Beer Review: Great Lakes Brewing Nosferatu Imperial Red Ale

Why yes, I did win an age group award, and yes, I’d love to tell you about it

I think most people know in a very cursory fashion who Nosferatu is. I asked my 13 year old son, a voracious reader and fan of the genre, and he was familiar enough with the name to make the connection between Nosferatu and Dracula. I will admit, I didn’t know much more about the story than that either.

But the story, like this red ale, goes deeper than that.

Nosferatu was a film of the silent film era, released in 1922. It was a blatant knock off of the Bram Stoker “Dracula” novel, with character names changed in order to avoid copyright infringement (spoiler alert: it didn’t work, they got sued, and the movie production company never made another film due to the lawsuit).

But, also, Nosferatu was way uglier and creepier than Dracula. Like Harvey Weinstein, without the nice suits.

Handsome devil

Contrast that with Dracula, whom, thanks to cinematic portrayals, has often been given a cinematic luster of romance and sensuality. From Bela Lugosi, to Christopher Lee, to Gary Oldman, Dracula in films was meant to be a monster, but, also, simultaneously, a suave, debonair, neck licking Lothario.

Hell, I think even Count Chocula has that same reputation in the cartoon world.

Admit it, you’re aroused

And don’t tell me that Count von Count (that’s his real name!  I checked) from Sesame Street isn’t smashing copious amounts of puppet on his own time.

Aroused by felt. Barely even weird

But I digress.

Back to the red ale.

The Great Lakes Brewery web site has all kinds of great information on this beer at their web site, as well as their other fine products.

Here are some of the pertinent details, I’ll let them do the talking.

I’m not new to beer drinking (I had my first beer in 1987) but I am new to beer blogging, and new to looking at my beers with a more critical eye. I’ve knocked back my share of red ales over the years, too, without giving much thought to what makes them red.

Going in to this post, I was like 87% sure that it’s not blood (though a Nosferatu beer isn’t helping tilt that number in the right direction).

So, let’s learn something today, kids! (Author’s note: Kids should not drink beer).

According to the very authoritative sounding Craft Beer Club web site, red ales are red due to “specialty roasted malts that create a unique complexity within the finished beer and gives it a sweeter, butterscotch or caramelized flavor. The use of American hops varieties gives the brew very bold hops characteristics and tends to leave a dry finish.”

In other words, not blood.

<sigh of sweet relief mixed with notes of disappointment>

The long and short of it is, I recommend this red ale. It’s devilishly delightful and it will suck the sobriety right out of you, neck-first.

Finally, I’ll add, this beer is too beautifully made to be associated with Dracula’s ugly copyright knock off! Its a fine piece of craftsmanship. I’ll let the Prose-inator drive from here:

“This beer tastes like what it would taste like if a

made love to a

in the middle of a

and then together raised a baby with their shared feelings of

and, finally, that baby cried

tears of

into a frosty pint glass.”

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Reports from the Wild: Sloop Brewing Juice Bomb NEIPA

Another update from the big thirsty world! Our field correspondent Breezer Marieezer checks in with her latest favorite, the Sloop Brewing Juice Bomb New England IPA (follow her on Instagram, or follow the Barley Prose Instagram page to get the latest).

Sounds like a winner to me!

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Lake George’s Brewery

One brewery dominates the beer scene in Lake George.

I spent Labor Day weekend in Lake George, which is a lake upstate New York that’s a popular getaway in the region. It’s a small summer town in the Adirondack Mountains, much like many lake or beach type communities across the country, and as such is prone to much of the same cliches and ‘Disneyified’ downtown featured elsewhere. Fudge, funny t-shirts, arcades, mini-golf, etc. At least it avoids the costumed characters begging for tips that litter places like Times Square and the Las Vegas Strip.

It’s not a beer destination, but there is beer. The town isn’t big and while it’s not super far from Albany, it’s still pretty rural. There’s access to plenty of beer, and let’s not forget that Vermont is very very close, but one brewery dominates the landscape in Lake George and that’s Adirondack Brewery, brewed right there in town.

Seemingly every restaurant has a few Adirondack taps, and it’s one of the beers you can reliably find at Stewart’s, one of the gas station convenience store chains prevalent in upstate New York. It’s a nice experience to have a brewery well integrated into a town life. Like a cozy companion wherever you go.

It was late when we first arrived, as we’d all worked that day. Our first meal was at a BBQ joint a short five minute walk away that could seat us right away. The first beer of the vacation is a lot of pressure; can it deliver?  I opted for Adirondack Brewing’s Lake George IPA (Wave #5) to pair with a sampler of various forms of meat. It hit the spot.

photo by CeetarAs is proper for any vacation, we stopped at a convenience store on the way back for snacks and drinks, and beer, to have in the hotel room. We stopped at the aforementioned Stewart’s; Ice cream for the kids, beer for us. I picked up a six-pack of Adirondack Bear Naked Amber. A good, shareable, easy-drinking beer. I opened the first one sitting outside an electric fire the hotel has while sitting in, fittingly, an Adirondack chair.

photo by Ceetar

Later on that weekend we found ourselves at a themed restaurant that featured hats for the kids with Moose Antlers. We were downtown waiting to see the fireworks, it was the unofficial end to summer, looking forward to fall. What better beer to celebrate that with than the NYS Oktoberfest?

My favorite of the bunch was the Bear Naked Amber Ale. I’m glad that’s the one I had a six-pack of that made its way back home with me. My only regret was that we never actually made it to the Adirondack brewpub itself.

photo by Ceetar

It pours a beautiful copper color.

It’s got some nice caramel notes, but plenty of estery/fruity notes, specifically cherry.

It’s a scrumptious tasting beer, with some light biscuity notes. It’s on the sweeter side but it’s balanced nicely by hops with some nice spicy bite to them. Like you’d get if you made that biscuit was made with some rye or other non-wheat grain.

The mouth feel is slick; it coats the tongue and leaves that dry stickiness that has you begging for another sip.

Overall this is a well-done and delicious amber ale, on the malty end of the fairly wide spectrum, and a good companion to a wide variety of drinking circumstances.

Follow BarleyProse on Twitter and me on Untappd. You can email me at beer@ceetar.com. I’ve been drinking Oktoberfest almost non-stop since that first one. 

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Beer Review Generator: Long Trail Harvest Vermont Maple Brown Ale

I poured one of these beautiful beers out to have with my dinner last night.

And then, instead of trying to piece together a literate, smart review of the reasons why I enjoyed this beer so much, I put my newly christened Beer Review Generator™ to work.

It’s going to use random choices from a series of lists to generate words beyond my own capability for expression.  The best part is that every time you refresh the page, you’ll get a brand new review.

Go ahead and give it a try!

“This beer tastes like what it would taste like if a

made love to a

in the middle of a

and then together raised a baby with their shared feelings of

and, finally, that baby cried

tears of

into a frosty pint glass.”

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Two Beers, One Lunch: Tell Me Why?

Why do we do this?  I mean, any of it?

Why write a blog?  Is it just because I need something to do to focus my free time on?  Does it validate my need for creativity, being a guitar player who only plays other people’s music?  Is it because I seek fulfillment or a need for positive praise?

Why drink beer?  I mean, OK, that one’s a little more obvious, this one I can answer.  (For the record, beer is delicious and alcohol has the capability to give the consumer a feeling of euphoric bliss, relaxation, and contentment.  It’s also particularly useful at washing down food.)

Why eat lunch?  Is it as simple as “the time between breakfast and dinner is many hours and the body requires sustenance midday?”  Or is it an excuse to have a social interaction with friends, and then while there perhaps have a “two beers, one lunch” kind of moment?

With these questions in mind, I soldiered off to my favorite new local spot for a respite from the hustle and bustle of the day, to consume two ten ounce beverages nicely bookending a fine piece of cuisinery.

The “alpha” beer: Clown Shoes Pecan Pie Porter (2018)

A beer that tastes like pecan pie?  Yeah, you read that right.  I’ll tell you, this beer is perhaps my most favorite porter since the protagonist of the movie Payback (an underrated Mel Gibson vehicle that I enjoyed, back before he revealed himself to be a racist misogynistic shit-ass and I decided his films were beyond enjoyment).

Until I get my previously mentioned “beer review mad lib generator” working, suffice it to say, that if you enjoy a sweet, rich, dark beer, with a decent amount of punch (as per the menu, clocking in at 8.5%), then this makes a fine choice.

It tastes, to put a fine point on it, like a sweet good morning kiss, delivered by a beautiful Latina princess, saturated full of alcoholic goodness, and then having that moment captured on canvas, in oil, surrounded by an aura of  Lucky Charms shapes and little naked cherubs shooting me with pecan tipped arrows.

My biggest faux pas was to order this as the first beer, I would say, and not the dessert/second beer, for which I have now derived a new moniker.  Because it drank much more like an after dinner beer than a before lunch beer.  I still sucked it down, have no fear.

The “main course,” courtesy of the Hops Spot, was a BMP with a side salad.

What is a BMP, you might ask?  No, this sandwich does not represent my basic metabolic profile, not best management practice, nor a bitmap image.

I might, however, consider eating this at Brunswick Memorial Park (Brunswick, Georgia) or analyzing its broad market potential.

In this case, the BMP is:

Bacon.

Mushroom.

Provolone.

I couldn’t be happier about this.  I’m not a BLT guy — consuming raw tomatoes is, to me, the culinary equivalent of yelling “Kali ma!” and eating a live, beating heart, pulled fresh out of the chest of an innocent Hindu unfortunate enough to have been captured in the Temple of Doom.

So, swapping out lettuce and tomato with mushroom and provolone?  Well, duh.

The mushroom is the star of this particular choice, a big round sucker, breaded and fried and presented as a hamburger style central point of this meal, topped with melted cheese and a hearty layer of bacon.  Served topped with garlic aioli, and presented with some fresh greens.

The best, Jerry, the best.

The “omega” beer:  Sloop Liquid Sorcery New England IPA

This is a fine New England style IPA, not overpoweringly hoppy, with a decent kick (6.5% ABV) and good flavor.

I was kind of hoping for something more tart, more gose-like, more sour, than what this beer delivered, but it did make for a fine second half of the two beer combo.

Well, now, in hindsight, I answered very few of the questions I set out to at the start of this post, and perhaps that’s fine.

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Reports from the Wild: Peach Buzz Wheat Ale

Another dispatch from the front lines, courtesy of our intrepid western New York correspondent Breezer Marieezer.

breezerm@barleyproseblog I took one sip of this @empirebrew Peach Buzz and immediately uttered “Wooooo! That’s peach AF!” The peach is super forward, and tart, but it balances out with a sweat and smooth spoon full of honey – both together kind of mask the wheat flavor, which I’m pretty happy about. Lip smackingly good. I’m a big peach lover, but wheat beers are not traditionally my go-to. This just happened to catch my eye while making a mix-pack on the fly at @wegmans tonight, and although it’s a little out of season (in fact last one in the cooler), it’s so luscious that I’m not even mad about its summery vibe. 🍑 🍺 🌞 🍯 And just LOOK at that gorgeous color! 😍 I probably should have saved it for tomorrow since it’ll be 80 degrees outside, but I couldnt resist cracking it open tonight. 7/10 for a fruit beer. Yum.

 

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Reports from the Wild: The Astounding She-Monster Mango IPA

Pleased to present the first review from our newly appointed “reporter in the wild,” Breezer Marieezer, on a mango IPA for which she has a complicated relationship.

I’ve been attempting to lure her, one of my run club homies, here to Barley Prose to write longer form pieces, but, in the interim, I’ll be reposting these on her behalf, and with her blessing, as well as any other beers of which she might be persuaded to share her opinions.

Thanks Bree!  Keep those reviews coming in from the big bad world!

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Run, Relax, Refresh: The Preserve

Rose: Why do men chase women?

Johnny: Well, there's a Bible story... God... God took a rib from Adam and made Eve. Now maybe men chase women to get the rib back. When God took the rib, he left a big hole there, where there used to be something. And the women have that. Now maybe, just maybe, a man isn't complete as a man without a woman.

Rose: [frustrated] But why would a man need more than one woman?

Johnny: I don't know. Maybe because he fears death.

[Rose looks up, eyes wide, suspicions confirmed]

Rose: That's it! That's the reason!

Johnny: I don't know!

Rose: No! That's it! Thank you! Thank you for answering my question!

 

What does this fantastic scene from Moonstruck have to do with running?  Or beers?  Or any damn thing?

Let me explain, or, as Inigo Montoya said, “no, there is too much, let me sum up.”

Men run because they fear death.

Maybe.

I should speak for myself here, and not my entire gender.

I don’t fear death.  I recognize that it’s part of the circle of life.  I saw the Lion King.  You have to have someone die before they can hold the new cub up and sing “Nants ingonyama bagithi baba!”  (actual Zulu lyrics, I looked them up) and so on.  I get all that.

What I fear, instead, is a gradual, slow death, incapacitated by inactivity, lifeless, slumped over in a chair or a bed in some assisted living center, awake but not really awake.  Overweight, and achey, and struggling to haul my big old ass up off the couch or up a flight of steps.  I’ve seen too many other old folks go out that way.

I run because it restores a sense of vitality to my life.  I run because it’s a way to remind myself that despite my advancing years, I can stare mortality in the face, let the Reaper know that even though he will eventually catch me, that I’m laced up and ready to make him WORK to catch me.

So, having said that, let’s take a foot tour through one of the many fine neighborhoods in my town.

The Run:

Wednesdays are run club nights – my run club runs a (mostly) closed-to-traffic stretch of trails and city sidewalks marked off and known as the Creekwalk each Wednesday after work.  The full route is 5.5 miles, though some of it was closed for construction.  I modified the route today to shorten it up to a 5k (3.1 mile) route, as I have a marathon in a few days and didn’t want to overextend myself.  This is a nice meandering path around a few different parts of downtown Syracuse, including a loop around our interactive museum, the MOST.

Of the 26 minutes I was running, I had about a ten minute stretch to start where the sky was dry, though gradually “purpling,” and then a 15 minute downpour, followed by (of course) a let up just as my run ended.  Because that’s how these things go.  Likely, my pace picked up due to the heavy rain, as I was inclined to get my miles in and move on to the second portion of my trifecta.

The Relax:

Historically, the run club has started and ended our Wednesday runs at a cafe, chosen primarily due to its proximity to the Creekwalk and ample parking.

While pleasant in a general sense, and containing some outdoor seating, I don’t need coffee at 5:30 PM.  That’s a late hour for caffeine.  I generally have something more refreshing in mind that late in the day, especially after a 30 minute run.

So, wouldn’t we be a happy-as-heck run club to find out that a brand new pub/tavern was opening up right along our route?

Shiny and new and ready for visiting

The Preserve opened its doors officially earlier this month.  Our run club prez made arrangements with the place so they would set aside a table for us.

This place is really very pleasant and upscale.  I ran first and then headed in for a beer, and immediately felt like Rodney Dangerfield’s character from Caddyshack.

Cloth napkins?   Faux fireplaces?  People wearing pants?  I felt like some kind of fancy person.  Come on now.

They had a long, comfortable looking bar — so populated with people that I had to elbow my way in to look at the taps.

I’ll take one of those, please.

The bartender was pleasant in both appearance and disposition and she did that thing that girls do that makes me crazy.  She poured me a beer.  I love her!

The Refresh:

I had two beers today, the first of which was a nice, if not particularly memorable, IPA.  The second beer, however, was a revelation.

This bad boy, right here, the Good Nature Brewing American Brown Ale.

Ignore the branding on this pint glass

Regular readers of this blog will know that I am long partial to the brown ales.  The first post that I wrote for this blog, in fact, was a review of another brown ale.

Today’s beer was brought to me (via the Reserve) from the Good Nature Brewing Company, based out of nearby Hamilton, New York.  Their American Brown Ale (6.2% ABV, IBU 47) is described on the brewer’s web site, ITBMCBB*, as “rich with prominent chocolate & toffee notes. Dark & robust but smooth.”

I couldn’t agree more.

This thing had all kinds of depth of flavor.  I’m partial to most craft beers’ version of a brown ale, but this was hands down the best of all that I have had.  Sweet, and rich, and wonderful.

Perhaps I don’t have a sophisticated palette.  If you challenged me to find the notes, or hints, in this beer, I’d just look at you like you were growing extra heads, or make a joke about your mama’s mouth feel, or some other dumbass snarky wisecrack.

This is where I grow frustrated by my own lack of innate poetic talent.  (Yes, I do understand that prose, by definition, is a style of writing devoid of poetic flair, and that this is barleyprose.com, and, yet, I still strive to be more of a wordsmith here in this space, hence my desire to blog in the first place).

I’m going to work on a random beer superlatives phrase generator, that will pull from a few different sets of phrases to auto-magically build me poetic and beautiful descriptions of all the delicious beers I’m enjoying these days.  So, for now, imagine that the blanks are replaced by words and phrases suggested in parentheses.  Use technology to accomplish what my tired weeknight brain can’t do on its own.

“This beer tastes like what it would taste like if a _________ (real life occupation) made love to a _________  (creature from any ancient society’s mythology or folklore) in the middle of a ________ (uncommon vehicle or domicile), and then together raised a baby with their shared feelings of ________ (semi-appropriate emotion), and, finally, that baby cried _________ (positive adjective) tears of __________ (cold liquid) into a pint glass.”

This idea has real potential!

Until that tool is ready, go out and visit the Preserve, if you’re in town, or head out to Hamilton and grab a nut (brown ale!).

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My Illicit Other Half Space Diamonds

When you see a can of Other Half in the wild, you buy it, and drink it.

photo by Ceetar

Other Half Brewing, if you don’t know, is a very highly regarded brewery in Brooklyn, New York. They make a lot of beers, though they’re primarily known for their IPAs, and many of them are of the hazy New England style. These leads to lines, and hype, and all that jazz. I’ve been twice myself, both times just to drink in the tap room. The second time I did manage to purchase available cans, but they were ‘just’ a Kolsch, because those just don’t go as fast, despite it being an amazing beer.

So barring that odd adventure out to Brooklyn, I don’t get to drink these IPAs that often. They don’t distribute cans as far as I know, so it’s always odd when you stumble across a fresh can of Double Dry Hopped Space Diamonds in a store, as I did this past weekend. The ethics of this are questionable. The beer I purchased obviously isn’t funneled through the normal ways alcohol is distributed in New York, despite being only a dozen or so miles from Brooklyn. Other Half probably doesn’t know the beer is there, they have no idea who it is that’s selling it, what condition they’re keeping it in, and if it’s properly representing the brewery the way they wanted it to. This beer wasn’t in cold storage somewhere, it was out on the counter by the cash register by itself, not even as part of the typical 4-pack. Someone probably went down to Other Half, waiting in line, bought as much beer as they could, and brought it back to sell.

The beer was priced at roughly twice what it actually would’ve cost at the brewery. I purchased it. This isn’t the first time I’ve bought a single like this that I suspected wasn’t on the up and up, but for me, the drinker, this is my only chance to actually taste that beer, barring trading for it on the secondary market which in many ways is the same thing. Having purchased it merely 16 miles from the brewery versus someone possibly packing and mailing it across the country, in the summer, in a warm truck, for a beer trade is almost definitely fairer to the beer.

It’s an interesting catch-22. I understand breweries like Other Half having a desire to control their distribution as much as they can, trying to insure that the beer is as close to the way the brewer intended when it reaches the drinker, something that’s a huge concern across the industry. While this obviously subverts that process, it’s also not putting their beer into someone’s unsuspecting hands. Very few people are going to pay that second-hand mark-up without an understanding that there is no guarantee it didn’t sit in a hot trunk all day before being transported to Long Island.

So did the Double Dry Hopped Space Diamonds by Other Half hold up? Is it as the brewer intended? I like to think so. I haven’t had this one at the brewery, but it tasted the way I would expect it to taste, matching similar beers I’ve had there, matching the tasting notes others have made. In short, yes, it was delicious.

The aroma trended orange. Oranges and mangos were what hit me first, particularly the riper, or danker, part of that spectrum. Like if you turned that orange or mango over and found it soft on the other side.

The taste matched, for the most part. Very boozy with some of that hop burn that’s typical of strong NE IPAs. I know you’re supposed to taste pineapple with these galaxy beers, but I think it’s a stronger flavor than that. Like a tart mango or something tropical. There’s a lot of spicy/phenol flavors going on too. Plenty of layered flavor making this a delicious concoction that I downed faster than I should’ve.

It’s very New England obviously. The mouthfeel is soft and the ‘juice’ is everywhere, on the nose, on the palate, on the trip down your throat. You won’t mistake this one for a V8 with vodka though, it was a beer full of hops strongly expressing fruit flavor and aroma.

Follow BarleyProse on Twitter and me on Untappd. You can email me at beer@ceetar.com. No arrests were made in the research for this post. 

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Run, Relax, Refresh: WT Brews

This is the first in what I expect to be a series of posts with a common motif.

That theme is to write about two things that are dear to me.  One of them, you might have guessed, is beer.

The other is a pursuit of mine that I feel goes hand in hand with beer, and, in the circles in which I travel, I think I’d be able to find a number of fine, sweaty folks who agree with me (no, the perspiring people I am referring to are not mob trial witnesses).

That second thing that is dear to me?  Running.

However, let’s not jump to any rash conclusions.  Not everyone who runs drinks beers.  Delicious, craft beers, with fruit flavors and subtle hints of things.  And, similarly, not everyone who drinks is a runner.  In fact, I know plenty of thirsty Americans who don’t run farther than their own basement fridges.

But, and here’s the thing, if you Venn diagram’d this sumbitch, well, you’d find quite the nice intersection of runners and beer drinkers.

Why do you think this is?

  1.  Surely, running will build up a thirst in a man.
  2.  The “runner’s high,” for those of us who feel a certain euphoric bliss at the end of a strenuous period of exercise, is strikingly reminiscent of the buzz that two flavorful malts/stouts/IPAs will give a man.
  3.  Running creates a calorie deficit.  If you don’t fill that hole, you could get weak and/or hurt yourself.
  4.  Beer is delicious (this is more of a universal truth)

The concept of this post, and likely subsequent ones, is to lay out a course and cover it at a brisk pace, near a local watering hole, and then follow said run with a cold brewski.  In other words, the “run,” the “relax,” and the “refresh.”  In that order.

Since we ramped up this little slice of bloggery, I’ve been meaning to stop at WT Brews, in Baldwinsville, New York.  Like the previously reviewed Buried Acorn, it’s a tap room, a place brewing a number of local beers that I’ve yet to try.

So prior to driving over there,  plotted out a very nice 3+ mile course that would start and end right at the brewery.  And I ran it.

The Run:

This course actually ran by two different cemeteries, both on Tappan Street.  It set me a wondering — how many people die in this little town?  Perhaps I should have altered the route to go past a third cemetery, on the basis of “good things come in threes” and “deaths come in threes,” either of which would be a suitable pattern to sustain.

It was, in other respects, a delightful, if not a bit warm, typical weekday run for me.  Most nights, after work, I try to get a 30 minute or so workout in at a pace that is comfortable but not taxing, and at the same time work up a good sweat.  This route surely qualified.

The Relax:

The run was followed by a pop in to the aforementioned WT Brews.  Forgive my piss poor photo taking skills here, but I was goofy with sweat and weakness and a lack of hoppy delights.

This tap room boasts both a number of in house products, as well as several guest taps.

Choices aplenty

This is a really enjoyable little place, hitting on a number of details that make it a sweet spot.  Complimentary pretzels, a dart board, and the A/C cranked up on an 80+ degree day, to name a few.

Not to mention chairs with an abundance of assfeel.

The Refresh:

Given my predilection for fruity, tart, not-so-beery tasting beers, I naturally went with the passion fruit gose.

I can’t tell you what their brewmaster might tell you about this beer — it’s so new, it’s not even mentioned on their list of beers on their web site (though they do identify 13 other home cooked products there).

This beer “gose” with pretzels

What I can tell you, though, is that this gose comes in a close second to the Brown’s Brewing Guava Gose written up here as my all time favorite beer of this style.  Tons of tartness and flavor.  It has “hints of yumminess” in it!

I would come back and slurp down more of these, without question.

It ended up being quite the nice capper to a weekday jaunt.  I shall be back, probably to sample their blonde ale and IPA, on subsequent visits.

 

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