Poured what I thought looked dark orange but then upon further inspection proved to be a nice reddish orange with a soft golden hue deep within it. Hazy. Head was off white, fell reasonably and did not leave much lace to speak of.
Nose is gentle but fruity. Orange citrus and a berry like tropical scent that is hard to pin down. Candy malt and a bit of graham cracker too.
Taste is lovely. Full taste on a soft creamy mouthfeel. Crispness in the drink and a sweet tropical fruitiness. Orange and orange pith. Finishes sticky and with a lazy bitter that lingers for a bit and then flourishes a little. Big malt flavor but not heavy. A bit of spice pops up on the nose as it warms and in the finish. Some apricot tartness takes you by surprise and the caramel comes forward more and more with a little honey to go with that orange.
I have never said this before but this beer would be perfect with a chile pepper. This drank big like a barleywine and if they put a little ancho chile in this it would be fantastic.
Welcome to the PGA beer rating system: one beer “Don’t bother.” Two: Eh, if someone gives it to you, drink. Three: very good, go ahead and seek it out, but be aware there is at least one problem. Four: seek it out. Five: pretty much “perfecto.”
Maria Devan lives in Ithaca, NY and is frequent reviewer of beer and a beer lover deluxe.
If Ithaca is Gorges, it is also rapidly becoming a craft beer destination. In the first article of this series, I recounted the story of Ithaca’s first craft brewery and tasted a few of their beers. Here I introduce readers to the new breweries that have attracted the attention of both Ithacans and people passing through the Finger Lakes.
Breweries and Brewpubs (Part Two)
The past decade-and-a-half has witnessed a parade of restaurants and even a barber shop make valiant but ill-fated attempts to gain a foothold in the subterranean space at 114 North Cayuga Street. Would a brew pub have enough staying power where so many other businesses had failed to capture the attention of passersby? Right out of the starting gate, the owners of Bandwagon seemed to have grasped that ambience would be as important as the food and beverages they’d be serving.IMG_0829 They converted their downtown location into a contemporary dining establishment a cut above the average brewpub, creating a bustling but still intimate seating arrangement with warm, subdued light falling on roughly-hewn stone walls and rustic wooden floors.
Now, as for Bandwagon’s liquid offerings, I’ll qualify what is about to come by stating that I have a soft spot for the place. As inconsistent as Bandwagon’s beers can be, they can also be of high quality when all goes well. Their brewing setup––almost a museum piece, really––is viewable through a window in the cozy lounge area set off to the side from the restaurant. Couple that with an insistence on brewing ten-gallon batches––ten gallons, not ten barrels––to supply a thirsty crowd of regulars and out-of-towners, and you get a not insignificant number of beers pushed through the system well before they’ve matured. But despite all that, I keep going back. Maybe it’s the nostalgia of sitting down there with Papazian’s classic to plot my first few homebrews. Or maybe it’s all those orders of Belgian-style frites and mayonnaise shared with friends.
Call it a new twist on the old “teach a man to fish” adage. A group in Vancouver, British Columbia, is teaching inveterate alcoholics to brew their own beer and make their own wine, in an attempt to keep them from drinking unsafe liquids to get an alcoholic high.
The project is the work of the , which works to help people who suffer from mental illness and addictions in downtown Vancouver. News of the beer and wine project is spreading weeks after the publicly funded group’s Drug Users Resource Center unveiled a coin-operated machine that .
The Portland Hotel Society’s leaders say they want to provide safe alternatives to people who might otherwise be forced into risky and unsafe behavior — everything from shoplifting booze to drinking any substance they can find that contains alcohol.
“Obviously, we’d rather they didn’t drink,” the society’s executive director, Mark Townsend, tells the . “But if they do, we’d rather they didn’t drink hand sanitizer.”
The brewing program, which began about six months ago, requires participants to make several commitments in exchange for about five liters of home-brewed beer. Townsend says that in addition, they also get a sense of pride and achievement in making their own beer.
Only four hours from New York City, but centrally isolated. Ten square miles surrounded by reality. Partly sunny. And gorges aplenty.
There’s no denying that Ithaca is Gorges.IMG_7308 Spend less than half an hour in this town cradled by rolling hills at the foot of Lake Cayuga’s waters, and chances are that you’ll have passed by a torrent of water issuing forth from one of Ithaca’s many creeks cutting through the stunning shale formations. If not, you’ll have caught a glimpse of the ubiquitous bumper stickers, T-shirts, baseball caps, mugs, and even stuffed animals proclaiming the fact.
The brewery has a capacity of 22 million barrels of beer and a barrel of beer is 31 gallons. That means a barrel of beer can fill about 330 bottles or cans of 12 oz. beers. The brewery production capacity is something like 7 billion beers a year. And I drank three of those 7 billion beers during the tour.
You must be 21 years of age to tour the brewery and have beer samples, although children are apparently welcome (see comments) as long as you don’t share your beer with the minors. And if you are in a hurry, you can rush through all the brewery educational displays and just focus on the free beer samples at the end of the tour.
There were 279 entries judged and 174 registered participants, judges, and stewards. Winners can be found HERE.
Shhh! Don’t disturb their natural habitat! Early in the morning the wild, some native: some not so, beer judges flock to see how well the beers floc’d, or not. They start with coffee, donuts, bagels and conversation, then the clarion call comes as the rulers of the roost tell them time to sit and judge. Then they cautiously, carefully prod, poke the entries with eyes and noses, and take a careful sip…. all to assess how this year’s “crop” of entries did.
While I live in Tennessee, Millie and I have a retirement shack in the Adirondacks: Beaver River, NY… not far from where I partially grew up. Plus we’re both from New York State originally. For years I have wanted to judge beer at Salt City Homebrewers run NYS Fair Competition. Two problems: I’m a thousand miles away, and when I’m not my other home… Beaver River… has no roads going to it. This means getting in and out is sometimes not all that different from, well, coming up from Tennessee: difficult and awkward.
We’re hoping to fix that with a second place in the Old Forge area when we retire and return home.
Kind of like those birds I mentioned, eh?
This year this entertainer’s schedule allowed for judging at the Fair, plus I had to leave Beaver River about the same time for the New England part of my tour. Having been by many times when I was younger I was curious what the grounds were like.
Up at 4am because old man wakeup-itis had hit me: my cousin’s place near Ithaca, I slowly drove to Syracuse…
Any craft beer geek has to respect Deschutes Brewery. They’ve been around since 1988, and produce the biggest selling domestically-produced dark beer, Black Butte Porter. To be sure, Deschutes has had a noticeable decline in quality as they’ve drastically increased their production in recent years, but that seems inevitable with any expanding brewery.
Still, Deschutes produces some very good special edition brews. So, when I first saw Black Butte XXV on the shelves about a year ago, I had to pick one up. This is their 25th Anniversary commemorative, and a celebration of their biggest seller.
In looking at the label, I discovered a couple of interesting things. First, the Black Butte XXV is literally twice the strength of normal Black Butte Porter (11.3% ABV). Second, almost alone among breweries, Deschutes will include a “best AFTER” date for beers that it suggests you cellar. In this case, the “best after” date is 06/10/2014.
Also, the beer was brewed with cocoa nibs, figs, dates, and blackcurrants, and part of it was aged in bourbon barrels.
On pouring, Black Butte XXV is black as Louie Gohmert’s heart, with a very small head (again like Gohmert), and short-lived lacing. Not surprising for a beer of its strength.
The aroma is a mild chocolate and vanilla (from the bourbon barrels), with a basic underlying coffee/roasty smell.
The taste is complex and multi-layered, and changes with temperature.
When colder, Black Butte XXV is all baking chocolate, with subtle dark fruits forming a base note. The individual fig, date and blackcurrant seem to simply meld together, along with the same notes one might find on their own in a porter without actual fruit added. The alcohol at colder temps is almost undetectable.
On warming, Black Butte XXV is a completely different beast. While the cocoa and fruit are still present, vanilla is more prominent, along with a huge blast of bourbon, and a virtual assault on the throat by the alcohol burn.
The finish is long, boozy, and redolent of the cocoa again.
Black Butte XXV has the potential to cellar and develop into a truly amazing beer. However, I believe that Deschutes underestimated the “best after” date, and should’ve pushed it out another year or so. In short, if you manage to find any of this still on the shelves or in the cooler anywhere, buy it, and don’t open it for at least another year, maybe more.
Suggested pairings would be beef or lamb dishes with rich, hearty sauces, or with desserts such as crème brulee, English sticky toffee pudding, or flour-less chocolate cake.
____________________________________________________________________________________________________ That’s Tom Becham.
What, you want to know more?
He lives in California.
Is that enough?
Gee, you’re demanding.
OK he’s a great writer who has contributed many times to PGA. And he lives in Oxnard.