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!

Hammerland DIPA & Angel’s Share


If you read my last newsletter, you are aware that I am out of Mac’s Brew (except for some huge stouts and barley wine in bottles) and have been purchasing a lot of commercially brewed craft beer.  Here is a review of a couple more.  Please read responsibly!

Hammerland DIPA: El Segundo Brewing Company, El Segundo, CA.  8.6% ABV.
Hammerland DIPA is brewed in Southern California (Los Angeles County).  It’s a Double India Pale Ale (DIPA), which typically means higher alcohol with a little more hops to balance the extra malt.

Hammerland pours a dark golden color with a 1/2″ white foamy head.  The foam fades away after 2 – 3 minutes, but a nice ring remains throughout the session, leaving some nice lacing in the glass.  The aroma is very nice citrus and hoppy.

The flavor is hoppy, citrus, and quite bitter, but has a nice maltiness commensurate with the DIPA style.  The bitterness fades to malty sweetness as it is swallowed, but then the bitterness kicks back in and lingers at the very end.

Overall, this is a nice DIPA.  Not the best I’ve ever tasted, but quite good.  I sampled this from a 22 oz. bomber purchased at Costco for $7.99.  I notice that it’s always available there, and definitely worth a taste.

Angel’s Share: The Lost Abbey Brewing Company, San Marcos, CA.  12.5% ABV.
When whiskey is aged in oak barrels, part of the batch is lost to evaporation during the years long aging process.  The portion lost to evaporation is called the angel’s share.

Angel’s Share by The Lost Abbey in San Marcos (San Diego County) is a bourbon barrel aged Belgian style strong ale.  It pours a murky dark brown with no head, although the carbonation is fairly high.  The aroma is a little tart, a little sweet, with strong vanilla notes.

The flavor is tart on the tongue, remains tart and sweet, but fades to a sweet vanilla aftertaste from the bourbon barrel aging.  The aftertaste persists and is very pleasant.  The body and mouthfeel is very thick, viscous, and syrupy.  However, this beer is highly carbonated (It’s bottle conditioned in the Belgian tradition), as one would expect with a Belgian beer.  The alcohol content is high, but not noticeable.  When it warms up, the alcohol is noticeable in the aroma and in the aftertaste.

This is a good, high quality beer.  I love bourbon barrel aged beer, but this is not one that I will re-visit.  I was expecting an Imperial Russian Stout when I bought it, but the sweet/tart characteristic is too much for me.  It’s more of an amber or brown ale style (at least in color/SRM). My sample came from a 12 oz. corked bottle I purchased at Costco for $12.99 (that’s not a typo –  this is an expensive beer, which you have to expect with any barrel aged ale).

So, here’s what  you want to know about these two beers:
I recommend Hammerland DIPA.  It’s a very nice Double IPA offered at a reasonable price at Costco.  Angel’s Share is a very good beer, but there’s no doubt it’s a Belgian ale.  Belgians are not to my liking, so I will not buy it again.  However, if you enjoy Belgian style beers, you will definitely like this one (that is, if you also like bourbon barrel aged beers).