I’ve had some delicious new beers this winter and wanted to share a couple. First is Ballast Point Calm Before the Storm. If you haven’t tried their Indra Kunindra, you’re missing out on a great beer and a cool bottle. But this one is “Cream ale with coffee and vanilla.” Cream ales are smooth and this is no exception. The vanilla flavor is mild and a bit sweet. I really enjoy not only the beer, but the skeleton parrot. All their labels are fish/sea related and skeletons abound.
The second is Icicle Dark Persuasion (a local brewery). It is advertised as “German chocolate cake ale” and totally actually tastes like it. If you are a sweet dark beer fan, you’ll love this. Mmmm.
Another guest post from the awesome Tentacle Toast!
Founders’ “Bolt Cutter” is another perfectly crafted brew. On the spicier side of the barleywine spectrum, Bolt Cutter has a little bit of a cinnamon kick, with what seems to be a mix of hops layered in that classic caramel body. I never heard of Founders brewery prior to picking this up, but the care that was obviously put into Bolt Cutter persuaded me to try a couple more of their products (with great results, but more on those another day). Next time I grab a bottle, I’m going to grill up a couple steaks, & have some brown sugar spiked acorn squash as a side. I can’t imagine a better pairing. 15% ABV
Another fabulous guest post from Tentacle Toast!
One of the most unique barleywines out there has got to be Mikkeller’s “Big Worse.” It’s quite woody, but also ripe with candied fruits. Floral nose, with more than a hint of apple. It’s like drinking a fruitcake with a carmel topping. Very strange, but well designed, & worth a go. A liquid conversation piece, if you serve it in a glass to friends. 12%ABV, but be warned, its well hidden! I wouldn’t be surprised if the alcohol percentage turned out to be higher; while I was drinking it, I thought that it was exceptionally low, as it was virtually indiscernable… I took my time consuming a single bottle, & found myself to be MUCH more affected than usual. I am by no means a small man, nor am I unfamiliar with stronger brews, so here would be a good place for a friendly reminder to play it safe, as you never know how it’ll hit you!
Tentacle Toast is at it again! Plus I accidentally stabbed my hand with a knife last night, so art is on hold for a few days.
Dogfish Head’s “Palo Santo Marron” is worth a mention. This used to be in my top 5, but has slid a few in the rankings because of what tastes like – and this is hard to describe if you haven’t been a consistent consumer – committee involvement. Don’t get me wrong, this is still a solid, great tasting beer that’s blacker than night with the viscosity of motor oil. It’s like drinking a cigar. But for some reason, the last year or two it seems like they’re playing it safe, & not being quite as daring with tweaking of the recipe…or it could be that they’ve decided one more stroke would ruin the painting. I don’t know, as mentioned, I’m no expert. It’s available year round, & I used to be able to tell when a new batch came out instantly upon taking the first sip (sometimes just by pouring it into the glass by the nose alone). Now it’s so stable, that there’s no variation at all. Still ripping with alcohol though, 12% by volume, & worth picking up a 4-pack, if you’ve never tried it.
Quilter’s Irish Death from Iron Horse Brewery attracted me with its bottle design. Who wouldn’t want to drink a local dark beer with a skull on it? It’s touted as a dark, smooth ale. The flavor is good, but when I opened the bottle, it was flat. I purchased it less than a week earlier at a Safeway. (have I mentioned Washington now has beer and liquor in its grocery stores? YAY) There were a few tiny bubbles but only after I poured it as roughly as I could into a glass – no head at all. It was just flat. My question: is it supposed to be that way? I would imagine not. Any experience with it?
I haven’t posted about beer in a while because I haven’t found any new ones worth mentioning. But I just discovered an excellent one in New Belgium’s Lips of Faith beers: Cocoa Mole Ale. It has many flavors layered together in a way that is interesting and not at all overwhelming. I enjoyed the entire big bottle without feeling overwhelmed, like you do with some strongly flavored dark beers.
The first taste is chocolately and spicy at the same time. The chili pepper flavor is just that – flavor, but not really hot. It also has a distinct cinnamon flavor, and the aftertaste is very spicy. It really is like an excellent mole sauce. I love it and can’t wait to get it at the store again. I need to go to Fort Collins again just to try it fresh. This one gets a 10!
My recent trip to Washington introduced me to a new beer, Alaskan Amber. It’s brown and sweet and delicious. Smooth and mild, it goes well with fish and chips (and probably a lot more but that’s the only thing I tried). If you’re in a region that sells it, I recommend trying this one on tap. And if you can, try their stout and smoked porter and report back to me!
We’re about due for a beer-related post. I have a few more ratings up my sleeve… but as for new beers, I’ve exhausted the supply at my local store. They don’t get many new dark beers during the summer. So I’m asking you, my dear beer-drinking readers, to suggest some beers for review. They have to be local or nationwide, since I can’t get anything shipped to me. OR, if you have some favorite local stouts or porters, and want to do a guest review, let me know!!
Last night I had a tasty beer at a pub that led me to a quandary. I had Belhaven Scottish Cream Ale, on tap. It was tasty and dark and sweet and complex. I liked.
I came back home and looked at my massive spreadsheet o’ beer and discovered why the name looked familiar – I’ve had Belhaven Scottish Ale in the bottle. It’s dark and tart and bitter, with a hint of sweet in the middle. It wasn’t bad for a Scottish ale, but not my favorite. Granted, it’s been a while since I had the bottled version, and the name isn’t exactly the same, but the two tasted very different. Hmm, beer quandary…
Have some Irish beer this week. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
No new art this week – I’m working my tail off on a portrait commission that I can’t show anybody. So, you get beer instead!
Our wonderful friends Kay-bot and Tonyzilla gave us three new dark beers to try. I haven’t seen these in our stores – our friends are from Michigan – enforcing my suspicion that I’ll have to do a cross-country beer-tasting road trip.
O’Fallon Cherry Chocolate Ale is something to behold. Although it’s an ale, its flavor is dark and delicious. As the name suggests, it tastes just like a dark-chocolate-covered cherry, but far milder and less sweet. It’s light and crisp, making it much more drinkable than an actual chocolate-covered-cherry might lead you to believe. The flavor is slightly more cherry than chocolate, and is very smooth. It has absolutely no bite, although a small bite might improve it even more.
A wonderful, refreshing, different beer. Smiles all around.