Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Out on sick leave...


Mugsy and Jugsy are under the weather (and therefore cannot properly smell or taste beer!) Reviews will resume as soon as we feel better!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Stone to Considering Brewery in Europe


Just a quick note in the midst of the Christmas hustle & bustle to share the news that Stone Brewing is considering opening up a brewery in Europe! (Mugsy and Jugsy still haven't made the trek to the San Diego brewery! Although, in all fairness, we're waiting for Santa to bring us our new digital camcorder.)

Wouldn't it be funny if we made it to Stone Brewery in Europe first? Stranger things have happened!

Stay tuned for our next Winter Brew review tomorrow....

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Rogue Santa's Private Reserve Ale


Beer: Santa's Private Reserve Ale
Brewed by: Rogue Ales, Newport, OR, USA
Bottle: 1 pint 6 fluid oz.
Type: Red Ale
ABV: 6.0%
IBU's: 44
Served in: Pint glass
Place of purchase: Beverages & More (BevMo)
Price: $5.49

"Going Rogue" is more than Sarah Palin's new autobiography - Mugsy and Jugsy are going "Rogue" for the holidays! As our two beeraucrats continue their sojourn into Winter beer reviews, it seems that a little nip of Santa's Private Reserve is just the thing to take the chill off, as everyone waits patiently for "The Man with the Bag."

In every proper review, your trusted husband & wife team of Beeraucrats will examine the Appearance, Aroma, Taste, Mouth-Feel, Drinkability and Overall Rating of the Beer and arrive at a Total Score from 1 to 10.


Santa's Private Reserve Ale


APPEARANCE:

Mugsy:
Medium to dark brown in color which turns into a beautiful copper shade when held to light. Also, when held to light, beer appears extremely murky and cloudy. However, carbonation can be seen through the swampiness if you look hard enough. Thin head which quickly dissipates into a VERY thin head. Very little lacing left on the glass.
Jugsy: Brownish-red and opaque. Looks a little bit like swamp water! Frothy head disappears in seconds (couldn't even capture it on film)!

AROMA:

Mugsy:
Sweet, roasted malts are the first scent to strike the nose. Slight aroma of caramel follows, along with just a touch of sweet yeast. The overall aroma comes off as extremely sweet. This is like a candy shop in a glass.
Jugsy: Smells Earthy, like warm honey-wheat bread. Slight caramel and toffee aromas, along with the roasted malts, seem to marry quite nicely with the piny hops scent. There's also more than a hint of sourdough. The aromas are present yet in delicate form, making them different to parse.

TASTE:


Mugsy:
Wow. The taste is not at all what I expected after smelling it. Extremely bitter roasted (almost burnt) malts are the first thing to hit the tongue. This tastes almost like rye. Very toasty. The hops are there too, but overpowered by the malt. Aftertaste is that of dark, semi-sweet (emphasis on the "semi") chocolate. There is also kind of woodsy or bark flavor that comes in as an aftertaste.
Jugsy: Call me crazy but is there peppermint candy in this? Because it tastes like someone swirled a candy cane in my beer! Having said that, the taste is predominately roasted malts with a strong hops presence. (Chinook an Centennial according to the bottle.) I can still taste the warm honey and wheat bread in the body of this ale.

MOUTH-FEEL:

Mugsy:
While this ale tastes like it would be chewy, the mouth-feel is surprisingly light and almost a little watery. Goes back extremely easily. It does leave a strong coating on the tongue, as if you've been chewing on sawdust.
Jugsy: This is a light-tasting, smooth beer with a lot of flavor (some subtle, some not-so-subtle). Not a lot of carbonation present. Leaves a very hoppy, almost piny or woodsy coating on the tongue.

DRINKABILITY:

Mugsy:
No problem to have several of these, especially at 6.0% ABV. However, the bark-like aspect of the aftertaste might be a little off-putting, especially if seeking refreshment or just a session night with the guys and gals.
Jugsy: Very drinkable and enjoyable ale. Not only is it flavorful and not too heavy, but at 6% ABV, most of our friends could certainly handle drinking this all night.

OVERALL:


Mugsy:
Quite interesting. After getting so much sweetness from the aroma of this beer, I was completely surprised by the bitter taste. Now, don't get me wrong - I like bitter beer just as much as a sweeter brew, sometimes more so. And that wood-like aftertaste is so unique. It's quite obvious that the folks at Rogue really do care about what they brew. This beer is fairly complex and certainly not your run-of-the-mill ale or Winter ale, for that matter. However, it all comes down to the question, "would I drink this again?" And the answer is "Yes, but as a novelty." The complexity and uniqueness of flavors are a hit with me, but it's not quite balanced, with the hops being far overshadowed by the bitter malt. And the bark-like aftertaste while without a doubt different, left me kind of wanting to wash it back with something else. Would pair with bold foods like heavy barbecues or rich, dark stews.
Jugsy: I admit that I wasn't expecting much out of this beer. Maybe it was the packaging -- of Rogue's beer in general, as well as the Santa's Private Reserve. It was too cutesy for my liking and I questioned the potential quality of the brew itself. Boy was I wrong! I truly enjoyed the successful balance of flavors in this ale. The folks at Rogue got it right. Although they recommend pairing it with beef or pork, I am thoroughly enjoying on my own! Perhaps it would pair well with our X-Mas Tofurkey? What do you say, Mugsy?

SCORE:
Mugsy: 6.85

Jugsy: 7.50

Friday, December 18, 2009

Full Sail Wassail


Beer: Full Sail Wassail
Brewed by: Full Sail Brewing, Hood River, OR, USA
Bottle: 12 Fluid ounces
Type: Winter ale
ABV: 7%
Served in: Pint glass
Place of purchase: Trader Joe's
Price: $6.99 per six-pack

As we venture further into the holiday season, the Winter ales become all the more readily available at the local watering holes and purveyors of liquid refreshment. For this review, Jugsy and Mugsy find ourselves tasting the product of the tiny, 47 man-powered craft brewforce that is Full Sail Brewing. The Wassail, brewed with four different malts and Pacific Northwest hops promises to be a beer lover's Winter Wonderland. Season's greetings!

In every proper review, your trusted husband & wife team of Beeraucrats will examine the Appearance, Aroma, Taste, Mouth-Feel, Drinkability and Overall Rating of the Beer and arrive at a Total Score from 1 to 10.

Full Sail Wassail

APPEARANCE:


Mugsy: Deep bronze brown with slight red tones when held to light. Very thin head that dissipates to almost nothing very quickly. Leaves only a little lacing.
Jugsy: Dark brown with reddish hues. Almost no head to speak of and no visible carbonation. It looks like a tall, flat glass of Coca-Cola.


AROMA:

Mugsy: Strong scent of malt that includes hints of caramel, coffee and chocolate. Undertones are of slight hopppiness and a yeast that smells almost, well, like sweet cream.
Jugsy: Roasted, burnt malts and a slight smell of funky, bitter yeast. Coffee and bourbon vanilla scents are secondary. I can also detect a very light hint of peppermint candy. Smells bitter-sweet.

TASTE:

Mugsy: First off, the malt provides a somewhat sweet taste of raspberry preserves and roastiness of coffee. The hops provide a fair bit of bitterness but the malt is without a doubt the star in this show. Aftertaste is slightly of dark chocolate.
Jugsy: Roasted malt and bitter hops comprise the initial flavor. There may be a hint of cloves along with the funky yeast taste. Aftertaste is bitter coffee grounds with a touch of hops coating on the tongue.

MOUTHFEEL:

Mugsy: Fairly watery going down, much more so than most seasonal ales. Very little carbonation. Does coat the tongue quite a bit, though.
Jugsy: The Wassail feels watery and thin, not at all creamy like its Winter brew compatriots. The carbonation is mild and the beer has a very light feeling overall. Goes down like water.


DRINKABILITY:

Mugsy: Would have no problem with a few of these even at 7% ABV, however, the slight sweetness does make it seem like it might be a little headache-inducing.
Jugsy: The beer is certainly drinkable - particularly if you hate doing dishes, as no lacing whatsoever is left behind on the glass. If you enjoy bitter beers and want a somewhat higher ABV withouth the heaviness, then this is your beer.

OVERALL:

Mugsy: Not bad. The somewhat watery finish could be a plus if pairing with a rich holiday meal. It could also be a minus if expecting to warm up by the fire while chewing one your more typical seasonal ales. This is not a terrible beer by any means. However, after being extremely pleased by Full Sail's other brews (their Amber Ale and IPA are solid and their Pale Ale and LTD are FANTASTIC and highly recommended), I was slightly underwhelmed by their seasonal offering. I found it to be just a little bland and not very complex. I would certainly drink again, but wouldn't necessarily seek it out. Would pair with either rich entrees or lighter desserts.
Jugsy: The Wassail is decent Winter ale. It's dark and a little spicy with a hint of funk as well as a fair bit of malt and hops. The lightness certainly sets it apart from most Winter ales. The main problem with this beer is that it's just average.

SCORE:
Mugsy: 4.75

Jugsy: 5.0



Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Affligem Noël 2009 Christmas Ale



Beer: 2009 Noël Christmas Ale
Brewed by: Affligem Brewerij, Odwijk, Belgium
Bottle: 750 ml Champagne bottle
ABV: 9%
Served in: Belgian chalice
Place of purchase: Whole Foods Supermarket
Price: $6.49 (on sale!)

As the holidays rapidly approach us (I believe that tonight is the sixth day of Hannukah; Christmas is 9 days away; Kwanzaa 10 days away and throw in any other Winter holiday you want), Mugsy & Jugsy find ourselves craving the seasonal brews. Just thinking about those Winter brews, with their Winter spices & high ABV's make us ready to curl up close to a not-so-roaring gas fire & exchange gifts & kisses. For the next few reviews, we, Mugsy & Jugsy will find ourselves, just as we have for the past 3 years, under the glow of our pink Christmas tree drinking good beer.

(You read it right. We have a lovely little, PINK Christmas tree. With black ornaments. We are fashion-forward. When everyone else starts buying pink Christmas trees, just remember who started the fad, okay?) On to our first Winter beer review...!

In every proper review, your trusted husband & wife team of Beeraucrats will examine the Appearance, Aroma, Taste, Mouth-Feel, Drinkability and Overall Rating of the Beer and arrive at a Total Score from 1 to 10.

Affligem Noël

APPEARANCE:

Mugsy: Dark brown with deep bronze tones when held to light. Lots of carbonation visible when held to light. Fairly thick, foamy head that seems like it would last well past the holidays. Lots of creamy lacing left on the glass.
Jugsy: Thick, frothy head which flattens slightly but does not disappear. Color is dark copper with gold, red and brown hues. Mild carbonation bubbles are visible.

AROMA:


Mugsy:
Very difficult to detect in the Belgian chalice glass, however when Jugsy & I poured some in to a tulip glass, the aroma became much more pronounced. Yet, still, the aroma doesn't give itself up easily. First off, a fair bit of funky yeast. This is followed by strong scents of holiday spices like nutmeg and cinnamon.
Jugsy: Yeast and malt right at the top, followed by a spicier scent. Smells a little like bread, but not sourdough - more like sweet bread, maybe even a faint hint of fruitcake. Vanilla, pecans and dried cherries, (possibly some dried orange, too) with a touch of allspice and nutmeg. Smells like a Christmas cookie! (Note: for best smell, drink from a tulip glass - it makes all the difference!)

TASTE:


Mugsy:
Very subtle spiciness (again nutmeg) combined with robust malt and slightly bitter hops. Very sweet aftertaste, maybe of honey and raisins combined with that of a little bit of alcohol.
Jugsy: Don't be fooled by the sweet smell. This is a dark and bitter beer. Roasted malts are the predominant flavor, followed by a citrusy grapefruit taste. There's a spice in there I didn't smell... cloves, perhaps? Definitely a sour yeast flavor as well. The aftertaste does carry a sweet bread flavor, though!

MOUTHFEEL:

Mugsy:
Incredible! I don't think I've ever had a beer this smooth & creamy. It's almost like egg nog! While it goes down a just a little watery, I still can't say enough about the creaminess. Almost like drinking an ale mixed with Irish cream liqueur. Wow!
Jugsy: Moderately creamy. Goes down very smoothly. Despite its complex flavors, the beer feels light. Carbonation and spices combine to create an unmistakable bite. Leaves a bitter, yeasty coating on the tongue.

DRINKABILITY:

Mugsy:
While the sweetness & creaminess would lend itself to wanting to drink this all night in front of the X-mas tree, the 9% ABV says otherwise. Mind you, I haven't eaten in a good 6 hours, but after just half a glass, I'm REALLY in the holiday spirit! This one should be handled carefully.
Jugsy: I would say that the Affligem Noël is a very drinkable Winter brew. At 9% ABV, it most certainly is not a session beer, unless your "session"involves getting toasty with a loved one, at home in front of the fireplace. Luckily, that happens to be exactly my definition!

OVERALL:


Mugsy:
If Jugsy ever turned to me & said, "You know, Mugsy, I'd love to drink a glass of cinnamon raisin bread!", I'd break out the Affligem Noël Christmas Ale. For such a strong, dark ale, this beer is suprisingly delicate. This would go well with holiday treats like fruitcakes (even the Jerky Boys kind) and other sweets. Perfect for tree-trimming parties, Hannukah parties, Kwanzaa parties and "it's too cold outside, let's get warm by drinking beer" parties. Would definitely buy again. Hope the holidays are extended this year.
Jugsy: This is one of those beers that I know is good. I can smell, taste and feel the quality of both the ingredients as well as the craft that went into making it. Unfortunately, it doesn't hit my personal favorite palate notes, so it's still a little difficult to get very enthusiastic. The Noël is a wonderfully complex, yet light tasting Ale with the requisite high ABV we've come to expect of our Belgians. I be this would go amazingly well with Grandma's fruitcake! 'Wish I had some now!

Score:
Mugsy: 8.70

Jugsy: 7


Saturday, December 12, 2009

Raise a Toast to Dead Beer Brands



We're not quite at the end of the year yet... but Mugsy & Jugsy thought it would be appropriate to raise a glass to the beers that are no longer with us.
Luckily, someone beat us to the punch (and by that, we mean they did all the work - yay!!!) Click here for the list!

So please remember, the next time you drink your fancy new bottle of Craft Beer, tip a little out for the Beers who are no longer here (but always in another glass, so you can drink it later!)

*Mugsy and Jugsy do NOT condone the wasting of good beer!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Deschutes Black Butte Porter

Beer: Black Butte Porter
Brewer: Deschutes Brewery, Bend, OR (USA)
Bottle: 12 fl. oz.
ABV: 5.2%
IBUs: 30
Served in: Pint glass
Place of Purchase: Silver Liquor, Sherman Oaks, CA
Price: $2 per bottle

Mugsy and Jugsy really wanted to get our hands on a Jubelale from Deschutes Brewery, but after combing through all of our local "rare find" brew stores, we still came up empty handed! Not ones to be deterred, we decided to review one of Deschutes's first beers, the Black Butte Porter!

The brewery actually gets its name from the scenic Deschutes River which winds down through central Oregon and upon whose banks the brewery was originally founded in 1988. They pride themselves on producing (and experimenting with) quality craft beers.

That's handy; since we pride ourselves on drinking and appreciating quality craft beers!

In every proper review, your trusted husband & wife team of Beeraucrats will examine the Appearance, Aroma, Taste, Mouth-Feel, Drinkability and Overall Rating of the Beer and arrive at a Total Score from 1 to 10.

Black Butte Porter

APPEARANCE:

Mugsy: They don't call this Black Butte for nothing! Color is indeed black. Can only see hints of lighter brown when held to the light. Thick, creamy, beige colored head which dissipates some but not completely. Leaves lots of thick lacing.
Jugsy: Dark brown, almost black with a medium frothy head that lasts a while. With a keen eye, you can see carbonation when held directly to the light. Sudsy lacing on the glass.

AROMA:

Mugsy: Strong roasted malt aroma with hints of coffee and maybe even a little licorice. Faint scent of toffee and caramel.
Jugsy: Yeast and roasted malt aromas are the first to hit the nose, followed by chocolaty malts and coffee/toffee scents. Chocolate scent intensifies as the beer warms and I think I detect a slight hint of vanilla as well.

TASTE:

Mugsy: Roasted malt at the forefront. Aftertaste is slightly of hops but leaves the mouth full of chocolate, specifically cacao blended with a hint of slight caramel and even some chickory.
Jugsy: Mild yeast and burnt malt flavors at first blush. There's a bitter and acidic element to the palate, something between hops and strong coffee. Aftertaste is heavy on chocolate and bitter coffee grounds.

MOUTH-FEEL:

Mugsy: While it does coat the tongue just a bit, this beer is surprisingly light going down; not anywhere near as heavy as it looks. Not a lot of carbonation present. I'm quite amazed at its lightness!
Jugsy: Initial impact seems like it's going to be creamy but this is interrupted by somewhat watery consistency and carbonation. The carbonation gives this beer a sharp, biting finish.

DRINKABILITY:

Mugsy: If you wanted to drink all day and had only porters from which to choose, this would be the way to go. Easy to drink; not heavy or soupy at all, like so many porters and stouts can be. And at 5.2% ABV, I'd have no problem drinking quite a few of these.
Jugsy: As porters go, Black Butte is light - yet it targets all the rich flavor notes one expects of a porter. At 5.2% ABV, this is a beer you can drink all night.

OVERALL:

Mugsy: I'm amazed at how much flavor has been packed into such a drinkable porter. Quite complex, yet easy to throw back. Would go well with roasts, potatoes, soups -- you know, comfort food. Nice job!
Jugsy: This is a good beer, but not fantastic. I've heard a lot of good things about Deschutes Brewery, so my expectations may have been a bit high. I will certainly try some of their other beers to get a better idea of what they produce, but I probably won't be revisiting this one too often. In fact, I'm going to let Mugsy finish my beer now!

SCORE:
Mugsy: 7.65
Jugsy: 6

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Stone Cali-Belgique

Beer: Cali-Belgique IPA
Brewer: Stone Brewing Co., Escondido, CA (USA)
Bottle: 1 Pt. 6 fl. oz. Bomber
ABV: 6.9%
IBU: 77
Served in: Tulip glass
Place of Purchase: Beverages and More, Sherman Oaks, CA
Price: $5.49

We briefly considered shelving this review for a few more weeks so as not to have too many reviews of the same style of beer, but the Cali-Belgique IPA is a Stone Brewing Co. Limited Release for the year, and we'd hate for beer lovers to miss out on this one!

The Cali-Belgique IPA is a fresh approach to combining different IPA styles, American - or, Californian, to be more specific - and Belgian. Its unique flavor comes from the combination of Californian hops and Belgian yeast.

In an effort to pay tribute to both the French and Dutch influences in Belgium, Stone has labeled 50% of the bottles "Cali-Belgique" ("Belgique" being the French word for Belgium) and the other 50% "Cali-België" ("België" being the Dutch name for Belgium)!

In every proper review, the Beeraucrats will examine the Appearance, Aroma, Taste, Mouth-Feel, Drinkability and Overall Rating of the Beer and arrive at a Total Score from 1 to 10.

Cali-Belgique IPA

APPEARANCE:


Mugsy: Golden-red color. Definitely looks like an IPA. Thin but creamy head that leaves lacing on glass when swirled. Can see fair bit of carbonation present.
Jugsy: Golden, copper in color with a thin head which dissipates quickly. Amber when held up to the light; visible carbonation.

AROMA:

Mugsy: Interesting blend of IPA-like hoppiness, mixed with slight fruitiness (grapefruit) and a little bit of yeasty funk. This is exciting.
Jugsy: Aromatic hops, not flowery per se, but sweet nonetheless. Orange and vanilla scents, possibly pineapple, too. Fresh woodsy aroma of crisp Autumn air. Barley and yeast are background scents. Smells like beer candy!

TASTE:

Mugsy: Immediate taste is hops, though not the over-the-top hops that Stone IPA lovers (like myself) have come to know and love. This is slightly more subtle. Secondary taste is grapefruit. Aftertaste is grapefruit also, but this is where the yeast comes into play, leaving just a hint of the barnyard so commonly associated with Belgian Saison Ales. Grapefruit lingers on the tongue well after swallowed and becomes more prominent as beer warms, as does the funkiness.
Jugsy: Sophisticated bitter hops flavor bursts in your mouth. The aroma almost makes you think it's sweet. Definite pine flavoring with orange peel and hops aftertaste. Flavors play out like a well-orchestrated symphony.

MOUTH-FEEL:

Mugsy: Lots of bite on the tongue from the hops. Crisp and clean, yet to contradict here, leaves just a little bit of warm coating on the tongue and mouth, much like a Belgian Ale.
Jugsy: Creamy and rich without feeling heavy. Adequate carbonation and pleasant, hoppy tongue coating.

DRINKABILITY:

Mugsy: Can feel the slight beginning of what a 6.9% ABV can do, but still light enough to be a "semi-session" beer. Easy going down. Crisp and fresh.
Jugsy: At a 6.9% ABV, you might not want to drink too many of these in a row, but that aside, you will love every minute of having the Cali-Belgique in your mouth. I know I did!

OVERALL:

Mugsy: Nice and very well balanced beer. Fairly complex. Would go quite well with spicy food like Indian or Latin. Leave it to the wonderful folks at Stone to come up with yet another complex (and quite experimental) Ale that is tasty and easy to drink. Stone continues to set the benchmark for so many other breweries and makes this beer lover happy to live in a world where Stone is readily available.
Jugsy: The minute I smelled the aroma of this brew, I wanted to dive in head-first! It felt like Christmas! And not in the sense that I was about to drink a Winter brew (which this is not) but in the sense that I felt like a kid on Christmas morning, who just knows that Santa got his letter and his dream toy is under the wrapping before him! I don't know if I can do this beer justice. Just do yourself a favor and allow X-mas to come a little early this year -- try a bottle of Stone's Cali-Belgique IPA now, before it's no longer available!

SCORE:
Mugsy: 7.99

Jugsy: 8.75

Saturday, November 28, 2009

World's Strongest Beer!


Yesterday BrewDog, a Scottish Brewery, launched its most daring beer yet. (Their website is worth a visit!)

At a whopping 32% ABV, Tactical Nuclear Penguin - as the ale is called - is almost as strong as Whisky! BrewDog suggests the serving size to be the same as one would enjoy for spirits. (If you did that, wouldn't the remainder just go flat?!?)

It's doubtful that Mugsy & Jugsy will be among the lucky few to try this brew, as only 500 bottles have been produced, with half going on sale for £35 each! The other half will be offered at £250 with a share in the company also on offer -- no word on how much that's worth.

Looks like Beer Tutor will have to update its site, which currently lists Hair of the Dog Dave as the beer with the highest alcohol content at a miserly 29% ABV!

Mugsy and Jugsy wonder at what point exactly does beer meet the spirit world?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron

Beer: Palo Santo Marron
Brewer: Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, Milton, DE USA
Type: Strong ale
Bottle: 12 fl. oz. bottle
ABV: 12%
Served in: Pint glass
Place of Purchase: Silver Liquor, Sherman Oaks, CA
Price: $15.99 per 4-pack

Recently, one of our Beeraucracy readers brought it to our attention that Mugsy and Jugsy had been focusing way too much on West Coast breweries, and he reminded us that there are some excellent breweries "East of the Rockies." Of course there are! And we are only too happy to drink (and review) them for you!

Having said that, Mugsy and Jugsy were also beginning to realize that there were a few too many Belgian and IPA reviews and not enough of all the other styles of beer. We're rectifying this immediately! (Although, we still reserve the right to review our favorite styles!)

The Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron calls itself a "Malt Beverage aged on Palo Santo Wood" and according to the bottle, this special Brown Ale is aged in handmade wooden vessels measuring 10,000 gallons - the largest brewing vessels built in America since before the Prohibition. This brew's distinctive caramel and vanilla flavors actually come from the Paraguayan Palo Santo wood used to make the tanks.
As an aside, "Palo Santo" means "Holy Wood" in Spanish (not to be confused with Hollywood, which is just over the hill from Mugsy & Jugsy's place!)

To quote directly from the bottle: "We have wood. Now you do too."

In every proper review, the Beeraucrats will examine the Appearance, Aroma, Taste, Mouth-Feel, Drinkability and Overall Rating of the Beer and arrive at a Total Score from 1 to 10.

Palo Santo Marron

APPEARANCE:

Mugsy: Dark! This beer looks like a cup of black coffee. Absolutely impossible to see through, even when held to light. Have to look very closely to see carbonation. Thin, but malty looking light brown head. One could easily mistake this for a glass of Coca-Cola. Lots of creamy head retention as glass empties.
Jugsy: Super dark black / brown - no light penetrates this brew! If I squint just the right way, I can see ruby tones near the bottom of the glass and a slight pinkish hue in the medium, tan frothy head. Leaves behind thick lacing.

AROMA:


Mugsy:
Deep, roasted malt mixed with chocolate. Slight hint of vanilla also, maybe Bourbon vanilla? If sniffing this with the eyes closed, I would think it a glass of chocolate milk.
Jugsy: Sweet! Heavy chocolate, toffee and vanilla candy scents right off the bat. Caramel and coffee aromas are secondary. The faintest touch of roasted malts are present as well. If I were blindfolded and had to go on smell alone, I would think I was smelling a sugary iced-coffee drink!

TASTE:


Mugsy:
Incredibly chocolaty, like cacao. Strong flavor of roasted malt. Tastes like those candy chocolate malted balls. Surprisingly, there's a little bit of hop flavor in there, too. Aftertaste is of vanilla. Tastes very much like a porter.
Jugsy: Definitely sweet and chocolaty. The beer equivalent of a coffee ice-cream flavored root beer float! Surprisingly sweet with a complex flavor palate. Toffee, chocolate and coffee flavors linger alongside toasty malts in the aftertaste. The vanilla flavor almost masks the high alcohol content. Very pleasant taste!

MOUTH-FEEL:


Mugsy:
Very creamy & rich. Very heavy. Imagine drinking a bowl of melted chocolate ice cream that's been watered down with a porter. This is a meal - or at least a dessert - in a glass. Even though the hops are not incredibly present in the taste, there's a fair bit on the tongue.
Jugsy: Creamy, rich and smooth. Carbonation is mild. This is a heavy beer, but absolutely lovely to drink.

DRINKABILITY:

Mugsy:
A bit too heavy to be a session beer, unless you're on the Arctic Tundra & throwing these back to keep warm! Also, the 12% ABV (12%!!!) would become prohibitive at some point. However, I'm only feeling a little bit of it right now. Guess I'll have to drink more!
Jugsy: If my taste-buds alone ruled this category, I'd drink it all night! However, due to the 12% ABV and the hearty nature of this brew, it needs to be relegated to the oft-neglected "dessert beer" category. One can only have so many root beer floats!

OVERALL:

Mugsy:
Quite complex and very well-rounded, balanced beer. If not for the "Brown Ale" description on the bottle, I would have thought this a porter or a stout. Would go well with rich desserts, fruitcakes or chocolaty treats. Would love to drink again, especially if the cost were just a little more affordable. (Feeling the 12% ABV now, by the way.) This beer would be great on one of those cold, winter nights in front of the fire with a girl named Jugsy.
Hmmmm... Gonna have to make that a reality... tonight!
Jugsy: I was not excited about reviewing this beer, despite generally being a fan of Dogfish Head, but Mugsy and I were determined to get out of our Belgian / IPA habit. Not excited, I should say, until I smelled it and became captivated by its curiously sweet aroma! This beer was a delight and a dream. For me, it's the first beer I've tasted that can truly be a companion for any dessert. I love it!

SCORE:

Mugsy: 8.05


Jugsy: 8.88

Friday, November 13, 2009

Hollywood Brew Fest

Just a quick mention about something that’s happening right here in Mugsy & Jugsy’s hometown of Hollywood, CA! In fact, some are even calling it the ground zero for beer in Los Angeles!


The Hollywood Brew Fest, an all-day festival celebrating small craft brewers, will be taking place tomorrow at one of our favorite bars in town, the Blue Palms Brewhouse!


The Beer Chick is even personally selecting the beers on tap for the event! That might well be worth the cost of admission alone!


The Brew Fest has all the makings of a great event – we’re going to do our best to swing by – but if any of you out there make it, please leave a comment and let us know about your experience.


Happy Friday the 13th and Happy Drinking!!!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Sierra Nevada 2009 Anniversary Ale

Beer: Sierra Nevada 2009 Anniversary Ale
Brewer:
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., Chico, CA USA
Type: American IPA
Bottle: 12 fl. oz. bottle
ABV:
5.9%
IBUs:
47
Served in:
Pint glass



Place of Purchase: Silver Liquor, Sherman Oaks, CA
Price:
$2 per bottle (Supermarket sells them for $9.99 / six-pack)


As you might have noticed, Mugsy and Jugsy are big fans of Belgians and IPAs. Many of the best beers in these categories can sometimes be difficult to find. And what’s the point of reviewing beers if YOU can’t try them?! Exactly.

So, we’re very excited about the Sierra Nevada 2009 Anniversary Ale because not only is it a fine example of an American IPA, but it’s also widely available pretty much everywhere!

Drink it up!

In every proper review, the Beeraucrats will examine the Appearance, Aroma, Taste, Mouth-Feel, Drinkability and Overall Rating of the Beer and arrive at a Total Score from 1 to 10.


Sierra Nevada 2009 Anniversary Ale


APPEARANCE:

Mugsy: Deep golden honey color with lots of red highlights. Plenty of carbonation visible. Medium, creamy looking head that lasts. Looks delicious!

Jugsy: Deep amber with red tones; visibly carbonated with a medium, frothy head that lasts. Leaves lacing on the glass.

AROMA:

Mugsy: First off is strong scent of bitter hops, a little bit of sour, mixed with citrus; lemons and even a little orange. Very slight note of fruit, like peach comes from underneath the hops and citrus. Smells delicious!

Jugsy: Citrus and spice notes hit the nose first, followed by mild floral hops and a healthy dose of yeasty sourdough.

TASTE:

Mugsy: First of course are the hops - and a little citrus, which is to be expected; but the there’s so much more! Aftertaste is of warm, roasted malt with a hint of toffee at the end. Little bit of orange peel, too. Taste is hoppy but not “soapy” as so many IPA’s can be. Very complex flavors here. Tastes delicious!

Jugsy: The sharp, bitter hops attack the tongue – and, if I didn’t know better, I’d say this beer has Quinine (because the aftertaste is very reminiscent of Tonic Water!) Strong citrus – orange peel flavors – throughout. The spice notes, possibly cloves or cardamom, are buried somewhat in the abundant hops flavor. Complex taste.

MOUTH-FEEL:

Mugsy: Head is wonderfully creamy as you first bring glass to lips. The bite of the hops is there and the carbonation is big. This goes down so smoothly, with a crisp, fresh feel.

Jugsy: Creamy but not heavy. Full-bodied with a fair amount of carbonation. Bitter aftertaste coats the tongue.

DRINKABILITY:

Mugsy: This one would be a perfect session beer. Not overpowering in its ABV nor too heavy on the palate. Refreshing and clean. Could drink this all night.

Jugsy: This is a very drinkable and enjoyable beer. At only 5.9% ABV, this brew manages to incorporate the complexity and flavor of a much higher ABV beer. Could certainly enjoy this in any atmosphere.

OVERALL:

Mugsy: Fantastic beer. Extremely complex, yet not overdone nor heavy. Thoroughly enjoyable beer! Wish I had purchased more than just the two bottles for Jugsy and me to review. Would go well with spicy foods, like Indian, Thai or Latin.

Jugsy: At first blush, it seemed surprisingly bitter for only 47 IBUs, but the bitterness mellows over time. The flavor blossoms upon warming – so let this brew rest for a while to taste its full complexity. Each sip made me more and more a fan of this Anniversary Ale. Good job, Sierra Nevada!

SCORE:

Mugsy: 9.0

Jugsy: 7.0

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

I'll take a Lowenbrau for $8,000, please!


We all know that rare bottles of wine can command hefty price-tags, sometimes even reaching the six-figure mark, according to Forbes Magazine.

However, Mugsy and Jugsy have never even contemplated a bottle of beer selling for thousands of dollars! What would that take? How unusual or rare would this prized beer have to be?


Turns out, pretty darn special! A bottle of Lowenbrau from the Hindenburg disaster is being auctioned this weekend and is expected to fetch between $4,000 and $8,000!

You can read the whole story here.

Now you know what to ask Santa to bring you this Christmas!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Chimay Ale Red

Chimay Ale Red

Brewed by: Scourmont Abbey, Belgium

Bottle: 11.20 fl. oz. bottle

ABV: 7.0%

Served In: Tulip glass

Place of purchase: Lucky Baldwin's, Pasadena

Price: $6


In honor of L.A. Beer Week, Mugsy and Jugsy decided to get out of the house and enjoy a great brew with our fellow beer-lovers! We certainly have our favorite spots, and from time-to-time, we'll be reviewing "live" from various quality watering-holes. Lucky Baldwin's in Pasadena, CA, is a (beer & wine) bar with a fantastic selection of specialty beers and frequent Beer Festivals.

Mugsy and Jugsy can be found there often!

On this particular occasion, we went specifically to meet Chimay's Head Brewer, Dominique Denis, and review Chimay Red! As you can imagine, the Chimay was flowing liberally that evening - so much so that the pub ran out of proper Chimay glasses!

(Ironically, had we reviewed this at home, the picture would have displayed our authentic Chimay glassware!)

In every proper review, the Beeraucrats will examine the Appearance, Aroma, Taste, Mouth-Feel, Drinkability and Overall Rating of the Beer and arrive at a Total Score from 1 to 10.

Chimay Ale Red

APPEARANCE:

Mugsy:
Cloudy brown with a thin head. Very muddy even when held up to the light.
Jugsy: Rich brown and cloudy in appearance. Opaque, even when held up to the light. Virtually no head.

AROMA:

Mugsy:
Fruity and spicy. Notes of apricot and clove. Slight bit of yeast comes through.
Jugsy: Subtle. Fragrant yeast and light malts. The competing scents at the pub make it very difficult to differentiate aromas.

TASTE:


Mugsy:
Strong taste of sour fruit, apricots and sweet malt. Slight funk from yeast in aftertaste. Hints of spices; cloves come through.
Jugsy: Seems like a good balance of malts, yeast and hops. Has a woodsy character with yeast and slightly bitter hops aftertaste. Slight cola aftertaste as well. Can certainly taste the alcohol. Some kind of spice I can't quite identify - cinnamon?

MOUTH-FEEL:

Mugsy:
Little bite from the hops; goes down quite easily & smoothly.
Jugsy: Creamy and light / refreshing taste. Finishes with biting carbonation.

DRINKABILITY:

Mugsy:
Certainly begin to feel the 7% ABV, yet the smoothness when it goes down makes this one I could drink over and over again throughout the night.
Jugsy: Goes down very easily. Flavorful but light. Can drink this all night.

OVERALL:

Mugsy:
This is certainly one of the great Belgian - let alone - Trappist Ales of the lot; a force to be reckoned with. Would go great with any rich meal or dessert. This legendary Ale's reputation is well-deserved. Would drink again any day of the week!
Jugsy: I'm told this is your classic Trappist Ale. If so, I like it a lot! Drinking Chimay on an empty stomach is not recommended! Once my french fries arrived, I was pretty sure I could drink this all night!

SCORE:
Mugsy: 8.25
Jugsy: 7

Friday, November 6, 2009

A Second Honeymoon? Why not!


Mugsy and Jugsy will be making some changes to our blog.
In addition to our weekly (nearly!) beer reviews, we'll be posting relevant information about beer, beer festivals, specialty craft beer news and anything else that catches our brew fancy!

To all the beer lovers in Southern California, here's something you just can't afford to miss: San Diego's first ever
BEER WEEK!
And it starts today!

Did you know that San Diego county is home to over 33 working breweries??? With over 100 events planned for
San Diego Beer Week and new events added daily - including a Ten Year Line up of Stone Imperial Russian Stout at the Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens, a Barrel Tasting Night with Lost Abbey and a Green Flash 7th Anniversary Party - Mugsy and Jugsy seriously consider a second honeymoon in San Diego this week!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Abbaye D'Aulne Triple Brune

Abbaye D'Aulne Triple Brune


Brewed by: Brasserie Val De Sambre, Gozee, Belgium


Bottle: 1 pt., 9.4 fl. oz. - champagne bottle


ABV: 9.0%


Served in: Tulip glass


Place of purchase: Cost Plus World Market


Price: $5.99



OK, another beer served in a tulip glass. Why not? Mugsy and Jugsy like the Belgians!


But this one is a little different…

As you may have noticed in previous reviews, Mugsy and Jugsy often agree on the general characteristics of the beers they review. However, their views on this particular brew were so different as to cause them to question, “Are we even drinking the same beer???" Pick up a bottle and try it for yourself! You be the judge!


In every proper review, our Beeraucrats will examine the Appearance, Aroma, Taste, Mouth-Feel, Drinkability and Overall Rating of the Beer and arrive at a Total Score from 1 to 10.


Abbaye D'Aulne Triple Brune


APPEARANCE:


Mugsy: Dark, coffee brown with slight hints of red in the light. Thin head which dissipates quickly.

Jugsy: Pours dark like cola, reddish-brown when held up to the light. Medium head which dissipates somewhat, but thin head remains.


AROMA:


Mugsy: Strong smell of fermented fruit, like plums or prunes. Can smell the alcohol in this one. Hints of dark chocolate, as well.

Jugsy: First scent is that of strong malts, followed quickly by yeast aroma. Chocolate and oak smells detected. Faint scent of smoke and cloves - like someone is smoking a sweet pipe in the next room!


TASTE:


Mugsy: Spicy Winter berry and clove, mixed with more fruit; again, prunes. Aftertaste is of roasted malt, almost like a lighter and nuttier porter. Little bit of sourness and of chocolate in the aftertaste, as well.

Jugsy: Roasted or burnt malt flavor is initially overwhelming. Secondary taste is of bitter hops. The aftertaste is definitely chocolate, possibly with some coffee grounds. Yeast flavor emerges as the brew warms. There may even be a touch of citrusy spice buried underneath.


MOUTH-FEEL:


Mugsy: Lots of hops bite the tongue but don't really come through in flavor. A little watery going down.

Jugsy: Creamy and thick, almost chewy. Goes down smoothly with a moderate amount of carbonation.


DRINKABILITY:


Mugsy: Easy to drink and not really feeling the alcohol. Would be easy to have a few more.

Jugsy: After just a few sips, this beer already feels a bit heavy and I can certainly feel the 9% ABV - although the brew itself doesn't necessarily taste strong. I think one bottle, shared with Mugsy, is quite enough!


OVERALL:


Mugsy: Pretty good beer. Have tasted many beers similar to this before, especially those from Eastern Europe, interestingly enough. However, this slightly more complex. Would go well with desserts, like fruit pies or fruit cakes. Not bad but would not necessarily seek out again.

Jugsy: As Belgian Abbey ales go, this is a pretty decent one. It's flavorful and complex and would be a great accompaniment to a rich, meat-based dish. It's a little heavy for my taste and I think I have a slight headache developing - - not sure if I can blame the beer, but there it is.


SCORE:

Mugsy: 6.50

Jugsy: 6.75

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Saison Imperiale

Saison Imperiale, Belgian Farmhouse Ale

Brewed by De Proef Brouweij
Special Reserve

8.5% ABV – 11.2 Fl oz. champagne bottle

Served in a Tulip Glass

Mugsy had been craving a brew with what he called “Barnyard Funk” for a while and, like a good little wife, Jugsy wanted nothing more than to make him happy! So, when she spotted this intriguing Brewmaster’s Collection with the words “Farmhouse Ale” right there on the bottle, she snatched it up immediately!

After clearing a patch in the barn and kicking up our heels onto ready bundles of hay, Mugsy and Jugsy dusted off their Tulip glasses from last week’s review and popped the champagne style cork from the Saison Imperiale!

Ahhh. This is living!

In every proper review, the Beeraucrats will examine the Appearance, Aroma, Taste, Mouth-Feel, Drinkability and Overall Rating of the Beer and arrive at a Total Score from 1 to 10.

Saison Imperiale, Belgian Farmhouse Ale

APPEARANCE:

Mugsy: Deep brown; impossible to see through, with thick, creamy head that doesn’t ever seem to dissipate! Looks like a glass of iced tea with a beer head.
Jugsy: Deep brown and garnet in color; opaque but not cloudy, with medium, creamy head that does not dissipate quickly. Carbonation is visible.

AROMA:

Mugsy: Slight bit of yeasty, barnyard funk straight off. Hints of spiciness, like Cardamom and maybe a little Bergamot orange peel, but funk stands out.
Jugsy: Initial aroma is one of sweet yeast with a fruity fermentation. Scent of sourdough with just a hint of malts. Apples, pears and mellow citrus are present. The fruity funk lingers throughout.

TASTE:

Mugsy: Slightly spicy, like a winter brew. Cinnamon and Molasses mix with hints of over-ripe fruit, like oranges. Also, hops are prevalent here, more so than most Belgian Ales of this type. However, the maltiness, yeast, fruit and spice overpower. Aftertaste is of Bergamot orange peel.
Jugsy: Very lightly roasted malts with a secondary yeast flavor. Delicate hops flavor provides a bitter middle-note. Spicy citrus and apple taste intertwine with a slightly bitter aftertaste. There seems to be coffee in there somewhere, too!

MOUTH-FEEL:

Mugsy: Is this where I should mention the creamy moustache I got with my first drink? This Ale is spicy on the tongue, as I mentioned before, similar to winter brews. Goes down with a smooth, creamy finish.
Jugsy: Feels creamy and rich as it goes down. The flavors fan out smoothly across the palate. Briefly biting carbonation appears then disappears, leaving the tongue coated with mildly bitter funk.

DRINKABILITY:

Mugsy: Goes down easy! Not heavy at all. I began to feel the 8.5% ABV P.D.Q.! Got that warm, fuzzy feeling all over and a little bit of a flushed face. This would be a great breakfast beer on a cold, winter day. Then another at 11 a.m. and one more for lunch….
Jugsy: The Saison Imperiale is complex but doesn’t taste like a heavy beer. Due to its 8.5% ABV, I wouldn’t recommend this as a session beer, but it’s great on its own. I have to agree with Mugsy, I certainly felt the effects of alcohol very quickly!

OVERALL:

Mugsy: Nice beer. Just complex enough to know that the brewers care about what they do. Would be happy to drink again.
Jugsy: Thoroughly enjoyable brew. The combination of flavors is fresh and surprising. I get the feeling this is a cold weather drink that warms one after a hard day’s work on the farm (or at the office?). This beer is meant to be savored.

SCORE:

Mugsy: 7.65

Jugsy: 8.3


[This beer was purchased at BevMo for $9.49.]

Friday, October 9, 2009

Stone Ruination IPA


Beer: Stone Ruination IPA

Brewer: Stone Brewing Company, Escondido, CA USA

ABV: 7.7%

Type: American IPA

Bottle: 1 Pt. 6 Fl oz. bottle / Bomber

IBUs: 100+

Served in: Tulip Glass

Place of Purchase: Beverages and More (BevMo)

Price: $5.99


Just in time for Halloween, Mugsy and Jugsy bring you… Ruination! At a staggering 100+ IBUs [International Bitterness Units], this brew is not for the faint at heart. And, there’s no getting around the menacing demon staring down at you from the bottle, just daring you to take it all in!


The bottle is as interesting to look at as it is to read. (Stone Brewing Co. rarely disappoints in this regard!) Ruination IPA warns: “If you are not already a confirmed hophead … this is NOT the place to start.”


Mugsy? Check.

Jugsy? Check.


Let’s begin!


In every proper review, we will examine the Appearance, Aroma, Taste, Mouth-Feel, Drinkability and Overall Rating of the Beer and arrive at a Total Score from 1 to 10.


Stone Ruination IPA


APPEARANCE:


Mugsy: Reddish brown, almost copper colored with average size heat that dissipates fairly quickly. Can see fair amount of carbonation.

Jugsy: Golden / red, copper color with medium head which dissipates quickly, light enough in color to see carbonation bubbles rising.


AROMA:


Mugsy: Strong, biting hops attack the nose instantly. Hidden in the background are faint scents of honey & fruit – possibly pineapple. Very slight bit of yeasty funkiness becomes discernible later on.

Jugsy: Sweet, fragrance of flowery hops with very mild yeast undertones. Fruity pineapple and apricot scent, almost smells like sweet bread!


TASTE:


Mugsy: Extremely hoppy and bitter as the 100+ IBU rating would imply. These are not floral hops. Tastes as if it is dry-hopped, perhaps. Aftertaste is hoppy as well; almost soapy.

Jugsy: Immediate taste is bitter and soapy; flowery hops. Mid-notes include a sweet and lightly funky yeast flavor alongside the full-bodied hops. Leaves a distinctly bitter yet pleasant aftertaste.


MOUTH-FEEL:


Mugsy: Fair bit of carbonation present, but not overwhelming. Feel is surprisingly light for such a strong taste. Not heavy at all. Goes down like a Pilsener more than an Ale.

Jugsy: Smooth and creamy with a perfect amount of carbonation.


DRINKABILITY:


Mugsy: The extreme hoppiness is fantastic, but by the same token, does not lend itself to being a session beer. Would go well with spicy or rich foods, like curry.

Jugsy: At a 7.7% ABV, this isn’t the type of brew one can throw back in mass quantities. However, even at 100+ IBU, Stone Ruination IPA is light and bursting with hoppy flavor. This is a beer which deserves to be savored.


OVERALL:


Mugsy: Great IPA, but not very complex. Not that an IPA should be overly complex, but maybe just a little more than bitter. However, if you love hops, this is for you -- as the bottle states, this IPA is all about the “Glorious Hops.”

Jugsy: From the moment I smelled its alluring, hoppy aroma, I was dying to taste the Ruination. It certainly did not disappoint! This is one of the finest IPA’s I have ever sampled. The balance of aroma and flavors sets this IPA apart from the competition.


SCORE:


Mugsy: 7.0


Jugsy: 9.0