Jul 25, 2012

Fruit Beers, Are they all bad???

OK, lately I’ve been thinking I need to break out of my comfort zone, and stretch my interests and outlooks a bit. In all aspects of my life, not just beer. This however, being a beer blog, I figure I will keep the content to mostly beer related topics.

That being said, there is one area of the beer world I don’t really enjoy, at least I haven’t yet, and that is fruit beer. Now, this may have to do with the sort of philosophical aspect of adding fruit to beer. I am somewhat of a purest with a lot of things. I drink my coffee black, I don’t add sauce to a lot of things etc. I like to taste what I am eating, if I have to pile a ton of crap on top of something, or in something to enjoy it, well, that to me means I don’t like it in the first place, so why bother. Of course, something’s just go better when paired up with something. I mean, I’m not going to sit down and eat a bowl of just pasta. Also, sometimes adding additional flavors or something to whatever it is you are enjoying, makes it all that much more enjoyable. I don’t think anyone would argue vanilla ice cream doesn’t taste good, but add chocolate sauce, or hot fudge, you see what I am getting at.

So, I use to think, if you have to add fruit to beer to make it taste good, then the beer doesn’t taste good to being with, and you should try to make the beer better, without hiding behind some fruit. However, now, I think this is short sighted and frankly a stupid way of thinking. If you can take a great beer, and by adding flavor, whatever that flavor may be, and make it even better, or at least equally enjoyable, I see no harm in that, and fact, only expands our opportunities to enjoy as much out of beer as we can. After I thought about it, I recall having some AMAZING pumpkin flavored beer. Four Peaks Pumpkin Porter and BJ’s Pumpkin Ale come to mind.

So, with a new attitude, and renewed outlook on life (at least small aspects of), I decided to break out of paradigm, and jump into something up until now, had limited and not very good opinions of. So, I grabbed a verity of fruit beers from my local Total Wine, and my wife and I sat down one evening, opened our minds, and prepared to enjoy a verity of fruit beers I had selected. Here are my thoughts on the 6 beers we tried; in the order we tried them.

Orange Blossom Ale, Indian Wells Brewing Company, Inyokern, California (abv ?)

It started off pretty good. Poured it out, looked a sort of golden, hazy, orange color, as one would expect from an orange flavored beer. The smell made me nervous. Kind of smelled like someone poured Sunkist orange soda and cheap beer all over the kitchen floor, and left it there on the hottest day of the year. The taste actually wasn’t as bad as I was expecting from the smell. The problem was, there was very little flavor at all. Like someone took the aforementioned Sunkist soda, watered it down 50/50 with tap water, then mixed it with the aforementioned cheap beer at about a 70/30 ratio. Very watery taste, not good, not good at all, OK, NEXT!

Watermelon Ale, from The Phoenix Ale Brewery, Phoenix, AZ (4.8% Abv)

I checked this one out on beer advocate, and was surprised it rated so high. There are limited reviews, by all scored it in the high 3’s, even 4’s (out of 5). I scored it a 2.65. I liked the idea of this beer, I just think the follow through was lacking. Not many flavors at all, some watermelon flavor, but light, which is fine, but there aren’t a lot of other flavors to back it up. Sort of like a light lager, with some watermelon flavor. Pretty unexciting, this tasting is not off to a good start!

Festina Peche, Dogfish Head, Milton De (abv 4.5%)

OK, we’re getting better. This isn’t what you would expect from a typical fruit beer. It’s not “fruity” or overly sweet. In fact, this is more sour, but in a good way. The peach flavor is there, tart and easy to detect, but not pronounced. This is a refreshing beer. I actually liked this one a quite a bit. OK, so maybe these fruit beers aren’t so bad!

Summer Shandy, Leinenkugel Brewing Company Chippewa Falls, WI (abv 4.2%)

If you want to know what this beer tastes like, all you have to do is this. Wash your dishes with some dollar store lemon scented dish soap. When you are down, take the dirty dish water, and mix it say, 60/40 with any cheap beer, doesn’t matter what kind, Bud Light, Molson, Colt 45, something like that. That will give you a pretty good idea of what this abomination tastes like. Now, let me say this, I like Leinenkugels, quite a bit in fact. I have had some great beer by them (Big Eddy RIS is awesome!), but man, what the hell were they thinking? This just might be the second worst beer I have ever tasted (Bud Light Chaldea still holds that dubious distinction). OK, so my faith in Fruit beers has been shaken back to reality.

Wild Raspberry Ale, Great Divide Brewing, Denver Co, ( abv 5.6%)

OK, this one wasn’t too bad. Then again, I could have been drinking 3 day old milk and enjoyed it after that last beer. However, this one was decent, not what I would consider great, but I enjoyed it. It poured a sort of ruby/purple color, which interested me. Smelled like raspberry jam mixed with beer. The taste was good, I was little disappointed it didn’t have a stronger flavor. Both the raspberry and beer flavors were muted, someone lacking. It was an enjoyable beer, but again, not something I would say was great. Very middle of the road.

Wild Blueberry Ale, Sea Dog, Bangor Maine (abv 4.6%)

OK, maybe I am partial to all things Maine (it’s my home state), maybe it’s because blueberries are one of my favorite fruits, or maybe it’s because this one was just good. I enjoyed it. Of all the beers we tried, this one had the most “beer” flavor. This one actually tasted like it was actually brewed WITH blueberries. The rest of them (with the exception of the Festina Peache) tasted like beer that had fruit flavor added as an afterthought. The blueberry was very noticeable, in both the aroma, and the taste. It had a real ripe, fresh quality to it as well. Very enjoyable!

OK, so, what did I learn from this exercise in “life course deviation”?

1.) Its fun and exciting to try new things. I mean, I’m not ready to head to a nude beach, or attend an Art Film Festival, but you know what I mean.

2.) Not all fruit beer is bad!

3.) If the label said “Summer Shandy”, just drink some watery lemon dish soap, and save yourself a hangover.

I can say, with the exception of Summer Shandy, and Orange Blossom, I would drink all these beers again. I may not seek them out, or pay for them, but when handed a Watermelon Ale, or Blueberry Ale, I will gladly accept it with graciousness, and appreciation, and drink it. Its summer, and what better time to enjoy a beer with a little fruit! So, I would suggest, take a little time out of your busy summer schedule, and schedule an evening or two to enjoy one or two fruity beers. You may find one you like!

If you have a fruit beer you like, and you think I might enjoy, by all means, let me know, and I will give it a try. If I can’t get it in Arizona, and you really want me to try one, let me know, I’ll drop you my address, and you can send it to me, and I will happily send you a fine Arizona beer in return for your efforts.

Bottoms up my friends

The Beer Czar

Jul 19, 2012

Welcome to LA Steve Nash!

I am not a basketball fan, at all. My daughter Jordan, is fast becoming a huge one (she is a Miami Heat fan however, don't ask!). I do however follow the Celtics and the Suns to some extent, and want to see both teams doing well. On that note, our beloved Phoenix Suns recently traded one of the most beloved Suns ever to put on a purple and orange Jersey, Mr Steve Nash, to the much hated rivals in LA, the Lakers. Obviously, and for very good reason, LA fans are excited about this. Recently while driving down the freeway, some fans got to express that gratitude by giving Mr Nash a beer, without stopping! Pretty funny video, check it out below....

A few of my thoughts on this video;

1.) I was actually surprised to realize that Keystone is still around, and even more shocked to find out someone is still actually buying it (and seemingly enjoying it, maybe a little too much)

2.) Welcoming someone to your city by giving them a Keystone (light no less)? Isn't that like welcoming someone into your home by kicking them in the nuts? I think I would rather get kicked in the nuts actually.

Regardless, its a fun video, and pretty cool, and I wanted to share it with you!

Bottoms Up my Friends
The Beer Czar

Jul 17, 2012

Cool Beer Website....

Occasional, I like to share some new ( to me anyway), or intreasting, informative beer webiste I tend to either stumble accross, or have someone share with me (the later is the case this time, thanks Chris E).


This website called "Beer Street Journal" is a great site to stay on top of, or learn about new brews coming out, as well as some of the latest brewery news, or other informative articles. So, I know its not much, I wanted to share with you all. Enjoy, bottoms up my friends!

Jul 9, 2012

Beer in Cans, its OK, really, it is!

OK, this is something that has sort of bothered me for a while now, but lately, I am getting a lot of "comments" regarding beer in cans, so I thought I would make my feelings known on the issue.

Bottles vs Cans?
I've heard a lot of people making comments, discounting beer in cans, completely! Most simply say "beer from cans tastes like metal" Really? No it doesn't, I promise you. Let me ask you this, do you say that about draft beer as well? Because, NEWS FLASH, that draft beer you are drinking could have come from a keg made from aluminum as well, and I have never heard anyone complain about their draft beer tasting like metal (as a reader pointed out, some kegs are also made of stainless steel, either way, both are metal, kegs are not made of glass, thank you Hughes!). Truth is, the beer never even makes contact with the aluminum, thanks to a synthetic lining that has been gracing the inside of your hated beer can since, oh, before WWII! (1935 to be exact!). Truth it, the "metal" taste, its all in your head, I promise.

To try and prove this, I've done little "experiments on friends. I've taken beers available in both bottles and cans, and had them do a blind taste taste. I would pour it in two cups, and ask them to tell me which one was the canned, and which was the bottle. As you would expect, they were only ever correct about 50% of the time, which, you could chalk up to just a lucky guess. So, I would take it further. I would give them each a cup, and tell them this is the can, and this is the bottle (however, I would tell them incorrectly, telling them the bottled beer was the canned, and vice verse), and almost every time, they would tell me the one they thought was the bottled beer tasted better (see, all in your head). Next, I didn't tell them which was which, and ask them to pick the best beer, 3 out of 4 times, they would tell me the canned beer was better. So, no matter what, no one will ever convince me that canned beer is worse then bottled. If there is a differance in taste, canned beer is better, and here is why....

One of my favorite beers, and it comes in a can!
Cans are actually a better way to store beer. They are completely air tight, no chance of the cap leaking, or oxidizing, and rusting. Also, one of beers biggest enemies is light, and cans let absolutely ZERO light in. Bottles let in some light, depending on the color of the bottle, that is why brown bottles are best. (the other, and probably dumbest thing people will tell me "I only drink beer from green bottles" O really, why is that, you like that awful skunk flavor?).

Another thing people say is, bottles keep my beer cold longer then cans do. Well, this is certianly the case, all I can say is, if you are drinking beer directly from the bottle or can, you aren't completely tasting the beer anyway, since you can't completely take in the aroma of the beer drinking right from the bottle or can anyway.

There are many other advantages to cans as well. They are cheaper, lighter (making them cheaper to ship), canning lines are faster then bottling lines, as well as less expensive, easier to open (don't need a can opener)...you get the point.

So please, turning up your nose at canned beer, is really just ignorant, and snobbish (that is my opinion). I challenge you to go out, and try a few craft beers in cans, you will be pleasantly surprised. More and more craft brewers are making their beer available in cans, most notable, Sierra Navada. Some, like Oskar Blues beers are only available in cans, and I have to tell you, their Ten Fidy Stout (at 10.5% abv) is one of the best Russian Imperial Stouts on the market, bottle or can!

So lets stop all this "cans are bad" bull, and get these false ideas out of our heads, and start loving beer for whats inside the can or bottle, and not what it comes it, I assure you, you will not be disappointed!

If you do try some beer in cans, and you are surprised by the results, please, let me know, I would love to hear your story!

Bottoms up my friends!