Cigar City- OktoberFest

Guys and gals, I must first apologize that for the absence I’ve had the last couple week’s blogging. As is a pretty well-known fact around my friends, I am moving back to Denver this weekend! I am super excited, but have had a literal “shit-ton” of things to do and haven’t been able to sit down and enjoy a beer with you all. But that’s about to change! I am drinking a seasonal that I didn’t even know existed until last week, Cigar City OktoberFest. I am a big fan of this brewery, and a big fan of this style, so let’s hope the combo is something delicious!

First things first, the label on this beer is pretty awesome, as a German myself, I love a little Bavarian flag action, and love that a brewery with Spanish roots is doing a German Bier fest inspired brew! I usually think that breweries that use a sticker on their cans look kinda crappy, but I was impressed with how well done Cigar city has done theirs, they lay nice on the can and its honestly hard to even tell it’s a sticker and not just a smaller graphic!

I poured the beer into my Biscayne Bay Brewing shaker pint glass (Sorry it’s not more unique, all my others are packed!!). And since I am an expert at photography, check out the nice German Stein that I acquired in Germany, a full liter of deliciousness. OktoberFest pours a nice clear brown orange with a nice little rocky white hat. Märzens are a German style lager that took off in Bavaria probably before the 16th century. A lot of people mistake a lager as a pee colored fizzy water beer, and think that is all that a lager can ever be… and that is totally false! The only real difference between ales and lagers is the fermentation temperature of the yeast, which of course is a large reason any beer tastes how it does! On the nose the beer is fairly light, sweet and malty, a little bit of caramel and bready all around. The palate shows it as very malty up front, with a little bit of toastyness., fading into nice floral hop notes giving a clean finish. It is very true to the style.

 

Judgment

The Märzen style is a style that follows German purity law, so that alone tells you that you won’t get a lot of unexpected flavors. I’d say this is right on for a Märzen, and is something that I’d buy again (given the opportunity). It isn’t particularly exciting, but I think it’d be a great football beer if you choose to drink something with some flavor. If you can get your hands on it, check it out!!

 

Prost! (German Cheers!)

New Belgium- Tour De Fall

So It’s only fitting that today my beer is Tour De Fall by New Belgium. Every year, New Belgium puts on a massive bike parade in cities around the country (Even in Miami! Although, I will have already moved back to Colorado by that point… missing both CO and FL Tours L). It is nearly fall, and New Belgium is one of the breweries with a reputation for some kick ass seasonals, and top notch beers all around, I’ve reviewed a few of their beers, and am continually impressed with what they put on the shelf.

I fittingly poured my Tour De Fall into my New Belgium globe, which in the wake of the Rams domination last night, it is only fitting to be wearing one of my Colorado State shirts as well! Man do I miss Foco! The beer is a dark copper amber with a nice head, New Belgium loves making beers with great heads, and the head on this has great retention, especially for a pale ale! The nose is clean and very hop forward, with a lot of hops coming through. According to the label, this shows love for the Amarillo and Cascade hops, which are known for their citrusy aroma. There is a decent balance with some sweetness from the malt, and although it goes against what I’ve read for this beer, I get a lot of earthy notes on the nose.

On the palate, this is a clean beer. Coming from the powerhouse in Foco, I would expect nothing else. Its relatively high ABV for the style at 6% but it’s very balanced in its hoppiness, and has a very nice malt backbone, careful not to overwhelm on either accord. It drinks very easy, usually while blogging I find myself about half done with a beer by the end of the beer impression, but I am looking at a very empty glass right now… looking to more than likely pour another out of the six pack.

    

Judgment

This is a solid all around beer, but I was expecting a little more from New Belgium. This is a good beer from anyone else, but I have to say I think the weakest season for New Belgium seasonals is fall. With that said, seasonal beers are supposed to capture the season, and I don’t necessarily like the “taste” of fall. I think for me, this is one of those beers I am happy to say I’ve had, but realistically it’s not the strongest New Belgium has put out. Check it for yourself though! One of my friends raves about this beer, and I am just waiting for the text from him when he reads this.

 

Yeghes da! (Cornish for Good Health!)

Bell’s Brewery- Two Hearted Ale

Have any of you guys seen the way a beer has been branded and been completely turned off by it? When I moved to Miami I saw a ton of beers I hadn’t heard of in Denver, and tons of interesting branding. I am going to say this right now front and center, and say I hate the way Bell’s Brewery has branded their Two hearted Ale. I don’t know what old timey beer we are looking at, but all I see is some kind of fish in my face… I think I will pass. But then something funny happened. I saw that Two Hearted Ale was in a top 10 list for IPAs in the country for 2013. Are you kidding me? I had totally written Bell’s off, only because of their branding. Well, apparently according to my good friend the internet, you can’t read a book by its cover.

I poured Two Hearted into my glass designed especially designed for IPAs (which I am super bummed to report is my only one now due to a tragic bumping off the table with my elbow!). The beer pours a fairly clear golden amber, with a nice off white head that sticks around through the duration of the beer. The scent of the beer is enticing; it is very clean, hop forward with a lot of citrus coming from the bouquet. I also seem to pick up a hint of green apples. On the palate, you get a nice sweetness from the malts, with a hint of citrus. Tangerine and lemon peel play together nicely, with a strong (but most certainly not overdone) hope bitterness at the tail end, as expected from most IPAs. This beer really does have the best of both worlds, extremely well balanced and at 7% abv you don’t get any alcohol at all.

 

Judgment

Overall, this beer is an example of one of the great readily available 6 packs that I have found in Florida. I must say that I enjoy the beer on draft a bit more, which is lucky for me since my favorite bar by my office seems to always have this on tap. I’ve heard that to have a successful beer you must have both fantastic branding to sell the first beer, and great liquid to sell the second and beyond. And although I personally don’t like the branding… I love the beer. This is a go to for me, and its something I could drink between every beer, it is a very well done beer. If you see this and are at all hesitant due to being stared at by a fish, pick up a 6 pack because it is well worth it.

 

Skål! (Norwegian for cheers!)

 

Bonus!

I forgot that I had acquired a Bell’s Shaker Pint glass!

Cigar City Brewing- Invasion Pale Ale

Guys, it has been a crazy week, so I am gonna skip the pleasantries and dive right into why we’re all here… That’s right; I’m going to drink a beer.

Today I shipped out a package of beer for a trade. I’m the kind of guy who tries to send a little local flavor with every package. So usually what I do is I run out and pick up a six pack of some cigar city and split it up between shipments. But since today was only one shipment and I could only fit two beers in, I guess I have to drink the other four myself. So what I am sending as an extra this week is Cigar City’s Invasion Pale Ale, a beer I’ve been looking to try for a while, and when I saw it was on sale I decided to pick up a 6er.

I Poured this beer into my brand spanking new Biscayne Bay Brewing Company glass that my good buddy, BBBC (or as I try to get them to start doing 3BC) head brewer Aaron Anderson gave me. Biscayne Bay is gonna do some killer stuff in Miami, and I think this is a market ripe for craft beer, and will really do some damage to the macro lager and import market that dominates Miami. They’re brand new and are just now brewing their first batches, but I’ve seen the recipe, and I am extremely excited to try some of their beers.

Invasion pours a clean copper orange, which is extremely clear with a nice solid head. It smells clean, with some tropical fruit on the nose… clear evidence of some yeast flavor coming through as there is no fruit in this beer. The taste is fairly true to the nose. Lots of sweet citrus, backed up with pleasant hop bitterness, it’s fairly clean and doesn’t lie on your palate after each sip, which makes you drink it a little fast if you ask me. To be honest, there really isn’t a lot of flavor besides that fruitiness with very understated hops. There is no lacing on this half empty glass, which isn’t in and of itself a bad thing, but I’m the guy who likes to see some lacing from your pales and IPAs.

 

Judgment

This is a decent pale ale. It’s not the best I’ve had, but it falls in the top third fairly easy. If I am looking at a shelf with only Cigar City beer, I would probably pass this up for a Jai Alai. Its good, and I’m happy I tried it, but I don’t see myself having it again in the near future.

 

As Always check me out on Instagram- MattySchnitz

Noş! (Kurdish for Cheers)

Prairie Artisian Ales- Birra

So I know a lot of people who don’t know me personally don’t know this about me, but I love working out. Pretty high up on the list behind beer actually as far as my hobbies go, I really enjoy it. And when it comes to working out, there is one major rule that most people should follow for optimal results- And that is no alcohol before or after lifting, for a few hours at least. But ya know what, sometimes after killing a back and bis day, sometimes you just need a good beer. So lets break some rules.

Tonights’s beer is a pretty interesting one. I am drinking Birra by Prairie Artisan Ales out in Oklahoma. Prairie has really been making a name for themselves with some killer beers, Bomb! Is an imperial stout aged in barrels with vanilla beans, coffee beans, cocoa nibs, and get this… ancho chili peppers, sounds crazy right? Well, I have one at home in CO just waiting for me to drink it! Now Birra is what is called a “farmhouse” ale. Where this term comes from, is that traditionally it was a beer fermented in a farmhouse (usually in Belgium from my understanding). The unique thing about this style of fermentation is that it often allows “wild” yeasts to infect the beer. This infection of wild yeast imparts a “funky” barnyard taste to it. Fast forward to today, we generally identify this strain of yeast as Brettanomyces, or more simply, Brett. Since the yeast in beer does a huge amount of the flavoring, the brett when added to beer often imparts that funky flavor that quite frankly, you need to try to understand!

So Birra was poured from the stubby 12 oz bottle into my Odell’s snifter. The beer pours a hazy straw colored yellow/gold, very hazy, with a nice head that dissipates fairly quickly. On the nose is a nice floral bouquet, a little bit of lemon and a large amount that funky barnyard yeast coming through. The taste is very funky (again, I am sorry, but you need to try it to understand!), malty and earthy, kind of sweet, but has a dry mouthfeel which is intriguing. However, the overpowering flavor is that funkiness that you need to try sometime!

 

Judgment

This beer is a great example of a very brett forward beer. That said, I like funky beers but this takes it a little too far. I got a few of these because they were relatively cheap at my local bottle shop, and I have to say, it probably won’t be a beer that I try again anytime in the near future… If you’ve never had a farmhouse ale, try it! If you love farmhouse ales… hopefully you like this more than me!

On a random sidenote though, I love the label of this beer. It is a phenomenal design, and extremely intricate. This is one of those instances where I applaud the branding, as that is mostly why I picked these up!

 

Cheers!

Russian River Brewing- Supplication

Sour beer is a delicacy in the beer world. And I am one of those who absolutely love this stuff. In the sour beer scene, you have a few major players: Jester King, New Belgium, Wicked Weed, Avery, and of course, Russian River. My first sip of sour beer was upon returning back from my Semester At Sea in college, returning to Fort Collins for a night of fun and drinking with my college buddies I had missed while abroad. We were playing a drinking game, and my roommate said he was drinking a $15 dollar beer, which I thought was insane for a single 22oz beer, you can get two six packs of the crap I drank back then for that money, what gives! He made me try it, and I was hooked. This was a beer called La Folie from New Belgium. A sour brown that to this day is hard for me to pass up when I see it on a shelf.

Sour beers are pretty weird, no way around that. They’re becoming a huge fade in the American craft beer scene, and you’re seeing some really unique varities coming out. However, before this fade started (or perhaps the company who helped start it), Russian River Brewing in Santa Rosa, CA was throwing beer in barrels with bacteria, and enjoying every drop that came out. Sour beer is interesting, many varieties start out life as normal beer, however when the brewers secret bacteria and wild yeasts are thrown in and let it sit for months on end, the magic happens.

Tonight I am drinking Supplication from Russian River, and I have to say, the Russian River reputation holds itself pretty highly, so I hope my expectations aren’t too high on this one! I pop the cork on the bottle, and pour the beer into my Silly Saison glass (Which is actually a Belgian saison, not just well, a goofy glass), the beer pours a dark amber/hazy brown, with very minimal opaque-ness, only really letting through any light when held right up to one. The head is minimal, and disapates fairly quickly. It seems a good amount of carbonation has been lost while this beer was sitting in barrels for 9-15 months. The aroma is incredible, for those of you who know what a sour beer smells like, you know exactly what I am talking about. For those of you who don’t… go buy one right now. The nose is funky… acidic with notes of vinegar, dirty socks, but a refreshing sweetness. Again, if you don’t know what a sour beer smells like, please go try to find one, it’s something you have to try for yourself. This is a beer aged with cherries, and I have to say, I get it all on the taste. Again, its funky, with a fruity sweetness, an acidic backbone, but a clean tartness. You can definitely taste some of the wine barrel in the background as well. Its lightly carbonated, so it doesn’t dance on your tongue, but its okay… your tongue is dancing from the flavor this time.

Judgment

This is a staple sour, and I knew it going in. Sours are one of those beers that you can’t throw down, and I find myself taking small sips, and appreciating the smell just as much or if not even more than the taste. If you can find this on the shelves, buy it. If you like sour beer, you will NOT be disappointed. I’m having one beer tonight, and will be falling asleep completely satisfied from that one beer.

Have you had supplication? What’d you think?? I want to know!

 

As always: @mattyschnitz

 

Bula! (Fijian for Cheers!)

Cigar City Brewing- Patio Pils

On today’s installment of Normal Guy Beer, I am drinking a beer from one of my favorite Florida brewers: Cigar City. These guys are killing it up in the cigar city of Tampa, FL. They’ve only been around for 5 years, but are absolutely one of the most respected brewers in the country. To put that in perspective, Avery Brewing just celebrated their 21st anniversary, so CCB has a quarter the experience as Avery. However, their Double Barrel Hunaphu’s Imperial Stout is one of the “whales” in the beer community, and they trade for gold, literally. I’ve had some really good limited release beers from Cigar City, but they’ve all been pretty heavy beers, so I am interested in trying one of their lighter limited run beers.

Patio Pils is described as a pre-prohibition pilsner. Touting a so called update on the style Cigar City claims to have put a modern twist on the everyday pilsner. This was poured into my Castle Lager glass, which I… acquired from a café in South Africa in 2012. (Castle is the macro domestic lager in S. Africa). The pour was a brilliant pale golden, which a delicious, healthy, almost over developed head for the style. On the nose, this beer is nice sweet malt, with a little bit of tropical hops and yeast character. The Taste is fairly true to nose, a nice malty sweetness, with a small amount of bittering/ fruity hops on the tail end. This is a very full bodied pilsner, and has nice carbonation lending itself to a clean mouthfeel. This beer has a nice kick for a pilsner, coming in at 6% ABV, something I could session on a warm Florida day.

Judgment

Overall, I think this is a solid pilsner. When I took a first sip, I was immediately refreshed. I actually found myself whispering “dang, this has some body” while setting it down the first time. However, due to the fact that this is relatively limited, and something that has limited appeal to me, I am going to put this in the “Happy I tried it, but won’t seek it out again” category. I think if you see it on shelves, pick one up, especially if you can get a single bottle or two.

 

Hope you enjoy the new format on the page! Took me a good little while to get everything set up the way I liked it!

Follow me on Instagram! @MattySchnitz

 

Biba! (Chamorro for cheers!)

Sixpoint Craft Ales- The Crisp

Big News! This blog, the one you are reading right now, is the first that I will be posting since becoming a sidebar link on the /r/CraftBeer subreddit! Although it’s one of the smaller beer related subs out there right now, I am super stoked! This puts me on the front page where 3500 subscribers can see my link! So if you’re from Reddit, welcome!

So Sixpoint is a brewery out of Brooklyn, NYC. They can their beer, but if you ask them, they don’t can… they nano keg their beer. I’ve had a few of Sixpoint’s beers before and have been pretty stoked. Their Bengali IPA is one of my favorites right now. I will be visiting NYC in September, and I most certainly plan to visit the brewery! So on toThe Crisp. This is a pilsner, which many people think is one of the most boring beers out there, you know… Coors Miller and Bud are all domestic pilsners. But there is something magical that happens when the beer isn’t lightened with adjuncts to take out calories. And there’s something even cooler that happens when you add more grain and make a double Pilsner, much like the delicious Odell’s seasonal 4 pack.

I’m using a new glass today in honor of my success from Reddit. I received a pilsner glass with the Reddit robot etched into the side for arbitrary day this year on Redditgifts. So pouring from the nano keg, the beer pours a familiar yellow golden, with a nice head that stays with the beer through drinking the entire glass. On the nose this beer is very… well… crisp. It’s very malty, bready and has a nice floral bouquet. The taste is pretty clean, a hint of sweetness, and a decent dose of bitter on the tail end. There isn’t much body, which since this is a 5.4% abv beer, I was expecting more. It’s very on for the style, but when it comes down to it, this isn’t an exciting style. I can say I’d take a six pack of this over a six pack of NASCAR beer, that’s for sure!

Judgment

In my opinion, this is probably one of the weaker beers by Sixpoint. But that said it’s a good pilsner. Relatively unexciting, but 100% correct to style. Would I buy this again? Maybe if I was going to the beach, or floating the river, otherwise I will opt for a Bengali from these guys.

I love the brand, and I can’t wait to visit in September!

Follow me on Instagram! @MattySchnitz

Broscht! (Swiss German for Cheers!)

Russian River- Pliny The Elder

So I have a kind of odd rule of thumb when it comes to blogging: I will never blog about a beer during the first time I drink it. So me blogging about Pliny the Elder is a treat, because that means I’ve had multiples of this beer. Pliny the Elder is brewed by Russian River Brewing in CA. They are extremely well known for their sours, and their two flagship IPAs Blind Pig and Pliny.

Pliny the Elder just so happens to be either #1 or #2 on the overall beer rankings depending on where you look, second only to Heady Topper by Alchemist, a beer I’ve been lucky enough to land in trades in the past. Unfortunately I wasn’t blogging a few months ago… so I guess I will have to get some more! Pliny is bottled in a 510 ML bottle, which is a very generous bottle size, and despite its legendary reputation, is still only around $5 a bottle if you find it at the right place! The Logo is simple, and very understated, and the rest of the writing on the bottle is all in comic sans, which is a font I love, but people tend not to enjoy… It is noted multiple times that this beer should be drank fresh, so I should note that this bottle is from 6/17/14, a little old, but considering I live in Miami and got this in a trade from someone who lives in NJ, I will take what I can get.

So on to the beer! It pours a brilliant golden copper with a nice solid head. I decided to drink from my glass made for IPAs, and I must say I think I made the right choice. The nose of the beer shines with hops, very fruity and a lot of citrus and I want to say a hint of vanilla. It’s smooth as all hell, and you pull a good bit of pine off the hops as well. West coast IPAs are usually more fruit forward in the aroma, whereas east coast IPAs tend to hop with a piney/ woodsy forward style of hops. The taste is ultra-smooth for an IPA. Up front you get a nice malty backbone, with a balanced sweetness. I find it very well balanced with hops on the backend, but it isn’t overwhelming like many IPAs are now. It’s a very easy beer to drink. I like to contrast this to one of my favorites, Rampant by New Belgium. Rampant is so (almost obnoxiously) hop forward, and is extremely bitter, and at 8.5% abv, that bitterness does a decent job at cutting the booziness in the beer. Contrast that to Pliny, where the beer is so well balanced, I almost forgot to mention it is only 8% abv, because you don’t taste it at all.

Judgment

When I worked at a liquor store back during the holidays in college, people went crazy for Pliny, and I didn’t really know why. I was new to craft beer, and a good beer to me when I turned 21 was, well, anything but PBR, Key Light and Natty Light, which were found at most parties. Now that I’ve developed my palate somewhat, and really have a decent scope of comparison, I can really appreciate this beer. This is one of those beers that anyone should try, and anyone with decent beer knowledge would enjoy. Its smooth as anything, and smells like heaven. I will buy this again.

 

Extra! Beer Trade Pic

For anyone who doesn’t know, I have gotten very into beer trading, where I trade out rare beers I have for rare beers I want.

For this trade, I sent out 4 Muy Bonitas (an apple brandy barrel aged Double Brown) from Funky Buddha Brewing in Oakland Park, FL. What I received were: Pliny, RR Consecration, RR Supplication, Wicked Weeds Black Angel, Westbrook Gose, Barrel Aged Speedway Stout, Olde Hickory Irish Walker, Wicked Weed TakeTake, Jester King atrial, JK Detritivore, Goose Island BCBS, Prairie Funky Gold Mosiac, Wicked Weeds Oblivion Sour Red, and Cigar City Don Govina Big Guava.

All in all, I traded $100 of beer to three people for what I calculate as over $150 of beer that I cannot wait to drink!

 

ᐃᓅᓯᖃᑦᓯᐊᖅ

(Cheers in Inuktitut!)

Cigar City- Jai Alai IPA

Since I’ve moved to Miami, I’ve wanted to go watch Jai Alai. Unfortunately, I haven’t done that yet… so I need to get my shit together and go check that out!! I’m re-drinking Jai Alai IPA tonight, from Cigar City up in Tampa. This beer is getting rave reviews and I have to say the first time I tried it… I wasn’t that impressed! Let’s see how my palate has grown!

So First things first, I poured this into my Spiegelau IPA glass, which is a completely new take on a beer drinking glass. This glass was engineered with Dogfish Head Brewing for the perfect glass to drink an IPA out of. The bottom “handle” portion is actually ribbed, that way with every sip, the beer is agitated to keep a nice head on the beer. This combined with the snifter like top part, keeps aromatics at a maximum, and I believe it really does make the beer taste better.

Jai Alai poured from the can (which as we all know, I love canned beer) a nice copper/orange, clear as a Colorado day, nice head (due of course to an expert pour ;) ). Aroma is very fruity, not as in your face bitter as many IPAs seem to be now a days, and it’s also not overly hoppy. The taste is fairly right on as well, You get a pretty decent earthy/soily/hoppy flavor, with a little bit of fruit- primarily citrus, and a very clean malt backbone. I don’t remember what I was tasting when I first moved here, but this beer is either better now, or I’m a far more educated beer drinker. As this beer warms up, I have actually been pulling more and more fruit out of the flavor. Not to mention of course, great lacing on the glass- and a nice head throughout the beer, aided by the glass!

Judgment

This beer is significantly better than I remember. Through the past few months I have become a fairly avid beer trader, and when you trade, most people will send some local extras just for fun. This was actually picked up to send as said extras, but I am happy I got to try one as this IPA is very solid, and something I can really get behind. I will be buying this again!

 

Prost! (Very common European Cheers!)