Sunday, November 27, 2005

Blue Ice Beer

A new tradition seems to have begun, one that I fully endorse and support. The tradition of giving me the present of beer, whether it is for a gift giving occasion, or after returning from a trip to a far off place. In this case, Angela and Kal returned from there honeymoon in Thailand with a bottle of Blue Ice for me to enjoy.

Brewery – San Miguel in Pathum Thani, Thailand
Style – European Strong Lager
ABV – 6.4%
Serving Type – 330ml bottle

I must admit that I'm a little nervous about trying this beer. Not only does the name remind me of the blocks of frozen sewage that sometimes leak out of airplanes and freeze, but it also ranks as a '0' on Ratebeer.

The story of the San Miguel Corporation begins way back in the 16th century when the Philippine Islands became a Spanish colony. Spanish monks that came over brought their Knowledge and traditional methods of brewing with them. The monks lived in Manila, specifically a district called “San Miguel”. The first official brewery to be opened in Southeast Asia was “La Fabrica de Cerveza de San Miguel” in 1890 by Don Enrique Maria Barretto de Ycaza. In 1913, La Fabrica became a corporation and began exporting beer to Guam, Hong Kong, and Shanghai. During their first year of production they produced about 47,000 cases of beer. Today, the San Miguel Beer Division (SMBD) has the capacity to produce 325 million cases in 320 ml bottles.

That’s right the company has been growing and diversifying until the original brew is just a small sub-division of the total corporation. In fact San Miguel Corporation is Southeast Asia's largest publicly listed food, beverage, and packaging company. The company has over 100 facilities in the Philippines, Southeast Asia, China, and Australia. The SMBD also brews Miller Genuine Draft, Lowenbrau, and Carlsberg beers under license. Blue Ice beer was introduced to Thailand in the autumn of 2004 (but has been being consumed in the Philippines since 1995), along with another beer called Red Horse, to increase market share in the area. Apparently having 90% of the Philippine market just wasn’t enough.

Glass – “Beer” Pint GlassAroma – I can immediacy pick out the use of European hops. Back in the days when I was a novice beer drinker (who was use to domestic beers and hops) I would clump this aroma in with Skunked beer. Nowadays, however, I know it’s just the hops combined with the brewing process. There is almost no malt aroma, but I can pick out a light corn smell.

Appearance – It pours with a big frothy almost soapy looking white crown that dissipates quickly. There is virtually no lacing. The beer has a light yellow Hue.

Flavor – There is a light sweetness and very little hop flavor. In my first sip I though I got a hint of sourness, but in the next sip it was gone. As with the aroma, I could also pick out some corn flavor. Unfortunately, the antiseptic/medicinal aftertaste killed this beer for me. I just lingered getting worse with each sip until I couldn’t drink it anymore.

Mouthfeel – It has a water mouthfeel with virtually no carbonation. I was really expecting a lot more body with and alcohol content of 6.4%. There was some alcohol evaporation, but it seemed to leave a film in my mouth.

Final Thoughts – At first I was thinking that this beer isn’t so bad, a standard European lager with a light body and not much complexity or flavor, but still good and drinkable. But, then that horrible aftertaste reared its ugly head. The medicinal/band-aid flavor is caused by phenols and is called a Phenolic flavor. There are several reasons for this; most of them have to do with chlorine in the water. However, because it was only in the aftertaste I’m betting that if the beer was fresh there wouldn’t be time for the phenols to activate. While was sadly disappointed by this beer, I hope it don’t discourage anyone else from bringing me a new beer to try. Since I’ll need to taste this beer again when it is fresh, I’ll just have to take a trip to Thailand myselft. One last thing…Congratulations Angela and Kal!!!!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005


Just a random choice I pulled off the shelf. It’s named after the mountain that is famous for the catastrophic eruption in 79 A.D. that buried the towns of Herculaneum and Pompeii.

Brewery – Full Sail Brewing Co. in Hood River, OR
Style – Belgian Strong Pale Ale
ABV – 8.5%
Serving Type – 22 oz. (bomber) bottle

Is this my first review of an Oregon beer? I do believe it is…weird. Anyway, I guess this brewery is as good as any to get the ball rolling.

It isn’t hard to figure out were the name of the brewery comes from when you consider the fact that Hood River is the self proclaimed “Wind surfing capital of the world.”
I have to admit that when driving through the Columbia River Gorge during the summer it’s always worth checking out the “boardheads”. This kiteboarding thing looks pretty cool too…but I digress.

The brewery started out as a Diamond fruit cannery that was left abandoned for 15 years before it was converted in 1987. Most of that year was spent installing state-of-the-art brewing equipment (as opposed to the converted dairy equipment popular at the time). They started brewing in September, and a year later churned out 287 barrels. The next year they decided to start bottling. To this end they got a manual, red, Italian bottling line that they affectionately referred to as “Mimi”. The hops and barley come from local farms, and the water is supplied by a Mt. Hood spring. In 1999 Full Sail became an independent, employee-owned company. This is what the “Brewforce of 47” that is written on the bottle is referring too.

This beer is from their "Brewmaster Reserve" line. This idea started back in 2000 as a way of allowing brewmaster John Harris to try out different or experimental ideas. Some of them have turn into regular seasonal beers (such as Old Boardhead), others were available for a couple of months then disappeared forever.

Glass – 8.4 oz (250 ml) Delirium Tremens Tuilp Triple Ale glass

Aroma – It does not smell as complex as some of the other Belgians I’ve had. There is a delicate malty, and slightly grainy aroma. The hops seem to contribute some moderate grapefruit citrus and spicy smells. There is also the traditional Belgian yeast smells of sweetness and earthiness.

Appearance – Small creamy off-whit head that mostly diminishes quickly leaving some fair lacing. The body is clear and sparking with a pale orange hue.

Flavor – This beer starts with a moderate sweetness and a light bitterness. There are fruity flavors that remind me of apples and plumbs. In the finish the balance seems to be reversed. It finishes wet with a moderate lingering bitterness and light sweet. There is also a hint of vanilla.

Mouthfeel – I really enjoy feel of the alcohol evaporating off my tongue as I breathe in. It has a light to medium body with an almost creamy texture and soft carbonation. It also has a light astringent finish.

Final Thoughts – All the aromas and flavors are there, but they seem more “muted” compared to other Belgian ales. On the bright side, because they it is not so complex and still tasty, it is a good beer to drink when there is other stuff going on. The flavors that are easy to pick out are very enjoyable, and the subtle flavors are just ok. This means that by not giving your total concentration on the beer, you're not really missing out on anything.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Punkin’ Ale

'Tis the season for Pumpkin beers, so I thought I would try this one right after the Night Owl Pumpkin Ale in order to better compare them.

Brewery - Dogfish Head in Milton, DE
Style – Pumpkin Ale
ABV – 7.0%
IBUs - 24
Serving Type - 12 oz. bottle

Since this is a comparison tasting, I don’t want talk to much about Dogfish Head. But don’t worry, I’m a big fan of the brewery so the next time I taste one I’ll get a little more into it. Just to wet your appetite, however, here is a quote from Michael Jackson calling Dogfish Head "America's most interesting and adventurous small brewery." This particular beer is available September 1st every year, and is named after the annual Punkin' Chunkin Festival held near Lewes, Delaware the weekend after Halloween.

Glass – Hogwarts pint glass

Aroma – The overall aroma is very slight. Once again spices dominate the aroma; nutmeg and allspice in particular. The hops impart a slightly earthy smell.

Appearance – This is a very clear amber/orange-ish beer. Thin, fizzy head that dissipates quickly.

Flavor – The allspice hits the back of my tongue sharply. Very little in the way of maltyness or hop bitterness. There is a little sweetness that reminds me of brown sugar. It finished clean with a light lingering spiciness.

Mouthfeel – Medium body, moderate carbonation.

Final Thoughts – I should have known better than to taste this AFTER the Night Owl. It probably is a much better beer than what I was able to get out of it, but comparing the two side by side I’ve got to say that this beer is not nearly as complex and much more subtle in its flavors. It is however, cleaner and crisper tasting. And for all you fans of getting drunk, it has more alcohol.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Night Owl Pumpkin Ale

I knew from the moment I heard of this beer that I would drink it. Not only is it brewed by one of my all time favorite brewers (Dick Cantwell), but I saw a picture of the release party for the beer in Seattle where they were putting a tap in the bottom of a giant pumpkin they had hollowed out and conditioned the beer in. I was too much of a dumb-ass to download the pic before they changed the website.

Brewery - Elysian Brewing Company in Seattle, WA
Style - Popularly known as just a "Pumpkin Beer". However the BJCP would classify it as a category 21A - Spice/Herb/Vegetable Beer.
ABV - 6.1% (OG 1.060)
Grains - Pale, Munich and Crystal malts. They also added green and roasted pumpkin seeds, pumpkin meat in the mash, boil and fermenter. A total of 150 lbs of pumpkin meat was used in each batch.
Hops - Horizon hops
Spiced with - Nutmeg, Clove, Cinnamon, Ginger, and Allspice
Serving Type - 22 oz. (bomber) bottle

Elysian is defined by Merriam-Webser as "of or relating to Elysium". To be fare it also lists "Blissful" and "Delightful" as synonyms. But Elysium is defined as "the abode of the blessed after death in classical mythology" or "Paradise". That's basically how I feel about the Elysian Brewpub. It's blissfully delightful and, if I'm a very good boy, it's where I want to end up when I die. And drinking their beer is just like a little trip to paradise.

The brewery was started in 1996 by Dick Cantwell, Joe Bisacca, and Dave Buhler with the idea of creating a large brewpub, but with a wider than normal distribution area. From ’97 to 2000 they ran a small brewpub in downtown Seattle that gave them the flexibility to experiment with unique specialty beers. Accroding to the website, they have “brewed over 60 different beers, in large batches and small, including 6 always-flowing standards, and 8 seasonal brews. The Night Owl Pumpkin Ale is a new brew for Elysian, but it is basically a derivation of last years Millennium Great Pumpkin Ale.

Glass – Hogwarts pint glass

Aroma – The nose is all about the spices. The cinnamon and allspices stand out, but I can also pick out the nutmeg and ginger. There is also some maltyness to it, and I think some brown sugar might be in there somewhere (but that is probably the spice combination).

Appearance – It has a dark orange hue, not unlike a translucent pumpkin might. It pours with a thin head that dissipates quickly. There is very little in the way of laceing, but what there is is persistent. Flavor – There is a lot of maltyness balanced against the spiciness. On the sides of my tounge I can taste the nutmeg and allspice. There is also some clove in there. All these flavors combine nicely to do a good impersonation of a slightly bitter pumpkin pie. It finishes dry, with a lingering spiciness and a little alcohol warming.

Mouthfeel – It’s got a medium body, with very little carbonation.

Final Thoughts – I’ve had a couple of pumpkin beers in my time, and this is by far the best. I always expect more pumpkin-y-ness than I should from these beers, but this one actually resembled a pumpkin pie…sort of. Eventually, I’ll just learn to stop comparing these beers to food and just treat them as a stand alone entity.

the "other" blog

I started this blog over at Friendster, but I wanted to make sure that if (for some strange reason) someone who was wasn't a member wanted to leave some feedback they could. Besides, two of my entries disappeared for awhile and I have much more flexibility here. To checkout past posts go to:, or click on the name of the beer:

Grotten Brown
Black 47 Stout
Angkor Beer
Unibroue Edition 2005
Buzzards Bay Stock Ale
Nuevo Noir Ale