Kickstarter Shouldn't Be Your Brewery's Contingency Plan

Kickstarter Shouldn't Be Your Brewery's Contingency Plan

It seems like every new brewery is taking to Kickstarter to help their future fans launch their brewery. I get it. The sense of ownership, the feeling of helping a friend, the sense of community, and the cool rewards (stickers, beer, growlers, "brew with us" events). 

The problem is that breweries seem to be relying TOO MUCH on Kickstarter. 

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It's been a while

Life has kept me from blogging about beers recently. I've been updating and sharing on the Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/tomsbeerhouse), as well as hosting bottle shares every so often. You can see what I've been drinking if you follow me on Untappd.

 

I hope to start reviewing beers again soon. Is there anything you want to see me review? And of course, I'm always open to you guys sending me beers. Shoot an email to tom[dot]williams[at]gmail[dot]com.

#16 - Dogfish Head 120 Min (2014)

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Dogfish Head's 120 Minute IPA is one of those beers that, while it's a yearly release, can be tough to track down. This is mostly due to the fact that since it's so well loved and appreciated, it flies off of store shelves.

Some times you're lucky, and you catch wind either through the store owner/beer guy, or through social media, and you can get a bottle or 2. At $10 per 12 oz bottle, it's a stretch to convince your significant other that you NEED that second or third bottle. But it's so worth it.

 

DFH bottles this beer once a year. The current batch has a bottle date of 3/27/14. This beer is a hop head's dream. Continuously hopped during the entire 120 minute boil, rumored to be with additions at every 3 minutes. Then it's dry hopped some more for a month.

This is a damn hoppy beer, but the malt really balances it well. And speaking of things that aren't hops in this beer, it also runs at 18% ABV. This has led some beer geeks and reviewers to call this more of a super hoppy barleywine than an IPA, and I would agree. It's got the color and mouthfeel of a barleywine, with the hops of an imperial IPA. Unike Sixpoint's Hi-Res, where the alcohol snuck up on you, it is very much present in every sip of 120 Minute.

I hope you can get your hands on this year's run. It's selling quick. I was lucky to have a friend who runs a bottle shop hold me two bottles, in addition to the one I stumbled across a few weeks ago. One I drank tonight, one I'm cellaring, the 3rd is of undetermined fate. Good luck in your search, and let me know what you think, if you get your hands on one. And of course, I'm always open to trying older vintages, if you have one you want to share

#14 - Ballast Point Sculpin IPA (can)

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ballast-point-sculpin-ipa-can-cropBallast Point Sculpin IPA is a damn fine IPA, and is exactly what you expect from a West Coast IPA. It smells like fresh fruit, mango, peach, apricots. It pours golden amber with a roughly inch head that fades to a collar as it warms up. The smell is absolutely amazing, everything a West Coast IPA should be. The "sting" that Ballast Point mentions definitely is there. The hops very much stick around and coat your mouth. It's a damn smooth IPA, at 7 % ABV and 70 IBUs. It's not super bitter, and it's not super hot.

Now to the Ratebeer style review:

Appearance - Golden amber, light carbonation, off white head

Smell - Smells like fresh citrus fruits, with malt slowly sneaking in. Alcohol smell creeps up as it warms

Mouthfeel - Lightly carbonated, coats the mouth. It definitely sticks around.

Taste - Tastes like it smells, with herbiness as it fades out. You get some heat, with the 7 % ABV

Overall - 4/5 . A very solid IPA. I can't compare it to bombers (but I'd love to) or draft (but I'd really love to), but it's very good. I was happy to see it on my trip home from work, One Stop Market in Haverhill, MA has a great beer selection and I look forward to getting more from not only Ballast Point but everything else they carry.

 

Lucky #13 - Victory Brewing Company "Storm King"

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StormKing-bottleFor lucky #13, I present Victory Brewing Company's Storm King American Imperial Stout. This beer lives up to the name. It's a very dark, very intense beer. Lots of flavors, lots of malt, and lots of alcohol.

It pours dark black, and a heavy pour brings a 1-1/2 inch head. The smell is lots of roasty malts, and the alcohol hits you as well.

The taste is very complex, with the malt taking over everything. Toward the end, it fades to coffee and chocolate, with the hops poking their head in. The alcohol is very much there as well.

This beer runs at 9.1% ABV, and it definitely make you aware of it. I enjoy this one quite a bit, and it definitely opens up as it warms. I'd love to cellar a bottle and try it in a year. This is a year-round beer, so you should be able to find it anywhere that sells Victory beers.

#12 - Sixpoint Brewery "Hi-Res"

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Tom's Beer #12 is Sixpoint's "Hi-Res". I hope you get to pick this one up. Harkening back to Spinal Tap, this beer "goes to 11" both figuratively and literally (it's a theme of the beer).

This is a scary beer, for a few reasons. I love it, and I'll tell you why it's scary in a minute. First comes some basic info.

This beer runs at 111 IBU, and the first sip really brings that out after a couple of seconds. It's 11 SRM, so a deep amber. It also is 11.1% ABV, and that is the scary part.

When you first sip, you get the sweetness of the malt, then all of a sudden you get a hop bomb all over your tongue. This beer has a crazy amount of bittering/flavor hops, but you don't get that in the smell almost at all. As it heads down the throat, you get a little bit of the ABV burn, but it's hidden well. So well that you could drink this beer very rapidly, and a lot of it. The fact that this is such a smooth beer at 11.1% ABV is incredible.

I highly recommend you get this beer if you can find it, and are a hop fan. It's a seasonal beer, so get it while you can. Overall 4.5/5.

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#11 - Smuttynose "Durty: Mud Season (2014)"

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This is a fun beer to review. It was released originally as Short Batch #18, and has graduated into a spring seasonal. This is a "durty" brown ale, that's hopped like a Double IPA. It runs at 8.4% ABV, and 97 IBU. It pours dark reddish-brown, with a light brown head that doesn't stick around but does lace well.

The smell is very clean, leaning much more toward hoppy than brown.

The taste is all hops, with the malt sneaking in later. According to Smutty, the hops used are "Bittering-Magnum, Flavor- Nugget, Dry Hop- CTZ and Chinook" while the malt is "North American 2-Row, Munich 10L, Chocolate, C-60, Brown Malt" with White Labs WLP-001 American Ale yeast. This is a very complex taste that you really don't expect from a brown ale. Everything bounces around, and you get lots of flavors all over the tongue and all throughout the drinking process.

This is a beer that I feel like I really deserved today, after shoveling my driveway out. It started shipping in January (my bottle said best by 6/6/2014). Distribution is obviously limited, so pick one up while you can.

I give this one a 4/5. A very good hop-forward brown ale. The hops are very well-balanced against the malt, and the ABV is very subtle. It definitely mellows out as it warms.

#10 - Stone Brewing Company "Enjoy By 02.14.14"

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The Stone Enjoy By series is one of my favorite recurring (but slightly changing) beers. This is a beer that is specifically crafted to not last. The flavors and aromas in this beer will not be nearly as good after the "Enjoy By" date, and you WILL NOT find that batch on the shelves after that date. If you're a hophead (and in a state that the current batch of Enjoy By is distributed to), definitely pick one or more up. You'll probably see this one near you, as this was the largest batch made, and it was released to roughly half of Stone's markets.

You have in your hands a devastatingly fresh double IPA. While freshness is a key component of many beers - especially big, citrusy, floral IPAs - we've taken it further, a lot further, in this IPA. You see, we specifically brewed it NOT to last. We've not only gone to extensive lengths to ensure that you're getting this beer in your hands within an extraordinarily short window, we made sure that the Enjoy By date isn't randomly etched in tiny text somewhere on the label, to be overlooked by all but the most attentive of retailers and consumers. Instead, we've sent a clear message with the name of the beer itself that there is no better time than right now to enjoy this IPA

It smells like dank, wet, West Coast hops. Tropical fruit and sweetness. Definitely some of the Simcoe "cat piss/onion" smell, but not as much as previous versions.

Color is a dark golden amber, with a thick head that turns into a few millimeter ring of bubbles. Not a whole lot of bubbles in the glass. Very clear.

Simcoe really shows up in the taste, especially when you first get it in your mouth. The herby, resiny flavor sticks to your tongue. Not super bitter, but lots of flavor. The malt backbone brings out good sweetness. Can't really taste the alcohol, despite this version running at 9.4% ABV.

Very smooth in the mouthfeel. Not too thick, but it definitely clings. As it's not super carbonated, there's not a super dry feeling.

Overall, this is definitely a favorite for me. It hits all the BJCP notes to a T.  This is a beer that seems to fly off shelves, if only partly because of its scarcity. This is a scary smooth, easy drinking Double/Imperial IPA. Buy this one if you can.

ME #2 - Reunion Ale ’13 – A Beer for Hope

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Reunion Limited Release / 8% ABV / 22oz. Bottle This was a collaboration beer (Smaltz and Terrapin) brewed with cocoa nibs, vanilla, cinnamon and coffee. It is an American Brown Ale brewed to raise funds and awareness for the Institute for Myeloma and Bone Cancer Institute.

Beer pours dark, but when held up to the light it has tawny/red tint that was surprising.  The carbonation was moderate and the head was off-white to brown in color, appropriate in size and hung around for a while.  Ultimately, the head ended up dwindling slowly to a set of small bumpy bubbles that rested nicely on the top of the brew leading to quality lacing as I sipped.

The beer was generally clear and free of particles. All the scents noted in its description: cocoa nibs, vanilla, cinnamon and coffee, were present. They were all there but the coffee and cinnamon stuck out for me, with the cinnamon clearly out front.

As I sipped, the flavors blended nicely and there was a taste of tobacco and leather which I found to be pleasing. The body was medium a bit slick, and slightly acidic. Although this was a fairly tasty beer to sip, it’s probably best as a limited release.

I think it would be far less appealing if it were available year round. I’m glad they release it to benefit a good cause. I know the novelty of it, and its potential evolution will keep me trying it each year.  Although this is an American Brown Ale, I think this could reach the far corner somewhere near where it could easily be confused with a porter (in my opinion).

On a Rate Beer scale: Appearance: 3/5 Aroma: 6/10 Palate: 4/5 Flavor: 6/10 Overall: 14/20

Feel free to contact us if you have a recommendation for a beer you think we should review: michael.p.earner@gmail.com or tom.williams134@gmail.com

ME #1 - Victory Brewing - Dirtwolf

Victory Dirtwolf

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Available year round / 8.7 ABV / IBU (Not listed, but guessing right in the 65-75 Range) / 12 oz. Bottle

Poured easy into a 12 oz beer mug, ended up with about ¼” of white head that lasted about two minutes. The body was golden-yellow, bright, and clear. The beer looks like it has a fairly thin body, but I don’t think Victory aspired to achieve anything close to balance here…this beer is clearly about the hops. In fact, American hops crush your nose from the time you pop the crown. At first, there is some subtle underlying pine scent, but the big ones are grapefruit and citrus. Clearly, this is a moderate-heavily hopped beer, but is still less than that overwhelming dank bitterness you get in some DIPA’s. The citrus flavors help to keep this bitter beast palatable and the carbonation is medium, which compliments the medium bodied mouth feel, making this easy to drink. You are left with the pine and grapefruit after you drink, which subsides when you get the blast of citrus in your nose while moving towards your next taste.  Overall, this is an enjoyable DIPA that I would drink again. I was expecting a bit more from it based on what I have heard from others. However, that doesn't mean I didn't enjoy this brew.  It is a very, very good beer, just slightly more towards a "common" DIPA than I would have liked. On the Rate Beer scale: Appearance: 5/5 Aroma: 9/10 Palate: 4/5 Flavor: 7/10 Overall 18/20

Feel free to contact me if you have a recommendation for a beer you think we should review: michael.p.earner@gmail.com.

If you've had Dirtwolf, please share your thoughts in our poll.

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#9 - Sixpoint Brewery - Sweet Action

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Sweet Action is a classic style Cream Ale. It's a balanced beer, with not too much bitterness from the hops, and not too much sweetness from the malt. This is a perfect fit into the style. BJCP says that Cream Ales have faint sweetness and faint hoppiness. This was a good example of the style, and a nice break from the farmhouse/saisons we started our night out with, and the IPAs and stouts that came later in the night. Sixpoint makes some very good beers, and this is one of them.

#8 - Smuttynose - Smuttlabs: Pure Biss

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If you're sensing a Smuttynose theme, that's because one of our guys works part time at Smutty and brought some stuff he had laying around. Up next is a beer that very few people have ever tasted. There are only 77 checkins on this beer EVER. It's a very off the wall beer, purely experimental. While you've tasted a witbier, this unconventional witbier gets its swerve from the contributions of Chef Jamie Bissonnette. Instead of the traditional coriander and orange peel, Jamie brought kaffir lime leaves, spruce tips and 25 pounds of grapefruit zest to the brewday.

The biggest taste I noticed was the spruce tips. The grapefruit and lime were definitely evident, as well as the grapefruit zest, it smelled and tasted like walking through a forest. Unfortunately, someone had to mention how they thought it smelled like soap, so that became all the rest of it tasted. THis was a very interesting experiment, and I look forward to whatever comes next from Smuttlabs.

Pure Biss Vital Stats (from the Smuttynose blog):

5.4% abv 15 IBU

Malts: North American 2-Row, Wheat, Flaked Wheat, Flaked Oats Hops: Bittering-Magnum, Flavor-Sterling Yeast: White Labs WLP-400 Belgian Wit

Batch Size: 30 barrels, packaged in 5.2 gallon kegs and crown finished, 375ml bottles.

#7 - Prairie Artisan Ales - Eli5abeth Midwest Farmhouse Ale

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Next came a fun, flavorful, very interesting beer: Prairie Artisan Ales "Eli5abeth Midwest Farmhouse Ale." This beer is fermented with apricots and two strains of brettanomyces. Dry, citrusy and funky. You definitely taste those farmhouse notes, with leather prominent in the smell. This beer was exactly what you expect from Saison/Farmhouse style beers. It was full-flavored and enjoyable.

#6 - Smuttynose - "Bouncy House"

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Next came NH's Smuttynose, from their Short Batch series, Bouncy House. As the implied, this was a limited run, all bottle in November 2013. Smuttynose's main goal was to make a beer that is low in alcohol, high in flavor, and hoppy. Some might call this a "session IPA" as it is hoppy and runs at 4.9% ABV, but Smuttynose wanted to avoid labels and called it a hoppy ale. From Smuttynose:

When you taste Bouncy House, you'll taste a modest malt bill of North American 2-row, British pale ale malt, C-60 and Aromatic malt mashed for a refreshingly light body that leaves plenty of spotlight for a melange of Warrior, Calypso, El Dorado and Citra hops.

This was a very smooth, low ABV IPA with detectable hops, but they weren't over the top. Malts were definitely there, and while complex, also very light. We enjoyed drinking this beer, and it was a nice slow ramp up to the beers coming later. Another good quality, flavorful, easy drinking beer.

#5 - Logsdon Organic Farmhouse Ales - Seizoen Bretta

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This was the first of many beers in our latest tasting night. It was definitely an interesting beer, and I enjoyed it. If you like Saison/Farmhouse Ales, I recommend this to you. It comes from Oregon's Logsdon Organic Farmhouse Ales. From the Logsdon website:

This unfiltered bottle of seizoen, with it's beeswax seal, is naturally refermented and carbonated with select yeast strains, producing fruity and spicy flavors that are balanced by hops and soft malt character. Special Brettanomyces yeast provides added dryness and crisp complexity to the Seizoen Bretta.  Bottle conditioned with pear juice for a natural carbonation.

Honestly, we didn't notice the pear juice (we also didn't know it had it in there, as we hadn't read up on the beer. It ran at 8% ABV, and that was not clearly evident. It definitely had the farmhouse smells you expect, with the crisp bite of a saison. The addition of Brettanomyces brought out a pleasant Belgian-style beer note (dat phenols). This was definitely a fun first course, and is a very smooth, easy drinking beer.

#4 - Allagash Black

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Tonight's beer is Allagash Black. This is a very fun to drink beer, with lots of sweetness while still maintaining its stout character. Dark malts, dark fruit flavor. A good beer to drink to end the night.

Allagash Black is a Belgian style stout brewed with 2 Row barley, torrified wheat, oats, both roasted and chocolate malt and a generous portion of dark caramelized candi sugar. The silky mouth feel is a great balance to the roasted character, coffee and dark chocolate notes expressed throughout this beer.

Appearance: Dark black, with a thick caramel head. Head fades slowly, leaving lots of lacing. Heads leaves a nice 1/8 inch halo, with some staying on top of the beer.

Smell: Smells very much like a Belgian beer, with the sweetness of the candi sugar coming through. Almost none of the malt comes through

Mouthfeel: Light and silky. Very smooth. Clings to the tongue

Taste: The taste is dominated by the candi sugar, then turns into the typical Belgian taste. I started to taste the "stout-y" malt taste about half way through. Flavors of dark fruit work their way through.

Overall: I'm very glad I finally picked up this beer. It's very complex, and tastes wonderful. I recommend this beer to fans of Belgian beers, as well as fans of stouts. There are lots of complex flavors, and I really like it.

#3 - Magic Hat Brewing "G-Thing"

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G-Thing was part of the Magic Hat 2013 Winter Wonderland seasonal pack. From their website, this is a 5.7% ABV, 25 IBU beer with ginger juice and cinnamon added, hopped with Magnum and Northern Brewer on a Pale, Caramel Vienna, Caramel Munich, Victory, Chocolate, Wheat malt base with English Ale yeast:

G-Thing! is a Ginger Spice Ale led by a fresh ginger zing that's followed by a bready malt backbone. Its subtle roasty notes and mild hop bitterness slowly give way to a serene cinnamon spiciness as the malt tones melt away.

Appearance: Dark brown, with minimal head. Head fades to a halo very quickly. 3/5

Smell: Smells of dark malts. Smoky, slight ginger and cinnamon smell. Malts more than anything else. 6/10

Mouthfeel: Thin, with light carbonation. 3/5

Taste: Tastes like it smells. More malty than anything else, but not overly flavorful. 6/10

Overall: A decent beer. Magic Hat puts out decent beers, but there is nothing that stands out about this beer. They definitely tried to make something big and cool, but fell short. 18/30