Monday, December 27, 2010

Ask not for whom the Bell's tolls.

Brewery: Bell's Brewery Inc.
Location: Comstock, MI
Name: Christmas Ale
Type: Scottish Ale
ABV: 5.5%
Oh, Bell's. You've done so much good in my eyes whenever I come across one of your 12 ounce packages of beery goodness. I like Christmas and I like beer. The solution to this word problem is I like winter and Christmas beers. Christmas Ale comes out a nice, hazy amber color which was somewhat unexpected. It produced a nice cream, nay, ecru colored head which had a copious amount of foam to it. The head stuck around for a while, rather persistent. Malt reached up and punched me in my nose without prejudice. It had it's lackeys hanging around for good measure: citrus hops and slightly metallic. But the buck stopped there. As soon as this beer hit my tongue I was left wanting. The nose was a betrayal. A ruse! Faint tastes of bread and biscuits joined a "blink and you'll miss it though blinking doesn't really apply to tasting things" citrus hops flavor round out the flavor profile. The finish is crisp and a saltine. It's not that this beer was offensive, I was just a little disappointed. There's absolutely nothing wrong with it except for the fact that I was a little let down by it. Though if Bell's has done anything with this beer it has made me think that this is what I would want Budweiser to taste like if Budweiser were a good beer.

Better than 12 ounces of coal.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

You can have your visions of sugarplums...

 If there's anything other than beer that interests me its Japan. So imagine my elation upon receiving Sapporo Beer Drops from Tessa as a part of a Christmas gift (which was exclusively Japanese junk food...Pepper Bacon Doritos anyone?)! Needless to say, I was immediately intrigued. What will they taste like? Will it be bready? Maybe hoppy? All I know it that it was mad Japanese and I supported that. I must say getting into the tin was a bit of a chore; there's a little plug at the top that has to be pried out. Motor skills be damned I used a bottle opener as it felt somewhat fitting. As with all good habits the first thing I did was stick my nose in the opening to see if I could get any sort of bouquet out of it. Sadly, I could not. I wasn't very surprised as Sapporo itself is not that strong in the nose. The candies are a pale yellow much like the brew it is derived from with a light frosting on them which kind of looks like a thin head. I, with great jubilation, popped a drop in my mouth was ready for whatever may come my way. To my surprise it was sweet! Not overbearingly so but sweet nonetheless. There is a slight honey (perhaps light banana) taste supported by the barelythere hint of bready yeast. From what I can find there is no alcohol in the drops but that's fine by me. While Americans are so fixated on the harsh flavored drop candy (Lemonheads, Alexander the Grape, and Warheads to name a few) it would seem that the Japanese, in their infinite weirdness, have developed a candy that I can firmly get behind with its great taste, awesome packaging, and smooth finish.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Worth at least $2 American.

Brewery: Yard's Brewing Company
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Name: Thomas Jefferson's Tavern Ale
Type: Strong Ale
ABV: 8%
"Beer, if drank with moderation, softens the tempter, cheers the spirit, and promotes good health.” I'm pretty sure the rule is if a President says it then it's law, right? Thomas Jefferson had the right idea. Being incredibly intelligent I'm inclined to agree with him, beer is best enjoyed in moderation. I'll figure out how to do that one day. Good job to the folks at Yard's for evoking the beliefs of T.J.! And if you believe everything you read on beer labels, this beer was brewed according to Thomas Jefferson's recipe. This strong ale flows easily from bottle to glass and splashes around in a murky, warm amber color. Even pouring the beer correctly (yes, there is a proper way to pour a beer, inquire if unfamiliar) the head vanishes rather quickly. The lack of foam means no lacing. Sigh, I love rest rings. When you poke your nose in T.J.'s Tavern Ale you get a nice warming sensation. Apricot scented hops and sour dark fruit mask the faint trace of alcohol you will encounter. The fruit fades into a preserve like sweetness and it blends wonderfully with the biscuit notes the bouquet carries. Very mild carbonation does little to prepare you for the taste. You have alcohol right up front that melts into what I could best describe as a pear-like flavor. I don't like pears and it was all I could do to place this taste, I think it's what a pear tastes like anyway. There are some spices that you might pick up on, nothing I can put a name to though. It's just...spicy. The middle is rounded out nicely with malty goodness and then finishes quickly with caramel and alcohol. This reminded me a lot of a dubbel. I was pleasantly surprised by this beer as it was the first offering from Yard's I have encountered. Worth a try if you like bigger beers with bold flavors!
Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Good Beer.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Young Punks! Get off my lawn!

Brewery: Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
Location: Milton, DE
Name: Punkin Ale
Type: Pumpkin Ale
ABV: 7%
The progenitor. This was the first pumpkin beer I had and it blew the top of my skull off. Though this was not the beer that set me down this path I am on today it is a seasonal contributor that keeps me on that path. Punkin filled my pint glass with an orange blossom honey color. That's the color of your average, run of the mill honey in a bear shaped bottle type of honey. A creamy white head peaks at about half of an inch thick and slowly collapses back into the beer. The bouquet is wonderful. You get the requisite nutmeg and cinnamon and like the Williamsburg Alewerks you get a nice banana-y note. Huge flavor here and that's no surprise coming from DFH. You get cinnamon and brown sugar like a punch in the mouth. Fair share of nutmeg and fresh pumpkin in the aftertaste. There is the faintest hint of piney hops. There's a minimal amount of carbonation which makes the beer coat your mouth evenly with delicious pumpkin pie flavor. You do get a mild hint of alcohol on the back end but it is complementary in nature and does not distract at all. This is a mild bodied seasonal beer that would be great to cut your pumpkin ale teeth on. By the way, I hate teeth but this beer is worth using that idiom. Chances are you won't be able to find this beer until next fall but take my advice, scoop some up as quickly as you can as it tends to move quickly.
This beer will blow your gourd.

Monday, December 6, 2010

That crown don't make you a prince!

Brewery: Southern Tier Brewing Company
Location: Lakewood, NY
Name: Imperial Pumpking
Type: Imperial pumpkin ale
ABV: 8.8%
I realize it's December. And I realize I haven't been keeping up with this. I don't have a good excuse but I come back with a good beer! Southern Tier hits another home run with this years Pumpking. It pours out a wonderful honey color, closer to the color of an actual pumpkin pie. A first seeings how most of the pumpkin ales I've come across have been a little on the darker side. The head was thin and white with no lacing at all. You get an amazing toasted graham cracker scent in the nose, like the crust of a pie. Familiar pumpkin pie spices are there as well but they do nothing more than compliment the sweet graham smell. It hits the tongue with a light carbonation which is okay because the explosion comes in the flavor. It's like eating a pumpkin pie crust first! The taste of the pie crust is there from the nose and translates perfectly into taste. Following that is natural pumpkin flavor blended nicely with nutmeg. The finish? Honestly it tasted like whipped cream!! It was eyerollingly delicious. The mildly bitter biscuit aftertaste does not take away from the amazing flavor of this beer. This beer is a dessert beer or if you want to be bold, eat it with a hunk of grilled red meat! It's a great accompaniment! Southern Tier brings the pie with this brew. No hints of alcohol at any stage during drinking which is delightfully deceiving. Bring a 22oz. bomber of this home with you!
Enjoy it with a friend. Or be greedy and make them watch you drink it!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

If flavor were visible this would be "gourdgeous!"

Brewery: Williamsbug Alewerks
Location: Billy's Burg, VA
Name: Pumpkin Ale
Type: Pumpkin Ale
ABV: 8.0%
Let me start off by not being apologetic about the title of this post. I try, I honestly do. And this time I think I really delivered a winner! With that being said, I present to you another palatable potable from our friends at Williamsburg Alewerks. For the record, I'm not on the payroll. This beer pours out in a torrent of dark honey hues accented nicely with a rich auburn color. A thin head that barely breaks the surface of the beer is present and does little in way of lacing the glass. The spices that come from the bouquet are awesome. As any decent lover of pumpkin pie will tell you there has to be cinnamon and nutmeg. Pumpkin Ale has got that. Also, an olfactory ace up the sleeve, bananas! The taste is as smooth as the smell. The higher alcohol content makes for a smooth and clean mouthfeel. What I like about this beer is that it's a 1:1 taste:flavor beer. You smell that? You taste it. There's a slight alcohol component to the taste but it is not distracting at all. Though not quite imperial it is borderline regal. I enjoyed mine with a steak and I suggest you do the same. This glass of liquid pumpkin pie is too good to go without trying and if you missed it this year then I suggest you prepare for it next year!
Find it. Buy it. Drink it. Love it.

Sleepy Hollow called...

Brewery: New Holland Brewing Co.
Location: Holland, MI
Name: Ichabod
Type: Pumpkin Ale
ABV: 5.2%
This was the first pumpkin ale I had this year. Kind of a big deal because it was one that I had never enjoyed before. It's also nice because I've had it out of a keg as well as out of a's always fun to compare notes. In any case, out of the bottle Ichabod is a nice dark amber color. I wanted so badly for this beer to have absolutely no head considering its namesake and all, yet Ichabod brought a nice 1 inch thick head made of clean white foam. Ichabod eventually lost its head. YES! Pun! The bouquet is, in a word, mouthwatering. You get a nose full of pumpkin pie spices including, but not limited to, cinnamon and nutmeg. If you pay close enough attention you can almost pick out a graham pie crust smell. Without surprise the scents turn to tastes that match up. Actual pumpkin flavor takes a bit of a backseat to the more powerful flavors of slightly sweet cinnamon and nutmeg. The cinnamon is the star of the show here. It cuts through the sweetness and plays nicely with a wonderful aftertaste of malt and nutmeg. Not a whole lot going on in the carbonation department which makes for an incredibly easy drinking, full flavored ale. Though not the best in its class, definitely enjoyable!
Better off the tap but good enough out of the bottle.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Lost at sea.

Brewery: Clipper City Brewing Co.
Location: Baltimore, MD
Name:  Heavy Seas Prosit!
Type: Imperial Octoberfest Lager
ABV: 9.0%
I was very much looking forward to my first Heavy Seas "Bomber," what they call their 22oz. bottles, of the season. I had specifically held off on this one due impart to the magic "i" word on the label. Tie that in with the fact that Clipper City makes some pretty good brews and I felt that what I had was a recipe for fried gold. Prosit fires its carbonated canons in the form of a mildly orange brew that produces a massive amount of head. Don't look away though, because you'll miss the fall from grace that the head takes. Malt in the nose jumbled up with faint hops. Notes of some caramel and bread come through. Prosit doesn't hide its alcohol that well, however. I got a harsh booze was almost unapologetic. Initial taste was pretty good. Nice malt taste that coated the mouth nicely. The malt gives way to what I thought was a pretty harsh alcohol taste. This isn't my first rodeo, I've had beers with a higher ABV that this so I'm not claiming inexperience on my part. This was just a harsh taste that I couldn't really get past. It definitely warmed you up on the way down and the plentiful carbonation played nicely on the tongue. Honestly, I couldn't finish this. The alcohol was just too abrasive for me. I gave it a fair chance though!
Buy it for the beer, drink it for the grain alcohol.

Heroes get remembered but Legends never die.

Brewery: Legend Brewing Co.
Location: Richmond, VA
Name: Oktoberfest
Type: Amber Lager
ABV: 5.4%
If I had to summarize this beer in one word it would be "clean." This is a straight up, tastes good in your mouth kind of beer. Pleasing all the way around from the pour to the finish, not a cross word I can say about it. At the same time, it doesn't blow my tongue through my skull, but it's good! Oktoberfest spills out from the bottle into the glass as a rich and vibrant deep amber color. The head swells up noticeably and is cream colored. As it dissipates you will not see any lacing on the glass. I don't know why but I always enjoy it when there's significant lacing on my glass. I like to see the "rest rings." The nose is what you would expect out of a classic fest beer: Malt. You may also pick some bread-like notes tied up with some yeasty tang in the bouquet as well. The taste is a symphony of malt, toffee, some roasted caramel and the slightest hint of earth. The aftertaste was mildly sour, I noticed. Overall, this is a great example of a crisp fest lager. It's 22oz. packaging makes it great for sharing too! Unless you're like me and see it as an opportunity for a twofer.
Not bad, not great. Would definitely enjoy again.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Ok ok, I get it.

All of you (9) have spoken loud and clear! And that message? There needs to be a rating system outside of my subjective (and oftentimes beautifully poetic) taste tests.

So, without further ado, I introduce to you the Little Boy Brew Mug-O-Meter!

Think of this as a supplement to my reviews. As always, your thoughts and comments are always welcome and encouraged! Let me know, my denizens of drink, how does this rate? Ohhh I can't ever pass up a pun.
Well, it's beer.

Ya know? I could pass on another.

Hmm...I'm down for the cause.

This beer comes with high regard.

Can I get this in an IV form?

Cursed be ye who sip from this cup!

Brewery: Magic Hat Brewing Co.
Location: South Burlington, VT
Name: Hex
Type: Ourtoberfest...cute
ABV: 5.4%
Like other fest beers that I've come across this is not a marzen. I can't say that I'm terribly shocked as Magic Hat doesn't really seem to stray too much from a particular formula. That formula? Produce okay beers with clever names and packaging. Hex is no exception to their rule. The beer wound up being a color similar to a dark apple juice. Not apple cider, as you can see through Hex. A foamy head is quick to disappear and does very little to hang onto the sides of the glass. There wasn't a whole lot going on in the bouquet department. I managed to come up with very faint traces of malt and a whiff of tangy yeast. Reaching I did come across some slightly sour notes as well. Carbonation is a strong suit but that's not an award winning characteristic. The taste was fairly unremarkable. Malt flavor is but a ghost and it quickly gives way to an unpleasant bitterness. Some traces of earth and then yeast at the end. Skip this one unless you've tried every other "fest" beer this fall.


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Royale with cheese? much better.

Brewery: Williamsburg Alewerks
Location: Williamsburg, VA
Name: Cafe Royale
Type: Imperial Stout; Aged in bourbon barrels
ABV: 8.0%
This label has 2 of my favorite words on it: stout and bourbon. Before getting into this beer I had a strong feeling that this beer would be nothing short of sublime. My dad acquired this through a friend who actually helps out at the brewery. I am indebted to a prolonged period of gratitude for it! Cafe Royale poured our thick and malty. It's color is that of a strong black coffee topped off with a head of dark caramel. It was love at first sight. My response was Pavlovian...drooled quite heavily. The bouquet was phenomenal! If I had to make a new word to describe the nose it wold have to be "boozeilicious." You get big notes of bourbon straight away with coffee, chocolate, and brown sugar notes playing backup. This beer is to be appreciated at or slightly below room temperature. I know what some of you may be thinking but trust me. The flavor profile of this stout is so wonderful that if it were to be too cold you would lose out on most of the awesome flavors. Cafe Royale packs a punch! Low carbonation allows for you to focus most on what matters: flavor. You get whiskey immediately (yum!) that eventually melts into strong, full throttle coffee. Bittersweet chocolate and roasted malt bring up the rear. It's like a beer that tastes like Irish coffee. Bliss. Every drink of this beer was awesome and left me wanting more. If you're a whiskey fan you owe it to yourself to seek this out. If you're a stout fan you can not pass this up. Cafe Royale is everything a stout should be (to me): a vortex of liquid shadow, bold in its flavors, and so delicious you want to squeeze your glass to wring the very last drops of it out into your mouth.

I need a network of pipes run throughout my house so that I can have water fountains set up that dispense this!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A trip to Scarborough Fair

Brewery: Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
Location: Milton, DE
Name:Saison du Buff
Type: Saison, clearly
This beer was created by DFH as part of a three brewery collaboration with Stone and Victory. Tessa picked it out while treating me to a stirring rendition to the song "Scarborough Fair," which was about the ingredients in this beer, apparently. According to some investigatory journalism, BUFF stands for Brewers United for Freedom of Flavor as this pact was created in 2003 by the three breweries finally coming to fruition in beer form in 2010. Buff pours a hazy, straw the sun setting in San Francisco on a Tuesday afternoon. Much to my shock this beer foamed up MASSIVELY. The 2 inch thick foam peaked stark white and eventually dissipated back down. The label wasn't kidding. First whiff of the bouquet and you get sage and rosemary. For those not in the know, this beer was brewed with sage, rosemary, parsley, and thyme. Yep. All of these herbs make for an incredibly complex flavor. You get the rosemary full force and a ton of thyme in the aftertastes. Mild citrus hops come up in the back end. To be honest, I was intimidated by this beer. I knew it wasn't going to be traditional, not that that is what scared me. What scared me was that I had no idea how these herbs would play out in any liquid form other than a soup base. Roast turkey would make a great accessory for this beer. However, this was not for me. The more I drank of Buff the less I liked it. The herbs weren't sitting well with me as it had a strong resemblance to gin. Gin and I never got a long. It is pretty interesting and is definitely worth picking up if you're feeling adventurous. I did not get the Stone or Victory versions of this beer, and for me, that's not what I'm calling a loss.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Look at me, Damien!

This is allll for you!

And for you, I mean me. To consume and grade.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A bountiful haul!

Brewery: Souther Tier Brewing Co.
Location:  Lakewood, NY
Name: Harvest
Type: ESB (Extra Special/Strong Bitter)
Initially I was skeptical about enjoying this beer. I didn't like the description that was given to it on the card at the beer store, however, at Tessa's behest I picked it up. I am glad that I did! This was the first ESB I've ever had and I assumed it to be an American Pale Ale due to the massive amounts of hops. What I discovered has left me wanting more! Harvest pours out a slick honey and copper color which produced a massive, egg shell colored head. Lacing began instantly as the head melted back into the glass. My mouth watered almost instantly as I stuck my nose into the bouquet. Holy hops! I got notes of both pine and citrus immediately and further digging produced a sneaky scent of sweet malt. This blended together rather nicely. 12 ounces of pure flavor then attacked my palate. Pine and apricot with a touch of floral showed up to the party first and then immediately at the door behind them was their caramel friend. Earthy tastes showed up. All of that left behind a bitterly hop filled aftertaste. I could drink a lot of this. A lot. It has a great mouthfeel with an adequate amount of carbonation. Each drink left me wanting another and I was disappointed to finish this one off.

Monday, October 11, 2010

To the victor goes the spoils.

Brewery: Victory Brewing Co.
Location: Downingtown, PA
Name: Festbier
Type: Oktoberfest Lager
Victory makes great beer. There. I said it. Festbier is no exception. This rich amber colored beer is probably one of my favorite Oktoberfest beers. It pours nice and smooth and is capped off with a fairly thick, creme colored head. A whiff of this makes me happy. Malt is ever so present as well as a mild hint of caramel and nuts. Add to that the smell of grains and it sounds like it could be an awesome bowl of cereal. Underneath all that is a faint hops smell. A nice amount of carbonation wakes the palate up. The mouthfeel is very light and that's not a bad thing. There is a mild maple flavor that comes through and a subtle amount of spice, almost like pepper and perhaps nutmeg. I also picked up on a bit of an earthy taste which was surprising and not at all off-putting. After taste is a nice balance of grain and toffee...makes for good burps. I'm sad that I was only able to get one bottle of Festbier this year. If you see it and are in the mood for a good example of an Oktoberfest/Marzen type beer then I recommend you celebrate with a Victory. I couldn't make it without a pun. Dammit.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Let it begin...

Folks, I'm going to get real honest with you. Fall and winter provide me with the greatest beer joys anyone can have. Starting with the fest beers and pumpkin ales, supported by celebration ales and rich stouts, and topped off with winter warmers...I'm a big fan of it all. With that being said, I would like to welcome all of you to the two Best Beer Seasons of the 4 Seasons! Fall and Winter for those who weren't paying attention.

Brewery: Starr Hill Brewery
Location: Crozet, VA
Name: Festie
Type: Oktoberfest Lager
Ah, a local! Hard to believe that this is my first Virginian beer post but there will be more to come, I'm sure of it. Festie surprised me. Right out of the bottle it poured an orange-y honey color. I know I use a lot of sunlight imagery but this one fit in with that theme matching the color of the sky as the sun hits the horizon. It produced a nice foamy head that stuck around for a second and then melted back to whence it came. The nose is fairly malty back with a tart, citrus tang. Not the astronaut's choice, however. Upon diving in I was expecting more of a malt flavor but I should have known that the color of this beer would take me down another path. I was greeted quickly with a crisp and tart fruit-like flavor which eventually turned to a fleeting malt flavor and then finishing up with yeasty goodness. I couldn't help but to keep sticking my nose into the glass trying to decipher the bouquet, I kept coming with green apple. Odd. This was not at all what I was expecting out of my first "Octoberfest" beer experience. I wouldn't be surprised if you put this in front of me at a cookout in July and told me some story about how this was an amazing summer brew. However, I did enjoy my time spent with Festie. It's a nice way to celebrate drunkeness for the folks who aren't big on a robust malt flavor!
Brewery: The Brooklyn Brewery
Location: Brooklyn, NY (duh?)
Name: Oktoberfest
Type: Octoberfest Lager
Coming off of Festie, this Brooklyn offering seemed to fit the bill of what I was used to with a fest beer. At first blush this is what a fest beer should look like; rich amber and copper with a light cream colored head. The bouquet does not disappoint giving up a nice dose of malt being backed up with a slight tart after-smell(?). Hop heads be warned, this beer gave no indication that those little nuggets of pine and citrus were even used in the production of this beverage. Malt dominates the flavor right off the bat. You can pick out some caramel flavor but don't expect to be wowed by it. To be perfectly frank there is very little that is amazing on complicated about this flavor profile, it's a perfectly suitable beer. The mouthfeel left something to be desired. I found it to be somewhat watered down with the slightest hint of carbonation. I can't say that I would feel terrible if I ordered something new over this but it is a fairly decent beer. I almost feel like this would be a nice beer to pair with some sort of wurst based meal.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Oh my gourd!

This one requires interaction!!

Just a quick question for ye faithful readers... With the Halloween/Fall season moving full steam ahead, what I would like to know is simple. What is your favorite pumpkin ale? Post a response in the comments section!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

An Austrian powerhouse not named Schwarzenegger.

Brewery: Brauerei Hofstettena
Location: St. Martin, Austria
Named: Seit 1229 (At least that's what I think its name is)
Type: Barleywine
This was another Tessa special...she knows me well!! This majestic import flows freely in the form of a beautiful cascade of dark ruby and brown. Like most barelywines the head on 1229 peaked early with a slight off-white color. Hell of a bouquet on this one, folks! I caught the nose from about 6 feet away from this bad boy. BIG malt gets up in your nostrils and then dances with a mixed fruit potpourri consisting of apples and cherries. Past all that is a slight hint of alcohol, though the alcohol is not the main attraction. Seit 1229 comes in at a respectable 8.3% ABV. In spite of this alcohol content, 1229 is alive with carbonation as little bubbles of happiness leave a pleasant mouthfeel. What's it taste like? Right. Not surprising is the tart and tang of fruit that 1229 starts off with. Once the slightly sour taste fades toffee jumps in for a quick "Hello!" and then bows out gracefully for the strong coffee finish. It really is all like that. I was pleasantly surprised! I found this beer to be incredibly enjoyable. Even with my partial bias towards barleywines I would recommend this beer to just about anyone who falls into 1 of 2 categories; Category 1: They like a good beer and are looking for something new and exciting, or Category 2: A Europhile.

Sidenote: I couldn't find a picture of the label, so you get Johnny Questionmark up there. Also, I spelled Schwarzenegger correctly without the help of the internet, or a copy of Commando.

There can be only one.

Brewery: Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
Location: Milton, DE
Name: Immort Ale
Type: Strong Ale
This, my friends, is the beer version of "the Quickening." It's a decent reference if you don't know what I'm talking about. Immort pours velvety smooth, like liquified chocolate. The glass filled quickly with a dark, honey gold color that would make Midas himself happy. To give a better reference point, the color of the beer matched that of a beer bottle with slightly higher yellow hues. Bad for other immortals, this beer lost its head super early. In fact, it was barely there to begin with. I blame this massive amount of alcohol this beast carries, 11.0% for those keeping score at home. Staying true to what the label says, you will pick up mild hints of vanilla and maple. The nose is that of sweet, syrupy malt laced with dark, tart fruit; similar to that of a barelywine. Your first step will leave you confused and wanting more. I, being the consummate beer journalist that I am, dove in for another mouthful...and another... You do get some vanilla right up front and then blasting through like a bull is a nutty taste. Once you get past the tang there's a wonderful finish consisting of roasted malt and burnt caramel. Making a late showing is the maple...a nice little treat at the end! There isn't a whole lot going on in the carbonation department, but what little it has plays nicely with the flavor profile. Dogfish Head does work! Immort Ale is definitely a masterpiece worth investing in. In fact, I'm willing to bet that this tastes better than anything Picasso ever painted.

Saturday, August 28, 2010


Just wanted to say a quick thanks to those who take the time to read my little slice of internet commentary! 10 votes on the last poll...pint glass owns all other vessels it seems! This week's poll is a little more difficult to vote on, choose carefully!

Still taking suggestions for beers to try. Donations to get those beers in my hand are greatly appreciated! If you need my mailing address, let me know.

In the mean time, enjoy your beer!

Not of this Earth, nor Belgium for that matter.

Two on the docket tonight...
Brewery: Southern Tier Brewing Co.
Location: Lakewood, NY
Name: Un*Earthly
Type: Imperial India Pale Ale
So there it was, positioned on the top shelf, in the corner no less, in the cooler of a local grocery store. A 22oz. bottle of Un*Earthly. It's almost as if the person stocking the cooler didn't want anyone to know they had it in stock. Once I saw it, I knew I had to get one at the behest of no fewer than 2 friends (Thank you Mr. Fischer and Mr. Parker!). I dove in head first. The mug Tessa got me worked wonderfully! It's 20oz. capacity didn't even flinch at the big bottle. The IPA flows from bottle to mug in a cascade of a color that of light maple syrup. The head, albeit thin and modest, was a slight dirty white. The bouquet opens up in a 1-2 punch combination of bold citrus hops and malty booze. No surprise with the booze, the magic word (imperial) brings this behemoth to a whopping 11% ABV. I have to say that this is one of the smoothest feeling beers I've ever had. I actually ingested Un*Earthly at a slightly warmer temperature than usual as the bottle suggests drinking it at 42 degrees. The smooth mouth feel makes this beer incredibly easy to drink and the high alcohol content is barely noticeable. The flavor is out of this world! Yup, I went there...puns are hard to pass up. A complex cadre of pineapple-y yet slightly piney- hops is joined by a support cast of buttery caramel finished off with a nice alcohol finish. This IPA is a big brew! Enjoy in moderation but enjoy when you can!

Brewery: Great Divide Brewing Co.
Location: Denver, CO
Name: Belgica
Type: Belgian-Style India Pale Ale
Though simple, I really dug the label of this bottle. Call me superficial but I liked it. This was another gift from Tessa and I have a sneaking suspicion that she has a pretty good understanding of what I like to drink! Belgica looks like a hazy summer morning, the color of the sun pouring through fog. The head was a stark white which was fairly thin and lost fairly quick. The bouquet was amazing, incredibly diverse. First you get a thick sweet and malty scent which yields to a tart and yeasty aroma finally finishing with a dose of familiar floral and citrus-y hops. The mouth feel was smooth and clean. The flavor profile was pretty amazing. I picked up very slight hints of banana and a large portion of spice. Coriander and ginger came through easily. The hops leave behind a moderately floral finish back by a hint of bitterness. This potent (7.2% ABV) IPA is easy to drink which makes it easy to enjoy. I've had a few Great Divide brews in the past and like those, I would strongly recommend Belgica to anyone interested in a robust flavor profile.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Let's Give Em Sumpin To Talk About...

Brewery: The Lagunitas Brewing Co.
Location: Petaluma, CA
Name: A Little Sumpin' Sumpin'
Type: Ale
I imagine the title of this entry being sung by Will Ferrell. Let it sink in. First, I want to thank Tessa (my case someone who reads this doesn't really know me all that well) for surprising me with some beer. A 4 pack of wonder that contained this magnificent gem from Lagunitas. This beer cascades from bottle to glass in a brilliant light amber with the slightest hint of wheat-like haze. Simply put, it's a pretty beer. I almost felt guilty for drinking it...almost. The head is robust and rapidly disappearing leaving little to no lacing (rings of foam) on the glass. Immediately you will pick up on the very familiar aroma of hops, this one laced with pine and grapefruit with mild notes of peach coming through. As you would expect the taste is close to that of an IPA with its hop heavy, though not overwhelming, taste. The nice thing about Sumpin' Sumpin' is that it has a pleasantly crisp snap to it which leads it to be incredibly smooth, almost as if you were drinking a lighter, wheat based beer. The aftertaste has a sweet (peach again) and mildly bitter taste to it, but it's not off-putting. Even better is that the 7.5% ABV does not come through! Needless to say, too many of these and you'll feel it quickly. BUT! You should all drink one. Immediately. You should all get A Little Sumpin' Sumpin' while you can... Pun intended?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

It has stuff in it!

Brewery: Smuttynose Brewing Company
Location: Portsmouth, NH
Beer: Dry Hopped IPA
Huh? Dry hopped? What does that mean you ask? Well, it means it has bits floating around in it! Sweet, glorious bits of hops! The dry hopping process (adding hops straight into the fermenter after fermentation) enhances the hop aroma and flavor to the max. This IPA comes out with a splash of hazy, somewhat orange-yellow color and is capped off nicely with creamy, robust head that peaks nicely. You don't even have to get your nose close to the glass to catch the ever-so-lovely citrusy pine hops wafting up. I like to think that one day I will eventually educate myself enough to be able to ascertain the different nuances of the many types of hops...until then I will continue to drink beer in hopsignorance. The nicest thing about this beer is that its super smooth, even with such a strong bouquet. You don't even get attacked upfront with harsh hops, instead you get a mild yeasty flavor supplemented by grapefruit. The grapefruit will eventually intensify and leave you with a mouth watering for another drink. The sediment in the bottle may throw some people off but this IPA is totally worth a shot or 2. Plus, the dudes on the label look like they can throw down...and you wouldn't want to disappoint them by not drinking good beer, right?

Saturday, July 31, 2010

You've reached the Beer Consumption Hotline, please make a request.

Ok, so I changed the layout. Well, not so much the layout, but the color scheme. I can only assume that that was what the strong majority of you (3) disliked so much about it. In any case...allow me to get to my point.

I'm curious as to what beers you guys would like me to take to task. I'm pretty daring and will honor all suggestions. Just don't be offended if you request your favorite and I skewer it, those are just the risks you all will have to be willing to take. I'm curious to see what you guys come up with. Just leave it in the comments section to this post and I'll see what I can do.

Don't let me down! I welcome all challenges! Do your worst.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Not as long, nor as interesting, as the Stephen King novel...I'm guessing.

Brewery: Tommyknocker Brewery and Pub
Location: Idaho Springs, CO
Beer: Imperial Nut Brown Ale
Type: It's an imperial nut brown ale. What do you want from me??
I like the word "imperial" in front of beers. It's usually a good sign it'll knock you flat on your ass if you aren't careful. Tommyknocker got my attention straight away with "imperial" in big, bold letters on its label and then they threw in the kicker..."Brewed with pure maple syrup!" WHAT?! Ok, my arm was easily twisted. As you would expect, this beer tumbled out a rich brown color, maybe mahogany? The head wasn't as dark as I had expected it and if you looked away quick enough the head would be up and gone before you realized. I didn't pick up any maple syrup in the bouquet but I did get a thick malt fragrance. More perplexing, I picked up hints of tarty fruit, almost smelled like an apple. This beer didn't really do a whole lot for me. The mouthfeel was crisp and light which is saying a lot for a 9.0% abv brew. But what threw me off was the complete lack of robust flavor. The tart smell transfers to a tart first taste with maple BARELY creeping in on the back end. I was left with an incredibly boozy aftertaste which, in and of itself isn't terrible, it's just that I wanted more of that roasted malt and maple that I was promised! Had I not taken notes on this beer I would be hard pressed to give details about. Overall? Unpleasantly underwhelming.

Turtle in a turbin.

Brewery: Terrapin Beer Co.
Location: Athens, GA
Beer: Hop Karma
Type: Brown IPA
I know what most of you are thinking, a brown IPA? These things shouldn't be a such a surprise...especially if you've had a black IPA...see bashah. In any case this beer pours a gorgeous chestnut brown color with the slightest hints of red. The cream colored head caps off the brown nicely and spends a fair amount of time hanging around. I like beers that foam up nicely, I'm a fan of the rings they leave on the glass. One might think that because this is an IPA hops will be the first thing that makes its way to the nose, however, there is a pleasant malty nose with only the slightest notes of hops. Once I finished admiring the color of Hop Karma I was delighted find a supremely refreshing beer with a crisp, clean mouthfeel. The hops come through right out of the gate and eventually make way for the star of the show. You get a nice splash of "brown" flavors. And by brown flavors I mean roasted malt with a coffee-esque follow through. The roasted malt flavor tricks the palate into believing there's a somewhat nutty taste to it, mixed with the hops, I found all of the flavors working wonderfully together. Hop Karma comes in at 6.0% which makes it terribly enjoyable and a perfect combination for foods that may have a hint of heat to them. Break free from you IPA slavery! Try this brown IPA today!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Tunnel vision

Kind of like that Metallica song...
Brewery: Left Hand Brewing Co.
Location: Longmount, CO
Beer: Fade to Black
Type: "Foreign export stout." Or, stout.
Coming off of bashah, I wasn't sure what to expect. Would my tastebuds be fit to handle another round of liquid black hole? Because that's how this beer poured. Could my palate handle another round of flavor bombardment? I mean, who am I to pass up a challenge?? Tessa grabbed this one at Total Wine and More (because she thought it had a fancy label) and felt I should put it through the ringer. Happily, I obliged. I'd like to take the time to say that my selection time has not gotten any quicker, but thankfully Tessa humors me. In any case, let me tell you about Fade to Black. You like Guinness? Do you wish Guinness had some more flavor to it? Ok. Good. Here's what we've got. Fade to Black pours black as coal and leaves a modest, light chocolate milk colored head. You get a nice whiff of roasted malt right off the bat. Not shocking it has a very low carbonation level, as is common with stouts. That low level of carbonation does nicely to not interfere with tastes. Strong black coffee comes first with a slight tinge of bitter and gives way to a modest roasted malt flavour. Flavour? How'd that "u" get in there? That was pretty English of me...anywho... Mild hops show up and take over. Fade to Black does not yield as thick a mouthfeel as its color would make you believe, which is fine by me and easily makes this an "all year beer." Sadly, this is considered a winter brew for the folks at Left Hand. Twice as strong as Guinness at 8.5% and more flavorful, if you can get this, do so!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

I was awash in a sea of black

And there it was...ready to devour some part of my soul.
Brewery: Brewdog Ltd.
Location: Fraserburgh, Scotland
Beer: bashah
Type: "The Black Belgian style Double IPA."
Dear. Lord. I felt like this beer required, nay, DEMANDED some sort of ceremonial procedure of sacrifice upon its opening. I half expected a plume of smoke to rise from the bottle. I wanted notes of sulfur, hellfire, AND brimstone. What I got was liquid awesome. First things first, this is not your run of the mill IPA. In fact, there's nothing pale about this beast. With a color as black as Death's cloak and a persistent thin, tan head that reminds you of grave rot, this beer lets you know that it ain't anyone's bitch. And I say that with the utmost respect for this Stone/Brewdog concoction. Olfactory receptors let me know that deep inside this brew lies a rich roasted flavor...malt has been given to this dark lord in vast quantities. Hops and caramel come through quite nicely as well. All of those flavors laced with a toasted oaky scent. It's easy to think that this beer will invade your mouth like used motor oil, however, this beer lives up the IPA name and comes off nice and crisp. Real sturdy carbonation and then...BANG! Hello hops! Oh, hey coffee, didn't taste you there. Wait? Roasted and toasted caramel treats too?! Oh man, my palate is confused. But...I love you. bashah spreads its demonic wings and soars over your taste buds making you want to drink more and more. Do so with caution as 8.6% ABV waits for no one. If you come across this and  you're feeling daring, don't punk out. Cry havoc and let slip this brew!

A Sailor's Delight?

Brewery: Clipper City Brewing
Location: Baltimore, MD
Beer: Heavy Seas Red Sky at Night
Type: Saison Ale - French for "season," you'll find that most of these are refreshing summer ales.
Let me start by commending Clipper City Brewing for their Heavy Seas line. I'm a big fan of a number of their brews (expect to see reviews in the future) and I was very excited to try this for the first time. For the most part, Heavy Seas tend to be on the higher ABV side and Red Sky was no slouch with a 7.5% ABV...always excited to see a number above 5. The ale comes out a flawless golden honey color with little to no head. I'm not kidding, it barely foamed. It's hard not to notice the cascade of happy carbonation bubbles coursing through the glass. I was surprised with a big whiff of spice notes when I stuck my nose in my glass. Nutmeg and clove come through pretty strong. Past the lips is a different story. The spice gives way to a sweet, fruity first taste. Fruit subsides and the subtle spice and malt takes over, which makes for pleasant burps! This beer is indeed better for warmer weather. One may be taken aback by the slightly higher ABV but fear not, this beer is surprisingly refreshing. I did feel that it was lacking something. I wish I could be a little more descriptive than saying I felt it needed a little more body to it, but I can't quite put a finger on it. Red Sky at Night is pretty good overall but it is by far not the best Heavy Seas beer I've had.

And for what it's worth, pirates would make for better pizza delivery drivers than ninjas.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

I think I'm turning Japanese

I really think so...
Brewery: Kuichi Brewery
Location: Ibaraki, Japan
Beer: Hitachino Nest Commemorative Ale 2010
Type: Ale, more specifically a "festive ale brewed with vanilla beans and spices."
I drank this for my birthday. I figured what better an occasion to drink a commemorative ale than my own personal birthday? The cute owl on the label should have been a warning sign that indicated huge flavor is packed in this 12oz bottle. The pour looks like a hazy orange-yellow unfiltered beer. It would be easy to mistake this as Blue Moon if you were just looking at it and had no intention of tasting it. Let me tell you, this is no Blue Moon. The slow falling, creamy off-white head covers up a bounty of exciting flavors. The sharp, piquancy of yeast is ever present and accompanied with great success by whiffs of orange peel. One mouthful gets you a smorgasbord of sweet flavors. Vanilla right off the bat (no surprise as it's noted right there on the label) lends way to subtle cinnamon and orange. I almost thought I picked up some nutmeg in there as well. Surprisingly, this beer leaves a fairly bitter aftertaste, but it is not so bad that you'll have to worry about running around with bitter beer face for the rest of the night. I would have no problem drinking another one of these. It feels lighter on the tongue than it's 8.0% ABV would make you think it would, which is never a terrible thing. Grab one of these if you're feeling adventurous and are looking for something slightly outside of the norm... Until next time...Sayonara!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

A good case of the D.T's.

I see pink elephants...
Brewery: Huyghe Brewery
Location: Melle/Ghent, Belgium
Name: Delirium Tremens
Type: Belgian Strong Pale Ale
In case you were wondering, "delirium tremens," or the DT's as they are sometimes called, is a severe form of alcohol withdrawal that involves sudden and severe mental/neurological changes. Symptoms include tremors, seizures, and a whole slew of other fun brain reactions! Drink enough of this stuff and it's bound to happen! You might have seen this on the shelf before. It's the pretty white bottle with the pale blue label and matching blue foil on the cap. This beauty of a beer spills out in a golden pear colored cascade. Its quick rising head peaks strongly and then fades quickly. Right off the bat you inhale a sweet, yet tart, fruit bouquet that is mixed nicely with that almost sour, yet awesomely great, burst of yeast. This beer is unique in that it has a dry finish that I would compare to champagne. There are faint hints of spice to it, but I have a mildly retarded sense of taste/smell and couldn't quite identify it. DT comes in at a solid 8.5% ABV and lets you know it. Tessa loved this beer! I thought it was pretty damn good, however, I could not drink many of these in succession as its tart nature would undoubtedly leave me dealing with heartburn.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Southern Tier in the North?

A treat from my dad who went on business to New York!
Brewery: Southern Tier Brewing Co.
Location: Lakewood, NY
Name: ipa
Type: This one is escaping...can't quite categorize it...
Yay IPA!I like India Pale Ales. I mean, you could say I like most types of beer. I like beer. There, I said it. Happy now? In any case this was a pretty good beer. My only exposure to Southern Tier had been their Pumpking Ale (expect a ton of those in a special pumpkin beer throw-down edition of Little Boy Brew in the fall months) which I had enjoyed quite thoroughly so I was looking forward to this gem. Twelve ounces of fluid evening sunlight with bronze accents poured a massive, foamy, long lasting head in my pint glass. The nose is rich and grapefruit-y, pine notes of hops accompany the citrus salad. It's not as "in your face" with the hops as an Imperial IPA is, though. One would expect a harsh tongue out of this beer, but it wasn't bad at all! It's a milder IPA with a forgiving mouthfeel, nice and clean with no unhappy leftbehinds. You get the hops right up front and then a nice transition to the grapefruit and then back to the hops. You really get a taste of the hops in the aftertaste which leads to pine flavored burps! This beer is super flavorful and definitely someone should look into if they have yet to fully appreciate a good IPA. I did enjoy this one out of the bottle a little bit more, however. Yet it's just too pretty to not look at in a glass!

Any which way but Wychcraft

Have another round on me.

Brewery: Wychwood Brewery
Location: Witney, Oxford, England
Name: Wychcraft
Type: Blonde Ale
I've got to be honest, I've seen this several times and passed over it several times. Not sure why I passed it up, it just sort of happened. I always liked the way the bottle was shaped (big bottle coming in at 500ml) and the label is pretty good looking. It has the four elements depicted in each corner of the label. It's a nice looking label. But really, it's what inside that counts. The beer pours a somewhat hazy gold color with a mild reddish hue. Not much by way of foam action though. The bouquet gives you a barely there citrus scent with a mild hops aroma. Getting into it I found the taste to be a little disappointing. It has a mild taste...kind of sour. There's a hint of carbonation and came off feeling and tasting a little watered down. The aftertaste was an interesting mix of biscuits and quickly vanishing citrus. By no means is this a terrible beer but it is one that I would pass up in favor of something new. Looking back, it seems my negligence in picking this beer up was not a misstep.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Beer and a movie.

Or a movie about beer. Specifically the brewing industry and what it means to you!
Beer Wars: Brewed in America
A film by Anat Baron.
I suggest everyone who drinks beer take a look at this. It's streaming instantly on Netflix and is worth sitting through for an hour and half. It's a telling expose on the beer industry in America. Quite informative and not at all preachy or dry. You get a good sense of what the good people are doing, ie. the Microbrewers and what the bad folks at big beer are doing, ie. Anhueser Busch. A true David v. Goliath in 12oz portions. Beer Wars does a good job exposing the "Big 3" for what they are, advertising giants with little personality and creativity. It's not preachy, just exposing. I found it to be eyeopening and entertaining. Make no mistake, it's a documentary but it's not dry nor is it inflammatory a la Michael Moore. It's just good stuff. It helps to watch while drinking some of your favorite microbrews and celebrating the efforts of the little guys out there trying to change the profile of American beer.

Heads up!

I know, it's been a month. But I have good reason! I started working out? My carbonated carbohydrate intake has reduced significantly...barring a trip to the Bier Garden. I was enjoying myself so much that I didn't even take a second to fully critique what I was drinking. In fact, I just drank. And it was delightful. In any case, I owe here it goes...
Brewery: Full Sail Brewing Co.
Location: Hood River, OR
Name: Session Lager
Beer: I think it's best described as "lager."
Don't let the little bottle fool you. This isn't Red Stripe, regardless of your first bottle impressions. Points go to the brewery for having a picture of a rock on the underside of the cap. Not sure why it's there, but I like it. I gave it to Tessa...she is a geologist after all. This little lager pours a rich, golden color unlike most "American lagers," which seem to be pretty pale in comparison. It is fairly easy to see through, but that doesn't mean it's a weak beer by any means. Some nice foam action on the head, however, it does come up a little thin. Nice splash of yeasty, tang on first drink which allows for a crisp, clean finish. ABV is a solid 5.1% and I can fully understand ones want to drink several of these on a hot summer day. In fact, I would say that this beer would be perfect with something like Buffalo wings. This 11oz. hand-grenade gets right to the point and doesn't really mix its message. If you like shitty American "cold filtered, triple hopped, fresh from the Rockies, etc." then I implore you, find this beer and drink immediately. I realize that you might not be too familiar with the concept of taste, so take it easy at first. And if you cannot fully appreciate what this beer does to your tastebuds, then by all means, go back to your swill.

Brewery: Lagunitas Brewing Co.
Location: Petaluma, CA
Name: The Hairy case you were wondering, the definition of a "hairy eyeball" is: a glance made with partially lowered eyelids. This usually indicates suspicion or hostility but may signal other emotions too.
Beer: Ale
I'm going to go ahead and say it, I bought this because of the name. I had no intention of not buying this beer. In fact, this probably could have been a lambic and I still would have purchased it. Thankfully, it was delicious! One of the nice things about Lagunitas is that on every label it clearly tells you how to pronounce the brewery, lest you sound like a fool the next time you order. The pour gives you the color of rich mahogany. And leather bound books. The head vanished quickly, seems to be the case with all of the beers I've reviewed so far. But worry not, the juggernaut (Beerishnakov) is coming! Your nose is quickly filled with a strong malt fragrance. Pure delight! Diving right in you'll pick up on that malt flavor with a quick rush of dark chocolate to follow. Once ingested, one might pick up on a toasty, roasted flavor that brings the sensation of caramel forward. I could describe the flavor profile as complex and deep...instead I'll call it damn fantastic. Mild carbonation leaves a smooth mouthfeel without it feeling like it has been coated with paraffin wax. The 8.8% ABV and warm feelings this beer leaves you with is probably best enjoyed during colder months or whenever you want a really good American strong ale.