Monday, March 4, 2013

Quick Hit: Blue Moon Valencia Grove Amber

I love my daughter. At the tender age of 5, she loves going on brewery tours, specifically the Coors tour, mostly for the free root beer in the lounge at the end. Daddy likes this, because it gives us quality daddy/daughter bonding time and I get free beer samples.

This time around, Blue Moon's new spring seasonal, Valencia Grove Amber, was on tap. I'd noticed this in the stores but was hesitant to buy a whole sixer due to my displeasure with the Winter seasonal. I figured this was a great chance to try it for few, and I'd only have about a third of a bottle to drink in case it was terrible.

Terrible, no. Deserving any kind of remote relationship to the famous Valencia orange, nope. Again, Blue Moon's brewing fails to deliver on their ad copy promises. I detected not the slightest hint of orange in either the nose or the flavor. While the flavor was clean and crisp, probably owing to the freshness of the keg, if you name something "Valencia Grove," there should be SOME orange character, right?

With all due respect to Keith Villa and the guys and gals at Blue Moon, sorry, but you swung and missed... Again.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Quick Hits: Firestone Walker Velvet Merlin and Blue Moon Winter Abbey 2012

When I don't have the time or inclination to take pictures or do an all-out, in-depth review, I'll post these Quick Hits.

My local liquor store has started doing $9.99 mixed sixers, with the cooler featuring mostly Colorado micros, pseudo-micros (looking at you, Blue Moon and Shock Top), and macros.  Perfect for some beer-sploration.

First up is Firestone Walker Velvet Merlin.  This appears to be their winter seasonal, an oatmeal stout.  This was perfection in a glass.  Tan, creamy head that settled quickly and absolutely no light shining through the glass.  Maybe a deep burnt sienna on the edges.  The flavor was spot-on, coffee and chocolate notes, but not so roasty that you felt like you were drinking charcoal.  The oatmeal effect on the mouthfeel was awesomely silky, but not like you're drinking a milkshake.  If I get the chance to have another of these before the end of winter, I'll jump on it.  Beers like this make me want to drink stout and nothing more.

Next is Blue Moon Winter Abbey. I had high hopes for this beer.  Blue Moon, while technically a macro under the MillerCoors umbrella, does some nice, non-mainstream beers.  Anyone who's had the Peanut Butter Ale at GABF will agree with me.  This beer, however, was an abject failure.  The head was nearly identical to your standard Bud/Miller/Coors lager head: medium sized, coarse textured bubbles that disappeared quickly, although a nice tawny color.  The beer itself was a beautiful deep honey color, but that's about all that was appealing.  There were no discernible aromas or flavors to set this apart from any other generic ale, despite what the marketing copy might say.  I'm sorry, but if you're going to advertise your beer using the adjective "abbey," it damn well better have the banana/clove/bubblegum esters from a Belgian yeast present. This beer had none of that.  I'll stick to New Belgium Abbey, thanks.

Monday, December 31, 2012

Beer review: Rogue Voodoo Doughnut Bacon Maple Ale

Pours a much lighter color than expected, a light, maple brown rather than a dark, oaky brown. Huge, foamy head dissipates quickly. Nose of maple syrup without the sweetness, lightly smoky, something green--fresh tree leaves, maybe?

A much thinner mouthfeel than expected, a fuller, silkier mouthfeel would have been a bit better suited for these flavors. The flavor is much more bitter than expected, definite smoke and maple presence. Notes of cinnamon and clove. No sweetness to speak of, a touch of sweetness would make this just enough more drinkable to finish the bottle in one sitting. Bitterness rounds off about halfway through the glass, leaving spiced ham cooked over a wood fire.

Overall, a unique beer; good, but not great. Glad to have had the experience, but probably will not buy again; not a beer I would crave.

Monday, February 27, 2012


At the 2011 GABF, there was a booth for the BrewDogs of Colorado.  Their insignia is a labrador with a pint balanced on it's nose.  I couldn't resist getting a shirt for Missy and a bandanna for our future dog. Fast forward to now, and it's high time that our pup, Elliott (Ellie for short) gained her rightful place as a BrewDog.

Brew day is upon us! More pics to come soon!

Beer Mecca 2010: Part 1

In conjunction with the trip to see the in-laws and GABF 2010, I decided to take a day to myself and visit my personal Beer Mecca: Fort Collins.  I started with Anheuser-Busch/Budweiser, since #1-it's located north of town and I could work my way back south and #2-it's free.  Upon my arrival, I found that they offer a Beermaster tour, where you get to actually go out on the facility floor and get a bunch of Bud/A-B swag for the sum of $25.  No thanks, there's better beer to be had and paid for.

The 10 Millionth bottle of Bud to roll off the line, sometime in the 1960's.

So, I'm a train geek, too.  Someone did this awesome diorama in HO scale of an A-B icing depot.  There were stations like this along the major rail lines across the country back when they had to use ice to keep things cold in rail cars.  Enter mechanical refrigeration, then improvements in insulation, and stations like these went the way of the buffalo.

I nearly caught Rocket in the midst of making his own
contribution to the production numbers...

If I remember correctly, Danny is the newest addition
to the Ft. Collins hitch.

The brewhouse. Freaking huge.

Very sterile.  The visitor's outlook is behind
glass, and everything is stainless steel.

The calandria of the largest brew kettle. I
forget the numbers it holds.

The whole place just lacks the character
of the Coors brewhouse.  No copper to be
seen, hardly any smell of hops and malt.

The combined control center and in-house brewing lab.
If you spring for the Brewmaster's Tour, you get to go
down on the floor and drink samples in the lab.

Sampling cup.  I think it was about 6 feet long.

I think this was part of the canning line.

A historical look at A-B labels

OK, so you get to see the primary fermentation cellar, which you
don't get to see at Coors. Kinda cool.

No trip to A-B is complete without seeing the production facilities, I mean, the clydesdale stables. This is Rocket, one of the most 
experienced horses in the Ft. Collins hitch.

The beechwood aging tanks.  The beechwood "chips" are
actually 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick strips about a foot long.
You actually get to take home a used chip as a souvenir.
Somewhere, mine got lost.

I don't recall what I drank for my samples.  Maybe Wild Blue and Bud Light Golden Wheat?  I didn't finish my second sample and didn't stick around for the third.  There's better beer to be had in Ft. Collins...

How do you make a beer float?

I've heard of beer floats before, but never tried one.  Generally, I see them made with Guinness.  I like the idea, but something about that seems like a waste of good stout to me.  Enter Sam Adams Chocolate Bock. I happened across Gary Monterosso's "Artisan Beer" at the library (more on that in another post), and he suggested using this beer for a beer float.  Considering that it tends to have a soy sauce-y aftertaste when drunk on it's own, this idea appealed to me (plus, I didn't have to open a 750 mL bottle, since it's now in 12 oz. bottles, courtesy of the Holiday Pack).

My first try was ice cream first, beer second, clean up the massive amounts of foam third.  Despite the mess, it was quite tasty, bringing out more of the coffee notes in the beer and rounding off some of the harsher flavors (and nary a soy sauce flavor to be found).

Last night was my second try (and last, until next year's Holiday Pack release).  Beer first, ice cream second, minor foam spillover mitigation third.  Much better!

Definitely awesome dessert for adults!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Little nuggets from GABF

This year was my second year to attend the Great American Beer Festival, the first being 2008.  I figure going every other year is a fairly reasonable goal, although I wouldn't complain if I could go every year.  I usually use Twitter to do some "on-the-spot" blogging of beer reviews as I sample them; you can catch them at PortRoyalBrew.

I didn't get lots of pictures, only a couple on my cell phone's camera:

 This was a pretty cool 1/5 scale model of the brew house of Ninkasi Brewing, including cutaways to see inside the brewing vessels.

If you've ever wondered what "mash rakes" in a pro brewery look like, wonder no more.

This is a new malt from Briess that just debuted on October 1 of this year.  It's a debittered, 500 deg L seasonal malt in their new Maltster's Reserve series.  There were big bowls of different malts that you could snag some grain to chew; this one would be awesome for a Black IPA or Cascadia Dark Ale.  The other seasonal malts are Caracrystal Wheat malt for Jan-Mar, Carabrown malt for Apr-Jun, and Midnight Wheat malt (550 deg L malted wheat!) for Jul-Sep.