Friday, July 18, 2014

King Street Imperial Stout is Coming...in Cans!

Picture courtesy of IntuitionAleWorks.com
Intuition Ale Works sent out information about upcoming events that will help to kickoff the release of their popular King Street Imperial Stout which, for the first time, will be canned.

King Street Imperial Stout will be released in four packs on August 2nd for $11. These cans will only be released in the taproom, so you better make plans to head on over the the brewery. And check Intuition's Facebook events page for updated information.

For those (like me) who just can't fathom waiting until August 2nd to get your hands on one of Jacksonville's finest brews, there is a special opportunity for you on Monday, July 28. Intuition will be hosting a special Four Pack for Jack dinner event featuring Senator Jack Latvala. Senator Latvala has been a huge advocate to the Florida beer scene. This dinner is a great opportunity for beer fans to come and meet the Senator and give him your personal thanks for all that he does. Oh yeah, the ticket to the event includes a four pack of King Street Imperial Stout.

For more information on the dinner with Senator Latvala, and to purchase tickets, click here.

Monday, July 14, 2014

A Toast to Ezri

Every good and perfect gift is from above.
 James 1:17


Three years ago, I knew nothing about being a father. I thought I knew something. I had been teaching middle school for a few years, classroom management and student relationships came easy. So when my wife and I decided we wanted to start building our family, I was fairly confident in my ability.

The funny thing about fatherhood is it can bring you down while building you up. Since having our first daughter in 2011, I have been humbled numerous times as a dad...realizing my many faults and how, more often than not, my wife is way better at this than I am (seriously, I have plenty of examples). But I am a better person today than I was three years ago, and that is entirely due to the beautiful chaos that is called raising children.

I know, I know. This site is supposed to be all about beer. It is, sort of. Every now and then, I like to peel back the curtains a little and let you all see the person, the real person, behind all the beer bloggin' good times. You see, the tagline to this site has always been, "Good News. Craft Brews." As far as I'm concerned, having a baby is some pretty good news! But don't worry, I promise to mention good brews in this post too! And I'll even include a picture or two!

If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you know that my wife and I have been expecting another baby girl to join our family. We found out last October that we would soon be joined by a third baby girl, and for those of you who are counting, that makes up a family composition of three girls ages 3 and under. I am vastly outnumbered. Even our dog is a female.

Back to the baby story. Kiera was due on July 6, and when July 9th rolled around, it was time to issue an official eviction notice and get the baby on its way. We rolled into the hospital at 6am ready to go. As you can see below, Kiera entered the hospital with a fully-cooked baby in that belly. Times up. There's no more room. Time to come out!

Kiera was filled with excitement as we walked to Labor and Delivery

In total, Kiera spent just under 12 hours laboring. I actually left the hospital at 4pm because things didn't seem to be progressing at all. And just like that, I received a call at 5pm telling me it was go-time and Kiera was about to have the baby. I returned to the hospital room at 5:15pm...just in time; 20 minutes later, at 5:35pm, my wife and I welcomed Ezri, our newest member to the family.

Fun fact: Ezri means "my help" in Hebrew and is the female derivative of the Old Testament Biblical author, Ezra.

Ezri, just hours after being born

After two days in the hospital, we were all cleared to go home! This news was particularly good as I don't think I could've endured another night on the hospital bouch (bed + couch = bouch). Everyone just assumes the women have it the worst when it comes to giving birth, but have you seen the beds they provide for dads? (Please God, don't let my wife read this).

Getting to come home means one thing: Celebratory beer! In this case, I chose two beers with which to honor the birth of Ezri. The first was Westvleteren XII. For those who don't know, Westy 12 is considered, by some, to be the best beer in the world. This probably has more to do with its rarity than actual flavor, although this is definitely a world-class beer. I had been holding onto this bottle since the one and only commercial release in the US (2012). I can't think of a better reason to open such an acclaimed beer than the arrival of a new baby girl!


The second celebratory beer was Funky Buddha's Maple Bacon Coffee Porter. Maple. Bacon. Coffee. Beer. What more does one need to maintain a happy life? This beer is just incredible. Amazing balance of flavors, smooth, and simply delicious. Easily one of the best beers I've had this year. Maybe ever. Big thanks to Floribrew for sharing this one with me. Cheers, buddy!


So, there you have it. That's our baby story. It's been a week filled with emotion, joy, and jubilee. Ezri is nothing short of a gift from God, and we are honored and blessed to have her. When you hear people talking about watching the "miracle of birth," that really is a correct way to describe the process. Despite the doctors, nurses, monitors, and tubes, there is something divine about seeing your child come out of the womb and take that first breath. It's simply incredible. It's a gift from God.
My wife kept her smile throughout the entire delivery!
Time to cheers! Join me in raising a glass and toasting to Ezri, the newest member of our family, and a future craft beer aficionado!

Proud Papa!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Pontificator

Brewery: Karbach Brewing Co.
Location: Houston, TX
Style: Smoked Doppelbock
ABV: 8%
Beer Apostle' Grade: B+

I often show love to Texas breweries on this site for two reasons: 1) I lived in Houston for 5 years, and 2) it's the place where I experienced my craft-beer-conversion (I am forever indebted to Saint Arnold's Spring Bock and Oktoberfest beers!).

Karbach Brewing opened at the tail end of my stay in Houston, preventing me from really getting to know them as a local brewery. Fortunately, I've had several opportunities to try their beer, even after moving to Florida, thanks to the Texas-sized generosity of the folks I left behind.

This particular bottle was sent to me by David, one of the Sales and Marketing guys at Karbach. I just can't speak highly enough about how classy these guys are, and am thankful for their generosity with this one. Cheers to good people who make good beer!

Speaking of the beer...I had never had Pontificator before this tasting, but had heard plenty of good things. I have one friend in Texas who swears by this beer and almost refuses to drink anything else.

Pontificator is a smoked doppelbock. Doppelbocks are strong and malty German lagers that are generally big-bodied beers with little-to-no bitterness. The smoked characteristic of this particular doppelbock comes from malts that Karbach smoked on some Cherry-wood. This should provide a bit of  dry and smoked flavor throughout the beer.

Appearance: Deep dark brown. A thick creamy head forms as this beer is poured into the glass.

Aroma: Pontificator gives off a sweet caramel scent that is accompanied by substantial smokiness. I also detect brown sugar and bready malts.

Taste: Similar to the nose, this beer prominently features the smoked malts, giving the beer a "meaty" flavor which helps to balance the equally prominent sugary notes. While the malt backbone is sweet, it's not overly done. There's raisin, brown sugar, fig, burnt caramel, and...is that BACON? I doubt any bacon was used in the brewing process, but let's go with it and move forward.

Mouthfeel: Pontificator is thick and chewy, full-bodied, complex, and medium carbonated.

Overall: This is an excellent beer for the style. Truth be told, I am not a huge fan of smoked beer. Sometimes the smoke is overdone and takes away from the other flavors. However, Karbach has done a nice job of maintaining balance and order in Pontificator. The smoke is a key player, but it never really trumps the dark fruit and caramel sweetness that hit nicely on the tongue.

Again, I want to thank the guys over at Karbach for sending this beer for me to sample. I thoroughly enjoyed Pontificator and hope to try more soon!

This is my third review of a Karbach brew! To see the others, click here!

Thanks for reading the Beer Apostle and for supporting craft beer! Join in on the discussion by following me on Twitter and Facebook! Cheers!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Best of Beer Apostle: June 2014

Alright, folks, It's that time again! As we approach a sun-soaked July, let's take a few minutes to glance back at the top articles from June. The three posts below were the most read, tweeted, liked, and clicked posts from the Beer Apostle blog.

Cheers and happy reading!

#3: Grasslands Big Cypress Brett IPA
It's hard to believe this is my twelfth review of a Grasslands brew, and the third time I am reviewing a Big Cypress iteration! It's been an absolute blast covering Gabe Grass' journey as he gets set to officially open the doors of Grasslands Brewing Co. Over the last year, I have been fortunate enough to be on the receiving end of Gabe's experimental and innovative batches. I am not sure why he's entrusted a schmuck like me with such a high honor, but am thankful nonetheless!




New Holland's Black Tulip is a Belgian Tripel that was first released in '98. It might be hard to imagine, but back then, waaayy back in the 90s, craft beer wasn't really all that popular, and Belgian beers were better for...well, Belgium! But New Holland stayed its course and now produces one of the more respected Tripel ales on the market.





#1: Sourcing Suds: Dahlia's Pour House
Dahlia’s is located off King Street, in a historic building in the heart of Riverside’s booming “Beer District.” Strictly a beer bar, Dahlia’s has one of the largest selection of beer in Jacksonville, boasting 85 taps and over a hundred different cans and bottles. And if that’s not enough, they are currently the only bar with a selection of meads on tap!
 

Thanks for reading the Beer Apostle and for supporting craft beer! Join in on the discussion by following me on Twitter and Facebook! Cheers!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Sourcing Suds: Grape and Grain Exchange


'Sourcing Suds' is a monthly column I write for Buzz Magazine acknowledging a locally owned beer joint that's serving up locally brewed beer. The people and places pouring for us are what make the craft beer community what it is. Join me each month as I highlight some of the great places and beer found right here in Jacksonville!

Source: Grape & Grain Exchange

During the prohibition years, "speakeasies" referred to bars and establishments that illegally sold alcohol. Such places were secret and often hidden. Only people in-the-know knew where to find these places. And people literally had to speak easy, or quietly, about them for fear of being caught and arrested.
A sliding bookshelf reveals a "hidden" entryway to the Speakeasy

Luckily, prohibition ended in 1933, and a modern-day speakeasy often refers to a retro-style bar. Jacksonville has its very own retro parlour and speakeasy, and it's located right in the heart of the San Marco shopping and dining district. Grape & Grain Exchange (GGX) opened in November of 2012 and has been providing Jacksonville with craft beverages ever since.

When asked about the focus on "craft beverages," owner, Bob Smith replied, "Craft has been an often over-used and slightly ambiguous term lately, but I look at craft the same way Webster does."

Webster's Dictionary defines craft as the following:

1craft

 noun \ˈkraft\
: an activity that involves making something in a skillful way by using your hands
: a job or activity that requires special skill
GGX not only provides craft beer, wine, and spirits, but customers who visit will experience the "craft" of bar tending and serving as well. "When people come to The Grape and Grain Exchange we want them to feel at home, and we want them to leave feeling like they just learned something useful no matter how long their stay. I like to think of GGX as the classroom and The Parlour Speakeasy as the stage. You can come and learn about craft beverages in The Grape and Grain Exchange and then see them in practice in The Parlour," added Smith.

Owner, Bob Smith, pours a pint of Cigar City White Oak Jai Alai

If you're looking for an authentically craft experience, Grape & Grain is an absolute must! "The idea of craft beverages is already super popular, but you would be surprised how many people still feel intimidated by it. We try to take the intimidation out of the equation, basically, booze should be fun," exclaimed Smith.

GGX carries a large variety of hand-crafted, small batch liquors
This retro-style parlour and speakeasy offers a true variety of craft beverages. There are hand-distilled liquors, local wines, and of course, craft beer. At the time of my visit, GGX had Cigar City's White Oak Jai Alai on tap. One of my favorites from the Tampa brewery.

Suds: Cigar City White Oak Jai Alai

Cigar City, in many respects, is the godfather brewery of Florida. Thanks to their Hunahpu's Imperial Stout and Jai Alai IPA, Cigar City was one of the first local breweries to put Florida on the map, and has garnered national respects and accolades over the past several years.

White Oak Jai Alai takes the original IPA and ages it on American White Oak. The wood adds a nice smoothness to the beer, bringing hints of vanilla and oak to the otherwise citrusy and tropical IPA. I pick up grapefruit, apricot, orange, and a hint of coconut. While the White Oak does mellow the hop flavors a tad, there's still plenty of hop notes to please the average IPA-lover. White Oak Jai Alai finishes with a citrus kick, sweet tropical flavors, and mild hop-bitterness.

The Grape and Grain Exchange is open Tuesday - Sunday 12pm-12am. The speakeasy opens at 5pm and typically features local jazz and blues artists.

Mark your Calendar: GGX hosts beer and liquor tastings on the last Friday of every month. These events are first-come-first-served and require a small fee of just $10 to participate.

Thanks for reading the Beer Apostle and for supporting craft beer! Join in on the discussion by following me on Twitter and Facebook! Cheers!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

21st Amendment Brew Free or Die IPA


Brewery: 21st Amendment Brewing
Location:San Francisco, CA
Style: English India Pale Ale
ABV: 7%
Beer Apostle' Grade: B

West Coast IPAs sometimes get mislabeled for being "all hops and no balance." While there's a time and place for everything on the IPA spectrum, I generally seek IPAs that have a nice malt foundation to help digest some of the bitter hop flavors.

Brew Free or Die IPA was recommended to me by a friend who knows what I like. I rarely turn down an opportunity to try a new beer, so I quickly took him up on the offer!

Appearance: The design on the can is patriotic and fun. I'd like to think the artwork on the can and his country. The beer pours a pale yellow with a nice creamy head. 
captures the raw emotion and passion that every American craft beer drinker feels about his beer

Aroma: Fruit odors with a mild malt presence. The hop aroma provides a pleasant dose of grapefruit and earthy notes.

Taste: The citrus hits the palate first, followed by a bready and caramel malt backbone. The back of the palate contains some lemon zest, a dry earthiness, and more sweet caramel flavors. 

This is a well-balanced IPA. Sessionable. I enjoyed the paleness of this beer. It's bready with a nice blend of hops and malt that make this beer quite drinkable.

Special shout out to Ryan for sending me this can to check out! Keep 'em coming, buddy!


Thanks for reading the Beer Apostle and for supporting craft beer! Join in on the discussion by following me on Twitter and Facebook! Cheers!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Maumee Bay Amarillo Brillo Double IPA


Brewery: Maumee Bay Brewing Co.
Location: Toledo,OH
Style: Double India Pale Ale
ABV: 8.5%
Beer Apostle' Grade: A

I received this bottle from a friend who lives in Perrysburg, Ohio, just a few minutes outside of Toledo. He had been talking up some of the local beer in the area and was kind enough to send me a few to try.

I had to look up Maumee Bay Brewing Company because, in full disclosure, I hadn't ever heard of them. This brewery opened in 1995 and is most known for their Buckeye Beer (I am a Michigan fan...but I'll let this one go).

Amarillo Brillo is brewed with three different hops, but the beer features the Amarillo hop most prominently. This is the brewery's first release of a DIPA.

Appearance: The beer pours a bright orange color that's quite cloudy and leaves a thick white head.

Aroma: Sweet fruits and caramel resonate on the nose. I get some pineapple and other candied fruits. There's also a dankness to the smell. Nothing overly funky or pungent. It's actually quite pleasant and appealing.

Taste: Wow! I am just impressed with this beer from little ol' Toledo! The flavor begins with pine, citrus, and resin that smacks you in the face. It's a hop-bomb for sure, but Amarillo Brillo is accompanied with sticky-sweet malt and caramel notes that are lip-smacking and pleasing. The finish is piney and dry despite leaving the throat and tongue coated with that malt stickiness.

Mouth: This beer is thick and juicy! It's syrupy and a bit oily on the palate. Big body to go with the big flavor!

Overall: Well done, Maumee! This is a quality DIPA! I'm pleasantly surprised and wishing I received more than one bottle of this beer.

Amarillo Brillo is everything I am looking for in a double IPA. It brings a ton of hops (101 IBUs to be exact), and has some of the pre-barleywine characteristics that are to be expected with the style.

Thanks for reading the Beer Apostle and for supporting craft beer! Join in on the discussion by following me on Twitter and Facebook! Cheers!