Category Archives: Beer Ratings

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

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.

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.

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

Spring Craft Dud (Beer) Festival 2013- Nassau Coliseum

NassauSpringDud13_banner

 

The calendar says Spring is here so here come the next wave of beer festivals.  Once again Starfish Junction hosted at Nassau Coliseum, a change from the last one at Belmont Race track where your body temperature matched the beers’.

Before heading to the festival, you could have downloaded or printed a printable brewery map which was a good start, but they should take note from Hand Crafted Taste Co, who has started to list the brews available from each brewery for their NYC Craft Beer Festival – Spring Seasonals happening March 30th (see you there).

Tickets indicated doors opened at 5pm, but the line didn’t start moving for another 30 minutes and it was staggered entry afterward.  Strike two.  Next festival let’s get more than one entrance or start checking ID’s while people are waiting on line.  Inciting anger in a crowd ready to drink is never the right move.

Once inside, the crowds looked overwhelming but lines moved very nicely.  They always have a charity set up (no better person to give their money away than a drunk one) where 3 basketball foul shots cost $5 and for every basket you get a raffle ticket.  But what, are you here for the beer?

Well for the most part, they sucked.  We can blame it on the fact that it was a spring focus of beers, therefore more hoppy, or that Long Island Breweries aren’t held in high regard by this blog (still looking for a favorite from there).  But of the 45 beers tried, only 2 (!) averaged a high score of 6.  This brings up plenty of issues…

There were 64 breweries listed on the site which served an average of 2 beers at their table, for a total of 128 beers.  And we got to 45,  which is less than a third of available beers (and how about the mystery bottleshop with 5 extra beers?).  With a 3.5 hour session (Session II: 5:30 pm – 9:00pm) you should be able to get to more, but as mentioned earlier, not getting in til 6:15 didn’t help.  As a nice book end, many breweries ran out of beer by 8:30pm so it’s now about a 2 hour session.  [An email was written to the company about this issue, and no response was received.]

While you may be thinking, “but you were writing all your stupid scribble notes down, so you missed out on precious drink time.”  Don’t fret- were writing down while waiting on the next line just like our great grandfathers’ did in the factory assembly line.  It’s called efficiency, sweetheart!    Still, it wasn’t enough for the Dud Fest.

The nail in the coffin was the mask of “craft” beers while many major companies were hiding behind new labels, such as Coors with their Third Shift and Batch 19.

Highlights:
Pilsner (Czech Style,) Brouwerij Palm NV, Estaminet Premium Pils
JC- 6, CE- 5.5, Avg.-6    Notes:  Clean Pils

Ale (Scottish), Olde Burnside Brewing Co, Ten Penny Ale
JC-5, CE-5.5, Avg- 5.5   Notes: tastes like dunkin donuts

Flanders Oud Bruin, Brouwerij, Van Steenberge N.V., Monk’s Cafe Flemish Sour Ale
JC- 5.5, CE-6, Avg.- 6    Notes: nice & smooth, not too sour

Duds:  (where to start?)
IPA (American), Empire Brewing Co, India Pale Ale
JC-1.5, CE-1, Avg- 1.5   Notes:  nausea inducing (similar spelling to Nassau may be reason why)

IPA (American), Fire Island Beer Co, Red Wagon IPA
JC- 1.5, CE-.5, Avg.-1    Notes:  gross except for the front (doesn’t save it). not falling off the wagon for this one

Pale Ale (American), Steadfast Beer Co, Sorghum Pale Ale (Gluten Free)
JC-.5, CE-.5, Avg-.5       Notes: Thin, bitter shit. DUD

Witbier, The Brewers Collective, Vorlauf’s Witbier
JC-1.5, CE-0, Avg- 1      Notes:  Mr. Clean garbage, asshole bartender throws tasting “glass”

Huh?
Pumpkin Ale, Rex Beverage Holdings, Horny Goat Hornycopia Pumpkin Ale
JC-5.5, CE-3.5, Avg-4.5   Notes: pumpkin & chalk (why serve this at a Spring beer festival? probably dumping stock)

 

Sours – Perfect Follow to a Pickleback

sourbeer_makingof

 

What is it about Jews and vinegar?  The pickles, Gold’s horseradish, the drinking of vinegar cleaning products…the list goes on.

Well there’s one thing to add to it now – sour beers.

They often taste like apple juice mixed with vinegar, so during the next tasting of a sour, apple vinegar will be on hand to compare.  Seeing not everyone is Jewish, not everyone will like it, but I (you can guess which one of us is writing this) loves it.

It started with the St. Louis Gueuze Fond Tradition from Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck, which tasted like sour patch kids melted down into a beer. My first reaction was like any other person trying a Warhead for the first time, but it grows on you.

However it was perfected here by Brouwerij Bockor with their Bellegems Bruin (categorized as a Flanders Oud Bruin).  It tastes like apple juice that was sitting on the shelf a few weeks too long. You may have just gagged, but goddamn is this smooth.

Sour and gueuze beers are the start of an appreciation of lambics (Dubbel, Tripel, Quadrupel) which most times punch you in face with their high alcohol content.  Gueuze are a blend of old and young lambics fermented twice and the magic behind this science opens up a world of flavor.

Unsurprisingly for this site, these beers are described as “medium bodied….and no hop bitterness” (Thanks wikipedia).

Hefeweizens have to make room in my heart and liver for a new favorite.  But who will get me to my first AA meeting?  Let the race begin!

 

Berliner Weisse (Sour Wheat), Gasthaus-Brauerei Braustelle, Freigeist Abraxxxas
JC- 4, CE- 7, Avg- 5.5.  notes- smoky then sour, CE- confirming sour beers are becoming contender for wheat as favorite

Flanders Oud Bruin, Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V., Monk’s Cafe Flemish Sour Ale
JC- 5.5, CE-6, Avg-6   notes- nice & smooth, not too sour

 

Jewish_warheads

Narragansett Lager – The Perfect Traveling Beer

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It’s a 16 ounce can so you’re getting more bang for you buck, plus no glass to worry about.  It tastes like a stock beer, definitely in the Budweiser territory, but it has a bit more flavor and no headache follows.  (JC- 5.5, CE- 6)

It’s also cheap if you find it on tap at a bar.

If you are taking a train, plane, or other public transit system and drinking alcohol is encouraged, consider a cold lager.

Paid for by the state of Rhode Island because we have little else going on for us.

Pugs_RI_driverslicense

East Ville Des Folies

trapeze_artist

Most beer festivals blend together in the memory – either as a spring or winter craft fest with the beers skewed by the season.  So for one to come around serving “obscure beers” in the style of 1920s New York City, and on top of that- whiskey tastings, the East Ville Des Folies seemed pretty promising.

There were four floors, the bottom two dedicated to alcohol, the top to beer and the crowds were here for the beer.  As for how rare they were, besides some usual suspects (looking at you Narragansett), most beers were from some distant island – Scotland (Williams Brothers Brewing Co), New Zealand (Moa), Hawaii (Kona), and who can forget Blue Point from the mysterious land of Long Island.

There was live entertainment – trapeze artists hanging from the ceiling and ragtime bands which served as a nice distraction to most people who pulled out their phone cameras and eased up the lines for the beer.

But as with most festivals, volunteers run the show so unless they are a great bullshit artist, you aren’t getting much information about the beer beyond what you read on the label.  But is this a bad thing?  Oh no, my friend.  Most volunteers run for the fire escape once the session ends, leaving any left over beer for the taking.  And take we shall.

When you pay $40 for a crowded three hour session, you are most likely not going to get to try everything.  So taking home anything you didn’t get to try only seems fair.  Even if it’s 9.25 gallons worth of beer.  Hey this is a party celebrating breaking the Prohibition, our hearts were in the right place.

As for the ratings, there were plenty of winners hitting the 5.5-6 point mark, but no absolute favorites.  However there were certainly some duds in the bunch.  Can we all agree shandy should not be considered beer?  Beer cocktails should be a mix of two beers.  Michelada can be an exception, but with those at least you’re using fresh ingredients (vs artificial flavoring) in addition to a light beer.

Highlights:
Williams Brothers Brewing Co- Fraoch Heather Ale, 5.5 (JC), 6 (CE) – sweet, very easy to drink
Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier, 6.5 across the board
Free Cheeseburger Mac and Cheese from S’mac at the end of the night – thanks guys!
Duds:
Boston Beer Co- Curious Traveler Shandy, 0 (JC), 1 (CE)  NOT BEER!
Moa Brewing Co- Moa Breakfast  1 (CE) Tastes like Dr. Brown’s cherry soda but not as good because lacks sugar. I wish it was sour to give it depth