It's the time of year to drink good beer.

Our mission at The BeerFathers is to teach you to stop worrying and love the beer. Our secondary mission is to drink a lot of beer. Our tertiary mission is to give you ratings on those beers - objective, unbiased, opinionated, prejudiced ratings based on what we find good about beer. Take it with a grain of salt or preferably one of those big beer pretzels they sell in Munich. Those things are great.

And recently from the Beer Blog...

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Boulevard Unfiltered Wheat Beer

By John & Dad on March 6, 2008 (4 Comments)

The latest Thursday night phone review between Father and Son Beer Love features the Boulevard Unfiltered Wheat Beer from Boulevard Brewing Co. in Kansas City, Mo. This one is bottle conditioned in a 12 oz bottle with a 4.5% ABV. It should be noted that we had gone over the expiration date on this when we reviewed, which Father Beer Love feels certain affected our rating. He remembers drinking this one in Missouri and promised me it was much better than this.

We served it up in a Weizen glass where it produced a huge 3 inch rocky white head. The head laced a fair amount and dissipated quite slowly. Not a bad start. The golden yellow body had the typical wheat haziness that you look for – translucent in appearance with a soft carbonation.

The aromas included biscuit, cereal (grape nuts), wheat, light honey, yeast, citrus and lemon. The smell was quite strong but the taste was only lightly sweet and slightly tart. No new flavors came through we didn’t pick up in the aroma – as a matter of fact fewer tastes came through in the flavor than in the smell. The aromas tended to bait us into thinking it might be something better than it was. The finish was short with a light bitter and light tart. The mouthfeel was somewhat watery.

Overall it had a mild hop bitterness to it and the taste just wasn’t nearly as complex as it could have been. Was it refreshing? Yes. Could we drink another? Yes (especially if the heat index is in triple digits). Overall though it’s not memorable and didn’t have that wow factor we look for in a good beer. It’s not nearly as good as a hefe and is somewhat unremarkable. There’s a lot of other good options to pick up before this one.

Boulevard Unfiltered Wheat Beer Rating: 3 out of 10 (?)

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Cheers to Craft Beers!

By John on March 4, 2008 (3 Comments)

This article over at STLtoday announces that craft beer sales are up 12% last year. Money quote:

“Sales by independent craft brewers grew 12 percent by volume and 16 percent in dollars last year, according to the Brewers Association”

It also mentions that since 2004 craft brew dollar sales have grown 58%, and that craft brews are now 5.9% of all retail sales in the U.S.

Point is, we’re getting there folks. Keep buying the good stuff and enjoying it for the treat it is. Make every craft beer session a memorable event – relax, sit down and enjoy it in silence or with the company of friends. Pull the flavors out, note the aromas, look at it in the glass, study it, make sweet sweet love to it. You get the idea.

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Unibroue Don de Dieu

By John on March 3, 2008 (No Comments)

This one is brewed by Unibroue in Quebec, and you know to expect good things from Unibroue.

Great story behind it – it’s named after Samuel de Champlain’s (the founder of Quebec) boat – The Don de Dieu. Quebec came to be known as the land of the “somewhat of a great people” and the Don di Dieu is regarded as “somewhat of a great beer.” (Full story here from Unibroue’s site).

Don de Dieu, the beer, is a triple wheat ale (Belgian strong pale ale), refermented in the bottle on a yeast base (an “ale on lees” – referring to the yeast sediment). I got a 12 oz bottle sporting a 9% ABV.

I started with a golden pour with a decent 3/4″ fluffy white head that dissipated rather quickly. The smell is delicious – citrus, banana, yeast and pear – some great wheat beer aromas. It smells a lot like a good white wine, but not quite as potent – more subdued.

The taste featured some spices and a mixture of other flavors like sherry, wine, honey, molasses and some florals. The mouthfeel is strong and a little thick, very nice. The overall dominant flavor is lemon – it’s a bit like a hefe but with a bit more complexity. The aftertaste is smooth and refreshing – more fruits and a little hop sharpness.

Overall I’d compare it favorably with a Duvel. Well done and another great Unibroue brew.

Unibroue Don de Dieu Rating: 7 out of 10 (?)

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Moosbacher Weissbier

By John & Dad on March 2, 2008 (No Comments)

Note: The Moosbacher Weissbier was reviewed by both John and Dad on different days and originally posted as two separate reviews. We usually do our combined reviews together in one post, so this post has been edited to bring you both reviews on one post.

Father Beer Love Review (March 2, 2008):

Let me start out by saying I love me some Weissbier. I bought this in Lees Summit in October last year and kept it in my stash not cellared for 5 months before I cooled it. A cellar in La. would be a pool under your house. The price tag on the bottle had a code on top of 08070216 which tells me that is was put on the shelf on Aug.2 2007 (39 years of retail taught me something). It was at least 6 months old not counting the transportation time. The label said to store it below 50 F. which wasn’t done in the store either. I’m kind of like Scrooge McDuck in like I like to store things and just have them, I can’t swim in them like he does with his money. This does not work with beer in general and as I have found out wheats in particular.

I’ll go ahead since I filled out the form and feel like must do something to account for my time. These 2 months off have really changed me (when’s Scrubs, Dr. Phil and Oprah on?) .

Beer temp. 46.7F-8.3C it poured a clear gold with a large 2 in. white head. On the 2nd pour [since I had a .5L bottle and a 12 oz. pils. glass] it became muddy, should have agitated it first. The head was fizzy and dissipated quickly with virtually no lacing. Aromas were biscuit, honey, grain, grapefruit, grass, soap and banana. Initial taste was light sweet and tart. The taste were grapefruit, lemon and something I couldn’t place but it wasn’t a good one, maybe it was the soap [it’s been a long tame since mom put soap in my mouth for bad words and have bee trying to forget the taste ever since]. I look for balance and harmony of the elements but how can you balance and harmonize BAD? I poured out the last and kept the bottle which looks like the .5L Grolsch fancy bottle you see in the cooler with the wire and the ceramic stopper. I feel that this is probably a much better beer and most of the fault was mine but I can only report what I tasted. Since we usually only give zeros to beers we pour out I gave it a giant bonus point for the bottle.

Son Beer Love Review (March 5, 2008):

This one was an intriguing beer. I actually drank and rated mine before dad did his, he just posted his to the site first. It was interesting to note some of the similarities from his review and somewhat assuring that I was able to pull out some of the same things and that my palate wasn’t just off.

First things first – it’s got a great Grolsch style bottle with the built-in flip-top. I love that. I also like the name Moosbacher. That concludes the list of things I really like.

It’s brewed by Private Landbrauerei Scheuerer over in Germany and the 500 mL bottle’s contents are settled at 5% ABV. I served it up in a pint glass. Unlike Dad, I’ve kept this refrigerated the whole time I stored it, so my review is quite a bit different from his.

The pour was impressive – a huge 3 inch head, slightly off-white and a bit frothy looking dissipated slowly, though it left no lacing. Lot of bubbles in the head were a result of the fizzy carbonation and a sparkling body golden yellow in color.

The smells were citrus, wheat, yeast, herb, slight lemon, grass and bubble gum. Something is off in the aroma though I can’t place my finger on it at first – it’s soap.

The taste is hoppy and somewhat soapy, though it gets a bit better as it warms and finally gets a slight banana edge to it. It’s not a great balance at all. Initial flavor was moderately bitter, which stayed the same throughout the finish. There is some lacing on the glass as you drink it. The aftertaste is flat though and doesn’t last long. The mouthfeel is a bit dry and though it’s drinkable (my list of beers that aren’t drinkable is a short one), I wouldn’t want another one.

This is not a top hefe – it’s unbalanced and flat. It makes me wonder if the beer is off? Either way it’s not a great example of the style. I wouldn’t do it again with all the other great hefes on the market today.

Moosbacher Weissbier Rating: 1 out of 10 (?)

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Outrage

By Dad on February 29, 2008 (No Comments)

This is in response to John’s blog about the new beer taps coming to the U.K.

If they start in the U.K. and it spreads across Europe what’s next? The Nat and the Beast? I’ll be forced to go to the land of my ancestors (if the dollar gets stronger against the euro) and defend against the onslaught (Finland and Sweden you’re pretty much on your own). We Bavarians must resist and if we make a last stand let it be at die Theresienwiese where I’ll be with my sense of rage, a bier pretzel, a bratwurst and maybe a hendl. If they want my 1 Liter dimpled mug they can damn well pry it from my COLD DEAD FIST.

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Yay! Oh, Wait!

By John on February 28, 2008 (No Comments)

The Good News: There will be 40,000 new beer taps installed at pubs and restaurants in the United Kingdom this year!

The Bad News: They will all be dispensing Coors Light.

See the full story at the Denver Post.

What do you think, is this our way of punishing the UK for The Beatles still holding out from getting their music on iTunes?

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That Brewery In The Sky

By Dad on February 27, 2008 (No Comments)

As you ponder this rant keep in mind the song “Spirit in the Sky”.

A while back I posed the question to John, if you knew it was your time to go to that that “Great Brewery In The Sky” what would be your choice of a last beer? This was some time back and we have tried quite a few more beers but of the reviewed beers we have written up my choice would be Trappistes Rochefort 10. My alternate choice if it was a really hot day would be Ayinger Brau Weisse. I would like either out of a REALLY BIG bottle (at least 750 ml or bigger) and then to be run over by a beer truck carrying really good beer. Wouldn’t that be ironic?

What are your thoughts?

By the way what’s the difference between the “Brewery In The Sky” and the one down below (Hell)? The tap room.

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Vacation Notes

By Dad on February 12, 2008 (1 Comment)

The lovely Mrs. Beer Love and I went to see the Missouri clan – mom and brother Beer Love and Maggie the wonder dog last October. In the local grocery store I found area-brewed Boulevard brand wheat beer and Fat Tire Amber Ale and got a six of each. In the county seat I found in a drug store the Boulevard Bully Porter and grabbed another six. Far and away my best find was Gomer’s in Lee’s Summit with a 12 door cooler with 7-8 doors devoted to craft and import beer and an eight foot run of room temp, imports in single and multi packs. I was blown away but grabbed about $20 worth of singles and vowed to come back before we left.

On our last day there I donned my “Octoberfest 06” shirt and headed out in a blinding rainstorm (I ain’t afraid of no stinkin’ rain, tornadoes, however, have me cowering in the basement and shivering like a scared puppy). With my list of what I already had (to make sure I had at least two of each – one for me and one for Son Beer Love), I walked away with another $60 worth of beer. Before I left I got to see a $99 bottle of import that was either a Jeroboam 5L or a Methuselah size. Now there’s a PARTY. That evening as we loaded the car for our trip home the Lovely Mrs. Beer Love said there wasn’t enough room in the trunk for the luggage.

There are two lessons to be learned from this trip. One, as you travel be on the lookout for new craft beers and imports (the lovely Mrs. Beer Love and I can hardly pass a beer or shoe store). Two, if you have to stuff dirty cloths in cases and 6 packs to make room in the trunk, make sure you check thoroughly when you get home to avoid finding them a couple of months later, or just get a trailer.

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Christmas Spirit

By Dad on February 7, 2008 (No Comments)

I keep two types of beer in my home in two different locations. One, Beer Of The Month Club selections (thanks son), other beers new to me waiting for review and beers I like and am holding in the dining room with the wine I’ll just call the good stuff. Two, the beer I can afford, (still looking for a corporate sponsor) I’ll call SWILL in the laundry room. I don’t know why this is, but it just is the way it is.

Two years ago (2006) our entire Christmas decoration was one rosemary plant in the shape of a small Christmas tree with tiny decorations outdoors, those things really smell. The lovely Mrs. Beer Love wasn’t going to let that happen again so after Thanksgiving this past year we got down all the Christmas decorations from the attic and piled them in the dining room. That night I went to get a good beer from my stash to put it in the ice box and found that I couldn’t get to them because of the triple mound of decorations piled in front of them. Why didn’t you just move them and get your beer? I’ll just say that the triple deep stack arranged by the lovely Mrs. Beer Love seemed less than random and the special “look” that came my way. Any man married for very long knows that “look.”

Talk about having the Christmas spirit FLUNG on you. Within 24 hours the tree was up, 48 hours the lights were on and 72 hours enough decorations were on it to whittle the pile down enough to reach through to get a good one. That was a record for me since the Beer Love kids left home.

The moral is if you don’t want to have the spirit FLUNG on you this way find another spot to hide the GOOD stuff.

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Beer Clams

By John on February 6, 2008 (No Comments)

AB is back at it again in their beer labs, twisting their mustaches and infusing beer with new and exciting non-beer things. This time it’s Clamato – a mixture of tomato juice concentrate and reconstituted dried clam broth – and though it sounds a bit off I’ve read it’s a very popular cocktail mixer.

They’re mixing it in with regular Budweiser to create Budweiser & Clamato Chelada and Bud Lite to create Bud Light & Clamato Chelada and they’re rolling it out in California and Texas after some successful trial runs in other states. This is a very big deal for the Latino market as culturally they have been mixing Clamato and beer for a long time. These new concoctions will be available in 24 oz and 16 oz cans. The full story is available at Yahoo Finance News.

I’ve personally never mixed beer and tomato juice, but I know Father Beer Love has been known to do it on occasion. I guess I feel like a beer shouldn’t have to have anything else in it to enjoy it (you know my “don’t fruit the beer” stance). What’s your take on this? Great idea, good change of pace, or just not your thing?

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Weihenstephaner Hefe Weissbier

By John & Dad on February 6, 2008 (1 Comment)

In our ongoing Thursday night beer reviews via the land line, we came to a real champion that’s very hard to say and spell, especially after you’ve lapped up the entire bottle like you were in the desert and had just found an oasis of beer. So here goes:

The Weihenstephaner Hefe Weissbier is brewed at the Bayerische Staatsbrauerei Weihenstephan in Freising, Oberbayern, Germany. It is said to be the oldest brewery in the world, around since 1040. You have to respect that.

An aggressive pour into a tall 22 ounce pint glass (very similar to a Weizen glass) generated a huge, 3 inch frothy white head that looks like a puffy cumulus cloud. Top notch! The head lasts quite a while, slowly dissipating. The body is a hazy cloudy light yellow to medium gold color. It’s relatively thin with tiny particles and mild carbonation. It looks fantastic sitting in the glass.

The aroma is your usual hefe, with some twists: Lemon? Check. Banana? Check. Pepper? Not in this one. Pleasant surprise aromas – a light yeast-doughy bread smell and a slight bubble gum smell, similar to Joe Blow.

The taste is strong on lemon and banana, mild on the bubble gum and mild on those biscuity malts. The initial flavor is a light sweetness that makes you want to not even put it down before you get your second taste. The finish continues to be lightly sweet with a slight sourness. This tiny bitterness really works and the finish lasts a while, but not from the mild hops that are present in the aftertaste. The peppery smell missing from the aroma returns in the finish and surprises you a bit. The mouthfeel is shockingly dry and the complexity increases as you drink it. It’s a gradual wow that really surprises you for a hefe.

It’s ultimately very refreshing and thirst quenching. A good alcohol balance at 5.4% ABV in a 16.9 ounce bottle. Of course we have an ongoing fascination with hefeweizens here at The BeerFathers, and this may be the best weissbier we’ve had. At the price – $2.89 for the bottle, it’s tough to beat. Extremely repeatable and very easy to drink, if you can find it, get it and some of it’s brothers so it doesn’t get lonely.

Weihenstephaner Hefe Weissbier Rating: 8 out of 10 (?)

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Abita Golden Lager

By Dad on February 6, 2008 (No Comments)

Beer temp. 42.8F – 6.8C, ABV 5.25%. Initial pour gave a 2 inch fizzy white head and a yellow body. The head dissipated slowly with virtually no lacing. Malt aroma was cereal and honey, hops had a citrus aroma and misc. aroma was of vegetables, mainly corn. The initial flavor was a light sweetness and light bitterness. The finish flavor was light sweet, light bitter and a light tartness with maybe a touch of lemon. There was no head lacing and the mouthfeel was dry with no body lacing. I found it repeatable and drinkable but not memorable.

Nothing terribly remarkable about it. I must admit I’m a little prejudiced as it’s brewed in LA. So I probably gave it a bonus point or two it may not deserve.

Son Beer Love wanted to offer some food pairings and I must admit I’m no gourmet – in the words of the late Great Grandma Beer Love “I like food I don’t care what you call it,” I’ll offer this: Outdoors on a 90 degree day with a bucket full of this beer on ice, a shrimp po boy with remoulade and a big bag of Zapp’s cajun crawtator chips and for beserk a tiny piece of praline cheesecake.

“Laissez Les Bon Temps Roulez “.

Abita Golden Lager Rating: 5 out of 10 (?)

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Costco Entering Craft Brew Beer Battle

By John on January 31, 2008 (90 Comments)

There’s an article over at Advertising Age detailing an interesting development in the craft brew beer market – Costco, one of the top warehouse club stores (along with Sam’s Club and BJ’s), will start offering it’s own private label (Kirkland Signature) line of craft brews.

Kirkland Signature is Costco’s store brand (or private label brand for those in the industry). It’s their attempt at branding a line of their own discounted products to live somewhere in between the category of “generics” and “premiums” (think of the box of rice that’s just a white box with the word “RICE” on it and then think of Uncle Ben’s – the Kirkland brand is somewhere in the middle). The Kirkland name comes from the fact that their corporate headquarters used to be in Kirkland, Washington.

Their four initial offerings will be:

Gordon Biersch, the same company that brews private-label beers for Trader Joe’s, will do the brewing.

The main question asked is who will it affect most? The sub-premium mass market brands (i.e. Busch) or the more premium craft brands (i.e. Sam Adams). My gut tells me the premium craft brands may feel the pinch more because they run smaller batches and would tend to feel any shifts in consumer demand more than a large company like AB, who has the revenues to more easily absorb it and can create more of their own craft brews to help combat it.

Update: March 2011

We’ve officially reviewed all 4 beers and have added links to the beer names above. Overall – it’s an excellent value of a 24 pack. The total cost is around $18.99 or about 79 cents per bottle and there’s a six pack inside of each kind of beer. You won’t beat that price anywhere for the quality of beers you get. It’s also a really great way to get people trying new stuff.

Now for a little more background on the brewing:

The Kirkland beers are contract brewed by one of two different breweries that are somewhat obscured – East Coast beers come from New Yorker Brewing out of Utica, NY. You won’t find anything on the web about them, but some astute BeerFathers readers note that it’s actually done at the Sarnac Matt Brewing Company facility (also known as FX Matt Brewing Company).

For the West Coast beers those come from the Hopfen und Malz Company out of San Jose, CA. Again, you won’t find anything on the web about them, but it’s actually done at the Gordon Biersch Brewing Company (since Costco headquarters are on the West Coast, it makes sense they would have started with Gordon Biersch first and then expanded to an East Coast operation).

You won’t find the Kirkland beers on either of their sites and that’s the way Costco likes it, as evidenced by the fact that they used assumed names on their packaging (really taking it to the next level). That’s what contract packaging is all about (it’s not hard to tell now that Son Beer Love actually works in the packaging industry).

Many thanks to all our astute readers who were able to dig around and find what’s going on.

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New AB Offerings

By John on January 29, 2008 (No Comments)

It looks like Anheuser-Busch is continuing their focus on the craft beer drinkers market (that would be you and me) with a few new offerings (the full story from the STL Today is here):

  • Wild Blue – an 8% ABV blueberry lager. This has been sold in Michigan, Wisconsin and Illinois and is coming to St. Louis soon. (Note: I hope they don’t make it sickly sweet – fruiting the beer is an art form that very few have gotten right. “Subtle” should be a word they keep on their minds when brewing this).
  • Red Rolling Rock – a label application has been submitted for a red lager version of Rolling Rock, which uses toasted caramel malts.
  • Sun Dog Amber Wheat Ale – a label application has also been submitted for this limited edition seasonal, featuring a slightly citrus hop aroma and caramel malty taste.

The BeerFathers ask, what’s your take on craft beers made by these mass market beer companies? A nice expansion or are they trying to be something they’re not?

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Ask The BeerFathers: Why Are There No 10 Out of 10 Ratings?

By John on January 28, 2008 (No Comments)

A reader writes:

Q. I’m a bit surprised that you don’t have any 10 out 10 ratings. What gives?

A. You’re not the first to notice. We are being quite stingy with our ratings, at least initially. Why? Here’s our logic: how can you truly rate something as the top beer if you don’t have a healthy sample to rate it against?

To put it to an extreme, if the only beer you’ve tried is a Bud Lite and then all of a sudden you get, say, a Michelob Amber Bock, you might think that’s the best beer in the world. We didn’t want that sort of bias in our “tests” so we collectively vowed there would be no 10s until we’ve tried at least 100 beers. A 10 rating means it’s the best beer, nothing could be better, and that’s a tall order. Try any beer and ask yourself “Could there possibly be anything better?” A 10 would need to come as close to “no” as you can possibly come.

Who knows, we may have already tried a 10, but we’ll hold judgment until we have a strong enough sample size to substantiate the claim. If after 100 we feel that one of the previous ratings deserves the honor we’ll correct it and give it’s true rating. We don’t take these ratings lightly. After all, we’re The BeerFathers.

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