Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Two Turtle Doves

I had a bottle of The Bruery's Two Turtle Doves as a post-Christmas restorative. Two Turtle Doves, a Belgian-style quadruple ale, was full of flavor and complexity. This beer was like a Russian Nesting Doll (or Matryoshka doll), it kept opening new flavors and changing character over the nearly four hours I spent drinking the bottle. By the end, it did not even taste like the same beer I had started.

Two Turtle Doves poured a dark, deep brown, almost black, with a moderate, sand-colored foam that quickly dissipated. The abv was a whopping 12.5%, and it had a full mouthful to match its massive abv. The alcohol, while present throughout, was restrained and lingered in the background, which was amazing given such a high abv. The first few drinks were sweet and tasted of chocolate, and it immediately struck me as a dessert beer. As it warmed, the chocolate subsided and the taste of dark berries emerged, and Two Turtle Doves showed its quad qualities. After several hours, and as I approached the bottom of the bottle, the roasted pecans made their grand entrance. Their presence at the finish was so pronounced that I found it hard to believe I did not detect them earlier. The malt was present throughout and the beer was bitter early, although I am not sure whether the bitterness was from hops or the chocolate, the bitterness waned as ale warmed.

This was the first time I was able to discern all the ingredients in a The Bruery beer. It took me several hours to finally taste them all. Taking this long to drink this mammoth beer helped nullify the 12.5% abv. This beer was better when left out to warm towards room temperature, and it tasted better by itself than with food. This is the second of The Bruery's planned twelve-beer series based on the Christmas carol The Twelve Days of Christmas. I wanted to like last year's first offering, Partridge in a Pear Tree, more than I did. The same cannot be said of Two Turtle Doves, as this was an excellent beer.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Starting To Taste A Lot Like Christmas

It's not Christmas without Sierra Nevada's Celebration Ale.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Jubelale - A Two Year Tradition

I had my first Deschutes Jubelale last year and made a note that along with Sierra Nevada's Celebration Ale, it would be an annual must-drink Christmas beer. Jubelale is malty with mild spices and a decent hop bitterness. It pours a deep amber and its foam is the color of coffee with too much cream. Jubelale is approachable and not overpowering, you won't be searching for arcane flavors you won't be able to detect. It is a Christmas beer for the non-beer geek. This is by no means taking anything away from Jubelale, in fact it's a compliment. Some Christmas beers get too tedious with excessive spices other added ingredients making them a drink-alone (i.e. no food) contemplative beer. This is OK, but sometimes you want a winter beer where you don't have to think through every sip.

A neat thing about Jubelale is its bottle artwork. It changes every year and is always created by an Oregon artist. As you can see in the picture I lifted from Deschutes' website, this year's art evokes the holiday season with the Oregon sun breaking through a snow covered forest. Jubeale is an excellent way to enjoy the season as it is good with food or by itself.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

OB Pizza Port Update

Here is an updated picture of the under construction Pizza Port in San Diego's Ocean Beach. As you can see, it is still in the early stages of being built. It looks like it could be two stories, at least partially, and I am guessing any second floor will primarily be a deck. I don't think this location will be ready anytime before March or April. I am still hoping that this brewpub will have a family-friendly atmosphere, or at least one that does not turn off families like some other Ocean Beach restaurants with good beer. Heck, I'm a dad and if it's too barry and loaded with OB heat bags, I'll be relegated to slamming a beer waiting for take-out, which is no way to enjoy a good beer.

The sit down, family-acceptable pizza restaurants in Ocean Beach / Point Loma include Oggi's that has decent pizza but the beer stinks, The Venetian that has awesome pizza and an awful beer selection and The Old Venice that has awesome pizza and an awful beer selection. Pizza Nova is a non-starter on pizza and beer despite high marks for family friendliness, and while the beer selection at Newport Alehouse & Pizza is outstanding and the pizza decent, it is no place to bring the kids. Sometimes life calls for a good pizza and good beer, and I am hoping that the Ocean Beach Pizza Port will answer this call.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Good Beer Read

I bought Tim Webb's Good Beer Guide Belgium while shopping on Amazon. I ordered and then intercepted my own Christmas present. This book is more comprehensive than I was expecting. It goes into depth about Belgian history, beer styles, glassware, food, culture and more before it even starts its main focus, which is a travel guide. Belgian has several languages, and its culture (and beer) is influenced, in part, by its neighbors, France, Netherlands and Germany. The best beer area, from what I have gathered so far, is the northern area between France and Netherlands, including the cities Burges, Ghent, Antwerp and Brussels.

The book covers breweries, brewpubs and cafes. It also discusses major cities and towns. It is as complete a beer travel guide as your going to find. It is also full of wonderful pictures, so even if you not traveling to Belgium (which I won't be doing anytime soon) you can visit vicariously.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Nelson In The Bottle

I felt like Bart Simpson. I started calling the closest of the small group of stores that sell Alpine Brewing's beer when I received Alpine's email late last summer announcing that it was going to start bottling and distributing its Nelson and Duet IPAs. "Do you have Nelson in the bottle?" I would ask. The calls were met with the inevitable and hesitant, "What?," as the person answering the phone was probably waiting for me to tell them, if they said "yes," to let Nelson out of his bottle. After I got past the awkward exchanges I found out that none of the stores I was calling had received any Nelson. I eventually stopped calling.

Wednesday I was grocery shopping at Windmill Farms and saw an empty slot labeled "Nelson" in the beer fridge. I asked a guy working if there was any in the back. He went to check, and to my surprise, out he came with a box full of Nelson. I picked up two and had one tonight.

Nelson is a great IPA (initially described here). Dave over at The Drunken Polack just ranked it as his number three IPA/DIPA. Its rye and Sauvin hops give it a distinct flavor that sets it apart from other IPAs. Nelson's taste is piney brilliance. It has the sharp hop bite of all great IPAs, but it's not overwhelming and it's a very drinkable beer. Your tongue does not get fatigued drinking it, but you know you're drinking an IPA. If Nelson has one weakness, it's that its mouthful could be more robust, but this is like complaining about a small mole on a super model. Most important, Nelson has lost nothing in its transition to to the bottle.

"We're All Frauds"

This is a great post from The Vice Blog. It describes the difficulty in capturing the essence of a great beer and the limitations of the boring, repetitive adjectives used by bloggers and beer reviewers to describe most beers. (Crappy beers are easy to bash.) As The Vice Blog says, a big part of a great beer memory is the experience drinking the beer, which can make a good beer great. It is odd how this can experience can stay buried in your subconscious. To paraphrase Justice Potter Stewart, it may be hard to describe a great beer, but I know one when I drink it.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Catchup Post

I've been slacking on the posts for the past two weeks. Here is a quick catch up post, more pictures than text. On Thanksgiving we shared a few beers from the Pacific Northwest. I finally was able to try two beers from Ninkasi Brewing Company, out of Eugene, Oregon. It's a brewer I have heard good things about and its beers did not disappoint. We tried its Believer Double Red Ale and its Tricerahops Double IPA. Both beers seemed balanced and were not over the top, like some imperial ales. Elysian's The Immortal IPA proved once again that it is mortal.

I find Thanksgiving impossible to pair with wine or beer. There are just too many flavors and too many starches. A good Cabernet goes a long way, and I guess a big Zinfandel would probably work, too, since it is such an American wine, although I've never tried it with Thanksgiving. Over the years my beer choices have not matched the dinner. IPAs and the Belgians I've tried seemed to either get lost or brought in too many contrasting flavors. I need a beer that's an enhancer, not a fighter. This year I tried Brasserie Dupont's Bons Voeux, and it held its own, but still not as good as a big red wine. I am undeterred and will keep trying to find a beer that will enhance a Thanksgiving feast. Next year, maybe a Belgian quad....

Corvette Diner, the nosiest restaurant in San Diego (do all the patrons really need to hear music from the 50s and 60s at a level were even basic conversation is impossible?), is now serving Stone IPA. Now you can get a decent beer to ease your headache when eating at this disaster of a San Diego icon.

The two champagne flutes - er beer flutes - were at La Gran Tapa in downtown San Diego. The picture is a Firehouse Hefeweizen and a Stone Pale Ale. At least the small beers were only $2 and $3, respectively, but $2 may have been too much for the Firehouse Hefe.

The last picture is Sam Adams Winter Lager. This is a nice, spicy beer, and was much better than I was expecting. It is drinkable, yet complex enough to get your attention.