Wednesday, April 17, 2013

April 17: Karl and the Tale of the Goose Island Matilda

Waltzing Matilda

Greetings from the Windy City, dear reader! Or at least that’s where today’s beer is from. I had the pleasure of visiting Goose Island in the “pre-Budweiser” days about six years ago, and my pleasant experience there has always left me with a fondness towards the Goose. While it’s their Honkers Ale, the 312 wheat beer and their excellent IPA that are most common, the brewery manages to make some exceptional beers that aren’t as widely distributed. Their Bourbon County Stouts are legendary amongst les beer nerds, and Pere Jacques and Pepe Nero are wonderful, complex brews. Today I’m drinking Matilda, their Belgian-style Golden Ale, and it is accompanied by the Tom Waits Anthology album. The song Tom Traubert’s Blues is written about an experience where Mr. Waits had too much to drink in a foreign country (Denmark, I believe), and wanted to take out and waltz a young woman named Matilda. Leave it to Tom to romanticize a night of being a few sheets to the wind.

As for the beer, it pours a cloudy miel/honey color, reminding me a lot of my good friend Pranqster. It is visually effervescent and the nose gives off a pleasant aroma of applesauce, oatmeal and honey with a classic Belgian yeast strain. The beer ends up being lighter on the palate than I was expecting (I think I was expecting chewy thick Pranqster), and the yeast is a very strong character in this play. The beer is slightly sour, but not too much so, rather just enough to be labeled “funky”. There is a delicious finish of cinnamon and clove that round off a good malt balance and light mouthfeel. This is the type of beer that can ride the struggle bus on the finish, becoming either too sticky or two sweet, but this hits the spot. Well done, Goose Island, and don’t let those Budweiser bullies change you.

Rating: A-

Friday, April 12, 2013

April 12: Karl and the Tale of the Bootlegger's Tropical Thunder

Keeping the Tropical Thunder from spilling was obviously the more important task at hand
Unfortunately, dear readers, the only picture that accompanies today’s “Wild Card” beer is a picture of yours truly holding it in one hand while failing miserably at big-kid Jenga with the other. That's what I get for leaving the house. These multiple failures should not taint your views on this magnificent beer, though. As someone who generally turns his nose away from hoppy beers, Tropical Thunder from Bootlegger’s is a welcome exception to the common California Pale Ale. We’ve been a fan of Bootlegger’s for quite some time, with this trip being the latest of maybe 15 or so trips to the brewery. Bootlegger’s, as the pride of Fullerton, CA, has been expanding their operations lately, including opening a brand new tasting room that is tons o’ fun. With the expansion it seems like they have stepped up their brewing prowess and are giving The Bruery a run for Orange County’s finest brew spot.

As for the beer itself, this is a phenomenal beer. Apparently it came about as an accident, but much like Silly Putty it is an accident that only will improve our lives from this point on. Enticingly aromatic with notes of pineapple, guava, and floral hops, this beer invites you in, places a lei around your neck, and then starts to luau in your mouth. Pineapple is still there, along with some citrus notes that are perfectly balanced by some light hops and a great mild malt. It’s one of those beers that you can drink quickly and continuously. If they start to bottle this beer, I’m buying stock in their company.

Monday, April 8, 2013

April 8: Karl and the Tale of the Reutberger Export Hell

Rock Me, Kloster Reutberger

We are about to say “auf wiedersehen” to our German friends, dear reader, and I’m closing out with the Reutberger Export Hell.  From my very little German I can tell that the Reutberg Abbey has been producing beers since 1677, and other than that all I see are words and fonts that look angry. I bet that they are perfectly pleasant though, as who can be mad when you are making beer? Anyway, as my ode to 80s German pop, I have dedicated this beer to the great German band Falco. Will “Der Kommissar” put this beer on lockdown? This video is a classic...

So I managed to lose my notes on this one, but I will give you a brief overview from memory. It was similar, but not as good as the Weltenberger that I had a little while back. While it lacked the stickiness of the Weltenberger (a good thing), the flavor profile is not as well balanced, and it was a little more of a straight lager or pilsner. It is crisp and light, but a little too grainy for my taste. It is definitely drinkable, yet unfortunately forgettable, but I’m sure somewhere in Germany there are laughs and good times being shared over a few liters of this guy.

Rating: C+

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

April 3: Karl and the G. Schneider & Sohn Organic Weisen Edel-Weisse

Schneider: A few of my favorite things

While this journey for me, dear readers, was meant to expand my beer palate and try new things that I have never tried before, once in a while I have to indulge myself in an old favorite. That would be the case today, as I am drinking the Schneider Edel-Weisse, and organic wheat beer from what I think may be Germany’s best brewery. It was very easy to choose which album to pair this guy with, as every time I see this beer on the shelf or on tap I start to sing its eponymous anthem from the Sound of Music. Edel-Weisse, Edel-Weisse… (I wish every morning you would greet me)

As for the beer, I’m going to keep this review short. If you like wheat beers, you should track this down. If you like beer, you should track this down. It’s a wonderfully executed wheat beer, floral and citrus notes abound in both the nose and the taste and it’s a glowing yellow-orange with a meringue-esque head. This organic beer is made with only six ingredients: water, two types of hops, two types of malt, and yeast. That’s it. It’s simple and delicious, clean and crisp, simply executed with deep flavors; perfect for a sunny day. I slightly prefer the standard white label hefe from Schneider over this one, but having to choose would be like the Von Trapps having to pick which child to leave behind to the Nazis.  You can’t do it.

Rating: A

Friday, March 29, 2013

March 29: Karl and the Tale of the Weltenburger Kloster Barock Hell

Paradise by the Dashboard Light?

The German’s are coming, dear reader! Spring is here and with that it’s time to explore some of the beers and styles created by one of the world’s leaders in beer craftsmanship. Today’s beer is a new one to my library, the Weltenburger Kloster Barock-Hell. This is a Munich Helles Lager, and these are beers that are meant to be consumed by the stein. The musical pairing today is the 7th best-selling album from the 70s, Meatloaf’s eternal Bat out of Hell. Fun fact: Did you know Jim Steinman originally wrote Bat out of Hell as a futuristic rock and roll musical based on Peter Pan? I love the Loaf and I need a beer, so I'm sure within minutes like a Barock out of Hell (get it?) this beer will be gone, gone, gone. Let's try and get a review in before that happens.

 This beer pours a golden yellow with cascading bubbles an attractive one-finger head. This is stereotypically what beer is meant to look like. German malts dominate the nose, and there is a little bit of hop and lemongrass alongside. I’m not all that familiar with the style, but I would describe this beer as a mix between a hefe and a pilsner. It is light and crisp, with some dryness and malted barley that I usually get from a pilsner, and there is some citrus and a chewiness that comes with most hefes. It is strongly carbonated and it is easily drinkable, but for me it does suffer a little bit in two areas. First is the metallic/mineral pilsner taste that I’ve just never been a fan of, and secondly the mouthfeel is a little sticky. I would say this beer is good looking and highly drinkable, but there ain’t no way I’m ever gonna love you, so don’t be sad; two out of three ain’t bad.

The backside of Bat of of Hell. The Loaf rules.
Rating: B-

Sunday, March 24, 2013

March 24: Karl and the Tale of the Avery The Reverend

Let's Stay Together?

There is an argument, dear reader, over which state produces the best assortment of craft beers. While California is clearly the Beatles of this argument, many would argue that Colorado is the Led Zeppelin. In addition to that hard to find white whale beer called Coors, Colorado boasts the 3rd largest amount of craft breweries in the US. New Belgium, Great Divide and Oskar Blues are just three of 139 and counting breweries that have shown much tasty love to your favorite bloggers, and today’s brew comes from another notable Colorado brewery. While Avery is most famous for its easy-drinking wit White Rascal or Ellie’s Brown, they also manage to produce a good stable of quality beers; from high-alcohol monsters like The Beast and Mephistopheles Stout to superb IPAs like Dugana and Maharaja, Avery represents Colorado well. Today I will be drinking their Quad, The Reverend, and this must be accompanied musically by the “The Reverend” Al Green. Will The Reverend be one of Avery’s greatest hits?

I would describe the color of this beer as cherrywood, and it has a oily, stagnant-pond-water head that produces little foam. The pond water is accompanied by a muted, fruity nose that is accompanied by some alcohol and a touch of the malt. While I could break down the flavor profile for you, I think I can sum up this beer by saying it tastes like a 100% Juicy Juice fruit punch juice box. Baby Buster would love this. There is some bitterness on the finish, but the fruitiness, the high carbonation and the lack of traditional Quadrupel body and mouthfeel mean that I Can’t Get Next to You. It’s a shame that one of my all-time favorite albums gets paired with a surprising dud from Avery.

Rating: C-

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

March 20: Karl and the Tale of the Anderson Valley Brother David's Tripel

Minstrel, now joined by beer and monks, in the Gallery

Do you like the sun, dear reader? Well, the good folks at Anderson Valley like the sun so much that they use its rays alone to power their brewery. Since 1987 Anderson Valley has been making craft beer, with their Amber and their Oatmeal Stout, amongst other beers, gaining recognition for quality. Now the brewery has expanded greatly, with a wide variety of nectars emerging from Boonville, CA, including today’s Tripel. To represent the Valley of Anderson, I chose a band whose lead singer shares the valley’s name. Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson may not have been born in the valley, but it appears by the cover for his Minstrel in the Gallery that he would be right at home amongst some suds and songs of times long since passed. Here is an accurate historical telling of the history of Jethro Tull:

Once you pop off the cap, the aroma fills the immediate area surrounding the bottle. There are fruits (predominately apples and pears), yeast and a strong boozy smell. The beer pours translucent gold that glistens when held up to the light. In fact, it looks like apple juice, and the lack of a sustainable head doesn’t do much to remove that impression. The beer is pleasant tasting, but unremarkable. Citrus, some common Belgian dark fruits and a slight amount of tart abound, but it’s not overly sweet. It is well carbonated, bordering on fizzy lifting drink, but to be honest everything is overpowered by the 10% of booziness that slaps you around. Neither the malts nor the hops balance out the sweetness and the booze, which is a shame. This beer has some good elements, but ends up just being a sub-par in the end.

Rating: C+