Saturday, October 31, 2009

Let's Have Two

Last night I wrote a brief post proclaiming my affinity for Alesmith's Winter Yulesmith, an imperial red ale. Tonight, after trick-or-treating, I had a second, just to make sure my cold-addled self did not get a wrong impression from last night's Yulesmith. The second was as good as the first.

I like Christmas beers, and try to taste a variety during the Holiday Season. I have had Christmas beers well into the following year, but I tend to enjoy them most when they are first released, as it's not as fun to drink a Christmas beer in April or May as it is in November or December. Typically, the first Christmas release I see in stores is Sierra Nevada's Celebration Ale, but I have not yet seen it this year. I bought The Bruery's Two Turtle Doves earlier in the week and was all set to crack it open on Halloween as this year's inaugural holiday beer. Then I saw an email from The Olive Market stating that it had just received a shipment of Alesmith's Yulesmith. No mention on whether it was a late shipment of the Summer Yulesmith, a double IPA, or if it was this year's Winter Yulesmith. I stopped by the store and saw the distinctive green and red label and new it was this year's Winter Yulesmith. I picked up a bottle and had it with dinner last night (prompting the post) and thought it so good I went an bought a second bottle to have on Halloween. Two Turtle Doves will have to wait.

Winter Yulesmith pours a clear, deep copper with solid tan foam. The color is lighter than shown in the picture and has a rich, reddish hue. Yulesmith is sweet and rich on its initial tastes and the finish is all hop bitterness. The balance is fantastic, as the beer's flavor glides between the sweet and the bitter. Balance is where most imperial red ales fall short for me. If an imperial red ale has too much malt the sweetness makes the beers hard to drink, and if the hops are too dominating the bitterness would approach a double IPA. Yulesmith avoids this trap, which is why it is so good. This beer can be savored after dinner or swigged with pizza - I tried both methods.

Winter Yulesmith is the better of Alesmith's two Yulesmiths. The Summer Yulesmith, a double IPA, is in the sticky, syrupy double IPA camp, like Avery's Maharaja. This style can be unpleasant to drink. Winter Yulesmith is rich, but not syrupy; has a bold flavor, but does not ruin your taste buds. This was an excellent beer to kick-off the Christmas beer season and I hope it is a harbinger of many delicious winter beers.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Profound Thought

Alesmith's Winter Yulesmith is the best imperial red ale I have tasted. I'll write more on this later, along with posting a picture, but I just wanted to get this thought out before the end of the night.

Monday, October 26, 2009

San Diego Beer Week - Update

Here is a link to all the activities during San Diego Beer Week. There are plenty of events planned every night, some of which look interesting.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Bruery's Beer Club

I'm on The Bruery's email list and here is most of an email I received yesterday announcing The Bruery's new beer club:
The Bruery Reserve Society is a revered group of beer enthusiasts who wish to gain access to the most esoteric beers The Bruery has to offer. In this inaugural year, we'll be offering 400 memberships to the Reserve Society. Reserve Society members will have first pick at special releases. There will be releases that will only be available to Reserve Society members. As an inaugural member, you'll also have the first right of refusal to join in 2011.

Reserve Society registration will begin in person on Tuesday, October 27th at 6 PM. In person registration will continue during tasting room hours (Friday & Saturday, 4 PM - 10 PM, Sunday, 12 PM - 6 PM). Registration through our website ( will begin Friday, October 30th. The registration period will close on December 31st, 2009, or when all memberships have been sold.

Cost: $195


- At the time of signing up, the first 250 to join the Reserve Society will receive Barrel Aged Partridge in a Pear Tree (only 290 bottles produced), White Oak, and Saison Rue. The last 150 to join will receive Barrel Aged Autumn Maple, White Oak, and Saison Rue.
- Reserve Society Zip Hoodie (available in early January)
- Entrance for two to the Reserve Society Initiation Celebration (scheduled for early January)
- Access to Reserve Society-only events (barrel tastings, release parties; additional charges may apply)
- Access to purchase special bottle release allocations (in person or through our website; allocations only for Reserve Society members. Bottle limits will vary from release to release.)
- Shipping of allocated beers (shipping cost not included, will ship only within CA)
- 15% off all tasting room and Bruery Provisions purchases (Cannot be combined with other offers or discounts)
- Access to special growler fills
- First right of refusal for 2011 membership

- A nifty Bruery Reserve Society ID card

Anticipated 2010 Special Bottle Releases:

- Oude Tart - Flemish Red
- Melange #1 - Flemish Red / Imperial Stout Blend
- Melange #3 - Barrel Aged Strong Ale Blend
- White Zin - Sour ale with Zinfandel Grapes
- White Oak - Blended Barrel Aged Wheatwine / Golden Strong Ale
- 100% barrel-aged Coton - Barrel Aged Old Ale
- Black Tuesday Imperial Stout - Barrel Aged Imperial Stout
- 100% barrel-aged 2 Turtle Doves - Barrel Aged Holiday Beer
- Perhaps a few other releases up our sleeves

A few details:

Membership begins on January 1, 2010 and ends December 31, 2010. Due to unfair and archaic alcohol laws, we cannot ship out-of-state. Those who are out-of-state may be members, but they must elect a trustee to pick up or receive your shipments within California.
This sounds interesting, but I don't think I will join. All the beers on this list don't appear like they'll be in regular distribution, which is positive for people that join the club. This wasn't the case when I joined the Lost Abbey's Patron Saint beer club two years ago. Only one of the six or seven beer selections was not widely distributed, and all but that one were in local beer stores before I received my membership allocation. I won't be able to make any of the events at The Burery or take advantage of discounted growler fills, bottle sales or merchandise at The Bruery. The hoodie sounds neat, though.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Wet Blanket

The Bruery's imperial stout, Black Tuesday, has garnered significant attention on BeerAdvocate message boards and beer blogs (I am too lazy to link to the references tonight). I'm just not that excited about Black Tuesday and there is no bigger Bruery fan than me. I just don't fall into all the hoopla and hype surrounding imperial stouts. The buzz around annual releases for beers like Dark Lord and The Abyss is incredible. The Bruery is releasing Black Tuesday next Tuesday, on the eightieth anniversary of the stock market crash of 1929. It is a brewery-only release at The Bruery's Placentia location.

Imperial stouts are fine, but I think they are overrated. I had a three-year old bottle of Stone's Russian Imperial Stout earlier in the year and thought it fantastic. And by coincidence, I was in Portland last year at a business meeting across from Deschutes' Pearl District brewery when The Abyss was released and managed to sneak in a small glass and thought it a fine beer. Imperial stouts are so big and full of alcohol they have to be sipped over long periods, there is just no other way to drink them. I don't have many days where I can invest most of an evening drinking one beer, and if I did, I'd choose other high alcohol styles first, like a triple IPA (Alpine's Exponential Hoppiness) or a Belgian quad.

My take on why imperial stouts get such high ratings (The Abyss, Dark Lord and Black Tuesday are rated A+ on BeerAdvocate) is their high alcohol levels. Beer geeks want an excuse to drink high alcohol beers, and Black Tuesday's expected ABV of 19% - 20%, alone warrants its A+ ranking. While others are fighting for a bottle of Black Tuesday, I am going to seek out a bottle of Saison Rue, which I have not yet tried and that the Olive Tree Market just started to stock, and keep my eyes open for Two Turtle Doves, a Belgian quad that's this year's holiday release from The Bruery.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Allagash Tripel Reserve - Batch 138

I picked up a bottle of Allagash's Tripel Reserve, Batch 138, at a Cost Plus World Market. It seems to me that Cost Plus has improved its beer selection in recent months, or maybe it just rearranged its shelves. This was a solid tripel. It had huge white foam, and plenty of Belgian spices and yeast. The tripel is one of my favorite beer styles and Allagash's Tripel did not disappoint. The alcohol (9% abv) was present in the initial taste but not overpower the beer and seemed muted in the aftertaste. This beer would be good with food or by itself. I wish I had more interesting comments about this beer, but it's been a hectic few weeks and it was a welcome diversion.