Tuesday, January 22, 2008

My Top Rated Beers for 2007

I was sitting there thinking the other day that I should make a list of my favorite albums for the previous year. But most of what I bought or listened to in 2007 was not released in 2007. I still might do something along those lines next year. I will have to track what I listen to in 2008 to make sure I have a valid list.

What I can do is go to ratebeer.com and look at all the beer I rated in 2007. Looks like I didn't really start rating beers until April, which looking back, totally makes sense, because I was trying not to drink beer the first 3 months of 2007. Ha! I think I still went to people's houses for parties, potlucks, and whatnot, so I know I didn't stick to that rule. Unfortunately, I probably didn't drink anything new during that time, anyway.

I dig ratebeer. There's also beeradvocate.com, and that seems to be the one a lot more people are hooked up on, but I like the layout of ratebeer.com better, and I found it first. One day, I just might get bored enough to copy all of my ratings over. But I doubt it. Either way, these are cool tools to help you track what you've drank, and also find similar beers to ones you like, and find out more about each beer through the ratings of other users.

Looking at my ratings, I think I might have rated some of these a little different after understanding what I was drinking a little more. I went to see what I rated the Dogfish Head 60 minute IPA, because I had been avoiding this brewery since 2002, when I must have got a bad bottle of it, or else I didn't like really hoppy beers. The review was hilarious. Anyway, here's what I got for 2007:

Rated at 4.9/5.0

St. Arnold Elissa IPA - I really liked this beer. Overall, I think IPAs are probably my favorite traditional style of beers. I only had a sample of this in Houston, right next to the Dogfish Head 90-minute IPA and I think I liked both equally. The beer drinkers in Houston said that this brewery wasn't all that great. I did try their Lawnmower, which was their Kolsch, and was a little disappointed. But maybe it was a bit of a flavor letdown after all the hoppy beers.

Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA - I had the 120-Minute this year, shared it with 4 friends. It was good, but at $8/12 oz bottle and 21%ABV, I wouldn't be drinking a lot of that. But the 90-minute version is probably the best IPA out there by far. Maybe the Elissa shouldn't be so high, but it was their hometown I was drinking it in, so I gave them the benefit. Clean finish on the 90-minute. Quite amazing.

2007 Three Floyd's Dark Lord Russian Imperial Stout - Stood in line at Three Floyd's down the road in Munster to pick up 6 bottles of this. Cracked the first one in October, the day we brewed our first homebrew. This is quite amazing. It's not something you're going to sit around and quaff all day, but it's special. Black as old motor oil, I like seeing other people drink it and watch how it stains their lips. Almost looks like they're drinking black blood. Lots of awesome flavors in this: cherry, coffee, chocolate just to mention a few. Nice warm alcohol afterglow (what would you expect at 13% ABV?). Quite honestly, a work of art. Voted in the top 5 beers in the world consistently at ratebeer.com.


Three Floyd's Gumball Head Wheat - Not sure if I would call this a wheat beer. It's very clear for a wheat beer, and doesn't taste like a hefeweizen or an American wheat. It's zesty, and the smell is just awesome. This beer makes me want to grow Amarillo hops, which is what this is made with. Starts off almost tasting like an IPA and then changes about halfway through the beer as it coats your tongue. I would have to recommend you drink a full 12 oz glass of this to get the whole story, as a 3-sip sample won't do it justice.


Shoreline Lost Sailor Imperial Stout - I had this at the Shoreline Brewery about a week before Dark Lord Day. Not as much flavors as the Dark Lord, but it was sure black as midnight and very nice. Viscous as all get out.


Bell's Two-Hearted Ale - A very nice IPA. It probably should be rated higher, but still, 4.6 is a great rating. This one has a great color and nice palate.

Bell's Cherry Stout - I covered this one in it's own blog back in '07 when I discovered it. Awesome stout, but not something you're going to drink 6 of in one setting.

Three Floyd's Alpha King - This is now my "standard" pale ale. Best pale ale ever. Outdoes even the classic Bass Ale.


Dogfish Head 120-Minute IPA - As mentioned above, drink one, go to bed. 21% ABV. Very smooth. It's beyond an IPA, actually. The alcohol almost burns as it goes down.

Three Floyd's Fabulous Resplendence (aka: X) - This is their 10th anniversary ale. It was awesome. Nice chewy, dry palate.

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale - I had this when I was still living in Pensacola, and maybe when I lived in Iowa once or twice. Hard to remember. I think it was giving me reflux at one time, when I wasn't used to really hoppy beers. I remember shying away from it. Had it at a potluck back in September and thought, "Hey, this is pretty good." Then realized I never rated it. Shame, I would have liked to see what I had written circa 1999.


So there you have it. The beer I gave the lowest rating to in 2007 was Point Light, which had absolutely no redeeming qualities. Light yellow, beer-flavored water. I gave it a 0.8.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Shoreline Mug Club First Ever Chili Cookoff

Seventeen people brought crock-pots (okay, well, maybe SIXTEEN people brought crock pots. One guy brought a kettle of chili. Needless to say, it got cold). Only three people would walk away winners. I'll save you the suspense...I wasn't one of them. But I tried the chili recipes that won, and they all kicked my ass. Even some of the other ones that didn't win were pretty good as well. Nothing I'd push away from if given to me.

Oh, and there was beer.

Not hard to find your mug, as they're all original.

Here's the first place dude. I'm completely terrible with names, so I'm sorry. He said, "My mom's gonna be pissed. I told her I had some left over, but now it's all gone."

I remember these people, though. From left to right, Jessi, Jim, and Sarah.

Again, I can't remember names, but the woman on the rightwon third. I talked to her and her husband (not pictured) about restaurants in Valparaiso, and taking kids to restaurants.

Nicole and Chris. Chris gave me a short sample of his homemade oatmeal stout. Nice.
Buncha people.
We watched the Colts lose.

Sam, Jim and Steve

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Extreme Beers

Here's an article from the New York Times on "Extreme Beers." These people went into the tasting with bias and came out understanding what it was all about. It's too bad others out there aren't as interested in this type of thing.

I just got done bitching in a post on Ratebeer.com about how the top 20 beers are all Stouts, rare, or super high in alcohol content. I asked everyone there to think about the style of beer that they are drinking. My main point being that if Budweiser is "THE GREAT AMERICAN LAGER" then Budweiser are kidding themselves. Leinenkugels beats the shit out of that rice-brewed beer any day of the week. I still stand by the 4.5/5.0 overall rating I gave that beer back in '04. I had some the other day and thought, "After all the really good beer I've drank in the past two years, this beer is still the best in its class."

So yeah, Dark Lord Russian Imperial Stout is great, its neat, its rare, and its #3 on the 2007 Ratebeer list of Best in the World. But that Magic Hat #9 is a great beer as well, and I didn't see it in the Top 20. But then, its only about 5% alcohol, kind of yellow looking, and not "over the top" except for how it tastes.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Porter, Indiana

Porter, IndianaSure, it's a town. But it's also the name of our latest homebrew. I'm not sure if this one is quite done yet, but it tasted really good even before going into the keg. We brewed this a week after we brewed the white ale (wit). Speaking of, John called me the day before our New Year's Eve party and said that the wit had completely changed. It was no longer as cloudy, and all the floaties had disappeared. I didn't get any photos of it, but boy, is it nice.

This porter is probably our best beer to date. Seems like we always get into our beers before John the Brewer (he's a Cub fan)they mature. Like the wit. I was thinking about it, and yesterday this thing should have matured to the point the wit. So I'm wondering how it is. I need to try it again.

Here's the recipe:

Porter, Indiana

5 gallons/extract, specialty grains

6 oz. chocolate malt (British)
2 oz. black patent malt (British)
0.5 lb crystal malt, 70L
8 lbs (2 cans) Alexander's pale malt extract
1 oz Chinook hops (13%AA) for 60 min
1 oz Cascade hops (5.5%AA) for 10 min
1 oz Tettnanger hops (4%AA) for 2 min
1/2 tsp Irish Moss for 20 min
Wyeast 1084 Irish Ale Yeast

Steep grains at 150° F for 20 minutes in 3 gals. of water. Remove grains and bring the liquid to a boil. Add extract and Chinook hops and bring back to a boil. Boil 40 minutes and add Irish moss. Boil 10 minutes more and add the Cascade hops. Boil 8 more minutes and add the Tettnanger. Total boil is 60 minutes. Cool the wort. Place in fermenter and top off to 5 gals. Pitch yeast when cool enough. After two weeks prime with corn sugar and bottle.