Black Ops

Image courtesy of brooklyn

Deep brown to black with a nice even head.  Slow-sliding lace.  Whiffs of cherry pipe tobacco, vanilla, heavy cream and an almost coconut curry note.  Black Ops from Brooklyn Brewery sounds like a checklist of things that I would like to put in my mouth.  Black Ops is a really complex and well-constructed bourbon barrel-aged stout, and an 11.5% ABV one at that.  It has a super smooth body and is dangerously drinkable, and is nowhere near as heavy as it looks.  The taste is very much like the bouquet, with an emphasis on the vanilla.  Creamy, luscious, milk chocolatey, unbelievable!  Almost as good as Very Mad Cow.

98/100 bourbon barrel-aged stout


Spotted Cow Grand Cru

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I love New Glarus Brewing Company.  They consistently produce excellent beers and they are not trying to take over the world.  In fact, you need to travel to Wisconsin if you want to buy some.  The particular beer I am loving at the moment is Spotted Cow Grand Cru.  Wow!  Deep gold with a luxuriant head and sticky white lacing, Spotted Cow Grand Cru is a work of art.  The clean, malty bouquet has a bit of rust when the head is fresh and full, but as it recedes you get more sweetness and a hint of coriander.  The smooth mouthfeel isn’t smooth enough to mask a slight alcohol tang, but it is creamy and sweet and satisfying.  Spotted Cow Crand Cru finishes with a touch of sweet, spicy perfume and a hint of hop oil dryness.  This is a limited release and it may or may not be made again, so if you are in Wisconsin and have the chance to buy a 4-pack of this wonderful beer, do it, and get one for me as well.  I’ll pay you back on Thursday.  I’m absolutely skint, but I’m expecting a postal order and I can pay you back as soon as it comes.

Love, Ewan


Dominion Candi Belgian Tripel

Deep gold and full-bodied, Dominion Candi Belgian Tripel (Old Dominion Brewing Co., Dover, DE) pours thick and makes a sturdy white head.  The bouquet is sweet, like a pastry, with bubblegum notes.  Sweet on the tongue with a dry finish and a little touch of banana.  Gets the salivary glands going, too.  Not sure about the ABV, but I’m guessing about 8% or more, based on the way I’m feeling after half a glass.  It’s good.


(Turns out it’s 10% ABV – Ed.)

Hazy IPAs: Why I don’t like them, or An Angry Letter to the Editor (Me)

Dear Hazy IPAs, New England-style IPAs, skim milk stirred with a pine tar-dipped rusty nail swizzle stick, whatever,

My initial thought is “laziness” – filter your damn beer, presentation is important, choose a yeast strain that flocculates a little, do something to make my artistic eye happy.

Back off the hops, it tastes like I’ve been licking envelopes for the last 12 hours.  Don’t tell me they are deliciously juicy, that’s what orange juice is for.  The finish is not that different from the West Coast IPAs you rebel against.  You’re the kid that can’t stop showing off about how much more of something he has than I do.  Annoying, off-putting and unnecessary.

Stop feeling the need to follow trends.  Don’t you remember how the end of the sour beer trend made you feel when it ended?  Yes, it ended, move on.  Go sniff an armpit at the end of the day and remind yourself of sour beers if you really need to be sentimental.

I realize I’m an old crank, but that does not make me wrong.  The market becomes oversaturated with product and producers and I worry that the strong that do survive will forget about their early followers.  Yes, this is about me.  Some things need to be about me.  I also realize that there is always Old Style on the shelf, and as my taste buds and brain cells continue to die, it might be an option that I embrace.

Bearing your soul (uselessly complaining) is exhausting, but you know what would make me feel a lot better?  A Scotch Ale, an Altbier or a bourbon barrel-aged Barleywine. That leaves more Hazy IPAs for others.  You’re welcome.


beerbliographer, the


PS – Ha!  I said flocculate.

Lazy Mutt Farmhouse Ale

People still like farmhouse ales these days, right?  Is that trend still a thing?  I remember it from early in the summer of 2016.  Like sour beers.  Is that still a thing?  Anyway, Lazy Mutt Farmhouse Ale (Minhas “Craft” Brewery, Monroe, WI) has a lightly sweet bouquet with a hint of floral, Cashmere Bouquet soap.  Weak flavor with some berry notes.  Light body.  Not bad, not remarkable.  I like to be excited and enthused by beer, otherwise my time has been wasted.


Free Bird APA

image courtesy of

Drink local.  Chicago local.

Free Bird APA (Begyle Brewing Company, 1800 W. Cuyler, 1E Chicago, IL 60613, 773.661.6963, is a honey-gold American Pale Ale with a white, sticky head, gloriously thick lacing and a subtly sweet edge.  This APA is not too extremely hoppy, and its big caramel malt bouquet balances the hop/malt dynamic well.  There is a little peppery note that adds an intriguing spiciness to Free Bird, and a touch of bitter dryness in the finish is the appropriate punctuation to end the journey.

Very drinkable, highly recommended.

Entrenched IPA

Image courtesy of Gordon O’Keefe

More hazy IPAs people, it’s the wave of the future.  Entrenched IPA from Alarmist Brewing Company, 4055 West Peterson Avenue, Chicago, IL, is a deep gold IPA with a lacey, fluffy head that leaves patterns reminiscent of Hokusai’s “The Great Wave” on the sides of your official Alarmist glassware.  Pine and malt greet the olfactory nerves as part of a clean smelling bouquet that hides its citrus notes like a 5th grade reprobate named Billy hides a bad report card from his mother.  Entrenched has a full mouthfeel but it’s not heavy, and it carries a punch-in-the-chops of hops.  Bitterness is not overplayed, but prominent for sure.  This is a very satisfying beer from a Chicago brewery.

Be sure to visit the taproom at Alarmist.  Some of the nicest bartenders you’ll meet, too.  The atmosphere is very inviting, and your dog is welcome.  This taproom is not overdone and doesn’t try too hard to appear super hip or trendy, it’s just a solid brewery and taproom with solid products.  I wish I lived closer, but never-the-less, I’ve managed to get there twice in two months and look forward to my next visit!

Drink local, don’t give AB InBev any of your hard-earned dough.