Wednesday, December 1, 2010

10 holidays gifts for the beer connoisseur

Magazine subscription: There are a fair number of magazines about beer currently available, everything from trade publications for professionals in the brewing industry to home brewers to those who just like the last of a good beer.

Beer of the month club: You've heard about month clubs, right? Basically, you buy a membership into one of these clubs and then once a month or every few months the club will ship you a variety of goods. There are cake clubs, movie clubs, cigar clubs ... you get the idea. For our purposes of this list, we're talking about beer clubs. Yep, you can give the gift that keeps on giving all year long by buying a beer of the month club membership for your favorite beer nut. This way, every so often your beer friend will get a chance to try a variety of different beers. There are many different types of beer of the month clubs, so pick the one you think works best for your budget and your beer pal.

Personalized beer labels: Ever want a bottle of beer that has your own name on it? Or maybe the name of a beer friend, or a special date worth remembering? If so, you actually can get personalized beer label for bottles. Some labels even allow you to put your own pictures on them.

Beer glasses: No, I'm not talking about beer goggles. I'm talking about the kind of glasses you drink from. The best way to drink beer is from a glass, the taller the better, because it allows the aromas and textures of the brew to better reach the nose, which helps with the tasting. But you don't want just any old beer glasses as a gift, right? Maybe you want beer glasses that have the logo of your beer pal's favorite brew. If that's the case, than look no further than right here. All kinds of glasses and all kinds of labels.

Gift basket: That's right, there actually are beer gift baskets. What comes in a beer gift basket? Well, each basket is unique, so you might want to shop around. Some beer gift baskets will focus upon one nationality; for example, one basket might have a bunch of beers from Belgium (which is a country that makes great beer, by the way). Other baskets might focus upon a certain style of beer, such as stouts. Yet other baskets mix it up, providing all kinds of different beers. It's up to you to decide what you want.

E-books: With digital publishing taking off like crazy, more and more people are reading books on e-reading devices such as the Kindle, the Nook, on their computer, or through their cell phone or other options. So if your favorite book lover happens to have an e-reader, why not get them an e-book about beer for the holidays. Do a search on sites such as Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, etc. and you'll find all kinds of e-books about beer, from professional e-books about making beer to amateur e-books just chatting about beer, etc. The possibilities are nearly endless. And don't forget, you can always go for printed books, too.

Beer tube: What in the world is a beer tube? Imagine a small beer tap right on your own table. It looks kind of like a bong, what with that tall glass filled with beer and a little tapper sticking out. The beer tube holds 100 ounces of beer, so it's just right for parties and gatherings of friends. Also, they might go over well in a bar or restaurant, if your beer giftee happens to run such a place.

Home brewing kit: Most serious, experienced home brewers probably already have their own set-up in the basement, the garage, the kitchen, wherever. But everyone has to get started somehow. Perhaps you've got a beer buddy who is interested in brewing his or her own beers at home, but doesn't quite know how to get started. You can help. How? By gifting them a home brewing kit. Home brew kits come in many price ranges, from less than $50 to several hundred dollars and more. Each kit is different, and allows the home brewer to try different beers, so make sure your browse around first before picking out the kit you want.

Beer signs: Okay, maybe you don't have a beer buddy, but you have someone you know who appreciates little pieces of Americana, somewhat historical, trendy pop culturish items from the recent past. You need to get them a gift? How about a metal beer sign, one that looks like it comes out of the 1950s or some other part of America's earlier 20th Century?

Beer T-shirts: Okay, just about everyone wears T-shirts, and most folks won't mind a T-shirt that has something about beer on it, especially if it's a funny T-shirt. See, even if you don't know anyone who loves beer, you can still get them a beer present for the holidays.

More beer links

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Busch Light

Beer score: 2.9
Web site: Busch
This is a weaker and sweeter version of Busch beer. Don't worry, the fizz is still there if you want to burp. If you are broke and on a diet, this isn't a bad choice for you.


Beer score: 3.0
Web site: Busch
This beer tastes like it's supposed to - like a cheap beer. Still, I would suggest this beer over Budweiser if for no other reason than it's a good thirst quencher. This would make a good beer during the summer while you are mowing the yard (not that I'm suggesting you drink and operate machinery - have the beer when you're done). Also, the Busch and Natural Light beers from Anheuser-Busch have a little extra fizz, thus they make good burping beers (if you needed that information).

Budweiser American Ale

Beer score: 4.0
Web site: Budweiser American Ale
This is, without a doubt, the best of the beers from the Budweiser folks. Not that that's saying much. Very clean looking, and goes down smooth. The taste is ... eh, it's okay, but nothing too special. Lets your non-snob friends think they're drinking something special. Worth trying once, but that's about it. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of better beers available.


Beer score: 2.9
Web site: Budweiser
This is the most "typical" and "American" of all beers. That being said, this is also the beer by which all others are measured to some degree or other. Marketing has made this beer what it is, because there sure isn't enough taste to have done it. Weak at best. Goes well with truly American foods like hamburgers and pizza.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Bud Light Lime

Beer score: 3.5
Web site: Bud Light Lime
One of my higher ranking beers in the Budweiser genre of beers. Not that this is a great beer, but the lime flavor alone helps just a tad, dissolving some of that noxious bad beer flavor. This is a decent brew for really hot days, especially if you're working in the yard, but there are plenty of better options.

Bud Light

Beer score: 3.0
Web site: Bud Light
This is the light version of it's slightly weaker cousin, Budweiser. There isn't much taste here, but there is a little more fizz than in Budweiser, thus the slightly higher score (hey, at least there was more of something). If you're wanting a light beer because you are on a diet, you can't get much weaker or lighter than this.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Bud Ice Light

Beer score: 2.9
Web site: Anheuser-Busch
The most watered-down of all the Budweiser family. If you like weak beers, this is for you. There is less fizz than in Bud Light and less taste than any of the other Bud beers. Goes down easy because there isn't much to go down. Might be a decent beer with Italian food, though you might think you're drinking tap water.

Bud Ice

Beer score: 3.2
Web site: Anheuser-Busch
The Anheuser-Busch people keep remaking Budweiser every few years and this is one of their latest efforts. Apparently ice crystals are formed in this beer's finishing process and this adds to the taste - does this mean they just freeze a bunch of Budweiser, then let it thaw out? I don't know, but I do know the taste is stronger here than in other beers of the Budweiser family. My guess is this is closer to what Budweiser tasted like when it was first brewed in 1876. There is less fizziness here than in Bud Light. The taste is smooth. A good hot dog or bowling beer.

Bud Dry

Beer score: 3.4
Web site: Anheuser-Busch
Little fizz with a sweet flavor that is barely there. Yet one of many "typical" Bud beers. Has been retired. No surprise there.

Brooklyn Lager

Beer score: 8.2
Web site: Brooklyn Brewery
Fairly strong for a lager, especially one from the U.S. Has a smooth bitter quality and goes down wet and easy. What every lager should be.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Brooklyn East India Pale Ale

Beer score: 8.1
Web site: Brooklyn Brewery
One of the better IPAs available because it is wet, smooth and the fruity sourness often associated with IPAs is at a minimum here. The texture is a little heavy. Goes well with chili.

Brooklyn Brown Ale

Beer score: 6.1
Web site: Brooklyn Brewery
Sweet, sweet, sweet! Has a smooth burnt maple flavor and a touch of carbonation. A good brew, but not quite a great one; nothing for the Brooklyn Brewery of Brooklyn, New York, to be ashamed of.

Brewery Hill Centennial Lager

Beer score: 8.0
Web site: The Lion Brewery
A smooth, soft lager that reminds one of "blond" ales without as much carbonation. The light, layering sweetness is kind to your tongue and not overpowering at all. Apparently these people know how to make beer.

Sudwerk Hefe Weizen

Beer score: 5.7
Web site: Sudwerk
The folks who make this beer make it in Davis, California, but they also have a "Sudwerk Brewery and Grill" in Sacramento, California. This beer is wet with a fairly strong bitterness. Enjoyable, but not an overly special beer. Sorry.

Stroh's Light

Beer score: 1.9
Web site: Stroh's
Wet and weak with not as much carbonation as many light beers. The sourness in the aftertaste ruins this beer, but then what did you expect?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Brewery Hill Caramel Porter

Beer score: 8.1
Web site: The Lion Brewery
For those of you who want to taste the classic flavor of a burnt, caramel porter, you need go no further. This porter is strong without crossing the border over into a stout. Brewery Hill Brewing Co. of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania made this fine drink before becoming the Lion Brewery. This brew is retired, but possibly the Lion Brewery makes something similar. Anyone who knows, please let me know, because I loved this beer.

Breckenridge Brewery Strawberry Wheat

Beer score: 4.7
Web site: Breckenridge Brewery
Fruity with a little sweetness. Very wet but also very weak and flat. Wasn't as good as I'd hoped for, but not an awful brew.


Beer score: 5.1
Web site: Mythos Brewery
First tried this Greek beer at a Greek festival in Huntington, WV, where the food was fantastic. Normally I don't care much for Mediterranean beers, but this one's not bad. It's perfect for cooling you down on a hot summer day. However, it's not really anything overly special. Reminds me a little of Corona and other lighter brews, similar to a weak American pilsner or ale, but without as much carbonation. Try it.

Murphy's Irish Stout Draught

Beer score: 4.6
Web site: Murphy's
This drink comes from the Murphy's Brewery of Ireland and is shipped into the States by Heineken. Extremely weak for a stout. So weak, in fact, you could guzzle this beer (and stouts typically should not be guzzled). One of the wettest beers I've ever had. So wet it isn't frothy or fizzy - almost as if it's flat but without the dullness. Some burnt flavoring with a slight tea-like aftertaste. Not an exceptional beer, but worth trying and not all that bad.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Breckenridge Brewery Oatmeal Stout

Beer score: 8.7
Web site: Breckenridge Brewery
This stuff could give Guinness a run for its money. Thick like a stout should be, but still goes down smooth. Has a nice nutty, burnt flavor that isn't overly strong. One of the most drinkable stouts on the market. A little tasting lesson here: Stouts are better served a little warm (let's say no higher than 55 degree Fahrenheit). The flavor comes out better when stouts aren't ice cold; actually, this is true for most beers.


Beer score: 2.5
Web site: Stroh's
Pretty much a weak, American beer. Still, not a bad bar beer. The Stroh Brewery Company of Detroit, Michigan, puts out this stuff.

Murphy's Irish Amber

Beer score: 6.4
Web site: Murphy's
This stuff is brewed at Lady's Well Brewery in Cork, Ireland, by Murphy Brewery Ireland Ltd. Sweet with a touch of carbonation. You can drink this stuff all day long.

Morland "Old Speckled Hen" Draught

Beer score: 4.0
Web site: Greene King
According to the back of a beer can, this ale is named after a speckled MG car. Morland of Abingdon, Oxfordshire, England, brews this. Has a very soft, fluffy head. Very smooth but leaves a cheap bitterness on the tongue. Wet. Goes well with fish and chips.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Breckenridge Brewery Mountain Wheat

Beer score: 5.0
Web site: Breckenridge Brewery
So light it almost seems tasteless at first. Goes down easy enough for non-snobs to enjoy, but has an interesting light texture that true snobs can linger on, too.

Birra Moretti

Beer score: 4.3
Web site: Birra Moretti
Extremely smooth with a nice head, but has a weak, American taste. Goes well with pastas; also keeps the tongue cool after you've been eating peppers. The label has a painting of a guy who looks like he should have been in The Godfather movie. Imported in the United States from northern Italy.


Beer score: 5.4
Web site: Straub Beer
Brewed by the Straub Brewery, Inc. of St. Mary's, Pennsylvania. Goes down extremely smooth, almost too smooth. The bottle says this stuff is made with mountain spring water and has no preservatives, no sugar and no salt; that's good because there's almost no taste. I'm not saying it tastes bad, just not much taste at all. People fond of water would like this beer.

Stone Imperial Russian Stout

Beer score: 6.5
Web site: Stone Brewing Company
One of the sweet stouts. Made in San Diego County, California. Has the strong, burnt caramel taste of a decent stout. The bottle says this brew is a limited release for the spring of 2006, but I'm drinking it in the early winter of 2007 and it still tastes fine to me. Maybe they make a new limited batch each year. If you don't watch yourself, a strong brew like this can get you loopy very quickly. Smart stuff here.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Breckenridge Brewery I.P.A.

Beer score: 6.8
Web site: Breckenridge Brewery
The typical India pale ale sourness is strong here, but not unbearable. Smooth, but makes rough swallowing.

Breckenridge Brewery Christmas Ale

Beer score: 3.8
Web site: Breckenridge Brewery
A little wetter than most holiday brews, but otherwise it's another overly-sweet, overly-nutmeggy, overly-cinnamon and overly-bad Christmas beer.


Beer score: 4.0
Web site: Moosehead
A very American tasting beer. The flavor is weak and there is more carbonation than is needed. Still, this Canadian brew goes down pretty easy. It's a good thirst quencher.

Molson Light

Beer score: 4.9
Web site: MolsonCoors
At first sip, this beer is sweet and watery, but it gets a bit stronger on the way down. Just a tad too much fizz.

Breckenridge Brewery Avalanche Ale

Beer score: 6.2
Web site: Breckenridge Brewery
A microbrewery in Denver, Colorado, makes this amber ale. Fairly sweet with no fizz. Goes down smooth and easy with a watery texture. Worth tasting and might even make a good drinking beer, especially with bar snacks like pretzels. This would be a good brew for beginning beer snobs to start working their way up with.


Beer score: 3.5
Web site: Cerveceria Cuauhtemoc Moctezuma
Yet another weak, fizzy Mexican brew. You premium beer drinkers might like this. I'll leave it to you.

Stella Artois

Beer score: 3.7
Web site: Stella Artois
This lager from Belgium is very smooth going down but has a somewhat American mass-marketed taste. A smooth, slightly bitter flavor. This brew has gained in popularity in recent years, and it is a decent beer, but I didn't think it's was all that.


Beer score: 3.0
Web site: Steinlager
The bottle calls this New Zealand's finest. If that's true, then I wouldn't drink beer while in New Zealand. True, there are many beers worse than this one, but there's plenty that are a whole lot better. Has a cheap German-but-made-for-Americans flavor to it. It's beers like this that keep American Budweiser drinkers from trying other foreign beers. I've also seen this one labeled as "Steinlager Classic."

Molson Ice

Beer score: 4.5
Web site: MolsonCoors
This beer isn't as good as it's Canadian Lager cousin. The taste isn't real strong. There is a lot more fizz which makes it harder to swallow.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Yuengling Traditional Lager

Beer score: 4.7
Web site: Yuengling
Too much carbonation. The bottle tells it like it is - this is a traditional, but not a bad, premium beer. Made in Pottsville, Pennsylvania.

Boddingtons Pub Ale

Beer score: 4.9
Web site: ABInBev
Brewed at The Strangeways Brewery of Manchester, England. Word of warning: Don't drink directly from the bottle because of a floating plastic device inside. The ball is not supposed to come out of the bottle, but you never can tell. I've seen a few other English beers, usually in cans, that have this plastic ball in the bottle; supposedly the ball gives the beer more of a straight-from-the-tap texture and a nice head. This beer has one of the frothiest heads around. The beer is very smooth and has a somewhat cheap, American lager taste but not the texture. Leaves a bitter aftertaste on the tongue. Much more common in a can, but I've seen it a few times in a bottle.

Blue Ridge Porter

Beer score: 7.7
Web site: Flying Dog Brewery
Has a decent amount of bitterness and a fairly strong coffee and/or burnt caramel flavoring. This is a "chocolate" beer, which doesn't mean it has chocolate in it; chocolate beers are dark and often have the coffee taste I mentioned earlier. Brought to us originally by the Frederick Brewing Co. in Frederick, Maryland, but they've been bought out by the Flying Dog brewing folks, so I'm not sure if this brew is any longer available.

Blue Ridge ESB Red Ale

Beer score: 6.0
Web site: Flying Dog Brewery
The Frederick Brewing Co. made this brew when I first tasted it, but a few years back the company was bought out by Flying Dog Brewery. This beer is of the style called "bitter" in England. Really, there's not much special here. In taste and texture it's similar to many other "red" beers, though it's probably a little better than most reds.

Young's Ram Rod

Beer score: 4.1
Web site: Young's
Wet with a cool bitterness going down. Has a slight apple smell. There's just a touch of sweetness and it has a cider feel in your mouth. The bitterness gets stronger the more you drink.

Steel Reserve High Gravity lager

Beer score: 2.3
Web site: Steel Brewing
Wet with an almost malt liquor flavor. A little hard to swallow at first but this eases up by the fourth drink or so. Nothing special about this beer. It's a product of the Steel Brewing Company of Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Spanish Peaks White Ale

Beer score: 8.8
Web site: Spanish Peaks Brewing Co.
A light, slightly sweet beer with some texture and flavor reminiscent of a Belgian lambic. In other words, it feels and tastes something like a cider. The bottle says this fine ale is made with "orange peel, coriander & black pepper." Comes to us from the Spanish Peaks Brewing Co. of New Ulm, Minesotta, and Bozeman, Montana.

Guinness Extra Stout

Beer score: 9.6
Web site: Guinness
Much too strong for beginner beer snobs. This is a good strong food beer, especially with mustard, pretzels and peppers. For something adventurous, try a bottle of Guinness with a 1/2 cup or cup of lime juice - it kills much of the strength and gives you a different taste entirely. Guinness is one of the thickest, stoutest and strongest beers there is - a six pack will get you very wasted. This is my favorite of all the stouts, even if it is mass marketed.


Beer score: 8.0
Web site: Czechvar
This is one of three beers in the world that at one place or another has the name of Budweiser. Yes, for you who did not know, the beer in the U.S. known as Budweiser is not the only, nor the original, brew with that name. In fact, the name was stolen from two other beers in Europe. This particular beer here that I'm tasting is known as Czechvar in the U.S. and Canada for legal purposes, even though they had the Budweiser name a few years before the U.S. company did. This particular beer is what premium American beers only dream they can be. Very refreshing and light looking. Goes down silky smooth with a nice flavor. Comes from the Czech Republic. Give this one a try!

Blue Ridge Amber Lager

Beer score: 5.9
Web site: Flying Dog Brewery
Good cold and wet, but not much here for a true beer snob. A pretty good beer for premium beer drinkers to expand their tastes with. Not a bad beer, not at all, but nothing here really jumped out at me and screamed "awesome beer!"

Blue Moon Pumpkin Ale

Beer score: 4.5
Web site: Blue Moon Brewing Co.
An amber beer that was made using pumpkins. Not an overly strong beer, but too complicated for beginning beer drinkers. This is a seasonal brew from the Blue Moon Brewing Co. of Denver, Colorado, and Memphis, Tennessee. A little reminiscent of spicy holiday brews. A very smooth and frothy texture, but I don't care much for the flavor. This brew has recently been replaced with Blue Moon Harvest Moon, but to tell the truth I'm not sure if the recipe is the same or different. Anyone know?

Friday, July 16, 2010

Molson Golden

Beer score: 4.6
Web site: MolsonCoors
This drink has a flat, fizzy taste to it. There's a little bitterness, but not much. This beer could use some work, but by the third or fourth one you really don't know what you're drinking anyway.

Young's Old Nick

Beer score: 3.3
Web site: Young's
Young and Company's Brewery, also known as The Ram Brewery, makes this drink and the other Young's drinks in London. The bottle calls this beverage a "Barley Wine Style Ale," and I can see why because this stuff is extremely sweet. The sweetness is reminiscent of some of the stronger Scottish ales. Sorry, but I just don't like overly sweet beers. I'll drink something else.

Spanish Peaks Porter

Beer score: 7.1
Web site: Spanish Peaks Brewing Co.
Strong and bitter, almost to the level of a weaker stout. The burnt maple taste is here but not overpowering, as it is in some porters. Goes down fairly easy. One of the better porters I've had.

Crooked River Lighthouse Gold

Beer score: 6.6
A nice, light thirst-quenching lager. Light enough you could sit around and drink these all evening without feeling bloated. A good beer for moving furniture (no kidding). But alas, another beer and another brewery that's no longer with us.

Blue Moon Honey Blonde Ale

Beer score: 6.4
Web site: Blue Moon Brewing Co.
Smooth and frothy with a non-overpowering honey sweetness. Just the barest hint of spices. Not a bad brew, but I believe it is no longer on the market but has been replaced with Blue Moon Honey Moon Summer Ale.

Guinness Draught

Beer score: 8.4
Web site: Guinness
Comes from Dublin, Ireland. Has an extremely smooth head to it; in fact, the smoothest, frothiest head on any beer I've ever had. Has the expected Guinness strength to it. Not quite as tasty as Guinness Extra Stout, but still has plenty of burnt caramel flavoring. The term "draught" generally means, in modern usage, a drink that comes from a pressurized can or keg. Here, it's usually from a can, though there is Guinness Draught available in a bottle (which has one of those little floating ball things inside it which is supposed to pressurize the beer or at least make it taste pressurized, not sure which).

Molson Canadian Lager

Beer score: 5.6
Web site: MolsonCoors
This is what American beers try to be. A cheese and crackers beer. A good, plain, all-around beer. Not necessarily a beer snob’s beer, but a beer for beer snob wannabes and people who want non-beer snobs to think they are beer snobs. My favorite of all the Molson brews.