Sierra Nevada – Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale 2012

On this night, I bring thee Sierra Nevada’s Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale for the 2012 year.

Sierra Nevada - Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale 2012

Sierra Nevada - Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale 2012

From the website (as there is no text for the label):

Our award-winning barleywine boasts a dense, fruity bouquet, an intense flavor palate and a deep reddish-brown color. Its big maltiness is superbly balanced by a wonderfully bittersweet hoppiness.

Well done.  Well done, indeed, good sirs.  Carrying a 9.6% ABV, this is a very excellent brew, on a similar vein of the Ruthless Rye, and Samuel Smith’s Imperial Stout.  Good barley, excellent scent, and a well rounded flavor, with the tart of the hops.  It’s not too bitter, goes down very nicely, and has a great color.  All in all, a very good brew!

Look:★★★★½ 
Smell:★★★★☆ 
Taste:★★★★½ 
Feel:★★★★½ 
Overall:★★★★½ 

Sierra Nevada – Stout

I’ve been on a Sierra Nevada kick, it seems.  Tonight, I’m trying out their Stout.

Sierra Nevada - Stout

Sierra Nevada - Stout

From the label:

Sierra Nevada Original Stout is brewed with generous amounts of deep roasted malts, providing a bold, roasted coffee and dark chocolate flavor with a hint of sweetness.  This full-bodied American version of the traditional black ale is perfectly balanced, with big malt flavors and earthy whole-cone hops.

To be honest, it’s a bit bitter to me.  It’s got the coffee/chocolate flavor, but it’s that last note that hits my palette the wrong way.  Good alcohol burn going all the way down, with a 5.8% ABV, which is surprising at such a low percentage.  I could chalk that up to the Stout brewing, as this is not the first time I’ve felt that burn.

Look:★★★☆☆ 
Smell:★★★★☆ 
Taste:★★★☆☆ 
Feel:★★★★☆ 
Overall:★★★½☆ 

Samuel Smith’s – Imperial Stout

Tonight, to celebrate getting a particular, mission critical server back up and running at work today, I am enjoying a Samuel Smith’s Imperial Stout.

Samuel Smith's - Imperial Stout

Samuel Smith's - Imperial Stout

From the label:

Brewed at Samuel Smith’s small, traditional British brewery with well water (the original well sunk in 1758 is still in use), best barley malt, roasted barley, yeast and hops to create a rich flavourful ale; deep chocolate in colour with a roasted barley nose and flavour that is a complexity of malt, hops and yeast.  Fermented in ‘stone Yorkshire squares’. This distinctive type of ale was originally shipped to Imperial Russia; it was a favourite of Russian nobility.

My spellcheck hated that.  It’s the ‘u’ in words that American english revoked.

Anyway, at a 7% ABV, this is surprisingly smooth.  Well rounded, dark and heavy as expected.  It’s an import, so it’s a tad more expensive than I’d like, but still very nice.  Compared to other Imperial Stouts I’ve had, this is about average, but less so on the ABV.  So similar to the Cutthroat Porter, I may not seek this out again in more quantities that what I’ve had.

Look:★★★☆☆ 
Smell:★★★☆☆ 
Taste:★★★★☆ 
Feel:★★★☆☆ 
Overall:★★★½☆ 

Fox Barrel – Rhubarb & Elderberry Pear Cider

m4s0n501

Today, we bring you the Fox Barrel Rhubarb & Elderberry Unfiltered Pear Cider.

Fox Barrel - Rhubarb and Elderberry Pear Cider

Fox Barrel - Rhubarb and Elderberry Pear Cider

From the label:

Pear Cider Infused With Rhubarb & Elderberry Juices & Organic Honey

Naturally fermented using 100% pear juice, not from pear-juice concentrate, or flavored hard apple cider. Unfiltered, using racked pear-wine, infused with rhubarb & elderberry juices. Smoothed with organic honey.

A deep plum colored cider. A big robust nose of elderberry with a background of rhubarb. A crisp, tight tart start which rounds out to sweeter elderberry & hints of honey. A zesty, drinkable cider with an almost vinous complexity but a subtly creamy mouth-feel.

No added colorants, sugar, sorbate or benzoate preservatives. No added malt, spirit, grape or apple-cider alcohols. Give a full bottoms up tilt and vigorous swirl to disperse unfiltered pear-wine sediment evenly though the bottle.

A very pleasant aroma and taste, and a unique color!  Most definitely not your standard cider, the pear gives it a very different flavor and scent.  The pear is heavy on the aroma, more than the elderberry so stated on the label, but the elderberry and honey do win over the flavor.  Went very well with the fish we had, as it was light and airy to match the meal.  It’s a 6.5% ABV, so a bit stronger than your average brew.

As a side note, Fox Barrel is a side-company of Crispin, so they are very closely related.

Look:★★★★☆ 
Smell:★★★½☆ 
Taste:★★★½☆ 
Feel:★★★☆☆ 
Overall:★★★½☆ 

Crispin – Lansdowne Artisanal Reserve

Today, as part of the St. Patricks Day celebration (with more very yummy corned beef), we bring you another Crispin cider, the Landsowne Artisanal Reserve.

Crispin - Lansdowne Artisanal Reserve

Crispin - Lansdowne Artisanal Reserve

From the label:

Give a full bottoms-up tilt and swirl to disperse unfiltered apple-wine sediment evenly.

Naturally fermented with original Irish stout ale yeast using a premium blend of fresh pressed apple juice, not from concentrate, with not added malt, spirit, or grape alcohol.

A full bodied, confident & imposing cider.  Brown, deep and rich, a slight hint of butterscotch, balanced by a subtle fruitiness and slightly dry crisp finish with a uniquely full & buttery mouth-feel.

Lansdowne’s Artisanal Reserve cloudy hard cider is unfiltered and uses racked apple wine smooth with pure organic molasses, a kiss of organic honey, and no added colorants, sorbate or benzoate preservatives, and is best served ice-cold or over ice for bold, crisp refreshment.

Similar to the Honey Artisanal, it has a fine sediment that should be swirled into the bottle.  It’s not highly carbonated, but be gentle anyway, and serve over ice.

It has a wonderful color, a mix between a light cider, and a stout.  The scent is good, prominently apple, and sweet, but on average with other ciders.  However, the taste is very extraordinary, when compared to other ciders.  6.9% ABV makes this a slightly heavy hitter for ciders, but likely due to the stout ale part of it.

Look:★★★★☆ 
Smell:★★★☆☆ 
Taste:★★★★½ 
Feel:★★★★☆ 
Overall:★★★★☆ 

Samuel Adams – Wee Heavy

The brew for myself was the Samuel Adams Wee Heavy, part of their Imperial Series.

Samuel Adams - Wee Heavy

Samuel Adams - Wee Heavy

From the label:

Inspired by the traditional Scotch Ales, has a deep, intense flavor from its dark roasted malts.  The addition of peat smoked malt adds a unique flavor of the Highlands to this complex brew.  Enjoy!

I found this particular brew very heavy on the palette, with a thick fluid, accompanied by a heavy flavor.  Very similar to a stout, it’s dark and potent.  A special note on this brew should be made, as it’s one of the few brews that can be, and even suggested to be, aged.  This is the third of the brews I have found that offer that up, as most will go bad after an expected date (the other two being Stone Brewery’s Vertical Epic and Russian Imperial Stout).

At a full, unbridled 10% ABV, I guarantee that this will hit just about anyone like a ton of bricks by the end.  It has a good burn that goes all the way down, not quite as powerful as a wine, but present well enough.

Look:★★★★½ 
Smell:★★★☆☆ 
Taste:★★★½☆ 
Feel:★★★★☆ 
Overall:★★★★☆ 

Crispin – Honey Crisp Aristanal Reserve

We’re going to have a flurry of posts tonight, from a few people.  The first comes from my wife, tasting The Crispin Cider – Honey Crisp Artisanal Reserve.

Crispin - Honey Crisp Aristanal Reserve

Crispin - Honey Crisp Aristanal Reserve

From the label:

Give a full bottoms-up title and swirl to disperse residual apple-wine sediment evenly & serve over fresh ice.

Experience and earthy, fruity bouquet with an authentic cidery aroma with hints of honey and a creamy full-bodied flavor with unusual complexity.

Naturally fermented using a premium apple juice blend, not from concentrate, with no added malt, spirit, or grape alcohol.

Honey Crisp Artisanal Reserve, Cloudy Hard Cider is unfiltered and uses racked apple wine smoothed with pure organic honey, and no added sugar, colorants or sorbate or benzoate preservatives, and is best served cold for smooth, yet crisp refreshment.

Our initial attempt was not to the recommended standard.  There is a fine sediment at the bottom of the bottle, which should be swirled into the rest of the cider.  We will have to buy another bottle.  Aw darn.

But, the cider was very crisp, a perfect color and flavor.  Crispin does mark the bottle correctly, with a beautiful aroma.  At a 6.5% ABV, it’s very nice, almost a white wine.

Look:★★★★★ 
Smell:★★★★★ 
Taste:★★★★★ 
Feel:★★★★☆ 
Overall:★★★★★ 

The Great Server Migration of 2012

So, what went wrong?  Is it just that time again, when Bryan goes and forces the servers to balk at his every whim?  …well…maybe.

My services at Lunarpages, my previous web host since 2006, has been lack-luster of late, with something having gone completely wrong in the last couple of months.  It seems that when ever I worked on my website, and worked a little too quickly, I would trigger the Apache security module, mod_security.c.  This, of course, was a problem, as I was banning myself.  Shared hosting makes for tricky bedmates, as you’re not completely in control.

To resolve that problem I did what any good server admin would; review my options.  What I wanted was a Virtual Private Server (VPS) or a Dedicated Server, so I could have complete control, and still have functions that I am used to.

  • Lunarpages has a VPS solution, but the sales person sized me up to the Xen Pro bundle, which for a one month contract comes out to $79.00
  • FDC Servers has a good array of services, but the cheaper ones are way under-powered
  • Dreamhost is about the same, cheap, has a lot of options, but the good stuff is way too expensive
  • 1&1 was who I went with in the end.  Good service, nice server options, which makes for the best bang for the buck

Needless to say, I had a few problems porting over.  I’ve had to reimage the server once, upload the site files twice, then finally say “FFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUU!!!!!!!!” and reinstall WordPress from scratch.  My wife’s site and forum are good, but everything that was the root of harshmage.com got wiped because of the weirdness.

Back to business.  St. Patrick’s Day is tomorrow, and since I’ve been reviewing brews, it’s crunch time.

Mississippi Brewing – Mississippi Mud Black & Tan

Tonight is very different.  A common sight at Sprouts, who has a small, but not your average stock of brews, has the Mississippi Brewing Company’s Mississippi Mud Black & Tan, a Porter & Pilsner blend.

Mississippi Brewing - Mississippi Mud Black & Tan

Mississippi Brewing - Mississippi Mud Black & Tan

From the label:

Dating back to the 18th century England, the custom of blending pale and dark beers has kept the “Black & Tan” a favorite of experienced beer drinkers for centuries. Our famous recipe combines a robust classic porter with a fine continental pilsner, preserving the character of each, while creating the classic taste of the legendary “Black & Tan”. We bring you the best of both beers as the meet in Mississippi Mud.

Smells of a porter, but the first flavor note tastes of a pilsner.  The ending finish is a porter again.  Somewhere between all of that, the flavor just doesn’t jive well with me.

Beautiful color, dark with a hint of red.  It’s a standard 5% ABV, comes in a neat growler (jug, for non-beer drinkers).

Going to change how I rate, to be similar to Beeradvocate.com :  Look, smell, taste, feel, overall.

 
Look:★★★★½ 
Smell:★★★☆☆ 
Taste:★☆☆☆☆ 
Feel:★★★☆☆ 
Overall:★★★☆☆ 

Odell Brewing – Cutthroat Porter

Tonight, I bring a new item to the table: Odell Brewing Co.’s Cutthroat Porter.

Odell Brewing - Cutthroat Porter

Odell Brewing - Cutthroat Porter

From the label:

Not quite a stout but definitely no lightweight, Cutthroat Porter is smooth and robust.  Inspired by the classic London porters, we use dark roasted malts to create a deep, rich color and flavor that hint at chocolate and coffee.

A very deep flavor indeed.  The coffee/chocolate combination is there on the last note, along with the malts, which I find the downside.  Smooth and hardly bitter.  Excellent color, as porters go, and a pleasing scent, which smells as it tastes.

I have no problem with this brew, but I may not be seeking this brew out in the future.  Good balance, 5% ABV, but just enough to make it “okay”.

Rating: ★★★☆☆