THE BREWSKI REPORT Tommy Brewski: My Beer. My Life.

September 26, 2011

Tommy Brewski’s First Oatmeal Stout 9.26.2011

The Dark Goodness of Wolaver's Oatmeal Stout

The Dark Goodness of Wolaver's Oatmeal Stout

Tommy Brewski Knocks Back An Oatmeal Stout
File Date: 9.26.2011

File Name: Tommy’s First Oatmeal Stout.
The Beer: Oatmeal Stout
Type: Oatmeal Stout
Serving: Bottle
Stats: 5.9% ABV
Brewer: Otter Creek Brewing/Wolaver’s
Web Site:
State/Country of Origin: VT, USA
Brewer Info: Located in beautiful Middlebury, Vermont, we shipped our first keg of Copper Ale in March of 1991. Four years later, after quickly outgrowing our original site, we moved into a new state-of-the-art brewery just down the street. In 1998, we began producing Wolaver’s Certified Organic Ales in partnership with Panorama Brewing Company. Both brands have flourished as beer drinkers throughout the northeast have enjoyed craft ales, and as the focus on sustainable farming and living has blossomed. In May of 2002, the Wolaver family purchased Otter Creek Brewing. Otter Creek remains a family owned Vermont company and produces all Otter Creek and Wolaver’s brands for distribution throughout the country. We brew and bottle all of our beers in small batches to ensure freshness and consistent quality. We use natural Vermont water, the best domestic malt and hops available, and our own top-fermenting yeast. All Wolaver’s beers are made with no less than 98% certified organic ingredients. Our brewery and our Wolaver’s brands are certified organic by Vermont Organic Farmers. Otter Creek ales enjoy a complexity of flavor, natural carbonation, and a creamy texture that is favored by beer enthusiasts at pubs and restaurants throughout the United States.

tbr-otter-crk-insertBrewer Brand Hype:  Minimal brand marketing on the web.
Label: Certified Organic by Vermont Organic Farmers. Since 1997 Robert and Morgan Wolaver have combined their passion for exceptional ales with their belief in the benefits of organic farming to create Wolaver’s supurb handcrafted ales brewed with only the finest organic barley and hops grown by small independent farms.

The Brewski Review: Very tasty and mild. I was expecting something a little more bitter but was pleasantly surprised. It looked like molasses on the pour and finished with very little mud colored head. It was a little on the creamy side but not too much. By the looks I would have expected more. This happened to be my first Oatmeal Stout so I rank it high on my list of types. I’m definitely gravitating toward the more malty beverages than the hoppy variety.

Drinkability: Definitely.
Appearance: One word: Molasses.
The Buds: Nice and malty. Very mild.
TBR Cap Rating: 4.25 out of 5 caps.

September 11, 2011

A Non-Greenie Review of an Organic Beer 9.11.2011

'Certified Organic' so says the brewer.

'Certified Organic' so says the brewer.

TBR Reviews Eel River’s Organic Amber Ale any My Recycling Habits
File Date: 09.11.2011

File Name: A Greenie’s Beer Delight
The Beer: Organic Amber Ale
Type: American Amber/Red Ale
Serving: Bottle
Stats: 4.8% ABV
Brewer: Eel River Brewing Co.
Web Site:
State/Country of Origin: CA, USA
Brewer Info: “When you’re cookin’ up 5 gallons of beer at home and screw it up, oh well. But when you’re brewing 50 gallons at a time you better know exactly what you’re doing.” That was Eel River Brewing Company co-owner Ted Vivatson back in 1996 explaining why they hired a top notch professional brew-master when they first opened. As avid home-brewers, Ted and partner Margaret Frigon had a vision of excellent hand crafted beer and great food in historic surroundings.  The vision came to fruition in 1995 and the beer begin to flow at the former site of the Clay Brown Redwood lumber mill in Fortuna, California. Remnants of the old mill can still be seen in Eel River Brewing Company’s Beer Garden, one of the best places in the world to enjoy some of the best beer in the world on a sunny day. Inside the Taproom you’ll see historic photographs of the mill and various other Humboldt County scenes from days gone by.

tbr-organic-aa-insrtBrewer Brand Hype: Eel River Brewing Company, brewers of California’s first Certified Organic Ale, proudly brings you our Organic Amber Ale. Unique in flavor and purity, this medium bodied beer has a hoppy bouquet and a distinctive rich taste with a caramel-like sweetness that is balanced with a liberal dose of certified organic Pacific Gems and Hallertau hops, imported from New Zealand. Pure taste, pure ingredients, pure good.
Label: Certified Organic. Product of Northern California. Eel River Brewing Co., Scotia, CA

The Brewski Review: The brewers web site notes this as a rich copper color. I liken it more to a dark amber than a copper. Maybe you would call that close enough. But ‘Certified Organic’? I’m not much of a greenie other than doing my fair share of recycling, but this is good beer. I like it’s mild taste. The hoppy bitterness is present but it’s not in your face. Just the way I like it. I endorse the owners efforts to go green by using biomass to power the plant, but I don’t think that adds to the taste. To me, it’s more of a marketing gimmick and personal choice than a method to turn out an excellent tasting beverage. But, I’ll cut them some slack if they keep turning out good tasting beers such as their Certified Organic Amber Ale. And, just because I feel like doin’ some good, I’ll recycle this container for others to enjoy – minus the beer of course.

Drinkability: Would drink again.
Appearance: Dark amber color.
The Buds: Nice mild tasting amber ale.
TBR Cap Rating: 4.0 caps out of 5.

September 10, 2011

Siren Amber Ale or Devil Girl Beer 9.10.2011

Siren Amber Ale for the devil in all of us.

Siren Amber Ale for the devil in all of us.

TBR Reviews North Peak’s Siren Amber Ale (or, Devil Girl Beer)
File Date: 9.10.2011

File Name: Sirens and Devil Girls Go Head To Head.
The Beer: Siren Amber Ale
Type: American Amber/Red Ale
Serving: Bottle
Stats: 5.0% ABV
Brewer: North Peak Brewing Co.
Web Site:
State/Country of Origin: MI, USA
Brewer Info: Legends of the north woods all start with a simple story at a single point in time. Our yarn began when the entrepreneurial Carlson, Lobdell and Czaplicka families signed the deed to a deserted candy factory in downtown Traverse City, MI. Within its cavernous brick walls the North Peak Brewing Company was established in 1997, where brews and food of uncommon quality were the focus. As the days passed into years, their passion for brewing grew and led them down paths travelled by other like-minded individuals. The result of this rendezvous of North Peak Brewing Company’s Jon Carlson and Greg Lobdell, and Ron Jeffries of Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales was the spawning of Northern United Brewing Company in 2008. Headquartered in their secret forest hideaway on Old Mission Peninsula, these brewing elders recruited the final full-time member of their clandestine council in August 2009 — brewmaster Mike Hall (who had consulted on numerous other endeavors). Their mission was simple: take the well-respected name of North Peak and build upon it with craft beers of the finest, hand-made quality using ingredients borne of the northern Michigan landscape. This is why North Peak brews whenever possible with Michigan malted-grain, hops and water. Over the next three months, Mike and Ron collaborated on recipes that drew from their nearly 50 years of combined brewing experience. In late 2009, at their new, secluded state-of-the art brewing facility on Old Mission Peninsula, the first bottles of Siren Amber Ale, Diabolical IPA and Majestic American Wheat rolled off the bottling line.
tbr-siren-insertBrewer Brand Hype: Its call is intoxicating. An aroma that beckons you to pull up a stool and linger over it’s toasted malt character. Next, a deep kiss of liquid lust that will caress you tongue, thanks to an array of toasty Pale, Crystal (30 and 75) wheat, Carapils and roasted barley malts balanced by the subtle bite of Willamette and Fuggle hops. It’s a brew that will seduce your heart, mind and palette.
Label: Brewed Up North. Traverse City, Michigan, USA

The Brewski Review: Pleasantly suprised by the mild taste. Most of the amber ales that I’ve tried have been higher on the bitterness scale. This is more subdued and for me that means it more appealing to my taste buds. So, it’s well balanced between the malt and hops. Good for those that don’t care for the bitter aftertaste of some brews. On the marketing side, I have to add that I like the label: simple and eye catching with the red and white. The name stems from Greek mythology, the Sirens (Greek singular: Seiren; Greek plural: Seirenes) were three dangerous bird-women, portrayed as seductresses who lured nearby sailors with their enchanting music and voices to shipwreck on the rocky coast of their island. But, for me, the little logo represents more of a little devil girl. Perhaps the beverage should have been named Devil Girl. And, they should have hooked up with the artist COOP (at who draws some mighty awsome designs – many of which involve devil girls. If I was still in my single dude-man bachelor days, my house would be decorated in Coop designs. I’m not paid to plug his work, but if you like simple retro looking graphics about girls, cars, robots, etc., check out his Coopstuff website. 

Drinkability: Most definitely.
Appearance: Deep amber color.
The Buds: Refreshingly mild.
TBR Cap Rating: 4.0 caps out of 5.

One of Coop's Devil Girl poster designs.

One of Coop's Devil Girl poster designs.

September 9, 2011

Red Rocket and The Long Drive Home 9.9.2011

Is that a great looking beer or what?

Is that a great looking beer or what?

The Brewski Report Reviews Red Rocket Ale and Road Warrior Funk.
File Date: 9.09.2011

File Name: An Unfortunate Snap Back To Reality
The Beer: Red Rocket Ale
Type: American Amber/Red Ale 
Serving: Bottle
Stats: 6.8% ABV
Brewer: Bear Republic Brewing Co.
Web Site:
State/Country of Origin: CA, USA
Brewer Info: Bear Republic Brewing Company (Bear Republic) was founded by third and fourth generation Sonoma County residents. From the humble beginning of home brewing to the demanding process of commercial brewing, came the realization that to produce the distinctive flavors and aroma we found appealing required the founding of our own Brew Pub. Through this process owners Richard R Norgrove, and wife Sandy, Richard G Norgrove, (Brew Master) and wife Tami, developed the style and mark of Bear Republic’s award winning, hand-crafted lagers and ales. Located in historic Healdsburg, California, where hop kilns from another era are still visible, our products are brewed and aged using the traditional “art” of the masters. Bear Republic’s family business is unique, from the mother who greets you at the door, to the son who brews the ales, the father who pulls tap and the daughter-in-law who keeps the books. The Norgroves invite you inside for healthy food and drink for the enjoyment of the whole family. Our goal is to create and cultivate a Brew Pub and Restaurant that the locals can call their own and that makes visitors feel at home. We work hard at fostering a sense of loyalty and tradition from eras gone by.

tbr-red-rocket-insertBrewer Brand Hype: Red Rocket Ale is a bastardized Scottish style red ale that traces it’s origins to our homebrew roots. This full bodied and hoppy brew finishes on the palate with sweet, caramel malt flavors.
Label: Red Rocket Ale is a bastardized Scottish style red ale packed with distinctive flavors and an aggressive hop character rivaled by none. This unfiltered, bottle-conditioned, amber colored ale, breaks all style molds. Keep refrigerated, beer is perishable, real ale is alive, yeast is good, serve at 45 – 50 F.

The Brewski Review: Whoa! Heavy on the hops bitterness scale for this ale. Bear Republic wasn’t affraid to go all out here on the hops. I pulled this one out of the fridge after a weary and long return trip home from our favorite vacation spot. I’ll have to admit, the hoppy taste snapped me back to reality pretty quickly. You know how you get in that long, road warrior funk? Your bum aches, your legs get numb and you start to drift off in your head about how much you hate work and if you could only win the lottery you’d buy that vacation house that only millionaires can afford. This, punctuated by listening to a mind numbing marathon of childrens animated videos started to make me lightheaded. But, as I noted earlier, this beer is the antidote. Very hearty and warming. Great for a nice cool, damp and overcast day. Oh yeah, the vacation? Great. I only wish we could have stayed longer. The upside was a free hotel room. Cashed in all those reward points I’ve been stacking up. Cha-Ching! More money for beer.

Drinkability: Yes. Would drink again.
Appearance: Deep amber – almost brown. Min. head.
The Buds: Super hoppy brew with a high ABV content.
TBR Cap Rating: 4 out of 5 caps.

Vintage Red Rocket Racer Tin Toy Car.

Vintage Red Rocket Racer Tin Toy Car.

September 3, 2011

Sam’s Cherry Wheat On Summer Vacation 9.6.2011

The draft was excellent. Now I'll have to try it the bottle.

The draft was excellent. Now I'll have to try it the bottle.

The Brewski Report Reviews Sam’s Cherry Wheat and Our Vacation Dinner
File Date: 9.6.2011

File Name: Dinner With A Cherry On Top
The Beer: Cherry Wheat
Type: Fruit/Vegetable Beer
Serving: Draft
Stats: 5.3% ABV
Brewer: Boston Beer Co. (Sam Adams)
Web Site:
State/Country of Origin: MA, USA
Brewer Info: Jim Koch founded The Boston Beer Company in 1984 because he believed that Americans deserved better beer. Today, we’re a team of about 350 people, and we all share a common passion for bringing great Samuel Adams® beers to beer lovers everywhere. We’ve worked hard for the many successes we’ve enjoyed over the years. The Boston Beer Company has been cited as one of the best companies to work for by Boston Magazine, one of the Best Entry-Level Jobs by The Princeton Review, and our beers have won more awards than any beer in history.

tbr-cherry-wheat-insertBrewer Brand Hype: Ale brewed with cherries. Crisp and fruity with a hint of honey. Samuel Adams Cherry Wheat® follows the centuries old American tradition of brewing beer with native ingredients, in this case Michigan cherries. The sweet, fruitiness of the cherries is balanced against the crisp, cereal note from the malted wheat and the subtle citrus flavor from the Noble hops.  A touch of honey is also added for sweetness.  The end result is a sweet, refreshing beer that is light on the palate but long on complexity.
Label: Draft – No label to review.

The Brewski Review: Aside from the fact that I love cherries, I couldn’t think of a better combination. And, Sam Adams brewed this beer up right. There is plenty of cherry flavor for those that love this delectable fruit. If this tells you anything, I was the kid that drank the maraschino cherry juice from the jar (My dad was not pleased) so you know I’m hard core. Anyway, when my family and I stopped into a local eatery while out of town on vacation I immediately scanned the beverage menu. One that stood out was this Sam Adams brew – which, by the way, you would think is seasonal due to the harvesting period but is, in fact, brewed year ’round. I requested a bottle but they only had it on tap. Oh well. If the only way to go native was to drink draft, so be it. My wife, who says she loves cherries, didn’t want to taste it. Good. More for me. I paired it up with a nice dinner salad, onion rings and boneless chicken chunks with accompanying dipping sauces. About the only thing detracting from a fabulous meal was my rowdy kids. This usually forces us to drink and eat faster than we’d wish. If we didn’t, we’d be chasing our kids around the restaurant and would be forced to take our food home in a doggie bag (which, would sit in the fridge until it was no longer edible – one day max in our family). Of course, I had to finish the beer. Full of cherry flavor and slightly hoppy – but not too overbearing.  Nicely balanced flavors.  Cold and crisp of course. If you like cherries, you ought to put this one on your list.

Drinkability: Yes. Love the cherry.
Appearance: Cloudy, deep golden color.
The Buds: Tasty cherry flavor.
TBR Cap Rating: 4.25 caps out of 5.

Yum. Michigan Cherries. Is there any better?

Yum. Michigan Cherries. Is there any better?

September 2, 2011

Bitburger Premium and Becoming My Parents 9.2.2011

The Bit in Bitburger stand for Bitter.

The Bit in Bitburger stand for Bitter.

TBR Reviews Bitburger Premium Beer and Turning Into My Parents
File Date: 9.2.2011

 File Name: You Don’t Know What Your Missing
The Beer: Bitburger Premium Beer
Type: German Pilsener
Serving: Bottle
Stats: 4.8% ABV
Brewer: Bitburger Brauerei
Web Site:
State/Country of Origin: Germany
Brewer Info: In 1817 Johann Peter Wallenborn set up a brewery in Bitburg to make top-fermented beer. In 1839 his widow, Anna Katharina, took over the business before her daughter, Elisabeth, married Ludwig Bertrand Simon in 1842 and Simon continued to run the company. In 1871 their 24-year-old son Theobald Simon succeeded his father, investing in the expansion and modernization of the brewery. This included an ice-cooled artificial cellar designed to keep temperatures at the same low level, all the year round, making it possible to brew new bottom-fermented beers. In 1883 Bitburger brewed its first Pils beer. The first Bitburger Export led to activities in nearby Luxembourg, where a representative office was set up in Echternach in 1886.

tbr-bitburger-insertBrewer Brand Hype: Bitburger guarantees premium quality and enjoyment. Drawing on almost 200 years of expertise, the full-bodied, light Bitburger Premium Beer is of course brewed according to the German Purity Law. Its popular, dry-finished, hoppy taste has secured Bitburger Premium Beer its position as Germany’s no. 1 draught beer.
Label: Premium Beer Product of Germany.

The Brewski Review: The BIT in Bitburger may stand for the hefty bitterness  of this hoppy brew in my humble opinion. This one was cold and crisp and ultimately refreshing. Although, it leaves more of an aftertaste than I prefer. Call me a sissy if you will. I’m just not one to seek out really hoppy beverages. Would I drink this one again? Yes. If it was handed to me. Doubt I’d spend money to purchase a six-pack. I tend to favor more balanced flavors. My mother always used to say ‘You don’t know what your missing.’ whenever I turned down a dish at the table (primarily squash – yuck). Yes. I do know what I’m missing. That’s why I don’t eat it. Has anyone else had a mother or father say that? I think it’s ingrained as a parent because now I find myself saying it to my daughter with any food other than chicken dipped in ranch dressing. Drat! I have become my parents. 

Drinkability: Definitely.
Appearance: Golden yellow w/ minimal head.
The Buds: Refreshing but a little on the bitter side.
TBR Cap Rating: 3.75 out of 5 caps.

Using the anonymous girls to sell the brand.

Using the girls to sell the brand.

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