Tuesday, December 31, 2013


I am already a fan of Victory Brewing, however I had not heard of this particular beer.  DirtWolf was recommended to me by fellow beer blogger Vin of Bier Battered [.] com. He was so insistent, I was anxious to try it. So, I ran out to my favorite beer store and grabbed a bottle. It was, I must say, a most excellent recommendation.

DirtWolf (8.70% ABV) is a double IPA. It pours a pale cloudy amber with a bright full head that leaves behind decent lacing.

The aroma is all hops; resinous, somewhat dank, and earthy. Droolworthy, to be sure.

The taste is very much reflective of the aroma. It is rather nutty and piney and earthy. It is not as malt forward as some imperial IPA's but the sweetness comes from juicy fruit flavors that I would attribute to the hops. The alcohol can be felt as a gentle tingling sensation. The finish is dry and bitter.

The mouth feel, mediumish with lots a bubbly carbonation.

As the name would seem to suggest, DirtWolf is bold and - I hate to say it again but - earthy and it has a bite. A rockin' good beer!

Overall: very good.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Winni Ale

603 is a newish brewery located in the heart of New Hampshire. Founded in 2012 by three friends and homebrewers, they started out by taking advantage of New Hampshire's special classification for nano breweries.

A nano brewery can produce no more than 2000 gallons of beer a year.  They pay a discounted fee for their brewery license and they get a pass on some of the usual brewpub restrictions.  A downside is that they must self distribute their beer.  There are, of course, all kinds of other legal mumbo-jumbo involved but I'm not getting into that.

They've recently moved from their original location in Campton to Londonberry. The plan is to expand from a nano-brewery to a full-fledged micro-brewery.

I recently laid hands on one of their flagship brews, Winni Ale, and I have to say I enjoyed it.  It's a classic amber and is a good, solid example of the style; very tasty.

Winni Ale (6.50% ABV) pours a hazy orangy red with a smallish head that clings to the glass leaving behind nice tight lacing.

The aroma was all malt and very appealing.

The taste was what I would expect from an amber. A good solid malt backbone with some spice notes. A good balance of sweet and bitter with a crisp finish.

The mouth feel was lighter than expected and quite effervescent.

Winni Ale is clean tasting and very drinkable. It goes down easy and is mild enough to appeal to the novice beer drinker.

Overall: good

Sunday, December 29, 2013

A taste of Cask Republic

Despite the fact that I despise cities, I agreed to participate in a family outing in New Haven, CT.

The afternoon of entertainment started with Blue Man Group at the Shubert Theater and ended at Cask Republic.

The show was great fun and everyone had a good laugh, but Cask Republic was sensational. If you like beer like I like beer this place is a mecca.

They have an impressive variety of beer. There is a beer for every palate and mood.

The staff will help you make selections and pair the beer with food from the menu.  Our server, Ashley, was not only cute and funny but was knowledgeable about beer.

Cask Republic is an all around excellent beer drinking experience. And the food is good, too!

After a brief look at the beer menu, there was no doubt in my mind which beer I would start with.  Fuzzy Baby Ducks from New England Brewing Company is a beer I hear local beer enthusiasts raving about. Whenever it is released, people are willing to stand in long lines at the brewery to get their share. There was a huge build up in my mind about this beer, so I simply HAD to try it. Read the review here.

The Illinois (9% ABV) an Imperial IPA by Goose Island Beer. Served in a stemmed wine glass. It was an orangy amber with a smallish head; little lacing.  The aroma was malty, grainy, and a faint whiff of hops.  The taste was malty sweet with some piney hops.  I didn't overly like this beer, it was lacking flavor and character.  I thought it was rather light tasting considering the style. Overall: meh

Christmas & Happy New Year 2009 (5.5% ABV) a winter ale by Anchor Brewing Company. Served in a stemmed chalice. It was dense and dark with a halo of foam. The aroma and flavor were both reminiscent of rich dried fruits. A mildly sweet brew with deep spice notes. Low carbonation and smooth drinking. Luscious. Overall: very good

Timmermans Lambicus Blanche (4.5% ABV) a lambic by Brouwerij Timmermans. Served in a stemmed chalice. It was a pale gold with a small thin head; little lacing.  The aroma is citrus, yeast, spice. The taste is big on Belgian funk and lots of citrus. There's a nice earthy quality that mellows out the tartness. Smooth with gentle carbonation. Overall: good.

Cherish Kriek (5% ABV) a lambic by Brouwerij Van Steenberge. Served in stemmed wine glass.  It is reddish purple with a puff of pink fluffy foam on the top; spotty lacing.  The aroma fresh ripe cherries. The taste is all about the cherries. Sweet and tart at the same time. Some malt and lovely Belgian funk pull through to round out the flavor and add character. Light on the tongue with nice fizz. This is an outstanding brew, the best lambic I've ever tasted! Overall: excellent

Ryeghts Of Passage (7% ABV) a rye brown ale brewed specifically for Cask Republic by Captain Lawrence Brewing. Served in a fluted pint glass. It is a clear mahogany with an airy head that clings to the glass. The aroma is malty and grainy.  The taste is malty and somewhat bready. Rye is a major player but is not overpowering. This is a clean, refreshing brew; very drinkable. Overall: good.

Spice of Life: Nelson Sauvin (5.7% ABV) is an American IPA by Sixpoint Brewery. Served in a fluted pint glass. It is a hazy golden yellow with a dense head, nice lacing. The aroma is bright hops and juicy fruits.  The taste is a nice layer of hops over a solid malt backbone.  Citrus and resin dominate but a bready, sweet maltiness provides balance. Medium and crisp. Enjoyably quaffable. Overall: good.

Stone Smoked Porter with Vanilla Bean (5.9% ABV) by Stone Brewing. Served in a stemmed chalice. It is dark as night with a dense foam that leaves excellent lacing. The name says it all in aroma and flavor. Smokey with a solid vanilla presence. Mildly sweet, roasty. Flavorful and easy drinking. A good tasty porter. Overall: good.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Fuzzy Baby Ducks consumed at Cask Republic

A family outing started with a showing of Blue Man Group at the historic Shubert Theater in New Haven, CT.

I was pleasantly surprised to discover there was beer available. Nothing super crafty was available so I "suffered" through couple Harpoon IPA's. Serving said brew was long time family friend Jaimo. He's a funny guy and handily pours the beer of your choice into classy plastic cups.

The cool part is that we could bring our cold, frothy beverages into the theater to enjoy whilst viewing the show of paint splattering, percussive blue men. This makes the show all the more enjoyable; if you ask me.


After the show, we took a walk around the corner and down the block to Cask Republic. This venue was chosen for it's large selection of craft beer. And by large selection I  mean massive! I've never seen such an extensive beer list. It was impressive and mind boggling.

You would think that when presented with such a list that choosing a beer would be a difficult task. Not this time. Not for me.

I spied Fuzzy Baby Ducks from New England Brewing Company and my mind was instantly made up. It's a beer I've been wanting to try for a long time and have never been able to get my hands on. Well, there it was, in my fat little hand within mere seconds. Spit in my eye and call me happy!

For me, most beers don't stand up to the hype. This one does. It is fantabulous. Among the best NEBCO beers!

Fuzzy Baby Ducks (6.20% ABV) is an American IPA. It was served in an fluted pint.  It was a hazy orange yellow with a nice floof of foam that clung to the glass and left behind amazing lacing.

The aroma is a nose full of tart citrus and earthy hoppy goodness. You know what you're getting when you smell this beer.

The taste was piney, grapefruity, juicy fruity. It was mildy malty sweet but mostly bursting with bitter hops. The balance is good but leans in the hophead's favor.  The finish is crisp and bitter.

The mouthfeel was medium and effervescent.

Overall: excellent.

I tasted at least eight different beers this night (and a Patron Reposado neat) but I only drank one beer (more than once) and that was Fuzzy Baby Ducks. Outstanding.

For reviews on other beers I tasted at Cask Republic - click here

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Cooking with Beer - Beer'ded Smoked Kielbasa Chili

Chili comes in many forms. Some purists say no beans, some say no meat. I'm no purist. I say I want it all. And, what the heck, I'll throw in a beer, too. That's what I say!

So, here is a recipe using smoked Hungarian kielbasa, good brown ale, and two different kinds of beans. If you can't find Hungarian kielbasa any good smoked sausage will do. Use the kind of beans you like and as much (or as little) spice as you like to make this recipe your own. As it is written, this recipe is only moderately spicy.

Beer'ded Smoked Kielbasa Chili

1 1/2 Lb Smoked Hungarian Kielbasa, Sliced Thin
1 12-Oz Beer
2 Can Beef Broth
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Large Onion, Chopped
1 Small Green Bell Pepper, Chopped
4 Cloves Garlic, Minced
1 Tbsp Red Chili Pepper Flakes
1/2 Tsp Cayenne Pepper
2 Tbsp Hot Mexican Chili Powder
1 Tbsp Tony Chachere Creole Seasoning
12 Oz  Tomato Paste
2 Cans (15 Oz.) Dark Red Kidney Beans, Drained
1 Can (15 Oz.) Cannellini Beans

Heat olive oil in a heavy pot over medium heat. Saute the onions, peppers, and garlic until soft. Season with pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, chili powder, Tony Chachere creole seasoning.

Add the beans, broth, beer, and tomato paste. Mix well and then add the sliced kielbasi.

Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat low. Allow the chili to simmer for 30 minutes.

Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary.

Serve with a side of corn bread and a quarter cup of shredded sharp cheddar, if desired.


Wednesday, December 25, 2013


Beans, beans, the musical fruit.  Oops, the wrong kind of beans.

The beans in Sixpoint Brewery's 3Beans are cacao, coffee, and romano.

Cacao beans and coffee beans I get; chocolate, coffee,  and beer make wonderful bed fellows.

But romano beans?  A common garden bean? Yes, that actually makes sense, as well. Romano beans are an easily cultivated form of protein. Added to the mash, they help to create a smoother, more robust full bodied beer.

Sounds like desirable makings for a good brew.

3Beans (10.00% ABV) is a Baltic Porter.

It pours a ruby red that is deep and dark in the glass. The head is full and dense. It clings to the glass forming tight lace.

The aroma is an enticing combination of coffee and chocolate.

The taste is milk chocolate and fresh brewed coffee. The sweetness of the malt is offset nicely by bittering roastiness.  The finish is some coffee and cocoa.

The alcohol is well concealed but can be felt as a tingle on the tongue and gums.

The mouth feel is full and smooth.

3Beans is a rich and delicious. A well crafted brew.

Overall: very good.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Old Capital

When I'm looking for a simple uncomplicated beer to enjoy without getting my senses assaulted a good golden ale fits the bill.

Old Capital (4.00% ABV) by Keegan Ales is just such a beer.

It pours a hazy golden color with a small cap of foam that leaves behind little to no lacing.

The aroma is malty, mildly grainy, and almost savory.

That taste is pretty low-key. Grain and malt are the dominant flavors. Almost no hops are detectable. The finish is clean.

The mouth feel is light with tingly carbonation.

Old Capital is a good sessionable beer so you can safely drink a few without getting sloppy drunk. It's light, crisp, and quaffable. If you're looking for a flavor bomb then this isn't the beer for you.

Overall: good.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Amber Apparition

The hypnotic, Tim Burton-ish babe on the bottle was enough to attract my attention to this bottle. But the kicker was the brewery.

Henniker is a brewery I've been meaning to try since it opened in 2011. So, when I spotted this bottle at the Vista Country Store during a recent visit to North Hampshire I had to snatch it up.

An interesting fact, among many, about the Town of Henniker where the brewery resides, there is only one town in the whole wide world with the name of Henniker. How cool is that?

Amber Apparition (5.20% ABV) Pours a clear amber with a big pile of foam that leaves behind good clingy lacing.

The aroma is lightly malty.

The taste is has a good malty flavor. Although it doesn't create a lot of bitterness, there is resinous hoppy zing to offset the sweetness of the malts.  The finish is clean and subtly malty.

The mouth feel is light with gentle effervescence.

Amber Apparition is a very drinkable amber ale. Smooth and flavorful! A good example of the style. I can't wait to try more beer from Henniker!

Overall: good.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Chaz & AJ Beer

'tis the season for raising a glass of cheer and, more importantly, being charitable to those less fortunate than ourselves.

Chaz and AJ are the hosts of WPLR and The FOX morning drive shows. Their sometimes unorthodox and often rude humor graces our airwaves to amuse us while we sit in the never ending traffic jams of the Connecticut highways and byways.

Chaz and AJ kindly use their celebrity status to raise awareness of local causes and contribute to charities throughout the year.

Together with Charter Oak Brewing, they have created a beer that not only brings us cheer but gives to the disadvantaged. $3 from the sale of each bomber goes to the Chaz and AJ Toy Drive. A toy drive that's raised over $100,000 so far this year. That's a lot of goodies for a lot of kiddies.

This limited edition brew is being sold only at Town Line Fine Wine on Hawley Lane in Stratford, CT.

Grab a bottle of this unique brew now; toast the holidays and help needy children. It's a win/win.

Selecting appropriate glassware was a huge decision. I thought a Mason was the most fitting choice for a beer brewed for Chaz and AJ.

Chaz & AJ Beer (5.50% ABV) is a classic American brown ale.

It pours a clear brown with ruby highlights. It has a floofy head that leaves behind a nice cling of foam on the side of the glass.

The aroma is malty with metallic twang.

The taste brings forth a solid malt backbone.  There are hints of cocoa and smoke. This brew is gently sweet and mildly bitter together in good balance. The finish is clean, crisp and leaves behind a bit of roastiness.

The mouth feel is light with good carbonation.

Chaz & AJ Beer is a smooth, drinkable brew that anyone can enjoy. The sessionable alcohol content means you can raise more than one glass of cheer without getting stumbling drunk (like Chaz has been known to do) and knocking over the Christmas tree (something that AJ might do). And each bottle you buy helps buy presents for kiddies who wouldn't otherwise have them.

Overall: good


Friday, December 20, 2013

Anniversary Ale

I can't tell you how much it's means to me having a brewery in my home town.

It was just over a year ago when I got a chance to visit Two Roads before they opened their doors to the public (read about it here). I was amazed at the scale of the brewery and the beauty of the the tasting room.

Little did I know that Two Roads would become a place where I would spend many hours enjoying a variety fantastic brews and meeting so many great people in a comfortable, relaxing environment. I kind of hate to make the comparison, but I feel like it's become my own little version of Cheers.

When Two Roads opened it's doors last year, it was already the largest brewery in the state. The growth I've seen throughout the past year is staggering; new tanks, a canning line, and so many new beers.

I've tasted and reviewed every beer they've brewed. Although I admit that I have not loved them all, each and every one is well crafted by brewers who clearly have a passion for creating good beer. Anyone can spew out a bunch of different styles of beer. But to make consistently good beer is an impressive feat. Good job with that Two Roads.

Anniversary Ale (4.8% ABV), a session IPA, pours a golden amber with a big white head that leaves behind nice lacing.

The aroma is of bright citrus and earthy hops.

The taste is wonderfully bitter with tart citrus and juicy fruits dominating and dank earthy hops teasing the palate. There is a good solid malt base to compliment and balance out the hops.  The finish is clean and crisp. Bitterness lingers on the back of the tongue begging for more.

The mouth feel is medium with tingly carbonation.

Two Roads Anniversary Ale is a great accompaniment to their already impressive line-up of beers. It is a flavorful, smooth, and quaffable brew.

Overall: very good

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Cooking with Beer - Spicy Guinness Mustard Breaded Pork Chops

This is a super simple but very tasty recipe that puts a spicy, beerific twist on breaded pork chops.

The mustard is homemade spicy mustard made with Guinness Stout. A good hearty mustard!

This recipe is dedicated to my friend and fellow lush who is having her hubby make this recipe for her birthday dinner. I can't be there to celebrate with her but I'm kinda there in spirit. This one's for you, girlfriend!!


Spicy Guinness Mustard Breaded Pork Chops

3/4 Cup Italian Seasoned Bread Crumbs
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1/4 Teaspoon Hot Hungarian Paprika
1/4 Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
1 Egg
3 Tablespoons Spicy Guinness Mustard
2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
4 Pork Chops

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Prepare a baking pan by coating with a thin layer of oil or cooking spray.

Combine bread crumbs, salt, paprika and pepper in shallow dish; set aside.

Combine egg and mustard in another shallow dish.

Dip each pork chop in mustard mixture, coating all sides.

Coat with crumb mixture and place on baking pan.

Cook 20 to 25 minutes or until lightly browned.


Local Harvest

I grabbed this brew when I was browsing my local beer shop. I went looking for nothing in particular. I was just like I'll take one of these and one of those and that looks good and that one is interesting and what a cool label.

This one ended up in the mix and that little act of randomness netted me a tasty brew.

Local Harvest (6.10% ABV) is an American Pale Ale brewed by Sebago is  brewed with water for Lake Sebago and locally grown hops and barley, hence the name.

The beer pours a gorgeous coppery red that is hazy in the glass. The head is thick and clingy. A very nice looking beer, very appealing.

The aroma is sweet caramel malts with the tart tang of hops.

The taste is malty but not overly sweet. Caramel and cocoa tease the palate. The bitterness of piney hops edges in but is not overpowering. The flavor is rounded out by a sweet lemon and sour grapefruit.  The finish is slick and pleasantly bitter.

The mouth feel is medium, creamy, and smooth.

Local Harvest is tasty and drinkable with a tasty balance of hoppy bitterness and sweet malt. A good all around brew.

Overall: good

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Coffee Porter

I spied this brew and thought that it would be a nice after dinner beer. So, bought it not knowing anything about the brewery. Afterwards, I decided to do some research and was intrigued by what I found out about Meantime Brewery.

The original location of the brewery was very close to the Prime Meridian, which is where Greenwich Mean Time comes from; hence the name. 

What is most impressive is that the brewery is focusing on recreating authentic styles of British beer.  That's interesting considering that, in past years, the United Kingdom has notoriously departed from brewing craft beer.

Although there is a resurgence and growth in creating distinctive hand crafted beer in England, Meantime Brewery has gained a reputation for creating quality beers that have resuscitated and breathed new life into classic styles.

Coffee Porter (6.00% ABV) pours a murky chocolaty brown with a small head that leaves behind some loose lacing.

The aroma is mocha like; a nice combination of milk chocolate and fresh brewed coffee.

The taste is coffee and cocoa. There's a nice roastiness that adds bitterness and balance to the sweeter malt flavors.  The finish is clean and mildly bitter.

The mouth feel is somewhat light compared to what I've come to expect from a porter. The carbonation is lively.

Meantime Coffee Porter is a smooth and tasty brew. Definitely a good representation of the style.

Overall: good

Pre-Flight Pilsner

Maybe there's pilsner in my Czechoslovakian blood, but I can appreciate a good pils.

Plzeňský Prazdroj/Pilsner Urquell is the very first pilsner every made.  It was first brewed in 1842 in Plzen, Czechoslovakia.

Pilsners are great go-to brews for when you just want to kick back and drink a cold brew. I'm not talking bland macro versions; although, there is a time and place for those.  I'm talk about well crafted, traditional style pilsners .

Pre-Flight Pilsner by Airways Brewing is a good one. It is made in the style of pre-Prohibition beers making it maltier and hoppier than your standard macro pilsner. There is nothing tasteless about this beer. Pre-Flight Pilsner is crisp, refreshing, and delicious.

There's something about it though. No matter how lightly and gently I poured, a big floof of whipped cream like head erupted. I'm not complaining, it's actually pretty cool.

Pre-Flight Pilsner (5.40% ABV) pours a pale sunny yellow with an enormous fluffy head that lingers and leaves behind good lacing on the glass.

The aroma is malty and grainy with a tease of hops.

The taste is sweet and malty. The graininess is nice but what sends this brew over the top - besides the big pile foam  - is the hops.  Spicy and gently bitter without overpowering the other flavors. The finish is dry and somewhat bitter.

The mouth feel is light and crisp. The carbonation is excellent.

This is simply a good tasty brew.  I like it! A lot!

Overall: very good.