Belgium in a Box

TinTin in a Box

 

For those with an expired passport and the cravings of a true Belgium sour, look no further than Belgiuminabox.com.  DWTH doesn’t normally promote any other site, so you know this spot is legit.

JC had the pleasure of tasting the Verzet Oud Bruin Oak Leaf while in Belgium (the only 10/10 beer recorded on DWTH) and the only way to continue the joy of drinking it, was to turn to BIAB.com.

The site also has cheeses and sweets, but we all know the national export of Belgium may as well be sours, specifically the Oud Bruin.

The shipping fee is up there, but there is a guide on the site to help you price out the most bang for your buck.

If you don’t want to commit to a large bottle of Verzet, though you should, try the 375 mL 2014 Verzet Oud Bruin:

https://belgiuminabox.com/shop/beer/5856-verzet-oud-bruin-2014-375-cl.html

Orlando Brewmania

DWTH OLE

DWTH travelled to the great city of Orlando to experience some fine brews in the beautifully air conditioned 4 Points by Sheraton.

JC graciously imported the beer from Tampa and we found some great ones in the batch.

Pro Tip #1– Grab a glass from either room service or downstairs to appreciate the beer vs the plastic or paper cups provided in the room.

Pro Tip #2 – Test the temperature of the fridge with water before beer.  At the 4 Points, a setting of 2/7 still resulted in a frozen salad and Gatorade (guess which tasted better).

 

Round 01:

Orlando_Round01

Aecht Schelnekerla Urbock  JC 8.5 CE 8.5 – smoke bomb, bacon in a glass, one of the best of it’s kind

Aecht Schelnekerla Weizen  JC 8.0 CE 7.0 – slightly watered down version of the Urbock.  A good starter: “Welcome to the family!”

Gueuze Giradin 1882   JC 6.0 CE 5.5

 

 

Round 02:

Round02

Grimm Cherry Raspberry Pop!  JC 6.0 CE 6.5 – let this one sit out from the fridge.  Started as a 5 due to a lack of sourness, but opened up nicely

Crooked Stave L’Brett D’Raspberry  JC 8.5 CE 9.0 – pure raspberry jam, sour punch.  Another strong beer from a great brewery. High price tag makes it a treat only

Trooper Red ‘N’ Black Porter  JC 5.5 CE 5.0 – syrupy mash.  drinkable, but no real reason to

Smuttynose Rocky Road JC 6.0 CE 5.5 – 78% dark chocolate, no marshmallow yet sweet taste to it, another beer that opened up (common theme when the Sheraton fridge is too cold for it’s own good)

 

Round 03:

Round 03

A L’ancienne Vat 77 Mono Blend Geuze Boon  JC 4.0 CE 1.0

Lagunitas Night Time JC 4.5 CE 4.5 – tobacco juice solidifying the Lagunitas as an overall meh brand

Sierra Nevada Otra Vez  JC 7.5 CE 7.5 – another great German intrepretation from SN (see their Kellerweis Hefeweizen). Refreshing with a decent amount of salt

Rodenbach Vintage 2013  JC 8.0 CE 8.5 – saved the best for last. Sweet and sour sauce.  Add some more sour and it’s easy in 9+ territory

 

Round 04:

Round 04

Smuttynose – Biere De Shire   JC 3.5  CE  1.0 – Smuttynose is consistent in its disappointment

 

Round 05 (on the road):

Round 05

Bärentöter – German Sour Gose Bock JC 8.0. CE 8.5 – Oktoberfest malty texture with a nice sour taste. Tastes great in the back of a car.

 

 

The Phoenix That is Barrier Brewing

Barrier Phoenix

By Special Guest Contributor AG “I Drink Piss IPAs”

When the superstorm of the century, Hurricane Sandy, crashed onto the south shores of Long Island, there was no escaping its wrath.  Thousands of homes and businesses up and down the shore were left picking up the pieces and starting over.

The irony here at DWTH was that there was never a better time to crack open a cold one to forget your troubles, yet no local breweries were up and running because of the destruction.

Cut to 2013, when from the ashes of a small tap room in Oceanside NY, and with the help of well bought insurance and the government’s purse, Barrier Brewing re-opened its doors and united a community in desperate need of some good goddam beer.  Barrier, you saved us!

Yes we know the story is sappy, and filled with Hollywood style redemption, but we love the beer there and we love war stories while we drink.  Since 2013 they’ve opened a pretty kick ass taproom in the brewery and have started shipping their products down the East Coast.

So if you find your way into an East Coast bar, and see a Barrier Brewing tap there- order that damn beer!  Find the closest person next to you, and while you drink it, tell them about the beer that survived the storm.  At the very least, the story might get you laid.

Keep an eye out for the following Barrier brews:
– Frau Blücher (Rauchbier) – smoked bacon in a glass.  A DWTH favorite
– Copernicus (Cream Ale) – if it’s on Nitro you are in for a slip and slide of pure flavor
– Rembrandt (Robust Porter)
– Undertow (Dunkel Rauch)

Suds Story

We once drank a beer.  It was a delicious beer.  It hit every sense- starting with the eyes and ears, moving to the nose, with taste and touch not far behind.  Sure, our knees didn’t buckle, but that’s only because we were sitting down.

Now this beer only remains a mystery.  There is no written documentation of it, no picture, no receipt, there is nothing but a memory.

Yet, the memory is not real.  It is only an ideal, something to be discovered.

So it has become our mission, to find this beer, this 10 out of 10.  Yes, we have Franziskaner Weissbier (Naturtrub) as a 9.5 and hold it as the golden standard of Hefes, nay, all beers.  It is possible that nothing will ever top it, and our final act will be changing Franziskaner to a 10/10.  However, until that day, we will remain on the hunt.

 

Franziskaner_Bräu_München_1935_Beer_Poster_example_big

Flea Market Beers

Now that spring is fighting it’s way through this late winter, flea markets are back!pickers

 

Who doesn’t love walking around in parking lots picking around another person’s goods while eating something fried up real good?  I’ll tell you – those same people drinking craft beer.  When a flea market sells a beer from a local vendor, you buy it!  That’s an order.  It makes the experience much more whole for the following reasons:

  1. your bargaining skills will be enhanced as your confidence increases
  2. that questionable fish taco all of sudden tastes much better than the first bite
  3. the wait for your significant other to pick over rusted jewelry, crusted comics, or ripped clothing somehow becomes bearable

LIC Flea in Long Island City, Queens offers beers from Big Alice (personal favorite of ours) and Rockaway Brewing every week.  EVERY WEEK.  Well, really weekend but that happens at the end of every week therefore it still counts.

On top of that the DWTH crew happened to run into two separate parties of people we know but didn’t know were also flea-ing.  Where did we bump into them?  On line for another round of beers, proving that beer a simply makes a flea market experience that much better.

We’ll flea you there!

The Rise and Fall of the Beer Festival

There was a time when the DWTH crew would mark out for every beer festival on east side of the Mississippi.  However it is very easy to get festival fatigue, especially when you don’t travel.

Often time the beer vendors do not rotate enough so you are dealing with repeat beers.  If it was a brewery that featured a new or seasonal beer each time it would make it worthwhile, but understandably breweries are bringing their flagship to introduce first timers to their brews.

What it comes down to is attending a few festivals across the country to mix things up.  The best festival NYC offered was the Craft Experience as reviewed earlier, but that was 3 (!) years ago and it hasn’t ran since.

Boston has the Extreme Beer Fest from Beer Advocate which is all of the most offbeat beers (read: tartest of the sours, biggest of the barleywines, and the most “wait, there’s what in this beer?” moments)

The Great American Beer Festival in Denver is still on our bucket list too.

In the meantime, hitting all of the best beer bars in the US and beyond is a job we’ve gladly accepted.

 

Smokin!

Recently both JC and I have posted about the beauties of rauchbiers aka smoked beers.

It should come to no surprise that yet another excellent beer style originated out of Germany.  Germany – what can’t they do wrong?!

Aecht Schlenkerla Fastenbier is the king of the category but now there are plenty of other countries taking their stake in the game including hometown favorite Barrier Brewing and their Frau Blucher.  Next time your in Oceanside, be sure to sip the smoke!

 

 

 

Goodbye IPAs, Hello Sours!

It’s amazing what a year can do on the craft beer scene.  Here at Down With the Hops, we celebrate every time we step into a bar and see the number of gross IPAs dropping off the chalkboard while the number of sours climb in rank.

Hops had their time in the sun, now it’s clearly bacteria time.  Who would have thought something with such a negative connotation could produce such beautiful tasting beers?

The general public is shifting their taste from, “brettanoma-what?”

Sour Puss

 

To, yes I’d love another gose please! Tasty Sour

 

And for this, we are grateful people are realizing how delicious beer can be without having the IBUs constantly skyrocketing

 

 

 

 

The Great Left Hand Milk Stout Swindle

LeftHand

 

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.

CraftExperience_banner

 

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.

 

CraftExperience_JC_CE

 

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