Monday, June 29, 2009

Lagunitas Little Sumpin' sumpin' Ale

I’d planned to save this one for a post in praise of the “manager’s special” but since this is a limited release beer, I figure I may want to make note promptly, lest I lose track of this little gem and never get it done.

I’m also prompted into action by a nifty – and recent – post at Bobs Beer Reviews. (It’s like that feeling you get when you see your neighbor out mowing his lawn; you suddenly feel you should probably be doing the same. For the record, my neighbor’s lawns all look better than mine.)

I stumbled onto this beer amidst a cart full of orphaned singles at the local Sunflower Market. Thankfully, I bought two of them. Having never tried any of Lagunitas’ beers, I figured it best to start out small.

Here’s the dope on this Little Sumpin’ sumpin’Ale:
Smells like an IPA, and pours a gold bronze color with a weak head. Distinctly grapefruit tasting, and to me this is an IPA in taste and style. The rather high abv isn’t too noticeable and I deem this beer to be “very good.” I’ll buy this one again, if I can find it before it’s gone. Odds are, she’ll hop back into that sporty hot rod of hers and be down the road too soon.

Here’s what some other bloggers had to say about this seasonal tramp:

Beer Tastes

Daily Brew HaHa

WTF is Mick Drinking? (WTF, indeed.)

Finally, the Lagunitas website. Their page for Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ doesn’t refer to it as an IPA, but more than a few web references I’ve seen refer to it as an IPA, which is where I place this one on the style meter. (For those of you checking the gages.)

The air conditioning is out here at Beer Rant HQ. Don’t know how long Mrs. Beer Rant and I will remain here if the temperature keeps climbing. Weep for us, and then ask us why the hell we’re still living in the damned desert.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

In Praise of the Gimme' Glass

It seems that Odell Brewing Company has broken into the Arizona marketplace. Color me colossally clueless but I’d been lumbering along on the assumption that they were already here. Geesh. I’d sampled some of their beer while visiting my sister in Denver last year and I suppose I’d just figured I could find them back here in the desert any darned time I wanted.

My son-in-law and I made a quick jaunt to Sunflower Market the Saturday before Father’s day, hoping to score something strange for the weekend. My son-in-law is on a porter kick of late and I can’t say I object in any way. Shucks, when I was that age, living in a barracks on the edge of Texas, I took a shine to Michelob Dark and probably figured I was a real progressive! At least my young marine friend is branching out in ways I’d never dreamed of at that age.

Anyhoo, as we perused the beer cabinet, a couple of lasses beckoned us to their wobbly card table display by asking, “would you like a sample?”

Sample? Beer? Beer sample? Hell yeah said we!

Long story short: Hensley Distributing has evidently taken on Odell Brewing Company as a client. I bought a six-pack of the IPA and a six-pack of the Pale Ale while my son-in-law opted for the tried and true Deschutes Black Butte Porter…I told you he was on a porter kick.

In the end, our new friends from Hensley gave us each an Odell’s pint glass and after quaffing a few beers in mine, I’ll set it proudly on the shelf next to a few others, most of which I’ve paid for. Ah, there’s something special about free beer swag!

Maybe I'll actually get 'round to posting a review of the Odell beers we bought that day.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day!

Just a quick post, really. Just to wish every dad out there a happy Father’s Day. And if you’re lucky enough to still have your dad around, be sure to hug his neck real tight and wish him all the best, too. We only get one dad; take good care of yours so he’ll last a long, long time.

I think I’m having Chamberlain Pale Ale and spaghetti with Italian sausage later today. It’s gonna be nice. Two daughters, three granddaughters and one grandson close at hand. (Oh, and a couple of son-in-laws, too. It’s their special day as well.)


(Love you and miss you, dad.)

Friday, June 19, 2009

Beer Moment: For Openers...So Long, Buddy.

I spent part of last Saturday helping my best friend Jon load his possessions into a pickup truck for his move to Oregon. I’m sad to see him go, but happy that he’s moving to some place cooler and thrilled that he’s going to enjoy a vastly deserved retirement in close proximity to his son.

For fun, I brought a six-pack of Sierra Nevada Summerfest and a six-pack of Four Peak’s Kilt Lifter, mostly for his son and I, because Jon doesn’t drink much. The process of packing and sorting a lifetime of possessions was a bit stressful for Jon and I’ll admit he probably could have used more than just the swig or two of Summerfest that he had.

At one point as we stood in the driveway looking for a way to pop open one of the Sierra Nevada’s, my eye lit upon a nifty old bottle opener hanging in the shed. It proved handy and, having asked Jon if I could have it, and having been told that I could, I dropped the thing in my pocket. It’s cool. It’s a Schmidt’s Beer opener and it’s already proven its worth back here at Beer Rant HQ.

I miss my buddy Jon. I’ve already called him (at 12 noon I managed to wake him from a nap) to see how he’s doing and he seems to be unwinding from the packing and moving. Temperature there the day I called was in the 70’s. Must be nice.

The bottle opener now hangs in my garage and when I see it, or use it, I’ll think of Jon who’s living someplace cooler now and deserves every bit of happiness he can get. Hope he’ll keep a spot on the floor open for me if it ever gets too hot down here!

(The Kilt Lifter went back to Oregon with Jon’s son. I hope he likes it.)

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Macros Were Micros Once, Too.

Let’s face it, beer is an acquired taste. I don’t recall anyone remembering their first stolen beer (c’mon, we all stole our first beer) as, “light, refreshing, with a thin but prominent mouth feel,” or “hoppy with a dry finish.” Only after we season a bit and after we start making a living so we can buy our beer do we somehow begin to think ourselves too good for the Coors and Millers of the world. Frankly, we transform into Beer Knerds or Beer Knazis.

I’ve already noted that the takeaway message I got from the documentary Beer Wars was that we all need to support our local craft brewers. The lesson fairly blared from the screen. But much more subtle and perhaps unintended, was the notion that the likes of Coors and Budweiser, Pabst and Miller all started out as microbreweries with one arm tied behind their back as their immigrant founders struggled to establish their place in the market, all the while trying to strangle the competition with the one free arm.

I helped put Miller Brewing where it is today but I rarely drink Miller these days. I was raised just up the road from Coors brewery in Golden, Colorado and they hold a special place in my heart, but again, I don’t buy as much Coors product as I used to. I rarely buy Budweiser because I never cared for Bud products and I think the current raft of Clydesdale horsey ads are stupid. Nevertheless, I do from time to time have the occasional bottle of macro-brewed product, usually because it’s being offered at a party or it comes at a ridiculously low price. I’m just not so proud that I’ll ever say, “I’ll go without before I drink a Coors, or a Miller, or a Bud.” Besides, under certain circumstances, it doesn’t matter what the beer is; even if it's not great, it’s just good enough.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Oregon and Bust

Don’t expect much and you’ll never be disappointed. That’s the best piece of advice I never got growing up. Admittedly, my recent quick jaunt to Klamath Falls, Oregon and back was really for the purpose of helping a buddy of mine drive a truck back to the desert southwest, but as the time for our departure drew near, I found myself fantasizing about the new beers I would find and acquire, even allowing myself the delusion of thinking perhaps I’d be able to bring some Oregon beers back to Beer Rant HQ.

In the end, I brought back just two bottles of Oregon beer.

My original draft of this post was way longer, but I’m reminded of a new year’s resolution of sorts; I’d promised to be more, shall we say, “concise” in my posting.

So, here’s the quick dope on my trip to Oregon and back.

Had a Guinness and a hamburger at Phoenix Sky Harbor airport.

Got held up at the ticket counter in San Francisco, thus missing an opportunity to visit the Anchor Steam Brewpub in the terminal. Settled for a bottle of Anchor in the waiting area. (I paid about $7 USD for that damned bottle of liquid bread.)

Arrived in Klamath Falls about 10 PM on a Friday. My buddy and I located his son outside the terminal and we quickly decided to stop at The Creamery, a local brewpub. (Now here is where I must violate my new year’s resolution and go into painful, plodding detail, if only to shine the searing light of shame on the place that is “the creamery.”

The Creamery: Don’t Bother (Us)

We wound our way through the rain-dampened streets of town and pulled up outside The Creamery with its blazing neon cow sign. I fetched my beer notebook out of the back of the car and we ambled in, planning to have a snack and at least one beer.

We stepped inside to find the circular bar almost fully occupied and the place well lit, but from there things went downhill in a hurry. As we approached the bar, one of the patrons turned and muttered something ending in the word “closed.” I looked at him like an out of town idiot (which I was at that point) and he muttered again, “kitchen’s closed.”

Okay, no problem, we’ll have a beer. We continued to amble around the corner of the bar and the barman says he’s through serving for the night. It’s barely 10:30 at night on a Friday, people! I’m not enough of a prick to spout off stuff like, “I just flew in from Arizona to sample your beer!” or “I’m a beer blogger and I was expecting to sample some of your product!” It’s just not that critical to me at this point. My buddy and his son (who lives in Klamath Falls and thought the whole episode was ridiculous) wandered back out to his car, proceeded to a Safeway store that looked like something right out of 1970 where we bought a six pack of Full Sail Ale and a six pack of Widmer’s Drop Top Amber Ale.

So here’s where I go all beer-jerk.

If the beer produced at The Creamery is any good at all, I figure they have two options: 1. They need to shut down their storefront “brewpub” and start bottling right now. The owners need to stop pretending to be in the restaurant business, roll up their sleeves, acquire some bottling or canning apparatus and get that tasty beer out to the folks. (They also need to fire any dork barkeep who shuts down the operation at 10:30 on a Friday night.)
2. If their beer actually sucks, they need to get out of the business altogether because it’s pretty clear they don’t have the restaurant business model figured out and if their beer sucks…well, do the math. In the midst of a microbrew/craft brew renaissance they’ll never make it if they plan on catering simply to the good folk of Klamath Falls.

Do I sound bitter? Do I sound like a beer jerk? Darned right I am. I did travel quite a long distance – not simply to sample beer at a place called the creamery – yes I did. In the end, I managed to get back to Beer Rant HQ with two bottles of beer from Southern Oregon Brewing Company, one a nice pale ale and another called a gold ale. I’ll get around to posting comments on them shortly. I won’t be bothering with anything concerning the creamery again, unless it’s to pile on more ridicule. Yeeesh!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Quick Riffs: A Post Before Traveling

I’m laying off the weekday sampling for the next little bit and bracing myself for a quick trip up to southern Oregon for the weekend. (Helping a buddy bring back a truck.) In the meantime, it seems a good time to dip into this slush pile of notes in the notebook to document some recent, noteworthy beer samples.

Boston Brewing
Samuel Adams Blackberry Witbier
Sampled May 24, 2009
I’d been keeping an eye out for this one for some time and then basically lost interest when my son-in-law (“the marine”) sent me an excited text message proudly proclaiming he’d found it in a local Albertson’s supermarket. My son-in-law has a beer blog too; it’s called A Journey Through Beer. He does a respectable job but remember he doesn’t post much because he’s busy defending our country.

Repeat offenders here will recall I’m no huge fan of wits, but anything new from Sam Adams is worth a try in my book. This one has a distinctly berry smell that is faintly like a breakfast cereal. Pours cloudy gold color with a decent white head, medium beading and medium lacing. The standard witbier spices (that I often detest) are there but they are mitigated if not complimented by the faint blackberry finish. Good stuff.

Sierra Nevada
Torpedo Extra IPA
Sampled May 9, 2009
I first read about this one on another beer blog – the name of which escapes me now. I stumbled upon it at the local Total Wine outlet and bought a bottle for the recent trip to Sierra Vista, but, having sampled so much (perhaps too much) of the local Tucson beers, the bottle of Torpedo stayed in the cooler and came back to Beer Rant HQ with me for sampling a few days later.

Piney and sweet smelling, orange-amber in color. Has a distinctly sweet and piney taste, too, but not noticeably citrus. The 7.2% abv isn’t out front as you might expect it to be and this beer might be the sort of beer that sneaks up on you…like a, well, like a torpedo.

Grand Teton Brewing
Bitch Creek ESB Ale
Sampled on April 27, 2009

This is another one that my son-in-law wrangled. A marine from his unit got wind that he’s becoming a bit of a beer freak and brought a six-pack of this beer for him to try. Semper Fi!

Pours dark amber color with heavy lacing. Has a sweet taste with a slightly thick mouth feel. A second glass revealed this to be more malty than hoppy and highly carbonated. There’s a taste of roasted nuts or bread there too with a sweet finish. Hard to find hereabouts and pricey from what I hear, but worth a try for sure.

That’s it for now. I’m currently really interested in a couple of beer blogs that originate in London. Hopefully I can get around to posting something about them. In the meantime, I’m off to Oregon Friday evening with a layover in San Francisco, then a drive back from Oregon via California and Nevada. I’m hoping to cast about for some good beers while I’m gone and will check the shelves of the stores when we stop for gas coming back to see what package product I can acquire as souvenir.

Thanks for visiting.

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