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!

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.