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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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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Two Beers, One Lunch: Back to the Hops Spot (or, Good Things Come in Threes)

They say “good things come in threes.”

Three little pigs, for example.

Stooges.

Blind mice.

We Bare Bears.

Less than four bears and more than 2

And so on.

The reality is, I think, that good things come in quantities of X, and that the human brain is preconditioned to notice a pattern upon the third of three related events or outcomes.

In other words, one is an accident, two is a coincidence, but three is a PATTERN.

Does that make sense?

Of course, they also say “deaths come in threes.”  So, maybe, that means deaths are good things?  That’s some grim business there, it is.

Where am I going with this?  Let’s do some arithmetic, my fine readers.

Beer + lunch + beer = 3 things I stuffed in my face

So, that’s not a death.  That’s a good thing.

And when you know a good thing, you circle back to it.  We’ve been enamored of late with our newest local poutinery, the Hops Spot, on Walton Street in Syracuse.

Read my initial review here, and educate yourself on another fine triumverate, poutine!  (Ingredients: cheese curds, fries, gravy).

We returned to the Hops Spot recently, and, despite the confirmed and re-confirmed greatness of the poutine, I decided to veer off to another part of the menu for my lunch and beer choices.

First, the warm up beer, a beautiful hazy sumbitch (read “sumbitch” in your best internal Jackie Gleason as Buford T. Justice voice).

This, my friends, is an Industrial Arts Wrench New England IPA, or NEIPA as they are sometimes abbreviated.  I know from Ceetar’s instagram posts that he’s had at least one of these in his fridge.

Hazy shade of delicious

This yummy thing, ITBMCBB*, is “A pithy explosion of aroma and flavor, beyond hazy, and loaded with Mosaic and Citra to the point of stickiness.”  So, for the record, I did not spill any of it on myself, so I will not venture a guess beyond assuming it’s not any stickier than any other beer that isn’t congealing on Ceetar’s floor.

It is, however, tart and fruity and delightful.  Much like the sours and goses I’ve been enjoying of late, it’s just got a nice bite to it.

Served in a 10 oz. glass, but with a 6.8% ABV, it’s got a decent amount of punch and I would partake of it again.

(I’ve decided, of late, that when having two beers and lunch all in one shot, to try and reach out into more of the 10 ounce portions, just because it makes for a long afternoon otherwise.  Life strategy, courtesy of the Barley Prose).

And now, a hiatus, from the beer talk, to turn Barley Prose into Burger Prose.  This is the Hops Spot’s Smokehouse Turkey Burger, served with bacon, provolone, aioli mayo and a side salad of mixed greens and grapeseed oil vinagrette dressing.  You’ll note that the tiny red puply objects in the lower right of my tray, banished there due to their being disgusting and vulgar.

If you had this right now you’d be eating it

New glossary term alert!  In the “Two Beers, One Lunch” theme, the two beers will be referred to as the ____ and the ____.    Readers, please, I need input in the comments section on a good duo to use as aliases for these bookends.

Back to our review!

The second beer of the meal was the Carton Brewing Company East Coast Double IPA (7.8% ABV, 80 IBU).So, to my chagrin, a double IPA is not an IPA twice as large as a regular IPA.  That would be the shit, were it so.  But it ain’t.

Carton of (liquid) smoke!

What is a double IPA?

A double IPA, loyal reader, is an American style of beer where double the hops are used, and then additional malts are added to balance out the flavor.

And now you know!

This was my first double IPA, and, so, I was surprised that it was not hoppy in the way that a normal IPA is.  Still delicious, but more of a balanced flavor, to be sure.  Again, ITBMCBB*, this drink will take the imbiber on a journey, where they shall “find dank green resinous hops popping over orange, mango and papaya aromas, with just enough sweetness of body to make the long finish a pleasure to have around.”

Um, yep!  Abso-damn-lutely!  I know, from my own end, that’s more “barely prose” than “barley prose,” but that’s my style.  I appreciate you’re continued reading, clicking, commenting and co-beveraging.

There’s more goodness still to come.  The Hops Spot routinely has 40+ beers on tap, plus tons of other menu choices (though, to be honest, I yearned and still yearn for more of the classique poutine).  We will be back.

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Review: The Hops Spot

There two kinds of people in the world.  There are those who eat poutine, and those who do not.

(Author’s note: there are actually several other kinds of people in the world.)

What’s poutine, you say?  I’ll pretend you’re asking me that, semi-imaginary reader, strictly for purposes of moving this write up along, and not out of ignorance.

Poutine is a dish of french fries, mixed with cheese curds (known in some parts as “squeaky cheese”), and then topped with gravy.  The same kind of gravy you’d normally be ladling over stuffing and mashed potatoes on Thanksgiving, that is to say.

It looks like this, in its simplest and most delightful form.

Poutine!

Now, you might think that a person would have to travel to the great white north, AKA Canada (sometimes affectionately known as “America’s Hat” or “America Jr.”) to find a proper plate of poutine.

But if you thought that, you’d be wrong, and, possibly, oblivious.  I can forgive you.  Let’s not let it ruin this fantastic thing that we have going here.

No, the dish of poutine pictured above was served up right here in one of Syracuse’s newest eateries, The HopsSpot.

I visited this place with a few buddies recently and had me a big ol plate of poutine.  I washed it down with a couple of delightful beers from their excellent beer list, in another installment of my running “two beers, one lunch” motif.

The beer list can be found on their web site and when dining there in person, on paper menus (they run 4+ pages long), with over 40 choices of draft and can/bottle beer to choose from.

I started my day with a Smuttynose Old Brown Dog Ale.

Hair of the dog, ayuk nyuk

Those who’ve read this blog before will know that I have a penchant for a brown ale.  They speak to me, in fact, I can think of very few brown ales that I have not enjoyed.

There’s something comforting about them, smooth and inviting, like wearing my granddad’s sweater.  Except, in this case, I’m stuffing that sweater into a pint glass and then wrapping it around some poutine that’s landed in my gut.

This particular brown ale (6.5% ABV, 29.5 IBU) is particularly tasty.  The web site doesn’t provide the usual floral descriptions, or mention hints of any particular flavors, so I will describe it as being the resultant product of a love affair between a Canadian lumberjack and an Egyptian belly dancer, sprinkled liberally with pixie dust and magic brown slurpiness.

I moved on from the Dog to an IPA, this time going with the Troegs Independent Perpetual IPA (7.5% ABV, 85 IBU).  I do pick my drinks out often based on the “maximum punch” process, preferring higher ABV choices to lower ones and 16 oz. servings to the 10 oz “specialty” sizes.  So this bad boy fit the bill on both counts.

This IPA, ITBMCBB*, “emerges rife with sticky citrus rind, pine balm and tropical fruit.”  Now, pine balm would be a hard flavor to identify on my best days.  I have pine trees growing behind my house, though I’ve never balmed them or sought balm from them.

Nor can I claim to taste tropical fruit, or sticky citrus rind.

That doesn’t mean that it’s not still a fine, fine choice.  It’s hoppy, sure, but in a fun, delightful way, like when the neighbor’s kid gets too many pixie sticks in him and starts hopping up and down the street like he’s on a pogo.  You don’t care, it’s someone else’s child, let him get all hopped up.

The Hops Spot has a menu full of good looking choices – burgers, salads, and several other varieties of poutine, all of which I hope to sample in the upcoming weeks and months.   Not to mention another 38 or so beers, most of which are new to me (though I was pleased to see them carrying choices from the Buried Acorn on their list, among others).

For those not local to Syracuse, go out and find yourself some equivalent poutinerie (yes, that’s a real word, it’s on the Hops Spot web site after all) and dig in to this northern delicacy.

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Review: Boulevard Brewing Company Jam Band Berry Ale

It’s back for another go at one of Syracuse’s finest lunch spots, to sit down and have a meal and a cold libation.

That place being the Dinosaur Bar-b-que.

As a regular diner at this establishment, I can tell you that you can’t really go wrong on the lunch ordering.  On my most recent visit I partook of a cheeseburger and fries, pretty standard fare, but I can tell you that their brisket and pulled pork sandwiches are also top drawer.   I’m not much of a wings or ribs guy but those are also well spoken of.

And what do all of these things have in common?  Savory barbecue flavoring?  The ability to make the middle of your body look like a bean bag chair?  Yes, that too.  But that’s not what I’m going for here.

They all go down delightfully with a pint of ale.

This is the Barley Prose blog, after all, not an ode to bean bags.

On to the beer.

This beautiful reddish concoction, pictured above, is one of the regular beers served on tap at the Dino.

It is the Jam Band Berry Ale, made by Boulevard Brewing.  Sold nationally but based out of Kansas City, MO.  I have a friend who goes way back on this beer, her being from Kansas, and I saw her slurping one down as we tailgated before a concert this past summer at the Lakeview Amphitheater and made a mental note to go try one.

I am also partial to the fruity beers, having reviewed a delightful guava gose, among others.

So, on to this one (IBU 6, ABV 5.9%).  For the record, ITBMCBB*, this beer is marketed as featuring  “…blueberry, raspberry and tart cherry play in perfect harmony to create a slightly tart ale that sings with ripe, bursting fruit flavor. Aromas of dark berries, citrus and melon open the show, bridging to zippy fruit flavors that meld into an easy-drinking summer beer worthy of an encore.”

And doesn’t that sound nice?  I personally missed the comedic duo of Cirtus and Melon, and their stylings, but, you know what?  I have the palate of a barely evolved chimp.

I happened to drink one of these with my burger and fries just the other day, served up by one of the Dino’s very lovely servers.  She brought me a beer, so, of course, I love her!

And, boy oh boy, what a treat of a beer this is.  Tart, and sweet, and fruity, but, unmistakably still a beer.  Sweet, and delightful.  Goes with all kinds of things.  It’s like if an ice cold beer made love to a peanut butter sandwich, and birthed a 16 oz love baby into a pint glass and found a buxom Asian gal to bring it to me in a bar-b-cue joint.

I see from public web sites that these bad boys go for a very affordable $10.99 for a 12 pack of 12 oz cans.  That’s a solid price point.

I’ll be back to the Dino, of course, and this one now goes into my regular rotation, along with the similarly sweet and delicious Juicy Haze IPA also served on tap there.

Check out Boulevard Brewing Company on Twitter, and Instagram, and probably Facebook (I don’t roll with the Face.)

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Review: Brown’s Brewing Company Guava Gose

If I were a poet, I would say that this concoction was the color of a sunrise, at Acadia National Park in Maine on the Atlantic coast, with schooners off in the distance, and fishing boats headed out for the day, and so on and so forth.

But that ain’t me, son.

I’m a man. A thirsty man, who enjoys a beer and a sandwich.

In this case, the location of the sandwich was the very recently opened Syracuse Press Room Pub, off of Clinton Square in Syracuse. This is a very hip new restaurant and tavern filled with Syracuse themes bric-a-brac and cool tables made out of cut down portions of actual basketball flooring. And some tasty vittles. In this case, the special of the day was a chicken teriyaki sandwich, topped with booze soaked salsa (see a theme yet?) and a side of their fantastically delightful homemade potato chips.

If you’re not getting the chips at this place, well, that means you blew it. YOU BLEW IT!

So, back to the Press Room. Their web site does tout the fine list of New York breweries featured among their beer selections, including “Ommegang, Brooklyn, Middle Ages, Browns, Ithaca, LIC, Single-Cut, Thin-Man, Rohrbach, Common Roots, Lake Placid, Empire, 1911, Critz Farms, Southern Tier” and promising that the list goes on from there.

(Which explains why my beer was served in a Southern Tier pint glass, despite not being a Southern Tier product.)

Today’s beverage is a Brown’s Brewing Company product known as the Guava Gose.

A gose, for those of you not in the “knows,” is a specific kind of beer. And I had to look so that I could say something more sophisticated than “goses are so good!” Which doesn’t really help anyone.

According to the Wikipedia, a gose is “a top-fermented beer that originated in Goslar, Germany. It is brewed with at least 50% of the grain bill being malted wheat. Dominant flavours in gose include a lemon sourness, a herbal characteristic, and a strong saltiness (the result of either local water sources or added salt). Gose beers typically do not have prominent hop bitterness, flavours, or aroma. The beers typically have a moderate alcohol content of 4 to 5% ABV.”

This particular gose is brought to you by Brown’s Brewing Company. They are based out of Troy, New York, near Albany, and I have been to their taproom. I attended a wedding and reception there a few years ago, and in fact am in the proud possession of a Brown’s Brewing Company bottle opener that has served me well.

Anyhoo, the Brown’s folks have so many beers that their web site gives only very short shrift to this particular brew.

“Tart German wheat beer brewed with sea salt, coriander, and almost 400 pounds of guava puree! 4.75% ABV, 0 IBU”

That’s all you’re getting out of the Brown’s on this. So, allow me to supplement that with details.

This beer is tremendous! It is tart and sweet at the same time. It’s fruity as all get out and it’s got a wonderful aroma. I would best describe it as the by-product of a love affair between a mermaid and a fat clown that was taking a break from scaring little kids at birthday parties. Like John Wayne Gacy, if he hadn’t killed all of those people.

I’ve yet to find this one in the stores, which keeps me going back to the Press Room to enjoy them, and as long as it’s on tap there at a reasonable $6 per pint, I shall continue to return and partake.

I couldn’t even find an image of the product itself, but I think this one, shown in a Brown’s glass, is pretty close.

So head over to the Press Room, or, if you’re in the Troy area, to the brewing room, and suck down one of these bad boys. Or, you know, start stomping on the guavas yourself (writer’s note: stomping on a guava may or may not produce a delicious gose beer, when combined with several other steps and several weeks of waiting. I cannot confirm or deny this).

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Review: New Belgium Voodoo Ranger Juicy Haze IPA

You know what’s good? Barbecue.

You know what’s better? Barbecue, washed down with the sweet nectar of life.

Out for lunch with a couple of my friends at Syracuse’s best local barbecue joint, the well renowned Dinosaur Barbecue, to enjoy their sublime Chicken Deluxe sandwich. Listen to this description!

“Mojito marinated chicken breast, melted American, lettuce, tomato, pickled onion & jalapeno relish, BBQ mayo, BBQ sauce”

I’m not exaggerating when I say that I’d punch my mama in the ear to get to one of these sammiches.

(Minus tomatoes, which I don’t dig on, due to their textural similarity to what a human heart must be like if you were to pull it out of a man’s chest and then place it on a mojito themed chicken).

The choice for this particular day was to wash it down with a New Belgium Voodoo Ranger Juicy Haze IPA.

Well, this beer is murky and delightful, with hints of deliciousness!

Honestly, as I find my voice writing beer reviews, I will admit, that many of the nuances of beer descriptions are just lost on me. It may be that this beer contains all of the wide variety of spices, aromas and flavors as described on the site’s own media.

ITBMCBB*, the Juicy Haze has a “very strong hop aroma of citrus (lemon, some orange, lime and grapefruit) and tropical (guava and pineapple), with light grassy and caramel-like malt aroma.”

And how’s the mouthfeel?  Well, hell, my mouth is full of beer and chicken, so it feels great!

This is a delicious tart beer and with an ABV of 7.5% it also packs a nice little wallop to it.  And that’s always a good quality by my own measure.

If I were writing copy for this product, I would describe it as the taste of “two sexy leprechaun ladies making out with each other in a rainstorm.”

This beer was served draft style but it’s also packaged in a pretty slick design by the fine folks at New Belgium. 

Go out and have one!

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Review: Brooklyn Brown Ale

Well, let’s get one thing clear, right out of the gate.

And if we can’t agree to this basic premise, then, well, I’d suggest you go off in search of a blog about knitting, or dressing up tiny dogs to look like celebrities, or dressing up stuffed animals to look like tiny dogs.

The premise is: beer is delicious.

Having said that, I am privileged enough to live near a Wegmans.  And one of the great joys of Wegmans is the “Craft Your Own Six Pack.”  For $10.99, a shopper can choose from over one hundred various porters, stouts, sours, ales, lagers, IPAs, hard lemonades and ciders, and so on, and get six new beers to try.  Many of my reviews will be obtained in this fashion.

(And, don’t tell anyone, but, theoretically, a shopper could just grab a beer from a united four/six pack and place it gently in their own “crafted six pack” and add to their possible choices.  I wouldn’t do that, due to the Judeo-Christian ethic and Big Brother and such.)

So, a number of the Brooklyn Brewery beers are available and made available via this fine program.  This is how I came across the Brooklyn Brown Ale.

This ale, if the brewmasters can be believed, (or ITBMCBB for short, as I intend to use this acronym again, hey, Ceetar, let’s get a glossary going!), is a “blend of six malts, some of them roasted, [that] give this beer its deep russet-brown color and complex malt flavor, fruity, smooth and rich, with a caramel, chocolate and coffee background.”

Now, that’s just fancy brewer speak, to me.  I can tell you is that it’s dark brown and sweet and delicious.  I tend to pair this with beef dishes, when serving it up at the ol’ KilgoreStout residence.

I would describe this as what it would taste like if you were to make out with a unicorn that ate nothing but pancakes and maple syrup.

Perhaps the greater joy is that a six pack of these beauties goes for just $8.99 at my local food jobber, a good $2 less than the sampler sixer.  Which means that, when I am pressed for time or energy and don’t feel like I can find six new, interesting beers to try, I’ll grab a 6 of this and a six pack of another Brooklyn Brewery beer, one that pairs better with fish and chicken, and which I shall review at another time.

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