A Bitter to Ward off Bitterness

Well, I must have moved again because that seems to be the only time I ever update this blog. And yes, I did move. Guam is my new home- another tour overseas, another island (this makes three for three, for those counting … Navy).

De Ranke XX Bitter-4
Beer on the balcony.

Oh, tropical islands and beer. You two are made for each other and yet you don’t get along in any meaningful way. Dark beers are shunned and hoppy beers and destroyed. I’m left with pale lagers … not pilsners, which I would love, but pale lagers. Those ubiquitous beach club beers that are solely used as a cold way to buzz the tourists before they move on to silver rum cocktails.

Darkness ensues.

It’s been difficult finding beer worth a damn (if you hadn’t figured that out already). There are a small number of bars that have a solid tap list, yet the most interesting beers are the ones you don’t waste your money on since they didn’t make it here intact. My quest for a good beer won’t end anytime soon, but I have found the white flag and I’m ironing it so when it is time to give up at least it’ll be nice and crisp (unlike any of the beers I’ve had so far … zing!)

De Ranke XX Bitter-2

So what am I to do? Well, right now I’m writing a blog about my sadness. Other than that, I am drinking plenty of rum and whiskey. I like rum and whiskey. But I love beer. Le sigh.

Lets get to the point of this blog, which is actually supposed to be a happy post. Because I did find a good beer that hadn’t been beaten and bloodied beyond recognition.

De Ranke XX Bitter-1
The beer gods are testing me.

De Ranke XX Bitter (now the blog title makes sense, yeh?) is a sip of fresh beer. It’s floral and bright citrus, it’s layered with healthy coriander, pepper, and a little heat and it’s steadied by some solid biscuit malt is like warm sunshine on my shoulders. It hasn’t been turned into a sweet cardboard mess.

De Ranke XX Bitter-3
Seriously, sunshine on my beery shoulders.

The only downer is I bought one bottle when I should have bought them out.


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.

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. 


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.

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!

Just livin’ the dream

Yes, ladies and gentlefolk, I am still around and still planning a triumphant return to the beer blog world.  I’ve been busy finding a place to call home, visiting friends and family, getting used to the Philadelphia area, and drinking local.  I’ve got some posts and blog additions in mind that will be added just as soon as I finally move into a permanent home, which is rapidly approaching.  I’m excited for my life to finally calm down enough that I can explore the Philly beer world.  My lady gave me a couple books for my recent birth celebration- Lew Bryson’s Pennsylvania Breweries, and Joe Sixpack’s Philly Beer Guide by Don Russell, both look very interesting.  Anyhow, keep checking back, newness is coming!



I’ve been trying to drink as many Philly brewed beers as I could get my hands on lately so when I saw the Yards Brewing Co. Variety case I quickly snatched one up. The four different beers that were inside were all pretty solid; Brawler, ESA, Pale Ale, and IPA. But the winner has got to be that IPA. It’s a very relaxed ipa but it’s highly refreshing, too. Plenty of floral and fruity hop tones through this one with a medium bitterness on the end. While it won’t stand up next to a west coast ipa, it’s a great porch drinking beer in the warm evenings that are a coming.

Design changes

I’ve always found my blog theme to be clean, clear, and quite boring.  I liked it, but I’m a sucker for colors, and the all-white theme I had been using finally got to be too much for me.  You’ll probably see a few different themes in the next few days as I search to find one I really like and want to look at each day.  I hope you enjoy the new look- whenever I finally find it.

Hello, Spring

photo-3I’m happy to say that my first pint on the porch of this Spring was just finished.  While it wasn’t anything interesting or Japanese it was just nice to enjoy the feel of the sun on my face and cool beer in my glass.  It may be my favorite thing to do in the world.  Pure and utter relaxation.  I need to bring home some weizens or pale ales as those taste great in this weather.  (Sorry for the photo quality, I took it with my Macbook)


And now I’m off again.  Another trip to the high seas means no drinking for this guy.   I’m already dreaming of that first pint back.  Whatever it ends up being I’m sure it will taste like gold.