Gator Tail Brown Ale by Miami Brewing Company

I've tasted a few Miami Brewing Company beers at some of the local beer events but I hadn't had their brown ale yet so it was only natural that I tossed a six pack into my cart as I walked down the aisle in my local liquor superstore.

Desperados Beer

I was given a six pack of Desperados beer (along with a bad-ass Coleman cooler). They describe it as “a one-of-a-kind beer blended with tequila barrel-aged lager that delivers a uniquely refreshing and smooth taste. Crafted at the crossroads of beer and spirits techniques, Desperados is the ultimate beer for nightlife and fun, perfect for adult consumers, 21 and older, who are looking for memorable nights out. This distinct Latin-inspired European import beer will launch this month in select retail and onpremise outlets in the Southeast.”

It’s been a long time since I’ve done any brewing of my own and have been talking about getting back into it. While I have some of my gear from back in the day in storage, I’ve been hesitant to lay out the cash to buy the missing pieces or upgrade to better stuff simply because I’ve been afraid I wouldn’t be able to commit the time to go all-in. When the opportunity to try out a Craft-a-Brew brewing kit, I jumped at the opportunity. These kits come with everything that you need to get started with your first batch and cost less than taking the significant other out for a couple of burgers and beers.

When I found out that Shelah from Om Brew Yoga is visiting some of our local breweries and teaching yoga classes, I asked her if she'd like to do a guest review. Hopefully this is just the first of many! Here's what she had to say...

When Mike first approached me to write up a review, I have to admit, I was a bit intimidated. In the craft beer world, I am a baby. A newbie. I have only been a convert for a little over a year and a half and getting me convinced that beer was better than wine (which was my love at the time) was quite a task for my hubby. Happily, I realized that good craft beer would not be the death of me and I embraced this new found passion.

Shelah from Om Brew Yoga, who some of you might recognize from her yoga classes at a few of our local breweries came back for another guest review! Here's what she had to say about Miami Brewing's Big Rod Ale...

Due South Brewing Co. has released "UXO", an American Strong Ale paying homage to Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Technicians that have served in the US Military. UXO is a term EOD Techs use meaning unexploded ordnance.

The beer is a big one, clocking in at 8% ABV (alcohol by volume). At 67 IBU's, it also has plenty of hops. Mike Halker, founder and head brewer at Due South chose to brew this beer for a simple reason - he's a former EOD Tech himself. He served with the 61st EOD out of Fort Sill, OK.

I picked up a New Glarus Back 40 Bock in a trade a little while back. New Glarus Brewing Co. is located in Wisconsin.

The bottle has a simple tan label with all the text and art in a single, dark grey color. On the side is a little paragraph that explains “The ‘Back Forty’ is property commonly found on the outskirts of the Wisconsin family farm. Here uncultivated acres wait prime for adventure- forts, tree houses, rope swings and first kisses! A place to run away, to camp, to climb, to build, to play. Not actually home but not too far away. That’s the Back Forty. The beer you hold is similar both dark and adventurous still smooth and familiar. Here’s a beer you can enjoy without pretense or explanation. Every mind requires some acres of possibility, space for dreams, the great escape, everyone needs a Back Forty.”

Redband by Great River BreweryI acquired a can of Redband by Great River Brewery in a trade for a section of beers from the mid-west. It’s a stout brewed by the Davenport, Iowa based brewery flavored with coffee from the neighboring Redband Coffee Company.

It poured a dark brown/black, just like the stuff that comes out of my car at Jiffy Lube. The head was a nice tan color but only came up about a half-inch in my pint glass and was gone before I knew it.

The aroma was easy to pick up. Coffee, plain and simple. Just like a cup of Joe down at the local coffee chain.

At first sip you notice its silky, creamy texture and the lack of carbonation. The coffee taste hits the tongue right away and is there right through the end. I know this is a “coffee stout” but it was just like taking a sip of espresso, except it was cold and 6% abv.

If you’re an iced coffee lover, you’ll love this beer.

Stone Enjoy By 12-21-12BREAKING NEWS: The Mayans couldn't foresee their own demise let alone ours. Friday, December 21, was the well-hyped apocalyptic day, and in case you're just now emerging from your underground bunker, the end-of-the-world-paranoia was all for naught. Whoever the Mayans hired to create their calendar probably got bored, started drinking some beer (likely a brew similar to Clown Shoe's Chocolate Sombrero), and passed out before finishing the rest of the calendar. Regardless, life has continued and we've all been graced with more time on this earth! So enjoy it, my friends. Life is good.

Following Stone's instructions, I cracked this bottle open last night to avoid the bottle's expiration date of 12.21.12. Stone made it very clear that this is meant to be enjoyed immediately and one should not plan to cellar any for later. As soon as I popped the top, I understood where Stone is coming from. The scents immediately escape the bottle as if it had literally just been brewed and bottled. Indeed, this is one you NEED to enjoy fresh.

This double IPA pours a slightly hazy amber color, which is quite beautiful. There are some amazingly fresh and citrus scents on the nose--very green. Not so much piny as it is citrusy, and I also catch a scent similar to fresh-cut grass.

The earthy, grass-like, scents come through on the flavor, though there's a sweetness that is very unexpected. I am reminded of sugar-covered grapefruits. The flavors are pretty complex. The body is surprisingly heavy with an almost syrup-like mouthfeel that coats the tongue, letting the flavors hang around and linger awhile until you take the next sip.

The front of the palate is hit hard with the freshness of the hops, but then there is an intense wave of sugar, citrus, and malt that complete the taste. It should also be noted that I tasted this with a buddy homebrewer who immediately picked out the Amarillo hops that dominate this beer's flavor profile. This also explains why this is not nearly as bitter as one would expect from a DIPA coming from Stone.

This is a really solid beer. I recommend sharing this with any friends who are turned off by IPAs that are "too bitter." This one is a crowd pleaser. It's also 9.4% which pleases the crowd even more!

So, here's to Stone's Enjoy By and to the world not ending.

Review by @beerapostle www.thebeerapostle.com

It pours a light, bright orange. There's a nice steady stream of carbonation feeding what was initially a 3/4 inch head.

This thing smells sweet, like candy sweet, but not in a bad way. The honey and cinnamon mix so well together, like the honey makes the cinnamon seem more like cinnamon sugar than pure cinnamon. I don't get a ton of the ginger on the nose, but no worries it comes in later. The signature Great Lakes malt backbone only comes in light and late. It smells like the holidays.
Great Lakes Christmas Ale

The ginger really comes on strong in the flavor, and really works well with the honey. They balance each other out, and kind of reminds me of a ginger snap. Really sharp ginger and honey keep going. The honey gives it a latent sweetness that rounds out the spices. The cinnamon is more of an afterthought in the taste, but thats really not a bad thing. The signature malt bill from Great Lakes (to me it feels really grainy--I love it) comes in in the perfect amount. I kind of feel like theres a hint of sweet cranberries as well--I got the same type of flavor from Highland Cold Mountain.

The lingering flavors are glorious. It's just as balanced as the original flavors. Latent dry honey sweetness with a hint of spicy ginger. Like most other Great Lakes beers, the grainy malt feels amazing through the finish. The earthy, grainy malt is the last thing you get as it fights with the spicy ginger until both fade away.

The hype for this beer knows no bounds in Ohio, and I have started that hype here in North Carolina. If any of you have the chance to try this beer, do it. It tastes like the holidays. Oh and good luck trying to actually saving this beer for Christmas. I know that I'm struggling to.

Cheers guys!

Review by Tim Campbell @vncentlife
BeerAdvocate - VncentLIFE

This seasonal Oktoberfest Lager is brewed by Milwaukee’s Lakefront Brewery. I'm really wishing I had made it by there when I was in Milwaukee a couple of years ago but we only had time to hit one brewery and we decided to go to Sprecher (which was a great time & I highly recommend it).

The label has a playful traditional German feel to it and identifies this brew as "A Malty and Full-Bodied Amber Lager Brewed to Celebrate a Successful Harvest." Not that you probably care but it also says that you can get a nickel if you return it in NY, OR, VT or a couple of other states.

It has a amber / caramel color and pours with a tan colored head that's short lived. Sorry I couldn't post a picture but the foam coffee cups that I have available in my hotel aren't that photogenic. There is a sweetness to the malt taste and not much hoppiness at all. The carbonation level isn't that strong. It's not flat but I wouldn't call it "bubbly" either.

Overall, I'd rate this as a solidly decent beer that I could see myself sitting around drinking while watching football on TV.

White Oak Jai Alai – Cigar City I must start off by saying that hype does play a part here. This is white whale of smaller proportions. People go nuts, and I was lucky enough to land a 4-pack thanks to a friend in Boca Raton.

It’s just a monster of a beer. But it’s not super high ABV nor overly flavor-laden, but hear me out here. It’s a pretty standard looking IPA—a bit darker leaning toward amber with a creamy white head.

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