New Belgium Pumpkick

New Belgium’s Pumpkick lives up to its name!

“What’s that bite of tartness doing in a pumpkin beer? Adding the unexpected kick of cranberry juice to brighten this traditionally spiced seasonal ale. Pumpkick is brewed with plenty of pumpkin juice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice, but it’s the cranberries and touch of lemongrass that send your taste buds sailing. Available in September and October 2014.”

Tasty just in time for the fall season, I recommend as an alternative to the sweet or creamy pumpkin beers out there this year.  This one is a bit tart with just a hint of pumpkin.  Easy to drink and just enough ABV @ 6.0% to give you a little kick after a few.

Will Buy Again

New Belgium Pumpkick

New Belgium Pumpkick

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Pumpkin Beer 2012

Here it is, folks.  The official tasting of pumpkin beers for 2012.  All in all a great year for pumpkin brews.  Many choices, few were crap.  Most were good.  A few were great.  My order of tastiness:

  1. Southern Tier Pumking
  2. Laurelwood Stingy Jack Pumpkin Ale
  3. Samuel Adams Harvest Pumpkin Ale
  4. Elysian The Great Pumpkin Imperial Pumpkin Ale
  5. Blue Moon Harvest Pumpkin Ale
  6. Elysian Night Owl Pumpkin Ale
  7. Elysian Dark O’ The Moon Pumpkin Stout
  8. Pike Harlot’s Harvest Pike Pumpkin Ale
  9. Shipyard Smashed Pumpkin Ale
  10. Uinta Brewing Punk’n Ale
  11. Dogfish Head Punkin Ale
  12. Buffalo Bill’s Pumpkin Ale
  13. Shipyard Pumpkinhead

The short of it, Southern Tier takes the crown again.  Elysian slips a bit.  Sam Adams and Blue Moon surprise the hell out of me.  More notes after the pic.

Pumpkin Beer Tasting – Sept 14, 2012

  • Blue Moon Harvest Pumpkin Ale
    • Light pumpkin nose.  Light body, no head, nice orange clear color.  Barely any pumpkin. 5.7% ABV.
  • Buffalo Bill’s Pumpkin Ale
    • No head, barely orange.  No pumpkin in the nose.  Can’t taste the pumpkin.  5.2% ABV.
  • Dogfish Head Punkin Ale
    • No head, slight orange color.  Light pumpkin nose.  Spicy body with little pumpkin flavor.  7.0% ABV.
  • Uinta Brewing Punk’n Ale
    • Nice head, cloudy orange color.  Smooth, easy drinking.  Not a lot of pumpkin.  Hints only.  4.0% ABV.
  • Shipyard Pumpkinhead
    • Yellow color, no head.  Light pumpkin nose.  Body is light, but unremarkable.  Tastes like high end budweiser… now with pumpkins!  4.7% ABV
  • Samuel Adams Harvest Pumpkin Ale
    • Beautiful beer.  Deep burnt sienna color with creamy head.  Minimal nose.  Toasted flavor in the body, spices for sure.  Very light pumpkin.  5.7% ABV.  17 lbs per barrel.
  • Shipyard Smashed Pumpkin Ale
    • Cloudy orange color.  Nice little head.  Nose is sweet and spicy.  Not really pumpkin.  Yeasty.  9.0% ABV
  • Laurelwood Stingy Jack Pumpkin Ale
    • Nice dark, copper/orange color.  Big head.  Sweet, creamy body.  Light to moderate pumpkin flavor.  Sweet is a bit overpowering of the pumpkin.  7.5% ABV
  • Elysian Night Owl Pumpkin Ale
    • Light orange color, nice short lived head.  Spicy nose.  Body is light, more spice than pumpkin.  5.9% ABV
  • Elysian Dark O’ The Moon Pumpkin Stout
    • Dark, dark pour.  Quick little head.  Chocolate malt nose.  Very little pumpkin notes.  Good stout, though. 6.5% ABV
  • Pike Harlot’s Harvest Pike Pumpkin Ale
    • Dark pour.  Light head.  Hearty ale taste.  Light pumpkin.  Ok body.  8.5% ABV
  • Southern Tier Pumking
    • Light yellow color.  Light, sweet, candy pumpkin nose.  Taste is sweet but not too sweet… if they could make candy out of this, it would be awesome.  8.6% ABV
  • Elysian The Great Pumpkin Imperial Pumpkin Ale
    • Light yellow color.  Small light head.  Spicy nose.  Spicy body.  Light on the pumpkin, not as creamy as past years.  8.0% ABV.
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Mt. Hood Brewing Ice Axe IPA

A new brew just in time for the downright blistering summer sun this weekend in the Seattle area.  Yes, blistering… we may reach a whopping 80 degrees… but don’t hold your breath. 🙂

Somewhat crappy summer aside, I have a nice little beer in front of me tonight.

Introducing Mt. Hood Brewing Company‘s Ice Axe IPA (5.7% ABV).  According to the label and website, it is their Flagship Ale, in fact.

As noted on the label, it is a British-style IPA… which made me take a look at the interwebs to ensure I had my IPA facts right.  British-style is meant to be “bitter yet smooth” according to the Inside the Cooler at  Well, Mt. Hood Brewing Company, I think you nailed it.

For the taste: nice big frothy head (if you give it enough aeration), no nose (will get to that in a moment), nice golden color, light body, lightly hoppy finish.  Reminds me of a mix between a traditional scottish, a british, and an IPA.  Really good.

My only, only complaint from keeping this in the upper eschelon of light IPAs… the nose… nearly no aroma.  If it were added, you can’t tell… maybe a little too early in the boil?  Maybe no dry hopping?  Either way, this beer needs a nose.

That is it, though.  Other than that, this one stands out in the land of Northwest IPAs… the style is refreshing.  More of a session IPA.  But in a good way.

I do have to say the website is a bit lacking… and the site isn’t in sync with the label.  On the site it notes this as a “satisfying strong pale ale”.  I would keep it to the label language, “exeptional example of a British-style IPA”.  That is how you market this beer.  Don’t try to compete with the big Northwest IPAs… keep this one simple.  It is a light, smooth IPA that is a perfect introductory IPA for those that fear the hops!

JBB6 Rating: Will Buy Again

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Widmer Brothers Summer Brews

The American Way = Beer + BBQ + Sunshine

That coming from someone that has only lived in The States, but still… does it get any better?  Sitting on the patio, grilling some grub, enjoying a cold one.  I don’t think so.

In honor of the season that brings us the highest likelihood of said equation, Widmer Brothers has been sending around their summer lineup consisting of the following:

  • Shaddock IPA (6.2% ABV)
  • Marionberry Hibiscus Gose (5.5 ABV)
  • Citra Blonde Summer (4.3% ABV)
  • Widmer Hefeweizen (4.9 ABV)

I sat down with each for a bit of a talk and this is where we ended up:

  • Shaddock IPA  – A solid, light IPA with a great hoppy nose and mildly bitter body (50 IBU).  This is a classic IPA that I would buy again.
  • Marionberry Hibiscus Gose – If you are in the mood for something a bit fruity, the Gose has the goods.  It is a very mild berry brew with the hints of dark berries throughout the taste.  Want a beer that looks more like a wine cooler but isn’t one?  Here you go, sir, here you go.
  • Citra Blonde Summer – The mildest of the bunch.  This one won’t get you anywhere the buzz train but it will quench your thirst.  Also the smoothest of the bunch.  Hop heads probably won’t like to go here…
  • Widmer Hefeweizen – A classic of the genre.  Widmer Hefe has been around for as long as I can remember and it turns out a consistently solid experience.  I quite enjoy a citrus wedge with this beer, pick the citrus to match your fance.

All in all, you can’t go wrong as long as you match your tastes with this bunch.  For me, the IPA takes the cake.  Others might want to go a little mild.

Bonus: These would all make excellent cooking beers… add that little something special to your summer meals and your equation looks more like this:

The American Way = Beer2 + BBQ + Sunshine

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BevMo! Fun Bus Extravaganza

What do you say to an email like this?

We would like to invite you to an exclusive event that BevMo! (Beverages & More)  is hosting as part of their grand opening festivities in July. This event will include a select group of Washington media and influencers, such as yourself, who are invited to travel from Seattle on the official BevMo! FUN Bus to each new store location for an evening with the experts that includes wine and beer tastings, unique cocktail demonstrations and plenty of delicious catered food and snacks.

I say “hells yes! and can I bring a guest?”.  Beer tastings with the brewers themselves meant I had to bring my home brewing master ‘The Belly’ and we were off on another hair raising adventure. First things first, the fun bus had a stripper pole.  Need I say more?  While it was a bit cramped to bust out my moves, the pole would be utilized during the evening… but that is another story for another day.

On the BevMo Fun Bus with our fellow Fun Bussers!

Our first trek was to the Tacoma BevMo! store.  They are in soft-launch mode and officially open, along with their Silverdale location, on Friday, July 13th.  On our way, we were introduced to some mock cocktails for our hydrating pleasure.  Open spirits and fun bus don’t mix, apparently.

I was pretty impressed with the store.  Big, open, clean, great selection, good complimentary food selection including a nice cheese area.  They even had some Cougar Gold for sale!

Inside the Tacoma BevMo! looking toward the front of the store from the tasting area.

A full isle of IPAs… hop heaven!!

I love a great selection of beer and this store has it, including quite a large selection that even I haven’t tried yet… As we continued to wander the store, perhaps one of the coolest areas was the growler station…

The growler station smelled of wonderful hops thanks to the Sierra Nevada Hoptimum sitting calmly on the far end.  We contemplated doing a little keg stand when the BevMo! folks weren’t looking but they were watching us like hawks… next time, BevMo! next time.

The Tacoma store tour wouldn’t have been complete without a great wine (I know, I know) tasting and some food in the tasting area including the aforementioned cheese.  Highlight was watching Paul Gregutt (author of Washington Wines and Wineries and wine expert) and Wilfred Wong (BevMo!’s cellar master and wine expert) go head to head with wines they had chosen from four different styles.  The wines were truly great and the dialogue matched.  Happy to say the WA wines performed very well.

By the time we were done with the wine tasting, though, my body was starting to ache for that wonderful nectar that is beer… so I grabbed a sixer of Hop Czar and passed them out on the bus… someone also thought to bring some wine, so now the bus was starting to get a bit of the fun in it… 🙂

Next stop, the not-yet-opened Silverdale BevMo!.  And this is where the magic happens.  We walk in and what do we get?  Four tables of beer from Hale’s Ales, Harmon Brewing, Pike Brewing, and Silver City Brewing.

I started with Hale’s.  As I introduced myself, I was shocked to realize that the founder of Hale’s, Mike Hale, would actually be pouring our beer…

Mike Hale, founder and president of Hale’s Ales.

We drank, we talked, we had a good time and one way or another we ended up talking about big beers… Mike leans over toward Bill Preib (sales manager) and says, “Bill, don’t you have a few bottles of Aftermath in your car?”  “Yes I do,” notes Bill as he heads out to grab some.  We get the downlow on Aftermath and quickly realize this is a pretty special beer.  Coming in at 9.9% ABV and sporting Centennial, Simcoe, Columbus, Cascade, and a new high alpha/high aroma “secret” hop, Aftermath was outstanding.  Spoiler alert… it ends up being the beer of the night for me.  Granted, you likely can’t find it at BevMo! but if you get a chance to pick it up at the brewery or get it on tap, you should do it and do it soon.  It won’t be around for long.

So, somewhat in awe from our first table, we wander over to Harmon where we have a great tasting experience across their line up with Jeff Carlson (one of the most tenured brewers at Harmon).  Jeff hooked us up with their blonde, IPA, Black IPA, and Expedition Amber.  I was quite impressed with all of the brews (the blonde was actually very, very solid) and Jeff was a lot of fun.

Jeff Carlson of Harmon Brewing

Next on the tasting tour was Pike Brewing.  They had their vote winning Pike Space Needle Golden Anniversary 2012 IPA on hand and while not a huge NW IPA, it was damn tasty.  Still coming in north of 6% but more like a session IPA, I enjoyed my share.

Most exciting, though, I have to admit was the teaser of their pumpkin ale that is coming out in August.  The pumpkins are ordered, the brewers are excited, and so am I.  I LOVE pumpkin beer and I hope this one truly delivers.

The final table ended with  Silver City.  Kurt was serving and their Saint Florian IPA was the standout.  It was in good company of course and it held its own.

In an altogether too fast, flash of an experience, it all came to an end.  We were being ushered to the bus for the ferry ride home and I bid a tearful goodbye to those I had just shared so much with.  Thank you BevMo!, fun bussers, and breweries.  I look forward to my next BevMo! visit where I can pick up some fine fine brews.

Goodbye BevMo! Silverdale!

Fun bus in the setting sun…

Shout out to fellow fun bussers:

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Redhook Long Hammer IPA – In The Can!

Do you like it in the can?  I know I do… and I met a lot more people that like it in the can at Redhook’s Party @ The Pier at the Seattle Aquarium, Monday May 7th.  At the event, Redhook’s Long Hammer IPA, now in the can for your pleasure.

It started earlier that night with a text to the neighbors, “First one to reply wins.  Redhook VIP Party in Seattle.  I leave at 8pm.  Who’s in?”

Mr. Dave was first to call but it was a school night and he wasn’t that interested.  Anthony was second… and took the challenge.  One hour later, we arrived.

The lobby was already packed.  People were loving it in the can!

So Anthony and I wasted no time in finding the nearest purveyor to give it to us in the can.  And verily, it was good.  Our first one in the can was smooth with the just the right body.  A great start to an evening of many in the can.

We wandered for a bit, threw our names into the raffles, and enjoyed the many sites and sounds of people enjoying it in the can.

There were people watching the fish while having it in the can:

People lined up to get it in the can:

And general mirth and enjoyment for all.

After having it in the can for most of the night, we were starting to wind down when lo and behold a voice from the heavens called out: “Anthony, you are a winner!”  And so he was.  Hello Redhook beer fridge, nice to meet you:

We stuck around for a bit more, grabbed more freebies and our night was done… well… not prior to grabbing a burger and fries at Dick’s.

My spread from the night was solid (don’t ask about the wig and boa):

And so there you go… after a night of having it in the can over and over again, we are happy to say that it was a great night.

Thanks Redhook for giving it to us in the can, we will take it any time!!

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Widmer Brothers Raspberry Russian Imperial Stout ’12

Probably the coolest shipment of beer ever!

I wondered what the hell was going on when I had to bend at the knees to pick up the box.  Open ‘er up and what do I see?  A wood box, real wood, real cool… the Widmer Brothers logo literally burned into it.  You could almost still smell the faint hint of smoke.

Pulling open the box, I am greeted with two bottles, one glass, and one tag (pictures below and with lid).  The tag, you see, is for taking initial tasting notes and cellaring it for at least a year from now.  I will be doing just that.

On to the tasting.  As you can see from the picture, it pours super dark with a nice tan head.  Just as a nice imperial stout should look… slightly viscous but not too much.  The first notable characteristic of this beer, though is the nose.  If poured cold, you still really get a sense of the chocolate malt and midnight wheat.  As the beer warms up, though, the raspberry starts to kick in.  The nose is absolutely amazing.  I could smell it all day.

The body is nice and chocolaty with raspberry in the front and middle.  The wheat and barley give it a really creamy mouthfeel, though, so it isn’t sharp but soothing.  As the beer warms up, it becomes more pronounced and better… the finish, which is a little short in the cold end gets more complex with the heat.  We really recommend drinking this around 50° F.  You might want to taste it cold, which isn’t bad, but enjoy it on the warmer side.

All in all, a really nice imperial stout.  The fruit is subtle but noticeable, adding a great character.  Drink it warmer and you will be a very happy beer drinker. 🙂

BTW… back to the wooden box.  It asks to be sent back but before sending to put my mark on it… see pic below.  I did a little boy scout project to burn my mark into the wood… a little elementary but unique.  The next one will be better… 🙂

Get some if you can!

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Redhook and ECS No Equal Amber Lager

New beer time!  This round is a collaboration between Redhook Brewery and the Emerald City Supporters who are the loudest and proudest of the Seattle Sounders fans.

I have to admit… this beer surprised me.  I thought it was going to be too light without enough flavor.  It is just the opposite, though… it is a great blend of amber ale and light lager.  It has enough character to have solid flavor from nose to finish and is super easy to drink.  It is a little light on the ABV front coming in at 5.2%, but that is ok… this is a great drink that you will keep going back from at the game, at home, wherever you might be.

Check out the pics below.  The Redhook/Sounders scarves are wicked awesome, dude…

Oh… and here is a note if you are in the Seattle area on March 2nd:

Please join us this Friday, March 2 from 5-7PM at The Atlantic Crossing for the launch of Redhook’s latest Blueline Series beer: No Equal Amber Lager. Brewed in partnership with the Emerald City Supporters (ECS) in honor of the Seattle Sounders, the release party will tap the first kegs while celebrating the rapidly approaching opening of the MLS season.

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Widmer Brothers W’12 Dark Saison

New brew!!!

It has been a while since the blog has been updated but not since I have been drinking!  This beautiful beer pours a perty copper color.  Non-existent head, which is a bit of surprise.  Mild saison nose, like a nice clean farmhouse, not the one down the road with the trucks and tractors all in the yard.  Overall taste is mild, as well.  Very nice hints of Belgium and very approachable.  I like them this way.  A good starter Saison that would be easily approachable by noobs and seasoned beer drinkers alike.

JBB6 Rating: Will Buy Again

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Been a long time…

Dear JustBeer,

It has been a long time.  I have let you down.  It wasn’t on purpose… I promise.  I just had a few other things to work on.  For example, launching another website that might actually make me some money… it is, but don’t tell anyone, ok!?

It looks like you have been staying healthy, which I am very happy for.  A couple of hundred hits a day isn’t bad considering no new content for over a year.  I am proud of you for sticking with it.  Either way, I am going to try to get back into it… really.  No promises on that but will see what I can do.  Keep in touch, ok?



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