Monday, June 28, 2010

Cigar City Hunahpu Imperial Stout

oh my, my hunahpu...

I couldn't resist sharing this week, as I was lucky enough to hit up one of my local favorites, Peg's Cantina, and discover that they had an old keg of Cigar City's Hunahpu Stout on draught. has it as the 13th best beer in the U.S., and 17th best in the world. Brewed once a year, this is a bit out of season right now, but I still can't imagine a better way to end an evening with friends. Deep and dark, this beer seems to stain the glass (and I think the 1/2 glass I spilled re-stained the wood floors!). Cigar City calls it a Mayan Chocolate Imperial Stout, and that works - it's got heaps of Peruvian chocolate (although maybe it should be Mexican, Guatemalan, or Belizean - where the Maya live and lived), pasilla chiles, cinnamon and vanilla beans. They say it's "a nod to the frothy cacao drink consumed by the ancient Mayans." If this is what the Mayans were drinking, they sure as heck knew what they were doing! At 11%, this is a hefty brew, and a unique one too. The base stout is certainly yummy, and it does so well with the chocolate and vanilla. Then the chiles come in and leave a slight chocolatey hot-spice at the back of the palate. Oh my, my hunahpu...

This once a year brew seems to be an attempt to rival Three Floyds Dark Lord event, and based on the huge crowds and quick sell-out, Cigar City might be up for the challenge. I just feel lucky to be here for the first couple years of this fabulous brewery. With plans in the works to expand production, more people on the East Coast should be seeing their beers. If you ever see a Hunahpu, grab it! Then stash it away for awhile, because you have one of the best beers in the world in your hands.


Sunday, June 27, 2010

Week 20: A Novel Pilsner

1. Lagunitas Undercover Investigator Shutdown
2. Furthermore Oscura
3. Stone Arrogant Bastard
4. Southern Tier 2X IPA
5. Dogfish Head My Antonia

"There seemed to be nothing to see; no fences, no creeks or tress, no hills or fields. If there was a road, I could not make it out in the faint starlight. There was nothing but land: not a country at all, but the material out of which countries are made."

It's book quotations like this that make craft beer so beautifully delectable. I haven't read Willa Cather's My Antonia in many years, but, nonetheless, maybe my affinity with Dogfish Head is so strong because both Sam Calagione and I hold English degrees, or maybe it's because he makes one amazing Imperial Pilsner.

Just like enjoying sours over the winter, I am now trying to adjust my palate to Pilsners. There was probably no real good reason why I never gravitated toward them. I thought they just "seemed" weak, kind-of bland, and oh yeah, they are lagers. Lagers just have never done it for me. If I delve a bit deeper into how a lager is made I might find that missing essence that IPAs or even Imperial Stouts are made up of.

So is it all in the hops? Probably. My Antonia is sweet and hazy on the palate and eyes. And if you close your eyes, the beautiful floral hops can make you feel something that the passage above makes me feel, something simple and handmade, something where images in your head manifest before you, something euphoric. And all along you were just drinking a pilsner.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Week 18 and 19: A Carnival Ride for the Palate

1. Dogfish Head Festina Peche
2. Dogfish Head Immort Ale
3. Victory Brewing Co. Pursuit of Pale Ale (Hand Pump)
4. Lagunitas A Little Sumpin' Sumpin' Ale
5. Ommegang Hennepin
6. Bear Republic Hop Hod Rye
7. Ballast Point Sculpin IPA
8. Ithaca Apricot Wheat
9. Lagunitas Pale Ale
10. Dogfish Head/ Stone Brewing/ Victory Brewing
Saison du Buff
11. Furthermore Fatty Boombalaty
12. Coronado Idiot IPA
13. Stone Ruination
14. Sly Fox Pikeland Pils
15. Philadelphia Brewing Co. Newbold IPA
16. Coronado Islander IPA
17. Youngs Double Chocolate Stout

Philly Beer Week came and went. It's over. I have realized one thing about beer week and that being that next year I need a budget. I need a well thought out plan for what events I will attend, and I need to buy some beer dinners and reservation spots ahead of time so that I don't end up saying, "Awww I missed that." Or, "Yeah, I am totally going to go there." This is what happened the majority of the week. I blew it this past week. I tipped over the pint on the bar. I shoud be fired from this blog.

The list above has a lot of favorites. And with it being a scorcher outside, I even put a wheat in the mix. I don't even think I can find it in me to write about half of these brews. There are a few amazing Dogfish Heads mentioned. With it being summer you should try to develop a taste for Festina Peche. It's more like a sour to me, but incredibly refreshing. It's peach flavored and that can turn most beer lovers' flavor switch off. I find the best complement to Festina to be the collaboration beer, Saison Du Buff. This is probably the most unique and best beer that I have had all year. Three great brewers are all part of this one. You can find a Stone Brewing or Victory beer on my lists, just as often as a Dogfish. Saison Du Buff is brewed with parsley, thyme, sage and rosemary. It is totally earthy, fruity and of course herby. It is pretty amzing that the ingrediants compliment each other throughout. A summer saison for the earthworm in all of us.

Coronado is quickly becoming one of my favorite breweries this summer. Their Idiot and Islander IPAs are both super clean, well balanced. Coronado made their way to Manayunk during Philly Beer Week and some of my haunts still have it available on tap.

Cheers until next week.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Week 17: Spicing it up this week

1. Port Brewing Co. Wipeout IPA
2. Founders Spite Pepper Pale Ale
3. Terrapin Brewing Co. Side Project 2010 Capt'n Kruncles
4. Dock Street Brewing Co. Saison
5. Manayunk Brewing Co. Krooks Mill APA
6. Yards Brewing Co. Philadelphia Pale Ale
7. Lake Placid Brewing Honey Wheat

Philly Beer Week 2010 has begun. Granted, all the beers listed above are from last week, but most of them put my taste buds in high gear. This beer week arrived at an amazing time of the year in Philadelphia. There is, of course, amazing beer events going on all around the city and suburbs, the Manayunk Bike Race has thousands of people a few blocks down from my house right now and the Flyers are on another crazy comeback in the Stanley Cup. Mix all of these things together and you are looking at smiles and stumbles from Philadelphia to Phoenixville.

Back to the beer. Port Brewing! Their Wipeout IPA is a fantastic treat any time. A beautiful head sits nice and pretty giving way to some lovely lacing throughout. A big hoppy nose pulls you in to each citrus sip. Fruit and hops are what this beer is all about. Pick one up, go find it and its friend Hop 15, and have a great night.

After ordering the Founders Spite Pepper Pale Ale, I was instructed to drink it with food. I don't think a salad was what my server had in mind. There was such an overpowering nose that it was locked in my senses until the next day. It was a bit reminiscent of Rogue's Chipotle Ale. The taste was hot. It had a warming feeling down your throat that lingered on your palate. I'm not even sure what peppers I could taste, but a habanera was one of them. There was nothing hoppy about this one. It was down right just a spicy beer that you should totally try with a big meal.

I will try to get something else posted pretty quick. It is quite impossible to get to lots of beer events this week. I will probably only make it to a handful. And you will hear all about it.

Cheers until next time.