Over the Memorial Day weekend, we decided to add an additional element to our Monday celebration. We took five American light beers, and did a blind shootout with 5 friends and family members to see if we could tell the difference, and to see if we liked any of them. [Spoiler alert: no and no.] The blind shootout is an idea we stole from the guys over at the Totally Beverages and Sometimes Hot Sauce podcast (GFY). Go check it out if you haven’t heard of them. If you’re a fan of this blog, you’ll probably enjoy that as well.
The shootout was much harder to implement than I had expected. We had to match up each beer with a label on the bottom (a different number of dots for each one) and label 7 cups with the same label on their bottoms. Then we poured each beer in to the appropriate cups, and swapped each row around with others until we had no idea which column of cups went with which beer. Since we couldn’t see the labels, this wasn’t too hard, especially since all the beers looked the same in the glass, but it still took a few rounds of “one person leaves the room and the other mixes them around.”
So what did we test? Well, this was partially decided by what was available in the store. I am a weirdly proud fan of classic Budweiser (not Bud Light) but unfortunately there weren’t enough small quantities of normal beer [What is the opposite of light beer? Full beer?] so we went with the light ones:
Time for the second in my series of breweries that have bears in their logo. This one makes slightly less sense than Big Bear Lake Brewing, but I’ll take it.
As some of you may know, I was actually living up in Mammoth for the past month. This made it a little tricky to create any drinks in my minuscule Airbnb kitchen, so that’s why you’ve been seeing all these reviews. I’ll get back to the cocktails soon, I promise. Anyway, the one thing I could do was taste all 15 beers available at the Mammoth Brewing Company. So I did. Continue reading “Mammoth Brewing Company – To Go”→
I’m renaming this category! I’ve been traveling a lot lately, so there are more and more of these alcoholic postcards to write. Hence, “To Go,” which seems fitting, especially after our New Orleans experience of To Go booze.
Anyways, we were in Big Bear a few weekends ago, and of course we stopped in to their brewery — the Big Bear Lake Brewing Company — for a flight. It wasn’t a huge place, only 6 beers to try, but it was nice enough. They did have a very questionably “patio” that we chilled on with our friends; it was only about 1.5 people deep at maximum, but we could look out onto the oncoming rainstorm which was kind of fun.
(I’ve put a photo of their own tasting notes at the end of this post, if you’re interested.)
Barely Legal Honey Blonde – ABV 6.5%
This actually tasted like a sort of nutty, roasty mead. We didn’t taste licorice, though the card we got with it said that we should. Very malty, not hoppy at all. Nice!
Half Wit Belgian Wit – ABV 6.0%
I did not like this at all. It smelled like bananas, and had a similar aftertaste, which really wasn’t great.
Black Raspberry Session Pale Ale – ABV 4.3%
It smelled like raspberry but tasted like nothing. Hoppy, gross nothingness. It also wasn’t very bubbly, but that may have been because the tender poured it out of a pitcher for some slightly unclear reason. Our least favorite.
Ode to Winslow Chocolate Porter – ABV 6.6%
This was fine. Chocolate and coffee flavors like a classic porter / stout type drink. As you would expect.
Watergate Session Pale Ale – ABV 4.2%
Way too hoppy. But not many other flavors — almost watery. I hated it, but you could at least tell that there wasn’t much alcohol in it so you could drink a lot of it. If you liked that sort of thing.
Whispering Pine Belgian IPA – ABV 7.0% / IBU: 68
Still hoppy, but at least has flavors, unlike the other ones. The hops keep going and going on the aftertaste, but at least there’s a pine flavor to go along with them to make it a little better.
Well, we didn’t really love these. The Honey Blonde was the best of the bunch, but who knows — if you like IPAs more than I do (I feel like most people do) maybe you’ll like the brewery. And it’s still a fun place to go, even if you don’t like the beer.
In February (no, not during Mardi Gras, which I personally think is a good thing, but it’s up to you…) the PiC and I took a trip down to New Orleans, along with my brother and his wife — no code names there, otherwise that would start to get very confusing. We had a lot of different beverages throughout the trip, which I’ll go through in a later post, but this entry will be a continuation of my “drink many tiny beers at a brewery” series.
On our last day in New Orleans, we walked down to the NOLA Brewing Company space and had a flight of eight of their beers. They had a lot more than that, but we were but humans and could not really sample everything.
The brewery is down by the river — the mighty Mississippi! — and has a nice outdoor patio, as well as some indoor spaces with games, ping pong, and more. Sadly, there’s not so much of a river view (more of a warehouse view) but you know it’s out there somewhere. There were two bars, one upstairs and one downstairs, and then there was also a delicious barbecue window (McClure’s), with about 7 different sauces you could try. We had their mac and cheese and it was amazing, though we were also slightly inebriated so who knows. The brewery was within walking distance of our bed and breakfast, in the Garden District, which was very convenient, as the public transportation in the city left a lot to be desired. It was nice when we didn’t have to rely on a bus that was probably going to be 20 minutes late.
Anyways, we picked the 8 beers that we expected to like the most out of their offering. At the time we went, they had a ton of IPAs and other hoppy brews, so our choices were somewhat limited. We had also already had the Irish Channel Stout, which otherwise would have immediately made it onto our list. It was also good (more on that in the later post).
Flambeau Red Ale
This was a little bitter, an little sweet, mostly tasted like a pretty typical red ale. Hoppy, but not in a terrible way.
Very golden and blonde in color. It was nice looking, but tasted like nothing. It has a little bit of a fruitiness to it, and smells like honey — orange or clover were our thoughts. There was also a nice sweetness and it wasn’t hoppy at all. (What’s the word for not hoppy?) Could have drank this for a while, but probably wouldn’t want to.
This was an earl-grey-infused version of their more classic Rebirth APA. And, it tasted pretty similar to what you would imagine that to taste like. The hops blended really well with the tea flavor, and I actually liked it (score another one for APAs!). I feel like APAs are the gateway IPAs — the hops don’t linger as much and so you can keep drinking after more than one sip. There was a clear bergamot aftertaste, in fact almost an aftersmell. If that’s a thing. But, just like 3D in a movie theater, it’s cool at first but you know you’ll forget about the bergamot by the end of drinking a pint. Pretty mild overall, but a nice drink.
Girl Stout Cookie
I GET IT. It smelled minty and a little creamy, but when I took a sip I thought it was pretty disgusting. Now, it did taste exactly like it was supposed to — chocolate and mint like a Thin Mint — but it turns out that those are flavors I don’t particularly like in my beer. The PiC didn’t hate it, but certainly thought it was odd.
Out Tequil-ya: Sour Ale Aged in Tequila Barrels
The puns keep coming! PiC liked this a lot, though she also likes tequila and sours a lot so that stands to reason. For me, it was still a sour, and so I was conflicted. I actually didn’t mind it so much, and I liked the flavor, but I’d have trouble drinking a lot of it (like any sour, for me.) You could tell the tequila’s influence more at the beginning of a sip than the end. This beer made me realize one thing that might be part of the reason I don’t like sours, and you can see it in the picture up there — they’re often not very bubbly, and that makes it a weird drinking experience for me..
This was ostensibly flavored with maple and other breakfasty things (cinnamon). I didn’t really taste much of the flavoring — it was more just like a brown ale, which is not a bad thing, especially after the Girl Stout experience. Certainly easy to drink and had a nice sweetness. The lack of flavor may also have been the mac and cheese that we got from the place downstairs and started devouring right about the time we tasted this one. I should start a mac and cheese blog. Delicious.
Scary Spiced Stout
While I was disappointed by the slightly misfired pun here — they should have just called it Scary Spice, without the d — I actually really liked this. It was flavored with cinnamon and chipotle, like mexican hot chocolate almost, and the flavor wasn’t overpowering like the GSC. It was also a little bitter, which cut through the flavor in a nice, beery way.
Desire: Raspberry Sour Ale
This smelled like the raspberry syrup I made for the various Jerry Thomas punches. It actually tasted like very tart raspberry juice, which was a nice end to the flight. If someone gave this to me on its own, with no description, I might not even know it was beer. PiC, of course, loved it.
Overall, it was a fun experience. NOLA had some of the first sours I’ve actually liked, and the pun quotient was right where it should be. New Orleans has a lot to offer, either in the drink line or otherwise, and this is a perfect place to take a look at. Next time you’re in town, take an afternoon and check them out!
Over Valentine’s Day weekend, the Partner in Crime and I went to the sleepy, semi-Danish town of Solvang, which was a really nice trip. It’s deep in wine country (the southern part, not the Napa / Sonoma part), and had beautiful scenery, æbleskivers, and an ostrich farm, where I learned that ostriches are weird and emus are basically dinosaurs.
It also had a lot of alcohol. Of course wine, but also beer, spirits, and more. Of particular interest was the Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co., as I’d had a few beers from there in the past and enjoyed them immensely. We actually found it by accident; we were at Ascendant Spirits (a distillery right next door) and they mentioned it was nearby, so we went up.
They had an indoor tap room, but as it was 85° F or so, we sat outside at a cozy picnic table with a welcome sun umbrella, all on astroturf. Sadly, I forgot to take a picture of this. We got two flights of beer, four of their classics, and four seasonal / rotating taps, which were almost all really delicious.
Paradise Rd Pilsner
Very nice, easy drinking. Doesn’t taste like a pilsner to me which is a good thing, because I don’t like pilsners usually. It had a hint of hops, but only enough that you actually wanted to drink it, and it was a welcome bitterness (IPAs and such are too bitter for me, usually).
Danish Red Ale
It was too warm by the time we got to it, but that’s not the beer’s fault. I liked the caramel notes, and it wasn’t too bitter — I almost wish it were a little bit more bitter!
Davy Brown Ale
This is one of the ones I’ve had before. It has a richer flavor, good malty and chocolately notes. Very tasty.
A little coffee-y for me, but has nice flavors, velvety smooth texture, almost creamy. Also, still had a head on it after 30 minutes or so, which was impressive.
THE OTHER ONES
Hüll Melon Saison
A little on the hoppy side, and doesn’t have much flavor to it other than the hops. A little lemon peel flavor too, but generally not that interesting… I liked the pilsner better (a phrase I never thought I would say).
You could drink this for forever and never have any issues with it. Very light, almost like a beer-flavored juice. I wish it had been a little bit more carbonated, but that could have been the heat, as well. Easy drinking!
Mosaic Pale Ale
Tasted like an APA, which it was, and was actually sort of nice — the bitterness didn’t linger too long, unlike some other hops. Very floral aroma. As far as hoppy beers go, it wasn’t so bad — we didn’t love the taste, but we could definitely drink it and not feel sad about it.
A Doppelbock aged for eight months in rum barrels. This was the best. Smells and tastes like caramel. Very sweet, a lot of depth of flavor. Almost syrupy in texture, and 12% which doesn’t hurt either.
Overall, it was a great trip up, and only a few hours from LA. If you’re looking for a weekend getaway to travel, eat, and drink, Solvang is your place. And of course, you can definitely get the beer without even taking a trip, so definitely check it out!