Black Mesa’s ESB (Endless Skyway Bitter)… 3.75/5

So this (Black Mesa’s ESB) is the third out of four beers I had while out drinking with my buddy at The Fur Shop (see review of bar here) in downtown Tulsa.  A nice beer that was pretty surprising actually.  One thing to note is do not get this beer confused with the other ESB offerings from Black Mesa.  On their website they have 3 beers listed under the ESB Style/Name (This beer as a year round, another seasonal, and a special that I would like to get my hands on.).

From the Brewery…

Black Mesa ESB“Endless Skyway Bitter finds inspiration in the English style but derives its grapefruit bitterness from West Coast hops. Like the finest English examples, the bitterness is assertive but balanced with a nutty maltiness. “Endless Skyway” is a nod to Oklahoma’s favorite son, Woody Guthrie. May there always be endless skyways above you and golden valleys below you.”

ABV: 6% (Untappd)

IBUs: N/A (If anyone has info on this please place in comments. Thanks.)



First off an ESB (Extra Special Bitter) does not mean that it is the most bitter beer style available on the market.  That is what the IPA (India Pale Ale) variety has going for it.  Yes, they are hoppy-er than a traditional ale, but strive for a balance between hops and malt.  This offering to the ESB style has that going for it.  It also matches the traditional darker ale/more robust color associated with the variety.  I don’t know exactly what the IBUs of this beer is but I would probably put it around 30-35.  Granted I had just finished a COOP F5 (review here) so that should be taken into account.

The beer had a good nose that gave off both malt and hop components.  The head dissipated quickly and did not have a lot of carbonation toward the end of the glass.  There was a strong flavor of both hops and malt in the drinking so the ESB balance is achieved. The malt was present up front with some hints of yeast then a good hop finish that left you ready to take the next drink.


I think I would like to get weird in Guthrie, OK while sitting in an open beer garden drinking this beer.  It is one that I could see drinking on a hot summer day watching the world go by, or on a chilly evening by a fire.  Another respectable beer out of another regional Oklahoma brewery.  Food wise I would pair this with some grilled meats.  I give this beer a 3.75 out of 5.

So sit back, relax and have ABigBeer.

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COOP Ale Works’ F5 IPA… 4/5

Dropped in to have a few with a buddy of mine at The Fur Shop in Tulsa.  He drank the same beer all night and I can’t fault him.  I had one too, the COOP Ale Works’ F5 IPA.  I consider it one of the best beers coming out of the brewery.  Currently, I like the IPA style the most in my drinking endeavors and have for sometime.

From the Brewery…

f5-ipa“A straightforward malt body supports the distinctive bouquet of Columbus and Falconers Flight hops that impart citrus, grapefruit and pine notes characteristic of the West Coast style.  F5 is a belligerent hop reckoning.

  • Type: India Pale Ale
  • ABV: 6.8%
  • IBU: 100+
  • SRM: 11″

My input:  If you don’t know the F5 name comes from the tornado rankings, as can be seen in the logo, and is something we all know about here in Okie Land.  I can appreciate the naming of this beer from this Oklahoma City based brewery, where the state has seen a number of F5’s over the past few years.  Cheers to the naming committee…


COOP F5The beer was served pretty cold, in a shaker glass.  An amber-colored beer with a white head that stuck around a little while after the first drink.  The nose was slight, cold and shaker may have limited, with a touch of citrus, but mostly a bit of hop anticipation. When tasting the hops and bitter were a dominate from the beer.  They were well-balanced and did not dominate the senses such that you could not enjoy the other flavors in the beer.  There were some fruity flavors that brought out a hint of sweetness, but were quickly covered by the hop finish.

As for mouth feel the carbonation stayed throughout the drinking and provided a good bite along with the hops having a good clean finish (dry bitter) to the drink. The finish provided a good clean feel to the mouth and begged for you to take the next drink.


Overall this is a very nice drinking beer and one that I could drink many of in a night.  I appreciate my buddy who had 4 right along with me this night while I was drinking diverse. I give this beer a 4 out of 5.  I could see drinking this along with almost meal because to me it is the food that compliments the beer.  I would not have this with a dessert though.

Another beer I have had from this brewery is the DNR (reviewed here).  So relax, sit back and have ABigBeer.

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Why people think I’m weird because I only like PBR and love imports/craft beers, but hate all other “domestics”


1. A Bit of Randomness to Begin.

I just popped an entire half of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in my mouth, dropping a little of the blackberry jam on my leg in the process, so I could start my first post on a BigBeer. Tomorrow is Mother’s Day and my son just moved back from Montana and we are headed out early to my mothers. So I know I will be saving this and coming back to finish it later, but I needed to get started and this way it will be loOOoooOoooOming over my head till I get back to it. Heh.     😉

2. No PBR in OK.

Picture me at 18, oh wait, you can’t, you don’t know me. Well, picture a young girl at 18 in Oklahoma who didn’t even use a fake ID to get into clubs, just flashed her real ID and got the royal treatment. (Once I actually dropped my ID, left it there, had to call and they had found it, went to pick it up, back then we had the giant red stripe “Under 21” on our drivers licenses, and was let straight back in the following weekend!)

3. Took a Break, Back to the Story at Hand.

I’m back! Had a hectic Mother’s day, got totally wiped from shooting bows and guns, and playing the awesome Kinect Dance Off game that makes you sweat, for real. Back to the beer!

3. Montana, the Land of Alcohol and Gambling.

Where I lived back then no one had even heard of PBR (Pabst Blue Ribbon) or as some of us call it “the pibber”. Flash forward to the next year when I moved to Great Falls, Montana. (yeah, I totally did, at first it wasn’t so bad until winter hit and I drove a rear-wheel drive Mazda RX-8 sports car. That did NOT go over well. I ended up in ditches several times trying to make it up hills and I was pregnant with my son to boot!) Anyway, then I hated it, and wow, there are like no people there, a lot of bars and pawn shops though.

4. Montana! Where I Found PBR for the First Time!

I was a bartender for awhile at one of these many bars, and people drank the strangest things. One of them was Pabst. Another was ditches. Something people everywhere I’ve lived afterwards had no idea what they were. Basically, if they asked for a whiskey ditch, I gave them whatever well whiskey we had and half water. BV ditch, black velvet and water, etc, water! They cost the exact same as if they’d ordered a JD and soda, but no, they wanted the water. How weird is that???

5. Back to the Black Hole Named Tulsa, OK.

Now let’s flash forward some more. I hope I’m not making you too dizzy. We (my now ex-husband and I) moved back to Oklahoma when I was about to pop and right after we got there I did, indeed. We had a boy, or “the boy” as I call him, I’m sure you’ll read more about him later. I actually looked around after I started going out again and they didn’t have Rainier (I didn’t like but it was one of the big beers up in Montana too) or PBR ANYWHERE. Most hadn’t heard of it. Well, a couple of years later we moved back to Montana (don’t ask me why!) and I started drinking PBR and I loved it! I loved the taste, I loved it cold or warm, the only thing I didn’t like was that it made me burp…a lot.

6. NC, Holy Shit, They Have the Pibber. I Fall in Love With It, Other Imports, and Craft Beers.

You’re in a time warp now, we’ve moved to North Carolina, the boy’s dad had gone back into the marine corp and we got a divorce. All of a sudden, I was somewhere new where they had PBR at some (not all) places. Yay for me! I grew to hate the taste of Budweiser, Miller, Busch, anything like that. I hated ladies night and guys trying to bring me Bud Lite. I actually paid for my PBR instead of getting free beers for hours, still do as a matter of fact. I also started dating Armen, a super tall buff Armenian with charisma and humor to die for. For four years, he introduced me to ale’s, lager’s, and such…and I fell in love with imports. Like Red Stripe, Dos Equis Dark, Tecate, Guinness, etc. Back then there weren’t any local breweries around. He taught me a lot about cooking too. I’ll have to make a post in that category though, for another time.

7. San Jose, CA. Best Place I’ve Ever Lived AND they had PBR, too.    😀

Off we go again! After about 8 years in NC, we moved to California. Loved it there, still do, want to go back! Anyhoot, they had great beers at the places I loved to hang out at downtown with my bestie Sergio “panda” and our crew. Nice little dive punk bars like the Cinebar, Caravan, and Blank Club(if you ever go to the Cinebar, tell Havi I said hi and make sure to check out all the cool wall art, and the great music on the JB), and a couple others. Always had PBR, and imports on draft. Ok, I could have left Cali out but you can’t just leave Cali out! Besides, at that time people had begun to ask me why I only drank PBR and imports, etc, and wouldn’t touch any other domestic mass-produced beer. I didn’t really have any other answer than “Because I like it and I hate the others.”  Some info just in case you were wondering:

  • Cinebar – link to yelp, some good reads on the reviews on these

    outside the Cinebar
    Outside the Cinebar

    inside the Cinebar
    Inside Cinebar, me and Pandabear having a bit too much fun, most fave hangout in all Cali
  • Caravan – link to yelp

    outside the Caravan
    outside the ol’ Caravan

    band inside the Caravan
    Inside the Caravan, where we had many a PBR watching bands
  • Blank Club (aww, just saw they are closed now) – link to yelp even though they are closed, they are still loved

    outside the Blank Club
    Outside the Blank Club, where you had to walk through scary dark downtown allies to get to, but we had our PBRs in hand and actually, I did almost get into a fight with a bunch of “macho men” in the street. The only girl in the group, lol. yeah, that’s me.

    inside the Blank Club
    Third favorite, awesome bar where we got to sing Live pre-1985 punk songs on stage with a live band!

8. I’ve Come Full Circle After So Many Years And It’s Worth It, Even if it is Oklahoma.

So now we can jump to the end of my journey for this little story and I’m back where I was born and raised again and wouldn’t you know it? PBR was EVERYWHERE. The same place no one had even heard of it before I left. Yep. We are the armpit of the US here in Tulsa. I actually have a little smile on my lips right now, remembering the wonderful feeling that washed over me when I found out that PBR had become a hipster type beer at first, then a genuinely popular beer and I could find it almost anywhere. Hell, one of my home away from home bars, Yellow Brick Road, had 6 pt on tap.

Follow the Yellow Brick Road aka YBR – yelp (it’s not what it used to be before the owner passed away)

outside YBR
Look how tiny this place looks…well it is. 🙂

inside YBT
Inside Ybr, ya, that’s me in the wings. The Angry Fairie. Online Comic Book Character.

inside YBR
How on earth did we fit so many people in that tiny place?


9. Reflection. Not my Strongest Skill But Acceptance At Long Last.

I still got asked that same question for a long time before they stopped (I think everyone I knew had already asked so no one was left to) and just accepted the fact that I wouldn’t drink anything else and when I walked into any bar where they knew me, automatically pulled out a cold PBR from the cooler and waited for me to find a seat before they set it in front of me, then went to write it on my paper tab without my card or license.

In summary, I still don’t understand the answer to the question they asked me myself, or why on earth it happened that way, but I’m down with the fact that even as I meet new people, less and less are them are asking it. Saves me the trouble of having to repeat the same rote answer or try to think of a new one and really ask myself why again. Also, as soon as I’m done here, I’m headed down to grab a couple of them out of the fridge or maybe a bottle of Pinot Grigio and get a few things done around here. I know this isn’t a beer review, but it’s going in the beer section anyway for now.  Unless our Godfather, Mark, decides to move it another one.   😉

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Roughtail’s 3rd Anniversary Ale… 3.5/5

Dropped into The Fur Shop to have a beer with a friend (click here to see review on the bar).  I ended up having a few beers from their great regional selection of craft beers.  I sat down at the bar next to my buddy and ordered without looking at the menu:  Craft, IPA, Regional Brewery, Draft. The beer handed to me was Roughtail Brewing Company’s 3rd Anniversary Imperial/Double IPA.

From the Brewery…

3rd-anniversaryLimited Brew/Limited release, April 2016.

3rd Anniversary is a West Coast style Double IPA brewed with Blood Orange and Grapefruit puree, Citra, Galaxy and El Dorado hops. It’s big, dry, and bitter with a refreshing citrusy aroma and flavor.

  • 7.8% ABV
  • 90 IBU
  • 8 SRM
  • Hops: Warrior, Citra, El Dorado & Galaxy

Note:  If you are a home-brewer (all grain) visit their website for a recipe, nice touch.


When I ordered I didn’t realize that I was getting a limited release IPA.  I figured it out when I told the name and felt glad I had a chance to taste it before it was gone.  Appearance it had a cloudy golden/hazy color.  The head was white and dissipated quickly for me.  The carbonation was good throughout the drinking of the beer.  As expected very little malt flavor.  A good bitter for the Double IPA beer and drinkable.  Well hopped with the taste of fruity undertones upfront along with a dry hop bitter finish. Just so you know a Double IPA is an American beer that focuses on ramping up the hops to 11.

I think the fruity undertones is where it fell down for me.  The slight taste of grapefruit is what made it average.  I don’t generally like grapefruit as a flavor.  Don’t get me wrong it didn’t overpower the beer or make it undrinkable to me.  I did enjoy it, but it was more of just an OK beer, nothing markedly special.  That is why I gave it a 3.5 out of 5.  I know a lot of other people give it higher marks.  So if you would like to add your own review comments below please do so.


Nice to have a limited brew/release available on draft at a local bar.  Granted from the regional breweries we should and do have these options when paying attention.  As for Roughtail’s 3rd Anniversary Ale, a Double IPA, I liked it as a good drinkable beer. I am happy that I got to drink it before it is gone. Would I drink something else if two equally rated beers were available, Yes.

So sit back, relax and have ABigBeer.

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The Fur Shop, Tulsa…

Got a text at the end of the day on Friday and a good/best friend was wanting a drink.  I stirred us towards The Fur Shop in downtown Tulsa.  It is the closest thing to a full-blown craft beer DIVE bar I have been to in Tulsa.  If you have others you would like to suggest please post a comment below.

The Past…

The Fur Shop historically (see Tulsa World article) was a hard-drinking, big party, live venue bar.  I have been told stories of block parties setup around the bar with outdoor stages.  It was all during a time when I was outside of that scene so unfortunately I do not have tails to tell.  Others tell stories of the multitude of festival like weekends, hosting of bands, and other entertainment goings-on happening around the site and sponsored by the bar.


FurShopSignThe Fur Shop name reopened a couple of years ago.  The sign had been left in the basement during past reincarnations so it was resurrected.  The focus was to have ongoing live bands again and they have managed to continue in that arena.  I don’t think they have been able to get back the past atmosphere (the bar’s surroundings have changed), but they have added a few new things to the mix, mainly a Craft Beer Focus.  The bar has dedicated its beer selection to local and regional craft brews.  Not all beers are of this flavor, but a large percentage. So for the dive bar/craft beer lovers this is a place to go hang out.

The bar does have three stages used for various types of bands.  The first is indoors to the right of the front door when entering and works for small bands on a compact stage.  The second is a small upstairs area more attuned to the quiet ensemble/duet. Lastly is the outdoor stage in an open space behind the bar.  It provides an open air festival atmosphere for when a band is playing.

On a typical day there are multiple areas in the bar open for drinking.  Many times there is only 1 person working so no table service.  The drinking areas include:

  • The Bar Area
  • Tables on first floor
  • Upstairs that is usually nice and quiet, good for an informal meeting
  • Outback in Beer Garden

No food but the Lone Wolf Banh Mi (see article or look up on Google) food truck has made the front of the bar home for the past year or so.


The Fur Shop has recently been keeping its Facebook page (click here) current with new events, new beers, and tasting events.  If you are looking for something different from a regional brewery I would suggest looking or asking there.  On Friday I had the following beers (drafts) over the hours sitting and BS’ng with my buddy:

Watch for reviews to follow.  They also use the live drink list app on Facebook (click here).


I like The Fur Shop for its atmosphere, friends I know that drink/work there, and obviously the beer.  They do have some events/regular weekly occurrences that should be observed. I will let you make up your mind if you want to patronize the bar.  It is just one of many places for me to go, and a lot, lot more places in T-Town now are offering Craft Beer.  To that end I am always on the search to find new places to go and enjoy my favorite malted beverage.

So go drink, relax and have ABigBeer.

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Coop Ale Works’ DNR – Belgian 4/5

Stopped into Rock & Brews (see review here) in “The City”, Oklahoma City, to grab a couple of beers and dinner with a friend.  The first beer I actually got to the table was Black Mesa’ Los Naranjos (Coffee Stout, see review) and the second, and subject of this review, was Coop Ale Works’ DNR.  The DNR is a Belgian Dark Ale.

From the Brewer

Belgian Dark Ale
Coop DNR

Coop-Cans-2“This Belgian-style dark ale is the culmination of central and western European malts, Noble hops, candy sugar and a traditional Trappist yeast.  Notes of dried fruit, cinnamon and vanilla make DNR a very complex experience to be enjoyed in moderation.”

ABV 10.0%
IBU 30
SRM 22  (Color Intensity)



Some things are out of range for a Belgian Dark Ale (ABV specifically) for this beer but overall that sweet, fruity, sweet taste with a touch of sour/tangy finish was there for me.  I know that may not match what many say about how sweet this beer is, but for me the Trappist yeast really came through reminding me a bit of sour/saison taste.  That, to me, was the Belgian style coming through.  The ABV throws off a lot of the traditional classifications of this beer, but that is one thing that makes it unique.  The head/carbonation from the draft unfortunately did not last through the drinking.  The nose was definitely malty with the yeast undertones.  Part of the finish was a strong vanilla taste that did finish sweet.


If you can’t tell yet, I like getting local craft brewery beers when available on tap.  That being said Coop Ale Works is one of the better and more consistent breweries in the area and well worth drinking.  I really like the DNR, perhaps because it was after dinner and a dessert, and I could see drinking it in moderation.  At an ABV of 10% you will need to drink it in moderation. Overall rating of 4 out of 5 for me.  Others may not like it this much because of the sweet with a touch of sour taste.

So sit back, relax and have ABigBeer.

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Black Mesa’ Los Naranjos… Coffee Stout 4/5

Recently I went to “The City”, Oklahoma City, and grabbed a couple of beers at Rock & Brews (click to see review). While there I had Black Mesa’ seasonal coffee stout, Los Naranjos.  Read on…

From the Brewer & Roaster

Coffee Stout
Los Naranjos


Los Naranjos is our 3rd and current collaboration with Oklahoma City’s beloved Elemental Coffee Roasters.  The stout is brewed with de-bittered black malts that do not compete with the Columbian Naranjos coffee bean known for its silky body, big tangerine acidity, and cocoa finish. Available on draft in November and in bottles in December 2015.

Elemental’s Sheer Roast


There is good complexity and there is bad complexity, algebra equations being the bad kind. Sheer is the good kind, promising transparency through the complexity.

  • Location: Uganda, Sipi Falls
  • Elevation: 1500-2500 m
  • Processing: Fully Washed


Pulling from Untappd the ABV of this beer is 8%.  I don’t have an IBU number for this beer, it was not bitter to me.  At least not to a devout coffee lover who likes his hot, black, and bitter (or Irish).  The head was a light mocha color that dissipated quickly.  It was not highly carbonated and barely noticed it through the drink.  The nose was of a malty sweet smell and I did not pick up any hop smell. Initial taste was of a chocolate and coffee flavor with a fairly rich and smooth mouth feel.  There were some subtle notes of black malt or roasted barley in the background.  I have had richer mouth feeling beers but not many.

Overall I really like this beer and would drink again when in the mood and available.


I gave the beer a 4 out of 5 rating when I was drinking it. I would have probably given it higher if I had actually ordered it to begin with (see Rock & Brews review).  I really liked the smooth taste and full body of the beer.  Too bad it is just a seasonal beer and will soon be gone.  Another winner for a Oklahoma Based Brewery.  I really need to get by the brewery and tour.  Not only that I need a pound of Elemental’s coffee to drink in the mornings.

So remember to relax, no-worries, and have ABigBeer.

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Rock & Brews, OKC…

Okay, went to “The City” (Oklahoma City) for one of my Kid’s events.  It was up on the North side of the city and near where some old friends live.  Of course we let them know were in town and after the event my buddy, son, & I went to Rock & Brews out on Memorial Rd.

Franchise Location…

In their own words:

“Bring your family. Bring your friends. Bring your dog. Really!

Rock & Brews is rockin’ Oklahoma City with its quality American comfort food, local favorites and one of the area’s best selections of international and craft beers. The family-friendly restaurant’s two-story, 7,700 sq. ft., rock-inspired environment is a celebration of everything rock and roll. Guests are immersed in an atmosphere that is reminiscent of being a VIP at a great music event with an elevated truss system with concert lighting and sound, multiple screens with videos of the best concerts in music history, iconic rock art and a Great Wall of Rock that pays tribute to classic rock icons.

Located in the Quail Springs retail corridor, Rock & Brews in Oklahoma City is owned and operated by multi-unit franchise partner Kirk Williams. The restaurant features four full service bars with more than 52 beers on tap, specialty cocktails and premium wines; and, the ability to section off space for private dining and events. Both indoor and al fresco dining are available. And, with something for everyone, Rock & Brews offers a lively play area for children and the patio area is dog-friendly. Ample free parking is available.”

To me the interior is Rock & Roll Hall of Fame kitsch meets TGIFriday’s atmosphere with a bunch of beer on the menu.  Lots of rock videos, playing on lots of TV’s, and sound just about too loud, but not.


Laminated Menu
Full Beer menu
Current/Monthly Beer Menu Printed for Current List
Paper Beer Menu

They may have 52 beers on tap, or at least a facility to have that many on tap, but they didn’t have my first 3 picks off of their menus.  UGH!!!!  We sat down and first thing we did was review main full the beer menu.  First I picked the Tallgrass‘ Buffalo Sweat, did not have it.  Next I ordered Great Divide‘ Denver Pale Ale, also on the main beer menu… DID NOT HAVE.  Ugh!!!  Then we were assured that ordering from the paper monthly menu would be the way to go.  Those were printed for what they currently had on tap.  I looked it over and ordered Black Mesa‘s ESB.  It is served in a pint.  A very dark heavy beer served in a an 8 oz glass shows up.  It is Black Mesa’s Los Naranjos (click here for review).  I did call the waitress over to return it and let her know it was not the right beer.  I took a sip anyway and liked it a lot, as I figured I would, so at this point I was thirsty and just went with it.  Something was said about the ESB actually being out of stock and the Los Naranjos was put in its place on the order menu.  Hmmm… They were both listed on the paper menu.  You can draw your own conclusions about that statement.

Unfortunately I only got pictures of 2 of the 3 Beer menus at our table.  I do question some of the classifications of the beers.  On the third menu they had Rogue’s Dead Guy, a Miabock and a beer I have reviewed, listed as Malty & Dark.  I guess it could have been listed as that, but I wouldn’t have.

I did like that they had a range of local and regional craft beers on their menus.  That was probably the biggest plus to the beer menu that I saw.  If I was a regular I would probably like that they changed the menu often or maybe as often as they ran out of a pony kegs (joke) that they were ordering.  Even as a regular I still would not like that  the menu is not updated daily or at least more frequent than it seems.  We gave them a hard time about knowing what a printer was and how that a printer may be kept in an office.  They might even have one there.  It prints out words on paper and all…


Overall the experience ended up being good.  Once we decided to just get enough tastes of beers they did have on-site so that we could make up our mind on the next beer to order.  Yes, tastes were delivered easily and willingly to our table so we could make up our minds on the next round.  Many tastes were given and that helped to lighten the mood a lot.  On the next round I went with a Coop DNR (click here for review) and my buddy had a flight.

Kalli the waitress took a lot of grief from us for the beer menu mix ups and we just fell into a routine of giving her a hard time.  All good natured and she took it like a trooper.  Yes, we even apologized to her about doing it all in good fun.  She said she liked it and was sorry about the mix up early.

Food:  My buddy had some chicken wings off of the app menu that he liked.  My son and I split an order of fish & chips.  The fish could have been cooked a little longer to give the ample breading more crunch, fries were good, overall it was fair.


If we are up in that area it is a nice place to stop in and get a couple of brews.  It is definitely not a dive bar atmosphere with good beers that I like most.

As always… Relax, Don’t Worry, and have ABigBeer.

Virginia is for Chocolate?

So, anyone who has ever traveled up or down the east coast has made it through Virginia at least once or twice in their lifetimes and most people have seen the God-awful State slogan “Virginia is for lovers.” While Virginians may not have a knack for State slogans, I can attest that they make one of the best coffee milk stouts I have ever tasted. AleWerks Brewing Company, in Williamsburg, Virginia, makes this rich, smooth, chocolatey wonder called the Cafe Royale (ABV 8.0%).

I discovered the Cafe Royale while on a recent Christmas-time vacation to Colonial Williamsburg. You know the kind of trip I am talking about, right? The kind of trip that sounded good on paper but, after 15+ hours in a minivan with your in-laws, soon requires multiple strong drinks. One highlight of this particular trip was a “Wine versus Beer” tasting event, which served multiple small food samples and asked if the food tasted better paired with the selected wine or the selected beer. The Cafe Royale was served with the dessert course and it was the overwhelming crowd favorite.

From the Brewer
Image source:

“We age a stronger version of our CoffeeHouse Stout in Virginia Gentlemen Bourbon Barrels for 3 months. This aging adds layers of complexity including notes of vanilla and Bourbon to this big coffee beer. 8% ABV”

Barrel-aged Imperial Coffee Milk Stout

My Tasting

This beer was served only slightly cold and had very sturdy, creamy foam. As shown in the picture from the AleWerks website, the color if very deep, dark brown and, although described as a coffee milk stout, was much more chocolatey and slightly sweeter than I expected. The aftertaste really brings the chocolatey, coffee-ness of the beer right into the back of your nose.

My best recommendation for food to have with this beer would definitely be dessert. I think it would pair well with chocolate anything, but would also pair nicely with vanilla ice cream, strawberries, or custard-based desserts (a good tiramisu or creme brulee, comes to mind).


As I am writing this post in mid-April, and had this beer in late-December, I can easily say this beer leaves a lasting impression. The flavor of this beer leaves a lingering taste in your mouth for long after the glass is empty, but leaves an even greater craving to have another one tomorrow.

The most unfortunate part of this tale is that the beer is only available in and around Williamsburg, Virginia; so, I will have to wait until the next time. Civil War road trip, anyone?!

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Shipyard’s Monkey Fist IPA 3.5/5…

Last Friday it was one of those nights where I did not feel like cooking.  It had been a “week” and I just wanted someone else to bring me a meal.  Did not figured I would get the Kid or House Mate to do it (not that I asked)… So pizza ordered and delivered. I also wanted to have a beer to go with it, so went to the fridge and selected Shipyard’s Monkey Fist IPA. (ABV 6.9% IBUs 67.5)  I had some beers from a local liquor store that has a pick 6 incentive already in the fridge.

From the Brewer

Monkey Fist IPA Beer
Poured and Ready to Drink

“Monkey Fist is the name of a knot tied at the end of a sailor’s rope to serve as a weight and make it easier to throw.”

Shipyard Monkey Fist IPA is edgy, aggressive and unique in style. This beer is brilliant copper in color and exploding with flavorful hop character but able to maintain a beautiful balance.

2-Row British Pale Ale, Malted Wheat, Munich, Crystal, Caramalt

Chinook, Cascade

ABV 6.9% IBUs 67.5


My Tasting

Cracked open the beer and poured it into a no stem wine glass.  I like it for tasting as it is not straight sides.  I found it to have a slight Hoppy Nose from the first sniff, nothing strong or overpowering.

The first taste met the IPA expectations of the beer with a Hop forward profile, little more bitter as it should be.  I did not get much malt or yeast taste out of it until the aftertaste.  Then some of the sweet undertones from the malt came through.  There was a good nose while drinking and carbonation held up through out the glass.  It went well with the pizza too.  The carbonation added to the mouth feel of the beer and gave it a good refreshing feel while drinking.

The color of the beer was copper in look and there was a cold haze to mine.  Sorry the picture is a bit dark.  Overall there was a solid hop forward and bitter aspect to the beer during the tasting.


Tasted as expected for an IPA, nothing overly special. I do like that Shipyard kept with a nautical theme for naming its beers.  Monkey Fist is a great name too.

A beer I would drink again if only large commercial brewer’s beers were available or nothing else new there to try.  Will give it a 3.5 out of 5.  So relax, don’t worry, and have ABigBeer.  Or 2.

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