Shirts on Tap

Most of us haven’t been inside a brewery so many of us probably haven’t bought much non-beer merch from one.

But if you need for you spruce up your t-shirt wardrobe then you might look into Shirts on Tap. Much like many monthly subscription models that are now available for the shop at home, avoid crowds set, you get the shirts sent to you. I have posted about it before but seems more helpful now.

Super Special Review – Utopias MMII from Sam Adams

Before I dive in to this 2002 first edition of Utopias, read on about the history of the beer from noted beer writer, Jay Brooks right HERE.

Reviewing a beer like this is hard. It is not a new release and more museum piece. New Utopias are not done in the same manner and barrel-aging is totally different now than in 2002. Even the naming convention was abandoned after this beer.

But, the beer was due to be opened after nearly twenty years and I need to talk about it. First off, the top is twist off and then there was a bottle cap as well. Was kinda of expecting cork but this was much easier. The first aroma was a bit on the soy sauce side which had me concerned but then wave after wave of maple started hitting the air. The kitchen smelled like a pancake breakfast.

The three main words I would use to describes Utopias is maple, sweet and viscous. At first you get a big hit of alcohol heat but that really fades as the beer warms up. I have had much more hot, cheek warming beers at lower ABV’s.

I gave samples to two other gutsy drinkers and got descriptions such as vanilla extract, molasses, syrupy and caramel.

I now want to compare a newer version to do the whole compare and contrast thing.

The Birthday Beer 2021

2021 (and 2020) has been the Year + of the Strata hop, so my choice is….

…a fancy bottle of The Frais from de Garde Brewing in Oregon.

Got to practice my cork removal skills. Pours a bright orange / yellow color.  Brett wild funk is quite evident.  That just opened the barn door smell. Tart punch of acidity.  Fairly simple past that.  Some barrel wood. There is a navel orange note underneath the barnyard that is quite pleasant. 

2 Ambitious

Long Beach (specifically Bixby Knolls) is an L.A. beer hub and one of its members is turning 2. Now, there will not be a big ol’ party but there will be special can releases so check out the Ambitious Ales social media to stay in the loop.

A Book & A Beer – Deacon King Kong by James McBride

This month we travel to New York and a community filled with nicknames in Deacon King Kong by James McBride.

This is a bold and brash book filled to the brim with characters. Real 3-D characters. The plot follows he aftermath of a shooting. Sportcoat, the Deacon, possibly a bit addled from too much King Kong homemade hooch shoots a drug dealer in broad daylight. From there we learn about all of the people in this community. Cops, parishioners and the mob. This book just blazes. Not a dull moment even when the action shifts to gardening. Even the narrative digressions are larger than life.

The first choice of beer would be Boomtown Brewing’s Graffiti series of IPAs. Bright 16oz cans that resemble spray paint cans. Next up is a detour to where Sportcoat came from and Fonta Flora and their inspired beers made with ingredient sounds like Paw Paw. Lastly, I would suggest a big barleywine something with an ABV that would match the Kong.

Featured Review – Still Black Tuesday from The Bruery

We have reached the final fun beer from The Bruery. Still Black Tuesday a “plain” barrel-aged version of the classic. This is literally a still beer while definitely in the realm of Black Tuesday. More wine in character.  A fascinating counterpart to the bourbon barrel-aged version. Wood and oak are not particularly present but the beer is still very layered. Almost to the point of soured stout. A vinous near licorice flavor profile. It is a beer that doesn’t reveal the very high alcohol content until you have been drinking a bit.


That is right! Groundbreaker LA brewery, Eagle Rock has turned 11 and has fun in store for us in March. But in the meantime, how about buying this throwback treat….

“It’s been a while since we had all four of our core beers packaged together, but we’re back baby! These beers were some of the first beer brewed at ERB and were available year-round for our first 5 years in existence. These beers were chosen to start our brewery because they each showcase a major brewing ingredient, and each represents a category of flavor in beer: Solidarity with Malt, Populist with Hops, Manifesto with Yeast, and Revolution with balance.”

A 30th Ride

30 years of craft brewing I saw certainly a wild ride so New Belgium is hopping up “Wild Ride Amber IPA: a hop-forward tribute to our OG Fat Tire.” Since it is Flagship February, would be a good time to have Fat Tire and compare it to Wild Ride.

CA Craft Beer Week Brewery # 2 – Shadow Puppet Brewing

The second stop of the short month is to Livermore and Shadow Puppet Brewing Company from whom I received a Strong Beer Sampler Six-Pack. Two of whichever I have already tasted and have ranked higher than average especially for a brewery that I knew nothing about.

But let’s talk some of their lighter beers today…

Cinch Vanilla Cream Ale – “Very light with a smooth drinkability at the forefront w/ hint of vanilla on the finish.

Pipe Down German Pilsner – “Crisp & bright golden pilsner brewed with noble Hallertau hops. Floral undertones.”

Over the Rubicon Blonde Ale – “A light, refreshing & flavorful blonde ale with notes of citrus & melon.”