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Sunday, March 30, 2008

Buddy Love's Irish Red

Slater's Pub on St. Patrick's weekend was a happening place, indeed. Aside from the festivities surrounding the Irish Stout Round Table Discussion was the unveiling of Buddy Love's Irish Red homebrew. A relative newcomer to the homebrewing process, Buddy Love has only brewed two batches that we know of. The first was an American Pale Ale (I think). The Party Pig brewing kit brewed beer. That's about as remarkable as we can get with that one. The APA had some decent flavor, but virtually no body to speak of. The second attempt came in the form of a refreshing Irish Red. Medium body, dryish, and pretty darn good.

The mechanism for creating pressure inside the vessel which pours forth the carbonated brew had apparently been tweaked during recent months, for the Irish Red rocketed forth from its container like a torrent of St. Patty's cheer. In fact, the pressure was too great to be contained in a normal glass. The answer? A pitcher. So we all shared from the pitchers of the homebrew while laughter and party chatter filled the pub. But every once in awhile, the sound of a fire hose caused our heads to be turned to the back porch. Was Slater's on fire? Hardly. The party pig was just filling a new pitcher full of holiday joy.

Homebrews are hard to rank according to standard methods, since each batch is a bit different. In fact, some batches contain great bottles that fermented properly and stanky bottles that didn't do so well. So Buddy Love's Irish Red doesn't have scores like a standard review. But brew it again, sir, and we may have to do something about that.

Keep your eyes peeled, citizens, for an article about Chubby's homebrews. We have much to discuss.

Irish Stout Round Table

Sorry for the delay, dear citizens, but technical difficulties have delayed the release of the St. Patrick's Day video footage. Never fear, however. This shall not keep McPresidente from his appointed rounds. Or from his appointed duties, for that matter.

Slater's Pub in Audubon, NJ provided the backdrop for this roundtable discussion/blind taste test between the three most standard and popular of the Irish Stouts available in this area. Several other stouts can be found in bottles, and some others only appear on draft. These three are the ones we could find in the pub-draught cans: Guinness, Beamish, and Murphy's. Each of the three rounds was brought to the participants without their knowledge of the brand. Each was ranked according to the standard rankings. Finally, after all three rounds were finished and ranked, we guessed at the brands. Not to brag, but we nailed it.

Round One:
This stout is pretty tasty and pretty smooth. Quite drinkable, but lacking some pizazz. Overall, a darn fine brew. We guessed Murphy's. We were right.
Representation: .80
Accessibility: .85
Style: .75
Personal Preference: .80

Total Score: 3.2 Flags

Round Two:
Definitely not our favorite. Different from the rest, yes. But not necessarily in a great way. I really like Irish stouts, so my personal scores would have been a bit higher. But the other participants were not so forgiving. We compromised and settled on the following scores for the second stout, Beamish.
Representation: .70
Accessibility: .70
Style: .80
Personal Preference: .70

Total Score: 2.9 Flags

Round Three:
Yeah. There it is. Nobody second guesses himself now...Guinness. We tried to explain the rankings at this point to an observer who wanted to know what Accessibility was. When I explained it in terms of, "Could you drink it all night?" my cousin Bud (a.k.a. Buddy Love, a.k.a. J.T.) responded simply, "I have." Thanks, Bud, for setting the record straight.
Representation: 1.0
Accessibility: 1.0
Style: 1.0
Personal Preference: 1.0

Total Score: 4.0 Flags.

So there you have it. The first family wishes you and yours a happy St. Patrick's Day (although a bit belated). So many stouts are out there (not jus the Irish ones). We love them, too. So keep your eyes open for some more round table discussions. We had fun doing this one, and hopefully you enjoyed the reading. Citizens, if you get one going for yourself please share the results with me at president@fermentnation.com. I would love to post your results as well.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Raison to Live

Dogfish Head Raison D'Etre

One of my all-time favorites! Dogfish Head Brewery holds nothing back when they brew their "off-centered ales for off-centered people". Sometimes subtle, often over-the-top, Dogfish Head challenges beer drinkers to open their minds. Raison D'Etre is hard to describe because it is so near to perfection.

Raison D'Etre is a "deep mahogany ale brewed with Belgian beer sugars, green raisins, and a sense of purpose." The sweetness comes from raisins; this provides a deeper, fruity essence as opposed to a sugary one. There is a dry, wine-like quality that counteracts the sweetness, however, so the brew is dry and crisp -- not syrupy.

Around these parts, Raison doesn't usually appear on tap, but I've had it at Dogfish's brew pub in Rehobeth, DE. That is an experience. That taste is so distinctive that bottle or draft, you know you're drinking Raison!

This ale is entirely unique. It is a masterful fusion of fruit and beer and magic. From aroma to finish and right into your next beer, Raison D'Etre stands alone in its individuality. If you're trying this beer for the first time, hold onto your hat. The flavor forces your tastebuds into action right away. Your lungs struggle as Raison steal your breath. You heart breaks when the glass is empty. But stay alert -- your brain needs to know that Raison is 8% abv.

If you love beers that take a chance with bold flavors, drink Raison D'Etre. If you dig a good belgian tripel and an ale with a good body ... if you like the complexity of a dopple bock or a weizenbock ... perhaps the refreshment of a fruit beer ... dryness of a wine ... This beer has it all. Bold and beautiful.

Dogfish Head Raison D'Etre:

Representation: 1.0
Accessability: 1.0
Style: 1.0
Personal Preference: 1.0

Total Score: 4.0 Flags.


Dearest Citizens,

I have been away clearing brush off the ranch in New Jersey and so have shunned my duties as president of this great nation. In celebration of Saint Patrick's Day, I chaired a roundtable of Irish Stout draught cans a mere few weeks ago. The scores haven't reached your homes yet because the V.P. and I were torn away from the Orval office on separate ventures. These are not excuses, however, just apologies.

Raise your flags. Raise your glasses. Raise your expectations. This FermentNation is your home for delicious lifegiving beverages and the good times they bring.

Keep your eyes open for the video footage of the Irish Stout Roundtable coming soon to Fermentnation.com.

Thank you for your patience and support. I love this nation!

Friday, March 7, 2008

Can I review this beer, please?

Stoudt's APA:

Dear citizens, try sitting down at a bar with an open notebook. See how tough it is to get anything done. Don't get me wrong, I love talking to the people who elected me fairly and squarely. I had good conversations with Rogos the Oktoberfest King and G. Love with Special Sauce (not the band, sorry). Looking forward to seeing them again. But the business of running this nation is pretty high on my priority list.

By the way, I had this delicious brew from Stoudt's at the Elephant and Castle on Route 70 in Cherry Hill, NJ. Pretty good food and some kickin' happy hour specials. There are usually a few good draft selections and nice bottles there as well. Cheers.

Stoudt's American Pale Ale is American and pale and an ale. All three criteria in order. The Cabinet was with me that night, so I'll give you some words directly from that meeting:

Crisp and creamy. Some hoppy notes, but not too much though. Very dry finish.

As the glass comes up to your face, check out the aroma. Smell the hops' subtle allure. Now drink. Ah... yeah, that's pale alright. But not invisible. There's almost a pilsner-like crispness but the body kicks in and reminds you that you're still drinking an ale.

As far as I'm concerned, Stoudt's can do no wrong. Having visited the brew pub and Black Angus restaurant this past fall. I'm a faithful Stoudt's fan for all time. Pale Ales frequently fade away into mediocrity but not this APA. It's bold without being off-putting. Give it a shot. Highly drinkable at a respectable 5% abv.

Stoudt's American Pale Ale:

Representation: .90
Accessability: .90
Style: .90
Personal Preference: .90

Total Score: 3.6 Flags

Monday, March 3, 2008

Philly Craft Beer Festival

Oh boy...
Before discussing the event itself, one needs to travel with your loving president from his ranch in New Jersey to the Navy Yard of South Philly by way of public transportation. Patco to Broad Street to the Stadiums and finally a free shuttle to the event.

The rambling yellow school bus rolls into view bearing a single hand-scrawled sign slapped up in one of the windows. The sign reads simply, "Beerfest". Do you know how many people could be lured to their deaths by pulling up in a "Beerfest" bus and shouting, "Come on in. Free ride!"? The smoking driver herds the passengers in like cattle and a few people even ride standing up surf-style in the aisle. Yes, I was one of them. The anxious human cargo is unloaded at the Navy Yard at about 11:30 and by the time the doors open just before noon, the line stretched around the corner with the thirsty crowd breathless with antici ... pation.

Stepping into an event of this magnitude is sometimes tricky but the "Brew Crew" did an outstanding job of efficiently handling the eager massses. Wrist band ... check. Tiny souveneir sampling glass ... check. And so it begins.

With 50 breweries and over 120 beers to sample, please realize that I'm only human. I kept track of as many as I could but bear in mind that I couldn't possibly review all the beers in the customary manner. It's not long before one begins to "time travel" so what I can do is run down the list of beers I know for sure I tried and give just one or two words of description for each. Let it be known that I didn't have one beer that was grody. The brewers brought their A games and it paid off for the participants. Here goes:

Heavy Seas Loose Cannon Uber Pils: smooth and refreshing, crisp and drinkable.
Sierra Nevada Schwarz: very smooth, roasty and delicious .
Legacy Hoptimus Prime: ZING!
Blue Point Hoptical Illusion: Not too hoppy, mellow, light.
Straub Premium: Solid. Very solid.
Lancaster Rare Rooster: zesty.
Victory Baltic Thunder: BOOM!!
Roy Pitz Watermelon Lager: summery.
Belhaven Scottish Ale: Yummy (in a manly voice, rubbing belly optional).
Paper City Hop Monster: Wooooo! Hop Juice!
Leinenkugels Sunset Wheat: fruity and wheatish and fruity.
Hook and Ladder Golden Ale: Worth its weight.
Hook and Ladder Draft Brown: Highly drinkable. One of my faves of the day.
Rogue Kells: good Irish lager. St Patty's is on the way.
Anchor Bock: Yaaaay! Hooray for Anchor. Another worth mentioning.
Ithaca Apricot Wheat: Light and fruity, not too much of either.
Ithaca Caskazilla: Red Ale, similar to Hoptimus Prime but darker. Presidential Honors!
Triumph UFO Hefeweizen: mellow. Mmmmm.
Dock Street Rye IPA: Bitter, tangerine, lemon peel. Clean. Good.
Smutty Nose Smut-a-roni Wild Rice Beer: decent.
Smutty Nose Robust Porter: Roasted and powerful. Success.
Voodoo Big Black Voodoo Daddy: Holy crap. Huge beer! High marks.
Unibroue 17: F'n delicious. Unibroue is growing on me more and more.
River Horse Batch #001 Belgian Double Wit: Bottle conditioned brewer's reserve. This was my last beer of the day, and it made quite an impression. Can't wait to have this one again soon.

All the brewers' representatives were knowledgable and pleasant (except for one guy -- and you know who you are). The crowd was friendly and knowledgeable as well. A festival of this caliber draws the right kinds of people: those who know what they like and those willing to learn. Even as everyone became "energized" there were no disruptions or security issues that I observed. I attended the first session from 12-4 pm. If anyone reading this entry would like to share some of their opinions about either session, about the beers reviewed, or about a beer they particularly enjoyed, please do so by posting a comment or emailing me at president@fermentnation.com.

Thanks for reading, and I look forward to my next journey to a brew fest as soon as possible. and thanks again to the folks who made this event so enjoyable.