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Archive for the ‘Brewer: Nebraska’ Category

Nebraska Reserve Series Apricot Au Poivre Saison Aged in Chardonnay Barrels

March 29th, 2011 by Aaron Goldfarb | 1 Comment | Filed in Brewer: Nebraska, Brewer: Russian River, Country: America, Grade: A regular, Style: Blonde Ale, Style: Saison/Farmhouse Ale

6.5% from a 750 mL

(I apologize for the sideways picture–my iPhone is fucked up.)

So…I write a novel, I’m feeling pretty proud about myself, about my career, and yet I keep hearing from people, I keep receiving emails:

“Why don’t you review beer any more?!”

I guess I thought novel > beer blog reviews in the world of writing and entertainment, but apparently, to many people, that isn’t the case and, in fact, I alienated many of my fans!  They didn’t care about my stupid novel (that took years to write), they care about my subversive reviews of craft beer (that take a few minutes to write).

Who am I to be the arbiter of my fan’s enjoyment?  Thus, I am back.  And, I plan to be back with new reviews every single week now.  My first “back” review, though, is of a great beer by some of my good friends in the industry, Nebraska Brewing Company.

Nebraska burst onto the scene in 2010 with two of my favorite beers of the year:  Hop God aged in Chardonnay Barrels and Melange a Trois, a tripel aged in, you guessed in, Chardonnay barrels.  Here’s another beer aged in Chardonnay barrels, this time using their Apricot Au Poivre Saison as the base.

Now, oddly enough, I’ve had all of Nebraska’s rare, high-end, and pricey brews–which, luckily, they ship to me, gratis–but I haven’t had that many of their regular line.  I was fortunate enough to finally try their IPA the other day and it is as good as anything on either coast, and last summer I sucked down plenty of the standard Apricot Au Poivre.  That was a nice little brew, but the chardonnay aging takes this one to a completely different level.

Flawlessly effervescent.  A slight tartness yet the apricot fruitiness comes through with just a hint of stinging black pepper.  I put back a 750 of this in about 750 seconds.  I was loving it that much.  Another huge winner from Nebraska that demands being searched for.  It still doesn’t even have a single review on Beer Advocate yet!  Come on people.

A

Is Nebraska one of the best sour beer makers in America?!  Hard to say, there’s so many great ones and NBC doesn’t quite have as large of catalog (yet) as some other, older breweries.  But they might be the best Chardonnay-barreled beer maker around.  Or, damn close.  At the moment, I’d rank them 2nd to the American kings of the sour beer game, Russian River, who also favor Chardonnay aging.

Interestingly, just a few weeks earlier I tried a Russian River beer aged in these beloved barrels:

Russian River Sanctification

This is a 6.5% Belgian Blond aged in Chardonnay oak with 100% Brett added.  And, whoa!, is it a nice beer.  Perhaps the best-looking beer I’ve ever had.  Looks like fresh squeezed OJ with the pulp removed.  Not overly complex, but flawless in execution.  Tart, crisp, with the fruity taste of a nice white wine.  Not too sour, and totally refreshing.  A beauty.

A

Black Betty Imperial Stout Reserve Series Aged In Whiskey Barrels (2009)*

July 19th, 2010 by Aaron Goldfarb | 10 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Nebraska, Country: America, Grade: A-, Style: Stout

9.3% ABV from a 1 pint, 9.4 FL oz

You’d be surprised how often I get solicited.  No, not solicited for paid sexual services.  That rarely happens any more.  Rather, solicited to talk about a product here on my blog.  Usually one that’s vice related, no surprise.  I’ll get an e-mail along the lines of something like…

Hello The Vice Blog!

I am a huge fan of The Vice Blog, keep up the great work! I am writing to you about a fun new campaign that would be of great interest to The Vice Blog readers: LAME BREWERY’s “Salute to Summer’s Web Jam,” an initiative launched by CORPORATE BEER USA in association with MyspaceTM. In honor of the program, celebrity chef Tyler Florence and celebrity celebrity Maria Menounos have created an exquisite new menu of fun summer treats and grilled dishes that pair perfectly with the delicious flavor of LAME BREWERY’s new line of 55 calorie products.

Below, we have included a press release and high-res images which would make for a GREAT The Vice Blog post your readers would surely love.  Can you blog it?

Also, please URGE your The Vice Blog readers to become a Facebook fan of LAME BREWERY and “Salute to Summer Web Jam” at http://www.facebook.com/#!/lamebrewerysalutetosummerwebjam

Regards,

Stacy Dumbass
Social Media/PR
Lame Brewery

Lazy, impersonal, artificial, and worst of all boring.  Wait, no, even worst of all–insulting.  Ten minutes ago I didn’t even know about your product, now I fucking hate it.  And once I sober up I’m going to write something bashing you and your product. Do these companies think I’m so hard up for material and so entranced by transparent consumerism to be suckered into doing their online bidding for them?!

Can you imagine if I tried to treat these companies the way they treat me?

Dear Lame Rum Company!

We here at The Vice Blog know you like your alcohol, so how about naming a future rum bottling after us?!  We’d suggest calling it Vicey Pure Cane, but feel free to come up with any idea you see fit.  Below we’ve even offered a prospective recipe as well as some classy label art we designed.

Thanks for the time and don’t forget to tell all your friends about the Vice Blog as well as becoming a Fan of us on Facebook…

What morons at these beer and booze (and other) companies think these are effective means of getting their product name out there?

Yet I get several of these e-mails per week.  Perhaps they’ve noticed my blogging has tapered off to a few measly posts per month and they think, “Man, I really used to love Aaron’s site but now he’s clearly starved for content.  Let’s help the guy out!!!”  But, no, I really doubt that’s it.  They’re just lazy and feel superior to a meager blogger and assume surely he’d love to be an e-whore and help the big guys out.

Here’s my favorite recent, unsolicited e-mail.  I’m still not sure whether it’s a sly joke or from the pen of a crazy person.  Whatever the case, they got me to talk about them and offer a hyperlink so I suppose they won.

I just ran into your site and wanted to say hey! I’m Matt - I’m a college student and I run a little site on the side.I just wrote a post about necktie cakes for Father’s Day that I’d like to offer you to use (I know how hard it is to come up with blog posts). But if anything - it may give you inspiration for your own Father’s Day themed post :)

Here is the link to the post - http://www.tiepedia.com/tie-blog/49-crafts/155-tie-cake

My site is pretty new and would definitely benefit by getting linked to from you. Let me know if you have any questions or if you need anything!

-Matt

At least tie guy is incredibly honest:  “My site…would definitely benefit by getting linked to from you.”

Isn’t that exactly the same thing these other unsolicited e-mails want from me?

Our beer would definitely benefit by getting linked by you.

Our booze would definitely benefit by getting linked by you.

Our book would definitely benefit by getting linked by you.

Fair enough…but how the fuck do I benefit?  How the fuck do my readers benefit?  This shit has to be quid pro quo friend-o (ask your corporate lawyer way down the hall what that fancy Latin term means.)  And it’s not just enough of a quid pro quo that you’re giving me a little corporate-speak content.  Howzabout giving me something I might like?  Like, oh, I don’t know?, some free fucking beer?  Or booze?  Then you might get me to write about you.

Admittedly, most of these terrible solicitations come from corporate giants.  Faceless beer and booze makers, behemoth book publishing companies, and the like.  Almost never from craft beer makers and artisanal booze crafters.

Here’s a hint, morons, actually develop relationships with your customers or would-be customers.  It ain’t that hard.  Take Nebraska Brewing Co. for example.

I’d heard about this new brewery from Nebraska who had just brought their beers to the New York market and who were getting some decent buzz.  Nebraska?  “Could there really be great beers coming out of Nebraska?!” thought this east coast elitist and former Tom Osbourne hater.  I had to find out.  I got a growler of their Hop God.  Wrote a semi-positive review of it.  Tweeted it.  Paul Kavulak and Tyson Arp from NBC began following me.  Began to respond to my tweets.  When out of my own pocket I paid, what I assumed to be, a fairly steep $30 for Hop God Chardonnay I tweeted how awesome it was and Tyson responded with a “Toldja!”  They even posted my review in their brewpub.  One day a few weeks later, I got a DM from Paul.  “What’s your address Aaron?”  Soon, I received bottles of Black Betty and their Fathead barley wine.  Later some Melange a Trois, a chardonney-barreled Belgian blonde.  Now, a few months later, I consider myself friends of Nebraska Brewing Co.  Friends of Paul and Tyson and even his wife Angela.  I HAVE NEVER MET THESE PEOPLE.  I am some 1200 miles from where they live.  Fuck, I have never even spoken to them in more than 140 character bursts.  Yet I consider them some sort of friends.  And, you better believe, I love evangelizing to my “real” friends about the greatness of my Nebraska friends’ beer.  They have won me over for sure.  And it doesn’t hurt that they are making some DAMN fine product (which when it comes down to it is more important than the most savvy advertising/marketing/networking in the world.)

Black Betty[...] poured thinner than I’ve come to expect from the myriad of syrupy and sticky barreled aged imperial stouts that have deluged my life in the past few years.  But that’s fine as the oak and bourbon come through even better and aren’t overpowered by any sort of hotness.  The taste is ridiculously smooth, I kept checking the ABV to make sure it wasn’t 5% or something as it goes down like a lower ABV dry stout.  But the taste is pure Russian Imperial.  Boozy but not scorching, more creamy than dark chocolaty, like a mix of vanilla and fudge.  Mild roastiness and espresso-like qualities.  Nice carbonation and splendid mouthfeel.  A really delicious effort I was sad to see go.  Nebraska has quickly gone from off the radar to the hottest new brewery of the year, one I demand you check out if at all possible.

If the crux of this post looks to be like I’m giving a little lesson to bloggers on how to score some free shit, I’m not.  My lesson is for these corporations that don’t understand social media and networking.  The ones that claim to read The Vice Blog and enjoy The Vice Blog and think The Vice Blog and it’s readers would love to hear about X, Y, and Z (and who love to use form letters and e-mails as well.)  Guys, don’t worry about me and my content.  My content is just fine.  I don’t need some 300 word “corporate speak” press release to get my post totals up.  If I like your fucking product, if I LOVE your fucking product, I’ll have no problem cranking out a 1500 word love song to it like I just did here.  Now beat that.

A-

*I think we have a new longest beer title record, breaking Nebraska’s previous effort Hop God Reserve Series Aged in French Oak Chardonnay Barrels.

Hop God Reserve Series Aged In French Oak Chardonnay Barrels

April 20th, 2010 by Aaron Goldfarb | 6 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Nebraska, Country: America, Grade: A regular, Style: IPA

10.1% ABV from a 750 mL

Now beer bloggers are a loathsome lot.  They sit at bars avoiding social contact in order to furiously scribble tasting notes.  They spend forever getting the lighting just so in order to take a picture of their beers when you just want to pop the cork and split the fucking thing.  They slobber-ogle the stray female that accidentally finds herself in a committed craft beer bar.  They, also, shamelessly beg for free “review” samples all day long, perhaps the most loathsome part of the beer blogger ethos.  They’ll ceaselessly tweet their idolized brewmasters asking for bottles, they’ll e-mail them, they’ll harangue them at beer events.  It’s like a high school virgin begging for sex.  Just pathetic.

Though, just like the high school virgin eventually wears down his girlfriend, these beer bloggers typically wear down the brewmaster who’d like to just get back to, you know, making beer and the blogger gets the sample (and laudingly shillingly praises it online) and now no one–not the devirginized virgins, the beer bloggers, or anyone–feels good about it.

Not that I too won’t occasionally do that kind of thing.  (Hey, just because I’m a hypocrite doesn’t mean I am wrong.)

Sometimes, when a beer is rare or I don’t have access to it, I’ve had to tweet out a favor or two.  There’s another time I might try to get a review sample–when shit’s expensive and this Jew don’t feel like paying for it.  Such was the case with the ten-word titled beer I will discuss henceforth.

Nebraska Brewing had just entered the New York market within the past month and I’d greatly enjoyed their Hop God.  Hearing they had some bottles of it aged in chardonnay barrels (whoa!) I eagerly looked for the stuff.  Now, admittedly, it seemed to be pretty limited in the marketplace but I did see a bottle or two floating around in the $25-30 price range.  Quite a bit to pay for a beer from an upstart brewery, especially when said beer had only a half-dozen or so reviews online (even if they were all glowing.)  So, I danced around online and never outright asked for any, but insinuated that I needed some sent to me, man, so I could, like, review it officially and stuff.  No luck.

Finally, last week, while making a rare visit to the is-it-now-so-passe-it’s-no-longer-passe once great Gingerman, my drinking companion wondered, “Are there any expensive bottles here you’d like to split?”  I scanned the extensive menu.  “As a matter of fact, there is…”  And such is how I came to spend a mere $14 for a half-share of some ten-word special Hop God.

It was worth every penny.

I can’t think of many Belgian IPAs* nor many chardonnay barreled beers**, which certainly means I can’t think of a single chardonnay barreled Belgian IPA which makes this Hop God a nice oddball rarity in my book.

The taste was more God-like than hop-like, I didn’t get any hops at all quite frankly through the nose or taste, but that hardly matters.  This was one bottle of sour tart deliciousness.  Strong wood flavors come through with the oak and the Belgian yeastiness is accented nicely by some subtle wine flavors.  Just a hint of citric sour fruit flavors as well.  Tastes not Belgian IPAish at all, more like a wild ale, so while I feel somewhat silly filing this as a Belgian IPA I’m not sure there’s any Brett in the barrel to make this officially “wild,” if that would be the one distinction.

A good beer can never be priced too much for me once I finally see how good it is and this one falls into that category completely.  I nearly considered buying another bottle even.  Though I doubted their ways at first, now I greatly admire Nebraska’s aggressive release, distribution, and pricing strategies.  What a way to splash onto the scene.  If you know you got good shit, why wouldn’t you act accordingly?  Seek this one out, ladies and fellas, it’s really fucking good.

This beer was actually Nebraska’s third release in their Reserve series and I’ve heard straight from the owners’ mouth that the first two releases, Black Betty–a RIS aged in whiskey barrels–and Fathead–a barleywine aged likewise–may hit NYC soon.  Which means I will immediately start e-begging for those two bottles the second I hit publish on the post and tweet owner and brewmaster to “Hey, hey, check out my glowing post!!!!”

A

*Though adding “Belgian” or “Belgo-” to many Americanized styles is currently de rigueur in the industry.

**Though Google “chardonnay barreled beer” and only two breweries’ beers appear on page 1:  Russian River and Nebraska Brewing Co.  Not bad company at all, eh?

Hop God

April 8th, 2010 by Aaron Goldfarb | 2 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Nebraska, Country: America, Grade: A-, Style: IPA

9.2% ABV from a growler

Pretty much every American brewery has a neologistically hop-named beer, whether in the format of Hop ____, or ____ Hop, or even ____ Hop ____.*  Nebraska Brewing Company out of…uh, Nebraska, has their own hop-named beer, Hop God.  Great name for a beer, not necessarily a great name for this beer.  Though this beer is a pretty great beer, so a minor nomenclatural quibble.

The first and only beer I’ve ever had from out of Nebraska–the first and only beer I’ve ever heard of coming out of Nebraska–is a draught only offering that has just begun popping up around New York City in the last few weeks.  With a name like Hop God I assumed a classically bitter and uber-hopped San Diego-style India pale ale, but was pleasantly surprised to pop the plunger on my growler to be hit with that beautiful scent of Belgian banana esters just like a glorious Aventinus, which is a German beer actually, come to think of it.  The taste is indeed perhaps more Belgian, that of a golden yeasty tripel with an underlying silky hoppy taste and a nice hint of Laffy Taffy with a little spiciness and bitterness.  Imminently drinkable, I really really enjoyed this bad boy and went through my lone growler in a hurry.

I’m now excited to try more Nebraska Brewing offerings, and, luckily, they have a Chardonnay barrel aged Hop God which just sounds so inspired and delicious.  Bottles of this seem to be semi-rare, and I’ve started seeing them around town, but at a price point (don’t you hate when people say “price point” trying to sound smart–”price” will almost always suffice) of $25 minimum, I’m just not ready to take an economic gamble on such an as-yet-still little known beer (a mere four total reviews currently on Beer Advocate).  I’ll wait til some more people try it and hopefully rave about it before I whip out a Jackson and Lincoln for it.  Of course, if Nebraska Brewing wants me to be that guinea pig, they can always just send me a bottle for review (insert winking smiley face emoticon here).

A-

*A few favorites:  Hop Whallop, Hoptimus Prime, Exponential and Pure Hoppiness, and Me So Hoppy (the name for the nonexistant DIPA my as-yet-nonexistant brewing will brew.)