Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Damn the Torpedoes - Hopaholic Goes Under with Sierra Nevada's Torpedo

This week, I tried a new liquor store. Always an adventure. Although, I must admit, I wasn't expecting much, as this one was attached to my local Shaw's supermarket. However, it's brand new, so I figured it was worth a shot, and plus, I had missed the train and so to get out of the driving snow for a minute, I figured I'd check it out.

I was expecting a lot of, shall we say, ohhhh, crappy beer. The kind my dad drinks, basically. If I got lucky, maybe I would score some Winter Warmer and be on my way. But no, I was shocked to see actual good beer, like Geary's and Magic Hat, and something else caught my eye. Something I had never seen: a bottle labeled Sierra Nevada, but a brand I was not familiar with. Torpedo? Something new? I must try it!

Sierra's newest offering is (as stated on their website, as well as the bottle) "a big American IPA; bold, assertive and full of flavor and aromas highlighting the complex citrus, pine and herbal character of whole-cone American hops." In other words, quite tasty. I find the term "American IPA to be a little odd, and usually the beers are odd as well. But this one was different. It was far superior than any American IPA I've ever had. The magic number on this one? A very strong 7.2% alcohol by volume. Right in the zone. And the good news? It's not seasonal. That's right, this puppy is their first full-production IPA and their first big change to their year-round line-up in over ten years.

I know that seasonal beers are always nice and all (absence makes the liver grow fonder...), but guys like me need beers like these to help us through these cold, winter months. And so, Sierra Nevada, once again, I salute you.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Finding God - Hopaholic reviews The Reverend

Last week, I had what I think may be the finest beer I have ever tasted, and that is saying something. I've had a lot of different beers, and a lot of them I don't even remember, probably because they all run together, and probably because I'm drunk. But this one will stay with me for awhile, that I know.

It was The Reverend from Avery Brewing. It's what I call a "ten-percenter," meaning, of course, 10% alcohol by volume. Right in the zone. When ordering it, I asked the bartender, "Does it taste like ten percent?", inferring that some ten percenters taste like oil with a splash of hops. He said it did, and so I went with it. How could a holy beer steer me wrong? Although I am not a religious man, I was not disappointed.

The Reverend is very amazing. The ten percent-ness is covered up a sweetness and a nice finish that make you just want to keep on drinking (which is dangerous to do, kids. Take it from me.) I think, for any rookies, when I say it tastes like a 10% beer, I sort of mean teh opposite. It doesn't taste like most ten-percenters. It's tastes better.

The rundown, from the Avery website:

The Reverend, was created in tribute to the life of Sales Mgr. Tom Boogaard's grandfather, an ordained Episcopal Reverend. Tom was inspired by the life of his grandfather and wanted to create a tribute beer that contained his sterling traits. True to both our "small brewery, BIG BEERS" philosophy and to the spirit and character of the departed Reverend, this beer is assertive, and pure of heart, a heart of candy sugar. It contains as many authentic imported Belgian specialty malts as the brewers could cram into our mash tun, and lots of Belgian dark candy sugar stirred into the brew kettle.

Now, even I don't know what all that means, but it sounds pretty good, don't it? Well, it is. It is delicious. I mean, everyone needs to drink this beer. if they served it at diplomatic functions, the we may have world peace. I know I sound like a dithering idiot, but truly, I've drank a lot of beer, and this one is really special.

Sadly, I ran into a problem. I really could only drink one that evening, otherwise, I would have been on the floor (I had already tried a couple before I got the The Reverend). However, I knew that, unless I moved up to Southern Tier's Unearthly (also very good), anything I drank next would be a long step down on the ladder. So, I decided on one I knew, and went with a Sierra Celebration, because those will probably be going away soon enough. It was definitely a step down, not nearly as bold, but I did want to be able to get home, and I feel, as I get older, getting blithering drunk all the time is not something I want to do.

Now, if I could get drunk on just The Reverend, I might consider it. What was that Grateful Dead line? Ah yes:

"I may be going to Hell in a bucket, babe,

But at least I'm enjoying the ride."

But with a name like The Reverend, it's more like Heaven.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Keeping up with the Jonses

There seems to be a trend recently in bars across the city. Great microbrews used to be a staple of special bars and taverns (brew houses, even). You traveled to places like Sunset and Publick House because they were the only spots you could get your favorite pours. Or Bauer Wines on Newbury Street if you were spending a quiet evening at home, because they had bottles of your favorite, hard-to-find brews. And it was always worth the trip, right?

Now, I'm finding some of my favorites in a lot of liquor stores and bars all over the city. It seems like a lot of people are catching on, about to turn drinking good beer into some sort of trend, like 80's music or cocaine. I'm not sure if they are enjoying it as much as they want to be seen enjoying it.

So, while I am happy being able to find my beers almost anywhere, I'm also a bit disturbed. Somehow, this trend seems to take away the allure of drinking good beer. It's like I sued to be in some club that has now opened its doors to anyone in the world. Don't get me wrong, I like the taste of the stuff, and that's why I drink it (Well, and my latent alcoholism), but I worry about these newcomers. Will they ruin it by making it too mainstream? Like Nirvana? Will I be forced to find newer, weirder beers just to push the envelope further?

Well, no. But I will say that I used to enjoy beer tastings and beer festivals and events like that. Now, I can't be bothered because they get too crowded. I used to enjoy going because you got to talk to the actual brewers and find out about how the stuff is made (and I once got the full story on those guys from the Smuttynose packaging at a tasting). Now, the lines are too long. The notion of "free beer" has sunk into the drinker's conscious, and so they flock to these things. I even saw some people carrying a baby at the last one. What is that about? The strategy now is to simply camp out near one table and drink all they have because the notion of wading through the crowd is just too daunting. People, it ain't Disneyland.

You may ask why I care, since this trend has made my favorite beers more accessible. I don't know why I care, but it does make a little uncomfortable. Every trend has its poseurs, though and the first guy who kills himself by chugging 90-Minute Dogfish to show off to his buddies won't get much sympathy from me. I guess that's what troubles me.
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