Ow, my head

Dead Soldiers
The previous night's carnage

Had a small-ish tasting on Saturday night (and the following morning). Highlights were Manhattan NW, BA Framingham, Cosmos, and Mash. I think Manhattan NW and Mash were the ones that did us in. I wish I’d gotten a picture of the destruction caused by Dave when I tried to wake him up off the couch. RIP some of my favorite old snifters.

If that wasn’t enough, the Mango Magnifico and Mash & Grind that we led off with the next morning were enough to wipe clean most of my memory of breakfast (not that I’m complaining, eating anything from a Village Inn isn’t something that I want to remember). Took me a five-hour recovery nap afterwards. I must be getting old.

Westbrook Weisse Weisse Baby

Westbrook Weisse Weisse Baby
Westbrook Weisse Weisse Baby

Style: Berliner Weisse
ABV: 4%
Bottled: Spring 2013
Size: 750ml C&C bottle
Price: $8?
Bottle Count: Unknown

Okay, I’m from Florida, so I’m a total slut for the Berliner/Florida-Weisse/London Sour/whatever style. Give me something low-octane with plenty of tartness and I’m always on board, especially when I’m poolside. SC isn’t exactly a hotbed of sour activity, and Westbrook is definitely hit-or-miss, but I’m willing to give this one a shot.

Pour is nice enough — you can’t tell from the pic, but it’s light and effervescent, if a little cloudy. Smells like lemon rind and wheat, and not much else. But it’s supposed to be light, correct? And damn if it doesn’t hit the spot when I’m laying in the sun. I’d had a pretty lackluster bottle of Aroma Coma before this and WWB really hit me right. Plenty of tart lemony goodness, a touch of sweetness to even it out, with a little bit of biscuit on the back end. And light, really light. I could drink this all day. Makes me wish I had more of it.

This may never quite measure up to the best examples in the style, and it’s definitely not one of the fruity Florida-Weisse that I love, but I’d be happy to drink another one.

Cigar City California Brandy Hunahpu

Cigar City California Brandy Hunahpu
Cigar City California Brandy Hunahpu

Style: Imperial Stout
ABV: 11.2%
Bottled: Spring 2013
Size: 750ml bottle
Price: $25
Bottle Count: ~2200 (rumored)

Ah, yes. The Huna variant that had me racing up to CCB over and over just to find that I was either too late, too early, or just plain there on the wrong day. Six trips and I came away with nothing. It was pretty frustrating to find out that people were walking with a case or more when I couldn’t seem to score a single fucking bottle. And finally I got lucky and got some on the last day that they were releasing them to Tampa peeps. So was it worth all that? Let’s find out.

The pour is… well, it’s Hunahpu. Huge mocha head, I’ll throw in the obligatory cliched motor oil comparison, and it looks like you could stand a spoon straight up in this bastard. Smells like barrel — or at least some barrel, I wouldn’t have guessed brandy, maybe whiskey of some sort. The cinnamon and spice of the base beer are nowhere to be found in the nose. The flavor has a bit of that upfront, but now the barrel is strangely muted. Plenty of vanilla and some peppery heat, and lots of cinnamon in the finish. It’s definitely a big beer, but doesn’t quite dominate your palate like previous Huna variants did.

Okay, it’s good. But other variants are better. I’d have to put this one below the ’11 and ’12 variants but better than regular Hunahpu. Specifically, ’12 Apple Brandy > Rum > Bourbon > Whiskey > Cali Brandy > regular Huna. Worth trading a bunch of shit for? Yes, without a doubt. It’s still better than 90% of the BA beers I’ve had. Go get you some.

Joining CCB’s El Catador Club

El Catador Club Membership Card
El Catador Club Membership Card

On Sunday, I managed to convince Mrs. Asshole to come with me and bake in the heat while I stood and waited to join the first incarnation of Cigar City’s El Catador Club.  This is CCB’s version of what other breweries like Crooked Stave and The Bruery have been doing — essentially you pay a lump sum ($120) upfront for a guaranteed five bottles of barrel-aged beer.  Along with that you get first access to buy more bottles if available, discounts in the tasting room and brewpub, a t-shirt, and some other perks.

So this weekend was for the locals, with online memberships for poor out-of-staters to follow… soon.  Since we were in Tampa for the day, naturally we took the opportunity to hit up Datz for brunch (I highly recommend this if you find yourself nearby) and stuff ourselves silly.  The tap list was a bit of a letdown, but I did try CCB’s Gentlemen’s Club (the rye variant) and Engine 15’s Nut Sack brown ale (I couldn’t resist).

CCB/Widmer Gentlemen's Club Rye Barrel
CCB/Widmer Gentlemen’s Club Rye Barrel

Once we got there, the line was manageable, but holy shit was it hot.  Of course the line was set up on the side of the building facing the sun, so it made for even more face-melting fun.  We got there fairly early, so we were only waiting for maybe an hour, but by the time we got close to the front everyone was sweating through their clothes and some looked like they were about to pass out.  I grabbed an umbrella to protect my expectant better half but even she was dying out there (she’s a trooper though).  Joey Redner was around handing out water bottles to everyone, which was a nice gesture.

El Catador Club signup line

And finally, success!

Westbrook Mexican Cake

Westbrook Mexican Cake
Westbrook Mexican Cake

Style: Imperial Stout
ABV: 10.5%
Bottled: Spring 2013
Size: 220z bottle
Price: $10
Bottle Count: unknown

These days everyone is trying to make a Hunahpu-killer, and while no one has dethroned the king, this is the closest one I’ve tried so far. The basic approach is the same — take a big, viscous stout, then add cinnamon, cocoa nibs, vanilla bean, and chilis. The pour is nice and thick, looking very Huna-esque with a solid dark head. Smells kind of peppery, with the vanilla and cocoa in large amounts. Then the first few sips… Nice enough, with a decent amount of cinnamon jumping up with the vanilla. Then the fire hits you. Westbrook doesn’t fuck around here; they used habaneros so as to leave no doubt that they hate your digestive system. A solid peppery burn that lasts for a good ten minutes or so and makes me think I’m gonna hate myself come morning. But I keep coming back for more.

I actually had a couple of growlers of the first batch of this, and they had nowhere near this much heat. I have to say that I like the new batch better. We blended some of batch one with some Blushing Monk to make a sort of raspberry flourless chocolate cake-ish beer, which was totally delicious.

I got a few bottles of this and I’ve already gone through two of them. I guess we can add this to the list of beers that I’ll continue to chase down.

Looks like we’re having a girl – Lost Abbey Framboise de Amorosa

Lost Abbey Framboise de Amorosa
Lost Abbey Framboise de Amorosa

Style: American Wild Ale
ABV: 7%
Bottled: 2013
Size: 375ml bottle
Price: $17
Bottle Count: n/a

Mrs. Asshole and I had a party recently to find out whether we were having a boy or a girl, so I decided I’d open a corresponding beer to celebrate afterwards. Luckily it’s gonna be a little she-demon, since I couldn’t think of a beer that actually looked blue — blueberry sours taste great but look more purple, which might send the wrong kind of message.

Anyway, I’m a total sucker for raspberries and framboise, so this is right up my alley. Strangely for a Lost Abbey beer, it actually contains bubbles. It smells like raspberry compote blended with a little sweet tart, and I could keep my nose in the glass all night. The taste isn’t quite that good, but it’s still pretty nice. More tart than sour, and the raspberries are more muted than in the nose. Long medium-dry finish. The ABV could be a little lower but it doesn’t get in the way, especially with this smallish format.

Pretty much a winner, one of my favorite seasonals from Lost Abbey. I like it more than Red Poppy, but it’s more of a pain in the ass to get a hold of for some reason; maybe the yield is lower for this due to the fruit used. But I’m gonna pretty much be perma-ISO this one — the little devil-spawn is gonna need a case or two of this instead of formula.

Surly Overrated IPA

Surly Overrated IPA
Surly Overrated IPA

Style: India Pale Ale
ABV: 7.3%
Canned: 6/11/13
Size: 16oz can
Price: $12/4-pack

4th of July means block party and playing in the street in the 100+ degree heat index, so this pseudo-patriotic looking can worked out perfectly.  I think most of the drunks around me thought this was a new-fangled High Life can or something, since no one looked sideways at me.  (Yes, I know the picture is in a glass, I had four cans.)

So this is a pretty nice cross between the west coast and east coast styles.  Tons of citrusy hops juxtaposed with some bubblegum and mango.  After a while the piney bitterness gets to me a bit, and while it’s not boozy, it’s really drying.  But it might just be the heat.  I  had this next to a Furious and definitely preferred Overrated.

It’s a little pricey, but still worth trying at least once.  I’ll definitely order some more next time I get anything from up there.  Plus it’s nice to see Minnesotans doing something right, since they’ve obviously had no fucking idea what they’re doing for the past six years when it comes time to elect a Congresswoman (although she is good for endless laughs).

Almanac Farmer’s Reserve #3

Almanac Farmer's Reserve #3
Almanac Farmer's Reserve #3

Style: American Wild Ale
ABV: 6%
Bottled: 2012
Size: 375ml bottle
Price: $10-ish
Bottle Count: Unknown

I’d only heard a little about these before someone had sent them to me. I hadn’t paid much attention before, but maybe I should’ve been. Strawberries, nectarines, and wine barrels? Oh, yes please. Strawberries sours don’t always turn out great (Hanssens, I’m looking at you), but I’ll give it a shot.

So it smells nice enough — plenty of citrus, and the strawberry is floating around there somewhere. And there’s a little sweet-tart to it, too. The taste is all nectarine upfront, along with some red berry in the middle, all wrapped in a light lacto sourness. A little drying, from the wine barrel I assume, but pretty nice on a hot day (we have a shitload of those here; yesterday was another 105+ heat index day). Damned good, and worth finding more.

For some reason #4 was sold out almost instantly, and I haven’t tried #1 or #2 yet, so hit me up if you have some. As it is I’m definitely ordering more of this one.

Caldera Mogli

Caldera Mogli
Caldera Mogli

Style: American Porter
ABV: 8.5%
Bottled: 2012
Size: 22oz bottle
Price: $17
Bottle Count: unknown

Really nice barrel-aged porter from Caldera.  I’ve not been a huge fan of their IPAs, so this was a bit of a surprise.  Good toasted coconut and marshmallow in the aroma.  The barrel is subtle, but it’s more upfront as it warms up.  I like it; seek this out.

Peg’s/Cycle Brewing Tang & Biscuits

Peg's/Cycle Brewing Tang & Biscuits
Peg's/Cycle Brewing Tang & Biscuits

Style: India Pale Ale
ABV: 4.5%
Kegged: June 2013
Size: 16oz glass
Price: $4
Bottle Count: n/a

Another solid pale ale from the Cycle crew. A little spicy from the rye, short dry finish. It’s not quite as bitter as Fixie and Freewheel, and it doesn’t quite smell as great, but it’s really nice going down. Low ABV so you can drink a ton of it, too. This stuff is great for the hot weather.