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8:50 PM, Apr 13, 2004 tweet this
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Frambozen
For the inaugural run of the Draught of the Week, I have decided to go and taste the delicious winter ale that New Belgium Brewery, in Fort Collins, CO makes. Before going to Barley's in Shawnee, KS, I had only seen this beer on tap at one other place: Charlie Hooper's Tavern in Kansas City's Brookside neighborhood. Brian and I plugged out to Barley's, and enjoyed a delicious dinner before trying the first draught in unison. First, we tried a couple of beers independently, to get a feeling for beer-tasting.

When we sat down, I noticed that their beer list has this unfortunate notice on it:

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Not one to despair, I ordered one of their 99 beers on draught, and washed it down with a KC Strip Steak. At surprisingly regular intervals, our waiter checked back with us, and saw that we seemed overly interested in all the beers they had on tap. At this, he offered us a tour of the keg cooler, a two-story, custom-made room for the purveying and cooling of their 99 varieties of beer.

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This is the crane that they use to lift full kegs to the second level.

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Anyway, on with the beer! Frambozen is a raspberry brown ale, with a very strong, but addictive flavor. The raspberry flavor hits you hard at first sip, along with the slightly higher-than-average alcohol content(6.5%). The first time I ever tried this(in a bottle), I didn't like it, but as I drank more of it, it grew on me to the point that I loved it. It's very dark, but still very sweet, rich, and sneaky. Here it is before doing its damage.

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It's sneaky, because you don't really notice, as you drink it, that it's about twice as strong as a normal American beer. After confidently drinking three of them, talking about politics and rocket design, you get up to pee, and the room seems to have been moved onto the deck of a boat at sea. This is not a beer to follow with an important drive, speech, or sudden movement.

When it's over, it prettily sparkles at you from the empty glass(on special tonight for $2.50), giving you a feeling of guilt and ungentlemanliness at not having another one at the ready. But, we had to get home, and the beer was good enough in memory.

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Ratings (out of ten):

Flavor: 8 (Has replay value. Taunts you.)

Body: 7 (The flavor has a 15-second party in your mouth, and politely cleans up and goes away)

Aroma: 9 (Hits you like a ton of bricks, with machine guns)

Smoothness: 6 (because of its initial roughness)

Price: 8 (I can't complain about $2.50)

8:58 AM, Apr 18, 2004 tweet this
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Bully Porter
Last night, I gave Nathan a call, and we went out and spent an ungodly amount of money on beer and fun. We started the evening off at Harry's Country Club, down in the River Market area. When our waitress promptly stopped by to take our drink orders, I asked my default question: "What do you have on tap?" Nathan ordered a Chimay.

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She went through an impressive list of about ten beers, and finished off with the one I expected least: Boulevard's Bully Porter. It is brewed in Kansas City, and is available throughout Boulevard's current distribution range, which currently covers several cities, in nine states. However, Bully Porter seems notoriously difficult to find on tap anywhere. I know of a couple of bars that have had it on tap before, but stopped, because they (presumably) just couldn't move the stuff.

This is a shame, because it's one of the tastiest beers I know of, that's made in Kansas City. It's certainly my favorite of Boulevard's all-season beers. It is definitely the heaviest of all their offerings, and probably the least popular, because of this. Anyway, the waitress cheerfully brought out the draught of the week, along with the finest bottled beer available, for Nathan.

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The glass sits a dark brown, almost black, and is completely restrictive of any light passing through it.

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The flavor is reminiscent of coffee, and stays with you. It has a particularly pleasant bite when you have been drinking it for a while, as it passes over the sides of your tongue and out the back of your mouth, into your throat. It also stains clothes very well. If your plan is to get drunk from drinking Bully Porter, I'd recommend against brightly-colored clothing, as this stuff is about as tenacious in stain mode as motor oil.

Ratings (out of ten)

Flavor: 8 (heavy, dark, and delicious)

Body: 6 (The flavor stays with you, so it doesn't mix with other beers well.)

Aroma: 7 (It's pungent from up close, but you forget about it after a while.)

Smoothness: 8 (For as strong as it is, it goes down remarkably easily.)

Price: 6 (At 3-4 dollars a pull, it is priced normally.)

After that, we met up with Dave and Mickey, and got drunk.

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8:34 AM, Apr 26, 2004 tweet this
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Yuengling Lager
I traveled to Pennsylvania, this week, and drank a lot of regional beer. In the end, I decided that the DOTW winner for the trip would have to be the renowned fruit of the mountains of Pottsville, PA: Yuengling Lager. I drank it a lot, last week, and decided to formally document it at Chickie's and Pete's, in South Philadelphia. Famous for their seafood, they also serve the 120-oz "Beer Tower."

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It is a refrigerated, five-foot-tall column of beer, with a tap at the bottom, for easy conveyance. Note the ease of Geoff's conveying.

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Yuengling pours a copper color, and loses much of its head in the first couple of minutes of its in-glass existence. This encourages the drinker to keep up, and make the most of their time with Yuengling. The flavor is shocking for how common the beer appears and smells.

The aroma is underwhelming, and makes the drinker think he's got a day-old Bud Light in front of him. Then, the beer hits the tongue, and permeates the entire mouth with its golden, almost honey-like flavor. The finish is a small kiss of the flavor, but little else. It gets out of the way for shots of Crow, or for bowls full of mussels or crablegs.

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When it's over, it's sad. Peering at four empty glasses, signifying the end of a great trip is always a melacholy moment.

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But, that didn't stop Steph from enjoying her crablegs.

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Ratings (out of ten)

Flavor: 9 (like an umbrella that opens in your mouth, without the hassle of killing you.)

Body: 7 (robust, yet easy. A real crowd-pleaser.)

Aroma: 5 (it's not bad, but it's not good either. It just is.)

Smoothness: 9 (a girl scout could drink this all night, and still feel like a man.)

Price: 7 (at $4-5 a draw, I guess it's normal for the east coast, so I'll not hold that against it.)

8:47 PM, May 2, 2004 tweet this
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Maredsous 8
This beer, which I can only find websites about in French, comes from the tiny island of Belgium, and is produced by magical gnomes with the expressed purpose of making the world a better place. We discovered it yesterday, when my underage sister and I stopped by Charlie Hooper's for some of the best poured beer in Kansas City, from any of their over-35 taps. I liked it so much, I convinced Brian to return to Hooper's with me tonight, and try this startlingly tasty beer.

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It comes in a screwy glass, in an attempt by the bar to make you feel special about getting less beer than normal. When poured, it's brown and slightly transparent. These things are difficult to notice, as when it arrives, you can't think of much besides how an empty glass of this stuff must look.

I had already had a glass the previous day, so Brian took the first sip. After seeing his reactions to the magical gnomes' work, I took a sip or three, and spoke my piece.

It's a Belgian Abbey Ale, produced by magical gnomes(otherwise known as Benedictine Monks), and sports an alcohol content of about 9%. It would sneak up on you, if you weren't already rapturously attacking it. My only compaint is that it's over too quickly.

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Ratings (out of ten):

Flavor: 9 (Just reminiscent enough of Chimay that you try to pronounce the screwy way that Belgians say Cheers.)

Body: 8 (It reminds me of much more expensive beers, in that it permeates your mouth and throat, and makes you wish you didn't have to go.)

Aroma: 8 (As it teases your nostrils, you feel like there's something you should be remembering right now, like going to the dentist or paying the bills or something. Then, .0045 seconds later, you forget utterly anything besides the beer in front of you.)

Smoothness: 9 (It slides down your throat like a greased scotsman... from Belgium.)

Price: 9 (At four dollars a pour, I definitely cannot complain, for a beer of this magnitude.)

8:02 AM, May 18, 2004 tweet this
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Alaskan Amber
First off, I'd like to apologize for my tardiness in getting an entry in. I was in California for over a week, and unable to get anything done, as picture upload is concerned. While I was there, I tasted some delicious beers on tap, including Stone IPA, Arrogant Bastard Ale, Karl Strauss Red Trolley, and Firestone IPA, among many others. Unfortunately, the only one for which I had a camera ready was Alaskan Brewing Company's Amber.

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It looks pretty tasty, actually, but as with many things, looks can be deceiving. It's a bland, yellow-tasting, time-wasting disappointment. The flavor is just a hair north of average, and I actually forgot I had a beer in front of me while I had it, and had to be reminded to finish it. That was the clincher for me.

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Ratings (out of ten):

Flavor: 6 (It wasn't bad, but it wasn't great either. It was actually a little tiring.)

Body: 3 (If by "body," you mean "yellow fizziness," then in conclusion, I don't know.)

Aroma: 5 (It didn't really smell like anything.)

Smoothness: 4 (It made me look at the menu, to see what else they had on tap.)

Price: 3 (At $5, I should at least enjoy it.)

So, to make up for this poor showing, and inconsistency in updating, I present you with pictures of pretty girls in California.

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7:41 PM, May 24, 2004 tweet this
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Chimay White
I have arrived in Boise, ID, for a conference, about nine hours earlier than any of my coworkers, which gave me plenty of time for what-have-you. I found that the company set us up with accomodations out in the middle of nowhere, with no real internet access available. In addition to that, I have found that we are about a three-mile cab ride to downtown. I took a cab first to Table Rock Brewpub & Grill, where I tried some delicious brown ale and an even more delicious IPA called, "Hopzilla."

However, that is neither here nor there. The main point of this post is to point out that the greatest thing ever to come out of Belgium is, in fact, available on tap, and not just in bottles, and that tap is available in Boise, Idaho.

In all fairness, I have seen Chimay on tap before, but it was in Aspen, where they may as well have liquefied cocaine on tap. Today, I found it on tap in a more human place, and drank it, to celebrate. Actually, I had a glass of Rogue Dead Guy first, and that was also delicious. But, there's not much competition that can be taken seriously, when Chimay is on the table. I made a couple of phone calls, including one to my friend Renae, who never drank a drop of beer in her wedding dress, and told her that she would have to choose my next draw, and she chose wisely, when she informed the bartender with my phone.

Anyway, it pours a deep orange, into the custom glass, reassuring you of your investment.

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Oh, and if you are still doubting(Nathan), here is undoctored, photographic proof that this comically delicious beer is available on tap.

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The time between starting the beer and ending it is too holy an experience to insult by attempting to capture with feeble language. I can only order you, on pain of death, to make sure to get yourself a glass, if you ever see it on tap.

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Ratings (out of ten):

Flavor: 10 (There's not much one can say about the best there is, especially when you manage to find it on tap.)

Body: 8 (Body's not its thing, but without really trying, Chimay delivers.)

Aroma: 9 (It smells like everything is right with the world.)

Smoothness: 9 (It goes down as if it was meant to. Fortunately, it was.)

Price: 9 (Perhaps it's just something about boise, but I find $4 to be an excellent price for Chimay.)

6:32 PM, May 29, 2004 tweet this
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Belhaven Scottish Ale
Julia came to visit, this weekend, and with her came the chance to spend some spare time in some Kansas City's many many excellent bars. Predictably, though, we went to Charlie Hooper's, and on her suggestion, we made this beer the Memorial Day DOTW.

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It pours a vivid copper color, which I didn't expect at all. I was expecting this to be a fizzy, yellow, ureal ferment. Perhaps that's how i need to go into these things: doubtful, so I can be even more impressed.

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The flavor was sweet and full, yet strongly robust. I found that if I hadn't driven, I'd have happily finished the night drinking these beers. It was very drinkable. You'll notice by the lingering thick head in this picture how quickly I drank this delicious beer.

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Ratings (out of ten):

Flavor: 7 (Solid. Consistent.)

Body: 9 (Powerful, but not oevrwhelming. Almost perfect.)

Aroma: 6 (I'm thinking about getting rid of the aroma category. Many very tasty beers are being undercut by the fact that they are light on aroma. This beer doesn't have much aroma, but it really doesn't matter.)

Smoothness: 9 (One moment, you're ordering your first one, the next, you've peed four times already, and that girl is finally looking attractive.)

Price: 7 (At 3.75, it wasn't expensive, but it wasn't cheap either. An excellent value, in my opinion.)

7:36 PM, Jun 7, 2004 tweet this
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Maibock
Just before the wedding this past weekend, I drove up to Minneapolis to pick up Amanda, and decided that it'd be easier to show up on Thursday night, and leave with her after she got off work on Friday afternoon. With this in mind, she planned an evening out(referenced here), modeled after the desires of my own heart. We went to William's in Uptown Minneapolis, where I saw the hallowed Two-Hearted Ale on tap, and drank several. But, since I was already quite familiar with it, and on the road, I decided to go a bit more local, and decided on a local beer: Summit Maibock.

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It pours almost the same color as the table where we sat, which is very confusing at times. Notice Vince's beer across from mine is full of the same beer. He was the only one in the mood for a DOTW. It was very tasty, with a slightly sweet flavor that still delivered an insubordinate kick when I felt like I had defeated it.

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Then, after I defeated the beer, my camera defeated it with some helacious flash-glare.

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After the DOTW was over, we discovered the two-for-one high life special. I went through two glasses of the "Champagne of Beers," before I returned to forking out the money for real beer. Vince and Amanda both ordered full-sized pitchers of hot wings. Gross. Amanda later told me that the very idea of McDonald's for dinner makes her feel ill. I find that hard to believe, looking at the picture below.

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Ratings (out of ten):

Flavor: 8 (This really isn't a fair rating, as I generally love Maibocks, but you have no say in the matter, so I feel justified in my tyrannical decision.)

Body: 7 (Like any good Maibock, it's very robust, yet just as sweet as the onset of May.)

Aroma: 8 (Maibocks smell good, and this is no exception.)

Smoothness: 7 (Its flavor is what makes it go down so smoothly. Its higher than average alcohol content makes it dangerous for that.)

Price: 3 (At 5.50 a frigging glass, the least they could do is get it to my table within a reasonable span. In conclusion, it's expensive, and Brian, Amanda's friend informed me that the prices for the beers on tap are never reduced for any reason.)

6:03 PM, Jun 10, 2004 tweet this
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Boston Lager
I know it's a bit early for another DOTW, but seeing as how I left everyone hanging for about two weeks, I feel as though I have some making up to do. Plus, Brian got back from Pennsylvania today, and it'd been a while since we had a beer together. So, we went and had three.

We went around the corner to Tanner's on Broadway, and saw that their tap selection is really dwindling. They have two identical sets of 16 taps. On each of their two rails of taps, they have two of each of the following: Budweiser, Bud Light, Miller Light, and Coors Light. This works out to half of their 32 taps being occupied by what I call "grey beer." Very disappointing, in my opinion. We each tried some local beers we had never had before, from Pony Express and Flying Monkey, which were both very tasty. Brian was ready for the Sam Adams before I was.

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Then, I got the lead out, and but the beer in, and received my Adams. Here's what it looked like.

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From start to finish, it's a wonderful beer, with something new to notice, every time you drink it. For such a common beer, it really is a gem, and it's always gone quickly.

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Ratings (out of ten):

Flavor: 9 (It surprises me every time I taste it. It's like it does a backflip in my mouth. I suppose it kind of does.)

Body: 8 (This is a beer that keeps your attention, with a big, full-bodied character. It will not be ignored.)

Aroma: 6 (It doesn't have much of an aroma, but it still makes me salivate when I smell it.)

Smoothness: 6 (It's not very smooth, but it distracts you from that with its flavor.)

Price: 9 (Hooray for happy hour! $2.50 a glass will do just fine.)

7:20 PM, Jun 15, 2004 tweet this
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Sunshine Wheat
My new camera came today. I thought that it'd provide an excellent opportunity to go and get you another beer. Combine that with the fact that on Tuesdays, Barley's in Shawnee gives out free pint glasses with a glass of the special of the week, which just happened to be this week's offering from New Belgium.

I was reminded that there was beer to be had at Barley's, by Brian drinking, ironically, another New Belgium beer: Trippel.

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He's heading out of town soon, only to return for visits, as he just got that job in Chicago that he was fiending after for so long. Needless to say, his spirits have been high lately.

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Our very attractive waitress helped us out with beer recommendations, even though it turned out she wasn't over 21, herself, and informed us of this week's special. We finished dinner, and the glasses came promptly.

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It pours very yellow, but as with other beers that I have shown you, looks can be deceiving. It is actually a delicious beer, and Brian and I both lamented the fact that we had never tasted it before. Amazingly, though it is clear, it is considered a wheat beer, but doesn't have the cloudy characteristic of most hefeweizen beers you find today, that are all the rage. Also, it's very fruity, but in a good way.

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DOTW is always over too quickly. After leaving, we put on some Postal Service and Daler Mendhi on Brian's Karma, and Brian rocked out so hard, he missed our exit, so we wound up going all the way up to where I-435 goes back into Missouri, near the airport, and had to strike our way home from there on two-lane roads.

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The speed limit on said roads was 55, but this is the speed we managed, because of some people in front of us that were in no particular hurry.

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Oh well.

Ratings (out of ten):

Flavor: 7 (It has a real pilsener flavor to it: sharp and to the point.... even though it's an ale.)

Body: 8 (This may sound odd, but I get a distinct taste in the finish that reminds me of Fruit Loops cereal. Don't yell at me, Brian thought so too.)

Aroma: 7 (For a yellow beer, it smells excellent, and leads the drinker into a much more complex beer than meets the eye.)

Smoothness: 8 (Has great replay value. It really surprised me with how drinkable it is.)

Price: 9 (At $2.50 a glass, I definitely cannot complain.)

5:16 PM, Jun 28, 2004 tweet this
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Golden Monkey
I visited my sister in Cleveland, this past weekend, and got to see the city pretty well, as well as earn a blister or two. On my first night in town, Julia and I met some of her friends:

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...at a bar in Lakewood, called the Winking Lizard. The bar had an excellent selection of beers, both on tap, and in bottles. On our first sitdown, we decided on the featured beer of the week, Victory's high-alcohol, Belgian-style tripel, Golden Monkey. Because of its high content and bang for the buck, it comes in a small, fancy-looking glass.

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It pours a deep golden color, like most tripels. Like most tripels, it looks dauntingly lower in quality than it really is. Maybe that's why they only charged us $3.50. From start to finish, it's a wonderful glass of beer, with more to discover in each sip.

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Anyway, I switched to Great Lakes' Edmund Fitzgerald Porter after that. Now that is another delicious beer.

Ratings (out of ten):

Flavor: 9 (As Belgian triples go, this stacks up well against ones actually made in Belgium.)

Body: 6 (The taste stays with you, but its alcohol content(9.5% by volume) really starts to show, when that happens.)

Aroma: 6 (I can say nothing about it, as I just don't remember it.)

Smoothness: 8 (While it does have a bite, it is still uncommonly smooth.)

Price: 8 (Maybe drinks are just cheaper in Cleveland. It only cost $3.50.)

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Yep, they were showing a fishing show in the otherwise classy bar.

7:39 PM, Jul 27, 2004 tweet this
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Drop Top Amber
A full three weeks ago, I was in Portland, Oregon, and I now have a moment to write about the beer I drank there. It's been a hell of a couple of weeks.

Weinhardt makes some crappy yellow beer, and that's the only beer available in Portland with which I was not completely enamoured. I loved all the beers I had from Rogue, Full Sail, Wollaver's, MacTarnahan, Deschutes, McMenamin's, Steelhead, Tuck's, Tugboat, Flying Pig, Northern Lights, Pyramid, and Widmer Brothers, and wish I had the time and initiative to do a dotw on all of them, especially to make up for all this lost time. That'll have to come in another form, I suppose. Stay tuned.

In the meantime, I have a beer to review. Widmer Brothers makes a delicious beer, called Drop Top Amber, and it looks like this when it's poured:

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This picture, and all others on this page, were taken at the brewery's brewpub, one railyard away from the rocky banks of the Willamette River. That said, we tried every beer they had on tap, and I must say that I liked most of them. All in all, they are an excellent brewery, I found.

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Anyway, I went to the brewery with Dave, Mary Kay, and Aaron, when we returned from a day trip to Mt. St. Helens, in Washington. We spent a long beerless day hiking and driving, and come dinner time, we were beset with a mighty thirst. Widmer delivered.

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The beer, from the abundant opening pull to the final desperate airy gasp for the frothy dregs, is a pleasure to drink, but that may be the National Volcanic Monument-derived fatigue talking. I'll have to make another trip to Oregon, just to make sure.

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Relaxing with beer is one of the pleasures for which I wish I had more time, along with updating my website.

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Ratings (out of ten):

Flavor: 8 (Something new to discover in each glass. That's why I had more than one.)

Body: 6 (Neither stays with you nor gets out of the way. I honestly don't remember this being a big thing about the beer.)

Aroma: 6 (It smells like a tasty beer, and makes me salivate, but that's kind of par anyway.)

Smoothness: 9 (This stuff slides out the back exit of your mouth, leaving a slight trail of happiness behind it. Superb.)

Price: 8 (Portland's beer prices blew me away. This was $3 a draw, and that's pretty representative of Portland beer prices.)

11:55 AM, Aug 10, 2004 tweet this
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Two Hearted Ale
I went to Minneapolis, this past weekend, to celebrate my birthday with some friends and relatives. I turned 26 at midnight on Saturday night, and I was treated by my cousin Vince, and his roommate Mike, to a night on the town. We went to The Independent, a second-floor bar in Minneapolis' Uptown neighborhood. I walked toward the bar, and was hassled away by Vince and Mike, who told me to sit my newly-26-year-old ass down, and await my sponsored drink.

It came in the form of a Jager and Red Bull shot, and a glass of one of my favorite beers available on tap in Minnesota: Bell's Two Hearted Ale, produced in Kalamazoo, MI, by one of the oldest "great" breweries in America.(yes, 1983 is old for great american beer).

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The beer is a delicious-looking deep orange when poured, and it doesn't look at all like its flavor. They don't call it one, but it's been termed an IPA(India Pale Ale), by the beer-drinking community, because of its extremely hoppy characteristics. An IPA gets its name from the beers of roughly the same style that were brewed for the long nautical voyage from Great Britain to India, which in those days took mariners all the way around Africa. On a trip of this length, beer would generally taste pretty lousy by the end of the journey, so brewers in Britain had to come up with a special beer, to keep the crew's spirits up.

The result was a beer that was heavily fortified with alcohol and hops, making it especially bitter, but very long-lived in a wooden cask. Today, the beer style made in homage to those days is the modern-day IPA. Some people love it, and some people hate it. I thought I hated it, until I tried Two Hearted Ale, on the advice of a clerk at Gomer's, late in 2003. Now, it's one of my favorite beer styles, and this is my favorite IPA. That's definitely saying something.

Even though it's a different table, this is still the same glass.

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After about four or five of these, and another Jager Red Bull shot, we all got chased out of the closing Independent, and Mike went and grabbed some girl's boob.

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Ratings (out of ten):

Flavor: 9 (This is my absolute favorite IPA. The hops are in your face, and the bitterness dominates the flavor.)

Body: 8 (Bites every part of your mouth that detects flavor, and keeps biting well after you've swallowed.)

Aroma: 8 (It smells almost as hoppy as it tastes.)

Smoothness: 4 (Sometimes, smoothness needs to be ignored, in favor of bite, flavor, and finish.)

Price: 10 (It was my birthday, and hence cost me nothing. It doesn't get any better-priced than that.)

8:58 AM, Aug 26, 2004 tweet this
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Hazed and Infused
Last week, I got a call from Bryan, with whom I used to work at Sprint. After exchanging pleasantries, he whipped out the meat and potatoes, inviting me to go and get a beer with him the following week. I happily accepted, and we agreed on Barley's in Overland Park, on Wednesday night.

The night came, and I made my way down to Overland Park in rush hour traffic, and I must say that traffic there is worse than I remember it. After miles of nothing, I arrived at the corner of 119th and Quivira, the alleged location of Overland Park's Barley's. Geoff told me earlier in the day that it was at that corner, on the southeast block. I came south on Quivira, as you can see in the diagram below.

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As you can probably also see, from the nature of my route, denoted by the blue line, both Geoff's advice and my intuition failed me. Barley's was not on the southeast corner, nor was it on the southwest corner, where I spotted a building that looks like what I'd think a suburban brewhaus would look like. Anyway, I eventually found it, and went inside.

I met up with Alex, Louis, and Bryan inside, and bullshat with them for about an hour before getting a table for dinner. Alex took his leave, as he had business to attend to, and left us to attend to ours. We ordered dinner, and decided that the Draught of the Week needed to be something completely foreign to me, so we went through the list of 99 taps, and came to one I didn't know. Rockies Brewing Company's take on the American Style of IPA, Hazed and Infused.

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I think this is one of the most aptly-named beers in existence. It hits your tongue with a burning buzzing fizz, thoughts of which its name fully evokes. While it definitely fits the description of an IPA(being hoppy, robust, slightly bitter, high in alcohol), they call it an APA(American Pale Ale) because of the purported divergence from the original IPA recipe. This beer was absolutely delicious, and even has hints of a citrus flavor. It's just an amazing beer, and I highly recommend trying it.

Bryan and Louis agreed that it was tasty, and yes, that was the real color outside.

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Ratings (out of ten):

Flavor: 8 (A truly unique flavor, it seems to have slight citrus overtones, which I think is what adds to its bite.)

Body: 7 (With a very full body, this was an IPA that was ready to lay siege to your senses, and plow its way in.)

Aroma: 7 (The odor immediately attacked my nostrils, forcing me to drink.)

Smoothness: 8 (Even though the hoppiness gave it a slight burning feeling, it still went down very smoothly.)

Price: 6 (It was $3.50 a draw, which is pretty average around KC.)

10:29 PM, Sep 2, 2004 tweet this
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Smithwick's
I traveled to Ireland about four and a half years ago, and again, about a year and a half ago. Both times, I rejoiced in the delicious beers that were available on the emerald isle. Kilkenny, Caffrey's, Murphy's, Guinness, Beamish, and my favorite of them all: Smithwick's. After my first trip to Ireland, my friend, Amanda visited Ireland with her family, and just before she left, I told her that she needed to try Smithwick's(pronounced "Smithix") when she got there.

She called me at three in the morning from Dublin, and exclaimed how much she loved it. That settled that.

About six weeks ago, the state of Missouri got with the program, and started offering this exceptional beer for sale within its borders. The deal was authorized by people dressed like this.

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With all this in mind, I arranged a meeting of the minds at O'Dowd's on the Plaza in Kansas City, in order to drink and assess this beer.

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As you can see, it pours dark, with a thick, creamy head. I must admit, however, it's not as tasty as I remember it being in Ireland, but it's the closest in flavor to its original of any european import that I know. Before I fully realized this, however, it was gone, and we switched tables.

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Upon my urging, we finished our drinks, and left for Harry's in the River Market, but not before getting a crazy shot of Nathan.

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As well, Geoff, the birthday boy, noticed (after I showed him) that the current date was precisely seventy years after the one listed on this poster we saw.

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Then, we went to Harry's, and got a couple candid shots. The first picture is Josh, my new roommate, making nice with a nice girl named Myra.

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Here are Josh's friend, Josh, and Geoff's friend, Erp.

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I don't know who these people are.

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Ratings (out of ten):

Flavor: 8 (It has a creamy taste, like Guinness without the stout flavor.)

Body: 9 (Its heady texture and creamy... what-have-you, stay with you.)

Aroma: 7 (It actaully smells great, and smells almost exactly like it tastes.)

Smoothness: 9 (I could drink this beer all night, if not for the fact that...)

Price: 4 (...it costs over four dollars, which is high in Kansas City. I still need to try it at Buzzard Beach.)

2:00 PM, Sep 10, 2004 tweet this
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Dry Stout
For your beer this week, I took advantage of a Friday afternoon at home, and ambled on over to Tanner's. I wasn't really in the mood for anything complicated, and luckily, Tanner's doesn't have anything of the sort. I always enjoy going into a bar when it isn't busy. You get to see all the people that decent people scoff at, while they're still sober.

Just before leaving, I had been carrying on in the kcgeek IRC channel in a rather, "zany," manner, such as to bring the false impression upon various people that I had already been drinking. I informed the folks on the channel that I was heading to Tanner's for a beer, and was met with the following reactions.

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Not one to disappoint, I walked straight over to Tanner's, and had the friendly bar steward pour me a glass of Boulevard Dry Stout, which has always been one of my favorites, here in town, and a glass of Flying Monkey for demian.

The big buzz, these days, is an unhealthy diet style, involving the deprivation of your body of carbohydrates, in order to quickly and dangerously have your body eat through your fat instead of carbohydrates. For those of you out there with this ridiculous, self-destructive hangup, stout is the beer for you. Lower in carbohydrates, and in calories, than any other real beer. (note: anything with "lite," "light," or "ultra," in its name is not a real beer.)

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The beer pours as black as night, not even translucent, while demian's beer sat patiently, waiting for me to finish.

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And finish I did! I celebrated by paying and tipping.

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Ratings (out of ten):

Flavor: 7 (It definitely tastes like a stout, but admittedly, Tanner's supply was not the freshest, and you could tell in the slight unpleasant, out of place bitter tinge.)

Body: 9 (Thick and creamy, this stuff gets noticed, until you've had four or so.)

Aroma: 6 (My nose is stuffed up, so I like to imagine that it smells like pepperoni pizza. I know from previous experience, however, that it does not.)

Smoothness: 8 (This is what separates this stuff from Guinness. It goes down very easily, so you can drink this all night without even knowing what you're getting yourself into.)

Price: 7 (I don't rightly recall what it cost, but the total for the two beers was $6.25, so it couldn't have been much.)

10:40 PM, Oct 3, 2004 tweet this
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Fat Tire
Yeah, I know it's been a long time. I haven't even been particularly busy, at least, not compared to most people. I can only apologize, and hope that you can find it in your heart to forget about it. To help, here's a distracting picture.

garbageinkc

Anyway, I decided it's been long enough since I started this little web experiment, to officially review one of my favorite beers, and one of the most common regional beers in the Western United States. This beer is produced by New Belgium, in Fort Collins, CO, and is called Fat Tire. It's an amber beer, and surprisingly, it is, by far, their most popular beer.

I have seen it on tap in Colorado, Kansas, Idaho, California, Oregon, Arizona, Nevada, Wyoming, Nebraska, and my home state of Missouri, making it one of the most well-distributed beers that isn't produced within the circles of the alliance of evil: Anheuser-Busch, Miller, and Coors.

Nathan and I met up with Josh and Josh at Tanner's for Booga night, and actually received a free round of these beers, because of some alleged clerical error at the bar, but Josh was happy to receive them.

josh

The beer pours a deep orange. Pictures like this are rare.

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Josh and Nathan spoke genially on various subjects.

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I was having such a nice time, I forgot to get an "empty" picture.

Ratings (out of ten):

Flavor: 8 (This is a consistently tasty beer, and always surprises me when I'm not paying attention.)

Body: 7 (A very solid beer. It delivers a sweet, malty punch.)

Aroma: 6 (Sigh. It just smells like beer to me. I guess its common aroma belies its flavor.)

Smoothness: 8 (80% of the time, I want another one. 78% of the time, I get another one.)

Price: 8 (Tanner's had a "Beer of the Month" special on it: $3 for a 20-oz glass.)

7:41 AM, Oct 14, 2004 tweet this
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Jillybrau (Leinie's Red)
Nathan and I made the trip down Broadway to Jilly's, a bar named after the late friend of the same name, of the late Frank Sinatra. We grabbed some seats at the bar, and waited patiently for the third of the Presidential Debates to begin, on the bar's corner television. We came here for a number of reasons.

First, it's a great bar, with fun events every night they're open, and has a real neighborhood feel. Second, lots of attractive women come to Jilly's, presumably, to have a more comfortable experience than what the Quaff and Tanner's have to offer. I don't blame them. Third, the staff is always friendly, and happy to help.

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The most important reason, however, is that this bar has Leinenkugel's Red on tap, in the visage of "Jilly's Brew," for the comically low price of two dollars per pint. I remember paying prices like that when I was in school in Dubuque, and getting angry about being gypped. But Dubuque is well inside the bubble of Iowa reality, and out here in the real world, we're ecstatic to be charged three dollars for a premium beer, much less two.

So, when we found out about this unreal bargain, we committed ourselves to drinking a lot of it, and to go back as often as we can. It pours a reddish rusty color, prime for drankin'.

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The bar has a line of taps that are exceptionally high up, as you can see here. I wonder if it was placed that high for the sole reason that the ladies behind the bar would have trouble reaching it, and have to stretch.

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The beer emptied well.

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The "Hit Shitters," came to plug their next show, and fill in some open mic time.

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Nathan points out the nuances and fine points of whatever it is he's talking about.

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Ratings (out of ten):

Flavor: 7 (Classic "Red Ale," tastes exactly as it should, with a hint of sweetness)

Body: 7 (Good mouthfeel, and plenty to discover with each next sip)

Aroma: 6 (There's not much to the aroma, except that it smells like it tastes. This beer wears its identity on its sleeve, whatever that means.)

Smoothness: 8 (When you start the evening with it, it's a bit tough at first, but after your first two or three swallows, you're ready to drink it all night, like I did.)

Price: 10 (Jilly's has this beer on tap for $2, all day, every day. That's about the best deal in Kansas City.)

7:10 PM, Oct 21, 2004 tweet this
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Weiss
Whenever I leave town, I try to get a beer on tap that can't generally be found in Kansas City. This past week, I was in Orlando, FL, for a company conference. By day, we were shrugging off yawns, daydreaming about getting a nap, and occasionally attending training and briefing sessions. By night, however, we decided that sleep was overrated, especially when visiting a place with summer as long, and skirts as short as in Orlando.

Not to sound like an insensitive pig there, but it's true. It seems to be all about reducing tanlines, whether the sun's out or not, in the sunshine state. Not a couple of guys to be overcome by adversity, Geoff and I hopped on the bus by our hotel. Ninety bumpy, jerky minutes later, we were downtown, and proceeded toward 37 W Pine St, to find the Back Booth, where BeerAdvocate says there is excellent beer to be had.

And they weren't kidding. The taps are atwitter with exotic beers that are unavailable in KC, and while we were there, we drank one of all but maybe three of them.

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As a bit of positive reinforcement, we were reminded of this ancient Confucian proverb:

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The beer we came to explicitly try was Tabernash's Weiss Beer. When Geoff returned to Kansas City from his ten-month stint as a Floridian, he continuously ranted and raved about this beer, which is actually made one state away, in Colorado.

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It pours a very bright yellow, and is reminiscent of Boulevard Wheat, or any wheat beer, for that matter. It tastes very good, but at the same time, I must offer my apologies, as I am not much of a fan of lighter beers. It was good, but it wasn't that good. I was glad when it was over, so I could try something else from their bountiful tap.

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This girl had a bitchin' tattoo.

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Ratings (out of ten):

Flavor: 7 (The realization of a hyped moment is rarely as great as the hype itself. Delicious nonetheless.)

Body: 7 (For such a light beer, it had a lot to say on mouthfeel. I think that's the main draw.)

Aroma: 8 (One thing that's certain about Weissbier: It smells really good.)

Smoothness: 6 (Geoff couldn't seem to get enough of this stuff, but, I didn't find it very smooth at all. I have averaged out our opinions.)

Price: ? (Since they only charged us for about half the drinks we had, I have no idea what this beer costs.)

11:51 PM, Nov 5, 2004 tweet this
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Michelob Ultra
I have decided that this column has been overly biased against beers that most people know. I haven't reviewed beers that are regarded by many as the "beers of the people." So, for all you macrobrew fans, this week is for you.

I met up with Josh and Sadie at Josie Ann's, for happy hour, and after a spirited glass of PBR, I informed Robin the friendly bartender that I was in the market for some shitty beer. Four minutes later, I had a very light yellow glass of Michelob Ultra grinning up at me with a low-carbed grin. Josh joined me for moral support. Sadie was of no such mind.

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The beer, when I first tasted it, surprised me. I expected it to be bad, but man, this stuff makes me want to go and turn myself in at the police station. It was so bad that I made a nasty face without even noticing it. Two sips into it, I decided this beer didn't need to be relished and examined. It had to end. You can't polish a turd, they say. So, I chugged it down in three gulps, suffixed by one of the worst pouty baby bitter beer faces I have ever contorted my face to.

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And here's the thing: I wasn't happy it was over. I was pissed. I was pissed that this stuff is as abundant as it is, and that people still order it at bars. It is anything but pleasurable to drink. I would classify the experience as one of mild torture. Yet, people drink this swill to reward themselves for a good workout. If this is how I'm supposed to reward myself, then I must really hate me. Here, you can see how unforgivably yellow and fizzy this beer is, compared to such a premium beer as Pabst Blue Ribbon.

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Desperate to get the terrible taste out of our mouths, we scurried over to Jilly's and got some real beer.

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Ratings (out of ten):

Flavor: 2 (So bad that I wish I could undrink it, and unlive the moment.)

Body: 1 (It actually has an aftertaste that's somehow worse than the flavor. One thought enters the mind when this beer enters the mouth: get it the hell out of your mouth!)

Aroma: 2 (Are you kidding? It smells like, I'm not kidding, excrement.)

Smoothness: 1 (I would drink this beer again, but only for monetary gain.)

Price: 0 (I can't believe they wanted money for me to help them unload this sin against tastebuds. Even more amazing to me is that this is a successful beer. I guess it just goes to show that you can convince people to put anything in their mouths, as long as you have millions of dollars in your ad campaign.)

7:52 PM, Nov 13, 2004 tweet this
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Nutcracker Ale
I decided that even though it is effectively impossible to find the beer I chose for this week's draught of the week, I must still drink it and review it for you. Kansas City's own Boulevard Brewery offers all of the beers it produces, on tap, throughout the Kansas City area, with two exceptions: their summer seasonal, called "Zon, and the beer that is featured in this column: Nutcracker Ale.

Nutcracker is Boulevard's winter seasonal beer, touted as a "winter warmer," partly because of its holiday-spice taste accent, and partly because at 5.31% alcohol by weight, it is the strongest beer offered by Missouri's second-largest brewery. Interestingly enough, it is also the least accessible of all their beers. This is especially upsetting to me, because among their beers, it is also my favorite.

Brian and I have been on the tour at the Boulevard brewery more times than either of us can guess. Brian places his total at around fifteen visits, and I would guess that I've been there a good twenty five to thirty times. I chalked another one up today, as I took Geoff, Josh, and Craig for the 1 PM tour.

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When we walked in, I cleared the reservation stuff out with Julie, the hospitality specialist. I asked her if they'd see fit to allowing me to conduct a review of their Nutcracker Ale, using a full pint glass. She cheerfully said it was fine, and when I sat down with my full pint, next to the 7-oz glasses everyone else had, I was surprised not to see any looks of disdain from the peasants. But, i suppose the kind of people who are apt to attend a Boulevard tour aren't generally the jealous type.

It pours a deep dark copper color, with a relatively thick head.

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Josh was having the same beer, and was also anxious to get into it.

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For the tasting period, they provide complimentary pretzels and Pale Ale Mustard. Josh was very enthusiastic about enjoying them.

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Craig and I enjoyed our beer, happy to get it for free, for once.

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The beer went down relatively quickly, and maintained the same flavor from top to bottom. I wonder if I'll have it again on tap, this year.

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We stayed until we were encouraged to leave, by way of the free beer access being snuffed, so some of us got a little loopy.

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Ratings (out of ten):

Flavor: 9 (Hints of spice and sweetness pervade.)

Body: 8 (Very heavy, especially considering its coloration.)

Aroma: 7 (A subtle whiff is an exciting preview of what's to come, as the qualities of the flavor dance in your nostrils.)

Smoothness: 7 (I would drink this beer all night, but i would definitely notice every swallow.)

Price: 10 (Since it was a tour, the beer was free, so the price couldn't have been better. It sure would be nice to find a place where you can pay for it on tap, though. HINT HINT, Boulevard!)

7:35 AM, Nov 22, 2004 tweet this
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Chocolate Bock
This week, I am allowing a bit of a change in standard operating procedure. In the past, I have always run these Draughts of the week, myself, and have always enjoyed it. However, last week, I received a phone call, asking for the opportunity to write a guest column. My brother, after I granted permission, wrote a guest Draught of the Week. He's been looking for an excuse to ask to do one for a while now, and an opportunity presented itself in the form of Sam Adams Chocolate Bock. All that follows is Brian's words. -b

--------------

This beer is unique not only because of its flavor, but also its distribution. Though there are several fine liquor stores where you can buy a 20-some-odd ounce bottle (for a very premium price, around $15 per bottle), there are only six bars in Chicago's North Side that have this beer on tap. Two in Old Town, two in Lincoln Park and two in Wrigleyville. On top of that, these six establishments only have 100 sixth-barrels between them. Where I decided to drink it, Kelly's on Webster near DePaul in Lincoln Park, they had gone through 3 of those sixth-barrels in as many weeks. Our friendly bartender, Kevin, told us that Kelly's had been selling the lowest volume, but the buying patrons have all been quite satisfied. Well, count me among them.

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The beer pours very dark, completely opaque. The head is on the thick side but dissipates very quickly. It smells, well, wonderfully. It's halfway between burnt chocolate and Nestle Quik. I thought the actual taste was much more subtle. It was still delicious though. Actually, it was surprisingly not very sweet on the tongue.

It went down very easily. A little too easy perhaps, as it's 5.6% ABV. It definitely snuck up on me. That didn't stop me from ordering another round, though. The first one finished so well, but left little in the glass to remember it by, so a second was certainly in order to job my memory.

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Ben enjoyed his too.

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I must give mad props to my homies who made me aware of Sam Adams' latest gift to the world and invited to share it at Kelly's that evening.

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We then proceeded to kick the Night Ranger. Aww yeah..

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Ratings (out of Ten):

Flavor: 9 (Chocolatey, but not sugary)

Body: 7 (Heavy, but dissatisfying head)

Aroma: 10 (Chocolate and incredibly inviting)

Smoothness: 9 (Like silk)

Price: 6 (I actually just threw money down, but the big bottle is quite pricey...

5:15 PM, Nov 23, 2004 tweet this
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Hidatakayama Weizen
Okay, I know I said that it would be rare, but I now have four more DOTW entries for you, this time submitted by mister Joel Z Johnson, on assignment in Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan. He sought out the number one-rated beer bar in the entire Tokyo area, according to Beerfly, a segment available on BeerAdvocate, and enjoyed himself into a bunch of DOTWs. All that follows was written by Joel. -b

---

Just off the Ryogoku stop on JR Line was the top-rated Tokyo beer pub according to Beerfly: Bakusyu Club POPEYE, featuring one of the city's largest collection of draught and Japanese craft beers, including a rotating selection of three hand-pumped cask beers. After an hour's worth of wrong turns on the subway(one leading me off my map, which was a little troubling), I found my way to Popeye and plopped down ready to sample as many new Japanese draft beers as possible. While Popeye has a very nice selection of "World Beers," including Rogue Ale, Hair of the Dog, and Hoegaarden, it seemed a waste to travel half-way around the world only to drink beers I'd already had before (and I had been drinking Hoegaarden quite a bit the previous nights, truth be told, as it was very common).

hida... what-have-you

My first selection was the Hidatakayama Weizen, a beer that was brewed in Gifu Ken, which I can only presume is a city or province in Japan. Although it wasn't cheap(935 yen (about $9) for a pint). I had wisely landed during happy hour, where each beer is served with a selection of dishes from the 'O'Tsukare Sama' set. Not wanting to fall too far off the boat, I selected the fried chicken, all three small pieces of which were quickly served (and were delicious).

Popeye provides and English menu for those not able to order in Japanese, and the waiter was quick to scratch off the selections that were outdated. Polite, but it also made me wonder how often gaijin find their way to the place, as it's not exactly on the beaten tourist path.

The Fujizakura Weizen was solid, if predictable, with typical banana notes and a cloudy color. As you can see from the picture, I had forgotten that a DOTW entailed taking a picture of the brew in

question until it was almost too late. Suffice it to say that the Fujizakura, while a very pleasant beer in general, tasted typically unrounded(something I find all too common with Weizen, and part of the reason for their disregard by some). It did not taste, if you were wondering, the least bit 'Japanese.' It could have come from a bottle with a Brooklyn label and I would have been none the weizen (oh ho ho).

Ratings (out of ten):

Flavor: 7 (Pleasant, with banana and light spice)

Body: 6 (Typical of weizens, with little head)

Aroma: 7 (Strong wheast smells but almost zero hops)

Smoothness: 5 (Very drinkable, but nothing remarkable)

Price: 6 (A fair price for Tokyo, but still expensive)

5:44 PM, Nov 23, 2004 tweet this
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Yona Yona Pale Ale
While the bartender poured my next beer, the Yona Yona Pale Ale (I had asked for the Yona Yona Porter, but alas), I sampled the slimy, iridescent bits in the bowl that had been placed in front of me when I arrived. Despite looking like an internal organ, the oil and mystery sauce-soaked vegetable was pretty damn tasty. It was obviously a stem of some sort, but I couldn't place it from looks or taste. I ordered the Yakisoba-style Spaghetti, hoping it was the cold soba buckwheat noodles I had been eating a lot of the last week.

yadda yadda

The Yona Yona Ale is advertised as coming from Nagano Ken (I really should look these names up at some point when I have internet), and is priced at 924 yen for a pint (around 1000 yen is typical for most of the Japanese beers at Popeye, while oddly the imported beers tend to be cheaper per pull). The Yona Yona has a honey color, with no head to speak of. It's flavor is weak at first, with a moderate hoppy finish. Since I tend to justify pale ales' existence only as a hops delivery mechanism, I would have preferred a stronger hoppy punch (although it would only be fair to note that I have been on an aberrant hops kick of late, having swung from an almost anti-hops viewpoint to a 'can't get enough hops' perspective over just the last 3 months or so). There are some IPAs on the menu that I might try%97it would be interesting to try what has become almost an American beer as interpreted by the Japanese.

The soba noodles arrived hot, in a slightly more ample portion than the chicken did. They were great, though, although I worried that the vinegary flavor might overwhelm the half of pale ale that I had left to drink. Fortunately, the watery front wave of the Yona Yona cleared the palate of soba flavor just in time to pass on the medium hops finish. I bet soba noodles and a real hoppy beer would go great together.

I have to say, Japanese food is pretty great. While fishy flavors are much more common than in American food - fish flavor is a seasoning in Japan, much like we tend to use pork or... well, pork, I guess - not everything is fish or rice. In fact, I found of the food to be very rich, filling the mouth with a flavor sphere (unmammi is it?) when you least expect it. Imagine eating some noodles but getting a mouthfeel like duck, for instance. It can be striking, but very attractive.

I noticed while looking over the menu in anticipation of my next drink that the Yona Yona Pale Ale I was drinking was also available hand pumped. I would imagine that was what I was drinking, in fact, which would partially explain the 'flat' flavor. Hand-pumped beer doesn't have the same levels of carbonation draft beer does. Maybe I'm a rank amateur, but I don't tend to enjoy cask beers as much as draft beers. I like me some bubbles.

Ratings (out of ten):

Flavor: 6 (Strong, hoppy finish, but a watery start)

Body: 4 (Flat with little head, but then again, I'm 99% sure it was hand pumped)

Aroma: 7 (Crisp and fresh)

Smoothness: 6 (Of course, part of that smoothness was lack of carbonation)

Price: 6 (A fair price for Tokyo, but still expensive)

5:56 PM, Nov 23, 2004 tweet this
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Echigo Stout
An Amy Grant song started playing over the sound system. I noticed that many of the beers displayed on tap weren't on the menu, including Murphy's Irish Stout, Conquest Master Brew, Old Engine Oil, and BelleVue Kriek. If all the taps were actually live, they had a very impressive selection, rivaling the tapworks of any bar I've ever been to. I also noticed a sign for 'Shizenbakushu Pyramid Old Lambic' from Hakuseki Kan Brewing%97I was determined to try a Japanese 'lambic' if they actually had it, but after some hand gesture communication I determined they didn't.

Instead I ordered a Echigo Stout, from the eponymous brewery from Niigata Ken, for 935 yen for a pint. I had been noticing the staff being extra polite, probably because I had my Powerbook out and was clearly taking notes (and I have to admit, giving a little bit extra class{flourish} for each sip). It might have made me a ripe bastard, but it's not often one can be in a situation to suggest they are an important journalist documenting their experience in a bar without actually having to lie about it. I finished my cigarette before starting in on the stout.

ick, I go

The Echigo Stout was fairly light in color for a stout with little-to-no head. I had a little swig to cleanse the cigarette taste and ate the potatoes I had ordered along with it, which were served in the typical Japanese quarter-wedge style (along with mayonnaise, butter, and what tasted like cocktail sauce).

The stout had a strong coffee line, although none of the richness typical of the sweet, milk stouts that I prefer. Many of the beers I had been sampling in Japan shared that same fear of richness - single note beers seemed to be par for the course. Even when that single note was pleasant - and the coffee note of the Echigo certainly was - it still left the overall impression to be one of immaturity, not simplicity. The bouquet of the Echigo was much the same - appealing, but not intriguing.

I realized with a start that I had consumed two and a half beers in the space of about 45 minutes, which put the likelihood of my successful return to my hotel in Shibuya in some doubt, especially when I had such trouble getting to Popeye sober. The Japanese are a friendly sort (with a few notable exceptions), so I decided to just go for it. I had spent almost every night lit up like a Christmas tree since I landed, often from beers that I only drank because they were there. 'Might as well make a night of it,' I figured, even though it was just then seven in the evening.

Overall, the Echigo Stout is pleasant, but suffers from my prejudicial preferences in stouts. It is clearly a dark-roasted barley drink, but I like cream stouts, and it is too clear of a flavor to really suit me - I like my stouts muddled and rich. Still, as I slowly worked down my glass, I was anything but dissatisfied.

Ratings (out of ten):

Flavor: 7 (Tasty but not complex. Coffee tones, not chocolate)

Body: 6 (Very round, but not creamy at all)

Aroma: 6 (What smells it had were great, but they weren't strong

enough to set the nose and tongue ready)

Smoothness: 5 (Very drinkable, but nothing remarkable)

Price: 6 (A fair price for Tokyo, but still expensive)

6:01 PM, Nov 23, 2004 tweet this
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Swan Lake IPA
I knew I had maybe one more beer in me before I extended myself too far, so I looked carefully over the list of Japanese craft brews and hoped I would be able to select something that would really knock my socks off. While I was extremely impressed with the bar itself, the Japanese beers had so far done nothing to impress me. They were good, and clearly brewed by capable hands, but I was hoping to taste something uniquely 'Japanese,' yet all the beers I had tried so far had been good, but unoriginal. Perhaps there was something to the idea that beers should be brewed tailored to the local yeast strains and not in emulation of other countries' specialties. America has its hoppy IPAs and West Coast ales, Belgium has its lambics and multi-layered barn brews, Germany has its pilsners and fundamental imperialist tendencies; what does Japan bring to the brewing table? I was beginning to fear that I wouldn't discover that flavor, if it existed at all.

I figured my best chance to discover something unique lay in the hands of the bartender, who I suspected was also the owner. He was quick to interpret my hand gestures and brought me a Swan Lake IPA (925 yen, brewed in Niigata Ken). I ordered the 'Pizza of the Week' as my complementary appetizer.

ballet

The Swan Lake was not the new flavor I was looking for (and would ultimately leave without discovering, if it existed at all), but it was clearly the best beer so far, with a sharp sweetness at the start blossoming to a hoppy, poppy finish. Clearly, my gamble on trusting the 'tender paid off, and I was rewarded with a rich, rounded beer that would probably stand up to most of the American IPAs that I was starting to enjoy. In fairness, I was already pretty inebriated, and I also think it is best to compare beers in alternating swigs. But even disregarding my hope to discover a beer that moved past 'good' into 'great,' I can stand behind my assessment that the Swan Lake is very solid.

Still, while a great beer is always a pleasure to discover, I have to say I was disappointed overall in the craft output of Japan's brewers (at least the four I tried). I guess a beer is a beer is a beer, to an extent, especially if you stick to the four core ingredients, but I still hoped to discover a risk-taking beer that hadn't been - or could not have been - duplicated anywhere else. Maybe that's unfair%97I don't exactly have a lot of experience trying beers brewed outside of the 'core beer' countries.

As a bar, though, Popeye's is not to be missed if you are in Tokyo. The selection of beers is outstanding, an order of magnitude beyond what I've seen anywhere else in the city, and you owe it yourself to try the Japanese craft brews for yourself. I don't put too much stock into others' opinions, to an extent, as my own tastes change more often than I would expect. There may be qualities that I'm not appreciating. And besides, a new beer that is only so-so is always worth drinking.

hai

The bar is impressive, although the bamboo-backed stools leave little room for my big, beautiful ass. And after I paid, the bartender followed up with a sample of a delicious barley wine, Japan-brewed That was a treat%97maybe I should have started with that first?

Ratings (out of ten)

Flavor: 8 (Sweet, almost syrupy start (in a good way), with a POW

block of hops at the finish)

Body: 6 (Solid, but not its strong suit. Still no head)

Aroma: 8 (Bubbling mixes of hops, with the occasional flower coming through)

Smoothness: 7 (Easy to glug, with no sharp edges)

Price: 6 (A fair price for Tokyo, but still expensive)

10:28 AM, Dec 12, 2004 tweet this
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Nut Brown
As is evident elsewhere, Josh and I bottled this weekend. From the dregs of the "Ale Pail," we siphoned two glasses, once the bottling was complete, and decided to have the first-ever Draught of the week without any carbon dioxide or nitrogen propulsion, or any carbonation, for that matter.

Here I operate the "tap."

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The beer pours a deep copper color, and looks to be about three days stale.

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Our first words after tasting it were, "to the next batch!" However, the more we had, the more we liked it. In addition, we guessed that this beer is very strong. the original gravity reading was 1.082, suggesting a potential alcohol content of about 12%. I don't think it was that strong, but the effects it seemed to have as soon as we each swalled a bit suggested that it was a very strong glass of beer. So, we've got that going for us.

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On top of that, the beer was neither carbonated nor chilled, which made it a bit odd. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't great either. But again, I must mention the draw it had, to encourage us to keep drinking it.

Ratings (out of ten)

Flavor: 6 (Not bad, not great, but sort of like Newcastle. Belies its alcohol content.)

Body: 7 (Very thick. You know you're drinking beer you didn't buy at the store. Take that as you will.)

Aroma: 8 (This is the main redeeming factor, in my opinion. The hoppy aroma is pervasive, and promises good things to come. It gives me hope that the bottle conditioning will have a good effect.)

Smoothness: 7 (Actually goes down pretty smoothly. The more you drink, the more you want.)

Price: 2 (At about $230 to get everything in place, this is probably the most I've ever spent on beer. But then again, this whole brewing thing isn't about saving money.)

2:43 PM, Jan 5, 2005 tweet this
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Octoberfest 2004
It's been entirely too long since I have provided you with a drink. I have decided to rectify this, and Nathan helped. We prepared for the oncoming ice storm by going to Tanner's last night, splitting a plate of ro-tel cheese dip and sitting down to some very tasty beers. Assuming that because it's such a common beer, that it would be relatively reasonably priced, Nathan ordered a Fat Tire, which we later found out was $5 a glass.

I chose the only seasonal on the rail: Samuel Adams Octoberfest. It pours a deep orange copper color, and advertises Two Men and a Truck movering company.

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The Oklahoma-USC game was on that night, and instead of getting caught up with the game, I chose more often to look out the window.

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We enjoyed our beers, had some laughs, and called for the check. Upon seeing our bill for five beers and a cheese dip, I hastily finished my beer, paid, and we took our leave.

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Ratings (out of ten)

Flavor: 7 (Tasty enough to make me notice it, and its sharp little prods of flavor all over my mouth.)

Body: 8 (The spiciness hits your tongue with spines of remindermentationing.)

Aroma: 6 (Smells pretty much how it tastes, I found.)

Smoothness: 7 (Unfortunately, it's so drinkable that you stop noticing it.)

Price: 6 ($4 for a 22-oz, and $3.50 for a pint. Not bad, but not great either.)

9:19 PM, Jan 18, 2005 tweet this
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Winter Skal
I traveled to Madison, Wisconsin, last week, and finished all the work I had scheduled to do in two days, in one. That left me with a free day, and hence, a free night for drinking beer. I consulted Beerfly, which has an entire category devoted to Madison, and found that the best rated place in town to get a pint was a local brewery called the Great Dane. I stopped by, and had a mouth-watering Monte Cristo, and two mouth-watering pints of ESB and IPA, before moving on to a great place, also listed on Beerfly, and elaborated elsewhere, called the Come Back Inn.

The Come Back Inn, adjacent to a more-authentic-than-most German restaurant, boasts one of the best tap selections in Madison, and some of the friendliest, most helpful, most knowledgeable bartenders I have seen in such a bar. They obviously love the business of evangelizing American craft brewing, and their playground(one quarter of it, anyway) is pictured here.

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This is a closer look at the list of the beers that they currently had on tap.

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They had a Tuesday night special, dictating that all these beers, in an 18-oz German-style mug, would run the customer $2.75 a pour. I got right to it, and helped myself to glasses of Bell's Two-Hearted(previously mentioned on BDC), Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald Porter, Big Sky Moose Drool, and Anderson Valley IPA. Among these great American beers, however, I felt the need to review something local to Madison, and I chose Capital's cold-weather offering, Winter Skål.

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It pours a color that is surprisingly light for a winter beer, but with a deep copper-brown hue, it's still handily darker than most beers one will commonly see. I think it should also be said that winter, if it's considered an entire style, is my favorite beer style, and if it isn't a beer style, then it's my favorite time to get a beer.

This beer gets right down to business, biting the tongue with a sharp, burning fizziness as it enters the mouth. This biting subsides as the beer slides closer to home, and is evocative of honey and a light sweetness as it takes the plunge down the throat. It may have been my imagination, but the beer, as it journeys along the tongue, shooting off new, impressive flavors as it moves, like a wagon full of ignited fireworks, seems to produce a sensation of a sort of rolling. The beer- the flavor, that is, has its own character that feels like it's determined to make you keep enjoying the beer well after the last of it has been carefully swallowed. Also, it burps well.

I had about twelve breaks, as the friendly bartenders kept bringing me free samples of their favorite beers, but after about a half hour, I finished the glass, and euphoria ensued.

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Ratings (Out of ten)

Flavor: 9 (Complex honey flavor that wears its alcohol content on its sleeve.)

Body: 7 (Heavy brown beer that is evocative of drinking carbonated rum.)

Aroma: 9 (Smells exactly how it tastes.)

Smoothness: 8 (Goes down very smoothly, but makes you feel guilty for rushing.)

Price: 9 (At only $2.75 a glass, this beer was a steal, for its quality.)

7:57 PM, Mar 8, 2005 tweet this
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Winter White
When I rolled into Decatur, I almost immediately noticed the, "I want to die," character of the town. I would guess that forty or fifty years ago, it was a pretty bitchin' place to live, but now, I can see that the people in Illinois' eighth largest city are pretty accustomed to their town not being that great.

Don't get me wrong. There are more than enough Wendy's, McDonald's, Arby's, and even my Illinois favorite Steak n' Shake, to tide over the cursory doubting Thomas, but I still went wanting, when I found out that there really isn't much to do in Decatur, regarding beer on tap. So, when I found out about a certain fact that I'm sure most Decaturians know about, I high-tailed it out of my hotel room, and did what so many before me have done, when faced with the prospect of going out in Decatur.



I went to Champaign.

I read up on Beer Advocate that the Blind Pig was a great place to go in Champaign for beer on tap, so I went there post-haste, only to find that they don't open until 3 PM, while I was standing outside their door at 1:50 PM. So, I walked down the block to the Esquire, where I ordered a cheeseburger and a Bell's Winter White.



It's interesting to find such a light beer listed as a wintertime beer, but who am I to base a complaint on convention? Being a resident of Missouri, I have only ever seen this beer in bottles, so, also being a huge fan of Bell's beer, I eagerly drank up.



I ate my burger in peace, spoke with some locals about the Illini and close-in Weapon Systems, and finished my beer. I must also complement publicly the quality of the service and atmosphere at the Esquire in downtown Champaign, IL.



Ratings (out of ten):

Aroma: 7 (Sweet and yeasty)

Flavor: 8 (Also yeasty, but with a bitter finish)

Body 7 (Thick but mostly headless. Great with food)

Smoothness: 7 (Very strong flavor, but light enough to drink all night)

Price 9 (At $2.25, I can't complain about the price of a seasonal craft brew)

8:15 PM, Mar 8, 2005 tweet this
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90-Minute IPA
After moving my rental a little closer to the bar, and throwing another fifty cents into the meter, good for two hours, I wandered into the Blind Pig, and quickly became acquainted with Charlotte, the pretty Dutch woman tending bar. After getting my first beer, Dogfish Head's 90-Minute IPA:



...we talked for a good hour about fun things to do in the Midwest, as she had only recently moved here with her U of I scientist husband, and was frustrated with both the lack of things to do in Central Illinois, and the distances one must travel to get anywhere, compared to in her native Netherlands.

I told her I was originally from Peoria, and she kinda sorta lit up, saying how relieved she was with Peoria, with its expansive river, topographical variety, and vast forests, after seeing nothing but flat land and cornfields for the whole time she's been here. For once, I felt justified in my civic pride, for having come from Illinois' "River City."

The beer was fantastic, and because of our conversation, I didn't get anymore pictures. See below for more information.

Ratings (out of ten):

Aroma: 9 (Awesome. Spicy with only a hint of hops)

Flavor: 9 (A happy marriage of pine(?) and hops)

Body: 7 (The spiciness comes through in the mouthfeel, compensating for a thin feel)

Smoothness: 9 (I could drink this all night but I could never stop noticing the flavor)

Price: 6 (At $4.50 a draw, it's a little expensive for a town as small as Champaign, but if that's the price you have to pay for an excellent tap selection, I'll happily pay it)

8:19 PM, Mar 8, 2005 tweet this
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Never Summer Ale
I decided to stay at the Blind Pig for another beer, as their selection is just second to none in Central Illinois. Careful not to get anything too strong, as I still had a 40-mile drive ahead of me, I spotted the alcohol content on Boulder Brewery's "Never Summer" Ale. 6%. I also thought of the extremely complementary words for this beer on the part of my friend Dave, and that was that.

I asked Charlotte to pour me one as soon as she had a moment.



It pours a deep brown color, as with any quality winter beer, promising a delicious fifteen to twenty minutes. Unfortunately, those minutes are up before you notice.



Not eager or ready to be tossed out on my butt just yet, I ordered a Two-hearted ale off their very impressive row of taps.



Ah, Bell's. Is there any time you don't come through when I travel in the Midwest outside Missouri?

(note: the Midwest is composed of Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, and Missouri)



Ratings (out of ten):

Aroma: 7 (Chocolatey, with hints of maltiness)

Flavor: 8 (Had a strange fruity flavor that I can only identify as "inverse bitter," with fruity undertones in its relatively bitter finish)

Body: 8 (Fruit-propelled thickness retreats soundlessly down your throat)

Smoothness: 6 (It goes down easily, but because of its fruity flavor, one is enough)

Price: 7 ($3.50; Not terrible, but still more than I'd expect to pay in Champaign)

3:33 PM, Mar 21, 2005 tweet this
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Edmund Fitzgerald Porter
Once again, work took me to Madison, WI last week. I had previously arranged to meet up with an old college friend and short-time roommate, James, who makes his home in Madison with his wife Jackie. He rolled up to my hotel at about 6PM on Tuesday, where I was waiting outside, talking with my work partner(TJ) and his Louisiana counterpart(Gerold). The temperature was in the thirties, and when James pulled up, he got out of his car and changed shirts.

TJ and Gerold both freaked out when they saw my friend do what he did on what they considered to be an arctic day, and freaked out further when they saw that this crazy person was a friend of mine. We said good-evening to TJ and Gerold, and, with James' friend Marcus, went over to the Prime Quarter for some steak. Apparently, James' bachelor party was held there, and he ate the 40-oz "Beefeater," steak, a feat that gets your picture on the wall, shown below.

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After stuffing ourselves adequately with KC strip steak, I pressured James and Marcus into a trip to the Come Back Inn, which is now officially my favorite place in Wisconsin. We walked in and took some seats up at the bar. We had all each had a 32-oz beer or two with dinner, so we were very talkative, and set to conversing with Dave and Johnny behind the bar. James settled into his beer quickly.

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Marcus helped himself to beers he requested as, "the lightest you have," when he discovered they don't carry budmillcoors on tap. Honey weisses, wheats, and various yellow beers passed his lips, before Dave the bartender thought it appropriate to adorn his next beer as such.

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I decided on a year-round offering from Cleveland's excellent Great Lakes Brewing Company: the Edmund Fitzgerald Porter.

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It pours a deep brown color, and an equally deep roasted aroma emanates off it immediately. The first sip throws itself all over the front of your mouth with its dark roasted flavor, and before you know it, your glass is empty.

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This, in my opinion, is one of the truly great American Porters, and one of the best beers available in the Midwest.

Ratings (out of ten)

Aroma: 8 (Dark chocolate hints at a sweet maltiness)

Flavor: 9 (Chocolate malt is very heavily pronounced, followed by a roasted maltiness)

Body: 8 (Thick and even, leaves roasty residuals)

Smoothness: 8 (The thick even body makes for a smoothness that is as uncharacteristic of porters as it is pleasurable to drink)

Price: 8 (The 22-oz German-style glass was on special for $3)

9:35 AM, Nov 11, 2005 tweet this
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Bob's 47
Kansas City is a great town.

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But it sure is distracting. So, yeah! Almost no time has passed since the last time I have gotten you a beer, right? Oh, right. It was March. Sorry. Like a good habit of exercise, keeping the site updated with new draughts of the week becomes easier and easier to avoid, to the point that you don't even feel guilty anymore, and just don't care. But here's the thing:

I do care!

I want you to have the best experience possible, on this website. As such, I have an obligation to provide you with semi-original content, on a semiregular basis. As of late, I have failed in this obligation, especially concerning what was once the most popular part of this website, the Draught of the Week. I have decided that I like having readers and reading their comments more than I like sitting around in my underpants feeling sorry for myself. Plus, chicks dig dudes with initiative.

Lately, I have taken to walking around this fantastic town, especially what with the unseasonably awesome weather we've been having, this late October and early November, and my silly walks have progressed farther and farther afield. I went for a short walk today, only to 17th and Main, to Bulldog, only about a mile from my place.

This was a view, on the way there. Click it for a full-sized picture to set as your desktop background. You know you want to.

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It was pretty early in the day when I walked in, about 3:30, so I had no trouble at all finding a spot at the bar. Everyone else there either worked there or was a chick on the phone at the end of the bar.

I pause here to announce that quiet bars are a very inappropriate place to have a phone conversation. If I ever open a place, I will enforce

a strict "no cellphone" policy for patrons seated at the bar. It's just really obnoxious. The phone woman, while very attractive, was apparently waiting for a friend to join her, and occupied every second of her time, waiting for her friend, making phone calls, to completely eliminate any possibility of having to sit quietly at the bar, or, horror of horrors, having to talk to someone.

Anyway, I took a seat at the bar, and asked what they had on tap. The bartender recited the relatively expansive list, and I settled on a local beer, Bob's 47.

Named for the year of the graduation of Bob Werkowitch, Boulevard's first brewmaster, from the US Brewer's Academy, Bob's 47 is the brewery's fall seasonal, and the only lager produced by the brewery. Everything else they produce is technically ale. Meant to bring in the season in time for Oktoberfest celebrations, Bob's 47 is available for most of September and October, and apparently, is still available on tap now, in November.

Like any respectable Marzen/Oktoberfest beer, it pours a deep copper color, but is heavily filtered to make it completely transparent, as you can see.

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Also, like any good beer of its style, it delivers a sharp, sweet, raucous punch, and so, is very popular when it's available in Kansas City. but for all its popularily, it still takes a distant backseat to beers like this.

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Even so, it's not uncommon to see it on tap in any of a number of downtown bars and restaurants. For full details about what I think of it, see the official ratings below.

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I missed you too.

Ratings (out of ten)

Aroma:5 (A little light on aroma, as lagers tend to be. If you really make an ass of yourself, and get your nose really in there, a floral aspect appears, with hints of the pervasive malt contained therein.)
Flavor:8(A creamy, malty sweetness lolls around the front of the tongue, and washes over, revealing its hoppily-sharp bitterness as it slides off the back of the tongue. It's neat to notice.)
Body:7(It's thick, creamy, and nicely carbonated. As it coats your mouth with a trail of flavor, its legacy is a delicious, malty-bitter phlegm sealant for your entire mouth and throat.)
Smoothness:9(Boulevard really has a way of producing beers that just want to be imbibed. It rolls down the throat, enveloped, packaged, if you will, and you will, in that neat, delicious film of phlegm. Like a big, liquid, delicious pill.)
Price:7(At $3.50 a glass, I wasn't complaining, but it certainly could have been cheaper. Any of three levels cheaper.)


3:35 PM, Dec 20, 2022 tweet this
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Tower ESB
After a short hiatus of only seventeen years, Draught of the Week returns! I was enjoying a game night with my brother and sister recently, and I mentioned that I wanted to bring it back. They both said, "what's that?" I am, after all, very important.

I wanted to try not only a new beer, but a new place, and I found it. Years ago, I took the bus(as I am wont to do) to meet Ali at Cherry Creek North for something or other, and found that I had to change buses at 29th and York. When I got off the 28, I found that the next 24 wasn't to be expected for almost a half an hour, so I grabbed a bag of doritos and an orange soda at a corner market near where I would catch the next bus. The place where I bought the aforementioned health food was a corner market that, at the time of day that I visited, was a popular place for teenagers to try to purchase vaping products and accessories. It was thoroughly unimpressive. Fast forward to today, and all the houses in that area are expensive, and the corner market is now the Ephemeral Rotating Taproom, and it's absolutely wonderful, though more than a little bit expensive.

In the time since the last time I did one of these, four men inhabited the White House, my thirties came and went, I got married, moved to Denver, and had two kids. So this being the first time into the breach since 2005, it seemed appropriate to bring everyone involved in the passage of those years. Presidents Bush, Obama, Trump, and Biden were not available, but Ali and the kids found time in their schedules.

The bar offers an impressive selection of draught beers, and as part of their modus operandi, they devote roughly half of their approximately forty handles to a single brewery-- preferably local --and showcase said brewery for some period of time. The day we went in(Dec 17, 2022), the featured brewery was unfortunately not local, but outstanding all the same. Ali helped herself to a Nocturnum while Wendy looked on.

Ali and Wendy

I got an Ectogasm to start off. It was absolutely delightful.

Ectogasm

I enlisted the aid of my friend Bobby, whose online presence you'll just have to imagine for yourself, and encouraged him to bring all members of his household, so his better half Kendra attended as well, and got herself a Delirium Christmas which I think used to be branded "Delirium Noel."

Kendra

Bobby and I decided on the Tower ESB from Glendale's Bull and Bush Brewery. Neither of us had ever tried it before, and we agreed it's a delight. Nutty, smooth, and subtle with its surprising ABV north of six percent, Bobby and I enjoyed every drop, and Kendra even joined us when she got a taste from Bobby's glass.

Tower ESB

Tower ESBs



The numeric ratings which characterized the first run of the DOTW were of course arbitrary, but also never really did justice to the beers in question. So I am going to let the description and the experience stand for themselves. If you want numbers, there are well-filled entries for this beer on Untappd, BA, and RateBeer.

The beer was delicious, the fellowship was welcome and much-needed, and the venue was superlative enough that everyone is eager to go back. Just to be clear, our party was four adults and two small children(who thankfully behaved well), and we never felt out of place. There were mostly adults there, but ours was not the only party with children. Everyone was very respectful and friendly. I would recommend every aspect of our trip to anyone.

I can't wait to do another of these! Problem is next weekend is Christmas, so we'll probably have to take a bye for a week, and maybe two. In general, with a life of parenting and work, it will be difficult to maintain the mostly weekly cadence I had when I did the first 34 of these, but I will make an effort to get back out there as much as I can.

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