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Weekend Beer Buzz: Valentine’s Day Edition 02/14/2013

We had a killer time last week on the left coast.  San Diego is a great, great beer town.  No, it’s not Denver, let’s not get carried away, but it’s solid and growing just as quickly as our local scene.  This was our second visit in 18 months and it’s crazy to see the growth.  We shared some sights and tastes from Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens and Port Brewing / The Lost Abbey and we’ve got more to come including the Inaugural San Diego Winter Brew Fest, Green Flash, AleSmith and more. Stay tuned!

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And hey, it’s lent.

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Maybe give up something a little more reasonable like eating or shaving (which I happily haven’t done since November).  Do what you gotta do, but don’t give up craft beer.

In other news, the CO brewers won their fight against grocery and convenience stores selling full-strength beer.  Well done boys and girls.  I sincerely hope this is the last time you all have to fight that fight.  Unfortunately, it seems some overpaid assbanana brings it up again year after year.  Until then, Congrats on winning this battle.

And lastly, before we start our weekend run down, Cheers to Swagger, the Old English Sheepdog and CO-native that made us all proud at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.  The big guy placed second overall out of 2,500+ pups.  Nicely done!  Now maybe your owner will finally get that furry mop out of your eyes.

And now, it’s time to get serious.  Focus.  It’s time for your Weekend Beer Buzz.

Thursday, February 14th, 2013

The Day of Love is very near and if you love beer, then have no fear, just plant your eyes on this page right here.   Many of the beery events and Valentine’s beer dinners sold out long ago, but here are a few that don’t require tickets and should have plenty of beer flowing for you and your special someone on Thursday night.

Dry Dock has a delicious pair of tappings lined up for Thursday.  Stop by and revisit Rudolph’s Revenge, which you might remember as Head Brewer Doug Hyndman’s Raspberry Pomegranate Porter from the 2012 Ho Ho Ho Slapdown.  Dry Dock also plans to release a firkin of Strawberry Hefeweizen, which I think at one point used to be called Heidi Klum?  Am I wrong here?  Either way, firkin at noon, Rudolph at 4 PM.  Don’t be surprised if a few more treats pop up as well.

Dry Dock Brewing is located at: 15120 E Hampden Ave, Aurora, CO 80014.  303-400-5606.

Black Shirt Brewing is hosting a beer and desert pairing on Thursday.  End your special night with a Chai Red Porter and a specially prepared desert.

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This will run from 5 – 9 PM and is rumored to be your only chance to try this great brew.  The BSB tasting room will now be open on Wednesday’s, with expanded hours throughout the week.  Black Shirt Brewing is located at: 3719 Walnut St, Denver, CO 80205.  303-993-2799.

Scott and the Wit’s End Gang will have their 2nd Annual Valentine’s Day Beer and Chocolate Pairing from 4 PM – ? (until the chocolate’s gone!).

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Cruise over to the Wit’s End Website and see what they’ve got planned for this year’s event.  The Kitchen Sink Porter is paired with a chocolate-bacon bar.  Need I say more?  Sappy, cheese-filled music provided free of charge.  Wit’s End Brewing is located at: 2505 W 2nd Ave, Unit 13, Denver, CO 80223.  303-459-4379.

Up at Yak & Yeti in Arvada, Head Brewer Adam Draeger released (Yakety Yak) Don’t Talk Bock and Cherry Porter this week.  For Valentine’s Day, he’s bringing back Red Hot Wheat, which is brewed with Red Hots Candies.  Draeger describes the 4.9% ABV bright red brew as a “Dentyne gum flavored dessert wine to share with the sweetheart of your life”.

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Yak & Yeti is located at: 7803 Ralston Rd, Arvada, CO 80002.  303-431-9000.

Speaking of Yeti’s, there’s been reports of a sighting over at Great Divide.  They’ll be tapping a Jim Beam Barrel-Aged Version of Chocolate Oak Aged Yeti at 2 PM.  Wow, that sounds amazing.

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Great Divide Brewing is located at: 2201 Arapahoe St, Denver, CO 80205.  303-296-9460.

Up in Longmont at Oskar Blues Homemade Liquids & Solids, they’ll have hand carved prime rib and some special Ommegang goodies on draft.

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Homemade Liquids and Solids is located at: 1555 S Hover Rd, Longmont, CO 80501.  303-485-9400.

Lone Tree Brewing will tap The Princess Vidrevitz Russian Imperial Stout and Chocolate Cherry Stout at noon today.  Sounds delish.

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Lone Tree Brewing is located at: 8222 Park Meadows Dr, Lone Tree, CO 80124.  303-792-5822.

Here’s the latest from Crooked Stave.

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Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project is located at: 1441 W 46th Ave, Unit 19, Denver, CO 80211. 720-508-3292.

Friday, February 15th, 2013

Just in case you don’t have enough spice in your life on Valentine’s Day, Dry Dock’s tapping a Green Chili Double IPA on Firkin Friday.

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Tapping at 3 PM.  I don’t typically reach for chili brews, but this one’s good.  Damn good.  Trust me. Dry Dock Brewing is located at: 15120 E Hampden Ave, Aurora, CO 80014.  303-400-5606.

Down at Rockyard Brewing, Jellyman’s busting out “The Preacher” for this week’s Deviation.  The Preacher is a Simcoe and Vanguard Pale Ale.

Tapping at 4 PM.  Rockyard Brewing is located at: 880 W Castleton Rd, Castle Rock, CO 80109. 303-814-9273.

Saturday, February 16th, 2013

Congrats to River North Brewery, who’ll be celebrating their 1-year Anniversary on Saturday.  Stop by and share a beer from their great lineup of Belgian-influenced ales.  You’ll also have the opportunity to try their newest and biggest beer yet, a 12.5% ABV Imperial Stout that was brewed to commemorate the special occasion.  120 cases produced, so perhaps this’ll see a bit of local distribution.  Keep your eyes peeled fellow beer hunters and gatherers.

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River North will also be offering tours of their barrel room.  The party starts at 1 PM and you won’t want to miss out.  River North Brewery is located at: 2401 Blake St, Denver, CO 80205.  303-296-2617,

The Tasty Weasel is also gearing up for an Anniversary Party.  The Oskar Blues Tap Room in Longmont will be celebrating 4 years with a super secret beer release, food trucks and of course skee ball. They’ll be joined by the Colorado Craft Beer Show, who’ll be kicking it off at noon on AM 760.  Better yet, stop by and watch the show live.

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The Tasty Weasel is located at: 1800 Pike Rd, Unit B, Longmont, CO 80501.  303-776-1914.

The 3rd Annual Winter Beer Fest is right around the corner.  On Saturday, the Woodland Park Cultural Center will be turned into a beer garden as Prost Brewing, Arvada Beer Company, Trinity Brewing and others set up shop for the afternoon.

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Tickets are only $15, but hurry, as they’ll jump to $30 if you wait to buy them at the door.  Ticket price includes taster glass and unlimited tastings.  This event runs from 2 – 6 PM.  More details and ticket info can be found HERE.  The Woodland Park Cultural Center is located at: 210 E Midland Ave, Woodland Park, CO 80863.

Pliny the Younger Update

The Younger kegs are slowly invading Denver.

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So far, we’ve got two tapping times confirmed.

Backcountry Pizza and Tap House will tap their keg on Sunday, February 24th at noon.  Tickets are $9 / 11 oz. and will be sold at 11 AM.  Backcountry Pizza and Tap House is located at: 2319 Arapahoe Ave, Boulder, CO 80302.  303-449-4285.

The Cheeky Monk Belgian Beer Cafe in Denver will have TWO tappings!  The first will hit tap lines on Monday, February 25th, the second will get tapped on Thursday, February 28th.  Both will start pouring at 6:30 PM.  $10 / glass, first come, first serve.  The Cheeky Monk is located at: 534 E Colfax Ave, Denver, CO 80203.  303-861-0347.

Until next time, here’s your German lesson for the week.

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Pretty sure they didn’t teach you that in High School.  Prost Brewing is located at: 2540 19th St, Denver, CO 80211.  303-729-1175.

It’s been fun.  Let’s do it again next weekend.

Cheers!

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A Brewer, A Blogger and A Beer at Dry Dock Brewing. Part 2 – The Future.

A brewer, a blogger and a bottle of 6-year old Dry Dock Framboise.  Where could this be headed? Well, when the brewer is Kevin DeLange, founder and owner of Dry Dock Brewing in Aurora, CO, good things are bound to happen.  Join us as we talk brews, brewers and breweries and share some tasty brews along the way. (That’s a lot of brew talk and that’s how I like it!)  In Part 1, we discussed Dry Dock’s Past and Present, going all the way back to their opening in 2005 and working up to the release of Bligh’s Barleywine later this year.  In Part 2, we’ll discuss the Future of Dry Dock Brewing into 2013 and beyond.  Grab a beer, err brew and join us!

Going Big, Staying Local.

Looking back over the past 7 years, a move, multiple expansions and two brew systems later, Dry Dock Brewing has reached capacity at their current location at the intersection of Hampden and Chambers in Aurora, CO.  Head Brewer Doug Hyndman and his team of brewers are currently working around the clock just to keep the tap lines flowing in the Tasting Room.  Owners Kevin and Michelle DeLange knew something had to be done if they were going to meet the ever-growing demand for their beer.

Rather than pick up the brewery and move, they made the decision to add a Production Facility to supplement their current 7 BBL operation in the Tasting Room.  Kevin DeLange said they wanted to keep the brewery local, so this past Summer, they purchased a 30,000 square foot location near I-70 and Tower Road to call home for the new Production Facility.

The additional location will be equipped with a larger brew system and a more efficient bottling line to expand their current lineup of 22oz. bombers.  The 40 BBL (1 BBL = 31 gallons) brewhouse, scheduled for delivery during the week of Thanksgiving, will greatly reduce the pressure currently being put on their 7 BBL system in the Tasting Room.

Doug checking out his new toy before it gets shipped to the brewery.

To put things into perspective, Dry Dock brewed roughly 200 BBL’s during their first year of business in 2005.  In 2012, they’re projected to brew 3,200 BBL’s, which will push their current system to the limits and still not meet consumer demand.  With the addition of their 40 BBL brew system, they plan to produce nearly 15,000 BBL’s in 2013.  The brand new brewhouse will allow Dry Dock to brew a 40 BBL batch (1,240 gallons) every 4 hours, while giving them the potential to pump out more than 100,000 BBL’s of beer a year!  They’re hoping to begin brewing on the new system by the end of 2012.

In addition to the new brewhouse, the Production Facility will also feature a canning line that will initially introduce 4 offerings into the Colorado market beginning in early 2013.  Consumers should keep an eye out for 6-packs, plus a mixed 12-pack of Hefeweizen, Hop Abomination, Apricot Blonde and Amber in January 2013.  The “Booty Box” will offer 3 cans of each of the 4 different beers.  The cans will be dated so beer lovers will know they’re getting the freshest beer money can buy.

Roll Out The Barrels!

For the funky, sour beer fans, a 63 BBL Oak Foeder has been acquired from a California Winery, with the specific goal of producing sour and wild beers.  And YES, they have plans to eventually bottle their sours!  WooHoo!  DeLange crunched some numbers and projects that a full batch in the foeder will produce “somewhere around 900 cases of 750 mL bottles”.  Keep in mind, it’s still a long ways away, largely due to the lengthy process and unpredictability of working with wild yeasts, but it IS coming!

While the 40 BBL Production Facility will focus on canning, bottling and kegging their Flagship Beers (Hefeweizen, Double IPA, Vanilla Porter, etc…), the 7 BBL system at the south-Aurora Tasting Room will be utilized for experiments for Tasting Room visitors.  Head Brewer Doug Hyndman and his team of brewers will have the chance to come up with new recipes, including small batch one-offs, lagers, stouts and sours and allow them the opportunity to get creative and try new things.  The 7 BBL system will offer the team a chance to experiment and deviate a bit from Dry Dock’s Flagship lineup.

Some of the beers brewed on the 7 BBL system will be used to expand the Dry Dock Barrel-Aging Program.  The current program consists of more than 50 barrels from a variety of wineries and distilleries.  Some of Dry Dock’s most popular beers such as Bligh’s Barleywine, Shotgun Russian Imperial Stout and The Ambassador Sour, spent time aging and absorbing the characteristics found in the different barrels. The Barrel-Aged brews can spend months and sometimes even years inside the barrels until they are ready to be kegged, bottled or blended together for the final product.

DeLange will have the luxury of moving extra brewing ingredients and tasting room supplies out of the Tasting Room and up to the Production Facility.  By doing so, he’ll free up quite a bit more room in the Tasting Room, which will ultimately allow Dry Dock to grow the barrel room and create even more unique beers in the process.

Collaborations with other breweries is an option DeLange may decide to explore in the near future. He said there’s been “some talk with Troy (Casey) over at AC Golden”.  Despite being owned by MillerCoors, Casey and his Hidden Barrel Project at AC Golden are steadily gaining recognition and respect from craft beer enthusiasts for their complex, barrel-aged sour ales and stouts.  Casey’s first round of bottled sours, was released earlier this year and sold out within minutes.  Just last month at the Great American Beer Festival, AC Golden hauled in a medal for their Barrel Aged Russian Imperial Stout.  While Dry Dock’s focus is clearly on getting their new location up and running, the possibilities certainly seem endless for DeLange and his Dry Dock Team.

A Beer Garden and New Tasting Room in 2014.

Right about now, you’re probably asking yourself “Yeah, but when can I stop by the Production Facility for a beer???”  The north-Aurora Production Facility rests on a 6-acre plot that will be transformed into a Beer Garden sometime in 2014.  The current plans for the project include a dog park, horseshoe pits and even a pond.  The proposed tasting room, also slated to open in 2014, will overlook the brewhouse and production floor, giving beer drinkers a chance to sit back and watch the magic happen while sipping on their favorite pint.  Once the Beer Garden and Tap Room are completed, Delange plans to work with the Colorado Brewers Guild to host and bring a beer festival to Aurora.

When I asked DeLange about his fondest Dry Dock memory, he shared a story about his first trip to the World Beer Cup (WBC) in 2006.  At the time, Dry Dock had only been open for a few months and he decided to enter just two beers for judging in the International Competition.  He assumed that his start-up brewery didn’t stand much of a chance at winning an award at the prestigious competition. So, rather than attend the Brewers Dinner and Awards Ceremony, he decided to sample beers in the lobby and watch the ceremony from a TV outside.  When he heard his H.M.S. Victory ESB announced as a Gold Medal Winner, his initial reaction was “Who stole our name?”.

Within his first year of opening Dry Dock, DeLange had landed a medal at what is essentially the “Super Bowl” of brewery competition and beer judging.  He’d accomplished a feat that some brewers spend a lifetime trying to achieve.  This was just the beginning of what has since become a long list of medals awarded to the brewery and their beers.

In under a decade DeLange has taken Dry Dock from a tiny nano-brewery located behind a homebrew shop and transformed it into one of the nation’s top breweries.  There are great things happening every day at Dry Dock and looking into the future, they show no signs of slowing down. Stop by the Tasting Room this weekend for their Anniversary Party and help them celebrate 7 Years of Great Beers!

Cheers!


A Brewer, A Blogger, and A Beer at Dry Dock Brewing. Part 1 – The First 7 Years.

A brewer, a blogger and a bottle of 6-year old Dry Dock Framboise.  Where could this be headed? Well, when the brewer is Kevin DeLange, founder and owner of Dry Dock Brewing in Aurora, CO, good things are bound to happen.  Join us as we talk brews, brewers and breweries and share some tasty brews along the way. (That’s a lot of brew talk and that’s how I like it!)  In Part 1, we’ll discuss Dry Dock’s Past and Present, going all the way back to their opening in 2005 and working up to the release of Bligh’s Barleywine later this year.  In Part 2, we’ll discuss the Future of Dry Dock Brewing into 2013 and beyond.  Grab a beer, err brew and join us!  

Humble Beginnings

Where, oh where does the time go?  It seems like the older I get, the quicker the time passes me by. I noticed it the other day as I was preparing for the upcoming Weekend Beer Buzz.  On my calendar, I had written down the Dry Dock Anniversary Party coming up on November 10th.  When I realized it was their 7th Anniversary, I scratched my head in disbelief.  7 years?!?!  Has it really been 7 years?

My wife and I discovered Dry Dock Brewing in Aurora within the first few months of their opening in 2005 and it didn’t take us long to become adopted as “regulars”.  I can still remember sitting in the original, tiny tasting room, behind The Brew Hut homebrew supply shop, sipping on their small batches of hand-crafted brews.  The Dry Dock of 2005 and 2006 was a family.  A pretty goofy one for sure, but a family nonetheless.  Everyone knew each other and we looked out for one another. Dry Dock came along and filled Aurora’s craft beer void and began producing great beers in the process.

While the small, 800 square foot tasting room, with its’ maximum capacity of 24 people (this may or may not have been exceeded on occasion…) might be extinct, Dry Dock and their beers have risen and gone on to rank among some of the finest in the land.  Walking into Dry Dock these days, one can’t help but notice the wall of awards in the Brewery located at the corner of Hampden and Chambers.

A ton of medals decorate the brewery, coming from a variety of sources, including the Colorado State Fair, Great American Beer Festival and the World Beer Cup.

Let’s not forget they were crowned U.S. Small Brewery of the Year in 2009.  This all happened in less than 4 years!

Dry Dock Brewing 2.0

By 2009, Dry Dock had outgrown their humble home behind The Brew Hut and were forced to expand further down in the Aurora strip mall they called home.   They upgraded to a 7 BBL brewhouse and jumped into their current 9,000 square foot location, which gave beer drinkers plenty of space to spread out and enjoy themselves.

Dry Dock brought The Brew Hut with them, which has evolved into the area’s leading retailer for supplies, ingredients and know-how with regards to homebrewing, wine making, cheese making and more.  The new location has also played host to many popular events like the annual Docktoberfest and the Ho Ho Ho Slapdown.

Over the years, owners Kevin and Michelle DeLange have recruited a team of world-class brewers that bring a variety of different beer backgrounds and resumes into the brewhouse.  The Dry Dock brewers keep things interesting for even the most adventurous of beer geeks with an ever rotating selection of seasonals, one-offs, firkins and barrel-aged rarities that supplement their award-winning Flagship lineup of beers.

The team is led by Head Brewer Doug Hyndman, who has previously brewed at Ska and Green Flash.  Hyndman took the reigns at Dry Dock when former Head Brewer Bill Eye departed to open Prost Brewing in Denver earlier this year.  Hyndman has already begun to make a name for himself, by bringing the West Coast to Colorado, with his big, citrusy, hop-centric Double IPA’s.  The delicious flavor of his Hop Abomination (a favorite of mine!), will be squeezed into cans for the first time early next year.  (More on Dry Dock’s entrance into the canning business in Part 2).

For Dry Dock’s weekly Firkin Friday releases, Brewer / Firkin Master Walt Chleva has been given carte blanche to come up with new and interesting batches of beers for the Friday afternoon tappings.  He tries to pair his releases with the seasons and looks to “use local ingredients as much as possible”.

Many of the beers don’t make it past the first hour of getting tapped on Friday evenings.  Not much of a surprise considering he’s created beers like Peanut Butter Cup Porter, Double Dry-Hopped Double IPA and his personal favorite, Toasted Coconut Porter.  In the Toasted Coconut Porter, Chleva says he “uses a pound of hand toasted coconut for each firkin”, which he’s happy to point out, “makes my house smell great!”.

Although not every beer is a sure-fire winner, (Wasabi Rice Pale anyone?) and he’s still fine tuning his Maple Bacon Amber Ale recipe, but the majority of his Firkins leave Dry Dock customers thirsting for more.  In the past month alone, he’s released a Boysenberry Sour, Madagascar Vanilla Bean Porter and a Cherry Belgian Blonde.  He’s already looking towards next Summer, when he’s hoping to “make a Palisade Peach Ale and maybe a Fresh Hop Firkin”.

Do yourself a favor and get over to Dry Dock on a Friday to see what he’s brewed for the week.  Keep up to date with what Chleva has planned by checking our Weekend Beer Buzz.  Firkin Friday Tappings occur at 3 PM and 7 PM.  Don’t be late or you might get stuck listening to your friends tell you about the one that got away.

Going Big With Bligh’s

Dry Dock’s flagship lineup, which consists of USS Enterprise IPA, Apricot Blonde, HMS Victory Amber, Breakwater Pale Ale, Vanilla Porter, Double IPA and Hefeweizen, continue to draw in appreciative craft beer drinkers and regularly introducing new palates to Colorado’s craft beer movement.  Dry Dock also continues to deliver the goods with their big, experimental, boundary pushing, world-class releases.

Take for example, last year’s inaugural release of Bligh’s Barleywine, an English Barleywine, aged in Stranahan Whiskey Barrels.  Bligh’s was so well received by craft beer aficionados that it catapulted the beer onto the “Top 100 Beers on Planet Earth” as ranked by BeerAdvocate.com.

Later this year, Dry Dock will release a new batch of Bligh’s Barleywine in 22oz. bombers.  This highly anticipated, 10% ABV English Barleywine has spent the past year in Colorado Whiskey Barrels, absorbing notes of vanilla, oak and caramel along the way.  DeLange was kind enough to pull a nail from one of the many barrels housing Bligh’s and share a sample of this year’s batch.  You’re not going to want to miss this one!

With a target release date of 12/15/12, it’s the perfect beer to warm up with at the end of a cold, winter day.  In addition to 22oz. bombers, Bligh’s will also be pouring in the Tap Room for a limited time. Sorry, but NO Growler fills, in order to allow as many people as possible to try this extremely popular beer.

From There to Here, But Now Where?

In 7 years, Dry Dock has gone from a nano-brewery in the back of a homebrew supply shop to one of the top breweries in the nation.  But what’s next for Kevin and Michelle DeLange and their team of skilled brewers and dedicated employees?  Check back soon for Part 2 as we continue our chat with Kevin DeLange and talk about what lies ahead for the Aurora-based brewery.  This is BIG!  Trust me, you won’t want to miss this!

Cheers!


The Beer Lover’s Guide To Cheese: Double IPA & Blue Cheese

Beer & Cheese.  Oh, how they go together so well.  Oh, how I savor each sip of dreamy beer and bite of creamy cheese.  They are a treat.

Today, we take our first step in an exploration of beer and cheese pairings.  But first, I need to take a minute to say Thanks to my wonderful wife.  I came home from work today to find she had stocked our fridge with a growler of Dry Dock’s Hop Abomination and enough cheese to make a goat blush.  She rocks!

So Hop Abomination is a special Double IPA brewed every now and then by Dry Dock’s head brewer Doug Hyndman.  He tweaks the recipe for each batch, resulting in a new, unique and fun beer every time.  This time he’s calling it Hop Abomination Funf (with those “fancy” umlauts over the U, which I can’t find on my keyboard).  Funf was brewed with five different hops: Chinook, CTZ, Centennial, Amarillo and Galena.  As if that wasn’t enough to scare the sissy’s off, he dry-hopped it with an additional five pounds of hops!

It’s a magnificent, furry, beastly DIPA, with absolutely no manners, no reservations and no apologies.  I embrace it.  It makes the Gargoyle from Stone Brewing look like a skirt-wearing cheerleader.  This big-ass brew clocks in with a 6.6% ABV and rocks your esophagus with 100+ IBU’s!

Details, details…  On to the pour!  I poured this aggressive beauty into a Dry Dock tulip.  Hop Abomination Funf pours a slightly hazy, dark orange color with slow traces of carbonation.  The foamy, off-white colored head, leaves its unique and intricate spiderwebs of lacing around the top of the glass.

The aroma is hops.  Duh!  Seriously, what did you expect?  Alright, a second visit reveals citrus notes, faint malt and caramel and, hmm, what’s that…  oh yeah, it’s MORE HOPS!  Bitter, smart-ass, know it all, teenage hops.  These hops are just downright rude.  I love it.

Finally, time to taste this beast.  Funf has more sweet and nutty characteristics than I expected.  It’s almost, dare I say, malty Amber or German Maibock? tasting in the base beer.  Once my mouth moves past the sweetness, it’s dominated by the lurking, evil-twin brother, bitter hops in the background.  It lasts and lasts and lasts and I like love it.

To be honest, I’m a little surprised at the drinkability of Funf.  It’s completely possible that my palate is still recuperating from yesterday’s SourFest, but to me, this beer is well-balanced and easy drinking.  Easy drinking might not be the best term to use.  I know there are certain light(er) beer drinkers (GASP!) and Blue Moon types that read this blog, and compared to mass market beers, this isn’t easy drinking at all.  But to the cats that attend events like SourFest or Strong Ale Fest, they might consider this balanced and smoother than previous batches of Hop Abomination’s.

Either way, Hop Abomination is delish!  Damn good!  Thank you Doug for brewing and releasing another tasty batch of this beer.  Bottles please?  Pretty please?

Cheese?  Did I mention cheese about 8 paragraphs up?!?  Why, yes I did.  IPA’s both big and small long to be paired with a nice, big ol’ hunk of cheese.  Wine is nice, but beer and it’s bubbly carbonation will cleanse your palate after each taste, which might be why I prefer beer over wine.

My favorites to pair with the style are sharp’s and blue’s.  Both styles of cheese are big and bold in flavor, which you need if you want something to stand up to the big flavors of an IPA.  Essentially, a lighter cheese will get washed out by a big, flavorful beer and vice versa.  Big beers and big cheese go hand-in-hand.  Still with me?

For tonight, I’ve decided to pair Hop Abomination Funf, with a big chunk of Blue Cheese.  Blue cheese is spiked with Penicillium, which results in a sharp, salty, blue-veined cheese.  It’s divine!  There are quite a few variations including Gorgonzola, Roquefort and Stilton.  They all have their own, unique qualities and I highly recommend taking your time in exploring them and finding your favorite(s).

For me, there’s nothing better than a wedge of Cambozola.  You can’t beat it.  I challenge you to try.  Hmm, scratch that, bacon might (and I stress MIGHT), improve Cambozola.  I just got a craving for Cambozola bacon cheeseburgers!  We’ll talk Cambozola another day, don’t you worry.

I’m generally not a fan of these crazy kids and their new-fangled “beer cocktails” and I feel the same way about my cheese.  I like to eat my cheese on its’ own.  It’s really just about personal preference.  If you want some crackers, skip the cheese nips and go with something simple so you don’t miss out on the cheese flavor.  Or, get creative and use your cheese in a recipe.  Blue crumbles nicely and can be easily drizzled over pizza, pasta or salad.  Mix it up and make a burger or omelette.  It’s up to you.

Take a look at the cheese section next time your at the grocery store.  See what kind of interesting cheeses you can find and try your hand at pairing them up with your favorite beers.  Give it a whirl and feel free to share your opinions and suggestions on the Facebook Page.

Oh, and grab some Hop Abomination Funf while you’re at it.  It won’t be around for long, so get it while you can.

Cheers!