Proprietor’s Vintage No.001 HellDorado by Firestone Walker

11895002_10102786518905740_1442027335416953057_o 11952686_10102786519394760_3009589762244989654_o 11926479_10102786520218110_1514009866648628912_oRating: 6/6

Proprietor’s Vintage No.001 HellDorado by Firestone Walker is a 13.2% ABV Imperial Blonde Barleywine/Wheat Wine Ale

Label:
Since founding our brewery in 1996, we have specialized in the rare art of fermenting beer in oak barrels. In the fall of 2006, we embarked on a program to barrel age a series of vintage strong ales that would later be used as components of a blended beer. That blend would become our first Anniversary Ale, “10”.

After the release of “10”, we released limited amounts of the component beers on draft only. Many of these beers gained a cult following that craft beer fans raved about and begged for us to put in bottle. Helldorado was one of these beers.

We present the 2015 vintage of Helldorado, an Imperial Blonde Ale or Blonde Barley Wine. Helldorado has the lightest color of any of the beers in our barrel program but carries a great deal of interesting barrel character: vanilla, light char and amazing lavender-honey notes.

Rich boozy honey liqueur character and loads of smooth sweet toasted malt to finish. The El Dorado hops dance in the background without playing a dominant role in the flavor profile. This Blonde Barley Wine is a one-of-a-kind sipping beer built to last and will reward careful aging for years to come.

==Introduction==

One of the many components that have been used in many of the Firestone Walker Anniversary ales, they finally released this one out to the public. While it is limited, you should definitely try to get one as who knows now a days when they will release this one again. It goes without saying that such brews stay around for much longer unless they have a cult following. Even so, who really knows because now that Firestone is under the wing of Duvel, we will probably see even more and more beers come to fruition and more readily available than before. Quantity does not really seem to affect the quality of the beers especially when well handled. Take Ommegang for example, world class in Belgians for example, owned by Duvel. So yeah, this maybe a positive thing. Beers like PNC however, are harder to get as they were brewery exclusive. Anyways, let’s take a look at this one, shall we? Cheers!

Aromas:
Caramel, Vanilla, Banana, wheat, Banana sundae, white chocolate notes, stone fruit apricot hints, peaches, white raisins , lemon peel, coriander spice, cinnamon, Danish cream, flan, sweetened condensed milk, honey comb, dark fruit cherries, plums, raisins, bubble gum hints, coconut, bourbon, butter pecan ice cream, marshmallow, graham crackers, waffle cone, passion fruit, dragon fruit, piney and floral hop hints, honey dew melon, citrus, raw orange like the sun, rocky road ice cream, citrus flower honey, almond joy, pralines, apples, raw oranges, rocky road ice cream and pecan pie.

Flavors:
Rich Rich Banana sundae, caramel, rich vanilla, white chocolate, dark fruit cherries, plums, raisins, bubble gum hints, coconut, bourbon, butter pecan ice cream, marshmallow, graham crackers, waffle cone, passion fruit, dragon fruit, piney and floral hop hints, honey dew melon, citrus, raw orange like the sun, rocky road ice cream, pecan pie, stone fruit apricot hints, peaches, white raisins , lemon peel, coriander spice, cinnamon, Danish cream, flan, sweetened condensed milk, honey comb, tangerine candy, citrus flower honey, almond joy, pralines, apples and cookie dough.

Aftertaste:
Rich coconut, Flan, Leche Nestle/Sweetened Condensed milk notes, oak, white chocolate, milk chocolate, almonds, bananas, flowers, citrus and oak. Slight alcohol in the taste but not detracting from the flavor. Gold Crimson light to medium body, silky, smooth, creamy, velvety and syrupy mouth feel and a sipping drinkability.

Overall:
One of the best Wheat Wines/ Blonde Barley wines ever! Along White Chocolate of course. Damn over the top as always with these Firestone Reserve beers. Why does every bottle of a reserve or proprietor’s series taste so exceptional? You really have to pick any of them out to really understand it. For this, yes!! Damn right it is worth the pick up. So much luscious flavors and the scary thing is that the color of it is so misleading with it’s light body. It boggles my mind how this bottle can be the way it is. The devil really is in the details, or in this case, the liquid.

Anime Corner:
Awoken Hera from Puzzle & Dragons was used in this paring as I wanted to pick a character with a class like I chose for the other reserve and proprietor’s series. The pairing was easy, just find a golden shiny devil character as HellDorado pretty much translate to Golden Hell. Easier said than done as many of the characters I looked for did not fit the bill until I found the “Awoken” version of Hera. With her Golden shine and Red Devilish looks, how could I go wrong with this pairing. She looks like a major bad ass which represents the alcohol and complexity of the beer but the sweet flavors and golden body are clearly on how “Hot” she appears in this pairing.

Sources:
https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CLZgtnBUsAAH-Fo.jpg
http://i.imgur.com/5FIHXDU.jpg
http://i.imgur.com/Wv87exg.jpg

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2014 Preservation Series Oaked Old Richland by The Bruery

10881673_10102260551498640_1215265056226552938_n 10873492_10102260551962710_1812467087028492704_o 1973946_10102260552491650_3738902779129797754_oRating: 5/5

2014 Preservation Series Oaked Old Richland by The Bruery is an 11.1% ABV Hoppy American Barley Wine aged in Wine Oak Barrels.

Label:
Our version of an American Barleywine, Old Richland is quite hoppy with a caramel-like malt base that finishes with a hint of woodiness. Best when consumed fresh as the hop character will dimminish with age.

==Introduction==

Obtained through the Preservation Society membership which is the one that sends 3 beers quarterly. Now since this is the last one of the year and only one sent per membership, I wanted to bring this one forward as this was the last one they released for the year in general. This one is a hoppy barley wine so I assume it will be nothing like the MASH series and more of it’s own beer. The fact that they used a variety of hops (Simcoe, Centennial and Sterling) may make this one super hoppy. The aging in thw ine oak barrels may bring out some of that hidden fruitiness though. We will see, come follow me and let’s take a close look, cheers!

Aromas:
Strong herbal, floral, citrus, piney, grassy and grapefruit hops, vanilla, oak, toffee, caramel, roasted peanuts, peanut butter roast hints, smokey oak, brown sugar, old mango, pineapple, peppercorns, marshmallow smore hints, wine grape hints, almond, pecans, stone fruit apricots, rye bread, leather, passion fruit, honey dew melon and dragon fruit.

Flavors:
Citrus, Piney, Grassy, Grapefruit and floral hops, vanilla, caramel, oak, toffee, apples, smoke hints, graham cracker smores, old mango, pine apple, dragon fruit, honey, stone fruit apricots, rye bread, lemon peel, almond, pecans, earthy hops, marshmallow hints, peppercorn, floral notes, herbs, peanut butter hints, roasty peanuts, wine grapes, orange preserves, honey dew melon and passion fruit hints.

Aftertaste:
Such a bitter and hoppy finish definitive of the barley wines, caramel, oak, toffee, peanuts, vanilla, earthy, piney and citrus hops linger for a bit. No Alcohol in the taste, clear to medium amber brown body, moderate to sipping drinkability and slightly syrupy yet smooth mouthfeel.

Overall:
True to that west coast style Barley wine. Drinks almost like a malty IPA but with lots of hoppy goodness going for it. Quite frankly, I think this is the most hoppy I have ever had from the Bruery and typically, they say no to IPAs or bitter beers. Despite the fact that the wine oak is subtle due to the HOP Super Presence. You still get notes of it.. Such a great beer and best fresh too as this is possible the freshest I have had from them (hop wise). If you would like this beer, I am unsure if you need to trade for it or if they will have extras like they did with Ignis Fatuus which hopefully they will. I can definitively recommend this one if you love close to IPA hopped Barleywines.

Anime Corner:
Freya Crescent from Final Fantasy 9 was brought back for this pairing with the Bruery since she is a favorite character of mine from the series. I this pairing I tried to pair with the colors of the label but also the flavors of the beer. Freya has the perfect colors of the beer as well as the sweet caramel flavors. She is ready for battle to decimate the flavors of the palate with a barrage of sweet and Bitter hops. You can see this from the greens of her clothing which represents the hops and the reds the caramel. The Oak as seen in the armored purple version of Freya brings forth the flavors of the wine and dark fruit like characters while the floating javelins represent the onslaught of hop madness inducing the taste buds all at once and yet being alleviated by the malty sweetness which is poured in like rain.

Sources:
http://i59.photobucket.com/albums/g289/Aevitas7/Final%20Fantasy/freya_thief.png
http://oi59.tinypic.com/veci2g.jpg

2014 Reserve Mirror Mirror by Deschutes Brewing

10246499_10101827664822010_2300171710950327608_nRating: 5.85/5

2014 Reserve Mirror Mirror by Deschutes Brewing is an 11.2% ABV World Class English Barleywine with 50% aged in wine barrels.

Label:
The Reserve Series romance all began with our first release of this limited-edition brew. Mirror Mirror, born of a double batch of Mirror Pond Pale Ale, is an inspired, barrel-aged barley wine layered with intriguing nuances. Explore this latest incarnation and enjoy its delicious complexity in every sip.

Malt: Pale, Victory, Crystal, Maris Otter, Cara-Pils
Hops: Millennium, Cascade
Barrel-Aging: (50%) 10 Months in Oregon Pinot Noir, Tempranillo, and Malbec Barrels
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Picked this one up at Uncle Henry’s deli. I have been passing this one up for the longest time and after trying the NOT the Stoic, I wanted to see what this one was all about as I heard great things about this one. Pick this one up if you can find it. Deschutes makes some bad ass beers that are very coveted. Like I said, I missed this one by like a sliver and lucky for me Uncle Henry’s in Downey California had this one in stock.

Aromas:
Dulce de leche caramel, dark fruit raisins, figs, plums, cherries, toffee, molasses, maple, earthy notes, oak, port wine, old mango, leather, anise, blackberry and grape preserves, dark chocolate notes, vanilla and cinnamon grilled apples.

Flavors:
Lots of dark fruit raisins, figs, cherries, plums, lots dulce de leche caramel, oak, wine grapes, earthy hop notes, papaya, grilled pineapple,coconut, old mangoes, papaya, dragon fruits, molasses, grape marmalade of rye bread, toffee, grapefruit, butterscotch, clove spice, brown sugar, cinnamon apple pie, pecan pie, pralines, maple syrup and French vanilla ice cream.

Aftertaste:
Earthy hops, rye bread, grape marmalade, leather notes, oak, caramel, toffee, dark fruits and maple lingers but then has a semi dry finish. Well hidden alcohol, none in the taste, a sipping yet smooth beer. Syrupy and deadly!

Overall:
Well…Damn…. Needless to say, this is pretty damn fantastic. It is definitely on top notch with some of the best Barleywines in the world. The addition of the wine barrel aging gives this one a semi barrel age feel that is freaking delicious and is responsible for that semi dry finish. Now you are drinking a closer to wine beer. Highly recommended for those that can find this beauty.

Anime Corner:
Reaper Angel original artwork by artist unknown (Please let me know who this belongs to) was used in this review to show case the aspect of mirror mirror. Mirror Mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all. Beauty is only skin deep and this pairing goes to show that no matter how beautiful one is on the outside, it is what is on the inside that counts. We all have to answer to the reaper in the end and the duality of the beer making half be aged in wine barrels is showcased by the reaper side. So either way, enjoy life, take it one step at a time, have some beers and realize that perspective of the world can be an interesting when you look at both sides of the coin.

Heirloom Pumpkin Barleywine by Almanac Brewing

IMAG5181Rating: 5.4/5

Heirloom Pumpkin Barleywine by Almanac Brewing is a 12% ABV Barleywine brewed 50% with pumpkins aged in Brandy Barrels and 50% brewed with spices.

Label: 
This is a beer made with real pumpkins. We hand-roasted over 500lbs of heirloom pumpkins from La Tercera Farms in Bodega Bay. The caramelized gourds were then added to our velvety American Barleywine and aged in brandy barrels for a year. Finally, we blended the barrel-aged beer with freshly brewed ale and added a delicate hint of pumpkin pie spices to round out this decadent autumn sipper.
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Another fine pick up from Ramirez Liquor in Boyle Heights. This came out recently but it may not last long. This is quite the conundrum of a beer. I have had pumpkin ale hybrids, like pumpkin porters, stouts, barrel aged pumpkin beers and even a pumpkin lambic. Never, have I seen a pumpkin barley wine. The should make this in a 22oz bottle instead. Oh well.

Aromas are of pumpkin in a lot of rye bread, candied sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg, toffee, pumpkin pie, brandy, toasted barley, ginger bread, caramel, banana, cloves, oak, apricot, coriander, orange, honey, molasses and oatmeal. It smells very good. Almost like the Surly Seviin.

Flavors are of pumpkin, pumpkin flesh, pumpkin seeds, ginger, brandy, candied sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg, caramel, toffee, pumpkin pie, rye bread, toasted barley, banana, phenol yeast, cloves, ginger bread, coriander, Candied oranges, dried apricots, oak, oatmeal, maple, pecans, molasses, sweet yams, apples, apple pie, brown sugar, pecan pie and Tamed Bastard (Arrogant Bastard with Apple Cider)

Aftertaste is of rye bread, caramel, maple, pumpkin pie and pecans. A sipping bear with the alcohol present but not too crazy harsh.

Overall, it was definitely an unexpectedly very delicious beer. It is definitely like if they took Seviin and brewed it with pumpkins. Freaking delicious rye, caramel, brandy, spicy pumpkin tasting beer. A definite second place to Rumpkin so far this year. While I do believe the barrel aging or hybridism of the styles with pumpkin may outclass the average pumpkin beer, let us not forget, the reason they are higher than the average pumpkin beer is because of that help. If we take a look at regular pumpkin beers, I still think, Good Gourd, La Parcela, Smashed Pumpkins and Pumpkins are still the winners of originality. Anyways, this incredibly delicious Pumpkin Barleywine is a must get an a very delicious one at that.

New Crustacean Barleywineish Imperial IPA Sorta by Rogue brewing

537022_10101405105309660_1790197294_n 1236072_10101405104970340_1926772254_nRating: 4.75/5

New Crustacean Barleywineish Imperial IPA Sorta by Rogue brewing is a 10.8% ABV… umm well, they say it is Barleywine. You be the judge.

Label: 
Dedicated to Crustaceans 
The name sort of says it all. John Maier, our Brewmaster, wanted to create a beer that defied traditional style definitions. The result was a remarkably hoppy yet balanced and malty ale that quickly became a cult favorite in our Newport brewpub. But what was it? It was not quite a barley wine and not quite a double or imperial IPA. Who really cares about putting beers into narrow categories? Great beer – just drink it and enjoy. 

8 ingredients: Weyermann & Bohemian Malts; Bravo, Ammarillo, Falconer’s Flight & Horizon Hops; Free Range Coastal Water & Pacman Yeast
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This beer was supposed to be, well the beer that the infamous Beard Beer was supposed to be based out of (https://brewerianimelogs.wordpress.com/2013/04/11/beard-beer-by-rogue-brewing-company/). Looks like they did this one with Pacman yeast instead. Well, this should be interesting, a beer that can’t make up it’s mind. Reminds me of the Arrogant Bastard but that one is just labeled as American Strong Ale.

Aromas are of caramel, honey, citrus, ripe orange juice with pulp, earthy and grapefruit hops, pineapple, banana, a bit tropical, toffee, salt bread, almost crab cake or crab meat like? (might be kidding about the crab, might be not)

The flavors are of ripe to matured blood oranges and cream, caramel, grapefruit hops, earthy hops, bananas, saltine cracker notes, pine, pineapple, lots of coconut as it warms up, citrus, toffee, molasses, licorice, crab and crab cake notes (has to be the matured bitter orange flavors, I swear!!), apricots, matured mango, herbs, spices and lemon candy

The aftertaste is like a orange and caramel sweetness followed by bitter grapefruit and earthy to hops. This beer hides alcohol well, it is a sipper though. Not as full bodied and syrupy mouth feel. 

Overall the beer is very good but indeed confusing. You want to say it is IPA tropical but the Barleywine side tells you NO! I love it because it is sweet and bitter but the more I think about crabs the more I think it taste like crabs. I like crabs. I love seafood. I love this beer. I think it would pair exceptionally. This beer reminds me of Surly SYX but not as harsh. I did a review a while back, that one was too harsh. This is what SYX should have been. Then again, I may have been hard on it as it may have needed some aging to bring up the rating. Maybe next time 

Imperial Loakal Red by the Bruery

1069842_10101279480832120_86644223_n 999369_10101279483451870_1707428513_nRating: 5.5/5

Imperial Loakal Red by the Bruery is a 12%ABV Imperial Amber/Red Ale hybrid made with 75% Red Ale and 25% Red Ale aged in oak Barrels

Label: 
We took our hoppy American red ale, delightfully citrusy and full of flavor from new American Oak – and made it bigger, bolder and more exceptional. Imperial Loakal Red is best enjoyed fresh. Please store in a cool, dry place. The ideal serving temperature is 50 deg Fahrenheit (7 deg Celsius). Best served in a tulip or wine glass.
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When I first had the chance to try their Loakal Red, I was very impressed. The beer was along the lines of Troeggs Nugget Nectar and My Bloody Valentine. I was recommended to actually try the Imperial version of it. After opening the bottle the aromas were very rich. Hype aside, I would consider this to an even higher amber status than Nugget nectar and the Valentine which are harder to get.

Aromas are of very rich caramel, toffee, oak, hazelnuts, walnuts, pecans, citrus, grapefruit, grassy and herbal hops, honey, vanilla, coffee notes, french toast, brown sugar, cherries, mango, maple syrup, scotch, apricots, dragon fruit, coconut and pecan pie.

The flavors are close to a Barleywine, its crazy. You get lots of rich caramel flavors, vanilla, toffee, oak, hazelnuts, walnuts, pecan pie, french toast covered in maple syrup, brown sugar, citrus, grapefruit, grassy, herbal and floral hops, honey, cherries, mango, peaches, pineapple, scotch whiskey notes, slight coconut and tangerines.

The alcohol is present but the beer hides it well. You don’t feel it until alittle bit later. Quite the flavorful rich beer. The after taste keeps lingering with sweet caramel and hop bitterness. It is very pleasant. Will definitely need to get this again. This has become my new favorite amber ale. It is not often I get to try ambers but this one fits the bill perfectly as to what awesome ambers should be.

Threes Anniversary Ale by Eagle Rock Brewing

!294866_10101174691181420_2069728603_nRating: 5/5

Threes Anniversary Ale by Eagle Rock Brewing is a 9.5% ABV Rye American Strong Ale.

Label:
“Threes was brewed to commemorate our 3-year anniversary and, as good things come in threes, it embodies all the great things that have happened to us in the past 3 years. Comforting aromas of toasted bread and jasmine complement the peachy esters, toasted marshmallows and alcohol warmth on the palate. A substantial hop presence and dry finish balance out this delicious full-bodied strong rye ale. Cheers to an amazing 3 years, and many more to come!
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Eagle Rock is one of the local breweries in my town of Los Angeles California. I have only had a couple of their beers, but when I saw they had an anniversary ale out, I had to see what was up.

The aromas of this beer are of caramel, rye toast bread toffee, biscuit, marshmallow, brown sugar, and a faint fruitiness. The flavors of this beer are of lots of toffee, caramel, rye toasted bread, slight roasty bitterness, barley wine notes, citrus, grapefruit, floral and piney hop notes, chocolate and coffee notes, brown sugar, hints crème brulee, butter scotch, honey and biscuits, rye whiskey notes and maple. This beer is nicely balanced having some sweet hop flavors along with more sweeter caramel and rye flavors. It goes down nice and smooth too. The level of booziness is minimal to moderate but nothing detracting from the the overall beer. This beer really hits a lot of nice sweet notes. Definitely a lot of rye and toffee in this beer. Eagle Rock is one of my local breweries here in LA so I think I will be trying even more of their stuff soon. Their Jubilee was an amazing beer and this one is just as awesome as this beer.

Life and Limb series Rhizing Bines collaboration by Dogfish Head and Sierra Nevada

733906_10101099854175380_1884044036_nRating: 4/5

Life and Limb series Rhizing Bines collaboration by Dogfish Head and Sierra Nevada is an 8%ABV Double India Pale Ale with Bravo and #644 hops.

Label: 
Rhizing Bines is a collaborative IPA using the best of both coasts: Carolina-grown red fife wheat and Dogfish Head’s continual-hopping from the East and Sierra Nevada’s estate-grown caramel malt and Torpedo dry-hopping from the west.
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This is the second beer of the Life and Limb series I have the honor to try. The first collaboration I had was a dark ale. This one is an IPA. Upon opening this beers there was a nice honey rich and grassy hop fragrance. Some very slight breadiness, citrus, grapefruit, caramel and biscuit aromas. There are flavors of hop oil and honey. Reminds me of 120 min IPA but not as ABV strong or complex. Flavors of grapefruit, orange, coriander, lemon grass, grapes, caramel, maple, berries, slight flowers, some honey and toast bread flavor, somewhat of a barley wine note and butterscotch. Not the typical IPA. The flavor says it all. While still hoppy, it is not like a typical grassy IPA. It goes more along the lines of like an amber. There seems to be more malts in this. Not a bad thing in my opinion as I think this beer is delicious and refreshing. Just do not expect much of the bitterness or tropical flavors you would from an IPA or DIPA in this case. Still, worth getting as it is nice to taste those hops without the bitterness. Although bitterness is part of what hops are all about.

Nugget Nectar by Tröegs Brewing

480270_10101095687470490_1642446342_n 388897_10101095687934560_144207266_nRating: 5.45/5

Nugget Nectar by Tröegs Brewing is a 7.5%ABV Imperial Amber/ Red Ale. Considered by many, the best Amber ale in the world

Description: 
Squeeze those hops for all they’re worth and prepare to pucker up: Tröegs’ newest single batch brew, Nugget Nectar Ale, will take hopheads to nirvana with a heady collection of Nugget, Warrior and Tomahawk hops. Starting with the same base ingredients of our flagship HopBack Amber Ale, Nugget Nectar intensifies the malt and hop flavors to create an explosive hop experience.
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Almost missed out on this piece of gold. If you are still looking for it, Witty’s wine (www.wittyswine.com) still has some. This is not a west coast beer but something that comes close to this is the Ale smith Bloody Valentine and the Evil Dead Red. The aromas are very nice. Cherries, grassy hops, nutty walnuts, rich caramel, toffee, honey, peaches, mango, grapefruit, papaya, . The flavors are reminiscent of the 120 minute IPA with is extremely rich maple and honey flavor with bleeding piney, grassy and grapefruit flavors. Although this is not 18% ABV so it goes beyond. While it does not have the focus of rich cherry and fruit punch flavor like that of the Bloody Valentine, it’s emphasis on almost barley wine like aspect with tropical fruits like mango, papaya, peaches, apricots, dragon fruit almost coconut flavor, pecan pie, vanilla in walnuts, citrus, orange juice, Christmas tree, a very minor scotch note, biscuit bread with grapefruit marmalade and sweet rich pineapples. This was just.. epic!!.. The crazier part is that it has so much flavors that you would expect from a high ABV beer but lowered into the realms of refreshing and crisp drink ability. I can only describe it as taking all the flavors you would get from like lets say for example, a beer like Chocolate rain with its strong strong flavors and super high ABV then just removing almost all the alcohol but still maintaining an extremely rich flavor profile of complexity. The balance is awesome as well. I love the way Bloody Valentine tasted but this is just super amazing. Hard to find around in the West coast but if you can find it… DO NOT MISS OUT. Amber ale lover’s dream…

Old Guardian Oak-Smoked Odd Year Series by Stone Brewing

529697_10101081151969750_687651734_nRating: 4.8/5

Old Guardian Oak-Smoked Odd Year Series by Stone Brewing is an 11.4%ABV Barley Wine 

Label: *Note this one has a very long label description
PART TWO:
It’s the Friday after Turkey Day. In the US anyhow. Not here in Belize, but I had turkey yesterday all the same. Raised in the Belize countryside by German Mennonites no less. It was delicious. Gotta respect those who are focused on doing things the right way, which more and more in this world often means with less technology rather than more. The bananas are better here, too. Mostly because they’re picked ripe and ready for local consumption, rather than pre-ripe and green to ship off to the US and other far-flung countries only to be ethylene-gassed once they arrive to finish off the ripening process. Sudden flashback of when we visited our friends James & Martin @Brewdog in Scotland for our collaboration beer a few years ago called bashah (don’t think I ever spilled the beans formally before that the name is an acronym for black as sin, hoppy as hell). We had dinner at a great little restaurant in Aberdeen that historically was a banana-hanging warehouse. Later, they ended up buying the place. We actually shot a really cool video: [link) Back to the moment and Belize. Just finished a Crime. Great way to start the last night here. Now, as tradition dictates for the OG label, I’m having some 2012 Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine. Sitting at a beach bar & sharing w/John & Barbara Cheek from Oakhurst (Decatur, GA). They regularly enjoy Stone IPA at their local haunts, Steinbeck’s and The Marlay. Got to know them a little today as we were on the same little boat going out to snorkel with the sea turtles. Yes, a bit ‘touristy’ for me, as I typically head a little more off the beaten path, but hell, it was kinda cool swimming with them all the same. Swimming in the ocean made my hair quite scraggly lit’s still rather mucked up from the whole red-hair fundraiser we did back in August), and with the headband I picked up two days ago at a local shop, I’ve gotta admit that I’m looking a bit laughably trustafarian. It’s like I became an overnight pseudo-beach bum. Heh, if only. Not really my thing though, honestly. I’m a bit higher strung than that. The driven/agenda type. Gotta change the world, rather than watch it float by. But then you knew that. Save now. It’s been a ‘float’ week. Nice to visit the float lifestyle every once in a while, but I wouldn’t want to live there. Cracked a Stone Enjoy By 12.21.12 IPA just now. That’s a beer to encourage the ‘watch the world float by” if there ever was one. The aroma is certainly suggestive of that lifestyle, now isn’t it? I’ll leave it at that. Loving it. Brought two cases of assorted 22oz & 500m1 bottles on the trip. The 12.21.12 is the next-to-last, w/Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale bringing up the rear. So to speak. It’s actually not legal to bring in beer to this country as their beer laws are rather protectionist. That serves no one, except a few. Nonetheless, I swallowed my bubbling outrage as I learned this at Customs on my way in and politely asked to speak with a supervisor. I said “Hi, I’m Greg and I own a small brewery in the US, and) like to travel w/beer to share w/people I meet. I certainly don’t mind paying a duty.” He surveyed me, then the beer, then me again and decided that my two cases “didn’t represent a commercial threat” and calc’ed out a modest duty for me to pay. I did so gladly. Now I’m at the end of the visit, and reflecting on the fact that all went quite nicely thank-you- C. very-much. Thankful for the brief respite. Time to get back to it next week. Lots to do. Lots to do.

Cheers!
Greg

Ingredients: Tons and tons of barley, bountiful hops, water & yeast …and an odd dose of German oak-smoked wheat malt.
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This one is kind of odd. Taking 2 different sides. One side bitter, the other smokey. Clearly this one was genius. The fragrance of this beer lies some where in the realm of Bashah. Smokey and hoppy. Smells like earthy grass and campfire oak, citrus, caramel, toffee, barley, dark fruits, almost like BBQ pork and peppercorns. The flavors are very well balanced. Just tremendous. Sweet Caramel, roasted campfire oak wood, BBQ pork with basil, orange and spices, citrus, bread, barley, dark cherries, raisins, maple, honey, biscuit, toast bread, grapefruit, pine needles, earthy grass, slight peppercorns, molasses and some bacon :P. The aftertaste is consistent of a nice balance. The oak and bitter hops play well. Not too bitter, not too smokey. Just the right amount of ingredients to create an odd taste that is very delicious that it works so well. I can see a lot of people that enjoy smoke and hoppy beers or those that enjoy one more than the other, may come together and agree that this one works very well.

§ucaba (Abacus) 2013 Limited Release by Firestone Walker

625438_10101070283415420_515264557_nRating: 5.25/5

§ucaba (Abacus) 2013 Limited Release by Firestone Walker is a 12.5% ABV Barrel-Aged Barley wine. Considered by many to be the best barleywine in the world. I have never tried this beer and I almost didn’t grab if it wasn’t for the fact that Total Wine had one final box. I’ve seen it in downtown L.A though. It truly is limited unfortunately. So if you can get this one, get it.

Label:
Big boozy bourbon and American oak aromas combined with soft chocolate malty undertones. Complex malt flavors framed in oak, with hints of dark chocolate, vanilla, tobacco, coconut and just a touch of dark cherry. This is definitely a sipping beer, best served in a brandy snifter. This ale pairs well with dark chocolate and sturdy cheeses.

Note: Sucaba is the beer formerly known as Abacus until the Winter 2012 release.
O.G. 27 Plato 
F.G. 4.7 Plato 
I.B.U. 42 units 
Yeast: British Ale (House) 
Cases: 1500 produced 
Color: 36SRM (Dark Ruby)
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Upon opening the beer, it some really nice and overwhelming fragrances. Reminiscent of some of the other barrel-aged beers I have had from FW in the past. This beer has strong aromas of bourbon and barley. Coconut, vanilla, oak, dark fruits like raisins and cherries, chocolate, coffee notes, baked bread, toffee, flan, dulce de leche caramel, bananas and marshmallow creme. The Flavors are of bourbon, coconut, chocolate, vanilla, cinnamon, brown sugar, flan, Leche Nestle (Mexican Sweetened Condensed milk), barley, lemon, toffee, raisin and pecan bread pudding, cherries, bananas, small underlying earthy hop bitterness, light citrus, honey, maple, barrel oak, campfire smores with the marshmallow, graham cracker and dark chocolate and butterscotch. The after taste stays with you for awhile so you can really take your time and enjoy it as you go. My god, I am not sure if there is any barley wine out there like this one. I have never had a barrel-Aged barley wine but this is extremely amazing. Definitely should not be passed up if you can find it. Barley wines are not my biggest favorite of styles but this is really delicious and a must get for sure.

Starfish by Fish Brewing

530599_10100997914822660_641357718_nRating: 4.25/5

Starfish by Fish Brewing is a 7.5% ABV Imperial Red/Amber Ale. This is part of their Reel Ales Series.

Description:
Born in Head Brewer Tony Powell’s home brewery, this West Coast Style Imperial Red Ale is a hearty celebration of the brewing art. Almost welcoming you, four hops impart floral, citrus and sprucy Northwest notes to open the festivities. Then, seven malts and flaked barley dance happily across your palate. In the finish Starfish waves a crisply fond farewell. Convivially forthright without cloying agendas, Starfish is like time well spent with your future best friend.
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Aromas of this red ale are of grassy hops, grapefruit, caramel, toffee, biscuits, roasted nuts, honey and butterscotch. The flavors are of honey, barley wine almost, caramel, toffee, biscuit bread, slightly bitter grassy pine, earthy and grapefruit hops, citrus, orange, roasted peanuts, almonds and a bit of buttery biscuit. The after taste remains sweet and malty through and through. A pretty good amber ale.

Killer Penguin by Boulder Beer Company

424554_10100991492957130_927827763_n 408597_10100991492592860_1668579335_nRating: 4.45/5

Killer Penguin by Boulder Beer Company is a 10%ABV Barleywine.

Label:
Dark garnet red in color with undertones of candied fruit, Killer Penguin is an aggressive, full-flavored Barleywine-style ale and a perfect beer to share among friends. Once a year we release a very limited amount of Killer Penguin, making this our most rare and sought-after bottled beer. 
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Hard to find little guy. The aromas are of slight pine, grapefruit and grassy hops, honey, caramel, toffee, cherries, raisins, biscuit, citrus and candied apple. The smell is not too particular hop strong but you can still tell some of it. The flavors of this barley-wine focus a little more on caramel sweetness and a little on bitter grass hops. There are some other flavors of cherry, raisins, raspberry, maple syrup, sugary biscuit bread, pineapple, apples, and butterscotch. Surprisingly smooth, easy to drink and well hidden alcohol. It is hard to believe this one being a 10% ABV, but maybe that is also what makes it special 😛

The Abyss 2009 Vintage Reserve by Deschutes Brewing

537623_10100942762423510_1398929182_nRating: 5.55/5

The Abyss 2009 Vintage Reserve by Deschutes Brewing is an 11% Imperial Stout brewed with Licorice and Molases with 33% aged in French oak and Bourbon Barrels. This version has been cellared for at least 3 years and now it is time to unleash it’s fury…of flavor ofcourse…I assume that the ABV is probably higher as it has risen over time. Like a 12 or 13% maybe higher. 

Label:

The Abyss: Stout brewed with licorice and molasses with 33% aged in oak and oak bourbon barrels. It’s dark. It’s deep. It’s mysterious. Aged in French Oak and Bourbon barrels, this special brew has immeasureable depth inviting you to explore and discover its rich, complex profile. The flavor of molasses and licorice draw you in further and further with each sip. The Abyss beckons. Enjoy the journey.
====Upon getting the first aromatic notes of this ale I immediately thought of Madrugada Obscura a.k.a Dark Dawn from Jolly Pumpkin. The fragrance is like a funky sour wine mixed in with an imperial stout like Madrugada Obscura was but less sour. Although a sour Imperial Stout is pretty awesome. Lots of rich dark chocolate, roasted coffee, vanilla, grapes, molasses, licorice, milk chocolate, barley wine caramel, graham crackers, almonds and some other spicy aromas that are just nice but not sure I can name 😛 . What a challenge :D. The flavors are going all over the place. As I figured, just because it smells as good as Madrugada Obscura, doesn’t mean it taste like it. The flavors are much much more complex. We have sweetness of dark and milk chocolate, espresso and mocha, raisins, cherry and plums but still allowing some roasted and smokey notes from the coffee to develop. The sweetness bitters up into a earthy hops with notes of citrus and pine. Some tangy wine and oaky wood flavor follow and are complemented by the vanilla, bourbon, almond, coconut and caramel on the way out. The beer actually gets better in flavor as it warms up. This beer is crazy as the alcohol notes are still pushed back to let the flavors go through so it finishes smooth and dry which many may find nice as it may not be too overwhelming. Yes, even if it does have a lot to offer, the flavors don’t stay forever and the alcohol will have it’s wrath simply because you don’t really feel that it is there. It will creep into your soul O.O. The beer is definitely setup for you to keep exploring more and more. A rollercoaster of flavor in a bottle.

Crazy how one beer can do a lot in one. I have had several of the best beers in the world and to some that have exceeded my expectations usually fly because of their caramel or chocolate sweetness or just some crazy flavor that is so awesome and overwhelming. This one exceeds my expectations because you get a variety of many aspects of beer(bitter, sweet, sour, smokey, tangy, fruity and hoppy) and they are all balanced, delicious not too overwhelming. No wonder for people, this is once of the best Imperial stouts in the world and well, damn hard to find. It is definitely up there with the Founders KBS, Bourbon County Stout and others. Although Chocolate Rain is the major bad ass for me simply because it is pure chocolate in a bottle. But this definitely in great world class league and can still compete. As it warms ups it goes up to more chocolate covered raisins and vanilla flavors 😉

Firestone XVI Sixteenth Anniversary Ale by Firestone Walker

Rating: 5.5/5 (Just like last years version, harder to explain. Strategy guide included) (https://brewerianimelogs.wordpress.com/2012/10/26/firestone-xv-fifteenth-anniversary-ale-by-firestone-walker/)

Firestone XVI Sixteenth Anniversary Ale by Firestone Walker is a 13% ABV Strong Multi-liquor Barrel Aged Hybrid Blend Ale. If Last year’s beer was the Akira of beers, this beer ascended to another dimension of flavor and complexity. A Goku super saiyan of sorts. Maybe Kaiohken x20 Goku. I should mention by the way. Since this beer is stupidly complex, the flavors change with temperature. Meaning every sip will evolve into different flavors. I kid you NOT!!!. Why the fuck do you think this has a strategy guide :/. Hell, even me, I am not sure if I can explain all the flavors to the fullest. And like the stories where the people visit some mountain or some island or even reach the bottom of the ocean or go digging for archeological treasure a la National Treasure in search if riches or even…the truth, along the way, you may get buzzed enough to lower your senses. Meaning you will not be able to fully find the treasure hidden beneath as you wont be able to taste anything if you finish the bottle. A “Shut up and Take My Money” moment in beerdom. Buy one before they run out!!

Label:
The Aging Cellar – The Components
We blended together 226 oak barrels and 8 different beers creating something truly complex and exceptional. 

The following are descriptions of key components with their original code names:

Velvet Merkin (8.7% ABV) – Aged in Bourbon barrels
-Traditional Oatmeal Stout (23% of final blend)
OG= 15P FG=5.5 IBU=32.5 Color= Black / 15% Oats / Hopped with 100% US grown Fuggles

Stickee Monkee (12.5% ABV) – Aged in Bourbon and Brandy barrels
-English Barley Wine (22.5% of final blend)
OGP FG=5.4P IBU=45 Color=28 / Brewed with Mexican Turbinado (Brown) sugar

Double Double Barrel Ale (14.2% ABV) – Aged 100% in retired Firestone Union barrels
-Double strength English Pale Ale (20.3% of final blend)
OG=25.0P FG=5.1P IBU=30 Color=16 / A Double version of our flagship created by Ali Razi

Parabola (13% ABV) – Aged in Bourbon barrels
-Russian Imperial Oatmeal Stout (10.8% of final blend)
OG=31P FG=8.5P IBU=80 Color=Black / Hopped with Simcoe, Bravo, Styrian Golding and East Kent Golding

PNC (13.0% ABV) – Aged in Tequila barrels 
-American Strong Buckwheat Stout (8.1% of final blend)
OG = 25P FG = 5.0P IBU = 80 Color = 100 / Brewed with Buckwheat

Helldorado (11.5% ABV) – Aged in Bourbon Barrels and Brandy barrels
-Blonde Barley Wine (5.4% of final blend)
OG=24.7P FG=4.5P IBU=24 Color = 8 / Brewed with buckwheat honey & 100% El Dorado hops

Bravo (13.4% ABV) – Aged in Bourbon and Brandy barrels
-Imperial Brown Ale (5.4% of final blend)
OG=26.5 FG=7.7 IBU=35 Color=32 / Hopped with 100% US grown Fuggles

Wookey Jack (8.3% ABV)- 100% Fresh, Dank & Hoppy 100% Stainless Steel
-Black Rye India Pale Ale (4.5% of final blend)
OG= 18P FG = 3.0P IBU = 80 Color =black / Extremely hoppy double dry hopped BIPA

As a finished beer, XVI takes us back to some of the wonderful dark notes (the black keys) that I remember from the original 10 blending. XVI is 42% stout with Velvet Merkin, Parabola and “PNC” working together as three roasty toasty friends that create rich cacao, chocolate and mocha flavors together. “PNC” also introduces tequila barrels into our blend for the first time and brings some interesting south of the boarder spirit notes to the mix – a welcome twist. Helldorado, with flavors of lavender honey liqueur was again a favorite of the winemakers and made the cut adding some flowery notes. DDBA continues to deliver its signature American toasted oak, English caramel toffee and light leather nuances. DDBA was also release on its own in 2012 and is now established as a solid annual brew. Stickee Monkee is fast becoming one of our favorite pieces with its rich maple syrup, spicy cinnamon, and ripe fig flavors which has developed into a bolder cousin of perennial blend component Bravo who carries barrel character and bourbon notes like no other. The additional twist this year is Wookey Jack, Black Rye IPA with its wily citrusy hop notes and spicy rye backbone. The finished blend is unfiltered and unfined, so there will be a small amount of sediment in the bottom of the bottle. XVI is best enjoyed poured carefully into a half filled brandy snifter or red wine glass. Allow it to warm to 55F to fully enjoy the pleasing and complex aromas. It takes a while, but as this beer sits and breathes in the glass, more rich dusty chocolate, stone fruit and crème brulee character is reveled as the rich spirit characters fade – so take your time. If you wait to open your bottle later, store it in a cool dark place. I suspect that this beer will age well and change favorably for years to come. It was an absolute pleasure in the making and I truly hope you enjoy our Seventh oak-aged blend! The journey continues and its just as fun and exciting now as it was back in 1996. Thank you so much for spending a little time with us!

Did you catch all that?? okay good. Now let’s go explore this briny deep. Lets start with the Event Horizon, A.K.A Aromas. Smells like coconut, coffee, Frappucino, bourbon, caramel, vanilla, chocolate, whiskey, bubble gum, bananas, plums, Key Lime pie, hazelnut and agave. I have had agave iced tea (Agave Lechugilla from Guadalajara, Mexico) and tequila. I have also had other Tequila Barrel Aged beers, so I will be looking for these things in the flavors. Right off the bat, you are bombarded by flavors, but stay close, the journey gets rough… Coconut, vanilla, toasted bread, milk and dark chocolate, coffee, raisin, plums, cherries, pecan pie, bananas (like the chunky munky icecream), hazelnut, walnuts, almonds, burnt sugar, nutmeg, capirotada (Mexican pastry with nuts and raisins, sometimes with leche nestle [sweetened condensed milk]) and Danish cookies. As the beer got warmer, it stayed primarily on the banana and pecan pie flavors where at first it had the coffee, whipped cream, cherry and chocolate, more danish cookies, peach, mango, Reese’s dipped in strawberry and blueberry and spread on a French Crêpe with maple. The Coconut, vanilla, bourbon lingers all around. There are flavors of vanilla and cinnamon with pecan pie notes and agave is what stays in the after taste. Maybe the agave was overwhelmed by the other flavors but it sure comes out to shine in the sweet after taste. As the glass goes on (mind you, This is still the first 8 oz glass, it has been more than 30 minutes of waiting and the beer just keeps….EVOLVING. I am semi buzzed at this point so like I was saying earlier, I may not find the truth still…or the treasure of all the flavors presented in the complexity of this beer. My mouth is left with sorrow because the beer evolved into this sweet pastry my mom used to make with Eggs and Leche Nestle 😦 . Now that was true deliciousness . Crusty, oily, super sweet, creamy…. I cannot say anymore. This is a supreme dessert beer. Only reason it did not get a 6 is because I could not find everything and well, When a beer like Black Tuesday, Chocolate Rain, White Chocolate, Sexual Chocolate or even Choklat tell you…this is pure liquid bliss, then you better listen. This beer was way better than last years beer. I will be buying another bottler soon enough. Maybe the aging/evolution process will take it to a 6 or more…who knows :O …Why are you still reading this…. GO FIND THIS GOLD NOW!!!

Monkfish by Fish Brewing

Rating: 3.9/5

Monkfish by Fish Brewing is a 9%ABV Belgian Style Tripel Ale. It is not the usual sweeter of the Tripels. This one has some bitter kick to it.

Description:

A cracking fine example of the classic style, Monkfish Belgian Style Tripel Ale is the color of nectar, with a sweet malty flavor and subtle hop aroma. Mingling in its character, fruity and spicy esters impart a heavenly complexity to this medium-bodied delight. Brewed using Pale malt, Honey malt, aromatic malt, Belgian candy sugar, Styrian Golding hops and, of course, Belgian Abbey yeast, Monkfish stands firmly in the Belgian triple tradition. And remember: Whereas triple ale is the soul of the Belgian favorite, Carbonnade a la Flamande, this classic stew is made all the better by two bottles of Monkfish—one for the pot, the other for your glass.

So tripel is stronger in terms of bitterness and is more like a heavy barley wine hybrid. The alcohol is only somewhat masked in this beer. It is not a bad beer at all it is pretty interesting really. There is some caramel dulce de leche bread notes with dark raisins in there but also some pine and grass with some sweet pinnaple. It reminds me of a harsher La Trappe Quad made into a Barley wine. Some lemon zest and graham cracker. Some apple cinnamon, wood/oak notes, maple pancakes and jelly, and crème. It is a different beer at that. Just a blend of Belgian and Barley make an interesting combination. This is certainly worth trying 🙂

Double Bastard Ale aged in Bourbon Barrels by Stone

Rating: 5/5

Double Bastard Ale aged in Bourbon Barrels by Stone is their 2009, Quingenti Millilitre, 11.5% ABV Hell of a vintage American Strong Ale…. Damn that’s a Sentence full. Even so is the description:

Take the famously lacerative muther of an ale, double bastard, age it in bourbon barrels for a couple of years and what do you get? 1) Lucky if you get any at all. 2) Lighter in the wallet as we’re not going to age it on our dime. 3) Envy and heart ache: You’ll have to deal with the envious actions and reactions of those you previously thought of as supportive friends and you’ll have to endure the heartache of knowing that basking in the glow of this ale will be fleeting at best – an all-too-brief respite from the harsh, unforgiving reality that is life – and then gone. So, you’d better be damn sure that now is the right time to open this …. but you’ll never know if you don’t – Greg Koch

Damn it Greg :(…why you gotta be such a bastard…LOL…well at least I hope this review helps friends try this and find out what its about. Good thing I still like to recommend and at times share some good beers with my friends and good people :). I was able to find this by mere luck at some random liquor shop…aging for sure…Upon opening this one it shot out in a raging inferno of fragrance. Oak Bourbon, sweet sugar, caramels, dates, raisins…damn. Flavors are of the double bastard with the bourbon. Caramel, vanilla, bourbon, raisins, barley wine. The piney, grassy aggressive hops linger at the back with an over all buttered up toast bread after taste. It feels like I just had a nice buttery toast breakfast. Man… this seems that way. Being a fan of the Regular Arrogant Bastard and the Double Bastard, it was worth the again and worth the find. I really, really, REALLY HOPE stone releases this again. It’s not even too aggressive bastard. It is like the bastard became classy and sitting by the fire smoking a pipe…LOL…damn good beer. Can’t finish the entire thing…saving it for later….the alcohol..well…what alcohol?? There is no alcohol hardly.

Tequila Barrel Aged Ale by Cerveceria Cucapá of Mexicali

Rating: 5/5

Tequila Barrel Aged Ale at 10% ABV by Cerveceria Cucapá of Mexicali is the world’s first Tequila Barrel Aged Beer in the world. It is a Barley wine that is aged in Tequila barrels made with blue agave from the mountains of my parents home town in Jalisco Mexico. I have had several barrel aged beers like those of Bourbon, Rum, Whiskey, Brandy and Scotch. But to try this is an actual honor. First whiff of this beer was just awesome. Smells sweet and strong. The taste and texture almost reminds me of the Dark Lord Imperial Stout with its buttery and velvety feel but not as thick or as strong. I have tried agave juice by itself and Tequila as well so I am able to tell that the agave is there but the alcohol is masked by other flavors. The notes of Tequila blend well with the caramel and vanilla maple of the Barley wine. There are some dark fruits like plum, grape as well as a toasty bread after taste. The audience for this beer is kinda hard unless you enjoy good tequila and also good Barley wines. Hell, even people that enjoy barrel aged beers would love this one. There are several not so known craft breweries in Mexico that unfortunately a lot of the conglomerates like the ones here in the U.S have hidden from the public. Craft brewing in itself is a growing phenomenon and maybe some day a lot of people will be able to enjoy great beers in Mexico as they do in the U.S. :). Remember, just because and ad tells you what is cool, don’t fall for it. Make your own mind, experiment and come up with your own conclusion about what to drink…