Oxbow Brewing Company BoBasa

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Oxbow Brewing Company BoBasa

I accidentally discovered the Oxbow Farmhouse Brewery last year when I was on a vacation through the North East with my wife.  In Portland I stopped in a specialty beer spot near Old Port and really dug the logo of their Crossfade bottle.  It reminded me of imagery we had created for the New York Telephone cover.  That 80's futurism.  In any case, a few weeks after I brought it back I drank it, loved it and figured I'd never see it again.  Then I caught a break when Beverage Island opened near my place back home and has literally almost everything I could ever want there.

They had about 5 different bottles of offerings from Oxbow, and I was pumped to see it because I had a hard time not thinking about Crossfade.  Recently I also grabbed another of there's called BoBasa.  I wanted to prove that they didn't just get lucky with Crossfade and they didn't. 

All of Oxbow's stuff is Farmhouse, Saison, Aged, Belgian....shit that I like in particular.  And BoBasa was no different.  This thing is a blend of two barrel aged beers, mixed with fresh farmhouse ale and then re-aged again.  Doing all of that and ending up at 6% ABV couldn't have been easy. 

The taste made me feel like I had snuck into a party that I didn't belong in.  It was so high end and refined, only a particular palette might appreciate it, but I'm not sure I look the part as someone that would.  It's snootiness was calmed by it's easy finish, drinkability and low ABV.  When I finished the bottle I felt I had finally been accepted by my fancy new people at Oxbow.  They are quickly becoming one of my favorite breweries in the country and I can't wait to grab some more of their stuff. 

Maine is one of the best brew states in the US, word to Brzowski.

4 1/2 Drink Tickets

EVENT - "Craft House 2nd Anniversary Party"

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Craft House was probably created with me in mind.  When I first moved into my neighborhood this place was a lunch spot and that was fine.  At some point, from what I've heard this place went on one of those reality tv make over shows and came out a Craft Beer bar that serves BBQ & Soul Food.  It's gorgeous bar is lined with artwork from local artists, most of which are from Chris Spollen's studio.  So yeah, I was the core customer they were looking to attract, along with my wife who has adapted her distaste for beer to become a cider expert.

Kent Falls' "I AM TABLE IPA!"

Kent Falls' "I AM TABLE IPA!"

This place is such a resource for beer and foodies in Staten Island's St. George neighborhood that I'm happy to celebrate their 2nd Anniversary and wish them many more.  It was a 4 hour event that featured and all you can eat buffet of fresh and hot BBQ and wings, and an amazingly curated selection of beer samples from across the country.  The beer flight available delivered on every single one, I rated all of them at least a 3 and half on Untappd and had never drank any of them before.  They also had selections from local Staten Island Breweries, Flagship and Killsboro.  Let's get into some drinking.....

The list included the following at the main bar:

Victory/Grimm Vis a Vis, Grimm Rubus Rebus, Kent Falls I AM A TABLE IPA, Maine Lunch, Hill Farmstead Double Galaxy, Modern Times Blazing World and Westbrook's Mexican Cake.

The most memorable to me were Kent Falls' I AM A TABLE IPA (pictured above).  What a bizarre name for a beer and a bizarre tasting beer.  It's an IPA that drinks like a Belgian White.  Super zesty and plain delicious.  The best comparison I could come up with would be Empire's White Afro.  I was digging it heavy.

Grimm's Rubus Rebus

Grimm's Rubus Rebus

Grimm's Rubus Rebus tasted like fresh fruit.  It's color was almost full red.  I love Rosee brews, like Dieu Du Ciel's Rosee Hibiscus or Ommegang's Aphrodite.  This was on both of those beers levels.  I came away really impressed with Grimm, having enjoyed their collab with Victory, Vis a Vis as well.

Westbrook's Mexican Cake was the true wild card on the list above.  It's high in alc content, as I was feeling it shortly after just the flight cup.  It's a dark and heavy beer, which I usually don't enjoy, but it truly did have the after taste of icing on it.  I respect the craft that went into making something like this, and while I may or may not be able to enjoy a full pint of it, I know a lot of other people that will.

Flagship delivered a nice collab with Eagle Rock called "Not Your Bro, Dawg", I can't say I totally remember it standing out in retrospect, probably due to the amazing roster of beers inside, but was certainly solid.

I also got to try some Killsboro for the first time, at first I didn't even realize it was also a Staten Island operation.  They don't quite have their Brewery running yet, so I can only judge but so harshly, but I wasn't that into their Swim Trunks or Total Hoppisites.  I did really like the Coconut flavored beer they had, if they can brew more stuff along those lines they can really make a name for themselves by offering a flavor profile that Flagship hasn't previously.  I wish I'd caught the name of it, but it was so new it wasn't on Untappd yet.

Outdoor deck featured live entertainment & local boro Breweries Flagship & Killsboro.

Would have loved to have gotten respectable pics of the amazing food at this event too, but I honestly was already faded and ate it too fast to even go there.  If you're ever on Staten Island make sure Craft House is a stop, some of the best food and beer selection we have to offer.  Here's to many more years.  Congrats!

Sixpoint Low Brow Brilliant (SMaSH 2016)

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On another late night coming home from work I was happy to sit down at the Staten Island Ferry's new Craft Beer Bar, The Brass Tap.  They've got an absurd amount of taps filled with obscure craft beer, monthly brewery features and even a can only take out closet located on a separate floor of the Ferry.  It's kind of like I'm being sabotaged in the best of ways.

One night I saw a new offering from Sixpoint, one of my favorite breweries in NYC.  To be honest, at times it can be hit and miss with Sixpoint, but they set the standard in NY for craft brewing with classics like Sweet Action and Bengali Tiger.  Sixpoint does tons of one offs and collabs and Low Brow Brilliant is part of the SMaSH series which features "State Malts and State Hops" from NY.  The series also features efforts from Kelso, Coney Island, Brooklyn and Transmitter.

But when I saw this on tap, I had no clue of any of that.  I was told it was a Sour Ale and was sold enough to give it a try based on Sixpoint making it.  First sip is kind of like the beer equivalent of a Sour Patch Kid.  It hits you hard and wakes you up, which is exactly what I needed after a long day of work.  Strong raspberry flavors flow through the glass as you drink it.  There isn't much of an ebb to the taste profile, it's straight electricity on as you sip and off as you complete, and that's fine by me. A beer like this doesn't need to hit you in waves or have an ever evolving flavor profile, it just needs to drink fast because it's best cold and cold it was at Brass Tap. 

I happen to have a sweet tooth for beers, I know that's not true for everyone.  This beer goes into Lambic territory it's so sweet, but it's not sugary or over the top in any way.  It's just not gonna be the hop fest some inexperienced Sixpoint drinkers might expect. 

I'm loving it, don't have much negative to say about it at all, looking forward to trying this again before all the limited kegs in the city kick.

4 and Half Drink Tickets

Greenport Harbor Pith n' Peel Citrus IPA

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There's something holding me back from embracing this beer whole heartily, but yet I keep drinking it repeatedly.  I'm not sure what it is, but there is something a little stiff about the way it drinks.  There are three factors that hit you right away, the lack of citrus taste, the hops and the carbonated feel of the body.

I've worked my way through more then half a six pack of Pith n' Peel and it's still only in the process of growing on me.  I've attempted to drink Pith n' Peel multiple times in different situations, the best result I had was with some fish, some grilled salmon to be specific.  For a "Citrus IPA", it's not that sweet, so it actually pairs down well with a sweet fish like salmon.  I've also tried it this week, with it being warmer outside, doing some work outdoors and that seems to work well as it's more of a Late Spring/Summer beer in my opinion.  The label is pretty sweet, a walrus in water with a pine apple looking head dress, can't knock that. 

When it doesn't work is sitting and drinking it and concentrating on the taste.  It's just not that deep of a beer to ponder on any level and I can't get around a "Citrus IPA" not tasting like Citrus.  At least to me, the hops over power any attempt at a fruity balance.

I think the attempt here was to create something fruity and hoppy, but it ended up being a weaker version of another beer that I do enjoy from Peak, called Fresh Cut.  Considering Fresh Cut is a Pilsner and this is an IPA, it's hard not to argue this missed it's intention.

Maybe in hotter weather it'll work even better, for now I'm still just warming up to it.

3 Drink Tickets

Bell's Brewery Neptune The Mystic

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Bells Brewery's Neptune The Mystic

I was going to start out by saying it had been a while since my last official Beer Review here, but now that I look it's been a whole year!  Guess that's a sign of being busy with other things, which is good, but I do still have a passion for good beer.  So enough of that, let's get on with Neptune.

I should say from the outset, I am not typically a fan of dark beers and Neptune very much is.  That being said, this may have become my favorite of the dark beer category.  When you first drink it cold poured you may not be blown away by it, I wasn't.  It drinks, pours and tastes like a typical dark beer, but I always expect a lot from Bells, so I was patient.  This beer does what great dark beers do, it gets better the longer it sits out.

As it sits, the more the tastes evolve and the more drinkable it becomes.  It has that coffee-esque darkness to it (this from a non coffee drinker), but it grows over time.  It never really "flattens" like many beers do as they warm.  You could drink Neptune at room temperature, in fact, I'd suggest it.  At 9% ABV, you'll need to slip this slow anyway, it gives quite a buzz in just a bottle.

When it hits room you get the roastiness and the pepperiness that you really want and that is promised.  For a beer named after a very cold planet, it delivers warmth and defeats the Winter here on Earth.

3 and a Half (of 5) Drink Tickets

Bell's Brewery Winter White Ale

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With artwork like a Roger Dean Winter scene, how could this go wrong?

Bell's presents the curve ball of all curve balls with a Winter WHITE Ale.  That's right, a white ale in the Winter.  To be honest, the word "Winter" had me primed for a typical darker, heavier brew, despite the fact that the word "White" appears directly after it.  In drinking it, I'm nothing but curious what made them create a White (Wheat) beer for the Winter Season, and in a way, it pulls me into what it is further. 

As I drink it indoors, it gets warmer naturally, and I start to "get it".  If you are out doors, in a place like Michigan, where this is brewed, in the Winter time it maintains it's light and fruity taste.  I suppose you could say that about any wheat beer, and you could also say that this could have a "Summer Ale" sticker stamped on it and serve the same purpose. 

All that harsh truth aside, this is a great beer.  I happen to be a big fan of Bell's work and this offering maintains that character of refined and mature sensibilities.  Judging it on a Wheat Beer alone, I'd say this has enough bite to cut down any overage of fruitiness.  It doesn't suffer from the "Blue Moon Effect", which I'd say has ruined Wheat Beer as a product for thousands of American palettes.  It works with respect for it's European cousins, but does have some stiffness to it as you drink it as it's American brothers possess.

I've always been a huge fan of this font they are using for it, as it reminds me of Prog Rock, and that's always a great thing.  Bell's artistic choices are also validated with this scenic lonely snow covered view.  All in all, it's a nice choice in the Winter time that you don't have to dump in May due to changing seasons.

3 and Half Drink Tickets (of 5).

Peak Organic Brewing Fresh Cut Pilsner

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I really wanted to review this beer because of the story that goes with it for me.  I saw it in my local super market and have really enjoyed a lot of what Peak has done in the past, so I picked up a 6 pack to try it out.  "Fresh Cut" huh?  Reminded me of fresh cut grass, which sort of intrigued me because that's not exactly appetizing but would make an amazing aroma for a beer.  Not even sure if that's the imagery that's intended, but I digress....

It's a pretty beer, but pro-tip, drink it from the bottle!

When I first had one, I honestly hated it.  It's funny how taste buds can do that (you'll see what I mean later).  I didn't know what to make of it, it's tastes seemed all over the map for me.  Then I went on tour, just for the sake of argument, since I appreciate Peak, I saw it on tap somewhere on the road.  Probably Maine.  So I tried it, enjoyed it a lot more.  But that was only step 1 on my road to recovery.

Our 2nd date on the tour was back in NYC.  So we stayed at my place.  I was on the road with the tour father himself, Maine's own Brzowski.  He gravitated towards his home state brew since there were likely 5 still in my fridge.  He had a couple and I can tell he enjoyed the hell out of them.  He commented on "how he had to come to NY to enjoy some good Maine beer".  So I gave it yet another try, and now I'm hooked.

Is it the power of positive suggestion?  Is it an acquired taste that I finally figured out?  Not sure, but I finished the rest of that sixer and have re-stocked twice since.  Fresh Cut is also now third on my current "What I'm Reaching For" (Readily Available) list

I think it's pretty simple, unlike most beers I actually much prefer Fresh Cut out of the bottle as opposed to in a glass.  In a glass I feel like the aromatics really go out the window and the flavor becomes  a lot less focused.  When I drink it from the bottle I can taste a strange combination of Pilsner smoothness and hoppy flavored bitterness that is usually not put together in one bottle.  From the narrow neck of a 12 oz these things are forced together and into direct contact.  I've started to see increased hops appear in unusual places lately like Summers and Pilsners and I have to say, I like that movement.  It's a further refinement of the American style Craft IPAs that set off the beer renaissance. 

Fresh Cut really delivers on innovation and the fact that it rocks inside of a bottle makes it great for the Summer.  Fresh Cut grass?  Maybe not, but a fresh approach?  For sure.

4 Drink Tickets (of 5)

Weihenstephaner Korbinian

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I could tell you how this beer has hints of caramel like everyone else probably does beer reviews, but this is about more then that.  This is about how the "World's Oldest Brewery" became a new friend and a reliable go-to.

When I started my journey as aspiring beer snob in 1999 the first beers I really dove into were Paulaner and Hoegaarden.  This was long before those companies were widely distributed in the US and were independently owned.  It was 15 years ago, but I can tell you, they both definitely taste different these days then they did back in the days at the one tap in L.E.S. where you could get them. 

When I discovered Weihenstephaner's Hefe Weiss a year or so ago, it brought me back to what I first loved about beer and brought me back to those mind blowing times in the late 90's where I finally put down the Corona and the Heineken. 

So after moving on from the Hefe to this awesomely ornate bottle of Korbinian I could only hope I'd find the same joy - I did.  It's a classically brewed piece of work, where you can get a thick savory taste and still have it delivered in what would be interpreted as a thin and easy to drink form.  That's what Belgian, and in this case Bavarian, brewing is all about. 

With this weighing in at 7.4% ALC content it will also get you nice and at a price that's really friendly.  Weihenstephaner's brews all come in mid-sized bottles at only 3.99 each.  This is a win-win on all counts.  I look forward to sampling more of their extensive beer selection which can be found here at their site.

This gets a solid 4 Drink Tickets out of 5.