Archive for August, 2011

The First Pour: Stone IPA

Posted: August 29, 2011 in Beer Menu

Cicero’s understands that when it come to beer, most people’s favorite is the latest and greatest new beer. Very few beer lovers drink the same beer over and over again. Sure, you might go back to an old standard, but you always try the latest beer first. For that reason, and others, Cicero’s changes their menu every week. When kegs kick, we change them up, unless we decide to keep it tapped for a while longer because it kicked so fast. With that in mind, we strive to keep you, our customers informed on our weekly changes. The “First Pour” series of blog posts will highlight and review the newest beers we have on draft for you. We have a really great enthusiastic beer drinker and Beer School graduate, Mike Vecchio, writing these posts for us. If you see him around, make sure and thank him for his hard work.

By Mike Vecchio

Stone IPA (India Pale Ale)
ABV: 6.9%
Hops: Columbus, Chinook, & Centennial
IBUs: 77
Released: August 1997

I figured what better a way to start a blog post about Stone’s IPA than with their recent love letter to St. Louis. The following is what you’ll be able to find on the back of soon-to-be-released 750’s of Stone’s IPA hitting your neighborhood beer stores:

Hey St. Louis. It’s us. At Stone. What’s up? We’re here now. yes, self-evident of course, considering you’re holding this in your hand and that you’re here in St. Louis too. What might not be so self-evident (although it is to us) is that we’re stoked to be here! VERY stoked. It feels like it’s been a long time coming (as some of our STL fans have been gently, and sometimes not-quite-so-gently, reminding us for a while). Last year Greg (our CEO) was invited out by the St. Louis chapter of the Master Brewers Association of America to give a talk. His reputation might have preceded him a little however, as he got a number of phone calls and emails from folks in advance saying essentially “We should let you know that there’s some sensitivity around here… things aren’t like what they used to be, and it’s a tough time for some folks with all the changes.” No prob. Understood. While we’ve certainly poked some fun at the beer industry for time to time, we have no intention to make it personal. Well, as long as nobody tries to get us to drink anything other than a true craft beer… there’s no negotiation on that front. In fact, that’s how we approach our brewing art. No negotiation. It’s our way… or you’re free to choose something else if it’s not your thing. There’s more choice than ever before, and it’s a beautiful thing. Choice, variety & character. It’s what makes this country truly great, and no one knows that better than the great folks in St. Louis. We’re stoked to be among your choice in the wonderful state of MO. Where you are now, holding this bottle. We hope you enjoy our beers. We’re really happy to be here!
Well that gives you an idea of the fact that you (as a St. Louis craft beer drinker) are a  highly respected and sought after demographic. Take a minute to savor that thought, it’s powerful. Bet the moment would be even sweeter if you had a Stone IPA in your hand. I assure you it would (I’m nursing a Stone while writing this). Well now that you’re feeling all self-indulgent, take a peak at what’s in store for you if you’ve never had Stone’s IPA before.True to the West Coast (American) India Pale Ale style, Stone’s IPA packs a notable hop, bitterness, and ABV punch. The beer pours out a clear yellow in color with a light head on top. The aroma off the beer is decadent, floral, and really showcases those traditional West Coast hop varieties. The dry hopping allows for more prominent tones of citrus, pine, and maybe some light woody characteristics as well. The taste of the beer is similar to that showcased in the aroma, it’s a homage to hops and easily overpowers the malt profile of the beer. Mostly the beer tastes of citrus and piney hops and swallows with a dry finish with lingering hop resin on the tongue. Overall the drink of this beer is great for those hop heads/IPA lovers who are more taken by the West Coast (compared to East Coast or English style) variety of the beer style. It has a low enough ABV to allow this beer to be enjoyed with a spicy dinner (I’m thinking of Cicero’s buffalo chicken strips) or your session beer for a night on the town. Either way, enjoy this beer off the tap and make sure to look for those St. Louis specific 750 bottles over the coming months.
About the Author  Mike moved to St Louis from Ohio in 2008 and got interested in craft beer thanks to local staples like Schlafly and O’Fallon. He credits Cicero’s Beer School for the evolution of his tastes from highly hopped IPAs to a range of stouts and traditional hefeweizens. When he’s not drinking a beer, Mike enjoys trying to teach his dog not to bark at everything that moves, reading about crime, and home brewing with his co-workers (whoops that involves drinking a beer).

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The First Pour: O’Fallon Wheach

Posted: August 25, 2011 in Beer Menu

Cicero’s understands that when it come to beer, most people’s favorite is the latest and greatest new beer. Very few beer lovers drink the same beer over and over again. Sure, you might go back to an old standard, but you always try the latest beer first. For that reason, and others, Cicero’s changes their menu every week. When kegs kick, we change them up, unless we decide to keep it tapped for a while longer because it kicked so fast. With that in mind, we strive to keep you, our customers informed on our weekly changes. The “First Pour” series of blog posts will highlight and review the newest beers we have on draft for you. We have a really great enthusiastic beer drinker and Beer School graduate, Mike Vecchio, writing these posts for us. If you see him around, make sure and thank him for his hard work.

By Mike Vecchio

O’Fallon Wheach
Style: American Wheat/Fruit Beer
Alcohol: 5.1% ABV
Bitterness: 7 IBUs
Grain: Pilsner, White Wheat, Bonlander
Hops: Glacier

It used to be that the annual March release of O’Fallon Brewing Company’s (O’Fallon, Missouri) Wheach was the cue that spring was finally here after another long winter. Well spring has long since past, but good news thirsty readers! Not only does O’Fallon have kegs of Wheach flowing again, but they have decided that this year will be the pilot run of Wheach YEAR ROUND!! So if you don’t already foam at the mouth for this beer (like a co-worker of mine), then strap in for the King of all peach wheat beers (honored as the Riverfront Times ‘2007 Best Beer in St. Louis’).

Wheach pours out a hazy golden yellow with a fluffy white head perched on top. The aroma off this beer is as if you were to stick you head into a bushel barrel full of perfectly ripe peaches. You can almost feel the soft peach fuzz on the inside of you nose each time you take a sniff. The taste this beer is smooth, peachy, and lightly sweet. The beer is slightly dry on the swallow and it has a pop of peach tartness and bready wheat flavors that creep in at the end. The drink of this beer is refreshing and truly sessionable. I can think of nothing other to survive those St Louis days where the heat index goes well into the triple digits. Overall the nose of the beer is bold, but the drink of Wheach makes it an all-star beer to enjoy all throughout the year.
FYI – Wheach is now only available at Cicero’s in cans. They have a pretty good six pack price too!


About the Author  Mike moved to St Louis from Ohio in 2008 and got interested in craft beer thanks to local staples like Schlafly and O’Fallon. He credits Cicero’s Beer School for the evolution of his tastes from highly hopped IPAs to a range of stouts and traditional hefeweizens. When he’s not drinking a beer, Mike enjoys trying to teach his dog not to bark at everything that moves, reading about crime, and home brewing with his co-workers (whoops that involves drinking a beer).


Cicero’s understands that when it come to beer, most people’s favorite is the latest and greatest new beer. Very few beer lovers drink the same beer over and over again. Sure, you might go back to an old standard, but you always try the latest beer first. For that reason, and others, Cicero’s changes their menu every week. When kegs kick, we change them up, unless we decide to keep it tapped for a while longer because it kicked so fast. With that in mind, we strive to keep you, our customers informed on our weekly changes. The “First Pour” series of blog posts will highlight and review the newest beers we have on draft for you. We have a really great enthusiastic beer drinker and Beer School graduate, Mike Vecchio, writing these posts for us. If you see him around, make sure and thank him for his hard work.

By Mike Vecchio

Stone Arrogant Bastard Ale (American strong ale)
ABV: 7.2%
Hops: Classified
IBUs: Classified
Released: November 1997

To drink Stone’s Arrogant Bastard Ale, or read a review of it, you must agree to the following:

1.  I am aware that the following beer review may contain images/descriptions of full frontal arrogance.
2.  I am not a fizzy yellow beer drinker here under false pretenses.
3.  I indemnify Stone Brewing Co. and all its affiliates from any damages to my ego I may incur from viewing/reading this material.
4.  I am 21 or older and legally entitled to read about great beer.

I have read the above statements and I certify that I:
Accept | Do Not Accept

There’s something about reading about Stone’s most popular, egomaniacal, and aggressive ale that really does put you in an arrogant mood. But being in an arrogant mood isn’t just acceptable at this moment – it’s celebrated. The fine people at Stone Brewing Company from San Diego county California brew this fine beer and I heard that they’re currently doubting your ability to appreciate and enjoy the sophistication of this beer. In fact, they may likely be doubting your ability to even read a beer review or form a coherent and intelligible sentence. So they instead invite you to go ahead to keep drinking beer that’s closer to the classic mantra: “Tastes great! Less filling!” On that note, if you don’t like this beer – Stone honestly prints on their bottles of Arrogant Bastard that you should “keep it to yourself – we don’t want to hear from any sniveling yellow-swill-drinkin’ wimps, ’cause Arrogant Bastard wasn’t made for you.” So proceed with caution reading the review and with saddling up to the bar and ordering this flagship beer.

Arrogant Bastard Ale is an American strong ale by style and is Stone’s attempt to help the beer drinking population to break away from mass-produced style of American Adjunct Light Lager. The beer pours out brownish-red in color with a thick and heavy off-white head on top. On a good draft pour from Cicero’s, you’ll find that the head may not dissipate throughout the duration of the drink. The smell of this bastard (I’m clearly getting a kick out of being able to use this in a technical fashion) is slightly sweet – with tones of caramel malts and a slight pop of citrus hops underneath. You may ask yourself, what does liquid arrogance taste like? Well, it’s arrogance we’re talking about….so powerful and strong, but surprisingly well balanced and sneaky with regards to playfully hiding it’s higher ABV. At first taste the beer smacks you upfront with a strong citrus hop bite. Then you get pleasant sweet caramel and roasty – almost nutty – tones throughout the drink with a clean-dry finish on the swallow. There’s a notable amount of hop oil which lingers on the tongue after the swallow, but it’s not overpowering and balances the malt tones gracefully. Overall, the drink of Arrogant Bastard ale is outstanding. Because of the beer’s boldness and complexity, you’ll find yourself finding new enjoyable features all throughout your pint (and maybe a second pint – if you’re worthy).

While the review has bought into and contributed to the arrogant mythos surrounding Stone’s Arrogant Bastard Ale, I want to stress to beer drinkers of all sorts that this beer really is a well balanced and approachable beer for any craft beer drinker. Remember that the beer launched in 1997, so while it was arrogant for it’s time…but most craft drinkers have been exposed to much more unbalanced and seemingly aggressive beers. So don’t hesitate to try a sample of this beer at Cicero’s and maybe even have a pint. But drinker beware, have too much of this beer and you may find yourself the arrogant bastard at the bar mocking fizzy yellow beer drinkers and this may land you in a predicament that even a multi-million dollar marketing campaign couldn’t get you out of. Prost!

About the Author  Mike moved to St Louis from Ohio in 2008 and got interested in craft beer thanks to local staples like Schlafly and O’Fallon. He credits Cicero’s Beer School for the evolution of his tastes from highly hopped IPAs to a range of stouts and traditional hefeweizens. When he’s not drinking a beer, Mike enjoys trying to teach his dog not to bark at everything that moves, reading about crime, and home brewing with his co-workers (whoops that involves drinking a beer).


Getting emails every single day from “hot new” bands can be a bit harrowing; sure, every band has their story and has their sound but how many of them are going to stand up to the big guys? Which bands will warrant multiple listens, and not just because you can’t decide whether you like them or not, but because with each repeated listen you find something else you like or some awesome element you might have missed on prior listens? Music trends are much like clothing trends – things that were old become new again, which is fine…sometimes. Right now the trend in indie rock is, somewhat unfortunately, folk-tinged indie rock. 90% of these bands sound like one another, a cheap version of whoever it was that inspired them or perhaps a  strange amalgamation of Top 40 cutesy-pop with banjo or 12 string-twang indie rock that just doesn’t work for anyone. It’s easy to check the delete button in my email box when I read lines like “authentic roots record” or  “a sweeping journey across coasts and five cities into fleeting highs and empty houses”  without even checking the band out. Why? Because it’s garbage, beautiful fluff to lull me in to a false sense of security, telling me that I’ll absolutely adore this band because it’s so much different from that other band. But it’s not.

Beth Bombara, Jes Kramer

Beth Bombara

Why am I telling you all of this? Because I’m going to attempt to use my beautiful words (and the praising words of others) to tell you that there is something better out there. A folksy artist who isn’t pinned down under the booted foot, the heavy genre titled “folk”, or hell, even indie-folk. What makes Beth Bombara so different? Her difference. Yep. I know that sounds silly but I’ve also been guilty of brandishing strange genres and creating crude associations but Bombara’s the real deal. For years I’ve heard several of my local St. Louis music cohorts sing the praises of Bombara, but no one even comes close to singing those as well as the actual Beth Bombara. Her voice is rich, lush and so full of texture you’ll need an extra Wheach from the Cicero’s venue bar to wash it down. I’ve been guilty of only casually listening to Bombara but am now the proud owner of all three of her albums; the acoustic album Abandon Ship (2007), the full band recording of the album Beth Bombara and the Robotic Foundation (2009) (which happens to be my favorite), and her latest, from 2010, Wish I Were You. Sure, I got on the boat a bit too late – but I at least caught it. And listening to the maturation and progression of Bombara as an artist has been the lifesaver that drug me aboard.

Bombara’s vocal talent is arresting and easy to detect as it’s the most exposed element in the recording(s). But what really shines, especially upon those repeated listens, is how Bombara crafts her songs. Every song feels meticulously constructed but sung and strummed with such ease, an organic and comfortable progression can be found in every song. Those natural elements are what wraps the listener up, like their favorite blanket, as they listen from album to album.

Lucky for you, Beth Bombara is a local gem. Even luckier? She’s playing at Cicero’s on Friday night with a stellar line-up to boot. St. Louis’ precocious and brilliant Née will bring her own brand of unique and fun, dance-worthy tunes, featuring an equally outstanding vocal charm. Also on the bill for Friday’s exceptional show are The Pistolbrides and Jes Kramer. Bring $8 to Cicero’s at 8:30p on Friday and you’ll walk in knowing that your money was well spent and your Friday got a massive upgrade featuring beautiful voices and a crack at something great and new.

 

About the Author – Jennifer Metzler has been going to rock and roll shows all over St. Louis from an early age. She recalls some of her first ever shows as rollicking good, jam-packed, sweaty and perfectly dim-lit shows while standing on the Cicero’s venue floor. When not rocking out at shows, writing about music or listening to the newest breakout band, she’s writing about hockey, watching hockey, or screaming and throwing a remote across the living room in regards to, you guessed it, hockey. If you see her at a show, Cicero’s or anywhere around St. Louis, feel free to say hello!