Oct 26, 2015

3rd Annual Blind Pumpkin Beer Tasting

This past weekend, we held our 3rd Annual Blind Pumpkin Beer Tasting! Every year, I like to select between 6 to 8 pumpkin beers, and invite a "panel" of friends and beer fans to come try them all, blindly, and score them to let me know which ones they liked the best. I then take their scores, and use them to compile a list my "best pumpkin beers" of that year.

This years contenders.....

Well, this past weekend, I gathered my small but honest, lively panel of friends to check out 2015's offering of pumpkin beers. Every year, I try and have a completely new group of beers to try, aside from the one that came in first the previous year. Last year, Southern Tier's Warlock Pumpkin Stout was our winner. so Warlock returned this year to defend it's title. The only other rule I try to have is at least one local beer to add into the list as well, which, this year, turned out to be a big deal!

This year, we tried 6 beers. Those beers were the aforementioned Warlock, Lakefront Brewing's
Pumpkin Lager, Tommy Knockers Small Patch Pumpkin Ale, Shipyards Smashed Pumpkin Ale, Anderson Valley's Pinchy Jeek Barl and Arizona's own Mudshark Brewing's Peaceful Pumpkin.

So, we gathered around my kitchen table, in the lavishly appointed Beer Czar Manor in Gilbert Arizona, snacked on some great pumpkin snacks (pumpkin banana bread, Pumpkin dip with gingersnaps and graham crackers, pumpkin whoopee pies, and pumpkin yogurt covered pretzels) and put about the difficult task of try, and rated the 6 beers. Here are the results with a few notes I took from the ranking sheets.....

#6. Anderson Valley's Pinchy Jeek Barl , Anderson Valley CA - This beer is aged for 6 months in Wild Turkey Bourbon Barrel. This beer was pretty easily identified by more than a few of the panelists as barrel aged, even bourbon barrel aged. The poor showing by this beer was partly due to one of the guests almost disdain for this beer, and after smelling it, and taking a tiny sip, refused to even score, giving it a 0! (she obviously is not a fan of barrel aged beers!) However, even if she had scored this beer the average the rest of the guests did, it only would have moved it up one spot. It was a pretty low scoring beer all around, despite the fact that it was actually my second favorite beer we tried this evening (I am admittedly a HUGE fan of bourbon barrel aged beers)

#5 Tommy Knockers Small Patch Pumpkin Ale, Idaho Springs CO. - This beer was universal
described by all our guests as either thin, watery, and in a few cases "boring". Not a bad beer, but nothing to get real excited about it. Very slight pumpkin flavor with little other flavor to back it up. Had the Anderson Valley beer not gotten a 0, this beer would have been the lowest scoring beer of the evening, by a fairly large margin.

#4 Shipyard Brewing's Smashed Pumpkin Ale, Portland Maine.- This one comes from Shipyards "Pugsley's Signiture Series" of beers, named after their original Brewmaster Alan Pugsley. This is a sort of "spicy" complex beer that seemed to have the greatest variation in scores among the guests. Seemed a sort of "loved it or hated it" kind of beers. The good news, this beer is now available in 12 oz. bottles so you can buy a single to find out if you like it before committing to a bomber!

Tied for #2
Lakefront Brewing's Lakefront Lager, Milwaukee, WI One that surprised me, and a lot of the guests when I told them it was a lager. I asked before people knew what they were drinking, if anyone could pick out the lager, and no one could on their first try. A surprisingly flavorful, full bodied lager, with nice pumpkin spice flavors.

Southern Tier's Warlock Pumpkin Stout, Lakewood, NY The winner of last year's event, it tied for 2nd this year, so it defended its title honorably. This was universally agreed to have the best aroma of any beer we tried. It has a very sweet, spicy aroma that smells a lot like I would think someone making pumpkin candy would smell. All in all, a great pumpkin beer, and one of my favorites still.

And the winner is......

Mudshark Brewing's Peaceful Pumpkin, Lake Havasu City, Arizona! The thing I noticed most
about the scores for this beer, it was no ones highest scoring beer, but everyone scored it very well! A solid, flavorful, yet incredibly drinkable pumpkin beer. This beer smells like pumpkin pie! This beer strikes a great balance between tasting like pumpkin and spice, but still maintain it's identity as a beer.  I was extremely excited to see a local beer take the top spot this year!!

I want to thank everyone that took part in this years tasting, this is always a fun event, that I think seems to get a little better every year! Hope to see you all in 2016!

I always want to congratulate the fine folks at Arizona's own Mudshark Brewing, for being the first Arizona beer to take the stop spot in this event! That is awesome, well done!

Until next time
Bottoms up my friends

The Beer Czar

Oct 19, 2015

Check this out!

A month or so ago, I was contacted by Nicki Escudero , a writer for a local blog called "Phoenix People".  A blog, that once a week (on Monday), the interview some of the coolest people in the valley (their words, not mine) and post the interview (as a short video). Well, they seem to have run short of cool people, so they asked me to take part, which I gladly did!

So, I met up with Nicki, at my favorite local watering hole, Craft 64, had a few beers, and chatted about what else, beer, and Arizona, and Arizona beer....

Check it out!!! (there is even a short video about the 5 reasons I like living in Arizona)

Phoenix People Ken Morrison The Beer Czar

Until next time
Bottoms up my friends!

The Beer Czar

Oct 2, 2015

Lets see your home bar!

OK, we are collecting more pictures again! This time, we want to see pictures of your home bar!!! You don't have a home bar, well, you surely have a favorite spot to drink when your home. Be it your couch, your back patio, wherever you find yourself drinking, we want to see it! Send your pic's to thebeerczar@gmail.com or post them to our Facebook page. When you do send us a photo, just make sure you include at least the state you are in, and if you want, the city.

We don't care if you have an elaborate 4 tap handle drinking shed out back, or just a comfy "Dad" chair in your living room, and everything in between, we want to see where you drink your beer! Lets see those pics!

Until next time
The Beer Czar

Sep 30, 2015

Where have I been you ask????

I've had a few folks contact me, concerned something was wrong with me, or that I was no longer doing the blog. I assure you, I am just fine, and that is not the case at all. I have, however, slowed down considerably as of late, obviously. Why you ask? Ok, I'll fill you in.

Sadly, and to many peoples shock, this is not my "job". In fact, I really don't make any money at all doing this. I do this because I just like doing it, its fun, I get to go to  places, see things, and meet people I normally would never have had the chance otherwise. That means I must do all these things in my free time. Since I also have a family, and a "real" job, my free time is not always as conducive to writing as much I would like. I have 3 lovely daughters and a wife that come first in my list of how I prioritize my time. While I am normally able to find time to get out, and write, lately, things around here lately have been very busy. My wife has been studying to take her series 7 General Securities exam. Anyone that has taken this test, or knows anyone that has, knows this requires a huge commitment of time to study and prepare. She is scheduled to take this exam in just a few weeks, so hopefully, after that, things will return to "normal".

Until then, I am happily spending my time, taking care of the girls so my wife can study. Just know, this is a very good thing, and will most likely allow me more time in the near future to spend writing, tasting and further "researching" the awesome beer scene here in Arizona.

In the mean time, I have a favor. If you find yourself having an amazing, odd, fun or otherwise notable beer experience, be it here in Arizona, or elsewhere, and want to share your story, by all means, let me know, I would love to post it, and share it with everyone. Reach out to me, send me an email at thebeerczar@gmail.com and we can discuss the details.....

Until then, you will see me from time to time, and I thank you all for your patience, and support while we get ourselves past through this, and onto much bigger and more exciting things in the VERY near future!

Until next time
Bottoms up my friends!

The Beer Czar!

Sep 28, 2015

Summer Beer Pics! 2015 edition!

Well, the leaves are changing, the nights are cooling off, the kids are back in school, that can only mean one thing, summer is over. Summer officially ended last week, so lets take a minute, and look back fondly at just about everyone's favorite time of year, and remember the summer that was 2015....with beer.

So, without further ado.......here they are!

Any beer tastes great in this setting!
They didn't leave a name, or location on this one, but I loved the pic, so I used it!

Facebook Fan Robert left this pic, of Mrs. Czars favorite beer!

A great Michigan beer, on the shores of Lake Michigan!

Old College friends Amber and Becky, doing a little catching up, in a perfect spot! Taken in Maine!

Charles let me post this pic, take at Mansfield Hollow Park, in CT.

David, enjoying a beer at Bedderton Beach, MD
One of my very few personal hero's, Les Stroud, aka Survivorman, was in a bad accident in while scouting locations for Survivorman in Mongolia earlier this summer. He suffered some pretty serious injuries (he flew back from Asia to Canada with a collapsed lung!). Here he is with a friend in the hospital, enjoying a beer! Glad to see you well Les!!!
Cheers to you!

Another one of my favorite people on the planet, my dear friend Tanya discovering craft beer at the Rockyard Brewery in Castlerock Co....
Here is another pic from Tanya, this time on Martha's Vineyard, enjoying a beer on the beach with her friend Barb


This is Stevie C, in Texas, enjoying some of her favorite local brews.....
Sydney S enjoying a showerbeer to cool off in the hot Arizona summer!

What's not to love about this picture? (aside from maybe their beer choice? (I kid....))

Not sure what the lovely Kayla is doing here in this picture, but whatever it is, I have no doubt she was having fun doing it. This was from her trip to Vegas in Aug.

This one is from my trip to Maine earlier this summer. This is me enjoying a nut brown ale at Sea Dog's pub in Topsham.
Here is another one from my Maine trip. Enjoying a Baxter Brewing's Window Seat Coconut Brown Ale, while taking in the amazing Green Falls, deep inside Baxter State Park.
Thanks Tyler for this beautiful shot!
A great shot from Mike, at the Aspen Cabin near Blue Ridge AZ (yes, there is a beer on the seat of the bike!) Great pic!
My old College friend Laura, enjoying her parents peaceful backyard in CT.

Robert enjoying an outdoor beer!
Below are a few great pic's from Mother Road Brewing, in Flagstaff Arizona.

Charles took this stunning photo from Mansfield Hollow Park, CT.

This might be my favorite pic from this years set....Tim took this out on Hingham Harbor, in Mass.
The following set of photos were sent in by my friends at Beast Brewing Co right here in Bisbee, AZ!

Facebook fan Farrah sent these in from Mass.....

This is from Chris, taken at Fairy Falls, in the Columbia River Gorge, WA 

Another one from the Columbia River, this one taken by Justin, on Beacon Rock

 My parents dog Payson, enjoying a Mr. Pineapple poolside.
College friend Jackie, I am assuming somewhere out on the Chesapeake Bay

Dave, Duck, NC

These two are from Eric, in Destin FL
A classic summer beer pic! Brian took this in St Thomas!

Emily in Phoenix!

Chris sent this from Drake's Island Maine.
 Sandra, finishing off a cold one while watching The Nationals! (this is probably the most expensive beer on this years post! )
Brian sent us this great, early summer beer pic from House Mountain, Lexington VA

Sunrise Beach beer!

Resident Parrothead Chris, and his wife, probably at a Buffett show!
 Below are just a few random, but awesome beer pic's, from anonymous submitters....
Icicle River, Leavenworth WA

Nice grouper!


OK, you have been warned!!!! Scroll down at your own risk! 

Some of you may recall this pic, submitted by someone that said this was his wife, on their honeymoon in Mexico. Well, turns out, it was not his wife. However, the young lady in the pic somehow saw it posted, and reached out to me to let me know this was in fact, not the case. I was afraid she would be upset, but turns out, she was really cool with it. She is quite a fan of topless sunbathing it seems, it does it whenever she can. She was even kind enough to submit a pic for this years set. In keeping with her "theme" she of coarse sent in another topless summer beer pic (my favorite kind of summer beer pic!) Here is her latest!

Here is a video slideshow of this years pics....