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Entries in craft beer (5)


Review: Saison Dupont

Those of you who have been following our site for a bit know that I have become a big fan of the Saison style of beeer. Most of those I have tried are produced domestically by regional craft brewers (so far my favorite is Kansas City's Boulevard's Smoke Stack Series Saison). I was excited to find a bottle imported from Belgium where it all began. All in all, this is a great beer. Not quite as clean of a finish as some others I have had recently, but very nice. What struck me most is the aroma that rises from the bottle when you first open it. It's a bazaar cross between a pilsner and seven-up. No kidding! There is a nice upfront fruitiness with a mild hint of hops towards the backend. Somewhat dry on the finish, but not as clean as many. There is a twinge of farmhouse funk to it, more so than the domestic examples I have tried lately. Its worth a try and no more expensive than the regional Saisons that you are likely to find. Definitely worth a try if you are exploring this style. This beer was designed for this time of year.

Cheers, -D

Fullsteam Ahead!

Keep a lookout for Fullsteam Brewery. They are a self described "brewery-in-planning". These folks are based in North Carolina and have been actively involved in re-writing the legal definition of beer there in order to pursue their craft brewing dreams. They have plans to open up a brewery later this year which will be dedicated to creating a distinctly southern beer..."beyond sweet tea". Their website is which they say the dot ag is for agriculture and represents their "plow-to-pint brewing".

Their latest experiment is a beer called Hogwash which is designed to pair with BBQ. It is made with hickory smoked malt which they currently prepare on their Big Green Egg! Check out their website, its inspiring!  Can't wait to try their Brew!  After all, few things go together as well as beer and BBQ...




Homebrew Recipe: Chocolate Stout

I just tapped into my first attempt at a Chocolate Stout. Many of my favorite beers are stouts, yet my track record from brewing stouts is not very good. My stouts have not had as full of a body as they should and tend to have more of a roasted or coffee-like character than what I was shooting for. I brewed this beer at the end of August. The result is one of my better attempts, but my goals still seem elusive.

This beer has excellent head retention, is nearly black in color with tan foam. The highlight is nice chocolate and malt aroma with a background of hops. The flavor profile may need more aging to balance out better and it finishes too bitter for me.

I over-carbonated this beer which makes it seem thin. As I allowed the beer to sit, warm, and release carbonation it began to take on a nice velvety texture in the mouth. I've released mush of the pressure in the keg to reduce the level of carbonation. I am hopeful that this beer will balance out its bitterness a little better by spring. If not, I may use it for a blending experiment with a lightly hopped full bodied dark brown ale.

On a positive note, I had a piece of sweet chocolate while sampling the beer and the combination of flavors was very nice. This would pair very nicely with a sweet dessert as-is!  It just has too much of a lingering bitterness to enjoy on its own for my tastes.

Here's the recipe (all-grain 154° mash):

12lb two-row malted barley
2lb Dingemans Chocolate Malt
1lb Dingemans "Special B"
1lb Flaked Barley (for body and head retention)
1/2lb Malto-Dextrin (for body)
Hops: East Kent Gouldings 1oz 75min, .5oz 60min, .5oz 30min; 1oz. whole Chinook (homegrown) 20min; .1oz Whole Willamette (homegrown) for 15min approx 51 IBUs overall (and I wonder why its bitter)
8oz Cocoa powder

Yeast: SafAle English Ale (dry)

So far here are my ratings:


• Appearance: B • Aroma: B • Taste: C- •


Overall: C-



I'll be sure to keep you up to date on its progress,



Review: Schlafly No. 15 Ale



•     Appearance:  B     •     Aroma:  A-     •     Taste:  A     •


Overall:  A-

Schlafly first introduced its No. 15 Ale in celebration of its 15th anniversary in 2006.  Fortunately, they have kept this beer in production ever since.  I think this may be the best beer brewed in St. Louis right now.

I try to introduce everyone I can to this brew, so this seems to be a great opportunity to broaden that endorsement.  So whats so great?  Its a really nice and complex session beer.  This beer seems to be brewed in the dunkel weiss, or dark wheat style although it does not advertise itself as such.

It is a little lighter than most dark wheat beers with a hazy amber appearance thanks to its unfiltered yeast.  That yeast gives this beer with a lot of character that shows up in the nose as well as in the flavor.  There are distinct fruity notes, more plumb-like than citrus, some banana and hints of clove and other spice.  This is a very, very tasty brew with just enough hops to balance the sweet wheat flavors and add some spice to the finish.

I highly recommend giving this beer a try when you can find it.  Luckily the supermarkets in the St. Louis area seem to keep it on hand for most of the year.  Schlafly has also upgraded their capacity by several thousand barrels this fall, so look for their distribution to grow!

Stay tuned, I'm going to take a shot at cloning this beer at home over the Christmas break.



Review: Michelob Winter's Bourbon Cask Ale


•   Appearance:  B    •    Aroma:  B-    •   Taste:  B      •


Overall:  B

Wow, this is a solid beer from A-B/InBev.  The Michelob brand seems to have a craft brew mentality these days and it keeps drawing me in thanks to my proximity to St. Louis.  I saw this seasonal brew at "the candy store" (Corral Liquors) while picking up supplies for the Thanksgiving holiday and couldn't resist giving it a try.

The label describes itself as a "Winter Ale Aged on Bourbon Oak Casks and Whole Madagascan Vanilla Beans" .  That description holds up quite well.    This is a unique beer with definite vanilla highlights that are complimented by distinct caramel malt flavors.

This beer has a nice amber color with a light head that fades very quickly with zero lacing.   Vanilla notes are the highlight of the aroma.  You can also pick up some of the caramel malt in the nose but no detectable hops up front.

The taste is all about vanilla, oak, caramel, and sweet malt.  Only a slight background of hop bitterness.  This is a good holiday brew with likely a higher alcohol content than most A-B products, but the creamy sweetness of this beer hides it well.  This beer reminds me quite a bit of an old fashioned cream soda.

Notable improvements would be some head retention, some spice to balance the sweetness and aroma hops.  Give this beer a try, its quite surprising.  I'll probably pick up another six to share over Christmas break.

Cheers, and Happy Thanksgiving!