and beefy American Imperial Stout styles. The addition of oats in a beer (especially stouts) adds a dimension of sharpness and cleans the edges of a beer. Instead of a rich and mucky sludge of a beer, oats can bring a crisp flavor that is nearly acidic. This adds complexity to the obvious sweetness and makes for a more rounded drinking experience. B.O.R.I.S. is a beer that shows it’s hand but impresses you by the line up.

On to the Tasting Notes:

The first thing one will notice is just how dark and rich the beer appears to be once poured from the bottle. Thick like melted chocolate and a dark head of bubbles that resembles a cappuccino. Aromas of mocha, roasted coffee beans, brown sugar and sweetened granola are apparent. Some alcohol arises but seems to dissipate as the beer warms to room temperature.


Drinking a beer of this magnitude may seem like a chore to some, but the depth of B.O.R.I.S. is quite a joy to taste through. Fudge, bittersweet cocoa, dark coffee, and a great oatmeal cookies with chocolate chips type of comparison is easily drawn. Almost a strict dessert beer, there is enough of a lingering bitterness and sharpness from the oats that would make this drinkable in a more casual setting. Again, as the beer warms more hops can be felt as their slight herbal flavors give an even larger dimension to the already expressive beer.

Food Pairing:

The obvious nature of this beer's intensity should give way as to its food partnership. Big hearty dishes will do just fine. Steak and braised beef, with lots of jus, can contain the roasted and chocolaty flavors while still allowing for a variation from sweet to savory. Game dishes would be great, venison, pigeon and meats with a touch of smokiness to them would again be bold enough to stand up to the beer's concentration of flavors. Dessert is the application that would most likely come to most. As much as chocolate based sweets would work, something like rich ice cream, flan or pumpkin pie would allow the oat content of the beer to become the focus.

B.O.R.I.S. is not for the timid or casual beer drinker, but any that might have an interest as to the current state of imperial stouts, give this a shot. Well executed and rounded for a beer of this girth and weight, it is a fine example of what is being done in today’s microbrew world.

Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: October
Samuel Smith's Organic Cider
Regular Price: $3.99
Sale Price: $3.49
Sale End: 10/31/2011
ABV: 5.0%
Samuel Smith's Organic Cider

The Samuel Smith’s Old Brewery is perhaps the greatest representation of traditional English brewing that can be enjoyed commercially in America. Founded in 1758, the brewery is a standing piece of history and one that offers a wide variety of classic styles. The Ales all use water from an onsite well and the yeast utilized for fermentation is a strain that has been cultivated since 1900. Many generations have passed through the Samuel Smith’s Old Brewery and luckily the momentum has not slowed. Many new beers have been added to the line up in recent years with the overall impression of proper balance being a main focus. England’s history of fermentation is lengthy and complex but it isn’t just about beer and whiskey. Cider is and has been a major beverage for the masses for hundreds of years and starting in mid 2008, Samuel Smith added yet another label to their long list of classic English styled beverages.

Utilizing a combination of all organically grown apples, Samuel Smith’s Organic Cider has a clarity and freshness that is not found through other large name cider options. Rather than relying on heavy sugars or artificial apple flavors, Sam Smith’s takes a direction of properly balancing a ratio of real apples. By utilizing a combination of tart, ripe and fresh apples the cider is full of flavor but still clean and delicious.

On to the Tasting Notes:

Pouring from the bottle, one could mistake the appearance for that of a Plisner, with a yellow/wheat color and the fine carbonation of tight bubbles. The aroma is distinctly obvious, fresh cut apples, straw, yeast and a slight hint of chalk. The fruitiness isn’t intimidating, rather a welcoming expression of the purity that fresh fruit holds while in season, it simply lures you in. Elements of sour beers, champagne and single malt Scotch in different regards are all understood and even compared from the distinct smell this cider gives off. Fermentation is a magical thing and it unites these different beverages even as the process is different.

The first sip easily leads into the second and it’s almost a difficulty to not allow ones’ self to take multiple gulps upon the initial taste. Crisp apples (with skin and seeds) give depth, the acidity makes the mouth salivate, the bubbles give a creamy texture on the palate and the drying finish leaves a pleasing desire to begin again. The comparison to Champagne is very close, and while lacking the sharp backbone of acid and the lingering precision of minerality, the cider is able to please on a much simpler level. Cider holds an ability of true refreshment that even some beers fall short at delivering. Without sweetness or intense bitterness clouding the senses, the perception of biting into juicy ripe fruit is understood but only with a sincerely larger amount of complexity. 

Food Pairing:

The pairing of apples and pork is one so classic that it nearly never leaves any disappointed. Slightly chilled cider next to a standing roast of rosemary covered pork loin with sweet potatoes glazed in maple syrup and a bed of braised greens is such a vision of fall that you can easily pictures the leaves collecting outside. Leeks cooked down with a bit of chicken stock and served on buttered toast with coarse sea salt is one of life’s simple pleasures and to have it as a light appetizer with a glass of Samuel Smith’s Cider would only make things that much more pleasing. Cider’s small amount of detectable sweetness would be a great counterpoint for a variety of cheese to work with. Rich triple creams, nutty sheep’s milk, aged sharp varieties and the somewhat challenging blue cheeses, would all be tasted with different outcomes when drinking cider alongside.

Samuel Smith’s approach as a brewery is as strong as ever. Historical styles and old world methods of brewing are alive and utilized though each of their beers. Their cider stands on its own, even while the technique is very similar. Drinking cider can be as casually engaging as a pint of beer, it quenches thirst at the end of a long day like none other and the applications with food are endless. Here’s to another classic.

Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: October
Lost Abbey Witch's Wit
ABV: 4.8%
Beer Advocate: B+
Rate Beer: 95
Lost Abbey Witch's Wit

With Halloween creeping around the corner, we decided on a beer that best represents the season’s change as well as compliments the o so spooky holiday. Lost Abbey's Witch's Wit is both relevant and appropriate by way of flavor and theme of concepts. Lost Abbey was born from the contrasting beliefs of good and evil through beers that could be enjoyed by “Sinners and Saints alike”. Some beers run through the themes of harvests and worship while others take an indulgent direction and represent the more lustful and playfully demented side of things.

Residing near the beach in San Marcos California, Lost Abbey was born from the desires of then Port Brewing alumni Tomme Aurther by way of expand his interests in Belgian and barrel aged beers. Sometimes extreme, sometimes elegant, Lost Abbey has become a brewery that many throughout the country can’t get enough of.
On to the Tasting Notes:
Witch’s Wit is one of the “Sinful” beers from Lost Abbey as the label depicts a witch burning at the stake all while capturing the horrified and/or enlightened faces of those in attendance. The beer comes off a touch more innocent than one would expect, almost as if stating that an appearance isn’t enough to judge the true qualities within.

Wheat or Wit in style, the beer is leaning very much in the Belgian direction with the bold esters of pepper and bread. Some straw and fruit are also picked up making the nose tingle with a certain enjoyment. Floral but not sweet, the distinct yeast gives off an almost honeyed scone comparison. The head is lasting and keeps the beer full of liveliness while the deep golden color allures to the soul of the beer.

The first sip is full of sweetened bread, cracked wheat, oatmeal and spices.  Some lingering tea like tartness continues on the palate, most likely from the orange and grapefruit zest that is added during the brewing process. Honey plays a part, not by way of sweetness but more to the floral notes that come from the beer. The carbonation, again, helps elevate the texture while allowing the flavors to persist. The finish is full of a nutty spice similar to white pepper. It adds a nice contrast to how light the initial flavor begins by changing directions mid-palate and leaving the tongue nearly tingling. Coriander was also added to the brewing of Witch’s Wit but it seems as if the yeast also adds a level of perceived spice.
Food Pairing:
The lightness and long finish brings to mind a variety of different food options. This would be a wonderful brunch beer as eggs and ham or even hollandaise would be cleaned off the palate. The lower abv of only 4.8 would also contribute nicely to a casual mid-day sandwich composed of a roasted veggies, sharp cheese and a bit of mayo to enrich things. The spicy layers would add to the delicate flavors of trout that was baked with garlic and herbs. Even in places that one wouldn’t think, such as dessert, this beer would work nicely. Angel food cake would not only be graceful as a pairing but also fiendishly humorous in contrast.

Lost Abbey has covered the spectrum of beers. From tasteful beers meant to entice and enlighten to the troublesome brews that intensify the interaction as they are consumed. Witch’s Wit is one that can be enjoyed by many even though its outward approach might be a tad harsh. The essence of the beer is had by fully understanding the basic principal of what’s in the bottle.  Thankfully it’s one that expresses a balanced and tasteful example of the well known Wheat beer style.
Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: September
Full Sail Elevation Double IPA
ABV: 7.5
IBUs: 80
Beer Advocate: B
Rate Beer: 91
Full Sail Elevation Double IPA

The Full Sail Brewery has been an important contributor to the movement of modern craft beer within American. The beers they produce are accessible and still interesting while maintaining a sincere foundation of balance. The Session Lager may be the single greatest introduction as to what true lagers should be. The simple approach works best for Full Sail, beers true to style that can please the untrained palate while still being praised by the long-term experts.

 

Full Sail has also been smart as a progressive business, both for the fact that in 1999 they became a company that is independent and all employee-owned, but also for an understanding of how the microbrewery scene is evolving. The interest in bigger and bolder styles of beer is one of the defining fundamentals of many craft beer drinkers. Full Sail heard the voices and has answered the people by dedicating to a large barrel-aging program as well as releasing a distinctly American Double IPA.

On to the Tasting Notes:

Elevation fits into the mold that most other Full Sail beers come. Balanced and well rounded but still on a much larger scale, this is a Double IPA after all. While opening the bottle, one is hit by bold tropical and fruity aromas distinctly characterized as American hops. Pouring with a firm white head of carbonation, the beer is a soft orange color with a bit of haze. Large amounts of pine and citrus related aromatics can now be fully appreciated. Grapefruits, mangos, flowers and some pine notes and even a little of some baked biscuit comparisons arise out of the glass. The beer is heavy on Citra, Chinook, Columbus, Cascade and Centennial, the typical C based hops showcasing an abundance of fruit. Already the beer seems inviting as no alcohol is present and the malt backbone comes through on the nose.

 

Elevation would be hard to mistake for anything but an American made Double IPA. Good hop integration with balance still playing a large part due to the nutty malts that can be tasted. More of the tropical like fruits on the palate with bitterness slowly creeping in at the end. Very nice palate, if a little on the lighter side which makes drinking quite a pleasant experience. The big Double IPAs can have so much residual bitterness that becoming numb can seem like a concern. Elevation has such a fruit forward hop focus that it seems just perfect to sip while sitting under the hot summer sun.

Food Pairing:

This particular type of Double IPA is a bit more food friendly than your usual big hop bomb of a beer. With the high levels of zesty hops, hotter foods like green chili pork would easily be enjoyed as a pairing. The floral brightness brings the thought of poached fish, especially white fish tacos with a mango salsa and pickled onions. Having the malt to balance the hops also makes this a smooth sipper for casual hikes or picnics. The salt from salami and cured meats would work with the sweetness in the beer while hard cheeses, ones with that nearly crumble when sliced, will be lifted from the palate by the tropical hop flavors.

 

While Elevation might come off as a bit too easy for some of the more dedicated hop-heads, this is a great beer to offer those who might not be accustom with the style. Typical of Full Sail, the beer is well made, expertly balanced and enjoyable to drink down to the last glass.

Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: September
Deschutes Black Butte XXIII
Regular Price: $11.99
Sale Price: $9.99
Sale End: 9/30/2011
ABV: 10.8
Beer Advocate: A-
Rate Beer: 99
Deschutes Black Butte XXIII

Another year for a brewery that clearly knows how to stand it’s ground among the heavy hitters of craft beer. Deschutes reaches the dignified age of 23 years in 2011. As a way of extending the celebration to all that have showed support the past few decades, a once a year beer has been released. Representing nearly all aspect of what it would mean to have a cake as a beer, Black Butte XXIII is an amped up, bulked out, concentrated and thickened batter representation of the flagship Black Butte Porter. 


Starting with the year 20 (XX), Deschutes has bottled an imperialized Porter as a little anniversary gift. Aging a portion of the base beer in ex Bourbon barrels and then spiking the blended beer with some vanilla and cocoa nibs, the Black Butte anniversary beers quickly became favorites. While only the third bottling to be released (XXII was not distributed due to a problem with cocoa separating from the base beer), Black Butte XXIII showcases a slight turning point in the beers final composition but still represents what so many have come to love from these special “Reserve” bottling. In addition to vanilla and cocoa nibs, XXIII is unique from the intricate layering of Spanish Savilla Oranges and Pasilla Negra Chilies that are also incorporated. Having 25% of the final beer rested in used Bourbon barrels it doesn’t take much convincing to the excitement of this beer.

On to the Tasting Notes:
Slicing though the thick wax that covers each bottle cap and allowing the beer to emerge from its resting place, loads of aromatics begin to fill the air. Citrus and roasted grains bring to mind Chai or Turkish coffee with a subtle nuttiness. The chili isn’t expressive to the point of comprehension but a very deep aroma of ginger an almost torched orange peel arises. Caramel and even some faint coconut aromas are apparent making the presence of the oak barrel known. Each whiff has a different presentation to the true nature of Black Butte XXIII. 

The beer isn’t one that shows it’s power though size or heft. Rather than pouring like syrup or showing the color of motor oil, Black Butte XXIII has a base that is lively enough to allow these other added flavors to play well off of. Maple, cocoa powder and dried oranges are immediate with their contribution of flavors. There is a long bitterness that lasts in between sips and only until after the first few does the chili begin to crawl down the back of one’s throat. Very well executed with the flavors feeling like they have been masterfully seasoned atop the toasty grains. Mole sauce is an undeniable comparison with the chili and cocoa working seamlessly in unison.


As the temperature rises, Bourbon flavors come into play with oak rounding the spectrum and never overstaying it’s welcome. Carbonation and mouth-feel are at a medium to low level but it seems to allow the beer from falling victim to the sweetened black hole of other imperial stouts. So many great complementary aromatics and ingredients allow the drinker to have fun deconstructing each sip.
Food Pairing:
The beer drinks with the diversity like many culinary dishes taste. Each angle could be utilized as a means of opportunity. The citrus has a level that brings blackened chicken to mind, chilies and the vegetal back notes make something as wild as paella seem a worthy option. The bitterness from the roasted malts and cocoa nibs have such an umami buffer that roasted beef or grilled steak might be just a bit too easy. Lamb kebabs with herbs and long braised lentils are just the kind of food to reach a new level of understanding. Desserts with caramelized sugar, Crème Brule, or even soft toffee are the no brainers for a sweetened pairing. Working in the direction that Tawny Port does would allow for the richest or most potent of blue cheeses to find a new partner to dance with.

Time to celebrate another year. As the bottle’s best after date states (6/15/2012), Black Butte XXIII is a beer that will drink well into the next few years. The raw flavors of oranges and cocoa will be most potent now. As age works it’s way onto the bottles, more rounded the flavors will become. Celebrate one now and many more for the many years to come. Raise a glass and wish a happy 23 years to this fundamental of current American microbreweries.

Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: August
Tilted Smile Imperial Pilsner
Regular Price: $8.49
Sale Price: $6.99
Sale End: 8/31/2011
ABV: 9%
Tilted Smile Imperial Pilsner

Unita Brewing Company out of Salt Lake City has long been one of the only representations for out of state beer drinkers as to the craft beers scene within the state of Utah. The state is widely known for the strict laws concerning alcohol and the restrictions that make buy certain beers so difficult. It almost comes from a place of rebellion that Uinta would create the Crooked Line series of beers. All are bottled in 750 ml. bottles and each one carries a higher than usual alcohol level, especially for a brewery out of Utah. There are some beers that have rested in used Bourbon barrels, one that is highly hopped but for the heat of summer, the Tilted Smile Imperial Pils seems most appropriate.

Tilted Smile is a deceptive beer.  Pilsners are usually the clear colored, lightly flavored, simply produced and mainly mass marketed beers that many associate with bbqs and ball games. Although there are some wonderful beers being made traditionally in Eastern Europe, the American Pilsner is not a style that is highly regarded. Tilted Smile Condenses the stigmas and concentrates the base style into something much more interesting.

On to the Tasting Notes:

With a very large head and dense color of golden straw, the beer immediately discerns itself from other Pilsners. The faint aromas of toasted oats and buttered crackers emerge, with a little lemon peel and fresh herbs. The beer brings to mind comparisons of that of a Belgian Golden Ale minus the expressive candied fruit flavors and adding a stronger spiciness of the noble Saaz hop. Traditional Pilsners by definition should have a hefty hop backbone, even in their mild lower alcohol state. Coming off a bit strong with a thicker body, the beer doesn’t feel cloying. Hops emerge nicely without being overly focused on just bitterness, instead the herbal grassiness give depth to the soft fruitiness. The drying nuttiness of an almost toasted almond like flavor makes for a pleasant overall experience.

Food Pairing:

Don’t feel this beer needs simple food to be enjoyed. An afternoon Croque Madame, rich with béchamel sauce and a side of stone ground mustard would surely be a wonderful marriage. The beer slight edge of hops would add a nice contrast to poultry, stewed peppers, herb roasted potatoes and some grilled quail being a combo that’s hard to beat. With squash and pumpkin just coming into season, the opportunities are large. Butternut squash soup with chives and a dollop of crème fraiche, pumpkin filled ravioli with toasted hazelnuts, brown butter and sage, or buttered leeks with mashed sweet potatoes along a nice rack of pork ribs, this beer can take it all and continue to please.

Full of characteristics typical of the classic Czech Pils only more heavily compounded. The end result is delightful with concentration but not excessive as some other “Imperial” beers can so commonly feel.  Cleaver and interesting, Tilted Smile is a surprise of a beer. One that takes fundamentals that are so easily over looked and reinforces a new approach of understanding.

Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month : August
Jolly Pumpkin Noel de Calabaza
ABV: 9%
Beer Advocate: A-
Rate Beer: 98
Jolly Pumpkin Noel de Calabaza

This is an exciting one. A little holiday spirit within the warm days of summer. But fear not, for this is a beer that should be drinking better now rather than when first available. Jolly Pumpkin’s Noel de Calabaza isn’t your typically holiday beer but it also goes without saying that none of the creations from Jolly Pumpkin are typical. Jolly Pumpkin is a brewery that could be seen as one of the first to have aged their beers for long times in oak barrels. Every beer from this Michigan based brewery undergo a secondary fermentation with wild yeast in oak barrels. Complexities and subtleties are picked up as the beer ages then different batches across a range of barrels are blended to achieve the finished beer.  Some of their beers are intentionally tart with earthy funky notes building over time. Other release are more elegant with the wild yeasts and bacteria giving a distinct and unique layer across the base beer style. Each release offers different experiences all while still representing the distinct characteristics that make this brewery so amazing.


Noel de Calabaza, like the rest of Jolly Pumpkin’s beers, is a bottle conditioned and living Ale. It will alter and evolve as time progresses allowing for a different experience depending on when a bottle is opened. Because there is still yeast eating away within the bottle, do take warning if opening at warmer temperatures. Once the cap is popped, a large head soon follows so have a glass ready. Aromatic full of sliced granny smith apples, peppercorns, cloves, cherry stems and some leather emerge from the liquid. The wild yeast and souring bacterias can be appreciated as they add some lovely notes of dried figs, fall leaves and earth.  There is such a range of flavors that are both complex and inviting while being diverse and challenging, not any easy beverage to narrow down.
On to the Tasting Notes:
The first few sips are simply wonderful. The dried fruits that were picked up on the nose now come out on the palate with figs, black cherries and sour apple taking front stage. Some oak and slight bitterness come out from the barrel all while the wild yeast gives dimension through the integration of earthy funk. As the beer warms the other ‘Belgian’ styling of the beer can be picked up. Spicing remains full but doesn’t feel out of place among the pucker of the almost plum based fruitiness. Tart but not sour and never overly harsh from the barrel aging, this is one of the most perfect candidates to throw in the cellar and try again and again as the years continue. It will dry out over time and the wild aspects will become more pronounced converging into a beer that is simply just delicious.
Food Pairing:
Sour and wild ales are some of the most interesting and fun beers to pair with almost any style of cuisine. In the case of Noel de Calabaza, remember it was originally brewed as an x-mas beer so it’s range incorporates many different options. Some eat Chinese cuisine on x-mas eve, Noel de Calabaza has a very similar sweet/sour combination to make the two fit seamlessly. Duck would be a stunner if able to play off the fig and sour fruit flavors. Lamb curry, even in a scorching Vindaloo application, could allow for both the beer to shine through in it’s depth of flavors as well as the heat to be cut back a touch. Soft ripened goat’s milk cheeses or raw milk hard cheeses need an amount of intensity from a beverage to stand up to. The high notes from the wild yeast and the deep earthy flavors of the base beer would certainly be well utilized.

This batch of Noel de Calabaza was blended for the winter release of 2010. While still in it’s youth, this is a great opportunity to appreciate a beer while it is still transforming. The tart cherry flavors will be larger now with time allowing for the finish to dry a bit and that wild yeast we love so much, Brettanomyces, to fully emerge. A marvel of a holiday beer, even if the forecast is well into the nineties.
Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: July
Russian River Damnation
Regular Price: $$5.99
Sale Price: $$4.99
Sale End: 7/31/2011
ABV: 7%
IBUs: 25
Beer Advocate: A-
Rate Beer: 98
Russian River Damnation

Few breweries can be better representations of the current American Micro-brew culture than Russian River Brewing Company. Built upon a foundation of technique mixed with daring experimentation, a world was created that linked proper knowledge of fundamentals with a desire for an unknown boundary. The beers being crafted at Russian River can range from the delightfully simple to the stunningly unique. Hoppy beers as we now know them could be traced back to the early brewing days of Russian River. Pliny the Elder and Blind Pig were at one time difficult for some to comprehend and now are beers that bring praise and a desire unlike any other. Beyond the love for hops, wild ales, sour styles and bold beers of Belgium have also influenced the tastes buds of those among the barrels and tanks at Russian River.

Sonoma County is known for its high concentration of domestic wineries, funny to think that one of the most sought after breweries is located in the heart of wine country. Begun by the husband and wife team of Vinnie and Natalie Cilurzo, Russian River are producing a wide range of styles that get some of the highest praise from today’s craft beer drinker. Their Belgian styled beers are usually named to fit within the”-Tion” series. With names like Supplication, Temptation, Perdition, Sanctification and Beatification, there is a subtle humor through diabolical names with a play towards the world of fermented beverages. One of the flagship beers is the wonderful classic known as Damnation.
On to the Tasting Notes:
Damnation is not one of the more exotic and sour barrel aged beers that Russian River so frequently brews. Instead, it is one of the best
true-to-style Belgian Strong Golden Ales found in America. Nodding a hat in the direction of Duvel, Damnation is built upon the foundation of multiple flavors at once. Somewhat candied and sweet from the type of yeast, subtle with spice from the zesty hops and wonderfully dry from the Champagne bottle conditioning, Damnation has a wide range of flavors but all are deliciously in tune with the others. Pouring golden in color with just a touch of haze the beer is almost deceiving as to what type of flavor is actually present within the glass. There are big fruity esters of pears and lavender upon a very light bed of earthy hops that make the nose on this beer inviting while still hard to easily pin down.

With a large head of thick carbonation the beer has a great texture and weight. Dynamic with flavors of rock candy, banana bread, grassy hops and herbs that unravel upon the palate. The bitter hops are so well hidden that they don’t unload on the tongue as much as they balance the soft, sweet characteristics of the Belgian Yeast. Even as one nears the end of the bottle, the beer tastes just as refreshing and delicious as the very first sip. Drinking the bottle at a warmer temperature doesn’t detract any characteristics from Damnation as it only seems to become refocused with the bready yeast adding even more of a toasted nut tones to the overall experience. Truly a pleasure to drink, Damnation may be one of
the only beers that can stand next to Duvel in overall balance.
Food Pairing:
Damnation is a cook’s kind of beer. There are so many well layered flavors of its style that it comes off as some composed dishes in the
greater restaurants do. There is always a focus to the beer with little nuances to add dimension while never seeming too intense. Many great meals are built on basic techniques with a focusing highlights and contrasting elements to give depth. Risotto would be just lovely, rich with texture from the rice’s starch, elevated by the addition of butter, topped with a sharp aged cheese, accented by some pickled fennel or lemon zest and then topped with fresh parsley. The dish is soft and bright but built from the ground up of properly cooked rice. Damnation is suitable for fish with a flakey texture, or for chicken that has some nice caramelization to work with the fruity yeast. Ice cream and dairy based desserts would be seen in a new light as the spicy hops would shine over the richness.

In the past history of craft beer and within the near future, Russian River will be elevated to stand on par with some of the greater names of brewing. Not because of volume or because there beer is enjoyed by all, but because the focused individualistic approach for overall quality is never deviated from. There is simply not a bad beer made by Russian River. We are lucky enough to be one of only five states where these beers can stock our fridges, our cellars and grace our palates.
Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: July
Dry Dock Double India Pale Ale
Regular Price: $$7.99
Sale Price: $$5.99
Sale End: 7/31/2011
ABV: 9%
Beer Advocate: A-
Rate Beer: 93
Dry Dock Double India Pale Ale

Ever since being awarded ‘Small Brewery of the Year’ at the 2009 Great American Beer Festival, Aurora’s own Dry Dock Brewing Company has turned many heads. For the longest time, the only way to sample these sought after beers was to make the drive out to a simple strip mall off of South Chambers road and take a seat at the bar. With only a popcorn machine to represent a kitchen and a nearby homebrew store, Dry Dock was a local’s hang out for many years. Any given night could bring an assortment of different styles; Brown ales, Belgian Style Tripels, Baltic Porters, Old Ales or German Style Hefeweizen were just some of the many possible beers to choose from. With an increasing demand from across the city of Denver, Dry Dock made the decision to finally bottle their delicious beer.

It could be debated what beer best represents Dry Dock’s abilities as a brewery. Their first bottles were very limited in numbers and were German in style. It came almost as a surprise that for their big exposure to the market that they would brew a style that is argued over nearly more than it is enjoyed. The opinions are very strong when it comes to hops and some breweries take years to perfect their representation of the style. Some take the classic English route, while others add the distinct America flavor of over abundance in hops which we now classify as a Double or Imperial IPA.

To imperialize or double the usual India Pale Ale can be seen as one of the only styles that we in America have actually created. Many breweries in Europe and England have proudly created beers that used more malts and higher alcohol as a way of pushing the boundaries of brewing. Yet none have taken one of most essential elements of beer, the hop, and made it the main focus.
India Pale Ales or IPAs were created out of accidental necessity. The English colonization within India centuries ago made the transportation of beer quite difficult. The shipping route was too long and hard and often the beer simply went bad on the voyage. Hops naturally have preservative compounds and by add more than the usual amount to a barrel of Pale Ale, the beer now was able to travel without spoiling and became something new entirely. Fast forward to modern American and the state of California in particular and see just how far some have taken the concept.

Rather than using hops for only its natural bacteria killing properties, some of the West coast brewers began adding hops to accentuate their basic flavors. They began viewing hops for the subtle differences in flavor and aroma as well as increasing the amount that most beer usually had. The modern Double IPA was born and what a game of comparison it has created.
Dry Dock not only took a leap of faith to bottle their beer within Colorado but also for that beer to be a Double IPA.
On to the Tasting Notes:
Originally labeled  as the cleaver Seven Seas, as a play of the nautical theme and to represent the seven different “C” hop varietals that are used(Chinook, Cascade, Columbus, Centennial, Crystal, Challenger, Citra), it had to be changed after a silly dispute with another microbrewery here in the states. 

Popping the cap releases a fully engaging aroma that is not found in any other beverage. The DIPA is so much about hops that they nearly fill the room with aromatics. Fresh grapefruit and pine comparisons are immediately made as the juicy tropical fruit undertones follow. Nearly orange in color and with a frothing head, this beer nearly makes one salivate.

It’s difficult for the first taste not to be made of multiple gulps.  Layers of citrus and mangos crossed with apricots and pine cones, and yet very refreshing. Doubling the hops for an Imperial IPA usually means doubling the malt as well and Dry Dock balances the two in a lovely way. Imported Scottish Malt (Simpsons Golden Promise) usually used in England, add a slight sweetness the blast of bitter hops. Almost creamy in nature the beer drinks very smooth and to the point that some would be surprised to know that it was 9% in alcohol.
Food Pairing:
While the style is bold, Dry Dock’s DIPA is a wonderfully engaging beer full of bright tropical flavors that make paring with food a breeze. Simple sandwiches, ham or tuna, and other picnic foods can all be enjoyed without fail. Taking it to higher levels such as spicy fish tacos or braised carnitas and the subtle sweet undertones of the beer would come out an calm the heat. Hops are some of the best aspects of beer to pair with spicy or bold flavored foods and it should comes as no surprise that this beer would shine where other beverages fall flat. The creamy texture and wonderful layering of bitter hops would be perfect next to a roasted pork loin with herb potatoes and leafy greens. Don’t over think this one, it’s that easy.

Colorado is a state known for its concentration of great beer. Some of the greatest IPAs in the country can be found here and yet this small brewery in Aurora took the step to stand next to all the rest. Not only can they stand among the best, they have proven they can nearly run in front of the pack. We are happy to see them come so far and are very excited for what the future holds.
Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: June
Hoppin’ Frog Mean Manalishi Double IPA
Regular Price: $12.99
Sale Price: $10.99
Sale End: 6/30/2011
Beer Advocate: B+
Rate Beer: 99
Hoppin’ Frog Mean Manalishi Double IPA

Some may remember a  Green Manalishi  reference from back in the day. Mainly referring to one’s excess of green (money) and a desire to flaunt the said wealth.  Rude and uncompromising may be the attitude of these individuals within all their vanity and greed of the green.  Let’s say that some don’t find simple cash as being enough, and opt for another form of green.  A green that can display a similar sense of wealth without any form of currency, a green that is bold with volume and increases outside desire by any that care to look, a green found in beer and cherished by all those with a hankering for the bitter.

 

Hops, of course! Those amazing leaves that are dried and compacted into a smaller, more potent form hold their own sense of wealth to those that understand. Sometimes more isn’t always better, but many times MUCH more is just where you want it to be. Hoppin’ Frog’s Mean Manalishi is a beer that flaunts it’s outward bias for the hoppier the better. This beer clocks in at an off the charts level of 168 IBUS! Beyond comprehension by the human palate, this beer is nothing short of extreme hop bombardment. Dank on the nose, with grapefruit and bitter orange rind aromas smoldering out of the glass.  There is no mistake, this beer is ridiculously hop forward, and one can sense that without even taking a sip.

On to the Tasting Notes:
Upon tasting, a massive amount of bitterness is unleashed upon one’s tongue. The beer is mouth coating and heavy on the hops with a touch of sourdough and biscuity flavors  showing through. Hops persist and linger leaving spicy flavors of pine and a little bit of artichoke. It almost tastes as if the beer was filtered through hop pellets, extracting all the essential oils along the way. Each new sip seems to be taken a bit easier than the last, possibly due to palate fatigue or simply for the fact that more flavors can be found within the bold intensity. Outside of the bitterness, a green tea comparison can be made, adding a high note among the residual hop flavors.
Food Pairing:

This is a beer that really needs something savory to be properly enjoyed. Roasted chicken coated with sea salt and herbs could meld nicely with the vegetal high notes of Mean Manalishi. Hops can converge with fat quite nicely as well, cured meats or dried salami would be great options. Egg dishes would be a breeze to match up, something a little more robust like a bacon laden quiche or a chili smothered burrito. Subtle foods and lighter cheeses would easily be taken over, this is a case where pulling out the big guns would be the most ideal direction to take.

 

Mean Manalishi and no mistake about it. This is a double ipa only for the initiated. People on the fence would most likely not find many keen things to say after tasting. For those who love the explosion of hops, this is a beer speaking some common language. Mean Manalishi flaunts itself in a big and bitter way.

Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: June
Green Flash Brewing Co.'s Le Freak 22oz
Regular Price: $8.99
Sale Price: $7.49
Sale End: 6/30/2011
ABV: 9.2
IBUs: 101
Beer Advocate: A-
Rate Beer: 98
Green Flash Brewing Co.'s Le Freak 22oz

Today's world of American based craft breweries is one in which rules seem to hold no presence. Styles seemed to be conceived through experimentation, defined by sheer uniqueness and then elaborated upon by the continuous efforts of fellow brewers. In a time of such game changing styles, it is easy to be taken off guard by the original and near bizarre combinations of flavors that arise in many of the modern American craft beers. Some rely on different spices to create new flavors, others want to mimic the combination of tastes that represent childhood treats and culinary dishes and then those that understand the basics and just want to take a different approach that they can call their own.

Green Flash Brewing Company is not only a modern contributor to the forward momentum of the craft beer movement but also a brewery that represents the uniqueness of the undefined. Located in the southern California city of Vista, Green Flash is a small family run business that revels in the development of beers that are original in style and many times, uncommon. While the majority of Green Flash’s beers are modeled around the extremely hoppy ales so frequently found within California, they also show a love for the beers styles of Belgium. Le Freak takes the foundations that make up the Belgian Trippel and combines an American sense of intensity through higher hopping rates and different recipe applications.

Le Freak seems to be born out of a desire to have the better of two different worlds. One rich in fruity aromatics from the addition of Trappist yeast and the other bold with spicy bitterness from the large amounts of American, Amarillo, hops. Le Freak isn't better that the sum of its parts, but rather a risk taking beer that utilizes the knowledge of those who brew and their love for two different worlds.

On to the Tasting Notes:

The hops are lightly present on the nose, adding a layer of woodiness upon the chiffon cake type sweetness that is usually associated with Belgium Trippels. Some spice and a touch of hazelnuts make for quite a nice aroma. Further tasting revels the big hop dominance that gives away this beer’s origin, this could have not have been made anywhere else but America. Pine and herbal flavors are layered on top of the distinct Belgian styled yeast. The combination is one of contrast, each bold element going in and out of the other, allowing for the finish to be quite long and interesting. Many traditionalists will find the beer to be off putting in its uniqueness but some who venture into the realm of the wild and uncharted will surly find this to be a pleasure.

Food Pairing:

Le Freak is much dryer than a usual Belgium Trippel and the hops help build a bold bitterness upon the foundation of the fruity yeast. Many savory dishes would be great with this beer. Roast beef and horseradish would find a great home within the zesty hops and firm body of this golden liquid. Wash-rind cheeses with some serious funk makes for a perfect combination of flavors.

The bitterness working over the funky rind while the cheese’s thick milky texture is cut by the beer’s carbonated body. Spices are of no concern in this case, dry rubbed bbq, andouille sausage, smoked brisket, and green chili’s fire are all quenched by Le Freak’s spectrum of flavors.

 It’s such a great time to enjoy the beers of today’s micro-breweries. So many new options to choose from and many making beers that is almost irreplaceable. Green Flash is a brewery that stems from a desire to enjoy beers that are not easily found. Their love for the hop is proclaimed with much love and their direction to engage a new way of viewing style(s) jumps out of every glass.

Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: May
Weihenstephan Hefe-Weissbier 16.9 oz.
Regular Price: $3.49
Sale Price: $2.99
Sale End: 5/31/2011
ABV: 5.4
Beer Advocate: A
Rate Beer: 99
Weihenstephan Hefe-Weissbier 16.9 oz.

Located within the Bavarian region of Southern Germany, the Weihenstephan State Brewery is highly regarded as one of the world’s most important sites regarding the art of fermentation. The brewery was born out of tradition, one rich with history and an entity of current beer production that has very few equivalents. Originally created by a sect of Benedictine monks, many claim that the brewery of Weihenstephan is, in fact, the oldest still in production. Residing atop the Weihenstephan Hill in the Bavarian city of Freising, the created beer is as bright and focused as it has been for the previous near 10 centuries.

 

Weihenstephan’s roots are deep within the history of Germany. The grounds that currently house the brewing facilities were once home to an Abbey that also cultivated a hop garden in the year 768. The actual brewery was licensed in 1040 and it seems not much has changed. The sheer depth of knowledge passed on throughout the dozens of decades have allowed for a wide range of beer styles. None can be seen as more essential that that of their Hefe-Weissbier.

On to the Tasting Notes:

The flagship beer of Weihenstephan is their unfiltered weissbier or ‘wheat-beer’. By German law, weissbiers must be top-fermented rather than the typical lager or bottom fermented styles. The Hefe-Weissbier is a marvel to experience, a beverage that exemplify proper balance without relying on adjuncts or unnecessary ingredients. Aromas of toasted wheat, baking spices, ripe bananas and flowers leap out of the bottle and overflow from the glass. The inviting warmth of aromatics that this beer displays is rarely found within the beverage world.

 

Upon tasting, the impressive display of harmoniously layered flavors begins to unravel on the tongue. Toasted cashews laced with honey, fresh baked rolls smeared with butter, semi-sweet cereal and lemon tea all combine to make this one of the more memorable tastes in any beer. None are too sweet or out of harmony from the other. Soft and subtle but still amazingly diverse. Because of the unfiltered nature that is exhibited, a great almost creamy texture can be felt. Round on the palate with a slight buttery weight that leaves a lingering richness on the finish.

Food Pairing:

After a few sips, it seems food was created FOR this Hefe-weissbier. Seemingly any application would be proper and welcomed. Appetizers of crackers and sharp cheeses, salads high with acid driven vinaigrettes, mustard laced sandwiches and baked fish all can find a common ground. The German classics would be enjoyed on another level if consumed with this beer. Kraut and vinegar splashed veggies would find a mellowing roundness from the lively yeasty flavors, Weisswurst, Bratwurst, Frankfurter and even Liverwurst would be elevated to a new state of enjoyment. Flaky fish and other light seafood would fine a home with the weight of the beer. Even smoky bacon or a roasted pork loin would fall under the spell that comes from Weihenstephan’s Hefe-Weissebier.

 

Perhaps the best pairing for this classic would be one of upmost simplicity. Warm summer air and bright sunshine is the prefect environment for a beer of this quality. Session-able by way of it’s lower alcohol but focused enough in flavor to be enjoyed pint after pint. This is a wheat beer to define or defy most other examples. Never too sweet or so dull that outside citrus fruit seems necessary; keep the oranges for the fruit bowl. The brewers at Weihenstephan know a few things about brewing. Their technical knowhow and dedication for proper German styles is showcased within all their bottled beers. It only takes one sip to understand this magic through brewing, and of course, with a beer this good, one sip is never enough.

Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: April
Blaugies La Moneuse Saison
Regular Price: $12.99
Sale Price: $10.99
Sale End: 4/30/2011
ABV: 8.0%
Beer Advocate: A-
Rate Beer: 98
Blaugies La Moneuse Saison

Within the rural areas of southern Belgium, there can be found a brewery where time seems to have lost its impact through modernization. This is a brewery that doesn’t produce beer focused on marketing statistics or graphs of annual growth rates. Instead, relying on seasonality conditions, understanding time honored traditional approaches and utilizing the most basic methods and equipment for production create the beers of Brasserie de Blaugies.

The Blaugies are a family of three (the wife being the brewer) and are best known for their farmhouse or Saison styled beverages. One of which is the La Moneuse Saison. Named after a local bandit and gang leader (who is actually a distant relative of the Blaugies family), La Moneuse can almost be seen as a tribute to times past. Rustic in nature with an abundance of yeasty, earthy aromas and flavors of dried herbs and wild flowers, this is a Saison that could easily have rivaled those that were created many decades ago.

On to the Tasting Notes:

The beer pours thick with large bubbles of carbonated foam. With it are the distinct overripe fruit and spicy esters of Saison yeast. Almost orange in color, the beer is deep and inviting when poured into a glass. Some crabapple-like comparisons jump out along with the yeasty funk. Not off putting or odd, more of what makes these beers such a joy to drink, they represent complexities not found in probably 95% of the rest of the brewing world.

 

Drinking La Moneuse is nothing short of an experience. Such a degree of layered flavors that range from apple jam to musty basement, from fall leaves to wild flower honey all while being within perfect harmony of each other. There is a great deal of subtlety within the simple approach of how this beer is actually made. Hops do not play a big part in flavor but are essential to the beer’s ability at aging. A perceived amount of bitterness is prevalent but never being out of balance with the strong yeasty focus. To drink this beer is as easy and enjoyable as a walk within the meadows on a warm summers day.

Food Pairing:

The balance of La Moneuse would make for a very welcoming introduction to a meal. With its soft nuttiness and apple like flavors, La Moneuse would be bright enough for lightly spiced dishes yet fruity enough for pan-roasted fish.  Fried foods, salty pork belly and even creamy scallops could be enjoyed in unison. The wild characters would be perfect with big braised dishes and even soothing to the intensity of liver or other offal.

 

The Blaugies represent a focus and passion for the art of fermentation. While drinking their beers, one gains an appreciation for all the small factors that compose breweries still on the farmland, work being done with a shovel and sweat, grain being harvest from surrounding plots. These beers don’t taste forced, they are made because they exemplify a sense for brewing at it’s most pure and honest without compromising any sense of purity. And at the end of the day, they are simply mighty tasty.

Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: April
The Bruery: Saison De Lente
Regular Price: $9.99
Sale Price: $8.99
Sale End: 4/30/2011
ABV: 6.5
IBUs: 35
Beer Advocate: A-
Rate Beer: 98
The Bruery: Saison De Lente

In compliance to our month long focus on the diverse style known as Saison, we are kicking things off with the seasonal release of Saison De Lente from Orange County’s: The Bruery. While The Bruery’s tanks and fermenters disregards the rural farmhouse brewing methods found in Belgium, they find a way to add that little element of ‘rustic’ by utilizing the wild yeast known as Brettanomyces. Also known as Brett, Brettanomyces can be found within some of the most complexly flavored fermented beverages throughout the world. Brett isn’t easy to understand, nor control, but when allowed to cultivate and thrive, it can be a joy to experience. Saison De Lente is also bottle conditioned and from the addition of the Brett yeast, it’s a beer that will evolve if cellared for up to three years. Saison De Lente combines distinct old world Belgium styled qualities with those of modern American techniques, while remaining something all it’s own.
On to the Tasting Notes:

Saison De Lente pours with a high amount of carbonation, very true to style. Deep golden in color with a thick unfiltered haze that looks more than inviting. A wonderful aroma of floral hops, cracked wheat, brine, cantaloupe and citrus emerge from the glass. The aromatic freshness is enough to bring visions of crisp spring mornings with dew soaked grass and flowering plants. With all the elements of freshness, there is a little bit of that Brett yeast rounding it all out with an o so distinct quality of hay and earth. The combination makes for a very diversely composed beer.

 

Tasting the beer brings more joy that smelling it did. A very sharp flavor of tart apples, slight tropical fruits and toasted nuts follows the distinct hoppy bitterness and yeasty funk. A large amount of hops can be felt but it’s never out of balance. The lush fruit based qualities layer themselves with the bitterness and nutty yeast characteristics to create a delightful range of flavors. The beer finishes dry and clean, even with the added element of Brett holding strong. Because of the carbonation, the mouth-feel is creamy but without any notice of high richness or abundant weight.

Food Pairing:

Because of the addition of Brettanomyces in Saion De lente, a certain amount of savorness comes forward that would make it a wonder to pair with food. Pasta with fresh herbs and butter, cream based sauces or fatty pâté would all be balanced by the lively carbonation and lingering bitterness of the hops and yeast. Saison styed beers always have a herbaceous parsley or green vegetable element allowing for a wide range of lighter styled food such as chicken, oysters, poached fish and even quiches to be fair game. Cheeses high in butterfat such as Alpine or Sheep’s milk based would be absolutely terrific with some crusty bread, a friseé salad and a bottle of Saison de Lente.

 

The Bruery has showcased what is being done within today’s mico-brewery movement. With an Understanding of tradition and an outlook for a personal creativity, then melding the two with the integrity of both worlds intact. Saison De Lente is a beer to be enjoyed simply, something to drink while welcoming the spring sunshine, without a care in world and with all hopes for the warm days ahead. Seriously, this is a ‘good vibrations’ type of beer; take it with large amounts of encouraged positive sentiment.

Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: March
Elysian Avatar Jasmine IPA
Regular Price: $4.99
Sale Price: $3.99
Sale End: 3/31/2011
ABV: 6.3%
IBUs: 40
Elysian Avatar Jasmine IPA

The Elysian Brewing Company is located in the heart of Seattle Washington, and like many of the other Pacific Northwest based breweries, they know a few things about hops. In an area where pale ales are created as if part of a bitterness arms race, Avatar IPA is a different representation of the classic style with an intriguing uniqueness. Elysian utilizes the addition of whole jasmine flowers in the brewing process to add complexity and floral depth while allowing the beer to truly stand on it’s own within ever competitive beer market. The jasmine is a wonderful addition, creating a bright floral character along with the tropical hops and showcasing a direction for balance rather than one for boldness.
On to the Tasting Notes:
Right upon opening the bottle, a wafting aroma of lemon grass, subtle hops, some honeydew and obvious Jasmine is apparent. The beer pours with a rich copper body and yet doesn't have an overwhelming weight on the palate. Tasting the beer only sharpens the jasmine's focus. Without being cloying or sweet, the flowers add a slight dried fruit component that is pleasing and inviting. Some ginger and sweetened barley come out as well as an enjoyable bitterness from the aromatic hops.  Full enough with distinct hoppy qualities to satisfy most IPA drinkers but yet, still balanced with aromatic brightness to intrigue those not accustomed to the style.
Food Pairing:
The Avatar IPA would make a versatile food beer. The complexity of aromas would pair amazingly well with that of spiced Thai curry or add a layer of complexity to the tangy flavors of fresh goat’s milk cheeses. I would even enjoy this beer paired with a warm loaf of honey drizzled pound cake or sweetened petit-fours at tea time. Elysian has created a beer that doesn’t seem forced or unnecessary. Jasmine is distinct in this beer but not in an over-steeped type of way. The flavors are layered, the food applications are limitless and the enjoyment level while sipping this IPA on a warm spring day is going to be quite remarkable.
Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: March
Girardin Gueuze Black Label
Regular Price: $11.99
Sale Price: $9.99
Sale End: 3/31/2011
ABV: 5%
Beer Advocate: A
Rate Beer: 100pts
Girardin Gueuze Black Label

If you like sour beer, and have never tried a Gueuze (pronounced gooze), do not hesitate any longer!  Gueuze is a type of Belgian Lambic beer that is made by blending young and old lambics into a new beer, which is then bottled for a second fermentation.  Additionally, because of the aged hops, and the wild yeast that are used in the original lambics, the resulting Gueuze is completely unique, and bears little resemblance to most other styles of beer.  The taste is often described as sour and barnyard-like.

Girardin Gueuze is made at the Brouwerij Girardin, a farm brewery in the Senne Valley of Belgium.  Girardin began in 1845, and is now the largest of the authentic lambic brewers and gueuze blenders left in the valley.  At the brewery, they grow their own wheat, and still have a mill that uses stones to grind their grain.  They brew Lambic in the winter, and Pils in the summer.  Girardin Gueuze is thought by many to be the best traditonal Gueuze there is.  I would agree.
On to the Tasting Notes:
Girardin Gueuze pours a hazy, glowing peach color with a light, Champagne style head that fades quickly.  The smell is sharp and super-funky, yet clean.  It reminds me of wet straw, and cider, it is very rural.  This is by far one of the most interesting flavors that I have ever experienced.  Tart and sour hit you right up front, but the elegance and balance keep the gueuze really smooth and drinkable.  It tastes like green apples, green grapes, earth, the unfiltered yeast, citric fruits, and those peppery edible flowers.  It is incredibly refined.  The mouthfeel is a little thick and creamy, which is nicely complimented by the Champagne-like bubbles.  The finish is still sour, dry, and a little bitter.  It leaves you wanting so much more!  I want to get on a plane, move to the Senne Valley, and make Girardin Gueuze for the rest of my life.  Then, I really could drink this beer all day, everyday.  It would never bore me.
Food Pairing:
You may not think so, but this is an awesome beer for food pairing.  Particular dishes can really bring out a whole other side to the Gueuze, and vise-versa.  Try it with caprese for instance.  The creaminess and milky flavor of the fresh mozzarella will play well with the acidity and sour tang of the beer.  Also, the tomatoes and basil share similar flavors with the beer.  Mussels and fries, grilled vegetables, and richly sauced cuts of meat will be nice pairings too.  As for cheese, try Girardin Gueuze with Delice de Bourgogne.  This is a triple-cream cow’s milk cheese from the Burgundy region of France.  The creaminess will go well with the sour acidity of the beer, much like how an acidic wine can cut through the fat of a creamy cheese.
Beer Reviews
March Sale
Avery 6 Pack Cans
Regular Price: $8.99
Sale Price: $6.99
Sale End: 3/31/2011
Avery 6 Pack Cans

Avery six pack cans will be on sale for the entire month of March.  Their regular price is $8.99, and we will be featuring them for as little as $6.99!  This includes cans of White Rascal, India Pale Ale, Ellie's Brown, and Joe's Pilsner. 

Since 1993, Avery Brewing Co. has been committed to producing eccentric ales and lagers that defy styles or categories. Their products are thoroughly American at heart: blending Old World tradition and expertise with ingenuity, creativity and boldness.  On September 2nd, 2010, the first cans in the history of Avery Brewing Company rolled off of the new CASK canning line.  Among them was a new Avery session beer, an intensely hopped and beautifully bitter Joe's Premium American Pilsner. 







Beer Reviews
Samuel Smith Salute Beer of the Week
Samuel Smith Organic Ale
ABV: 5%
Beer Advocate: A+
Rate Beer: 93pts
Samuel Smith Organic Ale

This week for the Samuel Smith Salute, we will be featuring their Organic Best Ale.  This beer is a close example of the early 20th century English Ales, and it is still brewed with well water from their original well, sunk in 1758.  Also, it is of course, still fermented in the famous Samuel Smith stone Yorkshire squares.  British Ales such as this one derive a distinctive flavor from the use of Fuggle and Golding hops.  This hop combination balances well in a beer because Fuggles are strong and earthy, while Goldings are a bit milder, and slightly sweet.  Not only is this a really interesting beer because of it’s history, but the label is in line with that of an Old English Ale, and it is made with organic malted barley, organic hops, and organic yeast.
On to the Tasting Notes:
Organic Best Ale pours a bright amber body beneath a thin, snow white head that dissipates quickly.  The aroma is just lightly fragrant of sweet malt, and floral English hops.  The flavors in this beer are complex, yet very delicate.  Subtle fruit characteristics such as tangerine, apricot and lemon have developed from the Samuel Smith yeast strain.  I am also tasting a nice light, grassy, sort of vegetal flavor.  In the background, and on the finish, there is a respectable amount of maltiness and a mild kick of fresh hops, classic for an English Pale Ale.  This is an awesome beer, it is really refreshing, and should not be overlooked as one of Samuel Smith’s best brews.
Food Pairing:
Because it is medium bodied, yet simple and easy-drinking, Organic Best Ale can pair well with a variety of foods.  Last night I enjoyed it with a warm Israeli Couscous dish that was flavored with lemon and loaded with veggies.  The pairing was perfect!  This beer would also go well with roasted chicken, a variety of seafood dishes, or Indian food.  Sometimes, the best beer and cheese pairings are easy to find if you stay local to the region.  Try this beer with a mild, English cheese such as Caerphilly.  The earthy, creaminess of this cow’s milk cheese will pair beautifully with the citric qualities in the beer.
Beer Reviews
Upcoming Events
Beer and Wine Tastings in March
Beer and Wine Tastings in March

Brad's Last Beer Tasting: March 8th 6:30-8:30pm at Lucky Strike Lanes - Belmar

Our long time Beer Buyer, Brad, is moving back to his hometown. To celebrate, he is holding one last tasting before we pass the reins to our new buyer. Not that we need an excuse to hangout and drink beer with our customers, but this will be a particularly special event. Brad will be calling on his favorite breweries to supply some of the best beer we have ever poured at a tasting. This celebration will be held at the Lucky Strike Lanes in Belmar on March 8th from 6:30-8:30pm. All proceeds will benefit The Family Tree. Don't delay, this tasting will be limited to the first 150 people who register. To register, make a $15 cash or check donation per person at Mile High or sign up on ebay by clicking here


March Wine Tasting: March 29th 6:30-8:30pm at Lucky Strike Lanes - Belmar

It's been way too long since our last Wine Tasting, sorry for that. We want to make it up to you. On Tuesday, March 29th, we will be pouring dozens of excellent wines for you to sample. As always, we will offer all attendees excellent sale prices on many of the products we pour. 100% of the proceeds will benefit Camp Paha, a local charity. Join us for some fine wine, a little education, and a great cause.  To register, make a $15 cash or check donation per person at Mile High or sign up on ebay by clicking here
Beer Reviews
Samuel Smith Salute Beer of the Week
Samuel Smith Organically Produced Lager
Regular Price: $3.49
Sale Price: $2.99
Sale End: 2/28/2011
ABV: 5.00
Beer Advocate: B+
Samuel Smith Organically Produced Lager

This week, we would like to feature a Sammy Smith beer that is a bit less common than some of the others.  Their Organic Lager is a great example of the early pale lagers of Europe.  The main ingredient in this beer is lightly kilned organic lager malt that is grown in the UK, backed by an ample addition of UK Vienna malt.  Most of the hops used in this recipe are from England as well.  This beer is certified organic by the USDA-accredited UK Soils Association.  Cheers to Samuel Smith for sourcing out local ingredients and supporting organic agriculture!
On to the Tasting Notes:
Samuel Smith Organic Lager pours a bright straw color with a lot of clarity and a light effervescence.  On the nose, aromas are reminiscent of lemon, spent yeast, and floral hops.  This is a full-bodied lager with much more malt and hop flavor than we are used to in the US.  The taste is herbaceous with a lot of lemongrass and toasty bread up front, followed by a moderate bitterness, and a mellow sweet tang on the finish.  This is one of the best Euro Pale Lagers that I have had, the body is much more well rounded than some, and the flavors are balanced and interesting.  Be sure to grab an Organic Lager for the sunny 70 degree weather to come, it is refreshing and easy-drinking!
Food Pairing:
That being said, pair it with the light, yet flavorful foods that you want to eat on those nice days.  Fried fish tacos, a niçoise salad, deviled eggs, sushi, a lemony pasta dish, crab cakes, etc.  As for cheese, set up a cheese plate with a good garlicky salami, some olives, nuts, and an assortment of cheeses to try with this beer.  Some mellow middle-of-the road cow cheeses such as Pleasent Ridge Reserve, or Montgomery’s Farm Cheddar will pair well with the delicacy and acidity of this beer.  A fresh, local goat milk cheese, such as Snowdrop from Haystack, or Cabra Blanca from Avalanche Goat Dairy will be a nice compliment as well.  Feel free to play around a bit though, this beer offers an interesting, complex texture and flavor profile that offers a great deal of cheese pairing potential.
Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: February
Samuel Smith's Nut Brown Ale 18.7 oz.
Regular Price: $3.49
Sale Price: $2.99
Sale End: 2/28/2011
ABV: 5.00
Beer Advocate: A-
Samuel Smith's Nut Brown Ale 18.7 oz.

The classic by which all other Brown Ales are judged, Samuel Smith’s Nut Brown Ale is a specialty of Northern England.  English Brown Ale is one of the oldest brewing styles, it got it’s start in the late 1600’s, and was then known as a “Mild Ale.”  This just meant that it was much less hoppy and bitter than the more popular Pale Ale of the time, and was also a bit younger.  Since then, the style has evolved into an incredibly friendly beer for the masses, and while they may have called it “mild” back then, there is definitely no lack of flavor or complexity today.
On to the Tasting Notes:
Nut Brown pours a rich walnut-like color with a thick head that quickly dissipates, releasing aromas of roasted malt, nuts, and wet wood.  The flavor follows close to the smell, becoming a bit fruitier, spicier, and caramely-sweet  as it warms up.  There is a nice underlying creaminess that balances well with the brown bread and aromatic hop characteristics that develop on the palate.  The finish is dry, lasting, and nutty, leaving a pleasant hazelnut aftertaste.  This beer goes down incredibly smooth, and the robust body represents the style well.  There is enough heft here to please even the most serious ale lover, yet it is sweet and drinkable enough to appeal to almost anybody.  Simply delicious and begging for food.
Food Pairing:
My first food suggestion is to try Samuel Smith’s Nut Brown Ale with a true Camembert from Normandy, France.  Make sure that it is nice and ripe too, or the flavor will be too mild, and missing the great earthy quality that will compliment the beer so well.  Between the breadiness in the beer and the creaminess of the cheese, the combination of Nut Brown and Camembert is a liquid grilled cheese experience!  Various meats will balance harmoniously with Nut Brown, especially if they have some caramelization or sear on the outside.  Roasted duck, Steak au Poivre, or even seared salmon are all great pairings.
Beer Reviews
Stout Month: Stout of the Week
Oskar Blues Ten FIDY Stout
Regular Price: $13.99
ABV: 10.5%
IBUs: 98
Beer Advocate: A
Oskar Blues Ten FIDY Stout

For our last week of Stout Month, we are featuring Oskar Blues, Ten FIDY Imperial Stout.  Not only is this a local beer, it is on Beer Advocate's list of the 100 best beers on planet Earth!  FIDY is a gigantic Stout loaded with flavors of malt, roasted coffee, and chocolate, almost thick enough to eat with a spoon! To give you the rundown on this, and other great beers from Oskar Blues, we interviewed their head brewer, Dave Chachura.  Checkout our interview in the article below.
On to the Tasting Notes:
Even for a Stout, Ten FIDY pours the thickest, darkest shade of beer that you can possibly imagine.  Held up to the brightest light... still nothing penetrates.  The head is thick, frothy, and burnt caramel in color.  Aromas of brown sugar, roasted coffee, and warm fudge brownies have my attention.  Flavors of chocolate covered toffee and roasted malt hit you right up front, then comes bitterness from the hops, all rounded out and mellowed by the oats.  FIDY has a rich, creamy body and while the carbonation is light, this helps to keep the beer smooth (like a milkshake).  The 10.5% ABV isn’t overpowering, but adds a nice warming sensation.  This is definitely one of the bigger, better Stouts made in Colorado, and the drinkabiltiy is still quite friendly.
Food Pairing:
Dark chocolate goes especially well with imperial stouts, and this is easily going to be the best pairing with Ten FIDY.  A chocolate ricotta pie is a really delicious treat anytime, but an intense stout will compliment the creamy, richness of the pie.  Use high quality dark chocolate and farmstead ricotta if you can, then you’ll never eat a regular cheesecake again.  If you would prefer a savory pairing, try it with a chocolate mole sauce over duck.  I never said it had to be dessert... it’s the chocolate that matters!
Beer Reviews
Stout Month: Stout of the Week
Avery Out of Bounds Stout
Regular Price: $8.99
Sale Price: $7.99
Sale End: 1/23/2011
ABV: 6.3%
IBUs: 60
Rate Beer: 95 Points
Avery Out of Bounds Stout

So far this kind winter, there have been enough ridiculous powder days that most of my shredding has taken place in bounds.  However, there are always days when even the back bowls are skied out and it is necessary to seek pow elsewhere.  This is when I ski out of bounds, and afterward, there is nothing better than a big, roasty stout for après.  Avery’s Out of Bounds Stout is just that, an Irish Dry Stout made with an abundance of roasted barley and a mountain of hops.  This, plus the overall quality and complexity of this beer stand it out as different, and yeah, I’ll say it, way better than the most popular examples of Irish Stouts like Guinness, Beamish, and Murphy’s.
On to the Tasting Notes:
Let me explain.  Out of Bounds pours black as night with some rusty highlights on the edge.  The head is plentiful, milk chocolate in color, and drops readily leaving a nice lace ring.  I am drawn in with inviting aromas, predominately of coffee, accompanied by sweet malt and toffee.  The flavor is even more pronounced than the smell led on.  Foremost, I really enjoy this dry style of stout because it allows for an awesome toasty flavor and a really balanced, but apparent hoppy bitterness (you know Avery loves their hops)!  Nutty caramel and cocoa open the palate, leading way to that roasty, toastiness with the hops, and a little smoke.  The finish is lasting, dry, and a bit woody.  The 6.3% ABV is higher than normal for the style, but it still maintains a surprising level of drinkability in it’s body and mouthfeel.
Food Pairing:
Out of Bounds Stout is going to be very versatile when it comes to food pairings.  Try it with your favorite braise, or other slow cooked meats.  Last night I enjoyed mine with some Osso Bucco and they complimented each other really nicely!  Especially this time of year, a great cheese pairing for this Stout would be Hoch Ybrig, a raw cow’s milk cheese from the mountains of Switzerland that is washed in a white wine brine.  This cheese has a strong, full flavor from the wash that will stand up well to the strength of the Stout.  This is also a fondue cheese, and your Out of Bounds would go great with fondue!
Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: January
Great Divide Yeti Imperial Stout
15% off all month
Sale End: 1/31/2011
ABV: 9.5%
IBUs: 75
Beer Advocate: "A"
Rate Beer: 100pts
Great Divide Yeti Imperial Stout

Several years ago, Great Divide wanted to showcase the talent and creativity of their brewers by producing bold, flavorful beers in what were at the time new and daring style categories.  There weren't too many people seeking out Double IPAs or Imperial Stouts back then, but Brian Dunn and company knew that if they brewed the kind of beer they liked to drink, it wouldn't be long before they developed a larger following.  And so, the Maverick Series was born.  With time, the Maverick Series Double IPA would become what we now know as Hercules and the Imperial Stout became Yeti.  Yeti quickly became one of the most iconic Stouts in America and a treasure of the Colorado craft beer community.  An Oak Aged version soon followed with Whiskey Barrel Aged, Espresso Oak Aged, and Chocolate Oak Aged versions released in the last year and a Belgian Yeti scheduled to be released in July.  Now that Yeti has become one of the most prolific and highly regarded beer franchises on the market, we thought it was time to turn the spotlight back on the original with a month long sale on Yeti 22oz bombers.
On to the Tasting Notes:
Yeti pours an intimidating, viscous, inky black body with a frothy cappuccino colored head that builds to about one inch in height before slowly settling, leaving a sheet of lacing in its wake.  From the second the cap is removed, enticing aromas of dark chocolate fill the air. Roasty coffee, fig and vanilla round out the bouquet.

Roasted flavors hit first with dark chocolate, and bitter espresso notes. Dark stone fruits like figs or even dates peek through along with a light vanilla character. Throughout each of these waves of flavor, peppery, warming alcohol holds steady. The defining attribute of Yeti is the powerful hop presence that lingers beneath the surface before surging to a crescendo on the finish. This is the key. There are dozens of remarkable Imperial Stouts that display intense, dark, roasted malt. Malt freaks know what I'm talking about. But at some point, for all but those with the blindest of allegiance, these beers can become too much, too sweet and cloying. Yeti's insane level of hoping insures that this will never happen. It is not simply balanced by the natural bitterness of roasted barley, it has a seemingly unnatural level of hop bitterness that scrapes all that sweet malt right off your tongue.  Calling it full bodied seems like an insult. Full doesn't tell half the story. It is oily, chewy, sludgy, they make spoons for beer like this.
Food Pairing:
A case could be made that Yeti is more of a Black IPA than a Russian Imperial Stout as it requires a serious threshold for both roasted barley and hop bitterness.  This can make it a bit of a challenge when it comes to food pairings.  Only the most intense blue cheeses and chocolate desserts stand a chance.  A good strategy is to incorporate Yeti into your food: try adding a healthy dose to your next batch of chili or fudge brownies.
Beer Reviews
Stout Month: Stout of the Week
Dieu du Ciel Péché Mortel
Regular Price: $5.99
Sale Price: $4.99
Sale End: 1/16/2011
ABV: 9.5%
Beer Advocate: "A"
Rate Beer: 100pts
Dieu du Ciel Péché Mortel

Péché Mortel is the flagship ale of Dieu du Ciel, a tiny microbrewery/brewpub in Montreal, Canada that is committed to quality and creativity. It is a bottle-conditioned Imperial Stout, infused during the brewing process with real, fair-trade coffee.  Historically, this style of beer was produced in England to be exported to Russia for the Tsar's Court, hence the true name, Imperial Russian Stout.  To prepare for the long voyage across the Baltic, Imperial Stouts were made high in alcohol (9 to 10% alcohol by volume is common) and bitterness to preserve and prevent them from freezing. 

As you may have guessed by now, despite the name, Péché Mortel has nothing to do with peaches.  Turns out "Peche" is French for peach, fishing, and of course, sin.  Consider the effect you will get from the 9.5% ABV and the caffeine buzz all at once, and that's why Péché Mortel translates in French to "Mortal Sin."  So drink in moderation, and don't worry, if you appreciate really good coffee, and love a good beer, I'm sure you'll be forgiven.
On to the Tasting Notes:
Péché Mortel pours thick, dense, and black.  It has a tall, billowing, tan head, reminiscent of the foam on top of my latte earlier today.  Probably because the smell of fresh coffee grounds is so powerful!  The use of a strong, fair-trade coffee certainly intensifies the bitterness of the beer, and the flavor is almost more like espresso than coffee.  It is also loaded with the qualities of unsweetened cocoa, toasty malt, burnt sugar, and vanilla, hiding the 9.5% alcohol very well.  The mouthfeel is silky smooth and the finish leaves you ready for more.  What makes Péché Mortel so impressive is how well the intense richness of the coffee is balanced with the deep roasted malt, so that it is still more of a beer than a triple-shot of espresso.
Food Pairing:
This is definitely a beer to pair with dessert.  The richer the better.  Milk chocolate won't do the trick.  There used to be a place in Boulder called Blue Bakery that was known for their rich chocolate brownies with caramel and sea salt on top... amazing!  This, or any other chocolate, caramel, sea salt dessert (which have become very popular) will pair very well with Péché Mortel because they have similar flavors and are both very rich.  The little bit of saltiness will also make it interesting, and compliment the sweetness of the beer. 
Don't forget, Russian Imperial Stouts are great for aging due to the high gravity of the style, they can even improve in character over this time.
Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: January
Lion Foreign Export Stout
15% off all month
Sale End: 1/31/2011
ABV: 8.8%
Beer Advocate: A-
Rate Beer: 99pts
Lion Foreign Export Stout

From the beautiful island nation of Sri Lanka comes Ceylon Brewing Co.’s Lion Stout. In the beer universe it is known as a Foreign Export Stout, for reasons which will become evident. Sri Lanka has had a long and tumultuous history as a European colony. Because of the country’s strategic location within the trading routes of the East Indies, it was claimed by the Portuguese and then by the Dutch until the British ultimately wrestled control. For the purposes of this beer it is the British we are most interested in. The British found that the fertile fields of the idyllic island were perfect for growing the tea they so dearly treasured. And being so far from home they longed for the beer they were accustomed to in their native United Kingdom. So in the 1800’s Sir Samuel Backer set up Sri Lanka’s first brewery, Ceylon Brewing. More than a century later it evolved into a Sri Lankan export. The term Foreign Extra Stout refers to a style which is brewed bigger than normal to ensure the beer loses nothing on an export voyage which will typically be longer than most. Sri Lanka is much further away than Bend, Oregon.

On to the Tasting Notes:

Even though Lion Stout has an ABV of 8.8% you would not know this from taking your initial sip. Smooth and creamy are the foremost adjectives that come to mind. In the glass the beer reveals a mahogany hue with a soft pillow of light brown for the head. On the nose this is all malty goodness. Molasses and bitter chocolate permeate, and your palate is just aching for a taste. Oh and what a taste. Again, creamy is what I find, along with hints of milk chocolate, baking chocolate and malt. I noticed roasted espresso lingering in the background as well.  On the mid to back palate I found the little bit of carbonation made the bitterness and the sweetness blend together in a fabulous harmony. I think I might be ruined for stouts after experiencing Lion Stout. This is the real deal.

Food Pairing:

It’s a cliché to say one should pair food and drink by region. But clichés are clichés for a reason, because there is a deep truth engrained in these old sayings. Sri Lanka is an island nation just off the southern coast of India. And while Sri Lankan is nothing like Indian, their cuisines share some similarities. I would go with something spicy. Namely a Vindaloo. In fact I just enjoyed some left over Chicken Vindaloo from Little India with the Lion Stout and it was fantastic. The slight sweetness of Lion Stout perfectly complimented the hot spice of the Vindaloo. Spice and sweet never tasted so good.          

Beer Reviews
Stout Month: Stout of the Week
Anderson Valley Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout 6pks
Regular Price: $9.99
Sale Price: $8.99
Sale End: 1/19/2011
ABV: 5.7%
Beer Advocate: A-
Rate Beer: 96pts
Anderson Valley Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout 6pks

Since 1987, Anderson Valley Brewing Company has been brewing award winning beers in beautiful Mendocino County, California.  In the late 1900's it seems the people of Boonville grew a bit bored with logging and farming and decided to lighten things up a bit by inventing their own language... of course.  Most of the curious words and phrases that inspire the names for Anderson Valley's brews are inspired by this dialect, known as "Boontling."  Barney Flats is the Boontling name for the "awesome virgin redwoods of Hendy Woods Forest, located West of the brewery" (according the the back label of the beer).
On to the Tasting Notes:
Barney Flats pours a deep dark brownish black color with a solid and stubborn milk chocolate head. It has a nice aroma of chocolate malt and oatmeal cookie.  All of the classic flavors of a good stout are present with just enough hoppiness to make it interesting. It is luscious, rich, creamy and roasty with flavors of coffee, caramel, and dark chocolate.  The body is closer to medium than full, and the addition of oats really rounds out the beer for a more satisfying and incredibly drinkable stout!  This would be a great beer to bring up to the mountains and enjoy in the hot tub after a long day of skiing.
Food Pairing:
Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout is recommended for dessert but breakfast sounds more like it!  I mean really, this beer would be delicious with pancakes and syrup, eggs, and bacon.  If a stout for breakfast isn't up your alley (understandable), have breakfast for dinner, or try it with spicy chicken and cheese enchiladas (with an egg on top!?).  The creaminess and the oatmeal will help to mellow out the spice.  It would also pair really well with a blue cheese such as the Colston-Bassett Stilton that is in season for the winter.  The inherent sweetness and heft of the beer will be well balanced by such a cheese.  Either way, "It's bahl hornin," which apparently means "It's good drinkin" in Boontling.
Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: December
Port Brewing Old Viscosity 22oz
15% off all month
Sale End: 12/31/2010
ABV: 10%
Beer Advocate: A-
Rate Beer: 100pts
Port Brewing Old Viscosity 22oz

From Port Brewing in San Marcos, California, Old Viscosity has been nicknamed by it's brewers as "The Big Black Nasty," and they often compare it to motor oil.   This hefty brew weighs in at 10.5% ABV and really is black in color from being brewed with caramel and chocolate malts, like a stout.  But this is a blended beer that Port says "blurs the boundaries of Porter, Stout, Old Ale and Barleywines."  Before bottling, 80% of the latest batch of Old Viscosity is joined with 20% of the previous batch that has been aging in bourbon barrels while awaiting the blend.
On to the Tasting Notes:
Yes, when poured, Old Viscosity is that dark, with a decent dark brown head, and chocolatey, roasty aromas with a hint of bourbon.  The taste follows the nose very closely, yet I wouldn't have guessed this beer to be so smooth and luscious.  Flavors of burnt wood, coffee, caramel and tobacco are highlighted by a beautiful balance of bitter and sweet.  This brew definitely gives a great warming sensation and is a perfect evening sipper for a cold night.
Food Pairing:
Pairing Old Viscosity with food is a little tricky, due to the intensity of the beer, there is a lot that it could easily overpower.  Some safe options would be grilled and smoked meats, a strong blue cheese such as Roquefort, or a very rich chocolate dessert.  But instead of trying to drink Old Viscosity alongside the food, why not incorporate it within?  Pour it over vanilla ice cream or use it to make an amazing root beer float!
Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: December
St. Bernardus Abt 12 750ml
Regular Price: $11.99
Sale Price: $9.99
Sale End: 12/31/2010
ABV: 10.5%
Beer Advocate: A
Rate Beer: 100pts
St. Bernardus Abt 12 750ml

Abt 12... what does that mean? Well, Abt is the strongest beer that a monastery produces in order to honor or please their high priest, known as the Abbot.  The number 12 is derived from the Belgian specific gravity reading, which is much like our Alcohol by Volume (ABV) reading of the beer.  While Abt 12 is no longer 12% ABV, it still rings in at 10.5%, and remains the strongest beer produced by St. Bernardus.  This beer has been produced since the late 19th century, it is a Belgian Quadrupel style ale from St. Bernardus in Watou, Belgium.  It is their flagship ale and it doesn't get much better than this.
On to the Tasting Notes:
Abt 12 pours a muddy chestnut color with a big off-white head.  The aroma is malty and reminiscent of dark fruit and toffee.  It is smooth and creamy on the palate with a big rich flavor of figs, toasted bread, earthy tobacco, and caramel. This is all beautifully balanced by adequate carbonation and a bit of alcohol.  Abt 12 truly deserves its reputation as one of the finest beers in the world. It delivers both astonishing complexity and great drinkablity.
Food Pairing:
Not only does Abt 12 have all of the above going for it, but it is fantastic with food as well. On the savory side, try it with grilled sausages, Cassoulet, or Veal Parmigiana.  It will go great with your favorite chocolate desserts too, or a fine cigar.  On the other hand, this beer is so great on it's own that you may just want to enjoy it with something simple like fresh bread and a good cheese such as Edel de Cleron.
Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: November
Avery Hog Heaven Dry-Hopped Barleywine
15% off all month
Sale End: 11/30/2010
ABV: 9.3%
IBUs: 102
Rate Beer: 99pts
Avery Hog Heaven Dry-Hopped Barleywine

From our August interview with Team Avery:

"Some of Adam’s first brews were styles that the masses should have appreciated. Midlands Mild, Razzy Wheat, and Calypso filtered wheat should have sold off the shelves based on what craft fans were drinking in the early 90’s. Fortunately they did not. In 1996 we began to brew our flagship IPA. However, at that time it did not sell well either. People called us to have the beer picked up saying it had gone bad or that something was wrong with it. They just didn’t know what hops were, much less what they tasted like. In 1998 Adam brewed a 10% ABV, 100+IBU, dry hopped…thing (the only Brewers Association style definition that came close was Barley Wine) as a home brew and all his friends said you must sell this from the brewery. After the reaction to our IPA Adam was skeptical anyone would know what to make of it. He actually said “when pigs fly people will buy this beer” hence the artwork on the bottle and the name Hog Heaven. Long story short, we couldn’t make enough of it to satisfy the demand. People went crazy for it. And an important lesson was learned. You brew what you love and believe in, not what you think other people will like and let the cards fall where they may. Every big beer at Avery Brewing from Czar to the Demons series to our barrel work owes its creation to Hog Heaven. In time, people's palates have evolved to appreciate what Adam’s did 17 years ago. Now Avery IPA is our number one seller and people search out our specialty beers wherever they may be. We’re glad everyone finally got with the program."
On to the Tasting Notes:
The beauty of Hog is in its simplicity.  Hog Heaven is brewed with one hop (Columbus) and two malts (Two-row barley and Caramel 120L).  Consumed cold, this brew drinks like a Double IPA; huge, DANK aromas and flavors of pine resin and prickly, green hops.  Allow your Hog to warm and it drinks more like a Barleywine; the warmth releases the aromas of the caramel malt and shows the malty, candy-like backbone.
Food Pairing:
Big beer needs big food.  Try pairing Hog Heaven with meat or game with an apricot glaze or pulled pork and beef brisket sandwiches.
Beer Reviews
Zeke's Belly Up Imperial Stout
Like a good belly rub, it'll put you in the happy place
ABV: 8.5%

SOLD OUT - PLEASE STAY TUNED FOR NEXT WEEK'S SPECIAL
Like a good belly rub, it'll put you in the happy place

Last November, Chris, the owner of Mile High Wine and Spirits, rescued our current shop dog, a Weimaraner named Zeke.  About the same time that he came into our lives, we got the idea to brew a beer exclusively for Mile High.  Now we are celebrating the one year anniversary of Zeke's adoption with the release of a special beer one year in the making: Zeke's Belly Up Imperial Stout.

We sell a lot of Bourbon at Mile High and our best seller is Buffalo Trace Bourbon.  We sell enough of it that we no longer buy regular bottles like most stores do.  Instead, the Buffalo Trace distillery sends us samples from 5 different barrels.  We pick the barrel that we like the best, they set it aside for us, bottle the contents, then send all of the bottles exclusively to us.  Most Bourbon is blended, several barrels are mixed together to form a consistent product, but not ours, it is a one of a kind, unblended, single barrel Bourbon.  But we don't just get the bottles, they also send us the barrel it was aged in.  And that is where our story begins.

We received our first single barrel batch of Buffalo Trace and our first Bourbon barrel last November.  As they brought the barrel into the store, Steve, our Wine Buyer, said I should get a brewery to fill it with beer.  Genius!  Our friend Jeff Griffith, the Brewmaster at Golden City Brewery, quickly agreed to fill it with his Imperial Stout.  Unfortunately, Jeff only brews that beer once a year, in February, so we had to wait. 

February finally rolled around and Jeff brewed a big batch of his Imperial Stout.  He filled up our Bourbon barrel then sold the remaining beer on tap at the brewery.  The beer sat in that barrel for 6 months, quietly penetrating deeper and deeper into the barrel, absorbing more and more of the Bourbon, gaining greater and greater complexity.  I stopped by the brewery every few months to pull a sample from the barrel and see how things were going.  In August, after 6 months of aging, Jeff and I decided it was time.  The beer was moved from the barrel to a keg where it stayed until November when we were ready to bottle it.  The wait finally over, I got to take home a bottle and give it a try.
On to the Tasting Notes:
Zeke's Stout pours a dark, inky black.  The mocha colored head dissipates, leaving a thin ring of fine bubbles along the perimeter of my snifter glass.

Intense aromas waft from the glass. Prune is the most prominent aroma with accents of vanilla bean, tobacco, oak, and bourbon.

My first sip is flush with heady bourbon notes. But as the beer warms and my palate calibrates, I begin to experience a bounty of flavors. Milk chocolate, vanilla, anise, tobacco, charred oak, and the warming familiarity of Kentucky Bourbon. The finish displays the same bitter qualities of a cup of freshly roasted espresso, lending balance to an otherwise malt heavy brew.

The mouthfeel is spot on: low enough carbonation to allow for a creamy, velvety texture, but enough bubbles to carry this thick stout across the tongue before it becomes too overbearing.

I can't say enough about the superb job done by Jeff and his colleagues at the second largest brewery in Golden.  There is no mistaking the distinct effect of six months of bourbon barrel aging on this beer. Bourbon shows up early and often. But it is not overdone, thanks to a large compliment of secondary flavors and ideal carbonation.  I'll be throwing half a case in my cellar for sure.
Food Pairing:
Serve Zeke's Belly Up Imperial Stout at 55 degrees in a brandy snifter or large wine glass alongside a flour-less chocolate cake, a fine cigar, or just let it be the star and serve it as dessert.

Cellaring:
Like a fine wine, this Stout can improve with age if kept at the proper conditions.   We recommend that you store your beer in a cool area, away from direct light, sources of heat and in a constant temperature environment.  Imperial Stouts should be aged at 55-60F.  Higher temperatures and you'll risk shortening the lifespan of your beer, lower and you'll induce chill haze.  Keep your beer away from the light as it can wreak havoc on your delicate brews.  I'm sure everyone has heard of the term "skunky". This is often a sign of a "light struck" beer.

Zeke's Stout is unfiltered and unpasteurized.  If you are going to age a few bottles, please be sure to keep them cool or you will risk bacterial growth that could lead to a sour bottle.  Keep it around 55F and this shouldn't be a problem.

Ideally, you'll want to buy at least two bottles. One of them you'll want to drink immediately so you'll have a comparison with which to judge the aged one.  Maybe take some notes if you want. The other beer should be cellared for at least a year or however long your patience allows. 

For more on cellaring beer and general beer knowledge, please visit BeerAdvocate.com.

Cheers,

Brad
Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: November
Deschutes Hop Trip Fresh Hop Pale Ale
15% off this month
Sale End: 11/30/2010
ABV: 5.5%
IBUs: 38
Beer Advocate: A-
Rate Beer: 96pts
Deschutes Hop Trip Fresh Hop Pale Ale

This month we are celebrating the Fall hop harvest with Deshutes Hop Trip Fresh Hop Pale Ale.  Fresh Hop beers are a pseudo beer style pioneered by Sierra Nevada over a decade ago.  Typically, hops are harvested in the fall, then dried to lengthen their shelf life so they can be stored and used throughout the year to come.  Fresh Hop beers skip this step.  Wet hops are picked, then added to the beer as quickly as possible.  This ensures that all the essential oils and resins that make hops such a wonderful addition to beer are at the absolute peak of freshness.  The result is not necessarily a more bitter beer, but one with a brighter, fresher hop presence that seems to pop from the glass.
On to the Tasting Notes:
Hop trip pours a beautiful caramel body with an off white head. Sheets of lacing coat my tasting glass.  Hop aromas explode from the bottle as soon as I pop the cap.  The nose is fruit driven with notes of tangerine, grapefruit and cherry.

Biscuity, bready caramel malt flavors throughout.  Fresh hop oils arrive mid palate with flavors of citrus and pine with floral notes on the finish. Hop bitterness is delicate and pleasant, providing a balancing character.  At only 5.5% ABV and 38 IBUs, Hop Trip is proof that a great hoppy beer doesn't have to be intensely bitter or high gravity.  It goes down so easy, I wish they would offer it in 6pks.
Food Pairing:
The clean, floral, approachable qualities of Hop Trip make it an ideal compliment to a young, tangy, and vibrant cheese such as La Tur - find it at Whole Foods!
Beer Reviews
Ommegang Abbey Ale
Bomber of the Month: October
15% off all month
Sale End: 10/31/2010
ABV: 8.5%
Beer Advocate: A-
Rate Beer: 99pts
Bomber of the Month: October

This beer comes to us from Brewery Ommegang in Cooperstown, New York, and it is a great example of a classic Belgian Dubbel.  The Belgian Dubbel is a style of beer that originated in the Trappist Abbey of Westmalle in 1865.  Since then, the style has developed into a strong  brown ale that has become popular throughout Belgium and now in the United States as well.  This was Brewery Ommegang's first brew, and they are now one of the leading Belgian style breweries in this country.
On to the Tasting Notes:
Ommegang Abbey pours a rich, dark mahogany. The aroma is toasty, malty, and reminiscent of Mexican Coca-Cola.  These qualities are apparent in the taste as well, with more caramel, spice, chocolate, and dark fruit, especially figs.  The beer is a bit sweet but this is balanced and mellowed by lively carbonation.  This is an impressive brew that is right up there with the best of Belgium!  It is full-bodied, yet finishes dry and very drinkable.  Grab a few for the cold nights ahead.
Food Pairing:
There are so many different dishes that would be great with Ommegang Abbey.  Duck stew with mashed potatoes is a perfect match.  Game meats, roast suckling pig, lamb chops, venison sausage, and almost any dessert (especially those with chocolate) would all be excellent pairings too.  As for cheese, try it with something nutty such as Brie de Meaux, Hoch Ybrig, or Piave Vecchio.  Enjoy!
Beer Reviews
Our 2nd Annual Rare Beer (and Whiskey) Tasting
Tasting Events

SOLD OUT - PLEASE STAY TUNED FOR NEXT WEEK'S SPECIAL
Tasting Events

The Second Annual Mile High Wine and Spirits Rare Beer Tasting will be held at the Rackhouse Pub on November 9th. This will be a small, more intimate tasting that will allow you to sit back and enjoy some excellent beer at one of Denver's best bars.  We will be offering two different tasting sessions, the first from 5:30-7:30pm and the second from 8:00-10:00pm.  You can register for either tasting session or both if you wish.  We will have dozens of excellent rare beers for you to sample, but here are a few highlights: try Avery's Rumpkin, an Imperial Pumpkin Ale aged in Gosling's Rum barrels at our 5:30 session or Zeke's Belly Up Stout, our Bourbon barrel aged collaboration with Golden City Brewing at the 8pm session.


Registration:

To secure your spot, visit Mile High Wine and Spirits and make a $20 per person cash or check donation to WeeCycle

Don't delay, each tasting session will be limited to the first 50 people who register.


Participants Include:
  • Great Divide
  • Funkwerks
  • Dry Dock
  • Avery
  • Stone
  • Boulevard
  • Leopold Brothers Distillery

Additional Informtation:
Photo ID will be required to enter the tasting.  Please do not forget your ID!
Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: October
J.K.’s Scrumpy Orchard Gate Gold Hard Cider
15% Off All Month
Sale End: 10/31/2010
ABV: 6%
Rate Beer: 92pts
J.K.’s Scrumpy Orchard Gate Gold Hard Cider

Orchard Gate Gold is made from organic apples grown at Almar Orchard in Flushing, Michigan.  The term “farmhouse” explains that the cider is artisanally produced on the same grounds where the apples are grown.  In fact, little has changed since Jim Koan (J.K.)’s grandfather began using this recipe there well over a hundred years ago.  This is truly a traditional, all natural hard cider that will provide refreshment throughout the autumn and winter.
On to the Tasting Notes:

This cider pours a bright golden color and is cloudy because it is unfiltered.  The aroma is strong and pleasant with apple and hay.  It is dry, light, easy-drinking, and refreshing.  The apple flavor is prominent, and is complimented by spice, dried fruit, and field, all enhanced by carbonation.  Now that autumn is here, this is a perfect substitute for the low alcohol, easy drinking Vinho Verde that you’ve been enjoying all summer.

Food Pairing:

Hard Ciders pair great with anything that you might find at your local fruit farm, including donuts, kettle corn, cheese, autumn squash, etc.  For cheese pairings, Orchard Gate Gold is your best friend.  Try it with grilled cheese or fondue.  Fruity cheese, blue cheese, or English cheese will allow for a wide range of matching options.  Here are a few that you will be sure to love… Harbourne Blue, Epoisses, Montgomery’s Farm Cheddar, Cashel Blue, Caerphilly, Robiola Due Latte, or your favorite local cheddar. 

Beer Reviews
Karen's Bomber of the Month: September
Ayinger Oktober Fest-Märzen
15% Off All Month
Regular Price: $3.49
Sale End: 9/30/2010
ABV: 5.8%
Beer Advocate: B+
Rate Beer: 96
Ayinger Oktober Fest-Märzen

Bavarians have been celebrating Oktoberfest by drinking Märzen for centuries.  Märzenbier (or March beer) originated in the 16th century as a response to a German ordinance stating that beer could only be brewed between the months of October and April due to increased danger of fire during the dry summer months.  Therefore, brewers would produce large amounts of beer in March, and set them in cold caves to be lagered and enjoyed throughout the summer.  Whatever was left in the month of September is celebrated at Oktoberfest. 

On to the Tasting Notes:

Ayinger’s Oktober Fest Märzen pours a hazy amber color with a very malty aroma.  This is a medium to full bodied, well balanced beer.  The flavor is reminiscent of fresh and toasted bread, caramel, spice, and floral hops.  It is easy drinking with a satisfying dry, clean finish.  This is a true Oktoberfest lager to drink now, warm you up for the months to come, and look forward to next year.

Food Pairing:

The best food pairing with this beer will no doubt be regional.  Try it with the traditional Bavarian cuisine that you would find at Oktoberfest.  Pretzels, goulash, Wiener Schnitzel, bratwursts, and sauerkraut would all be delicious with this one!  The rich maltiness of the beer also plays well against the meaty, nut-like character of a Swiss cheese such as Appenzeller, which is washed in white wine and cider, or a raw milk, Cave-aged Gruyere, a toasty, salty cheese.

Beer Reviews
Bomber of the Month: September
Monk's Cafe Flemish Sour Ale Singles and 4pks
15% off all month
Sale End: 9/30/2010
ABV: 5.5%
Rate Beer: 92pts
Monk's Cafe Flemish Sour Ale Singles and 4pks

The Belgian family-owned Van Steenberge brewery, which is outside the city of Ghent, in the Flemish region, produces the famous beers Gulden Draak and Piraat. They have collaborated with the Belgian beer emporium, Monk’s Café, in Philadelphia to commission the Monk’s Café Flemish Sour Ale under their private label. Monk’s Café is made in the style of an Oud Bruin (or “old brown”). Young and old beers are blended to create balance and complexity in this mildly sour ale.
On to the Tasting Notes:

Monk’s Café pours a deep red mahogany with a malty aroma of fruit and oak.  The flavor is tart with strawberries and cherries, and hints of vanilla, wood, and lactic acid.  The noticeable oak on the finish must be from the more aged batch of beer that is blended in.  Overall, Monk’s Café is a very drinkable and refreshing beer that would serve as a great introduction to sour beers for those who are not familiar with the style. 

Food Pairing:

While delicious on its own, Monk’s Café will pair well with a wide variety of different foods, especially ones that share the same funky, barnyardy flavors.  Try pairing it with a gamey meat such as duck with a sweet sauce, or a rich pork dish.  It would certainly compliment an earthy, mushroomy cheese like Brie de Meaux, or Forsterkäse, which is wrapped in bark for an extra heady flavor.  Experiment too, this beer is fun and delightful with chocolate!

Beer Reviews
Brad's Bomber of the Month: August
Port Brewing Hop 15 Double IPA 22oz
15% Off All Month
Regular Price: $7.49
Sale End: 8/31/2010
ABV: 10%
IBUs: Off the charts!
Beer Advocate: A-
Rate Beer: 100pts
Port Brewing Hop 15 Double IPA 22oz

First brewed in 2002 to celebrate the 15th Anniversary of the Pizza Port in Solana Beach, Hop 15 was imagined and designed by Tomme Arthur and Jeff Bagby as a celebration of 15 years of “Good Beer Brings Good Cheer.”

Hop 15 has 15 different hop varieties added to the beer every 15 minutes. Over the years, Hop 15 has racked up numerous accolades. It has won two silver medals at the Great American Beer Festival. It also was named Alpha King in 2004 and 2008, and received a first place award at the Bistro Double IPA beer festival in Hayward, CA.

Hop 15 remains one of the stickiest most resinous, most aggressively hopped beers we have ever tasted and for that, we are proud to feature it as our Bomber of the Month.
On to the Tasting Notes:
This is a huge citrus hop bomb with a nose that will put hop heads in a state of pure bliss. Raw, sticky, oily, resiny hops are immediately followed by an uppercut of hop bitterness. With all that complex hop flavor, its easy to believe 15 different varieties were added. No balance here, not for the faint of heart: Hop Lovers Only.
Beer Reviews
Stone Imperial Russian Stout
Mile High Bomber Of The Month: July 2010
15% off All July
Sale End: 7/31/2010
ABV: 10%
Rate Beer: 100pts
Mile High Bomber Of The Month: July 2010

We're bringing you Christmas in July with a sale on the ultra decadent Stone Imperial Russian Stout.  This is the highest rated beer in the Stone portfolio: 100pts Rate Beer, "A: Outstanding" Beer Advocate, #30 on Beer Advocates list of the Best Beers on Planet Earth.   Why an Imperial Russian Stout in Summer?  As Stone CEO Greg Koch says, "What better than a warm time of year to come out with a brew that tastes great as it warms up!"  Serve Stone IRS at 55 degrees for maximum enjoyment or take advantage of this great price to stock your cellar with one of the best aging beers on the market.
Beer Reviews
Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA
Bomber of the Month: June 2010
15% off All June
Sale End: 6/30/2010
ABV: 7%
IBUs: 75+
Rate Beer: 99
Bomber of the Month: June 2010

This is a full bodied beer using American hops and grains. The goal was to create a base for showing off the unique floral qualities of two Pacific Northwest hops, Columbus and Cascade. Columbus is a new hybrid High Alpha Acid hop used mostly for bittering, but used heavily as an aromatic in this strong brew. Cascade is the balance that ties the malt and bittering hops together.  We want you to try Racer 5 and learn why it is one of the most highly-rated IPAs in the country.  That's why we're featuring it on sale for the month of June.  Enjoy!

 

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