38. Two Brothers – Atom Smasher

Well, Labor Day has come and gone. Which means Fall is here! Or at least the Fall beers. I’m having a hard time saying that Fall is actually here, since it’s nearly 90 degrees outside.

Anyway, we got in our last trip to the pool this past weekend, and it’s now time to start getting out the warmer clothing and settle in with a fantastic Oktoberfest.

I love Marzens. They’re malty and sweet, and slightly refreshing. They’re warming, not winter beer warming, but subtly warming. A nice transition beer.

I really like this time of year.

I got a hold of a couple Marzens this week to get me started. First, the Two Brothers Atom Smasher.

Sight: Deep bronze in color with a light thin head. Just like the leaves on the trees (that will be turning soon, I know, it’s too early).

Smell: Biscuits, malts, a nice light hoppiness, and a slight red wine aroma (grapes and wood). Very interesting for a Marzen.

Taste: Malty and creamy, a sudden rush of carbonation. It settles into a light spiciness (like pumpkin pie) and a mild fruit flavor.

My overall grade: B

A good start to Fall. I like what Two Brothers did with this one. Something a little out of the ordinary, but didn’t deviate too far.

Speaking of deviating too far…

Sight: Brown with a subtle orange tint. A thin white head.

Smell: Huge hop aroma, very floral, not really fitting for what I would consider a Fall beer

Taste: Malty and creamy to start out. There’s a subtle spiciness to follow and then an explosion of bitter hops. The finish is very dry.

My overall grade: C

I understand that with a name like “Hoptober” I should really know what I’m getting myself into, but it was just a little too much. I appreciate that New Belgium was trying to do something a little out of the ordinary, but I was hoping for more malts and less hops. A decent beer, but not for the season.

I’m off to pick up a few more Fall beers!

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35. Lost Abbey – Mo Betta Bretta

Last weekend was a great time!  I got a visit from Pyzocha (you may know him from J Street Beer), a great friend of mine from DC.  When friends of mine come out to visit, it usually means one thing:

We’re going out drinking!

With only a weekend to burn, Pyzocha and I embarked on the abridged Chicago Beer Tour.  We visited both Goose Island Clybourn and Wrigleyville, Big Joe’s for turtle races, and Half Acre for a couple growlers.  We hit Sheffield’s and Piece Pizza for beers and food.  We made it into Binny’s for beer bottle overload.  We even stopped into the Chicago History Museum (see, we’re not complete degenerates).

All in all, it was a beer-packed weekend that was an absolute blast.  Definitely too short.

Do you have suggestions on places we should’ve gone?  This will help my future planning.

I had the pleasure of getting a hold of the Lost Abbey Mo Betta Bretta.

Sight:  Orange-hued golden color with a thin bubbly head.  So pretty.

Smell:  Mild fruitiness in the aroma; I’d go with strawberries.  There was also a slight hint of sourness.

Taste:  Light berry fruit mixes with subtle sweet malts.  Light mouthfeel with a lot of carbonation.  The finish was soft and clean.  The beer was honestly begging me to keep drinking it.

My overall grade:  A

This beer would have to be considered if trying to come up with a top 10.

Half Acre’s Li’l Blaster was another of their summertime saisons that didn’t disappoint.

Sight:  Bright golden color with a light head.  Lots of tiny bubbles.

Smell:  Spices.  Lots and lots of spices.  Definitely a saison.

Taste:  Spicy with a tangy bite.  A thin malty backbone holds it all together, while it finishes subtly with a nice shot of floral hoppiness.

My overall grade:  B

Tasty and light.  A nice beer to relax with while dealing with the summer heat.

And I’m off to lunch!

34. Breckenridge – Agave Wheat

I got a parking ticket on Tuesday.  I’m pretty disappointed by this.  Now, had I known that I was nestling my car into a No Parking zone, this wouldn’t aggravate me so much.  When I got to my car and found the ticket, I was dumfounded.  I did, however, figure out why I got the ticket, but I still think the City of Chicago is duping people out on Montrose Beach.

To explain my point, I offer the following picture (which I’ll call Defense Exhibit A):

 

The street you see there is Montrose Drive.  I had parked my car where the letter “B” is.  Now, there were 4 other cars parked ahead of me, and at the letter “A” is a No Parking sign.  My understanding when I pulled in was that any cars parked ahead of the “A” were in violation.  I thought I was safely behind the sign (and behind 4 other cars), so I left my car.  What I didn’t realize was at the letter “C”, there’s another No Parking sign.  So, I’m now stuck with paying the city what would normally be beer money.  Boo!

Oh well.  You live and you learn, right?

Before my funding was drained by the City of Chicago, I was able to enjoy the Breckenridge Agave Wheat and the New Belgium/Lost Abbey Brett Beer.

I picked out the Breckenridge Agave Wheat in hopes that it would be a nice summer beer that I could sit out in the sun and enjoy.  My hopes were confirmed.

Sight:  Light orange in color and slightly cloudy.  It looked thin and pretty bubbly.

Smell:  Mostly citrus aromas floating around.  A gentle mix of orange and lemon with a hint of wheat tossed in.

Taste:  Crisp, light and slightly creamy.  There’s a sweet orange and lemon flavor mixed in with the malts.  The finish is light and refreshing.

My overall grade:  B+

This really is a beer that you can relax and enjoy out in the sun.  I’m sure I’ll be getting more of these.

When I picked up the New Belgium/Lost Abbey Brett Beer, my only thought was this beer will be sour and funky and it will be awesome!

Sight:  A pale golden color with very slight cloudiness.  Lots of bubbles and a big head.

Smell:  There was a subtle fruitiness floating around; I’m gonna go with raspberries and strawberries.  A gentle spicy aroma stuck out with a mild funkiness, which seemed promising.

Taste:  A soft mouthfeel gave way to heavy carbonation and lots of tiny bubbles.  The flavor was sweet and fruity with a light sourness.

My overall grade:  B-

I was a bit disappointed with this one.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad beer.  But, I really was holding out for some funky sourness that never really showed up.  That Brett Beer label was a little deceiving.

Well, I’m off to pay my bills.

10. Christmas Beers!

Christmas!  The time of giving.  And, since it’s my daughter’s first Christmas, it’s the time of giving and giving and giving.  The gifts for her have already started rolling in and my apartment is slowly becoming FAO Schwarz.  Books, stuffed animals, dresses, shoes and socks (which she’ll only wear for about 5 minutes), various random toys, and lots of clothing.  The high point for me was when I noticed someone sent her Legos.  I’ll be playing with those until she’s big enough to know not to eat them or even later.  Perhaps when I’m willing to give them up (NEVER!).

It is very exciting though.  With it being her first Christmas, it’s almost like it’s my first Christmas too.  Except this time I’ll be doing less unwrapping.  Hopefully she won’t tear apart Grandma’s tree.

One good thing I need to tell you about:  Amazon Prime.  This is the greatest thing ever!  My wife signed up for Amazon Mom when we had the baby and it’s been a big help.  You can sign up to have it automatically send you new diapers and wipes and get a big discount in the process.  The shining star of signing up, though, is the free Amazon Prime.  Prime is basically Amazon’s Preferred Member program.  The part we use all the time:  FREE TWO DAY SHIPPING.  That’s right!  Guess how we did a lot of our Christmas shopping.  You are correct: point and click.  Then, two days later it shows up at your door.  If you don’t have Amazon Prime, get it now.

(Note:  I did not get paid by Amazon to say this stuff.  However, if Amazon were to give me a few more months of free Prime, I would not turn it down.)

This is my last post before the Christmas break (I may get one up next Thursday, but I’m not making any promises).  So, to prep you for Christmas, here are 3 holiday beers:

First, the Leinenkugel Fireside Nut Brown

Sight:  Bright copper in color with a thin white head that faded off quickly

Smell:  The aroma is sweet and malty.  It was slightly nutty with a little molasses thrown in.

Taste:  The flavor is sweet and malty, but surprisingly light.  It has a crisp mouthfeel and a light bitter hop flavor to finish it up.

My overall grade: B-

This was a decent beer; one that you could easily have a few of.  It didn’t have any real stand-out features, but it didn’t really do anything wrong.  Leinenkugel tends to overdo the flavoring in my book, but this one settles in nicely.

Next, the New Belgium Snow Day

Sight:  Deep brown in color, nearly black

Smell:  It has a grassy hop aroma, which surprised me considering it’s a winter ale

Taste:  Very mild sweetness at the front that fades into a thin hoppy finish.  It’s very crisp and not too bitter.  It seems light for a winter release.  It reminded me of a black IPA, or Cascadian or whatever you want to call it.

My overall grade:  C+

It was a bit disappointing, I think I was expecting more from New Belgium.  This beer seemed a bit watery to me.

Finally, the shining star in my Christmas tastings:  the Half Acre Big Hugs.  Brewed about a mile from my home with Dark Matter coffee, this is one big imperial stout.

Sight:  Black.  Like a coal mine.

Smell:  The aroma is full of coffee and sweet malts.  There’s some caramel hanging out and a little bit of chocolate.

Taste:  Delicious.  It’s a big beer full of coffee and caramel.  There’s a sweet dark chocolate mixed in.  It’s slightly syrupy in the mouthfeel, but much less than you would think.  There’s a slight bitterness in the finish to cleanse the palette and a mild alcohol burn to keep you warm at night.

My overall grade:  A

This beer is incredible.  They do run it in a limited number, so if you can get it… get it.

Merry Christmas everyone!