Monday, April 25, 2016

Dogfish Head Beer To Drink Music To

   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


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)

   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


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:

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Alewerks Coffeehouse Stout

   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


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 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.


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:

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.
Drink What You Love; Don't Be a Dick! By Brett Vanderbrook

Why are beer people so outraged? by Kate Bernot

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Weihenstephaner 1516 Kellerbier

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 15/20Chad9976 (1580) - Orlando, Florida, USA - APR 21, 2016

2015 BJCP Category: 7C Kellerbier (thanks to Jim for this bottle!)

AROMA: Low/medium spicy hops. Grainy sweet. Some green apple (not a flaw). 8/12

APPEARANCE: High haze pale gold hue. Creamy white head. Good retention and lacing. 2/3

FLAVOR: Moderately malty; grainy sweet (but light). Some butterscotch on the finish (low diacetyl not a flaw). Mild spicy hops on the apex and finish. Authentic pilsner malt flavor. 15/20

MOUTHFEEL: Light/medium body and CO2. Creamy texture. Slightly malty aftertaste, otherwise clean. Refreshing while in the mouth. 4/5

OVERALL IMPRESSION: Definitely to spec in all aspects. Not an amazing beer per se, but a nice one. Good summer brew; should be packaged in cans not bottles. 8/10


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, April 20, 2016

Lagunitas CitruSinensis Pale Ale

   AROMA 9/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 17/20Chad9976 (1579) - Orlando, Florida, USA - APR 20, 2016

2015 BJCP Category: 18B American Pale Ale (thanks to Jim for this bottle!)

AROMA: Strong citrusy hop aroma, especially orange and grapefruit. IPA-level hoppiness in the nose. No malt presence. Clean and bright. 10/12

APPEARANCE: Dark gold to amber proper hue. Mostly clear but particulates float in suspension. Average, white, foamy head. Good retention and lacing. 2/3

FLAVOR: Strong bitterness right away. Citrusy hop flavor is quite strong with some grassy notes on the second half and aftertaste. Some blood orange taste comes through at the end. Base malt is mostly nondeScript. General amber/blonde character but not especially sweet. IBUs probably too high for the style, but otherwise enjoyable. 16/20

MOUTHFEEL: Medium+ body. Fairly crisp. Some lingering bitterness, but it’s tolerable. No alcohol warmth. Feels lighter than the ABV. 5/5

OVERALL IMPRESSION: Interesting and impressive brew: an imperial pale ale with blood orange juice. Hoppy and bitter enough to be considered a standard IPA. Not fruity enough to be a fruit beer proper. 8/10

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, April 19, 2016

Victory Prima Pils (2016 re-review)

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 16/20Chad9976 (1578) - Orlando, Florida, USA - APR 19, 2016

2015 BJCP Category: 5D German Pils (thanks to Jim for this bottle!)

AROMA: Spicy, slightly piney hops. Lightly sweet malt character akin to crackers. 10/12

APPEARANCE: Darker gold color; clear and effervescent. Average, white, foamy head. Good retention and lacing. 3/3

FLAVOR: More bitter than most of the style. Strong spicy hop flavor with some piney/resiny character in the finish. Malt is light and blonde with some graham cracker taste in the background. 17/20

MOUTHFEEL: Medium/light body; consistently crisp. Refreshing while in the mouth, but hops linger with a dry, starchy sensation. 4/5

OVERALL IMPRESSION: Rare to see an American brew this to-spec for the style. Would be better in cans rather than bottles. 8/10


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: Check out my 2011 original review here:

Monday, April 18, 2016

Alewerks Washington's Porter

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 2/5   TASTE 6/10   PALATE 2/5   OVERALL 11/20Chad9976 (1578) - Orlando, Florida, USA - APR 18, 2016

2015 BJCP Category: 20A American Porter (thanks to Sacha and Mary for this bottle!)

AROMA: Dark malt, some milk chocolate, dark fruity esters. 9/12

APPEARANCE: Opaque black proper, no highlights. Small tan head evaporates quickly. 1/3

FLAVOR: Mostly standard porter palette. Some dark malt; cola-like taste. Lightly sweet. Faint roasted malt. No fruit flavor. Slight metallic tang. 12/20

MOUTHFEEL: Light/medium body. Mouthfeel is noticeably thin. Clean finish. 2/5

OVERALL IMPRESSION: Most likely this is an old bottle as it has all the makings of a traditional porter, just in restrained quantities. 5/10


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.

Vineyards of the World knows how to host a good bottle share

One the best things about being a beer and food enthusiast is that once in a while you’ll discover a venue with a fantastic selection and atmosphere in a place you wouldn’t normally expect it. Vineyards of the World out in Clermont is one of those places. It’s what a true bistro should be: small, quaint, intimate, and a gathering place for locals and regulars. Though wine is their specialty, the owners are big into beer and even have a club wherein members’ unique beer purchases are chronicled. Yesterday, they hosted their first bottle share and I was there to partake in the festivities.

Vineyards of the World: 712 West Montrose Street in Clermont
Vineyards of the World: 712 West Montrose Street in Clermont

If you’ve never been a bottle share, I highly recommend seeking one out or even hosting your own. In fact, I contributed to a book that explains it all: How To Host a Beer Tasting Party In Your Own Home: A Complete Kit (plug plug, wink wink). These events are great for people who are new in town to meet fellow beer enthusiasts and/or homebrewers, and make new friends (or at least drinking buddies). Also, you’ll probably get to try many beers you may never heard of before, or those that are too pricey and/or boozy to buy and drink solo.

bottleshare (29)

It’s not often you see these events hosted at bars, but it makes perfect sense in a cozy spot like Vineyards of the World. The owners, Sacha and Mary (pictured below), are fostering a close-knit community of snobs true grape and growler aficionados. Though they do serve charcuterie and tapas, the venue is not a restaurant per se. I got to try a warm Bavarian pretzel and two sausages; it definitely had an authentic taste to it as the sausage was sweet like a breakfast link and the pretzel was soft and salty along with a spicy mustard dipping sauce. They also provided several cheeses; a few creamy mild bries and a thick, soft, musty bleu. I’m a big fan of beer and cheese pairings, but I’m no cheese expert, so I’ll just link to some articles on beer and cheese pairings. Anyway, on to the beer discussion.

Sacha and Mary

As you may know, I moved to Florida from upstate New York a few months ago, so I’ve been trying plenty of beers that I wasn’t able to get back home. Not surprisingly, many of the bottles at this event were suds I had never seen or even heard of before. On the one hand it’s always fun to try new things, but on the other hand it’s a gamble as to how the quality will be. Here’s a rundown of the lineup:

bottleshare (7)Juliet (2015) by Goose Island Beer Co.: You know you’re at a bottle share for veterans when the first beer of the day is a fairly rare and expensive sour (or any sour for that matter). Beers of this style are acquired tastes for sure; most people tend to love them or hate them. Juliet was one of the strongest sours I can recall having, though I will say it was better than I thought it would be. Not as good as some of Russian River’s wild ale series, but pretty good considering it’s an Anheuser-Busch/InBev product.

Naughty Nellie by The Pike Brewing Company: There was no freshness date on the bottle that I could see, but most likely the bottle was old as it tasted of sherry, cardboard and tea: classic indications of oxidation. No one seemed to like it, though no one hated it either.

The 1759 by Guinness: Yes, Guinness makes more than just the one beer. This is a rather bizarre product, though. It’s an imperial amber ale made with peated whisky malt. It was smoky and astringent with some sweetness, but the flavors seemed to clash. Why they didn’t just make a classic Scotch Ale/Wee Heavy I don’t know. You’d never peg this as a Guinness brew if you didn’t see the label. I didn’t like it, but several people among the group did.

Tango by Weyerbacher Brewing Company: I was hoping this was going to be on par with some of Ommegang’s fruit beers. After all, it’s a beastly 10.6% ABV brew with cherries. I found it to drink like a “standard” Belgian strong dark ale, but I couldn’t really detect the fruit within. Probably not a good beer to follow the previous smoky brew, though the consensus seemed to be an enthusiastic thumbs up for this bottle.

Rapadou Porter by Alewerks Brewing Company: Sacha and Mary said they are big fans of the Virginia-based Alewerks brewery and that this is one of their better brews. It was a thick, sticky, sweet concoction of treacle, caramel and coffee. Borderline cloying, but still pretty enjoyable. I could see this being a great dessert beer paired with cheesecake.

bottleshare (13)Samuel Adams Stony Brook Red by Boston Beer Company: Every bottle share I’ve been to there’s always that one beer I roll my eyes at and then end up liking a lot. That’s exactly what happened with this beer, as it turned out to be a traditional, to-spec Flanders Red Ale. A delicious mix of sour, tartness, and a woody character. I know this beer has been around for years, and I’ll bet it’s sitting on shelves nationwide being ignored by beer nerds. I’d recommend picking up a bottle because you’ll probably be pleasantly surprised and it won’t cost as much as a Cantillon.

Vintage Ale (2005) by Fuller, Smith & Turner: British old ales and barleywines are some of my favorite beers of all time. Much like the previous beer, this is another bottle that tends to get overlooked at bottle shops since it’s usually pricey. In fact, this bottle cost £15 in England according to James – the guy that brought it. I have had this brew fresh, in fact, the 2014 vintage made my Top 10 Beers of 2015 list. But that bottle was only a year old at the time and this was well over a decade old. Thankfully, there was no obvious signs of oxidation, though I found the palette had mellowed a little too well. Notes of tobacco, light caramel and perhaps some vanilla were present and quite enjoyable. Everyone in the group liked this and it was actually voted best beer of the day when we wrapped up.

bottleshare (17)Rodenbach Grand Cru (2011) by Brouwerij Rodenbach: This was the third sour of the day and another obscure, rare vintage ale. It was probably just as sour as the Juliet, but had a softer edge to it as it didn’t burn the throat or the sinuses as was the case with the Goose Island beer. There’s a reason these bottles are expensive and difficult to come by, but there’s also a reason this beer is so highly acclaimed. Best beer of the lineup for me.

Morning Glow by Swamp Head Brewery: At only 5.3% ABV, this was the lightest beer that was shared. Described as a “vanilla coffee blonde ale” it only seemed to be half accurate. I got a little coffee on the first sip, but none after. The vanilla was authentic and quite present on the finish, though the actual base brew was a little meh.

DevESTATEtion (2013) by Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.: This is a fairly strong (6.7%) Black IPA that was a limited release at the time. Though a fine beer, I don’t know why someone cellared this as the hops had faded and it was clearly oxidized. Cellaring beer should only be done if there’s something to gain from the age; it works best for strong Belgians, sours, and barleywines.

bottleshare (20)The Walking Dead by Terrapin Beer Co. : As a fan of both The Walking Dead (the comic book more than the TV show) and Terrapin brewery, I was really looking forward to trying this. Marketed as a “Blood Orange IPA” it was the only really hoppy beer of the day, but wasn’t the hop bomb I was hoping for. I didn’t get any blood orange quality at all (I’ve noticed that in several other similar brews lately). As red IPA it’s fine and maybe my palate was just a little too fatigued at the time to appreciate it. I would definitely review a standalone (preferably fresh) bottle on a clean palate sometime.

bottleshare (22)Catherine’s Passion by Swamp Head Brewery: I haven’t had a true, to-spec Russian Imperial Stout in a long time, so this was a nice reprieve. Full-bodied with robust caramel, chocolate and coffee notes. The alcohol was prominent, but not distracting. At almost 11% alcohol I’m glad I had just an ounce or two.

Three Philosophers by Brewery Ommegang: I’ve had this beer many times over the years and it’s always been a great, enjoyable brew. However, it loses a little something when drank as the finale of a three-hour-long bottle share. Instead of being excellent it was merely a very good Belgian quad. My tongue was a little too saturated to detect the cherry, but the classic Belgian character was certainly there and enjoyable.

Bottle shares like this are going to take place at Vineyards of the World on the third Sunday of the month starting around 2pm (after the farmer’s market on the street wraps up). Even though it’s a 30-40 minute drive from Orlando, I’d recommend making the trip. If I lived in Clermont, I’d be a regular here for sure.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Sweetwater Blue

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 2/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 14/20Chad9976 (1577) - Orlando, Florida, USA - APR 16, 2016

2015 BJCP Category: 29A Fruit Beer

AROMA: Authentic blueberry aroma. Sweet but not cloying. Some wheat presence. 9/12

APPEARANCE: Golden, mostly clear. White soapy head fades quickly. 1/3

FLAVOR: Familiar blueberry wheat ale palette, though more authentic-tasting than most. Wheat composition is noticeable; slight cracker flavor. Blueberry emerges on finish for sweetness, though slight dry bitterness is also present. Enjoyable for non-fauxness. 14/20

MOUTHFEEL: Light, crisp and refreshing with little to no aftertaste. Ideal summer beer, but should be in a can rather than bottle. 4/5

OVERALL IMPRESSION: A little more authentic than most fruity wheat beers. Impressive considering the low ABV. Overtly pedestrian but forgivable. 7/10


Friday, April 15, 2016

NGB Gluten Free Lager

   AROMA 3/10   APPEARANCE 1/5   TASTE 3/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 8/20Chad9976 (1576) - Orlando, Florida, USA - APR 15, 2016

2015 BJCP Category: 31A Alternative Grain Beer

AROMA: Almost completely odorless. The faintest lager-like aroma. 4/12

APPEARANCE: Clear gold; highly carbonated. White head fizzles away quickly like a soda. Looks like a cider. 1/3

FLAVOR: Borderline flavor-free. Some generic lager taste, though sorghum twang/grit presence is noticeable. Some apple juice character (acetaldehyde?). Not repulsive, but extremely lacking in palette. 7/20

MOUTHFEEL: Thin, crisp, watery texture. Clean finish. 3/5

OVERALL IMPRESSION: Not as twangy as much sorghum-based brews, but it has nothing going for it at all. Bottle was 5 months old. 3/10

 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, April 14, 2016

Tripel Karmeliet

   AROMA 9/10   APPEARANCE 5/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 18/20Chad9976 (1575) - Orlando, Florida, USA - APR 14, 2016

2015 BJCP Category: 26C Belgian Tripel

AROMA: Pungent fruit and spice. Green apple, banana, flowers, clove, black pepper. 10/12

APPEARANCE: Deep gold; slightly hazy; CO2 visible. Large, white, foamy head. 3/3

FLAVOR: Spicy tingly sensation immediate. Peppercorn and alcohol first followed by blonde/pale malt. Lemonpeel, banana, melon and green pear on second half. Spicy sensation on finish. Delicious. 17/20

MOUTHFEEL: Medium/full body. Highly effervescent. Dry finish. Some alcohol warmth complements palette. Refreshing and crisp. 5/5

OVERALL IMPRESSION: Classic example in every facet. Delectable and enjoyable drinking experience. 9/10

 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, April 12, 2016

Sweetwater IPA

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 16/20Chad9976 (1574) - Orlando, Florida, USA - APR 12, 2016

2015 BJCP Category: 21A American IPA

AROMA: Clean, bright, floral, citrus peel, powdered candy. Some grassiness. 10/12

APPEARANCE: Amber hue, cloudy but transparent. Large eggshell froth. Good lacing and retention. 3/3

FLAVOR: Lovely combination of melon, citrus, and Sweet Tarts candy. Bitterness is milder than most of the style (though bottle was old). Medium/low malt character - slight honey/blonde grain. Well balanced. 15/20

MOUTHFEEL: Medium/light body and CO2. Smooth texture and finish. No alcohol presence. Finishes maybe a little too clean. 3/5

OVERALL IMPRESSION: To style in every category. A fresh bottle would probably score even higher. Impressive for what it is. 8/10

 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 10, 2016

Sea Dog Brewing in Orlando is a tourist trap brewpub

The Orlando area has plenty of brewpubs and microbreweries scattered around town, but one everybody seems to forget about (or ignore) is Sea Dog Brewing Company, located just outside Disney. So yeah, it’s a tourist trap within a tourist trap (which isn’t necessarily a pejorative).

Sea Dog Brewing 001

From what I understand, Sea Dog started out as an independent brewpub up in Bangor, Maine, but was acquired by Shipyard Brewing Company at some point in the 1990s. Shipyard brews all the Sea Dog offerings at their production brewery in Portland, and has opened a few Sea Dog restaurants around New England and two here in Florida. Whether each location actually brews its own beers on site is a bit of a mystery. The Orlando location has what looks like a nano brewhouse, but upon closer inspection, seems to be just a cold room for storing kegs. I didn’t see a mash/lauter tun in the room nor a boil kettle or any fermentation tanks, so I’m not sure where the suds are actually conceived. But anyway, let’s discuss the restaurant itself.

I see bright tanks, but where are the tuns and the boil kettle?
I see bright tanks, but where are the tuns and the boil kettle?

I went with my friend Maggie on a Friday night. I figured it would be packed given the time and location, but it was only at about half capacity. The atmosphere is the standard American family-friendly casual dining motif. Tons of TVs scattered about; plenty of seating both indoors and out; a clean look; and a generic menu. They’re playing it safe here, so don’t expect to see anything particularly original, interesting or bizarre on the menu (except maybe the “Lamb Lollipops”). If you want a burger, steak, salad or seafood you’re going to get the same quality here as Applebee’s or Friday’s. But this is a beer blog after all, so let’s talk about that.

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I hadn’t drank a Sea Dog or a Shipyard beer in a long time. I’ve had mixed feelings about them, but I was hoping if the beer was handcrafted on site, the local brewmaster might be able to experiment a little and the brews would be fresher than the pasteurized bottled and canned wares I’ve tried. And while the beer may have been fresh, they were not especially delectable. A flight of four 5oz samples is pretty pricey at $7 ($0.35 per ounce) and there were 18 beers listed on the menu (one was a guest cider and one was a soda), which means we would’ve had to spend $32 just to sample all 16 of them. We decided to go with eight instead. Here’s the breakdown:

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  • Blue Paw Wild Blueberry Ale: This is probably Sea Dog’s most popular beer, though I’m not sure why. Every time I’ve had a bottle or can it wasn’t very good. I was hoping this draught version would be better, but it was worse. Smells great, but tastes dirty. Maggie didn’t like it either. 2/5
  • Acai Berry Hefeweizen: There’s nothing wrong with adding fruit to a traditional hefeweizen when done right. This wasn’t bad, but wasn’t great. Maggie and I both remarked that it tastes like Vitamin Water (i.e. faux). There was a classic hefe taste of banana and clove on the finish which was nice. 3/5
  • Maple Bacon Stout: The best beer of the flight by far. Delicious milk chocolate taste with a touch of smoke on the finish. This would make a great dessert beverage. 4.25/5
  • Shipyard Export Ale: This is Shipyard’s flagship beer; a British blonde ale. If you’re familiar with the genre you’ll know what to expect. It has that pub-style mild-but-distinctive palette and Ringwood character. It’s one of the rare beers that makes proper use of that yeast. Maggie thought it was okay. I’d imagine most laymen would feel the same as it’s an acquired taste. 3.75/5
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  • Sea Dog’s Hard Root Beer: Now that every brewery is making a “hard root beer,” I’m starting to distinguish the good ones from the bad ones. This iteration was high on the wintergreen and low on the sassafras so it kinda tastes like mouthwash. I will say there’s some nice sweetness to it, but the minty character is a bit overdone. 3/5
  • No. 7 IPA: A classic East Coast style IPA made with Cascade hops to give it a very piney/resiny aroma and flavor. Has a bit of a British character as well, but isn’t the butter bomb I was worried it’d be. It’s a fine “starter IPA,” though Maggie didn’t care for it. 3.5/5
  • Black IPA: I was really looking forward to this beer since Black IPA is one of my favorite niche styles (and seems to be fading in popularity lately). It was a messy brew; an odd mixture of fruit, roasted malt, and aggressive astringent bitterness. Maggie really like this one, though, which blew my mind. 1.5/5
  • Hazelnut Porter: You’d think this would be a great combination, though I’ve yet to try a hazelnut beer of any style that’s even adequate. This tastes like burnt hazelnut extract; very coarse, overtly faux, and not really sweet at all. Maggie and I agreed this was probably the worst beer of the flight. 1.5/5
Overall, the beer was not very good and I’m not sorry we didn’t get to try all 16. I could see some of these brews appealing to the non-beer enthusiast (especially the lighter beers), but beer geeks will probably be disappointed by the lineup.

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As for the food, it was adequate. I got a buffalo chicken sandwich which came on a ciabatta bun and
looked like something you’d get at Wendy’s. In fact, it even tastes a bit like a fast food item, as the sauce was quite mild, though the chicken was plump and juicy. Maggie tried the pot roast sandwich, which definitely tasted like pot roast, but also seemed a little fast food-ish. The fries and tots were good; I’m sure they’re the same brand carried by restaurants like this everywhere.

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The service, much like the food was adequate. Not bad exactly, but far from great. In fact, “adequate” seems to be the best adjective to describe our experience here. If we’re going by a pass/fail rubric, Sea Dog earns a passing grade, but on a more nuanced scale it’s rather average. Still, between our two meals and the beer the tab was only $44 and we left an $8 tip. That’s not bad for a Friday night dining experience in a tourist trap area, eh?

They charge for soda water? C'mon!