What time is it? Beer o'clock.

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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Hofbrau Original

By Dad on December 1, 2008 (2 Comments)

Hofbrau OriginalWho wants to go to Munich? I see a lot of hands up and somebody standing in his chair waving both hands yelling “YES!” Sorry, that’s me. You’ll need a passport and a big fistful of money. If you have two big fistfuls of money I have my own passport. Barring that we’ll just grab a couple of Hofbrau’s and gaze at a picture John snapped at the Hofbrau Festzelt tent at Oktoberfest in 2006. I found this at CPWM for $1.89 a bottle and then got 3 of them in a Beer Of The Month club the next day.

I served this up in a .5L Hofbrau dimpled mug I brought back from Munich. It had a 3 1/2 inch huge foamy white head. Bier temp. was 48.4F-9.7C and had 5.1% ABV. It had good head lacing and dissipated slowly. Carbonation was lively, the body was a clear sparkling yellow. Aromas were barley, hay, citrus, lemon and yeast. Tastes were only barley, lemon and yeast. Initial flavors were light sweet and light bitter and finish flavors were light to moderate sweet, light to moderate bitter and a light tartness. Finish was short, mouthfeel was watery and body lacing was good. On the malt to hop scale it came in at a 5 which is balanced. Yes to repeatable, drinkable, balanced, harmony and buy again. No to memorable and wow factor.

This may have been the quickest bier review I’ve done. Is this the best helles we found in Munich? No. But it’s a good example of the style. This is as smooth and beautiful as a female Lufthansa flight attendant offering you a free bier. At the Hofbrauhaus restaurant we both had a liter of their dunkel with lunch on our shopping day and loved it.

If you do make it to Oktoberfest here are a couple of hints we learned on the first day: the difference between 3 liters of bier and 2 liters and a liter of radler (half bier and half lemonade-actually Sprite) is the difference between a 4 hour nap and a 2 hour nap and after 2 liters pay a visit to the bathroom even if you don’t think you need to, trust me on this one.

Hofbrau Original Rating: 6 out of 10 (?)

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Sam Adams Octoberfest

By John & Dad on November 26, 2008 (2 Comments)

Sam Adams Seasonal LabelWe’ve written before how the Sam Adams seasonal beers differ quite a bit from their flagship beer (Sam Adams Boston Lager) – namely in that we like them and most of them aren’t overly hopped. Mind you, we respect the Boston Beer Company and their aggressive approach to beers – they don’t half ass anything and they don’t necessarily try to appeal to the lowest common denominator.

Their seasonal lineup looks like this, starting in the spring: Sam Adams White Ale, Sam Adams Summer Ale, Sam Adams Octoberfest and Sam Adams Winter Lager. We’re making sure we hit all the Sam Adams seasonals over the coming months and this is stop two of four in our journey.

For this Thursday beer session we’re working on the Sam Adams Octoberfest, which is the fall seasonal in their collection and is usually available from August to November. Our 12 oz bottle sports a 5.4% ABV and we got a starting temperature of 44.1 F. Our initial pour gave us an average 2″ frothy off-white head that dissipated quickly and left virtually no head lacing. There was a medium amount of carbonation and a normal clear body that was amber/orange in color.

The aromas came across with caramel, toasted malts, toffee, brown sugar and spices. It’s got a really nice bouquet to it. The tastes came in with caramel, nutty, toasted malts, citrus and spices. It’s really a quite refreshing beer and though it’s not overly complex, there’s something to be said for it’s simplicity.

Our initial flavor notes came across as a moderate sweet and a very light bitter that evolve in the finish to a light to moderate sweet, light acidic, moderate bitter, light tart and a very light saltiness. There’s quite a bit to the finish on this one, despite the finish length being somewhat short. The mouthfeel is oily, the tongue hit is middle, and there was virtually no body lacing as we gulped it down.

On our patented malt to hop scale, it comes in one click to the left of balanced on the malty side. Very nice for a Sam Adams brew. For our bottom line notes we got a yes to drinkable, repeatable, balance, harmony, memorable and buy again. The only no is to wow factor.

Truth be told, Sam Adams Octoberfest is just a great everyday beer for the fall months. It’s absolutely perfect for the fall weather in the south and it’s got a lot of bold flavors for a lager. It drinks like an ale and this is a perfect example of what a Sam Adams seasonal beer can be. It’s completely worth a 12 pack and that might not last you 12 days. It goes heavier on the malts and lighter on the hops than a traditional Sam Adams, which is just what The BeerFathers ordered. We recommend making this a yearly purchase, nay, investment.

Sam Adams Octoberfest Rating: 6 out of 10 (?)

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SuperBigAssBeerCo, Inc., LLC

By John on November 20, 2008 (3 Comments)

From the InBev Completes Acquisition of Anheuser-Busch press release:

“Effective today, InBev has changed its name to Anheuser-Busch InBev to reflect the heritage and traditions of Anheuser-Busch.”

Blink. Blink blink.

I understand why they went with Anheuser-Busch InBev, I really do. But I’m always a little taken back when a company has a chance to completely rebrand itself and the best they can do is combine the two names together. I’m sure they spent weeks deciding whose name would come first and all that jazz. Hell, they even have a new logo and everything. But come on, did you even have a marketing person in the room? This reeks of a complete lack of marketing involvement. And if marketing was involved and that’s the best they can do? Well, crap.

I’d love to see a press release come out that says:

“Effective today, InBev has changed its name to SuperBigAssBeerCo to reflect the fact that we bought Anheuser-Busch and now we’re super big. We’re the biggest brewer in the whole freaking universe. As a matter of fact, that beer you’re drinking right now? That’s one of ours.”

Any other ideas on a better name for this new entity?

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Redhook Double Black Stout

By John & Dad on November 18, 2008 (1 Comment)

Redhook Double Black StoutWhen we got the email from the PR agency for Redhook asking if we’d like samples of their Double Black Stout it didn’t take long for us to reply that we’d be happy to oblige. It also didn’t take long for us to appreciate how insanely cool it is to have a beer company send you beer. So we’d officially like to welcome our first truly free beer to the site. Technically it’s a “Redhook Double Black Stout With Coffee”, but we think “Double Black Stout” will suffice.

The Double Black Stout has an interesting background. It was originally created in 1995, but Redhook stopped making it in 2000. As you know this was well before the craft beer movement, so you may say they were ahead of their time. Like when Apple introduced the Newton, a little before the market was really ready for tiny handheld computers. Either way, this beer is back for a limited time – early November 2008 through February 2009, or until it all gets consumed, which will probably happen very soon, as this is a fantastic beer.

Brewed by the Redhook Ale Brewery, we got a bomber (22 ounce) that has an MSRP of $4.99. The ABV comes in at a nice 7% and our starting beer temperature was 55.0 F. We served it up in an English pint glass and our bottle’s batch number was 08-0410.

Our initial pour gave us a large 2 1/4″ frothy light brown head that left a fair amount of lacing as it dissipated slowly. There was no noticeable carbonation. The color was an opaque black, but we think there may have been some possible ruby tones when you held it just so.

The aromas come in with chocolate, hay, roasted malts, milk and loads and loads of coffee. And not weak coffee, strong coffee. Like John Coffey. The tastes were very close to the aromas: chocolate, roasted malts, black licorice, milk, smoke and more coffee. A really obscene, fantastic amount of coffee.

The initial flavor notes are a moderate sweet and a light bitter that evolve in the finish to a heavy sweet and a heavy bitter. The flavor is very intense – we’d almost call it a bittersweet stout. The finish length is long and the mouthfeel is fantastic – thick, coating and creamy. The tongue hit covers the whole tongue with it’s bitter and sweet notes. There’s a fair amount of body lacing as your drink it and on The BeerFathers patented malt to hop scale it comes in with the rare 4 clicks to the left of balanced on the malty side circle. That is as malty as it gets folks and The BeerFathers love it.

For our bottom line notes we got all yeses – drinkable, repeatable (though we don’t think we could do another bomber), balance, harmony, memorable, wow factor and buy again.

We really feel like calling it a bittersweet stout is the best way to describe it. Picture what it would be like to combine a schwarzbier and a milk stout and you’ll have a pretty good clue what the Double Black Stout is like.

It’s not for the faint of heart and it’s definitely not for a craft beer newbie or a straight lager drinker. It is an absolute steal at $4.99 for the bomber. It is very intense and the flavor may shock you a bit. This was Father Beer Love’s first beer in 8 days as he was healing from surgery and weening off his meds. He called it awesome and trust us, that’s not a phrase he throws around a lot. Our recommendation? Buy it while it’s available and cellar a few of them – it may smooth out a bit as it ages and be even better.

Redhook Double Black Stout Rating: 7 out of 10 (?)

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The BeerFathers Are In

By John on November 17, 2008 (No Comments)

Well, it’s been a while now, hasn’t it? How do we explain our near month long absence? Just ignore it and hope you didn’t notice? Not The BeerFathers’ style. It plays out like this: Father Beer Love had foot surgery and was not able to do a tasting for several weeks while he worked on getting his feet back under him, as it were. Son Beer Love hit his busy time of year for work which meant traveling to trade shows in far off exotic places like Chicago for upwards of 8 days at a time. Put all that together and you get essentially a month of no reviews and very little time for anything else.

We know this is all just an excuse, but trust us when we say we haven’t abandoned the beer site or the beer community, though our posts on Twitter may indicate otherwise. It’s just been a crazy couple of weeks here and we’re hoping things smooth right on out. We’ve got some beer reviews in the queue as well we’ll be updating here shortly and things should go back to normal here at The BeerFathers. We should even get some in person reviews around Christmas! Thanks for hanging in there with us.

In the meantime, we found an interesting article that introduces people to the different styles of beers that work well with the seasons and also goes into food pairings. Nothing groundbreaking for hardcore craft beers drinkers, but a good choice for someone just getting into craft beers: To Every Beer There Is a Season. Cheers!

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Bell’s Kalamazoo Stout

By John & Dad on October 20, 2008 (No Comments)

Thursday beer review time with Father and Son Beer Love is once again upon us. This week we go back to one of our favorite breweries – Bell’s Brewery up in Kalamazoo, MI – and try the beer named after the city – the Kalamazoo Stout. You may recall we’ve reviewed several other Bell’s beers here including the Bell’s Two Hearted Ale and most notably, the Bell’s Expedition Stout. Loved ’em both.

Our Bell’s Kalamazoo Stout came in at a temperature of 55.6 F and poured an opaque black color into our English pint glass. We got a large 2″ frothy medium brown head that left a good amount of head lacing as it dissipated slowly. There wasn’t much carbonation in our 12 oz bottle which checked in at 6% ABV.

The aromas came in with chocolate, coffee, molasses, roasted malts, light toffee, light alcohol, black licorice and smoke. A really nice bouquet to get us started. The tastes came in pretty spot on to the aromas – chocolate, coffee, molasses, nutty, roasted malts, black licorice and smoke.

The initial flavor notes were a moderate sweet that evolved in the finish to a heavy sweet and a moderate bitter – that sweet though hangs around a good bit. The finish length was long, the mouthfeel was creamy and the tongue hit was in the middle. There is a fair amount of body lacing as well as we drank it down. On our patented malt to hop scale we come in 2.5 clicks to the left of balanced on the malty side – that’s pretty solidly malty, just like we like ’em.

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

Overall the Bell’s Kalamazoo Stout has a nice sweetness to it. It’s like a Bell’s Expedition Stout light, which is not a knock on it at all, but rather a compliment. The lower ABV makes it a bit more drinkable and repeatable than the Expedition Stout, though the aromas and flavors aren’t quite as complex. The bottle reads that it’s a stout brewed with brewer’s licorice, which sound like our kind of licorice, though we’re sure in reality it’s probably like the baker’s chocolate we begged for time and time again and when we finally got a piece of it we were completely unsatisfied, just like we were told we would be.

This is a really great basic stout. All told, we really love this beer. This is more than just a special occasion beer, it’s a good stout to have on hand at all times.

Bell’s Kalamazoo Stout Rating: 8 out of 10 (?)

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Coors Banquet

By John & Dad on October 9, 2008 (35 Comments)

For our recently fallen beer comrade Jerry Reed, who passed away on August 31, 2008, Father and Son Beer Love decided to devote a Thursday night review to the beer that Snowman and the Bandit worked so hard to deliver to the fine folks in Atlanta. This one’s for you, Snowman.

Coors Banquet, which also goes by Coors Original or just Coors, has been produced since 1873 in Golden, Colorado. It’s now owned and operated by the MillerCoors company. Surprisingly, Coors Banquet only has about 1.5% of the domestic beer market (Coors Light is around 15.5% of the market and Bud Light is by far the most popular domestic beer with about 34.9% of the market). You probably already know the story of Adolph Coors and probably wonder a little bit as you read this sentence why a strong, solid name Adolph isn’t that common any more. By this sentence you’ve probably realized why the name Adolph isn’t so common any more. We’ll leave it at that.

For our review we procured 24 oz (1 pint 8 oz) cans from the convenience store (Son Beer Love’s was even served up in a brown bag!) for $1.69 each. These are “cold activated” cans with a frost brew liner in them. The mountains on the can turn blue when the taste is completely obscured by cold. Only then is it safe to drink. Just kidding of course!

Coors Banquet weighs in with a 5% ABV and our beer temperature was 34.2 F, which was cold enough to activate the mountains on the can, which oddly, even when the can was empty, remained blue. We used a tall weizen glass for the pour which gave us an average 2″ fizzy white head that dissipated quickly and left a fair amount of head lacing in the glass. There was a lively amount of carbonation and the body was a clear sparkling yellow color.

There are just a few aromas we could note – grain and corn primarily. The corn smell is a little off-putting at first, but we think it just caught us a little of guard. As it warms we got some lemon and some light alcohol in the smell as well. On the taste side we got a mild lemon in the initial taste and the corn came in with the aftertaste. The initial flavor notes were a light sweet and the finish flavor was a very light sweet and a light bitter. The finish length was quite short and the mouthfeel was watery. The tongue hit was on the front of the tongue and there was virtually no body lacing in the glass. On the patented malt to hop scale it came in just about balanced. Not too malty, not too hoppy, not too much of anything.

For our bottom line notes we got a yes to drinkable and a yes to repeatable. We got a no to harmony, no to memorable, no to wow factor and no to buy again. We were on the fence with balance and can only say it had some – it’s super thin malts, but equally thin hops – so we guess that balances?

It doesn’t rub you the wrong way – it’s like a big glass of cold. We can say this – it smells like beer. Like it really smells like beer in the most common sense of the word – like the people on television who drink beer out of a can that has the word “beer” on the outside of it. It smells like that.

On a hunch, we took a swig out of the can and you know what – we think it tastes better out of the can than in the glass. Out of the can you get a nice little metallic profile that “works” with it. Plus, it just feels so right drinking this out of the can, the way you just know it was meant to be consumed. The way all those thirsty people in Atlanta no doubt drank it when it was delivered to them by Snowman and the Bandit.

It was a little bit of a surprising review for us. We felt pretty sure this would be one of our lowest ratings, but overall it wasn’t bad enough to pour out. The taste is somewhat like a slightly bitter flavored water. There’s more bitter in the finish of the beer than in a glass of water but not much. We actually did a blind taste test against the glass of water we normally have when we rate beers and the results, though not inconclusive, were quite closer than you would think.

It’s odd, we know, to rate something that doesn’t have much of anything to it with something higher than a zero, but would you rate a glass of water a zero? Something almost has to be overdone in the wrong direction to rate a zero. This isn’t enjoyable, per se, but it’s also not not enjoyable, if you catch our drift. Maybe the water from the Rocky Mountains makes a difference. Our final advice if you have to drink it – drink it cold, drink it quick and drink it out of the can.

And let’s remember, this one was for Jerry Reed, who’s up in heaven running his eighteen wheeler over motorcycles and feeding Fred all the hamburgers he wants. East Bound and Down, good buddy.

Coors Banquet Rating: 2 out of 10 (?)

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The Great 2008 Beer Ratings Adjustment

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

We just recently posted our 100th review and to celebrate we decided to look back over all 100 of our previous reviews. What did we find? Well, besides the fact that we really, really love beer we found that we dropped the ball on a few of our ratings.

Most of the ones we dropped the ball on we rated too high, though a few we rated too low. Many of these “too high” ones were early reviews where we just didn’t have a lot of beer experience to rate against. Some were too high because they were the first ones of the style we tried and as we tried more we realized we were just big fans of the style. For some we got a little too crazy focusing on one thing, like how a beer tasted on a 105 degree day with a plate of BBQ. Whatever the reason, we decided to fix it and get it right. For all of these we tried another bottle or sometimes many bottles and came up with the revised rating.

So, here’s a complete list of what we changed and why we changed it. We feel pretty confident as we go forward past 100 that our benchmarks are set and we won’t miss many from now on. When we do, we’re confident you’ll let us know. And if you want to know more about our rating system just check out our explanation of what the ratings mean.

Adjusted Beer Ratings: The Up Elevator

  • Trappistes Rochefort 10 – went from a 9 to a 10. We weren’t going to give out ratings of perfect 10s until we had 100 beers. This one moved up the list, plain and simple.
  • Foothills Sexual Chocolate Imperial Stout – went from a 9 to a 10. Again, we always felt it would be a 10, we just needed to get to 100 before we could give it the true rating.
  • Duck Rabbit Baltic Porter – went from a 9 to a 10. This was the last of a small set of three beers that went from a 9 to a 10.
  • Paulaner Hefeweizen – went from a 7 to an 8. The more we tasted the Paulaner Hefeweizen the more we realized it was at the top of the hefe pack. And trust me when we say we drank a lot of it this summer.
  • St. Bernardus Abt 12 – went from a 7 to an 8. This one suffered a little bit from expectations going in to the initial rating. We were expecting more chocolate and coffee and were surprised by mostly dark fruits. After another one though we really began to appreciate it for what it was and realized it was in fact a solid 8. This has led us to a bit of a BeerFathers rule – we always try to buy two bottles of any given beer and we just drink the first one, then rate the second.

Adjusted Beer Ratings: The Down Elevator

  • Paulaner Salvator Double Bock – went from a 9 to an 8. We fell in love with this beer the moment we tasted it and still love it. But this was an early beer for us and we’ve tasted a lot since then. Love the double bock style, for sure. A solid 8, but not quite worth a 9.
  • Ayinger Jahrhundert Bier – went from a 9 to an 8. This is another beer we did early on that we liked a lot. We realized after multiple tastings since then that we went a little too high for a helles. It’s probably best in class for that style though.
  • Young’s Oatmeal Stout – went from an 8 to a 7. This is a good solid beer, but it’s another we did early on that was one of the first stouts we did. We realized we loved the stouts and this is a great one, just not quite worth an 8.
  • Flying Dog In Heat Wheat – went from an 8 to a 6. Don’t get us wrong, we really like the In Heat Wheat and it’s probably the beer that turned us into hefeweizen lovers. But we’ve done a lot of hefes since then and we started to realize that there were better ones, especially the ones from Germany. The In Heat Wheat lost a few points when we realized it didn’t hold up quite as well when it warmed.
  • Red Stripe – went from a 7 to a 5. We really dropped the ball on this one, probably our worst offense. There’s just no way a Red Stripe should have rated a 7. It’s a solid, middle of the road beer and we were temporarily blinded by the fact that this has become our go-to beer for BBQ because it has some nice molasses flavor to complement it. A hot day and a lot of BBQ make this beer seem a lot better, when stand alone it’s just a good middle of the pack beer.

Questions or comments on our adjustments? Just let us know below.

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Pilsner Urquell

By John & Dad on September 29, 2008 (56 Comments)

For this week’s Thursday Father and Son beer session we decided to try the Pilsner Urquell, which states right on the bottle that it is “The Original Pilsner.” This one is a favorite of Beer Love neighbor Jerry who sent over some great history on the beer.

For starters it’s brewed in the town of Plzen over in the Czech Republic. We’ll give you three guesses what they invented there. Because of it’s water source, Pilsner Urquell has been used throughout Europe by many people to help dissolve kidney stones and gall stones. The water source comes from the nearby city of Marianske Lazne (visit their official web site), which is a spa town where people go to drink the local spring water for it’s health benefits. Not just the plebians of the town, but world dignitaries, royalty from many countries and other famous people as well. The visits are actually doctor prescribed in many instances. The spa is actually the town’s main industry. Now for the beer – they say one Pilsner Urquell a day will do it to realize the health benefits. Note the “one” qualification there – everything in moderation here people. No other beer has this claim because of the water source.

Now on to the review. For our test we used, naturally, a pilsner glass. We got an initial beer temperature of 44.2 F and our 12 oz bottle sports a 4.4% ABV. Our initial pour gave us an average 1 1/4″ fizzy white head that left virtually no head lacing as it dissipated quickly. It’s got a medium carbonation and the body is a clear sparkling yellow/golden color. It looks like a textbook pilsner.

For the aromas we picked up a light biscuit (almost a sweet biscuit smell), citrus, grass, bread dough and some ginger. It’s quite a clean smell – very refreshing and crisp. Unfortunately the smell is the most intriguing part of the beer.

On the taste side we were able to note the light biscuit, grass and some light lemon. Not much complexity here – you pick up some hops and it’s kind of like a Heineken on the finish – somewhat skunky and also slightly metallic. This results in a strange disconnect from the aromas to the flavor. The malts thin out significantly and the hop bitters edge on in. The finish is very sharp.

For our initial flavor notes we get a light sweet and a very light bitter. The finish notes evolve to a light acidic and moderate bitter. The finish is average in length and it’s not a coating finish – one sip of water cleans it right out of your palate. The mouthfeel is watery and the tongue hit is right in the middle of your tongue. There’s no body lacing to speak of and on our malt to hop scale it comes in about a click and a half to the right of balanced on the hoppy side.

For our bottom line notes we get a yes to drinkable, yes to repeatable and yes to balance. This means a no to harmony, memorable, wow factor and unfortunately a no to buy again.

It’s a textbook session beer at 4.4% ABV and we feel like it should be done pretty cold to dull the taste out a bit. Maybe a thick walled cold, not frozen glass. It could be a good intro to a slightly hopped beer without a strong malt backbone for a craft beer newbie. We want to like it more because of the smell, but ultimately we’re just not big fans.

Pilsner Urquell Rating: 3 out of 10 (?)

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Bell’s Two Hearted Ale

By John & Dad on September 23, 2008 (No Comments)

It’s another Thursday beer review where Father and Son Beer Love get together, fire up the computer, video conference each other and have a beer. It’s a little known fact that this was actually Alexander Graham Bell’s vision when he invented the telephone in 1876.

Tonight’s review is the Bell’s Two Hearted Ale. Don’t be fooled by this one – it may be from Bell’s Brewery (which in fact was not invented by Alexander Graham Bell), but it’s not a dark beer. Bell’s has a bit of a reputation as a dark beer company, at least in our minds (see one of our all-time favorites – the Bell’s Expedition Stout). This one is actually an IPA – an India Pale Ale. If you need a little background on what an IPA is check out our review of the Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA where we go into the origins of the style. To show you what a great beer company Bell’s is, this non dark Two Hearted Ale comes in at #79 on the RateBeer.com Top 100 Best Beers in the World. So, yeah, Bell’s knows a thing or two about beer in general, not just the dark stuff.

For this review we used an English pint glass. We got an initial temperature of 54.3 F and the 12 oz bottle comes in at 7% ABV. The initial pour gave us a huge 3 inch foamy white head that left a good amount of lacing as it dissipated slowly. There’s a lively carbonation to the clear, sparkling amber/orange body. A beautiful looking beer.

The first whiff gives us a good medley of aromas – straw, citrus (grapefruit, lemon and orange), floral, grass, mint, apple, pear and white wine. A nice complexity and a nice balance. The taste heavily echoes some of the hop aromas – citrus (mostly the grapefruit) and grass and also adds a note of resin. It also adds a light toasted malt flavor for some balance. An interesting taste that is completely and utterly dominated by hops. When we finished and took a look at the hop section of our review form it was slammed full – we had 8 hop notes circled in total for the aroma and taste.

The initial flavor comes in as a moderate sweet and a light to moderate bitter. The finish flavor evolves to a light to moderate sweet and a heavy bitter. The finish length is long – maybe the longest finish we’ve ever done. It’s the finish that won’t die – a sip of water didn’t make the bitterness in the finish go away at all. The mouthfeel is oily, the tongue hit covers the whole tongue completely – front, middle and back. There is a fair amount of body lacing and on the patented malt to hop scale it comes in 3 clicks to the right of balanced on the hoppy side – one click away from the hoppiest mark we could put.

For our bottom line notes we marked a yes for drinkable, balance and memorable. We marked a no for repeatable (one was plenty for us), no for harmony, no for wow factor and no for buy again.

Now you might be saying – what is our major malfunction that we wouldn’t want to buy it again? It’s rated the 79th best beer in the world after all! Well, It goes way too far over to the hop side for us. We’re not anti-IPA, but we much prefer the Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA because it had a much better balance to it.

See, if you’re going to slam a beer full of hops you need a lot of malts to balance it out. There’s just not a lot of that in the Two Hearted Ale. Whatever malt sweetness there is in the beginning, the hops march in and just pound the sweet out of your mouth like all those drums in the opening ceremony of the 2008 Summer Olympics in China. You definitely feel that hop burn on your tongue – it reminds us a bit of our fated Ipswich Original Ale review – where we noted a burnt taste that we thought may in fact be the hops killing our taste buds. So yeah, it would be our contention that the hop shock factor is high.

Now even with all that said we can appreciate this beer for what it is. The Bell’s Two Hearted Ale makes a big statement. We love most of the Bell’s beers and they don’t half ass anything they do – this beer included. It’s probably a good example of the IPA style, but this may frighten a craft beer newbie away from ever doing another IPA. It would probably be better with food (which might be the only thing that would kill the finish) and it would likely be a great beer for a hophead. Others may want to proceed with caution.

Bell’s Two Hearted Ale Rating: 6 out of 10 (?)

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Michelob Amber Bock

By John & Dad on September 18, 2008 (29 Comments)

Our 100th beer review. To celebrate? We’ll have a beer.

We strategically made Michelob Amber Bock our 100th beer rating because for both Father and Son Beer Love, and a large number of our Beer Love friends, this was our breakout beer. By breakout beer we mean the one that got us over the rank domestic hump and into the realm of beers that actually have taste. We feel like Amber Bock is the perfect beer to introduce to friends who are wanting to (or who you want to) break out into craft beers for several reasons:

  • It’s available everywhere.
  • It doesn’t feature the sticker shock of some of our beloved high end craft brews.
  • It’s dark – there’s a stigma around dark beers for those not in the know, and a lot of the good craft beers are a bit darker than your normal American lagers.
  • It’s balanced – you can easily scare a newbie away with something too malty or too hoppy when their palate isn’t yet “beer sophisticated.”
  • It works with and without food.
  • Though it’s dark, it’s still a lager, which helps ease people over to “the dark side.” Lagers don’t tend to pack the punch of flavors that ales do, so we feel it bridges the gap well between light and refreshing lagers and rich and satisfying ales.

My first run in with Amber Bock came in the late 90s. I was living with my best friend Rusty at the time and one day I open the fridge to find Amber Bocks that he brought home. Several sessions of Mario Kart, Amber Bock and Chewy Chips Ahoy later it was official.

Fast forward to Son Beer Love’s wedding over 4 years ago, where we had a full keg of Amber Bock (as well as a keg of some other light beer, though we couldn’t tell you what it was). Best man Rusty never let the groom’s glass get anywhere close to empty all night. I don’t remember a lot from the latter part of the wedding, but I can tell you I woke up the next day and felt fantastic.

Little did I know that once I had left the reception the party continued. Father Beer Love and Father Beer Love In Law decided to fully enforce the “No Good Beer Left Behind” act of 2004 and decided that they had in fact prepared their whole lives for this moment – to float the keg of Amber Bock. Only the keg will know how many glasses they drank in an attempt to empty it (10? 15? 20?) because they sure don’t remember. A very patient and loving Mother Beer Love and Mother Beer Love In Law let them back into their homes in some instances as soon as the next day.

Now on to the rating.

Michelob Amber Bock sports a 5.2% ABV and each 12 oz bottle has 155 calories. We poured ours into an American pint glass and got a temperature of 42.6 F. The pour gave us an average 1 1/4″ fizzy off-white head that left virtually no lacing as it dissipated quickly. There was little carbonation and though the body is a deep amber, it is relatively clear and you can see through it.

The aromas are mostly malts – caramel, nutty, roasted malts – but there are traces of grass as well in the smell. The tastes echo the smells but add pine, brown sugar and a slight soy sauce to the fray. The initial flavor is a light sweet and light bitter. The finish flavor is a light to moderate bitter and a light saltiness. The finish is average in duration and the mouthfeel is dry. There’s no body lacing to speak of and on our patented malt to hop scale it comes in just about perfectly balanced.

For our bottom line we say yes to drinkable, repeatable and balanced. We say no to harmony and memorable. But we do give an emphatic yes to buy again.

It’s got more depth to it than other lagers, and we appreciate that. It is an Anheuser-Busch beer, but it’s really pretty great for an American lager. It doesn’t wow us like it first did so many years ago, but it’s still good and of course it’s a sentimental favorite. Mind you the beer hasn’t changed, our palates have.

This is a perfect example of a session beer – that is a beer you can drink many of in one sitting. Don’t let it get too warm while you’re drinking it and don’t store it too long before you drink it. Though it would be better as an ale, which could give it some more complexity and depth with maybe some dark fruits, it’s a perfectly satisfying beer. If you’re going to buy a 12 pack of something, this would have to be high on the list. It’s great cold and though we’re not big on frosty mugs, it might be well suited for this one. Smooth and drinkable, this will be an old friend you can call on at any time. Keep at least a 6 pack on hand for guests in an attempt to convert them into craft beer newbies. And then explain to them that though you had bought a 6 pack for them, you drank it. Then direct them to this web page and let them read why they should go buy their own 6 pack.

Happy 100 reviews beer lovers! Cheers and good beers to you and here’s to 100 more!

Michelob Amber Bock Rating: 5 out of 10 (?)

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99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall

By John on September 16, 2008 (No Comments)

We’re getting oh so close to our great fake milestone of 100 beers here at The BeerFathers that we can taste it. And you know what? It’s quite refreshing. Right now we’re sitting at 99 different and unique beers reviewed and rated and this week we’ll be unveiling our 100th beer.

100 beers. Arbitrary? Yes. But somehow it seems to have an air of legitimacy to it for some reason. Maybe it’s the triple digits thing, who knows? We always said in 5 years The BeerFathers family would be completely legitimate.

So about 100 – What could it be? Will it be special? Well, it will be very special to The BeerFathers household. And it’s one that’s requested and searched for quite frequently on the site. It’s one we’ve looked forward to posting for a long time. And it’s got one of the best write-ups we think we’ve ever done – lots of back story to it.

Stay tuned because 100 is coming!

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Shiner Bock

By John & Dad on September 15, 2008 (11 Comments)

Thursday means just two things: Must See TV (if this is the 1990s) and Father and Son Beer Love bringing you their beer review of the week. This week we hit the Spoetzl Brewery in Shiner, Texas for a little Shiner Bock action. We’ll talk in more detail in a future post about breakout beers, but just know Shiner Bock is one of those beers that can help you turn your friends into craft beer drinkers.

Before we jump into the meat of the review here are a few quick stats you need to know. Use these at your next party to make people think you’re a beer guru. Shiner Bock accounts for 80% of the beer made at the Spoetzl Brewery and it’s been brewed since 1913. It currently ships to 41 of the United States. Shiner Bock is the number one selling craft beer in Texas and is the number 6 selling craft beer in the US. To give you a feel for how a relatively large craft brewery runs, Spoetzl Brewery has about 50 to 60 employees and makes 5 beers years round along with 3 seasonals. Beer fact session over and out – on to the review.

We served up our Shiner Bock in an American pint glass and got a temperature of 41.9 F. The 12 ounce bottle comes in at a 4.4% ABV and we paid $7.79 for the six pack. The pour gave us an average 1 1/2″ fizzy off-white head that dissipated quickly and left virtually no head lacing in the process. There is a soft carbonation to the clear amber colored beer.

Our initial aromas came in with caramel, hay, honey, toasted malts, grass, yeast and brown sugar. Our initial flavors came in with just a light caramel, honey and toasted malts. The initial flavor notes are a light to moderate sweet and the finish moves to a light sweet, light bitter and light tart. The finish is short in duration, the mouthfeel is dry and the tongue hit is at the front of the tongue. There’s no body lacing to speak of and on our patented malt to hop scale it comes in about 1.5 clicks to the left of balanced on the malty side.

Bottom line notes give us 4 yeses and 3 nos – yes to drinkable, repeatable, balanced and buy again, no to harmony, memorable and wow factor.

Is it the greatest beer in the world? Not by a long shot. Is it a good middle of the pack beer? Yes. It’s not heavy, it’s got a nice amount of sweet to it (a little sweeter than an Amber Bock) and it’s very much a textbook session beer – that is a beer you can drink many of in one sitting without fear of waking up with marker drawings on your face.

Bonus – if you have a Saltgrass Steak House near you they make a Shiner Bock Beer Bread that you’ve got to try. It’s fantastic.

Don’t over think this beer people, just know that it’s a good beer to have during a football game (or any sporting event) and it’s eminently better than any of the usual rank domestics your friends might try to push on you. It’s good to go and it’s worth a 6 pack. Bring this to the next party and help some of your friends start to transition to better beer.

Shiner Bock Rating: 5 out of 10 (?)

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Entire Butt English Porter

By John & Dad on September 10, 2008 (1 Comment)

In our latest segment of the John and Dad Thursday night beer review, we get together for an Entire Butt English Porter from the Salopian Brewing Company in the UK. What’s the Entire Butt besides a great name and perhaps a description of what a guy likes most about his lady? Well it’s actually a style of beer. If you go back to the British brewing records from the 18th century (probably not available at your local library), you’ll find that the porter was a blend of a stale or soured old ale, a brown or pale new ale and a mild to weak ale which gave the world the first engineered beer commonly called the “Entire Butt” (Read more from the good folks over at Beer Advocate on the history of the English Porter).

There’s your “I learned something new today” nugget. Enjoy! For our review we used an English pint glass, of course. We got a starting beer temperature of 55 F, which is just about perfect for these English beers. This one rocks an ABV of 4.8% and the bottle volume is 500 ml or 16.9 oz for those who can’t or won’t read metrics.

Our initial pour gave us a large 3″ foamy light brown head that left a good amount of head lacing as it dissipated slowly. Not a lot of carbonation to speak of and the color was an opaque ruby brown. It looks black when you look at it but when you get it up to the light you can see a bit more clearly the true colour.

The aromas come in with chocolate, coffee, roasted malts and some light alcohol. Not too complex but those are some powerful malt aromas and you’re probably not going to get a lot of other subtle notes coming through. They put 14 different malts in this bad boy! The taste is strong on the coffee – almost a burnt taste like a Starbucks bean gone too long (well, I guess that’s a normal Starbucks bean). So that ramps up the taste to essentially an espresso along with some burnt, dark chocolate and a very light smoke. Again not overly complex, but all the flavors jive together really well for a pretty enjoyable taste that we put away surprisingly fast.

The initial flavor notes are a light to moderate sweet that evolves in the finish to a light sweet and light to moderate bitter. The finish is quite long and the mouthfeel is creamy and velvety smooth. The tongue hit is smack in the back of the tongue and there’s a fair amount of body lacing as you drink it. On our malt to hop scale it comes in really malty – there’s 14 malts after all – 3 clicks to the left of balanced on the malt side.

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

This is a really interesting beer. It’s very smooth and it’s not too dry and it’s not too sweet – it’s really our first session porter. While it’s not overly complex it’s very good – it’s a malty celebration in a bottle. We think it may actually be a good transition beer for a craft beer newbie wanting an introduction to porters – it’s the perfect size, has a pretty low ABV and really hums along. It’s not a stunner of a beer, it’s just a good drinking beer and we definitely recommend it.

Entire Butt English Porter Rating: 6 out of 10 (?)

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Young’s Double Chocolate Stout

By John & Dad on September 8, 2008 (18 Comments)

Father and Son Beer Love start each Thursday morning looking forward to Thursday night, which is when we have our weekly beer review. For this week’s review we each picked up a bottle of Young’s Double Chocolate Stout, actually listed on the bottle as Young’s Luxury Double Chocolate Stout. It’s brewed by Wells & Young Brewing Company over in the UK, the same company that brings us one of our other favorite stouts – Young’s Oatmeal Stout. The good news is this one is just as good, if not better, than it’s big brother.

It comes in a 500 ml (1 pint, 0.9 oz) bottle, and that’s a perfect size for this 5.2% ABV beer. For this test we used an English pint glass and got a temperature of 50.9 F. Our initial pour gave us a large 2 1/2″ foamy medium brown head that had a good amount of head lacing as it dissipated slowly. The color is a solid opaque black and we noted a little bit of carbonation.

The aromas come in as surprise – chocolate! Loads and loads of chocolate. There’s also lots of sweet malts. It smells like a great chocolate milk (maybe even a Yoo-hoo). We also get some notes of vanilla, milk, cream and as it warms there’s a hint of alcohol (interesting, considering the relatively average ABV). The taste gives you surprise – chocolate! Gobs and gobs of chocolate. We also get some notes of cream, milk and a touch of coffee. Not terribly complex, but what it does it does really well. The chocolate you get in the smell and taste isn’t really dark chocolate – more like a semi-sweet chocolate.

The initial flavor notes are a moderate sweet that continues on to the finish, where we also get a light bitter. The finish length is short, the mouthfeel is halfway between watery and creamy, the tongue hit is right in the middle of the tongue and there’s a good amount of body lacing. It’s a very clean finish – almost the cleanest finish of any stout we’ve had. On our patented malt to hop scale it comes in about 3 clicks to the left of balanced on the malty side – very malty, but not as malty as it gets. Full BeerFathers disclosure: we love the malts. We’re crazy about the malts.

On our bottom line notes we got a yes to drinkable (what’s one step better than yes? An emphatic yes!), repeatable, balance, harmony, memorable and buy again. The only no we got was for wow factor – we’ve had a better chocolate beer (see Foothills Sexual Chocolate).

Overall this beer has something great that not a lot of chocolate beers have – repeatability. There have been several other chocolate stouts that by the time we got to the end of them we hated. Not the case with Young’s Double Chocolate Stout. It’s sweet, but not too sweet (which is what we hit with a lot of the other chocolate stouts that we start to loathe). It’s definitely a great session beer.

This beer could be a great introduction to stouts for a beer newbie. It’s got a relatively low gravity, it’s not too dry and it’s not hard and complex like a lot of stouts. Father Beer Love called it a “semi-stout” which is a really great descriptive phrase for it. The other great thing about the Young’s Double Chocolate Stout is the drinkability. This is the quickest we’ve drunk any stout thus far. It would go great with vanilla ice cream, pound cake or strawberries (think lighter desserts than heavier). It’s a damn joy to drink and we drank the crap out of it – it’s a gulper! Pick up a few bottles of this next time you find it and you’ll be glad you did.

Young’s Double Chocolate Stout Rating: 8 out of 10 (?)

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