Wednesday, June 28, 2006 

Jolly Pumpkin Ales

I've been reading some reviews of the Jolly Pumpkin Ales of Michigan for years now. I appreciate their old world Belgium brewing methods: open fermenting, oak aging and bottle conditioning. Sadly, I've been unable to try these beers - no distribution in California, that is - until recently.

The missus asked me to pick up a bottle of wine to accompany her fine duck confit. After a more local shop was closed, I headed to RedCarpet Wines in Glendale. The staff are very friendly and knowledgeable; pointing me in the right direction for a quality California pinot noir. The beer section is great, too - there's a place I know my way around. It's the only thing I'm good at, you may say.

Calabaza Blanca White Ale

88 / 100

Many American brewers fall so very short when it comes to the subtle simplicity of a Belgian white ale. So I was ready to be underwhelmed. WRONG!!!

This had a lovely golden straw color with a slight head. Carbonation bubbles erupted within. The aroma was subtle but inviting: lemon, orange zest, coriander and a nice tart, sour aroma. The flavor was much the same. I was pleasantly surprised by the tart kick. It was light and refreshing with the sour afterbite. The low 4.8% ABV makes this easy to sip on all summer long. Wish I had more.

This is easily the finest American white I've come upon.

Bam Bière Farmhouse Ale

79 / 100

Another phenomenal Belgian beer, so often mistreated by Americans is the saison. After finding such deliciousness in the Calabaza, I was sure this would be a treat too.

The beer pours a cloudy orange with a minimal head, lots of bubbles dancing around in the glass. It has an interesting aroma of apple, citrus and a good heaping of yeast. The taste was nice: lemon and apple, a nice floral touch with the open-fermentation tartness and overall very refreshing for a warm summer day.

Thursday, June 22, 2006 

Victory Brewing Company Prima Pils

90 / 100

Most of the beers available in the world are lagers. All the garbage beers (read: Budweiser, Miller, etc.) are lagers. Some have dare define them as pilsners. Pilsners originated in Pilsen small city in the western Bohemia region of the Czech Republic. Pilsen is the home of Pilsner Urquell, one of the most imported European pilsners. Like the Czechs, the Germans are very proud pilsner makers. German pilsners tend to be a bit more hoppy than their Czech counterparts; providing the bitter bite in the finish.

Prima Pils is the best American example, I’ve had of a classic German pilsner. In fact, Prima Pils is probably the best pilsner I’ve ever had. The bottle pours a straw color into my glass. Nice carbonated streams of bubble percolate the glass reaching the ¼ inch froth head. The aroma provides the obvious hops: herbs and spices. Pale malts come through in the taste with the said hops. A lil grain flavor hides beneath. The taste is smooth and subtle; even though it far out-hops any European pilsner you’ll ever have.

It’s a remarkably delicious and easy drinking lager. One word of wise: if picking up a 6 pack of this delicious nectar, be sure to check the Born On Date. This is not a beer that tastes as good past it’s prime. I’ve walked that road, please don’t follow.

Friday, June 16, 2006 

Sequoia Brewing Company

Sequoia Brewing Company

777 E. Olive Ave.
Fresno, California, 93728

On business the other day in Fresno (why else would I be there ;-) ) I happened upon the libatious Sequoia Brewing Company. On Olive Street in the artistic Tower District (from what I was told), the brewpub has 6-8 of their own beers brew on the premises. The place itself is low-key. Sports are on the several screens and everyone seemed to know everyone. I can dig. After reading good things on Beer Advocate and being a hop loving freak, I stepped to the Mineral King IPA.

Mineral King IPA 80 /100

Slightly cloudy and golden in color, the IPA has a nice one finger head. Quite pleased with the hop aroma: very California – Cascade and Crystal hops breathe out a nice piney, floral bouquet. The flavor is all hops with a slight malt underkick. Well balanced and full off character with a light sweetness in the finish. A fine beer, if ever in Fresno it’s worth swinging by for this beer alone.