• Category Archives Booze
  • Ted’s Beer of the Month: Nov/Dec 2014


    I think this will be my last BOTM post, at least for now. I find myself much less willing to write in-depth beer reviews than I used to, and putting this out every month has become a chore rather than an enjoyable pastime. I’ll probably end up writing one-off beer reviews as I find new and noteworthy brews, which will be more thoughtfully written since I won’t feel under the gun to churn them out. Thanks to anyone who’s followed my ramblings this far, I hope to produce higher quality content in the future!

    Alright, on to the good stuff. I’ve had some fantastic beers in the last two months, so at least we’re going out with a bang.

    stoplight_grnTröegs Perpetual Imperial Pale Ale – 7.5% – bottle

    This is a tricky one, since even though there’s a big “IPA” on the bottle, the small print on the bottle indicates that this stands for Imperial Pale Ale. It’s confusing, but at least I know I’m not the only one, because when I checked into this beer on Untappd, I got TWO badges, one for Pale Ales and another for IPAs. It’s a mystery, but at least it’s delicious. It showcases its hops without smacking you in the face with them. Its pine and floral notes dominate, but they don’t overpower the malts, which often happens with American IPAs.

    stoplight_ylwStone Coffee Milk Stout – 4.2% – bottle

    While browsing my local Crafty Beer Shop, where every 6-pack is build-your-own, I decided to forego variety for once and get a full sixer of this one. Call it a fit of madness, but I’m partial to both coffee and milk stouts, and it was nearly winter, so I figured why not? Well, it wasn’t a total disappointment, since it’s really smooth, but I get more bitter, smoky malts than coffee, and there are simply other milk stouts that are far better.

    stoplight_grnStone Enjoy By 12.26.14 IPA – 9.4% – bottle

    To give Stone a chance to redeem itself after the Milk Stout, I got this Enjoy By because it put me in the Wintermas spirit, and it was a good decision. Powerful bitterness runs throughout this one, because it’s from Stone, but it’s well-balanced by the sweet caramel flavors from the malts and the grapefruit peel and pine flavors of the hops. Now I kinda want to get another bottle and wait until December 27th to drink it, because I live on the edge.

    stoplight_grnArjay Hinek’s Applewood Smoked Porter – 5.8% – draft

    I have the good fortune to be part of a mature Agile team at my job, and to have a phenomenal Scrum Master in Arjay. But beyond his Scrum cred, he’s also a woodworker and homebrewer. (It’s a little scary sometimes how much our interests overlap) This week he brought in his latest creation, a (nearly) sessionable porter flavored with home-smoked applewood. If you’re a regular follower of this series, you know that I really don’t go for smoky beers, but this one was really good. The malts have the reins, and the smokiness is very mellow, rather than the bitterness I’m used to. I think that’s due to most smoky beers getting their smoke flavor from over-roasted (read: burned) malts. The more you drink this beer, the more you feel like you’ve been sitting next to a campfire, and how can that be bad? Sadly, none of you can have any, but hopefully I’ll get to drink more someday.

    Arjay blogs about Agile at So Agile It Hurts Sometimes.

    Fullsteam Fellowship of the Barrel


    Fullsteam Brewing in Durham is well-known as being one of my favorite local breweries. Even though I had a funky bottle of their IGOR last year, all other experiences with them have been fantastic, especially IGOR on draft. This year they threw a weekend-long tap takeover full of nothing but barrel-aged beers. Glorious, I know. If I could have stayed there for the entire time and tasted every beer, I totally would have. However, things like “feeding the animals (like Finnegan, up top)” and “fiscal responsibility” and “picking up my wife from the airport” got in the way. Sheesh.

    stoplight_grnFullsteam RABA Cack-A-Lacky – 5.5%

    Cack-a-Lacky is one of my favorite pale ales. It has such a nice bright ginger punch, it’s very effervescent, and the ABV is definitely low enough for this to be a lunch beer. Also it comes in cans, which is awesome. For this version, they aged it in Rhum Agricole (a.k.a. cane juice rum) barrels. Apart from a barely higher ABV (up from 5%) and a touch of woody depth, this basically tasted like standard Cack-a-Lacky. That is to say it was delicious, if not all that nuanced. If they do this again next year I’ll probably try something else in its place.

    stoplight_grnFullsteam 2013 IGOR – 9.0%

    IGOR, on the other hand, I will drink any time I can get my hands on it. Aged in a bourbon barrel, this smooth, chocolatey stout with great bourbon barrel notes was an instant favorite the moment I had it on draft.

    stoplight_ylwHaw River + Mystery Memorial Day 2012 – 5.4%

    This wild saison aged in brandy and red wine barrels was okay. I’m glad it was part of the festival, because they can’t all be pushing 10% ABV, but the red wine flavors were strange and a little over the top, given the already complex interplay between the mellow woodiness of the brandy and the sharp tang of the wild yeasts.

    stoplight_grnHighland McRooney Scotch Ale – 8.3%

    It doesn’t surpass Old Chub in my heart, but it’s still a delicious Scotch Ale, particularly with the addition of the whisky-barrel oak notes and the heightened ABV. It has that dense peatiness that you can feel in your teeth, which is something I love.

    stoplight_grnHaw River Major Arcana Sour Black Ale – 7.2%

    I definitely wasn’t expecting to see a sour at this event, but I’m glad I did, because this was an excellent beer. This is the first beer I’ve had where barrel-aging imparted a kind of lightness. Being a sour black ale, Major Arcana is a small-portion, small-sip kind of beer. The brandy barrel flavors, while not prominent, cut the sourness nicely and allowed me to experience the full range of flavors in the sour, rather than dwelling solely on the bite.

    perpetualOof, picking a winner this month is tough. I’m tempted to pick IGOR again, since it’s so fantastic, but I think that the Tröegs Perpetual IPA edges it out for me this time. There’s something special about that one, and it kind of renewed my interest in thoughtfully tasting beer. Maybe Pale Ales will be my next personal tasting focus, since historically they’ve taken a back seat to IPAs.

    Thanks for reading! As always, any recommendations are welcome in the comments.

    Happy Holidays!

  • Ted’s Beer of the Month: Oct 2014

    Sierra Nevada Snowpack

    Whoops, looks like I lost a month there. September wasn’t very interesting anyway, I mostly drank a lot of Big Boss Harvest Time, because it’s Fall and it’s delicious and I do what I want. On to October! This month I came across  Sierra Nevada’s Snowpack 12-pack, which contains these 4 winter-friendly brews…

    stoplight_grnCoffee Stout – 6.2%

    A thick, dark beer, this simply-named coffee stout smells great, with the coffee aroma coming through first, followed by a combination of dark roasted malts and fruity smokiness. Fruity smokiness may sound crazy, but its my nose, so stop judging me! I forgot about it let it warm up a bit before drinking it. Because I’m fancy. The flavor is understandably coffee-heavy, but there is a delicate caramel sweetness that comes along with the mild piney bitterness. I’m still not a fan of smoke flavor in beers, so this is not my favorite coffee stout. Still, it is well-balanced and a nice wintry beer.

    stoplight_grnBoomerang IPA – 6.7%

    The aroma is dank and herbal, and it has an impressively bitter punch right off  the bat. It’s very hoppy and resinous from start to finish, with grapefruit peel and pine flavors taking turns at the forefront. The malts provide a baseline sweetness, but mainly get out of way to let the hops shine. The finish is dry, and the bitterness lingers a long time. I wouldn’t put this IPA in my regular rotation, but it’s a good occasional beer for when you’re feeling especially bitter.

    stoplight_grnPorter – 5.6%

    Starting out with a malt-forward aroma with notes of chocolate and floral hops, this is a balanced porter with  great carbonation and a dry mouthfeel that just keeps pushing those malts to the forefront. More chocolate and coffee flavors come into play as it warms, with the hops giving a bitter nudge that’s just enough to offset the mild sweetness. The finish is moderately dry, and bitter. It’s a great example of the style, and maybe my favorite of this bunch.

    stoplight_grnPale Ale – 5.6%

    A good old standby, it has a snappy pine aroma underscored by caramel malt sweetness. The flavor has a mix of piney and mild citrusy hoppiness and caramel sweetness, with moderate bitterness coming in about halfway through and lingering for a while. The finish is sweet but well-balanced. I don’t like it as much as Torpedo, since as an American in my 20s I’m conditioned to love gratuitous levels of hoppiness. Still, it’s a good anchor for this 12-pack, and a good, easy-drinking beer to have around.

    The Verdict

    First of all, Happy Halloween! Also, I have no major complaints about any of these beers, they’re all pretty great! This is an excellent variety pack, particularly if you’re as ready for winter as I am.

    And while I’m not a huge football fan in general, I’m incredibly proud of my Mississippi State Bulldogs, for getting our state and our university some of the recognition it deserves!


  • Ted’s Beer of the Month: Aug 2014

    August! My birthday month! Sorry this post is so late, but I had a 5-day vacation right at the end of the month that threw me all out of whack. More on that in next month’s post.

    stoplight_ylwSam Adams Blueberry Hill Lager – bottle – 5.5%

    A hazy, yellow-orange lager with an aroma that’s a mix of light malts and sweet blueberry-like scents. It’s not a great smell, to be honest, a little garbagey. The flavor is sweet, with a pretty good blueberry flavor. The hop bitterness is very mild, and the main issue I have with the flavor is the low-quality aftertaste, just like any big-name lager. The finish is sticky, which I attribute to the sweetness of the blueberry. I haven’t had (or can’t recall) any other blueberry beers to compare this one with, but if you really like fruity brews, this one’s probably worth a try.

    Natural Selections: The Wake County Science & Brewers Expo

    Now that my wife Lindsey and I are official Raleighnians (it’s real, look it up), we’re trying to get more involved with the city. To that end, and also for my birthday, we went to the Natural Selections beer expo at the Raleigh Museum of Natural Sciences. Billed as “a one-of-a-kind evening of beer and science,” the three-hour event included a swath of local breweries, some big, some small, and a couple of talks about the science of beer. Sadly, because of timing, we chose to go get dinner rather than attend the talks. They sounded very interesting, but spending 3 hours tasting beer on an empty stomach is really not a good idea, so we stuck to tasting in the time we had before and after dinner.

    Here is an account of the beers I tried, based on the brief notes I took on my phone while walking around trying to look only mildly antisocial, rather than unbelievably antisocial. I doubt it worked.

    stoplight_ylwLynnwood Brewing Concern Hop on Top IPA – 7% – draft

    Bright bitterness with lots of pine and citrus. Heavy carbonations and a sticky finish. It’s an interesting beer, but not something I’d want a whole pint of.

    stoplight_redAviator Brewing Saison de Aviator – 6.5% – draft

    Oof. There’s something wrong with this batch, or maybe just this keg. I’m pretty sure I’ve had it before, but if so, it wasn’t anything like this. It’s cheesy and soapy, a little like a Flintstones vitamin actually. That’s fine as a vitamin flavor, delicious actually, but as a beer flavor? Not so much.

    stoplight_ylwBig Boss Oyster Gose – ABV Unknown – draft

    This is the most intriguing beer I had all night. It’s tart and salty, and it does taste like oysters. Definitely a small-portion, special mood kind of beer. Gose is such an interesting and versatile style. So far I’ve had a rosemary gose and a marionberry/hibiscus gose. I’d love to try more of them, any suggestions?

    stoplight_redGizmo Brewing Wild Wasp IPA – 6.8% – draft

    Musky and powerfully bitter. Some citrus notes too. I say leave that yeast in the wasp, it’s doing more good there than in here.

    stoplight_grnWhite Street Scottish Ale – 5.5% – draft

    A good solid Scottish ale, though it tastes like what most people would call a scotch ale. There seems to be a good bit of difference of opinion when it comes to what defines scotch vs scottish ale. All I know is that all of the scotch ales I’ve had have been earthy and rich, and the Scottish ales have all been sweeter and lighter. Regardless, it was a good beer.

    stoplight_grnRaleigh Brewing Big Squeeze – 6% – draft

    I’ve had this beer before, at a work function, but I don’t think I wrote about it.  It’s a really nice wheat beer, and the blood orange adds a fantastic tartness. I really think more beers should be infused with blood orange. More blood oranges for everyone!

    stoplight_redSub Noir Paul’s Brewtique Witbier + Lavender – 4.5% – draft

    Lavender is not my thing in beer, apparently, since this beer did not appeal to me. It tasted either like soap or perfume, neither of which is in the Pros column for me when it comes to beer flavors.

    stoplight_grnSub Noir Ginger Tripel – 9% – draft

    The ginger was surprisingly powerful in this beer. I thought it was tasty, though I admit I got it mostly to wash the taste of the lavender beer out of my mouth.

    stoplight_redFortnight Brewing Blonde Ale – 5% – draft

    Yuck. I can’t believe this had to be my last beer of the night. Simply terrible. This beer will definitely keep me from paying Fortnight a visit if I’m ever in the area.

    Busy Bee Sourfest 2014

    To further enhance the beer-fueled nature of my birthday weekend, I convinced my wife and some friends to go to Sourfest with me. It was crazy in there, but we managed to find a table up in The Hive and we sat down to enjoy some tart tastiness.

    stoplight_grnNew Belgium Love Felix – 7.5% – draft

    It’s not quite as sour as La Folie, and much lighter in color and body as well. It has some great cherry flavors and is incredibly refreshing. I could drink this all day.

    stoplight_grnBFM Abbaye de Saint Bon-Chien – 11% – draft

    As soon as the bartender handed me my glass, he wiped this beer off the board, so I consider it a minor birthday miracle. An incredible beer. It’s mellow and tart, and I honestly would not peg it at 11%. It’s so smooth, with heavy oak and dark fruit flavors under the tartness. By the way, BFM stands for Brasserie des Franches-Montagnes, and I’m keeping an eye out for their beers from now on.

    I guess I have to pick a winner, so…

    1408916518283Abbaye de Saint Bon-Chien it is! Far and away the best beer I had this month.

    Leave a comment and let me know what I should be drinking in September!


  • Ted’s Beer of the Month: Jul 2014

    It’s super hot outside right now, except when it’s pouring, after which it’s hot again, and also insanely humid. In such a miserable month, I said to myself, “Why not add insult to injury?” For almost this entire series thus far, I’ve spent my time reviewing high-quality craft beers. This habit, while delicious, leaves a huge segment of the world of beer simply untouched. For this month’s post, I chose six macro beers to review. I chose these beers haphazardly at my local Kroger “build-your-own” booth. The pickins were slim, though to its credit, not all bad — I’m looking at you, New Belgium’s Snapshot, mmm — but I came out with what I think is a respectable (un-respectable) sixer. Let me know what you think of my choices, or just tell me how brave I am, in the comments.

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  • Ted’s Beer of the Month: Jun 2014

    Welcome one and all, great and small, to the hyper-hopped beer battle to end them all! This month I take THREE Double IPAs and THREE Imperial IPAs and pit them against one another in a winner-take-all free for all! I know as well as you that there’s no official difference between the Imperial IPA and Double IPA styles, but the brewer named it that way for a reason, and I mean to find out why. I haven’t had any of these before, so a portion of this month’s post is also expanding my knowledge of the style and maybe even finding a new favorite. No matter what happens, it’ll surely be a good month.

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