Beer Review: New Belgium Dig

New Belgium is responsible for the uber-popular Fat Tire. This is their Spring seasonal called Dig. It’s an American Pale Ale which is a style I have been digging (get it?) lately so I decided to pick up a bottle. I love the color and the aroma is big fruity hops. So is the taste with a very pleasant bitterness. What follows is my Beer Advocate review. It averaged out to a 4/5.

A: Brilliant copper color with a nice light head. It doesn’t last long but by the time I finished it I had plenty of lacing.  4.0

S: I get lots of fruit on the first sniff. Grapefruit and apricot is at the front. Then I get the fruit mixed with malt in the background.  4.0

T: Bitter fruity hops. Quite a bit of bitterness here but it’s very pleasant and mixes well with the other flavors. The fruits in the smell are just as nice in the taste.  4.0

M: The mouthfeel is nice with a decent amount of carbonation. I enjoyed letting it linger on my tongue.  4.0

O: This is one of my new favorites. With the “mainstreamification” of Fat Tire I tend to forget that New Belgium does a lot of great beers. I’ll definitely be reaching for this beer again. It’s one of the best examples of a pleasantly bitter beer I’ve had since I started this “enjoying my beer” thing.  4.0

Beer Review: Sam Adams Coastal Wheat

Sam Adams is where it all kind of started for me. Sam Adams Light was the first beer I deemed “not gross” and could drink more than one in a sitting. It was the first beer I knew I could pick up a six pack of and bring to a party with me. While for the most part Sam Adams has fallen out of favor with most craft beer snobs I couldn’t resist trying one of their “brewmaster” beers. Coastal Wheat is decent, but in the end not something I would really reach for and I tend to enjoy wheat beers. Drinking one on a hot Summer day might be refreshing but I wouldn’t pick this up for my next beach party. Which I’m sure I’ll be having this Summer.

Beer Advocate Review:

A: Pours Yellow, hazy, exactly what I wanted it to look like.  3.5

S: Not much smell to be had. I got a small whiff of the lemon but subsequent sniffs came up dry.  2.5

T: A little sour, no bitterness. As it warmed up the wheat came forward. The lemon was pleasant and not fakey like I believed it would be.  3.0

M: Felt lots of carbonation on my back teeth. Very thin.  3.0

O: This would be very good on a hot day, but I could only drink one and it isn’t something I would really reach for over other beers. Pleasant enough but nothing special.  3.0

BA turned this into a 2.93/5

Beer Reviews Are Coming!

So I’ve decided that I want to write reviews of the beers I’ve been trying lately. I’ll be using the Beer Advocate method of beer review. Rating Appearance, Smell, Taste, Mouthfeel, and an Overall score using a scale that goes 1-5 with half points allowed. I’ll be posting these first on BA but then do an expanded version here on the site. BA takes your scores you give the beer and uses some sort of weird weighted system that I don’t understand to give your beer rating a final score. The first beer up will be Sam Adams Coastal Wheat. I’ll have it up before the day is out.

Mini Chicago Beer Adventure

I didn’t touch alcohol until well after I turned 21 and was under the impression for a very very long time that all beer “tasted like piss”. I tried really hard to like beer because it was cheap and it was what everyone else was drinking. So I tried a long line of beers trying to find one I truly enjoyed drinking. About five years ago that was Sam Adams Light. Somehow over the course of doing research on craft and micro brews I stumbled upon Goose Island. I tried Goose Island 312 and it quickly became my favorite beer. From then on I was content to live in a world where I was drinking the tastiest, trendiest beer and that beer was 312.

Last March Goose Island was bought by Anheuser Busch and a side of the craft beer world I had never seen before came out of the woodwork to spout some of the most insane hateful shit I had ever read. This lead me to do some research. If Goose Island wasn’t the tiniest of the tiny brewers, then who was? One brewery in particular caught my eye and that was Half Acre here in Chicago. A week or so later I stumbled upon cans of Gossamer Golden Ale at the local Whole Foods. I cracked open the can, poured it into one of my beer glasses and took a sip. I was blown away, there was flavor to this beer like I had never experienced before. By the end of the glass I had cracked open another can and was declaring it my new favorite.

I then read online that production at Half Acre wasn’t able to keep up with demand and the beer was going to be scarce and possibly only able to be found in the city limits of Chicago. For months I scoured all the local high end liquor stores looking for more Gossamer, but alas none was to be found. Then in November Half Acre mysteriously reappeared at Whole Foods and all was well. But something was bugging me. Half Acre’s brewery was so close to my house, why hadn’t I just driven out there and gotten some fresh from the tap Gossamer Golden Ale?

The week before New Year’s Eve the stars aligned. Half Acre was brewing up a batch of Callow Knife beer special for NYE weekend and it sounded absolutely delicious. I got to my destination early and pulled up Google Maps. It turned out the brewery was less than a half mile away ON THE SAME STREET I WAS STANDING ON! So me and my friend Cliff (who doesn’t even drink) made the just over quarter mile trek to Half Acre. I bought my growler and walked it back to my car. On New Year’s Eve I cracked it open and fell in love all over again with a Half Acre beer.

My weekends usually consist of me doing household chores and playing video games and quite frankly I was sick of it. I decided I was going to have a mini Chicago beer adventure. Well…..I had to be in the city anyway and all this stuff was within 3 miles of each other so….again I got lucky. I started off by having lunch at the Wriglyville Goose Island. My beer with lunch was Mild Winter. Now I’ve had Mild Winter from the bottle and it’s great. I’ve had it form the tap at bars and it was really good, but from Goose Island it was a whole different beast. It tasted much more smooth than any other glass of Mild Winter I have ever had with the rye bread flavors being a bit subdued. On the food side of the equation I had the BBQ Pulled Pork sandwich and while the meat was pretty average the Honker’s Ale BBQ sauce was outstanding. My wife who could write a BBQ sauce blog like I could write a video game blog even said it might be her favorite sauce ever. I suggest asking for a side of it and some fries.

I left with a growler of 312 and my first glass out of the growler was a tad disappointing it had a weird funkiness to it. However I poured myself a second glass and it was much better. I’m starting to wonder if the first glass wasn’t dirty. Once again straight from the brewery beer > out of a bottle or even away from the brewery. The 312 was fresh and made me remember why it was my favorite for so long.

After that we drove down the road to Half Acre and much to my amazement Callow Knife was still being poured! I expected to leave with a growler of Gossamer or even Daisy Cutter but I quickly handed over my growler to have it filled with the Knife. I cracked it open Sunday and it was even better than I remember. I’m thinking of heading down there in a couple days just to get a refill for Super Bowl Sunday The Big Game.

If you have slightly more than a passing interest in beer (as in you drink it because you like the way it tastes, not to get drunk) I urge you to check out what small breweries might be in your area. Or try something different next time you’re at the liquor store, might I suggest the now practically nationwide Goose Island. And if you need any advice or help, I am definitely willing to lend a hand. Now if only someone could help me get my hands on a Bourbon County Coffee Stout….

My Favorite Music In 2011

Normally I would tell you what my favorite album of the year was, but really it was more about my favorite phenomenon of the year. Anyone who knows me even casually could guess that I’m talking about Odd Future. If you held a gun to my head and made me pick my favorite album it was Goblin by Tyler, the Creator. But every single thing that Odd Future put out this year is worth talking about. Domo Genesis’ Under the Influence mixtape, Mike G’s Award Tour EP, and the absolutely breathtaking Purple Naked Ladies by The Internet.

Tyler, the Creator – Goblin (XL Recordings)

Goblin, the “Empire Strikes Back” of the three part narrative that began with 2009’s Bastard and will conclude with this year’s Wolf is an absolutely dizzying bloated album. It’s well over an hour long, picks up right where Bastard left off, and ends with some of the most batshit insanity you’ll ever hear on an album. Yet if you’re invested it’s by far one of the most creative and refreshing pieces of music put out in 2011. By far and away Goblin is not for everyone (anyone?) but if you can penetrate the layer of insanity that surrounds it you will be rewarded.

The Internet – Purple Naked Ladies (Odd Future Records)

While it doesn’t get a physical release until next week The Internet’s debut album has been available digitally since a few days before Christmas. Forget about the fact that this album shows just how scary talented the members of Odd Future are and revel in the fact that this is just a great fucked up R&B album. It’s incredible that a bunch of teenagers can take a genre and turn it completely on its head. Drake wouldn’t dare make an album that sounded like this. Usher would never come near this level of genius and this is only their first album.

Frank Ocean – Nostalgia/Ultra (Self Released)

Before you heard his debut album you already heard Frank Ocean’s songs. He wrote for Justin Bieber, John Legend, and many other famous singers, but in his spare time he was quietly toiling away on his solo debut. Once he turned it in to Def Jam things went south. It had too many samples on it, it was too weird, maybe there was no big hit. So his friends in Odd Future said, fuck it, do what we do and just give it away. Needless to say the rest is history. It was downloaded hundreds of thousands of times and suddenly Mr. Ocean was back in Def Jam’s good graces. He ended up writing songs for Nas and Beyonce, and most famously appeared on not 1 but 2 tracks on Watch the Throne. Nostalgia/Ultra does not come easy and you will wonder just what the hell is going on, but you will find favorite tracks and then you’ll listen to the track after that until you have fallen in love with the whole album. All that’s left is to wonder why you can’t buy it.

Jay Z & Kanye West – Watch the Throne (Def Jam)

It’s not perfect, but it is cray.

Childish Gambino – Camp (Glassnote Records)

I don’t know what it is about this album that bugs me so much. Too polished? Too clever for its own good? It tires too hard? Still the good outweighs the bad and it has definitely grown on me. You could do a lot worse, I just hope Gambino does a lot better next time out.

Moving Mountains – Waves (Triple Crown Records)

Moving Mountains has always been on my radar, and I liked them well enough, but this feels like their first true album. In fact it is. They have only released EPs before. The album is heavy and beautiful like the best Underoath songs but with a pop-rock feel that makes it very accessible. It’s just a good album by a good band. Too bad no one is paying attention. They totally stole the show at last year’s Warped Tour but were playing to MAYBE 40 people. If there was any band that needed saving in 2012 it’s Moving Mountains.

Into It. Over It. – Proper (No Sleep Records)

Chicago’s Into It. Over It. was always pitched to me as “a guy with an acoustic guitar sings heartfelt songs”. I’m kind of over that right now, so when Proper was announced I didn’t think much of it. Then someone told me that this album was with a full band and I gave it a listen. Well, I’m a dummy because this album is absolutely fantastic. It’s a very 2012 take on pop-punk. It tickles the nostalgia centers of my brain while also satisfying my craving for something new. If you were disappointed by the new Blink-182 album give this a shot.

Wilco – The Whole Love (dBpm/Epitaph)

Wilco can do no wrong.

Other albums worth noting are the spectacular Get Up Kids comeback album “There are Rules”, Touche Amore’s “Parting the Sea Between Brightness and Me”, La Dispute’s “Wildlife”, Thursday’s “No Devolucion”, and The Wonder Year’s “Suburbia I’ve Given You All and Now I’m Nothing”

To hear songs from these albums and more check out my Best of 2011 playlist on Spotify.