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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Founders Backwoods Bastard

Founders Backwoods Bastard
Founders Backwoods Bastard:
Bourbon Barrel Aged Ale is fairly dreamy. Don't let the title fool you--this is no Deliverance style backwoods hillbilly rotgut. No, not at all. This groovin' full-bodied ale has enough sophistication to intrigue the palate of the most cosmopolitan among us. The bourbon flavor is apparent, especially if you slug down some of this brew from the bottle (Somehow the aeration gives it a more "shot o' whiskey" feeling to it); but to really experience the complexities of the bourbon and caramel flavors, please pour this backwoods beauty into a chalice-style glass. Besides drinking it, try not drinking it. A few bottles of this brew are worthy of collecting a little dust next to my barleywine collection. The full body, the caramel-like sweetness, the swirling sea-foam head, dry wine finish and fruity nose lend themselves to comparisons with rich ales like the barleywine style. And hell, at 10.2% abv, it should age nicely right alongside my Insanity (Bourbon Barrel aged Blithering Idiot by Weyerbacher).

Who should try this beer?

  • Anyone who is adventurous and eager to try new things.

  • Anyone who likes other bourbon-aged brews

  • Anyone who likes bourbon

  • Anyone who likes barleywine

  • Anyone who is slightly nervous about the man on the label hacking them to ribons if you don't squeal like a piggy

Founders Backwoods Bastard:

Representation: .975

Accessibility: .975

Style: .99

Personal Preference: .98

Total Score: 3.895 Flags

Related Reviews:
Founders Dirty Bastard
Founders Breakfast Stout


Sunday, March 29, 2009

Stewart's Belgian Sunset Grand Cru

Stewarts Belgian Sunset Grand Cru
Stewart's Belgian Sunset Grand Cru:

This gem of a beer is exceedingly mellow -- a red Belgian winter warmer with fruity notes on the back of the palate. A tad bit spicy, with caramel flavors smooth the whole thing over. I'm getting like a red pear- wine thing here. The body is light to medium with not much of a boozy flavor (which is a bit surprising at 8.3% abv).

Actually, considering the alcohol and the complex flavors, I was expecting a bit more body from Belgian Sunset. I did drink this brew via growler as opposed to straight out da tap, so perhaps it lost a bit of carbonation on the trip up from Bear, DE. It still kept quite well, considering. The care that Stewart's puts into its brewing process is evident as always. The First Family loves this hidden treasure of a microbrew pub; Go there when Stumblin' Monk is on tap. You will be blown away.

If you are fond of Flying Fish Grand Cru, give this beer a shot. It will have something for Abbey Double drinkers and a lil' sump'n sump'n for tripel drinkers as well. This is a pretty darn good grand cru, though I typically head in more extreme directions for my own adventures. Please check out Stewart's beers if you can. The quality is exceptional!

Stewart's Belgian Sunset Grand Cru:

Representation: .95
Accessibility: .90
Style: .895
Personal Preference: .90

Total Score: 3.645 Flags

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Stewart's Highlander Stout / The VP Does Delaware

Greetings, Citizens! The Vice President here, wanting to tell you about a brewpub nestled in an unassuming K-Mart strip mall in Delaware. One of the most under-rated and over-looked brewpubs on the East Coast (my opinion), Stewart's Brewing Co. offers a fine array of house and seasonal beers, and I had the opportunity to visit them this past weekend.
Stewarts Brewing CompanyI began my visit with a seasonal beer: their American Brown Ale. Quite tasty and quite brown, indeed, almost black actually. I really had to hold it up to the light to see its beautiful color shine through. That is until I tasted it. Smooth, solid, what I would call a great drinking-all-night beer. I feel that microbrews sometimes feel the need to over-hop or over-malt their beers to gain attention. This beer kept me satisfied just being who it was. This beer had self-esteem and wasn't afraid to show it.

I also couldn't resist their house black-and-tan: a Highlander Stout floating serenely on top of their Governor's Golden Ale. The Highlander Stout is an incredibly rich and voluptuous nitrogen infused gem of a beer. You don't need to read the menu to know you're tasting the subtle and not-so-subtle flavors of chocolate and oatmeal in this fine, fine stout. I was not too proud to stick my finger in this one to taste the creamy head before diving in. The beer finished on bottom with the Governor's Golden Ale, a smooth house brew that complemented the Stout perfectly.

I was truly disappointed I came too late to try their "Hoppy Ending" and too early to have their "Stumblin' Monk" Belgian style Trippel (You gotta try this one!). In order to have my visit count as an official Ferment National visit, I brought back a growler (Stewey) of the Belgian Sunset Grand Cru for the President to taste. Be on the look-out for that review, and keep your eyes on this site for new features coming soon! --The VP

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Days

Well Hop of the mornin' to ya! Just checking in, dear citizens, to make sure that you've enjoyed the National Holiday responsibly and with much vigor. I myself celebrated in installments: St. Patty's Day proper took me into NE Philly area to check out Kickin' Chickins. They are good friends of the Nation and deserve some recognition: Original (very) hard rock with an old school metal feel. If you like "Poultry With a Side of Metal" go see these guys and support live music.
Kickin ChickinsBut the tragedy of the night occurred when your faithful pub servant El Presidente ordered ... a Guinness, of course! I mean what else does an Irish guy drink? And on St. Patty's Day? A no-brainer. But the establishment in question was out of Guinness at 9:30 on St. Patty's Day. Besides screwing the Chickins out of their rightful take of the cover charge, there was not a drop of Guinness to be drunk. Not cool. My reaction was very calm and dignified, however.
El Presidente gets angrySo I needed to reclaim the sanctity of St. Patrick's Day and celebrate at a proper establishment: Slater's Pub back in the good old N of J. The snack and craiq flowed freely and the energy of the party slowly began to build as patrons arrived and the brew tastings moved forward.

The celebratory beverages included (but were not limited to):

  • Guinness Extra Stout in a bottle. A 4.0 favorite and perhaps the classic beer of all time.
  • Harp Irish Lager. Nice stuff, and appropriately decorated with festive labels!

  • Maudite by Unibroue. I didn't partake on this occasion but it is a winner.

  • Moylan's Kilt-Lifter Scotch Style Wee-Heavy. Kinda tart and light for a wee heavy. Pretty good but not my fave.

  • Moylan's Dry Irish Stout. I'm not sure if I had this or not. Probably not, though.

  • Flying Fish Exit 4 American Trippel. Totally badass. Blends candied sweetness with hoppy bitterness. Expect a full review soon.

Some awesome hand-crafted brews made appearances at Slater's Pub as well:

  • A growler of Union Barrelworks's Wobbly Bob Doppelbock. Shoutout to Sec'y of Zymurgy Chubby for supplying this spectacular beverage. Smooth and drinkable but complex and savory. Just excellent!
  • Buddy Love's Irish Red Part II. Really nice rendition. Maybe better than last year's. A hint of tartness gives it a little bite but it's a session beer to be sure.

Another handcrafted wonder was Councilman Timmay's homemade Irish Cream. The party really popped when the drinkers of the world united with glasses raised in remembrance of that guy in Ireland who did the snake thing.

Thanks again to the staff of Slater's Pub (that's you, Sis) for providing great times as always. Special props for producing and awesome Patty Pong tournament. Your faithful servants El Presidente and his teammate the Secretary of Zymurgy managed to stage a pretty outrageous comeback in the final game to send that already epic match into overtime... But alas, we were defeated by Big Poppa and the rookie Mary. Congratulations, you guys.

So until the next event (I think I smell Big Monday coming up), keep checking the reviews for new and exciting beverages to enjoy. Also check out Vice Presidente's review coming soon. Keep in touch, good citizens, and a belated Happy St. Patrick's Day to one and all. Grog bless you and Grog bless America.

(Listen to the October 08 Podcast featuring Kickin Chickins!)

Monday, March 16, 2009

Founders Double Trouble Double IPA

Founders Double Trouble Double IPA
Founders Double Trouble Double IPA:

Another wonderful offering from Founders. This Double IPA is really hoppy and bitter and goodness gracious dry! Even though there is a slight floral sweetness to this brew because of the serious hoppage, the finish is outrageously dry like a wine finish. Smooth to the tongue and easy to swallow, Double Trouble has a bigger body than one might expect from a dry, bitter IPA -- but its viscous consistency coats the glass as well as the tastebuds.

Totally drinkable for hop-heads but not for pretenders. At 9.4% abv, choose carefully. Maybe a bit too much to be a "session" beer but then again, a "session" only needs be two beers with this formidable beverage. I actually took about 1/3 of the beer straight from the bottle and it went just fine. But oopen this baby up in a glass big enough to put your nose in. Unlock a lot of complexity by getting all the senses involved.

OK, so what can I compare it to? You should try Founders Double Trouble if you like any of the following beers: Troegs Nugget Nectar (Imperial Amber), Weyerbacher Double Simcoe, Victory Hop Devil or Hop Wallop, Great Divide Titan IPA or Hercules Double IPA. I'm sure there are more comparisons to be made, but suffice it to say that Founders DT holds its own with all of the above. Not extreme, but bold and confident in its presentation. I'll be back for more.

Founders Double Trouble Double IPA:

Representation: .95

Accessibility: .90

Style: .95

Personal Preference: .95

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Philly Craft Beer Fest 2009

Philly Craft Beer Fest 2009:

Well, my good citizens... another successful diplomatic mission to the Philadelphia Navy Yard!
The Philly Craft Beer Fest was as enjoyable this year as it was last year. Despite the absence of a few regional heavy hitters (like Troegs, Dogfish, Yards, Weyerbacher, Victory, and a few others), the vendors brought their A game and some excellent offerings were put forth. From shuttle to shuttle, the event (along with its staff and its participants) was a safe, fun, and high class function. Much like last year, the details of each and every beer get fuzzier and fuzzier. Looking back into my notebook, the handwriting fails pretty significantly at times. If some stuff is spelled incorrectly, please forgive me. Remember that a true in-depth analysis of each beer is impossible due to the sheer volume of samples. With that in mind, away we go:

River Horse:
* Belgian Double Wit. Smooth, Belgiany, citrus, creamy, clean with an American signature.
* Honey Weizen. Nice darker wheat beer; earthy honey flavor, not too sweet.

Manayunk Brewing Co:
* Tripel Lindy. Clean tripel; citrus zest evident; Think: "Belgian Light".

Blue Point:
*Hoptical Illusion. Session hoppy zinger; appeals to just about everyone!
*Rasta Rye. Smooth and dry, easy drinking.
*(Wanted some Old Howling Bastard, but no dice.)

Gritty McDuff's:
*21 IPA. Nice; not too hoppy; more Ale than India Pale but really nice fun finish. Ireally love the pub in Portland, Maine. There are also locations in Freeport and Lewiston/Auburn.

*Shoo-Fly Porter. Really smooth; dry and toasty; medium body really Drinkable!
*Hop Hog. Oh boy. Surprisingly strong. Clean flavor; dry and groovy!

*2 Blind Monks. Belgian double. Medium body; honeyish, smooth, easy drinker
*Monster Mash. Imperial Stout 100 ibu, 10% abv. Woah. Rich, malty, chocolatey, very flavorful but not extreme. More accessible than you'd think.

Hoppin' Frog:
*Outta Kilter. Wee-Heavy style. A little light for a Scotch style. Light malty color almost a Belgian double feel. Quite nice.

*Saison Rue. Ooh, a spicy little thing! Red is good. Missed some other of their entries but I will try to find them again.

* Porter. 5.7%. Smooth, chocolatey, drinky, really dry.

Saint Somewhere:
*Lectio Divina. Belgian Amber. Rich, rich, rich. Begian candi sugar really shines through.
*Saison Athene. Rosemary, chamomile, black pepper. Soooo interesting. Wild yeast gives it a phantasmal finish that lingers but not really on the tongue. Black pepper, huh? You bet. It's awesome. Maybe my fave of the day.

*Porter. Possibly the best porter around. So damn good, especially on tap.

*Oaked Nut Brown Ale. Gives new life to the Nut Brown style. Funky but nice. The oak isn't too much. No Caskazilla : (

Reaper Ale:
*Deathly Pale Ale. Light; pretty refreshing.
*Redemption Red. Nice body, lots of personality. Ah, Redemption.

Bavarian Barbarian:
*IPA. A bit bitey; Light to medium body; Dry and pungent; not typical but good.
*Winter Warmer. Nice and spicy without overpowering. Fragrant and smooth.

*Hop Hand. Michelob is a guilty pleasure of mine. This beer is not so stylish but very drinkable. Could be a gateway beer to introduce hops to those living in the dark.
*Shock Top. You know.

Appalachian Brewing Co.:
*Hoppy Trails IPA. Light and crisp; light body; nice dryness and hop flavor.
*Trail Blaze Organic Brown Ale. PA's First Certified Organic beer. Really nice American brew. You can taste the freshness of the ingredients. Not spectacular in style but an awesome session beer.

Rock Art Brewery:
*Extreme Hell's Peak. Lager with cujones; Double lager with nice powerful hops.

*Mojo Risin' Double IPA. 11% ? Are you kidding? Holy crap. I liked this one.

Remember, dear citizens, that there were so many other breweries present and so many beers yet to try. Can I get to them all? I have sworn to uphold my duties to the best of my abilties, so I may die trying.

High Presidential marks go to the Bruery, Boaks, Saint Somewhere, and Hoppin' Frog. Best in show, in my humble opinion, is the Saint Somewhere Saison Athene. It is just so interesting and unique that I can't get it out of my head. Gotta find this one in stores if I can!

Thanks again to all the staff and guests of the Philly Craft Beer Fest 2009 who made the event so easy to enjoy. Special shoutouts go to my loyal Cabinet for their constant support and encouragement (Chubby, Toast, Scoots, and Moles). Looking forward to a brand new baby citizen is Lynn. Way to go, Scoots! Hi to my new friends Heidi and Kathleen. And for the second year in a row, I wound down my visit with one of the Nation's most patriotic citizens: What's up Carl!

Finally, thanks to Vice Presidente who spent the Festival at an undisclosed location while I performed my duties in the public eye. Without him, my efforts would disappear into the port-a-potty.

Please leave your comments. We love feedback. And check out last year's Fest review to refresh your memory.

Grog bless you and Grog bless America.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Fisherman's Pumpkin Stout

Fishermans Pumpkin StoutFisherman's Pumpkin Stout:

Not bad at all. Honestly, this is a pretty good stout. It's medium-bodied with a clean, dry finish -- just a tad bitter with a tactful dusting of pumpkin and spice brewed right in. The pumpkin flavor blends into the stout the way some stouts are subtly spiced with rasberries or chocolate or oatmeal or coffee. Some extreme beers feature the flavor and use the stout as a medium; Fisherman's takes a different path here and features the stout, using pumpkin to accent the season and show the versatility of our orange gourd friend.

Pumpkin is evident in the aroma and in the swallow, particularly right before the bitterness wends its way to the back of the tongue. Cloves and cinnamon and most definitely pumpkin accent the toasty dryness of Fisherman's Stout. Again, the pumpkin and spice are pretty subtle so this brew could appeal to stout drinkers as well as pumkin heads. This brew, however, would not go into the lineup of pumpkin breers discussed during the Ultimate Pumpkin Showdown, since I pretty much classify it as a stout (as opposed to a seasonal Pumpkin offering). Fisherman's also couldn't be considered a to be in the same league as the Selin's Grove 1/2 Pumpkin and 1/2 Oatmeal Stout combo I had in October. Actually, not many beverages in the whole wide world could hang with that heavenly concoction! At any rate, Fisherman's Pumpkin Stout is well done and worth a try. Really drinkable stout without being boring.

Fisherman's Pumpkin Stout:

Representation: .90
Accessibility: .90
Style: .90
Personal Preference: .90

Total Score: 3.6 Flags

Related Reviews:


Ultimate Pumpkin Roundup!

Ferment Nation Beer Blog

Founders Breakfast Stout

Founders Breakfast Stout:

Double Chocolate. Coffee. Oatmeal. Stout. So yeah, that's Breakfast. 8.3% abv and all the vitamins and minerals you need to get off to a good start. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, you know.

Bold and delicious with jump-starting coffee essence, mellowed out by chocolate (excuse me... double chocolate). The oatmeal provides a full-bodied brew that really sticks to your ribs.

Stout drinkers will go bananas over this beer. Again, Founders brews are bold without going over the top. Breakfast Stout is a perfect example of this: Bitter but not off-putting, a touch sweet, but in a dark chocolate kind of way, with an oatmeal base that holds it together rather than consuming the individuality of the flavors. The coffee and chocolate have a party together, frolicking in the oatmeal, celebrating the fading of night and heralding the arrival of the dawn. If the first thing to touch each of our lips in the morning could be Founders Breakfast Stout, the leaders of this troubled planet could work out their differences at the breakfast table like a big, happy family and mellower heads would prevail. I want world peace, damn it. And another Breakfast Stout, please. Big score on the way.

Founders Breakfast Stout:

Representation: .975

Accessibility: .95

Style: .99

Personal Preference: .95

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Troegs Nugget Nectar

Troegs Nugget Nectar
Troegs Nugget Nectar:

Imperial Amber. Does that say it all? Not exactly. That can't possibly tell you how the sweet floral scent of hops rise up to greet you before your first sip. Does the description "Imperial Amber" tell you about the color of this magnificent beverage -- an amber so rich and deep that it could very well hold an insect whose DNA could unlock the secrets of prehistory? Does "Imperial Amber" conjure up images of Hop Back Amber Ale and then raise your expectations? do the words "Imperial Amber" whip your senses into a fury? How about the words "Nugget Nectar"? Yeah, me too. So I don't even have to tell you about how Nugget Nectar packs a powerful hoppy punch in a smooth and drinkable amber package. And I don't have to tell you that the sweet, clean flavor is magnificent whether poured into a glass or drunk straight from the bottle. (Get this brew on tap, by the way, and really get the nectar experience as your glass may be a little sticky from the nectar residue). I really don't have to review this beer at all.

Refer back to previous Troegs reviews to see how solid their offerings are. Nugget Nectar is probably my personal favorite. If you like Troegs Hop Back, then Nugget Nectar is a must-try! IPA lovers will get into it too. If you've enjoyed some wet hopped ales or "harvest" style brews with highly floral hoppy aromas, give Nugget Nectar a go. I love it and you will too.

Troegs Nugget Nectar:

Representation: 1.0
Accessiblilty: .95
Style: .975
Personal Preference: 1.0

Total Score: 3.925 Flags

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Stoudt's Winter Ale

Stoudt's Winter Ale
Stoudt's Winter Ale:

Another nice warming ale. Good on a snowy evening (such as this one) when you're ready for some hearty elegance in the comfort of your own abode. A real beer that is brewed with care. Some delicate subtleties and complex flavors born of a bold and bitter soul, this beer is a winter winner.

Really drinkable (though watch out forthe dry and bitter finish). Light to medium body. Geez, a really dry finish. Pale like an ale and hearty like a porter. Coffee and chocolate round out the bitterness, though hops are clearly present as well.

Stoudt's fans: Go for it! Fans of Anchor and Smuttynose: Go for it! Just so you know, these winter ales do not resemble Sam Adams or Pete's Wicked Winter selections. Stoudt's Winter Ale is much bolder and timeless than the flashy uber-nutmeggy style lagers. It seems to have been lifted from an old recipe book; Its complexity has a purity that can be described as "old school". I like this beer alot.

Stoudt's Winter Ale:

Representation: .9
Accessibility: .875
Style: .9
Personal Preference: .9

Total Score: 3.575 Flags