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!