Monday, May 23, 2016

Coppertail Wheat Stroke


3.1
   AROMA 6/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 6/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 12/20Chad9976 (1604) - Lakeland, Florida, USA - MAY 23, 2016

 
2015 BJCP Category: 18A Blonde Ale

AROMA: Light lemony scent, maybe some lime. A bit of light wheat and pale malt though not especially sweet or pungent. Faint tart/sour note as well. 7/12

APPEARANCE: Pale banana skin yellow. Cloudy, but effervescence is visible. Large, bright white loose foam which mostly dissipates and leaves no lacing. 2/3

FLAVOR: Mild palette overall with slightly bready/wheaty flavor. Lemon pith seems present with minor dry bitterness on the finish. Slight lime sensation in the aftertaste, but otherwise dry. Not bad, but far from exciting. 12/20

MOUTHFEEL: To spec on all points: medium-light body; well carbonated and smooth. Refreshing. A bit of tang on the finish, though. 4/5

OVERALL IMPRESSION: Pretty standard pale wheat ale in all aspects. Not bad, but a bit boring. Fresh bottle might be only marginally better. 6/10

TOTAL SCORE: 31/50

DISCLAIMER: The author is not a certified BJCP judge; therefore, this score sheet is not necessarily indicative of proper BJCP judging techniques and protocol. The author is grading to 2015 BJCP Guidelines in order to prepare for examination.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Samuel Adams Whitewater IPA


2.2
   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 3/10   PALATE 2/5   OVERALL 7/20Chad9976 (1603) - Lakeland, Florida, USA - MAY 22, 2016

 
2015 BJCP Category: 21B Specialty IPA: White IPA

AROMA: Orange and apricot peel is strong. Slight perfume or soapy smell. Spices and esters override hops. 8/12

APPEARANCE: Pale orange/yellow. Extremely hazy. Small, dense, white foam. 2/3

FLAVOR: Overall palette is similar to Blue Moon: witbier-ish but faux. Dry bitterness throughout with slight orangepeel flavor. Apricot presence is invisible. Strong black pepper sensation on finish. Seems to have a dirty taste and maybe even some unintentional sourness. Offputting. 6/20

MOUTHFEEL: Medium body and well carbonated. Palette is extremely astringent with lingering unpleasant aftertaste. Not refreshing at all. 2/5

OVERALL IMPRESSION: Difficult to believe this is the intended taste; seems like a bad batch. Flavors do not harmonize. Can’t finish it. 4/10

TOTAL SCORE: 22/50

DISCLAIMER: The author is not a certified BJCP judge; therefore, this score sheet is not necessarily indicative of proper BJCP judging techniques and protocol. The author is grading to 2015 BJCP Guidelines in order to prepare for examination.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Brewery review: Lakeland Brewing Company (Lakeland, FL)


Lakeland Brewing 026

As you may have heard, I recently moved to Lakeland, so what better place to go for my first review of a local establishment than the brewery that bears the city’s name: Lakeland Brewing Company. I actually went as part of a meetup of the inaugural meeting of Lakeland Craft Beer Enthusiasts.

Lakeland Brewing 021
The tasting/dining room is beautiful (but loud)

My initial impression of the facility is that it’s pretty gorgeous in appearance. It’s either a newly-built structure or one that was completely refurbished. It’s located across the street from Lake Mirror in a trendy section of the downtown area which makes it an ideal location. There’s a large patio in front, a fairly large bar inside, and plenty of seating as well. The architects did a great job designing the look and establishing the atmosphere of this place. Call me a hipster, but it’s trendy-looking and I like it because of that. It combines a vintage warehouse vibe with a modern look.

Lakeland Brewing 025
There’s a great view of Lake Mirror from the front patio!

The only problem with going this route is that because it’s industrial in style, the indoor ambience suffers. The floor is just a concrete slab, there are no curtains, the tables are hardwood as are the stools and chairs, which makes sitting for more than 30 minutes a literal pain in the butt. All this solidity causes the sound to echo and reverberate, so when the dining room gets busy it becomes very loud and you’ll have to raise your voice just to speak to someone at your table. I’d recommend sitting outside if you visit here.

Lakeland Brewing 010
Lakeland Brewing is not a brewpub per se, though they do have their own kitchen and a decent menu of small plates and snack food they call nibbles, bites, and morsels. The food menu is bar fare at the core, but with an upscale twist. For example, I ordered the “L.A.keland Street Dog” ($8) which is a jumbo beef hot dog with all the fixings. It was tasty, but messy. This should really be eaten with a knife and fork, but the server didn’t bring me any silverware. Other people in the group ordered the “Hunter’s Plate” ($9) which in a little sampler of sausage, some Gouda cheese wedges, a few green apple slices and honeyed cashews. I split one of these with a fellow member of the meetup group and it was nice. Both of these food items were good, but seemed a tad overpriced to me. Then again, it’s becoming difficult to find a menu with an entrée or appetizer under $10 these days (aside from a fast foot joint, that is).

The menu says this is supposed to be bacon-wrapped, but it wasn't. X(
The menu says this is supposed to be bacon-wrapped, but it wasn’t. X(

Anyway, this is a brewery review after all, so let’s talk about the beers. Here’s the breakdown:
NOTE: For $8 you can order a flight of four 4oz samples. Pints and half-pints vary in price by beer.

Lakeland Brewing 011Portico (5.4% ABV, 30 IBUS): Described as an “East Coast Porch Ale” (whatever that means), this drank like a typical blonde ale every brewpub always has for BMC drinkers. It wasn’t bad at all and worked well for what it was, though the head brewer informed me that it’s actually a pale ale (in which case it’s not a very good pale ale). I ordered full pint of this after I had sampled every beer in their lineup as it was the easiest-drinking beer I tried. RATING: 3.5/5

Pah’le Ah’le (5.8% ABV, 30 IBUs): Billed as a “Way West Coast style pale” this was a bit more hoppy than the previous beer, though it didn’t seem especially West Coast to me. Not bad. RATING: 3.5/5

Lakeland Brewing 012Pig Beer (3.5% ABV, 16 IBUs): I assumed this was some kind of lager, but it’s not. Whatever it is, it’s some kind of mild golden ale. Sessionable to be sure, but not quite as flavorful as the previous two beers. RATING: 3/5

Damn it, Janet! (6.8% ABV, 66 IBUs): I actually tried a full pint of this red rye at Patio 850 on Monday and found it to be pretty decent. The red color was nice and it was plenty hoppy so it had some bite. Other members of the meetup group seemed to like it too, but one thing everyone noticed was that there was something off about the aftertaste. RATING: 3.5/5

Lakeland Brewing 019Acer Nook (5.3% ABV, 24 IBUs): If this were half as good as the description on the website, I think this would’ve been a pretty great beer. Unfortunately, it seemed to be infected or spoiled to me. It reeked of phenolic character; akin to the smell (and taste) of a hospital. Absolutely no wheat character at all. This was pretty much undrinkable. I don’t know why they even had it on tap, it should’ve been pulled. RATING: 1/5

One-Eye Revenge (6.7% ABV, 34 IBUs): Definitely the best beer in LBC’s lineup. This is a mocha stout brewed with Black Onyx cocoa and Panamanian coffee and was the only memorable beer of the night. It was also the only dark beer the brewery had on tap. Coffee was prominent in the nose, but subtle in the palate. Some chocolate flavor on the finish, though I detected a slight diacetyl note as well. Perhaps it’s brewed with Ringwood yeast? The brewer didn’t like my description of this as slightly buttery. RATING: 3.75/5
Lakeland Brewing 018 
863 Sheets (9.5% ABV, 87 IBUs): No description of this other than simply “Double IPA,” though I vehemently disagree with both of those words. There were virtually no hops in here as far as aroma and flavor and only slight bitterness. I ordered a short pour of it, but I could only get through half of that. Once again, the brewer resented my review and said the hops had indeed dropped off and that’s why it’s only $2 a glass so you can “get drunk for cheap.” I just about fell out of my chair when I read that. Why is a brewer openly admitting that his beer has gone south and that you should drink it for the performance value rather than for taste? Most breweries would’ve taken it offline and replaced it with a fresher batch. Though that raises another question: DIPAs tend to be a one of the most popular styles of craft beer – why aren’t kegs of this kicking quickly? Why is there old beer on tap at the very brewery that makes it? RATING: 1.5/5

Lakeland Brewing 027In retrospect, I think I was a little generous with my scores across the board. The median rating was 2.8 which is technically above average, but as a whole I would consider Lakeland Brewing’s offerings below average. I’m not sure what accounts for the sub-par flavor as I am not a professional brewer and do not purport to be one. However, I have been drinking craft beer pretty seriously for about a decade and I can detect the standard flaws like diacetyl, acetaldehyde, dimethyl sulfide, oxidation, etc. The rest of the members of the meetup group all claimed to be beginners in the world of craft beer, but everyone seemed to find the lineup to be only okay as a whole. Everyone agreed the mocha stout was probably the best beer they had, but no one seemed to rave about it.


All complaints aside, I will say I still had an enjoyable evening with the meetup group and I did like the atmosphere and location of the brewery. The service was slow, but it was Friday at Happy Hour after all. I could see this brewery making some good beer if they brought an industry consultant in to give them some honest feedback. For beer lovers, Lakeland Brewing leaves much to be desired, but those looking for a nice spot to hang out and have a beer or two and some snacks, this is worthwhile.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Why is craft beer emulating alcopops?

iPhone 2016 051
Hard sodas get their own display at ABC Fine Wine & Spirits
Last year, two products hit the mainstream craft beer market that were catalysts for sea change: Not Your Father’s Root Beer and Ballast Point Grapefruit Sculpin. It’s possible neither was actually the first of its kind, but both have had huge ramifications in a relatively short time as they’ve inspired breweries across the country to emulate these products nearly verbatim.

At first glance, it would appear that these types of brews are at opposite ends of the spectrum. After all, hard sodas are intended to taste like regular soft drinks, while citrus-infused IPAs are enhanced versions of a “real” craft beer style. The former is so clearly faux while the latter is genuine beer. But in my opinion, there’s really not much difference between these products because their selling point is the same: alcoholic beverages that doesn’t taste like traditional beer. Or, more precisely: alcoholic beverages that taste sweet, overtly faux, and completely pedestrian. That sounds a lot like another style of adult beverage that’s been around for a while now, namely; Flavored Malt Beverages or “Alcopops.”

You can now find these products at Walmart and other such stores. This is rather ironic if you consider the big picture: craft beer could barely get any shelf space at these venues for decades, but within the last year small and big businesses alike have been making room and even setting up separate displays just to carry so-and-so’s “hard” root beer or ginger ale or whatever. The juicy IPAs aren’t quite as common at the big box stores, but liquor stores and bottle shops definitely are making a fuss about them.
At least Walmart knows to shelve these with the alcopops.
At least Walmart knows to rack these with the alcopops.
Of course it begs the question: are hard sodas and citrus-infused IPAs even [craft] beer in the first place? When it comes to the former, my answer is a resounding no. Just because they’re made with malts and the slightest bit of hops doesn’t qualify them as beer. They should not even be lumped in with the spice/herb/vegetable style, either. They are not marketed as beer, nor do they taste like beer – so why should we consider them such? And if hard sodas are beer, then why aren’t alcopops?

But what about all these juicy IPAs; surely they are “real beer,” no? I suppose that argument can be made, but as is often the case in the American craft beer scene, they’re just a trendy variation of a popular style. In recent years we’ve seen session IPAs, red IPAs, black IPAs, white IPAs, etc. Even the BJCP recognized these off-shoots as established styles with their 2015 guidelines. Will they include these super citrusy IPAs in their next overhaul? Should they? I’d say no, and for several reasons:
So is every Ballast Point infused with fruit juice now?
So is every Ballast Point beer infused with fruit juice now?
First of all, we know that IPAs tend to taste of citrus, melon, tropical and stone fruits from the hops used in their brewing. When you blend the beer with actual fruit juice you’re cheating to achieve the same results. Why even brew the beer with hops at all if the goal is to make a sweet, juicy-tasting brew with only moderate bitterness? I can’t help but wonder if these IPAs were invented so brewers could get rid of old hops and cover up the taste with juice.

Secondly, fruit juice-infused IPAs are just so damn trendy that they seem like they’re marketed for the masses rather than for genuine beer enthusiasts. Fruity beers sometimes blur the line between real, genuine zymurgy and lowest-common-denominator alcopops.
You know a trend has jumped the shark when Sam Adams capitalizes on it.
You know a trend has jumped the shark when Sam Adams capitalizes on it.
Lastly, the fruit character is so prominent that it tends to override the IPA base palette and bastardizes the style. Say what you want about those other IPA sub-styles, but they all still taste like IPAs, whereas juicy IPAs don’t taste all that much different from Mike’s Hard Lemonade, Smirnoff Ice, and their many variants. Those products have been around for years, but they’re considered girly, foo-foo, douchey, unmanly, etc. If I got caught drinking any of those products and admitted I liked them, all my friends would say my man card’s been revoked. Yet, it’s perfectly acceptable for them to drink an IPA with “natural flavors added” and keep their beer snob rep intact. I don’t get it.
mancardrevoked
This is what happens when you admit to actually liking an alcopop, but not a hard soda - why?
I think there’s an unwritten rule on how to react to these products correctly. You’re “allowed” to like them just as long as you do so in small doses, on rare occasions, and acknowledging and appreciating these beers as the novelty products they are. In other words; in order to drink and like these products you have to be a hipster.

Damn.

Related reading:
Is “Not Your Father’s Root Beer” beer?
When is a beer not a beer?

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

3 Daughters Stern Line Stout


3.4
   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 14/20Chad9976 (1595) - Lakeland, Florida, USA - MAY 18, 2016

 
2015 BJCP Category: 30A Spice/Herb/Vegetable and 16B Oatmeal Stout

AROMA: Sweet nose similar to a milk stout (possible lactose sugar). Slight iced coffee presence. General dark malt presence. 9/12

APPEARANCE: Dark brown color, opaque. Small, tan, foamy head. Poor retention and lacing. 2/3

FLAVOR: Sweet palette throughout, but not cloying. Dark malt is present immediately. Coffee bitterness and flavor lingers in the background before emerging strong on the finish. Chocolate is mild and a little obscured by the other ingredients. Seems to have a slight raisin flavor, and possible tang. On-point for an S/H/V as chocolate and coffee complement the base brew. 14/20

MOUTHFEEL: Medium body, though a bit thinner than expected. Texture is similar to a flat soda. Slight bitter aftertaste of dark coffee. 3/5

OVERALL IMPRESSION: A nice oatmeal stout with bonus flavors. A fresh can might be more robust, though this is a rather average. 6/10

TOTAL SCORE: 34/50

DISCLAIMER: The author is not a certified BJCP judge; therefore, this score sheet is not necessarily indicative of proper BJCP judging techniques and protocol. The author is grading to 2015 BJCP Guidelines in order to prepare for examination.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Sixpoint C.R.E.A.M.


3.3
   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 13/20Chad9976 (1594) - Lakeland, Florida, USA - MAY 17, 2016

 
2015 BJCP Category: 30A Spice/Herb/Vegetable and 1C Cream Ale

AROMA: Coffee is prominent with slight vanilla undertones. No cream ale character in nose. 8/12

APPEARANCE: Amber hue, almost completely clear; CO2 visible. Small, off-white, soapy foam. 2/3

FLAVOR: Mild blonde malt flavor and sweetness. Coffee presence is noticeable throughout, but comes through strong on the finish. More of a roasted coffee taste than any kind of sweet iced coffee flavor. No hop character. Nothing to the palette indicative of a cream ale; seems closer to a generic blonde. Flavors are repetitive but satisfying. 14/20

MOUTHFEEL: Medium body, though quite crisp. Not as dry in the finish as most cream ale. Coffee aftertaste lingers. ABV is much too high for the style. 3/5

OVERALL IMPRESSION: Coffee in a cream ale is an interesting concept, but the palette is rather simplistic. A sweeter, more complex recipe might work better. 6/10

TOTAL SCORE: 33/50

DISCLAIMER: The author is not a certified BJCP judge; therefore, this score sheet is not necessarily indicative of proper BJCP judging techniques and protocol. The author is grading to 2015 BJCP Guidelines in order to prepare for examination.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Samuel Adams Heaven or Helles


4.1
   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 17/20Chad9976 (1593) - Lakeland, Florida, USA - MAY 15, 2016

 
2015 BJCP Category: 7C Pale Kellerbier

AROMA: Moderate spicy hops and honey-like malt. Faint DMS (acceptable). Touch of citrus, too. 9/12

APPEARANCE: Washed-out gold; quite hazy but effervescence is easy to see. Large, white, foamy head; excellent lacing. /3

FLAVOR: Grainy sweet profile overall. Slight honey and cracker flavor. Hop bitterness is more than moderate with prominent spicy flavor. Some lemon pith on the finish. Faint diacetyl (acceptable) seems to tie the flavors together. 17/20

MOUTHFEEL: More crisp than creamy, though not as bubbly as a pilsner. Smooth and refreshing with slight lemony aftertaste. ABV seems a tad high, but is easily sessionable. 4/5

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 8/10

TOTAL SCORE: This is actually to-spec on nearly every point. Surprising considering how obscure this style is and its target audience. Great summer beer but should be in cans. 41/50

DISCLAIMER: The author is not a certified BJCP judge; therefore, this score sheet is not necessarily indicative of proper BJCP judging techniques and protocol. The author is grading to 2015 BJCP Guidelines in order to prepare for examination.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Samuel Adams Got To Gose


2.4
   AROMA 4/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 4/10   PALATE 2/5   OVERALL 10/20Chad9976 (1592) - Lakeland, Florida, USA - MAY 14, 2016

 
2015 BJCP Category: 27 Historical Beer: Gose

AROMA: Faint sea breeze, little else. 5/12

APPEARANCE: Lager-like golden hue; mostly clear. Large, brilliant froth; excellent lacing. /3

FLAVOR: Wheat base is evident throughout. Salt lingers in the background. Cucumber on the finish; coriander in the aftertaste. Almost no tartness and no sourness whatsoever. Not accurate reflection of style guidelines. 9/20

MOUTHFEEL: Surprisingly heavy body for the style. Crisp, but not refreshing. Starchy aftertaste. Easy to drink, but not to style. 2/5

OVERALL IMPRESSION: A poor representation of the style. Might be fine for outsiders not ready for the taste of a true gose. 5/10

TOTAL SCORE: 24/50

DISCLAIMER: The author is not a certified BJCP judge; therefore, this score sheet is not necessarily indicative of proper BJCP judging techniques and protocol. The author is grading to 2015 BJCP Guidelines in order to prepare for examination.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Fat Head's Head Hunter IPA


4.3
   AROMA 9/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 17/20Chad9976 (1591) - Lakeland, Florida, USA - MAY 12, 2016

 
2015 BJCP Category: 21A American IPA

AROMA: Fairly strong aroma of citrus and melon. Clean, bright scent with slight tea leaves or pine needles. 10/12

APPEARANCE: Orange proper hue; quite cloudy but carbonation is visible. Average, off-white, foamy head. Good retention and lacing. 2/3

FLAVOR: Intense dank bitterness. Delectable combination of fruit juice concentrate, bitter citrus pith and some pine/green tea on the finish. Malt is strong enough to offer balance, but is not sweet or distinguishable. 17/20

MOUTHFEEL: Medium body; crisp and well carbonated. Alcohol is subtle and slightly warming but tolerable. Dry, slightly astringent aftertaste. 4/5

OVERALL IMPRESSION: A standard IPA that goes above and beyond. Palette is a bit familiar, but execution is impressive. 9/10

TOTAL SCORE: 43/50

DISCLAIMER: The author is not a certified BJCP judge; therefore, this score sheet is not necessarily indicative of proper BJCP judging techniques and protocol. The author is grading to 2015 BJCP Guidelines in order to prepare for examination.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Orange Blossom Pilsner


1.8
   AROMA 4/10   APPEARANCE 2/5   TASTE 4/10   PALATE 2/5   OVERALL 6/20Chad9976 (1590) - Lakeland, Florida, USA - MAY 11, 2016.

 
2015 BJCP Category: 31B Alternative Sugar Beer

AROMA: Mild nose of light grain and some honey. Slightly sweet, but otherwise odorless. 5/12

APPEARANCE: Beautiful orange color with crystal clarity. Effervescent when first poured, but goes flat quickly. Head fizzles away like a soda. No lacing. 1/3

FLAVOR: Does not seem like a pilsner at all. More of an amber ale. Missing the body of a lager. Honey flavor is evident, but tastes like cough syrup. No hop character. Palette is barely tolerable. 7/20

MOUTHFEEL: Not at all crisp as a pilsner should be. Completely tepid, slightly thick. Texture is at least smooth and finish is mostly clean. 2/5

OVERALL IMPRESSION: Tastes and drinks like an old can, but it’s actually quite fresh. This is nowhere close to a pilsner and completely lacking in character. Seems like failed homebrew, not a commercial product. 3/10

TOTAL SCORE: 18/50

DISCLAIMER: The author is not a certified BJCP judge; therefore, this score sheet is not necessarily indicative of proper BJCP judging techniques and protocol. The author is grading to 2015 BJCP Guidelines in order to prepare for examination.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Sierra Nevada Beer Camp Tropical IPA


4
   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 16/20Chad9976 (1589) - Lakeland, Florida, USA - MAY 10, 2016

 
2015 BJCP Category: 21A American IPA

AROMA: Tropical fruit juice, grapefruit, candy, flowers. 10/12

APPEARANCE: Glowing orange hue; hazy body. Large white foam. Good retention and lacing. 2/3

FLAVOR: Tropical and citrusy fruit throughout. Bitterness is strong, but not overdone. Orange and grapefruit are most noticeable. Slight grassy/spicy character on finish. Malt character is nondescript. 15/20

MOUTHFEEL: Medium body, well carbonated. Some astringency on finish, but tolerable. No alcohol presence whatsoever. 4/5

OVERALL IMPRESSION: Absolutely to-spec for style; I’d expect nothing less from Sierra Nevada. 8/10

TOTAL SCORE: 40/50

DISCLAIMER: The author is not a certified BJCP judge; therefore, this score sheet is not necessarily indicative of proper BJCP judging techniques and protocol. The author is grading to 2015 BJCP Guidelines in order to prepare for examination.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Weihenstephaner Vitus


4.6
   AROMA 9/10   APPEARANCE 5/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 18/20Chad9976 (1588) - Lakeland, Florida, USA - MAY 9, 2016

 
2015 BJCP Category: 10C Weizenbock

AROMA: Sweet fresh banana bread and lemon fruit. Subtle clove spice. Very pungent and enticing. 11/12

APPEARANCE: Lemony yellow; cloudy but plenty of clarity. Effervescence easily visible. Large, white, fluffy foam. Excellent retention and lacing. 3/3

FLAVOR: Strong bready flavor; blonde and amber grains. Esters impart sweet banana and bubblegum flavors. Lemon flavor is quite prominent, too. Clove is subtle, but makes a nice garnish. Delicious. 18/20

MOUTHFEEL: Medium body suggests a lighter ABV. Bubbly but smooth. Dry/clean aftertaste. Very minor alcohol presence. Refreshing. 5/5

OVERALL IMPRESSION: An amazing, near-perfect brew and a premiere example of the style. A sleeper in beer stores everywhere. 9/10

TOTAL SCORE: 46/50

DISCLAIMER: The author is not a certified BJCP judge; therefore, this score sheet is not necessarily indicative of proper BJCP judging techniques and protocol. The author is grading to 2015 BJCP Guidelines in order to prepare for examination.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale


2.8
   AROMA 6/10   APPEARANCE 2/5   TASTE 6/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 11/20Chad9976 (1587) - Lakeland, Florida, USA - MAY 8, 2016


2015 BJCP Category: 33B Specialty Wood-Aged Beer (base style: 22B American Strong Ale)

AROMA: Moderate bourbon aroma, though slightly buttery. Some dank resiny hops. 8/12

APPEARANCE: Deep amber, slightly hazy. Small, off-beige head. Poor lacing and retention. 2/3

FLAVOR: General amber malt base. Some sweetness but not a sweet brew per se. Some red apple flavor, but not cider-like tartness. Bourbon/woody flavor emerges on finish for mild vanilla sensation. Faint butterscotch. Becomes astringent as it warms. 12/20

MOUTHFEEL: Medium body; slightly crisp. Surprisingly clean finish. Alcohol presence is minor. 3/5

OVERALL IMPRESSION: Quite boring considering what it’s supposed to be. No complexity, little bourbon flavor. Seems to be a macro product masquerading as a limited release barrel brew. 5/10

TOTAL SCORE: 28/50

DISCLAIMER: The author is not a certified BJCP judge; therefore, this score sheet is not necessarily indicative of proper BJCP judging techniques and protocol. The author is grading to 2015 BJCP Guidelines in order to prepare for examination.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Barley Mow Quackalope IPA


2.8
   AROMA 5/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 6/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 11/20Chad9976 (1586) - Lakeland, Florida, USA - MAY 7, 2016

 
2015 BJCP Category: 21A American IPA

AROMA: Mild nose of flowers and some candy or citrus peel. 7/12

APPEARANCE: Dark amber, extremely hazy. Small white frothy head. Good lacing. 2/3

FLAVOR: Moderate hop flavor, mostly general bitterness. slightly dry. Minor citrus and pine flavor. Strong malt presence. Tastes more like a pale ale than an IPA. 12/20

MOUTHFEEL: Medium/light body; well carbonated. Smooth texture. Alcohol warmth is subtle. Dry, slightly sour aftertaste. 3/5

OVERALL IMPRESSION: Likely an old can. Hops have faded and slight sourness is noticeable. 5/10

TOTAL SCORE: 26/50

DISCLAIMER: The author is not a certified BJCP judge; therefore, this score sheet is not necessarily indicative of proper BJCP judging techniques and protocol. The author is grading to 2015 BJCP Guidelines in order to prepare for examination.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Funky Buddha Hop Stimulator

4
   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 16/20
Chad9976 (1585) - Lakeland, Florida, USA - MAY 6, 2016

 
2015 BJCP Category: 22A Double IPA

AROMA: Strong resinous aroma with tropical fruit juice concentrate and some grassiness. 10/12

APPEARANCE: Deep maize/pale orange. Hazy but translucent. Small, white, froth. Average lacing. 2/3

FLAVOR: Intensely hoppy but in terms of flavor more than raw bitterness (though it is plenty bitter). Tasty mix of juice concentrate and dank piney/resin flavor. Some orange marmalade character throughout, though not especially sweet or malty. 16/20

MOUTHFEEL: Medium+ body. Not quite sticky and viscous thanks to appropriate CO2. Hops linger and leave a drying sensation. Alcohol warmth is noticeable but not annoying. 4/5

OVERALL IMPRESSION: Solid, to-spec and exactly what you expect and want in the style. It has a familiar palette, though, and doesn’t break any new ground. One of the best Florida DIPAs I can recall having. 8/10

TOTAL SCORE: 40/50

DISCLAIMER: The author is not a certified BJCP judge; therefore, this score sheet is not necessarily indicative of proper BJCP judging techniques and protocol. The author is grading to 2015 BJCP Guidelines in order to prepare for examination.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Highland IPA

3.5
   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 14/20
Chad9976 (1584) - Lakeland, Florida, USA - MAY 4, 2016


2015 BJCP Category: 21A American IPA

AROMA: Bright fruity aroma, esp berry and citrus. Some candy scent. Slight resin. 10/12

APPEARANCE: Deep amber. Hazy with visible CO2. Bright white fluffy foam. Average lacing. 2/3

FLAVOR: Bitter right out the gate. Flavor is of citrus pith on first half and becomes slightly piney on finish. Dry bitterness throughout. Malt character is unremarkable. Slight tea flavor (tannins?). 14/20

MOUTHFEEL: Medium body. Smooth texture. Average carbonation. Astringent aftertaste. No alcohol warmth. 3/5

OVERALL IMPRESSION: By-the-book, no frills American IPA. Probably better fresh but has held up well. Needs more genuine hop flavor rather than raw bitterness. 7/10

TOTAL SCORE: 36/50

DISCLAIMER: The author is not a certified BJCP judge; therefore, this score sheet is not necessarily indicative of proper BJCP judging techniques and protocol. The author is grading to 2015 BJCP Guidelines in order to prepare for examination.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Dogfish Head Beer To Drink Music To

4
   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 16/20
Chad9976 (1583) - Orlando, Florida, USA - APR 25, 2016


2015 BJCP Category: 26C Belgian Tripel

AROMA: Fruity esters; floral bouquet; some sweet orangepeel. Slightly mild nose. 9/12

APPEARANCE: Dark amber/orange proper color. Mostly clear with slow CO2. Small, off-white, foamy head. 2/3

FLAVOR: Palette of Christmas spices. Orangepeel, cardamom and slight clove/pepper notes. Spices enhance the natural yeast esters. Moderately bitter; hops are overshadowed by spices. Well-balanced and delectable palette. 17/20

MOUTHFEEL: Medium body; CO2 is a little light. Crisp finish. Clean aftertaste. Mild alcohol warmth. 4/5

OVERALL IMPRESSION: Probably a violation of the guidelines, but not to the extent of being wildly out of place. Very tasty and fun to drink. 8/10

TOTAL SCORE: 40/50

DISCLAIMER: The author is not a certified BJCP judge; therefore, this score sheet is not necessarily indicative of proper BJCP judging techniques and protocol. The author is grading to 2015 BJCP Guidelines in order to prepare for examination.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Stone/Dogfish Head/Victory Saison du BUFF (2016 edition)


4
   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 16/20Chad9976 (1582) - Orlando, Florida, USA - APR 24, 2016

 
2015 BJCP Category: 25B Saison

AROMA: Strong spicy/herbal aroma. Additives probably a bit too strong per guidelines. Citrusy hops. No malt character. 9/12

APPEARANCE: Amber/pale orange hue. Cloudy but translucent; Co2 visible. Large, white, frothy head; very good lacing. 3/3

FLAVOR: Dry spicy bitterness immediately. Akin to rye. Soft malt character at palette’s base. Orange-tasting hops come through at apex. Finish is a melange of spices: parsley, sage, rosemary and lemon thyme. Spices are probably a bit too strong per guidelines, but still quite enjoyable. 16/20

MOUTHFEEL: Medium+ body; crisp and consistently effervescent. Finish is mostly dry with some spicy/citrusy aftertaste. No alcohol presence. Not refreshing but easy to drink. 4/5

OVERALL IMPRESSION: A delectable, unique and fun beer. May be a bit too unconventional for the style (would score even higher in 30A). 8/10

TOTAL SCORE: 40/50

DISCLAIMER: The author is not a certified BJCP judge; therefore, this score sheet is not necessarily indicative of proper BJCP judging techniques and protocol. The author is grading to 2015 BJCP Guidelines in order to prepare for examination. 
NOTE: Read and watch my review of the 2012 Dogfish Head-brewed edition here: http://www.chadzbeerreviews.com/2012/04/dogfish-head-saison-du-buff-chadz-beer.html

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Alewerks Coffeehouse Stout


2.5
   AROMA 5/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 4/10   PALATE 2/5   OVERALL 11/20Chad9976 (1581) - Orlando, Florida, USA - APR 23, 2016

 
2015 BJCP Category: 16A Sweet Stout

AROMA: Dark malt, some lactose sugar. No deeply roasted malt or coffee. Mild nose overall. 7/12

APPEARANCE: Dark black, seemingly opaque. Brown foam almost completely dissipates. 2/3

FLAVOR: A general dark maltiness. Slight sweet, almost cola flavor from the lactose. No distinct hop presence. Coffee is mostly faded. Metallic flavor on the finish. 10/20

MOUTHFEEL: Fairly light body; low carbonation. Feels like flat soda. Clean finish. 2/5

OVERALL IMPRESSION: Bottle was almost six months old which explains the weak palette and body. Probably good fresh. 4/10

TOTAL SCORE: 25/50

DISCLAIMER: The author is not a certified BJCP judge; therefore, this score sheet is not necessarily indicative of proper BJCP judging techniques and protocol. The author is grading to 2015 BJCP Guidelines in order to prepare for examination.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Why do some craft beer enthusiasts have no chill?



I first got on the Internet way back in the mid-1990s during the heydays of AOL (remember that?). I even started what we would now call a blog through the members.aol.com/yourusernamehere portal wherein I reviewed movies. It wasn’t to make money or to become famous or score free movie tickets, I just did it because I liked it – the same reason I review beer now. I would soon realize just how sociopathic some people could be on the Internet when someone so vehemently disagreed with my review of a movie that he actually said it’s too bad my mom couldn’t have afforded an abortion.

Wow.

It’s been 20 years since that happened, but I’ve never forgotten that comment because it was the first time I had ever been trolled. I’ve grown extremely thick-skinned over the last two decades, though I must admit I’m still a little surprised and a little disturbed when I see malicious comments on my beer reviews of that extent. Or worse, when people talk about me thinking they’re saying it behind my back. I don’t know how they can be dumb enough to think there’s any privacy or anonymity on the Internet, especially in recent years when the government has openly admitted it’s spying on us. 

Reddit, Facebook groups, forums, comment sections, etc.; these are anything but private and/or anonymous despite any avatar or codename you use. Other people absolutely will take a screen shot of the stupid (and possibly illegal) stuff you write and show it to someone you didn’t want seeing it. Also, many people you think are your friends will rat you out without much provocation.

I don’t know what it is about beer that makes people act this way. I don’t think you can blame it on alcohol simply lowering inhibitions and causing recklessness. If it was that simple, people wouldn’t be nearly as competent at spelling, grammar, or even be able to string together sentences as well as they do (relatively speaking). It’s just something about beer that turns people into self-righteous pricks who don’t tolerate dissent or other viewpoints. 

So where does this overall lack of chill come from? My theory is that it has something to do with the Dunning-Kruger Effect. I hate to condense an academic theorem down to one paragraph, but for the sake of brevity here goes: 

The Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which relatively unskilled persons suffer illusory superiority, mistakenly assessing their ability to be much higher than it really is. Dunning and Kruger attributed this bias to a metacognitive inability of the unskilled to recognize their own ineptitude and evaluate their own ability accurately. Their research also suggests corollaries: highly skilled individuals may underestimate their relative competence and may erroneously assume that tasks which are easy for them are also easy for others.

Image credit: Vsauce (with my modification)

YouTuber “Vsauce” explains it pretty well in this video:
https://youtu.be/JTvcpdfGUtQ?t=8m49s

Now that we’re all experts on this theory (just kidding), let’s apply it to the beer realm. Do you notice how people on the left side of the chart tend to have no chill while people in the middle are plenty chill? Those towards the left are, on average, people who are fairly new to beer and are probably the most excited and enthralled by it. These tend to be the people spending their paychecks to get “whales” like Heady Topper, Pliny The Elder, Westvleteren 12, etc.  They’re also most likely to be the ones leaving snarky comments on beer blogs and other articles about how the writer doesn’t know what they’re talking about or pointing out every mistake no matter how benign they may be. They’re also more likely to be snobbish dicks whereby they argue that their sense of taste is factual and superior. 

There is a well-known troll in the craft beer world called Red Rooster who has been stuck, in my opinion, on the left side of the spectrum for years. As far back as 2009 he would leave the most vile, disgusting comments on my video and text reviews. He would call me every name in the book because I either had the incorrect opinion on a beer, or I had the correct opinion but for the wrong reasons. He inspired me to make this video lampooning him and everyone like him who believes taste is objective and that it’s their job to correct, or even destroy, anyone whose opinion and level of knowledge differs from their own:


Trolls with the passion and sociopathic nature of RR are quite rare, but they do exist. Some of the people I’m thinking of are somewhat legitimate beer bloggers, but almost everything they write is negative, myopic, and condescending. They’re essentially bullies who actually have a following of like-minded sadists who think it’s funny to go around mocking fellow enthusiasts for no real reason. Maybe it’s because people like me aren’t as cool as them, or we embrace our dorkiness/awkwardness and admit our ignorance. But I can’t tell if their followers genuinely think these trolls are funny satirists*, or if they’re threatened and insecure, or just have some kind of behavioral disorder like Autism or Asperger’s and band together as some kind of veritable support group.

Here’s one of my favorite quotes that may help explain this phenomenon:
Remember, misery is comfortable. It's why so many people prefer it. Happiness takes effort.
Also, courage. It's incredibly comforting to know that as long as you don't create anything in your life, then nobody can attack the thing you created.
It's so much easier to just sit back and criticize other people's creations. This movie is stupid. That couple's kids are brats. That other couple's relationship is a mess. That rich guy is shallow. This restaurant sucks. This Internet writer is an asshole. I'd better leave a mean comment demanding that the website fire him. See, I created something.
Oh, wait, did I forget to mention that part? Yeah, whatever you try to build or create -- be it a poem, or a new skill, or a new relationship -- you will find yourself immediately surrounded by non-creators who trash it. Maybe not to your face, but they'll do it. Your drunk friends do not want you to get sober. Your fat friends do not want you to start a fitness regimen. Your jobless friends do not want to see you embark on a career.
Just remember, they're only expressing their own fear, since trashing other people's work is another excuse to do nothing. "Why should I create anything when the things other people create suck? I would totally have written a novel by now, but I'm going to wait for something good, I don't want to write the next Twilight!" As long as they never produce anything, their work will forever be perfect and beyond reproach. Or if they do produce something, they'll make sure they do it with detached irony. They'll make it intentionally bad to make it clear to everyone else that this isn't their real effort. Their real effort would have been amazing. Not like the shit you made.
Source: “6 Harsh Truths That Will Make You A Better Person” by Jason Pargin (A.K.A. “David Wong”)

Looking at the Dunning-Kruger chart, you’ll notice that as a person’s knowledge of a subject increases their confidence at first drops, then rises eventually, but never to the point of those on the left (that’s the theory, anyway). That’s not to say experts can’t be arrogant, though. Most commercial brewers and other beer industry professionals I know tend to be pretty laid back and don’t waste much time or effort worrying about what noobs and outsiders think of their beers and/or their company. Their job is to make products that sell, not to cater to the hoity-toity snobs of the world. However, there are still plenty of experts who are just as stuck up as the blissfully ignorant. And I don’t mean strictly pro brewers; restauranteurs, bartenders, sales reps, bottleshop proprietors, etc., can be just as bad. Some of the stories I’ve heard from these people would make your jaw drop, not because of the subject matter, but because of their holier-than-thou attitude. They remind me of the character Randall from the movie Clerks: someone who despises and berates their customers but will gladly take their money.

So is there anything we can do to inject more chill into the craft beer community? I think there is, and I think it’s a rather simple approach. We just need to make our fellow enthusiasts aware that the Dunning-Kruger Effect is a legitimate, academic theory. When I first heard about it, it blew my mind and I realized just how pompous I had been about beer when I first got into it. I’d imagine a lot of people who have at least some intelligence will have a similar reaction when it’s presented to them. Not that I think it’s a magic bullet cure; but rather a tool to combat both arrogance and ignorance. It’s also applicable to pretty much all of life, not just beer.


*The only genuine beer satirist I know of that gets the joke and mocks these people brilliantly is Don’t Drink Beer.

That's all I'm trying to say.
RECOMMENDED READING:
Drink What You Love; Don't Be a Dick! By Brett Vanderbrook

Why are beer people so outraged? by Kate Bernot