[Beer Review] Red Velvet by Ballast Point Brewing Company

bpredvelvet_tgofThe dessert beer is a tricky tart to perfect. Of course, opinions vary and some will swig down just about anything based on a name regardless if the beer actually delivers on the flavors it promises. The perils are real though. Dessert beers can verge on sickly sweet to flat out not being able to cash in on its promises. Ballast Point’s Red Velvet falls somewhere in the middle.

This review focuses on the release of the six pack of 12 oz nitro bottles that were recently released. As the bottle promises the beer is nitrogenated and pours light pink and cascades beautifully leaving a deep red hued beer with a creamy, slightly pink head that resembles cream cheese frosting. The aroma is lacking quite a bit with muted notes of light malts, vanilla and hints of chocolate.

It’s worth noting that this beer is an golden oatmeal stout with chocolate and natural flavors added. So, in being a “golden stout” it allows for the intense red color from the beets to come through so vividly. Before moving into the taste it’s also worth noting that I have never had a beet in my entire life. Prior to this beer I’ve only ever even had one beer that utilized beets and it was a sour…three years ago, so there’s no way to rely on my ability to recognize the actual beet characteristics of the use in this particular beer. If you’re lost, let me explain. (more…)

Beer Review: Bourbon Barrel Vanilla Bean Buffalo Sweat w/Cinnamon by Tallgrass Brewing Company


tgof_bavbbs_tallgrassIt’s was not that long ago on this very site that I was articulating my criticisms of Tallgrass’ Bourbon Barrel Buffalo Sweat. Those criticisms gave life to serious concerns to the quality of upcoming Tallgrass beers in the newly minted Explorer Series. While I’m hoping to make some time to review Big Ricc, their Russian Imperial Stout with coffee and chocolate, I’m happy to say that those concerns- for the time being- been alleviated by the Bourbon Barrel Vanilla Bean Buffalo Sweat. Henceforward to be referred to as BAVBBS, cause why not?

For as long as I can remember as a beer drinker I’ve heard people refer to inky black beers as being perfect for breakfast. Basically any beer that even a fleeting coffee note to the flavor. I don’t know that I’ve ever actually had any beer that met that criteria that I could legitimately see myself drinking for or during breakfast. Today I can confidently say that is no longer the case. BAVBBS, for this beer lover, perfectly mimics the breakfast classic of french toast with cup of coffee. (more…)

Beer Review: Xocoveza by Stone Brewing Company

tgof_stone_xocovezaNote: This review got lost in the backlogs so pay no attention to the fact that it’s now February and the picture features a Christmas tree…thanks!

There is one thing I will say for Stone Brewing Company–they are consistent. Are they consistent in releasing beers, consistent in delivering good beer, or consistent in delivering disappointing beers? If you said any of those three then you fell for the trap–none of those are what I’m referring to. Stone consistently releases beers that are–at the very least–interesting. That doesn’t always equal success, but I am a sucker for interesting beers good or bad.

People fawned over the bomber/draft release of their spiced holiday stout, Xocoveza, last year and the times they have not changed with the most recent release. Not just interesting in name, the beer boasts that it is brewed with cocoa, coffee, vanilla, and peppers. In my head as I read the ingredients I’m thinking yes, yes, yes….uhhh that’s unfortunate. Over the years if there’s on ingredient in a beer that generally leads to disappointment, it’s peppers. Still, I’ve had my fair share of pepper beers that integrate them well enough and as luck would have it Xocoveza is one of them.  (more…)

Beer Review: Tallgrass Brewing Company Bourbon Barrel Buffalo Sweat

bbabuffalosweat_tgofThere isn’t a brewery out there that isn’t don’t some take on a barrel-aged stout, and doing it with varying levels of success on top of that. Goose Island is responsible for the country’s most popular varieties of barrel-aged stouts with their Bourbon County line, but many breweries are doing their best to make their mark. One of my favorite smaller midwestern breweries entering that market (with a canned release no less) is Tallgrass Brewing Company.

Now, their non barrel-aged Oatmeal Cream Stout, Buffalo Sweat, is a tasty treat in and of itself- right along with the winter vanilla bean varient (which will also be seeing a barrel-aged release later this year, with cinnamon). The knocks I have with that beer are slight, but include a very slight lack of dominant chocolate and roast in the flavors and a bit of a watery mouthfeel. If barrel-aging does anything, it helps to make those exact descriptors pop with the added ABV bump- or so you would think.  (more…)

Beer Review: Stone Stochasticity Project Master of Disguise

masterofdisguise_stonestochasicityLots of respect and love go out to all the breweries out there taking chances and experimenting with flavors in their beer. In the wake of the much talked about and dissected Budweiser Super Bowl XLIX ad I can honestly say their condemnation of craft breweries landed with a resounding thud. I can’t say a Pumpkin Peach Ale sounds all that great to me, but I would still prefer it (even if it sucked) over any Bud product on the shelf. That and other reasons is what prompted me to return back to a beer that I tried and had some less than flattering things to say about, but admired for its craft and spirit of experimentation.

I tried Stone’s Master of Disguise a while back and kind of wrote it off as a beer I wouldn’t really be interested in writing a review for. Lucky for me (maybe) I bought more than one bottle and the recent controversy gave me new interest in examining it a little closer- or just write about this time. Technically, this beer falls under the Stochasticity Project banner, which in my estimation is just Stone’s label in which they can get a little crazy with styles and flavors put in to those styles. No disrespect to Stone, as I believe they make some pretty great beers and I do love my IPAs, but so far I have yet to really “enjoy” a beer released through the Stochasticity label. (more…)

TGoF’s Year in Beer – 2014

IMG_5433Well, another stellar year of beer drinking is in the books. Four beer fests, several trades and a number of new breweries entering the market it’s entirely safe to say that I had my fill. So, with another 365 days in the rear view- well 325 if you include the 40 days of lent where I took a beer sabbatical- I thought it was time to reminisce on my highlights this year.

I won’t get into too much detail except to list of my favorite beers I was able to try for the first time this year. Maybe even highlight a local brewery to watch out for that opened in 2014. Either way, if you see something below you haven’t tried, it’s safe to say I’d recommend you finding a way to get it in your hands in the near future. Cheers to an equally fulfilling 2015! (more…)

Beer Review: Tallgrass Brewing Company Vanilla Bean Buffalo Sweat

IMG_5198For the last few years Tallgrass has been, in my opinion, the one constant brewery easily accessible to this beer drinker do deliver always solid beers. To be more specific they deliver some of the only beers easily accessible in my locale that I happily buy every time I go to the store for some booze. There 8-Bit Pale Ale is one of my favorite pales that’s not brewed locally but is always on the shelf. They may not be flashy, but man can they brew some damn fine beer. Additionally, the last few years one of my go to seasonals is their Vanilla Bean Buffalo Sweat. I love it so much that I hate it’s only a seasonal release.

Vanilla Bean Buffalo sweat cures my winter woes every single year. The beer pours a thin dark brown with some highlights and a decent amount of light tan head. Once settled in the glass though the beer looks like oil- admittedly thin looking oil, but oil nonetheless. There is a very slight roast note on the initial aroma, which gets slightly deeper with a longer inhale. The aroma hints at a creamy sweetness from the vanilla beans giving the beer a frappuccino-like smell.


Beer Review: Stone Brewing Coffee Milk Stout

stone_coffeemilkstoutWhen I think of Stone Brewing Company I think of hops. Big bold hoppy beers with little to no regard for your palate as it washes through one’s mouth. Even Stone’s Go To IPA is a monster when it comes to the amount of hop flavor it packs into that particular session IPA. Of the many I’ve tried I’ve found that to be one of the least sessionable beers that carry the label of being sessionable- though I do enjoy it quite a bit. Stone’s Russian Imperial Stout also has a hell of a hop bite at the moment that it is first released- I’ve had a bottle recently where the hop bitterness dropped off considerably since release.

Based on Stone’s catalog of beers I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when cracking open their newest seasonal release, the Coffee Milk Stout. I will say what I settled on in terms of expectations- bold bitter coffee but with a smooth finish and a creamy mouthfeel. Two out of three of those descriptors are mostly right on the money while the other is way way off the mark. As one might expect Stone’s Coffee Milk Stout pours pitch black and settles with about two fingers of nice tan head. There is a bit of highlights around the edge of the glass when tilted, giving it the perception of being thinner than one might expect from a stone beer.


Beer Review: Belching Beaver Peanut Butter Milk Stout

belchingbeaver_pbmilkstoutWith a name like Belching Beaver it better be good right? I feel like, well, I know there’s a growing number of breweries with names that catch people’s attention based solely on the fact that it’s kind of bizarre. We’re talking names like Horny Goat, Donkey Punch, Dogfish Head, Ass Kisser etc., and a funny name doesn’t necessarily mean you make good beer. I’m a long way from making an educated guess, but my first beer from Belching Beaver suggests to me that they have a pretty good idea of what they are doing.

Stouts were a tough a style for me to get into and even still I have very specific tastes with what I look for in my favorites. I’m still not quite up to speed with barrel-aged stouts and at this point I generally drift towards milk/sweet stouts. Combine that with the fact that I have a thing for flavors that don’t necessarily belong in beer or sound just weird enough to work then this is right up my ally. It’s the main reason I sought out a bottle of Belching Beaver’s Peanut Butter Milk Stout- certainly not because it’s cleverly named.


Beer Review: Modern Times Black House

moderntimesbeer_blackhouseI’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but I am irrationally picky. There are foods I absolutely refuse to eat, but you use them as an ingredient in beer, I almost can’t help but try it. Non-alcoholic drinks have a similar effect on me- this time around its coffee. I’ve had some good coffee beer in the past (Surly’s Coffee Bender, Boulevard’s Coffee Ale etc) but brew me a cup of coffee in the morning and I might take two sips and be done. I am as clueless as you might be reading this as to why I have such bizarre tastes and all I can say is that it’s just how I’m wired I guess.

Regardless of my indifference to non-alcoholic coffee, for some reason when breweries use it in their beer I simply can’t resist trying it- and I almost always finish the entire pint. I’m sure there’s someone out there ready to diagnose my issues or give me some lengthy explanation of why a beer with coffee added is more desirable than coffee itself, but who’s got time for that? By all means explain away, but I can’t guarantee that I’ll read it or be convinced of its validity.