Tasty brews from Southern Tier and Coney Island and the metal that washed them down

The last month or so has been good, personally, for beer consumption. Going on vacation to a place that houses the Dogfish Head restaurant surely helps that venture, as just about anything they offer (unless it’s out of season or they just don’t have any left) is at your disposal, so it was a nice time for sampling.

But once we got back, there was more to be had. I’m always interested in trying new beers, mainly if they’re of the craft variety or from a microbrewery, and I was able to try a few new things the last couple weeks that made me happy. Luckily, the revamped (and recently relocated) Carson Street Deli has a great supply of all kinds of beers, and both of what we’ll discuss today were purchased there. If you’re ever in Pittsburgh (or live here) and find yourself near the South Side, definitely check them out if you have a taste for something sudsy. They’re food’s pretty damn good too. (http://www.facebook.com/CarsonStreetDeli)

I love coffee a lot, and because I’m not insane, I love chocolate too. So Southern Tier’s Imperial Mokah seemed to be something I’d really enjoy, as the beer is described as a mix of their Javha and Choklat brews, both of which taste great alone but together form something otherworldly. I’ve heard and read some people complain of the sweetness of both beers, as well as their offspring Mokah, but that never really bothered me at all. This one, which has a delightfully high ABV of 11.2, does have a sweet taste, but I didn’t find it overwhelming at all. It’s a rich drink, and it comes off like you’d expect of a dark beer. The 22 oz. bottle took a little time to get through, but that seems by design. This is a sipping beer, not one you guzzle, smash the bottle, and go for another. You need to spend quality time with it and let it set up shop, and once it does, my guess is you’ll find it pleasing.

Of course, those who don’t like dark or bitter beers probably won’t be too psyched about Mokah, but whatever. It’s not for everyone, but it’s for me. And it goes great with cake and cookies. I know that from ample experience. Southern Tier also has, pretty much, a never-ending line of various concoctions, and next on my list to try is their Pumking Imperial Pumpkin Ale. I shall report back.

For more on Southern Tier, go here: http://www.southerntierbrewing.com/index2.html

For a closer look at their many brews, go here: http://www.southerntierbrewing.com/beers.html


Another interesting beer came my way when my friend Sam brought me a couple bottles of Coney Island Craft Lager for my birthday, of course from Carson Street. There were two bottles, one being the Albino White, the other being Human Blockhead, a nice bock I expected to be a little darker than it is, but once I got to drinking it, it was damn pleasing. It tastes like and feels like a darker beer, and at 10 percent ABV, it goes to your head fairly quickly. That also suggests a sipping beer so you don’t all of a sudden have no idea where you are, but its smoothness lends itself to gulping, I would imagine. I went slowly with it, but I could see someone trying to pound the thing because it tastes good and goes down quite well.

The Coney Island collection is a newer line from Schmaltz, a relatively new brewer that’s been making tasty beverages since 1996. You might know their other products – HE’BREW – better, dubbed an “American Jewish Celebration Beer.” Coney Island didn’t kick off until 2008, and it’s a venture that includes non-profit arts organization Coney Island USA. Their arty bottles, that look like old circus posters and kind of have a freak show vibe, really stand out on the shelves and have eye-catching names. I’m very new to their products, and I have yet to drink the bottle of Albino, but from what I got out of Human Blockhead, I’ll be back for more.

For more on Schmaltz Brewing, go here: http://www.shmaltzbrewing.com/

For more on Coney Island beers, go here: http://www.shmaltzbrewing.com/CONEY/hb.html

For more on Coney Island USA, go here: http://www.coneyisland.com/

Of course, we’re here for metal, too, and it’s usually playing when I’m in the lab testing these beers. This past weekend I got through the new Opeth album “Heritage,” which we’ll discuss very soon. After a few listens, I’m still formulating my opinion on the thing, and we should have something for you this week. Also, I finally got a stream of the new Mastodon album “The Hunter” from our friends at Warner Bros. That one’s taking some time to reveal itself. Not sure how I feel yet, and don’t take that as a good or bad comment. Along with that, I’ve been playing new ones from The Atlas Moth, Tiger Flowers, Rwake, Brutal Truth (the song “Butcher” will make you want to become one) and Landmine Marathon, whose last record I wasn’t that psyched about, but I feel way differently about the new one. Look for some of these to pop up on Meat Mead Metal soon.

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