Thursday, October 30, 2014

Best and Worst Pumpkin Beers of 2014

Every year, during the months of September and October, I enjoy drinking Pumpkin Beer. Ever since becoming a craft beer enthusiast about 2 years ago, I've made it my mission to try as many different kinds of the pumpkiny beverage as I could get my hands on. Initially I started off small and only tried a handful of pumpkin beers my first year of drinking them. The following year I found even more to try and expanded my pumpkin beer palate. This year I outdid myself once again and sampled 22 different pumpkin beers in the same day with some close friends by my side. Below you will find our impressions of each of these beers. I've divided them into separate classes based on their alcohol content, plus it wouldn't be fair to compare the lighter Post Road Pumpkin with the super sweet and delicious Pumking. Listed in order from best to worst in each class.

Light Beers:

Jacko-O Traveler Shandy: At 4.4% ABV, Jack-O was the lightest pumpkin beer we drank. It reminded us more of a summer beer than anything. True to its shandy nature, there was a sweet lemon taste throughout as well as a hint of pumpkin. Very light and refreshing, although definitely more suitable for drinking in warmer weather.

Shipyard Pumpkinhead: Shipyard's brews have always been a good standby beer for me. Their carbonation and flavor remind me of that of a soft drink, like a flavored soda. In their pumpkin offering we tasted cinnamon and different spices. I enjoy it every time I drink it. 4.7% ABV.

Post Road Pumpkin Ale: A middle-of-the-road (if you will) pumpkin brew. Knowing this was made by Brooklyn Brewery I expected more. A good amount of flavor, but not anything special. Enough to like in this one to enjoy a bottle or two. 5.0% ABV.

Great South Bay Splashing Pumpkin: One of our very own Long Island brews! While I initially enjoyed GSB Splashing Pumpkin, upon further tasting I didn't think it was so great. My friends agreed. You could do worse, but there's not enough spice or flavor to keep this as one of my standbys in my mini-fridge. 5.0% ABV.

Uinta Punk'n: One of my least favorite pumpkin beers of all time. Punk'n has nothing going for it and is unpleasant to the taste. Burnt pumpkin flavor and not in a good way! Soapy too. I drank this one last year too and it was the same thing. Would never drink again willingly. 5.0% ABV.

Medium Beers:

UFO Pumpkin: Harpoon's offering was consistently one of my favorite pumpkin beers the last two years. I've had friends, coworkers and family all try this one and they all's good. When it comes to alcohol content and flavor UFO is right in the middle and perfect for both craft beer lovers and people who enjoy the occasional light beer. 5.9% ABV.

Wilhelm Scream: Magic Hat brewed a pumpkin beer? Who would've thought. This year was the first time we tried Wilhelm Scream and we were pleased. It had a good amount of sweetness, but also enough bitterness to accompany it. I could easily see myself drinking this one at a bar with little other options. 5.4% ABV.

Captain Lawrence Pumpkin: A little more mellow than Wilhelm, but still with a good amount of flavor. The average of the medium class. 5.5% ABV.

Ithaca Country Pumpkin: This one was my #2 choice, but sadly my friends didn't agree with me. I thought Country Pumpkin had a stronger flavor than both Wilhelm and Capt. Lawrence, while also remaining light and not too overpowering. My friends thought it was too bitter and slightly bland. 6.3% ABV.

Pumple Drumkin: This falls in the same class as Uinta's Punk'n. Pumple Drumkin is a pretty bad pumpkin beer. Average at best and too bitter for its own good. Promises of spices like cinnamon and nutmeg on the bottle are never fufilled. 6.0% ABV.

Medium-Heavy Beers:

Only 3 in this category as it was our resting/food break point

Night Owl Pumpkin: Elysian made a damn good pumpkin beer and this was the first year trying it for us. Reminded us all of a pumpkin pie cooked just a little overdone. Brown sugar and nutmeg are present throughout every sip of this pumpkiny delight. Can be enjoyed on many autumnal occasions. 5.9% ABV.

Horseheads Pumpkin: My girlfriend and I LOVED this one. My friends thought it was a little too sweet. Horseheads Pumpkin tasted just like candy to us. Cinnamon and brown sugar throughout, I could easily get this one down. Reminded me of eating a more intense Auntie Anne's pretzel. 6.6% ABV.

Roadsmary's Baby: Another great one. Roadsmary's Baby was aged in rum barrels and has a sort of vanillaly pumpkin flavor associated with it. Tasty to say the least. 6.8% ABV.

Heavy Beers:

Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin: So much flavor, Weyerbacher is to die for. Tastes just like a perfectly sweet pumpkin pie flavored candy beverage. You can taste the cinnamon, nutmeg and other spices with each sip. Near perfection. 8.0% ABV.

Schlafly Pumpkin: A close runner up to Weyerbacher. Schlafly is similar to Night Owl in its pumpkin pie like-taste except sweeter. I could drink this one for weeks (and I have!). 8.0% ABV.

Dogfish Head Punkin: Dogfish Head succeeds in making a really good pumpkin ale. Erica described it as nutty and more of a brown ale. Nutmeg is present in the flavor. I liked it, but didn't think it was anything too special. 7.0% ABV.

Fisherman's Pumpkin Stout: The only pumpkin stout we tried in our tasting. Fisherman's tastes more like chocolate than pumpkin to me. Chocolately as most stouts and with a hint of pumpkin for good measure. Good, but not if you're in the mood for a straight up pumpkin flavor. 7.0% ABV.

Gruntled Pumpkin: A unique take on pumpkin beer. Had a distinct flavor, but no where near as good as the rest. Tasted a bit off honestly. 7.0% ABV.

Super Heavy Beers:

Pumking: The best of the best when it comes to heavier pumpkin beers. Southern Tier has made a real winner here. One of the sweetest pumpkin beers I've ever drank. Tastes like candy, cinnamon, and vanilla. Forget candy, give me this beer! 8.6% ABV.

Harpoon Imperial Pumpkin: In addition to UFO, Harpoon also brewed their heavier take on a pumpkin beer. Delicious and full of flavor. Nothing can touch the greatness that is Pumking though. 10.5% ABV.

Punkuccino: If the words Pumpkin Coffee Beer don't excite you then skip out on this one. Tasted more like coffee than pumpkin to me, but was still a very good brew. I finished every last drop! 5.0% ABV.

The Fear Imperial Pumpkin Stout: Flying Dog what have you done to us? With The Fear they made the darkest pumpkin beer I have ever seen. The color is near black and the taste, leaves more to be desired. I think they tried too hard with this one. Tasted like burnt pumpkin with too much alcohol in it to mask the flavor. 9.0% ABV.

So there you have it! Our results of drinking 22 different pumpkin beers. Have you tried any on our list and have anything to say that we left out? Let us know in the comments section below. Happy Halloween Everyone!!!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Founders Mosaic Promise

Founders Brewing has always stood for creativity, especially among themselves and all of the beers they have brewed over the past 17 years. They are never afraid of stepping too far outside of the box and giving us beer lovers something new, inventive and pleasing to our palate. 

Mosaic Promise is the 2014 Founders creation for the annual ArtPrize competition that takes place every year in Grand Rapids Falls, Michigan. Through an exclusive 5 year contract, Founders became the official brewery for the competition and will brew a brand new beer to benefit ArtPrize each year. Every six-pack sold will be used to help fund every future competition and encourage creativity among all the artists that enter.

Founders to me is like an old friend. One of the first true craft beers I have tried was made by Founders (if you're curious it was the Breakfast Stout!) and every time they have something new to share with me, I eagerly get out my pint glass and wait for them to pour.

Whether I have had a rough day, or I'm just enjoying a fun night with some friends, I never hesitate to grab one of my many favorite Founders standbys out of my mini fridge and indulge. There are so many good Founders brews, all of them full of flavor and comforting for me to drink.

Mosaic Promise: Refreshing and Tasty
Mosaic Promise is no exception to that rule and to me tastes like a more refreshing All Day IPA, brewed with a single malt and a single hop. Founders beers always has that pleasant flavor associated with them and they always serve as a reminder of my induction into the world of craft beers.

The art on the label of Mosaic Promise is titled "Ninkasi" and was created by Grand Rapids artists Matt and Elizabeth Kolenda, Adrianne Hollemans and Maria Orr of Kolenda Art Glass originally as a stained glass piece. It was submitted in the 2013 ArtPrize competition and depicts the ancient Sumerian goddess of beer.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Founders Dissenter Imperial IPL

Labor Day was yesterday and what better way to celebrate than with a good beer? Last night I cracked open my 750ml bottle of one of the most recent beers released by Founders Brewing Co in their Backstage Series: Dissenter Imperial IPL. Dissenter is an Imperial India Pale Lager.

Founders is not really known for brewing lagers...ever, but they decided to give this one a shot and try something new with the style. Founders always creates complex beers. If they can brew a lager worth drinking then I'm on board.

Right from opening the bottle a hoppiness is present in the aroma. I poured myself and my friend Rob a glass.

Dissenter had a generous amount of head and a hoppy taste/flavor throughout. It almost felt like I was drinking All Day IPA or Double Trouble with each sip.

Overall I thought that Dissenter was just okay. There's a lot of people on the Dissenter review page on Beer Advocate that loved it and thought its flavor was complex with pineapple, mango and other tropical fruits. I just didn't taste it this time around.

Both Rob and I throught it was a pretty standard tasting beer with a good deal of hoppiness and bitterness. I fear that I've grown tired of IPAs since I've had so many of them over the summer months. I think it's time I take a break from the style and gracefully come back to it in a year or so.

That being said, if you can find Dissenter in stores feel free to give it a try. At 8.7% ABV it's sure to knock you on your butt right onto your couch.

Founders Dissenter Imperial IPL is the first beer to be released in its 2014 Backstage Series. I'm more excited for the next one to come out; Smoked Porter in February.

Still good, just tired of IPAs

Chip Blog: The Great Lays Showdown of 2014

Last year marked the first ever Lays 'Do Us A Flavor' contest, which allowed potato chip fans from around the U.S. to pick a new flavor that was to be made into a permanent option in the Lays lineup. Last year's entries included the sweet and delicious Chicken and Waffles, the spicy yet great Sriracha and the winner of it all Cheesy Garlic Bread. I tried all of these flavors and thought Sriracha should have won it, but I guess not everyone shared my love for the Thai hot sauce infused chips.

This year the polls for the 'Do Us A Flavor' contest opened on July 28th and they will be closing on October 18th. There are four options this year to choose from: Wavy Mango Salsa, Kettle Cooked Wasabi Ginger, Cappuccino, and Cheddar Bacon Mac and Cheese.


I sat down with a couple close friends and decided to try them all and write down all of our impressions of each flavor. We started with Cappuccino as that one made us the most curious.

"That's a weird flavor, very interesting." - Brett S

"What is that? It's a little spicy under my tongue." - Erica W

"Good and sweet, like a dessert chip." - Phil

"I think it should be sweeter." - Brett S

"Tastes just like the foam of a real cappuccino!" - Erica W

Next we moved on to Wavy Mango Salsa:

"It smells kind of like Fruity Pebbles." - Phil

"Tastes like a dried mango." - Brett S

"Oh no, no, no, no, no." - Erica W

"Needs a better balance of mango and salsa, I don't taste any salsa." - Brett S

"Tastes like they couldn't decide on making fruit snacks or potato chips." - Phil

"I was absolutely disgusted by that one." - Brett S

Cappuccino and Wavy Mango Salsa on the top,
Cheddar Bacon Mac & Cheese and Wasabi on the bottom

Thirdly we tried the Kettle Cooked Wasabi Ginger:

"In your face, just like real wasabi." - Phil

"Ooo I like this, it's soo good." - Erica W

"That is so Wasabeeeee, I taste the ginger too." - Brett S

"Not too spicy either." - Brett S

Last but not least we threw the Cheddar Bacon Mac and Cheese down our gullets:

"It smells like dog food." - Brett S

"That's dog food." - Erica W

"Tastes like mac and cheese, nothing special." - Phil S

After the initial tasting we all sat down for a couple of minutes and continued to taste test the chips seeing if our opinions changed as we did so. Eventually we each voted on each chip placing them with a number 1 through 4 depending on which we liked the most and the least. Here are our results:

Brett: 1) Wasabi 2) Mac and Cheese 3) Cappuccino 4) Mango Salsa

Erica: 1) Wasabi 2) Mac and Cheese 3) Cappuccino 4) Mango Salsa 

Phil: 1) Wasabi 2) Cappuccino 3) Mac and Cheese 4) Mango Salsa

Despite Erica and Brett initially both thinking the Cheddar Bacon Mac and Cheese smelled like dog food they ended up digging the flavor a lot more after eating a few chips. We all agreed that the Wasabi Ginger was our favorite and had a good balance of spice and flavor and was the best fit with its kettle cooked style. I really enjoyed the Cappuccino and it was almost my number 1, but it was a bit too sweet for a chip that I would eat on a daily basis. The Mango Salsa chip, while it sounds good in principle, was disgusting for all of us and they should never make it ever again at least not with that overpowering nasty Mango flavoring.

So there you have it; Our great Lays off! Have you tried all of these flavors? Which one will you be voting for and hope will be made into a permanent flavor?
Let me know in the comments section below.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Hoptimum (Sierra Nevada)

Good Ol' Hoptimum. Literally this bottle was both good and old. This batch was brewed in 2012 and while normally it's customary to drink an IPA (India Pale Ale) while it's still fresh, this one was left in my basement to sit for awhile (and not on purpose!).

Hoptimum, brewed by Sierra Nevada is a Whole-Cone Imperial IPA that is a whopping 10.4% ABV. What makes this IPA different from the rest is the brewing process in which whole-cone hops are used aka the entire hop. The majority of other IPAs are brewed using hops that have been cut up into smaller pieces. By using whole-cone hops produces a stronger, more robust flavor that is present in the beer.

So how does Hoptimum stack up with the other countless IPAs I drank over the years? Let's find out.

Not only is my shirt Kick-Ass, the beer is too!

Like other IPAs Hoptimum has a very pine-inspired scent associated with it. Its color is that of an amber orangey red. The taste is both strong and memorable.

Bitterness is expected with an IPA and Hoptimum has its fair share of it. Hidden behind the initial explosion of bitterness on your tastebuds is citrus notes, almost like that of a grapefruit. The pine flavor is evident in every sip although I would say it's not as overwhelming as a beer like Heady Topper.
That being said Hoptimum is a great beer, but not as good as my favorite IPA of all time Hopslam. It just doesn't have the smoothness that Hopslam had and the subtle sweetness that made it great. For those who are more of IPA purists though Hoptimum is a dream come true and one of the best IPAs you can buy on the market.
Look for it in stores, it's sold in 4 packs!
Hoptimum was created by the masterminds at Sierra Nevada Brewing and if I made a list of my top five favorite IPAs it would be on there.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Southampton Double Ice Bock

Easter is a very special day. One which we share with our families and eat delicious candy and other foods we probably shouldn't be eating. It's also a time to catch up and create new memories. Easter 2014 was a very special day for me and not just because of my wonderful family and foods that probably caused me to gain a couple of pounds, but also because of a small beer by the name of Double Ice Bock...created by Southampton Publick House.

I picked up my one 7 oz bottle from the Russian Imperial Stout Release Party I went to back in February. I decided Easter night was just as good of a night as any to appreciate this fine beer. I love bocks so I was greatly anticipating this one...enough to even pose with my bottle before opening it.

Just from the gold aluminium foil on the top of the bottle, you knew it was going to be a good one.

I opened the Double Ice Bock bottle and was met with this sight, slowly bubbling and waiting to be drank.

The smell of Double Ice Bock was that of a good ol' fashioned German beer complete with maltiness and all.

Without waiting any longer I took a sip of one of the best beers I have drank in 2014.

I can't really describe the flavor of Double Ice Bock all too well. Maltiness was evident with each sip I took and it was an all around perfect beer. I'm a big fan of bocks, especially double bocks. This is the first time I have ever tried an ice bock and boy was I pleased.

I wish Southampton sold me more than one bottle of this fine beer. Great in every way imaginable and a beer drinker's dream.

Double Ice Bock was created by the Southampton Publick House and has an ABV of 18.00% ABV.

Friday, March 28, 2014

The New Taco Bell Breakfast...Reviewed!

This is definitely not a Beer Blog, but something I have to write about. Today I got to try Taco Bell's new breakfast menu, Waffle Taco and all. This is my post telling you about my experience and what I thought of Taco Bell's entry into the world of breakfast.

I arrived at my local Taco Bell to find this glorious sign out front displayed in one of the windows. If my anticipation wasn't already high enough, this sign showing the delicious Waffle Taco brought it to a critical level.

As I walked into the Taco Bell I was all smiles as I thought about the experience I was about to have with menu items I've been waiting to try for months.

I walked up to the counter and was greeted by one of the happiest Taco Bell employees I've ever encountered (especially at the early hour of 10:20 AM) and ordered my food. 

I chose the Waffle Taco combo (Combo 15), which included a side of a hash brown and a drink (I got coffee). I also ordered an A.M. Crunchwrap with bacon.

Within minutes my food was ready.

After opening the bag I was greeted with these new containers specifically made for the Breakfast items.

I thought they were cleverly designed and the message it brings is that Taco Bell believes that they can compete with the other breakfast experts...McDonalds.

I opened my containers and was amazed by this spectacle:

And this...

I tried the A.M. Crunchwrap first. It contained scrambled eggs, hash browns, cheese and bacon. It also had the creamy jalapeno sauce that you would normally find in a chicken or steak quesidilla. I loved it.

It had a bit of a spice to it and was flavorful enough to keep me coming back for more. Every bite was better than the last and it was gone within minutes.

Next onto the Waffle Taco with sausage.

It wasn't quite as good as the A.M. Crunchwrap I had, but still worth trying. The sausage on it looked and tasted fake. The waffle it was on was a little better, but nothing to write home about. I later found out that I was supposed to get syrup with mine, but I didn't. If I had the syrup to dunk it in it would've made it a lot better. Overall I was disappointed with it.

The hash brown I got on the side was just as good as I expected it to be. It was almost identical to the ones at McDonalds in taste and consistency. A little greasy, but that's expected.

The coffee was tasty, but nothing out of the ordinary.

For my first Taco Bell breakfast experience I was pleased, but not floored. I really think they're onto something with the A.M. Crunchwraps, but there's room for improvement with the Waffle Tacos. The price of my meal was cheap too (I spent a little over $7 for everything).

In addition to the items I tried, there is a Steak & Egg Burrito, Breakfast Burrito with Sausage or Bacon, an A.M. Grilled Taco, a Sausage Flatbread Melt and Cinnabon Delights available during breakfast hours, which go begin at 6:30 A.M. and end at 11:00 A.M. at my local Taco Bell.

I look forward to trying out these other menu items on my next visit, especially the Steak A.M. Crunchwrap.

This was a good taste test for me and I only expect for Taco Bell to improve upon these scrumptious breakfast creations.

Taco Bells nationwide started opening earlier and selling their breakfast items on Thursday, March 27th. If you love Taco Bell's regular menu it is hands down worth a try.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Heady Topper (The Alchemist)

Last night I decided to drink my final can of Heady Topper, a beer brewed by The Alchemist located in Vermont. This beer is normally released in very limited quantities to the New York area and it's especially hard to find on Long Island. Luckily we acquired some from Shoreline Beverage in Huntington (Thanks Stuart!) and Tom and I got to finally try the perfect 100 score rated beer on

I'm going to start by saying that Heady Topper is one of the hoppiest beers, if not the hoppiest, that I have ever drank. On the 16 oz can it even demands that the drinker enjoy Heady Topper right from the can so that the hop aromas they worked so hard to get into the beer don't escape. As the rebel I am, I decided to pour my Heady Topper into a glass (I really just wanted to get a picture of what the beer looks like out of the can).

Alchemist owner John Kimmich wasn't kidding in his lengthy description on the back of the Heady Topper can. The aroma of Heady Topper is off the hop chart! I never smelled a hoppier beer than this one. Heady Topper is an American Double India Pale Ale and is meant to give you "wave after wave of hoppy goodness on your palate" with each sip.

It is in that regard that Heady Topper succeeds. Everything about the beer screams hops and more hops with hops added on top of those hops. In all seriousness though this beer is ridiculously hoppy, almost too hoppy. For those of you who don't like the taste of hops or beers on the bitter end of the spectrum this one isn't for you.

As Tom and I drank this beer for the first time all we could collectively think was that there was almost too much hop flavor within it. By the time both of us got to the end of our cans we didn't want any more hops taking over our taste buds.

I think Tom said it best when he described the experience as taking a handful of hops and then putting it in your mouth and chewing on it. TOO MUCH HOPPINESS even for us hop lovers.

What it's like to drink Heady Topper: putting all of this in your mouth at the same time

Tom and I appreciate a good IPA, double IPA, or even triple IPA, but Heady Topper took it to the next level. Heady Topper had an aftertaste that stuck with us long after we finished drinking the beer. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed drinking Heady Topper (it was very smooth) and I'm glad I did, it just had too much of a good thing. If you're not in the mood for a hoppy beer then by all means don't pick up a can of Heady Topper. You really have to prepare yourself for the Hoptastic experience that you will imminently meet if you decide to pour some into your mouth.
Good, but only when drank sparingly
Heady Topper was brewed by The Alchemist, a brewery located in Waterbury, Vermont. It has an ABV of 8.0% and a hop reading of a planet composed entirely of hops. If you ever see it in stores give it a try, but be forewarned of the hoppy beating your tastebuds will receive after opening a can.

My Rating: 7.5/10

Monday, February 17, 2014

Big Mel and Lisa

Today I'll be doing something I have never done before in a Beer Blog. I'm going to review a beer that was brewed and given to me by a friend. You won't be able to find this beer in a beer store (yet!). I introduce to you a beer that my friend Mel and his family brewed that they call Big Mel and Lisa.

Besides going out of their way to brew a very tasty beer, Mel and his family even took it a step further by creating their own labels for the growlers they put their beer in. When I first took a look at it I was pleasantly surprised at how profession it looked. If I walked into any beer store and saw a bottle of Big Mel and Lisa on a shelf with the rest of the beers they sold I wouldn't think it was anything out of the ordinary. That's how good the label looks. But onto a more important matter. How was the beer??

Poured into my Bull Frog Brewery pint glass, Big Mel and Lisa had a light brown color to it with a bit of cloudiness and had a generous amount of head.

It's hard for me to exactly pinpoint both the smell and taste of the beer. Sweet and malty, Big Mel and Lisa was a very good beer and one that I could not stop drinking. Everything about it to me just seemed well done and balanced in a way that provided a flavor and sweetness I couldn't get enough of. (I think I might have tasted cinnamon undertones and a hint of fruit as well?)

My friend Erica agreed that it was a great beer. We both had multiple glasses of it throughout the night. One thing's for sure; Mel and his family have brewed a beer that, in my honest opinion as a beer blogger, could butt heads with the beers released by the big name companies. Sam Adams and Blue Moon have nothing on Mel and his family operated brewing company.

Well done Mel, Lisa and family on a beer my friends and I thoroughly enjoyed. I can't wait to try some of your future brews!

Big Mel and Lisa was brewed by my friend Mel and his family in Bay Shore, New York. The ABV was around 8.0% and it was given to me in a 32 oz growler for my review.

Thanks Mel! 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Hopslam Ale (Bells)

Today I'll be talking about a beer that Tom has been anxiously waiting weeks for; Bell's Hopslam Ale:

Up until this year Hopslam has only been available to purchase in areas other than New York and Long Island. Luckily for us the Michigan based brewery decided to give us a taste of what Hopslam has to offer in 2014.

Tom asked Big John of Lake Ronkonkoma Beverage weeks leading up to Hopslam's release if he would be getting some in. Big John said he would see what he could do and he delivered!

Hopslam currently has a 100 score on Beer Advocate and is deemed as one of the best double IPAs in existence. Tom and I had to see what all the hubbub was about so we each got a six pack and set a night aside just to give it a sampling. At 10.0% ABV we knew this wouldn't be a going-anywhere-anytime-soon beer.

Tom's expression was nothing short of sheer excitement before taking his first sip

We both cracked open our bottles and let the tasting experience commence. The smell of Hopslam was that of a sweet, citrusy, hoppy aroma; almost like a sweet grapefruit with hops around it. The appearance was slightly cloudy with a nice light orange color that looked very appetizing.
Tastes as good as it looks, if not better!

The taste was out of this world. It was the absolute perfect balance of hops and sweetness, which allows me to confidently say this statement: Hopslam is the most drinkable IPA I've ever had. Let me explain. With most IPAs the person drinking is met with bitterness and a biting experience that may be too intense for most people to enjoy the beer. With Hopslam that bitterness is taken out of the equation and replaced with sweetness that is in no way overbearing, but rather welcoming. The honey that Hopslam is brewed with finds its way through the hops and high alcohol content and travels straight to your taste buds with each sip. Like I said before citrus also makes its way to the flavor, almost like they took a honey soaked grapefruit or tangerine and blended it into a delicious beverage. The hops are still present in the flavor, but are more in background as they let the honey and sweetness take center stage.

I wanted to open another bottle right after finishing my first, but I decided to hold myself back from the temptation. It was 10.0% ABV and I was already feeling tired before drinking it. After one bottle I was ready to lie down.

While drinking I came up with a clever analogy that Tom thought I should use to describe Hopslam in this review. Think of other IPAs as a sweet potato. A cooked sweet potato, plain with nothing added to it. While it's good as all sweet potatoes are, there's something missing. Something that could have been added to make the sweet potato eating experience even better. Hopslam is that very same sweet potato except it's slathered in butter and has cinnamon and brown sugar sprinkled on it. Why eat a plain sweet potato when you can have a superior one with delicious sweetness added to it? I could use the same argument for Hopslam. Why drink an average IPA that doesn't sway too far from the IPA formula when you can have Hopslam that was brewed with honey?

I rest my case. Hopslam is an IPA that should be tried by everyone. It will change your perspective on what makes for a great IPA. You will never look at other IPAs the same way again after trying Hopslam...I guarantee it.

Bell's Brewery is located in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Hopslam is brewed only once a year every winter and the supply of it is very limited in Long Island and the New York area. Call your local beer store and get it while you can! 


Sunday, February 9, 2014

Southampton's Russian Imperial Stout Release Party 2014

Each year breweries from around the world create their signature beers for the enjoyment of their loyal customers, who know that they will be getting a beer that they love from the companies they trust. Southampton Publick House is one of those very companies. Every year around the end of January they release their Russian Imperial Stout both on tap and in bottles for all beer lovers to enjoy. The same day they also release some of their very limited brews, some of which have never seen the light of day before. Attending one of their release parties (they usually fall on a Saturday) is the only way to try these beers for yourself and to grab a couple of bottles before they're gone until next year.

The 2014 RIS release party fell on February 8, this past Saturday. Without question Rob, Tom and I made the journey to the Publick house about an hour away so we could revel in some fine beer drinking.

The view of the Publick House on the cold morning of February 8, 2014

We arrived at the Publick House extra early so we could each get one of the beer tickets they were handing out at 9AM, guaranteeing you the maximum number of bottles of each beer. On each ticket you then write in how many beers you would like to purchase, within the limit. They also list the price of each beer and the size of each bottle.

Besides Russian Imperial Stout, which they have every year, this time they had Scotch Ale and Double Ice Bock available for purchase. Southampton Scotch Ale is described as being brewed with traditional Scottish "Golden Promise" malt to deliver the biscuity, slight vanilla character and balanced with imported UK hops. It is 8.4% ABV. The Double Ice Bock is produced when a Bock beer is partially frozen to increase its alcohol content. The process is done twice which why it is called a Double Ice Bock. Its resulting ABV was that of a whopping 18% and the reason why it was only sold in a 7oz bottle and you could only buy one.

After filling out my beer ticket I spent some time talking with the Brewmaster of Southampton, Evan Addario. He asked me where I was from and we talked about the beers he brews. He made me feel welcome and I could tell he loved his job with how friendly he was, especially earlier in the day when he was handing out beer tickets with a big smile on his face as he greeted everyone.

Myself and Brewmaster Evan Addario

We then waited until the Publick House was set to open at 11AM. The time came and we shuffled inside with the rest of the crowd. Evan handed out complimentary Southampton pint glasses to us as we all passed the front counter. The turn out was great and there was a lot of people just as excited to try these delicious beers on tap as we were.

Everyone attending was all smiles as they drank some tasty Southampton beer

As we paid for our beers I got my first taste of Southampton's Scotch Ale in the pint glass provided.

I was met with a very pleasant surprise. The Scotch Ale both smelled and tasted like caramel, sweet delicious caramel. I loved it and couldn't get enough. I even told Evan on 2 or 3 different occasions, as he was passing by, how much I liked it.

Rob also got a Scotch Ale on tap, while Tom went with the Russian Imperial Stout for his first pint.

Good Beers, Good Times

I tried some of Tom's Russian Imperial Stout and while I did like it, I didn't enjoy it as much as the Scotch Ale.

I ended up buying 1 bottle of the Russian Imperial Stout, 2 bottles of the Scotch Ale and 1 bottle of the 7oz Double Ice Bock.

I thought it was funny how much smaller the bottle of Double Ice Bock was compared to the other two offerings. I've never seen beer sold in that small of a bottle before.
On a side note, the Southampton employees who were collecting our orders for us after we showed our receipts were super friendly. They wanted to make sure we got our bottles as quickly as possible with little to no waiting.

 One of the smoothest transactions

After we finished our first pints, we put our purchased bottles in my car and went back inside for some brunch on the restaurant side of the Publick House.

For $15 bucks we got to choose whatever brunch item we wanted as well as an included 12oz draft pour. I ordered the french toast with a side of bacon and a plate of scrambled eggs with toast. Each meal was complete with a garnish which included a piece of strawberry and an orange slice. I chose a 12oz of Scotch Ale to go with my meal.

The best breakfast I've had in a long time

The food was delicious. Everything about it was perfect and I couldn't have asked for a better breakfast. There was nothing left on either of my plates by the time I was through.
Overall my experience at the 2014 Southampton Russian Imperial Stout release party was everything I hoped for plus more. Tom walked away with 3 bottles of Russian Imperial Stout, while I had a spread of everything that Southampton had to offer that day.
Tom and I with some of the beers we purchased

I want to personally thank Evan and the rest of the Southampton crew that made this day possible and so memorable for me and everyone else who attended. I will be back every year you guys have a release party.

Here's a few more shots I took during the day of the event:
  The line outside the Publick House to get a ticket
Tom, myself and Rob waiting on line
The view of the bar

Southampton Publick House is located at 40 Bowden Square in Southampton, NY. They serve brunch and lunch from 12-3PM each Saturday and Sunday and are open 7 days a week for dinner. They have rotating out-of-this-world offerings on tap and I have never left disappointed.

If you liked this blog please check out some of the other ones I've written on my page here including my zany retelling of the Southampton release party I went to two years ago.