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

August 25, 2013

Blue Moon’s Valencia Grove Amber Ale Beer Review 8.25.2013

Blue Moon's Valencia Grove Amber Ale

Blue Moon’s Valencia Grove Amber Ale

TBR Reports on Blue Moon’s Valencia Grove Amber Ale
File Date: 8.25.2013

File Name: Wife Expands Horizons
The Beer: Valencia Grove Amber
Type: American Amber/Red Ale
Serving: Bottle
Stats: 5.9% ABV
Brewer: Blue Moon Brewery/Coors Brewing Co.
Web Site:
State/Country of Origin: CO, USA
Brewer Info: We started Blue Moon and began brewing our first beers back in 1995 at the Sandlot in Denver, Colorado. The goal was to create uniquely-flavored, highly-drinkable, handcrafted beers. (And, of course, have a little fun along the way.) Well, it didn’t take long to strike gold. One of our first creations, Belgian White, made an immediate splash at the World Beer Championships 3 years in a row. More than a decade later, word has started getting around. But otherwise, not much has changed. Still just a bunch of friends having making great beer. What’s not to love about that?

Brewer Brand Hype: The First Sign of Spring. Maybe it’s not time to shed that winter coat just yet, but we’re hoping this beer gets you one step closer. Valencia Grove Amber is for all those in-between days when you try to coax spring out by wearing short sleeves or flip-flops. You’re still cold. We get it. Cozy up with roasted malts, Valencia orange peel, and a touch of wheat for a hint of citrus that’s ripe for the season.
Label: Seasonal Collection. This copper colored ale is crafted with roasted malts, Valencia orange peel and a touch of wheat for a smooth taste with notes of citrus. Our Valencia Grove Amber is crafted with roasted malts, Valencia orange peel and a touch of wheat for an uplifting orange, caramel aroma. It’s the advantage of the season.

The Brewski Review: My wife was shopping a couple weeks ago and picked up a six of Blue Moon’s Valencia Grove Amber ale. She had a hankering for a beer and thought this would be good. This is strange twist because she normally drinks Bud Lime when the warm days are long, but, it’s nice to know she’s not boxed in by her habits. The one I pulled out was the sixth soldier so I thought I better put pen to paper (or, fingers to keyboard) to share my thoughts. On the pour the head is a nice, tight cream colored foam and pours a beautiful copper color. There is a little sweetness to the taste but not overwhelming. There is a nice balance between the hops and malts so there is no lingering bitterness on the finish. Overall, a good brew and definitely worth a try when the sun is high and hot and the bottle is cold and wet.

Drinkability: Yes. Would drink again.
Appearance: Rich copper color with abundant head.
The Buds: Great balance and mild taste.
TBR Cap Rating: 3.5 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.

June 26, 2011

Red Seal Ale or Notes: Which is Better? 6.26.11

Northcoast's Red Seal Ale

Northcoast's Red Seal Ale with spillage.

The Brewski Report Reviews North Coast’s Red Seal Ale
File Date: 6.26.2011

File Name: Red Seal Beer or Notes, You Choose.
The Beer: Ruedrich’s Red Seal Ale
Type: American Amber/Red Ale
Serving: Bottle
Stats: 5.5% ABV
Brewer: North Coast Brewing Co.
Web Site:
State/Country of Origin: CA, USA
Brewer Info: A pioneer in the craft beer movement, North Coast Brewing Company opened in 1988 as a local brewpub in the historic town of Fort Bragg, located on California’s Mendocino Coast. Under the leadership of Brewmaster Mark Ruedrich, the brewery has developed a strong reputation for quality having won more than 70 awards in national and international competitions. In addition to Red Seal Ale, Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout, Scrimshaw Pilsner, and other fine North Coast brands, the brewery has resurrected the old Acme label with a heritage dating back to the San Francisco of the 1860’s. These exceptional beers are available in 47 states now and also are exported to Europe and the Pacific Rim.

tbr-nc-logoBrewer Brand Hype: Malt and hops are beautifully married in this full-bodied, copper-red Pale Ale. Red Seal is generously hopped for a long, spicy finish. An excellent accompaniment to grilled meats and rich sauces.
Label: Brewed in Mendocino County, California. Water, Malted Barley, Hops, Yeast & That’s all. Malt & hops are beautifully married in this copper-red pale ale. Generously hopped for a long spicy denouement.

The Brewski Review: Nice tasting American Amber/Red ale. Hoppy and slightly bitter but not too overwhelming. Nice blend of malts and hops. Very foamy head on the pour. I give it a Brewski thumbs up. Of course, given the chance, I’d rather have another type of red seal as pictured below. Alot of those would set me up pretty well.

Drinkability: Yes. Tasty.
Appearance: Nice copper color. Large head
The Buds: Good balance of hops and malts.
TBR Cap Rating: 4.0 out of 5 caps.

A red seal of another kind and not to be confused with the Northcoast variety.

A red seal of another kind and not to be confused with the Northcoast variety.

November 25, 2010

Fort Collins Brewery’s Retro Read Ale Beer Review 11.25.10

Fill up the little red wagon full of Retro Red please.

Fill up the little red wagon full of Retro Red please.

The Brewski Report Reviews Fort Collins’ Retro Red Ale
File Date: 11.25.2010

File Name: Hun, Would You Please Pull The Tree Out Of The Closet?
The Beer: Retro Red 
Type: American Amber/Red Ale
Serving: Bottle
Stats: 5.2% ABV
Brewer: Fort Collins Brewery
Web Site:
State/Country of Origin: CO, USA
Brewer Info: No relevant information about the brewery is noted.

tbr-retro-red-labelBrewer Brand Hype: This banchee of a red ale is a looker and a taster. English crystal malts create a toasty, nutty flavor and medium body as Tettnang hops produce an assertive yet balanced hop presence. Retro Red is a treat for you taste-buds as well as your eyes.
Label: A Classic Red Ale. This banchee of a red ale is a looker and a taster. Take time to enjoy the confident hop character, rich malt profile and glowing ruby color. This red ale is a treat for your taste-buds as well as  your eyes.

The Brewski Review: Hearty beverage. Dark ruby brown in color. Not much head at the pour. Nice malt flavor. Popped one open while pulling out the X-Mas tree on Thanksgiving day. Which, by the way, is not as much fun for me as it is for others I’m sure. I once saw a home showcased on a home improvement TV series that had a double door closet reserved just for the owners Christmas Tree. What at great idea I thought – if you have the room to spare. Decorate the tree once then just move it in and out of the closet once a year. Where’s the fun in that? Just think of all the extra beers you could be drinking if your spouse wasn’t nagging you about setting up the holiday decorations. Sure, you’d have a few outdoor lights to hang but there’s beer for that as well. I’m all about saving time and energy. Someday maybe I’ll have that double door Christmas Tree closet. A man can dream can’t he?

Drinkability: Sure. Would drink again.
Appearance: Dark ruby brown color.
The Buds: Nice hearty malt flavor.
TBR Cap Rating: 4.25 out of 5 caps.

June 1, 2010

Anheuser-Busch’s American Ale Beer Review 6.1.10

American Ale in all it's glory.

American Ale in all it's glory.

The Brewski Report Reviews Anheuser-Busch’s American Ale
File Date: 6.1.10

File Name: Would you like some beer with that smoke?
The Beer: American Ale
Type: American Amber/Red Ale
Serving: Bottle
Stats: 5.3% ABV
Brewer: Anheuser-Busch, Inc.
Web Site:
Country of Origin: MO, USA
Brewer Info: Anheuser-Busch traces its origins back to the Bavarian brewery, which was established in 1852. Eberhard Anheuser acquired the Bavarian brewery in 1860 and renamed it E. Anheuser & Co. In 1864, his son-in-law, Adolphus Busch, joined the company that would later become Anheuser-Busch. While the company’s early years were demanding, Adolphus Busch proved up to the challenge. His keen vision, bold initiative, marketing savvy and passionate commitment to quality were his legacy to those who followed, and the high standards he established have been adhered to by each succeeding generation. Today, Anheuser-Busch produces the two best-selling beers in the world, Budweiser and Bud Light, and operates 12 breweries in the United States.

tbr-amer-ale-logo1Brewer Brand Hype: American-style amber ale. Budweiser American Ale has a robust taste that’s full-bodied, but not too heavy or too bitter. Carefully brewed with the highest quality American ingredients, this rich, amber-colored, all- malt ale delivers a satisfying bold taste with a bright hoppy finish. It’s an ale that’s distinctly American in character. Initial citrus and slight green hop aromas in the nose from the Cascade dry hop are balanced by caramel and slight toasted malt flavor and aromas. Balanced and full-bodied but not overpowering, with a savory finish. Brewed with caramel malted barley for a beautiful, rich amber color and sweet malt character and dry-hopped with Cascade hops from the Pacific Northwest for a noticeably citrus aroma, Budweiser American Ale achieves the perfect balance of rounded malt and hop flavor. 
Label: Budweiser American Ale defines a new style of ale – The American Ale – created by Anheuser-Busch brewmasters to deliver robust ale taste that’s full-bodied, but not too heavy nor too bitter. Carefully brewed with barley from America’s Heartland and Cascade Hops from the Pacifc Northwest, this rich, ambered-colored ale has robust flavor and a distinctive, hoppy finish.

The Brewski Review: I thought I’d try out a new restaurant today while out on the road.  It was tucked back off the main road with a red awning that said Sports.  Beer.  Food. and a few other key words to catch a guys attention.  We walked in, a coworker and myself, and were quite surprised by how few people were inside and how much cigarette smoke clogged the air.  (A Smoke-ateria I like to call it.) These patrons, about 8 old dudes in their 60’s and 70’s must have been huffing and puffing like they were all going on the wagon the next day.  I think the bargirls must be smokers as well since no one made an effort to turn on the ventilation system.  Let it be known, I’m no fan of smokers. I don’t judge people who smoke but at the same time, I don’t want to smell it just because you like to do it.  Needless to say, we down a quick beer and hit the road. We glanced at the menu but, frankly, I don’t think I would have been able to enjoy eating anything. The worst part is, from just my short time inside my clothes reaked.  Arrrg!  Anyway, the beer I downed was a Budweiser American Ale. If I was a beer snob and tried to detect all the suble aromas I would be hard pressed considering the environment. Good thing I’m not one of those guys.  I liked this brew.  Rather hoppy but it wasn’t too bitter and had minimal aftertaste. Decent beverage for an industrial brewer. Winter would be a good time to enjoy this beverage. Although it wasn’t heavy it was nonetheless a richer, fuller brew.

Drinkability: Would drink it again – maybe in the fall or winter.
Appearance: No glass this time around.
The Buds: Good. Hoppy tasting with mild bitterness.
TBR Cap Rating: 4.0 out of 5.

Isn't this a great logo? Anheuser-Busch has never skimped on Marketing their brands.

Isn't this a great logo? Anheuser-Busch has never skimped on Marketing their brands.

March 25, 2010

New Belgium Brewing’s Fat Tire Ale Review 3.25.10

Fat Tire Draft Drinkware of Choice.

Fat Tire Draft Drinkware of Choice.

The Brewski Report Reviews New Belgium Brewing’s Fat Tire Ale and Eating Road Food for a Living.
File Date: 3.25.2010

File Name: Free Doesn’t Always Equate To Wise Choice.
The Beer: Fat Tire
Type: American Amber/Red Ale
Serving: Draft
Stats: 5.2% ABV
Brewer: New Belgium Brewing Company
Web Site:
Country of Origin: CO, USA
Brewer Info: As our aspiring young homebrewer rides his mountain bike with “fat tires” through European villages famous for beer, New Belgium Brewing Company was but a glimmer in his eye. Or basement. For Jeff Lebesch would return to Fort Collins with a handful of ingredients and an imagination full of recipes. And then there was beer. Jeff’s first two basement-brewed creations? A brown dubbel with earthy undertones named Abbey and a remarkably well-balanced amber he named Fat Tire. To say the rest was history would be to overlook his wife’s involvement. Kim Jordan was New Belgium’s first bottler, sales rep, distributor, marketer and financial planner.  And now, she’s our CEO. The other side of the New Belgium story isn’t as romantic as bicycling through Europe, but it gives testament to our dedication and hard work. And it goes like this: Jeff, an electrical engineer by day and tinkerer by nature, builds a homebrewing kit in his basement out of repurposed dairy equipment. His Belgian inspired brews garnered enough praise from friends and neighbors that Jeff and Kim take their basement brewery commercial in 1991.

tbr-fat-tire-logo-insertBrewer Brand Hype: Named in honor of our founder Jeff’s bike trip through Belgium, Fat Tire Amber Ale marks a turning point in the young electrical engineer’s home brewing. Belgian beers use a far broader palette of ingredients (fruits, spices, esoteric yeast strains) than German or English styles. Jeff found the Belgian approach freeing. Upon his return, Jeff created Fat Tire and Abbey Belgian Ale, (assuming Abbey would be his big gun). He and his wife, Kim traveled around sampling their homebrews to the public. Fat Tire’s appeal quickly became evident. People liked everything about it. Except the name. Fat Tire won fans with its sense of balance: toasty, biscuit-like malt flavors coasting in equilibrium with hoppy freshness.
Label: Tried this one as a draft beer.  No bottle to read while I drink.

The Brewski Review: Drank this one on a business road trip.  The glass was tall and the beer was cold.  It was good.  Being sent out on the road can have it’s advantages.  Food and beverages paid for by the company.  A great deal if you like to eat out.  But, unlike others, I try not to eat out much.  Eating road food for 3 or 4 days in a row becomes quite unappealing. No matter how healthy its claim, I always feel as though I’m doing more damage to my body than good.  Couple this with my low salt diet and only then you can understand my quandry: eat like a rabbit or eat tasty food laced with two times the DRA of calories and sodium. I can also keep this in perspective by considering truck drivers and other individuals who don’t stray too far from the interstate system or have time to seek healthier alternatives than gas station food.  Yikes!  It’s even more challenging for them to keep their arteries from clogging. Slice it anyway you want, I could never be a road warrier.  Night after night of late night dinner and drinks is not something I could physically do for extended periods of time. So, I give a thumbs up to anyone who can manage this feat.  You have a much stronger constitution than myself.  And, what a perfect segway from talking road stories and business travel than drinking a beer called Fat Tire. Fat Tire was a little sweet to my palate but I like that.  Overall, it was good with just the hint of bitterness.  Give this one a try all you legions of road soldiers.  I think you’ll like it.  Keep the tires fat and not your gut: eat smart and drink in moderation (but not while driving).

Drinkability:  Enjoyed this one.
Appearance: Pale Amber.
The Buds: Sweet. Mildly bitter.
TBR Cap Rating: 4.25 out of 5.

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