Thursday, March 10, 2016

Julius-Tree House Brewing Company

I received a message recently from Eric of Nine State Brewing. He asked if I had ever tried anything from Tree House Brewing Co. I explained that I hadn't but would love the opportunity and, just like that, I received a packaged containing these four beers. Eric's only request was that, in return, I provide my readers with honest and in-depth reviews of each beer. Challenge accepted!

After doing some research on each of the four beers, I decided to start with Julius and work my way through each one, posting a review as I go, based on the hop profiles of each beer,taking into consideration the beers that should be consumed fresh.
BreweryTree House Brewing Co.
Location: Monson, MA
Style: American IPA
ABV: 6.8%
Beer Apostle's Final Grade: A+

Julius is Tree House's flagship American IPA. Julius has a perfect score of 100 on both BeerAdvocate and RateBeer, and has become one of the more sought-after American IPAs as of late. Just a quick glance on any of the beer trading forums and you'll quickly see there is a considerable buzz around Julius. However, I will state for the record: I am not one to fall in line with the hype around beers. Without naming specific labels, there are several "whales" that dominate the ISO forums that, in my humble opinion, are not worth the trouble people go through just to get their hands on a beer that may not be much (if any) better than the beers brewed at your local microbrewery. With that being said, I trusted the endorsements given by many who have tried Julius and was eager to give it a taste for myself.

As soon as I opened the can, the aroma from Julius instantly fill the room. Just as if I had lit a candle, the kitchen filled with vibrant scents of citrus and tropical fruits. There was also a considerable amount of orange notes detected.

Julius pours a deep haziness. This is as cloudy as I have seen an IPA. The color is spot-on: a beautiful orange hue to match the theme and label.

Complex layers of citrus and tropical fruits attach the palate. Julius is just as sweet and juicy as advertised, and full of oranges--both fruit and rind flavors. But for as juicy and fruity as Julius is, there's also a good amount of bitterness that balances this beer. I have seen some reviews labeling Julius as sweet with little bitterness, but I would have to disagree. I get a good amount of bitterness, but it's just not overpowering. As for a malt profile, there's not much of one. Julius is juicy, tropical, and citrusy.
Overall, Julius is as near a perfect IPA as I have tried. In many ways, I find this to push boundaries on what my archetype of an American IPA is or was. Julius' juiciness is unmatched. And the amount of fresh orange flavors that are packed into this beer is impressive. As far as I can tell, Julius deserves the credit and even the hype. It's refreshing and delicious, and I wish I would have received more than just one can.

To see more from the Beer Apostle, be sure to check out the Archives section! Have questions or feedback, contact me and share your thoughts! And don't forget to join in on the discussion by following  on Twitter and Facebook!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Marker 48 Brewing

I started following Marker 48 about a year ago. They hadn't opened their doors for business yet, but they were already making their mark in the community. I first met owners, Maurice and Tina Ryman, at a beer festival and charity event. Their booth was packed, the line to try their beer was long, and the Rymans made an effort to talk with every person who came to sample their beer. I must have tried dozens of beer that night and met more people than I could remember, but I didn't forget Marker 48. They had made an impression on me as I suspect they did for others. That impression grew in favor as I followed the construction and building process of the brewery leading up to the grand opening in late-November 2015.

Fast forward to this past weekend when I happened to be in the Brooksville area for Valentine's Day. We made a stop to the brewery and it was the highlight of our weekend.  As I was sitting outside, listening to live music in the Marker 48 beer garden, Maurice and Tina were going from table to table talking with patrons. It was just as I had seen them do months before. They make it a point to talk to the folks who come out to the brewery and I think that makes a world of difference. Drinking at Marker 48 becomes a familiar affair. Judging by the number of strollers, kids, and dogs, I don't think I am the only one who feels that way.

I tried three beers during my visit, and thoroughly enjoyed each one. I started out with Mo Say It, an American pale ale brewed with Mosaic hops. This pale ale has a vibrant aroma and nice tropical fruit flavors. My next beer was the Pine Island IPA, which has become one of my go-to IPAs. Pine Island is an approachable IPA with a balanced malt/hop profile without being aggressively bitter. My last beer was Mermaid's Milk on Nitro. Mermaid's Milk is a beautiful blend of sweet, rich, and roasted flavors. It's a creamy stout that doesn't quite drink like a stout and finishes with just enough lactose sugar.

If personable owners and great beer isn't enough to convince you to visit, the atmosphere of Marker 48 surely will. The interior is beautifully designed with wood finishes and charming features, like the toilet that encourages folks to recycle their beer after they're done using it. The building itself is reclaimed--what used to be a tire and lube shop is now a beer brewing haven. The old garage doors from the lube shop open the taproom and lead patrons into the outdoor beer garden that includes ping-pong, jumbo-sized Jenga, live music, and Adirondack chairs. It's like having a fully operational brewery in the comforts of your own backyard.

On my way out, I noticed this donut-making food truck and couldn't help myself. I order 12 made-to-order donuts that capped off a perfect afternoon.

There's a reason it was recently named by Beer Advocate as one of 2015's best new breweries. It's a must-visit location that has put Brooksville, FL on the beer map.

Marker 48 from the front of the building

Mo Say It Pale Ale

Mermaid's Milk Stout

No caption needed

To see more from the Beer Apostle, be sure to check out the Archives section! Have questions or feedback, contact me and share your thoughts! And don't forget to join in on the discussion by following  on Twitter and Facebook!

Friday, January 22, 2016

Hourglass Brewery to Release Cloudberry Farmhouse Ale

Just a short drive north of Orlando, The Hourglass Brewery of Longwood, FL has been busy. The brewery is set to release Cloudberry Farmhouse Ale on Saturday, January 30. This release is the fourth bottle from the brewery, and the third in as many months. 

According to a statement from the brewery, Cloudberry is the first beer in a line of bottle conditioned farmhouse ales that the brewery has scheduled for release in the near future.

Cloudberries are not a typical fruit that we hear of much in the States, but they are well-known across Europe and considered a delicacy in Norway and Finland. Cloudberries are sometimes used in liqueurs due to their high sugar concentration. The flavor profile of the berry when eaten off the plant is describes as something similar to a sour apple with dry characteristics of a dry Riesling white wine.

Description from the brewery:
Cloudberry Farmhouse Ale is brewed to have a slight tartness from lactobacillus, a dry character from our house saison yeast, and a vinous note from a rest in white wine barrels set the stage for the cloudberries to shine. Lively carbonation from bottle conditioning with champagne yeast give the beer a refreshing effervescence that brings it all together. 

The Hourglass Brewery is open seven days a week. To check them out, visit or their facebook page.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Highland Brewing's West Coast-Style IPA is First of 12 New Beers in 2016

Highland Brewing recently sent me a sample of two of their most recent releases: Highland IPA (a West Coast-Style IPA) and Black Watch (a Double Chocolate Milk Stout). This is the first full review of both beers.

Highland Brewing Company officially released the West Coast-style IPA on Jan. 4 and it is the first of 12 new beers the 22-year-old brewery will debut in 2016.

“Our vision for intentional growth and our talented team inspired the additions of a West Coast IPA and other exciting styles to our portfolio,” said Leah Wong Ashburn, president of Highland Brewing Company. “At the same time, I see Gaelic growing. It’s our workhorse and my go-to beer. The combined strength of classic and new styles, done well, is our future.”

Developed by Head Brewer Hollie Stephenson, the West Coast-style India Pale Ale features American Chinook, Citra and Centennial hops from the Pacific Northwest. A sturdy malt bill frames hints of tropical fruit, lemon rind, grapefruit and dank hop notes. Brilliant and golden in color, the beer finishes resiny, citrusy and dry.

"Highland IPA will be my favorite in the Southeast,” said Stephenson. "There are some good specialty IPAs in North Carolina, but as a year-round offering that is drinkable and edgy, I think Highland IPA is unique. It is assertively bitter, but not overwhelming. The ABV is higher than what you see in a lot of new IPAs, but not so high that you can’t go back for another. For me, Highland IPA is a pint or bottle of what defines a West Coast IPA."

So how is the West Coast-Style IPA? Glad you asked!

Aroma: Vibrant nose full of tropical fruit and perfume-like citrus notes.

Taste: Right away, I get a lot of citrus and lemon zest flavors that lead into a nice malt presence. There's a tropical fruit juiciness that becomes more prominent with each sip. The finish leaves a pleasantly bitter and slightly dry aftertaste.

Overall: This is a well-balanced IPA. Brewer, Stephenson, hit it on the nose with labeling it as, "assertively bitter, but not overwhelming." This is an IPA that I could drink year-round. It's flavorful but not over the top. It's sweet and enjoyable but still very much an IPA. This may be my favorite offering from Highland yet.

Cheers to good beer!

To learn more about Highland Brewing company and the beer they offer, visit

To see more from the Beer Apostle, be sure to check out the Archives section! Have questions or feedback, contact me and share your thoughts! And don't forget to join in on the discussion by following  on Twitter and Facebook!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Hourglass Brewery Announces next bottle release: La Fee Dragee Rum Barrel Aged Christmas Ale

La Fée Dragée Bottle Release
Third bottle release from The Hourglass Brewery available December 19, 2015

Longwood, Florida (December 8, 2015) – The Hourglass Brewery will be releasing its third special release bottle since moving to their new location at 480 S. Ronald Reagan Blvd in Longwood, FL. This is also the second bottle release in as many months from The Hourglass Brewery.

La Fée Dragée is a 9% ABV Belgian Christmas Ale aged in Nicaraguan rum barrels. This holiday beer includes a bevy of delicious dried fruits and spices and bursts with tasting notes of apricots, plums, and Turkish figs.

In French, La Fée means "The Fairy" and Dragée means "Confection." La Fée Dragée, or the sugar plum fairy, has been inexorably linked to the Christmas season since the 1800s when these dancing fairies were immortalized in Tchaikovsky's, The Nutcracker, and Clement Clarke Moore’s idyllic poem, “A Visit from St. Nicholas”. La Fée Dragée is a beer modeled after sugarplum candies befitting any holiday occasion.

Bottles will be available for purchase at the brewery on December 19, 2015
beginning at 11 a.m., along with limited distribution in Orange and Seminole counties. They will be priced at $18 each. Special Holiday 4-packs will also be available: 2 bottles of La Fée Dragée and 2 bottles of Nut Squasher Bourbon Barrel Aged Autumn Ale for $60.

The bottle features label art by Hourglass’ in-house artist and longtime employee, Jeremy Gonzalez.

About The Hourglass Brewery

The Hourglass Brewery is a 10 bbl production brewery in beautiful downtown Longwood, Florida. Currently, the facility is 8,000+ sq/ft and growing with 4,500+ sq/ft dedicated to a state of the art taproom and music venue for locals and tourists. Further expansion in early 2016 will include additional 20 bbl fermenters, a canning line, and a wild ale fermentation room.

Known for making unique specialty brews throughout the year, The Hourglass Brewery also offers a number of flagship ales available year-round. Their extensive barrel fermenting, aging, and wild ale program produces frequent bottle releases, so keep your eyes peeled for the next one soon!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Beersgiving: Pumpkin Beer and Charity Event

Tickets are now available for Beersgiving, a charity beer festival that includes a pumpkin beer contest, over 60 homebrew and craft beers,  live music, raffles, auctions, and more!

Beersgiving is more than just a beer festival, it’s an event to raise money for Jeannie’s Kidney Fund. Jeannie was diagnosed with End Stage Renal Disease, (Kidney Failure) and was on daily dialysis for 9 hours a day, every day. While waiting for a transplant donor, something that could take years and is never a given, her son Eric took matters into his own hands and bravely agreed to donate his kidney to another family in exchange for one given to Jeannie.

On March 4th, 2015, Jeannie received a successful transplant and was on her way to a healthy recovery.
Eric and Jeannie accepting a "Kidney Trophy" at April's Homebrew and BBQ
Beersgiving exists to bring the beer community together to enjoy great locally brewed beer, and to raise awareness and funds to offset the costly medical bills the family has since incurred.

This is the follow-up festival to last April’s “Homebrew and BBQ” event that successfully brought in hundreds of craft beer fans, as well as local homebrewers and craft breweries. The event was one of the most enjoyable beer events I attended all last year. There was great beer, food, music, and there were several brewers on hand who were happy to talk about their craft. 

Beersgiving is expected to draw an even larger crowd, and will have plenty of local brewers on hand as they compete in the pumpkin beer contest. The competition is an exciting addition to the event and gives local brewers an extra incentive to bring some of their best pumpkin-inspired brews. The pumpkin beers will be tasted and critiqued by a panel of four judges, and I am honored to announce that I will be serving as one of the judges at the event.

 All proceeds of this event support Jeannie’s Kidney Fund. To purchase tickets, simply visit:

Ticket includes unlimited samples of over 60 homebrew and craft beers! A turkey dinner will be available as well for purchase. Pumpkin Beer Competition, Live Music, Raffles, Auctions...what's not to love?

Come have a great night out and support a great cause for one of our local residents!The event takes place at Pine St. Pub, Inverness, FL.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Four Beers from Orlando Brewing

A lot has happened since my last post. I've successfully relocated myself and the family to Orlando, where we hope to be for the foreseeable future. Settled and ready to get back at it, I figured it was only appropriate to have my first Orlando-based review come from Orlando's Organic craft brewery: Orlando Brewing.

The brewery is located in an industrial area near downtown Orlando in a fairly unassuming building. The taproom is a dimly lit area (more on that in a minute) with a small bar, a dozen or so tables, and a stage area for live music and entertainment. There is also a back room that provides some more space and an area for darts.

Mariah was the bartender on duty during my visit, and she was quite welcoming, knowledgeable and friendly. After I told her that I was new to the area and this was my first time, she recommended two "flagship" beers, Right on Red and I-4 IPA (both of which I selected to be in my flight sampler).

The dim lighting is the worst part about the taproom and makes it hard to see and appreciate the color and/or clarity of the beers. As you can see from the pictures, it's nearly impossible to gauge the appearance of the beers. I'm sure the lighting works great for the live entertainment that comes through the taproom, but it's really a bummer for someone like me who appreciates more than just the flavor of the beer I'm drinking. But enough about lighting, let's get to the beer.

Right on Red
Mellow and drinkable red ale. Very balanced with some sweetness coming on the front and bitter notes on the back, followed by a bit of dryness. Overall, this is a malty amber ale that's easy to drink is likely a crowd-pleaser. For a flagship ale, this is quite generic and drinkable...but unfortunately, it's also forgettable. Grade:C

I-4 IPA has a citrus kick on the nose and on the front of the palate. I get lots of grapefruit, lemon, and orange zest before the beer mellows out with a smoother finish. There is some lingering hop bitterness, but nothing too strong. The brewery describes this beer as a "Full bodied West Coast style IPA." I have this beer down as a medium-light bodied IPA, but do think the hop profile lends itself nicely to the style. I can see why this is their best selling IPA. Grade: B

Pompous Ass
Released just four weeks prior, Pompous Ass is one of the newest additions to the taplist. And it's one sweet ass beer! Tropical fruit flavors followed by subtle malt notes and finishes with some citrus bitterness. Tropical aroma, sweets, and bitters. As the beer warmed, I got a taste of some Belgian spices that were overshadowed by the initial hop flavors, but not nearly prominent enough to describe this as a Belgian IPA. If you don't mind your IPA being on the sweet side, this is the beer for you. Grade: B

Doble Imperial IPA
Gotta tip the hat to Orlando Brewing for brewing a beer in honor and memory of Tampa Bay Brewing founder John G. Doble. Love seeing some beer love being shared from one brewery to the other. Doble packs a (balanced) punch. The beer is malt-forward, ending with heavy hop notes and booze. Like many Imperial IPAs, this is a full-bodied, full-flavored beer. Doble is balanced without compromising on the malt sweetness or hop bitterness. I found this to be the best beer of the four I tried and the one I would order again. Grade: B+

To see more from the Beer Apostle, be sure to check out the Archives section! Have questions or feedback, contact me and share your thoughts! And don't forget to join in on the discussion by following  on Twitter and Facebook!