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Clusterfork at The Bruery

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Clusterfork, have you heard of it? It’s a great event that’s hosted at The Bruery in Placentia where they open their vault and pour you a taste of some of their aged beers and current special offerings.  It’s a great bottle share event too, you get to bring two beers of your liking and get to hang with like-minded beer people.  Earlier in the year I received an invitation and couldn’t make it due to prior engagements, but after attending the most recent event if that invite comes again, I will not be declining; I’m even considering a Society membership.  The invitation for Clusterfork came from a dear friend and fellow beer aficionado Dale, we’ve attended a few beer festivals and special events together and we’ve had our share of good and not so good beer.  Thanks again Dale!

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The was a total of eight beers to taste and with the option to come back and get a ninth pour of your favorite.  The Bruery selections were Oude Tart 11 & 13, Pinotlambicus, Bryeian, Windowsill, Cacaonut, White Chocolate 2013, and Chocolate Rain.  All the sours I had were great and my favorite was Oude Tart 11, obviously being aged longer than the 13 the flavors were more subtle and balanced, but you could still taste all the great flavors of grape, citrus, vinegar, and oak.

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I was worried about what to bring to an event like this one after going online and looking for pictures to give me an idea of what exactly folks were taking to share.  After I searched, I found a picture of a Barley Wine Style Ale made by a brewery called Blind Pig out of Temecula California that was brewed in 1994; we all know the story of Blind Pig and how it ends and resurfaces right?  If not click here to figure it out.  After seeing the picture of a 94 bottle of Blind Pig Brewing, I was thinking fuck, I don’t have anything that special!  I looked through my cellar and found two bottles of the same beer that was brewed two different years and I thought, I definitely have something special to share.  They were bottles of The Abyss from 2007 and 2009 Imperial Stouts aged in bourbon barrels and brewed by Deschutes Brewing; they have a wax seal that makes them look sexy.  The bottle of 2007 (aged six years) had a nice smoked oak flavor to it mixed with figs, licorice, and roasted malt.  The 2009 (aged four years) was brighter, not as dark in the flavor, but still had great flavors of vanilla, chocolate, and dark dry fruits.

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I captured about 95% of what I had a chance to taste that day and it’s all below.

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There’s evidence in my picture roll that I took a break to eat right around here and the food was provided with the purchase of the event ticket.  The Viking Truck was serving delicious dogs and I don’t recall the name of the one I had (pictured below), but it was hella good and came with the best tater tots I’ve ever had, they were perfectly crunchy. Thanks guys!

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I started taking pictures and jotted down some notes after each taste, but I had to stop myself as I was having lots of fun and I told myself only pictures will do.  I didn’t take any notes for the beers I sampled that are pictured below, but they turned out to be my favorites.  Mexican Cake, a Barrel Aged Imperial Stout that’s made by Westbrook Brewing Co in South Carolina, was by far my favorite of the evening.  The stout had a nice aroma with fantastic flavor of vanilla, dark chocolate, cinnamon, coffee, and just enough heat from peppers; simply delicious and I need to get a few bottles of this!  One of the things that I found odd was the disclaimer at the top of the label, “Product of the USA”, as if to warn idiots and proud Americans that they weren’t drinking a beer from south of the border.  My second favorite was Rare Bourbon County Stout by Goose Island out of Chicago.  This is a very hard to find beer and I even had to go online to make sure it was true, but I overheard someone say that they’ve seen a few of these bottles on the auction block for over $200 a bottle and they were right.  This last stout was too very delicious, lots of caramel, vanilla, toffee, butterscotch, oak, and you guessed it, bourbon.

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I didn’t have a clue on what to expect nor did I ever think it would be fun to be around so many beer enthusiasts or aficionados, whatever you want to call us, but please don’t call me a “beer nerd”, it drives me nuts!  It was a great event and I had a chance to try a serious lot of great tasting beer, some that came from different corners of the US and even Europe.  A setting provided like the one at The Bruery for Clusterfork puts you together with people that are eager to share a small pour of a beloved beer they’ve had hidden in their home cellar for years.  I love being a part of a community of beer drinkers who drink to appreciate great flavors and when given the chance, to share a bit of beer and knowledge with others.  Hope to see you at a Clusterfork soon.

Throw one back for me ~ cheers!

 
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Posted by on October 5, 2013 in Beer Outings

 

Tramp Stamp

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Tramp Stamp is a Belgian-style IPA from Clown Shoes which brews out of Ipswich Massachusetts.  In recent months I started noticing bottles from Clown Shoes on the shelves of the shops I frequent.  Clown Shoes is not an expensive beer and having a variety available is a good thing as I’ve now had about four or five different beers from them and I don’t have a bad thing to say about what I’ve tasted.  Sometime last year  I reviewed Hoppy Feet 1.5, a Double Black IPA I got in a trade and was released to commemorate their One Year Anniversary.  I gave Hoppy Feet 1.5, Five out of Five Beer Caps as I really loved the beer; check out the post here.  I think of Clown Shoes as a fun brewery especially with the clever names they come up for their beers like Muffin Top, Chocolate Sombrero, and Tramp Stamp.

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The aroma of this beer is a mix of orange peel and ripe peaches, very summerlike and refreshing and with the biscuit and yeast funk present, it stays true to it’s Belgian roots.  Much of what is in the aroma can be tasted, like the orange peel and peaches with a hop bitterness up front and just enough malt to round the sip.  This beer is really delicious, it has the body of a wheat ale and is extremely refreshing.  Tramp Stamp has a bubbly tangy mouthfeel from the carbonation and you’ll get a smooth bitter finish after it washes down.  I enjoyed drinking this beer and it’s too bad it comes in a four pack instead of six.  These cute four packs really drive me nuts and it’s become a standard of so many breweries; just make a six pack and make me pay for six bottles, cut the cute packaging.  I know I can’t be the only one who’s had this thought right? 

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Tramp Stamp is good, refreshing, and has great flavors, I recommend you pick some up before you head out back to start grilling this weekend.  Three out of Five Beer Caps for the Tramp!

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Posted by on July 17, 2013 in Empty Bottles

 

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Furious IPA

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The love affair I’ve had for years with IPA’s continues and today I’m reviewing yet another. I drink all sorts of styles, but I can’t seem to get away from IPA’s. When I get to the bar, an IPA is what I look for on a tap list and even look for them when I go beer shopping, it really is a favorite style of mine. Years ago, when I first got into this craft beer thing, I received a package from Michigan that my bud Steve sent me and it contained a few bottles of Hopslam by Bell’s Brewing. Even though Hopslam is a Double IPA, it was very drinkable for my novice palate and made me realize how beer can be complex and have great flavor like you’ve never experienced during your yellow piss water days.  Here’s the reason for all the talk about my love for IPA’s in case you haven’t figured it out by the title or pictures, I’m reviewing Furious IPA by Surly Brewing.

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Surly Brewing is one of many breweries that can their beer and in recent years, some of the newer breweries are opting for this method to store their suds; this is a great idea I approve of simply for the recycling factor.  Furious IPA is an American style IPA with an aroma of hops, malt, citrus and surprisingly alcohol, surprising because it comes in only at 6.2% ABV; aroma unmistakably of an IPA. Furious pours a nice dark copper color and has a medium body with medium carbonation. You’ll experience a smooth and delicious flavor for this non-aggressive IPA, but still very hop forward and bitter. The malt in this IPA nicely rounds the sip with those sweet toasted notes and will have a dry citric finish.

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In the past few months I’ve had the ability to purchase beers from Surly Brewing, sadly it doesn’t ship to California, but luckily a local spot has the hook up for their beers.  I’ve had a chance to drink Bitter Brewer, Bender, Coffee Bender, Overrated West Coast IPA, and Furious IPA, a few from their line-up and based on what I’ve had so far, Surly Brewing makes great tasting beers.  I wish I’d bought more of the Furious IPA as this one is up there with the rest of the Four Beer Cap IPA’s I’ve had; pick one up or any of the ones I mentioned above.

Rating4

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Posted by on July 5, 2013 in Empty Bottles

 

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The Falcon IPA

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My first visit to Beachwood BBQ in Long Beach was over two years ago, my wife Alicia, took me there for lunch on my birthday; they also have a location in Seal Beach. I don’t recall specifically what I had that day, but I know it was a pulled pork sandwich and a few good brews. I was in Long Beach in recent days having lunch with family just down the street from Beachwood BBQ, and I thought it would be good to go pick up some beer. I was in the mood for an IPA and got a chance to sample two of them, the Melrose, labeled a West Coast IPA and The Falcon, an American IPA; both were delicious, but I filled my growler with The Falcon IPA.

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I poured myself some of the beer the next day in one of my new IPA glassware, the beer had a nice amber color. The aroma of The Falcon IPA had sweet notes of malt and bright floral citrus notes, but the pungent hop aroma dominates. The sip is very refreshing, it’s a hop bomb! Low carbonation with a small amount of malt sweetness up front and it’s all hop from there. Citrus, pine, and tropical fruits mix nicely to create an intense hop flavor while a bitter citric rind aftertaste will remain after the wash.

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I really enjoyed drinking this beer and it’s too bad that I don’t live near Beachwood BBQ as I know I’d be there frequently, eating and drinking. I’ve been thinking of going back very soon to have a meal there and to fill my growler with more delicious beers. If you’re in the area, cheek them and out and get a pint of The Falcon, it was 4 out 5 Beer Caps delicious!

Rating4

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Posted by on May 21, 2013 in Empty Bottles

 

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Jai Alai IPA

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Jai Alai is brewed by Cigar City Brewing in Tampa, Florida. Cigar City Brewing showed up on my radar when I first read an article online about a small brewery out of Florida, weeks later I began to notice beers from this brewery when my CervezaPlease Instagram contacts were posting pictures of their beers and I noticed their labels. Cigar City is taking a “local” approach if you will, when it comes to brewing as I understand, but in a broader way as they try to brew and present to you regional flavors typical of Florida. They have become very popular among my online beer circles and have garnered lots of accolades in a short period, but judging from the liquid that can came in the can, it’s rightfully so.

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The aroma in this beer was what I expect from an IPA, pungent hops, citrus, mixed with a bit of fruit and lots of earthy malt; a very nice balance of citrus and hop fill the nose. A nice bright copper color filled the glass when poured. Medium to high carbonation will tickle the tongue. The flavor was delicious, citrus in the sip, grapefruit, with a malt backbone, finished by a lemon peel bitterness; stupendous!

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This is not a West Coast IPA, let me categorize it as we tend do with everything else in this country, it’s more of a Midwest/Michigan style IPA where the malt crashes the party and marries the hops. In my opinion, any style of beer can be enjoyed any time of year, but if you can pick this one up this Spring and upcoming Summer it will be a delicious resfreshment that will quench your thirst. I have another can on deck to pop open soon, can’t wait. A solid IPA by Cigar City, Four Beer Caps.

Rating4

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Posted by on May 8, 2013 in Empty Bottles

 

Rogue’s Irish Style Lager

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My wife and two year old daughter, Little O, have a traceable amount of Irish in their DNA and I’m a full blooded Mexican who’s never participated in drinking green beer and the most St. Patrick’s day celebrating I’ve done is to wear my green Notre Dame shirt. Since we have Irish DNA in the family, I thought I’d do a little celebrating this year, but I won’t go drinking green beer, instead, I’ll post something related to St. Patrick’s Day as it’s become synonymous with drinking beer and gave me an excuse to try a bottle of Irish Style lager by a famous brewery out of Oregon you probably all know, Rogue Ales. The inspiration for the beer came about when Rogue brewers wanted to make a beer that can float Guinness. I like finding out about the minutiae when reading about a beer. You?

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The lager had a very simple flavor and aroma. The beer had a bit of a metallic aroma that was not present in the taste and the rest was all hops. Citrus peel flavor (lemon) mixed with some piney-ness from the hops and I got a bit of the apple, Granny Smith, which was described in the bottle. I had about 5 ounces at room temperature and nothing of what I described previously changed.

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My current rating system is of whole Beer Caps and from time to time, I’ve thought about adding Half Caps for beers like this one. I’d rate the beer at 2.5, but since I don’t have that system implemented yet and to be fair to my trade, I’ll give it Three Beer Caps. This is as I mentioned, a very simplistic beer and that’s how I’ll keep my closing argument. I hope you enjoy and have a safe St. Patrick’s Day!

Rating4

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Posted by on March 17, 2013 in Empty Bottles

 

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Brux

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Hola fellow beer drinkers, we are gathered here today to talk about the recent bottle of suds I explored, Brux, as in the Brettanomyces Bruxellensis yeast (don’t name your kid that!). Brux is a Belgian-style ale collaboration between Russian River Brewing and Sierra Nevada Brewing and I’m sure all of you are acquainted with these two breweries. Russian River Brewing continues to be highly regarded among craft beer circles whereas Sierra Nevada Brewing’s success at times gets them brushed as a macro brewer. I enjoy drinking beers from both breweries, in fact I like that Sierra Nevada is so accessible and I can walk into any grocer and pick up a case or six of their beers. Russian River beers on the other hand, can be a pain in the ass to find because of their limited availability and distribution.

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The ale had a very simple aroma of citrus and banana mixed with the wild yeast funk. An aromatically pleasing ale that has a refreshing sip of bright citrus notes with banana and pear flavors, these last two add subtle hints of sweetness. You also get a bit of a grassy flavor with enough tartness to finish the sip; very enjoyable. The ale’s moderate carbonation wraps your tongue in all those pleasing flavors I describe. I enjoyed drinking this beer very much and turned out to be a nice pairing with the dinner I made that day. I have additional pictures below.

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This Belgian-style ale has nice bright flavors, but nothing too overpowering and can easily be paired with lots of your home made dishes. For dinner this day I made a balsamic vinegar roasted chicken and a side dish of roasted root vegetables seasoned with salt, pepper, and rosemary, a very earthy dish that married well with the ale flavors. Overall the beer had great flavors but I was left hanging, wishing, waiting for those faint notes of pear and banana to crash the party. Four Beer Caps, it’s almost an excellent beer and I shall be buying one to cellar; let’s see if age will grant the extra Beer Cap.

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Posted by on March 4, 2013 in Beer & Food, Empty Bottles

 

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