El Monstruo Lupúlo – 1 Year Later

El-Monstruo-Lupulo-post-1To celebrate our company’s 20th Anniversary last year, Cigar City was kind enough to brew us a one-off exclusive for release in our July 2014 Rare Beer Club shipment: El Monstruo Lupúlo, an imperial IPA monster crafted with eight different hops – including a few experimental varieties – and aged on Spanish cedar and spruce.

A hop bomb like that is meant to be enjoyed fresh, while the hops are undegraded and still bursting out at full tilt. And we certainly enjoyed plenty fresh bottles. But we also hid some away to revisit later, to watch how the beer would hold up and evolve in bottle over time.

This week we decided to crack one open, more than a year after storing it away in a cool, dark cellar (otherwise known as our server room). How did it hold up?

Pretty darn well, actually. It was immediately apparent that some of sharper higher-octave hop notes had subsided somewhat, which we expected. But make no mistake, this brew is still a big, bad, hoppy monster. The citrusy core of orange and grapefruit was still front and center in a big way, along with light hints of evergreen from the spruce and Chinook additions. There was a berry-like hint in there as well, bolstered by a softly floral overtone and a mild vanilla-esque quality. Bitterness was still very big.

The malts seem at least as prominent as we remember them, perhaps even moreso now that the topmost edge of the hop profile has subdued a little. Lots of toasty, toffee-like notes offer plenty of structure, all touched by woody hints.

So, despite being over a year old, El Monstruo Lupúlo has held up really nicely and still displays a wonderfully complex hop profile in tandem with those woody additions that augment them just as well as we remember. We’ll have to crack another one open at the 2-year mark to see exactly what long-term aging will do to it, but we’re confident it’ll still be delicious.


The 12 Beers of Christmas

Here at The Microbrewed Beer of the Month Club™, we love winter. It’s the time of year when some of the most bold, interesting, and fun beers are released. We’ve put together a list of some of our favorite holiday offerings that we’ve featured over the years – some from our US Microbrewed Club, some from our International Beer Club, and still others from our exclusive Rare Beer Club:

These 12 Beers of Christmas are a great accompaniment to the holiday season, so be sure to pick some up – if you can find them! Or, if tracking down the best hand-crafted beers from around the world sounds like a lot of work, let us take care of it for you. Join or give a gift membership to The Microbrewed Beer of the Month Club and make the joy of Christmas come each and every month.

Our thorough beer selection process, honed by over 20 years of experience in the craft beer industry, ensures you can relax knowing we’ve got the world’s best beers on their way to you or your gift recipient every month. It makes us feel a bit like Santa Claus, just without the reindeer.

Merry Christmas!


TGIF: Deschutes & Goose Island – Class of ’88 Belgian Style Ale

May 1, 2014 - Class of '88 (2) - croppedAhh, yes, Friday is here again. Time for our weekly celebration – today’s guest of honor is a beer co-developed by Deschutes and Goose Island: Class of ’88 Belgian Style Ale. Both breweries were founded in 1988, hence this celebratory collaboration.

This is a Belgian strong golden ale, but with the twist of having been brewed with Michigan Riesling and Oregon Pinot Noir juice and aged in former muscat wine barrels.

So does the grape/wine influence work? Well, it depends on who you talk to. Some of us liked this brew more than others. It’s quite malty and sweet, although it’s got enough alcohol (10.9%) and tart wine-like acidity to cut through it. In fact, the acidity hits pretty aggressively right at the front of the mouth – a characteristic some of us liked and some of us didn’t. But, in any case, the malt profile is satisfyingly robust, and it’s got that unmistakable Belgian yeast character. Fruity esters are abundant and fun, offering some touches of apricot, apple, and citrus, and there’s a nice, softly floral flourish here too.

All in all, it was a nice way to finish the week.

TGIF: Shmaltz Brewing Co. – Funky Jewbelation (2014)

April 4, 2014 - Funky Jewbelation (9) - croppedApril 4, 2014 - Funky Jewbelation (5) - croppedSo today we cracked open the 2014 version of Shmaltz’s Funky Jewbelation, a blend of 7 different He’Brew beers aged in both bourbon (35%) and rye whiskey barrels (65%).

Let’s just start by saying upfront that this dark brown brew is not shy. Whiskey notes are obvious (particularly rye, to our palates) and there are real prominent sour black cherry and prune notes that offer their acidity in balance to a moderate sweetness that leans towards brown sugar. At 9.4%, there’s a bit of alcohol that comes through too – aided by the whiskey barrel influence. As with most sours, we prefered this beer closer to cellar temp than fridge temp.

Spicy, oaky, fruity, boozy, and whiskey-y, this one’s pretty tasty folks. And complex. And a little weird, in a good way. But it’s not for everyone, as one or two of the less experienced tasters in the office didn’t much care for the sourness. Oh well, they’ll learn to like it in time… in the meantime, it just means more for the rest of us.

L’Chaim Sucka!

TGIF: New Belgium Lips of Faith Series: Pluot

Mar 28, 2014 - Pluot (7)Today, we’re closing out our week by enjoying an unusual 10% ABV pluot beer from Colorado’s New Belgium Brewing Co. I have to admit, I’d never heard of a pluot before picking up this beer, but according to the label, it’s a hybrid of a plum and an apricot. Interesting… so what’s it like?

The beer strikes us as a tweaked Belgian strong golden ale, with the pluot infusion adding a pretty neat fruity overtone. Notes of plum, white grape juice, and apple juice come through, but not in any kind of dense, cloying kind of way, and there’s a touch of funk from a light dose of wild brettanomyces yeast. The malts are pale but fairly robust – there’s some heft and texture here. A lightly acidic tartness combines with the fruit character, robust malts, and a hint of alcohol, to create an impression of a robust white wine.

Ultimately it’s unusual in a good way, easy to drink, and everyone in our office who tried it enjoyed it. So give it a shot if you see it around. It’s unlike most other beers you’ll ever find.

Happy Friday!