The More You Know…About BEER!: Old Foghorn

November 25, 2009

Editor’s Note: Since this is Thanksgiving week, instead of having our beer review on Friday we’ll have it a smidgin earlier so you can all revel in your beerful knowledge before your tryptophan-induced comas. Happy Turkey Day everyone!

Old Foghorn
By Anchor Brewing Co. (San Francisco, CA)
12 fl oz.
8.8% ABV

Anchor Old Foghorn

Anchor Old Foghorn

Bottle Description:
San Francisco’s celebrated Old Foghorn Ale has been virtually handmade by the brewers of Anchor Steam Beer, in one of the world’s smallest and most traditional breweries, since 1975. Our barleywine-style ale, the first of its kind in modern times in the United States, has a luscious depth of flavor that makes it ideal for sipping after dinner. It is made with top-fermenting yeast, fresh whole hops, and “first wort,” the richest runnings of a thick all-malt mash. Old Foghorn is “dry-hopped” in the classic ale tradition and aged in our cellars until it attains the perfect balance of malty sweetness, estery fruitiness, and exquisite hop character, for which it is known throughout the world.

Barleywine is one of my favorite styles the beer world has to offer. Is it called a barleywine because it’s produced with grapes? Not at all. The English Barleywine was one of the first beers to be brewed to the “strength of wine,” hence barley-wine. The original version tended to be sweeter and extremely malty but with just enough hops to balance the sweetness. And what did we Americans do? We hopped the crap out of it. Furthermore, the residual sweetness is a result of the yeast failing to ferment all the sugars in the beer resulting in a malty sweet, alcoholic beverage. These beers age well, keep a few.

Old Foghorn 6-pack

Old Foghorn 6-pack

A six-pack for $12.99? Risky purchase since they don’t offer this in single bottles. Worth it? We’ll see…Amber brownish in color with a tan-beige colored head that has medium retention. This barleywine is quite opaque, seems to be unfiltered. The aroma starts off a little musky with some cloves. Hop aroma is very mild with hints of orange and citrus. The malt dominates with flavors of figs and raisins. The initial sip is loaded with intense maltiness, with a strong hop bitterness following. The malt profile is simple but with emphasis on caramel/toffee and some bubblegum notes. The hops in this beer seem to focus more on bitterness rather than flavor. Very full-bodied with moderate level of carbonation and some alcoholic warmth. This beer is extremely rich and well-supported by the hops. This beer is definitely a after dinner sipping beer, savor it.

Category 19C: American Barleywine
Aroma: 10/12
Appearance: 3/3
Flavor: 16/20
Mouthfeel: 5/5
Overall: 6/10
Total: 40/50 — B+

– Ant

The More You Know…About BEER!: Hofbrau Original

November 6, 2009

Hofbrau Original
By Staatliches Hofbrauhaus (Munchen, Germany)
1 pint 0.9 fl oz (500mL) x2
5.1% ABV

Hofbrau Original

Hofbrau Original

Bottle Description:
The Hofbrauhaus am Platzl is a symbol for Munich’s hospitality, conviviality and sociableness. Guests from all over the world enjoy the famous specialties of Hofbrau Munchen there.

Hofbrau Original embodies the special atmosphere of the brewing metropolis Munich and carries this throughout the world. It’s full bodied, refreshing and its fine hard aroma have made it world famous. A Munich specialty with character!

Got this at BevMo! for $2.19, yet you can find this at any better beer store. Definitely a steal compared to other 500mL German beers. Poured out carefully into a 1L mug giving off a light sulfur aroma that fades into a soft floral yet spicy hop aroma with hints of corn and grainy malt sweetness in the background. The beer is golden in color and leaves a pretty resilient white head with brilliant clarity. I noticed some very small black specks on the head; I can’t tell if that came from the glass or the beer itself (yet its good to note in case). The clearness provides excellent viewing for its strong carbonation which almost rises up like soda bubbles (but smaller). A grainy pilsner malt taste dominates with a slight metallic taste on the back of the tongue. The malt profile is well supported by a moderate hop bitterness with a spicy hop flavor. The finish isn’t too dry but the malt kicks back in after the hops fade away. A medium bodied beer with moderate level of carbonation that provides a smooth mouthfeel. If you’re looking for a flavorful pale lager, this one is for you. Deliciously malty and supported by spicy hops which result in an excellent crafted commercial beer.

Category 1D: Munich Helles
Aroma: 11/12
Appearance: 3/3
Flavor: 17/20
Mouthfeel: 5/5
Overall: 7/10
Total: 43/50 — A-


The More You Know…About BEER!: Wailua Wheat

August 28, 2009

Wailua (Wheat Ale brewed with Passion Fruit)
By Kona Brewery (Kona, Hawaii)
355mL (12 fl. oz.)
5.4% ABV

Wailua Wheat

Wailua Wheat

Bottle Description:
Wailua is Hawaiian for two fresh water streams mingling. This was just the inspiration needed for our limited release Wheat Ale brewed with tropical passion fruit. A refreshing citrusy, sun-colored ale with the cool taste of Hawaii.

I forget when the official date for the “start of summer” is, but Wheat Ales are in season. Actually, Wheat Ales and DIPAs are the main styles brewed for summer. Don’t be surprised to see most breweries carrying these styles as their summer seasonal (Samuel Adams Summer, Anchor Summer, AleSmith YuleSmith, etc.) Kona Brewing Company, opened in 1994 brews delicious beers with a touch of Hawaiian culture blended in (or at least so I feel when I drink one). Bottled on 5/29/09. This beer is less than a month old; a very hard thing to acquire so young considering Kona Brewery is all the way in Hawaii.

Well-carbonated and not bottle-conditioned (no yeast sediments, soapy bubbles). This beer pours out dark gold in color with golden yellow hues with a bright white head that does not persist. Brilliant clarity. Smells of grainy wheat and light passion fruit flavors. No banana or clove aromas perceived (as those characteristics are more common with German Hefeweizens). Light bready malty sweetness carries into the background. The first taste is covered by a strong carbonic bite but fades into moderately wheaty flavors with passionfruit as a support to the malt/wheat. No hop aroma or hop flavors are present but there is an extremely low hop bitterness. The flavors are also reminiscent of pineapples. Light-medium bodied and quite refreshing with its high carbonation. Although I shouldn’t assume, I feel as if this beer benefits a lot from using an American ale yeast as opposed to the German Hefeweizen yeast since the banana/clove characteristics may have clashed with the aromas of the passion fruit and bready wheat. I can see myself enjoying this in someone’s backyard or next to a beach. A great summer beer. I’m a big fan of passion fruit and I think Kona Brewing Company did a great job pairing this flavor with a American Wheat Beer. However, I wish the passion fruit wasn’t as subtle (passion fruit has a light flavor that can be easily masked by more overwhelming flavors) and I hope to see a bottle-conditioned version.

Category 20: Fruit Beer
Aroma: 9/12
Appearance: 2/3
Flavor: 16/20
Mouthfeel: 5/5
Overall: 7/10
Total: 39/50 — B+


The More You Know…About BEER!: DIPAs!

July 24, 2009

Editor’s Note: Ant’s back! And he’s bringin’ a triple header this week. Happy mid-summer…ish weekend!

First off, I need to apologize for not posting the last two Fridays. Long story short, I had a run with a crazy roommate and had to move to another apartment in which my internet wasn’t set up until July 4th. Anyways, I hope everyone has been drinking good beer. A brewmaster once told me “You know, consumers these days don’t get enough credit. Especially those that choose to purchase craft beers. They know what they want, they know what carries quality, and they don’t need commercials telling them what to drink.” I totally agree. You like what you like. It’s okay to say you don’t like a certain beer…maybe that style isn’t right for you. Or maybe that beer just sucks. Everyone is born with taste buds, but not everyone has the same taste buds. Some people prefer malt flavors, some people prefer hoppiness, and some people prefer whack flavors produced by yeasts. Either way, no one should dictate what’s better other than you. They may educate you, but in the end its you who decides. If MGD is your favorite, it’s your favorite. If you love hop bombs like Stone’s Double Arrogant Bastard, awesome. Then again, the message carried behind the brewery or beer sometimes reflect your own way of life. If you’re a fisherman, you may like Ballast Point. If you love quality, you may drink AleSmith. If you enjoy funny commercials, Bud Lite may be your weapon of choice.

Instead of one beer, I’ll be reviewing three local San Diego beers of the same style. Double IPAs (DIPAs), also known as Imperial IPAs, are the hoppiest tasting beers and usually contains the most hops out of all the beer styles. BTW, the word “Imperial” originated from the style Russian Imperial Stout since this beer style was made specifically to withstand lengthy exports from Britain to the Russian Royal Court. Like the India Pale Ale, higher grain bill led to higher alcohol output (alcohol acts as a sort of preservative) and thus an increase in hops to balance out maltiness. So why do I mention this style? Modern breweries use the word “Imperial” to mention its alcoholic strength (Imperial Stouts average 8% ABV+ as opposed to regular Stouts which are 4% ABV). At the same time, some breweries feel “Double” is more adequate (yet, not all “Double” beers are double in strength or in any content). I’m not too sure myself, but DIPAs tend to be a summer seasonal beer. Although, I do feel that hoppy beers tend to quench my thirst more than malty beers. DIPAs are a recent American innovation by craft breweries to satisfy the needs of hop aficionados. I feel like the point of this style is intensity and a showcase for hops.

I originally had a lot to say about these beers, but I figured I’d spare the beer style technicalities and just give you my “Cliff’s Notes” style review.


Left to right: Ballast Point Dorado Double IPA, AleSmith YuleSmith, Pizza Port Hop 15 Ale

Category 14C: Imperial IPA

Ballast Point Dorado DIPA – (purchased from BevMo!)
22 fl. oz (650mL)
9.1% ABV
Bottle Description:
On a quest to make delicious beers, our brewers have continually sought out creative new ways to accentuate the delightfully aromatic and flavorful qualities of hops. Hopheads rejoice! Dorado Double IPA takes hops to a new level. Mash Hopping, First Wort Hopping, Kettle Hopping, and Dry Hopping, create an award winning beer that embodies San Diego’s reputation for making world class IPAs. Our bottled Robust Series gives all beer lovers an opportunity to try out most rare beers, previously available only on draft at select tap houses. Enjoy! Get the Point!

○ Aroma – light grapefruit (medium intensity); fruity esters, light sweet honey malt flavors (11/12)
○ Appearance – gold, hazy, almost no head, off-white head color (2/3)
○ Flavor – light hop flavors, taste the citrus/orange hops, honey and caramel malt flavors, a little hot (alcoholic) (17/20)
○ Mouthfeel – medium full bodied, medium high carbonation (5/5)
○ Overall – good introduction into the Double IPAs series (8/10)
Total – 43/50 — A- (Recommended). If you’re new to this style, definitely try this one first. Its moderate to moderately high hop flavors makes this a great example to test the waters of DIPAs.

AleSmith YuleSmith – (purchased from AleSmith Brewing Company)
22 fl. oz (650mL)
9.5% ABV
Commercial Description:
During the summer, YuleSmith is transformed into a big, hoppy, Double IPA. The enormous load of hops requires a substantial malt background to create just the right balance for a Double IPA. Lighter in color, summer YuleSmith is available around the 4th of July and is packaged in a red, white, and blue bottle.
○ Aroma – hoppy, pine, citrus, grapefruit (strong), low fruity esters, no malt aromas (11/12)
○ Appearance – blonde gold, hazy, fluffy white head, strongest head retention (3/3)
○ Flavor – most hop flavors, hop explosion, a little grassy, bready/biscuity malt flavors, slight apricot flavor (18/20)
○ Mouthfeel – medium full bodied, soft medium carbonation (5/5)
○ Overall – best hop flavor in terms of double IPA (9/10)
Total – 46/50 — A (Highly Recommended). Definitely the hoppiest and most complex hop bouquet of the beers sampled today. If your looking for all the flavors found in hops, you’ve found the pot of gold.

Pizza Port Hop 15 Ale -(purchased from BevMo!)
22 fl. oz (650mL)
10.0% ABV
Bottle Description:
Our beer oozes all the hop goodness you would expect to find in a Double IPA. In your nose, you will experience a citric hop quality which is balanced by a slight malt sweetness, the essence of a great Double IPA is hops and as such the beer finishes with a pronounced spicy hop bite. Thankfully, for all of us hop-heads, we have decided to brew this beer more than once a year. Look for Hop 17 to make an appearance from time to time when space permits us to brew this, one of our favorite ales.
○ Aroma – musty aroma, fruity (light), some papery/cardboard aroma (oxidation?) (8/12)
○ Appearance – orange gold, hazy, light off white head (3/3)
○ Flavor – hoppy with strong caramelized malt flavors, slight oxidation, slight sherry notes, hop bitterness noticed but low hop flavors (15/20)
○ Mouthfeel – full bodied, medium carbonation (5/5)
○ Overall – must be an old bottle, hop flavors are off (6/10)
Total – 37/50 — B (Average). I hate to say it, but this bottle kinda sucks. It must have been sitting on the shelves too long considering all the negative oxidation flavors I encountered. I probably will give it another try since it placed Bronze in the DIPA category at GABF 2008.

* From now on, I will be giving each total score a grade so its more clear how I feel about the certain beer.






Highly Recommended















Excellent Homebrew






Not Recommended


Carnival of Blogs: July 12th – July 18th

July 18, 2009

This week in random news!

Bill Gates wants to build a better beer keg. Maybe it’ll hold Kool-Aid too.

Mood Literally Affects How We See The World – Don’t worry, be happy.

The More You Know…About BEER: Paulaner Salvator

June 19, 2009

Paulaner Salvator
By Paulaner Braurei (Schörghuber, Munich, Germany)
500mL (1 pt. 09 fl. oz.)
7.9% ABV

Paulaner Salvator

Paulaner Salvator

Commercial Description:
The Paulaner Salvator with its strong,typically malty taste is the original Paulaner. The bottom-fermented Doppelbock-Bier unites the finest hops and dark barley malt. The Paulaner monks served Salvator as a replacement for food at Lent. Their most famous brewer was Brother Barnabas, who was the head of the Paulaner monastery brewery starting from 1773. Its original recipe is today almost the same as it was in Barnabas’ time. In order to protect the original recipe, Paulaner had the trade mark “Salvator” patented in 1896.

Original wort 18,3%
alcohol 7,9%
calories 68,0 kcal/100 m

When I hear Doppelbocks, I think of one word: malty. Doppelbock means “double bock,” and this was coined by its Munich consumers. Before I get to Doppelbocks, let’s talk about its precursor, the Bock. Last week, we basically had tried a Smoked Bock (Aecht Schlenkerla Urbock). There are many stories where the word “Bock” originated from. I will only speak of the two dominant ones. First, many scholars believed it originated from the town it was created in, Einbeck. This town was well-known for this dark, strong, malty lager and the name “Bock” came from the corruption of the name “Einbeck” in the Bavarian dialect. Second, the word “Bock” also means “billy-goat” in German and you’ll see it used in logos and advertisements for this style. The Doppelbock itself is stronger version of the Traditional Bock or the Helles Bock, not necessarily double the strength.

The Doppelbock was first brewed in Munich by the monks of St. Francis of Paula. The modern versions are more well-attenuated (drier, fermented out) than the historical versions, which were sweeter and lower in alcohol levels (hence the term “liquid bread” by the monks). I bet some of you have noticed that most breweries that make Doppelbocks will end the name of those beers with the suffix “-ator.” That is either as a tribute to the prototypical Paulaner Salvator or to take advantage of Salvator’s popularity.

Paulaner Salvator’s Doppelbock pours our reddish-copper to light amber. The head is tan-colored and has tightly formed creamy head with moderately-low retention. Malt profile smells of caramel, plums, and dates and a slight hint of grapes. Despite its high alcohol content, the aroma is quite smooth without any fusel (high alcohols found in distilled beverages) warming. No hop aroma is present. Initially, toasty plum/raisin-like malt flavors dominate but is finished but a moderate floral hop spiciness giving it a moderately dry finish. There is a smooth alcoholic warming but isn’t harsh or astringent. The low spicy hop character helps detract from the heavy malty sweetness but doesn’t quite balance it. This beer is definitely full-bodied and has a low level of carbonation that is subtle but perceivable. A very big bold malty lager with lots of malt complexity. The sweetness comes from low hopping, not underattenuation (incomplete fermentation). Probably the most classic example of a Doppelbock. I would find this to be most enjoyable on a cold summer night or even as a desert.

Category 5C: Doppelbock
Aroma: 11/12
Appearance: 3/3
Flavor: 18/20
Mouthfeel: 5/5
Overall: 9/10
Total: 46/50


The More You Know…About BEER: Aecht Schlenkerla Urbock

June 13, 2009

Aecht Schlenkerla Urbock
By Brauereu Heller Bamberg, Germany
500mL (1 pt. 09 fl. oz.)
6.5% ABV

Aecht Schlenkerla Urbock

Aecht Schlenkerla Urbock

Bottle Description:
Aecht Schlenkerla Urbock is the intense sibling of the classic Maerzen Smokebeer. Exactly like the classic all its barley malts are smoked over beech wood logs. Its higher smokemalt concentration and longer maturation in the 700 year old cellars underneath Bamberg create a taste profile of the most intense smokiness beautifully balanced with deep malt sweetness.

I was recently reminded of this beer by Artie who had first tried it at Hamilton’s Tavern in Northpark. If you’ve never been, its definitely a place to check out. Beware though, its quite small and often crowded. Unfortunately, as of what I know, they don’t serve food in the actual bar but they do have a Hamilton’s Café on the side…which has pretty mediocre food considering its extremely appealing descriptions. Just in my opinion that is. Speaking of beer bars, taverns, and pubs, North Park has quite a selection out there. Toronado, which originated in San Francisco opened up not too long ago in 2008, offers great deals (especially their Monday Happy Hour all night with ALL DRAFT BEERS for $3–gonna have to double check on the price though). The Linkery, although I’ve never been, is well-known for its exotic hand-made cuisine. I’ve heard occasionally they serve a kind of lard ice cream with candied bacon bits…Mmmmm. Ritual Tavern which is right across the street from Toronado provides an “Old World” atmosphere with excellent fresh and seasonal ingredients in their foods. If North Park isn’t your thing for beer, you can also check out PB Taproom in Pacific Beach (best website for live beers list), Blind Lady Alehouse in Normal Heights, or Obrien’s on Convoy. Definitely check out their websites, most of them have updated lists of what beers they have on draft and in bottles.

Back to the beer, Aecht Schlenkerla Urbock, which is difficult spelling as well as pronouncing can be purchased at BevMo! and some Whole Foods for under $4. Or, Hamilton’s like Artie mentioned to me before. I actually had tried this beer twice before this review, once in San Jose where I had purchased it at the Cupertino Whole Foods and the other time for my BJCP class. Brauerei (Brewery) Heller Bamberg
Is famous for creating this original style, Rauchbier. Actually, the Classic Rauchbier is brewed with 20-100% beechwood-smoked Vienna malt with the remainder being German malts typically found in the Maerzen style. The beer up for review today is listed as an Urbock Rauchbier, so its remainder malts are probably the ones you would find in a Bock. This type of beer is a historical specialty in Bamberg, in the Franconian region of Bavaria in Germany (if that means anything to anyone who’s been there). I haven’t learned enough about this beer to really comment about its origins (other than the geographical) but its unique flavor is definitely worth mentioning. The aroma will be dominated by its malt (bready/toasty/malty) and its smoke (smoky/woody/bacon-like). When I first had this bottle in San Jose, Vince, Sam, and I all agree that this was basically BBQ in a bottle. It was teeming of bacon and BBQ smoke. So if you love bacon or the smell of smoke, this is the beer for you.

Forgetting that I was reviewing this beer I had poured this beer carefully as not to disturb the carbonation (45 degree angle). I forget if I had mentioned this before, but when aiming to fully taste a beer, its ideal to pour down the middle of the glass to break the CO2 out of solution so the aromas of the beer are released. This beer poured out dark amber-brown with multi-sized glass bubbles leaving a off-white head with low retention. I could be wrong, but judging but the bubbles, this beer is probably not bottle-conditioned (not refermented in the bottle). The aromas are reminiscent of hickory smoke barbeque. The smoky levels are moderately high but a sweet toasted malt aroma follows through in the background. Some hints of wood and bacon are also noticed. No hop aromas are perceived. This Rauchbier pretty much tastes how it smells with a high level of smokiness/woodiness. The hop flavors are unperceivable to my palate but there is a decent amount of bitterness that follows at the end to balance the sweet toasty malt profile. Very clean in flavor with no noticeable fruity esters or diacetyl (buttery popcorn flavor). Finishes quite dry, the smokiness may be enhancing this perception. A medium-bodied beer with moderate level of carbonation. Considering this is one of the original Rauchbier, its hard to give this an accurate scoring other than how it matches the descriptions of the BJCP guidelines. Seemingly it would be appropriate to score this a 50/50, I still feel there can always be improvements to made to aspects such as aroma and flavor (scores that I would probably never score 100%). As to enjoyment, I found this beer to one of my favorite styles considering I love smoked flavors and barbeque. The dryness of this finish is well supported by the smoke and I think would pair well with grilled foods and smoked gouda (a recent favorite cheese I bought from Bristol Farms).

Category 22A: Classic Rauchbier
Aroma: 11/12
Appearance: 3/3
Flavor: 18/20
Mouthfeel: 5/5
Overall: 9/10
Total: 46/50