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<strong>The Disgruntled Chemist</strong>


Beer Blogging - Moylan;s Moylander Double IPA

It's finally baseball season! Right now I'm watching the Angels' season opener; they're trailing the Twins 3-2 in the top of the 8th. Let's drink some beer.

The pour: Golden red with a lot of fine bubbles that result in a white, thin head. It's a pretty looking beer.

The aroma: It smells like an IPA. Lots of floral, fruity hops. I can smell orange, grapefruit, and a little sweetness (honey maybe).

The taste: Much more going on here than there was in the aroma. The first thing that hits your tongue is that sweetness that it's still hard to define, but I'll say it's honey. The label says this beer has "double hops and double malt", but if they put a lot of malt in here I can't find it. Next is the floral hops and the orange, but that transitions quickly into the last flavor/aftertaste. The finish is very bitter, with hints of grapefruit, and you have to wait a second before you can take another sip. There's zero hint of alcohol (8.5% by volume), and a good amount of carbonation. Overall, this beer isn't that well put together. They were going for an IPA with more flavor when they made this a double IPA, but all they did was drown the malt in a sea of hops. I'm not a shrinking violet by any means when it comes to hops, but I do appreciate a little balance - there's such a thing as going overboard. The overall effort wasn't that successful, and even the beautiful pour can't salvage it.

The rating: 4/10. The label is covered in medals that this beer presumably won at different beer tasting festivals, but I can't for the life of me see how. It does have live yeast in it, so maybe it's too old or not old enough or something. Still, I can't see recommending it because it's such a one-trick pony. There are probably 10 better, more interesting IPAs (Lagunitas Maximus, for one) brewed within 50 miles of where this one is made (Novato, CA). Buy one of those.



Beer Blogging - Bear Republic Big Bear Black Stout

I have another excellent beer to drink tonight, from Bear Republic brewery in Northern California. It's their Big Bear Black Stout. Let's see what we've got here...

The Pour: This is a deep black beer. Holding it up to the light, I see absolutely nothing coming through. Even with Guinness, you see a little ruby around the edges of the glass, but not with this one. The head is a deep tan, with lots of large bubbles. It's almost creamy looking on top, and it's certainly not in any hurry to dissipate.

The Aroma: It smells strongly of roasted malt. There might be a little bit of floral hops under there as well, which is pretty common in beers from northern California.

The Taste: There is some serious roasted malt happening here. The first thing you taste is that roasted malt, which tastes like espresso and chocolate. That's followed by just a hint of floral hops, which don't taste out of place as they would in some other dark beers. The aftertaste is a little bit sour with hints of caramel malt and vanilla. The vanilla sticks around longer than anything else and provides a very nice finish to every sip. There's not too much carbonation, just enough to keep things interesting.

The Rating: 9/10. If you like stouts, this one is an exemplary specimen. You might not be able to find it outside of California, but if you happen to be in the area and you like stouts you have a moral obligation to buy a bottle.


Beer Blogging - Lagunitas Cappuccino Stout

This one looks good. It's a beer I picked up at a great local liquor store: Lagunitas Cappuccino Stout, brewed with Colombian coffee. I've never had a bad beer from Lagunitas, so let's see if the streak continues.

The Pour: A dark beer with a tan, foamy head. About like you'd expect from a stout or a porter. It looks pretty good.

The Aroma: I know it's a stout, but it smells like an ale. Well, an ale that was brewed with coffee, that is. There are hops and malt together in the aroma, which is weird for a stout. There is also the unmistakable smell of espresso. That's good - I like espresso.

The Taste: If it weren't for the coffee, I don't think this beer would taste much like a stout at all. Then again, maybe that's the idea - they made an ale, and the coffee turned it into a stout. If so, mission accomplished. It's actually a really well balanced beer; there's a big hit of hops out front, and then a malty coffee finish. There's not as much carbonation as the head would suggest, and no hint of the 8.3% ABV. This is a nice, well put-together beer. Of course, when I see Lagunitas on the label I expect a finely crafted beer, and this one didn't disappoint.

The Rating: 8/10. Don't be scared by that "stout" on the label, this one drinks a lot more like a dark ale. There are some hops, but even if you don't like hoppy beers this one will probably be OK for you. If you see it, I highly recommend buying one.



Beer Blogging - Snakebite

OK, last one for the night: the Snakebite, which is Guinness floated over pear cider (Wyder's in this case).

The Pour: This one is poured just like the Black & Tan, but it looks a lot cooler when it's done because of the contrast in colors between the Wyder's Pear Cider and the Guinness Draft. It's also a lot harder to pour without having the layers mix. You really have to go slow; I find it helps to fill the spoon with Guinness first and slowly pour it over the cider, creating a layer of cider before you pour the whole mass of Guinness on top. The result looks pretty nice:

The Aroma: Unlike for the Black & Tan, you can smell the pear cider in this one. It smells like a sweet Guinness, basically.

The Taste: Also unlike the Black & Tan, you can taste the pear cider from the first sip. That's because of the mixing that happens right away, but also because the pear cider is so sugary, it almost overwhelms the Guinness. As the drink warms up, it starts to taste more like Guinness.

The Rating: 7/10. The mix of sweet pear cider and smoky Guinness is actually very appealing. I'd recommend it.


Beer Blogging - Miner's Lung

This is only sort of beer blogging, since there's also vodka in this thing. Specifically, the recipe for the Miner's Lung is:

  • Pour 3 shots of vodka into a pint glass
  • Fill with Guinness
That's it. Here are the ingredients:

And here's the vodka in the pint glass.

The final product:

The Pour: Pour 3 shots of vodka into a pint glass, and then fill it with Guinness Draught. A full bottle (11.2 fl oz., for Guinness Draught) should just fit into the pint glass. The final product looks just like Guinness, with maybe a little smaller head.

The Aroma: You can really smell the vodka. I was thinking that the Guinness might hide it, but no, not so much. The smell of alcohol pretty much drowns out everything else, which makes sense because if you do the math, you find that this is essentially a pint of Guinness with 13% ABV.

The Taste: It's the strangest thing. I know what Guinness tastes like, and I'm expecting to taste Guinness, but upon my first sip I can't taste Guinness in this pint glass. After a few more sips, I can tell what's going on here: the first thing you taste is vodka, and the aftertaste is vodka, but in the middle there's some nice Guinness flavor. It's an interesting drinking experience, to be sure.

The Rating: 5/10. It's definitely not for everyone, and I don't think I will ever make it again. I guess if you had some top shelf vodka (with less of a distinctive taste than Smirnoff), it would probably taste more like Guinness. Maybe I'll try that some day if I ever buy good vodka. Anyway, I can't say I recommend a Miner's Lung, as such. Try it if you want.

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Beer Blogging - Black & Tan

I think I'm going to make some drinks with Guinness in honor of St. Patrick's day (and, more importantly, Tart's birthday). First up is a classic, the Black & Tan, which for the uninitiated is Guinness Draught floating on Bass Pale Ale.

The Pour: Making your own black & tan at home is easier than you think, and you don't need to buy one of these things. First, fill the pint glass half-full with Bass (or Harp, to make a Half & Half). Then take a cheap metal spoon and bend it at the neck so that the bowl of the spoon is 90° to the handle. Put the bottom of the spoon a couple inches above the Bass and pour the Guinness (use Guinness Draught, not Stout) into the spoon slowly. Because the Guinness is more viscous than the Bass, it won't mix (at least not right away), but instead just sit on top.

The Aroma: It smells like Guinness, which is to say that it smells a lot like roasted malt. The heavy top layer of Guinness effectively prevents any of the hops from the Bass from getting up to the top of the glass.

The Taste: The first several sips start out just like Guinness, which I beer blogged here. A brief restatement: the first sip of a Guinness draught should absolutely be taken before the head starts to dissipate, because it is delicious. It's almost like the first sip of a cappuccino, because of the fine bubbles that build up due to the draught widget (a little plastic thing filled with nitrogen, used to replicate the N2/CO2 tap used for Guinness in bars). The beer itself is light and roasted, and the flavor gets fuller as the beer warms up.

Once the layers mix (which takes a few minutes if you're drinking slow, which you should be), the drink totally changes. Every sip gives you the full Guinness flavor, mixed with light flowery hops from the Bass. You can't taste all the flavor of the Bass, but what comes through complements the Guinness very nicely and actually lightens up the roasted flavor a little bit.

The Rating: 8/10. Don't get it in a bar, just make it yourself. It's easy to pour, and since you can't fit two bottles of beer into one glass you have a great excuse to have two drinks. Once you can taste two beers at the same time, it's a really nice drink with a flavor that will probably appeal even to people who don't like Guinness.



Beer Blogging - Anchor Brewing Liberty Ale

What's an evening without beer? I can use this one, because Hillary Clinton is on The Daily Show right now, and she's kind of annoying me. I turn on this show to watch interviews and comedy, not campaign commercials. Let's drink some beer.

Pour: the beer has a clear, golden color and a fluffy white head that sticks around for quite a while. It looks like there's quite a bit of carbonation.

Aroma: I'm a little stuffed up right now, so I might not be getting everything here. There are definitely hops present, smelling like pink grapefruit. There's also some very faint malt.

Taste: it tastes a lot different than it smells (which may be a function of my congestion). This is one of those beers that tastes as good out of a keg as it does out of the bottle; I know this because I just had this one out of my girlfriend's brother-in-law's keg a couple weeks ago. For all that the hops dominate the aroma they really stay out of the way in the flavor, giving the malts room to assert themselves and leading to a surprisingly complex beer. The first taste you get is honey, followed by a toasty malt for a really nice effect. The hops show up after that, and they don't taste as grapefruity as they smelled. They're more floral.

Rating: 8/10. It's not Anchor Steam, but it's a very well put together beer in the American Ale style. I am a big fan; if you like Fat Tire but wish it had some more hops, this beer would be right up your alley. Go get some.



Beer Blogging - Bear Republic Red Rocket Ale

Beer beer beer. Specifically, Ricardo's Red Rocket Ale from Bear Republic Brewing. Here's what it has to say about itself: "Red Rocket Ale is a bastardized Scottish style red ale packed with distinctive flavors and an aggressive hop character rivaled by none. This unfiltered, bottle-conditioned, amber colored ale breaks all style molds". That certainly does sound promising.

The pour: a dark red ale with an enormous, fluffy tan head. Seriously, the head on this thing was imposing. I probably could have floated a dime on it, had I been so inclined and had a dime handy. The head went down over the course of about 5 minutes, leaving lots of lace on the sides of the glass.

The aroma: mmmm, hoppy. Lots of floral hops are the main thing, and there are some sweet malts lurking underneath. There are a lot more hops than I was expecting, actually, which is a good thing. I like hops.

The taste: a lot like the smell, actually. This is an exceptionally well-balanced beer; I'm actually having a little trouble picking out when each flavor transitions into the next. There is definitely a delineation, in that the first part of the beer is the Scottish red ale part, and the second part of the beer adds the hops. You don't notice the switch when it's happening, though, which is kind of cool. This beer would be too hoppy, except for the hints of malt that pop up throughout. They're sweet, they're caramel-tasting, and they take the edge off of the grapefruit and lemon peel of the hops. The effect is really great. I'm a big fan of this beer, and I'm very sad that I'm only now trying it for the first time.

The rating: 9/10. If you like Scotch ales (like McEwans, for example), and you like IPAs, this beer is custom-made just for you. It's sort of the best of both worlds. This is a well-put-together beer. You should buy some as soon as possible.