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Monday, June 27, 2011

Boulder Hazed & Infused Cans

Finally available in South Jersey, Boulder Beer Company's flagship brew adds yet another dimension to the common backyard. In a recent post, a presidential can-ping trip showcased some canned favorites for ease of transportation and recycling. Boulder's Hazed just missed the trip but believe me, I looked.

During my trip to Boulder, CO last year for the inaugural Beer Bloggers Conference, I was fortunate enough to tour Boulder Beer and get a "heads-up" on their plans for canning Hazed & Infused on a national scale. Since Hazed is so stinkin' drinkable, it made perfect sense to make it even more portable. It's an amber ale, unfiltered and dry-hopped for a unique marriage of body and dry finish. It's a super session beer if ever there was one.

May I? Thanks... It reminds me just a bit of Troegs Hop Back, but it has a little more bite and a more pronounced hop aroma. I will most definitely sit down with one of these brews in the very near future and give it a full review. I suspect Hazed & Infused will receive a pretty good score in glass or aluminum.
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Tuesday, June 21, 2011


When a well-respected American brewery collaborates with a legendary European brewery, the results should probably be good.  I recently went to Cork in Westmont, NJ where two such tag-teams are on tap: Gnomegang, the Ommegang/La Chouffe partnership, and the Sierra Nevada/Ovila Abbey Dubbel.

Some of my first impressions:
Ovila Dubbel
Ovila seems to be caught between a session and sexy Belgian, and I don't find it to be either.  Maybe I'm one of those people who "like craft beer too much" but I'm not that impressed by Ovila on tap. Flavor is a good thing, dag-nabit, and this brew doesn't have the flavor I'm looking for. The Gnomegang collaboration seems to me to be a better success, offering the best of both worlds: rich body, silky mouthfeel, and hops that stand up for themselves, compliments of Ommegang's American take on the Belgian tradition. Enter La Chouffe with the light candi sweetness and playful citrus. 
Gnomegang Tap at Cork


Thursday, June 16, 2011

Happy Bloomsday!

Dear Citizens of The Ferment Nation.  Today is Bloomsday, and while it is not an official drinking holiday, we here at the Nation have deep roots in the Emerald Isle, and since Bloomsday is a celebration of the urban perambulations in Dublin Ireland of one Leopold Bloom, from James Joyce's Ulysses, it has been adpoted by drinkers and Irish-Americans and of course Irish-American drinkers as a day to drink and celebrate the brilliance of Ulysses and Irish literature in general.  So, be sure to drink a drink and salute James Joyce, Leo Bloom, Stephen Dadelus, and Molly Bloom!
Facsimile edition of Ulysses
I started off by wandering around Philadelphia.  It's no Dublin, but there are plenty of Irish pubs in the city of brotherly love, as well as a literary connection to Ulysses.  I found myself at The Bards, at 20th and Walnut, and what could I do but have a Guinness?
Guinness @ The Bards

From there I stopped by at The Rosenbach Museum on Delancey Street.  The Rosenbach is home to Joyce's manuscript of Ulysses.  Why?  Find out HERE.  Every year, The Rosenbach has a reading of Ulysses, featuring notable Philadelphians and Irish literary figures.
At the Rosenbach Museum
Bloomsday @ The Rosenbach
From there I wandered to 17th Street and found myself at The Black Sheep Pub, where, no big surprise, I had another pint of Guinness.
Guiness @ The Black Sheep Pub
So, having wandered around a city, pondering political and literary notions, and enjoying a pint or two, I feel like I have paid tribute to the spirit of Bloomsday.  I have read Ulysses, and I will admit that I enjoyed it, but I have no plans to read it again.  But, I will be sure celebrate it every year on June 16th!
James Joyce

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Nebraska Brewing Company @ The Farmers Cabinet (Philly Beer Week 2011)

Although The Ferment Nation is in the Philadelphia Metropolitan area, sadly, we have been somewhat neglectful of Philly Beer Week 2011.  We tried to keep up with the coverage, the takeover of the taps, the fancy beer dinners, and the rest, but we did not cover many events this year.

However, one delightful addition to the Philly bar scene has been The Farmers Cabinet, which I had a chance to visit during Beer Week.  Located at 1113 Walnut Street in Philly, this place has got some major atmosphere.  I was fortunate enough to drop by during one of their very first weekends, and I was treated not only to fine European beers (the likes of which you truly do not find elsewhere in the city), but also awesome, old-timey jazz music, and wonderful food served amid an atmosphere of candles, oil lamps, and an oddly sophisticated rustic charm.

This time I went to taste the beers of Nebraska Brewing Company.  Having never heard of them or sampled any of their beers, this was a great opportunity.  As much as I love Philly local beers and PA regional breweries, it was nice seeing a new face in the crowd.  Thankfully, you can order half pints at Farmers Cabinet, which made it easier to taste all of the beers they were offering.

I had some help with this tasting, the unofficial legal counsel to the Ferment Nation, and she is welcome to chime in with additions to this post.  I started off with the Black Betty, she with the Barrel Aged Hop God (10% abv!!).  The Apricot Au Poivre Saison followed, to be followed up with the Pale Ale and the Wit.  Above is a scan of The Farmers Cabinet "Book of Libations."  Although nothing really knocked my socks off, these beers were very solid.  The Russian imperial stout was bold (but I like my stouts roastier), the IPA tasted like an IPA and was tasty, the Apricot saison tasted like apricot.

Overall, tasty beers done well.  It wasn't a symphony in my mouth, but Nebraska Brewing hits all the right notes, and I definitely want to make another round of tasting to get a better idea of what they are about.  Beer always tastes better when enjoyed with a friend in a charming atmosphere, so my impression was good. It should be interesting to see if these cornhuskers can barmstorm the Philly beer scene in the coming months.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Can-ping trip

Hello Citizens,

Packing the coolers up for a quick camping trip has become even easier in the past few years since craft beer drinkers have survived the Canned Beer Apocalypse.  Oskar Blues Dale's Pale Ale has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that discerning beer drinkers can enjoy their beverages of choice in convenient pack-in-pack-out containers.  And Mama's Little Yella Pils is a perfect for other "pilsner" drinkers.  But wait... there's more.

Sly Fox flies the flag of canned beer as well.  Their drinkable brews work great right out of the can or poured into an opaque plastic cup for discretion.  Royal Weisse, Pikeland Pils, and Phoenix Pale Ale pack enough flavor into a nifty aluminum package to satisfy the pickiest beer drinker.

21st Amendment has given us a smooth, not uber-hoppy, EZdrinkn IPA.  I haven't tried too many of 21st Amendment's brews but now I'm on board to sample all of them.  Well, not so much "Hell or High Watermelon," which I have tried and didn't like.  That's why it's not pictured here.  But Brew Free or Die IPA is now on my short list for barbecues, tailgaters, and camping trips.  Spread the word and bring this brew with you next time you're on the invite list to a party.

Genesse Cream Ale is just one of those beers.  It has survived through thick and thin.  It was one of the biggest beers in the world, considered a high quality brew.  In my recent memory, however, it has been regarded as one of the cheaper "slummin' it" kind of beers, especially since the massive ramp-up of the craft beer movement in the early to mid 90s.  But I gotta tell ya, Genny is still a go-to beer for El Presidente and the Cabinet.  And what better way to celebrate smooth, creamy, well-balanced Genny than cracking open a 24 oz. flavor grenade from Rochester, NY.  An American original and a true stalwart of camping trips.
So when you're filling up your cooler with brews for whatever event you happen to be planning, don't forget about the Canned Beer Apocalypse.  I'll never give up some of my favorite beers in bottles but there are occasions when cans just suit the purpose.  Don't be afraid, Dear Citizens, there are many amazing options available.  When you run across a canned beer that blows you away, don't forget to email us pictures and reviews so you can make your voice heard.  Thanks and Cheers!

Thursday, June 9, 2011


So, Dear Citizens, I attended the Savor event in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, June 4th with pretty high expectations in my mind.  After all, with 72 craft breweries pouring 144 of their most food-friendly brews, a guy has to wonder how an event like this could go wrong.  Of course I couldn't possibly try all of those beers, nor the 42 different food pairings engineered by chefs Adam Dulye of The Monk's Kettle in San Francisco and Teddy Folkman of Granville Moore's Gastropub in D.C.  If I had entered a celebration like SAVOR with full-on notebook, voice recorder, and forensic sketch artist, I couldn't have enjoyed the event to its fullest extent.  That being said, I did manage to snap some cell phone pictures (tweeted @FermentNation) and take some mental notes on the brews.  Here are my best recollections:Rogue: Chatoe Rogue OREgasmic Ale (Pale Ale): Richer than most pale ales I've had.  Very smooth! Read about it: HERE.  Sadly, they were all out of Rogue Creamery 75th Ale : ( But I did get a chance to meet Sebbie Buhler. Sebbie worked for Rogue for around 20 years and IS the face of Chocolate Stout.  Great lady.  See you in Portland!

Diamond Bear: Two Term Double IPA: Extremely smooth for a double.  Pretty big, but not too big.
Diamond Bear Paradise Porter: Superbly done.  I love a roasty porter that maintains body while finishing dry! Read about it: HERE.

Crown Valley Wooden Nickel IPA: ultra drinkable.  There are so many out there, but I wouldn't mind having this one available 'round these parts.
Crown Valley Big Bison Ale (Dubbel): Whoa.  That's sooo smooth.  Read about Crown Valley's beers: Beer Menu.

Founders Double Trouble (Double IPA):  Big, aromatic, sticky.  Hop party in my mouth. Read for yourself: Double Trouble
Founders KBS: Somebody put this on a "most overrated" list.  Wrong.  It's massively stout with a barrel-aged bourbon essence.  Chocolate and coffee stand out, but the oak imparts a touch of vanilla.  Probably the most notable of the food pairings, perfect with a double chocolate bread pudding.  KBS (KBS Description).

Anderson Valley Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout: Classic creamy stout with smooth body and accessible toasty flavor.  Check it out: Oatmeal Stout Description
Anderson Valley Boont Amber Ale: Simply drinkable.  That's a good thing.  Want to know more: READ THE BREWER'S FULL DESCRIPTION

Coranado Brewing Company Idiot IPA: A large IPA that remains drinkable.  Hoppy, naturally. BREWERY'S DESCRIPTION
Coranado Red Devil:  Drinkable seems to be their m.o.  Red Devil is a hefty 9% but you'd NEVER know. Red Devil Description from the Brewery

Oskar Blues Ten Fidy:  As dark and massive as stouts get.  Still maintains the roasted character, however, even at 10.5% abv.  http://www.oskarblues.com/the-brews/ten-fidy
Oskar Blues Gubna:  Imperial IPA made exclusively with Summit hops at all stages of brewing.  Stupidly flavorful in a citrusy, malty, hoppy way.  Oh, and 10% abv. http://www.oskarblues.com/the-brews/gubna

Firestone Walker Parabola: This barrel-aged Russian Imperial Stout is... Ho...lee...cow.  Bigger than most beers you'll ever stumble across.  Massive brew (13% or so) that's worth a taste if you can find it. http://www.firestonebeer.com/beers/products/parabola

Lazy Magnolia Southern Pecan Nut Brown Ale: Roasted Pecans function as a grain and soft Southern water impart a depth to the body.  One of the richest 4.9% brews you'll ever drink.  Perfectly paired with banana bread.  http://lazymagnolia.com/ourbeer.php

The Bruery Loakal Red:  Interesting red ale, made more complex by oak aging.  I'll definitely seek this one out at the store.  http://www.thebruery.com/beers/YearRound/loakalred.html
The Bruery Mischief: Strong and golden.  Yeah, that about sums it up.  http://www.thebruery.com/beers/YearRound/mischief.html

Yards ESA:  Supremely drinkable.  Nearly perfect session beer. http://www.yardsbrewing.com/ales_extra-special.asp
Yards Thomas Jefferson Tavern Ale:  Supremely golden and rich.  Reminds me of a slightly jacked-up maibock.  http://www.yardsbrewing.com/ales_thomas-jeffersons-tavern.asp

Smuttynose Robust Porter: I've had this one plenty of times, but I just couldn't resist another sip.  It's that good.  http://www.smuttynose.com/beers/full_time_beers/robust_porter.html

Flying Fish Exit 4 American Tripel:  Outstanding beverage.  Sweetish with a hoppy tang. http://www.flyingfish.com/beers/exit_4.html

Short's Brewing Company Spruce Pilsner: Imperial Spruce pops the tastebuds into an enchanted forest.  worth a taste if you can find it. http://www.shortsbrewing.com/beer/our-portfolio/the-imperial-beer-series-of-2007/
Short's Anniversary Ale: This Blood Orange Wheatwine is powerfully original and intriguing.  I would definitely include this in a flight, but it's a little too much for a full pour.  Check it out: http://www.shortsbrewing.com/beer/our-portfolio/specialty-beers/anniversary-ale/

Great Lakes Holy Moses White Ale: Cool white ale with coriander that pops but doesn't distract.  I love Great Lakes stuff.  All of it. http://www.greatlakesbrewing.com/beer/an-exceptional-family-of-beers/seasonal/holy-moses-white-ale
Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald Porter: Roasty flavors, medium body, drinkable all night.  I might serve this at my wedding. http://www.greatlakesbrewing.com/beer/an-exceptional-family-of-beers/year-round/edmund-fitzgerald-porter

New Holland Golden Cap Saison: Cool take on the farmhouse style.  Ferment Nation has given it good reviews... check out what New Holland has to say: http://newhollandbrew.com/beer/seasonals/golden-cap-saison-ale/
New Holland Envious: This was one of my final brew samples of the evening, so I don't remember much about it except that I liked it a lot!  Oak aging provides complexity.  I think. http://newhollandbrew.com/beer/cellar-series/envious/

Craziest beer of the night:
Avery Dihos Dactylian barrel-aged sour. Tart and oaky. Spectacular!
That was the Twitter-on-the-spot review from the event itself, but looking back, I still think about this beer with drool on my lips.  5 different saison yeasts plus some wild brett, aged in cabernet barrels... This brew is simply exciting!  Avery's description: http://www.averybrewing.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=82&Itemid=75

My overall selection for Brewery of the Night was Cigar City Brewing.  Their offerings were intriguing and drinkable and completely different from each other.
Cigar City Humidor IPA: Dry and hoppy, this IPA is one of the rotating brews that lounge about in cigar box cedar to impart those rolled-up-but-not-burning tobacco notes.  They mesh perfectly with the dank hop aromas that seal the deal on this cultured India Pale Ale. http://cigarcitybrewing.com/Cigar_City_Beer/Welcome_to_Cigar_City_Beer_in_Tampa_Florida_Our_Beers_files/page2.pdf
Cigar City Oatmeal  Raisin Cookie:  A brown ale with cinnamon and oatmeal goodness, this brew tastes like cookies for real.  Smooth and rich but not boozy at all.  Only  5.5% abv makes this a session beer with a nifty twist, but it's not a novelty.  Huge dessert beers like those from Southern Tier are cool but typically too much to hang out and drink.  Oatmeal Raisin Cookie is not one of those beers.  It's even more drinkable than Dogfish's Raison D'Etre (and that's not something I throw around, mind you...).  I can't really find this beer on Cigar City's website but I read a cool review on Ales From the Crypt.  Check out the Reaper's (re)animated description: http://www.alesfromthecrypt.net/2011/01/cigar-city-oatmeal-raisin-cookie-brown.html

The Most Celebrated Brew of the night was the collaboration between SAVOR supporters Dogfish Head and Samuel Adams that was brewed especially for the SAVOR event, Savor Flowers.  This brew was made with rose water and an experimental strain of hops.  Not only that, but it was aged in Barrel One, the original barrel used to age Sam Adams Triple Bock back in the early nineties.  So... it's a little special.  Ticket holders at the event were even allowed to take a limited release bottle for enjoyment at home.  I tasted the brew and was stunned by its originality.  Here's my Tweet from the event:
Savor Flowers has a light body.  It's ultra floral and super fragrant, and totally bizarre. Off the hook. Otherworldly. Not my fave ever but mos def ORIGINAL!
Read about Savor Flowers at:  http://www.savorcraftbeer.com/

Thanks again to the Reyes Beverage Group, the Brewers Association, The National Building Museum, the chefs, the brewers, the staff, and all the participants of SAVOR 2011.  Special partner brewers Samuel Adams and Dogfish Head and all the supporting breweries brought their food-friendliest beers and the pairings were a great success.  Sushi, oysters, and artisan cheeses rounded out the event and awakened taste buds all night long.  Tickets were tough to come by, but I'll shout out my contact.  Thanks, brother!  I hope to visit SAVOR next year and cover the event with gusto.  Cheers!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Full Sail Bump in the Night Cascadian Dark Ale

Full Sail Bump in the Night Cascadian Dark Ale:

Pop the cap and this beer smells good to me.  A nice brisk pour into a half pint glass and the head is just off white and creamy.  The beer's color is brown, darker in the center, with a nice dark copper color toward the bottom of the glass where light is getting through.

I do a lot of reviews of dark beers like stouts and porters and I love black ales, so I looked forward to this one as I am working my way down the color spectrum.  I had a German dark lager once (Zötler Bier Korbinian Dunkel) and I really did not like that at all, but I do like ales.  In my opinion, it enters much bigger beer family: ales, IPAs, Pale Ales, brown ales, British style, American style.  I am several sips into this one and I am liking it.  Light and airy mouthfeel: no bitterness, no unwanted lingering on the palate.  Pretty easy to drink, too.  It has a slight bite to it.  It has some hoppiness, which is good.

The bottle reads, "Brewed in the Cascadian dark ale style, the array of dark malts present a full bodied brew with notes of cocoa & slight roast.  Bump in the Night CDA has a big floral citrus hop flavor & bitterness, reminiscent of an IPA."  I amnot sure I entirely agree with their self-assesment.  Not tasting the cocoa.  The slight roast was apparent when first opening the bottle, but not after I have been drinking the beer for a while.
Here is what I like about this beer: it tastes good, the brewing company is employee-owned, and the abv% is listed on the bottle.  Here is what i do not like: nothing.  This is not a spectacular beer by any means, and I don't know if I would ever recognize drinking a CDA (Cascadian Dark Ale), which means I have not real comparison to score it for representation.  Accessibility will be high.  Nothing too extreme here and it is only 6.5%.  Of course, the "nothing extreme" I just mentioned means style points won't be through the roof.   Essentially, this is a good, solid beer, and depending on the price, I would definitely buy it and drink it again.

Full Sail Bump in the Night Cascadian Dark Ale:

Representation: .85
Accessibility: .90
Style: .75
Personal Preference: .85

Total: 3.35 Flags

Saturday, June 4, 2011


Salutations from Savor! We're just getting started but already had some Oskar Blues Gubna. By the way, ever heard of Dale's Pale Ale? Well, that's Dale. Thank you, Dale from Oskar Blues for taking a moment to pose for a photo with El Presidente (I'm the one on the right). Cheers!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Blue Point Takeover at The Pour House

Blue Point Brewery (@bluepointbrewer) is now following Ferment Nation (@FermentNation) on Twitter!  Couldn't come at a more appropriate time, since we here at the Nation have recently had more access to the brewery's offerings.  Back in the day (a few years ago, anyway) our introduction to Hoptical Illusion was intriguing... The Philly Craft Beer Fest has been hosting the brewery for the past few years, and we were impressed by the flavorful yet drinkable beers.  Just last night, El Presidente got a chance to catch a few pints at the Pour House in Haddon Township, NJ where Blue Point took over the taps this week.

Here are the Tweets from the expedition:

Rastafarian Rye: Nice n smooth, dryish

Hoptical Illusion: Just as drinkable as Rasta Rye, a lil lighter, lil more floral

Spring Fling APA: Weirdly dry yet malty. Darker than expected; groovy!

Didn't get a chance to check out the Toasted Lager or the Blueberry Ale but the Sour Cherry Imperial Stout was pretty tasty.  Just had a sample of this one (at 9.2% abv, it wouldn't have made much sense to do a full pour) but it was plenty flavorful without being ridiculous.  I must say that I will be checking the local shelves and taps for some more Blue Point offerings.  And thanks again for the follow, guys!