Posted by Jim on Dec 17th, 2009
Dec 17

I’ve created a Twitter account that will be used exclusively for updates related to this blog.  You can follow it by visiting @SoundsInside.  I’ll let my follower’s know when a new post has been published to this site, as well as other interesting tidbits related to The Sounds Inside My Mind.  The most recent update from this account will always be displayed in the sidebar, underneath my main Twitter account’s recent tweets.

Three Reviews from the Weekend

Posted by Jim on Dec 15th, 2009
Dec 15

Here are the three reviews I wrote for the beers I got to try at the Novare Res event held this past weekend.

Sierra Nevada/Dogfish Head Life & Limb

B+ / 3.8
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | drink: 3.5

Reviewed from my tasting notes. Served in my 20oz Uprising Chalice at Novare Res. It pours an incredibly dark ruby color with a thick, tan, foam head. It smells slightly sweet, with an earthiness to the aroma. There are hints of spices and maple. There is a definite sweetness up front in the taste, and it has a dry, alcoholic finish, but the sweetness remains throughout. There are spruce and maple flavors. There is also a hint of coffee bitterness. It’s a very robust flavor. It has a very full body and low carbonation. As for drinkability, it’s a pretty sweet beer–a bit too much for my tastes. Still, I consider this a good beer. I would order it again and would certainly pick up a bottle if I happened across one.

Del Borgo Duchessic

A- / 4.1
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | drink: 4.5

Reviewed from my tasting notes. Served in my 20oz Uprising chalice at Novare Res. This excellent beer pours a peach/orange color. It is slightly cloudy. It is very interesting looking. It has a yeast aroma, along with some citrus. It is a very good fruit smell. The main flavors are of peach and grapefruit. There’s a bit of sourness to the finish. It tasted a bit chalky at first, but as I drank it, this went away. I think the beer may have been too cold at first and as it warmed, this chalkiness went away. The approach to cellar temperature really improved things. It has a medium body with no detectable carbonation or coating. It feels great. The drinkability is equally impressive. This beer has just the right amount of sourness. I’m really glad I got to have this beer!

Mikkeller Black

B / 3.65
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | drink: 3

Reviewed from my tasting notes. Served in my 20oz Uprising chalice. I knew I wanted to try this beer, but I didn’t really know much about it. Russ, my server, described it as “roofing tar with sugar.”

Appropriately, this beer is black like the night. There is a brown foamy head that leaves impressive lacing. There is a coffee bean bitterness to the aroma. It’s malty and robust. I summed up the taste as strong, dark, bitter, alcoholic. That seems to cover it, except for the syrupy sweetness that instantly hits you as you taste the beer. The 17.5% ABV is also very present in the taste; lots of alcohol. It leaves a sugary coating in your mouth. The body is very heavy and has low carbonation. I could only drink one of these in a sitting, and I’ll probably never order one again. It’s a strong, intimidating beer. I probably should have been better prepared for what I ordered and not made it my last beer of the night. Order this one carefully.

There are still a few special beers available at Novare.  If you haven’t stop by yet to try them, do so soon!

It’s a beer nerd Christmas!

Posted by Jim on Dec 11th, 2009
Dec 11

This afternoon, Novare Res opens its doors for a very special event.  They are presenting a line-up of kegs and bottles that the beer drinking public of Portland haven’t seen since…well, since Eric hosted his one year anniversary event at Novare.  Most of the beers on offer are extremely rare, all will be excellent to sample.  I don’t think my wallet will allow me to try as many as I’d like!  Some highlights include bottle pours of Sam Adams Utopias and De Struise Earthmonk; there will also be kegs of Birra Del Borgo Duchessic Ale, Mikkeller Black and Draft Bear, Sierra Nevada/Dogfish Head Life & Limb, Smuttynose Oaked Farmhouse, and a 2006 cask of J.W. Lees Harvest Ale that has been aged in sherry barrels!  I’ve been looking forward to this event since it was announced, and once the beer list was posted, it’s been nearly all I’ve thought about.

For some reasoning behind my excitement, be aware that the SA Utopias is a 27% ABV beverage that is more like cognac than beer and retails for $150+ a bottle.  The Earthmonk is only brewed once every two years and is limited to 5000 bottles; it is highly sought after.  The Duchessic is an Italian saison that has been blended with Cantillon lambic and sounds incredibly delicious.  The two Mikkeller beers are both very difficult to obtain in a bottle; to have kegs of them on hand is unheard of.  One is a black as night stout brewed with champagne yeast; the other is an impressive pilsner.  Although Mikkeller is Danish, both of these beers were brewed in Belgium at the De Proef Brouwerij.  The Life & Limb is the current hype beer in America.  Everyone wants to try it.  No one can find it.  Only four cases of bottles were delivered to Maine, two to RSVP and one each to Whole Foods and Tully’s.  It sold out almost instantly.  This is the first chance most of us will get to have it (and probably the last time until January, when it will be on draft for one night at the Great Lost Bear).  Smutty’s Farmhosue is one of, if not my favorite beer they produce.  Having an oaked variety available is like seeing your favorite band perform your favorite album in concert; it won’t be exactly the same as you remember it, but it will be a great experience.  Lastly, JW Lees Sherry is a close cousin to the JW Lees Port, perhaps my favorite beer of all time.  To walk into Novare tonight and not order it should be criminal. [Yes, I believe that, even with all of the other great beers available.  That’s why we have Home Runners.]

The full list of beers, as well as other details, are available at the Novare Res website.

It also won a gold medal

Posted by Jim on Dec 9th, 2009
Dec 9

Pabst Blue Ribbon

B- / 3.3
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | drink: 4.5

This award-winning beer has been poured form a chilled bottle into a 12oz “pint” glass. The beer is a very clear straw color, with a good sized white foam head that dissipated quickly. There are plenty of carbonation bubbles rising up in the glass. This aroma is a yeast and some grain, probably corn. The taste is typical of the style, with plenty of sweet corn grain and other malts; the hops a non-existent to the point that the brewer may have forgot to include them. Although the carbonation is above average, it doesn’t affect the mouthfeel negatively. There is a bit of coating and stickiness from the high sugar content, but it isn’t too bad. I find PBR to be exceptionally drinkable, if I am in the mood for it. I don’t get tired of it and usually only need to cut myself off when I know it’s time to prevent a hangover. This is my go-to beverage when I’m out on the town and don’t feel like spending much money. There is something reassuring knowing I can get a 16oz tall boy at nearly any bar in town; thanks hipsters!

Award information via the packaging and Wikipedia

21rst at 76

Posted by Jim on Dec 4th, 2009
Dec 4

Tomorrow is Repeal Day, the 76th anniversary of the ratification of the 21rst amendment, which repealed the 18th and made alcohol legal once again!  One way I’m honoring that great act is by buying and consuming some exceptional beers.

I made a trip to Downeast Beverage yesterday afternoon, whilst waiting for 4 pm to roll around and for Novare Res to open its doors.  I really shouldn’t go here alone, especially with a fat wallet, as I always see so many beers I want to purchase, and I usually end up buying most of what I want.  I limited myself to four bottles, all of which look to be exceptional.  I picked up a 750 ml of Fantome Noel, which is the third different Fantome selection I’ve added to my cellar since the fall.  It’s such a great brewery, I feel really lucky that I am able to find so many different Fantome products in Maine.

I also bought myself a bottle of Weyerbacher XIII, their anniversary beer from 2008.  I already had a bottle of the Twelve and the fourteen should still be on store shelves; once I pick one up, I’ll have a bit of a vertical going.  That’s pretty exciting!

Lastly, I bought two 12 oz bottles of J.W. Lees Harvest Ale.  One is from 2007, which I’ll save until 2017 so Nissa and I can drink it on our tenth wedding anniversary.  The other bottle is the port cask aged variety and it dates from 2005.  This is my favorite style of the cask aged series.  I’ll probably drink it soon, maybe for Christmas or New Years.

Tomorrow, on Repeal Day, Nissa and I will be traveling to a home in Biddeford to take part in the first meeting of the Southern Maine Beer Drinkers Group, a collection of beer enthusiasts who met on Beer Advocate.  There will be some exceptional beers on offer tomorrow.  I’ll do a full write up of what I got try after the meeting.

Finally, tonight is the First Friday Art Walk in Portland.  I’ll be headed out to the Two Point Gallery to meet the folks behind Rum Riot Brewing Company.  There isn’t much information on this group (at least not that I could find), but apparently they only offer there beers in two ways: on draught at a specific gallery on First Friday or in a bottle/growler by contacting the brewery directly.  I hope that their beer is good, as I’d love to think I’ve discovered a new source of excellent beer from right here in the Portland area.  If you get a chance, make your way to 564 Congress at 5pm and join me for a beer you most likely have never tried before.  Plus, it’s free!

Winter Changes

Posted by Jim on Dec 1st, 2009
Dec 1

I decided to update my desktop picture today to reflect the change of the season.  What do you think?

Winter '09-'10 Desktop

The picture is a piece of original digital art by my friend Steven Albert.  It a background from the animated film Balto, which Steven worked on.

In case you are curious, the icons in my menu bar represent Meteorologist, Adium (with the 1Up menu bar icon xtra), GrowlTunes, Library Books, iScrobbler, Spaces, Time Machine, Bluetooth, AirPort, Battery, iStat Menus Time & Date and Spotlight.

My dock has Finder, Safari, Firefox, Adium (with a Darth Vader icon xtra that doesn’t appear to be available any more), iChat, Mail, Tweetdeck, Address Book, Stickies, NeoOffice, OpenOffice.org, Text Wrangler, Text Edit, iTunes, FrostWire, Transmission, CyberDuck, iPhoto, System Preferences, Terminal, Activity Monitor, Console, Network Utility, AirPort Utility, Disk Utility, my downloads folder and the Trash.