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  • 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: Dec 2013


    Last month of 2013! I had so many good beers in December, so many. With the exception of Fullsteam’s Igor, I can recommend every single one of these brews.

    Check out my Untappd RSS feed for more beery goodness!

    Boulevard Brewing Dark Truth Stout – 9.7% – bottle

    Pours a dark mahogany with a thick light brown head. The aroma is very malty with notes of toffee, banana and whiskey. The initial taste is vaguely sweet, but that’s quickly overwhelmed by bitter woodiness. Banana esters linger on the tongue as the bitterness fades into burnt oak notes and a lingering finish. It’s a little too burned-tasting for me, but it’s not bad by any stretch.

    Bell’s Expedition Stout – 10.5% – bottle

    This is a beautifully silky, oaky stout. Bourbon and dark malts in the aroma, and more of the same in the taste. The high gravity lends a nice burn in the finish, but it’s well-balanced by the sweetness and low carbonation. There’s even a good level of piney hoppiness in here. I think this is the best beer I’ve had from Bell’s. Continue reading “<span class="entry-title-text">Ted’s Beer of the Month: Dec 2013</span>” »

  • Ted’s Beer of the Month: Oct 2013 (3 of 3)

    Welcome to the Halloween post!

    Whoa, WHOA, WHOA. I totally overshot the 21st and I am terribly sorry. I know you all wait for these posts with bated breath, so I hope no one suffocated this weekend. The last 11 days of October were good ones, so enjoy, and let me know what you think if you try any of these brews!

    10/21: Carolina Brewing Oktoberfest Lager – 5.6% ABV – bottle

    I drank this one out of the bottle, so I can’t speak very well to the color or aroma. I liked the heavy maltiness of it, and the mouthfeel was crisp and clean. I always like finding lagers I enjoy, since I primarily drink ales and I don’t want all the lagers to feel lonely and neglected. I don’t really like the style all that much in general, so I doubt I’ll get this one again, but as märzens go, it’s a good one.

    10/22: Boatswain H.L.V. (Heavy Lift Vessel) Ale – 7% – bottle

    Another bomber I bought at Trader Joe’s for just a couple bucks. It pours dark brown with a one-finger head that leaves moderate lacing. Aroma is roasted malts, raisins, and a good bit of booze. Flavor is a little bland, mostly dark malts and mild bitterness. It hangs around a good while, slowly fading away into bitterness. For the money, it’s a fine beer. No award winner, but it’s sure better than Simpler Times – not that that’s hard.

    Continue reading “<span class="entry-title-text">Ted’s Beer of the Month: Oct 2013 (3 of 3)</span>” »

  • Ted’s Beer of the Month: Oct 2013 (1 of 3)


    Since last month’s post was so slim, I’M GIVING IT ALL I’VE GOT this month. Every day I drank one of the beers from the stash given to me by my loving wife for my 27th birthday back in August. I didn’t have a full month’s worth of new beers, but I found a few others to fill in the gaps; it was tough, but I made it through somehow. Since it’s such a long post, I’ve broken it up into three parts. I’m trying out a slightly different format this month, so let me know if you like it. Here are the first 10 days’ worth of beers:

    10/1: Uinta Hoodoo Kölsch – 4% – bottle

    Grassy and mildly citrusy on the nose, with a tinge of yeast underneath. The taste is fine, but nothing to write home about. I’m not typically a kolsch drinker, so maybe my palate’s been tainted by all the strongly-malted and hopped beers I so love. If that’s wrong, I don’t want to be right.

    10/2: Uinta Detour Double IPA – 9.5% – corked bottle

    img-detour-bottleSpeaking of strongly-hopped beers, this beer presents a stark contrast to last night’s selection. It pours a hazy amber with a short white head that dissipates quickly and leaves heavy lacing. The aroma is beautifully hoppy, a mix of grass and citrus with a sweet caramel backbone. There’s a lot of bitterness in the taste, and it lingers on the tongue. There are a couple sour off-notes in the finish that I’m not a fan of as well. The high alcohol content, something I look forward to in DIPAs, is overpowered by the harsh bitterness of the hops. Sadly, I can’t recommend this beer, and will be sticking with old standbys like Foothills’ Seeing Double in the future.

    Continue reading “<span class="entry-title-text">Ted’s Beer of the Month: Oct 2013 (1 of 3)</span>” »

  • Ted’s Beer of the Month: Sep 2013

    Real brief post this month, as most of September’s beer consisted of repeats and/or I completely forgot to take notes, but I promise you that October’s post will be one for the record books.

    wootstoutStone Farking Wheaton w00tstout – 13% – bottle – A strong whiskey aroma with a malty backbone. The mouthfeel is smooth and the sweetness is high, with a pecan flavor roaming around that, while I’m not a huge fan of in general, fits very well with this beer. Seeing as this was a collaboration between Wil Wheaton, Drew Curtis and Stone’s Greg Koch, it came with a whole lot of hype, and it definitely lived up to its name. I hope they continue the w00tstout series for many years.

    Great Divide Fresh Hop Pale Ale – 6.1% – bottle – After reading a recent article about how fresh hop beers may be the last true seasonals, I tasted this beer with a new level of respect. Pine and citrus in the aroma, mild carbonation with medium body. The wet hop flavors are really nice, I can definitely taste the freshness. I’m glad they didn’t go for an IPA-like bitterness with the fresh hops, the sweeter pale ale style suits it very well.

    Continue reading “<span class="entry-title-text">Ted’s Beer of the Month: Sep 2013</span>” »

  • Ted’s Beer of the Month: Jul 2013

    Wow, this month is flying by, and I’m so late with the July beer_rb_prodbeer of the month! I know you’re holding your breath, so I’ll dive right in.

    New Belgium Rolle Bolle – bottle – 5.5% ABV – New Belgium ROLLEd this one out as their summer seasonal this year, and I’m impressed. It has all the things a summer beer should have: light, refreshing body, a relatively mild flavor, and a clean finish that doesn’t leave you looking for a glass of water.

    Terrapin Rye Pale Ale – draft – 5.3% ABV – I drank this one and the Hopsecutioner below on tap at a restaurant in Atlanta, because, well, “When in Rome…” It’s a little weak on the rye, especially since my gold standard is Sierra Nevada’s Ruthless Rye, and overall not my favorite. The malt and hop character are fine, but I look for that spicy punch and this one misses the mark for me. That’s why I drank it first, before…

    Continue reading “<span class="entry-title-text">Ted’s Beer of the Month: Jul 2013</span>” »

  • Beer of the Month: Feb 2013

    February was a pretty good month, beerwise and otherwise. I got a new job that’s really awesome so far, and I was able to try some delicious new beers and enjoy some old favorites. My plan is to write up the beers I’ve had every month and pick a winner. Keep in mind that I’m the very definition of an amateur beer reviewer, so I apologize in advance if my descriptions lack depth or wax poetic or both. I can’t promise it will always be something different, but maybe it’ll help you next time you’re at the bottle shop trying to make a decision. If you want to see my ratings as they happen, feel free to follow me on Untappd.

    • Widmer Brothers Marionberry Hibiscus Gose – bottle – 5.5% ABV – A very pink beer. It’s a bit weak in the flavor department, although what there was was pretty good. Floral and just the slightest bit tart thanks to the hibiscus. Most of the flavor comes in the finish, which is a little unusual and makes for a slightly difficult drinking process. On the one hand its light ABV and champagne-ish look and feel make you want to drink it quickly so you can get to some real beer, and on the other hand, the longer you wait between sips, the more flavor you get. I’m not likely to buy this one again.
    • Great Divide Oak Aged Yeti Imperial Stout – bottle – 9.5% ABV – Drank this out of my Great Divide tulip glass, because what else would I use? Wonderfully oak-y as usual, and always a winner in my book. Definitely the best of the Yetis that I’ve had, though Espresso OAY is a close second. It’s a slow-sipping beer for me, one I like to savor, especially considering its gravity. My advice is to let it warm up a little before digging in, it’s worth the wait. I would love to try this one on a nitro tap.

    Continue reading “<span class="entry-title-text">Beer of the Month: Feb 2013</span>” »