2016-11-18 Beer Recommendations

On tap at Black Bridge Brewery that you need this weekend:

  • Wagonwheel – an American brown ale, beautifully colored – with enticing red highlights – and tasting of late fall. It makes you want to just sit, relax, contemplate. Medium body, a little caramel and some nutty flavors (as in the edible part of a tree, etc., not the street roaming eccentrics). Superb.
  • Locomotive – it’s a stout, cuz black beers matter!  Deeply dark, heavily roasted, a masterpiece.   The Darth Vader of stouts. Seriously, epic music should begin when this is tapped.

Guest taps are available:  Mr Pineapple from SanTan (this one is meh, in my opinion, though generally their beers are stellar) and Big Blue Van from College Street in Lake Havasu. This beer seems to be one that has polarized peeps into two camps, the Lovers and the Haters.  I love it. A great wheat beer, refreshing, with blue berries. They pull it off magnificently. Three bucks for guest taps, y’all. Come have a drink.

Couple these beers with an uncritical atmosphere and a PERFECT soundtrack for a Friday – Def Leppard radio, the ultimate 80s rock music! – and you will  be able to completely decompress from your week of labor!

And be good to your bartenders for the night, Jen and Lee!  (Thanks for the tunes, Jen!)

 

 

 

Beer Love, Beer Hate, Beer Growth: Part Two of an Interview With Black Bridge Brewery’s Owner

Here is part two of my interview with Tim Schritter, owner and brewer at Black Bridge Brewery here in Kingman.   The previous segment was the B3 Origin Story and we learned a little about Tim, too, and his goals.  This segment will focus on the beers, the favorites and the distribution.  Cheers.

***

What’s your favorite beer, outside of here?

Samuel Smiths Taddy Porter. It’s my number one favorite beer of all time. The late Michael Jackson – not the child molester –

The Beer Hunter.

-the beer connoisseur proclaimed it one of the five top beers in the world ever. I was drinking it before he said that. But I always thought, man this is great, I love this beer. It’s always been a go-to; I always have it at home. It stores well, it ages well, it tastes great and it embodies a lot of what I wanted to make when I made a porter. I’ve never come close. I’ve made some good porters. I don’t generally have them on tap. I feel like I, really, I need to go back to home brewing to really hone in and fine tune some of these recipes that I have that are just like, ‘something’s off a little bit’ because I want to achieve the greatness that Taddy Porter is. It’s gonna be difficult. I need to get their water profile. It’s very technical. It’s science. I feel like I need to do that. It’s on my bucket list, up there with bowling a 300. And I’ve bowled a 299 a few times. And I’ve brewed a few good porters a few times but I’ve not made it to the 300 mark yet.

What’s the best beer here, favorite one at B3?

My favorite one at B3? As far as a seasonal, or …?

Just in general.
(Insert pause.)

Probably Katastrophic Humiliation that I have a glass of right here. That’s a hard one. I desire this the most.

What are the characteristics of B3 beers that you like the most? Aside from the fact that you make them. What makes them special, why do you desire this one? What flavor profiles do you like in the malt, yeast, etc.?

As different as all my beers are, I think they all have a common theme – all the beers that I do are kinda different from the status quo or what the guidelinees say they should be, or what other breweries do. You go to every brewery and they’ve got a golden, a pale, an IPA, a stout and an amber. We have an amber, it’s Evil Red, but it’s not a malty amber, its’ a hop forward SOB. We have a stout, but it’s not just your typical stout. We use a ridiculously high amount of English roasted barley. That’s why it’s so black and it’s so bitter; it’s not from the hops, its from the roasted barley. And then our west coast citrus IPA, Rive Ale, that’s pretty much the closest beer, other than 80 Shilling, that I make to style. I guess what sets our beer apart or what’s unique about them, if this even answers your question – my beers are kind of an extension of myself.  They’re a little bit different, a little bit off. But they’re good. Hop forward, but they’re all dry. I don’t like malty sweetness, under attenuated.

So what’s the best seller here?

Evil Red.

Which one are you most proud of here?

(Insert another pause.)

That s like asking me, in front of my four kids, which one I like the most while they’re sitting there staring at me. But in secret I tell them all that they’re my favorite. Uh, which beer am I most proud of? (More pausing). So, this is gonna sound weird, but it’s the yellow fizzy Go To Helles. It’s the first yellow fizzy beer that I’ve ever made that I really enjoy and I’m proud to have people drink and taste. And I’m really super happy with it. It’s got a great profile. It’s got a malt forward-ness but there’s a little bit of hops in the background. But it’s not sweet; it’s a nice dry finish. I really, really love it. Obviously, the barley wine I love, too. And Evil Red I love. And Rive Ale. I mean, they’re all really good beers so it’s hard to … I have my top five favorites that are tied for first.

I can tell you easier which one I don’t like as much.

All right, tell me that.

Wicked Poison.

Seriously?

I (vehemently) hate it.

Really?

I can’t stand it.

That’s funny.

I sample it weekly, just like all of my beers, just to maintain quality and make sure everything’s fine, like I did today. There’s not a flaw in the beer. It’s perfect and it’s exactly what it should be and it sells. We have people that just love it and that’s all they drink. It pays its own set of bills. I will have maybe one glass a year where I actually order a glass. If I’m having a really bad day and I just wanna get … I’ll have a shot of wicked poison. But now I have Katastrophic, so I’ll just go to this because I actually enjoy this. It’s not just about the booze it’s about the flavor, too.

Interesting. Wicked Poison is one of the reasons I stay down here. It’s not, necessarily, that I like it – well, I do – but it’s one of the beers my wife likes. It was her first so she would always come down here to get that.

Yeah, we’ve converted a lot of wine drinkers because of that [beer]. We’ve converted people that say, “oh, I don’t like beer.” Well here, try this. “Oh my god I like that, what’s that?” Well, that’s beer. “Holy …  I do like beer. You’re right.”  What you don’t like is what you think beer is. And people say “I don’t like beer” and I say, “Really? You’ve experienced all 36 different categories and all the sub-catergories within those categories; you’ve tried every single beer? You can tell me that you don’t like beer?” They’re confused, they don’t understand what I just said. What I’m saying is, shut your mouth, open your mind, try something new. And then if you don’t like it, fine. But I’m pretty sure I can find something here that’ll please just about everybody.

Ok, distribution. How far are you going with your distribution? How far are you right now?

Flagstaff. Well, Scottsdale.

Plans for the future?
After this weekend*, we’ll have about 30 half barrels freed up, because we’ve been buying new kegs and getting them filled and stored for the festival this weekend.  Once the festival is over, we’re going to have a surplus of new kegs and so we’re gonna double our accounts to over forty. That’s the idea.

Just inside Arizona? Are you trying to move outside Arizona yet?

We don’t have any states connected to us that I can self-distribute to. I have to sell to a distributor which I’m not going to do. I don’t have enough volume to make that even financially possible.

How many other outlets do you have in Kingman?
Thirteen Kingman accounts. Three in Flag, between two and three in Williams. One of them is constantly on tap, the other two are kinda whenever we get up there they’ll get another keg and throw it on until it’s gone and the next time we get up there they’ll take a keg. Then Scottsdale; we had an account in Tempe, World of Beers, but they went out of business. Nationwide. There’s still a couple of stores still open. The one in Gilbert is still open. And then Havasu, we’re occasionally on tap at College Street. We’re occasionally on tap at Outlaw. And we’re constantly on tap with at least three taps at the Place to Be restaurant but we’ve been up to five of their eight taps at times. they love our product and it moves fast.

***

End of segment two.  There’s only one more to come and we’ll talk brewing philosophy and expectations.  Maybe more.

_______

*The weekend referred to was October 7 & 8 when the Brats & Beer Oktoberfest was held.  You can read a little about it here.

Pliny the Elder by Russian River Brewing

In May of 2014 we took a trip into California. This took us through Santa Rosa and I wanted to stop by Russian River Brewing. One of the reasons was Pliny the Elder. It’s one of those beers that is always spoken highly of in all the beer circles I know and on beer blog’s, etc., and etc. Well, we found the brewery and it had a line outside that was four days long. Thus, I found another brewery to visit.

Eight years ago I went to the Great American Beer Festival. While there, I tried to visit Russian River’s booth. For the above mentioned Pliny. Again, a bloody line that was too long for me to consider. Way too many other beers were available. Why kill time in one line? This year, 2015, I went again. Same story.

Then, a local source for Pliny the Elder was revealed. I am indebted. I finally, finally was able to drink this beer! So, cheers and thank you to the Source(s)!

All that being said, Pliny the Elder is an IPA. Not only an IPA, but a double IPA. What was I thinking?

That Smell …
First comes the hops. I mean, it is an IPA. Hops are its thing. A strong citrus aroma, resinous and lemony, introduced itself to me. It was actually very inviting. But, then, it’s not the hops aroma that bothers me. According to style guidelines, a double IPA should have prominent and intense American hop smell. Gold Star for you, Pliny.

In Appearance …
It looks yellowish-orange. More on the yellow side. Like damp hay, or a treasure chest of gold coins, at sunset. It had an inviting clarity. It’s appearance was deceptive, for this looked like standard issue beer. It had very little head, but that may have been a function of the state of my sample (not complaining, not at all). Style guides indicate a golden to light orange-copper color, pale, good clarity. Gold Star for you, Pliny.

But the Taste …
This does not attack or finish like most IPAs I’ve had. It does have a strong, strong flavor of hops but they do not smack you in the face; it’s more of an energetic hand-waving that invites you to a party of lemon and resin and alcohol. The body was beautifully smooth and sleek, yes, very sleek. There was just enough body to give the beer some weight in the mouth, a counterbalance to the zephyr of hops. The aftertaste is clean and dry. So, strong and complex hops flavor, check; high to absurdly high bitterness, check (thank you for not being absurdly high); a non-harsh, lingering dry aftertaste. Double Gold Stars for you, Pliny.

The Conclusion of the Matter Is …
I understand why the lines are so large for this beer. This is what IPAs and double IPAs and all that lot can be. The smoothness of this IPA surprised me and, in the end, sold me on it. This is not harsh, not a mouthful of hoppy glass. It’s … Art. No, no, art as in Da Vinci, etc. Rembrandt. Picasso. Russian River. It’s summer vacations and life’s milestones, like graduations and anniversaries. Honestly, I could actually drink this beer. It’s either that good or I’m finally getting weak and giving in to the IPAs. Seriously, this was much better than I expected it to be. I can’t even say anything bad about it, and I really tried. Okay, fine, fine! What little bit of foam there was that constituted the head was white. Not off-white, just straight up white. Blanco. There, go forth, Russian River brewing types and fix that!

Beer Review: Breakfast Stout

The guest for this beer review session is an oatmeal stout that features bitter chocolate and two types of coffee. The brewer is Founders Brewing and they have named this great stout experiment Breakfast Stout
Some Vitals

  • ABV 8.3%
  • IBU 60
  • Available October thru December

Quick Takeaways 

  • Lots of coffe aroma and flavor
  • A moderately thick, oily body
  • A stout that is more than a stout yet still a stout

Freshly brewed coffe is the prominent aroma redolent of a quiet, early morning that does not lead to labor whoring (i.e., work, employment, the job). After it sits and airs, the smell of chocolate arises. No hops evident.

It has a mild, tan and persistent head, a parchment tinged creamy tundra on an appropriately black body. That body is warm and full, filled out by the oatmeal.

Coffee is prominent in the taste, too. There is a harsh and bitter outline to this beer. It’s interesting. The familiar roasted profile of stout hits the palate initially then the bitter chocolate and the black coffee conflate powerfully and turn this into something other than stout. while still being stout. It’s not unpleasant in any way; it is ambiguous. No hops evident. 

This is a good beer. I feel it’s a good example of an oatmeal and a cream stout, with a creative addition of chocolate and coffee. Enjoyable, I definitely want another. So, it’s good I have a second bottle. I think it shall face off against Founders Porter.