Friday, June 20, 2014

T.G.I.Friday and for Friends and Funky Beers!!

Drinking beer is fun.  We know this.  So what's better than drinking beer?

Anyone?  Anyone?  Bueller?

Drinking a beer with a FRIEND!  As I jump back into the blogosphere, I had the pleasure of my buddy Matt joining me this time around.  Let me explain a little... Matt has always been a beer drinker, but the last few months he's shown a lot more interest in the craft beer movement.  Drinking local, different styles, limited releases...  So when he asked me if I would join him to taste Two Roads Brewing Co Urban Funk, I didn't hesitate.

Two Roads Brewing Company, hailing out of Stratford, CT, is CT's largest brewery.  Only 25% of what they output is actually Two Roads beers.  The remaining 75% is all contract brewers (Evil Twin, Stillwater, Lawson's Finest Liquids, etc).  Back in April, they had a bottle release of 3 unique beers, including the Urban Funk.  From the press release...

Urban Funk Wild Ale is the first of several planned releases from Two Roads’ Captured Yeast Series.  With the help of nearby Sacred Heart University’s beer loving Biology Professors Kirk Bartholomew and Geff Stopper, a local yeast strain was captured and propagated for use in fermentation.  The yeast was captured during the evening of Superstorm Sandy so it’s a particularly hearty strain of wild yeast!  Urban Funk will be in corked 375ml bottles and truly funky with a unique, delicious sour flavor and an ABV of 5.6%. 

I will admit, about a year ago, I was NOT into funky sour beers.  Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed trying new styles, but sour or wild fermentation brews we're not my thing at all.  I found this style to be unbearable tartness.  I would taste them, but never would I have a full pour at a bar. Since then, my taste buds have certainly come around. I find them to have a pleasant candy-like quality with a surprising refreshingness to them.  Let's see where this one falls...

On the pour, the color had a golden hue to it.  Hazy, honey like... with thin white lacing that dissipated quickly.  The nose reminds us of the early fermentation of wine - white grape must.  It's not too sour on the nose, but the little that I am picking up is making my mouth water.  Taste time!

[Insert sour face here.]  Tart, "green apple like you were picking it right off the tree," says Matt.  Sour candy all up in here.  Usually I try and talk right after I taste a beer to try and pick up on the flavors I'm getting... but truth be told, Matt and I BOTH had a hard time talking because of the sourness!  And in a weird way, my mouth is still watering a bit... almost like I was eating Sour Patch Kids or a Cry Baby.

The finish is dry, tart.  We actually picked up a little grainy sweetness on the back once the sourness got out of the way.

This beer is NOT for everyone, but I'm certainly glad my taste buds have come around.  But, it was $10 and only in 375 ml.  Definitely a treat.  Matt and I both agreed that while we would buy this again, I don't think we'd wait in the 1-2 hr line if they had a bottle release again.  But PICK THIS UP if you can get some.  Thanks again to Matt for braving the bottle release and sharing this one!!

Onto our 2nd tasting... I thought I'd bring over the Allagash Saison that I picked directly from the brewery only a few weeks ago.  It made perfect sense to taste this, too... after all, I brought up some Two Roads Lil Heaven when I visited Allagash Memorial Wkd up in Portland, ME... so here we are tasting THEIR latest year round offering!  (Shout out to Rachel, Nick and all of my friends up in Portland!!)  From their website...

Allagash Saison is our interpretation of a classic Belgian farmhouse style. It is a golden hued beer, brewed with a 2-Row blend, malted rye, oats and dark Belgian candi sugar. Saison is hopped with Tettnang, Bravo and Cascade hops. Fermented with a traditional saison yeast strain, Saison exhibits notes of spice and tropical fruit in the aroma. Citrus and a peppery spice dominate the flavor and make way for a pleasant malt character. Saison is full bodied with a remarkably dry finish. 6.1% ABV.

Saison styles seem to be very popular these days.  And I do hold Allagash on a bit of a pedestal, but let's look at their track record... 9 out of 10 times, they deliver!  Actually I don't know if there's an Allagash I DON'T like.  That's it, 10 out of 10!  Haha... alright, let's get into this one...

The pour shows off a very yellow, clear beer.  About a finger of light fluffy white head.  But it's the smells that really drew us in.  I feel like someone filled a bongo bat full of ginger and smacked me over the head with it.  Awesome nose.  There's some grainy sweetness and just a hint of lemon.

Aaaaaaaand this is why saisons are popular.  The taste.  The esters in the yeast shine through.  I feel that people want something other than a Pale Ale or an Amber Ale... BUT, they don't want a bitter IPA or a full bodied Brown Ale or heavy Stout.  The taste on this is a home run... light, crisp, spicy.  White pepper and the ginger all over again.

The finish leaves your taste buds with a crisp, dry mouthfeel.  Which, in my opinion, just makes you want to jump right back in there and taste some more.

Being the latest year round beer, this shouldn't be too hard to find.  I would absolutely get this again.  Great summer go-to if you aren't sure what to bring to your next cookout or picnic.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

We're Baaaaaaack!!

Heeeeeyy... you... Yeah, no, I remember you.  T-t-tim, right?  No, it's Tommy.  Tommy, right?  No, not that either?  Hmmm... ok, let's just start from the beginning.

Hello Interweb.  Tony, here.  1/2 of Beer411.  A few years ago my cousin Katie and I set up this blog to enlighten our family and friends out there about the In's and Out's of the Craft Beer World.  At times, things can be a bit daunting, so with a little courage and a little education - perhaps you too can impress your friends at the next company outing, or happy hour amongst friends, or even perhaps on date night.  Throughout our adventures in tastings, brewfests, beercations, reviews, releases and more - I hope you enjoy your stay here at our little corner of the internet.  And if you post your beer pics on Instagram, don't forget to tag your pictures with #Beer411 so you can show up on our site!

While it's been a few months since we last spoke, I'm going to start with this past wkd.  CT FRIENDS - START TAKING NOTES.  My sisters (who all live in different states) decided to coordinate a little trip up North to Maine and New Hampshire.  Being the only part of the equation coming from CT, I wanted to plan out my trip wisely.  Truth be told, anytime I'm out of the state, I ALWAYS try and pick up some stuff that I can't normally find in my local area.

CT FRIENDS - I have found the promise land.

After a little google search for package stores along the Mass Pike or 495, I stumbled across Julio Liquors in Westborough, MA.  When I go up North, my journey takes me from 84 to the Mass Pike to 495 and so on.  Looking at my GPS, Julio's only seemed to be about 10 minutes off of the highway.  I didn't want to go TOO far out of my way, but this was close enough to explore.  After taking Exit 11 off of the Mass Pike, I took the 2nd Exit (23B) off of 495 North, and before I knew it, I was there.

Let's just say, this didn't get a 100 Rating on BeerAdvocate for nothing.

I could have EASILY dropped more money then I did, but let me tell you... I was in beer heaven.  Night Shift Brewing, Lost Abbey, AleSmith, 21st Amendment, Great Divide, Firestone Walker, The Bruery... this place had it all!  And I'm SURE I missed a bunch of other names.

So... as you look to the months ahead, and see that trip up North on the calendar... make it a point to swing by Julio's.  Again, it's only about 10 minutes off of 495, and there's a Starbucks right next door.  Boom.

As I continued to drive north, I had a few other stops I wanted to make.  One of the things I LOVE to do is visit breweries in New Hampshire and Maine and bring up some local beer from CT.  Spread the good word that is Craft Beer.  The people that work in the industry obviously do it because they enjoy beer, so why not delivery some local goodness?!  So I delivered one of my favorites, New England Brewing's 668 to the good people at the Throwback Brewery in North Hampton, NH.  (Listen, after I dealt with the parking lot that was 495, I needed a beer.)  That and the coffee I got at Starbucks was letting me know that I should stop too...

First off, I love their slogan: TASTE THE LOCAL.  It took some serious will power NOT to buy a hoodie or shirt that had their slogan.  I have about 24 hoodies and 64 shirts... I don't need any more (And maybe if I keep telling myself that, I'll actually believe it).  I can't go through all the beers I sampled, but I'll say that they are definitely worth the trip.  I left there with a growler of Hog Happy Hefeweizen.  4.9%, just a touch of grainy sweetness, well carbed - great for a hot summer day.

The next morning as I woke up in Maine, I got a great workout in the AM, then set the GPS to one of my favorite breweries... Allagash.  I arrived at about 10:30am before the crazy Memorial Wkd rush with a 6 pack of Two Roads Lil Heaven, their newest Session IPA.  Let me say this... not only does Allagash continually make delicious beer, but they have an AMAZING team of people that work there.  It was great seeing some familiar faces from last year when I visited... and one of them even remembered me!  Soon after I arrived I found myself going through my own personal flight:  Allagash White, Saison, Victor, Victoria and Curieux.  YUM. YUM. YUM.  Thank you Rachel and Nick and everyone else I met that morning.  Enjoy the #CTBeer!!

Side bar... I also ran into my new friends at the Maine Brew Bus that I met during the Rising Pint Brewfest at The Rent just a few weeks ago!  They happened to be touring Allagash while I was there!  For more information on the Maine Brew Bus, check them out here.

In our conversations over my flight, I was informed that the space across the street which was formally occupied by the Maine Beer Company (when they were much smaller), was now the home of a NEW brewery called Bissell Brothers Brewing.  How could I NOT stop by?!  Unfortunately, they weren't open at the time, BUT... as luck would have it, ANOTHER brewery that was right next door WAS open... the Foundation Brewing Co.

I was informed that they had only been open 10 weeks.  I had a great time sampling the few they had on draft... and even left with a small growler of their Wanderlust #1, 4.3%, Summer Saison style that was dry hopped with several hops varieties.

Later on that day, we visited the Banded Horn Brewing Co in Biddeford.  I got to meet Ian McConnell, their head brewer and delivered another great #CTBeer offering, Relic Darkness Falls.  The beer here was also very good... my favorites were the Veridian IPA (a fresh IPA with lots of peach/mango flavors) and The Mountain (a RIS clocking in at 12%... which in my opinion, rivals Goose Island BCBS).

It was AT Banded Horn when I also very fittingly checked into my 1,000th unique beer on Untappd while I was with my family.  Great to think that I've had so many unique beers but there are still so many more to try out there!!

The last two places we visited were Elements, which was only about 3 blocks away from Banded Horn.  This place consisted of beer, coffee and used books.  It's a bloggers paradise.  Not a whole lot but great local offerings on tap, cans/bottles, not to mention some delicious coffee drinks.  The LAST place was the Run of the Mill also only a few blocks away.  Nice little pub with classic fare and their own beer on draft.

We crammed a lot in during the few days we were there... but it was so worth it.  There were a ton of places we didn't get to see this time around but hey... I have lot of yummy delicious beer to work my way through in the next few weeks.  Perhaps a review is in the very near future.

Next time you plan on visiting a brewery out of state, maybe bring along some local beer and pay it forward!  This industry is full of awesome people, why not spread the good word?  And don't forget to do a little research before hitting the road.  Addresses, tasting hours, etc.  You'll be glad you did.

Thanks again for supporting #Beer411 !!  
If you have any comments or are curious about a beer, feel free to let us know!

Me and the sibs at Banded Horn.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Beer411 Wants To Know... What Ale's You?

AleSmith Brewing Company
Location: San Diego, CA
Style: Stout
abv: 12.0%
Twitter: @AleSmithBrewing

Let's cut to the chase.

I don't want to waste your time on this festive Christmas Eve. Besides, what are you doing on the computer when you should be wasseling among the leaves so green, or grabbing that last minute gift, or visiting with family.  Seriously... I mean, Katie and I appreciate your loyal viewership, but do us a favor.  After you finish reading this post (assuming that you are reading this ON Christmas Eve), turn off your computer, or pocket that smart phone for a little while and breathe in some of that Christmas Spirit with your friends and family.  With, your favorite beverage nearby, of course.

I'm throwing the numbers at you from the get-go.

BeerAdvocate Rating: 98 (world-class)
RateBeer: 100 (yes, as in PERFECT)
Untappd: 4.3 out of 5 (11,962 ratings)
Awards, awards, awards...

I'll admit, I kinda knew what I was getting into when I decided to fire up the AleSmith Speedway Stout for the final post of this holiday season.  I've never had it, but I know... You gotta go big when it comes to #1.  This is the beer that needs to leave a lasting impression on the Beer411 readers (and hopefully it won't be December 2014 when we decide to write on here next!).

AleSmith is a well respected brewery from what I've heard.  Sadly, they are also one of those breweries that does not distribute to Connecticut.  And unlike my post on the White Birch Brewery, this story does not have a happy ending where I found this bottle at some store with a great selection.  No... I happened upon this beer at a local Beer Themed Yankee Swap put on by the Relic Brewery.  There were about 20 of us that took part and when everything was all said and done, I ended up with this tasty treat.  Now, as I examined the bottle, I noticed something in small print, "This beer ages very well and will continue to mature for many years to come."  But you can bet your partridge in a pear tree, that I wasn't about to wait.

On the pour, we have a dark, dark beer.  Black as night.  Or, according to the website, "Jet Black".  I poured pretty aggressively and ended up with about 2 fingers of tan head.

The nose was full of coffee smells.  Rich, robust coffee.  Combined with unsweetened/semi-sweet chocolate notes.  Hints of vanilla and earthiness as well.

I have to sit down this is so tasty.  There's a coffee/chocolate 1-2 punch right out of the gate.  As the flavor develops, there's malty sweetness, followed by vanilla and toffee/caramel.  The cool thing about this beer is that while you may not like strong coffee, the sweetness balances very well to offset the bitterness.

Low carbonation, creamy and delicious.  Full-bodied, as expected, but it's not as thick as Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout (of which I had a little last night).  Slight alcohol warming on the finish, but you would NOT guess that this is 12%.

Given the high abv (and the since it only comes in 750 ml), this is one that you'll want to share with a few people.  Highly recommended if you can find it.  For food pairings... A family friend dropped off some homemade peanut brittle that was awesome with this.

Thank you all of our retweeters, Twitter favoriters, Facebook sharers, Facebook Likers, Google+ 1er's and anyone that might have spent a little time on our site.  We really appreciate all of your support.  I hope that you enjoyed our 12 Beers of Christmas.  I love finding new beers with every season, and this blog gives Katie and I an excuse to dig a little deeper, especially over the holiday season.

So from all of us at BEER411 to all of you, have a happy and safe holiday!!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Ready to Hibernate with Great Divide

This beer was a happy find for my co-taster Phil and me as we wind down our Beer411 Xmas countdown.

We are down to #2 … can you believe it?
We bring to you:

Great Divide Brewing Co.
Hibernation Ale | Denver, Colorado
ABV: 8.7%

We found this pint to be a little lighter than the winter beers we have been tasting, less heavy on the spice, which was refreshing. It was similar to a brown ale --- with a lot of that hearth appeal that makes it perfect for winter drinking.

About the Brewer:
During the late 80s, Brian Dunn spent 5 years overseas building farms in developing countries. Having grown up in a family that appreciated good food and drink, Dunn expanded his knowledge and passion for beer during his travels. Dunn eventually returned to Colorado, started homebrewing and went to graduate school. Upon graduation in 1993, when Denver’s craft beer scene barely existed, he set out to found what would eventually become one of America’s most decorated and celebrated craft breweries.

To date they have 45 employees and Great Divide has grown into winner of 18 Great American Beer Festival medals, recipient of 5 World Beer Cup awards, 12th in’s 2013 “Best Brewers in the World,”’s 2013 Top Brewer in Colorado, and 7th in Beer Advocate’s 2010 “All-Time Top Brewers.”

Not too shabby.
It’s nice to see something else being poured out of the Rocky region that isn’t a Coors Light

What they say about the Hibernation Ale
Hibernation Ale has been a celebrated winter tradition since 1995. This robust, dry-hopped ale has a malty richness balanced with a complex hop profile and hearty, warming character.

The pour:
A dark auburn, copper brown -- with a light khaki head that left a pretty lacing on the glass.

The nose:
Roasted malts, nuts, oak, burnt caramel, smokey, a little coffee and cocoa at the end

The taste:
Simply delicious. Medium mouth-feel, very easy to drink. Nutty, biscuity, smokey, smooth, a little dark cocoa and coffee. This pints has a good amount of carbonation on it and the alcohol gives you a gentle nudge at the finish, along with a bitter bite. It’s well balanced and warming.

The pairing:
My co-taster and I enjoyed this brew with meatloaf nachos. Yep. You heard me right. We had some leftover meatloaf, that was made with a lot Jack Daniels BBQ sauce, A1 and worcestershire sauce. We crumbled it over chips and cheese and all the fixins’ and these two were fast friends. The smoky beer paired with the BBQ flavored meat and cheddar cheese was a match made in heaven. This beer would be great as a standalone fireside warmer, but if you are going to pair it, I would say gouda cheese, a burger, ribs, pulled pork or anything in the BBQ realm would do nicely.

This is a sixer I would pick up and drink over and over this season.
A nice little winter change up. I will definitely keep my eye out for more Great Divide brews in the near future. I am very impressed.

Ok Toenee… tag you’re it.
Whacha got for our BIG finale?
Merry, merry Christmas cuzzin!

Friday, December 20, 2013

If you don't know White Birch, you're barking up the wrong tree.

Brewery: White Birch Brewing (Hooksett, NH)
Style: Smoked Imperial Brown Ale
ABV: 7.0%
Twitter: @Bill_WBB

Whenever I'm up in New Hampshire, I always try and grab a few local treats that I can't get in CT.  Almost every time, this Hampshirian Haul includes a bottle from White Birch Brewing.

There I was back in November, staring at a variety of White Birch brews.  Then I noticed a particular style that I've NEVER seen before.  White Birch called this beer their Tavern Ale and the style was a Smoked Imperial Brown Ale.  What the what?!  I've had Brown Ales... I may have even had an Imperial Brown Ale (although I can't recall)... I've even had a few smoked beers... but all at the same time?!  On top of my cleared peaked curiosity, it also had the DRAFT Magazine stamp of approval hailing as one of the Top 25 Beers of the Year (in 2011).  Congrats White Birch... Hook(sett), line, and sinker.

I'm not going to lie... I couldn't wait until our 12 Beers of Xmas countdown to crack this baby open.  So back in November, about a week or so after I came back from New Hampshire, I randomly had this beer over some steak and vegetables.  Yes, so much yes.  I thought that this beer would have been PERFECT for the countdown!  But, alas, I only grabbed one bottle...  But wait... 

About two weeks ago I found myself down at Amity Wine and Spirits, which has an EXCELLENT selection.  And what the... who the... why the... I don't believe it... there it was.  Apparently we're now getting White Birch Brewery in CT!!  And they had the Tavern Ale!!  Bottled purchased, stored away for the countdown, and there you go... at #3 on our Beer411 Holiday List.

SPOILER ALERT... the Tavern Ale in its Smoked Imperial Brown Ale glory, pours.... well, Brown.  Dark Brown, so dark that you cannot see through at all.  On top, about a 1/2 inch of deliciously inviting khaki head.

There a good amount of smoke on the nose.  Very unique.  Smells like someone is cooking bacon nearby.  Slight hints of coffee, chocolate and some nuttiness as well.

Great medium body on this one that truly stands up to the smokey quality.  Sometimes when I have a smoked beer, they can be thin and overpowering.  Not so with this one.  The sweetness provided by the malts, brown ale, and imperial style are very balanced with the smoke in the Tavern Ale.

Lower carbonation and a nice sweet finish.

Well, unlike a CT only beer or a MA only beer... this is an offering where most of New England wins.  If you live in NH, you can probably find this.  Chances are, distribution passes through MA so I'd be surprised if it WASN'T available.  And now... according to my find about two weeks ago... you can NOW get it in CT!!  Dare I say, I think this might be my favorite one on the countdown thus far.  Yeah, you know what?  I'm gonna say it... This is my favorite beer on the countdown thus far.  Boom, I said it.

I shared this beer with Mom and Pop over some honey ham and baked beans.  But honestly, you could have this before dinner... with dinner... or after dinner in front of the fire.  There's a whole lotta goodness in this bottle.

Coming up next... #2 and #1 on our countdown!!  Stay Tuned!!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Hardywood's Gingerbread Stout is a Bottle of Christmas Spirit

Hardywood Reserve Series
Gingerbread Stout
9.2% ABV
2013 release

First off, this post is brought to you by the Christmas Spirit – 100%

I was minding my own business, tweeting Hardywood Brewery to find out if I could get my hands on their Gingerbread Stout anywhere in Mass. for our 12 beers of Xmas countdown and then “poof” a ghost of Christmas past appears (a friendly one!!) – an old high school buddy, @josh_Conrad, who I haven’t seen or talked to in more than a decade offers to ship me some!

He lives in Virginia and this beer is brewed in his hometown. Despite his proximity to the pint, it's still NOT easy to acquire … he sends me a pic of line:

… eeeek! (He assures me that he was going anyway). Apparently this is the normal scene when distributing the GBS at Hardywood. A follow up tweet tells me that they are capping the takeaway limit that day to one bottle per person! “OH No! What is this stuff made out of gold?” (yes, but we’ll get to the review in a minute)

Well all I can say is @josh_Conrad is the champ of all champs. I am not sure how many bottles he ended up walking away with that day or how long he stood in line, but all I know is two icy cold bombers arrived yesterday and I could not be more grateful. Cheers to old high school buddies and going above to make this blogger’s holiday season a little brighter. Merry Christmas!!

Now onto the beer, which is made of gold.

The Brewer Says:
Brewed with baby ginger from Casselmonte Farm and wild flower honey from Bearer Farms, Hardywood Ginger bread Stout captures the terroir of central Virginia in a rich creamy libation with a velvety mouth feel and intriguing evolution of flavors from milk chocolate and vanilla to honeycomb and cinnamon to a snap of ginger in the finish.

Their Mission:
To become one of the most respected brewers in the United States through integrity in our ingredients and in our business practices, through respect for brewing heritage, and through the inspired creation of extraordinary beers.

The Pour: dark brown that settles jet black underneath, half a finger of light brown fluffy head, good retention and some lacing

The Nose: HEAVEN! Floral honey, Dried fruit (apricot??), ginger, vanilla, cinnamon, chocolate and biscuitty gingerbread cookies, yum!

The Taste: Follows suit with the smell! Mouthfeel is medium bodied, smooth and silky, with moderate carbonation. Immediately I get roasted malts, milk chocolate, vanilla, sweet caramel and cinnamon – then comes the spicy gingerbread flavor – that coats the tongue, with a milky-chalky, fizzy finish.

This is a well-done beer. I love that Hardywood uses local products in their brews and from the website, I takeaway that this is a company that really cares about their community, does a lot for charity and puts out quality (over quantity) products. I am only sad that they are so difficult to get, because I WANT MORE!

The pairing:
Hardywood suggests crème brûlée or fresh chocolate pudding, rich desserts with cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla or chocolate to really bring out the flavor of Gingerbread Stout. I say, this is great as a standalone dessert, maybe a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top? Stout a la mode?

I am so happy to follow up my last post with something deserving of the Beer411 xmas countdown!! Cheers to good beers. Merry Christmas and happy holidays everyone!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Only one place to go for #5, The Bruery's 5 Golden Rings

Brewery: The Bruery (CA)
Style: Beligian Strong Pale Ale
ABV: 11.5%
Twitter: @TheBruery

When we've had our countdown in years past, I had heard about The Bruery's annual Winter Releases of their OWN "Twelve Beers of Xmas".  Since 2008, each chilly season, they come out with ONE new offering in their holiday lineup: 4 Callings Birds, 3 French Hens, 2 Turtle Doves and even a Partridge in a Pear Tree!  PERFECT!!  I'll use their NEXT release in the Beer411 Countdown!!  Oh, but there's one small detail... 

Unfortunately, for those of us on the East Coast, offerings from The Bruery are hard to come by since they are located in Orange County, CA and don't distribute to CT.  So when the opportunity came to set up a beer trade with one of my friends from the Beer Coasters, I jumped at the chance!  A beer trade is very simple... you find someone to trade with via BeerAdvocate, Untappd, or any other craft beer site... send a few bottles their way and they send a few your way!  Usually shipments include rare bottles or things you can't get in your area.  In this case, I received The Bruery's 2012 release, 5 Golden Rings!!

On the pour... hazy golden in my snifter glass.  Imagine... yellow with some orange hues.  There isn't much carbonation on this guy.  Maybe about pinky finger of head that quickly dissipated.

Strong Belgian yeast on the nose... I'm getting a lot of fruity esters.  Pineapple sweetness, perhaps a little banana as well.  Subtle spices, and juuuuuust a hint of booze.  Let's taste...

And there's the booze... If I needed a reminder that this is 11.5%, I just got it.  Much sweeter on the taste than I had anticipated as well.  I think that spice that I was getting on the nose is clove.  Lots of citrus flavors, too... orange, banana, pineapple.

Mild carbonation and tasty all around... This is the love child of a Belgian and a Winter Warmer.  You can imagine the amount of flavors going on between those two styles.  As far as pairings go, I'm going to give the nod to my buddy Brandon from UConn who know lives out in Oregon.  Back in 2006 he gave me a recipe for a chipotle pulled pork using a slow cooker with a fiesta lime salsa.  Spicy, sweet, smoky... topped with a flavor blast of salsa made up of pineapple, mango, kiwi, lime juice and red onion.  That would be SPOT ON with this offering.  Spicy, sweet, boozy.

Sorry to my friends on the East Coast... the chances of you finding this one are slim to none.  Special shout out to my boy, Beer Coaster Crazy Dave for the hook up!!