Craft beer adventures and experiences… one pint at a time

Archive for November, 2010

Danish Craft Beer sampling – Copenhagen

Tivoli Gardens Christmas Lights, Copenhagen

There’s nothing better that comes to mind on a frosty snowfall-infused evening than relaxing with a robust Christmas beer – and there’s no better place than Denmark to do it.  Or so I thought!  In my short 3 evenings here in Copenhagen, I finally managed to find one worthwhile Christmas beer, but more about that after I share with you my wanderings to a couple of Bryghus (brewhouses) in the area.

While the US boasts over 1600 craft breweries from coast-to-coast, Denmark has literally exploded with over 600 craft breweries within its tiny geographic area!  Can you imagine the recreation and research that would be found if one were to explore and document the findings at this many breweries over the course of several summers?  Possible vacation venues indeed!

Apollo brewhouseMy first stop after Tivoli Gardens (it felt cold to this Florida girl!) was the Apollo brewhouse restaurant where the beer specialties included two seasonal brews (a Chimney Black Pilsner and an authentic German style Alt-bier), a Christmas beer, plus the house pilsner.  I sampled the two seasonals and their Julebryg (Christmas beer):

Apollo house specialty brews

In order from left to right:

1. Christmas beer (Julebryg) – while this local specialty was better than the Tuborg Julebryg I sampled the night before, it too was a disappointment – flat, undistinctive, and an unremarkable texture and flavor.  I was happy that I had another two samples from which to choose.

2. Chimney/Smokehouse Black Pilsner called Skorstenfejer (ABV 5.0%) – I’m not a big fan of dark beers, but this one was so distinctive from the first sniff that I knew it was something special:  rich, smoky charcoal like aroma with a surprisingly smooth taste and finish.  It’s hard to describe the taste as I’ve not tasted any beer like this before.  I anticipated that the smoke might be overpowering but it enhanced the flavor creating memories of other smokey adventures involving grilling in the outdoors.  This Black gold was a perfect pairing for the specialty Roast Duck dinner I ordered (duck accompanied by a light gravy, slivered beets, and baby potatoes), and I was happy to have ordered them both.

Black pilsner and roast duck - yum!

3. German Style Altbier (ABV 5.1%) – there’s no mistaking an authentic altbier made in the German style if you inhale the aroma before you taste it.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that this brew was true to form – and had a rich taste to match.

After dinner, I headed across the street to find the Vesterbro Bryghus which also features local brew specialties.  I haven’t ever seen a brewhouse with wild boar heads on the wall, so I knew that this was not your typical brewpub.

Vesterbro BryghusWhen I asked for a small taste of 3 of their local varieties (Blond, Amber and Julebryg), the server informed me that I would have to have their entire sampler tray which also came with Tuborg’s Christmas and the regular factory beer Carlsberg.  It took a bit of convincing but she finally agreed to give me a finger height sample of each in a small glass, and to my delight, I finally found their Christmas beer reasonable.

Anchor Steam Holiday Ale (36th Year)p.s., Since returning home, I had the good fortune to try the new Anchor Steam Holiday Ale (ABV 5.5%) on draught – the 36th year of the top-secret recipe holiday brew.  And, it was the closest taste to the Norwegian Christmas taste that I’ve been looking to find.  Dark, smooth, Christmas-like aroma (cloves, nutmeg, nutty), and a lingering finish that reminds one of cold nights in front of a hot fire – up north of course!

Until the next pint – enjoy your holiday season!

An unOfficial beer goddess…


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Tuborg Julebyrg (Christmas beer)

Greetings from Copenhagen!

Tuborg Julebryg

I have to say that this was a huge disappointment in terms of Christmas beer… perhaps I am becoming more critical in terms of my expectations of Christmas beers (or spoiled by the array of seasonals now available in the U.S.).  I anticipated from the coloration that this would measure up to the Norwegian Christmas beers of seasons past in terms of full-bodied and caramel taste, but it unfortunately, did not.  (Note to friends in the US – you are not missing anything here.)  Measuring in at 5.6% ABV, the pouring was wonderful only  in color, but the aroma (non-distinctive), taste (bland), and overall experience made for a forgettable experience. The best thing about this pour was that there was gentle snowflakes falling outside!

BUT… all is not lost as I sampled a second, surprisingly good second pour – none other than a Carlsberg (yes, a Danish institutional brewery) Carl’s Special Golden Ale (see photo below).

Carl's Special Golden AleThis brew was definitively caramel in aroma with a hint of molasses and competes with some of the nicest craft amber/golden ales I’ve tasted here or in the U.S.  I anticipated a much more industrial (mass-produced) flavor having had the Tuborg immediately before.  But the Carl’s Special IS special – full-bodied, refreshing with caramel/toffee aftertones.  (Hmmm… hints to Budweiser – if Carlsberg can do a good job on a specialty amber, perhaps there is hope?)  Carl’s Special Golden Ale measured in at a respectable 4.6% ABV but packed taste rivaling a much more robust brew.

Recommendation: If you happen to be in these Scandinavian parts anytime soon, the Carl’s Special Golden Ale is definitely worth the price of a pint!

Next post — Microbrewery visits in Copenhagen and the Christmas lights of Tivoli Gardens at night.

Until the next pint,

An unOfficial beer goddess.


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The Reverend – Belgian Style Quadrupel Ale

“Created by God, feared by Satan, loved by all”

As quoted on The Reverend by Avery Brewing Company, Boulder, CO label (ABV 10%)

Avery Reverend Belgian Style Quad Ale

“This could become one of my favorite beers – if only it was available in Florida” said my anonymous guest-taster who was over for a Sunday afternoon tasting.  I’d agree!  I had the good karma to taste three different Avery blends at the Beer Bloggers Conference in Boulder a couple of weeks ago, but this brew is by far the best I’ve sampled.  The Reverend comes in a 22 oz bottle and not yet available this far east (to my knowledge)… but I’ll be on the lookout for Avery in Florida (apparently J.J. Taylor distributors in Tampa carries it – just haven’t found it yet!)

Here’s my unOfficial observations:

  • Nose: Amazingly, the aroma with this brew is unobtrusive and faint, almost like a faint sweet floral perfume – and does not give credence to the amazing burst of flavor that comes with the first taste.
  • Weight and color: A translucent coppery-red that reflects rather than allows light through.  When you first taste The Reverend – respect is immediately given – there is a sweetness that hides the alcohol content – who would have believed that in the mug was a 10% brew!  Who knew Belgians could be so tasty!
  • Enjoyment factor: Clearly an award-winning brew in the making!  I guess I should have sensed royalty in the Red Metallic foil around the cap!  The Reverend inspires confidence and is malty and amber-like with a caramel flavoring but not hoppy.  Reminiscent of my Canadian upbringing as it reminded me of MacIntosh toffee chunks but much more lingering flavor.
  • Recommendation: If you like beer at all – especially if you like craft beers with a body and soul – you’ll love The Reverend.  A thumbs-up 8 out of 10 from a generalist point of view, but my guest would give it a full 10 out of 10 (with the hopes that either Avery will ship some brews out to this outpost in Florida or that a local source is discovered!)

Until the next pint,

an unOfficial Beer Goddess.

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New Planet Gluten Free 3R Raspberry Ale

New Planet 3R Raspberry AleNew Planet brewery in Boulder, CO is one of the few North American breweries that feature Gluten Free beers. While there are only two brews currently on their line (22 oz 3R Raspberry and 12 oz Tread Lightly Ale), both are certified Gluten Free and available only in Colorado.  I had the luxury of sampling both brews when New Planet was one of the featured brewers at the Beer Bloggers Conference in Boulder a couple of weeks ago.

The 3R Raspberry Ale is a different experience than many of the Raspberry beers I’ve sampled in the past.  It comes in at 5% ABV and is a light ale that is very, very light on the Raspberry flavor.  Here’s my other observations:

  • Nose: If you close your eyes and smell the freshly poured pint, the aroma is faintly fruity but far from the heavy berry of wheat fruit beers.  It reminded me more of a light amber than anything fruit based.
  • Weight and color: A crystal clean light orange-red with a lightweight sensation on the tongue. There was an almost creamy aftertaste that I couldn’t place, but the main flavor was a refreshing, light fruit infused almost pilsner style – but without the tartness of many of that style.
  • Enjoyment factor: Seemed a little flat and unexciting, but more enjoyable than the overpowering syrupy textures of some fruit beers.  I could easily see drinking a few pints or so of this one chilled almost to ice-state on a hot Colorado summer afternoon.
  • Recommendation: Thumbs up!  I’d give it a hearty 7 out of 10 for enjoyment, versatility, and uniqueness based on the Gluten Free status.

I look forward to future offerings from this craft brewer- and to increased distribution (especially for those who need gluten free!)

Until the next pint,

the unOfficial beer goddess.

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Cigar City Brewing needs your help

Cigar City BrewingOne of Tampa‘s newest craft breweries, Cigar City Brewing, is under siege to keep its Tasting Room open.  Less than 2 years old, the brewery has won awards from Draft magazine and continues to garner fans across the country who carry bottles countrywide since the brewery now ships only to a few eastern states.

Vote by clicking here to keep the Tasting Room open!

Tasting Menu Nov 2010The Tasting Room has an interesting current (November 2010) tasting menu – at the top is their award-winning Jai Alai IPA (7.5% ABV) and their cedar aged version of the same beer their Humidor IPA (also 7.5% ABV).

One of my favorites on their current menu is the Tocobaga Red (7.2% ABV) – it is as smooth as my other favorite amber beer on tap – Alaskan Amber.

An interesting limited edition brew set (2 different brews) is the “Either” and “Or” brews (11.2% ABV). According to the Tasting Room’s Travis, Either and Or is the result of a collaborative project of 3 breweries:  the same recipe was used for both brews.  Cigar City Brewing made the one batch, while a partnership of a Vermont brewery and a Copenhagen brewery made the second. The water and recipe are identical (both were brewed onsite in Tampa) but the hops are different.  While both Either and Or are 11.2% ABV, my taste buds gave a totally different experience from each:

  • “Either” tasted to me like a deep Chocolatey Stout style ale (is that the proper way to describe it?),  and
  • “Or” reminded me of Norwegian Christmas beers (which would be great with gingerbread).

Raw ingredientsI was amazed (but not surprised) at the difference that the hops brought to the same recipe beers. Either and Or are available in limited release for the next couple of weeks for $7.50 for a 12 oz bottle from the Tasting Room.

The next collaborative project will result in a New Year brew set called “Neither” and “Nor”.  Watch for it in early 2011!

Please vote to keep the Cigar City Tasting Room open – even if you don’t live in Tampa!

Until the next pint,

UnOfficial beer goddess.


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Beer Bloggers Conference 5-7 November 2010

108 Beer Bloggers descend on Boulder, CO

BBC10What a great weekend of lectures, tastings, tours, and discussions based on the original nectar of the gods (brewing is older than wine!)  The crowd was as diverse as the brews… hailing from every corner of the United States (with one hearty soul from the UK!) – and all coming together to celebrate the love of craft beer.

Not just any beer mind you – but craft beer of all shapes, sizes, styles, flavors, colors, origins, recipes, and secrets! It was amazing to listen to so many words about beer, yet the “B” word (Budweiser) was nary a mention.  One attendee, who worked for Coors for many years, hastened to mention the term “Coors” at least 10 times during the various lectures, but it seemed to be more to let everyone know that he had worked for a big brewer than to mention any particular mega-bland brewery. (Or perhaps there was a contest where Coors was the secret word of the day?)

Taste… did we!

tastingsThere were many highlights of the weekend for me! These included the “Night of Many Beers” (attendees brought craft brew samples from near and far to share on Friday night) and the “Beer Blogging” (ala the 5 minute speed dating with brewers showing off their talents instead of guys/gals! Now if we added shoes to the mix – I know this is a sexist comment but whatever… – it would be my ideal way to spend a date!) There were so many styles and flavors that I will need to spend many evenings doing research to get up to speed of the experts at the conference. How to do so and also keep up my girlish figure is going to be a challenge. (Sidenote:  The idea of drinkers with a running problem like the “hash house harriers” is sounding more attractive all the time.)

Hmmm… that leads me to the thought – could there be some future success with a beer diet?  Perhaps not as a formally published method, but as long as I cut my overall calories consumed (that’s the key to losing weight) it should work! And maybe it would even change the metabolic mix if a higher percentage comes from healthy fruit and wheat/barley/hops food groups.  (Note to self: do research to see if I can lose weight on the “beer diet”!)

Craft Brewing is growing…

BBC10

With fellow attendee Rick at #BBC10

An early morning network news program last week cited 1600 craft breweries in the USA alone, with many micro and craft brewers emerging in Canada and throughout the world (Japan is an emerging craft brew market making significant strides!)

And with such an explosive growth comes a plethora of experimentation and explosion of distinctive flavors.  I was amazed at some of the remarkable and non-traditional ingredients that today’s brewers are testing in their brews.  Just a couple of days ago, I read an article about the Sam Adams Brewery partnering with a leading chef to add beef hearts as a final ingredient to a new brew.  Not my style or preference (I can imagine it will be a dark Oktoberfest type of beer) – but interesting at least. And as any smart marketer knows, publicity is publicity especially when it comes from negative comments by the SPCA!

The Beer Bloggers Conference (BBC) in 2011 will be in Portland Oregon somewhere around June-August 2011.  In the meantime, I can’t wait to get more posts up and more experience with Florida and beyond craft brews. Watch for updates on the local, U.S., and international scene as I drink my way around the world (and I don’t mean at Epcot!)

To your good health, cheers!

Until the next pint,
The unOfficial beer goddess.


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