The Angel’s Share by Lost Abbey Brewing- Drink Only While Sitting

For those dedicated readers of my blog (thanks Mom and Dad) who have anxiously followed the latest announcements about one particular beer…

Angel's Share

Let me unequivocally state that the aforementioned bottle has now been joyously consumed. In my last post, I had made a solemn vow to finally drink the bottle of Lost Abbey’s Angel’s Share, so let it never be said that I don’t follow through on my word, at least when it comes to beer.


But, once again, we will take a somewhat circuitous route to the tasting.

Soup-NaziThis past week I saw the memorable Seinfeld “Soup Nazi” episode for the umpteenth time, one of my favorite television episodes of all time. Early on, Jerry is regaling Elaine that the soup is so delicious that it makes you weak in the knees. Of course, later on Elaine gets a taste of the soup and immediately must sit down on the nearest city stoop.

This is exactly what came to mind when I had my first sip of The Angel’s Share. Knee-weakening good.

The beer pours a dark brown (SRM 34) and has a quickly dissipating head, although an almost lace-like foam stays on the surface. On the nose it presents a complex aroma of raisins, spice, bourbon, and chocolate. Similar on the palate and sweet, but not overly so, I was enjoying this for several minutes before tasting. It had a lighter mouthfeel than I was expecting and is refreshingly lightly carbonated with a pleasingly long aftertaste.

Hop heads take note. STAY AWAY! This is a challenging beer in terms of the dizzying elements on the nose and palate. It reminds me of the time I had my first glass of good cabernet after years of Liebfraumilch and Lancer’s (still a cool bottle Lancersthough).Bluenun  I could intellectually appreciate the structure, but that it was a leap for my limited palate.





I savored this beer saving more than the promised thimbleful for my wife. She didn’t like it. One final swirl of the glass revealed a foamy representation of the Milky Way Galaxy, but I believe that was the 12% ABV talking.


P.S. The Angel’s Share refers to the portion of wood cask liquid that evaporates during the distilling or aging process.

Lost Abbe  Website:

Photo Credits:

Soup Nazi

Blue Nun


Dark and Tasty-Evil Twin Brewing’s Lil’ B Imperial Porter

So if you ask our 23 year-old twin daughters who is the evil one, they will most likely both answer in the affirmative. They are, after all, Daddy’s girls.LuckyPie Hence when I was casting about for interesting brews to review, I could scarcely contain my excitement when I laid my eyes on this offering from Evil Twin Brewing located in Stratford, Connecticut. And one of the twins’ names even begins with a “B” so it seemed my path and Lil’ B’s Imperial Porter were destined to cross.


(I have other photos of the twins, but this is one of my recent favorites. Beginning on the left is my lovely wife of 24 years, Pat. Then Brenna, Duke, son of a friend I have known since 2nd grade, and Logan. Across the table are our old, new found friends, Hans and Trena. This picture was taken at Lucky Pie Pizza and Taphouse, a great place to eat with a phenomenal and selective beer list.)

The Beer Judging Certification Program (BJCP) has three categories for porter- Brown, Robust, and Baltic. Before tasting a beer, I usually familiarize myself with the category details. This proved instructive and surprising when I poured Lil’ B. It was one of the darkest beers I have seen, looking very nearly the same color as blackstrap molasses. Alcohol by Volume % (ABV) usually range from 4% to 9.5%, but the Lil’ B measures out at a whopping 11.5 %. Definitely a bomber to share with friends or to drink in your cuddliest overstuffed chair at home.

Lil B

Strong aromas of sweet grain greet the nose and the palate with the addition of prune/raisin and a hint of chocolate. A very full mouthfeel, but moderate carbonation contribute to a very pleasing beer.

The complexity of this porter makes for an ideal choice as an after dinner brew, consumed alone or paired with almost anything featuring dark chocolate. I would tend toward a chocolate mousse and shy away from something like a dense chocolate cake.


Evil Twin Brewing

Lil’ B photo from


Oskar Blues 12 Pack- All Kinds of Heaven


I love to have company over for meals, especially on those warm days when we can relax on the deck and look out over the open space behind our house. This part of Colorado is known for wide weather variations. As I write this in mid-November, the temperatures are in the mid-sixties, yet we have already had two snowstorms.Snow

But back to entertaining…

One of the joyous consequences of having people over is buying a 12 pack of fine beer that would satisfy different tastes as well as my own. The 12 pack from Oskar Blues admirably fills the bill. This little treasure contains four each of Mama’s Little Yella Pils, Old Chubb Scotch Ale, and the flagship beer of the brewery, Dale’s Pale Ale. Each beer is worth some reflective drinking and, taken as a whole, would satisfy an exceptionally wide range of invited palates.Oskar


Let me state unequivocally that, in the past, I had not been of fan of pilsners which was probably collateral damage wrought by mass marketed stinko slop by large American beer companies (using the word “beer” here in its most forgiving context). Hence, Mama’s Little Yella Pils was always the last one to be consumed, but my tastes have widened as I have studied more about beer. This is just a wonderfully clean, mild beer. Quite refreshing on a hot summer day. If we were doing a beer intervention for my friend Lupe (who will only drink Miller Lite), I would choose this. I imagine even my mom could have benefited from the occasional  Little Yella Pils as she was raising 5 kids (although my sister Julie and I were practically perfect in every single way).

This pairs nicely with almost any standard picnic and/or BBQ fare. ABV 5.3%, 35 IBU’s

DaleI have several beers in the refrigerator that need to be consumed and reviewed, but when I just want to drink a good beer without worrying about the research, Dale’s Pale Ale is just the ticket. I have never been a “hop head” always on the lookout for triple digit  IBU’s (International Bittering Units). I can appreciate them, but sometimes I think high IBU’s obliterate any subtlety that might be there or, worse, mask flawed beer. I might as well just grab a handful of hops and shovel it into my mouth.  But Dale’s hoppy character is just right for my palate. It is plainly evident but not so overwhelming as to mask the grain notes of the malt. As with Mama’s, Dale’s pairs nicely with almost any standard picnic and/or BBQ fare. ABV 6.5%, 65 IBU’s

Because of the area’s low humidity and high elevation, temperatures drop chubbsignificantly once the sun sets behind those gorgeous Rocky Mountains. This makes Old Chub Scotch Ale a fine year-round choice. It pours a lovely reddish brown with malty sweetness on the nose. A casual taste will reveal the sweet malt, a hint of roast, and just a touch of coffee. This is a Scotch Ale as distinguished from a Scottish Ale. The 3 types of Scottish Ales (Light, Heavy, Export) contain increasing amounts of alcoholic strength ranging from 2.5% to 5.0%. By contrast, the ABV (alcohol by volume) Scotch ales ranges from 6.5% to 10%. Old Chub weighs in at 8%. Perfect for grilled meats or even after a meal.

All in all, quite the range in ABV’s and IBU’s which undoubtedly makes this a 12 pack for all seasons.


lost-abbey-angels-share-full-1For those of you following the tale of the Lost Abbey’s Angel Share (, I solemnly declare that this will be consumed on Thursday, November 14th around 5 pm. I do have to wait for Pat to get home as I am affording her a thimbleful.

Top Photo- Mine

All other photos from the Oskar Blues website

except for the Angel Share which is from

Aufmerksamkeit, meine Damen und Herren! The Kaiser by Avery Brewing


I drank this fine brew a couple of weeks ago and was pokey getting around to the review. I thought it might be a good idea, using one of my favorite beer/wine tasting terms, to revisit this seasonal offering. Alas, my three go-to liquor stores were all out. Nevertheless, this may change my strategy about reviewing beers. Wordsworth wrote about “emotion recollected in tranquility” and there could be no finer application of that phrase than to beer, and a second beer sampled some days later. Writing this blog is demanding, but I gladly do it for you, gentle readers

But I digress…

The phrase on the side of the bottle states “Give me a woman who loves beer and I will conquer the world.” These words were apparently spoken by Kaiser Wilhelm II, the last German emperor. I assume he never found that woman, which is curious given that he was an EMPEROR and living in GERMANY.

Heck, I would’ve dressed like the St. Pauli girl to nab an emperor AND drink beer. StPauliGirlNevertheless, during World War I he was ignored by his military commanders and eventually fled to the Netherlands.


How much time did it take to get this guy’s mustache ready for the day and was it a servant’s job? And wouldn’t that look great on a résumé?

Fortunately, Oktoberfest did not suffer a similar fate and remains a wildly popular, 16 day long celebration in Munich (or München as Frau Nickoloff Rogers would say) as well as many places around the world.

Avery’s The Kaiser is a copper-hued lager, brilliant in the glass. Tasting on my back porch, the color blended perfectly with the changing leaves. A little gentle swirling produces a finger width layer of foam. The bouquet is hypnotizing with notes of sweet grain and a hint of spice. Similar on the palate with a hint of hops to ready the drinker for the next taste. And it has just a bit of a pucker. This is what I would call a “stranded on a desert island beer”.

This beer would pair well with a exceptionally wide array of foods, such as  grilled meats, smoky or nutty cheeses, and sandwiches.

Beer Geek Stats:

Beer Style: Imperial Oktoberfest
Hop Variety: Bravo, Tettnang, Hersbrucker
Malt Variety: Two-row barley, Vienna, Munich, Dark Munich, Aromatic
OG: 1.085 ABV: 9-10% IBUs: 24 Color: Copper

Additional note- The young man with less hair is my favorite nephew, Zach. He and his buddies have started their own craft brewery, Burn ‘Em Brewing in Michigan City, Indiana. I have heard positive things about their beers although that has been from Zach’s mom, my sister Julie. And you know how mothers are! As of this writing, they have yet to get their federal license, so they are pouring at various festivals. I will give a shout when they have officially opened.


Mexican Chocolate Stout by Copper Kettle Brewing

I was going to begin by saying that autumn is my favorite season, but I really like all four seasons in Colorado. I grew up about 20 miles from Chicago in the very northwest corner of Indiana, “da region”, and winters were always bitterly cold and summers hot with a large dose of humidity. I know, I know…some of you live in places with weather more extreme on one end of the thermometer or the other. So even despite the recent massive flooding (and we were fortunately spared), the weather in Colorado is so much more enjoyable with its occasional 60° days in December and the usual one day snowstorm in April or May.


But fall means my annual trek to my favorite Hatch green chile stand, Roasted, just north of Evans on  Santa Fe, east side. The aroma is intoxicating and could I bottle it as cologne, I’m sure my wife would sweep me up to the bedroom once she caught a whiff.

So my yearly allocation of four bushels of chiles have now been skinned, stemmed, seeded, and placed in Ziploc bags in the freezer. Green chile sauce, green chile stew, white chicken chili, red chili, and as an addition to everything from eggs to mac and cheese.


So visions of green chiles were dancing in my head as we sat down at the Copper Kettle Brewing Company, located in a rather unassuming small office park and realizing that we used to live only 3 miles from the place. (Note to folks…Ignore the barricades and NO PARKING CROSS FIT signs. There is ample parking and we were there during a Broncos telecast.)

Then I got to thinking (or “thinnin'” as Quick Draw McGraw was wont to say).EL KABONG STRIKES My favorite dark chocolate is Lindt’s Chile Chocolate and this combination is popular in some more complex Mexican sauces, such as moles. What addition could make this combination even more tantalizing? Okay, you probably first thought of bacon and that crossed my mind as well, but once I laid my eyes on this menu item, I thought “strand me on a desert island (temperate) with this beer… a Mexican Chocolate Stout.”

We ordered the taster tray and, to my amazement, there were not one, not two, but THREE stouts. Pinch me, dear. I certainly enjoyed each of them, but my palate fell in love with….


From the brewery website-



So, gentle readers, I bought a bomber for home consumption so I could swoon in private.

The color is nearly as dark as a beer can get with a lingering sliver of foam about the edge of the glass. Geek stats- IBU 50, ABV 7%, 54°F drinking temperature. I could smell the chocolate and sense the capsaicin (the hot component in peppers) in the back of my throat. My previous experience with chile beers had been disappointing, all burn and liquid smoke. But this nectar was perfectly balanced, chocolate, spice and a gentle tingle on the tongue. This is knee-weakening delicious!

WARNING…your palate may be more or less sensitive than mine, so you could end up feeling like a fire-breathing dragon or wondering if there are any chiles in the beer. I like my Mexican dishes with a medium amount of heat, jalapeños, but not trinidad moruga scorpions (

I enjoyed this beer all on its own. Definitely steer away from any spicy dessert as there could very well be an exponential heat effect, but I think this beer would pair well with any dark chocolate dessert from mousse to cake. If someone makes bacon-flecked dark chocolate, I may never write again.












All images from the web except for chiles roasting and

the Chocolate Mexican Stout.


Pumpkick Spiced Seasonal Ale by New Belgium Brewing


When I sit down to write one of these reviews, it is with the best of intentions that I write solely about the beer. But other thoughts just keep popping up like one of those whack-a-mole games.









(This is not the author)

As Robert Burns once wrote,                                                                                The best-laid schemes o’ mice an ‘men                                                        Gang aft agley,

Now it’s only in the last couple of years that my palate has accepted fruit beers (along with olives, strong cheeses, and cooked cauliflower). I won’t, anytime soon, be leaping over barbed wire fences to obtain one, but I can nevertheless appreciate a well-made one.Steve_McQueen_motorcycle_jump_fence




(This is also not the author)

On a related note, I have nothing against the members of cucurbita pepo. I like roasted acorn squash, sautéed zucchini, and the occasional piece of my own pumpkin cheesecake (to die for, naturally). However, as cooler weather sets in with the coming of autumn, I feel obligated to do at least one seasonal brew and I appreciate the vast number of fine brews created by New Belgium Brewery in Fort Collins, CO, which is just an hour away if you drive like my wife. So today’s review focuses on Pumpkick Spiced Seasonal Ale from New Belgium Brewing.


From the brewery-


“What’s that bite of tartness doing in a pumpkin beer? Adding the unexpected kick of cranberry juice to brighten this traditionally spiced seasonal ale. PUMPKICK is brewed with plenty of pumpkin juice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice, but it’s the cranberries and touch of lemongrass that send your taste buds sailing.”


Nice, persistent head with lacing. It looks like Grade A honey in the glass. Its sweetly subtle aroma with fruity esters immediately reminded me of a Belgian trippel. After the next few whiffs, as it warmed in the glass (to 46°), I could detect the spice and pumpkin notes. Similar to the aroma, I tasted the subtle fruit first and then the cranberries at the end. Slightly drying and just the tiniest bit of puckering at the finish. A complex layering that I was not expecting and, overall, a well-balanced beer.


These fine folks have made a video with suggested pairing that can be found here-


I like their pairing with a vegetable torte and a turkey pot pie and although I can appreciate their pairing with pumpkin pie, I don’t see that working for typical Thanksgiving meal, which is really the only time we have pumpkin pie. At our Thanksgiving meal, we normally serve a red zinfandel or a pinot noir, but I could see drinking a Pumpkick with our normal fare which consists of turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, and cranberries. In this way it complements the food, and foreshadows the dessert to come, an element that I had never before considered when suggesting a pairing.


Although I wouldn’t drink this beer by itself, I think it provides a superior match to some select fall foods. Kudos to New Belgium for this seasonal offering. And, as a side note, if all you have tasted from New Belgium is Fat Tire Ale, you need to get out more. Check out their Lips of Faith series or visit their tasting room for a truly knee-weakening experience.

And, to keep you up to date, the bottle of Lost Abbey’s Angel’s Share is still in the refrigerator.


I Wish I Had An Uncle Jacob

While taking a break from rehearsals for “The Rimers of Eldritch” we had a small Halloween cast party. I asked the assistant director for a beer. And so, friends, it was in October of 1976 (and still a minor) that I had my first taste of stout, Guinness, of course. guinnessMy friend had warned me that it wasn’t for everybody, but I assured him that I loved stout (not admitting that I had no idea what a stout was…it was acting after all). The taste was unlike any beer I had ever had in my admittedly small experience composed mostly of American swill. Mysteriously black, bitter, witches’ brew. And I can’t even remember if I liked it. This beer was hypnotically chanting, “Come to the dark side”.









So here I sit mesmerized by a just poured glass of Uncle Jacob’s Stout by those fine folks at Avery. Dark brown finger of foam. Sweet aromas of spice, raisin, perhaps prune. The taste is complex and challenging as it seems to sway from sweet to bitter and back within a single taste with an exceptionally long finish.


I am sitting just outside the kitchen where there is a bowl of slightly overripe bananas with attendant fruit flies and even they are flying over to have a smell and taste. Not sharing and not the least of which is the $10 bucks and change that I forked over for this 12 ounce bottle (“Oh, but it’s so worth it!” said the clerk). It is not a bottle for “stranded on a tropical island” everyday drinking, although an island beyond 45° N might suffice. Big alcohol factor here at 16.53%.

I am intrigued by styles. The bottle says “Imperial Stout” but its alcohol level goes far above what one would normally expect for this. The aroma and taste remind me of a Belgian quad, very port-like. Hence, it would provide a perfect pairing with dark chocolate desserts and even as a dessert course alone. Bravo, Avery!

Although I wander elsewhere, I always return to the dark side.

P.S. That damn $16 beer is still in the refrigerator.

Soon, grasshopper, soon…

Addendum to Bernardus Abt 12 and Hello Jim…

As a somewhat normal human, I have hundreds (if not thousands) of interactions every day. Perhaps just an exchange of glances, a quick hello on the running path, a thoughtful mea culpa when I once again realize that my wife was correct AGAIN. Even more, I think I am particularly cognizant of being in the right place at the right time. Yesterday I was in the grocery store parking lot, just finishing loading my groceries in the back of the Highlander, when I noticed an elderly woman having obvious difficulties opening the trunk of her car. Immediately I walked over and asked if I could help. She gave me her keys, so I unlocked her trunk and loaded in her bags. It’s not a medal of honor kind of thing, just one of those fleeting connections.
It was with this thought that I began surfing the internet in an attempt to find out anything about one of my high school friends, Jim McLean, who I mentioned near the end of a recent review ( This is an absolutely shameless plug for his invention. Just tell me he doesn’t have one of the “smilingest” pairs of eyes…

Hello, Jim

P.S. That damn $16 beer is still in the refrigerator.

Avery Hog Heaven…well-designed and just not my type








In the 60’s and 70’s, Chicago’s WGN television station had a magnificent set of programs for children. In some future post I will wax poetically about how Ray Rayner affected my outlook on life, but right now I would like to mention Frazier famclassics2Thomas. In the hours after school he, of course, hosted Garfield Goose and Friends, which will probably come up in a future post as well. But on Friday evenings he hosted Family Classics and this is when I saw many of the most beloved films, including The Adventures of Robin Hood, starring Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland and released in 1938 (by the way, Ms. de Havilland just celebrated her 97th birthday).


Immediately I fell in love (until she was replaced by Lauren Bacall in my mid-thirties), and I think I somehow compared every girl I had a crush on from elementary school through my early adult years. How can anyone stack up to her? I won’t go as far as to blame Olivia for  my somewhat later in life marriage, I will just chalk that up to general immaturity and the fact that I hadn’t yet met Pat.

These thoughts ran through my mind as I opened a 22 ounce bomber of Avery’s Hog Heaven. Sometime I will take a photo of the basket of files and tools I carry from the bedroom to the kitchen table when I’m reviewing a beer. Let’s just say “Geek City” for now.

A casual search on the internet will tell you that proper serving temperature for barleywine is 57° to 61°, so I had some time before the first taste. Still I could pour it into the proper glass. Beautifully clear, copper color, almost like medium grade honey, and a very persistent head. Bottle stats were listed as 104 IBU’s or International Bittering Units (another future post) and a 9.2% ABV, Alcohol By Volume (please share this or don’t give your chauffeur the night off). As I was measuring the temperature, so I got to get some tantalizing tastes from licking the Thermapen probe (my, my…that just sounds wrong)






Lovely color, good head, and finally up to temperature, so I was looking forward to the first full sip. And it was….disappointing. There was a wonderful initial hit of malt sweetness but then the hops came storming in, overwhelming everything else. The label did say “dry-hopped”, I was forewarned. I would like to try this with some stronger cheeses, but I don’t see it going with any chocolate desserts which is what I usually pair this style with.

It is a well designed beer, it just didn’t meet my expectations.

I don’t think Olivia would like either.


Photo Credits

Frazier Thomas

Olivia de Havilland