Sunday, March 28, 2010

Just a little something...

Just a little something to keep you entertained until we put up our next post... which will either be a review of the new Stone collaboration "El Camino (Un)Real Black Ale" or the "Sawyer's Triple Ale" (whose proceeds go completely to charity - more on that later) or, we were toying with the idea of reviewing a He'Brew beer in honor of Passover. Any thoughts?

It's true what they say, "So many beers, so little time!"

We know that we review a lot of Stone brews and some of our followers on the East Coast get frustrated from time to time, but you're likely to see even more in the near future, since that's where we went to celebrate Jugsy's birthday this past week! The folks at Stone are as lovely and welcoming as their brews.... Stay tuned for our interview with Dan, the Tour Master at Stone (at least, that's what we call him!) There's a lot of typing involved for us on that one, so it might take a while ;-)

In the meantime, we thought we'd offer up an "appetizer" of sorts. Since so much is often said about the pairing of wine and cheese, we thought it would be a good idea to celebrate the heavenly combination of beer and cheese! It's not entirely new, as a commentator on the AOL article this morning said, "Beer and cheese have always been a matching pair in my book. Forget the fancy stuff... any kind of beer goes with any kind of cheese. At the high end: Guinness and brie. At the low end: Bud Light and Cheetos. The flavors just seem to compliment each other in a way that wine does not."

There's also a pretty cool pairing on the Kegerators blog. Mmmm. Wonder what would pair well with vegan cheese???

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Smithwick's Irish Ale

Beer: Smithwick's Irish Ale
Brewed by: Guinness & Co., Dublin, Ireland (originally brewed by Smithwick's, Kilkenny, Ireland)
Style: Irish Red Ale
ABV: 4.5%
IBUs: Unknown
Bottle: 12 fluid oz.
Served in: English pint glass
Place of purchase:
Trader Joe's
Price: $6.99 per 6 pack

So, here we are, the middle of March. The 17th, to be exact. Why do I have a strange inclination to eat boiled potatoes and soda bread while listening to The Pogues and drinking beer? OK, I always have an inclination to listen to The Pogues and drink beer, but all of it combined speaks quite strongly of - - Saint Patrick's Day! The celebration (at least here in the U.S.) of all things Irish: wearing o' the green and tons of other Irish stuff, most importantly, drinking. Yes, drinking. Drinking beer. And drinking whiskey (notice the spelling, boyo?) Wait, that's a whole different blog!

OK, back to drinking beer. Jugsy & I, having been to the British Isles (including Ireland) many, many times, did some very serious searching for a beer to review at this specific time. Of course, we could have chosen Guinness Stout or Harp Lager (both fine beers!) but we decided on a brew that is not as readily available, or at least, is not as well known, here in the U.S.

Smithwick's Irish Ale is celebrating it's 300th anniversary this year, having started its brewing operation at the St. Francis Abbey brewery in Kilkenney, Ireland in 1710. A family tradition of brewing resulted over the next 300 years and gives us the beer we have for review today.

In passing, here are a couple of famous Irish sayings - ones that we love; just to get you in to the St. Patty's Day spirit:

"There are many good reasons for drinking,
One has just entered my head.
If a man doesn't drink when he's living,
How in the hell can he drink when he's dead?"

"Here's to a long life and a merry one
A quick death and an easy one
A pretty girl and an honest one
A cold beer and another one!"

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

Smithwick's Irish Ale


Deep bronze color. Dark amber when held to light. Creamy looking head that dissipates quite quickly. Slight bit of carbonation visible. Very little lacing left on glass.
Jugsy: Clear, copper/red in color with a thick, frothy head that dissipates to a thin, white head. Very little carbonation can be seen. No lacing left behind.


Mugsy: Slight bit of yeast. Some malt comes through also. Not a strong aroma at all.
Jugsy: Delicate scent of mild yeast and hops. Smells slightly sweet and fresh, a hint of peppermint candy and pine cones.


Mugsy: First and foremost is a "cheesy" taste. I can only assume that this is attributable to the yeast. Slightly sweet malt is present, as well. While the hops couldn't be detected with scent, they do come through here, if only very slightly. Slight toasted nut after taste and very slight chocolate, caramel and coffee become present as the beer warms.
Jugsy: Unusual combination of yeast (Irish soda bread?) and roasted coffee/malts. There's a skunky bitterness from the hops that becomes a very pronounced middle-note before the yeast and coffee re-appear. Aftertaste is bitter sourdough. As the beer warms, a distinctly nutty and pleasant taste (and aftertaste) emerges.


Mugsy: Quite a nice feel. Very creamy. Slightly bitter bite on the tongue. Goes down without any "soupiness" but with just enough substance to make sure you know that this has some weight to it. As beer warms just past its perfect temperature, it does get a little watery feeling, though.
Jugsy: The initial expectation is of creaminess, but this beer actually ends up being a little on the thin side.


Mugsy: At 4.5% ABV, it would obviously be no problem for a serious beer drinker (who me?) to throw back many of these, however, the watery finish as the beer warms past its point of perfection is a slight turn-off for me and makes me think twice. Guess I'll just have to drink the next several Smithwick's much more quickly!
Jugsy: At 4.5% ABV, this is a classic "session" beer and I'm pretty sure Mugsy would have to drink a gallon of it just to feel a buzz! The beer needs to warm somewhat in order for it to reveal its full character. Quite drinkable!


Mugsy: Quite well balanced. Not overdone on any aspect, making this an obvious choice for the first pint at the pub on the way home from work. It all comes down to, as mentioned so many times before, "would I drink this beer again?" And the answer is "Yes - but I wouldn't necessarily seek it out." Not a bad beer by any means (and believe me, I've had some pretty bland beers in the British Isles), I just feel that there are so many better, more interesting beers out there on which I would rather spend my money. Let's put it this way - the next time I go shopping for a great beer, am I going to head straight for the Smithwick's? If it's St. Patty's Day, then it would certainly be one of the two or three Irish beers I would select. Otherwise, no. However, the next time I find myself in Ireland or anywhere in the British Isles (as Jugsy and I often do, believe it or not) then Smithwick's would definitely be one of the beers on rotation at the pub. Would pair very well with rich St. Patty's day foods and equally well with rich, creamy desserts.
Jugsy: I'd love to be in Ireland, drinking this ale alongside a talkative, old pub-regular, nestled in the supernaturally green and misty countryside. There's something in this beer that I can't put my finger on, but when I taste it, I know I'm drinking either an Irish or a Scottish ale. Yeast strain, perhaps? Peaty water? I don't know, but it makes me a bit nostalgic.

Mugsy: 5.0
Jugsy: 6.0

From both of us at Beeraucracy, we wish you a very happy Saint Patrick's Day!!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Belgian Beer Tasting - 10 Brews

Belgian Beer Tasting! (a.k.a. 10 Beers for $5!)

We know it’s been a little longer than usual since we’ve posted a review, but rather than give you a long story about pipes bursting and flooding our home, we figured we’d just give you more bang for your buck! (We realize it’s free to read our blog, so really… you’re getting a heck of a lot of “bang” for nothing!)

Last Thursday, one of Mugsy & Jugsy’s favorite purveyors of fine beers (and other spirits), Wades Wines, hosted a Belgian Beer Tasting. Jason, or “the beer guy” as Jugsy refers to him, selected 10 Belgian brews for the tasting and provided lots of cool information to all the curious tasters in tow. (Did we mention it was only $5?!?!)

Beers were presented in a specific order according to the complexity of taste and alcohol by volume, in general, lowest to highest. We struggled over whether or not it was fair to assign a point-value as we would normally do, simply because the environment and amount served was not conducive to the proper attention and appreciation that beer usually requires. So, bear that in mind before taking our ratings too seriously on these!

Without further ado, we present our mini-review of 10 beers!

Belgian Beer Tasting – 10 Beers for $5!

Beer #1 – Bavik Belgian Pilsner

Mugsy: Hoppy, clean – 4.5

Jugsy: I didn’t even bother to take notes on this one. It tasted watery and weak. 4.25

Beer #2 – Poperings Hommel Ale

Mugsy: Funky, citrusy, very yeasty, piney – 6.7

Jugsy: Amber/murky, funky yeast, mild piney hops, citrus, bitter, barnyard funk, aftertaste of yeast & hops – 6.4

Beer #3 – Houblon Chouffe Dobbelen IPA Tripel

Mugsy: Funky, quite hoppy, quite citrusy & sweet. Not like standard American IPAs – 6.0

Jugsy: Clear/amber, frothy head, sweet, fruity yeast and floral hops, creamy, smooth & balanced flavors, yeast & hops blend beautifully. Drinks light & slightly sweet – 7.25

Beer #4 – Petrus Oud Bruin

Mugsy: Slightly sour, some malt, a little hops; maybe a little too sour for me – 5.75

Jugsy: Clear brown, some head, roasted malt & yeast smell, very funky sour yeast and malt flavor; not pleasant to drink – 4.5

Beer #5 – Malheur 10 (Tripel)

Mugsy: Super murky & super funky, very citrusy – like orange, smooth, sweet and creamy. Can definitely taste the ABV. Quite balanced between sweetness & hops. Fruity – 7.5

Jugsy: Amber/opaque (murky), lots of fruity yeast, smell of fresh citrus; smooth, creamy, fruity with a nice hop balance. Delicate, sophisticated flavor, and I’m feeling the ABV. Sweet and light. Love it! -- 9.0

Beer #6 – Grimbergen Dubbel

Mugsy: Malty, sweet, hoppy – 6.5

Jugsy: Clear brown/copper, malty/hoppy, initial taste is dusty/smoky; nice hops middle, fresh piney/yeasty finish – 6.7

Beer #7 – Brasserie des Rocs Gran Cru (Belgian Special Brown Ale)

Mugsy: Smells sweet, malty. Slightly sweet, definitely brown sugar – 7.0

Jugsy: Slightly murky/brown, coffee, malt, yeast scents. Wow! Coffee and sweet barnyard funk! Brown sugar, coffee, rotten fruit – good brew but not for my taste – 7.0

Beer #8 – Tappistes Rochefort 10 (Quadrupel)

Mugsy: Malty, sweet, fruity & slightly hoppy, sugary finish – 7.6

Jugsy: Dark brown, slightly murky, roasted malt & candy sweet scent, roasted malts and bitter hops, coffee and piney hops. Very complex, piney aftertaste with coffee grounds – 8.5

Beer #9 – Malheur 12 (Quadrupel)

Mugsy: Sweet, funky smell; lots of barnyard funk, sweet, sugary -- brown sugar, coffee can be tasted and roasted malts. May be a bit sweet for me – 6.9

Jugsy: Clear, reddish brown, sweet, malty, brown sugar smell, licorice. Very sweet taste with funky yeast, slight roasted malt flavor. Nice aged brandy feel – 8.25

Beer #10 – St. Louis Kriek Lambic

Mugsy: Cough syrup. 2.5

Jugsy: Sweet, funky, sour smell & taste. Not very pleasant. Like dessert wine that’s gone “off” – 4.0