I found this bottle of Maine Beer Company’s Zoe Amber Ale at D’vines in Columbia Heights and hemmed-and-hawed over buying it, which was asinine because when in doubt, buy the damn beer. The description on the bottle, “Our Happy, Hoppy, Amber,” is intriguing because “hoppy” and “amber” don’t normally go together (well, aside from the ol’ Nugget Nectar).
The story on the backside explains that beer is named after Zoe, someone’s daughter who smiled at the Whale Museum, and is supposed to put that same smile on the drinkers face. My guess is that Zoe’s smile didn’t involve semi-glazed over eyes or wasn’t caused by a surprise hops ambush, but anyways, this brewery donates 1% of Zoe sales to Adapt-A-Whale program. For X, this gives him one more reason to drink — “SAVE THE WHALES!”
Pour: Dark deep amber that looks brown. The head is white-creamish and lasts a while. After about five minutes and three drinks, it’s still about 5mm high. Additionally, there is lacing on the glass for a good while.
Aroma: Hops! They were correct — at least on the nose (so far) — that this is a hoppy amber. The aroma does have a little surprise sweetness at the end.
Taste: Awesome! The taste starts off small, simple, and just a little less sweetness than most ambers, but then you turn the corner and BOOM! the hops kick in. My taste buds have been roped-a-doped by this beer, but that won’t stop me from having some more. Thankfully, this beer comes in 16.9 oz bottles, so there’s MOAR to drink.
Body: Medium body, but as with any hoppy beer, it feels larger once the hops kick into the flavor.
All in all, it’s a great take on the amber style. Sessionable? Not for me since the hops seem a bit out of place and strong; that said, it is more sessionable than Nugget Nectar, and I highly recommend anyone that likes hops or trying new styles to give this a whirl.
Back in April, Squirrel took a trip to Portland to visit a friend and came back with several gifts for me, including Fish Brewing Co.’s Fish Tale USDA Certified Organic Amber Ale (Thanks!). I do love ambers (the reason she grabbed it) and am excited to try it.
Pour: The beer has a super-cloudy copper color with a small, off-white head. Maybe the cloudiness is intended to prove that you are drinking a beer made with “Water, Organic Barley, and Hops.” In addition to using, evidently, in0rganic hops, it seems weird that water isn’t organic… Anyways, I don’t give a rat’s ass so long as it’s good.
Aroma: Getting some organic sweetness on the nose from the barley, not much in the way of hops. It’s clear who the star of the show is going to be.
Taste: It’s not as sweet as it smelled and is quite pleasant but isn’t anything to
blog write home about. After the initial sweetness, the beer gives a hint of bitterness from the hops.
Body: Very thin and barely carbonated.
Overall: It’s a good beer, and I could have several if I were inclined to do so. I am glad to have tried it and thankful to have been given the opportunity.
This past weekend, Squirrel and I went on a beer tour organized by North Bay Brewery Tours. Of course, it involved a social coupon (when you drink as much beer as I do, every little bit helps) that made it two for one, and it was worth every penny. The tour guides know their stuff and will make sure that you get to try a lot of local beers that you can’t find out here. Plus, you’re essentially on a beer bus with a lot of people who like beer. Really hard to go wrong with that in any situation.
The tour started off at Lagunitas before moving onto HopMonk Tavern (brewpub), a homebrew store, and Third Street Aleworks (brewpub in Santa Rosa). Consequently, this update is going to be California heavy, and most of the beers can’t be found here, but perhaps it’ll give you some insight into beers to look for if you’re ever in the Bay Area.
Widmer Bros Dark Saison (found at Wagner’s; reviewed here)
Auburn Alehouse Gold Digger IPA
Port Brewing Hot Rocks Lager
Magnolia Proving Ground IPA
Lagunitas Censored Rich Copper Ale (aka The Kronic)
Lagunitas Lucky 13.alt
Lagunitas Undercover Investigation Shut-Down Ale
HopMonk Tavern Dunkelweizen
HopMonk Tavern Tavern Ale
Third Street Aleworks Hedrick & Hagen
Third Street Aleworks Puddle Jumper
Third Street Aleworks Armstrong
Southern Pacific Amber Ale
Southern Pacific Helles Lager
Caldera Brewing IPA
Those weren’t all the beers that I had, just the ones that count towards my 366. Lagunitas’ tasting included their Czech Pilsner, IPA, and Pale Ale, and HopMonk served us Russian River’s Pliny the Elder and Moonlight’s Death and Taxes. If you do go to SF anytime before I finally finish a SF bar guide, try to hit up Southern Pacific’s brewpub in the Mission; they brew some pretty great beers and carry some of the other awesome West Coast brews.
I have had a couple of Widmer Brothers beers since moving back to States in 2009, and, to be honest, the jury is still out for me. I’ve had a couple that I find delicious (usually the styles that are not cheap to make but easy to get right like barrel aged stouts) and a few (say, the lemongrass that was unique but not my mug of beer) that finished with the same “only a little bit more to go, just gut it out” facial expression as I have during that last mile of run. Consequently, I have decided to try and stick to their darker style beers for the time being.
Now, I picked up the Widmer Brothers Dark Saison as one of the 24 that I grabbed in the olio (means “mixture” and is a word that gets as much use in crosswords as a Miller Lite tap in a college bar) made possible by a Groupon. Let’s see how it shook out:
Pour: Came out a rich brown color with traces of red. The little white head disappeared in about 10 seconds, and it had loads of carbonation at beginning but then nothing aside from very small bubbles coming up through the middle of the glass..
Aroma: It came off a little sweet with hints of dark fruit (like prunes), but there was a little spice towards the end of a deep inhale, too.
Taste: The Dark Saison was sweet for an instant at the beginning but finished with a mild tartness. The sweetness reminded me of banana chips.
Body: The beer has a nice thin body that has a surprising bit of carbonation, which I wouldn’t expect based on not seeing more bubbles in the beer, but maybe it’s quantity and not quality — lots of wee little bubbles.
In the end, Meh. I’ve had better saisons.
Going into Savor Week, I had hoped to really blow the lid off this whole 366 beers. Unfortunately, I was a bit tied up with various activities, and then I realized that Savor only poured 2 oz samples (probably a good idea with three and half hours of drinking…)
Anyways, I didn’t let the 2 oz thing from keeping me going for seconds on some of the beers I can’t find here (for instance, Cigar City, and I’m pretty sure I did it with Summit’s IPA, too but can’t remember). Additionally, I did manage to meet up J Street’s other bloggers at District of Pi for the Schlafly take-over, which was fantastic! You really can’t beat a Bourbon Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout.
This week’s star beer would be Cigar City Tocobaga (so damn good), but (1) it didn’t even make it on the list since I only managed to get one sample, and (2) the star beer should be something you can get easily here. As a result, I would recommend picking up a bottle of Boulevard’s Double-Wide IPA. Despite the hop-bomb smell, I found the taste to be extremely well balanced. Welcome to DC, Boulevard!!!
6/2/2012 5 Rabbit Cerveceria 5Vulture
6/3/2012 DC Brau Ground Wolf Session IPA
6/6/2012 Schlafly Pi Common
6/6/2012 Schlafly Dry-Hopped American Pale Ale (APA)
6/6/2012 Schlafly Maibock
6/6/2012 Schlafly Bourbon Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout
6/7/2012 Heavy Seas Sea Nymph
6/7/2012 Sam Adams Grumpy Monk
6/7/2012 Boulevard Double-Wide IPA
6/7/2012 Ommegang Art of Darkness
6/8/2012 Boulevard Rye on Rye
6/8/2012 Revival Double Black IPA
6/8/2012 Cigar City Kalevipoeg
6/8/2012 Maui/Jolly Pumpkin Sobrehumano Palena ‘ole
This next week has me heading out to the West Coast where Squirrel and I are visiting the Lagunitas’ and Bear Republic breweries. Going to be a good weekend!
Some of our readers might remember that at the beginning of the year, Tonzi talked me into trying 365 (then Leap Day happened) 366 new brews this year. I’ve been doing pretty well (a full month ahead of schedule) but thought that as I try new beers, some of y’all may be interested in knowing where I found them. Consequently, I’m going to try to update our readers on Friday/Saturday with my weekly beers. Why Friday/Saturday? Well, those are the days that most people drink, and I get most of my new beers on Thursday. That said, if I do find some awesome stash of new beers, I’ll do my best to get those up the day after. Just trying to do my best to help y’all find new beers to try.
On to this past week, 25 May – 2 June 2012
5/25/2012 Independence Pale Ale — Austin, TX
5/25/2012 Real Ale Full Moon Pale Rye Ale — Austin, TX
5/25/2012 Real Ale Devil’s Backbone — Austin, TX
5/26/2012 “(512)” IPA — Austin, TX
5/26/2012 Thirsty Planet Thirsty Goat Amber — Austin, TX
5/26/2012 Thirsty Planet Buckethead IPA — Austin, TX
5/26/2012 Live Oak Liberation Ale — Austin, TX
5/27/2012 Spotzel Shiner Blonde Light — Guadalupe River, TX
5/30/2012 Redhook Pilsner — Bought at Wagner’s on Wisconsin, Washington, DC
5/31/2012 Aying Franz Ayinger Celebrator — RFD, Washington, DC
5/31/2012 Firestone Walker Robust Porter — RFD, Washington, DC
6/1/2012 Long Trail Long Trail Ale — Justin’s Cafe, Washington, DC
6/2/2012 Half Acre Cipher — Santa Tonzi’s Care Package, Washington, DC
6/2/2012 Boston Beer Infinium — Pzyocha’s beer fridge, Washington, DC
6/2/2012 Half Acre Double Daisy Cutter — Santa Tonzi’s Care Package, Washington, DC
So, yea, I spent some time last weekend in Austin, and the beers reflect that; however, there are some good ones that were found here in DC. I would recommend trying to find the Firestone Walker Robust Porter.
This next week should provide a nice boost to my numbers with all the Savor events, in particular, the Schlafly take-over at District of Pi, Sierra Nevada at Churchkey, or the Savor Our Suds at Scion. We’ll just have to see how it turns out. Hopefully my liver survives.
I picked up this beer sometime last year on a trip with Squirrel to D’vines on 14th and Irving NW. The Northern Hemisphere came highly recommended when I tried it and didn’t let me down, so picking up it’s little brother was an easy decision. The beer is an American-style IPA from the west coast brewery (re: I’m expecting hops), Sierra Nevada (re: I’m expecting more hops). On top of all that, Sierra Nevada flies three types of hops from New Zealand that are used to fresh-hop the beer (re: This could easily be a hop-bomb).
Sadly, this big bottle made it’s way to the back of my fridge until a couple of weeks ago. Letting a fresh-hopped beer go that long without drinking was bush league but does allow for an unique tasting of this beer. Let’s get this show on the road!
Pour: The beer comes out a cloudy/creamy amber brown color. Head starts off strong and slowly goes down. You can see the bubbles rise through the cloudy and continue to do so, at least, for as long it took me to down this brew.
Aroma: The scent is actually not as biting/pine-y/grassy/citrus-y as I expected; instead, it has a bit of sweetness from the malt, which helps to mute the fresh hop smell (bit of grassy) that is evident.
Taste: It’s mellow at the beginning then goes into a nice little bit of bitter and ends mellow again. Aging may have mellowed it out a bit but can’t really say for sure since I haven’t had it fresh. You can taste the bitter fresh hops in the middle that were in the aroma. It’s almost like having a mild pine-cone in your mouth.
Body: This beer comes with a full body that seems to fill your mouth. It doesn’t finish clean but with such a balanced/mild last taste, that’s perfectly fine.
Overall, I look forward to trying this one again when it’s re-released, which should be soon, and recommend that you do the same. Now, I need to look in my fridge and make sure there aren’t any other ‘aging aka forgotten’ beers in the back.