Welcome to Cosmo's Beer Blog!

We’re a small group of friends and family scattered across the country who’ve all developed a thirst for craft and import beer. We decided that a blog would be a great venue for us to share our hobby. Here we will review beer, compare notes and challenge each other with "Beer Missions".

So welcome to our little world of discovering great tasting beer!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Coming Soon

Coming soon: our first group review!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Oskar Blues: Gubna

I have another top 3 beer!  This beer is amazing with a capital A!  It is strange that it took this long for me to enjoy an IPA, but when you taste this IPA you are brought into an amazing world of goodness whether you want to go or not.  

Brewer: Oskar Blues Brewery
Brew: Gubna
Style: Imperial IPA
Alcohol: 10%
Source: 12 oz can
Glass: St. Arnold's Tumbler
Temp: Pulled from freezer (trying to cool quicker)...40 deg?
Appearance: Light Amber
Aroma: citrus
Taste: The most balanced citrus flavor I've had in an IPA yet, so robust with other flavors, just can't name them, but it was absolutely amazing.
Drinkability: Very smooth, amazingly easy to drink and this is saying a lot for me with 10% alcohol, which is freakishly hidden. The beer was chilled a little too much so there was almost no head and the bubbles were very slow to rise.  Can't wait to try another one...pulled from the fridge this time.

This beer gets a 10 of 10!

"Broma theon"

Friday, December 10, 2010

Dark Horse

Brew Details and Conditions:
Brewer: Dark Horse Brewing Company
Brew: Plead The 5th Imperial Stout
Style: Russian Imperial Stout
Alcohol: 12%
Source: 12 oz bottle
Glass: New Belgium Goblet
Temp: 50 deg
Appearance: Thin chocolaty brown head, jet black ale.
Aroma: Molasses, chocolate, coffee, slight booziness
Taste: Creamy chocolate and coffee with no noticeable roasted malt.
Drinkability: Very smooth, very easy to drink and deceptively alcoholic. While the bubbles make a cool pattern atop the brew, I only notice slight carbonation..

I give this very drinkable stout 8.5 out of 10.

Eis Igian,

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Mission Two: A Festival Of Belgian Ales

Okay, the completion of this Beer Mission is coming quite a bit later than I had planned, but I have finally sat down to complete it. I thought a bit about the best way to put my thoughts to "paper" and have decided to do sort of a head-to-head comparison.

Trappistes Rochefort
Trappistes Rochefort
Trappistes Rochefort
St Bernardus
Belgian Strong Dark Ale
Belgian Strong Dark Ale
Belgian Quad
Belgian Quad
7.5% (Not noticeable)
9.2% (Hidden pretty well)
11.3% (Warm alcohol feel with each sip)
10.5% (Hidden very well)
11.2oz Bottle
11.2oz Bottle
11.2oz Bottle
25.4oz Bottle
Orval Goblet
Westmalle Goblet
Westmalle Goblet
Large Wine Glass
50 deg
50 deg
50 deg
50 deg
Cloudy light brown with a frothy tan head
Cloudy dark brown with a frothy tan head
Cloudy dark ruby red with a frothy tan head
Cloudy plum color with a gushing foamy white head.
Some caramel and a little bit of sour fruit
Strong estery yeast with big notes of plum
Sweetest aroma of the four with notes of cherry and grape
Clove, anise, estery yeast, dark fruit and light notes of apple
Dry, mildly sweet with some apple and a small spice finish
Rich and sweet with warm fruit tones and a smooth fruity finish
Strong sweet grape, w/some "breadiness" and a light bitter finish
Sweet, smooth with some hints of anise and a sweet finish
Watery with medium carbonation
Slightly thicker than water with light carbonation
Syrupy with almost no carbonation
Watery with medium carbonation
I could drink more than one bottle.
One whole bottle is about my limit.
I could drink half a bottle.
Very, very drinkable. I could (and did) drink an entire 750ml bottle.
Lacks the rich and hearty attributes that I associate with the style
In my opinion,
this is the 
Belgian Strong Dark
Rochefort 10 is very well thought of, but just doesn't suit my tastes and borders on too sweet for the style
I absolutely love the craftsmanship of this ale.

If you're new to these styles, let me make a note about drinkability. These are big, hearty ales that fill your belly and satisfy the taste buds. While technically they are all beer, they have about as much in common with a session beer as a Great Pyrenees does with a Chihuahua. These ales drink more like a glass of rich wine than a glass of Budweiser.

In closing, all four of these brews are good examples of fine Belgian ales and all four are well respected. While I can enjoy them all, St Bernardus 12 and Rochefort 8 are especially magnificent ales that leave little room for improvement. St Bernardus 12 was influential enough that I had to change my Sweet 16 and give it nearly top honors.

Mike, this was a great Mission, one that I throughly enjoyed!

Eis Igian,

Monday, November 15, 2010


I just posted a new video from Modern Marvels on beer. The original video got pulled off of YouTube, so I posted a link to it on the video page.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Gulden Draak

Brew Details and Conditions:
Brewer: Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.
Brew: Gulden Draak
Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale
Alcohol: 10.5%
Source: 11.02 oz bottle
Glass: New Belgium Goblet
Temp: 50
Appearance: Small tan head atop a a deep ruby brown ale.
Aroma: Sweet grape, plum and that awesome scent of estery Belgian yeast.
Taste: Sweet malt blended unbelievably well with grape and a light alcohol finish.
Drinkability: The mild carbonation and smooth body make this brew go down a little too easy.
Notes: This one was just as good at room temperature as it was cold.

I give this AMAZING brew a 9.5 out of 10.

Eis Igian,

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Coming Soon... Micro Reviews

When I first started posting reviews, I tried to write detailed accounts that highlighted as much of the experience as I could capture. More recently I have been trying to shorten my reviews a bit, mostly for the sake of saving time.

Even then, I still put a fair amount of thought into what I have to say and how I want to say it. Due to the cost in time I have found that I'm not typically writing reviews for beer that I wouldn't rate at least a 6 and even worse, I sometimes push interesting beer to the back of my fridge because I don't want to "waste" drinking it without reviewing it.

Some of the "alternative" review formats that Charles and Laura have been using got me to thinking that I'd like to try some shorter reviews. I am going to try a "Micro Review" style where I just hit the high points and give a quick summary. Or maybe even just the high points or just the summary.

I'll still write detailed reviews for the Beer Missions and I'm sure plenty of brews will inspire careful illustration, but I'm looking forward to trying my hand at a more expedient format.

Eis Igian,

Monday, September 20, 2010

Mission No. 2...success

Wow, I am really beginning to enjoy beer.  My picks for the challenge were all amazing and I kind of knew that going in. I chose the Westmalle Dubbel, Westmalle Tripel, and Allagash Four Ale to sample the differences in flavor between a dubbel, tripel and a quad.

The Dubbel is just the perfect loyal reliable contender that I knew it would it be as it amazes you both in the initial taste and after effect.   The first time I tried it I was tasting beers every other night by just drinking half of the bottle; I did not stop by just drinking half the bottle with the dubbel.  
The tripel doesn't settle as nicely as the dubbel, but its flavor is a home run.  It has a lot of carbonation, a little bit clearer appearance, and a little more of a kick.
And finally the Quad had the most amazing flavor out the three delivering a taste I had never had before, but now absolutely desire to have again.  With its warm 10% alcohol rating it manages to not overwhelm you while transferring a healthy dose of delicious amber successfully to its new resting place....my belly.  Grabbing the Allagash at $16 a bottle (priced at $20) I was a little nervous not knowing if it would live up to the price; I was pleasantly rewarded for my purchase.

If other quads are as rich in flavor and balanced in alcohol punch I think I might have a new favorite.  In short, the quad won the contest in fullness and flavor and desirability.  Since I didn't take the minute to write the review when I had tasted these amazing contenders I won't finish with the normal bullet point statistics.  All you have to know is that Allagash is truly an amazing beer along with the greatness that is Westmalle and is now on my sweet 16 hall of fame.

Success was indeed reached through this new mission as I found a new friend...Allagash.

Broma Theon


Sunday, September 19, 2010

PBR Gets the Blue Ribbon

Brewer/Brew: Pabst Brewing Company / Pabst Blue Ribbon
Style: American Adjunct Lager
Source: Straight out of the can and into an English half-pint

My opinion of this brew...
Well, I gave PBR the winning spot for the 1st Beer Mission! Granted, I tried only a handful of the many American Adjunct Lagers that are out there, but nonetheless, Pabst Blue Ribbon was my favorite. As I took my first sip, I tasted a little hint of lemon (just a smidgen). The flavor is neither sweet nor bitter and doesn't offend my taste buds at all. As the beer leaves my tongue, I taste a slight wheat aftertaste (something pleasant in my book). Mmmmm, it's just plain enjoyable and cost me less than $1 at the local liquor store. What more could I ask for??! Each mouthful leaves me wanting another one. Interestingly, the taste isn't really striking, but rather it's mild & has just enough flavor to be memorable. I truly like this beer and would certainly pay for another one. Congrats PBR and thanks for being less than a dollar!

My rating: 7 out of 10

Sunday, September 12, 2010

I Found My Mojo!

Brew Details and Conditions:
Brewer: Boulder Beer
Brew: Mojo India Pale Ale
Style: American IPA
Source: On tap @ Scotty's Brewhouse
Glass: Standard Pint Glass
Temp: Unknown

Appearance: My glass showed up with cloudy light golden brew adorned with a small white head.
Scent: Bringing this ale to my nose revealed floral and citrus aromas followed by light notes of bittering hops. Somewhere in the background, I think I smell hints of mango. This is a very nice smelling brew!
Taste: Mojo is a pretty complex tasting beer. The taste begins with an abundance of citrus flavors: I can taste mango, grapefruit and even a little peach. As the taste transitions into the aftertaste, there is a dry, crisp grapefruit finish and unless my tastes deceive me, a touch of wheat.
Drinkability: This is a very watery ale with virtually unnoticeable carbonation. Mojo is a very "sessionable" IPA.
Notes: I didn't let my glass quite reach room temperature, but I did detect that warmth brought out a little booziness in the taste which was surprising as Mojo only tips the scales at 6.8%. Overall, I really enjoyed this brew. It is tasty, light and has a great aroma.

I give this brew an 8 out of 10.

Eis Igian,

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Dark vs Dark

This will not be extensive as I'm crazy busy tonight, but I thought I'd share non-the-less. I thought I would try Beck's Dark vs Shiner Bohemian Black Lager. Hands down the Shiner won the contest. I would not have guessed the local Shiner, TX brewery would outperform the German giant Becks, but that's probably because they are different beers. Shiner Black Lager is a Schwarzbier and the Beck's is a Munich Dunkel Lager. Next time I'll try the beers in their categories. I admit that I was just shooting for a dark vs dark and am glad I found the Shiner as I was very impressed. Without a formal review I would rate it an 8.

Here is a link to different Dunkels, sounds funny making that word plural.

Here is a link to different Schwarzbier beers.

broma theon,


A Belgian of a different sorts

While many of the Belgians that I've enjoyed are time honored styles, the Belgian IPA is a relative newcomer. As the name indicates, this is a Belgian take on the IPA.

Brew Details and Conditions:
Brewer: Picobrouwerij Alvinne / Den Bierzolder
Brew: Alvinne Extra Restyled
Style: Belgian IPA
Source: 11.2 oz Bottle
Glass: Large Wine Glass
Temp: 45 deg.

Appearance: The hazy golden colored ale poured with a very small head that didn't last long.
Scent: The scent of this one is an odd combination of aromas. I pick up on estery notes, followed by light yeast and finally slightly citrus hops. It smells like a Belgian Pale Ale... and a little like an IPA.
Taste: The initial taste is lightly citrus and little bit sour, once again quite like a Belgian Pale Ale. There is a small bitter aftertaste that must be the hops desperately trying to announce themselves.
Drinkability: The body of this brew is watery and lightly carbonated. A medium amount of taste + a medium alcohol content + a light body = a very drinkable ale.
Notes: This is only my second experience with a Belgian IPA, so I am not yet well versed with the style. While this brew is much more Belgian Pale Ale than IPA, I believe that is par for the style. Mostly this beer makes me think of a Belgian Pale Ale, only a little bit more sour and bitter. Overall, it's an enjoyable brew and something interesting enough to buy.

I give this brew a 6 out of 10.

Eis Igian,

Monday, September 6, 2010

Mission #2: Tackling the Tandem Trappist Task...

Since everyone seems to be in the mood to drink trappist brews lately, I figured it was time to deploy the beer brigade on a mission that I have been kicking around for awhile. Originally, I had planned to embark on this mission alone, but then I came to my senses and realized the extreme personal danger of being overwhelmed by those crafty trappists and their high gravity beers. Yes, troops... we are in this together, and you will want backup on this mission.

The Mission
This mission is basically an opportunity to further develop a palate while sampling some of the finest trappist beverages that are widely available. Brasserie de Rochefort makes the Trappistes Rochefort 6 (Belgian Strong Dark Ale), the Trappistes Rochefort 8 (another Belgian Strong Dark Ale), and the Trappistes Rochefort 10 (Quadrupel). The mission is simply to try these three beers and pick out the differences between them. The sweet malt backbone, apparent use of spices instead of hops, the dark fruit esters, and the differing alcohol content of each of these beers are all important characteristics that may help to distinguish differences and further develop your palate.

Mission Parameters
1) I do not think it is necessary to review each of these beers for this mission, but you can if you wish. A summary post of your adventures with the Rocheforts should give everyone a good idea of what these beers are all about.
2) Try to address the following questions during this beer mission: Did you like these beers? What did they taste like? What are the differences between them?
Optional parameter - If you wish, you can also try the St. Bernardus Abt 12 (Quadrupel) by the Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV and compare it to the Rochefort 10. How are these two beers different and which one (if you have a preference) did you prefer?

This beer mission is meant to be enjoyable without having to think too much. In my opinion, these are all great beers that will enhance your life with their unique characters. Have fun with this mission and enjoy the beer!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Orval Trappist Ale

With the words 'trappist' and 'Belgium' on the bottle I was sold immediately.  The initial taste is not the splendor that Westmalle is, but the more you drink it the better the aftertaste intermingles with the taste buds and provides a pleasant surprise.

Brew Details: Orval brewed byBrasserie D' Orval, Belgium
Serving Conditions: Served directly from the uncalibrated fridge into my 'Duvel' tulip glass.
Appearance: A very foggy amber, reminiscent of a hefeweizen.
Scent: Smells amazing, reminds me of other trappist ales.
Taste: Smooth, but a touch more bitter than I expected.
Mouthfeel: Lots of carbonation with a great warm aftertaste.
Drinkability: I could have another one, but I wouldn't choose it purposely.

It gets a 7.5, because the more you drink it, the better it tastes due to the amazing aftertaste.  The Belgium's generally do not disappoint and this is a great beer, just not in comparison to the Westmalle Trappist Ale.


Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Maudite by Unibroue

Yet another bottle of beer with an appearance of the nether regions of hell inviting you to take a drink.  This one however scored much higher with me than the last 'bastard'.  The writing on the beer really does define the taste quite well:

"La Maudite (damned), referemented on yeast base in the bottle, goes down uncommonly smooth.  One taste of this excellent malt beverage will instill in you the highest respect and appreciation for its warm mellowing effect."

I highly agree, see the comments I wrote before I read the label below:

  • Brew Details: Maudite brewed by Unibroue
  • Serving Conditions: Served directly from the uncalibrated fridge into my 'Duvel' tulip glass.
  • Appearance: A foggy amber
  • Scent: yeast, very similar to a good hefeweizen (Franziskaner being my favorite so far)
  • Taste: Smooth and rich with a deep warming flavor well balanced with the alcohol content (not overpowering).
  • Mouthfeel: Lots of carbonation with a subtle and inviting aftertaste.
  • Drinkability: Definitely ready for another one, just not tonight.  This could be the beer for the evening and I would not be disappointed.
This is my highest tested ranking so far, I'm giving this one a 9.  I guess it just reminds me of my favorite hefeweizen too much, but with more boldness.  So far both drinks I have had by Unibroue are amazing; the other drink being La Fin du Monde.  Unibroue has now made my list of favorite breweries, I will be looking for more of their beverages very soon.

Next stop, Orval Trappist Ale...

broma theon
"food of the gods"


Monday, August 30, 2010

A Belgian Beauty... don't tell my wife!

My wife loves the Belgian ales, so I hope she's not too disappointed that I opened this one without her...

Brew Details and Conditions:
Brewer: Trappist Achel
Brew: 8° Brune
Style: Belgian Dubbel
Source: 11.2 oz Bottle
Glass: Large Wine Glass
Temp: 50 deg.

Appearance: True to form, the Trappist ale poured with an enormous head that lingered for an eternity. The color is a deep, murky amber.
Scent: Right off the bat, I notice that estery Belgian yeast. The aroma is warm and inviting with notes of plum and grape. In many ways it is more reminiscent of a glass of wine than a glass of beer.
Taste: I have waited very impatiently for the head to dissipate, but its still lingering. I guess I'm just going to have to dive in. The taste is very much like the scent: smooth, sweet and fruity. I can taste the grape quite well and note some more wine-like characteristics. In my experience that is quite common with many of the Trappist ales. There is a barely noticeable slightly bitter aftertaste that lasts for only a moment.
Drinkability: The mouthfeel is smooth and watery with small, punishing bubbles of carbonation. This ale is very, very drinkable which is good and bad. The satisfaction to the senses is good, but the 8% alcohol and the price tag could prove quite bad.
Notes: Time was no challenge to the head of this beer. Even when my glass was almost empty, a 1/4-inch head boldly persisted. The lacing was almost ridiculous as it lined almost half my glass. Warmth brought little change in the flavor. This beer tasted just as good at room temperature as it did at 50 degrees.

This is my favorite Dubbel so far. Awesome taste, inviting aroma, beautifully hidden alcohol, what more could I ask for?

For now, I give Achel 8° Brune a 9 out of 10. This may change as I try other Dubbels. I really wonder if there is a better example of the style, for my tastes anyway.

Eis Igian,

Friday, August 27, 2010

Arrogant Bastard Ale

After initially thinking I was picking up 'Dirty Bastard', I instead
found another bastard to take home.
Their bottle is quite hilarious as they seem to poke a little fun at
breweries spending millions of dollars in advertising convincing
everyone that they are small breweries. Here is an excerpt from the
bottom of the bottle:

"Questions or comments? If you don't like this beer, keep it to
yourself ---- we don't want to hear from any sniveling
yellow-beer-drinkin' wimps, 'cause this beer wasn't made for you."

  • Brew Details: Arrogant Bastard Ale by the Stone Brewing Co. in Escondido, San Diego County, CA
  • Serving Conditions: Served directly from Specs into my 'Duvel' tulip glass once I got home.
  • Appearance: Amber, almost ruby
  • Scent: Very strong citrus, grape fruit
  • Taste: Bitter, literally like a grape fruit. I love grape fruit so I do enjoy this beer.
  • Mouthfeel: bah..still don't like this weird term. Perfect consistency with a good balance of carbonation.
  • Drinkability: I am ready for a different beer once finish a glass, it doesn't hold my palet very well as it has a strong bitter aftertaste.

I personally give it a 6.5 out of 10, but that doesn't mean this is a
bad beer, it just doesn't fit my taste right now. If I was a huge IPA
fan I would probably enjoy this more as it tastes similar in citris to
some IPAs I've had. It really is an amazing beer, just not my current
flavor of choice.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Mission One, Round Three: Battle of the Old Timers

Believe it or not, I had never tasted Pabst Blue Ribbon prior to this review. I have read the lore of Pabst winning a blue ribbon in 1893 but I still had my doubts. In the back of my mind I was expecting PBR to be watery, sour and unsatisfying. I was right on only one account.

Brew Details and Conditions:
Brewer: Pabst Brewing Company
Brew: Pabst Blue Ribbon
Style: American Adjunct Lager
Source: 12oz Can
Glass: English half pint
Temp: Approximately 40 deg.

Appearance: The clear yellow brew poured with a small frothy white head that dissolved quickly. So far, nothing deviated from what I had imagined.
Scent: This was my first surprise. The aroma had slight citrus notes that were mostly comprised of orange. The scent shockingly reminds me of the estery odor of a Belgian Pale Ale.
Taste: The taste begins with a very watery orange flavor that transitions nicely into a light grain taste and finishes with an almost unnoticeable bitter finish. This is not a big beer by any stretch of the imagination, yet it is a nice tasting beer.
Drinkability: The mouthfeel of this lightly carbonated brew is very watery in texture. I don't know if there's enough taste to keep my interest long term, but the light body and low alcohol content make PBR a true session beer.
Notes: Warmth brought out a little more orange scent and taste, but it didn't seem to increase the light bitter finish. Surprisingly, warmth didn't bring out much of that sour grain taste that I associate with adjuncts.

PBR reminds me of some distant, diluted cousin of a Belgian Pale Ale. I have to say that this is easily my favorite adjunct lager. I might have to pick up a six pack to enjoy while mowing the yard and to keep around for my friends whose senses are offended by stronger beers.

I give Pabst Blue Ribbon a 6 out of 10.

Mission Results: While there are plenty of other American Lagers out there, I will end my incursion into Beer Mission Number One right here. In keeping with the mission parameters, I'll summarize my experience. Personally, I liked the idea better than the actual mission. I gravitate towards ales and big beers so I found it difficult to actually get excited about sampling American Lagers.

Obviously we each like different things, so Bud's claim of superiority is just good marketing on par with declaring a film "the best movie of the summer". Still, Budweiser has enjoyed enormous success over the years and their countless fans have enjoyed their brews. I have no interest in insulting the taste or judgment of Bud fans, but for me there just isn't enough flavor to entice me. Thankfully, the brew masters from Europe and the inventive American craft brewers will make sure that I have plenty of delicious brews to choose from. And if I happen to be in some remote part of America where flavorful beer is difficult to come by, it's comforting to know that a glass of PBR can carry me over until I get back.

Eis Igian,

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Utter Destruction Through Udder Delight

Historically, I have not been a big fan of IPA's. Mike has been telling me for some time that as I try more beer I would eventually come to crave IPA's. To say I was skeptical would be an understatement. I flat did not believe it. In recent months, Mike's prophecy has come to fruition. Last year, when Mike praised this rendition of the Double IPA, I wasn't very interested. This year my interest was peaked.

Brew Details: I am reviewing a glass of Three Floyds Apocalypse Cow. This is one of their takes on the Double IPA.

Serving Conditions: Mike poured about a quarter of the bomber into a snifter for me. This was straight from the fridge, so I'm guessing it to be at about 45 degrees.

Appearance: The brew poured with a very slight head that did not endure long. The color was a cloudy dull yellow.

Scent: Every time I have a Three Floyds brew, I can barely wait to bring the beer to my nose and enjoy the aroma. The fragrance of this brew was full of floral, pine and citrus notes. When I took my second whiff, I noticed orange peel and sweet grapefruit. Three Floyds has mastered the art of making their brews smell fresh and inviting and Apocalypse Cow is no exception.

Taste: The initial taste of this complex brew is an explosion of citrus flavors that scream fresh, quality hops. As the ale flows to the middle of my tongue I taste what almost seems to be sweet grapefruit and candied papaya. Finally, there is a mildly bitter finish.

The hops have been subdued and embellished by the sweet lactose sugar and the 10% alcohol content is hidden unbelievably well. Even when trying to notice it, I just can't find alcohol in either the scent or the taste.

Mouthfeel: The mouthfeel is smooth, soft and a bit syrupy with light carbonation.

Drinkability: This is an easy drinker. It's so smooth that it just can't help but go down easy. I think that the syrupy texture would limit the quantity that I could drink, but I will say that it was difficult to put my glass down. While I've had IPA'a that are more drinkable, I've had none that were more enjoyable.

Notes: Warming this beer to room temperature finally brought out some booziness in the scent and taste. I had wondered where it had been hiding. The lactose sugar became more apparent as I also noticed more of the candied papya taste.

Three Floyds pride themselves on making flavorful, quality and unusual brews. Apocalypse Cow embodies all three of these traits.

So Mike was right: I now seek out and enjoy IPA's. My journey into India Pale Ale's developed slowly but Three Floyd's Apocalypse Cow completed the utter destruction of my previous presupposition that I would never be able to enjoy an IPA. Now, as I survey the vast post-Apocalyptic scenery, I find myself craving the freshness that only an IPA can deliver. Nothing will ever be the same.

I give Apocalypse Cow a 9.5 out of 10.

Eis Igian,

Friday, July 30, 2010

Bourbon Bastard

I ended my last review with mention of Founders Backwoods Bastard. Since I enjoyed Dirty Bastard so much, I decided that I would go ahead and open my bottle of Backwoods Bastard sooner than later. Here I am the one who lays out the Lager challenge and yet I'm stuck on Scotch Ales.

Brew Details: This is a bottle of Founders Backwoods Bastard, which is a Scotch Ale that has been aged in Oak Bourbon Barrels. This bottle was released in November of 2009, so its about 8 months old.

Serving Conditions: I poured the entire contents of the bottle into a standard pint glass. This one was served at 50 degrees.

Appearance: Identical to the Dirty Bastard, the brew is a deep, dark ruby red. It poured with a small head that relaxed back to a tan ring around the inside of my glass. While there are similarities between the two Bastards, the appearance is the only thing they share completely.

Scent: I pick the aroma of sweet caramel malt and there is a subtle but lingering scent of whiskey. It is reminiscent of a glass of Jameson's! The scent of booze hangs around the glass like an afterthought. Its there, but not too distracting.

Taste: Wow. The super smooth whiskey flavor tamed by mildly sweet caramel malt makes this one that could get me in trouble. The malt and whiskey flavors blend extremely well creating a unique and flavorful Scotch Ale. Where Dirty Bastard had a slight bitter finish, Backwoods Bastard has none.

Mouthfeel: The body of this brew is just a little syrupy and has a medium amount of carbonation.

Drinkability: This is even less a session beer than Dirty Bastard. While I could drink more, I think that I would have to limit myself to one bottle. It would be very easy to let the high alcohol content erase your memory of this fantastic tasting brew. Maybe the upside-down label on my bottle is there to serve as a warning.

Notes: I found that warming the brew caused a few effects: 1) it brought out a sweeter aroma 2) the whiskey taste really came to the front and 3) the 10.2% alcohol content became much more apparent as it warmed my stomach.

Lately, it seems like every brewer is trying their hand at aging beer in whiskey barrels. Founder's has made an art out of matching brews with the right style and flavor of whiskey. Kentucky Breakfast Stout and Backwoods Bastard are easily my two favorite barrel aged brews to date.

This Scotch Ale emulates some of my favorite aspects of a smoky whiskey without the harshness that I associate with distilled alcohol. Its sort of like a creamy glass of scotch. J, this one is right up your alley. I will make sure that a bottle makes it's way to NYC this Fall!

I give Backwoods Bastard a 9 out of 10.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

A Lovely Bastard

After a couple of lager reviews, its time to head back to the wonderful world of ales!

Brew Details: Tonight I popped a bottle of Founders Dirty Bastard, which is their Scotch Ale.

Serving Conditions: This bottle was straight from my beer fridge which kept it at a moderate 50 degrees. I drank this from a standard pint glass.

Appearance: The color is a deep, dark ruby red that almost appears brown. The head was a little dark and slightly larger than medium.

Scent: This smells of sweet, sweet malt with what seems to be a little molasses way in the background. Hops? What hops? And for that matter, where is the scent of booze? For a drink that runs at 8.5% alcohol, I can't believe how little alcohol I can smell.

Taste: The taste is sweet and very smooth. I taste a little caramel at the beginning, with sweet malt throughout. Finally at the end there is some roasted malt with a tiny bit of bitterness. I can't tell if that's the hops finally showing up or just the roasted malt telling the hops that they aren't welcome here.

Mouthfeel: This Scotch Ale is a little syrupy and has a medium amount of carbonation.

Drinkability: This certainly isn't a session beer, but I could easily go through two... or maybe even three of these in a sitting. The alcohol content is definitely the limiting factor.

Notes: As this brew warmed, the flavor and finish seemed about the same, but the "booziness" really came to the front. This is one of my favorite Scotch Ales. While it is on the heavier and thicker side, its not nearly as heavy and syrupy as Belhaven's Wee Heavy making it a very nice example of a Scotch Ale and one that I highly recommend.

I give it a 8.5 out of 10 as it is very worthy of keeping on hand.

I think its time to break out my bottle of Backwoods Bastard and see what this tastes like after its been aged in oak barrels.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

And the winner of Round Two is...

Brew Details: This is a bottle of Sword Swallower from Shmaltz Brewing Company's Coney Island Craft Lager series. This is my first experience with a beer from this brewer.

Serving Conditions: I chilled the bottle to a cool 44 degrees and poured it into a standard pint glass.

Appearance: The color is a fairly clear amber. That surprised me as I'm used to lagers being some variation of yellow. The brew poured with a medium head that subsided to about a quarter of an inch, where it lingered for quite some time.

Scent: I can smell some light malt and the presence of hops is obvious. The hop aroma is actually pretty complex with strong notes of citrus and just a little floral.

Taste: The initial taste is very smooth and somewhat complex. As with the aroma, I taste a little bit of malt and a lot of hops. The hop taste is citrus and bitter, with no floral hops noted. The finish nears my threshold for bitterness, but the bitterness doesn't last long.

Mouthfeel: This brew has a medium amount of carbonation and is light bodied, being a little thicker than water.

Drinkability: When this brew was at its coldest, I found myself drinking it quickly, but as it warmed I was less and less drawn to it.

Notes: With warmth came a stronger malt scent and taste, but the bitter finish remained constant. This is a very interesting brew and definitely worth trying. I have a feeling that this beer would be a big winner for IPA lovers. Mike, I regret not opening this one with you. For my own taste, I would have liked a little less hops with maybe a tad more malt.

While it pains me to give this interesting brew such a low rating, I have to be honest and give it a 4 out of 10. I would definitely be willing to give it another try, but I probably wouldn't be willing to spring for the bottle.

It looks like Budweiser is hanging on to its crown... for now anyway. Shmaltz Brewing Company has my attention, so I'll be seeking out a less hoppy lager from their Coney Island series. After that? Maybe it'll be time to try my first PBR...

A Little Intro...

Drinking beer is a newer thing for me. Granted, I've tasted beer many times over the years, but I never really craved it, nor imagined myself drinking it regularly. However, recently, my fellow blogger and big brother, Mike, introduced me to the larger world of beer that's out there. I grew up having drinks such as PBR, which I actually enjoyed sipping on from time to time, but now I realize how many choices there are out there. At this point, my main love is Belgian beer; those Belgians know what they're doing! One of my favorite Belgian beverages is the Lambic. Ahhh, they are so sweet, bubbly, fruity, tart, and just plain delicious. I would happily drink one now if it were in front of me. Anyway... some of my other favorite brews include: Westmalle Dubbel, Trappiste Rochefort 8, Franziskaner Hefe-Weiss, and last but not least Midas Touch. In all fairness to the IPAs out there, I haven't quite developed a taste for them, so any review is purely my opinion of the taste and doesn't necessarily reflect the quality of the brew itself. But, who knows, that could change :)

For me, hands down, the best thing about this hobby (of drinking and reviewing beer) is trying a new brew with friends and family. It's the social aspect that I like most. I love watching everyone's reaction to something new. Although, I'm usually the one cringing and making a crazy face as I try something really stout or hoppy. Even so, I look forward to trying more and more new things and reading the opinions of my fellow bloggers. I have lots to learn about beer, but I'm on my way. So, let's drink up and write up!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Round One

Okay, I’m going to kick us off with the first Budweiser review. To anyone who wonders why a group of people who prefer craft and import brews would review Budweiser, please check out Mission #1: The King Of Beer Missions.

Brew Details: Budweiser brewed by Anheuser-Busch.

Serving Conditions: To give Budweiser its best chance of shining in this Beer Mission, I decided to get it on tap at BW3’s. This would ensure that it would be as fresh as possible. It was served in a pint glass and I'm guessing, but the temperature seems to be around 45 degrees.

Appearance: The color is a very clear yellow. It arrived with a slight head that was "gone in 60 seconds".

Scent: The scent was like a time machine. When I opened my eyes after breathing in its aroma, I felt strange not to be surrounded by goofy teenagers and gaudy 1980’s rock. I was almost surprised to find myself sitting in a restaurant with my wife.

The strongest scent I could make out was that of sour grain. I couldn't detect any odor of hops or malt.

Taste: The initial taste is just a little bit sour. It tasted like a dry and slightly sour Sprite. The finish had almost no bitterness and no sign of hops, but I did taste a bit of wheat. If I’m being honest, I have to admit that I was a bit shocked that there was nothing strong about the taste at all.

Could this really be the beer of my youth that sent me in search of light beer?

Mouthfeel: The mouthfeel is watery and light with medium carbonation.

Drinkability: One of the things that Budweiser is known for is its drinkability and I have to say that it really is an easy drinking beer.

Notes: I have to admit that my biggest surprise was that I didn't hate it. But, I also didn’t love it. While I enjoyed the nostalgia of drinking a brew that I probably hadn’t had in 20 years, I was left unsatisfied. It was neither bitter nor sweet and like Laura said, it was forgettable. Something inside of me can’t help but call Budweiser the Beer of Laodicea ☺

With our current rating system I can give Budweiser an honest 4.5 out of 10 with this one qualification: I might pay to drink it again, but I wouldn’t pay much. But to be fair, it doesn’t cost much.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

La Trappe Isid'or

I don't have time this evening to write an entire article on this wonderful beer, but I have to share my short experience.  I finally tried La Trappe by our friends in Belgium and wow, I am blown away again.  I guess I just love trappist ales because I fell love with the Westmalle Trappist Ale (Dubbel) immediately too.  The smell is amazing, the taste is amazing and the experience is one to behold, thank you my wonderful monks.


Monday, June 28, 2010

Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout

Now I recognize the hypocrisy in reviewing an oatmeal stout when I just spoke of the negatives of drinking stouts during the summer in my very last post. Ah well, these things happen.

This will be the longest-time-coming review that I do. Brian has talked about this beer for probably about 10 years and I have only now procured a bottle. Thanks Mike!!

Brew Details: What we have here is a bottle of Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout, brewed by Anderson Valley Brewing Company of Boonville, California

Serving Conditions: I just pulled this one out of the fridge, so its about 45 degrees. I’m drinking this out of a standard pint glass.

Appearance: The color is deep and dark with no light penetrating it. It poured with a very slight head that subsided pretty quickly.

Scent: The aroma is incredibly sweet, it honestly makes me think of smelling a glass of chocolate milk. That may be a stretch, but not much of one.

Taste: The initial taste is sweet, but not overly so. It definitely has a sweeter smell than taste. This beer has the smooth taste that you’d expect out of an oatmeal stout, but with its balanced blend of malt, chocolate and hops, you end up with a very unique tasting oatmeal stout. I think that what really sets this beer apart is how the brewer cleverly used the hops to balance the sweetness without leaving any hop aftertaste. In fact, the aftertaste is very slightly bitter with no sign of hops.

Mouthfeel: The mouthfeel is watery and light with a surprising amount of carbonation.

Drinkability: I could drink multiple glasses of this brew without difficulty. In fact, I think that Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout presents the opposite problem as this is definitely the easiest drinking oatmeal stout that I've ever had. Keeping much stock of this beer on hand could prove problematic as I'm sure I'd have a difficult time staying out of it.

Notes: I let a portion of this beer reach near room temperature as I sipped on my glass. As the brew warmed, the sweetness grew and the slight bitter finish waned. This is one to serve at about 50 degrees.

I like this beer a lot and I will seek it out. The next time I am in Chicago I will be returning with a small supply. I have only one complaint about this beer: Brian, you should have gotten me some of this years ago!

I can't call this a quintessential oatmeat stout as it really is something unique. At the same time this is one of the most enjoyable, well balanced beers I've ever had.

I give this a 9.5 out of 10.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Banana Bread Beer

I really thought this was going to be a very bad idea...banana...bread...beer.  What other horrible mixes could they come up with?!  Well, I finally tried it and wow!  It was not what I thought it was going to be.  Definitely read Dave's post on the He Man Beer Lovers blog for more information about Banana Bread Beer; all in all another great review.  Here is my review using our very own Cosmo Beer blog review :

  • Brew Details: Banana Bread Beer, Wells and Youngs Brewing Co. (since 1875), Product of England, 5.2%
  • Bottle Inspiration:  "Long ago, ale was known as liquid brea.  We've used our long history of creating the finest malt blends and added Fairtrade bananas to awaken the senses with a seriously fruity, rich, yet surprising, versatile banana bread beer.  The inspired brew made with our own natural mineral water and Fairtrade bananas.  Tempting Banoffee aromas and flavours are balanced by the silky richness of a masterful malt blend and the peppery spice of the freshest ripest hops."
  • Serving Conditions: Tried from the bottle in the picture above and from the bottle.  The bottle had a better taste for the beer than the 'skinny' glass, because the bottle is better designed to drink this beer.  Temperature was probably 45 to 50 degree (from the fridge).
  • Appearance: Amber clear transparency, medium head with medium retention providing a satisfying luster.
  • Scent: Sweet and a distinct banana effervescent.
  • Taste - Initial:  Banana dominant, pleasantly balanced malt and subtle pilsner flavors.
  • Taste - After: Slightly bitter with a banana aftertaste
  • Mouthfeel: Light with medium balanced carbonation.
  • Drinkability:  I could definitely drink more than 1, a very pleasant surprise.
  • Additional comments/questions:  None

Definitely give it a try, you will be pleasantly surprised.


Sunday, June 20, 2010

Mission #1: The King Of Beer Missions

VS Who Will Take The Challenge?

I've been thinking for a while about what our first beer mission should be. My first impulse was to start with a mission based around some variation of stout. But alas as we find ourselves baking in the late June weather, I have to acquiesce that this is not the ideal time to sit and consume those heavy drinking, sweet sipping brews.

So instead, I have come up with a more summer suitable mission: The King Of Beer Missions. Now before you cringe at the mere allusion to Budweiser, please read on.

For many of us Budweiser was one of the first, if not the first, beers we ever had so maybe this isn't a bad place to start. Let's face it, Budweiser is incredibly popular yet it takes a beating on almost any beer tasting website, garnering a mere D+ on Beeradvocate and an overall score of 0 on Ratebeer. Have we fans of craft and import brews been too hard on one of America's oldest beers? Could so many Budweiser fans be wrong?

The Mission
So here is my challenge: over the next month or two let's pit Budweiser against other American made lagers. We'll each review a glass of Budweiser and then we'll sample and rate at least two other American made lagers. Obviously it would be best to review as many brews as possible so if you have the time and money, have at it.

Now technically Budweiser is an adjunct lager, but as Budweiser calls their brew "The Great American Lager", I feel that they open the door for us to compare them to any other American made lager. Let's select our comparison brews from Beeradvocate's American Lager category. Sorry gang, this will rule out Sam Adam's Boston Lager as it is really a Euro Pale Lager.

The goal here isn't to find the best adjunct or the best American lager but rather to give Budweiser a chance to defend its claims as "The Great American Lager".

Mission Parameters
1) Let's make sure to only review from a glass, so no drinking from the bottle.
2) Let's keep this to Budweiser, so skip Bud Light, Dry, Ice and any other variation.
3) Try to give Budweiser a "fair shake". Review it like this is the first time you've had it.
4) When you do your last review for this mission:
a. You don't need to declare a winner, but give a brief description about how
you thought Budweiser stacked up against the other lagers you sampled.
b. Give your opinion of this mission. Did you enjoy it or did you just suffer

Personally, I think this will be interesting as I haven't really drank lager beers on a regular basis in more than a decade.

So how about it, is Budweiser The Great American Lager? Or did this mission just confirm your reasons for moving on from the beer of our youth?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Bud Light Commercial

How about a quick advertisement for Bud Light. No, no don't leave, it has Conan O' Brien in it so its worth it!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

It begins...

I used to hate beer. Growing up I would try the typical 'light' beer in the usual high school and college functions and was left disappointed. I just didn't understand why everyone liked it so much. Was it truly just 'an acquired taste' as so many told me? Yes and no. Seems like a dumb answer, but I'll explain.

To me light beer is an acquired taste as it took quite a long time for me to actually enjoy one, but soon I discovered dark beer. All of a sudden the world of beerdom didn't seem so unexplainable, it was beginning to have a new appeal. Dark beer was not an acquired taste to me, I liked it immediately. So after this discovery I decided it was time to learn more.

I have stepped out of the casual Guiness dark beer corner and am venturing off to try new flavors. My palate was small with only Guiness Extra Stout, Samuel Adams: Boston Lager, and Michelob's AmberBoch (the only Michelob beer on my list) being the beers I would look for at an establishment. It is time to discover the rest of beerdom; wheat beers, rice beers, Lambics, Lagers, Stouts, Ambers, and much, much more.

Here is a list of a few of my new favorite beers so far in this short venture. This list will soon be molded into a much more usable list, but this is all you will get for now:

  1. Belhaven: Scottish Stout
  2. Franziskaner hefe-weisse
  3. Maredsous Dubbel
  4. Samuel Smith's Imperial Stout

Continue to check back and see how the list grows (with an official ranking system) with the contributors of this website as the adventure begins. Feel free to leave comments about your favorite beers so far!


Getting started

I set up this blog to address a serious problem: I have developed a need to share beer tasting experiences with friends and family. Since my friends and family are scattered across the Country I decided that we needed a place where we could go and have a beer club of sorts, so here we go!

A little history:
When I was a kid, I drank to... well, I suppose there's no good way of saying it. Let's just say that I drank for the wrong reasons so I quit drinking all together for a couple years. When I got to my early 20's, I decided to start experimenting with different kinds of beer. The problem was that I couldn't predict whether or not I was going to like a beer, so I got frustrated and decided that Guinness would be my "go to" beer. I suppose that if one is going to have a single beer that they drink, Guinness isn't a bad choice. I had others, but many seemed like a glass of bitter Sprite, which just didn't satisfy. Oh, there were some Irish Reds and and a few Honey Browns along the way, but Guinness was by far my favorite.

Fast-forward about a decade and you'll find that my taste in beer has been utterly ruined. I "blame" (or thank, depending on my mood) my brother-in-law for this. He patiently opened my eyes to a world of craft beer, Belgian Ales and Russian Imperial Stouts that would forever change what I thought beer could be.

While a glass of Guinness Draught seldom disappoints, I have found a whole new world of beer that I never could have imagined. Some of this is because of the explosion of craft breweries all across the Country over the past 20 years. They experiment with and create amazing renditions of time-honored beer styles.

The beer that I drink is expensive, at least when you compare it to the myriad of domestic pilsners. But as one of my favorite people (and someone who I hope will blog here) would put it: "I'd rather drive a couple of Mercedes than a whole bunch of Yugos." I see it this way: most wouldn't think much of spending $10 on a bottle of wine. Many of the brews that I like are very comparable in cost to a bottle of decent wine. But what I like about beer is that for this $10, I can be drinking a world-class brew that has an incredibly complex taste and scent.

Now, as I sit here with a glass of Unibroue La Fun Du Monde, I have to accept that there's no going back. The American craft brewers got my attention and the Belgians made sure I could never go back.