Beer Review of the Week: Toronado 25th Anniversary.

T 25, Uploaded with Snapbucket

Please note that this is a review of the draft version. I haven’t opened a bottle of this….yet.

This week’s featured beer comes to us from Russian River Brewing, and was made to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of Toronado San Francisco. I could describe it, but I’ll let the folks at Russian River do that:

This unique one of a kind beer is a blend of 6 different beers: strong pale ale, strong dark ale, pale ale with currants, blonde ale, baltic porter, and Sonambic, or spontaneously fermentation beer. All components were made separately in barrels with brettanomyces, lactobacillus, and pediococcus added in their own individual processes. Then the final blend was determined by Vinnie and Dave Keene, owner of the Toronado. It has nice bouquet of brett, fruit, spice, vanilla, and oak. This a full-bodied beer with hints of oak and nice sourness in the flavor.

The stated blend is as follows:
4% Sonambic (barrel aged for 15 months)
16% Blonde Ale (barrel aged for 8 months)
36% Strong Pale Ale (barrel aged 12 months)
28% Ale Aged with Currants (barrel aged for 8 months)
12% Strong Dark Ale (barrel aged for 12 months)
4% Baltic Porter (barrel aged for 10 months)

This Beer of the Week is a couple days late, mostly because I knew I’d be heading down to the pub to sample T-25 (as the kids would say), and how could I not feature this beer?

Served in the standard Russian River chalice.

The body is a bright, copper color. Presented with a scant, brown tinged head. Good retention and nice lacing.

Acetic smelling, with vinegar aromas and some lemon sourness. Oak and grass. Green apples. Definitely presents itself as a sour beer if there was any doubt in our minds.

Big tartness, green apple flavors at first, then tending towards a lemon sourness. Some cut grass in the back ground. Berry fruit flavors, with a hint of caramel. Dry, with lively carbonation. The sourness really hits you in the face the first couple of sips, but as your tongue adjusts to it, more nuances start to come out. There’s even a hint of an oak woodiness from the barrel aging.

Yet again, this is another very nice sour from Vinny and the crew. Not the best example of the style from Russian River (that would still be Beatification, thank you very much), but a very good one. I really like the bold tartness. Love to see how this ages.

Happy Birthday Toronado!!


Beer Review of the Week: Ruhstaller 1881

1881, Uploaded with Snapbucket

This week’s Beer of the Week comes to us from a newer brewery from Sacramento, CA, Ruhstaller. The brewery opened up in 2011, and is named after Captain Frank Ruhstaller, a brewing pioneer in the Sacramento area. He opened Ruhstaller Brewery in 1881 (hence the name of this beer), and the new Ruhstaller is an homage to the man and his beer.

1881 is a “California Red Ale,” 5.6% ABV and 35 IBUs. It is presented in a 22 oz bootle, with the neck wrapped in what appears to be a portion of a grain sack. Nice touch. There is no bottling date.

The body is a deeply dark red color. A thin yet dense, dirty white head sits atop the brew. It retains a good amount of foaminess and leaves some nice lacing.

There’s a good amount of hops to the nose, with aromas of pine and citrus. The malt profile is strong, with aromas of molasses and caramel, with an undercurrent of roasted malt tones.

Sweet, caramelized malts with some chewy molasses flavors. Roasted nuts and some full, bready flavors. The finish is hopped up very nicely, with bitter pine flavors as well as a tart, grapefruit twinge. Finish is semi-dry, and leaves some lingering bitterness in the mouth, but there’s a big enough malt profile that makes this beer a nicely balanced treat.

This is a good opening salvo from this newer brewery. Has nice malt flavors to it, but also has a good amount of hops. This is a beer that could appeal to malt lovers and hop lovers. I definitely will pick up other beer’s from them to see what else this brewery is capable of.

Beer of the Week: Mo Betta Bretta

This is a collaboration between Lost Abbey and New Belgium. A golden, Brettanomyces fermented beer in a 12.7oz cork and cage bottle. Bottled on 5/23/12.

The body is a murky, golden color. Bone white head, with very quick acting bubbles. It fizzes out to a patchy cover; not much retention at all. Very little lacing on the glass. Not really that impressive looking.

The nose has some pretty bright and funky Brett aromas. Orange citrus and even some pineapple. Lite spicing, with aromas of pepper and sage.

Lots of fruit flavors initially: pear, apple and pineapple. Creamy mouthfeel. Pepper spice flavors are enhanced by the light carbonation. Very faint, earthy Brett flavors. Grass and hay on the finish.

This drinks a lot like a fruity Belgian golden. I really like the flavors a lot, but I wish the Brett was more present. It’s just not there enough for me. I’m wishing I would have let this age for a bit, as the Brett generally becomes more evident as it ages. Oh well. Still a pretty good beer.

New Belgium’s New Seasonal: Red Hoptober

According to a press release (you can read the whole thing here at Beer Pulse), Red Hoptober is now on shelves from New Belgium. Sounds good, but I’m kind of sad to see Hoptober go, especially after they pulled Mighty Arrow from their seasonal rotation. They sure are messing with their line-up lately.

A thing I find interesting from the release is the statement that “autumn [is]…right around the corner.” Really? Do I have my calender on the wrong month? Last time I checked, it’s still friggin’ July. When I was a kid, autumn wasn’t “around the corner” until I went back to school. Breweries releasing seasonals out of season is really starting to bug me.

…Anyway, the beer sounds good! (/rant).

Beer(s) of the Week: Pliny the Elder & Heady Topper

I recently acquired a four pack of Heady Topper, brewed by the Alchemist in Vermont, from the best person on the planet, cause he sends me awesome beer. So for this Beer of the Week, I decided to do a head-to-head, side-by-side, tasting of Heady Topper and Pliny the Elder, one of (some people would say THE best) the best IPAs in the world. I am a lucky man right now.

Ok, full disclosure. I live in Santa Rosa. I drink Pliny like water. It is by far my favorite IPA/DIPA/TIPA (I should copy write that) ever, based on every day availability. I admit I’m a fan boy. And I have had Heady before, so I have my opinions on both. Another thing to admit; this was not a blind tasting. I know that would be ideal and remove any biases, but anyone who has had a Heady would know that it has an insane amount of hop particles floating in it. Having the glasses side by side, I would know which one was the Heady immediately, so I figured there was no reason to even pretend to do a blind tasting. And I know the Alchemist tells you to drink it straight from the can, but if I’m judging it against another beer, it is only far to enjoy both of them under the same conditions (I ever chose identical glasses).

And, with that out of the way, here we go. Continue Reading

Beer of the Week: Uinta Birthday Suit

Our first ever beer of the week is from Uinta Brewing from Salt Lake City, UT. It is there 19th Anniversary Ale. It is an American Wild Ale brewed from cherries plucked from trees on the brewery property.

The bottle is 750ml, cork and caged, and bottled on 3/29/12.

Birthday Suit, Uploaded with Snapbucket

The body is bright pink in color, with darker red tones. The head is very light pink in color, with very active carbonation. It fizzles out to near nothingness.

The nose really showcases the fruit, with tart cherry aromas that dominate the all other aromas. There are soft, floral tones, kind of like rose petals. Being a wild ale, there are some faint musty tones, with some bready malts.

Cherries dominate the flavors as well, with a bright tartness. There are sweeter, cherry pie like tones that help cut the tartness, though the overall mouth feel tends to the dry side. Floral tones pop up, with some creamy wheat flavors as well. There’s some more semi-sweet cherry juice flavors on the finish, helping the sourness to drop down even more.

This would be a great intro sour for someone not familiar with the style. The sourness is there but nicely restrained, and it’s certainly more accessible than a true kriek. I drank this on a very warm day, and it was very refreshing.