Tuesday, January 26, 2016

A COUPLE BEERS OF NOTE FROM MIKE HESS BREWING

Much as we like to complain about all the inane puns that permeate the beer world, stupid plays around the word “hop” for the most part, if you were naming your brewery in a way that set you up for success, would you name it after yourself? “Jay Hinman Brewing”? I don’t think so. I’d go with “Hop Diggity Dog Beer Co.” before boring my audience to death and forcing them to look at my birth name on glassware, bottles & signage. Not Mike Hess of San Diego, California. And just look at him - his MIKE HESS BREWING appears to be one of the most successful and highly-regarded of the many outstanding San Diego brewers.

I was just down there after Xmas and I picked up the free beer newspaper there - the West Coaster, they call it. Jesus H. Christ are there a lot of new brewers down there (!). That town finally has something, besides its amazing weather and beaches, that truly sets it apart from LA and even my hometown of San Francisco. I went to lunch with some family in Mission Beach, and we were kitty-corner from a Mike Hess Brewing taproom (not the main one, but an outpost!) - so I walked in and bought a couple of bottles to throw into the suitcase. Why, one of them is reviewed here!

MIKE HESS BREWING - “SOLIS OCCASUS” - No, not this one, ya knucklehead. This is the one pictured below. I had this in Singapore a few months ago. Where else, right?? It was on draft at Singapore’s Tap Craft Beer Bar, which may very well have been teleported in from Ocean Beach for all the west coast beers they had on draft. This chalky IPA has a good piney tang to it, with pineapple and a general "tropical"-ness to it. Certainly not a big wet kiss of an IPA, it's dry and vert drinkable. 7.5/10.

 
MIKE HESS BREWING - "MAGNA CURCURBITA" - This is a seasonal, a pumpkin stout that I totally fell for. The pumpkin itself is nice and creamy-tasting, kind of in the background of what is otherwise a toasty, smooth, dark and malty ale. There's a bit of creeping cinnamon as well, maybe even a little nutmeg action. What a hoot! This is now on the winter seasonal must-buy list for those of us at Beer Samizdat. 8/10.

Apparently Hess started this place off as a nanobrewery back in 2010, so he's rocking six years under his belt now - a true San Diego grande dame. I bought another bottle, an old ale with a funny name, and I'm thinking about giving that the old one-two this evening. I'll let ya know how it goes.

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Monday, January 25, 2016

I HEART MY SF GIANTS, BUT I SURE DON’T HEART THIS

One of my favorite co-workers at the company I just exited was kind enough to give me a 22-ounce bottle of beer as I crossed the threshold and left for a new career path. Knowing that I’m a lifelong and formerly long-suffering fan of the San Francisco Giants baseball team, and knowing that we both had a high degree of loathing for the work environment in which we toiled, this person thought that the “ORANGE AND BLACK CONGRATS” ale from MOYLAN’S might serve as an excellent send-off, and I applaud the thought. Brewed since the Giants won the 2010 World Series (and now in continual production since they just keep winning ‘em), “Congrats” isn’t something I was planning on trying on my own, but I thought it might be halfway to OK.

It’s a “black ale with oranges”. You know, that had the potential to work, didn’t it? This does not. This citrusy ale is indeed dark, which is anomalous in an interesting way, and it initially has a little zest and grapefruit zing that got my through a few swallows. Then I realized it was so over-carbonated it was almost akin to a 7-Up. Nothing really came together, and after the first few, all subsequent gulps were laborious and not particularly pleasant. That’s not something you wanna have happen when you’re trying to off a 22-ouncer by yourself. Me, I gave up. Drain pour! A sad 4/10 for this one, which is still better than the last Moylan’s beer I reviewed here. What the hell happened to them?

Saturday, January 23, 2016

FOREST AND MAIN’s “PARADISAEIDAE”

This is a brewed-once barrel-aged saison received in the mails via my most recent trade with KAEDRIN BEER BLOG’s proprietor, Mark Ciocco. He lives out Pennsylvania way, and there are brewers out there doing there thing in towns like “Ambler” with names like “FOREST AND MAIN BREWING COMPANY”, brewing things like “PARADISAEIDAE”, a “saison brewed with lemongrass and lime, dry-hopped with motoeuka and barrel-aged”. Commencing to Google. “Motoeuka” = a misspelling, one that only comes up with Forest & Main references under this formulation. It’s a hop from New Zealand, properly called “Motueka”. There it is. Now what about that goddamned beer??

Well, turns out I loved it. It is absolutely loaded with lime, and is a rich, creamy, highly carbonated ale that’s the Thai Food beer of your dreams. I don’t fully believe in “beer pairing” and have always found claims to the contrary to be highly suspect, but I’d reach for this with my Praram Pak or Gai Prig King in a friggin’ heartbeat.

“Paradisaidae” is super cloudy and yeasty, and with barrel-aging taste that only really becomes apparent as it warms. (And this is a beer to sip and savor for sure). Initially it’s a “lime bomb”, maybe the first time that term’s been appropriate to a beer and certainly to a saison. I was all-in on this one and then some, and the fact that they’re a two-person operation in a small space in a small town makes me even more thankful this showed up in my trade box. Kudos to F&M and to Mark for this discovery. 9/10.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

A FEW BRIEF WORDS ABOUT HALF ACRE's "LEAD FEATHER"

No really, I promise - it'll be brief. There's truly not much to say here. HALF ACRE BEER COMPANY are from Chicago. They'd have been completely unknown to me if not for having a hand in one of the greatest beers of all time, which would be their collaboration ale with Perennial about four years ago called "PLAN B", which was drawers-dropping amazing. I even ordered it a second time from some Midwest beer outlet, just so I could bathe in its majesty again. Now it's gone. I wish you and I could have some.

So on their own, they made up a can of something called "LEAD FEATHER". It's an "American black ale", which is to say - it's a black ale. Roasted. Malty. 6% alcohol. Supremely uneventful. You have a pint of this in a bar, and when they come by for a refill and say in a chirpy, sing-song voice, "Another Lead Feather for you...?", you say "Ah....no....I think I'll try a _____". An Anchor Steam. A Full Sail Hefeweizen. A Samuel Adams. Something else. There you have it. My review. 6/10.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

ALLAGASH's "CUVEE D'INDUSTRIAL"

Hey folks, sorry about that - been a while since I rapped at ya. Happy New Year and all that. All sorts of interviews and other content in the works here at Beer Samizdat, so don't delete your bookmark just yet. 

Until then, let's do battle with something we drank back in 2015 - ALLAGASH's "Cuvee d'Industrial", which is an oak-barreled, wild ale blend of beer from 38 different barrels. I'll admit that I bought it 100% based on this review from Kaedrin Beer Blog. He gave it an A, then called it the 4th beer beer of 2015. People on Beer Advocate call it "World Class". Not one half bad for a brewer that I've mostly found to be a little lacking in the price-to-quality ratio for many years now (in other words, I really like their beer when it's on draft in a bar and I can sorta "afford" it, not so much when I'm putting out $12-$25 for a bottle and my expectations run a bit higher).

So "Cuvee d'Industrial" pretty much lands within my non-Kaedrin-stoked expectations right where expected. It's aged for 1-5 years, giving it a nice sweet, oaked taste (of course), along with some flavors of tropical fruit and a general earthy, funky sourness that is at times still overwhelmed by a lot of "barrel" in the mouth. Special enough to spend $19 on a stubby bottle? I don't believe that to be the case, but would still reckon it's about a 7/10.