The Great Left Hand Milk Stout Swindle

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Next time you’re buying Left Hand Milk Stout for your home consumption, make sure you opt for the Nitro version.  The standard Milk Stout bottle is a sad excuse for what you are getting at the bar.

Last we checked in, at any bar (it’s a mainstay at Union Hall [see the Beer Map]) we had a strong inclination for it.

Stout (Milk) Left Hand Milk Stout 6.5 7.5 7 Chocolate Full Stout! so smooth – great go to

Now if you want to take it home and make the mistake of buying the non-Nitro bottle, you are left with a lifeless cup of joe that doesn’t have a cascading waterfall of flavor to ride and drops down to a 4-4.5

It’s disappointing to say the least but in the name of science and all things numbers, we will compare the two bottles side by side for the most accurate description.

In the meantime, you’ve been warned.

 

 

Too Experienced: The Craft Experience

Finally… a beer festival that can live up to it’s price tag.

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JC and I were blessed to attend the press session which resulted in a more relaxed atmosphere of business owners, distributors, and writers tasting beers.  Along with the brewmasters in attendance, constant hot food circulating, and a massive pile of chocolate and cheese – this was definitely the best of the fests.

The Craft Experience was marketed as an elite event open for the first time to the public.  The venue screamed this being among art galleries in Chelsea.  All fancy pants aside, we are here for the beer.

And it delivered.  In addition to having brewery tables, there were distributor tables that had a few beers from the same country.   For example, a Belgian table had plenty of different Saisons, a German with Hefeweizens and Pilsners, etc.

On top of that there were spirits – which for the sake of being able to still walk home that night, we sampled only one, the Ballast Point Old Grove Gin which fits nicely into the disappointed category for that brewery.  They make whiskey, but it’s unavailable in NY (walk back West where you came from Ballast Point).

Did we mention the food?  Us whores devoured the hors d’oeuvres. From grilled cheese, mini burgers, chicken & fig skewers, shrimp cocktail…there was plenty, but never enough when you’re drinking for hours.

Most importantly, because the brewmasters, presidents and CEO’s of the breweries were there, they wanted to talk to you about the beer.  Unlike most beer fests aka cattle farms, you weren’t waiting on lines for ages only to be pushed away by the next eager beaver pounding their two ounce sample.

Ideally all beer events would be 1 ticket for a multiple day festival (like the magical Fancy Food Show) so there is no rush and a conversation with someone serving the beer isn’t unheard of, or looked down upon.  But with the popularity of these events, most event planners are looking to milk the cows for all they got.

A festival like this gives hope to those looking for something beyond a race against the clock drinking marathon.

Highlights:

Type Company Name JC # CE # Avg # Notes
Stout (Milk) Samuel Smith Chocolate Stout 8 8 8 lots of chocolate, touch of java. Served hot could pass as hot chocolate
Pilsner (German Style) Neumarkter Lammsbräu Organic Pilser 7.5 6.5 7 best pilsner ever, crisp, drop water taste, clean
Lambic (Fruit) Brouwerij Lindemans Lindemans Framboise 8.5 9 9 perfect balance of sweet/sour, pure dessert in a bottle, drinking raspberry jelly. Pleasurable pucker!

Duds:

Pumpkin Ale The Bruery Autumn Maple 1.5 2.5 2 dry medicine, nausea inducer (stick to their sour)
Gimmick/Spiced Moa Breakfast Ale 3.5 1.5 2.5 bitter version of Leinenkugel’s Sunset Wheat (not an improvement) raised .5 since East Ville Des Folies
Gimmick/Spiced Pyramid Apricot Ale 3.5 2.5 3 very fake, artificial perfume, nothing positive

 

We’re looking forward to being invited back next year.

 

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PS Check out those real glasses, not plastic shot glasses.  That sums up the entire event.

Portland Maine’s Best

If you’re going to Portland, Maine Allagash is a must stop.  Like most, our introduction began with their White (liked it more before discovering German wheats, American version of wheat, good start, a true 5.75).

Actual beer taste aside, the set up of their tasting room is excellent for many reasons:

1. You don’t have to go on a tour to “earn” a taste.

2. You literally walk up to the bar and they ask, “How many do you have and where are you sitting?” Because yes, they bring the flights to you.

3. There’s an outdoor area along with a food truck outside.

4. The flight glasses and paddle are just so damn classy:

Allagash_flight

If only every brewery took strangers in with such open arms…. and free.

Pictured above (all scores CE only):

White- same as usual except creamier from the source tap – 6
House- smells like pale ale, taste just like one too, hoppy, citrusy, not too much bang – 5
Bourbon Barrel Black- weak whiskey nose, strong alcohol finish, want more smoke- 4.5
Allagash Fluxus 2013- coffee/chocolate note, very little orange, rich- 5.5

An excellent way to start a trip into Portland…or end if you don’t buckle up!  So please, please, please, please, please hire an escort to drive you around or have a friend who doesn’t mind not indulging, or just become friends with Benny the Cab.

 

Fox Mulder Bock

Mulder Bock

After a tough day at the office Fox Mulder prefers a Spoetzl Shiner Bock (bland, drop caramel, easy to drink but not enjoyable, watery JC: 4.5, CE:4 , Avg: 4.5).

This was back in 2000 so at least he was ahead of the curve as it is now in many bars replacing Narragansett Lager as a cheap go to.

To explain how he ended up with one: It was the episode’s director’s favorite beer.  Vince Gilligan happened to direct it so the next person to say, how were you not watching Breaking Bad???? You could explain, I was busy catching up on the X-Files first.  For those interested parties – it is episode “Je Souhaite” (S07E21) and has Will Sasso as well.

The Real Heroes

Comic Con season is officially over now that both San Diego and New York have had their share.

Hiding down the dark streets of San Diego (no such thing) were these two unlikely heroes.

SDCC

Only one missing is Professor Export Stout.  The Witty Wit. Barley Quinn.  Dunkel Wise Guy.  Okay so that’s more than one. Who else is missing?

 

Burned Twice

by Ballast Point during one trip.  After reaching out to the company about tours, no word back.  First night in San Diego, we immediately go to a bar that finally has Wahoo Wheat, The Hopping Pig.

Except it was with a twist: with Thai Chili, Lime, and Ginger.  

Beer arrives in a goblet, a promising start.

Not sure if it was this batch, but holy shit was this unbalanced to the spicy side.  It became a feat of strength just to drink it.

Was looking forward to the lime and ginger to help lull the heat, but there was not one drop of either to be found.

Tasting notes: overpowering spice, painful, firewater, why have you forsaken me?, novelty, mistake, works in a flight for the pure gimmick but the literal heartburn from a pint no

JC 2
CE 4.5 (5 if served at 2-4 oz)

Even the cask of Habanero Sculpin was better than this since the spice and hops played off each other.

PostBallast

LIC is Looking Up

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(click the picture for a better view)

Despite having a bad growler experience recently (lesson learned- drink them the day of only), Foodcellar & Co. Market in Long Island City now has growler fills for decent prices of $14-16, including Astoria’s SingleCut Beersmiths.  You better know what you like beforehand though since they don’t allow tastes.  I had a similar experience at a convenience store/supermarket in Savannah.

Beer stores are cool with tasting but not supermarkets which is odd considering the only reason I ever step into Foodcellar is for their free samples of cheese and bakery products.

In fact, I never bought anything from them since they are just a knock off Whole Foods but at a higher price. Their reviews aren’t the greatest either, but for me, just walking down the aisles makes me feel like you are losing money while everyone behind the counter laughs.

Their bottled selection is nice too, and the prices aren’t crazy (apparently they mark up the food the most).  $10.99 for 6 pack of craft beer at a NY supermarket is standard. The DOB on the 22oz Southern Tier Creme Brulee was 06/06/13 which I’d be happy with if I ever chose to give this establishment money.

They also have a create your own 6 pack which I’m always weary of since I’m thinking those cans fell off the truck when first delivering, so I’ll be giving it the shifty eyes until I actually try one.

Foodcellar has been added to the the beer map and will turn to a blue marker once they take my money giving me the right to judge them further.

 

This One is Just Right…

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With a hot July 4th past us, a question came up on proper temperatures for serving beer.

While drinking an ice cold Mama’s Little Yella Pils (5.5 across the board) on the beach, CE realized that the Kellerweis he bought should be taken out of the cooler and placed in the fridge because the taste of beer fades to nothing below a certain temperature.  Simply: Craft = fridge, lawnmower beers & below = on ice.

That’s when JC said, fridge? It should be straight from the pantry, room temperature.

So it begins…

CE:

What sane person in their right mind drinks room temperature liquid?  At all NY State Psychiatric Hospitals, the water, decaffeinated coffee, and tea is all served at room temperature to the delight of the patients.  The British are one thing, but a warm beer is 2 clicks away from drinking urine.

There is no denying that the farther away from freezing the beer is, the more you can taste it and it’s subtleties (if it has any), but there’s gotta be a line.  And I’m drawing it at a few degrees above proper refrigeration, after letting the beer sit for a moment before opening.

JC:

I’d like to be more scientific.

When anything is extremely hot or cold, it masks subtleties of the taste.  That’s why Coors can ONLY BE SERVED “Rocky Mountain Cold.”

I personally think 45-55 degrees is a good temperature for a Good Craft Beer (again, Coors and Bud Light needs served around 34-40F).

kelvin_thermometer

So there you have it…

After this discussion, a test will have to be conducted:  1 craft beer and 1 conglomerate stock beer served at room temperature, a few minutes out of the fridge and straight out of the cooler and rated.

We Got a Map!

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Never get lost again!  Click on “The Beer Map” above or our permalink http://downwiththehops.com/beer-map for a beer map of NYC where you can find great bars to enjoy beer as well as new places waiting to be judged by our panel of rotted liver experts!  For your convenience, short descriptions are included at each location.

Just like any newborn, the map will grow with time.  We hope that includes cities beyond our own…

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