Firestone XXII Anniversary Ale

Image courtesy of Firestone Walker Brewing Company

An anniversary present that any beer lover would love, Firestone XXII Anniversary Ale (Firestone Walker Brewing Company, Paso Robles, CA) foregoes the traditional 22nd anniversary gift of copper and instead gives us liquid gold.  This harmonious blend of various barrel-aged ales opens with a Pepsi-brown pour and a swirling, atmospheric whirlpool in place of a head, and a good splash of slow-sliding, sticky lace.  The bouquet is really enticing, smelling like a buttery, caramelly bakery item.  Think brown sugar dissolved in warm butter, or maybe that Boston Brown Bread that comes in a can.  A rich, thick, sticky mouthfeel accompanies a firm body, but a sharpness gives the beer a bit of a lighter feel. Firestone XXII Anniversary Ale finishes with some dryness on the sides of your tongue, with a pleasant hint of something floral, almost like an edible form of Cashmere Bouquet spam.  Sounds bad, but it isn’t.  $12.99 for a 12 oz. bottle, 12.7% ABV.  Worth it!


Islay Barrel-aged Imperial Stout

I have difficulty buying Goose Island products for AB InBev related reasons, but sometimes I have to deal with my self-righteousness so I don’t miss something great.  Islay is worth compromising my principles over.  This black beauty spent 17 months aging in Ardbeg whisky barrels and you can tell!  smoky, peaty, earthy, toasty and boozy whiffs float off this nearly-headless brew, and it is heavenly.  The taste has a deep down sweetness that you might miss if you’re too wrapped up in smoke and tartness.  And at a whopping 13.4% ABV all I can say is Oh My Goodness!  Islay is full bodied without being super heavy.  As it warms more aromas become noticeable:  tobacco, campfire smoke and leather.  It’s a fantastic sipper, perfect for a cool evening and a blazing fire.  Fabulous!

95/100 barrel-aged stout

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

Image courtesy of

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.