29 October 2010

Bell's Lager of the Lakes (Bell's Week Day 5)

Bell's Lager of the Lakes
Kalamazoo, MI
5.0% ABV

This was Bell's Batch number 9713, bottled June 23, 2010. I shot this review on October 7.

This was actually the only Bell's beer that I only tried once. Mainly because the first time I tried it I definitively disliked this beer. Would a second try prove to be better?

Zymurgical Explorations rating: 4.0/10

28 October 2010

Bell's Porter (Bell's Week Day 4 of 8)

Bell's Porter (bottle)
Kalamazoo, MI
5.6% ABV

This was batch number 9889 and was bottled on July 16, 2010. I reviewed it on October 6.

This is a quite nice American porter. Sweet, but with a nice dryness and some caramel quality. I don't drink a lot of porters, but this one isn't bad at all.

Zymurgical Explorations rating: 7.0/10

27 October 2010

Bell's Oarsman Ale (Bell's Week Day 3 of 8)

Bell's Oarsman Ale (bottle)
Kalamazoo, MI
4.0% ABV

This is Batch Number 9934, bottled on September 20, 2010, and reviewed on October 5.

Oarsman Ale is a brand-new regular release from Bell's, an American Pale Wheat Ale made with sour mash techniques. Which is fascinating, but doesn't make for a great product.

Zymurgical Explorations rating: 4.5/10

26 October 2010

Bell's Amber Ale (Bell's Week Day 2 of 8)

Bell's Amber Ale (bottle)
Kalamazoo, MI
5.8% ABV

This is day 2 of Bell's Week, Bell's Amber Ale. This is batch number 9916, which was bottled on August 22, 2010. I shot this review on October 4.

Zymurgical Explorations rating: 7.5/10

25 October 2010

Bell's Third Coast Beer (Bells Week Day 1 of 8)

Bell's Third Coast Beer
Kalamazoo, MI
4.8% ABV

This is Bell's Week Day 1 of 8. Batch number is 9888. According to Bell's website, this was bottled on July 22, 2010. I reviewed it on October 3, 2010.

Zymurgical Explorations rating: 7.5/10

24 October 2010

Avery duganA IPA

Avery duganA IPA (bottle)
Boulder, CO
8.5% ABV

A good, but basically forgettable, DIPA from Avery.

Zymurgical Explorations rating: 8.0/10

23 October 2010

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale (bottle)
Chico, CA
5.8% ABV

This is one of the beers that arguably started the entire American microbrew market. And I'm reviewing it. Whee!

Sorry about the audio -- it was windier outside than I realized and by the time I got the editing it was too late.

Zymurgical Explorations rating: 7.5/10

22 October 2010

Reissdorf Kolsch

Reissdorf Kolsch (bottle)
Koln, Germany
4.8% ABV

I had a request from Youtube user grandilochris to review more German beers. Asked and answered.

I haven't had a lot of Kolschbiers, so I'm sorry if I couldn't really analyze it within style. It's quite a nice beer, though.

I'm also sorry that I can't pronounce the word "kolsch." Any German speakers who can correct me are welcome to do so.

Zymurgical Explorations rating: 7.5/10

21 October 2010

Fullers Vintage Ale 2007

Fullers Vintage Ale 2007
London, England
8.5% ABV

Beer review #100! Never thought I'd get this far. Thanks to everyone who's watched, commented, rated, and especially subscribed. We're going to be doing a lot more beer reviews.

This is an Old Ale bottled by Fullers in 2007. I checked their website, and they claimed it would be just about perfect around this time. So I made it my 100th review. Turned out to be a really very nice beer.

I end the video by thanking my subscribers and talking a bit about what to expect in the next 100.

Many thanks to all who have participated in this. Looking forward to doing another 100. Cheers!

Zymurgical Explorations rating: 9.5/10

20 October 2010

Founders Nemesis 2010

Founders Nemesis 2010 (bottle)
Grand Rapids, MI
12.0% ABV

This is video beer review number 99. Awesome.

I had the Nemesis 2009 and was somewhat less than overwhelmed. It was a really good beer, but didn't live up to the hype. The 2010 bottling, though, is amazing -- very much worth the energy needed to buy it. A great American barleywine, perfectly balanced between hop and malt, between sweet and bitter, between dry and cloying.

Zymurgical Explorations rating: 10/10

19 October 2010

Founders KBS (Kentucky Breakfast Stout)

I review one of my all-time personal favorite beers. Sorry for the spoiler, but do I really have to hide the fact that this one is awesome?

Despite the fact that I love this beer, I go on a bit of a rant about how these kinds of beers, i.e. those super-limited release beers that sell out in about twenty-three seconds, are probably not good for the craft beer industry as a whole. So I'm really not rocking the boat on this stuff at all.

Zymurgical Explorations rating: 10/10

18 October 2010

Heavy Seas The Greater Pumpkin

Heavy Seas The Greater Pumpkin (bottle)
Baltimore, MD
9.0% ABV

The Oak-Aged version of yesterday's Great Pumpkin Ale. Shot outside just because it was a beautiful fall day and I wanted to enjoy it.

I liked this one pretty much just as much as I liked the regular Great Pumpkin. Which is a lot.

Zymurgical Explorations rating: 8.5/10

17 October 2010

Heavy Seas The Great Pumpkin

Heavy Seas The Great Pumpkin (bottle)
Baltimore, MD
8.0% ABV

I know, I said I wouldn't do any more pumpkin beers. But this one is an Imperial Pumpkin, and besides there's also an oak-aged version of this beer, which I plan on reviewing tomorrow.

This is video beer review number 96. The hundredth video approaches....

Zymurgical Explorations rating: 8.0/10

16 October 2010

Stone Vertical Epic 10.10.10

The Stone Vertical Epic series is a highly-sought-after beer series, even though it's pretty available if you look for it. This year's bottling is a Tripel with some muscat grapes and Gewurztraminer added for complexity.

At first I got a whole lot of the grapes without a lot of the Belgian beer characteristics, but once it warmed I liked it a lot more. It's a good beer, but a bit hard to drink.

Zymurgical Explorations rating: 8.5/10

15 October 2010

Cesky-Weizen Tasting

Bottled it a week ago, figured I'd pop it open and give it a shot.

You can watch the brew session in which I made it if you want. Part One is here:


and Part Two is here:


Short's Bloody Beer

Short's Bloody Beer (bottle)
Elk Rapids, MI
8.5% ABV (???)

Another weird beer from Short's. The label says it's supposed to taste like a bloody mary. Does it?

Zymurgical Explorations rating: 6.0/10

13 October 2010

North Coast Le Merle Saison

North Coast Le Merle Saison
Fort Bragg, CA
7.9% ABV

This one was a request from a real-life friend of mine named Doug. Since I'm pretty much up for any beer, I bought a bottle and tried it.

It ended up tasting like a decent, but fairly unauthentic saison. Lots of citrus along with the Belgian funkiness -- it ends up tasting a little bit like a Belgian beer mixed with orange juice or something. Very drinkable, though.

Zymurgical Explorations rating: 8.0/10

12 October 2010

Bell's Best Brown Ale (mini-keg)

Bell's Best Brown Ale (mini-keg)
Kalamazoo, MI
5.8% ABV

While at the Bell's General Store buying some homebrew supplies, I happened to see the new Best Brown mini-kegs. The design of the can was so cool I had to buy one.

The beer's better than I've ever tasted it, too.

Zymurgical Explorations rating: 8.0/10

11 October 2010

Dark Horse Crooked Tree IPA

Dark Horse Crooked Tree IPA (bottle)
Marshall, MI
6.0% ABV

A quick and dirty beer review after work. A very nice IPA, though.

Zymurgical Explorations rating: 8.5/10

10 October 2010

Dogfish Head Fort | Beer Review

Dogfish Head Fort
Milton, DE
18.0% ABV

I have a special guest for this review: my girlfriend Shana. She was intrigued by this beer not just because she likes fruit beers, but because of the great label art by comic-book artist Tara McPhereson.

Have I mentioned that my girlfriend loves me?

Zymurgical Explorations rating: 8.5/10
Shana's rating: 9.0/10

09 October 2010

Left Hand Milk Stout

Left Hand Milk Stout
Longmont, CO
5.2% ABV

Well, it's no Mackeson XXX, but it's a decent beer nonetheless.

Zymurgical Explorations rating: 8.5/10

08 October 2010

Fuller's London Pride

Fuller's London Pride
London, England
4.7% ABV

I was goofing off when I shot this one and pretended to be Simon from the Real Ale Guide for a minute. Crackin' head on this one, eh? Four point seven percent in the volume.

I kid, I kid.

Great session beer, one of my favorites of the kind. Almost a perfect comfort beer.

Zymurgical Explorations rating: 9.0/10

07 October 2010

Founders Breakfast Stout

Founders Breakfast Stout
Grand Rapids, MI
8.3% ABV

Not their KBS (formerly Kentucky Breakfast Stout), but a very nice beer anyway. Strong coffee notes, rich oatmeal, with lots of dark bittersweet chocolate. Limited availability on this one, so drink it while you can.

Zymurgical Explorations rating: 9.5/10

06 October 2010

Short's Autumn Ale Extra Special Bitter

Short's Autumn Ale Extra Special Bitter (bottle)
Elk Rapids, MI
5.75% ABV

This is another limited-release beer from Short's. In the last year or so, they've done about twenty of these, which is simply astonishing.

Anyway, this reminded me a lot of a homebrew. It has a very "fresh" or "green" taste, with a nice smooth maltiness and very earthy hops. Interesting, but not exactly a classic ESB.

Zymurgical Explorations rating: 7.5/10

(Note: there's some bonus cat footage at the end where Phoebe wouldn't stay out of camera frame long enough for me to shoot the video. She's a little attention whore. It will probably give you a bit of behind-the-scenes insight into how I shoot these things, if you're an attentive viewer.)

05 October 2010

My Homebrew: Cesky-Weizen

I decided to do a sort of "day in the life" of a homebrewer here. I brewed a new recipe, what I'm calling a Cesky-weizen, because it's a hefeweizen made with Czech hops and with a bit more caramel malt to give it the sweetness of the pilsners I had in the Czech Republic.

In part one of the video I go shopping for ingredients, describe what goes into the beer, and describe how to make a mash tun and do the general prepwork that goes into making beer.

Part Two shows the mash, the sparge, the boil, and just general goofing around in between.

I hope you guys like these videos. I'm planning on doing some version of this (but probably shorter) on every brew day, so let me know if there's anything you want to see.

Don Osborn's site is here. You can go there to lean how to make the mash tun I use. His Youtube channel is @donosborn. He makes great videos -- check him out.

Cesky-Weizen Recipe:
6lbs Pilsner Malt
4lbs Wheat Malt
2 lbs Red Wheat Malt
1lb Caramel Malt 60L
1 oz Saaz (90 min)
.5 oz Saaz (30 min)
.5 oz Saaz (15 min)
1 vial White Labs Hefeweizen IV yeast (from starter)

BrewDog Rip Tide Twisted Merciless Stout

BrewDog Rip Tide Twisted Merciless Stout
Aberdeensire, Scotland
8.0% ABV

This one goes right to the top of my all-time favorite stouts list. Which was totally unexpected, as I've been iffy on some BrewDog stuff up until now.

I'm starting to recommend food pairings towards the end of the videos. Let me know if that's appreciated or just annoying.

Zymurgical Explorations rating: 9.5/10

04 October 2010

Bell's Hell Hath No Fury Ale

This is a Belgian Dubbel made by Bell's only every two years. Since I missed it right after I moved into town in 2008, this is my first time trying it. It has strong chocolate notes and a very nice Belgian yeast character -- a very good beer that I'll be drinking more of before it disappears.

This is Bell's Batch Number 9999, which means that Batch 10,000 can't be far away. Score!

Zymurgical Explorations rating: 9.0/10

02 October 2010

Chimay Grand Reserve (Chimay Blue)

Chimay Grand Reserve (Chimay Blue) (bottle)
Baileux (Chimay), Belgium
9.0% ABV

This was a request from Youtube user 19timus1. Thanks to Tim for requesting it -- I love doing requested beers.

I got a cork explosion when I opened the beer, which is pretty amusing to watch. Check it out.

I also eat a bit of the Chimay Blue-label cheese as a bonus to the review. I didn't like the cheese as much as the beer, but it definitely pairs well with it. If you buy the cheese, definitely pick up a bottle of the beer as a pairing.

Zymurgical Explorations rating: 8.0/10

01 October 2010

Abita SOS (Save Our Shore)

Abita SOS (Save Our Shore) (bottle)
Abita Springs, LA
7.0% ABV

I shot this while I was waiting out the boil on a homebrew session. I shot a bunch of video during the homebrew, and will be uploading that in the next couple of days, probably over the weekend.

I went into this not expecting much, but the Abita SOS is actually a very nice, clean, refreshing German-style Pilsner, one that stands up to pretty much any beer I've had. It compares nicely even with the lagers I had in the Czech Republic, which is saying something.

Seventy-five cents of every bottle goes to recovery efforts from the oil spill in the Gulf, so this is worth purchasing for two reasons -- the quality, and the charity.

Zymurgical Explorations rating: 8.0/10

The Drink Like a Fish charity concert video: