Monday, December 30, 2013

The Summing Up

I had been thinking of writing a sort of overview of the best brews I sampled in the past year. But beat me to it and did the work for me with their new year-end feature, “My 2013 in Beer.” This is a compilation/summary of all the beer ratings I entered on that site during the year. Or what one (better) blogger calls a "listicle."

And so, I learn that I “entered 878 beer reviews in … from 336 breweries. 191 breweries were tried for the first time, 5 of which opened in 2013.”

I had 107 IPAs (at an average rating of 3.5 out of a possible 5.0)
57 Pale Lagers (2.17 avg.)
46 Imperial/Double IPAs (3.6)
43 American Pale Ales (3.32)
41 Belgian Strong Ales (3.6)
and 36 Saisons (3.69).

My favorite styles are Imperial/Double IPA and Saison, but those types are harder to come by in Japan than are Pale Lagers (which are everywhere).

By nation, I rated 399 brews from the United States (avg. 3.48)
165 from Japan (2.98)
107 from Belgium (3.45)
46 from Germany (3.19)
and 27 from Denmark (3.66).

On the road, I had chances to visit the following bars, breweries, and brewpubs for the first time:
Craft Beer Bar Marciero (Osaka)
Doll Dress (Osaka)
Beer Belly Tenma (Osaka)
Concordia Ale House (Portland, OR)
Grain and Gristle (Portland, OR)
The Commons Brewery (Portland, OR)
Alameda Brewing Co. (Portland, OR)
Breakside Restaurant & Pub Brewery (Portland, OR)
Bend Brewing Company (Bend, OR)
10 Barrel Brewpub (Bend, OR)
Silver Moon Brewing (Bend, OR)
Three Creeks Brewery (Sisters, OR)
Double Mountain Brewery and Taproom (Hood River, OR)
Arch Rock Brewing Company (Gold Beach, OR)
Surly Brewing Company (Brooklyn Center, MN)
Firestone Walker Brewing Company (Paso Robles, CA)
Ladyface Alehouse & Brasserie (Agoura Hills, CA)

Finally, here are the beers I rated at 4.0 or higher during 2013:

Firestone Walker Double DBA (4.4)
Three Floyds Behemoth Barleywine (4.4)
Hill Farmstead Arthur (4.4)
BFM √225 Saison (4.4)
Mikkeller George! Barrel Aged (Bourbon Edition) (4.3)
Oude Gueuze Tilquin à l’Ancienne (4.3)
Hill Farmstead Vera Mae (4.3)
Hill Farmstead Juicy (4.3)
Russian River Blind Pig IPA (4.3)
Harviestoun Old Engine Oil (Bottle) (4.3)            
Nectar Ales Nectar IPA (4.2)
Mikkeller Monks Elixir (4.2)
Founders Nemesis 2010 (4.2)
Bush Prestige (Scaldis Prestige) (4.2)
Schneider Aventinus (4.2)
Firestone Walker Sucaba (4.2)
De Ranke XXX Bitter (4.2)
BrewDog Abstrakt AB:13 (4.2)
De Dolle Dulle Teve 10º (Mad Bitch) (4.2)
The Bruery White Chocolate (4.1)
Grassroots Arctic Saison (4.1)
Grassroots/Stillwater/Mikkeller Gypsy Juice (4.1)
Evil Twin Falco IPA (4.1)
The Bruery Black Tuesday Imperial Stout (4.1)
Fuller’s Golden Pride (Bottle/Keg) (4.1)
Jandrain-Jandrenouille IV Saison (4.1)
Green Flash Imperial IPA (4.1)
Gigantic IPA (4.1)
Weyerbacher Sour Black (4.1)
Firestone Walker Wookey Jack Black Rye IPA (4.0)
J.W. Lees Harvest Ale – 2004 vintage (4.0)         
Deschutes The Dissident – 2008 vintage (4.0)
Mikkeller Draft Bear (4.0)
Firestone Walker Walkers Reserve (4.0)
Ladyface Chesebro IPA (4.0)
Firestone Walker Pivo Hoppy Pils (4.0)
Shiga Kogen Far East Triple IPA (4.0)
Maine Beer Lunch (4.0)
8 Wired iStout (4.0)
Sierra Nevada 30th Anniversary Jack & Kens Ale (4.0)
Logsdon Seizoen Bretta (4.0)
Malheur Bière Brut (Reserve) (4.0)
Lagunitas Maximus (4.0)
St Feuillien Grand Cru (4.0)       
Fantôme Saint-Roch (4.0)
De Leite Ma Mère Speciale (4.0)
Upright Captain Beefheart (4.0)

Here’s to 2014!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas

Walking around the Grand Front building in Umeda, we came across a beer tree near the World Beer Museum. This is the kind of tree beer geeks would surely like to have in their homes during the Christmas season.

Happy Holidays to all!

Monday, December 9, 2013

BrewDog Bar in Tokyo / 東京ブリュードッグバー

The dogs are coming to Japan.


According to several news sources, including BBC, Scotland’s BrewDog will open a bar in the Roppongi district of Tokyo next March. This will be their second bar outside the UK, after a Stockholm venue opened in summer 2013, and their first one in Asia.

The Tokyo bar will reportedly have 20 taps for BrewDog's core line as well as limited edition brews and guest beers from other craft breweries.

Friday, December 6, 2013

New Beers from the Japanese Majors in 2013: Suntory / 日本の大手企業からの新しいビール 2013: Suntory

One more month left to go until 2014. It's time to look around and take stock of new beers brought out in 2013 by the four major breweries in Japan: Asahi, Kirin, Sapporo, and Suntory. I'll discuss them each in a separate post. I'll also give the style, alcohol by volume, and the current RateBeer weighted average score followed by my rating score (out of a possible 5), keeping in mind that most of them have fewer than ten ratings.    

Finally, we'll check out nine new beers from Suntory.

Suntory Kohaku no Kutsurogi (2013 version)
Suntory Kohaku no Kutsurogi - 2013 Version     
(Amber Lager/Vienna 5%)     2.89 /  3.2
Fruity and good roast malt nose, some decent stinky hop in the background. Clear orange//amber color, with a 1-cm head. Opens smooth and then goes to a tangy fruitiness / mid has roast notes and then balance / little licks of bitterness in the finish. Pretty good. All is in order here. Saaz hops. Lively and tasty. Glad they brought this one out of retirement.

Suntory Full Body Beer
Suntory Full Body Beer     
(Strong Pale Lager/Imperial Pils)     2.86 / 3.3
Bready, light grass, some stinky hop, and light fumes. Crystal clear, bright medium straw color. Fairly rich initial, with some grass and medium-strength hops. Some minor fumes. Finish is somewhat candyish and then balances as the hops linger. Not a phrase typically associated with mass market Japanese lagers, but it does have a fairly full body. "Strong stimulus"? Is this the beer to celebrate Abenomics?

  Suntory Royal Blend
Suntory Royal Blend     
(Amber Lager/Vienna 5%)     2.85 / 3.1
Meaty malt, with some fruitiness, and what really seems to be smoke. Dark amber, off-white head, some lace. Decent caramel and bittering / moves to sweetness in mid / bittering lingers for a moment. Medium body. Not bad at all. A surprise from Suntory (which made a number of interesting one-offs back in the late 90s, but which hasn’t been impressive in the interim). Strong caramel for a lager -- approaching the character of amber ale.

  Suntory The Gold Class
Suntory The Gold Class     
(Premium Lager 5.5%)     2.78 / 2.7
Light caramel, flowery hops, and a hint of cardboard in the nose. Medium straw color ("gold," if you are imaginative). Light cake-like sweetness / mild hopping in mid / finished with small bitter tracks. Thin-medium body. Seems to be a blend of a pils and a happoshu (with a cardboard/spirits note), or dangerously close. Not Suntory’s best effort.

  Suntory Extra Rich
Suntory Extra Rich
(Pale Lager 5%)     2.77 / 2.9
Slight sewer stink, some metallic notes. Medium straw color. Thick pils-like maltiness / somehow an extract note enters and then a little bittering / finish is balanced and ends with touch of sweetish malt. Medium body. Aroma ain’t much, flavors are okay.

 Suntory Premium Malts Koku no Blend
Suntory The Premium Malts's Koku no Blend     
(Amber Lager/Vienna 5.5%)      2.68 / 2.5
Warm roast grain nose, with some light extract-like stink. Pretty reddish-brown color. Mild grainy roast malt initial / rises into a moderate fruity tanginess and then flattens quickly / final is a bit unpleasant, with light hop bitterness and some metallic notes. Thin body. Hmmm.... this is a blend of regular Premium Malt’s and Premium Malt’s Dark (two beers blended -- or more likely just dumped together > then lagered > then filtered). It’s like an underdone Vienna. Looks like an amber, but...
Suntory Kuchi Doke no Fuyu Komugi   
Suntory Kuchi Doke no Fuyu Komugi     
(Pale Lager 5%)     2.55 / 2.2
Typical happoshu sewer nose, light lemon notes, and no hint of wheat. Greenish, white wine appearance, with an initial fluffy white head that "melts" away in a flash. Light grain, gentle and gradually increasing cardboard, mild sweet finish. Thin body. Pretty lousy stuff, but relatively drinkable. Wheat spirits, no wheat.

  Suntory Sweet Rich
Suntory Sweet Rich     
(Pale Lager 4%)     2.39 / 1.6
Thin cardboard, light powdery sweetness. Bright lemony color, small head, fat tonic water bubbles. Thin fruit, all watered down, small bitter note in final. Thin body. Really toned down, almost no main flavors (except for the minimal sweet malt, cardboard, and baby hops). Maybe aimed at the distaff happoshu crowd?

Suntory Gran Dry
Suntory Gran Dry     
(Pale Lager 5%)     2.36 / 1.8
Dog poop and rotten veggies. Light straw, frothy head. Cardboard, some sugary extract-like malty (?) notes. Thin body. Fizzy. Nothing "gran" about it; not dry, either.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

New Beers from The Japanese Majors in 2013: Sapporo / 日本の大手企業からの新しいビール 2013: Sapporo

One more month left to go until 2014. It's time to look around and take stock of new beers brought out in 2013 by the four major breweries in Japan: Asahi, Kirin, Sapporo, and Suntory. I'll discuss them each in a separate post. I'll also give the style, alcohol by volume, and the current RateBeer weighted average score followed by my rating score (out of a possible 5), keeping in mind that most of them have fewer than ten ratings. 

For number three, we'll check out this year's new beers from Sapporo Breweries.

 Sapporo Yebisu Joel Robuchon
Sapporo Yebisu Joel Robuchon   
(Premium Lager 5%)     2.96 / 3.3
This limited brew has a lightly stinky hop aroma from a healthy amount of Nelson Sauvin hops. The color is a very bright clear yellow, with a really fluffy, strangely shiny white head (like a slick baked meringue). The mild grassy initial flavor has some punch to it, then the hops emerge nicely, for just a moment, finally the  flavor goes flatl, with some prickly hop bites in the aftertaste. Thin body. The aroma is great for a lager like this, but flavor does not impress so much. Some people think that this was the best new beer of the year from any of the major beer companies. Unfortunately, it pretty much disappeared from the shelves about a month after it was released. Hoping it makes a come-back next year.

Sapporo Yebisu Premium Black     
(Schwarzbier 5%)     2.92 / 2.9
This beer has a small nose of chocolate and a bit of prune. A very mild roast initial is followed by decent balance in mid palate, and the finish has very minimal flavors, for a dark brew like this. The body is thin-medium body, and maybe just a bit too thin. Very drinkable stuff. I certainly liked the regular Yebisu Black Beer better than this one. However, what I’d love is to have the old Sapporo Black again -- haven't seen that one for several years. That was a superb schwarzbier beer (see Michael Jackson's books for his opinion on that one).

 Sapporo Mugi To Hoppu Zeitaku Hatsudzumi
Sapporo Mugi To Hoppu Zeitaku Hatsudzumi      
(Pale Lager 5%)     2.71 / 2.5
This brew has a light sewery scent, along with lemon and peaches -- but the advertised Czech hops don’t come through. It offers a moderate and slightly rasty maltiness, but is fairly nondescript overall. However, the typically nasty happoshu flavors are not really present. This "Mugi to Hoppu" happoshu series by Sapporo is by far the "best" of any from the Japanese majors.

 Sapporo Mugi to Hoppu Aka
Mugi to Hoppu Aka     
(Amber Lager/Vienna 5%)     2.7 / 2.4
The aroma is of light sweetish malt, roasted grain, and dark fruit. It pours out brownish-amber with a thin head and big carbonation bubbling up. The flavors is primarily candyish roast malt, there is also an off-flavor sort of bitterness (not like hops). It's not ot really terrible. Somehow the roastiness covers the normal roughness and crude character that most happoshu has.
Sapporo Goku Zero
Sapporo Goku Zero     
(Pale Lager 4%)     2.59 / 1.5
This lousy brews has an aroma of apple juice and soap. It's a bright golden straw color with zero head. Flavors of peaches, cardboard, apples, with almost no bittering. The final is a touch harsh. This is fruit juice beer. Although it is close to zero ... I’ll give it 1.5.
Sapporo Kuradashi Draft Beer
Kuradashi Draft Beer     
(Pale Lager 4.5%)     2.59 / 2.4
A mild sweet aroma, with an extract notes. Light straw color, frothy head. Very bland sort of malty initial, with a bit of tang and sweetness in mid palate, and light bitter traces with metallic notes in final. Thin-medium body. Not so bad. But it seems to tend toward happoshu characteristics.

Sapporo Toko Natsu Ki Bun
Toko Natsu Ki Bun     
(Pale Lager 5%)     2.55 / 1.6
A very sharp, sewage-soaked cardboardy nose. Thin, hazy apple juice color, small head. Tart, harsh fruit, which fades into mild sauerkraut. The finish is a typical happoshu dusting of light sugary sweetness. Thin body. Nothing special abut this one. A total waste of the Apollo and Cascade hops, which really aren’t detectable.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

New Beers from the Japanese Majors in 2013: Kirin / 日本の大手企業からの新しいビール 2013: Kirin

One more month left to go until 2014. It's time to look around and take stock of new beers brought out in 2013 by the four major breweries in Japan: Asahi, Kirin, Sapporo, and Suntory. I'll discuss them each in a separate post. I'll also give the style, alcohol by volume, and the current RateBeer weighted average score followed by my rating score (out of a possible 5), keeping in mind that most of them have fewer than ten ratings. 

This time we'll check out the rather limited range of new brews from Kirin. 

Kirin Grand Kirin The Aroma
Grand Kirin The Aroma     
(Golden Ale/Blonde Ale 5.5%)     2.98 / 3.4
A new version of Grand Kirin (which debuted last year). It has a deep raw greeny fresh hop aroma, a bit sulfur-like, penetrating and curiously pleasant. Initial flavors are severely hop dominated. In mid palate, some tang and then sweet malt emerges. A light coating of bitterness remains in the final along with tiny sweet notes at the end. Thin to medium body. The initial aroma hit is substantial, but the nose soon grows accustomed to it. Interesting use of Bravo (if that is, in fact, what was used); it's a high-alpha acid bittering hop, whose main contribution here is in the aroma. Also, ale yeast is employed instead of lager yeast. Very pleasant stuff, a notch above the regular Grand Kirin. Never had quite so hop-dominated a brew like this from any Japanese major brewery. 

Kirin Koi Aji Deluxe
Kirin Koi Aji Deluxe     
(Strong Pale Lager/Imperial Pils - Happoshu 6%)     2.51 / 1.5
The happoshu has an aroma of light prunes, ashes, tsukemono. Flavors of harsh cardboard, a bit of rust, rotten veggies, and some metallic note, too. Ouch! Medium body. Pretty bad. Really pretty bad. But just a bit stronger than most pretty bad ones.
Kirin Koi Aji Toushitsu Zero
Kirin Koi Aji Toushitsu Zero     
(Low Alcohol - Third Category 3%)     2.36 / 1.8
This beer has 60% less purine than the regular version and only 19 calories per 100ml. Good for those with gout and weight problems. No much good for anyone else. It has a rusty rainwater nose, with some molasses notes. Slight sugary initial, along with some unidentifiable (but probably malt extract or spirits) chemical flavors , light extract tea, nearly no finish, except a coating of light sugar and some fizz. Thin-medium body. Pretty bad. One of the more taste-free brews you can drink (... or not drink).

  Kirin Sumikiri
Kirin Sumikiri     
(Pale Lager 5%)     2.32 / 1.9
This silver bullet contains a bad-ass cardboard and sewer pipe nose. A thin papery initial with some overripe lemons emerging soon after. Finish is fairly small. Thin body. The bad aroma doesn’t really influence the flavors so much. But still.... pretty bad stuff.

Friday, November 29, 2013

New Beers from the Japanese Majors in 2013: Asahi / 日本の大手企業からの新しいビール 2013: Asahi

One more month left to go until 2014. It's time to look around and take stock of new beers brought out in 2013 by the four major breweries in Japan: Asahi, Kirin, Sapporo, and Suntory. I'll discuss them each in a separate post. I'll also give the style, alcohol by volume, and the current RateBeer weighted average score followed by my rating score (out of a possible 5), keeping in mind that most of them have fewer than ten ratings.

We'll start with eight beers from Asahi.

 Asahi Royal Pils
Asahi Royal Pils     (Pilsener 5%)     2.87 / 3.1
The tastiest new brew they made this year. It has a fresh and spirited nose -- grass, bitter lemon, and just a little cardboard. Medium sweet malt, some good bittering in the mid palate, and then it goes out single file in a decent balance. Well-mannered and smooth. The major beer-makers in Japan can make such clean and consistent brews.... just wish they’d give ’em more character.
 Asahi Bitter Premium
Asahi Bitter Premium     (Premium Lager 6%)     2.82 / 3
It has some decent hopping in the nose, and also a little cardboard (which really doesn’t belong here). Light, sweetish grainy maltiness / fair bittering in mid palate / creamy, balanced finish, with a touch of lingering hops. Thin-medium body. Not bad. Not as good as Asahi The Extra (which debuted late last year). A touch too grainy.

 Asahi Dry Premium
Asahi Dry Premium     (Pale Lager 5.5%)     2.73 / 2.6
This was originally sold only in multi-can gift boxes, but recently some singles have appeared on shelves. The aroma is of ripe, moldy hay/grass, sewery spirits notes (but it doesn’t contain and spirits...). Light malty initial with moderate bitterness / a touch of rasty burn in mid palate / finishes "dry" and leaves some bitterness. Thin-medium body. Has quite a bit more body and character than the regular Super Dry but isn’t all that much better.

 Asahi Panache
Asahi Panache     (Fruit Beer 4.5%)     2.73 / 2.1
This is a mix of beer and lemon flavoring. The nose is artificial, perfumey light lemon juice. Fairly strong initial lemon hits / very mild lemon and some sweetness in mid palate / the finish is just gently carbonated soda water. Thin body, very tingly on the tongue. I thought that it might be something like a shandy, but there is almost no detectable maltiness. Has 10 (count ’em!) ingredients. Geez!
 Asahi Creamy Premium
Asahi Creamy Premium     (Premium Lager)     2.72 / 2.8
A sweetish aroma of cookies and light fruit. Yeah, the head is creamy, but it dissipates quickly. Mild maltiness (maybe too mild for a "premium" lager) with some decent hopping in the initial / doesn’t goes much further in any direction. Thin-medium body. Nothing really stands out, which is the way of the Japanese major companies, more often than not. Okay, if unexciting, stuff.

 Asahi Clear Prime Rich
Asahi Clear Prime Rich     (Pale Lager / Happoshu 6%)     2.53 / 2.3
Light JR toilet scent (just outside the entrance on a busy weekend night), some cardboard, and small fumes. Overripe pineapple and cabbage juice / mid palate holds the course and adds some harshness / finish is ... somewhat solid... but uninteresting. Medium body. More "there" than in the regular version of Clear Asahi -- but even though both are not quite bad, neither impresses in any way.

 Asahi Winning Brew
Asahi Winning Brew     (Pale Lager / Happoshu 5%)     2.5 / 2.3
This one was brewed for the 2013 World Baseball Classic, held in March. Mostly cardboard aroma, with perhaps some hops peeking through. They tout the use of American Nugget hops in this one. Light sweetish malt initial / cardboard spirits notes in mid, with some slight sour tang /  final levels out and leaves some hop traces. Thin body. Not too bad, for happoshu. Nugget hops or New Zealand hops (as in the "Sparkling Hop" brew), what does it matter? I mean, why do they bother to put these into happoshu, especially in such small amounts that they barely register? Japan won the first two WBC tournaments, but no one wins with this beer.

 Asahi Funwari
Asahi Funwari     (Low Alcohol / Happoshu 2.5%)     2.46 / 2.3
Mild cardboardy, extract aroma, with some sourish stink, and lemon flowers.Very mild initial / mid brings a sharp edge of bitterness / finish is as mild as air. Thin and fizzy. Not offensive, for a happoshu, and more or less nondescript.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

BrewDog at Tadg's in Kyoto / ブリュードッグ テイスティングイベント at タイグズ - 11/16/2013

The alpha dogs came to Kyoto last weekend.

Tadg's Irish Bar & Restaurant held an event featuring Scotland's famed BrewDog. BrewDog is probably the best known Scottish craft brewery, largely due to their entertaining anti-corporate attitude and frequent clashes with long-established groups, including CAMRA, in the UK. They are also expert at creating promotional stunts, often involving extremely high-alcohol brews - can you say 50%? --and even bottles wrapped in dead animals. These guys don't shy from the limelight. In fact, they produce it.

From 2-4pm, the event was limited to those involved in the beer business and a few specially invited guests. We were lucky to be included in the latter group.

During the first hour, we enjoyed samples of the following limited-edition brews: Abstrakt 13 Black Ale (11.3%), Cocoa Psycho Imperial Stout (10%), Dog B Imperial Stout (15.1%), along with some of their regulars, including Punk IPA. Jackhammer, and Dead Pony.

Neil Taylor, International BrewDog Bars representative, gave a short talk in English, which included a brief history of the brewery, and Mark Meli (author of Craft Beer in Japan: The Essential Guide) provided simultaneous interpretation for the several Japanese bar owners and store operators in attendance.

Neil explained the founding spirit of the brewery: 1) to make the kind of beer that they wanted to drink, and 2) to make people more passionate about beer. Given BrewDog's popularity and standing among beer geeks, it's pretty clear that they have succeeded in both respects. Although some might complain that many of BrewDog's offerings are expensive, Neil stated that their customers definitely get value for their money.

He then described several of the beers we had sampled, including ingredients, brew techniques, and even special occasions that had inspired them. For example, their favorite hop is Simcoe, and this high-alpha variety is a major component of many BrewDog beers.

He went on to a discussion of recent business developments.

Equity for Punks. They have begun selling shares in the company to some of their regular customers. He also that their AGM is really more like a party than a traditional shareholders meeting.

A New Brewery. They have moved to a more modern and much bigger facility. However, the old brewery is still in operation, which has allowed them to begin experiments with more types of yeast, separately from the main production facility. New employees are regularly trained on the older brewery equipment. Also, most of their one-offs and limited-edition brews are produced there.

The new brewery has a 70,000 hectoliter capacity, more than twice that of the older one, which will greatly expand their production volume. It also is also much closer to Aberdeen, making transportation less time consuming.

Tadg's opened to the general public at 6pm, by which point we had already sampled pretty much everything on offer. But we stayed around for seconds, and even thirds, of these inspired brews. The dogs were off the leash.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Sampling Session in Kyoto -- 11/02/2013

It had been a while, for me anyway. Our fairly regular beer tasting sessions had been on hold during the summer months when most of us were traveling. But on a mild, cool Saturday afternoon, we once again took up our seats in Lefty’s spacious dining/living room and proceed to uncap many bottles.

Here is a rundown of the ones I found the most enthralling:

Oakshire Perfect Storm Imperial IPA
This Oregon brew has a big fat grapefruit nose with good caramel backing. Moderately harsh hopping and bright peach notes dominate the initial. The mid palate gets a bit rough, with a little tobacco. It finishes with more scratchy hops. A very solid DIPA.

Stone Enjoy By IPA
The is the 11.12.13 vintage. A medium pine/citrus blend aroma. Medium straw color. A balanced initial. Hops dominate the mid palate, with a light sweet caramel backing. The finish extends the sweetness. Medium body. Good enough, but the taste is rather reminiscent of many another Stone brew in their signature IPA style.

Captain Lawrence Captain’s Reserve Imperial IPA
A nice mix of pine and citrus with some stinky fruitiness. Light grapefruit and some sweet peach. The mid palate balances very well, and the finish is tasty and full of gentle bitterness. Medium body. It's a bit of a hop bomb at first, but goes mild quickly and has a lovely range of fruit flavors.

Maine Beer Lunch
The hard-to-find beer has a massive piney and fruity nose, which just touches light manure. Medium straw color. A hop attack initial, with rounded caramel and peaches and grass. The finish has gentle, extended hoppiness. Medium body. Great aroma and good balance. Love it!

The Bruery White Chocolate
This is a wheat wine with a complex nose of light chocolate, vanilla, strained peaches, powdered sugar, and fumes. Medium straw color, with no head. A sweet milky initial, with some tangy oranges and pineapple. Mild sweetness in mid palate (from the wheat?), and then chocolate and vanilla drop out. It finishes with a bit of allcohol. burn and some fruity sweetness. Not really recognizable as a wheat wine. But full of marvelous flavors. Great.

8 Wired Batch 18 - Barrel Aged Imperial Stout
A big chocolately nose, with dark sugar, some barrel notes, licorice, and fumes. A deep brown color with ruby edges. The initial has lots of chocolate and highly roasted coffee. The chocolate and bittering intensify in mid palate and then settle out. Thge finish is rich and smooth. Very good! Thanks to Al, who brought it from New Zealand.

BFM Abbaye de Saint Bon-Chien 2011
This rare Belgian has a supremely sour nose, with some prunes and light sauerkraut. Fair to moderate sourness in the initial, with some apples and sweet dark fruits. The finish is wonderfully smooth. Well-modulated sour flavors, and the aroma is great.

Grassroots Arctic Saison
A collaboration saison from Hill Farmstead and Anchorage Brewing. It has medium dium funk in a bready nose, with some refined sewage and grapefruit zest. Cloudy light straw color with a creamy head. Moderately tangy initial of soured pears and peaches with a sweet backing. Light tasty dry finish. Well-made and somewhat well-mannered stuff. The barnyard is there but we're not really inside the barn.

BFM 225 Saison
This was my top beer of the day. Tart and huge barny nose, sauerkraut. Cloudy amber color, with a creamy head and great lacing. Biting tart sournessand some peaches, cucumbers, and tobacco. A liight acid attack in mid palate. The finish is smooth and the fruit sweet in the final. Medium body, with a great mouthfeel. Runs a full range of flavors -- yogurt to pine needles to fruit to .... Great stuff. And big thanks to Takahara, who brought it.