Bar Review- Hopcat East Lansing

I’ve been drinking beer at Hopcat more than at home lately. They have a wonderfully extensive tap selection and when one runs out they replace it with something new and exciting. The beer menu is separate from the food menu, which is good enough, but they also print a new menu every couple days, and they have a section for upcoming selections which they mark off when it is tapped. Beers are organized by style and they often put themes together and have tap takeovers. Then there are the crack fries….

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Tasting Notes- Blue Mountain Brewery Local Species

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This is from Nelson County, VA where Blue Mountain Brewery offers seven beers each a different style which has been aged in used bourbon barrels. Local Species is a Belgian style using Belgian yeast and coming in at 6.6% ABV and 24 IBUs.

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At first glance, it has a beautiful dark golden color and a tan head with some staying power and impressive lacing. The citrusy aroma is clean and not accompanied by any other smells. Firmly hop bitter finish which helps make a crisp end to the taste. ¬†Very fleeting sweet bourbon mid taste, maybe detected because I am looking for that taste. Or maybe the sweetness is from some other factor that I am falsely attributing to the bourbon aging. Labels can be a very powerful influence on perceptions of a beer. This is very drinkable because it is light in taste and alcohol content, and also because of the hop finish which is not overly bitter, just cleansing. Don’t try it looking for the bourbon element because it is either extremely subtle, or I am missing it entirely. I would suggest this as a agreeable Belgian style, and think it would pair well with a wide range of foods.

Tasting Notes- New Glarus Spotted Cow

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I am so happy to be able to write this post because it means I got my hands on some New Glarus beer, which is not exported outside of Wisconsin. I first had Spotted Cow at a hotel bar in Madison, after driving all day, and it was heavenly. I was ready to try it again and see if it lived up to my memories. Well, it definitely is as great as I remembered. This is a cask-conditioned farmhouse ale with corn and flaked barley added. The result is a refreshing beer that has a hint of creaminess. I personally prefer this beer served quite cold, possibly because that is how I first tasted it, but the cold keeps the sour edge found in many farmhouse ales at bay. Also it allows focus on the texture which is light but somewhat creamy, with a mouthfeel that has some body. I suggest Spotted Cow as an alternative to American lagers as I could easily drink a few of these back to back as a session beer.

Tasting Notes- Two Women New Glarus

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Do I like this brewery because they don’t import outside of Wisconsin, so they are difficult to obtain? Possible, but Spotted Cow is still one of my favorite beers of all time, so I was excited to score a multi pack as I went through Wisconsin this summer. Two Women is a lager that hold to the style but tastes rather malty. I don’t prefer this taste but am looking forward to trying other styles from this brewer.

Beer Out West

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Special brewed beer from the Million Dollar Bar in Jackson, Wy. The defining characteristics of the bar are the mounted animals on display and the long bar surface inlaid with silver dollars. The beer is a forgettable ale.

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Neat label on Coors Light.

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Old crock used as decoration at Grandma’s in Duluth, MN.¬† According to Wikipedia the Coors company made malted milk and porcelain to survive the prohibition era.

Beers of Mexico

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Beers sampled while vacationing in Cancun, Mexico.

Not pictured is Victoria, which was my favorite of the trip. It’s a tasty, basic amber, a little smoother than Dos Equis Ambar, which is quite satisfing as well.

Non Beer Taste Test- Coca Cola Comparison

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Coca Cola was historically made with ingredients including cane sugar and whole coca leaf. Replacing the coca leaf with de-cocained coca leaf is easy to live with, but replacing the cane sugar with high fructose corn syrup is not as welcome a change. Americans learned that Coke made in Mexico is still made with real sugar and started importing it. The Coca Cola Company is now officially importing Mexican Coke and offering it in a somewhat limited release, which now includes supermarkets and gas stations. Much more limited is the yearly batch of Coke made with real sugar for Passover. Real sugar can be certified kosher while corn syrup cannot, and thus is used in Coke during Passover. These bottles are capped with yellow and sugar is on the ingredients label, but otherwise are not distinguished from the corn syrup formula bottles. I put regular Coke, Mexican Coke, and Kosher Coke head to head to head to taste if there are flavor differences.

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I purchased all three within one day of each other and left them all in the fridge to come to the same temperature. Each was poured into identical glasses and tasted. Regular Coke tastes very fizzy. I know fizzy is a texture, but that is the overriding sense. Mexican Coke is also quite fizzy, but with some cola taste, not overly sweet compared to regular Coke. Kosher Coke is not as fizzy and is more richly caramel tasting. The sweetness is pronounced but not to candy-like levels. I prefer this taste to the others, but could never drink more than 8 ounces at a time. Perhaps this is why regular Coke is mainly carbonated water, to facilitate larger quantities. I was surprised that Mexican Coke is so similar to regular Coke and not the Kosher Coke. The other aspect of this taste test is the curiosity about New Coke and Coca Cola Classic. I always thought Mexican Coke might be close to old school pre-HFCS American Coke. Now I am not sure if it is, or if Kosher Coke is closer, or if nothing that is available now is anything like the original formula. I’m just glad they took out the cocaine.

Arcadia Ales Cereal Killer vs. Aged Cereal Killer

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First for Cereal Killer; aroma is very malty with a slight fruit hint. First taste is alcohol tinged malt, then the hops slide in and linger to the after taste with a citrus lilt. Aftertaste is not very lingering so you can get to the next drink, which is dangerous on account of the 10% alcohol.

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Now the Cellered Cereal Killer; the aroma is still malty, with more fruit in it. This is confirmed in the taste as the fruit is much more pronounced, and, where the fruit in the regular version is non specific , this is more a grape raisin taste. The alcohol is still present but the hop note has been turned down but still helps define the aftertaste. Either drink would complement a meal quite nicely, just be mindful of the alcohol content, and a small glass would also be advised. Arcadia Ales is in Battle Creek, MI. Both purchased at Vine and Brew, Okemos.

Tasting Notes- Bells Midwestern Pale Ale

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Pretty close to the pale ale archetype. Hoppy start then a half bitter, half floral finish. Very hoppy aftertaste,lingering, but not bitter. Great complement to the buffalo sandwich sliders I paired with it. A perfect choice for fans of Sam Adams Boston Lager who want to branch out, but not too far. Sampled at Studio C, Okemos. 5.2% alcohol. Bell’s is based in Kalamazoo, MI.

Tasting Notes- New Belgium X Brewery Vivant Biere de Garde

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This is a collaboration between two Belgian style breweries located in the United States, New Belgium in Colorado, and Brewery Vivant in Grand Rapids, MI. The Bier de Garde name means “beer for keeping,” in French. Farmhouse brewers mainly brewed in colder months so they ended the season with a stronger batch to last into the non-brewing months.

After a smooth golden pour and a disappering white head, this beer smells of citrus and malt. The taste is light and funky, with more funkiness to follow.

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There is some citrus intertwined with the funk, and the finish is slightly apple tinged and tart, fading away, not cloying. This is for the Belgian-style beer fan, as the funkiness is an acquired taste for most drinkers, and not what some expect or want without having experienced it in other Belgian styles prior to this one. Purchased at Tom’s Foods, Okemos. Thanks again to The Oxford Companion to Beer for the knowledge.