Tagged: Seasonal Beers

Review: Wolaver’s Organic Brewing | Alta Gracia Coffee Porter

“That’s the funny thing—it’s the fact that she’s an art student that makes her attractive to me. If she were an artist, hell no.”
Natalie contrived to be agreeable.
“Well… Yeah, an art student is so idealistic, so full of life… and driven. An artist is jaded, cold, and struggling to get by.”
“I don’t know, I think she just fits my type. Then again, any girl whose favorite band is Belle & Sebastian is my type. “
“Well, have you thought of asking her to get coffee at some other establishment?”
I set my cup down on the café table, which wobbled uncontrollably. I eyed the blue-eyed, straight-banged, quirkful barista bouncing from left to right, behind the bar.

She tugged upon the portafilter
like she tugged upon my heartstrings

“Oh, no. No, I’m not like that, I think it’s more of a passive thing. God, I can’t imagine dating. Really, I don’t want to sound anti-social at all, but I can’t stand to think of spending that much time with one person. It’d drive me insane.”

This stupid crap up here.

These ridiculously decadent, yet pedestrian opinions, courtesy of yours truly (and no, I can’t believe they came out of my mouth, either), call to mind the rancidly twee sentiments of Wolaver’s Alta Gracia Coffee Porter. Wolaver’s Organic Brewing, based out of Middlebury, Vermont, is Otter Creek Brewing’s eco-conscious division. While organic craft beer should be twee enough, Wolaver’s goes a step further to include not only organic vanilla in this beer, but also single origin, organic, fair trade coffee beans in this limited, seasonal release. I mean, seriously, this beer deserves a place in Portlandia sketch.

God, I need a shower.

The snow is falling, and it’s the season for rich, dark beers. Indeed, this one is a very appropriate selection for this time of year. Nevertheless, if the beer you’re drinking takes longer than 10 syllables to order at the bar, then you must also accept the culpability of pretention that comes with it. These pretentiousnesses, these pendantic, posturing, maudlin, Napoleonic nonesuchessnesses come part and parcel with the pop of the cap.

You might as well spend the time talking about critical theory and white privilege while imbibing this concoction.

Next time you’re in the company of complete tightwads, why not crank up the NPR and open a few bottles of Alta Gracia? They’ll appreciate its deep black hue, and its subtle, ruby-red tinges when exposed to the light. They’ll swoon when they see its coffee-colored head. They’ll compare it to the likeness of a fine macchiato. They will also make keen remarks about its creamy, pleasant lacing on the glass. That one who looks a lot like a Wes Anderson character might declare how the khaki-colored head recedes quickly, leaving a thin, but decent collar. Passing the glass around, they may say it smells like a creamy, maple latte.


Personally, it reminds me something called a Five Dollar Shake, which—while tipping a hat to Mr. Quentin Tarentino— you can order at a local watering hole around here, in my hometown, called the Radio Bean. It’s a simple cocktail: some stout, a shot of espresso, and a squeeze of maple syrup on top. It’s straight-up perverted. You know, I get some cola nut in the aroma—

Yeah, that’s right,
cola nut.
Sue me.

You can also detect some rich coffee, a hint of blueberry and other dark fruits—plums… well, mostly plums, and some roasty notes.

Instantly, there’s cherry and coffee on the tongue. Then come the rich, sweet, roasted malts. I’m personally struck—struck, I tell you— by some pleasant caramel and toffee notes. It’s much more balanced than I remembered. As with the aroma, the taste of the porter has those nice berry qualities from the coffee beans. As the flavor begins to fade, I detect slight coconut and vanilla. It ends, finally, with a lingering quasi-nectarine flavor on the back end. There’s definitely a nice stone fruit flavor there. I noticed there’s more chocolate on the nose than actually in the taste, but it does develop a little bit as the flavor subsides (paired with that strangely complimentary nectarine flavor). It’s smooth, sticky, and milky in the mouth.

I’m sure that just sounds so fucking appealing.

It’s what folks may call a chewy beer. All being said, it is hard to drink more than two at a time. It’s a bit viscous. Otherwise, it’s pretty easy drinking.

Anyway, that’s it. I’m done with this crap

I’m gonna join
Single origin
Human sacrifices!

*8.5 out of 10*


Review: The Bruery | Saison de Lente

Photo cred: Simply Beer, simplybeer.com

Photo cred: Simply Beer, simplybeer.com

We discussed our confirmation names at the table of the pizzeria. We were two pints deep, a slice or two short.

Ah yes, we discussed the finer points of our Catholic pasts.

Nick spouted an anecdote about the bats the slept in the church through their baptism and communion, but fled the coup on confirmation day.

The families, with their children, embarrassed and distressed by our incessant swearing, followed suit.

In a moment, we were alone.

We were louder than we thought.

As I made it to my car, I was surprised I had not said something more embarrassing across the broad duration. By grace, my words carried like a bloated dirigible through the clouds, weighty and blunt, yet obscured by the din, the atmosphere.

I turned the key,

I tensed and then released,

I arose for the nightly homily that dripped through the speakers:

Have I not been crude
Or do I sound insincere
I’m just trying to make some sense of this
Before I lose another year
Its all that I can do

The Gospel According to Martin Courtney was written across my hands as I made my way home; hand over hand, like a patient shepherd.

The snow, I found, has been melting faster than I realized.

I had a shit. I felt like sleeping.

The ale was poured.

I felt it hit the glass.

I felt it hit my hand.


Fuck the police.

Saison de Lente is a Lenten farmhouse ale from the Californian beer wizards at The Bruery. It is lightly hopped and fermented with the yeast strain, brettanomyces, which imparts a distinctly more tart and musky aroma and flavor historically once indicative of beer spoilage. Consider purposely-ripped designer jeans or “avant-garde” musical genres.

…Now do you get it?

Sounds shitty, I know, but you’d be surprised.


It erupted like a tantrum. Like a prepubescent girl, it was screaming. In the glass, it was ferocious. The head was white as a pearl. It laced the cup, sparsely, like breadcrumbs in a Grimm fairytale.

I was lost.

I was a disingenuous school board meeting filled with anal-retentive nitwits raging against the town government and powered by middle-class sentiment, whole-grain Honey Smacks, and KY jelly.

…I think.


I gingerly took a whiff.

I was elated.

Golden to brass, it was stunning.

I could see right through it. It was beautiful.

It was genuine.

It was beer.

It stank like a fine sourdough.  It was a perfect, beautiful Italian sourdough round, and I could smell the toasted crust of it. Subtle, herbal hops tickled my nose. A gentle mineral character followed.


A wild



character came through,  with almost a lemongrass quality to it—

As it crossed my lips, did I do penance!

The mild banana quality of a saison emerged with a pleasantly light flavor, and accentuated itself on the backend. It immediately changed its tune towards the middle of the mouth.  Brettanomyces invaded as if were Saracens —salty, bready flavors with the notable pineapple funk—a quiet funk, though. Now there’s a very dry finish, skipper!

Subdued flavors, overall.




As Spring approaches, urges emerge for change, for evolution. Old things are wont become new. This beer is a tribute to that sentiment. This beer is both evocative and provocative. It provides empathy for desire for change with the smoothness of its flavor, and carbonated vivacity to inspire. Whether you’re religious or not, this is a season for recollection and reconsideration of one’s place in life. It’s a time of the year to set lofty goals. Some people really want to get out there and set the fucking world on fire.

I want to get pissed drunk with the Pope.

*9.0 out of 10*

Review: Le Trou du Diable | La Grivoise de Noël


Foto Kred: craftbeercellar.com

Foto Kred: craftbeercellar.com

                Ah, January Thaw, what a cruel temptress thou art. The temperatures dip and dive and skyrocket like a rollercoaster—or a junkie. I’ve been busy making observations on the state of the world every day on the drive home from work. For once, I catch a break from the people who bitch about the cold (as if winter was known for vitamin D and rhododendrons!). I go to the gym, work the legs, the chest, the arms, the legs, the chest, the arms. I get home. I walk inside and make some disgustingly obscene noises to the cat.  Jazz blasts forth from the speakers and I shout some more slurs with cathartic glee. I start to dance. I lose my shirt, my shorts, and pay homage both to Tom Cruise in Risky Business and to my preschool years.

Meat and potatoes, meat and potatoes.

It really is that time of the year.

Isn’t it?

I am surrounded by the sweet sounds of shattering resolutions—stillbirths (or abortions, really), hearty foods, and strong drink.

Winter is here, I finally admit to myself a month late. I collapse upon the kitchen table in my skivvies, seeking out the bottle opener, only to find it poking into my side as I sift through the bills waiting to be paid, newspapers now collecting dust as demoted ephemera.  My weapon in hand, I approach the fridge and pull out my conquest.

                To my delight, I was able to find a bottle of one of Le Trou du Diable’s many fantastic beers. Being a teeny-tiny little brewery in Shawinigan, Quebec, it’s rare to find stateside often. That being said, if you have a chance, pick up an offering when the opportunity presents itself.


                La Grivoise de Noel loosely translates to “ribald Christmas.” In nothing but underpants, I found this masturbatory salute to be indulgently appropriate for the occasion. And how appropriate the beer! Like the Thaw, this beer is a tribute to pure deceit from its overtly invigorating nature—not something typically expected from a winter beer—to its alcohol by volume. Approaching 8% ABV, you do not get the alcohol at all.

                You start to become a little suspicious shortly after the pour. It’s a bright garnet color in the glass with an off-white head and some very strong, very attractive carbonation.

God bless America.

                There’s a strange coppery stench to the beer, or perhaps iron. It quickly fades as it comes to room temperature and what you’re left with is really no real hops to speak of, toasted malt, nutmeg, orange blossom, and banana. There, that’s the ticket. That’s all you really need to know right away. It is definitely a Belgian.

Then comes the brown sugar taste— well, maybe burnt sugar with plum and overripe banana finishing off. Maybe there’s some spice there. I think this may be some gross confabulation, but I kind of get some cardamom and clove in there. Of course, the nutmeg pushes through in the end.

There’s a satisfying stickiness to the beer.  It establishes a fine middle ground between thick and thin on the tongue. A delightful carbonation prickles the tongue just slightly.


*8.0 out of 10.*

Review: Sierra Nevada Brewing Company | Celebration, 2013 Edition

Photo cred: The Full Pint, thefullpint.com

Photo cred: The Full Pint, thefullpint.com

      Laziness is something that comes in myriad forms. Some blame fear, others stubborn complacency for their vices. Rob Ford blames some vices for other vices. Laziness for him served as reminder that sometimes, lying can help save a career.

            Therefore, I will just go ahead and lie that I’ve been too busy to sit down, drink a beer, and write about it.

            Autumn is here. It’s a brilliant season, really. Growing up New England has helped to make it a very nostalgic one. Apple picking, leaf peeping, filming suspect activities tired, bloody, and shirtless in the woods while screaming with reckless abandon, and trick-or-treating just make me sigh with childlike naiveté. With stars in my eyes, tears streaming down my face, bowels constipated with joy, I was so ready to write a bunch of quality, enthusiastic reviews about all the lovely pumpkin beers that came out this year, but ended up winding up fruitless. Why?

            Well, I had a few, was underwhelmed, and decided I was too damn lazy to tell anyone about it. 2013’s pumpkin beers are nothing you hit and go run tell your homies about. Sorry. Pumking and Punkin’ were great, but there was ton of other shit—beer too average to praise and too good to ridicule—that just simply was better off leaving as an afterthought.

            Here, however, comes my redemption—holiday beers. Thank God Almighty; we have November and December at last! Whatever you choose to celebrate—Christmas, some mutant Thanksgiving-Chanukah hybrid, Kwanzaa, Festivus, Wednesday— there is a beer out there that yearns for your wet mouth. By God, there is an embarrassment.

            The first beer of this holiday series is anything but an embarrassment. This beer is Sierra Nevada’s 2013 Celebration Ale.







There we go, end of review. Just go away and let me lust after this marvelous offering and make pitiful supplications to Ken Grossman. Just go, please, I beg of you.  If you have any common decency, you’ll let me sit here, naked and ashamed (not really), sobbing uncontrollably (I swear I am not), writhing in my inadequacy (actually, I’m sitting rather comfortably in bed…), nearly incontinent (hey, easy), and let me drink my beer in private. Oh, you won’t (all two of you out there)? Ok, well, I’ll tell you how much of a godsend this beer is.

            In TECHNICOLOR!

            Well, not Technicolor, but in writing—I’ll tell you in writing.

            First, Sierra Nevada goes out of its way to call the beer a “fresh hop ale.” Now, what is that? Is it a dry-hopped IPA? It’s a wet-hopped IPA? Does it have a recording contract with Interscope Records? No. According to their very own website, Sierra Nevada marks the delineation:


“Wet Hops are un-dried hops, picked and shipped from the growing fields within 24 hours. Fresh Hops are the freshest dried hops to come from the fields, typically within seven days of harvest.”


There you have it, straight from the brewers’ mouth. Anyway, straight from my nose, here’s the review. The citrus and pine notes on the nose are ridiculously splendid. There are even slight (very, very slight) mint notes. I’m not sure where they are coming from. I’m guessing they’re just a happy mistake. Up front, you get bright, juicy, blood orange and sugar-laden grapefruit on the tongue. At that very moment there is chocolate as well? No, “you’re a hack,” you may say, but I say, “Nay,” I ain’t no hack, you ninny—there are indeed chocolate notes on this beer, especially middle and back of the tongue, like baker’s chocolate. It’s a masterful combination of hop and malt just bursting on the palate. Drinking this beer is like really good sex; it’s pure ecstasy, pomp, and circumstance until it’s over. Then’s it’s followed by moral quandaries, questions of adequacy, your role in the human race, purpose, et cetera… well, it’s all the really nice, pre-coital parts.




            Sierra Nevada’s Celebration Ale is like taking a stroll down the snow-covered cobble-stoned boulevard with that special someone, hand-in-hand, staring up and the globular, blinking lights dotting the trees. You just got a promotion, and you switched your cable package to the one that includes HBO and Showtime and Cinemax. You got a cool head on your shoulders. You bought a new jacket from the Banana Republic and you’re looking good. You smell good, even. You switched to that botanical shit. You know, the one that rich people buy. Trader Joe’s? Fuck no—Wegmans. Go to Hell.

            Did I mention the aftertaste? It’s like fucking strawberries. It’s brilliant. It’s a stupendous beer. It’s super well-rounded in the 60s IBU range. Cascade, Centennial, and Chinook populate the hop bill on this one, and you certainly get that, especially as the beer warms up. The elegant floral nature of the Centennial  comes forth triumphantly.

            And the mouthfeel? Come on; it’s velvet, baby.


            Just buy the fucking beer.



 *9.7 out of 10*

Run tell dat, homeboy.