Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Beerhound On Location: Stone Sourfest

Well, this past weekend I was giddy as I got ready to head down to Stone Sour Fest. I had a great time at the Oakquinox, and I love sour beers. Let me apologize in advance as this article doesn't really have any pictures.

To start, let's talk about Oakquinox shall we? It was sold out. I had to park across the street. There were a ton of people and it was pretty hot for April. Despite this, I had a blast. I stayed there for probably 6 hours, tried all sorts of stuff and ended up leaving wanting more samplers.

So needless to say, I was excited for Sourfest. Like Oakquinox, they had it divided into 4 lines. Draft A (at the bar), Bottles A (at the bar), Draft B and Draft C, both of which were tents out in the garden. The first thing I found when I came in, was that the line for Bottles was about 4x longer than at Oakquinox...all the way through the bar, out the patio, down the path and around the corner starting down the walkway into the garden! It was taking 20-40 minutes to get a pour of beer from this line. This isn't a problem until you realize that the bottle line had more beer than all 3 of the other lines combined. Why weren't they able to spread the beer out to the tents? No idea.

But all is not lost, there was some pretty interesting stuff in the tents. Tent C had a large selection of Lost Abbey beers on draft. By 1PM, every single one of these beers was out. At this point almost every beer on the list by Cantillon was out. In fact, it seemed like every time I asked someone what good beers they had, the fest was out of that beer. This is at a fest that was supposed to go until 7! So I was left sitting there, trying to plow through my tasters as fast as possible and rush back into the lines to get more beer before everything ran out.

Speaking of long lines, I have no idea how both this event and Oakquinox sold out, but this event had lines 2-3x longer in every section. Did Stone oversell this event? Was it just everyone else trying to rush the beers that were running out left and right? What pretty much sums it up is when Dr Bill yells "Once you get a beer, I recommend getting back in line!" No savoring beer here, folks.

In the end, I had 4-5 taster tickets left and I ended up using most of them just drinking Consecration. That's a great beer, in fact, better than any of the new beers I got to try at Sour Fest....but you can imagine paying $40 to get in and getting tasters of a beer I can buy at the local beer store is a bit disheartening.

In the end, my girlfriend and I left after about 2.5 hours, as we were bored and the ever dwindling beer lists were running out of options. I don't understand how they were out of more beers at 12:30PM than Oakquinox was out of at 6:00PM.

All in all, the first time I've ever left Stone disappointed. But it's going to be hard to motivate myself for another festival there if they're all going to be like this.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Cheap Beer Corner: Mickey's Fine Malt Liquor

It'll sting ya!!

Now, there are a lot of beer sites out there. A lot of these "beer guys" are writing about fancy pants $10 beers, and obviously I love those beers as well. But some days, you don't want a $5 bottle of IPA. Or perhaps you want to have more than a couple of beers in a night and not be dropping a Jackson for your 3 beer journey. Sometimes, you've gotta get cheap beer.

"But Jason," you cry. "Cheap beer does not taste nearly as good as fancy beer!" Of course it doesn't. Jack in the Box isn't as good as a steak, but I can't have steak every night! So as a man of the people, I introduce the cheap beer corner. A place to fill in the gaps between your fancy $8 IIPAs.

Our first contestant is Mickey's Fine Malt Liquor. Mickey's seems to hang a bit above your typical 40oz beers...it doesn't have the stigma that Old English or King Cobra have. Also, it likely helps that they've updated their labels in the last 40 years. In fact, I recall when they had Chuck Liddell and other MMA fighters on the cans. I thought that was pretty cool. Later when UFC was sponsored by Bud Light, they added Tito Ortiz to the cans. This was far less cool. This can, as you can see, just has the Mickey's bee guy.

Not This Bee Guy.

The beer came out foamy as hell, but quickly settled into a very clear golden color. In fact, it looked just like the amber sap from Jurassic Park. I'm hoping to find an ancient petrified mosquito in it, but the odds are I'll just find a normal current mosquito in it. I'm still holding out hope for DINO DNA!

The beer does not smell great. Smelling it makes me feel worse about drinking it. Beerhound Protip: Don't smell this beer. The label doesn't state the ABV. I wonder why? Is it because it's too low and they can't compete on the ABV race with Steel Reserve? The world may never know.

Let's drink it, shall we? It tastes...interesting. It's got kind of a sweet, corny flavor....but this cloying sweetness hits you in the middle that is not pleasant. It's not a huge taste...there's not much going on in this beer...but it's not that good. A few sips later, and my body develops a natural defense to that sweetness, and this just has a smooth lager taste. It's definitely crisp and refreshing, and the kind of beer that you could drink, say, 18 of.

All in all, this beer is a perfectly adequate way to get boozy on a budget, but there are better options out there. What options, you ask? You'll have to return for our later reviews. To be honest though, I've had "Craft Beer" that was wayyyy worse than this.

Beer Hound Rating: C

Monday, April 26, 2010

Alpine Beer Company Exponential Hoppiness

Yeah it's on a beer pong table, what of it?

I found this gem at Lone Hill Liquors. I asked Stan The Beer Man if he had anything hoppy, and he told me he had Exponential Hoppiness. I had never heard of this beer....hell, I had never even heard of the brewer before I bought this.  But It sounds badass, doesn't it? Look at that label! Equations!! Tell me if you had the chance you wouldn't drink math?! Come to think of it, maybe this was the beer that Young Einstein invented in that totally awesome movie.

When I was a kid, I thought Einstein invented beer because of this movie.

The beer pours a dark amber color. This is no sneaky golden colored IPA, it's dark and foreboding. It has a very strong floral hoppy aroma...this guy smells delicious (no homo).

I drank this beer and I think my lip quivered a bit. It's beautiful. It has a nice sweet malty start with a mild bitterness and the end. To quote one of my favorite authors, Weinershnitzel, it's "Der-licious". I look at the label to see what I'm in for, and it says the beer is 11% ABV. This is 11%?? Bullshit. I'm tired of beers trying to make a fucking fool of me.

Sorry, dude :(

After being forcibly separated by the other partygoers, beer and I have now made up.Which is good. Because I think I'm in love. I understand this is the sexier more rare version of a beer called Pure Hoppiness. I figure maybe I can find that one for less than $15 a bottle, but I can't find any freaking beer by Alpine! Looks like it's time to visit San Diego.

Beerhound Rating: A

See ya next pint!

Exponential Hoppiness via AlpineBeerCo

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

So Cal Beer Run: Lone Hill Liquors

Lone Hill Liquors is a beer store in Glendora, CA. This is the east end of LA county, and about halfway between where I live and where I work. This makes it somewhat convenient for me to stop in on my way home from work.

Now, I didn't find this due to some exhaustive searching of beer stores in the San Gabriel Valley, it came highly recommended over on BeerAdvocate. I've heard those guys like beer, so I made the trip out one faithful night.

Now, you may notice that I have a couple of pictures, both of them of beer racks. That's because this liquor store is...well, normal. It's in a strip mall right next to a Stater Brothers. It's got racks and racks of candy, snacks, a bunch of hookahs, liquor, basically all the stuff you'd find at a regular liquor store. Then you walk to the beer shelves, and you've got about 10 doors full of awesome craft beer. There's a decent selection of Belgians and a few other imports, but you can tell the passion here is American Craft Beer...in my humble opinion, the greatest beer in the world.

Now, I'm a little bit spoiled by having a Total Wine right by my house....I'll talk about Total Wine in a future installment, but that beer store owns. But Lone Hill has nearly all the things I'd get there, as well as a ton of interesting rarities. Stuff I've picked up here includes a 2 year old Rogue Crustacean Barleywine, and a bottle of 3 Floyd's which I've never seen anywhere in California.

Holding it all together? Stan. Stan The Beer Man had a reputation on the forums, and it was well founded. He was friendly, knowledgable, and seemed to have a secret stash in the back with all sorts of goodies in it. Don't see something you want? Ask him. He's probably got it. This store isn't that big, so I can only assume he's got a bag of holding or the door to the back goes into the "beyond" section.

Overall though, a great little gem in an area without a lot of options. It can be a little pricey, but if you're willing to spend the money, there's gold here.

See ya next pint!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Russian River Blind Pig IPA

Now, I've reviewed a beer or two from these guys, and they have a pretty lofty reputation. I'm not gonna lie to you, Marge...it's pretty well deserved. This entry is their traditional IPA. Sort of the little brother to Pliny The Elder, it costs an entire dollar less and is out of stock far less often at my local beer store. 

This pours out clear and golden colored. It's got a bit of a head, and who doesn't enjoy a bit of head here and there? (Disclosure: I plan to use that joke as much as humanly possible and hope you are all too drunk to notice. You've been warned.) It has a very strong floral  hop aroma...that's what I'm talking about.

The drink? Well, it's a very good IPA. It's very balanced and smooth, not a mouth assault like a lot of IPAs, but just a big flavorful drink. I've had this one on more than one occasion, so it stays worth the $5 a bottle they normally charge for it.

As IPA's go, this isn't blowing my mind, but it's always a great example. I'd put it up there with some of the top guys in the field. Who you ask? Shit man, I've gotta keep some content for later, don't I? MAYBE YOU CAN ASK IN THE COMMENTS!

Sorry guys, I lost it for a bit there.

Beerhound Rating: A-

See ya next pint!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Cucapá Double Shot: The Beer Hound Goes South of the Border

You may have noticed it's been 2 weeks since my last update. I have no excuse. Just laziness. I am working behind the scenes on spicing this place up. By that I mean just updating the template.

Listen, you came for the beer, didn't you? Let's write about beer.

So I visited my local beer store, and my girlfriend spotted some beer from the land of her people. Now Mexico is not a place known for it's good beer...it's known for skunky lagers in clear bottles that have limes in them to mask the funk. Alternatively, Tecate. But not these guys...this is CRAFT beer from Mexico! Hecho a mano en México! So it's time to break out charmap.exe so I can type some of these accents, and get this going:

Cucapá Obscura

From the website, this is a brown ale. Taking a sniff, it smells like a fairly typical dark lager. It tastes a bit sweet, with a hint of molasses. It's basically a typical dark lager. I honestly thought this was a lager until I read the website. This is a strange thing, and now I kind of feel like an asshole. But this is my website, so the beer is to blame.

This beer is ok. If this beer came up and was like, "hey dude, let's hang out!" I would say...sure thing, Obscura. Let's roll. But if I was trying to figure out what to do on a Friday night, I wouldn't say "call up Obscura! He's always a good time!" We're just not friends like that.

Beerhound Grade: B-

Cucapá Chupacabras Pale Ale

Now, it takes a certain sort of balls to put "the Goat Sucker" on your beer. But, they have a cool little drawing that looks all fun and demonic, and who wouldn't want to drink Chupacabra beer? It sounds so cool! I mean, I like pale ales, I like cryptozoology, two great tastes that go great together, right?

It looks coppery like most other pale ales I've had in my day, but it smells....odd. It's sweet and sugary, almost a brown sugar scent. I'm not used to my beers smelling like pastries.

The taste? Well it tastes like it smells. It's really really sweet. Not that interesting bitter barleywine sweet, just super sweet. I'm not a man who enjoys sweet beer as a rule....Newcastle is a bit sweet for my tastes, just to lay out where we're at here, but man, I don't enjoy this beer.

Halfway through the pint and it's a struggle. Then I remembered I'm not on Man vs. Food and not only will I not get a t-shirt at the end of this, I won't even get my picture on this wall.

Fuck this beer, you're gone. By that I mean, "pawned off to someone else who likes sweet beer."

Better luck next time, Mexico.

Beerhound rating: D+

Nos vemos la próxima cerveza!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Russian River Consecration: Beer Hound Classes Up The Joint

I finally have a use for my fancy Belgian-style glass!

So I visited new hideaway Lone Hill Liquors and saw they had a few of the corked Russian River sour beers there. Now, these beers have an awful lofty reputation with beer geeks. I'm nothing if not one to follow other people, so I went ahead and bit the bullet on this guy. It's $25. This is how you know you're either a huge beer geek, or you really have a problem. Or both. I guess it depends on who you ask, huh? It helps that my girlfriend is a big fan of sour beers after we had a bunch of tasters down in San Diego. 

So this guy, is an ale aged in oak barrells with currants added. That sounds pretty damned fancy. So fancy in fact, that I knew I couldn't just guzzle this guy down while eating a cheeseburger. No, sir. I donned my tophat and monocle, and hit up the classiest establishment I knew of: Ralph's.

When I returned, I was prepared for some fancy beer drinking. How you ask? I have two words for you:

Cheese. Plate.

We had a plate with gouda, blue cheese, Jarlsberg swiss, and brie. I forgot to buy crackers, so I threw some Cheez-Its up in that bitch. I'll go ahead and hold while you clean the drool up off your keyboard. So after sampling some delicious cheeses, it was time to drink some beer!

The beer pours out a very dark brown, and it smells...not at all like a beer. It has sort of a red wine scent to it, except you can smell the sourness. There is probably a fancy term for something smelling sour. I don't know it. All I know is, my nose said: "This shit's sour!"

The taste....it's pretty damned impressive. The beer goes into your mouth, grabs your tongue, and then performs some sort of forbidden dance that leaves you a little scared and slightly out of breath. The beer is sour, but also has a sweet and deep taste...the flavor feels like its changing, every time you think you get one element its changes to something else. This is a big, interesting and delicious beer. It honestly feels a lot more like drinking a wine than drinking a beer, except it's fizzy and I didn't immediately feel like looking down my nose at people when I drank it.

This is a beverage to be sipped and savored, which is what we're doing with it. The flavor contrasts mixing with the cheeses is wonderful, blue cheese definitely being the best. It was a whole lot of fun to compare and contrast how the pairings went together, and let me pretend I was a fancy beer geek instead of the fledgling booze hound I truly am.

Good show, Russian River. This is a great beer.

Beerhound Rating: A

See ya next pint goblet!

Russian River Consecration via RussianRiverBrewing.com