Sunday, March 10, 2013

Day 36 cont'd: Beers 38-43: Taster Flight at Mother Earth Brewing Co.

A circle of six beers from the fine brewers at Mother Earth Brewing Company in Vista, California. I've visited them one year before, and since, their recipes have only improved. The taster flight covers the spectrum of brews, and enjoyed with my weekend guest blogger, expert homebrewer and fellow beer aficionado Cristopher Spencer.

Mother Earth Brewing Company started out in a garage, and now specializes in supplying homebrewers with everything they need to create their own brews as well as providing an extremely popular tasting room in Vista, California.

Now, onto the beers!

Beer #38 - Rysing Tide Rye IPA

A delicious start - a hoppy sample with an amazingly fruity aroma. Honey is used to balance out the hoppiness of an already fairly decent IPA, but the sweetness is just an undertone to the hops. This was my favorite beer of the night and a creative turn on the usual India Pale Ale.

Cris' Opinion: "Fave as well. And I said it first, Travis copied me. Incredibly tasty beer."

Beer #39 - Red Dog Rye Extra Pale Ale

Named for their four-legged mascot Cody, Red Dog Rye brings a citrusy hops flavor and is one of the easiest drinking "extra" pales I've ever had. Extra Pale Ales means extra pale, with less bitterness, (like Strong Pale Ales, which can have a higher bitterness and/or alcohol rating.) Red Dog wasn't as citrusy as Hazed & Infused, so with an orange highlight, the light bitterness works to flavor the beer as opposed to being too basic. It's simple done well.

Cris' Opinion: "*Tilts hand back and forth in air* Ehhhhhhhhhhh." (Travis: "That's not an opinion." - Cris: "Eh.")

Beer #40 - Lil Tart Belgiweizen

The first disappointment, Lil Tart was an odd experiment, rare for Mother Earth, who has built a reputation on taking old standard recipes and perfecting them. The sweetness was stronger than any citrus tart and felt like two separate beers simply poured into the same glass. Uncomplicated Belgian beers tend to fail in a artificial medicine sweetness and failed Hefeweizens have a similar sweetness but tend to balance it out with some tart flavors. Lil Tart may win over extreme fans of the two styles of beers, but with so many better options out there, this one could use a few more tweaks to the recipe.

Cris' Opinion: "In the interest of those that actually like this type of beer, they would like it more than me. ... I did not like it."

Beer #41 - Pin Up Pale Ale

Pin Up is a true So Cal Pale Ale, and its ideal balance of malts and bitterness could make it the start of an entirely new category of Pale Ales. The alcohol and bitterness ratings aren't too high, so it doesn't qualify as an IPA, and it combines a sweet fruity aroma with a taste of caramel-wrapped hops. Pin Up was the first beer bottled by Mother Earth and the complexity of the taste show this is a recipe that has been near-perfected over time.

Cris' Opinion: "Outside of my style again, but not a bad beer."

Beer #42 - rEvolution Chocolate Amber Ale

For an amber, rEvolution is incredibly dark ale and has lingering stout-styles due to the chocolate malts added into the mix. It's not nearly as heavy as most chocolate flavored beers, and finishes off with a roasted flavor that lingers a bit. Malts can be roasted and blackened much like roasted coffee beans and contributes to that almost-smoky aftertaste dependent on the malts used. rEvolution is a delightful beer that's dark without being too dark.

Cris' Opinion: "What makes stouts good in ale form. Mmm. Good beer."

Beer #43 - Roundabout Chocolate Oatmeal Stout

An Oatmeal Stout for the masses! Roundabout isn't too strong of a stout and its light coffee taste make it much more palatable for those that aren't too overly fond of heavy stouts. It still has enough to win over most stout fans with some oatmeal flavor and chocolate malts similar to those in rEvolution. Roundabout definitely qualifies for those beers that are great gateway brews for drinkers that want to try new styles.

Cris' Opinion: "Loved it. No, wait, Loooooooved it. Needs that extra emphasis."

Rysing Tide Rye IPA
Alcohol Rating: 7.3%
Class: India Pale Ale
Rating: 9 out of 10

Red Dog Rye Extra Pale Ale
Alcohol Rating: 5.7%
Class: Extra Pale Ale
Rating: 8 out of 10

Lil Tart Belgiweizen
Alcohol Rating: 5.4%
Class: Belgian-Style Hefeweizen
Rating: 2 out of 10

Pin Up Pale Ale
Alcohol Rating: 5.6%
Class: Pale Ale
Rating: 8 out of 10

rEvolution Chocolate Amber Ale
Alcohol Rating: 5.7%
Class: Amber Ale
Rating: 7 out of 10

Roundabout Chocolate Oatmeal Stout
Alcohol Rating: 6.1%
Class: Oatmeal Stout
Rating: 6.5 out of 10

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Day 36 - The First Beer of Many!...starting Last Night

So the mass drinking of beers began last night and I couldn't be happier to be back stateside. Enjoying some excellent Mexican fare at SeƱor Grubby's of Carlsbad, the first beer is a new one for me, and a popular ale out of Colorado.

Beer #37 - Boulder Beer Hazed & Infused

Proper IPA's and American Pale Ales are hard to come by in the east and I may drown myself in them during my visit to So Cal, and apart from select breweries in San Diego, the best place to obtain these are microbreweries from Colorado. (Please be advised I am not condoning drowning yourself in IPA's. That would be a sheer waste of a large amount of IPA.)

Hazed & Infused is a lightly hoppy ale with a bit of citrus, a beer that no doubt is very popular for those reasons. It didn't have the orange punch of a beer like Shock Top, but was a light, almost watered down version of a normal hoppy pale ale.

This is a beer that matched perfectly with carne asada and black beans, easy drinking and ultimately summery. Fit that even though it wasn't a local San Diego beer, between the bowl of rice, peppers and beans and the pint of ale, it truly felt I was back in California.

(Note from Travis to Travis: Geez, man, wipe the sentimentality out of your eye, this is a beer blog!)

Boulder Beer Hazed & Infused
Boulder Beer Company, Boulder, Colorado, USA
Alcohol Rating: 4.85%
Class: American Pale Ale
Rating: 7 out of 10
Quote: "I'm going to have to open my own brewery and taco shop in Ottawa."

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Day 35 - Laptop Mishaps and International Travel

The great benefit of beer is that it can an incredibly soothing draught when disaster strikes. This was a heavy task for the six pack of Dieu du Ciel!'s Rescousse German-style Red, but it handled it bravely and without fear. Unlike me and my tear-soaked rants over a laptop that refused to start. So as much as I'd love to pump my fist a la success kid, my laptop is out and unconscious and my posts are now coming from a stateside computer. That's right, kiddos, I'm back in the U.S. and ready to dive into the best beers Southern California has to offer.

And so, the great beer blog will continue, starting Saturday with an all-weekend beer tasting live blog and beer-tweet as myself and guests will be trying out as many beers as we can get our hands on! These beers will include beers local to the San Diego area and specialty brews brought over from Quebec. Many have received the highest ratings on RateBeer and BeerAdvocate, others are just simply (hopefully) delicious!

So check back Saturday, March 9, follow @NotEnoughBeer on Twitter and check this blog as we continue to quest for over a hundred beers in a hundred days!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Day 30: The Hiatus Is Over! - Beers 33-36 St. Ambroise Taster Pack

After a brief hiatus and recovery from assorted nights of drinking, the beer blog is back and running again! And to keep the momentum shifted towards completing the required number and destroying the limp withered coffee filter I call a liver, I've opted to sample the four beers of St. Ambroise's special La Grande Selection pack. All low ABV's and easy drinking, they're meant to supply four varying types of beer for picky drinkers. With a combination of Apricots, Maple Syrup, Ultra-Blonde and a standard Pale Ale, the variety requirement is definitely covered. So let's dive in!

Beer #33 - St. Ambroise Erable

Astonishing that I've been in Canada this long and have yet to try a Maple Syrup Ale on my 100 beers run. I've previously sampled a Maple Cream Ale at Brutopia in Montreal, but that was in years past, so it's time to jump on the stereotypical Canadian dogsled and try Erable by McAuslan Brewing Co.

Erable is maple syrup in a bottle. It almost tastes of a lower grade carbonated maple syrup in total liquid form with a few hints of quote-unquote beer flavor. This is a beer you have to try once, though you may never drink it again. For those that have seen the film Super Troopers, and were envious of the scene where two troopers chugged bottles of maple syrup, this is your chance to emulate them and get buzzed at the same time. Other than that, it's a great unique taste, but definitely lacks repeat value.

St. Ambroise Erable
McAuslan Breweries, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Alcohol Rating: 4.5%
Class: Amber Ale
Rating: 4 out of 10
Quote: "I will never buy this again, apart from having it with pancakes at brunch, and cooking up maple sausages in know what, I may buy this again."

Beer #34 - St. Ambroise Apricot Wheat Ale

I should preface this by saying I am in no way a fan of fruit beer. If you like banana mango carbonated ales, then more power to you, but to me, they've just never clicked. Fruit beers couple with golden lagers and lighter beers as fantastic summer fare, and seen off-putting during colder times. St. Ambroise's Apricot Wheat Ale certainly fits the bill of proper summer fruity fare, but I'll try not to hold that against it.

The apricot flavor came through on most sips, a bittersweet fruit taste that threatened to overwhelm the beer, but was never too obnoxious. It seemed to hold back from completely being a fruit beer and likely kept the "wheat" in the title so drinkers wouldn't be convinced it was a failure for not tasting completely like apricots. (Known in the breakfast cereal circles as "Apple Jacks Syndrome"). St. Ambroise's apricot fare is definitely a fruit beer for those that like fruit beer, but don't love it. There's no solid jump to either side of fruit fare or wheat ale, and all in all, finishes as an average fruity beer.

St. Ambroise Apricot Wheat Ale
McAuslan Breweries, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Alcohol Rating: 5.0%
Class: Fruit Beer
Rating: 4 out of 10
Quote: "Just give me a Fanta and a proper ale. Fruit beers....I'll never understand them."

Beer #35 - St. Ambroise Pale Ale

Just a solid, malty, better than decent tasting beer. Back in the 18th century, pale ales were created when malts for beers were dried with coke, a coal-based fuel, to give it a fainter color (the "pale") and a more solid malty and hoppy taste (the "ale"). Dry roasting malts allows for the hops to break through in strong force (such as with IPA's) or to try to capture the grainy, wheaty taste of other malts (like with Amber Ales).

St. Ambroise Pale Ale is a no-frills and strong representation of pale ale at its finest. The smell is sweeter than the beer itself, and it presents a mix of malts and hops so a balance between the butterscotch and caramel malt flavor and just slightly bitter hops create a unique taste. I like this much more than I expected I would, and have to recommend it despite any unique hook or regular drinkability. St. Ambroise's Pale Ale is a beer done right, nailing the defining factors of its namesake while still offering something just unique enough to make it special.

St. Ambroise Pale Ale
McAuslan Breweries, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Alcohol Rating: 5.0%
Class: Pale Ale
Rating: 8 out of 10
Quote: "Beeeeeeeeeeerrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr! (This quote added out of the joy of recognizing a beer that tastes like,"

Beer #36 - St. Ambroise Griffon Extra Blonde Ale

Griffon surprised me as to its smoothness and drinkability. Most blonde ales can come off as bland attempts to highlight a wheat or malty taste that hits only one note. Griffon has a universal taste that stays a bit unique while is general enough to appeal to a wide audience. It's not sharp by any  means and even has a slight fruity taste and aroma to it, though all that's noticed is the smoothness of the malts, almost like an amber ale or golden lager.

The only issue is that since it doesn't break out with any particular flavor, it doesn't stand out for any reason. Griffon is a beer that would make a round of beer pong go exceptionally well, taking the sting out of drinking games with its soft flavor and ease of drinking. While it doesn't rise to levels of artistic flavor, it's a solid showing from St. Ambroise and doesn't pretend to be anything above its station; a delicious, easy-drinking beer.

St. Ambroise Griffon Extra Blonde Ale
McAuslan Breweries, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Alcohol Rating: 5.0%
Class: Blonde Ale
Rating: 7 out of 10
Quote: "I know chugging beers isn't blog-friendly, but I could chug this beer. Do you dare me to chug this beer? Bah, I'll do it anyways!"

Final Note: St. Ambroise's La Grande Selection is definitely worth picking up, at least once. You've got two beers that are unique enough to warrant a one-time tasting and two others that will please any beer drinker, whether they are the picky beer snob or no-frills beer enthusiast.