Gluten-free Beer

I think the best part of this post is getting to say gluten-free beer over and over again. Go ahead… try it. Yeah… you liked it, didn’t you? Anyway…. So last night we had dinner at a gluten free restaurant in the West Village, Risoterria. While we were there for the risotto (which was fantastic), Risoterria offered a huge variety of interesting gluten-free menu items. I noticed several gluten-free beers on the menu and thought – what the crap – why not? Thus I bring you today’s review of New Grist from the Lakefront Brewery.
Now I did a good bit of research on this beer. This beer gets a really bad wrap on sites like Beer Advocate and Rate Beer which made me think of a post that Jay Brooks did over at The Brookston Beer Bulletin earlier this week. It was about whether or not having just anybody blogging off about reviews can help or hurt a micro brew. Check it out here, it’s a great editorial. Anyway, I was disappointed at how many people missed the point of this beer. Imagine, my fellow beer lovers, having Celiac Disease. This means you can’t eat any gluten products which includes malt. NO BEER. This beer frees these people to imbibe in this great beverage. So think long and hard about that, before you go bashing this product.
Appearance: Pours a very light golden color with little to no head. Very clear and only a few bubbles.
Aroma: Not much aroma. A bit of citrusy or apple scent, but, of course, no malt aroma.
Taste: While this beer comes off a bit watery, it’s not bad. There isn’t a strong hop flavor or rich maltiness, but it does taste like a beer. There’s a bit of an aftertaste of the rice that New Grist is brewed with, similar to the aftertaste of saki, but nowhere near as strong. If you’re familiar with the taste of sorghum (think cous cous, porridge and molasses), you’ll find it here.
Mouthfeel: Watery, like it’s taste, but very crisp and refreshing.
So in the end, New Grist is never going to be the beer I reach for in times of need. But I think it’s great that those who can’t eat glutens have a beer choice at all, and if this is going to be it, well, it ain’t too shabby.

Local Yokel

local1.jpgYou can call me biased, because I’m a New Yorker, but I am both enamored and fascinated with this beer. Brooklyn Brewery has really hit a home run with this beer. Their latest, the Local 1 is actually a bottle conditioned beer. This means that they put the beer in the bottle pretty much flat, with a bit of special yeast. The yeast then creates carbonation in the bottle. I find this whole process completely fascinating, especially because Brooklyn is the only brewery in the US doing this right now. It’s almost a lost art even in Europe. What this bottle fermenting does is give the beer an added complexity that any beer enthusiast will enjoy.
Appearance: Let’s talk about something beyond just the beer’s appearance. This is what takes this beer over the top. This bottle is a beautiful representation of what this beer is. It’s brewed in a very old European tradition and bottled in a gorgeous old-looking brown bottle that’s debossed with the Brooklyn B’s, topped off with a mushroom-y cork. That’s classic. Then, look at the label. This label is modern-retro. The design has a 40’s kind of feel, yet looks all modern. I adore the way they’ve designed this packaging.
OK, now we can talk about the liquid part of the beer. This beer pours just like a champagne (largely because of that bottle conditioning) – fizzy, with a great big foamy white head. The body is a cloudy gold-amber. The head eventually settles down, but never quite dissipates.
Aroma: I can smell this baby from across the room once I pour it. The beer exudes perfume, herbs, citrus and honey. Most of all I smell a pine aroma and a very slight scent of malt – grain and bread.
Taste: At first sip, this beer is very bitter, like a belgian IPA. The sweet hoppiness hits you up front, then the rich, bready malts come through. The pine flavor coming from the hops sticks with you and is the overall taste in this beer.
Mouthfeel: This beer both pours and tastes like champagne. The carbon fizzes all over your tongue and finishes really dry. There’s an incredible balance of hops, malts and alcohol here. The body is great as well, somewhere between watery and oily. Not too heavy at all. This is a great summer drink.
Overall this was an amazing beer. My only complaint is that for some reason, this beer kicked my butt. It was so easy to drink, and really, 9% alcohol isn’t a lot, but for some reason that alcohol really hit me hard. All that fizz must have gone to my head! Anyway, for more about this beer and it’s style, check out a few resources:
The stye, while an ale, is technically a Saison. Beer Advocate has a great description Saison ales.
Keith Olsen did a great and informative write up about this beer for the Malted Barley Appreciation Society.

The Facts:
ABV: 9%
Original Gravity (Plato): 18.5

Hopped Up

lagunitas.jpgIt’s gotten to the point in my beer-tasting “career” that people think of me and pick up new beers they see. I’m very OK with that. Someone brought me this Lagunitas IPA, brewed in Petaluma, CA. Lagunitas says on their website that this IPA is brewed with “43 different hops and 65 various malts.” That’s a heck of a lot of flavor going on there, so I was ready to taste this sucker.
Appearance: This beer poured with a really big, fizzy white head, which left a lot of lacing. The first glass was a crystal clear ruby brown, but glass #2, the bottom of the bottle, had a lot of yeasty sediment.
Aroma: Considering all of the hops and malts going on in this beer, I didn’t catch a lot of smell. Whether it was my environment (lots of food smells going on when I tried this beer out) or my nose, I’m not sure. I mostly caught some bread and hay scents from the malts. A little bit of hops were present, floral and citrusy.
Taste: In contrast to the weak aroma, this beer was full of good flavor. Bitter hops up front rounded out by a really nice rich malt flavor. I really liked the balance of this beer.
Mouthfeel: Standard IPA mouthfeel for an IPA, watery to oily.
Overall, I must say I really enjoyed this beer, but I wonder if I should try it again soon. I didn’t find it incredibly hoppy or fragrant, whereas most of the reviewers on Beer Advocate found that it was.

The Facts:
ABV: 5.70%
IBU: 45.6
Original Gravity: 1.059

Unearthing A Gruit Ale

I was pleasantly surprised to find a Gruit Ale on one of my visits to New Beer. Gruit is a combination of herbs thatgruit.jpg were used to brew beer before the use of hops. There’s really an extensive and remarkable history to Gruit. The way it tastes, the way it effects you, and even in a social context. You can check it out at Wikipedia for a fairly decent history, or maybe I’ll write more on it later. Anyway… back to Two Druids!
Appearance: Pours with a small head that quickly fades away. There are all sorts of particles swimming around in the body of this ruby/caramel/brown/gold beer. I’m not sure how to capture the color, and my photo does no justice. These particles make for a murky beer.
Aroma: This beer has an aroma that you might expect from a seasonal holiday brew. Herbs and spice and some other things nice. Nothing over the top in any one area. My nose is assaulted by such a variety though. I small rosemary and maybe cloves or cinnamon, a raisin/apple smell combined with the alcohol gives this beer a white wine kind of smell. There’s also a kind of tangy smell that makes me think of soy sauce.
Taste: I’ve got to admit, I was terrified to sip this beer, but I knew it had to be done. I was pleasantly surprised! Often something with herbs and spice reminds me of chomping on potpourri, but this one didn’t. The flavors weren’t too overwhelming. There’s a bit of bitterness in this beer that fades to a slight sweetness. It reminds me of a cider, rather than a beer. That thinking makes me feel like this beer will taste good even as it warms to room temperature (as I imagine it was served in the ancient days that it was brewed).
Mouthfeel: While I was expecting this beer to have a strange mouthfeel, because of all of those particles floating around, it didn’t. It had a lot of body with a feeling somewhere between oily and creamy without being too filling.
What an interesting surprise this beer was. I love that the guys at Heavyweight Brewery put themselves out there and tried this unusual brewing technique. While it’s obviously not a brew for every day, if you’re into beer, don’t pass up the opportunity to try this unique brew.

Animated Guinness Ad

I’m not sure if Guinness qualifies as a micro-brewery these days, but bein’s that I love beer and I love animation, I was excited about this YouTube video. I work over at Channel Frederator and one of our bloggers, Steve Lev, posted this great video. I actually collect a lot of the old John Gilroy Guinness illustrations, and have always loved their ads. I’m excited to see how much they’re using animation. Their latest campaign looks to be done by Jib Jab, but I don’t see any mention on their site of it.  Anyway, check out the video, it’s fun!

Unconventional Accessories

I happened to be browsing the store over at Dogfish Head Brewery, when I came across this belt buckle. How freaking cool is this? I mean, honestly. Leave it to those unconventional guys at that unconventional brewery to come up with swag like this.
Just think of the unlimited possibilities of this belt buckle. It:
A: Most importantly, this baby opens beer
B: Goes where you go
C: Is an incredible fashion statement
D: Shows off that you’re not only a beer snob, but a beer snob with refined tastes.
E: Holds your pants up! (when paired with the appropriate pant-holding paraphernalia).
This has to be the ultimate fashion accessory. Stop by the Dogfish Head store and pick up 1 or 10 for yourself, as well as for your friends (that would include yours truly).

Update (10 min later)
Well according to my coworker Dan, I’m a moron. Apparently these beer opening belt buckles are all over the place. Well congratulations Dan. I am seldom wrong, so enjoy it while it lasts! (bwa hahahaha)

Not-So-Magic Hat

Since I wrapped up my series on stouts, we’re wide open to try different types of beers. I returned back to that old Magic Hat variety pack that I’d picked up a week or two ago and decided to review the final beer – the 60 Winks Ale. Wow! What a disappoint60wink.jpgment! Magic Hat, I love you, but this is NOT the best beer I’ve tasted from you…
Appearance: This beer has a pretty nice appearance. A frothy white head dissipates pretty quickly. The body is quite clear and bubbly, a very golden yellow.
Aroma: Aroma, again, not bad. A lot of malts, a corn/meal kind of smell, a bit of grass and pine hops. There’s also a faint scent of alcohol lingering in there too.
Taste: What a disappointment! This beer has little flavor. Some hop bitterness up front and those corny malts. A bit of a yeasty aftertaste, but mostly… there’s nothin’ going on here. This tastes really watery and almost soapy.
Mouthfeel: Mouthfeel doesn’t help us out here. 60 Winks is really carbonated, but watery. I guess on a hot day, one might find it refreshing. There’s a little bit of metallics and bitter going on here. Generally, it isn’t the mouthfeel or a particular taste that’s steering me away from this beer, just the lack thereof.
Overall, I feel really bad disliking this beer, though I know I’m not alone. While some reviewers find many Magic Hat beers watery, I tend to really enjoy them, especially the No. 9. I don’t think they set themselves up very well, either, as the label on this baby is probably one of the most unattractive I’ve seen. A guy sleeping on a bed? Yuck… Sorry Magic Hat 😦

The Facts:
ABV: 5.8%
IBUs: 35
SRM: 5.0
Gravity: 1.056

   

The Brookston Beer Bulletin

masthead1.jpgYou couldn’t find a better beer resource anywhere, even on this whole worldwide inter-web of ours, for beer news and information than the Brookston Beer Bulletin. The man behind this fine blog, Jay Brooks, brings an exhaustive amount of information to our fingertips. From events, to facts, to quotes, to news, even to legal know-how, Jay has you covered. You should definitely have it as one of your daily stops in the world of craft beer.

Lacto!

I try to stick American on this blog when it comes to my micro-brews, but with this being stout week, my final sample was somewhat hard to come by. lacto1.jpgThe good old Milk Stout. Yes, you heard me right, Milk Stout. The milk stout is a form of sweet stout, which Beer Advocate says “includes lactose or milk sugar, and often additions of cane or other fermentable sugars for priming, dubbed a Milk Stout.” What it comes down to is a low-alcohol, creamy stout beer.
While I can’t say today’s beer with a straight face – Farson’s Lacto Stout, I can enjoy it’s smooth and creamy goodness. LACTO!

Appearance: Lacto (yeah, I’m gonna keep saying it) pours black with a dark caramel head. That head hangs out for a little while, then fades away to a nice lacing.
Aroma: This beer has a strange aroma that I’m having a hard time identifying. I’m smelling some roasted malts and maybe some hops. I found that other reviewers had this same problem. While there are undertones of roasted coffee and chocolate, there’s a strange kind of pungent smell. Maybe of sour milk? One reviewer on Rate Beer describes it as a “vegital weirdness”. While I don’t find this smell unattractive, I find that the unidentifiable smell also stumps my tastebuds.
Taste: This is a really mild beer. There’s little flavor here. Some of that same roasted flavor, a bit of bitterness.
While some might find it underwhelming, I don’t mind it that much. I’m not going to pick up a sixer of Lacto to hang out and drink them while I watch a football game. This is a beer to be enjoyed at the end of the evening, maybe after dessert.
Mouthfeel: The thing about a milk stout is how incredibly smooth and creamy it is. This is soft and full and leaves a little bitter aftertaste.

Here’s to Beer

picture-1.jpg

During my regular blog-perusal, I came across an interesting tidbit over at The Brew Site. Much like my blog, you can get different tastes on many different beers here. You can also get good tidbits of information. It was at The Brew Site that I learned about Here’s To Beer.
Here’s To Beer is backed by Anheuser-Busch, who are clearly trying to push beer enthusiasm. Though the name Anheuser-Busch might scare you off at first if you’re a micro-brew fan, don’t let it. It’s a fun site where you can learn a lot about beer tasting and brewing, as well as watch funny clips.

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