Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Prepare to be Torpedoed into Hopland

I just got off the phone with Lukas Liquor in MO (near 135th & State Line). They're getting Sierra Nevada's Torpedo "two weeks out". Mark your calendar, boys and girls - two weeks isn't long. Gomer's in Midtown took my name & number and will call me when they know they'll have it. Apparently I was the 2nd person to call about it today. Royal in both Brookside and on 103rd didn't know when they'd get it in.

Torpedo is an "Extra IPA"

7.4% ABV
IBUs around 78-80
Bittering hops: Magnum
Finishing hops: Magnum, Crystal, Chinook.

Torpedo: Magnum, Chinook, Citra

More info here and here.

On the Citra hops, sierranevadabill says this on

As far as we know Torpedo will be the first bottled beer EVER to include Citra hops, widely available or otherwise.

We are using Citra in the torpedo because it is not only a really unique flavored hop but also has a ton of alpha-acid...I think 12% don't quote me though. The flavor os somewhere in between the crazy-tropical mango flavor I described, but if used too much, Citra can crank out an intense "catty" flavor... Like Simcoe on steroids.

As the previous poster stated, with a late hop addition, the hops are still subjected to hot wort, therefore, extracting some bitterness. That is, not necissarily why we're not using there, though. i think I mentioned earlier, that there ar only about 3 acres of this hop anywhere in the world. There just isn't that much of it to go around. I was in our hop freezer this aftyernoon, and we have a solid 250lb bale. I think that's it. Total. End of story.

We are using citra in a way to get the most bang for the buck, so to speak, and blending it in with many different hop varieties in the Torpedo for added hop complexity.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Not Quite a Slam Dunk

We went to Flying Saucer on Friday night, the objective being to get some food and a pint or two of Bells' new Hopslam Imperial IPA

I love Bell's Brewing. Their stouts are great, Two Hearted is a wonderful IPA, their Old Ale is delicious, their Winter White is always a favorite... but the Hopslam was honestly a bit disappointing. The citrusy-grapefruity flavor was nice, but overall it was just way too sweet. Lots of honeysuckle and fruit flavor overwhelmed the predominance of the hops, likely an effort to balance the beer. I had a hard time finishing my one goblet, and that's saying something given how much I love an over-the-top IPA. I just don't like drinking hop syrup. 

Most of the reviewers on, however, love the beer.  If you tend to find yourself agreeing with them, you'll probably like it. My own preferences lean more toward the less sweet imperials, such as Rogue's I2PA or Avery's Maharaja (or, if we could get them out here, Dogfish Head's 90 minute, Stone's Ruination, or Moylan's Moylander).  Hopslam reminded me of a slightly less intense Dogfish Head 120 minute. 

It's worth trying, and Flying Saucer gives you an opportunity to do so without having to commit to an entire six-pack. Gomers in Midtown & Royal do not have Hopslam (as of 1/23) but Lukas off 135th does. Due to the limited availability of the beer, they're only allowing purchase of one 6-pack per customer. At $16 each, I'm not sure it's worth picking up more than that. I may pick one up just to compare to my experience of it on tap - and perhaps to keep a bottle or two to compare to next year's batch.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

My Emancipation Proclamation

Sunday was a quiet & lazy day for us, one that turned into a mini beer tour of eastern Kansas. 

A coworker of mine mentioned on Saturday afternoon that 75th Street had a Belgian Pale Ale on cask, but by the time we got there on Sunday it was gone (no surprise). I was hoping they'd at least have it on tap, but alas - they did not. I spoke to the bartender who informed me that it will be available again in early February. 

A while ago, John mentioned the High Noon Saloon & Brewery in Leavenworth, KS. We decided to take a trip on over to check it out. We both started out with a pint of their Rough Rider Pale Ale, which won a Silver in the '04 World Beer Championships. We also ordered some lunch (me: grilled cheese; John: burger). I also tasted their Raspberry Wheat, which won gold at the '98 GABF, and is made with Oregon raspberries. I'm not a big fan of American Wheat or fruity beers (save Bells' Cherry Stout), but this one's actually pretty good. It's nice and dry but with just a hint of sweetness. The raspberries lend some tartness to the beer as well, rounding it out nicely. 

Overall, the food & beer were good and satisfying, but not remarkable. The food menu does have a lot of options, which is a plus. Burgers, chicken fried chicken, steak, chops, salads, sandwiches... Given that smoking is prevalent in the saloon, and cigars are sold in the bar, I probably won't be returning soon. It is, however, worth a trip just to visit and support. And, the VA hospital on K-7 out there is impressive to see, even just from the roadside.

We hopped back onto K-7, on to I-70, and over to Free State. They have a new Pale Ale on tap that is wonderful. The Free State Emancipation Pale Ale is a deliciously hoppy pale ale that gives me hope that one day we might see a good, hoppy IPA born out of the midwest. It was hoppy and glorious! Great balanced mouthfeel, reasonably malty without being overtly so, and hoppy from initial aroma to after-taste. It was a perfect way to wash down the chips & salsa we were snacking on. Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful. I had a John Brown Ale after that and, though I quite like it, I couldn't stop thinking about the Emancipation. So, I ordered a 10oz glass of Emancipation to wrap up the day. 10 little ounces of delicious. Thank you, Columbus hops, and thank you Free State.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Boulevard Imperial Stout, cont'd

I called Lukas Liquor off 135th (around State Line/Wornall) this morning and they verified that they do have Boulevard's Imperial Stout. I talked to their beer manager and he is going to call their distributor on Monday to find out if they can get Sierra Nevada's Torpedo. I'll post a note mid next week with an update.

Go forth and shop!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Happiness is an Imperial Stout

John and I had dinner at the Foundry tonight, starting the evening off with a couple of glasses from Kansas City's only keg of Left Hand's Smokejumper. It's fantastic - I highly recommend getting a glass before it's gone. This is a smoked imperial porter done right - Smokey, smooth, creamy, bitter, and chocolatey, it's wonderful. 

We went to Gomer's in midtown after our visit, in search of Sierra Nevada's brand new Torpedo, with no success. They also did not have Boulevard's latest special release, the Imperial Stout. They do, however, have several bottles of the Saison-Brett. According to a coworker of mine, they recently found 5 cases of it in the back they did not realize they had. Nice find.

We hopped back into the car and trekked on down to Royal Liquors off State Line, looking for Torpedo and the Imperial Stout. 50% success isn't bad - we picked up Royal's last two 750ml bottles of Boulevard's Imperial Stout as well as a mixed 6-pack. We got home a few minutes later and popped open the stout.

Appearance - black, nice brown head, heavy on the lacing
Aroma - sweet, strong alcohol smell, oakey
Mouthfeel - soft, creamy, almost custard-like. 
Taste - initially bitter, up-front aggressive dark chocolate, followed by a raisin sweetness, and ending with lingering hops.

Boulevard used malted barley, wheat, oats, rye, and spelt in this brew. Supposedly, spelt lends a pillowy mouthfeel to beer. If that's truly the case, its presence is possibly noted. (Who's to say, though, if that's the oats or wheat instead.)

This is without a doubt my favorite Boulevard beer to date. I enjoyed the BBQ quite a bit, but it seemed like it needed a bit more time to age. Same with the Saison-Brett (and to a greater extent). The stout is perfect right now, right out of the bottle. And right in my glass.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Coming up at Free State

There are a few upcoming beers & events at Free State I wanted to mention. We love this brewery and feel it's worth the drive out to Lawrence, not to mention frequent reference.

Upcoming Beer:
  • Emancipation Pale Ale (1/16)
  • Big Sea ESB (late Jan)
  • Fireside Imperial Pils (early Feb)
They're also hosting a brewer's banquet, where they're pairing food and beer. The beer is from Free State as well as other breweries. They have more information about the banquet here and tickets are available for purchase at their online store.

They also currently have an imperial stout and the John Brown on tap (which I love), in addition to some usual suspects (wheat, ad astra, copperhead, oatmeal stout). Prost!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Two (somewhat) new brews at 75th Street

Color me impressed.

After reading a beer sort of girl's post about 75th Street's Chocolate Stout, we decided to stop by for lunch on Saturday and see for ourselves all about this caucophony of chocolate. I have to be honest - I expected a pretty sweet chocolatey stout, almost like Young's Double Chocolate only not quite as good.

Instead, what I got was a pint of delicious stout that had a wonderful bitter chocolate flavor to it. While its richness convinced me to drink only one pint of it, I thoroughly enjoyed that pint. Mouthfeel was right about where an American Stout should be - a bit soft and velvety, but not too fluffy. The chocolate flavor was not sweet at all, but imparted a gentle bitterness from initial sip to aftertaste. It was, in fact, reminiscent of good dark chocolate.

I highly recommend their chocolate stout, and am even more disappointed now that I missed it on Firkin Friday. Now more than ever, I'm looking forward to their Imperial Stout in February.

We also sampled Dan of Gone Mild's Triple Sugar Tripel, which we tried with initial reservation due to a suspicion it would overwhelm us with sugary sweetness. I was delighted to be wrong about the Tripel; this is a fantastic beer. Well done, Dan! It's appropriately attenuated for a tripel, giving off just a hint of sweetness, the warming effect of a tripel, just a hint of hoppiness, and a great lingering Belgian-yeast aftertaste.

My only disappointment is that there was nothing in the brewery (that I saw) giving Dan any sort of recognition, or even mentioning that this beer was the winner of their annual homebrewers' competition. Hopefully this was just my oversight, and appropriate recognition was given.

Friday, January 9, 2009

DeProef is in the beer

In 2007, brewers from Port Brewing in Southern California took a field trip to Belgium and developed a beer with De Proef Brouerij. They took concepts from two fantastic beer styles - West Coast American IPA and Belgian Strong Ale - to come up with a Reserve Signature Ale.

We picked up a bottle of this magical beverage this evening at Royal. I have seen it before and passed it by, selecting other beers before it. Why, I can't tell you. This is a fantastic beer.

The aroma is immediately hoppy, bordering on pungent. The citrus really comes through, reminding me of the bitter pith of an orange. Initial taste is bitter hops, followed by a sweet caramel maltiness, followed by warmness. It's not too sweet, and is definitely predominantly hoppy. Now this is what I miss about west coast beer. The Brett is definitely present, but well-balanced and not too overwhelming.

Overall, this is a fantastic Belgian IPA. It has the hoppiness of a west coast IPA, the maltiness of a Belgian strong ale, and the funky tartness of the Brettanomyoces. Highly recommended for anyone who has a love of hops, a love of Belgian ale, and - best of all - a love of funk.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Kansas City Brewing Co?

We were at Barley's in Shawnee the other night, at the bar. The bar itself is quite nice, decorated with scattered beer labels covered by a thick lacquer. Most of the labels are retro, but some of them are relatively modern. One label is for Yardbird's, a golden ale that 75th Street brewing used to make (in the 90s, from what I can tell). 

The address on the label was right - 520 W 75th St. But the logo and name of the brewery were different. The logo had some barley stalks around some buildings (if I recall correctly), and the name of the brewery was "Kansas City Brewing Co."

I've Googled around this morning, looking for indications of a change in name or ownership, but can't find a thing. Perhaps some of the native KCers can help me out. Was 75th Street once named Kansas City Brewing Co? Did they used to package their beer? Was this a fake label? Was this something that was made when 75th Street Brewing was just a twinkle in the founder's eye? Enquiring minds want to know!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Later, Gator

We went to Barley's in Shawnee for dinner & a couple of beers tonight. I enjoyed a lovely Grimbergen Abbey Ale & a Great Divide Titan IPA. While deciding what to get, I sampled both the Bitch Creek ESB and Abita Andygator. Now, I generally like Abita's brews and highly recommend Turbodog. Andygator, however... I'm inclined to wonder what they were thinking. Helles doppelbock? I'm thinking light in color but malty, dry, a bit boozy.

It's somewhat light & very clear, like a German lager (a bit darker than a helles). The initial taste is a bit cloying, almost honey-like. Then the sweetness lingers... and keeps lingering... There's minimal hop aroma and almost an adjunct aftertaste. It was interesting. Abita's website describes it as having a "dry finish" but I didn't find that at all. It's possible it was a bad keg, but given the reviews on, I don't think so. Someone described it perfectly - "tastes mostly like sweetened water."

Barley's did, however, have Ommegang's Chocolate Indulgence on tap. Get it while you can - this is one delicious brew.

Happy Brew Year!

We rung in 2009 on a quiet note this year. Unlike last year, we actually managed to stay up until midnight... We bought some delicious treats at Whole Foods and drank Sierra Nevada's original Harvest Ale and Rogue's Chocolate Stout. John had also picked up a bottle of Achel, but we didn't get to it.

I've been interested in trying the Harvest ale for a while. When we went to Toronado in San Francisco, I had a pint of the Estate Harvest and it was delicious - a nice fresh spicy hop-forward ale at 69 IBUs, with a good malt balance. It's hopped only with hops that the brewery grew on premises (hence, Estate). The original Harvest was similar, though it didn't seem as spicy as the Estate harvest from what I remember. Now I just have the Southern Hemisphere Harvest to try.

While chowing down on our treats and enjoying our beer, we listened to a few episodes from the Brewing Network. While their webcasts are geared toward homebrewers, even the non-homebrewer who knows a bit about the brewing process would appreciate the shows.

The Sunday Session is a general show about homebrewing & craft beer with quite a bit of humor and often features guests, including head brewers from well-known breweries such as Stone, Rogue, BJ's, Gordon Biersch, New Glarus, Dogfish Head, and others. These guys get a little wacky, though, and sometimes it takes a while to wade through banter to get to the meat of the show. It's pretty humorous, though, and if you have some time to dedicate to listening, it's worth checking out.

We spent most of our time listening to the Jamil Show, which is still funny but spends a larger portion of the show talking about the brewing process, tips, brewing to style, and other process-related information. Even if you're not a brewer, if you know a little about the process this is an interesting show. They dedicated each show to a BJCP judging style, going over characteristics of the style and how to achieve them in the brewing process. They dispel myths of the styles, discuss common features and recommended ingredients, and explain how certain characteristics of the styles are achieved.

These shows are worth listening to, for anyone interested in homebrewing or the brewing process. They're also on Facebook and send announcements every so often. Check them out!