Beer Review:  Barnes & Noble’s Three Barrel Beer:  “The Future of Beer”

This my weekly column of beer reviews. Every Friday, I’ll be reviewing a new beer from a brewery that I am aware of, but I haven’t yet reviewed. I’ll be reviewing a “side project” beer from a brewery I am not familiar with. I’ll also be taking a look at a beer from a brewery I am quite familiar with, but which I am not reviewing yet. I will be looking at the beer from the perspective of someone who has never had it before, and in doing so, will hopefully give you a better idea of the beer and the brewery, as well as perhaps giving you some new information that you didn’t know before. To start off, I’ll be reviewing a beer from Ale Syndicate.

 

Beer Name:Arizona Redwood Lager
ABV 5.90
Style: Lager
Appearance: 3
Aroma: 3
Palate: 3
Taste: 3
Overall: 3
Reviewer: jlindros
Review: Had this at an in-patient brewpub for a trip, and could have easily wrong-drank it. I’m glad I had to try it. A: Very dark behind a very murky, partially opaque straw colored brew. A small mainly head spilled a good bit of foam. The head was quite amusing. S: There was a bready malt scent, but I didn’t really get that. There was a mild roasted malt smell.

 

Beer Name:Alka Meche
ABV 11.00
Style: Belgian Strong Pale Ale
Appearance: 4
Aroma: 4
Palate: 4
Taste: 4
Overall: 4
Reviewer: andytook
Review: 12oz. in the Alka Meche tap at the Stouty Grille in Westboro, MA. Poured in a tulip glass. Pours a nice dark mahogany with a slight cloudy hue. Smells pretty awesome. I’ve always had this beer in my fridge, but never had a chance to try it. It just looks really great in the glass. Taste is perfect too. It has a great taste. The initial taste is spicy and fruity. Its right at the forefront in this beer. Any other flavor takes a back seat as the alcohol warms. A bit less on the hoppy side, but still nice. Drinkable.

 

Beer Name:Bitter and Twisted
ABV 10.00
Style: Witbier
Appearance: 4
Aroma: 3
Palate: 3.5
Taste: 2
Overall: 2
Reviewer: NattyBlack
Review: Well I was hoping this beer was a Belgian, but I was shocked to find it was a carbonation light witbier. The alcohol is well hidden and I had to break it up with the hops. What a mess. The beer is about 5% abv and I’m not used to the abv. What the hell, I like it.

 

 


note: If you couldn’t tell, this stuff is AI-generated. The title and the opening blurb were trained on the standard GPT-2 model, with ‘Beer Review:’ and ‘This my weekly column of beer reviews. ‘ given as prompts. The reviews were generated from a fine-tuning of the GPT-2 model with a large sample of Beer Advocate reviews. I selected from the saved samples of these and put this post together. I have not yet figured out how to train an algorithm to generate me beer photos.

What Have We Learned? (Spoiler: Belgian Beers are Fucking Gross!)

Well, so far, 2020 has been a real punch to the anus.

Not gonna sugar coat it.  Barley Prose isn’t exempt, either, as we’ve managed just four sad posts for the entire calendar year to date.  On behalf of the entire team, I’m sorry we haven’t generated more witty and urbane commentary to help you with the anal-punch-osity of 2020.

While I’ve been doing my part as a local beer consumer, buying growlers from all of my favorite local joints to keep them in the black best I can, cracking open big jugs of beer and not having anyone to share them with does take some of the fun out of it.

So what’s the thing that finally gets my juices flowing?  Enough to write a blog post?

It’s this.  I’ve learned something important this year. As Ralphie said, “Oh, rarely had the words poured from my penny pencil with such feverish fluidity.”

Belgian beer is fucking disgusting.

I like a wide variety of beers.  I’ve written about them here in many columns.  I enjoy stouts, and porters, and sour beers, and New England IPAs, and, really, any IPA.  Brown and red ales too.  I’m partial to just about everything except beers that taste like the beer I used to drink in the 1980s and 1990s to get drunk, before I was making any effort to find delicious beer to drink.

And in my time drinking with the intent of writing content for this fine site, I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone and tried a lot of new, different things.  And so I can say, authoritatively, that Belgium must be the saddest, off-spiced, nasty place in the world, if it can be judged based on the beers it produces.

Today’s representative offering is the Victory Brewery’s “Golden Monkey” Belgian tripel ale.  Tripel being, I assume, the Belgian word for “run through a homeless man’s shoe and/or a dead hooker’s asshole.”

I bought a variety pack of beers from Victory this past week and all of the other beer varieties in the pack were of a type I’ve been known to drink and enjoy. There were three each of a sour beer, a low calorie IPA, a regular IPA and a hazy style NE IPA. And three of these Golden Monkey beers, which might actually be apple juice that was anally raped and left in an alley to die a justifiably painful expiration.  I figured, well, at 9.5% ABV, I’ll at least give one a go.

Note that this beer, ITBMCBB*, has been infused with “exotic spice from the East.” Oh, good. I was hoping my beer would taste like a tuna casserole! How many warm summer nights did I crack open a cold one and think, “oh, man, this thing could use some fucking cardamom!” Oh, wait, that’s never happened, sorry. Only a jerk would think that.

Look, I’m not saying that all Belgian beers are as gross as this one. My co-bloggers may (and have) come to the defense of this style beer in a more general sense. I’ve had Stella Artois beers before, and Duvels, at least, and one or two others that I added to a Wegmans’ “Craft Your Own Six Pack.” And I can’t recall a single time that I thought it tasted better than any IPA I might have otherwise grabbed nearby.

So, to sum up, the next time you find yourself in Antwerp, and you have a thirst to quench, I’d suggest you give the bidet a try.

“On The Gargle,” a beer blogger’s tour of Dublin

I am fortunate enough to have a job that affords me some travel opportunities.  To date, those trips have all been domestic ones, but, finally, an opportunity arose for me to travel to Dublin for a week, all on the company dime.  And while there was much work to be done, there was also enough time for me to go out “on the gargle” a bit (i.e., out for some beers).

As someone who has already written specifically on the perfect nature of the Guinness, well, this was a wonderful opportunity to go to the source of this magic stuff.  And while I didn’t do the factory tour, I did sample quite a bit of it in Ireland, as well as some other common/popular beers there.

First, let’s start with “a pint of the black stuff.”  (I will be throwing the Dublin-specific jargon around in this blog post, in quotes, as one of the folks I was working with there was kind enough to teach me some drinking lingo.  This is in fact how they often order it over there, I can attest).

I had heard, from other folks in my workplace, that the Guinness in fact tastes different in Dublin. I will attest to that, but, also, that I only noticed it on the first Guinness I drank there. After that, they all just tasted like Guinness. Which is a fine, fine thing, of course.

I drank Guinness at just about every stop along my trip over the course of the week. It’s a good “foundation beer,” the base layer in a beer pyramid that I was assembling in my gut.

But there were many other fine choices that I enjoyed.

This is a Smithwick’s Irish Red Ale.  I learned, three days in, that despite the spelling, the locals pronounce it as “Smithick’s.”  It’s probably the second most commonly served Irish beer I saw on tap there (not counting “imports,” as there was Coors Light on tap there everywhere, and Carlsberg’s, and Heinekens, etc.).

This was maybe the beer I drank the second most of in my time there. They go down easy, have just 150 calories per 12 oz. serving, but with a smooth and easy to drink flavor. I bought a six pack of these at my local food jobber when I got back and they are equally good in a bottled format (just $9, too, another plus).

Another fine choice for when you’re out “in your cups,” as they say.

My enjoyment of the Smithwick’s led me to this tasty choice.  My hotel was within walking distance of a quaint little Irish pub, just far enough out of the city proper to feel like I had found some more authentic Dublin than the tourists might be frequenting.  A very punchy and funny bartender suggested that I might enjoy this one based on the fact that I was partaking of the Smithwick’s.  And then a fine local wanted to buy my wife and I a beer and so I ended up with a pair of these.  I ended up being not just “out” but in fact “out out” drinking, on that night.

 

It was certainly a tasty choice.  I don’t know that i enjoyed it more than the Smithwick’s, thought it was certainly a beer I’d drink again.  Also a red ale, but a bit thicker and stronger.

That same night, I partook in one of these.

 

At that point, though, I was deep enough “in my scoops” that I can’t recall whether or not I particularly liked it.

For an American drinker, used to a wide variety of beers, styles and flavors  locally, I think the range of beers I drank there was less diverse.  The folks at Guinness have taken a shot at making a lager-style beer, and this “Hop House 13” beer is also served all over town, from what I saw.

 

Lagers, to me, just aren’t interesting enough for me to want to drink them. This was a “one and done” beer for me.

The last beer from my tour was this one. I had this just once, on my last night in town. It was in fact the last beer I had in Ireland.

 

My punchy bartender friend, when I told him I was looking for something a bit more “beer flavored,” came out with this one.  This was the most IPA-style beer I had there and it was delicious.  Probably after the Guinness, it was the most memorable of the beers i had there.  I hope to find some of these in the states, but no luck as of yet.

I’d say, from the beer lover’s perspective, go to Dublin and drink a bunch of beers.  It’s a magical place, whether you get deep “in your scoops” or you’re just there “acting the maggot” (which means dicking around and not really trying very hard to drink correctly).

A Completely Uninformed Super Bowl Esque Rant About Bud Light Seltzer

Hard seltzer is a thing. Why is it a thing? It’s bubble water with a kick! I don’t understand. No no, don’t tell me. This isn’t that post, this is a rant. Don’t muddy it up with facts and reasoned arguments.

Bud Light is making seltzer now? I could make the joke that Bud Light is basically lightly carbonated water, so it fits pretty well, but as I understand it this is only Bud Light for the sake of branding, and has no actual beer in it. So literally they’re just trying to bash you over the head with their marketing and advertising, capitalize on something that’s currently popular, and annoy the rest of us.

Yes, annoy the rest of us. There’s going to be literal minutes of advertisements from AB-InBev this coming Sunday, for the Super Bowl. We’re all going to become intimately aware of what Bud Light Seltzer has in store for us. It’s going to be painful. I see some retweeting into my timeline of something called PostyBar and PostyStore and I have no idea what that is and it sounds pretty dumb.

Can hard seltzer really taste any different than me pouring a shot of vodka into a seltzer can? What’s the point? And why not just have the vodka? Or a beer. Not Bud Light, a real beer. I actually tried to taste this for this post but neither of the places I went had singles of it, and no way am I buying a package of this nonsense. Surprised it doesn’t come in 40s to be honest.

Nasty marketing gimmick beverage. Maybe I’ll skip the Super Bowl anyway, who needs it? It conflicts with the kids bedtime anyway, and no one invited me to any parties. I do like to have some chips and pretzels, maybe some guacamole.  I bought a jar of ‘craft beer salsa’ that I’m excited to try. A beer would go good with those things, but not that Bud Light Seltzer nonsense. A nice crisp IPA, something with some bitterness. Or Nugget Nectar, which is of a similar style to the beer in the salsa, maybe it’ll pair nicely.

I am absolutely not looking forward to a summer of gigantic supermarket displays of boxes upon boxes of nasty Bud Light Seltzer blocking my view of the good stuff. 

This reminds me of that Last Week Tonight bit they did talking about how terrible Bud Light is. If you haven’t seen it, go look it up. 

Ceetar can be found on Twitter and Untappd where he’ll probably be active during the first half of the Super Bowl tweeting nonsense. You can also email him at beer@ceetar.com.

A Quick Look Inside My Fridge

Peeking at the on deck circle for Ceetar’s drinking lineup.

What’s in my fridge? I always have too much beer, so I keep the ‘extra’ beer in the basement fridge or just in the basement cabinet, anything I have up in the main fridge I intend to drink pretty soon, or have as an offering to my wife. So let’s take a quick look at what’s on tap for me.

A. Nugget Nectar, the seasonal offering from Troegs, is an amazing beer and something I look forward to every year. It’s rare for me to pound through a six-pack without deviating for variety’s sake, but this beer is often an exception.

B. Spotted Dog is a cream ale from Alementary presumably in the vein of Spotted Cow from New Glarus an in honor of their brew dog Marjie. I had one on tap the other day and found it deliciously drinkable, light and easy, with plenty of flavor. 

C. Super Eight by Dogfish Head I’ve talked about here before, and this is one remaining can that somehow snuck through from August. Fruity, slightly tart and quite yummy. Super fruits! Can’t go wrong.

D. Rum soaked raisins I meant to serve with the Coquito at Christmas and didn’t. I should probably just throw them out?

E. New Holland Dragon’s Milk. I bought a 4-pack of this tasty bourbon barrel aged stout to pair with a New Holland bourbon from the same barrels, as I thought it’d be an interesting experiment. Somehow I haven’t yet found the time to imbibe both bourbon and high ABV stout at the same time for uh, science.

F. Apfelwein. A fermented apple beverage from Germany, in a can! I’ve made this before, and it’s delicious, so I was curious what a canned variety would taste like.  It’s not quite hard cider, but not quite sparkling apple juice, but somewhere in that family.

G. Bell’s Hopslam is an amazing beer and it speaks to how far craft beer is come that you can just grab six packs of this off the shelf now, whereas even a few years ago you had to basically camp out for one bottle.

H. Nitro Pumpkin Spice Latte is something I bought for my wife. This one’s from Breckenridge. She had one and said it wasn’t really anything special and it seems she hasn’t been drawn to have another. 

I. Why do I have jarred tomato sauce? *hands in Italian-American card* I think this was a last minute ‘oh crap, we have no food. Frozen ravioli and sauce it is.’

J. Recess is a CBP infused juice beverage thing. It tastes good, but I don’t think the CBP does anything beyond that.

K. Cayman Jack Margarita. Another wife product, and margaritas are yummy.

L. Duchesse De Bourgogne cherry chocolate. One of the first sour beers I ever had, way back in 2007, this time in cherry and chocolate, which are great flavors too. Was one of my christmas presents and I’m happily enjoying them. A reflection on that first beer fest might be an interesting post. 

M. Las Colombia Coffee Vanilla Draft Latte. Was a present my wife got, one of us will get to this as an afternoon/early evening pick me up one of these days.

N. Left Hand Chai Milk Stout, Nitro. I have no idea. I thought my wife would like this but she hasn’t touched it. I think that’s too many flavors for me, but there is a delicious brown ale with some chai tea in it that’s pretty darn awesome on a not-pictured shelf, so maybe I should try this too. 

So, what’s in your fridge?

Ceetar can be found on Twitter and Untappd where he’s already consumed three of the beers in this picture. You can also email him at beer@ceetar.com.

Brewery Review: Freight Yard Brewing, Clay, NY

I’m really the type of person to listen and pay attention to the signs out there.  Not street signs, although I pay attention to those too, best as I’m able.

I mean an omen.  A signal, telling me that I should go do something or go someplace.  This is the beer drinkers’ equivalent of Harry Potter drinking the liquid luck and then going to Hagrid’s.  You just have to go where you think you need to go and trust your instincts.

So, when you’re driving around your town, and you see a big fancy new sign on a building, on a stretch of road that is largely otherwise unoccupied, well, that’s a sign right there.

Especially a sign like this baby.

Blockin out the scenery breakin my mind

 

Turns out, as per their web site, this place has been making brews since 2016. Now there’s no way I missed a sign going up four years ago, 15 minutes from my house. No sir! Turns out, the tasting room just opened in the fall.

I finally made my way to this place the other night.  They’re only open on Fridays-Sundays, for now, so it’s a bit tougher to work that into my schedule, but when you get that sign, you follow it!

The building that houses this tasting room, as per a very personable bartender named Joe, has been many different things, as it sits near a train crossing or some other notable junction.  In any event, they’ve got some inventive decor and a real comfortable feel.

Not actually bouncy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s move on from the assfeel of those stools to talk about the merch that matters, the brewskis.

While their web site details quite a number of enticing sounding drinks, they had just four of their own beers on tap the night I was there.  The bartender apologized that he didn’t have any of their wheat beers or other varieties to offer me.  I started instead with their signature beer, the Hitch IPA.

This beer, ITBMCBB*, is best described as a “traditional IPA, hop forward, unfiltered.” I found it to be refreshing and hoppy. It’s a 7.2% IPA, which is a happy place for me to get my blur on.

Any local place should be putting their own best IPA forward as the first beer to start with, and the Hitch IPA gets the job done.  This was despite the misgivings of my adjacent stool mate, who after a sample asked if they had “any beers that tasted like beer.”  He was offered a Kolsch which I think he preferred (I thought less of him for saying so).

I moved from the IPA next to their brown ale. As per the bartender, the brewer was attempting to make her own take on a Newcastle. Now, why someone would want to do that is beyond me. Newcastle is some thin, watery slop.  This self described “English style” brown ale, the “Loucastle,” was far more enjoyable. I think, after the fine Brooklyn Brewery Brown Ale, this is probably my second favorite of this type that I’ve enjoyed personally.

This place has much to offer. First, don’t underestimate the value of a friendly and engaging bartender. This guy was on his own impetus offering me samples of the guest taps he enjoyed the most, just as one beer enthusiast sharing his joys with customers. That’s a first for me.

Another thing is that their menu included eight beers from other local craft breweries, including both a couple of known favorites of mine from Buried Acorn as well as some others I had not tried prior.  This is a very welcoming and open brewing community and the best places all seem to enjoy serving each others’ beers.

They also have some complimentary snacks for the drinking set – always a nice perk.  As Ceetar would tell you, a hard crunchy pretzel is the perfect compliment to a cold hoppy beer.

All in all, the Freight Yard Brewery is a choice spot and I’ll be headed back there soon.  I’m looking forward to their soon to be expanded hours (hopefully, later in 2020, to include Wednesdays and Thursdays), and to perhaps plan a running route nearby so that I can add this as a Run, Relax & Refresh spot to add to my list.

So if you’re in the vicinity of Clay, New York, do stop in and check this place out, and better yet, call or text me first and I will meet you there for a brown ale and an IPA.

 

 

The Darkest Beer Holiday

It’s time again for the winter solstice and time again to drink the darkest beer for the darkest days.

Let’s make this one a tribute to Brooklyn Brewery’s Black Chocolate Stout. A true classic. A delicious no-nonsense Russian Imperial Stout. There’s nothing added to this beer, no gimmicks, no pastries, no lactose. It’s a 10% darker than night, true pleasure of the winter season, beer.

It also ages fantastically. I’m on record as enjoying high alcohol beers more a year out than fresh. I’m not opposed to drinking a Black Chocolate Stout fresh, but I typically buy some and start drinking ones from last year, or even older than that. I had a 2018 this week, and it was just terrific. The alcohol burn you’d get fresh had mellowed into a roasty, bitter chocolate deliciousness. I actually did a three year vertical of this beer a few years back, which was a lot of fun. I still have one of those in my cellar, which is five years old now. I think I’ll open that one this season too.

Don’t fret though, I have plenty of other darkest beers to drink this season. I think I might celebrate the solstice with the Collective Arts beer on the header image, Origin Of Darkness. The store had a few variations of it, but I couldn’t resist the one with chocolate and pistachio cannoli. Dragon’s Milk is also a delicious one, and the heaviest of all of these. Arecibo by Alementary is more of a sweet stout, with the lactose and the coconut. It’s a beautiful pairing of flavors. That’s a good one to open while backing cookies.

Enjoy the Winter Solstice, beer’s newest drinking holiday. 

Ceetar can be found on Twitter and Untappd where he’s racking up the dark beers. You can also email him at beer@ceetar.com.

Ode To Overflow

An overflowed beer glass can be a beautiful thing
It may happen when you toast mugs with the king
The foam cascades down
But there’s no need to frown

Don’t fret the bad pour
We can always brew more
Enjoy the fluffy head
Even on an Irish red

The cascading foam
Makes me feel far from home
Like in a beer festival hall
Where I’m tasting them all

It may make a mess
All over your dress
But when does a night full of win
Ever end with clean linen?

So play cheers with your buds
Let’s drink down those suds
And always remember
To tip your bartender.

Ceetar can be found on Twitter and Untappd where he’s rarely poetic. You can also email him at beer@ceetar.com.

Reports from the Wild: Ellicottville Brewing Company Super Duper Jelly Strawberry Cream Ale

I’m happy to bring you another updater from our intrepid gal on the mean streets of Buffalo, the indefatigable Breezer Marieezer (follow her on Instagram here!), sampling the Ellicottville Brewing Company’s very verbosely named “Super Duper Jelly Strawberry Cream Ale” beer and giving us her thoughts on it.   Cheers, Bree!

Inaugural Barley Prose Beersport: Oktoberfest Edition

The name of the game is Beersport – two beers enter, one beer leaves. Beersport.

The return of Beersport! Made famous by J.R. Shirt on BeerGraphs and on the Drinking With Shirt Podcast. Feel free to badger Shirt to reprise either here. This classic beer competition returns with a classic Oktoberfest battle between Von Trapp Oktoberfest and Alementary Oktoberfest. Vermont vs. New Jersey. Go. 

Oktoberfest season is tailing off as October comes to an end, but I assure you these beers are still tasty well into November, and further!

Preconceived Notions:
I’ve had both these of these beers a fair amount. I like them both. The style is not super broad that I can easily say much about them cold, so it’ll still be a good head to head battle. I’m a member of Alementary’s Order of the Atom, which maybe gives this an unconscious bias, but you’re just going to have to live with that. 

Appearance
The Von Trapp had better head retention, otherwise they’re both pretty similar bronze colors typical of an Oktoberfest. The packaging is both appropriately Bavarian blue with the brewery logo. Both in 12oz cans. 

Winner: Von Trapp

Aroma
The Von Trapp has a sweet malt smell with a lot of light biscuity caramel notes. Reminds me some of some dark cherry smells. 

The Alementary has a much stronger smell, and a much richer one. Almost like a fresh loaf of bread with butter wafting into your nose. 

Winner: Alementary

Taste 
It’s a fairly gentle sweetness with the Von Trapp, but with some bitterness/astringency. The malt is not dominating as much as I would like, with some drying taste on my mouth from the hops. Though the malt builds with each sip which is nice, it sort of rounds out into form. 

Alementary’s taste is rich too, with a nice complex malt flavor. It’s sweeter and maltier. A nice sweet glaze on a good loaf of bread. This beer has a vibrant taste and rich malt flavor, but not overbearingly so. There’s a sense of fullness that then fades into a gentle almost honey aftertaste.

Winner: Alementary

Mouthfeel
Von trapp tastes a little airier, a little more carbonated, and a little less full bodied.

Alementary is almost sticky, and hits more tastebuds, is a more fullfilling experience.

Winner: Alementary

Overall 
I like both beers. They both make me happy. The Von Trapp is a little simpler, maybe a little easier to drink in volume, but the Alementary is a more complete beverage and is really wonderful. 

Beersport Winner: Alementary

Alementary takes down the inaugural BarleyProse Beersport. Great beer, check it out.

Ceetar can be found on Twitter and Untappd where he’s pondering starting a Barley Prose podcast. You can also email him at beer@ceetar.com.