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The Beer Friends write, review, and discuss Craft Beer as fans instead of experts.  They share their unique voice and affinity for craft beer through multiple platforms and offer a range of media to join their craft beer conversation.



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Filtering by Category: Live Blog

Live Blog! Clown Shoes and The Glenrothes at Idle Hands

Phil Foleen

Hello Beer Friends Nation! Tonight we are graced by one of our new favorite breweries from Massachusetts, Clown Shoes! Joining them is whiskey from The Glenrothes, so lets get started! Phil's First Clementine - being a Belgian beer this doesn't start off on the top of my list, BUT, the hops and the citrus pieces of the recipe really help to curb that Belgian yeast taste I hate so much. Which makes this one tolerable! The Belgian taste is there but a light citrusy clementine taste helps out, and there is a little bit of hoppy bitterness along the way as well.

Paul's First Clementine - I always hate to agree with Phil, but these kind of Belgian white beers are never at the top of my list either. However, that is only my opinion, and like most of my opinions it is easily proven wrong. This brew is light but has a ton of flavor. It's a light murky orange color with a flavor like its namesake.

Graham's First Clementine - it's been awhile since I've had a wit-bier so maybe that's why they all taste similar to me, so ill try to paint a unique picture of this one, as much as I can. Definitely citrus orange, hence the name, cloudy with a yeasty laid back tones. Light enough to drink during hot weather and almost flavorful enough to want all the time. If wit and hefe's were my style then I'd be into this one a lot more.

Phil's Second Hoppy Feet Black IPA - My current favorite style. Black IPAs bring the perfect balance of the hops I love and the toasty, burnt goodness that a darker beer will give you, this beer is no slouch in that department. Very malty nose, but a surprising hoppy bitterness that presents itself early on in your taste, followed up by a sweet and toasty end reminiscent of a barrel aged ale. I would recommend this and will definitely be having this again tonight.

Paul's Second Hoppy Feet - Black IPA's like this one have grown in popularity over the past few years. It's been a style that has seen some good beer and some very mediocre beers. The problem that I find with some Black beers is one flavor is too offensive. Especially with IPA's you run the risk of having an imbalance between the hop flavor and the roasted malts. The black ales I've enjoyed the most have found the correct balance and haven't had those overpowering flavors. Until this one, this is a black IPA with a strong hop and roasted malt flavor that I really enjoy. It's strong and hits you hard with flavor at the beginning and has a nice roasty flavor through the end.

Graham's Second Hoppy Feet - A black IPA is one of those piecemeal styles that sounds a lot better on paper than it does in person, USUALLY. There are a few exceptions: Sixpoint Diesel and... Well you get the picture. However I'm now happy to announce that, for me at least, another has joined the rank(s) of acceptable Black IPA's. Deep roast malt flavor, smoke, peat and a light coffee followed by a delicious blast of West Coast hops. Hoppy Feet truly meets the the black IPA style head on and wins.

Phil's Third Vampire Slayer - Delicious! If this is what it's like I can see why Abraham Lincoln got into the biz. Fantastically smokey and malty, but with very little alcohol taste to talent you know you're drinking a 10%'er. The smoked Baltic Porter roots are very present, and will not disappoint anyone looking for a dark and stormy pint.

Paul's Third Vampire Slayer- This is the best offering of the night. This is a smoked imperial porter brewed with holy water, you know, to kill vampires. This is a great imperial porter with a lot of flavor but it isn't terribly heavy. This is a big beer that is dangerously drinkable. Go get yourself s bomber and enjoy your evening.

Graham's Third Vampire Slayer - I (happily due to what creativity inevitably produces) think craft brewers have just started picking style and flavor profiles out of a grab bag these days. Black, imperial, IPA: genius! Rye, lager, witbier: delicious! Oyster, oatmeal, amber: holy beer gods yes! But honestly, when Clown Shoes picked smoked, milk, stout they hit the nail on the head. Smoke up front with a smooth slightly chocolate following that flows so much like cream that seems impossible at almost 10% ABV. Find this bottle near you and see what I mean.

Phil's whiskey Glenrothes Select Reserve- I will try it every time. This was warm and fuzzy on the way down, but still had that whiskey taste and burn. Not my thing

Paul's whiskey Glenrothes Select Reserve - Yes Phil, it goes down like whiskey BECAUE IT'S WHISKEY! This is a great single malt scotch that was aged in a bourbon cask and a sherry cask. Absolutely wonderful spirit that I look forward to enjoying again as well as what else this distillery has to offer.

Graham's whiskey Glenrothes Select Reserve - I'm not a huge whiskey connoisseur but I do know that this scotch is banging. It's real malty and smooth and when you smell/taste it the right way has flavors of cherry, fig and vanilla. One of my favorites in a long time, I gotta remember to pick a bottle of this one up soon.


Graham - Clown Shoes Clementine Old Fashioned - When Rob said he could make an old fashioned with the Clown Shoes Clementine I said prove it to me. He then called me a dick. What he did was prove to me that a drink this good probably shouldn't be made, lest we all become breakfast drinkers. Big orangey taste upfront with the rest of the beer flavor following only to end with a smooth whiskey mixed with orange on the back of your tongue. Refreshing, warming, filing, effervescent, flavorful and an overall classy beverage. I'll be having one for breakfast tomorrow.

Paul- (see above)

Live blog! Idle Hands NY beer week kick off!

Phil Foleen

Hello Beer Friends Nation! Tonight we are back at Idle Hands for the slightly official kickoff of New York beer week with Kelso, Empire and the newcomer Singlecut. As always thanks to Rev and .rob for the awesome event and Dan at That Burger for TATCHOS!!!!!!! Let's get started! Phil's First: Kelso Rauchbier - I'm a big fan of the Rauchbier. graham and I have agreed its not a real pint contender unless you're looking for a sipping beer. Wonderfully smokey this one keeps the beer taste on the down low, but that's not a bad thing. I would usually only have one or two of these a night, but that because its a bit more specialized than others. Fortunately we have Jarlsberg cheese here with some samples to go along with the smokey goodness, a well balanced bitterness that helps balance the sweet smoke of the Kelso.

Graham's First: Kelso Rauchbier - Rauchbier is a delicious flavor of beer that I rarely get a chance to drink, and probably for good measure. If I had it all the time I probably would get smoked out. In the rare circumstances that I enjoy a Rauchbier I, well, enjoy it. Especially when it's paired with smokey Jarlsberg cheese like tonight. The Kelso Rauchbier has a hint of bacony meat smoke with a great earthy flavor behind it and a light hop bitterness that is delightfully embraced by the cheese.

Phil's Second: Empire Amber - always a good showing form the Empire crew, the Amber is a solid malt forward offering that hits well in the second round. A slight combination after taste of the malts and the hops finished cleanly and get you ready for the next taste.

Graham's Second: Empire Amber - Ambers are not usually my favorites: too heavy on the malts and not enough hop action. This one is mostly the same with the exception the nice hop bitterness in the back end of the back end. In reality, I'm not as praising of this beer because I'm some sort of hop monster, in the end it's one of the most well-balanced, easy-drinking ambers out of the northeast.

Phil's Third: Singlecut 18 Watt IPA - OH MAN is this good! Super hoppy in the best way. The aroma hits you even before your bring the glass up to take a sip. A lot of floral hop flavor right off the bat, bewitch a good sweetness on the back end that only compliments the hops you tasted 2 seconds before. This is one I will be getting another glass of, right after this glass! Can't wait to hit up the brewery for some fresh IPA. Yum yum.

Graham's Third: Singlecut 18 Watt IPA - I could talk about this IPA as having a super hoppy herbal aroma, or having a complex hop flavor or being a super drinkable 5% ABV. Or I could talk about the secret tasting of a rum barrel aged dopplebock that will eventually be poured in a nitrogenated fashion. Not that these two awesome things happened at the same time or anything...

Thanks again to Rev and Rob for the amazing event. Thanks to the breweries Kelso, Empire and Singlecut! Singlecut we'll be seeing you real soon for some more IPA/Rum aged Doppelboch in the very near future, Trista it was great to meet you!

Till next time BF Nation! (next week probably, who are we kidding)

LIVE BLOG! Idle Hands $10 Tasting of NY Breweries Week 1

Beerfriend Paul

Hello Beer Friends Nation!!! New York City Beer Week is looming around the corner and it is beginning to make its presence felt!

Over the past 4 years this week has brought some amazing events, great fun, and ton of beer brought to the masses. This year the Festival will run February 22nd through March 3rd this year and promises to be absolutely epic.

As part of this celebration, or rather a slight sidecar to this celebration, Idle Hands is calling February NY Beer Month and they will be pouring great craft beers from all over New York State. A main part of this will be our favorite weekly $10 Tasting they do every Wednesday. Starting tonight the next 4 Wednesdays will be full of great New York Breweries and we for one are going to start celebrating our craft beer week tonight.

Stay Tuned for the kickoff round of the festivities!

Paul’s First: Captain Lawrence Captain’s Kolsch- This is a nice crips brew from a good brewery. I tend to enjoy their darker and more flavorful brews like Brown Bird but that doesn't mean I dislike this brew. It's light and has a sweet malty finish. It's not the beer I'm reaching for with enthusiasm at a christmas party, but a backyard cookout or a beach party is a different story. Bring this beer to my Fourth of July party and we will be friends.

Graham’s First: Captain Lawrence Captain’s Kolsch– A Kolsch is a kolsch is a kolsch. But that's not entirely true. German Kolsch's taste too German, other Kolsch's taste like... well I don't think other people make Kolsch's. Except Captain Lawrence (and many other American craft breweries that brew in a German style). This Kolsch is light, but not without a bready malt profile. It's clean and lacking any hop residue but that's no bad thing as the style calls for a clean finish. In the end I'd take this brew alongside a dinner of burgers or wings where I wanted my taste buds assaulted by food but cleansed by liquid. I'll save the IPA and overly hopped pale ale for later/earlier in the evening.

Phil’s Frist: Captain Lawrence Captain’s Kolsch– its a Kolsch. i like these as an interim beer, and this one is not exception. Kolsch's for me are a good choice for when i have too many options to head to next, and i'm not sure which way i want to go, but i don't want to waste any beer time. light and a little malty with a clean finish these will usually never dissapoint, i'm partial to the Captain's because its more malt centric than tasting like a beligian or a farmhouse. so i like it.

Paul’s Second: Ithaca Flower Power- This has been, and continues to be, one of my favorite beers to find. The complexity of this IPA is fantastic. If you love IPA's then you need to try this beer. The hop flavor varies throughout the brew and leaves you with an excellent hop finish. I love this beer and the beer rep said that the new facility that Ithaca has opened will produce a lot more Flower Power for us to consume, and that makes me happy.

Graham’s Second: Ithaca Flower Power- Flower power is easily one of my favorite IPA's - solid top 3. Layers upon layers of flowery, citrusy hopp-stravaganza. On top of that it goes down easy and refreshing - by the end you are never overwhelmed, always wanting another pour to reinforce that fantastic hop profile.

Phil’s Second: Ithaca Flower Power- I really enjoy the Flower Power. it has a very smooth way to bring you the flavors that are present in the beer. i'm usually partial to a very sharp and intense hop taste, but when i'm looking for a good smooth way to satisfy my hoppy desires, this is a good go to. also on my list for a great way to introduce people that aren't into the know to a hop centric beer without scaring them off. delicious.

Paul’s Third: Butternuts Porkslap Draft- This was one of those good beers we used to get in cans before cans became cool. Porkslap was always a favorite beer to drink out of a can due to it's excellent taste and great label. This was a treat because it was on tap and it was excellent. You don't get the adorable pig on the label, but the beer still tastes great. Porkslap and Butternuts are not celebrated the way they should be.

Graham’s Third: Butternuts Porkslap Draft- Butternuts is a staple of NY State craft beer. First brewery (to my knowledge) to can it was for a little while profiled as a cheap brew that just happened to be intensely more flavorful than Genny or Golden Koch (New York State did not have a great beer scene until half a decade ago). Now that every mother and their brewery son is canning Butternuts has gained that recognition they deserved. I mean, after all, one doesn't consistently brew and can 4+ brews for that long without doing something right. It just shows ya - don't judge a beer by its aluminum covering.

Phil’s Third: Butternuts Porkslap Draft- Butternuts is a staple, here's a local grown beer that makes its name on being a no-bones-about-it beer aimed at the Miller and Coors crowd, and rightfully so. A decent way to spend a glass with a good malty finish hinting at a little hops in the middle.

Paul’s Whiskey Tasting- Tonight is Evan Williams Single Barrel 2003. This is the only vintage bourbon that you can find by year like you would a wine. The single barrel bourbons from Evan Williams has always been a favorite of ours ever since Idle Hands had their own barrel from 2000 which, for those who missed it, was absolutely incredible. That barrel is one of the reasons I have fallen in love with bourbon over the past couple years. This year certainly does not disappoint, it's smooth all the way through with a nice whiskey burn at the end. I am going to have to get myself a bottle of this for my home.

Graham’s Whiskey Tasting- Butter and popcorn and peanut butter. I'm not a huge whiskey aficionado ( I partake when it's available and when it's available I usually take it down quicker than slower) but this spirit deserves some smooth recognition. The bite in this whiskey is welcomed as a compliment to the smooth butteriness of the rest of the flavor profile exclaims. I'll say this again, I don't go out and pursue a whiskey/bourbon that often (exclusion: Jim Beam Rye) but I will be seeking out the Evan Williams Single Barrel 2003.

Phil’s Whiskey Tasting- you know, i'm one that usually makes a nasty face for the bourbon part. i'm not a big fan of the hard alcohols, mostly because i'm not a fan of the extreme taste of the alcohol that happens with a very good bourbon. that being said, i didn't make the nasty face with this one. it's actually smooth and not an aggressive alcohol taste. so a plus for this one in my book.

Sauce of the night by That Burger- Tonight is a Ranch Hot Sauce made with Porkslap and realistically that's all you really need to know. if you haven't experienced the Sauce magic that Dan at That Burger cooks up every even, you're really missing out. the standard Bourbon Ketchup is the staple for the bar, but every bourbon and beer event the Master takes one of the beers that is part of the night and crafts an fantastic sauce to go along with the requisite Tots that are part of the deal. Tonight was no exception, a fantastic ranch based hot sauce infused with the Porkslap on tap for the evening, and it is AMAZING! if you have any sense you'll toss in for the That Burger kickstarter to bring these sauces to the masses, but for now you'll have to come here with us and get some tots.

Dan has been making incredible sauces for his burgers and tots since we’ve known him and he is now trying to move on to the next step of bottling these specialty sauces. He has a Kickstarter up and needs our help. There are 12 days left to pledge and help a great guy take the next step. If you’ve had the food you already know this Kickstarter will be worth it, if you haven’t been down to Idle Hands and had some of Dan’s signature items I honestly don’t know what you are waiting for.

LIVE BLOG! The 3rd Annual White Christmas Winter Warmer Beer Extravaganza!

Beerfriend Paul

Tonight Paul and Graham reaffirm their friendship by going out without the other Beer Friends to enjoy a night of Beer and Bourbon at everyone's favorite basement bar, Idle Hands. Tonight The Beer Friends are a day late (or a week) but are NOT a dollar short because The 3rd Annual White Christmas Winter Warmer Beer Extravaganza! is in full swing for the entire holiday season. We missed the first week of this holiday tradition; but good news for us, this is only week #2 of 4. So what if it was 60 degrees earlier this week, Lets get into some Winter Warmers!

Paul's 1st - Two Brothers Northwind: This is the seasonal imperial stout from our favorite brewery from Warrenville Illinois. This is a seemingly average 9 abv for an imperial stout, but it packs a punch. This stout goes down with a smokey flavor that finishes fantastic. It's got a lot of flavor that doesn't linger.

Graham's 1st - Two Brothers Northwind: Roasty! This brew has a coffee, burnt malt flavor to it that is absolutely delicious followed by a slight sweetness that could either be the alcohol (9%) or some other deviousness. A full pint of this could warm ya on any winter's day. Let's hope they put this one out in bottles in NYC soon...

Paul's 2nd - Troegs Mad Elf: This has become a recent favorite during the holiday season. This is a HUGE beer that is VERY tasty. It comes in at 11% abv, it's a Belgian quad brewed with cherries. It's sweet the way Phil would hate, but the rest of you would love... This beer is sweet, sour, and delicious.

Graham's 2nd - Troegs Mad Elf: Quads are some fantastic sort of brews. Add cherries, pump up the alcohol and add some other winters spices and you go from just a quad to some sort of winter warmer quad deliciousness. Which I'm totally into. The slight sweet, tartness compliments the complex mix of other favors bumped up with a warming quality you can't ignore. This is my winter everyday brew. Everyone has one of those right?

Paul's 3rd - Harpoon Winter Warmer + Harpoon Cider = Apple Pies: I've heard bad things about cider beer cocktails, and I understand why. I don't mean bad as in it tastes bad, to the contrary it tastes fantastic. Drink a couple of these in a night and you could be in trouble. It does, as advertised, taste like an Apple pie, and I could drink a couple of these before the cider sweetness had me yearning for something bitter. It a delightful drink that I plan to bring to a couple holiday parties this year.

Graham's 3rd - Harpoon Winter Warmer + Harpoon Cider = Apple Pies: They said it tastes like apple pie...AND it tastes like apple pie! In a really fantastic beer sort of way. Not too sweet, not too spicy and incredibly refreshing. Whoever came up with this combination (Rev) it works fantastically well. Hello Christmas dinner cocktail...

Paul's 4th - Sierra Nevada Celebration: A staple beer at all holiday family functions, this has been a beer I have been very familiar with in my adult life. This is what marks the holiday season for me every year. Sometime after Halloween I pick up my first 6 pack and I begin to celebrate the most wonderful time of the year. This has always been lighter than I usually think winter beers would be, but the hop head in me smells the pine hops and it always takes me back to sitting next to the three on Christmas morning,

Enough with the nostalgia, this beer is fantastic! Get some and have a happy holiday season!

Graham's 4th - Sierra Nevada Celebration: Not as I remember it to be. In my memory Celebration was a spiced up dark, strong ale perfect for the winter season but also slightly generic when compared to other winter warmer style brews. This year Sierra Nevada shook things up in a delightfully hoppy way: they hopped the crap out of it. More reminiscent of an IPA than a winter brew with the winter part still noticeably present. It reminds me of an Winter IPA that I attempted, and failed, to brew once. I blamed the style. Thank you Sierra for reinspiring my dreams that such a brew is possible.

Paul's Whiskey taste-Original Moonshine: Another clear whiskey makes a appearance at a $10 Tasting. This is not the same as the last, but the smell and appearance are the same. This is sweet with a stench of booze that goes down smooth but tingles a little on the back end. I'm not terribly familiar with these "moonshines" but this is not as harsh as I would have expected. I certainly enjoyed this more than I thought I would.

Graham's Whiskey taste- Original Moonshine: Moonshine is strong. And tastes like strong booze. The smell of this moonshine is almost fruity, being that it's all corn, but the smell doesn't translate to the taste. Light, but fiery, it would warm you if you were dying of hypothermia. Beyond that, buckle down and prepare yourself for a hell raiser of a night with this one.

Check the Calendar at for more information on each week's $10 Tasting.

Live Blog! Great Divide Night at Idle Hands

Phil Foleen

Hello Beer Friends Nation! It was a dark and story night. Two intrepid beer drinkers braved the elements, the sheeting rain and slow busses to bring you a night of one of our favorite breweries out of Colorado. Wetsocks and all we are always excited for a little Great Divide and a Cowboys From Hell burger with crab seasoned tater tots from That Burger. Read on for the goodness...

Phil's First Hoss - For the beers that we are having tonight, this one is probably the one I would've picked to drink first anyway. It's not an overly strong beer, but with good malty notes from the Rye it doesn't disappoint. Smooth all the way down to the bottom of the glass.

Brad's First Hoss - Hoss is a great beer, I've had it before and it's a perfect fall beer, but without a pumpkin theme so it's great to drink year round.

Brad's Second Titan IPA - As I just got done talking with (name drop in 3, 2, 1...) Dave Woodlock the Great Divide beer rep, I told him that Titan is top 5 IPA for me. Balanced and piney really gives it a nice Colorado IPA feel.

Phil's Second Titan IPA - this is one of my all time fav's from Great Divide. Nice and hoppy, hoppy almost to the point of a double IPA, but without that overbearing bitterness and sweet ending that is pretty typical of those. I agree with Brad that this is just a very well balanced beer, a little floral taste from the hopes too but not in a tea-leaf kinda way.

Phil's Third Hercules Double IPA - this is the great next step in hoppiness for tonight. I love this beer, very hoppy and it does have that double IPA sweetnes but it's ny ere for a little bit and doesn't become the defining flavor on your tongue. That's left up to the hops, thankfully.

Brad's Third Hercules Double IPA - Re-read the Titan Review above.... Now double it. This is a delicious brew with a sneaky 10ABV that will seduce you like a beautiful woman (or so I've heard beautiful women seduce people... Lucky bastards).

Phil's Fourth Yeti Stout - yum yum yum yum yum. This is such a great opposing taste to the rest of what we've had tonight. So smoky and so dark and so delicious, the bitterness is such a great point at the end. A slight coffee taste, good and burnt that just makes you want whole second glass right away.

Brad's Fourth Yeti Stout - as much as this pains me... I agree with Phil - mostly on the Yum Yum Yum Yum part. This is a delicious stout that of course Great Divide with put into all sorts of barrels (whiskey, bourbon) and different varieties... (Belgian, Oak aged, Chocolate, Espresso). What's amazing is the base beer is so delicious by itself!

Brad's Fifth Rumble IPA - I've had this before and I like what they do. Honestly I'd like it more if it was bourbon barrel aged and a double IPA but we can't always get what we want. Also that's incredibly unfair to the beer because the version at present is delicious as well.

Phil's Fifth Rumble IPA - I agree with Brad to a point (theres a lot of agreeing going on here tonight, maybe they put something in the beer) I would like this a bit more if it were a Bourbon Barrel, BUT it is still a very good beer. A little on the sweet side for me, but still hoppy enough to keep me on board. Definitely a good choice for the smaller glasses.

Thanks to Rev and Rob at Idle Hands Bar and Dave bringing the Great Divide around. Can't wait for the next one!

Live Blog! Idle Hands featuring Mission Brewery!

Phil Foleen

Hello Beer Friends Nation! Tonight, once again we are coming to you from the great Idle Hands Bar in New York City for the tasting night featuring Mission Brewery and Bushmills Irish Whiskey. We have a couple to get through so check back and see what we think!

Brad's First Mission Amber - Dave, the beer rep, introduced this as a "attempted alt beer that turned out as an amber" - the beer had a nice heavy taste but I would agree with the first attempt... To me this is an alt beer, just not smooth enough for the other Amber styles I've had.

Paul's First Mission Amber - They say amber, and it's close, but this tastes much more like a red. It was described as a beer that was supposed to be something else, as Brad cited, it was introduced to be an alt bier that turned into something else. It is not what they intended, but it certainly is a happy accident. It's a very drinkable brew that I look forward to seeing this one again.

Phil's First Mission Amber - It is amber, when you have an inch left at the bottom of your glass. Its a very mild brew, a little watery on the mouthfeel side of things, but really reminds me of a session ale. Not a lot of hops taste in the beginning, and a bit of a sheath taste at the end that doesn't linger. All in all a good one to start your drinking adventure off with and continue on.

Brad's Second Mission Blonde - I enjoyed this beer a lot, not a huge fan of German beer and the pure-ness of the style, but this is really light and refreshing.

Brad's Bourbon Tasting Bushmills - this was a lot smoother than I remember. As a big fan of bourbons, whiskeys are good but Irish whiskeys I tend to stay away from. this was smooth-ish and enjoyable for the 1 ounce pour (I got Phil's) that I had.

Paul's Second Mission Blonde - Admittedly I don't love blonde ales. I don't hate them, they just don't normally register on my radar. However, in a completely backhanded compliment way, this is a totally acceptable light beer. I actually even like how this beer tastes, I just don't buy this style a lot.

Phil's Second Mission Blonde - I'm with Paul actually, this is an acceptable lighter beer. Let's say your at an afternoon BBQ with the Fam. So far the first two that we have had are a perfect first and second beer for a family reunion picnic. Not too beery so you alienate the in-laws, but enough that you don't feel like your drinking kool-aid. This ones a bit wheats but that's about all I can pick out of it.

Brad's Third Mission Shipwrecked Double IPA - This is a delicious 2xIPA, upon first taste a "friend" said "what is this? 6.5?" which speaks to the smoothness of this 9.25% ABV.

Paul's Third Mission Shipwrecked Double IPA - This is the only Mission brew that I had seen before tonight. I never got one before today and that has proved to be the wrong choice. This is a very smooth 9.2% ABV double IPA that I could drink a couple of in a night. This beer can be described as, the beer friend favorite, "dangerously drinkable." Find and enjoy this beer.

Phil's Third Mission Shipwrecked Double IPA - I've had this one before and I agree with Paul, it's dangerous. Of character for what we've had so far tonight, this one has a very quick and intense hop front that quickly retreats into a sweet overall taste with a small malty finish. Nowhere would this lead you to believe that it's a 9.2 ABV, that's the dangerous part. Or awesome part, really.

Paul's Fourth Mission IPA - This is a very straight forward IPA. It has a good hop flavor and a great malt taste to it. If you want to introduce the style of IPA to someone this is a beer you could grab. I don't mean to call it normal, but it encompasses what I think an American IPA tastes like.

Brad's Fourth Mission IPA - this is going to sound insulting, but it's a good middle of the road IPA. There is a strange bitterness that hits on the front, leaves and returns on the aftertaste which I don't know if I like.

Phil's Fourth Mission IPA - I don't think that's insulting, actually. Tis is a good, taste defining IPA for Mission. If your looking for a beer that is going to set the tone for your brewery I think this one is a pretty good choice. It does trend toward the sweet side of the hop flavor, but you can still tell that it's an IPA. Not a lot of malt flavor so you'll have to stay happy with the sweetness for your glass.

Think as to Idle Hands and Mission Brewery for another great night! Can't wait for the next one!

Beer Friends out!

Live Blog! Empire Brewing & Four Roses at Idle Hands NYC

Phil Foleen

Hello Beer Friends Nation! It's Live Bloggin' time! We are coming to you, once again, from Idle Hands Bar here in New York City for Empire Brewing Night (previous Idle Hands Event - Previous Rattle N Hum) with Four Roses in the guest spot. For now we are laying low and getting ready with a few Oskar Blues G'Knights and burgers from That Burger, but stay tuned for the festivities, there might be a couple we have never had!

Paul's First: Empire IPA (full pour) - Had this one last time at the $10 Tasting. It's what you expect for a staple IPA from a good craft brewery. A good beer I'd like to see in six packs around the city. Until then I will settle for a pint where I can get it around the city.

Brad's First: Empire IPA (full pour) - Always enjoyable and reliable to be a good pour - what I mean is that typically only quality beer bars carry this quality beer with clean lines. Delicious.

Phil's First: Empire IPA (Full Pour) - always a good bet and never disappoints. Well rounded IPA, not too strong but still gives you a nice hop flavor that keeps you thinking this is an IPA.

Graham's First: IPA - for some reason the bitterness in this one is a lot stronger than I remember. I still like it but it was a bit intense as a first pour. Go for this brew as long as you are down with a slight punch to the face.

Brad's Second: Empire White Aphro (small taste) - this delicious sample (two ounces) is a Belgian wheat with hints of lavender - and awesome, can't wait to get more

Phil's Second: Empire White Aphro (Small Taste) - yes. It is a Belgian beer and yes you can definitely tell from the smell and the first part of the flavor, but I've always said my least favorite part of a Belgian beer is the sweetness at the end, and this beers variety of ingredients covers that very nicely.

Graham's Second: White Aphro (small taste)- I'm still convinced I've seen this one before around the halls of the Pony Bar. Either way, they say it's new to NYC (the Pony always did get their hands on some mysterious brew) and I couldn't be happier. Spicy, Belgiany and floral. This brew would be refreshing to a volcano.

Paul's Second: White Aphro (small taste)- Great brew for the summer. Crisp and refreshing with a great floral flavor. This is Empire's answer to the bigger breweries white ales, and it blows them away. This is currently rare one around the city, I look forward to seeing it more.

Paul's Bourbon Taste: Four Roses Single Barrel - had not had Four Roses before this and I am sad to say that I incorrectly categorized them. For some reason I had this distillery pegged for one I did not like. I do not remember what lead me to think this way, but all I can say is I was wrong.... Very very wrong. I am a lover of single barrel bourbons and this one does not disappoint. I suggest this to those who like the taste of their bourbon.

Brad's Bourbon Taste: Four Roses Single Barrel - this is very smooth for a delicious bourbon. The main characteristic I find on a first taste of bourbon is the harshness (maybe I'm not seasoned enough) of the bourbon - some are harsh and overpowering and some are smooth and this falls in the latter category. Enjoyed this in the past and will continue to enjoy in the future.

Phil's Bourbon Taste: Four Roses single Barrel - it tastes like bourbon. I gave mine to Brad and Graham.

Graham Bourbon Taste - smooth, kind of fruity with a nice alcohol taste. Warms you right up with a pleasant flavor and a burn that lets you know you're still a man.

Paul's Third: Empire Summer (Small Taste) - Its a light summer beer. It is heavy on the pilsner malts, and I don't mean that as a bad thing. It's got a nice hop flavor at the beginning before the malts take over. It's an nice take on an American pilsner.

Brad's Third: Empire Summer (Small Taste) - a typical summer beer - light and easy to drink, perfect for a growler and summer concert in Central Park.

Phil's Third: Empire Summer (Small Taste) - nice summer from Empire. A good balance between the hops and the very present Pilsner breads taste. Nice and light with a hint of citrus from the lemon it's fermented with, all in all a great light beer to have on a Saturday afternoon in the sunshine.

Graham's Third: Empire Summer (Small Taste) - The first thing this brew says to me is bread. In a good way. The forward malt factor adds a nice depth that is carried by the refreshing quality of this brew. Good for a summer day when you want a beer that has some substance.

Paul's Fourth: Liv and Let Rye (full pour) - This is their new Rye IPA, this is a style that is relatively new and one that I am a big fan of. This one has a great hop character that mixes well with the rye malts. This has a great flavor that leaves you refreshed, it's a great beer that I could drink anytime.

Brad's Fourth: Liv and Let Rye (full pour) - I like this a lot- with the recent influx of Rye beers in the market, this stands in the middle of strong rye taste and smoothness. I'll be sure to enjoy this taste because I don't know when I'll see this again (hard to type with crossed fingers...)

Phil's Fourth: Liv and Let Rye (full pour) - yum yum yum. I love rye IPA's and this one is no slouch to the style. Double the rye over what is usually put in one of these let's the bitterness run wild with the hops and gives a fantastic overall taste.

Graham's Fourth: Liv and Let Rye (full pour) - this brew creates a conundrum in my mind. Most of the rye beers I've had are super in your face deliciouscity. Empire boasts that they use almost double the average rye malts compared to other rye brewers. However, this one is kind of low key in comparison. Maybe it's because the other ryes are brewed with extra hops for that intense flavor. When I heard double rye malts however, I thought punch in the face. Not quite.

Paul's Fifth: Empire Blueberry Ale (small pour) - For a blueberry beer, and I don't want to talk down to blueberry beers, this is excellent. Lots of blueberry beers lose the fruit flavor to the beer flavor, but this one... This holds the blueberry flavor throughout and reminds me more of another carbonated alcoholic beverage than it does a beer. This isn't a bad thing either, it's a great blueberry beer. If you are open to that sort of thing and come across this beer get yourself a pint.

Brad's Fifth: Empire Blueberry Ale (small pour) - This is very tasty - not too blueberry and not too weak. Having toured Maine and their blueberry beer obsession - this is right up there.

Phil's Fifth: Empire Blueberry Ale (small pour) - this one is not a fruited up as you think. Usually the blueberry beers you find are overly fruity with either not enough beer taste, or a strong beer flavor that completes with the fruit. This one toes that line, maybe straying onto the beer side more than the fruit, with a nice bitter flavor to counter the sweetness of the blueberries. Another good summer afternoon choice in my book.

Graham's Fifth: Empire Blueberry Ale (small pour) - I enjoyed the blueberry thoroughly. Very reserved but still present. Nicely refreshing but not too sweet. Exactly what you want a brewer to do with the king of fruits.

The Beer Friends Sixth: Empire IPA - purchased by Dave (the owner) and Liv ( the NYC rep) for the bar - because they are that awesome. Congratulations to creating great craft beer and the hard work put into every drop.

And here we are. Our Empire t-shirts to show our love!


Beer & Bourbon Tasting: Bronx Brewery

Beerfriend Paul

Tonight we went to a special $10 tasting at Idle Hands. We get to sample some of Bronx Brewery's finest. I've been looking forward to this since I read the Beer Event of the Week post. Paul's first - Bronx Pale Ale: The first taste on this journey is the base brew for the night and the most available of Bronx Brewery's beverages. This is a real good beer. I've had a few of these in the past few weeks and I really enjoy it. It's got a great flavor and doesn't overpower. This is a beer that I gravitate toward and I plan to keep it that way.

Graham's First - I really appreciate the dry bitter hop flavor alongside the sweet malty finish. Easily drinkable and fast to finish. I will be a happy man when this starts showing up more frequently on draft around the city.

Phil's First Bronx Pale Ale. It's a good starter. Slightly hoppy with a bit more on the sweet malty end in my book. It's a good solid pale ale that should taste pretty familiar to anyone that likes them.

Brad's First Bronx Pale Ale - enjoyable because it has a bite on the back end that's missing from typical Pale Ale.

Brad's Whiskey Woodford Reserve - this is a decent whiskey with a nice burn. Been trying to get into bourbon and this is certainly high on my list.

Paul's Whiskey Woodford Reserve - I agree with Brad about the burn. It is definitely there. It has a nice flavor to it. It kicks a little harder than than I am used to, it's definitely not bad but it may take some getting used to.

Phil's Whiskey Woodford Reserve - N/A

Graham's Whiskey Woodford Reserve - I like the burn. Let's you know you're alive. If you're used to it then you're doing something too right.

Paul's second - Bronx Bourbon Aged Pale Ale- Absolutely delicious! They took a good pale ale and made it one of the best beers I've had this year. The way bourbon affects the pale ale is incredible. This is a beer I will seek out again if it is ever available again.

Phil's 2nd Bronx Bourbon Aged Pale Ale - good god this is delicious! Everyone knows that I do NOT like bourbon, bourbon aged beer however is wonderful. Sweet to start off with the, the bourbon flavor takes over quickly and you don't look back. Finishes with a little hop taste and a good amount of the alcohol that bourbon lovers enjoy, but not too much to turn this beer guy off. Seek. This. Out.

Brad's Bronx Bourbon Barrel Aged Pale Ale it's a mouthful of a name that translates into silence from never wanting to talk again and drink this beer forever. Bronx Pale has a kick that I enjoy but can't enjoy more than one - the bourbon aging takes the kick out and mellows it out to a completely drinkable (on multiple levels) beverage. This is fantastic and I can't wait for their other stuff.

Graham's Third Bronx Bourbon aged Pale ale- ITS GREAT! It definitely takes the edge off the pale ale and replaces it with a smooth bourbony curve. The only problem is that I enjoyed the edge of the pale ale. I'm hit with equal parts disappointment and silky deliciousness. Still would prefer more bite.

Paul's meat! Slantshack Jerky- I certainly cannot claim to dissect beef jerky half as poorly as I can beer. This jerky is delicious (like that's a surprise). It's delicious beef jerky. I would get that again, I certainly plan on seeking out other flavor of Slantshack.

Brad's meat! Slantshack Jerky- Full disclosure... I'm uncomfortable talking about my meat online - but this was delicious aged in the Bronx Pale Ale - as someone who's recently gotten into pickling - I'm totally down with the process. Delicious but... Full disclosure... This is my first taste - is it all down from here?

Graham's meat! Slantshack Jerky- I enjoy me some jerky - staple of any good American road trip. This jerky isn't as flavorful at first but it evolves quickly in your mouth after you eat several hunks. All of a sudden you notice that the subtle spice and bourbon flavor has been growing this whole time - and you are powerless to stop it.

Phil's meat! Slantshack Jerky- I love jerky. Love it! This is some really good jerky, subtler than most that I've had, but the flavor fills out in a very nice way. Being aged in the Pale Ale is a nice touch and adds a good end to the flavor. I would take a couple of bags of this on any road tip.

Live Blog Bourbon and Beer Tasting at Idle Hands


It's Wednesday. That only means The Beer Friends are at Idle Hands. tonight's Bourbon and Beer tasting features Anderson Valley Brewing and McKenzies Rye - without further ado... Brad's Pre-Game(s) - Midnight Sun Hop Dog Double Wheat IPA - delicious from the largest state in the Union. Complex beer with a strawberry taste from the wheat(?).

Breckenridge Small Batch 471 Stranahan's Whiskey barrel aged - 2 for 2 on the Pre-Game. This is also very complex on the other end of the spectrum. This had a nice whiskey taste in the middle that doesn't linger.

Update: The final taste is like a shot... I dig that.

Paul's Pre-Game - Breckenridge Small Batch 471 Stranahan's Whiskey barrel aged - Absolutely spectacular! I have had IPA's that were oak aged, but I can't remember any that were aged in whiskey barrels. This is seriously great, another win for Breckenridge.

Brad's First - Anderson Valley Imperial IPA - delicious but not over powering. Reminds me of River Horse 2xIPA that might(...) be featured as a review in the next few weeks. At 8.7% it's dangerously smooth.

Paul's First - Anderson Valley Imperial IPA - Brad is right. Very tasty and won't kill you with hops. Very mellow for 100 IBU's. Dare I say "dangerously drinkable."

Brad's Second (just a taste) - Summer Solstice - a smooth cream wheat ale.  Nice taste that goes down smooth.

Paul's Second (just a taste) - Summer Solstice - Very tasty cream ale. It's slightly heavier than I thought for a summer ale, but it delivers. Very impressed by this beer so far, looking forward to the rest of the night.

Brad's Third (just a taste) - Anderson Valley Boont Amber - this is exactly what a Amber should be... Unbelievably smooth that's easy to drink and you don't think twice about.

Paul's Third (just a taste) - Anderson Valley Boont Amber - To call this normal sounds like an insult, but this beer is just what I want out of an Amber. A normal, delicious amber. I have enjoyed this brew before and I always look forward to enjoying it again.

Brad's Last - Anderson Valley Oatmeal Stout - awesome... Very smooth for a non-milk stout - easy to drink and delicious - are you sure this isn't a milk stout?

Paul's fourth (FULL POUR!) - Anderson Valley Oatmeal Stout - This is a hard beer to talk about. It's a very good stout, but there are so many great Oatmeal Stouts out there and this is one that is light on the oatmeal. I do not mean to disparage this beer, because it is good, but to be called an oatmeal Stout conjures up feelings about other oatmeal stouts, and it is hard to live up to the hype.

Live Blog! Bourbon and Beer Night at Idle Hands Bar: Sierra Nevada edition

Phil Foleen

It's Live Bloggerin' time!!!! (Phil's kinda excited for The Avengers). Hello Beer Friends Nation! Here we are again for our current favorite live blogging beer event at Idle Hands Bar in New York City welcoming Sierra Nevada to the stage. For now were are chilling with a couple of pre-gamers:

Phil's -1 Sierra Nevada Torpedo - alright I know this is why we're here, BUT I personally kicked two kegs for my first round just looking for a beer, so lay off. The only thing I have for this one is its actually got a bit of a spice note (talking like I know liquor). Pretty good actually and not what I was expecting, but I dont know if it's for real or a trick of the taps. I'll let you know when I have it again for the event.

Brad's -1 Troegs Nugget Nectar - I dig this beer. It's the only double/imperial Red I can remember because it's delicious. A deeper taste than any red (hence the double) it's still incredibly smooth. The downside is it's higher ABV (7ish) and I have a empty stomach. The latter part of this live blog might get interesting...

Phil's First Kellerweis - alright, I know everyone knows I'm not the biggest fan of German/wheat beers. This one included, BUT off the tap it's not so bad. I like the unfiltered part, there is a good bunch of bananas at the beginning, bane of my existence, but the most intriguing thing is I detect a distinct after taste of corn breakfast cereal that keeps me coming least till the end of this glass (thank god for 8 oz pours).

Brad's First Kellerweis - I like it! As explained to us by the Sierra Nevada guy, this is a unfiltered, open aired German wheat beer which allows for the yeast to germinate naturally. I like it but couldn't do them all the time, fortunately not a lot of American breweries are into this so I'll have to stick in the good ol' US of A

Phil and Brad's 2nd and 3rd Pale Ale & Ruthless Rye - what else can we say? Solid stand by brews, always take the Ruthless over the Pale. (insert shameless self plug of our own review)

Phil's 4th Hoptimum 2012 - So I love this one. Good bright and hoppy flavor with enough malts at the back that it doesn't dry you out, but not too much to overtake any of the flavor. Good competition for Torpedo in my opinion. I agree with the Sierra Nevada guy in that it's a very deceptive 10% ABV. You should probably pick this up when you see it.

Brad's 4th Hoptimum 2012 - Interesting... I believe this is the first year of this brew. It's like me signing my name "Brad 1981" every time. The hop taste is delicious - I feel it's like Sixpoint Resin but sweeter. I dig this beer - but the ABV is dangerous.

Phil's Last Torpedo - yes I know again, but I already told you that story. Always a classic, now my fourth fav from Sierra (thanks to Hoptimum), but definitely still pleases. Again the weird part is getting that slightly spicy note from the back end of the taste. Never really seen it before, but I'm not against it either. A good way to finish up the night, and if you haven't picked this one up in cans yet,do it.

Brad's Last Torpedo - yep. same old same old. This is a delicious beer. This was the first beer we reviewed and recently did a cans vs bottles taste test with it (look for the video in the upcoming days). I don't get the same spicy note Phil gets but he's weird like that. At least he only mentioned he didn't like Belgian beers once during this live blog...

Thanks for joining us tonight! Can't wait for the next one, thanks Idle Hands and Sierra Nevada!

P.S. Did I mention I don't like Belgian beers? Phil

P.P.S. Brad: "Two!"