THE TRUTH ABOUT TRUTH:

All truth passes through three stages.
First, it is ridiculed.
Second, it is violently opposed.
Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.



Tuesday, August 6, 2013

‘AMERICA’S BEST BEERS IN 2013’ (Or, ‘BEST BREW? SAYS WHO?’)



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Five weeks back or so, I stumbled upon the American Homebrewers Association website where I found a listing of their reader’s poll results for ‘Best Beers In America – 2013 Edition’. You can read the entire page for yourself by clicking HERE.
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I was pretty surprised by some of the beers that “made the grade”. Frankly, as I told my Brother Nappy, “It’s a weird list”.

Of course, everyone’s going to have their own preferences when it comes to beer, so I suppose, logically, most beer drinkers would probably think the list was “weird” when it comes to certain inclusions and omissions.

I toyed with the idea of posting the poll results here at F-FFF and then providing some of my own commentary, but I just never got around to it. However, a recent comment section discussion with my friend Bryan Pedus of the ‘A BEER FOR THE SHOWER’ blog has inspired me to finally hop to it.
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Excerpted from the American Homebrewers Association site [with STMcC remarks added]:
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For the past 11 years, we've asked Zymurgy readers to share a list of their 20 favorite beers that are commercially available in the United States. We tallied the votes, and here are the results for the 2013 Best Beers in America survey.

TOP-RANKED BEERS

For 2013, we have a five-peat! Russian River's ‘Pliny the Elder’, a double IPA, claimed the top spot for the fifth straight year. Finishing second for the fourth straight year was Bell's ‘Two Hearted Ale’, an IPA. (T indicates tie)
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1. Russian River ‘Pliny the Elder’

STMcC: This beer is now nearly legendary. Brewed in California and not available here in Phoenix, Brother Nappy and I decided to pick up a six-pack of it when we took a trip back to Los Angeles in May of 2012. Easier said than done! We couldn’t find a single store that had it in stock; at one place on the “North Side” of Santa Monica we were told that shipments of Pliny The Elder are irregular, and it is often sold out within hours of arrival at the store.

You’d think the brewer would want to increase production to keep up with demand, but maybe it’s that same difficulty in getting it that keeps the demand up.

Anyway, Nappy and I found it on tap at the famous Santa Monica bar ‘Father’s Office’.

Links:


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What did we think? Well, it’s a ‘Double I.P.A.’ alright, and a vastly overrated one. We each had one glass of it twice, one day apart. It wasn’t bad, but Nappy and I were both complaining 15 to 20 minutes after we’d finished the beer that the taste of it was still in our mouths! That flavor just keeps going and going and going... Pliny The Elder is the damned Energizer Bunny of Beers!
2. Bell's ‘Two Hearted Ale’

STMcC: Some of you may remember my series on this blog titled Blind Beer Taste Tests (Or, Beer Battles: Who Hops To The Top?). Well, the second Blind Beer Taste Test that Brother Nappy and I ever conducted occurred on Sept. 18, 2011, and in that “blindfolded taste test”, Prescott Brewing Company’s ‘Ponderosa I.P.A.’ kicked the hell out of Bell’s ‘Two-Hearted Ale’. ‘Ponderosa IPA’ moved on in the competition (making it into The Final 8), and ‘2-Hearted’ was never invited to 'The Dance' again. So that tells ya what I think of this list’s #2 ale: Overtooted and Overtwoted.
3. Dogfish Head ‘90 Minute IPA’

STMcC: We’ve had it. Nappy and I both like the ‘60 Minute IPA’ better.
4. Bell's ‘Hopslam Ale’
5. Ballast Point ‘Sculpin IPA’
6. Founders Breakfast Stout
7. ‘Arrogant Bastard Ale’

STMcC: It’s not bad; not great either.
8. Sierra Nevada ‘Ruthless Rye IPA’

STMcC: Fantastic, artistic beer bottle label! And the beer’s fairly decent (for Sierra Nevada), but the best Rye beer I’ve had so far (and by a LARGE margin) is Bear Republic Brewing Company’s ‘Hop Rod Rye’.
T9. Lagunitas ‘Sucks’

STMcC: Quite possibly my very favorite beer. I guess it always depends somewhat upon my mood du jour, but this one – with the upfront explosion of grapefruit and citrus, and the aftertaste, when the delayed-reaction hop bomb goes off – just blew my mind after one sip. (I even saved the empty bottle and sneaked it out of the bar with me when I stumbled out the “In” door.)

Link to a Video Review:
T9. Sierra Nevada ‘Celebration Ale’

STMcC: Actually, this one is pretty good. Probably my favorite amongst the Sierra Nevada line of brews.
T9. Stone ‘Ruination IPA’

STMcC: This is one of those “hophead hop bombs” that are just all hops and bitterness with no balance. Had it once; once was enough. Stone’s ‘Ruination’ would love to be Lagunitas’ ‘Sucks’ when it grows up and matures into a great beer.
T12. North Coast ‘Old Rasputin’
T12. Sierra Nevada ‘Torpedo Extra IPA’

STMcC: My Brother Nappy likes this one quite a bit (it’s on his ‘Top Ten Beers’ list) but, to me, there’s something a little “harsh” about it that rubs me the wrong way slightly. It’s drinkable for sure, but there are plenty I like much better.
T12. Stone ‘Enjoy By IPA’
15. Sierra Nevada ‘Pale Ale’

STMcC: You gotta give Sierra Nevada credit for being at the forefront of the Craft Brewing movement in America back in 1980. And for some years, this beer was one of the best games in town. But it’s been well surpassed by so many excellent brews that have been invented and have now nearly flooded the Craft Beer market. The nearly countless examples of fine beers representing so many styles and hybrids that one can now explore leaves Sierra Nevada ‘Pale Ale’ in the dust, like a bypassed but respected dinosaur.

In it’s day, Sierra Nevada ‘Pale Ale’ was a Superstar. And according to this poll result, it seems plenty of beer-drinkers still think it shines.
16. ‘The Alchemist Heady Topper’
T17. Firestone Walker ‘Double Jack’
T17. Founders Kentucky ‘Breakfast Stout’
19. Oskar Blues ‘Dale's Pale Ale’

STMcC: The first time I had this beer, I got it on tap at ‘RIP’s Bar’, a really cool A-Frame watering hole here in Phoenix. The beer was good enough that I tried it again later in 6-pack cans. Then I pretty much dismissed it. The beer? A “B”. The bar? An “A”.

20. Firestone Walker ‘Wookey Jack’
T21. Bear Republic ‘Racer 5 IPA’

STMcC: This one’s pretty decent. As I recall (too damned lazy to check my notes), this one was in our ‘Blind Beer Taste Tests’ competition, or 'The Dance'. I believe it got eliminated after Round One, but it’s not bad.
T21. Three Floyds ‘Zombie Dust’
T23. Firestone Walker ‘Union Jack IPA’

STMcC: I had this one for the first time on tap at ‘The Main Ingredient’ about a month ago, and it immediately leaped onto my ‘Top Ten Beers’ list. (Shoulda been invited to 'The Dance'.)

T23. Lagunitas ‘Little Sumpin' Ale’

STMcC: This one faced off against ‘BIG SKY IPA’ in the Championship Round of our ‘Blind Beer Taste Tests’ competition. [See my ‘Top Ten Beers’ list below.]
25. Goose IslandBourbon County Stout’
26. ‘Surly Furious’
T27. Deschutes ‘Black Butte Porter’
T27. Green Flash ‘West Coast IPA’

STMcC: This one is on Brother Nappy’s ‘Top Ten Beers’ list. It was my slightly less enthusiastic grades that knocked it out of ‘The Dance’.
T27. Troegs ‘Nugget Nectar’
30. Dogfish Head ‘60 Minute IPA’

STMcC: A solid I.P.A. Not close to the best, but pretty darned good if I.P.A.’s are in your wheelhouse.
31. Russian River ‘Consecration’
T32. Boulevard Tank ‘7 Farmhouse Ale’
T32. New Belgium ‘La Folie’
T32. Russian River ‘Supplication’
35. ‘Avery the Maharaja’
36. Lagunitas ‘IPA’

STMcC: This one’s kind of “hit” or “a little miss” with me, depending upon my mood. But overall, Nappy and I both think it’s solid. (I believe I slightly prefer Lagunitas’ ‘New DogTown’ Pale Ale though – which would be an I.P.A. to many less hop-forward breweries.)
37. Stone ‘IPA’

STMcC: It’s not bad, but overrated.
38. Odell ‘IPA’

STMcC: I first had this one on tap at ‘GRANNY’S CLOSET’ in snowy Flagstaff. It was a beautiful citrusy-hoppy thing, and I’ve been a fan ever since. [See my ‘Top Ten Beers’ list below.]

 T39. Great Lakes ‘Edmund Fitzgerald’
T39. Left Hand ‘Milk Stout’
T39. Russian River ‘Pliny the Younger’
T42. Odell ‘Myrcenary’

STMcC: Odell is one of my very favorite breweries (I’ve yet to have an Odell ‘Anything’ that I didn’t like to some degree or another). I’ve seen this brew available many times, and the VERY NEXT time I see it, I’m-a try it!
T42. Russian River ‘Blind Pig I.P.A.’
T42. Stone ‘Sublimely Self-Righteous’
45. Firestone Walker ‘Parabola’
T46. Ommegang ‘Hennepin Saison Ale’
T46. Left Hand ‘Milk Stout Nitro

STMcC: Although I’m not a fan of Dark Beers, I tried this one once, only because a good friend of mine is named Nitro. (I like the Nitro person a lot more than I do the Nitro beer.)
T48. Ommegang ‘Three Philosophers’
T48. Deschutes ‘The Abyss’
T48. Green Flash ‘Palate Wrecker’

STMcC: I think I may have tried this one a few years ago, but if so, it obviously left no positive impression on my mind, so... there ya go.
T48. Lagunitas ‘Brown Shugga'
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Of the 51(?) beers listed above, I have definitely tried 20 of them. Although there are some A-list brews on that list, based on my 20 experiences, I find the list a bit “weird”.

Which brews (as of this date) would make my personal Top Ten Beers list? Well, you’ll find my list below, in no particular order:

Lagunitas Brewing Co. ‘SUCKS’ (Double I.P.A.?)

If I were about to be executed by firing squad, I’d request a final cigarette. When the commander brought me the cigarette, I’d tell him, “No, thanks; I don’t smoke. Can I have a final beer instead?” And then I’d request Lagunitas ‘SUCKS’, which is so flavorful that it actually glows a brilliant orange from some sort of unfathomable internal lighting system:
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Big Sky Brewing Co. ‘BIG SKY I.P.A.’

This one actually came in First Place in the ‘Blind Beer Taste Test’ (‘The Dance’) challenge, due primarily to perfect hops-malt balance. A WAY UNDERRATED beer. Don’t believe it? Try tasting it against any other beer while you are “in the dark” and don’t know one beer from another.

Lagunitas Brewing Co. ‘LITTLE SUMPIN’ ALE’

This one faced off against ‘Big Sky IPA’ in the Championship Round and lost - much to the surprise of Brother Nappy and me. A fantastic wheat beer, especially when served extremely cold. (Not just ‘Top Ten’, but ‘Top Five’ for me.)

Lagunitas Brewing Co. ‘HOP STOOPID’

I’m sure this is a Double or Imperial I.P.A. (or ‘DIPA’). Bold, Bitter, but drinkable and... enjoyable. (I like this one more than Nappy does, but then I like hoppy and bitter better’n he does, so that makes sense.)

Prescott Brewing Co. ‘PONDEROSA I.P.A.’

A Final 8 competitor in ‘The Dance’. I once wrote a VERY SATIRICAL and (I thought) VERY FUNNY review of this beer. You can read that HERE, but don’t take it seriously because... I love ‘Ponderosa I.P.A.’
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Four Peaks Brewing Co. ‘HOP KNOT’

Four Peaks makes a number of locally available brews of different styles. ALL of them are mediocre, EXCEPT for ‘Hop Knot’, which made it to The Final Four in ‘The Dance’. This is not the beer “for every occasion”, but when you want to dive into something deep, ‘Hop Knot’ is the hop pool you’re lookin’ for. (The best thing you’ll find in Airheadzona, other than me.)

Odell Brewing Co. ‘ODELL I.P.A.’

Odell is one of the most reliable breweries, and their IPA is the best thing I’ve found from them (although everything I’ve tried was quite good). Odell is short for “O, Dellicious!”. Ahhh, whatevah.

Bear Republic Brewing Co. ‘RED ROCKET ALE’

‘Red Rocket Ale” – OUTTA SIGHT! The best “Red” since Maureen O’Hara!

Firestone Walker Brewing Co. ‘UNION JACK I.P.A.’

Brother Nappy ordered it recently from the tap at ‘The Main Ingredient’. After two sips from his glass, I knew I would order it next. After one full glass, I knew I would buy a six-pack of it at ‘Total Wine & More’. This one leaped onto my ‘Top Ten Beers’ list just within the last month. Hoppy. Bitter (but not “too”). Great.

Deschutes Brewing Co. ‘MIRROR POND’ PALE ALE

Pretty much the perfect “anytime, any-mood, go-to” beer. There’s a unique “ishness” to it – as in, Deliciousishness. (I TOLD YOU it was “unique”, didn’t I?)

You want something fairly light? ...‘Mirror Pond’. You want something with some “there” there? ...‘Mirror Pond’. You want to drink all night and never get “tired”? ...‘Mirror Pond’. You want something that will turn into a Roast Beef Sandwich at Midnight and into a Beautiful and Willing Blonde at 3:00 AM? ...Let me know if you find it!

No, seriously... If Lagunitas ‘SUCKS’ is my beer of choice when facing the firing squad in the 11th hour of Execution, then Deschutes ‘MIRROR POND’ is my beer of choice when facing a solitary lifetime alone on a lonely Island with no one else there except me all by myself, lonely, and all alone (unless you can find me that Roast Beef Sandwich/Willing Blonde thang).

Where does all this leave Odell Brewing Company’s ‘ODELL RED ALE’ (one of my former favorite brews)? I dunno. Making love to Maureen O’Hara’s leftovers, I suppose. (That would be me... in my dreams. ...Yeah, you know which kind of dreams... ‘RIT’ dreams.)

Beer:
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Music:
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~ Stephen T. McBrewski

YE OLDE COMMENT POLICY: All comments, pro and con, are welcome. However, ad hominem attacks and disrespectful epithets will not be tolerated (read: "posted"). After all, this isn’t Amazon.com, so I don’t have to put up with that kind of bovine excrement.
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17 comments:

  1. Ooh, the blog bit I've been waiting for. This was great.

    First off, as you already touched on a bit, this list seems 'weird' to me. Then again, I like a good IPA but I don't like an extra bitter IPA, and I'm surprised how many of those are on the list. Hell, having not even tried it, your description of the number 1 rated beer, Pliny the Elder, sounds like something I would absolutely hate. A bit of aftertaste I love, but if I have that bitter, hoppy taste still in my mouth 20 minutes after I've finished my beer... gag me.

    It's also funny to see Sierra Nevada's Pale Ale on there. As you said, it's gotten passed in the dust by so many other good craft beers. (Also, as an afterthought LONG after having it, I seem to recall that it was warm when I had it, and that might have added to me not liking it. Temperature is big for me, and I know there are many beers I've tried warm/only semi-cold and disliked that I've later tried ice cold and absolutely loved. Maybe I need to try Sierra Nevada again and report back)

    Also kinda surprising to see Dale's Pale Ale on there. Oskar Blues (their brewery) is one of our favorite hangouts. They have some great food. As for the beer, Dale's is okay. They have some other decent beers there, too, but most of them are about a B. Nothing exceptional. Similar to you - the joint is a definite A. The beer is a definite B. In fact, in all my life I can't remember having ever gotten a 6'er of Dale's. It's decent, but with all of the other great beers (even just brewed here)... why would I?

    That reminds me of a funny story. We went to Oskar Blues for a friend's birthday a few years ago, and for dessert, they offer beer flavored ice cream. Like, Dale's mixed into ice cream. We tried some to be adventurous... and man, it was the most disgusting thing any of us had ever tasted. You know when one person just dislikes something, it can be chalked up to individual taste? Well, our entire group of 10 people passed it around and every single one of us (all of us beer lovers, mind you) could not stand it. In fact, we still laugh over how terrible it is and joke about getting the ice cream when we go there. We're not sure if it was a "joke" item or they just had it to be gimmicky, but man, is it AWFUL. And last time we checked it was no longer there.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Part Deux (With a Vengeance, This Time It's Personal)

    Next, Left Hand's Milk Stout (and Milk Stout Nitro). As mentioned, Brandon loves these. Me? Not so much. But Left Hand is a cool, up-and-coming brewery (the one we took that ridiculous Willy Wonka-style tour of on the blog once upon a time ago).

    However, since Stouts aren't my thing (nor yours), I actually prefer the 400 Lb Monkey IPA (as I'm sure you've seen us drink countless times on the blog). You ever tried that one? It may not end up being your favorite, but I think it's worth a try. It's my second favorite Left Hand Brew, my first choice being the Black Jack Porter, but then again, I know you aren't big on Porters, either. It's actually pretty 'light' for a Porter, and ends up as more beer than milkshake. Perhaps that's why I like it so much. Also, have you ever tried Left Hand's original Sawtooth Ale? It's not bad. We usually get that if we see it on tap at the local bar.

    In fact, that's how we met the brewer. We were at the bar one day and Brandon ordered a Sawtooth. The guy sitting right beside him smiled and said, "Good choice. You know what? That's on me." Turns out he was head brewer of Left Hand, and he invited us to come see his brewery after we told him about the blog. The rest is history.

    Further proof that you can meet the most interesting of people through beer...

    -4B

    Afterthought: These beer blogs just continually make me want to try SUCKS even more. Is it SUCKS season yet?

    Second afterthought: Any night that ends in a Mickey's and some Zevon is one classy night. I love it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 4-B OLD SOUL ~
      Hey, thanks for the interesting 2-parter! No time for a proper response this morning because work calls. (I always prefer it when a beer calls, but whatcha gonna do...? I need the paycheck to transform into beer. It's called "alchemy", which is short for "alcoholic's chemistry".)

      I shall return sometime after work tonight, and then a proper reply to your comment will magically appear here. Stay tuned... same Bat-Time, same Bat-Channel!

      ~ D-FensDogg
      'Loyal American Underground'

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    2. Part 1:

      4-B ~

      [Whatever you do... DON’T knock on the door of 4-B!]

      >>... your description of the number 1 rated beer, Pliny the Elder, sounds like something I would absolutely hate. A bit of aftertaste I love, but if I have that bitter, hoppy taste still in my mouth 20 minutes after I've finished my beer... gag me.

      It wasn’t really bad, to us (although definitely an Imperial or Double I.P.A. – heavily hopped), but overrated and overpriced. I’m sure the limited availability keeps the demand up, and the “legendary status” keeps the reputation up.

      That’s one reason I like the ‘Blind Beer Taste Test’ (BBTT) idea so much. It forces you to judge the beer solely on the merits found by the taste buds; reputation and preconceived ideas – both positive and negative – are removed from the equation.

      A person may have tried 3 different types of Odell brews and not liked any of them. When he encounters #4, he’s already got it in his mind that he doesn’t like what Odell makes, so the deck is stacked against #4 already. Even if he likes #4, maybe he would have rated it even higher had he not known at the first tasting that it was an Odell beer.

      I think part of the fascination with ‘Pliny The Elder’ may have to do with its already established reputation. You know me well enough to know that I have no problem swimming against the established current when I honestly think the current is flowing the wrong way (whether we’re talking politics, spirituality, or beer). But a lot of people don’t want to seem like outcasts; a lot of people will fall in line just so they don’t look like the one guy who has no taste, or the one dummy who doesn’t “get it”.

      So I think that plays at least a part in the ‘Pliny The Elder’ mythology.

      And then there’s also that hot pepper/hop bomb attitude I was yakking about in the other comment section. Those guys who think it increases their Man Card rating if they claim to love that hot pepper that’s got their shirt drenched in sweat and their eyes bulging out. Or claim to love that hop bomb that is almost like munching on raw hops.

      I find it hard to believe so many people really like those xxx-treme hop bombs. I’ve had a few that were basically undrinkable. ‘Pliny’ wasn’t to that degree, but approaching it. I would much rather drink ‘Pliny’ than Stone’s ‘Ruination IPA’ or Sierra Nevada’s ‘Hoptimum’, but off the top of my head, I could quickly name a dozen IPAs I would rather drink than ‘Pliny’.

      [Our perception of certain beers is an interesting thing though. Illustration: In general, I definitely like the hoppier, more bitter beers better than Brother Nappy does. Even so, Four Peaks ‘HOP KNOT’ is apparently his favorite brew, having received the highest number of points from him during our BBTT. But it doesn’t get a whole hell of a lot hoppier than ‘HOP KNOT’. So why does Nappy like that one so much, and is not nearly so high on ‘Hop Stoopid’ and other very hoppy IPAs? Maybe it’s the “flower”. There’s something really “flowery” about ‘HOP KNOT’ that I don’t find in other big, bold IPAs. Not “flowery” in a sweet-tasting way, but I just can’t taste it without immediately thinking and seeing flowers in my mind. Hmmm...]

      Continued Below...

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    3. Part 2:

      >>... Sierra Nevada's Pale Ale ...Temperature is big for me ...Maybe I need to try Sierra Nevada again and report back

      SN Pale Ale is very much built around Cascade hops, so much of your enjoyment will be determined by how much you like that particular form of hops. But Nappy and I are both with you totally on the “temperature” aspect. In our BBTT we found that the grades of some beers were affected much more than some others by the serving temp. For examples, ‘HOP KNOT’ seemed to reveal more of its subtleties, its complexity, when it was less than extremely cold; whereas ‘LITTLE SUMPIN’’ and ‘ODELL RED ALE’ were drastically hurt in the grade department when we tasted them at a temp other than extremely cold.

      So, yes, I’d say you ought to try SN Pale Ale again someday, when exceedingly cold, and see if that changes your opinion. It really might. It’s still a decent beer, to me, just not something I’d buy when the local liquor stores here are now also carrying ‘BIG SKY IPA’, ‘HOP KNOT’, and ‘LITTLE SUMPIN’’.

      >>... Also kinda surprising to see Dale's Pale Ale on there.

      Yeah, I don’t get it. Compared to Bud and Coors, it’s an A; compared to all other Craft Beers, it’s no more than a B, which is “basically good”. But I want “great” Craft Beers, and there’s plenty of that to choose from. In fact, I’m not sure that I would choose Dale’s over SN Pale Ale. I’d need to do a BBTT to know for certain, but I’m not convinced Dale’s would beat SN Pale Ale in a head-to-head competition.

      >>... That reminds me of a funny story. ...they offer beer flavored ice cream. ...we still laugh over how terrible it is and joke about getting the ice cream when we go there.

      Oh, man, that is TOO funny, ‘cause I have a similar story:

      I’m a professional driver (legal document courier) and on my route I pass a shop called THE PINK SPOT. They have all these outrageous ice cream flavors. The ice cream is not produced by some big company; it’s conceived and produced by some local Phoenix woman. I’m pretty adventurous about some things, and so I go into The Pink Spot once, sometimes twice, a week and buy a scoop of the weirdest flavor available at the time (the flavors are constantly rotated in and out).

      Over the last year, I’ve spent over $100. in that shop – always getting the most bizarre flavor, within my vegetarian diet (i.e., I’ll never try the Maple/Bacon Ice Cream). A couple of them that I really liked are the White Chocolate/Lavender Flower Ice Cream (yes, real edible Lavender flowers in it – amazingly delicious!) and the Peach/Habanero Pepper Sorbet.

      After a year, I’ve found ONLY ONE flavor I disliked. ...Guinness Stout Ice Cream. I had to try it (around St. Patrick’s Day), but once was enough.

      >>... But Left Hand is a cool, up-and-coming brewery (the one we took that ridiculous Willy Wonka-style tour of on the blog once upon a time ago).

      Oh, yeah, I recall that one. I loved that I.V.A. idea. And the line “tastes like shame” always makes me laugh.

      >>... I actually prefer the 400 Lb Monkey IPA ...You ever tried that one? It may not end up being your favorite, but I think it's worth a try. ...Also, have you ever tried Left Hand's original Sawtooth Ale?

      No, I’ve not seen either of those here. I have, however, seen the Stouts and ‘Polestar’ available in the grocery stores. I will definitely check with Total Wine & More and see if they carry those and will try ‘em if they do. Thanks for the recommendations.

      Continued Below...

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    4. Part 3:

      >>...Further proof that you can meet the most interesting of people through beer...

      Hell, everyone I know I met through beer... or something stronger.

      >>... These beer blogs just continually make me want to try SUCKS even more. Is it SUCKS season yet?

      “Just a little further”.

      I’ll be a little surprised if you like ‘SUCKS’. It’s seriously hoppy and heavy in the IBU department. Not as much as some, but there’s no denying it.

      Did you watch that video review I linked to? I’d say skip forward past the yak and get to the taste. The wife says ‘SUCKS’ is not bitter; the husband (rightly) contradicts her. He then says it’s on a par with the greats like... [drum roll here]... “Pliny”.

      >>...Any night that ends in a Mickey's and some Zevon is one classy night. I love it.

      Ha!-Ha! Bryan, you are a man after my own heart!

      I figured it would be funny if, after yakking up all these fantastic Craft Beers, I ended with ‘Mickey’s Big Mouth’ as the recommended beer. And the truth is... there will always be a place in my heart for Mickey’s (just not always a place for it in my stomach).

      Back in my League Of Soul Crusaders “Bay Street Daze” of the early 1980s, we drank a lot of Mickey’s. After all, we were on the “classier” end of Skid Row. So many times one of the Soul Crusaders would say, “I’m going to walk down to Lucky Liquor and get a beer”, and I would reply, “Well, if you’re only going to have one beer, you might as well make it six Mickey’s.” Yeah, I know it doesn’t make any sense, but that’s why it was funny (to Malt Liquor-drowned brain cells anyway).

      If you haven’t already, check out that link I put in above to the site “THE BREW REPORT”. The guy wrote a review of ‘SUCKS’ (and I “borrowed” his photo of it). But if you click on ‘About Me’, you’ll see where some old buddy of his tells him not to stray too far from his ‘Mickey’s’ roots, and he mentions the drinking game ‘Caps’, which we often played in the early ‘80s. Very funny to me.

      I’ve been meaning for over a month to contact that guy via his comment section, because he seems like a dude I’d like, but there’s just never enough time to do all I wanna.

      ~ D-FensDogg
      ‘Loyal American Underground’

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    5. Sorry for the delay on the reply! Been a busy weekend, and one without beer at that. So in other words, not the best weekend. However, there's still 5 hours left in the day and some beer in the fridge, so...

      Our perception of certain beers is an interesting thing though. Illustration: In general, I definitely like the hoppier, more bitter beers better than Brother Nappy does. Even so, Four Peaks ‘HOP KNOT’ is apparently his favorite brew...

      This is actually why I'm still curious to try SUCKS so much. And why I'm willing to give a (properly chilled) Sierra Nevada PA another shot. I DO like hops (and I DO like IPAs), but only certain kinds. Sure, I'm not a huge fan of a really bitter hop-bomber, but I've had some really good IPAs that might still be described as pretty damn hoppy.

      I did watch that video, and I think what they say is pretty much another reason why I want to try SUCKS. Because they seem to think it tastes very hoppy without being overly bitter. And when it comes to any kind of hoppy beer, that is right up my alley. I love hops. I just don't love extra bitter.

      A couple of them that I really liked are the White Chocolate/Lavender Flower Ice Cream (yes, real edible Lavender flowers in it – amazingly delicious!) and the Peach/Habanero Pepper Sorbet.

      Those actually sound pretty amazing. Far better than the Guinness ice cream, anyhow. But really, I would think the Guinness ice cream would be better than the Dale's ice cream. I mean, with the Guinness all you're doing is adding a milkshake to your ice cream...

      Oh, and my friends and I (the same group of friends we've all had since elementary school - Brandon and I) used to drink many a Mickey's in college and play many a game with those caps. Or we'd just drink a ton and try to solve the picture riddles while inebriated (thus adding to the challenge). Made for some damn good times, I say, and helped us stick close to our classy cowtown roots.

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    6. OLD SOUL 4-B ~
      Never a problem, McBuddy. Commenting should always be a pleasure, never an obligation or a time-sensitive endeavor.

      Bad weekend here, too. Clogged drain, clothes washing machine, shower stall and toilet backed up and overflowed. I'm sitting here typing and inhaling the ammonia fumes from the mopping I just did. Mmmm-Mmmm, good!

      >>... Or we'd just drink a ton and try to solve the picture riddles while inebriated (thus adding to the challenge).

      Ha! Oh, man, I had forgotten all about those until you mentioned 'em. Yeah, solving the picture riddles was very much a part of the whole 'Mickey's Big Mouth Experience'. (There used to be another beer company that did a similar picture-puzzle thing with their caps - 'Lucky Lager'. In fact, L.L. may have been the first, followed by Mickey's... who knew a good thing when they saw/solved it.)

      I picked up two bottles each of '400 Pound Monkey' (wouldn't that be an ape?) and 'Sawtooth' at Total Wine & More. I liked them both. Not going to displace anything on my Top Ten list, but they were both good quality ales.

      We were talking about various "beer moods" before, and this is a perfect example: On Friday night, I thought I liked the 'Sawtooth' slightly more than the 'Monkey' (which seemed a shade too malty for my tastes then). But on Saturday, I thought the exact opposite: 'Monkey' tasted a little better than 'Sawtooth' to me. Funny how our taste perceptions change from day to day.

      >>... I mean, with the Guinness all you're doing is adding a milkshake to your ice cream...

      :-) Yep, that's about right.

      On Thursday, I stopped in at The Pink Spot for a scoop of Grand Marnier-Chocolate ice cream. Uh-huh, that's right.

      Hey, Bryan, I've got one more beer I think you really ought to try. If you ever see it in that liquor store near you, or anywhere else, give 'BIG SKY I.P.A.' from Big Sky Brewing Co. in Montana a try.

      That's the one that came in first in our BBTT competition, and it seems like it might be EXACTLY your kind of I.P.A. It's hoppy but it's not a "hop-bomb", and it has, in my opinion, the perfect malt balance - not overly malt-sweet but a spot-on complement to the hop profile.

      I usually hold the same general ballpark score as the consensus at the Beer Advocate website, give or take 5 points or so. But when it comes to 'BIG SKY I.P.A.', they have it way too low. I think the reviewers there have low-balled it because it's NOT a "hop-bomb", which is PRECISELY the reason I think you might really dig that one (Nappy and I both have it on our own Top Ten lists).

      ~ D-FensDogg
      'Loyal American Underground'

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    7. So I type this just having come from ye old liquor store, Total Beverages. I looked high and low for Big Sky IPA but just couldn't find it (or anything from their brewery for that matter). Maybe I'll have to hit up our huge liquor warehouse to find that one (fun fact: it's actually been certified as the largest liquor store in the world). I did find some other goodies though, and grabbed a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale that I just drank about 10 minutes ago.

      It's funny, because I instantly recognized that familiar hop taste but this time it was actually pretty good. The proper refrigeration makes a huge difference. In fact, in the 30 minutes I took to finish it, it still didn't get warm enough for me to not enjoy the taste, which tells me this... whatever bartender served me my last one gave me a beer so warm it'd probably just been sitting out all day. No wonder I couldn't stand it. The SN PA is definitely not my favorite beer, but for a "there" beer, I'd rank it pretty highly. Obviously higher than something like Fat Tire.

      I have a writing deadline this week, so it's gonna be spent with some (hopefully) good new beers. Not sure if you've tried any of these others, but I'll let you know if I find any winners.

      http://i.imgur.com/cshWqnH.jpg

      Foreground: Lotsa new beer.
      Background, lower left: Demetri's car. That guy seems to like to park out in front of my house a lot...

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    8. Oh, and regarding Sawtooth and Monkey, I'm in the same boat. I have to be in the proper mood for them. But if I AM in the mood for them, they sure do hit the spot. Especially that Sawtooth. For being Left Hand's 'generic' flagship ale, it's not bad at all.

      ~4B

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    9. Part 1:

      4-B ~
      I enjoyed the way you expanded on my ‘door-to-door door salesman’ idea. Bravo!

      >>... So I type this just having come from ye old liquor store

      My very favorite Ye Olde Place!

      For the record, because I liked ‘BIG SKY IPA’ so well, I did try a couple of their other beers (e.g., ‘Trout Slayer’, and something else I can’t remember). The only one that I thought was truly A-list was their IPA. But their IPA should be mentioned on many ‘Best Beers’ lists; it’s not, I’m convinced, only because it’s not one of those ultra-hoppy ‘hop bombs’ – but it’s got plentiful hops, make no mistake about that.

      >>... (fun fact: it's actually been certified as the largest liquor store in the world).

      Whoa! I really can’t even imagine a store carrying more choices than does Total Wine & More. I’m actually glad that the two Total Wine & More stores closest to me require some driving time and/or traffic congestion-warfare, otherwise I would probably just drink myself into oblivion and never get another blog bit posted. (Well, hell, I WAS a member of the Shamrocks gang, ya know? When we wuzn’t fightin’, we wuz drinkin’. Is there anything else in [hic!] life, Bro?)

      >>... The SN PA is definitely not my favorite beer, but for a "there" beer, I'd rank it pretty highly. Obviously higher than something like Fat Tire.

      I knew it was better than you had previously thought it was. Therefore, I figured you must have gotten either a really old, non-fresh one, or one that was served waaay too non-cold.

      Yes, if my only choices were ‘Fat Tire’ or ‘SN Pale Ale’, I would order the latter. However, if my choices were those two, but also included ‘400 Pound Monkey’ and ‘Sawtooth’, I would order one of those last two.

      I meant to tell you before that I like the artwork of the ‘400 Pound Monkey’ label. Not so much the monkey in the center, but especially the lower left corner of the label: that section where it says “English-Style” on the sleeve of an arm, ending with a hand holding a disc that says “12 Fl. Oz.”

      I took one look at that and immediately ‘mind-bells’ started ringing. It didn’t take me long to realize how similar that part of the label illustration is to the opening sequence of ‘The Rocky And Bullwinkle Show’. I’d have to put in one of my ‘R&B’ DVDs in order to perfectly pinpoint the spot that is so similar to the ‘Monkey’ label, but I assure you it is there... somewhere. When I have more time, maybe I’ll actually locate the precise spot. But, take my word for it, there’s a very Rocky & Bullwinkle-ish style to that ‘400 Pound Monkey’ label. (And, no, that’s not just the Four Peaks ‘HOP KNOT’ in me talking!)

      Continued Below...

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    10. Part 2:

      >>... Not sure if you've tried any of these others, but I'll let you know if I find any winners.

      It seems you are the only member of ‘The Magnificent Seven’ whom I can yak hops with. I loved the picture you linked to, Beer Brother.

      From left to right:
      #1: SN ‘PA’, I’ve had many times, of course; #2: I didn’t even recognize; #3: Odell ‘Barrel Ale’ - I’ve seen the beer many times and assume I’ve tried it since Odell is a very favorite brewery, but I don’t recall, which means I didn’t think it was A-list, or it’s been often seen but never tried; #4: Odell ‘Cutthroat Porter’ – I’ve seen it often, but since it’s a Porter - not a style I like much - I have not tried it (let me know!); [...]

      #5: Great Divide ‘Pale Ale’ – I know that one or two Great Divide beers were included in our BBTT competition. Not sure if their PA was one of them, but I recall that no ‘Great Divide’ beer made it past it’s first battle; #6: Great Divide ‘Colette’? Not sure what that is, but I think that soldier looks “yellow”; #7: ‘Warka’ – no idea what that is, other than “imported”; #8: Zywiec ‘Porter’ – Check our friend C.W. Martin’s ‘Caps’ blog. I recently sent him a “Zywiec” bottle cap, just so I could alphabetically capture that last spot on his Cap Collection list. But whatever I sent him (I didn’t care for the beer) was definitely NOT the Zywiec ‘PORTER’. It tasted more like Coors, balanced by European piss.

      >>... Background, lower left: Demetri's car. That guy seems to like to park out in front of my house a lot...

      HA! You should have his ass “(h)arrested” for stalking you! The other day, I included a positive endorsement (is there any other kind?) for Demetri and his banana-flavored rocketship in a blog’s comment section comment that I submitted. (I’m sure it will account for MANY future sales of the book, Brother Beer Boy Bryan of the Old Soul variety.)

      ~ D-FensDogg
      ‘Loyal American Underbrewed’

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  3. I've got nothing. Not a beer drinker. At all. Our daughter is the bar manager in a brew pub/ restaurant, and can tell you anything you wanta know about beer, but me? Not so much. Other than the house smelled awful when the malt mixture my hubby was cooking on the stove years ago boiled over. Shortly after that, I invited a Beermeister salesman to the house, and told my hubby if HE didn't buy one, I would! (He enjoyed icy beer on tap for many years afterwards.)

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    1. SUSAN ~

      >>... Our daughter ...can tell you anything you wanta know about beer

      Please ask her, "What is the best beer?" THAT'S what I wanta know.

      ~ D-FensDogg
      'Loyal American Underground'

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    2. HA! That would lead to an hour-long dissertation, but in the end, the answer would boil down to this: what is "best" is completely subjective.

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  4. Not my cup of tea. But as always your entertaining

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    1. Not your glass of beer either, eh?

      But thanks for the compliment.

      ~ D-FensDogg
      'Loyal American Underground'

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