#SippyTimeBeer Review – @RockBottomRVA

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I went to Richmond VA to visit my older brother and his family. He’s lived down there for as long as I’ve lived in Columbus. This was the first visit I’ve gotten a chance to actually visit some of Richmond instead of hitting a party for <insert occasion here> and leaving. Because of the #SippyTimeBeer articles, they of course took me to a couple of breweries in town. The first one we went to was Rock Bottom Brewery, which is a chain much like Gordon Biersch. We thought the name was familiar and it was because there is one in Colorado Springs. They also had a fantastic deal of a flight of six beers for $6. You can’t beat that with a stick. They were also very generous and mixed up my brother’s flight with mine so they gave us an additional beer to taste. Here are the reviews.

Rock Bottom BreweryWhite Ale – When I have the information to do a tasting from lowest IBU to highest IBU like North High Brewing suggested, I do it. Rock Bottom did provide this information so I started with the White Ale which comes in at 11 IBU. Like a lot of white ales, we get orange peel and coriander to spice up the drink. They both came into harmony with the Belgian yeast since this is a Belgian style beer. It packs average punch at 5.3% ABV.  They actually gave you a rating card with the flight. I listed this beer as their best.

Rock Bottom BreweryKolsch – This beer was next up on the IBU list at 20. I had this style from Saint Arnold on my New Orleans trip and really liked it. This one was not as good as that one. It didn’t seem to have punch either way. I didn’t taste a light wheat in it or a nice bitter hop note. It tasted a bit like a pilsner, which I’ve come to figure out I don’t like. Like a pilsner, it comes in at a modest 5.0% ABV. This beer went to, ahem, rock bottom of my list.

Rock Bottom BrewerySweet Magnolia Nut Brown Ale – My normal procedure is to use the brewery name to hyperlink to the specific beer in question, if possible. That is not possible in now because each Rock Bottom location has a brew master who gets to create their own unique flavors. I think that’s a cool way to make the chain stand out. This beer was one of the Brew Master Becky’s creations. It fell into the IBU spectrum at 24 so it was next on my list. My dad took a sip before I did an approved. That was the second time in my life I saw him drink beer. I ended up approving of it too. It had a good nuttiness to it and was smooth. It stayed in the same area as the other beers with an ABV of 5.7%. I should have take a picture of my rankings to jog my memory on exact rankings aside from the top & bottom. Very good beer.

Rock Bottom BreweryN2 Cafe con Leche Stout – This beer rotates so the link isn’t entirely accurate. Stout beers don’t tend to very hoppy so the IBU comes in at a mild 27. It does have bitter notes that come from a very heavy coffee taste. It had a great thickness, darkness and head to it. This stout didn’t have any other prominent notes in it though. I thought the N2 might mean nitro but I’m not sure. Those beers tend to be more smooth than this one. There was no sweetness from milk. It was a good beer but not outstanding.

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#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 – @Gordon_Biersch, @MoerleinBeers & @Weyerbacher

G Biersch Festbier

Since we’re finally out of October, it’s time to review the Oktoberfest and pumpkin beers. I feel like I had more than Oktoberfest beers but this is the entire list. Mind you, I have plenty of beers drank on my Instagram (@difrango11) but these four are the only ones that are on my list. I’m bummed that I didn’t snag more pumpkin beers because I do love pumpkin.

Gordon BierschFestbier – Because my lady & I have half season tickets to the Columbus Bluejackets, we go out to eat before most games because the beer and food inside are expensive and terrible. For the season opener, we decided to stop in at Gordon Biersch to satisfy our thirst and hunger. I take advantage of their seasonal beers when I go there and this visit was no different. I had their Festbier which is lighter than your normal Marzen beer associated with Oktoberfest. It is malty like those beers but doesn’t have the red hue. There is just enough hops in it to make it have a little bitterness. They only serve it from August to October so you can’t get it now. I feel like I recommend a lot of beers but this one was just okay. I say go with the real traditional Oktoberfest when you hit Gordon Biersch and grab a Marzen, which they have on tap year round.

Great Lakes Brewing CompanyNosferatu – This beer certainly has the best name of the lot. It also has a different flavor profile than most beers around this time of the year. It is an Imperial Red Ale so it keeps the red hue that most Marzen beers have but it has much more hops in it than those same beers. The hops aren’t as potent as that in an IPA but it’s still there. This beer is easier to find than the other ones since Great Lakes is getting to be a medium sized brewery so take a peek here and find out if it’s in your area.

I had an interesting conversation this past week with Geoff Towne, the brew master Zauber Brewing here in Columbus, who worked for Great Lakes. While trying about their Portergeist, we were talked about how porters and stouts aren’t as popular as most other types of beer. I would have gotten a growler of Portergeist but it was for a Halloween party that my lady and I threw so I shied away from it. He told me that his favorite beer of theirs was the Edmund Fitzgerald which is a porter. I mentioned that my favorite beer was Eliot Ness, which has won 9 Gold Medals at the World Beer Championships, and his response was that he felt it was too malty for a Vienna style beer. Towne also told me that he had to do so much tasting, that he was tired of drinking them.

Christian MoerleinFifth & Vine Oktoberfest – I learned of this company when I went to Bockfest back in March, which is when they start lagering the Marzen or Oktoberfest beers. Though they are based in Cincinnati, they have just started to distribute their beers here in Columbus. When I saw this at my favorite store, I had to give it a try. It was worth the purchase. It has a nice coppery tone which is perfect for this style of beer. This beer also had a solid malt taste to it with just enough sweetness at the end of your sip. When this time rolls around next year, keep your eyes peeled for it.

Weyerbacher Pumpkin Ale

WeyerbacherImperial Pumpkin Ale – This beer won a Bronze Medal at the Great American Beer Festival in the “Field Beer” category. I can certainly understand why it won. It is heavy on the common spices that come along with pumpkin, namely cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom and cloves. The pumpkin flavor comes through even with the spicing. Considering it’s the only pumpkin beer I had this year, it was a wise choice especially since it’s an 8.0% beer. This beer from Easton, PA made it from the east side of the neighboring state so you may be able to find it in your neck of the woods. Unfortunately they don’t provide a distribution map but the good news is that it is distributed through the end of November so go out and look for this one.

Time to gear up for the Christmas beer season. Remember to enjoy your #SippyTimeBeer responsibly. – Kevin

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