Archive for January, 2014

It’s so good, it’s stupid!

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Oh, Coronado, how I love thee. Well, at least I love thine beer…anyway, this came across my Facebook feed and I so wanted to go. Alas, I had to be at work during the hour of the event, so a friend went for me and picked up this special limited release barrel aged Stupid Stout. I really like their normal Stupid Stout, but this one was aged in oak bourbon barrels, giving it what I expected to be a sweetness that usually accompanies barrel aged beers.

That couldn’t have been further from the truth. It poured smooth, with a frothy, soapy medium tan head that further confirmed my preconceived notion that this was going to be a super rich tasting beer. Smelling it, I got rich coffee and bourbon flavors. While not particularly boozy, I could definitely tell this was a pretty alcoholic beer. The first sip, much to my pleasant surprise, was like dipping my tongue into a smooth, glass of oaky straight bourbon. It dominated my palette right off the top. The flavor faded to the coffee notes and finished with the warmth from the alcohol.

What surprised me most about this quite mellow beer was how it avoided the over sweetness common in barrel aged beers. Also, the absence of the customary stout bitterness was a little unexpected, but not at all missed in this brew. It combined two things I love dearly: whiskey and beer and for that I applaud Coronado Brewing Company.

My only regret is that I may not be able to find it before the Super Bowl.

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Red Dawn

IMG_1735No, not the Patrick Swayze movie from 1984, it’s the India Red Ale (IRA) special release from my favorite brewery Ninkasi Brewing. They released it just this month and are running it only through April.

As you might expect, this is a red ale. I had never heard of an IRA before so this was an interesting experience. This beer is heavy on the hops, with 75 international bitterness units (IBU), which measure the bitterness of a beer. It poured a rich golden red color with bright white, soapy head. The hoppiness was the first thing to hit my nose, followed by some barely identifiable fruit flavors. Tasting it was like a punch in the mouth with the hops completely dominating the first sip. After working through the bitterness, it was followed by very distinct flavors of papaya and mango. The official description of the beer says that pineapple should be apparent, but I couldn’t pick that one out. Maybe my taste buds were fried from the unexpected kick of the hops. The finish was pretty nice, with mellow fruit flavors and a warm maltiness that helped smooth out the whole experience.

A nice beer, if you’re an IPA fan. I am not, but I did appreciate how much more drinkable this beer became as I went along.

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Utopias is among us! (part 1)

Merry Christmas to me! (a little late)

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Every two years, Sam Adams releases a special concoction called Utopias. This is a mixture of some very old and very limited-release beers from what has become one of America’s favorite breweries. They then move the mixture into different kinds of barrels during the aging process to impart different flavors into the beer. I understand that there is an 18-year-old brew in this one. No two releases are alike. They already released the 2012 batch, which was their 10-year anniversary brewing of Utopias, but decided to do it two years in a row and released it again this year. This is a so-called “extreme beer” due to its extremely high alcohol content. At 28% abv, I would say this definitely qualifies.

IMG_1703With all of this in mind, a buddy of mine and I decided we would treat ourselves to this most magical and elusive elixir when we got a chance and I have been looking a long time. Well, they say you always find what you’re looking for when you least expect it. This dream became a reality on an innocent trip to the Keg-N-Bottle liquor store in Rancho San Diego. This chain of liquor stores is the same one that brought me K’n’B Wine Cellars and man am I glad they did.

As I said, we went in to just bring back some beers to our final location for the night, when the guy behind the counter, Chris, said, “You know, we also got in a bottle of Sam Adams Utopia.” I almost said something about his incomplete pronunciation of the name of this brew, but I decided against it and instead asked, “Yeah, but how much is it?” It was pricey, but Chris did a good job of selling us on it; it wasn’t hard, since it was something we already wanted anyway. We quickly put back the other brews we had picked up, slapped down the fee and took home our prize. Of course, we deliberated quite a bit before deciding and Chris did his best to make our decision for us. He said it comes with a coupon code for a special edition Utopias glass, made specifically for this beer by Riedel.

Well, when we got it home and out of the box, there was nothing with any kind of code on it. We called Chris and he said would look into it for us. Boy did he come through. I am amazed at the effort he is putting into helping us out on this. It turns out Sam Adams is not allowed to ship this glass to certain states and California, where I live, is one of those states. Chris called his sales rep from Sam Adams to see what could be done and we are just waiting to hear the word.

I will post part 2 of this saga when we find an occasion auspicious enough to crack this one open.

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