It was SAAZ’s night out (Akron’s Homebrew Club) at the new Ray’s Place at 25 Ghent Rd. Fairlawn OH 44333. The last time this happened I heard only two guys showed up, they didn’t know each other so they never found each other. I made sure to dress like I did at the last meeting (though yes, I do change my clothes.)
I sat at the bar seeing if I recognized any club members and got started with a pint of New Belgium Ranger IPA. I believe it was Jesse that told me about this beer. This was a good beer. Light in body, but very hoppy. Well balanced in that you didn’t have that harsh hop bitterness at the end. This is a 6.5% ABV and 70 IBU beer with Cascade, Simcoe and Chinook. This was easy-drinking for an IPA – which I like.
After I got a pint of the Ranger IPA, dude came over to me at the bar and said, “Ron, we’re sitting over here…with flights!” Hey! I knew if I wore the same clothes somebody might recognize me…either that or the mountain-man look. Anyways, ‘dude’ was Chris from SAAZ. I was jealous that they had flights so I got my own.
Chris was with his wife Emily and they were joined by Jeff and his wife Amanda. So just the five of us.
Rays’ Place specializes in draft, craft beer. Lot’s of tap handles, lot’s of craft beer. The beer list had to be around 50-80 beers on draft. I came here hoping to sample some beers that are commercially produced that I have made recently.
My first flight was:
Left Hand Brewing Co’s Milk Stout – Nytro’d.
A nice, very smooth and creamy stout. No complaints.
Fat Head’s Bumble Berry.
I purposefully got this beer as I have made several fruit beers lately and wanted a comparison. This is a ‘honey blueberry’ ale. Fruit ales can tend to be ‘too fruity’. This one was spot-on. Just enough blueberry to know it’s there – which is how I like to make fruit beers. Bumble Berry didn’t seem to be artificially sweetened either which is good.
Ballast Point Habanero Sculpin
YUM! I have been wanting to brew a ‘hot beer’. This is the first one I have ever tried and it did not disappoint. 7% ABV with 70 IBU’s and just enough Habanero to ‘know’ that it’s hot. This went down easy as it was a lighter IPA – I picked up the heat before the hop bitterness which I liked. I don’t see this working in a heavy IPA-type recipe. I was thinking of doing this as a Pilsner but with Jalapenos.
The last on this flight was Thirsty Dog’s Rail Dog.
This beer is supposed to be a smoked black lager. So I’m thinking light in body with a touch of smokiness. No. This is nearly a porter. Not too easy-drinking. It’s decent, but not what’s expected from a ‘lager’ in the title. I’ve had a few smoked beers lately and I’m not a fan…perhaps a touch less smokiness so it’s actually subtle. Tasting this has me ideas for an actual black lager to brew…
Onto the next flight…
Flying Monkey’s Smashbomb IPA
*Caution, this is a terrible ‘flash’ website.
This is another 6% ABV IPA with 70 IBU’s – seems to be a magic number amongst brewers. It’s another solid IPA…but…lately they are all tasting the same…
Saugatuck Brewing’s Neopolitan Milk Stout
Wow! It’s really Neopolitan! Vanilla, Strawberry AND Chocolate…none of which are overpowering but all of which are there. The stout base is light and smooth so the flavors can come out. This is one of my favorites.
Magner’s Irish Cider
I had to do this one as I make ciders. I find many commercial ciders unacceptably sweet. This was a good cider. I could drink this all-day. It had a touch of sweetness, so I’m not sure if it’s lactose added or not. Ciders ferment out very dry usually. From the website there is no artificial flavors added. Is lactose and ‘artificial flavor’?
Stone’s Smoked Porter with Chipotle
I picked up the chipotle in this – so it lives up to it’s name. This is a nice porter that is also smoked. Homebrewers, the smokiness comes from peat-smoked malt, something that I haven’t tried yet. The chipotles do work nice with this style.
Chris, Emily, Amanda and Jeff made this tasting waaay fun. They all know their beers and Chris needs to get his judging certification. We all had lot’s of good ideas to improve the SAAZ club – getting brewers in on a semi-regular basis, having ‘tastings’ of certain styles and brewers bringing in samples to taste, having raffles every meeting to get more people to show…etc. There has been a changing of the guard with a new board elected. It’s going to be a good year at the club.
Thanks for a good time! I would recommend Ray’s Place for the beer sampling (I didn’t get food). The waitress and waiter were excellent – and fun. They labeled all the beers brought out which made remembering what you got a lot easier.