GF Beers


Gear Patrol offers an overview of the best Gluten Free beers.

I just went to the Harvester pub and sampled a few of these and bought Josh the IPA No. 2. So perhaps some tasting notes from us will be coming soon*.

*Soon is a very relative term.
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Beer Powered Beer

Alaska Brewing Company touts their reuse of brewing ingredients as a process that is both co-friendly and cost-effective.

Beer Powered Beer

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202 Beers

Core77 has the details on a visual guide to 202 beers set up like a Pantone color swatch.


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Teaching you a lot about beer

Date: September 16, 2011
Location: Josh’s house
Present: Josh Berezin, Mike Merrill



102/1000: Anchor Small from Anchor Brewing
JB: “Small.” I remember Anchor refers to this beer as coming out of some very old tradition, but no one else makes one now.
MM: They could call it anything they want, since they’re the only ones making it. “The tradition of brewing two distinct beers from one mash has existed for thousands of years.”
JB: Thousands!
MM: “And for centuries, the term ‘small beer’ was used to describe the lighter, and weaker second beer.”
JB: But we won’t tell you what it was called before that.
MM: The first beer that they make with the mash is the Old Foghorn Barleywine Style Ale.
JB: So, something really strong.
MM: Yeah. “Anchor Small Beer is our attempt to duplicate the ‘small’ beers of old by sparging that same mash.” Do you want to know what sparging is?
JB: I’m not sure I do.
MM: I’m going to tell you anyway. “Sparging is sprinkling warm water over the warm mash after the first wort has run off.”
JB: Yeah, I didn’t want to know that.
MM: They’re teaching you a lot about beers in this very short description.
JB: Aren’t they America’s oldest microbrewer?
MM: Yeah, they make a bunch of spirits, too. Old Portero whiskey, I think? And they do a gin or a rum as well.
JB: Well, what do you think?
MM: For all of its wonderful descriptions, great bottle size and shape, it’s a pretty uninteresting beer.
JB: I disagree. I don’t find it uninteresting, but I don’t find it delicious.
MM: When I drink it, it barely even tastes like beer.
JB: But it has an aftertaste that really hangs around, and now that I know it’s from a barleywine base, I detect that. This isn’t one I’d buy again. I do like Anchor Steam quite a bit.
MM: I think it’s a good idea for them, since they have that first wort around, they might as well use it.
JB: They’re the original recyclers.
MM: But the concept is stronger than the beer.

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I wonder what kind of beer that is?

President Barack Obama offers a toast to Dakota Meyer on the patio outside of the Oval Office, Sept. 14, 2011. The President presented Meyer with the Medal of Honor Sept. 15, 2011, during a ceremony at the White House.

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Will you ever drink this beer again?

Date: August 18, 2011
Location: Saraveza
Present: Josh Berezin, Mike Merrill


JB: Ooh, they have Racer X on tap today. Oh, wait, it’s “Racer IV” from Bear Republic. It’s an IPA. I won’t get that, cause you won’t like it.
MM: What is with the obsession with hops?
JB: It’s not an obsession!
MM What is it, then?
JB: It’s a preference.
MM: No,  it’s a macho beer maker bullshit thing. It’s like how big your balls are.
JB: IPA is a pretty mainstream style of beer.
MM: I agree, and there are some that I like, but the trend and obsession is with pushing that. To the undrinkable.
JB: Okay, for instance, the Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA is undrinkable and that’s a pretty high profile beer.
MM: Is there a 60- and a 90-minute?
JB: Yes, and the 60-minute is amazing.
MM: And the 90?
JB: The 90 is an adventure. It’s not undrinkable. Well, now I have to order this IPA.
MM: And I also know what I’m getting.
JB: Oh, you’re getting the Lambic! Your sour obsession. This actually qualifies more as an obsession.
MM: But it is not the prevalent trend. It is more of a fad.

99/1000: Racer IV from Bear Republic

MM: Have we done this one before?
JB: No, why do you ask?
MM: Well, it tastes and smells familiar. This is good, though.
JB: So, what are we supposed to say about this? Notes of leather and burnt wood?
MM: “Fenty.” I feel like this a solidly unremarkable beer.
JB: I was going to say something along the same lines. That it was a good drinker’s drinking beer.
MM: Though I do have this thing with IPAs where I think a pint is too much. By the end, I’m not interested any more. I like a glass of beer.
JB: Well, luckily you’re splitting this one with me.

100/1000: Brouwerij Keersmaeker “Mort Subite Blanche” White Lambic

MM: Let’s switch gears. Well. What a ridiculous glass for beer.
JB: Allow me to sip from this vessel.
MM: In a room full of beards and plaid shirts, don’t serve my beer in a wine glass even if that’s the appropriate way.
JB: I’ll hold it by the stem.
MM: Yeah, don’t warm it up.
JB: Wow. It has all the indicators of a sweet candy but then it has no sweetness when you drink it.
MM: Quaker peaches and cream oatmeal is the smell. But then it’s empty… You think it’s going to get more intense then it fades. That makes it better, actually. If it got sweeter, it wouldn’t be good. And the finish at the very end is woody, oaky, dry. It’s not sweet at all.
JB: But it’s not dry, exactly. Not like a wine is dry.
MM: The finish is almost flavorless.
JB: I don’t understand this beer. I don’t know what it’s for.
MM: I feel like you’ve said that before about lambics, but in this case I agree with you.
JB: With other Lambics, I’m starting to understand. They’re for savoring. But this isn’t.
MM: I could see this being good wth tobacco. With a cigar.

101/1000: Deschutes XXIII Double Anniversary Porter

MM: I can’t believe that this was the style of beer that turned me on to beer.
JB: This is intense beer.
MM: Yeah. I don’t like the aftertaste at all.
JB. Really high alcohol. Sweet. Caramel. Chalky.
MM: But the finish tastes like gasoline.  It would be funny to buy a round for everyone of a beer that everyone wouldn’t like. Not that this beer is that.  But you go in and buy a round, you don’t expect it to be the Double Anniversary Porter.

JB: Will you ever drink this beer again?
MM: No, but it makes me want to try the regular Deschutes Porter again.
JB: I’ve had it recently, It’s totally different from this. It’s nowhere near as sweet.
MM: I wonder why they did that.

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The Sourness

Date: February 19, 2011
Location: Cascade Brewing Barrel House, 939 SE Belmont Street
Present: Josh Berezin, Mike Merrill


JB: New brewery to us, and we’re jumping right in with their “live from the barrel” beers.
MM: Those are actual holes in the barrels, that’s not a gimmick.
JB: Yeah, I was figuring they’re not under carbonation and pressure. I’m going to take a picture of the keg.

97/1000: Cherry Gold Yeller
MM: I think I’m going to like this one. “We’re blended in some straight 2010 sour pie cherry beer to give this a little fruit to ponder as you sip.”
JB: You were telling me that this was a specialty sour beer place?
MM: I think they only make sour beers.
JB: That’s basically unheard of for a brewpub. Well, let’s taste this thing.
MM: Just smell it! It makes my mouth water!
JB: Well, not for me. I’m not addicted to sour beers the way you are.
MM: It’s so much like a drinking vinegar, if you like those. Man, this is the best beer I’ve had this year.
JB: What’s the best beer I’ve had this year? We haven’t 1000 beered any of them, but the CDA or Black IPA style beers are what I’ve enjoyed most so far in 2011. Tell me why this stands out for you.
MM: I think I’ve realized I don’t like really hoppy beers, and this is not hoppy.
JB: It’s more than not hoppy, PBR’s not hoppy.
MM: But that brings it into a zone where I might like it, and the sourness is what I really like.
JB: It seems like if sour beers were more widely available, you’d have them at home all the time.
MM: I sometimes buy the one sour beer from the store near my house, actually. But you can’t get six packs, you can’t hit just any old corner store… You know, the thing that disturbs me about sour beers, it’s kind of the Linux of beers. You get the tie-dyed, bearded vibe. There’s an especially nerdy cultural element to it.
JB: Again, if it were mainstream, it would solve both the access problem and the cultural barrier.
MM: You like but don’t love a sour beer?
JB: I wouldn’t even go that far. I don’t think I’d ever choose to have one. Maybe it’s just that I don’t associate it with the flavor of beer. And I like beer, a really wide range of beers. But this doesn’t say “beer” to me.

98/1000: Straight Red
MM: “A single barrel from the blenders.” What does that mean? Who are the blenders? Oh, I like this: “Deep rich fruit. Tart dark cherries on the palate. No fruit was used in the making of this beer.” Wait, is this a “glass”? $5.50?
JB: Yeah. You’ve got expensive taste. It is hard to believe no fruit was used, having tasted it.
MM: It’s not as sour. I don’t get the “lingering burn” they promised. I feel like you could lie to someone and say you got some new crazy wine, and they would drink this and believe you.
JB: That’s what I mean, I don’t know where in my brain to fit these beers. It’s not refreshing, but it’s not for sipping either. It’s got a complex flavor. Honey and caramel and fruit and —
MM: Why would it not be for sipping, then? I think of it is as something you’d drink while you sit in your robe by the fire, reading Moby Dick with your dog at your feet. It’s the brandy of beers.
JB: I’ll give that a try.
MM: We’ll try to find a golden retriever for you to borrow.

JB: I don’t know why I’m so sensitive to the context. I think I’m just now fully experiencing the taste of it. There’s so much going on.
MM: You don’t look like you like it. Just based on your expression.
JB: I’m not going to argue that point.
MM: I would choose this every time I had the option.

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Birthday Edition

Date: May 17, 2010
Location: Mike’s house
Present: Steve Schroeder, Mike Merrill, Curt Merrill, George Wietor, Josh Berezin

JB: It’s a special edition.
MM: It’s true, birthday edition!
JR: And special G-rad guest edition.
GW: Goodbye edition.
MM: And it’s Calvin’s first 1000 beers! And Josh’s last.
JB: I’m passing the torch.
MM: Okay, which one’s first?
JB: The small one.
MM: Founders Brewing.
JB: With an apostrophe?
MM: No, but it seems like there is a capital S.
JB: That is just for symmetry.
JR: We have found that bad graphic design does not indicate a bad beer.
SS: It’s usually better!
MM: It claims to have started in 1997.
JB: What’s the actual beer name and type?
MM: Dirty Bastard. Scotch-style Ale. George, do you want to say anything about this beer?
GW: This is from a brewery that’s a 10-minute walk from my house. This beer has been on a train, unrefrigerated, for several days. It is not my favorite of this brewery’s beer. But it is their flagship beer. And Curt has rated it quite highly before.
CM: After Mike and I did our blogging tour, I hosted a beer tasting, and this was the highest rated. But Mike did not get to try it.
GW: I don’t know why I didn’t think, of this, but I could have brought a mix-n-match six-pack.
JB: Let’s taste.
GW: What are we supposed to say?
JB: There are no rules.
MM: I wonder if the fact that I’m drinking it out of a coffee cup is influencing how I feel about this beer.
JR: You like coffee, so you might like it more.
CM: It’s dark, but not bitter, and kind of sweet.
GW: They make a “Kentucky Breakfast Stout” beer… They have a maple-aged beer, they have beers aged in bourbon barrels. They are experimenting a lot right now. Their barrel-aged beers are stored underground in gypsum mines.
JR: I thought you said “Egyptian mines” and I thought you were so full of shit.
GW: Gypsum. They make walls and gum out of it. It’s a mineral. Michigan is right above a swirling vortex of gypsum.
MM: This kind of reminds me of the Session Black. Dark, but drinkable.
GW: These are notorious for hangovers. Monday night, everything’s half-off. So there are a lot of Tuesday hangovers in Grand Rapids. Do you have any questions you’d like me to field?
MM: When was the first time you drank beer?
GW: Actually, I don’t know. I don’t remember anything! My dad was an amateur brewer, so I think I accidentally drank it when I was a kid.
SS: Your dad was an amateur brewer before it was cool?
GW: He’s basically a chemist. He stopped now, but he was interested in doing it, because he liked to make something that wasn’t at work.
SS: What beers of Founders do you not enjoy?
GW: This isn’t an everyday beer for me. I usually get whatever’s on tap and I haven’t tried before. They have a new one called “DEATH” that I want to try when I get back. They had a raspberry beer called “Rübæus” that they had to stop making when raspberry prices went up. Raspberries aren’t grown much in Michigan, but cherries are, so they’re switching to cherries for their fruit beers. I like their Centennial IPA a lot.
MM: When I went to the Full Sail brewery, they had about 10 beers, total.
GW: Yeah, these guys have like 20. And they’re changing all the time. They had all these spiced Christmas beers last winter. They had one called Spice Rack that tasted … like a spice rack.
96/1000: Full Sail Top Sail Imperial Porter
JB: I’ll point out that this was a very hot, limited release, where the beer stores had to have limits on how many bottles people could buy, they’d announce it on their blogs… It was kind of a big deal.
MM: It looks like motor oil as it pours.
GW: It’s definitely barrel-aged. But there’s not a lot of taste to it.
MM: The aftertaste disappears… once you taste it, it’s gone.
GW: Smelling it, I expected it to be really strong, but once I had it in my mouth, there wasn’t as much to it.
SS: It smells like a wafer cookie. Or a Necco wafer.
JB: It’s chalky.
GW: It certainly smells the part.
JB: I guess I didn’t have the same expectation that it would be super-flavorful, but I’m sidetracked by the smell. It smells amazing!
MM: This is a sharing bottle.
JR: It’s part of the problem with it, that you can’t just sit down and drink it with two people.
SS: I could just sit down and knock this back.
GW: I’m not let down, but I’m surprised and a little confused that this isn’t more flavorful.
JB: You thought it would be, like, challening.
GW: Exactly. I’m used to cringing a little after having a bourbon-aged beer.
[Mike pours his beer into a brandy snifter.]
JB: It’s going to taste so much better like that.
MM: It is! It is much better. Lesson one: Mugs are better for beer.
GW: I don’t agree. I think you should drink darker beers, and bourbon beers out of these.
MM: But not Budweiser.
GW: No, just the ones that rely a lot on smell.

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Out of the mainstream

Date: February 12, 2010
Location: Saraveza
Mike Merrill (MM)
Josh Berezin (JB)

94/1000: Russian River Consecration
JB: What are we drinking?
MM: Russian River Consecration.
JB: One of the rotating taps here?
MM: And they wouldn’t give me a pint, only 8 ounces of it.
JB: So it’s potent stuff. What drew you to it?
MM: I ran into Mike from the beer store. He asked me if I liked sour beers, and I said yes. And he recommended it highly.
JB: They’re pretty out of the mainstream, and you really do like them. So I guess we know, to some degree, what to expect here.
MM: Go ahead and try it.
JB: It doesn’t give anything up in its smell but then you drink it and it’s sour and chewy. It really shocked my palate.
MM: It’s such an unusual flavor for beer, and it’s only because of that tasting at Belmont Station that I know that I like them.
JB: At that tasting, I got the impression you would drink sour beers all the time, if they were available.
MM: I think I would.

JB: But what place do they hold in the beverage world for you?
MM: Well, it’s kind of like wine.
JB: I see that point, actually. It’s not something you knock back. So how’s it different from other sour beers?
MM: It’s been so long since I’ve had one, that I don’t really know.
JB: There’s a maltiness to it, which surprised me. And caramel.
MM: And like, a grape. Artificial grape flavor. I feel like I would get a purple moustache off it.
JB: It’s so sticky. You get a thin version of it on the roof of your mouth.
MM: It makes sense that they don’t give you a pint of this. I wouldn’t want a pint of wine, either.
JB: How much was this?
MM: I think it was six dollars. About comparable to a glass of wine.
JB: I’m interested in fancy beers replacing wine in a restaurant setting. You really don’t see that. But it’s clearly possible. There’s enough variety, specialization, and quality in beers.
95/1000: Amnesia Sleigh-Jerker Winter Warmer
MM: What does it have to sound so porno?
JB: I can’t even say it.

MM: So what kind of beer is this? I thought it was going to be more like a porter.
JB: Usually those winter beers are a little sweeter… Dopplebocks, that kind of thing.
MM: Maltier, as opposed to hoppier?
JB: They’re never very hoppy.
MM: Well, this sleigh-jerker is certainly quaffable.
JB: It’s so smooth, I’m not entirely sure I’m drinking it. It does have some aftertaste that reminds me that I just drank something. But that’s probably cause it’s kind of sticky.
[Note: The laptop’s battery went dead at this point, so we were forced to enjoy the remainder of the beer without commentary. We hope that despite our technical difficulty, we still managed to convey some key aspects of the experience of drinking this beer.]

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I Love This

Date: August 22, 2009
Time: 4:00 pm
Location: Green Dragon
Mike Merrill (MM)
Josh Berezin (JB)

oskarblues-scottish.jpgWe drank this too fast to get a picture…
92/1000: HUB Cascadian Dark
JB: I love this! And our fries just came!
MM: It’s very hoppy.
JB: Is it?
MM: Isn’t it?
JB: It is hoppy, but no way would I say very hoppy. Hoppy for a dark beer, too. But that’s what makes it work well, that it’s not a bitter, thin, beer. It’s mild and round for being hoppy.
MM: It has that stickiness that a hoppy beer has.
JB: I think we usually call it resiny. I don’t want to obsess about whether it’s hoppy. I think it has so many other great things going on that I’d rather talk about.
MM: What’s a dark beer that’s like this?
JB: I’ve been drinking light-colored beers all summer. I don’t even remember.
MM: I think if I blind-tasted this, I would assume it was a much brighter color.
JB: I’m going to close my eyes and drink it. [drinks] I might think red.
MM: Oh, yeah. There’s that iron flavor in there. Have you been over there, to HUB?
JB: Yeah, I kind of hate it.
MM: Bad bike parking, huh?
JB: It was a while ago, maybe they fixed that. But they have that big “bike art” thing over the bar, and then shitty bike parking? And they’re on Powell?
MM: Don’t hype it as bikey?
JB: And they have bad pizza.
MM: I was surprised they weren’t more like Green Dragon, from what I’d read about them being hard core beer nerds.
JB: Despite having nearly no bike parking, this place feels very bike-friendly. All that aside…
MM: They make good beer.
JB: I haven’t been 100% blown away, but a few have been rock star. This among them.
MM: But I think we should have done these in the opposite order.
93/1000: Oskar Blues Scottish
MM: This is sweet. Especially after the HUB. It’s nothing like that beer, except in color.
JB: I think of this as late fall.
MM: I was thinking winter beer, but you want it at this not-too-cold temperature…
JB: Winter is heavier for me. This is a middleweight. Sweet is right, though.
MM: It has an oiliness, like a porter.
JB: Fades against my Caesar salad, though. I can hardly taste it. I’m not sure I’d return to this. I’m trying to picture when I’d serve it. Maybe for a lady? On a cold fall day?
MM: That’s the picture that I’m getting. You’re inside, and it’s nice, and it’s cold and miserable outside. And you don’t want tea or a hot chocolate.
JB: I don’t mean to bring the sexism here, but broadly based on my experience with taste, beer, and gender…
MM: Have we done an Oskar Blues before?
JB: They do cans. We’ve had Dale’s Pale. Oh, and we had Gordon, and we kind of hated it. Gold medal, 2008 World Beer Championships.
MM: I’d be surprised if this won any awards. Not that it’s bad! But I think those competitions reward very remarkable beers. This beer seems like one that will quickly fade from our memories.

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