Fill It or Spill It

Posts Tagged ‘beer’

Suarez Family Brewery

In breweries on July 21, 2016 at 6:20 pm

I love getting the chance to visit new breweries.  It’s great to see a brewery at the very beginning and then follow their progression.  The newest brewery on my list is Suarez Family Brewery.  The new brewery is the creation of Dan and Taylor Suarez.  I first learned about SFB from: “A Beer With Dan Suarez from Suarez Family Brewing “.    Dan was a brewer at the world famous Hill Farmstead Brewery, so his credentials speak for themselves.  I’m lucky to see that brewers tree grow branches into NY because it’s a lot closer than VT for me.


The taproom at SFB looked great.  It looked like you walked into your buddy’s house who has some delicious beer on tap.  The area outside the brewery makes you forget your in New York.  The brewery is in an ideal location to sit and relax with great beer.


Dan and Tay were kind enough to spare some time to talk to me and let me into their world as they run the brewery.  Dan took me around the brewery and showed me some of the barrels he has filled with deliciousness.   He plans to make beers with locally grown ingredients like sour cherries, sumac (if you’ve been following the SFB Instagram), and other locally grown goodies.  There will be beers with different variants including different fruits, different blends and beers with varying time in barrels.  Not to mention brewing beers with ingredients not a lot of people brew with like buckwheat.  Needless to say, he’s got some beers everybody should be excited to try.


It was awesome talking to Dan because he’s a true aficionado.  He was telling me about doing a beer with sour cherries and then he explained how using cherries with pits adds more complexity to the flavor.  I never thought about how much flavor a cherry pit could add to a beer.  He schooled me on why he enjoyed Drie Fonteinen Kriek because of details like that.  Coincidentally, I had drank a 3F Kriek a few days before my conversation with Dan, so the beer was fresh in my mind.  He gave me a new appreciation for the flavors in the beer.  A few minutes with him show he’s got the chops to make world class beer because he’s paying attention to things other people probably aren’t even thinking about.

I was also fortunate enough to meet Tay, her dad and her sister who poured beers, filled growlers, and entertained patrons like me.   Tay told me they want to keep six beers on tap at the brewery.  I saw five on tap during my visit and got try three of them:

Hecto – Dry hopped pale ale.  My favorite of the beers I got to try.  It had an aroma that was lemony, bright and clean.  The hoppiness in this beer had a citrus-lime bitterness, which was refreshing and accompanied by some cracked wheat notes.  I want to drink this beer all the time.


Crispy Little – Pale wheat ale.  This beer lived up to the name.  It has a soft hoppiness upfront with a clean tasting wheat backbone.  It’s the perfect beer when you need a hop fix, but aren’t looking for a hop bomb.


Walk, Don’t Run – Dry-hopped blonde ale with Mouteka and Nelson hops.  Another beer to kick up your feet and stare at the clouds.  Nelson hops are one of my favorite hops, so their bright, grassy presence was a win for me.  There was a little sweetness in the beer that paired well with the hops.  I should’ve gotten a growler of this too, but alas I didn’t.

(Unfortunately, I crushed this one without a pic.  If it’s any consolation, it would’ve filled this empty glass.)


Verdict: Obviously, FILL IT!  Fill as many glasses and growlers as you can with beers for the Suarez Family Brewery.  They have a clear vision for their brewery and are already making beer worth seeking out.   I have no doubts that it will be one of the best breweries in NY in the near future.  The taproom is cool, the beer is great, and the family is wonderful.  If you can, visit Dan and Tay and try some of their delicious beers.  I know I will.



Did Social Media Kill Beer Blogs?

In Beer Thought, Uncategorized on June 22, 2016 at 2:25 pm


Are beer blogs dead?  I’m not one for sensationalist headlines.  In fact, they annoy the hell out of me because it always seems like desperation.  However, this is a sincere question and an seemingly odd one coming from a beer blogger.

I stopped blogging for a while for a lot of reasons, but one reason was I really started using social media.  Like much of the world, I started getting updates, news, and mindless entertainment on apps like Twitter.  The apps, as silly as they seemed, became useful for more than inane information.

It was easy to comment on beer I was drinking on Twitter,  Untappd, or in a beer forum.  I was commenting on beer as I was enjoying it.  Even though my comments were shorter, they felt more accurate.  After doing that, it didn’t seem necessary to sit and blog about the beer.

The world we live in has a short attention span. It’s much easier for you to see me give a beer 3.25 stars on an app than read a blog post.  Who has time for that?   Do you want to hear pretentious comments about a beer or its head retention? Maybe.  Actually, I sure hope so.

The truth is there are plenty of blogs (beer related and otherwise) that are worth reading. The abbreviated outlets social media offer are cool, but they are just snacks.  A really good beer blog is more like a good sandwich.  You can always count on it to satisfy your craving.

I think social media is great, but there’s going to be something inherently missing from a tweet, sneep, bloop or whatever.  Beer blogs aren’t dead.   Read it all and enjoy it all (especially this one).

Guess Who’s Back?

In Uncategorized on June 13, 2016 at 11:32 pm

It feels like I just walked in to an old apartment.  My stuff is exactly where I left it.  It feels different, but it feels familiar.

A lot of stuff has happened since my last post.  A lot of beers have been consumed,  many places have been visited, and other non-beer related things have happened.  Life (mostly) has kept me from actively posting these last few years.  I’ve always thought about creating new posts, but never got around to it.  I don’t know why.  Maybe I didn’t feel like it would be good enough.  Maybe my heart wasn’t in it any more.  Who knows.

I’m a writer at heart, so the allure of sharing my opinions on beer related things pulled me back in. So, I’m back.  I’m not the same dude who started the blog.  Many of you following this blog from the start aren’t the same readers.

I’m not exactly sure what that means for the blog going forward.  I’m here to try to figure it out.  Hopefully, you’ll stick around to see what comes next.  At a minimum, whatever it is should be mildly amusing.


Beer Thought: What is the worst brewery?

In Beer Thought on May 19, 2013 at 9:50 pm

I’m trying something new for this post.  I thought I’d take a break from reviewing beer this week and do an “editorial”.   Someone asked me an interesting question recently and I couldn’t answer it right away.  So, I thought about it and wanted to post it for everyone to read and ponder.

On twitter, @blacksheepsquad asked me what is the worst brewery?  I had never really thought about it before.  I know there are beers that I dislike and definitely styles of beers I don’t care for, but never which brewery I don’t like.  The easy answer would be the macros because those beers are awful, but it isn’t the right answer.

If you notice, on the blog I don’t have many “Spill It”s and that is almost on purpose.  The reason I don’t is: I won’t spend money on things I don’t like.  I’m not going to spend money on let’s say a sixer of lagers because I don’t particularly care for them.  Every once in a while I will try beers I don’t like to either reinforce why I don’t like them or to try a particularly special one.   Honestly, who wants to pour a beer knowing they won’t like it?  Not me.

I usually drink beer  based on the mood I’m in.  Chances are if it is 90 degrees outside, I probably won’t be drinking an imperial stout.  So, I have my favorite beers within a particular style.   I may prefer an IPA from one brewery and not like their stout or vice-versa, but does that mean it is a bad brewery?  Does that mean it is a bad beer?  Probably not.  What I dislike someone else may love.

In terms of breweries, I also have my favorites just like anyone else.  I love Dogfish because of the far out things they do with beer.  I don’t like all of their beers, but I can always appreciate the attempt to try something new.    There are plenty of breweries I have never tried and might make the greatest beer ever.  Sometimes it is more than beer that makes you like a brewery.  Maybe it is a hometown brewery or you like that the brewery is eco-friendly.  Conversely, you may dislike a brewery for reasons other than beer.   I recently had a bad experience with a brewery’s rude beer rep, which made me decide to never drink their beers.  (if you follow me on twitter you know who it is).

In this world of craft beer, I don’t think there is a worst brewery.  There are too many kinds of beer that too many people make for there to be a worst brewery.  Craft beer just by its name implies a dedication to the craft of beer making.  If a brewery made bad beer then it would probably go out of business pretty quickly.   Drinking beer is too personal an experience for me to name a “worst”.  My advice, try as many beers as possible from as many breweries as possible.


Spain Series – Beer Spot: Fabrica Maravillas

In Beer Spot, Spain Series on May 6, 2013 at 11:01 pm

My latest beer adventure took me to Spain.  Spain is more known for paella and sangria than it is for beer, but that didn’t stop me for searching for good beer.   After doing some research on the beer scene in Spain, I got excited because there seemed to be no shortage of beer places.  Bottle shops, brew pubs, beer bars, Spain seemed to have it all.  One of my stops in Spain was Madrid and that is when I found Fabrica Maravillas.


Fabrica Maravillas seemed like a really cool brewpub in Madrid that is new to the beer scene.  According to the website, the brewpub opened in November 2012.   I didn’t have much time in Madrid, so I made it a point to pay a visit to FM.  The FM brewpub was cool.  It had modern decor and wasn’t your average dive beer place, which was a relief.  Behind the bar was one of the brewers, Thierry (I think that’s how you spell it) who was a cool guy.  He spoke to me about his background and all the beers he had on tap.  I decided my first Spanish beer would have to be an IPA.  I chose the (FL)IPA.

20130420_110518The (FL)IPA was a golden yellow color with plenty of fluffy, white head.  The ABV on this brew was 7%, so it had the right amount  of ABV in an IPA.  Aroma was fresh smelling hops, almost flowery.  The first sip had some nice bitterness upfront and little citrus sweetness in the finish.  A solid IPA that I wish I could find here at home.

The next brew came at the recommendation of Thierry.  He said I had to try the amber that was on tap.  Please note, he was a lot more enthusiastic and used a few more colorful words to describe how good it was.  It was great to see how enthusiastic he was about the beer.  Sometimes the person who serves you beer isn’t the person that actually brewed the beer, so they will just serve the beer.  I enjoy a brewer serving me beers because they’ll give you a heart felt reason as to why you should try the beer because they helped brew it.

The Amber had a nice brownish amber color with a significant amount of thick head.  The aroma was slightly malty accompanied by hoppyness.  I don’t recall what the ABV was on this brew, but it was not a high ABV.  First sip made me realize why Thierry raved about this beer.  It was really easy to drink.  The bitterness from the hops came through very subtly with a really smooth finish.  I could’ve definitely knocked back a few of these.  20130420_112624

If you are ever in Madrid, you should pay Fabrica Maravillas a visit.  The beers are really good and the place is really chill.  They have a solid beer lineup that includes a saison, triple, quad and an imperial stout.  I was a little annoyed because I was told the quad was coming the week after I left, so I just missed it.  I didn’t get to try any of the other beer because we were on a short timetable, but I really wish I had more time to sit and try them all.  Beer is easily accessible in Spain, but really good beer takes a little more effort to find.  It’s a shame I won’t be having any FM beers for a while because I am now a fan.  Support your local (international) brewers!

Monster Mash

In New Jersey on March 24, 2013 at 9:40 pm


Another beer from Brian Boak and BOAKS Beer.  If you have read earlier posts, you will know that I’ve had the opportunity to hang out with Brian and talk beer.  Subsequently, I’ve had the chance to run into Brian at a few different beer events and gotten to chat about beer.  One of the first beers we talked about was Monster Mash.

Monster Mash is a Russian Imperial stout, so it pours black.  There wasn’t a whole lot of head, but it had a fair amount of tan creamy head and dissipated almost completely.  At 10% ABV, this will definitely be a beer you sit and hang out with for a while.

The aroma had a good maltyness to it, accompanied with some dark chocolate aroma.  There was a little bit of alcohol in the nose, but surprisingly not as much as you would expect for double digit ABV.

The taste is strong chocolate upfront  along with a little coffee roastyness to it.  There was some dark chocolate dryness in the finish with  a good amount of bitterness.  It is a pretty easy drink with all the bold flavors going on and the alcohol is hidden well.

Verdict: Fill It!  My introduction to BOAKS was a few years ago at the Great International Beerfest in Secaucus, NJ and that first beer was Monster Mash.  It turns out, a lot of people are introduced to BOAKS by Monster Mash and that’s a good first impression.  Brian Boak recently unveiled some aged Monster Mash at an anniversary party, which must have been a real treat for the folks that got to try some.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t make it, so it looks like I’ll have to age some myself.  We’ll see if the bottles make it that long.

Support you local brewers!


Ireland Series: Knockmealdown Porter

In Ireland Series on February 10, 2013 at 10:47 pm


I was recently reminiscing about my trip to Ireland and remembered I still had a few beers to review.  While getting my fill of Guinness, I was always on the look out of for something else.  I really wanted something to break the delicious monotony.  Oddly enough I stumbled upon some Irish craft beers in a wine bar.  This beer was created by 8 Degrees Brewing, a brewery in Cork Ireland.

No need to describe the color, it was a porter.  The beer didn’t have a whole lot of head, just a little bit of tan head that dissipated quickly.  The beer was pretty light on ABV at 5%.  The majority of the beers I had in Ireland were light on ABV.

The aroma upfront was almost entirely coffee.  There were some subtle chocolate notes, but not much else.  The aroma was not complex at all, which is not a bad thing.

The first sip was just like the aroma and hits with coffee.  The coffee and roasted notes were followed by the chocolate notes in the middle.   The finish was strong and bitter but not unpleasant.  Just like the aroma, the taste was not overly complex and that made it a really easy to drink.

Verdict: Fill It! This was a good porter.  To me, it was a great example of Irish craft beer.  It was really easy to drink, not complex and just meant to be enjoyed.  Sometimes a beer is just a beer and doesn’t have to be examined.  I was lucky enough to bring one of these back home, so I was able to re-live my Ireland trip through beer.  You better believe if I ever make it back to Ireland, I will definitely pick have one of these.  Hopefully, next time I’ll be able to take a trip to Cork and visit the brewery.  Cheers!


In Delaware on January 13, 2013 at 10:53 pm


Fort was one of those Dogfish beers, I kept hearing about and had to try.  As far as I could tell, this is not a regular release, so finding one would not be easy.  Luckily, I found one lonely bottle on the shelf of a bottle shop and I couldn’t pass it up.  Deciding to open this beer meant I had to clear my schedule.

The beer poured a nice red color with fluffy white head  and tons of carbonation.  This beer had one of those infamous green bottle caps which meant it was one of DFH’s high ABV beers.  It weighed in at 18%, so I was not going to get much done after the first sip.

Upfront was all raspberry sweetness followed by straight booze. At such a high ABV, I would imagine it was hard to avoid the alcohol smell.  It tasted a little syrupy, which made it tough to enjoy.  The tartness from the raspberries made the sweetness a little easier to tolerate.  However, there was no escaping the taste of booze.  At least there was always that alcohol warmth in the finish to keep me company.

Verdict: Spill It.  DFH is my favorite brewery, but I could not enjoy this beer.  As always, I appreciate the attempt of trying to push this beer to its limit, but this did not work.  The heavy booze and the sweetness left me feeling like I was drinking cough syrup.  Fort would benefit from aging to calm the booze and sweetness down a bit.  I would not recommend trying this straight out of the bottle unless you like syrupy and sweet.  I would buy this again just for the sake of aging because I’m curious if it would get any better with age.  The DFH website doesn’t show this as a release this year, but it is still early.  Hopefully I can get my hands on another bottle and do a re-visit in a few years.

Especially Snarky Bull (ESB)

In New Jersey on January 8, 2013 at 12:12 am


It’s been a little while since my last post, but those holidays really threw me off my rhythm.  The first post of 2013 will be on Bolero Snort.  I  read that Bolero Snort is working on finalizing some launch events (hopefully) this week.  Like other NJ beer nerds, I’m excited to finally be able to find Bolero Snort beers for sale.  So, I thought why not do a post on Bolero Snort?

Especially Snarky Bull (ESB) is a cask-style ESB.  To be honest, this was my first ESB beer.  The style never interested me enough to try.  The title “extra strong/special bitter” just really didn’t appeal to me.  However, like last time, I had to trust that Bob wouldn’t steer me wrong.

The beer poured a good amber color and had tons of sudsy, white head.  The carbonation was really active and there was  nice lacing and retention.  The ABV was 5.1%, so it was a sessionable beer.

The  aroma had a subtle, piney hoppyness.  The aroma also had a solid malt backbone, but it was not overly aromatic.  The taste had a sharp bitterness upfront that smoothed out in the finish.  I was afraid there would be some extra bitterness or something overpowering, but not at all.  The hops were balanced out  with a little bit of malt sweetness in the finish.

Verdict: Fill It!  Bolero Snort strikes again.  I really liked this beer and wish I had a 6er of it because it’s a great all-purpose beer.  I don’t drink ESBs regularly, so I don’t know how it stacks up against other ESBs.  I don’t know if it is a great representation of the style, all I know is I liked it and that’s all that counts.  Hopefully, the folks reading this post will be able to support Bolero Snort at the their upcoming events and going forward.  Congratulations to Bob and Andrew on the upcoming launch and here’s to good beer.  Support your local brewers!

Duvel Rustica

In Belgium, New York on December 16, 2012 at 9:44 pm


On a random beer run, I came across Duvel Rustica from Ommegang.  I hadn’t heard anything about it, so I wasn’t looking for it and surprised when I saw it.  I like Duvel and I am a fan of Ommegang, so why not give this beer a try?

The beer poured a clear, straw-yellow color with some fizzy white head.  It had really fast-moving carbonation, so that Belgian yeast must have really been busy.  The ABV is pretty stout at 8.5%, so not a beer you want to turn your back on.

The aroma is classic Belgian ale.  The nose was full of yeast aroma mixed with some wheat notes and a little spicy kick.  It was pretty light with a slight fruity hops aroma.

It was a very light tasting beer with some barely there citrus sweetness.  There was also a little spiciness accompanied by some wheat notes.  It was very similar to a saison, but to be honest not a good one.  It had a bland Belgian beer taste.  It tasted almost watered down taste and was not overly complex.  On the bright side, the alcohol was really nicely hidden.

Verdict: Spill it!  This pained me to have to do, but I just was not a fan of this beer.  Ommegang is one of my favorite breweries, but this beer was a big let down.  A collaboration between Duvel and Ommegang sounds like a good idea, but the execution wasn’t there.  It tasted like a cheap saison and I did not enjoy it.  There are a ton of other Ommegang beers I would rather spend my money on.  Without question there are definitely better Belgian-style or Belgian beers to try.  If you’re curious give it a try, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.