Careful Man, There’s a Beverage Here by Pipeworks Brewing
Tasting: November 10, 2017 Style: White Milk Stout Beer #: 1,117 ABV: 10.5% Line from the movie, Big Lebowski. The reddish brown color of Careful Man, There’s a Beverage Here threw me for a minute but a double take on the label does say white stout. Looks more like a barley wine and tastes a bit like a barley wine. Boozy, caramel sweet, and mellow vanilla coffee flavor. This unique beer grew on me as I worked my way through but still a so-so beer, 86 points.
B.O.R.I.S. Reserve by Hoppin’ Frog
Tasting: November 11, 2017 Style: Russian Imperial Stout Beer #: 1,118 ABV: 10.4% Called a reserve for the use of better, darker grains. I guess regular B.O.R.I.S. uses crappy grains. Lots of roasted grains, mellow chocolate underneath. A tad boozy. All-in-all ,92 points.
Tasting: November 19, 2017 Style: Russian Imperial Stout Beer #: 1,119 ABV: 9.4 % A few sips in and I’m reminded why I don’t like pumpkin beer. Well in this case, butternut squash beers. Spices give this a chemical flavor. Not enjoying this at all, 70 points.
Another release in the series named for New Jersey Turnpike exits. This time, Bergen County’s Exit 18. It’s noted that the Baltic reference is a tribute to the many Baltic residents in the county. That’s Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Finland, Germany, Lithuania, Poland, Russia, and Sweden. A pretty broad brush. Frankly, this beer should have been named for the Hudson River as it’s quite demure in watery flavor. Offers up some boozy burn. Very disappointing. 72 points.
I’m a beer trader but I’m still a little bit on the fence on the right or wrong of it all. On the wrong side, rare beer has widely become a trading chip and it isn’t uncommon in traders to buy beer solely for its trade value. Yes, I feel a little guilt as my collecting and trading actions may very well keep other locals from actually drinking the beer. Right or wrong, I brush off the guilt by accepting that the competition for rare beer among enthusiasts, collectors or traders is a win some, lose some proposition. For me, the guilt washes away as I visualize the memory of someone else taking that last four-pack of Epitome right in front of me just moments after missing out on the last Bourbon County Vanilla Rye on Black Friday. I just chalk it up to scoring the next time – because there certainly will be a next time.
On the positive side, there are so many craft beers that have limited distribution that the trading takes on the same feel as someone that is a collector of rare items. Frankly, I look at this blog as my collection. I can’t save a bottle of beer forever but I can certainly catalog it. There is a certain thrill in acquiring the difficult to find.
Along with acquiring the trophies for the collection comes the opportunity to try some other limited quantity or lesser known beer that come in the form of beer trading extras. These are “throw-ins” to trades and are typically beer that wouldn’t be found in your trade partner’s state. They aren’t meant to even out deals, it’s just the generosity of the trade partners and it adds to the Christmas morning feel of receiving a package.
The following are a beer trading extras that I’ve received over the last month or so…
Valor – a Red Ale by 14th Star Brewing, Saint Albans, Vermont Tasting: April 9, 2015 Style: Red Ale Beer #: 724 ABV: 5.4%
Came as a bonus in a trade in which I acquired four fresh Lawson’s Sip of Sunshine. I like that a portion of the proceeds collected in the sale of this beer go to help Purple Heart Reunited. This organization works to return medals of valor to servicemen.
Delivers on the advertised happiness. IBU is listed as 40 (light) and that seems about right. Bitterness might be a little clunky but it delivers a nice mellow caramel. Has its flaws but a really an easy drinking beer. I’ll put Valor at 85 points.
Bourbon Barrel Stout Clay Street Series BBC by Bluegrass Brewing
Acquired as another beer trading extras in a deal that saw me acquire Bo & Luke by Against the Grain. This may very well be the worst beer I’ve ever had. I think it’s infected as I’m sure the bourbon barrel didn’t lend the cider and musty basement flavors. Drain pour – 59 points.
Woodsmaster by Short’s Brewing
Tasting: April 9, 2015 Style: Ale Beer #: 726 ABV: 9.5%
This one came as a bonus in a trade that saw a couple of other Kuhnhenn legends (4D and Solstice) come back my way. The unfortunate thing is that as a bonus beer, I can’t complain that this bottle is just about six months old. I’m sure the hop dropped out of it as this bottle comes across sweet and boozy hot with only some residual hop resin. On the plus side, I like a sweet boozy IPA. I’ll peg Trippa at a pleasant 90 points.
Spotted Cow by New Glarus
Tasting: April 11, 2015 Style: Cream Ale Beer #: 728 ABV: 4.8%
Since I’m writing about the give and take of bonus beer – here’s a beer that I included as a bonus in my last trade. High Point Brewing has been making world class German-style beer for about twenty years and they release beer under the brand – Ramstein. They are located about two miles from house and these bottles don’t wander very far from the brewery. It is as local as a local bonus gets. This bottle of Winter Wheat was given a perfect score by the Alstrom Brothers, founders of the Beer Advocate website.
Mellow roasted flavors over some mild cocoa. Some black cherry and blackberry notes as well. Very smooth and drinkable and the lack of any heat makes the 9.5% alcohol a dangerous factor. I have to admit I was surprised as the style isn’t in my wheelhouse but a very solid 89 from yours truly.
Seeking Alpha by Captain Lawrence Tasting: November 6, 2014 Style: Triple IPA Beer #: 642
I can highly recommend Captain Lawrence’s Captain’s Reserve IPA. It’s a terrific beer and a sixteen ounce bottle only runs $3.99 which is a relative bargain these days. I’m intrigued by this one basically because I’m easily intrigued by triple IPAs. Why? Well, I find that many of these amped up IPAs resemble barley wine more that they resemble IPA. I love a big syrupy sweet and boozy ale and I’m hoping that Seeking Alpha hits the mark like other triple IPAs.
Definitely in my wheelhouse. Sticky, boozy with massive hop resin. I’ll peg Seeking Alpha at 88 points.
Easy Jack by Firestone Walker Tasting: November 7, 2014 Style: Session Ale Beer #: 643
This beer came to me by way of an extra in a trade a couple of weeks ago. First few sips are nice like an Arizona Green Tea with Honey. It spirals downward soon thereafter into a watery bitterness. It might be better on a hot summer day. For now, I’ll give it 86 points.
Again, another extra in a trade that featured my acquisition of a four pack of NoDa’s outstanding Hop, Drop and Roll. Very fizzy pour leaves a very robust head. Flavors are roasted and woodsy. A little too fizzy for my liking. Milk stout should have some sweetness and creamy smoothness – this one doesn’t deliver any of that. 83 points.
Cute little 8.4 ounce can holds this 11.5% alcohol by volume (ABV) barley wine. This one should be more of the “California” variety as it has an IBU of 92 (highly bitter). California-style adds a hop bitterness, while English barley wines have a syrupy rich dark fruit quality.
Lower De Boom is very simple — boozy, a bit fizzy somewhat meek with some green apple tartness and very little in the way of any caramel or dark fruit sweetness. Hops are off-bitter and harsh. I’ll label Lower De Boom as disjointed since the flavors don’t work in harmony or have any balance. I’m not really enjoying Lower De Boom and after the week I’ve had – I need a better experience. Lower De Boom gets 72 points in my book.