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Beer Reviews

Catching Up

Apologies for the blogging hiatus all you on the edges of your seats, this may not satisfy, but I needed to post something to catch up. What's been going on in beer and breweries: Events:

1.) Board-member Mike and I went to a few Zwicklemania events, this is a super-fun day for people that like breweries - you get to tour breweries, I got a lot of great input from brewmasters, and you get loads of free swag and samples (HUB was the most generous by far). Don't miss it next year - WE MIGHT BE OPEN BY THEN!IMAG0995

2.) Grocery-Store Blind IPA Tasting. Always fun to nerd out and taste 10 regular ol' IPAs and rate them while trying to guess what you're having. So humbling, I got 2 out of 10 right and strongly supported the drinkable Bridgeport IPA. 10 Barrel Apocalypse won the night for me personally, pretty solid beer. Check out the host Dustin's blog for the full recap.


Since last post I've brewed the Rufus Red (one of my favorites), a German Pilsner which will be ready in like 8 weeks, and a single-hop pale with Ahtanum hops. Let me know if you want the recipes, no time to get into that now. I entered my recent IPA - the "Father Figure" in the blind IPA tasting, and despite not personally liking it very much at all, it beat out a few heavy-hitters, so that's always a good time.


Momentum has slowed a bit, I'm still waiting to hear back from the State that we've been approved as a nonprofit corporation, I feel like that is the last step really needed before kicking off fundraising. Yes, we need your money. We're up to five committed board members at this point, and that is perhaps the most exciting thing to me right now, spreading this vision and getting others excited and talking about it on their own. I'll do a post introducing those involved at some point.

Lastly, I don't know if you've heard of the Facebook or not, but if you have, Like us so we feel better about ourselves and you get more Ex Novo info.

Best Beer Cities

Steve Body puts together a good list here of his top 10+ beer cities, it's worth the read. Tough to swallow only being #2 up here in Bridge City, but I can't argue with the fearsome lineup of excellent breweries San Diego offers. He does point out that PDX offers a better "destination" and wider spectrum, and I fully agree - San Diego has the West Coast IPA, Double IPA, Red IPA thing down pat, and that's a beautiful thing, but they may have something to learn from The Commons, Cascade and Breakside. Just over the hill, Bend was rated #8, despite being a pretty small town, I think that number will rise in the next few years as the newer breweries really get it dialed in.

Thoughts? Any obvious omissions?

Completion IIPA Review

Completion IIPA Review


It's been awhile since I reviewed one of our own beers, as it turns out I'm well pleased with this Double IPA  we have - it turns 2 months old today and it is really coming along nicely. If you hate hops, you will HATE this beer. We did not skimp at all with the late kettle additions and dry hops on the Completion, and the result is a super flavorful, easy to drink big beer that I will be lament being out of. Using the RateBeer system, here are my thoughts - add yours if you've come over to try it...IMG_20121205_114819

This guy finished at 8.2%, 116 IBUs, 1.017 FG

Appearance (4/5): Pours a gorgeous light orange with some ruby hues, good white head on it.

Aroma (8.5/10): Big hop aroma: Grapefruit, Pine and Tropical Fruits all up in your nose

Taste (8/10): Definitely on the hop-focused side of balanced, bitter but not harsh. Citrus and fruit flavor picked up on the nose.

Palate (3.5/5): A little too bitter, but the taste doesn't linger, smooth for a IIPA, no alcohol 'heat'

Overall (17/20) I think it's pretty great, especially for a first attempt. It's a hop showcase, the Pacific Jade and Amarillo dominate, with the citrus and pine flavors filling in the gaps. Next version I suggest we take 15-20 IBUs off and leave everything else the same.

Hope I have some left for our Christmas party...

Winter Is Coming

Winter Is Coming


Friday night we were invited over to Dustin's for a winter beer blind tasting; this is a totally normal and really fun way to spend a Friday, schedule yours soon. The lineup consisted of 12 winter seasonals and one oatmeal stout - I don't know why only 11 made it into this was taken after the tasting...

From left to right, the contestants - along with their RateBeer score:

  1. Ninkasi 'Sleigh'r' (85) - Dark Double Altbier
  2. Bridgeport 'Ebenezer' (79) - English Strong Ale
  3. 10 Barrel 'Pray For Snow' (not rated) - American Strong Ale
  4. Great Divide 'Hibernation' (98) - English Old Ale
  5. 21st Amendment 'Fireside Chat' (48) - Spiced English Strong Ale
  6. Hopworks 'Abominable' (95) - American Strong Ale
  7. Nogne 'Winter Ale' (99) - American Strong Ale
  8. Pyramid 'Snowcap' (85 {really?}) - English Strong Ale
  9. Full Sail 'Wassail' (92) - English Strong Ale
  10. Sierra Nevada 'Celebration' (98) - Winter IPA?
  11. Widmer 'Brrr' (92) - Winter Red Ale
  12. Firestone Walker 'Velvet Merlin' (98) - Oatmeal Stout (not pictured)
  13. Schooner Exact 'Hoppy Holidays' (81) - American Strong Ale (not pictured)

Each taster had a scoresheet, and rated each beer on 5 basic categories: appearance, aroma, taste, palate/mouthfeel, finish. I regret that I only scored the beers tasted, I didn't take notes - which makes a recap 2 days later difficult. The overall winner among the group was the widely available Widmer Brrr. It really is a solid beer, and I would wager it won because it is essentially an India Red Ale with flavors everyone is familiar with.

My top 3 were: Nogne Winter Ale, 10 Barrel 'Pray for Snow', and the HUB 'Abominale'. I tried to stay objective and rate based on the category of winter ale or winter warmer, though it seems I favor American Strong Ales to the English style...blind taste tests always reveal interesting things.


I am pleased that I was bearish all along on the Pyramid Snowcap, and I ended up rating it the lowest among the 13 - street cred. Also receiving low marks was the 21st Amendment Fireside Chat, though it gets best artwork on the logo design which is certainly worth something. If you want anothers' view on the tasting, Dustin's post is here for your enjoyment.

So go do your own tasting or use my recommendations to choose a winner - winter is coming, time to embrace it.

The Payoff

The Payoff


Faithful blog readers will know that we recently made a recipe based on Firestone Walker's award-sweeping Pale 31 pale ale. *A note about clones: based on what breweries post on their website, one can sometimes surmise some ingredients and specifications (OG, ABV, IBU, SRM) found in a particular beer. So a clone is not following another's recipe, it's like seeing the ingredients (not portions or timing) for some chocolate chip cookies and knowing how many calories are in it and then trying to figure out how it was made.*

So our pale is now ready (dubbed Pale Comparison) and the only true unbiased testing comes blind.

ImageYou who are not blind can tell that we do not have the commercial filtering equipment afforded by FW, so ours is the murky one on the left, that will probably settle over the next 2 weeks.


ImageThree trusted friends and beer appreciators and myself tasted the two blind, like Devin here, who can't trust himself to keep his eyes closed. Surprisingly 4 out of 4 scored ours higher than the Pale 31, and it wasn't even that close. I tasted the Pale 31 second, and was disappointed with it because I thought it was ours - jazzed. The Pale Comparison has a superb nose with citrus and subtle floral tones, and finishes clean but a touch sweeter than the 31. Enough with the bragging, this is why we brew - it's a blast, and occasionally you hit one out of the park. We'll keep this one as a regular in the rotation.

Double Fist

image Thank you Chicago's Revolution Brewery for this very delicious treat. Double pale though....isn't that just a.....