#SippyTimeBeer Review – A Round Table of Drunks Part 2

Everyone loves a good year end list. Here at Stunt Granny, we’re no different. It’s fun to yell at paper or a computer screen and tell the person who can’t hear you that they’re an idiot. I’ve rounded up quite a few of those idiots to give their opinion on beer. Since I have a tendency to be a beer omnivore, it’ll be good to have opinions from people who tend to stick to families of beers. The other upside to this list is that these people are from all over this fine country of ours so you don’t have to listen to me yammer about beers from Ohio or more specifically Columbus. Keep in mind that I asked these drunks to list their five favorite beers from this year, not their five favorite beers of all time. Could I put Eliot Ness on my list? Sure but that seems silly since most people that read this site know it’s an easy top five beer for me. Since part 1 was friends of the site, part 2 is the staff:

Jeremy – Greenville, SC & Charlotte, NC

ufopumpkinale

 Beer: UFO Pumpkin
Brewery: Harpoon
Location: Boston, MA
Style: Unfiltered Pumpkin Ale
ABV: 5.9%
Harpoon made a clear winner in the Fall/Oktoberfest seasonal market this year UFO was downright delicious. It was  smooth, sweet and not the least bit filling. It has just the right amount of spice and brown sugar hints to compliment the pumpkin.

Highland_Cold_Mountain

Beer: Cold Mountain
Brewery: Highland
Location: Asheville, NC
Style: Winter Ale
ABV: 5.2%
Cold Mountain isn’t new. In fact I have been drinking it for the last four years but it never gets old. Highland keeps the supply at a minimum which of course drives the demand up and in turn makes this a hard brew to find. It adds to the mystique of it I suppose. Highland Cold Mountain is probably the best beer I have ever had. It is smooth with no tart or bitterness. It has a nice tang of malt with the smoothness of a pilsner. It is just fantastic.

Stone Enjoy By 12-21-12 IPA SBeer: Stone Enjoy By
Brewery: Stone Brewing
Location: Escondido, CA
Style: Double IPA
ABV: 9.4%
I am an IPA person so it may be a small surprise that Double IPA’s are not my taste. Most taste too thick or syrupy. When I first ordered this at VBGB here in Charlotte I was unaware it was a Double IPA. It had everything an IPA has but the bitterness was minimal. It has a strong body that pours with nice head. What makes it different is the fact it is made with fresh hops. The entire beer is designed to expire as if it were milk or cream. After tasting it though there is no chance it could go bad based off its enticing taste.

Beer: OMB Copper
Brewery: Old Mecklenburg Brewery
Location: Charlotte, NC
Style: Amber Ale
ABV: 4.8%
OMB Copper is a nice, easy relaxing time beer. It goes with just about everything. Being a local brew it is easy to find around here so when in Charlotte it is worth tasting.  It is your basic amber ale but this actually has flavor. It is about time I found a nice basic beer that has a rich flavor.

Frog Level Catcher in the rye

Beer: Catcher in The Rye
Brewery: Frog Level Brewery
Location: Waynesville, NC
Style: Rye Ale
ABV: 5.3%

Catcher in The Rye was my choice as the top beer at this tears Charlotte Beerfest. It is a perfect Rye Ale but it has one problem; availability. In a town full of craft breweries and even more bars and restaurants carrying them this has been impossible to find. If you ever have a chance and rye ales are your bag you have to try this.

My Lady M – Columbus, OH (Cider Special)

Angry Orchard Crisp AppleBeer: Orchard Crisp Apple (#5)
Brewery: Angry Orchard Cider Company
Location: Cincinnati, OH
Style: Cider
ABV: 5.0%

Angry Orchard Crisp Apple was my #1 at the beginning of the summer when Kevin asked me to write a cider review. Unfortunately, the crisp, dry and tasty apple flavor didn’t hold the #1 spot as I started trying more and more ciders. If you’re looking for a dry but tasty apple drink I definitely suggest the Crisp Apple over the other Angry Orchards. This one has just enough of a bite that you actually feel like you’re eating a nice crisp apple on a warm summer day.

Origsin ElderberryBeer: Elderberry Cider (#4)
Brewery:  Original Sin
Location: York, NY
Style: Cider
ABV: 5.0%

When I first saw this cider on the beer menu at a restaurant, I thought, what does Elderberry taste like? Well, this beer became my #1 after trying it; beating out the Angry Orchard. As I had never heard of Original Sin before, I found that the orchard is based out of NY. The mixture of apples and elderberries make this a very tart yet refreshing drink which would be good to enjoy all year round and in case you didn’t know, per wikipedia, elderberries have been used medicinally over hundreds of years treating you for the common flu, alleviating allergies and boosting immunity. So, when you’re not feeling very well, grab an Original Sin Elderberry Cider, not only is it tasty, but could help you feel better too.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Beer:  McKenzie’s Black Cherry Hard Cider (#3)
Brewery:  Mayer Brother’s Fine Beverages
Location:  Buffalo, NY
Style:  Cider
ABV: N/A

I stumbled across this spectacular cider while we were out shopping one day. Not knowing what it tasted like, but sounding delicious, I grabbed a 6 pack bottle holder and grabbed a McKenzie’s Black Cherry Hard Cider, the outcome was delicious! You have the dark cider apple taste but infused with a deliciously sweet black cherry finish. It’s only #3 because it was in a tie with my number 2 spot. McKenzie is based out of New York and these New Yorkers know how to make a delicious cider!

Griffin Honey Oak CiderBeer:  Honey Oak Cider
Brewery:  Griffin Cider Works
Location:  Westlake, OH
Style:  Cider
ABV: 6.99%

I would have never tried this absolutely divine honey cider, but a trip to Hal & Al’s in Columbus is where the love of this cider came from. This cider is made with 4 local honeys and then oak aged. I drank 4 of these in one night as the taste is so delicious it was almost the #1 spot. If you love honey, you will love this Honey Oak Cider, and the best part is it’s local! Nothing like having a delicious cider and knowing it’s made from all local honey’s.

McKenzies Seasonal ReserveBeer: McKenzie’s Seasonal Reserve
Brewery:  Mayer Brother’s Fine Beverages
Location:  Buffalo, NY
Style: Cider
ABV: N/A

McKenzie’s Seasonal Reserve is my #1 beer for the year. When you pop that top, the sweet aroma of Christmas surrounds you. The warmth of the mulling spices along with the taste of cinnamon and nutmeg, you can just envision sitting by the fire and enjoying a fabulous evening with friends or family. This cider is so deliciously addicting, I probably wouldn’t know if I drank an entire 6 pack by myself in one evening. The taste is so sweet and so developed, there’s a reason it’s a seasonal reserve and only out for a limited time. My advice, run to the store and grab McKenzie’s Seasonal Reserve before the season ends.

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Jeremy’s Blog: 15th Annual Charlotte Oktoberfest 2013

This is usually Kevin’s bag so I stay away from posting anything beer related but after he assured me it was cool if more than one person talks about beer on this site I figure why not. (Kevin’s Edit: Everyone knows you drink more than me so why shouldn’t you post about beer? In other news, look forward to a year end round table which will include Jeremy and a variety of guest contributors.) This past weekend was the fifteenth annual Charlotte Oktoberfest which just so happens to be a craft beer festival as well. Seeing how I just moved to Charlotte it was a no-brainer decision to attend. Actually, I had the tickets well before I moved here but whatever.  The girl and I arrived for our special VIP entrance and we were off. Oh, VIP meant we got in an hour and half earlier than what we continually called, the commoners.

Commoners

Commoners

As we waked through security were handed our complimentary 5 ounce Fifteenth Annual Charlotte Oktoberfest shot glasses and were left to figure things out on our own. What we found was the equivalent of a Catholic Church festival minus the gambling, rides and children. It cannot be over stated how nice it was to walk around and not hear one infant or some brat whining and crying. No protective mothers using their kid filled strollers as battering rams. Just a calm and festive environment.

It would be dishonest to give full account of all the beers we, my girl attended as well, tried through the day. We were so excited by the idea of free beer we immediately went to the first brewery that we recognized and tossed back a few. Before it became a forgone conclusion I did make the conscious decision not to write any beers down unless they stood out. No matter how much we may have consumed, if the beer stood out it was going on the list. It just so happens that I only took note of five. The perfect list number. Hmm, go figure. So here they are for your perusal. Oh and if you are interested, the Charlotte Oktoberfest and Craft Beer Festival is back for a sixteenth year on September 27, 2014.

Green Flash Bullett

Green Flash Bullet

Green Flash Bullet from Green Flash Brewing was the first standout beer of the festival. It is a 10% Triple IPA. IPA is my usual choice of beer but I am not a fan of double IPA’s. They feel too much like a simple syrup and lack the crispness of your standard IPA. So it was with a great reluctance I tried it but seeing how this was the first Triple IPA I had heard of it had to be sampled. Boy was it a surprise. It had three distinct flavor changes with the final bite taking a few seconds to hit the taste buds. When it did it was impossible to miss. The brew was much crisper and cleaner than a double IPA and retained the smoothness and bitterness without going overboard like a true IPA. At 10% it is not a mass consumption beer but it warranted a few trips back to the tent.

After the Green Flash Bullet we grabbed a sausage or two and decided to try something other than our comfort ones. She gave up the stouts and browns and I went away from the IPA’s. Part of our plan to maintain ourselves and not overindulge was to try a brew or two on one side of the festival grounds and then crisscross our way around. This way in between different length of walking and waiting in lines we would naturally pace ourselves. Let it be known, that idea is bullshit. It doesn’t help.

Lagunitas Little Sumpin Wild

Lagunitas Little Sumpin Wild

Anyway, this brought us to one of my favorite breweries, LagunitasLagunitas has become the default IPA of choice whenever Terrapin Rye Ale is not available. So it as with great excitement that I noticed a new brew from them. It was a variation of their Lil Sumpin Sumpin Ale, this one was called Lagunitas Little Sumpin Wild. It is an 8.8% flavorfest with a smooth body. I was assured there is no fruit involve in the brew so it must have been the hops that provided a heavy aroma with a sweet aftertaste. It was a shock to find a better beer produced by Lagunitas that tasted better and was more enjoyable than their flagship brew. Little Sumpin Wild Ale is a limited release apparently so if you can find it snatch it up.

Weeping Willow Wit

Weeping Willow Wit

As per the process we waked back across the festival and we came across The Mother Earth Brewery booth. Mother Earth Brewery is not a company I am familiar with and cannot recall ever trying one of their beers. After we perused their selections I denied myself an IPA and went with my secondary beer of choice; a good wheat or wit beer. This turned out to be yet another good decision on my part. What I chose was the Weeping Willow Wit. It is a relatively low alcohol content beer, clocking in at a mere 5% was a late, definite refreshment. Wit beers are usually light and sweet and lack a proper body; this did not. It was a cloudy brew with a load of flavor and finished with a mystery flavor. I still have not figured out what it is and their website is no help. Even after dulling the taste buds with countless IPAs and a scorching hot spicy brat the flavor from The Weeping Willow Wit was plentiful.

Red Oak Helles. I think. I couldn't find an image.

Red Oak Hummin’Bird. I think. I couldn’t find an image.

The next beer on the list and the most surprising came from Red Oak Brewing just down 85 south here in North Carolina. Red Oak is a fairly popular beer and it has a presence at just about every pub or beer garden in the Charlotte area. So, we weren’t all that excited to stop by but once we saw they had three taps we investigated a little closer. It turns out they had their standard choices but one stood out. The Red Oak Hummin’Bird, as it was described to me by their rep, is the Red Oak version of a light lager. Apparently my enthusiasm showed as I was reassured it was not a Miller Light or Bud Light and to give it a shot. I was handed a half full shot glass and with an open mind enjoyed their “light” beer. There was no loss of flavor and it had a strong body while not being heavy at all. There was no sinister aftertaste as the flavor was even throughout. From lips to stomach this was a total surprise.

Frog Level Brewing Catcher In The Rye...fantastic.

Frog Level Brewing Catcher In The Rye…fantastic.

Hands down the best beer I consumed at the entire festival. So much so in fact that I now have in my possession their booth sign. Why? I don’t know. It seemed like a good idea at the time but after five straight power hours of beer sampling drinking an actual frog may have been negotiable. So taking a generic red and white sign with generic Frog Level Brewing, block #12 and Waynesvile, NC was the least damaging idea I had as the day wore on. Anyway, as for the beer itself Frog Level Catcher in the Rye was the best beer I had during the day and it may e in the top five beers I have ever tried.

If you couldn’t tell it is a The Catcher in the Rye is a Rye Ale but without the bitterness and strong bite of most Rye or Pale Ales.  It also only clocks in at a reasonable 5.3% alcohol content. Normally Rye Ales clock in a bit higher but even with the smaller alcohol content there is no loss of flavor or potency. I blame this brew, along with the Green Flash even though they were consumed hours apart, for pushing us over the edge. No one forced me to go back over and over but it was such a refreshing Rye Ale no that is not a mistake I did mean refreshing. It is perfect for nursing or consuming while binge drinking. This should be regarded as high praise no matter how terrible that sounds. This single beer also motivated me to finally throw down some hard earned money, well, the girls’ money, on my very first beer shirt. A nice yellow t-shirt with the company logo on the front and frog foot on the back. Pretty sweet I thought and it wasn’t black so that was also refreshing.

So hopefully some of these brews are available in your area. If not check out their web sites and see just where you can find it or order from them direct. You may not agree with what you read here but it will broaden your taste just a bit. At least that s the goal. The craft beer market is so large now it is impossible to sample them all but then there is still plenty of time to try. -Jeremy

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