Wednesday, April 25, 2012

St. James Beverage: A great place to buy beer on LI

Beer Blog has solely been about the beers I have been drinking, but what about the places I buy all these delicious beers from? Today I'd like to discuss one of my favorite go-to beer shops: St. James Beverage.

I found out about this hidden gem of a beer store from my friend Tom, when I was asking him about new beer stores to try. So I took the 15 minute drive over there and saw this lovely sign out front.

It was a very nice looking sign, if I do say so myself, but what was even nicer was the inside of St. James Beverage after I set foot in it. Immediately I was greeted with the sight of the growler station.

Shortly after staring at the growler station for a questionable amount of time I was welcome by the owner Martin. He had a friendly smile and asked me if I needed any help finding anything. I was at a loss of words at how many different types of beer he had stocked, so instead of answering him I walked around aimlessly, looking around.

Belgian beers, various Ommegang offerings, Brooklyn brews, and Stone stouts; what more could you ask for? You name it, chances are Martin had it in stock. That shelf alone is only a small amount of the beers he has available. He even had Monk's Sour Flemish Ale, which I first tried in Philadelphia at Monk's Cafe and is one of my favorites.

I'm drooling as I look at this picture

Martin is also very knowledgeable about many different types of beers and always willing to talk to me about them. He's one of the friendliest beer store owners I've ever met and makes sure to tell me when he's getting new fancy, limited beers in to his store. 

Every time I walk into St. James Beverage it's a pleasant experience and I'm always leaving there with a new beer, or should I say beers, to try. Thank you Martin for having a fully stocked and presentable beer store that I can be proud to shop at. Kudos to you! I'll be back there soon enough.

Anyone looking for a new place to buy beers you can't normally get anywhere else need not look any further than St. James Beverage on 25A. Check out St. James Beverage's Facebook page at this link!

Dogfish Head Black & Blue

The first thing you see as you look at the bottle art of Dogfish Head's Black & Blue is a finely dressed gentleman with a perfect bone structure smiling as he enjoys a glass of Black & Blue. This image alone says a lot about Dogfish Head's black raspberry and blueberry fermented ale. First and foremost it implies that by drinking Black & Blue you will feel as fancy as the man pictured on the bottle. Secondly it shows that even the pickiest of people will find something they like about Black & Blue even if it isn't readily apparent after taking the first sip.

The most important of these realizations however is that Black & Blue successfully bridges the gap between fine beer aficionados who enjoy their beers at high ABVs (Alcohol By Volume) and the more casual beer drinkers that enjoy an occasional Yuengling or Sam Adams.

Black & Blue pours a beautiful reddish brown color and is pleasing just to look at. When first poured the amount of head was a little too generous and slightly overwhelming; after a few minutes though it was drinkable.

At first I was expecting an intense blueberry/fruit taste, seeing as Black & Blue was brewed with blueberry puree, a brewing method I have never come across in all my years drinking beer. I took my first sip and was instantly surprised at how subtle the flavor was. This beer tasted more like beer than the fruit overload I was waiting for. I was a little disappointed, but slowly the flavor grew on me and I began to notice the hidden flavor more.

The smell of Black & Blue is also very pleasant and smells strongly of blueberries, like if real blueberries were crushed right in front of my nose; it makes the beer all that more appealing. At 10% ABV, Black & Blue slowly crept up on my friend Quincy and I. We wanted to keep on drinking it, but the alcohol took effect so quickly that we had to stop and pace ourselves.

As I drank Black & Blue I was reminded of the beers I drank when I first starting enjoying beer. It was hard for me to pick out the subtle flavors back then and with Black & Blue I was reminded of that. Even if you only enjoy the most popular beer brands, such as Budweiser or the like, Black & Blue doesn't stray too far from beer flavor that it would discourage you from trying it. Black & Blue is a great stepping stone for beer lovers to get into the more fancy beers that are available on the market and I'd like to thank Dogfish Head for yet another great brew! Enjoy responsibly!



Friday, April 13, 2012

Samuel Adams The Vixen

Tonight I'm enjoying another one of Sam Adams' single batch beers; The Vixen. Classified as a chocolate chili Bock, The Vixen is a great beer and a real treat for anyone who loves both chocolate beers and Bocks. The combination of malts, cinnamon and other spices, and cocoa nibs balances out perfectly to create a beer that is full of flavor and a pleasure to drink.

Immediately after my first sip I was surprised at how good The Vixen was. I just kept drinking it and didn't want to stop. The chocolate flavor is most noticeable with the malts coming in at a close second. The aftertaste is also very pleasant with a fine mix of spices and chili. Don't be off put by chili and beer in the same sentence; this is a great combination and one that I suggest for everyone who calls themselves a beer fan to indulge in.

Try The Vixen by Samuel Adams. You will be glad you did. Scouts honor!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Bourbon County Bramble Rye

Immediately after winning big at Lake Ronkonkoma Beverage's Beer Raffle, Tom and I picked up a couple of burgers at Wendy's and headed back to my place to try some of our newly acquired beer. I won a bottle of Bourbon County Brand Stout's Bramble Rye and we were both very curious to see how it compared to the regular Bourbon County Brand Stout and Coffee Brand Stout.

Bramble Rye, as its name implies, is aged in rye whiskey barrels and brewed with raspberries and blackberries added. It's classified as an Imperial Stout and American Double and is 12.7% ABV. We cracked open the bottle and were immediately overwhelmed with a huge raspberry and blackberry smell.

Poured into my two Ommegang goblets, Bramble Rye had virtually no head to speak of.
Not knowing what to expect, we each took a sip of our beers. Now I wish I recorded a video of this, but I didn't so I'll recall what happened to the best of my ability. Tom's facial expression went from overjoyed and ecstatic, to really weirded out and completely disgusted in a matter of seconds. I'm going to be completely honest with you here; Bramble Rye is the result of a beer experiment that went...wait for it...awry. I feel like the wonderful people over at Bourbon County Brewing were feeling extra inventive the day they came up with Bramble Rye; unfortunately the combination of flavors doesn't really work. Rye and berries? No thanks.

Tom and I continued drinking the Bramble Rye even though it made us cringe with every sip. Even right now I have the goblet with some of Tom's leftover Bramble Rye in it and the smell is making me want to gag. Tom also told me that he almost threw up in the middle of the night after drinking it.

So there you have it folks; a beer I actually don't like. It definitely was an experience trying it, but I think it's safe to say that I will never spend money on this beer ever again, or drink it for that matter. Stay away from Bourbon County Bramble Rye; it's just not good.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Lake Ronkonkoma Beverage Beer Raffle - March 30, 2012

Two nights ago Ronkonkoma Beverage held a beer raffle to give all their loyal customers a chance to win the right to buy some of the rare beers they had in their supply. Over the past month they have received shipments of Founder's Curmudgeon's Better Half, Bourbon County Coffee Stout, Bourbon County Bramble Rye and Founder's Kentucky Breakfast Stout.  Needless to say a large number of people showed up (about 30-40 people) and everyone there was excited to have a chance at winning.

From 8 PM to 10 PM people were coming into the store and receiving their 4 raffle tickets from "Big John" the owner's son who was running the event and a personal friend of mine. Displayed on a table for all to see were all the beers that were being raffled with large brown paper bags in front of each.

Everyone with tickets was given the choice to divy them up however they wanted by putting one, some or all their tickets into a bag. 9 bottles of Curmudgeon's Better Half, 2 bottles of Coffee Stout, 10 bottles of Bramble Rye and 16 four-packs of Kentucky Breakfast Stout were on the line. At 10 PM the raffle began.

Big John started it off by thanking everyone who showed up and giving a short heartfelt speech saying how glad he was that the Ronkonkoma Beverage family could hold such an event for all their customers. After that he dove right into the raffle. Everyone lined up with their full attention on Big John and eagerly awaited the first number to be called.

Starting off with Curmudgeon's Better Half, Big John called number after number as happy customers who got their number called went up to Big John and received their prize. Just about everyone there won something, with some people even winning multiple times. Even the people who didn't win anything were still able to pick up any beer of their choice from the store at a 10% discount. Growlers were also available for $2 cheaper.

Tom and I were glad to attend the beer raffle at Ronkonkoma Beverage and we even got lucky and won a few beers. Our friends Chris and Kevin were also in attendance and they won as well! Between the four of us we each walked away with a four-packs of KBS and I also won a bottle of the Bramble Rye; the only beer out of the four that I hadn't tried yet!

 Myself and Tom with our winnings of the night!

I want to thank Lake Ronkonkoma Beverage for providing such a fun and exciting night to us. We got to discuss our favorite craft beers with other beer connoisseurs from Long Island and even sample some new Spider Bite offerings that were on tap at their growler station. Thank you John, John and John for doing this event and I only hope there will be more in the future!

  John Sr. and Big John (behind the counter) were all smiles before the raffle began