Beer Decision

Beer Madness! (An ode to ale, college basketball, and day drinking)

You are probably an American or living in America.  (If you are not, please click this link.)  Since you are an American or have had America thrust upon you, then I am sure you are aware of the big month-long amateur sporting contest that begins this week.  This contest is a great opportunity to gamble and to slack off at work while doing research* for your impending gambling binge.  The great thing about this implicit endorsement of wagering on the physical performance of 19-year-old boys, is that everyone can participate and anyone can win.

Your college is not represented?  Fill out your bracket predicting the 1st round demise of your hated rival.  You don’t know the difference between a box-in-one and a box of shit?  Fill out your bracket based on which mascot would win in a fight. You know more about college basketball than Dick Vitale and Bill Raftery?  I guarantee your bracket will not win.  Karen from accounting is going to win because she likes Kansas State’s purple uniforms.

In honor of this great gambling orgy, J Street Beer is doing you a favor.  We have combined your two favorite things into one great thing. Alcohol and gambling. Together at last! That’s correct, we are hosting our inaugural J Street Beer Madness Super-Brew Tournament For The Ages (JSBMSBTFTA, for short).  Over the next few weeks we will whittle our 64 brews down to one supreme beer champion.  View the bracket below and then vote on the individual match-ups. The voting will be for a complete 24 hour period and each match-up will coincidentally be voted on during the same day as the corresponding match-up in that other tournament that everybody in your office will predict better than you.  When we get to the excellent eight final beers, J Street Beer will have head-to-head taste tests to determine the winner.

On to the match ups…



The Great Pumpkin Beerathon (live blog)

Great Pumpkin Banner
Great Pumpkin Banner

You don't believe the story of the Great Pumpkin?

I’ll be posting the most recent blog updates at the top of the page for the rest of the day.  Scroll down below for the backstory, and to read this all from the beginning.

8:15 PM

And, it’s done.  A rather inglorious end for a glorious day.  My drinking met it’s end with the end …

Glad I did this, real thoughts later……..

8:15 PM

Put your momma in a headlock baby…Keith…and…T-pain…

7:59 PM

Whoops.  Thought I’d told people that this Lefthand has been in my fridge since Fall 2009…

7:57 PM

Malty finish? Yup. That’s really the biggest “plus” for the Left Hand.  I’d buy a 6er of this if given the opportunity.  However, be prepared for the malts, because they are coming; this is not the kind of beer to deal with on a Monday.

7:45 PM

Left Hand is really quite good given my state of drunkenness.  Smooth is the biggest word that comes to mind as I finish this glass…

7:34 PM

Left Hand = really malty, really sweet.  the legit version of the Dogtoberfest.

7:29 PM

Everything I said about the Post Road? Yup, that’s what I still think.  A moderate pumpkin beer, but moderate in the taste (e.g., cinnamon) and the acual pumpkin.

Now the Left Hand Oktoberfest.  Normally this would be a top 5 beer for me.  BUT. I bought this beer LAST fall, and its been in my fridge since then, so I’m sceptical.  Pours very coppery and with a sizable head…

7:10 PM

Post road pumpkin.  The last true “pumpkin” beer in the great pumpkin beerathon.  Pours like many before.  Copper, but a bit cloudier than before and with a very substantial head.

The first taste is, eh, moderate.  Some malts, but nothing spectacular.    Taste is similar.  I’d easily drink a full beer of this (I mean, I am) but all the taste is in a sweet aftertaste, no up front.  If I’m gonna try something as robust as pumpkin, I want to know what I’m getting into…

7:10 PM

Before it gets too late (drunk) the last pumpkin in the group.  JTonzin has warned me off this brew before…

7:00 PM

Deadlines, schmeadlines.  the Buffalo Bills pumpkin claims to be “America’s Original” and I can believe it.  Sweet and malty on the nose.  It lacks any “pfumpf” though.  Not a lot of spice, or pumpkin, or well, anything.  A middle of the road adventure.

6:55 PM

Once in my life, I’d like to play on a team like the Sharks. And in case you didn’t know: I’ll do whatever it takes for that inch.

6:51 PM

I’m unsure if Churchill or Al Pacino’s character from Any Given Sunday gives a better motivational speech.  Having listened to both in the last 10 minutes…damn…

6:47 PM

Buffalo Bills: Cloudier than most I’ve had today, copper in colour.  Nose is dominated by a sweetness.

6:44 PM

Okay, sorry about that drunken digression.  But I now have a general idea of what’s going on.  The Victory was, however, what I originally wrote.  A reasonable beer, but I’d never buy a 6er of it.  I’m listening to more of Winston and trying the Buffao Bills’ pumpkin now….

6:40 PM

Thank G*d for Red Bull.  And thank you Winston; you kept me great company. 

We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender

6:27 PM

Could this be the end of the beginning…

6:18 PM

Victory is golden, but clear.  malty nose.  The taste reminds me of the beer.  clear, crisp, but nothing to write home about….

Right now – first time i’ve really questioned the idea for today.

5:40 PM

Victory Feistbeir now…and a red bull…

4:50 PM

Kennebunkport Pumpkin – copper colour.  slight wispy head, clear.  Cinnamon and something nutty on the nose.  Sweet and Cinnamon on the first taste…

4:39 PM

Aynger:  clear.  golden, sugary on the nose.  Crisp taste with a poor malty finish.  Good for a quick drink, but not more than one beer.

4:20 PM

It’s a good news/bad news situation.  I realized I have a 16th beer, the Aiynger Oktoberfest…

4:15 PM

the Don has arrived.

3:55 PM

I am man.  I have made fire.

3:43 PM

Dogfish Punkin: cloudy, copper, reasonable head.  Sweet (caramel) and spicy (nutmeg) on the nose.

Malty, with finishes of pumpkin.  Surprisingly spicy.  Somewhere between the Terrapin and the Smuttynose.  Good, but not as aromatic as the Smuttynose.

3:18 PM

The Princess Bride is seriously one of the best movies ever made.  Great lines? Check.  Good story? Check.  Brilliant acting? Check.  Just a phenomenal film.  Thank YOU Rob Reiner.

3:05 PM

Red beer = bad beer. Sweet, but not in a good way.  Bitter, in a bad way.  Ugh.

3:03 PM

The Coney Island Freaktoberfest is red.  Like cough syrup red. Oh boy…

2:38 PM

Sausage for a late lunch.  Other than my crazy spelling my time in the U.K. taught me the right way to cook a sausage.  Hint: it takes time.  Plan on 45-70 minutes, depending on the thickness of the sausage.  Do not, under any circumstances, pierce the skin of the sausage (including  heat breaching the skin).  Moisture = a good sausage.

2:22 PM

Terrapin Punkinfest now.  Never had Terrapin before, just some of their collaborations.  Pours coppery, clear, moderest carbonation. On the nose, has cinnamon, nutmeg, modest pumpkin.  Smooth drinking, moderate taste.  Not as good as the Smuttynose, but nice and subtle all the same.  Enjoyable, but not the best.

2:07 PM

Hello.  My name is Inego Montoya.  You killed my father.  Perpare to die.  SamDinning has joined me!

Like me, he enjoyed the Ottercreek.  It is not your traditional Octoberfest at all.  Imagine an English bitter (I know those well) but with some malty favours.  A good, moderate selection.

1:46 PM

Thank goodness I finished that.  Ottercreek Oktoberfest now.  Hoping for redemption.

1:23 PM

Falling behind…no…

Not that bad though, just a quick trip outside.  Dundee Oktoberfest now.  Pours copper colour, clear, and you can see the bubbles.  Maltiness on the nose.  Taste is even more bland than the Hacker though.  None of the maltiness, no sweetness.  Crisp finish, which is an interesting change, but not that nice at the end of the day.

12:40 PM

So, I’m a little surprised, but I shouldn’t be.  I have never had a Smuttynose beer I didn’t at least enjoy (e.g., Star Island) and there are a number I really love (e.g., Old Brown Dog).  So, I shouldn’t be surprised with the perfect pumpkin ale they’ve put together.  This is now up there with Pumpkinhead for me as a perfect seasonal offering.  It does a great job blending tastes.  It’s not a “pumpkin” ale, it’s more of a true seasonal that combines aromas and flavours of pumpkin, spices, and maltiness in a great way.  Like most of these beers, it lingers on the mouth a bit too much, but that one small problem is outweighed by everything great this beer does.

12:17 PM

Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale.  Pours cloudy with a playful copper colour.  Incredible nose of cinnamon, some nutmeg (I think) and delightful hints of pumpkin.  I’m excited.

12:08 PM

First thought on the Hacker-Pschorr “Original Oktoberfest:” Thank G*d I did this early.  It reminds me of all the continental European beers I’ve (binge) drank over the years, and those aren’t good (beer) memories.

It poured golden in colour, but very transparent, and clearly with a lot of carbonation.  The nose? Not much going on there.  Hints of some maltiness, but only if you really push the limits of the word “hints.”  Drinks like a standard lager, nothing really special, and the carbonation slows you down.

I wish I had the Hofbrau-Munchen – the “real” original Octoberfest – to compare, but I don’t think it would have been much different.  I’ve never been to the real Octoberfest in Munich (though I am drinking out of a stein acquired there), but my guess is this is par for the course at that event.  I think most Americans used to their craft brews would be a little disappointed by the beer there.

Anyone actually gone to Octoberfest?

11:33 AM

Flying Dog didn’t let me down.  The Dogtoberfest pours with a brilliant amber colour and a slight head.  There’s a strong smell of caramel and hints of maltiness in the nose.

It drinks really smooth with sweet notes of caramel that aren’t overpowering.  It lingers a bit on the mouth a little syrupy, but not too bad.  Definitely worth drinking.

Probably one more Marzen before I tackle the first pumpkin.

11:05 AM

Blustery fall morning? Check.  Blueberry pancakes for breakfast?  Check.  15 seasonal Beers?  Check.

Starting off with the Dogtoberfest to ease into the pumpkin but with something (hopefully) really tasty.  Flying Dog don’t let me down.



Fall is hands down my favourite season.  Cool crisp mornings, beautiful foliage, playoff baseball, college football, fresh apple cider and new Harry Potter movies clearly make it the best time of year.  And of course, there’s the beer.

Just a little over a year ago, the night before I headed out to JTonzi’s wedding, I spent the evening at the bar with a friend.  Inspired by the presence of one of my all time favourite seasonal beers – Shipyard’s Pumpkin Head – I decided I’d make it my mission to drink every Oktoberfest/Pumpkin ale on draft or in a bottle.  It was a hilarious night, I had a ton of good beer, and a really good time.  I also ended up with one of the worst hangovers of my entire life.  From that night, I learned that while fall produces a lot of great seasonal beers, it also produces a lot of less than agreeable beers as well.  Pumpkin is not an easy ingredient to work with, and the results can actually be disastrous.  Before you rush off to buy beer for your Halloween celebrations, you need to do some real hard thinking.


Beer Decision – July 30

For this week’s beer decision, I’ll be needing your help in deciding what bar I’ll be going to this Friday night.

The choice will be amongst four bars I haven’t been to, or haven’t been to in a long time.

This week’s competitors:

The Big Hunt

The Black Squirrel


Meridian Pint

In order for a bar to be included in this election, it needs to have a good beer selection.  I’m not going to a bar where my options are 3 types of Bud and Miller Lite.  I want options.  Good options!

So, without further ado…


Beer Decision: July 15 – Aftermath

As of 5:30pm on Thursday, July 15th, the Pales had won.  By a narrow 1 vote margin.

So, true to my word, Thursday night was Pale Night.

Here’s how it went:


Beer Decision: July 15

As many of you already know, Thursday I like to get out and enjoy a few choice beers.  Today is a very important day.

Today is the day you, yes you, the voter will decide which beers I will be drinking this evening.

I’ll be making a case for each choice after the jump, but the real decision will be up to you!

Today’s choices:  Stouts, Pales, Belgians, and Doubles.

What will you choose?