Video Review: Beers of Summer, Part 1

I was going to save this for tomorrow, but it's already made, so what the hell. Double post day!

Today, I give you the first part of the 3-4 part Beers of Summer series, which will continue into next week (with hopefully something special coming in this weekend's video review). Today, I check out year-round Witbier offerings from Ballast Point Brewing Company and Avery Brewing Company. Check them out!

Beers in Review: Rulebreaker!

I am opening up this edition of BiR by breaking my own rule. Typically, I try to repeat beer reviews as rarely as possible. If I AM going to re-review a beer, my rule is to wait six months, to ensure that I am getting a new batch of that beer and not reviewing two beers made in the same lot. I am breaking that rule today by reviewing a beer I reviewed just two months ago, the 6th Anniversary Hazelnut Chocolate Imperial Stout from Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina's excellent Westbrook Brewing Company.

After previously enjoying a bottle with my family at Christmas, and doing a video review of a 2nd bottle on January 7th, I had the opportunity to have it ON DRAFT recently. The differing format, along with the fact that it's just a freaking tasty beer, made me decide to break my reviewing rule. Anyway, enough background. Let's talk beer.

The 6th Anniversary Imperial Stout pours very dark to near black, as expected, and brings every bit of the 10% ABV on the nose, though it is a bit milder in the actual taste. The stout is brewed with the listed hazelnuts and cocoa nibs, along with vanilla beans. The flavor notes reflect these ingredients, with the vanilla coming in on the mild side, but a fairly powerful brownie batter feeling coming out of the cocoa and nuts. As I said, a mild but still quite present booze note is also there, as well as plenty of sweetness, both from the booze and from the brewing ingredients. I think I liked the 5th Anniversary Imperial Stout a hair better, but only because of the ingredients used (Chocolate Raspberry vs. Hazelnut Chocolate). Still, this is an excellent stout.

Next up is a beer that I struggled to describe a little bit, because I don't believe I've ever had one of the key ingredients. San Diego's Ballast Point Brewing Company is a brewery that has popped up time and again on this review blog, including some notable video reviews. Recently, I tried Red Velvet, which they call a "golden Oatmeal Stout with beets, chocolate, and natural flavors". It is also served in a bottle under nitrogen, similar to Guinness. Now, to my knowledge, I've never had beets before, so this affected my review of this beer. Coming in at 5.5% ABV and 35 IBU, the beer is very pretty, pouring ruby red with a light pink head. There is a powerful and enjoyable unsweetened or semi-sweet chocolate aroma, which also comes through a bit in the taste. The stout is very smooth-drinking owing to the nitrogen, and has a medium-heavy body--surprising to me, given the beer's color. You get a bit of that nitrogenated beer flavor, along with a mild vegetable quality that I assume is the beets. Overall, this beer just fell flat for me. It's not undrinkable, but I would have liked the flavor notes, especially the semi-sweet chocolate, to be punched up a bit. It's also very much NOT a traditional stout, so just be prepared for that. Not bad, but I've had far better from Ballast Point.

Beers in Review: Completely non-Valentine's Edition, Honest

No lovey-dovey beers here! Except in the ordinary "loving beer" type of way. Let's get right to it!

Some time ago, Ballast Point Brewing Company aimed to create “medium-bodied” stout at their pilot brewery. The result was The Commodore American Stout, which contains 6.5% ABV and rates 62 IBU. This year-round stout pours pretty close to black, as expected, though I would probably define it as being “light-bodied”, not the medium Ballast Point claims. Perhaps that is simply picking nits, as there is no question the brewers hit their target on what certainly is a lighter-bodied stout. Flavor notes include some mild spices and bittersweet chocolate, along with a moderate coffee note—fairly standard stout offerings. There is also a fairly strong smoky note, and smoky notes tend to be a turnoff for me. They work in this beer, which is quite tasty overall, with no flavor note (including that smoke) overwhelming the rest of the stout.

I can’t quite tell if it’s global warming, or just the law of averages (the average winter high in Columbia, SC is in the low 60s Fahrenheit), but it’s felt like such a warm winter that it seems like we should abolish winter beers. Despite yet another bunch of days at or above 70 degrees, my next beer up is Anderson Valley Brewing Company’s Winter Solstice Ale. The Winter Solstice comes in at 6.9% ABV and a mere 6 IBU. This take on the winter warmer style pours a nice reddish-copper color and brings hints of caramel and toffee. There are also considerable spice notes, which I believe I was interpreting as an iced tea flavor. The beer also brings a slight sweetness. Anderson Valley really brings it when it comes to the Summer and Winter Solstice ales. This is a tasty and terrific ale!

Video Review: Video Number 50! Sculpin-mania!

This is my 50th video for PRB. I'll be honest--I wasn't sure I'd get past 5 videos. But a weekly video series quickly turned into 2 to 3 videos nearly every week, resulting in 50 videos in less than 8 months. My thanks to all of my readers and viewers for their support.

For this 50th video, I present a very special tasting, centered around Ballast Point Brewing Company's terrific Sculpin IPA. Here it is:

Video Review: Ballast Point Sculpin and Grapefruit Sculpin

So, I have decided to take this three-month old blog and this face made for radio, and WE'RE GOING BIG TIME!

By "big time", I mean YouTube. I am proud to present my inaugural PRB video review on YouTube, featuring a side-by-side of Ballast Point's Sculpin IPA and Grapefruit Sculpin IPA.


So, hopefully you all will give me some time to 1) develop an internet personality, 2) figure out optimal video recording methods, and 3) LEARN HOW TO TALK WITH MY ENTIRE MOUTH!

It's a work in progress. I welcome constructive criticism.

The idea right now is one or two video reviews plus two to three written entries (reviews and news) each week.

Thanks for humoring me, everyone!


UPDATE: So, I figured out how to get my OTHER webcam into my movie-making software, so I hope the next video will be of better quality, both audibly and visually. Thanks for your patience!

Beers in Review: I'm not dead edition

Hi! How are you? I'm great. I was out and about across this great country of ours, and am ready to get back to the bloggery. I considered writing an editorial about Peyton Manning's blatant shilling for Budweiser post-SB50 (turns out he owns some distributors or something), but that's really become old news. So, let's just get into some beers, shall we?

We start with Uinta Brewing Company's Golden Spike Hefeweizen, which poured a deep orange and was cloudy (not unusual for Hefes to be unfiltered and cloudy). Most notable was the graininess; lots of bready and crackery notes going on, along some citrusy sweetness. Banana notes were also present. Overall, it hits a lot of the standard hefeweizen notes. It was maybe a little more grainy than I like my hefes, but that's a personal preference as much as anything.

A brewery that almost never disappoints (a trend that hopefully continues after their acquisition by Constellation Brands) is San Diego's Ballast Point Brewing Company. As expected, even something as "basic" as their Longfin Lager is better than most or all of the rest. Longfin pours a pale gold with little body but plenty going on, flavor-wise. Strong grainy and biscuity notes that mix with a hint of hops. There is also a bit of sweetness that points to its traditional German-inspired style. This is a beer that is crisp, clean, and easy to drink.

Finally, Duclaw Brewing Company's Dirty Little Freak. Labelled by the brewery as a "Coconut Caramel Chocolate Brown Ale", this beer pretty simply puts a hammer to that nail. It pours a moderate-to-dark brown but is translucent. Again, the flavors are pretty well spot-on coming from the brewers. Aroma-wise, the smells probably rate in strength chocolate-caramel-coconut. Flavor-wise, the chocolate notes are quite evident, with hints of coconut. The caramel tends to come through more at the end or in the aftertaste. The bottle also says it was brewed with vanilla beans, giving the whole thing an overall ice cream sundae type of flavor. They seemed to nail what they were going for, but it's a bit too sweet for my taste.

Beer in Review: Ballast Point Sculpin IPA

Ballast Point is one of the few breweries from whom I have NEVER had a negative experience. Even if a certain style hasn't been my thing (like, say, the Sculpin until recently), I could appreciate that it was a high-quality beer.

As my IPA palate has developed, I have come around on the Sculpin IPA. I find the Sculpin to be a pretty smooth drink, with a lot of fruity hops. The hops resolve into apricot and tropical fruit flavors. A very slight hit of alcohol at the start (7.0% ABV) and a pretty strong aftertaste prevent this from being  sessionable (which may be a word I just made up), but this IPA is very tasty.

I have one or two of the Grapefruit Sculpins floating around my refrigerator, so expect a side-by-side comparison in the not-too-distant future.