A Pair of Peculiar Puyallups

Yea, I mean, Puyallup River is offering us beer geeks a holiday spiced imperial cream ale (wha…?) and an imperial eggnog stout (uh, ok). Doing a real quick search on RateBeer, the eggnog stout isn’t unprecedented though hardly a common offering. I’m imagining myself in some sort of random conversation on the brewery floor at Puyallup. The topic is holiday beers and the general disdain of the standard expectation from the breweries. Someone say, “let’s get a bit weird this year.” Somehow, that gains traction and eggnog is the obvious choice. But, Imperial Christmas Cream Ale? I love it. I initially didn’t. I saw the bottle, shook my head, and quickly forgot about it. However, it crept back up in my subconscious and every time I saw a bottle it was more and more difficult to pass it up. Puyallup finally broke me and I snagged a bottle of each. Are they worthy additions to the holiday beer or just forgettable novelty beers that fade away silently into he cold winter’s night? Let’s find out.

Puyallup River imperial Eggnog Mud Mountain Milk Stout : 8.5% – I’ve heard good things about the Mud Mountain Milk Stout but haven’t yet had the pleasure. Much like the Christmas Cream Ale, I saw this, basically laughed it off, and moved along. Eventually, it’s novelty overcame my ability to withstand it and I picked up a bottle. Pours pitch black with a dark head. Powerful vanilla and spice aroma is spot on spicy eggnog. I love eggnog. I am happy. Full and oily body. The flavor hits like a mouth full of spice. Too much spice and somehow slightly minty. The vanilla is overshadowed by the spices intensity. There isn’t much of a stout profile, either. Not roasted notes, little chocolate, nothing. The aroma is very inviting but the flavor doesn’t back it up. A bit of a letdown, honestly.

Puyallup River Imperial Christmas Cream Ale : 8.5% – I haven’t had many, or any, even, imperial cream ales in my day. Nor have I had many golden or even pale beers filled with holiday spices. Needless to say, at first glance I passed it over nearly immediately. Where did this idea come from and who at Puyallup said “fuck it, go for it?” I admire the gusto. The beer itself is a hazy pale golden with a large head. The spices fill the room immediately with their holiday aroma. Cinnamon, nutmeg, some light toasted pie crust. Full and slick body. The spice continues to shine in the flavor leaving you with a lingering hot spice in the finish. The booze is fairly well hidden under all those spices. I am a bit suprised at how well this worked. The spices are powerful but this is a well-balanced, well-behaved, spiced strong ale. I’m a bit taken back. I had some pretty good one-liners set up to dog this brew but I can’t use them (Damn. They were good, too). But, at the end of the day, it’s better that this is a good beer than me getting to use those (right?). I’m not saying I’m gonna rush out and buy a bunch more of these this year but it will probably show up in my stock again this time next year.

Well, I’d say Puyallup is one for two on their adventurous holiday brews. The Eggnog Stout didn’t work for me but the Christmas Cream ale was quite pleasant. Batting .500 is something we can all strive for.

Made It

I made a post in September titled Motivation. in which I challenged myself to reach a goal of 100 on a few different styles. It wasn’t all that many beers, really. It was only 28 beers and I had more than three months to drink them. Well, that is the logic that got the Mrs to add cider to the 100 count goal, bumping it up a few bottles. Still, it shouldn’t be too hard. I’ll just split some ciders with her while I drink the Imperials and Belgian strong, right? Well, yea, right, but I was also underway for more than a month of that three month marathon and I didn’t take the challenge too seriously at first, meaning its difficulty built up over the weeks.

I won’t hold you in suspense- I made it. I made it at about 10:30 p.m., Dec 31st after charging through an absolutely idiotic amount of high abv Belgian strong and ciders in the last three days of the year.

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In hindsight, it was a dumb thing to do. It wasn’t so much dumb because of the abv of many of the beers (though if you talked to me on NYE you’d probably disagree with that), just that being forced into so many of a specific style really made the whole hobby of craft beer a chore. I’ve never had that before and I hope to never again. It made me bored of drinking and dreading the thought of it. You could say that’s stupid, just don’t drink in that case. Well, we have this thing in our family that if we set a goal we meet it. Generally, that is a good thing but here it taught me that I am not a smart man.

What matters is that it’s over. What also matters is I drank some really fantastic beers I would have normally overlooked. Struise Pannepot Reserva was an amazing experience. Sound Mayan Cave Bear was tops and I would have normally passed as I’m not a chili beer kind of guy. Crux Half Hitch was killer. I’m glad I snagged a bottle of Dupont / Lost Abbey Deux Amis saison because that was another insane output from both of those righteous breweries. And I’ve got to mention  d’s Wicked Baked Apple cider. It’s a spiced cider trying for a bit of the novelty factor of cider but it hits the head of the nail square and true. 

I’m excited to get back to drinking what I’m in the mood for when that mood strikes. 

Prost!

Beer Goals : 2017

I’m still a bit confused that 2016 is almost over. I’m not confused about how that works, just that where did it go? Being at sea for more than eight months this year leads to the confusion. It also led to very few of my beer goals for the year actually getting accomplished. Sure, I drank local beers in a few countries I’d never been to (S. Korea, Singapore, Guam (not a country, I get it)) but there were certain beer things I’ve been excited to explore that I didn’t. I’m hoping I can make 2017 a bit more productive. I’m not a resolution kind of guy so that’s not what this is. Just a general plan of attack for the upcoming 365.

  1. Brew. I haven’t seriously brewed in years. I got a couple batches brewed in Bahrain, but I really want to get on the brewing train again. I’m excited to get some porters, milds and saisons churned out. Mrs. Tuesday Pints has been … encouraging me for a while and hopefully I can finally meet her expectations (she really wants some spent grain for her bread making).
  2. Brew a lager. This is probably my most adventurous goal for the year. I’m not sure how far I’ll get on it but I’d love to down a few home-brewed Oktoberfest biers come September.
  3. Visit Chuckanut Brewing. My love for a good lager has been growing exponentially over the previous two to three years and I’ve heard great things about their Chuckanut’s lagers. I was fortunate enough to get a taste of their Vienna not too long ago and it only intensified my desire to get to the source. We already have a trip lined up to visit the area so I’m fairly confident this will get checked off pretty quickly.
  4. Visit all Kitsap Peninsula breweries. The brewing scene on the peninsula has improved steadily since I moved out here with multiple breweries opening/expanding/brewing better beer in 2016. I’ve been able to get to a handful of them but am looking to make a hard push during 2017 to get to the ones I haven’t visited.
  5. Drink the classics. Sure, that cognac barrel aged imperial sour flanders-style brett ale is expanding what the definition of beer is but is it really a world-class beer? I want to get back to the classics that inspired this beer revolution we are currently enjoying. Beers like Sierra Nevada Pale ale (geez, when was the last time I drank one of these?), Chimay, Pilsner Urquell (OK, I drink this fairly often as it is), and many others that started us down the road to the maple bacon spruce no hop stout.
  6. Visit Machine House Brewing. They make great English-style ales. English ales are some of my favorites. Balanced malt and hop and made for easy drinking. Sometimes I need a break from all the high-octane hop bombs or weird ass stouts and just need a pint of a cool English ale pulled from a cask.
  7. Explore Tacoma’s beer scene. Seattle is the hub city of great beer in Washington. Makes sense to me for a variety of reasons. However, Tacoma seems like a great town. There are loads of breweries and great bars at the bottom of the sound. The city itself seems a bit more relaxed than Seattle and speaks the Mrs and I more than Seattle does.
  8. Visit Heater Allen Brewing. Another lager fueled brewery on my short list of brewery visits. I’ve snagged HA beers each time the Mrs and I have made it to Oregon and each has been fantastic. That pils … whoa. It’s time to make a stop and see where it comes from.
  9. Group gatherings. This is something I used to do on the regular and really enjoyed. I haven’t attended a group gathering in years but with all the stellar brews out here it would be great to join in the fun a bit again. Not to mention, bombers of a 12% BA Impy Stout on a Wednesday night can get a bit difficult by yourself.
  10. Improve my beer photography. I have always enjoyed photography and beer and combining the two. I’ve gotten real lazy with my beer photography and I’d like to improve it. More creative scenes, better lighting, thoughtful composition and stop with my tried and true bottle in front of glass *snap* post to instagram routine I’m currently stuck in.
  11. Get out more. Due mostly to my current location, I do the vast majority of my beer nerding at home. It wasn’t always this way and I’d like to move away from that a bit. I prefer being among the people. At breweries, at great taverns, at dive bars, at festivals.
  12. Visit Deschutes Brewing. They’re kind of a big deal, make great beer, and aren’t too far away. Gotta take advantage of my location and get down there.
  13. Blog more. I’d still like that to become a reality …
  14. Somehow convince PNW breweries to move away from the bombers. I’m just so tired of everything coming in a bomber. I’d love more 16 oz bottles but would be happy with 12 oz bottles/cans.
  15. Beer Festivals. This goes along with #11, but I haven’t been to a beer festival in a few years. It would be nice to get to a festival and “discover” some new local beers.

And there we go. I was striving for 17 but I got worn out by #12 so I figured I’d end it at a nice and neat 15. If I manage to knock out half of these this year I’ll consider it a successful year in beer.

Cheers!

Motivation.

I haven’t blogged in quite some time. I have reasons, sure. Time, energy, access to the internet, etc. They’re all…good, as in, they are all real. But honestly, lack of motivation is the driving factor in the layoff. While stationed in Japan, I had plenty of things to talk about that were new and interesting. However, Philadelphia is flooded with beer and people who know far more than I and Bahrain had nearly no beer and no reason to discuss it. I now find myself on the Kitsap peninsula. It may be the most frustrating place I’ve lived. Kitsap is surrounded by large cities and small towns overflowing with great beer and great breweries. Hell, even this peninsula has some outstanding breweries…but where are the great beer pubs and stores pushing the local suds? This tiny blog will have no discernible affect on the availability of beers, but I do plan on at least talking about them a little more. Hopefully, the motivation lasts.

In that effort, my lovely Craft Beer Wife (the most understanding of all the wives) challenged me. You see, I am the nerd who enters his thoughts on the ol’ Ratebeer.com website. I’ve amassed a decent number over the years and am close to certain milestones in the stats department. I agree, my stats that don’t mean a damn thing. Hell, none of it means a damn thing, but it is fun to do, so I do it.

When I stepped on the pier after seven months of being at sea and on deployment, my wife challenged me to rate 100 new beers by the end of the year. With all the brews she snagged for me while I was gone and after downing a few flights at breweries, we both realized that was a walk in the park, regardless of how depleted my tolerance had become. So I asked for a new challenge.

She decided that I needed to get to 100 overall rates of each of the following:

Challenge
Only 28 beers. Easy day.

 

At first glance, it doesn’t seem too difficult. It’s only 28 beers, dude. But, Belgian strong ales could be the sticking point. Impy stouts and IPAs? I’ve already got those in my queue, but the BSAs, and ones I haven’t had yet, might prove trickier than I’m thinking. The only way to find out it to start drinking.

Let’s get to it.

Showdown: Island Lagers

When I found out I’d be spending a week or so in Oahu for business, I researched island brewed pilsners and pale lagers for quite some time. Turns out, there aren’t that many and the ones out there are harder to find than they should be. Warm beaches are made for crisp lagers, in my humble, but correct, opinion (I will add that stouts and porters make for great warm weather beers, too). Once I got here and started exploring the few good beers stores and all those ABC stores around the island it became abundantly clear that Hawaii might be paradise, unless you are a craft beer fan.

Hawaii_Lagers
Lagers over Waikiki.

The three lagers on this installment of the showdown are all relatively easy to find. Most ABC and 7-11s seemed to have at least two of them. So, which on should be your go-to beach lager in the Hawaiian Isles? Lets find out.

Aloha Lager:

Aloha Lager
Hello (or goodbye), Lager.

Pour is slightly hazy golden with a small white head. Slightly earthy and a bit of citrus along with hay. Crisp finish. Not really that good. I was hoping for a crisp, clean, lightly hoppy lager that refreshes while imbibing. What this is is a meaty, hay and toasty lager. Not what I think of when I drink Hawaii lager. I guess that isn’t entirely fair since I like some of the other breweries lagers that aren’t Czech style pilsners, but that is what I got form the advertising so that is what I expect. Anoha to this lager.

Kona Longboard Lager:

Kono - Longboard Lager
I’d drink this on a surfboard.

Very clear and pale yellow with a wispy white head. Pretty much nothing going on here. Like, a void of aroma and flavor. However, it is clear and fairly clean. Light sweetness and a bit of light hops in the finish. When freezing, it’s quite refreshing. As it warms it gets a little…meh. Not much to like or dislike here, because there really isn’t much here. It’s pretty clean and refreshing but completely flavorless. This would be a pretty on point beach drinker and it gets bonus points for that.

Maui Bikini Blonde:

Maui - Bikini Blonde Lager

Golden with a white head because, well, it’s a golden lager with a white head. This one actually has plenty of flavor. From toasty malts, to some sweetness, a little grain and light hops. It has the easy drinking quality of the rest of the lagers but quite flavorful, too. This really is the most enjoyable of the bunch. The drawback here is that once it gets too warm on the beach the enjoyable flavor notes could make it a bit more difficult to gulp down. I guess the answer there is to bring a coozie.

Well, there ya go. When it comes to Hawaii brewed pale lagers, Maui Bikini Blonde reigns supreme. The Kona is nice if you just want to smash a few before heading out for the day and avoiding a bit of the overpriced beach bars. But, if you’re looking to enjoy a few good beers in the sun, go for the Maui.

In all honesty, none of these ended up being my preferred beach beers. Kona’s Big Wave Golden Ale became my go-to. It’s light, decently hopped, crisp profile really did a bang up job refreshing and de-sobering me. It was just as easy to find as the lagers, too.

Beer Desolation in a Beer Paradise

Sinclair_Inlet_CloudsI’ve made it to the PNW. It makes me feel like I’ve reached the promise land. There is great beer everywhere. The selection of beer out here is astounding and I’m really looking forward to drinking my way through it all. The downer, is while I’m in beer paradise, I’m also in the beer wasteland that is the Kitsap peninsula. Sure, there are a plethora of breweries out here, with a few more slated to open soon, but actually finding that beer can be tricky. There are a good number of pubs nearby that I can get a pint, but to bring some beer home is trickier than I expected. Beer stores are hard to come by out here. The grocery stores do a bang up job…for grocery stores…but there are no stores devoted to just beer (at least that I have found just yet). To get to a bottle shop one must leave the peninsula entirely. Now, yes, I am looking a gift horse in it’s big toothy mouth, but I know it’s not all bad. Like I said, there are a good number of pubs serving good beers and a decent selection can be found at grocery stores.

Once again, this is going to be a tasty adventure. Cheers!

Super Strong Showdown

If there is one type of beer that Bahrain liquor stores stock in massive amounts, it’s strong, terrible, malt liquors. I thought it would be funny to pick up a couple and do a side by side, but as you will read, it was less funny and more terrible burning. The iconic paper bag that malt liquors come in haven’t made it out to Bahrain so the standard black bag of shame will have to do.

Booze Bros
Booze Bros

So, which can of burney pain eventually came out on top? Will the crown stay intact or will the pirates steal the royalty’s fortune? Let’s find out.

Royal Dutch  Super Strong 12%

I wonder the abv on this one
I wonder the abv on this one

The label design is dull- strike one. If it weren’t for research purposes I would have never purchased this, instead buying a boatload of the Pirate because there is a pirate on the can and if all I care about is getting lit up I might as well pretend I’m a swashbuckler.

Gotta take that first swig straight from the can. No aroma check, no color check, just a hard and deep gulp. Unf, this is rough. It’s full bodied and syrupy smooth with a bit of carbonation in the back end. Royal Dutch slides down the throat with a red-hot alcohol tail, which balances out the grainy sweetness. After pouring it into a glass I can see that this is crystal clear gold with a small head. The aroma is cheap booze mixed with malt sweetness. It has a rough grain profile masked by the fumes and the high level sugary aroma. The more I drink the more fruity notes I’m picking up. (Five minutes later) I can’t taste anything. My tastebuds are burnt off and I might be drunk.

 

Pirate Super Strong 12% 

Plundering your sobriety
Plundering your sobriety

Can chug- medium to thin boded with a much harsher finish. Not much flavor other than fusel alcohol. Seriously, it burns. Back again and…ouahhh it is hot. Oh man, I’m trying to hold on to hope that I’ll like this one better but that gulp just bit me, I think.

Poured into a glass I see that this one is bright hay/gold with a large head. Clear because filtering is AWESOME! Aroma is a mix of booze, grain, fruity notes and apple really coming thru. Flavor is mostly cereal grains and a lot of booze. Sweet and light fruits, too. Not much, really. I’m mostly surprised about the lack of flavor in this one. (break, lost track of time) I’m seriously drunk. My head is floating, my fingers are dancing, and I don’t know what is going on right now.

Job well done, boozed up brews. I guess you’re both champions.

But in reality, only the Pirate is a champ. The reason is two fold. One, you have a much awesomer can and name. Who doesn’t want to get drunk and pretend to be a pirate? No one. Not even pirates because today’s pirates suck and pirates of yore were cool (except that they sucked, too). But, at least their attire is neat and I can wear it at Halloween. Two, it has less flavor, which means it has less bad flavor and that is a positive. Sure, the booze is a bit harsher, but it’s 12%. Don’t buy it if you didn’t expect that.

Beer and Curry: No. 1

The wife and I made Coco’s curry tonight. Yea, it happened and I am bragging about it. I decided it was high time to start pairing more than just pilsners with delicious curry so I snagged a Lagunitas IPA out of my beer fridge. How’d it fare?

Chicken Katsu, Veggie Coco's, IPA
Chicken Katsu, Veggie Coco’s, IPA

It was mighty fine, thank you. The boxed Coco’s Vegetable Curry is quite mild so on one level I’d say the beer overpowered the curry. Had this been a level two or three, instead of the zero it was, it would have been about the right intensity. As it was, the beer cleaned out the palate so I could enjoy each bite as it was my first.

Excellent.

Refill

It’s hot in Bahrain. Real hot. We have a pool, but the water is cold. Too cold. Drained it yesterday and refilling it today. Not much else to do but watch it slowly fill with a homebrew in hand.

Refilling the pool and my spirits.
Refilling the pool and my spirits.

Today’s pool filling viewing party is brought to you by my low alcohol grissette. It’s cold, it’s light, it’s flavorful. Not a bad Friday afternoon.