Dark Corner

•May 1, 2011 • Leave a Comment
Dark Corner
Corner Brewery (ABC)/Dark Horse
“Imperial American Brown”
~7.5 ABV

This fantastic limited edition release is a collaborative effort between Corner Brewery (ABC) and Dark Horse. It pours a murky, dark brown. At first sip, I thought this was a milk stout, such was the smoothness and gentle sweetness of what I took to be chocolate malt (but in retrospect may simply have been judiciously added brown sugar). Unlike some brown ales that rely on oversweetness and  flashy carbonation to mask their lack of structure, Dark Corner instead has a robust, well-balanced profile with low levels of carbonation.  Strongly recommended.

Saint Arnold Elissa IPA

•March 26, 2011 • 2 Comments
Saint Arnold Brewing Company, Houston, Texas
Elissa IPA
6.6% ABV
on draught

We got a little sick of drinking beer, but after realizing how gross the alternatives can be (e.g. tequila), we may return to beer blogging regularly.

While at a math conference in Houston (math conferences being my frequent occasion for trying out-of-state beers), I realized I’d never tried a beer from Texas, not even a Shinerbock. *Gasp.* The waitress at the pub was not really able to tell me any reasons to buy one beer over another, so I used a random algorithm to settle on the Elissa IPA as my first Texas beer.

It was mild, and maltier than most IPAs. It had a duller hop-kick than I would normally expect, though this is not to say that it was tasteless. This is definitely not an over-the-top west-coast-style IPA, nor is it a balanced, delicious Michigan example like Two-Hearted Ale. It was, however, very drinkable. Even in its smoothness it was notably hoppier than the offensively un-hoppy 512 IPA (sweet vanilla and almond?) my tablemate was trying to enjoy.*

It also turns out that after a month without beer, a single pint can put the “social” back in “mathema-social-tician.” Regardless of any subtlety of flavors (or lack thereof), the beer softened the immense awkwardness I usually feel sitting around a table with stranger mathematicians. Cheers to that.

*My tablemate’s beer was so conspicuously un-hoppy we think there is a non-zero probability that he was served the wrong beer.


•February 14, 2011 • 2 Comments
Kiuchi Brewery, Ibaraki, Japan
Hitachino Nest Beer
7.0% ABV
11.2 oz.

One of the cardinal rules of being a successful wine/beer buyer is to shape your selections not on your own palate, but on the demands of your customer base. If folks want heavily oaked Chardonnays, do not pressure them into buying austere Alsacian whites. Your love of a certain style is not an asset in assembling a successful enterprise.

With that said, if I were to violate this rule, my ideal beer list would consist of items like Piraat, Racer 5 IPA, and XH. All of these beers have intense bitterness in balance with a sour/sweet element, and all of them singularly focused.

XH leads with a sour nose, tinged with pineapple. It is medium-full bodied and has an abiding smokiness. It finishes with a pineapple note that is neither sweet nor sour. Very well structured with a peculiar combination of herbal components.

Lagunitas Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale

•February 10, 2011 • 1 Comment
Lagunitas Brewing Company, Petaluma, California
Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale
7.5% ABV
12 oz. bottle into tasting glasses

This solid delivery from Lagunitas tastes like a super-charged Pale Ale with a hint of honey. There is a twinge of bitterness that lingers between sips, much like the sensation of biting off the base of a honeysuckle flower to draw out the juice.

We paired this up with pan-seared rainbow trout, kale with raisins, and lemon-doused roasted beets.

Just as “Love Rollercoaster” is sure to attract Artie, the Strongest Man in the World like a “giant funk magnet” (see video), Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale will inevitably draw you in.

Sure, she isn’t a mermaid…but the Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale lady has the look…

Bell’s 25th Anniversary Ale

•February 2, 2011 • 2 Comments
Bell’s Brewery, Comstock, MI
25th Anniversary Ale
*Made with Michigan Barley
8.5% ABV
12 oz. bottle

It’s a good beer.

Like few others, Bell’s Brewery is emblematic of the best of the Michigan microbrew scene. It is one of the only breweries that non-Michigan folks have heard of, and has a solid reputation and a network of distribution that carries it throughout the Midwest and East Coast.

Bell’s Brewery has a straight-shooting, quality-first demeanor much like the late  Johnny Cash, minus the Arkansas birthplace, platinum records, and country music legacy.

It is only fitting that the 25th anniversary beer– a powerful dark elixir that tucks its hefty alcohol percentage away in a cloak of smooth silky mouthfeel and jubilant hops aroma– is labeled in a spare black-and-silver bottle.

Stone Lukcy Basartd

•January 29, 2011 • 5 Comments
Stone Brewing Company, San Diego, California
Lukcy Basartd
American Strong Ale
8.5% ABV
22 oz. bottle into tasting glasses

First things first: this beer is a blend of Arrogant Bastard Ale, Oaked Arrogant Bastard Ale, and Double Bastard Ale, released to celebrate Stone Brewing Company’s 13th anniversary. The fine print text-narrative on the bottle can be viewed here. In case you’ve never had any of the Arrogant Bastard beers (read up here), they are the kind of full-bodied, no nonsense beasts that march into your kitchen, roundhouse kick you, and then make an enormous sandwich that they offer you part of. Recommended.

So, what does this blend offer that its three components do not possess?  As with most blends, it smooths out the edges of each particular component to make a more robust new entity.  Lukcy Basartd is malty and bitter with more hops than Arrogant Bastard. We got into an animated debate about how to classify this beer, since Nininja insisted it was an IPA, though Stone calls it an American Strong Ale.

KuG: Unlike most cases of harmony, Navajo consonant harmony assimilates stridents in both directions– to the left-edge and right-edge of certain boundaries ([shi] – [si] –> [s] – [s]; and [shi] – [si] –> [sh] – [sh].

Lagunitas Brown Shugga

•January 25, 2011 • 22 Comments
Lagunitas Brewing Company, Petaluma, California
Brown Shugga
American Strong Ale
9.99% ABV
12 oz bottle (for two)

Question: How can the experience of grading 40 homeworks on proportions and fractions be made better?
Answer: By trying to review four different beers at the same time.

The second in this afternoon’s lineup is a jewel among strong beers. Perrinator declares this to be one of the best beers he has had in a while. It is brewed with cane sugar, but while sweet, it is not at all cloying. More importantly, it is insanely hoppy.

All I can handle of this assertively flavorful beer is half of the bottle, but I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. And due to its alcohol content (which it conceals-and-carries well), a half bottle is all I can drink while still wielding my red pen with some degree of legibility.

Below I’ve rephrased a (well-known?) question on my students’ homework. It’s extra credit, so don’t be dismayed if you can’t get the answer. I will accept solutions in the comments. (Note: due to my beer-themed rephrasing, it sounds like slave labor. I’m not advocating slavery. I can’t emphasize this enough, people. NO SLAVES.)

A farmer puts six hops-harvesters into a hop field and leaves them there until they harvest all the hops. This takes 3 days. She allows the hops to grow back, and then puts three hops-harvesters in the field. This time it takes 7 days for the hops-harvesters to harvest all the hops. But the hops-harvesters all harvested the same amount of hops (as each other and on different days). How is this possible? How long should it take for one hops-harvester to harvest all the hops in the field?