Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Amber Ale – Duck-Rabbit Craft Brewery

                Earlier this week I enjoyed a Duck-Rabbit Milk Stout and posted a write-up on it this past Monday.  Since then I have tried their Amber Ale.  Unfortunately the Amber Ale is the last Duck-Rabbit beer that I have, and will likely be the last of their beers that I can review until they start distributing to Wisconsin.

                On to the review, at Beeradvocate, Duck-Rabbit Amber ale has a score of 78.  Over at ratebeer it has a score of 48 overall and 65 for style.  Pretty low ratings at ratebeer, but from what I have seen, the ratings there trend low.

They Say:

                The Duck-Rabbit Amber Ale is a medium bodied beer with a lovely tawny copper or bronze color. This brew emphasizes malt complexity with layered caramel malt flavors. We put a lot of effort into getting this amber ale just right and we're extremely proud of the result!

I Say:
                Duck-Rabbit Amber Ale pours brilliantly clear reddish amber with a moderate tan head that holds excellent retention and leaves considerable lacing in the glass.  The aroma is of light caramel malts with slight citrus hop notes.

                Amber Ale is pleasant malty, with a moderate level or caramel sweetness that is well balanced by citrusy hop flavor and a moderate level of hop bitterness.  It is medium bodied with a moderate to high level of carbonation.

                Duck-Rabbit Amber Ale is a good and very drinkable beer that I recommend if you enjoy the style.  Many amber ales overshoot either the sweetness or the hop bitterness and are less drinkable as a result, Duck-Rabbit strikes the balance well.  Unfortunately the distribution area for Duck-Rabbit is still fairly limited; hopefully they will expand distribution soon.

                That’s all for now, check back soon for another post.

                Happy Drinking!!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Milk Stout – Duck-Rabbit Craft Brewery

               The Duck-Rabbit Craft Brewery is a small microbrewery from Farmville, North Carolina.  Founded by Paul Philippon, a former philosophy professor at East-Michigan University, Duck-Rabbit opened and sold their first beer in August of 2004.  As a former philosophy professor, Philippon chose the Duck-Rabbit/Rabbit-Duck illusion as his inspiration for not only the name but also the symbol of his brewery.

                Originally appearing in a German Humor Magazine in the 1892, the Duck-Rabbit was republished by Harper’s weekly in 1892; an American psychologist, Joseph Jastrow in 1899; a German philosopher named Ludwig Wittgenstein in 1953 and an American philosopher, Thomas Kuhn in 1962.  The Duck-Rabbit represents the way in which the same image can be perceived in two very different ways.  At the point, Jastrow, Wittegenstein and then Kuhn were making a very cogent point that perception is not directly dictated by outside stimuli, but rather by an individual’s perception of those stimuli.

Whether you see the duck first, or the rabbit first often has more to do with other events in your life, for instance children are more likely to see it as a rabbit if they are shown an image of the duck-rabbit around Easter.  The duck-rabbit shows that our perceptions may not always align with reality because we see either what we want to see, or what we fear to see.  As for me, I prefer to see my beer glass full, or at the very least half full.

On to the review.  At Beeradvocate, Milk Stout has a score of 86.  Over at ratebeer, it has a score of 94 overall and a 90 for style. 

They Say: 

The Duck-Rabbit Milk Stout is a traditional full-bodied stout brewed with lactose (milk sugar). The subtle sweetness imparted by the lactose balances the sharpness of the highly roasted grains which give this delicious beer its black color.

I Say:

                Duck-Rabbit Milk Stout pours a dark translucent mahogany with a thin, light tan head that holds moderate retention, receding to the edges of the glass over the course of a few minutes and leaves behind intricate lacing.  The aroma is milk chocolate, vanilla, caramel, roasted malts and a slight nuttiness with a low-level, lingering alcohol notes.

                The flavor is full of coffee, chocolate, caramel, smoke and roasted barley.  It has a slight fruity sweetness and a tart lactic acid note (similar to yogurt), with a bitter-sweet finish.  The Duck-Rabbit Milk Stout is medium bodied with a moderate to high level of carbonation. 

                The Duck-Rabbit Milk Stout was a good milk-stout, and is certainly one of the better milk stouts that I have had.  The only fault that I found with it was the slight note of lactic acid, which is a sign of infection.  It did not distract from the beer, but I doubt it was an intended flavor.  I would be very interested in trying another bottle to verify whether my experience was just a fault characteristic of one bottle, or if it is a true characteristic of the beer.  That said, I am looking forward to the bottle of Duck-Rabbit Amber that I have waiting in my fridge.

                That’s all for today, be sure to check back on Wednesday for review of Duck-Rabbit Amber Ale.

                Happy Drinking!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

2012 Killer Penguin Barley Wine – Boulder Beer Co

                Winter is the season of the barleywine.  A full flavored, complex, high alcohol brew, the barley wine often has considerable alcohol warmth that is both soothing and relaxing.  Unlike many other beer styles and a majority of the beer consumed around the world which are lighter and crisper, good barleywine is something to be sipped and contemplated like cognac or whiskey.  It is certainly not a style for the faint of heart.  A good barleywine is something to be cherished, and with that in mind I picked up a bottle of the 2012 vintage of Killer Penguin from the Boulder Beer Company.

                Colorado’s first micro-brewery, the Boulder Beer Company, originally named the Boulder Brewing Company was founded on September 1979 by David Hummer, Alvin Nelson and Randolf Ware.   Hummer and Ware were physics professors at the University of Colorado – Boulder.  Starting small, Hummer, Nelson and Ware began on a small farm northeast of Boulder, in a shed shared with goats.  In 1980, Boulder Brewing went public and quickly developed a fan base with their Boulder Porter, Stout and Extra Special Bitter.  Within 5 years, the Boulder Brewing Company had expanded considerably, moving into a much larger facility with a 50-barrel brew house.

                In 1990, after having had five different owners in a six year span and millions in debt the Boulder Beer Co went into bankruptcy.  When Dina Day and Diane Greenlee purchased the Boulder Beer Company and brought in a new Brewmaster, David Zuckerman the company underwent radical changes, bringing in more investment capital and in 1993, undergoing a name change to become the Rockies Brewing Company.  Understanding the need to develop more, unique and full flavored beers, Zuckerman developed Buffalo Gold and Single-track Copper Ale.  The brewery continued to expand in 1994 and the original tasting room was converted to a full-service brewpub.  By 2002, Rockies Brewing entered into a strategic agreement with the Rock Bottom Brewery in Denver, allowing Rock Bottom to brew and sell Single-track, a beer that would become the best-selling beer at the Rock Bottom, Denver location.

                In 2003, the “Looking Glass” series was debuted, a more aggressive line which included Mojo India Pale Ale and Hazed & Infused, among others.  Unfortunately, by that time all of the original recipes save that for Planet Porter had been phased out and lost.  By 2005, the brewery once again changed its name, becoming the Boulder Beer Company yet again.

                The Boulder Beer Company is well known for being environmentally focused and civic minded, becoming a sponsoring partner of Boulder’s “10 for a Change Challenge,” which is focused on reducing energy consumption by 10% through the use of eco-friendly improvements.  The brewpub is also PACE Certified (Partners for a Clean Environment) because of their use of bio-diesel fuel, recycled/compostable carry out containers, and recycling.  Additionally, if you pick up a 6-pack of their beers you will notice that their 6-pack carriers are made of recycled paper and are printed with non-petroleum based inks.

                Additionally, they host an annual “Goatshed Revival” Beer Festival, in honor of their meager origins.  For those of you who are home brewers, you may be interested to know that they also stage an annual homebrew competition, with the winning entry being brewed and distributed by the Boulder Beer Company.

                Well, that was a lot, on to the review.  On Beeradvocate, Killer Penguin has a score of 54 from the Bros and an overall score of 80.  Over at ratebeer, it has a score of 84 overall and a 41 for style.  I am weary of the scores at both sites though, because some reviewers are complaining that they don’t like the 2013 vintage, or that the bottles weren’t waxed, or that they drank it cold and didn’t thought it was bland.  Anyone who drinks a barley wine fresh from the fridge doesn’t deserve to drink a barley wine (proper serving temperature is 14-16 C/ 57-61F).

They Say:

                Our extremely limited winter barleywine ale. Traditional winter seasonals are warm and comforting -- not this bird! Diving in at around 10 percent alcohol by volume, Killer Penguin uses over twice the malt as other winter beers. Aged to perfection, this beer doesn't ferment, it hibernates -- and wakes up with an attitude!
  • 10% ABV
  • 60 IBU
  • Malt: Pale Malt, 70/80L Crystal Malt
  • Hops: Nugget, Willamette, Cascade
From the Bottle:

                Dark garnet red in color with undertones of candied fruit, Killer Penguin is an aggressive, full-flavored Barleywine-style ale and a perfect beer to share among friends.  Once a year we release a very limited amount of Killer Penguin, making this our most rare and sought-after beer.

I Say:

                Killer Penguin pours an exceptionally clear, deep, dark burgundy with a thick, creamy off-white head that holds moderate retention, multiple minutes, before fading to cling to the edges of the glass, leaving behind exquisite lacing.  The aroma is of raisins, plums, candied almonds, brown sugar, and a definite note of alcohol.

                The flavor is of raisins, plums, vanilla, dark cherries, and caramelized sugars; with additional herbal, floral and minor fruity notes from the hops.  The 10% alcohol does present some warmth, but it is restrained in the flavor, lingering just out of perception.  Killer Penguin is medium to full bodied with a low to moderate level of carbonation

                Killer Penguin is a very good beer and a very respectable barleywine.  It further justifies my feelings that the ratings on the two big sites are to be taken with a grain of salt at best.  If you want a very good barley wine, do not let the ratings sites scare you away, pick up a bottle of Killer Penguin.  Just be sure to chill it appropriately and drink it in a goblet, tulip, or wine glass to fully experience this excellent beer!

                That’s all for today, be sure to check back soon for a new review!

                Happy Drinking!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Madame Rose – Goose Island

                MadameRose from Goose Island was most recently released last September.  It is a Belgian-style, sour beer that is somewhere between a Flanders Red, a Kriek (Cherry Lambic) and an Oud Bruin.  It quickly sold out at my local liquor store, although I have seen a few lingering bottles in Milwaukee area as recently as last week, so if you act quickly you can likely still find a bottle somewhere.  

                If you are interested in some background on Goose Island, check out my earlier post on 2012 release of Bourbon County Stout.  On to the review:

                On Beeradvocate, Madame Rose has a score of 93.  Over at ratebeer, it has a score of 99 overall and 93 for style.

They Say: 

Brewer's Notes:
Madame Rose is a crimson colored Belgian style brown ale fermented with wild yeast and aged on cherries in wine barrels. Layers of malty complexity, sour cherry, spice and wood notes make Madame Rose an ideal beer to suggest to Bordeaux enthusiasts and beer drinkers fond of Belgian Kriek and Flanders Brown Ales.

Recipe Information:
Style: Belgian Style Brown Ale
Alcohol by Volume: 7.1%
International Bitterness Units: 25
Color: Deep Crimson
Hops: Fuggles
Malt: 2-Row, Caramel, Wheat, Dark Chocolate, Victory
Serving Suggestions:
Preferred Glass: Wide Mouth Glass
Food Pairings: Madame Rose pairs well with a wide variety of foods, her earthy tannin, rich malt and sour fruit character complement the richness of red meats and contrast with rich chocolate desserts.
Cheese Pairings: Firm cow milk cheese like aged cheddar

Cellaring Notes: Develops in the bottle for up to 5 years

Limited Release
Bottles: 650mL

I Say:

                Madame Rose pours a clear deep mahogany, with scarlet highlights. It has a thick, creamy tan head with a moderate level of retention that slowly fades to the edges of the glass and leaves behind intricate lacing.  The aroma is full of malty sweetness with notes of sour red cherries, toasted oak, red grapes and lingon berries with a slight bready note on the back end.  The aroma becomes increasingly complex as Madam Rose warms in the glass.

                The flavor is sweet upfront with tart/sour cherry and toasted oak notes.  Rounding out the oak and cherries are notes of caramelized sugars, a hint of blueberries, a slight red wine-like acidity, and sour note that reminded me of Sour Patch kids.  There is a subtle hint of red wine vinegar in the finish.  With the addition of the sediment from the bottle, Madame Rose takes on a very smooth, subtle cherry flavor that is reminiscent of a semi-sweet cherry wine.

                Madame Rose is light to medium bodied with a moderate to high level of carbonation and has low level of alcohol warmth.

                This is a very interesting beer.  The flavors all meld together to create a moderately complex sour that is still approachable for a majority of beer drinkers.  If you can get past the fact that Goose Island is no longer a true craft brewery now that AB – Inbev, owns them be sure to pick up a bottle.  If you cannot get past that, you are missing out on a quality beer.  A quick note though, the prices of a bottle of Madame Rose vary widely, $12 – 25.  At $12, it is definitely worth your money; at $25, not so much.

                That’s all for today, Check back soon for another review!

                Happy MLK Jr. Day and Happy Drinking!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Judgment Day – The Lost Abbey

                 When I went back to Colorado, my dad picked up a bottle of Judgment Day that he and I jokingly split on Dec 21, the supposed end of the world. Tongue in cheek, we figured what better beer to imbibe on what some thought to be the last day on earth. Laughing, we each poured a glass and found it to be a very enjoyable and welcoming beer that would make any beer geek happy. Perhaps as the label suggests it would make even the stingiest of angels happy as they round up humanity for the final judgment.

                As with all of the beers from The Lost Abbey, it is a serious beer that required serious contemplation. A Belgian Abt/Quad, it was rich and malty, begging to be sipped rather than quaffed with reckless abandon. But then, I am getting ahead of myself. If you are interested in more information on The Lost Abbey, check out my earlier post on Inferno Ale.

                Without further ado, on with the review. On Beeradvocate, Judgment Day currently has a score of 87. Over at ratebeer, it has a score of 99 overall and a 95 for style. As is often the case, the two review sites offer very different opinions on a beer, yet another reason the scores should be taken with a grain of salt.

They Say:

                A massive beer in every sense of the word. A stronger and more contemplative version of our Lost and Found Ale. Judgment Day is the base beer for our Cuvee de Tomme. Many of the Trappist Breweries produce a version of beer which ages incredibly well for many years to come. And, since none of us knows when the end of the world is coming, we suggest you stock up with lots of Lost Abbey beers so that when the end of the world magically appears from no where, you’ll have a beer or two on hand for even the stingiest of angels. Available in 750ml bottles and on draft at select inspired locations.

                OG 1.092 TG 1.014 10.5% ABV

                · Malts - Two Row, Wheat, Medium and Dark English Crystal, Special B and Chocolate Malt.

                · Hops - Challenger and East Kent Golding

                · Yeast - Proprietary Belgian Ale Strain

                · Adjuncts - Dextrose and Raisins

The Judgment Day story

                The story has been told and we and have been warned about this very moment- Judgment Day and the end of the world as we cease to know it. There will be but one instance where the sunny blue pastoral skies turn sickly black revealing the imminent demise of every soul caught between heaven and hell. From the skies the angels of heaven will race to rescue the virtuous souls before the thundering herd of the 4 Horsmen arrive from the depths of hell to claim more than their fair share.
Each of us will ride a wave of terror or relief not knowing from which lot our souls have been cast. It is wholly possible that the Sinners and Saints alike will unite. For sure, each will thrash about in the tumultuous sea of uncertainty not knowing in this abyss whether they bear the mark of the Father or the mark of the Beast himself.

                There will be a litany of screams from the departing souls riding bareback on the shoulders of the Black Horse. Each of us will be examined and our lives will be scrutinized. It is decreed and so written. Life as we know it will one day cease to exist. Surely you will stand there having all your questions answered.

                Did you believe there would be a Judgment Day? Have you ever thought about what you’ll be doing when the Four Horsemen arrive? Perhaps you’ll be drinking this Belgian Dark Quad styled Ale when they appear? However, since we have no idea when our time will expire or when we’ll be forced to cash in our tickets, we offer this simple advice.

                Live an inspired life. Find opportunities in everything to make a difference. Seek out new and spontaneous adventures and when you find them, embrace them as if they were the devil’s song. For an interesting life is one worth living. Challenge yourself to embrace passion, persistence and a motivated way of life. So that when Judgment Day arrives from nowhere, you’ll go out knowing full well that you’ve lived your life on your terms and they can’t take that away from you.

Tomme’s Tasting Notes

From the Bottle

                Do you believe there will be a Judgement Day?  Have you ever thought about what you’ll be doing when the Four Horsemen arrive?  Perhaps you’ll be drinking this Belgian-Style Dark Quad Ale when they appear.  However, since we have no idea when our time will expire or when we’ll be forced to cash in our tickets, we offer this simple advice.  Live an inspired life.  Find opportunities in everything to make a difference.  Seek out new and spontaneous adventures, and when you find them, embrace them as if they were the devil’s song.  For an interesting life is worth living.  Challenge yourself to embrace passion, persistence and a motivated way of life.  So that when Judgment Day approaches from nowhere you’ll go out knowing you’ve lived your life on your own terms and they can’t take that away from you.

I Say:
                Judgment Day pours a deep mahogany, bordering on opaque black with a thick, creamy tan head that holds excellent retention throughout the glass and left behind exquisite lacing.  The aroma is full of raisins, plums, figs, dark cherries, sweet malts, caramelized sugars, with hints of fresh banana and clove.  Surprisingly there is very little alcohol in the aroma, given its 10.8% ABV.

               The flavor is very big and bold with raisins, figs, sweet malts and caramelized sugars backed up by a strong, yet smooth alcohol notes.  Judgment Day is medium to full-bodied with a moderate to high level of carbonation that nicely tempers both the body and the alcohol notes.

                This truly excellent beer is deserving of such a high-minded name.  Be careful though, you may be judged unworthy to enjoy it.  When the end of the world does come, this would be the perfect beer to have on hand.

                That’s all for today, be sure to check back soon for another new post.

                Happy Drinking!