Endless Beer: The Focal Banger

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If you know craft beer, you know the Alchemist out of Vermont. They brought us the famous Heady Topper and now this. The Focal Banger brings with it claims of superiority even over the Heady Topper. It is an American IPA with TONS of hops jammed into each pint-sized can. Thanks to a good friend, I was able to try a can of this out myself. Otherwise, take a trip up to New England and find out when they hand this stuff out. Here are our thoughts:

Tasting Notes

Aroma: Close your eyes and think of the senses of walking through a hop garden. That’s what this smells like – fresh hops surrounding you.

Appearance: The can says “Drink from the can!” so I have no idea.

Mouthfeel: CRISP. A very refreshing, clean, and crisp mouthfeel from start to finish.

Taste: HOPS. Then some more hops. Some sweet malts, and finally more hops. But these are flavorful hops. Juicy citrus hops lead the way, followed by pine and other earthy hop flavors. This is the hoppiest beer I’ve had without losing the integrity of the beer of tasting too bitter.

Overall: Find this beer! It’s true – this is better than Heady Topper. Focal Banger gives you everything you want in an IPA. It is crisp and refreshing, has fresh, juicy flavors, and tastes like the can is actually filled to the top with hops. Try it for yourself.

Endless Pairings

Cheese: Aged gouda with dried apricots, fig jam, and crackers.

Appetizer: Truffle fries.

Main Course: Fish tacos with a side of guacamole

Dessert: Key Lime Pie

Cigar: Gispert Toro

Endless Beer: Manayunk Brewing Co’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Crunch Porter

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Think peanut butter shake. Do you taste that? The smooth and rich flavor of peanut butter? Mmmm, so good. Now, imagine that flavor in a can of beer. Manyunk Brewing Company, near Philadelphia, brings you the Chocolate Peanut Butter Crunch Porter. The brewery sought out to create a beer that brings the flavors of a porter along with in your face peanut butter (and a little chocolate). The question is – did they meet the mark? Check it out.

Tasting Notes

Aroma: Peanut butter throughout. A slight bitter note of coffee and chocolate, but overwhelmingly peanut butter.

Appearance: Dark dark brown – nearly black.

Mouthfeel: Very smooth, not much of an aftertaste, high carbonation.

Taste: Peanut butter, peanut butter, peanut butter. Taste starts with strong peanut butter flavor. Little chocolate flavor is there, but you do taste a hint of the porter in between the notes of peanut butter.

Overall: For the peanut butter lover, this is one of our favorite peanut butter flavored beers. It does not taste artificial, but as if you are eating freshly roasted peanut butter. I’d say it would ALMOST satisfy my craving for a Shake Shack peanut butter shake (that says a lot).

 

Endless Pairings

Cheese: Swiss with crustini, honey, and almond.

Appetizer: Spicy shrimp skewers.

Entree: BBQ Baby Back Ribs with mashed potatoes.

Dessert: Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

Cigar: Drew Estate Java

Winter Exchange Beer Selection: Shiner Winter Cheers

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I’m behind. Apparently I’m so well known for enjoying beer and booze that everyone decided to get me just that for Christmas. Not that I’m complaining – I have at least two cases of beer that are still waiting to be cracked open. I finally got to opening my winter exchange box and I’m starting to pick my favorites. Off to our first brew – the Shiner Winter Cheers. Shiner Winter Cheers is known as a class winter brew with powerful fruity notes. Here we go…cheers!

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Endless Beer: Imperial Oak’s Crank it Hop IPA

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I’ve been so busy drinking beer over the Holidays. It’s been tough. As I mentioned, my favorite time of the year is beer trades and exchanges. From my beer trade with Chicago, I tried the “Crank it Hop” IPA from Imperial Oak Brewing Company. From a grolwer, the suds still had great carbonation and I was able to complete the hard job of tasting 32 ounces of beer. Enough already…here are the notes.

ABV: 6%

Tasting Notes

Appearance: Transparent gold with white head

Aroma: Bitter and hoppy aroma with sweet citrus

Taste: Very sweet matly and caramel flavor in the front end. Follows with slight citrus flavors of orange and grapefruit and ends with strong hop finish.

Mouthfeel: Surprisingly smooth finish and buttery mouthfeel throughout.

Overall: Very well balanced IPA. It is a sweeter IPA than you typically expect when you think of the style, but the sweetness is pleasant. Smooth drink that was easy to finish even 32 ounces of.

ES Rating: 4.5/5 Suds

Endless Pairings

Cheese: Sweet fig goat cheese with toasted salty almonds and dried cranberries

Appetizer: Candied bacon!

Entree: Grilled barbecue chicken with sauteed green beans and sweet potato puree

Dessert: Caramel Cheesecake

Cigar: Alec Bradley American Sun Grown

 

 

Endless Beer: 2016 Anchor Christmas Ale

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Anchor Brewing Company continues their 42 year-old tradition every Christmas season by releasing their seasonal Christmas ale. While the name does not change, the recipe and illustration does. The recipe is kept secret, so maybe their fooling all of us, but from what I can tell, there is a change in recipes throughout the years. I’ve been saving one every year for the past four years. Next year, I’ll taste each year and let you know. Until then…

ABV: 6.5%

Tasting Notes

Appearance: Black in color, but is not opaque. When held up to the light, you can barely see through it. Head is tan.

Aroma: Sweet smells of maple, fig, and cherry in addition to the scents of bread.

Taste: SWEET. Tastes of maple and roasted malts come first, followed by a chocolate flavor. Fruity flavor of years past is there, but not as strong. Winter spices are very subtle in this one – clove, nutmeg and cinnamon.

Mouthfeel: Creamy and smooth throughout – goes down easy.

Overall: Bought a case for my exchange, then bought a 12 pack for myself. This is a great dessert beer without going too heavy. This year’s is very balanced and has a great flavor that does remind you of Christmas.

Endless Rating: 4.3333/5 Candy Canes

Endless Pairings:

Cheese: Fig goat cheese with rusted nuts, dried fruit, and crustini

Appetizer: Roasted Garlic Chicken Satay

Entree: Roasted pork loin over apples and sweet potatoes with sauteed broccolini

Dessert: Chocolate pear panettone

Cigar: Nat Sherman Timeless Dominican

Endless Beer: 2016 Bourbon County Stout

Endless Beer: 2016 Bourbon County Stout

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Ahh yes, the most wonderful time of the year. My Black Friday shopping tradition became not one of waiting in endless lines but going to pick up my favorite holiday stout. Goose Island annually releases their Bourbon County Stout on Black Friday. Few distributors are provided with a limited supply and the beer snobs rush to get their stash. This is my third year of commitment to the stout and I now have a nice collection in my cellar to one day do a tasting across five years. Goose Island suggests that the brew can be aged up to five years, so why not?

On to the tasting!

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