New Beer Sunday – 2

If you can’t wait until the 18th then you are in luck, “Flamberge” from Ladyface will emerge from Napa Cabernet barrels 4 days earlier.


The beer is a “special Belgian Flemish Red-style ale is a long-anticipated release from Ladyface’s “Ingenuity Series”, an ale aged two years in Napa Cabernet barrels. Flamberge–meaning “flame blade”–is an undulating long sword; our red-hued, barrel-aged invention is a complex sour ale with strong alcohol, tannic and sharply tart sensations that ripple across the palette. A high carbonation level yields a dry champagne-like effervescence…”

Barrel to Can

If you had told me when I started this blog back in 2009 that a brewery would put rye in a beer, I might have raised an eyebrow. Then putting that rye ale into Rye Whiskey barrels from Leopold Brothers would have made me lean forward. That said barrels are described in a press release as Maryland-style would have made me snicker a bit. Then if you said that the finished beer would be put into cans, well, I would have asked what form of time travel transport you used.

And even today an Upslope Brewing Manhattan Style Rye Ale made to mimic the famous cocktail is an outlier for craft beer. But I sure wish I could get a couple of the 19+oz cans. $10 is a steal for one.

Review – Rye Like An Eagle

How do you impress in a saturated barrel-age marketplace?  Well you let Beachwood concoct an Imperial rye brown ale aged in American Rye Whiskey barrels for a year.


This beer packs the whiskey heat but it is no one trick eagle. There is a load of milk chocolate flavor here that matches the rye whiskey and wood notes.  There is a bit of vanilla cream sweetness here as well. Texture wise it is almost silky but far from syrupy where many a barrel beer ends up.

I don’t know if it is the touch of Udder Love blended in or the age but this is one of the rare 10%+ beers that is drinkable right now.  Three months into the year and I may have found one of the best beers of 2015. It totally reminds me of the Firestone Walker anniversary beers.

Expensive, yes.  But this beer is worth it.


Jubel 5 Years Early

The label may look like the wallpaper from a Gothic English manor but this barrel-aged 2015 version of Jubel from Deschutes Brewery will probably be excellent now and later.


This is the 3rd vintage release of Jubel aka “Super Jubel” a 12 month barrel-aged beer with half aged in Pinot and Oregon oak barrels. The brewery tastes “notes of toasted caramel, raisins, dates and figs are complemented by spicy and herbal hop aromas.”

This beer should not have been done until 2020.  That was the original plan but they just couldn’t wait.

The Beer, not the Book

Are you ready for another big beer from Cismontane? Then you are in luck because Twilight is upon us….


A bourbon barrel aged stout that had some lacto and pedio visitors over to it’s barrel home. Part bourbon and part tart.

Would make a fine cellar addition if you resist drinking it right away.

Sucaba is Back!

Screen Shot 2015-01-10 at 9.58.54 AMThere are two mysteries surrounding §ucaba.  Well three if you count the weird Double S at the start of the name.

1 is this fact:
“We’ve never talked about it, but §ucaba is actually a blend of two separate beers,” Brynildson said. “The base beer is what you would call §ucaba, but each year the final blend also includes around 10 percent of another barrel-aged beer, which gives it this chocolaty, dark cherry dimension.”

2 is how you say
So what’s the official pronunciation? “There is none,” Brynildson said. “SUC-a-buh, SOO-cah-ba, SOO-cab-uh, you hear it all, so it’s kind of fun. But in the brewhouse, we still call it by its original name.”

Either way, this is one of the Firestone Walker beers that you buy two or more of.  One to try and one to cellar.

Not so Phantom Anymore

Rejoice all ye’ patient beer lovers for the Phantom Carriage has arrived!  I have been waiting for this day since Requiem Stout from Gentleman Scholar arrived years back.  But then Muis arrived and now the full Phantom Carriage deal is upon us in time for Christmas no less.

A great present for LA for sure.


Check it out as soon as you can (preferably with out of town guests) to show off the Bergman Blond sour and their cool cocktails…


..and you get to check out their even more cool glassware….



Holiday Ale # 11 – Hoppy Woodsman from Schooner Exact

Schooner E Hoppy Woodsman

It was about time for the appearance of the word “Imperial” in this round-up of winter warmers and thanks to Schooner Exact Brewing Co., we know have it.  Plus an out of control sled.

Here is the description: “Bourbon Barrel Aged Winter Ale. Need you say more? A big brother to Hoppy Holidays, this winter ale has gained a level of complexity and intrigue during those months luxuriating in its bourbon barrel haven. Chocolate malt and a healthy dose of hops help maintain balance. ”


BCS (the beer one, not the college football one)

I had the opportunity to sit down with Goose Island Brewmaster Brett Porter to talk about the 2014 slate of Bourbon County Stout beers, in Beverly Hills of all places.

The answers to my questions posed that day will appear over on Food GPS in early November. For now, you get my tasting notes on the spin-offs and variants of the classic Stout that debuted over 20 years ago.


This year the BCS consists of the following: (with my tasting notes in italics)

Bourbon County Brand Stout – Original: A liquid as dark and dense as a black hole with thick foam the color of a bourbon barrel. The nose is an intense mix of charred oak, chocolate, vanilla, caramel and smoke. One sip has more flavor than your average case of beer.
One of the rare bourbon barrel beers that doesn’t scream bourbon. I like that the previous occupant of the barrel is an additional note here. And this year the alcoholic heat is much less. No need to wait for this one, it is ready now. Quite viscous with milk chocolate notes here.

Bourbon County Brand Stout Coffee: Everyday Goose Island smells the wonderful coffee roasting next to our brewery at Chicago’s Intelligentsia Coffee and Tea. This world class roaster puts the same passion and skill into their coffee as Goose Island does with its beer. This excellent stout is made with a different coffee from our friends next door each year. With the change in coffee comes a change in the flavor profile, making each release truly unique from the previous years.
The 2014 wasn’t ready yet but brewmaster Porter really liked the coffee choice from Intelligentsia for this year. But the 2013 really held up well. Big coffee nose with lots of unroasted bean notes to it

Bourbon County – Barleywine: Aged in the third-use barrels that were once home to Kentucky bourbon and then our renowned Bourbon County Stout, this traditional English-style barleywine possesses the subtlety of flavor that only comes from a barrel that’s gone through many seasons of ritual care. The intricacies of the previous barrel denizens – oak, charcoal, hints of tobacco and vanilla, and that signature bourbon heat – are all present in this beer. Hearty and complex, Bourbon County Brand Barleywine is a titan and a timeline; a bold, flavorful journey through the craft of barrel aging.
When left to warm up, this really showed off some complexity. Lovely garnet color, this beer spent 6 months in barrels that previously held BCS. Slick on the tongue with cola and cranberry fruit notes. A little Umami action as well.

Bourbon County – Vanilla Rye: First brewed for the legendary festival of Wood and Barrel Aged Beer in Chicago, drinkers enjoyed this Bourbon County Variant so much we bottled it the next year (2010). People flocked to stores to get their hands on a bottle and have this one of a kind barrel aged stout. Over the past few years we have heard our fans express their love for this version and we are extremely proud to bring it back in 2014. This year’s version features a little twist of aging the stout in Rye Whiskey Barrels with a mix of Mexican and Madagascar vanilla beans!
I so wish this one had been ready but I will really like to see how these flavors meld together.

Proprietors Bourbon County: Proprietor’s Bourbon County Brand Stout is meant to show our immense gratitude to our neighbors here in Chicago – the loyal and adventurous fans whose support helped bring Bourbon County Brand Stout to towering new heights. Each year this release will differ from the previous year; a special variant created for Chicago and unique to the year it was released. Whether your first sip is today or was from that first batch in 1992, thank you for lifting us up on your big shoulders and joining us every year to celebrate the original bourbon barrel aged stout.