Sculpin Sessions

Ballast Point kindly invited me to one of their recent Sculpin Sessions. I attended the session at Fiddlesticks, where their reps set up a whole room dedicated to the event. They passed around different types of hops to smell and of course, passed around some beer to taste! Their original, award-winning Sculpin IPA was in attendance. To be honest, I hadn't had a Ballast Point Sculpin in some time and was curious to see if it had changed. 

The original Sculpin is hopped at five different stages. Aromas of mango, peach and citrus lingered on the nose, but the taste still had a decent amount of hop bitterness present. The quality has remained consistent since the last time I had one and that’s always good to see. 

They also served the Grapefruit Sculpin, which is exactly what it sounds like... Sculpin with grapefruit flavors. The IPA that launched the grapefruit craze. We also got to taste the Fathom IPA, a 6% West Coast style IPA with orange zestiness and piney hop qualities. Personally, I preferred the original Sculpin out of all three. A reliable beer with no frills. What's your favorite Sculpin?

 Sculpin Session #sponsored

Sculpin Session #sponsored

Hoppy drinking, 

 

-One Hoppy Lady

Sour'd In September

September 10th, I made my way to Elmsford, NY for Captain Lawrence's annual Sour'd in September. Being my first visit to the brewery (not for lack of trying), I was surprised at the vastness of the facility. The line moved quickly and I entered through the lobby, into the main rooms. Sour lovers spilled outside into the back yard and side areas, all filled with even more beer and food. I felt like Augustus Gloop in a candy factory. I took my tums and began the tastings!

Stand-outs of the day:

Urban Family Flat Earth Theory (American Wild Ale) - This poured a clear, golden color with a thin white head, which dissipated quickly. The aroma was sour with omija presence. To those who don't know what omija is, it's quite a difficult flavor to descsribe. Known as the five flavor berry, each part of the berry is known to contain different flavors. The skin is known to be sour and tart, which is present in this beer. The center of the berry is known for being salty and sweet, both lightly present in the beer. The seed is known to be spicy, which I did not detect in the beer. Overall, it was pretty tart with a lasting omija funk through out, not overpowering though. This was a really nice, balanced way to incorporate the berry in a beer.

Modern Times Symmetric Orchestra (Sour/Wild Ale) - This poured a hazy, golden color with a white head. Very light lacing. Aroma was tart with light oakiness and bright citrus notes, maybe some white grape. The taste was similar, a light oakiness balanced the citrus/tartness. Body was on the lighter side, with a slightly dry finish, keeping the beer clean and refreshing. I could drink this all day.

Modern Times Fruitlands Passionfruit Guava (Gose) - Oh my guava. This was a delicious beer. It poured an orangey-gold. The first thing that hit me was the strong guava in the aroma, followed by a tartness. Taste wise, the guava was dominant, but not overly sweet. Passionfruit followed and the taste ends with a tartness and light minerality in the body. I really enjoyed the showcasing of tropical fruit in this, without it being a sweet beer. Nice take on the gose style. 

Hoppy Drinking! 

- One Hoppy Lady

The Fir Farm, Colts Neck, NJ

The Fir Farm, beloved cut-your-own Christmas tree farm of Coltsneck, NJ, has been providing the state with Christmas spirit and real trees for decades. "What does it have to do with beer?" you ask. Well, as of two years ago, The Fir Farm has also been planting hops! Intrigued, I decided to go check it out last week. 

When I arrived, Bob welcomed me to the farm and was kind enough to give me a tour (even though I showed up on the one day it poured!). He showed me the different hop fields and pointed out each variety we passed, explaining how each variety looks different. (Fields included Nugget, Chinook, Columbia, Centennial, Cascade, Mount Hood, Tettnang, Willamette and Sorachi Ace!) As I walked through rows of hops, I was surprised to see 18 foot bines. Cones were already forming and newer plants were lush with burrs. Some bines even had arms which surpassed the length of my own!

Their secret? Bob gives credit to the natural greensand deposits found in Colts Neck. The Fir Farm is 100% natural/pesticide free, relying heavily on the Garden State to do its thing. The iron potassium silicate found in the area is known to loosen clay and increase moisture by ten times. It is also said to include traces of up to 30 different minerals. Perhaps, the reason for such quick results? "Being retired men, doing what we love every day probably doesn't hurt it either!" He added. 

Ater looking around the hop fields, I also asked to see the cider apple trees, at which point Bob was more than thrilled to tell me a story about Harrison apples. A style indigenous to Newark, NJ, the apple was thought to be extinct. A single apple found in Livingston, NJ (1976) was used to bring back the species (which are now planted on The Fir Farm, as well). One thing's for sure, these guys are extremely passionate about what they do and the area that they are working in. With years of history in agriculture, tons of new plants, and a great attitude, I'm excited to see what The Fir Farm brings to NJ's craft beer scene. I will be sure to revisit the farm during harvest in three weeks. Drink local, brew local!

Hoppy Drinking!

- One Hoppy Lady

 Next to the burr-filled plants

Next to the burr-filled plants

 Picking blackberries

Picking blackberries

Reykjavik: Mikkeller Bar & Other Beer

As airlines were a great source of distress on this trip, it was no surprise to me that my flight into Reyjkavik (connecting then to EWR) was several hours late. This meant that the entire flight had missed their connections (only one flight out of Reykjavik to each destination per day!). We were all going to be stuck in Iceland over night.

When we finally arrived in the small city, a big bus was already waiting to take us... an hour from the airport... into city center? There was a nice turn of events! Around 8pm, we arrived at the free hotel (which wasn't half bad). We were then served a complimentary dinner, where I dined with a few other passengers from the flight. By the time dessert was done, it was almost 9:30pm and the strange, still-light sky was just too inviting to stay in. Exhausted as I was, I was 7 minutes from the heart of Reykjavik and I only had one night. After convincing a few others to come exploring, I was on my way! 

We stopped into Hurra, a jazz bar that was recommended to us by a native Icelander. The music was fantastic. The people were beautiful. And as I drank my refreshing Einstok White Ale, I had one of those only-when-you-travel revelations where you feel like you've found the place where you belong, if only for one night. 

Though Hurra was mesmerizing, I had to make it to Mikkeller & Friends. Somewhat regretfully, I left the jazz bar in search of beer. When we got there, the 1st floor was a bar, but as soon as we mentioned "beer," we were redirected upstairs. The tiny upstairs had a small bar and two separate rooms. As I took a seat at a communal table, I couldn't help gawking at the interesting choice of decor. Dancing clowns, burlesque devils and a glass case of creepy baby dolls adorned the walls of the bar. Very creepy nursery-esque. I'm not really sure what the story behind that is, but I like to think that somebody just thought it would be funny. 

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Tool LikeWeisse - Poured a murkey golden color with a white head. Aroma was medium tart, wheat, lemony/citrus and hay. Taste had lemon, mild sourness, slight floral notes and white wine hints towards the end. Body was lighter and refreshing, dries towards the end. A good beer.

Borg Brugghus Fjolublaa Hondin - Poured a very dark red, with a thin, pink-tinged head. Dominant blueberry/bilberry in the aroma, with very subltle hints of arctic thyme. Blueberry and brett funk in the taste, some sourness. Lighter side of medium bodied with good amount of carbonation. Enjoyed this one a lot. 

Only having about 2 hours until everything closed that night, I awoke the next morning determined to drink beers precisely at 11am. I had two hours until I had to be back for my bus departure. 

Ölvisholt Brugghús Lava Smoked Imperial Stout @ Scandinavian - Black with a light brown head. Smelled sweet, like dried banana with dark chocolate and some coffee. Malty and roasty in flavor. Toasted malts, but not overly smoky. Cocoa, coffee and very subtle vanilla hints in the taste. Much thinner in body than I expected, on the heavier side of medium bodied. Too expensive to drink again, but would love to age a bottle of this. Many subtle flavors under the smoke.

Viking Classic @ Public House - Clear amber color with light white head. A balanced, malty, well done Vienna. Plenty of carbonation. Refreshing, easy to drink.

I also tried to make it to Kaldi, a craft beer bar. Google said they would be open at 12pm, but I had checked back twice and they still hadn't opened by around 12:40pm. I caught a cab and went back to the Icelandic Air Reykjavik Natura hotel for a complimentary lunch (after almost ordering a $21 bowl of chowder) and to catch my bus back to the airport (which I was strongly tempted to miss). I definitely would love to visit Reykjavik again for a more extended visit. However, at $14 per beer, I don't want to guess how much it would have cost without the complimentary hotel, meals and transportation. 

This concludes my 2016 Euro beercation. Don't worry, there are tons of tales coming up from NorCal!

Until then, hoppy drinking! 

- One Hoppy Lady

 

Anderlecht: Brasserie Cantillion

Of course, the Euro-beercation would not have been complete without a trip to the motherboard. After taking a cozy (but pricey!) train ride to Brussels, I walked over to Cantillion, which was surprisingly close. The brewery blended right into the street of quaint little boxes, portraying a sort of humbleness and authenticity that you immediately fell in love with. 

As I walked through the door, I spotted a man at a podium nearby. With a quick, "Parlez vous anglais?" I was redirected to the self-guided English tour. With the free tour comes two free tastings of a choice of three beers. While a few other beers were available to purchase by the glass, most were only available in a 750mL bottle, which had to be opened and drank at the brewery. I suggest bringing friends, or grouping up with strangers to get the most tasting without wasting. 

Lambic straight from the barrel, aged 16 months - This poured a urine-like color, deep yellow and hazy with no head. Aroma was tart, lemon-rind and funk. Taste was funky, wet wood, and apple-esque towards the end, bitter apple. Low carbonation and drying finish. 

Geuze - This was not as tart as the lambic I tasted first. It was cloudier, but still a piss yellow color. Funky smell with some white grape fruity esters. Nice, easy mild tartness. A bit of spice at the end. Lighter bodied, medium carbonation.

Rose de Gambrinus - Deep, clear, pinkish color with hues leaning more towards garnet. A pink head, which dissipated quickly. This had a beautiful aroma of raspberry with a touch of barnyard funk. Tastes bright and slightly sweet at first, then dries out like a wine towards the end. Slightly acidic and effervescent.  

Zwanze 2012 - This pours a light golden clear color and has a thin, white head. Smell is cat piss-esque, kind of tangy. Definitely pick up the subtle rhubarb in the taste, but not sweetened, which was perfect. Well balanced. Tart and drying towards the end. Lighter bodied. 

Fou' Foune - This poured a dark hazy orange with a thick white head. Wow, a big, sweet apricot smell with some underlying funk in the nose. Tart, not overly apricot sweet, like you may assume from the nose. True apricot in the flavor, not candied or artificial. A nice funk takes over, without any astringent or vinegar-like qualities. Probably my favorite beer of the entire trip. Perfectly balanced. 

Lambic Haute Densite - This poured a clear copper/amber color and had no head at all. It smelled like apple baby food and slightly vinegar-like towards the end. Somewhere between sherry vinegar and apple cider vinegar in the taste with slight oakiness. Oxidized. Body was flat and more towards the astringent side. Oddly enough, the more I drank it, the more I liked it. 

Malted chocolate - Their malted chocolate tasted like the wort from a stout! Delicious. I suggest tasting the little malt grains on their own too by picking them off the chocolate. This was a nice snack to pair with the Fou' Foune. 

Though brewing season had just ended when I had visited and many bottles were sold out, I snagged a few Rose de Gambrinus, Geuze and Kriek Lambic Bio to bring home for friends. Like and follow my Facebook Page for updates through out the week on how to win a beer box with one of these 375mL Cantillion bottles, along with other OHL selections. 

Until then, hoppy drinking!

- One Hoppy Lady