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Beer of the Week: Tröegs Mad Elf

Tröegs Mad Elf Ale

Tröegs Mad Elf Ale

This week’s beer is Mad Elf Ale, which hails from Tröegs Brewing Company. Tröegs was established in 1997 by Chris and John Trogner and is currently located in Hershey, PA. The story of how the brothers reached the decision to open a brewery, and how they got to that point is rather interesting – you can read the whole history on the Tröegs About Us page on the brewery’s website.

Tasty Mug Review

Appearance: This beer pours a beautiful ruby red color (a clear, red amber) with a half finger head, about half of which retains while drinking.
Smell: Primary aroma is cherries, sweet, fruity.
Taste: Very sweet, yeasty, definitely tastes like cherries, which is kind of funky (but a good funky), syrupy, chocolate, and there’s also a bit of spice that hits the tongue.
Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied, syrupy consistency, carbonated but smooths out at the end.
Overall:
This is a complex beer but I think it could be a little more balanced for more drinkability. However, considering the alcohol content in this brew, it surprisingly doesn’t override the taste. It’s an interesting beer, but probably not for everyone. I personally find it a nice switch from the more traditional, spicy winter warmers or Christmas ales.

Tasty Mug Rating: 3.39 / 5

Additional Information

Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale
ABV: 11%
IBUs: 15
Original Gravity: Unknown
Malts:
Pilsner, Munich, Chocolate
Hops: Saaz, Hallertau
Yeast: Spicy Belgian
Special Ingredients: Pennsylvania honey, sweet and sour cherries
Availability: Seasonal (October – December)
Food Pairings: Barbecue, grilled meat (beef), cheese (sharp such as Blue or Cheddar or pungent such as Gorgonzola)
Glassware: Chalice or Tulip
Calories: Not listed
Aging: Can be cellared for long periods under the proper conditions

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Upcoming Event: AleFest Columbus (2013)

Upcoming Event - AleFest Columbus 2013For the 8th year in a row, AleFest is coming to Columbus! It takes place this Saturday, February 2, 2013 from 2:00 to 6:00 PM. It will be held at Aladdin Shrine Center, 3850 Stelzer Road, which is right across the street from Easton Shopping Center. It just so happens it’s conveniently located very close to many Easton restaurants, making it easy to grab a bite to eat after you’re done drinking all that beer!

If you aren’t familiar with this event, AleFest is a craft beer festival. This year they will have more than 100 breweries and over 250 craft beers including rare draught lagers and ales, as well as cask ales.

According to ThisWeek Community News there will be about 15 new breweries and 25 to 30 beers that weren’t available last year, including 4 to 6 gluten-free beers.

As you may be aware, Columbus Winter Beerfest just took place a few weeks ago, on January 11th and 12th. They had quite a selection of beers available, so AleFest has some steep competition! However, I’ve been to this event in the past and it never disappoints. Last year they had around 1,500 attendees, and expect more this year. This is a much smaller number than the crowd that showed up to Beerfest, which in my personal opinion is why this event has a much more “refined” feel to it than the melee that Beerfest seems to be trending towards.

This year, AleFest organizers are also encouraging “tropical attire,” so if you need a break from your cold winter gear, break out your favorite Hawaiian shirt. Or if you’re really brave, maybe some coconuts and a grass skirt. 😉

What To Expect:

  • Over 250 craft beers from more than 100 world-class breweries
  • Expanded draught ales and lagers & cask ales
  • Commemorative AleFest sampling glass
  • Raffle for beer collectibles
  • Retail sales of wearables and glassware
  • Silent auction featuring beer memorabilia
  • Live entertainment by Nick Mitchell
  • Food concession available

Tickets are available for advance purchase on the AleFest website for $35.00 or you may purchase tickets at the door for $40.00. Buying a ticket will get you 20 samples of craft beer, a commemorative tasting glass and a tasting guide. You must, of course, be 21 to attend, and designated driver discounts are available.

A portion of the proceeds benefits SODZ Columbus Area Homebrew Club.

If you have questions or comments regarding the upcoming AleFest, you can email AleFest@earthlink.net, or visit the website www.AleFest.com.

Post a comment if you plan to attend!

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Beer of the Week: Rince Cochon

Beer of the Week - Rince Cochon

Rince Cochon

This week’s featured beer is Rince Cochon, brewed by Brouwerij Roman N.V. in Belgium. There has been some discrepancy as to if this is the correct brewery, but I’m going with what’s on the back of the bottle!

“Rince Cochon” translates to “Rinsed Pig” (an interesting name for a beer!). Rince Cochon is fermented in the bottle and is unpasteurized and unfiltered.

When I ordered it at a restaurant, I was greeted with a corked 750ml bottle which popped just like a champagne bottle. And on top of that, who wouldn’t like any beer with a drinking pig on the label!

Tasty Mug Review

Beer of the Week - Rince Cochon - Bottle LabelAppearance: Pours a clear, golden color with a big head.
Smell: Malty, sweet and wheaty.
Taste: Definitely tastes like a Belgian Blonde Ale and has caramel notes to it as well as light spices and sugar. Light and bready.
Mouthfeel: Very smooth and creamy with balanced carbonation; crisp; medium-bodied.
Overall: I found this to be a very nice Belgian Ale. I don’t always like beers that fall under the Blonde category but this was very agreeable and easy to sip. It would be a nice compliment when paired with the right meal.

Tasty Mug Rating: 3.2 / 5

Additional Information

Style: Belgian Blonde Ale
ABV: 8.50%
IBUs: Unknown
Original Gravity: Unknown
Malts:
Not listed
Hops: Not listed
Availability: Year-round
Food Pairings: Poultry, fish
Glassware: Snifter, Tulip
Calories: Not listed
Aging: Unknown

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Beer of the Week: Ommegang Seduction (Limited Edition)

Beer of the Week - Ommegang Seduction

Ommegang’s Seduction

The featured Beer of the Week is Ommegang’s Seduction, a Belgian Dark Ale that comes in at 6.8% ABV. I tried this beer on draft during happy hour at Liberty Tavern, which is worth a visit if you find yourself in the Powell, Ohio area. This is a beer that’s definitely good for a cold winter day while sitting inside a local tavern!

Ommegang mentions that it is brewed with six dark malts, and that it also has chocolate and cherries – both of which can definitely be picked up in the aroma and taste. Seduction is a limited brew so try it out while supplies last!

Tasty Mug Review

Appearance: Pours a dark brown/black with a nice head that disappears quickly but has some retention.
Smell: Sweet with a hint of fruit like cherry, and chocolate.
Taste: Tart, which would be expected with the cherry, definitely has some chocolate taste as well, light roasty and malty flavor.
Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied, crisp and smooth. Very easy to drink with a nice finish.
Overall: This is a well-balanced beer, and I found it very enjoyable and flavorful to drink. I’d definitely drink it again.

Tasty Mug Rating: 3.61 / 5

Additional Information

Style: Belgian Dark Ale
ABV: 6.80%
IBUs: Unknown
Original Gravity: Unknown
Malts:
Not listed
Hops: Not listed
Availability: Limited production
Food Pairings: Cheese
Glassware: Snifter, Tulip
Calories: Not listed
Aging: Unknown

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Columbus Winter Beerfest (2013)

Columbus Winter Beerfest 2013 - Tasting Glass

Columbus Winter Beerfest 2013

This past weekend was the 3rd Annual Columbus Winter Beerfest, held at the Columbus Convention Center. Beerfest goers had the option to buy tickets for either Friday or Saturday. Both nights gave the option of paying $10 extra to get VIP entry – basically you show up at 6:30p instead of 7:30p, get a few special beers and get a real 8oz tasting glass (instead of a 5oz plastic one). All Beerfest attendees were given 25 tasting tickets at the door (although I handed out very few of mine as most booths didn’t seem all that interested in collecting them).

What caught my attention this year was the 310+ craft beers they promised, and when I reviewed the list and saw newcomers to the event such as Kona Brewing, Hinterland and Ballast Point, I was in!

Friday Fun
My friend and I went Friday, which turned out to be a very good idea, as Saturday sold out and according to Amanda Forbes in her article on examiner.com it became “a hot, sweaty orgy of beer tasting.” She wrote “Attendees trying to get from line to line were like worms, weaving through or making their own tunnels through the sea of people.” Approximately 7000 folks showed up on Saturday and the event sold out.

Friday on the other hand, had a nice, leisurely tone about it with only 2,500 or so attendees showed up that night. My friend and I purchased our VIP tickets in December, scoring  them for regular entry price, so we arrived with the early group.

The Experience

Columbus Winter Beerfest 2013 - Crowd

3rd Annual Winter Beerfest

The first thing I noticed was the event was relocated to a larger space within the convention center this year, which was fine by me. The only thing I didn’t care for was the florescent lights blaring down the whole time (it didn’t set a very nice ambience). Although after a handful of samplers, I don’t think I noticed it anymore.

Drinking beer is hard work, and the 4.5 hours we were in the convention center flew by quickly as we scurried to sample as many beers as we could. We hit 16 stations total in that time, but there was no way I was able to drink all those generously poured glasses so I focused on getting my evaluative sips, sampled my friend’s as well, then we both poured the rest.

Columbus Winter Beerfest 2013 - Homework

Diligently tracking our samplers.

My primary goal of the evening was to try as many beers as I could that I’ve never had before, which meant I didn’t really sample the Ohio beers this time around.

I do have to say that in the past year my knowledge of breweries has steeply increased, so looking at the floor map of the booths made me feel  like I was welcoming old friends. I was a little disappointed to find most of the folks at the beer stations were volunteer pourers, however, and not actually from the real breweries. Hey, you can’t blame a girl for wanting be a beer geek with brewmasters when the chance may arise!

So, all that said, here is my official list of all the beers I tried that Friday at Beerfest. I’ve noted favorites as well as beers that I would consider very unique for the taste buds, and other beers I would steer clear from in the future.

My Beerfest “Sampled Beers” List

A little about my rating system below.  I log all the “new” beers (anything I haven’t had previously or have not recorded previously) on my Beer Advocate profile, then rate them according to their rating scale of 1-5, while evaluating appearance, smell, taste, mouthfeel, and overall impressions. For each beer below I’ve also listed its style, ABV, and my rating and any notes.

  • Frosted Frog Christmas Ale – Hoppin’ Frog Brewery
    Winter Warmer (8.60% ABV)
    Tasty Mug Rating: 3.75 – Very interesting flavor in both of the Hoppin’ Frog beers, a very strong sense of cinnamon in the Winter Warmer especially.
  • Hopped-Up Goose Juice – Hoppin’ Frog Brewery
    American IPA (7.00% ABV)
    Tasty Mug Rating: 3
  • Harpoon IPA – Harpoon Brewery
    American IPA (5.90% ABV)
    Tasty Mug Rating: 3
  • Harpoon Leviathan – Czernobog – Harpoon Brewery
    Russian Imperial Stout (10.00% ABV)
    Tasty Mug Rating: 3.75
  • Stone 11.11.11 Vertical Epic Ale – Stone Brewing Co.
    Belgian Strong Pale Ale (9.40% ABV)
    Tasty Mug Rating: 2.75
  • Stone 12.12.12 Vertical Epic Ale – Stone Brewing Co.
    Belgian Strong Dark Ale (9.00% ABV)
    Tasty Mug Rating: 4 – I really liked this brew (I wasn’t such a fan of the 11.11.11 although I know it’s highly favored by others). The 12.12.12 was an intriguing mix of dark and spicy with sweetness; a very complex and flavorful brew.
  • Big Wave Golden Ale – Kona Brewing Co.
    American Blonde Ale (4.40% ABV)
    Tasty Mug Rating: 2.75
  • Koko Brown – Kona Brewing Co.
    American Brown Ale (5.50% ABV)
    Tasty Mug Rating: 3.75 – I rank this one high in the unique flavor category because it is heavy on the coconut aroma and taste (something I haven’t run across in the beers I’ve tried to date). If you’re a coconut fan this one is definitely worth keeping an eye out for.
  • Grass – 5 Rabbit Cerveceria
    American Pale Ale (6.40% ABV)
    Tasty Mug Rating: 3 – This one gets a special mention because of its unique flavor as well. It is named adequately – it does smell and taste like, well, grass. I wouldn’t particularly care to drink a full pint but it’s now the second “grassy” beer I’ve come across in the past few weeks, and an interesting brew to sample.
  • 5 Vulture – 5 Rabbit Cerveceria
    Chile Beer (6.40% ABV)
    Tasty Mug Rating: 3 – I’m wondering if the other beers (besides the two I sampled) from 5 Rabbit are just as unique – this beer was also on the odd side, but an interesting beer to try. This one is brewed with roasted ancho chile – which definitely gives it a spicy kick, but it’s more of a subtle “back of your throat” kind of burn than something that burns the taste buds.
  • Luna Coffee Stout – Hinterland Brewery Restaurant
    American Stout (5.60% ABV)
    Tasty Mug Rating: 2.75
  • Saison – Hinterland Brewery Restaurant
    Saison / Farmhouse Ale (6.30% ABV)
    Tasty Mug Rating: 2
  • Batch 19 – Coors Brewing Company
    American Adjunct Lager (5.50% ABV)
    Tasty Mug Rating: 2.25 – I recommend avoiding this one – I wasn’t aware (until later) that it is brewed by Coors, which basically explains why I thought it was very lackluster in flavor, smell, and pretty much all else. I had an issue with this primarily because it seemed they made a point to not indicate it was from Coors anywhere on the booth.
  • Krampus (Imperial Helles Lager) – Southern Tier Brewing Company
    American Double / Imperial Pilsner (9.00% ABV)
    Tasty Mug Rating: 3.5
  • 2XIPA – Southern Tier Brewing Company
    American Double / Imperial IPA (8.20% ABV)
    Tasty Mug Rating: 4
  • Le Merle – North Coast Brewing Co.
    Saison / Farmhouse Ale (7.90% ABV)
    Tasty Mug Rating: 2.75
  • Ruedrich’s Red Seal Ale – North Coast Brewing Co.
    American Amber / Red Ale (5.50% ABV)
    Tasty Mug Rating: 3.25
  • Mogul Madness Ale – Rogue Ales
    Winter Warmer (6.60% ABV)
    Tasty Mug Rating: 3.25
  • Yellow Snow IPA – Rogue Ales
    American IPA (6.50% ABV)
    Tasty Mug Rating: 4.25 – There were several solid IPAs at Beerfest this year, this and the 2XIPA get a spot on the list, as well as the Sculpin from Ballast Point.
  • Old Chub – Scottish Style Ale – Oskar Blues Brewing Company
    Scotch Ale / Wee Heavy (8.00% ABV)
    Tasty Mug Rating: 3
  • Chaka – Oskar Blues Brewing Company
    Belgian Pale Ale (8.00% ABV)
    Tasty Mug Rating: 3
  • Sculpin India Pale Ale – Ballast Point Brewing Company
    American IPA (7.00% ABV)
    Tasty Mug Rating: 4
  • Calico Copper Amber Ale – Ballast Point Brewing Company
    American Amber / Red Ale (5.00% ABV)
    Tasty Mug Rating: 3.5
  • Smooth Hoperator – Stoudts Brewing Co.
    Doppelbock (7.00% ABV)
    Tasty Mug Rating: 4
  • Stoudt’s Scarlet Lady ESB – Stoudts Brewing Co.
    Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB) (5.00% ABV)
    Tasty Mug Rating: 4
  • Green Flash Imperial India Pale Ale – Green Flash Brewing Co.
    American Double / Imperial IPA (9.40% ABV)
    Tasty Mug Rating: 3
  • Omission Lager (Gluten-Free) – Widmer Brothers Brewing Company
    Light Lager (4.60% ABV)
    Tasty Mug Rating: 2.75
  • Omission Pale Ale (Gluten-Free) – Widmer Brothers Brewing Company
    American Pale Ale (5.80% ABV)
    Tasty Mug Rating: 3.25 – One of the best “gluten-free” beers I’ve had to date. It’s strongest competitor being Estrella Daura Damm (from Spain). Both start out with real barley and use an enzyme to strip the gluten away – which is also why both taste like “real” beer.
  • Nelson Imperial IPA – Widmer Brothers Brewing Company
    American Double / Imperial IPA (8.60% ABV)
    Tasty Mug Rating: 3
  • Eugene – Revolution Brewing Company
    American Porter (6.80% ABV)
    Tasty Mug Rating: 3.25
  • Double Fist – Revolution Brewing Company
    American Double / Imperial IPA (8.30% ABV)
    Tasty Mug Rating: 3.75
  • Railbender Ale – Erie Brewing Co.
    Scottish Ale (6.80% ABV)
    Tasty Mug Rating: 3
  • Derailed Black Cherry Ale – Erie Brewing Co.
    Cream Ale (5.00% ABV)
    Tasty Mug Rating: 2.75

Overall, I would say Winter Beerfest this year was a big success and is only growing with each new year. I personally found it provided great exposure to more new brews. They did a great job getting in some new participating breweries as well. Friday is definitely the night to go to avoid the masses. And even in that case, towards the end of the night the less-seasoned craft enthusiasts were dropping their glasses left and right. Thankfully, most of them had plastic tasting glasses. 😉

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Beer of the Week: Tusker Premium Lager

Beer of the Week - Tusker Lager

Tusker Lager from Nairobi-Kenya

I often choose the beer of the week based on the taste of a particular brew. I also, however, like to call out beers that are unique in other ways, such as origin, labeling, unique flavors, etc. This week’s featured brew is Tusker Lager, brewed and bottled by East African Breweries LTD. and hailing all the way from Nairobi-Kenya. It is the EABL flagship brand.

While there is nothing overly spectacular about this lager, judging it for what it is I would say that it would be a refreshing beer on a hot day. It’s very crisp and light. The bottle I acquired says it was imported by St. Killian Importing Co. in Kingston, MA, so I’m sure this beer has been on a long journey before reaching its final destination of my stomach.

Tusker Lager is named after the elephant that killed George Hurst, one of the brewery’s founders. It has been brewed in East Africa since 1922 from 100% African ingredients that are all locally sourced. The barley is from the Savannah and the Maasai Mara, the spring water comes from the Aberdare Mountains, and the yeast is developed locally.  It has earned Gold Medals in the International Monde Selection Awards.

Tasty Mug Review

Appearance: Pours a clear, pale gold typical of a pilsner with a small frothy head that dissipates quickly.
Smell: Light aroma, mildly sweet.
Taste: Generally light on flavor with a bit of a bite. Maybe a little grassy. I don’t notice the skunky aftertaste often found in American light lagers.
Mouthfeel: Crisp and carbonated, light.
Overall: Nothing extremely special, probably about right for a typical lager with an extra point or two for not tasting skunky and I’d guess when having a fresh bottle in the country it originates from it would be very thirst quenching and agreeable.

Tasty Mug Rating: 2.8 / 5

Additional Information

Style: American Adjunct Lager
ABV: 4.20%
IBUs: Unknown
Original Gravity: Unknown
Malts:
Not listed
Hops: Not listed
Availability: Year-round
Food Pairings: Spicy ethnic foods such as Indian, Thai, or Latin American cuisine, cheese, seafood
Glassware: Pint glass
Calories: Not listed
Aging: Unknown

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Beer of the Week: O’Fallon’s Cherry Chocolate Beer

Beer of the Week - O'Fallon Brewery

Cherry Chocolate Beer

If you’re a fan of cherry cordials then this is definitely the beer for you. If you’re not familiar with a cherry cordial, it’s basically a cherry with filling inside of a chocolate shell. And I have to say this beer gets pretty close to the taste – it’s sweet, fruity, and smells and tastes like chocolate.  Cherry Chocolate is a dark wheat beer from O’Fallon Brewery.

A little history on the brewery itself – O’Fallon’s was founded in 2000 by Fran and Tony Caradonna in O’Fallon, Missouri. They sold the brewery in 2011 but still play a role in day to day operations under the new owner, Jim Gorczyaca.

 

Tasty Mug Review

Appearance: Pours a clear amber with light-colored head that dissipates quickly. No lacing.
Smell: Aroma smells just like a chocolate-covered cherry.
Taste: It also tastes like a chocolate-covered cherry. This is a sweet-tasting beer, if that’s your thing you’ll find it quite tasty. If it’s not your thing, you might not like it.
Mouthfeel: Light body, heavy on the carbonation, not incredibly smooth but still drinkable.
Overall: This is only the second beer from O’Fallon’s that I’ve come across (the first I ever tried was “Wheach,” their peach wheat beer) and I continue to keep a look out for their brews. I found the Cherry Chocolate quite tasty and great to sip on during the cold winter months. I don’t think it’s for everyone as it’s very sweet. But if you like the taste of cherries and chocolate you’ll probably find it very agreeable.

Tasty Mug Rating: 3.58 / 5

Additional Information

Style: Dark Wheat
ABV: 5.70%
IBUs: 10
Original Gravity: Unknown
Malts:
Pale, White Wheat, Caramel 40L, Chocolate
Hops: Cluster
Availability: Winter (seasonal)
Food Pairings: N/A
Glassware: Pint glass or mug
Calories: Not listed
Aging: Unknown