#SippyTimeBeer Review – @BellsBrewery, @BreweryOmmegang, @Gordon_Biersch and @Weyerbacher

Bells Amber AleBell’s Brewery, Inc.Amber Ale – From time to time, I stop exploring the new world of IPAs and head back to my traditional drink of choice, ambers. Bell’s is is from Kalamazoo, MI and is quite well received around these parts. I liked the maltiness that was brought to the table by this beer but the sticking point to me the was bitter after taste that you got. It drank smoothly except for that end part. It is a little bit darker than most ambers but I’m not sure what that is from exactly. The beer clocks in at a low 5.8% ABV so it won’t knock your socks off if you want a relaxation beverage. If they have this one in your area, go for it but it’s good, not great.

Gordon Biersch Winter BockGordon Biersch Brewing CompanyWinter Bock – It’s quite handy to be able to stop in at Gordon Biersch before and after Blue Jackets games. It’s not always a common stop but they do serve good food and have a nice set of taps for beer lovers. They always have a seasonal beer and it happens to be winter so we get a Winter Bock. I do love monks because they had a love for beer. This bock is inspired by them. I had no idea though that monks liked toffee in very large quantities. It made the beverage too sweet by a small margin for me. The beer was appropriately dark for the style, had nice head and drank smoothly. This beer has an ABV of 7.5% so there’s a reason the adjective merry was followed by the word monk a lot. It also has an IBU of 26 so this isn’t making a dent in the bitter department. Not even like the after taste in the Amber Ale from Bell’s. Ohio is as far north as Biersch has made it, so if you’re in the south check out these available locations.

Ommegang Amber AleBrewery OmmegangRare Vos – The Knickerbocker Tavern in Altoona, PA has a fabulous selection of beers. It has been that way for quite a while so I go there frequently with the small contingent of friends I talk to back in the home town. I always try to get something that I can’t here but that’s been harder to accomplish. On an upside, their stock is so good that I can still find other kinds of beer from companies that I have tried. Ommegang is one of those companies. It’s hard to resist any amber and this one was more intriguing than most because it is Belgian style, cafe ale. I didn’t taste the orange peel that they say is in there but I did have the coriander and grains of paradise tap dance across my tongue. The beer went quickly down my throat. The hue of the beer is a more traditional amber color. It has a 6.5% ABV and is even less bitter than the Winter Bock at 21 IBU. This fine company is out of Cooperstown, NY and can be found in these area. This beer is a must try.

Weyerbacher VerbotenWeyerbacherVerboten – This beer was the second one I had at the Knick. If you’re not familiar with German (I took it in high school and for a semester at Kent State) Verboten means forbidden. I’m glad I wasn’t forbidden from drinking it. It’s a Belgian style pale ale. I have liked pale ales long before venturing into India Pale Ales. Now I know that they use less hops and it comes off far less bitter. That is confirmed by this beer checking in at 30 IBU. They use three different styles of malt with one style of hops and of course the always present Belgian yeast. It all combines into a fantastic beer that I would suggest drinking like a fool, which is the Belgian translation for Verboten. At 5.9% ABV, you won’t get tanked quickly on it. This company out of Easton, PA distributes to these 19 states so if you’re a lucky person, go and grab it.

My younger brother Brian gave me this map from Deadspin the other week and I forgot to link to it. It maps out the 2,500 breweries that are currently in the US. That’s a lot of different #SippyTimeBeers to try. Go and enjoy one from your area. – Kevin

#SippyTimeBeer Review – @DarkHorseBrewCo, @HofbraeuhausMUC, @ImperialCerveza and @PennBrewery

Dark Horse Amber Ale

Dark Horse Brewing CompanyAmber Ale – This beer is not one that I expected. I had never heard of this company. The restaurant that the lady and I went to isn’t exactly known as a haven for the beer drinker either. I always have high hopes when I suck down some malty goodness. This time around, I was not disappointed. In fact I was quite happy with it. Dark Horse says that what sets this amber apart from others isn’t the malt or small dose of hops but the yeast strain that they use. It’s similar to a Belgain strain of yeast. They also say that there’s clove & some fruit to accent the beer but I didn’t pick up on those hints. If that’s what they say, I agree because it is one of the best ambers I’ve had this year. Their beers are available in 11 states so you’ve got a one in five chance of being in a state that sells it. So go out and find it if you live in one of these lucky states.

HofbrauhausHefeweizen – Back when I was at Kent State, I had the good fortune to go over to Italy to study for a semester. During that time, I had the chance to go to Munich and go to thee Hofbrauhaus. It is one of the original beer halls of Munich and was established in 1589. I went up there with my friend Michelle. While touring the Dachau Concentration Camp, we ran into some of my friends from James Madison. We decided to meet up later that night at the Hofbrauhaus to enjoy some bier. It was the first time I’d tried this beer but I don’t have much of a memory of it. When I recently tried it at Wurst Und Bier, I got a nice reminder. It had the hazy yellow color and the freshness that hefeweizens do but it lacks the banana and clove punch that others do. It makes it a smoother beer and closer to a traditional pilsner. It’s always worth trying this one because if it’s longevity and good taste.

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#SippyTimeBeer Review – #Cbus Microbrew Festival

Cbus Microbrew Festival '13

I got to taste a lot of local beer when I went down to the Columbus Microbrew Festival. I had a chance to taste some of my favorites but as usual, I decided to try beers that I didn’t have. Zauber Brewing is still working on a larger facility. Four Strings had a couple of offerings there and I passed on them along with Barley’s, Barley’s Smokehouse & Pub, Columbus, Elevator, Gordon Biersch, Great Lakes, Ohio & Thirsty Dog because I have had and reviewed a number of all of their products. I’ll list in alphabetical order what I did have since I’m not completely sure of the order I drank them in. They were supposed to serve 4 ounce portions but almost everyone was very generous with their pours so I got a good idea of how they all taste.

Buckeye Lake BreweryOctoberfest – It’s that time of year, Oktoberfest & Pumpkin beers are everywhere. I’ll get around to a whole column on pumpkin beers later. This brewery just east of Columbus in, you guessed it, Buckeye Lake has gotten good reviews from my friends in the area. It was finally time to try some for myself though. I’m not sure if it was fair to try a seasonal beer though. If it is indeed seasonal since they don’t even have a beer list on their website. The beer had the red hue that most “Marzen” (March in German because of when they brewed them) beers have. This one has a nice balance of hops and malt to make it taste really good. Thumbs up for my first taste of Buckeye Lake.

Great Black Swamp BrewingWetlands Wheat – This company is based in Toledo, OH so it’s not the most local beer there but it was a new one to me. No one wants to go to Toledo so I’m glad they came to us. I love wheat beers so it was an easy first choice from the company and it delivered. Nice and crisp on a night that was reminiscent of Fall than the Summer.

Great Black Swamp BrewingBull Frog Stout – Because there weren’t any cider beers on tap, my girl friend ended up giving me her tickets. Since they had a hard closing time of 10 PM on Friday, we had to venture back Saturday afternoon to finish using the tickets. You don’t need to twist my arm. Since I had a second crack at this brewery, I went with their Bull Frog Stout which was quite good. Double thumbs up from this company.

Homestead Beer CompanyPine Table Pale Ale – This beer is from Licking County which, like Buckeye Lake, is just east of Cbus. Unfortunately, my memory of this beer is hazy at best. I didn’t take notes and I didn’t Instagram each beer, just their label. No, it wasn’t from drinking too much, this time. It just means I’ll have to try it again.

Homestead Beer CompanyBoat India Pale Ale – On Saturday, I couldn’t remember how many choices Homestead had. When I got to their station, I was talked into trying this beer. “It’s the right balance of hops & malt” said the worker who must have been part of the brewery because he was dead on.I could get into more IPAs if they were like this one.

Hoof Hearted BrewingVoltan – Russian Imperial Stout – Aside from the over played but somewhat amusing name, they do have a goofy centaur as a mascot so these guys know how to market. Of course, it helps when you have a fantastic beer. One of the best beers of the weekend.

Jackie O’s BreweryMatriarch Tri-Pa – I have reviewed two of their beers with another one on my “To Get To” list. I hadn’t seen their Tri-Pa probably because it contains six different kinds of hops and a total of five pounds of it per barrel. It’s no wonder this beer cost me not the normal one ticket for four ounces but three tickets. Another reason the cost was so high was because of it’s 11% alcohol content. If you want to get drunk in style and quickly, have this beer if you can get a hold of it.

Lagerheads BreweryWhite Water Witte – When we arrived Saturday, I grabbed this beer first because the vendors let us in without getting our 21 and over wrist bands. No one cared that we didn’t have them on. Yep, starting to get old. Any way, since it was good and sunny, mid 0s I went with a Belgian wheat beer. Perfect plan to soak up some of the last rays of summer. Come Fall and Winter, that whole sun thing is going to be scarce around these parts. Glad I could enjoy a smooth crisp and citrusy beer. They are located up in the Abbeyville OH which is just south of Cleveland.

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