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FuzzyBrew Review: Dundee India Pale Ale

October 19, 2010 By: mike Category: FuzzyBrew Review

Dundee India Pale AleBrewery: Dundee Brewing Co.

Location: Rochester, N.Y.

Style: India Pale Ale

ABV: 6.3%

IBU: 60

Fuzzy Rating: 3 out of 5

On the label for its India Pale Ale, Dundee Brewing Co. prints this simple message: “Be bitter.”

They’re not kidding.

This IPA (delivered from NY to Memphis, via Chip and Roz) has a mild aroma of sweet malts and grass, but its taste is bitter, with a decent amount of astringency in the finish.

Dundee uses Columbus hops for bittering and Chinook and Willamette for taste and aroma, and the result is a beer that’s not particularly well balanced.

It’s certainly drinkable and undeniably crisp. And as you make your way through a pint, you may pick up on subtle characteristics of spice and citrus.

But my taste buds wanted more flavors from this beer. And it was, ultimately, too dry for my taste.

FuzzyBrew Review: Old Brown Dog Ale

October 13, 2010 By: mike Category: FuzzyBrew Review

Brewery: Smuttynose Brewing Co.Old Brown Dog Ale

Location: Portsmouth, New Hampshire

Style: American Brown Ale

ABV: 6.5%

IBU: 15

Fuzzy Rating: 3 out of 5

After savoring a pair of six-packs of Smuttynose’s IPA over the past couple of months, I was eager to sample more beer from this award-winning New Hampshire craft brewery. As luck would have it, a six-pack of the Old Brown Dog Ale made its way to Memphis with my friends Chip and Roz.

Deep-brown amber in color, the Old Brown Dog Ale is a hearty beer with a rich malty flavor. I picked up on hints of caramel and spice.

The aroma is all malt, no hops. But it finishes with a mild bitterness from Cascade and Willamette hops. (I could have used a little more kick.)

Hard to tell you’re drinking a beer with 6.5 percent alcohol, but, alas, it left me feeling warm inside.

Good to pair this beer with a meal and enjoy on a nice fall day.

A report from the Great American Beer Festival

September 27, 2010 By: grant Category: Craft beer, Events, Memphis, Travelin'

Ben Pugh's Black Hearted IPA

Ben Pugh's Black Hearted IPA

A few months ago the Bluff City Brewers & Connoisseurs held a competition to pick the best beer to send to the Great American Beer Festival in Denver, to represent Memphis in the Pro/Am competition. Club President Ben Pugh won that honor. As part of his prize, Boscos brewed seven barrels of that beer, his Black Hearted IPA. It’s on tap now (it’s delicious), but word is they’re running out. From the Boscos menu: “The 87 IBU’s is close to, or exceeds, the theoretical limit for the absorbtion of hop bitterness. In other words, we probably couldn’t make this beer any more bitter.” It has an original gravity of 1060.

Oh yeah, the club also sent him to the festival. How kick ass is that?

The crowd at the Great American Beer Festival

The crowd at the Great American Beer Festival

This is his report:

What do you get when you combine beer connoiseurs, beer nerds, beer snobs, drunks, dudes in lederhosen and over 2,000 different beers? Denver’s Great American Beer Fest a.k.a slam 1-ounce tasters until you wake up in a pile of your own puke.  This year’s festival did not disappoint.

With over 3,000 beers entered in the competition, 49,000 people descended upon the Mile High City to partake in the debauchery that is GABF. It’s a beer brewer’s Mecca. Among rows of craft beer, organized only by region, deviants were crammed into the Denver Convention Center with only a printed “road map” to guide them on their hop infused journey. You could not help but become giddy with excitement as the orange shirt clad volunteer handed you that precious plastic cup with the one ounce line as the bagpipers played in the background. The electricity in the air was infectious. Upon entering the event the twenty somethings raced to the Old English table while grown men in giant wiener costumes posed for pictures with barely dressed, leggy blondes. Does it get better than this?! I think not my friend.

The competition (all 79 categories of it) awarded contenders like PBR and Hamm’s top honors along with Flying Dog and Sierra Nevada in their respective categories. With that many categories, it’s surprising anyone went away without an award (myself included, but I’m not bitter…my beer was.) While some opted to sit through all the awards, ringing cow bells and congratulating the winners, many more utilized their time more efficiently by taking advantaged of the shortened lines and pounding as many beers as physically possible before the crowds would inevitably flood back to the winners’ tables to consume all remaining kegs.

Ben Pugh with Charlie Papazian, author of The Complete Joy of Homebrewing

Ben Pugh with Charlie Papazian, author of The Complete Joy of Homebrewing and president of the Brewers Association

In the three days that spanned the event, my trusty partner (aka wife) and I tried so many beers we can’t come up with a number. Let’s just say we tried enough to feel content in that we left no pitcher untouched. Old reliables like Avery’s Maharaja and Bear Republic’s Racer 5 were enjoyed among new favorites including Russian River’s Pliny the Elder and Pizza Port’s Imperial Red. Cigar City Brewing’s Oatmeal Raisin Cookie had my wife in a beer-gasm afterglow for at least 2 days….while Short’s Imperial Spruce India Pilsner had us raking our tongues to rid our bodies of the taste.

Three days of mindless wandering, guided only by my quest to find the perfect brew (or to find where that tall brunette in the beer wench outfit went), leaves me not only wanting another beer but also already planning my return trip for GABF 2011. There are no words which would do justice to the event; you simply must go yourself to experience the grandeur that is the GABF. My advice, skip Saturday night and hit the cheese table early.

Click through for a complete list of GABF beer winners.

First taste: Modus Hoperandi clone

September 20, 2010 By: grant Category: Homebrew, Travelin'

Mike told you a few weeks ago about brewing and bottling our Modus Hoperandi clone, an American IPA by Ska Brewing out of Durango, Colorado.

Modus Hoperandi

I sampled a few of the brew while on a post-conference vacation in Frisco. It was a fairly fancy restaurant where everyone was drinking wine but I held strong and ordered an Odell IPA. The good man offered that I might like Modus Hoperandi instead.

“It’s very hoppy,” he said, “it comes in a can.”

Why sure, I’m game. Good choice.

Well, we only bottled about 20 days ago, but I could not help myself Sunday. Popped one in the fridge early in the day and waited as long as I could, which was after a couple Abita Purple Haze (left in my fridge by a sucker who shall remain nameless), so I suppose my palate could have been jacked.

It was decently carbed, an improvement over our Evil Twin red ale, which still hasn’t carbonated, though it tastes better each time I try one. Must learn to wait …

Modus Hoperandi clone

Popping the top produced a satisfying “tsspah” and a nice cloud of fog in the neck. I tried to play it cool and pour it correctly and got about a quarter-inch head. As I neared the end of the bottle it didn’t look like I was getting any yeast residue, so I got ambitious and poured the whole bottle into my glass. This was probably a mistake — the clarity wasn’t so great, but it eventually settled down to nearly clear. It actually did look exactly like the pint of the real deal up top.

The aroma was strongly hoppy enough that I just inhaled off the bottle, then the pint, for a good 30 seconds before I took a taste.

I think it’s gonna be a winner. No, it doesn’t really taste like the Modus Hoperandi I remember. It’s hoppy, sure, but it’s not as smooth and also somewhat hot, which is to say a bit of the alcohol came through. My original gravity was 1.064 and my final gravity was 1.012, so I should be hitting about 6.93 ABV. Modus is supposed to be 6.80. First similar brew that came to mind was Dogfish Head 90 Minute, because I thought that one was a bit hot, too. It’s 9.0 ABV. Hitting anywhere close to that fine brew seems pretty ambitious though. I’m willing to bet our clone will improve with time, if I can keep from drinking it all straightaway.

A close friend is coming into town tomorrow, so I’m going to toss a couple more in the fridge tonight and get her take on it. Good beer should be shared.