• Tag Archives homebrew
  • Ted’s Beer of the Month: Nov/Dec 2014

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    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

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    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: Jan 2014


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    A fabulous February fourth to you, my fellow fans of that fine, foamy fluid that facilitates flirtation and foolishness in folks frugal and flush alike! I’ve decided that this month’s theme is going to be alliteration, so strap in for a slew of synonyms superbly selected so similar sounds suffuse my sentences.

    Victory Prima Pils – 5.3% – bottle

    Golden with just a hint of haze and a long-lasting light foamy head, this beer smells like bread and yeast and mild hops. The taste is bitterer than I expected, with a light citrus flavor. Very effervescent on the tongue, and a clean finish. My previous campaign to enjoy stouts more by drinking a wide variety of them has worked pretty well, so I think I’ll work on pilsners for a while.

    Victory Headwaters Pale Ale – 5.2% – bottle

    Pours a hazy, pale amber with a finger and a half of off-white head that leaves heavy lacing. Aroma is mostly spicy and citrus hops, with a little yeast as well. The taste is light biscuit and caramel malts, . Hops aren’t as present here as they were in the aroma, though there’s a citrus hit at the end. The finish is clean and sweet. This is a perfectly pleasant pale ale, I’ll probably pick up a pack posthaste.

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