Archive for February, 2010

Beware The Squeal

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

A while ago Jeff over at Beervana had a post about a beer brewed with Apricot stone fruits called Everything But The Squeal. Interestingly the beer in question received more criticisms then praise from the readers. That’s because the fruit of apricot pits contains a chemical called amygdalin. This chemical is present in most fruit seeds including apples, and normally passes through your body tucked safely away in the seeds protective coating. However when you boil the seeds, open them up, or eat them this chemical is processed by your body and turned into cyanide. The FDA hasn’t thoroughly researched this chemical though, so the degree to which cooking eliminates amygdalin and the dosage at which it becomes lethal is debated. There’s no doubt though that some people are concerned. With the increasing use of alternative flavorings and herbs in beer though just how much are we exposing ourselves to “bad” or “dangerous” chemicals?

Within the alternative medacine community there seems to be a view that as long as it’s a plant it has to be better then the stuff you get from the pharmacy. What with all those nasty side effects of medicines it has to be true. Sadly many herbs contain similar or same chemicals that are found in some drugs. This means brewers should be paying close attention to interactions between plant chemicals, the way the body processes some chemicals, and the effect boiling in wort can have on the chemicals. Instead though many brewers just toss in the herbs without a lot of regard to this. Luckily for us the side effects of some herbs like sweet gale are over exaggerated and like the amygdalin in Cascades “white port/raspberry/apricot seed beer” are present in low enough levels for the body to process.

Just for fun here are some beer ingrediants that are considered dangerous or have known adverse side effects.

Ginko Biloba – Not very common, but you occasionally hear of one off beers brewed with it.

Ginsing – Oregon Trails Ginsing Porter pops to mind first.

Liquorice root – Common in dark heavy stouts, winter warmers, and sometimes barlywines.

Fruit seeds – Contain amygdalin. Cascade is the only one I’ve heard of actually brewing with seeds.

Sweet Gale – Reported in old brewing texts to be narcotic

Sassafras – traditional flavoring for root beer and some herbal beers. considered a carcinogen

OPA The Good and The Bad? Or Different Beers?

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

So I logged on tonight to do a quick review of OPA. I drank my original bottle last week, but didn’t take notes and felt it was worth buying another to get something detailed. However tonights bottle was an entirely different story. Either this bottle is so very bad, or this brewery is having trouble. So to be fair I did a from memory review of the first bottle, and a while I torture myself review of this second purchase. Both bottles were bought at the same store within a short time of each other, so I’m eliminating that as a factor. If you’ve had the OPA mutiple times, please tell me beer 2 is not it.

Bottle 1


Some biscuity/bready aromas, hay


Copper color, just the slightest haze. Decent head


I remember lot’s of bready malts, some grassyness.Almost no bitterness. Slight citrus note if I remember right.


A good beer, and very drinkable. The phrase pale ale has little to no place in the name though. Neither enough hop flavors nor enough bitterness to tip the scales away from the malt flavors. Would buy it again.

Bottle 2


buttery, caramel, leather


Very dark amber color. Slightly opaque, no head, very little carbonation.


I’m afraid to try it, but here goes. Sharp bite up front, but not from bitterness. Not sure how exactly to describe it. Sickly sweet, with little malt flavor. Fruity finish with a light lingering bitterness. Medium mouthfeel.


Get it away from me! Never going neer this beer with a 10 ft pole. Thought it’d be worth stocking again, but one bad bottle is enough. Still might stock their stout.

Cell Phone Tasting Notes

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

I finally found a use for that notes function on my cell phone. Turns out it works much better then writing beer reviews on bar napkins.

Recently I tried Ommegang Adoration. I was directed towards this beer by Jack. Apparently Nick Lopez, the new man behind Venti’s Bar, decided to stock this one off beer. Venti’s is charging $15 a bottle for it, so I kinda wish I had a friend with me to share the bottle, and the tab. I had Hooper rinse out the snifter that my Old Crustacean was poured in and used that for tasting. After trying it I can’t see why this Beer only has a B+ on Beeradvocate. So much for Jeff defending them. I know people have different tastes, but this beer should have preformed much better then it did.


I always do aroma first so I can catch the scents stirred up from the pour, I always sniff the bottle opening too. Aroma is plum, very spicy. Smells very malty. Fairly complex blend of aromas. Some orange peel as well.


Mahogany color. Large off white head, very effervescent. Needs to be poured slowly. Big bubbles. More of a pillowy head


Orange peel hit first followed by dark fruits, spices, and some tartness. Definitely get a little funk. Possibly Brett? Wouldn’t surprise me. Maltier then I thought it would be. Definite dark malts. The spices might be a little much, but I like their strong presence.


Great beer. Complex with alot going on, but neither too much that it muddies it, or any flavor so strong it drowns the others. I know this goes contrary to my comment about the spices strong presence, but I think it compliments the beer rather then subjugate it. Out of all the Belgian Winter Ales I’ve tried this winter this one takes first.

Laptop Down

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

My laptops power cord has ceased functioning again which means that a review of OPA is on hold. I will however try to get some stuff done in the mean time.