Two separate, approx. (what looked liked) 10-12 oz pours (in undersize Duvel glasses) at The Lodge, Hilton Head Island, SC.
I had heard a little about Mexican Cake but would never have sought it out as such. Anyway, strolling into The Lodge at 4.00 PM on a Saturday afternoon I see that they have it on, and since it was one of only three beers on their list that I have never tried, I thought that it made sense – after all, it was right there in front of me, and Westbrook is such a feature for me when I am on the island these days.
Mexican Cake at The Lodge, HHI, SC
Pour is standard for the style. Jet black body, with a light mocha, orangey head. The head is sustained sufficiently for the ABV and the lace is light.
The beer offers some simple chocolate based nose which also renders itself in the initial tastes. It also has a high solvent character for me, and the alcohol burns a little. Having said that, paradoxically perhaps, it seems to act within the paramters of 10.5% ABV, and coupled with a relatively thin mouthfeel, the beer is surprisingly drinkable for such a beast.
For me there is no hint of heat or peppery spice. Maybe the solvent alcohol that I pick up, is my palates way of telling me that there is a habanero burn, but for me this does not register on the heat scale at all. A chile beer, this is most definitely, not.
On warming some more of the cocoa/chocolate element starts to come through, but once again I don’t feel a spice character in any manner.
Typical mocha head
In the final analysis is this nothing more than an entirely competent, slightly solvent based, American Double/Imperial Stout. Don’t get me wrong, for the style, and if you are in the mood for such things (which I seldom am these days), then this is going to do the job and probably make you quite happy. However, is it the next coming? No.
Of course the hysterical hype is hardly the fault of ‘Mexican Cake, the beer’, but I sometimes wonder about this style. Even many years after the early ‘craft’ days of this current American round, this style still is the one that manages to self-generate and hang on to the most insanity and nonsense. Mexican Cake, whilst although being ‘good’, is just the bazillionth beer in the style that is NOT all it’s cracked up to be.
Other: American Double Stout/Imperial Stout, 10.5% ABV.
I have not spoken to Bob Sandage about ‘Ding‘, so I cannot comment on its origin with any degree of certainty, but here is what appears to have happened.
Recently Bob went to England for a short visit where he was exposed to some classic, English Bitters. His trip happened to coincide as our argument/discussion about the characterization of cask beer in America was coming to a head, and as a result of those two events, he decided to brew Ding, The English Bitter. If that’s inaccurate, my apologies to Bob and I invite him to chime in and correct me.
Ding on the board
Lots of people have asked me how I feel about Ding. Is it a compliment? Is it a gentle jab? Is he mocking me? Am I flattered? Am I insulted? In truth I have mixed feelings. I suppose it is nice/important to be recognized as forming some part of the greater Atlanta beer community, but in all honestly, if the abuse of cask ale continues in the US, then frankly I have no use for such things. For me, any discussion about Ding isn’t really about the beer itself, rather it’s about a whole nation being misled about the nature of cask beer – the fight goes on.
As we continue to fight over this, somebody (not sure if it is Bob or not) using the Wrecking Bar Twitter account said;
As people that really know me understand, this is not a trivial matter for me. A cultural connection to what amounts to a fundamental part of who I am, is obviously something that goes deep, and the gross, and IMO abusive, mischaracterization of cask ale in the USA, is something that I take personally. It actually makes me sad – LITERALLY.
Ding on the wall
OK, back to Ding, the beer. It should be noted that these notes are on the keg, NOT the cask although I was offered a ‘blood orange’ infused (cask I *think*) version, which I rejected out of hand, found ‘offensive’, and it has to be said somewhat spoiled my Ding experience that day.
The pour is a slightly disappointing one. It resembles what has come to be know as a ‘Golden Ale’ in the UK in recent years. To be honest, I am a little out of touch, but the rise in the popularity of the Golden Ale ‘style’ at home seems to have taken place only in the last 10 years or so. To me, the Golden Ale genre has all the hallmarks of a ‘dumbed down’ bitter, perhaps using the lighter color and the word ‘Golden’ to attract drinkers that would otherwise not be especially interested. A UK version of a beer marketing campaign. I intend to get ot the bottom of Golden Ales – emails are in to those in the know.
Ding on the menu
A light, golden orange body, with some wispy head and a little, scant, watery lace sits underneath virtually zero head.
No significant aroma based on the initial temperature, but happily this changes with time and with warmth, bringing some simple malts and a gentle grassiness. First tastes offer some very light biscuit notes. The beer breaks nicely across the tongue. Light, but decent jabbing bitterness at the edges and at the rear of the tongue. The biscuit nature is a crucial part of any beer even close to this genre, and there is what I would call a sweet version of Digestive biscuits present. It’s not classic, but it’s definitely recognizable and pleasing. Moreishness, another crucial quality in a beer like Ding, is also there.
Ding on the tab
Aftertastes are quite dry (surprisingly so given the initial flavor), with a little metallic, copper coinage going on. Having said that, the dry character and the lingering notes come and go, and seems to be alternately more round & biscuity, then conversely more grassy & dry – a little odd, and I cannot quite get a handle on it. The beer feels a touch organic to boot, with a whiff of hay here and there. Like most beers of its type, it would take days, weeks, months or even years to get fully acquainted with, and to ultimately fall in love with, but after this initial meeting I would be happy to go on a second date – I hope that I get a chance to do so in the future.
In the final analysis this isn’t bad at all, and I’d happily drink a few more pints without complaint. i’m not sure whether I should be flattered or insulted, but I guess the truth is somewhere in between. As I say above, the principle is far greater than the gesture (good OR bad) or even this particular beer. Ultimately, I feel indifferent to the whole saga but not to the plight (and I use the word deliberately) of cask ale in the USA.
I’ve had very little exposure and experience with Back Forty beers, but when I did, I thought they were incredibly average. This is the first one that has made it across the border to GA, and predictably a DIPA. 22 oz bomber, cost me $4.99 I think. Best By 08/12/13.
Whether this is an American IPA or an American DIPA is largely irrelevant I feel, since with the level of bitterness that we encounter and the ABV, there is no way that I could categorize this as anything other than ‘American’, or ‘Double’.
Pour is a standard and attractive one, with some solid golden orange color, a medium thick, sticky bone-white head, and some retention and lace. Good start.
Love me some Ommegang, but even before I open the tin or the bottle I feel that the price here is unlikely to be kind in terms of value. We’ll see.
The corked and caged bottle opens with a modest pop and only a touch of gun-smoke. Pour is a dark chestnut brown that borders on black. There is a lovely mocha head that is deep and pitted, but it doesn’t last long at all. A shame, since this was set up to be a real treat on the eye.
Well that was fun. Actually it was surprisingly uneventful, but four interesting things came out of it.
Firstly I was surprised that I didn’t lose any Twitter followers, at least I didn’t lose any when considering the net numbers. In fact, actually there was a net gain. Given that I was obviously way over my normal tweet quota for ranting about @sessionbeer with 171 tweets yesterday,
I thought there would be some drop-off. Apparently not.
So, it’s here again, #sessionbeerday, this time on Sunday, April 7th, 2013.
Mmmm, well it wouldn’t be right for me to let the 2013 ‘event’* pass without comment (here’s 2012′s session beer day post), so here we go with the 2013 rendition of my thoughts. Before you read on, you really should read my definitive post on session beer. That post will give you the basis and the foundation of my position on session beer, and you should always bear that in mind and refer to it, when reading anything that I write subsequently on the subject.
*The very fact that this is an ‘event’ is hugely problematic to me, and part of the problem, but like so many other things, that’s an entirely separate post altogether.
OK, back to 2013. The Session Beer campaign is basically led by Lew Bryson here in the USA, with support from people like Chris Lohring at Notch Brewing, and this year @untappd has joined the fray with a badge. Woo Hoo! I’ll save the rant on @untappd badges for another post, but suffice to say this will raise the profile of ‘beer of 4,5% and under‘ (BUT NOT@sessionbeer) in the USA for 10 seconds, as the @untappd tickers go mad for their virtual recognition (which presumably replaces real-life recognition for many of them).
Lew has, with some logical reasoning, decided to put the ABV limit at 4.5%. Continue Reading →
So what do we have here? Apparently it’s a Lager, and 5 seconds research tell us it’s a Doppelbock, or at least an amped-up version of the classic Brooklyn Lager – not entirely sure they are the same thing, but hey, that’s what Brooklyn seem to be going with. Here’s the official word from Brooklyn.
$13.99 for the corked & caged 750 mL bottle. Bottle- conditioned. This bottle has the Breathing Head label by Fred Tomaselli, but apparently there will be others during 2013.
Big thanks go out to Lee for providing me with the original bottle of this back in 2012. That bottle was cracked open on vacation in Hilton Head, SC in summer of 2012. The height of relaxation for me these days.
Le Petit Prince
This review is a combination of two separate tastings, the second one being a bottle that I purchased from the Greenville Beer Exchange in Greenville, SC in March of 2013, about 9 months after my original notes. I paid $6.49 for the 750 mL bottle.
I hold my hand up here and admit that I screwed up.
The thought of Golden Monkey aged in white wine barrels was definitely something that I would be very interested in. I tend to gravitate toward some of the white wine options for barrel aging, and Golden Monkey strikes me as beer that would do well, and be suited to such a treatment. However, I failed to read the label correctly, or do the research properly, and when I found that we were talking about oak here, my heart immediately sank.
Victory Brewing, White Monkey
Oak in beer I can pretty much universally do without, so I had I been paying closer attention I would have most likely passed on White Monkey. Anyway, I didn’t, and at $7.99 for the 750 mL bottle it’s not exactly the end of the world, so press on we must. Apparently this has spent 3 months adjacent to the oak.
Dammit. Enjoy by 04.01.13 – that means that once the 4th of January has passed this is going downhill. Oh, hang on, this is America, so actually that’s April 1st. A joke? Maybe, but either way you’re hardly likely to confuse this beer with anything out of the UK!
More hype in the beer community for this and my expectations are for competence and no more. I paid $6.99 for the 22 oz bomber, this is another beer that is frankly terrible value.
Pour is a lovely bright orange one with some nice clarity. Plenty of bone-white head, with some nice retention and lace. Looks good.