Bell Time Beer Review – A Round Table of Drunks III – Part 1

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Linda – Pittsburgh PA

Brewery/Beer: Roundabout Brewery – Earl Grey Pale Ale

Location: Pittsburgh PA

Style: English Pale Ale

ABV: 5.6%   IBU: N/A

Description – Number 5A: When you visit Roundabout you can know with certainty that any interesting combination found on their board of beers will have been combined masterfully and that you will be in for a treat to the senses.  When I spied a beer made with Earl Grey Tea from local Gryphon’s Tea and bergamot on the board they couldn’t pour my pint fast enough!  I scurried outside to snag a table looking across Butler Street and greedily inhaled the fresh citrusy floral aroma of the bergamot.  The flavor was bright, unique, and delicious.  No surprise here, just as I expected – another perfectly executed beer from Roundabout!

Local hint:  Wednesday is $9 pie and pint night at Roundabout, these  English-style meat and non-meat savory pies hand-made by The Pub Chip Shop in the Southside are the perfect accompaniment to the pint of your choice.

Brewery/Beer: Church Brew Works – Short Day Dunkelweizen

Location: Pittsburgh PA

Style: Dunkelweizen

ABV: 5.5%   IBU: N/A

Description – Number 5B: Opaque deep dark brown color with a crisp aroma of clove, banana, and chocolate.  Incredibly easy to drink.  The flavors erupt quickly and ends with a soft gentle finish.  If you already like the style Hefeweizen, it is time to step over to the dark side!

Foodie Tip:  Pairs well with Church Brew Works Seven Onion Soup!

Brewery/Beer: Voodoo Brewing Co. – Juice Springsteen

Location: Pittsburgh PA

Style: Witbier

ABV: 7.3%   IBU: N/A

Description – Number 4: This low carbonation beer is hand-pumped (workin’ the firkin’) and served at room temperature. It was aged on kiwi, dragon fruit, honeydew, and green tea leaves!  A refreshing juicy beer with subtle fruitiness.  It washes over your palate with ephemeral esters.  A very desirable beer, just one is not enough so keep your bartender close!

Brewery/Beer: Port Brewing Co. – Board Meeting

Location: San Marcos CA

Style: Brown Ale

ABV: 8.5%   IBU: N/A

Description – Number 3: This beer is beyond beer.  A sip feels like a soft cloud has entered your mouth only to immediately rain a delicious deluge of coffee/cocoa into your soul.  Very subtle sweetness balances the coffee from San Diego roasters Ryan Brothers and Equadorian cocoa nibs sourced from famed San Francisco chocolate maker TCHO. This beer is deceptively smooth and far too easy to drink considering the punch it packs!

Brewery/Beer: Sprague Farm and Brew WorksSaison – Considuous

Location: Venango PA

Style: Saison

ABV: 5.8%   IBU: 37

Description – Number 2:  Maple sap was used as the brewing water, spruce tips were gathered from the trees that line the long driveway to the brewpub, and the bark of shagbark hickory trees was toasted and simmered to create hickory syrup which was also incorporated in the brew.  With the sourcing of ingredients from two deciduous trees, and one coniferous tree, the name Considuous was a clever choice.  As I enjoy soaking up nature with my senses, kicking back with this beer while enjoying the idyllic farm scenery was pure perfection.  Unfiltered with pleasant tartness and subtle sweetness, we couldn’t resist filling a growler to take home!

Brewery/Beer: Draai Laag Brewing Co. – Relic

Location: Millvale PA

Style: Saison

ABV: 6.3%   IBU: N/A

Description – Number 1: The brewers received an old heavy cabinet, upon appraisal it was determined to be from a monastery in France during the 17th century.  Thrillingly, the brewers meticulously extracted the yeast of centuries past from wax that was protecting the cabinet to bring this beer into the present! Relic has a subtle musty aroma with a brightness on the palate that matches its golden hue.  I lament that the slogan “The Champagne of Beer” is already taken because this beer truly deserves the accolade!

  • All Pictures supplied by Linda

 Matt – Cleveland OH

Brewery/Beer: Ballast PointHabanero Sculpin

Location: California

Style: American IPA

ABV: 7.0   IBU: N/A 

Description – Number 5: I’ve had many of the other Sculpins from Ballast Point and while all are pretty good, I have appreciated some more than others.  This honestly may not fall within my 5 favorite beers of the year, but it it unique enough to include on my list considering my love for spicy foods.  I honestly do put hot sauce on all of my food so my penchant for something different is what attracted me to this one.  Not a beer to just sip and chill it is a beer that would be best served eating some Mexican fajitas or chips and salsa.  It has some bright fruit notes and a hoppy bite, the habanero builds with each sip.  It gets easier the more you drink and you are able to identify the floral notes while still getting a habanero kick in your jalapeno.   

 Brewery/Beer: Du Claw Brewing Co.Sour Me This

Location: Maryland

Style: Sour

ABV: 5.4   IBU: N/A

Description – Number 4: My pallette is always all over the place depending on the mood I am in but it always seems to go to an extreme, hence a lot of selections on my list.  Sour beers have really been growing on me and this one will make you pucker at the first taste.  Sour Me This taste is big on citrus, tangerine, lemon, and sour. Slightly sour, light bodied with moderate carbonation.  This makes for a great intro into sours, although not as sour as some European versions of the style, it still packs a punch.

 Brewery/Beer: Lagunitas Brewing Co.Lil’ Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale

Location: Petaluma CA

Style: Pale Wheat Ale

ABV: 7.5   IBU: 64

Description – Number 3: Probably my favorite West Coast Brewery, Lagunitas is easy to pick out due to their selection and use of similar yeasts.  While it is hard to choose a favorite from the brewery itself, Lil Sumpin’ is an IPA that can continuously be slammed all summer long. Way smooth and silky with a nice wheaty-esque fish. This will be on tap at my house just in time for next Summer.

 Brewery/Beer: Great Lakes Brewing Co.Barrel Aged Christmas Ale

Location: Cleveland, OH

Style: Winter Ale

ABV: 8.5%    IBU: 35

Description – Number 2:  I copied the following description below.  It is defintiely a Christmas Ale , but different than the original obviously.  The description below was closest to what I experienced.  Only available in the brewery itself makes it difficult to try but easily one of the best from the year.  Strong, tasty, and delightful enough to warm you up or cool you down depending on your mood.

Aged in bourbon barrels for 6 months, the true original Christmas Ale is now as naughty as it is nice. Holiday spices and sweet honey are wrapped up with notes of wood and vanilla, adding depth that’ll keep you a-wassailin’ all season long.

Brewery/Beer: Platform Beer Co. – Jocote Project Dry Hopped Pale Ale Series

Location: Cleveland OH

Style: Pale Ale

ABV: 5.1   IBU: 40

Description – Number 1: I’ve been trying a lot of Platform’s newest offerings and they seem to be getting more adventurous as time goes on.  It is quickly becoming one of my favorite breweries.  Being a big fan of IPA’s and fruit style beers, this sits perfectly in the middle for me.  Smooth enough to down a bunch and just enough bite and hops to make it exciting.  Hints of passion fruit give it a clean finish.  Although not a true IPA this ended up being one of my favorite beers of the year and is in the same category of two of my favorites Deschutes Fresh Squeezed IPA and Great Lakes Chillwave Double IPA, but inherently smoother than the two combined with a different mosaic flavor of hops.

  • All of Matt’s photos supplied by the brewer’s respective website

Brian – Pittsburgh PA

Brewery/Beer: Spoonwood Brewing Co./ Hitchhiker Brewing Co. – Turtle Eclipse

Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Tropical Stout
7.4%   IBU: 43

Description: Spoonwood Brewing and Hitchhiker Brewing collaborated on this beer to benefit the Turtle Survival Alliance.  I have no idea what that means but they should keep collaborating on more projects in my eyes.  This funky stout is a style of beer that originated as a high-gravity stout brewed for consumption in tropical markets, such as Jamaica. You get the tropical fruits aroma and at the beginning of the sip but the beer finishes like a typical stout. After the pineapple flavor, you definitely get slightly bitter dark chocolate and roasty, coffee-like flavors.  Seems like a strange combination but it works really well together.  This is a stout that can be drank all summer due to the crisp and light flavors of fruit.

Brewery/Beer: Blue Mountain BreweryA Hopwork Orange

Location: Afton, VA
Orange Infused IPA
7.0%   IBU: 65

Description: Picked this up while in Richmond, VA trying to get a flavor for the local beers.  I like IPAs but typically don’t like fruity beers.  This beer marries the orange flavor with hops nicely.  The beer is made with light crystal malt and a heavy hand of Simcoe, Cascade and Centennial hops complemented by natural orange flavoring.  The hint of orange makes this IPA stand out from the rest.

Brewery/Beer: Fat Head’s BreweryHop Juju

Location: Cleveland, OH
7.5%   IBU: 87

Description: Hop Juju is one of those more famous beers or at least that is what I have been told.  This is a beer for hop heads like myself.  The hops are aggressive and punch you right in the mouth.  There isn’t a lot for me to say about this beer that has already been said.  This is a multi-award winner and I agree with the people giving out awards for this beer.

Brewery/Beer: Listermann Brewing Co. – Friar Bacon Smoked Bock

Location: Cincinnati, OH
Smoked Bock
7.2%   IBU: N/A

Description: Found this beer while celebrating Kevin’s birthday/ Cincinnati Bock fest.  I don’t know how much I really remember of this beer.  I am being told by several people that I could not stop raving about this beer for several days.  You could taste everything in the name.  Bacon Check.  Smokiness check. And Bock check.  There was a bourbon barrel aged version of this but it was a little to bourbon for me.  I’ll stick with Bacon smoked beer any day of the week.

Brewery/Beer: Voodoo Brewing Co. – Good Vibes

Location: Pittsburgh PA
American IPA
7.3%   IBU: N/A

Description: According to their website, Good Vibes is the totally righteous IPA that the owners had been dreaming of making for years.  I tend to agree with them.  This is dreamy and righteous.  The beer is hopped five times and then double hopped.  Sounds like a complex process but it made for my favorite beer of the year.  I usually struggle to add in a local brewery to the top 5 list but this year I had no problem.  Voodoo Brewery knocked it out of the park with this one.

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