Friday, April 25, 2008

Wise words from Magic Hat's hI.P.A.

I opened a bottle of Magic Hat's hI.P.A. -- delightfully, if heavily, hopped -- and found this under the bottle cap:

Don't pour
Sap
on your
Lap

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Billy Bock is back at Quigley's Plate & Pint in Pawleys Island, SC

Billy Bock has returned to Quigley's Plate and Pint.

The brewpub in Pawleys Island, SC, has put the seasonal beer on tap earlier than it did last year. Owner Josh Quigley said he might not have a special summer seasonal in 2008.

He said he'll be busy enough keeping up with demand for his six core beers, especially if the traffic of the last four weeks are an indication of what's to come when the summer tourists arrive.

Monday, April 14, 2008

A visit to Foothills Brewing in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

After a hike around Pilot Mountain, why not drink some Pilot Mountain Pale Ale?

I went to Foothills Brewing at 638 West Fourth Street in Winston-Salem, N.C., after spending most of Sunday at Pilot Mountain State Park with two of my daughters.

Of course I ordered the Foothills Brewing sampler, which included six of the microbrewery's standards in 10-ounce glasses for $7.99. The server offered me the option of adding the seasonal brew to the sampler for $1, so I did.

Here are my notes:

Salem Gold: This ale was the lightest offering. It had a pronounced wheat flavor and a crisp, clean finish.

Pilot Mountain Pale Ale: A swallow of this gave me one of the cleanest finished I've had from a pale ale. Definite hints of grapefruit and lemonade.

Torch Pilsner: Not strong. Complete and pleasant. I thought it had a slightly lighter body than other pilsners, but that's probably just me.

Hoppyum IPA: As advertised, Hoppyum IPA has "citrusy hops." It is strongly hopped but not extremely hopped like some IPAs these days. Definite presense of grapefruit. Maybe some orange peel in the aftertaste.

Rainbow Trout ESB: Accessible and very drinkable, with a touch of tartness. Yet I thought it didn't have quite as much traditional ESB character in its flavor. I couldn't put my finger on it. It definitely had a hint of roasted-nut in the finish; the sampler placemat had said "nutty chocolate finish." I enjoyed it.

Hurricane Hefeweizen: This seasonal was clean and dry -- perhaps even a bit drier than other hefeweizens I have tried. I thought I tasted a touch of bubblegum in the yeast. No hints of banana, which some hefeweizens have.

Total Eclipse Stout: This was an amazing stout. It's the closest thing to cold coffee I've ever tasted in a beer. If you've had high-quality coffees before, you'll know that some have a rich, almost liqueur-like touch to them. That's what this is like. The richness had me drinking more; the robust, coffee-like bitterness had me looking for the sugar!

Most accessible: Salem Gold, Torch Pilsner, Rainbow Trout ESB

Biggest surprise: Total Eclipse Stout

Visit Foothills Brewing online at http://www.foothillsbrewing.com/. The site includes a list of other eateries in the Carolinas that serve Foothills Brewing beers.

-Colin Foote Burch

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Steel Reserve 211: The blue collar, working man's high-gravity union-made lager


Shop Amazon - Thanksgiving Dinner and Desserts - Prepare the Perfect Feast Miller Brewing Co. so badly wants every-day, unpretentious people to drink Steel Reserve 211 high-gravity lager, it comes in masculine silver cans with tough typography. The "UNION MADE" notification even seems a bit larger than it appears on other beers. See, this high-gravity beer ain't for sissies with British accents -- get it? It's a real man's beer, none of this handcrafted, black-turtleneck stuff.

But wait -- they're not taking the beer snob for granted. The can (I'm holding an empty 24-ounce size) also says "EXTRA MALTED BARLEY & SELECT HOPS FOR EXTRA GRAVITY" and "SLOW BREWED...." What's more, the parent company, Miller Brewing, appears nowhere on the can, as if the marketing and packaging geniuses wanted to leave room for me to believe that it might just be brewed by a ballsy microbrewery or an gutsy small company. Well, it worked. I had hoped.

And now, the meaning of the 211. It's the medieval symbol for steel.

How elemental.

The taste of this beer is well-balanced and targeted at mainstream drinkers, the kinds of folks who like Bud and Coors and MGD but might be persuaded by the 6-percent rating to try something stronger than normal. (I didn't know we called anything above 5 percent "high-gravity;" I mean, with most high-gravity beers in the 7-10 percent range, Steel Reserve 211 only counts as a high-gravity beer in the very technical sense of the definition.) The marketing and packaging folks are eager to boast about the beer with all the strong, manly writing all over the can, but the taste is determined not to offend. Ergo, it is a bit bland, if well-balanced and accessible.

That being said, members of BeerAdvocate.com gave it low scores.

I think it's a cool thing, however, to see a high-gravity beer in cans. I drank a 24-ouncer ($1.33), and I've also seen 12-packs ($7.20). Maybe Steel Reserve 211, backed by Miller Brewing Co., will start a new trend of high-gravity canned brews.

cheers,
Colin Foote Burch

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Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Horn Dog!


Flying Dog's Horn Dog Barley Wine Style Ale is as gorgeous at Penelope Cruz, strong as Jean Claud Van Damme, and quick as Jet Li.

I'll be writing about it in the Weekly Surge soon. Stay tuned.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Interview with co-founder of Gordon Biersch; news from new Gordon Biersch location, now opened in Myrtle Beach

My recent conversation with Dan Gordon, co-founder of Gordon Biersch, uncovered news about the company's expansion plans. The following is from my column in the Weekly Surge in Myrtle Beach, SC:

The Market Common location in Myrtle Beach, S.C., is the 26th Gordon Biersch. Four weeks ago, a location opened in Kansas City, Mo. In November, Gordon plans to open in nearby Overland Park, Kan. Meanwhile, a Plano, Texas, location is due in May; Taipei, Taiwan, in June; and Annapolis, Md., in October.

Within a year, bottles of Marzen, Czech Lager, Hefeweizen, and Blond Boch - available at retailers in other parts of the country - will be distributed throughout the Southeast.

The expansion of Gordon's company, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary, was enabled by sound, long-term planning. "Nationally, the restaurant industry is down, and we're not," he said.

Gordon liked The Market Common concept because the development includes homes. "This kind of place, with the residential built in, is amazingly beneficial to us," he said

Read the full Beerman column in the Weekly Surge.