Review: Late Harvest, Red Hook Ale Brewery

Late Harvest
Redhook Ale Brewery — Woodinville, Washington

• Style: Autumn Ale
• Bitterness: 32 IBU
• ABV: 5.9%
• OG: 14.65 P
• Malts: Pale, C60, C70/80, C Vienne, Smoke
• Hops: Willamette, Saaz, Chinook
• Sampled: 12 oz. bottle

Description: “As the fall days grow shorter, beer drinkers naturally start their migration toward more robust, full-bodied brews. Late Harvest is an easy-drinking, yet flavorful brew that features a deep chestnut color and unique, roasted malt aroma and flavor. Late Harvest's rich flavor is the result of using four different malts, yet the robust profile remains balanced and sophisticated, thanks to our two distinctive hop additions..”— Redhook

Random thoughts:  This is the first of my fall seasonal reviews.  It was a cool day, and I thought I'd start with the Redhook.

The tasting:  Color is brownish orange--perhaps I'm under the spell of the fall colored label.  Nice aroma--I can't make it out, but it's not hops.  Body is light-medium.  On the first taste, I'm getting a roasted malt flavor, but not a lot of hops.  Very smooth, with no aftertaste.  Nice flavor--good for fall drinking.  Maybe, it's just good marketing, but it's making me look forward to fall. 

Rating:  3 star.  Good.  I'd drink this again if someone gave it to me.  I like this beer, and would drink it again, but it's not particularly memorable. 

Review: MacPelican's Scottish Style Ale, Pelican Pub & Brewery

MacPelican's Scottish Style Ale
Pelican Pub & Brewery — Pacific City, OR

  • Style: Scottish Ale
  • Bitterness: 17 IBU
  • ABV: 5.0%
  • Malts: Golden Promise, Caramel
  • Hops: Willamette
  • Sampled: 2 oz. draft sampler

Description:  Our interpretation of the Scottish Export style is coppery amber in color and features a mild, malty aroma. The malty flavor is balanced with Willamette hops to add a little "snap" to the flavor and finish of this rich ale.  — Pelican Pub & Brewery

Random thoughts:  This was the 2nd of 7 beers I sampled during my visit to Pelican.  All seven were included in Pelican's $6 beer sampler.

The tasting:  Color is amber / copper.  Again, similar to the Kiwanda Cream Ale, I didn’t really smell anything.  It’s medium bodied.  Unlike the Kiwanda, this has flavor--sweet malt, and some kind of fruit--but I can't really place it.  Overall, it has nice combination of flavors.   

Rating:  3 star.  Good.  I'd drink it again if someone gave it to me.  I was wavering between 3 and 4 stars.  However, I decided that if I'm ever on fence about a rating, I will grade down.  After all, there should be fewer higher rated beers....right?!?  

Have you had this beer or any other Scottish ale?  If so, let me know which one, and I'll try to find it.

Review: Kiwanda Cream Ale, Pelican Pub & Brewery

Kiwanda Cream Ale
Pelican Pub & Brewery — Pacific City, OR

  • Style: Cream Ale
  • Bitterness: 25 IBU
  • ABV: 5.1%
  • Malts: Premium Two-Row, Carapils
  • Hops: Mount Hood
  • Sampled: 2 oz. draft sampler

Description:  Inspired by one of America's traditional 19th century beer styles, Kiwanda Cream Ale is pale gold with a fruity, floral hop aroma. A sweet malty flavor and a smooth dry finish round out this tasty, refreshing brew! — Pelican Pub & Brewery

Random thoughts:  This was the 1st of 7 beers I sampled during my visit to Pelican.  I actually tried this at the 2010 Oregon Brewers’ Festival, and remember not being too crazy about it.  So I was anxious to give it another taste, just to be sure.

The tasting:  Color is pale straw. I don’t really smell anything at all. It’s very lighted bodied and smooth going down.  Honestly, I really don’t taste much at all either. This is my first sample of the day, so I know my senses can’t be that far off the mark! If you like this style, I expect you might want to drink several on a hot summer day. Although this may be ale, it reminds me of a very light lager.

Rating:  2 star.  Drinkable--but not sure I really want to.  Just to be fair, this is NOT a bad beer.  But, in my humble opinion, if you’re going to drink a beer and expend the money and calories to do so, it may as well have some flavor and substance to it.  If you’re looking for a very light and not hoppy beer, this may be the one you’re looking for.

Have you had this beer or any other cream ale? If so, let me know if you liked it.

Beer Run: Main Street Homebrew's New Bottles!

Earlier this week, Main Street Homebrew announced they will sell bottled beer.  I was anxious to check out their selection since they are focusing on brews you can't find at supermarkets.  Even better, they let you create your own six-pack

They just received their initial shipment, and expect to stock about a hundred different beers over the next few weeks.  These are the five I selected and will sample in the very near future.

I'm still working my way through Round 1 of the Fall Seasonals, and I will probably bounce back and forth between those and the ones you see here.  I've never tasted anything from Firestone Walker or Nectar, and I look forward to trying them!  Have you tasted them?  Let me now what you think.

Pelican Pub & Brewery — A Day at the Beach

Pelican Pub & Brewery, Pacific City, OR

My oldest son recently reminded me that we hadn’t visited the beach in a long time.  The beautiful Oregon summer is rapidly ending and we needed to rectify this predicament.  So I took the day off, loaded up the family truckster, and we headed for the coast.

When we arrived, we were greeting by picture-perfect weather, the majestic Haystack Rock, and to my utter surprise and amazement—a brewpub located right on the beach!  OK, it wasn’t really a coincidence.  We picked Pacific City because we wanted to visit Pelican.  We hadn’t been there in over 5 years, and this seemed like a perfect opportunity.

Haystack Rock, Pacific City, OR
Pelican Pub & Brewery, August 2010

Pelican has delicious food and of course, great beer—which is all brewed and bottled on site.  When we visited, they had five regular house brews on tap as well as two rotating seasonal beers.  I tried all seven courtesy of their beer sampler, which is a deal at only $6!

Pelican's Beer Sampler!

I plan to write detailed reviews of each of these, if I can decipher my audio tasting notes.  It’s hard to enjoy and contemplate your beer with two restless kids in close proximity.

A day at the beach with beautiful weather, family, and great beer—who could ask for anything more?

Pelican's Patio.  Not a bad place to relax...

Pelican's on-site brewery

Review: Trippel, New Belgium Brewing Co.

New Belgium Brewing Co. — Fort Collins, Colorado

• Style: Belgian Ale
• Bitterness: 25 IBU
• ABV: 7.8%
• Sampled: 12 oz. bottle

Description: “Our Trippel Belgian Style Ale (pronounced triple) opens with a bold blast of hops that slowly gives way to the fruity esters implied by our Belgian yeast strain. In the Belgian tradition of brewing singles, doubles and triples, Trippel is the strongest with the longest fermentation. Remarkably smooth and complex, our bottle-conditioned Trippel is spiced with a trace of coriander.”— New Belgium Website

Random thoughts:  Trippel is part of New Belgium's Explore Series, which is a foray into a new beer style (IPA), and a reintroduction of three Belgian ales (Mothership, Trippel, and Abbey).  You might not immediately recognize them as being from NB as the labeling is a bit different from their typical water colored designs. I liked Ranger, so I thought I'd try another one in this series.

The tasting:  Trippel has a clear, light golden color.  Aroma is spicy, but not strong or overpowering.  I didn't smell the hops, as they suggest in the description.  Body is light.  I immediately tasted the fruity flavors that are common in Belgians and also picked up a bit of the coriander spice flavor.  I really liked it for the first few sips, but then not so much halfway through the beer.  I can't see myself drinking more than one of these at a time—due the the mix of fruity & spicy flavors.  However,  I do think I might enjoy it more with food.  It's not the kind of beer I would drink by itself.  After it warmed up a bit, the higher alcohol content was noticeable.  Trippel did leave a long-lingering aftertaste, which was not offensive—but unwanted.

The rating:   Three stars.   Good. I’d drink it again if someone gave it to me.  While I'm not entirely crazy about Trippel, it did pique my interest in sampling Mothership and Abbey (others in the Explore series).

New Bottle Store in Hillsboro!

Just last week, I was lamenting the fact that the Westside doesn't have a bottle store (that I know of, anyway).  The drought has been lifted!  Like manna from heaven, Main Street Homebrew, one of the local homebrew shops will soon carry bottled beer, focusing on specialty and hard-to-find brews.

Great news! Congrats to Kev and the Main Brew crew!  I'm sure the process of getting their OLCC permit must have been maddening.  Sounds like lots of other exciting changes are in store! Can't wait to hear more about them.

Review: Hop in the Dark, Deschutes Brewing

Hop in the Dark
Deschutes Brewing — Bend, OR

  • Style: Cascadian Dark Ale
  • Bitterness: 75 IBU
  • ABV: 6.5%
  • Malts: Dark, Munich, and Crystal
  • Hops: Cascade, Citra, Centennial
  • Sampled: 22 oz. bottle

Description:  “Can an IPA be black? Semantics aside, this noir version adds deep roasted malts to alter the hue and slightly smooth the edges. What emerges is something deeper, less orthodox, and all its own.  We’ve brewed 22 batches of this beer at both our Bend and Portland pubs, experimenting on our customers as we perfected the recipe,” said Brewmaster Larry Sidor. “This beer has subtle coffee undertones born from a blend of oats with dark, Munich and crystal malts. Classic IPA flavors and aromas are due to courageous additions of Cascade, Citra and Centennial hops.  Take the plunge – a hop, if you will – into this new Cascadian Dark Ale. Many may never even try to swim for shore.”— Deschutes Brewing

Random thoughts:  I'm thinking about brewing a CDA, and this is the first one I have sampled.  HITD is part of Deschutes’ Bond Street Series, inspired by Deschutes' original pub in Bend, OR. The three beers in the series (Hop Henge Experimental IPA, Hop Trip Pale Ale, and Hop in the Dark CDA) all emphasize the use of hops—as you might have deduced given the names.  :)

The tasting:  Color is pitch black. I don’t smell a strong hop aroma. However, after the first taste, I got the “grapefruit” flavor which I believe is typical of Centennial hops. Body is light, and it’s much more drinkable than a porter or stout. But it leaves a lingering bitter aftertaste. At 75 IBUs, it's beginning to push the bitterness envelope for IPA (according to style guidelines).

Rating:  4 star.  Really Good!  I want this again.  I like Hop in the Dark, but I’m not absolutely crazy about it. Although this is my first CDA, I think I will be a big fan of the style.

Have you had this beer or any other CDA? If so, let me know if you liked it.

Cascadian Dark Ale (CDA): An Emerging Beer Style

I love IPA (India Pale Ale).  The great thing about Portland is that you can easily find MANY great IPAs. While pondering the possibilities of my next homebrew, I decided to make a non-traditional version—something that has the flavors of an IPA, but with a twist.  Main Street Homebrew, one of my local homebrew stores, had a Black IPA recipe which sounded very intriguing.

I bounced this idea off my co-worker Kim (a treasure trove of beer information), who told me that a new term was coined to represent this style of beer—Cascadian Dark Ale (CDA).  A quick Google search led to the details.

CDA is an emerging style, which means it does not have established guidelines about color, taste, or aroma.  In general, CDAs have the taste of an IPA, but are built upon the black malt base of a stout or porter.  While they have a dark color and the roasted malt flavors common to stouts and porters, they possess the lighter body of an IPA.  Sounds like the perfect beer for me!  Sign me up.

Problem—I’ve never tasted one.  Also, since the style has not been clearly established, each brewer’s CDA could potentially be very different.  I need to figure out which one I like before I can make my own version.  Several brewers have released CDAs—but all on a limited basis.  So they can be hard to find.  Here are a few that I have heard about:

If you know where I can find these, or if you have other CDA suggestions, please let me know!

Have you tried a CDA?  Let me know what you think of them.

No More Wasted Wine

I may be a beer snob, but I’m definitely not a wine snob.  I enjoy finding and drinking good inexpensive wines (check out Malbec, if you like reds).  A few times a month, Latha and I will uncork a bottle and relax after spending a long day at the office (me) and a longer day chasing after two boys (Latha).  The problem is we’re usually so tired that we never completely finish the bottle.  So off it goes into the refrigerator, where it sits for an extended period of time, slowly converting into some form of vinegar.

With my newfound interest in homebrewing, and our need to conduct “research”, we made the switch and started trying new microbrews.  22 oz. bottles are the perfect size for us to share (and finish) in a single evening.  Also, most microbrewers tend to offer some of their beers in ONLY in the 22 oz. size.

So leave the wine on your rack (or let it transform in your fridge), and try a new microbrew tonight!  

Shameless Product Plug:  OK, if you're truly intent on storing uncorked (or uncapped--if you're into the Boone's varietals) bottles of wine and want to preserve them for a few days, check out these vacuum pump wine savers.  I've never used them, but a friend loves them.  Thanks for the recommendation Kim!

Beer Run: Fall Seasonals, Round 1

The weather is changing in Portland.  After a week in the mid-90's, we dropped down into the 70s this week.  It feels like a preview of fall.  I even noticed the leaves changing color on a few trees.  Right on cue, the fall seasonal beers are starting to appear in the beer case at New Seasons.  Yes, it's still August, but Labor Day is quickly approaching and fall will be here before we know it--so early preparation is essential.

Feeling the need to exercise my right to create my own six pack, I picked up all the fall seasonals currently in stock.  So in the near future, you will be hearing more about:

I think the temperature may move back into the 90's this week, and I may be less likely to want to sample these.  But as the weather cools down, I'll be all over them.  So put on your lederhosen, and get ready for Octoberfest!!

Review: Ranger, New Belgium Brewing Co.

New Belgium Brewing Co. — Fort Collins, Colorado

• Style: India Pale Ale
• Bitterness: 70 IBU
• ABV: 6.5%
• OG: Not provided
• Grains: Not provided
• Hops: Simcoe, Chinook, Cascade + Cascade dry hopped
• Sampled: 12 oz. bottle

Description: “So, here it finally is – New Belgium’s foray into the true American India Pale Ales. Bring out the hops! This clear amber beauty bursts at the starting gate with an abundance of hops: Cascade (citrus), Chinook (floral/citrus), and Simcoe (fruity) lead off the beer, with Cascade added again for an intense dry hop flavor. Brewed with pale and dark caramel malts that harmonize the hop flavor from start to finish, Ranger is a sessionable splendor for all you hopinistas.”— New Belgium Website

Random thoughts:  This was recommended by my friend Jeff B. from St. Louis, who lives—as he so eloquently puts it, "in the shadow of the behemoth Anheuser Busch".  Fortunately, Jeff appreciates that beer has evolved beyond Bud Light Lime.  Ranger is part of New Belgium's Explore Series, which is an exploration of a new beer style (IPA), and a reintroduction of three Belgian ales (Mothership, Trippel, and Abbey).  You might not immediately recognize them as being from NB as the labeling is a bit different from their typical water colored designs.

The tasting:  Coloring is deep golden. I definitely got a strong floral aroma (this is dry-hopped).  Body is light with nice carbonation. Taste-wise, this one is all hops--from beginning, middle, to end.  I really didn't taste malts or anything else.

Rating:  4 star.  Really Good! I want this again.  I like IPAs and thought this is a good representation of its style. For my friends in the Midwest, you should be able to find this because New Belgium is distributed widely across the US.  So if you want to experience what IPA is all about, this is a good one to start with.  Be warned, it's bitter--but in a good way.  Good call Jeff!  Thanks for the recommendation.

Review: LTD 03, Full Sail Brewing Co.

LTD 03
Full Sail Brewing Co. — Hood River, Oregon

• Style: Pilsner (Lager)
• Bitterness: 35 IBU
• ABV: 5.6%
• OG: Not provided
• Grains: Not provided
• Hops: Not provided
• Sampled: 12 oz. bottle

Description: “Well looky here, a crisp new pilsner-style lager all ready to rock your tastebuds’ little world. The latest addition to our LTD series is pale-golden in color, featuring a spicy floral hop aroma, malty medium body, and a smooth, thirst quenching finish.”— Full Sail Website

Random thoughts:  LTD 03, one of Full Sail’s three limited-edition lagers, is available from June – September.  As part of my homebrew “research”, I only recently learned about the differences between ales and lagers--expect a post on that topic in the near future.  To add a bit of quirkiness, Full Sail prints messages on the underside of each bottle cap (which reminds me of the messages on Taco Bell hot sauce packets).  You can see Full Sail’s not-so-subliminal message in the picture below.

The tasting:  It’s lighter bodied with a golden color.  Latha sampled this with me and tasted a crisp citrus flavor, which fell flat at the end.  Overall, she said it “wasn’t bad”.  I, on the other hand, had a very difficult time describing the aroma and flavor.  The only think that came to mind was “stronger version of Budweiser”. I like very bitter beers (IPAs), but this had a bitterness and aftertaste that I just didn’t like.  Bud, also a lager, isn’t one of my favorites--so this wasn’t exactly enjoyable for me.

Rating:  2 star.  Drinkable--but not sure I really want to.  Although the bottle cap may indicate otherwise, I wasn’t “thrilled” by LTD 03.  Maybe I just don’t like lagers in general. I guess I’ll need to sample a few more to be sure.  But in the meantime, I’d pass on this one.

What do you think?  I’m I being too harsh on LTD 03?  Have any recommendations for a good lager that I can review?

No So Subtle Subliminal Messaging

Review: Hazed & Infused, Boulder Beer Co.

Hazed & Infused
Boulder Beer Company — Boulder, Colorado

  • Style: Pale Ale
  • Bitterness: 38 IBU
  • ABV: 4.85%
  • OG: 12.5 P
  • Grains: U.S. Medium Caramel Malt, U.S. 2-Row Barley, U.S. Roasted Barley
  • Hops: Nugget, Willamette, Crystal, Centennial, plus Crystal and Centennial dry-hop addition
  • Sampled: 12 oz. bottle
Description: “Hazed & Infused is ‘hazed’ in its natural and unfiltered state, and ‘infused’ – dry-hopped with Crystal and Centennial hops – during fermentation for a big, bold, unique. Originally a one-keg brew for our pub, its popularity has soared and is now available in over 20 states.”— Boulder Beer Website

Random thoughts: What a great name for a beer! It sounds cool and perfectly describes what makes it unique. First, it’s unfiltered. The picture below isn’t great, but you’ll notice the “haze” that prevents you from seeing through the beer. But dry hopping is why I picked this one up. In a dry-hopped beer, hops are added during the secondary fermentation stage. This gives the beer a distinctive floral or “hoppy” fragrance, but without extra taste or bitterness.

The tasting: The first thing I noticed was the smell--lots of citrus and fruit. The taste had a nice clean bitterness to it. This beer totally fooled me in another way. I thought it was an IPA when I bought it, and continued to believe the same after I tasted it. However, while getting the stats at the Boulder site, I found out that it's a Pale Ale. Works for me—they made it, so they can call it whatever they like!

Rating: 5 star.  Liquid Perfection! I absolutely loved this one—even though they “fooled” me into thinking it was something else. Purists might fault it for resembling another style, but I could care less. I would definitely get hazed & infused again—soon!

Beer Fest in a Six Pack

OK, so I’m probably late to the party on this, but I thought it’s worth mentioning in case one of my 5 beloved followers (well, really 4 if you exclude me) doesn’t know…

I was perusing the beer fridge at New Seasons (a grocery chain similar to Whole Foods) last week.  I normally don’t like this store because it’s crazy expensive—but they have an AMAZING microbrew selection.

I wanted to try something new and was staring at the bottled six pack selection in puzzled bewilderment for 10 minutes.  The beer stewardess asked if I had any questions (I think she thought I was semi-comatose). Upon learning of my indecisiveness, she suggested I mix-and-match my own six pack.

Endless permutations raced through my mind!  Bells tolled and I began the process of selecting six beers I had never tried before.  One of them was Wailua, which I have already commented on.  You’ll hear about the other five in the near future.

Anyway, this is a great way to experiment with a variety of beers—and you don’t risk getting stuck with something you don’t like.  Is this new news to anyone?  Do other grocery chains or bottle stores let you do this?  Let me know.  Also I'd appreciate any suggestions if you’ve tried something good lately or have a beer you’d like me to review.

New Seasons is quickly displacing Costco as my favorite store.  Costco--where else can you get a 10 pound jar of jalapeno peppers, tires, and slice of pizza?  Great store, but my wallet doesn’t like it so much.

New Seasons' Beer Case

Review: Wailua, Kona Brewing Co.

Kona Brewing Co. — Kona, Hawaii

• Style: Wheat Ale
• Bitterness: 15 IBU
• ABV: 5.4%
• OG: 12.0 P
• Malts: Pale, Wheat
• Hops: Hallertau
• Sampled: 12 oz. bottle

Description: “Swimming in a fresh water pool at the base of a cascading waterfall is what we all imagine we would find in paradise. On Maui, follow the old Hana Highway and you will find such a place – Wailua Falls. This plunging cascade of clear water is the inspiration for our Limited Release Wailua Wheat Ale. This golden, sun colored ale has a bright, citrusy flavor that comes from the tropical passion fruit we brew into each batch. Sit back, relax and enjoy paradise anytime.”— from Kona Brewing's Website 

Random thoughts:  I’m sure any beer would taste like heaven if you could drink it while soaking in Wailua Falls. I picked this one up because it’s a limited edition (available Mar-Sep), and it's brewed with passion fruit. I’m not exactly sure what a passion fruit looks like—or even tastes like, but I thought I’d give it a try.

The tasting:  I didn’t smell any passion fruit when I took a whiff, nor did I taste it on the first sip. It’s a nice light wheat beer—the kind you’d want to drink on hot summer day, but I was disappointed. I expected passion fruit—and Wailua didn’t deliver. I tasted it again after it warmed up, and then I did pick up a faint taste—but it was too little, too late. So if you’re dying to try passion fruit in a beer—be sure to drink it warm.

Rating:  3 star.  Good.  I’d drink it if someone gave it to me.  Have you had this beer?  Tell me what you think.

Ambacht Brewing -- Beer at a Farmers' Market?

Ambacht Brewing, Hillsboro, OR

So we’re walking around at the Hillsboro Farmers’ Market this morning, and the temperature is rising (almost 90 degrees). I’m thinking it would be great to have a nice cold beer. Well, ask and you shall receive. In the next row, I found a tent for Ambacht Brewing. Beer at a Farmers’ Market? Works for me!

Ambacht is a relatively new brewer in Hillsboro. I think they’ve been in business for about a year. We met Brandy at their booth and he told us that Ambacht specializes in Belgian inspired ales. Unlike many other brewers in the region, they avoid the big hoppy beers—so no IPAs here. But do not despair--their beer’s great. We sampled 4 of their ales: Golden Ale, Golden Rose Ale (made with rose hips), Black Gold Porter, and G++ Ale.

Our favorite was the Black Gold Porter, so we picked up a 22 oz. bottle. Look for a detailed review in the near future.

Brandy mentioned that Ambacht does special tastings on Thursdays, from 4-8pm. So stop by and support a local brewer. We look forward to visting Ambacht soon!

My Not So Professional Beer Reviews

One of the main reasons I started a blog was because I wanted to keep a record of what beers I tried and which ones I liked.  So, I’m going to attempt to review each of the beers I drink.

Reviews are so subjective.  What makes one person an expert?  I’m certainly no expert, but I know what I like. So I’ll attempt to describe each beer in a way that is hopefully more descriptive than “beer good” or “beer bad”.  Since you can’t have a review without stars or thumbs, I’ll employ a simple rating system:
  • 1 star:  I can’t bear to finish it.
  • 2 star:  Drinkable--but not sure I really want to.
  • 3 star:  Good. I’d drink it again if someone gave it to me.
  • 4 star:  Really Good! I want this again.
  • 5 star:  Liquid Perfection! 
Just to be clear, this is all being done in the name of research.   Let the research commence…

8/30 update:  Changed scale to a 5 star scale (from 4 star).  Replaced No Stars with 1 Star, and bumped up all the levels.  Modified all existing reviews to reflect the change.

I'm a Beer Snob

There, I admitted it...

I moved to Beervana (Portland, OR) over 10 years ago, from Illinois--a land where "good" beer goes by the name of Miller Lite or Bud Lite. Needless to say, I didn't drink much of either. After moving to Portland, I realized what all the fuss was about--good beer is worth drinking! Imagine that.  In a moment eerily similar to one from Gone with the Wind, I vowed "As God as my witness, I'll never drink crappy beer again!"  And I didn't...until I went to my friend's wedding in St. Louis last November--but I digress.

Anyway, I recently decided to try homebrewing after contemplating it for a over a decade. While researching different styles and all things beer on the web, I found that I really enjoyed learning about the many aspects of beer and brewing.  In a quest to find beer styles that Latha (my wife) and I both like, we have been sampling (for pure research purposes only), many different styles of beer.  So I figured I might as well keep a record of them.

Anyway, I enjoy learning more about this subject, and maybe you'll learn a thing or two!  That's assuming anyone other than my wife and mom read this.  So if nothing else, at least I'll have a nice record of the beers we sampled.  Cheers!