Tuesday, September 30, 2008

FC Video Blog Episode 001

Hi Colorado Beer Fans! I'm trying out a new video camera and will start producing short video clips of beer related news and events around the state of Colorado. In Episode 1, I introduce myself to my readers and invite everyone to meet me at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver on October 9-11, 2008. Stay tuned for more video in the future.

I'm hoping to try out some video editing software soon and make my videos a bit more professional. Check out the other Fermentedly Challenged videos on the Fermentedly Challenge YouTube Channel.

Related articles:
- Fermentedly Challenged turns 1 at the 2008 GABF.
- 2008 GABF Behind the Scenes video.
- What did you drink at the 2008 GABF?

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Sunday, September 28, 2008

Breckenridge Small Batch 471 IPA review

Breckenridge Small Batch 471 IPAIt's been a long time since I've revisited a brew from Breckenridge Brewery. During a recent beer run, I picked up a 22oz bomber of Breckenridge Small Batch 471 IPA, a double IPA that is packed with a hefty 9.2% ABV and 70 IBUs. I had gotten a recommendation on this brew from a couple of bloggers and I couldn't pass it up when I saw it in the store.

This brew was made with a variety of Pale, Munich, Caramel-30, Carapils and torrified Wheat malts. The beer pours a rusty copper color. It built a nice tall white head in my tulip glass. The beer itself was clear with no haze and appeared to be decently carbonated. This beer was bottle conditioned and has just a little bit of sediment at the bottom of the bottle.

The beer smelled a bit citrusy, piney and floral with perhaps a bit of an orange rind effect. The malts smelled sweet and mixed well with the hops. I really like the smell of this beer.

The taste was of caramel malts up front and ended with a mild bitterness. This was a nice full bodied beer. It finishes dry yet mild. This is definitely a double IPA. It's not as notable as a DogFish Head, a Stone or a Pliny. It's good for the style but not remarkable. I'd drink it again if offered.

I liked this Breckenridge brew, but was hoping for a little more. I'll give it an OK with a 3.0 out of 5 rating. Anyone else out there really like this beer? I'd love to hear your comments.

Related articles:
- Breckenridge Avalanche Amber Ale.
- Breckenridge Pandora's Bock review.
- Breckenridge Vanilla Porter review.
- Breckenridge Mighty Brown review.

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GABDC Week 6 update

Is it Sunday already? Where did the week go? Work and life has been very busy lately. I managed to work out twice this week, but I'm afraid it's not enough to get past my latest weight plateau. Last week I weighed in at 189 after pigging out during a weekend trip. This week, while I didn't go on long trip, I did go camping with the Boy Scouts. I typically don't starve during campouts but I don't snack much either. I got even more sun tan on my arms but didn't get to drink any beer for a while. Maybe that's a good thing for a day or two.

After I got back from the campout, I jumped on the scale fully clothed and the scales showed 186. OK, so that's at least 3 pounds down from last week. A step in the right direction but that's been the low mark for several weeks. With 2 weeks left in the challenge I feel that I'm going to have to make a huge effort these last two weeks to get down to the 179 mark. It's going to be difficult to say the least. Think I can do it? Well let's find out.

While I plan to continue to losing weight after the Great American Beer Festival, I'm probably not going to knock my self out doing it. With the holidays still ahead, it would be nice to get down to "fighting weight" again before the feasts begin.

So how is my competition doing? I think BeerBuddha got off to a hot start and hasn't had to push himself lately due to the lack of effort on my part. If I don't want to buy him a 6-pack I'd better focus. As for James Spencer, I think he may have given up for now, or has he? Time to check in guys.

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Fort Collins Brewery pours new brews

Fort Collins BreweryWondering what's new up at Fort Collins Brewery? Well here are some news tidbits fresh from their September 2008 brewsletter. There will be a new brew on tap this week and a returning favorite will pour again for another year.

Inara's Porter

With the changing of the seasons come a changing of the taps at the Fort Collins Brewery (FCB) in northern Colorado. FCB will be retiring their Hefeweizen for a while and replacing it with a brand new dark brew. Now pouring exclusively at the FCB tap room is their new Inara's Porter on a nitro tap. Porters make wonderful fall and winter season drinks and you can take some home in a growler if you are a Tap Club member (or you happen to talk nice to the server of the day).

FCB claims that Inara's Porter mixes well with cinnamon ice cream and makes an excellent beer float. I can attest to how good beer floats are as I've mixed ice cream with many porters and stouts in the past.

Doppel Bock is Back

FCB has been aging and conditioning one of their seasonal brews and preparing for the annual release of their Doppel Bock brew. FCB will be throwing a Doppel Bock Release Party on Friday, September 26th at their tap room. The party starts at 2pm and runs until 8pm. There will be live music, sizzling sausages and some specials on beer going on during the event. FCB's Doppel Bock will be available in stores soon after and will be available to warm your soul during the colder months.

Oktoberfest brew for Wilber's Total Beverage

One of Fort Collins' biggest liquor stores is celebrating a birthday and FCB will be supplying Wilbur's Total Beverage with an exclusive brew just for them. FCB's Wilburfest (Oktoberfest brew) will be on sale only at Wilbur's and at the tap room starting on October 6th. Wilbur's is the only liquor store where 22oz bombers of FCB Wilburfest will be sold. Fort Collins Brewery brews up a batch of this Oktoberfest brew each year for the annual birthday celebration.

Be sure to look for Fort Collins Brewery at the annual Great American Beer Festival.

Related articles:
- Company Profile: Fort Collins Brewery.
- A fresh look at the Fort Collins Brewery.
- Fort Collins Brewery Common Ground review.

This article came from FermentedlyChallenged.com - a Colorado beer blog. Don't miss another article. Subscribe to Fermentedly Challenged by RSS today.

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Great Divide to release fall - winter seasonals

Great Divide Brewing CompanyThe seasons go by so quickly these days and here it is harvest season already. Summer is now faded away and it's time once again for the fall and winter seasonal beers to come out. If you are like most, then you probably look forward to all those great autumnal and winter brews. Great Divide is already announcing the release of two of their seasonal brews for the public and they're throwing a party to celebrate the occasion.

Great Divide Brewing Company of Denver Colorado is releasing both their Fresh Hop American Pale Ale and their Hibernation Ale winter warmer at a tapping party on October 3rd at their downtown Denver brewhouse. Here is a copy of their invitation:

"Join us Friday, October 3rd from 5pm-8pm for the much anticipated 2008 release of Fresh Hop Pale Ale and Hibernation Ale. Fresh Hop is an American-style pale ale brewed with freshly picked “wet hops” from the Yakima Valley of Washington. Hibernation Ale is Great Divide’s celebrated winter tradition and many consider it to be Colorado’s original strong ale. Both beers will be available on draft and paired with a fine assortment of artisan cheeses and cured meats. $15 per person."

Sign me up! These brews are being released just in time before the annual Great American Beer Festival and will make for a great pre-festival celebration.

Great Divide Fresh HopFresh Hop Pale Ale is described as follows:

"The September hop harvest is a once-a-year opportunity to brew with fresh hops, also called “wet hops.” Given the perishable nature of just-harvested hop cones, they are shipped overnight to Great Divide shortly after harvest. The morning of the scheduled hop delivery in Denver, Great Divide’s brewers begin brewing Fresh Hop and are ready to hop the beer just as the fresh hops are delivered.

Using fresh hops is a big endeavor, requiring four to five times the volume of hops compared to the usual process of using pelletized hops. This complex process brings impressive results: Fresh Hop is an American-Style Pale Ale with moderate hop bitterness marked by a unique and intensely grassy hop flavor and aroma. Fresh Hop is a superbly refreshing, medium bodied, light-copper colored pale ale."

Great Divide HibernationHibernation Ale comes out on a very limited basis each year. Great Divide says:

"Hibernation Ale is Colorado’s original strong ale – it has been our winter seasonal each year since 1995. Since that time, Hibernation has become the most sought-after winter beer in Colorado. Hibernation’s massive flavors are so intense that it requires over three months of aging each year. Each summer, while our brewers are still spending their weekends in flip-flops and shorts, they prepare for July’s Hibernation brewing schedule.

We cellar Hibernation until late October, when it reaches the peak of perfection. This lengthy aging process gives Hibernation its revered malty richness, complex hop profile and hearty warming character, which is perfect right out of the bottle or cellared for longer periods of time. Hibernation is a lively treat that really beats the winter chill. This scrumptious, collectible, and imminently cellarable ale is only available for six weeks each year, from November 1 to December 15. Hibernation Ale is the perfect gift or accompaniment to your winter festivities."

While Hibernation may be coming out a bit early this year, I don't hear anyone complaining. We've already had some cold evenings here in Colorado this month and that brew has just the thing to keep the internal furnaces going. Seeing how this strong brew is the type that ages well, it may be worth buying a few of these and aging them a bit longer. It'll taste even better a few months down the road.

Follow-up note: The brews may be debuting at the tapping party, but they won't be on the store shelves until a bit later. Fresh Hop will come out around Oct. 7-10th and Hibernation won't be out until early November. Apparently they want to age the Hibernation a bit before official release. Look for a new label brand starting in October as well. Most Great Divide beers will sport a whole new look.

Read on: The sinfully delicious list of Colorado winter seasonals.

Related articles:
- Great Divide Hades Ale review.
- Great Divide St. Bridget's Porter review.
- Great Divide Yeti Imperial Stout review.
- Great Divide Oak Aged Yeti Imperial Stout review.

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Planning for the 2008 GABF

2008 GABFIt's getting to be that time of year again beer drinkers! Yes, it's just over 2 weeks until the start of the annual Great American Beer Festival in Denver, Colorado. There is going to be a lot going on that week and now is the time to start planning for all the fun going on that week. I plan on fully participating in the GABF this year and am hoping to meet as many of you readers, brewers and fellow beer bloggers as possible. If you haven't yet gotten you tickets to the GABF you may be out of luck. The Friday and Saturday sessions are already SOLD OUT. There are a few tickets remaining for the Thursday evening session but you'll have to get those from a local retailer as the Brewers Association stopped selling them online earlier this month.

This will be the first in a series of articles covering the Great American Beer Festival on both Fermentedly Challenged and the Examiner.com. Yours truly, Dave Butler, will be on hand covering the GABF from behind the scenes as well as mixing with the crowds during this three day festival. Denver is going to be almost as busy as during the Democratic National Convention when it comes to people heading downtown for the festivities.

While the GABF will be the center of attention between October 9th - 11th, it won't be the only beer event going on that week. In fact, the majority of the activities will be happening before, during and after the GABF in many locations scattered throughout Colorado. Here is a short rundown of some of the extracurricular activities happening during the GABF week:

October 8th
- Highway to Hops Brews Cruise - three different buses will take beer fans to a series of breweries in and around the Boulder, Longmont and Lyons area. Buses leave in the morning and will provide food, transportation and all the brewery tour fun you can handle. More info at Left Hand Brewing Company's web site. Tickets are $50 each.
- GABF Gold Medal Dinner with "The Brett Pack" - now here is a meal with a great line-up of brewers on hand showing off their best beers. Rob Tod, Sam Calagione, Tomme Arthur, Adam Avery and Vinnie Cilurzo will be on hand for this one of a kind beer dinner at The Kitchen Cafe on Pearl Street in Boulder. James Spencer of Basic Brewing will even be on hand. Tickets are $100 and are available via phone 303-544-5973 or by email: ray@thekitchencafe.com.

October 9th
- GABF Pre-parties - most downtown breweries, bars and pubs in LoDo. Check out Falling Rock Tap House, Wynkoop, Chophouse, Breckenridge BBQ, Great Divide for starters.
- Thursday Night Session at the GABF - Session runs 5:30pm - 10pm.

October 10th
- F.B.A.G. (Flying Dog, Brats & Gonzo) - Come party with Flying Dog Ales at their warehouse in downtown Denver. Come meet the Flying Dog crew, the founders of BeerAdvocate Magazine and get interviewed by BeerUtopia from 4-6pm. It will be a great way to warm up for the long session ahead.
- Sensory Analysis Seminar - a 4-hour Siebel Institute seminar on how best to prepare your body for a sensory experience tasting beer. The seminar will take place in the Maddie Silks Room at the Denver Marriott City Center. The seminar costs $125 and will be well worth it as the pro's will teach you how to evaluate and better enjoy your beer. Runs from 1pm-5pm.
- GABF Pre-parties - most downtown breweries, bars and pubs in LoDo. Check out Falling Rock Tap House, Wynkoop, Chophouse, Breckenridge BBQ, Great Divide for starters.
- Friday Night Session at the GABF - Session runs 5:30pm-10pm.

October 11th
- DRAFT Magazine Beer Dinners - Four separate dinners will be held at four different restaurants Saturday night. Dinner sponsors include: Flying Dog Brewery at Braun's Bar and Grill (Denver), Left Hand Brewing Company/Terrapin Beer Company Dinner at The Kitchen (Boulder), New Belgium Dinner at 1515 Restaurant (Denver), and Samuel Adams Dinner at Rioja (Denver). Tickets run between $50-$80.
- GABF Pre-parties - most downtown breweries, bars and pubs in LoDo. Check out Falling Rock Tap House, Wynkoop, Chophouse, Breckenridge BBQ, Great Divide for starters.
- Saturday afternoon Members-only session - AHA and Brewers Association members only session runs from 12:30pm - 4:30pm.
- Saturday Night Session at the GABF - Session runs 5:30pm - 10pm.

While I may not make it to all of the tasting sessions, I do plan on being there at the Colorado Convention Center for at least two of the sessions. I will be working as a volunteer all day Thursday setting up behind the scenes and then pouring beers for all you fans that night. After working my shifts, I'll earn free tickets to the Friday night session and then I'll be back for the members only session on Saturday afternoon.

Meet up with Fermentedly Challenged!

I'd like to meet as many of you as possible who are coming to the GABF this year. Please drop me a comment below and let me know when you'll be attending and if you have any special plans for the weekend. I'd like to put a face to your name and blog. I plan on attending the Friday F.B.A.G. party at Flying Dog from 4-6pm so if you're going to be there let me know too! Lot's more info later on during the days leading up to the festival. I'm psyched up for this! Hope to see you there!

Related articles:
- Fermentedly Challenged Video Blog Episode 1.
- Celebrating anniversary at the 2008 GABF.
- 2008 GABF behind the scenes video.

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Monday, September 22, 2008

Quick GABDC update for week 5

It's been another very busy week and it's time for a quick progress update on the Great American Beer Diet Challenge for the end of Week 5. I started off the week all gung-ho about exercising again. I continued my one per day beer allowance and initially excercised during the first part of the week. I tried sticking to my reduced calorie food intake for the most part, but I went on a weekend vacation up in the mountains Friday through Sunday and ate out a lot. To compensate for the big meals, I went hiking along some nice mountain trails. I stepped on the scale last night and was a bit surprised to find that I had gained 3 pounds for the week. I'm up to 189 again and will need to burn off my weekend excess food intake as soon as possible.

Diets seem to go fairly well during the first few weeks then seem to taper off later on. I'm still determined to lose more weight and would love to get down to 180 by the Great American Beer Festival but I'm starting to doubt if I'll make that goal. Those last 9 pounds will probably be the hardest ones to lose as I'll have to pick up the exercising quite a bit to drop those pounds.

I've heard that BeerBuddha and James from Basic Brewing are having their own difficulties at this point, so perhaps I still have a shot at beating them at this little competition. There are still 19 days remaining and still more beer to drink. Let's hope I can refocus and get back to my exercising big time during these last 3 weeks.

Related Posts:
- GABDC Intro.
- GABDC Week 1.
- GABDC Week 2.
- GADBC Week 3.
- GADBC Week 4.

Read the full article here...

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Odell to release Hand Picked Pale Ale

Odell Hand Picked Pale AleThe brewers over at Odell Brewing Company of Fort Collins Colorado are up to something new once again. Earlier last month, they released their 1st oak aged Woodcut beer. This month, they're doing something completely different. Odell plans to release an all-Colorado grown hop beer at a tapping party next Monday, September 22nd. This beer is named "Hand Picked Pale Ale". This beer was grown in cooperation with Colorado State University and will be the 1st beer in Colorado to feature hops that were all grown in-state. The tapping celebration runs from 4-6pm Monday.

Colorado is an area that traditionally hasn't been used for hop farming on a large scale, but researchers at CSU are trying to find a way to change that. CSU grad students like Ali Hamm see big opportunity for hop farming here in Colorado and are researching which hops grow best in this area. The hops she and other students at CSU are researching are grown organically. Odell's Hand Picked Ale is benefiting from the work being done here locally by the college in Fort Collins.

Related articles:
- Odell Brewing underwrites research on organic hops.
- Odell Brewing Teams with CSU Hop Research Project.
- Something is Brewing at CSU.

This article came from FermentedlyChallenged.com - a Colorado beer blog. Don't miss another article. Subscribe to Fermentedly Challenged by RSS today.

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Twisted Pine American Amber Ale review

Twisted Pine American AmberDuring a recent beer run, I spotted a variety pack of beers from Twisted Pine Brewing Company of Boulder, Colorado. Their variety pack contained 2 each of 6 different beers. I'm a strong supporter of breweries that put out variety packs as this is a wonderful way to sample a lot of different beers without having to buy an entire 6-pack to try a new one. Seeing how I've only tried one brew from Twisted Pine before, I was anxious to sample their beers. The first brew out of the box was their Twisted Pine American Amber Ale.

I chose this beer to drink on September 11th in honor of the victims of 9/11/2001. This beer poured a true amber color and had a decent near white head that seemed to stick around for a long time. This beer appeared very clear and had a mild visible carbonation. The American Amber had a sweet malty aroma with a mild citrus and spicy hop scent. The smell was just perfect for this style. I believe this to be from Cascade hops but can't be sure.

The first taste was lightly hoppy that mixed well with the sweet caramel malts. Mmm. I really liked the taste of this brew. It reminded me a bit of Bell's Amber that I had back in Michigan earlier this year. This amber seemed to have more of a hoppier kick than other ambers I've had, but that's a good thing. Certainly not as hoppy as an IPA but enough to let you fully enjoy the aroma and bittering effect.

This beer was better than I expected. Sometimes an amber ale is just average and nothing special, but this brew seemed to stand out a bit. Very well done! I'd drink this brew again in an instant. It's low in alcohol (probably between 4.5 - 5.5% ABV) and would make an excellent session beer. I'll give this beer a fine salute and a nice 3.4 out of 5 rating.

The only downside I have on this beer is that it came with a twist off cap. For me, this means I can't re-use this bottle for my upcoming homebrew sessions. Ah well, time to make another recycle pile in my garage.

Related articles:
- Twisted Pine rolls out Vanilla Chocolate Porter.
- The Northstar goes vertical at Twisted Pine.

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Monday, September 15, 2008

Crabtree Brewing hosts HarvestFest 08

(Reposted from Examiner.com) Not all beer festivals are large, in fact some of the best ones are little known, small and out of the way. Wanna know a little secret? There's going to be a open party up in Greeley on Saturday, September 20th and you're all invited.

Each year at the Crabtree Brewery in Greeley Colorado, head brewer Jeff Crabtree holds two special events. One in the spring and one in the fall. In April, the brewery puts on Springfest and in the fall they host HarvestFest. This year at third annual HarvestFest '08, Crabtree Brewing will be hosting three live bands that will play music well into the night as well as serving up some of the best brews this side of Denver.

For only a $5 cover charge, you can get in to the festival and enjoy the music, play a little billiards, get a chance to taste some of the best hot wings in town and sample some fine Crabtree brews. Everyone who attends the festival will receive a free limited edition pint glass to take with you as a souvenir. You must be 21+ to enter the festival. HarvestFest '08 runs from 4pm to 11pm. Come early to get a close in parking spot.

According to Jeff Crabtree, the event has been growing by 150 people each year since they opened for business in 2006. The Springfest in April hosted 500 people alone. Next week's HarvestFest will be even bigger. This is an opportunity for the community to get to know their local brewer and for the brewery to celebrate with their fans.

The bands highlighted are: Throw Away Chelsi, The Visitors, and the headliners: Ben Pu and Crew. Ben Pu and Crew are known as an energetic band that is loved so much they are asked to come back and play at each event at Crabtree Brewing.

Finding the brewery may be a little tough as they are hidden on the northeast side of Greeley. To get to Greeley from the west, get off I-25 and head east on US 34 and veer off on 10th Street and go through town to 6th Avenue, then turn left heading north 7 blocks to 3rd Street and turn left. The brewery is at the end of 3rd street just before the railroad tracks. Or from the south, you can take US 85 and get off on 8th Avenue and head north to 10th Street. Use this map to find the brewery.

Crabtree Brewery is hoping that a lot of people will attend this festival and get to know their beers. Just this month, Crabtree debuted a brand new beer - their CBC Blonde Ale. It's an easy drinking light ale that's just right for an afternoon BBQ or to watch a game with.

Other featured Crabtree brews:
- Jeff's Pale Ale
- Serenity Amber Ale
- Twisted Creek Wheat
- Oil Change Stout
- Ginger Bee Ale
- Boxcar Brown

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Sunday, September 14, 2008

Russian River Blind Pig IPA - Review

All this talk of dieting makes me thirsty. Despite cutting back on food I'm certainly not slacking on my enjoyment of regional craft beer. This week I opened up a bottle of Russian River's Blind Pig IPA. I've been looking forward to this bottle for about 2 1/2 weeks now ever since the big beer run to DaveCo liquors. The Blind Pig is one of three Russian River beers that are now sold here in Colorado since the end of August. Like it's brother, Pliny the Elder, this bottle warns you not to age this beer. Russian River believes that in order to fully enjoy the big flavor of this beer that it be consumed promptly while all the ingredients are fresh. Who am I to argue that?

The brew pours a light copper or mostly orange in color and comes with a white frothy head. The beer itself is not exactly clear as within my glass I could see hundreds of tiny suspended particulates in the brew. At first I thought they were bubbles but they didn't move around and just sat there suspended in the beer. Perhaps this brew is unfiltered or rather it was bottle conditioned and it was merely some leftover yeast. There was very little (if any) lacing that stuck to the glass.

The label is marked with the date it was bottled (July 22, 2008) and I sampled this on September 12, 2008. So just less than 2 months old. As I poured this beer I could really smell the big piney / citrusy aroma. Mmmm it smelled wonderful. So how's the taste?

Ooooh ya. The 1st taste was hoppy, malty and very smooth. It wasn't dry and wet my mouth very well. This was an excellent example of an American IPA. It was flavorful but not over the top. Russian River went for quality and not quantity here. I really can't say anything bad about this brew. I enjoyed this beer just as much as Pliny the Elder. It has about 6.1% ABV and a nice high IBU rating. It's just about right to drink a couple of bottles of this in a session.

Again, this beer, like Pliny, comes in a 16oz bottle. I love this size as 12oz probably would leave me asking for more. I really enjoyed this beer and look forward to buying this again in the near future. I'll give this beer a big thumbs up and a nice 3.5 out of 5 ranking.

Related articles:
- Pliny the Elder review.
- Colorado celebrates Russian River day.
- Collaboration Not Litigation Ale - Review.

Read the full article here...

GABDC Week 4 update

The final weigh-inHere's a quick update on my progress in the Great American Beer Diet Challenge. Today marks the end of the 4th week of trying to lose weight. I must say that I have been a complete slacker when it has come to exercise. Still, I've been doing my best to watch my food intake and that has been my only saving grace this last 2 weeks. I stepped on my Wii Fit today and it kidded me that it forgot who I was since I hadn't worked out in 2 weeks. But when it measured me, it told me that I had lost another 1.1 pounds.

The bathroom scale blinked a surprising 186 at me today. I got on and off of it multiple times and each time the reading came back the same. So, I'll officially call my weight for the week at 186 pounds. That is 1 pound less than last week and 6 pounds less than when the competition began. Unofficially, I'm 10 pounds less than when I got the idea and 19 pounds less than from my heaviest weight (205).

So Beerbuddha and James, I've given you guys all the slack I'm going to give you. Hope you took advantage of my laziness over the past two weeks and have shed the pounds.

I'm back to my regular amount of beer intake (1 bottle per day) and believe me, my taste for beer isn't light weight. Just last night I had a nice 22oz bottle of Fort Collins Brewery's Double Chocolate Stout. It was a nice hefty full calorie brew that I am sure will stick with me for a while.

So there you have it. Slacker or not, I continue to lose weight ever so slowly. At this rate I might be around 182 in time for the Great American Beer Festival. Then again, I might just fall off the bandwagon and zoom back up to 190. You never know.

Related articles:
- The Great American Beer Diet Challenge.
- Week 1 update.
- Week 2 update.
- Week 3 update.

This article came from FermentedlyChallenged.com - a Colorado beer blog. Don't miss another article. Subscribe to Fermentedly Challenged by RSS today.

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Friday, September 12, 2008

Sea Dog Raspberry Wheat and Lakefront Pumpkin Lager

I've been going through my beer inventory and remembered that I pulled up some single bottles of random beers that I exchanged with my good friends Eli Shayotovich and Erik Boles during our big beer run to DaveCo a couple of weeks ago. Some of these beers I had never heard of but was in the mood to give them a try. So here are a couple of quick reviews of the brews that are a bit off the wall.

Sea Dog Raspberry Wheat

Sea Dog Raspberry WheatSea Dog Brewing Company is a beer company from Portland, Maine. During a swap, I traded a bottle of Left Hand Oktoberfest for their Sea Dog Raspberry Wheat. The Sea Dog poured a reddish-copper color with a tall white head that quickly dissolved into nothing. This brew was moderately carbonated. It had a mild piney wheat aroma but I couldn't really pick up that much raspberry in the nose. It didn't taste like other wheat beers I've had, this was a bit more funky. It initially reminded me of wet cardboard with a raspberry after thought.

Later as it warmed, it had a very sweet taste but left me wanting something more at the end. The brew uses essence of raspberry instead of real raspberries and it tasted a bit artificial. The beer itself looked like a glass of wine after the head disappeared. The taste grows on you after the whole 12oz bottle but I don't believe this one will make my re-buy list. It's ok. If I was more of a wheat beer lover it may have passed but for me, it's just mildly makes the grade. I'll give it a 2.9 out of 5 rating and a thumb sideways rating.

Lakefront Brewing Pumpkin Lager

Lakefront Pumpkin LagerNotice the name of this beer says "Lager" and not "Ale". That is the big distinction here for this Lakefront Brewing's Pumpkin Lager brew. This is one of the nation's oldest running Pumpkin beers on the market. My local liquor store had a stack of this out front and was the only pumpkin beer they had in stock. Since it is the Fall season and I've never had a pumpkin beer before, I thought I'd give the Pumpkin Lager a try. Most all other pumpkin beers are Ales not Lagers, so perhaps this one will be a bit different. Understatement. This beer IS different.

You are immediately hit with a big spicy nose. I got hints of cinnamon, all spice and of course pumpkin. It's a big sweet in the nose yet real spicy at the same time. It pours orange (as you'd expect) and has a near white head. The taste was nothing like I imagined. I was expecting something like pumpkin pie, but it was hoppy, spicy, funky, pumpkin and malty all at the same time. I initially had a look of concern on my face after tasting it for the first time. Different and definitely not your typical brew. I managed to finish the glass but was wondering if I'd really ever want 2 of these in a row. Probably not. It's good as a big change of pace beer. If you've never had one you should at least try a pumpkin beer. I still have a few of these left and will try to drink these down between my other brews. I'll give it an "OK" but not gonna rave about it much. It gets a 2.7 out of 5 rating and a caution sign.

OK - Let's hear from you!

Have you ever had a seasonal brew that was just really different? What drew you to try it? Was the beer worth it? I'd like to hear about your off the wall beer tastings.

Related articles:
- Crabtree Twisted Creek Wheat review.
- Rockyard Buddha Nuvo review (Pumpkin Saison)
- Tommyknocker Jack Whacker Wheat Ale review.

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Seasonal beers released from Odell Brewing

Odell BrewingWith the coming of September come the news of fresh releases of seasonal beers from local breweries. Odell Brewing Company of Fort Collins announced that their Extra Special Red Ale has just been brewed and is now available for sale now through December. Extra Special Red is a stronger brew measured at 8.0% ABV and hopped in at 50 IBUs.

Coming next month from Odell's is their Isolation Ale. This brew is their traditional winter ale that are made with premium malts from England. This brew is lower in alcohol than the Extra Special Red and weighs in at 6.0% ABV and with 25 IBUs. The brew becomes available fresh again on October 1st.

For those in the area, the Odell Brewing taproom is now pouring these fine brews:

Extra Special Red, Double Pilsner, Prenup Pilsner, Nitro Levity, British Gold, Nitro Cutthroat Porter, Pilot Red, and cask conditioned Cup of Joe (Brazilian Coffee Stout).

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Avery Kaiser Imperial Oktoberfest review

Avery Kaiser Imperial OktoberfestHappy Oktoberfest season everyone! This is a most exciting time of year when many of harvest time ales start hitting the shelves and we start putting away the lighter summer time brews and switch to a more flavorful batch of brews. I saw this new bottle at the store and just had to pick it up.

This is another of Avery Brewing Company's seasonal fare and I normally jump at the chance to try their latest batch. Today's review is of their 2008 release of The Kaiser - Imperial Oktoberfest. The beer comes with a foil wrap and has a picture of Kaiser Wilhelm II in his military uniform and pointy hat. I've had Oktoberfest brews before but not an Imperial one, so I had to try it.

This 22oz bottle weighs in at a hefty 10.03% ABV, a bit higher than previous years. This lager pours a dark orange / copper color and had a nice big off white head. It poured clear in my 18oz tall pilsner glass. I noticed a constant multiple bubble stream coming up from the bottom of the glass and it looks adequately carbonated. The head left a small distinct lacing down the glass.

The brew has a sweet hop aroma. It was floral with the noble hops and medium roasted malts. It almost reminded me of a Belgian brew. Avery put in 4 kinds of German hops and a few European malts in this brew. The IBU rating is only 24 but you do notice the hops.

I enjoyed the sweet malty taste. The alcohol was not as overpowering as you might think, but make no mistake, it will creep up on you by the end of the bottle. This is a full bodied beer, not light or watery.

I was eating some spicy Oriental orange chicken from Panda Express along with this beer. The chicken was a tad on the hot side and the beer simply accentuated the burn, but it was a nice effect.

Another thing I like about this beer is that it burps well. The flavor of the malt and hops really come out when you burp out through your nose. Don't believe me? Try it, you'll see!

This was a darn good brew and matched my meal perfectly. I'd certainly buy this beer again and would recommend this as a great seasonal brew. It's on available through the end of the year. I'll give it a decent 3.4 out of 5 rating. Jawohl! Dies ist ein ausgezeichnet Bier!

Have you tried this brew? What did you think of it. If you've heard of any other imperial Oktoberfest beers that you liked, let us know. Post a comment below! Thanks.

Related articles:
- Avery White Rascal review.
- Avery Salvation review.
- Avery Hog Heaven review.
- Avery The Czar Imperial Stout review.

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Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Stone Oaked Arrogant Bastard Ale review

Stone Oaked Arrogant BastardIt's time to revisit one of my favorite California breweries. During one of my most recent beer runs, I managed to pick up a bottle of Stone Brewing Company's popular American Strong Ale. I've had their Arrogant Bastard Ale before but this wasn't it, instead it was their Stone Oaked Arrogant Bastard Ale, the same ale aged with oak chips. Oak treated beers change a beer dynamics. It can mellow strong hops over time and give the ale added flavors imparted from the wood.

Before sampling the Oaked Arrogant Bastard (OAB), I pulled up the tasting notes I had on the regular non-oaked version. I wanted to compare the two as much as possible only I'd have to do it from memory. I haven't had the regular version since last March.

Appearance: The OAB poured with a big frothy tan head and left a light lacing on the side of the tulip glass. The bottle was just 12oz but it barely fit into my glass. The beer appears dark with crimson overtones. Very similar to the regular brand. The beer was cold out of the fridge and I knew I'd have to let it breathe a little bit before being able to get the full taste and aroma.

Aroma: The initial aroma was of subdued hops. It had a very slight oaky smell but it was hard to pick out at first. The more the beer warmed, the more the aroma came out. Later on I could detect a nice dark roasted malt aroma with some brandy-like traces. The smell comes out best when you swirl the beer around in the glass. Be sure to leave adequate room in the glass for swirling else you risk not being able to detect the full aroma.

Taste: The first taste seemed more "tame" than the original. It had a rich, full mouth feel with moderate carbonation. It felt somewhat creamy on the tongue and initially left a bitter finish when cold. It was nice and malty but not sweet at all. My initial thoughts were that I'd need to have 2 bottles of this beer to fully appreciate it, but later on as it warmed the beer really came to life.

I've had a few other brews that have been treated with oak or stored in oak barrels. This one was only moderately conditioned with oak chips but it made it's mark well. I felt this was a slightly better beer than the original. The wood imparted some nice flavors that weren't over done.

Overall: By the end of the glass, I was wishing I had another despite it being high in alcohol content (7.2% ABV). The IBU's may be off the wall on this beer but the oak chips control the bitterness well. This is a beer I'd love to have again. I'm going to give it a thumbs up. It IS worthy. It gets a 3.5 out of 5 rating from me.

Related articles:
- Brew review - Arrogant Bastard Ale.
- Stone Imperial Russian Stout.
- Stone Ruination IPA at Choice City.

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Sunday, September 7, 2008

Russian River Pliny the Elder review

Russian River Pliny the ElderIt's been a long time coming to Colorado. Not since the 2007 Great American Beer Festival has this brew been available to the public here in Colorado. And now it's officially here on a full time basis. As of the mid-August, Russian River Brewing Company is now shipping three of it's beers in bottles and kegs to Colorado: Blind Pig, Damnation and the ever popular Pliny the Elder. During a recent beer run I spied all three R.R. brews in stock and grabbed some for myself. The first review will be of Russian River Pliny the Elder.

Up until now, the only Russian River brew that has been available in this state at the local liquor stores was a mixed brew called "Collaboration Not Litigation Ale" that was a blend of R.R.'s Salvation and Avery Brewing Company's Salvation. But recently in 2008, Russian River's brewery under went an expansion and a big new bottling line was opened up and three of Russian River's brews have found their way to a couple other states including Oregon and Colorado. I jumped at the chance to try this beer as I wanted to see what all the excitement was all about.

Pliny is officially branded as a double IPA. It weighs in with a hefty 8.0% ABV and a very high IBU rating of 100. You know just from reading the description that this brew is going to be a big hop bomb. And that's ok because I've developed a taste for these hefty hop brews this year and love the strong aromas and bitterness that is imparted.

Appearance: As you can see from the picture above, Pliny the Elder pours a nice rich copper color and builds a massive near-white head. Pliny comes in a 16oz (pint) bottle and is just perfect for a solo consumption or for perhaps two people who want to sample it but not at a full glass. I noticed a lot of carbonation in the glass and saw some big "soap bubbles" remaining in the bottle after pouring. This bottle must have been bottle carbonated although I did not detect any sediment left over in the bottle.

Aroma: Right out of the bottle you can smell this wonderful and strong piney & citrusy aroma. Wow. There are a lot of hops in this brew! The head seems to stick around a bit and leaves a nice white lacing down the glass.

Mouthfeel: The carbonation wasn't too strong and left a rich mouth feel.

Taste: The hops dominate the taste. It's piney yet goes down real smooth. This brew is not for the uninitiated to the big hop brew world. I'd suggest training your palate for bitter hoppy brews ahead of time before judging this one. For me, it has just a wonderful bouquet and a taste that matches the aroma.

I'd love to try to compare this brew side by side with Dogfish Head's 90 Minute IPA as I remember I loved that DIPA also. This brew is probably a bit more bitter than the Dogfish Head brew but I ended up enjoying this one nearly as much.

The label on the bottle warns you NOT to age this beer as the effect of aging would tend to diminish the hoppy goodness of this brew. I'd agree with that, I'd hate to tone down the hoppiness on this brew and would want to enjoy it at full strength.

Perhaps I had named this beer myself I would have named it Piney instead of Pliny as the aroma reminded me of a very fragrant pine forest. Definitely a brew that I'd want to try again. While this is a very excellent brew, it's something that I'd want to drink in moderation. Don't try to drink this beer 1st and then something less hoppy later as Pliny will overload your senses with hops and may mask any other brew you're trying to drink.

Overall: I'm giving this beer a hefty thumbs up and a respectable 4.0 out of 5 rating. I suggest grabbing these beers when they are in stock as this is a popular beer. They tend to go quickly during these first few months of release here in Colorado. Here in 2008, a 16-oz bottle sold for $4.49. Bet the price shoots up in the years to come.

Related articles:
- Russian River Blind Pig IPA.
- More Russian River beers coming to Colorado. (2009)
- Russian River coming to Colorado. (2008)

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GABDC Week 3 update

Here is a quick update on my progress for the Great American Beer Diet Challenge after the 3rd week. I admit I've been a very bad boy this week and didn't exercise at all. My health is still recovering as the coughing and congestion are still lingering. Despite all of my laziness this last week, I weighed in a 187 pounds. That is officially 6 pounds lighter than when I started 3 weeks ago and down 18 pounds from my heaviest point in the summer.

I've not given up the beer however. After all, that's the whole point is to try to lose weight while still enjoying a craft beer a day. The brews I've sampled this week are: Left Hand Oktoberfest, North Coast Red Seal Ale, Rogue Dead Guy Ale, and Pliny the Elder.

I'm hoping (but Dave remember hope won't do it alone) that I get back into my regular exercise routine this week and can build up my strength again and continue pressing on down to 175 pounds or so. It would really be nice to get back to my weight when I was in my early 30's. I'm in need of some hard core encouragement to keep the weight loss going.

Considering I've been married for 26 years and that men typically put on 1 pound of weight per year of marriage, I'm doing pretty well. I was about 170 pounds when I got married. While I doubt I'll get back to 170, I at least want to dip down into the 170s again.

There is still another 5 weeks left before the Great American Beer Festival. That is the time that this contest will officially come to an end. I'd better get at it. I think Beer Buddha is going to beat us all (percentage wise) unless of course the evacuation from hurricane Gustav stopped his progress.

Time to chime in Buddha and James! Let's hear how you're doing.

Related articles:
- The original challenge post.
- After week 1.
- After week 2.
- The final destination.

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Thursday, September 4, 2008

Oskar Blues hosts 2nd annual Osktoberfest

Oskar Blues is debuting a new Oktoberfest beer this weekend during their annual Osktoberfest on Saturday, September 6th at their restaurant / brewery in Lyons, CO.

$10 gets you all you can eat plus live music. This is just one of nearly a half dozen beer festivals this weekend. Come join in the fun.

If you want to find out about more events like this, I suggest visiting as many local brewery websites as possible and subscribing to their newsletters. Those newsletters can provide some valuable information about local events and beers!

More festivals on the 2008 Colorado Beer Festivals page.

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Dark beer season returns!

Dark Beer seasonThat's it! I can no longer wait any longer. The calendar says Fall and the thermometer is quickly dipping into the 40's at night and that can only mean one thing. It's dark beer season again!

If you're like me, you've been stockpiling dark brews for a while now and have waited for the 90 degree heat to go away. The Fall and football season is usually all the excuse I need to pop open those wonderful stouts and porters.

Some of you may say, "now hold on, what about Oktoberfest season with all those yummy German lagers and pumpkin ales?" Yes, yes, I haven't forgotten those either. Just the other day I was caught drinking a Left Hand Brewing's Oktoberfest fresh from the store. I won't completely forget about those beers and still look forward to tossing back a few glasses of the harvest style ales & lagers. But! I'm also opening the doors to the dark side as well.

Many of the good folks over on the social media sites know me for my love of the dark brew. I tend to go into withdraws of the dark ales come the May time frame. And for the next 4 months or so, I put away my desire for those roastier brew and favor the lighter side. You know, summer seasonals, wheat beers, pilsners, etc.

But let's face it. Summer's over! The kids are back in school, the NFL kicks off tonight, fantasy football leagues are in full swing and my beer cellar is once again stocked with stouts.

I like to kick off the dark beer season with a nice Great Divide Yeti Imperial Stout. This wonderlicious dark brew is a hefty 9.2% ABV and is as dark as an Alaskan winter night. I poured one into my handy snifter glass and relished at the dark roasty, coffee like aromas. Mmmm, that sure hit the spot. Oh how I missed you dark brew!

So rejoice dark beer lovers. The long summer heat is over. Time to stock up on the dark brew and embrace the dark side once again!

Related articles:
- Woodcut Oak Aged Beer.
- Beer Cellar Aging.
- Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout.
- Goose Island Bourbon County Stout review.
- Samuel Adams Imperial Stout review.

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Monday, September 1, 2008

Fantasy Football and Beer

Fantasy Football Draft desk
Come September a man's fancy (as well as many womens' fancy) turns to none other than fantasy football and beer. This year we've really combined the two together well. Today, ten bold craft beer fanatics from The Aleuminati - the (not so) secret society of better beer drinkers gathered today, got together via the Internet to challenge each other to a wild and wacky season of fantasy football. The stakes were simple. Each of us wagered a 6-pack of craft beer each to go to the league champion at the end of the year. The league winner would be stocked up well for the winter.

The photo above shows my Draft Central. My desk was filled with notes, schedules, stats, plenty of craft beer, my favorite web sites and more beer. I figured I had done my homework and was ready to go. But nothing really prepares you for the anxiety of being on the clock and you begin to second guess yourself. Better have another beer.
top 3 or 4 Running Back or perhaps go with the top Quarterback or Wide Receiver.

Our league has 10 teams and I pulled the 4th overall pick in the 1st round. I knew that anything could happen so I didn't really pre-select any players ahead of time other than who I might select in the 1st round depending on which pick I got. With the 4th pick I figured I had a chance to get a
Welcome to the frenzied world of fantasy football. It's been a tradition for me each year ever since the mid 1980's. I've been involved in at least 1 or 2 fantasy leagues for the last 20+ years. Why do I do it? It's only way to ensure yourself that no matter what game that is showing on TV there's bound to be at least 1 or more players that you're following or playing against.

I'm a firm believer that if it wasn't for fantasy football, the NFL would have been struggling to survive years ago. This has been one of the greatest recreational inventions of modern man. That and good craft beer. The two just go together. I certainly enjoyed a brew or two during the fast 45-minute draft. I managed to kill off a North Coast Red Seal Ale, a Left Hand Oktoberfest Marzen Lager, and a stand-by New Belgium Somersault. It helped make draft day that much more enjoyable although after a while my picks may have been influenced by the beers I drank.

After the draft was over, I evaluated my newly drafted team and decided to give myself a B- for the draft. While I picked up a great Running Back, Quarterback and Wide Receiver in the early rounds, I failed to get a great crop of receivers along the way. I ended up making a questionable pick or two in the middle rounds due to missing the fact that a certain receiver had already been picked and I missed it. Once I realized that I only had 15 seconds to find another replacement and ended up picking a receiver that I really didn't want.

Ah well, that's fantasy football for ya. Come prepared or prepare to get your butt kicked!

What about you?

How many of my loyal readers play fantasy football? What kind of league to you play in? If you've never tried fantasy football, would you ever consider it?

Well, I've got another draft day tomorrow. I think I should be able to improve on this team a bit. Just gotta remember to keep an eye on the Bye weeks and not get caught up too much in the smack talk during the draft. Cheers!

Post season update: I finished 2nd place and lost out in the league championship. That's football for ya!

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