I Bought Some Craft Beer Bombers Sight Unseen. Did I Get a Good Deal?

Mystery Bag

Recently, on a quick stop at Kress Liquors (my better half needed a bottle or two of Magners Pear Cider), I was taken by the unique packaging of a three pack of bombers. Rather than put the three bottles on special, I was greeted by a plain brown bag that was labeled as a “Mystery Bag of Brews”. Always a sucker for the packaging, I was intrigued by the idea that I was getting $35 of beer for $29.98 and that I could be getting a diamond or two in the bag. Suffice it to say, that almost as soon as I saw the bag, I was hooked (and ready for the gaff and the net; hope they’ve got a big boat).

Well, I returned home and iced the Magners and then was met with the disapproving eye of my better half. She is all too familiar with my suspect purchases and fails to find the joy in packaging. Anyway, I opened the bag like a little kid at Christmas and was met with the following bottles.

Mystery Bag Brews

I have had the Dogfish Head Black & Blue (a Belgian style ale with blackberries and blueberries) and I am unimpressed (Beer Advocate gives it an 83). I have had the Southern Tier Plum Noir (an Imperial porter with Italian plums) and while interesting, I didn’t really love it (also an 83 from Beer Advocate). And, I have had the Rogue Dead Guy (a Heller Bock) a couple of times. While I find this to be a really good beer (Beer Advocate gives it an 89; the Bros gave it a 96), it wasn’t something that was new to me. So, I look at my three bottles and I am a little bit disappointed. Obviously, I am not jumping up-and-down with Wayne Brady (or Monty Hall if that is a more familiar reference). I am left wondering if I made a good deal or not. Did I get the second prize behind the curtain or did I get the Zonk?

Beer Review Poetry – Sixpoint RAD

Sixpoint RAD

There’s a faint smell of beer,

When you put your nose near,

But it’s the citrus bouquet

That takes you away.

Blood oranges, grapefruits, and maybe some lime.

I’d list a few others, if I had some more time.

The citrus is big when you take that first sip,

Like a San Pellegrino Blood Orange Soda has just passed your lips.

Though it starts off a bit sweet, it quickly gets tart.

I really like citrus, so it’s winning my heart.

My only regret is it’s REALLY subtle beer flavor,

But on a really hot day, this would be something to savor (though it’s really easy to chug!).

Some call it a RADler, some call it a shandy.

YOU can call it what YOU want, I’ll just call it dandy!

Three Sapporo Beers Reviewed: The Light, the Premium, and the Reserve

Sapporo Beer

G-LO: So here’s the plan! You get the kids to go play in your yard and pester the wives, while I head inside to grab some glasses, my camera, and those Sapporo beers that we need to review. Sound good?

Limpd: That sounds perfect!

Five minutes later…

G-LO: Wait. Why are these kids still here? Go away boys! We have serious work to do here.

My boys burst into tears while Limpd’s boys just glare at me. They eventually go away…

Limpd: Nicely done G-LO, though I could have done without the crying. They sound just like you do when you’re having that last dram from a beloved bottle of whisky. Guess the apples didn’t fall far from the tree. Quit the lollygagging and pour me a beer, Sally!

G-LO: Sally? That’s Mrs. Sally to you, Dolores! Can we get started now?

Limpd: Just shut up and start pouring so that you can get your pretty picture taking out of the way. Let’s start with the Sapporo Light. I’m guessing we’re headed to Amstel country by way of Japan.

I open up the Sapporo Light, fill our glasses, and take a photo…

Sapporo Light

Limpd: Wow! Well that certainly smells like a light beer. It’s a little malty. I’m getting nothing else. Where the hell are the hops?

G-LO: It pains me to admit this, but your absolutely right. I’m getting nothing but malt in a sweet and yeasty smelling kinda way. The nose on this beer is boring me to tears. Are you bored too? You look bored.

Limpd: I am bored! Let’s move this along. I’m going in for a taste.

G-LO: Sorry. I jumped ahead and did that already. This beer reminds me of college. To be more specific, this reminds me of the 100 Days To Go party (countdown to graduation!) at Polo Bay (no longer there). It was a $20 open bar. And by “open”, I mean unlimited bottles of Coors Light. It was like drinking ice cold, fizzy, malted water. The Sapporo Light might be a wee bit better, but not by much.

Limpd:  Yeah. This isn’t very good. It’s a little doughy, but mostly just a whole lot of meh. By the way, those flowers over there look a little parched and in need of hydration. Do you mind if I pour the rest of my beer into that flower pot?

G-LO: Go right ahead. And while you’re at it, pour the rest of my beer in there too. While you’re doing that, I’ll set us up with some clean glasses for Sapporo round two.

Get more glasses. Fill them up. Take a photo…

Sapporo Premium BeerLimpd: Well that certainly looks a bit better. The Sapporo Premium has a bit of a darker color, but once again, no head retention. Whatcha getting on the nose Alistair?

G-LO: Agreed on the color. This one has a healthy-ish glow, unlike you, Sir Pasty Complexion. Definitely a bit more depth on the nose too. Think darker, richer maltiness. But what I really want to know is, where the hell are the hops?

Limpd: Listen up my Sicilian friend, Pasty and Irish go hand in hand, so quit stating the obvious. Anyway. The Sapporo Premium has a bit more going on when compared to the Light, but I’m still unimpressed. This one is a bit more doughy, but as you said, where the hell are the hops?

G-LO: Yeah. If the third one is as dull as these two, there’s a good chance that I might fall asleep in my beer. The flavors on this one aren’t much better than the Light. Very sweet and malty. Talk about a one dimensional beer! There is zero bitterness to balance it out. My tongue is getting all icky. Kinda like how it gets after munching on way too much candy.

Limpd: Thanks for that vision. I’d rather not have to hear about your icky tongue, but to tell you the truth, you’re right. Where’s the oomph? And why exactly is this called “Premium”? While it’s a little more full bodied than the Light, it’s not very interesting. Shall we water another plant?

G-LO: Yes yes! You water the plants and I’ll go get us some clean glasses.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat. Errr… I mean, get more glasses, pour, and snap another pic…

Sapporo Reserve Beer

Limpd: Crap! I forgot my color wheel. I swear this one is marginally darker than the other two. Hang on. Did you happen to see where these beers were brewed and bottled?

G-LO: Huh? Umm. No. I didn’t pay much attention. You mean they’re not brewed in Japan?

Limpd: Nope. Not even close. According to the tiny print on the bottom of the label, the Premium was brewed and bottled in Lacrosse, WI and the Reserve was brewed and bottled in Guelph, Ontario. Me thinks we need to do a bit of digging! Since you’re a wiz with that smartphone of yours, Google it!

G-LO: Will do Maestro! Gimme a minute…

32.5 seconds later…

Limpd: Speed it up G-LOsan! I haven’t got all night.

G-LO: Keep your shirt on Old Chub. Stupid autocorrect keeps changing Guelph to Gulf. Remind me to turn that off one of these days. So according to Wikipedia, the Encyclopedia Britannica of the 21st century, the Premium is brewed by City Brewing in La Crosse and the Reserve is brewed by Sleeman Breweries in Guelph.

Limpd: Interesting. Do they make any other beers at those breweries?

G-LO: Yeah. City Brewing in La Crosse also makes Red Stripe, Naragansett, Sam Adams, Milwaukee Light, and a few other beers, while Sleeman brews Stroh’s, Pabst Blue Ribbon, Old Milwaukee, and Schlitz for the Canadian market. Good to know that they’re using two top notch facilities to make this stuff.

Limpd: Glad to hear they spared no expense on the brewing of these beers. Stroh’s, Old Milwaukee, and Schlitz. That’s some quality stuff right there!

G-LO: Hey now! I have fond memories of Schlitz. Remind me to tell you the Schlitz pony bottles and Cheese Curls story one of these days. This one goes back to my high school days. Can we go back to the review now?

Limpd: Mmmm. Cheese curls. It’s no charcuterie and cheese plate, but I do love me some Cheese Curls! So this one is a bit darker than the other two, but other than that, it pretty much smells and tastes the same.

G-LO: I’m with ya! Yes, the malts are a bit deeper, but other than that, I don’t understand how the Reserve is any different from the Premium. Whatcha getting on the palate Buckaroo Banzai?

Limpd: I’m getting a whole lot of meh. This is some truly unremarkable and forgettable stuff. When you first mentioned that some Sapporo beer samples had arrived, I was hoping that this would be like a virtual trip to Japan for a high quality beer tasting, but instead what I got was a rerouted flight to La Crosse on the way to Peoria, IL. On the plus side, it looks like your flowers are perking up!

G-LO: Well said Limpd-san! I have nothing further to add.

Limpd: Really? Mr. Longwinded has nothing more to say? I’m flabbergasted! So what are we having next? I need something with a bit more oomph. Is it Whisky Time yet?

G-LO: It’s always Whisky Time! How about some Hakushu or Nikka for a bit of Japanese redemption in a glass?

Limpd: That sounds fantastic. Me likey Japanese whisky!

Crabbie’s Alcoholic Ginger Beer. An Alternative Summer Refresher?

Crabbie's Alcoholic Ginger Beer

While I have never ever mowed my lawn (I don’t even own a lawnmower!), I do understand the concept of a lawnmower beer. It’s boiling hot outside and you’re sweaty, parched, and in search of something cold and refreshing to quench the thirst that you developed from spending over an hour manicuring your precious greenery. Sure, you could grab a glass of water, or maybe even a Gator or Powerade, but since you’ve spent a healthy chunk of your spare time working on the lawn in addition to working hard all week at your day job, you deserve something refreshing AND soothing. An ice cold beer is the usual reward, but we live in a world that is full of choices. so why not mix it up a bit and try something different? So that’s exactly what I did a couple weeks ago, i.e. I decided to try something different and picked up a bottle of Crabbie’s Alcoholic Ginger Beer. Does this beverage qualify as a lawnmower beer alternative? That’s what we’re here to find out!

But before we get on with my review, here are a few words about this beverage taken directly from the Crabbie’s website:

It takes taste and imagination to create a drink so delicious that it stands the test of time. The roots of the distinctive Crabbie’s Original Alcoholic Ginger Beer stretch all the way back to the early nineteenth century. That’s when our pioneer John Crabbie set sail from the port of Leith, Edinburgh, in search of the finest spices and ingredients from far-off lands.

Crabbie’s Original Alcoholic Ginger Beer is carefully crafted from a recipe using ginger shipped from the Far East which is cold steeped for up to six weeks and then combined with four secret ingredients to produce its deep, deliciously spicy flavor.

Let’s get on with my impressions of this beverage…

  • Appearance: Pale gold with a slight orange tint.
  • Aroma: Very straightforward on the nose with lots of freshly grated ginger, honey or light brown sugar, and a hint of citrus.
  • Taste: Medium bodied with a slightly fizzy carbonation. Starts off slightly sweet with some cane sugar notes front and center. Ginger and citrus take over at the middle and carry you through to the finish where all of the flavors come together. Leaves you with a ginger spiced tingle on your tongue with some residual sugar and citrus that is slightly astringent.
  • ABV: 4.8%

If you like Gosling’s or Barrit’s Ginger Beer then I have no doubt that you will like this stuff. While the label says to enjoy this over ice with a slice of lime or lemon, I decided to make like Ed of the Dogs of Beer blog and tried it “as is” since I wanted to experience it at full strength. I really enjoyed it from start to finish and would definitely buy it again, though given it’s moderately sweet taste, it’s not something that I would drink all the time. I’m guessing that drinking it as the brewer suggested (on the rocks with a wedge of lemon or lime) will help to cut the sweetness and make this an even easier to drink summer refresher, and if you throw in a healthy dose of dark Rum, this stuff will make a seriously potent Dark N Stormy.

Thirsty Thursday Times for July 17, 2014

Below are a few of the more interesting press releases that landed in our inbox this week…

Booze Dancing Merchandise

Click the pic to visit the Pastrami Basket Shoppery!

“It’s just the booze dancing…” Gear Now Available on the Pastrami Basket Shoppery!

For the fourth anniversary of this here blog, we reached out to Jon of the Pastrami Basket blog and asked if he could do a bit of artwork for us. What he came up with is a literal interpretation of “It’s just the booze dancing…”. Personally, I love it!

Last Friday, Jon announced that some of his artwork would be available for purchase on Cafe Press in the form of pins, t-shirts, mugs, tile coasters, and a few other items. In addition to classics like Squidcago and Mogwai Dontcha, Jon’s merchandise offerings will also feature his “It’s just the booze dancing…” art work. We definitely see Squidcago coffee mugs and “It’s just the booze dancing…” pint glasses in our future!


Papa's Pilar Rum

Celebrate National Daiquiri Day AND Hemingway’s Birthday with Papa’s Pilar Rum!

July 19th is National Daiquiri Day, and just two days later, Ernest Hemingway’s birthday. To celebrate, Papa’s Pilar Rum wants to teach us how to make the Classic Hemingway Daiquiri. Here’s the recipe for your drinking pleasure:

Hemingway Daiquiri

1.5 oz of Papa’s Pilar Blonde Rum
.75 oz of fresh lime juice
.5 oz of fresh grapefruit juice
1 tsp of Maraschino Liquor
1 tsp of granulated sugar

Directions: Shake until ice cold and serve in a cocktail glass

If you’d like to see how this cocktail is made, click here to visit the Papa’s Pilar Vimeo page.



NEW YORK – July 7, 2014 – All hail the new Hudson brand ambassador! Actually, all hug the new Hudson brand ambassador- here at Hudson Whiskey, we’re all about love over laud. The amount of love for each hand-dipped bottle of whiskey, love for each local New York-sourced ingredient we use, and love for each member of our distillery is immeasurable, which brings us to Han Shan. We fell in love with his knowledge of the whiskey landscape, his enthusiasm for Hudson, but above of all, we fell in love with him! Which is why we’re thrilled to announce Mr. Han Shan as the new face of Hudson Whiskey.

To be honest, we fell in love with all of our delightful and charismatic candidates- “Making the Cut” was not a search for the pre-eminent mixologist or an encyclopedic spirits mind, but for the next member of the Hudson family. We took three finalists up to the Hudson distillery at Tuthilltown, New York and taught our prospective ambassadors what it is that makes whiskey “Hudson Whiskey”, why we source everything locally, and generally what it means to be part of the Hudson clan. In the end, while we’re excited to have three new friends, we found that Han was the full human embodiment of Hudson’s ideals and identity. Congratulations!

As the new face of Hudson, Han will circle the country, speaking with bartenders, restaurant owners, whiskey enthusiasts and journalists, hosting tastings, connecting with fans via social media and representing our brand in the national press.

“From sampling bourbon and rye straight from barrels in the rickhouse to exploring the dramatic mountain trails overlooking the distillery to late-night storytelling with the other candidates at the beautiful Hudson Valley farmhouse, Making the Cut was truly a beautiful, once-in-a-lifetime experience,” says Han of his time at the distillery. “I cannot fully express the level of my excitement to spread love for this wonderful whiskey, and for being graciously welcomed into the family.” Adds Gable Erenzo, co-founder, distiller, and former brand ambassador for Hudson: “When we started this project, I never dreamed that we would find someone as passionate and dynamic as Han. To be honest, I can’t help but see a bit of myself in him and I couldn’t imagine a more perfect friend to take over for me as ambassador.

For a full look at Han’s journey to spirits stardom, head to the Hudson Whiskey Making The Cut website; who knows, maybe you’ll discover a thing or two that might help you become the next member of our little family here at Tuthilltown. You can also keep an eye on our website to find out when Han might be coming to your town so you can say hello yourself- we’re sure he’d love to meet you!

Beer Review – Lavery Brewing Madra Allta IPA

 Lavery Madra Allta IPA

Minding my own business (as I usually do), I found myself a passenger in a vehicle back from a sales call. My chauffeur told me that we had run out of beer at work (gotta say, Beer Friday is pretty cool) and we had to stop at Kunda Beverage in King of Prussia to seek replenishment. Once again, not one to make a fuss (I mean really who am I to argue the point), we headed over to Kunda with a credit card and an empty trunk . At Kunda, we had a number of difficult decisions. First, in PA, we are forced to buy by a full case of beer. So, our investment must be something that is mutually appreciated by around a dozen fellers (not to be sexist but our female coworkers like spiked ice tea and/or gluten free beverages). And, we need to make sure that it is not too crafty (so, a big fat NO to DuClaw’s Sweet Baby Jesus).

We settled on a case of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale (good for the masses) and a split case with four sixes of IPAs. We had the IPA from Avery, the IPA & a Half from the Tommyknocker Brewery, the Corruption from DC Brau Brewing and the Madra Allta from the Lavery Brewing Company. This review centers on Lavery’s Madra Allta. Lavery is a brewer from Erie, PA that was founded in 2009. They make about a dozen different beers and try to incorporate British, German and Belgian traditions into their brewing process

Here is what Lavery has to say about their Madra Allta:

Madra Allta is a classic India pale ale with a blend of Bravo and a NEW experimental American hop variety. Our IPA has a beautiful gold color with the unmistakable aroma and flavor of American hops. Hop-focused with light malt sweetness and a toasty dryness in the finish balances the high bitterness perfectly. An easy-drinking IPA awaits. Madra Allta, is the Gaelic word for ‘wolf’.

I found the beer to be…

  • Appearance: Deep cooper with a nice amount of tan foam and lots of lacing.
  • Aroma: Lots of malt with a little sweetness and a little hops.
  • Taste: Medium mouthfeel with a good bit of sweet dough followed by a lingering hoppy bitterness in the finish.
  • ABV: 6.4%

This was my first experience with Lavery and I was impressed. This might not have been a great IPA but it certainly was a good one. And, the fact that it comes in a can means I can enjoy this beer at the local cement pond. As summer approaches and I am looking for a quality, portable IPA, I will have to add the Lavery Madra Allta to the list.

Beer Review Poetry – Stone Saison

Stone Saison

When I took that first sip, I was somewhat surprised.

I reread the label and thought that Stone lied.

Though they called it Saison, to me it said Wit,

But when the chill subsided, I started to get it!

There goes that clove and that sharp coriander,

The flavors took hold, so that my mind didn’t wander.

It’s spicy at first, with soft fizzy bubbles.

After a couple of these, you’ll forget all your troubles.

As you approach the middle, it becomes quite dry,

With a peppery bite, that I just can’t deny.

The finish is crisp, with a lingering heat.

This beer screams for food, I need something to eat!

Some creamy blue cheese or some fine charcuterie.

Stone Saison is the right beer for me!