Friday, June 25, 2010

What we're drinking tonight: North Coast Old Stock Ale 2010

There's no way that head is real.
We've heard high-gravity beers compared to cough medicine before. We've even had a few. That's not what we expected from this highly-rated beer from North Coast Brewing. It gets a double A- on Beer Advocate and Ratebeer gives it an overall score of 99.

Old Stock Ale pours a dark, rich, somewhat hazy mahogany. The thin head it works up fizzes away quickly and leaves no lace. The first thing that hits your nose is the 11.5% alcohol, quickly followed by cherries.

The taste is similar, with the hot alcohol giving way to cherry sweetness, followed by back-of-the-tongue bitterness. And therefore the cough medicine comparison.

We will quickly admit that barley wine is not one of our preferred beer styles. We'll also readily point out that not one drop of our Old Stock Ale was wasted. Which is a shame, because, according to both the brewer and several Internet reviews, cellaring is highly recommended. Dang it. We should have saved some for a future tasting.

A GFOTB (Good Friend of the Blog) gave us our Old Stock Ale from North Coast Brewing and we're very appreciative. We're not sure if it was bought here in Birmingham or while on one of his recent travels. If you've seen it in town, let us know in the comments.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Something's brewing in Avondale

Well, almost brewing, anyway. Avondale Brewing Co. has been working on their building at 201 41st Street South in the Avondale area for some time now. We've known about it for a while, but promised not to spill the beans before they were ready.

Apparently they're ready to talk now. Not only have they launced their Facebook page, but have now been featured in a Birmingham News article. Owners Craig Shaw and Coby Lake say they plan to brew Avondale Pale Ale and Long Branch Lager at first, as well as Bottletree IPA for the Bottletree Cafe just up the road.

We wish them luck, but from the look of the photos, they've got lots of work to do between now and their target launch date of January. Check out the Birmingham News' video above for more views of Avondale Brewing Co. If it won't play above, click here to go to and watch.

Monday, June 21, 2010

UPDATE: Dee's has Good People and glass growlers!

Not sure what's more exciting. That Dee's has Good People left or that they now have glass growlers. Maybe both.

Now you can get your hard to find Snakehandler in a nice, big glass growler. Pay $5 for your growler (printed, btw, with a big, red Dee's logo), then pay for your beer. Next time you go to Dee's, exchange your empty growler for a clean one for free and pay for whatever beer you want.

We're not sure what they're doing to get around ABC and health department rules, but it sounds good to us. Better get over there before the secret gets out.

Click here to see what Dee's has on tap this week.

UPDATE: We talked to Jimmy at HiPS Tuesday and he says they too will soon begin selling growlers that can be returned for exchange. Possibly as soon as the end of this week. Good news indeed. Click here to see what HiPS has on tap.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

What we're drinking tonight: Great Divide Chocolate Oak Aged Yeti

Coffee and chocolate are quite evident on the first taste, with a viscosity that allows the black liquid to coat every surface of your mouth. But then something else. Something that burns just a little bit. High ABV? No, just 9.5%, not nearly enough to get your tongue tingling like this. No, Great Divide's Chocolate Oak Aged Yeti has a secret, high-powered ingredient: Cayenne pepper.

While we weren't surprised by this beer's thick, black body and dark-brown head, we gotta admit the pepper was a surprise. Don't worry if you don't like spicy foods. This beer's kick is more like the tingle of a stick of Big Red, not the burn of a raw jalapeƱo. The cayenne doesn't even show up until you've swallowed the slightly sweet brew.

But those are really this beer's only two distinguishing characteristics. Dark, bitter chocolate turns into a slight spiciness that lingers long after you've finished. Interesting for sure, but not all that complicated.

We picked up our half-gallon at HiPS for $13. Expect it to go fast.