Posts Tagged ‘cigar city’

Another month has come and gone….I do apologize to all two of my faithful readers who actually give a shit about what I have to say for getting this out so late.  In the month of April, 81 beers were reviewed….and by reviews, I mean actual reviews…not jerk off reviews where some asshole goes to a beer festival, has a half ounce of a beer and has it totally figured it out.  Unfortunately, this is also a side effect of too much travelling and not having anything really productive to do on the road.

Anyways…beers, beers, and more beers… out of the 81 reviewed last month, here were the tops for May:

Top 5 Beer Reviews for May (yeah, its only 6 this month):


The 5 Beer Reviews (okay, 7) that shows how everyone is trying to do a Berliner Weisse now (and poorly):

  • Old First Ward Crikrat Kolsch ~ Kolsch ~ 3.1 /5 Rating
  • Funk Brewing Crimson ~ Farmhouse / Saison Ale ~ 3.1 /5 Rating
  • Local Option Bierwerker Blood ov the Kings ~ American Wheat Ale ~ 3.1 /5 Rating
  • The Bruery Papier ~ Belgian Strong Ale ~  3.1 /5 Rating
  • Strand Brewing Ito Weisse ~ Berliner Weisse  ~ 2.9 /5 Rating
  • Ithaca Brewing Cruiser ~ Berliner Weisse ~ 2.8 /5 Rating
  • And the beer that just proves not every beer is all that rare was Jester King Brewing Bonnie the Rare ~ Berliner Weisse ~ 2.7 /5 Rating

…if you read the title and kept reading this thread, well then that is on you.  You’ve been warned!!!

A quick recap for myself in the craft beer genre

As all of my friends know that I am a craft beer ticker.  A ticker is someone who rates every beer that they have tried as they go, regardless of style, preference or quality.  A rating can be anything from a quick 1 to 5 score (5 being the highest) up to a full review with full descriptions of appearance, nose, taste and mouthfeel.  Unfortunately, I do not have a total for beer reviews for 2013 because I dumped all my information from Beer Advocate to Rate Beer then blew up my BA account.  If I were to take an educated guess, it would have to be upwards over 700 different reviews and with that being said, lets check out the best of the best from last year.

The Merc Top 20 of 2013:

20.   Deschutes Brewery Black Butte XXIV ~ American Porter ~ 4.44 /5 Rating

19.    Bruery Sour in the Rye with Kumquats ~ American Wild Ale ~ 4.44 /5 Rating

18.    Upright Brewing Four Play ~ Saison / Farmhouse Ale ~ 4.45 /5 Rating

17.    Trappistes Rochefort 8 ~ Belgian Strong Dark Ale ~ 4.46 /5 Rating

16.    Almanac Beer Co. Heirloom Pumpkin Barleywine ~ 4.46 /5 Rating

15.    Founders CBS Imperial Stout ~ American Double / Imperial Stout ~ 4.48 /5 Rating

14.    Hoppin’ Frog Bairille Aois BORIS ~ Russian Imperial Stout ~ 4.48 /5 Rating

13.    Cantillon Fou Foune ~ Lambic – Fruit ~ 4.48 /5 Rating

12.    Cigar City Hunahpu Imperial Stout ~ American Double / Imperial Stout ~ 4.49 /5 Rating

11.    Fat Heads Brewing IBUsive ~ American Double / Imperial IPA ~ 4.49 /5 Rating

10.   The Ale Apothacary Sahati ~ Sahti ~ 4.50 /5 Rating

9.     Live Oak Brewing Hefeweizen ~ Hefeweizen ~ 4.50 /5 Rating   (thanks Chris)

8.     Bruery Preservation Series: Or Xata ~ American Blonde Ale ~ 4.50 /5 Rating

7.     Bruery Oude Tart with Cherries ~ American Wild Ale ~ 4.50 /5 Rating

6.     Lost Abbey Duck Duck Gooze (batch 1) ~ American Wild Ale ~ 4.54 /5 Rating   (thanks Nate)

5.     Cascade Brewing Vlad the Imp Ale ~ American Wild Ale ~ 4.60 /5 Rating

4.     Funky Buddha Veruca Snozzberry Gose ~ Gose ~ 4.60 /5 Rating   (thanks Miami Mike)

3.     VooDoo Brewing Black Magick Pappy Van Winkle ~ American Double / Imperial Stout ~ 4.61 /5 Rating  (thanks Tom)

2.     Cantillon Lou Pepe Kriek (2003) ~ Lambic – Fruit ~ 4.70 /5 Rating   (thanks Tom?)

and the Top Rated Merc Beer for 2013 was….Trappistes Rochefort 10 ~ Quadruple ~ 4.75 /Rating

Honorable Mention: Funky Buddha Passion Fruit Berliner

You will notice some names next to some of the beers listed above, that is just an appreciation to the people that shared or gathered those beers.  One great thing about the craft beer community is that most people will get really outstanding or rare beers not only to try them but to also share them with other people.  It is not all about a bunch of guys getting together to get drunk and make fools of themselves, its more of a profound brotherhood.

Now it is time for the 2nd annual installment of “The Merc-y Awards” (pronounced Merk-ee)

Favorite New Breweries Visited in 2013:

  1. Crooked Stave Artisan Beers ~ Denver Colorado
  2. Hoppin’ Frog Brewery ~ Akron Ohio
  3. New Belgium Brewing ~ Boulder Colorado

Honorable Mention: Voodoo Brewing Company ~ Meadville Pennsylvania

Favorite New Brewpubs Visited in 2013:

  1. NoDa Brewing Company ~ Charlotte North Carolina
  2. Tired Hands Brewing Brewing ~ Ardmore Pennsylvania
  3. Olde Mecklenburg Brewery ~ Charlotte North Carolina

Honorable Mention: Market Garden Brewing ~ Cleveland Ohio

Favorite Beers of 2013 (regardless of review or rating, this is more of preference):

  1. Cantillon Lou Pepe Kriek
  2. DESTIHL Saint Dekkera Reserve Sour Raspberry/Strawberry Ale
  3. Funky Buddha Veruca Snozzberry Gose

Honorable Mention: Bruery Oude Tart with Cherries

Biggest Surprises of 2013 (regardless of review or rating, more of a surprise because I usually don’t like the style):

  1. Bruery Or Xata
  2. New Glarus Strawberry Rhubarb
  3. Perennial Barrel Aged Abraxas

Honorable Mention: Buffalo Bayou Gingerbread Stout

Here is to a healthy and great drinking 2014 (hopefully, I get a real job soon…).  Prost!

The second day in Denver started off much like the previous day, getting up way too early and having way too little sleep.  My bunkmate for the evening keeps off hours for his work schedule and no matter how drunk or hungover that morning, he was still up at 730am that morning.  Being the light sleeper that I am, as soon as he got up out of bed, my eyes were wide open (and so was the head pounding).  I decided that after laying awake for 20 minutes, it was time to hop out of bed, slam down mad amounts of water then go out for a nice morning jog??   53 degrees outside, sidewalks wide open, homeless people still sleeping…a perfect time to go out for a stroll around downtown Denver.  My goal was to run to Great Divide…

…down to Coors Field then back to the hotel.  The only problem with that plan was I wasn’t 100% sure where Great Divide was, so I over shot it by 4 blocks.  Plus, just two blocks from Great Divide is the Salvation Army and a soup kitchen, so there were plenty of street people about on the sidewalks.  Hungover and off the beaten path, I just decided to do an about face and headed back to the hotel.  2.4 miles in roughly 22 minutes wasn’t bad considering how bad my head was still a little fuzzy.

After a large breakfast, we decided to head over to the Colorado Convention Center so we could wait amongst the masses of beer crazed nerds.  As we anxiously awaited the doors to open, there was plenty of entertainment with the people watching.  As noon approached, the line erupts into a roar and what begins as a muddled mess of people pushing the line forward, quickly turns into a nice brisk pace getting through security, obtaining bracelets and our glass for the afternoon.


I do not know if I can accurately describe the feeling when you enter the main hall of the convention center but once you obtain your glass, whatever plan of attack you had prepared is now gone.  Basically, it was a mad scramble for the three of us in our party to decide what beer we wanted the most…and the winner was…. Bruery Sour in the Rye with Peaches.   But fear not, it was not the only beer of the afternoon, there were definitely plenty more in store…(in order of rating, 4 stars)


Four Star Beers…

  1. Bruery Sour in the Rye with Peaches
  2. DESTIHL Saint Dekkera Reserve Sour
  3. Russian River Framboise for a Cure
  4. Deschutes Jubelale 2012
  5. Avery Ross’s’s’ Melange
  6. New Glarus Strawberry Rhubarb
  7. Live Oak Brewing Hefeweizen
  8. Buffalo Bayou Gingerbread Stout
  9. Freetail Ananke
  10. Bear Republic Tartare
  11. DESTIHL Saint Dekkera Reserve Flanders
  12. DESTIHL Saint Dekkera Reserve Sour Raspberry/Strawberry Ale
  13. Nebraska Barrel Aged Hop God
  14. The Lost Abbey Duck Duck Gooze
  15. Olde Hickory Event Horizon
  16. Fat Heads IBUsive
  17. Spring House Kerplunk! Chocolate Imperial Stout
  18. Peekskill Awesome Sauce
  19. Funky Buddha Maple Bacon Coffee Porter
  20. Funky Buddha Passion Fruit Berliner
  21. Deschutes Bellmore Sour Quad


Three Star Beers…

  1. Buffalo Bayou Figaro Figaro Figaro Fiiigaro
  2. DESTIHL Saint Dekkera Reserve Belgian Style Lambic
  3. 7venth Sun Mangrove Double IPA
  4. Blackberry Farm Classic Saison
  5. New Belgium Coconut Curry Hefeweizen
  6. Crossroads Outrage IPA
  7. Great Basin Bitchin’ Berry
  8. Sweetwater Dank Tank Price is Wrong
  9. Round Guys Saison du Pomme
  10. Sweetwater LowRYEder
  11. Swamp Head Saison du Swamp Brettanomyces
  12. Smuttynose Straw-Barb Short Weiss
  13. Forest & Main Solaire Reserve
  14. Crossroads Maggie’s Farmhouse Ale
  15. Bell’s Sparkleberry Ale
  16. Fat Heads Alpenglow
  17. Scratch Carrot Ginger Saison
  18. Freetail Salado Kriek
  19. New Holland Blue Sunday
  20. Austin Beerworks Heavy Machinery Belgian IPA
  21. Funky Buddha No Crusts
  22. New Glarus Serendipity
  23. Trinity Brewing 7 Day Sour
  24. Surly Furious
  25. Kuhnhenn DRIPA Double Rice IPA
  26. Avery Thensaurium
  27. Listermann/Triple Digit Brewing Nutcase Peanut Butter Porter
  28. Dad & Dudes Prickly in Pink
  29. Squatters and Wasatch Squatters Hop Rising
  30. Dad & Dudes Rum, Forrest! Rum!
  31. Goose Island Kisetsu
  32. Goose Island Sofie
  33. Goose Island Sofie Paradisi
  34. Squatters and Wasatch Squatters Hell’s Keep


Two Star Beers…

  1. Dad & Dudes Watermelon Basil Wheat
  2. CAUTION: Brewing Hippity Hops Chrysanthemum
  3. Flossmoor Berliner Weisse
  4. Blue Mountain Spooky
  5. Gravity Brewing Orange Blossom Saison
  6. 7venth Sun Brewing Graffiti Orange
  7. Cigar City Cucumber Saison

Now some might wonder why I have had so many great beers at my fingertips but landed on some beers that no one has ever heard.   From time to time, you find yourself wondering through a section, just checking out breweries and you see one that sounds interesting…so you stop and sample it on the way to the next stop.  Also, you may also notice several breweries where there are multiple samples from…well, that is because after waiting in line (for more than several minutes), it is easy to step up, grab a quick sample, slam it, step down about two feet then ask someone else for a sample from the same brewery.  I am not necessarily camping in front of the brewery, thus blocking other thirsty beer nerds, just sampling on the move.

One thing (that is actually a good thing) is that the people pouring the beer are very religious of only pouring the beer samples to the one ounce pour line on the glass.  When you are drinking 50+ samples of mostly high ABV beers, you will come to appreciate them doing their job properly.  The problem is that towards the end of the brewers reserve session, they are trying to empty remaining kegs and leftover pitchers towards the end…so that one ounce pour may turn into a full 4-5oz fill.

Another cool thing about the beer festival, is that there are plenty of guys from the industry to talk to.  Most brewers, especially the smaller ones love to talk about their beers.  Sometimes, you even get to see old friends reunite (and sporting their hardware)…


(I tried to get them to say FUCK ITHACA instead of the traditional CHEESE but Chief laughed hard, doubling over with Hutch turning away red face… so I had to retake another picture).  (also, the picture is not blurry, this is just what your vision looks likes after 4 hours of solid drinking).

To be concluded…

So I am completely stealing this idea from my buddy Art , because he uses a different blog site and I can’t reblog it and add my own thoughts to it.

Every July, the store shelves start to fill up with the early signs of Oktoberfest beers and the dreaded gourd ales next to them.  Mind you, I am not a total hater of the over sized orange fruits but typically they are just faux pumpkin flavor and over spiced bombs.  To make matters worse, at some places when you order a pumpkin beer, you run the risk of having it served to you in a martini glass with a nice cinnamon and graham cracker flavored rim.  If this happens to you, make sure that you ask for a penis straw to go with it…

Anyway, as I had previously stated, I am not a complete pumpkin hater and have reviewed plenty of them over the past 2.5 years of beer ticks.  Here is my list of pumpkin ratings…from Top to Bottom:

  1. Southern Tier Pumking ~ 8.6% ABV ~ 4.43 /5 Rating
  2. Southern Tier Oak Aged Pumking ~ 8.6% ABV ~ 4.22 /5 Rating
  3. Elysian Brewing The Great Pumpkin ~ 8.1% ABV ~ 4.20 /5 Rating
  4. Fat Heads Spooky Tooth ~ 9.0% ABV ~ 4.18 /5 Rating
  5. Cigar City Grouchy Gourd ~ ABV Unknown ~ 4.08 /5 Rating
  6. Rivertowne Pourhouse Pumkins Pumkin Spice Beer ~ 5.4% ABV ~ 4.00 /5 Rating
  7. Horseheads Brewing Pumpkin ~ 6.6% ABV ~ 4.00 /5 Rating
  8. Schlafly Pumpkin ~ 8.0% ABV ~ 4.00 /5 Rating
  9. Elysian Brewing Dark O The Moon ~ 6.5% ABV ~ 3.95 /5 Rating
  10. Cigar City Good Gourd Imperial Pumpkin ~ 8.5% ABV ~ 3.93 /5 Rating
  11. Elysian Brewing Hop Squash Pumpkin IPA ~ 6.6% ABV ~ 3.90 /5 Rating
  12. Blue Canoe Brewery Punked Out ~ 8.0% ABV ~ 3.90 /5 Rating
  13. Bootleggers Brewery Pumpkin ~ 6.1% ABV ~ 3.89 /5 Rating
  14. Elysian Brewing Night Owl Pumpkin ~ 5.9% ABV ~ 3.88 /5 Rating
  15. Weyerbacher Brewing Imperial Pumpkin ~ 8.00% ABV ~ 3.85 /5 Rating
  16. Timber Creek Tap & Table Creek O Lantern ~ 7.8% ABV ~ 3.75 /5 Rating
  17. Blackstone Brewery Pumpkin ~ 5.1% ABV ~ 3.73 /5 Rating
  18. Sam Adams Fat Jack Double Pumpkin ~ 8.5% ABV ~ 3.73 /5 Rating
  19. Ithaca Brewing Country Pumpkin ~ 6.3% ABV ~ 3.55 /5 Rating
  20. Dogfish Head Punkin ~ 7.0% ABV ~ 3.55 /5 Rating
  21. Avery Brewing Rumpkin ~ 18.1% ABV ~ 3.53 /5 Rating
  22. Gilded Otter Brewing Clove Valley Pumpkin ~ 5.5% ABV ~ 3.53 /5 Rating
  23. Captain Lawrence Pumpkin ~ 5.5% ABV ~ 3.44 /5 Rating
  24. Southampton Publick House Pumpkin ~ 5.5% ABV ~ 3.43 /5 Rating
  25. Custom Brewcrafters Harvest Jack ~ 5.5% ABV ~ 3.40 /5 Rating
  26. Saranac Pumpkin ~ 5.4% ABV ~ 3.35 /5 Rating
  27. Cambridge Brewing Great Pumpkin ~ 4.4% ABV ~ 3.30 /5 Rating
  28. New Holland Brewing Ichabod Ale ~ 5.5% ABV ~ 3.25 /5 Rating
  29. Brooklyn Brewery Post Road Pumpkin ~ 5.0% ABV ~ 3.25 /5 Rating
  30. Bruery/Elysian/Stone La Citrueille Celeste De Citracado ~ 5.0% ABV ~ 3.10 /5 Rating
  31. Becker Brewing Pumpkin ~ 5.0% ABV ~ 3.08 /5 Rating
  32. Seneca Lodge Brewing Pumpkin ~ 4.4% ABV ~ 3.03 /5 Rating
  33. Hoppin’ Frog Frogs Hollow Double Pumpkin ~ 8.4% ABV ~ 2.98 /5 Rating
  34. Buffalo Bills Brewery Pumpkin ~ 5.2% ABV ~ 2.10 /5 Rating

Some notable pumpkin beers that have yet to be reviewed yet are Elysians Hansel and Gretel and Southern Tier Warlock.  Hansel and Gretel really sounds appealing because of its addition of gingerbread but I am refusing to chase down Warlock because Southern Tier brewing had previously done a small batch beer called Warlock, which was a Milk Stout…not a fan of recycling the name to fit their means.

Back in December, I got hit up by a BeerAdvocate user about being in town for the holidays and wanting to meet other local BAs.   Well since then, we keep in touch from time to time and when he comes into town, he usually brings some nice bottles for a bottle share.  The last time he was here in April, we had a really killer bottle share and this time was no different.

We were able to gather up some of the local crew and I gladly opened up the cellar for everyone to pluck their way through.  Its amazing when you get a great bunch of guys together, who are willing to share their great beers…this time was just another one of those examples.  Here was the great beers we cracked open:

Pipeworks Orange Truffle Abduction ~ American Double/Imperial Stout ~ 10.5% ABV
Mustang Brewing Brandys Imperial Sundae ~ American Porter ~ 9.1% ABV
Bruery Oude Tart with Cherries ~ American Wild Ale ~ 7.5% ABV
Bruery Bottleworks XII ~ American Wild Ale ~ 8.0% ABV
SARA Adjunct Professor ~ American Wild Ale ~ 9.8% ABV
Upland Brewing Blackberry Lambic ~ Lambic – Fruit ~ ABV Unknown
Southern Tier Cherry Saison (the obvious best beer of the night) ~ Saison/Farmhouse Ale ~ 10.1% ABV
Firestone Walker PNC Imperial Buckwheat Stout ~ American Double/Imperial Stout ~ 13.7% ABV
Bruery White Chocolate ~ Wheatwine ~ 14.25% ABV
Bruery Sour in the Rye with Kumquats ~ American Wild Ale ~ 7.6% ABV
Oud Beersel BZart Oude Gueze 2007 ~ Gueuze ~ 8.0% ABV
Brasserie Cantillon 50N-4E ~ Gueuze ~ 7.0% ABV
Allagash Brewing Coolship Red ~ Lambic – Fruit ~ 5.7% ABV
Hardywood Gingerbread Stout ~ Milk/Sweet Sout ~ 9.2% ABV
Hardywood Bourbon Gingerbread Stout ~ Milk/Sweet Stout ~ 10.6% ABV
B. Nektar Black Fang ~ Mead
Brouwerij Boon Oude Gueuze Mariage Parfait 2003 ~ Gueuze ~ 8.0% ABV
Russian River Toronado 25th Annivesary Ale ~ American Wild Ale ~ 8.75% ABV
Upright Brewing Soul Composition Seven (with Brett) Bottle 41 of 114 ~ Saison/Farmhouse Ale ~ 8.8% ABV
Cigar City/Widmer Brothers Gentlemens Club (New Oak) ~ Old Ale ~ 9.5% ABV
Cigar City/Widmer Brothers Gentlemens Club (Rye) ~ Old Ale ~ 10.5% ABV
Alesmith Speedway Vietnamese Coffee Stout ~ American Double/Imperial Stout ~ ABV Unknown
Crooked Stave Surette Reserva ~ American Wild Ale ~ 6.2% ABV
Hoppin Fog BA BORIS ~ Russian Imperial Stout ~ 9.4% ABV
Kuhnhenn Pineapple Pear Pint Grigio Pyment Mead
Kuhnhenn Mexicarmel Mead
Crooked Stave Petite Sour Hibiscus & Cinnamon ~ American Wild Ale ~ 6.0% ABV
Fantome Extra Sour Special Original Creation Black Dark Extra 2013 ~  Saison/Farmhouse ~ 10.0% ABV

Another great thing about having the tasting is that we had two of the members from Big Ditch Brewing in attendance again.  We have had Matt and Corey at several of our tastings so far and it has been wonderful to hear their stories of starting up a brewery.  Plus, it is not bad to have them use us as guinea pigs for some of their liquid creations.  This time they had tried out a Peach Ale and a new IPA.  As much as I would like to comment about the beers, it would be wrong to comment on something that is simply for trial at this point and would be unfair to pass judgment…with that being said, I liked the Peach Ale and the IPA was standard.  Enough Said.    Not to mention that we had given them some great input of ingredients to try, even though some of them might be a little hard to come by.  🙂

Last summer, the Buffalo Beer Advocate group members had a big blowout of a tasting for our participation in the Gang Bang BIF Round 2.  It was an all day affair with plenty of good food and amazing beers.  Well, we decided that after the third round of the Gang Bang BIF, instead of joining up for the fourth round, we would change it up and have another huge mega tasting this summer.   Our gracious host, Chopko, wanted to host this tasting as it was his first time hosting and he pulled out all of the stops.


We had awesome BBQ provided by One Eyed Jacks in Lockport, plenty of entertainment with kan jam, cornhole, ladders (golf), and I guess some decent beers to boot….


(snapshots provided by Fuj)

Is it me or did it seem like it was New Years Eve like two weeks ago…time flies when you are having fun, I guess.  So April was a pretty low key month even though the local Beer Advocates had two tastings in April with the Growler Tasting and the special tasting set up for BA AnotherJoe.   With Cinco de Mayo and Memorial Day Weekend coming up, it is probably a good thing that I kept things low key for April.  But, it doesn’t mean that I stopped drinking at all, here are the top prizes from last month…

Top 5 Beer Reviews for April:

The  5 Beer Reviews that sucked in April:

  • Sixpoint Brewery Spice of Life – Pacifica~ American IPA ~ 3.35 /5 Rating
  • Hopfenstark Boson De Higgs ~ Berliner Weissbier ~ 3.31 /5 Rating
  • Widmer Brothers brewing Alchemy Ale ~ American Pale Ale ~ 3.10 /5 Rating
  • Lancaster Brewinng Strawberry Wheat Beer ~ Fruit / Vegetable  Beer ~ 3.03 /5 Rating
  • And the epic fail of the month was Grolsch Premium Lager ~ Euro Pale Lager ~ 2.86 /5 Rating

If you noticed during the two tastings from last month, we had a ton of killer beers but I have come to realize that you can not do a proper review of a beer just but sampling a quick one or two ounce sample of something, so there weren’t any reviews that came from those tastings…but there were a shit ton of great beers cracked open.  There is always next month….