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I bought two of these back in March of 2009. I drank the other one a little over a year ago. I didn’t want to hold onto the second one much longer so I was looking for a reason to drink it. About a week ago the local pub announced they were tapping a keg of 120. At first I wasn’t very interested but then I realized that I could compare the two beers. I checked if it was ok to bring my own bottle to the pub and got the ok. I did wanted to share the experience with someone and could only find one person able to get up to the pub. Last year when they tapped 120, they served 10 ounce pours and ran out in several hours. I was able to have two, which was the limit. I also had two other high ABV IPAs after that. It was IPA day and it was a good one. The second time they tapped it they went down to five ounce pours, which is what they did this time as well. On one hand, this is fine. at 18%, it’s a very high ABV beer. It’s also pretty pricey, about a dollar per ounce, bottle or draft. On the other hand, it’s not the correct glassware. I like smelling my beer and it was hard to get any kind of nose from that tiny glass. Speaking of glassware, I realized later that I should have used a snifter instead of a tulip, but I think they are close enough that it made little difference. It was a great glass for smelling though.
I started with drinking the draft. It was different from what I remember. Not as sweet and definitely more alcohol present. Still good, but different. Couldn’t get enough nose to make a statement either. Took a couple more sips of the draft as I was guessing the four year old 120 was going to destroy my palate. I was correct in that assumption. I think it also destroyed my nose. An overwhelming sweet alcohol and hops smell. I could even smell it without putting my nose to the glass, it was just kind of hovering around the table since I poured it in the glass. Taste was basically an aged barleywine (kind of like a 2010 Live Oak Old Tree Hugger I had earlier this year) mixed with a port wine. It was very thick and the alcohol made itself known. Since I split the bottle into two pours, one for me and one for my friend Stan, my glass was clear and his was cloudy from the sediment being present in the second pour. Taste was pretty much the same and the nose was just sweeter on the second glass. Mouthfeel afterwards was very sticky, probably from the huge alcohol presence, which is covered up nicely by the sweetness.
Overall the bottle was definitely better. There was just something about the draft that was different from previous 120s I have had. That’s not to say the other 120s were better than the bottle, the aged bottle will always be better. Since this was the last 120 I had aged, I wasn’t sure if I would regret drinking it. I don’t regret it, I think it was a good time to open it and I’m not sure what kind of flavors would have come through if I let it sit for another year or two.
I think Dogfish Head is making more of this. In the past couple of months I seen it a lot more. Three different stores I have been to have had it out on the shelf, one was selling it for $10, which is about $2-3 cheaper than other places I have seen it. Another store had it in the back. Several pubs have had it on tap as well. Now, this is far from a favorite beer, but I enjoy the extremeness of it. I’m glad it’s easier to find so other can experience it as well.
2012 was a year of amazing beer. In the past I have really like beer and have always wanted to try new styles, brewers, etc. This year though, my enjoyment of it increased a lot. I want to try a new beer every day. It doesn’t always happen, but I think I have tried at least two new beers a week since late spring. I have also not enjoyed stouts and porters that much in the past several years. I was always about IPAs, pale ales, Belgians, and sours. This year though, something changed. I remember it was during American Craft Beer Week in May and I stopped by the Dancing Bear Pub here in Waco. For the entire week they were doing a deal where you order a drink from a particular brewery and you get a glass. This particular day it was Stone and their Imperial Russian Stout. I decided to try it and get the glass out of the deal. Not sure what changed, but I loved it. I hadn’t honestly tried a stout in a long time but I’m glad I tried this one.
Over the past year I estimate I have had about 125 distinct beers. It’s a lot and now that I am not blogging single beers a lot, it’s hard to keep track of. That’s where the Untappd app on my iPhone comes in. It’s a simple way of “checking” into your beers. It’s kind of like Foursquare. You find the beer, check into it and rate it 1-5 bottle caps with the option of tagging a location and adding a photo. There’s also the option to push the check in to Twitter or Facebook. Fellow users can comment and “toast” your check in. It’s also helpful as you can add comments and notes about the beer. This helps me remember all the beers I’ve had.
On to the beers. This is a real quick list. I’ll give a grade, maybe some comments on the beer, and maybe where I drank it. In order of consumption:
Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA | Grade: B+
This one is very memorable. I bought this back in March of 2009 and aged it until the very end of 2011 (I know, not 2012, but I needed to put it on the list). It was bottled in November of 2008, so a little over three years old. Originally this is about 18% alcohol. I think with the aging it got up to 30%. After drinking one bottle for an hour and a half, I felt like I had drank four normal beers. No way to tell for sure, but the ABV definitely went up. Also had this two more times later in the year on tap. Not a beer I want to have all the time, but good to have a couple times a year and revisit the extremeness of this “beer”, which I will be able to do soon as I have another bottle that is now a little over four years old.
(512) Whiskey Barrel Aged Double Pecan Porter | Grade: A+
This is actually a beer I had before that Stone IRS I mentioned before. It’s just so damn good that I didn’t consider it a normal porter. The whiskey mates so well with the nuttiness of the pecan flavors. I wish this beer was more abundant, I want to put ice cream in it so bad just to see what it tastes like. On tap at Dancing Bear Pub.
St. Bernardus Abt 12 | Grade: A-
I’ve had this beer several times before and I think it’s one of the best widely available Quadruples around. Try one for yourself. If I can find it in Waco, you should be able to find it almost everywhere.
Stone Imperial Russian Stout | Grade: A-
Back to Stone IRS. Like I said, it made me fall in love with stouts and porters again. Besides that, it’s a wonderful beer and pretty easy to find.
Ballast Point Sculpin IPA | Grade: A-
Another beer I’ve had before. Found it at the Ginger Man in Dallas. While living in San Francisco I could walk just a couple blocks to pick up a bottle of Russian River’s Pliny the Elder, one of the most sought after IPAs there is. I kind of preferred Sculpin though. Even though Sculpin is a single IPA and Pliny is a double IPA I still think it is somewhat similar. Anyways, was really excited when I found this on tap so couldn’t resist ordering it.
Oskar Blues Deviant Dale’s | Grade: A-
A great IPA in a big can. Oskar Blues is the reason more craft beers need to be made to be in cans, not all of them, just more of them.
Trappistes Rochefort 10 | Grade: A-
Another great Quadruple. Also pretty widely available. Bottle at Dancing Bear Pub.
Saint Arnold Endeavour IPA | Grade: A
Man, this IPA is amazing. It was a previous Divine Reserve that Saint Arnold does as a limited release. Each Divine is a different beer. There was such a great response with this one that they made it available year round. As for as IPAs go, this is in my top five.
Avery duganA IPA | Grade: A-
As far as Avery beers go, all of the ones I have had I think are just average. This changed that though. Great DIPA. On tap at Dancing Bear Pub.
Great fresh IPA from SN.
Dogfish Head Miles Davis’ Bitched Brew | Grade: A-
Incredible imperial stout. Had a 120 Minute right after this. It was a great night. On tap at Dancing Bear Pub.
2010 Live Oak Old Tree Hugger | Grade: A+
Not sure if it was the fact that it was two years old or what, but this is hands down the best barleywine I’ve ever had. On tap at Dancing Bear Pub.
Oskar Blues Ten FIDY (Barrel Aged) | Grade: A+
Wow! This was amazing. The Dancing Bear Pub only got a little bit of this and was one of two bars in Texas to get a keg. Bartender said the keg was $100 more than the Dogfish Head 120 Minute. This is almost as good as Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout. Only downside is I only got a five ounce pour so as many people could enjoy this as possible.
Stone Double Bastard Ale | Grade: A-
Great stone brew, favorite of the Bastard series. On tap at Dancing Bear Pub.
Saison du BUFF | Grade: A-
A collaboration between Stone, Dogfish Head, and Victory. One of my favorite Saisons.
Ranger Creek Small Batch Series No. 3 | Grade: A-
One of the first beers I tried from a great new brewery in my hometown of San Antonio. Labelled as an english barleywine, which it is, but it also drinks a little like a sour. Love it!
Ranger Creek Small Batch Series No. 4 | Grade: A
Did not have these back to back, which wouldn’t be bad at all. So this one is their own Mesquite Smoked Porter aged for ten months in their own bourbon barrels. This beer is really complex and oh man, the smoky smell!
Founders Breakfast Stout | Grade: A+
Incredible stout. So many things going on in this. Just look at the label on it: “Double Chocolate Coffee Oatmeal Stout”. All of these work together amazingly. The smell, the head, the lacing, the taste, the mouthfeel, etc. So complex, so smooth, so amazing. Bought two bottles and aging one for a little while.
Founders Backwoods Bastard | Grade: A+
Glad I got to try this. It’s a fall release and all the bottles were bought up a long time before. Thankfully it was still on tap at Founders and I found it ran out a couple days later. It’s a scotch ale aged in bourbon barrels, though I’m not sure how long. This beer is so smooth and so drinkable.
Epic Big Bad Baptist | Grade: A-
Found this on tap at Hopcat in Grand Rapids. Great Imperial Stout and at 11.8% who would of thought it came from Utah? I want to try a lot more from this brewery. Too bad they’re not in Texas.
Jolly Pumpkin Madrugada Obscura, Dark Dawn Stout | Grade: A-
I have never heard of this brewery before my visit to Michigan for Christmas. I had another one of their beers (La Roja) and it was great. This beer though, wow! It’s a stout aged in oak barrels so it takes on qualities of a sour. I wish more breweries would do a beer like this. I’m in love with stouts right now and I will always love sours. I get both with this beer. Was also in the bottle for 10 months and it’s bottle conditioned If I had to have a very shortlist of breweries I want to distribute to Texas, this would be one of them. I’ll have to wait for visits to Michigan to try more of their beers though.
Founders Imperial Stout | Grade: A+
A little confession, some of these beers I had in 2013, including this one and the two listed before this. I had to include them though as my beer adventure in Michigan was amazing. This beer came out right before I left Michigan. I did not know about it’s release and thankfully ran across it at a well stocked gas station in rural Grand Rapids. Just an all around great Imperial Stout. Drank one of a four pack and saving two for later and aging one for I don’t know how long.
Walldorff Java Creme Brulee Stout | Grade: B+
Can’t find this one on Beer Advocate so I just linked to the brewery page instead. Walldorff is a little microbrewery in Hastings, MI. This beer is hard to explain in that as a beer by itself, it’s not a great beer, but it tastes amazing as a drink. I think it’s too creamy and sweet for a beer I would normally drink. It’s like one of those beers that people who do not usually like craft beer will like. Probably shouldn’t put it on the list, oh well.
Walldorff Batch 500 | Grade: A-
Another one I could not find on Beer Advocate so I linked to the beer it originates from. It’s a Rye Beer aged in bourbon barrels (maybe whiskey, I forget) for some period of time. The un aged version of this was alright, didn’t order one, but tried someone else’s at out table. The aged version was very good though. Such a happy surprise at a little microbrwery in small town Michigan.
Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout | Grade: A++
The very last beer I drank in 2012, about an hour before 2013 began. I know A++ is not a real grade, but I prefer this beer over other beers I’ve given an A+ to. This is my favorite beer right now and I would choose this over any other beer that I have had or haven’t had, I like it that much. With how crazy I am about stouts right now, this was a perfect time to drink this. I was able to get two while in Michigan. They weren’t on the shelf, but I asked if they had any reserved beer in the back at a well stocked beer store and they gave me two of them. Drank one in Michigan and brought back one to Texas. Now I just need to find someone to share it with that likes beer enough.
Looking Ahead to 2013
Hopefully 2013 will be as good or even better as 2012, in terms of beer at least. There are already several beers I know I am going to try. My father in law in Michigan has been buying some beer when I find that a store has it. So far he has picked up Bell’s Hopslam and Bell’s Black Note Stout. I need to research releases more to find out what else I want. Only other one I know of is Founders KBS which releases in April. I am going back up to Michigan this summer to take a trip up to the UP. I haven’t been in Michigan during the summer since 2009, and that was only for a month of the summer. It will be great to see all of the summer releases that are available in Michigan and to drink the beers that are waiting for me in a closet at my in laws house.
Another thing to possibly look forward to is Founders distributing to Texas starting in April. They are in contract negotiations and if all goes well, Texas will get their beer in April. Besides the Dancing Bear Pub, Waco is kind of a craft beer desert. If Founders does distribute to Texas, then there probably won’t be any in Waco. But I am in Austin and San Antonio from time to time and it’s bound to be in one of those cities. Hopefully this will open the door for other breweries to come to Texas.
For Christmas my wife, son, and I spent almost two weeks in Grand Rapids, MI. Grand Rapids was named Beer City USA this past year. I’ve lived in Grand Rapids, well Holland, but spent a lot of time in Grand Rapids and I have visited a lot since I moved away about three and half years ago. I’ve known that the beer in this part of the country is amazing and I’ve had some of it. The difference this year was that I have a whole new appreciation for beer. The way I enjoy it is just different. I really can’t get enough of craft beer. I enjoy it a lot more. I like pretty much every style and can somewhat dissect the different flavors and smells. So, with so many ways to enjoy world class beer, I was pretty excited.
Grand Rapids has a lot to offer for craft beer lovers (obviously with the Beer City USA award). There’s Founders Brewing, the newly reopened Grand Rapids Brewing Company, Hopcat, Brewery Vivant, and other smaller craft breweries. There’s also Siciliano’s, a beer store that is rated in top 50 beer stores on Beer Advocate. I planned to visit all of them.
Shortly before arriving in Michigan, my mother in law told me about a store called Pauly’s. After checking out their website I found that they have 650 different types of beer. Now, I already mentioned Siciliano’s, which I have been to, but Pauly’s was a lot closer to my in laws house so I decided to check it out first. Upon arriving to Pauly’s I find it is smaller than expected, but it still has a great selection. One definite advantage Siciliano’s has over Pauly’s is their selection of single bottles. I’m pretty sure that every beer Siciliano’s carries is available as a single bottle, which is great when you want to try a whole lot of different beers.
Back to Pauly’s. Shortly after arriving, an associate approached me and asked if I needed help. I told him about being from Texas and I wanted to try as many new Michigan/mid-west beers as I could. I also told him that I read that some customers had written online reviews and they said they had beers in the back that weren’t on the shelves. He whispered to me that they had KBS (Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout) and Founders Boltcutter. I have had KBS before but it has been about two and a half years and my appreciation of stouts since then has increased a lot. This beer is also released in April and sells out very quickly, so I was pretty giddy when I was offered two bottles. Boltcutter was one of the beers I wanted to try while in Michigan. It was a limited release by Founders for their 15th anniversary. It was released back in November and I wasn’t sure that supplies would last long enough for me to try any. Luckily, I was offered this bottle from the back. The associate stuck with me through my entire visit and guided me through different Michigan beers. I told him beers I like and styles, and he helped, a lot. Ive never been offered such service before. Just with that, Pauly’s won me over and is now my preferred beer store in West Michigan. They also let me take a few singles out of four and six packs, as they knew I wanted to try as many beers as possible. The photo above is all the beers I got from Pauly’s. Not pictured is one more bottle of KBS and one more bottle of Breakfast Stout.
Now for the reviews in order of consumption. Some of these are from restaurants/bars as well. These will not be like my normal reviews. I didn’t take notes and I don’t have photos for all of the beers, which is kind of shame since I am a photographer.
Founders Breakfast Stout | Grade: A
Wow, what a stout! Just look at the label where it says chocolate, coffee, oatmeal. So many different flavors all working together perfectly. It’s got the maltiness and a bit of hop to it. A perfect way to start the day. Brought one back to Texas too.
Founders All Day IPA | Grade: B+
I’ve had a few session IPAs and this one is definitely the best. I love IPAs, but the higher ABV makes it hard to have a lot. At 4.7%, this beer is a little more than half of the normal ABV of IPAs.
Dogfish Head Chicory Stout | Grade: B-
A kind of meh beer. Good, but there are so many others that are readily available that I like more. Bottle.
Jolly Pumpkin La Roja | Grade: A-
Jolly Pumpkin is a brewery I’m new to. Never heard of it before this trip. I do recognize the bottle art, but the name I have not heard of. This particular beer is a sour, a style I very much like. I can’t find many sours so I am always excited to try them. This one did not disappoint.
Sierra Nevada Narwhal | Grade: A-
I like Sierra Nevada, can’t really complain about any of their beers and I’m definitely not going to complain with this beer. Some how I have neither seen or heard of this beer before. Definitely a great Russian Imperial.
Short’s Huma Lupa Licious | Grade: A-
Just a great all around IPA. Have had this one before and I’ll say what I said in that review, this IPA can go toe to toe with the popular west coast IPAs. Bottle.
Left: Founders Backwoods Bastard | Grade: A+ Right: Founders Breakfast Stout | Grade: A-
Founders beer right from the source. Backwoods Bastard was another November release from Founders that I wanted to try and wasn’t sure that it would still be around. Couldn’t find bottles, but found that it was still on tap the brewery. Dirty Bastard, the non-barrel aged version of Backwoods is one of my least favorite Founders beers. It’s still good, I would just rather have most of their other beers before having Dirty Bastard. This beer though, after aging in a barrel for I’m not sure how long, is amazing. I wish I had taken notes. Breakfast Stout on tap is pretty much the same as in the bottle. In hind sight I should of tried Boltcutter on tap, as I did not drink the bottle I bought (aging it until I return to Michigan in June). Still Breakfast Stout can never be a bad choice.
Bell’s Two Hearted Ale | Grade: B+
Great, very hoppy IPA. This would be a year round go to beer if I lived where it was available.
Stone 12.12.12 Vertical Epic Ale | Grade: B+
Just a great Belgian strong dark ale. Good conclusion to their Epic series. Only have had the 10.10.10 and I liked this one more.
New Holland Dragon’s Milk | Grade: A-
Another beer from the source at New Holland Brewing Company. Great American Stout that is a bit sweet, smooth, and a bit chocolaty.
New Holland Saison Study #1 | Grade: B+
Another style that isn’t plentiful. Great example of the style here. Mainly get black pepper.
Saugatuck Singapore IPA | Grade: B
Good American IPA. Bottle
Grand Rapids Brewing Company Presidential Porter | Grade: B
Good porter from the source. Not a style I usually choose but still enjoyed it. Drank at Grand Rapids Brewing Company. Only one of two of their beers on tap. Seems they sold a lot when they opened recently and didn’t have enough of other styles to fill other taps.
Arcadia Hopmouth Double IPA | Grade: B+
This one was very surprising. You would think a DIPA would have a load of hops, but this only has 55 IBUs. I actually asked the waitress if she gave me the right beer. After looking it up online, I found that it was the correct beer. Really interesting to have a DIPA that isn’t a palate destroying. I like it. Drank at Grand Rapids Brewing Company.
Dark Horse Too Cream Stout | Grade: B
Like the name says, it was creamy. Also a bit sweet. Good stuff. Drank at Grand Rapids Brewing Company.
Saugatuck Double Black Ale | Grade: B+
Good black IPA. Plenty of hops, IBUs, and maltiness. Bottle.
Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout | Grade: A++
Finally. I was saving this for New Years Eve. Last beer I drank in 2012 and one of the best ways to end the year. I gave it A++ because I enjoy this beer more than ones I’ve given A+. Last time I reviewed this I gave it a B+. I had aged it incorrectly. I didn’t mean to age it, but I just kept putting off drinking it since I only had one. I had it in the fridge for a year before I drank it. This time around, this one was bottled in ten months before. Flavors are so amazing. Lots of vanilla and the bourbon is perfect. I brought one of these back to Texas with me and it’s so hard not open it right now. Got to save it and share it with someone who will really appreciate it.
Short’s The Liberator | Grade: B+
Great DIPA, Short’s definitely knows how to make hoppy beers. Bottle.
Top: Great Lake Blackout Stout | Grade: B+ Bottom: Epic Brewing Big Bad Baptist Imperial Stout | Grade: A
Finally made it to Hopcat. We could only beer here for a short amount of time so I had to limit myself to two beers. With the amount of time it took me to decide I could of had a third beer. Blackout Stout was a all around good Russian Imperial. Big Bad Baptist was an amazing Imperial Stout. So balanced and drinkable. This belongs up there with the best stouts.
Jolly Pumpkin Madrugada Obscura | Grade: A
I was really excited about this one. Labeled as an Imperial Stout but also drinks like a sour. Damn, why can’t this style be everywhere? I need more!
Founders Imperial Stout | Grade: A
Luckily found this at a gas station that is well stocked with craft beer. I didn’t know that this was released right before we would be leaving Michigan. Just as good and even better than most Russian Imperials, even ones that are barrel aged. Brought one of these back to Texas as well.
Walldorff Java Creme Bruleee Stout | Grade: B+
This one is hard to explain. It tastes damn good, but judging it just as a beer, it’s not as good. Too sweet and creamy. Drank at Walldorff Brewpub & Bistro in Hastings, MI.
Walldorff Batch 500 | Grade: A-
Can’t find the description online, but from what I remember it’s a red ale aged in bourbon barrels. Very good. Drank at Walldorff Brewpub & Bistro in Hastings, MI.
Walldorff Hopnoxxxious | Grade: B
Basic DIPA here and basically good.
Wow! What a great selection I got. Really enjoyed all the beers I got a breweries/restaurants/bars and the associate at Pauly’s set me up really nice. Definitely the best 11 days of beer I’ve ever had. I was very spoiled.
About a month ago I received a magazine in the mail that I had not subscribed too or have been charged for. Usually, this is annoying, however, this was Draft Magazine, a magazine all about beer. This particular issue’s cover story was about the top 25 beers of the year. Skipping right to that section I start browsing the different beers, which aren’t listed in any particular order, but by style. Not style in the sense of pale ale, stout, etc, but styles such as inventive ingredients, hoppy, Belgo-American, etc. The very first style section is Old Styles Reborn and as it happens the very first beer listed is a smoked farmhouse ale from Ranger Creek Brewing and Distilling. Never having heard of this brewery I check it out online, as the article didn’t say location. A quick search and I find out it’s located in San Antonio, TX, my hometown! Now at the time I was reading this, it was shortly before Thanksgiving and I would be spending the holiday in San Antonio. I proceeded to check their website for tour information and found that they did tours the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Perfect!
When I got into San Antonio the day before Thanksgiving, the first thing I did was make a stop by a brand new Spec’s that had just opened by my parents house. Browsing the good selection of beer I found a small group of bottles from Ranger Creek. They had several styles available, including the farmhouse ale that was listed in Draft Magazine. I ended up choosing that one, which is called Small Batch Series No 2, also picked up their No 3 Small Batch, and a six pack of Anchor Christmas Ale, which I wouldn’t be able to find in Waco.
Small Batch Series No 2 Smoke Farmhouse Ale | Grade: B
As soon as I get back to my parents house, I open up the Small Batch Series No 2, pictured above. There were two things about this bottle that were different. First, the top was coated in wax that dripped down the sides a little. You can’t see it in the photo as I wanted to get as much information as I could in the photo with as little background as possible. It’s barely visible at the top there. The brewer says it’s there to protect the beer from the elements, since it’s bottle conditioned. This particular bottle tipped over at the store, the the yeast was very stirred up. The beer might of been clear if not for this. Yeast doesn’t bother me, so I didn’t mind. The other part about the bottle is that it doesn’t say anything about the beer besides what you see above. There’s some stuff on the back, but it doesn’t give any detail to the style, abv, etc. It does have one of those squares you scan with your phone though to link you to a description. I personally like this. Whenever I find a new beer that I know nothing about, I will usually look it up on my phone. This scanning option offers a bit faster route to that information. On the other hand, I can see how this might deter a casual beer drinker. Would a casual beer drinker buy this kind of beer though? Maybe, maybe not. I think the design of the bottle is attractive enough and the wax is eye catching that it’s enough for someone to pick up the bottle and scan it. Or if you are at Spec’s, ask the employee standing in the beer section helping people out. One cool fact about the bottle is that they are the second brewery to use this unique shape, the first being Russian River, which is one of my favorites.
Enough about the bottle. I love farmhouse ales/saisons. Trouble is hardly anyone in Texas brews them, so I was plenty excited about this one. I also was excited about it being smoked over four Texas fruit woods: peach, apple, apricot, and plum. I didn’t even know Texas had apple, apricot, and plum trees. Like I said before, I shook up the yeast pretty good, there were substantial sized chunks floating around and made the beer very cloudy. The smell was very yeasty obviously with wheat and smoke as well and a bit of citrus, nice head as well. Drinking it now, the typical saison flavors are there: pepper and other spices. Smoke also comes through a lot along with yeast, and mild fruit flavors. The finish is a little disappointing just kind of gives way and not left with much. Overall, for a brewery that is only two years old, it’s a great step in the right direction.
Small Batch Series No 3 English Barley | Grade: A-
In the photo above, except for the color and the number, you can see no difference from the Series No 2 bottle. This one is an English Barleywine. At 10% abv, I need to go back and buy a couple more to age for several years. This one was also bottle conditioned, but had been sitting in the fridge for a day so all the yeast had settled. Smell is very similar to a sour along with citrus and malts. Taste is sour as well, not really sour, but definitely reminds me of a sour. The barleywine characteristics are definitely there, but that sour really comes through. Even though this beer is 10%, it doesn’t drink like it. Very balanced. Going back to the sour quality. I love sours. It’s one of my favorite styles and with few breweries making it, I get excited if I have a sour, or another style has notes of a sour. With that said, I’m probably overplaying the sour notes in this beer. Unfortunately, I was drinking while my parents house was crowded with family, so I can’t remember specific parts about this beer. I just know that I really like it. Good job Ranger Creek!
Now on to the brewstillery tour. Yes, brewstillery. It’s the only place in Texas that brews beers and distills bourbon. The company is housed in a little warhouse with the sign in the top photo on the front of the building. This particular day, being right after Thanksgiving, the tour is pretty full. When you arrive you are given the choice of three beers or two beers and a sample of bourbon. I chose three beers. My first beer was their 2 year anniversary beer called “DOS”. It’s a double OPA, OPA being an oatmeal pale ale. Basically an american pale ale with oats added. It definitely comes off as a typical double IPA, a bit sweet, hoppy at 70IBUs, malty, and 9%abv. Unfortunately, no photo for this one but I’ll grade it a B+. My second beer was their Red Headed Stranger. A red ale with added hoppiness. Pretty malty and hoppy with a bit of sweetness. I like it, a different take on the style, als0 named in honor of Willie Nelson. I’ll also grade this one a B+. My third beer was the Small Batch No 3, even though I had it a couple days earlier, just wanted some more. Fortunately, I got to taste the bourbon as well. I don’t know much of anything about bourbon though. The tour itself was very informative and would be good for people who know nothing about making beer or bourbon. They took you through just about every step of brewing and distilling as shown some in the photos below.
Col. Mac led the tour and began with introducing their beers and bourbon. Then went on to talk about the basic process of brewing and distilling.
Wine barrels on the bottom right.
Bourbon in five gallon barrels.
Dennis telling everyone how to sample their bourbon.
All in all, a pretty good tour. Like I said before, very informative and would be great for someone who knows nothing about how beer or bourbon is made. They are really friendly people and take pride in making quality product. I’m glad this place is in my hometown. San Antonio needs a place like this. And now friends enjoying good beer.
Josiah loved his first brewery visit.
“Too extreme to be called beer? 120 Minute IPA is brewed to a colossal 45-degree plato, boiled for a full two hours while being continuously hopped with high-alpha American hops, then dry-hopped daily in the fermenter for a month and aged for another month on whole-leaf hops!
Clocking in at 15-20% ABV and 120 IBUs, 120 Minute is by far the biggest IPA ever brewed! It’s easy to see why we call this beer THE HOLY GRAIL for hopheads!
We brew 120 Minute IPA a few times a year, but it goes fast. If you find some grab a few bottles — some to enjoy and some to age.
Every Beer Has A Story…”
I first had this beer about four years ago at the Flying Saucer in San Antonio. I then had recently learned of it and I was really intrigued. It wasn’t on the menu so I asked the waitress if they had it and they did. She brought out the bottle and a glass. I knew about the beer. How it was around 18%ABV and 400 calories. I was ready for some crazy beer. I think I was more drawn to the beer because of how limited it is. I enjoyed it back then. I enjoyed it a little less when the bill came and it was a $12 bottle. A couple years later, March 31, 2009, (I know because I wrote on the box they were stored in when I bought them, I have two, this review is for one) I was visiting Washington D.C. I was staying with some friends and I found out there was a Dogfish Head Alehouse nearby. We went for dinner one night and found they had 120 Min on tap. Then I found out it was $18 for eight ounces. There was no way I was going to spend that. All of their beers were a lot more than what you would pay at any kind of bar, lost a little respect for them after that. After dinner we went to a beer store and they had bottle of s 120 Min. I bought two of them, which was $24 total, but I got three times as much beer as I would of at the alehouse. Right from the start I planned to age them. Once we got back to Michigan, I padded them in a box and put them in a closet.
Fast forward 994 days. I am in Michigan again for Christmas. I decide it’s time to drink one of the bottles. All I had were pint glasses and I wanted to correct glassware for the beer. I needed a snifter so I headed to Bed Bath and Beyond, the only place I know around Grand Rapids to buy that kind of glass. I find one and when I get back I pull the beer out of the box. The first time it has seen light 2 3/4 years. I put it in the fridge and try to time it so it’s not really cold but not room temperature. The time comes and I pop open the beer. Right away I smell it. Lots of alcohol and yeast, my nose isn’t even near the bottle. I get my glass and pour it in. Head is almost non-existent, what you see in the photo above is how much there was when I poured it. Smell is the same alcohol and yeast I smelled before with a sweetness now present. It reminded me of a gewurztraminer which is a desert wine. Color was a deep amber brownish. Drinking now I can taste the alcohol right away. Wow, the ABV went way up. Very sticky alcohol too. Very sweet too, like a hoppy sweet with a little something extra that I can’t identify. Alcohol is very warming. When I breathe in there’s the coolness on the back of my throat like I’m drinking whiskey. An unaged 120 Min is very strong, this is even stronger. It took me over an hour to finish it and I was really feeling the alcohol. The ABV had to be at least 30% and might be up to 40%, I could be wrong, but that’s what my head felt like. A couple nights later I had six PBRs, one craft beer, and some champagne and I was no where near the buzz I was feeling from this one beer. As the 120 got warmer, the alcohol taste was less and the beer was overall more enjoyable.
This was a great beverage. I can’t call it a beer. I’m not sure how long I will age the other bottle. Now that I know how it is when aged, I’m sure I can hold out a lot longer.
It’s been six months since my last post. Crystal got a job at Baylor University this summer and in July we moved to Waco, TX. It’s a dry campus and we live on campus so no beer in the apartment. Don’t worry, I still drink beer and the occasional martini/whiskey. There’s also The Dancing Bear, an amazing pub only several blocks from my front door. They always have a great selection of craft beer and only craft beer.
In September, one of my best friends, Brian Marshall, was in Austin from New York City for a little while. We did lots of eating, drinking, and exploring at various locations around central Texas. One of those outings was touring the Real Ale Brewing Company in Blanco, TX. Being one of my favorite breweries (favorite from Texas), I was pretty excited.
Real Ale is a pretty small brewery. Only open since 1996, they only produce 54,000 and 72,000 barrels a year with a daily output of 1200 cases. Seems like a lot, but is small in comparison to other craft breweries. We started the tour in the tasting room. I sampled some of my favorite, Lost Gold IPA, followed by Full Moon Pale Ale Rye and Sisyphus Barleywine Ale. They did have a cask conditioned Scotch Ale (I think I am remembering the style correctly) on tap but then ran out right as we got there.
After the samplings the tour began. The tour guide took us through the process of brewing. He got very specific with the chemical process and I could tell most people had no idea what he was talking about, some of it was over my head as well. At one point he passed around some roasted barley to taste. This was the first time I had tried it and I loved it. It was like eating beer! Well, a small part of beer. The tour winded it’s way around the brewery and ended in the giant fridge where they keep the beer that’s been bottled. As big as it was, it was crazy to think that all the beer they make goes into it until it leaves for distribution. The most exciting part of the tour was seeing all the construction going on to expand the brewery. This means a lot more distribution and room for more beer styles.
The vacuum used to pick up full kegs.
The bottling line.
“A high gravity IPA brewed with 18% rye malt. Hop Rod Rye has a floral hop aroma and a subtle caramel notes with a slightly earthly and spicy rye character. ABV:8.0% IBU:80%”
Right now, this is my favorite beer. IPAs are my favorite style and this beer expands on that. Bear Republic’s Racer 5 IPA was my favorite until I had it’s big brother here. I had it for the first time a couple months ago and instantly loved it. In the glass a sufficient head forms on top of a clear reddish brown brew. This head also leaves a great lacing throughout the drink. The nose is lots of hops, a bit of fruit and some floral notes. In the mouth lots of hops again. The bitterness is right on and it’s very drinkable. 8% of alcohol is hidden well. As it warmed up the rye came through a lot more. I’m not sure how big Bear Republic’s distribution area is, but I am sorry for those of you that are not in that area and cannot enjoy this brew and all their other world class beers.
“Bud Light is brewed using a blend of premium aroma hop varieties, both American-grown and imported, and a combination of barley malts and rice. Its superior drinkability and refreshing flavor makes it the world’s favorite light beer.”
I was out walking around this morning while it was still dark. I really wanted some beer. I walked into the corner store around the corner from my apartment. I went straight to the beer fridge and had a look. There’s two sections in a beer fridge In one section there are the beers that I see people around San Francisco drinking all the time that are rather pricey but worth it. Then there is the other section which I hardly ever look at. It’s the section with the boxes so big they should have wheels. I think they make them so big because the beer must be so good that people drink so many. Also, maybe guys like to carry them because it makes them look strong. I have a bad back so I would never be able to pick up all that beer. Anyways. I don’t know if it was because it was early or I was tired of buying the same craft brew all the time but I looked at the other section with it’s primarily blue and red color scheme. I know I didn’t want a lot so it was easy to narrow it down to the six pack cans or bottle. I picked up a blue one with bottles and thought it should be enough to get me drunk. I paid for it and wow! Only $5. I should buy this stuff more often. I pay $5 for one bottle of beer sometimes. As I walk out back to my apartment my mouth begins to water.
Back in my apartment now I set the six pack on the table and turn on NASCAR. I love how the little cars go fast and slightly turn. I grab a bottle and notice the cap says “twist off”. I twist it off and it comes off! The beers I usually drink I have to pry the cap off, but this is so much easier. I am so excited about this that I twist the caps off the other five beers. I don’t bother pouring it into a glass so who knows what color it is. As the cars continue to turn, I stick my nose into the bottle and smell the beer. A smell of America is present. Grains and freedom. A little sweat too. In my mouth now it is very drinkable. I would say it’s superior drinkable. There’s no taste of alcohol or anything else for that matter. I would compare it to drinking water, that’s why it’s so drinkable! Humans need water to survive, so this is like drinking yellow water. I know it’s yellow now because I spilled some on the table. I challenge myself to drink three bottle before the cars go through one full turn and I succeed! I have two bottles left and I still want more. The warmer they get the better. It’s now like drinking water that has accumulated in the bottom of a trash can while it’s been sitting out in the rain. All my beer is gone. I don’t feel like I’ve drank anything. No wonder it’s so cheap and people usually buy the huge boxes. It just leaves you wanting more!
“We’re brewers whose substantial mettle and idiomatic approach to brewing allows us to consistently create works of art such as this justifiably self-righteous ale. Its bitterness hits our sweet spot. Its blackness lightens our hearts. Its liquid dichotomy pulls it all together in this sublimely sacrosanct ale. Yes, we damn well know our stuff here at Stone, and it would be irresponsible of us not to acknowledge how remarkable this heavenly creation of ours is. Thus the name we are compelled to give it —- Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale —- serves as a reminder of just how good we are, in both liquid and verbal form.
We’re certainly not perfect. Too often, we allow our modesty to get the best of us as we’re simply not inclined towards senseless braggadocio. When you’re good, you’re good. And when you do something great, the least you can do is acknowledge it. Others benefit from knowing. In this case, we find that we are compelled to point out how amazing this ale is that we rightly call the Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale.
First brewed in 2007 as the Stone 11th Anniversary Ale, this ale was an instant hit. With us. Other folks with great taste loved it too, but we were focused on how much we liked it, and we felt it was truly sublime. That euphoria didn’t last long though, as it was soon replaced with the grim reality that when we sold out of it there wouldn’t be any more. For us. And that was simply unacceptable. So, we are now blessing ourselves, and you the enlightened, with this ale. Thusly, you may now revel in your own self-righteousness as you see fit with this glorious example of ours. You are genuinely welcome, as it is our pleasure.”
Wow, Stone. You’ve got quite a lot to say about this beer. In case you didn’t read, this beer was originally their 11th anniversary beer. They thought it was so good and deserving to be made more that it’s available year round. When I poured this beer I was anxious because it was so dark, I guess you could say it was black. I like lighter beers. I usually steer clear of stouts and porters now. They used to by my favorite and now I just don’t really enjoy them. I did like the head that formed though. Smelling it though and I am surprised. There’s the malty sweetness but also hops. I’m getting really excited at this point. I love hops and love to try all the different ways they can be in a beer. Drinking the first thing I notice is a subtle spiciness. Along with the hops and I’m really enjoying this beer. It did have characteristics of dark ales. Just a bit of malt and sweetness. I should of figured Stone would not let me down, they never have before.