Fundamental Observation & Stickee Monkee

After posting a flurry of beer reviews early this fall, it’s been nearly two months since my last one.  Here are two beers for your consideration this holiday season. Both of these are Special Release beers, so don’t wait too long if you think you might enjoy them.  Please read responsibly!

Fundamental Observation (2018): Bottle Logic Brewing.  Anaheim, CA.  13.2% ABV.
This is a big Imperial Stout, aged with Madagascar Vanilla beans in a blend of four different brands of bourbon barrels.

Fundamental Observation
November 18, 2018

Fundamental Observation pours cloudy black with a ¼” cocoa brown head that immediately fades to a paper-thin ring around the perimeter.  The aroma is SWEET – vanilla, chocolate, brown sugar, caramel and oak.  The flavor is also sweet, featuring vanilla, chocolate, bourbon, dark fruit, raisin, figs, and brown sugar.  The vanilla is very pronounced on the back end, but fades to a nice lingering chocolate and bourbon aftertaste.

This is definitely a sweet one.  The vanilla is prevalent, but not overwhelming or unpleasant.  It tends to balance out the dark grainy bitterness, which would probably be considerable.  Where is the 13.2% alcohol?  It’s not noticeable in the aroma or flavor, but of course my brain detected it in the form of a massive buzz for the afternoon.

As Fundamental Observation warms, the bourbon becomes quite noticeable in the aroma, along with more intense notes of maple, toffee, and brown sugar.  The underlying flavors – chocolate, dark fruit, raisin, brown sugar, and tobacco – deepen, increasing the complexity of this brew.  Alcohol is now noted in the aroma and taste.  The bourbon and vanilla flavors increase late on the palate and in the aftertaste.

The finishing gravity must be fairly high in this beer, as it has a HUGE thick, creamy, silky smooth mouth feel.  It is extremely full bodied with a low carbonation level.  The thick body and mouth feel were my first impressions, even before the intense flavors were noted.

Fundamental Observation is an amazing beer.  It is very reminiscent of Black Tuesday, but without the alcohol “slap-in-the-face.”

Note: Someone brought a bottle of Fundamental Observation and gave it to me at our Beer Appreciation party in September (see Mac’s Brew News, September 17, 2018, for additional information about the Beer Appreciation party).  Unfortunately I don’t remember who brought it.  Whoever gave this to me went WAY beyond thoughtful, and I need to say thank you to that brilliant person.  After I drank the gift bottle (November 18, 2018), I saw Fundamental Observation the next day at Total Wine and bought another.  Truly, this is one of the WORLD’S GREAT BEERS!

Stickee Monkee (2018): Firestone Walker Brewing.  Paso Robles, CA.  11.4% ABV.
According to Firestone Walker, Stickee Monkee is a “Central Coast Quad”.  So what is that?  It’s Firestone Walker’s take on the Belgian Quad style, brewed with Belgian candi sugar, then aged for over a year in bourbon barrels.

Stickee Monkee
November 25, 2018

Stickee Monkee pours dark brown with a very slight medium tan head that immediately fades away (leaving not even a slight ring). The aroma is brown sugar, toffee, and vanilla.  The flavor is sweet, dark fruit, figs, raisins and brown sugar, with nuances of chocolate and coffee.  No alcohol flavors (or aromas) are noted.  The aftertaste, which lingers forever, is vanilla and toffee, with slight notes of tobacco in the late aftertaste.  As Stickee Monkee warms, I note a bit more chocolate, along with some alcohol in the flavor and aroma.

This beer features a thick, heavy body, with a creamy smooth mouth feel.  The carbonation level is very low.

Stickee Monkee is really good beer.  I’m not a big fan of the Belgian style, but this one is different.  I don’t know if it was fermented with Belgian yeast, but I suspect not, as I did not note any of the typical Belgian spiciness.  I think Firestone Walker calls this a Quad because of the Belgian candi sugar among the ingredients.

I highly recommend these beers.  However, both are limited/special releases, so if you’re interested, you really need to look for them right away.  I purchased both of these last week at Total Wine – $23.99 for a 500 ml bomber of Fundamental Observation, and $11.99 for a 12 oz. bottle of Stickee Monkee – but they had limited amounts of both.

There you have it, beer lovers.  Now go and reward yourself with a couple of World Class beers.  Caveat: Fizzy yellow beer drinkers and cheapskates, don’t bother; these aren’t for you.

By the way, this is my 100th post on Macsbrew.com.  I hope you enjoy reading about beer and beer-related subjects.  [How dumb is that?  Of course you do, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this.]  Stay tuned for the next few years and we’ll see if I can make it to 200.  Special thanks to Joel Matulich, who set up this blog for me as a birthday present in 2012. You’re the bomb, Joel!

Sláinte!

8 Buffalo, Mocha Machine, Consecration & 7Th Anniversary

Have you been wondering what to spend your beer money on? I’ve got notes on lots of beer I’ve tasted in the last several months, but haven’t had time to post any reviews. Here are a few examples that any true connoisseur should find tasty and worthy. Please read responsibly!

8 Buffalo: Beachwood Brewing, Long Beach CA. 12% ABV
This beer is a bourbon barrel aged Imperial Russian Stout. It’s released seasonally, and should be available soon (this review is based upon a bottle I aged at Mac’s for several months). It is available in 22 oz. bombers.

8 Buffalo pours pitch black with a ¼” cocoa head that immediately fades to a thin ring. The aroma is vanilla, oak, and bourbon with chocolate notes. The flavor is strong chocolate, roasty, sweet, vanilla and fades to toffee and bitter cocoa. There is a lingering bittersweet chocolate in the aftertaste.

This stout has a thick mouth feel and heavy body with a low carbonation level. The alcohol, although 12%, is not noticeable in the flavor, but immediately produces a nice warming sensation. The effects are also felt right away.

As this beer warms, the foam ring around the perimeter increases to about ¼” and thin film develops across the top. The aroma becomes a bit sweeter, and the alcohol becomes slightly noticeable. The flavor develops a bit more bitter chocolate with less vanilla. The bourbon barrel aging becomes less noticeable and the aftertaste sweetens.

This is an excellent beer – very complex. I can highly recommend this one to those who appreciate Imperial Stouts and/or bourbon barrel aged ales.C

Mocha Machine: Beachwood Brewing, Long Beach, CA. 9.2% ABV.
This is Beachwood’s Imperial Porter with coffee and chocolate. This is brewed on a rotating basis, so it’s not always available, yet is not too hard to find. I sampled this from a 22 oz. bomber.

Mocha Machine pours black with a ¼” tan head that lasts forever. The aroma is MOCHA – sweet, coffee, vanilla. The flavor is also mocha, semi-sweet coffee, chocolate and vanilla. It fades to a pleasant coffee aftertaste that lingers.

No hoppiness or bitterness is detected, but it’s not overly sweet or out of balance. The coffee is front and center, but is not unpleasant or bitter. It’s very good. I would describe it like an iced coffee, slightly sweetened. Very well done, Beachwood!

Consecration: Russian River Brewing, Santa Rosa, CA. 10% ABV.
I’ve never had anything bad from Russian River Brewing. This is no exception. Consecration is a sour dark ale aged in Cabernet Sauvignon barrels with black currants added.

Consecration pours a clear mahogany brown with a fizzy cream-colored head that fades immediately. It is very highly carbonated (it’s bottle conditioned in a Belgian style bottle with cork and wire cage). Only a slight ring persists around the perimeter during the session.

The aroma is TART, tart and more tart – cherries with some sweet notes. The flavor is sweet black cherry for a brief moment, then a tart attack. Red wine, currents and plum flavors are noted. Did I mention that it’s sour? There’s no way you’re going to miss the brettanomyces, lactobacillus, and pediococcus added to the aging barrel. The aftertaste is tartness with some wine and a dry finish.

The carbonation level is high on the tongue, and Consecration has a medium to light body. The alcohol is not at all noted in the flavor, but the effect sure is noticeable. After 1/3 of a glass, it kicks in with a nice warming buzz.

I had this on tap at Russian River, and have had it more than once from a 12 oz. bottle. Consecration is excellent, and I highly recommend it. Caveat: if you don’t like sour beers, you won’t like this one, so don’t waste your money or torture yourself – leave it for those who appreciate the style.

7TH Anniversary: Black Market Brewing, Temecula, CA. 12.3% ABV.
As the name states, this is Black Market’s 7th anniversary release. It’s an Imperial Stout, aged in bourbon barrels and blended. I’ve had this bottle for a while, so I presume the 8th anniversary version will be released soon (if it’s not already available).

7TH Anniversary pours dark brown with a ½” tan head that fades after about a minute to a very substantial ring. The aroma is sweet, vanilla, oak, chocolate, nuts, brown sugar and some alcohol. The flavor is chocolate, vanilla, dark fruit, coconut and sweet cherry. It’s quite sweet, and the high alcohol content is well hidden.

The aftertaste is vanilla, coconut and oak – in other words, bourbon barrel. The throat warms after swallowing, and while enjoying the strong vanilla and milk chocolate aftertaste. The body is very viscous, thick, heavy and velvety smooth.

This is a dessert beer. Obviously with this much alcohol, it’s sipped (not guzzled). As it warms, the aroma becomes sweeter and more brown sugar is noted. Some very pleasant bitterness creeps in to the flavor at the back of the palate and the aftertaste is not quite as sweet.

7TH Anniversary is a very good beer. I currently have another bottle (a 22 oz. bomber) aging in the cellar and will consume it sometime in the future – it should age very nicely.

Well, there you have it; three dark beers (two imperial stouts and one imperial porter) and a sour for your (reading) consumption. I can highly recommend all four of these beers, but Consecration is the most unique of the bunch. If you like sour beers, there is no reason why you wouldn’t love it. If you don’t like sour beers, or haven’t really tried them, this would be a good one to cut your teeth on – start with a really good example of the style and it might just win you over right away. I should warn you, however, fizzy yellow beer drinkers need to stay away from these. They are much too complex for your tastes. Leave these beers to the big boys!

Sláinte!

Vendome Beer Panel – March 30, 2017

The Vendome Beer Panel sampled a variety of beers from five different breweries on Thursday March 30, 2017. If these reviews intrigue you or pique your interest, head over to Vendome Wine and Spirits in Fullerton and use my code, “VEN10C” to get a 10% discount off the price.

The rating system:
0 – I wouldn’t offer this beer to my worst enemy.
1 – I wouldn’t pay for this beer, but it’s alrigjht.
2 – Tasty, but easily forgettable.
3 – I’ve had better, I’ve had worse.
4 – I can see myself buying this beer and ordering seconds.
5 – Just hook up the beer straight to my veins.

GT Gose: Anderson Valley Brewing, Boonville, CA. 4.2% ABV. Rating – 2
This beer pours a clear straw yellow with a ½” white head that persists throughout the session. The aroma is tart, citrus, with just a touch of sulfur. The flavor follows the nose – citrus (mainly lime) and tart. Think of Sprite, but a little tart.   These flavors fade to a very slight malty aftertaste. GT Gose is well carbonated and light bodied.

I gave GT Gose a “2” rating because I just don’t care much for the style. This beer would be good on a hot summer day – it’s light and refreshing, low in alcohol and easy to drink. I gravitate to dark beers, big beers and IPAs. This was too much like drinking Sprite. (Note: GT Gose is Anderson Valley’s take on the classic cocktail, Gin & Tonic. With that in mind, I would say they’ve done a pretty good job, as it’s refreshing like a gin and tonic and easy to drink.)

Vanilla Porter: Latitude 33 Brewing, Vista, CA. 6.5% ABV   35 IBU. Rating – 3
This porter pours black with a ½” tan head of thick foam. The aroma is vanilla with hints of caramel. The flavor is vanilla and bitter chocolate with some grainy bitterness. The aftertaste is a lingering vanilla and bitterness that lingers. Vanilla Porter has medium carbonation, body and mouth feel. Although vanilla leads the flavor charge, it is not overwhelming nor does it taste imitation.

I like Vanilla Porter; it’s good beer. However, it does not stand out from the crowd. It’s just another good porter.

Broken Skull IPA: El Segundo Brewing, El Segundo, CA. 6.7% ABV   67 IBU. Rating – 3
Broken Skull pours light golden with a light cream-colored head that lasts throughout the session. The aroma is citrus and grapefruit with some mango. The flavor is bittersweet, almost like a DIPA. It’s not real bitter – it has a nice malty foundation that hides the 67 IBU. The hoppy character is subdued citrus and grapefruit. The aftertaste is melon/mango, and bittersweet. This IPA is well carbonated with medium body.

Broken Skull IPA is good beer, but it’s pretty mellow; I would categorize it as an East Coast style IPA (more balanced, malty, not so hoppy). It’s an easy drinking IPA, but I think it would benefit from additional dry hopping (disclaimer: I am a hophead; keep that in mind when considering my comments).

Rocco Red: Bootlegger’s Brewing, Fullerton, CA. 7.1% ABV   37 IBU. Rating – 4
This American Red ale pours dark amber with a creamy beige head. The aroma is malty, slightly sweet with just a note of Cascade hops. The flavor is malty, earthy, slightly sweet, but well balanced with some hop bitterness. The malty sweetness lingers in the aftertaste. This red ale has low-medium carbonation and medium body.

Rocco Red is a well-balanced American Red/Amber Ale brewed right here in Fullerton. Well done, Bootlegger’s!

Imperial Stout: Mother Earth Brew Co., Vista, CA 8.1% ABV. Rating – 3
This stout pours black with a ¼” light tan head. The aroma is chocolate, malty and sweet. The flavor follows the aroma – chocolate, with raisin and dark fruit, sweet, with slight notes of tobacco. This fades to sweet prunes. Imperial Stout features low-medium carbonation with medium body and a smooth mouth feel.

Mother Earth’s Imperial Stout is good, but not great. I would drink it again, but it wouldn’t be my first choice for the style. I expect a little heavier body with a lingering bitter chocolate and coffee flavor/aftertaste in an imperial stout.

Well, that’s it for this edition of Vendome Beer Panel. In my opinion, the best of these five is Rocco Red from Bootlegger’s Brewing. I gave GT Gose a low rating because it’s not a beer style that interests me; however, it’s good within the style category and is definitely refreshing. The other three are good, but not outstanding. If you’re interested in any of these beers, you can buy them at Vendome Wine and Spirits in Fullerton. Be sure to use my discount code “VEN10C” to get a 10% discount off the purchase price. Cheers!

Monsters’ Park & Xocoveza Charred

francis2_nobkgrd

It’s that time of the year when dark beers are plentiful and satisfying.  Here are reviews of two more dark beauties, both loaded with flavor and character.  Please read responsibly.

Monsters’ Park: Modern Times Beer, San Diego, CA.  12% ABV.
Modern Times Beer in San Diego makes one of my favorite coffee stouts, Black House.  Monsters’ Park is their Imperial Stout, and it is definitely a monster compared to Black House.  The description on the label states, “Monsters’ Park is a hulking, cantankerous imperial stout sporting a brawny malt bill and a dry, lingering finish.”

Monsters’ Park pours black with a 3/4″ cocoa colored head that faded rapidly but left a nice ring around the top edge that remained throughout the entire session.  The aroma is semi-sweet dark chocolate.  The flavor is sweet coffee with a little chocolate.  The chocolate lingers on the tongue, then fades to a slight sweetness, typical of imperial stouts.  This sweetness, however, is well balanced with hops.

The body and mouthfeel is thick, but the CO2 peel helps to mitigate the thickness just a bit.  There is a nice lingering semi-sweet chocolate note in the aftertaste.  Although it’s 12% ABV, it is not the least bit boozy or hot.  In fact, it is a deceptively smooth, easy drinking stout; but watch out, it will kick your butt!  As it warms, the alcohol aroma appears, but it’s not overwhelming.  At 60° F or above, there is more coffee, more chocolate, and more booze – in other words, more flavor and aroma.  I recommend you let this one warm up to 55° – 60° before drinking; it’s well worth it!

I sampled Monsters’ Park from a 22 oz. bomber I purchased at Total Wine for $12.99.  It’s worth the price, but I’m not sure it’s still available (I sampled it in November – sorry for the delay in posting the review).

Xocoveza Charred (2015 Series): Stone Brewing, Escondido, CA.  10% ABV.
Have I ever mentioned I like Stone beers?  This is another good one.  Xocoveza Mocha Stout is a Christmas Season beer that Stone releases each year.  It’s a stout described (by Stone) as, “an insanely delicious take on Mexican hot chocolate brewed with cocoa, coffee, chile peppers, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg.”  Xocoveza Charred is the same beer aged for 3 months in bourbon barrels.

Xocoveza Charred is pitch black with a 1/4″ light cocoa colored head that faded very rapidly to a ring around the edge.  The aroma is sweet, vanilla and oak.  The flavor is a little bit of chocolate, and a little coffee.  Vanilla is evident mid palate, but fades to a sweet chocolate, with vanilla notes lingering.  The oak/vanilla notes are very subdued and could stand some extra emphasis.  This beer features a medium body, but would benefit from additional mouth feel.

Although this is a bourbon barrel aged beer, the vanilla and oak flavors are not pronounced enough.  However, those flavors overwhelm the spiciness of the original Xocoveza Mocha Stout, which is a little disappointing.  This iteration looses the cinnamon/nutmeg and pepper notes that are so evident in the original version, which is too bad.  Since the barrel aging cut down on the spiciness of the original, the vanilla/coconut flavors derived from the bourbon barrel need to be more pronounced to compensate for the loss.

Xocoveza Charred is a very good beer, but does not have the flavor intensity of the original Xocoveza Mocha Stout.  Knowing what the original tastes like, I was a little disappointed because the spices are lost to the barrel.  The original is an excellent beer; barrel aging should improve/intensify the flavor and complexity, but in this case it actually detracts.  Too bad; maybe it should be aged in the barrel for a longer period of time.

I sampled this beer from a 500 ML corked bottle, which I received as a gift from my father for Christmas.  Thanks, Dad!

So what about these two beers?  I can recommend both, as they are high quality, flavorful examples.  Monsters’ Park is an excellent Imperial Stout and worth the cost, if it’s still available (I haven’t seen it around lately).  Xocoveza Charred is very good, but not as good as the original underlying base beer, Xocoveza Mocha Stout.  Charred sells for $18.99 for a 500 ML bottle at Total Wine; the original Xocoveza Mocha Stout is $15.99 for a six pack (12 oz. bottles).  Like I said, Xocoveza Charred is very good, but for the money I recommend the original Xocoveza – you won’t be disappointed (unless you like only fizzy yellow beer).

Slainte!