Monday, January 30, 2012

Not quite a cybernetic organism.

Brewery: Smuttynose Brewing Co.
Location: Portsmouth, NH
Name: S'muttonator
Type: Double Bock
ABV: 8.5%
I almost went with the title "There ain't s'mutton wrong with a little bump and grind." But this is a "BIG BEER" and it made me think of the Terminator. So there you have it. Sorry R. Kelly pun fans, you're going to have to wait. This double bock beer is a bold and boisterous beer. It's the color of a dark and sinful caramel that has a nice hint of crimson to it. I will say that this is one of the few times when it's good to have a thick head. This bock produced a bountiful beige banner that ever-so-gently retreats into the liquid from which it sprang. The bouquet is pleasing to the nose and does a really good job with getting the mouth watering. You don't have to get your face too deep into S'muttonator to pick up on the wonderful aromas of mega malts and dark, caramelized fruits. One might even pick up on a hint of raisins that have been stored in a slightly smoked barrel. Trust me, that smells better than the description may convey. S'muttonator is fairly light on the tongue with a nice amount of carbonation to it. Almost has a soda-like feel to it, just not as harsh. Malt pushes the door open when it comes to taste. There's a nuttiness to this beer that I didn't get in the nose. The dark fruits (cherry, plum, raisin) add a nice amount of layered sweetness to the malt. That smokiness comes through towards the back end and the finish is a delicious combination of caramel and toffee butting heads with a tinge of alcohol. This is a wonderful beer to help keep you warm. It's moderately high alcohol content doesn't distract, either. Sure you can feel it and taste it a little but it helps cut through the sweetness you'll get from the malt. When I'm drinking a beer like this I'm glad I have a mustache because these flavors are definite savers.

Hasta la beersta, baby!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Bourbon? More like bour-bomb!

Brewery: Du Claw Brewing Co.
Location: Abingdon, MD
Name: Retribution
Type: Imperial Stout aged in bourbon barrels
ABV: 9%
The best part about being a beer lover and participating in Christmas? You get really awesome beers as gifts. This beer is one of those gifts. You know how that one "beer" company has "born on dates?" Well, Du Claw slaps a "Date in Barrel/Date out of Barrel" right on the front of this beer. According to my label, 3/11/2011 was the in date and 9/19/2011 was the out date. Furthermore, this stout was housed in barrel 04 of 20. These little touches make me happy about what can transpire. Between the type of beer, the sweet label, and attention to detail I am eager to partake in this beer and disseminate my findings. Retribution stout is stoutly. No light passing through this one. A tan colored head doesn't last for long and surprisingly, I heard a little bit of carbonation. My gut feeling was that this beer was going to be pretty viscous. Do you like bourbon? Cause damn! I got bourbon as soon as I popped the cap off and knew I was in for a treat. Once in a glass the bourbon gives way to super dark malt notes, some hints of chocolate, and the lightest of light vanilla scents. But really bourbon is the show stealer. You know that shiver you get when you drink something really good? Yep, totally got one of those. Retribution is a train wreck of flavor (in a good way). As poignant as the bourbon is in the bouquet it definitely does not dominate the entire taste of this beer. You get some nice striations of sapidity out of this beer. Past bourbon you get a nice burst of chocolate beefed up by natural vanilla flavor. The taste of the oak barrel comes through in the form of a nice, woody tang. One might even come up with the faintest hint of soy sauce. Ultimately finishing with the warming sensation of a boozey bourbon but nothing like a straight bourbon. The finish is nicely bitter but there is a stodgy sweetness that truly prevents this beer from something that you may drink back to back. Definitely a beer to savor over a period of time. This beer is a bit of an investment as well. Not a cheapy which is OK when you consider the quality of the product. Drink with caution! Do not chug this beer. In fact, if you drink this 22oz. bomber in less than 30-45 minutes I'm not so sure I want to be associated with you! Think about that for a minute.

Du. Du hast. Du hast mich, Du Claw.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

So fresh and so clean, clean.

Brewery: Great Divide Brewing Co.
Location: Denver, CO
Name: Fresh Hop
Type: Pale Ale
ABV: 6.1%
Sad news for good beer drinkers who live in the Tidewater area of Virginia...Great Divide beers are going to become nigh impossible to find. Something to do with local distributors no longer supplying the bodacious beers I have come to know and enjoy. That being said, this is the first of 3 beers from Great Divide that came from the brewery in Denver! A souvenir from my lovely fiance, Tessa. Fresh Hop looks like warm honey got into a cuddle fight with tea and a setting sun. I'm sorry for using the phrase "cuddle fight." If you've stopped reading already, I can't blame you. If you're soldering on, I love you. There's a generous and crisp white head that has staying power. I wanted to say this head has legs but when was the last time you saw a head with legs? As pleasant to the eyes this beer may be it delivers a heartwarming sensation through both of your nostrils. Even several feet away the scintillating notes of citrusy hops waft freely about. Getting in closer to it you will pick up a hint of floral grassy freshness that will make your mouth water. If it doesn't I'm not so sure we can be friends. There is also a ever-so-faint sweetness that lingers at the back of the bouquet. I've been to the promised land... This pale ale, SO CLEAN! It's not hyper aggressive like an imperial IPA. Oh no, friends. This freshly hopped pale ale is delectable. The hops of grass and citrus are up front and tease only slightly of pine. An undeniable sweetness is there but it is by no means cloying. Think of a lightly lemon zested graham cracker. The finish is light and airy with a hopped up flowery piquancy. That leggy head I was going on about? It gripped to the side of the glass as if it had the intention of bursting through it and living life as a sentient wad of foam. Sentient wad of foam was my wrestling nickname in high school, by the way. Before I go even further off the rails, as this beer has turned my brain into mush (the good kind)... YOU MUST FIND THIS AND CONSUME IT! Soak in its beauty! Drink. It. Up!

A hip hop ya don't stop. Seriously, don't stop these hops. If you do, I will cut you.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Lay it on me, Brother.

Brewery: North Coast Brewing Co.
Location: Fort Bragg, CA
Name: Brother Thelonious
Type: Belgian style Abbey Ale
ABV: 9.4%
It's only fitting that a beer named after jazz music legend Thelonious Monk be an abbey ale. Hell, it's the guys namesake! And honestly, the label is pretty rad too. The halo of the 88 ivories, the sweet beard, nice RayBans, and a skull make one think this beer will be a wonderful trip to Flavor City. The opening act is a wonderful mahogany (Ron Burgundy would be proud) color with glints of auburn throughout. The khaki colored head foams up full, bubbles a bit, and then glides slowly to the edge of the beer and nestles nicely against the glass. The bouquet is full and inviting. You get a strong presence of dark fruits and rich caramel. Spices and pepper weigh in strong but aren't heavy-handed. Malt and molasses are the foundation on which all of these smells rest. It is a little more carbonated than I was expecting and leaves a pretty clean mouthfeel. Malt is plentiful in the molassy-caramely sweetness form. The dark fruits aren't as prevalent but the spices pop up nicely. The whole flavor profile is pervaded by the almost harsh yet completely warming alcohol content. I was hoping that the transition would have been a bit more subdued but alas, not every high ABV beer can hide its boozy nature flawlessly. The big booze on the end might cause some conflict with folks. While fairly flavorful, a hard alcohol ending can be slightly off-putting unless you're prepared for it. So, consider yourself warned! The Brother Monk does not mess around. This ale will warm you quickly and deliver a pretty good abbey ale experience. Just don't expect to fall in love with it on your first go around, unless you're that easy. In which case, you beer hussy!

Would've given it a 3.5 and that ain't no jive!