Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A Week of Funky Buddha, Milestones, and the Beer That Went With It!

Best engraved glass ever. I'm biased.
The idea of seeing my name on a glass was all I needed, to join Funky Buddha's Snifter Club last year. Throw in an extra 2 oz pour each time, extended happy hour, and a t-shirt and I'm in! Fast forward a year later. Time to renew, or pick up my glass. Since I don't make it in that often (not by choice), and don't live too close (5 more years to the east side beach condo), I grudgingly picked up my glass to enjoy at home... However, I can't go in there and just "pick up a glass". That's dumb. I had to at least enjoy one more draft Buddha brew out of it, before shoving it in my purse for the trek back west..

My brew of choice was: Chocolate Covered Cherry Porter. Yes.. I just said that. Yes.. it was silky. Yes.. there was luxurious chocolate with balanced tart cherries involved... The bitter malt meshes perfectly with the authentic taste of cocoa. This weighs in at 6.3% ABV, and is one of my favorites I've had from Funky Buddha.

Cheers to my niece that will be spoiled, then given back

I had a big reason to celebrate last week. I'm an Auntie! To celebrate this grand occasion, I reached into my cellar, pulling out the last 2013 Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout I had. This has been aging for about 8 months now, and tasted incredible. It was smoother than November, and as it warmed up, I picked up dark fruits, molasses and heavy toffee. I dare say vanilla too. This 14.5% ABV beer, never ceases to amaze me. Fresh, poured from the bottle in November, on tap at random spots, and aged for 8 months: it's always a decadent treat. 

Another reason to "celebrate", (or cry) last week, was my daughter getting her Learner's Permit. 

Not sure what's scarier: my younger brother having a child, or my child legally able to drive. It's a toss up. Either way, I know that Bison Brew Organic Chocolate Stout will never leave me wondering. It's always smooth, and I just discovered their site has recipes, and cooking recommendations, such as utilizing it as a meat tenderizer. Be looking for THAT entry soon. Bison Brew says, it's "Like Barry White's voice in a bottle". At 5.0% ABV, with an earthy, dark chocolate and espresso foundation - I can't get enough of this one...

I was on a roll with the rose..

Recent honorable mention for beautiful label artwork goes to Saint Somewhere (Tarpon Springs, FL).

Drain pour mention also goes to Saint Somewhere, for their Pays du Soleil Dubbel Belgian Style Ale.  I immediately noticed the cork slipping up on it's own, once I removed the wire. Red flag #1. Red flag #2, was picking up on medicinal flavors, and honestly, the kind that felt I may be sick if I drank it. So, I drain poured this marvelously labeled bomber. 

Perhaps, my palate is used to other styles, but that's the beauty of craft beer: there's something for everyone. Cheers!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Beer Geek at Beer Camp

After getting the lowdown from my Instagram friend that my local Total Wine should be getting Sierra Nevada Beer Camp cases, I called and they said "Yes, should be on the floor by 5pm today". Heeeeyyyyyy... So once I wrapped up my day job, of juggling multiple projects across the state - I made a beeline to Total Wine, and snatched up one of five cases left. It was a happy moment! When else can you get a case of beer from your "gateway to craft beer" brewery, collaborating with 12 different nationwide breweries, with 12 different styles of beer? Pure genius!

Picture this: they're chilling in my beer fridge, and right around the time I'm ready to crack one open - I get a sudden sore throat (courtesy of my daughter), and was forced to wait a few days to start my Beer Camp journey. Sometimes, life just isn't fair. My old Polish Auntie used to always say: "If you have your health, you have everything". So true..

Once I had my health back, I started my Sierra Nevada Beer Camp journey. I will rank them in order of my favorite, to least favorite:

1 - Yvan the Great Belgian Style Blonde - Collaboration with Russian River Brewing (CA)

Yeah, I know - I'm a stout girl. What's this Belgian doing at the top of my list? Well, it was amazing - that's why. The dry, yeasty foundation, along with subtle citrus traces and mild hops was just beautiful. It was bready and robust. It was also my first ever Russian River brew (with the exception of  a few sips of Pliny the Elder at a Miami Sud Swap). I could drink this Belgian masterpiece every day.

2- Double Latte Coffee Milk Stout Ale - Collaboration with Ninkasi Brewing (OR)

Bitter, creamy, and savory sips of coffee throughout the bottle. The aroma had traces of hops, chocolate, and coffee - which worked extremely well together. Very, very impressed.

3 - 
Tater Ridge Scottish Ale, Collaboration with Asheville's Brewers Alliance (NC)

This is brewed with sweet potatoes. I couldn't really taste the sweet potatoes, but did enjoy the earthy, robust and perfectly hopped character. I bet this would be really good on tap. I've been watching Brew Dogs, and saw a recent episode when they went to Asheville. Well, Asheville has officially made it to my "Beer Travel List". The quality of this one was impeccable. The color was an outrageous auburn hue.

Chipoltle Steak Bowl paired great...

4 - Yonder Bock - Tropical Maibock - Collaboration with Cigar City Brewing (FL)

Yay! A local collaboration. I was slightly hesitant reading about the flavors of mango, guava and passion fruit since although I've lived in Florida 20 years, I'm not a big fruity beer gal. Well, this one was a pleasant wild card of the pack! I didn't pick up much fruit, however I did pick up big malts and caramel, and a fulfilling heaviness. The ABV is pretty heavy too: 7.7%. Don't sleep on this one - it's a gem!

5 - Alt Route Altbier - Collaboration with Victory Brewing (PA)

Altbier is a unique old German brewing style, with top fermentation instead of common bottom fermentation. It's fruity like an ale, but drinks like a lager. I had a heavy taste, but light mouth feel. I loved this random style. The label makes mention of refusing to take the easy path. I can't appreciate that, and I appreciated this delicious brew!

6 - Maillard's Odyssey Imperial Dark Ale - Collaboration with Bell's Brewery (MI)

Imagine roasted everything, I mean everything. This one reminded me a lot of Founder's Porter, but more carbonated, and much more crispier.

Fish tacos + Chico King Pale Ale = Deliciousness

7 - Chico King Pale Ale - Collaboration with 3 Floyds Brewing (IN)

I paired this Pale Ale with fish tacos, and it was so good! It had a beautiful bronze color, notes of pine, big malt, and gentle hop flavor. Most pale ales are super hopped - which I do enjoy, but the change of pace in having a more malty based pale ale, was very welcome!

8 - Electric Ray India Pale Lager - Collaboration with Ballast Point (CA)

Hoppy and fresh, with nutty and caramel notes. Great beer, and I would enjoy more of this one.

9 - CANfusion Rye Bock - Collaboration with Oskar Blues Brewery (CO)

I'm always a little scared of rye beers, but I barely picked up any with this. It was very smooth for the high ABV (7.2%), hints of caramel, and a little citrus. Solid brew, and cans make it more fun!

10 - There and Back English Style Bitter - Collaboration with New Glarus Brewing (WI)

This classic style English Bitter is complex, yet easy to drink. I picked up balanced notes of melon, hops and malt. It has inspired me to seek out other English Style Bitter beers.

11 - Torpedo Pilsner - Collaboration with Firestone Walker (CA)

Pilsner's are not my thing. They just aren't. I appreciate the crisp refreshment of this brew, and high quality, along with floral undertones and hop overtones, but I passed it on to someone else to finish. I guess I just can't do Pilsners.

12 - Allagash Myron's Walk Belgian Pale Ale - Collaboration with Allagash Brewing (ME)

Too lemony, too much citrus, too much dough flavor for me. Like all of the Beer Camp brews, the quality is present, but I did not enjoy the flavor profile of this one. I am a big Belgian fan, but not of this collaboration.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

More Suburbia Adventures

Thank you Bokampers
First things first. Bokampers in Miramar, has got it going on. They have Goose Island Matilda on tap, bottles of Goose Island Sofie, and Green Flash Hop Head Red! These gems were pleasant surprises, one relaxing Friday happy hour. 

This work happy hour, started out with "everyone going", but ended up to be myself, and six men. All of the girls bailed. What's a girl to do? I glossed up, savored my brews, and enjoyed the eye candy. I also dropped some beer knowledge to the bucket drinkers (after curious stares). After a friend of mine tasted Matilda, he was like "Wow - that's pretty good. I've never had a beer like that!" Exactly. Great job on upping the craft beer selection Bokampers. On behalf of West Broward beer nerds, thank you!

Sam Adams Summer Ale

While we're talking about West Broward, Texas Roadhouse Grill just opened in the same shopping center as Bokampers. They don't have a large craft beer selection, however their spontaneous staff line dancing, fluffy brown sugar butter rolls, and juicy BBQ compensate for only having Sam Adams Summer Ale to select from. 

Peep the Harpoon in my beer fridge

Do you know who else has it going on? Total Wine does. All day, every day. I love that I can go make random six packs, check a discount wall, then the new release wall, ask for the "special beer" that just came out from the behind the counter, and attend tastings. A recent tasting featured: Harpoon Brewery which was awesome, not only because their beers are yummy, but I got to see my girl Lauren, of former Tap 42 fame, who is now reppin Harpoon. 

Archived shot of the best brunch

While we're talking about the two - did you know that beginning July 19th, Tap 42's brunch will debut $15 bottomless Harpoon UFO drafts? Yes, for real! We're talking UFO White, Rasberry Hefeweizen and Big SqueezeBig Squeeze Shandy is like a mimosa and a beer had a baby. This is a perfect brunch selection. I'll see you there. 

At Total Wine, I picked up Tangerine Dreamsicle Cream IPA, a collaboration brew between Terrapin (GA), and Green Flash (CA). It was crisp, with piney citrus notes, hints of a creamsicle, all with solid malt undertones. Interesting, and surprisingly complex. I wasn't expecting it could be pulled off - but I buy anything Green Flash, and was delighted by this blend. I would love to drink it again. 

This is true love...

I also picked up a favorite staple of mine: Stone Imperial Russian Stout. This is silky, roasty, and dark, with flavors of coffee and decadence. It's a great sipping beer. 

See you at Beer Camp!

One of the biggest things happening in the beer world lately, is Sierra Nevada's Beer Camp. A case of 12 uniquely styled beers, each collaborated with a different brewery across the country. Because I've been sick, I have yet to crack this treasure chest of brews, but will be reviewing all 12 soon! Off to Beer Camp I go!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Sippin on the West Side..

If you can believe it, I've only been to one craft beer establishment in the past few weeks. What a slacker I am! It would've been two, but the Mack House only had one pour of Stone Enjoy By 7.4.14 left, so I didn't risk it...

The trip I did make, was to Brass Tap in Pembroke Pines. While my girlfriends and I savored a few brews, we caught up on kids, men, work, and other things we can't disclose. My experiences at Brass Tap have ranged from great, to bad, but this one demonstrated an improvement in their service. I hope the trend continues! I had a Funky Buddha Hop Gun, and my friends enjoyed a Fat Tire and a Young's Double Chocolate Stout.

When I'm not at spots with craft beer across South Florida, I visit my beer fridge. A few recent visits have included the following:

The Bruery Rugbrød, California

The Bruery anything, is a beautiful thing
This is a Julebyrg style Dark Rye Ale. Julebyrg is a Scandinavian Christmas beer, and Rugbrød means rye bread in Danish. This was roasty, earthy, and a bit not my style. It was amazing Bruery quality, I mean they are, the Louis Vuitton of beer. However, I wouldn't buy this one again, but appreciate the craftsmanship in this brew, as all of their beers I have tried. Crisp carbonation and pure tasting ingredients. 

Cigar City Cubano-Style Espresso Brown Ale, Tampa
I love espresso. I love beer. I'm going to try any espresso/coffee/beer concoction. This one weighs in at 5.5% ABV, and was a little watery / thin. The label states it's an ale with vanilla, cacao and coffee beans. I didn't get any vanilla, and it felt a little too delicate. Maybe I'm just spoiled by Maduro Brown Ale, but I'd like the boldness and thickness of Maduro, along with the flavor of espresso this one has. 

Miami Brewing Shark Bait, Miami
Summer in a can. Wheat ale with mango juice. I'm not a big fruity beer girl, but I did enjoy this. It was the perfect formula of wheat, beer and mango. Refreshing and light, but not weak on flavor. I could totally see drinking this at the beach, pool or boat. 

Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron, Delaware

I've talked about this one before. It's one of my top ten beers. It's a high ABV brown ale (12%), aged in the largest wooden brewing vessel since prohibition. It's made from Palo Santo wood, meaning "Holy tree", and the beer is brewed in the Paraguayan wood. I paired this with mac and cheese, which I could literally eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Random favorite food fact!


Shiner White Wing Belgian White, Texas

This little gem was only $3.29 at Publix! The cashier even double checked and was like, "Whaaaatt! I need to go get one of these". She should, because it's sharp, with slight hints of coriander and a little bit of orange peel. I enjoyed this; maybe more so because it was a $3.29 bomber bottle! I would buy it again as an easy drinking, after work type of beer. 

Until next time, cheers!