Monday, August 31, 2009

Sin City Amber

Just  got back from a trip to Las Vegas. We stayed at Planet Hollywood, which has a mall attached to it. Among the numerous storefronts was a small bar/storefront, aptly named Sin City Brewing Co. They offered four brews. I sampled two, the Amber and the Stout, while my wife tried the Light.

Let's talk Amber first...

Sin City is a Las Vegas-based small-batch microbrewery. All of their beers are brewed locally and available exclusively in the Sin City area.

The Amber is a full-bodied, Oktoberfest-style  lager. 5.7% ABV

This beer has a light, copper color and very clear appearance. Despite being straight from the tap, it was served with only a minimal head. A few large bubbles rising from the bottom of the cup, but overall not very carbonated.

Smells wonderful. Amber has a nice, yeasty aroma. Definitely smells like a good fall beer.

Taste & Feel
I'll admit, I initially judged it a bit unfairly based on the appearance. The lighter color and thin head led me to assume it wouldn't be flavorful. I was wrong. Amber (apparently, I'm referring to it as if 'it' was a 'she' now) tastes great. It has has a hearty, bready flavor, medium body and a slightly bitter hop finish.

I can honestly say that my trip to the bar paid off much better than my stay at the casino tables. For one, I lasted longer there. Also, the roulette wheel left a much more bitter taste in my mouth.

Amber, for being an Oktoberfest brew, drinks well in 107-degree heat. Good on flavor, but not too heavy. I'd recommend it. 

You can only get Sin City brews in Vegas, so if you're there, be sure to check it out. They have two retail outlets, one in the Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood and another at The Flamingo. 

-- via BlogPress

Friday, August 28, 2009


Italian restaurants are known for their wine selection, not their beer lists. Often, if they have beer, Peroni is the only brew on tap. Enoteca San Marco at The Venetian in Las Vegas is no different, making my most recent Peroni experience very much like all the rest.

Easily the most-recognized Italian beer, this 163-year-old brew is now owned by SABMiller.

Peroni is a light lager. 4.7% ABV

Peroni pours a clear, pale yellow with not much head beyond a thin frosting of bubbles. It gives off a subtle floral aroma, with just a hint of apple or pear.

Taste & Feel

This beer has a very lively body, giving an almost champange-like feeling on the tongue.

There's not much complexity of flavor to it. Clean, crisp, hoppy. Any initial taste is overpowered by the bubbly mouthfeel, and it finishes with a mild bitterness.

If you like dark, smooth or rich beers, this won't be the brew for you. However, everyone should try it once.

I suggest having it the next time you're eating at a nice Italian place and nothing else is on tap.

-- via BlogPress

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Kona Brewing Co. - Longboard Island Lager

I first discovered Kona brews at a charity event last winter. I headed to the bar expecting the usual boring event selection, when the Pipeline Porter bottle caught my eye. Actually, it was hard to miss. I was pleased with the beer on its own, but the marketer in me was more intrigued by the bottle. Kona's unique look stands out in a crowd. Since then, I've noticed their brews gradually showing up in my grocery stores and have purchased the porter on a few occasions.

Anyway... on to the lager.

I already established that Longboard is brewed by the Kona Brewing Company, on the big island. The website calls this lager "exceptionally refershing":

"Longboard Island Lager is a smooth refreshing lager fermented and aged for five weeks at cold temperatures to yield its exceptionally smooth flavor. A delicate, slightly spicy hop aroma complements the malty body of this beer."
5.0% ABV

Longboard poured with a very slight, lightly foamy head. It has a light, golden color and mostly clear appearance. Not much carbonation. I can tell right away that this is going to drink a bit too easily.

Hell, it even sounds light and refreshing as I'm pouring it. When you try it, listen to the pour. That's a light beer.

Not much. I had to get my big nose way down into it in order to pick up any hints of the crisp, mild spiciness. Hints of citrus. This beer has a very clean, light scent.

Taste & Feel
No complexity here. Longboard is Mild. It offers up a very light body. Cold, crisp, refeshing.

Drinks clean, dances briefly on the tongue and swallows easily, leaving only a mildly hoppy aftertaste detectable on your lips, but not your mouth.

One deep sip immediately conjures up memories of slipping under fresh cool bed linens after a long day in the sun.

This beer was built for the masses, as it's not going to offend anyone's pallete. I can't come up with a better word to descirbe it beyond... clean. This might be the cleanest-tasting beer I've ever had, although that also makes it a bit too mild for my taste.

However, I understand why someone wouldn't mind downing a nice, ice cold one on a hot afternoon. It's a summer brew that might be ok for outdoor entertaining. I can see this pairing with a spicy dish, or something light off the grill. It defininetly won't overpower your meal.

It appears as though Kona beers are available nationwide. I would assume that if your favorite store carries their products, Longboard is certainly among the mix.

Monday, August 24, 2009

If you're ever in Omaha...

Two years ago, while traveling to Nebraska, we stopped into the Upstream Brewing Company in the Old Market area of Omaha.

If you're ever in the area, I highly recommend trying something from their cask-conditioned selection. When I was there, it was a Scotch Ale.

Since then, I've thought about that beer too many times to count. Have you ever met a great girl one time and never saw her again, but find yourself thinking about her from time to time?

Yeah, that's me and that beer.

New Belgium Brewing 1554 Enlightened Black Ale

My first official review. This isn't the beer that inspired my doing a beer blog, but it is its first cousin. 

Brewed by New Belgium Brewing Company, Fort Collins, CO.   5.6% ABV

An interesting beer in that it uses a lager yeast, yet calls itself an ale. It has properties of both. According to their website:
"Born of a flood and centuries-old Belgian text, 1554 Enlightened Black Ale uses a light lager yeast strain and dark chocolaty malts to redefine what dark beer can be. In 1997, a Fort Collins flood destroyed the original recipe our researcher, Phil Benstein, found in the library. So Phil and brewmaster, Peter Bouckaert, traveled to Belgium to retrieve this unique style lost to the ages. Their first challenge was deciphering antiquated script and outdated units of measurement, but trial and error (and many months of in-house sampling) culminated in 1554, a highly quaffable dark beer with a moderate body and mouthfeel."

This beer offers up a rich dark, brown body with a slightly reddish hue. It's dark, but not opaque. Poured with a foamy, but not a very thick head comprised of small, tight bubbles that dissapated after a few swirls. If the head didn't cling lightly to the glass, one might mistake it for a Coke.

1554 has a light, sweet, caramel aroma. Rather welcoming.

Taste & Feel
For a dark beer, it's not overly strong on flavor. I enjoyed the lightly malty, smooth body with a fruity flavor and a subtle bite. I picked up hints of its lager roots. It's not nearly as crisp and hoppy as a lager, but a bit more crisp than most ales.

Its self-described dry, chocolaty finish is dead-on. The overall  experience is like eating a dark chocolate truffle.

I'd absolutely buy this again, and would very much like to try it on draft.

I purchased a six-pack at Lowe's Foods, and have seen it at Harris Teeter. When I find it on tap, I'll post an update.  According to the company's website, it's readily available throughout the Midwest and West, and had made inroads into the Carolinas, Tennessee and Georgia.

The rules of reviews

A few disclaimers, disclosures and CYA BS...

  • I'll try to keep it simple. If you're reading this, you probably want to know 1)how it tastes and 2)where you can find it. If I ever mention gravity or start identifying yeast strains, I've strayed too far from my course.
  • Even though I've sampled hundreds of beers, for the purpose of this blog I will only post a review after a fresh sample. Generally speaking, a sample is two bottles or two pints.
  • The exception to the above rule is reminiscing about something like that one cask-aged scotch ale I had that one time in Omaha. Not a review, but I don't mind talking about it and making a recommendation.
  • The same is true for BBQ. I might never make it back to Amarillo BBQ, but I can still dream about those beans. Trust me, they have the best beans on the planet. 
  • On second thought, I should probably just visit Nebraska again.
  • Speaking of barbecue... unless it's known for a particular dish, reviews of any barbecue place will be based on the pulled pork, brisket or ribs. Sometimes two meats; I like a good combo.
  • I don't actively solicit free samples. 
  • However... I will accept beer samples if offered, and will disclose in my reviews if any have been provided.
  • Acceptance of samples is by no means is an agreement that your beer will get a favorable review, or that the review will be posted at all.  It's merely an agreement that I'll taste it.
  • On the other hand, I will not accept complimentary meals to review. It's tough to make beer better on my behalf, but meals and service can be skewed. I prefer to eat anonymously if I'm going to blog about it afterward.
  • Recommendations are always welcomed. Email me, tweet at me, post something on my Facebook page. Get my attention; I'll check out your suggestions.
  • I won't post negative reviews. If I'm not crazy about something, I'll at least try to be objective and, if I can see how someone else might enjoy it, I'll post it. If I truly hate it, you won't see it here.
  • Just because you don't see something posted, doesn't mean I hated it. I probably just haven't reviewed it yet.  Be patient... it's just me and one liver here. We'll get to it eventually.
  • Please drink responsibly. If you're under 21, don't drink. If you're over 21, don't drink and drive.
  • Drinking and blogging, on the other hand, is very much encouraged. Have a beer or BBQ blog of your own? Send me a link.
That said, I hope you enjoy!

Sunday, August 23, 2009