Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Green Lion Festival Home Brew Competition


What: Home Brew Competition @ Green Lion Festival 2014
When: October 4th 10am-4pm
Where: Aardwolf Brewery

Mark your calendars, because this is going to be one heck of an event. The Green Lion Festival is an annual event hosted by the U.S. Green Building Council and Aardwolf Brewing Co. The event if free for everyone and will include over 150 local businesses!

This year, the event is getting a pretty cool makeover. The Home Brew Competition will allow local brewers to get in on the action and share their home brew with people at the event. And like any competition, there will be winners and prizes.

The top three brewers (the winners will be chosen by popular-vote) will receive commemorative growlers, engraved for the event, and filled with 64oz of Aardworlf beer! If that's not the coolest trophy ever, then I don't know what is!

Home brewers can register for the competition by signing up below. Please note: registration is free, but brewers must be able to provide at least a 5 gallon batch to ensure there's enough beer for voters to sample. The beer does not need to be kegged; pouring from bottles is completely fine.

Registration ends September 15 and is limited to the first 20 home brewers who sign up.

Home Brew Competition Registration:

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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Ranking the beers from Sierra Nevada's Beer Camp Across America



The Beer Camp series first debuted in May of 2011. Since, Sierra Nevada has released a different variety pack every year, with this year's edition featuring 12 collaboration brews with some of the most notable breweries across America (hence this year's title).

Before you commit to buying this year's Beer Camp, take a look at my quick review of each of the 12 brews that are featured in the pack. I have conveniently ranked them, based on my preferences, and have assigned each a letter grade. Feel free to agree/disagree in the comments section below. Don't be shy.

Here is the list of each beer in order of my preference, from worst to first.


#12:
Myron's Walk Belgian Style Pale Ale, Allagash Brewing Co.

Yeasty aroma mixed with some banana notes. Flavor starts and finishes with yeasty characteristics. Bread and biscuit flavors followed by a strong spice presence. Clove and coriander. I find the beginning of this beer to be better than the finish. The back end of this beer is underwhelming. Dry and flat finish.
Final Grade: C-

#11:
Canfusion Rye Bock, Oskar Blues Brewery


Canfusion is one of two cans that come in the variety pack. The first sip is an initial slap-in-the-face! Rye and pepper explosion. Malt and citrus notes follow the spicy ambush, but at this point, my palate is traumatized. There's definitely a lack of balance here. Overall, this beer is all over the place. Strong rye presence, minimal malt, and mild citrus notes from the hops, this beer leaves my palate pretty canfused. See what I did there?
Final Grade: C

#10:
Tater Ridge Scottish Ale, Asheville Brewers Alliance

 
Deep amber hues. The nose is biscuity with hints of smoke and roasted malts. Flavor is malt-forward with those roasted flavors following. Medium body with an almost syrupy texture. Finish is dry, spicy, and medicinal. I don't really taste any sweet potatoes, which is rather disappointing. Might be similar to 7venth Sun Root Down Stout, a beer in which I didn't detect the sweet potatoes until I tried it again 6 months later.
Final Grade: C+

 #9:
Electric Ray India Pale Lager, Ballast Point Brewing


I am a lager fan, and this is one of the cross-over styles that has been hit or miss for me. And more often than not, it's been a miss. Electric Ray, on the other hand, does a nice job of nailing this style. The initial flavors are pungent, earthy, and fairly intense. But the payoff comes towards the back of the palate where this India Pale Lager showcases a nice malt body that comes with being a lager. It's a bit piney with a semi-sweet caramel malt finish. Surprisingly drinkable for 8.5%.
Final Grade: B- 

#8:
Alt Route Altbier, Victory Brewing Co.


Looks and smells like a dark lager. Nose contains nutty, bready, lager aromas. The taste is grainy with burnt malt flavors (there's really not a lot of sweet notes in this one), with a hoppy bitter taste. The hops bring an earthiness to this beer which go well with the grainy flavors that precede. Looks, smells, and tastes like a lager. This is a beer I could drink plenty of. Would be great with some wings and football!
Final Grade: B

#7:
Chico King Pale Ale, 3 Floyds Brewing Co.


Nice malt aroma mixed with some herbal fragrances. The flavor is a complex balance of malt sugars (burnt sugars) and spicy yeast notes. The back end of this beer opens up into a floral bouquet of hop resin, citrus zest, and toasted malt. Dry finish.
Final Grade: B

#6:
There and Back English-Style Bitter, New Glarus Brewing Co.

Nice malt aroma to start things off. The taste follows the nose at first with caramel and toasted malt flavors, followed by an earthy hop notes that leave the a mild bitterness on the palate. The more I sipped on this, the more I could pick up some fruit flavors on the front of the palate. Not overly complex. Easy to drink. Pretty enjoyable.
Final Grade: B
#5:
Hoppy Pilsner, Firestone Walker Brewing Co.


The beer gives an immediate hop-forward intensity that is citrus and floral. A nice earthy complexity follows the floral notes, and then this torpedo disengages, leaving a light, crisp, and dry finish. Fairly clean on the palate minus a dry bitterness that lingers just a touch too long in my opinion.
Final Grade: B+
#4:
Belgian-Style Blonde Ale, Russian River Brewing Co.


Strong Belgian aromas and flavors here. Nothing shy about this beer. The taste is dominated by strong pepper and coriander on the front of the palate. I pick up banana and bubble gum...lots of bubble gum as the beer travels towards the back of the palate. Overall, this is quite nice. Light and very drinkable. And bubble gum.
Final Grade: B+
#3:
Yonder Bock Tropical Maibock, Cigar City Brewing


Great scent coming from this one! Sweet malt and fruit aromas (peaches and mango, maybe). Flavor follows the nose. Taste starts off with sweet tropical flavors that are almost candy-like on the front of the palate. This is followed by mild spiciness and citrus hops. Light, easy to drink. Dry hop finish.
Final Grade: B+

#2:
Maillard's Odyssey Imperial Dark Ale, Bell's Brewery


Nice rich chocolate malt aroma with hints of coffee. One of the more prominent aromas of any of the beers in the variety pack. The flavor is full of roasted/toasted goodness. Coffee, toffee , and bitter chocolate are easily detectable. Smooth finish with a touch of smoke. I could use a bit more substance on the body, but other than that I really enjoyed this.
Final Grade: A-

#1:
Coffee Milk Stout, Ninkasi Brewing 

Wonderful coffee aroma. I probably couldn't detect that this was beer if I smelled this blindfolded. Flavor follows with a robust dose of coffee, bitter roastiness, and sweet cream notes. Finish lingers with a heavy coffee bitterness. By far the heaviest body in the variety pack. Great milkiness, thanks to the lactose. Hints of chocolate as the beer warms. Very solid tasting beer.
Final Grade: A


Thanks for reading the Beer Apostle and for supporting craft beer! Join in on the discussion by following me on Twitter and Facebook! Cheers! Subscribe to receive every post directly to your email and you'll automatically be entered into every drawing and giveaway we run. Cheers!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Hop on Board with Grasslands' Crowdfunding Campaign!


I have been writing about Grasslands Brewing Company for almost two years now! I've written over a dozen beer reviews, featured many of their pilot batches that will soon be flowing from the taproom, and now is the time to help Grasslands Brewing Co. open their doors (officially)!

Grasslands launched their crowdfunding campaign a few weeks ago with a goal of raising $30,000. The campaign currently has received over 100 backers (I am proud to be one of them) who have pledged a combined amount of more than $15,000! That's some great work, but it's not enough. That's where YOU come in!

Before I lay out my top reasons why you should hop on board with Grasslands' crowdfunding campaign, you must check out the video below!



Here are my top reasons for pledging today...

Reason #5: Rewards!
Who doesn't like to get rewards? The power of incentives is real, people. Remember those shiny gold stickers other people got for doing their homework? Well, here's your opportunity to finally get a reward for doing something right! When you pledge to Grasslands Brewing Co, you're not only helping them get their start, but you'll also receive unique rewards, which can include stickers, t-shirts, exclusive bottles, and even your very own tailgate party! Rewards start for pledges of just $10, and they get bigger and better the more you give. Check out all the rewards by clicking here!

Reason #4: Grasslands is good for the Earth!
Grasslands Brewing Company's slogan is "Earth First Ales." Grasslands is committed to using 100% natural malts, hops and adjuncts.  Additionally, Grasslands will use organic ingredients and recycled materials whenever and however possible. They're conscious of the environment and animal welfare and will utilize environment-friendly and sustainability/conservation-focused business and operation practices in all facets of the brewery. Now, doesn't that give you a whole-lotta warm and fuzzies?

Reason #3: How can you say no to these faces?

I mean look at this lovely couple! They easily win the cutest-couple-to-own-a-brewery award! And the rest of the crew isn't too shabby either!
In seriousness, you're looking at two people who are going all-in to make this company a success. By getting in on the crowdfunding campaign, you're not just giving to a company without a face, you're contributing to the ultimate goals and aspirations that Gabe and Saralynn have set out to accomplish through Grasslands Brewing Company. Think of it this way: If you help them be able to brew good beer, you'll get to drink good beer! It's simple logic.

Reason #2: Grasslands Keeps on Giving!
Hundreds of people have been tasting Grasslands' brews over the past 2 years thanks to the Grasshoppers Review Club! From day one, Grasslands has proven to be a company that puts the patrons and fans first. By joining their crowndfunding campaign, you have a chance to give to a company that's been giving to us. And by doing so, they'll be sure to give some more and send rewards (see reason #5).

Reason #1:You can become an Exclusive Member!
While there are several rewards that are pretty awesome, my favorite is the membership opportunity. For a pledge of just $250, you will be a part of the inaugural Grasshoppers Membership Club. This includes the following during the year of 2015:
  • Access to five limited/special release batches (including the Black Rose Immortal Imperial Stout)
  • 10% off any draft purchases (16 oz or less) in the Grasslands taproom
  • GrassHoppers Membership Club workshirt
  • First right of refusal for 
Don't live in Tallahassee? No problem! One important component of the membership is that you may assign one "Trustee" to your account. This person will be able to pick up your special release bottles in the event you are out-of-town. This is a great option for folks like me who love Grasslands but do not live in Tallahassee!

Well there ya have it. There are plenty of other reasons to support this campaign, but these are my top 5! What are you waiting for? Get involved, pledge, and be a part of the foundational start of Grasslands Brewing Company!

grasslandsbrewery.com

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!