beer

Risen from the Dead: New Belgium/3 Floyds Grätzer review

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Grätzer is an old beer style from Poland using mainly oak-smoked wheat. The Gratzer style is now considered a sour ale. Grätzer is all but dead. Very few breweries around the world let alone Poland are brewing this kind of beer. Here comes New Belgium and 3 FLoyds breweries, respectively,  to bring it back. Should this zombie ale have been brought back from the (almost) dead? Or are New Belgium and 3 Floyds doing us all a favor in bringing this to our taste buds?

Grätzer pours a pitch black body with a thick beautiful dirty, tan head. From a glance it could be confused with a stout, porter or even a quad. However, once you get your nose close enough you’ll start to get a clue of what is in store.

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Sour! Yes, a decent sour scent hits you as you inch your nose closer to the brew. Not a terrible smell by any means at all, more like a very good sour candy would smell. Grätzer is very earthy and oaky as well – which I quite enjoy. Nothing like the smell of mother Earth. An almost burnt wheat flavor – which I would bet is from the oak smoked wheat. A very hidden hoppy scent was buried underneath the other aromas. You definitely had to reach for some to get them.

Once I got a feel for the look and smell of the brew, I wanted to dig in. I had tried this on draft a couple days prior at a YardHouse and was kinda underwhelmed. The smell from the bottle was immensely different so I was very hopeful this would be better batch.

At first taste I could instantly taste that my bottle had more flavors about. It definitely tasted much better (again, I think it was a bad keg). The feel as I took my first swig was very foamy and light. The beer, at appearance looks to be heavy or thick. Grätzer is actually quite drinkable. Like the smell, it has some earthy tones to the taste along with some subtle wheat flavors that blended nicely together. Malty flavors where definitely there, almost like a Malta or “kids beer” (Caribbean malt beverage, non-alcoholic) brewed very similarly to beer. Grätzer had a very subtle nuttiness to it that was near the aftertaste. The brew had a a sour after taste at the end which I felt got a bit more sour as I neared the end of my glass and bottle.

With all that being said, I don’t have much great nor bad things to say about Grätzer. I’m very neutral about it. Would I have one if I find one again? Sure. Would I go out of my way to find it again, probably not. I’m not sure if it’s just my palate not being used to this style if beer or if it’s just okay to me. Either way, I’m happy I got a chance to try this nearly dead beer style with its unique flavor and I do think some people will enjoy this more than I did.

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AVL Beer week pint glass giveaway!

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I wanted to do a give away for my readers. I was given a free pint glass after a beer and cheese tasting and had already bought one right before. I have a 2014 Asheville beer week pint glass ready to ship anywhere in the United States (sorry rest of the world, shipping is expensive). I will be running the contest for a week until July 9th and will post the winner on twitter and on the blog in a short post.

The rules are very simple. I want to try and kick-start more participation in the comments with my posts, so I just need you guys to comment below. One comment per person. Just Post what your favorite beer and or brewery is and why. Two or three sentences is fine, more is welcome if you have wonderful things to say and make me want to drink your favorite beers.

I will be reading all the comments left by everyone who leaves a comment up until the deadline. Winner will be selected at random. Thank you for reading and good luck!

Moments in Asheville 2014

The Wicked Weed.

The Wicked Weed.

Asheville, NC, three weeks later and I’m still thinking about all the fun, cool places and the awesome beer all over the city. In this post, I will write a bit about the bars and breweries we visited and try to do them justice with words and pictures. I just wanted to share some of the spots and events I checked out during my time there.

My first stop during my trip was the Thirsty Monk (Awesome name for a brew pub, if I do say so myself). We stopped by their newest location — they now have four in total — in Reynolds Village. They had a special Belgian beer event with over 20 Belgian style beers. The samplers were $15, if I remember correctly, for three waves of four 4 oz beer samples. Local beers from NC and the nearby regions were what were offered such as Oskar Blues, Lexingston Ave Brewing, Wicked Weed and Highland Breweries to name a few of the many on tap. The event was packed, but we managed to find a table outside. The weather was perfect. It was nice and cool with the fresh mountain air breezing nicely, it was a very nice change to the hot and humid South Florida weather and perfect for some Belgian style beers. A couple of my favorites were Big Boss Brewing’s Zombie and Oskar Blues Tickled Pink.

Altamont Brewing co. which we stumbled across after a little league baseball practice, is just a cool, chill spot. In order to get in, one of us was required to become a member of the brewery which was just $1 and is required to by law by NC to any brewery that doesn’t serve food. The brewery is dog friendly, has a ping-pong table, indoor and outdoor seating and live music. The event we went to had a rotating tap every couple hours with new brews being untapped. We played some ping pong while we sipped on our brews and then moved outside and had a Strong ale, that sadly I can’t remember the name of because it was pretty damn good.

One of the coolest, unique places we got to visit was Beer City Bikes in downtown Asheville. BCB is a bike shop with a beer bar in the middle of the shop. This is right at home for me and my girlfriend who were riding around the city on our bikes exploring before a beer and cheese pairing a few blocks away — more on that later. The bar was set in the middle of the shop surrounded by bikes, gear and stationary cadence machines. This would probably one of the spots I would be at at least once a week if I lived near by it was such a cool, chill spot for cyclists and beer lovers to hang out and grab good local beer. One of my favorite spots I got to check out in Asheville easily.

The Wicked Weed Brewing in Downtown Asheville serves as the brewery and restaurant. The upstairs had a bar and seating both indoor and outside while the brew room and tap room were downstairs that also had a outside area with benches and a stage for performances. The downstairs bar had over 30 beers on tap and if it wasn’t for the special Menage-A-Freak Triple IPA being released that night I would’ve had a hard time picking out what to drink. I’m glad I managed to get a taste of the Menage-A-Freak, since its a very limited one week release for Asheville beer week once a year due to its brewing process. Menage is a Triple IPA with an 11.4% ABV, but felt very smooth. Only wish I could’ve had another opportunity to try it again and write about it a bit more in depth. Wicked Weed was one of the larger breweries I managed to visit while I was there and a local favorite for good reason, usually very crowded with beer lovers at all times of the day. When I make it back again, I will definitely make my way to the “Weed.”

The Wienhaus was one of the last stops we made while in Asheville. We purchased two tickets for a cheese and beer pairing and explored the inside of the shop. They had wines, local and imported cheeses and of course beer. There was also a bar that served beers from the bottle and tap as well as wine by the glass. They had very nice selection of beers from all over NC, the US and imported brews too! They even had the giant Magnum style beer bottles that you can see below for sale. The event was for four beers with four different cheeses paired specifically for the brews picked. The beers were first picked by the shops son who runs the bar in the Wienhaus and the cheeses were the then picked by the affineur or cheese expert based on the taste, feel and ABV of the beers. To be honest, I think they did and amazing job selecting the cheeses for each respective beer and they paired nearly flawlessly. It was a fantastic experience and tons of fun. My favorite beer was the Green Man Brewing ESB and a couple of the cheeses that stood out were the beer cheese and the comte which is a french style gruyere — I thought was exquisite! Each table got a platter of cheese which we shared with another beer lover. It was awesome to taste and compare thoughts on the brews and cheese pairings with the others there. At the end of the event we were given a Asheville 2014 pint glass, which i will be giving away in my next post. Details on that soon.

Our final stop before we hit the road back home didn’t have anything to do with beer, but I thought was very cool and should be shared with you. Dough, a very sweet bakery (pardon the pun) in Asheville that bakes and creates very delicious baked goods! They even hold classes weekly for children and parents to learn to create crazy baked goods. This was probably the one non-beer related spot I really did not want to miss. A really good donut is something I really enjoy. I’ll let the picture spread for itself. Note: not pictured a half dozen donuts for me to take home. They were just as good!

As mentioned earlier stay tuned for my next post which should hit very shortly on how to win the Asheville beer week 2014 pint Glass. Until then Cheers!

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Pub Crawl 5/4/13

Filling station!

Filling station!

Last Saturday, May 3rd, I held a bike pub crawl to a few different bars or at least that was the original plan. I had originally set the crawl for 3pm and did some research on the bars I had selected to see what time they were open and if they had any kind of specials going on. A few days prior I decided to change the crawl to an earlier time (I was invited to a special event that I didn’t want to miss later that night). The crawl was moved from 3pm to 12pm noon the same day. With the time change, a few of the bars I had wanted to hit up were no longer going to be open by the time we got there, so I improvised and changed the route to some other spots. In the end it really didn’t matter and the crawl actually benefited from the time change due to some nasty weather that crept its way into Miami. More on that shortly. The full route we had was cut very short, but that didn’t stop us from having some good brews and having some fun on the way to the next spot.

Leading up to the crawl i was checking the forecast and it said rain and scattered thunderstorms. Had we gone with the original plan for 3pm, I don’t think we would’ve been able to hit up any bars or have been able to ride much if at all. That being said, we all had a great time and I will definitely be planning another crawl in the next month or two. Next time we’ll hopefully have a beautiful day to bike in and have it a bit more organized. This was my first attempt of many for this kind of thing. I hope to have some more riders join and be able to take the time off work.

We took tons of pics and videos which you’ll see below and a few awesome shots of the storm as it was rolling in. We did have one setback as one of my friends wiped out as the storm was approaching. A gust of wind knocked his bike into the guard rail as he was biking down a bridge (Not related to the drinking. We really didn’t get to get that much drinking done before the weather got to us). Luckily, the only damage that was caused was a fractured pinky finger and nothing more serious occurred.

I’d like to thank everyone who came out to drink and ride and especially Mike Palacios and Morgan DeFranco for braving the weather and taking some fantastic pictures of the day.

You’re all awesome! Thank you.

Morgan’s pub crawl pics >More pics at this link!

Mike Palacios

Morgan DeFranco

May 3rd Bike Pub Crawl Miami

Pub Crawl route

Saturday, May 3rd at 12pm I will be hosting a four to five bar bike pub crawl (depending on how drunk everyone is) around Miami Beach, Wynwood and Downtown Miami. Total mileage will be around 15 miles from point of origin and back. I will be posting a map of the route below using Strava. We will be meeting at lincoln road outside the Apple store.

If you have a bike and love beer, feel free to join us and have a good time! Pace shouldn’t be a problem, as we’ll be in a group and going at a nice cruising speed. We’ll be hitting up The Room, The Abbey, Gramps, The Corner and ending the ride at the Filling station for some food to help sober up.

If you have any questions feel free to contact me through the comments below, twitter or email at hohoshopservatory@gmail.com.

Hope to see you guys there!

P.S. bring cash as a few bars don’t take plastic.

Strava Pub Crawl Route

Review: Oskar Blues Ten Fidy

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Keeping with my recent trend, I’ve decided to keep experimenting with stouts as I’m committed to trying a wide range of them. As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, I’ve been a fan of other beers that Oskar Blues brews. Oskar Blues Ten Fidy, is a Russian style Imperial Stout. It is 10.5% ABV and is brewed in Brevard, North Carolina. Oskar Blues was actually originally located in Longmont, Colorado but in 2013 they opened up a second brewing facility in North Carolina where they offer tours and have a taproom as well brew all beers Oskar Blues is known for.

Ten Fidy is shipped in a can as opposed to a bottle, that is what most people are used to. Oskar Blues ships all their beers in cans and I’m sure it gets over looked as a brewer by many because of it. It’s a common misconception by many who aren’t aware of the positives a can offers. Plenty of people think beers shipped in a can aren’t as fresh or that it taste like metal because it’s contained in aluminum. Thats not the case. Cans actually prevent ultra-violet light from hitting the beer and keeping the beer tasting as fresh as possible for longer since cans they aren’t translucent. Cans have made a comeback in the beer world and for good reason. Same amount of beer as a bottle, less weight, cools better and is cheaper to produce.

Ten Fidy has some serious power and flavor. The flavors I got most consistently were chocolate, toffee, malt, barley, a coffee after taste and hints of vanilla. It was rich with good texture and packs a punch. Ten Fidy poured pitch black with a beautiful tannish-brown head. I poured it into both a pint and snifter glass on different occasions. I would probably try to drink this kind of beer out of a snifter if I had the glassware for it. Being a beer with a higher ABV this is a nice sipper. Doesn’t hurt that you’ll want to sit back and savor the rich flavors.

The aroma of the beer was interesting to say the least. It wasn’t bad or pungent by any means, but I felt like it almost didn’t fit the taste of the beer (maybe i got a hold of an older batch). I got very subtle notes of chocolate, hazelnut, vanilla and malt, but for some odd reason had a smell of green olives, it was bizarre. It didn’t ruin the flavor for me or the experience of the brew, but it did throw me off a bit while I was trying to uncover the other scents the beer had.

I can add another stout to my list of beers that I enjoy and I’m actually starting to crave them more and more as I try the ones I like. My stout list is starting to grow and with it my palate for the tastes and ingredients used to make them. I wouldn’t hand this beer to someone who just likes a Guinness or run of the mill stout, but I would recommend it to anyone looking for something full of flavor, can handle the ABV, enjoys the complexity of flavors and likes stouts. As long as the slightly off smell doesn’t bother you, which i don’t think will once you start drinking, I think you’ll love Ten Fidy. I’m still very new to stouts, but I feel this is one of the best I’ve had yet!

64 ounce growlers and more beer tastings coming to FL soon!

Beer growlers

Standard 32 ounce growler on the left and 64 ounce growler on the right.

Numerous bills have been filled to the Florida legislature to allow 64 ounce beer growlers to become legal for sale and for supermarkets and liquor stores to serve beer samples and tastings within the state.

64 ounce growlers have been outlawed since the prohibition in FL. Currently Floridian beer lovers are only able to buy 32 ounce growlers (with no limits on how many can purchased) and gallon sized growlers (which makes little sense that the 64 ounce growler is banned for sale), so anyone can just go into a brewery with two growlers or get them directly from the brewer and fill or buy two or more 32 ounce growlers that match or exceed the 64 ounce illegal growler size.

Supermarkets, such as Publix, Win-Dixie, Sedano’s etc.. as well as liquor stores will be able to offer beer samples and tastings, should the bill pass which would be another win for brewers, consumers, markets and liquor stores. Beer is prohibited from being served as a sample at these locations, while wine and spirits of higher ABV are legally served.

Heres hoping we’ll be able to purchase 64 ounce growlers from our favorite local brewers and be able to sample beer outside of bars soon!