Beer Zombies year in review, Part 1 Local Beers

vegas2.jpgAs we draw close to a new year I’ve been looking back on all the great beers that I had a pleasure to pour down my throat. I decided to put together a list that I will be uploading in parts. It will be my favorite beers of 2015 broke down into styles/categories. I will add three beers to each style and they wont be in any order except that they where my top three in that category. Would love to hear feedback on my list in any form! So to start things off I will go with:

 

FAVORITE LOCAL BEERS

Morning Joe ( Kolsch ) – Banger Brewing 

http://bangerbrewing.com

ABV: 5.4% IBU: 25

This one was a huge win in my book, intense  burst of coffee, hazelnut aromas and a flavor that follows perfectly to the nose.The brewers at Banger accomplished this by dry hopping the base Kolsch with 4 lbs of French Caramel coffee and 4 lbs of Hazelnut coffee beans.  The addition of the coffee adds a wonderful flavor and creaminess to a beer style that is known to be  crisp, clean and balanced.

 

7th Anniversary Bourbon BA Ale w/ Vanilla & Cocoa Nibs – Joseph James Brewing

http://www.jjbrewing.com

ABV: 11% IBU: 50

This rich, complex, full-bodied ale was made by combining two of JJ’s popular bourbon barrel-aged beers. They where then blended to taste and conditioned on top of raw cacao nibs and vanilla beans. Do you like snickers bars? I know I do and anything that has a remote taste profile as a snickers is going to be consumed with joy. The vanilla dances gracefully with the char and wood flavors. Finishes with enough heat to let you know its been aged in bourbon barrels. Delicious!

 

BA Morning Pay Off ( Imperial Stout)  – Bad Beat Brewing 

http://www.badbeatbrewing.com

ABV: 8.8% IBU: 40

A complex blending of oats, wheat, smoked malt, lactose and 6 other ingredients create the perfect base to throw in some locally roasted beans from Mother Ship Coffee. A super solid example of a barrel aged stout with coffee. The flavor gives way to earthy fresh ground coffee, burnt malts with a slight pepper on the finish. Bringing in the barrels adds a wonderful woodsy character to the beer. Super smooth and easy drinking stout with no detection of the abv.

 

 

 

Well that is part 1 of my list of best beer I drank in 2015, check back for the next installment and please leave comments on either here or the Facebook page.

 

Cheers,

BZ

 

 

 

 

Beer Review – Fundamental Observation – Bottle Logic Brewing

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BA VANILLA IMPERIAL STOUT

ABV – 14.3%

APPEARANCE: Have you ever danced with the devil in the pale moon light? No, well neither had I until I started pouring this devilishly black beer from the bottle. I popped the cap and heard a slight hiss like a demon coming from the depths. Slowly pouring the bottle the beer takes control and begins to dictate how fast it wants to be poured. Filling up the glass inch by inch and producing the smallest mocha colored head that just floats lazily atop the beer.

AROMA: As soon as I popped the cap and heard the hiss, it was followed by a massive attack on my nostrils of vanilla. Not just any vanilla, but intense Madagascar vanilla beans. The nose on this stout is absolutely incredible, there is no way to deny that this is a vanilla infused beer. After shaking off the beauteous sent of vanilla you can start to pick up the hints of bourbon, oak from the barrel, cocoa powder. Don’t get me wrong this is 100% a vanilla bomb of aroma here.

TASTE: If my mouth was a steam locomotive and vanilla beans where the fuel source that would be close to the flavor you get from the first sip. Continuing on down the Fundamental tracks you begin to indulge in fresh gooey brownies sprinkled with walnuts and warm toasted marshmallows floating in bittersweet hot chocolate. Next stop is bourbon town with a few of the barrel flavors jumping on board. Ever so slight heat is there, followed by figs, currants, dark chocolate, molasses cookies, and black licorice. Pulling into the station the beer comes around to remind you that this is a Madagascar Vanilla bean beer, that combined with a bit of vanilla picked up from the barrels really interlocks all the flavors and pulls this beer together so nicely.

MOUTHFEEL: If you ever licked the chocolate cake batter off of a beater then you will get the mouthfeel on this. It doesn’t just coat the tongue it envelops the whole mouth. Combine that with the lazy carbination and you have a real deal sipping beer on your hands. The finish is long and creamy with vanilla sliding its way down your throat.

OVERALL: This beer is in my top 5 beers I drank so far this year. Its been called the Vanilla Rye killer, 100% agree it blows VR away in my opinion. I’m a huge fan of vanilla and this hits all the right buttons. I will put it out there that this is my favorite BA or non BA vanilla beer in any style that I have ever had, if you have one that you think could knock this one off the top please tell me!

RATING: As much as I try not to give out perfect ratings I cant find any reasons not to.

5/5 Zombie Heads!

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Beer Review – Black Damnation One – Black Berry Albert – De Struise Brouwers

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Russian Imperial Stout

ABV – 13%

APPEARANCE: This Stout poured like it was being punished, almost like it was afraid to come out of the bottle. Slow, and menacing it filled up my stout glass and consumed it in utter darkness. I began to rough pour to produce a head, it billowed up quickly a chestnut brown foam that began to recede back into the blackness as quickly as it was produced. Left over was a small halo and a bit of spotted lacing that attempted to stay around as I drank but finally gave up.

AROMA: And I will strike down on thee with great blackberries and a furious chocolate aroma to those that will attempt to describe the layers of aromas coming from this beer. Upfront the blackberries do come out rich, deep and jammy.The addition of the port barrel aging is producing a very interesting vinous note, that is a welcomed change from the usual big bourbon barrel notes on a BA stout. Big burst of chocolate, roasted espresso, slightly burnt toasted bread and scorched toffee. As I get in for another nose full, the jammy berry aromas seem to be turning into more of a black cherry, raisin and plum. Very enjoyable aroma with quite a bit of layers that play off each other and open up new additions each time I go back for another smell.

TASTE: Blessed is he, who in the name of Belgian beer and Blackberry stouts, shepherds the unknowing through the valley of Black Damnation, for he is truly his brother in beer and the finder of new flavors. Like small chocolate warriors holding fresh picked blackberries swords are having a battle in my mouth. Lots of big bold flavors going on here, the berries are first and foremost with the rich chocolate and french pressed coffee coming in nicely. The mid palate shows some addition of anise, and a roasty bitterness that seems to be setting the stage for the next act of flavors to come in. Come in it does, with the additional time to let the temperature come up the port wine barrel flavors begin to emerge bringing with it a delicate spicy Belgian yeast note. The 13% abv peaks it monstrous head just enough to let you know its there without having an overly hot taste. The ending has more fruit flavors not necessarily black berries but a mesh of dark fruits, black currants, raisins and plums.

MOUTHFEEL: Medium plus body with a low carbination. Slick and slightly creamy the body is perfect for sipping this stout.  Every sip coats the mouth in a lovely lingering finish full of all the best aspects of the flavor profile. Right when you think it could not linger any more it suddenly drys up leaving a delicious after taste of Belgian style yeast.

OVERALL: Being this is my first experience with anything from the De Struise Brouwers, I don’t have anything to use as a standard. Set against other stouts/ba stouts/fruit stouts it does shine. What I really enjoyed about this beer was that after the first initial blast of berry/port like favors and aromas it still stands out as a RIS delivering everything you would expect with just a touch of Belgian spices and yeast to pull it all together.

RATING:   4.5 out of 5 Zombie Heads! Leaving a little room on the score for the chance of having a regular version of this to compare.

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Beer Purchased at:

Top Shelf Wine & Spirits

Address: 6415 S Fort Apache Rd #100, Las Vegas, NV 89148
Phone:(702) 701-9463

Beer Review – Creme Brulee – Southern Tier Brewing

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Creme Brulee – Southern Tier Brewing

Imperial Milk Stout

ABV – 9.6%

 

APPEARANCE: As I began to pour this beer it slowly came gurgling out like it was waiting for an invitation. Black motor oil liquid that devours the glass into a deep darkness. Small amounts of a milk chocolate rim variations sit underneath a dense latte colored head. Dense and tightly bubbled head that has a long lasting retention.

 

AROMA: Imagine taking the best creme brulee you have ever smelled, chopping it up and snorting it. Ya that’s what this beer smells like. Its insane I can smell the intense vanilla bean aromas from 2-3 feet away. Loads of caramelized and slightly burnt brown sugar join the vanilla as dominate aromas coming forth. If you can get beyond the vanilla and sugar there is a very creamy milk aroma and marshmallow that gives way to a slight cocoa dusting. It honestly smells amazing I’ve never gotten this much vanilla on the nose of any beer before, outstanding!

 

TASTE: Liquid custard, heavy cream, vanilla Nesquik tons of lactose that adds a residual sweetness that is delicious as a creme brulee is. There is a slight break in the upfront sweetness that shows some malt characteristics, caramel, nuttiness with some light espresso flavors. The presence of vanilla is undeniable, although it doesn’t quite dominant the palate as it did on the nose.That leaves room for the caramelized and burnt sugar flavors to join in on the fun. As this beer begins to warm up it does reveal a layer of the traditional stout flavors, with some bitter chocolate and roasted malts that tie this beer together and really round it out.

 

MOUTHFEEL: Low plus carbination with a medium plus body. Almost drinks like a melted creme brulee milk shake, with a very creamy mouthfeel. The nearly 10% abv can be detected and i think its a welcome reception to remind myself that this is a beer after all.

 

OVERALL: Its funny to read all the reviews and see how people are bashing this beer for being to sweet. Did you not read the label and see its said “Creme Brulee” and “lactose sugar” ? I for one new exactly what I was getting into, I saved it for after dinner, late night when i was ready to drink my dessert and it did not disappoint. It drinks like liquid creme brulee, that a stout was poured on top of and then flamed. Whats not to like about that? The nose on this beer is in the top I have ever let my nostrils consume, amazing. My only complaint I would say is there is a thin line when letting this warm up, its nice to get the stout flavors to come out but let it get just a tad warmer and it does start to get a medicinal, astringent thing going on.

RATING: 4.6/5 Zombie Heads!

 

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2015 Firestone Walker “From the Barrel” Recap

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The fifth annual From the Barrel took place over this past weekend at the beautiful Santa Margarita Ranch. This sold out event was the most unique beer event I have had the pleasure of attending. Couldn’t have asked for better weather or a more picture perfect venue to hold this 1920’s inspired night. All of the unique spirits, ports, and beers were barrel aged to truly make a most memorable night.

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FEATURED BREWERIES:

Almanac Beer Co. Ballast Point Brewing, BarrelHouse Brewing Co., Black Market Brewing Co., Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project, Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co., Firestone Walker Brewing Co., Hermitage Brewing Co., The Libertine Pub & Brewing, The Lost Abbey, Mother Earth Brew Co., Ninkasi Brewing Co., Pizza Port Brewing Co., Russian River Brewing Co., Societe Brewing Co., Telegraph Brewing Co.

Also in attendance were some amazing distilleries, wineries, and restaurants, being a Beer Zombie I’ll focus on the beers!

The beers on hand seemed to be equally divided into barrel aged stouts and sours.

Overall favorite sour being poured was from:

Hermitage Brewing Company – Strawberry Sour

http://hermitagebrewing.com

1627 S. 7th Street, San Jose, CA 95112

Talking with brand manager Nicole Marquez I came to find out this sour was brewed especially for the event. Even poured out of a labeless bottle, this sour was absolutely amazing. I highly recommend searching this out and trying it if you get a chance.

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Overall favorite stout being poured was from:

Firestone Walker Brewing Company – 2015 Parabola

http://www.firestonebeer.com

1400 Ramada Dr. Paso Robles, CA 93446

Even though I have had this multiple times, it was the first time having it on draft. It’s an almost perfect example of a ba stout. Plenty of rich, chewy roasted malts, charred oak and bourbon-like vanilla fill the palate and create a seamless finish. If you haven’t had this do yourself a favor and make it happen.

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From The Barrel went on until 10pm with plenty of libations flowing and dancing. Music provided by Ventucky String Band http://ventuckystringband.com , overall a very unique way to taste some amazing barrel aged beverages, food and indulge in 1920’s inspired music and fashion. I suggest buying tickets early next year and joining in on the fun, I know I’m already counting down the days until the sixth annual!

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BBA Monsters’ Park Release – Modern Times

Modern Times Beer release the new Monsters’ Park series today. Tickets went on sale from Brown Paper tickets at 10:00 am this morning. I managed to grab one bottle of each. The bottle count was extremely low 600 bottles of each version where made. The coconut and cocoa sold out in under 2 minutes, followed by the coffee variant in under 5 the base version hung around a little longer before selling out in 12 minutes. Looking forward to not only tasting the new beers but having another reason to return to the Modern Times brewery.

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MONSTERS’ PARK AGED IN BOURBON BARRELS
Black as oil and thick as blood. A vigorous pour produces a two finger, deep brown head. The mouthfeel is very full, with healthy, prickly carbonation. The aroma pops big time: major notes of bourbon, oak, chocolate, and toasted nuts waft out of the glass. The flavor is very powerful, with bourbon & roast malt leading the charge, followed by vanilla-y oak, caramel, dark chocolate, and those toasted nuts again. The finish lingers for days, with sweet malt and bourbon dominating. A seriously intense but very well-rounded barrel-aged imperial stout. The roasty intensity of Monsters’ Park is a beautiful match for the sweetness of bourbon.

MONSTERS’ PARK AGED IN BOURBON BARRELS W/ COFFEE
We learned from our first experience adding coffee to barrel-aged Monsters’ Park: this beer soaks up A LOT of coffee before it gets to the KA-POW level we’re aiming for. So we added nearly 3 times as much coffee in two separate doses to make it really pop. The coffee aroma leaps out of the glass in combination with the intense oak & bourbon notes. The flavor is drenched in fresh coffee, but not so much that it completely overshadows the amazing, chocolatey base beer. The roasted notes in Monsters’ Park combine with the coffee to produce a markedly intense flavor, like a chocolate covered espresso bean turned up to 11. The finish is coffee & sweet malt all day, with a noticeable vanilla oakiness & caramel hard candy coming through as well.

MONSTERS’ PARK AGED IN BOURBON BARRELS W/ COCONUT & COCOA NIBS
Wow, did this beer ever take a lot of work, but it was totally worth it. We toasted all of the coconut ourselves and went to great lengths to source the perfect combination of cocoa nibs. Needless to say, the results are spectacular & anything but subtle. It pours pitch black with a menacingly dark head that dissipates very quickly due to the fat from the coconut. The flavor and aroma are completely saturated with coconut & chocolate, but blend harmoniously with the strong bourbon & roast malt notes. This beer is explosively flavorful and completely coats the palate with coconut, milk chocolate, toasted bread, dark honey, and roast malt. Truly amazing.

Beer Review – 2010 Dark Lord – Three Floyds

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2010 Dark Lord – Three Floyds
russian imperial stout
15% ABV
50 IBU
APPEARANCE:  Poured a devilish black oil slick color. My snifter produced little to no head, the teku pour produced a small khaki colored head that settled into a nice halo. Head has stuck around with some spotted lacing, that is slow dancing down the glass.
AROMA: Instantly hit with black licorice and molasses. Reminiscent of bourbon county brand stout on the bouquet. Smells of rich dark chocolates and deep dark fruits, currants, plums and ripe plump raisins. Faint aroma of coffee beans hiding under the layers. Smells sweet and boozy at the same time, such an inviting aroma.
TASTE: I just made a deal with the devil, sold my soul for a bottle of beer! Amazing, chocolate covered cherries, floating on a bed of sweet malts. Intense flourishes of burnt caramelized fruits with a toasted nuttiness. The chocolate and sweetness gives way to nice warming alcohol heat that finishes with a nice port wine like flavors. If i had this in a blind taste, I would bet the house this was a barrel aged beer. I’m a huge fan of vanilla and this delivers an immense slap to the taste buds of Madagascar vanilla beans. Delicious!

MOUTHFEEL: For a hard pour that produced almost no head I was expecting a almost lazy flat beer.I was wrong, prickly hidden carbonation that expands into a wonderful creaminess with each sip. Nice burn from the high abv with a dry lingering finish that leaves the flavors hanging around for an eternity in my mouth.
OVERALL: As far as a Russian imperial stout goes, this gargantuan beer is the best I’ve had to date. The layers upon layers on both nose and pallet seem to be ever evolving. The sweetness is forefront without being cloying, the alcohol is present without being overbearing. All around an amazing beer for the style and amazing beer in general. The Dark Lord has risen!

RATING: 5/5 zombie heads!

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