Four Roses Single Barrel Limited Edition 2013

Last night I happened upon an establishment with a smidge of Four Roses Single Barrel Limited Edition 2013 hiding in plain sight behind the bar. I’m not sure how this made it this far without being consumed, but the ounce of Bourbon was just waiting for me to order and consume it. I had been on the lookout for a bottle, but it had proved elusive with only 8,000 barrels being produced and the $90 price of admission also seemed a bit steep. Luckily an ounce of this elixir came at the affordable price of $11 or $12 and it turned out to be worth every penny. This 13-year-old Bourbon was crazy beautiful and ridiculously smooth and tasty. I’m keeping my fingers crossed I can find a bottle of the 2014 Limited Edition, but I’m hearing it is a Benjamin so I might have to just have a taste at a bar somewhere!

Teach Them While They Are Young!

We have a new team member in training and last night I started him on the path to craft beer excellence by introducing him to the myriad of aromas and flavors that are craft beer. He indicated in college he did not have the funds to enjoy much craft beer and so Blue Moon and Sweetwater 420 were about as adventurous as he ever got. I decided to start him off on training wheels with the Mother Earth Weeping Willow Witbier, but followed that up with Noda Coco Loco and finally hit him with Big Boss High Roller. Time will tell if I’ve created a monster or not, but he was ready for that fourth beer when I told him I needed to call it a night. I hope I taught the 22-year-old tot at least a few things about beer and it will at least whet his appetite for more craft beers in the future.

PS: Don’t give beer to babies or in the US those under 21. ;)

In The Weeds

Over the weekend I hit a trio of Wicked Weed bottled selections which were all quite tasty, but in need of a kick in the pants IMO. Serenity was the best of the bunch which stands to reason since it won a 2013 GABF Gold Medal. Bretticent was the second best and just seemed light to me. The standout should have been Black Angel, but the beer seemed as if it was a shadow of what could have been and watery as if water was added to stretch the batch. The price of admission for the 500 ml bottles varied from affordable to a little high. As a newer brewery they are putting out some great things, but I’m not sure I’m going to drop the coin in the future for a bottle without seeing some stellar reviews.

I do enjoy the brewpub, but they have so many rules which seem to change at the drop of a hat I generally try to hit someplace else when in Asheville. I’ll have to make a note to sometime detail all the rules I and others have run into at Wicked Weed. I’m not sure if they are under the microscope of the NCABC or if they just like to mess with customers. It’s borderline ridiculous. Anyway, if you see the bottles out and about you may find they are right up your alley. However, if you are a fan of sour and Brett ale I’d suggest you give them a while to mature.

Like A Rolling Stone

I subscribed to Rolling Stone back in the day when it was newsprint all the way through the mid to late 80′s. Music has always been political, but generally it is statements made in song, not stupidity posted on the internet.

Recently Rolling Stone decided to show The 5 Most Dangerous Guns In America and they are…drumroll…
1) Pistols
2) Revolvers
3) Rifles
4) Shotguns
5) Derringers

As it turns out they could have simply used two categories, pistols (or handguns) and long guns. Instead they decided to divide it up into five categories supposedly based upon the firearms recovered by the ATF. What a colossal waste of time and bandwidth, or course I am glad they did or I might not have anything to discuss today. I think they would have had a better article simply stating they believe all guns are dangerous in America, at least that could have been an interesting article.

U-G-L-Y You Ain’t Got No Alibi

Earlier this year I had someone at a store try to talk me into a Smith & Wesson Model 625 which is a .45ACP revolver with the most heinous grip on the planet. To me it takes an otherwise nice looking pistol and turns it into something from the 1960′s/1970′s. It might as well have a mood ring come with it or a lava lamp. I’m sure someone could fabricate different grips for the firearm, but at $850+ you’d think it would come any way you want it. Personally the gap at the front of the cylinder adds to the unattractive nature and that laminated wood in Partridge Family colors just doesn’t help. I’d take it for free, or maybe to help out a buddy hard on his luck, but otherwise wouldn’t keep it with my other firearms for fear the ugly might rub off.

It’s Palate

I saw someone post in a forum their pet peeve is people writing the word Palate incorrectly. I ran into this the other day when looking at a blog. People often misspell it as pallet – which is typically made of wood and carries cargo, or palette – which is something an artist uses to mix paints, or even pallette – which is a misspelling of palette. So try to use Palate correctly to identify what happens in your mouth, as in, the beer was harsh on my palate, or the beer had mid-palate bitterness, or whatever. I often use it to describe what I sense and where I sense it even though those sensations may be occurring on my tongue and not my palate. I’m typically not too much of a stickler for spelling unless the word begins to mean something totally different and in this case a little misspelling puts you in a different world. So use the word Palate and use it well!

You Probably Know The Rules Better Than The Enforcers

Just a quick note today. I posted recently about how to carry a firearm on an airplane. Yesterday I was going through security and did not have a firearm, but the TSA agent stopped to tell me to take my laptop out of the case. I have a special laptop case which allows me to keep it secure and it goes through the scanner without removing it, the pocket is designed for the TSA scan. I explained to him that was not necessary and quickly another TSA agent came over and told him I was correct and to let it pass through the scanner. My suggestion is if you are doing something which might cause a question like flying with a firearm to print out the rules on the TSA website and carry them with you when you get to the airport. The same may be true if the laws change regarding anything you are doing in your state. I know in the past immediately after a law change I have suggested to students to carry a copy of the laws in case they were questioned until the law enforcement agency has time to come up to speed on the changes.


How To Fail The BJCP Taste Exam

Recently there was a topic which appeared in a discussion forum where someone did not pass the BJCP Exam and he was so upset by his failure he resigned from the program. He said he made a 58 and then posted one of his score sheets. I thought it might be useful to go over just where this exam went wrong. Of course this is based on a single sheet instead of the entire set, but it might serve as a tool for others to improve their own score sheets.

Aroma – he really did not say anything. He mentioned 2-row malt and caramel and then the rest is what is not present and blank lines. It was more than likely a German malt character of Vienna or perhaps Munich malt. There is little depth to the comments, basically two comments on malt character and the rest covering nonexistent characteristics.

Appearance – this is pretty good. He docked it a point, perhaps for the haze he noted.

Flavor – this is a bit of a train-wreck. The first talks about the finish, then how the beer is more hop-centric, which happens further back in flavor typically, then he mentions a solvent-like character which was not mentioned in the aroma. Finally he mentions Astringency. The mention of Astringency in the flavor is bad form. Astringency is a sensation, not a flavor, and as such should be mentioned in Mouthfeel if present. So no discussion of hop flavor, or really flavor at all. What the flavor was initially and mid-palate were omitted. All we have is what happened in finish and aftertaste and those comments don’t demonstrate a refined palate.

Mouthfeel – He mentions carbonation, creaminess, and astringency and nothing else. I notice he ticked alcoholic at the side, if it was alcoholic I would expect warming effects from it which should be mentioned here.

Overall Impression – this is really weak. If it were my sheet I would hone in on the haze in appearance, solvent in flavor and astringency in mouthfeel. Of course that is assuming he was correct in picking out those characteristics. Instead he focused on hops and caramel and suggests to watch fermentation temp without any indication what characteristic he was trying to fix. One could assume it was the solvent-like character he picked up on, but it should not be the grader nor the entrant who has to figure that out. The best sheets spell it out.

One of the biggest issues with the sheet is completeness. There are eight lines which have no verbiage on them at all and several of the comments really don’t say much of anything. The score also seems high based on the comments made. If I am given a hazy, solvent, harshly bittered, and astringent Oktoberfest I would expect it to not crest the 20 point mark.

So let’s grade this thing making some assumptions.

Scoring Accuracy he gave it a 29, let’s say it should have been a 20. 9 point variance from the proctors would earn – 10/20

Perception – I have no proctor sheets for comparison, but can tell the perception is pretty weak. Lets go with the lowest passing grade – 12/20

Descriptive Ability – Again very weak, let’s do lowest passing grade – 12/20

Feedback – Very weak, lowest passing grade – 12/20

Completeness – Eight blank lines and some comments which have no real content, lowest passing – 12/20

Add it all up and he should have gotten – 58 which is exactly where he landed on the overall exam according to his comments. (If you want a more detailed analysis of the grading you can check out this document.)

I have little respect for quitters. When most people fall down they get up, brush off the dirt, and try again. This person was so insulted when he didn’t pass he quickly resigned from the program. Ultimately I say good riddance, we really don’t need people like that hanging around dragging the rest of us down.

Not All Craft Is Stellar

I believe we now have over 3,000 breweries opened in the US. Unfortunately many don’t have a clue what they are doing. I happened to be at a brewpub last night which has stopped brewing in that restaurant and trucks in kegs from elsewhere. The beer was not stellar, in fact only one was worth a flip. It was a really sad state of affairs because it was a place I once visited quite often and now will probably not return since there are greener pastures. I’m pleased we have so many breweries opened and in planning across the US, but I’m worried 25-30% of them are not making beer worthy of their patrons. There is no reason to be serving beer people don’t desire a second pint of and when eight people at a table have tried most everything and have given up it tells you there could be an issue somewhere. So if you are a brewery or have plans to open one, please get a tasting panel which consists of more than your buddies to do an evaluation and offer suggestions for improvement. I know I’ve always though life is too short to drink bad beer and last night my time, time I cannot get back, was wasted.


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