September 30, 2009

Great American Beer Festival Winners - Congratulations!

The Great American Beer Festival was held September 24 - 26 in Denver, CO. While I didn't go this year, you can bet I'll be there next year.

Pennsylvania did us proud by coming in 5th in number of overall medals (or 4th, depending, apparently, on where the Iron Hill brews were credited to - either PA or DE) with 12 (although, with the Iron Hill beers we took 14, which is what puts us in 4th). PA was the only non-west coast winner in the top 5. I call that an amazing feat! A big congratulations to all!

You can see the full list of PA winners here. If you're interested in the Delaware Valley winners, you can find them here. And finally, if you want to see all the winners, look no further than here.

I'd also like to send a big congratulations to Flying Dog Brewery in Frederick, MD and Robert Malone (the brewer) for winning the 2009 Mid-Size Brewing Company and Mid-Size Brewing Company Brewer of the Year! They were the only non-west coast brewery to win in the brewing company or brewpub category. I've had their beers (and have written about them) and know that they are deserving of this recognition! Great job, guys!

September 27, 2009

Green Flash West Coast IPA

I'd like to note that today is Yom Kippur. I'm not religious and haven't done anything even remotely religious in many years, but for some reason today I felt the need to try and fast. It's 3:38 right now, which means there's about 4 more hours until I'm going to eat. I won't lie - I did have a bowl of cereal this morning at 9:30. Still, that's many more hours than I typically go without eating. So if this post seems rambling or incoherent, I'm going to blame it on the lack of food in me.

I'm also watching The Happening. It's like a train wreck. It's not at all good (sorry, M. Night. You're a Philly boy and I love you, but this is just not up to par with The 6th Sense), but I can't turn away from it. And the worse it gets, the more I want to watch.

I feel like I should be reviewing a He'brew beer today, but I haven't yet had one so I can't do that. Instead I'll talk about Green Flash West Coast IPA. I've had it before, but had it most recently on Saturday at Isaac Newton's, which was part of an IPA lunch hosted by Lew Bryson. What a fun afternoon!

This IPA is quite bitter. So you can imagine this review is going to be quite good. It pours a nice coppery, orange color. The smell is what I love best (next to the taste): distinctly hoppy - citrusy and piney and just all over wonderful. The taste is nothing less than exceptional. All citrus and pine and earth with a nice caramely sweet finish. It's such a great beer - I could drink it all day, even with it's 7% ABV. Actually, I'm surprised - this is much lower than I thought it would be given the hoppy flavor of the beer.

I may have mentioned this before, so forgive me if it seems that I'm bragging. I'm going to San Diego in November (Eagles v. Chargers!) and am doing a brewery tour. I'm so lucky because Green Flash Brewery is one of the stops (along with San Diego Brewing Co and the incredible Ballast Point). Can't wait to do some reviews after that little trip.

September 17, 2009

Moylan's Hopsickle Imperial Triple Hoppy Ale

Got news through Facebook (seems how I get a lot of news these days) that the great bar Isaac Newton's in Newtown would be tapping a keg of Moylan's Hopsickle Imperial Triple Hoppy Ale. An imperial hoppy ale? Moylan's speaks my language. Also, I grew up in Bucks County and while I've been to Isaac Newton's many, many times, I don't go as often as I might like given that I have to worry about getting myself home afterwards.

The beer made the trip - and the (sober!) drive home - well worth it. Need I mention that the beer is a nice, deep amber color? There's a nice hop smell - citrusy, grapefruity, piny - with a hint of caramel in the background.

The hops are plentiful in the taste, too. Having said that, the taste is nicely balanced with the malt so as strong as it is, it's still drinkable. It's definitely one of the most bitter beers I've had, but because I like my beers bitter, I don't have a problem with it.

This is a strong beer. You can tell that from the smell and the taste, and reading it should come as no surprise - 9.2%. Not a session beer, but one worth a try if you're in to intensely hoppy beers.

One note on imperial IPAs. "Imperial" is a fairly recently coined term that's been used to describe the big IPAs that American craft brewers have been brewing for those people - like me - who crave intense beers. Imperial seems to be an arbitrary term and doesn't have an official designation, other than to signify a stronger version of an IPA. The words "double", "extreme" or even "extra" mean the same thing.

September 15, 2009

Brooklyn Brewery Post Road Pumpkin Ale

As I mentioned in my last post, fall is a great time of year. As the temperatures cool, everything becomes a little heartier. Food. The clothes we wear. And most importantly, the beer we drink.
In addition to the great Oktoberfest beers that are so prevalent this time of year, pumpkin ales make a strong showing now, too.

I had the great Brooklyn Brewery Post Road Pumpkin Ale last night at 12 Steps Down. Although I've lived just a couple of blocks from this bar for almost 4 months now, it was my first trip in. It won't be my last. You can read more about the bar here because right now I'd like to focus on the beer.

The beer is a nice orange/ amber color. It smells of pumpkin, which should be expected given that - according to the brewers web site - hundreds of pounds of pumpkins are used in the mash of each batch. This heralds back to the early American colonists tradition of using natural ingredients in their brews. Pumpkins were chosen because of their abundance, flavor and nutritional value. Lucky for us!

The taste is somewhat spicy - cinammon, nutmeg, clove. You can even taste real pumpkin. But the nice thing is that it's not overwhelmingly pumpkiny, as some pumpkin beers are. The pumpkin taste is really nicely blended with the malt, giving it an almost bready taste.

This is a nice, easy drinking beer. Given it's low ABV (only 5%), and low caloric value (best I can figure is about 150 calories per 12 oz) this is a beer even the Great Pumpkin himself would enjoy (sorry. I wanted to get that in there somehow. I'll try not to make it a habit when reviewing other pumpkin beers).

September 7, 2009

Flying Dog Dogtoberfest

My first tasting of the great seasonal Dogtoberfest was at a fun event - Independents Hall's 2 year anniversary, which coincided with the 100th episode of Two Guys on Beer, both of which were celebrated at National Mechanics. Talk about a good night! Add to it that I was drinking such a good beer, and well, it was a perfect Tuesday evening.

Fall is my favorite time of year. There's something to be said about the hot, muggy days of the Philadelphia summer (although to be fair, this summer wasn't bad at all) turning to the cool, crisp days and nights of fall. Sweater weather! Is there anything better?

The other great thing about fall is what it signifies. Football, Oktoberfest, Halloween, Thanksgiving. So many fun things going on, it's hard not to love it.

All of this leads me to the beer, believe it or not. Fall is a great time for beer (well, all seasons are a great time for beer. But there's something about a good, hearty ale when it's a bit colder out that makes it even more appealing to me). Especially Oktoberfest beers.

The Dogtoberfest is a Marzen/Oktoberfest beer from
Flying Dog Brewery in Frederick, MD. If you live anywhere near the area, you should know that the second annual GonzoFest is being held at the brewery on Saturday, September 12. I'm going to be there. You should be too, if you can make it.

The brewers use 100% imported German ingredients to give this beer an authentic German taste. It pours a nice deep brown. Although not the tongue-scraping hoppy I usually like (I have to admit I got that from a Twitter friend, who described the beers he liked as such), I genuinely enjoyed this very drinkable beer. It comes in at 5.3% ABV. The taste is sweet - malty and caramely. Given its low ABV you can, and should, easily enjoy more than one of these. And the calorie-conscious will be happy to know this comes in at about 148 calories for a 12 ounces. Prost!

September 2, 2009

Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA (60 minutes of heaven)

I've mentioned before that I've just recently gotten in to the craft beer scene (and have been loving every minute of it!). One of the beers that helped pave my way here is the Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA. I can honestly remember tasting one for the first time and thinking how flavorful it was, and so unlike the beers I usually drank. I realized why people genuinely like beer and want to drink it for the taste (instead of just a means of getting drunk).

This is a nice amber beer (of course it is. Maybe I should just stop writing about the pour every time I talk about an IPA). There are obvious hops in the smell, citrusy and floral. The bitterness of the hops and the sweetness of the malt are really nicely balanced. There's also a nice citrusy flavor that comes through. Only 6% ABV and about 209 calories. So again, a bit more calories than you'd get in say a Miller Lite, but so much more flavor it's definitely worth it!

The 60 Minute is Dogfish Head's best selling beer - as they call it "the de facto session beer (that low ABV) for hop heads". It's easy to see where they got the name from - the beer is continuously hopped with 60 hop additions over 60 minutes.

Believe me when I tell you, it will take you much less than 60 minutes to realize what a great beer you're drinking.