KBS, The Eve of

Tomorrow morning, one of the country’s most anticipated annual beer releases will happen: Founders KBS (Kentucky Breakfast Stout).  At 7AM, four hours prior to opening, there will probably be 150-200 people already in line. You may find it crazy to wait in line for four hours as this isn’t Cedar Point, but you could compare it to the opening of a new super tall and fast roller coaster. People who wait in lines like this are fellow beer lovers, full of cheer and friendliness as they generously share the special beers they bring to drink. And yes, I’ll be bringing a little something special myself.

If you’re hoping to get your hands on a bottle or two of KBS, an early alarm needs to be your best friend. The brewery will have only 300 cases available for sale and once it hits the delivery trucks Monday morning, the stalking begins. People will be following the distribution trucks as they deliver something that would give the release of a new iPhone a run for its money. And if you simply want a taste, the tap room doors open at 11AM and it will be available on draft. Enjoy!

And to celebrate the release, I cracked open a bottle from last years batch. Fantastic!

Cheers!

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Strange Name, Stranger Ingredient – Mikkeller Beer Geek Brunch Weasel

The Brewery: Mikkeller – Denmark

The Beer: Beer Geek Brunch

The “Stranger Ingredient”: Vietnamese ca phe chon Coffee

Over the years, more and more breweries have added a beer made with coffee to their beer arsenal but to the best of my knowledge, Mikkeller is the only one that uses this particular coffee.

“This imperial Oatmeal stout is brewed with one of the world’s most expensive coffees, made from droppings of weasel-like civet cats. The fussy Southeast Asian animals only eat the best and ripest coffee berries. Enzymes in their digestive system help to break down the bean. Workers collect the bean-containing droppings for Civet of Weasel Coffee. The exceedingly rare Civet Coffee has a strong taste and an even stronger aroma.” – The beer bottle

Out of all the beers I’ve had made with coffee, this one is definitely the most unique. The aroma is unlike any coffee I have ever smelled, yet it’s still distinctly a coffee scent. The same goes for the flavors. Overall, it combines the traditional deep, thick roasted flavors and aromas of a good oatmeal coffee stout.

As for drinking a beer made with something that came from the droppings of a weasel-like animal…yeah, I went there.

Cheers!

 

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What’s in a Name…Prohibition & Mason Jars?

Russian River Brewing Co. Blind Pig

Located in Santa Rosa, CA, this brewery is not only know for some of the best beers in the world, but they have some great names as well: Temptation, Supplication, Damnation, Consecration, Sanctification, Redemption…yes, there’s a theme, and those themes taste amazing! But not all there beers have names like that.

Last night, I drank one called Blind Pig and like all of the beers I’ve had from there, it included a story about the beer/name. This is directly from the bottle:

“Ask for a “blind pig” in a saloon during prohibition and you might just get a beer…During prohibition, using them “blind pig” discretely meant many different things. Sometimes it was the secret code given to a bartender to receive a beer. In other places, it meant that you paid a small fee to see a “blind pig”, and along with the viewing you’d get a beer, or something else… And what type of glassware would your “blind pig” be served in? An unmarked mason jar of course. In those days , a mason jar was known as a pig, and an unmarked mason jar was known as a Blind Pig.”

There you have it…what’s in a name. I love stories like that!

Cheers!

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Winter Beer Festival – What a Blast!!!

Where to begin…there’s so much I could go over, but I’ll keep the details brief and I’ll start with the morning of:

Much to my surprise, I had a message and wall post from John Gonzalez (Gonzo) asking if he could interview me. I wasn’t really sure what led him to me, but I was excited nevertheless. Around 12:30PM, my father was kind enough to pick up my girlfriend and me to drop us off. Upon arrival, we had about a 10-15 minute walk just to find the end of the line where we patiently moved like a traffic jam for about half an hour. Once we were in, it was pretty easy to move about, despite there being well over 5,000 people at the festival. The atmosphere was fantastic. There was good music, the smell of the camp fires as they burned steadily in various places where we could stop for a quick warm up, a nice sense of cheer and of course…pretzel necklaces.

Overall, I think the photos taken by Lizzie Photo give a great account for just how much fun we had at a great event; however, here are a few of my favorite things from the day:

Favorite Beer: Kuhnhenn Barrel Aged 4th D

Favorite Surprise Brewery: Big Rock – Fantastic imperial stout and an IPA that tasted a LOT like Pliny the Elder. Girlfriend LOVED the wheatwine!

Number of Beers Consumed: Classified

Favorite Moment: Running into a guy who not only had a copy of my spreadsheet, but he was also going over it carefully, planning his next beer

Coolest Moment: Being interviewed by Gonzo and then having him join us for the 3PM tapping of the Barrel Aged 4th D. Hopefully I’ll be able to post a link for that soon.

Weirdest Moment: Having my left peck patted while being asked how I’ve been doing

I know those are only a few parts of an amazing day, but I don’t want to make this too long by going on about excellent beers & great friends, which I could easily do, especially since my girlfriend was able to get a ticket the day before and having her there as well, made it even more fun.

Cheers!

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“Top 100 Beers in the World” – My Take

Last night, a good friend of mine, Tim, posted the following great questions on the wall of The Beer Truck:

“Question for The Beer Truck: Are there any beers that you recognize as a great beer that you personally can’t stand drinking? or… Are there any beers highly rated on beeradvocate or ratebeer that you completely disagree with? Just curious. Thank you beer truck.”

Tim, I’m going to answer the second part of your post. Yesterday I went through the top 100 beers in the world according to Beer Advocate. This is a living list and rating system, due to the fact that it always reflects the ratings of its users who are continually rate beers around the world. As for my experience with the top 100, here is a break down of just the ones I’ve sampled:

26: beers of the top 100 I’ve had

18: breweries representing those 26

10 & 8 (of the 18 breweries): available in Michigan and not available in Michigan

3: Michigan breweries

4: most I’ve had from one brewery – Founders (go Grand Rapids!!) and Russian River

2,657: Most reviews for one beer – Bells Hopslam

151: Fewest reviews for one beer – Founders Black Biscuit (PLEASE be part of the Back Stage Series)

3 & 92: Highest and lowest ranking beers I’ve had – Founders CBS & Founders Black Biscuit (never bottled…yet)

1: numbers of beers I’d pass on now that I’ve had it – AleSmith Speedway Stout (too much coffee, and I’ve had a lot of coffee beers)

In conclusion, I loved 25 of the 26 beers I’ve tasted from the top 100. As for the one I’d pass on, I wouldn’t say I completely disagree with its placement, so to answer your question, I’d say no. And if you’re looking for some great beers to try, this is a great list to go by.

53: ranking of the beer I’m drinking while writing this – Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout (BCBS) 2008 vintage…one of my favorites! And a very special thank to the person who introduced me to BCBS in 2007, Tim, the same person who posted the above questions.

Cheers!

 

 

 

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Winter Beer Festival – Yes, I Actually Made a Spreadsheet

Until last Friday, I was saddened every time someone asked me if I was going to the Winter Michigan Festival. Why? Because my answer was no…but like I said, that was until last Friday. Thanks to the generosity of a friend, I have a ticket.

Now the Winter Beer Festival is no small animal to tame. It is a beast of fermented burden. And by burden, I mean a challenge to the indecisive: ME! Knowing this about myself, I took the time to make a spreadsheet (nerdy…so what!) with every brewery and the beer they’ll have available. After that, I printed it out to go over with a fine tooth comb, just like the one used in Spaceballs. Upon the first of many drafts, I have narrowed down the 452 beers to around 60 that I would love to try. My work is not over yet, but I’m getting there.

Why am I doing this (aside from being beer crazy)? Because the selection isn’t about quantity. It’s about quality. Some unbelievable beers will be on tap, some that I have had before and some that I have been longing to taste…and I want to make the best use of my time and strategy to be able to try the ones I want to taste the most.

If you’re heading to the Winter Beer Festival as well, I recommend coming up with a game plan. That doesn’t mean you have to do a spreadsheet beer nerd-out (If you’d like, you’re more than welcome to use mine: pdf link below), but a little agenda might add to a great festibeer experience. Have fun!

Cheers!

Michigan Beer Festival 2012 Tap List

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A Man, his Barrel & and his Beer…Together at Last

On February 13th, after a month and two days, the oak bourbon barrels that have been sitting in my kitchen have been joined by the beer they aged: Founders Curmudgeon’s Better Half (CBH). Time for a photo shoot!

The third in Founder’s Backstage Series, and its first bottle release, CBH is a version of Old Curmudgeon aged in oak barrels that aged bourbon followed by aging BLiS Michigan Maple Syrup before aging the beer. About half an hour before Founders opened, my girlfriend and I jumped in line with about 100-150 other thirsty beer lovers so we could get our two bottle allotment. Once inside and after purchasing our bottles, we were able to grab a table and order a glass of CBH on draft. I love being able to taste a beer that’s going to be good for aging, which I intend to do with some of them.

Anytime a beer like this is released, it is accompanied by lots of hype, especially if it’s Founders. CBH was no exception and in my opinion, it lived up; however, I didn’t realize just how much so until I opened a bottle of it last night with a few friends. It seemed that the bottles retained a little more of the syrup and bourbon characteristics than the draft version did. It was fantastic!!

If you’re a fan of strong ales, this one marries the style with the sweet lovin of Michigan maple syrup and Kentucky bourbon together forming a fermented bond that won’t disappoint. I highly recommend picking up a bottle of two if you happen to be lucky enough to find a store still carrying it.

Cheers!

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