The Friday Pint #138 – Uncle Bear’s Blueberry Saison

Uncle Bear’s Brewery is located in Phoenix, AZ. Uncle Bear is actually a Labrador, and his image can be seen in the brewery’s branding.

On February 10th, I tried Uncle Bear’s Blueberry Saison as part of a number of Arizona brewed beers.

Based on the name, I was expecting to somewhat enjoy this beer. I was expecting a refreshing fruity beer, with a few of the flavours I’ve come to expect from traditional saisons.

What I found was a beer that disappointed expectations. The aroma, unsurprisingly, was very strong in blueberries. Blueberries were also present in the taste too. Again, this is to be expected in a Blueberry Saison. The beer did seem much more dry than I was anticipating, and nowhere near as refreshing as I would have liked.

If I had to recommend an Arizona brewed beer with blueberries, I would probably pick Big Blue Van from the College Street Brewery in Lake Havasu. I found that beer to be much more refreshing and thirst quenching than this one.

 

On an historical note, I’ve been made aware that it’s been two years since the Dancing Man Brewery opened in the old Wool House in Southampton. It’s now been over five years since they first started in The Platform Tavern. I may have been slightly disappointed with the initial offerings, but over time things improved, and Dancing Man soon became one of my favourite things about Southampton.

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The Friday Pint #137 – Kingman House of Hops Golden.

This week’s beer is one of six Arizona brewed beers I drank on February 10th at the House of Hops in Kingman, AZ.

Golden is the House of Hops house beer. I had tried it once before drinking it for the purpose of this blog. Neither time offered up anything that could really get me enthused about the beer.

Whilst drinking, I noted that it seemed bland and boring. It might be a beer that reveals more over time, but it’s not really a beer I’d want to drink again and again, especially when there are other choices on the same bar I know I’ll enjoy and get more out of.

I also wrote that Golden is “not a beer to sit and devour, and not a beer to refresh and enjoy without thinking about it either”. This was followed up by “balanced in a boring way”

The House of Hops will soon have a brewery right next door to it. Rickety Cricket is currently being built ready for opening later this year. I’m not expecting to like everything (even my favourite breweries have had brews I wasn’t a fan of) but I’m hoping they’ll have brews that are more exciting than Golden.

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The Friday Pint #136 – Black Bridge Brewery Cliffdweller DIPA

This week is Arizona Beer Week. As a result, I took myself back down to Downtown Kingman to sample some of the Arizona beers available in the House of Hops. They will be featured in future installments of The Friday Pint.

Before I made it to the House of Hops, I paid another visit to the Black Bridge Brewery. This time it was to try Cliffdweller DIPA, a collaboration with the State 48 brewery of Surprise, AZ. Cliffdweller stands at a mighty 10.8%, and whilst not the strongest beer available on the tap list, it arguably drinks like it is. Wicked Poison in contrast, is a deceptively easy drinking 14.2%

The description of Cliffdweller posted on the brewery’s Facebook page stated that it was brewed using fresh hops from the Pacific Northwest, including Simcoe, Columbus, Centennial and Cascade. These hops aren’t used lightly either, and it would seem many were used in the bittering stage of the boil. Cliffdweller is easily the most bitter beer I’ve had since moving to America, and quite possibly since I moved out of London a few years back.

The bitterness is to the point where it becomes rather difficult to pickup or think about anything other than that. I did however get hints of pine, which in that moment reminded me of Art Brew’s Pine Tree Beer. Other than that, I was unable to note anything about this beer.

Whilst I was there, the bartender also gave me a small sample of Cliffdweller mixed with 80 Shilling. The harshness of the bitterness was reduced slightly, but not enough for the mix to be something I’d drink reguarly. I would though, drink Cliffdweller again, albeit in a smaller amount than I did on Friday,

Cliffdweller DIPA will be available at Black Bridge Brewery, and at State 48 brewery whilst it lasts.

At the time of posting, Arizona Beer Week is approximately half way through. For those of you reading near Arizona who might like to pay a visit, it ends on Saturday February 18th.

 

On a related note, Black Bridge Brewery won gold at the Arizona Strong Beer Festival with their Katastrophic Humiliation barleywine.

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The Friday Pint #135 – Black Bridge Brewery No Pricks Allowed

A new year, a new numbering system. Out with the old way of starting from zero each year, and in with the new way of numbering each new Friday Pint post sequentially. Is this actually #135? I’m not sure, but it’s close enough, and if any of you actually bother to go back and count, you might want to reconsider your life choices.

As for the matter of why I’m here, typing; I actually went out and drank some beer today.

Back when I last wrote something for this segment, way back in March of last year, I was living in Pittsburgh, looking forward to trying all the beers the local area had to offer. Now, I find myself in Kingman, Arizona, a small city in the northwest of the state. Fortunately for me, Kingman just so happens to have it’s own brewery, with a second being built across the road from it.

The brewery that exists now is Black Bridge Brewery. It is situated on East Beale Street in the Downtown Kingman area. It was founded in 2013.

I have visited the brewery a few times since moving to the area in July. On a couple of occasions I have even written posts for here, yet they have not made it. By now, I have more or less tried each beer from the main range at least once. There are those I have enjoyed, and those that I have not. Eventually, I’ll tell you what those beers are.

As for today’s beer, today I drank No Pricks Allowed.

No Pricks Allowed is a 7.9% Prickly Pear Belgium Blonde. It’s rose in colour, and was co-brewed by Janelle, who was my server today. Based on my first impressions, I wasn’t really impressed with the beer. It’s not something I’d rush to drink.

That being said, I do think I was drinking it in the wrong circumstances. No Pricks Allowed seemed like a very easy to drink beer, and one that would make a great addition to summer parties. I think I would probably drink it with some added fruit, or as part of a cocktail or mix.

Which brings me nicely to Prickly Ginger (4.1%), a blend of the aforementioned No Pricks Allowed, and Black Bridge Brewery’s ginger beer. The addition of the ginger beer for me gives the drink a much needed flavour kick. Whilst there wasn’t anything overtly wrong with No Pricks Allowed, I personally found it lacking in flavour.

The last beer I tried whilst at the brewery today was Angry Elf, a 9.5% Russian Imperial Stout that was originally brewed as a home brew by one of the brewery’s bar staff. It will be featured at the Arizona Strong Beers Festival on February 11th, along with No Pricks Allowed, and Wicked Poison.

Angry Elf is among the most stoutiest of stouts I’ve tried in a long time. It is certainly the stout that has tasted most like burnt treacle I’ve had. Imagine a glass of liquid treacle toffee. Now imagine that sugar burnt even more, enough that only a hint of the sugar remains. That’s more or less where Angry Elf sits. It’s very much a cold winter’s night by the fireplace sipping stout. If only we had more of those in Arizona.

In the next edition of The Friday Pint, I’ll be trying beers from elsewhere in Arizona. Arizona Beer Week runs from the 9th to the 18th of February.

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The Session #120 – Brown Beer

This month’s edition of The Session is hosted by Joe Tindall of The Fatal Glass of Beer. He asks us to contemplate brown beer. A commonly neglected and unloved form of beer.

I have been in the USA for just over a year now. I have found many good IPAs, and many good stouts. Brown beers, or rather beers resembling the sort of beer I could easily find back home (in the UK) are somewhat harder to come by. When I do come by them, many don’t live up to what I was drinking for over 10 years of my life.

This makes me think that brown beer, or rather an English Bitter in this case, is something I (and possibly many others) take for granted. It is one of those styles that most breweries have in some shape or form, and more often than not, it will be their best seller.

There’s a good reason for this. A well balanced bitter is often the choice of a drinker who wants to spend a long session enjoying a beer or two over a few hours. A number of 4% bitters is going to be much more palatable than the same number of 7% stouts or IPAs. For those of a certain age, whose early beer drinking days were formulated on a limited selection of “boring brown beers”, returning to them on occasion can provide comfort, and also a reference point for the wide range of other beers available today.

As for English Bitter style beers in the US, I think the problem is one of dispense. Whilst lagers and IPAs are suited to being dispensed by keg, I think beers like English bitters (and to a lesser degree stouts) are much better dispensed on cask. As I’m now some distance from the nearest bar that serves cask, I guess I’ll just have to make do.

At least there’s the option of Fuller’s London Pride in bottles…

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