Beers of New Year’s Eve…

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It’s New Year’s Eve! Woohoo! Let’s party! Well, something like that…

For me NYE is all about tradition.  Every year for the past several I, along with my wife Kristin and my sister-in-law Kate, have enjoyed watching Three Sheets episodes (Three Sheets Facebook Page), drinking various beers, and eating cheese and bread and whatever else we decide to eat.  The tradition continues…

So what you see is the collection of crafts that I will be enjoying some of, but not all.  I like to let the night develop and see what my mood tells me.  I like to start with something lighter, so the shandy will be first.  And I’ll be ending with either the Great Lakes stout or one of the Dogfish Head crafts.  But in between is up for grabs.

I’ll also be adding some Chug into the mix this year as well.  Make sure you watch the full one hour episodes of Chug, not the stripped down version they air on the National Geographic channel.  If you haven’t had a chance to check out any of Zane Lamprey’s stuff, please make an effort to do just that.  He is hilarious and probably has one of the best jobs on earth. (Zane Lamprey’s Facebook Page)

So here’s my suggestions for NYE: First, be safe.  Second, drink craft beer.  Avoid the typical champagne or lite beer parade.  I guess you could indulge in liquor based drinks if you prefer.   Or even wine.  But I’d shake my head disappointedly.  Third, make it an event you’ll remember.  Don’t just go to some party and get wasted and end up with your pants on your head the next morning when you wake up on the bathroom floor because you peed everywhere except where you were supposed to and forgot your name so they had to put you in there and lock the door.  That doesn’t sound like any fun.  (Zane might think differently!)  Maybe I’m just getting old in my old age.   You should remember what happened and want to do it again next year and every year after that.  Tradition!

So what I’m saying is, have fun and make it a night to remember.  Start a tradition if you don’t have one, or continue your traditions and make them better.  And drink craft beer!  Happy New Year!  Cheers! – Ed

Beer 33 of winter – porter

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Brewer: Magic Hat Craft: Starlit ABV: 5.8%
I have a pretty straight-forward beer for you today. I wanted to have a beer this afternoon that was not too powerful, easy to drink, but also had some flavor to it. This craft fits the bill.
Magic Hat has made a star anise porter that tastes like it sounds. Star anise is your typical licorice flavor. And this porter is full of it. It is a smooth, dark, roasty, licorice filled craft beer. Nothing much more to it than that.
And that’s all I wanted. So thanks Magic Hat. Enjoy.

Beer 32 of winter – an autumn ale?

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Brewer: The Bruery Craft: Autumn Maple ABV: 10%
What’s that you say? Why am I drinking an autumn ale in winter? You have a posed a good question. Here’s a good answer.
My Uncle Bill, who is a fellow craft beer enthusiast, will often bring me a craft beer when he visits. This was his latest gift to me when he came up at Thanksgiving.
Gubby has great taste in beer. Oh, Gubby stands for Great Uncle Billy, which my kids call him. So that is how he will be known. Since he brought me an autumn ale, I wanted to find the right time to open it up. But I don’t age beer. I believe beer is meant to be drank. Or is it drunk. Drinked? You know what I mean.
So I knew I wanted to drink it within a month or so after receiving it. Well, today is Monday. So that seems like a good enough reason to me. It also happens to be unseasonably warm where I live, right outside of Philadelphia. It feels more like autumn than winter. And, since I am a teacher, I am on winter break right now. So I’m not planning on doing much tomorrow.
The nose picks up the malt and a bit of the spiced notes right away. I also get a solid presence of sweetness from the maple syrup and the molasses. But wait until you taste this craft. Wow.
Sweetness upon layer of sweetness upon layer of sweetness. The molasses comes through first. A nice resiny sweetness. Then the earthy sweetness from the yams comes through. And finally the maple syrupy sweetness like I’m eating a smothered pancake appears.
Only after those layers subside does the spiced character introduce itself. It adds a much needed depth and change to this malty, earthy, syrupy sweet craft. Mouth-puckering. Shaking my head in subtle disbelief.
I will say that I do enjoy the fact that this is an autumn beer without pumpkin in it. The Bruery was intentional about that in using yams instead. And I like that flavor. But this craft is probably a bit too sweet for me. I need more spice. Or more hops. Something to match punches with all of that sweetness.
Ultimately, I like the boldness of this craft. It is sweet (have I mentioned that at all), and it does not care. And as I said, I like the use of yams to add the earthiness it needs. I will also say, I don’t think I’ve ever had anything like this craft. That’s saying something for someone who’s had over 600 different beers. But, I don’t think I’d ever have this again. Unless one of the best gifts on earth, the gift of beer, was given again. Cheers.

Beer 31 of winter – IPA

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Brewer: Stone Craft: IPA ABV: 6.9%
First off, thanks to my sister-in-law Kate for the glass. And now for the beer!
Stone, as I have said before, knows how to make an IPA. And this craft is no different. I’m struck too at the moment by how many varieties of IPA they make and how good they all are. Stone must have a hop guru or something. That would be a fun job. Hop guru.
Anywho, this IPA is simple yet complex. Here’s what I mean. It is simple because there is nothing flashy or out of the ordinary that makes this craft special. It is crisp and refreshing. It is hoppy. It is subtly malty. It is everything I want in a standard IPA.
And don’t misunderstand what I mean by standard. I do not mean boring or plain or simple. Standard, by definition, means it is the one by which all others are measured.
This craft is complex because the hop guru knew what he or she was doing when the hops were chosen and the amount of those hops as well. The blend is solid. The beer is a quality craft. The only other IPA I’d give the standard label to is the Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA. Those two crafts have set the bar at a pretty high level.
Anytime you are looking for an IPA, find your nearest craft beer store and choose a Stone. You won’t be disappointed. Cheers!

Beer 30 of winter – Ok! Let’s party!!

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Brewer: Flying Dog Craft: Gonzo Imperial Porter ABV: 9.2%
The words in the title are the those of the character on the bottle. Not sure if I’d call this a party beer, but I’m certainly enjoying it.
Chocolate and coffee notes drive this craft beer and bring a solid roasty smoothness along for the ride. I’m even picking up hints of vanilla in there. You want to take your time with this one and let the flavors build as it warms.
The higher ABV may give you another reason to slow this party down. I like an imperial porter because it feels like I’m drinking my favorite cup of coffee. You don’t want it to end. And it seems to get better the longer you drink it.
I’m getting a little bitterness on my tongue as I let the party rock on. Probably from the coffee and whatever hops they use to help make this craft imperial.
I’ve traditionally been a porter/stout guy. The IPAs have made a strong movement recently into the list of go to crafts. But this Gonzo has reminded me of my beginnings. And I’m glad it did. Never forget where you started. Enjoy!

Beer 29 of winter – make it a double

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Brewer: Rock Bottom Craft: Hoppy New Beer! ABV: 8.5%
I went out to lunch today with my wife and I only had time for one beer. So I wanted to choose wisely. I knew I was planning on having a burger of some sort, so I thought an IPA would compliment the juicy, fatty yumminess of a burger. I made a great choice.
This double IPA craft beer has a great citrus aroma with a hint of bitterness. Once I took my first sip, I just kept nodding my head as if I was a bobblehead. The orange and subtle grapefruit citrus notes come forward first, and then the bitter hops linger on the back of your tongue. I like that because I want to know I’m drinking an IPA; I don’t want to have to remind myself.
I’ll tell you also that my wife, who is not an IPA drinker, tried it and she liked it. She even said she’d drink a whole one! So for those of you who are hesitant to try an IPA, find yourself a Rock Bottom Brewery restaurant and give this quaffable yet strong craft beer a try. Cheers!

Beer 28 of winter – Merry Christmas!

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Brewer: Abita Craft: Christmas Ale 2014 ABV: 5.5%
Just a quick one tonight. I spent most of today with my family, both immediate and extended. I drank several beers today. This was one of them. It was good. I hope you had a chance to spend some time with your family, and drink some beers as well. Merry Christmas to you and yours. Cheers!