Beer is the new black.

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.

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Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA

By John & Dad on January 31, 2011 (2 Comments)

Time for another Father and Son beer review! This time we hit the infamous Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA – a beer that can be tough to find, unless you know people. Or live in a state the doesn’t have a law against selling beer above 15% ABV. Either way.

The Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA comes to us from the fine folks at Dogfish Head Craft Brewery up in Deleware. It was sent to us as a gift from one of the fine vendors Son Beer Love does business with in his day job. It’s got a completely unassuming front label – just a picture of a hop leaf, the name of the beer and a statement that it “Ages Well.” The last part remains to be seen as we’ve cellared a bottle to have in a decade or so. The back of the label reads “What you have here is the holy grail for hopheads. This beer is continuously hopped over a 120-minute boil and then dry-hopped every day for a month. Enjoy now or age for a decade or so.”

The ABV comes in at a hearty 18% and the IBUs come in at an impossible (literally) 120. It’s a 12 oz bottle of mouth wallop for sure. Though not noted on the bottle, we feel like our batch is likely from 2009.

We thought about live blogging this as we reviewed it, but at 18% we thought our review might go something like this:

First sip: Sweet edge, strong alcohol presence.

Second sip: Nice notes of floral, caramel, etc.

Thir3d sip. Toff3e notez, aromza, sippy sip.

444444444444thhhf stepppp…… Glarfneck spoo.

After thinking through what a 12 oz bottle of 18% ABV beer might do to us we decided that splitting the bottle was the intellectual choice. Just so happened that Father Beer Love was in Charlotte visiting Son Beer Love (that’s a lie, he was in Charlotte visiting Granddaughter Beer Love).

For a little primer into the beer, check out this quick video of Sam Calagione talking about the Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA:

For our review we used a snifter glass which wound up being perfect for tight swirls and catching lots of aromas. Also for feeling all fancy like. We got a starting beer temperature of 51.3 F. We used some sandwich thins and water to cleanse our palates in between sips.

Our initial pour yielded a small 1/4″ creamy off-white head that left a fair amount of lacing as it dissipated quickly. There was no discernible carbonation and the body clarity was a bit hazy. The color was a brilliant amber/orange.

For our aromas we grabbed caramel, toasted malts, citrus, grapefruit, grass, orange, pine, resin, yeast, alcohol, apricot, fresh ginger, dry sherry and some general spices. Of all the smells grapefruit comes out the strongest. It smells super hoppy and may literally have the biggest nose on a beer we’ve done or can recall. The strength of the smell is outrageous and is only further concentrated by our snifter glasses. We’re notoriously not hopheads, so we’re not sure we’re going to like what comes next.

What comes next is the taste. We hold our snifter glasses like we’re 14th century aristocrats and take a sip. Initial flavors are a heavy sweet and a light bitter. The finish flavors are a moderate sweet, moderate bitter, very light salty and a very light tart. Our heads turn sideways like a dog that has just seen you juggle. Where’s the mouth punch? The tongue burning? The taste buds dissolving? It’s not there.

What is there is caramel, honey, toasted malts, toffee, floral, grapefruit, pine, resin, apricot, brown sugar, butterscotch, fresh ginger, dry sherry, spices and a touch of vanilla. It’s quite the taste profile and it has a surprising amount of sweetness to it. It’s a great sweetness for two malt madmen like ourselves. Wow. The alcohol, also surprisingly, isn’t around in the taste.

The finish length is long, the mouthfeel is buttery and the tongue hit is in the front. There’s a fair amount of body lacing as we drink it down and on our patented malt to hop scale it comes in 1.5 clicks to the left of balanced on the malty side. It may be an Imperial IPA, but that malt backbone is so strong that it brings it to the malty side of balanced. You can’t possibly fathom how odd that is to us.

For our bottom line notes we got a yes to drinkable, balance, harmony, memorable, wow factor, value and buy again. Our only no was to repeatable, which most 18% ABV beers aren’t going to score well on.

By the end of the review our beer was up to 67.1 F and it tasted even better than it did when we started. This one passes the 60 degree test with flying colors. Start out around 55 degrees or so and you’ll be in good shape as you sip it throughout the evening.

The Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA just blew our minds, in a good way. It’s nothing like we expected. Well, the smell was, but the taste so wasn’t. The smell is completely dominated by hops and the taste is completely dominated by the malts. The hop shock is smell-based only. We wound up calling it “A Malt Lover’s IPA” and we think that is the perfect description of it. We struggled with whether or not it was a 10 and in the end we decided to settle on a 9. When we try the bottle we’re aging we may come back and change our minds.

Thanks to our friend Dave for sending us this treat. We look forward to more!

Also – for comparison – check out our review of the Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA.

Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA Rating: 9 out of 10 (?)

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Cottonwood Pumpkin Spiced Ale

By John & Dad on January 27, 2011 (No Comments)

Time for some spice! This Thursday review from John and Dad is on the Cottonwood Pumpkin Spiced Ale, which came highly recommended from our pal Darrin Pikarsky, founder of The Charlotte Beer Club. When the guy who founded a beer club recommends a beer, you friggin’ try it!

It’s brewed by the Carolina Beer Company, located about 30 minutes north of Charlotte in Mooresville, NC. They’re probably best known for their Carolina branded brews like Carolina Blonde and Carolina Strawberry Ale, but for our money their Cottonwood line of ales and seasonals is where the magic happens.

The Cottonwood Pumpkin Spice is a fall seasonal for them and comes in a 12 oz bottle. You’ll find varying reports on the ABV with BeerAdvocate listing it at 4.5%, RateBeer listing it at 5.1% and Carolina Beer’s own Pumpkin Spiced Ale page listing it at 6%. The likely scenario is that the ABV has changed over the years and has probably gradually crept up into that craft beer sweet spot of around 6% to 8% that a lot of the craft beers you find these days tend to have. More ABV rarely presents a problem for the craft beer segment, who we dare say tend to be a bit more responsible than the rank American domestic segment. Ever wonder what percentage of DUIs are a result of craft beer versus domestic beer? That should probably be a line on the police report, but we digress.

Our starting beer temperature came in at 48.6 F and our initial pour gave us a slightly larger than average 2″ fizzy off-white head that left no head lacing at it dissipated quickly. It’s got a nice lively amount of carbonation and the body clarity comes in fairly clear while the color is pure amber orange.

For the smell we pull some great aromas – light caramel, brown sugar, cinnamon, clove, ginger, maple syrup, nutmeg and some other fanciful spices. There’s no real pumpkin that pops out in the smell – it’s just all spices that dominate the nose. Just a wonderful aroma.

For our initial flavor notes we get a light sweet and a light tart that ramps up to a light to moderate sweet and light to moderate tart in the finish. The tastes come in with brown sugar, cinnamon, clove, ginger, maple syrup, nutmeg, pumpkin and some more spices. Though the pumpkin wasn’t prominent in the nose it’s definitely there in the taste, but it’s not overdone like so many of the other pumpkin beers we’ve had.

The finish length is average, the mouthfeel is oily and the tongue hit is front to middle. There’s not really much in the way of body lacing and on the patented malt to hop scale it comes in 3 clicks to the left of balanced on the malty side – one click away from a malt explosion.

For our bottom line notes we got a yes to drinkable, balance, harmony, memorable, wow factor and buy again. Our only no was to to repeatable (more on that later).

We really like the spice dominance in this one. It’s like a pumpkin pie in a glass. The best pumpkin beers we’ve done hedge more towards pumpkin pie smells than jack-o-lantern smells and though that may be a personal preference, we think it’s the right path to go down.

With the Cottonwood, it’s another case of a beer really hitting the season it’s made for – it’s truly a great fall/winter seasonal beer. Thought it’s not a great session beer (the spices could be a bit much to do multiples of in a sitting), it’s a tremendous first beer. It’s extremely pleasant and a lot of fun to drink. The spices make the beer, they’re not just innocent bystanders like so many other pumpkin beers. If you’re in an area where you can get Cottonwood beer and it happens to be fall, the Pumpkin Spice Ale is definitely worth a 6 pack or two.

Cottonwood Pumpkin Spiced Ale Rating: 7 out of 10 (?)

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Noel Des Geants

By John & Dad on January 24, 2011 (No Comments)

This is a John and Dad bonus Thursday rating, made to wipe the Lone Star taste out of our mouths.

The Noel Des Geants is brewed by Brasserie des Geants (formerly Brasserie des Legendes) in south Belgium. The brewery is actually located in a medieval castle in the town of Irchonwelz. The town is famous for its annual giants parade so the brewery has a gate that stands high to allow an occasional giant to pass through. How awesome is that?

The beer is unpasteurized, unfiltered, bottle-refermented, weighs in at 8.5% ABV and comes in an 11.2 oz bottle.

For our review we used a snifter glass and got a starting beer temperature of 49.1 F. Our initial pour yielded a small 1″ frothy light brown head that left no head lacing as it dissipated quickly. It’s a dark gem of a beer – a nice opaque ruby brown color that sports a soft amount of carbonation in it.

For our aromas we got biscuit, honey, earth, yeast, cinnamon, clove, dark cherry, date, nutmeg, sugar plum, raisin, vanilla and some other nondescript spices. The dark fruits really pop in the smell.

For our initial flavors we got a heavy sweet, light bitter and moderate sour. Our finish flavors came in with a moderate sweet, moderate bitter and moderate sour. Sweetness drops and bitterness increases as you go through your sipping motion. For our tastes we got honey, clove, coriander, dark cherry, pepper, sugar plum, raisin and some more nondescript spices. Not all the aromas come out in the taste, but it’s a great taste nonetheless.

The finish length is long, the mouthfeel is creamy and the tongue hit is on the front and sides. There’s no body lacing left on the glass as you quaff it down and on the malt to hop scale it comes in 2.5 clicks to the left of balanced on the malty side. That’s a really nice malty sweet edge.

For our bottom line notes we got a yes to drinkable, balance, harmony, memorable, wow factor and buy again. The only no was to repeatable as one was enough.

The Noel Des Geants is loaded to the gills with dark fruits, so if you like beers like Chimay Blue or Trappistes Rochefort 10 you’ll like this one. It brings something new to the table though – a prominent sourness. Along with that there’s a very pronounced sugariness to it that hits the spot and adds to the complexity of the beer. It is an absolutely perfect Winter/Christmas seasonal beer – you want to cozy up to it and take your time enjoying it, because it’s a treat. Highly recommended.

Noel Des Geants Rating: 8 out of 10 (?)

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Lone Star

By John & Dad on January 20, 2011 (3 Comments)

You may think that Lone Star is nothing more than the Captain from the movie Spaceballs, but you’re wrong – it’s also a restaurant. And a country music band. And a forgettable 1996 movie. And a canceled TV series. Oh and it’s also a beer. That’s where we come in. It’s time for a John and Dad virtual Thursday review made possible by our friends at Skype.

Lone Star Beer is brewed by the Lone Star Brewing Company. A bit of history on them – the original brewery was built in 1884 and was the first large automated brewery in Texas. It was founded by a group of businessmen in San Antonio and some cat named Adolphus Busch (yeah that one). The brewery closed in 2000 and now houses the San Antonio Museum of Art, which you’ll find out in this review is a significant upgrade. The Lone Star brand has changed hands many times, passing from Olympia Brewing to Heileman to Stroh to Pabst. Production is currently farmed out to SABMiller in their Fort Worth, TX brewery.

For our Lone Star (beer) review we used a shaker glass and got a starting beer temperature of 42.8 F (which may have been 20 or 30 degrees too warm in hindsight). The ABV comes in at 4.65% and it’s a traditional 12 oz bottle.

For our aromas we got straw, dried grasses and some yeast. Not much there on the nose. For our initial flavor we got a light sweet and in the finish we moved to a very light sweet and added a light bitter. For the tastes we got the straw, dried grasses and yeast from the nose, and added some soapiness, light lemon and light corn. The lemon comes through in the taste a bit more as it warms up.

The finish length is mercifully short, the mouthful is watery and the tongue hit is in the middle. There’s no body lacing and on our malt to hop scale it comes in balanced – not enough of anything to move it towards one side or the other.

For our bottom line notes we got a yes to drinkable (especially if you’re dying of thirst), yes to repeatable (if your mouth isn’t already bored to death) and yes to balance (not too hard to balance out a whole lot of nothing). We got a no to harmony, memorable, wow factor and buy again.

Overall we’d rate it as barely beer-like. It closely resembles a regular American pale lager and that’s not a compliment. The good news is you don’t need water with it to cleanse your palate in between tastes, you can just rinse your mouth with the beer itself. If you weren’t focusing on it you wouldn’t know there was any taste to it at all.

We can’t say enough good things about it. It would be ideal for keg stands. It would be an excellent 5th beer of the night. The empty bottle is a perfect representation of an empty bottle. To sum it all up – it’s a good beer for people who don’t like good beer.

Lone Star Rating: 2 out of 10 (?)

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What’s Your Go To Beer?

By John on January 17, 2011 (5 Comments)

It’s Monday at six o’clock after a long day at the office. You’re headed home past several grocery stores, convenience stores and specialty beer shops. You want to pick up some beers to have that night to relax, take the edge off and maybe enjoy with dinner. You plan on drinking no more than 2 beers because you’re just responsible like that and besides your significant other says you snore too much if you have more than 2 beers. You’re going to get a six pack of something that you know you’ll enjoy tonight and for a few nights during the rest of the week. This is your treat to yourself – you don’t want to get something eclectic that you’ve never had, you want something familiar and comfortable. An old friend. Something you’ve come back to time and time again. It doesn’t matter if it’s summer or winter, because this beer knows no season.

So, what are you coming home with? What’s your go-to beer?

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Santa’s Butt Winter Porter

By John & Dad on January 13, 2011 (No Comments)

Today’s father and son beer review features the Santa’s Butt Winter Porter – one of the many Christmas/Winter beers that come from Ridgeway Brewing in the UK. You may know them best for their Bad Elf series of beers (Regular, Very, Seriously, Criminally and Insanely Bad Elf – in order of ascending ABV) that come in gift packs during the holiday season.

For those not in the know – the “butt” reference speaks to the style of porter you may not be familiar with – the Entire Butt Porter. We write more about it in our review of the Entire Butt English Porter but so you know in 18th century Britain the porter was a blend of three beers – a stale or soured old ale, a brown or pale new ale and a mild to weak ale – resulting in a beer commonly referred to as the “Entire Butt.”

Back to the Santa’s Butt – it’s not cheap, coming in around $5 to $6 a bottle depending on where you find it, but at least you get more than a normal bottle – it’s 1 pint 0.9 oz (500 ml). It sports a 6% ABV and for our review we got a starting temperature of 51.1 F.

Our initial pour into our English pint glass gave us an average 1 1/2″ foamy light brown head that left a good amount of head lacing as it dissipated quickly. It’s a dark beer, but clear, with the color coming in somewhere between brown and black. It has very little carbonation to speak of.

The aromas come in with light toasted malts, soap, alcohol, light brown sugar and some nondescript spices. Not the greatest nose, but a lot of the aromas are muted so it’s not too off-putting.

The initial flavors come in with a moderate sweet followed up in the finish by a light sweet, very light bitter and a very light salty. The tastes come in with a light chocolate, light coffee, light roasted malts, light butterscotch, light sherry and finally some vanilla. As with the aromas, the tastes run light on this one.

The finish length is short to average, the mouthful is full on creamy, almost buttery, and the tongue hit is in the middle. There was a fair amount of body lacing on the glass during our review and on the patented malt to hop scale it comes in 2 clicks to the left of balanced on the malty side. A good sweet malty edge on it.

For our bottom line notes we got a yes to drinkable, repeatable and balance. We got a no to harmony, memorable, wow factor and buy again (although to be honest the no to buy again is based purely on the price and not the taste).

Santa’s Butt is a good bittersweet beer. The tastes and aromas come in much lighter than a traditional porter so it shouldn’t scare anyone off. It could be a great conversion beer for someone wanting to get into porters. Yeah – a perfect conversion porter. It could be a good session beer as well for a seasoned beer drinker (though technically 6% doesn’t fit the definition of a session beer), if not for the stifling price tag.

The hops are very mild and it almost strikes us more like an American bock style of beer. It’s wildly clean and could be a good porter for the ladies (make that the ladies who don’t know good porters, so not The Beer Wench or The Beer Babe). It’s wildly clean and the mouthfeel is just superb – it hits the middle of the tongue and coats the inside of the cheeks. It’s kind of an anti-porter porter, if that makes sense. Maybe a Porter Bock. Either way it’s unlike most porters you’ve tried so it’s worth picking up.

Santa’s Butt Winter Porter Rating: 5 out of 10 (?)

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Lump of Coal Dark Holiday Stout

By John & Dad on January 10, 2011 (No Comments)

For our latest installment of the John and Dad Thursday review series we hit the Lump of Coal from Ridgeway Brewing in the UK. Technically the Lump of Coal Dark Holiday Stout, we’re aiming to find out if it hits the mark as a Christmas beer.

The Lump of Coal comes in at 8% ABV in its 1 pint, 0.9 oz (500 ml) bottle. For our initial pour into our tulip glass we got an average 1 1/2″ light brown creamy head and a starting beer temperature of 48.6 F. There was a fair to good amount of head lacing left towards the top of the glass as it dissipated slowly into the depths below. It’s almost solid black with some occasional hints of ruby and there was a soft amount of carbonation.

For the aroma profile we got burnt malts, coffee, dark chocolate, molasses, black licorice, light brown sugar, soy sauce and vanilla. Not a hop to be had that we could detect.

Our initial flavors came in with a moderate sweet and a very light bitter, followed by a light sweet, light bitter and light salty in the finish. Our tastes came in with regular chocolate (not dark chocolate like the smell), coffee, molasses, roasted malts (not burnt like the smell), black licorice and dark brown sugar (not light brown sugar like the smell). It’s got a nice bittersweet chocolate taste to it. Initially the coffee taste is in the background and the chocolate taste is in the foreground, but the coffee gets stronger in the finish.

The finish length is short, the mouthfeel is creamy and the tongue hit is all in the back. There was no body lacing to speak of as the beer levels went down and on the malt to hop scale it comes in 2.5 clicks to the left of balanced on the malty side. Very nicely malted – right where we like it.

For our bottom line notes we got a yes to drinkable, repeatable, balance, harmony and buy again. We got a no to memorable and wow factor.

Is it a Christmas beer? Not really. There was none of the spicy, warming notes we tend to think of in Christmas beers, but it is a good solid stout. It’s actually a highly drinkable stout – if not for the 8% ABV it could be a good session beer. The finish fades pretty fast for a dark stout, which is surprising, but means it’s not too overpowering. It might be a good conversion stout for someone really wanting to get into stouts. Not bad at all and definitely worth picking up and trying, especially if your tastes run more to the dark side.

Lump of Coal Dark Holiday Stout Rating: 6 out of 10 (?)

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Celis White

By John & Dad on January 6, 2011 (No Comments)

For the first review of the New Year we’re trying the Celis White, which comes to us from Michigan Brewing (via our friends at The Beer of the Month Club).

Interesting story on Celis – it was developed by Pierre Celis, a brewmaster from Hoegaarden, Belgium. He opened Celis Brewery in Austin, TX in 1992 to brew his decades-old Belgian beer recipes (Celis White had an almost cult-like following). He moved back to Belgium in the late 90’s and the story almost ended. The brewery got into the hands of Miller and was closed in 2000. However, the Celis brewing equipment was purchased by Michigan Brewing in 2002 and they revived the Celis line of beers which you can continue to enjoy to this very day. Hats off to Michigan Brewing for saving Celis.

Back to the Celis White – it’s a witbier (Belgian white) and the ABV comes in a little on the low side at 3.9%. We were able to find an IBU of 15 from the Malt of the Earth newsletter.

The Celis White explained from the Michigan Brewing web site:

Celis White is seasoned with Curacao orange peel and coriander, and is brewed from a unique recipe first brewed in Belgium in 1453. It is top fermented and brewed from 50% raw winter wheat and 50% 2-Row malt, hopped with Willamette and EKG hops. Its sweetness balances many spicy foods and is especially good with fruits, salads, delicate sauces, fish and poultry, or as an aperitif.

For those not in the know, an aperitif is an alcoholic drink served before a meal. Feel free to use that knowledge at your next dinner party. For our review we served this 12 oz bad boy up in a weizen glass and got a starting temperature of 45.7 F. Our initial pour gave us an average 1 1/2″ white foamy head that left no lacing as it dissipated quickly. There was a medium amount of carbonation and there was a light haziness in the very light straw colored body.

For our aromas we got sweet biscuit, wheat, light lemon, orange zest, light banana, bubble gum, coriander and clove. It’s got a really great nose to it – it smells a lot like our beloved Franziskaner Hefeweizen and let us tell you that’s okay in our books.

Our initial flavor impressions were a light sweet followed by a moderate sweet, light bitter and light tart on the finish. For our tastes we held pretty true to the nose – sweet biscuit, wheat, light lemon, orange zest, light banana, bubble gum, coriander and spices. The tastes in this thing work wonderfully together and it’s just a complete gem. It’s like a cross between the aforementioned Franziskaner and a Hoegaarden and that, our friends, is a beautiful thing.

It’s got a short finish to it, a nice oily mouthfeel and the tongue hit comes in somewhere middle to back. There’s no body lacing left on the glass as we gulp it down and on the patented malt to hop scale it comes in one click to the left of balanced on the malty side. Right where we like it.

For our bottom line notes we got all yeses – drinkable, repeatable, balance, harmony, memorable, wow factor and buy again. It actually got a write-in “hell yes” to drinkable – it’s that good.

It perfectly bridges the gap between a hefeweizen and a witbier, with a skew towards the witbier. Hefeweizen notes lie in the background while witbier notes lie in the foreground. It’s pretty tame so that makes for a great session beer. It’s just a real treat – if you see it buy as many as you possibly can. No need to send us a thank you letter, we’ll be too busy drinking Celis White to read it.

Celis White Rating: 8 out of 10 (?)

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Our Life in Beer 2010

By John on January 3, 2011 (2 Comments)

You wouldn’t know it based on the frequency of updates on the site, but we did actually have a life in beer in 2010. Though very few reviews made it to the site Father and Son Beer Love met nearly every Thursday night for our online Skype beer review that results in our handwritten notes using our fanciful beer review form which we make available free to you online because we love you so much it hurts sometimes. Or something like that. Our current backlog of hand written beer reviews we need to type and post online sits at 75. We are not making that up.

Obviously the big deal in 2010 for us was the rebranding of the site from Dr. Beer Love to The BeerFathers – that was a good move for us for a lot of reasons, most of which we outlined in our post explaining why we made the name change.

Our previous life in beer post, which should have happened in 2009, actually was in 2008. Needless to say we’re a bit overdue. As always, the reason for this life in beer retrospective is to go back through the past year to see what we learned, what we liked and how we grew. So here are our thoughts on our life in beer in 2010 (note: these beers were new to us in 2010, not necessarily new beers that came out in those years):

  • Best New Beer Style of 2010: Gueze Lambic
    When The BeerFathers smelled their first gueze lambic they had a Dr. Cox style reaction (from Scrubs) – “I’m gagging and vomiting at the same time… I’m… I’m gavomiting!”

    However, when we tasted it we immediately fell in love. Never has something that smelled like sweat socks tasted so fanciful! Gueze lambic, as with all lambics, is a hard addiction though, because lambics just aren’t a cheap beer (starting point of around $5 or $6 a bottle). But if you can find a Gueze, hold off on your next two Starbucks grande latte enemas and get the Gueze. You will not be disappointed.

  • Best Beer of 2010: Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout
    This beer has everything in the world we like – bourbon, coffee, dark chocolate, vanilla and a smoothness that is out of this world. It’s little stepbrother, Founders Breakfast Stout, was a great intro, but the KBS, as it’s called, is like the difference between the Yankees and the Mets (meaning there’s more pinstripes). Interestingly the KBS isn’t just the regular Breakfast Stout with more stuff, it’s a completely different beer. It’s everything we look for in a stout, aside from the fact you can only get it during a brief window of the year, like you’re launching a space shuttle. Runner up: Duck Rabbit Rabid Duck.
  • Best Non-Stout of 2010: Aventinus Weizen Eisbock
    “Non-stout,” in our year end reviews, is our highbrow way of saying “lager.” Stouts tend to dominate our favorite beer selections so this keeps us grounded and looking for other beers that can hold their own without necessarily being brewed with top-fermenting ale yeast. To that point, the Aventinus Weizen Eisbock joins 2008’s winner, the Aventinus Doppelbock, as our favorite non-stout of the year – by far. Our review, when finished, had 22 aromas and 21 tastes – and this bad boy is a malt lover’s delight. It’s a privilege of a beer to drink and one of the highest rated non-stouts you’ll find on our site. Perhaps we should call this category the “Best Aventinus Beer of the Year.”
  • Best Fruited Beer of 2010: Dogfish Head Punkin Ale
    To say the Dogfish Head Punkin Ale is our favorite fruited beer of the year was tough, because we weren’t 100% that pumpkin was a fruit. We did some research and found that it is technically a fruit, in the same way that tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, green beans and bell peppers are also fruits. Have we lost you? Yeah, us too. Turns out if the item in question has seeds it is technically a fruit, in a truly botanical sense of the term. “Vegetable” is not actually a botanical term, it’s more of a culinary term, and is a bit more open to interpretation. So we’ll just say pumpkin is both a fruit and a vegetable (full explanation here). All that being said, the DFH Punkin Ale absolutely blew our socks off. It is perfectly spiced and is probably the finest example of a beer fitting the season it’s brewed for. It just gives us one more reason to look forward to fall. Honorable mention: Founders Cerise.
  • Best IPA of 2010: Dogfish Head 120 Minute
    If you’ve met us or read anything we’ve ever written, you know that we’re not really hopheads. We’ve been called everything from malt madmen to malt mavens to malt mofos, but that doesn’t keep us from trying beers we know are hoppy – and there’s no better known hoppy beer than an IPA. This past year we had the chance, thanks to a friend of ours, to try the Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA and we were floored when we did. The DFH 90 Minute won in this space in 2008, but when you try the 120 Minute you’ll know what happened with those extra 30 minutes. The ABV comes in at 18% (double the 90 Minute version), which is reason enough to put it here, but there’s a lot more going on with this than an alcohol wallop. The smell is dominated by the hops but the taste is dominated by the malts. We labeled it “a malt lover’s IPA” and we think that about sums it up perfectly. It’s so good we decided to cellar some to try around 2025. If you can get it, get it.
  • Best Non-Classifiable Beer of 2010: Dogfish Head Midas Touch
    Every now and then you try one of those beers that really just messes with you and Dogfish Head is really good at coming up with these – ones that push the outer limits of “beer.” The Midas Touch is no exception. It’s based on a 2,700 year old Turkish recipe from the tomb of King Midas and DFH’s web site says it’s somewhere between a wine and a mead. RateBeer calls it a traditional ale, BeerAdvocate calls it an herbed/spiced beer and the bottle calls it a golden elixir. What do we call it? Damn good. It’s got barley, white muscat grapes, honey and safron and it is unlike anything else we’ve tried.
  • Best Beer Review of 2010: Beer Float Social
    Yes, we know technically it wasn’t a beer review per se, but we sure had a lot of fun with our Beer Float Social. My wife came up with the idea after seeing it in Southern Living and it was a perfect summer treat for us to experiment with.

Looking back on 2010 it’s easy to see it was a good year for The BeerFathers. We got to continue our mecca towards complete beer enlightenment by trying new stuff and expanding our beer acumen. It was also an epic year for the The BeerFathers web site – despite our lack of updates we’re getting around 9,000 unique visitors a month, so we feel like we continue to help push good beer out to the world. Thanks to everyone for loving the beer with us – here’s to beer in 2011!

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Shiner Bohemian Black Lager

By John & Dad on December 31, 2010 (No Comments)

This is a John and Dad sit down and have a beer on Thursday night over Skype just like our forefathers used to review and today we’re hitting the Shiner Black Lager – technically the Shiner Bohemian Black Lager. Interesting story on the Bohemian Black Lager – it was originally introduced as one of Shiner’s anniversary beers as they were working towards their 100th anniversary of brewing. It was then known as the Shiner 97 Bohemian Black Lager (in 2006). It proved popular enough though that in 2008 they made it a permanent part of their lineup.

The Bohemian Black Lager, as well as all Shiner beer, comes to us from the Spoetzl Brewery in Shiner, Texas. It is a schwarzbier (which is just German for “black beer”) and is Shiner’s darkest brew. Schwarzbiers can be tough to stereotype due to the looseness of the definition of black beer. Some of the best schwarzbiers we’ve done really come in strong with coffee, roasted and smoke flavors, which you’d think all schwarzbiers would, but they don’t have to. Well, they do if they want good ratings here at The BeerFathers, but we digress. We try to put those characteristics into black beers as we tend to identify black beers with stouts but that doesn’t necessarily have to be the case. Remember, a schwarzbier is a lager, so you’re not always going to get some of the strong ale characteristics in the beer.

The Black Lager packs a 4.9% ABV into a 12 oz bottle. It comes in at 18 IBUs and for our review we used a British pint glass and got a starting beer temperature of 53.8 F. Our initial pour yielded an average 1 1/2″ frothy light brown head that left no lacing as it dissipated quickly into the dark brown to black body. Though dark, the body clarity is clear. There was little to no discernible carbonation in the brew.

It has a general “sweet” smell to it that’s nice. For our full-on sniffy sniff we got only a handful of aromas: chocolate, coffee, roasted malts and milk. It’s a pretty thin smell, even with the nice sweetness.

Our initial flavors struck us with a light to moderate sweet and a light bitter, followed in the finish by a light sweet, light to moderate bitter and a light acidic. The flavors hold fairly true to the aromas – chocolate, coffee and roasted malts, but we dropped the milk from the smell and got a hint of light black licorice on the taste. The overall taste is somewhat bland – it tastes “dark” but there’s almost no finish to it. The finish that is there is odd – almost like tasting the dark part of the grain.

Thankfully the finish length is short. The mouthfeel is dry and the tongue hit is in the middle. There was no body lacing to speak of and on the malt to hop scale it comes in 1.5 clicks to the left of balanced on the malty side.

For our bottom line notes we got a yes to drinkable and balance, but a no to repeatable, harmony, memorable, wow factor and buy again.

Perhaps other schwarzbiers have ruined us, but this one just didn’t bring it. There’s just no depth to it. It’s like a big mouthful of not too much. Granted it is a lager, but we’ve done some other schwarzbiers before that have at least blown one sock off. I think we wanted it to be more like a stout or at least some of the other schwarzbiers we’ve done, but it’s just not there.

It’s got a malty taste but no bold flavors and that’s what it needs – some boldness. It’s just a little too subdued. The malts that are there are just too thin and it needs a more robust mouthfeel to it – more creaminess. The bitter at the finish seems more malt than hop based, surprising as schwarzbiers tend to get their bitterness solely from the hops, but as we said before schwarzbiers can be tough to characterize. It’s actually a bit annoying towards the finish. Perhaps we need to try it colder than we did it, but a well crafted beer should hold up in the 50 degree range and this one just doesn’t do that.

We like to say “May the schwarzbier be with you,” but if it is we hope it’s not this one.

Shiner Bohemian Black Lager Rating: 3 out of 10 (?)

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The Beer Drinkers Dilemma

By John on December 16, 2010 (3 Comments)

If some unspeakable catastrophe happened and they could only brew one style of beer in all the world for the rest of time, what style of beer would you want it to be and why?

  • Father Beer Love’s answer: Porter
  • Son Beer Love’s answer: Doppelbock
  • Your answer? Leave a comment and let us know!

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Beer Float Social

By John & Dad on July 5, 2010 (5 Comments)

Son Beer Love’s wife was recently reading a Southern Living and noted an article on beer ice cream floats. The article detailed that beer floats were the perfect Southern experience on a hot summer day. She said “You and your dad have to do this!” And that is just one of the many reasons I love my wife.

So dad and I set out on planning our ice cream beer float day logistics. Which ice cream? Which beers? Which glasses? The ice cream brand was the easy part – we knew we had to do Blue Bell, but it came down to which flavor? We opted at first for Blue Bell Natural Vanilla Bean, but we quickly found out that Son Beer Love couldn’t find this in his local market in Charlotte, NC (Father Beer Love lives one state over from the Blue Bell headquarters so they actually deliver directly to his house). So we called an audible and went with Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla instead, which is the most popular ice cream in Blue Bell’s lineup and with good reason.

Beer Float

Getting ready for the beer floats with Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla ice cream

Now that we had our ice cream it was onto the beers. At first we thought five beers would be good but then we thought it would be too much (see our infamous Strawberry Beer Menage a Trois for proof that too much good can be no good). “We must be scientific!” we said as we banged our fists on the table, furrowed our brows and made stern faces. So we settled on three beers that we had already rated here on the site – Guinness, Young’s Double Chocolate Stout and Wild Blue. Wild Blue only comes in bottles, but for the others we opted for cans, which as we all know, beats the bottles. We stored them at fridge temperatures as we thought letting the beers warm up to the recommended serving temperature would be counterintuitive to the whole polar ice cream caps melting phenomenon we hear so much about.

Guinness seemed like a natural choice – already a very creamy beer we thought it could only get creamier. Young’s Double Chocolate seemed the most likely candidate to win the whole contest, as it is one of our top sessionable go-to beers. Chocolate and vanilla? Why yes, don’t mind if we do. Wild Blue was a late choice for us but the combination of blueberry and ice cream sounded pretty great – we’re known for having blueberry pie and ice cream in lieu of birthday cake in our household, so why not?

Beer Float

The BeerFathers beer floats poured and ready to be consumed

As our last executive decision we chose snifters for our glassware. This mostly had to do with the fact that we knew we each had three snifters and only had two of most of the other required beer receptacles (goblets, pints, shakers, tulips and weizens being the other state mandated beer glasses). In hindsight the goblets would have been the better choice because of the wider opening, but we’re not complaining.

Now that we had made all our CEO level decisions, it was time for the review. We opted for the Friday before the 4th of July – July 2, 2010. Going into the challenge our hypothesis was that Young’s Double Chocolate would easily be the hands down winner. Yes, we got all scientific method on these beer floats and had a hypothesis. Of course forming a hypothesis was the only step of the scientific method we could remember and we were too lazy to Google “scientific method” to figure out what the real steps were. For our example they will be 1) form a hypothesis, 2) drink beer, 3) jump to conclusions, 4) rinse, 5) repeat.

beer ice cream floats

Father and Son consuming and hypothesizing their beer floats

Father Beer Love did a dry run the evening before to get some “best practices” for the real thing. We came to the conclusion that to avoid the issue of beer foaming you had to pour the beer first, then put the ice cream on top of that. Using this method provided the most scientific results, we felt. In our snifters we wound up pouring in about 4 or 5 ounces of beer and then loading 2 to 3 scoops of ice cream on top of that. Worked great.

Now it should be noted that though we’ll present these notes linearly, we in fact did nothing linear during our test. We’re not even sure what linear means. We would try one beer float, move on to the next, jump to the next, go back to the original, ad infinitum.

We started with Young’s Double Chocolate – our hypothesized winner. Our notes:

  • The vanilla ice cream dominates the bite and overpowers the chocolate
  • You get a pretty firm kick of bitter on the aftertaste
  • Not as enjoyable as we thought it would be
  • The “broth” (beer with no ice cream) is not great alone – you need a good amount of ice cream with each bite to tame the bitter edge
  • It gets more enjoyable after the ice cream matriculates its way through the glass
  • A good trick was to get some beer scooped off the bottom of the glass with each bite
ice cream beer float

Father and Son continue investigating the beer and ice cream combinations

Next up was Wild Blue, the blueberry beer du jour. Our notes:

  • Wow! That really pops!
  • The least bitter of all the beers – there is a tiny amount of bitterness in the end, but that’s it
  • Great combination of blueberry and vanilla – like a blueberry pie a la mode
  • The “broth” is good by itself
  • Really, really enjoyable and the 8% ABV of Wild Blue makes it that much better
beer ice cream

Father and Son continue their beer ice cream float saga

Last up was Guinness. Our notes:

  • Not bad – better than we thought it would be
  • It was less bitter than you’d expect, considering it’s Guinness (especially with ice cream in the bite)
  • The subtle coffee notes really worked well with the vanilla – quite good!
  • More subdued than the Young’s Double Chocolate
ice cream beer

Father and Son Beer Love finish up their beer ice cream floats with two bellyaches

Conclusions

Much to our surprise, Young’s Double Chocolate was not the winner. Here’s our final vote:

  1. Wild Blue
  2. Young’s Double Chocolate
  3. Guinness

That’s right, Wild Blue was the outright winner – the fruit and vanilla combination was too much for the other beers. It should be noted that we struggled back and forth on whether Guinness or Young’s Double Chocolate was the outright number two. They were both very good, just not as good as we expected. In the end it was Young’s by a whisker (it got better as the ice cream had more time to work with it). You really can’t go wrong with either of them. Side note: I don’t think my stomach has ever been so full as it has after three beer floats. A definite bellyache of a night, but good nonetheless.

So if you get brave enough to enjoy a beer ice cream float this summer, our recommendations on making it a good experience:

  • Get a good, strong vanilla ice cream as your base
  • Pour the beer first, then put the ice cream on top
  • Use a regular beer pint glass or goblet if you’re going to use authentic beer glasses
  • Make sure you put in enough ice cream to have some ice cream in every bite, as the “broth” may not stand well alone
  • Scoop off the bottom when you can as the flavors have had more time to meld together
  • Fruit beers are good, as are beers with chocolate and coffee notes
  • Porters might be better than stouts (just a theory)
  • The longer the beer and ice cream co-exist together the better the flavor gets
  • It might almost be best to put some ice cream in the beer and let it melt to marry the flavors together first, then load it up with lots of ice cream on top of that to create the smoothest possible beer float

We hope you get to try a beer float this summer – it’s a great change of pace from your normal beer routine and you’ll feel a little giddy doing something naughty like mixing beer and ice cream together. Here’s to summer!

* Special thanks to Wife Beer Love for both the idea of the beer floats and for taking pictures of me and dad during the beer float challenge. And also for being a great wife and mother to our child. And countless other things.

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Even More of The Most Interesting Man in the World

By John on April 13, 2010 (2 Comments)

Following up on our post about The Most Interesting Man in the World delivering great advertising results for Dos Equis, several of our beer loving readers have asked for more of The Most Interesting Man in the World videos. Turns out you’re all as fanatical about them as we are!

We’re more than happy to oblige, thanks to YouTube. The following are some of The BeerFathers personal favorites – stay thirsty my friends!

Our original Most Interesting Man in the World video:

Even the prepositions:

Our all-time favorite 30 second spot, with the best line in the world about chicken:

Some short 15 seconds ones:

And our all-time favorite 15-second spot, proving less is more:

If you have some more favorite spots send them to us and we’ll get them posted up for you.

Update: June 29, 2010 – 2 new videos:

At museums, he’s allowed to touch the art:

Sharks have a week dedicated to him:

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Top US Beer Brand Stats (2009 Update)

By John on March 24, 2010 (7 Comments)

A few years back your humble BeerFathers wrote a post about the Top US Beer Brands for 2007. We thought it was a good time to update that post. This information comes from the March 2010 issue of Beverage Industry magazine and is for U.S. sales for 2009. Ready the new bullet points:

Top Craft Beer Brands 2009:

  1. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale (unchanged from 2007)
  2. Sam Adams Boston Lager (unchanged from 2007)
  3. Sam Adams Seasonal (unchanged from 2007)
  4. New Belgium Fat Tire Amber Ale (unchanged from 2007)
  5. Shiner Bock (up from #6 in 2007)
  6. Widmer Hefeweizen (up from #7 in 2007)
  7. Sam Adams Variety Pack (not listed, per se, in 2007, but Sam Adams Brewmaster Collection was #8)
  8. Sam Adams Light (down from #5 in 2007)
  9. Sierra Nevada Seasonal (not listed in 2007)
  10. Deschutes Mirror Pond Pale Ale (not listed in 2007)

The BeerFathers Notes on Top Craft Beer Brands:

  • Same as in 2007, Sam Adams gets to lump its collections together, like seasonals and the variety pack, to show up as one brand, which is quite misleading.
  • I wonder if you lumped together some of New Belgium’s seasonal offerings like Skinny Dip, 2 Below, etc if they’d show up on this list like the Sam Adams collections do? It’s noted that New Belgium Seasonal sales are up 40% for 2009.
  • Though the overall beer category was flat in dollar sales for 2009, the craft beer category was up 12%. Maybe taste does win?
  • Hooray for one of our favorites – Shiner Bock – moving up the list to push out Sam Adams Light for the #5 spot!
  • Never heard of the Mirror Pond Pale Ale – but congrats for knocking off Pyramid Hefeweizen Ale from the #10 spot in 2007. Substandard hefes have no place on this list, no offense Widmer.

Top Imported Beer Brands 2009:

  1. Corona Extra (unchanged from 2007)
  2. Heineken (unchanged from 2007)
  3. Modelo Especial (up from #6 in 2007)
  4. Tecate (unchanged from 2007)
  5. Corona Light (down from #3 in 2007)
  6. Heineken Premium Light Lager (down from #5 in 2007)
  7. Labatt Blue (up from #9 in 2007)
  8. Dos Equis XX Lager Especial (not listed in 2007)
  9. Stella Artois Lager (not listed in 2007)
  10. Newcastle Brown Ale (down from #7 in 2007)

TheBeerFathers Notes on Top Imported Beer Brands:

  • Wow! Guinness Draught was knocked completely off the 2007 list (was in #8 spot). Has Guinness lost a bit of it’s luster?
  • Heineken continues to prove marketing can overcome all obstacles, including skunky taste.
  • We address the Dos Equis rise up the list in a separate post about their spokesperson – The Most Interesting Man in the World.
  • The highest rated beer on this list according to RateBeer.com is Newcastle Brown Ale with a 49. No beer on this list is above the 50th percentile and you’d be shocked at the score for the rest of them. Let’s put it this way – Stella Artois, with a 15, is the only other beer on the list that ranks in double digits. One beer on the list is a zero (bonus points if you’re the first to comment with the correct beer that has a zero without looking at RateBeer!). All the single digit beers do have one thing in common though – heavy marketing dollars. Let that be a lesson to you MBA students out there.

Top Beers by Brand 2009:

  1. Bud Light (unchanged from 2007) – 28.3% market share
  2. Budweiser (unchanged from 2007) – 11.9% market share
  3. Coors Light (up from #4 in 2007) – 9.9% market share
  4. Miller Lite (down from #3 in 2007) – 9.2% market share
  5. Natural Light (up from #6 in 2007) – 6.1% market share
  6. Corona Extra (down from #5 in 2007) – 5.3% market share
  7. Busch Light (up from #8 in 2007) – 3.7% market share
  8. Busch (up from #9 in 2007) – 3.4% market share
  9. Heineken (down from #7 in 2007) – 3.3% market share
  10. Miller High Life (unchanged from 2007) – 2.7% market share

The BeerFathers Notes on Top Beers by Brand:

  • All the same players as 2007 – no new entrants crack the list.
  • Budweiser absolutely dominates the brands with over 40% of the market. Pretty incredible.
  • Anheuser-Busch owns 53.4% of the US beer market – in 2007 they had 41.8% of it.
  • There’s not a single company on this list whose owners are headquartered in the United States.
  • The highest rated beer on the list at RateBeer.com? Forget it. Okay, it’s Heineken. It has a 6. Out of 100.
  • We think Heineken is rated too high with its 6 out of 100.

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The Most Interesting Man in the World Delivers Results

By John on March 19, 2010 (5 Comments)

So I’m reading the latest issue of Beverage Industry magazine (March 2010) and they’re talking about beer, so I’m all ears. Or eyes, as it were, since I’m reading it, but you know what I’m saying.

Anyway, they mention the Dos Equis spokesperson – the Most Interesting Man in the World. You know who I’m talking about – the guy in those commercials you can’t get enough of who says “I don’t always drink beer, but when I do I prefer Dos Equis” like this:

So anyway, I mention beer and the Most Interesting Man in the World because I’ve wondered, as I’m sure most of you have, how exactly this ad campaign has done for Dos Equis. And sure enough, there in print in Beverage Industry magazine, is validation – in 2009 sales of Dos Equis XX Lager Especial went up 27 percent in the U.S. This makes it the number 8 imported beer in the U.S. in 2009 with sales of over $80 million. It wasn’t on the top 10 imported beer list at all in 2008.

The story even mentions, though somewhat opinionated, that Dos Equis could have the most recognizable advertising campaign in the beer industry right now. If you think about it can you think of another beer campaign right now that’s better? I can’t.

In what was a down year for a lot of products in 2009, Dos Equis expanded their U.S distribution, ramped up marketing and made gains as a company. Hats off to you Dos Equis, way to “Stay thirsty, my friend.”

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