Wednesday, November 30, 2005

beer review #3: two strong porters

From Arcadia Brewing Company in Battle Creek, Michigan: London Porter (7.2%abv)

I like Arcadia. They brew on a Peter Austin unit which is cool. I wrote a piece about them for Check it out here, and to learn what a Peter Austin system is.

The London Porter is cool. It's brewed with smoked malt, not peated malt, but the equivalent of German Rauchmalt, beechwood smoked malt. And at 7.2%, not a small beer.

You can almost see through this beer. Held up to the light you can definately just barely see through its deep mahogany redness. Minimal carbonation and a nice beige/brownish head that is small but persistant.

Get mostly rich caramel notes in the nose mixed with warm, smokey undertones. Also just a hint of alcohol.

I swear to god I get red delicious apples when I drink this beer. It's really nice. You smell the smoke a bit just before you swallow then I get red apples. Not tart or too sweet, just the flavor is there. Also get some nice caramel flavors, but not too much. No roasty and minimal chocolate notes. I think this is cool actually as it's more to style for a traditional London Porter as they used to be made with all 'brown malt', no chocolate or roasted. Finished with a nice English-citrusy hop flavor and minimal to medium bitterness. Smoke is fairly minimal on the palate, but seems to add to the richness. Low to medium final gravity for such a big beer. Really quite drinkable.

From Flying Dog Brewery in Denver, Colorado: Gonzo Imperial Porter (9.5%abv)

Flying Dog makes a good to very good line of 'everyday beers'. Their brewmaster knows his shit, that's for sure, and he makes those smaller beers very tasty and very consistently, which is much harder than making a good big beer. Read an article I wrote about him for here. But not usually as exciting to drink. Who doesn't get a kick from sampling 9.5% porter? Anyway, luckily Flying Dog is now making some bigger, more adventurous beers including this homage to Hunter S. Thompson who was a cofounder of the brewery actually.

This brew is black black black black black. The head is a deep chocolate brown color and nicely persistant with a touch of lacing here and there.

It has a big nose. You can smell it as soon as you're pouring into the glass. Mostly chocolate malts, maybe some roasted or black patent and some just barely there sweetish-raisin notes maybe with a touch of what I take to be fermentation character, something just a little spicey. Also some hop notes too for sure. Nothing really super citrusy or anything distinct, but they're there. The 9.5%abv is really well masked or maybe just not a lot of higher alcohols.

This beer has a long to speak. I don't know if that's the way to put it, but it seems like a lot of different flavors develop over the course of a single drink-act. In the beginning, Flying Dog made this porter fucking awesome. So rich. So big. So velvety smooth. Huge, complex malt character ranging from subdued chocolatey notes to mildly sweet, warm caramel. Definately a substantial hop character up from too that really melds nicely with the malts. Wow. Incredible front palate. Unfortunately, things don't finish as well as they started, but they don't finish badly. During the swallow, the hop flavor seems to stand out more, still good, but the aftertaste is quite bitter and the malts flatten out into a flakey, cardboard, acrid, burnt, roasted kind of thing. It's not that bad, just in comparison to the monumental smoothness, mellowness and utter fucking ectasy that is the beginning of this beer, the end disapoints me a bit.

Quite drinkable, but watch that 9.5%abv, you can't tell it's there until after you're done.

Also, big hops in the burps. I think this beer might be a bit too hoppy for a Baltic Porter.

my fantasy

I'm going to move to White Mountain Kettle in Mifflin County, PA. This is a picture of it from Google Earth, you can CLICK on it for a bigger version:

White Mountain Kettle is in the heart of the ridge and valley provine. It's also just over the ridge from possibly the most famous trout river in the Eastern US: Penn's Creek.

I will build a small cabin in White Mountain Kettle. I'll kill lots of dear and bear and salt cure the meat. I'll have to have lots of salt. I'll cut the meat up into 10-15lb hunks and place them in 55 gallon white oak barrels. I'll add about 12lbs of salt and 5lbs of very thick maple syrup (which I'll have collected and boiled down myself of course) to about 10 gallons of water. After about 10 days I'll rinse the hunks of meat and hang them in the smokehouse where a small pignut hickory wood fire will be kept burning until the meat's just brown enough.

I'll fish for big trout in Penn's Creek and smoke them too. In the small mountain streams of White Mountain Kettle I'll catch tiny wild Brook Trout, 4 inches long, smoke and eat 'em bones and all, 30 a sitting.

The corn harvest was good this year. 400 pounds of kernals all told. I traded a gallon of last year's batch (it was at least proof!) for 100lbs of malted barley corn. The still needs a little work as it was leaking during the last runs of this past November. And I'll need to rebuild one of the smaller white oak barrels and give it a new char as the wax patches irritate me. And I have the time. And maybe I'll pull a sample off the only 5 year old barrel I have left when I get the first of this years batch cookin'. Haven't touched it since January, might as well see if it's still good.

I'm weird, what can you do?

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

I'm maximal d-consistent AND omega complete!

I'm a good little gamma.

This is all logic speak for...I did better than expected on my logic exam. I got a mother fuckin' 90%. Quite shocking really as I thought I just barely passed it.

Now I just have to get a B on the final, finish my qualifying paper, that pesky term paper on the modern synthesis (damn you Provine!), give a presentation in naturalism, grade a bunch of homeworks and the student's presentations, give one more lecture tomorrow, write a final for them then grade it...and my semester will be over.

Ain't no thang.

Sunday, November 27, 2005


Not much to report about Thanksgiving. Seemed like a short little break, but nice. I had another interesting row partner on my flight from Philly to Cleveland. She wasn't an alcoholic didn't attempt to cuddle with me. But she was really fucking cool and really cute and goes to IU. She grew up on a vineyard in the Catskills and is a singer. We had great conversation (I thought) the whole flight about our parents and whether or not Newark was the biggest NYC airport (I'm positive it is, she doubted it) and some other things. She also claimed that they never gave peanuts on flights anymore and I vehemently denied that. Then when the person came around with drinks he gave us peanuts. I asked for two extra bags and gave them to her just so she could stock up on airline peanuts. Anyway, unfortunately she's 19. I felt like a creep asking her for her number.

Moving right along, I have had quite the array of beers over the last week or so:

I had some Straub DRAFT at the Westline Inn near Bradford PA last Friday night which was fucking awesome. Straub is ok, but on draft at the Westline Inn in the middle of fucking nowhere Pennsylvania it's pretty tasty.

I had a Sierra Neveda Celebration Ale with my brother last Saturday. He brought have a case up to my grandmothers. That was enjoyable.

Then on Monday night I had a Two Hearted on draft at Encore and then a bunch of SNPA at the Vid...nothing new there.

I was layed over at Cleveland because of snow on Tuesday but luckily I was able to enjoy a bottle of Great Lake's Locktender Lager while talking with Mike Pell on the phone for about 30 minutes. It's a tasty Munich Helles style brew and he's a completely insane 27 year old whom I grew up with and whom now lives in the North Country.

On Wednesday my dad and I went clothes shopping at the outlets in Lancaster which was cool and on the way back we stopped at Victory where I had an Imperial Pint of Hop Wallop, their double IPA. I didn't really like it very much. The bitterness is way too sharp and the malt and body way too light for me. More like a triple Pilsner. Also at 9% abv perhaps the imperial pint was too much?

I then returned to Victory later that night with Adam Z., Ben W., Leigh S. and Mark R. for a beer or two before we headed into West Chester for the busiest bar night of the year: Thanksgiving eve. I had an imperial pint of the Harvest Pils, used with really fresh (like a day old) hops from New York. It was ok. Didn't really blow my socks off. I bet it's much better when the beer is really fresh. I think this ber was brewed several months ago.

Then we went to Spence Cafe in West Chester where I had a DFH 60 minute and an Arrogant Bastard and several Yuengling bottles. I have to drink at least a couple Yuenglings when I'm home.

On Thursday I didn't drink any beer. I know, I know, but we went to my Mormon relative's house in Annapolis MD and obviously they don't drink so much.

But then on Friday the drinking started in Earnest at 1:00pm. My good friend Adam Ziegler called me up and said he was going to grab some lunch if I was interested and I said hell yeah dude. We went to Murray's Deli, a new West Chester pub/deli thing on Market Street. Really cool decor etc., but the food was ok (I had a curry chicken salad sandwich and Adam had a chicken salad sandwich too) and the service was really slow, but we did get to enjoy two glasses of Magic Hat's #9 on draft which was decent. Not a great beer but it's nice that Magic Hat is available in West Chester. We then made our way to the Iron Hill brewpub where I was pleasantly surprised by their cask Strong Ale. Really nice beer.

We proceeded to Benwah's and with a mixed case of Victory bottles: Hop Wallop, Festbier, Storm King Imperial Stout and Hop Devil. That was nice. Then we went bowling and I drank a bunch more Yuengling Lager.

I brought back a 750ml bottle of Victory's Saison, a bottle of their Storm King and a precious bottle of Troeg's (Harrisburg PA) Mad Elf Christmas ale. An 11%abv Belgian dark ale brewed with Cherries. I'm going to review those here sometime soon.

All in all I'd say it was a good week for beer.

Monday, November 21, 2005

holy shitcrap Batman, things are gettin' serious 'round here

Well, I got back from my Grandfather's funeral last night at about 10pm. The flight was interesting what with the alcoholic-prostitute holding my arm and laying her head on my shoulder the whole flight from Pittsburgh to Chicago. She got her foundation all over my shirt sleeve. And the saddest part about it was I actually kind of liked her affection. That's absolutely pitiful. She was really quite snuggly and she was pretty cute except for the 17 layers of makeup and the completely foul Chris-Colgan-I've-been-an-alcoholic-all-my-fucking-life breath.

Then I walked about 4 miles (literally) around O'Hare because people are fucking idiots and they switched my departure gate two times on me...after I had walked mile or so between the two gates. O'hare is a fucking zoo. I hate that airport. Avoid it at all costs.

Indy, on the other hand, was smooth sailing as usual. No lines. The completely empty parking shuttle pulled up just as I stepped out of the airport. Easiest city to get around in. Ever.

So I got back last night and instead of going to a party to attempt to finish a keg that was left over from a party Saturday night that I missed, I stayed home and studied for the logic exam this morning...which I just got back from and let me tell you, I don't think it went so well. Oh well. I think if I don't get a B in that class (which is required) I'm going to drop out. It's just not worth it to take that class again, but more importantly, if I can't pass logic on my first shot, what business do I have being a professional philosopher? Notwithstanding the fact that I really don't work very hard at the logic class, or as hard as I could, I feel if I can't get a B doing just what I feel comfortable doing, then I should be doing it for a living. Vermont/New Hampshire/Central PA here I come! Maybe I'll just do history instead?

Oh, and yeah, yesterday was my birthday.

Worst birthday ever. By far. Nothing like a funeral, alcoholic prostitutes, O'hare on a Sunday night before thanksgiving, missing a party and studying for a stupid logic exam to make a guy feel special on his birthday. I'm a sad sack. What can you do?

But on a positive note, I did get to see my family and lots of people I haven't seen for a while at the funeral. The funeral was pretty good except for my Dad's eulogy. It was really good. He did an awesome job, but it was just terribly fucking sad. The priest (whom I about strangled to the ground and kicked his teeth in because I was so pissed off at him and his incantations) was about the worst 75$ my grandmother ever spent. 75$ for 15 minutes of an obviously scripted, completely impersonal line of shit! Anyway, my dad's 10 minutes were the only real thing that happened during the funeral and it was sad. I love my dad.

I also got to see two of my cousin's who I don't get to see very often (the one I hadn't seen in like 9 years) so that was cool. He has two really cute kids, but the one is a complete menace. She's five and really out of control.

The highlight of the trip was probably seeing the camp my dad used to work at and taking pictures of old oil derricks with my brother in Rasselas.

Here are some photo highlights of the trip:

Here's a map (because Google Earth is fun) that might help orient you. My dad grew up in Johnsonburg (where the funeral was) and my mom grew up in Rasselas (not really a town) where my uncle Joe still lives and where the oil derricks were. It's really beautiful up there. It's in what is arguably the biggest patch of wilderness east of the Mississippi, which I think is pretty cool. CLICK FOR BIGGER VERSION.

My brother and I stayed with my Mom's brother, 'uncle Joe', because my Dad's mom's house was full. Uncle Joe is the man.

Rusty brontosaurus #14; old oil derrick in Rasselas PA about 1 mile from the farm where my mother grew up. It was a beautiful day. Cold, in the 20s, but nice light. CLICK FOR BIGGER VERSION.

Here are some pictures of my brother Adam; he's pretty much the man. CLICK FOR BIGGER VERSIONS.

These are some old oil storage tanks along the road. CLICK FOR A BIGGER VERSION

Here are two pics of a model #23435AE oil derrick. Just kidding. I don't know the model number. CLICK FOR BIGGER VERSIONS.

My Dad's cousin Rick (aka 'cousin-ricky') is the big Game Warden in Elk County and he also runs the trout hatchery. He has a special little side project going on up in the mountains: he's raising some absolutely HUGE trout for special events. The biggest fish he has in the pond, that he's seen, is a 31" Brown Trout. That is fucking ridiculous.

Interestingly enough, the pond is part of an old camp that the local paper mill owns and my Dad lived there for 2 summers when he was in college as a 'caretaker'. It sounds more like his position was more like sitting around in the woods with his friends drinking beer, but whatever the case, what a cool place to live for a summer, or two.

Here's a picture of the lodge; CLICK FOR A BIGGER VERSION:

Here's my dad on the porch. He claims that in his day (the mid 60s), they had a much better sign. CLICK FOR A BIGGER VERSION.

This is a shot of my mom, dad and my cousin Jeff with is kids Emily and Caitlin (sp?). CLICK FOR A BIGGER VERSION.

And here is the menace herself, Emily:

Here's the pond with the coolest contraption ever: a solar powered fish feeder that has a little electric fence around it to keep the bear, deer, raccoons etc. from getting the fish food.

Here's a pic of a decent sized brown trout. Decent for the pond only as if you were to hook into this 22" brown trout on a stream with a fly rod it would be a fucking banner day that's for sure. CLICK FOR A BIGGER VERSION.

This concludes today's tour. Please mind the gap as you exit the ship.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

MB Pell keeps the content coming

I talked to Bob the other day and encouraged him to take a dip in the political pool of West Chester, but he shot me down. He said he doesn't know anything about politics and is busy enough as is. He still hasn't seen X-Men II.

I said, "Bob, don't fuck with me buddy because this is me asking nicely."

He was quiet for a few seconds and then replied, "well, I don't know Pell."

I fired off three quick rounds from the 12-gauge and said, "that's probably the most true thing you've ever said Bob, but I'm in no mood for honest appraisals right now. I want action. I want a man on the scene who I can trust, an agent of change. You are Trotsky."

He was clearly confused.

"Whatever," he said, after a few more seconds.

"Good man. Now are you registered to vote?" I asked.

"Look, Pell, honestly I'm not registered to vote. I don't think I am anyhow. I don't know, OK?"

Long pause and...

"Look, I've got a lot to think about here and I'm just not in a position to take anymore onto my plate," he said. "I'm not as politically astute as I used to be when I was in Mr. Friday's class and...what is that noise?"

"I just shot a wild dog Bob, it was trying to kill my chickens. Dianna built a chicken pen and we lost three birds the other night to the devil, so I've been sitting out here waiting for him, but apparently he was wise and sent a minion. That 'noise' is the sound of death my friend."

"Are you OK?" he asked.

"Never better. The chickens lay purple speckled eggs and there's nothing like free-ranged eggs. I love dogs, but this is me laying aside my own prejudices and standing up for the weak Bob. Sure, I'd love to be inside pulling tubes and watching Simpson reruns that seem new, but instead I've decided to take action. That's why I am sitting outside in my ambush pit pulling tubes and taking the fight to the enemy."

I had to cut it short at that point because I noticed the dog had a collar and that hole wasn't going to dig itself, but I feel that I may have really touched Bob. The next time you speak with him ask him if he's registered.

He's a good man.


Saturday, November 12, 2005

beer review #2

From Family Brewery Bosteels in Buggenhout, Belgium: Pauwel Kwak (8%abv)

I like Bosteels' brews. I know they also make the Tripel Karmeliet, a really wonderful Tripel. Both Kwak and the Tripel are very widely available. I think Bosteels is a fairly large, modern, business. And that's fine. I'm glad their beers are still really tasty. Can you imagine what Miller or Anheuser-Busch could do if they put their minds to it? Maybe win a ton of medals in the GABF? Oh, they already did that. I can't wait to try some of that stuff. Like a Michelob Marzen. Tasty I'm sure.

Anyway, the Kwak is a nice deep orange color. A bit cloudy, but chill haze, not yeast, though this beer is bottle conditioned. The head is a really nice off white/tan color. Very dense, persistant, very nice lacing.

Very nice nose. Warm, malty, sweet scents. I get some honey for sure, maybe biscuits and honey. Very appealing. Just a touch of alcohol.

Really just a very clean tasting beer. Very little to no astringency in the finish. Rich, sweet warm malty flavors and more of that biscuits and honey stuff on the palate. A good dose of banana-y esters here too. Warming.

A fairly sweet beer with a medium to medium-high carbonation. Very easy to drink for an 8%abv beer, but I think it gets a little too sweet for more than a glass or two.

Thank god for big Belgian Breweries.

Friday, November 11, 2005

that's just about right, #614

Continuing the trend of unlucky coincidences, fortuitous unfortunates and hapless happenstances that pepper the day to day life of Matthew D. Dunn, a long delayed effort to deposit two checks at my financial institution was thwarted by Veteran's Day just an hour ago.

Why the hell do banks close on Veteran's Day? You'd expect Veterans might need to conduct their financial transactions today as well.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

A cross roads (a friendly email from MB Pell)

"It's a dark time and I feel just swarthy enough to handle it," -- Ahmed, First Eunuch of Sultan Mehmet III, seconds before he decapitated the Ottoman potentate, who was chin deep in the cunt of a 325-pound Bulgarian woman.

Perhaps in retrospect I should have said pussy? matter.
Look, I'm wasted at work right now so I only have so much time to spit this e-mail out before I crack under the pressure and start spewing out nonsense to those who employ me. And for those of you who work with me, by wasted I mean tired, but for those of you who don't work with me I mean stoned as Bajesus.

We have several key topics to hit.

First off, the Eagles are reeling like the Rebel forces after the Hoth disaster. I feel pursued and betrayed. Pursued by ruthless Cowboys, Redskins, and Giants that have been held down in the cellar far too long and are rising up with a horrible furry. And betrayed by Terrel Owens/Anikin Skywalker. Sure he has mad skills, but he's been corrupted by the Emperor/Drew Rosenfucker and must now have his legs and good arm chopped off on a distant mining colony, wheree his then left for dead.
I believe the Birds will turn it around, but I really have no evidence supporting that theory. I feel like a creationist. For those of you with creationist beliefs, well, I guess I don't really have to worry about offending you because you're going to heaven and I'm going to hell and you're probably illiterate so you can't read this anyway. Baaaa-zing!!!!!!

Hey but at least Penn State is kicking ass, which just fills me to the brim with joy...and ahhh...I just can't do it. It's college football!!!! The NCAA can't even crown a winner at the end of the season. The bastards ignore one of the most basic elements of sports.

But let's get to one of my best lifted comedy routines of all time.

6.) Adam Ziegler, for helping me clean up a large mess that included pig bones, fat and skin.
5.) Bryan Hoffman, for not only attending the Harvest Party, but for making a credible effort at proving he's not gay by bringing a girl with him.
4.) Bobby Ferringo, for talking with me a couple of times recently and not throwing the Eagles' 4-4 record in my face.
3.) Owen Lewis, for agreeing to let Adam Ziegler win a poker game for the second year in a row at the Harvest Party.
2.) R Kelly, for not getting blood on the new carpet after a dissenting member of the Irish Death Watch Guard knocked him on his ass.
1.) Kevin Kelly, for knocking R on his ass and then driving him to the emergency room at 6 a.m. I was willing to let him bleed for a while, drain him of a little energy and if he was still alive at noon, then take him to the hospital. Yeah, it was a chance I was willing to take.

5.) Bryan Hoffman for dating an Amazon who beat him up and made him sleep in a dumpster.
4.) Matt Dunn for fighting federal funding for my interstate poking stick. It's a tourist attraction and you know it!!!
3.) Eda, for lending credence to the lie that Hoff is not gay.
2.) Ben Verde, for having such a small dog.
1.) Corey Fram, for getting drunk, smashing up my glassware and then ruining a perfectly good 4 a.m. shit by waking up in my bathroom and groaning about the stink.

I'm starting to sober up here, so see ya all soon.
And remember we all got drunk, but only one of us left with staples in our head.
Keeper of the Seven Stink Knuckles
Denizen of Earth, but only in the British sense
And Keeper of the Secret Name, Los Papas Fritas

Monday, November 07, 2005

beer and Google Earth

Here's a link to a great podcast interview with PA beer writer Lew Bryson.

And here's a couple cool images I found tooling around Google Earth that I've been meaning to put up here.

Oxbow lakes on a major tributary to the Amazon. I like how you can make out marks left by the meanders of the river. Clearly an indication that they're designed. Ha.

Here's a cool shot of what looks to my rather untrained eye as the result of glaciation, but I really don't know. It's just a cool picture. From central Asia somewhere.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

I hate intelligent design theorists (sic)

Yeah. They're theorists alright. Public relations theorists. Rhetorical theorists. And the more I see some of the slimy, stinky, watery shit that trickles (and sometimes explosively erupts) from their mouths and pens, the more I think that they are aware they are lying.

For a while, and still during my more generous moments, I thought that Dembski, Witt, Meyer et al. were just stupid. But after reading some recent stuff on the Discovery Institute's blog I'm afraid they're just being dishonest. They're manipulating people that are either too stupid to understand or too busy to look into the real issues.

Here's a couple things I found that were disturbing:

(1) This is hilarious. Jonathon Witt, being the genius that he is, mistakes an online blog carnival with the peer reviewed scientific literature! What a dumbass! There are all sorts of carnivals out there. There's a carnival of knitting, a carnival of the badger, all sorts of crazy things. A carnival is simply a collection of blog posts that ANYBODY can make. There's no review process you big douche bag. It's just some dude or dude-ette sitting at their computer collecting links from around the interweb. Just because the person holding the carnival is apparently a biologist doesn't really have anything to do with it.

What are you, a moron?

(2) Meyer's report about Pennock's testimony at Dover. Pennock apparently argued (I wouldn't put it past Meyer to misrepresent Pennock's claims though)

"...that if a theory has significant metaphysical or religious implications, it cannot be a scientific theory and must be categorized as religion. But there is no reason to assume this. For example, many scientists believe that the Big Bang theory, with its affirmation that the universe had a temporal beginning, has positive implications for a theistic worldview."

Here Meyer is confusing an explicit argument (ID) for certain "metaphysical" consequences with an implicit (science) at best argument for certain "metaphysical" consequences. Here "metaphysical" apparently means "divine" or of "another world", not its typical usage in philosophy. But we'll stick with it. Pennock's problem with ID is that its core doctrine (its only doctrine) is that through the "scientific method" we can infer that their is some "metaphysical" entity, eventhough the ID folks will deny the identity of the designer, it's pretty widely accepted that ultimately you're going to end up with a designer that violates the laws of nature etc. and is divine or at least not another biological entity. Anyway, ID explicitly makes an argument for certain metaphysical conclusions.

Science, on the other hand, does not make any such arguments. While one can argue that the big bang "has implications" for a theistic worldview, there is nothing in any cosmology textbook that says: "one consequence of our theory is that there is a god". Similarly, while it has been argued that Darwinism leads to Nazi-ism, Eugenics etc., there isn't one biology textbook that claims: "one of the necessary consequences of this theory is eugenics".

Now while I happen to believe that scientific theories can serve as good reasons to believe in a certain set of metaphysical commitments, there is nothing in those theories that require that particular set or really any set at all. One can always fall back on the skeptical argument: we can't really know if we're brains in vats or not, or that we're just pawn's in an evil demon's chess game, therefore what we think about the world could be completely false and therefore our theories would be very poor reasons to hold any particular set of metaphysical commitments.

In fact, it is certainly a fact about the world that different scientists, who believe that certain theories are good theories, hold very different sets of metaphysical commitments. That reveals something about the nature of religious belief: for most people, and I think rightly so, religous beliefs don't have anything to do with science or evidence or rational thinking at all. Why people are religious is a pretty difficult question, but obviously it doesn't have anything to do with rational thinking. And that's fine. Clearly one will always be able to accomodate one's beliefes about the world with their religious beliefs because religions are purpose-built to allow for that.

Anyway, the bottom line is that Pennock is right: ID has certain necessary metaphysical implications while science does not.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

beer review #1

I plan to start reviewing beers here. I have a decent stock of reviews on, but I haven't reviewed much there recently. I'm a bit sick of it really, but I do enjoy reviewing beers and it help me to develop my palate etc. So here's the first installment. CLICK THE PICTURE FOR A LARGER VIEW. Reviews are after the pic.

From De Dolle Brouwers in Esen, Belgium: oerbier (7.5%abv)

I've been waiting a long time to try this brew since De Dolle has returned to using a blend of yeasts that I've heard are used at Rodenbach, the famous brewer of Flemish sour ales.

The beer is a deep red, mahogany almost brown color. Medium to high carbonation with a large, persistant beige, off white head that leaves a medium bit of lacing in spots. A bit cloudy even after a careful pour; the yeast is really quite powdery. A very nice nose; sharp, pungent, maybe sour or tart but not overwhelmingly so, with a good bit of alcohol. Definately get some raisin and plum as well.

Little less stellar than I expected in the flavor department. Still very big and complex, but a bit astringent in the finish and not as sour as I would like. It's quite nice up front with medium yeast character and big adjunct and grain sweetness. A very nice breadyness is there as well and maybe a bit of coffee? But all this is swept up and away by the rather acidic, dry and rather astringent finish. There is a bit of a burnt sugar or raisin aftertaste that lingers. There is a big alcohol whoosh in the finish as well which is slightly disappointing considering the relatively low abv. The medium-high carbonation contributes to the perceived dryness of this beer and makes for a rather thin mouthfeel which is appropriate for the style.

All in all I'd let new bottles age for a year or so in the hopes that they develop some sourness and also that the alcohol hotness would mellow out a bit.

From Oaken Barrel Brewing in Greenwood, IN: Saison.

Well, I hope the beer was worth the hassle with the cork. Definately the wrong sized champagne cork. It took vise-grips to break the top of the cork off then it took Brian's rabbit cork screw to poke several holes in it until it finally decided to give up the ghost and pop out.

Beautiful looking beer. Huge carbonation. Massive, frothy white head of large bubbles that leaves absolutely beautiful sticky lacing on the glass. Huge, massive fruity nose. Big fruity esters, bubble gum, maybe some tropical fruit like candy scents. A touch musty at first. Actually a bit floral and perfume-y. Spices? Just an awesome nose.

Huge tropical fruit flavors up front. Maybe pineapple, banana, coconut even?? But unfortunately it quickly finishes rather astringent with a good bit of cotton candy like flavors. Really quite astringent actually. I wonder what that is?? A rather tart, harsh citrus in the finish too. It's a fairly dry beer and the massive carbonation doesn't exactly help with the astringency. It pricks your tongue around and tenderizes it for the assault.

Really promising, but unfortunately it's really just too astringent in the finish to be very drinkable. Very nice finishing gravity and appropriate carbonation and the nose was so tempting and perfect. Hopefully they'll make it again and it will be better then.

From Ska Brewing in Durango, CO: True Blonde Ale.

Got this in a beer trade from Colorado. Nice looking beer. Good blonde color. Medium carbonation, small but persistant head. Very minimal lacing. Fairly nondescript nose. Little bit of plastic-y fermentation character with subtle hop notes. Very uneventful tasting beer. Very very plain. A bit of a nice, subtle grainy sweetness. It says it's brewed with honey, maybe that contributes a bit to the kind of off smelling nose and semi-interesting sweetness. Also get a bit of that plastic fermentation character on the palate, but nothing overwhelming or unpleasant. Nice clean finish with a touch of hop bitterness. All in all a very easy drinking beer whose faults don't stand out much. And this beer is quite light thus making every little thing stand out. I'd drink a couple more of these if I had them.

And check out the post below. I went to Indy!

good stuff, the blogging pace will pick up now

Well, I always forget to post shit I think I want to post. So I'm going to post something brief about my trip to Indy last Saturday because I have some cool pictures. Also, watch out for some beer tastings to be posted here soon. I think I'm going to do that more often.

So I went to Indy this past Saturday to talk to folks and take pictures for a piece I wrote for Windy City Suds. I sent the piece off today. It was a bit long, almost 1700 words, but I think it was quite good if I do say so myself. And I even managed to praise Brugge Brasserie. I wonder what Ted Miller will think about that?

Anyway, this trip was another confirmation that Indy is definately the easiest city to get around. I went to 54th and Keystone, up to Broad Ripple, down to Mass Ave. then to the heart of downtown. There was no traffic. I found a parking spot one block from my destination downtown...on my first pass. It's amazing that city. 12th biggest city in the country! I'm really becoming quite familiar with it which is nice.

Anyway, I managed to get to MacNiven's a little after I wanted to, but the light was still quite good. It faces northwest-ish. CLICK ON IT FOR A BIGGER VIEW. That glare is kind of bad, but I still like the pic.

mmmmmm...the funk...Cantillon; at Kahn's. CLICK FOR A BIGGER VIEW.