Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Kentucky Ale - Beer Review

Kentucky Ale has been around since 2000 and I think the panelists were all surprised by it's smooth, pleasant taste. It's supposed to be a mix between an Irish red and an English pale ale. This is a precursor to our next video - Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale. They are both the same ale, but Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale is aged in used bourbon barrels for about six weeks.

Partial Transcript
"On Tap -- Kentucky Ale

Hi. I'm James Knott and today we are talking about Kentucky Ale from Alltech's Lexington Brewing Company in Lexington, Kentucky. The brewery's parent company Alltech is a biotech firm that makes animal nutrition, health and performance products. One of their specialties is yeast, hence the jump to brewing.

The brewery has been selling beer since 2000. There are only 3 beers in its lineup and Kentucky Ale is its flagship beer.

The brewery describes the beer as a blend between Irish Red Ale and English Pale Ale. They give credit for the flavor to the local water which runs through limestone aquifers underground. It has 5.3 percent alcohol by volume and is light copper in color. They add a pinch of wheat malt for a smooth creamy taste.

Q&A

Kentucky Ale runs (???) laps at the derby. Tune into our next episode Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale -- which is Kentucky Ale aged in used bourbon barrels.

Drink responsibly. Save the planet. Be a nice person.

I'm James Knott and this is your Better Beer Authority."

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A Good Reason to Visit Tadcaster, England...

I have been surprised at how much I like Samuel Smith's beers.  I'm currently five beers into my attempt to try all the brews at Samuel Smith's Old Brewery.

It started when we reviewed Samuel Smith's Imperial Stout on the show.  I was so inspired that I went looking for it later that week at the grocery store.  Then, out of curiosity, I tried Sam Smith's Oatmeal Stout and that was even better.  Now add Nut Brown Ale, India Ale and Taddy Porter to the list.  These are all great beers.  In general, they are full-flavored malty beers, and boy, are they delicious.

Here are my BBA Ratings so far...

Oatmeal Stout - 10 - the oats add a nice creaminess
Imperial Stout - 9 - great sipping beer, good night cap
Taddy Porter - 8 - delicious roasted barley
India Ale - 8 - this English India Pale Ale is not hoppy at all, reminds me of golden ale
Nut Brown Ale - 8 - nutty flavor and probably the thinnest mouthfeel of the group

A couple more to go.  I'm not sure what else is available locally.  If anyone has any suggestions on other Samuel Smith's offerings, then leave them in the comment section.  Also, let me know if you love or hate these guys.  I want to know if other people out their are as excited as I am.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Pittsburgh Brewery Tour

One of the joys of traveling is the opportunity to try new beers.  We spent July 4th weekend in Pittsburgh.  Craig (BBA Webmeister) and I spent an afternoon browsing some of the local favorites.  We hit East End Brewing Company, Church Brew Works, Penn Brewery and Rivertowne North Shore.

Our first stop was a non-descript building between what looked like an abandoned factory and several rundown homes in the shadow of a freeway overpass.  The sign was just a spray-painted stencil with the hours written in marker below.  East End Brewing Company had a very independent, off-the-beaten path feel.  We weren't sure what were getting into based on the bleak store front, but this stop did not let us down.

When you walk in there is a small bar with no stools and about 10 taps.  To the right of that there are some bottled beers, T-shirts, pint glasses and other gear for sale.  Scott was behind the counter and offered us some free samples of the beer on tap - which was very useful since we did not even know where to start.  When we told Scott we were at the first stop of our brewery tour, he was very forthcoming with information about other good local breweries and it gave you a feeling that it was a tight-knit community.

What happened next surprised both Craig and I.  People started walking in one after the other with empty growlers that they wanted to have refilled.  Pretty soon, the small front room was becoming claustrophobic and we realized that East End has a hard-core fan base.  After we tasted the beers, we had enough evidence to support this conclusion.

There is no place to sit.  You can only get beer to go.  However, this place is worth a stop for any beer enthusiasts who find themselves in Pittsburgh.  You can also find their beers on tap at many local bars and restaurants.

Next, we took a trip to opposite world.  Church Brew Works is a brewpub located in a magnificent former church building - "cathedral" might be a more appropriate term.  The ceiling rose high above the eating area and bar.  Brewing equipment towered over the room, perched where the choir once sat.

If the ambiance doesn't knock you out, then the beer certainly will give you another blow.  They had about eight beers on tap with a pretty decent variety.  Craig really liked Ambrosia Ale.  I thought that the Furnace Blast Stout was amazing.  It was a coconut stout and I've never had anything like it.  The coconut complemented the roasted chocolaty flavors of the stout so nicely.  This beer definitely has the potential to be a hit nationwide.  It was my BBA pick of the day.

On a side note, someone looking for a gateway beer to the craft world should check out Celestial Golden which was a fairly standard lager with good smooth flavor.

After the underground feel of East End and the grandness of Church Brew Works, the Penn Brewery felt pretty tame.  They focused on German-style beers.  They had one English pale ale and about 6 or 7 German beers on tap.  The building was interesting.  It had a dark, traditional, aged, wooden feel to it.  Craig and I both agreed that the Hefeweizen was the top pick.  It seemed like a good example of the style and the wheat flavors were delicious.  Penn Dark came in a close second.

Finally, we stopped at Rivertowne North Shore.  This is a great place to go if you want a wide selection of great beers.  They had both local and national hits behind the bar and any beer enthusiast could find something to get excited about.  Unfortunately it felt more like being at Ruby Tuesday's than a local brewpub.  They don't actually brew beer here and if you want the brewpub or local brewery experience then I'm told it's better to go to their Rivertowne Pour House in Monroeville.  I was so unenthused by this place that I forgot to take any photos.  Don't get me wrong, if your down by the Heinz Field or the casino, then this is a great stop, but I wouldn't put it high on your brewery tour list when you hit Pitt.

All in all, it was a great afternoon.  East End and Church Brew Works were my favorite, but I would be happy to belly-up at any of these destinations.  Pittsburgh has enough local flavor to keep the restless, roaming beer geek happy.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barley Wine Style Ale - Beer Review

Are you hungry for pancakes? One of our raters described this as a sweet, syrupy yet complex beer with maple flavors perfect for your favorite breakfast menu item. Or, is it the perfect nightcap with a warming alcohol sensation that's sure to make you drowsy? Find out what time of the day the Better Beer Authority is looking to enjoy Sierra Nevada's Bigfoot Barley Wine Style Ale.

Partial Transcript: "On Tap - Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine

Hi. I'm James Knott and this is your Better Beer Authority. Today we are talking about Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale. This is made by the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company in Chico, California, which was established in 1980. This is the 26th special release of this "Beast of a Beer."

Bigfoot has 9.6% ABV and has 90 IBUs. Beer writer, Michael Jackson, refers to it as "probably the world's hoppiest barley wine". This is a big beer loaded with lots of pale and caramel malts along with Chinook, Cascade and Centennial hops.

What is a barley wine? Barley wines are not wines at all. These beers are top-fermented ales that have wine-like alcohol levels and sometimes some winey flavors. However, they are brewed with barley, which is a grain and not a fruit, and therefore they are beers.

Q&A

Bigfoot Barley Wine was seen (???) times by the locals. Let us know what your favorite barley wine is in the comment section.

One good book that highlights several top barley wines is Michael Jackson's "Ultimate Beer". It can't hurt to read up on what you're drinking.

I'm James Knott and this is YOUR Better Beer Authority."