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!

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.