Wednesday, February 18, 2015

On the road again!

Hello, sorry again for the gap between submissions. Life as always has taken me to yet another new place with new beverages to try. This time I am going to be in the great state of Texas. Although not widely known for their craft beer scene, perhaps more so for BBQ and rodeos, Texas has had a few brews which I have enjoyed.

First I will start with Real Ale Brewing Company from Blanco Texas their Devil’s Backbone which is a Belgian style tripel was pretty solid. Although wheaty (for those following along know I’m not much of a fan of wheat beer) it had some good slightly fruity undertones and sat at a solid 8.1% ABV. 

Next is Saint Arnold Brewing Company, they are based in Houston and claim to be the oldest craft brewery in Texas. I tried their Spring Bock. I liked it, darkish amber color with a slightly malty taste and a hint of hops at the end. That said, I’m thinking I still prefer the Namahage Bock from Akita’s Aqulia Brauhaus.

While at a local restaurant here in Denton it was suggested to me to try Rahr & Sons Iron Thistle from Fort Worth Texas, which is a strong scotch ale style, similar in flavor to Founder’s Dirty Bastard. It has 8% ABV and a fairly sweet malty taste. Overall I really enjoyed it.

Following that we have Lakewood Lager from Lakewood Brewing Company in Garland Texas. I wasn't blown away by this one, I liked it, it had reasonable flavor. A decent blend of hops and malts, I’d say leaning towards bitter hops. Not bad, but I’ll definitely be trying something new before I revisit this one.

Another from Rahr & Sons is the Ugly Pug black lager. I really was drawn to this one because of the dog on the bottle, I really like the artwork. It is overall a good beer though, similar in taste to Guinness if I had to compare it to something, but in my opinion, much better.

Next I’ll mention two at once, the Revolver Brewing’s Sidewinder and Blood & Honey. Now, these two drinks tasted pretty damn similar. The sidewinder was a bit more of a pale ale taste, slightly more hops, but the Blood & Honey was almost the same. Lots of spices, they tasted almost like a seasonal pumpkin beer without the pumpkin. They were ok, just not what I was expecting. I’d be interested in checking out other stuff from this company, but likely not these again.
Now we have two IPAs from different parts of the country. First from Colorado there is Odell Brewing Company’s IPA which was quite good. As an IPA drinker I really enjoyed this one. It had a slightly piney scent and wasn't too bitter, very drinkable. Next is Boulevard Brewing Company’s Pop-up Session IPA, lower ABV for an IPA at 4.2, it was ok. I don’t think I’d get it again. The hoppy flavor was not too strong, it was very drinkable, but overall I feel when compared to other IPAs there are better options out there. The only thing I can say for it was that it came in an interesting 6 pack box. I hadn’t seen anything like that before.

Lastly we have Sierra Nevada’s Nooner pilsner and Dogfish Head’s 60 Minute IPA. The Nooner pils wasn't bad. I could easily see myself drinking that on a weekend just hanging out with friends. It would be a perfect summer beer to have at a BBQ or party. I’ll definitely be looking for this again in the future. The 60 Minute is a great go to IPA, hoppy with a slight lemon taste, a noble beer overall. 

Thank you readers for taking the time to check out my most recent discoveries, hopefully there will be more to come before too long, Cheers!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

The latest beverages in my journey

Hello readers, thanks for tuning in. Again sorry for the lull in updates, beer is expensive and money has been tight. That said, I have taken advantage of a local super market providing mixed six packs for 10 dollars. While I do have the option of choosing bottom of the barrel beverages, I try to stick with something a bit tastier.
      First on my list we have Wilhelm Scream from Magic Hat Brewing Company. Overall not too bad, one of the few pumpkin brews I tried this season (pumpkin beer is unheard of in Japan [ edit apparently they do! Thanks Tom!]). I liked it well enough, a definite hint of spices, a bit of cinnamon and nutmeg. A good change from the IPAs I usually drink. I enjoyed it well enough, but I wouldn’t drink it year round.

          Next we have El Rojo Red Ale from Griffin Claw Brewing Company, located in Birmingham Michigan. I had not seen this one before and when a friend of mine bought a six pack I had to try it. Coming in a can is a bit different, I almost exclusively buy bottles (I’m not bias, generally the beer I like comes that way) I liked the artwork on it though. The color was reddish brown, not unlike other red ales I’ve had in the past, that aside though there was a dominant malty taste as well as some chocolate, an interesting combo. Not too sweet either. Overall it is good red ale, which I would drink again.
            Now we have Green Flash’s West Coast IPA. Having had many IPAs in my time, some good, some not so great, I really liked it. I would like to try it again sometime to get a better feel for it. The color was a burnt orange. Scent was a bit sharp with some floral bits. Super hoppy, which I generally tend to enjoy, overall not bad!  
            The next beer to mention is Best Brown Ale from Bell’s Brewing Company. Another Michigan favorite of mine, I have always enjoyed Bell’s products they brew fantastic (in my opinion) beer. The Brown is no exception, dark in color, but not opaque. Great malty flavor with a hint of caramel, medium body gives it a very high drinkability. I would easily recommend this one.
            The following beer is Samuel Adams Rebel IPA. Overall I felt like it was a bit lack luster. I was not super impressed, not bad by any means, but there are much better IPAs available for a comparable price. Hoppy and a 6.5% ABV which is nothing to shake a stick at, however I don’t imagine I will go out of my way to find this brew. That said, Samuel Adams makes some other fine beers.
       The last beer on my list is one I had not tasted in a long time. Bell’s Two Hearted Ale. This is one fantastic beer. It is hoppy, but not overly done, with malty undertones. The 7%ABV is not overbearing surprisingly enough. Even some people who do not like IPAs may enjoy this beer. This beer has lots of flavor, a nice somewhat piney aroma, a great beer which I would recommend for IPA lovers.
That's all for now. Cheers!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

And we're back again!

Another delay, I won’t bother my few readers with the reasons as to why it has taken me so long to make another update. While in California I had more than a few really good beverages. I however grew lazy and among other things did not write them down. I will have my readers know though that I really enjoyed a few from Lagunitas Brewing Company as well as Mission Brewing.  That said, we will move on to more recent developments. And this time, abroad again!

First off since moving to Hikone in Shiga prefecture, I have had a hell of a time getting good craft beer. None of the continence stores sell it. It is possible to find at specialty stores, but those seem to be reasonably rare.
We will start with two that I picked up first. I got them at a small liquor store (of course specializing in sake). They were a bit over 500 yen each. The one pictured on the left was the better of the two. Though a bit lack luster in taste, it was very drinkable, crisp and kind of reminded me a bit of pale ale. The bottle pictured to the right with the Samurai on it was awful, over carbonated and way to sweet. It had a mild raspberry flavor. I’m definitely not a fan of fruit beer. I would steer clear of it.

During a trip to Kyoto we did some exploring in one of the many shopping districts. There were of course many restaurants some of which advertising a beer “selection” Naturally I had to investigate, for science. As it was they generally held the weak “variety” that this region seems to support. Mainly they were: Guniess, Becks, Budwiser, Corona and Stella Artois. I’m not spending money on any of those, especially the premium 700+ yen these places were asking. I did however see a few bottles I did not recognize. But, I have a limit, and 1100 yen is just too much for one bottle. So, we walked to the next block over and saw a
JCA? O.o
small sake and wine shop. They had the same bottles that the restaurant was offering but 450 yen cheaper, deal. So I bought two.  The one with the blue label I don’t recall as much. I remember it being decent, but light with mild hops. The red label bottle was better. It had a slightly caramel taste, a bit malty, very good. The last bottle pictured was probably my favorite. I found it at a Jupiter import store in Kyoto station. I was initially intrigued by the little owl, and the fact that I had no idea what a Japanese Classic Ale was… So, for science, I tested it. I was pleasantly surprised that it basically was an IPA, my favorite kind of beer. And with 7% ABV I couldn't complain. It was great.  The bottle told a brief story about how that was the first kind of beer to be developed in Japan. Somehow I’m not 100% sure about that one, either way though, I would not mind seeing this more widely available.

Kirin, Kirin everywhere!
During a trip to Osaka a few weeks ago, I went to an omiyage shop looking around at all the Hello Kitty themed souvenirs; I saw a small cooler in the back stocked with water and tea. As well as a few bottles of sake and a beer with an octopus on it. I had just had my first takoyaki the night before so I decided… why not? I was expecting the beer to have ground up octopus in it, however, it did not. It had a fairly generic lager taste. Not bad, not worth 500 yen, but it was decent. The other two I have shown here are nothing
terribly special. Kirin Lager Beer is a go to out here, there is a Kirin factory in Shiga, so it is pretty much everywhere. Sapporo, Yebisu and even Asahi are less common. On the far right I added a cheaper alternative to Kirin Lager. Basically from what I can tell it’s the PBR of Japan. *Shrugs* the frat boys need to drink something right? Anyway, thanks for reading, take care everyone.


Thursday, September 12, 2013

Some beverages not so abroad...

Hello dear readers. Again sorry for the delay, I have some great drinks in store for you today.
 I recently moved to Pacific Grove California where I have had the chance to try a few of the somewhat local craft beers.  

I say somewhat, only because I’m not too knowledgeable about the geography of California but, what I have had so far isn’t too far from here.

First off I had a few beers from Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing Company.  One of their big selling points is Organic Beer. Which, I’m not entirely sure I taste the difference to be honest.  It’s good, and the bottles are quite large. I got a mixed six pack of 1pint 8ounce bottles for around 12 dollars. Not too bad of a deal really.

The pack I had contained an Amber Ale, which was a good standalone beer, not too strong, very mild hoppy flavor with 5% ABV, A good very drinkable beverage. It was probably my favorite of the three.

The second was an Organic IPA, another which wasn’t bad. Quite hoppy, as to be expected, good finish fairly bitter, 7% ABV.  

The last was called The Peoples Porter. Apparently it is brewed with coffee and vanilla, both of which had very subtle hints. I was drinking it cold, though I’m under the impression it might have been better at room temperature. 5% ABV a hearty reasonably full bodied drink.

A few of the others I’ve had recently include a selection from the Speakeasy Ales and Lagers from San Francisco: The Prohibition Ale, Big Daddy IPA, and Tallulah IPA.

Prohibition Ale was pretty good. I had “Prohibition Style” ale before and I was not impressed. I believe the one I did not like was Batch 19 (a sneaky Coors beer in disguise).  This one however was much better. Fairly bold taste, slight caramel flavoring, a nice rich color. Not bad overall, very tasty. 

Big Daddy IPA was pretty standard as IPA’s go. Not amazing, drinkable, but I preferred the Prohibition Ale instead.

The last of the ones I tried from them was Tallulah Extra Pale Ale, an interesting drink, starts with a slightly fruity note then leaves off with the hoppy slightly dry finish, very flavorful, a pretty interesting drink if you like pale ales.

From English Ales Brewing Company I had Dragon Slayer IPA and 1066 Pale Ale. Both of which were good.

The Dragon Slayer was very dark; not such a high ABV only 5.2% but it had a lot of flavor. I had it with dinner one night; it was amazing with a roast beef sandwich.

The 1066 pale ale was definitely what it said, a standard pale ale, light taste, reasonably hoppy 6% ABV. I’m looking forward to trying more of their brews soon.

The last drink of this update is Alley Cat amber ale from Lost Coast Brewing Company.  At 5.5% ABV it is quite drinkable. Lots of flavor, good color and a reasonable price for a six pack, something like 8 dollars. It has a slight caramel taste to it with a mild hops aftertaste.  Another company I look forward to sampling more beverages from.

As a whole it has been fairly eventful. I recently met another beer enthusiast locally, we plan on making a trip soon to get to a few of these breweries.  I’m very excited for the new beverages to try on the west coast. Thanks for reading.

Monday, August 19, 2013

A general post about life and the beer it has brought me.

Hello my dedicated readers. Sorry for the delay again. I have been super busy. As anyone reading the previous entries would be able to tell I had been living in Akita Japan, for the last year and some change.  I recently moved back to the good ole USA. I had been in Michigan for a very frenzied month, and just a few days ago moved to Pacific Grove in California.

Admittedly I have been to two beer festivals since I last wrote. I need to dedicate more time to writing, and less to drinking this good beer it seems.

First, I went to a small beer "festival" in Nakaichi in Akita. This was a few months ago. Again, sorry for the delay.
I recall some very interesting flavors, to be sure, peach and champagne were two that were better than expected. Also, taking notes will be in the future of my blog as well...

Dave, Jonathan and Tom
Beer drinkers extraordinaire
I had a great time with some good friends at the last beer festival I went to in Akita. It was a good time, great weather too.

As for my somewhat more recent beer festival adventure. I was able to attend the Michigan Summer Craft Beer Festival in Ypsilanti Michigan. It was great, as to be expected. There was some rain and it was a bit humid. Welcome to Michigan. But, the time spent with friends and family drinking good beer was fantastic as usual.

A good turnout, despite the rain!
My friends and I had a smoked red ale (from which brewery I can't remember). Which was fantastic, as well as several go to's such as Dragon's Milk from New Holland Brewing Company and one or two from Bells (Which I'm glad decided to show up to the festival).

Sorry for the limited update folks. Life has been crazy. One of my first purchases in California was a sampler of Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing beers. I haven't had a chance to properly sample them (with notes!) But I hope to soon!

Thanks again for reading. Cheers!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Long time no post. Time for an update!

Well sorry again for the delay. Life can get busy. As it is I hope to be more consistent in my writing but, I promise nothing.

Since my trip to Okinawa I have had several trips to Aquila Brewhaus in the city. Good stuff as usual. Though nothing terribly new. I plan on attending a beer festival in Akita city next weekend. Hopefully I can snap some photos and get a decent review of the beers of the day.

As for the recent discoveries ...
First, is a beer I have been reluctant to try, Echigo's white ale. Overall I was concerned thinking it might have a overwhelmingly wheat taste. I was surprised to find it was quite drinkable, slightly wheaty but not too bad, with a little bite.
Next I was pleased to find this behemoth the Kaiserdom dark lager. Wow. It is 1 liter of beer. Very impressive. It was something like 525 yen. A fair price for the quantity of beverage. The taste was not amazing, it had a very plain kind of stout taste, not super flavorful but drinkable. I enjoyed it. Though I will admit it was a commitment to drink.

Next is the Grand Kirin, which I found at a local (and new) 7/11 convenience store. Sometimes they have good stuff. So I decided to try one of the big beer companies. It was a bit pricey, like 280 yen? It was in a strange greenish bottle too. Perhaps Kirin was trying to be classy. Anyway at 6% alcohol it was alright. not worth the price, no notable flavors. Just a slightly higher ABV .  Next we have the red Coedo. It was sweet potato flavor. Which apparently is a good thing in Japan. As I really have been fond of several of the other Coedo beers I thought it might be pretty good. It was interesting. A bit sweet, believe it or not, and a bit too much for my tastes. Possibly with some salty snacks to balance it out it might have been a bit better. A strange drink, not awful. Probably worth a try, for ~280 yen, its a decent choice.  Next there is the Echigo Kolsch. Not so different from the white actually, I enjoyed it a bit more. But, it had a very similar taste. Somewhat bitter, less wheat flavor and a small hop accent. Overall pretty good. Last is Bohemia, a fairly average pilsner, crisp and drinkable.

 Lastly we have the SUPER KOMACHI BEER! Released by Tazawako brewing company, to celebrate the starting of the Super Komachi train, (pictured on the can)  the Super Komachi ALT is pretty good, a nice deep red color full body, tons of flavor crisp after taste, sadly though VERY expensive, over 400 yen for 100 milliliters. (Thanks for the beverage Tom!)

Well that's all for now. Take care readers!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Okinawan Adventure!

I recently was able to travel to Okinawa in southern Japan for a vacation.  Besides doing some amazing sight seeing and snorkeling I was able to try some of the local beer selection, and as a whole I was not disappointed.

First off I will start with the larger of the beer companies, Orion. As I had previously had it, it was not high on my must have list for the trip. It was however a very drinkable pilsner, I enjoyed a few mugs of it while I was able to get it on tap. Nothing amazing, it reminded me of Kirin probably more then anything else.

Next I will mention the highlight of the trip Helios Brew Pub. With five very different brews on tap it was a fantastic place to try, the food was good too!

I ordered the sampler set, a 1100 yen investment I don't regret. It started with the Blue Sky & Ocean, a German style weizen. Good, but as I have mentioned before I'm not too fond of wheaty beers. The next was a very unique beer, the Goya Dry. As one might expect from a goya, quite bitter. An interesting flavor mixed with the light beer, a bit strange, though not terrible. The next was the German Lager, which had a great full flavor, not too strong, but rich. The next was a English style Pale Ale, overall not bad, a great hoppy flavor with a crisp finish . The last and darkest was the English style Porter, a smooth heavy taste, very filling with a slight hint of caramel another good beer.

As it is I only ordered one proper beer and choose the English style Pale Ale. It was surprisingly my favorite of the five.

The next night we went to a strange American style bar near our hotel. I was able to sample another Okinawan local,  Nanto Brewery's Nihede Beer (hard). As it
is I didn't get to try the (soft) version so sadly I can't compare. As for the Nihede (hard) It was enjoyable overall if not horribly over priced something like 600 yen a bottle. There was some flavor that reminded me of a brown ale, somewhat malty but, with less body.  It was fairly drinkable a slight caramel undertone, as well as a bit of a mild aftertaste. Overall not a loss.

As a whole I would say my trip to Okinawa was amazing. I got to see some great sights and drink some great beer.  Not to mention I was able to get out of the awful spring weather Akita has presented us. Hopefully in my next update I will be able to review some of the Okinawan sake I bought. No snake in the jar but cool stuff for sure.

Until next time.