Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Review: Uinta Hop Notch IPA

Locale:  Salt Lake City, UT
Craft Circa:  1993
Style:  India Pale Ale
ABV:  7.3%
IBUs:  82

Label:  Sets you back in time, displaying how Utahns MUST of handled those mutant-sized hops.  It’s a play on “top notch” with a hoppy twist… setting a new trend for beer vocabulary, “this IPA is hop notch.”  This per the Uinta Brewing website.  Like it. 

Overall:   “Earth, Wind, and Beer.”  Nice pour, fairly standard for an IPA pour, there’s nothing theatrical about it, unless a standard IPA pour is a beautiful masterpiece of theatrical proportions.  Ok, the pour was amazing.  The smell was very impactful; the looks were a ball of joy as well.   I was craving a floral citrus IPA mid-day, and this served up exactly what I was hoping for.  Hop Notch is a satisfying and quenching IPA.  There are lots of citrus hops coming right at you but at the same time it balances nicely with bitters, mixing well with pine and a sweet malt background.   It teeters like a pound of bricks and a pound of feathers on a seesaw.  Nice equilibrium. 

What impresses most with the brew is that it comes off quite fresh, and refreshing.  It comes in at over 7% ABV, and I would never have guessed that it was above 6 points.  It has decent ROI, and could be a slightly dangerous brew.  It also comes in at 82 IBUs but none of the bittering units are abrasive or intrusive.  They’re like a Ravens fan at a Steelers game.  They’ll get noticed, but they won’t get roughed up too much.   As this brew settles on the palate, more bitterness kicks in, justifying the high IBU count, but it’s still enjoyable.  It’s a highly recommended brew.

The bottle indicates that the beer is best served in glass, which I do for the most part anyways, but just like wine, beers have their own unique characteristics and complexities that arise when poured nicely.   Not that we, or myself especially attempt to incorporate food pairings into any segment until I book a brew pairing class 101, but I will say this was phenomenal with Chinese takeout.  They complimented each other nicely.

This beer is a quality brew, nothing dramatic, nothing over the top, just a good old fashioned citrus IPA that hits the spot like a Weiner Circle char dog at 4 in the morning.

Acquisition:  6 pack - $10

Windfall:  Uinta Brewing is named after an east-west mountain range located in northeastern Utah, the Uinta Mountains. Many of Uinta's beer names are inspired by Utah's diverse landscapes or have historical significance.

Look out for other Uinta brews, they’ll be sure to follow suit:
* Cutthroat Pale Ale - Utah's state fish.
* King's Peak Porter - Utah's highest peak
* Golden Spike Hefeweizen - The spike used to commemorate the completion of the transcontinental railroad in Utah.
* Dubhe - The Utah Centennial star.


Thursday, September 20, 2012

Review: 3 Floyds Gorch Fock

Locale:  Munster, IN
Craft Circa:  1996
Style:  Franconian Helles Lager
ABV:  5.2%
IBU:  25
Notables:  Seasonal - July release.

Label:  Classic 3 Floyds. Tremendous.    

Overall:   It’s that time of year.  It’s in fact a marvelous time of year for us potbelly beer drinkers (like me).  The weather is dropping, and the fall beers are in session.  I came across this German Lager by accident while obtaining something else a couple months back.  Well due to Gooner and myself taking part in some Oktoberfest festivities this week, I figured it would be appropriate to post a review to put us in the spirit of this fine season.

I admit I had to read about the Franconian style of beer to determine what the actual distinctions were.  It’s basically a style of beer from the region hyperlinked above.  This Helles, or Lagerbier  is a bottom-fermenting style of beer that is much hoppier in relation to Bavarian or other eastern European beers.  However upon tasting, I did not come across that, in fact I thought it lacked hops in comparison.  Now what makes this brew a bottom-fermenting style is that it uses bottom-cropping yeasts which are typically used to produce cool fermented, lager-type beers.  These yeasts ferment more sugar creating a dryer beer (per Wiki).  Thus explaining some of my worst hangovers. 

This particular lager seems fresh, and had an ideal fresh aroma to boot.  This almost straw colored lager has a semi-decent pour, and attires the glass nicely, almost as if the mug was attending a stein ball in Munich.  Nice golden color filled my new birthday stein from one of the best nieces in the world.  Hopefully she’s not reading this shout out for another 14 years or so.

The beer really tries to clear the palate quickly, and it does a good job in doing so.  Some toffee or syrup kicks in, creating this slightly sweet malt body.  However, the flavors are not pleasant, and overall was not a beer that I enjoyed.  The hop profile was quite lame, and there was no finish worthwhile.  This style is too light for my liking, and is nowhere near good enough to want to drink.  There’s really not much to write about other than it’s possible to assume that it’s really not the beer itself that’s to blame, but the style of beer instead.  If 3 Floyds did not make it worthy, why would I want to explore elsewhere?  For my intake it’s a tad pricey for what you get, and that’s a sub-par brew. 

Unfortunately beer was wasted in the writing of this review.  Pouring the brew in such a large stein, it was an awful thought putting down the entire thing, and sad to note, that some of it met its demise at the kitchen sink drain.  I know… cue the Second Line for this beer, it was a rough one.

On second thought, it’s a time for drinking, singing, and dancing… it’s a marvelous time of year.  Happy Oktoberfest!

The Pennsylvania Polka, an appropriate Oktoberfest tune, and the base melody for the team fight song you see on the stein above...  

Acquisition:  22 oz. - $10


Tidbit:  Boot of beer:  Per wiki, German themed bars in America may have boot shaped glasses, often engraved with insignias or logos, which may be passed among drinkers as a drinking challenge. These glasses are supposedly based on German "Bierstiefels", used in drinking games; though the origins of the boot glass are unknown and subject to speculation; the Germans call them "Stiefel" or "Damenbein" ("Ladies Leg"). 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Pour Some “Fudge” On Me…Review: The Original Margie’s Candies

Establishment: Margie's Candies
Locale: Chicago, Illinois in the Bucktown Neighborhood
Circa:  1921 
Notables: Year-round.
ISU*: 100
Fudge Atomic Sundae
In tune indeed
Overall: Ok, so this review is ALL “Beyond”; no “Brews” here unless you want to count the root “beer” float.  Summer’s winding down so it’s time to get that ice cream fix before you can store your ice cream outside.  The original Margie’s Candies has been a fixture in Chicago’s Bucktown Neighborhood for 91 years so they must be doing something right (there’s another location in Chicago’s North Center neighborhood that opened in 2005).  What is that something?  Is it the tacky d├ęcor complete with “Hello Kitty” and various knickknacks?  Is it the restroom right off the dining room?  Is it the old freezers storing the ice cream?  Is it the jukebox at each table?  Who knows?  The menu contains three pages of various ice cream treats and desserts.  I ate chicken noodle soup and a corned beef sandwich before getting to the main event - ice cream - but the soup and sandwich was nothing special.  However, the sundae was outstanding.  There’s no shortage of hot fudge that comes with the appropriately named “Fudge Atomic Sundae”.  It was “the bomb”; a mushroom cloud of fudge-lusciousness:  

Two scoops of chocolate ice cream were nestled in a half clamshell dish with whipped cream, cherry, wafer cookies (nice touch) and the already applied chocolate syrup that “hardens” on contact with the ice cream (I’m not a big fan of this but it somehow works with the sundae).  Alongside the clam shell is a gravy boat of hot fudgy goodness.  The sundae was crying out “Pour some fudge on me!” to the tune of Def Leppard’s famous song (Wikipedia).
Pour Some Fudge On Me
According to Margie’s website their ice cream and toppings are made fresh, with all natural and Kosher ingredients.  And you can taste it.  Pick your flavor of ice cream, even add a scoop to make it 3 (Call it a “Jumbo Fudge Atomic Sundae” and add a $1 more).

Mini-review: Root beer float with French vanilla ice cream.  Quite tasty, but my only criticism is that it’s such a small portion ;).
Acquisition: Two Scoop Fudge Atomic Sundae - $5.95 (SO much for so little!)

Windfall: Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar On Me” reached number 2 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 in 1988 (Wikipedia)According to Margie’s website “Musical legends, Hollywood greats and sports stars — and even famous gangster Al Capone — have found sweet release at Margie's Candies. The Beatles dropped by with dates after performing at Comiskey Park. Years later, a group of men in long black coats walked in and requested the booth where the Fab Four had sat. The waitress was a little leery of the men but they proved sincere. Turns out they were the Rolling Stones.”  Apparently The Boss himself visited, too, and sat in the same booth. 

Good eating!


*ISU - International Sweetness Units (I’m a beer nerd)

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Review: Pipeworks Brewing Cash 4 Golden Ale

Locale:  Chicago, IL
Craft Circa:  2012
Style:  Belgian Style Ale
ABV:  10%
Notables:  Batch 19

OK, back to earth Pipeworks.  We’ve been thoroughly impressed with each brew thus far, and although this beer represents another unique collaboration, this bullet misfired.  OK, maybe it grazed us…

Label:  Nice.  Clever and something so cheesy, it’s retro cool.  It’s a trendy name given the state of the economy in recent years and the relentless bombardment of jewelry stores, pawn shops, and etc. advertising “cash for your gold.”  Ironically, microbreweries have been the exception in this downturn.  With this beer, you get the sense you just got a steal from “beer hour” on the home shopping network.  It’s an artisan from Pipeworks, so good chance it is a steal. 

A batch number is hand written on the label, which you can research and discover when that batch was bottled according to their website.  As usual, nice touch. 

Overall:   The aroma was powerful, and simply marvelous.  I cannot express this enough.  The smell was enchanting, almost as if a Belgian Ferry whisked me away to a land of craft beer lollipops, and hop drops.   The head was a fluffy white, probably as fluffy as the clouds in my imaginary beer land.  These beers get a wonderful score for appearance and smell alone.  The presentation was done so beautifully, I was eager to drink up. 

SWEET!  Not in a figurative way, but in a literal sense.  It’s almost as if this beer is loaded with saccharine, and does not let up.  It tastes as though one of the brewers dumped packets of fun dip in the vat before fermentation.  It is reasonably flavorful but the sweetness is relentless.  Any “golden” aspects are hard to come by. 

This is a bottle you may want to consider sharing with someone.  A fifth of this stuff is quite hard to consume yourself due to the sweet persistence, and maybe that was Pipeworks’ intentions. 

It’s very smooth, but almost too smooth for the amount of sweet this brew encompasses.  This brew would have been a little better with either more bittering hops, or something with bite to balance out the ale a little more.  The beer goes down extremely well, especially for a beer that clocks in at 10%.  Its sugary stamina comes from whatever mix Pipeworks used for their strain of Belgian yeast in that it simply overpowered the beer, and did not allow the malt and hop flavors to contribute to the mix. 

Maybe tone down the sweetness a bit Pipeworks, you are in Chicago, and there is only one ‘Sweetness’ in these parts.

…In my opinion, the greatest nickname in all of sports. 

Acquisition:  A Fifth - $12