Saturday, January 8, 2011


New year - new blends. The other day at Sam's Quick Stop, John told me to take a closer look at the labels of the latest delivery of Brooklyn Monster ... "This Monster was born in 2007" WOW - 3-year-old barleywine! What a mouthful - and at a very reasonable price.

Tonight, I dug up a year-old bottle of Hopslam (no real point in aging that much longer anyway) and decided to blend the Monster with the Slam - KAPOW! A monster with some hop-kick to it.

I really like blends that totally change things - and this one turns (barley) wine into beer. After 3 years barleywine is not SO sweet anymore - it has turned into a heavy, syrupy, vermouth-y drink with some sweetness and alcohol flavors. The Hopslam is REALY bitter after a year, and when you blend the two the 'slam takes the barleywine back into beer-territory. The bitterness mellows out the alcohol and remaining sweetness and adds more complexity and kick to the "wine" character.

Very interesting, complex blend. And VERY potent. Whew!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Smokin' Hops

If you like smoky beers, Brewdog's Paradox is one for you. This is a beer that tastes like it has spent all night at a cigar and whiskey bar. And if you like hops, Bell's Hopslam is a winner. But if you like to smoke your hops, well, put those two together.

Initially, just like the Paradox solo, the blend greets you at the door with clouds of cigar smoke and a whiff of Scotch. But then the hops kicks in and the smoke turns into a more floral, sweeter aroma, as the smoke and the hops mingle. Maybe like someone lit a big joint in a cigar bar?

Complicated flavors in this feisty blend. And you do have to like to smoke.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

High Five

Friday was good - Sam's Quick Shop got this year's batch of Bell's Hopslam. After I enjoyed most of a sixpack this weekend, I looked at my beer fridge and got a notion of popping open a can of TenFidy from Oscar Blues AND a Hopslam. I knew I was taking a bit of a chance here, because these are two really intense, almost explosive beers. I considered wearing safety goggles. But then I just did it.


High Five!

Big, malty SOB stoutness greets you at the door and then a hint of honey takes your hat and >>WHAM<< the hops delivers a whoppin' kick in the ass. Keep the change!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Big Happy Hopper

Hoppin' Frog's Oatmeal Imperial Stout (BORIS the Crusher) is quite an intense beer. Which is great - I love that it! But tonight I was in the mood to mess with that big fat bullfrog of a beer. I found a bottle of Big Hoppy Monster - Terrapin's "Imperial" Red Ale - and blended that with the "Crusher." The Monster is great. It has both the hops and the malt galore, but it does not have the sweetness to tie it together. The blend is very nice... it mellows out the crusher's oatmeal malt a bit and adds more hops in the nose, AND it brings out the crusher's sweetness, which by itself is buried under all that oatmeal malt. This blend is a big happy winner!
[PS.: I should mention that the Hoppy Monster was a bit aged - I acquired it in Nov. 2008 - so it had been in my fridge for 8 months.]

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Inauguration Blend

A historic day in America. This special occasion required a special beer blend. So I opened my bomber of last year's Sexual Chocolate Stout - an intense imperial stout from .... you guessed it ... Foothills Brewery. This is a dark beauty with intense, roasty maltyness and a feisty hop kick. If it's chocolate, it's dark, dark chocolate lingering in the back of you palate with a slight bitterness that blends with the hops.

I paired the year-old Sexual Chocolate Stout with a bottle of Flying Dog's Double Dog Ale. The malt character of this double pale ale gives the front of you palate a bit more to do and adds some sweetness. It mellows the stout a bit - the blend turns the whole experience more towards milk chocolate. It takes the edge off a bit and adds complexity at the same time. Very cool.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Indulgence Blend

The Indulgence Blend
This is a blend that rivals the "Sex on the Shortbus" - in flavor as well as in challenge. Today, after a huge, delicious Thanksgiving meal (I loooove that brined turkey!!) I decided that a proper digestiv was in order. Last year I had squirreled away some bottles of Bell's Expedition Stout, and then last spring I got some bottles of Dogfish Head's 120 Minute IPA. So I went down to my beer cooler and got a bottle of each of these delicious, slightly aged beers. I tasted each separately, then I blended them. They separated nicely, with the stout, again, dropping to bottom.

These two intense beers blend to a complex synergy of huge, mocha-caramel maltyness and in-yer-face bitter hoppyness, tied together by their sweet undercurrents (in the case of the "IPA" the sweetness is still almost a rip tide) and "tight" alcoholic nose. And. A. Long. Looooong. F.i.n.i.s.h.

After a year, the stout is settling down (I had some of this year's batch earlier this week) but the 120 Min IPA is still impatient and fresh after 6 months. I'll have another one a year from now :)

Maybe I should call this the "Patience Blend" ...

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Coffee Monster

Shopping for nutritious refreshments for this Thanksgiving Holiday, I came upon Terrapin's Monster Beer Tour at Sam's Blue Light. I procured two 4-packs - Wake 'N' Bake Coffee Oatmeal Imperial Stout and Big Hoppy Monster - both beers packed with flavor but not excessive on Alcohol (7.5 and 8 ABV, respectively). After enjoying half a pint of the happy Hoppy Monster (a big, overhopped red ale), I poured some of the stout in that glass, only to watch the thick creamy stuff drop to the bottom of the glass like a rock.

The resulting blend is remarkable: complicated, flavorful (to say the least) and a bit nervous. It retains the stout's strong alcohol, big malts, and adds the monster's bitter, immensly enjoyable hops bite. Not an easy alliance, but it does hang together, in the end, especially if you go easy on the stout.

Both good beers, but I think I'll hang on to a couple of bottles each, give them some time to see what happens. They both feel a bit fresh. I noticed the same thing with the Brooklyn Chocolate Stout. Good beer, but give it 10+ months and it turns into a great beer ...

Monday, November 17, 2008

Spontaneous Rogue Blendfest

At the end of the afternoon there stood 2 empty bombers, one empty 12-ounce bottle, and 3 very satisfied, rather wobbly beer blenders. We entertained a guest beer blender on Friday who instigated the day's roguishness, and neither of us can thank Bill enough for that - there was not a failed blend on the day.

First came Rogue's Imperial Red Ale, in the impressive black ceramic bomber. 9% ABV with an alcohol-sweet, malty character, this impressive ale practically screamed "blend me!" So we did. With the old standby, The Nectar from Camel City. Yovo took the bottle first, painstakingly (and slowly!) layering the blend with the Imperial Amber floating atop the Double IPA, as Bill and I sipped our Seeing Double pints down to the mid-glass blending level. I was not so patient with the pour, and added the Imperial Red at a pace sufficient to thoroughly mix the beers in my pint glass.

All agreed this was a fantastic blend, with the sweetness of the Red balancing extremely well with the characteristic Seeing Double hopsmack. As we savored the blend, Dain suggested adding a small dose (maybe 2 or 3 ounces) of Foothills' Total Eclipse Stout into the mix. We did. Fantasic quickly morphed into outstanding as the hearty stout managed to absorb some of the Red Ale's sweetness while at the same time countering the DIPA's hop bitterness. This was our first ever tri-blend, and we believe we have crafted a true winner.

Next came a bomber of Rogue's Double Dead Guy, a special one-time-release of this American doppelbock. Yovo and I had tasted this one before, but Bill had not, so we all enjoyed a few sips straight-up. Damn tasty stuff. Malty like a good doppelbock should be, but with a slight twinge of hops. A little out of character in a doppelbock, but we had no complaints. So... what to blend with it?

Yovo elected to enjoy his straight-up, and good for him. But being good little hopheads, Bill and I settled on Victory's Hop Wallop to up the bitterness ante. Of course, I was slightly intoxicated by the time this blend came to me, so I don't have much to say about it. It was a malty doppelbock mixed with a very hoppy ale, and that's what it tasted like. Not as good as the Imperial Red with Seeing Double and Total Eclipse, but certainly no slouch, and *definitely* not a failed blend.

I hope we'll be taking Bill to lunch with us more often.

Monday, November 10, 2008


The Shortbus. Our classic beer blend. How about a Shortbus party?!

Earlier this year, I found out - through well-informed channels - that our local purveyor of fine beers (Sam's Blue Light) had a couple of sixth-barrel kegs of Old Rasputin in the cooler. I was further informed that the kegs were going on 2 years old, and that they were available for a rather modest sum for purchase ($75). Without hesitation I paid a visit to Sam's and aquired one of said kegs.

So, as Halloween rolled around, I procured a pony keg of Foothill's finest Seeing Double IPA at the same establishment and hauled it home, just in time for our annual Halloween Party. I proceeded to cut open a steel barrel and carefully placed the two keg inside, filling the rest of this improvised "kegorator" with ice. I will always cherish the memory of that first pint of "Shortbus on Tap" ... and the second ... and the third ... and then my memory does get a bit blurry ...

The party was fun, and the beer drinkers present made a valiant effort. But 10 gallons (40 liters) of +9% ABV beer - that's a lot! But fear not! I filled some growlers and then my friend Bruce came to the rescue - with a keg and a CO2 bottle (he is an avid and very talented homebrewer). We filled the remaining 2-3 Gallons of Old Rasputin in his keg, and bottled the remaining Seeing Double in three 2-liter soda bottles and charged them with CO2. That'll keep the beer in good shape for a while, as we enjoy the occasional shortbus on tap at home.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Sex on the Shortbus

This is it. We might as well stop right here.

We believe we have found the ultimate beer blend, and we are worried that everything else will just fall short.

At the World Beer Fest in Durham (which was SUCH a happy place :)) the Shortbus meister and I made Jamie (Foothills' brewmeister par excellence) blend - in our little sample glasses - their two best beers: Sexual Chocolate Imperial Stout and Seeing Double IPA.

Aaahhhhh!!!! We named it Sex on the Shortbus. And it was damn good!!

What a mouthfull. Thousands of years of evolution and finally - the finest fermented beverage ever. This divine blend fills your palate with a barrage of flavors.

However - fear not. Probably we we will continue our exploits. There are so many more beers to blend. Who knows - maybe we'll find an even better blend. I doubt it, but who knows.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Deutsch-Amerikanische Freundschaft

See, I had this partykeg of Spaten in my beerfridge, and it had been "aging" for about a year. It's Labor Day Weekend and earlier today, after three hours of "open heart surgery" on our file server at work, I thought it was time to tap that little party keg to make sure it was still good. And boy was it ever still good. Nice crisp, malty Bavarian lager.

Of course I am a bit of a hop-head, and thusly I happen to own a couple of bombers of Great Divide's finest Hercules Double IPA. That's a suck-your-face-out hop-lovers nirvana of a beer.

So you can guess where I am going with this - I blended the two - about 2/3 Spaten 1/3 Hercules. Very VERY tasty. The maltyness of the Spaten still comes out nice and big at first, but then the hops kicks in and takes over to a looong, pleasantly bitter finish. Nice, friendly German American blend - hence the name German American Friendship.