We want the pump, gotta funk that pump…

We want the pump, gotta funk that pump…

Boulevard Brewing Company, Funkier Pumpkin, Kansas City, MO

Beautiful copper colored beer with a white head - Boulevard Brewing Company Funkier Pumpkin poured into a tulip glass.
Boulevard Brewing Company Funkier Pumpkin.

8.5% abv. 15 IBUs I cellared this one for about a year and a half! Best by date of 02-02-08. Quick fizz sound on popping the cork. Pours a rich copper color with a healthy white head. Very good carbonation and the head thins out, but lingers forever. Wild berries, cloves, pepper, and banana bread on the nose. You can taste the sour funk immediately but it is interestingly balanced by an earthy pumpkin flavor. This really is a unique melding of styles. 8.5% abv is completely masked by all of the complex flavors. Cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and ginger added but the brettanomyces yeast dominates the flavor with sour candied lemons, cherries, and cloves. Fruity and spicy with each sip, but not overwhelming. Faint vegetative flavors like asparagus and tobacco. Flavors continue with grape husks and blue flowers and I am not even through half a glass. Thirst quenching yet it gets drier with each sip. This is a fascinating beer that I am enjoying thoroughly. Especially on this cold winter night. Boulevard never, ever disappoints.

I see your -21 degree windchill and raise you a 12.9% abv barleywine…

I see your -21 degree windchill and raise you a 12.9% abv barleywine…

Goose Island Beer Company 2015 Bourbon County Brand Barleywine Ale, Chicago, IL

Goose Island 2015 Bourbon County Brand Barleywine Ale poured into a beer chalice.
Goose Island 2015 Bourbon County Brand Barleywine Ale

12.9% abv. The last version I tried was 12.3% abv and it was fabulous, so let’s see what this one brings. Bottled on October 28, 2015 making this over 2 years old. Remarkably, this is one of just a few dates of the 2015 release that was not recalled due to an unplanned exposure to a wild yeast. I feel lucky to have this one. It pours very dark brown with virtually no head. Burst of cherries, black strap molasses, and oak aromas upon opening the bottle. First sip is rich, sweet malt and dark fruit. Almost immediate alcohol warming, so this is perfect for a night that sports a -9 degree windchill that is falling to a -21 degree windchill in a few hours. All kinds of flavors bounce around the mouth including bourbon vanilla, cocoa, dates, figs, and anise. Oaky and sweet bourbon flavors get stronger with each sip. Full bodied and heavy on the tongue. A touch oily, yet viscous at the same time. Taste continues to develop with each sip…tawny port, sherry, toffee, caramel, and rum drenched raisins. Bourbon vanilla flavor lingers and lingers! This beer is boozy and delicious. Despite the disappointing sale to InBev, I am glad they have not messed with a good thing.

Revisting a classic…

Revisting a classic…

Founders Brewing Company, Kentucky Bourbon Stout, Grand Rapids, MI

Founders Brewing Company, Kentucky Bourbon Stout poured into a beer chalice.
Founders Brewing Company, Kentucky Bourbon Stout

11.2 % abv – On the label: “The Amazing Kosmicki’s Highly Acclaimed KBS A Flavored Stout is good for everything a flavored stout ought to be good for – Ale brewed with chocolate and coffee, aged in oak bourbon barrels”

This is a tough one to find. Many thanks to my brother Tom for chasing it down for me.

Pours a jet black color with a heavy dark tan head. Delicate lace all over the glass. Tiramisu, dark chocolate, and fresh cup of coffee on the nose. First sip is a mellow and sophisticated combination of chocolate, espresso, maple syrup, and bourbon ball cookies. Medium to full bodied mouthfeel. Be on notice, this is a dangerous beer. It is 11.2% abv, but incredibly drinkable. Virtually no alcohol esters. I did cellar this one for quite a while, but I imagine it is pretty smooth when it is fresh. It is not over sweet or cloying in any way. They throw in a wallop of 70 IBUs worth of hops in there to balance it off. The high alcohol and malt bill makes this 12 oz bottle a whopping 340 calories! As I make my way through it I am picking up the slightest citrus hop flavor, but it is really all chocolate and coffee goodness. By the end it is hard to tell the difference between a mild astringency from the heavy amount of malts in the mash and the hops, but I don’t mean this in a bad way. It gets drier and drier with each sip. Flavors continue to emerge, including bourbon vanilla, sherry, pepper, oatmeal, molasses, and anise. This is an incredibly complex beer that is a joy to drink.

Again in 2017.  It is 5 degrees with a -4 degree wind chill and I needed some warming up. KBS to the rescue. I am reviewing it without reading my previous notes from 2015. This one has been aged about 9 months. Chocolate and coffee aromas fight for domination, but it goes back and forth with each sip.  A pure dessert bomb of flavor. A touch of alcohol is noticeable on the first sip, but it is by no means boozy. It provides a very subtle warming on the back of the throat and belly by the third sip. This is just a crazy delicious beer. Plenty of oak and sherry-like dryness keeps the sweet chocolate and malt flavors from becoming too cloying. So complex, with dark chocolate, espresso, anise, dry oak, sherry, black strap molasses, bourbon vanilla, and subtle bursts of berries and citrus. I paired it up with a few Trader Joe’s Belgian truffles just to make it an even more ridiculous caloric experience.  I am trying to drink it slowly, but it is milkshake smooth and irresistible. Really just a delight to drink this. It has been in my top 25 beers of all time and it will stay there. That puts it in about the 99th percentile of the almost 2,400 beers I have tried! I have another one that I am going to cellar for another year. Check in again the next holiday season!

Riding the Flume…

Riding the Flume…

Battery Steele Brewing Company, Flume Double IPA, Portland, ME

Battery Steele Flume Double IPA poured into a nonic pint glass.
Battery Steele Flume Double IPA

Gift from my friend Brian Souza. 8% abv. Pours a heavy, hazy, orange color with a thin tan head. Jumping with mango, pineapple, and papaya aromas. First sip is thicker and richer than expected…a full bodied and chewy IPA in all the best ways. Grapefruit and pine resin hop bite lingers forever. Wheat and oats add some balancing malt sweetness. Sneaky masking of high abv with all the delicious flavor. Grapefruit scents and flavors become stronger with each sip. This beer has an interesting combination of dankness, sweetness, and earthiness that I really love. Another killer IPA from Portland, ME. This beer just jumped into my top 100 list. Delicious. Looking forward to visiting and trying more on my next trip to Portland.

Whale isn’t this a Fin(e) IPA…

Whale isn’t this a Fin(e) IPA…

Finback Brewery, IPA, Queens, NY

Finback IPA poured into a nonic pint glass.
FInback IPA.

7.2% abv. A ridiculous 112 IBU! Pours a gorgeous hazy orange gold color with a healthy white head. Excellent Belgian lace. Amazing grapefruit, mango, pineapple, and orange rind aroma. Super drinkable for a relatively high abv. Touches of pine, herbs, and white pepper about halfway through. Hop flavors linger on the tips of the tongue and gums. Solid malt backing with caramel and water cracker flavors adds some balance. Interesting blending of grapefruit, mango, and pineapple with each sip. This is a delicious IPA that creates a great balance of bitter dankness, tropical juiciness, with a dry and lingering finish. I love it.

Wait a second…

Wait a second…

Fiddlehead Brewing Company, Second Fiddle Double IPA, Shelburne, VT

Fiddlehead Brewing Company, Second Fiddle DIPA poured into a nonic pint glass.
Fiddlehead Brewing Company, Second Fiddle DIPA

8.2% abv. Purchased at Liquor Junction in Reading, MA. Pours a beautiful murky, orange-gold color with a healthy white head. Solid Belgian lace. Mango, apricot, pine, and orange rind on the nose. First sip is shockingly smooth with no alcohol presence at all, which is scary for a beer as big as this. Some warming in the belly after 4 or 5 sips. Pine and spruce flavors get stronger with each sip. Some zippy spiciness at finish from high alcohol and huge hop profile. Orange and lemon candy flavors with some caramel and bread roll malt flavors. Rock solid all the way through. This one has it all, the look, the aroma, the huge taste.

Kunu about this brewery, Chuck it out…

Kunu about this brewery, Chuck it out…

Theory Brewing Company, Kunu & Chuck IPA, Wells, ME

Theory Brewing Co. Kunu & Chuck IPA poured into a nonic pint glass.
Theory Brewing Co. Kunu & Chuck IPA.

 

Gift from my friend Brian Souza. 6.8% abv. Interesting concept nano brewery run by the Sevigney Family. They experiment with hypothesis beers and get feedback and then tweak the recipes to create theory beers that may become part of their flagship beer list. Pours a rich, semi-opaque gold color with a one inch white head. First whiff is lemon zest, dried apricot, and ripe mango. Smooth and super drinkable. Tropical fruit and floral hop flavors. More juicy than bitter. Gentle hop tingle at finish with the slightest herbal spiciness, a touch of berry sweetness. A very nice offering from this this unique Maine nano brewery. Keep them coming.

I just had an epiphany…

I just had an epiphany…

Foundation Brewing Company, Epiphany Maine IPA, Portland, ME

Foundation Epiphany Maine IPA poured into a nonic pint glass.
Foundation Epiphany Maine IPA

Gift from my friend Brian Souza after a trip to Portland. 8% abv. 85 IBUs. Pours gold with lots of floaters. Wonderful Belgian lace. Ripe pineapple, spruce, and a touch of peppery spice on the nose. First sip is a zesty combination of white pepper and citrus rind. Smooth mouthfeel and very drinkable. Perhaps lacking a bit in carbonation. Some hearty malt sweetness helps balance things off, but mostly a hop bomb. Very enjoyable, but falls a bit flat given all of the hype surrounding it. I’ll take anything by Bissell Brothers over this any day.

This is great Shift…

This is great Shift…

Night Shift Brewing, One Hop This Time – Mosaic, Everett, MA

Night Shift Brewing, One Hop This Time, Mosaic poured into a nonic pint glass.
Night Shift Brewing, One Hop This Time, Mosaic.

6% abv. Can dated 11/6/17 so this is about 3 weeks old. Only mosaic hops used in this one. Pours a murky yellow gold with a white head. Lemon, grapefruit, and fresh cut grass on the nose. Jumping with tropical fruit notes including mango and papaya with the slightest tart blueberry flavor. Slight bready and dry cracker malt flavors, but this is pretty much a delicious hop bomb. Bitterness lingers on the gums and back of the throat with floral, citrus, and herbal flavors. It is fun to distinguish the differences in this recipe with each batch using a different hop varietal. This is the 6th on I have tried and they have all been great.

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a super session IPA…

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a super session IPA…

Aeronaut Brewing Company, Hop Hop & Away, Somerville, MA

Aeronaut Brewing Company, Hop Hop & Away IPA poured into a nonic pint glass.

A gift from my friend Derek O’Brien. Batch 384, can dated 10/26/17. 4.6% abv. 42 IBUs. Made with citra and mosaic hops. As always, super cool can art by Raul Gonzalez III. Pours murky gold with a inch thick fluffy white head. Grapefruit, mango, and orange zest on the nose. Surprising first sip is popping with citrus flavor…this is no ordinary session IPA. Touches of dried apricot, fresh cut grass, and apple skin. Smooth, drinkable mouthfeel, but plenty of hop bite to keep it interesting. Bitterness is balanced well by a rye bread and caramel sweetness. An excellent session beer for a summer bbq or to quaff over the holidays. Brewed in Somerville, MA, so drink local!