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Tramp Stamp

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Tramp Stamp is a Belgian-style IPA from Clown Shoes which brews out of Ipswich Massachusetts.  In recent months I started noticing bottles from Clown Shoes on the shelves of the shops I frequent.  Clown Shoes is not an expensive beer and having a variety available is a good thing as I’ve now had about four or five different beers from them and I don’t have a bad thing to say about what I’ve tasted.  Sometime last year  I reviewed Hoppy Feet 1.5, a Double Black IPA I got in a trade and was released to commemorate their One Year Anniversary.  I gave Hoppy Feet 1.5, Five out of Five Beer Caps as I really loved the beer; check out the post here.  I think of Clown Shoes as a fun brewery especially with the clever names they come up for their beers like Muffin Top, Chocolate Sombrero, and Tramp Stamp.

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The aroma of this beer is a mix of orange peel and ripe peaches, very summerlike and refreshing and with the biscuit and yeast funk present, it stays true to it’s Belgian roots.  Much of what is in the aroma can be tasted, like the orange peel and peaches with a hop bitterness up front and just enough malt to round the sip.  This beer is really delicious, it has the body of a wheat ale and is extremely refreshing.  Tramp Stamp has a bubbly tangy mouthfeel from the carbonation and you’ll get a smooth bitter finish after it washes down.  I enjoyed drinking this beer and it’s too bad it comes in a four pack instead of six.  These cute four packs really drive me nuts and it’s become a standard of so many breweries; just make a six pack and make me pay for six bottles, cut the cute packaging.  I know I can’t be the only one who’s had this thought right? 

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Tramp Stamp is good, refreshing, and has great flavors, I recommend you pick some up before you head out back to start grilling this weekend.  Three out of Five Beer Caps for the Tramp!

Rating3

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Posted by on July 17, 2013 in Empty Bottles

 

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Furious IPA

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The love affair I’ve had for years with IPA’s continues and today I’m reviewing yet another. I drink all sorts of styles, but I can’t seem to get away from IPA’s. When I get to the bar, an IPA is what I look for on a tap list and even look for them when I go beer shopping, it really is a favorite style of mine. Years ago, when I first got into this craft beer thing, I received a package from Michigan that my bud Steve sent me and it contained a few bottles of Hopslam by Bell’s Brewing. Even though Hopslam is a Double IPA, it was very drinkable for my novice palate and made me realize how beer can be complex and have great flavor like you’ve never experienced during your yellow piss water days.  Here’s the reason for all the talk about my love for IPA’s in case you haven’t figured it out by the title or pictures, I’m reviewing Furious IPA by Surly Brewing.

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Surly Brewing is one of many breweries that can their beer and in recent years, some of the newer breweries are opting for this method to store their suds; this is a great idea I approve of simply for the recycling factor.  Furious IPA is an American style IPA with an aroma of hops, malt, citrus and surprisingly alcohol, surprising because it comes in only at 6.2% ABV; aroma unmistakably of an IPA. Furious pours a nice dark copper color and has a medium body with medium carbonation. You’ll experience a smooth and delicious flavor for this non-aggressive IPA, but still very hop forward and bitter. The malt in this IPA nicely rounds the sip with those sweet toasted notes and will have a dry citric finish.

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In the past few months I’ve had the ability to purchase beers from Surly Brewing, sadly it doesn’t ship to California, but luckily a local spot has the hook up for their beers.  I’ve had a chance to drink Bitter Brewer, Bender, Coffee Bender, Overrated West Coast IPA, and Furious IPA, a few from their line-up and based on what I’ve had so far, Surly Brewing makes great tasting beers.  I wish I’d bought more of the Furious IPA as this one is up there with the rest of the Four Beer Cap IPA’s I’ve had; pick one up or any of the ones I mentioned above.

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Posted by on July 5, 2013 in Empty Bottles

 

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The Falcon IPA

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My first visit to Beachwood BBQ in Long Beach was over two years ago, my wife Alicia, took me there for lunch on my birthday; they also have a location in Seal Beach. I don’t recall specifically what I had that day, but I know it was a pulled pork sandwich and a few good brews. I was in Long Beach in recent days having lunch with family just down the street from Beachwood BBQ, and I thought it would be good to go pick up some beer. I was in the mood for an IPA and got a chance to sample two of them, the Melrose, labeled a West Coast IPA and The Falcon, an American IPA; both were delicious, but I filled my growler with The Falcon IPA.

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I poured myself some of the beer the next day in one of my new IPA glassware, the beer had a nice amber color. The aroma of The Falcon IPA had sweet notes of malt and bright floral citrus notes, but the pungent hop aroma dominates. The sip is very refreshing, it’s a hop bomb! Low carbonation with a small amount of malt sweetness up front and it’s all hop from there. Citrus, pine, and tropical fruits mix nicely to create an intense hop flavor while a bitter citric rind aftertaste will remain after the wash.

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I really enjoyed drinking this beer and it’s too bad that I don’t live near Beachwood BBQ as I know I’d be there frequently, eating and drinking. I’ve been thinking of going back very soon to have a meal there and to fill my growler with more delicious beers. If you’re in the area, cheek them and out and get a pint of The Falcon, it was 4 out 5 Beer Caps delicious!

Rating4

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Posted by on May 21, 2013 in Empty Bottles

 

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Rogue’s Irish Style Lager

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My wife and two year old daughter, Little O, have a traceable amount of Irish in their DNA and I’m a full blooded Mexican who’s never participated in drinking green beer and the most St. Patrick’s day celebrating I’ve done is to wear my green Notre Dame shirt. Since we have Irish DNA in the family, I thought I’d do a little celebrating this year, but I won’t go drinking green beer, instead, I’ll post something related to St. Patrick’s Day as it’s become synonymous with drinking beer and gave me an excuse to try a bottle of Irish Style lager by a famous brewery out of Oregon you probably all know, Rogue Ales. The inspiration for the beer came about when Rogue brewers wanted to make a beer that can float Guinness. I like finding out about the minutiae when reading about a beer. You?

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The lager had a very simple flavor and aroma. The beer had a bit of a metallic aroma that was not present in the taste and the rest was all hops. Citrus peel flavor (lemon) mixed with some piney-ness from the hops and I got a bit of the apple, Granny Smith, which was described in the bottle. I had about 5 ounces at room temperature and nothing of what I described previously changed.

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My current rating system is of whole Beer Caps and from time to time, I’ve thought about adding Half Caps for beers like this one. I’d rate the beer at 2.5, but since I don’t have that system implemented yet and to be fair to my trade, I’ll give it Three Beer Caps. This is as I mentioned, a very simplistic beer and that’s how I’ll keep my closing argument. I hope you enjoy and have a safe St. Patrick’s Day!

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Posted by on March 17, 2013 in Empty Bottles

 

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Brux

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Hola fellow beer drinkers, we are gathered here today to talk about the recent bottle of suds I explored, Brux, as in the Brettanomyces Bruxellensis yeast (don’t name your kid that!). Brux is a Belgian-style ale collaboration between Russian River Brewing and Sierra Nevada Brewing and I’m sure all of you are acquainted with these two breweries. Russian River Brewing continues to be highly regarded among craft beer circles whereas Sierra Nevada Brewing’s success at times gets them brushed as a macro brewer. I enjoy drinking beers from both breweries, in fact I like that Sierra Nevada is so accessible and I can walk into any grocer and pick up a case or six of their beers. Russian River beers on the other hand, can be a pain in the ass to find because of their limited availability and distribution.

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The ale had a very simple aroma of citrus and banana mixed with the wild yeast funk. An aromatically pleasing ale that has a refreshing sip of bright citrus notes with banana and pear flavors, these last two add subtle hints of sweetness. You also get a bit of a grassy flavor with enough tartness to finish the sip; very enjoyable. The ale’s moderate carbonation wraps your tongue in all those pleasing flavors I describe. I enjoyed drinking this beer very much and turned out to be a nice pairing with the dinner I made that day. I have additional pictures below.

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This Belgian-style ale has nice bright flavors, but nothing too overpowering and can easily be paired with lots of your home made dishes. For dinner this day I made a balsamic vinegar roasted chicken and a side dish of roasted root vegetables seasoned with salt, pepper, and rosemary, a very earthy dish that married well with the ale flavors. Overall the beer had great flavors but I was left hanging, wishing, waiting for those faint notes of pear and banana to crash the party. Four Beer Caps, it’s almost an excellent beer and I shall be buying one to cellar; let’s see if age will grant the extra Beer Cap.

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Posted by on March 4, 2013 in Beer & Food, Empty Bottles

 

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Abbey – Belgian Style Ale

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Craft Beer can be expensive as we all know, so every once in a while I go to my local grocery store and get one of those 12 packs that has a variety of beers, in the end, those cases of beer can cost the same or even less than that $18 bottle. I have to say that every time I pick one up, I’m never disappointed in the product they put in those boxes, sure they have some that I wouldn’t buy on its own, but since it came in the pack, I’m glad I picked it up and it helps me try new beers. The pack I purchased a few weeks ago was from New Belgium Brewing, it was the Folley Pack that had their Spring offerings and in the case, I found three bottles of the Abbey Style Ale. I drank two of them and the third bottle, I used it to make dinner on a Sunday night and I made a Beer Braised Chicken dish, it was delicious and I include the recipe in this post and you’ll definitely want to stick around for it.

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The Abbey Style Ale had some of the common aromas you’ll find in this style, it was a bit boozy with some alcohol being very present, some of those biscuity smells too like bread and some yeast funk, and this beer was very malty, it smelled delicious. The Ale has a medium body with low carbonation. The taste is primarily malty, you’ll get lots of malt throughout the sip and will combine with a bit of banana and vanilla sweetness up front, finishing with a yeast and alcohol flavor. The bottle noted it had some anise, but I failed to smell or taste any of it, even though I let it sit to reach room temperature.

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This is a a beer that really surprised me, I was not expecting it to be up there in my rating system. As I previously mentioned, these 12 packs I tend to buy, have a mix of bottles that please me, on average they are Three Beer Caps, but this particular Abbey Belgian Style Ale merits Four Beer Caps from me. If you’re reading this, get to the store and pick one up and make sure you also get the rest of the ingredients for the Beer Braised Chicken recipe I have below for you.

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The Abbey Ale marries well all of the ingredients from the recipe. You’ll experience a nice and creamy broth with great earthy flavors from the ale, mushrooms, and beans. It’s a lovely home-made flavor made for these cold winter days. I got the recipe off the Food & Wine website and didn’t have all of the ingredients available, like the anise seeds and saffron, but the flavors came out great.

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Ingredients:

  1. 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  2. 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  3. 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons pure olive oil
  4. 8 skinless chicken thighs
  5. 2 tablespoons anise seeds
  6. 4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  7. 1/2 teaspoon loosely packed saffron threads
  8. 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
  9. Salt
  10. 1 cup shelled fava beans
  11. 1/2 cup fresh peas, preferably English peas
  12. Freshly ground black pepper
  13. 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  14. 1 pound button mushrooms, halved
  15. 8 scallions, thinly sliced
  16. 2 thyme sprigs
  17. 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  18. One 12-ounce bottle Belgian beer
  19. 1/2 cup heavy cream
  20. 1/4 cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  1. In a small skillet, toast the anise seeds over moderate heat, shaking the skillet, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Let the anise seeds cool slightly, then crush with the side of a knife.
  2. In a mini food processor, combine the toasted anise seeds with the chopped garlic, saffron, paprika and cayenne. Add the lemon juice and puree. Transfer the mixture to a large, shallow bowl and stir in 1/2 cup of the olive oil. Add the chicken thighs and turn to coat with the marinade. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
  3. Meanwhile, bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil. Add salt and the fava beans and cook for 1 minute; using a slotted spoon, transfer the fava beans to a small bowl and let cool slightly. Add the peas to the boiling water and cook until tender, 5 to 6 minutes; drain. Peel the fava beans and add to the peas.
  4. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large enameled cast-iron casserole. Remove the chicken thighs from the marinade, scraping off the excess. Season the chicken with salt and black pepper and cook over moderately high heat, turning occasionally, until browned, about 10 minutes. Transfer the chicken thighs to a platter.
  5. Wipe out the casserole, add the butter and heat until melted. Add the halved mushrooms, sliced scallions and thyme and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until any liquid has evaporated and the mushrooms are browned, about 8 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the mushrooms and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Slowly stir in the beer and bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the casserole.
  6. Return the chicken thighs to the casserole and season with salt and black pepper. Cover and simmer over low heat until the chicken is tender and cooked through, about 25 minutes. Add the cream, fava beans and peas, increase the heat to moderate and cook uncovered until the sauce has reduced slightly, about 5 minutes. Discard the thyme sprigs. Serve the chicken stew in shallow soup bowls, sprinkled with the parsley.
Make Ahead: The braised chicken can be refrigerated overnight. Reheat gently and garnish with parsley before serving.
 
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Posted by on February 12, 2013 in Empty Bottles

 

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Tart of Darkness

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Not a lot of reviews on sours have been posted on the blog and it surprises me as I’m fond of them, but I rarely set them aside for me to save for a review. I can count the number of sours I’ve posted on the blog, maybe four, this would be my fifth or so, definitely not a milestone, but lets treat it as such, it’s variety people! I can’t recall drinking a Sour Beer that’s been worthy of a Five Beer Caps rating and I’ve set a goal to search for one in 2013. How’s that for a New Years Resolution?

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Today we’ll delve into Tart of Darkness, a sour beer from The Bruery in Placentia CA, it is a Sour Stout aged in Oak Barrels. This is a beer that was very aromatic despite the serving recommendation of 50°F. When you pour the beer and reach to sniff, you’ll notice that it has a very strong tart smell. The aroma of sour cherries is also noticeable and although the bottle reads it, I couldn’t pick up any of the “roasty” ingredients.

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I love anything sour like warheads and sour patch kids and when I took a sip of the beer, I was reminded of that kind of sour. I could taste some citrus peel and sour cherries, the combination of these two flavors up front I enjoyed. I’m not an expert when it comes to serving temperatures, but when it comes to beers from my personal experience, a beer on the warmer side has a lot more character and that’s what happened with the flavors of this beer. The roasted character flourished just enough, it wasn’t strong, and you got some of that smoky oak and malt. A full bodied sip as expected for a stout with a nice coating of the tongue from the carbonation. I was puckering the entire time I drank this from the sour dry finish and waiting for kisses, but my wife was nowhere to be found, as is normal during my beer research.

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This is a sour that went in a different direction, but a good direction. It’s a very drinkable beer, despite being on the extreme end of the sour spectrum, I enjoyed drinking it. A lot of people out there love this beer, I’m not there yet, but its worth giving Four Beer Caps out of Five. Pick one up and share with some friends.

Rating4

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Throw one back for me ~ cheers!

 
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Posted by on January 17, 2013 in Empty Bottles

 

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