Beer and Pavement

The Neglected Beer Blog

Posted in Beer by SM on March 16, 2011

A beer blog this is not, but I do post about beer all the time. That is, when I post. After the True/False onslaught and a weekend of strep and pink eye in the house, I have fallen behind. This blog is supposed to be about beer and music. Here’s the beer post for the week with a music post to follow. There’s no time for footnotes. Just bear with me.

Folks have been all over the black IPA trend. No one is obsessed with it the way folks drive all over the globe for sours or barrel-aged beers, but they’re into the Cascadian dark ale enough to send the message to every craft brewer that they need a black IPA. It’s easy to taste why. The black IPA/Cascadian dark ale has the best of both worlds. There’s the sweet maltiness of stouts and bocks mixed with the floral bitterness of your favorite IPA. It’s a rather versatile beer for pairings and is naturally balanced.

I brewed one of these beers and named it after the seminal indie/math rock band Big Black. IPA’s of all colors are bitter, so I tend to call the style “black bitter.” All this adds up to the name of my beer: Big Black Bitter.

Originally, I had planned to design a label to print at Kinkos, but I wanted to save money while labeling my beers over the long haul and went with a rubber stamp and labels. You can see the results below.

Look at the head on that mother.

How is the beer? Well, it has a pretty incredible head. There’s no need for an aggressive pour. The lacing is wet and almost foamy, not sticky. The sent is a cacophony of citrus and grassy hops with a touch of the roasted malty goodness. However, there’s something not quite right. I’m chalking it up to the Amarillo hops as the same aroma is in another beer I did with loads of Amarillo. I thought I liked this hop, but I’m beginning to discover that it’s not my favorite.

Anyway, I tasted the bugger. Bitter roastiness dominates with a touch of citrus to finish it off. As it ages (which is days and weeks in an IPA’s lifespan), the bitterness grows, making this a beer true to its name. Luckily, the sweetness provided by the malt balances the beer out. There isn’t much in the way of mouthfeel, which is typical for an extract homebrew. It’s something I can live with. There’s a little heat, but not too much.

Overall, the beer is a success. It’s not as mind-blowing as I had hoped, but this style rarely is. What it does do, once again, is live up to its name. It’s black and bitter. It looks good in a glass and feels good going down. In the end, that’s all that matters.


Soon, my favorite brewery will makes its way to Missouri. Stone has hinted before that they’re coming to the Show-Me state, but has backed out on that promise. Apparently, it’s hard to get a foot in the door in this state. It’s as if some conglomerate, industrialized rice-adjunct beer maker owns property here (hint: ANHEUSER BUSCH). Whatever. Stone is finally coming to Missouri.

Of course, I’ve had a pipeline to Stone’s product for some time. My family all live in Ohio where Stone is readily available. My brother recently grabbed me the 2011 Old Guardian Barley Wine as well as the new Belgo version. Plus, he grabbed me the beer Stone collaborated with Green Flash and Pizza Port Carlsbad breweries, Highway 78 Scotch Ale.

Good, not great scotch ale.

Typically, the Stone collabs are pretty amazing. This one was really good, but somewhat ordinary. I don’t know whether the style has limitations or the breweries just tried to make a really good scotch ale. The ABV isn’t high, which suggests they didn’t press the limits with this brew. Plus, there’s nothing extra going on here. It’s just a really solid scotch ale. I have no complaints, but I was hoping for something more. At least I won’t have to wait for my mother to deliver me Stone anymore.

Speaking of new beer arrivals in MO…

Half a flight and plate of fries to go.

Favorite beer nerd local Sycamore celebrated the arrival of another Southern Cal brewery, Firestoen Walker, with a tasting event. They didn’t get the free glasses promised, but the beer arrived. A flight of 5 oz. samples of FW beers cost $14. That and a plate of fries for my daughter and I made a nice pre-dinner session. The beers in the flight were consumed in the following order.

  1. Double Jack IPA – Grapefruity and balanced, this IPA might have ruined my taste buds for the rest of the evening and I was thankful. Seriously, though, this is as good an IPA as you’ll find. We now get several of the great IPA’s from the west coast. If we could only get all of them…
  2. Reserve Porter – I don’t know whether it was the fact that I drank the IPA first or this is just your typical, run of the mill porter, but I was not impressed. Sure, it was smooth, clean even, but I like my porters to taste like…well…imperial stouts. So, that might be a me problem and not a Firestone Walker problem.
  3. Abacus – Ah, barley wine brewed in bourbon barrels. You really can’t beat that. All kinds of dark fruits and booze runneth wild over my tongue. I wanted to make sweet love to that beer, but my daughter was present and there was only 5 ounces in the glass.
  4. Anniversary 14 – Of course, then I met Anni. Man, what a mouthful this beer was. More bourbon barrel goodness only in the form of a strong dark ale. Tons of molasses, fig, vanilla…It was maybe the only beer that could follow Abacus, yet it was so smooth and tasty.

I’m really looking forward to more from Firestone Walker and Stone in the coming months. For now, I’ll have to settle for the Double Jack I purchased at the Hy-Vee yesterday and my Old Guardians. Oh, and I still have loads of that homebrew.


7 Responses

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  1. jeffmenter said, on March 16, 2011 at 10:42 am

    Great post. Want to try your beer.

    • builderofcoalitions said, on March 16, 2011 at 10:57 am

      Whenever you want to come over, there’s beer. R is out of town, so I have the kid on my own until Saturday.

  2. Pizza Cottontail said, on March 16, 2011 at 11:14 am

    What’s the Treble Kicker on your homebrew logo? It’s a good name…was that the original name for the BIPA?

  3. Steve said, on March 16, 2011 at 11:40 am

    Well, I’m thirsty now.

    I’ll keep an eye out for Black IPAs, as they sound like my kind of beer. I know the Kernel Brewery ( does one, and I enjoyed their standard IPA. If I can get hold of one I will be sure to report back!

  4. GE said, on March 16, 2011 at 11:42 am

    Hey Zac-
    I’d love to read more about your homebrewing. Are there more posts about it? My first batch in the fermentor right now. An American IPA, natch. Can’t wait…

    • builderofcoalitions said, on March 17, 2011 at 10:13 am

      Hey, Greg! Thanks for stopping by! I do have more homebrewing posts. You may have to look around a bit. Plus, I did some HB posts on my old beer blog, Bottles & Cans.

      Are you doing all-grain or extract brewing?

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