Zombie Dust & Lucille

Hello Beer lovers.  It’s time to learn more about the wide, wide world of beers. Here are a couple of ales that are not widely available on the West Coast, but if you’re travelling and see them, by all means buy them.  Please read responsibly!

Zombie Dust: 3 Floyds Brewing, Munster, Indiana.  6.2% ABV, 50 IBU.
Zombie Dust is a Pale Ale brewed by 3 Floyds Brewing in Indiana.  This beer is very well known and highly sought after, yet it’s difficult to get because it’s not widely distributed (not really available outside of the Midwest). It was rated the 8thbest beer in America in 2018 by the American Homebrewers Association.  I’ve had it on one occasion, which is what generated this review.

Zombie Dust from 3 Floyds Brewing.

There’s a lot of hype and hyperbole surrounding this beer.  Beers that are difficult to come by have a mystique, and they tend to be rated high due to that mystique.  I’m not immune from this phenomenon (see my review of Pliny the Younger in the Macsbrew February 18, 2018 Newsletter for some thoughts on this), so keep that in mind while reading this review.

Zombie Dust pours hazy orange/gold with a ¾” white head that persists for quite awhile.  The aroma is citrus, grapefruit and a bit of orange peel.  The flavor is bitter, grapefruit, pine and apricot. The malt is noticeable in the mouth, although it’s not overly sweet or heavy.  There is a nice lingering bitter apricot aftertaste.

This pale ale is not dry.  As I mentioned, there is a good malt foundation, giving it a slight sweetness (compare to Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, which is much more dry) but no heaviness is noted.  The body is medium with a viscous mouth feel, and the carbonation level is moderate-high. At 50 IBU, this pale ale is actually on the low end of the IPA bitterness scale, but the bitterness is well balanced by the malty sweetness.

Zombie Dust is very good.  It’s definitely one of the better Pale Ales I’ve ever tasted, and I would love to have it again.  That probably won’t happen anytime soon as I have no plans to travel to Indiana in the near future.

Lucille IPA: Georgetown Brewing, Seattle, Washington.  7.2% ABV, 85 IBU.
This IPA pours a hazy, deep golden-yellow color with a white 1” foamy head that remains for a couple of minutes.  The aroma is citrus, apricot and grapefruit.  The flavor is bitter grapefruit and pine resin with some tropical fruit notes.  It goes down pretty dry and bitter, with no maltiness noted.  The aftertaste is grapefruit with a lingering bitterness. Lucille has medium body and mouth feel, with a medium carbonation level.

Overall, Lucille is pretty bitter, yet easy to drink. The relatively high alcohol content is well hidden – I didn’t note it in the taste at all – but is very effective on an empty stomach.  This is a nice IPA in the classic Northwest style.

Lucille, by Georgetown Brewing

Neither Zombie Dust nor Lucille are available in Southern California.  So how did I manage to obtain these two worthy beers?  Zombie Dust was given to me by my young brewing friend, Dave Hollandbeck.  His family lives in Indiana and he makes an annual trek there in March to visit his family and score some Dark Lord from 3 Floyds (for more information on Dark Lord and on Dave Hollandbeck, see my review of Dark Lord, posted June 9, 2015). Dave was kind enough to give me a 12 oz. bottle of Zombie Dust, because that’s the kind of thoughtful young man he is. Cheers Dave!

As for Lucille, Kevin McCaffrey gave me a sixer when we met in February 2018 at Russian River Brewing in Santa Rosa, to indulge ourselves with Pliny the Younger.  [Note: The six-pack of Lucille is LONG gone; my notes for this review are from February 28, 2018.]  Kevin is a thoughtful uncle, who pampers his grateful nephew.  Cheers, Kevin!

I strongly recommend both of these beers.  The trouble for you (and for me as well) is finding them.  If you’re wondering why I bother to review beers that are not readily accessible to you beer lovers who follow this blog, the answer is simple – I love great beer, and when I get my hands on it, even though it’s hard to come by, I feel compelled to pass along the experience.  The solution to this problem is easy: get in your car and drive to these locations (or get in your car, drive to the airport and then fly to these destinations). If you’re not willing to do that, then you’ll just have to taste them vicariously through my descriptions in this blog.  As long as I have relatives like Kevin, and friends like Dave, who so generously give me World Class beers from far away locations, I will graciously accept them, drink them, and review them.

Well beer friends, that’s it for now.  But worry not, more reviews are coming soon.

Sláinte!

Bits & Bobs, and Black Imperial IPA

I’ve been telling you that I have lots of notes on beers I have sampled in the last year, but have not taken the time to post the reviews.  Today I start catching you all up on what’s good to drink out there.  Today it’s two beers from Reuben’s Brews in Seattle. Please read responsibly!

Bits & Bobs: Reuben’s Brews, Seattle WA.  7.0% ABV
“Bits and bobs” is a British term that means “bits and pieces”.  In this case, Reuben’s will be releasing this on a seasonal basis, but it will be different each year, based upon the bits and pieces the brewers have learned since the last release.  This is a review of the 2018 version, released in January 2018.  I drank a bomber of this in early March 2018.  Unfortunately I didn’t realize this was a one-off seasonal, so I apologize for the lengthy delay (it almostmakes this review meaningless and obsolete).  It probably wouldn’t have mattered anyway, as this is not available outside of the State of Washington.  Since you can’t get this version any longer, I guess my description is just going to have to satisfy you.

Reuben’s Brews Bits & Bobs. Forgive the wine glass – that was the only thing available at The Gosby House in Pacific Grove.

Bits & Bobs is an IPA.  It pours a crystal clear, pale, yellow color with a ½” white head of foam that fades after about a minute, to a thin covering and a ¼” ring. The aroma is citrus – orange, grapefruit and lemon.

The flavor is bitter grapefruit and lemon, but it’s not overly bitter.  Some malty sweetness makes an appearance late on the palate.  The lingering aftertaste is bitter, but not unpleasant.  It’s clean and dry, very crisp for an ale, with medium-light body and moderate carbonation.  This beer is very drinkable.

Black Imperial IPA: Reuben’s Brews, Seattle WA.  8.1% ABV.
Reuben’s calls their Black IPA a Cascadian Dark Ale (in case you’re not aware of it, Cascadian Dark Ale is another style name for Black IPA). This one pours midnight black with a 1” creamy beige head. The aroma is hoppy, with citrus and chocolate notes.

Reuben’s Brews Cascadian Dark Ale

The dark malts predominate in the flavor over the hops, but just slightly so.  It’s roasty and chocolate with slight peppery notes from the rye malt.  The hops kick in mid palate, with citrus and grapefruit bitterness.  It fades to a mellow combination of roasty and bitter, with a lingering bitterness in the aftertaste.

The body is medium, which was somewhat of a surprise given the creamy thick appearance of the head.  Carbonation level is medium.

This is an Imperial IPA with the typical bittersweet profile, except the sweetness from the malt is quite subdued.  Instead, roastiness mixes with the hoppy bitterness to create that bitter chocolate citrus flavor that is so common in these Cascadian Dark Ales.  This is one of the better ones – very good!

Mac enjoying a Reuben’s Brews Black Imperial IPA in front of the outdoor fireplace at Mac’s Brew Pub, April 27, 2018.

I can highly recommend both of these beers. Bits & Bobs is released annually in in limited quantities in January and February.  Of course it will taste different each year as the recipe is revised yearly.  Black Imperial IPA is released annually in November and December.  Black IPA’s have faded in popularity and are getting hard to find these days (e.g., Stone Sublimely Self Righteous Black IPA was discontinued a couple of years ago; see my review of SSR posted 11-26-2012).  Get this one while you still can.  It won a gold medal at the 2015 World Beer Cup.

Both of these beers (22 oz. bombers) were given to me by my uncle, Kevin McCaffrey, who lives in Seattle (thank you Kevin for your generosity).  See you on February 6, 2019 at Russian River Brewing.  We’ll have Pliny The Younger again, and raise a toast to The Younger, The Elder, and to Mac’s Brew.

Sláinte!

Mac’s Brew News – February 18, 2018

GREETINGS, BEER AFICIONADOS. The holidays are over, and I’ve been on two vacations since the beginning of 2018. Now it’s time to bring you some beer wisdom. Please read responsibly!

I haven’t brewed since October (Lights Out, black IPA). I was too busy with our outdoor fireplace project and then the holidays. In mid-January, we went to Italy and Spain for a couple of weeks, then the first week of February I went to Santa Rosa to score some Pliny the Younger. I’m hoping to brew in the next couple of weeks. I really need to get going because I’m running out of beer at Mac’s (only 4 beers on tap right now, with two taps empty and a third nearly empty).

Ok, so what about Italy and Spain? Sheila and I were on a cruise ship in the Mediterranean, with stops in Italian and Spanish ports of call. We were travelling with Rose, Don and Donna Evans.

Well, the beer scene there leaves much to be desired. There is a well known craft brewery in Northern Italy (Baladin), but we never made it to the north, and I was unable to find Baladin anywhere in Tuscany, Rome, or Southern Italy, including Sicily. The beer was pretty much limited to Peroni and Birra Moretti (both are so-so, uninspiring lagers available stateside; don’t waste your time – I didn’t). Heineken was also widely available. Now if you’re looking for wine, that’s a different story – it’s everywhere, and it’s very good. I much prefer red wine, with it’s more complex and robust flavor, to white, and I certainly had my fill of it in Italy.

On board the ship, they had a great black lager (Köstritzer, 4.8% ABV), a porter (Carnegie Porter by Carlsberg, 5.5% ABV) and a Belgian double amber (Grimbergen Dubbel Ambree, 6.5% ABV), so I was able to have some good beer for part of the trip. My go to beer on board was Köstritzer, but I also drank the Carnegie Porter on occasion. Don (my brother-in-law) and Sheila drank the Grimbergen almost exclusively (it was good, but not my style). Donna stuck with a light colored draft Pilsner (I believe it was Carlsberg). Note: Donna – we gotta coach you up and expand your horizons; there’s a lot of good beer out there waiting for you to sample.

In Spain the beer situation is a little better, but still underwhelming. San Miguel brews some decent beer, but doesn’t offer much variety. In Madrid I drank some Cruzcampo Gran Reserva. It was a good (not great) amber lager that had a little more flavor than a typical pilsner. I had never heard of Cruzcampo, but have since learned it is Spain’s largest beer producer. This Gran Reserva was the best beer I found in Spain, but I don’t plan on looking for it at home.

Mac and Don having a San Miguel and tapas in Madrid. January 26, 2018

Now let’s talk about some real beer. On February 5, 2018, I left home on a pilgrimage to Russian River Brewing in Santa Rosa, California, in order to secure some Pliny the Younger – a triple IPA. This beer is consistently rated among the top five beers in the world. It is brewed once a year and is served on tap only, beginning the first Friday of February and for two weeks thereafter. There are a VERY few locations in Orange County where this wonderful beer is also available during this time, but the waiting lines are prohibitively long, so I have never tried.

If you want to get some PTY at Russian River, plan on going to the brewery during those two weeks in February, and waiting in line for a couple of hours (or up to 6 – 8 hours on the weekend). I went with my father, Bob Waddell, and met my uncle, Kevin McCaffrey (from Seattle, WA), and cousin, Jordan Schiller, at Russian River Brewing.

Mac, Kevin, Bob and Jordan waiting in line at Russian River Brewing. February 7, 2018

Going to Santa Rosa and drinking PTY was a bucket list thing for me, and is something Uncle Kevin and I have been talking about doing for 3 – 4 years now. After driving over 500 miles and waiting in line for more than two hours, I must say the reward (three ½ pints of PTY) was worth all the effort, and I will definitely do it again in the future. Pliny the Younger is marvelous!

Mac and Jordan drinking Pliny the Younger at Russian River. February 7, 2018

If you’re an IPA lover and have ever had Pliny the Elder, you know how good it is and how loaded it is with juicy citrus flavors. We shared a pint of Pliny the Elder to taste alongside our Pliny the Younger. Although PTE itself is a hard and hoppy punch in the mouth, it tasted washed out compared to PTY. I say that to say this: If you like Pliny the Elder, you’re gonna love Pliny the Younger. You just gotta have some. It’s hoppy and bitter, but has a huge malt foundation that sweetens the bitterness and creates a very complex IPA. The hoppiness is bigger than PTE, but I would also say it’s more balanced due to the increased maltiness. The body is also heavier, thicker and smoother, lending additional complexity to the brew. The ABV is 10.25%, compared to PTE, which is 8.0%. The higher alcohol is not prevelant in the flavor, but is definitely warming in the throat and thus is more noticeable. If you’re and IPA lover, this beer is a dream come true.

Bob and Kevin raising a glass of Pliny the Younger at Russian River Brewing. February 7, 2018

After heaping all this praise on Pliny the Younger, in all fairness, I must ask myself, “Do I rate it so highly due to the ‘mystique’ surrounding the beer?”

  • Is it really that good, or am I responding to all the hype, the difficulty obtaining it, and the time and effort involved?
  • Would I rate it so highly if it was easy to obtain (like, for example, Lagunitas IPA)?
  • If I didn’t know that it is annually rated among the greatest beers in the world, would I still gush over it?

Of course my answer is only speculation, but I believe I’m being objective when I heap all the afore mentioned praise on Pliny the Younger, and when I say it is definitely as good as advertised, possibly even better. I have an idea . . . why don’t you go to Russian River Brewing next February, have some PTY and decide for yourself. Then you can be the judge.

Well, I need to close out this newsletter before it gets so long that you lose interest. I need to come up with a recipe for my next brew (an IPA), and spend some time posting more beer reviews. Sooooooooo, that’s it for now, but check back soon for more of Mac’s beer wisdom. Better yet, subscribe to Macsbrew.com now and you’ll be notified whenever a new post is added.

Sláinte!