Brasserie Dieu Du Ciel Aphrodite

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Picked this one up on a recent trip to Redstone Liquors. Kamal suggested it and as long as it's not something too far out there I usually take him up on his recommendations. Wanted to try something a little different tonight, so figured I'd give it a try. It's billed as a "stout brewed with real cocoa and vanilla beans."

Pours a dark brown with a light head. Very little light gets through this stuff. It gives off a sweet smell with hints of vanilla and toffee. It's a really interesting smelling beer. I let about a third of it warm to room temperature and I swear I smell gingerbread in there now. 

The first sip is what you'd expect. Very full flavors with vanilla and dark chocolate coming through. I actually tasted burned marshmallow on one of my tastes (maybe a bitter chocolate?). It finishes really smooth with no alcohol or off flavors. Sometimes I get an unpleasant finish from big stouts, but nothing like that from this one. I really enjoyed this beer. 

Vital stats: Served at 45F from an 11.5oz bottle. 6.5% ABV. Unfiltered. 
Taste: A-
Drinkability: B+

Bear Republic Hop Rod Rye

Vitals:

8.0%ABV
18% Rye
Non-filtered ale

I love this beer. I love their Racer 5 so thought I’d give it a chance when I saw it on the beer menu at Harry’s in Allston I thought I’d try it out.

The initial nose is really grape-y (more like cough medicine than an actual grape.)

Had a really deep caramel taste. I really enjoyed this, but definitely had to switch to something a little lighter. I’d definitely drink it again though!

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Location Highlight: Atlanta

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Last weekend I went down to Atlanta to visit my girlfriend, and besides going to the aquarium(great) and the World of Coke (don’t bother), she was nice enough to indulge my beer geekery and allowed me to go to a few beer spots. First was Sweetwater Brewery, which opened in 1997 and has grown to be one of the largest craft beer producers in the southeast putting out about 75,000 barrels a year with plans to grow to over 100,000. Sweetwater opens its doors four days a week to the public (Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday from 5:30-7, and Saturday from 2:30-4:30). For $8 you get a logo pint glass to keep along with six drink tickets, with each pour being anywhere from 1/2 to 3/4 of a pint depending on the server. When we went they had seven beers on tap; most beers are one ticket but the higher alcohol beers required two. The tasting room was packed! They have both indoor standing room and an outside area where you can also have your glasses filled. I sampled five beers when, the IPA, 420 Pale Ale, Georgia Brown (an english brown), Sch’wheat (american pale wheat), and the Happy Ending Imperial Stout (2 tickets). I passed on their Blue (blueberry) and the Exodus Porter. All five beers were solid with the IPA and Imperial Stout being my favorites. They also have tours running every 20-30 minutes or so.

Just outside of Atlanta, in Decatur, is the Brick Store Pub. Recently, Beer Advocate named it the #2 Place to Have a Pint in the world. We went here on Sunday afternoon after brunch when the pub was relatively slow (probably a good thing). It is deceptively big, a little narrow, but long with a really cool Belgian bar upstairs. They have an extensive tap list and an extremely long bottle list as well as a specialty bottle/cellar list. The downstairs bar has around 15-20 beers on tap while the Belgian bar has 8. Our server was extremely knowledgeable and helped me make choices since everything looked appealing. I ended up trying three beers based on what I can get at home, the first was Jolly Pumpkins Maracaibo Especial, a belgian strong dark ale that had a really nice sour component to it as well. I followed that up with the Terrapin Rye Squared, a double IPA, and ended with a Belgian selection, the De Dolle Dulle Teve (photo below), a tripel. We also ordered some hot pretzels, which went really well with the beer. Overall, the place has a really nice vibe and is a cool place to grab a few drinks.

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Southern Tier Iniquity Imperial Black Ale

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A few weeks back I was fortunate to attend a beer pairing dinner at Summer Winter restaurant in Burlington, MA featuring three selections by Southern Tier.  Tonight’s beer, their Iniquity Imperial Black Ale was paired with the main course, a fantastic smoked “voodoo” duck (see the full menu below).  One of Southern Tier’s reps was in attendance to introduce each beer, and answer questions at the end of the dinner.  This was a great night, and well worth the price of admission.  Great beers, and the food paired with it was equally delicious.  I’d never heard of a “beer pairings” dinner, but it goes to show how complex some of the craft brews now available can be.  Having the Southern Tier rep there was a nice added bonus.

So on to the beer at hand.  This one, in my view, was the star of the night, and sampling the bottle I brought home from the tasting tonight proves it was no fluke.  It pours a thick, dark color which at first appeared to be a dark dark brown, but on holding it up to the light, what little passes through appears red.  A nice, creamy head on top which laces nicely on the glass as it recedes.  Lots of notes battling for your nose’s attention on this one including bready malts, coffee, herbs, chocolate, licorice, caramel/toffee, and finally citrus…wow!  A very complex nose on this one, and I spent a good 5 minutes just trying to pick out as many as I could.  I probably even missed a few.

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As you’d expect when you watch it pour, the taste on this beer is big.  Medium to full mouth feel, and a bit surprisingly, medium carbonation.  The primary flavors which come through are licorice, coffee, pine, roasted malts and herbs.  The finish has a hint of bitterness and alcohol warmth, but watch out…it checks in at 9.0% ABV.  This is a wonderfully complex and full bodied craft beer.  Drinkability suffers a bit not from the alcohol content, but rather from all of the flavors competing for your attention.  This is one to savor and enjoy.  

Taste:  A
Drinkability:  B+
Vitals:  Poured from a Bomber at 42F at 9.0% ABV

DVD Review: Beer Wars

I consider myself a beer geek. When I heard about this movie [Beer Wars on Amazon] I bought it immediately hoping that it would give me some behind the scenes looks at some of the small guys with some information on regulation and the changing taste preferences for craft beers. 

I loved the first hour (of 90 min total) of this movie. It gave some great background on Sam Calagione, founder of Dogfish Head, and of the startup brewery Moonshot Beer (which I had never heard of despite in its city of origin). During this time of the movie it really builds upon some of the hard-working entrepreneurial spirit of some of the small beer founders and shows some of the challenges of the industry. There are a few moments when Anit states facts that have you raising eyebrows but for the most part it makes you want to never buy Budweiser, Miller, or Coors products again (78% of the market). …then it turned into a Michael Moore movie. 

The last third of this movie was horrible, and undid all the anti-Budweiser sentiment the first part of the movie established. By the end we were rolling our eyes and chalking the industry up to good ol’ fashion capitalism. Sure, the legislation behind the 3-tier system (Brewers, Distributors, Stores) needs some reform but who can blame Budweiser for looking out for their own profits? 

Takeaways: 
1) Previously I thought Dogfish Head as a great brewery but thought Sam Calagione was a reincarnation of Bill & Ted. I now have absolutely nothing but respect for him and his passion. I’m certainly going to go out of my way to support DFH when I can and he’s always welcome at my bar. 
2) Moonshot is bound to fail. With 16 well-written reviews on BA it has an “F” rating – the first of its type that I’ve ever seen on the site in my 7+ years as a member.
3) The three-tier system needs reform but the public will need to get involved to make such reform happen as only the Big Three brewers (now two) have the resources to afford lobbyists in their favor. (I’ll just continue to vote with my dollars.) 

Overall, I wouldn’t pay $20 to see this again. NetFlix it or borrow it from a friend. While I love supporting the craft beer industry this movie fell short on delivering. If you’re looking for a good beer movie, check out Modern Marvel’s “Brewing” or the Brew Masters TV series (both available on Amazon). 

Beerwars