Posted by: marcmwm | January 30, 2009

Beer O’ Clock

I’ve made one trip to Madison and two trips to East Dubuque, including a stop at Family Beer and Liquor Store, since the last one of these.

I’ve also done the beer-in-the-mail thing with Liquid Solutions ( The site has an excellent selection and very fast delivery, but shipping beer is expensive, so just know that going in.

Here’s a rundown:

Sierra Nevada Celebration: An annual American IPA from Sierra Nevada. I’m really starting to taste SN’s distinctive dry hops. I might be to the point where I could pick it out of a taste test. It adds an intensity that other IPA’s don’t have. This is for the hopheads. It’s not overwhelming, though. I wish I would’ve bought another sixer. Celebration Ale gets an A-minus on 1,762 reviews on BeerAdvocate. Sounds about right to me. A 6.80% ABV, so it’s not a knockout.

Double Bastard — Where to start? This is Arrogant Bastard Ale’s big brother. It’s the Frankenstein of American strongs. The aroma ranges from pineapple to big alcohol to maltiness and with some pine-y hops. Stone Brewing’s website says, “This malt & hop monster is not for the timid however, so beware.” It’s true. I put this in the one-a-nighter category, if you’re talking about the 22-ouncer. Some reviews mention an “oily hop” feature that my taste isn’t refined enough to pick up on. Don’t worry, I’ll try to push through. Double B gets an A-rating with 1,027 reviews on BeerAdvocate. It has a 10.5 ABV and is very, very rich.

Red Seal — It’s from North Coast, the maker of Old Rasputin. It’s an American amber with a 5.5 percent ABV. It’s not in the Anchor Steam class, as far as ambers go. The Seal gets a B-plus on BA, with the Alstrom Bros. giving it an A-plus. It’s pleasant but won’t find a regular spot in my fridge.

Three Floyd’s Robert The Bruce — A Scottish ale with 7% ABV, it’s sweeter and thinner than I thought it would be. It’s pricey in the $10 a six range (I picked it up at Benz), so that’s a consideration. It gets a B-plus on 511 reviews at BeerAdvocate. The thinness is a turnoff.

Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA — This is a mishmash of tastes, all good. It carries the requisite hop kick that you’d want and expect. Very thick and malty body. A fruity middle and alcohol bite at the end, not an overwhelming bite, though. It has a bitterness that appeals to me. BA classifies it as an American Double/Imperial IPA. That’s a slash that really, really works for me. It gets an “A” with 1,844 reviews on BA. 

Boulevard’s Saison — Really enjoyed this Beligian-styled farmhouse ale. I’d almost call it a “bubbly.” Just a terrific effervesence to it. I bought this in the fall and waited into the winter to drink it. It’s more of a spring/summer seasonal with its lightness. It’s part of Boulevard’s Smokestack Series, which includes four beers. With this enjoyable start, I’ll be moving on to the next three. It gets an A-minus with 88 reviews on BA.

Samuel Smith’s Nut Brown Ale — What a find! After liveblogging the last couple Iowa basketball games, hoops beat writer Scott Dochterman and I have stopped at the Wig and Pen in Iowa City. It was my first visit there and I was offered the beer list. I saw “nut brown” and just decided to take a shot. Since, I’ve picked up a four pack at Benz. It’s pricey ($11-ish a four), but it’s worth it. It gets an A-minus with 758 reviews on BA. It’s an English brown ale and it’s up there with the best. Nutty, hoppy, bitter, buttery, it’s a rich dessert of beers.

Obsidian Stout — This is one I picked up from Liquid Solutions. It was worth the expense. Roasted barley with sweetness and hints of alcohol, this American stout has just about everything going for it. It pours black like night, but it’s not as robust as a Russian stout. It’s not entry-level stout, but it’s one that might make you reconsider, if you’re just into hops. This is from the Deschutes Brewery in Oregon. It’s impossible to find around here, but it can be mailed to you. I’m glad I tried it, but I probably can’t afford to do that again. Obsidian gets an A-minus on 407 BA reviews.

Yeti Imperial Stout — I went on a huge Great Divide Brewing Company kick when I visited Family Beer and Liquor in East DBQ. I had to have the Imperial Stout. A black-as-night stout, it poors pitch black with an espresso coffee head. A bit chewy, it’s so thick. A little hop bitterness and molasses built in. Yeti gets an “A” on 687 BA reviews.

Hercules Double IPA — An American double/Imperial IPA, resiney, piney and citrus-y, I love this style of beer. A clean, bitter hop taste without much of the kick of the 9.1 percent ABV. It’s pretty expensive at $14 a four pack (Great Divide product), but I believe it’s worth a shot. BeerAdvocate gives it an A-minus on 806 reviews.

 Hibernation Ale — Another Great Divide brew, this is classified as an “Old Ale.” I’m not sure what that means, but I really enjoyed this one. Bitter, chocolatey, earthy, this one has a little of everything. The alcohol is a strong element, but hops and sweetness come through at the end. Gets an A-minus on 530 reviews on BA. Thoroughly enjoyable.

I think that brings us up to date. I didn’t experiment much with beers in Florida. I wish I would’ve.

Gotta get on John’s mailing list, so I have a beer assignment. Also, I’ve been tipped off that they have Sierra Nevada’s Bigfoot down there. Highly recommend.


  1. I’ve not seen the Boulevard Saison — I’ll have to keep an eye out for it in the spring. It sounds like something worth experimenting with! I like their Wheat for something light — not much for strong, thick drinks.

  2. Some outstanding beers on that list. Some you can get around here–Robert the Bruce, SN Celebration (a holiday season must), the Sam Smiths Nut Brown–but I think you really hit the jackpot with the hard to find beers. Really hard to go wrong with anything from Stone, Deschutes, or North Coast.

    I haven’t been to Florida lately, but I have a feeling you didn’t miss much by not taking time to look for beer. When I attended the Great American Beer Festival, I usually just avoided the Southeast (the exhibition hall is set up by region, with all the southeastern breweries in one row). I understand the Southeast as a whole has gotten a lot better. There are some good breweries in Georgia and North Carolina, although I haven’t heard much about Florida. There was a thread on Beer Advocate not too long ago about the relative scarcity of good beer in the South. Those from Florida reported that the state is still very hit or miss (apparently, Jacksonville is to be avoided).

  3. In the South beer is purchased similarly to the way one learns to count – from NASCAR loyalty. For many both ended at the number 8 and Bud for the longest time. Alcohol is produced in stills for bourbon and for racing. Watch out when Fat Tire gets a sponsorship.

    I just finished working out, so I’m freshly reminded that I should lay off the calories for a while. Thanks for your willingness to shoulder the burden of tasting for me, Marc!

  4. I do what I can, Marc!! 🙂

    Hey Molly, yes, the Saison is a light-ish beer. But if you like summery wheat beers, I suggest Bell’s Oberon. It’s brewed only in the summer, I believe, but I think John’s in IC has it in stock right now. I’m not a big wheat drinker, but I tried that one and really liked it. Also, Hacker-Pschorr (sp??) is a pretty good wheat.

    Tim, I can get Stone (not all, but most) in Madison (Steve’s Liquors). I can get the North Coast (all, I think) in East Dubuque. Unless anyone has a suggestion, the only way I know of to get the Deschutes is through mail order.

    I’m doing a trade out with a Hawkeye fan. He’s sending some Finnegans and I’m trading out a variety pack. Probably an Arrogant Bastard, an Old Rasputin, maybe a Bigfoot and some others. I’m keeping the Two Hearted. I’m running low on those.

  5. Next time you’re at Principal Park, try an ice-cold Iowa Oaks Ale.

    /end shameless plug

  6. Old Capitol update. Paul, the brewmaster, reports that if all goes well with inspections, they should be brewing beer by Tuesday. They are set up in downtown Davenport and have also bought a local pub two doors down from the brewery. The brewery will eventually be open with a tasting room along with tours. Paul and Scott will also be canning their beer. They did it a few years ago and canning did not detract from their product. And, as always,…..The best beer is the freshest beer! If any of you like balsy, big beers, the Madison area is a must stop. Ale Asylum, Tyranena, Lake Louie, Great Dane. The list goes on and on

  7. I’m old enough to remember Iowa Oaks the baseball team, but can’t quite place the hockey version.

    Pat — I can’t wait. Please, keep me informed. I smell a summer road trip or two. I passed on Lake Louie last time I was up there. Won’t make that mistake again. I’ll sample all of those.

    Old Capitol is the one that was brewing DBQ Star, right?

    Also, I’m following Olde Main out of Ames on Twitter (

    Brewing seems to be alive in Iowa.

  8. Here’s a link to the current “Beer Here” column in Madison’s Isthmus magazine.

  9. Des Moines Oak Leafs became the Capitols around 1973 – then they were gone….

  10. Went to John’s grocery yesterday and picked up a sixer of Sierra Nevada Torpedo to drink during the game today. What you said about their unique hops profile is dead on. If the Torpedo is in line with that, we should have a winner. I did note they had a nice SN sampler too if someone is interested in trying all the various offerings from them.

    Also got a bottle of the Boulevard Double Wide IPA from the Smokestack series.

  11. Marc,
    The Isthmus daily page is a good resource for beers in Wisc. Robin Shepard usually does a weekly article about beers. Good writer.

  12. Robin Shepard also has written a couple books, “Wisconsin’s Best Breweries and Brewpubs” and “Breweries and Brewpubs of Illinois.” Of course, such books are outdated the moment they’re printed, but they’re still good resources, and Shepard does know his stuff.

    Another good regional web site is Midwest Microbrews ( That’s how I stumbled across the new brewpub in McGregor.

  13. Big fan of the Sam Smith Nut Brown. Although I still prefer Newcastle because it was the first good beer I ever drank, I do like the Sam Smith every once in a while. It helps that it is pretty easy to get (You can usually find it at Hy-Vee or at World Market)

  14. Thanks for the resources, Tim. You’re right, brew pubs come and go so fast.

    You know, TC, I still haven’t tried Newcastle. It’s so widely available. I guess I’m waiting for one of my friends just to have it on hand (me being cheap).

    I will try SN’s Torpedo. I down with SN.

    Just got done watching the first half of the Iowa-Illinois game.

    Who are these guys?

  15. love the Heineken ad; they have a knack for making great commercials

  16. It makes me laugh everytime.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: