Showing posts with label dogfish head. Show all posts
Showing posts with label dogfish head. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

A Question of Six

Yesterday on Facebook, Beervana's Jeff Alworth asked for the first adjective that comes to mind when thinking about the following breweries:
  • Sierra Nevada
  • Dogfish Head
  • Rogue Ales
  • Budweiser
  • Lagunitas
  • Goose Island
I responded to Jeff's request, but thought to myself that it would be a worthwhile exercise to follow that up with some unpacking of my thoughts for each answer.

Sierra Nevada - Solid

The guys from Chico and Hendersonsville have become a more regular visitor to the Fuggled beer garden in the last year or so. Why? Because their beers are simply solid, well made examples of styles. Whilst not being an exuberant fan of the standard pine/grapefruit thing with American hops by any stretch of the imagination, SN's Pale Ale is just a very good beer that is nice to drink. Their Oktoberfest likewise, Tumbler as well, Kellerweis too. It seems that everything they brew they brew well, and I look forward to trying Nooner in the near future, maybe as part of a pilsner blind tasting. I love the fact that they bottle condition, and can condition too, their beers, making them softer on the palette as they lack the prickly CO2 of forced carbonation. Yep, Sierra Nevada are something of a default setting for me, something that I am always happy to see available, and something I am always happy to drink.

Dogfish Head - Eclectic

It seems at times that there is always something new and strange going on at Dogfish Head, they are almost the Willy Wonka's of the brewing world, and while I can appreciate the creativity they bring to the scene, I rarely choose to drink a pint of their beer. My issue with Dogfish is simply that level of creativity makes me unsure of whether I would like a full pint of their beer, and given the price of a pint sometimes I am loathe to send money on something that I am sure I will finish (I envy those out there who have far deeper pockets than I and feel no compunction about sending $15 for a 16oz glass of something rare or weird). Having said that, I have a few bottles in my cellar, including a Midas Touch, and a 120 minute IPA from 2009.

Rogue Ales - Anti-worker

Forgive the politics here but any company that fires workers for wanting to unionise will not see a single penny of my money. Yes I am a terrible lefty who believes in collective bargaining, not crossing a picket line, and single payer universal healthcare. The last time I had a Rogue Ale was quite some time ago and I don't remember being bowled over by it, so I get the feeling I am not really missing much in my personal boycott.

Budweiser - Bland

At first I am tempted to be a smart alec and refer to the Budvar, but I knew exactly who Jeff meant. I have no problem with Budweiser in general. Their beers are superbly well made in terms of process control, consistency, freshness, and all that stuff, but I just find them bland, and I am not a fan of the exceedingly dry crackeriness that seems to be the hallmark of their main brands. I will admit though that the occasional Michelob AmberBock will find its way into my drinking life, usually when at the beach and I can't be arsed with something challenging while lounging next to the pool, but even then, as well made as it is, it is still pretty bland. Not bad, just dull.

Lagunitas - Meh

Another well regarded brewery that simply does nothing for me, other than Brown Shugga which quite like from time to time. Little Sumpin' Sumpin' I find inoffensively dull, IPA I don't think is all that great, and in the words of a friend's father, an escapee from the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, the Pils 'is simply not Czech'. Nothing else to see here, move along, move along.

Goose Island - Consistently Good

I first had Goose Island beers a couple of months before they were bought by AB-InBev, and I liked them. When they were purchased I didn't rush into the frenzied whirlpool of labelling them sell outs, crafty, or any other ridiculous epithet. Brewing is a business, and like any other business, big businesses will want to buy smaller businesses that they believe can benefit their business. Since being bought out I have noticed that the Goose Island IPA, which I will drink from time to time, has got consistently better and is always a decent pint, which is always a good thing in my book. At Mrs V's uncle's wedding recently I drank a fair few pints of the IPA and enjoyed them all.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Of Pumpkins and Pilsners

Mrs Velkyal seemed to spend an inordinate amount of time on the phone yesterday - thankfully we have Vonage and so pay a set monthly fee and can call locally and nationally, as well as to select foreign countries (including all the places my family live) for no additional charge.

During both calls, firstly to her family in South Carolina and then from her best friend, also in South Carolina, a variation on the "what is Al brewing?" question was asked. With Mrs V's family we were talking about mead, as I intend to make a maple and clover mead, using maple syrup and clover honey. With Mrs V's best friend the question was "is Al brewing a pumpkin ale?". To which the answer is no, and up until that point I didn't have any plans to do so, but I felt it necessary to do some research and headed off to the shops to buy some examples of this most American of beers, and so I swung by Beer Run and sampled the Southern Tier Pumking which they had on tap - hmm, not impressed. Too sweet and sickly for my tastes. Eventually though I headed home with all the pumpkin beers I could find, and so here we go on the Cyclops notes....


  • Sight - amber, 1 inch of white head
  • Smell - spicy, acetone, wet cardboard
  • Taste - watery, some spice, fruity
  • Sweet - 3/5
  • Bitter - 1/5
Goodness me this is boring stuff. Bland, undertoned and quite simply insipid. If anyone in the Charlottesville area actually likes this stuff, I have 5 more bottles that I am willing to give away for free. If this is the best large brewery in America, then God help us.

  • Sight - copper, thin white head
  • Smell - slight spice, mostly cloves
  • Taste - sweet, like a creme brulee
  • Sweet - 3/5
  • Bitter - 2/5
I have a grudging respect for Michelob. This beer, in common with most of their wares, is nothing special but perfectly drinkable and inoffensive. This reminded me of my spiced winter ale, but a lot weaker and more watery.

  • Sight - light amber, almost no head to speak of
  • Smell - very spicy, lots of cinnamon and a slight cideriness
  • Taste - syrupy, caramel and spices
  • Sweet - 3.5/5
  • Bitter - 1/5
This was again very sweet, but not cloyingly though sufficiently sweet to be sickly if you drank more than a few ounces. Not what I would have expected from Dogfish Head.

The pumpkin ales then that I had yesterday would not inspire me to brew my own, though I wonder if the base beer, which would seem to be a generic amber ale, gets overwhelmed in the process? Would a pumpkin stout work better? Or even a pumpkin Belgian sour red? At the moment then I still have no plans to make a beer with pumpkins, I already have plenty of experiments to do.

On a side note, today sees the release of the Pilsner that I helped brew at Devils Backbone. If you are in the area, get along to the pub tonight and try it. You may well run into me filling every growler I have available!

Monday, September 21, 2009

60 Minutes to Hop, 10 to Drink

America is full of beers that have acquired cult status, even bordering on legendary. Every time I meet with a fellow beer geek I am being recommended all manner of stuff; seemingly Colorado is home to some excellent breweries; of course California has Sierra Nevada and the Stone Brewing Company; here in Virginia we (can I say we after a couple of months?) have a slew of craft brewers; and then there are the likes of Samuel Adams and Brooklyn (who I hope make beers better than their pilsner). As is my habit before I go somewhere new, I like to do a bit of research about local beers, and I make it my intention to seek them out, one such brewer that I knew of and was keen to try their wares was the near mythical Dogfish Head. My friend Mark gave me a copy of an article about them some time ago in Prague and my interest was piqued, especially by the concept of continual hopping.

Not only had Mark given me an article about them, but another of my friend's, Jay, had mentioned that since his return from Prague, they had become one of his favourite breweries, notably the 60 Minute IPA. Thus when Jay descended from Philadelphia, he came bearing gifts - 11 bottles, and a can, of varied American craft beer, whose names now grace my Little Cellar Holdings list to the left of this site.

Now, I had certain pre-conceived notions as to what this would taste like. You know the score, American made IPA, so it will be heavy of the C-hops, lots of citrus and hoppy bite but not much of a malty sweetness to back it up. Oops, again my expectations proved to be wrong.

The colour was a beautiful clear amber, as you can see from the pictures, and the head was fairly minimal though came back to life when the glass was swished around. The nose took me aback, where was the grapefruit and orange I expected? There were nice lemon notes there, just not in the abundance I expected, the dominant smell was a sweet toffee laced with cocoa, I was intrigued. Tastewise, the hops and malt were nicely balanced, a good caramelly sweet body with the spiciness of the hops playing off it to perfection. God this was good beer, really, really good beer. Where I was expecting to be sucking lemons and making that sour drink face, this was lusciously smooth, even creamy and so dangerously easy to drink.

Quite simply a lovely beer

Beyond January

Dry January is over, but my beer fast continues. Well, it continues until Friday. As a general rule I only drink at the weekend, thus my win...

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