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Friday, April 29, 2011

Dogfish Head Indian Brown Ale at Giumarello's

What: Dogfish Head Indian Brown Ale
Where: Giumarello's Haddon Twp., NJ
When: Saturday, April 9th, 2011
What-have-youSo smooth and groovy. Rich and malty with just enough hops to dry it out a bit. Not usually a brown ale guy, but this one is rockin'. I wouldn't mind putting this up against a Boulder Flashback IBA in a head to head tasting.
DFH Indian Brown Ale

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Vote for El Presidente!

From the Office of the VP:

Dear Citizens of The Ferment Nation.  El Presidente needs you!  In case you didn't know, Owen "El Presidente" McCuen, in addition to running the The Ferment Nation, is also a voice actor.  You can check out his demos at OwenMcCuen.com and you can follow him on Twitter @owenmccuenvoice.  You can also help him out by voting for his audition entry in the Neil Gaiman audio book contest for the 10th anniversary edition of American Gods.  It's easy since you can sign in using your Facebook account.  Vote today! (and tomorrow since you can vote once a day).

Dogfish Head Namaste at PJ Whelihan's (Presidential Brief)

What: Dogfish Head Namaste
Where: PJ Whelihan's Haddon,  NJ
When: Friday, April 15th, 2011
What-have-youUltra cloudy with some citrus notes and a pleasant tartness. Perhaps some white and black pepper in the nose and finish, drying it out just a bit. I kinda get french fries in the aroma and some metallic zing at the end. If Magic Hat No. 9 and Allagash White had a genetically engineered love child, Namaste would beat him up on the playground.
DFH Namaste

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Rogue Shakespeare Stout

Rogue Shakespeare Stout

Rogue Shakespeare Stout:

"A beer, a beer, my kingdom for a beer!" William Shakespeare (according to the customs of the day regarding christenings) was born on April 23, 1564.  He also happened to die on April 23, 1616, so you can imagine that April 23 holds a special place in the hearts of Shakespeare fans.  So, what better way to honor The Bard than write a beer review on a beer blog, right?

I actually had too many options.  Would it be better to review all British beers, from London?  Or maybe beers made in the style closest to what would have been brewed in Elizabethan England?  Or maybe a beer from Oregon?  Right!  So, I went with a beer with Shakespeare in the name: Rogue Shakespeare Stout.  From the first whiff from the bottle, this is smelling good, very much like a true and proper stout.  Methinks I will like this one.
Rogue Shakespeare Stout

The beer is black, as black as the heart of yon Cassius.  But I won't be going lean and hungry drinking this stout. It is smooth, and has a nice lingering taste on my tongue and in the back of my mouth.  It has an odd bit of sharpness, too, which might be enhanced by the effervescence of this stout, which I find interesting.  Rogue writes on the bottle: "Ebony in color with a rich creamy head, an earthy flavor that comes from oats, and a mellow chocolate aftertaste."  This is interesting.  I would not have at first described the aftertaste as "chocolately" but I did find it enjoyable.  You know, some stouts can be a little overwhelming in the roasty, toasty, chocolate flavors, and some can be so boring that they put you to sleep (perchance to dream?), but this walks the tightrope nicely.  It smells like a proper stout, tastes good, and has a pep to it.  You don't normally hear stouts being described as "refreshing," but I might just do that with this beer.

As I drink this beer more, I am liking the aftertaste even more, so it will score well in Personal Preference for sure and Style points will be fairly high, because of that "refreshing" combination of bubbles and pep.  Representation?  It still can't hang with my personal favorites like Samuel Smith, but I think this is solid, and would be a good stout for the casual as well as the advanced stout drinker.  I am pretty sure I had this at The Good Dog Bar in Philadelphia, and I enjoyed it there.  I also find it interesting that Rogue seems to have dropped the word "Oatmeal" from this beer.  So, it used to be Shakespeare Oatmeal Stout and is now just Shakespeare Stout.  "Liar and Slave!" Not sure if I would score it or treat it differently if it had the word oatmeal in it.  I like it, though.

Rogue Shakespeare Stout:

Representation: .80
Accessibility: .90
Style: .90
Personal Preference: .90

Total Score: 3.5 Flags

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Terrapin Rye Pale Ale at Giumarello's (Presidential Brief)

What: Terrapin Rye Pale Ale
Where: Giumarello's, Haddon Twp, NJ
When: Saturday, April 9th, 2011
What-have-you: Classic beery brew with a touch of rye funk.  Terrapin has lots of good stuff to offer, including this light-bodied 5.5% abv classic.  Extremely drinkable. 

Terrapin Rye Pale Ale

If you're interested in Rye's big daddy, check out Rye Squared.  Double the pleasure! And check out our Presidential Brief of Rye Squared while you're at it:
Rye Squared Presidential Brief

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Iron Hill Brewery Dry Irish Stout on Nitro (Presidential Brief)

What: Iron Hill Dry Irish Stout on Nitro
Where: Iron Hill Brewery, Maple Shade, NJ
When: Saturday, April 2nd, 2011.
What-have-youSmooth and drinkable at 3.8%. A lil coffee bitterness but mostly mild. Got a little Guinness in there, as well as some Sly Fox O'Reilly's and some Stewart's Highlander.  It's all day.
Dry Irish Nitro from Iron Hill
Iron Hill Maple Shade, NJ

Monday, April 18, 2011

Happy Anniversary Baby!

One amazing year with my future wife brings us to the Farmer's Cabinet in Philly. I love you, Rachel. Let's celebrate!
Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

Farmer's Cabinet

Beer Here Morke (Denmark) 7.5%. Quote: "Pumpernickel porter with lots of rye malt and spices inspired by dark German bread." Amazing rye character with some hops and just a wisp of smoke. Phenomenal.

Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

From: Rachel Elberson <relberson1@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, 18 Apr 2011 18:12:46 -0500
To: Owen McCuen<fermentnation@gmail.com>

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

New Holland Night Tripper Imperial Stout

New Holland Night Tripper Imperial Stout
New Holland Night Tripper Imperial Stout:

I put a bottle of Samuel Smith Imperial Stout back on the shelf to try this beer out, so it better be good.  My first sniff from the bottle tells me that this beer has promise.  Not much head to speak of as I pour it into a mini pint glass.  I smell something interesting as I take another whiff from the glass this time. At this time, I can't tell whether it is an interesting aroma or some of the 10.8% abv.  Wowzers!  I used to be a notorious sleepwalker, so I am hoping that this beer's name "Night Tripper" doesn't have me walking the halls tonight.  And the bottle features label art depicting a court jester, which is appropriate that an "imperial" stout should have a royal court jester, I just hope it doesn't have me acting the fool either.
New Holland Night Tripper

This beer is part of the "High Gravity" series from New Holland.  I need to get El Presidente to sit down for some explanatory videos for some the beer words and phrases we (and brewers) use on this site, but until that happens, here is what Wikipedia says about high gravity beers:

High gravity beer refers to specialty craft beers with an increased specific gravity. A beer with an original gravity 1.070 is generally considered to be high.

alcohol content is not the intended consequence of high gravity beer, however, the concentration of sugar and flavor-enhancing ingredients at the beginning of the brewing process results in a brew with a higher percentage of alcohol compared to other beers.

High gravity beers are traditional in
Europe, but only a small percentage of microbreweries in the United States produce them. They are more expensive than mass-produced beer. They are also more flavorful, intended to be sipped and savored, and are often paired with foods. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_gravity_beer)

This certainly goes with what New Holland prints on their label, saying, "An abundance of roasted malts and flaked barley create rich, roasty stout with deeply intense, lush flavors.  Layered, nuanced tones invite intrigue amd reward a curious palate.  Pairings: dark chocolate, stinky cheese, cayenne."  I am going to give New Holland the benefit of the doubt with the aroma I questioned before.  I am smelling something, and it is not your typical roasted stout aroma, and it's not the alcohol either.  It is something nuanced I would say.  I would like to give mad props to New Holland for including the %abv and food pairings right on the bottle.  I truly wish every brewer did that.

To go back to my tasting, I am enjoying smelling and re-smelling this beer.  It's definitely not the alcohol I smell, because that would go away.  This is an interesting flavor aroma.  I like it.  There is some roasty-ness here as well, but not tons.  This beer is smooth and silky, though.  I am making a second pour into my glass now, and I am hoping that the beer in the bottle has had a chance to breathe and give me a slightly different and nuanced taste.  This is a tasty imperial stout.  I think I would put Samuel Smith above it, but I would have to taste beers like Founders Imperial Stout again to see how it compares.  Unfortunately, I am going to compare this to PBC's Shackamaximum.  Not the greates job dealing with the high % abv, lacking in the carbonation/head department, and not as roasty/toasty as I like (again, this is my opinion.  Chime in to disagree if you like).  So, this won't score high in representation or style or presonal preference.  Accessibility?  Meh, it won't be high either.  Sorry, this won't do well unless I was scoring get-a-buzz-quick.  A decent imperial stout but there are plenty of better ones out there.  Also, check out our other IMPERIAL STOUT reviews.

New Holland Night Tripper Imperial Stout:

Representation: .70
Accessibility: .75
Style: .75
Personal Preference:0.75

Total Score: 2.95 Flags

Here are some other New Holland beers for you to check out!
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Saturday, April 9, 2011

Presidential Brief: Ithaca Excelsior! Thirteen 8.9%

What: Ithaca Excelsior! Thirteen 8.9% abv
Where: Blue Monkey Tavern, Merchantville, NJ
When: Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011
What-have-youSpectacularly citrusy! Grapefruit, tangerine, and wow. Massive citrus aroma and flavor that goes above and beyond. Bitter, yes, but smooth and drinkable with the bitterness floating up through the nose and not lingering on the tongue.
Excelsior! Thirteen
Excelsior! on tap

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Cork/Shiner Bock event

Had Shiner Bock in 2006 and loved it. Years pass... Had a bottle last summer and thought, "Eh.". Now on tap at Cork in Westmont, NJ, I really like it again. It's kind of a richer, maltier, toastier version of Yuengling Lager. I suppose that's what Yuengling Bock was supposed to be, but I didn't like that at all when I tried a bottle maybe a year ago. Hey, Yuengling Bock is on tap at Cork too! Let me taste it... Nah, I still don't like it.

Now the Shiner 102 Double Wheat is cleaner than I expected, filtered but still quite wheaty. Both offerings from Shiner are supremely drinkable and just stylish enough to merit another look. Grab the goat by the horns if you get the chance, and drop a line to make your voice heard! Cheers!
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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Fegley's Brew Works Hop'solutely 3x IPA (Presidential Brief)

What: Fegley's Brew Works Hop'soulutely Triple IPA
Where: PJ Whelihan's Haddon, NJ
When: Thursday, March 24th, 2011
What-have-youBig, bold hoppy flavor! Kinda malty for a second but the hops take over immediately. Not only bitter, but a touch tart as well, and metallic. The first sip is awesome but it's almost too much. Not a session beer, but worth a look if you are a severe hop head. Ibus? 100 +.  

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Sunday, April 3, 2011

Zywiec Porter

Zywiec Porter:

Not sure how to pronounce the name.  At first sniff, it has a smell similar to Samuel Smith's Taddy Porter, so I am pretty excited about this beer.  The bottle says that they are using the same recipe since 1881, so hopefully there is a reason as why they have not made any changes.  The thing about Samuel Smith's Taddy Porter, like their Oatmeal Stout is that you have to watch out the beer doesn't overflow out of the bottle.  It's quite bubbly, and you have to pour carefully into the glass.  Not the same here, but I am not complaining.  I actually get a little annoyed waiting for the head to subside on a Samuel Smith beer.

I take a sip out of the bottle first, and I like what I am tasting.  In the glass, you can smell what I think are vanilla tones.  Quite nice.  This is a silky smooth porter.  I am enjoying this.  At 9.5% abv, this porter is about getting the job done, and you can kind of taste the alcohol here, but I am not always impressed with alcohol masking.  Sometimes you should know what your drinking and be okay with tasting what the beer is made of.  I think this might be the first time I have had a beer of Polish origin.  It makes sense that like Germany and Belgium, Poland would make high quality beers, but I cannot think of any other Polish beers that I have had.  This might make for interesting avenue to stroll down.  I will have to see what else Poland has to offer in beers.

The bottle proudly proclaims, "Faithful to the Tradition" on one side and "Recipe Since 1881" on the other.  And I would make two points: 1) I would classify this as a traditional porter, which I think is great.  It is a porter that tastes like a porter.  No crazy extra flavors added, and I think that is why I compare it to Samuel Smith, and why I enjoy it.  It is a well done porter. And 2) other breweries could learn from this beer.  Make a porter or a stout or a lager or an IPA, and then perfect it, and then stick with that recipe.  Zywiec I think is a town in Poland and the bottle features an illustration of what I think is the brewery and the town.  This beer is all about tradition, and I think this is a traditional beer worthy of keeping a tradition.

This beer will score high in representation, because it is a really solid porter.  At 9.5% abv, it won't score high in accessibility for that fact.  You can taste enough of the alcohol that I think a newcomer to beer or to dark beers would not immediately take to this brew.  Style points won't be super high, because it is a traditional beer, but personal preference will be scored well as I really like this beer.

Zywiec Porter:

Representation: .90
Accessibility: .75
Style: .80
Personal Preference: .90

Total Score: 3.35 Flags
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Saturday, April 2, 2011

Cask-Conditioned McMaster Scotch Ale from Iron Hill Male Shade, NJ

Malty and sweet with a roasty undertone. Definitely a smooth and creamy cask offering with a jazzy wee-heavy "caramelcohol" tang. Just invented that word, by the way.
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2 Beers @ The Coffee Bar (Philadelphia, PA)

At the The Coffee Bar again.  I have to admit that this place is my secret fortress of solitude.  Despite having great beer (2 on tap at a time and 25+ in bottles), tasty sandwiches, and a friendly staff, this place has never been really crowded the times I have gone there.  Why?  I have no idea.  And there is good news: The Coffee Bar has changed up their $10 lunch policy.  It used to be that they had a pre-selected featured beer to go with any sandwich for $10.  Now, with some high-priced and limited quantity selections as exceptions, you can pair your sandwich with any bottle.  Nice!

This particular night I started off with Otter Creek's Stovepipe Porter.  Dark in appearance, roasted in aroma and taste, I think I like this beer.  At 4.4% abv, it is very tasty and easy drinking.  I could see this being a session beer in the right circumstances.  Maybe not my first choice for a Spring night, but indoors with a hearty dinner, this beer would be very nice choice, indeed.

If you are intersted in Otter Creek as a brewery, or what some of their other offerings are like, be sure to check out El Presidente's review of Otter Creek Spring Ale German-Style Kolsch [CLICK HERE].

Beer #2 was Speakeasy's Prohibition Ale.  Maybe it's the fact that it's an amber ale, and I prefer British style brown ales, or maybe it's the hops they use, but this beer just doesn't do it for me.  Don't get me wrong, this beer isn't bad, it just isn't something I would get on a regular basis.  I believe Nugget Nectar technically is an amber ale, so a beer like this doesn't stand a chance in comparison, but even standing alone, this would not be my choice of beers.

Only two beers that night, but I will be sure to return.  My one criticism of The Coffee Bar is that their website is busted.  Broken links, no Twitter or Facebook to keep people up to date, no mention of their beers on tap, and no mention of the lunch special.  Not sure what is going on there.  The Ferment Nation is open for business for website consulting!  Reasonable rates, too!  Drop us a line.
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