Happy Brew Year

Happy 2013!!!

As some of you know, last summer we moved from New Orleans to New England. So here we are.  Surprisingly, there are quite a few breweries in these here parts. Tons from Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine.

 

I still have yet to taste what many claim as one of the best beers in the world (no, NOT Westvleteren…though that is also one of the best in the world!): The Alchemist’s Heady Topper

 It is from Vermont, so I will get it one day…..

For now, I’m sampling what I’ve got access to locally. The other day, while a friend was visiting, we visited Worcester, MA.  So of course I researched beer stores and found Mass Liquors. Here’s what I picked up:

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Had any of these? They are ALL new to me, except the first one on the top left, which I was lucky enough to be given by Polly Watts of The Avenue Pub in New Orleans (Thank you, Polly!!).

Guess what my friend from Long Island brought me?

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That winter ale is pretty high alcohol, but quite tasty! Thanks, Bill!

On another note…..our basement is finished and I still have to do my “beer” decor. Here are a bunch of coasters I’ve collected. Maybe I’ll put them in a book. What about bottle caps? I was thinking of a piece of sheet metal with magnets attached to the backs of the caps. Also once scanned in a ton of beer labels. Thoughts?

Coasters:

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All the best in 2013, folks….

Cheers!

T.

 

Brewforia Fail

So last February, I decide to try ordering beer online for the first time. New Orleans had a limited (though great) selection of beer and I love trying new beer, so I thought this was perfect.

Yes, it was going to be expensive, due to shipping, but I thought it would be worth it…at least once. Boy, was I wrong! What a mess.

The reason why I chose Brewforia over other online stores, was that they had their selection all laid out for you to see, and you could just check off which ones you wanted. I had read good reviews about them too. I also heard Bruisin Ales was a great place, but since you didn’t know what they had in stock currently, it would have involved more back and forth emails to see IF something was in stock or not and to find out how much it would cost, since that was also not on their site.  Perhaps I should have gone with them anyway….

So here is the story from start to finish of my disaster order with Brewforia:

February 20,2012: I made an order with Brewforia that cost approx $100, including shipping. I received an order confirmation from Tatiana at Brewforia. I also received a confirmation email from customer support listing my entire order.

February 22, 2012: I received an email from customer support that said there was a glitch in their system and two of the beers I wanted were “done for the season”…did I want to replace those two?

Ok, that’s totally fine.  It happens…it was only 2 beers. Same day, I responded telling them just to credit the amount back to my credit card, if it was already charged or just to take those two off the order. I didn’t want two different beers. Seems pretty simple, right?

No response.

February 24, 2012:  I received an email from customer support saying my order had shipped….my entire order…including the two beers they claimed they didn’t have.

I wrote right back asking if they indeed found those two beers, or if they would be refunding my credit card for them.

No response.

March 3, 2012: I received a box of beer…missing 9 bottles of beer plus the glass I ordered! Hmmm….ok, I thought. Maybe there’s another box coming? What I found strange was that there was no order sheet in the box.  Anytime anyone sends anything, there’s always a receipt in the box. Hmmm…..

I emailed them right away, that day.

No response.

I called the store and they said Tatiana just left and I needed to email her about this. So I did.

No response. For a LONG time.

March 16, 2012: Tatiana writes back in response to the missing beer. Here’s her response:

“...the distributor is still out of stock on The Bison Brown and The Fishtale Organic Amber and the Scuttlebutt IPA. We normally get a couple of orders a week from these distributors and we keep on ordering them and they keep on saying they are out of stock. I know it’s been a very long time but what would you like to do? I don’t want you to have to wait longer than you already have? Do you want me to go ahead and send out what we have and make some substitutions for the ones we are out of? Or maybe you would like me to send what we have an issue a refund for what we are out of? Just let me know and I’ll take care of this.

May I add that the three beers you see listed that are out of stock in that message are completely different than the ones mentioned earlier, which were seasonal beers (New Belgium Frambozen and Wasatch Winterfest)! No explanation why there were 9 bottles and a glass missing from my order. And of course, there are more out of stock now that it’s weeks later!

Is that how it works? If it’s out of stock, they just don’t send it and don’t tell you? (first, they should update their site…those that she mentioned that were out of stock were listed as in stock on the website at the time she wrote the email)

I emailed her back right away (as it sometimes takes them weeks to get back) and explained the Twitter happenings (I tweeted with Brewforia a week earlier than this most recent email and found out they were only out of the Uinta Dubhe, so I told them an exact beer of equal value to replace it with. They said no problem, box would go out right away…it didn’t).

By this time, even more beers were out of stock (from my original order). I emailed the list of exactly which beers they still owed me (that I’d already paid for). I asked for them to let me know ASAP exactly which of those beers were out of stock and I would email a list of replacements so they could ship them out right away.

No response.

March 19,2012: I received an email from customer service (Tatiana) telling me which beers I was missing, and explaining that she substituted those that were out of stock with other ones (of her choice instead of mine) and gave me the tracking number of the shipment.

At this point, I was done. I just wanted this over. I knew I’d already had several of the beers she substituted and why would I pay that much money for someone to send me those when I’d already had them? Anyway, I left it at that and just waited for my box.

March 26, 2012: My final beer shipment arrived. Unfortunately, the awesome Petrus chalice I ordered was completely shattered (as you can see above). I had been saving my Petrus to drink out of it…but alas, I had to use my Cantillion glass (from Avenue Pub):

 

I didn’t bother to complain to Brewforia. I was done.

Maybe it was a fluke that I had such bad luck with them, since others didn’t seem to have these problems. I’m not going to say YOU shouldn’t order from them, since others have had good luck with them and they do have a good selection of beer. But I am going to say that I will never order from them again.

Where have you ordered beer online? I think I will steer clear of online beer ordering for the time being and enjoy my new beer surroundings in New England!

Cheers!

T.

Welcome to New England!

We recently moved from New Orleans to New England. And so now I am drinking my way through the various regional brews. There are so many new ones I’d never even heard of….isn’t that great?

Here are just a few I’ve had. If you have any suggestions, please let me know!

These include the following breweries:

Wachusett Brewing

Cambridge Brewing

Berkshire Brewing

Lefty’s

Smuttynose

Cape Ann Brewing

Shipyard

Offshore Ale Co.

Somerville Brewing

High and Mighty

Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project

Thomas Hooker Brewing 

Opa-Opa Brewery

The People’s Pint Brewery

Nectar Ales (Firestone Brewing)

 

 

 

(that watermelon ale was pretty disgusting I must admit)

 

 

And there you have it….my first exploration of beers of New England. Feel free to suggest some more!!

I did notice something a bit strange about the beers up here in general. They are often mislabeled. Or perhaps it’s just not what I’m used to drinking. A Kolsch is not a Kolsch. A wheat is not really a wheat. A nut brown ale is more like a stout or a porter, and a Belgian is not quite as Belgian as I’d like it to be. Have you noticed that too?

Cheers!

T.

 

 

Swedish Beer

Yesterday, the Avenue Pub had a big Swedish Beer Event. We were able to attend for a bit, but I was only able to taste five out of the nineteen Swedish beers they had on tap.  We arrived around 1 pm and found a table free inside. We didn’t buy a ticket for the special 3 pm tappings, as we weren’t staying that long. As time passed, it got busier and busier inside. Looks like it was a big success!

They numbered the beers so we could order more easily (yes, there were numbers on all the taps!)…..I wasn’t even going to try to pronounce any of the names :)

Here’s what I tried (all were 6 oz pours):

Oppigårds Amarillo Spring IPA (5.9%): very grapefruity like cascade hops, very good

Närke Slättöl (4.7%): described as an “American Pale Ale”, a nice bitterness that hits the back of your tongue (mild), very good, looks somewhat unfiltered..??

Närke Tanngnjost och Tanngrisner (7.1%): Holy smokes! uses smoked barley and rye, smells a bit “boozy” yet smoky, you definitely get the sense of burning logs/fire, probably good on a snowy day, peaty, definitely a sipper.

Nils Oscar Hop Yard IPA (7.3%): quite hoppy, not so grapefruity as the first one, very good

Nynashamn Tjockhult Tjinnok (Stockholm Chinook 5.1%): very different from the others, aroma of a strong cheese but not in the taste at all, clean and crisp, good if you don’t mind the smell.

You can find a full list of all the Swedish beers they had here.

I might go back soon and try a couple others before they run out. Don’t forget, you can even get $2 off THESE pints during crafty hour 4-6 pm. Usually, it’s only for the American craft beers, but I think they want to get through these so they can tap some new beers. So if you’re in NOLA, now’s your chance!

That’s me, wearing my Northampton Brewing shirt! There were even a few folks from Northampton at the event…they recognized my shirt :)

Cheers!

T.

 

 

LOTS of tastes

Over the past few weeks, we’ve been to the Avenue Pub several times. Here’s what we drank:

4 oz tastes of Bayou Teche Biere Joi (not bad, had a very mild coffee flavor), and Noel de Geants (unfiltered Belgian, 8.5%, tasted like medicine…could NOT drink it)

NOLA Irish Channel Stout (love it, 6.8%, great stout):

Petrus Aged Pale (7.3%, always a good sour):

Also just had a little sample of Haand Nissefar Father Christmas. 7% alc, strong coffee flavor, can taste the high alc, not bad, but I don’t think I could drink even a whole 4 oz  at once. Seemed strong, good for sipping over a long period of time.

On another visit–

Brugse Zot Unfiltered (LOVE this one, had it in Belgium, this time it wasn’t very unfiltered..??):

Thanks to a suggestion from someone sitting at the bar, I tried the Saison de Dottignies (very good actually!):

And last, but not least…a SOUR!! I love sours, if you haven’t yet noticed. I tried a new one, Banhof Brettanmyces Lambicus  (Berliner Weisse, very sour, delicious):

…and yet another visit to the pub–

A Rogue Good Chit Pilsner in the back (very good!) and a Brugse Zot Unfiltered Blond in the front:

Monk’s Cafe Flemish Sour (surprisingly, I wasn’t really into this one…not sure why, maybe it was more bitter than most sours I drink?):

Then I had 4 oz tastes of Bayou Teche Biere Noire (I really like this one!) and Racer 5 IPA (pretty good IPA, doesn’t blow me away, but pretty good).

And that’s it!!

Unfortunately, we missed some of the St. Arnolds Christmas brews that were upstairs….they’ll probably be gone by the time we get back to the pub :( There’s always next year, I suppose.

Thanks, Polly and the rest of the Pub staff!!

Cheers!

T.

Utah Beer

 

Utah…..such a beautiful place! And guess what? They’ve got good beer too. Never would have thought, several years ago. But it’s booming now.

I recently had a few beers from Utah that I really enjoyed.

Squatter’s IPA in a bottle. It was unbelievably hoppy! But quite good.

Then we had it on tap locally (here in Louisiana). Totally different!! Not very hoppy, but still delicious….something in the transport I guess.

Squatter’s Hop Rising. The ultimate in hoppyness….but I like it that way. Good stuff. (9% alc)

Wasatch Devastator (Double Bock)….high alcohol, dark, rich, and delicious!

I believe these are both brewed by the same company, under the name Utah Beers. Check them out if you have access. I wish we had more Utah beer down here…..who wants to send me some?

PS- did you know that in the state of Utah, you can’t serve beer on tap if it’s over 4%? Yup. So they can’t enjoy all of their own beers on tap. But I noticed that they make most of their beers right at 4% so that they are able to serve them locally.

Utah……..

Cheers,

T.

Beer Souvenirs from Europe

So I finally gathered all my “stuff” from Europe that was beer related and took pictures. Here they are:

(from the Duvel brewery: apron, glass, beer mat, & belt)

(Belgian brewery book I bought at Het Anker)

(6-pack beer carrier I got at Het Anker)

(bottlecaps from various beers I drank)

(bottle labels from those beers)

(bottle openers!)

(brochures from Het Anker, Halve Maan, & Beer Planet)

(yup, postcards)

(coasters: some I stole from the bars, some I bought!)

And don’t forget…..I brought back a couple of beers too:

 Liefman’s Oud Bruin and Westvleteren 12!

You can see my previous Europe beer trip posts here, here, here, and here.

Cheers!

T.

Minnesota Beer

A friend was visiting last week from Minnesota and guess what? She brought me beer. Lots of beer! Four 6-packs and a large bottle to be exact. Here’s the stash:

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Summit Brewing Extra Pale Ale: really good and refreshing
Summit Brewing Red Ale: not what I expected of a red ale, hoppy, but good
Fulton Brewing Sweet Child of Vine IPA: excellent! My favorite so far out of this bunch
Brau Brothers Moo Joo Oatmeal Milk Stout: haven’t tasted it yet
Olvalde Farm and Brewing “The Aurochs Horn”: haven’t tasted it yet

So that’s my latest collection. Has anyone tried these?

I’ll post about my new love of Utah beer soon too!!

Cheers!
T.

Westvleteren and other tastings

My birthday was exactly one month ago. I decided to open my special bottle of Westvleteren 12 that I brought back from Belgium. You can read about my Belgian Beer trip here.

This beer is exquisite. I know I’ve read all about how it’s the “greatest beer in the world” and all. But seriously, I savored every sip. So rich and flavorful! Really something else. I had the opportunity to drink a bottle of the Westvleteren 8 on my trip and that too, was wonderful. It’s definitely not an everyday beer, or even a once a month beer. I’d love to have one every year on my birthday :) You can actually order them online from Beer Planet. But shipping is so expensive. Maybe one day if I have some partners to go in on the deal with me and am able to have it delivered somewhere outside of my home……where there’s someone always there to sign for it…….ok, who wants in? Any Belgian beer lovers out there?

How can you resist??

As for the other few beers I just tried, have you heard of Squatter’s Beers? They’re located in Utah. Yeah, I know……”Utah has beer???” That was my first response.  (They probably have good coffee there by now too!) I saw some bottles of their IPA in Whole Foods and so I picked one up.

I loved it. Really delicious and more malty than your standard IPA. Most of the IPA’s I drink are pretty darn hoppy. So here’s the thing….we later went to our local pub and guess what? They had the Squatter’s IPA on tap! So we got one (it’s the one in the background below). Totally different than the bottle. But still really good….much, much hoppier. I just smelled it and could tell from that grapefruit aroma. Polly (the Pub owner), explained that many IPA’s can lose their hoppiness in transport, due to lack of refrigeration. So I’m guessing maybe that’s what happened.

(the front beer is the Bruges Zot unfiltered…one of my favorites from Belgium)

If you check out the Squatters website you will see that most of their beers are only 4% alc. Why? I just found out that you cannot serve any beer on tap that is over 4% alcohol in the state of Utah. So even the folks over at Squatters were jealous that I was having their own beer  (one of the few over 4%) on tap, when they could not! I’ve not seen any other of their beers in the store, but would love to try them.

Some upcoming events in the NOLA area:

Cantillon Mamouche tasting event:

October 26th at 7:30 pm, Avenue Pub, (Cantillon Mamouche, Anchorage White Out Wit, & Drie Fonteinen Kriek & Gueze) $20 plus tax

Drink with the Monks:

November 2nd, Avenue Pub, Beers from La Trappe, Rochefort, Orval, Chimay, and Westmalle, 5 glasses for $18

Van Steenberg at the Pub:

November 12th, 2-6 pm, Avenue Pub, Jeff Versales (grandson of the founder) tapping Piraat, Gulden Drack, Augustin, & others.

Lots of cool stuff going on….big Belgian Fest! And don’t forget to go pick up some Squatters Beer.

Any favorite Belgians??

Don’t forget to follow me on Facebook.

Cheers!

T.

Zwanze Week!

This is an exciting week for craft beer drinkers. Tomorrow is Zwanze Day 2011. You can find out more about it here. Events have been happening all week at The Avenue Pub here in New Orleans. On Wednesday evening, I attended a Sours tasting. Though there were many sour beers to be had, here are the five that I chose:

Grande Dames (Trois Dames, Switzerland): 7.2% alc, ultra sour with a hint of bitterness on the end at the back of the tongue. Very good! (the sourest of all that I tasted).

BeerBera (LoverBeer, Italy): A beautiful reddish color with a slightly medicinal smell and taste, but it grew on me as I sipped it.

Abbey de Saint Bon Chien(Switzerland) 2006: 10% alc, not as sour as the others but very nice, slightly oaky taste (perhaps from the oak barrels they were aged in).

Drie Fonteinen Oude Geuze (Belgium): very sour at first taste, but not quite as much later, a little hint of grapefruit on the end. Good!

Hannsens Oude Gueze (Belgium): 5% alc, sour, was going up my nose a bit, something very strange about this one…it made my throat hurt, as if I were eating something overly sweet. Hard to finish. Wouldn’t get this one again.

My two favorites were the Trois Dames and the Drie Fontainen!

We had a great time at the pub and chatted with Polly (the owner) for a long time. Boy, does she know her beer. I’m jealous.

(Polly)

And here’s a look at the newly renovated upstairs section of the pub:

Good job…looks awesome!

Tonight, there’s also a special tapping at the pub:

Cantillon St. Lamvinus tapping (one glass of St. Lamnvinus plus a two-pour ticket at 6 oz each for $18), September 16th 5-6 pm.

Tomorrow is the BIG day! Zwanze Day 2011!! I’m not sure I’ll be able to make it, though I want to:

Zwanze Day-tapping at 2 pm, get there early for a ticket (limited number), on balcony, Ticket for 2-6 oz pours for $12.

For more complete info on these events, click here.

Don’t forget to check out my Facebook page for more!!

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