Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy Brew Year! Taproom 21 Copper Lager review.

The Taproom 21 brand is brewed by World Brews in Navato California and distributed in East Tennessee through Kroger grocery stores. A quick visit to Beer Advocate indicates that World Brews is a contract brewery. Regardless, Taproom 21 fills a gap in the grocery store beer shelves, between the $5.99 PBR and the $8.99 imports and craft brews. I believe it was, on sale for, $7.49 when I purchased a six pack of Copper Lager. I generally avoid these contract brews because they make me feel like I'm paying to drink someone's homebrew.  I thought I would give Taproom 21 a try and save $1.50 when I didn't want to drink PBR.

Copper Lager smells sweet and malty. The pour fills the glass with a lovely copper, golden brown beverage. The first sip is round and malty but a bit sweet. I actually detect a bit of butterscotch flavor. 

This is very light and drinkable. The hops are undetectable. 

Over all, I would purchase the Copper Lager again. There are really no outstanding qualities here, other than affordability. I'll have to grade this Copper Lager at 2.5 out of 5 possible pints.

I am curious about the other styles offered by Taproom 21, they offer a Pale Ale, Amber Ale and Wheat Beer. I will try these if I get the chance. 

Has anyone seen my Brooklyn Brewing pint glass, we seem to have lost it in the move?

Happy New Year to you all!

Monday, November 18, 2013

That's news to me...

Grand Rapids wins 2013 Beer City U.S.A. I found this news today while doing some entree-net related beer research. This is six month old news, did I mention it has been a busy year? I'm not sure what happen to Portland  in this year's poll, but Asheville came in third behind Kalamazoo Michigan. Looks like Sally and I need to add Grand Rapids to our "places to visit" list. Maybe we should visit Kalamazoo too?

Beer reviews will return soon, as soon as I quit loosing my review notes.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

"Coldest Beer in U.S.A."

This sign is outside of a, now closed, bar near my current home in Strawberry Plains, Tn. The bar was named Joann's when Sally and I moved here and we visited it one afternoon. They, supposedly, had Yuengling on tap, but the cooler had "gone out." They supposedly had Heineken but it was stored in the same malfunctioning cooler. I think we both had a Miller Lite and went home. 

When Joann's closed, the bar reopened, named Knuckle Bones or Lucky Bones or some such. Then, presumably, the management changed again and the name was changed to the Wolves Den. There are a few more of these road houses out here in Straw Plains, The Oak Lounge and B&M Lounge. I intend to visit them before we move out of town.

I can't really call the local beer culture "cultural decline" because a lack of progress doesn't signal a decline. Where Sally and I are moving, the Muscle Shoals Alabama community, there's no beer culture as we are accustomed to in East Tennessee. Here's a brief outline of the discrepancy of available beers in the Shoals.

Beer Brands available in Knox Co. Tn. not available in Muscle Shoals, Al. 

Depot Street Brewing, Jonesborough, Tn.
Foothills Brewing, Winston - Salem, N.C.
Greenman Brewing, Asheville, N.C.
Highland Brewing, Asheville, N.C.
New Belgium Brewing, Ft. Collins, Co.
Old Hickory Brewing, Hickory, N.C.
Saw Works Brewing, Knoxville, Tn.
Schlafly Brewing, St. Louis, Mo.
Smokey Mnt. Brewing, Knoxville, Tn.
Thomas Creek Brewing, Greenville, S.C.

Beer Brands available in the Shoals which are not available in Knox Co, Tn.

Blue Pants Brewing, Madison, Al.
Founders Brewing, Grand Rapids, Michigan
Good People Brewing, Birmingham, Al.
Left Hand Brewing, Longmont, Co. 
Rammer Jammer Beer Co., Birmingham, Al.

This is not an exact list and there are many more brands that will not be available in the Shoals. There is some crossover between the two beer communities. Thank the beer gods for Yazoo and Oskar Blues, brands that are available in both locations. It is difficult for me to believe that New Belgium is not available in Al. But, I strongly suspect that this will change in 2014. Left Hand Brews are occasionally available in East Tn. Lastly, The Shoals is, roughly, a two hour drive to Nashville, Tn. Sally and I will be making the occasional weekend journey to this more culturally advanced community.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Revisiting Sierra Nevada Summerfest Lager

When I visited Asheville recently there were still a few cans of Sierra Nevada Summerfest on the shelves at Bruisn' Ales. I was told that Sierra Nevada had sent plenty of Summerfest to Asheville in preparation for the opening of their brewery there next year. I purchased four cans of Summerfest so I can prepare for the opening of the new brewery.  

The Summerfest pour produces a clear gold, moderately carbonated brew that looks like a white wine. Summerfest simply smells like beer and the first sip tastes of traditional, American style,  Pils but with much more hops in the aftertaste.      

I now realize that Summerfest is Sierra Nevada's tribute to traditional American beers.  The subtle hops aftertaste is probably  truer to the old style beers than their watered down offspring of today. It was great to find some Summerfest in Oct. This is one of my favorite beers which, for me, is the craft brew definition of  the traditional American Pils. 

 Despite all my praise of the American Pils style, Sierra Nevada is classified as a Lager and, I would think, easily fits into the California Common style. The mouthfeel resembles a heavier Lager style rather than a light Pils style beer.

Grade:  When I wrote about Summerfest two years ago I gave it a grade of 5 out of 5 pints, it wouldn't be fair to give it any other grade this time.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Terrapin/Shmaltz ReUnion Ale 2012

This team project between Terrapin and Shmaltz was a benifit brew for the Institute for Myeloma and Bone Cancer Research. It is described as a dark ale brewed with cinnamon, cocoa nibs and vanilla and the nose knows, it smells like cocoa. As promised, it pours a dark ale with moderate carbonation.

The first sip tastes of coffee and cocoa and reminds me of a Porter. The complex flavors dominate this brew throughout. The carbonation diminishes quickly, also like a Porter style. Reunion Ale remains malty and rich with a mouth-feel of a cola.

In the end, this one is rich, bold and fruity. I sure wish I had a few more bottles of this one.
Grade: 4.95 of 5 possible pints.

And, good news, after writing this review weeks ago, I just purchased the ReUnion Ale '13 at Bruisin' Ales this past Saturday.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

What is really going on at F.R.I.?

It has been a rather eventful year for us at Fanatical Recycling Inc. Back in August, our parent company filed Chapter 11 Bankruptcy. Now, the business has been sold and the buy-out transition is complete.

During the bankruptcy close-out there was a general attitude of apathy. Even before bankruptcy was declared there were a lot of problems with production. There were problems with shipping and with our info database. The problems with the database continue and I believe, unfortunately, that these problems will not be resolved until the closing of the 2013 business year.

All these factors were mentally taxing to the point of apathy, as I have mentioned, causing very little productivity in all things F.R.I. As the business year winds down I have been able to dedicate a bit more time to F.R.I. contributions. I intend for the pattern to remain in place for this fall and winter, and beyond.

With all this in consideration, along with other issues which I have not mentioned, the F.R.I. staff, myself, Sally and Iris, have decided to break from our current parent company and move the F.R.I. corporate headquarters to the friendly confines of North Alabama, specifically the Muscle Shoals area. As they say, "this should not affect the day to day operations of the corporation."

As a symbol of our dedication to the continued productivity of the Co, we introduce the latest product, currently in production. This will be a Honey Kolsch which was racked to secondary fermentation yesterday and will be bottled in two weeks.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Blue Pants Workman Lager

Dang this craft brewing renaissance, causing me so much confusion about beer styles! The info on the bottle describes Workman as a California Common and a Lager, but the beer tastes like an IPA.

This brew has a strong citrus sent while still in the bottle. One of my drinking buddies said it smelled like a Pilsner, which shows how differently we can perceive things. The pour produces an amber liquid with ample carbonation and head. (I tried not to pour aggressively.)  

The first sip gives me the impression of a pale ale. A very well hopped pale ale too. Subsequent sips remain hoppy but easy to drink. My brain is still telling me that I am drinking a pale ale, and I am continuing to enjoy this brew, no matter what the style.  

I'm not sure I'm doing this mouth-feel part right, but I would say the mouth-feel is citrus.

Blue Pants Brewery is in Madison, Al and I found their brew at a local store, Vic's. However, I did not see any of their product available on a recent visit to North Alabama. I am planing to visit the brewery next year, if not sooner.

Grade: Certainly deserving of a high score; 4.9 out of 5 possible pints.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Magic Hat Hicu

Here is, yet another, brewing experiment from our friends at the Magic Hat Brewery. There was only one thing they could name this one because it is concocted with hibiscus and cucumber in the ingredients. They named it Hicu, I guess Haiku was  taken?

The pour produces a caramel, red, brown ale with very little carbonation. I poured it aggressively.  The first sip is dominated by the taste of cucumber. The second sip is just more cucumber and a sour ale hint.

As the beer warms I can begin to smell a brown ale. At this point, I detect the taste of ice tea, but I can't get over the the cucumber taste. If there was a bit of oil involved, I would describe the mouthfeel as salad dressing.

The label invites us to compose a Haiku about Hicu, here's mine. 

Lovely brown ale
tastes like curcurbits
I'll not have another.

Grade: 2 of 5 possible pints.

Monday, September 23, 2013

French Broad, Gateway Kolsch

Here's another craft brew from right over in North Carolina, French Broad Gateway Kolsch. Sally is very fond of the light nature of Kolsch and I am also coming to terms with the style.

Gateway K pours clear, corny gold with better than average head retention. The first sip tastes of light beer and noble hops. The lightness reminds of wheat beer. And, brings to question, how did I miss the whole wheat beer season this year?

I guess I spent the season reconciling myself with the Kolsh style? A conundrum, since it's an ale that drinks like a lager. I have gained renewed respect for our German brewing forefathers who created this light ale which imitates their lagers.

So, as predicted, the mouthfeel is the impression of a Pilsner.

Grade: 3.5 of 5 pints

Monday, September 9, 2013

Moerlein Over the Rhine Ale

Why the sudden interest in Cincinnati brews? About a month ago, Sally and I managed to take a few vacation days and visit Cincinnati. We visited the Christian Moerlein Lager House and managed to bring home a few beers.

Here I'm sampeling their Over the Rhine Ale. It smells hoppy and produces a hazy brown pour. It produced a pretty good head for a bottled beer which was purchased at a grocery store. I imagine it was pretty fresh since Cincinnati is just over 250 miles from Knoxville, Tn.

The first sip is hoppy too but subsequent sips are more balanced.  This is no IPA, it's just a good old "Ale" and an inspiration to would-be home brewers, such as; myself. The hops and malt are very well balanced but the hops remain on top of the tastes, I like this beer more with each sip.

I just got a taste impression that was, very much, mocha, similar to iced coffee. That's what I'm calling the mouthfeel, sweet and sour, like iced coffee.

Moerlien brews are available locally, I will be looking for this one again.

Grade: 4 out of 5 pints.

Monday, August 5, 2013

And, we're back, More beer on Monday!

Slowly but surely, the madness of this fiscal year has brought my blogging to a halt but I don't intend to stay down. It seems only appropriate that the relaunch of Fanatical Recycling should coincide with More Beer on Monday and Hudepohl Summer Pils.

Hudepohl, an old Cincinnati brand that has resurfaced and is available in East Tn., is a simple American pils. There's not much to smell here. It has a very neutral aroma, I feel like I am trying to smell water. Finally I get a whiff and it smells like beer.

The appearance of Hudy Summer Pils is clear and gold. There was one eighth to a quarter of an inch of head which diminished quickly. (I had to take a few pics before I found a good light source.) The taste is crisp and tart with light malt and a hint of hops. I also tasted a hint of lime but the flavor never returned after the first tease. Overall, this tastes like a classic America Pilsner.

My editors have told me that I will be required to mention "mouthfeel" when  reviewing beers. The light nature of Hudepohl Summer Pils creates a moutfeel very similar to water. Perhaps this isn't an appropriate mouthfeel analogy, but it's the one I' going with. Or, I could just say it has the mouthfeel of a light beer.

Now, I'm faced with grading Hudepohl Summer Pils with the discretionary nature of Fanatical Recycling Inc. It has come to my attention that, some times, two grades may be necessary. First, I'll provide a grade for the individual style of beer being graded.

Hudepohl Summer Pils earns 4.5 of 5 pints in the Classic American Pils style. We award it a 3 of 5 pints on the over all F.R.I. beer scale. (Meaning, what we're most likely to purchase for our enjoyment at home or abroad.)

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Monday, March 25, 2013

Shiner FM 966 Farmhouse Ale

I really didn't know what to expect from this Shiner Farmhouse Ale and I'm still not certain about it. Shiner's explanation is that the style was produced by brewery workers in their spare time, or something like that?

A sniff provides a sour, vinegary smell. FM 966 pours with little carbonation and a lovely, light golden color. The first sip is light, as expected by the color, but hoppy. This might be a lawn mower beer except for all these hops, definitely reminiscent of a Belgian Farmhouse Ale.

The final sips have hints of wheat malts and banana flavors. I can not rate this one very highly at all.

2.5 our of 5 possible pints.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Yes, we have no bananas...

And, by this I mean a number of things, but I mainly mean to get your attention. A belated Happy New Year to you all! We have been having the oddest weather in East Tn. for the last five days. It is actually a pleasant change and appropriately seasonal. But, as an native of the State of Alabama, I have very little familiarity with snow.


There was a solid inch of snow on the car this morning. It was the most powdery snow I have ever seen, very light, like cold, wet powder in big piles.

 And here are my plants at work. I hear that Spring is in the forecast and I think we're all ready for a seasonal change. Who's with me?